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Friday News: Climate heroes

GRETA THUNBERG IN CHARLOTTE TODAY TO SUPPORT 14 YEAR-OLD ACTIVIST MARY STEVENS: A visit to Charlotte on Friday by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg will focus new attention on climate change. But for months, a local student has also clamored for action in lonely vigils outside the city’s halls of power. Each Friday since February, Myers Park High School ninth-grader Mary Ellis Stevens, 14, sometimes joined by a few friends, has held “climate strikes” outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. Mary Ellis’ strikes are part of a global phenomenon. An estimated 4 million young people worldwide, including hundreds in Charlotte, poured into the streets for climate protests on Sept. 20. Friday’s event will be from noon to 2 p.m. outside the government center. Thunberg and Mary Ellis were aware of each other through social media, Mary Ellis said, but not until Wednesday had they directly communicated: I’m coming to join you in Charlotte this Friday, Thunberg wrote in a message.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article237110839.html

Thursday News: Milking the donors

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BERGER USES CAMPAIGN FUNDS TO PAY HIS MORTGAGE: Berger bought the townhouse in question for $250,000 in 2016, property records show. In a copy of his complaint shared with The News & Observer, Hall said that since then Berger has taken, via an LLC he controls, more than $55,000 from his campaign to pay for the house. Berger “is using his campaign fund like a piggy bank,” Hall said at the news conference. “Unless the State Board of Elections takes action, politicians will continue to profit handsomely by funneling campaign contributions to themselves, directly or indirectly, to pay for inflated expenses and subsidized assets,” Hall wrote in his complaint. The complaint also says Berger has charged his campaign more than $100,000 in recent years for rent and other expenses at his law firm in Eden, through a different LLC he controls. Campaign finance records show Berger typically pays himself $3,000 a month in rent from his campaign — $1,500 each for his law office and his Raleigh townhouse.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article237052589.html

Wednesday News: Durham bullish on affordable housing

MAYOR STEVE SCHEWEL AND $95 MILLION HOUSING BOND FAVORED BY SUPERMAJORITY: Durham Mayor Steve Schewel easily won election to a second term Tuesday, and voters also overwhelmingly approved the city issuing $95 million in bonds to help create more affordable housing. With all precincts reporting, Schewel outdistanced Sylvester Williams, a minister making his fourth run for Durham mayor, by an 83 to 16 percent margin, according to unofficial results. Affordable housing was one of Schewel's top priorities in the campaign, and the bond referendum was approved by a 76 to 24 percent margin. City Council members Jillian Johnson, Charlie Reece and Javiera Caballero all won re-election in a six-person race for three at-large council seats.
https://www.wral.com/durham-affordable-housing-bonds-pass-mayor-re-elected/18746416/

Monday News: Unexcused absence

TILLIS IS A NO-SHOW AT KAY HAGAN'S MEMORIAL SERVICE: Former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan was remembered Sunday as a woman who brought tireless energy and passion to her job, her family and her faith. More than a thousand people filled Greensboro’s First Presbyterian Church to honor Hagan, who died last week at 66 after a three-year battle with encephalitis, caused by Powassan virus. The crowd included five of Hagan’s Senate colleagues: Sen. Richard Burr, an N.C. Republican, Democratic Sen. and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and three former Democratic senators, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. The service came almost 11 years to the day that Hagan defeated Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole to win election to the Senate and five years after she lost the seat to Republican Thom Tillis in what was then the nation’s most expensive Senate race.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article236823213.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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UNC BOARD'S FOCUS SHOULD BE EDUCATIONAL EXCELLENCE, NOT LEGISLATIVE FEALTY: A dozen members of the UNC board – fully half of its members – carry the very real potential to be compromised and become puppets of the legislative leadership. Years ago there were various criteria and categories legislators were required to follow in their election of UNC board members. There were even candidate nominations and fierce campaigns within the General Assembly to win a coveted slot. We are not about to suggest that the old was optimal. But the evolution has NOT been an improvement. To achieve more diversity and less fealty to the legislature, give the governor the authority to appoint a third – eight members -- of the board. Even in circumstances where the governor and legislature’s majority may share political party the clear difference in interests would bring about a broader board.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-unc-board-s-focus-should-be-educational-excellence-not-legislative-fe...

Saturday News: Impasse

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MARATHON SESSION ADJOURNS WITH NO NEW BUDGET: "It’s unfortunate that the General Assembly left town passing a sweeping corporate tax cut while leaving teachers with a pay raise much less than other state employees," Cooper said Friday. During the budget impasse, lawmakers passed a series of so-called "mini-budgets" to get new money to various agencies and programs. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger
said Thursday that the various measures account for 98.5 percent of what was in the vetoed budget. Although Cooper complained about the piecemeal process, he has signed many of the proposals into law. The teacher pay raise bill cleared the legislature Thursday, but Cooper wouldn't say Friday whether he would sign it or veto it to force more negotiations.
https://www.wral.com/long-legislative-session-fails-to-produce-state-budget/18738654/

Friday News: Penny-Pinching Phil

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NC SENATE STRIPS FUNDING FROM HOUSE DISASTER BILL: The nearly $280 million package included $30 million for the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resilience to aid local governments in recovery from the hurricanes, $32 million to enhance laser-made topographical maps of North Carolina and $15 million for Golden L.E.A.F. to provide disaster grants to governments and nonprofits, among others. That bill was not the one voted on in the Senate on Thursday, with the body instead considering and ultimately approving a different Storm Recovery Act of 2019. The Senate effort included $70.8 million to provide matching dollars for Hurricane Florence recovery projects funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s public assistance program, as well as $31.7 million for similar projects that are part of the recovery from Hurricanes Matthew, Michael and Dorian. The House voted 106-0 not to concur with the Senate and appointed a conference committee led by McGrady.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article236869443.html

Thursday News: Divide and conquer

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GOP IS NOW TRYING TO BLATANTLY BRIBE SENATE DEMS TO OVERRIDE: Republicans in the General Assembly are offering Democrats a deal that would mean raises for teachers and some other state employees if the state budget becomes law. North Carolina teachers could get the 3.9% raises over the next two years that are in the state budget, which includes step increases for longevity, or an additional raise that would bring the total raise to 4.4% if Democrats vote with Republicans to override the governor’s veto of the budget, Republican General Assembly leaders announced Wednesday. The bill will be considered by the legislature on Thursday, Oct. 31, the day the Senate previously announced it would adjourn for a few weeks or more.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article236823563.html

Wednesday News: Don't be a dick, Burr

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RICHARD BURR COMES UNDER FIRE FOR WANTING TO TAX ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS: From a Playboy reporter to the publisher of a conservative magazine, Burr drew fierce pushback on Tuesday for a tweet about how the government should treat student-athletes. “If college athletes are going to make money off their likenesses while in school, their scholarships should be treated like income. I’ll be introducing legislation that subjects scholarships given to athletes who choose to ‘cash in’ to income taxes.” Roughly an hour after Burr tweeted, his comment generated 6,000 responses -- most of them negative -- and less than 900 “likes.” The criticism came from the left and the right. “You could sell a t-shirt with your own smiling face on it to your friends and (Burr) would want to tax your scholarship. What a stupid backwards garbage idea,” tweeted Ben Domenech, co-founder of The Federalist, a conservative website.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article236789618.html

Tuesday News: Better start drawing...

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NC'S CONGRESSIONAL MAPS THROWN OUT BY 3-JUDGE PANEL: The legislature must now redraw the state’s 13 U.S. House districts. The judge — two Democrats and one Republican from different parts of North Carolina — wrote that the maps show signs of “extreme partisan gerrymandering” which “is contrary to the fundamental right of North Carolina citizens to have elections conducted freely and honestly to ascertain, fairly and truthfully, the will of the people.” Monday’s ruling, a preliminary injunction, said the state may not hold any elections for Congress using the current maps passed in 2016. Those maps replaced a different set of maps from 2011, also drawn by the Republican-led legislature, which were struck down as unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. The judges ruled that if there aren’t new maps in time for the primary elections on March 3 then they could delay all or some of the primaries until later in 2020.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article236752543.html

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