BlueNC's blog

Friday News: Wrong time, wrong place

bluenccup-1[1]_0.jpg

ROWAN COUNTY FORCED TO PAY ACLU LEGAL BILLS OVER GOVERNMENT PRAYER: A federal judge found the way the Rowan County Commission prayed before public meetings unconstitutional. An appeals court eventually agreed and the Supreme Court last summer declined to hear the case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, federal court records show. Now the county will have to pay the ACLU’s legal bills for the five-year legal fight: $285,000. On Monday, County Commission members voted to pay the bill, the Salisbury Post reports. The lawsuit dates back to 2013 when three Rowan County residents sued the county commission over the public prayer at the beginning of each meeting, according to court filings. The commission chair or members give a prayer at the beginning of each meeting, the lawsuit says, and over six years 97 percent of prayers were Christian. An appeals court sided with the residents, represented by the ACLU, in 2017.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article224219600.html

Thursday News: Suppressing the press

REPORTERS FORCED INTO THE BASEMENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: For 56 years, ever since the Legislative Building opened, media organizations have had workspace across the hall from where news conferences are held and downstairs from the House and Senate chambers. But that's about to change, and legislative leaders don't want to talk about why. Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble has decided to move the press to a smaller space in the basement in the farthest corner of the building. "[It's] as distant from the action as you could possibly be, which will make it harder for reporters to keep tabs on what's going on in the building," said Colin Campbell, editor of NC Insider, a state government news service. "We'll be farther from the floor when there's a meeting called with very little notice, and there'll be a reduction in space, which will mean fewer reporters have dedicated space." Asked about the move Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said it's up to Coble.
https://www.wral.com/media-getting-squeezed-at-legislative-building/18113846/

Wednesday News: Public money, private profits

moorepuckered.jpg

TIM MOORE AIDE PRESSURED DEQ OVER GRANT FOR POLLUTION CLEANUP: In March 2016, a top aide to House Speaker Tim Moore asked a state Department of Environmental Quality official about two underground storage tanks removed from a former chicken processing plant in Siler City that was up for sale. One of those tanks had leaked gas. “Mitch Gillespie is asking about the status of the Siler City UST (underground storage tank) issue,” Caroline Daly, DEQ’s legislative liaison, wrote in the March 2, 2016, email to the section chief who oversees underground tank regulations. “Do you know what this is about and can give me an update to share?” That triggered several emails within the department. Within hours, DEQ officials reported back that the site had the green light for entry into a state program that subsidizes the cleanup costs for underground tanks. Daly then relayed the decision to Gillespie so he could pass it along to the property owners, who ultimately received $22,000 from the state. Among them: his boss, Speaker Moore.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article223925075.html

Tuesday News: Stolen valor

AG JOSH STEIN SUPPORTS CHALLENGE OF COLUMBUS COUNTY SHERIFF: Republican Jody Greene unseated then-Columbus County Sheriff and Democrat Lewis Hatcher by just 34 votes this fall. Several protests of those results are pending with the state Board of Elections. Under state law and the North Carolina Constitution, an election shall not be certified while such petitions are pending. Nonetheless, Columbus County officials swore in Jody Greene as sheriff last month. A state elections board spokesman said Greene should not have been sworn in and that Hatcher should still be Columbus County sheriff. A petition against his victory includes charges that absentee ballots were mishandled by L. McRae Dowless. Dowless is the campaign operative at the heart of the investigation into alleged election fraud in North Carolina's 9th congressional district. The North Carolina Attorney General's office authorized Hatcher's attorney to file a superior court complaint on behalf of the state.
http://www.wunc.org/post/constitutional-crisis-could-be-brewing-columbus-county

Monday News: Crooked Creek blues

SPARKS WILL FLY AT WAKE COMMISSIONERS MEETING OVER SALE OF PARKLAND: This proposal will likely be supported by board Chairwoman Jessica Holmes and Commissioner James West. They, along with Ford, were the three votes against purchasing the property last summer. Commissioners Matt Calabria and Sig Hutchinson, long-time supporters of the proposed park, will likely oppose selling it. Ford has called selling the property a correction to “an unprecedented and controversial action.” Calabria and Hutchinson have said buying the property $45,000 below market value was an excellent deal to help bring a park into an area where there are no county parks currently. That leaves both factions trying to win over new commissioners Vickie Adamson and Susan Evans. It’s just their second meeting as commissioners, and neither has said how she’ll vote. But last year’s contentious primary might give people an idea.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article223923295.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

editorialprinting.jpg

PLAYGROUND ANTICS DON'T HELP RESOLVE REAL WORRIES ABOUT ELECTION CONDUCT: Their behavior has been erratic. In less than a month, they and other GOP leaders have: Demanded the Republican candidate Mark Harris be declared the winner; Supported a delay in certification of a winner pending a full investigation; Said the alleged improper activity tainted the Republican primary so there needed to be a full do-over and; Now, again, demanding Harris be certified the election winner. In a silly statement Hayes said if he didn’t get his way he wouldn’t play, refusing to allow ANY Republican to take part in the interim Elections Board Democrat Cooper was forming. He took to playground name-calling. While most rational folks would say the latest evidence suggests drawing any conclusion about the Ninth District election now is premature, Woodhouse threw a tantrum on CNN declaring that the state Board of Elections was looking to “take away an election victory earned by Mr. (Mark) Harris and the Republican Party at the ballot box.”
https://www.wral.com/editorial-playground-antics-don-t-help-resolve-real-worries-about-election-cond...

Saturday News: Gerrymandering saga continues

gerrymanderingnc.png

US SUPREME COURT WILL TAKE ON NC PARTISAN REDISTRICTING IN MARCH: The Supreme Court is plunging back into the issue of whether electoral districts can be too partisan. Disputes have arisen in cases involving North Carolina's heavily Republican congressional map and a Democratic congressional district in Maryland, and the justices said Friday they will hear arguments in March. The high court could come out with the first limits on partisan politics in the drawing of electoral districts, but also could ultimately decide that federal judges have no role in trying to police political mapmaking. Justice Anthony Kennedy had said he was open to limits. He has since retired, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh has taken Kennedy's seat. He has no judicial record on the issue.
https://www.wral.com/supreme-court-to-review-nc-s-partisan-congressional-map/18104153/

Friday News: The new Supermajority

JUSTICE ANITA EARLS SEATED ON NC SUPREME COURT, GIVING DEMS 5-2 EDGE: Earls has worked diligently for years to win equal opportunity for her clients. She served as deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice under former President Bill Clinton, and she later founded the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, a civil rights group that successfully challenged North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law and gerrymandered voting districts. Through her work, she said Thursday, she learned bridging those divides isn't something she could accomplish alone. "It will take all of our country's public and private institutions to effect that healing, to bring us together for the common good, to lift us up instead of tearing us apart," she said. "It requires a system of justice that adheres to the rule of law ... a system in which no one is above the law and justice does not depend on gender, wealth, status, political party, race, creed or color."
https://www.wral.com/earls-promises-justice-with-strong-heart-as-member-of-nc-supreme-court/18101664/

Thursday News: The Mandamus gambit

markharris.jpg

MARK HARRIS WILL ASK JUDGE TO CERTIFY HIS TAINTED ELECTION: Republican Mark Harris said Wednesday he’ll ask a Wake County Superior Court judge to certify his election in the 9th Congressional District immediately, even as a probe into alleged election fraud continues. Harris’ announcement came after North Carolina state elections officials postponed next week’s hearing into allegations of election fraud in the 9th District — and after Gov. Roy Cooper accused Republicans of blocking the probe. It also came a day before a new Democratic-controlled U.S. House is sworn in, presumably without Harris, the winner of November’s election. Instead of taking a seat in Congress on Thursday, Harris will meet with investigators looking into the fraud allegations in Raleigh, according to a spokesman for the state elections board and Harris’ attorney.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article223836675.html

Wednesday News: Dangerous fetish

gunbuyer.jpg

IDIOT FIRES GUN INTO THE AIR, COLLEGE STUDENT PAYS THE PRICE: Allyson Cole said she and her roommate, 22-year-old Kaitlyn Kong, watched the Acorn Drop at midnight and were listening to music when Kong suddenly dropped her phone and grabbed both her chest and her friend. "'I’ve been hit. I got hurt really bad,'" Cole said Kong told her. "Her breathing was labored, so I knew something was wrong." Police said the two women were near the intersection of Fayetteville and Davie streets when revelers fired guns in the air at 12:05 a.m. to celebrate the new year during a fireworks display. Kong was taken to WakeMed, where an X-ray revealed an object in her abdomen. Raleigh police said the bullet entered her chest and landed in her abdomen. Based on its trajectory, investigators said they believe the bullet came from above. Cole and Kong's mother, Gwynne Kong, said the bullet nicked one of Kaitlyn Kong's lungs, perforated her diaphragm, went through her stomach and ended up next to her hip.
https://www.wral.com/celebratory-new-year-s-gunfire-seriously-wounds-unc-student-at-first-night-rale...

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - BlueNC's blog