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Tuesday News: Fight for 15 continues


34 ARRESTED AS POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN RETURNS TO LEGISLATURE: Thirty-four protesters were arrested at the North Carolina Legislative Building on Monday while fighting for higher minimum wages and unions in North Carolina. This is the fifth week of protests by the Poor People's Campaign, a coordinated effort across the country to push the plight of the poor to the top of the agenda in statehouses and the U.S. Congress. The Rev. William J. Barber II, the former head of the state NAACP and architect of the Moral Monday protest movement, co-founded the campaign. The protesters and rally speakers used statistics from the Institute for Policy Studies, the N.C. Housing Coalition, census reports, the state Department of Public Instruction and the N.C. "Quality Counts" report to highlight their concerns. Workers from several fast-food chains and other low-wage earners shared their stories to show how any unexpected illness or time away from work can upend a family budget.

Monday News: Matthew is still with us

NC TOWN FLOODED BY HURRICANE STILL REELING FROM DAMAGE: Before the flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew, the population of this Columbus County town along the banks of the Lumber River was estimated at 900 to 950 people. After the flood, the number plummeted dramatically, and the town now counts about 600 residents. The flooding, which devastated much of Fair Bluff on the heels of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, significantly altered the landscape. As of late May, the rebuilding efforts had barely begun. Leonard said 111 residences were flooded out. Though he notes that "a lot" of federal and state grant money has been awarded, most of the property owners have not received the financial assistance to date. The town's water and sewer system was substantially impacted by the extensive flooding, Leonard said. One of the town's two wells remains out of commission. "We believe we were ground zero. We believe no municipality was hit harder than us," he said from Town Hall. "We think we were the most impacted community in the state."

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NC PRIVATE SCHOOL VOUCHERS STILL LACK ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY: One of the report’s authors describe the study as “quasi-experimental.” Caveats included in the report read more like the warnings for prescription medication than an evaluation of a government program. The goal of those who ordered up the report had little to do with an objective evaluation. What they wanted was a campaign sound-bite. Inflated statements about the report that say it shows “positive, large and statistically significant” impact of vouchers spread across the Twittersphere and other social media avenues. Citizens rightly demand that public schools meet standards and demonstrate that student are – or are not – achieving. Does it make ANY sense that millions of tax dollars should go to private schools that don’t have to demonstrate that kids are learning – or even attending class? The latest report from N.C. State University tells us little about the voucher program and doesn’t bring us any closer to the transparency and accountability the program needs.

Saturday News: A racist legacy


ATTORNEYS ARGUE CENTURY-OLD VOTING LAW IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: About 68 percent of the suspected felony voters the state board identified were African-American, while about 31 percent were white. The state passed a law in 1901 to prevent people with criminal convictions from voting . It was aimed at keeping African-Americans from casting ballots and has gone largely unchanged, Carella's court motion says. "This law continues to have the intended disparate impact on African American voters, which constitute the majority of those who could be convicted under such a law, a majority of those referred by the state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement for prosecution, and the vast majority of those facing criminal charges in Alamance County." The 1901 law followed a voter intimidation campaign in the state in 1898 when armed men rode through African-American communities to discourage voting.

Friday News: Here we go again


TIM MOORE SET TO PUT VOTER ID CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON NOVEMBER BALLOT: Voters may be asked this November if the state constitution should require identification from people who cast ballots at polling places. Republicans in the state House on Thursday proposed placing the question of voter ID on the ballot in November two years after federal courts struck down the requirement, which was part of a broader law on voter restrictions. House Speaker Tim Moore is the lead sponsor of the bill. Republicans have enough votes to put the question on the ballot without Democrats' help. A ballot question on voter ID is expected to help draw conservative voters to the polls in November, when Republicans anticipate losing seats in the Legislature.

Thursday News: Unacceptable


GOVERNOR ROY COOPER VETOES REPUBLICAN TAX-CUTTING BUDGET: Cooper made his announcement flanked by teachers and said that the level of education spending in the budget was a major reason for his veto. He said he wanted to send a message. "When you are continuing to drop in per-pupil expenditures, when you’re still 37th in the country in teacher pay, that’s unacceptable," Cooper said. Republican leaders, however, don't appear worried about their ability to overturn Cooper's veto. Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore defended the budget and criticized Cooper just minutes after the veto announcement. Cooper had proposed spending several hundred million dollars more than legislative leaders ultimately agreed to. The main difference, which Moore alluded to, was that Cooper wanted to stop the implementation of another corporate income tax cut next year and freeze planned tax cuts on income that people earn above $200,000, using the extra revenue to give teachers a larger raise and also spend money on other projects.

Wednesday News: Lunatic fringe


PITTMAN SAYS LAWMAKERS WILL HAVE "BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS" FOR NOT ARMING TEACHERS: "Seeking to avoid controversy in an election year, our leadership has chosen not to allow this bill even to be heard in committee," said Rep. Larry Pittman, a Cabarrus County Republican and one of the bill's sponsors. "This is a failure to act that I fear may one day cost lives that could have been saved." His warnings echoed an email he sent legislators in April, in which Pittman said there would be "blood on our hands" if the legislature did not act to deter shooters. However, most North Carolina teachers said in a poll this spring that they thought arming teachers would make schools less safe and would harm the learning environment. In the Elon University/ News & Observer/Charlotte Observer poll, 78 percent of teachers thought arming teachers was a bad idea. Since the Parkland shooting, teachers who accidentally discharged weapons at school have made national news.

Tuesday News: Stealthy maps


SHORTER LIST OF GERRYMANDERED JUDICIAL DISTRICTS STILL RAISES QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS: House lawmakers Monday night gave tentative approval, largely along party lines, to proposals to redraw judicial and court districts in about a dozen counties. The two judicial redistricting measures, House Bill 1037 and Senate Bill 757, were rolled out in the House Rules Committee on Friday with little public notice. Questions arose on both sides of the aisle about exactly what the measures would do in specific districts, and technical amendments had to be offered to correct mistakes in the legislation. "You see the confusion that’s going on – that’s what happens when you roll out new maps on a Friday afternoon," argued Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake. "It’s just not the way to be doing these types of changes, especially for things that have been pending since last year." Both redistricting measures are scheduled to receive a final House vote Tuesday.

Monday News: Adding insult to injury

FLOODING IN NC MOUNTAINS SWEEPS TRASH INTO RIVERS: Recent heavy rain not only led to flooding across western North Carolina, it also sent garbage floating into rivers. WLOS-TV in Asheville reports trash and debris have been flowing along the French Broad River, and some has been caught by dams or trestles, creating large piles. Eric Bradford, director of operations for Asheville Greenworks, said about 75 percent of the debris starts out as litter on the roads. When heavy rain falls, the debris flows into a storm drain that feeds into a creek and then into the river. Bradford said the organization had already planned a big cleanup for Saturday, but it's now delayed until the flood waters recede. He said Asheville Greenworks will intensify efforts to recruit as many volunteers as are needed for the cleanup.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


IS NC IN THE HANDS OF DICTATORS? LATEST BUDGET PLOY SUGGESTS SO: North Carolina citizens should not be deceived. They need to be outraged. The leaders of the General Assembly are making a mockery of representative government. It is no understatement to say democracy is under attack in our state. Complaints over the decision to bypass open deliberations in the General Assembly on the new state budget aren’t some legislative playground squabble between Republicans and Democrats on Jones Street in Raleigh. It is a thumb-in-the-eye, a bully’s chest-bump and turned-up nose of disdain directed at each and everyone of the state’s voters and taxpayers by the tinhorn cabal of Senate Leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and a couple of their lieutenants.


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