BlueNC's blog

Thursday News: Warehousing children

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ROBESON FACILITY WITH REVOKED LICENSE GETS $3.9 MILLION TO DETAIN MIGRANT CHILDREN: Within 45 days of the facility opening its doors, state officials gave its operator, New Horizon Group Home LLC, hours to shut them again, saying conditions presented “an imminent danger to the health, safety and welfare” of the boys housed there. Yet barely one year later, the federal government awarded New Horizon a $3.9 million grant to house up to 72 children – migrant kids navigating the Trump administration's border policy alone. The federal Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, awarded the grant to New Horizon despite the fact that the company has gone months without a required state license to house any children. And if the state’s prior action against the facility holds up to an ongoing legal challenge, the group home operator will have gotten at least some of that federal grant money despite being prevented from housing any children for the next four years.
https://www.wral.com/unlicensed-nc-company-with-troubled-history-gets-4m-to-house-migrant-children/1...

Wednesday News: Throw away the key

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BALLOT HARVESTER DOWLESS FACES NEW ROUND OF CRIMINAL CHARGES: Leslie McCrae Dowless was charged with two counts of felony obstruction of justice, perjury, solicitation to commit perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and possession of absentee ballot, the document showed. Dowless was previously indicted on charges related to an absentee ballot harvesting operation he allegedly ran in Bladen County in 2016 and during the 2018 primary. His earlier charges include three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of an absentee ballot. Dowless remains free on a $30,000 bond and is expected to turn himself in for processing on the new charges. Six of Dowless’ associates were also indicted and are expected to turn themselves in.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233308957.html

Monday News: #StopRDUQuarry

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OPPOSITION MOUNTS TO RDU PLANS FOR UMSTEAD ROCK QUARRY: Opponents of a planned quarry on 105 acres of airport land next to Umstead State Park are hoping that a lawsuit filed in Wake County will stop the project. But they’ve also waged a public relations campaign against the quarry. And with local elections coming up this fall, that effort is becoming more political. On Saturday, quarry opponents held a rally at the park, urging people to elect candidates in Raleigh who will work to stop the project. Opponents say the four local governments should have more say about the lease, but so far none of them have moved to intervene. A proposal in the Raleigh City Council asking the authority to reconsider the lease failed when only four of the eight council members voted for it.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article233175711.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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RECKLESS PERSONAL ATTACKS HARM EFFORTS TO RESOLVE STATE HEALTH PLAN: At the same time Folwell announced what he termed his “final offer,” the State Employees Association of North Carolina, a key Folwell ally in his effort, launched a mean-spirited personal attack on Michael Waldrum – the CEO of Vidant Health – the system that serves 29 counties in eastern North Carolina and operates the teaching hospital for Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. The video mocks Waldrum as greedy and selfish. It complains that he seeks a “profit” for the non-profit health care system. Vidant’s operations are overseen by a board that has a fiduciary responsibility to maintain financial viability. This isn’t just about Waldrum. It is the board and Waldrum who must do the right things for the non-profit’s operations, for the employees and the patients. The reality is that without that “profit” many of those the system serves in the poorest region of the state will go without any care at all.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-reckless-personal-attacks-harm-efforts-to-resolve-state-health-plan/1...

Saturday News: King of Pork

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BERGER'S BUDGET SENDS $15 MILLION TO HIS OWN DISTRICT: Millions of dollars in the state budget are going to mostly Republican districts for water infrastructure and parks projects. While Republicans defend the allocations as needed help to rural areas, an environmental group questions the process and oversight. The North Carolina Conservation Network analyzed the budget and found that 91% of $25 million in parks and water infrastructure earmarks went to Republican districts. Most were in Senate leader Phil Berger’s district, which includes Eden, Yanceyville and King. As first reported by WBTV, the Conservation Network found that about $23.4 million in direct appropriations, known as earmarks, went to Republican-held Senate districts, and within that a $15 million loan to the city of King in Berger’s district.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233124556.html

Friday News: Sins of Omission

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NC GOP'S "EXPERT WITNESS" GAVE FALSE TESTIMONY IN GERRYMANDERING TRIAL: The trial challenging North Carolina’s legislative lines as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders took a dramatic turn Thursday when an expert witness for Republican lawmakers admitted some of his testimony on their behalf was incorrect. The challengers used that admission to ask that testimony by Claremont McKenna College political scientist Douglas Johnson be struck from the record. “His testimony in his direct (examination) is just incorrect,” said Daniel Jacobson, a lawyer who represents the redistricting reform group Common Cause NC. “The numbers are wrong.” Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway, who is leading the panel, said North Carolina’s rules for expert witnesses say that “his opinions must be the product of reliable methods and principles ... and the principles used by Dr. Johnson were not reliable.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233105817.html

Thursday News: Good riddance

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CYBERSTALKER CODY HENSON RESIGNS FROM NC HOUSE: A state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to cyberstalking in a case involving his estranged wife announced Wednesday he will resign. Rep. Cody Henson’s statement on Facebook follows reports from court proceedings in western North Carolina, including that the Republican will undergo domestic violence abuser treatment, Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday. Among those reports: Henson once threw a full beer can at his wife in front of their son while she was pregnant and, after one heated argument, posted photos of his guns on social media, among other incidents, N.C. Assistant Attorney General Boz Zellinger said. Henson remains under a domestic violence protective order keeping him from contacting his estranged wife, Kelsey Meece, CPP said. He is not allowed access to firearms during his probation.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article233055162.html

Wednesday News: The slow death of discrimination

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COURT RULES TRANSGENDER PEOPLE CAN USE BATHROOM OF CHOICE: The settlement says state agencies and universities can’t ban transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. It applies only to public restrooms and similar facilities in state government buildings. “After so many years of managing the anxiety of HB 2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws,” said Joaquin Carcaño, a transgender man and UNC-Chapel Hill employee who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state over LGBT discrimination. The settlement doesn’t keep legislators from restricting bathroom access through future laws. But it puts new requirements on government agencies and universities that are defendants in the lawsuit.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233013642.html

Tuesday News: No teeth, no bite

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CHARLOTTE CONDEMNS TRUMP BUT WON'T RESCIND RNC 2020 CONTRACT: Monday’s vote followed a brief discussion on whether city leaders could legally back out of Charlotte’s agreement with the Republican National Committee to host its 2020 convention — a move that would, according to the city’s attorney, assuredly land Charlotte in a costly legal fight. The resolution cites four specific comments from Trump, from June 2017 to July 2019, and accuses the president of “racist and xenophobic social media tweets and comments.” “Many of (Charlotte’s) residents are immigrants and/or people of color,” the resolution states. “The Charlotte City Council ... believes that Charlotte should always be welcoming and inviting of people of diverse and different ethnicities and background (sic), so long as those differences do not lead to personal insults or violent discourse.” Several council members acknowledged the resolution would have “no teeth” beyond making a statement.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article232975797.html

Monday News: Big government strikes again

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BILL TO BLOCK MUNICIPALITIES FROM REGULATING AIRBNB GAINS STEAM: Several cities around the state have implemented or are working on regulations on short-term rentals, including Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Asheville. Mark Zimmerman, senior vice president for NC Realtors, says it’s a question of property rights. He says many people rely on the income from short-term rentals, and property owners have the right to use their property as they see fit. Cities and counties are against the regulation ban. Mooneyham says people who own the neighboring homes in those single-family neighborhoods have property rights too, and local governments are best suited to balance those competing interests. The bill would take it out of their hands. "Those people need to be protected, their quality of life needs to be protected, and the investment – the most important investment most people will ever make – needs to be protected," he said.
https://www.wral.com/nc-lawmakers-mull-blocking-cities-counties-from-regulating-airbnbs/18521162/

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