Top news. The fantasy of the clean-water fairy (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Much discussion, negotiation and compromise produced considerable agreement on goals and strategies for cleaning up Jordan Lake. An NC Senate bill would destroy years of work.
Late-night votes just add to chaos (Greensboro News & Record) -- When it’s 11:30 on a Wednesday night and the N.C. House of Representatives is debating the proper way to protect people from Islamic law, it’s reasonable to ask, “Is there a better way to do this?”
In General Assembly, push continues to conceal gun data (Charlotte Observer) -- One of the only surviving bills in the N.C. General Assembly related to gun control would close permit information to the public, making it nearly impossible for groups to watchdog how the government issues licenses to buy hundreds of thousands of handguns.
Pending bills would regulate homeowners associations (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlotte residents would be better protected from homeowners associations if the General Assembly passes several key pieces of legislation, lawmakers said last week.
Bid for potential funding shift benefiting charter schools falls short (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Those who oversee public school district coffers are breathing a collective uneasy sigh of relief, at least for now, after a renewed attempt to funnel more money to charter schools is likely put to bed for this legislative session. Up until last week, two bills still on the table in the N.C. House contained provisions that would have eliminated an accounting practice used by public school systems known as Fund 8. Created in 2010, Fund 8 allows districts to separate certain types of revenue, like direct federal grants, donations and special program funding. Previously, those dollars were often included in districts’ local current expense fund — the bulk of which is made up of funds distributed from the county commissioners.
Ferry bill goes before legislative committee Tuesday (New Bern Sun Journal) -- The fate of planned new and increased coastal ferry tolls that go into effect July 1 remains in the hands of the General Assembly committees.
POLICY & POLITICS
Governor defends road funding plan (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) – Republican Gov. Pat McCrory on Saturday defended his transportation funding plan, saying it will boost the economies of rural areas.
Gov. McCrory set to visit EC (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- For the first time since taking office in January, Gov. Pat McCrory is planning a stop in Elizabeth City on Monday to visit with business owners and local leaders.
Medicaid opposition underscores states' healthcare disparities (LA Times) -- Republican opposition in many statehouses to expanding Medicaid next year under President Obama's healthcare law — opposition that could leave millions of the nation's poorest residents without insurance coverage — will likely widen the divide between the nation's healthiest and sickest states. With nearly every GOP-leaning state on track to reject an expansion of the government health plan for the poor, the healthcare law's goal of guaranteed insurance will become a reality next year mostly in traditionally liberal and moderate states. These states already have higher rates of health coverage. Residents of these states — concentrated in the Northeast, upper Midwest and West Coast — also have better access to doctors and are less likely to die from preventable illnesses. Colon cancer deaths in states opposing Medicaid expansion, for example, are an average of 16% higher than in pro-expansion states, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of state health data. Deaths from breast cancer are 8% higher on average in anti-expansion states. And adults under 65 are 40% more likely on average to have lost six or more teeth from decay, infection or gum disease. "Many states may be missing a real opportunity to reduce some of the big differences we see across the country in health," said Cathy Schoen, a health economist at the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund who has studied variations between states.
Modern day downtown traces roots to the Urban Renewal Project (New Bern Sun Journal) -- By the turn of the 20th century, the high level of business activity on the Trent waterfront ceased to exist. Post World War II suburban development, malls and less use of railroads and water as a means of transportation, left many of the downtown commercial buildings vacate as businesses relocated to areas outside the city limits.
UNC’s Holden Thorp steps out of the spotlight (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In a recent interview, Thorp, leaving soon for Washington University, said he wished he had watched “Friday Night Lights” five years ago. An education about athletics would’ve come in handy.
Report omitted Crowder’s athletic ties (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Last July, a special faculty report into the academic fraud at UNC-Chapel Hill made waves by raising the possibility that athletes’ academic counselors steered them to bogus classes in the African Studies Department. But cut from the report, days before its release, was a potential explanation of why a manager within that department would be involved. “Although we may never know for certain, the involvement of Debbie Crowder seems to have been that of an athletics supporter who managed to use the system to ‘help’ players; she was extremely close to personnel in athletics,” earlier drafts of the report state. The final version, released July 26, dropped that. Faculty chairwoman Jan Boxill wanted it cut because it amounted to hearsay.
Triangle companies in hiring mode aggressively pursue candidates (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Even though the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, companies with ambitious hiring agendas can’t afford to sit back and wait for top-notch job candidates to show up on their doorstep.
Major challenge ahead for Partnership with shift in state focus (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The Piedmont Triad Partnership is facing the biggest challenge of its 19-year existence — trying to stay relevant and funded as the state shifts primary economic-development responsibility to the private sector. Gov. Pat McCrory announced in April his plans for creating a private nonprofit group, the N.C. Economic Development Corp., to guide economic development and eventually shrink the size of the state Commerce Department. Although McCrory has provided little detail since, what is known is that the state’s seven economic-development commissions will not receive state funding in fiscal 2013-14. The Piedmont Triad Partnership represents a mix of urban (Forsyth and Guilford), suburban (Alamance, Davidson, Davie, Randolph, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin) and rural (Caswell, Montgomery and Rockingham) counties. It serves as the state’s umbrella organization for Triad economic groups, in many instances handling the first contact from Commerce officials for companies and site selectors interested in Triad project sites. David Powell, president of PTP, said state funding cuts would be $530,000 -- 23 percent of current $2.3 million funding. The rest of the funding comes from businesses, local governments and other sources.
Ambassador Eyeing Kay Hagan Challenge (Roll Call) -- Former Ambassador Jim Cain is seriously considering seeking the Republican Senate nomination in North Carolina next year.
Republican LaRoque trial begins Monday in federal court (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque will go on trial in federal court in Greenville on Monday on charges that he enriched himself with U.S. Department of Agriculture money that he loaned to struggling rural business owners. The trial is expected to be protracted because it involves complex financial transactions that the government contends amounted to theft and money laundering. LaRoque, a Republican who is represented by Raleigh attorneys Joseph Cheshire V and Elliot Abrams, says he used the money legally. U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Howard recently denied LaRoque’s motions to dismiss the charges.
End-of-grade tests based on new standards (Wilmington Star-News) -- Tests statewide are now structured around the Common Core curriculum, which was implemented this fall.
Event offers one-stop source for home-schooling options, regulations (Jacksonville Daily News) -- A Saturday event gave local advocacy groups an opportunity to pool together resources and help better inform the public about home-schooling options and regulations.
Charlotte's living mayors talk about the city's issues (Charlotte Observer) -- When voters elect a new Charlotte mayor this fall, they will be handing him or her a long list of tough questions to confront. We asked current mayor Anthony Foxx and his predecessors - as well as readers - about Charlotte's biggest concerns.
Charlotte’s mayors on issues facing the region (Charlotte Observer) --Charlotte mayors past and present -- Anthony Foxx, Gov. Pat McCrory, Richard Vinroot, Sue Myrick, Harvey Gantt and Eddie Knox -- on issues affecting the region.
NC House says yes to interstate tolls - but with limits (Raleigh News & Observer) -- If the Senate agrees with an unanimous House vote, North Carolina won't be able to use tolls to finance major freeway overhaul projects. But the state could start adding toll express lanes to existing interstates.
Politicians who cross the NRA soon feel the wrath of gun-rights group (Washington Post) -- Even conservative lawmakers who go against the NRA are labeled as traitors and face negative ads.
Scandal Involving Gifts and Theft Charges Complicates Politics in Virginia (New York Times) -- The drama includes an accusation that a $15,000 gift from a donor to the governor went unreported and a chef that calls himself a whistle-blower.
Inmate escapes from prison, caught hours later (WRAL-TV) -- An inmate who escaped from the Gaston Correctional Center Saturday, has been caught.
Inspectors cite unpermitted school construction (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- The Buncombe County Permits and Inspections Department filed complaints against 16 contractors alleging they did work at county schools without obtaining the required permits.
Salmonella outbreak from NC hotel sickens 51 (AP) — Health officials are worried cases from a salmonella outbreak traced to a Fayetteville hotel may spread nationwide.
Boston Marathon bombing victims return home (Charlotte Observer) -- After weeks of recovery following the Boston Marathon bombings, Nicole Gross and her husband Michael return to Charlotte.
Four women undergo warfare training at Camp Lejeune (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Twenty-two men and four women participated in the Riverine Combat Skills course at Camp Lejeune that ended May 2 – one of the first warfare training programs to integrate women.
Gospel music star Monroe Hopper dies in NC (AP) — One of the founding members of the North Carolina gospel group The Hopper Brothers has died.
WRAL bureau shares Observer space (Fayetteville Observer) -- We've got a new neighbor in our newspaper office - and a face that many of you will recognize.
Chicken fanciers tour area birds living high life (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The ninth annual Tour D’Coop is a benefit for Urban Ministries and introduces visitors to an array of birds and coops.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
After nearly 30 years, Camp Lejeune coming clean (AP) — Purple wildflowers sprout in abundance around the bright-yellow pipe, one of several jutting from the sandy soil in this unassuming patch of grass and mud. A dirty hose runs from the pipe to an idling truck and into a large tank labeled, "NON-POTABLE WATER." This is the former Hadnot Point fuel farm, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune's main fuel depot until it was ordered closed in the 1980s. At one point, a layer of gasoline 15 feet thick floated atop the groundwater here, and this "fluid vapor recovery" truck is part of the continuing effort to remove it. "He's skimming that contaminate out of that well, into this tank," civilian Bob Lowder, head of environmental quality for the base, said during a recent tour. "We'll take that off for recondition or disposal, as appropriate." The coastal base is the site of what's considered the worst case of drinking-water contamination in the nation's history. But the Marines stress that that's just what it is — history.
Victims: Marines failed to safeguard water supply (AP) — A simple test could have alerted officials that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated, long before authorities determined that as many as a million Marines and their families were exposed to a witch's brew of cancer-causing chemicals.
· Marine who dumped toxins felt illness was payback (AP) — Ron Poirier couldn't escape the feeling that his cancer was somehow a punishment.
· Marine daughter seeks dignity for 'Devil Dog pups' (AP) — As she flipped through the cemetery register, Mary Blakely's eyes filled with tears. On line after line, the entry read simply "Baby Boy" or "Baby Girl," followed by a surname and a burial date. Like Blakely, many of those buried in this lonely section of Onslow Memorial Park known as "Babyland" were the children of Marines stationed down the road at Camp Lejeune. How many of these fellow "Devil Dog pups," she wondered, died because they or their pregnant mothers had swallowed or bathed in the base's toxic water?
Clean diesel: The yin to the hybrid's yang (Orange County [Calif.] Register) -- This year, passenger vehicles will be offered with optional diesel engines, an unprecedented proliferation of a technology traditionally offered by German automakers.
5 billion pounds of coal ash at airport worrisome to neighbors (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Between the Duke Power plant and Asheville Regional Airport, they're literally moving mountains — of coal ash
The real scandal: Political gridlock (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Congressional Republican calls to investigate the Obama administration continue a failure to address the nation’s real problems.
Sifting through the rubble of 'crossover week' (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Last week was crossover week in the N.C. General Assembly, the week in which legislation must be passed in either the House or Senate to remain alive.
Beware this smart ALEC (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Recent news reports make clear that the Republican supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly is getting many of its worst ideas for how to change our state from the Washington, D.C.-based American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Gilchrist resigns; probe of ECSU police must continue (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- ECSU Chancellor Willie J. Gilchrist announced his resignation Friday, just days after an investigation revealed that 125 criminal complaints on the ECSU campus have gone uninvestigated since 2007.
No miracles for North Carolina schools (Fayetteville Observer column) -- As a Florida mom, it's hard to watch states with veto-proof majorities push and pass the same education reforms that have hurt our children and harmed our public schools.
STANDING PAT (Charlotte Observer column) -- Twenty-two hours before she told Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones he was fired, Pat Cotham typed up an e-mail about herself. A reporter had asked her earlier that day about her leadership style, and she was dissatisfied, apparently, with her answer. “If I could ramble a bit…” her e-mail began.
Move to open up coast to erosion control structures risks future of beaches (Wilmington Star-News) -- North Carolina’s seawall ban has been good for the beaches and good for the tourism industry.
The fantasy of the clean-water fairy (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Much discussion, negotiation and compromise produced considerable agreement on goals and strategies for cleaning up Jordan Lake. An NC Senate bill would destroy years of work.
Crossover week ends with frenzied activity (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- It’s never pretty to watch state lawmakers scramble during crossover week to get legislation passed.
First Amendment is all the shield the press needs (Fayetteville Observer column) -- The Founders were pretty clear about our rights, as they spelled them out in the Constitution and in the first 10 amendments.