Daily dose: NC Early Voting stats and spats edition

N.C. Fights To Take Voting Site Away From Pesky College Kids (Huffington Post) -- Early voting starts today, Thursday in North Carolina, even as the state has pushed to move early voting sites farther away from college campuses. The Republican-dominated North Carolina State Board of Elections, among other efforts, has sought to remove an early voting location from the campus of Appalachian State University, which has about 18,000 students, many of whom lean Democratic. Last week, the board filed a petition asking the state Supreme Court to stay a judge’s ruling in favor of the site. On Wednesday afternoon, not having heard from the high court and with the start of early voting looming, the elections board hastily voted to keep the site on campus. Soon after, the state Supreme Court announced that it was staying the judge’s ruling and sending the case back to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

EARLY VOTING DAY 1: Early vote in person day 1 (Thurs. 10/23): Total votes cast: 117,758: D 50.9%; R 29.4%; U 19.6%; L 0.1%

FLIP-FLOP: Tillis reverses, now urges NC to expand Medicaid (Charlotte Observer) -- In last spring’s Republican primary, U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis ran an ad touting his fight against an expanded Medicaid program. “Thom Tillis has a proven record fighting against Obamacare,” the narrator said. “Tillis stopped Obama’s Medicaid expansion cold. It’s not happening in North Carolina, and it’s because of Thom Tillis.” But this week Tillis struck a different note. “It wasn’t like I had an ideological objection to expanding Medicaid,” he told Time Warner Cable News. “We’re trending in a direction where we should consider potential expansion. … I would encourage the state legislature and the governor to consider it.”

How N.C. Senate race became ground zero for what’s wrong with 2014 (Yahoo News) -- “This is ground zero in America,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told a crowd of volunteers here at a rally for U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis. Suburban moms in cardigans and dozens of North Carolina State frat boys applauded vigorously for Priebus’ digs at national Democrats and praise for Tillis, the speaker of the state House. Their cheers for the chairman’s call to oust Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were rivaled in length only by the line for free barbecue after the speech. “At the end of the day, we do this job because we believe in our own God-given freedoms. We believe in the Constitution,” Priebus continued, voice raised. “It’s up to us to save this country!” It’s not rare for a party leader to cast an election in the sort of hyperbolic terms Priebus used last weekend. But with less than two weeks left until the midterm elections, it’s clear the Tar Heel State has indeed emerged as a ground zero — though not in the way the GOP chairman meant. The highly competitive Senate race in North Carolina is the multimillion-dollar epicenter of the negative campaigning that's come to characterize Election 2014 as the parties fight win tight races nationwide.

Hagan and Tillis in a battle of 'extremes' in NC (AP) -- North Carolina's Senate race boils down to a battle of extremes. At least that's how Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican challenger Thom Tillis want voters to see it. Running against President Barack Obama as much as he is against Hagan, Tillis, 54, calls the president's health care law an "unworkable mess," blasts American foreign policy as muddled and weak, and bemoans a $17 trillion-plus national debt. But Hagan, 61, has put Tillis on the defensive with a barrage of attacks on his record as House speaker in North Carolina's legislature. She casts the businessman-turned-politician as architect of an untenable rightward march on everything from education funding and labor laws to abortion, ballot access and Medicaid expansion. "North Carolina needs a common-sense voice," Hagan said in the candidates' final debate, summing up her pitch that she's a moderate who better reflects the state than a Republican who "cut education" and "turned away health care for 500,000 North Carolinians" by not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Outside groups spend millions to sway voters (AP) -- Early in-person voting started across North Carolina on Thursday, and if you haven’t been called or visited by someone wanting you to vote now, don’t worry — you’ll probably be contacted soon. Outside national organizations are pouring several million dollars into North Carolina’s voter-persuasion efforts above the massive amounts being spent by campaigns and political parties. They’re using phone calls, mailers, social media, and personal visits and trying to tap into people’s desire to make a difference. In-state groups also are building upon support or opposition to recent actions by the Republican-led legislature. “Who you elect will determine whether we go forward or backward on the critical issues of our day,” the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, said on the steps of Shaw University in Raleigh before students marched to an early-voting site downtown.

Could the 'Perfect' Campaign Lose? (National Journal) -- It took Kay Hagan 10 minutes to cover everything she wanted to say about public education. The 61-year-old senator had picked the student union here at North Carolina State University to deliver a seminar of her own about all the ways she was building up education and all the ways her opponent Thom Tillis was tearing it down. She left no criticism unmentioned: Tillis, who is speaker of the state House, was even accused of making it more expensive for college students to buy food. Until a few weeks ago, this was Hagan's secret sauce, the reason her campaign retained a slight lead while Senate Democratic candidates elsewhere wilted during the summer and early fall. The one-term senator had relentlessly focused on education funding in August and September, beating up on her GOP foe's budget-cutting tenure like a boxer determined to methodically wear down her opponent with body blows. For Hagan, keeping the focus of her federal race on a local issue had the benefit of insulating herself from the toxic national atmosphere. As one Hagan adviser joked, "We turned this into a school-board race." … ince the start of October, the issues at the contest's forefront have moved from the local matters preferred by Team Hagan to the national topics, Ebola and ISIS, that have benefitted Republican candidates nationwide. And it's created a sense that Tillis, whose own campaign has become a punching bag for Republicans critical of its efforts, could sneak through to a last-minute victory. Interviews with nearly a dozen top Republican and Democratic operatives revealed most of them share two basic assessments of the race. For about a six-month stretch starting in April, thanks mostly to her own campaign's superior efforts, just about everything went right for Kay Hagan. And still, she might lose.

GOP Gains in Key Senate Races (Wall Street Journal) -- In a warning flag for Democrats, recent polls suggest the party is failing to draw enough support from women in three key Senate races to offset the strong backing that men are giving to Republicans. … Trends among female voters are being closely watched by both parties at a time when polls show Senate races in nearly a dozen states are too close to call. In New Hampshire and North Carolina, a big advantage among women is helping to keep Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kay Hagan on relatively strong footing in public opinion surveys.

Democratic Mastermind Explains How Party will Retain Senate majority (Bloomberg News) -- To hear Guy Cecil tell it, the midterm elections are shaping up nicely for the Democratic Party. Appearing on "With All Due Respect" on Thursday, Cecil, the Executive Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, assured hosts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann that the party would defy expectations and likely win senate races in Iowa, Colorado, Louisiana, Alaska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky.

N.C. Senate Race Challenges Status Quo of Public Education -- (U.S. News & World Report) -- On the surface, much of the North Carolina Senate race appears centered on a debate over education funding and teacher salaries. "The money that should be going to public education, instead seems to be going to corporations, millionaires," says one teacher in an ad for Sen. Kay Hagan, the Democratic incumbent. "The education cuts have impacted my ability to make a difference by raising my class sizes, getting rid of my teacher assistants that I need for help. I have no textbook to teach from." "When I'm asked who's responsible for these education cuts, it's Thom Tillis and his legislature," the teacher says of Tillis, Hagan's Republican challenger and current North Carolina House speaker. Education issues typically aren't a central issue in races for federal office. They're often trumped by macroeconomic debates, foreign affairs and politicians' track records in what they can do for their home states. But North Carolina has a different story. Legislators and governors for decades have made education a staple of North Carolina's identity and a key factor in improving its economic standing.

Turnout will be crucial in tightening N.C. Senate battle (Wilmington Star-News) -- Volunteers for both candidates hope to connect with enough voters to win.

Perry, McCrory, Tillis headline NC Republican BBQ (AP) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry is coming to eastern North Carolina for a big barbecue to rally Republicans in the campaign's final days to support U.S. Senate nominee Thom Tillis and down-ballot candidates.

Tillis camp says Romney to campaign for him (AP) — Mitt Romney is planning to come to North Carolina to campaign for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis.

Campaign 2014: American Future Fund 'Haugh' (Washington Post) -- The Koch-backed American Future Fund is behind the online ad campaign "More Weed, Less War" which encourages young people in North Carolina to cast their vote for Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Sean Haugh, who supports marijuana legalization.

Backlash against marriage ruling rises as voting starts (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The backlash against the gay marriage court ruling picked up force this week with a leading legislator proposing to exempt government officials from attending to same-sex couples and protests in Raleigh on Thursday that religious liberty is under siege.

Hagan urges students to head to polls (Daily Tar Heel) -- Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan’s appearance at Gerrard Hall on Thursday was greeted by more than 150 student supporters, reporters — and a man in a duck costume. Hagan encouraged students to head to the polls as early voting began statewide Thursday, particularly because of the new voting law, which ended same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting.

Legislative votes central to State Senate 19th District race (Fayetteville Observer) -- Republican state Sen. Wesley Meredith's Democratic opponent, Billy Richardson, said stepping away from politics 18 years ago was one of the hardest decisions he ever made. Richardson opted in 1996 not to seek a third term in the N.C. House of Representatives, he said, so he could spend more time with his two children and his law practice. In 2002, he ran for the 8th Congressional District but lost in the primary. Now, his children want him to run again, after seeing the results of four years of Republican control of the General Assembly - and the nearly last two under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. "They said, 'Dad, you need to get back in there and do something,''' said Richardson, 59.

Legislative candidates favor same disclosure rules for public, charter schools (Wilmington Star-News) -- All General Assembly candidates in Southeastern North Carolina support holding charter schools to the same public disclosure standards as traditional public schools. The 10 political hopefuls also expressed support for the state’s charter school movement, although with differences on how much oversight the state should have over the taxpayer-funded schools. The candidates were asked about their stance on charter schools and other issues in a questionnaire sent by the Star-News to all local candidates as part of 2014 election news coverage.

Tillis stops again in Greenville (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate telephoned would-be voters and thanked campaign volunteers during a Thursday stop at the GOP Victory Center in Greenville.

State expects to finish verifying flagged voters Friday (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The State Board of Elections expects to find out by Friday how many of the nearly 10,000 names flagged as possible ineligible voters belong to people who apparently are not U.S. citizens, elections officials said Thursday.

N.C. Dems files campaign complaint against Mark Walker (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The N.C. Democratic Party filed a federal elections complaint about Mark Walker’s Congressional campaign, saying the Republican failed to properly report the use of a campaign bus and a Cancun vacation property in its finance reports and received PAC contributions above the legal limit.

Walker, Fjeld go head-to-head (Greensboro News & Record) In their first televised debate, the two candidates in the 6th Congressional District race differ on immigration, breaking gridlock in D.C. and abortion.

Current Medicaid Reform Debate Has Familiar Look (N.C. Health News) -- As lawmakers consider making changes to the state’s Medicaid program, legislators are staking out familiar positions from the past..

Republican Governors Just Might Save the Democratic Senate (New York Magazine) -- Kansas, of course, offers the quintessential case of a state-level backlash. Governor Sam Brownback explicitly fashioned his state as a laboratory for the conservative program, especially on taxes, and the results have been catastrophic. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, and Florida governor Rick Scott, all circa-2010 Republican governors in purple states, all face dire threats of losing their seats after a single term. North Carolina GOP governor Pat McCrory, not facing reelection until 2016, has so poisoned the state’s voters against his party that Democratic Senator Kay Hagan leads nearly every poll. North Carolina and Kansas are the two states where Democrats seem to be dramatically over-performing the fundamentals. North Carolina and Kansas have in common Republican governors who have enacted sweeping, controversial agendas that have turned their party’s Senate candidates into quasi-incumbents. … North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, who once boasted — accurately — of having “stopped Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion cold,” announced this week that the state should “consider” accepting it.

Governor says Universal center can be national model (McDowell News) -- Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday that McDowell County’s new Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center was a prototype for other communities to follow when it comes to workforce development and job training. “It’s the best of the best,” McCrory said. “It’s a recycling of a building that was blight on the landscape and stood empty. I think this model can be replicated not only across North Carolina but across the nation.” … The county previously received a $2.1 million grant from the Golden LEAF program for this project. Other grants were provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Cannon Foundation and Duke Energy. Columbia Carolina provided the paneling work. McDowell County has invested $1.5 million into this project. At Thursday’s ceremony, Dan Gerlach, president of the Golden LEAF program, presented Abernathy and Hollifield with the $2.14 million check. The county is seeking to get another $1 million grant from Golden LEAF for Universal

Cost of domestic violence in NC tops $300M (WRAL-TV) -- From health care for victims to incarceration of suspects, the cost of domestic violence in North Carolina hits $307 million a year, according to a study released Thursday.

$8.5 million expansion gives NC Zoo's polar bears more room (Raleigh News & Observer) -- As Patches the polar bear checked out her new $8.5 million enclosure at the N.C. Zoo on Thursday, it was the children pressing their hands to the glass who were held captive. … Gov. Pat McCrory helped open the expansion Thursday by cutting an ice-blue ribbon and announcing that the state should set a goal of doubling the zoo’s visitation.
McCrory-with-Polar-bear (2) http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/10/23/4259150_85-million-expansion-gives-nc.html

McCrory celebrates zoo exhibit that GOP opposed (Policy Watch) – Gov. Pat McCrory was all smiles today at the N.C Zoo as he cut the ribbon for the new polar bear exhibit. It’s not the first time that state politicians have talked about polar bears. In the 2010 and 2012 elections, Republican-allied groups ran ads against Democrats in the General Assembly for supporting funding for polar bears at the zoo.

Mecklenburg County Social Worker Pleads Guilty in Medicaid Fraud Scheme (FBI News Release) -- A social worker with the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services pleaded guilty to federal charges for her role in a healthcare fraud scheme involving the stolen identities of clients enrolled with the Medicaid program, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of N.C.. Ieshia Hicks Watkins, 33, of Charlotte, pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud conspiracy and one count of receiving illegal kickbacks.

Oak Island Man Indicted for Aiming Laser Pointer at an Aircraft (FBI News Release) – U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker announces that a federal grand jury in Raleigh returned an indictment charging Christopher Lee Funk, 34, with aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in flight (a helicopter). If convicted, the maximum penalty for this charge is five years’ imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The case is being investigated by the Oak Island Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

NC driver safety program thinks texting law should be stricter (WRAL-TV) -- It's not against the law in North Carolina to text behind the wheel as long as you've come to a complete stop, but the Governor's Highway Safety Program would like to see that change.

Asheville prosecutor dropping 230 tickets Asheville Citizen-Time/AP) -- The prosecutor in Asheville plans to dismiss about 230 speeding tickets that were written by police officers using radar guns with out-of-date certificates.

Two states see slow start for fast trains between Raleigh and Richmond (Raleigh News & Observer) -- North Carolina and Virginia leaders hope one day to build a $4 billion shortcut for 110-mph trains between Raleigh and Richmond, but they’re planning to start out with slower trains and an incremental approach

Highest-ranking female NC National Guard officer promoted again (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Brig. Gen. Beth Austin will extend her record as the highest-ranking female officer in the history of the N.C. National Guard during a ceremony on Friday.

Harrell, South Carolina House Speaker, Pleads Guilty (New York Times) -- Robert W. Harrell Jr. pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally using campaign funds, resigned his elective office and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in a potentially wider investigation into statehouse corruption.

A $3M settlement, explosives and a baffling death in Moyock (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Alan Boyd Lanier felt the woman he dated had been unjustly treated by her attorneys, Lanier’s brother said. Lanier was killed when the truck crashed through the double doors of the Twiford Law Firm.

DuPont invests $30 million to expand Kinston manufacturing plant (Area Development News) -- E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, also known as DuPont, will invest $30 million to expand its operations in Lenoir County with plans to create 18 new jobs over the next three years in Kinston. “Our expansion is due to the strong demand for our renewable Sorona polymer,” said William Feehery, President of DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “Sorona is the cornerstone of our biomaterials business – a product with superior performance in terms of softness and stain resistance. We are pleased to be able to manufacture these innovative products in the state of North Carolina with a fantastic workforce and the support of forward-thinking leaders and the local community.” The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $80,000. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. These grants also require and are contingent upon local matches

Nearly $5 million raised for Fayetteville Civil War History Center (Fayetteville Observer) -- Fayetteville's Civil War History Center has established a firm footing - but still has a long way to go. Mac Healy, chairman of the center's board of directors, officially kicked off the proposed $65 million center with a public event that doubled as a community call to arms Thursday at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Drawing on the garden's success, Healy told an audience of more than 50 community leaders that "Fayetteville has a history of big dreams and making those dreams come true." The first phase of fundraising, said board member Mary Lynn Bryan, is a show of faith that Cumberland County supports the center.

N.C. Museum of History showcases state's film history (Wilmington Star-News) -- "Starring North Carolina" is an immersive 500-artifact, first-of-its-kind exhibit tracing the history of cinema in the Tar Heel State.

Blackbeard expert to speak in Washington, NC (AP) -- The author of a book about Blackbeard will talk about the black men on the pirate's ship when he gives the keynote address at the annual meeting of the North Carolina Maritime History Council.

Sutton disbarred for five years (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The N.C. Bar suspended the law license of a controversial Greenville attorney for five years Thursday, effectively destroying his chances of becoming a district court judge in Pitt County.

McClatchy reports net loss in third quarter (Raleigh News & Observer) -- McClatchy reported a net loss in the third quarter as the newspaper publisher (owners of the Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer) continued to be hurt by a decline in print advertising.

Community Colleges Expand Services to Increase Enrollment (TWCN-TV) -- Community colleges are expanding their programs, giving students more options and resources. Some of the expansions include the most up-to-date manufacturing and maintenance equipment.

Commission says Common Core leaving some students behind (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Charges that the current academic standards are unrealistic, geared too much toward high-achieving students and are leaving some kids behind were repeatedly mentioned Monday by members of a state commission helping to develop a replacement to the Common Core.

Shaw University celebrates 150th anniversary (AP) - Shaw University, the first historically black university in the South, is marking its 150th anniversary with a series of events. The Raleigh school is kicking off its Sesquicentennial Anniversary Celebration on Friday. Events to mark the anniversary will continue into 2015. Activities begin with the university's annual Founder's Day Convocation at 11 a.m. in Meymandi Hall at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The Rev. William J. Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, will be the keynote speaker.

UNC Boosters Outraged That Some Athletes Took Real Classes (The New Yorker/The Borowitz Report) — An organization of University of North Carolina athletic boosters expressed shock and outrage today over a report that a few members of U.N.C. sports teams may have taken real classes, despite the widespread availability of fake ones. The report, which alleges that several players may have fulfilled the curriculum requirements of actual classes, sent shock waves through the U.N.C. booster community. “These players apparently attended classes, wrote papers, and took exams,” Hal Cowlington, the president of a prominent U.N.C. booster club, said. “The impact of these distractions on their athletic performance is, to put it mildly, incalculable.” A spokesman for the university was quick to say that the cases of athletes taking real classes appeared to be “isolated incidents,” but promised that U.N.C. would press forward with a full investigation of the matter.

Failures in oversight worsened UNC academic fraud (AP) — An alarming lack of institutional oversight at the University of North Carolina allowed an academic fraud scandal to run unchecked for nearly two decades and has the school reeling from the scandal's fallout.

Questions raised by UNC-Chapel Hill bogus courses (AP) — A report detailing the academic and athletic scandal that has lingered over the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill raises a number of questions about what's next for the university and its athletics programs.

Folt: Wainstein probe is key to UNC future (Raleigh News & Observer) -- As Carol Folt arrived from the Ivy League, a cloud hung over UNC-Chapel Hill: The crisis that had enveloped academics and athletics for three years still carried unanswered questions – how did the bogus classes for athletes start, and why?

Middle schooler takes school bus for a drive (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot -- No injuries were reported on Tuesday when a middle school student climbed aboard a school bus and went for a spin. The incident happened about 4:30 p.m. outside J.C. Sawyer Elementary School, said Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Schools spokeswoman Tammy Sawyer.

What to Do About Football? (Inside Higher Ed column) -- The U. of North Carolina academic scandal is only the latest evidence of the need to distance big-time college football from the academic enterprise it corrupts, Robert Atwell argues.

Residents air concerns, frustrations over Robeson County coal ash (Fayetteville Observer) -- An emotional Lora Kay Oxendine-Taylor told a small group that she was going to do everything she could to get the word out to Native American communities about the effects of coal ash to the environment and people. "This upsets me," she said while standing inside the Osterneck Auditorium of the Robeson County Public Library. "The people out there don't know about it. "This is horrific," added Oxendine-Taylor, who lives in Clinton but is trying to relocate to Pembroke. "This room should have been packed with people." Her sentiment summed up the feeling in the room during the meeting on coal ash removal at the former Weatherspoon Steam Electric plant, no more than 10 miles from the site of this public gathering: Organize in the community and statewide, and get the word out on coal ash, which can contain hazardous materials such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury and selenium. The people who attended watched a few short films about coal-related pollution. That was followed by a discussion led by organizer Nick Wood of NC Warn, a group that advocates for climate protection through the use of clean energy, and Christine Ellis of the Winyah Rivers Foundation.

Did pols force voters to pay for coal ash cleanup (WRAL-TV) -- Coal ash cleanup is a messy topic, both literally and in terms of policy, and it becomes all the more so when injected into political campaigns.

DTE Biomass dedicates renewable energy facility in NC (Renewable News) -- DTE Biomass Energy today celebrated the completion of its 9.6-megawatt landfill gas-to-energy project at the Uwharrie Environmental Landfill in Mt. Gilead. DTE Biomass Energy last month started operating the facility at the landfill, which is owned and operated by Republic Services of North Carolina. Landfill gas at the site is used to generate renewable energy which is subsequently sold to Duke Energy Progress. The Uwharrie facility will more than double DTE Biomass' generation capacity in North Carolina, where it already operates six renewable energy projects.

NC Supreme Court a 'virtual sinkhole' for environmental law (Facing South) -- The North Carolina Supreme Court has racked up an "extraordinary record of hostility" to the environment in major cases it's considered over the past 15 years -- and with the seven-member court's three Democrats facing tough re-election challenges this year, it could soon get even more inhospitable to environmental concerns. So concludes a study released this month by John Echeverria, a professor at Vermont Law School and a former attorney for the National Audubon Society and American Rivers. He looked at the judicial electoral process in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Montana and Washington -- states that use either a partisan or nominally non-partisan method for selecting judges for their high courts -- in order to identify changes in the ideological direction of the courts' decisions. In North Carolina, where high court elections are nominally nonpartisan, Echeverria considered a total of seven environmental law cases during that period. They pertained to the state law designed to limit sediment pollution in waterways, open burning rules, water quality standards, and hog farm regulations. "Over the last fifteen years, in every instance in which the Court has reviewed a major environmental law issue, the Court has sided with the anti-environmental protection side of the dispute," Echeverria writes. He notes that the probability of the court ruling against the environment in all seven cases is 1 in 128 -- "long odds indeed." North Carolina's high court, he says, "has become a virtual sinkhole for environmental law."

$1.9 Million To Fund Clean Water Projects In Nc, Ag Cooper Says (N.C. Political News) — North Carolina’s waterways, wildlife habitat and water quality will get a boost thanks to $1.9 million in environmental grants, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced. “These grants will fund projects that protect and improve our state’s natural resources from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Pamlico Sound,” Cooper said. “Protecting these treasures is vital to our health and our economy.” The grants are the twelfth in a series awarded to environmental projects under an agreement reached in 2000 between the Attorney General’s Office and Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer. Under the agreement, Smithfield agreed to provide $50 million over 25 years to improve the environment and $15 million to North Carolina State University to fund development of new technologies for the processing and treatment of hog waste.

North Carolina ranks highly in move to solar (Triad Business Journal) -- A report released earlier this month by the Pew Charitable Trust extolled the virtues of a “new cash crop” in North Carolina. We know all about hogs and chickens, tobacco and soybeans. They’re not new.

Duke Energy offers help for low-income customers (Charlotte Business Journal) -- Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress have each launched programs providing $10 million for energy-efficiency projects for low-income customers.

McCrory To Coastal Commission: Let's Hear Your Plans (WUNC-FM) – Gov. Pat McCrory met yesterday in Wilmington with the Coastal Resources Commission. The CRC advises state government on zoning, building, and other issues that affect North Carolina’s 20 coastal counties. It was the first time the Governor had publicly met with the CRC since the State Legislature overhauled it last year. McCrory and Republican leaders in the General Assembly appointed many new members. Frank Gorham, the current chair, works in the oil and gas industry.

The Starriest Sky on the East Coast (Coastal Review) -- Cape Hatteras National Seashore could become the first "dark sky park" in the world that's on a coastline. Its brilliant nightscape of stars is an environmental, economic and scientific resource.

Yadkin Riverkeeper Petitions EPA for Superfund Assessment of Alcoa Badin Works (Camel City Dispatch) -- According to a press release the Yadkin Riverkeeper has asked the United States Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an investigation into the shuttered Badin Works aluminum smelter in Badin, NC, in order to determine whether the smelter should be declared a Superfund site.

Aiken would help unlock congressional gridlock (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Clay Aiken would work against the partisan bickering on which U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers thrives.

UNC Chapel Hill must find its way back (Winston-Salem Journal) -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a school revered for courageously confronting the biggest issues of our times, spent too much time cowering from the rat in its own yard: the pursuit of high-profile athletics at the expense of academics.

UNC must change the culture surrounding athletics (Wilmington Star-News) -- The academic integrity of the university is far more important than ticket sales or a winning season.

Chancellor signals new beginning at UNC (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- A former federal prosecutor presented his findings this week of an investigation into an academics scandal at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Three ways to increase voter turnout in N.C. (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Fewer than half the state’s registered voters are likely to participate in the local-heavy Nov. 4 mid-term elections. We have the greatest democracy in the world, but we can’t say our elections are fully free, fair and accessible when entire communities clearly don’t find them so.

On marriage, let’s move beyond fear (Charlotte Observer column) -- Reading editorials of those opposing marriage equality, I am reminded of that prophetic phrase of Franklin Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” I have read fears that marriage equality will destroy the family unit, perpetuate evil and moral erosion, foster communism, and lead to the destruction of our democracy.

Calling all NC veterans to get out and vote (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Rarely is an election so important for our veteran community. The Department of Veterans Affairs has faded from the headlines after a summer of revelations regarding secret wait lists, months-long waits for doctor’s appointments and veterans dying while waiting for care.

Shame at UNC (Greensboro News & Record) -- The Wainstein investigation uncovers academic fraud, lack of oversight and layers of knowledge and complicity.

How we see the appellate races (Charlotte Observer) -- Many voters don’t realize it, but the most consequential N.C. Supreme Court election in a decade will be decided Nov. 4.



In Boone

From Watauga Watch:

Meanwhile, Republican Party Chair Anne Marie Yates still likes harassing student voters much more than trying to win their votes, so she was busying herself yesterday taking photographs of any student she saw in the Student Union wearing a candidate T-shirt, alleging illegal "electioneering" inside "the polling place," which under this present regime is the entire Student Union, a very large building of three floors where all sorts of activities go on all the time and where hundreds of students are buying coffee, gabbing, studying, and hanging out, and some of them -- gasp! -- may be wearing a candidate T-shirt or sporting a campaign button on a backpack, but otherwise doing nothing that fits the definition of "electioneering." But Anne Marie Yates filed an official complaint about it. She apparently wants to decree that any student wearing an offending T-shirt must disrobe before entering the Student Union.

Never underestimate the power of Republicans to go out of their way to offend and alienate potential voters.

Did she report this one?

Or does she look the other way if you wear Tillis stuff?

In actuality, people can wear clothing or paraphernalia in the polling place so long as they don't engage in active electioneering.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014