Daily dose: Who's your daddy? edition

If the Republican Party were a father, it would be in jail for child abuse.


Budget, tax reform will be finalized behind closed doors (WRAL-TV) -- The House and Senate have both offered up tax and spending plans. Now leaders from the two chambers will negotiate over their differences largely behind closed doors.

Local leaders may feel sting in tax reform (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Municipal leaders say the tax overhaul tentatively approved in the Senate last week would cut so much local government revenue that, to balance their budgets, they’d ultimately have to raise property taxes. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who is sponsoring the plan, touts it as a break for most taxpayers because it flattens the income tax rate, repeals the estate tax, and eliminates the 2 percent local food sales tax, among other changes. But, by repealing the food sales tax, the local privilege license tax and a sales tax reimbursement to local governments, Berger’s plan cuts more than $150 million in annual revenue from local government when fully implemented in 2018, according to the N.C. League of Municipalities, a nonpartisan advocate for cities, towns and counties.

United Methodists scold General Assembly, take stands on social issues (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The North Carolina United Methodist Church has adopted resolutions on Medicaid expansion, family planning, homosexuality and a Philadelphia abortion doctor convicted of murder. The conference, at its three-day conference in Greenville that concluded Saturday, also took to task the North Carolina General Assembly for a spate of legislation that run contrary to the church’s social principles, including voter ID, cuts in education, access to health care, putting the tax burden on the poor and middle class, and degrading the environment. The conference supports expanding Medicaid that the federal government would have funded to extend health coverage to about half a million low-income people in the state. The General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory refused the expansion.
In budget battle, Rural Center will be a point of contention (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The state Senate wants to end the NC Rural Economic Development Center's funding. Gov. Pat McCrory wants to cut it. And the House wants to give the center more money.

Live Wire: Protesters at General Assembly held in cells until they see judge (Fayetteville Observer) -- Q: What happens after NAACP protesters are arrested at the General Assembly? Are they jailed or fined?

Budget cuts could hurt Smart Start (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- At the federal level, local Nash-Edgecombe Economic Development officials said the organization’s Head Start program has received significant funding cuts this year.

Juneteenth Celebration: Activist blasts policies of GOP (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Pleasant temperatures and a food-filled breeze greeted Saturday’s 12th annual Juneteenth celebration at Waterfront Park.

Politicians, powerful like Art Pope touch N.C. Rural Center cash (Charlotte Observer) -- People and businesses from across the political landscape are getting in on the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center deals. One of the biggest names: Discount store business Variety Wholesalers, whose CEO, Art Pope, is a well-known supporter of organizations that criticize taxpayer subsidies for private businesses.

In budget battle, Rural Center will be a point of contention (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The state Senate wants to end the NC Rural Economic Development Center's funding. Gov. Pat McCrory wants to cut it. And the House wants to give the center more money.

A sewer grant, but sparse development in Shelby (Raleigh News & Observer) -- More than five years after the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center put $149,000 toward a sewer line to help make a mixed-use project in Shelby happen, it is mostly grassy fields dotted with hay bales, sliced up by roads that lead to dead ends.

Gaming industry steps up donations (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Sweepstakes operators, seeking legislation that would legalize their outlawed industry, have flexed their political muscle over the past three years, contributing as much money to N.C. candidates as large utilities.

Danger of carbon monoxide in hotels gets new scrutiny (Charlotte Observer) -- Three carbon monoxide deaths at a Boone hotel are only the latest cases where the lethal gas has poisoned hotel guests.

DHHS Secretary says deaths shouldn't have happened (Charlotte Observer) -- The head of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Saturday that three deaths at a Boone motel “should have never happened,” and the state is reviewing its role in the troubled investigation. Secretary Aldona Wos’ statement comes a day after the resignation of Dr. Brent Hall, the Watauga County medical examiner who investigated the deaths. “My heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones of Shirley and Daryl Jenkins, and young Jeffrey Williams,” her statement read. “These deaths were a tragedy that should have never happened. The Department of Health and Human Services is continuing to gather the facts. I have instructed my staff to work with local officials to identify measures to ensure tragedies like this never happen again.”

NC rural agency makes questionable job claims (AP) -- The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center has approved questionable loans while making job creation claims that aren't supported by facts, according to a newspaper's investigation.

Most Winston-Salem government salaries lag behind peer city levels (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Most employees who work for the city of Winston-Salem, from the rank-and-file police officer to the top-brass supervisor, get paid less on average than their peers in eight other large North Carolina cities, according to a review of 2012 salary data.

Radio spot targets bill rolling back Hatteras protections (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Environmentalists are worried about a bill coming up for a committee vote in Congress this week that would roll back coastal protections against beach driving. They’ve just launched a radio ad campaign in North Carolina to defeat Senate Bill 486, introduced by North Carolina Senators Kay Hagen and Richard Burr. The bill would scrap the Cape Hatteras management policy for managing off-road vehicle use, which has been in place since 2012 following extensive public input. The bill calls for return to an interim policy, which environmental groups say devastated seat turtle and shorebird populations. Defenders of Wildlife has put out the radio spot.

Beaufort County Ed Tech Center graduation (Washington Daily News) -- Beaufort County Educational Technology Center graduated 40 students in a ceremony held at Beaufort County Community College Saturday morning.

Happy 25th anniversary to 'Bull Durham' (ESPN) -- Twenty-five years ago this weekend, we learned that candlesticks make a great wedding present, that the rose goes in the front on a garter belt and that a young pitching prospect should never, ever -- and I mean ever -- shake off his veteran catcher. Filmed largely in Durham and also in Asheville then released on June 15, 1988, "Bull Durham" is considered by many as the finest baseball movie ever made, and it rivals "Rocky" as the finest sports movie. It's the funny, touching and, of course, sexual tale of veteran catcher Crash Davis, pitching prospect Ebby Calvin (Nuke) LaLoosh, passionate "fan" Annie Savoy and life in the low minors with the Class A Durham Bulls.

Manufacturing gets creative boost through Art-Force (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Through Art-Force, artists work to design new products for manufacturers in distressed areas. For the past year, Art-Force has been working to develop artist-manufacturer collaborations in Siler City, Sanford and Greenville, three cities whose roots in manufacturing shriveled

Facebook Made Me Do It (New York Times) -- People, of course, have always found ways to manipulate media — whether print, television or digital — to get attention. But Zeynep Tufekci, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says the vast amplification of the potential audience a single person can reach has raised the stakes for all online activity. “The fact that the world is going to see you increases the risks you are willing to take,” she said. “We see this all the time on social media in protests, and the same is true for graffiti. It’s performative.”

Immigrants sow new idea: They're also here to give back (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A group of immigrants from many nations gathered for a day of crop work in Durham, in part to contribute and give back to the United States now that they're here.

Phelps’ bankruptcy trustee wants to seize $103,764 (Winston-Salem Journal) -- A bankruptcy trustee wants U.S. Bankruptcy Court permission to seize $103,764 that has been found in safe-deposit boxes belonging to Calvin Phelps and his wife, Lisa Yamaoka Phelps. The request, made Thursday by attorneys representing trustee Peter Tourtellot, is the latest development involving Phelps. Phelps once owned four bankrupt tobacco companies in Mocksville: Alternative Brands Inc., Renegade Holdings Inc., Renegade Tobacco Co. and Cutting Edge Enterprises Inc. Friday also marked a year’s time since Phelps pleaded guilty to federal charges of committing fraud, making false statements and unlawful financial transactions. Phelps’ cigarette export scheme to avoid tobacco settlement payments of about $4.98 million could cost him up to 43 years in prison.

Veteran Officer Dies During Motorcycle Ride for Charity (Southern Pines Pilot) -- A charity motorcycle ride for Special Olympics turned tragic today when a veteran police officer participating in the ride died in a one-vehicle accident.

Sonny Conrad, owner of Lexington’s Barbecue Center, dies (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Sonny Conrad, the owner of The Barbecue Center in Lexington, died at age 75. The Lexington Dispatch reported that Conrad died Friday morning at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. Conrad was also known for pioneering the Barbecue Festival, one of the largest festivals in North Carolina. He was one of six restaurant owners who agreed to participate in the festival in 1984. It has since been a tradition for Conrad to present the first barbecue sandwich of the festival to the mayor of Lexington.

Lillington hog farmer works to lessen the environmental harm (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Not long after Tom Butler got into the business, the impacts of the lagoons on water and air quality became more widely known, and he started seeking ways to lessen them. Since then, he has used a mix of grants, incentives and his own money to cover his lagoons, lessening their environmental impact.

Plan for Outer Banks offshore wind farm is generating blowback (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Communities along the 45-mile stretch are concerned that the giant turbines, which could be placed 6 miles offshore, will hurt beach tourism, cause shipping hazards and threaten wildlife.

NC Gov. Pat McCrory cheers on UNC energy savings (San Francisco Chronicle) -- A UNC system energy efficiency initiative estimated to save $25 million is willing cheers from North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory said Friday in a statement that the UNC Board of Governors will save $25 million in taxpayer money over seven years through the installation of energy-efficient lighting fixtures and other efforts. The agreement will lead to the installation of more than 100,000 energy-efficient lighting fixtures in classrooms, dormitories and other facilities across 13 UNC campuses, UNC TV, the NC Arboretum and the state Department of Commerce Energy Office. North Carolina-based Johnson Controls Inc. will lead the program. The effort includes CREE, a major energy-efficient lighting firm also based in the state.

Pat McCrory praises UNC energy efficiency (Mountain Xpress) -- Gov. Pat McCrory is praising a University of North Carolina system energy efficiency initiative estimated to save $25 million.

Swim ban at 2 Falls Lake beaches tied to bacteria (WRAL-TV) -- Two popular beaches along the shores of Falls Lake are closed this weekend after tests revealed unsafe levels of bacteria in the water. The state Division of Parks and Recreation closed the beach Friday after a weekly test showed bacteria levels higher than allowed by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards at Sandling Beach, Beaverdam and the Hollypoint boat ramp area. Swimming will be prohibited in those areas until they observe back-to-back days where tests show bacteria has retreated to an acceptable level.

Hydrilla: Fast-growing weed threatens to choke Lake Waccamaw (Fayetteville Observer) -- Nobody knew what it was at first, just an incredibly fast-spreading aquatic weed near the public boat ramp on Lake Waccamaw.

NCGA too at ease keeping public's business secret (Wilmington Star-News) -- The taxpayers should have a right to see the process that will determine the final state budget.

McCrory's Unwise Choice of a Word (Southern Pines Pilot) -- Gov. Pat McCrory must — or should — be regretting his choice of words in referring to the protesters who have been flocking to Raleigh in recent weeks as “outsiders.

July's changes to unemployment benefits will punish the jobless (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The human cost of Republican ideology in cutting unemployment benefits is about to be felt by tens of thousands of North Carolinians who'll likely face added financial hardships. In addition, millions of dollars will be lost to the state's economy in one of the worst legislative actions

Auction - Government for sale? Consumer-loan bill says it is (Fayetteville Observer) -- Anyone who doesn't believe North Carolina government is for sale to the highest bidder should look at how the consumer-finance industry won the right to raise its already-astronomical interest rates.

Uncivil to civil disobedience (New Bern Sun Journal) -- Really governor, “outsiders” . . . really? Really? That’s how Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly are now addressing a growing group of protesters collected weekly at the General Assembly under the self-made heading of “Moral Mondays.” The only thing missing is the word “agitators.”

GOP finds tax reform hard to accomplish (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- If modernizing North Carolina’s Depression-era tax code was an easy task, it would have been accomplished decades ago.

Senate tax 'reform' lacking (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s office boasted that the chamber approved “compromise tax reform legislation” with a vote this week, a claim that one prominent Republican disputes. Sen. Bob Rucho, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and author of an alternate tax bill, resigned his committee chairmanship this week saying the measure showed a lack of leadership. In fact, the bill passed by the Senate on Thursday does seek to blend a mix of competing ideas, all of which hail from the Republican efforts to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthiest individuals at the expense of the poor. This is not reform legislation so much as it is a massive tax cut that will slash revenue and inflict long-term damage to the state. … Rucho is correct: This “compromise” demonstrates an absence of leadership in Raleigh. While no one doubts the need for reform, the manner of its pursuit leaves much to be desired.

Here lies tax reform, 2012-13 (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- The House has rolled out its plan, and the Senate has rolled out an alternative plan. Those plans focus almost exclusively on cutting corporate and personal income taxes, rather than revamping the 1930s tax code. So tax reform is dead. In its place, we have large tax cuts, the size and shape of which will be worked out in a House-Senate conference committee. Cutting taxes is in the Republican comfort zone. Reforming the tax code is not.

Helping the poor? Four measures to reconsider (Charlotte Observer) -- North Carolina’s lawmakers can’t provide all the solutions for effectively tackling poverty in the state. But they can do some things to help, and as important, they can avoid doing some things that will harm. Here are a few things they’re considering – or have already pushed through this legislative session – that will hurt the poor and working class. They should reconsider.

Warning - Wreckage ahead (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Most of the Democrats in the state House of Representatives got the email Monday. Their Republican counterparts, it appears, got a variation of it earlier. I don't expect the note's author got a satisfying response.

Veterans' disability claims: Hagan right to press for logjam break (Winston-Salem Journal) -- We’re encouraged that a high-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will visit the Winston-Salem regional office to investigate why the wait here for veterans seeking a ruling on their disability claims is the second longest in the VA’s Southern region. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., pressed Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in a letter earlier this year to dispatch an official to Winston-Salem where more than 7,000 North Carolina veterans have been waiting for at least a year and 700 have been waiting more than two years. Hagan’s office announced last week that Allison Hickey, the VA’s undersecretary for benefits, will visit the Winston-Salem office, the Journal’s Wesley Young reported.

Celia Rivenbark - Hey IRS, maybe y'all should shop around more (Wilmington Star-News) -- It would almost be an improvement to name Amanda Bynes as new IRS director.

N.C. poverty is real, grim and deserves attention (Charlotte Observer column) -- Not everyone will agree that the Moral Monday protests that have brought thousands to the state Capitol recently, and resulted in more than 350 arrests, are the right course to air grievances against policies of the N.C. legislature. Yet the protests are shining a light on something shameful in this state – a problem this legislature, and previous ones, have largely ignored: the dire condition of the state’s poor.

Safe but afraid no way for Americans to live (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- The government argues that these security measures have derailed terrorist actions and have made us safer. Perhaps, but at what cost? If we end up physically safe, but afraid of expressing our views, are we better off? Many patriots risked or gave their lives to protect us from police states that sought to conquer us in wars. Will we now surrender to our own government the freedoms that generations before us fought to protect?

On these dependable rocks rests my son's future (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- I spent all of my childhood and part of my adult life not knowing who my father was, but I never went a day without one. When I was at an age too young to remember, my grandparents took us from the care of my mother who, coupled with addiction, unfortunately did not have the tools to care for us. So as long as I could remember, I always had a father, my grandfather.