Saturday News: Secret Sam?


UNC BOG VIOLATED OPEN MEETINGS LAW DISCUSSING CONFEDERATE STATUE: The UNC system board chairman, Harry Smith, said the subcommittee didn’t have a quorum when it met. But he pledged that future meetings would be public. “Quite frankly I wasn’t even aware of the fact that we didn’t notice it,” Smith, a Greenville businessman, said in an interview. “I will tell you that it should be. We shouldn’t have a problem with that. I mean, it’s a very public conversation.” The UNC system’s top attorney, Tom Shanahan, declined to respond to questions about why the meeting was not announced. The committee’s chairman, Jim Holmes, said the meeting was informal, lasting about an hour or hour and a half. The five Board of Governors members on the special board committee talked about the issue with several UNC-Chapel Hill trustee members, he said. “We’re just trying to figure out where we’re going,” said Holmes, a Raleigh businessman.

NC A&T CHEERLEADER FIGHTS BACK AFTER RAPE ACCUSATIONS IGNORED BY COACHES: Two cheerleading coaches at a North Carolina college have resigned following rape allegations by a cheer team member who says they didn't report her claims. The News & Record reports that a North Carolina A&T State University spokesman announced the departures Thursday, a day after the university said the cheer team won't perform at its basketball games or at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament in March. A&T's cheerleaders haven't performed since early February after a cheerleader alleged publicly that a former member of the marching band raped her. The cheerleader says the team's two coaches brushed off her claims and didn't report them as required by federal law. She had demanded that both coaches be fired.

MORE GUNS ARE GETTING INTO NC'S SCHOOLS: At a time when fears are up after the Parkland mass school shooting, a new report shows more guns are being found in North Carolina public schools — even though overall acts of reported school crime are down. The report shows that 128 acts of possession of a firearm or powerful explosive were reported in the state’s schools during the 2017-18 school year. That’s 23 cases more than the 2016-17 school year, or a 22 percent increase. (More than one student can be charged when a gun is found on campus.) Overall though, the number of acts of school crime and violence reported in North Carolina’s public schools dropped by 87 to 9,747 last school year. The number of criminal acts per 1,000 students dropped from 6.48 to 6.41. Detailed school crime figures for individual school districts, traditional public schools and charter schools have not been released yet. The school crime and violence report, which also includes data on student suspensions and dropouts, will be presented at next week’s State Board of Education meeting.

ELON POLL FINDS VOTERS ARE SHAKEN UP BY NC09 ELECTION FRAUD: After a congressional race marked by allegations of misconduct and criminal charges, half of North Carolina voters say election fraud is a “major problem” in the state, the Elon University Poll has found. The survey was conducted shortly after the State Board of Elections decided Feb. 21 to order a new election in the 9th Congressional District. That ruling came after days of testimony outlining allegations that a GOP operative now facing criminal charges had tampered with absentee ballots. Republican Mark Harris, had who apparently won the election over Democrat Dan McCready by a narrow margin, now says he will not run in the new election. Against this backdrop, about one in five North Carolina voters say they are “not at all confident” future elections will be fair. “Now, months out from the tainted 9th District election, North Carolina voters are broadly skeptical of elections in the state,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and an associate professor of political science. “A majority of the electorate has clear concerns about the fairness of future elections and the extent of fraud.”

VAST NETWORK OF MASSAGE PARLORS IN AMERICA USE INDENTURED SERVITUDE TO FUEL SEX TRADE: Many women arrive in the United States from China bearing heavy debt burdens and try to find work in restaurants or nail salons. But the money isn’t good enough for the five-figure debts weighing them down. The massage jobs are presented as opportunities for fast, easy money. Some fear retaliation by traffickers to their families in China and some feel morally indebted to those who helped find them a job, said Chris Muller, the director of training and external affairs at Restore NYC, an anti-sex-trafficking organization. “This is a powerful exploitation tactic,” he said. “Any favor is implied there is going to be a payment back. ‘Look at what I have done for you. I found you a job. I found you a place to live and this is how you repay me?’” The traffickers create false back stories, giving women the appearance of an established life at home, including a spouse and bank account, all to help them qualify for a tourist visa. They even produce fake diplomas from massage schools. The tab is usually $40,000 to $60,000, he said. “They owe a bunch of money to the people who recruited them,” he said.