Thursday News: The new Jim Crow

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NC'S AFRICAN-AMERICAN STUDENTS ARE ARRESTED OR SUSPENDED AT ALARMING RATE: In North Carolina, black students are nearly six times more likely to be arrested at school and school activities than white students, according to recently released federal data analyzed by WRAL News. That disparity is among the worst in the country. Law enforcement arrested more than 600 North Carolina students on public school grounds, during off-campus school activities or on school transportation during the 2015-16 school year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Education. In North Carolina, 9.2 out of every 10,000 black students were arrested, compared to 1.6 white students. Only three other states – West Virginia, Iowa and Rhode Island – had a higher disparity between the arrest rates of black and white students. About 147 out of every 1,000 black students were suspended from North Carolina schools in 2015-16. That's compared to about 44 white students out of every 1,000.

NEW ADVOCACY GROUP TARGETS THOMAS FARR APPOINTMENT IN AD CAMPAIGN: Farr is a Raleigh-based attorney who represented North Carolina Republican lawmakers in cases involving racial gerrymanders and a voter ID law. He also worked for the late Sen. Jesse Helms, including during the 1990 campaign when more than 100,000 mostly black voters in the state were sent a postcard with inaccurate information. The ad plays up his connections to Tom Ellis, another former Helms staffer. Ellis was a director of the Pioneer Fund, "which financed research into theories that blacks are genetically inferior to whites," according to a 1983 Washington Post story about Ellis' nomination fight to be on the Board for International Broadcasting. The ad says that Farr gave a speech in honor of the founder of a hate group (Ellis)," citing the Post story. The liberal Southern Poverty Law Center touts Ellis as Farr's "longtime boss and mentor." Ellis was considered Helms' chief strategist and political alter ego and has recently been involved in the GOP redistricting strategy.

NC GOP BUDGET AMENDMENT SHENANIGANS THE WORST IN DECADES OF BUDGETING: Republicans in the North Carolina legislature are fast-tracking this year's budget adjustments so quickly they're preventing rank-and-file members — particularly Democrats — from formally offering their own changes. House and Senate GOP leaders have been negotiating privately for weeks on how to alter the second year of the two-year government spending plan approved last summer. They expect to unveil the final product as soon as early next week, Republicans said Wednesday, with votes following soon after. What's different this year is a plan by legislative leaders to use a procedural method that prevents amendments to their package, either in committee or during floor debate. Skipping this process completely hasn't happened with a budget since at least the early 1970s, according to Gerry Cohen, a now-retired staff lawyer for the General Assembly.

CITIZENS COMMENT ON ALLOWING "GRANNY FLATS" AT RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL MEETING: Though they made no official decisions, Raleigh leaders got an earful Wednesday on a long divisive issue — backyard cottages. Supporters of the dwellings vastly outnumbered opponents during a city committee meeting, saying they want to have the cottages without asking their neighbors for permission first. The secondary, standalone buildings — sometimes called granny flats or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) — are normally used as a place for friends or family to live or are rented out for extra income. They are not permitted under Raleigh's laws, but they've been hotly contested for years. Crowder gave each side — those in full support of backyard cottages and those who didn’t — 45 minutes each to address the council members. There was no staff presentation outlining possible rules to allow backyard cottages, and the committee made no recommendation or took action.

NFL OWNERS VOTE TO FINE TEAMS IF PLAYERS KNEEL DURING ANTHEM: Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously by the owners at their spring meeting in Atlanta, but it was met with immediate skepticism by the players’ union. “We want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand,” Goodell said. “That’s all personnel, and to make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something that we think we owe. We’ve been very sensitive on making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on.” In a sign that players were not part of the discussions, any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team — not the players. The NFL Players Association said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.



We call them "tourist homes"

Just last week we (the Planning Board) approved a special use permit for a backyard cottage (already in place) to be used for AirBnb purposes. Our ordinance already has a chapter on "tourist homes," which has a handful of rules including food controls, to keep people from starting up amateur restaurants on their property.

As with other issues like zoning, anybody whose property is contiguous was notified 2 weeks prior to the meeting, to give them an opportunity to voice their discontent. But we don't give those citizens the power to approve or disapprove what their neighbor does. Because, you know. That would be crazy.