COACH ACCUSED OF EMBEZZLING NEARLY $400,000 FROM SCHOOL (AP) -- State officials say the basketball coach and athletic director at Trinity Christian, a Fayetteville Christian school is accused of embezzling nearly $400,000 from the religious organization. The school has the largest number of students receiving state-funded vouchers – 164 – and received $342,294 this year. Heath Curtis Vandevender is accused of embezzling and converting to his own use state withholding taxes totaling $388,422 while he was vice president at Truth Outreach Center from 2008 to 2015. The center also is known as Trinity Community Services in Fayetteville.
SHOULD INCOME TAX CAP BE IN NC’S CONSTITUTION? BERGER WANTS IT SO (Raleigh News & Observer) -- N.C. Senate Republican leaders are trying again to cap personal income taxes by amending the state’s constitution. “Amending the state constitution to put in place a low and arbitrary tax rate on income will tie the hands of future lawmakers and continue to make it difficult to meet community needs,” Budget and Tax Center director Alexandra Sirota said in an email. “Policymakers should be budgeting based on what our communities need to thrive, not limiting flexibility and forcing cuts to vital services or shifts to other taxes that ensure middle- and low-income taxpayers pay more.”
AMAZON WINDFARM POWERS UP (Outer Banks Sentinel) -- Despite an eleventh-hour effort by some North Carolina legislators to derail it, Avangrid Renewables announced on Feb. 9 that its $400 million, 104-turbine Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East is fully operational and "will produce enough energy to power the equivalent of approximately 61,000 U.S. homes each year." The first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina and the Southeast, the 34-square-mile site is located on 22,000 acres of farmland in Pasquotank and Perquimans Counties owned by 60 local farmers.
TELL US WHO THE JUDGES ARE (Capitol Broadcasting Co.) -- When the son of North Carolina's state Senate boss is a judge on the Court of Appeals, citizens must to know, who is making judicial decisions, particularly in cases that directly involve the General Assembly. We need assurances that there isn't any appearance of, or actual, conflicts of interest. The refusal of the Court of Appeals to provide ANY information about the three-judge panel that heard the case, leaves open to question the objectivity of the court’s action and whether the judges are upholding the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct. First, openness in the conduct of justice is a fundamental principal of our democracy, enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Knowing what happens and who does it, demonstrates that justice is fair and impartial. Second, is the matter of judicial ethics. While there are 14 judges on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, one judge who stands out uniquely: Phil Berger Jr., the name-sake and son of the boss of the North Carolina Senate.