R.I.P. Durham-Orange Light Rail


It was a nice dream while it lasted:

The GoTriangle board of trustees voted unanimously but reluctantly Wednesday to end the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project. After a closed-door session Wednesday, general manager Jeff Mann recommended to the board that the agency discontinue the $2.7 billion construction project to connect UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill with Duke University and other destinations along an 18-mile route.

Opposition from Duke University, escalating project costs and two state deadlines were forcing possible major cuts in the 19-station project, including eliminating a planned stop at N.C. Central University, GoTriangle officials said.

To say this is "unfortunate" would be a gross understatement. No plan is perfect, but this one was pretty damn good. *sigh*

Thursday News: Fascist state

NC REPUBLICANS WANT TO FORCE SHERIFFS TO HELP ICE: Republicans said Wednesday that since multiple sheriffs around the state were elected in 2018 on anti-ICE platforms, it’s necessary to change state law to force them to work with ICE. In North Carolina, county jails are run by the local sheriff. “These sanctuary sheriffs are putting politics ahead of public safety,” said Republican Rep. Destin Hall of Caldwell County, who sponsored the bill. But Democrats said it’s an overreaching government policy that insults voters and law enforcement alike. “Who are we to tell our law enforcement officials, who were elected recently, how to behave?” asked Rep. Wesley Harris, a Democrat from Charlotte, where the local sheriff’s race was one of the races won by a candidate who spoke out against ICE, Sheriff Garry McFadden.

Harry Brown attacks wind energy in NC (again)

Allison Riggs makes strong showing at Supreme Court

And she didn't take any crap from Brett Kavanaugh:

Justice Neil Gorsuch seemed to agree that the problem of partisan gerrymandering is one that should be left for the political branches of government to deal with. Justice Brett Kavanaugh echoed this concern. He told Allison Riggs, who argued for a second group of challengers in the North Carolina case, that he understood “some of your argument to be that extreme partisan gerrymandering is a problem for democracy.” Referring to activity in the states and in Congress to combat partisan gerrymandering, Kavanaugh asked whether we have reached a moment when the other actors can do it.

Riggs responded that North Carolina, at least, is not at that moment. When Kavanaugh responded, “I’m thinking more nationally,” Riggs shot back that “other options don’t relieve this Court of its duty to vindicate constitutional rights.”

And of course she's right. What Kavanaugh doesn't grasp (or is ignoring) is the fact that some of those states allow popular movements to amend their constitutions without prior approval by the Legislative body. Like they did in Michigan, where proponents had to collect enough signatures to get independent redistricting on the November ballot. North Carolina doesn't allow for that, making Kavanaugh's argument both inappropriate and irrelevant. Also inappropriate:

Wednesday News: A win for choice


JUDGE RULES NC'S 20 WEEK BAN ON ABORTIONS IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL: North Carolina’s ban on women having abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy is unconstitutional, a federal court ruled Monday. But the ruling won’t go into effect immediately. The judge gave state lawmakers 60 days to either write a new abortion law or appeal his ruling. The ruling was a win for Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU who sued to overturn the law. “All decisions about pregnancy, including abortion, are deeply personal and should be decided between a woman and her doctor, without medically-unnecessary interference from politicians,” said Jenny Black, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, in a press release. “This ruling affirms that right and (sends) a clear message to politicians that women deserve our care, not our judgment.”

Tuesday News: Trying to get cute


LEWIS AND HISE GET SPANKED BY 3-JUDGE PANEL OVER PRIVILEGE: This state-level lawsuit targets legislative districts, accusing Republican leaders of drawing maps so unfairly stacked against Democrats that they violate the state constitution. As part of the suit, 10 current or former legislators and two staffers claimed legislative privilege, allowing them to opt out of answering questions. But as a deadline approached, two of those legislators – Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, who chaired key redistricting committees – reversed themselves, seeking to testify. The late change caused problems for Common Cause's suit, the group said, because various reports were due within days and the group's attorneys had not deposed Lewis or Hise. Judges Paul Ridgeway, Joseph Crosswhite and Alma Hinton agreed with Common Cause that letting Lewis and Hise waive privilege this late in the process "would provide an unfair benefit." As a result, all 12 people who claimed privilege in the case will get it, and some testimony from Lewis and Hise may be blocked during the coming trial.


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