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Monday News: Tom's turn

STEYER VISITS MCDOUGALD TERRACE, SAYS CONDITIONS ARE "CRUEL": Conditions at McDougald Terrace in Durham are an example of systematic “cruelty” that has to be addressed by the U.S. government and its leaders, Democratic presidential hopeful Tom Steyer said. Steyer, a billionaire turned champion of Democratic causes, visited the Triangle this weekend including the public housing complex where residents have evacuated after carbon monoxide concerns, and where at least two children have died from causes that haven’t so far been publicly identified. “I went to McDougald Terrace to actually see what was going on,” he said Sunday. “To talk to some of the people who are there, some of the people who lived there and some of the people are leading the movement to repair those projects.”

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


DISHONEST LEADERSHIP LEAVES OUR GOVERNMENT MISMANAGED: Don’t be distracted. This is not about good or bad; conservative or liberal policies. This is not about Democrats or Republicans. This is about sound management, doing the job, the security of the nation. This is about Donald Trump’s character. It is about his inability, not simply failure, to tell the truth and accept its reality. Without the truth it is impossible to earn the trust to be a leader. Leaders who lack trust cannot manage. The current white-hot crisis with Iran and Iraq is the latest example. An impulsive action – the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s security and intelligence forces – and the national security crisis that has ensued. Trump’s threats, including tweets about targeting Iranian cultural sites, result in advisers forced to follow deflection and justification. In this case, the Pentagon didn’t even try. In a starkly unequivocal pronouncement, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the “laws of armed conflict” prohibit attacking cultural sites and the armed forces had no plans to do so – despite the president’s declaration.

Saturday News: Not so fast, Mark


JOHNSON'S "EMERGENCY" ISTATION CONTRACT MAY BE BLOCKED: The state school superintendent’s $928,570 “emergency purchase” of a controversial school reading curriculum earlier this week could be canceled because it lacked the approval of North Carolina’s chief information officer. In a memo Friday, Patti Bowers, chief procurement officer for the state, said North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction “has not provided adequate justification for an emergency purchase.” The memo said Johnson has until 10 a.m. Tuesday to provide the state Department of Information Technology with “sufficient amended justification” for the emergency purchase. The memo also said Chief Information Officer Eric Boyette could decide to cancel or suspend the purchase. In a heated exchange with Johnson on Wednesday, board members questioned the amount of the contract and said they had been unable to get a copy from DPI staff.

Friday News: Campaign posturing?


MARK JOHNSON CONTINUES ACCUSATIONS ABOUT 3RD GRADERS BEING PROMOTED WRONGLY: State Superintendent Mark Johnson charged Wednesday that thousands of third-grade grade students have been improperly promoted to the fourth grade when they aren’t proficient in their reading skills. But local school leaders argued against making policy changes that would force them to hold children back. State Board of Education members asked local superintendents and teachers in attendance Wednesday to describe how they implement the program. They argued they’re following the law while taking advantage of its flexibility to decide whether to promote students. “You have to have both flexibility and accountability,” Wake County Superintendent Cathy Moore told state board members. “If you have one without the other, then you’re losing the impact of the ability to actually make a difference individually with children. So you need to find a way to do both.”

Thursday News: DTH rocks


DAILY TAR HEEL SUES UNC-BOG OVER SILENT SHAM: The Daily Tar Heel, UNC-Chapel Hill’s student-run newspaper, is taking legal action against the University System, its Board of Governors and individual board members over the controversial Silent Sam statue agreements. The DTH Media Group filed a lawsuit Tuesday saying the $2.5 million settlement and additional $74,999 payment between the UNC System and the N.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans were “conceived, negotiated, approved and executed in total secrecy” in violation of North Carolina Open Meetings Law. The group is asking the court to declare both settlements null and void. They argue that the group of board members assigned to work on the Silent Sam issue are members of a public body and therefore, they were required to meet in public, give notice of the meetings and keep full and accurate meeting minutes.

Wednesday News: More rare than an albino deer

ONLY ONE CASE OF A VOTER IMPERSONATING ANOTHER VOTER: But while voter fraud is rare, it does sometimes happen. How much is an unknown question, since there’s no nationwide data, and almost no state data, either. North Carolina, in fact, is perhaps the only state in the country to track such data. North Carolina compiled a voter fraud audit after the 2016 elections. Officials didn’t repeat it after the 2018 elections — although they did stop an alleged fraud scheme in Bladen County to help a Republican congressional candidate. In the state’s audit of the 2016 elections, North Carolina documented 508 allegations of voter fraud. That’s about 0.01% of the 4.8 million votes cast. Officials said that even if every allegation turned out to be true, no election results would have changed. And only one case out of those 508 was of someone impersonating another voter at the polls — which is the kind of fraud that voter ID would stop.

Tuesday News: GOP mismanagement


REPORT DETAILS LACK OF FUNDING FOR EDUCATION OVER LAST DECADE: But WestEd says that when adjusted to 2018 dollars, per-pupil spending in North Carolina has declined about 6% since 2009–10. The report also says that, based on 2017 dollars, average salaries for the state’s teachers that year were lower than compared to 2003 or 2009. This level of education funding, according to the report, has led to problems such as fewer teachers employed, “stagnating salaries” and “underfunded” high-poverty schools. “They try to address it, but unfortunately, funding is not there — that’s what we are told,” an unnamed middle school teacher says in the report. “For instance … we don’t have textbooks, we need to make copies of reading selections to teach those kids. We only get, like, 1,500 copies per nine weeks. … [W]e [use] our own money, we have to buy cartridges for our printers to print this.”

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Joining the ranks of the chickenhawks:

Aside from the fact Trump didn't notify/confer with the Gang of Eight in Congress before doing this, which should have both houses up in arms, he put thousands of our military folks in the region in danger wagging this particular dog. Tillis should be calling for restraint, not cheerleading.

Monday News: Shrink that carbon footprint

GOTRIANGLE PUTS TWO MORE ELECTRIC BUSES INTO SERVICE: The Triangle’s fledgling fleet of electric buses will get bigger this winter, and you’ll get a chance to see the newest buses on Tuesday. GoTriangle will unveil its first two electric buses in the plaza outside Raleigh Union Station, at the corner of West and Martin streets downtown. After a few words from Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, U.S. Rep. David Price and others, the public will be invited to have a look at the buses, inside and out. The buses, built by Proterra Inc., a California company with a plant in Greenville, S.C., will bring the number of public electric buses in the region to six. Raleigh-Durham International Airport put four electric buses into service last May, shuttling travelers between remote parking lots and the terminals.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


WORK TOGETHER TO MEET STATE'S CRITICAL 2020 HEALTH NEEDS: In 2019, the state watched as labor and delivery services closed in neighboring rural communities. This is tragic. No mother should have to worry about how she is going to get care or where she will deliver her baby. We see hospitals in rural parts of the country continuing to close their doors and North Carolina is not immune. This continues to be a crisis and we must do better. For eastern North Carolina, expanding Medicaid, designing a reasonable solution to resolve State Health Plan liabilities and funding a new Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University must be a priority for the state. Expanding Medicaid will improve access to care, something we desperately need not only in the East, but also throughout the state. North Carolinians are subsidizing care in 37 other states that have expanded Medicaid while too many North Carolinians struggle.


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