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Tuesday News: Tarheel of the Year

AFFORDABLE HOUSING BUILDER GREGG WARREN GETS NOD FROM N&O: Warren’s long commitment to affordable housing is why The News & Observer chose him as its Tar Heel of the Year. The honor comes as the need for housing affordability has emerged as a top issue in the Triangle, and concerns arise about gentrification displacing existing residents. Voters in Durham just approved a $95 million bond for affordable housing, and Raleigh’s new City Council is expected to put a bond before voters as well. “I think there’s an understanding that growth in our region is dependent on many who don’t earn a lot of great wages,” Warren says. “And I think that if we can’t deal with the wage issue, perhaps at least we can make some impact with the housing cost issue, which is the largest single cost that people typically incur.” People who have worked with Warren over the years describe him as an astute businessman with a passion for helping people of modest means.

Monday News: Courage personified


TWO OPENLY TRANSGENDER CANDIDATES ARE RUNNING FOR NC SENATE: Ames Simmons, policy director for Equality NC, said that Bridgman, a transgender woman, and Ellis, a transgender man, are the first openly transgender candidates for the state legislature, as far as his organization is aware. Equality NC is a statewide organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights. “There was the beginning of a blue (Democratic) wave in 2018 that was encouraging to trans people. I’m a trans person myself, but don’t speak on behalf of the community. I was personally inspired by the runs and elections of trans people who ran elsewhere, like Danica Roem in Virginia,” Simmons said. He said that it’s a personal decision if someone is going to be open about their LGBTQ status and if they are transgender. Some might consider it a closed chapter in their life, and some might not feel safe from violence and discrimination, he said.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LEADERSHIP FAILURES PAVED WAY FOR MISGUIDED SILENT SAM DEAL: How could anyone – much less the president of one of the nation’s foremost pillars of public higher education and academic freedom and the chairman of its board of governors – think it is a good idea to pay the Sons of Confederate Veterans a dime to do anything? Did anyone in the discussions of the Silent Sam settlement ask: What does this settlement say about the moral fiber of this University? What message does this send to our students and alumni? Was the atmosphere so insular, the perspectives of the now-famous gang of five negotiators (UNC Board members Jim Holmes, Darrell Allison, Wendy Murphy, Anna Nelson and Bob Rucho) so inbred that they couldn’t see past merely making a problem go away? As is now quite evident, it is just as important to address HOW to make a problem go away.

Saturday News: No standing?


JUDGE RULES STUDENTS & FACULTY HAVE NO SAY OVER SILENT SHAM: Judge Allen Baddour said UNC-Chapel Hill students and faculty did not prove their legal standing to intervene in the agreement. Their goal, along with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law that was representing them, was to reopen the case, stop the deal and recover the $2.5 million payment from UNC-CH for the preservation and display of the Confederate statue. The SCV also got an additional $74,999 from UNC not to display flags and banners on university campuses. That settlement was approved by the court in November, but now, the judge is taking a second look and wants to have another hearing to address whether the SCV had the authority to be involved at all. Baddour said once that issue is addressed, then there could be additional questions regarding the nature, terms and perhaps the ability of the court to have oversight or review of a trust, which holds the money for the monument.

Friday News: Callous indifference


MOORE AND STAFF IGNORED REQUESTS FOR SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING: North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and a top staffer ignored repeated requests for additional funding for a scholarship that supports children of wartime veterans, new emails provided to WBTV show. For months, WBTV has been investigating problems with the state’s scholarship for children of wartime veterans, which is administered by the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Last month, as students were finalizing classes and preparing for exams heading into Thanksgiving, DMVA notified universities that it would only pay roughly half of the room and board allowance promised to students; cutting the amount from $3,000 to roughly $1,700. Late last week, after WBTV’s last story on the topic had run, a DMVA spokeswoman provided a string of new emails showing agency leaders had pressed Moore and a top aide, Cory Bryson, for the additional funding throughout the 2019 legislative session.

Thursday News: Good riddance


AFTER IMPEACHMENT VOTE, MARK MEADOWS THROWS IN THE TOWEL: Republican congressman Mark Meadows, a top ally to President Donald Trump, said Thursday that he won't seek reelection. His announcement comes just a day after the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress. In a statement, the North Carolina congressman said he struggled with the decision and came to it after discussion with his family. “My work with President Trump and his administration is only beginning. This President has accomplished incredible results for the country in just three years, and I’m fully committed to staying in the fight with him and his team to build on those successes and deliver on his promises for the years to come," Meadows said in the statement. “I’ve always said Congress is a temporary job, but the fight to return Washington, DC to its rightful owner, We The People, has only just begun."

Wednesday News: Deadly negligence


CHERIE BERRY'S LONG HISTORY OF IGNORING WORKPLACE HAZARDS: The North Carolina Justice Center, in a report to be released in coming days, has now traced how rarely Berry’s OSH has hit its business partners, even after fatalities, with its stiffest penalty – for those that willfully, or knowingly, put workers in harm’s way. OSH inspections after the deaths led to 13 citations for willful violations against nine employers, each carrying a maximum penalty of $70,000, said the report made available to McClatchy. But nine of the citations against five companies were later dropped. In other words, only four employers faced the harshest penalty out of more than 240 firms with fatalities, the group said. In separate studies, the AFL-CIO found that the average fatality-related fines assessed to North Carolina employers in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 were 25.3% and 38.4% of the national average. McClatchy gathered details about some of these incidents as part of a six-month investigation into the ways the state enforces laws designed to safeguard about 4 million workers. Even in some of the state’s deadliest workplace disasters — incidents that could have been averted with modest corrective actions — employers have been spared severe financial penalties, interviews and documents show.

Tuesday News: Bully in a uniform

VANCE COUNTY SHERIFF FIRES DEPUTY WHO BODY-SLAMMED 11 YEAR-OLD: A North Carolina sheriff said Monday that he has fired a school resource officer seen on surveillance video violently slamming a middle school student to the ground twice and then dragging the boy off camera. Vance County Sheriff Curtis Brame issued a statement Monday that the deputy is no longer employed by his office. The deputy hasn't been named. It wasn't clear if the deputy would face charges. The district attorney didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment. “Law enforcement officers are frequently brought in to schools to handle routine school discipline and this far too often is the result—an outrageously excessive use of force on young children. This must end. Our children deserve better," said Karen Baynes-Dunning, interim CEO and president of SPLC.

Monday News: Here comes Mike...


BLOOMBERG OPENS CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS IN CHARLOTTE: “It’s one of those states that nobody else goes to,” he said of North Carolina. Other candidates, he added, “are all focused on the early four (states) . . . You’re going to have to win the whole country to get the opportunity to take on Donald Trump.” A CBS News poll Sunday showed Bloomberg in fifth place among Democratic candidates behind former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The former New York mayor drew nearly 200 people to the opening on North Tryon Street. The crowd included U.S. Rep. Alma Adams as well as as state lawmakers, members of Charlotte’s city council and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, a national co-chair of the presidential campaign. Bloomberg was welcomed by council member James Mitchell, his North Carolina campaign director, and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


A UNIVERSITY'S BETRAYAL OF HISTORICAL TRUTH: On the eve of Thanksgiving, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the North Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) over a Confederate monument that had stood for more than a century on the university’s flagship campus, in Chapel Hill, before demonstrators toppled it in August 2018. The settlement, though, establishes a de facto financial partnership between the university system and the SCV to preserve the monument. The SCV is free to use Silent Sam and this generous subsidy to continue its long-standing misinformation campaign about the history and legacy of the Civil War, with an endowment that rivals that of the university’s history department. But the cost to the university can’t be fully tallied in dollars and cents. A great public university should stand for the pursuit of truth, not the promotion of historical distortions and falsehoods.


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