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Wednesday News: Denied


JUDGE REJECTS WRIT OF MANDAMUS FOR HARRIS: A judge on Tuesday denied Republican Mark Harris' effort to be declared the winner of the 9th Congressional District election, saying the incoming State Board of Elections doesn't have to certify the results of the election until an investigation into alleged absentee ballot fraud is completed. Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway denied Harris' motion for a writ of mandamus, which would amount to a court order forcing the elections board to certify the results. Harris has acknowledged hiring Bladen County political operative McCrae Dowless to oversee absentee ballot operations in the county. Several people have told reporters that Dowless paid them to pick up mail-in ballots, a felony under North Carolina law due to tampering concerns. Dowless has, through his attorney, denied any wrongdoing, but he hasn't yet sat down with elections board investigators looking at the 9th District.

Tuesday News: Symbols of oppression


CITY COUNCIL WILL HEAR PUBLIC COMMENTS ON WINSTON-SALEM CONFEDERATE STATUE TONIGHT: The city council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 22), and statue opponents are saying on Facebook that they plan to protest the presence of the statue during the public-comment period of the meeting. Some supporters of the statue said earlier this month that they also wanted to speak at the next meeting of the council. The statue, paid for by donations to the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated in 1905, has become a flash point between people who see it as a symbol of racism and people who see it as memorializing Southern soldiers who died in the Civil War. City officials, expressing concern over the potential for violence, has given the UDC until the end of January to move the statue. The owners of the courthouse building has weighed in with the same arguments, saying the statue must go.

Monday News: Braving the cold

WOMEN'S MARCH RETURNS TO A CHILLY ASHEVILLE: Participants in an annual Women's March in western North Carolina say they feel empowered and encouraged by midterm election victories that raised the profile of women in politics. The Citizen-Times reported thousands of people marched in downtown Asheville on Sunday for the city's third edition of the march. Other versions of the march were held Saturday cities like Washington and New York. The newspaper says the Asheville crowd was smaller than in previous years and dwindled to hundreds as marchers reached Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Rally speakers recounted elections won by women last November. Longtime activist Mandy Carter of Durham urged young people to pledge to mobilize as the 2020 presidential election cycle began. Women's marches began in 2017 in response to President Donald Trump.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


UNC'S STATURE THREATENED BY SYSTEM BOARD'S MEDIOCRITY: Folt’s courtesy, professionalism and willingness to meet the desires of legislative leaders (including several key aides to legislative leaders landed well-paying jobs at the campus) has not been returned in kind – as displayed Tuesday when the UNC Board impetuously fired Folt four months before the date of her intended resignation. The board’s action, preceded hours earlier by an angry statement from Board Chairman Harry Smith, displayed just why exceptional and capable leaders like Margaret Spellings and Folt don’t want to work for them. Tuesday was Spelling's last day as president of the UNC system. Folt will leave on Jan. 31. Folt has accomplished a great deal in her tenure as chancellor. We thought at times that she did not move as quickly as she should have. But her deliberate style helped the university smooth out several trouble spots. Smith couldn’t bring himself to offer any appreciative words for Folt’s service to the students, faculty, administration, as well as his board.

Saturday News: Worse than Jim Black


ANONYMOUS LETTER LED TO FBI INVESTIGATION OF TIM MOORE: A former state House member (John Blust) said Tuesday that two FBI agents visited him in early October and talked with him about an anonymous letter that claimed House Speaker Tim Moore engineered legislation favorable to one of Moore’s legal clients. One of those clients was the North Carolina Bail Agents Association, which paid him $10,000 to help the group before the state insurance department in early 2012. The association earns money training bail agents, and contended a competitor did not have the authority to also offer the training. Later that year, state lawmakers passed legislation giving the association exclusive authority. Moore said he no longer represented the association by then, and legislative records show he excused himself from the vote. The letter writer claimed Moore helped engineer passage of the legislation behind the scenes. State judges later threw the law out, finding it set up an unconstitutional monopoly.

Friday News: Silence speaks volumes


MCCRAE DOWLESS REFUSES TO BE INTERVIEWED BY ELECTIONS OFFICIALS: Dowless declined interviews back in December, and State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon confirmed Thursday that hasn't changed. Gannon said he couldn't confirm whether Dowless has been subpoenaed for records. The state board dubbed Dowless a "person of interest" in its investigation weeks ago. Several people have told reporters that Dowless paid them to pick up absentee ballots, a felony under North Carolina law due to tampering concerns. It's unclear whether Dowless has been interviewed by criminal investigators. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman's office is overseeing that case, and she declined to say Thursday evening. She said earlier this week that she hopes the inquiry will wrap in 30 to 60 days.

Thursday News: Pay to play, on steroids


MORE DIRTY DETAILS EMERGE ABOUT TIM MOORE'S CHICKEN PLANT DEAL: "There's a smoking-gun email that shows that Tim Moore's staff person got the Department of Environmental Quality to fast-track a reclassification of this property," Hall said. "[Cameron] gets tax breaks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars when you reclassify the land [and] put it in the brownfields program." Following the sale, just before the 2016 election, large campaign checks from Cameron started rolling in: $100,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party. $25,000 to Moore's House Republican caucus. $500,000 to a political-action committee supporting then-Gov. Pat McCrory. Shortly before McCrory left office, a state agency awarded Mountaire a $1.5 million grant for a wastewater system for the Siler City plant.

Wednesday News: Shutdown madness


VANCE COUNTY SCHOOLS CUT BACK ON SCHOOL LUNCHES WITHOUT FEDERAL ASSISTANCE: The federal government’s budget stalemate over border security is causing lunches to shrink at one eastern North Carolina school district. Vance County Schools officials announced on Facebook late Tuesday that lunch menus “have been revised to a minimum level to conserve food and funding” starting Jan. 21. The county is about 50 miles northeast of Durham, along the Virginia state line. Fresh produce, bottled juices and water, and even ice cream are among the items being nixed. “The Vance County Schools Nutrition Program for students is self-supporting with federal funds providing meals,” says the post. “We hope that normal lunch menus can be resumed as soon as possible once the shutdown has ended.”

Tuesday News: The stink of desperation


HARRIS IS ALL-OF-A-SUDDEN CONCERNED ABOUT VOTERS' RIGHTS: The campaign of Republican Mark Harris is moving forward with an effort to force the State Board of Elections to certify the result of the 2018 9th Congressional District race by court action, despite ongoing investigations into absentee ballot irregularities in several southeastern North Carolina counties. Harris filed a legal brief Monday in support of his request for a writ of mandamus, a court order that forces a public agency to exercise one of its responsibilities. He's asking a Wake County Superior Court judge to command state elections officials to immediately certify the election results and release any investigative materials into election irregularities. "By leaving the Ninth District race undecided, the Bipartisan Board has struck a blow to representative democracy," the brief filed on Harris' behalf reads. "It effectively has disfranchised the more than 778,000 people living in the Ninth District by bureaucratic fiat, denying them representation in the 116th Congress."

Monday News: Equality means protection, too


AG STEIN FILES BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF SAME-SEX RESTRAINING ORDERS: North Carolina is the only state in the U.S. that doesn't issue domestic violence restraining orders for victims in same-sex dating relationships. A lawsuit now before the state Court of Appeals could change that, and Attorney General Josh Stein filed a brief on behalf of the state this week, calling on the court to declare this portion of North Carolina's law unconstitutional. In North Carolina, a domestic violence protective order is known as "50B order," and for people who are not married or related, an order can be obtained only against a person "of the opposite sex." A lower court cited that section of the law in denying a protective order to a person who faced threats of physical violence following a breakup this year. The plaintiff in the case is a Wake County woman who was threatened by a woman she was dating. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing her in the case. The group and Stein are asking for that section of the law to be struck down.


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