Daily dose

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.
https://www.wral.com/western-north-carolina-women-s-march-participants-encouraged/18137083/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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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.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-unc-s-stature-threatened-by-system-board-s-mediocrity/18127160/

Saturday News: Worse than Jim Black

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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.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article224674300.html

Friday News: Silence speaks volumes

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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.
https://www.wral.com/dowless-key-figure-in-9th-district-inquiry-still-won-t-submit-to-state-intervie...

Thursday News: Pay to play, on steroids

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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.
https://www.wral.com/watchdog-seeks-investigation-of-donations-to-gop-from-executive-who-bought-chic...

Wednesday News: Shutdown madness

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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.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article224611465.html

Tuesday News: The stink of desperation

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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."
https://www.wral.com/in-court-documents-harris-argues-state-board-should-certify-9th-district-result...

Monday News: Equality means protection, too

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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.
https://www.wral.com/ag-stein-pushing-for-same-sex-domestic-violence-protections/18118215/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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LEGISLATORS, ABANDON PARTISAN BULLYING AND FOCUS ON STATE'S URGENT NEEDS: The dark and stormy hyper-partisan atmosphere, fueled by the only veto-proof majority since the governor was granted the power 22 years ago, has dissipated as a new legislature gathers for the first time. We hope now that a gubernatorial veto carries some clout, legislators will think and act more cooperatively and less ideologically as they craft legislation. To get important things accomplished, legislators will need to consider and address the interests and needs of ALL North Carolinians – not just narrow and favored special interests or powerful partisan patrons. It is an opportunity for REAL leadership to emerge. Skill in building consensus will hold greater currency than the muscle to intimidate and steamroll. How will GOP leaders Sen. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore handle themselves?
https://www.wral.com/editorial-legislators-abandon-partisan-bullying-and-focus-on-state-s-urgent-nee...

Saturday News: Milking the taxpayers

DOLLAR LOSES ELECTION, GAINS SIX-FIGURE INCOME WORKING FOR MOORE: Former state Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, has joined House Speaker Tim Moore's staff as a senior policy adviser. The former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Dollar will make $117,495 a year, an upgrade from the roughly $14,000 a year state legislators make in addition to per diems and expense reimbursements. Dollar has been heavily involved in a number of complex issues at the statehouse, including budget negotiations and the state's ongoing Medicaid reform efforts. He is a political and media consultant by trade. Dollar lost his seat by 884 votes last November to Democrat Julie von Haefen, the former president of the Wake County PTA. Von Haefen took her seat, representing parts of Cary, Apex and southern Wake County this month, and the legislature began its new session Wednesday.
https://www.wral.com/former-rep-dollar-joins-speaker-s-staff/18117778/

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