Daily dose

Monday News: Tainted money, tainted water


GENX MANUFACTURER SWEETENS THE CAMPAIGN KITTY FOR BERGER & MOORE: The $5,200 contribution came from the Manufacturers Alliance PAC, which gave the same amount to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger in December. These represent the PAC's biggest donations in years, and Berger and Moore are the top leaders in the General Assembly. Chemours' head state government affairs executive, Jeff Fritz, who is based in Indiana, gave the PAC $500 on April 3. It appears to be his first donation to the PAC and the first time he's donated to an entity that plays in North Carolina state politics. The next day, the PAC made its contribution to Moore's campaign fund. Fritz said Friday the donation was a personal one and that he didn't ask the PAC to turn around and give to Moore.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LEGISLATORS CAN DECLARE COOPER'S BUDGET 'DOA', BUT IT RESPECTS NC'S NEEDS: North Carolina’s legislative leaders pronounced Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget D-O-A. It would have been a bit more appropriate, even polite, if the diagnosis came AFTER he’d proposed it. Before the budget is relegated to the recycling bin, state Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and their lieutenants should enlighten themselves and give the budget a look. They might even consider joining Cooper to show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the many North Carolinians and issues they’ve neglected for the last seven years while lavishing the state’s corporations with excessive tax breaks. Legislators would go a long way toward appropriately honoring North Carolina’s education, health, public safety, rural communities, growing businesses and working families, by adopting the priorities that Cooper laid out last week.

Saturday News: Profiles in courage

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ADVOCATE PEARL BERLIN LEAVES LEGACY IN HER PASSING: Pearl Berlin, who challenged North Carolina's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages, has died. She was 93. Berlin died Thursday, said Matt Hirschey, head of special projects for Equality NC. Berlin married Ellen Gerber in a synagogue in Greensboro in 2013 and followed with civil ceremony in Maine that year, but their marriage remained legally invalid in North Carolina. With Berlin suffering health problems in 2014, the couple rushed to join the vanguard of efforts to strike down the state ban, so that Gerber could have spousal rights over decisions about her care. The American Civil Liberties Union urged a federal judge to quickly negate the ban, which was deemed unconstitutional that same year. Berlin's memorial service will be held at UNC Greensboro on June 14.

Friday News: The wrong choice

HEADMISTRESS AT RALEIGH PRIVATE SCHOOL IGNORED YEARS OF SEXUAL ABUSE: Nicholas Smith, a former math teacher at a private school in Raleigh, is accused of grooming a ninth-grade student into a sexual relationship — first texting her, then kissing her and finally having sex with her at school, her parents' homes and during a field trip. When school leaders heard complaints about Smith's behavior and told him to avoid inappropriate interactions with female students, he is accused of turning his attention to the girl's younger sister. A complaint filed in Wake County Superior Court in January paints a haunting picture of sexual abuse allegations at The Montessori School of Raleigh, which serves students from pre-school through 12th grade. It also accuses the school and its headmistress of turning a blind eye to the accusations of abuse, which spanned from August 2012 to June 2016.

Thursday News: First in Evictions?


AFTER JUDGE'S RULING, LANDLORDS LOBBY NC LEGISLATURE FOR MORE POWER TO PUNISH RENTERS: North Carolina communities and much of the southeastern United States are home to some of the nation's highest eviction rates, a recent study by a Princeton professor found. State court records show North Carolina had nearly 164,000 eviction proceedings in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. In late March, a state Superior Court judge in Wake County sided with one of those tenants — a decision that shocked landlords across North Carolina. Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley said $191 in court-related fees charged to a tenant in a Raleigh apartment complex weren't allowed under state rental statutes. That decision now has lobbyists for apartment owners asking state lawmakers to "clarify" the state rental laws so landlords can legally charge the fees. The legislative session begins Wednesday. "We have already had meetings with various legislators and allies so that we can act quickly once session begins to try to resolve this issue," Colleen Kochanek, legislative counsel for the Apartment Association of North Carolina, wrote to members.

Wednesday News: He's Not Here

NC SUPERINTENDENT LITERALLY DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM TEACHER RALLY: As thousands of teachers gather in Raleigh on Wednesday to push state lawmakers for more education funding, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson will be more than 100 miles away, meeting with school officials near the coast. Johnson said last week he "absolutely" supports teachers but won't attend the rally because it's on a school day and will affect students, parents and other school workers who are forced to deal with schools closing that day. At the time, nearly a dozen school districts had announced they were closing due to the teacher rally, and Johnson said he hoped no others would follow. Since then, the number of school systems closing has ballooned to 42. As many as 15,000 teachers from across North Carolina are expected to march, rally and meet with lawmakers Wednesday to ask for more education funding, including higher teacher salaries.

Tuesday News: Moral Mondays are back


POOR PEOPLE'S CAMPAIGN BLOCKS TRAFFIC ON JONES STREET TO HIGHLIGHT POVERTY AND INJUSTICE: Protesters blocked traffic in front of the North Carolina Legislative Building on Monday as part of a national campaign to draw attention to poverty in statehouses across the country. Raleigh police cited 49 people with impeding the flow of traffic on Jones Street, which passes by the front door of the halls of power in North Carolina's capital where the Republican-led General Assembly has spent much of the past decade charting a new political course for this state. At the afternoon protest, they hoisted signs that said "Systemic Racism Is Immoral," "Invest in People Not Prisons," "Fight Poverty, Not the Poor," "Got Money For War, But Can't Feed the Poor." It was one of many days of protest and direct action scheduled during the next 40 days, culminating in a rally in Washington, D.C.

Monday News: Lies, damned lies, and statistics

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MAJORITY OF NC'S TEACHERS EARN LESS THAN REPORTED "AVERAGE" SALARY: More than half of Wake County's teachers make the state's average teacher salary, $51,214, or more, according to November 2017 salary data the district provided to WRAL News. Less than half of Durham Public Schools' teachers make the state's average teacher salary, $51,214, or more, according to data the district provided. About a third of Cumberland County teachers make the state's average teacher salary, $51,214, or more, according to data the district provided. Clay County, in the far western part of the state, is one of four North Carolina school districts where teachers get no supplemental pay. A majority of their teachers do not make the state's average teacher salary, $51,214, or more, according to data the district provided. Like Clay County, the majority of Graham County's teachers make less than the state's average teacher salary, $51,214, according to data the district provided.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


ON WEDNESDAY, LEGISLATORS SHOULD GREET TEACHERS AS PARTNERS, NOT THE ENEMY: Thousands -- even tens-of-thousands -- of teachers, school administrators, parents of students and supporters will be in Raleigh to press for greater respect for and funding of our public school system. Legislators rarely have to face, eye-to-eye, those who are affected by the laws they pass. It is not comfortable. But it comes with the territory when legislators ask voters for the privilege to represent them. The 170 members of the General Assembly need to understand one VERY important thing. These visitors are NOT THE ENEMY. These fellow North Carolinians are coming to the state capital because they believe it is their job – and the legislature’s duty to fully support – our State Constitution’s guarantee of a “sound basic education” where “equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.”

Saturday News: New "Hall of Shame" inductee

REPUBLICAN MARK BRODY RANTS ABOUT "TEACHER UNION THUGS" ON FACEBOOK: State Rep. Mark Brody, a Republican from Union County near Charlotte, posted a letter on his Facebook page Friday criticizing teachers who plan to march on May 16 instead of teach. "Let's call this what it is, Teacher Union thugs want to control the education process!" he posted. "I am speaking up because I don't want Union County schools, and for that matter all NC school systems, to turn into Chicago. Let the Union thugs get their way now and we are half way there." Mark Jewell, NCAE president, said Brody's post is offensive to teachers who have been given permission to take the day off by their districts to raise awareness about their work conditions. "It's another example of the disrespect educators are getting from some legislators in the General Assembly," Jewell said, adding "It's the state's responsibility to fund public schools. We're $2,600 below the national average in per pupil funding."


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