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Wednesday News: Inherently biased


LAWSUIT FILED OVER DEATH PENALTY CASES THAT EXCLUDED BLACK JURORS: In a friend-of-the-court brief, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund cited statistical evidence of racial discrimination by Cumberland County prosecutors, who dismissed more than half of all eligible black jurors compared to a quarter of all others. This bias "unquestionably tainted" the sentencing process, lawyers argued. "The continuing stain of racial discrimination not only invalidates the death sentences imposed on these defendants, but it also undermines public confidence in North Carolina’s judicial system as a whole," Jin Hee Lee, LDF senior deputy director of litigation, said in a press release. "The Court must be unequivocal in rejecting racial bias in North Carolina juries, especially in death penalty cases, by giving the defendants a chance to challenge the discrimination they faced."

Tuesday News: Blood money


TILLIS CAMPAIGN ACCUSED OF ILLEGAL COORDINATION WITH NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: A national report tying millions of dollars in National Rifle Association political spending to a major campaign vendor for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis has opened more questions of illegal coordination in the rough-and-tumble 2014 Senate race. The Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., filed a Federal Election Commission complaint in the matter Monday. This is the second time this year the group has reached back to Tillis' 2014 election and suggested illegal coordination by outside groups. Monday when the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a criminal complaint against a Russian national accused of infiltrating the gun-rights group, the NRA's political spending is under new scrutiny.Tillis and fellow North Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr have been two of the two top three members of Congress to benefit from NRA political spending in recent years. North Carolina's status as a swing state brings massive amounts of money and advertising from a number of outside groups.

Monday News: The GOP Clown Car cometh


PUBLIC MEETING TODAY ON CHARLOTTE'S LIKELY HOSTING OF RNC 2020 CONVENTION: Charlotte, North Carolina, a Democrat-dominated city whose transgender-friendly bathroom ordinance triggered a statewide political war, is a front-runner to host the 2020 Republican Convention where President Donald Trump seeks an anointing to run for a second term. Charlotte's mayor says that would be just fine. But some local Democratic officials say: Not so fast. The City Council has scheduled a special meeting Monday to decide whether to accept a yet-to-be-extended offer from the GOP. Published reports suggest Charlotte is favored to land the convention. Fellow council member Braxton Winston said in a video that Charlotte should slow down and discuss whether it should pursue the convention. "We would be asking the people of Charlotte to host a celebration for a brand of politics that has been highly divisive and some would say dangerous to our community," Winston wrote.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LEGISLATORS' PLOTTING TO SOW DYSFUNCTION IN GOVERNMENT MUST END: Purposefully creating dysfunctional local boards of elections by making them four member boards (two Republicans and two Democrats). In Wake County, Republicans seeking to depress the vote of young people, oppose a voting site on the N.C. State University campus – where there are always very high turnouts. The local board split 2-2. Now the battle goes to the state board – and perhaps even to the courts. Similar dysfunction has infected election boards in Orange, Guilford and Forsyth counties.Shouldn’t legislators be working toward building systems that can develop consensus, resolve differences and make decisions? Shouldn’t board of elections be working on ways to make it as easy as possible to get the most citizens to vote? Apparently not in North Carolina.

Saturday News: Systematic destruction


ENROLLMENT IN TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAS DROPPED TO 80% DUE TO PRIVATIZATION CRUSADE: Enrollment in the state’s traditional public schools has fallen each year since the 2014-15 school year, dropping by 14,293 students in that time period. At the same time, charter schools added 31,199 students. Newly released state figures show that during that same three-year period, enrollment in homeschools went up by 28,896 students and private schools gained 4,516 students. Private school enrollment had been on the decline before the voucher program was created. The enrollment disparity was particularly sharp during the 2017-18 school year, when traditional public schools lost 6,011 students from the prior year even as charter schools, homeschools and private schools combined added 18,093 students.

Friday News: Patriarchy fail

NC GOP LITERALLY GOES INTO BEDROOM OF JENNIFER MANGRUM TO BLOCK HER CANDIDACY: Democratic member Stella Anderson said the lower panel was preoccupied with Mangrum's personal life, raising questions a male candidate wouldn't face. "The concern [was] with whether or not she was legally separated, whether she was going to reconcile, going back to Greensboro to spend time with her daughter, her motives," Anderson said. Mangrum said she was sorry the vote wasn't unanimous. "The challenger walked through my home, pretending to be someone else," she said of Cushman. "People are tired of this – I call it creepy, this creepy political game. After the first appeal, he said to me, 'Nothing personal.' It is personal." Lawyers for Cushman didn't say whether they plan to appeal the state board's ruling in court.

Thursday News: Shifting the burden


COUNTY EDUCATION BUDGETS SUFFERING FROM GOP STATE-LEVEL TAX CUTS: The school board has to cut its budget after the Wake County Board of Commissioners provided only $45 million of the extra $59 million district officials requested to fund schools in 2018-19. The cuts mean fewer support teachers, fewer school counselors, a negligible local raise for teachers and even higher costs for student parking. But board member Bill Fletcher said Wednesday that the cuts don't have to be that deep. For years, he said, lawmakers have been shifting costs the state should be covering to the counties. "If the Republicans are going to say, 'We're going to reduce taxes at the state because that's a good thing to do,' but we're going to require the counties to increase taxes to pay for it, that's not right," said Fletcher, who's a registered Republican.

Wednesday News: Deadlocked


REPUBLICAN MEDDLING WITH BOARDS OF ELECTION RESULTS IN SPLIT VOTES: The State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement will have to set early voting plans for Wake and Orange counties after local elections boards deadlocked over details Tuesday. In Wake County, the two Democrats on the board wanted a voting site on the North Carolina State University campus. The two Republican members didn't. Weekend voting hours were the sticking point in Orange County. Wake County's board spent three hours on the issue Tuesday between public comment, board debate and recesses. In the end, Democrats insisted on the N.C. State site at the Talley Student Union, and Republicans were opposed, citing poor parking and the fact that the plan had two other sites inside the Interstate 440 Beltline.

Tuesday News: The next logical step

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NC TEACHERS FORMING CONGRESS WHICH MAY LEAD TO WALKOUTS: Red4EdNC is asking educators to sign its "Declaration in Defense of North Carolina's Public Schoolchildren," which lists grievances with state legislators such as inadequate school funding. The teachers advocacy group says the declaration will lead to the formation of a "Teachers Congress" that will develop "collective actions" that will be used by teachers if legislators don't agree to their demands. Angie Scioli, founder of Red4EdNC, said the Teachers Congress will look at what's happened in other states, such as Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia, where teachers used strikes and walkouts to press for changes. She said all options would be on the table. "We’re the teachers on the front lines and in the classrooms. You can fool a lot of people on the degree to which public education is being supported to people who aren’t in classrooms every day, but we are teachers and we know."

Monday News: The other campaign fund


NC REPUBLICANS SLING PORK TO FEED AT-RISK LEGISLATORS: In the state budget this year, legislators handed out millions of dollars in grants to towns, individual schools, county fairs, local libraries, little museums, nonprofit groups, and for-profit companies. These grants are called “member money” in the halls of the legislature. They're also known as pork. Sen. Dan Blue of Raleigh, the Senate's Democratic leader, said budget pork is meant to help Republican legislators vulnerable in the 2018 election. Pork projects "go excessively in areas where their incumbents are at risk," he said. The marquee example of helping endangered Republicans was the $200,000 aimed at 35 schools in Sen. Jeff Tarte's Mecklenburg County district. The money was to be funneled through the charity DonorsChoose, but the earmark was erased after the group said accepting the money would violate its principles.


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