Daily dose

Tuesday News: The War of Southern regression


ORANGE COUNTY HOLDS PUBLIC DISCUSSION ABOUT CONFEDERATE FLAG ISSUE: The Human Relations Commission-hosted Community Conversation was held just two days after a long-anticipated, 20X20-foot Confederate battle flag was hoisted onto a 60-foot flagpole. However, it had been in the works for over a month after residents raised concerns about the planned flag and asked the county to come up with some rules. The conversation was sparked earlier this year when property owner Robert "Doug" Hall Jr. secured a permit for a 60-foot flagpole on his land near the Division of Motor Vehicles office on U.S. 70. Hall also reached out to the group Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County (ACTBAC) about helping him install a mega-size flag.

Monday News: Resistance has a leader


JOSH STEIN STANDS UP AGAINST THE WORST OF TRUMP'S AGENDA: During his first 16 months in office, Stein has been on the front lines with a troop of Democratic attorneys general firing off a slew of lawsuits, targeted complaints and other actions against the Trump administration. “To me, it’s not about fighting the Trump administration, it’s about standing up for the people of North Carolina,” Stein said recently. Stein has joined the group to oppose offshore drilling, education policies, a travel ban and the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. At the beginning of the month Stein fought the administration’s plans to try to block a question about citizenship from the 2020 Census questionnaire. Not even a whole week later, he joined other states with Democratic attorneys general in a pushback against a Texas lawsuit attempting to further dismantle the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama's signature health legislation.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


DUKE ENERGY, NOT RATEPAYERS, SHOULD PAY FOR COAL ASH MISMANAGEMENT: Is it fair that North Carolina consumers, who already paid for electric power produced at Duke Energy’s coal-burning power plants as long as 70 years ago, get another bill to pay for the company’s management failures that led to spills and contamination from coal ash storage facilities? Imagine the outrage if years after consumers filled up their cars with gasoline they got a bill demanding more money for that same gasoline because there was an accident at a refinery. That’s just what Duke Energy’s managed to achieve, with the help of North Carolina’s utilities Commission. A couple of months ago the Commission approved a rate increase on consumers in the eastern half of the state. While it was less than Duke initially asked for, it included about $230 million to pay for coal ash removal while at the same time imposing a $30 million penalty for failure in coal ash management.

Saturday News: Shameless


WALKER CAMPAIGN BRAGS ABOUT RECORD-BREAKING $650,000 PENCE LUNCHEON: U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and other North Carolina Republicans believe his April 20 luncheon with Vice President Mike Pence in Greensboro was the most lucrative fundraising event for a U.S. House race in state history. "By being the first to bring Vice President Pence to our state and raising more than $650,000 in a single lunch event – one of the largest congressional fundraisers in North Carolina history – he has established himself as a critical leader in helping conservatives retain majorities both statewide and nationally," said Jack Minor Jr., a Walker spokesman. The $650,000 total roughly equaled the total his campaign had raised so far, according to campaign filings through March.

Friday News: Environmental Justice


JURY PUNISHES SMITHFIELD IN HOG NUISANCE LAWSUIT TO THE TUNE OF $50 MILLION: A federal jury in North Carolina is awarding more than $50 million in damages to neighbors of an industrial hog operation responsible for smells, noise and other disturbances so bad they couldn’t enjoy their rural homes. Jurors on Thursday awarded 10 neighbors of a 15,000-head swine operation a total of $750,000 in compensation plus $50 million in damages designed to punish the hog-production division of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods. Lawyers didn’t sue the farm’s owner, instead targeting the Chinese-owned corporation. Smithfield uses strict contracts to dictate how farm operators raise livestock the company owns. The decision is the first in dozens of nuisance lawsuits filed by more than 500 neighbors against hog operations. Smithfield says the lawsuits are a serious threat to a major agricultural industry and employer in North Carolina.

Thursday News: Skip your own meal


NC AG JOSH STEIN APPEALS TO SUPREME COURT OVER DUKE RATE INCREASE: The state Utilities Commission had approved an increase of about $5.22 a month for residential customers in the eastern half of North Carolina, including much of Wake County. Some of that money would go toward coal ash pond cleanups at Duke plants, which is one of the reasons Stein’s office asked the Supreme Court to take another look at the decision. The Sierra Club has also filed an appeal in the case. The attorney general argues that Duke’s violation of environmental regulations and criminal laws in dealing with coal ash and evidence that the company knew the risks of storing ash in unlined ponds well before the 2014 Dan River spill should have kept the commission from approving the increase.

Wednesday News: "Pour" judgment


FOUR CANDIDATES FOR LEGISLATURE HAVE DWI CONVICTIONS: Four Triangle candidates for the state legislature have been convicted of driving while impaired since 2000. Three say they had a lapse in judgment. One, Ray Ubinger, a Durham Libertarian, said his arrest was unjust. Ubinger has also faced charges of carrying a concealed gun and resisting a police officer. Two of the four candidates are Libertarian, a party that has not had a candidate elected to the legislature. They are running in districts with a history of electing Democrats. The two Republicans are running in heavily Democratic districts where incumbents are seeking re-election. Ubinger, who is running in Senate District 22, pleaded not guilty in 2001 to the weapon and resisting charges. He argued at a jury trial that the judge and other court officials were not legitimately elected, because the state does not count all write-in votes, and that the roadblock where he was stopped was unconstitutional. He was found guilty of both charges. If elected, Ubinger said, he would work to end random checkpoints.

Tuesday News: Evidence or trickery?

WOODHOUSE DEPOSITION REVEALS POSSIBILITY OF A "MOLE" WITHIN DEMOCRATIC JUDICIAL CAMPAIGN: Woodhouse provided members of the media with a packet of documents that he said he also turned over to Democrats in answer to their subpoena. It was made up largely of talking points against Anita Earls, a Democrat running for the state Supreme Court. There was also a two-page opposition research to-do list containing Democratic General Assembly candidates and unverified claims against them. "Is he passing the plate around his church for campaign contributions?" one entry asks. "Is he having an extramarital affair?" Another entry reads in part: "Waiting on mole to produce evidence of illegal coordination." The subpoena, which Woodhouse provided to the media Thursday, asked only for documents related to the elimination of judicial primaries.

Monday News: There is no Plan(et) B


ON EARTH DAY, DURHAM MAYOR STEVE SCHEWEL CONCERNED ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING: In the summer of 1969, oily debris in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga burst into flames, searing the scourge of pollution into the public consciousness. “I remember Duke students beginning to talk about the environment in a new way,” Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said. Schewel thinks back to that first Earth Day, when his classmates rallied on the Duke University quad 10 months after the Cuyahoga combusted. “Well, I think we need it a lot more than we did when it began in 1970,” he said. Schewel says a warming world lends urgency to the Earth Day cause. “You and I are going to be fine, but our children and grandchildren, they won’t be unless we can change the way in which we interact with our environment,’ he said.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


DRUG MAKERS HAVE OBLIGATION TO ADDRESS OPIOID EPIDEMIC: In 2016, for the first time, the number of opioid-related deaths in North Carolina (1,518) exceeded the number of people who died in motor vehicle crashes on the state’s roads (1,439). It is a sorry trend that doesn’t yet appear to be changing. That is not acceptable. The companies that make opioids need to be a part of the solution and pay to fix the mess they helped create. This is hardly new or cutting edge. The massive settlement with tobacco companies several years ago has helped pay for smoking cessation programs as well as establish a foundation that’s provided millions of dollars to help tobacco-dependent communities shift and revive their economies. Similar settlements have provided money for energy efficiency and land conservation initiatives. Drug manufacturers should, on their own, recognize their accountability and accept responsibility to fix the deadly mess they in a very large way created. They should work with communities and states like North Carolina to come up with settlements that provide the funding, programs and treatments to stop this deadly epidemic.


Subscribe to RSS - Daily dose