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Tuesday News: Corporatocracy

TRUMP USES GROUPS OF BUSINESSMEN TO DEVELOP ADMINISTRATION POLICIES: President Donald Trump, lacking trust in the speed, skill or loyalty of the government workers he inherited, is shifting the task of writing U.S. policy to a network of advisory groups stacked with business executives that operates outside of public view. It’s a move that could be cheered by the voters who sent Trump to Washington to clean house. But it’s also one that might be breaking the law. In a growing number of cases, the administration has been accused of violating a federal requirement that these advisory groups – working on everything from jobs training to environmental policy – open their meetings, release their documents and announce their members’ names.

Monday News: Mapmakers take heat

PUBLIC SPEAKERS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT REDISTRICTING REFORM: “There is a rumor that red maps have been drawn already,” said Janis Ramquist, a Raleigh resident who told lawmakers she had known some of them for four decades and was saddened “that so many people distrust you and believe the worst in you.” James Wood, a 19-year-old Raleigh resident, shook his finger at the legislators as he criticized their protracted effort in the courts, and the millions of dollars spent on legal fees, fighting maps that did not pass constitutional muster. As his voice rose, Wood told the lawmakers that he thought with a piece of paper and a pencil that he could “draw districts pretty fairly.” “We are done with your pettiness and in the not so distant future when we are up there running the show, things are going to be different,” Wood said.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


VOTERS MUST HOLD LEGISLATORS ACCOUNTABLE ON REDISTRICTING: Legislative leaders have given little assurance that they intend to create fair and balanced or even lawful legislative districts. The committees’ leaders will cry crocodile tears, complaining that overbearing judges have imposed a tight deadline that will allow only limited public participation. House and Senate Redistricting Chairmen Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett and Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, already are blaming the judges, who frankly have been far too tolerant of legislative procrastination and secrecy. “While we had originally planned to set aside additional time to receive comments from North Carolinians and hold a statewide public hearing on criteria across the state, we have said all along that we will comply with the federal court’s order. Moving forward with this process over the next week will help us comply with the court’s deadline,” Lewis and Hise said in an announcement late Wednesday afternoon. Please! The court order is no excuse to limit or diminish public participation. This is 2017, not 1817. It is an automobile parking lot under the Legislative Building, not stables. Those are computers and smartphones on the desks, not parchment, inkwells and quills.

Saturday News: Theatre of the absurd

GUN NUTS FROM GRNC PUT ON A COSTUME PARTY AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY: A group of gun rights activists – some of them dressed in rhinoceros costumes – held a rally outside the legislature Thursday calling on N.C. Senate Republicans to pass legislation loosening gun permit requirements. They vowed to fight Republicans who don't support the bill in the 2018 election. Grass Roots North Carolina held the event to introduce a new mascot called Squish the Magic RINO, a reference to the acronym “Republican in name only.” Shortly after he was introduced, Squish – a group member wearing a rubber rhinoceros face mask – was unmasked when General Assembly police officers told him it’s illegal to wear a mask on state government property.

Friday News: Indictments coming?


MUELLER EMPANELS GRAND JURY TO ASSIST IN TRUMP/RUSSIA PROBE: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in his probe into whether President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, according to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Grand juries can be the first step in a criminal trial and are generally reserved for serious felonies, but the impaneling of a grand jury does not mean someone is being charged with a crime. Grand juries do have subpoena power for witnesses and records before they have chosen whether to indict the involved party. Trump has denied his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, referring to Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.”

Thursday News: Not-so-special session


GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONVENES TODAY, BUT NO VETO OVERRIDE VOTES SCHEDULED: North Carolina lawmakers are returning to Raleigh for a "veto override" session, but it doesn't sound like they're going to give Gov. Roy Cooper's objections much attention now. The General Assembly is scheduled to convene Thursday, probably only for one day. It's supposed to consider the four vetoes Cooper issued from over 100 bills lawmakers left him when their annual work session ended June 30. A key House lawmaker says so many legislators are expected to be absent that action on the vetoed bills will wait until a session in September. The Republican-controlled legislature could take up some other pieces of legislation Thursday. Many legislators will stay through Friday to attend a redistricting committee whose work is intensifying after new General Assembly maps were ordered by Sept. 1.

Wednesday News: Reverse-reverse discrimination?


TRUMP DIRECTS DOJ TO SUE COLLEGES WHO DON'T SELECT ENOUGH WHITE APPLICANTS: The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times. The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.” The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.

Tuesday News: Cutting the puppet strings

ELECTIONS BOARD MULLS TOUGHER RULES FOR VOTER CHALLENGES: Republicans and voting-rights advocates went head-to-head over a proposal that would have people make fact-based claims when they allege voters have committed fraud. The State Board of Elections has proposed a stiffer standard for elections protests that would have people describe facts, say whether a lawyer helped them make their claims, and say whether they have any witnesses. The McCrory campaign and his Republican allies used protest forms to “make outrageous claims of voter fraud,” Hall said. As a result, voters were unfairly maligned and targeted on social media. “They used charges of voter fraud for personal gain,” he said. Democracy NC found that lawyers with a Virginia firm helped prepare nearly all the protests.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NEW REDISTRICTING EFFORT AIMS TO REPEAT OLD MISTAKES: The iron-fisted leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly quickly snapped the last frayed thread of hope that there might be a sincere effort to develop fair and legal legislative districts. At Wednesday’s joint meeting of the legislature’s redistricting committees, among the first revelations is that taxpayers will be paying the architect of the state’s current illegal redistricting maps to create the new ones. Tom Hofeller isn’t a household name though his handiwork as nation’s top Republican redistricting map-maker, has cost the state millions defending the unconstitutional legislative and congressional districts he concocted. When asked if Democrats in the legislature will have access to Hofeller’s expertise and work – after all we’re all paying for it – House redistricting boss Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, was precise. “The short answer is no.”

Friday News: Turtle tries fancy footwork, loses race

MCCONNELL SWINGS AND MISSES ON "SKINNY" REPEAL EFFORT THANKS TO JOHN MCCAIN: Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump's agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol. Unable to pass even a so-called "skinny repeal," it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal "Obamacare." "This is clearly a disappointing moment," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. "I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time." McConnell put the health bill on hold and announced that the Senate would move onto other legislation next week.


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