UNC STUDENTS STEP FORWARD IN SILENT SHAM LAWSUIT: “The Board of Governors’ secret negotiations, lack of transparency and false statements to the court, UNC students and the public is unacceptable,” De’Ivyion Drew, a sophomore at UNC-CH and one of the interveners, said in a statement. “These actions violate the Board of Governor’s duties to me as a student of this university and undermine UNC’s mission. The University’s agreement to give $2.5 million to the Sons of Confederate Veterans will help that group and other neo-Confederates continue to perpetuate the ahistorical and dangerous “Lost Cause” ideology. That ideology is a major obstacle to racial equity and reparative measures in our country.”
MARK JOHNSON CLAIMS 70,000 3RD GRADERS WERE PASSED WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN HELD BACK: North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson says the State Board of Education violated the state's Read to Achieve law, causing more than 70,000 students to be "improperly socially promoted," according to a memo he sent to "interested parties." The memo is not dated and does not list who the interested parties are. The memo was first reported by The News & Observer. State Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis and the superintendent's spokesman both provided WRAL News with a copy of the memo Friday evening. In his memo, Johnson wrote: "It is disappointing, but not surprising, that we once again have uncovered evidence that bureaucrats in state government have sought to aggressively undermine clear, unambiguous legislative directives." (He's running for Lt. Governor, so expect more of this drama)
NC BOE APPROVES VOTING MACHINE REPLACEMENT IN SPLIT VOTE: North Carolina elections officials approved a new type of touchscreen voting machine Friday over the objection of outside advocates and two elections board members who said the machines haven’t been properly tested. Election security and hacking concerns are at the center of the debate, with the 2020 election just a few months away. Federal government agencies have said foreign countries tried to interfere in the 2016 elections — including potentially in North Carolina — and will likely try to do so again next year. There are two main types of voting methods approved for the 2020 elections in North Carolina. Most counties plan to use hand-marked paper ballots. But some counties, including Mecklenburg, the state’s largest, plan to use touchscreen voting machines. Stella Anderson, an Appalachian State University professor and one of the election board’s three Democratic members, said the state should use this opportunity to promote the use of hand-marked paper ballots, which in North Carolina are counted by a different type of ES&S machine.
U.S. SUPREME COURT WILL DECIDE IF TRUMP'S FINANCIAL RECORDS WILL BE RELEASED: The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President Donald Trump’s pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a major confrontation between the president and Congress that also could affect the 2020 presidential campaign. Arguments will take place in late March, and the justices are poised to issue decisions in June as Trump is campaigning for a second term. Rulings against the president could result in the quick release of personal financial information that Trump has sought strenuously to keep private. The court also will decide whether the Manhattan district attorney can obtain eight years of Trump’s tax returns as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. The subpoenas are separate from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump, headed for a vote in the full House next week. Indeed, it’s almost certain the court won’t hear the cases until after a Senate trial over whether to remove Trump has ended. Trump sued to prevent banks and accounting firms from complying with subpoenas for his records from three committees of the House of Representatives and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
DEMOCRATIC ORGS DETERMINED TO FLIP LEGISLATURES IN 2020, INCLUDING NORTH CAROLINA'S: Democratic groups, labor unions and grass roots organizations say their strategy centers on funneling tens of millions of dollars into traditionally low-profile state legislative contests in an effort to create new routes for the party’s agenda and prepare for upcoming congressional redistricting. The party has largely focused on the top of the ballot during presidential election years, an approach that allowed Republicans to make gains in statehouses for decades. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which focuses on statehouse elections, has set a $50 million spending goal for 2020 — five times more than the group spent before the last round of redistricting in 2010. The group plans to target statehouses in Texas, North Carolina and several battleground states. With money and staff already pouring into dozens of state legislative districts around country, the Democrats’ 2020 focus will serve as perhaps the biggest test yet for various left-leaning groups that formed after Trump’s election. Many were instrumental in helping Democrats regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives last year, but now believe winning statehouses is the best way to advance an agenda that includes gun control, expanding access to health care, and protecting abortion and voting rights. It was GOP state legislators, they say, who devised many of the conservative policies that Trump later adopted as president.