Daily dose

Communities Fight State Laws That Can Divide Broadband Access (New York Times) -- Small cities are asking the F.C.C. to use its power to override laws in 19 states that forbid municipalities to build or expand broadband networks. Jason Bissette could throw a sweet potato from his office here in eastern North Carolina’s Wilson County, where he and his family oversee nearly 3,000 acres, to their newest barn. But despite his wishes, Mr. Bissette cannot extend the high-speed broadband from the office to his barns, either by wire or Wi-Fi, an upgrade that would help him monitor his sweet potatoes and tobacco. The problem is that his office sits in Wilson County, where a municipal power company has built a high-speed fiber-optic network. The barns, however, sit in Nash County. And a three-year-old state law prohibits the city of Wilson’s utility from expanding its broadband network outside its home territory.

Election 2014: Results Show Limits of Big Data (Wall Street Journal) -- North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan used groundbreaking data analysis and a large volunteer network to boost turnout among blacks, young voters and supporters in key counties that Democrats need to win statewide races. The data-driven tactics weren’t enough. Ms. Hagan fell short in her bid for re-election Tuesday in a race that helped swing the balance of power in the Senate to Republicans. The 2014 midterm elections underscored the potential—and the limits—of voter mobilization, a part of electioneering that has drawn unprecedented investments in recent years in data-gathering and analysis techniques aimed at better understanding and motivating voters. This year’s elections showed that while campaigns have become more sophisticated in targeting voters, the broader political environment remains a more important factor than the most well-oiled turnout machine.

Tillis focuses on NC GOP counties, data for win (AP) — Thom Tillis' explanation for his U.S. Senate victory was pretty straightforward, pointing directly at President Barack Obama.

How Much Did Your Vote Cost? Per Voter in 2014 Senate Races (Brooking) -- Totaling more than $111,000,000.00, the 2014 North Carolina Senate contest between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis is the most expensive Senate election in the nation’s history (not adjusted for inflation). As we investigated earlier this week, outside money has been flowing into American politics in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. When candidate and independent spending are combined, 2014 ranks among the most expensive, if not the most expensive, in history. However, understanding campaign spending takes more than a simple examination of total dollars. Spending differences across states can occur for a variety of reasons, including geographic size, population size, and the expense of media markets.

Fewer Donors, but Bigger Checks, in Midterm Elections (Wall Street Journal) -- The 2014 midterm elections were funded by fewer people giving larger sums to candidates, parties and political-action committees, a study of Federal Election Commission disclosures finds.

EMPTY CAMPAIGN RHETORIC? Over-the-counter contraception not on GOP agenda (Washington Times) -- A number of Republican candidates surmounted Democrats’ “war on women” attacks in this year’s campaigns by calling for birth control to be made available over the counter — but it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to follow through on those promises when the new Congress convenes next year. In races from North Carolina to Colorado, Republicans undercut Democratic talking points over last year’s Supreme Court decision on Obamacare and contraception by proposing that birth control be made more widely available, chiefly by having birth control pills be sold without a prescription. But with the election in the books, that proposal has been markedly absent from the plans congressional leaders have laid out for the lame-duck session of Congress that begins next week, and for the new Congress to be sworn in in January. Among those to call for over-the-counter sales were: North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis, who also won a Senate seat; Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado, who won a seat in the Senate last week; and Virginia Del. Barbara Comstock, who won a high-profile House race in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Frank Wolf. None of them returned messages seeking comment on their contraceptive plans now that the election is over.

O’Keefe praises local N.C. news media, guerilla journalist says ‘undercover’ videos ‘made a difference' (World News Daily) -- Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe notes that his organization did an undercover video about possible vote fraud in North Carolina, considered a tossup Senate seat in the 2014 race, Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan went from a two-point lead to a two-point loss to Republican Thom Tillis after videos released by Project Veritas. So does the undercover work of guerrilla journalists like O’Keefe make a difference? He thinks so. … O’Keefe explained local media outlets pay attention when there are allegations of vote fraud against their candidates, especially if there is video to back the claims. “The local media makes all the difference. In all these races, Charlotte Observer, all these newspapers have covered the videos … And I think that’s what makes the difference. It’s not about the national media now. It’s about the local media, and that’s where we often fight these battles.” … I really think it’s a new type of journalism that has prompted local media to pay attention while the nationals don’t care. I think the local media is where it counts.”

Left struggled to move voters with Koch attacks (Washington Post) -- One clear lesson emerged from last week’s midterm elections: Running against big money in politics is hard to do. Democrats and their allies made the topic one of their central lines of attack this year, featuring the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch in nearly 100 different political spots that ran in states from Alaska to Florida. But the issue failed to gain traction, and most of those Democrats lost. The difficulty they encountered in transforming the public’s disgust with rich donors into political action speaks to how hard it is to move voters who view both parties as captives of wealthy patrons.

McHenry works to bolster influence in GOP House (Charlotte Observer) -- When a young and brash 29-year-old Patrick McHenry first strode into Washington, he likened Capitol Hill to junior high. It had the jocks, the geeks and the bullies.

GOP remains comfortably in charge at NC statehouse (Jacksonville Daily News) -- Several million dollars from independent groups on top of an expensive U.S. Senate race that negatively portrayed the Republican agenda in Raleigh helped Democrats knock off a few GOP incumbents at the North Carolina legislature on Election Day.

Same faces in new General Assembly (Greensboro News & Record) -- The next North Carolina General Assembly is going to look at lot like the last one.

NC agencies lock down info on inmate’s death from dehydration (Raleigh News & Observer) -- State prison officials release little information to the public, or to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. “They treated him like a dog,” said Brenda Liles, sister of Michael Anthony Kerr, who died March 12 after more than a month in solitary confinement.

Officials rush for backup plans to HealthCare.gov (Washington Post) -- Some preparations are coming down to the wire as health officials and contractors scramble ahead of open enrollment, which starts in less than a week.

'Psychological thriller' filming in Burlington (WGHP-TV) -- A movie called “The Harrow” is in its final week of production at the historical Glencoe Mill neighborhood in Burlington. Director Kevin Stocklin said he wanted to film in the South and chose North Carolina not only for the tobacco and old textile plants, but also because of the film incentives available for production crews. “You spend the money up front and then you hike to kind of recoup overtime,” Stocklin said. “So the incentives are really very essential to us.” … Friday, Governor Pat McCrory released a video announcing lawmakers will not call a special session. That decision means the state film incentives that offer a 25 percent refundable tax credit will expire at the end of this year. A $10 million grant program will take its place.

Plans made to appoint new judge (Burlington Times-News) -- Now that Chief District Court Judge Jim Roberson is soon to be Superior Court Judge Roberson after the Nov. 4 election, it’s time to start thinking about who will fill his District Court seat. The Alamance County bar will hold a special meeting Nov. 25 to select nominees to serve out Roberson’s term, which expires in 2016. Per state law, the 15A Judicial District Bar will select five nominees to be submitted to Gov. Pat McCrory for consideration to be appointed as judge. Roberson’s impending vacancy also means N.C. Chief Justice Mark Martin will name a new chief District Court judge for Alamance County. Each district has a chief District Court judge, always designated by the state’s chief justice.

Plan calls for new ferry stops along Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway (Wilmington Star-News) -- "It is an alternative to getting across the bridge and helps to alleviate traffic congestion," said Mike Kozlosky, WMPO executive director.

Attorney general nominee is Charlotte pastor’s sister (Charlotte Observer) -- The pastor of a Charlotte church had a big family event on Saturday: President Barack Obama nominated his sister to be the next U.S. attorney general.

Haley files motion to stop S.C. gay couple from marrying (AP) -- SC Gov. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson on Friday afternoon filed yet another motion to stop two Charleston women from getting married.

Nags Head loses 5-year battle over damaged homes (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Roc Sansotta stuck an extension ladder in the sand next to a leaning beach home, climbed to the top and used his power drill to screw a tattered American flag to the siding.

County to halt retiree coverage (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Pasquotank County will not offer post-retirement health insurance to future employees, but will maintain those benefits for current retirees.

About 280 soldiers return to Fort Bragg (AP) -- It was a very good weekend for nearly 300 soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg.

Massachusetts town weighs nation's 1st tobacco ban (AP) — The cartons of Marlboros, cans of Skoal and packs of Swisher Sweets are hard to miss stacked near the entrance of Vincent's Country Store, but maybe not for much longer: All tobacco products could become contraband if local health officials get their way. This sleepy central Massachusetts town of 7,700 has become an improbable battleground in America's tobacco wars. On Wednesday, the Board of Health will hear public comment on a proposed regulation that could make Westminster the first municipality in the United States to ban sales of all tobacco products within town lines.

NC Ranks 2nd in the US in Christmas Tree Production (TWCN-TV) -- North Carolina is ranked second in the nation in Christmas tree production, and the billion-dollar industry is expected to do even better than last year.

MCNC's incoming CEO braces for new challenges (WRAL-TV) -- The Broadband Report: Jean Davis has been named the new chief executive officer at MCNC. She will take over the organization that operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network on Nov. 17. In this WRAL TechWire exclusive, we talk with the new leader on her future plans for the technology nonprofit.

Lexington agency offers pet training for veterans (AP) — Representatives with Saving Grace K-9's in Lexington want every veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder to have someone to help them in their darkest hour, especially if it's their own furry best friend.

Greening a Food Desert in Greensboro (N.C. Health News) -- Neighborhood activists in Greensboro have been working for years to solve the problem of their community’s lack of a grocery store

Asheville-area students & staffers earn awards & honors (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Fourth-grade teacher Jeanne McCabe Curtis was selected to participate in the Governor’s Teacher Network, a Race to the Top-funded initiative operated in partnership by the Office of Gov. Pat McCrory and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Curtis, who teaches at Evergreen Community Charter School, was selected based on her proposal outlining her teaching strategies that promote a growth mindset in student mathematicians and aim to engage all students with differentiated activities that teach Common Core content and practice standards.

Valuing teachers: It’s time for the state to get serious (Winston-Salem Journal) -- During the campaign, while candidates were busy tossing around numbers about the N.C. school budget and claiming to be champions of education, more teachers were packing up and leaving the state – or leaving the profession entirely. Now that the election is over, it’s time for our legislators to get serious about supporting education.

States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F (New York Times) -- Parents, students and school officials have joined a national protest of consequences of Common Core testing.

Wake County trying to meet needs of transgender students (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In addition to providing bathroom and locker room accommodations for transgender students, the Wake County school system is developing specific training to deal with bullying related to gender identity.

EARTH REALLY MOVED: Small earthquakes felt inN.C. & Tenn. (AP) — Federal officials say two minor earthquakes this weekend have shaken areas in the North Carolina mountains and east Tennessee.

Power outages in southeast Charlotte fixed (Charlotte Observer) -- About 16,000 customers lost electricity in the Charlotte area Sunday afternoon, though Duke Energy reported that the power had been restored by about 4 p.m.

Well-Trod Victims of the Oil Fields: Roads Used to Get There (New York Times) -- A rush to the Eagle Ford Shale — the oil-rich fields that have brought prosperity to many in South Texas — is clogging and crumbling the roads taken to get there.

Conetoe pastor wins prize for garden (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Addressing the mental, physical and spiritual health of youth and the local community has been a hallmark of the Rev. Richard Joyner’s ministry.

Coastal Sketch: Joe Ramus (Coastal Review) -- Learn how the kid surrounded by walnuts in the hills of California and who wanted to be an engineer ended up spending most of his life by the sea in North Carolina where is he a respected marine scientists and a N.C. Coastal Federation board member.

Marsh cruises being offered (Jacksonville Daily News) -- Marsh cruises being offered this month at Hammocks Beach State Park are an opportunity to explore the coastal environment in the fall and benefit a good cause.

Temporary setback for same-sex marriage (Charlotte Observer) -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dealt a startling blow to homosexuals last week when it upheld same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio. But as difficult as the setback surely is for same-sex couples in those four states, it is probably temporary, and it comes with a larger benefit for other states, including North Carolina.

Supreme Court should ban marriage bans (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Recent federal court rulings upholding the constitutionality of gay marriage have brought much relief and joy to gay couples around the country who have applied for marriage licenses, including in North Carolina. But now a federal appeals court in Cincinnati, driven by two judges of a three-judge panel, have thrown a wrench in the constitutional works, upholding bans on gay marriage in four states. … While logic of the latest ruling is regrettable, the split at the federal appeals level may have a welcome effect. It puts the issue before the Supreme Court where the right to same-sex marriage could be established nationwide.

Prosperity elusive for parts of Southeastern North Carolina (Wilmington Star-News) -- One doesn’t have to travel all the way to Africa or poorest Asia to find a hungry child.

Mike Adams: Our People (Town Hall column) -- On April 8th, Judge Howard handed me two helpings of good news. First, he ordered the university to immediately promote me to its highest rank of full professor. Next, he ordered the university to give me $50,000 in back pay. Before it was all over, the university would be ordered to increase my salary by nearly $10,000 per year and to pay my attorneys a whopping $710,000 in legal fees. It was a thorough shellacking – an unprecedented victory for free speech over the forces of secular progressive intolerance. Just three days after the judge ordered my promotion, I headed up to Raleigh to give a speech at Christ Baptist Church. N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest both attend the church so I knew it would be a friendly audience. I spoke to the group for about an hour and then signed a few books before leaving to go to Guitar Center to blow some of the settlement money on a guitar that I really didn’t need.

Faculty needs to stand up for UNC-CH's academic mission (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In the wake of the Wainstein report, UNC-Chapel Hill's faculty has to support the university's academic mission no matter what effect higher standards and more scrutiny may have on athletics.

Voters sought change, but will they get it? (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- There already have been plenty of post-mortems on last week’s mid-term election and there doubtless will be plenty more in the days to come.



High speed broadband

High speed broadband is as important to rural and small-town America today as electric power was a century ago. That our General Assembly would side with Comcast and Charter and Time Warner over small farmers and businesses is not surprising.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR