Daily dose

Small-town blues: Rural communities struggle to chart a future (Fayetteville Observer) -- Many communities with fewer than 10,000 residents across the state were once depended on factories that employed hundreds or thousands. But in the late 20th century into the last decade, textile makers and other manufacturers closed their plants as they chased low wages to other countries. Even before the recession struck in 2007, much of rural North Carolina was economically stagnant or declining. The situation is much on the mind of rural state lawmakers, such as Rep. David Lewis of Dunn, next door to Erwin in Harnett County. Lewis, a Republican, is one of the higher-ranked lawmakers in the General Assembly. It's a challenge to bring jobs back to small towns, Lewis said. "Unfortunately, the jobs follow jobs," Lewis said. "In other words, these people that move into an area want their employees to have a certain standard of life, a certain standard of living. It's very difficult once the ball starts rolling toward the bigger town that has the restaurants and the movie theaters. Folks begin to live where they work."

NC may reverse course on Medicaid expansion (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Whether to accept federal money to expand Medicaid is shaping up as one of the biggest questions to face lawmakers when the General Assembly opens its 2015 session in January. If Republicans reverse course, an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians stand to gain coverage under Medicaid, which pays health care costs for poor children, low-income elderly people and the disabled. But doing so also would force the GOP to implement a key component of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Gov. Pat McCrory and outgoing House Speaker Thom Tillis both have said in recent weeks that it is time for the state to look again at the issue.

NC Democrats' chairman won't seek re-election (AP) — North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller announced Saturday that he will not seek re-election as leader of a party still figuring how to recover from recent election losses that have left the Democrats the minority party in state government.

Voller not seeking another term as NC Dems mend fences (WRAL-TV) -- Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller says he won't seek another term, saying he takes responsibility for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's loss in North Carolina. Democratic leaders say they must chart a less fractious course of the party.

NC Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller won’t seek return to office (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Embattled N.C. Democratic Party chairman Randy Voller said he won’t seek another term leading the organization, citing Sen. Kay Hagan’s loss on Election Day.

Something better than running for election (Charlotte Observer) -- Vernon Robinson hasn’t always had a lot of luck winning elections. But he’s doing pretty well trying to get somebody else elected.

How Big Petro's candidates fared in NC legislative races (Facing South) -- The American Petroleum Institute jumped into the outside spending game in the North Carolina state politics this year. Most of its chosen legislative candidates won re-election -- but not all of them. Was outside spending by environmentalists a factor in the losses?

NC reports smooth launch to 2015 health insurance sign-ups (Charlotte Observer) -- North Carolina advocates report a smooth launch as the federal health insurance exchange opens for 2015 enrollment Saturday.

HealthCare.gov opens without major glitches (Washington Post) -- The early hours of open enrollment appeared devoid of the troubles that plagued last year’s debut.

Some New Frustrations as Health Exchange Opens (New York Times) -- The system opened Saturday and performed much better than last year, but some consumers reported long delays in trying to buy insurance and access their accounts at HealthCare.gov.

New Senators Tilt GOP Back Toward Insiders (New York Times) -- They have spent at least 70 collective years in government: five sitting members of Congress, two civil servants from the George W. Bush administration, a pair of state legislators and a former governor. They are a counterintuitive fit with the antigovernment, anti-establishment fervor that has energized the Republican Party of late. And their victories seem hard to reconcile with the strong hostility toward government institutions that dominated the recent midterm elections. … Increasingly, the Senate is becoming the House’s executive suite — for those who earn the promotion. According to the Senate historian, there will be 52 former House members in the Senate next year, more than half the body. That number has risen steadily over the past 30 years: In 1984, there were just 29. … There is also Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who beat primary opponents who were more stridently conservative on issues with the help of party elders. Mr. Tillis, who defeated Sen. Kay Hagan, is the speaker of the State House in Raleigh and has been in the legislature for four terms.

Lethal mix: Lawyers’ mistakes, unforgiving law (Washington Post/Marshall Project) -- The rigidity of a 1996 law — and the lack of recourse to address attorneys’ errors — stripped scores of death-row inmates of a critical safeguard. Sixteen have been executed.

For rail-car maker Vertex, incentives weren't a priority (Wilmington Star-News) -- Business incentives were a divisive issue for legislators during this year's session.

Tax incentives only one factor in attracting industry (Wilmington Star-News) -- The issue of incentives and whether the state should offer them to lure companies and industries was one of the most divisive issues

Museum exhibit shines spotlight on NC film history (AP) — It's mere coincidence that an exhibit about North Carolina's history in film and television that was two years in the making is opening this weekend across the street from the Legislature, where lawmakers decided earlier this year to end an incentives program that brought Hollywood to the Tar Heel state.

Caswell Beach mayor stripped of powers amid financial questions (WWAY-TV) -- Caswell Beach commissioners have stripped the town's mayor of his powers as questions arise about his involvement in a lobbying effort for Brunswick County's beach towns. Town Administrator Chad Hicks says commissioners voted 5-0 last night to strip Harry Simmons of his duties as mayor and assign them to Mayor Pro Tem Deborah Ahlers. The move comes amid questions of money the town has paid for a lobbying firm through the Brunswick Beaches Consortium (BBC). Simmons serves as chair of the BBC, which is a joint program to restore and maintain beaches for the county's coastal towns. According to the statement, in October Caswell Beach commissioners asked Simmons to provide them financial statements for the BBC so they could get a better understanding about how the town's $12,000 annual lobbying payment to the BBC was being used, but he still has not. They also asked Hicks to follow up with the lobbying firm, Marlowe & Company in Washington, DC, which Simmons said was providing the services, but whose federal filings showed had stopped providing services for BBC in December.

Barber: America beginning third Reconstruction (AP) — The president of the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and leader of the state's Moral Monday Movement says America is beginning a third Reconstruction.

Beware: IRS impersonators continue to scam people (Charlotte Observer) Federal investigators trace con artists to a rogue call center in India, but stopping them will not be easy.

For NC park rangers, confronting suicide is the worst part of the job (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Suicide on park lands is a public health issue that aggrieves families, traumatizes visitors and staff, and consumes scarce resources as rangers and rescuers try to find despondent people and stop them from hurting themselves.

Loretta Lynch: From Durham to Washington, a quiet, effective career (Raleigh News & Observer) -- With her nomination to be U.S. attorney general, it’ll be harder to stay out of the spotlight. “I think she’s going to be fair. I think she’s going to be friendly. I think she’s going to be tough,” said her father, the Rev. Lorenzo Lynch.

Some in Spring Lake say Outer Loop draw is more traffic, others see no change (Fayetteville Observer) -- More than three months ago, the state Department of Transportation opened the latest leg of Fayetteville's Outer Loop, bridging Bragg Boulevard and Murchison Road with a 1.7-mile section of mostly desolate interstate.

Highway sign marks NC stance on Constitution (AP) -- A highway marker in Hillsborough commemorates North Carolina's refusal to adopt the Constitution without a Bill of Rights more than 225 years ago. The marker is being dedicated Sunday at Dickerson Chapel AME Church. About 270 delegates met in Hillsborough in July 1788 and refused to ratify the Constitution, instead calling for a Bill of Rights. The Constitution nevertheless received the necessary votes from nine states and took effect in March 1789. But North Carolina and Rhode Island continued to call for a Bill of Rights which Congress approved later in 1789 and sent on to the states. North Carolina then held a second convention in Fayetteville where delegates ratified the Constitution.

Top 10 'Authentic' Small Towns in America (World Property Journal) -- No. 8 - BRYSON CITY, N.C. - This is a classic Old South town, with a statue in front of the courthouse, a town square, and an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants. At N.C. Clampitt Hardware Company, you can find old-time hardware that you never thought you'd see again. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will take you on a stunning ride through forests and meadows and "hollers" (small valleys). Bryson City's the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park...and to spectacular rafting trips in Nantahala Gorge with Wildwater Rafting Co. And Fontana Guides can take you on fishing, boating, or hunting trips into the heart of the Smokies. The best place to stay is actually above Bryson City; Lands Creek Log Cabins is a mountaintop hideout with beautiful log cabins built above a rushing creek. … No. 4 - FLOYD, Va. - There's only one stoplight in Floyd (pop. 425). This tiny town is set on the Blue Ridge Plateau, where the ridges roll on forever into smoky horizons. It's a genuine slice of Americana that you thought had disappeared long ago. The Blue Ridge Parkway, considered by many the most beautiful road on Earth, is here. So are the Jacksonville Center for the Arts and the Floyd Artisan Trail, lined with craftspeople creating painted and woven and carved and clay masterpieces. … Floyd's also a key stop on The Crooked Road, Virginia's heritage music trail. In fact, the biggest event in town is the weekly Friday Night Jamboree at the Floyd Country Store - you can't miss it - where pretty much the whole town turns out

Charlottean uncovers shocking secrets from his past (Charlotte Observer) -- Keith Bardsley found out decades ago that he was adopted. Recently he discovered the rest of his story.

Maritime historian to discuss NC lighthouses (AP) -- A maritime historian is discussing the history of North Carolina lighthouses in a lecture in New Bern, including the tale of a keeper who purposely wrecked ships. Historian Kevin Duffus speaks Sunday at the North Carolina History Center on the evolution of lighthouses and light-keeping in North Carolina. The event is free.

Library gives Nazi books to museum (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- The Perquimans County Library donated a collection of photographs of Nazi Germany during World War II to the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. on Monday.

Bullet passes through motel wall, kills NC youth (AP) — A 13-year-old North Carolina youth, in Raleigh for a soccer tournament, is dead after he was killed by a bullet that passed through a motel room wall.

Lewisville Soccer Player Killed By Bullet That Passed Through Hotel Wall (Winston-Salem Journal) -- A 13-year-old soccer player from Lewisville died late Friday after he was hit by a bullet that passed through the wall of a hotel room in Raleigh. Nathan Andrew Clark was a member of the U14 Fusion Elite team, a select traveling soccer team, and was in Raleigh for a CASL Shootout tournament, a soccer official said. Nathan was an eighth-grader at the Upper School at Calvary Baptist Day School in Winston-Salem. Police charged Randall Louis Vater, 42, of Knightdale with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Nathan and Vater were in separate rooms at the Comfort Suites at 1309 Corporation Parkway in Raleigh, police said. The two did not know each other.

Frazier joins board (Charlotte Observer column) -- We’re excited to announce that a new face will be sitting in the Observer editorial board’s meeting starting Monday. New to the board, that is, but already valued by Observer readers.

More evidence emerges on Jan Boxill (Daily Tar Heel) -- The Wainstein report was not the new page Jan Boxill expected to turn, she once said. … Emails show Boxill, a philosophy professor, offered 160 independent study courses between spring 2004 and spring 2012, according to records obtained by The Daily Tar Heel. … Emails released as supplementary documents with the Wainstein report show athletes were also steered to independent study courses Boxill taught. The philosophy professor and former director of the Parr Center for Ethics did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Panel criticizes Wainstein report’s public interpretation (Daily Tar Heel) -- In the wake of Kenneth Wainstein’s investigation, students, faculty and administrators are concerned that some interpretations of his report have raised misconceptions about the African-American community.

Common Core Reading: Difficult, Dahl, Repeat (NPR) -- Backers of the Common Core say it's important for kids to tackle complex texts. Critics argue that reading shouldn't be a struggle for kids. We'll visit one classroom that borrows from both sides.

Foxx returns to Davidson to help fund drive (AP) — United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is helping his alma mater Davidson College as it begins the biggest fundraising campaign in school history.

UNC Charlotte investigating hazing allegations (AP) — UNC Charlotte officials say they are investigating allegations of hazing within the baseball team.

Greensboro-based company running trucks on natural gas (Greensboro News & Record) — If a trucker says it’s time to gas up the rig, look around. If it says Epes on the side, the driver may be talking about the real thing — compressed natural gas.

Solar farms and coal ash are on county board agenda (Sanford Herald) -- Lee County staff will give a presentation Monday about feedback from nearby counties on their experiences with solar farms

How Big Petro's candidates fared in NC legislative races (Facing South) -- The American Petroleum Institute jumped into the outside spending game in the North Carolina state politics this year. Most of its chosen legislative candidates won re-election -- but not all of them. Was outside spending by environmentalists a factor in the losses?

NC inmate’s death shows need for prison review (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The death by dehydration of a mentally ill inmate should spur changes in North Carolina prisons.

Rail-car maker to help fill void in middle-income manufacturing jobs (Wilmington Star-News) -- A part of Wilmington's past will come to life again with Vertex Rail's arrival.

An unsettling veil of secrecy in N.C. courts (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Remember all those judicial candidates on the ballot Nov. 4, 19 of them in one race alone? Many had track records as judges. How many of them were the target of disciplinary proceedings recently? You don’t know? Don’t feel bad. Neither did anyone else, thanks to a terrible piece of legislation crammed through the General Assembly in 2013 and signed by Gov. Pat McCrory. Until then, the state court system’s webpage contained any complaint that had been filed and the judge’s response. Now, the page is blank except for this disclaimer: “All proceedings for judicial discipline are confidential.”

McAdoo case asks: What are student-athletes owed? (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- A lawsuit filed against UNC by former football player Michael McAdoo could shine light on how athletes were steered to sham classes and raise questions about whether the exchange between revenue sport athletes and their schools is fair.

Celia Rivenbark - Brush up on your civics memory (Wilmington Star-News) -- According to a recent survey, only 36 percent of U.S. citizens can name all three branches of government.

Give veterans the opportunities they need (Salisbury Post column) -- Thursday, a job fair was held at the former Salisbury Mall. It was labeled a “Veterans Appreciation and Community Job Fair” and organized by the NCWorks office in Rowan County. It may not seem like a lot, but it was an opportunity, and that’s all that some veterans need. Gov. Pat McCrory was in Salisbury Monday to announce his new initiative to connect veterans with available resources. The program is called NC4VETS, and its goal is to be a one-stop shop where veterans can get all the information they need. There is a resource guide, a website — www.nc4vets.org — and a toll-free call center: (844) NC4-VETS. “The NC4VETS initiative combines and simplifies the service offering from hundreds of federal, state, county and nonprofit programs in a way that has never been done before,” McCrory said. In Salisbury, a large part of the economy is based on support for veterans. The W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center employs 1,800 people. The benefits go both ways when people help people. Let’s continue to make sure veterans are cared for and have access to the opportunities they need.

Internet freedom needs ‘net neutrality’ (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- President Barack Obama last week correctly weighed in on the side of consumers and content providers in the debate over so-called “net neutrality.” Obama made no friends among the nation’s giant cable providers in urging the Federal Communications Commission to more heavily regulate Internet providers and treat broadband the same way it does other public utilities.

A title in doubt (Greensboro News & Record) -- If players on UNC’s 2005 championship basketball team took phony classes, the university must make a choice.



GSO Mayor at murder victim fundraiser

No doubt many of you heard about the tragic events in Greensboro; a gay vet was brutally beaten and set on fire by a man that he met at a gay bar in the area. He died yesterday afternoon.

Tensions are running high in the gay community over the murder - Greensboro police insist that it's not a hate crime.

One of my Facebook friends went to a fundraiser last night at the bar and noted that Greensboro mayor Nancy Vaughan showed up at the event, telling the crowd that the killer, a Greensboro city employee, would face justice. She also stayed for an hour, talking and listening to constituents. And this was at 11pm on a Saturday night.

Nancy is a jewel

She's got some serious challenges on the City Council, not the least of which is trying to adapt after the Privilege License fee fiasco. But she doesn't allow that to stop her from speaking out on issues such as LGBT equality, Medicaid Expansion, homeless veterans, and a bunch of other stuff.

I only hope Greensboro is smart enough to keep her as Mayor.