Daily Dose: Bob Luddy slopping at the taxpayer trough edition

MONEY TALKS, WHO’S LISTENING? -- One of the biggest challenges any political campaign faces is figuring out how to dominate the conversation – determining what issues get the most attention and who’s views are driven home to the voters. It’s why all that money is raised and all those ads flood the airwaves. On Tuesday, the Washington Post declared: “North Carolina is the race on which the Senate will pivot. … If you assume that Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota are gone for Democrats and that Arkansas and Louisiana are going to be tough, then the majority maker for Republicans looks increasingly like the swing state of North Carolina. … Spending by outside groups suggests they think North Carolina is the pivot; it's the race where the most outside money has been spent to date this cycle.” All that outside money – more than $16.5 million and it isn’t even Labor Day -- can be a blessing or a curse for candidates and their campaigns. For candidates short on cash, it can help keep their names and criticism of their opponents in the public eye. Campaign laws forbid, except in narrow cases, any coordination between the campaigns and these outside, independent, super PACs and flood of outside money. While often these outside groups take their messages from the theme and issues the candidates they favor are pushing, that isn’t always the case. The agendas of these outside groups aren’t always completely sync with the candidates they favor. With the mega tsunami of outside money coming into North Carolina, it could be a huge struggle for either Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis or Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to get their message heard over the over the billion dollar bullhorns of the Koch brothers and others on the right and left. Currently, for example, the Tillis campaign is trying to stress education and the candidate’s boot-straps background. Meanwhile Carl Rove’s American Crossroads is flooding the airwaves with messages about balancing the federal budget – a distant third in priorities of voters according to last week’s USA TODAY North Carolina poll. As much of a struggle it will be for the two candidates to figure out how to dominate the discussion, that challenge will be even greater as they seek to navigate with, around and over the tens of millions these independent groups will be spending to press their message on North Carolina voters.

‘YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS, A …’ -- The political conventional wisdom (The Old CW) echoed “GOP glee” over incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s photo op with President Barack Obama. Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis’ U.S. Senate campaign asked: “Will a photo doom Kay Hagan?” There were plenty of snaps of the incumbent Democrat with the president Tuesday in Charlotte. But who else was in an uncropped photo – is that Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr? Who’s the guy giving Vice President Joe Biden a big hug a while back? And that same guy giving his pal Barack Obama a friendly slap on the back? Seems Hagan has some GOP company. Sure, Barack Obama isn’t the most popular political figure in North Carolina – with a 46 percent favorable rating in a recent USA TODAY statewide poll. Who might be less popular to stand beside? House Speaker Tillis recorded a 24 percent favorable rating in the poll; Gov. McCrory, a mere 38 percent.

FROM THE HILL: President Obama pecked Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) on the cheek Tuesday, shortly after landing in Charlotte, ahead of a speech on veterans affairs. It’s a kiss that’s likely to make headlines in North Carolina, where Hagan is running for re-election over North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis this fall in one of the fights that will determine whether the Senate majority stays in Democratic hands.
FROM ESQUIRE: Really, let's everybody take two weeks off and come back to talking about the midterms right around Labor Day.
This account in The Hill about the president's visit to the newly insane state of North Carolina, and the perils of having your cheek pecked by the president if you're incumbent Senator Kay Hagan, is Exhibit A for the proposition. First of all, does it look like Hagan is bothered by the whole thing? It's a kiss that's likely to make headlines in North Carolina, where Hagan is running for reelection this fall in one of the fights that will determine whether the Senate majority stays in Democratic hands. Hagan and other vulnerable Democrats generally aren't rushing into Obama's arms given his low approval ratings, and Republicans are doing their best to tie the candidates to the White House. The Republican National Committee quickly tweeted out a picture of Obama and Hagan's embrace, and said the senator also "embraces his record 96 percent of the time." I realize the Democratic party is defending a lot of Senate seats in tough areas, and that Kay Hagan is one of the vulnerable ones, but her opponent is Thom Tillis, who is one of the primary people responsible for making North Carolina newly insane, and, if you're going to make the claim that the presidential peck is a political loser, then you've simply got to do better than this.
FROM THE FAYETTEVILLE OBSERVER: President Obama's visit to North Carolina to speak to the American Legion's national convention prompted sparring between the campaigns of the state's two senatorial candidates. Republican Thom Tillis, seeking to unseat Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, has consistently tried to tie her to unpopular Obama policies and to problems with veterans services. Before the event Tuesday, the state GOP sent out a release that questioned whether Hagan would appear on stage with the president. Instead of meeting him on stage, she met him at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base in Charlotte where his plane landed. Hagan greeted him warmly and accepted a peck on the cheek. GOP Sen. Richard Burr also was present to greet the president.

NO RUSH: North Carolina and women’s suffrage – The political conventional wisdom (The Old CW) reports that Gov. Pat McCrory proclaimed Tuesday Women’s Equality Day. “Unfortunately, his staff didn’t get around to spreading the word about his proclamation until a 3:45 p.m. email, leaving precious little time to celebrate.” North Carolina wasn’t too keen on the 19th amendment for a long time – in fact not ratifying it until 1971 about 51 years after it became the law of the land. “When the North Carolina legislature met on 10 August 1920, both North Carolina and Tennessee were considering the suffrage amendment and its ratification. It appeared not only that the Nineteenth Amendment would be ratified, but that North Carolina could be the final state required to do so. Yet, on 11 August 1920, sixty-three of the one hundred and twenty North Carolina House members signed a telegram sent to the Tennessee legislature, promising that they—a majority of the House—would not ratify the amendment on the grounds that it interfered "with the sovereignty of Tennessee and other States of the Union," and asking that Tennessee do the same. The impact of this telegram seems to have been minimal, however, since the Tennessee State Senate passed ratification on the 13 August 1920. … Although North Carolina technically did not reject the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 (because of Warren's motion to table the bill in the Senate), it also did not ratify it until 1971, more than fifty years after it became law. The only state to wait longer was Mississippi, which ratified it in 1984.”

Which states ranks the best and the worst for gender equity? N.C. is 22nd (Washington Post) -- The best place to be a woman, if you’re interested in workplaces that promote equal opportunity, is Nevada. New Hampshire rates highest for women’s political empowerment. Mississippi takes the top spot for women’s health and education. But the best place in the country for gender equity? Hawaii. That’s at least according to a new report by WalletHub, a personal finance Web site, that crunched data from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources to come up with the state rankings on gender disparities – and to remind people just how wide they still are on Women’s Equality Day. North Carolina ranked 22nd.

NC moves to fine Duke over coal ash pollution (AP) — North Carolina environmental officials moved Tuesday to fine Duke Energy over pollution that has been seeping into the groundwater for years from a pair of coal ash dumps at a retired power plant outside Wilmington.

Duke Energy gets violation notice over Sutton Plant coal ash ponds (Wilmington Star-News) -- State regulators Tuesday issued a notice of violation to Duke Energy over groundwater contamination seeping out of coal ash ponds.

Addressing Groundwater Contamination At Wilmington-Area Power Plant (N.C. Political News) – The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources today sent Duke Energy Progress a notice of violation and intent to enforce for groundwater contamination from coal ash ponds at the L.V. Sutton Electric Plant in New Hanover County. The notice of violation is the legally required first step toward issuing the utility a fine for violations of the state’s groundwater contamination laws.

NC moves to fine Duke over coal ash pollution (WRAL-TV) -- North Carolina environmental officials moved Tuesday to fine Duke Energy over pollution that has been seeping into the groundwater for years from a pair of coal ash dumps at a retired power plant outside Wilmington.

Rowan GOP legislators: McCrory wring, coal ash commission legal (Salisbury Post) -- Days after the N.C. General Assembly passed sweeping coal ash legislation, the nation’s first, Gov. Pat McCrory challenged the constitutionality of an oversight commission, but most Rowan County legislators don’t see it as a problem. … As of Tuesday evening, McCrory had not signed the management plan into law. During his Sunday comments, McCrory said he planned to sign the bill and later challenge the commission’s constitutionality. All four of Rowan County’s state legislators disagreed with McCrory’s determination that the coal ash commission was unconstitutional. Republican N.C. Sen. Andrew Brock said the legislature makes other appointments, and constitutionality isn’t an issue. “I just don’t see why all of a sudden it’s seen as a constitutional issue,” Brock said. “If it is an issue, we would have to take a look at how we appoint all of our boards and commissions. We actually have one full-time staff member that handles boards and commissions.”

Kay Hagan chides Obama, Thom Tillis over veterans care (Charlotte Observer) -- The North Carolina Democrat is locked in one of the nation’s tightest Senate races.

Kay Hagan hits, then embraces Obama (Politico) -- Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan beat up President Barack Obama before he arrived in town, then showed up at the airport to give him a kiss on the cheek. That’s the kind of balance Hagan’s trying to strike in a state where Obama’s still very popular in some parts that helped her win in 2008, but dragging her down so much elsewhere that she’s one of the Democrats’ most vulnerable incumbents.

Expert: NC senator performs 'delicate dance' (WSOC-TV) -- President Barack Obama's visit puts many eyes on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan as she seeks re-election. The big question is how much she is -- or is not -- distancing herself from his administration. Tuesday's decision to speak at the convention in Charlotte was an easy call for Hagan. She planned to speak there long before the president announced his plans to show up. The two acted warm toward each other, hugging after the president's speech, but as political expert Michael Bitzer said, Hagan's going to have to keep doing this "delicate dance" between being close with the president and keeping her distance. "She needs that base, but she also needs to peel off as many independent moderate voters (as possible) to put together that winning coalition," Bitzer said.

Obama defends handling of veterans affairs issues (AP) — His standing with veterans damaged by scandal, President Barack Obama on Tuesday defended his administration's response to Veterans Affairs lapses that delayed health care for thousands of former service members, but conceded more needed to be done to regain their trust.

Obama outlines executive actions to help vets (Washington Post) -- In the wake of the VA scandal, the president said that America has to do more to uphold its “sacred trust” to those who have served in the armed forces.

Obama pledges support for veterans in Charlotte speech (Charlotte Observer) -- Calling it a moral obligation, President Barack Obama on Tuesday outlined steps to help veterans and restore trust damaged by a series of “outrageous and inexcusable” problems and scandals.

Obama Tells Veterans He Will Fix Health System, as New Report Lists Lapses (New York Times) -- President Obama spoke to an American Legion convention Tuesday with a promise to do more to improve veterans’ access to health care and housing.

Obama tells American Legion he's working to regain veterans' trust (LA Times) -- President Obama said Tuesday that he is working to “regain the trust” of the nation’s veterans by improving their access to quality healthcare and education as he struggles to recover from a scandal

Obama In Charlotte: Proposes 'Veterans Counseling Veterans’ (WUNC-FM) -- President Barack Obama spoke today to hundreds of American Legion veterans who had gathered in Charlotte, NC, for their national convention. His remarks come just months after a health care scandal and leadership change at the top of the Veterans Administration. The President announced 19 new executive actions to improve veterans' care -- one of which focuses on the rising rate of suicides among former soldiers.

Obama tells veterans better mental health care on the way (Reuters) - President Barack Obama sought to make amends with veterans on Tuesday, announcing steps to expand their access to mental health care and an initiative with financial companies to lower home loan costs for military families. The president was embarrassed earlier this year when it was revealed that the Department of Veterans Affairs had been covering up lengthy delays in providing healthcare to former military personnel. Obama, speaking at the American Legion's national convention in Charlotte, announced steps to improve availability of mental health care for military personnel as they move to civilian life and expanded research into post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide. He said efforts to improve veterans' healthcare would continue.

President Obama: 'We're Creating New Culture of Accountability at the VA' (TWCN-TV) -- President Barack Obama announced a number of new measures Tuesday to help veterans with healthcare, housing, education and jobs.

FULL TEXT: President Obama's speech in Charlotte (WBTV-TV) -- I want to thank Commander Dellinger for the introduction, but more importantly, for your service in the Army. And as you conclude your tenure as Commander, thank you for your tireless commitment to America's veterans. I want to thank the entire leadership team for welcoming me here today, including your National Adjutant, Dan Wheeler; your Executive Director in Washington, Peter Gaytan; Nancy Brown-Park, all the spouses, daughters -- hey! -- sisters of the Auxiliary, and the Sons of the American Legion. And let me say that I join you in honoring the memory of a friend to many of you -- an Army veteran and a great Legionnaire from North Carolina, Jerry Hedrick. To Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan, Mayor Dan Clodfelter -- thank you for welcoming us to the great state of North Carolina and to Charlotte, and for your great support of our troops and our veterans.

Obama calls Islamic State a ‘cancer’ (Charlotte Observer) -- President Barack Obama pledged Tuesday to bring justice to the terrorists who killed an American journalist this month, even while promising to “not allow the United States to be dragged back into another ground war in Iraq.”

Obama not running away from vulnerable Senate Dems (The Hill) -- President Obama isn’t running away from vulnerable Democrats. Obama’s trip to North Carolina on Tuesday, where he embraced Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) on the tarmac of Charlotte’s airport, is just the latest example of Obama flying into a state where a Democratic senator is facing a tough reelection bid. Obama’s presence in states such as North Carolina, Louisiana and Colorado isn’t always a comfortable event for Democrats, especially with Republicans seeking to make the midterm elections all about the president. But the White House and Democrats shrug off suggestions that the trips cause that much harm to the party, and they say that while Obama isn’t making a point of going to places where the battle for the Senate will be fought, he’s not trying to avoid them either.

Hagan says leases ok’d for temporary VA centers in Fayetteville, Jacksonville (Raleigh News & Observer) -- With veterans in the spotlight on Tuesday at the American Legion convention in Charlotte, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan announced that leases have been approved for temporary Veterans Affairs medical centers in Fayetteville and Jacksonville. The Democratic senator from Greensboro spoke at the convention, as did North Carolina’s Republican senator, Richard Burr. Hagan wrote to President Barack Obama in July urging an end to bureaucratic delays over the leases for the temporary medical centers, which are needed to serve growing numbers of veterans.

Judge Lewis blasts McCrory's appointment of opponent (Port City Daily) -- N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory recently appointed Justice Mark Martin as Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court—a move Martin’s political opponent, Brunswick’s Ola Lewis, was not pleased to hear. Lewis, who serves as Brunswick County’s senior resident superior court judge, is running for Chief Justice along with Martin. But Martin’s appointment to the high court’s top is political maneuvering to ensure Martin, who previously was the court’s senior associate justice, wins the seat, Lewis contends. “This is nothing more than pure politics in an effort to give my opponent an advantage—the upper hand—in the race,” Lewis said.

Attorneys for state NAACP file appeal of ruling on N.C. voting law (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Attorneys for the state NAACP and others filed a motion Monday asking the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to overrule a federal judge’s decision to deny a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s new voting law for the Nov. 4 general election.

Farm Bill Has Become a Midterm Flash Point (Wall Street Journal) -- On the road to winning Iowa's Republican Senate primary, state senator Joni Ernst opposed the five-year farm bill passed by Congress. Now, her stance on the legislation has become the focus of attacks from her Democratic opponent in the general election, Rep. Bruce Braley. One of the few bipartisan measures passed by Congress this year, the farm bill recently has cropped up on the campaign trail as a partisan flash point. … In North Carolina, Senate GOP candidate Thom Tillis, speaker of the state House, would have opposed the legislation approved by Congress and "would have worked for a bill that would have done a better job at helping North Carolina farmers," his spokeswoman said. His opponent, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, voted for the measure.

North Carolina's Political and Economic Environment in 2014 (Gallup.Com) -- With a critical midterm U.S. Senate election approaching -- one that could help decide which party controls the upper chamber -- about as many North Carolinians lean or identify Democratic (42%) as they do Republican (41%). This effective draw between the two major parties demonstrates the extent to which political attitudes have shifted in North Carolina since 2008, when Democrats had a 10-percentage-point advantage over Republicans in party leanings (49% vs. 39%, respectively). That same year, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who is currently competing for re-election, was initially elected by roughly nine points amid a strong Democratic year, nationally.

Setting a negative tone (WRAL-TV) -- Data provided by the Kantar Media tracking service confirms the sense that the tone of the U.S. Senate campaign is overwhelmingly negative.

Fact Check: Did Tillis give tax breaks to yacht owners? (WRAL-TV) -- One of the most common digs Democratic-allied groups are taking at state House Speaker Thom Tillis in his U.S. Senate campaign involves a tax break on boats and planes. Tillis, a Republican, is running to unseat first-term Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. North Carolina's U.S. Senate campaign is already the subject of millions of dollars in television spending by non-candidate groups on both sides of the political divide. … Where this claim falls depends whether you take the view that failing to act against a loophole counts as endorsing that particular action, or whether the suggestion that Tillis "GAVE" a tax break misleads voters who might not know the particulars behind this tax. In order to make this call, your fact-checker put this question to six other seasoned journalists on the WRAL News team. … Democrats are trying to say Tillis, or at least the legislature that he led, did something that he did not do. This view holds that one cannot give a tax break that somebody already has had for more than 20 years. In other words, if this conversation were happening outside of a political context, it would clearly be wrong to say that Tillis or the General Assembly "gave" the tax break in 2013. Also lacking is any evidence that Tillis personally advocated one way or the other on this particular tax break.

Barack Obama isn’t on the ballot in 2014. But he pretty much is (Washington Post) -- Senate races are increasingly tied to the president’s popularity.

Ellmers hosts discussion about national mental health issues at Fayetteville Tech (Fayetteville Observer) -- Dozens of mental health providers and advocates from the region gathered at Fayetteville Technical Community College

Renee Ellmers lends support to bipartisan mental health bill (Raleigh News & Observer) -- U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican and author of a bill to revamp mental health, came to North Carolina on Tuesday, visiting a state suffering many of the ills his legislation is meant to remedy. Efforts in the state to improve crisis treatment have not yet reduced emergency room use.

Voters to decide if felony criminal defendants won’t get jury trials (WRAL-TV) -- A constitutional amendment on the November ballot would allow defendants charged with felonies to allow a judge, rather than a jury, to decide guilt or innocence. Those tried in federal and many other states' courts have a similar option.

After a year, DHHS still withholds requested public records (WRAL-TV) -- More than a year after WRAL News requested correspondence from the head of the state's massive and often troubled social services system, state health officials have still failed to produce a single record.

NC loses $10 million from airlines’ tax break, union report says (Charlotte Observer) -- A tax break on jet fuel costs North Carolina $10million in revenue every year, a union that represents thousands of airport workers said Tuesday as it kicked off a new push to end such tax breaks.

NC Supreme Court asked to release voucher funds (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Advocates of the North Carolina school voucher program did not wait for a judge to write his order declaring public taxpayer assistance for private schools unconstitutional before trying to halt the effects of his ruling. On Friday, they asked the N.C. Court of Appeals to issue an emergency ruling to allow disbursement of taxpayer funds to children whose families had accepted the so-called “Opportunity Scholarships” this year. A three-judge appeals court panel rejected that request on Monday, saying it was premature to offer such a ruling without a written order from Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood. Instead of waiting for that order, which is expected in a few days, attorneys representing legislative leaders Phil Berger and Thom Tillis and several families pushed ahead to the N.C. Supreme Court.

N.C. Teachers Are 'Easy Pickings' for Texas (Government Executive) -- Classes are starting this week in the Houston Intermediate School District, the largest school district in Texas and one of the largest in the nation. Among the new faces in classrooms are plenty of new teachers. This year, the school district, which has roughly 12,000 teaching positions with about 1,700 new teachers. Although three out of four new teachers come from within Texas, the rest come from outside the state, and 10 percent those out-of-staters are coming from North Carolina. In the Tar Heel State, teachers make $10,000 less than the national average, a fact that has made leaving the state for better pay an enticing proposition.

NC conservative activist quits $95K health job (AP) — A North Carolina anti-abortion activist and tea party organizer is quitting her $95,000-a-year job as a senior Medicaid adviser after a year.

DHHS Medicaid planner leaves highly paid job (Raleigh News & Observer) -- A woman NC health officials hired a year ago to work on Medicaid alternatives – a new position that paid $95,000 annually despite her thin resume – is resigning to spend more time with her family.

Wilmington, county leaders want McCrory to reconvene legislators (Wilmington Star-News) -- Local leaders plan to send a letter asking Gov. Pat McCrory to call legislators back to Raleigh to address the status of the film industry.

City, county to Gov. McCrory: ‘Reconvene the legislature’ to resolve film credit (Port City Daily) -- City of Wilmington and New Hanover County officials are formally asking Gov. Pat McCrory to reconvene the North Carolina General Assembly to resolve the issue

McCrory asked not to defend NC gay marriage ban (AP) — Same-sex couples and their families who want Gov. Pat McCrory to keep out of pending litigation challenging North Carolina's gay marriage ban are bringing names of their allies to his offices.

CASHING IN: Ex-GOP House Speaker Brubaker ranked top lobbyist (AP) — The top leader in the North Carolina House during the mid-1990s is now atop a nonpartisan group's list of the General Assembly's most influential lobbyists.

Brubaker Now State's Most Influential Lobbyist (WUNC-FM) -- The most influential lobbyist in North Carolina is former state House speaker Harold Brubaker, according to a report from the non-partisan North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research. Brubaker, a Republican who represented Randolph County for 18 terms, counts Alliance for Access to Dental Care, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and 21st Century Oncology among his current clients.

UNC probing report of alleged hazing incident (AP) — North Carolina is investigating a report of an alleged hazing altercation that left a walk-on receiver with a possible concussion.

UNC investigating hazing incident that left football player with concussion (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The University of North Carolina is investigating what it describes as “an incident” and what Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday reported was hazing among members of the football team that turned into an alleged assault.

Charges dismissed against NC man in child sex case (AP) — A North Carolina judge has dismissed all charges and overturned the sentence of a man who spent 22 years in prison after his conviction in a child sex abuse case.

NC judge agrees agent's firing should be upheld (AP) — The firing of a State Bureau of Investigation agent who was linked to dozens of misreported state crime lab results should be upheld because his supervisors acted appropriately and with just cause, an administrative law judge ruled Tuesday.

What's happening to Novozymes incentives? (Triangle Business Journal) -- Novozymes isn't racing against a clock, says Graham Wilson, spokesperson for the North Carolina Commerce Department. But there's a big catch.

Pitfalls Emerge in Obamacare Health Insurance Renewals (N.C. Health News) -- As people on the federal health insurance exchanges look to next year, it pays to shop around again.

After Ferguson, Asheville ‘Peace Rally’ scheduled for Aug. 30 (Carolina Public Press) -- About 100 people gathered on of Pack Square wearing red and protesting police brutality and racial injustice late Sunday evening in a precursor to a larger rally scheduled for Aug. 30.

A QUESTION OF CONTROL (Wilson Times) -- Some say the General Assembly is locked in a war against cities while others say that’s not the case at all.

Former Mayor Patrick Cannon could be sentenced as soon as next week (Charlotte Observer) -- Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon could be sentenced on a public corruption charge as early as next week, according to new documents in his case.

NCSU Students Working on Nail Polish that Detects Date Rape Drugs (TWCN-TV) -- A university official said the four students are still developing their idea and it might be months before it's completed. In the meantime, it's bringing a lot of attention to the issue of date rape.

UNC doubles tech licensing revenue to record $7.9M (WRAL-TV) -- Licensing technologies created at UNC Chapel Hill more than doubled the highest amount the university has ever received in single fiscal year, according to reports.

Does Where You Live Make a Difference in How and What You Write? (New York Times) -- Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Mohsin Hamid and Thomas Mallon discuss how where they’ve lived has affected their work. … To some degree, all literary terrain is the seacoast of Bohemia, a geography mixed from physical fact and imaginative distortion. Kafka never actually put a foot inside his Amerika, but for extended fictional enterprises set in a single place, the writer should probably be rooted. One wouldn’t take Booth Tarkington out of Indiana any more than one would remove Proust from Paris. In our own time, Allan Gurganus doesn’t just live in the same sort of North Carolina town he was born into and writes about; he makes it his business to keep sprucing up the old graveyard next to his house. His most recent book is “Local Souls,” a title that reminds us of the axiom, perhaps most often cited in the case of Joyce, that the really universal truths are always the most parochial. And yet, Joyce wrote the most local novel of all time not in Dublin but in Trieste and Zurich and Paris.

UNC provides app turning smartphones into safety devices (WRAL-TV) -- Students, faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now have access to a free app that turns smartphones into personal safety devices.

Raleigh-based crowdfunding startup eyes Atlanta (Triangle Business Journal) -- For entrepreneurs Sean Steigerwald and John Spinney, news that an equity crowdfunding measure had been killed in the North Carolina legislature stung.

Chapel Hill's Strata Solar to have 50 solar farms by end of 2014 (Triangle Business Journal) -- Chapel Hill-based Strata Solar brings a new solar farm online every 10 days, and at this rate, the solar photovoltaic company will have 50 farms up and running by the end of the year.

Germany's Gamble on Renewable Energy (Wall Street Journal) -- Many companies worry the cost of Germany's mammoth, trillion-euro plan to wean the country off nuclear and fossil fuels by midcentury will undermine the country's competitiveness.

Rallying for Hofmann Forest (Coastal Review) -- Two rallies -- one in Onslow County and the other in Raleigh -- were held Monday to protest N.C. State University's proposed sale of the Hofmann Forest.

5 things you need to know about Clean Energy 4 Raleigh (Triangle Business Journal) -- The program is ​opening up next week for sign-up. Here are five things to know about CE4R.

Coast's wild horse herd deserves protection (Winston-Salem Journal) -- As coastal wild horses live their untamed lives, they face challenges to their very existence. It’s time for our lawmakers to take action to preserve these natural wonders.

Justice, not efficiency, should be main concern in how cases are tried (Wilmington Star-News) -- Some legal experts note that some defendants may actually get a fairer shake with a judge.

Three-judge panels will stack the deck (Wilson Times) -- Our state legislature has had a difficult time passing some of its recent laws. Judges kicked them back, declaring them to be unconstitutional.

Coal Ash Cleanup Must Go Further (Southern Pines Pilot) -- As halfway measures go, the coal ash management plan approved a week ago by the N.C. General Assembly looks better than nothing — but only slightly better.

Don't take public education for granted (Raleigh News & Observer) -- In Wake County, the state's largest school system, some 156,000 and counting students were back in school this week. And in what is a remarkable feat of derring-do, most things worked smoothly.

Disparities challenge state leaders (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- For years, state leaders have tried to craft policies that address the “two North Carolinas” that exist here.

Voiding the Vouchers (Southern Pines Pilot) -- North Carolina does its children a disservice, Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood has ruled, when it allows them to be “sent with public, taxpayer money to private schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything.”

Helms-Hunt battle still epic after 30 years (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- The Senate race between Republican Sen. Jesse Helms and Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt was between the two major figures of North Carolina politics of recent decades. The 1984 election was expensive and nasty.

Bob Luddy: Ruling denies rights (Raleigh News & Observer column) -- Regarding the Aug. 22 news story “Judge blocks school vouchers”: Judge Robert Hobgood denies needy students the opportunity to attend the schools of their choice because private schools are not regulated and not mandated by the government as to what they must teach.


Luddy's piece

is a face saving opinion from a desperate person.

But he has to say it because

But he has to say it because it's this week's talking point. Vouchers. Needy. Socialism. Freedom.

The ultimate

right wing nirvana.

Class Warfare Academy

Luddy doesn't give two shits about economically disadvantaged students, he's just trying to keep this meme alive. Opportunity scholarships are nothing more than foot-in-the-door attempts to get vouchers into the mainstream education funding formula, and if he has to put up with some kids from the wrong side of the tracks for a few years to get his hands on all those taxpayer dollars, he's ready to hold his nose for a while.