Daily dose: Sue 'em

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Unaffiliated voters shouldn't be banned from helping N.C. elections
EDITOR'S NOTE: Seth Effron is Capitol Broadcasting Company's opinion editor.

In the United States and particularly in North Carolina – a state where I live and a place I love – every citizen should be able to fully participate in our democracy. No one, regardless of political affiliation or more significantly -- lack thereof – should be denied that opportunity.

But today, the greatest portion of voters in North Carolina are denied by law from fully participating in the state’s elections. State law prevents anyone who isn’t a Democrat or Republican from serving on the State Board of Elections. Does anyone think that is right? They shouldn’t. It is time for this discrimination to end.

Forty years ago there were nearly 2.7 million people registered to vote in North Carolina – 72% were Democrats, 24% were Republicans. Today there are more than 7.3 million voters in the state: 34% are Democrats; 30% Republicans; and the largest portion -- 35% -- are unaffiliated.

North Carolina has changed. It is plain wrong that the biggest portion of voters in the state – regardless of who they might vote for – are denied the opportunity to participate in the administration of our elections.

This institutional prohibition keeps some voters, who would add an important perspective and offer the members of the board a chance to be viewed as more than a tool of partisan affiliates, from being able to fully engage in the election process.

It has been a problem for a long time that has now grown intolerable. I no longer feel that I can just be a bystander to a great injustice. That is why I joined as a plaintiff (in Common Cause v. Moore) to force North Carolina to open participation in the administration of our elections to EVERY voter – regardless of their political affiliation or even lack thereof.

This isn’t about weakening or strengthening any political party. It is not about helping Republicans, hurting Democrats or vice-versa.

In decision after decision, regardless of which political party might be in the majority or minority on the State Board of Elections, the votes of the members are often perceived as being what is best for the political party they’re affiliated with rather than what is best for the voters of North Carolina.

Not being in a political party doesn’t mean anyone has any less stake in the way elections are run.

There comes a time to stand up and act so that EVERY citizen has the opportunity to FULLY participate.

I joined the lawsuit challenging a state law to end an institution that silences the voices of 2.6 million voters. All citizens deserve the opportunity to fully participate in the electoral process – and that includes the oversight and administration of elections.

Neither the WRAL-TV newsroom nor the State Board of Elections had any role in this commentary nor my involvement in this lawsuit.

I do it proudly and openly. This is not to further any partisan cause, candidate or ideology. It is simply to enable as many as possible to participate as they desire in our great democracy.

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 -- A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis.
For questions about the status of the round up of opinion, commentary and analysis please contact seffron@capitolbroadcasting.com

Superintendent Truitt gives lawmakers dramatic but flawed data on early reading gains (WFAE-FM) -- N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt presented a slide that purported to show dramatic increases in end-of-year reading scores for kindergarteners and first-graders between 2019 and 2022. According to her chart, North Carolina’s kindergarteners went from 27% proficient at the end of the 2018-19 school year to 67% proficient at the end of last year. Nationwide, the proficiency rate rose from 36% to 60%, she said. First-grade results were similar, if less dramatic. This incorrect chart was presented to a House panel, and only corrected afterward when WFAE asked questions. Neither Truitt nor the chart cited the source of the numbers. K-2 students don’t take state reading exams. The state contracts with Amplify, a national curriculum and testing company, to provide assessments for those students. No explanation was given for why there would have been such a dramatic jump in proficiency between the kindergarteners who finished their school year in 2019 and those who finished in 2022. Nor did legislators ask.

Newspaper: Families of Haley, Clyburn got casino shares (AP) -- The husband of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and brother of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn were given shares of a company that leased slot machines to a North Carolina tribal casino that needed political help to open last year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Henderson County selects top legislative goals for the General Assembly (Hendersonville Times-News) -- Legislative goals related to education and mental health services were approved Monday by the Henderson County Board of Commissioners to be submitted to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. The NCACC is soliciting input and proposals from all counties in the state, inviting all 100 to submit their legislative proposals to the association. Every two years, in the months preceding the long session of the North Carolina General Assembly, the NCACC begins a grassroots process to develop the association’s legislative goals, which guides its advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels of government.

N.C. unaffiliated voters sue over elections board appointment requirements (WRAL-TV) -- The voters say people who aren't registered as a Democrat or Republican should not be prohibited from serving on the state board that administers elections in the state.

Lawsuit seeks more influence for unaffiliated voters, who outnumber Democrats and the GOP (N.C. McClatchy) -- Unaffiliated voters are the biggest political group in North Carolina, outnumbering both registered Democrats and registered Republicans. They passed that threshold earlier this year. Now, a lawsuit on behalf of unaffiliated voters is seeking more influence for them, by forcing the state to let unaffiliated North Carolinians sit on the N.C. State Board of Elections. That board sets the rules for elections, hears complaints about local election officials and is in charge of investigating allegations of voter fraud, campaign finance misdeeds or other electoral skullduggery.

Vote Is the First on Abortion Since the Supreme Court Ruling (New York Times) -- In a backlash to the decision to overturn Roe, voters in Kansas rejected an amendment that would have paved the way for new abortion restrictions. The decisive margin — 59 to 41 percent, with about 95 percent of the votes counted so far — came as a surprise, after fierce campaigning on both sides.

Kansans resoundingly reject amendment aimed at restricting abortion rights (Washington Post) -- The constitutional amendment would have enabled the state legislature to restrict abortion rights. The vote was the first political test of the issue’s resonance since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

How abortion rights supporters won in conservative Kansas (New York Times) -- Supporters of abortion rights won a huge and surprising victory on Tuesday in one of the most conservative states in the country, with Kansas voters resoundingly rejecting a constitutional amendment that would have let state legislators ban or significantly restrict abortion. Results were still coming in as the night wore on, but with more than 90 percent of ballots counted, the pro-abortion-rights side was ahead by about 18 percentage points, a staggering margin in a state that voted for President Donald J. Trump in 2020 by a margin of just under 15 percentage points. Here is a look at what happened.

Kansas Votes to Protect Abortion Rights in State Constitution (Wall Street Journal) -- Kansans voted to uphold state abortion protections in the first statewide referendum on the issue since the Supreme Court.

Election Victories by Trump Allies Showcase His Grip on the G.O.P. Base (New York Times) -- Primary wins in Arizona and Michigan for candidates backed by former President Trump reaffirmed his continued influence over the party.

Several election deniers backed by Trump prevail in hotly contested primaries (Washington Post) -- The results came amid a nationwide battle over the future of the GOP that raged in primaries across five states.

RNC links up with ‘Stop the Steal’ advocates to train poll workers (Politico) -- The Republican National Committee has been relying on a stable of the party’s most prolific spreaders of false stolen-election theories to pilot a sweeping “election integrity” operation to recruit and coach thousands of poll workers in eight battleground states, according to new recordings of organizing summits held this spring in Florida and Pennsylvania. On the tapes, RNC National Election Integrity Director Josh Findlay repeatedly characterizes the committee’s role as supporting in-state coalitions — delivering staff, organization and “muscle” in key states to the person they identify as the quarterback of the effort to create a permanent workforce: Conservative elections attorney Cleta Mitchell, who was a central figure in former President Donald Trump’s legal strategy to overturn the 2020 election.

Davis, Dems call Smith ‘too extreme’ for Congress (Wilson Times) -- Congressional candidate Don Davis branded opponent Sandy Smith “too extreme” to represent eastern North Carolina, part of a nationwide Democratic Party effort to cast Republican rivals as radical conservatives unable to govern from the center. The North Carolina Democratic Party kicked off its statewide “Too Extreme GOP” tour with a Thursday press conference in Greenville,

What leaked audio tells us about Trump-linked "election integrity" efforts (NPR) -- A prominent conservative attorney, who worked with former President Donald Trump on efforts to overturn the 2020 election, has been leading "Election Integrity" summits in swing states across the country, raising concerns about how false claims about a "stolen" election may affect future contests. Leaked audio from those summits, which has been shared with NPR and other news outlets, provides an inside view of those efforts, which have been backed by key figures from Trump's orbit and funding from Trump's political operation. Officials from the Republican National Committee have also attended these events. The attorney and guiding force behind these summits is named Cleta Mitchell. She has come under intense scrutiny ever since she took part in a Jan. 2, 2021 call to Georgia election officials, in which Trump pressured those officials to reverse the outcome. "I only need 11,000 votes - fellas, I need 11,000 votes," Trump said on the call. "Give me a break. You know we have that in spades already."

Dan Blue to Phil Berger: We can disagree on policies, but not on the facts of Jan. 6. (Charlotte Observer column) -- Some staunch Republicans have dismissed the Jan. 6 hearings as “fake news.” To do this is to discredit the courage of the Republican staffers and appointees whose loyalties have proven to be to their country, not to Donald Trump. These witnesses who have testified during the Jan. 6 hearings deserve credit for standing on their morals as Americans first, and Republicans second. Throughout the hearings, we saw how close rioters came to successfully overthrowing the election. And how shockingly close they came (within 40 feet) to taking Mike Pence to the gallows erected at the Capitol. In a July 7 WRAL interview, N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger dismissed accounts of the insurrection given at the hearings as “fictional readings” and “exaggerations” — a strong opinion considering he also said he hasn’t watched the hearings.

Court: Top NC health official can be sued for COVID shutdown (AP) -- The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Gov. Roy Cooper’s secretary of health and human services should not be immune from a lawsuit over the administration’s restrictions on large gatherings in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

NC court says Ace Speedway lawsuit over ordered COVID shutdown can go forward (TV) -- A unanimous, all-Republican, panel of NC Court of Appeals judges says an Alamance County racetrack's lawsuit against the state's top health official can move forward.

Burr, not Tillis, helps pass bill for veterans exposed to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water (N.C. McClatchy) – Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr made an eleventh hour change and helped pass a bill that aids veterans exposed to toxic chemicals at Camp Lejeune. Sen. Thom Tillis, the other North Carolina Republican, did not. In an 86-11 vote the Senate passed the PACT Act to provide health care to veterans exposed to toxic substances while serving without forcing them to prove exposure before receiving care. It was combined with another bill that gave veterans exposed to toxic water on Camp Lejeune the ability to sue the federal government.

ROBIN GIVHAN: They stood on the grass, pleading. They found victory. But respect? (Washington Post column) -- The activists ultimately got what they came for, but having to plead for it was a reminder of the disrespect that lawmakers so often have for the people who employ them. … The Senate had passed the PACT Act back in June with an 84-14 vote, but it had been changed somewhat in the House; so last week the Senate had to vote again, and the second time around the dizzying carousel that is the legislature, the vote was 55-42. This might still seem like a win for veterans, but basic math isn’t so basic in the Senate because of the filibuster, which requires 60 votes before a bill can turn into a law. The legislation stalled and these determined citizens from North Carolina, Virginia and New York were sweating it out on the grass trying to get senators to give veterans something more tangible than a mere “thanks” for their service.

Appalled by state laws, NCSU grad saves hundreds of neglected stray dogs and cats (WRAL-TV) -- In one year, Kathalene Murphy has saved 400 dogs and cats after founding Rusty's Rescue Ranch with her college roommates. She will save hundreds more, but to her, it will never be enough. The 22-year-old graduated from North Carolina State University and works full-time as a biochemist, but she has dedicated her life to saving animals. … Murphy said North Carolina ranks No. 3 for pet shelter deaths, behind Texas and California, which are partially at the top of the list due to their size. Breeding restrictions and an emphasis on spay and neuter programs would help, but little is being done. N.C. is one of few states in the country that has no oversight of so-called "puppy mills." It's also been the location of many large puppy mill busts.

Less serious 911 calls put on standby due to Durham EMS staffing shortages (WRAL-TV) -- Less serious 911 calls in Durham are being put on standby, as Emergency Medical Services deals with a higher call volume and short staffing.

'Good, bad and ugly:' New plan for the historic Market House in Fayetteville (WRAL-TV) -- A diverse group about 500 people from across the city spent countless volunteer hours coming up with the plan, which includes artwork in and outside the building. It also includes a change to the plague that acknowledges enslaved people were sold here.

‘Come on up.’ NC governor invites Music Midtown Festival after it’s nixed in Atlanta (N.C. McClatchy) -- Gov. Roy Cooper has offered to host a long-running music festival after it was canceled in Atlanta. On Monday, organizers with Music Midtown, which has been a go-to for music lovers since 1994, called off the event for unspecified reasons. The festival was scheduled for Sept. 17-18 with headliners My Chemical Romance, Future, Jack White and Fall Out Boy. Cooper shared an article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on his Facebook page on Tuesday inviting the festival to North Carolina. “We’re ready to welcome you to one of our amazing outdoor spaces to help you host a fun and safe festival,” the Governor wrote.

Court papers offer new details in battle over political ad that Forsyth County DA Jim O'Neill claims is false (Winston-Salem Journal) -- In court papers filed this week, the legal battle over a campaign ad that Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill said defamed him boils down to whether these nine words are false or not: ‘O’Neill left 1,500 rape kits sitting on a shelf.’ On Monday, an attorney representing Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, filed court papers asserting that the ad was false and that there is enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein and others responsible for producing the disputed ad in 2020, when O’Neill faced off against Stein for Attorney General. Stein, the Democratic incumbent, won the election, but O’Neill filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections, which turned over its findings to Freeman’s office for possible criminal prosecution.

Former GOP spokesman Pat Ryan: So which is it AG Stein? Is misinformation a threat or not? (N.C. McClatchy column) -- Hypocrisy corrodes trust. It slowly rusts institutional foundations until, eventually, they break. There’s short-term gain to be had by operating in this way, but the long-term consequences are severe — and certain.

N&O hires reporter Luciana Perez Uribe Guinassi to cover state politics in NC (N.C. McClatchy) -- Continuing its long-standing dedication to state government coverage, The News & Observer has filled several jobs on its politics team in 2022. The latest journalist to join the team is making a return to Raleigh. Luciana Perez Uribe Guinassi, who is originally from Peru, graduated from N.C. State University before going on to journalism school at the University of Maryland College Park and a fellowship in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, as a Roy W. Howard fellow at the nonprofit investigative news organization Searchlight New Mexico, Perez Uribe wrote about housing, state programs and migrant population rights. … Earlier this year, The N&O hired Avi Bajpai, previously a breaking news reporter at the newspaper. The N&O and Herald-Sun team has one other new member. NC Insider editor Lars Dolder started in that role in June after working as a business reporter covering retail, technology and real estate.

Superintendent Truitt gives lawmakers dramatic but flawed data on early reading gains (WFAE-FM) -- N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt presented a slide that purported to show dramatic increases in end-of-year reading scores for kindergarteners and first-graders between 2019 and 2022. According to her chart, North Carolina’s kindergarteners went from 27% proficient at the end of the 2018-19 school year to 67% proficient at the end of last year. Nationwide, the proficiency rate rose from 36% to 60%, she said. First-grade results were similar, if less dramatic. This incorrect chart was presented to a House panel, and only corrected afterward when WFAE asked questions. Neither Truitt nor the chart cited the source of the numbers. K-2 students don’t take state reading exams. The state contracts with Amplify, a national curriculum and testing company, to provide assessments for those students. No explanation was given for why there would have been such a dramatic jump in proficiency between the kindergarteners who finished their school year in 2019 and those who finished in 2022. Nor did legislators ask.

College Affirmative Action Policies Backed by Major Companies (Wall Street Journal) -- Apple, General Motors and Lyft are among those urging the Supreme Court to affirm the practice.

Charter schools keep expanding in North Carolina (Axios Charlotte) -- A new school year is around the corner, and this year marks the 25th anniversary of North Carolina's first charter schools. Charter schools continue to expand across the state, with 207 statewide heading into the upcoming school year. Mecklenburg County accounts for 34 of them. Traditional public school enrollment dropped during the pandemic, while charter school enrollment saw an increase during that time. Charter schools have become increasingly polarizing in North Carolina. Critics argue they aren’t fulfilling their original purpose as innovation hubs and that they undercut public education for all. But proponents say they provide more options for parents beyond the traditional public school setting.

Know which vaccines are required for back-to-school (WRAL-TV) -- The state health department is encouraging families to make sure their students are vaccinated before they return to school in late August.

Durham Public Schools needs to fill hundreds of vacancies by end of August (WRAL-TV) -- The first day of school for most traditional calendar students in our area is Aug. 29, and school leaders in Durham are scrambling to add hundreds of people to the payroll.

Training drill hones officers' skills (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Rocky Mount Academy student Mary Kimbrell Livermon on Tuesday morning experienced a simulation of something she hopes she never has to face in real life: A shooting on a school campus.

Pitt County Schools to join lawsuit against e-cigarette company (Greenville Daily Record) -- Pitt County Schools will join districts across the country in a lawsuit against an electronic cigarette manufacturer due to what is being called a vaping epidemic in schools.

Wake ends school COVID-19 testing, isolation room requirements (WRAL-TV) -- School board members debated how to accommodate students with compromised immune systems, following their first presentation on COVID-19 protocols since the spring.

State pension fund may need an overhaul, state treasurer says (TV) -- State treasurer Dale Folwell says North Carolina is in good financial shape to weather a recession. But bigger problems could lie ahead, especially for the state’s $100 billion pension plan. Folwell says the state pension fund lost about 7% of its value over the past fiscal year. That might sound like bad news, but he says comparatively speaking, it’s "outstanding." The Standard and Poor's 500 stock index lost about 11.9 percent during the 12 months ending June 30. "We don't like being down 7%, but we like it better than [the performance of the S&P 500]," he said.

NC economist explains when we’ll know the recession is here and how long it will last (Charlotte Observer) -- North Carolina economists last week said they’re increasingly concerned about an impending recession. The dreaded term is enough to send a shiver down the average American’s spine. For many Americans, an upcoming economic downturn would be the first major recession they’ve experienced as an adult. So, what is a recession?

N.C. scores over 300 jobs as homebuilder, logistics firm expand (Triangle Business Journal) -- Two projects totaling more than 330 jobs combined were pushed into the win column Tuesday for North Carolina, the latest headline in what's already a record year for economic development in the state. The new wins include a home construction company out of Virginia and a logistics company based in Georgia. So far this year, 32 job-creating projects – equating to more than 16,400 jobs and more than $5.7 billion in investment – have been approved for state incentives. Project Dogwood, identified as NVR, the Reston, Virginia-based parent company of Ryan Homes, is creating 261 jobs in North Carolina. The firm, already with over 500 workers in North Carolina, is investing in two sites – Cumberland and Cleveland counties. And in Cumberland County, which includes Fayetteville, it will be a completely new manufacturing facility, according to state officials. NVR’s investment, disclosed Tuesday during a meeting of the state's Economic Investment Committee, is tied to its manufacturing arm, which sells home-building construction materials such as roof trusses and wall panels.

Large health system partnerships can’t always save a struggling rural hospital (N.C. Health News) -- Conventional wisdom says ownership by a big health care system saves rural hospitals from closing. A new national study complicates that theory.

Board chose the wrong company to buy Mission, former CFO says (Asheville Watchdog) -- Mission Health's board of directors allowed only two companies to make formal offers for Asheville's flagship nonprofit hospital system. Nonprofit Novant Health's offer was at least equal to, and in some ways superior to, the $1.5 billion bid from profit-motivated HCA Healthcare, Mission's longtime chief financial officer said in an extraordinary letter. Charles Ayscue, Mission's CFO from 2007 to 2018, now works for Novant. In a letter opposing HCA's expansion in Buncombe County, Ayscue becomes the first former top Mission executive to break the shell of silence surrounding the 2018 deal. In his telling, it's worse than we thought. And it's not the only bombshell in Asheville Watchdog's latest story about the unexpected sale of a mostly beloved and respected local institution to a giant out-of-state corporation — one that's now being sued throughout the region for price gouging and anticompetitive behavior.

Court: Top NC health official can be sued for COVID shutdown (AP) -- The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Gov. Roy Cooper’s secretary of health and human services should not be immune from a lawsuit over the administration’s restrictions on large gatherings in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

MOSTLY FALSE: Would Democratic bill permit abortion 'up until delivery?' (PolitiFact/WRAL-TV) -- Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, told her constituents in a mid-July newsletter about speaking during House debate in opposition to the Women's Health Protection Act of 2022.

More people dying, more money coming to fight opioid epidemic in NC (N.C. McClatchy) -- North Carolina could receive additional millions of dollars to help people struggling with opioid addiction under recently announced, proposed settlements with two opioid manufacturers. The settlements, which are being negotiated by the offices of Attorney General Josh Stein and a group of bipartisan attorneys general, would require pharmaceutical companies Allergan and Teva to pay up to $6.6 billion to more than a dozen states across the country that sued the opioid makers for their roles in the nationwide opioid epidemic. Overdose deaths have increased sharply in recent years, with state data recording more than 3,300 people dying from drug overdoses in 2020 — up 40% over the previous year. The total number of deaths in 2020 means that on average, nine North Carolinians died from an overdose each day that year.

Attorney general briefed on Wilson Medical Center concerns (Wilson Times) -- Attorney Will Farris told county commissioners Monday that he and two Healthcare Foundation of Wilson members met with N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein last month. Farris made the trip to Raleigh to express concerns about patient care and quality control at Wilson Medical Center,

Duke research center to study long COVID, lingering symptoms (WRAL-TV) -- People who have more severe symptoms are more likely to develop long COVID, and getting vaccines and boosters can help reduce the chance of serious or persisting symptoms.

Know which vaccines are required for back-to-school (WRAL-TV) -- The state health department is encouraging families to make sure their students are vaccinated before they return to school in late August.

White House Retrofits Infrastructure Bill to Better Help N.C. Poor Communities (New York Times) -- The Biden administration is starting a new initiative this week to ensure that the poorest communities in the United States have access to billions of dollars in funding from the infrastructure bill to replace their crumbling wastewater, drinking water and storm water systems. … The administration will target its assistance to communities in seven states: Duplin and Halifax Counties in North Carolina; Lowndes and Greene Counties in Alabama; Bolivar County in Mississippi; Doña Ana County and Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico; Harlan County in Kentucky; McDowell and Raleigh Counties in West Virginia; and the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona.

Wrightsville Beach renourishment project uncovers hundreds of thousands of tires in the ocean (WRAL-TV) -- The shrinking shoreline at Wrightsville Beach is in desperate need of sand. “We can't get our ocean rescue vehicles from point A to point B in some places, because there's just not enough beach,” Mayor Darryl Mills said. Rebuilding that usually happens every three years is behind schedule. Officials said they have faced numerous challenges since the beach was last filled with fresh sand in 2018. Wrightsville Beach has sourced its sand from nearby Masonboro Inlet since the 1960s, but a new interpretation of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, dictates that no federal dollars can be used to move sand from a CBRA-protected zone (Masonboro Inlet) to a non-CBRA zone (Wrightsville Beach). Wrightsville Beach's renourishment is 100% federally-funded, according to local records.

New solar park planned for Misenheimer (Salisbury Post) -- A new solar project is coming to Misenheimer that will help put Stanly County on the map as a major hub for renewable energy. The Misenheimer Solar Park will be on 500 acres of private land about a half mile west of Pfeiffer University. It will feature approximately 200,000 panels, according to officials with EDP Renewables, a Houston-based company that is developing the park. The company operates 58 wind farms and eight solar parks across 17 states and parts of Canada and Mexico, which produce more than 8,000 megawatts (MW) of onshore utility-scale renewable energy, according to its website.

Gregory Poole gifts more than $1M to Dix Park renovation efforts (WRAL-TV) -- The Dix Parks Conservancy announced a $1 million gift Tuesday from the Gregory Poole Equipment Co. to support the transformation of the park. The company now joins 21 other major donors named Founding Members of the 308-acre park in Raleigh. The conservancy plans to announce all of them in the coming weeks, said Christy Smith, a Dix Park Conservancy spokesperson. The Poole family is a longtime contributor to the project. Conservancy CEO Janet Cowell called Greg Poole Jr. a “tireless advocate and catalyst for the park’s creation.”

Buncombe County neighbors file complaint with EPA over Duke Energy chemical concerns (WLOS) — Several residents in one Buncombe County neighborhood have filed complaints with the Environmental Protection Agency after they said Duke Energy sprayed harmful chemicals near their homes. According to one neighbor, the EPA’s report has not been finalized.

GUC launching new energy savings program (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Greenville Utilities is partnering with the smart thermostat company ecobee to launch a program aimed at reducing energy consumption.

Buncombe County votes to support changing 'Clingmans Dome' name to Cherokee 'Kuwohi' (Asheville Citizen-Times) – Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to support chaninging Clingmans Dome’s name to “Kuwohi.”

What do Dominion, MountainTrue, West Asheville farmer have in common? Saving Hominy Creek (Asheville Citizen-Times) – Dominion Energy, Mountain True and a West Asheville farmer are collaborating to try to save portions of Hominy Creek’s quickly eroding banks.

Eli N. Evans, Who Wrote About Jews in the American South, Dies at 85 (New York Times) -- Eli N. Evans, a courtly Carolina Tarheel who rose to the upper ranks of the New York philanthropic world, but who left his biggest mark as the author of three books exploring the culture and history of Jews in the American South, including his own family, died July 26 in New York City’s Manhattan borough. He was 85. The death, in a hospital, was confirmed by his son and sole survivor, Joshua Evans, who said the cause was complications of COVID-19. With a law degree from Yale and a stint as a White House speechwriter, Eli Evans was part of a cohort of erudite Southern expatriates who landed on Manhattan’s literary scene in the 1950s and ’60s — many of whom, including Willie Morris, the Mississippi-born editor of Harper’s Magazine, became good friends of his. Like them, Evans, who worked at the Carnegie Corp. before becoming president of the philanthropic Charles H. Revson Foundation, interwove his cosmopolitan worldview with his Southern roots. He could move easily among diplomats and tycoons, but he also loved playing the banjo and unwinding tales about growing up among the tobacco fields around Durham, North Carolina.

$25K Amazon donation supports Frying Pan Tower’s pursuit to preserve, educate (Wilmington Port City Daily) -- An American landmark off the coast of Brunswick County is gaining attention and a donation from a worldwide e-commerce company. Amazon recently put $25,000 toward the preservation efforts of the 58-year-old Frying Pan Tower. Once a lightship for the Coast Guard, today it provides an outlet for education, research and daring entertainment. Tower owner Richard Neal hopes to raise $1.5 million to continue his mission. Primarily, the wind-and-solar-powered tower is used for ecological and environmental exploration in offshore wind, marine-life and university research, as well as a weather resource for mariners.

NC Connection Survey: The linchpin of the project. Here’s how to take it (Carolina Public Press) -- Executive Director’s note: This week, we’re taking you behind the scenes of a special Carolina Public Press project, NC Connection: Closing the News Gap. We’ve launched an expansive, data-driven research project to determine what the news gaps are in rural communities where high-speed internet is currently expensive, inaccessible or simply not available.



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Seth puts a lot of work into this every day, and you won't find a more relevant collection of NC-specific articles anywhere else. He's also a brilliant editorial writer, the kind where you catch yourself nodding in agreement while you're reading. And it's more than just parroting/rehashing what other sources are saying, he analyzes these things before typing the first word.

I know the idea of getting daily e-mails is like being forced to eat scrapple (if you like scrapple, picture something you don't like, but please don't tell me you like scrapple, because I'm barely holding back a dry heave as it is). But this is one e-mail that will keep you informed.