Thursday News: Love wins, in the long run

RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL TO VOTE ON LGBTQ+ NON-DISCRIMINATION ORDINANCE: The Raleigh City Council will vote next week on expanding the city’s ordinances to ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Tuesday, the City Council discussed joining Wake County’s non-discrimination ordinance with all members agreeing to vote on a resolution Oct. 19. The resolution is not meant to create a new ordinance for the city, but to adopt the county’s ordinance presented Oct. 11. “This is the right thing to do,” said Jonathan Melton, an at-large city council member who is gay. “It is long overdue.” The ordinance would expand the city’s existing non-discrimination rules established in 1969, said Raleigh city attorney Robin Tatum. But under the county’s ordinance, these rules would now apply to private employers and public accommodations, like restaurants and retail stores. Bolding mine, because that rocks.

NEGLIGENCE AND LACK OF CONCERN KILL TWO PRISON INMATES IN MECKLENBURG COUNTY: A North Carolina jail violated regulations requiring guards to observe inmates at least twice an hour, according to a state agency probing the deaths of two inmates last spring. On May 22, John Devin Haley of Charlotte, 41, was found hanging below his cell window at the Mecklenburg County jail with a strip of blanket tied around his neck, The Charlotte Observer reported. Haley had a history of addiction and mental health problems when he entered the jail on April 3 and was temporarily placed on suicide watch, according to jail records. Karon Golightly of Gastonia died at the jail on May 14. Five months later, the cause of his death has not been made public, the newspaper reported. In North Carolina, jailers are required to observe each inmate “at least twice an hour on an irregular basis, with no more than 40 minutes between rounds,” according to state regulations. That standard was repeatedly violated in the hours leading up to the two deaths, according to investigators with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. There is no excuse for this, or legitimate explanations.

HERE'S WHY VOTING IN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS REALLY MATTERS: In a tie-vote election for town council in Tabor City in eastern North Carolina, the chair of the Columbus County Board of Elections flipped a gold coin and one candidate called heads – and won. A coin toss also broke ties for council seats in Sylva (Jackson Co.), Hildebran (Burke Co.), Kelford (Bertie Co.), and a second city in Columbus County, Sanderfield. The tied race for a town board seat in Creswell (Washington Co.) was decided by which candidate pulled the highest numbered piece of paper from a jar. For the tied race in Whitakers, the director of the Edgecombe County Board of Elections placed pieces of paper with the candidates’ names in a box and another person drew out of the winner. “Whatever way this turns out, I am OK with it,” said Doris Howington before the drawing. She won. Candidates for mayor in 2019 won by just one vote in Cape Carteret (Carteret Co.), High Shoals (Gaston Co.), Jefferson (Ashe Co.), Love Valley (Iredell Co.), and Teachey (Duplin Co.). The mayor in Atkinson (Pender Co.) won by two votes, i.e., if one of his supporter had picked the other candidate, the resulting tied election could have led to his defeat. Other cities with races decided by just one or two votes in 2019 include Aberdeen, Bakersville, Columbus, La Grange, Middlesex, Mount Gilead, Old Fort, and Pantego. Local elections matter more than you might think. Don't weigh the pros and cons of voting in local elections, just do it.

HOUSE JAN 6 COMMITTEE MAY SEEK CRIMINAL CHARGES FOR THOSE WHO IGNORE SUBPOENA: The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is planning to ramp up its efforts to force Trump administration officials to comply with its subpoenas as the former president attempts to stymie the inquiry. Lawmakers who sit on the panel said they are prepared to pursue criminal charges against witnesses like Stephen K. Bannon who have balked at cooperating. And the committee may issue a subpoena as early as Wednesday to Jeffrey Clark, a Trump Justice Department official who sought to deploy department resources to support former president Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voting fraud in the 2020 election. “We are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt and refer them to the Justice Department,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, said in an interview Tuesday. Tensions over compliance with subpoenas are increasing as the committee’s plan to hold depositions this week with Bannon and three other Trump administration officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to the acting defense secretary on Jan. 6 — is already facing head winds. Although lawmakers maintain that the deposition dates still stand for this week, it remains unclear whether they will happen. But talks between the committee and the former officials’ lawyers continue. You know what? If they drew a government paycheck, don't play footsie with them over this. Lock 'em up if they don't comply.

SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS ABOUT TO GET A BIG BOOST FROM UNCLE JOE: The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday that its beneficiaries will see a 5.9 percent increase in their benefit checks starting next year — the largest boost to benefits in close to four decades. The adjustment will be made for 64 million Social Security beneficiaries as well as 8 million Supplemental Security Income recipients. Some Americans receive both benefits. The cost-of-living increase, which will affect roughly 70 million people starting in late December and January, is tied to a measure of inflation that has surged this year as prices rise in a U.S. economy emerging from the pandemic. Experts caution that millions of seniors will in reality see substantially less than a 6 percent bump, because Medicare Part B premiums are deducted from Social Security beneficiaries’ checks and are tied to seniors’ income. The increase in benefits will amount to roughly an additional $92 per month for seniors. Prices have risen throughout the economy since the pandemic, diminishing the value of government benefits beyond Social Security. But while wages have climbed for workers along with inflation, people who do not work are often dependent on government programs to update their payments based on federal metrics that are sometimes out of step with price changes in the economy itself. The average monthly Social Security payments for retired workers will rise from $1,565 to $1,657 starting in January, according to the Social Security Administration. Workers with disabilities will see an average increase from $1,282 to $1,358 after the increase kicks in.