Wednesday News: Judicial elections matter, part 7


3 REPUBLICAN COURT OF APPEALS JUDGES GO WHOLE HOG: The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that state government has the power to limit nuisance lawsuits against hog farms, rejecting an appeal from an environmental justice group in Duplin County. The nonprofit group REACH and several others sued in 2019 after the General Assembly passed a series of amendments placing stricter rules on when and why agricultural and forestry operations could face legal actions. A three-judge panel of lower-court judges dismissed the suit, and a three-judge appeals court panel upheld the dismissal. The unanimous decision came from judges John Tyson, Jefferson Griffin and Fred Gore. The amendments, the court ruled, are a valid exercise of state government powers. Take it to the Supreme Court. The last thing we need to do is give hog farmers the green light to spray shit on their (mostly Black) neighbors.

ROY AND MANDY WARN ABOUT POST-HOLIDAY OMICRON SURGE: Gov. Roy Cooper urged North Carolina residents to test for COVID-19 before holiday gatherings as state health officials warn the omicron variant could trigger as many as 10,000 COVID-19 cases a day in January, echoing a post-holiday surge seen earlier this year. Both Cooper and state health officials called a briefing Monday to warn that nearly every hospital in the state is fighting omicron cases. The state has recorded more than 10,000 cases in a day just a handful of times since the pandemic began in March 2020. Several of those came in early January. Dr. Mandy Cohen, outgoing Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said the omicron variant is moving quickly enough to become the dominant variant in the state by the first week of January. CDC officials said Monday omicron accounted for 73% of new infections last week, making it the dominant variant in the nation. I will probably stay home by myself, and listen to Christmas music. Just kidding, it's time for an 80's flashback, maybe even one-hit wonders.

THESE DURHAM LANDLORDS NEED A VISIT FROM CHRISTMAS GHOSTS: A group of Durham residents is pleading with their property owner to not kick them out of their homes. The residents — many of them disabled, elderly or raising small children — got a letter that gave them until the end of the year to leave their apartment complex on North Buchanan Boulevard. A sales contract shared with WRAL News includes a clause that requires Braswell Properties to give tenants notice that they must move by January as a condition of the sale of the property to Reformation Asset Management. But Braswell owner Varon Braswell says Reformation Asset Management owner Charles Bulthuis "jumped the gun" on the process in sending a letter to tenants on Nov. 29 giving them until Dec. 31 to vacate their homes. "He’s defamed my character and my father's and our company because we don’t do business like this," Braswell said. Then don't f**king sell to him. Find somebody else with an ounce of compassion.

WE'RE STILL IN A DROUGHT, POSTPONE YOUR BONFIRES (AND CAMPFIRES): The combination of an extended period of abnormally dry weather and above-normal temperatures has plunged much of North Carolina into drought, and projections for 2022 suggest conditions will not improve. “We had a very wet start to the year, dried out for most of spring, and then had some big events peppered throughout the summer,” State Climatologist Kathie Dello told The Fayetteville Observer. “But these past few months have been relentlessly dry.” In the latest drought map, a belt of “severe drought” extends from roughly Statesville through Charlotte and the Fayetteville area into northeastern North Carolina. The U.S. Drought Monitor says severe drought means water users should eliminate nonessential uses of water and prepare for possible mandatory water restrictions. Early projections tied to a La Nina weather system in the equatorial Pacific show it could continue into 2022. According to NASA, La Nina is expected to stick around until at least spring 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere.

KELLOGG'S STRIKE IS OVER, GO BACK TO EATING THAT STUFF: Unionized Kellogg’s workers in four states have approved a new five-year contract, bringing a swift end to one of the longest-running strikes of 2021. Employees in four states voted to accept a tentative agreement reached last week, according to company and union representatives. The five-year contract includes across-the-board wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments, as well as expanded health care and retirement benefits. It also provides a pathway for newer employees to reach the company’s coveted “legacy” wage and benefit status, partially addressing a concern that many workers had raised about a two-tiered workforce. Over the course of the 11-week strike, there had been multiple entreaties from policymakers to return to the bargaining table, as well as criticism from President Biden and other prominent lawmakers after Kellogg’s said it would find permanent replacements for the 1,400 cereal plant workers in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee who went on strike Oct. 5. Michigan State Rep. Jim Haadsma (D), a labor relations and workers’ compensation lawyer who has lived in Battle Creek since 1994, called the outcome a significant victory for the labor movement. “This shows the continued evolving muscularity of organized labor,” Haadsma said. “[Kellogg’s workers] held on and got a little bit more than what they were afforded in the contract two or three weeks ago.” You may be tempted to continue boycotting the company, but that will only hurt employees. And if they see sales increase after compromising with the Union, it might make future negotiations easier. Just saying.