Daily dose

Tuesday News: Bringing justice to the justice system

BAIL BOND REFORM MAY BE ON THE HORIZON IN NC: Members of the North Carolina Courts Commission are gathering information about the need for changes to the state's pretrial release laws. The state is one of several weighing reforms of the cash bail system. "Those folks can often spend more time incarcerated pre-trial than they could ever get if they were convicted," Smith said. Advocates from several criminal justice reform groups attended the meeting, including Southerners on New Ground. Kyla Hartsfield, an organizer with that group, said they recently bailed out nine people, including single mothers and family breadwinners, who were in jail solely because they couldn't afford to make bail. Hartsfield said the consequences of pre-trial incarceration can be disastrous, regardless of the accused's innocent or guilt. "Lose your job, possibly lose your kids, lose your home," Hartsfield said. "What could I lose in a month? I could lose everything I have."
https://www.wral.com/state-weighs-changes-to-bail-system-to-reduce-burden-on-the-poor/18007860/

Monday News: Arrested development

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RALEIGH'S PLANNING COMMISSION AND CITY COUNCIL AT ODDS OVER GRANNY FLATS: Some members of the city’s planning board say the Raleigh City Council is ramming through rules for backyard cottages and granny flats that are so “overly complex” few people will ever build them. Several Planning Commission members feel their hands were tied after the council instructed them not to consider alternatives to proposed rules for accessory dwelling units, also known as backyard cottages and granny flats. The advisory commission debated the proposed rules last week before deciding to send them to a committee for more discussion. At least one planning commissioner was prepared to vote for the recommendations though he acknowledged he might be the only one. “I think a site-specific rezoning would be preferable, but we’re not at the beginning [of the discussion],” Planning Commissioner Bob Geary said, noting the more than five years the city has already spent on the issue. “We are well along, and the proposal sent to us by City Council is the one they intend to adopt. I think.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article221645025.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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RED STATES ARE EXPANDING MEDICAID, WHY NOT NC?: North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders have some explaining to do regarding Medicaid expansion. They keep saying the state can’t afford it, but others states keep deciding they can. In the midterm elections, voters in three more states — three red states that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump — approved ballot initiatives committing their states to expanding the government health insurance program for low-income people. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Johnathan Schleifer, executive director of the Fairness Project, a group that backed the initiatives, said, “Medicare expansion ballots represent a tectonic shift in health care across the county. The Republican Party has staked its political future on bashing the ACA for the better part of a decade and voters in some of the reddest states rejected that.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article221744320.html

Saturday News: Freedom to harass

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MEADOWS FINED AND REPRIMANDED OVER CODDLING SEXUAL HARASSER: Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from western North Carolina, must repay the government more than $40,000 after the House Ethics Committee found that Meadows didn’t do enough to address or prevent harassment by his former chief of staff. Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, also received a reprimand from the committee, which began an investigation in 2016 after getting a referral from the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. “Meadows’ failure to take prompt and decisive action to deal with the alleged sexual harassment in his congressional office was troubling,” the committee wrote in its report released Friday afternoon.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article221776670.html

Friday News: Sore loser

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BRAWLEY WANTS RECOUNT AFTER RACHEL HUNT'S LEAD INCREASES: Democrat Rachel Hunt declared victory Thursday night after she extended her narrow lead over Republican Rep. Bill Brawley, bringing Mecklenburg County’s last undecided legislative race closer to an apparent end. A count of provisional ballots gave Hunt an unofficial lead of 68 votes in House District 103. While the county elections board will meet Friday to certify the results, Brawley already has asked for a recount, according to Elections Director Michel Dickerson. Hunt gained a net three votes Thursday night after election officials counted provisional ballots and overseas absentee ballots. Brawley led by 52 votes on election night but Hunt jumped to the lead when absentee ballots were counted last week.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/election/article221646875.html

Thursday News: Performance art

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REPUBLICANS HOLD KANGAROO COURT OVER COOPER'S PIPELINE MITIGATION FUND: State legislators will hire an investigator to review Gov. Roy Cooper administration's handling of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline amid Republican suggestions that the governor may have extorted Duke Energy for millions over a key project permit. The decision came at the end of the second legislative committee meeting in a row on the controversy during which Republican lawmakers essentially asked rhetorical questions from a lectern. No one from the administration was there to answer. The Governor's Office said Republicans "staged another bizarre kangaroo court to score political points." Cooper has repeatedly denied the pay-to-play accusations, which Republican leaders present not as fact, but as open questions that the administration won't answer to their satisfaction.
https://www.wral.com/legislature-putting-investigator-onto-cooper-administration-over-atlantic-coast...

Wednesday News: Packed and cracked

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LAWSUIT FILED TO REDRAW NC'S GERRYMANDERED LEGISLATIVE MAPS: Common Cause and the North Carolina Democratic Party are suing for state House and Senate districts to be redrawn for the 2020 election, claiming the districts are partisan gerrymanders that violate the state constitution. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday morning in Wake County Superior Court against state legislative leaders and the state elections board. It will likely eventually be heard in the state Supreme Court. With the election of Anita Earls last week, Democrats will hold a 5-2 advantage on the state’s highest court. “North Carolina’s state legislative maps are among the worst partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina’s history, and indeed, in American history,” said Stanton Jones, a lawyer with the Washington, D.C., law firm Arnold & Porter.
https://www.newsobserver.com/article221551975.html

Tuesday News: Here come the bulldozers

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DESPITE PENDING LAWSUITS, ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION UNDERWAY: Land is being cleared in Cumberland County for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but opponents still hope to stop the project. Bridget Munger, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Quality, said company officials received a stormwater permit for the contractor’s yard in Cumberland County last month. “They have received the required environmental permits and approvals to proceed with work on the project,” she said. Aaron Ruby, a spokesman for Dominion Energy, said the company building the pipeline also has gotten the needed federal permits. “We’re moving full steam ahead,” he said. Mac Legerton, a Robeson County minister who opposes the pipeline, said two lawsuits — one each in federal court and state court — are challenging the project. “This situation is long from over,” he said.
https://www.fayobserver.com/news/20181112/workers-make-way-for-atlantic-coast-pipeline

Monday News: Give it up already

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PLANE WILL FLY OVER CHAPEL HILL WITH BANNER READING "RESTORE SILENT SAM": For the second time this month, a plane with a Confederate flag and “restore Silent Sam” banner was seen flying in North Carolina. According to a Facebook post, the flag and banner were expected to fly over Chapel Hill- near the University of North Carolina campus, Durham and Raleigh as people commemorated Veterans Day across the state. “[The plane] will be in the air for a couple of hours showing the citizens of North Carolina that all veterans matter and that those brave men who were called to serve their country deserve to be honored,” a Facebook post from the group said. The “Silent Sam” statue has been in storage since it was toppled. Chancellor Carol Folt's administration and the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees have until Dec. 14 to submit a plan for the statue's future to the UNC Board of Governors.
https://www.wral.com/confederate-flag-restore-silent-sam-banner-fly-over-triangle/17987522/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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VOTERS LOSE, GERRYMANDERING WINS. THIS NEEDS TO STOP: Tuesday 49.7 percent of the state’s voters picked Democrats to send to the U.S. House of Representatives. But only three Democrats (23 percent) actually were elected. “The blue tide did not breach the gerrymandered sea wall that exists because of the broken redistricting process we have in North Carolina,” Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, said after the election. “That was what we were watching for. We were waiting to see, does anything change? Gerrymandering does provide a protective sea wall.” Phony rationalizing that Democrats competed in several close races in this election and captured a few more seats, misses the point. What Republicans know – and the evidence shows in the results of this most recent election – is that even when the party put up flawed and lack-luster candidates, the districts are so rigged it is all-but impossible to lose.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-voters-lose-gerrymandering-wins-it-needs-to-stop/17979817/

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