Daily dose

Friday News: A chip off the ol' block


JUNIOR BERGER FAILED TO DISCLOSE INTERNET GAMBLING DONORS: A campaign finance complaint filed against N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger Jr. says he failed to disclose who paid for food, drinks and other expenses at his 2016 campaign fundraisers. The complaint also says Berger — whose father is Senate leader Phil Berger — listed two donors as alpaca farmers instead of gambling business owners, and that several of the people listed as donors in his disclosure reports say they didn’t contribute. Hall’s complaint alleges that while serving as DA, Berger told police to “hold off” going after the (gambling) parlors. Berger was not the DA at the time of the campaign donation and was serving as an administrative law judge during his 2016 campaign. After retiring from Democracy NC, Hall now describes himself as an “independent campaign finance watchdog” and said he expects to file other complaints with the elections board this year.

Thursday News: Feet to the fire


AD BLITZ GOES AFTER GEORGE HOLDING FOR HEALTHCARE VOTES: The midterm election is still almost four months off, but a television ad war has already started between Republican 2nd District Congressman George Holding and an outside group over health care. Holding has spent nearly $200,000 dollars on ads since May to answer ads by a group called North Carolinians for a Fair Economy that criticize his votes on health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. "I think he's running scared. I think he's really feeling vulnerable," said Paula Wolf, who is with North Carolinians for a Fair Economy. Wolf wouldn't say who's funding the group, which has spent almost as much on ads as Holding. But she said the nonprofit, which can only advocate on issues and not endorse a particular candidate, is in compliance with all federal laws.

Wednesday News: Inherently biased


LAWSUIT FILED OVER DEATH PENALTY CASES THAT EXCLUDED BLACK JURORS: In a friend-of-the-court brief, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund cited statistical evidence of racial discrimination by Cumberland County prosecutors, who dismissed more than half of all eligible black jurors compared to a quarter of all others. This bias "unquestionably tainted" the sentencing process, lawyers argued. "The continuing stain of racial discrimination not only invalidates the death sentences imposed on these defendants, but it also undermines public confidence in North Carolina’s judicial system as a whole," Jin Hee Lee, LDF senior deputy director of litigation, said in a press release. "The Court must be unequivocal in rejecting racial bias in North Carolina juries, especially in death penalty cases, by giving the defendants a chance to challenge the discrimination they faced."

Tuesday News: Blood money


TILLIS CAMPAIGN ACCUSED OF ILLEGAL COORDINATION WITH NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: A national report tying millions of dollars in National Rifle Association political spending to a major campaign vendor for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis has opened more questions of illegal coordination in the rough-and-tumble 2014 Senate race. The Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., filed a Federal Election Commission complaint in the matter Monday. This is the second time this year the group has reached back to Tillis' 2014 election and suggested illegal coordination by outside groups. Monday when the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a criminal complaint against a Russian national accused of infiltrating the gun-rights group, the NRA's political spending is under new scrutiny.Tillis and fellow North Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr have been two of the two top three members of Congress to benefit from NRA political spending in recent years. North Carolina's status as a swing state brings massive amounts of money and advertising from a number of outside groups.

Monday News: The GOP Clown Car cometh


PUBLIC MEETING TODAY ON CHARLOTTE'S LIKELY HOSTING OF RNC 2020 CONVENTION: Charlotte, North Carolina, a Democrat-dominated city whose transgender-friendly bathroom ordinance triggered a statewide political war, is a front-runner to host the 2020 Republican Convention where President Donald Trump seeks an anointing to run for a second term. Charlotte's mayor says that would be just fine. But some local Democratic officials say: Not so fast. The City Council has scheduled a special meeting Monday to decide whether to accept a yet-to-be-extended offer from the GOP. Published reports suggest Charlotte is favored to land the convention. Fellow council member Braxton Winston said in a video that Charlotte should slow down and discuss whether it should pursue the convention. "We would be asking the people of Charlotte to host a celebration for a brand of politics that has been highly divisive and some would say dangerous to our community," Winston wrote.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LEGISLATORS' PLOTTING TO SOW DYSFUNCTION IN GOVERNMENT MUST END: Purposefully creating dysfunctional local boards of elections by making them four member boards (two Republicans and two Democrats). In Wake County, Republicans seeking to depress the vote of young people, oppose a voting site on the N.C. State University campus – where there are always very high turnouts. The local board split 2-2. Now the battle goes to the state board – and perhaps even to the courts. Similar dysfunction has infected election boards in Orange, Guilford and Forsyth counties.Shouldn’t legislators be working toward building systems that can develop consensus, resolve differences and make decisions? Shouldn’t board of elections be working on ways to make it as easy as possible to get the most citizens to vote? Apparently not in North Carolina.

Saturday News: Systematic destruction


ENROLLMENT IN TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAS DROPPED TO 80% DUE TO PRIVATIZATION CRUSADE: Enrollment in the state’s traditional public schools has fallen each year since the 2014-15 school year, dropping by 14,293 students in that time period. At the same time, charter schools added 31,199 students. Newly released state figures show that during that same three-year period, enrollment in homeschools went up by 28,896 students and private schools gained 4,516 students. Private school enrollment had been on the decline before the voucher program was created. The enrollment disparity was particularly sharp during the 2017-18 school year, when traditional public schools lost 6,011 students from the prior year even as charter schools, homeschools and private schools combined added 18,093 students.

Friday News: Patriarchy fail

NC GOP LITERALLY GOES INTO BEDROOM OF JENNIFER MANGRUM TO BLOCK HER CANDIDACY: Democratic member Stella Anderson said the lower panel was preoccupied with Mangrum's personal life, raising questions a male candidate wouldn't face. "The concern [was] with whether or not she was legally separated, whether she was going to reconcile, going back to Greensboro to spend time with her daughter, her motives," Anderson said. Mangrum said she was sorry the vote wasn't unanimous. "The challenger walked through my home, pretending to be someone else," she said of Cushman. "People are tired of this – I call it creepy, this creepy political game. After the first appeal, he said to me, 'Nothing personal.' It is personal." Lawyers for Cushman didn't say whether they plan to appeal the state board's ruling in court.

Thursday News: Shifting the burden


COUNTY EDUCATION BUDGETS SUFFERING FROM GOP STATE-LEVEL TAX CUTS: The school board has to cut its budget after the Wake County Board of Commissioners provided only $45 million of the extra $59 million district officials requested to fund schools in 2018-19. The cuts mean fewer support teachers, fewer school counselors, a negligible local raise for teachers and even higher costs for student parking. But board member Bill Fletcher said Wednesday that the cuts don't have to be that deep. For years, he said, lawmakers have been shifting costs the state should be covering to the counties. "If the Republicans are going to say, 'We're going to reduce taxes at the state because that's a good thing to do,' but we're going to require the counties to increase taxes to pay for it, that's not right," said Fletcher, who's a registered Republican.

Wednesday News: Deadlocked


REPUBLICAN MEDDLING WITH BOARDS OF ELECTION RESULTS IN SPLIT VOTES: The State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement will have to set early voting plans for Wake and Orange counties after local elections boards deadlocked over details Tuesday. In Wake County, the two Democrats on the board wanted a voting site on the North Carolina State University campus. The two Republican members didn't. Weekend voting hours were the sticking point in Orange County. Wake County's board spent three hours on the issue Tuesday between public comment, board debate and recesses. In the end, Democrats insisted on the N.C. State site at the Talley Student Union, and Republicans were opposed, citing poor parking and the fact that the plan had two other sites inside the Interstate 440 Beltline.


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