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Tuesday News: Not so fast, BergerMoore


JUDGE RULES REPUBLICANS VIOLATED CHRIS ANGLIN'S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: A judge threw out a new state law Monday, ruling that it violated the constitutional rights of at least two politicians whose 2018 campaigns the law had targeted. Chris Anglin, a Republican candidate for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court, had sued the legislature along with Rebecca Edwards, a Democrat who is running to become a district court judge in Wake County. Earlier this summer, the legislature passed a new law that would have prevented Anglin or Edwards from being able to have their party affiliations on the ballot. They argued that the law unfairly targeted them because their competitors in this November’s elections would still have their own parties listed on the ballot.

Monday News: Another inconvenient truth

AL AND KARENNA GORE JOIN BISHOP BARBER ON TOUR OF POLLUTED POOR COMMUNITIES: Former Vice President Al Gore, his daughter Karenna Gore and former NAACP state leader the Rev. William Barber will be in North Carolina on Sunday and Monday for an environmental justice tour. The trio will start with a 9:45 a.m. worship service Sunday at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, where Barber is pastor. At noon Monday, they will hold a news conference at Belews Creek in Stokes County, which has been contaminated by coal ash. At 6 p.m. Monday, they will attend a Moral Monday meeting at Shiloh Baptist Church in Greensboro, where testimonials from people who live near polluted areas will be included in the program. The two-day tour is organized by the Poor People’s Campaign, which is the national movement that Barber has helped kick off.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LET'S LOWER THE CURTAIN ON THE NC GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S BAD SHOW: This is political and judicial theater that is both comedy and tragedy but, more importantly, a show that should not have taken the stage in the first place. These six potential amendments to the state’s constitution — two taking appointments from the governor, one requiring voters to produce IDs, one to lower the state’s income tax ceiling, one about rights for crime victims and one to be sure you know hunting and fishing are a right — are not worthy of constitutional status. You will hear and read that dozens of times between now and Nov. 6. They shouldn’t be on the ballot. Legislators rushed back into session to change the law so that they, not that commission, would write those descriptions. When Cooper vetoed that bill, lawmakers returned Saturday to override that veto. That generated the various lawsuits, which argue that those efforts mislead voters with imprecise wording.

Saturday News: Culture of disrespect


TWO HIGH-LEVEL DPI STAFFERS SQUEEZED OUT BY MARK JOHNSON: Adam Levinson was made CFO by the State Board of Education in March 2017 following former CFO Philip Price’s departure back in February of 2017. State Superintendent Mark Johnson was opposed to his hiring, according to an affidavit filed as part of a now-resolved lawsuit between the State Board and Johnson. Stacey Wilson-Norman, who previously worked as deputy superintendent of academics at Durham Public Schools, was made chief academic officer of DPI in September of 2017. At the time of her hiring, Johnson opposed the Board making any new high-level hires until the lawsuit between he and the Board was resolved. Both Wilson-Norman and Levinson were effectively demoted as part of Johnson’s recent reorganization, with Levinson retaining his role but with less authority and Wilson-Norman being reassigned to the lower-level role of division director of curriculum and instruction.

Friday News: Adding injury to insult


MATH TEST KNOCKING OUT HUNDREDS OF NEW NC TEACHERS, EXACERBATING SHORTAGES: Pearson provides teacher license exams for 24 states, including others that have had controversy over low pass rates on math. But only one, Massachusetts, uses exactly the same math exam, company officials told the Observer Tuesday. And that state reported results similar to North Carolina’s, with 52.2 percent of first-time test takers passing in 2016-17. When repeat test-takers were factored in, the Massachusetts rate rose to 64.2 percent. North Carolina’s pass rate on the math exam was 54.5 percent in 2016-17, including 987 who didn’t try again after failing. Changes in the way North Carolina licenses its teachers came about after the state approved Common Core academic standards for students. Officials wanted to make sure teachers’ skills were adequate for the rigorous demands being placed on students, and that includes preparing children to master high-level math in middle and high school, Oxendine said.

Thursday News: Voter Suppression Project


NC COUNTY ELECTION BOARDS ILLEGALLY PURGED THOUSANDS OF VOTERS IN 2016: Elections officials in Cumberland, Moore and Beaufort counties illegally canceled the registrations of thousands of voters before the 2016 election and are prohibited from similarly purging their voter rolls in the future based on challenges by activists, a federal judge has ruled. In the weeks leading up to the November 2016 election, one Cumberland County resident representing the Voter Integrity Project of NC challenged 4,000 voters and a voter representing the Moore Voter Integrity Project challenged almost 500 Moore County voters. Four people in Beaufort County challenged about 140 voters there. The three county elections board sustained the challenges in most cases, canceling the registrations of about 3,900 voters.

Wednesday News: Intentionally misleading


3-JUDGE PANEL TO HEAR LAWSUITS CHALLENGING GOP CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: Lawyers representing Gov. Roy Cooper, the state NAACP and an environmental group argued Tuesday that four of the six proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this fall are intentionally misleading and should be excluded. "The General Assembly should not be allowed, cannot be allowed to violate the rights of North Carolinians," said John Wester, an attorney for Cooper. "[Voters] can exercise their rights and power only if they are fairly and honestly informed about the amendment before them." Cooper, a Democrat, has been fighting with Republican legislative leaders over appointment powers to various state boards and commissions since before he took office at the start of 2017. "Both [amendments] take a wrecking ball to the constitution's separation of powers principle, and they would ... strip the governor of constitutional powers," Wester said.

Tuesday News: Challenging the Usurpers

NAACP AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP FILE SUIT OVER GOP AMENDMENTS: The state NAACP and the environmental group Clean Air Carolina are suing to stop four proposed constitutional amendments from appearing on the fall ballot. The groups will ask for a quick hearing in the complaint they filed Monday morning, asking a judge to stop the questions from being added to ballots while the case is being argued. They are suing legislative leaders and the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The four proposed constitutional changes the organizations are targeting would require voters to present photo ID, cap the state income tax rate at 7 percent, change the way judicial vacancies are filled to limit the governor’s role, and take away the governor’s power to appoint members to boards and commissions and give that power to the legislature.

Monday News: Going to court over Court


SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE SUES GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR PARTY LABEL REWRITE: North Carolina Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin plans to file a lawsuit on Monday morning, challenging the lawmakers' effort to misrepresent him on the ballot, according to his lawyer. Republican leaders are concerned that Anglin, who is running as a Republican, but was a former Democrat, could siphon votes away from incumbent Republican Justice Barbara Jackson, who's facing a tough re-election battle against Democratic challenger Anita Earls. “I didn’t make, break, or change the rules, just followed them. Even children understand changing the rules in the middle of an election is wrong. What the Legislature has done is a violation of my Constitutional rights. This lawsuit is the next step in my fight to stand up for an independent judiciary,” Anglin said in a press release.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


FETZER OUT OF BOUNDS; UNC BOARD SHOULD CENSURE HIM: Tom Fetzer’s behavior as a member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors isn’t simply rude or self-serving. His latest, self-confessed actions in connection with the recruitment and hiring of a new chancellor for Western Carolina University are disruptive. Specifically, the UNC Board should examine the appropriateness of Fetzer – one of the state’s most influential legislative lobbyists and former chairman of the state Republican Party -- using his appointed government position to gain access to otherwise confidential information, specifically the names of candidates for the Western Carolina University chancellor’s position. Then, did he violate policy and ethical conduct procedures by giving that confidential information to a private “screening” firm Fetzer personally hired to dig into the background of a candidate for the chancellor’s post?


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