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Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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RECKLESS PERSONAL ATTACKS HARM EFFORTS TO RESOLVE STATE HEALTH PLAN: At the same time Folwell announced what he termed his “final offer,” the State Employees Association of North Carolina, a key Folwell ally in his effort, launched a mean-spirited personal attack on Michael Waldrum – the CEO of Vidant Health – the system that serves 29 counties in eastern North Carolina and operates the teaching hospital for Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. The video mocks Waldrum as greedy and selfish. It complains that he seeks a “profit” for the non-profit health care system. Vidant’s operations are overseen by a board that has a fiduciary responsibility to maintain financial viability. This isn’t just about Waldrum. It is the board and Waldrum who must do the right things for the non-profit’s operations, for the employees and the patients. The reality is that without that “profit” many of those the system serves in the poorest region of the state will go without any care at all.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-reckless-personal-attacks-harm-efforts-to-resolve-state-health-plan/1...

Saturday News: King of Pork

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BERGER'S BUDGET SENDS $15 MILLION TO HIS OWN DISTRICT: Millions of dollars in the state budget are going to mostly Republican districts for water infrastructure and parks projects. While Republicans defend the allocations as needed help to rural areas, an environmental group questions the process and oversight. The North Carolina Conservation Network analyzed the budget and found that 91% of $25 million in parks and water infrastructure earmarks went to Republican districts. Most were in Senate leader Phil Berger’s district, which includes Eden, Yanceyville and King. As first reported by WBTV, the Conservation Network found that about $23.4 million in direct appropriations, known as earmarks, went to Republican-held Senate districts, and within that a $15 million loan to the city of King in Berger’s district.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233124556.html

Friday News: Sins of Omission

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NC GOP'S "EXPERT WITNESS" GAVE FALSE TESTIMONY IN GERRYMANDERING TRIAL: The trial challenging North Carolina’s legislative lines as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders took a dramatic turn Thursday when an expert witness for Republican lawmakers admitted some of his testimony on their behalf was incorrect. The challengers used that admission to ask that testimony by Claremont McKenna College political scientist Douglas Johnson be struck from the record. “His testimony in his direct (examination) is just incorrect,” said Daniel Jacobson, a lawyer who represents the redistricting reform group Common Cause NC. “The numbers are wrong.” Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway, who is leading the panel, said North Carolina’s rules for expert witnesses say that “his opinions must be the product of reliable methods and principles ... and the principles used by Dr. Johnson were not reliable.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233105817.html

Thursday News: Good riddance

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CYBERSTALKER CODY HENSON RESIGNS FROM NC HOUSE: A state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to cyberstalking in a case involving his estranged wife announced Wednesday he will resign. Rep. Cody Henson’s statement on Facebook follows reports from court proceedings in western North Carolina, including that the Republican will undergo domestic violence abuser treatment, Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday. Among those reports: Henson once threw a full beer can at his wife in front of their son while she was pregnant and, after one heated argument, posted photos of his guns on social media, among other incidents, N.C. Assistant Attorney General Boz Zellinger said. Henson remains under a domestic violence protective order keeping him from contacting his estranged wife, Kelsey Meece, CPP said. He is not allowed access to firearms during his probation.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article233055162.html

Wednesday News: The slow death of discrimination

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COURT RULES TRANSGENDER PEOPLE CAN USE BATHROOM OF CHOICE: The settlement says state agencies and universities can’t ban transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. It applies only to public restrooms and similar facilities in state government buildings. “After so many years of managing the anxiety of HB 2 and fighting so hard, I am relieved that we finally have a court order to protect transgender people from being punished under these laws,” said Joaquin Carcaño, a transgender man and UNC-Chapel Hill employee who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state over LGBT discrimination. The settlement doesn’t keep legislators from restricting bathroom access through future laws. But it puts new requirements on government agencies and universities that are defendants in the lawsuit.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article233013642.html

Tuesday News: No teeth, no bite

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CHARLOTTE CONDEMNS TRUMP BUT WON'T RESCIND RNC 2020 CONTRACT: Monday’s vote followed a brief discussion on whether city leaders could legally back out of Charlotte’s agreement with the Republican National Committee to host its 2020 convention — a move that would, according to the city’s attorney, assuredly land Charlotte in a costly legal fight. The resolution cites four specific comments from Trump, from June 2017 to July 2019, and accuses the president of “racist and xenophobic social media tweets and comments.” “Many of (Charlotte’s) residents are immigrants and/or people of color,” the resolution states. “The Charlotte City Council ... believes that Charlotte should always be welcoming and inviting of people of diverse and different ethnicities and background (sic), so long as those differences do not lead to personal insults or violent discourse.” Several council members acknowledged the resolution would have “no teeth” beyond making a statement.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article232975797.html

Monday News: Big government strikes again

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BILL TO BLOCK MUNICIPALITIES FROM REGULATING AIRBNB GAINS STEAM: Several cities around the state have implemented or are working on regulations on short-term rentals, including Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Asheville. Mark Zimmerman, senior vice president for NC Realtors, says it’s a question of property rights. He says many people rely on the income from short-term rentals, and property owners have the right to use their property as they see fit. Cities and counties are against the regulation ban. Mooneyham says people who own the neighboring homes in those single-family neighborhoods have property rights too, and local governments are best suited to balance those competing interests. The bill would take it out of their hands. "Those people need to be protected, their quality of life needs to be protected, and the investment – the most important investment most people will ever make – needs to be protected," he said.
https://www.wral.com/nc-lawmakers-mull-blocking-cities-counties-from-regulating-airbnbs/18521162/

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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HEALTH CARE EXEC'S FIERY TONE SPOTLIGHTS LEGIT FRUSTRATION: It would be easy to dismiss the intemperate letter from a Greensboro-based Cone Health official to State Treasurer Dale Folwell and members of the State Health Plan Trustees as just a hot-head popping off. But it is more than that. Why would someone with the stature of Frank Kauder, assistant director of finance for Cone Health, write such a letter – inappropriate as it was? It was exasperation and immense frustration. He is not alone. His vexation is shared by both the health care community and North Carolina citizens. They see an attack on the state’s health care system that will tear it down, not improve quality, expand access to services or make them more affordable. He worries that the financial future of Cone healthcare -- and therefore its ability to serve the needs of its community -- is being jeopardized.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-health-care-exec-s-fiery-tone-spotlights-legit-frustration/18510361/

Saturday News: Partisan fingerprints

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HOFELLER'S MAPS USED COLOR CODE TO GUIDE GOP GERRYMANDERING: Christopher Cooper, a professor at Western Carolina University and expert witness for the challengers in the gerrymandering case, took the judges, lawyers and members of the public in court Friday through the Hofeller files. Cooper pointed specifically to two factors in the files that he said showed Hofeller worked hard to make sure the legislative districts would give Republicans an unfair partisan edge. Hofeller color-coded the state’s political leanings, Cooper said, using a traffic light system of green for Republican areas, yellow for tossup areas, and red for Democratic areas. His color-coding went down to the neighborhood level, broken up into individual voting precincts. “It shows that partisanship was front and center,” Cooper said.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article232855167.html

Friday News: Virtual failure

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NC SENATE SET TO BOOST ENROLLMENT OF VIRTUAL CHARTERS DESPITE "D" GRADES: The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would, among other things, get rid of the enrollment cap on one of the state’s two virtual charter schools and allow it to grow its population by 20 percent annually if it so chose. While there was no debate on the Senate floor Tuesday, legislative proponents of the bill have said that the schools attract “struggling students” and shouldn’t have a cap that artificially cuts off the number of such students who can use the resource. Opponents, however, point to the schools’ poor performance and trouble with virtual charter schools in other states as reasons not to let the schools grow easily. The North Carolina Association of Educators and the NC Justice Center sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper Tuesday asking him to veto the legislation.
https://www.wral.com/virtual-charter-school-gets-legislative-approval-to-grow-but-opponents-push-for...

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