Good news on New Year's Eve in the Wilmington Ten case. Gov. Bev Perdue has come through with the hoped-for pardons of innocence.
Her office sent us the photo.
Gov. Perdue's statement follows:
“I have spent a great deal of time over the past seven months reviewing the pardon of innocence requests of the persons collectively known as the Wilmington Ten. This topic evokes strong opinions from many North Carolinians as it hearkens back to a very difficult time in our state’s past, a period of racial tensions and violence that represents a dark chapter in North Carolina’s history. These cases generate a great deal of emotion from people who lived through these traumatic events.
In evaluating these petitions for clemency, it is important to separate fact from rumor and innuendo. I have decided to grant these pardons because the more facts I have learned about the Wilmington Ten, the more appalled I have become about the manner in which their convictions were obtained.
In 1980, a federal appeals court overturned the convictions in a written decision that highlighted the gross improprieties that occurred during the trial. The federal court determined as a matter of law that numerous instances of prosecutorial misconduct and other constitutional violations took place. Among other things, the court ruled that with regard to the testimony of the prosecution’s key witness — upon whose credibility the case depended entirely — “the conclusion is inescapable that [he] perjured himself” and that “this fact was bound to be known to the prosecutor . . .” The court also declared that it was undisputed that key documents had repeatedly been withheld from defense lawyers. It also found numerous errors by the trial judge that had the effect of unconstitutionally prejudicing the defendants’ ability to receive a fair trial.
Since the trial ended, the prosecution’s key witness and two supporting witnesses all independently recanted their testimony incriminating the defendants. Furthermore, last month, new evidence was made available to me in the form of handwritten notes from the prosecutor who picked the jury at trial. These notes show with disturbing clarity the dominant role that racism played in jury selection. The notes reveal that certain white jurors believed to be Ku Klux Klan members were described by the prosecutor as “good” and that at least one African American juror was noted to be an “Uncle Tom type.”
This conduct is disgraceful. It is utterly incompatible with basic notions of fairness and with every ideal that North Carolina holds dear. The legitimacy of our criminal justice system hinges on it operating in a fair and equitable manner with justice being dispensed based on innocence or guilt — not based on race or other forms of prejudice. That did not happen here. Instead, these convictions were tainted by naked racism and represent an ugly stain on North Carolina’s criminal justice system that cannot be allowed to stand any longer.
Justice demands that this stain finally be removed. The process in which this case was tried was fundamentally flawed. Therefore, as Governor, I am issuing these pardons of innocence to right this longstanding wrong.”
Shanahan is Governor-elect McCrory's pick to be secretary of public safety.
It's a big job now that prisons have been rolled into the same department with other functions like the Highway Patrol.
A former Raleigh city council member, Shanahan is an ex-prosecutor who's scowling even when he's smiling — which from a fellow Irishman is meant as a compliment.
He's been working his way up in the Republican ranks, so no surprise that he's in McCrory's cabinet.
But in the wake of recent events, Shanahan might want to think about a new motto for his law firm, in place of the current — as of this morning — questionable one. Which is:
"Don't bring a knife to a gunfight."
Sending along a tweet from the Washington Post:
This WaPo chart shows that most Senate Dems up in '14 have "C" or worse grade from NRA wapo.st/TsmaqO
— amy walter (@amyewalter) December 17, 2012
Sen. Hagan, a Democrat who knocked off Elizabeth Dole in 2008, gets an F rating from the National Rifle Association and another F from the similarly right-wing Gun Owners of America.
Badges of honor, those F's.
Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina's other senator and a Republican, gets a pair of A's.
A's for assault rifle, perhaps.
Don’t lose this feeling. This mix of tears and resolve—don’t get over it; don’t set it aside.
This is what I’ve been telling myself since Friday. Keep it. Act on it.
Last night, Pam and I took part in the vigil at Pullen Church in Raleigh. At the end, everyone lit a candle using one of the 27 candles already burning in memory of the victims in Newtown. Read the name beside your candle, the minister said, and keep it in your heart.
When I got home, I found her picture online; family friends shared it on a Facebook page.
What a shiny little one she was. Precocious and completely endearing, someone said.
How terribly we failed her.
As a nation, how terribly we’re failing our children.
Yes, I mean where guns are concerned, and mental illness. But it goes much deeper.
We’re failing them by giving up on the future—their future—before they can shape it themselves.
@nytimes: Shooting at a Connecticut school. I was working on a different column Friday when I saw the first reports on Twitter. I went back to work. But I check Twitter reflexively, and an hour or two later, I saw an Associated Press report. @AP: 27 dead, including 18 children.
Later, 20 children.
Pam turned a TV on, and we followed the outpouring of media accounts. The tots who were lined up and killed. The principal and teachers who died so bravely. The killer, a psychotic young man with his mother’s arsenal of weapons, which she thought would defend her—and which instead killed her and other innocents.
For too long, we’ve stood helpless in America before the scourge of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons that have no purpose, except, if they fall into the wrong hands, a murderous one.
An industry of weapons dealers and political apologists has grown up in my lifetime, and nothing they say makes any sense when measured against the senseless violence they promulgate; but reasonable people are afraid of them and are silent.
For too long, we’ve allowed people with mental illnesses to be imprisoned or abandoned instead of finding them the care they deserve.
So now we have a series of troubled young men armed like Rambo and shooting in movie theaters, shopping malls and, of course, schools, because what’s more instrumental in a shooter’s rage than his treatment, real or perceived, in school?
All this in a culture that celebrates violence, elevates the warrior and derides art and literature as effete.
It’s the holiday season, and over the weekend we were in a big-box toy store looking for a tutu for our great-niece Evelyn, 1, and a keyboard for her brother Jack, 4.
There were a fair number of tutus, but musical instruments were hard to find amidst the aisles of toy guns, tanks, combat artillery and other weapons of mass destruction for the boys. Not to mention the video games of death.
It’s nature and nurture, I suppose, that combine to produce a mass murderer, but we’re obviously going wrong with our boys, because in no other nation do angry boys grow up to be mass murderers on the scale that we tolerate: According to Time.com, 15 of the worst 25 mass killings in the world over the last 50 years occurred in the U.S. (Finland was second with two.)
Five of the worst 11 massacres in the U.S. have been since 2007.
Gun violence, too, is a singularly American problem. According to the Washington Post, we in America are 20 times as likely to be killed with a gun as people living in the other developed nations of the world. (Mexico, if considered a developed nation, is worse than the U.S. because of ongoing drug wars among the cartels; Honduras, very violent and under-developed, is also worse.)
Our problem, in a word, is the guns. We have far more of them per capita than any other nation. And unlike other nations, we allow people to own assault weapons which fire bullets in bursts of 30, 40 or 50 at a clip. Then we mythologize their owners, as if the well-regulated militia called forth by the Second Amendment might soon be needed to defend us from space invaders.
Little Olivia, we’re told, loved to dance and sing.
I’m a practical person. I like to write about subjects where there’s a chance to make a difference and avoid calling for the impossible. I suppose that’s why I haven’t written about gun control in some years. Politically, it was an issue too deadly to say its name.
Similarly, I haven’t written a lot about climate change since Al Gore's film came and went in 2006. It was “An Inconvenient Truth” that time would run out on the planet if the industrialized nations—meaning the United States, first and foremost—didn’t curb greenhouse-gas emissions. But we refuse to curb them, even though we could, and the polar ice caps are melting.
Thus, what should have been a crisis is now on the verge of being a catastrophe. though we remain in denial about it. That’s the column I was working on Friday—about the responsibility we have in North Carolina to force change on Duke Energy, now the nation's largest utility. I’ll write it in January.
But as I contemplated our failures on guns, mental health, the culture of violence and climate change, it dawned on me what the fundamental problem is: We’ve given up.
We have the know-how and resources to address all of these issues and others—like the so-called fiscal cliff—of lesser magnitude. But to do so requires that we first regain control of our political institutions. And in that regard, we haven’t a clue how to get our elected representatives to do anything good about anything.
It’s a hard problem on which we currently expend almost no mental energy. Instead, “We the People” cede our authority to soulless corporations, and the results reflect the nihilism of their quarterly balance sheets. Our hopelessness, sadly, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy of despair for our children’s futures.
President Obama, Sunday night, called on the nation to gather itself and be worthy of the children who died in Newtown.
He was talking about curbing gun violence, but I think it goes way beyond that.
When I see the picture of little Olivia Engel, I think about what must’ve been in her mind just before she was gunned down.
And I tear up.
Every time I see a child I try to make eye contact, and when I do, the reaction is always the same. Little children are trusting. They trust that we, the adults will do right by them, now and for the years ahead.
They’re sweet that way, even the boys. No one should ever want to break that trust.
So that’s what I’m feeling, and it’s what I don’t want to lose.
I’m sad to the point of tears about giving our children a world more dangerous and unhappy than it ought to be.
I’m resolved to stop being so practical and to start being hopeful about what can be achieved with a political revolution—and to trust that, guided by hope, we can find our way to the future our children deserve.
The future you see in Olivia’s eyes.
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and Martin Street Baptist Church will co-host the service at Pullen. It will be brief, about 30 minutes, and give us a chance to grieve together.
I look into the faces of smiling children, and I tear up. I don't want to lose this feeling. I want to keep it and act on it with others who feel the same.
Our country can be better in so many ways. The children show us how.
And a brave school principal and teachers.
Pullen Church is at 1801 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, just east of the N.C. State Bell Tower.
Another tough break for the palace in Roanoke Rapids formerly known as the Randy Parton Theater.
Let's see if the Republicans in Raleigh change directions now and let them stay open — w/ campaign contributions cheerfully accepted.
Supreme Court upholds state ban on video sweepstakes machines - ow.ly/g6GBs #ncga #ncpol
— NC Policy Watch (@NCPolicyWatch) December 14, 2012
A unanimous Supreme Court opinion, with a sharp rebuke to the plaintiffs written by Justice Robin Hudson.
In a word, Ouch!
Plaintiffs have attempted to “skillfully disguise[ ]” conduct with a façade of speech to gain First Amendment protection for their conduct. Lipkin, 169 N.C. at 329, 169 N.C. at 271, 84 S.E. at 343. We have “strip[ped] the transaction of all its thin and false apparel and consider[ed] it in its very nakedness,” id., and have found plaintiffs‟ arguments unavailing. We conclude that N.C.G.S. § 14-306.4 regulates conduct, with only incidental burdens on associated speech, and is therefore constitutional.
That's right. David Parker wasn't going to run again for state Democratic Party chair the last time he got himself re-elected Democratic Party chair. But that was then, and this time, he really, really means it:
Friends, North Carolinians, and Fellow Democrats,
I will not seek re-election as Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party at our February 2, 2013 meeting in Durham.
I have enjoyed my two years of service to our State and to the Democratic Party. There is much work to be done on the vital issues of good government, public education and job creation in North Carolina and I look forward to continuing to work to better our State in the years to come.
Lots of chatter on the media vines about Eric Mansfield, the Fayetteville Democrat who ran for Lieutenant Governor and lost in the primary —despite a strong endorsement from us at the Indy, as I recall. He won't be a state senator much longer. He's got a terrific resume and is great on his feet, I can attest to that much.
The more the merrier. Mayor Nancy McFarlane will be there. Ditto Councilor Thomas Crowder, who was with the Dix306 concept before it was cool.
H/t to Leo for this tweet with a link to the "Edit Your City" Facebook page.
Group photo at Dix tomorrow. Anyone can join. ow.ly/fV4d4
— Leo Suarez (@dtraleigh) December 7, 2012
Seven years of advocacy, and tomorrow the prize will be won if the Council of State votes to approve a lease giving the city of Raleigh constructive control of the 306-acre Dorothea Dix Hospital tract. The advocates, members of the allied groups called Friends of Dorothea Dix Park, Dix306 and the Dix Visionaries, are cautiously or incautiously optimistic about the vote. The dream of a great destination park up on Dix Hill, overlooking downtown Raleigh from the south, is within reach.
There's opposition to it on the political right from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers-Art Pope group known to some as "Americans for the Prosperous." Conservatives are against a public good — what else is new? But unless something terrible happens overnight, says Dix306 leader Bill Padgett, a majority of the Council of State should vote to approve the lease.
So this afternoon, the Visionaries did what they could to hasten a positive vote. Greg Poole Jr., the first visionary and still their chair, pledged to raise $3 million for park planning once the lease is approved. The first $1 million will come from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation — Capitol Broadcasting money — thanks to his fellow visionary Jim Goodmon, Capitol Broadcasting's CEO, and his wife Barbara Goodmon, who is president of the foundation. The V's made the announcement at a press event held on the high ground of Dix Hill with the Raleigh skyline — thanks to a cloudless blue sky — shimmering in the background.
True, the skyline has just a few tall buildings to show so far. But Jay Spain, head of the Friends group, suggested that we think about what Raleigh's skyline will be — and what the city of Raleigh will be — in 100 years. Our decision to preserve Dix Hill as a park will be celebrated then and hailed as a wonderful gift from us to the future, Spain said, one that was vital to the great city Raleigh can and will be.
Goodmon made a similar point, recalling that when he started working at Capitol Broadcasting, the Raleigh-Durham TV market was 63rd in the country — not very big, in other words. Today, it's the 24th biggest. We've moved ahead of Charlotte. (!) "This is a big place," Goodmon said, "and it deserves big ideas."
The Dix Park vision, Goodmon added, is a very big idea — as big as any he can remember around here ... ever.
Poole acknowledged that the park movement began with the Friends and with Dix306, Padgett's group, and he came to it later. But not a lot later, and it must be said that when Poole signed on and started the Visionaries, he brought the business leadership of Raleigh into partnership with our civic and neighborhood leadership ... and even with that combination, it took seven years to reach the verge of success.
The park can be Raleigh and the state's jewel, Poole said. "North Carolina has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to save this jewel."
For his part, Goodmon expressed confidence that the Council of State will come through and back the lease that Gov. Bev Perdue's staff negotiated with Raleigh. But that's just the first step, Goodmon said. The critical next step is putting together a great plan to get the park going over the next quarter-century. "Good results without good planning is good luck," he said, "and I don't believe in good luck."
Yes, planning is critical, for the next quarter-century and beyond. How the park will be run — by the city? A private nonprofit? A public authority? And what will be in it? Which buildings will be preserved and which ones removed? All these questions and many more must be answered. The park can be connected to downtown via an existing railroad corridor — who's going to do that and when?
It'll be nice to move on to these very interesting questions once the foundational one — will the park exist? — is answered. Seven years on, it's about to be.
As expected, the N.C. Utilities Commission today ended its "investigation" of Duke Energy's tactics in the merger with Progress Energy, approving a settlement which IMHO falls short of even slapping Duke E. on the wrist.
On the pinkie finger, maybe.
Joining in the NCUC's unanimous "OK, whatever ... " decision, state Attorney General Roy Cooper — through his consumer protection chief, Kevin Anderson — announced that he, too, is finished investigating and isn't going to do anything either.
Rather, as Cooper's separate settlement with Duke states, the AG wants to "move forward in a positive manner" as he recites what Duke Energy told him, i.e., it "expressly denies that it engaged in any illegal or improper acts."
Cooper did require of Duke Energy that it hire an "independent entity" (I think IndyWeek is available) to take a survey of its customers and report back on their satisfaction with its service. Oh, and the utility is also required to hire an indy entity to survey its employees and report back on how the merger is going.
I'll bet they'll be some serious page-turners :)
Bottom line: Neither the NCUC nor the AG laid a glove on Duke Energy, which is now the big jumbo elephant when it comes to electricity-generation policies in North Carolina. Cooper's our elected regulator. The commission members are our appointed regulators. If they can't regulate Duke Energy, we'll have to depend on the General Assembly to do the job.
And on that amusing note ...