So yesterday we learned that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney has N.C. on their travel schedules for the rest of the campaign. Then we learned Michelle Obama will be in Charlotte Monday. And now we know that Bill Clinton is due in Raleigh on
Saturday morning Sunday. [Update: The campaign has moved it back a day.]
Where in Raleigh? Don't know. When? Early,
I think — but don't know. I'm sure the campaign is scrambling to find a suitable venue — and have it help with Early Voting turnout, not get in the way.
N.C. State, maybe?
More when we have something more.
Everything I see tells me Obama is pulling ahead of Romney by 2-3 points nationally, more in critical states for Romney (Virginia, N.H., Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, and the all-important Ohio). Obama is focusing his efforts there, as he should. He doesn't need North Carolina to win. That doesn't mean he can't win it.
Similarly, Romney must assume that he'll win in North Carolina and try to make up ground in the other states where he's trailing. But the fact that he must look past N.C. doesn't mean he'll win it. Every recent poll but one says N.C. is dead even — a tossup.
This morning's jobs report is huge for Obama, as is the fact that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, is showing him the kind of respect for the president that no Republican in Congress has shown him since, well, since Obama was inaugurated. It's a reminder of what bipartisanship would look like if the Republicans weren't so damnably, cynically partisan.
The headline from the Elon University Poll is that Obama has pulled into a tie with Romney in North Carolina among likely voters, 45-45. Way down is the news that Obama leads by 2 points with registered voters.
Also, the poll was conducted Oct. 21-26, meaning that the first two days preceded the final presidential debate, in which Obama dominated. So, if anything, the poll may over-estimate where Romney stands in N.C. today.
Elon is one of the few live-interviewer polls, and its relatively large sample size of 1,200-plus reduces the margin of error to below 3 percent.
In the gubernatorial race, Pat McCrory is still ahead by double-digits. The internals are interesting. Here's the full poll release from Elon:
[Update, 10-25: So yes, I did watch and McCrory was asked the Goldman question. He said he was "very concerned" at what he was reading about Debra Goldman's behavior and wondered if it was "appropriate for an elected official." Which behavior? He didn't say, and he didn't come right out and say what should be obvious, which is that Goldman, even if you give her the benefit of every doubt, isn't qualified to be state auditor.
[On the other hand, McCrory did give a shout-out to Democrat Beth Wood for "a good job" as auditor, which was the political equivalent of throwing Goldman's candidacy under the bus.
[Not a tough decision, really, but McCrory might've ducked the question completely ("I'm aware of the rumors, but that's all they are, and I won't comment on them ..."). So I give McCrory a passing grade on this basic test of leadership.]
The original post from yesterday afternoon follows —
I'll be watching the McCrory-Dalton debate tonight at 7 because, well, I still think who's governor is kind of important.
Pat McCrory is leading in the polls and brushing off all questions about everything. But here's one I hope he's asked and will answer:
If you're elected governor, do you think our state would be better served by having an auditor of the same party as yours — the Republican nominee, Debra Goldman — who is pretty obviously unqualified to be auditor? In other words, no auditor at all to be a watchdog over your administration?
Or, wouldn't it better for us and you, as governor, to retain Beth Wood as auditor, since she's done a good job in office, is a CPA, is qualified, and takes her responsibilities seriously?
The saga of Debra Goldman is well-known and I won't repeat it here. If you need a good recap of the recent Goldman-Malone caper, Carter Wrenn offers one today on the Talking About Politics blog.
I don't dislike Debra Goldman. I think she's tried, by her own lights, to be a good school board member. Her personal problems didn't help, obviously. I feel a little sorry for her actually. That said —
McCrory should make a clear statement that he doesn't support Goldman and is recommending that Wood be re-elected. Not to do so is to say, I'm a Republican hack, and I support Republicans regardless of the facts.
The three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals unanimously upheld Superior Court Judge Howard Manning's ruling. You can read the decision here.
Manning found, as part of his years-long ("Leandro") analysis of what the state constitution requires in the way of elementary and secondary education, that pre-K preparation is critical if at-risk kids, i.e., poor kids, are going to have a decent chance of success in the K-12 system. So he ordered the state legislature to step up and provide enough funding so that every such child can be served. Gov. Perdue agreed. But she didn't convince the Republican-led General Assembly.
As the appeals court found, in a decision issued this morning, Manning did not say that pre-K is a requirement for all time in North Carolina. Instead, Manning found — and the state Supreme Court has tasked Manning with doing the analysis and making his rulings operational — that the way our school system works now, in the early 21st century, pre-K is a must for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Attorney General Roy Cooper appealed Manning's ruling. The State Board of Education, which was a co-defendant in the case, did not join in Cooper's arguments.
The Covenant With North Carolina's Children, an advocacy group, brought our attention to the Court of Appeals' action. Here's what the Covenant said:
RALEIGH — The State Court of Appeals issued its ruling this morning on the most recent iteration of the ongoing Leandro case. In its decision, the Court upheld Judge Howard Manning’s ruling that the state has a constitutional obligation to provide pre-kindergarten to all “at-risk” four-year-olds.
“This is great news for North Carolina’s children and families,” stated Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children. “Study after study shows that when children receive a high-quality early education, they do better in school and in life.”
Despite the clarity of the ruling, much uncertainty remains regarding access to NC Pre-K.
“The ball is now in the Legislature’s court,” continued Thompson. “Will it comply with the ruling and fully fund access to NC Pre-K? Will it appeal the ruling to the State Supreme Court? The reaction of legislative leaders will be the most important thing to monitor in the coming days and weeks.”
Specifically, the Court rejected the legislature’s claim that Judge Manning overstepped his authority by mandating open access to NC Pre-K as the sole remedy to educating at-risk four year olds:
“Under Leandro II, the State has a duty to prepare all “at-risk” students to avail themselves of an opportunity to obtain a sound basic education. Pre-kindergarten is the method in which the State has decided to effectuate its duty, and the State has not produced or developed any alternative plan or method.”
During the 2011-12 school year, NC Pre-k served just over 26,000 children. Another 40,000 children were eligible for the program, but not enrolled due to a lack of funding.
The Covenant with North Carolina’s Children is a non-profit, membership-based advocacy organization composed of service providers, professional associations and advocacy groups dedicated to promoting public policy that benefits children in North Carolina.
[Update, 3:50 pm: Phase one of the case is over. Chairman Finley announced that the Commission is following the evidence where it leads, and where it leads is a next phase that will be more "traditional" and "evidentiary." Meaning it's going to be long and hard-fought. Duke Energy's attorneys, up to and including former NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, have been complaining that they weren't allowed to cross-examine witnesses. Next phase, that will change. But so will the stakes.
[Finley, in afternoon questioning, elicited from Gray an acknowledgement that it's within the Commission's power to rescind its approval of the merger. If that's true, he asked, isn't it also true that we have other, less severe options here, including — he implied — putting Johnson back in as CEO? Gray said choosing the CEO was solely within the Duke board's corporate prerogatives. So do you think we're "helpless," Finley asked Gray, to enforce a promise you made in the merger hearings [that Johnson would be CEO]? No, Gray replied.
[Last word from Finley: Duke should think about settling this thing before it goes to a full-blast confrontation with cross-examinations and such. "We never rule out settlements," Finley said. He added that the Commission will do whatever it must to maintain the "reputation and integrity of this governmental body."]
What follows is the original post from noon today —
It's hard enough — often — to know what one person is thinking even when you're talking to him/her face to face. So fathoming what was in the minds of the 10 outside directors of Duke Energy over an 18-month period, or in the minds and hearts of the Duke Energy executives who were in contact with their board, is better handled by a novelist.
I do think it's a fair inference from the testimony yesterday and today at the N.C. Utilities Commission that the Duke board — at least three of them and, from what their lead director Ann Maynard Gray has said, probably more than three — took an instant dislike to Bill Johnson the first time they met him. That was in June, 2011, some six months into the Duke-Progress Energy merger deal.
Whether they took this dislike to him because they didn't ever intend Johnson to be CEO of the merged firm, we'll never know and perhaps they don't even know. But Gray's testimony is clear that the Duke board spent the next year looking for reasons to justify their low opinion of Johnson. They found one — or she did, anyway — in "the Crystal River incident," which she described as an unacceptable failure by a prospective CEO.
(I won't digress to describe the "incident." I'll just say that the way Gray talked about it, she was gunning for Johnson by then and was determined to see the thing in the worst possible light for Johnson — without any effort to hear what Johnson himself might have to say about it.)
So whether the Duke board decided from the jump, or in mid-2011, or in the spring of 2012 that Johnson would not do as CEO of the post-merger Duke, it's obvious that they were eyeing his neck and sharpening their axes long before the merger was consummated, and the blade dropped, on July 2.
Yet Duke Energy officials told the Utilities Commission again and again that Johnson would be the CEO and that the fact that he would be the CEO was an important reason why the merger would serve the public interest.
I was present at the hearing yesterday. (This morning, I watched on WRAL.) A big topic in the room was, What's the Utilities Commission after? And what will they do about it?
From the questioning, there's no doubt at all that the commissioners are pissed and do, indeed, think (suspect? are trying to prove?) that they were intentionally misled.
The second question, though, continues to hang in the air. If the Commission was intentionally misled, what will it do?
Commission Chairman Ed Finley was explicit yesterday when he said that he and his fellow commissioners considered the merger a good deal for the public when they approved it — and they still do.
Whether it is a good deal for the public — for consumers, that is — is arguable. My point here is that if the Commission still thinks it is, it won't attempt to unravel the merger by reversing their decision to approve it. That would be bold. And probably proper. But they'd need to do it fast, and from what I read, they're hiring investigators, and the Attorney General is investigating, so this won't be fast.
We (media) are not allowed to approach the commissioners during or after the sessions (!). So what follows is speculative. Short of reversing the merger approval, I think the Commission may:
1) Hit Duke with a whopping fine.
2) Require a shake-up of the Duke board as a condition for leaving the merger in place.
3) Force Jim Rogers out as CEO, and require that his replacement be named by the newly reconfigured Duke board or by some combination of the legacy Progress Energy and the pre-merger Duke Energy board, with the Progress Energy side given an equal voice. (Or more.)
On the third point, I was struck yesterday by Bill Johnson's testimony about the merger deal and its contingency plan had either Johnson, as the CEO named in the deal, or Jim Rogers, as the prospective executive chairman, turned out to be "unable or unwilling" to perform their designated role(s).
In that case, the Duke board and the Progress were to agree on a mutually acceptable replacement.
Well, obviously the Duke board, perhaps as early as 2011, decided that Johnson was unable to be the CEO.
Under the merger deal, the Duke board would have been obligated to raise that concern with the Progress board, to say nothing of being obligated to share it with the Utilities Commission.
But it didn't. Not until the merger was completed. When it was complete, the Duke board cut Johnson from the roster without bothering — as Commissioner Bill Culpepper sarcastically said — even to make it appear like they'd tried to work with him. (And honor their word to the Commission.)
Johnson himself testified that, at that first meeting with Duke board members in June, 2011, he'd been told that his job as the prospective (promised) CEO was to "fold Progress into Duke," and not to bring Progress's values to Duke.
Gray just testified that, at that same meeting, Johnson tangled with a Duke board member (apparently in a sidebar conversation) over some question about a Duke "regulatory asset" and how it should be handled.
Several board members, she said, had a bad feeling about him over that.
It sounds to me like what Duke had in mind in designating Johnson as the future CEO was this:
Johnson would be their patsy. He'd be the CEO, but his job was to merge Progress out of existence and into Duke.
When he clashed, early on, with some of Duke's leaders over how business should be done, they realized he wasn't going to be their patsy.
Maybe they always planned to show him the door, and they had total disdain for the Utilities Commission's ability (or stones) to do anything about it.
Maybe they changed their minds in mid-course and only then decided to show Johnson the door. But as Culpepper said, they didn't worry at all about how firing him after 20 minutes as CEO would strike the Commission — and they didn't even try to hide their disdain for the Commission's feelings.
One more thought, and I'm sure I'll return to this subject.
Duke Energy is a political corporation. Post-merger, it's one of the biggest companies in the country.
Is it concerned that it has made the N.C. Utilities Commission, its ostensible regulator in this state anyway, look like idiots?
The Commission is currently dominated by appointees of former Gov. Mike Easley. Chairman Finley is an Easley appointee. Commissioners Beatty and Susan Rabon are too, and both were top aides of and friends of Easley's.
But the next governor may well be Pat McCrory, a former Duke Energy employee who was paid by Duke while he was mayor of Charlotte. Nothing illegal about that — the mayor of Charlotte is part-time, just like the mayor of Raleigh — and the fact the mayor was on Duke's payroll was remarkable only for the fact that he wasn't on one of the big banks' payrolls.
Still, if the current commissioners are pissed at Duke, future commissioners may all be FOD. Friends of Duke.
That's the whole idea of being a political corporation.
Watching the returns in runoff primaries. (That's right, today was the day. Were you among the
98 97 percent of registered voters who forgot?)
[Update x 2: At 9:17 pm, with 87 percent of precincts in, on the Republican side John Tedesco is solidly ahead, Tony Gurley is far behind and Kenn Gardner looks like he's lost too. John Brooks is at 54% and looks to the the Democratic nominee for labor commissioner. Results here.
[With three GOP runoffs for congressional seats out west, the Wake candidates needed to pile up a big margin at home to have a chance. Tedesco did, leading in Wake by more than 12,000 votes. He ran even in Mecklenburg. Gardner's margin in Wake was less than half as much. Gurley is trailing in Wake and got killed in M'berg.
[By the way, Mike Causey won easily in the GOP primary for Insurance Commissioner, defeating former House Speaker Richard Morgan.
[Turnout in the only statewide Democratic runoff, for Labor Commissioner, was pitiful. Oddly, the apparent winner John Brooks lost Wake, his home county, and he also lost Durham, Orange and Medklenburg. But he won over Marlowe Foster, who is black, is almost all of the rural counties. Whoever wins, he'll be a weak challenger to incumbent Republican Cherie Berry.]
[Update: At 9 pm, two-thirds of the precincts are in, and on the GOP side, it looks like Tedesco will win. Gurley is losing badly. Gardner's behind and slipping, looks like he'll lose too. Brooks is pulling away from Foster on the Democratic side.]
In the early going With 59 percent of precincts reporting, the trio of Wake County Republicans are heading in different directions:
* John Tedesco is ahead in the race for DPI Superintendent, though not decisively.
* Tony Gurley is getting clobbered in the primary for Lieutenant Governor. (Come to think of it, there are four Wake Republicans running. Gurley, a county commissioner, is losing to Raleigh architect Dan Forest, whose political claim to fame is that former Congresswoman Sue Myrick, darling of Mecklenburg County, is his mom.)
* It's close in the primary for Secretary of State, but former Wake Commissioner Kenn Gardner is trailing Eddie Goodwin.
In the only statewide Democratic runoff, former Labor Commissioner John Brooks, a Raleigh resident, is ahead in his latest effort to win back the job he had and lost 20 years ago. He leads lobbyist Marlowe Foster.
These are primaries, remember. None of these folks, if they're nominated, will be a lock to win. I'd say Forest is the only one who'd be favored, in fact.
Gov. Perdue’s statement on Andy Griffith’s death at 86:
“North Carolina has lost its favorite son. Andy Griffith graciously stepped into the living rooms of generations of Americans, always with the playful charm that made him the standard by which entertainers would be measured for decades.
Throughout his career, he represented everything that was good about North Carolina: a small town boy and UNC graduate who took a light-hearted approach to some of the attributes he grew up with and turned them into a spectacularly successful career. And regardless of where that career took him, he always came back to North Carolina and spent his final years here.
In an increasingly complicated world, we all yearn for the days of Mayberry. We all will miss Andy, and I will dearly miss my friend.”
Update: President Obama remembers Andy fondly:
Statement by the President on the Passing of Andy Griffith
Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Andy Griffith this morning. A performer of extraordinary talent, Andy was beloved by generations of fans and revered by entertainers who followed in his footsteps. He brought us characters from Sheriff Andy Taylor to Ben Matlock, and in the process, warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy’s family.
If you've been following the efforts of the very profitable K12 Inc. (we talked about them in this story) to open a virtual charter school for students in North Carolina — ostensibly it would be a school "based" in Cabarrus County, but in (virtual) reality the school would've consisted of online courses only, plus some tellers to cash the checks — it's been blocked by Superior Court Judge Abe Jones:
Judge rules that state edu board doesn't have to review #ncvirtual charter - its silence earlier was in effect a denial #ncga
— Sarah Ovaska(@SarahOvaska) June 29, 2012
Sarah Ovaska's been covering this — start here; and for more, check the links listed at the end.
K12 maintained that the State Board of Education missed its chance to review its charter application when the SBOE decided not to entertain any virtual charters before it put some rules in place for them. Oddly, a state administrative review judge agreed.
Abe Jones ruled, properly I'd say, that the SBOE's actions were tantamount to rejecting K12's application:
Read the #ncvirtual order that blocks for-profit K12, Inc.virtual #charters from opening in #NC this fall. scribd.com/doc/98680913/J… #ncga #ncpol
— Sarah Ovaska(@SarahOvaska) June 29, 2012
Gov. Perdue held a press conference this morning and announced that she will indeed send the General Assembly's budget back at them. The Republican-led G.A. has the option of:
1) Negotiating with the governor — and truly, her requests have been on the very small side in terms of dollars (but, as in the eugenics issue, sometimes the point isn't the sheer dollars) — or,
2) Taking their ball and going home — because, remember, the budget enacted a year ago is for two years, and what's before the body now is a bill to amend that two-year plan.
If the legislature's Republican leaders choose to quit for the year, leaving last year's budget in place, it would be "politics at its worst," according to Together NC, a progressive coalition. Their statement is below.
[It occurs to me to add that going home would not just be politics at its worst, it would stupid politics. Read Perdue's list of 20 budget issues. It's a roadmap for Democratic candidates in the fall. Now consider that Perdue is willing to accept their budget if the Republicans simply address a couple of her 20 issues and put another $100 million in the pot — which is available from current revenues and which would be a drop in the bucket of about 0.5% extra for a $20 billion plan. In other words, act like you're reasonable, and you disarm the Democrats. Makes sense to me ... but then I don't exactly think like your typical N.C. Republican.]
Perdue set out 20 ways the Republicans failed. Read 'em and weep.
Perdue issued a statement today about the budget's missing compensation for victims of forced sterilization —
RALEIGH – Announcing her intentions to veto the N.C. General Assembly’s budget, Gov. Bev Perdue today called on legislators to continue working to benefit citizens of North Carolina. She repeated her support for providing compensation to surviving victims of the state’s former forced sterilization initiative.
“They failed to take action on a bipartisan plan to compensate the verified living victims of the state’s former Eugenics Board program – which as, you know, involuntarily sterilized North Carolinians in the 20th century,” Gov. Perdue said. “It’s not a lot of money but a tremendous move for the state.
“We can’t change the terrible things that happened to so many of these vulnerable citizens in North Carolina. But I believe it’s long past time for us to take responsibility as a people for our state’s mistakes, and to show North Carolinians and the world that we do not tolerate violations of basic human rights.”
Gov. Perdue’s original budget designated $10.3 million to compensate verified victims and provide continued funding of the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. This week, she urged a compromise of $5 million. At this time, it is unclear if lawmakers intend to provide funding to the N.C. Department of Administration for continued operation of the Foundation or require DOA to find dollars from existing programs.
While more than 30 states at one time operated eugenics programs, North Carolina implemented the most aggressive program and had been poised to become the first to provide financial compensation to verified victims. Last Wednesday, the Foundation suspended intake of new victim verification. Because its original 2009 allocation of non-recurring funding will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, it has been preparing to shut down on Saturday.
The House approved legislation earlier this month that reflected Gov. Bev Perdue’s call to pay $50,000 lump sum compensation to living victims, as well as funding for the Foundation’s continued operation and expanded outreach.
To date, the Foundation has confirmed matches with archived eugenics records to 161 individuals in 57 counties, including 146 living victims. Foundation Executive Director Charmaine Fuller Cooper said the increase reflects discovery of cases in which multiple siblings and entire families were sterilized. For data reported by the county in which a procedure occurred, visit http://www.doa.nc.gov/media/releases/showrelease.asp?id=0001-20JUN12.
Fuller Cooper noted that time is not on the side of aging victims. An updated estimate from the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics earlier this month revised down the number of likely living victims from about 1,500 to 2,000 to about 1,350 to 1,800.
Here's the statement from Together NC —
RALEIGH (June 29, 2012) — We support Governor Perdue’s decision to use her veto to negotiate a better budget for North Carolina. To be clear, the budget passed by the General Assembly last week falls far short of what is needed to restore investments in education, health care and public safety.
Now, the ball is in the legislature’s court. If they are unable to override the veto, legislative leaders can decide to work with the Governor to negotiate a compromise budget or they can leave town without approving revisions to the 2012-13 state budget.
We believe that it is the legislature’s responsibility to remain in Raleigh and to negotiate a compromise with the Governor. If legislators adjourn without revising the approved 2012-13 state budget, they will be responsible for the ensuing cuts to public schools and Medicaid. Such a refusal to negotiate would be politics at its worst.
And here's most of the statement from the N.C. Budget & Tax Center, part of the progressive N.C. Justice Center —
As the Governor mentioned, this budget fails to make adequate investments in the education of our children, well-being of our seniors and safety of our environment, all while keeping in place an ineffective tax break for wealthy North Carolinians.
There are better choices available to policymakers. Limiting the tax break passed last year to target small businesses is one option that would make greater reinvestment in our schools or Medicaid possible. The worst decision the General Assembly could make now is to not consider and work towards a better budget and go home. The result would be a budget that:
* Requires schools to return more than half a billion dollars a year in state funding
* Leaves the Medicaid program underfunded by more than a quarter of a billion dollars, impacting thousands of vulnerable North Carolinians' access to necessary medical care
* Continues to under-invest in the highway and road infrastructure necessary for our state's economy
It is critical that policymakers come together to work towards implementing a budget that takes into account the needs of our community and the means we have to support those needs. Leaving Raleigh without making an effort to develop a better budget will ignore the wishes of all North Carolinians who seek leadership that is focused on a better future for all.
Gov. Bev Perdue acted today to protect the Racial Justice Act from the GOP-led General Assembly's effort to gut it. The ACLU of NC is out with a reminder that the fate of the veto hangs on whether three House Democrats (Brisson, Hill and Owens — see below) will stand with her or — as they did when the measure was on the floor — with the Republicans.
First, from the Governor's Office:
Governor Vetoes Senate Bill 416
Senate Bill 416, “An Act To Amend Death Penalty Procedures”
“As long as I am Governor, I will fight to make sure the death penalty stays on the books in North Carolina. But it has to be carried out fairly – free of prejudice.
Three years ago, North Carolina took steps to achieve this result by passing the Racial Justice Act. In response to the enactment of this historic law, our State has rightfully received national acclaim for taking a positive and long overdue step to make sure racism does not infect the way the death penalty is administered.
Last year, Republicans in the General Assembly tried — and failed — to take North Carolina backwards by passing a bill that would have undone the Racial Justice Act. This year’s Senate Bill 416 is not a “compromise bill”; it guts the Racial Justice Act and renders it meaningless.
Several months ago, a North Carolina superior court judge ruling on a claim brought under the Racial Justice Act determined that racial discrimination occurred in death penalty trials across the State over a multi-year period. The judge’s findings should trouble everyone who is committed to a justice system based on fairness, integrity, and equal protection under the law. Faced with these findings, the Republican majority in the General Assembly could have tried to strengthen our efforts to fix the flaws in our system. Instead, they chose to turn a blind eye to the problem and eviscerate the Racial Justice Act. Willfully ignoring the pernicious effects of discrimination will not make those problems go away.
It is simply unacceptable for racial prejudice to play a role in the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina.”
And from the ACLU of NC —
Gov. Bev Perdue has just vetoed SB 416, a bill that would gut the historic Racial Justice Act.
Please help preserve the Racial Justice Act by contacting the legislators listed below and urging them to sustain the governor's veto of SB 416!
SB 416 would effectively repeal the Racial Justice Act, which allows death-row inmates to appeal their sentences and receive life without parole if they can prove that race was a significant factor in their sentence.
Please help preserve the Racial Justice Act by contacting the legislators listed below and urging them to sustain the governor's veto of SB 416!
Rep. William D. Brisson (D-Bladen, Cumberland) 919-733-5772 or William.Brisson@ncleg.net
Rep. Dewey L. Hill (D-Brunswick, Columbus) 919-733-5830 or Dewey.Hill@ncleg.net
Rep. Bill Owens (D-Camden, Currituck, Pasquotank, Tyrrell) 919-733-0010 or Bill.Owens@ncleg.net
SB 416 has been advertised as an amendment to the Racial Justice Act, but in reality it would effectively repeal the Racial Justice Act by requiring courts to ignore mountains of statistical evidence showing racial bias in the capital punishment system that sentenced a defendant unless he also had evidence of a smoking gun - like a racist statement or associational membership by the prosecutor.