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Friday, May 29, 2009

University Apartments in Durham sold to Alabama company

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 4:48 PM

University Apartments on Duke University Road has been sold to Capstone Development, a Birmingham, Ala.-based company that focuses exclusively on developing and renovating student housing. University Associates, which is part of the real estate firm, Reilly Mortgage Group of McLean, Va., sold the property. Wells Fargo purchased Reilly Mortgage Group in 2006. RPM has been the management company. The Durham County Register of Deeds has no record of the sale, but a Capstone spokesman confirmed the company has closed on the four-acre site. According to Durham County tax records, the property was most recently assessed in January at a value...

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Illness at Evoo explained

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Food safety inspectors have pinpointed the problem that sickened patrons at Raleigh's Evoo restaurant last month: Anchovies used in a Caesar salad dressing. At least 17 diners fell ill at the restaurant and in a nearby home, summoning multiple emergency medical teams to the scene. Test results by federal Food and Drug Administration (PDF, 228 KB) revealed poisonous levels of histamine, an agent resulting from the decomposition of fish muscles, which causes nausea, vomiting and allergic-like reactions very quickly after exposure. The resulting illness is called scombroid food poisoning, and is most commonly associated with anchovies and sardines, as well as tuna, bluefish and...

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Groups protest Racial Justice Act amendment

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM

This morning, Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), N.C. Coalition for a Moratorium, the N.C. NAACP and others gathered to call for the removal of an amendment to the state’s Racial Justice Act that would effectively restart executions in the state. The groups highlighted the popular support across the state for a racial justice bill, and advocated a “clean” bill without the death penalty amendment. Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) introduced the offending amendment, which would resolve several legal hurdles to the resumption of executions. The demonstrators' press release hkonj-press-release ,which was delivered in front of the General Assembly building,...

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

HK on J to protest Racial Justice Act amendments

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 12:40 PM

For the first time ever, the N.C. Senate has passed the Racial Justice Act--a measure that previously failed after the Senate refused to vote on the bill. The historic legislation would prevent the execution of defendants who can prove race was was an underlying factor in the decision to seek, or impose, the death penalty at the time of their trial. However, death-penalty reform advocates are dismayed at a Senate amendment that seeks to re-start executions, on hold since August 2006, by resolving several legal issues before the courts. "What they're trying to do is make this an execution bill,...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Missouri set to execute inmate tonight

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 4:22 PM

Update (5/20/09): Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon denied clemency shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, and the state executed Dennis Killicorn shortly after midnight today. Updated, with reference to HB 1203 (Felony Murder), below. For those following the mercurial advancements of the death penalty in North Carolina (updates here and here), Missouri's story is a reminder of what's at stake. Stories in The New York Times and St. Louis Post-Dispatch describe Missouri lawmakers' reluctance to end that state's court-imposed moratorium, in place one year longer than North Carolina's de facto moratorium--even as the state prepares to execute an inmate shortly after midnight...

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Bonfield proposes FY09-10 budget for Durham

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2009 at 10:41 PM

At tonight's regular City Council meeting, Durham City Manager Tom Bonfield proposed a $344 million budget for Fiscal Year 2009-10--a decrease of roughly $11 million, or 3.1 percent, from last year's budget. You can view his Power Point presentation, and accompanying letter, at the City's new budget Web site. The most controversial aspect of Bonfield's plan is the elimination of 113 jobs, including 35 current employees (the rest are unfilled positions). That represents a 4.7 percent cut to the City's workforce of 2,400, at a total savings of roughly $6.6 million. In addition to job cuts, Bonfield proposed freezing most...

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Wake Co. judge dismisses case against execution protocol; death penalty nears in N.C.

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens has issued an order (PDF, 896 KB) upholding the method North Carolina used to approve its death-penalty protocol, removing one of the final hurdles to resuming executions in the state. (See “De facto death penalty moratorium may end,” Independent Weekly, May 13, 2009.) The order rejects an appeal, filed by five death-row inmates, charging that the N.C. Council of State--a council of statewide elected officials--violated the Administrative Procedures Act when it approved the protocol in a single meeting closed to public comment. Stephens' ruling overturns an earlier decision, by Office of Administrative Hearings...

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Burr's '10 opponent? It won't be Cooper

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2009 at 12:55 PM

Attorney General Roy Cooper will not run in 2010 for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Richard Burr, WRAL is reporting. Democrats will have to find another candidate. (Update: Doesn't change a thing, says PPP's Tom Jensen. Maybe Cooper was the Democrats' strongest choice as of now, but Kay Hagan's campaign shows what can happen when the right newcomer takes on a vulnerable incumbent. Also: The new state Democratic chair, David Young, would like it to be known that he's on the case -- and yes, recruiting candidates is how he'll be judged. His statement is  below the fold....

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

N.C. Senate passes Racial Justice Act

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2009 at 11:48 AM

By a 36-10 vote, the N.C. Senate has passed the Racial Justice Act (SB 461). The landmark bill would prevent the execution of defendants who can prove race was an underlying factor in the decision to seek, or impose, the death penalty at the time of their trial. (For background on the bill, see "De facto death penalty moratorium may end," Independent Weekly, May 13, 2009.) The bill will now move to the House, which is considering a similar version today. "Let’s not be naïve. has been a factor, at times, in the past, and we need to recognize...

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

N.C. House will vote today on deregulating phone service

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Consumer protection language that was recently added to House Bill 1180, the "Consumer Voice and Investment Act," was completely stripped from that bill in the House Public Utilities Committee on Tuesday. The cable and telephone industry are lobbying for this bill as they roll out new triple-play services that bundle telephone, TV and high-speed Internet services. This bill would allow them to raise rates with effectively no regulation. Language proposed by Rep. Bill Faison would have exempted from this deregulation any area in which fewer than 90 percent of households have reliable wireless service and/or broadband Internet service. (see section...

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jordan Lake Rules pass House easily

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 8:12 PM

By a margin of 106-8, the N.C. House of Representatives passed HB 239 (“Restore Water Quality in Jordan Reservoir”), which will now head for a vote in the Senate. The expected wrangling over pollution controls didn't happen on the House floor today, so look for an intensified lobbying effort to water down regulations on the Senate side, in advance of a final vote. The bill that passed is identical to the version approved yesterday by the House Judiciary I committee, which maintains critical pollution control measures, and reduces the cleanup timelines proposed in earlier drafts. The bill--originally titled "Disapprove Jordan...

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Racial Justice Act clears legislative hurdle

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 1:17 PM

See updates below. The North Carolina Racial Justice Act (HB 472/SB 461), which would prevent the execution of defendants who were sentenced to death on the basis of race, cleared the House Judiciary I committee today, and is headed for a house floor vote. Meanwhile, a Senate version of the bill will be voted on in the Senate Judiciary I committee tonight. Rep. Paul Luebke (D-Durham), one of the bill’s sponsors, said in an interview that the the Racial Justice Act, and other death penalty reforms moving through the Legislature, represent “important steps in making the death penalty a fair...

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Jordan Lake Rules headed to the House floor

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 2:24 AM

Following approval by the House Judiciary I Committee, HB 239 (“Restore Water Quality in Jordan Reservoir”)--which modifies portions of the N.C. Environmental Management Commission's strategy to clean up Jordan Lake--is on its way to the House floor. But the bill's sponsors, who attended Monday's meeting, warned that further battles remain. "I suspect there'll be changes to this," bill sponsor Rep. Pryor Gibson (D-Anson) told the committee. Committee Chair Deborah Ross (D-Wake) confirmed that environmentalists were happy with the changes  from last week's version of the bill, including shorter timelines to implement pollution controls, by asking, "Are there nods out there?"...

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Jordan Lake protections: from 'watered down' to squeaky clean?

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2009 at 6:58 PM

Just in time for next Monday's appearance before the House Judiciary I Committee, the Bill Formerly Known as "Disapprove Jordan Lake Rules" (HB 239) has been freshly minted "Restore Water Quality in Jordan Reservoir." The original version of the bill would have done just the opposite, by rejecting the N.C. Environmental Management Commission's strategy to restore the polluted lake to federal Clean Water Act compliance. Earlier drafts of a compromise bill that the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources ironed out last week would have allowed the EMC's rules to go forward, but weakened critical pollution controls, and delayed...

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

The next telecom battles at the legislature

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2009 at 4:55 PM

Dogged grassroots activism, organized by the City of Wilson's blogging public affairs manager Brian Bowman, Greensboro politico Jay Ovittore at StoptheCap.com, and a network of interested geeks on Twitter (#stopthecap), beat back the anti-muni broadband bill into study committees in both the state House and Senate this week. But other broadband-related issues are still under consideration at the General Assembly, and for now, they're flying under the radar -- despite backing by the same telecom industry-friendly groups. The first involves a statewide map that promises to show exactly where broadband Internet service is and isn't available. That map, expected within...

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Anti-muni broadband bill will go to study committee

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Updated, see below. More than 100 people—citizens, lobbyists, elected officials and members of the press—attended Wednesday morning's meeting of the House Public Utilities Committee. Those rallied by the Americans for Prosperity, sponsors of the tax day "tea parties," wore red shirts to show their support for the bill. Opponents wore yellow stickers that said, "Save NC Broadband." Several hoped to speak about House Bill 1252, which would have required local governments that offer Internet and other telecom services to tack on to customer fees the difference in the amount it would cost a private company to provide the service and...

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Break out the jiggers in Chatham

Posted By on Wed, May 6, 2009 at 2:51 PM

Chatham County voters just said yes to mixed drinks this week. With 19 percent turnout, a referendum that was the only issue in a special countywide election passed 65 percent to 35 percent, according to complete but unofficial results from the Chatham County Board of Election. The change, which takes effect immediately, means that restaurants and bars in Pittsboro, Siler City and throughout the county can serve hard liquor by the drink. Previously, only beer and wine were permitted. PACs led by local elected officials and supported by business groups including the chamber of commerce raised funds in support of...

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Modified version of Jordan Lake compromise clears enviro committee

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2009 at 4:43 PM

A bill that would delay state-mandated efforts to clean up Jordan Lake until 2017 but preserve much of their pollution-reduction goals cleared the House Environment and Natural Resources committee today. “People upstream don’t want to do a thing. People downstream want a rule exactly the way it was,” said bill sponsor Pryor Gibson (D-Anson), after rubbing his eyes dramatically at the lectern. “As imperfect as it may be … it’s time for this bill to move forward.” The unanimous committee vote sent the compromise version of the bill to the House Judiciary 1 committee, and, presuming it passes there, eventually...

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Anti-muni broadband bill goes before House commmittee tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2009 at 2:38 PM

The battle over municipal broadband Internet services continues tomorrow, May 6, when the N.C. House Public Utilities Committee will be the second to consider House Bill 1252, which would severely limit the ability of local governments to provide broadband Internet and other telecommunications services. The committee meets at 10 a.m. in Legislative Building room 1228. A vote is expected. The North Carolina Cable and Telecommunications Association has been running push-polls across the state to generate support for the bill, which it says will "level the playing field" by forcing municipal service providers to add fees and meet other requirements when...

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Billboard asks "Why Go to Durham?" Billboard opponents have the answer.

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2009 at 2:09 PM

An observant reader sent the Indy a photograph of this billboard on U.S. 15-501 near the Durham-Person county line. Fairway, which is wooing Durham officials and residents to ease the city and county's strict billboard ordinance, owns this ad on stilts that reads "Why go to Durham?" Well, if you're bringing more billboards to Durham, opponents would say, then stay home....

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Jordan Lake compromise scheduled for Tuesday vote

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2009 at 5:00 PM

After seeking to block a state-mandated effort to clean up Jordan Lake, a group of legislators have proposed a compromise bill that would severely limit pollution-reduction goals for the impaired drinking-water source. Introduced last week in the House Environment and Natural Resources committee, and set for a vote during Tuesday’s committee hearing at noon, the substitute bill would reduce pollution controls by more than three-quarters in the most impaired section of the lake, and delay critical protections until 2017. “These provisions are totally inadequate for the restoration of water quality. It would mean the lake would never actually be cleaned...

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