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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Bathroom Segregation Now, Bathroom Segregation Forever!

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 8:26 AM

Greetings and salutations, fellow Friday enthusiasts! Let’s jump right in.  1. Bathroom segregation now, bathroom segregation forever.  So House Speaker Tim Moore, who has a long history of hating on the gays, has decided that no, North Carolina will not answer the Department of Justice on HB 2 by the Monday deadline.  The department sent state leaders a letter Wednesday saying that the law violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. Those laws ban employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on...

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Monday, May 2, 2016

The Morning Roundup: In Which the NCGOP Ditches #NeverTrump for #OKFineTrump

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2016 at 8:48 AM

Good Monday morning, fellow worker bees. As you make your way back to the mine, here are some stories we’ve been watching. But first, if you haven’t already, you really need to check out Mandy Locke’s ongoing series in The News & Observer. Locke, one of the best investigative reporters around, is digging into the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. It’s not pretty. Here is part 1 and part 2. Onward.  1. N.C. Republicans impeach Hasan Harnett. Harnett, the NCGOP’s first African-American chairman and a tea party favorite, was deposed Saturday at a meeting of the party’s executive committee.  The North Carolina Republican...

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Friday, April 29, 2016

The Morning Roundup: McCrory Can’t Believe We’re Talking About This

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 8:16 AM

Beleaguered by the still-mounting HB 2 backlash, Governor McCrory sought out some friendlier quarters, this time Fox News’s The Kelly File. As has become Republican practice, host Megyn Kelly didn’t talk about all the controversial things HB 2 did—eliminating workplace discrimination lawsuits, overriding living wage ordinances, etc.—instead choosing to focus on the only issue they think matters (and have not-terrible polling on): which bathroom transgender people decide to use.  Kelly pressed McCrory several times on the rhetoric surrounding HB2. "What is the fear about the transgender situation in the bathrooms?" she asked. "Mine is not a fear," McCrory responded....

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Orange County Follows Durham’s Lead, Introduces Juvenile Diversion Program; Other N.C. Counties May Follow

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 11:30 AM

North Carolina is the worst place in the country to be arrested as a teenager. A draconian state law dictates that sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds picked up for misdemeanors as frivolous as littering or marijuana possession are considered adults in the eyes of the criminal justice system. Every year, thousands of North Carolina teenagers start their lives with a criminal record—and all the hardships that entails—because of dumb mistakes they made before they were even allowed to vote or serve their country. This isn't true anywhere else in America besides New York, which bests N.C. by having a "reverse waiver" provision...

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Morning Roundup: “Some Have Called Our State an Embarrassment”

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2016 at 8:20 AM

Happy Wednesday, all. Except it’s not a happy Wednesday for Pat McCrory. Actually, it hasn’t been a very happy week for him at all—ever since the legislature rammed through and he signed HB 2—what with the denunciations from business leaders, the protests in the streets, condemnations from various city officials, the “fact-check” that went nowhere, and the decisions of several state and municipal governments to ban publicly funded travel to North Carolina.  So Pat, under fire, released this five-minute video yesterday, railing against “politicians who have exploited differences and divided people”—by which he presumably does not mean the Republicans who...

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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Morning Roundup: The Legislature’s About to Blow a Bunch of Money to Put LGBTs in Their Place (Sigh)

Posted By on Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 8:45 AM

1. The potty protectors are back on the case. Two weeks after publicly mulling a special session to override Charlotte’s new LGBT ordinance and then deciding not to—these things cost $42,000 a day, and the legislature will be back in session April 25 in any event—Republican lawmakers announced that they will likely convene a special session this week after all. (Not coincidentally, some Bible-thumpers held a fearmongering rally last week demanding that the legislature do just that.) Per WRAL:  Leaders of the state House expect to return to Raleigh this week to respond to Charlotte's transgender nondiscrimination ordinance. Last...

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Friday, March 18, 2016

This Week in the Carolina Comeback: Unemployment Shoots Up All Over the State

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 12:52 PM

The "Carolina comeback" stalled earlier this year, according to the January unemployment numbers the state reported this morning. State officials found that all one hundred North Carolina counties saw a rise in unemployment from its lowest point during the December holiday season.  The state unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, down slightly from 5.9 percent in January 2015 and up from 5.3 percent in December. (The rates aren't seasonally adjusted, which might explain some of the volatility.) A total of 274,460 North Carolina residents found themselves out of work in January 2016.  The highest unemployment rate in January was 15.5...

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

There Are Now Consequences to Leaving Your Dog's Shit on Public Property in Durham

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 12:08 PM

At a Durham City Council work session back in January, a woman approached the podium during the public-comments portion of the meeting and said something about Durham's "poop problem." She was pretty mad. I laughed then, and I laugh now. But that lady gets the last laugh. Last night, the Durham County Board of Commissioners passed unanimously an ordinance making it a finable offense if you don't pick up your dog's shit after it shits and then put the shit in a bag and throw it away. The Herald-Sun covered the meeting, and reporter Lauren Horsch helpfully tweeted out...

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Airing Durham’s Issues—Affordable Housing, Youth Counseling, Immigrant Policing—at Sunday’s Durham CAN Assembly

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 8:33 AM

The pews were full at First Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoon—though not for a church service. Instead, the standing-room-only crowd was there for a pre-election delegates’ assembly for Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations, and Neighborhoods). It was a chance to hear from a variety of community stakeholders about issues important to the city, as well as from candidates in this Tuesday’s election for Durham County Board of Commissioners. As Rev. Mark Anthony Middleton of Abundant Hope Church put it: “Durham CAN doesn’t endorse. We don’t have permanent candidates or allies. But we do have permanent issues.” Three of those issues were...

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Plea to Prioritize Sustainability in Durham Schools—from One of Its Students

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 5:11 PM

Senith Berhane, an eleventh-grade student at Riverside High School, in Durham, says she became interested in environmental issues after viewing An Inconvenient Truth a few years ago. “I legitimately could not sleep at night,” Berhane tells the INDY. “I realized, around the world and within my community, how rapid and extensive climate change was negatively impacting the environment. And I knew I needed to be a part of the change.” Riverside’s engineering department coordinator told Berhane about the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), an organization that educates youth about climate change and gives them opportunities to take action to slow it....

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Pat McCrory to Unironically Host Dinner for Durham's Homeless

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 12:42 PM

Prior to the Carolina Panthers' Super Bowl loss to the Denver Broncos last month, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper made one of those media-friendly "bets" where the loser has to wear the other team's jersey and send over a case of Omaha Steaks or whatever.  The Panthers, and McCrory, lost. As a result, McCrory made this video where he wore a Broncos jersey and announced that Butterball was sending over fifty cases of turkey sausages and turkey burgers to a food shelter in Denver, as well as food shelters in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham. As a...

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Here Is What Happens When a Mild Wintry Mix Crosses into the Middle of North Carolina

Posted By on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 4:57 PM

The Triangle has a, let's say, poor reputation for handling winter weather. That reputation was reinforced last night and today, as a mix of snow and sleet hit the region. Dozens of schools closed, government offices delayed opening, and a lot of people got into car wrecks. The most recent WRAL report says three hundred automotive collisions occurred in the Triangle (plus over a thousand statewide) between midnight and 10:30 a.m. It's safe to say there have been several more in the hours since.  Granted, sleet makes the roads slick, but for context, this is how much snow is in my...

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Inspection Finds Few Violations At The Durham County Jail

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 4:53 PM

The recent death of a 29-year-old inmate has drawn fresh attention to what's going on inside the Durham County Detention Facility. Critics and protesters have demanded a community-led investigation of the jail, citing letters from inmates who describe unsafe and unsanitary conditions.  It remains to be seen whether that will come to pass. Today, though, the Durham County Sheriff's Office announced that the Durham County Department of Public Health conducted its annual inspection of the jail last week, on February 5. Its verdict? Things at the jail are pretty much normal.  The inspection was precipitated by a citizen complaint made on...

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Talking with Elisa Benitez, community organizer for Alerta Migratoria NC, about last week’s ICE raid in Durham

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 2:01 PM

Before leaving for school at Durham’s Riverside High School last Thursday morning, 19-year-old Wildin David Guillen Acosta went to warm up the car. He returned inside to grab his bookbag. When he came back out, plainclothes Immigrations Customs Enforcement agents were waiting for him. He was thrown to the ground, arrested, and hauled away. He’s currently being held at Stewart Detention Center, in Lumpkin, Georgia, awaiting deportation. Wildin arrived in the United States in June 2014. He was a minor at the time, seeking to escape gang violence in his home of Honduras. Arrested at the border, he was delivered...

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Friday, January 29, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Ted Cruz hates Trump, Tim Moore hates teachers, the economy hates us all

Posted By on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 at 8:47 AM

Happy Friday! So who won last night’s Republican debate? The guy who didn’t show? Or maybe one of the losers on the undercard? Or maybe moderator Megyn Kelly, who really rode this “Donald is afraid of me” thing for all it was worth? Or was it, you know, Hillary Clinton, who looks better and better the longer the Republicans’ once-vaunted “deep bench” is out on display.  Or did Trump’s absence merely show that, minus his pomposity and bellicosity, this collection of vacuous “thinkers” and wannabe populists is not only terrifying, but also boring?  Hmmm. Here’s some video of Ted Cruz...

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Durham County Department of Public Health will investigate death of 29-year-old inmate

Posted By on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Last Tuesday, Matthew LaMont McCain, a 29-year-old inmate in the Durham County Detention Facility, died in his cell. The Durham County Sheriff's Office reported that a member of the detention staff found McCain "unresponsive and immediately performed life-saving measures. The detention staff and medical personnel performed CPR until EMS arrived. Paramedics were unable to resuscitate Mr. McCain and he was pronounced dead at the detention facility." The Durham advocacy group Inside-Outside Alliance, a vocal critic of the jail's policies, has suggested on its site that McCain's death was the result of medical neglect. The group is in frequent communication with inmates.  Today, the Durham County...

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Man tasered by Durham police at Harris Teeter no longer faces trespassing charges

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 1:13 PM

Trespassing charges were dropped Wednesday against 24-year-old Deonte Holder, who was tasered by Durham police on Sept. 9 after he refused to leave the Ninth Street Harris Teeter for unspecified reasons. According to Bull City Rising, the charges were dismissed after witnesses—employees at the Harris Teeter—failed to show up in court. The arrest story went viral after Durham resident Adrienne Harreveld posted cell phone video of Holder (mistakenly identified as "Deonte Harris" in the BCR blog post, as well as in this TWC News story from September) prone on the floor of the supermarket as cops hovered over him. Holder...

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A little off the top: Durham’s “Canopener Bridge” makes the front page of The Wall Street Journal

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 4:25 PM

Schadenfreude is, perhaps, too strong a word to describe that feeling we get when we hear that yet another hapless person behind the steering wheel of a tall truck fell prey to that confounded bridge. After all, we bear no actual malice toward these folks who fail to heed flashing low-bridge warnings about the 11-foot-8 railroad overpass on Durham's Gregson Street, near Brightleaf Square. But we can't help but shake our heads and laugh (while being grateful that no one was gravely hurt) every time a truck top gets violently soda-canned or sheared there. And it happens a lot.  As...

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Durham beginning search for the next police chief

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 10:59 AM

The search for Durham's newest police chief will soon be underway. The city announced Tuesday that it has selected a Durham firm, Development Associates LLC, to lead the search process for outgoing Chief Jose Lopez's replacement. By the city's timetable, national and regional recruitment will stretch into January, with the first candidate recommendations coming late in the month.  Interviews will be held in March and City Manager Tom Bonfield says he hopes to offer the job by early April. The new chief, presumably, would start in May.  Meanwhile, Lopez, whose office has been dogged by charges of racial profiling,...

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Durham Police Department hands out tickets for "good" behavior

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 12:28 PM

After a really dismal couple of years, brimming with allegations of racial profiling, controversial shootings and a police chief being forced out, it seems the Durham Police Department is looking to put out a few good vibes for the moment.  Per Durham Magazine, we learned that city police officers were handing out tickets for "good" behavior on Thursday, in an operation at the pedestrian crosswalk at Geer and Foster streets.  If you were spotted using the crosswalk properly, officers would hand out a coupon for a free cup of coffee at Cocoa Cinnamon.  Kammie Michael, spokeswoman for the Durham Police...

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Report touts benefits for workers and the economy in raising wages for public employees

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 12:54 PM

When Orange County builder Mark Marcoplos told me earlier this month that it's time for a living wage debate, he was on to something.  Orange County's Living Wage Campaign hit the ground running this month, enlisting more than 30 local businesses to agree upfront to pay their employees a "living wage," or about $12.75 per hour in Orange County. Earlier this year, Durham launched its own campaign, guaranteeing workers hourly pay of at least $12.53. And this week, Wake County commissioners agreed to raise the minimum wage for all county workers to a solid $13.50 an hour.  Fittingly, on...

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Less than a year in, the Durham Co-op Market stirs up controversy

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 10:16 AM

It didn't take long for the Durham Co-op Market to find itself some controversy.  About seven months after opening, members of the market's board of directors will consider a vote Sunday to nix the worker-owner shares currently allowed in the co-op's bylaws. Modeled after Orange County's Weaver Street Market, the bylaws grant workers the ability to purchase a separate class of worker shares in the business, which would allow employees who buy in to leverage about 10 percent ownership of the business. The model also guarantees worker representation on the board. The proposed revision would allow workers to purchase...

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Alliance Behavioral Healthcare has imposed sanctions on Family Legacy Mental Health

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 at 10:33 AM

Today, we’ve published an in-depth look at a Durham and Raleigh mental health provider, Family Legacy Mental Health Services, that received almost $3 million in Medicaid money over the last two years. Yet, many of its past and present employees say they haven’t been paid regularly since March. A key question here is how this clinic remains a public mental health provider, despite the fact that the organization that oversees public mental health services in Durham and Wake counties, Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, is aware of these allegations. We received an update from Alliance past deadline yesterday, indicating now that they...

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Durham Chamber of Commerce lauds SCOTUS gay marriage decision

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 11:55 AM

Creative Commons LicenseBack in 2012, the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce was the first North Carolina business group to declare its opposition to Amendment One, a short-lived, voter-approved ban on gay marriage. Fittingly in 2015, the group is celebrating the Supreme Court's epic decision last week to order that gay marriage be permitted across the country. On Tuesday, Chamber Chairman Bill Brian described discriminatory policies such as Amendment One as "obstructions to talent attraction." The chairman's statement echoed those of major business leaders such as Apple, Facebook, Google and Coca-Cola, all of which officially stated their support for marriage equality...

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Walker, Price and Butterfield winning in Congressional races

Posted By on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 9:34 PM

Early results in Congress races showed mixed results for both parties Tuesday night. As expected, longtime U.S. Rep. David Price was on course to easily best his opponent Tuesday, picking up 75 percent of the vote in heavily left-leaning U.S. House District 4 with most precincts reporting. His underdog opponent, Republican Paul Wright, had mustered just 24 percent of the vote. Incumbent Democrat G.K. Butterfield, a voting rights attorney from Wilson, appeared bound for victory against his GOP challenger, Sampson County accountant Arthur Rich, in the race for U.S. House District 1. With more than half of precincts reporting, Butterfield...

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