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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Allegations of Racial Mistreatment in City's Water Management Department Raise Old Concerns

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 11:27 AM

In 2014, allegations of employee mistreatment and racial disparities in  the Durham’s water management department were first brought to light when a group of former employees, who said they were wrongly terminated or disciplined while working for the city, went to the Human Relations Commission. The HRC then spent months investigating the department, including interviewing former employees and having former employees come speak to the commission. In November 2015 the HRC sent nine recommendations to the city council and city manager, which included requiring racial equity training, a review of disciplinary action, and increasing the scope and accessibility of...

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Durham Ponders Possible Pot Enforcement Priorities with Push From FADE

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 6:34 PM

As some states continue to deprioritize, or even decriminalize marijuana, Thursday the Drug Enforcement Administration denied bids from Rhode Gov. Gina Raimondo, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and a New Mexico nurse practitioner Bryan Krumm to loosen up federal restrictions on marijuana.  Marijuana, as reaffirmed, is a Schedule I drug.  The Controlled Substance Act puts it in the same classification as heroin and LSD.  The North Carolina Controlled Substance Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule VI drug.  Schedule VI drugs are defined as those with "no currently accepted medical use in the United States, or a relatively low potential for abuse." That...

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Durham Co-op Continues to Sell Driscoll's Berries, Tells Customers to "Shop Your Values"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 5:18 PM

After getting questions about whether or not the Durham Co-op would continue to stock Driscoll's berries at the store, the market issued a statement telling shoppers to "shop your values" because in order to keep berries in the store it'd have to keep Driscoll's on the shelf. The Co-op was asked to boycott the berry distributor in light of some not-so-great farm labor practices at two of its partner farms.  "Farm labor is an important issue in the current food market, and it’s one that deserves our attention," the statement read. "However, it is also a very complex issue that...

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With Land Purchased, Scrap Exchange Can Move Ahead on Expansion Plans

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 12:32 PM

The Scrap Exchange's plan to buy all ten acres of land where the Lakewood Shopping Center and expand its reuse empire is one step closer to becoming a reality this week.  This morning the reuse art center announced on its Facebook that the purchase was made—ten acres, 82,000 square feet of leasable space—for $2.5 million.  Two years ago when the Scrap Exchange moved its operations to the old move theater in the shopping center, Ann Woodward—the nonprofits executive director— told the INDY she wanted to create a reuse district, much like on in New Orleans where artists could set up...

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wildin Acosta Set to Be Released from Immigration Jail Pending Bond Payment; Fundraiser Underway

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 4:05 PM

A hearing in the immigration case of Riverside High School student Wildin Acosta, scheduled for Wednesday morning at Stewart Immigration Court, in Lumpkin, Georgia, has been canceled, Acosta's advocates tell the INDY.  "Instead, the judge ordered a $10,000 bond for him," says Elisa Benitez of Alerta Migratoria NC. "He has to meet the full bond. But if he does, he's out."  Acosta, a nineteen-year-old Honduran immigrant living in Durham, was taken into custody by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in late January. He's been there ever since. (Read our piece on Acosta's situation here.)  In July, the Board of...

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Planning Department Says Durham County GOP Headquarters in Violation of Zoning Rules

Posted By on Mon, Aug 8, 2016 at 1:44 PM

Last week the INDY questioned whether or not the Durham County Republican Party was operating illegally out of a house on the 200 block of North Briggs Avenue. At that time, Steve Medlin, the director of the City-County Planning Department, told the INDY said the house was “most likely a zoning enforcement violation.” The house the GOP is using is zoned Residential Urban 5(2), a zoning designation that would allow for mostly single-family and two-family residential units. There are some other uses allowed, including family care homes, group living facilities, schools, museums, and government facilities.  But those additional uses require the property owner to...

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Charges Dropped in Controversial Durham Marijuana Bust; One Arresting Officer No Longer with DPD

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 11:06 AM

On the evening of April 8, several officers from the Durham Police Department's HEAT (High Enforcement Abatement Team) unit arrived at a residence at 3417 Misty Pine Avenue, in Durham's Bragtown neighborhood. They were there, DPD later stated, to conduct a "knock-and-talk," an investigative technique performed by police when criminal activity is suspected but there is not enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. Khadir Cherry, a resident of the home, had been arrested four days previously for selling marijuana. Immediately upon arriving at the residence, an officer with the HEAT unit, J.M. Foster, stated that he smelled marijuana. The HEAT...

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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 8:01 AM

1. The Speech If you missed Trump’s RNC acceptance speech last night, you can find the text of the speech here; but really, to get the whole effect, you need to watch the video—seventy-six minutes (that’s six minutes longer than Bill Clinton in 1996 and the longest convention speech in modern history) of an angry old man yelling about how terrible everything is and what a dystopian hellscape America has become and how Syrian refugees and Mexican immigrants are going to murder your children while Hillary Clinton watches and cheers.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/us/politics/donald-trump-rnc-speech.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=span-abc-region®ion=span-abc-region&WT.nav=span-abc-region Americans watching this address tonight have seen the...

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Friday, July 15, 2016

This Durham 'Day of Rage' Rumor Is a Bunch of Fearmongering

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 1:33 PM

There is a rumor going around, stoked by conservative media outlets, that a national "Day of Rage" is planned this evening in thirty-seven American cities, including Durham, in response to the recent police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. NC Team Trump, for example, is all ginned up about this story, because it seems like an excuse to call the Black Lives Matter movement a terrorist organization. There is a seed of truth here. An internet group (or person, or something) called TheAnonMessage recently posted this call-to-action video to YouTube, announcing a "Day of Rage" on July 15. It has...

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Carolina Theatre Partnering with New Promoter

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 11:34 PM

The Carolina Theatre has had a rough year. In December, the historic venue—which is owned by the city of Durham, which in turn pays an annual subsidy of about $600,000 to the nonprofit Carolina Theatre of Durham to operate it—announced that it had run up about a million-dollar deficit. Since then, CEO Bob Nocek, COO Aaron Bare, and talent booker Jared McEntire have all exited stage left, and the city has agreed to commit up to $600,000 (contingent upon matching donations) to help bail the theater out. Dan Berman is now running the joint, trying to steer it back to calmer...

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Friday, July 1, 2016

A Big Chain is Coming to Ninth Street in Durham and It Serves Waffles

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 10:52 AM

Waffle House, the all-day-every-day Georgia restaurant chain, is one of the top places to eat breakfast food while trying not to think too hard about what life must be like for the children at the next table being screamed at by their tweaker mom. In recent years, Waffle House has been making a push to expand near college campuses. It's going for something younger, cuter, and cuddlier. Since 2013, there's been a location on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Now, it looks like Duke students will have quick access to twenty-four-hour hashbrowns. The Triangle Business Journal reports that Waffle House has...

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Friday, June 17, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Lebron Doesn’t Quit, Bernie Almost Does

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 7:45 AM

Happy Friday, everyone. Let’s make this short and sweet and get to the weekend already.  1. Bernie Sanders didn’t quite concede last night.  The Vermont senator didn’t officially quit or endorse Hillary Clinton, but in a message to supporters released last night, he said he’ll soon be joining the fight to defeat Trump (who, frankly, is doing a pretty bang-up job defeating himself, but the more, the merrier, I guess). “Our vision for the future of this country is not some fringe idea,” he said.  Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Thursday in an address to his supporters that he...

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Durham's Lamont Lilly is Running for Vice President (of the United States)

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 11:42 AM

In February 2015, the INDY recognized Durham's Lamont Lilly with a Citizen Award for his activism and journalism in the interest of advancing civil rights. At the time, Lilly was beginning to travel the country for speaking tours, protests, and political rallies, discussing issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, the criminal justice system, and the negative effects of American imperialism. Lilly's profile has continued to grow outside Durham to the point that, come November, you can vote for him for Vice President of the United States. Monica Moorehead, the Workers World Party candidate for President, has selected Lilly as...

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Durham to Gradually Bump Minimum Wage for City Employees to $15 per Hour

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2016 at 7:11 PM

The Durham City Council this afternoon unanimously approved a motion to raise the minimum wage for full-time city employees to $15 an hour, the Herald-Sun reports.  The council had multiple funding possibilities brought to them on Thursday during a special fiscal year 2016-17 meeting, but decided on a model that would have all full-time employees at a $15 minimum by fiscal year 2019.  The plan the council landed on would begin in fiscal year 2017 and continue through fiscal year 2019. However, it would require the city to decrease the average "pay for performance" raises from 4 percent to...

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Monday, June 6, 2016

GoTriangle to Expand Service From Durham to Carrboro

Posted By on Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 8:27 AM

Currently, GoTriangles's #405 commuter bus runs to and from Durham Station and UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill.  Come August, though, that baby will run further west, into Carrboro.  “We’re pleased to extend service to Carrboro, giving passengers a one seat ride to and from Durham,” GoTriangle general manager Jeff Mann says in a release. “Carrboro has been a great partner in developing this service and I expect the peak commuting hour service will be well received.” The extension is expected to cost $650,000 its first year, and will be paid for using funds from voter-approved sales tax revenues. No word yet...

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Durham's Got a Lot of Rabies Cases Lately

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 8:56 AM

I don't mean to alarm you, but there was a wild, rabid fox roaming around Durham last weekend, biting people (and dogs) and giving them rabies. The fox is now dead. But, as the Durham County Sheriff's Office notes, there were three confirmed cases of rabies in Durham during the month of May.  On May 1, two little doggies "found a dead raccoon and brought the animal back to their home located in the 2300 block of Glendale Avenue," according to the DCSO. Those dogs got rabies. On May 16, a man on Tavistock Drive found a dead raccoon on...

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What's in Store for Bicycling in Durham? A Quick Chat with Bryan Poole, Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner for the City

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 1:05 PM

The City of Durham is in the process of updating its bicycle and pedestrian plan. That means right now is a good time to formally complain about the lack of sidewalks in your neighborhood or the lack of bike lanes on your route to work. There are a couple ways to do this. One is to head over to the Durham Bike+Walk Implementation Plan site, where you can identify and comment on specific biking/pedestrian issues by drawing on an online map. You can also view others’ comments. For example, at Roxboro and Trinity, a citizen has noted: “2 lanes...

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Some Answers—but Still More Questions—in the Officer-Involved Shooting of La'Vante Biggs

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 4:17 PM

Yesterday, Durham Country District Attorney Roger Echols announced that he had found no probable cause to charge any Durham police officers in the September 2015 death of La'Vante Biggs.  Biggs, clearly suicidal and holding what was later revealed to be a BB gun, was shot and killed following negotiations with DPD officers that lasted about fifty minutes. Four officers fired a total of twelve shots at Biggs, five of which entered his body.  Last month, Biggs's family stood outside the Angier Avenue house where their son was shot and demanded answers.  "I want to know why the police treated my...

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ben and Jerry's Debuted its New Flavor at North Carolina Central University Today

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2016 at 2:02 PM

Both Ben and Jerry were in Durham this morning. On the campus of North Carolina Central University, the ice-cream impresarios announced their Vermont-based company's latest flavor: Empower Mint, a blend of peppermint ice cream, fudge brownies, and fudge swirls.  Empower Mint is part of a larger effort the company is making this summer to register voters in states where voting rights have been rolled back. North Carolina is one such state.  "The biggest fraud of all is the idea that voter fraud exists," co-founder Ben Cohen told a rain-soaked crowd at the Greek Bowl, adding that there have been just two...

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Pedestrian-Friendly Art Projects Coming to Downtown Durham

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2016 at 12:02 PM

Last week, the Durham Arts Council was awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The cash, which will arrive in the fall (along with another $100,000 in state and local matching funds), is headed for a parking deck on the northwest corner of Ramseur and Corcoran. It’s not going to cure downtown’s current parking woes, but it will almost certainly improve downtown’s aesthetic profile. We called up Durham Arts Council executive director Sherry DeVries on Friday for a little more info. So, this grant is connected to a larger plan for downtown Durham? Yes, the SmART...

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Friday, May 13, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Pat McCrory, Bully Fighter

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 8:32 AM

Another day, another round of HB 2 news.  1. The feds won’t cut off our funding (yet).  Even though the Department of Justice is suing the state for violating the Civil Rights Act, the White House has announced that it will not defund North Carolina while the lawsuits are in progress.  North Carolina won’t lose billions in federal education money while the Department of Justice and state leaders spar over House Bill 2 in court, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday. The department sent state leaders a letter last week saying that HB2 violates the Civil Rights Act...

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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Human Relations Commission Recommends Changes to Bull City Connector

Posted By on Thu, May 5, 2016 at 8:41 AM

Back in February, representatives from community organization SpiritHouse addressed Durham's Human Relations Commission about Duke-centric route alterations that had been made to the Bull City Connector, Durham's free bus that services downtown, Ninth Street, and Duke. Among other things, the new route cut service to Durham Station, a particularly important hub for those who rely on public transportation. The gist of their complaints was that the new route catered too much to Duke students and faculty at the expense of lower-income Durham residents in areas like east Durham and northeast central Durham.  Representatives from GoTriangle noted at the time that Duke...

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Cerelyn Speaks: The New Durham Police Chief's First Press Conference

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2016 at 3:20 PM

Incoming Durham police chief Cerelyn "CJ" Davis held her first Bull City press conference Monday morning. It contained about as much specifics as a Bill Belichick post-game press conference. Swap "one game at a time" for "establish strong community-police relations" and you get the picture.  If you trained your ears, there were some faint notes of detail. Asked about the problem of Durham police officers leaving the force at rising rates, Davis cited "low-hanging-fruit" incentives that keep officers happy without costing the force a lot of money.  "I'll be looking at opportunities to improve morale through equipment needs, scheduling changes,...

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Update: Cerelyn Davis Will Be the Next Durham Police Chief

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 7:02 AM

WSOC in Charlotte is reporting that Mike Smathers was not offered the job of Durham police chief. Smathers, a major in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, was one of two finalists for the position, vacated last year by Jose Lopez.  The other candidate is Cerelyn Davis, the deputy chief in the Atlanta Police Department. Presuming she has not withdrawn her candidacy, it seems fair to conclude that Davis will be the next chief of the Durham Police Department. (We have an e-mail out to the city's public affairs office, and will update when we hear back.)  Davis started out as an...

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New Details Emerge About Controversial Durham Drug Bust

Posted By on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 at 3:45 PM

Last Friday evening, officers from the Durham Police Department's HEAT (High Enforcement Abatement Team) unit entered a residence at 3417 Misty Pine Avenue and made several arrests. The incident was caught on video by Vera McGriff, who owns the home and was among those arrested. The video, which now has nearly 200,000 views online, depicts a chaotic scene that suggests the officers' actions were overly aggressive.  Today, McGriff released a statement about the incident.  "We were subject to the physical assault and terrorizing actions from a gang of police officers that included assaults with batons, an officer's gun, tasing and...

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