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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NCCU law alum implores dean, faculty to oppose Pope-funded constitutional law center

Posted by on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 6:02 PM

NCCU School of Law
  • NCCU School of Law

Shortly after reading the news that the N.C. Central University law school could potentially host a constitutional law institute funded by conservative politico Art Pope, law school alumna Sarah Farber sent a letter to Dean Raymond Pierce, imploring him to vote against the proposal.

An affiliation with the Pope name would tarnish the NCCU brand, Farber wrote in her letter, which she also sent to the Indy.

"I want the Law School to continue its storied tradition of producing not just lawyers, not just legislators, but social engineers who fight for the rights of under-served and under-represented populations. I question the School’s ability to continue that bold mission if its funding is tied to Pope monies, funds that seem to be destined to undermine civil rights," Farber wrote.

Pope, a business owner, former lawmaker and Republican activist, is a major funder of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law. This month, the director of the institute wrote to NCCU proposing that NCICL locate a center on the NCCU campus in Durham. The proposal says Pope's foundation would provide $600,000 start-up money for the center. The proposition also states putting the NCICL center on campus would enhance the constitutional and civil rights concentration at the law school.

An NCCU spokeswoman told the Indy last week that law school faculty are scheduled to vote on the matter in the next few weeks.

Read Farber's entire letter on the jump.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

NCCU law school faculty to vote on whether to accept Pope-funded constitutional law center

Posted by on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 4:47 PM

NCCU School of Law
  • Photo courtesy NCCU
  • NCCU School of Law

An N.C. Central University spokeswoman confirmed late Thursday that the director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law has proposed locating a center at NCCU's law school with money from conservative Raleigh businessman Art Pope.

Faculty at the law school are scheduled to vote on the matter in the next few weeks, said Cindy Fobert, a spokeswoman for the university. (Read a copy of the Aug. 19 proposal, submitted by former N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Bob Orr, the Institute's director (PDF).

The website for the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about and litigating constitutional issues.

The proposal calls for a center that would collaborate with the UNC School of Government, and with NCCU's history department to develop scholarly study of constitutional issues, fitting with the law school's concentration in Civil Rights and Constitutional Law. The proposal suggests that Orr be the center's first executive director. It states that the Pope Foundation would provide $600,000 over three years to pay for a staff position, a part-time executive director and initial programming.

As the Indy and Facing South reported in March, the Institute has received large contributions from the Pope Foundation.

Pope is the treasurer of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law and has served as chair and vice chair of its board of directors. The institute, founded in 2003, has received more than $3.2 million from the Pope Foundation, according to the Indy and Facing South reports.

The news was noted earlier today by progressive blogger James Protzman on BlueNC, who received an anonymous e-mail from a member of the NCCU faculty opposed to the proposal.

Pope, controversial for his involvement in the election of the new conservative majority on the Wake County school board, as well as his affiliation to national conservative groups, has contributed money to several universities through his family's foundation, and through other organizations that he leads.

But his largesse hasn't always been well received. In 2004, after proposing contributions for a new "Studies in Western Civilization" curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill, several university faculty said Pope was trying to use the money to create courses to promote his own right-wing agenda.

Also this week, Orr was appointed by state House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, to the WUNC-TV Board of Trustees. Orr was one of four new appointees.

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Only 75 days to Election Day, Chapel Hill candidates offer downtown views at first forum of campaign season

Posted by on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Candidates for Chapel Hill Town Council and mayor were smitten with affinity for downtown Thursday during the first forum of campaign season.

Sponsored by the Friends of Downtown, a nonprofit advocacy group led by former Town Councilwoman Pat Evans, the debate at the Franklin Hotel focused on parking, panhandling and creating and maintaining local businesses in the Town Center.

  • Courtesy of Town of Chapel Hill
On the council side, nine hopefuls attended, including incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ward, Councilman Matt Czajkowski, who narrowly lost his run for mayor last cycle, and Donna Bell, an appointed member running her first campaign. Familiar challengers Jason Baker, Augustus Cho and Jon DeHart were joined by fresh faces Laney Dale, Carl Schuler and Lee Storrow. They are vying for four seats.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt engaged in an interesting debate with Tim Sookram in the battle for the mayor's office.

Read on to hear it straight from the horses (err, candidates) mouths, in the order that they stumped:

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New UNC-TV trustee, Bob Orr, has ties to right-wing political magnate Art Pope

Posted by on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated the station was WUNC-TV. The correct name is UNC-TV.

WUNC, the radio station, is not under this board and is not affiliated with the TV station. Read about WUNC here.

Two conservatives, including one with direct ties to millionaire and right-wing political magnate Art Pope, have been named to the UNC-TV Board of Trustees, according to WRAL.

UNC-TV is the statewide public television station.

Robert Orr, executive director and senior counsel for the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, was appointed by Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis.

As the Indy and Facing South reported in March, Pope is the institute’s treasurer and has served as chair and vice chair of its board of directors. The institute has received more than $3.2 million from the Pope Foundation since its founding in 1994.

Orr also served as a former N.C. Supreme Court associate justice.

Rick Martinez is a conservative columnist for The News & Observer and is news director of radio station WPTF. He co-hosts a radio program with his wife, Donna Martinez; she worked as an associate editor for the Carolina Journal, the flagship media program ofh the John Locke Foundation. The foundation has received more than $20 million from the Pope Foundation; Pope, who helped launch it in 1990, sits on its board.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, a Republican, appointed Martinez.

There were two other appointments: Jim Goodmon, president of Capitol Broadcasting, was appointed by Gov. Beverly Perdue. Capitol Broadcasting is the parent company of WRAL.

The UNC Board of Governors appointed Sabrina Bengel of New Bern, a travel and tourism executive and a member of the North Carolina Travel & Tourism board.

Correction: The original version of this story stated the station was WUNC-TV. It is UNC-TV, which is different from WUNC, the radio station.

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New track shows westward shift, bigger threat to NC

Posted by on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 11:26 AM


New model runs show a shift west and a much greater likelihood of landfall in the state with tropical storm force winds farther inland. Irene is a Category 3 storm and is intensifying.

Gov. Bev Perdue declared a State of Emergency this morning for Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson counties.

A Hurricane Watch is now in effect for the entire North Carolina coast north of Surf City.

NHC warnings and watches

Via Jeff Masters:

We've all been watching the computer models, which have been steadily moving their forecast tracks for Irene more to the east—first into Florida, then Georgia, then South Carolina, then North Carolina, then offshore of North Carolina—and it seemed that this storm would do what so many many storms have done in the past, brush the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then head out to sea. Irene will not do that. Irene will likely hit Eastern North Carolina, but the storm is going northwards after that, and may deliver an extremely destructive blow to the mid-Atlantic and New England states. I am most concerned about the storm surge danger to North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and the rest of the New England coast.

Cross-posted from Ross's Almanac

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Redistricting driving potential Price-Miller primary

Posted by on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 9:59 AM

When redistricting plans shifted his Raleigh residence into the 4th Congressional District, Congressman Brad Miller, who represents the state’s 13th Congressional District, said he did not envision himself getting into a primary fight with Democratic colleague, David Price of Chapel Hill.

But after taking a hard look at the composition of the new 4th, Miller says he is now strongly considering running for the 4th if the current maps hold. The five-term congressman said neither he nor Price has a right to claim the new district outright. The maps must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Rep. Brad Miller
  • Rep. Brad Miller

“David now represents 33 percent [of the new 4th]. I represent 31,” Miller said, adding that much of the remaining portion includes his hometown of Fayetteville. “This district is more of a jump ball,” he said.

Miller said since the two men share a number of supporters and have a long history of working together, he want to see a “pause” before both sides crank up campaigns, especially since the lines are still tentative.

Price, meanwhile has shown no inclination to pause. He said early on that despite his objections to the Republican-driven redistricting plans, he will seek re-election to the newly redrawn 4th, which stretches from Burlington to Fayetteville. He underscored that in an Aug. 1 email to supporters, which closed with this statement:

“Although there are many unknowns, I want to provide certainty about one thing:my continued commitment to serving the people of the Fourth District.Whatever shape the Fourth District may take, I will stand for re-election, and I will run the kind of grass roots, issues-oriented campaign that you expect from me.”

Miller said he and Price have had a private conversation about the matter but it ended “without resolution.”

Asked about the potential for a 2012 primary, Price’s staff cited the Aug. 1 email. Price, who is seeking his 12th term, has told several news outlets that he intends to run in the 4th.

Miller said he would like to continue to serve in Congress; he wants to continue to push for financial reforms and consumer protections.

“I think my voice would be missed,” he said.

Miller stressed that the districts as drawn are unacceptable. While he expected Republicans to draw more compact Democratic districts around the Triangle, those passed by the General Assembly went much farther than he thought they would.

“The first priority for all of us in the delegation is to fight the map,” Miller says.

While Miller believes there is strong merit to the arguments against the GOP redistricting plan, it is uncertain how actions by the courts or Department of Justice will affect the districts and the next election. Initial responses to the maps may not be known until the end of the year, he says. The Justice Department has a range of remedies, including ordering the court to draw new maps or instructing the Legislature to redraw them.

This could delay the primary date. In 2002, a redistricting fight delayed the May 7 primaries until Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, Miller has been calling supporters in the new 4th, including friends and family in Fayetteville.

Miller says the uncertainty over the race is also likely to affect fundraising since he and Price share many supporters. He says he’s been upfront with donors this cycle that he may run in a different district.

Campaign reports show that as of June 30 Miller has $126,877 in cash on hand and Price has $71,581.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A year on, Chapel Hill still doing prep work on food trucks decision

Posted by on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 3:47 PM

If Chapel Hill were a restaurant, it would be dawdling in the kitchen while diners impatiently waited for their meals.

After 11 months of deliberation, town officials still may not decide on legalization of food trucks until an Oct. 17 public hearing, at the earliest.

Parlez-Vous Crepe owner Jody Argote serves up some fare at Johnnys in Carrboro, where food trucks have been allowed for three years.
  • File photo by Jeremy Lange
  • Parlez-Vous Crepe owner Jody Argote serves up some fare at Johnny's in Carrboro, where food trucks have been allowed for three years.
Trucks flourish in neighboring Durham and Carrboro, but they are less welcome in Chapel Hill, where mobile vendors can operate only if they have special-event permits or if they park on private property with approval from the town planning board.

On Monday, 20 food truck vendors, citizens and politicians attended an informational session during which Chapel Hill Principal Planner Kendal Brown rolled out proposed regulations to govern the eateries on wheels.

Among the key stipulations:
-Trucks would be allowed only on paved, private, commercially zoned parking lots that have at least 10 designated spaces; vendors must have the landowner’s permission.
-Trucks could operate only when the business that regularly uses the lot is closed, and they must be parked 200 feet from the customer entrance of any restaurant.
-In addition, in some districts outside downtown, there could be only one vendor per 100 parking spaces or per acre, with a maximum of two vendors per lot.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Durham City Council postpones any action on 751 South until pending litigation clears

Posted by on Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Facing broad scrutiny and political pressure, Durham’s City Council voted Thursday to postpone any action on the controversial 751 South development until a pending lawsuit on the project is resolved. The lawsuit is scheduled for a November trial date, but could be heard sooner.

Property owners Southern Durham Development had asked the city to extend water and sewer services to the roughly 170-acre site so it could build an estimated 1,300 residences, plus businesses and offices. But according to city attorneys, having an agreement from the city to provide the services could allow the developer to start building, and that could give the company a legal vested interest in the property, which could skew the outcome of the related civil lawsuit.

“If the city enters into this before the litigation is resolved, I would have serious concerns about vested rights arguments and a Constitutional argument being made against the city,” said Senior Assistant City Attorney Don O’Toole. “I think if construction was allowed to proceed prior to the county case being resolved, I think it calls into question whether a property right has been created.”

More Council concerns about the impact on the case drew subsequent—and more succinct—advice from City Attorney Patrick Baker: “If we want the iron-clad guarantee that nothing we do impacts [the court case], then I believe our recommendation would be, don’t move forward.”

Council members Eugene Brown, Diane Catotti, Mike Woodard and Mayor Pro-Tem Cora Cole-McFadden heeded the warning, saying they couldn’t risk the city being dragged into a legal fray that already has cost Durham County tens of thousands of dollars and the developer even more money.

The process has also cost county officials the trust of vocal residents who oppose the project and say the county process has unfairly favored the developer. The affair has been ugly, and the city shouldn’t muddy the waters, said Catotti, who also has previously criticized the county’s handling of the issue.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dellinger snags Durham Dems' nomination for vacant county commissioner seat

Posted by on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Hampton Dellinger in a photo from his 2008 campaign for Lieutenant Governor.
  • Hampton Dellinger in a photo from his 2008 campaign for Lieutenant Governor.

Attorney Hampton Dellinger won overwhelming support Tuesday from Durham Democratic Party leaders, who voted to recommend him to fill the vacant seat of former Commissioner Becky Heron. Heron, 83, resigned earlier this month due to health issues.

After three rounds of voting, Dellinger had beat out three other nominees: former planning commissioner Wendy Jacobs, social worker Anita Daniels and Duke University professor Will Wilson. The four candidates had asked the Durham County Democratic Party to be named the party's nominee to fill Heron's seat. State law requires the successor be of the same party as the departing official.

Two additional applicants, former banker Pam Karriker and sheriff's office Capt. Rickey Padgett, had also notified the Democratic Party they were seeking the seat, but were not considered Tuesday night. Karriker was unexpectedly called out of town, a party officer said, and Padgett did not receive the required nomination from a member of the party's executive committee, although he attended the meeting.

The votes were cast by members of the Durham County Democratic Party's executive committee of more than 100 people, including party officers, elected officials, and precinct leaders. The votes of most participants were weighted based on the size of the precinct. In the final round, Dellinger had earned 248.5 of 388 possible points, a clear majority over 139.5 points for Jacobs.

Dellinger's nomination doesn't necessarily make him a shoo-in for the seat. The final decision on who will serve the rest of Heron's term, which expires in 2012, will be made by the four remaining members of the Board of County Commissioners. The board is not obligated to take the recommendation of the Democratic Party.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

N.C. State professors among scientists protesting fracking subcommittee

Posted by on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Two N.C. State University assistant professors were among 28 scientists from 22 institutions who signed a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu expressing their concern over the “impartiality” on a subcommittee that is studying the impacts of fracking. Read the letter here: Scientists_CHU_Letter_SIGNED.pdf

“We urge you to modify the panel’s membership so that the panel can make recommendations on hydraulic fracturing that are unbiased and scientifically sound,” wrote the signatories, including Owen Duckworth and Matthew Polizzotto, both soil scientists at N.C. State.

Duckworth is out of the office until mid-August and could not be reached for comment. The Indy could not immediately reach Polizzotto.

The Natural Gas Subcommittee is part of the Secretary of Energy Science Advisory Board. Six of the seven members currently have financial ties to the natural gas and oil industry.

In May, The New York Times reported on the panelists’ credentials, but the Environmental Working Group fleshed out many additional details.

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