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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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Monday, July 4, 2011

Challengers join the fray in Orange County elections

Posted by on Mon, Jul 4, 2011 at 12:46 PM

The candidate-filing period opened with a flourish Friday in Orange County as mayors from Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough all signed up to defend their seats and challengers emerged in the Chapel Hill Town Council and Board of Alderman races.

In Chapel Hill, Lee Storrow and August Cho filed as expected, and Laney Dale, a tech entrepreneur who moved to town four years ago, joined the race for the four open positions on the nine- member, including the mayor, council.

  • Photo courtesy of Laney Dale
Dale, a member of the Parks and Recreation Committee, says he wants to make a bigger impact on the community he moved across the county to make his home. Along with his wife and three kids, Dale searched across the U.S. for a place to relocate from Los Angeles, eventually deciding on Chapel Hill for its schools, its location in the Triangle and the quality of the arts.

He is the CEO and founder of two start-up companies, Appuware and Appubater, which create computer and mobile applications. Appuwhere allows customers to be developers. Appubater accepts ideas from clients and partners to realize them.

Both businesses are located in Durham, and Dale says Chapel Hill needs to work to make it easier for businesses to establish offices there.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Together N.C. holds send-off party for North Carolina's progress

Posted by on Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Cloaked in Hawaiian T-shirts with tongues planted firmly in cheeks, leis around necks, cone-shaped party hats on scalps and noisemakers in mouths, members of the progressive Together N.C. coalition threw a send-off party to North Carolina on Wednesday morning on the Halifax Mall, bidding adieu to the state’s ability to thrive, they said.

Together N.C.s Rob Thompson apologizes to South Carolina for mocking the states level of public education funding and says with the North Carolina budget now, The joke is on us.
  • Photo by Joe Schwartz
  • Together N.C.'s Rob Thompson apologizes to South Carolina for mocking the state's level of public education funding and says with the North Carolina budget now, "The joke is on us."
Standing around a table with a banner reading “Farewell to NC’s Progress,” members of the coalition decried the decrease in public education funding, the jobs cut, which the N.C. Budget and Tax Center has estimated at 30,000, slashes made in health care, early childhood education and public safety and the "shameful" midnight manner in which the House voted to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto.

“We’re here to say what makes this state great is ask risk,” said Louisa Warren, co-coordinator of Together N.C. and a policy advocate at the N.C. Justice Center.

The group handed out “pink slips” and offered cake and lemonade.

Rep. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth, stopped by to sign an oversized greeting card that read, “We’ll miss the good times, N.C.”

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Barrett announces run for CHCCS board

Posted by on Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 3:07 PM

Chapel Hill High School alumnus James Barrett announced today his candidacy for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.

“We as a community share a set of goals and values for our school district. Now is the time to do things a little differently to make real progress on those goals,” he stated in a press release.

James Barrett grew up in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system and believes he can help close the achievement gap.
  • Photo courtesy of James Barrett
  • James Barrett grew up in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools system and believes he can help close the achievement gap.
“The community agrees that these goals include closing the achievement gap and educating every child. But progress has been inadequate, and the school system has not been creative about solving the gaps in some time.”

Barrett, who also attended Seawell Elementary School and Phillips Middle School, moved back to the Triangle in 1995 after working in Atlanta, and says the time is ripe for reform. New superintendent Thomas Forcella will take the reins July 1 replacing Neil Pedersen, who will step down after 19 years, which makes him the longest tenured superintendent in the district’s history.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Telecommunications giants 1. People 0. Perdue lets HB129 become law

Posted by on Fri, May 20, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Governor Bev Perdue will let House Bill 129, the anti-municipal broadband bill become law today, opting to neither sign nor veto the legislation before the midnight deadline.

She issued a statement (full text below) saying she both wants every North Carolinian to have Internet access and seeks rules to prevent cities from having “an unfair advantage over providers in the private sector.”

Crews in Wilson installed fiber lines in 2008 for the town-run broadband Internet service. Municipalities such as Wilson, where broadband is already in place, received exemptions in the bill.
  • File photo by D.L. Anderson
  • Crews in Wilson installed fiber lines in 2008 for the town-run broadband Internet service. Municipalities such as Wilson, where broadband is already in place, received exemptions in the bill.
Her decision is a crushing blow for Internet access advocates, who have fought bills for four years arguing that broadband must be viewed as a valuable public utility that the government should provide as it does for water, sewer and mail.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bill would ban undocumented immigrants from public higher ed

Posted by on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 5:05 PM

It's only the second day of the session and already the GOP is ramping up the hate machine:
First up, undocumented immigrants.
House bill 11, sponsored by state Rep. George Cleveland, a Republican from Onslow County, would prohibit undocumented immigrants from attending North Carolina colleges and universities.
Currently, undocumented immigrants may attend these schools, but only under certain restrictions. For example, they must pay out-of-state tuition, which is as much as four times more expensive than in-state rates.
You can read the text of the bill here: H11v0.pdf

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Friday, November 19, 2010

NCCU condemns trashing of student newspaper, the Campus Echo

Posted by on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 11:25 AM

The N.C. Central University administration has publicly condemned the trashing of hundreds of copies of the student newspaper, done in apparent retaliation over two controversial stories published over the last six weeks.

“Attempts to suppress unpleasant news are offensive and contrary to everything we stand for at our university, where the free exchange of information should not be impeded,” wrote NCCU Associate Provost Debbie Thomas in a campuswide e-mail.

Campus Echo Editor Ashley Griffin wrote an editorial this week defending the stories, adding, “I am troubled that some of my fellow Eagles would stoop so low as to attempt to suppress news that they find inconvenient. Your behavior is petty and childish. And it will not work.”

“Business School Blues,” published Oct. 6, covered the controversy over the dismissal of NCCU Business School Dean Bijoy Sahoo, who was replaced after a review by a university task force questioned his leadership. Shortly afterward, hundreds of newspapers disappeared from the Willis Commerce Building.

Hundreds of papers also disappeared from near the sociology building and student union and were found in a dumpster after the Echo published a story Nov. 3, “Sociability Shortage in Sociology.” The article detailed a conflict between student Dontravis Swain, later suspended from the university, and assistant professor of sociology, Dana Greene.

Greene, according to the article, had allegedly claimed that a white student of hers, Robert Mihaly, was racist after he wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the likeness of Martin Luther King Jr. that read “UNC system racist” because N.C. Central doesn’t offer organic, non-genetically modified foods in its cafeteria.

Swain and Mihaly got into an argument in the classroom over the T-shirt i, which escalated when Swain allegedly began arguing with Greene. She alleged that Swain pushed her, but some students have disputed that account.

Campus Echo Adviser Bruce dePyssler told the Indy he doesn’t know who is dumping the papers, but according to the Student Press Law Center, it is illegal. Charges include larceny, petty theft, criminal mischief or destruction of property.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Activists share insights during Campus Y celebration

Posted by on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 at 12:54 PM

Decades of UNC students credited the Campus Y with spurring them to a life of service during last weekend’s 150th anniversary celebration of the center.

Bill Ferris, senior associate director of the UNC Center for the Study of the American South, described the Y, which organizers say is the longest standing YMCA in the nation and the oldest student activist group, as “the conscience of our campus.”

Through a moving oral history performance, students reflected on several political battles, including those supporting women’s rights, integration and literacy, and opposing the Vietnam War and the speaker ban, which barred communists from orating on campus.

The event, though, was as much about looking forward as celebrating the past. The Friday afternoon program featured a discussion among four prominent local activists— The Rev. Robert Campbell of the
Coalition to End Environmental Racism, Stephen Dear of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, Loida Ginocchio-Silva of the Dream Act Girls and Michelle Cotton Laws of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro NAACP—on the challenges of building a movement in modern times.

Loida Ginocchio-Silva (in blue) and the other Dream Team Girls were on a hunger strike in downtown Raleigh in June.
  • Photo by D.L. Anderson
  • Loida Ginocchio-Silva (in blue) and the other Dream Team Girls were on a hunger strike in downtown Raleigh in June.
For starters, it’s difficult to make a living fighting for what you believe in. You have to learn to say no. You have to go home sometime. You can’t survive 18-hour days for long. You have to accept that your cause isn’t always the most important. You have to talk to the people who you don’t like. You can’t turn your back on them. You may need them someday. Document everything.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Millions of research dollars at stake as Price, Lawson compete for Congress

Posted by on Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 5:12 PM

At our packed-to-the-gills debate between U.S. Rep. David Price and two-time challenger B.J. Lawson last week, the two men sparred on, among many other issues, federal research funding.

B.J. Lawson, shown here campaigning at Mediterranean Deli in Chapel Hill in 2008, is pro-pita bread and anti-government-funded research.
  • Photo by D.L. Anderson
  • B.J. Lawson, shown here campaigning at Mediterranean Deli in Chapel Hill in 2008, is pro-pita bread and anti-government-funded research.
Lawson wants to privatize research and development, essentially cutting the legs of university research. Price questioned how a candidate running to represent the Research Triangle Park, UNC and Duke University district in Washington could hold such a view.

Today, coincidentally or not, Duke University—where Price has taught public policy—issued a press release touting the benefits of the $287 million in NIH grants given to the Research Triangle region through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“Federal grants for academic research and development are intended to create long-term health benefits and economic opportunity,” the release reminds.

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