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Friday, September 22, 2017

N.C. Historical Commission Votes to Punt on Removing Confederate Monuments from Capitol

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 1:59 PM

In a move that was disappointing but not particularly shocking to activists, the N.C. Historical Commission voted nearly unanimously this morning to postpone a decision on removing Confederate monuments from the state capitol in downtown Raleigh. The decision came in response to a petition sent by Governor Cooper's administration earlier this month to remove three Confederate monuments from the Capitol in Raleigh to the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site in Johnston County. Cooper proposed moving the monuments in the wake of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the subsequent toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham last month....

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If You Post Something “Inappropriate” on the City of Durham’s Twitter Feed, Should the City Be Able to Delete It?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 6:41 AM

Durham's City Council continued Thursday to refine a new social media policy for elected and appointed officials with an eye on First Amendment rights and public records law. The council passed the policy Monday night but agreed to revisit it during its work session Thursday to allow time to consider public input, proposed revisions, and questions raised by the director of the N.C. Open Government Coalition just before Monday's meeting. In an email, Jonathan Jones pointed out that the policy did not cover text messages or explicitly lay out a schedule for retaining records (the latter was addressed in today's revisions)....

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

UNC Students Create Silent Sam Audio Tour

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 9:25 PM

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed an audio tour app to facilitate discussion about race, history and Silent Sam. No Longer Silent is a project of the sixteen students in Sabine Gruffat's digital art class. Users can download the app and hear interviews conducted by students as they walk around McCorkle Place, where the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam is located. The recordings are triggered by the listener's GPS position, so you have to be on campus to listen. "The idea is that you're listening to other people talk and as you listen...

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The Latest Attempt to Repeal the ACA Would Be Disastrous for North Carolinia

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 3:59 PM

It's back. The latest, last-ditch attempt by Republican lawmakers to destroy President Obama's signature health law, the Affordable Care Act, has appeared in the form of something called Graham-Cassidy, the brainchild of Republican Senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. Like its predecessors, it would target some of the most vulnerable people in North Carolina: the poor, the sick, and the state's many children who rely on Medicaid as a source of health care. In a statement, Gov. Cooper said the latest iteration of the ACA repeal "may be even worse than recent proposals: Raising premiums, weakening...

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Wake’s Troubled Register of Deeds Office Agrees to Audits Already Allowed under Existing Law

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 6:39 PM

Wake County commissioners and the Register of Deeds office, in an effort to resolve problems that resulted in a $2.3 million loss, signed a document Monday that changes nothing about the relationship between the two bodies. Under state law, a county finance director has the authority to audit any county agency that takes in cash. However, participants in a Monday board meeting said, county finance officials tended to lay off former Register of Deeds Laura Riddick's domain because she was an elected official. Meanwhile, during Riddick's tenure, from 1996 until March, at least $2.3 million went missing from money...

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UNC Faculty Members Call for the Removal of Silent Sam

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 5:57 PM

Faculty members in UNC-Chapel Hill's art and art history departments are calling for the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam to be removed. Twenty-two faculty members signed a letter sent today to Chancellor Carol Folt. Their message comes as students, some of whom staged a sit-in around the statue to compel its removal, are calling for a boycott of UNC stores. “The unacceptable version of history to which Silent Sam gives voice claims that those who fought for the Confederacy did so in the name of regional loyalty alone, rather than, as historians have long concluded, to preserve the institution...

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Three Durham Mayoral Candidates Have Raised More Than $260,000. Where’s the Money Coming From?

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 2:53 PM

This year's mayoral race in Durham is shaping up to be one of the city's most expensive municipal elections yet, as candidates vie to set the tone of the Bull City after sixteen years of Mayor Bill Bell's leadership. According to the most recent campaign finance reports—which cover campaign contributions through August 29—Farad Ali's account holds $109,484.86; Pierce Freelon's, $96,676.59; and Steve Schewel's, $74,074.50. Other candidates in the race have raised no more than $1,600. With so much cash flowing into the election, we decided to map where each of those donations is coming from. In order to do this, we deducted...

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A Raleigh Shelter Is Looking for Adopters After Receiving Thirty Cats Displaced by Hurricane Irma. You Should Get One!

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 11:35 AM

Raleigh's no-kill cat shelter, SAFE Haven for Cats, is urgently looking for local adoptees after receiving an emergency shipment of thirty cats from Jacksonville, Florida. The twenty-six kittens and four adult cats were evacuated after Hurricane Irma tore through the city last week. The shelter will provide the cats with medical care and spay/neutering services before putting them up for adoption in a few weeks. In the meantime, SAFE Haven is looking for people who can adopt the cats currently in its care, as it is at capacity and needs to make room for the Irma evacuees. If you’re interested,...

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Durham Candidates Talk Gentrification, Policing, and Civil Rights at People's Forum

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 10:31 PM

Candidates running for office in Durham were tasked Wednesday night with questions about participatory budget, living wage jobs, support for the formerly incarcerated, and cooperation between Durham police and the Israeli army. And those were just a few of the topics covered at the Durham People’s Candidate Forum. The three-hour event includes candidates for mayor and city council. Five mayoral candidates participated – Farad Ali, Pierce Freelon, Shea Ramirez, Steve Schewel, and Sylvester Williams – as did Ward 1 candidates Brian Callaway, incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden, and DeDreana Freeman; Ward 2 candidates LeVon Barnes, DeAnna Hall, Dolly Reaves, John Rooks, and...

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Anti-Racism Activists Accuse Durham Bar of Being Racist

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 1:58 PM

On Tuesday night, Durham activist Takiyah Thompson and several friends walked into Central Park Tavern on Rigsbee Avenue and tried to order drinks. Local anti-racism activists say the bar, which opened this month, refused to serve the group because of their race. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, activist group Defend Durham wrote that a bartender “refused service” to the group of primarily black and brown customers, who were there celebrating Thompson’s birthday and a march held earlier that day following court appearances by several of the activists, who have bee charged in connection with the toppling of a Confederate...

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NC DEQ Delays Decision on Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Posted By on Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 11:54 AM

In a coup for environmentalists, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality delayed a decision on whether to issue a permit for the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a multibillion dollar, six hundred-mile project that would carry fracked gas through Virginia, West Virginia, and eastern North Carolina. DEQ faced a September 18 deadline to deny or permit the water quality certification needed to construct the pipeline. The requirement comes from the federal Clean Water Act, which stipulates that states must certify that proposed pipeline projects won't violate water quality standards before being built. The proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline, which would traverse eight counties...

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Early Chances to Catch Missing Register of Deeds Cash Appeared in County's Own Budget Documents

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 1:45 PM

Starting in 2014, the Wake County Register of Deeds office recommended in four separate annual budgets that the agency move to accepting credit and debit cards instead of cash for fees. On March 31, improper handling of cash at the office emerged at the center of a criminal investigation announced by Wake officials. The recommendation even appeared after that announcement, in the most recent budget, approved June 19 by the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Had the move away from cash happened in 2015, Wake County taxpayers could have saved some, if not all, of the $608,788.98 that had disappeared between...

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

N.C. Climate Activists Hold Prayer Vigil and Fast in Opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 10:48 PM

Just over a year ago, fifty-one-year-old Greg Yost decided to quit his job. It wasn't because he didn't like it—he loved teaching math to ninth graders in Madison County, just outside Asheville. But he had other concerns: namely, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a multibillion dollar, six hundred-mile project that would carry fracked gas through Virginia, West Virginia, and eight counties in eastern North Carolina. Yost was worried about the project's environmental consequences and the precedent it would set for the state. He saw the proposal as a make-or-break moment. "If this infrastructure gets built, it’s there for the next thirty or forty...

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Housing Inequality Exhibit Opens Friday

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 3:17 PM

With municipal elections coming up, there’s been a lot of talk in Durham about equity, particularly as it relates to housing. But the current landscape of housing inequality in Durham was set in motion long before this election cycle. An exhibit opening Friday seeks to fill in that history. “Uneven Ground: The Foundations of Housing Inequality in Durham, NC," is the work of Bull City 150, a collaboration between the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University that explores the historical context of current issues facing Durham. At its core, Bull...

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Southern Environmental Law Center: RDU Rejected Land Deal in "Unlawfully Held Closed Session Meeting"

Posted By on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 6:22 PM

The Southern Environmental Law Center is asking the Raleigh-Durham International Airport Authority board to rescind any decisions it made in closed sessions over the past two years after questions were raised about a decision not to sell a tract of land by Umstead Park to the Conservation Fund. In a letter sent on behalf of the Umstead Coalition to the board's chairman, Farad Ali, who is running for mayor of Durham, the SELC sets a September 19 deadline for a response. The Conservation Fund in July made a more than $6 million offer for 105 acres of land between Umstead...

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“Durham’s a Bright Light for Our Movement”: After Their Cases Were Continued Until November, Defend Durham Activists Took a Victory Lap

Posted By on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 4:11 PM

Nine people facing felony charges in an August 14 demonstration that saw a Confederate monument toppled appeared in court this morning. Their cases were continued until November, but that didn’t stop them from taking a victory lap. The group, united under the banner Defend Durham, marched from the courthouse to Central Park along with supporters from Greensboro, Raleigh, New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. They detoured by the site of the monument (now just a pedestal) to give remarks and honor Heather Heyer, an antiracist protester who was killed one month ago during the Unite the Right white supremacist rally in...

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Consultants: Solutions to Wake Affordable Housing Crisis Will Require Cooperation, Cash

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 8:11 PM

Solutions to Wake County's growing affordable housing crisis could require substantial new revenue and changes to county land-use policies, according to a draft presentation on the topic received Monday by the Board of Commissioners. A study by consultants HR&A Advisors found that the county experiences a net loss of between 800 and 1,300 affordable units a year, despite city and county efforts that produce about 1,000 units. A current affordable housing shortfall of 56,000 units is expected to increase to 140,000 during the next two decades. Sig Hutchinson, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said after the presentation that the...

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Public Policy Polling Survey: Some Wake Commissioners' School Funding Vote Means They'd Lose to a Hypothetical Woman

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 7:10 PM

With the goal of focusing voters and the Wake County Board of Commissioners on the 2018 elections and school funding, Raleigh pollster Dean Debnam released a survey Monday that says 82 percent of likely Democratic primary voters think commissioners should have fully funded the Wake school board's budget request. Debnam owns the nationally recognized, Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling company as well other business interests. The company received at B+ from the polling site FiveThirtyEight in 2016 but has also been questioned for partisanship and for asking off-the-wall questions. PPP spokesman Russ Swindell said Monday that Debnam commissioned the poll to remind...

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Local Businesses Band Together to Support Houstonians Reeling from Harvey

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 6:14 PM

Dozens of local businesses are teaming up to provide support to people affected by the devastating Hurricane Harvey in Houston, a powerful storm that battered the hurricane-vulnerable city and left an estimated thirty people dead. The effort is spearheaded by Rally + Relief NC, an organization founded by Raleigh resident Jedidiah Gant last year after Hurricane Matthew slammed southeastern North Carolina. Gant, who frantically tried to reach his family in Lumberton after Matthew made landfall, was heartbroken to see the destruction the storm wrought on the town he lived in for two decades. Gant spent days driving around the waterlogged streets...

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Mayor McFarlane Will Not Be Turned Away from Democratic Party Events, Spokesman Says

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 3:55 PM

In one corner, here's Nancy McFarlane, candidate for a fourth term as Raleigh mayor, unaffiliated politically, but supported by many Democrats in previous elections. In the other corner, here's mayoral challenger Charles Francis, a proud Democrat who won the endorsement and enthusiastic support of his local party leadership. In this context, when word got out that McFarlane wouldn't be welcome at party events held to promote Democratic candidates, the party's executive director Rebecca Llewellyn said it was all a misunderstanding. But McFarlane's campaign responded strongly. "I contacted the party chair and expressed that that would not be OK with...

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UNC Board of Governors Kills the Historic Center for Civil Rights

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 12:41 PM

After months of contentious back-and-forth, the UNC Board of Governors voted this morning to ban the UNC Center for Civil Rights from doing legal work on behalf of the state's poor and minority populations. The ban would effectively neuter the Center from providing legal representation to those who cannot afford it—groups it has been advocating for since it was founded by the famed civil rights attorney Julian Chambers in 2001. Since then, however, the UNC Board of Governors has taken a turn to the right. That's because board members are elected by the state legislature, which, since 2010, has been...

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Chief Davis: The DPD Thought Info About the Rumored Klan Rally Was “Not Worth Putting Out,” But the Sheriff’s Office Did It Anyway

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 6:58 AM

Durham Police Chief C.J. Davis presented an after-action report on the anti-hate rally in downtown Durham last month to the City Council on Tuesday. Among the highlights: The initial information received by law enforcement suggested the Sons of Confederate Veterans, not the KKK, could be coming to town. Reports of a possible Klan rally that originated with the Durham County Sheriff's Office prompted hundreds of people to converge on downtown within a matter of hours. Davis says her agency would not have shared unconfirmed reports of a possible rally. "We just felt from the beginning that this was going to be a...

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Bonner Gaylord Campaign to Hold City Council Fundraiser at Home of Julia and Frank Daniels Jr.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 7, 2017 at 1:34 PM

Bonner Gaylord, the incumbent Raleigh City Council member in District E, is holding a fundraiser Tuesday at the home of former News & Observer publisher Frank Daniels Jr. and his wife, community leader Julia Jones Daniels. With a top ticket of $5,000, the event targets the same level of giving as that at a July 30 event supporting at-large candidate Stacy Miller. During the first round of disclosures for the October 10 Raleigh election, Gaylord's campaign had raised more than $137,000 and had more than $160,000 in cash on hand. "With the election coming up in five weeks, I'm asking...

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

“Durham Is All I Know”: DACA Recipients, Supporters Rally in Durham

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 10:02 PM

At an early age, Pam Gonzalez knew she was good at math. "It was something I like doing. I like numbers," she says, talking excitedly with a broad smile revealing dimples in her cheeks. A Riverside High School graduate, she's now a sophomore at Meredith College studying math. But that isn't what she wants to do with her life. As a teenager, Gonzalez enrolled in the BOOST program at Duke University, designed to bring minority students into careers in science and math. She now works for that program and hopes to make a career helping first-generation immigrants get into college. She knows...

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The Beltline Will Be a Rough Ride Between Walnut Creek and Lake Boone Trail Starting in 2018

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 5:51 PM

No matter how they slice and dice it, the coming renovation of the 440 beltline between Walnut Creek and Lake Boone Trail will mean hell for West Raleigh. Eric Lamb, Raleigh's transportation planning director, said Tuesday that plans call for pairing the three-year road-widening project for 440 with additional projects including routing Blue Ridge Road under Hillsborough Street and the railroad crossing near the State Fairgrounds. "There is a significant amount of work that would all take place all at one time," Lamb said. "Ripping off the Band-Aid, so to speak." The highest-profile pieces of the project are the chunks...

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Mr. Goldsmith, please read Jennifer's post below. If you have journalistic integrity, please fix your blog as it shows up …

by Sherry D. on Mayor McFarlane Will Not Be Turned Away from Democratic Party Events, Spokesman Says (News)

Look Lisa, your grandfather's story is tough. I would suggest however that he is a victim of capitalist oppression, not …

by CPF (CommiePinkoFag) on “Durham’s a Bright Light for Our Movement”: After Their Cases Were Continued Until November, Defend Durham Activists Took a Victory Lap (News)

Apparently we must hope that the N&O doesn't follow through on this trend by deciding that they will cover legislative …

by khoragos on The N&O’s Performing Arts Correspondent Says the Paper Is Cutting Back on Performing Arts Reviews (News)

Cancelling the parade affects all people. I usually went just for the parade, not the night events. Parents take their …

by Aiden on Carolina Jews for Justice Says NC Pride Schedule Fix Isn't Enough (News)

I should also add that it was professor Daniel Sherman who penned the letter that we all signed after some …

by elin o'Hara slavick on UNC Faculty Members Call for the Removal of Silent Sam (News)

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Mr. Goldsmith, please read Jennifer's post below. If you have journalistic integrity, please fix your blog as it shows up …

by Sherry D. on Mayor McFarlane Will Not Be Turned Away from Democratic Party Events, Spokesman Says (News)

Look Lisa, your grandfather's story is tough. I would suggest however that he is a victim of capitalist oppression, not …

by CPF (CommiePinkoFag) on “Durham’s a Bright Light for Our Movement”: After Their Cases Were Continued Until November, Defend Durham Activists Took a Victory Lap (News)

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