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Friday, January 30, 2015

Lee County leaders to change their stance on fracking?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 1:20 PM

Political winds change. Case in point: Lee County, the suburban county south of the Triangle that is expected to be the focal point of natural gas drilling in North Carolina. Democrats seized control of the local Board of Commissioners last November and are now expected to pass a resolution next week opposing fracking and the drilling regulations lobbed by the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission. Interestingly, that appointed commission was once chaired by former Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack, an outspoken conservative who supports fracking. In Feb. 2013, the Indy reported on Womack's use of an anonymous blog to attack...

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Tom Murry to join N.C.'s Judicial Branch

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 11:25 AM

Former Wake County Rep. Tom Murry lost his District 41 seat to Gale Adcock in November but we haven’t seen the last of this tenacious public servant. Murry has been named Chief Legal Counsel for Governmental Affairs by the North Carolina Judicial Branch, the director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts announced Friday. In his new role, Murry will assist director John W. Smith and Chief Justice Mark Martin in coordinating legislative efforts and governmental affairs, starting Monday. Murry, who served two terms in the House and co-chaired the Appropriations Subcommittee in 2014, will coordinate all legislative activities...

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National study: Durham police rank 32nd in return on investment

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 11:24 AM

WalletHub, an online resource for consumers and small business owners, has assessed how efficiently the 110 most populated U.S. cities spend taxpayer dollars on police protection. Durham ranks No. 32, and Raleigh ranks No. 41. The website calculated each city’s return on investment on police spending by analyzing crime rates and per-capita expenditures on police forces. The group adjusted the data by poverty rate, unemployment rate and median household income. The numbers reflect financial efficiency, not overall safety. Durham's 5.4 percent crime rate ranked 55th among the cities analyzed, and its $286 in per-capita spending ranked 27th.  Raleigh's 3.5 percent...

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Durham Main Library: Renovation could re-energize northeast downtown

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 9:09 AM

Where is the front door? If this is your first trip to the Durham Main Library, that's likely your first question. And it's not a minor one. As it stands, the downtown library, built in 1980, feels like a suburban home where the front door is merely symbolic, and everyone uses the side door off the deck. "There are two front doors," said Bob Thomas director of design for Vines Architecture, the Raleigh firm hired by the county to design the renovated library. "That was never the intention." Last night's discussion about the future renovations of the Durham's flagship library...

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Meeting in Durham about the original Google—the public library—tonight

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 8:38 AM

Back in the day, when mobile phones were the size of a London brick and computers used dial-up connections, if you wanted an answer to an odd question, you called the public library. "Good morning, information desk," a cheery voice would answer. "Hi, what is the population of Lichtenstein?" "Not a problem, please hold while I'll get that information for you." [Sound of heavy books being shuffled in the background. The librarian thumbs through pages.] "According to the World Bank fact book, 28,475." The download time to retrieve this information took about a minute, about the same as dial-up, but...

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

N.C. lawmakers focusing on "religious freedom"

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 11:44 AM

It’s the opening day of the 2015 legislative session and some North Carolina lawmakers are making discrimination their top priority. House Speaker Pro Tempore Paul Stam has promised a broad religious freedom bill, which would allow service providers, government officials and business owners to decide who they choose to serve. Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger has filed a bill that would exempt court magistrates from marrying same sex couples. The right-wing North Carolina Values Coalition, headed by lobbyist and Senate mother-in-law Tami Fitzgerald, will hold a closed briefing with lawmakers to discuss a potentially discriminatory religious freedom bill Wednesday afternoon. In...

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Fourth Circuit to hear NC case on successive traffic stops

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 7:00 AM

You're driving down the highway, and a trooper pulls you over. He sits you inside his cruiser and looks at your paperwork. After 10 minutes, he issues a warning and says you're free to leave. But as you walk back to your car, the trooper gets suspicious. He follows you, tells you to step to the side of the road, and searches your car. He finds drugs.  Does this scenario describe two police stops, or one? The answer is important to Charles Williams, who found himself in a similar situation in 2013. A federal jury  found him guilty of cocaine...

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

From the archives: Offshore drilling in North Carolina could threaten ecosystems

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 4:31 PM

This originally ran in the INDY on June 30, 2010:  By Lisa Sorg There is a place in the sea 45 miles northeast of Cape Hatteras brimming with so much life that at depths beyond the sunlight's reach the water is illuminated by colorful ocean creatures and fish. Known as the Point, it is one of the most valuable and biodiverse areas of the Atlantic. Here, the cold northern Labrador Current meets the warm southern Gulf Stream and the mingling creates a parfait of marine life: swordfish, sharks, endangered sea turtles and large, iconic sea mammals such as dolphins...

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Google Fiber coming to the Triangle

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 2:40 PM

It’s official: Google Fiber is coming to Raleigh and Durham. And to Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Cary, Morrisville and Garner. Oh, and to Charlotte. Google Fiber’s business director Michael Slinger joined Gov. McCrory and seven Triangle mayors Tuesday afternoon at the N.C. Museum of History to make the announcement. “Today we are committing to invest in and build a brand new fiber optic network throughout (the seven Triangle municipalities),” Slinger said. He said Google began working with the municipal leaders last year, “to explore the possibility of bringing a super-fast internet and TV service to their residents and small businesses. Because of...

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North Carolina targeted for offshore drilling

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 1:30 PM

We warned that this might happen five years ago. Federal leaders on Tuesday rolled out a five-year draft plan for offshore oil and gas leasing in the U.S. As expected, North Carolina is included. The draft, announced by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, includes 14 potential lease sales: 10 in the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska, and one in a portion of the Mid- and South Atlantic. “The safe and responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources is a key part of the president’s efforts to support...

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Hillsborough clears the way for solar panels

Posted By on Tue, Jan 27, 2015 at 10:09 AM

Thanks to a change in town guidelines, obtaining permission to install some solar panels in Hillsborough could now take about three days and $10, town officials say. Members of the town's Historic District Commission approved a change classifying solar panel installations as "minor work" if they cannot be seen from the street. The revision allows town staff to review and approve the applications, rather than requiring approval from the commission. Commission approval could take one to two months to complete. Town staff can do it in about three days, along with a $10 fee. “It is perfectly in keeping with...

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Silicon Valley radio station reporting Google has officially selected Raleigh-Durham for fiber

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 11:41 AM

KLIV-AM, an NBC radio affiliate in Silicon Valley, is reporting that Google has selected Raleigh-Durham to be the next cities for the company's fiber build out. Over the past week, there have been rumors  about a "mystery" announcement by Google, happening Wednesday, which many tech and government officials assumed to be this news, but it had not been confirmed. According to KLIV, construction begins in April. Google's other fiber cities are Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah....

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Developer drops plans for North Raleigh Publix

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 11:25 AM

Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane announced this weekend that Publix is no longer considering the intersection of Falls of Neuse and Dunn Roads for a new store location. For more than a year, North Raleigh residents have strongly and visibly opposed rezoning the property which would have made the construction of a 49,000 square foot store possible. The developer, Morgan Property Group of Charlotte, has instead proposed building a 28,000 square foot organic food store on the property, according to an email from the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners Association (NORCHOA). NORCHOA says it would not support a change in the...

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Socialism alert: North Carolina GOP Senator Harry Brown wants to redistribute the wealth

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 7:50 AM

Could North Carolina Republican Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown be part of the vast, shadowy left-wing network that Civitas warned us about? WRAL reported on the Republican legislative agenda, which is to say, it’s a secret. But the money quote appeared toward the bottom of the story, by Brown of Onslow County. He wants to rejigger sales tax revenues, the article said, to redistribute money collected in urban counties such as Wake to lower-wealth counties such as Jones, which is part of his Senate district. Whoa, a Republican wants to redistribute wealth? That sounds like Obama socialism to me. "What...

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U.S. judges to decide whether man who hit wife can keep gun, stemming from local case

Posted By on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 at 7:00 AM

In 2004, Rodney Vinson of Wendell hit his wife about the face with an open hand. He was charged and convicted of misdemeanor assault on a female. Federal law stipulates that individuals previously convicted of a domestic violence crime may not possess firearms. So when police found a rifle and ammo tucked inside Vinson’s closet in 2013, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina charged him with a federal crime. Vinson fought the charge, arguing that hitting his wife wasn't domestic violence, because it wasn’t violent per se—at least, not based on the confusing wording of the law....

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Red Menace: Civitas Unveils "Vast Left-Wing Activist Network"

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 11:46 AM

Wait, is this the Onion? No just a press release by the Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank brought to you by the Pope Foundation empire. Civitas dropped a bombshell today, announcing that it has launched a new website Mapping the Left, which will for the "first time, expose the full extent of a vast, shadowy network of left-wing activist groups."  [Emphasis mine.] Cue the soundtrack from Psycho! The AARP is part of the left-wing network? Do you mean my grandmother could be a Commie? Yes, the left is so shadowy, it's like film noir on steroids. It's hard to find...

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sledge hearing set for Friday

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 12:39 PM

A three-judge panel will convene a special session of superior court in Columbus County on Friday to hear evidence relevant to the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission's recommendation in the case of State v. Joseph Sledge. Sledge, now 70, contends he is innocent of a 1976 murder of a mother and her daughter in their Bladen County home.  One of the state's witnesses—a jailhouse informant—has recanted his testimony, and recent DNA testing on crime scene hairs showed they weren't Sledge's. No other physical evidence linked Sledge to the crime. In December, N.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin assigned Judges Thomas H....

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New ArtsCenter, Kidzu center in Carrboro draws mixed reaction

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 9:57 AM

A $15 million downtown Carrboro development with tremendous implications for the town received a predictably mixed reaction during a public hearing Tuesday night in packed Carrboro Town Hall. Some locals offered concerns about the financial risks of the proposed Carrboro Arts and Innovation Center, a four-story, 55,000-square-foot structure at East Main and Roberson streets which would house Carrboro's long-running ArtsCenter and Kidzu Children's Museum, currently located in Chapel Hill. Others, such as former Carrboro mayors Mark Chilton and Ellie Kinnaird, urged town leaders not to miss this chance. Supporters said the facility would have an estimated $320 million economic impact...

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Raleigh's Merrimon-Wynne owner allowed to play amplified music outdoors

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 4:58 PM

The owner of a restored home turned wedding venue on Raleigh’s Blount Street will be allowed to play amplified music outdoors until March, 2016. The Raleigh City Council’s unanimous decision Tuesday to grant owner Jodi Heyens an Outdoor Amplified Entertainment Permit, good for a year, comes after neighbors complained at a September hearing that Heyens had been playing music at wedding events without a permit, since she opened her wedding business last winter. Heyens was granted a six-month temporary permit on the condition that she worked to reduce noise disturbance to the neighborhood. Since the September hearing, which Heyens’ lawyer,...

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Carrboro considers $12 million Arts and Innovation Center tonight

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 2:07 PM

A building proposal with dramatic implications for downtown Carrboro goes before the Board of Aldermen tonight. As reported in last week's Indy, town officials will hold a public hearing to consider partnering with The ArtsCenter and Kidzu Children's Museum to build a four-story, 55,000-square-foot home for the nonprofits at the corner of East Main and Roberson streets. The proposal, which has received an icy reception from town leaders thus far, calls for the town to put $4.5 million into the $12.1 million center, with the nonprofits responsible for generating the remaining $7.6 million. Backers of The ArtsCenter and Kidzu say...

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Carrboro officer is first law enforcement agent in state to reverse heroin overdose with Naloxone

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 11:07 AM

On Jan. 13, a press release went out from the Carrboro Police Department announcing that an officer had become the first in the department to administer naloxone, an opiate antagonist, to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. The overdose had occurred the previous night. What the police department might not have known was that the Carrboro officer was the first law enforcement agent in the state to reverse an overdose with Naloxone. The Durham-based North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a leader in the campaign to save the lives of opiate abusers, today announced that Jan. 12 was "an historic...

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Do police have right to search car after smelling pot that doesn't exist?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 1:44 PM

A Raleigh man has accused a police officer of an unlawful vehicle search after the cop scoured it for marijuana but came up empty. However, since the man had crack in his pocket, he was arrested anyway—for trafficking and resisting arrest. He was convicted on both charges last January and sentenced to 35 to 51 months in prison. This week Sharod Sorrell will have his case considered by the Court of Appeals. He argues that the crack evidence should have been suppressed since the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to go fishing into his car. The fourth amendment bans illegal searches...

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Friday, January 16, 2015

The Frontier launches new way of working at Research Triangle Park

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 9:30 AM

When Research Triangle Park was built in the 1950s and ’60s—large, somber buildings veiled by noble stands of pine trees, on the frontier then known as suburban Durham—it reflected the way scientists and engineers often worked during that time: Free of distractions, office doors shut, in isolation, they could get down to the orderly business of ground-breaking work. Nearly 60 years later, that model is outdated. People work collaboratively, nimbly, in mobile workspaces in urban centers. And RTP, saddled with blocky, corporate mausoleums (to be fair, there are a few modern buildings) must reinvent itself. That reincarnation is driving the...

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary pushing for Medicaid reform

Posted By on Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 3:59 PM

Even as North Carolina lawmakers reportedly consider a proposal shifting control of the state's Medicaid spending to an independent panel of political appointees, North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos is calling for a different model. Wos asked legislators, who reconvened this week, to consider accountable care organizations, or ACOs, a model included in President Obama's Affordable Care Act by which networks of health care providers agree to a budget for providing care. It's one method being considered as North Carolina grapples with often unpredictable spending on Medicaid, a joint state and federal program assisting low-income residents...

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Feds charge man for threatening Raleigh police chief

Posted By on Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 11:47 AM

The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina yesterday charged a California man with making racist threats against Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown. Jesse Lee Kuhl is charged with transmission of threatening communications interstate, and using an electronic communication service to engage in a course of conduct with the intent to harass or intimidate another person. He is custody and scheduled for his initial appearance tomorrow in federal court in Fresno. In affidavit filed with the complaint, Raleigh FBI Agent Craig Noyes, assigned to domestic terrorism cases, detailed the litany of racist emails allegedly sent by Kuhl—before and...

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