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Saturday, February 28, 2015

UNC Board of Governors may have violated state's Open Meeting Law

Posted By on Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 8:39 AM

The UNC Board of Governors may have violated the state’s Open Meeting Law when it moved to a private room to avoid student protesters on Friday. NC Student Power Union were demonstrating against the Board of Governors’ decision to close three UNC System centers: UNC Chapel Hill’s Center on Work, Poverty and Opportunity, N.C. Central University’s Institute for Civic Engagement and East Carolina University’s Center for Biodiversity. Shortly after the demonstration began, Chairman of the Board of Governors John Fennebresque sent the meeting into a short recess allowing the members of the board enough time to move to another room...

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Police remove students protesting UNC Board of Governor's meeting

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 11:49 AM

Breaking from the UNC Board of Governor's meeting: Police have removed several students protesting this morning's UNC Board of Governors meeting in Charlotte. The meeting was moved to a private room to avoid the demonstrators, but students continue to protest outside that room. The meeting is being televised in Charlotte so that it complies with open meetings laws. The UNC Board of Governors is expected to vote on a committee recommendation to close three centers—the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity; the Center for Biodiversity at East Carolina University; and the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at...

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Inmate sues Department of Public Safety for denying him right to practice humanism

Posted By on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 10:02 AM

A North Carolina inmate has joined the American Humanist Association—a Washington, D.C. nonprofit advocating equality for humanists and atheists—to file a federal lawsuit against the N.C. Department of Public Safety secretary and others for refusing to acknowledge the inmate's humanism as a formal religion.  Kwame Teague, an inmate in Lanesboro Correctional Institution in Polkton, says he has been denied the opportunity to identify as a humanist, and to form a humanist study group in prison—rights enjoyed by inmates practicing other religions. He and the AHA filed a 22-page civil rights complaint in the Eastern District of North Carolina on Wednesday....

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Neglected Hayti mural to have new life, new home

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 2:25 PM

While lovers of public art were (justifiably) outraged about the painting over of a mural in downtown Durham, as the INDY reported last fall, there was not a peep about the benign neglect that was slowly destroying the Hayti mural a mile away. The Durham Voice has reported that the mural will be re-created on a wall at 305 S. Roxboro St., on the old Thomas & Howard building. The original artist, Emily Weinstein will reconstruct the mural, which will likely be even more visible considering its proximity to the Durham Justice Center. There is little foot traffic near the mural's...

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FCC's net neutrality ruling could force North Carolina to rewrite state law

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 2:09 PM

The City of Wilson, while likely bummed out about the snow and ice, scored a victory 250 miles away today in Washington, D.C. Today’s FCC ruling is a win for equal access to the Internet, but part of the agency’s decision has even greater implications for North Carolina, particularly Wilson. The bulk of the FCC’s decision essentially regulates the Internet to prevent telecom companies from charging customers more for high-speed service, fast lanes, as they’re known. In effect these lanes would be digital toll roads that could discriminate against low-income and rural customers who can’t afford, or don’t have access...

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

N.C. Senate committee passes bill allowing magistrates to opt out of marrying couples

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 12:17 PM

Updated: S2 passed the full Senate Wednesday morning in a 32-16 vote. Republican Sens. Jeff Tarte and John Alexander of Raleigh voted against the bill. It will go to the House.  Members of the state Senate Judiciary II passed a bill Tuesday which allows court magistrates to opt out of performing marriages by stating a religious objection. The bill’s co-sponsor, Republican Sen. E.S. “Buck” Newton acknowledged that Senate Bill 2 is a response to federal court decisions to allow marriage between same-sex couples, though he denies the bill discriminates against LGBT people. “Our society has been thrown a curve ball...

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Raleigh’s Law and Public Safety Committee takes up AirBnB

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 6:45 PM

Council members heard from an AirBnB representative Tuesday afternoon, as well as from residents who host guests on the short term online rental service and from the owner of the Oakwood Inn who says her business is being threatened. City planning and zoning administrator Travis Crane first gave the committee an update on the status quo of AirBnB and companies like it in Raleigh, before presenting some options that other cities have used to regulate short term online rental services. Currently AirBnB hosts are allowed to host guests through the service while Raleigh leaders figure out how to deal with...

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Senate committee to hear bill allowing magistrates to opt out of presiding over gay marriages

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 at 10:31 AM

An N.C. Senate judiciary committee is scheduled today to consider a bill that would allow magistrates to opt out of presiding over marriages based on "sincerely held religious" objections. If the bill in its current form is passed, magistrates could opt out of providing marriage services for six-month periods if they object to same-sex marriages, as well as interracial and interfaith marriages. The bill could allow more government officials to refuse to administer such unions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, which is opposing the bill. The bill would also allow registers of deeds to opt...

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Raleigh Christian school gets the most public money through school voucher program

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 1:17 PM

Raleigh’s Word of God Christian Academy has received $180,600 in public money through the state’s voucher program. According to public records obtained by left-leaning NC Policy Watch, five schools in the state received more than $100,000 in taxpayer dollars diverted through the voucher program; all are religious schools. The state has paid out more than $4 million in scholarship funds (of the $10 million lawmakers appropriated last year) to schools participating in the voucher program so far. According to its website, the Word of God Christian Academy on Rock Quarry Road was founded in 1993 and provides a K-12 education...

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After inmate death, N.C. prisons tout reforms

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 12:40 PM

Nearly a year after a mentally ill prison inmate died of dehydration following a month-long stay in solitary confinement, North Carolina officials are touting two dozen corrective actions they say will prevent future incidents. The list, presented as an exclusive to the Indy, includes new prison management teams, new policies, expanded crisis intervention training for prison staff and a task force of prison leaders and mental health experts to make recommendations on the use of solitary confinement on mentally ill prisoners. As the Indy reported last year, Michael Anthony Kerr died during a transfer to Raleigh's Central Prison after spending...

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Duke student clinic wins Fourth Circuit case

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Duke University's Appellate Litigation Clinic, which relies on the work of law school students, won an appeal brought to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers North Carolina. The case centers on what's known in legal terms as "curtilage" — the land immediately surrounding and associated with homes, such as an outdoor patio, which is protected from government intrusion. In an opinion issued last month in U.S. v. Christopher and Lela Covey, a three-member panel of Fourth Circuit judges declared that a law enforcement search of the Coveys' private backyard patio was unconstitutional without a warrant.  The Coveys...

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Friday, February 20, 2015

U.S. Department of Justice files criminal charges against Duke Energy subsidiaries over coal ash

Posted By on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 5:15 PM

The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. attorneys offices in North Carolina filed several criminal charges today against Duke Energy subsidiaries over its their role in the coal ash spills last year. According to a press release, the DOJ and the U.S. attorneys are alleging that Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Business Services allegedly violated the federal Clean Water Act at five of the utility's facilities: Dan River Steam Station in Rockingham County Cape Fear Steam Electric Plant in Chatham County Asheville Steam Electric Generating Plant in Buncombe County H.F. Lee Steam Electric Plant in Wayne...

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wake County study: 25 percent of homeless children need mental health services

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 12:58 PM

Researchers at N.C. State University and Project CATCH, a Wake County partnership that targets child homelessness, have found that a quarter of all homeless children in Wake County need mental health services. Dr. Mary Haskett, a psychology professor at N.C. State and the author of the research paper, says homeless children often have been exposed to domestic or neighborhood violence, chronic poverty, inadequate healthcare and other factors that place them at risk of experiencing mental health problems. The research drew on data from Community Action Targeting Children who are Homeless (CATCH), which works with homeless families at eleven Wake County...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Court of Appeals hears case about jury's fear of gang members in courtroom

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 4:02 PM

Does a defendant in a criminal trial have a right to know if jury members are frightened of him or fellow gang members? That’s the question up for debate in today’s scheduled hearing at the N.C. Court of Appeals, titled State v. Rashawn Mackey, out of Mecklenburg County. Mackey, of Charlotte, was convicted last February of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Evidence suggested that Mackey shot the victim in the head after a botched robbery in early 2012. Mackey was 18 at the time of the killing. During the two-week trial, one of the state’s witnesses, a...

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

DOJ: North Carolina among leaders in prisoners with HIV or AIDS

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 4:27 PM

In 2012, North Carolina counted at least 718 state prisoners with HIV or AIDS, the sixth-highest state total in the country. North Carolina trialed New York, Florida, Texas, California and Georgia. The finding was one of several released this month in a report by the DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics on the medical problems of state and federal prisoners and jail inmates. The study tracked numbers from 2010 and 2012. Three states, including Illinois, didn't report their data on HIV or AIDS. About 1 percent of prisoners and jail inmates who'd been tested for HIV reported being HIV positive. The...

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Tell Raleigh leaders how you feel about AirBnB

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 1:35 PM

Raleigh's Law and Public Safety Committee meets next week and AirBnB is on the agenda.  Jeff Tippett of Raleigh advertising agency Targeted Persuasion has created a flash poll at his website, targetedpersuasion.com, to survey Raleigh residents' concerns about regulating the short term online rental service, including equitable taxation, safety, parking and insurance issues. The results of the poll will be shared with the committee. Log in through your Facebook account to leave more detailed comments. ...

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Friday, February 13, 2015

This week in the N.C. General Assembly

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 4:09 PM

The House is gearing up to roll out an economic development package next week, while the Senate was busy voting on (and passing!) a tax hike on middle class families. Here are a few of the bills lawmakers in the General Assembly filed this week. Senate Bill 49 Moore County Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman’s bill would require photo ID for curbside voters. Who uses curbside voting? The same people who would find obtaining a photo ID burdensome, including older and disabled people. Senate Bill 72/House Bill 76 Democrats in both chambers filed bills this week to disapprove of the Mining...

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Orange County seeks input on affordable housing

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 2:18 PM

Affordable housing is on our minds for many reasons, not the least of which being the ongoing planning for Durham and Chapel Hill's 17-mile light-rail system. The light rail is expected to bring massive hikes in land values along the track, forcing local government leaders to make housing preservation plans now. Next week is your latest chance to weigh in on the subject in Orange County. County commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday regarding housing needs in the county, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough. Commissioners are prepping a five-year strategic plan for addressing the county's housing problem. The plan...

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

N.C. Senate passes eventual gas tax hike

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 2:37 PM

N.C. Senate Republicans’ gas tax cut—which is not really a tax cut—is heading to the state House. The chamber gave its approval today of Senate Bill 20, controversial legislation that would offer a short-term decrease in the state’s fuel tax before raising the levy in the coming years. Senate leadership described the bill, sponsored by Republicans Bill Rabon, Bob Rucho and Jerry Tillman, as a means of stabilizing the state’s fuel tax key to funding the N.C. Department of Transportation. On March 1, the bill would lower the state gas tax from 37.5 cents per gallon to 35 cents per...

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Thousands of mourners gather in Chapel Hill to remember slain Muslim students

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 at 7:29 AM

 FROM LEFT IN SPOTLIGHT: Parents and siblings of Deah Barakat, including his sister, Suzanne Barakat; father, Namee Barakat; mother, Layla Barakat, and Suzanne's husband, Zubair Jandali talk to reporters as thousands gathered for a vigil and memorial for shooting victims at The Pit at UNC-Chapel Hill Craig Hicks, 46, of Chapel Hill has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Deah Barakat, 23, a UNC student; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19. Nida Allam, a senior at North Carolina State University, is comforted by Arsheen Allam as thousands...

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Man charged in Chapel Hill student killings

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Craig Hicks, 46, has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder following the shooting deaths of three students at an apartment complex near UNC's campus in Chapel Hill. According to the Chapel Hill police, a preliminary investigation indicates the crime was motivated by an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking. The victims are Deah Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh. Barakat was a graduate student at UNC. Razan attended N.C. State, and Yusor was preparing to enter UNC dental school. According to a police statement, Chapel Hill officers...

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New report documents more than 100 lynchings in North Carolina, several in Chatham County

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 8:40 AM

"A colored man hanged in Chatham County. A revenue officer riding along the road, saw his body hanging and reported. His wife and children were sitting under the body moaning. Nothing was done about it." This was the 1871 deposition of a North Carolina governor about the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in the state: rapes, beatings, lynchings of African-Americans. More than 100 African-Americans were lynched in North Carolina from 1877 to 1950, several of them in Chatham County. The Equal Justice Institute released a report yesterday documenting 3,959 known lynchings in the South during that time period. The...

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wake Transit holding public meetings on transit choices

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 3:31 PM

At Cameron Village library Tuesday, representatives from the Wake County Planning Department presented early work from the County’s 78-member Transit Advisory Committee, and encouraged attendees to respond to their findings. Since the December kickoff presentation to elected officials, decision makers and interested residents, the Committee—consisting of members from all the Wake municipalities, as well as business, education and other community stakeholders—has evaluated different transit scenarios by designing a transit network for a fictitious community. Members were asked to think about what the most important connections would be and how much low, high and medium frequency transit should be available. Consultants...

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Lee County leaders approve resolution opposing fracking

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 3:13 PM

As expected, county commissioners in Lee County—the presumably gas-rich, suburban county south of the Triangle—have taken a public stance opposing natural gas drilling, better known as fracking. Lee County, which includes the county seat of Sanford, is expected to be one of the focal points of natural gas drilling in North Carolina in the coming years. But local leaders' resolution last week, approved by a new majority of Democrats, say the state's laws and the draft regulations proposed by the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission "do not adequately protect our environment, our county, or our state." The resolution goes on...

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Planning Commission votes to rezone Publix site in North Raleigh

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 1:35 PM

The plans for a 49,000 square foot Publix grocery store at the intersection of Dunn and Falls of Neuse Roads may be off the table but Raleigh’s Planning Commission voted Tuesday to rezone the 13-acre property. In a concession to neighbors in North Raleigh who have vehemently opposed the Publix store, developer Morgan Property Group replaced the proposal with a scaled down 28,000 square foot organic food store. The overall size of the development would be 58,000 square feet, rather than 67,000 square feet. According to the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowner Associations’ (NORCHOA) blog, the new development would still...

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