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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Virginia Transgender Teen Scores Another Legal Win, With Implications for HB 2

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2016 at 6:10 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina is celebrating a denial of appeal in the case of a transgender student in Virginia, who successfully sued his school board over its discriminatory bathroom policy. In April, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of appeals handed sixteen-year-old Gavin Grimm as victory over the Gloucester County School Board by overturning a lower court's rejection of his suit. Tuesday, that decision was affirmed in the Fourth Circuit, which also includes North Carolina. The state's chapter of the ACLU noted the implications for HB 2, quoting its legal director Chris Brook: "It’s time for Governor...

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Wake Democrats Chairman Sends Trigger Locks To Wake Republicans For Their Gun Raffle

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2016 at 12:30 PM

The Wake County GOP is currently raffling off three guns in order to raise some cash. In Trumpian language, the description reads, "Wake GOP is raffling off THREE great weapons. Celebrate the 2nd Amendment and support the Wake County Republican Party in the process. First Place Winner selects their prize from the three, Second Place Winner picks from the remaining two and Third Place Winner goes home with a GREAT weapon!"  Wake County Democratic Party chairman Brian Fitzsimmons caught wind of this, and sent a letter over to his counterpart at the Wake County GOP, John Bryant - along with three trigger locks...

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Right-Wing Crank Wants to Charge Wake Elections Official With Felony for "Voter Suppression"

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2016 at 11:53 AM

It's primary season (again) and Jay DeLancy from the "Voter Integrity Project" is stirring up trouble that doesn't exist—again. But he has video this time! Selectively edited, cell-phone recorded video taken out of context, but video nonetheless. DeLancy thinks this is evidence enough to charge a Wake County precinct official with—wait for it—a felony for voter suppression.  Here is the video, shot by DeLancy, of elections official Jan Torrey explaining what all is on what ballot and why for this June seventh primary election.  DeLancy sees this "stunning film evidence" as an official purposefully "misleading an Unaffiliated voter"—himself— "on his available choice...

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The Morning Roundup: Greensboro Police to RNC Convention: No Thanks, Y'all Are Too Crazy

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2016 at 4:26 AM

Good Tuesday morning, folks. We hope you enjoyed a fun, relaxing three-day weekend with loved ones. It's time to play a little "catch-up" with the state's news, shall we? 1. Greensboro police decide against providing security at Cleveland's RNC Convention in July.  From ABC News: The Greensboro Police Department in North Carolina has rescinded its offer to send 50 police officers to Cleveland in July to help secure the Republican National Convention, citing a lack of workers' compensation insurance provided by the city for visiting officers, as well as staffing challenges and a failure of logistics and planning for the...

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Activists Make Progress With City of Raleigh on Police Accountability

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 4:01 PM

The Raleigh city manager and city attorney reviewed a list of requests from a coalition of activists calling for more police accountability and issued a response this week. On Wednesday evening, members of the Police Accountability and Community Task Force (PACT) met with city manager Ruffin Hall and other city leaders, where PACT members say city staff committed to implementing two of PACT’s policy recommendations, and to exploring others. In March, just a few days after the shooting death of Akiel Denkins by a Raleigh officer, PACT submitted eight requests for police reforms to the city’s Human Relations Commission. The...

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The Morning Roundup: The End of Days Is Officially Nigh

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 8:29 AM

1. The Four Horseman are suiting up. We’ll begin with an item that, while not really being “news,” is nonetheless kind of mind-boggling: Donald Trump—the orange-hued reality-TV insult comic, the animated incarnation of those conspiracy chain emails your aunt sends you—will officially be the Republican Party’s nominee for president. Of the United States.  God help us all.  The New York billionaire shrugged off signs of discord in his party hours after sewing up the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination, a feat that completed an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the...

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Margaret Spellings Installs AEI Conservative as UNC Senior Vice President

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 7:49 AM

So it begins: Yesterday, new UNC president Margaret Spellings announced the appointment of Andrew Kelly to a newly created position called "senior vice president for strategy and policy." The school will pay him $245,000 a year.  A UNC release notes that Kelly was a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute from 2002-2005, and returned to AEI in 2009 as a research fellow in education policy studies. He is also the founder and director of AEI's Center on Higher Education Reform.   The American Enterprise Institute: Why does that ring a bell? Oh, right: It's a big, conservative think tank...

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

N.C. Dems Want McCrory Press Staffer's Communications Regarding Coal Ash

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Court testimony suggests that Duke Energy officials and Josh Ellis, Gov. McCrory's communications director, lobbied state environment and health officials to lift "do not drink" advisories for  people living near coal ash ponds despite these officials' reservations that the water wasn't safe. The North Carolina Democratic party wants to know just how far Ellis's involvement goes, and announced Thursday afternoon that it is requesting all of Ellis's communications with Duke Energy representatives, as well as with officials from the state's Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Environmental Quality. "According to testimony, officials from Duke Energy and McCrory spokesman...

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Division of Motor Vehicles Denies New Dealership License For Tesla

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 1:47 PM

Automotive News reported earlier this week that the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles denied a Tesla Motors application to open a dealership in Matthews. The ruling is the latest in a long series of battles Tesla has waged with dealership groups and state lawmakers on the legality of its direct-sales model. Tesla owns and operates its own dealerships, which the automaker says allows it to more effectively retail its vehicles. Opponents of the direct-sales model have said it hurts consumers. The electric automaker argued this month that the Matthews location should be exempt from the state’s ban on...

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House Committee Passes Bill Establishing Achievement School Districts

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 10:10 AM

On Wednesday night, the House Education (K-12) Committee gave its approval to a bill that would allow the state to choose charter school operators to take over low-achieving school districts in North Carolina, an idea that has been tried in other states and failed to produce positive results.  HB 1080 would transfer five participating schools in the bottom 25 percent of achieving schools in the state over to an Achievement School District. The ASD's superintendent would then recommend an AS operator, which could be either nonprofit or for-profit. Teachers at the five schools would have to reapply to get back their...

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The Morning Roundup: Art Pope Group To Save the Day?

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 8:27 AM

Good morning, fam. It's Thursday and HB 2 remains a scourge upon this once great land. But don't worry! 1. A veritable dream team of non-government, liberal and conservative leaders has come together to "quell the furor." The group, led by former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker, a Democrat, and Art Pope, who needs no introduction, hopes to get folks on each side of the HB 2 debate talking to each other again and possibly to bring about some legislative changes. Other notable members include former Republican Gov. Jim Martin (who is not Jim Hunt) and conservative leader John Hood.  Hood...

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Former Durham Council Member, Civil Rights Icon Howard Clement III Dies at 82

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Former Durham City Council member and local civil rights icon Howard Clement III has died at the age of 82. The news was reported Wednesday afternoon by Derrick Lewis of CBS North Carolina, and soon after, confirmed by the City of Durham: Source confirms former #Durham city councilman Howard Clement passed away this morning from a long-term illness.— Derrick Lewis (@DerrickQLewis) May 25, 2016 As reporter Billy Ball wrote for The INDY in 2012, Clement had "a résumé like a history book."      He was there in July 1963 when activists helped to integrate Durham's Carolina Theatre during the civil rights...

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Bill Back-Tracking Duke Energy Coal Ash Cleanup is Moving Through the Legislature

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 8:58 AM

Last week, after getting news it didn't like from North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality about having to clean up its 33 coal ash ponds across the state, Duke Energy vowed to "clarify" the state's 2014 Coal Ash Management Law" within the next sixty days. The energy giant is making good on that promise in the form of a bill that was modified to bail Duke Energy out of having to clean up its coal ash after the DEQ news broke. The bill passed the House Rules Committee on a voice vote late yesterday afternoon. Among other provisions, the bill...

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The Morning Roundup: Mostly Bad News

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 7:33 AM

Let's just get it over with.  1. Black pastors rally together in support of HB 2. You read that right. Yesterday, a whole bunch of preachers, mostly black, gathered in Raleigh to express outrage about the fight over HB 2 being compared to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Christ. The N&O explains:  The idea for the rally crystalized after Clarence Henderson, one of the students who participated in sit-ins at the Woolworth’s diner in Greensboro in 1960, wrote an op-ed piece in last week’s Charlotte Observer saying it was a gross exaggeration to compare the two issues. This...

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Surprise, Surprise: North Carolinians Still Don't Like HB 2

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 1:33 PM

Public Policy Polling released its monthly survey of North Carolinians, and what they found about HB 2 will...not shock you:  Only 35% of voters in the state support the bill, to 44% who are opposed to it...50% of voters in the state would like to see it repealed, compared to only 38% who think it should stay on the books. That includes a 46/39 spread among independents in favor of repealing it. Polling on the HB 2 has remained consistent since before the bill was even passed: back on March 22nd, the same organization found just 25 percent of respondents...

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What's in Store for Bicycling in Durham? A Quick Chat with Bryan Poole, Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner for the City

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 1:05 PM

The City of Durham is in the process of updating its bicycle and pedestrian plan. That means right now is a good time to formally complain about the lack of sidewalks in your neighborhood or the lack of bike lanes on your route to work. There are a couple ways to do this. One is to head over to the Durham Bike+Walk Implementation Plan site, where you can identify and comment on specific biking/pedestrian issues by drawing on an online map. You can also view others’ comments. For example, at Roxboro and Trinity, a citizen has noted: “2 lanes...

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The Morning Roundup: The Charlotte City Council Walks Away From HB 2 Deal Offer

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 8:10 AM

Good Tuesday morning, folks. OK, this is just too damn funny. 1. Hey, GOP lawmakers: Sike! Republican state lawmakers must have been giddy with anticipation for Monday night, when the Charlotte City Council was supposed to repeal the local anti-discrimination ordinance that resulted in the state's retaliatory, anti-transgender HB 2 law.  Oh, the smirking in front of TV cameras that would have followed. Oh, the accompanying "I-told-you-liberals-so" lectures. And the ads! By god, the TV ads for the re-election campaigns would've just written themselves! But guess what? Monday night: Didn't happen. The Charlotte Observer reports: After a weekend of furious...

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Monday, May 23, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Decision Day

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 8:36 AM

Good morning! Today is something called World Turtle Day.  1. Charlotte Chamber of Commerce head encourages City Council to do incredibly stupid thing. You may or may not have heard over the weekend that Charlotte is considering a "deal" with General Assembly leaders to repeal its ordinance extending non-discrimination protections to the LGBT community, in the hopes that the General Assembly might change its mind on HB 2. Charlotte Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Morgan took to the opinion pages of the Charlotte Observer to offer up his bad opinion on this: As The Charlotte City Council considers action...

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Friday, May 20, 2016

The Morning Roundup: We Are Governed by Morons

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 8:54 AM

Happy Moogfest Friday, everyone! There’s a lot in the news this morning, so let’s jump right in.  1. We’ll begin with Congress, home to many a moron.  Yesterday Republicans in the House decided, in a very close vote that required a ton of arm-twisting, that it’s just hunky-dory for federal contractors to openly discriminate against LGBTQ folks.  Democrats shouted “Shame! Shame!,” but seven Republicans switched their votes under pressure from House leaders Thursday and defeated a measure to protect gay rights. “They literally snatched discrimination from the jaws of equality,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said.The final vote was 213-212 after...

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

McCrory Spins Braeburn Pharma's Decision to Proceed with N.C. Plans Despite HB 2

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 3:46 PM

This week's  news release from Gov. McCrory's campaign, trumpeting Braeburn Pharmaceuticals' decision to proceed with plans for a $20 million Durham County facility despite disgust over HB 2, is characteristically full of crap. That, basically, is the conclusion of reporter Tom Bullock of Charlotte NPR station WFAE 90.7, who sums up McCrory's desperate self-congratulating and deflective finger-pointing this way: Facts are often the first casualty in tough political races. They can be twisted and distorted to allow a candidate to claim a victory even one they don’t deserve.   Governor Pat McCrory’s campaign had just such a moment this week. ...

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Former Republican North Carolina Chief Justice Comes Out Against the Death Penalty

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 2:53 PM

In a Huffington Post blog yesterday that was reposted by NC Policy Watch today, I. Beverly Lake III—a former justice on the N.C. Supreme Court who served as an associate for from 1994–2000 and then as its chief justice until 2006, and who unsuccessfully ran for governor against Jim Hunt in 1980—wrote that "protecting the innocent from a death sentence isn't enough" and implied that the death penalty "probably cannot" ever be constitutional under the Eight Amendment.  Lake sat on the court during thirty-four of the forty-three executions carried out in North Carolina since 1977; since leaving the court, he's become an...

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The Morning Roundup: The One With The Budget

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 8:40 AM

Good morning, it is Thursday. Here's what's up.  1. The House agrees on a budget that a lot of Democrats like.  The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of a $22.2 billion budget on Wednesday, with just 12 Democrats, one of them being Democratic House leader Larry Hall, voting against. The plan would give teachers up to a 5% pay raise, which - surprise - still doesn't bring North Carolina to the national average.  From the N&O: Teachers would get a pay raise of up to 5 percent, and most other state employees would get a 2 percent raise under...

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Some Answers—but Still More Questions—in the Officer-Involved Shooting of La'Vante Biggs

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 4:17 PM

Yesterday, Durham Country District Attorney Roger Echols announced that he had found no probable cause to charge any Durham police officers in the September 2015 death of La'Vante Biggs.  Biggs, clearly suicidal and holding what was later revealed to be a BB gun, was shot and killed following negotiations with DPD officers that lasted about fifty minutes. Four officers fired a total of twelve shots at Biggs, five of which entered his body.  Last month, Biggs's family stood outside the Angier Avenue house where their son was shot and demanded answers.  "I want to know why the police treated my...

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DEQ Classifies All North Carolina Coal Ash Pits As High or Intermediate Priority for Cleanup

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 12:18 PM

North Carolina's Department of Environmental Quality released its final risk classifications for all 33 of the state's coal ash pits Wednesday, and the news is good-ish. Eight sites are classified as high-risk sites, and 25 are classified as intermediate-risk, based on dam deficiencies that are currently being repaired and potential impacts to nearby groundwater, DEQ says. None are listed as low-priority sites, which would have meant coal ash could have been capped in place in unlined storage pits at these sites, where it could continue to pollute groundwater. These classifications were mandated under the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014...

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The Morning Roundup: Raleigh Budget Deets, Elton John on HB 2, and a Defecation Mystery Solved

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 7:50 AM

Hello, Wednesday. Your headlines:  1. Food desert program under attack from N.C. Republicans. A measly $300,000 program that would help put healthy food in convenience stores located in food deserts is being targeted by pricks in the N.C. House. Per the N&O, the program would "provide $6,000 grants to install refrigerators in convenience stores serving communities that don’t have access to grocery stores."  Michael Speciale, a trash person who represents New Bern in the N.C. House, wants to remove the program from the House budget proposal. He gave as his reason the following statement:  “Not many people go to convenience stores to buy fruits...

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