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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Is the General Assembly About to Kill Light Rail?

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2018 at 7:07 AM

The budget adjustment Republicans in the General Assembly crafted behind closed doors, unveiled last night, and are expected to pass by a veto-proof supermajority later this week—for the first time in modern history, without an opportunity for lawmakers to offer amendments, because democracy is for suckers—does a lot of things. It keeps the tax cuts coming, lowering the personal income-tax rate to 5.25 percent (from 5.499 percent), cutting the corporate tax rate from 3 percent to 2.5 percent, and throwing a ton of incentive money at major new economic projects (cough Apple cough). It includes an average 6.5 percent raise for...

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Local Activists Condemn the Detention of Up to Twenty-Five Undocumented Immigrants Across the Triangle

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 2:34 PM

On Friday morning, the activist group El Centro Hispano and officials from around North Carolina denounced a spate of ICE raids across the Triangle that have led to the detention of up to twenty-five local undocumented immigrants over the past several weeks. At a press conference, U.S. Representative David Price spoke about his work to protect undocumented families in North Carolina. Price said that he spoke with ICE officials last week and called on them to be honest and transparent about what initiated the raids. However, he said, they offered little new information about their policies and practices. Price said he believes...

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Friday, April 13, 2018

ICE Raids in Orange and Chatham Counties Swept Up Ten People This Week—Including Immigrant Rights Organizer Maria Peralta’s Stepfather

Posted By on Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 7:33 AM

Members of Siembra NC, an immigration justice group based in Greensboro, offered support for undocumented families in Chapel Hill last night after a stream of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids led to the detention of a reported ten people across Orange and Chatham counties this week. For the activist organization, the raids hit close to home. One of its most active members, Maria Peralta, a student at Guilford College, discovered that her stepfather was among those detained on April 9 in Chapel Hill. In an interview with the INDY, Peralta explained that her stepfather was taking out the trash when...

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Friday, December 15, 2017

UNC Passes System-Wide “Free Speech” Policy

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 6:35 PM

The UNC Board of Governors approved a free speech policy for its seventeen campuses today amid concerns from faculty and civil rights advocates. Effective immediately, the policy outlines how UNC schools may punish a student or faculty member who “substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others.” Individual campuses are empowered to implement sanctions “up to and including dismissal or expulsion." The policy lays out minimum punishments for repeat offenders but says schools can impose different sanctions if warranted. The policy suggests at least suspension for a second offense and...

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thomas Farr and the Radical Remaking of the Federal Judiciary

Posted By on Thu, Nov 16, 2017 at 9:15 AM

Last night, the INDY’s Thomas Goldsmith reported that Thomas Farr, the longtime North Carolina Republican lawyer who is now President Trump’s nominee for the federal bench, appears to have lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Raleigh lawyer Thomas Farr, a nominee for a federal judgeship, knew well in advance about a controversial 1990 postcard campaign designed by Republicans to intimidate blacks who wanted to vote, according to a former Department of Justice investigator. The statements made this week by Gerald Hebert, a federal attorney in 1990, directly contradict Farr's sworn testimony in September before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that...

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

“I Am Human, I Am Black and I Am Fed Up”: UNC Trustees Hear Public Comments on Silent Sam

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 9:07 PM

UNC's Board of Trustees on Tuesday morning heard from students, faculty, staff, and community members about Silent Sam, the Confederate monument on campus. Twenty-eight people addressed the board and Chancellor Carol Folt. Most called for the statue's removal. Two explicitly said the statue should remain as a memorial to students who fought in the Civil War and to the university's history. Others favored adding more context to the monument's history, adding tributes to black figures or moving the statue to a museum or similar setting. Folt had asked the trustees to hear from the public about the statue, which has...

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

UNC Students, Faculty Rally Against Silent Sam, Monitoring of Protesters

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 7:29 PM

UNC students and faculty rallied today against the continuing presence of the Confederate statue known as Silent Sam and the university's use of an undercover officer to monitor a group that has been speaking out about the statue since August. A crowd gathered at UNC's South building, where UNC police chief Jeff McCracken and vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management Derek Kemp looked on as speakers called on the school to remove the statue and end surveillance of protesters. From there, they marched to Silent Sam, which has been the site of protests and a sit-in throughout the fall...

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

UNC Officials Explain Why an Officer Was Sent Undercover to Monitor Silent Sam Protests

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 6:01 PM

UNC Police have issued a statement clarifying the role of campus police around the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam after protesters discovered an undercover officer had been monitoring them. Protesters confronted the officer, who they say posed as a mechanic who shared their views about Silent Sam, in a videotaped conversation that was shared on social media.  In the statement, UNC's chief of police and associate vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management say that while the use of undercover officers at UNC is rare, it is " standard policing practice" on other campuses. "The recent use of an...

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Someone Apparently Shut Down Chapel Hill Town Council Candidate Hongbin Gu's Campaign Mailbox

Posted By on Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 4:57 PM

Hongbin Gu, a candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council, says her campaign's PO box was closed without her authorization, causing some donations to be returned to their senders. Gu explained the "Mystery of Returned Mail" in a Facebook post, saying there wasn't enough evidence to cause the incident sabotage. Her campaign had recently received complaints from supporters that their donation mail had been returned. Turns out, someone put a closing note on the mailbox two weeks ago. Gu says she confirmed with post office personnel that her campaign had not authorized the closing of the mailbox and that all rental...

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Lawsuit Alleging Illegal No-Hire Agreement Between Duke and UNC Reaches Partial Settlement

Posted By on Fri, Oct 27, 2017 at 5:30 PM

A judge has granted preliminary approval for UNC to settle a lawsuit over allegations that a no-hire agreement between the university and Duke violated antitrust laws. The lawsuit was filed in 2015 on behalf of Danielle Seaman, who was an assistant professor of radiology at Duke, who says she was passed over for a similar job at UNC because of an agreement between medical schools at the two institutions not to hire each other's employees for positions of the same rank. The law firm representing Seaman announced the partial settlement news this morning. Duke has not settled in the case. Duke...

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Monday, September 18, 2017

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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Friday, September 8, 2017

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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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Silent Sam Protesters Are Taking a Break, But Vow They'll Be Back

Posted By on Thu, Aug 31, 2017 at 7:53 PM

A group staging a sit-in around a Confederate monument at UNC is taking a break from their protest after campus police seized items from their campsite. A fluctuating group has occupied the base of the statue, known as Silent Sam, since a protest calling for its removal last Tuesday. Several people, mostly students, have camped out overnight around the statue, which is just off Franklin Street. Although they weren't allowed to set up tents (one was taken Thursday by UNC police), they had set up tables, blankets, and signs that covered the statue of the Confederate solider. Tahj Warren, one...

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Monday, August 28, 2017

UNC Grad Students, Campus Employees Seek to Form a Union

Posted By on Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 7:38 AM

Graduate students and campus workers at UNC-Chapel Hill are organizing for better working conditions—and, in the process, reviving the school’s union past. The North Carolina Public Service Workers Union traces its roots to UNC’s campus, where in the early 1990s housekeepers—along with groundskeepers and maintenance workers—organized with goals of better pay and freedom from discrimination. Linking up with housekeepers throughout the UNC system and other public employees, they formed the Public Service Workers Organization that, in 1997, would give way to a new, statewide chapter of the national United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America—UE 150. UE 150 now...

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Demonstrators Question the Police’s Handling of Last Night’s Silent Sam Protest

Posted By on Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 4:43 PM

The arrest of a local activist at a protest on UNC campus last night marked a turning point in what had been until that point a largely conflict-free protest. But around eight p.m., when officers took Greg Williams, of Durham, into custody, leading him away from the crowd, hundreds of protesters followed and found themselves face to face with cops in tactical gear. And it all started because Williams, one of three people arrested, was wearing a bandana over part of his face. It is against state law for a person "wearing any mask, hood or device whereby the person,...

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Tense Moments in A Peaceful Protest of UNC's Silent Sam

Posted By on Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 6:48 AM

Three people were arrested in a protest that brought hundreds of people to the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill and saw several tense confrontations between demonstrators and police. The rally began at Silent Sam, a Confederate monument on campus, with speeches from protesters and chants calling for the monument to be torn down. When police took a protester into custody, much of the crowd ran after them to Hyde Hall. There, protesters confronted officers, some of whom were wearing riot gear. From there, protesters tried to block a police van carrying the person arrested from turning on to Franklin Street....

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

UNC Readies for Confederate Monument Protest Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Aug 22, 2017 at 2:03 PM

While touring the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill on Tuesday afternoon, the Tice family took a detour. "We thought we'd see the statue, since it might not be here," said Deborah Tice, standing about fifteen feet from the first of two rows of metal fencing surrounding Silent Sam, a monument to Confederate soldiers just off Franklin Street. The family, from New York, had heard reports of a protest at the statue planned for seven tonight and decided to check it out for themselves. Their daughter, Maia, is considering applying to the school. As students milled about campus and news stations set...

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DSI Comedy Will Close August 28, Zach Ward Says

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 7:40 AM

DSI Comedy Theater in Chapel Hill will close August 28, its founder announced this morning. The news comes after Zach Ward, who started the theater in 2001, faced accusations on social media of sexual harassment, discrimination in giving stage time to women performers, and unfair pay. Ward has said a sexual encounter with a patron detailed in a Facebook post did not occur as described and denied allegations that he created a toxic environment at DSI and took advantage of performers' free labor. Ward, who also founded the N.C. Comedy Arts Festival, said in a statement this morning that the theater will...

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

DSI Comedy Owner Steps Down Amid Posts Alleging Sexual Misconduct, 'Toxic Environment'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 1:15 PM

The owner of DSI Comedy is taking an "indefinite leave" from the Chapel Hill theater amid allegations of harassment, sexual misconduct and unfair work practices. In an emailed statement this afternoon, Zach Ward says if he doesn't find a buyer, the theater "will likely be no more." The announcement comes after several current and former DSI participants have taken to Facebook to discuss a "toxic" environment at the Chapel Hill institution, including a post from a former student and patron who described an allegedly troubling sexual encounter with Ward. Grace Baldridge Carnes says she penned the post after she heard...

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Primer: Senate Health Bill CBO Score—Fatal Blow or Flesh Wound?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 10:08 AM

Hey, y’all. There’s A TON of news today, and, as ever, I’ll move through it as expeditiously as possible. First, though, a teaser: later this afternoon, the INDY is going to drop part one of what will be a three-part series on North Carolina’s pork industry and its effect on the state’s environment and hog farms’ eastern North Carolina neighbors. Reporters Erica Hellerstein and Ken Fine have been working on this project for months. It’s deeply reported and a very (in my estimation) important read. Keep an eye out for it. Anyway, let’s begin. 1. CBO SAYS 22M WILL LOSE...

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Updated: McClatchy Shut Down The Chapel Hill News As Readers Knew It

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 7:20 AM

The News & Observer will continue printing community papers such as The Chapel Hill News, but for the most part will stop inserting them into daily or Sunday editions of the main paper, N&O editor John Drescher said Wednesday. And as the N&O concentrates more on its digital offerings, additional changes may be coming the main newsroom as well as to the community papers, Drescher said. The Chapel Hill News staff has moved to the newsroom of the Durham-Herald Sun, a publication that the N&O’s parent McClatchy Corp. purchased in December. Journalists Mark Schultz, Tammy Grubb and Virginia Bridges, who had put...

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Durham Commissioners Approve Light Rail Plans, Cost-Share Agreement

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 3:07 PM

Durham County commissioners gave their approval Monday night to an updated transit plan that includes light rail, commuter rail, and improvements to bus service. The commissioners’ approval was one of the final stops for light rail plans before being submitted to the Federal Transit Administration as part of a grant application. GoTriangle, the agency heading up the project, must submit the plans to the FTA by the end of the month in order to move from the planning phase of the grant process to the engineering phase. Board chairwoman Wendy Jacobs called it “the most important vote that I will...

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Morning Roundup: HB 2 Deal Satisfies NCAA; Heels Come Home

Posted By on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 8:28 AM

Rad Sports Illustrated cover. OK. Let's get into it. 1) The NCAA suggests that HB 2 deal is good enough to bring sporting events back to North Carolina. Calling it a move that was "reluctantly" made doesn't make it any better. The NCAA caved. And the organization knows it. This just about says it all. From the NCAA: While the new law meets the minimal NCAA requirements, the board remains concerned that some may perceive North Carolina’s moratorium against affording opportunities for communities to extend basic civil rights as a signal that discriminatory behavior is permitted and acceptable, which is inconsistent...

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Monday, April 3, 2017

The Morning Roundup: UNC Plays for Title Tonight

Posted By on Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 8:29 AM

It's the beginning of a new week, but this isn't your typical Monday. 1) UNC takes on Gonzaga tonight for the college basketball crown. If you're a Carolina fan, you don't need to be reminded about what happened last year. If you're not—or if you don't care about college basketball—here's a quick recap. UNC was trailing Villanova in the 2016 NCAA tournament championship game until senior guard Marcus Paige hit one of the most clutch shots in the history of Carolina basketball (that's saying a lot). Here's a photo: And yes. It looked just that awkward on live television. No...

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Human Error Caused OWASA Fluoride Overdose, OWASA Very Sorry About That

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 2:37 PM

An "unintentional [water treatment plant] operator key stroke"—literally, someone hit the wrong button—caused the overfeed of fluoride that forced OWASA to shut down its water plant last week, according to independent reports released Friday. The extra fluoride dosage, plus a major water main break the next day, prompted a water shortage in Orange County that closed businesses, placed Chapel Hill and Carrboro under states of emergency, and sent residents scrambling to buy bottled water. Customers were unable to use or drink their water for more than twenty-four hours. This afternoon, OWASA released reports on both the February 2 fluoride overfeed and...

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