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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Primer: North Carolina Might Be the Future of U.S. Politics and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 8:51 AM

Morning, folks. There’s a lot of ground to cover today. I’ll do so as expeditiously as possible. Let’s begin. 1. IN N.C., THE FUTURE OF POLITICS. THE GIST: Jason Zengerle is out with a piece in The New York Times Magazine this week that poses something of an unsettling question: “Is North Carolina the Future of American Politics?” It leads with the Air Horn Orchestra—the INDY’s former managing editor, Grayson Haver Currin, and partner-in-rabble-rousing Tina Haver Currin get a shoutout—shutting down and then reconvening to protest Governor Cooper’s HB 2 compromise. But the bulk of the story centers of the...

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

HUD: Orange County Housing Authority Is “Troubled”

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 4:52 PM

The Orange County Housing Authority’s Section 8 housing program has been listed as “troubled” by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for nearly nine months. The designation was made on September 30, 2016, after the housing authority received a score of less than 60 percent from the Section 8 Management Assessment Program, or SEMAP, which annually measures housing authorities based on 14 indicators, according to HUD spokesman Joe Phillips. Authorities that score 90 percent or higher are listed as high-performing, 60–89 percent scores are considered standard, and scores of less than 60 percent are deemed troubled. Troubled agencies...

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Primer: The NCGA Has a Budget and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 8:20 AM

Greetings and salutations, readers. There’s a lot in the news today, but before we get started, a quick reminder, if you have any thoughts/questions/suggestions/tips as to how we can make Primer better—or if you’d like to get this blog delivered straight to your inbox every morning—email them to indyprimer@indyweek.com. Also, please support our sponsors. (This week’s Primer sponsor is the Raleigh Flyers, the Triangle’s professional Ultimate Disc team.) They keep the lights on. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. WE HAVE A BUDGET. THE GIST: Yesterday, the General Assembly unveiled its $23 billion compromise budget, which would boost teacher pay by 3.3...

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Primer: Trump Is Thinking About Firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 10:27 AM

Happy Tuesday, everyone. There’s a lot in the news, and we’ll get to it straightaway. But first, may I ask a favor? Our first Primer seemed to go well; the response was overwhelmingly positive. But if you are experiencing any problems or have any suggestions about how we can make this newsletter more readable—e.g., if the formatting looks wonky on your computer or device—please pass them along to jbillman@indyweek.com. This is a new venture, and we’re learning as we go. So with that said, let’s go. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. HE WOULDN’T DARE. (WOULD HE?) THE GIST: According to one of...

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Orange County Schools Takes Step Toward Confederate Flag Ban

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 5:56 AM

More than six months after the parent of an Orange High School student founded the Hate Free Schools Coalition in response to Confederate flags on T-shirts, backpacks, and hats on campus, the Orange County Board of Education voted Monday evening to ban racially intimidating symbols from inside local schools. While the policy change won't be official until a second vote is held, should the board move forward with the revision to the system's dress code, students would be prohibited from wearing "clothing, buttons, patches, jewelry or any other items with words, phrases, symbols, pictures or signs that are indecent, profane,...

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Sessions and Trump Are Reportedly At Odds, Comey Set to Testify Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 8:49 AM

First things first. Our annual "Best of the Triangle" edition is on the racks, so go grab one and congratulate the many winners you guys chose. Now let's check out Tuesday's headlines. 1) The Sessions/Trump bromance is reportedly over. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly upset that the president isn't allowing him to do his job. How upset? He offered his resignation. From The New York Times: Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered to resign in recent weeks as he told President Trump he needed the freedom to do his job, according to two people who were briefed on the discussion....

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Morning Roundup: Trump Expected to Pull U.S. Out of Paris Accord

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 10:37 AM

Let's get right to it. 1) President expected to withdraw from Paris accord. Sorry, Mother Nature. From The New York Times: The Obama administration pledged $3 billion to an international fund meant to aid the hardest-hit countries. Only $1 billion of that had been transferred to the fund by the time President Trump took office on Jan. 20. He wants to walk away from the balance of the commitment, though Congress may have the last word. Mr. Trump, his Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt and Stephen K. Bannon, a top White House adviser, argue that meeting the terms of...

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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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Friday, April 21, 2017

The Morning Roundup: President Trump Brings His Classy Friends to the White House

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 10:11 AM

Welcome to Friday, everyone. Let’s do some headlines. 1. The president brought some classy friends to the White House Wednesday. That would be Kid Rock, Sarah Palin, and Ted Nugent, mocking the official portrait of Hillary Clinton. The New York Times has the tick-tock: “We were there for four hours, man!” Mr. Nugent, a 68-year-old Detroit native, said in a telephone interview on Thursday, using a four-letter expletive to signal his amazement at Mr. Trump’s willingness to spend so much time with his three casually dressed visitors. “He gave us a wonderful personal tour of every room and talked about...

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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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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Safe Water Being Distributed Today at Sites in Chapel Hill, Carrboro

Posted By on Sat, Feb 4, 2017 at 10:04 AM

OWASA customers who have been unable to use their water since a line breakage forced officials to shut down a Chapel Hill water treatment plant Friday are being urged to visit one of the many public water distribution sites that opened this morning at 10 a.m. The sites are: CHAPEL HILL: Hargraves Community Center, 216 N. Roberson Street Southern Community Park, 1000 Sumack Road CARRBORO: McDougal Elementary School, 890 Old Fayetteville Road Carrboro High School, 201 Rock Haven Road In addition to the declaration of the water being unsafe for use, customers have been asked to use bottled water to flush...

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Developing Story: Businesses Closed, Water Not Safe

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 12:24 PM

OWASA is urging its customers not to use its water following a water main break and the shutdown of a Chapel Hill water treatment plant—and said residents should consider the water unsafe for at least the next twenty four hours. Customers are being asked to use bottled water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and even flushing toilets. So, stock up. The strain on the water supply prompted Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools to dismiss students early today. Elementary students were dismissed at 1:30 p.m., middle school students at 2:10 p.m., and high school students at 2:55 p.m. In addition, UNC announced...

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Apocalypse … Now? The INDY’s Election Day Live Blog, Part 2

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 3:26 PM

Welcome to the INDY’s Election Day live blog, part 2! There are, as of this writing, approximately 240 minutes until polls close in North Carolina and our long national nightmare finally (hopefully?) comes to an end. Throughout the day, the INDY will have a team of reporters out of the streets of the Triangle, talking to voters, looking into reports of election weirdness, and generally being on the lookout for any news that breaks. As they report in, I’ll be updating this blog. (And with more frequency later in the day, after we put this week’s newspaper to bed;...

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Apocalypse … Now? The INDY’s Election Day Live Blog

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 9:06 AM

Welcome to the INDY’s Election Day live blog! There are, as of this writing, approximately 630 minutes until polls close in North Carolina and our long national nightmare finally (hopefully?) comes to an end. Throughout the day, the INDY will have a team of reporters out of the streets of the Triangle, talking to voters, looking into reports of election weirdness, and generally being on the lookout for any news that breaks. As they report in, I’ll be updating this blog. (And with more frequency later in the day, after we put this week’s newspaper to bed; one of the...

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Expanded Early Voting Hours Begin Today and More Clown News

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 8:10 AM

Happy Thursday, folks here's some of today's headlines:  1. Early voting locations expand throughout the state today. As the second week of early voting (also known as one-stop voting) begins, counties are adding more locations for early voting. In Durham, it's ballooning from five locations to thirteen. Other counties like Forsyth County, which only had one location for the first week, will finally allow voting at satellite locations. By opening other locations many counties will have the opportunity to help solve the problem of congestion and long wait times, but the hope is to all bring in more voters. WRAL has...

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Chapel Hill Is Probably Getting a Wegmans, Becoming a 'Foodie Place'

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Good news for the "Bring Wegmans to the NC Triangle Area - Please" Facebook group: the grocery retailer announced yesterday that it intends to open a new store in Chapel Hill in the next few years.  The spot it has selected is on U.S. 15-501, just east of the Wendy's—you know the Wendy's—on a piece of property currently occupied by Performance AutoMall, which is moving to The Streets at Southpoint next year. Leaders from the Town of Chapel Hill and the Orange County Board of Commissioners announced the news in a release yesterday. “We are working proactively to bring new...

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Party Barn Hearing Ends Without Resolution, Continued to Later This Month

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 12:37 PM

A grueling, four-and-a-half-hour meeting of the Orange County Board of Adjustments Monday night was not enough time for the board to arrive at a conclusion on the matter of Bingham Township's "party barn."  The standing-room-only crowd in the basement of 131 W. Margaret Street, in Hillsborough, heard from all sides in the dispute, which the INDY reported on last month. That included Kara and Chris Brewer, who intend to build a wedding venue/events space called The Barn of Chapel Hill on twenty-two acres of property in rural Orange County; neighbors of that property who argue their quiet, rural lives will...

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Party Barn Appeal Will Be Heard in Mid-October

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 12:47 PM

The saga of the "party barn" arrives at another pivotal moment next month.  The Orange County Board of Adjustment has set October 10 as the date to hear an appeal from the neighbors of Kara and Chris Brewer. The Brewers, under an LLC known as Southeast Property Group, are in the midst of constructing a forty-two-hundred-square-foot barn/events space on twenty-two acres of property they purchased in Bingham Township last year.  Neighbors—concerned about an intrusion of traffic, parking, and noise in their serene section of the county—have filed an appeal of the Orange County planning department's decision to issue the Brewers...

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

UNC Sophomore Alleges She Was Raped By Football Player

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 1:57 PM

A UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore is expected to detail this afternoon a Valentine's Day rape she says she endured at Ram's Village, an on-campus apartment complex.  The alleged perpetrator? A UNC football player. According to statements released by the woman's attorney, Denise Branch—statements that the victim, Delaney Robinson, her father, Stacey Robinson, and Branch will read during a 2 p.m. press conference—the case has yet to be prosecuted, despite the fact that Robinson filed a report with the university's Title IX office. From the release: "I did everything a rape victim is supposed to do. I reported it. I allowed the...

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Op-Ed: On Labor Day, A Tale of North Carolina’s Two Economies—and How to Give Those at the Bottom a Leg Up

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 9:36 AM

At first glance, North Carolina’s workers have a lot to celebrate this Labor Day. In many ways, it is the best of times. An economy based on textile and furniture manufacturing a generation ago is being rebuilt with the help of industries such as banking, high tech, health care, and pharmaceuticals. Our Tar Heel State is now adding jobs at the ninth-fastest rate in the country, and several areas are emerging as small-business hot spots. With the famed Research Triangle Park just down the road, a host of health and technology companies have fled the expensive Northeast Corridor to set...

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Will the New Plan for Chapel Hill's American Legion Property Make It Through?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 9, 2016 at 3:04 PM

During a, let’s say, spirited community meeting back in January, a large crowd of Chapel Hill residents made known its disgruntlement regarding a developer’s proposal to build a resort-style luxury-apartment complex on one of the last remaining chunks of undeveloped land in Chapel Hill. That property—thirty-six acres in all—is owned by the American Legion Post 6, and it sits just east of Fordham Boulevard and Ephesus Church Road. The Legion intends to sell the land for $10 million to Woodfield Investments, but the deal hasn’t gone through yet. The sale is conditional on a rezoning of the land, which the...

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Light Rail Funding Once Again Jeopardized by State Budget

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 12:07 PM

You'll recall that, last year, the Durham to Orange Light Rail Transit project was derailed by a sneaky, last-minute provision inserted into the state budget that capped state spending on light-rail projects at $500,000. The D-O LRT funding plan called for the state to contribute $400 million. Because of the way the budget process works, it's difficult to know who was responsible for slipping the provision into the budget, and because the Republican leadership is spineless and secretive, not a single GOP official stepped forward to claim authorship of it. Democracy, baby! Some Republicans, including Gov. Pat McCrory (who pushed...

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Friday, June 17, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Lebron Doesn’t Quit, Bernie Almost Does

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 7:45 AM

Happy Friday, everyone. Let’s make this short and sweet and get to the weekend already.  1. Bernie Sanders didn’t quite concede last night.  The Vermont senator didn’t officially quit or endorse Hillary Clinton, but in a message to supporters released last night, he said he’ll soon be joining the fight to defeat Trump (who, frankly, is doing a pretty bang-up job defeating himself, but the more, the merrier, I guess). “Our vision for the future of this country is not some fringe idea,” he said.  Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Thursday in an address to his supporters that he...

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Orange County Follows Durham’s Lead, Introduces Juvenile Diversion Program; Other N.C. Counties May Follow

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 11:30 AM

North Carolina is the worst place in the country to be arrested as a teenager. A draconian state law dictates that sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds picked up for misdemeanors as frivolous as littering or marijuana possession are considered adults in the eyes of the criminal justice system. Every year, thousands of North Carolina teenagers start their lives with a criminal record—and all the hardships that entails—because of dumb mistakes they made before they were even allowed to vote or serve their country. This isn't true anywhere else in America besides New York, which bests N.C. by having a "reverse waiver" provision...

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Friday, March 18, 2016

This Week in the Carolina Comeback: Unemployment Shoots Up All Over the State

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 12:52 PM

The "Carolina comeback" stalled earlier this year, according to the January unemployment numbers the state reported this morning. State officials found that all one hundred North Carolina counties saw a rise in unemployment from its lowest point during the December holiday season.  The state unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, down slightly from 5.9 percent in January 2015 and up from 5.3 percent in December. (The rates aren't seasonally adjusted, which might explain some of the volatility.) A total of 274,460 North Carolina residents found themselves out of work in January 2016.  The highest unemployment rate in January was 15.5...

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