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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Constituents to Congressman George Holding: You Suck

Posted By on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 2:13 PM

A small group of Triangle activists and constituents gathered in front of U.S. Representative George Holding's office yesterday to deliver a simple message: he's failing. In the form of a fake report card, they gave the Republican representative a bright red "F" for his track record on issues related to health care, the economy, special interests, and Internet privacy. Holding did earn high marks on one category, though: hiding from constituents. For months, constituents from Holding's district, which represents part of Wake County, have been imploring the lawmaker to hold a public town hall. Holding, like many of his Republican...

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Why Are Big-Shot Republicans Donating to Democratic Raleigh Mayoral Candidate Charles Francis?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 6:00 AM

In late July, the Wake County Democratic Party did something it hadn’t done before: endorse a challenger to Raleigh mayor Nance McFarlane. It backed challenger Charles Francis, a banker and lawyer—and, most important, the first viable Democrat to run against the unaffiliated McFarlane since she took office in 2011. It was less a rebuke to the mayor than an example of blind partisan loyalty. As party chairwoman Rebecca Llewelyn explained to The News & Observer, the party’s “mission should be to elect Democrats to office.” But before Francis received that endorsement, he raked in substantial campaign donations from high-profile North Carolina Republicans,...

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Yesterday's Marathon Redistricting Hearing in Review: Angry Dems, Partisan Maps, and No Race Considerations

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 12:51 PM

Greetings from the thrilling world of legislative redistricting, where state Republicans and Democrats are hard at work trying to nail down maps that pass constitutional muster. Yesterday, members of the Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee met to adopt rules for redrawing lines for the twenty-eight legislative districts ruled unconstitutional last year. The conclusion: mapmakers can consider partisan advantage when they draw the new lines, but not race—two criteria that had Democratic lawmakers up in arms. "The districts were declared unconstitutional because of race," said state Representative Mickey Micheaux, the civil rights veteran and colorful Democrat from Durham. "If you...

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Report: Electronic Voting System in Durham Targeted by Russian Cyberattack. Officials Say No Vote Counts Affected.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 6:40 AM

You might remember hearing about voting issues at several Durham precincts on Election Day—particularly, screw-ups with poll books, the electronic systems used to check voters in. Now, NPR reports that the company responsible for providing the poll books was the target of a Russian cyberattack. According to a leaked NSA report, Russian hackers tried to break into VR Systems, the company that provided the poll books for more than twenty North Carolina counties, in August of last year. State officials didn't learn about the attack until nearly a year after it took place—when the news site The Intercept published a...

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bills in North Carolina, Congress Target Companies That Boycott Israel

Posted By on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 7:57 AM

North Carolina senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have cosponsored a bill that could impose stiff criminal and civil penalties for engaging in a boycott of Israel or its occupied territories. A similar—albeit less draconian—state bill, passed in the General Assembly in June, currently sits on Governor Cooper’s desk. These bills target the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to stop companies and individuals from supporting businesses that work in Israeli settlements. Modeled after the anti-apartheid movement, BDS began in 2005 to put pressure on Israel to end policies like its occupation of Palestinian territories, which is considered...

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trump More Corrupt Than Nixon, and Health Care Is a Disaster for the GOP, PPP Survey Finds

Posted By on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 2:37 PM

It's been another blockbuster week for the GOP. After spending seven years slandering Barack Obama's signature health care law and pledging to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, Republicans woke up this morning to a harsh reality. Their signature promise to replace Obamacare failed abysmally, after four Senate Republicans defected—some because it was too draconian, others because it wasn't draconian enough. For now, at least, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's best efforts, it appears as though Obamacare is the law of the land. This, of course, comes in the wake of news that rocked the party last week, after...

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

If Governor Cooper Wins His State Board of Elections Lawsuit, Will Wake Dems Lose?

Posted By and on Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 8:49 AM

On Thursday morning, Gerry Cohen, a former special counsel for the General Assembly, made an interesting observation on Facebook: both the Democratic and Republican parties of Wake County missed the statutory deadline to nominate candidates for the county Board of Elections this year. And that, he wrote, meant that if Governor Cooper was successful in his effort to overturn a law passed last year reconfiguring the structure of elections boards, the Wake board would consist of “two Libertarians and an unaffiliated voter.” (Cooper has so far been rejected by the courts, but he is appealing.) Here’s why: the old state...

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Three New Raleigh Council Candidates Throw Their Hats in the Ring

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 6:22 PM

Three new candidates for Raleigh City Council had filed papers with the Wake County Board of Elections by the close of business Friday. They were Robert William Axtell and William Stacy Miller III in the at-large race, in which the top two vote-getters win spots on the council. (Incumbent at-large member Russ Stephenson has filed to run—although Mary-Ann Baldwin has not—as has challenger Shelia Alamin-Khashoggi.) Meanwhile, Olen Leon Watson III filed to oppose incumbent Corey Branch and James G. Bledsoe in District C. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and challenger Charles Francis seem likely to remain the highest-profile candidates in October 10 municipal...

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Watch U.S. Representative David Price’s Staffers Rap About the Budget or Something

Posted By on Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 10:28 AM

Last night, Triangle congressman Price posted this to Facebook, with the note: “Appropriations season means late nights, but I am lucky to have the most talented staff on Capitol Hill. Here’s proof:” Judge for yourself. ...

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

McFarlane Plans to Run for Fourth Term on Her Record

Posted By on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 4:16 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, officially filing to keep her job Thursday, says she’ll campaign on her record of leading a city where most residents are “pretty happy,” according to a survey. That doesn’t mean she’s brushing off the candidacy of banker-attorney Charles Francis, fifty-four, who became the first to file for mayor last week. October 10 municipal elections will include contested races for city council as well as for the mayor’s job. "I see every race as competitive," McFarlane said after signing up at the Wake County Board of Elections. She was accompanied by a passel of family, from husband...

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

John Odom’s In. What About Mary-Ann Baldwin? Updates from the Raleigh City Council Races.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 6:34 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and challenger Charles Francis seem likely to remain the highest profile candidates in October 10 municipal elections, but city council races are starting to take shape as well. Among the council contents, filings submitted by Tuesday found at-large member Russ Stephenson opposed by Shelia Alamin-Khashoggi (formerly Shelia Jones). In District B, David Cox filed Tuesday to run for re-election for the seat he won following his efforts to ward off high-profile growth in his district. Long-time Wake and Raleigh politician John Odom told the N&O Tuesday that he will oppose Cox in the District B. However,...

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Primer: When Donny Met Vlad, How Wake Lost $600K, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 10:13 AM

Happy Friday, y’all. You know that relatively slow news week we’ve been having? Today found a way to make up for it. Before we jump in—and I’ll do my best to keep it snappy—I’d like to take one last chance to plug this week’s Primer sponsor, Inner Engineering, which will be hosting courses at the end of the month in Raleigh. Get more information here or by clicking on the ad below. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. TRUMP MEETS PUTIN. THE GIST: Today, at the G-20 summit in Germany, President Trump and President Putin, who American intelligence officials believed helped...

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Primer: The DOJ’s Voting Purge + Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 10:26 AM

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Thursday. Let’s get started. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. THE DOJ ASKS STATES ABOUT COMPLIANCE WITH VOTING REGISTRATION ACT. THE GIST: It’s not as benign as it sounds. Last week—the same day President Trump’s voter fraud commission sent letters asking states for detailed information on every voter on their rolls—the U.S. Department of Justice sent letters to all forty-four states covered by the 1993 National Voting Registration Act, including North Carolina, asking about their compliance with a section of the law that specifies when voters can be kicked off the voting rolls. Money quote: “These two letters,...

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Primer: While Trump Tweets, the EPA Chief Plots an Assault on Climate Science, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 9:33 AM

Hey, everyone. Given that this Monday is sandwiched between a weekend and a holiday and many of you are off, I’ll try to keep this roundup short and sweet. One caveat: for logistical reasons, I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, as opposed to early Monday morning, so if anything important breaks overnight and it’s not here, that’s why. Also, I wanted to give a quick shoutout to this week’s sponsor, Inner Engineering, a four-day course designed to give you the tools to create your life the way you want it. Classes are held in Raleigh on July 27–30. Click here...

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Primer: Late-Night Lawmaking, Donald Gets on the Twitter Machine, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 9:07 AM

Hey, y’all. Happy Friday, and happy holiday weekend. Let’s do this. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. LATE-NIGHT LEGISLATING ON JONES STREET. THE GIST: Late last night—technically, early this morning—the General Assembly wrapped up its long session. Here’s a quick rundown of some things that passed at the eleventh hour. Expanded gambling: Assuming Governor Cooper signs the bill, restaurants and bars will now be able to host nonprofit fundraisers that feature both games of chance and alcohol, though they’d need a permit and would be limited in how many of these events they could host a year. In addition, business and trade...

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Primer: N.C. Republicans Want to Impeach Elaine Marshall, Because Why Not, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 8:54 AM

Howdy everyone. How’s Thursday treating you? We’ve got a bunch of state news to plow through, with the legislature about to wrap up its work for the year. So let’s get to it. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. N.C. REPUBLICANS WANT TO IMPEACH ELAINE MARSHALL. THE GIST: Republican Representative Chris Millis—he’ll make another appearance in item 3, if you want to skip ahead—does not like Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who had the audacity to win reelection in November. So yesterday, he introduced a resolution requesting an investigation of Marshall to see if she should impeached, the first time a...

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Farad Ali Officially Kicks Off Durham Mayoral Campaign

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 1:03 PM

Farad Ali wanted to have a community gathering and not just "another speech" to kick off his campaign for mayor of Durham. So Tuesday night, he addressed a crowd at Forest Hills Park. It’s not just "another park" either, Ali said. “This park is in between affluent and less affluent neighborhoods. It’s in the middle. We’re all here,” Ali said. “We’re so much stronger together.” Ali is one of four candidates to announce a bid for mayor of Durham. The other three are Pierce Freelon, an entrepreneur, professor, and musician,; Steve Schewel, a city council member since 2011, former school...

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Primer: The Senate Health Care Bill Stalls, Problems in N.C. Hog Country, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 9:38 AM

Morning, everyone, and a happy Wednesday to you. My apologies for this arriving later than usual. True story: one of the dogs managed to let the cat outside, which kickstarted a chain of events that no doubt appeared rather comical to everyone who wasn’t the cat or me. Anyway, everyone is safe and secure inside now, so away we go. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. THE SENATE DELAYS ITS HEALTH CARE BILL. THE GIST: Following a devastating CBO score Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided he didn’t have the votes after all. At least, not yet. Yesterday afternoon, Republican leaders...

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Orange County School Board Balks on Confederate Flag Ban

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 5:08 PM

Citing a lack of protections for LGBTQ students and students with disabilities, the Orange County School Board balked on officially adding new language to the school system’s dress code that would ban the Confederate flag, swastikas, and other racially intimidating symbols from county schools. The measure, which would prohibit students from wearing clothing and accessories that are “indecent, profane, or racially intimidating,” passed its first reading June 12. Advocates saw Monday's final vote as merely a formality. But board member Donna Coffey said she thought the new language failed to address protections for LGBTQ and disabled students and motioned for the matter to...

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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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Over Accusations of Gerrymandering, Republicans Introduce Bill to Redraw Judicial Maps

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 6:05 AM

A controversial and last-ditch effort to overhaul the state’s judicial maps before the legislative session ends generated fierce debate at a committee hearing Monday, but passed and is headed to the House floor for debate. The Republican proposal, sponsored by Representative Justin Burr of Stanly, would fundamentally alter the state’s existing judicial districts by redrawing prosecutorial districts as well as district and superior court lines—an effort critics say is a transparent attempt to stack the bench with Republican judges and an attack on the judicial branch. They also expressed concern that the bill was drafted without consulting key stakeholders...

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Primer: What Gerrymandering Means in N.C. and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Mon, Jun 26, 2017 at 9:24 AM

Greetings, comrades and fellow travelers, and welcome to Monday. I hope your weekend was relaxing and/or productive. We’ve got lots to catch up on this morning, so let’s get to it. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. N.C. AMONG THE MOST GERRYMANDERED STATES. THE GIST: Over the weekend, the Associated Press came out with a deep dive into the partisan advantage of congressional and legislative districts across the country. Its findings were less revelatory than a confirmation of what we already know: Republicans, who gained control of state houses in 2010 and thus controlled the most recent redistricting process, locked in a...

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Primer: What The Senate Health Care Bill Looks Like and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 9:54 AM

Morning, newshounds. I miiiiight have hit snooze a few too many times this morning, so my apologies for getting this posted a little later than usual. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. HERE’S WHAT THE SENATE HEALTH BILL WILL LOOK LIKE. THE GIST: After spending weeks crafting their version of health care reform in secrecy, Senate Republicans plan to finally unveil their bill today, ahead of a planned vote next week. According to reports in The Washington Post and other outlets, it will look a whole lot like the hugely unpopular American Health Care Act that passed the House, with a few...

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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

NCGA Budget Gives $2.6 Million to Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Posted By on Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 10:58 AM

After weeks of negotiations, Republicans in the General Assembly announced the details of their $23 billion budget agreement Monday, outlining plans to increase teacher pay and slash taxes by a projected $530 million.  An oft-cited provision in the GOP budget would raise teacher pay by an average 3.3 percent and give other state employees a flat $1,000 bonus. The budget would also make a series of tax cuts effective in 2019: lowering the corporate income tax rate from 3 to 2.5 percent, reducing the personal income tax rate from 5.499 to 5.25 percent, and decreasing the franchise tax on small...

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