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Friday, May 4, 2018

Hey, Big Spender: See Who’s Giving the Big Bucks to Candidates for Wake County Commissioner

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 5:57 PM

Earlier today, a Raleigh voter named David Bland filed a complaint with the Wake County Board of Elections alleging that liberal activists Dean and Sesha Debnam and Ann and John Campbell have “violated state laws barring excessive contributions and contributions in the name of another.” The claim is based on the fact that Ann Campbell and Dean Debnam each have PACs supporting (mostly) the same candidates, and the Campbells and Debnams have supported each other’s PAC in addition to these candidates and their own PAC. I’d be surprised if this complaint has legs. Still, there’s no denying Debnam and Campbell...

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Lawsuit Claims the Montessori School of Raleigh Refused to Act on Allegations That a Teacher Sexually Abused Students

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2018 at 5:01 PM

In a lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court in January that has so far gone unreported, the parents of two sisters—identified in court documents as Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II—who were allegedly sexually assaulted by a teacher at the Montessori School of Raleigh have accused the school and its leader, Nancy Errichetti, of failing to protect the girls from their abuser and responding their parents’ discovery of the abuse by at first denying it and and then refusing “to take any action with respect to their complaint.” This afternoon, a spokeswoman for the school’s Board of Trustees...

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Here’s What It Would Cost to Give Wake Schools What They Want

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 9:37 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. On Wednesday, I mentioned that the acting superintendent of the Wake County Public Schools System had proposed seeking nearly $490 million in funds from the Board of Commissioners, which would include nearly $59 million in new funding—far and away a record amount. As Commissioner John Burns put it, the ask was “timed well”: many of the county commissioners are in difficult primary fights with the key battleground being their vote last year to give the school system $21 million of the...

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Horrible, No Good, Very Bad NCGA Idea Has Died (for Now)

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 9:14 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Earlier this year, Republicans in the state legislature convened a committee to look at breaking up large school districts into smaller ones. While they claimed they weren’t targeting any particular district, they were responding to some suburban parents in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Wake, by far the state’s two largest districts, who argued for more local control. The biggest problem, though, is that doing...

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wake County Schools Want a Bunch More Money, and This Could Get Ugly

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 9:19 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. In this week’s paper, I wrote some three thousand words on the Wake County Board of Commissioners’ brouhaha over the former Crooked Creek Golf Course and the coming elections and the prospect of big-monied PACs throwing their weight around and how this all links together. (Or, at least, I tried to do all of that. Whether I succeeded, I suppose, is up...

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Wake County Proposes Incentives to Lure Business to Vulnerable Areas

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 7:38 PM

The Wake County Economic Development Department wants to implement an innovative policy that would provide incentives to businesses to make decisions that benefit vulnerable groups across the county. In a presentation at a Wake County Board Commissioners work session today, executive director Michael Haley explained that there are currently fifty-two active projects that would create jobs or expand businesses in the area.  But Danya Perry, manager of equitable economic development, explained that there are still many areas for improvement. Perry offered a few ideas for developing an incentive program to spread economic prosperity to communities that are typically left out....

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There’s Going to Be One Hell of an Awkward Wake County Commission Meeting This Afternoon

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 9:09 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. It’s not actually on today’s agenda, but it will be the elephant lingering in the room. On Friday afternoon, a group of Wake County commissioners—chairwoman Jessica Holmes along with Greg Ford and James West—issued a blistering statement accusing their four colleagues of engaging in “pay-for-play.” This is, I should point out, highly unusual for a Wake County board that is run unanimously...

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Wake Commissioners Holmes, Ford, and West Blast Their Colleagues for Holding a Campaign Event at the Crooked Creek Golf Clubhouse

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 2:26 PM

In a pointed statement emailed to reporters this afternoon, Wake County commissioners Jessica Holmes, Greg Ford, and James West took aim at colleagues Matt Calabria, Sig Hutchinson, John Burns, and Erv Portman over a “private event” being held at the “Crooked Creek Golf Clubhouse.” “Transitioning the now-defunct golf course into a county park was the source of a contentious 4–3 vote this past fall that could result in a $24 million expenditure of taxpayer dollars,” the statement reads. “The purpose of the campaign event, according to social media posts, is to ‘support the elected officials who support this project.’ Several citizens...

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wake Schools Say They’ll Suspend Fewer Kids if They Get More Money

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 9:03 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Last year, Wake schools suspended nearly twenty-four hundred kids, a slight increase over 2015–16, and a significant increase over 2014–15. But while the rate of the increase of suspensions is slowing, that rate is still increasing, which has school board members upset. From the N&O: “‘I personally do not support suspension as a disciplinary tool, period,’ said Jim Martin. ‘Suspensions take students...

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Here’s Why Today’s School Walkouts Actually Matter

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 9:16 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. All over the country today, students will walk out of their classrooms at ten a.m. for seventeen minutes to show solidarity with the seventeen people killed in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month and to call for gun reforms. From USA Today: “Students at more than 2,800 schools and colleges have signed up to participate, according to Women’s...

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Report: Holly Springs, Cary, and Apex Rank Among the Safest Cities in North Carolina

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 5:58 PM

Pinehurst and Elon are the safest cities in North Carolina, and Cary, Fuquay-Varina, and Apex are in the top, according to a recent report by the National Council for Home Safety and Security. But the rankings aren’t entirely comprehensive—some of North Carolina’s largest cities, including Raleigh and Durham, weren’t included in the data. The council used data from the FBI’s latest Uniform Crime Reporting program, which compiles statistics from local law enforcement agencies in order to map out crime rates and trends across the country. Local law enforcement are not required to send their data to the FBI, however, which...

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Representative Duane Hall Says He Won’t Resign, Claims That Sexual Misconduct Allegations Stem from a Vendetta

Posted By on Mon, Mar 5, 2018 at 8:09 AM

Last week, NC Policy Watch published a report claiming that five sources had accused Wake County Representative Duane Hall of sexual misconduct, including one alleged incident of forcible kissing. Since then, Hall has been mostly silent, save for initial statements denying the charges and a later interview with News & Observer opinion writer Ned Barnett, in which he said that, while he’s a flirt, “I have never harassed anyone. Never. Ever.” Even so, Governor Roy Cooper, House Minority Leader Darren Jackson, and N.C. Democratic Party chairman Wayne Goodwin have called on Hall to resign from his seat. Hall is effectively in political...

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Friday, March 2, 2018

Crime Is Decreasing in N.C. Schools, But Not in Wake or Durham

Posted By on Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 9:31 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Here’s some good news, especially in light of recent events: reported crime in North Carolina schools dropped almost 2 percent in the 2016–17 school year and almost 5 percent in high schools. The biggest drop: an 11 percent decrease in possession of a firearm, with a total of 105 cases statewide. From the N&O: “State Board of Education members said the new...

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Cary Students Are Mad as Hell and They’re Not Going to Take This Anymore

Posted By on Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 9:20 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. By far the most encouraging part of the Parkland-massacre aftermath has been the resilience of the MS Douglas High School students, their commitment to seeing this time be the last time. There’s a march in Washington later this month, and grassroots efforts are pushing companies to divest from the NRA and politicians to foreswear the organization’s blood money. Even the president, who...

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North Carolina Transgender Congressional Candidate Wendy May Officially Files for Federal Office

Posted By on Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 6:23 AM

North Carolina congressional hopeful Wendy May made history Wednesday by becoming the first transgender candidate in the state to file for federal office. May, a fifty-six-year-old army veteran, filled out the requisite paperwork at the State Board of Elections office in Raleigh and then cheerfully announced her candidacy on Facebook live. "I am running as the first transgender veteran faith leader from North Carolina," May said, after posing with supporters in front of a campaign poster. "After House Bill 2 was passed, I made a decision, and that decision was never to let that happen in our backyard again. And...

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Report: Five People Have Accused State Representative Duane Hall of Sexual Misconduct

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 2:05 PM

Five people have accused state Representative Duane Hall, a Wake County Democrat, of sexual harassment, and the state Democratic Party chairman is calling for Hall to resign, according to a blockbuster new story from NC Policy Watch (and former INDY) reporter Billy Ball.  Per the report: Behind the scenes, Hall has a reputation for more than his political prowess. Including White, five sources—some of whom requested not to be named for fear of repercussions in their current jobs—detailed persistent sexual innuendo from the three-term legislator and, in some cases, repeated, unwanted sexual overtures. … The allegations include claims that the lawmaker...

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria Will Seek Reelection Instead of Challenging Nelson Dollar for State House

Posted By on Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 1:00 PM

In December, Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria announced that he would run for State House District 36, a seat currently occupied by Republican Nelson Dollar. But in light of a recent court decision that blocked new districts in Wake and Mecklenburg County, Calabria announced today that he has reconsidered. “With the recent court rulings, it's now clear that the legislature's gerrymandering will prevent me from running in NC House District 36,” Calabria told the INDY in a text message. “They split my precinct, which is uncommon, drawing the line very near my house to make sure I couldn't run against...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The NCGA’s Next Big Idea: Break Up the Wake County School System

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 8:56 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. If you were wondering what the next the legislature would do to mess with urban areas, wonder no more: next week, lawmakers will begin studying how to break up large school systems, like in Wake and Mecklenburg, which, as far as I know, no urban government has asked for. From the N&O: “A newly formed joint legislative study committee is charged with...

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Does Southern Wake County Really Need a Massive Toll Road?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 at 8:42 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. A few weeks back, there was a kerfuffle over the final environmental impact statement for the completion of the N.C. 540 beltway around southern Wake County. NCDOT officials, environmental groups said, had misled them about the timeframe for the public comment period [N&O]. The NCDOT’s chicanery aside, it seemed a relatively minor quibble, in the sense that the wheels of bureaucracy—this project,...

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Nearly 20 Percent of Wake Kids Are Food-Insecure. Commissioner Matt Calabria Wants to Fix That.

Posted By on Mon, Feb 5, 2018 at 12:40 PM

Even before he joined the Wake County Board of Commissioners in 2014, Matt Calabria had something of a pet project in mind. “I’ve always been interested in food security broadly,” he says. “I’ve been especially interested in universal breakfast [in schools].” Universal breakfast, he continues, has markedly positive effects on schoolchildren: better performance, better attendance, fewer behavioral problems. And while he was running for the commission, he learned something else he found startling: the county was “underutilizing the summer food-service program”—a U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative that ensures that low-income children have food even when schools is not in session—“leaving...

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One of These People Will Soon Be Wake County’s Manager

Posted By on Mon, Feb 5, 2018 at 8:30 AM

On Thursday night, Wake County residents gathered in Room 2800 of the Wake County Justice Center to meet and learn about the three finalists for the all-important position of county manager: Barry Burton, the administrator for Lake County, Illinois; David Ellis, Wake’s former deputy county manager and now interim manager; and Bonnie Hammersley, the manager of Orange County. The post of manager, which was vacated by the retiring Jim Hartmann in October, is essentially the county’s CEO, leading all of its departments and agencies and implementing the policies of the Board of Commissioners. He or she will also play a...

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Return of Del Burns as Interim Superintendent Recalls Years of Wake School Uproar

Posted By on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 11:52 AM

The return of Del Burns as interim superintendent of Wake County's public schools recalls the rowdy days of 2009, when a new Republican majority took over the school board. In those days, school board meetings could last for eleven hours, and arrests of protesters, including the Reverend William Barber II, offered a preview of Moral Mondays and other demonstrations. Burns, who began his education career as an Aldert Root Elementary School teacher, started as superintendent in 2006 and resigned in 2010, saying he could no longer "in good conscience" serve the Wake schools.  The school board announced Tuesday that...

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Monday, January 8, 2018

What the Hell Happened to Laura Riddick?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 9:38 AM

This post is excerpted from the INDY’s morning newsletter, Primer. To read this morning’s edition in full, click here. To get all the day’s local and national headlines and insights delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here. Andy Specht had an interesting piece in the N&O this weekend that warrants some exploration. It looked former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick, who until last year was a widely respected, longtime public servant, but who now faces embezzlement charges. In short, the people who knew her are trying to figure what the hell happened to the person they knew....

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Let’s Make Sense of the Wake County Register of Deeds Mess

Posted By on Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 8:59 AM

On the one hand, it was obvious from the beginning that this is where we’d end up. The same day Wake County manager Jim Hartmann and District Attorney Lorrin Freeman announced an investigation into missing funds at the Register of Deeds office—later totaled at $2.3 million over a decade—Laura Riddick, the longtime register of deeds, retired. Hartmann and Riddick said at the time that Riddick was retiring because of illness, not the investigation. But the coincidence was a little much. Still, there’s something jarring about seeing a once-well-liked public official hit with six felony charges alleging that she embezzled more...

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Indictments in Wake Register of Deeds Scandal Charge Laura Riddick with Embezzling $926,615

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 4:51 PM

Former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick faces charges of embezzling nearly a million dollars in six indictments returned by a county grand jury Tuesday. Riddick and three other Register of Deeds employees are charged in sixteen indictments related to money under their control. Riddick faces charges including embezzlement of more than $100,000 by a public official, a class C felony under state law. The indictments state that she converted to her own use money that belonged to the office she formerly headed. A series of six indictments charge Riddick with taking $926,615 from the office. "Clearly these indictments...

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