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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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Monday, December 11, 2017

Indictments Expected This Week in Wake County Register of Deeds Scandal

Posted By on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 6:39 PM

Indictments are expected as early as Tuesday from the grand jury investigating the Wake County Register of Deeds office. Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said last month that investigators will present findings to grand jurors before the end of the year. And Tuesday marks the last day the grand jury will meet, according to public records. Depending on when Clerk of Court Jennifer Knox releases the information, any indictments resulting from those grand jury sessions could be made public Wednesday. The Register of Deeds office, formerly headed by Laura Riddick, showed losses of some $2.3 million between 2008 and 2017,...

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Probe Into $2.3M Loss at Wake County Register of Deeds Office Will Last Until the End of 2017

Posted By on Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 2:45 PM

A state-county investigation into the more than $2.3 million found missing from the Wake County Register of Deeds office will stretch through December, with a grand jury impaneled before the end of 2017, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Monday. The office sustained the losses between 2008 and 2017, according to a claim the county submitted to its insurers. The losses amounted to more than $100,000 a year for nine straight years and sparked investigations by the county, Freeman's office, and the State Bureau of Investigation. Officials involved with the investigation had said earlier that a grand jury could...

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sig Hutchinson: If Wake Stops Investing in Schools and Transportation, It Will Slip Off Those Best-Places-to-Live Lists

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 6:33 AM

Riffing on the familiar gospel song "This Little Light of Mine," Board of Commissioners chairman Sig Hutchinson on Monday praised the bright side of life in Wake County—the rapid growth, increased transit choices, a wealth of educational opportunities, and the much-heralded quality of life. The occasion was the annual State of the County address, where the person in charge totes up the pluses and minuses of the year. Hutchinson went strong on the positives but didn't ignore the spots where the light doesn't always reach, such as jail cells, emergency-department hallways, and homeless shelters where people with mental illness routinely...

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wake Students Will Skip a Tobacco Survey for First Time Since 1999, Prompting a Pushback from County Commissioners

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 4:45 PM

Wake County public middle and high school students will skip a statewide tobacco-use survey this year for the first time since 1999. And county commissioners, irate over of the loss of data about an important health risk, are calling school board members to a special meeting on the matter. Wake County Board of Commissioners chairman Sig Hutchinson said Thursday that he intended to take the matter up at a work session Monday. However, Board of Education Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler and Vice Chairwoman Christine Kushner, who were invited to attend, will be at a state school board association meeting in Greensboro, according to...

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Friday, October 13, 2017

How the Legislature Screwed Up Raleigh’s Runoff Elections

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 4:29 PM

Under state law, Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis has until noon Thursday, October 19, to decide whether to request a runoff against incumbent Nancy McFarlane. Under a different state law, however, early voting for the November 8 election is scheduled to start Thursday morning—before Francis has to actually make a decision—which would seem to make the balloting process somewhat difficult. (Francis says he’ll make an announcement Monday, so perhaps the Board of Elections will be off the hook.) The whole snafu originated with ongoing efforts by state legislators to make it more difficult for black people to vote, according to...

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Make Way for the NIMBY Raleigh City Council, as Newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell Oust Bonner Gaylord and Defeat Stacy Miller

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 8:05 PM

OK, maybe it's a little strong, calling the new configuration of Raleigh's governing body the NIMBY City Council. But with business-friendly incumbent Bonner Gaylord and well-funded challenger Stacy Miller deciding against runoffs for City Council seats Thursday, Raleigh can look forward to a panel replete with neighborhood advocates. They will include newcomers Nicole Stewart and Stef Mendell, as well as victorious incumbents Russ Stephenson, Kay Crowder and David Cox.  Mayoral challenger Charles Francis's decision on whether to seek a runoff against Mayor Nancy McFarlane will be closely watched for its effect on the council to be sworn in December. Gaylord...

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mayoral Challenger Charles Francis Among Three Raleigh Candidates Undecided About Runoff

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 7:08 PM

Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis said Wednesday that he wants to check with supporters and see final vote tallies before he makes a call on a runoff with incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane. In addition, city council candidates Bonner Gaylord and Stacy Miller had not made decisions by Wednesday afternoon on whether to ask for runoffs in their races. Because of a quirk in state law, State Board of Elections officials were urging candidates across North Carolina to decide quickly on whether to request runoffs. McFarlane, an unaffiliated politician, outpolled Francis, a Democrat, by more than six thousand votes but would...

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Stefanie Mendell Outpolls Bonner Gaylord in Raleigh City Council District E; Result Leaves Room for Runoff

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 6:54 AM

In a surprising political development, District E incumbent Bonner Gaylord was outpolled in the North Hills district by challenger Stefanie Mendell, who promised voters she would bring a better balance between strong neighborhoods and development. Neither candidate got the majority of votes cast needed to avoid a runoff. Mendell, in her first run at electoral politics, had 49.67 percent of the vote with all precincts in and Gaylord had 44.93 percent. Raleigh native Gaylord has served four terms on the council, becoming a reliable presence and a frequent ally of Mayor Nancy McFarlane. He was criticized in some quarters for his...

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Runoff for Raleigh Mayor's Post May Be Ahead as Francis Denies McFarlane a Majority of Votes

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 12:04 AM

Nancy McFarlane needed to get 50 percent plus one of the sixty-thousand-plus voters in Tuesday's municipal elections to remain in the Raleigh mayor's office without the possibility of a runoff. However, a vigorous campaign by Democratic challenger Charles Francis won him enough votes to prevent an outright victory. Incumbent McFarlane bested Francis by more than six thousand votes but received 48.45 percent of the unofficial tally, with Francis earning nearly 37 percent, according to unofficial tallies. Francis told WRAL that he would live to fight another day, but at eleven thirty p.m. the McFarlane campaign had not heard directly from...

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

David Cox Outpolls John Odom in Fight For District B seat on Raleigh City Council

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 8:43 PM

Raleigh's District B saw one of the city's closest races in 2015, with political newcomer David Cox defeating veteran Raleigh figure John Odom by 261 votes. This year was an entirely different story, with Cox retaining his seat by taking about 68 percent of the vote, to Odom's 31 percent, with all precincts reporting. Cox made his reputation before the 2015 election by leading neighbors in the northeast region in successfully opposing a planned Publix grocery store development in the district. He has continued to stand for slow-growth causes and a continued presence for the citizen advisory committees that represent...

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Raleigh Mayoral Candidates Wind Up Campaigning, Count War Chests

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 5:36 PM

With the Raleigh mayoral and city council elections less than a week away, the candidates' money is on the table—at least all the coin we'll see until well after the October 10 election is over. But the campaigning isn’t over. Both major candidates will be out on the scene this weekend, with incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane making a stop from eleven a.m. until noon Saturday at Read With Me, a children’s bookstore and art shop at 111 East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh. “This month we get to hear the true story of how our Mayor Nancy McFarlane traveled to the home of...

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Muslim Raleigh City Council Candidate Zainab Baloch Says Defacement of Her Sign Won't Stop Her Campaign

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 12:55 PM

Zainab Baloch, a candidate for a Raleigh City Council at-large post, says her campaign will stand firm against the hateful rhetoric with which vandals apparently defaced her campaign sign on Louisburg Road. Baloch, a Muslim, learned today that a large wooden sign had been painted over with a crude swastika, a racial reference, and the word "Trump." Baloch, a state employee and UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student, is running along with six other candidates for two of the council's at-large seats in October 10 elections.  The candidate's parents immigrated from Pakistan and she grew up in Raleigh. "This will not stop...

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Raleigh Mayor's Race: McFarlane Lends Her Campaign $50K; Francis Discloses New Donations, Spending

Posted By on Mon, Oct 2, 2017 at 7:55 PM

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has lent $50,000 to her campaign to return to office, according to a campaign finance document filed Monday with the Wake County Board of Elections. Meanwhile, her opponent, Democratic lawyer Charles Francis, also made public beefed-up donations and spending. The loan to the Nancy McFarlane Committee was made on Sept. 19, according to the disclosure document. McFarlane, an unaffiliated politician, has raised $119,382.28 for this election as of Aug. 29 and had $61,955.27 on hand, according to document filings. Francis has raised $231,264.69 and has $67,805 on hand, having spent $163,458.80. He did not immediately return...

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Wake’s Troubled Register of Deeds Office Agrees to Audits Already Allowed under Existing Law

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 6:39 PM

Wake County commissioners and the Register of Deeds office, in an effort to resolve problems that resulted in a $2.3 million loss, signed a document Monday that changes nothing about the relationship between the two bodies. Under state law, a county finance director has the authority to audit any county agency that takes in cash. However, participants in a Monday board meeting said, county finance officials tended to lay off former Register of Deeds Laura Riddick's domain because she was an elected official. Meanwhile, during Riddick's tenure, from 1996 until March, at least $2.3 million went missing from money...

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Consultants: Solutions to Wake Affordable Housing Crisis Will Require Cooperation, Cash

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 8:11 PM

Solutions to Wake County's growing affordable housing crisis could require substantial new revenue and changes to county land-use policies, according to a draft presentation on the topic received Monday by the Board of Commissioners. A study by consultants HR&A Advisors found that the county experiences a net loss of between 800 and 1,300 affordable units a year, despite city and county efforts that produce about 1,000 units. A current affordable housing shortfall of 56,000 units is expected to increase to 140,000 during the next two decades. Sig Hutchinson, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said after the presentation that the...

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Public Policy Polling Survey: Some Wake Commissioners' School Funding Vote Means They'd Lose to a Hypothetical Woman

Posted By on Mon, Sep 11, 2017 at 7:10 PM

With the goal of focusing voters and the Wake County Board of Commissioners on the 2018 elections and school funding, Raleigh pollster Dean Debnam released a survey Monday that says 82 percent of likely Democratic primary voters think commissioners should have fully funded the Wake school board's budget request. Debnam owns the nationally recognized, Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling company as well other business interests. The company received at B+ from the polling site FiveThirtyEight in 2016 but has also been questioned for partisanship and for asking off-the-wall questions. PPP spokesman Russ Swindell said Monday that Debnam commissioned the poll to remind...

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It is about the guns, and the efforts of liberalsocialists to keep them out of the hands of victims.

by Pat Orsban on Politicians and the Gun Lobby Want You to Think Parkland Is About Something Other Than Guns. Don’t Let Them. (News)

Plenty of warning signs here. All ignored. No law would have stopped this. One law allowed the body count to …

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This should read "prescribe" not "proscribe," which has the opposite meaning.

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It is about the guns, and the efforts of liberalsocialists to keep them out of the hands of victims.

by Pat Orsban on Politicians and the Gun Lobby Want You to Think Parkland Is About Something Other Than Guns. Don’t Let Them. (News)

Plenty of warning signs here. All ignored. No law would have stopped this. One law allowed the body count to …

by Pat Orsban on You’re Damn Right I’m Going to Politicize This Tragedy. You Should Too. (News)

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