Today's daily clips from the NCDP
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What are politicians saying about Hurricane Florence?
Herald Sun // Rashaan Ayesh, Bill McCarthy // September 25, 2018

Summary: After Hurricane Florence devastated the eastern part of North Carolina, some of the state’s politicians took to social media and politicized the storm. Some comments focused on hurricane relief funding for the state, or the lack of. Others mentioned laws they believe made North Carolina more vulnerable during a large storm. How valid are their comments? We’ll explore four statements to see what evidence there is to support these claims.

Rural NC Impacts

Submerged by Florence, North Carolina’s Rural Towns Fight for Attention
NY Times // Jack Healy // September 20, 2018

Summary: As the rivers trapped them inside their blacked-out town, the dwindling families of Ivanhoe collected rain to drink in plastic pitchers and flushed the toilets with buckets of rust-colored hurricane floodwater. They salvaged thawing chicken from their broken freezers and cooked it over wood fires. They handed out headlamps at bedtime so their family members could find the bathroom in the bottomless dark. They sweated through the night and wondered how long they — and their little farming town — could bear all this. It has been a week since Hurricane Florence slugged ashore, and as much of the Carolinas picks its way back home to assess the damage, this town at the confluence of the Black and South Rivers was still filling up with water. It is a drain trap for Florence’s record rain and floods, with no power and no roads in or out.

Economic Impacts

Florence caused $1.1B in NC agriculture losses
WRAL // Staff // September 26, 2018

Summary: Initial estimates for crop damage and livestock losses in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence are expected to be over $1.1 billion, state officials said Wednesday. "We knew the losses would be significant because it was harvest time for so many of our major crops and the storm hit our top six agricultural counties especially hard," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement. "These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry." The losses far exceed the $400 million caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, officials said.


Nearly 300 NC roads are still closed, including two highways near Wilmington
Charlotte Observer // Richard Stradling // September 26, 2018

Summary: Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina, parts of nearly 300 roads remained closed Wednesday morning due to high water or flood damage, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. The majority of the closed routes are secondary roads where pipes or pavement have been washed away. In some cases the water is still too high to inspect bridges to determine whether they are safe, said NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott. Still closed are two highways in and out of Wilmington. U.S. 117 is still flooded by the Northeast Cape Fear River near Castle Hayne, and the Cape Fear River covers portions of U.S. 421 at the New Hanover County line. Both rivers are receding, but it’s not clear how long the roads will remain impassable, particularly U.S. 421.

Our nearby dams worked after Florence. But someday they won’t.
N&O // Martin Doyle, Laruen Patterson // September 26, 2018

Summary: Over the past week, rivers in North Carolina have broken previous flood records, many of which were set by Hurricane Matthew just two years earlier. Hurricane Florence dropped two to three feet of rain, causing major flooding along the Cape Fear, Lumberton, and Neuse rivers. The Cape Fear River alone carried enough water to fill an Olympic size swimming pool every two seconds—destroying property and highlighting the limits of our country’s infrastructure. Upstream of the flooding on the Cape Fear and Neuse rivers are large dams operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an agency that came under scrutiny for how it operated dams during the 2011 Mississippi and Missouri river floods. The Army Corps must balance keeping reservoirs full enough to provide drinking water, hydropower, navigation, and recreation with keeping reservoirs empty enough to assist with flood control.

Climate Change

Forests help control floods, reduce effects of climate change — unless they’re ground up and burned for fuel
Progressive Pulse // Lisa Sorg // September 26, 2018

Summary: “Hurricane Florence has brought climate change to our doorsteps,” said Danna Smith, executive director of the Dogwood Alliance. “The severity of storms and flooding are indeed due to climate change. Scientists say we must protect forests to avert climate change. Leaving forests in ground smartest thing we can do to protect community from extreme weather events.” Forests help prevent or reduce flooding, such as what occurred during Hurricane Florence, because the soils beneath them tend to be relatively porous, according to “Forest and Floods,” published by the International Water Resources Association. Consequently, there is less runoff and erosion. “This is not necessarily the case for plantation forests,” the article goes on, referring to replanted timber stands, “particularly where no natural understory of vegetation is maintained or where management activities involving site preparation, cultivation, drainage, road construction, and logging may have detrimental effects.” All four Enviva plants are located in or near low-income neighborhoods or communities of color. The company often uses the lure of jobs to convince local governments to allow it to locate in their towns and cities. For example, Richmond County allowed Enviva to build a plant in Hamlet, just north of the largely Black town of Dobbins Heights.


NASA can see dark, polluted Carolina rivers spilling into the ocean from space
N&O // Abbie Bennett // September 24, 2018

Summary: A NASA satellite is tracking flooding in the Carolinas following Hurricane Florence, and its images show dark, polluted water flowing from rivers into the Atlantic Ocean. Nearly 8 trillion gallons of rain fell across North Carolina during the storm, according to the National Weather Service in Raleigh’s estimate. That rain led to catastrophic flooding across the state, and has polluted rivers, streams, creeks and their outflows along the coast, NASA’s satellite images show. Coal Ash

WWAY // Staff // September 25, 2018

Summary: The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says it began testing the water in Sutton Lake near Wilmington Saturday after the Cape Fear River breached a dam around the coal ash pits. The Division of Water Resources began sampling at the south end of Sutton Lake. A lab in Raleigh is analyzing the samples, testing for a suite of 27 heavy metals. The results take four to five days to get back. Results for Saturday’s samples are expected by the end of the week.
Duke: Data show no harm from flooded coal ash dump
Citizen Times // Michael Biesecker // September 25, 2018
Summary: Duke Energy said results from water samples collected downstream of flooded North Carolina coal ash dump show no negative impacts to the Cape Fear River. The data Duke released Monday were from a sample collected over the weekend after a dam breached Friday at the reservoir for the L.V. Sutton Power Station near Wilmington. The results from the sample tested in Duke's in-house lab are very similar to the data collected upstream of the breached dam, with no elevated readings for lead, arsenic, selenium or other toxic heavy metals contained in coal ash. Inspectors from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality also collected samples of the river water. Officials said those results should be available later in the week.
ROBIN SMITH: Staff, budget cuts left N.C. less ready when Florence hit
WRAL // CBC Opinion // September 26, 2018

Summary: During and after the storm, state environmental agencies are called on to respond to dam failures and landslides. The Department of Environmental Quality – particularly staff in the department’s regional offices – provides the state’s first line of response to environmental impacts. The seven regional offices house staff from multiple state environmental programs including those managing waste disposal, regulating animal operations and enforcing water quality laws. A 2011 budget provision specifically targeted the regional offices for staff cuts and later budget reductions that disproportionately affected water quality programs. By the end of 2016, budget cuts had reduced the state’s water quality program staff by 18 percent compared to 2010 levels. Those reductions were felt most acutely in the regional offices where there was a 41 percent reduction in water quality staff. Those programs have not recovered. Instead, new state funding in recent years has been earmarked for projects with legislative support. Some of those legislative priorities are important, but legislatively mandated projects often did not include funding for additional staff. Without staff, new projects put an additional burden on already depleted staff resources. As a result, Florence made landfall in a state unprepared to respond to the environmental impacts of a major flood event.

The Hurricane Damage That Didn’t Have to Happen
New Republic // Emily Atkin // September 26, 2018

Summary: Several areas of southeastern North Carolina are still facing dangerous conditions from Hurricane Florence, the catastrophically wet storm that crawled over the state more than a week ago. But the Outer Banks are open for business. Miraculously, the state’s 18 highly developed, low-lying barrier islands were spared Florence’s worst effects; preliminary reports showed only a few million dollars in damage. “We were really blessed on this one,” resident Matt Paulson told the local Fox affiliate.The state’s Republican politicians were blessed, too. Because if Florence had hit the barrier islands directly, they would have been blamed for making the damage far worse than it had to be. In 2012, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law allowing developers to ignore the latest climate science showing that sea-level rise would essentially drown the islands by the century’s end. As a result, according to The Washington Post, “Billions continue to be invested in homes and condos on low-lying land,” as well as bridges and roads.When a powerful hurricane like Florence does target the Outer Banks in the future, as one inevitably will, lawmakers will have to account for the preventable devastation their climate law engendered. For now, though, they only have to grapple with the not-insignificant damage from Florence—some of which can also be tied to state lawmakers’ decisions in recent years.

Scientists Warned Of Rising Seas In North Carolina. Now The State Is Dealing With A Disaster.
BuzzFeed // Brianna Sacks // September 25, 2018

Summary: Six years after North Carolina lawmakers banned the use of a scientific report that predicted accelerated sea level rises due to climate change, researchers said this week that storm surge from Hurricane Florence damaged twice as many homes because of consistently swelling seas and inadequately adapted developments. Since the powerful storm walloped the Carolina coast on Sept. 14, the storm has left at least 43 people dead and caused billions of dollars in damage. Several rivers in North Carolina are still overflowing into bordering towns, cutting off aid to residents and spurring new evacuations. In a report published Monday, scientists at the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit sea level research and communications group, found that since 1970 sea levels off the coast of the Carolinas rose 6 inches, causing storm surge from Florence to "significantly affect" more than 11,000 additional homes when it slammed into the region nearly two weeks ago. Large chunks of the state are still battling record-level flooding and thousands of people remain evacuated and without power. The researchers gathered the data from a host of federal organizations, including the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as local governments in hard-hit coastal regions and historical elevation data to assess how Florence impacted communities when compared with past storms.

Hurricane Florence: When Climate Change Meets Bad Policy
Rolling Stone // Sean Woods // September 25, 2018

Summary: North Carolina is facing a potential environmental disaster, on several fronts. Scientists and environmentalists have known the dangers for years. Yet the Trump administration and Republicans in local legislatures roll back protections. Why? The answer, as always, seems to be short-term profit. But as monster storms like Florence become more common, we will continue to see the same outcome: When climate change meets bad policy, what follows is human misery.

Proposed bill would forgive missed school days
StarNews // Cammie Bellamy // September 24, 2018
Summary: Schools in Southeastern North Carolina could be forgiven the nearly three weeks of class missed because of Hurricane Florence -- if the General Assembly approves a proposed disaster relief bill. At a news conference in Wilmington Monday, Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, and Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, announced they planned to file a disaster relief bill aimed at schools. Among its provisions is a proposal to forgive all canceled school days in counties that were declared disaster areas, including Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties. Horn, who co-chairs the House standing committee on K-12 education, said legislators expect to go into session this week or next.
Lawsuit filed against CSX over Lumberton flooding 
WRAL // Travis Fain // September 26, 2018

Summary: Attorneys filed a potential class action lawsuit against CSX on Monday, accusing the rail company of prioritizing its tracks over the people of Lumberton as Hurricane Florence approached. The complaint, filed in federal court on behalf of at least five people, accuses the company of dragging its feet on a floodgate pitched as a solution to West Lumberton's flooding following Hurricane Matthew. It also says the company pushed back against local requests to build a temporary berm across CSX tracks as Florence advanced. "CSX was aware that the underpass was a point of vulnerability for major flooding in Lumberton, ignored reports warning of the need for a permanent floodgate, and refused city officials’ pleas for permission to build a temporary berm to protect against forecasted Hurricane Florence flooding," the lawsuit states. That project consisted of volunteers and members of the National Guard piling dirt and sandbags across the tracks. Gov. Roy Cooper's office issued an emergency order allowing the project to go forward after CSX refused, according to the Governor's Office and to state Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, who represents the area and helped lead berm construction.  "CSX officials who were contacted did not consent to allowing for sandbagging of the tracks, arguing that there was no proof that it would work and that it would cause significant damage to their tracks," Cooper spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said in an email. "Upon further consultation and advice of local and state emergency management, the Governor issued an emergency order on Friday morning (Sept. 14) to allow for the construction of a temporary berm at the CSX railroad intersection." Chimelewski said last week that order wasn't necessary, but she could not say when CSX gave the go-ahead for the project. "The governor's order was not needed," she said. "I just don't know the timing." Chimelewski said she was unable to clarify this when contacted Tuesday, after the lawsuit had been filed. Britt said CSX officials seemed surprised when they showed up at the site Friday and saw the berm project was underway. He said he'd requested a hard copy of the governor's order to have on hand. "They clearly didn't know we were there," Britt said. "After they knew about the governor's order, they might have said that [they allowed the project]," he said.

A plague of mosquitoes has emerged after Florence. NC governor vows $4M to fight them.
WRAL  // Abbie Bennett  // September 26, 2018

Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday ordered $4 million to be spent on mosquito control in counties “under a major disaster declaration.” “Those counties include: Bladen, Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wayne, and Wilson,” according to the governor’s statement. “To help local communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I’ve directed state funds for mosquito control efforts to protect people who live in hard-hit areas,” Cooper said in the statement. The money will be available as soon as Thursday, and each county will get an amount of money determined by how much of their land needs treatment, the release said. “I’m grateful to Governor Cooper for taking this action to allow us to provide a critical public health service,” Craven County Health Director Scott Harrelson said in a statement. “This has been a serious issue for our county and many others impacted by Hurricane Florence.”

PHOTOS: Governor Roy Cooper visits with emergency responders
JD News // Janet S. Carter // September 25, 2018

Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper traveled throughout eastern North Carolina to visit communities impacted by Hurricane Florence. One of those stops was in Lenoir County.

Cooper, Republicans vow to work together on hurricane relief
ABC 11 // Jonah Kaplan // September 25, 2018

Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican leaders in the General Assembly confirmed on Tuesday their intention to order a special legislative session for hurricane relief on October 2. "The first thing we need to do is unlock the rainy day fund," Cooper told ABC11 while touring damage in Kinston. "Clearly, there's been a rainy day in North Carolina." Lawmakers confirmed the reserve fund has about $2 billion set aside for natural and economic disasters such as this; the state legislature appropriated more than $360 million for Hurricane Matthew recovery the last two years.


Nelson Dollar

After nearly six years, Medicaid reform finally entering the home stretch
Carolina Journal // Dan Way // September 26, 2018

Summary: As chief budget writer in the House, state Rep. Nelson Dollar is accustomed to dealing with big numbers. But he marvels at the pending $6 billion layout to launch the first phase of the state’s Medicaid transformation to a managed care format. “That’s roughly a third of the Medicaid procurement, so it’s the largest procurement in the history of the state of North Carolina,” the Wake County Republican told Carolina Journal. “It just tells you the enormity of what you’re dealing with.” The government insurance program for the poor, elderly, and disabled serves about 2 million North Carolina residents. 

Jeff Tarte

Midterms Could Impact Work of North Carolina IT Oversight Committee
Government Technology // Theo Douglas // September 25, 2018

Summary: Replacement of a statewide enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, a major tech initiative in the state of North Carolina, is unlikely to be affected by the Nov. 6 midterm election, but members of a joint IT oversight committee said recently their work could be inhibited by the looming contest. Tarte and Saine, both Republicans, and fellow committee member Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, a Democrat, all face re-election in November and spoke warmly of working relationships across the aisle in the Legislature, noting the divisiveness of the current political climate and the intense need in IT stewardship to find common ground. “As far as relationships, IT, we’re a nonpartisan, nonpolitical entity. We’re here again as a function to serve so that you can do your job better. That’s what we do. And the foundation of it is relationships,” Tarte, a three-term mayor of Cornelius, a Charlotte suburb, said during the panel. Saine said “there’s nothing partisan about technology,” and called it “agnostic as far as politics go.” “One thing that I think is very clear to me, we may not agree on tax policy, we may not agree on guns, but we certainly agree on technology being able to achieve us efficiencies in building a smarter, more efficient government,” Chaudhuri, who is finishing his first two-year term this fall, told the audience. The Nov. 6 contest complicates relationships “emotionally,” he added, knowing some of his newfound friends face difficult races. But midterms could also potentially slow the committee’s work, Tarte and Saine said in conversation as an empty chair on the dais behind them underscored the constancy of change. Democratic Rep. Edward Hanes Jr., scheduled to join the panel, resigned to pursue other opportunities on Aug. 7, as reported by The News & Observer. Regardless of the reason, departures have an impact, Saine said. “Just like in IT, you’ll have retirements or folks who get retired, who have levels of expertise. Election cycle comes and now you start all over again. We’ll have new folks who then have to be caught up to speed. And then that will take us close to a year and before you know it, we’re running again for re-election and focus goes on to something else,” Saine said, adding he “can’t fault” Hanes for his decision. Saine and Chaudhuri are considered safe and likely to win re-election, they said. But Tarte, founder of multi-million-dollar consulting firm Applied Revenue Analytics, is among the statehouse candidates representing Mecklenburg County — and who, thanks to redistricting, now face re-election in districts won in 2016 by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton according to The Charlotte Observer.

Hometown Debate on constitutional amendments makes stop at Meroney Theatre
Salisbury Post // Andie Foley // September 26, 2018

Summary: The North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership on Tuesday hosted its first Hometown Debate, a series of four forums focusing on six proposed state constitutional amendments that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. The session, held at the Meroney Theatre and co-hosted by the Rowan Chamber of Commerce, focused on an amendment that would change the way judicial vacancies are filled. The governor currently fills vacancies choosing from recommendations by local bar associations. The amendment would form a nominating commission with members of the general public that would report to the General Assembly. The legislature would select at least two final candidates, and the governor would appoint one of them. Discussing the pros and cons of the proposed amendment were state Sens. Paul Newton, R-36, and Floyd McKissick, D-20; North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin; and Brent Woodcox, special counsel to the Republican-contolled General Assembly. The discussion was moderated by Loretta Boniti, host of “In Focus” on Spectrum News.

Aisha Dew joins Cat Brooks for Mayor as Campaign Manager
Oakland Post // Staff // September 26, 2018

Summary: Aisha Dew, who rose to prominence managing Vi Lyles’ successful campaign to become the first African-American woman Mayor of Charlotte, NC,  has joined the Cat Brooks Campaign for Mayor as Campaign Manager. “Aisha Dew is a rockstar. I am thrilled to have such an outstanding, progressive leader join my team,” said  Cat Brooks Dew served on the National African American outreach team for Bernie Sanders as well as the State Director for North Carolina. She is a savvy and experienced political strategist with a strong faith and creative arts background that informs all that she does. Dew currently serves on the coordinating committee for the Charlotte Commission on Reconciliation and Equity (CORE), the city’s version of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address racial and economic inequality. Dew is, herself, a breaker of glass ceilings — as the first African-American woman elected to be Chair of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party — and a fierce cheerleader for others to do the same. She is currently serving as the 1st Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party and is a member of the Democratic National Committee.  She was instrumental in winning over 60 races across the country.


Trump dominates midterm election, say experts at NCFEF briefing
Carolina Journal // Dan Way // September 26, 2018

Summary: The Nov. 6 election will be a referendum on President Trump, who will cast a long shadow down the ballot, political pundits say. They expect an angry electorate to help Democrats cast out Republicans in significant numbers, but warn if Democrats take control of the U.S. House any attempts to impeach Trump would boomerang. Jonathan Kappler is executive director of the N.C. FreeEnterprise Foundation, which hosted a pre-election briefing in Raleigh on Tuesday, Sept. 25. Historically, he said, when a president’s approval rating is below 50 percent, the opposition will win dozens and dozens of seats in congressional midterms. “Ultimately this cycle is about Trump. Anybody who tells you it’s not about Trump is not being honest,” said Democratic political consultant Morgan Jackson. The 2010 and 2014 midterm elections were about Obama, and Republicans achieved key gains. “This is the best cycle to have a Democrat beside your name since 1974, based just on pure polling measures that we’ve seen,” Jackson said. Jackson predicts the GOP supermajority will fall in the state Senate, where Democrats might pick up six to eight seats. If the election were held today, he said, Democrats would break the majority in the state House. Republicans outnumber Democrats 75-45 in the House, and 35-15 in the Senate.


You’ll get time off work on Election Day if you work for these NC companies
N&O // Lynn Bonner // September 26, 2018

Summary: Chuck Millsaps said it’s been routine at his company to allow employees to take time off during the workday to vote, so he eagerly signed on to a national campaign prodding other businesses to make it easier for workers to vote. Raleigh-based Great Outdoor Provision Co. is one of more than 150 companies nationwide that have signed on to a campaign called Time To Vote. The campaign comes in a midterm election year, when voter participation is expected to be lower than it was two years ago when the presidential race drove turnout. North Carolina has no marquee statewide race leading the ballot this year. “We’ve just seen the voter turnout continue to decrease and this was simply an effort to raise awareness,” said Millsaps, company president. “It’s just a very nonpartisan effort to increase participation.”

North Carolina’s New Election Law Is Going to Make It Harder for Rural Constituents to Vote
Mother Jones // Blake Paterson // September 25, 2018

Summary: In June, the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation mandating that all early voting sites in the state remain open for uniform hours on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., a move supporters argued would reduce confusion and ultimately make early voting easier and more accessible. But with the start of early voting only weeks away, county election officials across the state—who previously had control over setting polling hours in their jurisdictions—say the new law has hamstrung their ability to best serve voters. Some officials in rural counties say they’ve had to shrink the number of early voting locations to accommodate the law’s longer hour requirements and stay within their budgets. A ProPublica analysis of polling locations shows that North Carolina’s 2018 midterm election will have nearly 20 percent fewer early voting locations than there were in 2014. Nearly half of North Carolina’s 100 counties are shutting down polling places, in part because of the new law. Poorer rural counties, often strapped for resources to begin with, are having a particularly difficult time adjusting to the new requirement. The closure of polling locations increases the time it takes for voters to travel to the polls, and it could result in lower turnout, making matters worse for a state already dealing with Hurricane Florence. Early voting in North Carolina begins on October 17.

Newsweek // Daniel Moritz-Rabson // September 25, 2018

Summary: North Carolina will have nearly 20 percent fewer early voting locations during the 2018 elections than it did in 2014, and almost half the state's counties are shutting down polling places for early voting, ProPublica reported on Monday. As a result, residents will have travel farther to cast a ballot, which could decrease voter turnout. The closures stem in part from a law passed in June, which mandated that all early voting sites operate on a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule. Republican backers of the bill said the standardized voting laws would streamline the process of casting a ballot and minimize confusion. 


McCrory: 'Deceptive amendments' ad deceptive, should be pulled
WRAL // Travis Fain // September 26, 2018

Summary: Former Gov. Pat McCrory called Tuesday for a misleading ad on North Carolina's proposed constitutional amendments to come down off state airwaves. McCrory, and all four other living North Carolina governors, are against two of those proposed amendments. But there are six proposals on the ballot, and the ad put forward in recent days by a left-leaning group doesn't specify which amendments the governors oppose, nor does it mention that McCrory actively supports the other four amendments. It shows pictures of the five former governors while a narrator says: "All recommend voting no." McCrory said on his Charlotte radio show Tuesday that he planned to send letters to television stations running the ad, asking them to pull it. The ads were produced by a recently formed group called Stop Deceptive Amendments, which was registered by Michael Weisel, a Raleigh attorney and the go-to lawyer for a number of political groups that support Democrats.

Advocacy Groups Begin Campaigns Against All 6 Referendums
WFDD // Gary D. Robertson // September 25, 2018

Summary: Election advocacy, civil rights and other organizations often critical of North Carolina Republican policies for years have formed campaigns to oppose all six constitutional referendums in November, calling the amendments misleading power grabs that would hurt the public and justice. The North Carolina NAACP, Democracy North Carolina, ACLU of North Carolina and North Carolina Voters for Clean Elections held a Raleigh news conference Monday to unveil their "By The People" campaign, which includes community events, grassroots organizing and paid advertising. Radio ads featuring state NAACP president Rev. T. Anthony Spearman have started airing, campaign leader Melissa Price Kromm said. Two amendments would swing powers historically held by the executive branch — which Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper leads — toward the Republican-dominated General Assembly when it comes to judicial vacancies and the state elections board. Another would enshrine a photo identification to vote in person after previous voter ID legislation was vetoed or struck down by federal courts.

Ex-Gov. Pat McCrory calls anti-amendments ad ‘deceptive’
Charlotte Observer // Jim Morrill // September 25, 2018

Summary: A TV ad for a group called “Stop Deceptive Amendments” is itself deceptive, former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday. McCrory and four other former governors as well as former chief justices of both parties opposed two of the six proposed amendments on the ballot. Those dealt with the governor’s appointment powers. But the ad cites no particular amendment, and instead urges voters to oppose “misleading” amendments. “Every former chief justice and every former governor — Democrats and Republicans — recommend voting no,” the ad says. “The closer you look at these misleading amendments, the worst they get. Vote no.”


North Carolina Association of Educators Endorses Ray Russell
HC Press // Staff // September 25, 2018

Summary: The Ray Russell for NC Campaign hosted an “Education Summit” on Sunday at Appalachian Ski Mountain.  Ray Russell, the founder of gratefully accepted the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) endorsement. Russell and special guest, Senator Jeff Jackson, (D-Mecklenburg) shared thoughts on how we make education great in North Carolina in front of a crowd of current educators, retired teachers and parents.

Appalachian State Politics Club Hosting Debate Between Rep. Jonathan Jordan and Ray Russell
HC Press // Staff // September 24, 2018

Summary: Jonathan C. Jordan, Republican member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 93, and Democratic House of Representatives hopeful Ray Russell will discuss the issues at a debate on October 2 at 7 p.m. The Appalachian State Politics Club is sponsoring the debate, which is in room 114 of Belk Library on Appalachian State University Campus. Incumbent Jordan is running for re-election on November 6. Jordan, who was first elected to the chamber in 2010 and has served four consecutive terms, also currently serves as Deputy Majority Whip. Russell announced his intentions to run as a Democrat in 2018 for the N.C. House District 93 seat currently held by Jordan on October 9 of last year.


Bennett College will honor UNCF leaders, Ted Budd and Alma Adams at Founder's Day
Greensboro N&R // John Newsom // September 25, 2018

Summary: Bennett College this weekend will honor four people who helped stabilize the college’s finances. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, an organization that supports historically black colleges and minority students, will deliver the keynote address at the college’s annual Founder’s Day celebration Sunday. During the event the college plans to recognize Lomax and three others — UNCF Vice President Lodriguez Murray, U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and U.S. Rep. Alma Adams. The four successfully pushed for federal legislation that will help Bennett and several other historically black colleges and universities defer their payments to a federal loan program. Bennett got a $1.1 million refund of its loan payment for the 2017-18 fiscal year and expects to save that same amount each year for the next five years.

Fact check: Ted Budd says Kathy Manning’s donors are from out-of-state
N&O // Rashaan Ayesh // September 26, 2018

Summary: U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and his Democratic challenger, Kathy Manning, had raised almost $3.1 million combined in their congressional race in North Carolina’s 13th district as of June. Manning has outraised Budd by almost $800,000 according to the Federal Election Commission. Budd has said on social media that most of Manning’s donors live outside of North Carolina. “Most of Kathy Manning’s support is coming from out-of-state liberal donors,” Budd tweeted on Aug. 30. After combing through all of the publicly listed donations on the FEC’s site, it is true that most of Manning’s donors are from outside of North Carolina. We took the ActBlue donations into consideration, and they do not change the outcome. We rate this claim True.

Anti-abortion activists back Budd during stop in Statesville
Statesville Record & Landmark // Shawn Taylor // September 24, 2018

Summary: Prominent anti-abortion activists came to Statesville Monday to endorse U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in his bid for re-election in the 13th District. Former Colorado congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave, vice president for governmental affairs for the Susan B. Anthony List, a national nonprofit known for its financial support of anti-abortion politicians; and Tami L. Fitzgerald, executive director of N.C. Values Coalition and an influential voice among social conservatives in the state, praised Budd during an event at the Pregnancy Resource Center on Davie Avenue. Musgrave, a Republican known for her hardliner stance on abortion, called Budd a “pro-life hero.” Budd said he believes life begins at conception and supports banning abortion after 20 weeks. He has cosponsored bills that would have created such federal restrictions (which already exist in North Carolina) and defunded Planned Parenthood. “This comes out of my belief of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Budd said. “That’s as an American but as a Christian I believe we see it in multiple places." Fitzgerald gave Budd her organization’s endorsement. The Pregnancy Resource Center of Statesville is also endorsing Budd, according to executive director Vickie Miglin.

School Safety 

Warrant provides new details on man charged with threatening to shoot Wake students
N&O // T. Keung Hui // September 26,  2018
Summary: New details are coming out about the case of a man charged with threatening to shoot students at an elementary school in Wake Forest, as concerned parents are about to hold another community meeting. Arthur Vladimir Kochetkov, 33, of Wake Forest, was arrested last week on charges of communicating threats on Facebook against students at Jones Dairy Elementary School and of making a false report concerning mass violence on educational property. Kochetkov’s arrest has led to increased security measures at Jones Dairy, including an armed off-duty Wake County sheriff’s deputy patrolling the campus. The PTA at Jones Dairy is holding a meeting Thursday night at Heritage Middle School’s auditorium for parents to discuss the security situation with Wake County school officials.
Attorney General Josh Stein

Police chief aids online opioid effort
Rocky Mount Telegram // Lindell John Kay // September 26, 2018

Summary: The Opioid Solutions Toolbox from the North Carolina League of Municipalities, which can be found at, is designed to better help member cities and towns address the epidemic of opioid abuse by connecting them with recognized best practices being utilized in other communities. The toolbox features Bashore in several video segments offering real-world advice that can make a difference. “It touches everybody,” Bashore said of opioid addiction. “There’s no one socioeconomic group that it gets.” The toolbox directs municipal officials to numerous information resources provided by the office of state Attorney General Josh Stein, as well as connecting them to other programs and best practices to address the problem. An episode of the League’s podcast, Municipal Equation, focusing on the opioid crisis, also appears on the toolbox page, said Scott Mooneyham, the League's public affairs director.

North Carolina Uber drivers eligible for portion of $148 million settlement
ABC 11 // Tonya Simpson // September 26, 2018

Summary: Current and former Uber drivers could be eligible for a payout as part of a $148 million data breach settlement. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced the agreement today. The settlement comes after Uber failed to notify affected drivers of a data breach until one year after it happened. Uber agreed to pay $148 million to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. North Carolina will receive $3,661,800 of that total. "Data breaches are increasingly becoming a major problem for North Carolinians," Stein said. "Notifying my office and the public allows people to take necessary precautions to protect their information. In failing to do so, Uber put its drivers at risk." North Carolina will provide every eligible Uber driver impacted with a $100 payment.

I-77 Tolls 

Here’s how much it will cost to use the I-77 toll lanes when they open this year
Charlotte Observer // Ely Portillo // September 26, 2018

Summary: Driving the whole length of the new toll Interstate 77 toll lanes will cost up to $6.55 when they open later this year, and that will increase to a maximum of $9.40 after the first six months. Those are the peak toll rates to drive the full 26-mile project, which runs north from uptown Charlotte to Mooresville. Under the initial pricing scheme, which will apply for the first six months, a round-trip during weekday rush hour from Mooresville to uptown would cost $13.10. Off-peak maximum tolls would range from $2.45 to $4.20, depending on the day and time. Drivers who don’t go the whole length will only pay for the segments they drive. For example, a trip from uptown to I-485 during peak time will cost $2.55. A trip from Sam Furr Road to Exit 36 during off-peak hours will cost $2. I-77 Mobility Partners revealed prices for the tolls earlier this month, when the private company was required to hold a public hearing on the tolls. Although I-77 Mobility Partners collected public feedback, it’s not required to adjust rates in response.

CIA Torture/Rendition Program & NC

Citizens' group wants prosecution over CIA rendition program
Virginian Pilot // Emery P. Dalesio // September 26, 2018

Summary: North Carolina state and local officials should prosecute participants in a CIA program that ferried terrorism suspects to secret sites where they were tortured, an advocacy group seeking to stir action over the former U.S. policy is demanding. Prosecution is one of dozens of recommendations to be released Thursday by the private, 11-member North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture. The academics, lawyers, retired military officers and clergy who make up the self-appointed group held a public teach-in in Raleigh last year. Such non-governmental inquiry commissions have no official power, though others succeeded in bringing attention to American military atrocities in Vietnam and war crimes in Bangladesh during that country's 1971 civil war. The anti-torture activists now say they want government admissions and compensation for those tortured. State and county legal authorities also should prosecute the pilots and others involved in transporting prisoners since Washington won't under "laws that criminalize kidnapping, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and conspiracies to commit such unlawful acts," the group said.

Federal News  

Trade War

As aid checks go out, farmers worry bailout won't be enough
ABC News // Juliet
Linderaman // September 23, 2018
Summary: Farmers across the United States will soon begin receiving government checks as part of a billion-dollar bailout to buoy growers experiencing financial strain from President Donald Trump's trade disputes with China. But even those poised for big payouts worry it won't be enough. And while support for Trump is near unwavering in the heartland, some growers say that with the November election nearing, such disappointing aid outcomes could potentially affect their vote. "It's pretty obvious that the rural agriculture communities helped elect this administration, but the way things are going I believe farmers are going to have to vote with their checkbook when it comes time," said Kevin Skunes, a corn and soybean grower from Arthur, North Dakota and president of the National Corn Growers Association. Corn farmers get the smallest slice of the aid pie. Corn groups estimate a loss of 44 cents per bushel, but they're poised to receive just a single penny per bushel. "If these issues haven't been resolved, there could be a change in the way farmers vote," Skunes said. "A person has to consider all things." Farmers are already feeling the impact of Trump's trade tiffs with China and other countries. China has hit back hard, responding with its own set of tariffs on U.S. agricultural products and other goods.

SCOTUS Confirmation 

The many faces of Brett Kavanaugh
N&O // Frank Bruni // September 26, 2018

Summary: Brett Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley, told Martha MacCallum of Fox News: “I know Brett. I’ve known him for 17 years.” But that’s hardly his whole life. And that’s hardly the whole Brett. “They know Brett,” she said of the couple’s two daughters. “And they know the truth.” They do indeed — part of it. But not all of it. He may be the gentlest man on earth with them. He may be a feminist in terms of their ambitions, their basketball league. But he may be nothing of the kind to women in the abstract or women who were in his path when he was very young, very inebriated and very insistent. A Yale roommate of his told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh was “frequently, incoherently drunk” during the time in college when, their former classmate Deborah Ramirez alleges, he exposed himself to her. “Is it believable that she was alone with a wolfy group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like Debbie?” the roommate, James Roche, said. “Yeah, definitely. Is it believable that Kavanaugh was one of them? Yes.” So possibly that’s Kavanaugh, too. That’s him riding a wave of testosterone and booze, among similarly pumped-up, zonked-out buddies.

Burr backs Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh ahead of hearing on sexual assault claim
Citizen Times // Mark Barrett // September 25, 2018
Summary: U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said Tuesday he intends to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and urged quick action on his nomination at a crucial committee meeting Thursday. Burr has always been considered a likely "yes" vote. It is not clear why the North Carolina Republican issued a formal statement backing Kavanaugh on Tuesday, two days before the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hear testimony from a woman who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while he and the woman were in high school.

Friday likely to be the acid test for Sen. Thom Tillis
Progressive Pulse // Rob Schofield // September 26, 2018

Summary: Friday may well mark the single most important day in the political career of North Carolina’s junior senator Thom Tillis. That’s the day that U.S. Senate Republicans have indicated they intend to have the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Supreme Court. The announcement of the planned vote comes, remarkably, despite the fact that the committee is also scheduled to hear that very same day from one of two women who have come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of what amount to sexual assaults when he was a young man. By every indication, it appears that Senate Republicans will, without even seriously considering the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, dismiss her claims, ignore widespread calls for a full investigation and move rapidly forward to place Kavanaugh on the Court. If this, in fact, the case, it is hard to overstate what a treacherous, immoral and Machiavellian move it will constitute.

Mel Watt

Watt and woman he is accused of sexually harassing will testify publicly before House
N&O // Brian  Murphy // Septemeber  26, 2018

Summary: The woman who says she was sexually harassed by Mel Watt, the director of a federal housing agency and former U.S. representative from North Carolina, will testify about her experience before a House committee on Thursday, according to the committee’s schedule. The House Financial Services Committee, which includes three North Carolina Republicans, will hear from Simone Grimes, an employee at the Federal Housing Finance Agency. She filed a sexual harassment complaint against Watt in May.
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