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Damaging the NC Constitution is far worse than toppling Silent Sam
N&O // Ned Barnett // August 25, 2018
The hypocrisy meter for the North Carolina legislature broke long ago as the Republican leadership’s outrages wore its gears smooth. But even if it was working, it likely couldn’t fully measure the gap between saying and doing coming from legislative leaders last week. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger sputtered with indignation about “a mob” of protesters who toppled Silent Sam in Chapel Hill. They called for the protesters to be punished even as they themselves are leading an assault on the North Carolina Constitution that will continue during yet another special session on Monday. Berger condemned the attack on the Confederate monument on UNC-CH’s campus in a statement that said: “Only a civil society that adheres to the rule of law can heal these wounds and politicians – from the Governor down to the local District Attorney – must start that process by ending the deceitful mischaracterization of violent riots as ‘rallies’ and reestablishing the rule of law in each of our state’s cities and counties.”

The latest attempts by the legislature to strip power from the governor aren’t the only ones in NC history
N&O // Ferrell Guillory // August 25, 2018

Summary: As five former governors assembled recently to assail proposed constitutional amendments that would weaken the state’s chief executive, my thoughts turned to another former governor: James E. Holshouser Jr., the first Republican elected in the 20th Century who died five years ago. The story of Holshouser’s balancing act bears repeating as a slice of history relevant today. Even before Holshouser took the oath of office in 1973, outgoing Democratic Gov. Bob Scott and the Advisory Budget Commission of powerful Democratic lawmakers called for tax cuts. Holshouser quietly resisted the pressure, proposing neither cuts nor hikes. Rather, he proposed spending the state’s growing revenues at that time to buy parkland, to initiate rural health clinics, and to extend kindergartens into all public elementary schools. In 1973 and 1974, the GOP governor and a Democratic-majority legislature basically agreed not to cut taxes in favor of an array of education, environmental, and health measures. At the same time, they engaged in partisan wrangling over the power of the governor’s office. Stung by the Republican’s victory, Democrats introduced “stripping bills’’ to weaken Holshouser, who pushed back and ultimately prevailed.

Our view: N.C. must cut DMV wait times
Blue Ridge Now // Opinion // August 24, 2018

Summary: Legislators should take action to improve the abominable waiting times plaguing residents at DMV offices in Hendersonville and across the state. Residents seeking to renew their driver’s licenses face lines forming outside the DMV office as early as two hours before doors open at 8 a.m., with some waiting six hours or longer. Some unfortunate ones have wasted hours standing in line without making it through by 5 p.m., forcing them to come back later only to start the maddening process all over again. Times-News staff visited the local DMV license office off U.S. 25 to speak with customers waiting five to six hours. One morning the line was wrapped around the parking lot by 8 a.m., with some people camped out in chairs as they waited more than an hour just to get into the building.

Sen. Phil Berger: Why Reps rewrote 2 constitutional amendments
Spectrum News // Staff // August 24, 2018

Summary: Republican legislative leaders called a special session to re-write two constitutional amendment proposals that were struck down by a three-judge panel. The lawmakers appealed the decision, but went ahead and re-wrote the proposed amendments anyway. Senate Leader Phil Berger tells us why.

N Carolina lawmakers return for second run on 2 amendments
WRAL // Gary Robertson // August 24, 2018

Summary: North Carolina lawmakers returned to work Friday as Republicans took a second run at putting two constitutional amendments on fall ballots after a court found their earlier efforts wanting. In a special session announced with one day's notice, the House agreed on two new amendment proposals with ballot questions that GOP lawmakers say will comply with the majority's ruling on a three-judge panel this week. The court had ruled that the questions for the amendments as initially passed in June did not fairly and impartially describe the proposed alterations that voters would be asked to consider in November. The two amendments would broadly shift powers from the executive branch to the legislature.
GOP legislators seek to take power from North Carolina’s Dem governor
The Hill // Reid Wilson // August 26, 2018

Summary: North Carolina’s General Assembly on Monday will consider changes for two amendments that, if approved by voters in November, would dramatically shift the balance of power away from the governor and to the state legislature. The amendments are part of a battle between the state’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and legislative Republicans, who hold supermajorities in both houses of the legislature. The amendments would allow the legislature to claim more power over appointments to both open judicial seats and the state Board of Elections. At present, Cooper holds the power to appoint judges to vacant seats and to the Board of Elections. The special session, which began Friday and is expected to end Monday, comes after a panel of state Superior Court judges blocked the state Board of Elections from printing ballots over concerns about the wording to appear alongside each amendment. The legislature has returned to Raleigh to fix that wording.

Infosys officially opens Raleigh center expected to employ 2,000
WRAL // Allan Maurer // August 22, 2018

Summary: India-based Infosys officially opened its Raleigh Center at Brier Creek Parkway Wednesday, where the company already has 130 employees at work. North Carolina state and local officials attended the opening ceremony where Infosys, an IT consulting and outsourcing firm, will anchor the 121,000-square-food Legacy at Brier Creek Building at 7751 Brier Creek Parkway.

From harm reduction to treatment: Governor, panel discuss solutions to opioid crisis
Hickory Record // Jordan Hensley // August 21, 2018

Summary:Leaders from across the region gathered at Partners Behavioral Health in Hickory on Monday afternoon for a panel discussion with Gov. Roy Cooper on opioid abuse. Those combating the issue in Catawba County were present to share with Cooper what is working locally when it comes to battling the opioid crisis. “As governor, I am taking this issue seriously,” Cooper said in his opening remarks. As a member of President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, Cooper plays a key role in advocating for federal funding for addiction programs. “Its gotta be a bipartisan issue,” Cooper added. Michelle Mathis, executive director of Olive Branch Ministry, talked to Cooper about the benefits of harm reduction, such as clean needle exchanges, fentanyl testing strips and overdose reversal kits. Currently, there is a ban on the use of federal funding for harm-reduction initiatives. Last year, Olive Branch distributed 100,000 clean needles. “Recovery can start at the harm-reduction table,” Mathis said.


November is coming. What we know - and don't - about how NC voters will lean | OPINION
Citizen Times // Christopher Cooper // August  26, 2018
Summary: In the last decade or so, a not-so-small cottage industry has sprung up that is interested in (some might say obsessed with) predicting election results. These analysts rely on a variety of methods to forecast electoral outcomes—some use the “fundamentals” (factors outside of the candidate’s control), some add polling data, and others use other candidate-specific factors (things like fundraising, candidate experience and the like). While their performance varies by election and race, these methods, by and large, provide a fairly accurate view of what is likely to happen in November. For example, in the 2016 presidential vote, three “fundamentals” based models predicted the popular vote within less than half of one percentage point. Congressional forecasts based on the fundamentals were similarly successful in 2016, with a few predicting almost exactly the number of seats that would emerge for each party after the votes were cast. While state legislative forecasts are fewer in number, the ones that do exist likewise performed fairly well in 2016.

Inside Politics: Poll finds unaffiliated voters trending toward Democrats
Fayetteville Observer // Paul Woolverton // August  26, 2018

Summary: Unaffiliated North Carolina voters — who outnumber North Carolina Republicans — give an edge to the Democrats in the upcoming election, according to a recent poll commissioned by N.C. Civitas, a conservative public policy and advocacy organization. These voters also favor three of the six proposed amendments to the North Carolina Constitution. (The poll did not address all six.) The findings are of interest as the Republican Party battles to maintain its majority control of the state legislature and in Congress. Political analysts often note that unaffiliated voters are not necessarily swing voters. Even though these voters eschew membership in a political party, individually they tend to hew to the political left or political right and vote those values consistently.

Const Amdts

Dallas Woodhouse’s comments on impeaching justices receive criticsm
N&O // LTE // August  25, 2018
Summary: How much crazier can the state GOP get? Now Dallas Woodhouse introduces the idea that state Supreme Court Justices could possibly be impeached if they rule against legislative leaders in a lawsuit over the constitutional amendments. Other than a weekend soundbite from the state GOP executive director, this rings hollow. When will this madness end? North Carolina voters have to put an end to this wolfbaiting and show up at the polls during early voting and on election day in November. We, the citizens have the power to bring North Carolina back from the brink of more insanity. Our vote counts and we must bring reason, balance and common sense back into the political arena that benefits all citizens . Power is in voting. Power is in showing up to cast your vote. Power is letting the current powers that be know that enough is enough. This can be done by making sure you vote. As far as impeaching anyone, let’s get real.


The docs want in: Democratic MDs talk health care on their campaign trails
WAPO // Shefali Luthra // August  26,  2018 

Summary: North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District contest features internist Kyle Horton, who supports expanding Medicare by lowering the eligibility age from 65 to 50. She also wants a “public option” health insurance plan sold by the government. Physicians can have an advantage on some controversial topics by casting them as public health issues, said Howard Rosenthal, a political scientist at New York University. Davidson’s campaign, for instance, posts videos on Facebook in which he talks about topics such as gun violence. One, filmed after an overnight shift in his hospital’s emergency room, has been viewed 41,000 times. Still, most of these Democrats face steep climbs.


Democratic Split on Impeachment Talk: Officials Avoid It, but Voters Are Eager for It
NY Times // Trip Gabriel // August 24, 2018

Summary: Democrats in Washington are wary of any talk about impeaching President Trump, but in this swing district in North Carolina, Janis Silverman is feeling no such constraints. A 72-year-old retired teacher, Ms. Silverman wrote to her congressman Tuesday to demand the House start impeachment proceedings. “President Trump shows no respect for our laws or the Justice Department,” she wrote to Representative Robert Pittenger, a Republican, the day that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, accused him of illegally arranging to pay hush money to influence the 2016 election. “For me it was liberating,” Ms. Silverman said of Mr. Cohen’s characterization of Mr. Trump’s involvement. “My view is that he’s directly linked with criminal behavior.” Yet Dan McCready, a politically centrist Iraq War veteran who is the Democratic nominee for the House seat here, has shown little appetite to talk about impeachment. On his campaign website and Twitter account and in public remarks, he focuses on supporting businesses, teachers and Social Security.

Trump Effect 

Source: President Trump to visit Charlotte next week for private fundraiser
WSOC // Staff // August 24, 2018

Summary: President Donald Trump is expected to visit Charlotte next week for a private fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Mark Harris (R-N.C., 9th district) and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C., 13th district), a source told Channel 9. The fundraiser will be Aug. 31 at the Trump National Golf Club, the source said. Experts told Channel 9 this visit is all about making sure Republicans come out on top in the midterm elections. Between now until the election on Nov. 6, President Donald Trump will be on the road more than 40 days. Political expert Eric Heberlig said Harris needs the president in his fight against Democrat Dan McCready, a former Marine and popular business owner.

Analysis: Trump end sterrible week — fittingly — at epicenter of GOP civil war
N&O // John T. Bennett // August  24, 2018

Summary: President Donald Trump’s week was dominated by one plea deal, one conviction and two immunity protections for some of his closest former confidants and aides. The fallout raised questions about the Republican Party, making it fitting he ended the week at the epicenter of the GOP’s simmering civil war. Many senior prominent Ohio Republicans were present in Columbus on Friday evening as the president addressed a party dinner and headlined a fundraiser before. GOP Sen. Rob Portman greeted Trump at the airport, for instance. But the leader of the Buckeye State GOP did not. Nor did Gov. John Kasich make it in time for the fundraiser. And he skipped Trump’s dinner remarks. “I disagree with the president’s policies,” Kasich said Tuesday, saying he was taking one of his children to college Friday but making his differences with Trump crystal clear: “You’ve never seen me getting into a vicious attack on his personality. I don’t like his leadership style. That’s pretty darn clear and I speak out because I think it’s really important we become a nation of uniters.”

AG Stein 

Our view: Stein fights for our state’s environment
Winston Salem Journal // Editorial Board // August 25, 2018

Summary: Kudos to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein for joining a fight against the EPA to maintain standards that would help protect our state. This is a battle that should not have to be engaged, but we live in strange times. Stein joined signatories of a letter to Andrew Wheeler, the former coal lobbyist who is now in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, urging him to reject a new rule that would unwisely undermine the best scientific data used to make policy decisions — or that would “censor science,” as the letter states. Stein signed it along with many others, including the attorneys general of 14 other states and the District of Columbia, The Associated Press reported recently. Many other scientific and public health groups are opposing the rule, including members of the EPA’s own science advisory board. “We urge EPA to jettison this tainted vestige of the prior leadership and restore public confidence in the Agency’s commitment to its core mission, and we stand ready to pursue legal remedies should EPA persist in this misguided effort,” the letter says.

WWAY // WWAY News // August 24, 2018

Summary:  Don’t be duped. Next week, you can get help to avoid home contracting fraud. Attorney General Josh Stein, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, the Better Business Bureau and others will take part in a town hall. They’ll discuss how to recognize scams, how to report them and how to avoid being victimized. The meeting is Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Cape Fear Council of Government in Wilmington.

I-77 Toll Roads 

Your tax dollars at work? Lights remain out along I-77

Fox 46 // Brett Baldeck // August 23, 2018
Summary:  It’s lights out along Interstate 77 in Mecklenburg County. The problem is not only impacting drivers, but is now also catching the attention of local elected officials. Local tax dollars are supposed to ensure safe roads, but drivers and at least one local politician say dark interstates are a safety hazard. “I knew what was ahead. Darkness was ahead,” said County Commissioner, Pat Cotham. Cotham, ironically enough, was leaving an I-77 meeting Wednesday night when she noticed nothing but darkness on her drive back. She took to Twitter to voice her displeasure and tells FOX 46 Charlotte she has even reached out to the governor’s office.

NC Agriculture 

Daily Yonder // Bryce Oates, Tim Marema // August 21, 2018

Summary: The average member of Congress who sits on the farm-bill conference committee has an estimated 36,000 constituents enrolled in the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, a Daily Yonder analysis of congressional district data shows. In 2016, those SNAP enrollees pulled an average of $142 million in assistance from the program into each of the 48 congressional districts represented on the committee. Each of those congressional districts also had an average of 4,900 farmers who participated in the government-subsidized crop insurance program. The program provided each district with an average of $55 million in benefits.  The Daily Yonder calculated total SNAP payments in congressional district by multiplying the average per person SNAP benefit by the state-average household size. The numbers are estimates and would be skewed by any differences between the average household size of a SNAP recipient household and the average household size of the general population. (A note on sources is at the bottom of this story.) 

NC Environment 

Climate Change

Would Martin Luther King Jr. Take on Climate Change?
NY Times // Lauretta Charlton // August 25, 2018
Summary: Two weeks ago, a member of former Vice President Al Gore’s team reached out to Kendra. Mr. Gore had read a recent piece of hers about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and climate justice. “They said, ‘Gore is going down to North Carolina to talk about eco-justice and climate change with Reverend Barber, do you want to come?’”  The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II founded the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina and helped to revitalize Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign, integrating environmental justice as a major part of the platform.

Environmental Contamination 

EDITORIAL: Why we need to invest in water-treatment upgrades
Star News // Editorial Board // August 19, 2018

Summary: It admittedly is with some trepidation that we endorse the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s plan to spend $46 million to ensure our drinking water is as safe as possible. That’s a big chunk of change, for sure. But we believe it’s worth it to filter out not just GenX -- whose levels have been reduced since Chemours stopped discharging it into the river – but other unknown chemicals that might be present now or in the  .The proposed granular activated carbon filtration system, or GAC, is effective at filtering out GenX and related chemicals from drinking water. A GAC system’s initial cost and annual operating costs are lower than a reverse osmosis system would be. Brunswick County is taking a different route, spending $99 on an RO system. It’s our understanding that each county’s approach is appropriate for the plants they already have, although Brunswick County may face a problem disposing of the tainted wastewater that’s a byproduct of the RO system.

Pacific Standard // Lori Lou Freshwater // August 21, 2018

Summary: Camp Lejeune has been characterized as a candidate for the worst water contamination case in U.S. history—and I am one of up to a million people who were poisoned. The tragedy, though, is hardly all in the past. According to the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the military's failures are continuing today; mistakes are being repeated at our bases overseas, and, in foreign cases, it took a whistleblower to prompt action on contaminated water. A 2013 investigative report produced by the Navy inspector general, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveals "shortfalls in the oversight and management of drinking water for Navy personnel stationed overseas—even in wealthy, developed countries." The report concludes that "not a single Navy overseas drinking water system meets U.S. compliance standards" or the Navy's own governing standards," according to POGO.

NC Veterans/Military Families 

Our Opinion: Let's not drop protections for troops from attacks by predatory lenders
Greensboro N&R // Editorial Board // August 20, 2018

Summary: Shame on the Trump administration for trying to make it easier for unscrupulous lenders to take advantage of military service members. In its continuing crusade to dismantle consumer protections in favor of businesses — even shady businesses — the administration is proposing changes that would weaken a law enacted more than a decade ago after a Defense Department report in 2006 detailed how predatory lenders target military personnel. Both The New York Times and National Public Radio have obtained documents showing that the Mick Mulvaney, the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, intends to weaken the law significantly. The Military Lending Act (MLA) took aim at predatory lenders who like to set up shop around military bases, where they take advantage of service members, especially young, inexperienced troops on the lower end of the pay scale. The practice is not just a question of unscrupulous lenders’ preying on vulnerable service members and their families. As the Defense Department report made clear, the practice also threatens military readiness as it causes problems and distractions for service members.


Migrants are being abused in US detention facilities. It has to stop.
N&O // Martin W.G. King // August 24, 2018

Summary: The horrific seizures of children at the southern border have stopped, but the conditions faced by the 39,000 migrant detainees, including asylum seekers, held in U.S. detention facilities on any given day are often dire. Most detainees are held in county jails, federal prisons and private prisons with Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracts under the same harsh conditions as convicted felons. Abuse of detainees is so rampant it seems to border on policy. One private migrant detention facility in Tacoma, Wash., sits in the middle of a toxic, sludge-filled superfund site and has been the subject of a particularly large number of complaints against its staff for physical and sexual assault. At facilities in California, sexual abuse is widespread; in Arizona, the molestation of migrant teens has been reported. Nationwide, more than half of those who have been accused of sexual abuse, including gang rape, have been ICE employees. LGBTQ detainees are particularly susceptible to abuse, experiencing 97 times more sexual assault than other detainees.

Silent Sam 

The unfinished story of Silent Sam, from ‘Soldier Boy’ to fallen symbol of a painful past
N&O // Jane Stancill, Andrew Carter // August 25, 2018

Summary: PROLOGUE: After standing for 105 years in the oldest part of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, Silent Sam fell on Monday, pulled from his pedestal by the protestors’ tug of a rope. Immediately the news became cause for celebration and outrage: celebration for those who saw the statue as a racist symbol of white supremacy, as an ode to soldiers who fought, among other things, for the survival of slavery; outrage for those who viewed the statue as a tribute to Southern heritage, and to lives lost while soldiers fought for a cause they believed in. To understand how Silent Sam fell is to understand how he rose. This is the story, told in five chapters, of the rise and fall of an 8-foot bronze, boyish depiction of a Confederate soldier who faced north, toward the enemy, for more than a century. It is a story whose final chapter has yet to be written.

Former UNC-Chapel Hill student body presidents stand with Silent Sam protesters
N&O // Op-Ed // August  25,  2018

Summary: Carolina students, faculty, and staff have a long and rich history of fighting injustice through direct action. The fight for racial integration, the Speaker Ban, the food worker strike, the fight for a free-standing Black Cultural Center, the housekeepers’ movement, and the removal of the name “Saunders” from Carolina Hall were all movements where students confronted injustice head on — and changed the history of our university for the better. With the removal of Silent Sam, this generation of Carolina students accomplished what many before them were unable to do, despite many years of diplomacy, organizing and protest. Although some say the statue simply commemorated alumni who died fighting for the Confederacy, Silent Sam was dedicated almost 50 years after the end of the Civil War by a Carolina trustee to honor those who “saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South” and celebrated the “pleasing duty” of beating a “negro wench” just yards away from where the statue was erected.

Senator John McCain 

Gov. Roy Cooper, senators Burr and Tillis, others in the political world react to death of ‘American hero’ John McCain
Fox 8 // Staff // August 26,  2018
Summary: The political world is paying tribute to Sen. John McCain, who died Saturday at the age of 81. These are the messages of mourning and tribute to the Republican senator, war hero and conservative maverick.

Election Security 

19 Noncitizens Voted Illegally in 2016 in North Carolina, U.S. Charges
NY Times // Michael Wines // August 24, 2018
Summary: Nineteen foreign nationals ranging from age 26 to 71 have been charged with illegally voting in the November 2016 election in North Carolina, the Justice Department said Friday. Nine of the 19 were also charged with falsely claiming American citizenship to get on voter rolls. A 20th man, whose nationality was not identified, was charged with helping one of the foreigners falsely claim citizenship.

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