Today's daily clips from the NCDP
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Court ruling would restore state's democracy
Reflector // Opinion // August 30, 2018

Summary: A three-judge federal panel has now ruled twice that North Carolina lawmakers pushed political gerrymandering beyond any reasonable limits and created electoral districts that stomp on the soul and principles of democracy. The first ruling, tinged with considerable judicial outrage, was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices used their last term to duck several similar issues, sending our case and several others back to the lower courts for review.

Lawmakers Pledge Deep Dive Into Governor's Handling Of Hurricane Relief Efforts
WUNC // Jeff Tiberii // August 29, 2018

Summary: A group of state lawmakers dusted off two seemingly controversial topics during a committee meeting Wednesday afternoon, and they promised further review and scrutiny of practices by the Governor. Republicans convened the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, also known as Gov. Ops, to offer renewed questions about how Democratic Governor Roy Cooper has handled Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts and the creation of a fund related to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. “Let this number sink in,” began House Representative Brenden Jones (R-Robeson), “691 days, that’s how many days we’re out now.” Jones was referring to the hurricane that struck now close to two years ago in his district.

Legislature promises deep dive on Cooper administration's hurricane response, Atlantic Coast Pipeline deal
WRAL // Travis Fain // August 29, 2018
Summary: The General Assembly created a pair of subcommittees Wednesday to take deep dives on a pair of problem areas for Gov. Roy Cooper's administration: The slow recovery from Hurricane Matthew and a fund his administration negotiated over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline natural gas project. Republican General Assembly leaders created these new committees during a Wednesday hearing on the two issues and said the subcommittees will have subpoena powers and can enlist investigators if needed. Cooper's spokesman called Wednesday's meeting a sham and an "embarrassing use of the legislature's time." Other Democrats accused the GOP of political theater as North Carolina heads toward the November elections that will decide whether Republicans keep their supermajorities in the N.C. General Assembly. Over the two-hour hearing, state legislators didn't ask a single question of the three high-ranking administration officials in attendance, including Cooper's chief of staff, Kristi Jones. Instead, Republican members made presentations, laying out the case for further investigation, and asked questions of each other and legislative staff. Several times that process ended without legislators knowing the answer. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said direct administration questioning will come during the smaller subcommittee meetings, and that Wednesday's full Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations meeting was too unwieldy a setting for that.

North Carolina Republicans’ long track record of unconstitutional laws
WAPO // Christopher Ingraham // August 28, 2018

Summary: This week a panel of federal judges ruled that North Carolina Republicans unconstitutionally gerrymandered the state’s congressional districts to disadvantage Democrats, the latest move in a legal saga going back to 2011. Gerrymandering is the process by which legislators draw voting districts that give their own party a political advantage. The North Carolina map, for instance, allowed Republicans to take 10 out of the state’s 13 House seats in 2016 despite winning 53 percent of the statewide popular vote. The latest North Carolina legal decision lays out precisely why this is a problem: When maps are gerrymandered, the government no longer reflects the will of the voters. “We continue to lament that North Carolina voters now have been deprived of a constitutional congressional districting plan — and, therefore, constitutional representation in Congress — for six years and three election cycles,” wrote Judge James A. Wynn Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in his decision. Wynn’s decision is also sharply critical of the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly, which has been unapologetic about its desire to tilt the playing field in favor of Republicans. “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats,” as state Rep. David Lewis (R) put it in 2016.
Publix to build distribution center, fill 1,000 jobs in Greensboro
N&O // Zachery Eanes // August 29, 2018

Summary: Grocery giant Publix plans to open a distribution center in Guilford County that will employ 1,000 people. The Florida-based company will receive a job development grant from the state worth an estimated $13.1 million, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce. The N.C. Economic Investment Committee approved the state grant at a special meeting Wednesday morning and Gov. Roy Cooper made the formal announcement at noon in Greensboro.
 It’s the third “win” for the state in two days. On Tuesday, N.C. Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland announced the Japanese company Dowa Thermotech would open a plant in Lee County and hire 109 people. An hour later, Gov. Roy Cooper was in Fayetteville to announce that defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton would add 208 employees to its workforce there.

Publix to build $400 million distribution center in Greensboro, 1,000 jobs expected

Update: Cooper tries again to block two proposed amendments, Supreme Court denies fast track request
WRAL // Matthew Burns // August 29, 2018

Summary: With the state facing a deadline this weekend to start printing ballots for the November election, Gov. Roy Cooper has asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to block two proposed constitutional amendments set to go before voters, arguing that they are misleading and would violate the separation of powers between the executive branch and the legislature. Update: Late Wednesday the state's high court declined Cooper's request, saying it won't fast track his complaint as time ticks down on printing North Carolina's election ballots. The court did stay ballot printing, though, allowing for the possibility that the administration will file another legal action to block the amendments. House Elections and Ethics Committee Chairman said in a Tweet that it's time for Cooper "to stand down and let the people vote." Cooper, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled General Assembly have tussled over the two amendments for weeks, with lawmakers revising the language of the proposals this week after a three-judge panel last week pulled them from the ballot as vague and misleading.



Scott Stone

Lawmaker presses for answers after WBTV investigation into secret DMV office
WBTV // Nick Oschner // August 28, 2018

Summary: North Carolina State Representative Scott Stone (R-Mecklenburg) is demanding answers from leaders of the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and the North Carolina Department of Transportation after a WBTV investigation uncovered a secret driver's license office available only to certain state employees. Stone, who sits on the House Transportation Committee, sent a letter on Tuesday, the same day the WBTV investigation aired, to DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup asking about the secret driver's license office his agency has operated for one week each month since January. The office was operated by appointment only and select state employees were invited to sign up for an appointment. A list of employees who signed up to get a license at the office in August shows senior staff from the office of Governor Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and employees at NCDOT took advantage of the opportunity.



Republicans to ask a stay of from U.S. Supreme Court on “activist court” redistricting decision
North State Journal // Donna King // August 29, 2018

Summary:  Republican lawmakers will request a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court on the decision handed down by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals this week that invalidated the current N.C. Congressional District maps, and by extension, this spring’s congressional primary elections. Judge Jim Wynn wrote the 2-1 opinion Monday saying that the North Carolina Republicans illegally drew up U.S. congressional districts in the state to benefit their party, suggesting that new lines be crafted before November’s election. North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said the decision “is a monumental and necessary line in the sand stating that politicians cannot choose their voters by silencing other voters.”

Chance foradditional congressional seat in NC for Democrats
Spectrum // Kevin Frey // August 28, 2018

Summary:  Democratic hopes for control of the U.S. House of Representatives run through the Tar Heel state this midterm season. And now, some top poll-watchers say they have a good a chance at flipping at least one seat.

  • Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which rates House races, has moved North Carolina’s 9th district into the “leans Democratic” column
  • Democrat Dan McCready is facing off against Republican Mark Harris in what is an open seat
  • In the 2nd district, Congressman George Holding is calling on his supporters to step up to the plate, warning that he is not doing well in internal polls




Partisan gerrymandering plaintiffs, lawmakers can’t agree on special masters
Progressive Pulse // Melissa Boughton // August 30, 2018

Summary: All parties to North Carolina’s latest partisan gerrymandering cases were unable to agree on a special master, according to a new court filing. A federal-three judge panel had asked parties in League of Women Voters v. Rucho and Common Cause v. Rucho to provide the court with three names of individuals qualified to serve as special master in redrawing the 2016 congressional map. The panel this week reaffirmed its decision from January striking down 13 congressional districts as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. In considering a remedy, the panel warned  it could order the General Assembly to draw a new map and then hold a general election without a primary. Since the state abolished primaries for several partisan state offices, the opinion states lawmakers have “concluded that, for at least some partisan offices, primary elections are unnecessary.”

Latest NC Redistricting Ruling Could Have National Impact
WUNC // Frank Stasio, Jennifer Brookland // August 29, 2018

Summary: A federal court has again found North Carolina’s congressional district map to be unconstitutional, ruling that it was drawn to favor Republicans. The panel was reconsidering the case at the direction of the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it earlier this year. With November’s midterm elections quickly approaching, the court must now decide whether to demand new maps be drawn and who should draw them. 

North Carolina’s gerrymandering case could make or break Democrats' momentum on partisan gerrymandering
WAPO // Amber Phillips // August 28, 2018

Summary: For the second time this year, Democrats got a big break from the courts in their effort to retake the House of Representatives this fall. But this new ruling in North Carolina could turn out to be a curse in disguise. On Monday, a federal appeals court panel struck down the entire congressional map in North Carolina, proposing to redraw all the districts before November’s midterm elections. Whether that can be done in time or how it would work, given that primaries are already over, is very much up in the air. This will probably go to the Supreme Court next. The best-case scenario for Democrats is that it gets there while the court has a vacant seat, meaning they could get a divided court to basically uphold Monday’s ruling. And if new, less partisan maps are drawn in the next few months, Democrats could expect to win anywhere between one to three congressional seats in North Carolina, with several more Republican-dominated ones becoming more competitive.

A short history of the court battles over NC congressional districts
N&O // Carli Brosseau // August 29, 2018
Summary: The congressional districts that North Carolina lawmakers drew following the 2010 U.S. Census have been embroiled in legal disputes almost since the day they were unveiled. Republican lawmakers were accused of racial gerrymandering, and then after they redrew the lines, they were accused of illegal partisan gerrymandering. Federal court decisions supported both allegations, but the legal fights aren’t over. Here’s a timeline of what has happened in the court battles so far.

North Carolina gerrymandering: Judges back Kagan interpretation and could decide balance of power in House
CNN // Joan Biskupic // August 28, 2018

Summary: A federal court's rejection of North Carolina's GOP-rigged congressional district map has thrown in doubt 13 voting districts just months before the November midterm elections, along with prospects for the Republican and Democratic parties in the state and perhaps even the full US House of Representatives.  But one thing was clear: The judges who declared the state's partisan gerrymander unconstitutional on Monday adopted the roadmap of liberal Supreme Court justices over the sentiment of conservatives in the high court's recent political redistricting battle. The three-judge panel's reliance on an opinion by Justice Elena Kagan -- which Chief Justice John Roberts had tried to undercut in the case last June -- represents a victory for challengers to partisan gerrymanders.

The Courts Are Saving Democracy in North Carolina
Slate // Mark Joseph Stern // August 28, 2018

Summary: Later this year, North Carolina will probably hold its first truly free and fair election since 2010. It may also be the state’s last. Over the last few weeks, state and federal courts have issued a series of rulings striking down North Carolina Republicans’ brazen attack on democracy and the franchise. In the most important of these decisions, a federal district court held on Monday that the state’s notorious partisan gerrymander is unconstitutional and should not be used in the 2018 election. Because the U.S. Supreme Court is currently short-staffed, the justices may well split 4–4 on an emergency appeal, compelling Republican legislators to comply with the lower-court order. But once Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, he would likely provide the fifth vote to lock partisan gerrymandering claims out of federal courts for good. The impending election may thus be North Carolina voters’ best and only chance to end the GOP’s illegitimate entrenchment of power in their state—at least temporarily.

Warning of ‘unmitigated chaos,’ N.C. Republicans plan to take gerrymander ruling to Supreme Court
WAPO // Kirk Ross, Dave Weigel // August 28, 2018

Summary: North Carolina Republicans plan to ask the Supreme Court to “step in” and preserve the state’s congressional map ahead of November’s midterm election, after a lower court ruled that the current map was unconstitutional. “What the court suggests is simply impossible,” state House Speaker Tim Moore and state Senate President Phil Berger said in a statement Tuesday. “[We’re] not aware of any other time in the history of our country that a state’s congressional delegation could not be seated, and the result would be unmitigated chaos and irreparable voter confusion.” That confusion is the result of a lawsuit brought by voting advocates against the GOP-dominated General Assembly over maps the court ruled disenfranchise Democrats. In a 2-to-1 decision written by Judge James A. Wynn Jr., a special judicial panel found Monday that the map’s partisan slant violated the First Amendment and the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Const. Amendments 

N.C. court: Cooper, NAACP can't fast-track amendment challenges
Winston-Salem Journal // Gary Robertson // August 30, 2018

Summary: North Carolina's highest court rejected late Wednesday requests by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and a civil rights group to hear immediately challenges to a pair of constitutional amendments that Republicans rewrote earlier this week. The state Supreme Court issued a flurry of one-sentence orders that basically prevent Cooper and the state NAACP from fast-tracking challenges of the two new amendments by tacking them on to their current lawsuits against previous versions of the amendments. A three-judge panel last week prevented those earlier versions from going on the November ballot, ruling their associated questions for voters didn't adequately explain the potential changes to the state Constitution. But the Republican-dominated General Assembly held a special session to approve two new amendments somewhat similar to the previous ones, and rewrote their questions.

NC Supreme Court halts election ballots amid NAACP challenge
N&O // Paul Specht, Lynn Bonner // August 29, 2018
Summary: The North Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the state’s elections board to halt preparation of voting ballots amid a legal challenge from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The N.C. NAACP challenged the legality of four Constitutional Amendments set for the November election, arguing the ballot language is misleading and the GOP-controlled legislature lacked standing to propose the changes. The state Supreme Court’s move comes a week after a panel of Superior Court judges blocked two of those four proposed amendments from the ballot.

Supreme Court

North Carolina Republicans Abandon Attempt to Rig State Supreme Court Race
Slate // Mark Joseph Stern // August 28, 2018

Summary: North Carolina Republicans on Tuesday abandoned their effort to rig a state Supreme Court race, declining to appeal a ruling that prohibited them from changing the rules to disadvantage a specific candidate. The tumult over North Carolina’s upcoming state Supreme Court election began in 2017, when the GOP-controlled state legislature abolished judicial primaries. Republican Justice Barbara Jackson is running for reelection in November, and GOP legislators hoped to shield her from competition. At the same time, they assumed multiple Democrats would run against each other in the general election, splitting the progressive vote and giving Jackson a smooth path to victory. That didn’t happen. Instead, Democrats coalesced around a single candidate, civil rights lawyer Anita Earls. Jackson, on the other hand, drew a Republican challenger: Chris Anglin, a Raleigh attorney. Anglin was a registered Democrat until he filed for the race as a Republican; he calls himself a “constitutional Republican” who wants to “stand up for the independence of the judiciary” and object to “the constant attack” on its status as “a coequal branch of government.” Regardless of whether Anglin is a spoiler, a genuine protest candidate, or both, he played by the rules, and secured a spot on the November ballot as a Republican running against Jackson and Earls.

Campaign Finance

How we analyzed political donations during the legislative session ban
WRAL // Tyler Dukes // August 29, 2018

Summary: To examine the effectiveness of North Carolina's ban on some types of political contributions during legislative sessions, WRAL News analyzed campaign finance reports filed with the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement for the first and second quarters of 2018 as of mid-July. We focused our analysis on donations to candidate committees for members of the General Assembly. Although the legislature has 170 members, only about 150 candidate committees submitted campaign finance data for the first or second quarters. Remaining members either received no contributions, didn't receive enough to require electronic filing of their donation data, or in some cases, violated rules requiring e-filing for cumulative donations of more than $10,000.

CEOs gave heavily during legislative session, exposing loophole in NC's fundraising ban
WRAL // Travis Fain // August 30, 2018
Summary: The co-chief executives at a Georgia firm that brokers tax credits put $41,000 into the campaign accounts of North Carolina General Assembly members during the last regular legislative session. This is allowed under North Carolina law, despite the state’s partial fundraising ban during session. That law simply forbids donations from lobbyists and the entities that hire them. It's Monarch Capital that has the team of seven lobbyists in Raleigh, not Monarch's top two executives, George Strobel and Robin Delmer. Add in the week before session began, and the two businessmen gave more than $87,000 to Republican legislators and the North Carolina Republican Party, a key cog in the campaign machine this year as the two major parties fight for control of the General Assembly in November's elections. The men have not said what fuels their interest in North Carolina politics. Delmer did not return calls. In a brief phone interview, Strobel said they were "just trying to make friends." Their company lists 46 North Carolina solar facilities on its website, and the firm also deals in film, housing and historic redevelopment tax credits.


Environmental Rally for N.C. House Candidate Ray Russell Draws Crowd
HC Press // Staff // August 28, 2018

Summary: At a rally for the environment, Ray Russell, NC House candidate for the 93rd District and owner of RaysWeather.Com, received endorsements from the NC League of Conservation Voters and the NC Sierra Club in the upcoming November election. The event was packed with citizens concerned about threats to North Carolina’s environment. Russell said, “I am honored to have the support of these organizations. Their work protecting the quality of land, air and water in our entire state is essential to the future prosperity and health of all North Carolinians from Manteo to Beech Mountain. I will always vote to protect our natural resources and to hold violators accountable for damage whenever and wherever it occurs.” Russell cited several legislative decisions that have negatively impacted the environment while providing ways for corporations to cover up and mislead citizens about the realities of their water, air and soil. Attendees agreed that Duke Energy, not taxpayers, should be paying for the coal ash clean up. Experts say the cost to taxpayers is anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion. 


Trump visit still scheduled for Friday despite McCain lying in state
WCNC // Rad Berky // August 28, 2018

Summary: Republican Congressman Ted Budd told NBC Charlotte the fundraiser President Trump is expected to attend Friday will not be postponed. It's the same day the body of former Senator John McCain will lie in state at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Budd said the fundraiser can't be postponed because of the Congressional time schedule. "This is the district work period," said Budd. "The Senate is in session but the House is across 435 districts in our country, and I think all of us from both parties are grateful for his service." NBC Charlotte asked Budd about the White House lowering the flag to half-staff only after two powerful veterans organizations objected. Until then, the president had not recognized McCain's service to the country.


Kathy Manning Could Get Boost From North Carolina Anti-Gerrymandering Ruling
Forward // Ben Fractenberg // August 28, 2018

Summary: A federal court ruling striking down North Carolina’s gerrymandered congressional districts could boost Jewish Democrat Kathy Manning’s chances of picking up a seat in the state — and bolster the party’s chances of retaking the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. The Aug. 27 decision by a three-judge panel means the districts could be redrawn before the Nov. 6 elections. Any change would likely make the 13th district, where Manning is running to unseat Republican Rep. Ted Budd, more friendly to Democrats, experts say. “Whether or not the district lines change, we are in a strong position to win this seat and give North Carolina families the problem solver they deserve in Congress,” Manning said in a statement.

Budd’s commercial doesn’t level with us
Greensboro N&R // LTE // August 28, 2018

Summary: Dear Congressman Ted Budd: I saw your ad on TV and was taken aback by your claims to have helped North Carolina residents save money on taxes and increased job growth. Sir, you have done neither. You didn’t go to Washington and “turn it upside down,” you went to Washington and joined in with the good ol’ boys club. We still don’t have enough affordable housing in Greensboro, nor do we have an increase in jobs paying a living wage. I am still working the same two full-time jobs I had before you were elected, and you’re asking for my vote again? For you to do what, collect a check? Sir, everything in your ad for re-election is a lie. According to your very own website you have only managed to pass two bills, 24. H. Res. 759 (115th Congress, 2017-2018) expressing the condolences of the House of Representatives on the death of the Rev. Billy Graham and the Encouraging Public Offerings Act of 2017. I would love for you to explain how these two bills helped North Carolina citizens get better-paying jobs and save money in taxes.

NC Public Education

What Public School Finance Officers Want You To Know About School Funding
WUNC // Liz Schlemmer, Jason Debruyn // August 29, 2018

Summary: Jennifer Bennett heads the finance office at Vance County Schools. She is the one watching the budget around here, and she’s been at the school finance game for 24 years. Bennett was once the director of School Business at the state's Department of Public Instruction, and has also worked as a finance administrator at Durham Public Schools. Bennett says her biggest challenge is working with limited resources that also come with lots of limitations. She wants legislators and parents to understand that challenge. "We're doing the best we can with what we have," Bennett said. Earlier this year, tens of thousands of North Carolina educators marched in Raleigh to demand better funding for public schools. While teacher pay took a spotlight, many teachers say what they want even more than another raise is for their schools to have more money to spend per student. School finance officers say they agree about the importance of pay and per-student funding, but they also say that the picture is even more complicated by the state’s restrictions on spending.

CMS plays hardball with suburbs: Vote could change assignments, construction plans
Charlotte Observer // Ann Doss Helms // August 28, 2018

Summary: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board passed an act Tuesday that could dramatically change school construction and boundaries in suburban towns, a move members said was a response to the passage of a controversial town charter school bill this summer. The charter school bill, sponsored by state Rep. Bill Brawley of Matthews, authorizes all North Carolina towns to spend tax money for public education and allows four Mecklenburg towns to create charter schools that provide priority seating for town residents. The CMS “Municipal Concerns Act of 2018,” posted for the public less than an hour before Tuesday’s meeting began, would effectively block future school construction in Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville and Cornelius, four towns that were authorized to create municipal charter bills. Those towns could get back onto the CMS construction priority list by approving a binding 15-year moratorium on launching town charter schools. Construction projects already approved by school bond votes would not be affected.

NC Environment

Coal Ash

D.C. Circuit upends EPA's plan to undercut Obama rule
E&E NEws // Sean Reilly // August 29, 2018
Summary: The panel threw out provisions that generally allow utilities to keep using unlined and clay-lined coal ash storage ponds as long as no leaks have been detected. They also voided an exemption for inactive "legacy" ponds at coal-fired plants no longer producing electricity (Greenwire, Aug. 21). Assuming that the ruling stands, EPA could have to completely rework those provisions to overcome the judges' objections. After decades of delay, the agency was goaded into action after a 2008 dike failure at an unlined Tennessee Valley Authority impoundment slathered a Tennessee river and 300 acres of land with coal ash slurry. Six years later, as EPA was wrapping up work on its regulations, a spill at an inactive Duke Energy Corp. pond dumped 39,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina's Dan River. The magnitude of the risk posed by coal ash appeared to weigh heavily on the D.C. Circuit panel. The vast majority of impoundments are unlined, its ruling said, with a 36 percent to 57 percent chance of leaking "at a harmfully contaminating level during their foreseeable use." Even though EPA and industry challengers argued that most unlined impoundments don't leak and therefore don't need sturdy composite liners, the court disagreed. Out of 157 sites where EPA confirmed that coal ash leakage has harmed human health and the environment, most involved "unlined units," the court found. As for clay-lined impoundments, they're "dangerous," the decision said.


Cape Fear River Watch Sues Chemours Over GenX, Other Substances 
Wilmington Biz // Cece Nunn // August 29, 2018

Summary: The Southern Environmental Law Center has sued The Chemours Co. in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, according to an announcement from the law center Wednesday. The announcement stated that the lawsuit targets the company's "pollution of air and water with toxic perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including GenX, from the Chemours Fayetteville Works Facility in violation of the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act." Geoff Gisler, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, stated in the news release, “Chemours’ decades-long contamination of North Carolina’s environment must stop to prevent more harm. The families and communities who drink from, swim in, and fish on the Cape Fear River deserve healthy, clean water.”

Environmentalists ask judge to stop toxic discharges into Cape Fear River
N&O // Craig Jarvis // August 29, 2018

Summary: An environmental advocacy group filed suit in federal court on Wednesday to stop the Chemours company from continuing to pollute the Cape Fear River near Fayetteville. The lawsuit, filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center for Cape Fear River Watch, contends Chemours is contaminating the water and air with toxic compounds including GenX, an unregulated chemical discovered in the river last year. State environmental regulators say their investigation has led the company to no longer discharge GenX into the Cape Fear, and that water quality is now within state health standards. But the environmental group says pollution is still occurring through smoke-stack emissions, leaking pipes, unlined pits, wastewater ditches and contaminated equipment. The company emailed a response to the lawsuit: “Chemours is reviewing the complaint and strongly disagrees with allegations that we are in violation of the laws cited. Chemours intends to defend itself vigorously against the claims.”

NC Economic Development 

Is Apple Ready for Raleigh?
US News // Seth Cline // August 27, 2018

Summary: ASK anyone around town, from city leaders to citizens, and the case for why Apple will choose the Research Triangle for its newest and much sought-after corporate campus is airtight. Burgeoning tech scene? Check. Workforce? Among the most educated in America. Transit? Working on it. And did you hear about Tim Cook and other top Apple executives' ties to the area? If Apple does open up shop in the area, reports in local media suggest it could invest hundreds of millions and create as many as 10,000 jobs. But after a spring of breathless speculation, talk of Apple choosing Raleigh has died down, and politics could be a big reason why.

Confederate Monuments

'Stay away': Chapel Hill police issue warning, expect more Silent Sam protests tonight
WRAL // Emmy Victor // August 30, 2018

Summary: Chapel Hill and UNC police are preparing for the possibility of another demonstration on campus Thursday evening. The university sent an email to students and staff, encouraging them to stay away from McCorkle Place, where Silent Sam was toppled one week ago. The town followed the example by asking residents to stay away from Franklin Street. In the first protest last week, the statue was toppled. Another protest followed Saturday. While there have been no injuries in the protests, police say they've arrested a total of 11 people for protesting at the former site of the statue.

With opposing Silent Sam protests planned for Thursday, UNC asks people to stay away
N&O // Jane Stancill // August 29, 2018

Summary: As opposing groups plan to gather Thursday night at the site of UNC’s toppled Silent Sam Confederate monument, the university and Chapel Hill are preparing for the possibility of violence. Two events are scheduled for Thursday night on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. A group known as ACTBAC, or Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, plans a twilight service to honor the fallen Confederate soldier statue at 8 p.m. near the empty pedestal, according to the organization’s Facebook page. At 7:30 p.m., students and others opposed to Confederate statues plan a “Silent Sam Dance Party and Speakout” at the same location, which the group called the “Silent Sam Stump.” UNC leaders posted a letter to the campus community Wednesday telling people to stay away from the area, known as McCorkle Place.

Could a memorial to African-Americans finally make its way onto the Capitol grounds?
N&O // Lynn Bonner // August 29, 2018
Summary: Stalled plans for African-American memorials envisioned for Raleigh’s state government center are getting new attention with the recent focus on Confederate monuments on the Capitol grounds. As the state Historical Commission declined last week to recommend moving three Confederate statues, it promised new efforts to get money for an African-American monument on the Capitol grounds that has been discussed for years but never funded. At the same time, planners of a separate, privately-funded projected called Freedom Park that’s envisioned for the corner of Wilmington and Lane streets near the Legislative Building hope that the renewed spotlight on memorials will spur its fundraising. Historical Commission studies of the Union Square monuments go back years. In 2010, three committees studied commemorations to African-Americans, Native Americans and women, according to a state document.

Move Confederate monuments from public places, NC Influencers say
Herald Sun // Camila Molina // August 27, 2018

Summary: Confederate monuments in North Carolina should be removed from public property and housed in museums or historical places or taken down altogether, according to a survey of some of the state’s most influential leaders. Protesters last Monday toppled the Silent Sam Confederate monument on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, after years of controversy and vandalism surrounding the statue. Two days later, the North Carolina Historical Commission recommended keeping three Confederate monuments on the state Capitol grounds in Raleigh. Sixty North Carolina leaders in education, politics, business and advocacy were asked open-ended questions about race relations in the state as part of the NC Influencers series for The Charlotte Observer, The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. As part of the survey, they were asked what the future should hold for the state’s Confederate monuments.

Veterans and Military Families

As America's Veterans Grow Older, The VA Faces A Long-Term Care Crisis
WUNC // Libby Denkmann // August 29, 2018

Summary: On a recent morning in Camarillo, Cal., dozens of veterans, their spouses, and grown children settled into their seats at the Ventura County Office of Education, free coffees and sodas in hand, to hear lawmakers discuss what's waiting for their families as they enter old age. The official topic of the congressional field hearing was, "The State of the VA's Long-Term Care Services." But it could have been called: "Preparing for The Gray Tsunami." That's one nickname for the growing number of aging veterans who will soon need a range of support - in some cases, 24/7 medical attention or memory care. Others may only need some help with day-to-day tasks like bathing, dressing, and getting around. "It's abundantly clear that the VA is not prepared for this bubble," said Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), who represents Camarillo and is ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health. "We've got to get very serious about making sure that we are prepared." Over the next eight years, the number of veterans in the VA healthcare system who are 70 years or older is expected to increase by 30 percent. The population the VA is required to cover for nursing home care - veterans who have a service-connected disability rating higher than 70 percent - is expected to double by 2024, hitting one million patients.

ABC Audit

BETH WOOD: Our audit accurately found ABC failed to monitor contract
CBC Opinion // Beth Wood // August 29, 2018

Summary: As with all audits performed by the Office of the State Auditor, the Commission was given ample opportunities to provide documentation/evidence to refute the findings. But the Commission did not do so. In fact, evidence obtained from the vendor proved their reasoning for price increases were not accurate. For example, increased fuel costs were one of the reasons for a price increase in the cost of the contract for 2008 and 2016, but actual documents revealed a decline in fuel costs for those years. Additionally, several contract price increases were requested by the vendor because of the increase in cases of spirituous liquor they shipped, yet the contract explicitly states that there will be “no increase in contract price due to increase in cases shipped”. Again, this audit finds that the contract was not properly procured, administered, or monitored resulting in excessive costs to the distribution and warehousing of spirituous liquors.

General News/Info/Commentary

PoliticsNC // Thomas Mills // August 29, 2018

Summary: My late business partner Ross Bates used to say, “Everything works until it doesn’t.” In Florida last night, we may have seen what’s not working anymore. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum won the Democratic nomination for Florida governor by defeating former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and a host of other well-funded candidates. Graham, the daughter of former Governor and US Senator Bob Graham, was the favorite going into the election last night. In the midst of the #MeToo movement and the only woman on the ballot, she seemed to have a solid advantage. Polls had her with a substantial lead but Graham was attacked harshly by her opponents coming down the stretch. Still, Gillum, who is African-American, ran a different kind of campaign. Supported by billionaire Tom Steyers, he put his money into a massive field operation. In a state with a large minority population in a Democratic primary, his strategy made sense. While other candidates were spending millions on television, Gillium and his superPAC allies spent less than $2,000,000 in a state with very expensive media markets. Their surge probably wasn’t reflected in the polls because the people who put him over the top weren’t likely voters.

Federal Judiciary 

Trump Nominating N. Carolina Native Rushing for 4th Circuit
US News // AP // August 28, 2018

Summary: President Donald Trump is nominating a North Carolina native who has worked for two current Supreme Court justices for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump announced Monday his choice of Allison Jones Rushing for the 15-member appeals court with jurisdiction over cases from the Carolinas, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Rushing would replace Judge Allyson Duncan, a Durham native retiring after 15 years on the court. Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr recommended Rushing to Trump and praised her judicial experience. She must receive Senate confirmation. Rushing is a partner in the office of a Washington law firm. She went to Wake Forest University and Duke law school and clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and for Justice Neil Gorsuch when he was on the 10th Circuit appeals court.

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