GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEWS
Site selection exec: ‘Significant, self-inflicted wounds’ hurt NC in Apple, Amazon HQ2 bids
WRAL // Rick Smith // September 6, 2018
Summary: As another day dawns with no decision yet made public about a new Apple campus in North Carolina or the Triangle’s bid for Amazon HQ2, questions remain about the state’s chances to win either or both massive projects. And a site selection executive with one of the world’s best known consulting firms – BDO – says “significant self-inflicted wounds” such as the House Bill 2 bathroom bill casts a shadow over an otherwise shining reputation among economic developers. Also, he warns, the state is “pricier” than many people think and lower taxes “won’t be a silver bullet.” “North Carolina in recent years has been an interesting study. The state has been working hard to reinvent itself in the economic development world. Unfortunately, it has needed to,” says Tom Stringer, who leads the Site Selection and Business Incentives practice for international consulting firm BDO.
Don't politicize storm relief failures — fix them
Reflector // Opinion // September 8, 2018
Summary: Republican state lawmakers decided last week to investigate the Cooper administration’s slow response to Hurricane Matthew relief in some of the state’s hardest-hit areas. That could be a useful exercise, if our legislators use what they find to fix real problems, and they don’t turn this into just another opportunity to deliver political body blows to the Democratic governor. We fear what we’ll see is the latter. So does the governor. His spokesman, Ford Porter, told the News & Observer that the decision to investigate was reached at a “sham hearing” because state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry was at the meeting and wasn’t asked any questions. “Republican politicians decided that the way to help Matthew survivors is to create another bureaucratic committee while the governor and his administration are focused on actually helping hurricane victims,” Porter said. So far, he added, nearly $750 million has been distributed for Matthew recovery.
EDITORIAL: Better planning, execution needed forlongterm storm recovery
Star News // Editorial Board // September 6, 2018
Summary: It’s hard to keep track of all the political action -- mostly feuding -- going on in Raleigh these days. The Republican majority in the General Assembly and Gov. Roy Cooper, the Democrat currently occupying the governor’s mansion, can’t seem to come to terms on much of anything. (We recall when even Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt put down their political battle axes and joined together to support the effort to save the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Ahh, the good-old days of civil politicking like the Hunt-Helms Senate race.) The latest storm in Raleigh formed when Republican lawmakers launched an investigation into the Cooper administration’s slow response to Hurricane Matthew relief efforts in some of the state’s hardest-hit areas. As an editorial by our sister paper The Fayetteville Observer observed: “That could be a useful exercise, if our legislators use what they find to fix real problems, and they don’t turn this into just another opportunity to deliver political body blows to the Democratic governor” -- whom, we are pretty certain, the GOP Honorables would like to downgrade to a Category 0 political storm.
These 3 NC colleges drastically dropped tuition. The result was like a ‘booster rocket.’
N&O // Jane Stancill // September 9, 2018
Summary: A new, lower tuition rate is drawing more students to three UNC campuses, resulting in record undergraduate enrollment growth this fall. The NC Promise program, funded by the legislature at $51 million this year, allowed Elizabeth City State University, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina University to decrease their tuition to $1,000 a year for in-state undergraduates and $5,000 a year for out-of-state students. Students are voting with their feet. Overall, undergraduate enrollment has risen 19 percent at ECSU, 14 percent at UNCP and 6.6 percent at WCU, according to new figures released by the UNC system office. Among the first-year classes, ECSU and UNCP saw 20 percent increases, while WCU experienced a 10.5 percent jump.
Berger must address the state of things
Greensboro N&R // Gertrude Pierce Royal // September 6, 2018
Summary: To the Honorable Phil Berger, You have put the nether anatomy of our state legislature in a split stick (go cut me a switch). Election Day looms. Voting districts are untenable. Try to snooker the judges into untangling this Gordian knot. Shame! I am a cranky 93-year-old citizen. Pressured by more political trickery, I shall resort to blathering and tweeting. (How does one “tweet”?) You re-recalled the Senate to dissemble, oops, assemble to re-rehash the proposed amendments to the state constitution. Can’t you compose a coherent English sentence, legal and all? A word is a label on an idea. If I cannot trust you with the words; I cannot trust you with the ideas.
GOV. COOPER NEWS
Latest on Hurricane Florence from Gov. Cooper's office
ABC 12 // Jason O. Boyd // September 9, 2018
Summary: With the latest forecast showing Florence likely to grow in strength and threaten the East Coast, Governor Roy Cooper today urged all North Carolina residents, businesses and visitors to prepare for the storm. The latest forecast from National Hurricane Center shows Florence becoming a major hurricane by early in the week and tracking toward the southeastern United States by later in the week. "Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts later this week," Gov. Cooper said. "State emergency management, transportation, health experts and others are making sure North Carolina is prepared for the storm, and I urge the public to review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now." Florence is already being felt along the North Carolina coast, with large sea swells resulting in life threatening rip currents and surf. Beachgoers are urged to heed warnings from local officials and lifeguards. The potential for heavy inland rains and flooding means the entire state must be on alert, Cooper said.
Gov. Roy Cooper issues State of Emergency as Tropical Storm Florence could threaten the East Coast by next week
Fox 8 // Web Staff // September 7, 2018
Summary: Gov. Roy Cooper has issued a State of Emergency as Tropical Storm Florence is forecast to approach the East Coast. “While it’s still too early to know the storm’s path, we know we have to be prepared,” Gov. Cooper said, according to a press release. “During harvest, time is of the essence. Action today can avoid losses due to Florence.” Cooper said he declared the State of Emergency and waived transportation rules to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly. Hurricane Florence has weakened some but will likely strengthen again into a major hurricane and could threaten the East Coast by next week.
N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper issues emergency orders to help farmers ahead of Florence
WTKR // Staff // September 7, 2018
Summary: As Tropical Storm Florence is forecast to strengthen as it heads toward the East Coast, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency Friday and waived transportation rules to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly. “While it’s still too early to know the storm’s path, we know we have to be prepared,” Gov. Cooper said. “During harvest, time is of the essence. Action today can avoid losses due to Florence.” To activate the transportation waiver, Gov. Cooper signed Executive Order No. 51, which declared a State of Emergency for North Carolina. Cooper also signed Executive Order No. 52, which will temporarily waive the cap on the maximum hours of service restrictions for trucks and heavy vehicles traveling in and through the state, as well as weight restrictions for trucks carrying crops and livestock.
N.C. governor declares state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Florence
Greensboro N&R // Staff // September 7, 2018
Summary: The governor has declared a state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Florence, which is forecast to strengthen as it heads toward the East Coast. Gov. Roy Cooper also waived transportation rules to help farmers harvest and transport their crops more quickly, according to a news release. “While it’s still too early to know the storm’s path, we know we have to be prepared,” he said. “During harvest, time is of the essence. Action today can avoid losses due to Florence.” He said earlier today that state emergency management officials are working with local and federal counterparts to prepare North Carolina for possible impacts from Florence. Florence could cause dangerous surf and rip currents along parts of the U.S. East Coast this weekend as the storm swirls across the Atlantic, according to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center.
KEY TARGETS NEWS - HOUSE
North Meck residents rally over I-77 to push for toll lane contract cancellation
Charlotte Observer // Alex Giles // September 7, 2018
Summary: High heat didn’t stop residents of northern Mecklenburg County from staging a rally in opposition of the I-77 toll lanes construction project. Dozens of people gathered on the Exit 28 bridge that runs over the interstate Thursday afternoon. Several people held signs with messages like ‘Don’t Toll Me Bro’ and ‘Tolls R Bad 4 Business’. The group had a clear message. “Cancel the tolls! Cancel the tolls!” chanted Huntersville resident Stephanie McPherson in an interview with WBTV. Some protesters, including Rep. John Bradford, wanted to speak directly to Governor Roy Cooper Thursday. Bradford claimed that Cooper was in the area for an event, but didn’t bother to stop by the rally. “He’s here tonight two miles away from this bridge, not standing with us to honor his campaign promise to cancel the tolls, he’s here campaigning for party politics,” said Bradford.
NC representative says NCDMV would be out of business if it was private
CBS 17 // Richard Essex // September 6, 2018
Summary: Murphy's Law — "anything that can go wrong will go wrong" — has applied to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles throughout much of the summer. There have been internet and other technological problems, flaws in issued licenses, and a "training office" only open to state personnel. The general public has had to wait in long lines because of a combination of the new Real ID, new drivers getting licenses, and other factors, according to DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup. "If they were a private business, they would be out of business. They just aren't following basic principals. They aren't keeping up with the ease and conveniences that people need in their modern life," said Rep. Nelson Dollar (R). Jessup also admitted the technology used at NCDMV offices is old. It hasn't asked for new money to fund improvements in two years.
Murphy talks about his approach to legislating
Reflector // Ginger Livingston // September 9, 2018
Summary: Pitt County’s GOP House representative discussed his party’s leadership style in the General Assembly and how its played out in decisions about judicial races, the budget, hurricane relief and other matters in a recent interview with The Daily Reflector. State Rep. Greg Murphy said unless it involves a matter of conscience, he will vote with the General Assembly’s Republican leadership even if he often disagrees with the process used to craft legislation. “If something comes where, if you have to push a button and there is no maybe button — it’s 100 percent one way, 100 percent the other way — I will vote, unless it’s something of clear conscience, I will vote with my party. That’s why I chose to be on that team,” said Murphy, a Greenville urologist and surgeon who is completing his first full term in the General Assembly. Murphy, who was appointed to the legislature in late 2015 to fill an unexpired term, is being challenged by Democrat Kris Rixon of Winterville for the state House District 9 seat that encompasses most of eastern Pitt County.
Murphy shares thoughts on redistricting, monuments and drug treatment
Reflector // Ginger Livingston // September 8, 2018
Summary: Rep. Greg Murphy also discussed his thoughts on two recent headlining making issues — congressional redistricting and the future of Confederate monuments — and what needs to take place to help Pitt County secure an in-patient drug treatment facility.
KEY TARGET NEWS - SENATE
Fact check: Are NC teachers getting paid as fast and as much as this legislator claims?
N&O // Rashaan Ayesh // September 7, 2018
Summary: Sen. Michael Lee, a Republican from Wilmington, is gearing up for re-election against Harper Peterson, a former Wilmington mayor. He tweeted on Aug. 28 that “teacher pay has increased under Republican leadership every year for the past 5 years. In fact, even according to the national teacher’s unions own rankings, NC ranked number 2 in the U.S. for fastest rising teacher pay 2016-2017.” Teachers did get a salary increase in each of the past five years under Republican leadership. However, despite the “Held Harmless” statute, teachers who reach 25 years of experience or more today would not make as much as they would have in 2013-14. That’s the main wrinkle in Lee’s claim. North Carolina ranked second in fastest-rising teacher pay in 2016-17, though the ranking wasn’t consistent over the years. We rate this claim Mostly True.
Protesters make voices heard against I-77 toll road project
WSOC // Briana Harper // September 7, 2018
Summary: Protesters rallied during rush hour Thursday along Interstate 77 in Cornelius. Those protesting told Channel 9 that the I-77 toll lane project is the single most important issue for their area, and with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in town, they wanted to make sure their concerns were heard. "If the governor doesn't cancel it now and we leave it in place, seven or eight years from now, like every other project in the country, this project will go bankrupt,” said Rep. Jeff Tarte. Cooper did not provide an exact timeline of when he expects the I-77 toll changes to take effect or when the toll project might be complete.
Divided panel approves explanations for last 2 amendments
Hurricane Florence strengthens, with Wilmington NC in the center of its path
Charlotte Observer // Abbie Bennett, Mark Price, Noah Feit // September 9, 2018
Summary: Hurricane Florence is growing larger and stronger, and its latest projected path is centered on Wilmington, North Carolina, adding more urgency to the State of Emergency declared in the Carolinas. The storm regained its hurricane status on Sunday and was expected to be a “dangerous major hurricane” by the time it reaches the coast later this week. As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the hurricane was moving west at about 7 mph, and it was expected to continue to follow that track, picking up speed on Monday, according to an update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The Carolinas could start feeling Hurricane Florence’s fury as early as Wednesday night
N&O // Abbie Bennett // September 9, 2018
Summary: It’s not really a question of whether Florence will hit the Carolinas. It’s mostly a question of when. Hurricane Florence is moving slowly, but steadily, toward the U.S. East Coast, and its latest forecast path takes it directly toward the Carolinas. As of Sunday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expected the Carolinas to begin to feel tropical-storm-force winds from Florence as early as Wednesday evening.
NC political fights are increasingly ending up in court. What’s behind the shift?
Charlotte Observer // Jim Morrill // September 7, 2018
Summary: Voting districts. Ballot labels. State appointments. Even the Constitution. Never in memory has North Carolina seen as many court battles over such consequential issues as it has in recent weeks. Nor have courts had such broad say over an election, or injected as much uncertainty for voters. “It is unprecedented and a reflection of the unprecedented political times that we see, not only in North Carolina but in the nation,” said Republican Bob Orr, a retired state Supreme Court justice. As of Sunday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expected the Carolinas to begin to feel tropical-storm-force winds from Florence as early as Wednesday evening.
Hurricane Florence’s track is ‘much like Fran’ -- one of NC’s worst storms ever
N&O // Camila Molina, Martha Quillin // September 9, 2018
Summary: Some storm-watchers are worried that Hurricane Florence may have more in common with 1996’s Hurricane Fran than the first letter of its name. Fran, one of the most devastating storms to hit North Carolina, tracked across the Atlantic in 1996 in a path that bears a strong resemblance to ones that some forecasting models are predicting for Florence. As of Sunday, the National Weather Service said the most likely scenario has Hurricane Florence on a northwesterly trajectory that would bring it ashore near Wilmington on Thursday night. With several days to ponder what Florence might do on its way across the ocean, those who lived through Fran may be remembering that it, too, was a nighttime arrival, landing at Cape Fear, near Wilmington, at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 5, 1996. It came in with 115 mph winds and generated a 12-foot storm tide.
‘Be prepared. Be ready:’ Hurricane supplies flying off shelves as Florence approaches
N&O // Noah Feit // September 9, 2018
Summary: During hurricane season, the images of empty shelves are seen almost as frequently as those of the forecasts showing potential paths of storms. Current projections show Hurricane Florence bearing down on the East Coast, threatening North and South Carolina this week. Residents are heeding official warnings and are already making a run on supplies. The pictures of vacant grocery store aisles are flooding social media. They show the places in super markets that are normally filled with pallets of bottled water and bread, among other supplies. They are being purchased in preparation for Florence, which is expected to be a “dangerous major hurricane” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The NC GOP’s amendment plan: Fool the voters
N&O // Editorial Board // September 7, 2018
Summary: Republican leaders have criticized legal efforts to keep six proposed state constitutional amendments off the November ballot by declaring that voters have a right to have to their say. Now, thanks to an Elon University Poll, we have a preview of what most voters will say — “What’s this?” The independent survey asked 1,500 registered voters about two of the six proposed amendments, one requiring a photo ID to vote and another that would lower the cap on state income taxes from 10 percent to 7 percent (the N.C. personal income tax rate is now 5.499 percent). More than half of those surveyed were unaware that any amendments will be on the ballot. Two-thirds of them said they had heard “nothing or only a little” about the amendments with less than two months to go before the election.
Our election system is broken. Don’t make it worse.
N&O // Michael Crowell // September 7, 2018
Summary: North Carolina’s election system is broken. The constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall will just make it worse. Since 1901 our elections have been run by the State Board of Elections and 100 county boards. Until Gov. Roy Cooper’s election the state board consisted of five members appointed by the governor from names submitted by the Democratic and Republican parties. The majority of the state board — and each county board — came from the governor’s party; the remaining members from the other party. Historically, partisanship was not often an issue. Board members put party aside when conducting elections. Not anymore. After Cooper’s election Republican legislators hurriedly increased the state board to eight members, and county boards to four, half from each party. Cooper sued, claimed violation of separation of powers, and won. The legislature then enacted a nine-member state board — four Democrats, four Republicans, one unaffiliated — though that’s now in court. Each county board has two Democrats and two Republicans.
Elon Poll: N.C. constitutional amendment wordings affect support
Times News // Staff // September 7, 2018
Summary: Voters don’t know much about the proposed amendments to the state constitution that the Republican-controlled legislature is pushing, and their support shifted when they learned more, an Elon University Poll has found. “North Carolina voters answering amendment ballot questions have the potential to make very important and extremely long-lasting changes to laws in the state,” said Jason Husser, director of the poll and an associate professor of political science. “However, a large portion of those voters are either unaware of the proposed amendments or confused by what their vote will actually enact.” Tar Heels will be asked this fall to vote on as many as six state constitutional amendments based on simple, single-sentence descriptions. The proposed amendments have stirred controversy, and several have been tied up in court with opponents saying voters will be misled by the ballot language or lack vital information about the amendments when they vote. The Elon poll, an online survey of more than 1,500 registered voters, gauged opinions after offering the simple ballot language for two amendments, and then tracked whether that support changed when voters read full, official explanations.
N&O // Gary D. Robertson // September 6, 2018
With North Carolina's fall ballot finally settled, a special panel completed creating summaries Thursday designed to help the public understand each of the six proposed amendments to the state constitution. The Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission already approved explainers for four of the amendments in previous meetings. Its three members finished summaries for two more after the state Supreme Court this week let lower court rulings stand so the questions could be submitted to voters. The explanations will be printed in a statewide voter guide and go to local elections boards and media outlets for November.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos gave $10 million to super PAC. NC Democrat could benefit big-time
N&O // Joe Marusak // September 6, 2018
Summary: Democrat Dan McCready could benefit big-time from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ $10 million donation to a super PAC that backs veterans for Congress. Bezos announced his largest donation ever — $10 million — to With Honor, a super PAC led by Charlotte businessman and Marine veteran Rye Barcott. McCready is endorsed by the super PAC. He’s running against Republican Mark Harris in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.
Big money infuses the U.S. House race in District 13
Winston Salem Journal // Taft Wireback // September 8, 2018
Summary: Despite the Democratic challenger’s refusal to take campaign contributions from corporate PACs, the contest in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District is not wanting for cash contributions linked to business interests near and far. Both Republican incumbent Ted Budd of Advance and Democratic challenger Kathy Manning of Greensboro have racked up significant nest eggs from individual campaign contributions made by some of the region’s and the nation’s business leaders. An in-depth examination of Federal Election Commission records by the News & Record shows Budd slightly edging out Manning among such individual contributions from North Carolina business people, $163,050 to $143,050. But bolstered by hefty donations from some of the Northeast and Midwest’s more influential businessmen and women — including the uncle of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — Manning has outpaced Budd in the overall influx of money from individual contributors with various business affiliations.
Steven Buccini Runs For Change
The Guilfordian // RomanRaies // September 7, 2018
Summary: Banking on President Trump’s unpopularity, demographic shifts, and a young energized electorate, progressives all across the country are aiming for November to see a “blue wave” of Democratic victories. Democratic candidates such as Texas house representative and Beto O’ Rourke have garnered nationwide attention by pushing solid left agendas in traditionally conservative areas. Democrats in North Carolina are positioning to flip the Republican controlled House and Senate blue. Challenging Republican incumbent Jon Hardister for the seat in House District 59 is University of California at Berkeley-educated engineer Steven Buccini. Buccini was raised in Guilford County and attended Grimsley High School and participated in Boy Scout Troop 101. After graduating in the top five percent of his class, Buccini enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Disturbed by the direction of North Carolina’s politics, Steven returned home to Guilford County to run for House with a campaign focused on investing in education and healthcare, defending local autonomy and bringing jobs to Guilford County.
Black Leadership Caucus holds political forum
Troy Williams: What’s wrong with being an unaffiliated voter?
Fayetteville Observer // September 7, 2018
Henderson Dispatch // Ryan Hedrick // September 7, 2018
Summary: The Henderson-Vance Black Leadership Caucus held a candidate forum Thursday night in Henderson, which mostly featured candidates running for North Carolina judge seats. The candidates that attended the forum included Erica Smith, N.C. State Senate District 3; Terry Garrison, N.C. Representative District 32; Anita Earls, N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 1; Paul Ross and Lawrence Tickle, N.C. Superior Court Judge District 9 Seat 1; Mitchell Styers and Carolyn J. Thompson, N.C. Superior Court Judge District 9 Seat 2; Ben Hunter and Michael Putney Jr., N.C. district Court Judge 9B Seat 1; and Ardis Crews, Vance Soil and Water Conservation District Superior.
Rematch ahead in two N.C. House races for Haywood
The Mountaineer // Becky Johnson // September 7, 2018
Summary: As campaign season hits full stride in the two-month countdown to November, Haywood voters are in for a case of deja vu. Two races for the N.C. General Assembly will be verbatim rematches between candidates who squared off in 2016. Haywood Democrats Joe Sam Queen and Rhonda Schandevel are both mounting comeback campaigns in hopes of unseating their Republican rivals from two years ago. They’re hoping for a different outcome this go around without the coattails effect of Trump on the ballot. Queen will once again face Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Bryson City, while Schandevel will once again face Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville. All four candidates in these rematch races appeared this week at the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Issues and Eggs program, where timely topics are shared over breakfast at Laurel Ridge Country Club. Schandevel catered to the local Haywood audience by playing up her Haywood roots.
Summary: Unaffiliated voters, also referred to as independents, are America’s fastest-growing voter bloc. And the long-running pattern of younger voters not identifying with either political party continues. Millennials are shunning political parties at an even higher rate than previous generations did. Why? The answer is because both Democrats and Republicans are suffering from political dysfunction. Unaffiliated voters owned the North Carolina elections in 2016, and Gov. Roy Cooper, Sen. Richard Burr, and President Donald Trump all owe their success to this new important voter community. Fayetteville Mayor Pro Tem Ted Mohn has been elected five times as an unaffiliated candidate, and more recently former councilman Kirk deViere won as an unaffiliated candidate, although he lost in the mayoral primary after he switched to the Democratic Party.
Headwaters State Forest opens with funding through Land and Water Conservation Fund
Dozens of manufacturing companies testified about how Trump's trade war with China could affect them - here's what they said
Business Insider // Gina Heeb // September 8, 2018
Summary: The Trump administration has prepared to place import tariffs on all Chinese products entering the country. In addition to a $200 billion round of duties expected to be announced soon, Trump on Friday said another $267 billion worth of imports could subsequently be targeted "on short notice."
Hundreds of company and industry representatives testified before trade officials in Washington last month about how the next round of duties could affect them.
The hearings lasted more than 45 hours, with witnesses allowed to speak for five minutes each. A large number of individuals came from the manufacturing industry. Blue Ribbon Products, Fuquay Varina, North Carolina "I am here today, along with my father in-law and son, who are also with the business, because we truly believe that our family business may not survive this tax." -Wendell Howerton
Duke Energy plans to close all of its N.C. coal plants. But it'll take a while.
Winston Salem Journal // Tribune News Service // September 7, 2018
Summary: Duke Energy plans to close its seven North Carolina coal plants during the next 30 years, according to filings this week with state regulators. Those plans include calling for the Allen Steam Station, just outside of Charlotte in Gaston County, to close in 10 years, according to Duke. Coal plants like Allen are made up of different coal units, which are projected to close at different times. The first three units at Allen are expected to close even sooner — by 2024. “As we lower our carbon footprint, Duke Energy is increasingly moving away from coal-fired generation and we are not including the addition of coal-fired generation going forward,” said Meredith Archie, spokeswoman for Duke. Utilities across the United States are moving away from coal. For example, Public Service of New Mexico plans to “shed all of its coal-fired electricity in the next 14 years,” according to the Albuquerque Business Journal. “This is not a Duke Energy phenomenon,” said David Doctor of E4 Carolinas, an association for Carolinas energy sector members. “This is a national phenomenon.”
Citizen Times // Karen Chavez // September 7, 2018
Summary: As she hiked deeper into the brand “new” state forest Thursday, under the cool shade of towering oaks, maples and pines, Cydney Phillips got goose bumps. They weren’t from the cold. They were from the excitement of what lay ahead. As the trail narrowed, closed in by thick rhododendron, and became muddier underfoot, she could hear the water rushing, and then there it was – the gold at the end of the rainbow, Gravely Mill Falls, a waterfall she had never seen. Phillips, of Salem, South Carolina, was one of about 100 people who attended the official unveiling Thursday of Headwaters State Forest, North Carolina’s newest swath of conservation land. The forest sprawls across 6,730 acres through mixed hardwood forest surrounding the French Broad River headwaters.
Our View: Let’s not revive the HB2 ugliness
Fayetteville Observer // Editorial Board // September 8, 2018
Virtual charter schools in NC are still low performing. Are they improving, or failing?
N&O // T. Keung Hui // September 7, 2018
Summary: North Carolina’s two online charter schools have been open since 2015, but both schools have been unable to shed their state status as low performing. Statewide test results released this week show that N.C. Connections Academy and N.C. Virtual Academy received D grades for their academic performance for the 2017-18 school year. It’s the third year in a row that both public schools have gotten a D and also failed to meet academic growth expectations on state tests, putting them on the state’s list of “continually low-performing schools.” School leaders and school-choice supporters say both charters are serving a valuable need and that their academic performance will improve over time. State lawmakers showed their support for the two schools this summer by passing legislation to let them stay open until at least 2023. “The virtual public charter schools definitely have their work cut out for them,” State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson said at a news conference this week. “But I would say let’s follow that closely and see.
North Carolina’s schools superintendent just raised a huge red flag about a suspicious purchase he made
N&O // Observer Editorial Board // September 6, 2018
Summary: State schools Superintendent Mark Johnson has long been a fan of technology in classrooms. He campaigned on it before winning office in 2016, although he had difficulty explaining precisely how he wanted technology used and specifically how it would benefit students. Now he’s struggling to explain something new — a $6 million purchase of iPads the state made shortly after Johnson visited Apple headquarters in California earlier this year. He also raised a big red flag Wednesday by trying to quell public discussion about the purchase. First, some background: Johnson announced Aug. 7 that his department would be providing a new iPad for most every K-3 public school classrooms in the state. As the Raleigh News & Observer reported then, the purchase was made with $6 million that was supposed to be directed to teachers in 2016 but had gone unspent, according to the Department of Public Instruction.
N.C. Board of Education and superintendent still clashing over who’s running schools
Winston Salem Journal // T. Keung Hui // September 6, 2018
Summary: Despite a court ruling and more legislative intervention, the State Board of Education and State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson are continuing to fight over who is in charge of North Carolina’s public schools. Johnson has begun exerting more authority, including reorganizing the state Department of Public Instruction, since a June decision by the N.C. Supreme Court upheld a 2016 state law transferring power from the state board to the superintendent. Board members fought back at this week’s two-day meeting, publicly questioning decisions Johnson has made, such as using $6 million in state funding to purchase iPads for K-3 literacy teachers without notifying the board. The board also adopted new rules Thursday about their own authority and the superintendent’s authority. Johnson opposed them.
NC Criminal Justice Reform
As bond reform spreads, N.C. has its own approach
Times News // Issac Groves // September 8, 2018
Summary: Many people arrested in Alamance County need to put money down if they want to stay out of jail while they wait for trial, if they can afford it, which has become a national controversy that is growing in North Carolina. “There are offenses that require a secured bond, but a whole lot more that don’t,” said Thomas Maher, director of the N.C. Office of Indigent Defense Services, which provides lawyers for those who can’t afford them. Money, just a few hundred dollars sometimes, can be the difference between being at home and work between court dates, or in the jail for months while those things fall apart, or go on, without you. It’s not uncommon for people to go into jail with a job and come out without one, all while it’d doubtful that money bail gets people to court and keeps them from committing more crimes. "There are people in jail on misdemeanors on fairly small bonds,” Maher said, “so no one thinks they are much of a risk.” Around the country, 700,000 people are incarcerated but not yet convicted, according to a 2016 report by the Criminal Justice Policy Program of Harvard Law School.
NC Civil Rights
Summary: The ghost of HB2 is trying to haunt Fayetteville again. We hope this city will greet it with a more enlightened view this time around. Voting to tolerate discrimination against any group — even those some may find morally offensive — never works out well. Just last week, a prominent North Carolina business consultant told a WRAL reporter that there are several reasons why we’re still waiting to hear whether Apple will build a huge new research campus in the Triangle, and why Amazon is likely to pass us by and put its second headquarters elsewhere. We have, the consultant said, some “self-inflicted wounds” that are making the corporate giants nervous. Chief among them is the “bathroom bill,” a shortsighted and unnecessary measure that would have solved a nonexistent problem about who uses which public restroom. Transgender people have been using the bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity for generations, with no reported problems. But a grandstanding legislature felt a need to ban that practice anyway, conjuring up grave threats to our children. A majority of North Carolinians bought it — and a lot of corporate and tourism business fled to other states. We’ve yet to fully recover.HB2 was repealed, but replaced by a measure that still prevents local government from banning discrimination against LGBT people.
Repeal the Confederate monument law and let local boards decide
Police ‘broke the peace’ at UNC’s Silent Sam protest, say 8 who were arrested
N&O // Camila Molina, Carli Brosseau, Tammy Grubb // September 9, 2018
Summary: Silent Sam opponents who were arrested at Saturday’s demonstration at UNC-Chapel Hill released a statement Sunday criticizing the actions of police, who they say “broke the peace” near the base of the Confederate statue. “When the eight arrests took place, there were no neo-Confederates on campus; they had left at least ten minutes earlier,” said a statement from Defend UNC, an opposition group of the Silent Sam Confederate statue. “Whatever safety risk the police believed themselves to be mitigating had passed. The police themselves were the only threat on McCorkle Place. They were undeniably the ones who broke the peace.”
N&O // Editorial Board // September 6, 2018
Summary: A Confederate flag flew over the capitol in South Carolina, and then on a nearby pole, for more than 50 years. Then in 2015 the S.C. legislature removed that flag from its capitol grounds. A few weeks later, then-N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill banning state agencies and local governments from removing historical monuments across North Carolina. The action in South Carolina, coming after the shooting of nine members of an African-American church in Charleston, was long overdue and the right thing to do. In contrast, the monument law in North Carolina was precisely the wrong thing to do — an ill-timed, ill-considered, tone-deaf measure that has led directly to the acrimonious protests, angry debate and an unresolved stalemate surrounding the Silent Sam Confederate monument on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. A solutions-oriented legislature would recognize its mistake, return to special session and repeal the law.
DOJ Voting Records Subpoenas
Guard sanctity of secret ballot
Blue Ridge Now // Opinion // September 9, 2018
Summary: Last week brought another election bombshell: Federal investigators ordered state elections officials to turn over more than 20 million documents on behalf of efforts to prosecute illegal voting by people who are not U.S. citizens. That came after U.S. Attorney Bobby Higdon announced that 19 foreign nationals were charged with registering to vote or casting ballots illegally because they weren’t U.S. citizens. More than half were indicted by a grand jury in Wilmington. The subpoenas seek records going back to 2010, including voter registration applications, absentee ballot request forms and provisional balloting forms from all 100 of the state’s counties. Elections officials said providing millions of documents by the deadline would present huge logistical challenges as they prepare for the Nov. 6 election. The state board estimated that all of the subpoenas would require well over 20 million documents to be submitted, including 5.6 million ballots. Among those, nearly 2.3 million would be absentee ballots that can be traced to each individual voter. That raised ballot secrecy concerns among some officials.
Fight ICE voting records subpoenas, NC elections board says
N&O // Brian Murphy // September 7, 2018
Summary: North Carolina’s attorney general is authorized to fight subpoenas the Trump administration issued last month to the state and 44 counties, the state elections board voted unanimously Friday. After an executive session held behind closed doors, the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement voted Friday to authorize Attorney General Josh Stein’s office to fight the subpoenas sent to the state and county elections boards from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of North Carolina on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “The subpoena we’ve received was and remains overly broad, unreasonable, vague, and clearly impacts significant interests of our voters,” said Joshua Malcolm, vice chairman of the state board. “This Board will ... not stand idly by and consent to any agency attempting to obtain records and documents that violate the principles of overreach by the federal government, as in this circumstance.”
Kavanaugh SCOTUS Hearings
Black Caucus says Kavanaugh nomination is threat to voting rights
AXIOS // Khorri Atkinson // September 6, 2018
Summary: The Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders on Thursday denounced Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, saying his vote would be a threat to voting rights — pointing to the South Carolina voter ID law he voted to uphold.
Sen. Thom Tillis: At Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Democrats engage in desperate stunts
Fox News // Thom Tillis // September 7, 2018
Summary: Those on the left have tried their best to make a partisan spectacle out of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week on his nomination to the Supreme Court. Democrats on the committee have gone so far as to dispense with long-established Senate decorum and rules in order to fire up their base heading into the November midterm elections. It’s a sad commentary that in retrospect, now-Justice Elena Kagan’s confirmation in 2010 seems like something from a different era, when senators on both sides of the aisle took the vetting process for the highest court in the land seriously. At the time, then-Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont called on all members of the committee to be fair during the hearings and abstain from questioning the integrity or independence of President Obama’s nominee. Republicans did just that, prompting Kagan to publicly thank then-Ranking Member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Senate Republicans for giving her “such respectful and expeditious consideration.”