Thursday News: Homeless during a pandemic


10,000 EVICTIONS ARE WAITING TO BE SERVED ON NC RENTERS: As legal protections ended last month for renters facing evictions, affordable housing advocates and legal experts predict that North Carolina could see a wave of evictions in the coming months. Over 10,000 eviction cases are on file in North Carolina courts. Since the state eviction moratorium ended on June 21, hearings are being scheduled this month in Durham and Wake counties, said Peter Gilbert, lead attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina for the Eviction Diversion Program in Durham. “Now that the courts are reopened, I suspect that we’re going to see perhaps record numbers of filings,” Gilbert said. In April, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley halted court proceedings, including eviction hearings, until June 1. In late May, Gov. Roy Cooper extended the moratorium until June 20 by executive order.

GOVERNOR WANTS BILL THAT KEEPS POLICE DEATHS SECRET TO BE FIXED: “I think there are going to be some conversations with the General Assembly about how we fix this,” Cooper said. “I think most people don't want to have that provision, and I think we'll find a way to fix it.” Cooper did not say whether he is considering vetoing the bill, but it was not signed as of Wednesday afternoon. If he does not veto it, the new law will go into effect Monday with or without his signature. Passed after midnight by the legislature as it prepared to adjourn, the language in Senate Bill 168 would shield from public view any confidential records shared with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in a death investigation. Such records, investigative reports from law enforcement agencies, for example, would become public once in the hands of the OCME. Lawmakers tucked the provision into a 17-page bill that makes a litany of technical changes to DHHS-related laws – items Cooper labeled as “positive” in his comments Wednesday. Every legislator but one voted in favor of the bill.

NORTH CAROLINIANS ARE DIVIDED ON HOW TO REOPEN SCHOOLS: The option of sending students back part-time drew the most support in the Elon poll at 38%, followed by 34% for returning full time and 29% for staying at home for school. The poll of 1,410 North Carolina adults was conducted June 24-25 and has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. Jason Husser, director of the Elon University poll, said it’s rare to see such a split in the poll results. “It’s a testament to how complex and difficult and uncertain the decision will be,” Husser said in an interview Wednesday with The N&O. “The story of COVID-19 has been a story of uncertainty. “We have so many moving targets about benchmarks. Those moving targets are on people’s minds, so people really don’t know how to reopen.” All North Carolina public schools have been closed since mid-March under Cooper’s executive order to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

LOBBYIST WITH CORONAVIRUS CAME IN CONTACT WITH AT LEAST FIVE NC LEGISLATORS: State lawmakers had more questions than answers Wednesday after learning that an unidentified lobbyist tested positive for coronavirus after meeting with lawmakers. No official notification has yet gone out from leaders' offices or from Legislative Services, but several House lawmakers were notified by the lobbyist about the positive test. House Minority Leader Darren Jackson said at least one of those lawmakers is in his caucus. Jackson, D-Wake, said that lawmaker and the lobbyist met in the lawmaker's office. House Speaker Tim Moore told The News & Observer, which first reported the story, that no lawmakers who met with the lobbyist have tested positive so far. "Oh, great," responded Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake. "Certainly, there’s been no internal communications from the leadership. I just hope that that lobbyist was wearing a mask during the time he or she was in the building." "If that was the case, I would hope everyone would be notified," said Sen. Wiley Nickel, D-Wake. "Whether you’re a reporter, legislator or staff, we’re all affected."

TRUMP PARDONS ANOTHER WAR CRIMINAL, THE REST OF THE 82ND AIRBORNE PLATOON IS SUFFERING: Only a few hours had passed since President Trump pardoned 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and the men of 1st Platoon were still trying to make sense of how it was even possible. How could a man they blamed for ruining their lives, an officer the Army convicted of second-degree murder and other charges, be forgiven so easily? How could their president allow him to just walk free? “I feel like I’m in a nightmare,” Lucas Gray, a former specialist from the unit, texted his old squad leader, who was out of the Army and living in Fayetteville, N.C. “I haven’t been handling it well either,” replied Mike McGuinness on Nov. 15, the day Lorance was pardoned. “There’s literally no point in anything we did or said,” Gray continued. “Now he gets to be the hero . . .” “And we’re left to deal with it,” McGuinness concluded. Lorance had been in command of 1st Platoon for only three days in Afghanistan but in that short span of time had averaged a war crime a day, a military jury found. On his last day before he was dismissed, he ordered his troops to open fire on three Afghan men standing by a motorcycle on the side of the road who he said posed a threat. His actions led to a 19-year prison sentence. Since returning home in 2013, five of the platoon’s three dozen soldiers have died. At least four others have been hospitalized following suicide attempts or struggles with drugs or alcohol. In New York, Sean Hannity, Lorance’s biggest champion and the man most responsible for persuading Trump to pardon him, asked Lorance about the shooting and soldiers under his command. Lorance had traded in his Army uniform for a blazer and red tie. He leaned in to the microphone. “I don’t know any of these guys. None of them know me,” Lorance said of his former troops. “To be honest with you, I can’t even remember most of their names.”



Hannity needs his ass kicked

And so does Trump, for that matter. Glorifying sociopathic murderers while forgetting or demeaning the troops who did their duty the right way is beyond shameful. It's dangerous for those soldiers still deployed, and for those back home struggling to avoid suicide.

But people like Trump and Hannity don't even consider those things, they only think of themselves.

Positive side-effect of pandemic?

That's fresh off the Elon Poll just published...

Another side effect of the pandemic

I'm sure historians and sociologists (and even psychologists) will be studying 2020 for many decades to come. But there's one aspect of the pandemic that, I think, has had a big impact on popular opinions and perceptions.

For almost three years, Trump has bungled and messed up practically everything he's touched, from domestic policy to national security. His GOP enablers have covered up and apologized for him and nothing much changed with popular opinion.

Similarly, the past few years have seen increasing numbers of Black Americans that have been bullied, intimidated, physically attacked, and even murdered by police. And nothing much has changed popular attention or moved people to be more interested in issues around systemic racial inequality in our society.

But now, Trump is sinking in the polls, the 2020 election is being thrown up in the air by a turn away from GOP lies, and, suddenly, there's a shift of opinion and a dialogue about racial inequality and hate.

What changed? Why now?

Sure, the pandemic is making everyone more aware of the incompetence of Trump and his GOP enablers, but something else is happening.

But, for the first time in my memory, high school and college kids, many with views more liberal and tolerant than their parents, are staying at home for an extended period. I can't help but think that's having a positive impact, with family members having conversations they've never had an opportunity to engage in before.

It's one thing to have a son or daughter around the house during a holiday break or summer vacation when they're probably out running around with their friends. But it's quite another when the kids are at home all day for weeks and months and everyone has to live under the same roof.