MIKE ADAMS GRIFTS HALF A MILLION FROM UNCW: In an email sent to faculty, staff and students, UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli on Thursday announced that Mike Adams, a sociology and criminology professor at UNCW, would receive $504,702 for lost salary and lost retirement benefits. The payment was approved by N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein and the UNC Board of Governors, according to Sartarelli. Sartarelli said the school was faced with three choices, including retaining Adams as a faculty member and accepting the ongoing disruption while hurting the UNCW community and the school itself. Another choice was to attempt to fire Adams and face a lengthy legal process six years after the professor won a First Amendment lawsuit in 2014 that cost the school approximately $700,000, Sartarelli said.
NC'S SPIKE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES COMES FROM YOUNG PEOPLE INFECTED: “Over the last two weeks we’ve seen that majority of new cases are in a younger cohort, 18 to 49,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of N.C. Health and Human Services, at a press conference Tuesday. Cohen didn’t single out a specific reason for the spike, but attributes the increase to younger people working and putting themselves in environments where they could be exposed. Cohen and Gov. Roy Cooper have said people taking the virus seriously is essential to improving North Carolina’s case numbers, and moving forward in any form of reopening. “When you’re younger, you feel more invincible,” Cohen said. “You think, ‘If I get it I get it and I won’t harm anyone,’ But that’s actually the wrong way of looking at this. When we see more spread in our younger folks, who may not get quite as sick, they are still risks to those that would get more sick.”
NC MUNICIPALITIES STRUGGLE AS PEOPLE REFUSE TO PAY WATER & SEWER BILLS: When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, Gov. Roy Cooper ordered utilities like power and water not to cut off customers who couldn’t pay. Now some cities who run those utilities say they’re going broke because so many people are taking advantage and skipping payments. Water and sewer systems are run by cities, and in some parts of the state, power, gas, and even cable are also city utilities. Cooper's emergency Executive Order 142 stopped all utilities, investor- and citizen-owned alike, from cutting off services through the end of July for non-payment of bills. But that order wasn't limited to people who've lost jobs or income due to the pandemic. Paul Meyer with the NC League of Municipalities says some who could pay are abusing the option. "We’re seeing freeloading all across the state. People just say, 'Hey, they’re not going to turn my power off so I’m not going to pay,'" Meyer said. "So we've seen collection rates plummet."
BALLOT BATTLES ARE RAGING ACROSS THE COUNTRY: While the vast majority of voters were permitted to cast absentee ballots during the primaries, only about 10 states so far have announced that they will make voting by mail easier for November, raising fears that Election Day could be marked by long lines and unsafe conditions at polling locations if the health crisis persists. With Republican governors under pressure from President Trump not to expand voting by mail and many legislatures adjourned for the year or deadlocked along party lines, changes in the coming months are likely to come through court decisions. Legal battles in about two dozen states are now poised to shape the details of how roughly 130 million registered voters are able to cast ballots in upcoming contests, with more than 60 lawsuits related to absentee voting and other rules wending their way through the courts, according to a tally by The Washington Post. The state of limbo reflects the unprecedented challenges of running elections in the middle of a global health crisis, as well as the increasingly contentious partisan debate over whether mail voting is secure. Across the country, conflicting court decisions could exacerbate the differences in voters’ experiences at the ballot box in November. And as the fights play out, the uncertainty is further complicating election officials’ ability to prepare for the vote. “I think it’s clear we have a potential disaster on our hands on Election Day if we can’t process as many votes as possible beforehand,” said Dale Ho, who supervises voting litigation for the American Civil Liberties Union and supports the expansion of absentee voting this year.
TRUMP DOES TRUMP IN INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH AT MT. RUSHMORE: “Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children,” Mr. Trump said, addressing a packed crowd of sign-waving supporters, few of whom wore masks. “Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.” Mr. Trump barely mentioned the frightening resurgence of the pandemic, even as the country surpassed 53,000 new cases and health officials across the nation urged Americans to scale back their Fourth of July plans. The scene at Mount Rushmore was the latest sign of how Mr. Trump appears, by design or default, increasingly disconnected from the intense concern among Americans about the health crisis gripping the country. More than just a partisan rally, it underscored the extent to which Mr. Trump is appealing to a subset of Americans to carry him to a second term by changing the subject and appealing to fear and division. “Most presidents in history have understood that when they appear at a national monument, it’s usually a moment to act as a unifying chief of state, not a partisan divider,” Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, said before the speech. Mr. Trump planned to follow up his trip with a “Salute to America” celebration on Saturday on the South Lawn at the White House, marked by a military flyover and the launch of 10,000 fireworks on the National Mall. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser of Washington has warned the gathering violates federal health guidelines. The Trump administration, which controls the federal property of the National Mall, pushed for the celebration, ignoring a mayor whom officials view as a political rival.