Wednesday News: All aboard...

PROPOSED HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINE WOULD CONNECT RALEIGH TO RICHMOND: A blockbuster deal announced last week between freight railroad CSX and the state of Virginia includes something for North Carolina that will help with the development of high-speed rail between Raleigh and Richmond. CSX agreed to allow the N.C. Department of Transportation to eventually acquire about 10 miles of railroad right-of-way in Warren County, between Ridgeway and the Virginia state line. Virginia will acquire another 65 miles of the CSX line from the state line north to near Petersburg. The state’s long-term plans for rail service include passenger trains capable of going 110 miles per hour between Raleigh and Richmond on the S-line. Orthner says the tracks also could be used eventually for commuter rail service between downtown Raleigh and Wake Forest. NCDOT is working to eliminate railroad crossings on the CSX line in Wake County by building bridges, starting with Durant and New Hope Church roads in Raleigh.

Tuesday News: Tarheel of the Year

AFFORDABLE HOUSING BUILDER GREGG WARREN GETS NOD FROM N&O: Warren’s long commitment to affordable housing is why The News & Observer chose him as its Tar Heel of the Year. The honor comes as the need for housing affordability has emerged as a top issue in the Triangle, and concerns arise about gentrification displacing existing residents. Voters in Durham just approved a $95 million bond for affordable housing, and Raleigh’s new City Council is expected to put a bond before voters as well. “I think there’s an understanding that growth in our region is dependent on many who don’t earn a lot of great wages,” Warren says. “And I think that if we can’t deal with the wage issue, perhaps at least we can make some impact with the housing cost issue, which is the largest single cost that people typically incur.” People who have worked with Warren over the years describe him as an astute businessman with a passion for helping people of modest means.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

This is what obstruction looks like:

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up. Because the cover-up is exceptionally strong circumstantial evidence that the crime did actually occur.

Monday must-read: Barry Yeoman's hog lawsuit essay


Sometimes you gotta take a stand:

In a federal courtroom in Raleigh, North Carolina, a 14-year-old honor student named Alexandria McKoy swore to tell the truth. Then she settled in to testify against the world’s largest pork producer.

McKoy had traveled 90 miles from Bladen County, part of the flat and farm-heavy coastal plain that covers most of eastern North Carolina. Her family lives on a sandy cul-de-sac that recedes into a driveway flanked by “No Trespassing” signs. Her mother grew up on that land, working in the fields with her sharecropper father and playing in the woods nearby.

These stories are powerful, because they bring the issue to life. There is no better demonstration of the complexity of property rights than the hog farmer vs. neighbor situation, especially when both are multi-generational natives to the area. Here's more:

Monday News: Courage personified


TWO OPENLY TRANSGENDER CANDIDATES ARE RUNNING FOR NC SENATE: Ames Simmons, policy director for Equality NC, said that Bridgman, a transgender woman, and Ellis, a transgender man, are the first openly transgender candidates for the state legislature, as far as his organization is aware. Equality NC is a statewide organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights. “There was the beginning of a blue (Democratic) wave in 2018 that was encouraging to trans people. I’m a trans person myself, but don’t speak on behalf of the community. I was personally inspired by the runs and elections of trans people who ran elsewhere, like Danica Roem in Virginia,” Simmons said. He said that it’s a personal decision if someone is going to be open about their LGBTQ status and if they are transgender. Some might consider it a closed chapter in their life, and some might not feel safe from violence and discrimination, he said.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


LEADERSHIP FAILURES PAVED WAY FOR MISGUIDED SILENT SAM DEAL: How could anyone – much less the president of one of the nation’s foremost pillars of public higher education and academic freedom and the chairman of its board of governors – think it is a good idea to pay the Sons of Confederate Veterans a dime to do anything? Did anyone in the discussions of the Silent Sam settlement ask: What does this settlement say about the moral fiber of this University? What message does this send to our students and alumni? Was the atmosphere so insular, the perspectives of the now-famous gang of five negotiators (UNC Board members Jim Holmes, Darrell Allison, Wendy Murphy, Anna Nelson and Bob Rucho) so inbred that they couldn’t see past merely making a problem go away? As is now quite evident, it is just as important to address HOW to make a problem go away.

Judge Baddour should recuse himself from Silent Sham case

Because you can't perform oversight of yourself:

The day before Thanksgiving, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) filed a lawsuit against the University of North Carolina over the "Silent Sam" Confederate monument that stood on the Chapel Hill campus before it was torn down last year by anti-racist protesters. Seven minutes later, Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour signed an order settling the case and requiring UNC to give $2.5 million to SCV to build a place to house the statue.

Going out on a limb here, because I am not a lawyer, but: The timeline (of lawsuit filed to order signed) raises some pretty big red flags. In order for the Judge's order to have been "well though-out" with all the T's crossed and I's dotted, he would have to have seen the text of the lawsuit before it was filed. And he would have had to be involved in the scheduling (timing) of the filing, so he could be available to sign off a few minutes later. Nothing wrong with that per se, it happens in civil suits from time to time. But it does demonstrate clearly that Judge Baddour was aware of the potentially huge opposition to such a deal, and the need for it to be taken care of quickly with little or no public exposure. And therein lies the problem, and the Judge's possible conflict of interest moving forward. By denying student and faculty intervention in the case, he has also blocked any "on the record" questions about his own involvement. There is no "adversarial" element in this case, no opposing counsel to present evidence, except what the Judge himself deems relevant. And since a reversal of his order would be an admission he made a mistake previously, the likelihood of that (ideal) outcome is small. Justice cannot survive under those constraints, this case needs fresh eyes.


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