Daily dose

Thursday News: Partial victory


COURT DRAWS NEW CONGRESSIONAL MAP, BUT ACCEPTS LEGISLATIVE ONES: The judges overseeing the lawsuit ruled that they would accept the newly redrawn versions of maps for the N.C. House and N.C. Senate that lawmakers passed — but not the new congressional map. Instead of taking the legislature’s congressional map, or the proposed maps drawn by the challengers in the case, the judges had a group of outside experts draw a new congressional map for the state. An analysis of the map drawn by the outside experts shows it would have more safe seats for Democratic candidates, and fewer tossup seats, than the map the Republican-led legislature had drawn. This is now the second version of GOP-drawn congressional maps to be snubbed by the judicial system in recent weeks. And unlike the Supreme Court, this panel of judges has a Republican majority. This could (very easily) make the difference in whether Dems can keep the majority in the U.S. House or not. I'll take it.

Wednesday News: True public servant

DURHAM COUNCILOR CHARLIE REECE RESIGNS, HEADED TO EUROPE: Council member Charlie Reece announced Monday night that he will resign from the Durham City Council effective March 7. Reece said his wife will need to temporarily spend a substantial amount of time in Europe for business. “Early last year, our family business began exploring the idea of buying a European company in order to expand our business opportunities there,” Reece said. “Two months ago, we did just that, and as a result, our Chief Executive Officer, who also happens to be my lovely wife, Dr. Laura Helms Reece, will need to spend a lot of time working in Europe for the foreseeable future,” he said. Laura Reece has been the CEO of Rho, a full service contract research organization based in Chapel Hill, since 2011. You will be missed, but you leave a great example to follow.

Monday News: Twenty two thousand, one hundred forty eight


COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS IN NC SLIP BELOW 3,000, BUT 480 ARE IN ICU: At least 2,559,793 coronavirus cases have been reported in North Carolina, and at least 22,148 people have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, Feb. 18, reported 4,871 new COVID-19 cases, down from 5,583 the day before. An additional 87 coronavirus-related deaths were added to the total. At least 2,634 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Feb. 18, including 480 adults being treated in intensive care units, health officials said. The total patient count was down from 2,711 the previous day, according to state health officials. As of Feb. 16, the latest date with available information, 10.3% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Keep wearing your mask, this ain't over yet.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


WILL HYPER-GERRYMANDERING UNDO NC LEGISLATIVE LEADERS' IDEOLOGICAL AGENDA? While the topic of the debate Monday before North Carolina’s Supreme Court was the constitutionality of an amendment to require voter show photo identification to be allowed to cast a ballot, the central issue and the key point in the case is actually about gerrymandering. That point made by Kym Hunter, the lawyer representing the NAACP, is why she contends the constitutional amendment should be declared void. "We have seen in North Carolina precisely how bad things can get when a racially gerrymandered legislature is allowed to run amok and abuse its power in the dying days of its power. And for that reason we ask that you uphold the ruling of the Superior Court and rule that a racially gerrymandered General Assembly cannot rely on those racially gerrymandered districts to achieve the supermajority.” The bottom line is, they knew they were running out of time to move forward their extreme agenda, so they grabbed more cookies from the jar.

Saturday News: There goes the neighborhood...

PROPOSED U.S. HOUSE MAP PUTS MOST OF ALAMANCE IN DISTRICT 4: The legislature has passed what could be the final version of North Carolina’s potential legislative and U.S. House districts. The N.C. Supreme Court ordered state lawmakers to redraw districts for state House and Senate and Congress after determining that districts released in November were drawn to give Republicans an unfair advantage. Now judges have until Feb. 23 to approve the new maps, and filing is scheduled to resume the next day in order for North Carolina’s primary to take place on May 17. Proposed Senate map: Caswell, Durham, Orange, Person and parts of Alamance and Granville. (Incumbent: David Price) Overturned map: Cumberland, Harnett, Johnston, Sampson and part of Wayne. Old map: Durham, Franklin, Granville, Orange and parts of Chatham, Wake and Vance. Taking a point of personal privilege here, because if this map sticks, this will be the first time (in a long time) that Alamance County will have a Democratic Representative in the U.S. House. Giggity.

Friday News: No rocks for you!


PERMIT DENIED FOR CONTROVERSIAL UMSTEAD ROCK QUARRY: The agency, the Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources, cited the proposed quarry’s proximity to Umstead. The agency said it based its decision “on information that indicates the proposed operation would have a significantly adverse effect on the purposes of a publicly owned park, forest or recreation area.” Wake Stone had asked to modify an existing mining permit that has allowed it to operate a quarry on property between Umstead and Interstate 40 since the 1980s. What became known as “RDU Quarry” drew fierce opposition, particularly from people who use Umstead State Park and Old Reedy Creek Road, which is now part of the East Coast Greenway trail. State regulators agreed that the potential impacts of the quarry on the park justified denying the permit. They said increased noise from the quarry and the “continued loss of natural buffers” would result in a “significantly adverse effect on the recreation, conservation and education purposes of the park.” This is great news. I was actually thinking about skipping the news brief, but good news needs to flow.

Thursday News: This. Must. Stop.

BOMB THREAT CLOSES DOWN FAYETTEVILLE STATE UNIVERSITY: The historically Black university suspended campus operations until further notice, including canceling classes, evacuating employees and commuter students and instructing students who live on campus to shelter in place. The FSU men’s basketball game will now be played at Methodist University. This follows a wave of other bomb threats targeting historically Black colleges and universities across the country over the past few weeks, including at N.C. Central University in Durham and Winston-Salem State University. More than a dozen schools received threats at the start of Black History Month, which the FBI has characterized as “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism and hate crimes,” The New York Times reported. “Add Fayetteville State to the long list of over 60 HBCUs that have received bomb threats this semester. I’m home safe, but still a bit shaken,” FSU professor Chuck Tryon said on Twitter. Add this to the countless other reasons CRT should be taught. Not just in college graduate studies, but in primary schools as well.

Wednesday News: Illegal = Illegitimate


NC SUPREME COURT LOOKS AT VOTER ID AND TAX CAP AMENDMENTS: The North Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case that could ultimately throw out the state’s voter ID law and help answer a question about legislative power: If a general assembly is elected through illegally gerrymandered maps, should it lose any of its power to change state law? The federal courts threw out those maps in 2018, but court-ordered new maps weren’t in place until the regular 2018 elections. Republicans lost their supermajorities in the House and Senate in those elections, meaning they didn't have enough seats in both chambers put a constitutional amendment on the ballot without Democratic help. But the GOP had already used those supermajorities to put six constitutional amendments on the ballot that November, a process that requires a three-fifths vote in both chambers, followed by a successful statewide referendum. Voters approved four of those amendments. The lawsuit argues that an illegally elected legislature shouldn’t be able to start the amendment process. Honestly, I don't care what the voters wanted. A supermajority of them already have an ID, so that was bound to pass. And asking them to set a limit on their own personal taxes? Come on. They don't call it the "tyranny of the majority" for nothing.

Monday News: Twenty one thousand, six hundred sixty five


OMICRON SURGE IN NC SEEMS TO BE SLOWLY WINDING DOWN: At least 2,525,734 coronavirus cases have been reported in North Carolina, and at least 21,665 people have died since March 2020, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, Feb. 11, reported 7,539 new COVID-19 cases, down from 8,725 the day before. An additional 85 coronavirus-related deaths were added. At least 3,556 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Feb. 11, including 655 adults being treated in intensive care units. The total patient count was down from 3,699 the previous day, according to state health officials. As of Feb. 9, the latest date with available information, 15.4% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Don't read too much into that headline, the danger is still very real.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


ASSURING EACH VOTE IS MORE THAN A MARK ON A BALLOT: Newby holds the notion that the voters, if not satisfied with the way election districts are drawn, can act to change things through “two legitimate avenues for reform: a statute or a (state) constitutional amendment.” What? Hold on here. Our state Constitution clearly says, and surely Newby is well aware, the power to pass statutes or to amend the state Constitution is reserved ONLY to the legislature. Only it can initiate and define changes in state law or the state Constitution. Voters are left simply to ratify or reject constitutional changes offered up by the legislature. How can North Carolinians exercise their independent authority to make change in a system that legitimizes politicians’ power to pick their voters and keep themselves in office? Courts exist and they are organized as a co-equal branch of North Carolina government to provide a check on the powers exercised by the other branches – legislative and executive. Once again proving that Paul Newby is simply not qualified to be on the NC Supreme Court, much less Chief Justice.


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