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Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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TAKE MAPMAKING TOOLS AWAY FROM SELF-SERVING POLS: A group of fair-minded people could surely produce more compact and more competitive legislative districts than the sprawling, squiggly gerrymanders we have today. And we fail to see why any voter — or, for that matter, any true public servant — would object. Drawing state House and Senate districts that heavily favor either party dilutes voters’ voice and leads to intense polarization. Republicans and Democrats needn’t pivot to the center when their partisan base holds an insurmountable advantage in voter registration. Primaries become the true contests and voters are deprived of choices on Election Day. In 2016, more than 40% of North Carolina legislative districts had only one candidate on the general election ballot. Twenty-seven representatives and 11 state senators ran unopposed. Heavily gerrymandered districts are the chief culprit.
http://www.wilsontimes.com/stories/our-opinion-take-mapmaking-tools-away-from-self-serving-pols,188863

Saturday News: Dead mapmaker testifies

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HOFELLER HAD EXTENSIVE FILES ON NC A&T STUDENTS: Some spreadsheets "have more than fifty different fields with precise racial, gender and geographic details," the magazine said, and one identified nearly 5,500 college students who appeared to lack the necessary ID to vote. The story suggests that some or all of this may have played into the GOP's decision to split N.C. A&T's campus between a pair of heavily Republican congressional districts, diluting the voting power of black students living in university residence halls. "Hofeller knew which A&T students lived in Aggie Village, on the north side of campus, and which resided in Morrow or Vanstory Halls, on the south side – along with a detailed racial breakdown and information about their voting status," Daley reported. "As Hofeller sought to create two reliably Republican congressional districts, his computer contained information on the precise voting tendencies of one of the largest concentrations of black voters in the area."
https://www.wral.com/the-new-yorker-says-it-has-files-late-gop-mapmaker-used-to-draw-gerrymandered-d...

Friday News: Hang on, OBX

EYE OF HURRICANE DORIAN PERILOUSLY CLOSE TO HATTERAS: “Life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds are expected to continue along portions of the North Carolina coast, portions of southeast Virginia and the southern Chesapeake Bay,” the National Hurricane Center wrote Friday morning. “Flash flooding is occurring, and will continue to become more widespread across the eastern Carolinas and far southeast Virginia this morning.” As of 8 a.m. Eastern time, the center of Hurricane Dorian was located 10 miles west-southwest of Cape Hatteras, N.C., as the storm’s eyewall battered the state’s Outer Banks. The eye of the storm itself was passing very close to Cape Hatteras. The storm was barreling northeast at 14 mph, a marked increase in speed compared to the past five days. Dorian’s hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 220 miles.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/09/06/dorian-lash-eastern-north-carolina-southeast-virgi...

Thursday News: Hurricanes have consequences

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EARLY VOTING CANCELED IN PARTS OF CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: Fifteen counties in the 3rd Congressional District — covering much of northeastern North Carolina — are shutting down early voting for Friday. Ten will close for all or part of Thursday as well. In the 9th Congressional District, which stretches along North Carolina’s southern border from Bladen County to Mecklenburg County, four counties are limiting early voting. Bladen County’s early voting sites are closed Thursday and Friday. Robeson and Scotland won’t offer early voting on Thursday, and Cumberland County will only have one early voting site open at the county Board of Elections from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday. The county board will decide on Friday morning if sites should be open that day.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/weather-news/article234728472.html

Wednesday News: Game-changer

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PHIL BERGER SAYS GOP WILL NOT APPEAL GERRYMANDERING DECISION: “We disagree with the court’s ruling as it contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent, but we intend to respect the court’s decision and finally put this divisive battle behind us,” Berger said in a statement. “Nearly a decade of relentless litigation has strained the legitimacy of this state’s institutions, and the relationship between its leaders, to the breaking point. It’s time to move on.” The ruling follows a two-week trial earlier this summer. Democrats and anti-gerrymandering activists including Common Cause accused Republican politicians in Raleigh of intentionally drawing political districts to take power away from Democratic voters and give inordinate power to Republican voters. Wayne Goodwin, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said in a news release that Democrats hope to take back control of the General Assembly in the 2020 elections.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article234668747.html

Tuesday News: Road Worriers

STORMS AND LAWSUITS HAVE DRAINED NC DOT'S OPERATING CAPABILITIES: A draft of the STIP released last winter already proposed delays to a dozen highway projects in the Triangle, including the conversion of Capital Boulevard into a freeway between Raleigh and Wake Forest. At the time, NCDOT officials cited several reasons for the changes, including rising prices for materials and labor and faulty estimates that didn’t accurately reflect the cost of buying land in urban areas like the Triangle. Since then, NCDOT’s financial picture has gotten worse. The department has spent nearly $300 million in the last year on cleanup and repairs following storms, including Hurricane Florence, which hit just two years after Hurricane Matthew. Meanwhile, NCDOT has spent more than $300 million settling lawsuits related to the Map Act, a law the state used to reserve land for future roads without actually buying it. The state Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional, and NCDOT says the cost to settle individual lawsuits could top $1 billion.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/traffic/article234548637.html

Monday News: Here we go again...

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GOVERNOR COOPER ISSUES WARNING ABOUT HURRICANE DORIAN: Gov. Roy Cooper on Sunday said all North Carolina residents should be prepared to take action as Hurricane Dorian, now a Category 5 storm, could threaten the Carolinas later this week. "We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst," he said during a Sunday session with reporters. "Right now, it's fierce storm and North Carolina will likely see heavy rains, winds and flooding. I urge everyone to take it seriously. The time to prepare is now." Dorian slammed into the Bahamas around midday Sunday with sustained winds near 180 mph, the strongest on record to hit the northwestern archipelago, leaving residents scrambling to find shelter as they braced for rising waters and torrential rains.
https://www.wral.com/we-are-hoping-for-the-best-but-preparing-for-the-worst-gov-cooper-says-as-doria...

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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EXPAND MEDICAID, SPARE US THE SONG AND DANCE: Senate leader Phil Berger and his partner House Speaker Tim Moore have hatched a scheme to work their will with the state budget. They are taking Johnny Cash’s advice to build it “one piece at a time.” If they want to get it all through with little dissent, the first item needs to be expanding Medicaid. They’ll find much of the rest, a breeze to put together. But the unfortunate reality is that Berger and Moore will do almost anything to avoid confronting the issue that demands their immediate attention. They’d rather have rank-and-file legislators twiddle their $42,000-a-day thumbs or jet off to conferences – than discuss expanding Medicaid coverage to more than a half-million working North Carolinians whose families today lack health coverage.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-expand-medicaid-spare-us-the-song-and-dance/18594126/

Saturday News: Wrong Medicaid bill

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GOVERNOR COOPER VETOES MEDICAID "TRANSFORMATION" LEGISLATION: These mini budgets came to the governor's desk this week as the legislature's Republican majority explored ways around his June veto of the state's overall budget. The pay raises, covering state highway patrol, prison system employees, the State Bureau of Investigations and a long list of other state employees, moved through the General Assembly with bipartisan, unanimous support. But Medicaid transformation, long a GOP priority even though it fell to Gov. Roy Cooper's administration to implement, drew opposition from legislative Democrats. Cooper said in a statement that "passing mini-funding bills that simply divvy up the vetoed Republican budget is a tactic to avoid a comprehensive budget." "Health care is an area where North Carolina needs us to do more, and to do it comprehensively," Cooper said in his statement.
https://www.wral.com/cooper-signs-employee-raise-bills-vetoes-medicaid-transformation/18602048/

Friday News: Debunking propaganda

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DUKE ENERGY AGREES SOLAR ENERGY DOES *NOT* INCREASE POLLUTION: The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that has labeled Duke “Public Energy Enemy No. 1” in part for not investing more in renewable energy, says “the nation’s largest investor-owned electric utility is pushing an outlandish claim that the growth of solar power will increase air pollution.” By the time the group had blasted the company, Duke had already released its own statement, suggesting that past media articles had mischaracterized its request of regulators. Duke credited the growth of solar energy, along with the replacement of coal-fired power plants with cleaner-burning natural gas units, for steep overall declines in its carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxide emissions. The claim that solar energy causes more air pollution is “faulty logic,” Duke’s statement said. “It’s like saying an electric vehicle is bad since it will increase your electric bill, while neglecting to mention the cost savings of not buying gasoline.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article234303987.html

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