Friday News: Callous indifference


MOORE AND STAFF IGNORED REQUESTS FOR SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING: North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore and a top staffer ignored repeated requests for additional funding for a scholarship that supports children of wartime veterans, new emails provided to WBTV show. For months, WBTV has been investigating problems with the state’s scholarship for children of wartime veterans, which is administered by the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Last month, as students were finalizing classes and preparing for exams heading into Thanksgiving, DMVA notified universities that it would only pay roughly half of the room and board allowance promised to students; cutting the amount from $3,000 to roughly $1,700. Late last week, after WBTV’s last story on the topic had run, a DMVA spokeswoman provided a string of new emails showing agency leaders had pressed Moore and a top aide, Cory Bryson, for the additional funding throughout the 2019 legislative session.

RDU AUTHORITY TO BUILD FENCE TO KEEP BIKERS AND HIKERS OUT: The fence that Raleigh-Durham International Airport wants to build near Umstead State Park is needed to keep off-road cyclists from building and using trails through its property, the airport’s chief operating officer said Thursday. RDU eventually plans to build 18 miles of fencing around its entire perimeter, but will start this winter with wooded areas off Reedy Creek Road near the park, said Bill Sandifer. Cyclists and hikers have used that land for years, blazing a network of trails through the woods and building bridges, jumps and obstacles for bikes to navigate. RDU will meet with state parks officials Jan. 9 to discuss how to deal with a portion of Umstead park’s Reedy Creek multi-use trail that is on airport property. Sandifer says the airport doesn’t intend to cut off access to the trail or the park, and that options include moving the trail or leasing land to the parks department so it can remain where it is. The fenced-off property will include 105 acres that the airport has leased to Wake Stone Corp. for a quarry. Opponents of the quarry have been pressing the airport to make that land and hundreds of other acres along Reedy Creek Road available to the public for recreation.

NC'S ECONOMIC INCENTIVE PROGRAMS ARE NOT WORKING WELL: More than a third of the incentive projects announced under North Carolina's largest economic development programs in the last decade failed to generate a single new hire. That's according to a new analysis from WRAL News, which examined job creation under the state's Job Development Investment Grant program and the One North Carolina Fund. Both programs, administered by the Governor's Office, are designed to lure companies seeking to expand or relocate with the promise of cash grants. "If there was any other program in state government that 40 percent of the time was failing in what it was trying to do, that program would be eliminated," said Allan Freyer, director of workers’ rights at the liberal-leaning N.C. Justice Center. Perdue and McCrory announced about 81,800 jobs under JDIG and One North Carolina during their administrations. But companies under those grants have delivered on just over 50 percent of that total – reporting about 42,600 jobs so far.

PETE AND LIZ CLASH IN DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: In the most pointed exchange, Warren zeroed in on Buttigieg’s recent private meeting with wealthy donors inside a California “wine cave,” the details of which were recounted in a recent Associated Press story. “Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States,” she charged. Buttigieg, who has surged into the top tier of the Democratic Party’s 2020 primary in part because of his fundraising success, did not back down. “We need to defeat Donald Trump,” he responded, noting that Trump’s reelection campaign has already accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars. “We shouldn’t try to do it with one hand tied behind our back.” The focus on Buttigieg at the Los Angeles debate highlighted his strength in the Democratic Party’s turbulent primary contest just 46 days before voting begins, with polls showing him at or near the lead in Iowa’s kickoff caucus. But the confrontation also raised broader concerns about the direction of the race: Democrats are not close to unifying behind a message or messenger in their quest to deny Trump a second term.

PUTIN PULLING TRUMP'S STRINGS ON UKRAINE CONSPIRACY THEORY: Almost from the moment he took office, President Trump seized on a theory that troubled his senior aides: Ukraine, he told them on many occasions, had tried to stop him from winning the White House. After meeting privately in July 2017 with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Trump grew more insistent that Ukraine worked to defeat him, according to multiple former officials familiar with his assertions. The president’s intense resistance to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia systematically interfered in the 2016 campaign — and the blame he cast instead on a rival country — led many of his advisers to think that Putin himself helped spur the idea of Ukraine’s culpability, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.” Allegations about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 race have been promoted by an array of figures, including right-wing journalists whose work the president avidly consumes, as well as Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer. But U.S. intelligence officials told lawmakers and their staff members this past fall that Russian security services played a major role in spreading false claims of Ukrainian complicity, said people familiar with the assessments.



Rock quarry vs. bike trail

Nothing pisses me off more than officials who feign concern over environmental damage on one hand, and destroy a big chunk of land with the other hand. The RDU Authority is so far removed from Wake and Durham voters it's like they exist in different universes, and this fence is a hell of a lot more symbolic than they think.