Friday News: Slumlord in Chief

TRUMP BUDGET SLASHES AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROGRAMS: In Charlotte, for instance, cuts in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) would adversely impact a Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte program that fixes damaged owner-occupied homes, the organization’s leaders say. “It would pretty much gut the program,” said Phil Prince, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte’s director of marketing and communication. “It would have traumatic consequences if (cuts) would pass in this form.” Trump is trying to overhaul federal government spending, placing a priority on the military and national security. He’s dubbed the his spending proposal a “skinny budget” for the federal government and it has won early praise from conservative groups and Republican lawmakers.

FIVE-ALARM FIRE DEVASTATES DOWNTOWN RALEIGH: A massive fire in downtown Raleigh was extinguished early Friday morning, but the flames destroyed an apartment building that was under construction and damaged nine nearby buildings, five severely. The six-story building at West Jones and North Harrington streets ignited around 10 p.m. The unfinished apartment building, called the Metropolitan, is adjacent to the Glenwood South restaurant and bar district. A firefighter was injured by falling glass, according to fire officials, but the firefighter's injury was not considered life-threatening.

TRUMP'S TOP DIPLOMAT RATTLES SABERS OVER NORTH KOREA: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday it may be necessary to take pre-emptive military action against North Korea if the threat from their weapons program reaches a level "that we believe requires action." Tillerson outlined a tougher strategy to confront North Korea's nuclear threat after visiting the world's most heavily armed border near the tense buffer zone between the rivals Koreas. He also closed the door on talks with Pyongyang unless it denuclearizes and gives up its weapons of mass destruction. Asked about the possibility of using military force, Tillerson told a news conference in the South Korean capital, "all of the options are on the table."

CHARTER AND VOUCHER PROPONENT TAKES SEAT ON UNC BOARD OF GOVERNORS? School choice advocate Darrell Allison was elected to the UNC Board of Governors Thursday by the state Senate. He will serve two years of the unexpired term of former chairman John Fennebresque, who resigned in 2015. Allison, of Morrisville, is the president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, which has advocated for charter schools and a private school voucher program for low-income families known as the Opportunity Scholarships.

WINSTON-SALEM CITY COUNCILMAN DAN BESSE INTRODUCES IMMIGRANT-FRIENDLY RESOLUTION: Besse’s proposed “welcoming city” resolution, which comes before city council’s general government committee on March 21, tiptoes around a 2015 state law that prohibits cities and counties from enacting so-called “sanctuary” ordinances. “The welcoming city resolution is intended to let our residents know that we as a city welcome immigrants and refugees, that they are full parts of our community, and that we will do everything that we can within the law to keep our city a safe and welcoming environment for them,” Besse said. “It expressly states our opposition to discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin or ethnicity. It reconfirms our tradition of providing a safe community for refugees who are legally resettled in the United States." But the resolution has also attracted criticism from other residents. Reginald Reid, who was recently elected secretary of the Forsyth County Republican Party, charged in a Facebook message to Triad City Beat that Besse’s resolution “would provide a protective blanket for human trafficking and exploitation.”