NCAE POLLS MEMBERSHIP ON POTENTIAL TEACHER STRIKE: The NCAE Organize 2020 Racial & Social Justice Caucus is surveying school employees across the state about how many days of work they’re willing to miss to pressure the General Assembly to meet their funding demands. The survey gives options ranging from missing zero days to up to 10 days. The survey is taking place even though it’s against state law for teachers and other public employees to go on strike. Jeffrey Hirsch, professor at the UNC School of Law, cited how teachers in other states with similar bans went on strike and were not punished. If there are any consequences, he said it would be more likely that a North Carolina school district targeted the ringleaders for punishment. “Going after a large group of teachers would be very, very unlikely,” Hirsch said in an interview Wednesday.
BOB HALL FILES COMPLAINT WITH ELECTION BOARD OVER CONFEDERATE PAC: Hall based much of his complaint on a report earlier this month in The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which laid out violations of various tax laws based on interviews with group members and internal communications. The SCV has been in the spotlight since the UNC system cut a deal last fall to put $2.5 million in trust for the group to keep the "Silent Sam" Confederate monument off the Chapel Hill campus. Hall said in his complaint that SCV leaders likely got bad legal advice and believed they could put their 501(c)(3)'s money into an affiliated political action committee, which donated to state lawmakers. State and federal tax laws can be complicated, and they limit what sorts of groups can make political donations. The more serious allegation may be this: Hall wrote that, "according to The Daily Tar Heel report and allegation(s) from people I interviewed ... some leaders asked NC SCV members to put their names on phony PAC donations, as though the money was their own." (That equals intent to deceive, BTW)
GOP LEADERS COST TAXPAYERS $100,000 DEFENDING GERRYMANDERING: The N.C. Democratic Party and the anti-gerrymandering group Common Cause NC sued Republican lawmakers over the maps used to elect members of the state legislature. Now, their lawyers at the Washington, D.C., law firm Arnold & Porter will receive $67,000 from the state legislature to cover costs from the trial. The money is mostly for paying for the fees expert witnesses charged, or for depositions of numerous other witnesses. North Carolina will also have to pay more than $33,000 to cover the costs of a Stanford University professor and gerrymandering expert, Nathan Persily. Persily helped the judges review the new maps passed under court order, after the lawsuit ended, to make sure they didn’t contain further constitutional violations. His costs include not just the time he spent working on the maps, but also costs for him to travel to and stay in Raleigh for a time last fall.
TRUMP ADMIN ALLOWS KEYSTONE PIPELINE TO CROSS PUBLIC LANDS: The Trump administration on Wednesday approved a right-of-way allowing the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline to be built across U.S. land, pushing the controversial $8 billion project closer to construction though court challenges still loom. The approval signed by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and obtained by The Associated Press covers 46 miles (74 kilometers) of the pipeline’s route across land in Montana that's controlled by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Casey Hammond, assistant secretary of the Interior Department. Those segments of federal land are a small fraction of the pipeline's 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) route, but the right-of-way was crucial for a project that's obtained all the needed permits at the state and local levels. The pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels (35 million gallons) of crude oil daily from western Canada to terminals on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
SCHIFF CUTS LOOSE ON TRUMP IN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL ARGUMENT: The House Democratic impeachment managers began formal arguments in the Senate trial on Wednesday, presenting a meticulous and scathing case for convicting President Trump and removing him from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the lead House prosecutor, took the lectern in the chamber as senators sat silently preparing to weigh Mr. Trump’s fate. Speaking in an even, measured manner, he accused the president of a corrupt scheme to pressure Ukraine for help “to cheat” in the 2020 presidential election. Invoking the nation’s founders and their fears that a self-interested leader might subvert democracy for his own personal gain, Mr. Schiff argued that the president’s conduct was precisely what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they devised the remedy of impeachment, one he said was “as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat.” “President Trump withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to a strategic partner at war with Russia to secure foreign help with his re-election,” Mr. Schiff declared. “In other words, to cheat.”