Thursday News: Lame duck


RICK GUNN FILES BILL TO REOPEN GYMS AND HEALTH CLUBS: Gyms and health clubs would be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity under legislation introduced in the Senate on Wednesday — the legislature’s second attempt to overturn parts of Gov. Roy Cooper’s current coronavirus executive order. Gunn’s proposal would allow gyms, yoga studios and other fitness facilities to reopen if employees get their temperature taken daily and wear masks unless they’re leading a fitness class where they can social distance. Temperature checks wouldn’t be required for gym customers, which prompted concerns from several senators Wednesday. “Any business of this kind ought to be doing that in this pandemic,” said Sen. Paul Lowe, a Winston-Salem Democrat. Gunn said that’s a “personal decision” for business owners, but signs would be posted at the entrances urging ill customers to stay away. Customers would be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks, but they wouldn’t be required for non-staff.

IS GREG LINDBERG TRYING TO BRIBE THE ACLU INTO HELPING HIM? The state's largest political donor, convicted three months ago on a federal bribery charge, has pledged $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union's Criminal Law Reform Project. Greg Lindberg, a North Carolina businessman who owns hundreds of companies, said in a news release that "people have taken to the streets to air their frustration with a system that is stacked against them." Lindberg maintains his innocence, and he has accused Causey of entrapment. The state took control of his insurance companies, citing liquidity concerns, and a subpoena served on the consultant brought in to oversee those companies indicates a second federal inquiry into Lindberg's business practices was ongoing at least as recently as last year. In his release, Lindberg said that he has been "disturbed by the consequences of prosecutorial abuses and unjust incarceration of non-violent offenders for some time" and that that "recent events have exacerbated these concerns."

WTVD REFUSES TO RUN AD CRITICAL OF DONALD TRUMP: The Lincoln Project, a PAC formed in 2019 by a group of influential Republicans and former Republicans, has criticized local TV station ABC11/WTVD for not airing an ad critical of President Donald Trump and his supporters who brandish the Confederate flag. The ad, called “Flag of Treason,” calls the Confederate States’ efforts in the Civil War an act of treason against America, and notes that some Americans still embrace the flag. Over a montage of images of the flag at Trump rallies, the ad asks: “Why does it keep showing up at events that support Donald Trump, and why does he call the folks who carry it ‘very fine people’?” The PAC released a statement on Tuesday condemning the Disney-owned-and-operated WTVD for not selling them air time for the ad. They called the station’s refusal “an act of cowardice” and said the station told them the ad was “too inflammatory.”

MAD-DOG MATTIS CUTS LOOSE ON TRUMP OVER USING MILITARY IN CITIES: “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” Mattis said in the statement. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.” Mattis, who served under Trump for two years, called upon Americans to “unite without him” and referred to Abraham Lincoln’s appeal to Americans in his 1861 inaugural address to summon their better angels and hold the nation together. “We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square,” Mattis said. “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s ‘better angels,’ and listen to them, as we work to unite.” In a Twitter message several hours after Mattis’s statement was made public, Trump called him “the world’s most overrated general.” The criticism of the events this week represents a growing sense of dismay among retired military leaders who have warned against the domestic use of military aggression and politicization of the armed forces. Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said conditions in U.S. cities did not warrant the deployment of active-duty military forces, and retired Army Gen. Tony Thomas, a former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said American soil should never be described as a “battle­space” unless invaded by a foreign power.

CORONAVIRUS CASES CONTINUE TO GROW WORLDWIDE: Twice as many countries have reported a rise in new cases over the past two weeks as have reported declines, according to a New York Times database. On May 30, more new cases were reported in a single day worldwide than ever before: 134,064. The increase has been driven by emerging hot spots in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Over all, there have been more than 6.3 million reported cases worldwide and more than 380,000 known deaths. More than a quarter of all known deaths have been in the United States. But the geography of the pandemic is changing quickly. The increases in some countries can be attributed to improved testing programs. But in many places, it appears that the virus has only now arrived with a wide scope and fatal force. Brazil is reporting nearly as many deaths each day as the United States. Egypt has recorded an exponential rise in known infections. And Bangladesh and Indonesia have reported steep increases in cases for the first time. The death toll in Brazil, Latin America’s largest country, passed 30,000 on Tuesday, when officials reported 1,262 deaths, which was the nation’s highest one-day total. President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly minimized the threat of the virus, said, “We are sorry for all the dead, but that’s everyone’s destiny.” Brazil now has more than half a million known cases, second only to the United States.



Does Gunn have a personal financial interest here?

Rick Gunn's main business is real estate. It would be curious to find out if he is actually renting commercial properties to gym owners, prompting a specific interest in this bill, or has a friend or business associate that operates gym properties.

This seems like an oddly specific bill.

Checking on that now...

It may take awhile, since I've got to access the GIS map to verify deed/ownership. And I need to put up another post...

As with any Republican politician...

the safe bet is always to follow the money. Gunn himself doesn't seem to be involved in property management (Gunn and Associates seems to do sales and leasing) but you can bet he has plenty of friends in the real estate business who do. The likelihood is that this is him acting as frontman for a whole set of real estate interests who do hold of manage leases on these kind of properties and want them back in operation so that their income stream isn't interrupted.Given that the North Carolina Association of Realtors is a major campaign contributor to his campaign as well, and I think we can all see the motivation.

He actually does lease

commercial properties, he's got a couple in my downtown area. One is a big warehouse, and some smaller ones are retail. But I haven't found any fitness centers owned by him yet.

I've seen his name ...

... on several commercial buildings for sale or lease in the area.

Gotta step out for a few

I have a telehealth appointment on my Iphone, which I've never done before (I'm a laptop guy, that phone scares me). Theoretically, I shouldn't have to wait very long once logged in, but I've got a 6 month-old Atlantic magazine handy...