Thursday News: Performance art


REPUBLICANS HOLD KANGAROO COURT OVER COOPER'S PIPELINE MITIGATION FUND: State legislators will hire an investigator to review Gov. Roy Cooper administration's handling of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline amid Republican suggestions that the governor may have extorted Duke Energy for millions over a key project permit. The decision came at the end of the second legislative committee meeting in a row on the controversy during which Republican lawmakers essentially asked rhetorical questions from a lectern. No one from the administration was there to answer. The Governor's Office said Republicans "staged another bizarre kangaroo court to score political points." Cooper has repeatedly denied the pay-to-play accusations, which Republican leaders present not as fact, but as open questions that the administration won't answer to their satisfaction.

MAJOR DRAWBACKS TO CASTING A PROVISIONAL VOTE: Provisional ballots are offered to any voter who doesn’t have their registration on file when they show up to vote. People are also offered provisional ballots if they go to the wrong polling place to cast a ballot. Basically, a voter may be asked to vote using a provisional ballot if their eligibility as a voter is being questioned. These voters are researched by members of the county or state board of elections, who will determine if their votes will count or not by Nov. 16. They will also determine what parts of the ballot count. If a voter cast a ballot in the wrong district, then their votes for local positions, such as for the General Assembly, may not be valid, whereas their votes for statewide races, such as the North Carolina state Supreme Court, could hold. In 2016, there were more than 60,000 provisional ballots. Almost 22,000 of these provisional ballots were fully counted, state elections board spokesman Pat Gannon said, and about 5,200 were partially counted. That means about 34,000 ballots were not counted.

NC COASTAL FEDERATION RECEIVES $1.1 MILLION GRANT FOR LIVING SHORELINES: Two North Carolina coastal communities have received $1.1 million to control shoreline erosion. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and partners awarded the grant to the North Carolina Coastal Federation for the Living Shorelines for North Carolina Coastal Communities project for Carteret and Pamlico counties. The money was awarded to Atlantic Harbor, a community harbor in Carteret County, and a town shoreline and harbor entrance in the Town of Oriental. That town has been impacted by recent hurricanes, including Florence and Michael this year. Federation scientist Lexia Weaver will lead both projects. Weaver said living shorelines have proven more effective for erosion control in storms than bulkheads. The grant helps the federation work to naturally stabilize and protect the eroding shorelines by building living shorelines tailored to specific site characteristics.

GOVERNOR COOPER WANTS $5 BILLION MORE FROM FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO REBUILD SMARTER: “One thing we know for sure, these aren’t 500-year floods. We’ve had two of them in the last 23 months, we’ve had three of them in the last 19 years; they’re not 500-year floods,” Cooper said, referencing Hurricane Floyd in 1999. “They’re coming again. We’ve got to figure out how to build back stronger and smarter. That’s one of our main goals here.” That means buying out some homeowners in flood-prone areas and elevating the homes of others, moves that cost more up front but will save money during the next storm, Cooper said. He said some cities in the state are looking at “strategic retreat,” purchasing land farther from flood areas. Other possible solutions, he said, were creating “catch basins,” areas that could serve as public parks but would hold flood waters during storms, and possibly building dams or locks on rivers to control flooding. “We are asking for more flexibility in being more resilient,” Cooper said. Cooper also met with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. Cooper wants a change in federal law to allow block grants from HUD to be awarded for both recoveries at one time, allowing a quicker process.

ELECTED REPUBLICAN WOMEN MAKE THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST: The number of Republican women in Congress next year will actually drop, even as the ranks of Democratic women swell to record heights. With a few races still undecided, the new Congress will have at least 105 Democratic women and 19 Republican women. “There’s been a Republican woman problem for a while — it didn’t start this year,” said Kelly Dittmar, a political scientist at the Center for American Women and Politics. “But it is illuminated by the fact that when you drop by one, two, three or four, you’re getting down to such a small level of representation for women because you had no padding.” In Congress, the last drop in the number of Republican women was after the 2012 elections, between the 112th and 113th Congress, when it fell from 29 to 23. Whitney Smith, who ran for state and county office as a Republican in Ohio and owns a consulting firm that specializes in female candidates, said she has worked on more than 300 campaigns. “I never, as a candidate or consultant, encountered a pipeline from the Republican Party to recruit women,” she said.