CITY COUNCIL WILL HEAR PUBLIC COMMENTS ON WINSTON-SALEM CONFEDERATE STATUE TONIGHT: The city council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Jan. 22), and statue opponents are saying on Facebook that they plan to protest the presence of the statue during the public-comment period of the meeting. Some supporters of the statue said earlier this month that they also wanted to speak at the next meeting of the council. The statue, paid for by donations to the United Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated in 1905, has become a flash point between people who see it as a symbol of racism and people who see it as memorializing Southern soldiers who died in the Civil War. City officials, expressing concern over the potential for violence, has given the UDC until the end of January to move the statue. The owners of the courthouse building has weighed in with the same arguments, saying the statue must go.
STATE ELECTIONS BOARD JOINS LEGAL OPPOSITION TO MARK HARRIS BEING CERTIFIED: Lawyers for McCready and the state elections board want the lawsuit dismissed. They say a completed investigation is needed into allegations that mail-in ballots could have been altered or discarded by a Harris subcontractor. Democrats who this month took control of the U.S. House said they wouldn’t seat Harris without an investigation into the allegations, and suggested they may examine the dispute no matter what the state elections board does. State attorneys argued the judge shouldn’t side with Harris because he’s unlikely to be seated in Congress until after the restored elections board examines collected evidence at a planned hearing and acts. The questions surround a political operative in rural Bladen County, Leslie McCrae Dowless, who worked for Harris’ campaign at the candidate’s insistence. Dowless has declined interviews. A statement by his attorney said he is innocent of any wrongdoing. More than a dozen witnesses signed sworn affidavits alleging that Dowless or people working for him collected incomplete and unsealed ballots from voters. It’s illegal for anyone other than a close relative or guardian to take a person’s ballot.
TRIANGLE BREWERS OFFER FREE FOOD & BEER TO FEDERAL WORKERS: Trophy Brewing in Raleigh has led the way locally with its offer to federal workers with government ID: a free meal at any of its locations. That means a small pizza for one worker or a large one for two at Trophy’s pizzeria (at 827 W. Morgan St.), and a free sandwich and side at Trophy Tap + Table (at 225 S. Wilmington St.) and bottle shop State of Beer (at 401-A Hillsborough St). “We just wanted to let furloughed workers know we haven’t forgotten about them,” Trophy co-owner Chris Powers said in a phone interview. “TSA, FDA workers provide necessary services for our country. They’re our friends and neighbors and come into the restaurants on a regular basis, and their lifestyle is impacted by the infighting going on in Washington.” If it’s pasta you’re craving, Romano’s Macaroni Grill is offering a free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs + Spaghetti from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily; you just have show your federal ID.
SHUTDOWN HITS SMALL TOWN HOUSING ASSISTANCE TOO, NOT JUST URBAN CENTERS: On Friday afternoon, a TriState Management employee in Newton, Ark., taped notices on the doors of 43 federally subsidized tenants, demanding that they cover the gap between what they typically pay and the full rent. “As of Feb. 1, 2019, all tenants will be responsible for full basic rent,” the letter said. “We will extend the due date for the rent to the 20th of the month. This will remain in effect until the government opens up.” Amanda Neeley’s heart sank. The three-bedroom home she shares with her daughter and granddaughter goes for a monthly rate of $505, of which she is required to pay $110. The rest — which her landlord now wants her to pay — is supposed to be picked up by the federal government under a program intended to help out the rural poor. A week earlier, a property manager at another subsidized low-income housing complex in rural Arkansas, run by the Agriculture Department, sent a similar notice to tenants. “Until the government opens again, you are responsible for ALL of your rental amount,” the letter said.
GUN INDUSTRY SUFFERS UNDER CHANGING POLITICAL CLIMATE: Gun-control advocates are rejoicing in the gun industry's misfortunes of late and chalking it up to not just shifting attitudes among Americans but a shift in elected political leaders. "Without a fake menace in the White House to gin up fears, gun sales have been in a Trump slump and, as a result, the NRA is on the rocks," said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a group founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Joe Bartozzi, the new president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the industry isn't disturbed by the drop in gun sales or the shift in federal politics. While Democrats who ran on gun-control platforms made huge gains in the House, he sees the Senate shifting to the other end of the spectrum. "Having been in the industry for over 30 years and seeing the trends of gun sales ebb and flow over time, it's very hard to put your finger on any one specific issue as to why this happens. It's just the cyclical nature of the business," he said.