Wednesday News: Can't win 'em all


COURT REAFFIRMS DECISION TO DISMISS COOPER LAWSUIT OVER ELECTION BOARDS: "The merger of the Board of Elections and Ethics Commission ... is a political question and therefore a nonjusticable issue, and that this court lacks authority to review." Because of that, the judges said they were reluctant to address the merits of Cooper's case but did so because the Supreme Court asked them to do so. They determined that Cooper has the authority to appoint all members of the new eight-member board and to remove any of them for cause, but speculation that the board's Democratic and Republican members would repeatedly deadlock on issues doesn't meet the standard for finding the combination unconstitutional. "Were the Governor given the degree of control he seeks over either the Board of Elections or the Bipartisan Board in this case, neither board could continue to function as an independent regulatory and quasi-judicial agency," the judges wrote.

FOURTH NC CORRECTIONS OFFICER DIES FROM WOUNDS SHE SUSTAINED DURING ESCAPE ATTEMPT: Prison officer Wendy Shannon died Monday night as a result of injuries suffered during an escape attempt at Pasquotank Correctional Institution on Oct. 12. Two other prison workers – Veronica Darden and Justin Smith – also died in the attacks. And on April 26, a separate assault killed Sgt. Meggan Callahan at Bertie Correctional Institution, another Eastern North Carolina prison. In October, more than 30 percent of the officer positions at Pasquotank were vacant, state Department of Public Safety records show. Smith was the only officer overseeing more than 30 inmates in the prison’s sewing plant when violence erupted, sources told the Observer.

FORMAL COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST THREE REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS OVER AQUARIUM FUNDING: A state budget line item for an aquarium at a private development triggered a formal complaint this week from a Democrat who questions the appropriation's legality. Richard Poole, an attorney and chairman of the New Hanover County Democratic Party, said he filed the complaint online Monday evening with the lobbying division of the Secretary of State's Office. It goes in the mail Tuesday, Poole said, to other potential investigative bodies, including the Pender County District Attorney's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation. The complaint mentions developer Raiford Trask, state Sen. Bill Rabon,R-Brunswick, state Rep. Holly Grange, R-New Hanover, and former state Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, by name. The three legislators have said they requested a six-figure appropriation earlier this year for a new state aquarium at Blake Farm, a large mixed-use project Trask is building in Pender County.

EARLY VOTING IN RALEIGH MAYORAL RUNOFF UP SLIGHTLY, BUT STILL LESS THAN 1% OF REGISTERED VOTERS: A week before Election Day on Nov. 7, about 2,101 people have voted early. That’s up 19.6 percent from the 1,689 voters who had cast ballots a week prior to the Oct. 10 general election. Incumbent Mayor Nancy McFarlane failed to get the required 50 percent of the vote to secure a fourth term during the general election, so runner-up Charles Francis called for a runoff. During that election, voters also cast ballots for the seven other members of the Raleigh City Council. Francis is the first viable Democrat to run against McFarlane, who is registered as unaffiliated but has left-leaning ideas. Early voting for the general election began Oct. 19. Despite an uptick, the number of people who have voted early is equal to 0.68 percent of Raleigh’s 305,271 registered voters – 136,175 of them Democrats.

NPR CHIEF EDITOR PLACED ON LEAVE OVER SEXUAL HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS: The chief editor at National Public Radio, Michael Oreskes, was placed on leave Tuesday after a published report that he abruptly kissed two women who were seeking jobs while he was Washington bureau chief at The New York Times in the 1990s. Oreskes was a vice president and senior managing editor at The Associated Press from 2008 until he joined NPR in 2015. The women told the Post that they had met with Oreskes to talk about job prospects, while he ran the Times' Washington bureau, when he unexpectedly kissed them and stuck his tongue in their mouths. Former Times editor Jill Abramson, Oreskes' Washington deputy at the time of the alleged incidents, confirmed to the AP that Oreskes paid extraordinary attention to a woman who worked as a news aide at the Times. Abramson told the Post she wished she had either told Oreskes to change his behavior or brought concerns to human resources.