Wednesday News: Torches and pitchforks

PUBLIC TURNS OUT IN NUMBERS TO CRITICIZE UNFAIRLY REDRAWN DISTRICT MAPS: On Tuesday, legislators were posted in Raleigh, Beaufort Community College, Halifax Community College, Fayetteville and Guilford County at hearings that were live-streamed through technology in which the sound sometimes was disrupted. Speaker after speaker described the maps as ones that will allow the elected officials to select their voters, instead of voters selecting their representatives in government. “The right to vote is the most precious right we have,” said Eva Clayton, a former member of Congress and Democrat who was the first black woman to represent North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives. “Redistricting is a way to deny that. This is no more than a sham. If the process is flawed, then the product is flawed.”

DEMOCRACY NC'S BOB HALL SAYS ONLY 15 OUT OF 170 GENERAL ASSEMBLY RACES WILL BE COMPETITIVE: "Our 50/50 state is now going to be more gerrymandered than before," said Michael Eisenberg of Raleigh. Bob Hall, executive director of left-leaning good-government group Democracy North Carolina, said the new maps would produce competitive races for only 15 of the 170 legislative seats. "What we want and what the people want is fair maps, maps that represent people," said Tyler Swanson of the state NAACP. "These maps are unjust." The court's findings of racial gerrymandering of 19 House districts and nine Senate districts prompted lawmakers to disregard the race of voters when crafting the new maps. Instead, they focused on maintaining their partisan advantage by factoring in voting patterns in recent elections and on protecting incumbents by not drawing them into the same districts.

OBLIVIOUS TO THE IRONY, LEWIS CLAIMS COOPER TRYING TO EXTEND HIS POWER WITH LAWSUITS: Cooper, Lewis wrote, has “filed nearly one lawsuit a month, with every single one of them an attempt to extend his own power.” Cooper was sworn in Jan. 1, so he had been governor for seven months at the time of Lewis’s claim. According to his office, he’s filed three lawsuits against legislative leaders since voters elected him – one of those coming before his inauguration. Lewis said Cooper is trying to extend his power. Cooper’s lawsuits are indeed related to the scope of the governor’s powers. But Lewis fails to mention on his blog that, after Cooper was elected but before he was sworn in, Republican legislators – including Lewis – and former Gov. Pat McCrory enacted new laws that alter or limit the responsibilities and powers of the governor. For an explanation of why we rated Lewis’ claim Mostly False, read the full fact-check on

GEORGE HOLDING VOTES TO DEFUND INVESTIGATION INTO HIS OWN BANK: Republican 2nd District Congressman George Holding voted for a handful of amendments two years ago to block federal funding for fair housing investigations similar to one targeting his family bank. Congressional rules didn't forbid the votes, but ethics watchdogs said last week that Holding should have recused himself. Not doing so, "reflects poor judgment," said Paul S. Ryan, an attorney with Common Cause in Washington, D.C. Holding said the measures were broad in effect, affecting a number of industries the same way they were likely to affect First Citizens Bank & Trust, where his brother Frank is chairman and chief executive. The congressman himself owns between $1 million and $5 million worth of stock in the bank, according to his latest financial disclosure.

ALAMANCE COUNTY COMMISSIONER EXPOSED BY NATIONAL PRESS FOR CALLING SLAVES "WORKERS": Alamance County Commissioner Tim Sutton’s comments during a meeting Monday night are gaining state and national attention. Sutton referred to slaves on his family farm as “workers” rather than slaves because they became more like family. The Times-News’ coverage of the story has since been picked up by The Washington Post, The Miami Herald and The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee, and in North Carolina by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer, and through The Associated Press by the Greensboro News & Record and the Winston-Salem Journal. Online carriers include and “I was talking about one family situation or one farm situation,” Sutton said. “I was talking about one farm. That is what I believe. That is what I was told. That is the way they were perceived, and that is the way they were treated.”