Saturday News: Welcome Mayor Baldwin

CHARLES FRANCIS CONCEDES VICTORY IN RALEIGH MAYORAL CONTEST: A former council member in North Carolina's capital city will become its next mayor, as the second-place finisher in this week's election decided against seeking a runoff. Mary-Ann Baldwin got the most votes in Tuesday's six-candidate race for Raleigh mayor. Unofficial results showed Charles Francis trailing Baldwin by 7 percentage points. Francis said in a written statement on Friday that while there was no clear mandate for any candidate, the pathway to a runoff victory would have required the campaign to raise several hundred thousand dollars in just a few weeks. Baldwin will succeed Nancy McFarlane, who has been mayor since 2011 and chose not to run this fall. Francis lost to McFarlane in a mayoral runoff in 2017.

COOPER ADMINISTRATION WILL ANSWER LEGISLATORS QUESTIONS ABOUT PIPELINE: Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said members of his staff will answer questions about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit at a public hearing. But they won’t meet privately with investigators the Republican legislature has hired to dig into any connection between the permit and an environmental mitigation fund. Cooper’s office released letters Friday afternoon between his office and legislative Republicans. The correspondence sets the stage for a potential public hearing for the week of Nov. 4, when staff in the Democratic governor’s office will answer questions about the pipeline permit granted in early 2018. Republican lawmakers hired investigators last year to look into a possible connection between the pipeline’s North Carolina permit and an environmental mitigation fund Cooper set up. Republicans claimed the energy consortium developing the pipeline was pushed into paying $57.8 million into the fund in exchange for the permit.

NC'S BIRDS WILL SUFFER GREATLY FROM CLIMATE CHANGE: Audubon North Carolina is asking its members to talk to legislators about climate change and urge them to adopt policies that limit greenhouse gases, Hutson said. The organization has both conservative and progressive members who are united in their interest in birds, he said. For their climate change study, researchers considered what would happen to bird species with warming of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and with warming of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme spring heat is the greatest threat to most species in the state, Curtis Smalling, Audubon North Carolina’s director of conservation, said in an interview. Many of the breeding bird species in the state live in forests — habitats for bugs that need moisture and birds that eat bugs. Hot springs mean less moisture, fewer insects and birds in trouble, Smalling said. Birds have been in trouble for years. In a study released last month scientists said there are 2.9 billion fewer birds in North America than there were in 1970, The New York Times reported. That’s a loss of more than one in four. The study, published in the journal Science, said the massive losses suggest “multiple and interacting threats.”

ACTING DHS SECRETARY KEVIN MCALEENAN JOINS EXODUS FROM TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: President Donald Trump said Friday that Kevin McAleenan was stepping down as the acting secretary of Homeland Security. Trump said McAleenan wanted to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector. “We have worked well together with Border Crossings being Way down,” Trump tweeted. His departure creates yet another top-level vacancy in Trump’s Cabinet — at the department responsible not only for immigration enforcement but also for helping states secure elections. He took over in April after Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen quit, and he was the fourth person to lead the department in two years. Trump hasn’t named anyone to the job yet — the acting deputy is David Pekoske, the head of the Transportation Security Administration. McAleenan, a longtime U.S. Customs and Border Protection official, was seen as a level head who could effectively manage the border crisis, but like many other former administration officials who came before, Trump eventually soured on him.

RUDY GIULIANI IS NOW THE SUBJECT OF A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the inquiry. The investigators are examining Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, one of the people said. She was recalled in the spring as part of Mr. Trump’s broader campaign to pressure Ukraine into helping his political prospects. The investigation into Mr. Giuliani is tied to the case against two of his associates who were arrested this week on campaign finance-related charges, the people familiar with the inquiry said. The associates were charged with funneling illegal contributions to a congressman whose help they sought in removing Ms. Yovanovitch. A criminal investigation of Mr. Giuliani raises the stakes of the Ukraine scandal for the president, whose dealings with the country are already the subject of an impeachment inquiry. It is also a stark turn for Mr. Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s, when he first rose to prominence as a tough-on-crime prosecutor and later ascended to two terms as mayor of New York.



I am more than a little relieved

that Charles Francis bowed out and conceded. I don't live in (or even near) Raleigh, but many of my Facebook friends do, and this election has been exceptionally ugly. The term "reductive" seems like a vast understatement to describe the insults and criticisms that have been leveled, and while most of that was in City Council races, the Mayoral contest got a little stinky, too.

Another month of that would have harshed my buzz fer sher, and distracted me from my own election campaign. I'm off in a few minutes to shake babies and kiss hands at our annual Fall Festival, so light a candle for me...