Monday News: Unexcused absence

TILLIS IS A NO-SHOW AT KAY HAGAN'S MEMORIAL SERVICE: Former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan was remembered Sunday as a woman who brought tireless energy and passion to her job, her family and her faith. More than a thousand people filled Greensboro’s First Presbyterian Church to honor Hagan, who died last week at 66 after a three-year battle with encephalitis, caused by Powassan virus. The crowd included five of Hagan’s Senate colleagues: Sen. Richard Burr, an N.C. Republican, Democratic Sen. and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and three former Democratic senators, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. The service came almost 11 years to the day that Hagan defeated Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole to win election to the Senate and five years after she lost the seat to Republican Thom Tillis in what was then the nation’s most expensive Senate race.

DEVELOPERS TRIM DOWN PLANS FOR CHAPEL HILL ROSEMARY ST. PROJECT: Two years after starting negotiations with the town and Northside neighbors, the developers behind Amity Station have replaced their multistory mixed-use proposal with plans for five smaller buildings along West Rosemary Street. Each of the five, 19,999-square-foot buildings now proposed could have roughly 1,000 square feet of ground-floor office space. At four stories, they would descend the hill between the Warehouse Apartments and UNC parking lots. The upper floors could be used for apartments, giving business owners and employees an opportunity to live where they work, or they could be converted to an office or business use, the plans state. Parking would be located under each building, accessible via a shared driveway on the western end of the site.

SEXUAL ASSAULT "CONSENT" BILL GOES TO ROY COOPER FOR SIGNATURE: State lawmakers have voted unanimously to close legal loopholes related to consent and sexual assault. The loopholes made North Carolina one of the few states in the country where cases of rape that initially began with consent, or that involved voluntary use of alcohol or drugs, could not be prosecuted. According to court data, among the approximately 1,000 people charged with sexual assault within that 4.5 year time frame, just 2% were convicted. Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to sign SB 199 into law. Martin said she spoke with many prosecuting attorneys who explained how the consent loopholes lessened the odds of attaining justice for victims. "I heard situations directly from prosecutors who said if a victim came to them and they reported a sexual assault and they explained the situation, that if the act started with consent and ended with a withdrawal of consent, then they felt like their hands were tied and they couldn't prosecute somebody,” she said.

TRUMP'S NEWEST PRESS SECRETARY IS DOWNRIGHT VICIOUS: Sanders, President Trump’s former chief spokeswoman, could be blunt in taking on the president’s critics and perceived enemies, including people in the media. But Grisham, her successor, has lately turned the rhetoric up to sandblaster level. Her comments in recent days have tested, if not exceeded, the usual boundaries of presidential press secretaries: Replying to former chief of staff John F. Kelly, who said in an interview that he warned Trump about hiring “yes men,” Grisham over the weekend said of the four-star Marine general: “I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.” Grisham agreed with her boss’s assessment last week that “Never Trump” Republicans are “human scum.” Asked about that presidential characterization during a Fox News interview, she expanded it to include all of his critics: “The people who are against him, and who have been against him, and have been working against him since the day they took office are just that.” Grisham has regularly echoed Trump’s broadsides or fired off her own, especially as congressional Democrats have ramped up their impeachment proceedings. On Tuesday, she issued a statement slamming the process as “an illegitimate sham” and “a scam” and said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) “repeatedly lies.” On Monday, she said the House was taking “secret, shady, closed-door depositions” from witnesses.

TRUMP'S RELENTLESS ATTACKS ON CALIFORNIA DRIVEN BY FOSSIL FUEL INTERESTS: Mr. Trump has taken broad aim at efforts to fight global warming since his first days in office. He has mocked the established science of human-caused warming as a hoax, turned his pledge to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord into a campaign rallying cry, and directed the Environmental Protection Agency to roll back nearly every federal policy designed to curb the heat-trapping fossil-fuel pollution that is the chief cause of global warming. But Mr. Trump’s quest to tear down rules that restrict the fossil fuel industry has homed in on California as a particular target. That’s in part because of California’s unique role as a beacon of the nation’s climate change policies: Some signature federal climate change programs Mr. Trump seeks to dismantle originated in the state. And since Mr. Trump has vowed to pull the United States out of the international climate accord, California has actively sought to replicate and link its policies with other countries. The past 10 days have brought home to many Californians the brutal reality of a changing climate and cemented the feeling that politicians far away in Washington are not just ignoring it but actively working to undermine their efforts to address it. “The seas are rising, diseases are spreading, fires are burning, hundreds of thousands of people are leaving their homes,” Jerry Brown, the former California governor, told a hearing in Washington earlier this week. “California is burning while the deniers fight the standards that can help us all.”



Mea culpa

I did not set out to turn the Hagan memorial service story into an attack on Thom Tillis, but his absence got under my skin until I had to say something. Whatever his reasoning was, it was a selfish mistake.

It may not be reasonable, but I have held him at least partially responsible for what happened to her. Odds are, if she had been re-elected, she would not have been hiking with her husband on the day she was bitten by the tick. It was over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2016, so maybe I'm wrong. But I don't think so.

Anyway, he should have been there to show his respect.