Wednesday News: Game-changer


PHIL BERGER SAYS GOP WILL NOT APPEAL GERRYMANDERING DECISION: “We disagree with the court’s ruling as it contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent, but we intend to respect the court’s decision and finally put this divisive battle behind us,” Berger said in a statement. “Nearly a decade of relentless litigation has strained the legitimacy of this state’s institutions, and the relationship between its leaders, to the breaking point. It’s time to move on.” The ruling follows a two-week trial earlier this summer. Democrats and anti-gerrymandering activists including Common Cause accused Republican politicians in Raleigh of intentionally drawing political districts to take power away from Democratic voters and give inordinate power to Republican voters. Wayne Goodwin, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said in a news release that Democrats hope to take back control of the General Assembly in the 2020 elections.

NC DOT SAYS BUDGET PROBLEMS WON'T AFFECT ITS RESPONSE TO DORIAN: State officials said Tuesday that the Department of Transportation’s cash-flow problems won’t affect its response to Hurricane Dorian. But the agency is delaying approximately 900 projects as it struggles to deal with an expensive year and a state law requiring it to keep a minimum cash balance. That means the response to Dorian could lead to even bigger budget woes for the state’s roads unless lawmakers step in to help. Under state law, the agency is required to maintain cash reserves of 7.5 percent of its annual state appropriations, or about $282 million, Lewis said. In August, the agency had about $300 million on hand, so officials were looking to cut expenses in operations and maintenance areas, potentially involving hundreds of layoffs of temporary and contract workers. But Trogdon and Gov. Roy Cooper said the cash crunch won’t affect the response to Dorian. "We will find a way to make sure that emergency operations are covered. The way it works is that the state has to advance money, and eventually the feds reimburse in their percentage, mostly 75 percent," Cooper explained.

ENDORSEMENTS ROLL IN FOR DURHAM MUNICIPAL RACES: The People’s Alliance endorsed all three council incumbents: Javiera Caballero, Jillian Johnson and Charlie Reece. The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People has endorsed Schewel for mayor and Reece and Joshua Gunn for City Council. It has not released its position on the housing bond referendum or endorsed a third council candidate. The other council candidates are Charlitta Burruss, Ricardo Correa, Daniel Meier, Victoria Peterson, John Tarantino and Jackie Wagstaff. Sylvester Williams is running against Schewel in the mayor’s race. Reece and Johnson, who are seeking their second terms, were first elected in 2015. Caballero, the first Latina on the council, is running for the first time after being appointed in 2018 to finish Schewel’s unexpired term when he became mayor. Johnson, Reece and Caballero are running together under the banner of “Bull City Together.” They also were endorsed by the Durham Association of Educators last month.

PENTAGON TO REPORT TO CONGRESS ON MILITARY PROJECTS DELAYED IN ORDER TO FUND TRUMP'S BORDER WALL: Pentagon officials on Wednesday will begin notifying lawmakers who represent districts where key military construction projects will be delayed due to construction of President Donald Trump’s border barrier, according to two congressional officials. Trump issued an emergency declaration in February in an attempt to free up new federal funding for his controversial U.S.-Mexico border wall that had been denied by Congress and triggered a record-long partial government shutdown earlier this year. But since the border emergency was issued earlier this year, the Trump administration had not detailed publicly which projects would be affected. Under the declaration, about $3.6 billion designated for military construction projects would be rerouted for border barrier construction. Of that, about $1.8 billion would be taken from military projects overseas, while the other half would come from projects in the continental U.S. and territories, according to one of the congressional officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement was not public.

TRUMP'S REVOLVING DOOR SENDS ANOTHER OFFICIAL INTO THE PRIVATE SECTOR: Last summer, Scott Pruitt left his job heading the Environmental Protection Agency and within a few months had started consulting for coal magnate Joseph W. Craft III. Three weeks after leaving the Interior Department, energy counselor Vincent DeVito joined Cox Oil Offshore, which operates in the Gulf of Mexico, as its executive vice president and general counsel. Now, Joe Balash — who oversaw oil and gas drilling on federal lands before resigning from Interior on Friday — is joining a foreign oil company that’s expanding operations on Alaska’s North Slope. Balash, who had served as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management for nearly two years, confirmed in a phone interview Tuesday night that he will begin working for the Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search, which is developing one of Alaska’s largest oil prospects in years. The company is drilling on state lands that lie nearby — but not inside — two federal reserves where the Trump administration is pushing to increase oil and gas development: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. During his time at Interior, Balash oversaw the department’s work to hold lease sales on the coastal plain of the 19.3 million-acre refuge and to expand drilling on the 22.8 million-acre reserve to the west of the refuge. Both sites are home to large numbers of migratory birds as well as caribou, polar bears and other wildlife.



So much for losing gracefully...

Justice Anita Earls is not "far left," she is merely concerned that all citizens, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status, receive a fair shake out of our justice system. And the fact that seems radical to some people is damning evidence she is needed.