Wednesday News: It's not okay


UNC SCHOOL OF THE ARTS FACES LAWSUIT OVER WIDESPREAD SEXUAL ABUSE: More alumni of North Carolina’s most celebrated arts school have filed a lawsuit saying they were sexually abused while enrolled, with 39 former students now accusing the university of negligence. Newly accused University of North Carolina School of the Arts faculty members include a violinist who recently agreed to plead guilty to federal trafficking charges, a professor who publicly criticized the school’s handling of previous abuse cases, and one of the nation’s most famed ballerinas. An original seven plaintiffs filed a joint complaint earlier this year, accusing school leadership of ignoring evidence that former staff members were sexually abusing students in the 1980s. They described decades of emotional turmoil in the years since, eliciting an apology from current school leaders. Where there's smoke, there's fire, and this fire needs to be put out.

DOCTOR MANDY COHEN IS LEAVING NCDHHS: Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and a fixture of the state’s coronavirus pandemic response, is stepping down from her job. Gov. Roy Cooper will name Kody Kinsley, who currently serves as chief deputy secretary of the department, as Cohen’s replacement, his office said in a news release Tuesday announcing her departure. Kinsley will start Jan. 1. Cohen has not said where she’s going next, but the governor’s release said she will spend more time with her family while “exploring new opportunities to carry on her work improving the health and well-being of communities.” Cooper held a news conference about COVID-19 Tuesday afternoon with Cohen in attendance. Cohen has served as the state health department’s secretary since 2017 and is part of Cooper’s Cabinet. She has been by his side for countless news briefings since the pandemic first reached the Old North State in March of 2020 and has been known in part for repeating the guidelines at the pandemic’s peak to “Wear, Wait, Wash,” known as the “three Ws” of safety precautions. I will freely admit, I said a coupla bad words when I heard this. She is...special, until I can think of a better word. And the difference between Dr. Cohen and Aldona Wos is like the difference between Pecan Pie and carrot cake. If you could have seen the look on my face when I typed that second thing you would understand.

AND NOW MARK ROBINSON IS BULLYING FEMALE LAWMAKERS: Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson confronted a Democratic lawmaker on Monday after she called out elected officials who speak against minorities during a speech on the Senate floor. Sen. Julie Mayfield, D-Buncombe, didn't name Robinson during her remarks, but she said elected officials should have respect for all their constituents. Senate rules forbid members from criticizing other members by name on the chamber floor. "My comments were absolutely in response to his very hateful statements against LGBTQ individuals," Mayfield told WRAL News on Monday night. Robinson, a Republican who's likely to run for governor in 2024, has been under fire the past few months for comments he's made about the LGBTQ community at churches and conservatives gatherings, such as calling homosexuality and transgenderism "filth" and "garbage." After the Senate session, Robinson caught up with Mayfield outside the chamber and told her, "Next time, before you get ready to say something on that floor, come see me." He then walked away quickly and didn't respond to questions from startled onlookers. Why would she want to "come see you"? She'd probably rather have a root canal done by a plumbing student. You haven't kept your bigotry a secret, so don't get all huffy if someone calls you out on it.

THE SESSION FROM HELL HAS ALMOST CONCLUDED: The North Carolina General Assembly wrapped up late Monday nearly all of its work for the calendar year, although vetoes, redistricting rulings or other items could bring lawmakers back to Raleigh for more activity within weeks. The Republican-controlled legislature, which began the session in January, held House and Senate floor votes on more than a dozen measures before members left town. “We ended up on a very good note. It took us a long time to get here,” six-term Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican, said after the adjournment gavel fell in the House. "It’s an excellent outcome after a long, tedious year.” One bill heading for Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's desk that he's apt to veto would prohibit election boards and officials in counties from accepting private money to run elections, which happened in 2020. It was approved on a party-line vote favoring the GOP. Another measure receiving final approval — spurred on by a stinging state audit last year of Rocky Mount's finances — places new conflict-of-interest rules upon local government officials across the state, subjecting them to possible felonies when personal financial gain is the result.

APPARENTLY MARK MEADOWS DOES NOT WANT TO BE STEVE BANNON'S CELLMATE: Mark Meadows, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff at the time of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, is cooperating with the House committee investigating the pro-Trump insurrection, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), said Tuesday. “Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney,” Thompson said in a statement. “He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition.” Meadows is the highest-profile member of Trump’s inner circle who is known to be cooperating or who the committee has publicly acknowledged is cooperating. Committee members have previously said many people with connections to the events of that day have voluntarily engaged with investigators, but they have not specified who those individuals are or how high up they were in the Trump administration. Details of the deal Meadows struck with the committee were not made public. While Meadows has now produced records for the committee and will sit before it, he could still try to claim executive privilege to protect certain pieces of information, making the cooperation fragile. Meadows was subpoenaed by the committee at the end of September and has been “engaged” with investigators to negotiate the terms of his deposition and the turning over of documents. The pace of these discussions, however, caused the committee to weigh more aggressive measures against him. I bet Trump is working himself up to a covfefe moment. I don't want to see him, but I would like to watch his head explode. Does thst make me a bad person?