Wednesday News: Rocky Mount way


COUNCIL OF STATE APPROVES RELOCATION OF DMV HEADQUARTERS: It’s not clear how many of the more than 400 headquarters employees will make the move and how many will choose to leave the agency instead. The DMV asked employees about it last week and of 255 who answered, only 48 said they would stay with the agency after the move. The head of the State Employees Association of North Carolina said the decision to move forward with the lease showed “disrespect and disregard” for the concerns of workers by both the Council of State and the state Department of Transportation. “They have turned the lives of some 400 employees completely upside down,” Broome said in an interview after the vote. “It is profoundly disappointing.” The DMV sought proposals for leased office space in Wake and surrounding counties. Of the dozen offers, the former headquarters of the Hardee’s restaurant chain in Rocky Mount was the only one outside of Wake County or Research Triangle Park and had the lowest annual rent.

3 MORE ARRESTED IN NC09 ABSENTEE BALLOT FRAUD INVESTIGATION: Caitlyn Croom was arrested Sunday morning in New Hanover County. Tonia Marie Gordon was arrested Tuesday after turning herself in at the Magistrate’s Office in Bladen County. Matthew Monroe Mathis was arrested Tuesday in Sampson County. All three were charged with conspiracy to commit felonious obstruction of justice and possession of an absentee ballot. Mathis was also charged with falsely signing certification on an absentee ballot. Dowless was arrested Feb. 27 on three counts of felonious obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of illegal possession of an absentee ballot. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking to arrest Rebecca D. Thompson in connection to the case.

DECISION ON FATE OF SILENT SAM STATUE POSTPONED UNTIL MAY: UNC will have until at least late May to decide what should be done with the damaged Silent Sam statue, under an extension granted by the university system’s Board of Governors. The Daily Tar Heel was the first to report the extension, which it said was announced at a meeting Monday of the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Executive Committee. UNC spokesman Josh Ellis confirmed the deadline extension in a phone conversation Tuesday. Ellis said Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith sent an email to members of a committee working on the statue plan to tell them of the extension. The question of what to do with Silent Sam, the Confederate monument that stood in McCorkle Place on the UNC campus from 1913 until it was yanked to the ground by protesters last August, is a complicated one with possible legal, financial and emotional ramifications well beyond campus.

GOP CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEE TO STUDY SCHOOL SHOOTINGS SEZ GUNS AREN'T THE PROBLEM: Torbett chaired the committee that came up with the bills over the past few months. One topic they did not discuss is access to firearms, especially for people under 21. Some lawmakers wanted to add a red-flag provision, allowing a judge to temporarily take guns away from people who pose a risk to themselves or others, but Torbett did not allow it to come up. "The root of these problems weren't firearms. The root of these problems is what we believe to be mental health and behavioral health," he said. One bill is a collection of small changes aimed at making schools physically safer, such as ensuring outer doors are locked and that school resource officers receive the proper training. Another bill would study whether mental health screenings in schools might identify students who need help, and the third measure would add a required course on civic responsibility, including respect for peers and school officials, in high schools.

TRUMP'S HUSH-MONEY PAYOFFS UNDER A MICROSCOPE: At the heart of last week’s congressional testimony by Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, was the sensational accusation that the sitting president of the United States financed an illegal cover-up from inside the White House. The dates on the newly available checks shed light on the parallel lives Mr. Trump was living by this account — at once managing affairs of state while quietly paying the price of keeping his personal secrets out of the public eye. The president hosted a foreign leader in the Oval Office, then wrote a check. He haggled over legislation, then wrote a check. He traveled abroad, then wrote a check. On the same day he reportedly pressured the F.B.I. director to drop an investigation into a former aide, the president’s trust issued a check to Mr. Cohen in furtherance of what federal prosecutors have called a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws at the direction of Mr. Trump.