NCDP Clips 1/29

Today’s daily clips from the NCDP

Judges refuse to delay North Carolina legislative districts
N&O // Gary Robertson // January 26, 2018

Summary: “A three-judge panel Friday refused North Carolina Republican lawmakers’ request to block the use of new legislative district maps the judges approved for this year’s elections. Even with the unanimous denial by the federal judges, GOP lawmakers have a similar request pending at the U.S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts wants a brief from the voters who’ve successfully sued over state House and Senate districts by late next week. Candidate filing begins Feb. 12, with primaries to be held in May.”

Lawmakers nearing agreement on class size fix
WRAL // Laura Leslie // January 26, 2018

Summary: “Lawmakers are in serious negotiations to work out a deal on a class size mandate that school districts say they cannot afford to carry out…Lawmakers are taking a break until Feb. 7 while they wait for court rulings in three different lawsuits involving voting maps and election laws. But negotiators said they’re continuing to work in the meantime, and they’re hopeful they will have a deal by then that they can send to Gov. Roy Cooper.”

NC Senators call for federal audit of DEQ
Star News // Adam Wagner // January 26, 2018

Summary: “A quartet of North Carolina Republican senators, including both representing the Wilmington region, asked this week for a federal audit of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s administration of permitting and Public Water Supply programs…Dated Jan. 23, the letter was signed by Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover; Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick; Sen. Andy Wells, R-Hickory; and Sen. Trudy Wade, R-Guilford. All four are members of the Senate Select Committee on N.C. River Water Quality, which Wade chairs.”

  • “The Senate River Water Quality Committee is basically asking the EPA to burden our Department of Environmental Quality with an audit when really they should be helping the people of North Carolina get clean water,” said Erin Carey, the Sierra Club’s coastal conservation programs coordinator, adding, “I would say it’s not productive, at the very least.”

Republican’s proposal could push Buncombe Democrats out of judges’ jobs
Citizen-Times // Mark Barrett // January 27, 2018

Summary: “The most recent proposal by a Republican legislator to redraw judicial districts would force some of Buncombe County’s Democratic judges to eventually run against each other for re-election if they want to stay on the bench. Four District Court judges would be drawn into what would likely be a Republican-leaning district that would elect only three District Court judges. Three District Court would be in a strongly Democratic district that would choose two District Court judges. State Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, says Republican members of the General Assembly are trying to get more members of the GOP on the bench and have targeted Buncombe County as part of their effort.”

North Carolina mismanaged itself into electoral chaos
Bloomberg // Margaret Newkirk // January 29, 2018

Summary: “The U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 18 decision to pause a nine-day-old federal court ruling against North Carolina’s congressional map was the latest turn in a legal war that has made the state’s electoral system the most chaotic in the U.S. ..What sets North Carolina apart, though, is the breadth of institutions that have been thrown against a wall. “​

Gerrymandering makes a mockery of a founding principle
Star News // Editorial // January 28, 2018

Summary: “Here in North Carolina, one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, Republican supermajorities in Raleigh can rule unchecked. They’re changing the way judges are elected to advantage Republicans. They wrote partisan election rules that, according to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” They’re losing one legal case after another as they draw maps to gain advantage. Veto-proof majorities ensure that even a Democratic governor has little means to thwart Republican power grabs. But it’s a different story at the national level, where gridlock reigns.”

  • “On a practical level, gerrymandering births government dysfunction. But worse — and this is what makes it so despicable — millions of voters no longer get to legitimately participate in the “consent of the governed” that our very founding document cherishes. This most un-American of practices must end.”

In power struggle with GOP lawmakers, Cooper wins election board revamp lawsuit
N&O // Anne Blythe // January 26, 2018
Summary: “For the second time since Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper took office, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling striking down an attempt by the Republican-led General Assembly to revamp the state elections board. In a 4-3 ruling that breaks down along the court’s partisan lines, the justices found that a law passed in 2017 that merged the state Board of Elections with the state Ethics Commission and limited Cooper’s power to appoint a majority of its members violated the state Constitution’s separation of powers clause.”

Supreme Court sides with Cooper in fight over NC elections board
WRAL // Matthew Burns // January 26, 2018

Summary: “A divided state Supreme Court ruled Friday that the General Assembly overstepped its authority last year when it overhauled the state elections board. The court ruled 4-3 along party lines that the way the State Board of Elections and the State Ethics Commission were combined interferes with Gov. Roy Cooper’s ability to ensure elections laws are properly carried out.”

Roy Cooper’s campaign spent more than $9,000 on UNC tickets in his first year as governor 
N&O // Will Doran // January 26, 2018

Summary: “Usually money is green, but a lot of Roy Cooper’s campaign cash has turned to Carolina blue. After the Democratic governor won election in 2016, his campaign continued spending big bucks throughout 2017 – including more than $9,000 on tickets to events at UNC-Chapel Hill…So is he using his donors’ support to buy basketball season tickets? No. His campaign strategist and spokesman, Morgan Jackson, said when Cooper is invited to games, the campaign pays for the cost of his seat to avoid concerns over ethics or transparency. “Any time that he is offered tickets or given tickets to ball games, we always pay for them just to make sure we stay on the right side of campaign finance law,” Jackson said.”

NC approves Atlantic Coast Pipeline permit through 8 counties
N&O // John Murawski and Anne Blythe // January 26, 2018

Summary: “A key state permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline was approved by state regulators Friday, clearing a major hurdle for the interstate natural gas project to move ahead in North Carolina. The state Department of Environmental Quality announced its long-awaited decision more than a year and a half after Duke Energy and other partners filed their application. Opponents immediately vowed legal challenges to try to block the project.”

  • “N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger praised Gov. Roy Cooper for distancing himself from what Berger characterized as anti-business elements within the Democratic Party.”
  • “My goal for North Carolina is complete reliance on renewable energy, which builds a cleaner environment and a stronger economy,” Cooper said in a statement. “During the time it takes to get us to a full renewable energy future, we will still need to rely on other fuels as we move away from the pollution of coal-fired power plants.”

NC regulators grant key permit for natural gas pipeline
WRAL // Matthew Burns // January 26, 2018

Summary: “State regulators on Friday gave the go-ahead for a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to be built in eight North Carolina counties. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will be owned and operated by Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, will carry natural gas more than 600 miles from West Virginia to southeastern North Carolina, ending in Robeson County.”

  • “Preserving clean water and the integrity of the communities where this pipeline is constructed will be a priority,” Cooper said in a statement. “I have asked our environmental regulators at DEQ to hold this project accountable and to continue to insist on clean water, effective sedimentation control and high air quality along the path of the construction. At the same time, I am continuing to push for more renewable energy, especially solar and wind.”

Of course drilling’s bad for Fla. — and it’s bad for N.C., too
Star News // Editorial // January 26, 2018

Summary: “Why should it be open season on North Carolina’s coast for oil and gas drilling, while Florida is off-limits?…May we humbly suggest that North Carolina has beaches whose only oil risk should be a leaky bottle of Hawaiian Tropic?”


Democrats should pledge to end gerrymandering
N&O / Editorial // January 27, 2018

Summary: “Republicans and Democrats alike decry gerrymandering when they are in the minority and then impose it with gusto once they regain control. The phenomenon has recently been intensified by advances in computer-assisted mapmaking and Republican willingness to stretch the tactic to the verge of creating a one-party state…While politicians on both sides await the outcome of the legal challenges, it is not too early for Democrats in North Carolina to commit to ending gerrymandering here… It’s up to Democrats to pledge now that they will support an end to gerrymandering should they regain the majority.”

  • “His Democratic colleagues should share his open commitment to finding a better way. Wayne Goodwin, head of the N.C. Democratic Party, should push to have nonpartisan redistricting as part of the party’s platform and make candidates pledge to support it as a condition of party support.”

Survey predicts Democratic wins in NC midterm elections
Daily Tar Heel // Payne Lubbers // January 28, 2018

Summary: “The wave of Democratic support that hit recent elections in Virginia and Alabama may impact North Carolina similarly in the 2018 midterms. According to a survey conducted by Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling firm based in Washington, D.C., a poor image of the Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly among potential voters and enthusiasm among Democrats will likely result in substantial Democrat victories in North Carolina. The survey, published Jan. 2, polled 602 likely North Carolina voters from Dec. 7 to Dec. 10.”

NC Republicans and Democrats are more flush than usual – here’s how they compare
N&O // Colin Campbell // January 29, 2018

Summary: “The North Carolina Republican Party raised more money than the NC Democratic Party during the second half of 2017, but the Democrats began 2018 with more than twice as much money in the bank as Republicans. The NCGOP’s campaign finance report shows it raised $2,076,315 during the six-month period; the NC Democratic Party announced Monday that it raised $1,404,540 – substantially higher than the party’s numbers at the same point in previous election cycles. The NC Democratic Party is reporting $2,400,840 on hand as of Jan. 1, while the NCGOP reports $981,606 on hand as of Jan. 1.”


Lt. Gov. Dan Forest raises $2.4 million from mega-donor
N&O // Danielle Chemtob // January 27, 2018

Summary: “Though he hasn’t officially declared his candidacy in the 2020 race for governor, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is getting a head start on fundraising, with help from a multi-million-dollar donor. According to campaign finance reports, Forest’s election committee raised $631,515 between the end of the 2016 elections and last December, and has $336,239 left over after spending. In a press release, the Republican lieutenant governor’s campaign said Forest also raised money for Truth and Prosperity, a North Carolina super PAC, along with the Republican Council of State Committee, of which Forest is the chairman.”

Forest super-PAC brag notable as campaigns file financial records
WRAL // Travis Fain // January 28, 2018

Summary: “Eyes went wide and lawyers cringed Thursday afternoon when Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s campaign took credit for a $1 million donation to a super-PAC that supported him in the last election. The email blast made clear: Forest raised the money, though it went to an outside group called Truth & Prosperity. These political action committees have rules forbidding coordination with candidates. Did this not violate them? It did not, according to attorneys who specialize in campaign finance.”

NC’s top education leader says $35,000 is ‘good money’ for some new teachers
N&O // T.
Kueng Hui // January 26, 2018
Summary: “State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson’s comment that $35,000 is “good money” for many young teachers is drawing complaints from some school board members who say it doesn’t reflect all the challenges educators face. During a question-and-answer session Thursday at the N.C. School Boards Association’s policy conference in Raleigh, Johnson said that the base state starting salary of $35,000 for North Carolina teachers was “good money” and “a lot of money” for people in their mid-20s. Graham Wilson, a spokesman for the superintendent, said Johnson was referring to 22-year-olds just out of college who work as teachers in some parts of the state.”

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