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Saturday News: Fleeing a sinking ship?


REP. DAVID LEWIS ANNOUNCES ABRUPT RETIREMENT: One of the most powerful Republicans in the state legislature announced Friday he’s retiring from public office, just months before he was set to run for re-election this November. Harnett County Rep. David Lewis has been a state lawmaker since 2003. He said he plans to serve out the rest of his term this year, but then wants to spend more time with his family. “I love my wife and kids and I recognize that their sacrifice has been measurably greater than my own, because they really didn’t have a say in when Dad was coming home,” Lewis wrote in his retirement announcement. A farmer from Dunn, he’s best known to the public for his role in election law changes, specifically on voter ID and redistricting bills.

Friday News: R.I.P.


CONTROVERSIAL UNC-W PROFESSOR MIKE ADAMS FOUND DEAD IN HIS HOME: Deputies responded to a wellness check at Adams’ home address and found him deceased. NHCSO is investigating the death, but has not released any additional information, and could not confirm cause of death or if foul play was suspected. The longtime professor of criminology and sociology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) was set to retire next week as part of a $500,000 settlement. The settlement came as Adams was facing growing criticism for his social media posts and UNCW, in particular Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli, was under increasing pressure to terminate his employment. Several petitions with around 85,000 total signatures called for his termination, and letters from his colleagues and fellow criminologists denounced his actions and called for his firing. Due to Adams’ tenured status, and his previous legal victory over UNCW (which cost the UNC system roughly $700,000), the university opted for a negotiated exit.

Thursday News: Causey & effect

STATE FIRE MARSHAL BLAMES FIREMEN FOR HIM NOT WEARING MASK: Harnett County removed a handful of pictures from its official Facebook page this week after a cavalcade of comments criticizing officials who weren't wearing masks. The post showed state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey visiting the Coats Grove Fire and Rescue station. A number of others, including state Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, posed for a photo outside, in front of a fire truck. The post also included images from an indoor meeting. Causey and others were standing apart from each other, but they weren't wearing masks. Causey, who is also the state fire marshal, said he tends to follow the firefighters' lead on such visits. "Most of these firefighters are not wearing masks just around the fire station," he said. "I stand with the firefighters, so whatever they say."

Wednesday News: Make it stop

BUDDHIST MONK IN HIGH POINT KILLED IN DRIVE-BY SHOOTING: High Point police responded to the temple around 8 p.m. Saturday after another monk discovered Tam Dinh Tran kneeling in a praying position with blood coming out of his nose, the department said in a statement. The monk reported that he thought Tran was suffering from a medical condition, but first responders determined Tran had a traumatic injury resembling a puncture wound to his right side, the agency said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. During a search, detectives discovered what appeared to be two bullet holes to the exterior of the building and a bullet lodged in a wall, officials said. Detectives also found two handgun bullet casings near the road, which were sent for analysis, according to the statement.

Tuesday News: High stakes


NC DEMOCRATS OUT-RAISING GOP IN LEGISLATIVE CONTESTS: Since Republicans have for the last decade had control over the legislature — and thus have overseen redistricting and the shape of the state’s political districts — flipping the legislature will be a tall order for Democrats. But if campaign money is any sign, Democrats are in good shape to make gains. Since February, Democrats running for legislative seats have raised more than $6 million. That’s more than 150% of what Republicans raised. “This is by far the best financial position we’ve been in for a decade,” Meyer said. The trend of Democrats out-raising Republicans has also cropped up in higher profile races like those for U.S. Senate, governor, attorney general and N.C. Supreme Court, The News & Observer reported. But Republicans say not to count them out yet.

Monday News: Six-figure nightmare


NC WILL PASS 100,000 INFECTED WITH CORONAVIRUS TODAY: At least 99,778 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 1,634 have died, according to state health officials. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday reported an additional 1,820 cases of the virus, down from a record 2,481 on Saturday. That total surpassed the previous record of 2,462 set July 11. Five additional deaths were reported Sunday. The health department on Sunday reported completing an additional 15,721 COVID-19 tests for a total of more than 1.3 million. About 9% of tests were positive Friday and Saturday, up from 7% on Thursday. At least 1,115 North Carolinians were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, down from 1,154 on Saturday, according to state data.

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NC SENATE--STOP PLAYING GAMES WITH LOBBYISTS, ACT TO PROTECT CONSUMERS: In mid-May, as the COVID pandemic-related financial challenges hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians were about to face came into focus, the state House of Representatives passed without a dissenting vote, a bill to protect consumers from debt settlement companies. These companies exploited a couple of loopholes in current state law that otherwise prohibit such practices. They particularly target over-extended borrowers such as those in the military services as well as those who, because of unexpected health care costs, overextend their consumer credit and need debt relief. Days after the legislation was filed, settlement companies engaged at least nine lobbyists – most with deep ties to Republican legislators or the state GOP -- to fight the bill. And it’s working. Stop playing hide-and-seek and bring the bill to the Senate floor. Pass House Bill 1067, “Modernize Debt Settlement Prohibition.”

Saturday News: Pork for Texas?


LAST MINUTE ADDITION TO BILL IS TAILORED TO TEXAS IT COMPANY: The state Department of Public Safety actively opposed a $1.8 million allocation for a new prison management software program that it says was designed to “select one specific vendor.” The provision was tacked onto an unrelated purchasing and contracting bill, House Bill 902, and passed through the legislature at 2 a.m. in the final hours of June’s session. But Sen. Jim Perry, R-Lenoir, who worked with Steinburg on the bill, said the language “doesn’t pick a vendor, this says ‘you guys get a consultant and you make the decision.’” The goal of the vendor requirements is to ensure it’s “somebody who’s got a track record,” he added. The prison system is also voicing other concerns about the project, including deadlines that require the new software to be up and running by Oct. 15. Bull called the deadlines “unrealistic and impossible to meet.”

Friday News: Vaguebooking


BERGER CRITICIZES "BLANKET" SOLUTIONS, WANTS FULL-TIME SCHOOLS: "If you're practicing the social distancing and doing all the other things, it just strikes me that that's not a higher risk situation," Berger said. Berger spoke with WRAL News Wednesday for a back-to-school special that aired Thursday night. He also discussed the state's mask mandate, saying businesses should have the option of requiring them but that a government mandate "seems to me to cut against the grain." He acknowledged COVID-19 as a serious public health crisis, but said "we have failed to address that problem in a way that really targets the more serious adverse consequences." "We've allowed sort of blanket solutions, and those blanket solutions, I believe, have missed the mark in probably a majority of situations," he said.

Thursday News: Dodging a bullet


REPUBLICAN MARK HARRIS WILL NOT FACE CHARGES IN BALLOT FRAUD CASE: Republican Harris had hired Dowless, a longtime Bladen County political operative, to handle absentee ballot gathering, and had appeared to win the seat by a narrow margin over Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes. But the State Board of Elections refused to certify the election after receiving information that Dowless had manipulated absentee ballots. A special election was later held in which a different Republican, former state Sen. Dan Bishop, won the seat. Dowless, 64, faces three felony charges of obstruction of justice, two charges of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two charges of possession of absentee ballot. He also faces federal charges related to collecting Social Security disability payments while being paid to work political campaigns.


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