BlueNC's blog

Saturday News: Welcome back, RJA

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NC SUPREME COURT REINSTATES RACIAL JUSTICE ACT: The NC Supreme Court ruled in favor of two death row inmates Friday, allowing them to continue arguing that their cases were so tainted by race discrimination their sentences should be reduced to life in prison. The Center for Death Penalty Litigation, which has fought the legislature’s decision to close off that legal path, called the court’s move a “landmark” decision that also allows other death-row inmates to file claims. North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act passed in 2009 while Democrats controlled the legislature, allowing death row defendants to seek to reduce their sentences to life in prison if they could show racial bias played a role in their cases. The court’s ruling dropped Friday in the midst of nationwide protests focused on systemic racism in the American justice system.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article243310561.html

Friday News: Break out the Veto stamp

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TIM MOORE FILES BILL TO FORCE FULL ATTENDANCE AT RNC IN CHARLOTTE: Republicans in the North Carolina House will file a bill to require capacity attendance at all events for the scheduled Republican National Convention in Charlotte in August. The move is aimed at keeping the Republican National Committee from moving parts or all of the event to another state. N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore and Rep. John Torbett are the sponsors of the legislation, according to North Carolina GOP chairman Michael Whatley. “I cannot believe Gov. Cooper has made this necessary,” Whatley tweeted Thursday night. “Obviously the state of North Carolina cannot guarantee a full arena in August,” Cooper said. “We don’t know what the virus will be at that point.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article243278251.html

Thursday News: Lame duck

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RICK GUNN FILES BILL TO REOPEN GYMS AND HEALTH CLUBS: Gyms and health clubs would be allowed to reopen at 50% capacity under legislation introduced in the Senate on Wednesday — the legislature’s second attempt to overturn parts of Gov. Roy Cooper’s current coronavirus executive order. Gunn’s proposal would allow gyms, yoga studios and other fitness facilities to reopen if employees get their temperature taken daily and wear masks unless they’re leading a fitness class where they can social distance. Temperature checks wouldn’t be required for gym customers, which prompted concerns from several senators Wednesday. “Any business of this kind ought to be doing that in this pandemic,” said Sen. Paul Lowe, a Winston-Salem Democrat. Gunn said that’s a “personal decision” for business owners, but signs would be posted at the entrances urging ill customers to stay away. Customers would be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks, but they wouldn’t be required for non-staff.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article243242086.html

Wednesday News: Whatever, Dude

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TRUMP TWEETS HE IS MOVING RNC FROM CHARLOTTE: “Because of @NC_Governor, we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.” Cooper responded on Twitter with a similar message that he had delivered throughout the day. “We have been committed to a safe RNC convention in North Carolina and it’s unfortunate they never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe. Protecting public health and safety during this pandemic is a priority,” Cooper tweeted Tuesday night. Cooper said Tuesday that he could not guarantee the “full convention” envisioned by Trump and convention organizers that included 19,000 people in attendance at the Spectrum Center and nearby bars and restaurants operating at capacity. Cooper said it was “very unlikely” that Republicans could have the convention they had envisioned and offered to work on a scaled-down version.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article243221171.html

Tuesday News: Peace out

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RALEIGH PROTESTERS DISPERSE AS CURFEW DESCENDS: As the 8 p.m. curfew approached, police began demanding that protesters leave. “You are ordered to disperse immediately and return to your homes,” a police vehicle blared. “Failure to comply will result in your arrest.“ Most of the protesters departed, some on bikes and skateboards. A couple dozen remained at the capitol building, kneeling with their hands up. One man paced in front of officers wearing neon vests and guardsmen in fatigues. But shortly after 9 p.m., even they were gone, leaving only some water bottles behind. The curfew, which applies to the entire city, will run from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily until it is rescinded. It requires people to stay home except for medical emergencies and a few other exempt employees.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article243162591.html

Monday News: Tinderbox

NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYS TO RALEIGH DURING SECOND NIGHT OF UNREST: Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Wake County Courthouse on Sunday; more filled the streets around the Capitol. Confrontations between police and protesters began early in the evening as police fired tear gas to scatter a crowd, and continued until well after midnight. At almost 12:30 a.m. Monday, the Raleigh Police Department announced that the National Guard had been deployed. From 7 p.m. until midnight, downtown Raleigh was a running series of confrontations between protesters and police that eventually deteriorated into widespread vandalism and street fires. Around downtown, windows were broken at more offices and businesses — at least a few of the same ones that had been broken into on Saturday. Several young men broke in to the Reliable Jewelry and Loan shop on Wilmington Street. Throughout the evening, protesters diffused confrontations and de-escalated situations among themselves. Some protesters knocked down a metal barrier outside the governor’s mansion, others put it back upright.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article243145206.html

Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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TWO BILLS ADDRESS CRITICAL NEEDS TO HELP SCHOOLS REOPEN: One proposal calls for $480 million to school districts to hire more counselors, social workers and psychologists – where schools are already chronically understaffed -- to address trauma caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. The other would provide $102 million to make sure there is at least one nurse in each of the state’s public schools. There are great concerns, and rightly so, about the academic status of students. They’ve been away from the classroom since mid-March. While efforts to use broadband to bring the classroom to student homes have been laudable, too many students lack access. But the time away has surely taken an emotional and psychological toll on many students. There is the money. Legislators have boasted about their multi-billion-dollar rainy day fund. There are also federal funds that can be used. This is what North Carolina schools and children need now. No excuses.
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/editorial-two-bills-address-critical-needs-to-help-schools-reopen/1...

Saturday News: It's a simple question

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COHEN ASKS RNC ABOUT CROWD SIZE EXPECTED AT CHARLOTTE CONVENTION: Facing a looming deadline, North Carolina health officials Friday pressed Republican leaders for more detail on how they’d keep visitors and the city safe at this summer’s GOP National Convention. Among other things, state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen asked convention officials how many people were expected each night of the convention in Charlotte’s Spectrum Center and whether they would be socially distanced. She also asked whether they have a plan for masks, social distancing and other safety measures at the hundreds of parties and events surrounding the convention. The Republican response could determine whether the convention, two years in the planning, will stay in Charlotte or go elsewhere. For now it’s scheduled to begin Aug. 24 at the Spectrum Center. Organizers plan to start a major renovation of the arena in mid-July.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article243084126.html

Friday News: Planned outbreak

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RNC LETTER TO COOPER DOES NOT MENTION MASKS OR SOCIAL DISTANCING: Cooper’s office said Thursday evening that the letter doesn’t constitute a plan. “We are still waiting for a plan from the RNC, but our office will work with state health officials to review the letter and share a response tomorrow,” said Sadie Weiner, Cooper’s communications director. Convention organizers are asking Cooper to approve several preliminary safety protocols, including daily online health care questionnaires, pre-travel healthy surveys, thermal scans of all mandatory attendees prior to boarding sanitized, pre-arranged transportation and health checks before attendees can enter the arena. It does not mention social distancing or face coverings, which have been used to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. With Cooper’s approval, RNC officials will further develop a detailed plan for the convention.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article243064246.html

Thursday News: It rolls uphill, sometimes

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LEADERSHIP SHAKEUP AT DIVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY: Gov. Roy Cooper's administration changed out the top leader in the state's unemployment office Wednesday in a surprise announcement. Assistant Secretary for the Division of Employment Security Lockhart Taylor, a career employee at DES, is out. Pryor Gibson, a former lawmaker who had been directing a rural development program for the administration, is the new assistant secretary, effective immediately. Taylor will "assume a different role at the Department of Commerce with separate duties and responsibilities," Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland said in a news release announcing the change. WRAL News is seeking more information on what precipitated the move. All the governor's press office had to say on the matter Wednesday was that "the governor has directed the Department of Commerce to take actions necessary to address this unprecedented crisis and get more unemployment benefits faster to people who need help now."
https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/head-of-nc-unemployment-office-replaced-in-surprise-announcement/19...

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