Yeah, this isn’t Durham specific, but it’s pretty big news. In light of the 4th Circuit ruling striking down Virginia’s ban on same sex marriages earlier today, Roy Cooper has stated he’ll stop defending NC’s own anti-equality Amendment:
“It’s time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court,” he said.
It will be interesting to see the grandstanding by GOP legislators in response, and whether they pursue any additional retaliation against the AG’s office. Cooper, who is arguably the most prominent Democrat in NC politics (and an incredibly likely candidate for Governor in 2016), has tried very hard up to now to defend the Amendment in about the weakest way possible, a tightrope act which has allowed him to avoid direct confrontation with the legislature (but hasn’t exactly made him many friends on either side of the issue).
Although the legislature and the Governor can’t get rid of Cooper, they have various ways to reduce his headcount and otherwise reduce or obstruct the mission of the attorney general’s office.
One of the more interesting possible outcomes here is the Senate trying to step in to defend the law in lieu of Cooper. Last session the legislature granted itself the power to represent NC in lawsuits, and this is exactly the reason why they did so. Cooper has in the past maintained that the law wouldn’t apply in Constitutional scenarios, but the Senate could try to do just that, and in turn that move would probably itself be challenged in court.
I know you’ve been waiting for my insights on the election, sorry about the delay! I think the big story here is that the Committee on the Affairs of Black People doesn’t seem to be as big a factor as it once was in Durham politics. They went against the People’s Alliance in several cases, and they didn’t win a single one of them.
Turnout was pretty good for a midterm election at around 15%, despite the changes to early voting procedures.
School board (nonpartisan):
- Mike Lee defeated long time incumbent Omega Curtis Parker in District 1. Lee was endorsed by every political group. I guess Parker didn’t make many friends.
- Sendolo Diaminah won in District 2. Diaminah was endorsed by the Indy and the Alliance, and he was outspent by his competitors, but he did a lot of community outreach personally.
- Matt Sears won District 3. Like Sendolo, he was endorsed by the Indy and the Alliance.
- Natalie Beyer ran unopposed in District 4 and defeated “Other”
DA (Democrat, running with no other party in opposition):
Sheriff (Democrat, running with no other party in opposition):
- Mike Andrews, the incumbant (who was appointed after Worth Hill retired in 2011), won handily. Andrews was endorsed by everybody but the Committee.
District Judges (nonpartisan):
- Doretta Walker will face Henry Pruette in the general election. Walker had a large lead in the primary.
- Nancy Gordon will face Fred Battaglia in the general election. The primary was very close, so this will be one to keep an eye on (also, they have split endorsements from the Alliance and Committee)
NC House (Republican):
- Rod Chaney easily defeated his challenger and will face incumbent Graig Meyer in the fall for District 50.
NC Senate (Republican):
- Milton Holmes narrowly won his primary in district 22 and moves on to face incumbent (and former City Councilman) Mike Woodard.
US House (Democrat):
- Incumbent Butterfield easily defeated his sole Democratic challenger in District 1.
- Laura Fjeld (endorsed by the Alliance) defeated Bruce Davis in District 6. Davis was endorsed by both the Indy and the Committee.
- Brenda Cleary readily defeated her sole challenger in the 13th district. Cleary will face incumbent George Holding in the general election.
US House (Republican):
- Arthur Rich narrowly won in District 1.
- Mark Walker and Phil Berger Jr. were the top two candidates in a large District 6 field, and they’ll face off in a runoff in July.
- Unsurprisingly, this will be Tillis vs Hagan.
Just a brief reminder that today is the last day to vote in the primary election. You can find your polling place at the Durham county web site. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
The turnout in early voting was low, as is typical for midterm elections, but it doesn’t seem to have been substantially impacted by the shortened early voting schedule.
Below is the list of endorsements, in case you need them. For some reason you are not allowed to use a telephone in the polling place, so you might want to print it out ahead of time if you’d like to refer to it when you vote.
Protip: in NC, Independents can select which party ballot they receive when they arrive at the polls. I won’t tell you Independents how to cast your own votes, but I’ll mention that if you choose the Republican ballot you get the chance to vote in a hotly contested primary race which will determine who runs against Hagan for US Senate this fall.
Well, it’s the last day of 2013, and there’s only one way to ring in the new year: dropping a possum!
A Superior Court judge will allow Brasstown’s annual Possum Drop to go ahead despite opposition from animal rights activists.
You may recall that in one of his first acts as governor McCrory signed a bill into law that allowed the return of the Possum Drop, and in one of my first posts as blogger I wrote up an extensive retelling of the saga, which you might (or might not) find amusing. This ruling marks the end of the legal shenanigans from the likes of PETA , and so the beloved hillbilly tradition is back in earnest.
I hope you guys had a good 2013! I thought it was pretty sweet. See ya next year.
WRAL is reporting that the Senate just finished what the House started yesterday, voting to override both of McCrory’s vetoes. Now some welfare recipients will be required to take drug tests, others will face background checks, and brown people can be thrown in jail for twenty four hours due to excessive brownness. Oh, and E-Verify won’t be enforced in agribusiness operations.
There were few defectors, which speaks to just how little say McCrory has here at the end of the day. Like the rest of us, he’s just along for the ride to crazytown.
First up, Self-Help’s long delayed rezoning request which would bring Durham Central Market and others to the corner of Kent and WCH should finally be voted on tonight. The request spans items number 21 and 22 on the agenda, and due to David Anthony the vote requires a three fourths supermajority. If you’d like to watch live, you can try public access on TWC, or you can just wait for it to show up in the video archives. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza.
Turning to Raleigh, it’s a big day for McCrory, as we get to see how the legislature will respond to his pair of vetoes. Both pieces of legislation passed by large margins initially, but McCrory has launched a PR campaign to try and build support for his position, and it will be interesting to see who (if anybody) breaks ranks to stand with the gov.
The immigration bill is particularly divisive, as the agricultural industry is strongly in favor (since it allows them to hire illegal immigrants and bypass everify) despite the complaints of some conservative groups who balk at the idea of allowing illegal immigrants to find work in the state. The bill has made for some strange bedfellows, as anti-immigrant activists oppose it for the everify loophole, while civil libertarians oppose it for allowing LEOs to hold people for up to 24 hours merely on the suspicion of being an illegal immigrant (read: you can be thrown in jail for 24 hours for being brown).
Welcome to Durham, jerks.
In addition to the 751 South bill, McCrory went on a last minute signing rampage, approving everything except the Sharia Law bill which is still awaiting his decision. He’s got until Sunday to do something (or nothing) about that.
I’ll add a link to the rundown of what passed when it becomes available.
WRAL has a rundown. They also note that McCrory is going to let the Sharia Law bill become law without his signature.
One of the bills that just passed is the rollback of Jordan Lake pollution control measures, so the beleaguered lake is taking hits on all sides today. Good thing we drink from Lake Michie!
According to WRAL, McCrory has called the veto override session for Sept 3, so go ahead and mark your calendars. In NC, when the governor issues a veto, he must call the legislature back for a chance to override it (or, if he fails to do that for some reason, his veto is automatically overridden (which strikes me as a pretty stupid thing for a governor to do)).
Although both of the vetoed bills originally passed by large margins, and although the bluster from the legislature is that the override is a done deal, this could still get very interesting. Has this all been planned so that McCrory could score some cred by vetoing bills that he knew would be overridden later? Or are we looking at some real disagreement within the ranks of the GOP (this would not be the first time)? If McCrory’s the stooge here, he’s sure putting up a good show.
Assuming McCrory’s vetoes were legitimate, this would be an ideal time for some legislators to score some points by standing by the gov. He’s already proven that he’s a good person to be friends with, after all.
Oh, and you remember that 751 South forced annexation bill (S315, vaguely entitled “Municipal Services”)? Yeah, still waiting for approval, along with 34 other bills (including such favs as the Sharia Law bill). If McCrory doesn’t sign or veto these bills by Sunday, they become law automatically without his signature (which in the case of S315 at least seems like a good bet).
Gov. Pat McCrory issued the first veto of his administration Thursday, rejecting legislation that would have required people applying for welfare benefits to pass a drug test.
Well now, that’s interesting. Even if you agree with the general sentiment of denying the social safety net to addicts, this kind of screening process is known to be incredibly expensive to run, and this move gives a lot of credence to McCrory’s “fiscally responsible” messaging. A similar program in Florida cost the state more in test expenses (handed out to buddies in the drug testing industry who lobbied for the program) than was saved in denied claims.
Looks like he also vetoed the immigration enforcement bill, according to WUNC:
One (HB 786) known as the “Reclaiming NC Act” would have required undocumented immigrants to submit to criminal background checks and fingerprinting to obtain driving permits. It also would have allowed police to detain people they suspect of being undocumented for up to 24 hours.
His rationale for rejection of HB786 is that it attempted to pre-empt federal immigration enforcement laws, allowing employers to avoid parts of E-Verify. So he’s vetoed an anti-immigration bill… ostensibly because it would have made it too easy to hire illegal immigrants. Weird. It’s not clear to me whether this is just to save face with the GOP or whether such concerns are legit.
Interestingly, both of these bills would have certainly been challenged in court, and indeed there are relevant pending court cases against similar legislation in other states already. The 24 hour detention thing on the immigration bill was almost certainly unconstitutional.
I’m a bit behind due to being out of town, so today I’ve got a jumbo version of odds and ends for you:
- The Chapel Hill St. parking deck downtown is once again undergoing a costly repair, only 5 years after its previous renovation to address structural defects. The expected bill this time is a cool $1.2M. The deck will initially be completely closed, but portions are expected to re-open in stages prior to the scheduled January completion date.
- The rain has taken its toll on ATT construction. Completion of the final phase (which will link downtown Durham all the way to Chatham county, via a bridge over I-40) has been pushed back to September and requires an extra $185,000 from the city.
- The Committee on the Affairs of Black People has backed Bell for re-election, which isn’t surprising but helps ensure his victory.
- The Parks and Rec department is facing some budgetary challenges. A new master plan is in the works, but in the near term don’t expect much to get done.
- Welcome back, NCCU students! Duke students will be back on August 20.
- Greenfire has sold 609 Foster St. to a group of developers headed by Tyler Huntington (of Tyler’s fame). Huntington and his partners plan to open a distillery / event space (think e.g. Fullsteam), making the already hot Foster / Greer area even hotter.
- In other Greenfire news, they sold the SouthBank building at 400 W. Main (across from 5 points) to Austin Lawrence Partners (the would-be developers of a skyscraper near the Suntrust building). The SouthBank building is an ugly concrete affair in the center of a surface parking lot, and all signs point to demolition / new construction on the site.
- People are stealing fire hydrant caps from Southpoint for some reason.
- Another fun sub-headline from the H-S: “Pet shop bitten by flea medicine thief.“
- Durham’s getting a biker bar. No, not that kind of biker bar, a bicycle bar. Yeah, pretty weird I guess, but cool maybe?
- Duke’s got phat stacks of cash.
- The second annual Escapist Expo gaming convention is returning to Durham on October 4-6. This year they’ve expanded to three venues around downtown. Twenty bucks gets you in.
- From the same H-S article, a note that Forbes has rated Durham as the tenth best place for business and careers. Raleigh is kicking our ass at #3, but at least our photo is cooler.
- Some shenanigans seem to have caused the state to switch the location of a DHHS office at the last minute to favor a site in Cary rather than a site in Durham. The move will cost the state an extra $1.3M, raising concerns that it’s being done to reward political allies at the expense of taxpayers.
- The H-S reports on National Night Out.
- The Historic Preservation Commission gave the OK to Duke’s renovation of the Power building in West Village, as well as a condo at Church and Main.
- Don’t tase me, bro! Well, I guess it’s OK, as long as you’re “helping.”
- The World Beer Festival will be held at the DAP (the old DAP, not the DPAB) on October 5.
- Protip: when studying for the driving test, “don’t drive into house” should be pretty high on your list. The driver failed the test this time, but he can try again next week (hopefully he’ll use the extra time to practice not wrecking).
Phew. Maybe I shouldn’t go on vacation again for a while, eh?