News

Lawmakers release proposed Senate legislative map

 

The new proposed Senate legislative map is now live.

The map, which was redrawn to correct unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, was released Sunday night. The proposed House legislative map was released Saturday afternoon.

Lawmakers were allowed to consider election data to redraw both the maps, but not racial data, according to criteria passed (mostly along party lines) a little over a week ago.

The information actually considered when drawing both maps won’t be released until at least Monday, according to Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), who is a co-chair of the House and Senate redistricting committees.

There are four incumbent Senators double-bunked in the proposed map, which means that they would be forced to run against each other in an election. One of them, however, announced Sunday that he would not be running for re-election, Rep. Chad Barefoot (R-Franklin, Wake).

Barefoot was double-bunked with Sen. John Alexander Jr., another Republican, in Wake County District 18.

Democratic Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram is double-bunked with Republican Sen. Bill Cook in District 3, which includes Northampton and Beaufort counties.

Republican Sen. Joyce Krawiec appears in the map to be double-bunked in District 31, which includes Forsyth and Davie counties, with Republican Sen. Andrew Brock, but he resigned at the end of June.

And finally, two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Deanna Ballard and Sen. Shirley Randleman, are double-bunked in District 45, which includes Watauga and Wilkes counties.

There are at least four vacant seats in the proposed Senate map — District 1, which includes Dare and Pasquotank counties; District 33, Stanly and Rowan counties; District 34, Iredell and Yadkin counties; and District 16, Wake County.

Both the Senate and House proposed maps have to be submitted to a three-judge panel by Sept. 1 for approval. The maps could also change after a series of public hearings planned for 4 p.m. Tuesday across the state.

 

 

News

Redistricting committee releases proposed House legislative map without data used to draw districts

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) tweeted out the new proposed House legislative map Saturday afternoon.

Lawmakers passed criteria to use when drawing the maps a little over a week ago, but the data actually used in the process won’t be released until Monday, Lewis said.

The House is scheduled to vote on the map Friday and both legislative maps — which are required to be redrawn to correct unconstitutional racial gerrymanders — are due to be submitted for approval to a three-judge panel Sept. 1.

According to criteria passed a little over a week ago by the joint House and Senate redistricting committees, racial data was not considered in the redrawing process but political data was.

One of the criteria passed (along party lines, with Republican majority) included making reasonable considerations not to double-bunk any incumbent legislators, a process in which two incumbents are forced to run against each other in an election. For the most part, the proposed map appears to accomplish that with a few exceptions.

In Greensboro, Representatives John Faircloth and Jon Hardister — both Republicans — are drawn into District 61 with a vacant adjacent seat in District 59. Similarly, two Republicans are double-bunked in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties, Representatives Carl Ford and Larry Pittman.

Democrat and Republican incumbents are double-bunked in Wilson County — Democratic Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield and Republican Rep. Susan Martin — and in Lee County — Democratic Rep. Robert Reives II and Republican John Sauls.

There is an adjacent seat to Lee County without an incumbent in Chatham County. Reives wrote on Twitter that he would continue to serve the people of Chatham County if the current House map was approved.

Notable voting rights groups and the Democratic Party criticized Republicans on Saturday for releasing the maps without more details.

“Colors on the map are pretty, but you really can’t tell much of anything about how fair the district lines are without the data,” said Bob Hall, Executive Director of Democracy NC.

Common Cause NC Executive Director Bob Phillips released a statement that the organization continues to be deeply concerned about “the partisanship and lack of transparency in this latest round of redistricting.”

“Legislative leaders have released only partial information on the new House map, and are still yet to release the new Senate map, even though we are just 72 hours away from a public hearing on the new districts,” Phillips wrote. “This falls short of giving citizens sufficient time and information to study the new districts and how the maps will impact their communities.”

He added that the latest round of redistricting appears largely as flawed as redistricting in the past, driven by partisanship.

Similarly, Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds released a statement accusing Republican leaders of continuing to show more concern over supermajorities than fairly representing the state.

“We’ll wait to see more details before examining individual districts, but we continue to be concerned by Republicans’ insistence on using the same dark arts gerrymandering expert who drew the previous unconstitutional maps, and their refusal to conduct this process in a transparent and bipartisan fashion,” she said.

There are seven public hearings set up across the state scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and Lewis indicated the maps (the proposed Senate map has not yet been proposed) could change based on that input. You can read more about where to attend the hearings here.

Environment

Comment period ends Aug. 19 on state’s water permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline; plus a look at who’s in the blast zone

Vibrina Coronado, a member of the Lumbee Tribe: “The route of the ACP is through native nations. Rural, native, low-income people shouldn’t be disproportionately affected.” Thirteen percent of the population affected by the ACP is American Indian, even though they compose only 1.2 percent of the population statewide. (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

The NC Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comment until Aug. 19 at 5 p.m. on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s application for a water quality certification and buffer authorization. This is known as a 401 certification.

Submit comments by email with “ACP” in the subject line: PublicComments@ncdenr.gov

O n three of the four corners of Whistling Rufus and Philadelphus roads on the outskirts of Pembroke sit a smattering of homes of varying ages and conditions. On the northwest corner, a stark, modest two-story with a child’s slide in the back yard; to the northeast, a one-story ranch where the crape myrtles are blooming in brilliant hues of magenta and pink; and to the southwest, a mishmash of buildings, including a mobile home with foil covering its front windows to block out the morning sun.

All of these houses share at least one commonality: They lie within the blast zone of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, where people would likely be injured or die in the event of a natural gas explosion.

Clean Water for North Carolina issued a report this week with maps showing the most vulnerable areas in seven of the eight counties along the 160-mile portion of the route in eastern North Carolina. Meanwhile, BREDL (Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League) sent a letter to the state fire association detailing the causes of the 1,329 pipeline accidents over the past 20 years — including corrosion and welding failures — and the resulting risk to both rural North Carolina and first responders.

 

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the ACP identified 24 High Consequence Areas in North Carolina. Of the eight counties along the route, all but Sampson have at least one of these areas: they have at least 20 occupied buildings or “vulnerable populations” — daycare centers, retirement homes.

In addition to these High Consequence Areas, ACP contractors, hired by Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, calculated a Blast Zone of 660 feet, based on the pipeline’s 36-inch diameter and the pressure per square inch. But Oshin Paranjape, who is pursuing her master’s degree at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, reviewed the contractors’ technical documents on behalf of Clean Water for North Carolina. Based on that data, Paranjape calculated the Blast Zone is 943 feet — about a third larger than ACP contractors figured. The evacuation zone is 3,071 feet, more than a half-mile from the radius.

That means at the corner of Whistling Rufus and Philadelphus roads, the home with the child’s slide and the ranch with the crape myrtles are within the blast zone, as are many houses to the north. The mobile home with the foil covering the windows, the Green Pine Free Will Baptist Church and buildings to the south lie within the evacuation zone, assuming the wind is blowing away from it.

 

In red, the blast zone near Whistling Rufus and Philadelphus roads in Robeson County located at the intersection near the middle of the image. The yellow lines signify the pipeline route and survey area. The light pink designates the evacuation zone. Clean Water for North Carolina’s report contains maps of all blast and evacuation zones associated with the ACP’s route in the state. (Image: Clean Water for North Carolina)

 

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News

Durham DA: I will seek “a just resolution” in Confederate monument cases

Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols

Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols made a public statement Thursday on the cases of 8 activists so far charged in the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham on Monday.

Echols took no questions after the statement, saying to do so would be a violation of the rules of professional conduct.

His statement in full:

“I am waiting to receive the full investigation material from the Durham County Sheriff’s department, including the video used to identify those charged.

I will not prosecute any people who simply participated in the protest and were not directly involved in destruction of the monument. I will ask the county manager to consult with the county commissioners and provide me with a proper financial value for the monument and the cost of cleanup.

As District Attorney for Durham, it is my job to seek a just resolution in this matter. A just resolution will include an analysis of the property damage. A just resolution must also include balancing accountability for the actual destruction of property and violation of the law with the climate in which these actions were undertaken. Justice requires that I must take into account the pain of the recent events in Charlottesville and the pain in Durham and the nation. Justice requires that I consider that Durham citizens have no proper recourse for asking our local government to relocate or remove this monument. Justice also requires that I be aware that asking people to be patient and to let various government institutions address injustice is sometimes asking more than those who have been historically ignored, marginalized or harmed by a system cane bare.

Thank you for your attention and for your support of Durham and our vibrant community.”

Four activists were arrested earlier this week: Takiyah Fatima Thompson, 22; Dante Emmanuel Strobino, 35; Peter Hull Gilbert, 36; and Ngoc Loan Tran, 24.

Thompson, who climbed the statue and affixed a rope to help pull it down, was arrested on Tuesday. The arrests of Strobino, Tran and Gilbert all followed on Wednesday.

On Thursday another four turned themselves in to the Durham Sheriff’s Department. They are Aaron Caldwell, 24;  Elena Everett, 37; Taylor Alexander Jun Cook, 24 and Raul Mauro Arce Jimenez, 26.

All eight activists have been charged with disorderly conduct by injury to a statue and damage to real property. Those are both which are both misdemeanors. They are also charged with participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot where property damage exceeds $1,500, both of which are felonies.

A rally was held Thursday at which supporters of those arrested called for the dropping of charges. Dozens also offered to be arrested to symbolically share responsibility for the toppling of the monument, but the Sheriff’s department declined to arrest anyone without an active warrant.

 

News

Justin Burr files campaign finance report 16 days late

Rep. Justin Burr

Rep. Justin Burr

Rep. Justin Burr (R-Montgomery, Stanly) filed his mid-year semi annual campaign finance report 16 days late.

It was first reported last week that the five-term Republican legislator had yet to file the report, which was due July 31. He filed it Wednesday without any receipts.

Burr did not return an email asking why it took so long to file the report. He did not receive any contributions from the beginning of the year through the end of June, according to the report. His campaign spent $6,330.45 during the same time period.

Expenses included $500 per month for rent for an apartment, a $1,024.90 hotel expense in Arlington, Va. for President Donald Trump’s inauguration and two different photography expenses totaling $845.

Burr’s campaign donated $70 to the North Carolina Republican Party and $100 to the North Carolina Committee to Elect Republican Women.

Other expenses include communication costs, district phone bills and other random “operating expenses.”

At the end of the reporting period, Burr’s campaign reported $1,315.24 in “cash on hand.” You can read the report here.

The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement can fine Burr up to $50 per day for each day his report was not filed, but the fine cannot exceed $500. Burr was already assessed a fine earlier this year for being late filing a report.

His fourth quarter 2016 campaign finance report was due Jan. 11 and not filed until Jan. 17. He was assessed a $150 penalty which the Board waived “for good cause.”