News

The UNC Board of Governors hopes to have a new president announced this September.

Joan MacNeill, the chairwoman of the presidential search committee acknowledged in a meeting Monday that keeping to the timeline would be tough.

The board needs to select a head-hunting firm to conduct the search, hold public forums around the state for input about the skills and qualities the next leader of the UNC system should have and then weed through what are expected to be a substantial number of applicants.

“I acknowledge that this is ambitious,” said MacNeill. “It may not work, but we’re going to try for it.”

The presidential search committee met Monday on the campus of N.C. A&T, in Greensboro. Committee members discussed the timeline, and heard an overview about the executive search industry from Al McAulay, a Charlotte-based recruiter.

McAulay is a personal friend of John Fennebresque, the chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, and was not paid for his presentation.

McAuley said the board will have a choice between going with large executive search firms or smaller operations. They should also expect to pay whatever firm they select about a third of the new president’s new salary, as well as any direct costs incurred by the firm during the search firm.

The board of governors hopes to reach out to several search firms in coming days to request bids on conducting the presidential search.

At Monday’s meeting, board members expressed interest in looking for candidates outside of academics, starting by looking at search firms who aren’t primarily focused on finding academic leaders.

“We should see what some of the outsiders say as well,” said Frank Grainger, a member of the UNC Board of Governors.

The need for a new leader of the 17-campus system came after the UNC Board of Governors pushed out its current president, Tom Ross, in January.

Ross, a former Davidson College president and judge, will stay on the job through at least January 2016. Reasons for Ross’ ouster haven’t been fully explained by the legislatively-appointed board, though public speculation has rested on political motives.

Ross was hired in 2010, when the board consisted of appointees of what was then a Democrat-led state legislature. The current board is now made up entirely of appointees selected by a legislature in Republican control.

Commentary

Governor Pat McCrory again questioned the need for the misnamed Religious Freedom Restoration Act Monday, but as the Charlotte Observer’s Jim Morrill reports, he once again refused to promise to veto the bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation.

“I’m not even sure it will get to my desk, so why comment?” the governor said after an appearance at UNC Charlotte. “I need the process to work to see if it will even get to my desk.”

But McCrory has commented plenty of times before about pending legislation and specifically threatened a veto. Last session for example, he threatened to veto an early version of a bill restricting access to abortion services.

He threatened to veto a charter school bill that wouldn’t require school salaries to be disclosed and he threatened to veto the budget last summer if some of the cuts to education and human services were included in the final budget agreement.

Threatening to use his veto is not new to McCrory.

The question is why he won’t make that same pledge now to protect LGBT North Carolinians from discrimination?

Commentary, Justice Denied for McCollum and Brown
Henry McCollum listening to evidence of his innocence. Photo by Jenny Warburg / Courtesy of North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Henry McCollum listening to evidence of his innocence. Photo by Jenny Warburg / Courtesy of North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

It has now been 221 days since Governor Pat McCrory received a formal request for a pardon from Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, two Robeson County men who both spent 31 years in prison for a rape and murder they did not commit.

McCollum and Brown, both mentally disabled, were freed September 4 of last year after the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission found DNA evidence that proved another man had committed the crimes.

Governor Pat McCrory issued a press release the same day, saying he was “heartened to see the convictions of Henry McCollum and Leon Brown vacated by the court” and that he would begin reviewing their applications for pardons of innocence as soon as they were received.

McCrory’s office received the applications 221 days ago and nothing has happened. The News & Observer reported two months ago that McCollum and Brown were unable to pay their bills and were relying on donations from friends and supporters to survive. At one point their water was turned off because they couldn’t afford to pay for it.

They are entitled under state law to $50,000 for every year they were wrongly incarcerated up to a maximum of $750,000 but they can’t get it until they receive a formal pardon of innocence from McCrory, who has yet to grant it or say anything publicly about the case.

The state of North Carolina robbed McCollum and Brown of 31 years of their lives. Now the governor is denying them justice again, preventing them from receiving the restitution to which they are entitled.

It is simply a disgrace.

NC Policy Watch plans to remind Gov. McCrory of this gross miscarriage of justice every day until he does the right thing and grants the pardon the two men deserved 221 days ago.

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News

Individuals and groups challenging North Carolina’s 2011 redistricting plan wasted little time today getting their case back before the state Supreme Court, filing papers a short while ago asking for an expedited hearing and decision in time for elections in 2016.

That request followed on the heels of this morning’s U.S. Supreme Court order vacating the state court’s December 2014 decision upholding the plan and calling for a new hearing in light of the high court’s late March decision in a similar Alabama case.

In today’s filing, the plan’s challengers pointed out five ways in which the state Supreme Court decision erred, given the analysis called for by the justices in the Alabama case:

First, the United States Supreme Court’s Alabama decision establishes that the trial court here correctly concluded that race was the dominant factor used to draw the challenged Senate, House, and Congressional Districts. Indeed, under the Supreme Court’s decision, there is no reasonable basis to conclude that race was not the predominant factor used by the North Carolina General Assembly in drawing the challenged districts.

Second, the decision establishes that North Carolina’s Section 5 justification for its race-based actions is invalid, unfounded, and unsupported by the text of Section 5.

Third, the decision establishes that even if North Carolina had a compelling Section 5 justification for its race-based actions, it failed to narrowly tailor the challenged districts to conform to any such justification.

Fourth, the decision and the remand in these cases strongly suggest that North Carolina’s Section 2 justification for its race-based actions is also invalid and unfounded and unsupported by the text of Section 2.

Fifth, the decision and the remand strongly suggest that even if North Carolina had a compelling Section 2 justification for its race-based actions, it failed to narrowly tailor the challenged districts to conform to any such justification.

They are asking the court to set a schedule that envisions an initial determination whether the case has to go back to the three-judge trial panel for additional findings and then further briefing if necessary at the Supreme Court to be completed by the end of June, with argument to follow as soon as possible thereafter.

To that end, it’s worth noting that the state’s highest court has already scheduled an unusual late June argument day to hear an expedited appeal of the Governor’s lawsuit against the legislative leaders concerning commission appointments.

Click here to read the challenger’s motion in full.

NC Budget and Tax Center

The ongoing, raging debate at the federal level regarding tax changes highlights the contrast between the proposals being put forward by President Obama and Congress for developing a budget and supporting the economy. The President would like to provide tax cuts to middle-income taxpayers – by enhancing the Child Care Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, for example. Congress, by contrast, would like to repeal the federal estate tax, for example, which would benefit the wealthy.

The estate tax is essentially a tax on very large inheritances by a small group of wealthy heirs. An estate must have a value of $5.4 million (after related debt is accounted for) before the estate tax applies. Only the estates of the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans – roughly 2 out of every 1,000 people who die – owe any estate tax.

A repeal of the estate tax amounts to a massive windfall for those heirs. Proponents often claim that the estate tax hurts small farmers and businesses by forcing people to sell their family farm or business. In North Carolina we have heard this claim despite no evidence presented to support the claim. Still, proponents have continued to make the claim over the years, as Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research notes. In the early 2000s, the American Farm Bureau Federation, a leading advocate for repealing the estate tax, could not cite a single example of a farm lost because of estate taxes.

North Carolina state lawmakers latched onto this false claim back in 2013 to repeal the state’s estate tax. Read More