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Sen. Phil Berger

Sen. Phil Berger

Senate Leader Phil Berger and a majority of the Senate GOP caucus on Friday sent a letter to the director of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts asking his office revise its recent memo spelling out that magistrates must treat same- sex marriages for which a marriage license has been issued the same way that marriages between a man and a woman are treated.

The AOC’s October 14th memo made it clear magistrates could be suspended or fined for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. Here’s an excerpt from that memorandum:

AOC memo

 

 

 

 

The GOP leadership now wants court officials advised that they can side-step the federal court rulings based on religious objections.

Berger has also pledged to introduce next session a bill that would let officials refuse to marry gay couples.

Here’s the body of the letter sent Friday by Senate President Berger and 27 other Republican state senators: Read More

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More news from the campaign trail: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins Sen. Kay Hagan in Charlotte on Saturday at an early voting event. Next week brings former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to North Carolina stumping for House Speaker Thom Tillis.  Then there’s word of the American Future Fund, a political group backed by the Koch bothers, spending $225,000 this week to steer votes to Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh.

Will the high-profile endorsements or the flurry of new ads for the third-party candidate sway voters in the final days of North Carolina’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race?

Tom Jensen with Public Policy Polling joins NC Policy Watch’s News & Views this weekend to discuss what could be the most expensive Senate race in our history and what trends he’s seeing for the legislative races down ballot.

For a preview of Jensen’s radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, click below:

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Hagan TillisNorth Carolina’s U.S. Senate race has earned a new distinction: The race has aired the greatest number of negative commercials of any contest in the country. The non-partisan Center for Public Integrity has been tracking advertising nationwide and reports that we have officially become this year’s “great state of political hate.”

Here’s more from the Center’s senior reporter Dave Levinthal:

Tar Heels last week endured more than 10,800 U.S. Senate election-focused TV ads that featured at least some content that tarred and feathered either incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan or Republican challenger Thom Tillis.

That’s more than one negative TV ad every minute from Tuesday, Oct. 14 to Monday, Oct. 20, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of preliminary data from Kantar Media/CMAG, an ad tracking firm.

No other U.S. Senate race — even the bitter contests in Kentucky, Iowa and Georgia — has experienced such sustained vitriol during the 2014 election cycle.

To view the ongoing Center for Public Integrity’s analysis of who is buying the ads, click here.

 

Commentary

UNCLogoThe leading editorials in several North Carolina newspapers today weigh in on the academic scandal that rocked UNC-Chapel Hill this week and where the state’s flagship university goes from here.

The Wilmington Star News writes:

It was even worse than it appeared. The academic scandal that rocked the Tar Heel State’s flagship university went unchecked by a lot of people who could have taken steps to stop it, but chose to look the other way. It is not just an embarrassment, but an atrocity.

And the Asheville Citizen-Times:

The report detailed how the shadow program ran for so many years and how many red flags were missed or ignored by faculty and administration officials. The report is a black mark on a fine institution, and as more details emerge and more blanks are filled in, it’s a report that holds the danger of redefining the institution in the public’s mind.

From the Daily Tar Heel:

If we learned anything from Kenneth Wainstein’s exhaustive report, it’s that leaders on campus must face stricter scrutiny. The true test, then, will be whether the chancellor can follow through on her promises to ensure every faculty and staff member is reviewed annually.

And finally, the Winston-Salem Journal gets to the heart of matter:

…make no mistake: the pursuit of football and basketball victories and the dollars they bring in were the catalysts for this scourge. Some of those most closely involved are no longer at the university. And the handful of employees the university has fired or placed under disciplinary review in the wake of the report were part of a larger, win-at-all-costs culture that, at the least, tacitly encouraged their wrongdoing.

The school now must bear down on this problem as more NCAA penalties loom. As ominous as that might be to the money-counters, it should not matter. The school must finally realize that academics are its first and most important mission, along with its integrity, to which serous academics should be inherently tied.

Some UNC backers would gripe at losing ground in sports. They would note that their school is not alone, that it’s only a matter of time before another big-name school is busted for similar problems. They’d be right. But it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a school that still means a great deal to a lot of people, must find its way back to a place of honor. We want to once again see the school at its best, not at its worst.

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Hours after UNC-Chapel Hill released details of an independent investigation into academic fraud at the school, Governor Pat McCrory issued the following statement:

unc-chapel-hill-logo“The finding of academic fraud is a disturbing reminder of what can happen, even at our flagship university, when we misplace priorities and have a lack of oversight. It is imperative that we ensure there is accountability at all of our universities to make sure we are upholding a culture in which students, parents and taxpayers are getting a return on our most important investment: education.

I’m again reminded of the words of former UNC system president Dr. William Friday, ‘People do not want their lifetime measured by how much their football team won or lost. There is something valuable they want measured on their intellectual tombstone when the time comes, and it will come.’ Dr. Friday words still ring true today.

I look forward to working with Chancellor Folt and all the chancellors to maintain North Carolina’s devotion to excellence in higher education.”

To read the full 136-page report on the scandal by Kenneth Wainstein, a former top U.S. Justice Department official, click here.