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This weekend: Going “Deeper into Democracy” in NC elections

Electoral maps. Court decisions. Economic insecurity. Misinformation and disinformation.

With the midterm elections looming, North Carolina voters have a lot to think about.

This weekend in Greensboro, Policy Watch’s Lynn Bonner and political scientist Chris Cooper will parse those issues in a wide-ranging public conversation.

The free event, Deeper into Democracy: Voting & Elections in NC Today, will be held at the Greensboro History Museum Sunday, October 2 at 3 p.m.

Cooper, a Political Science professor and director of the Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University, is editor and co-author of The New Politics of North Carolina and The Resilience of Southern Identity: Why the South Still Matters in the Minds of Its People. He’s also a regular contributor to the popular Old North State Politics blog.

Bonner is an award-winning veteran political reporter who spent 26 years at The News & Observer before joining Policy Watch in 2020. In her recent work, she has extensively examined election issues from political disinformation and electoral maps  to the fight over voter ID.

The Deeper into Democracy series supports NC Democracy: Eleven Elections, an exhibit exploring choices and change across 11 state elections between 1776 and 2010. The exhibit illustrates the who could participate in N.C. elections, how voters cast their ballots, and what influenced decisions that continue to shape what democracy means today.

More info on Sunday’s event can be found here.

More on the NC Democracy: Eleven Elections exhibit here.

NC Sheriffs’ Association joins NAACP in reacting to Columbus County sheriff’s racist rants

Sheriff Jody Greene – Photo: Columbus County Sheriff’s office

In an instance of unusual allies, both the North Carolina NAACP and the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association issued statements yesterday responding negatively to the racist rants of Columbus County sheriff, Jody Greene.

The statements were in response to to a Wednesday report by Wilmington’s WECT-TV that detailed several disturbing developments in what has been an ongoing saga involving Greene.

The report explains that Greene uttered multiple racist and hate-filled statements in the aftermath of a closely contested 2018 election in which his residency in the county — a requirement under state law — was questioned. Among other things, recorded statements made by Greene indicated that he intended to fire all Black members of his department because of his conclusion that they had been opposed to his candidacy and been supportive of his election opponent Lewis Hatcher, the former sheriff whom Greene had narrowly defeated in the election, and Melvin Campbell, a recently-fired sergeant. Both Hatcher and Campell are Black.

This is from the report:

“Tomorrow’s gonna be a new f**king day. I’m still the motherf**king sheriff, and I’ll go up and fire every godd**n [inaudible]. F**k them Black bastards. They think I’m scared? They’re stupid,” Greene said. “I don’t know what else to do it. So it’s just time to clean them out. There’s a snitch in there somewhere tellin’ what we are doing. And I’m not gonna have it. I’m not going to have it.”

In the recording, Greene can be heard saying he’s going to start firing people who are “guilty by f**king association” with Campbell and Hatcher.

“We’ll cut the snake’s head f**king off. Period. And Melvin Campbell is as big a snake as Lewis Hatcher ever dared to be. Every Black that I know, you need to fire him to start with, he’s a snake,” Greene says before ending the phone call.

In response to the report, the NAACP issued a formal call for Greene’s immediate resignation. Here’s an excerpt:

Sheriff Jody Greene must resign. His language is divisive, nasty, and offensive — his words are disparaging and hurtful to people of color. His actions have cast a cloud over his ability to execute the office with impartiality.

Columbus County, and in particular its Black residents, deserve better. We deserve accountability. To restore dignity and confidence in the office of the Columbus County Sheriff, we demand a thorough investigation of all activities conducted by this office since the beginning of Sheriff Greene’s tenure, by all relevant authorities — including the State Board of Investigation and the federal government.

Meanwhile, late yesterday, the Sheriffs’ Association issued a statement indicating Greene had resigned from the group in response to its stated intention to hold a hearing on possibly expelling from the organization:

Therefore, the Association’s Executive Committee (governing board) voted unanimously to hold a hearing to determine, pursuant to the Association’s Constitution and Bylaws, an “appropriate resolution for the matter,” up to and including expulsion of Sheriff Greene from membership in the Association.

The Executive Committee provided Sheriff Greene due notice of the hearing and the opportunity to be heard, likely to be held tomorrow, Friday, September 30 at a time selected by the Executive Committee.

Upon being notified this afternoon of the Executive Committee’s decision to schedule a hearing, Sheriff Greene resigned his membership in the Association to avoid causing any controversy for the Association

Policy Watch will continue to update this story as events warrant.

‘Abortion absolutely is healthcare’: U.S. House panel told as GOP pursues nationwide ban

Kelsey Leigh, a Pittsburgh woman who had an abortion at 20 weeks and who now works with people seeking abortion care, addresses the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform during a hearing on Thursday, 9/29/22 (Screen Capture).

NC’s Virginia Foxx likens support for abortion rights to policies in China and North Korea

A nationwide abortion ban would widen disparities in healthcare and drive up the maternal mortality rate, particularly among Black women, physicians and advocates told a U.S. House panel on Thursday.

“Women’s progress has always been inextricably linked with the ability to control our own bodies,” Jocelyn Frye, the president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, told members of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform during a three-hour-plus hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building.

“Access to abortion has been pivotal to women and all those who give birth,” Frye continued. “Research shows that restricting abortion impacts the health, safety, and welfare of people who are pregnant.”

Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced a bill that would ban abortion nationwide at 15 weeks, superseding state-level restrictions, and further roiling the debate over abortion access in the wake of a June U.S. Supreme Court decision toppling Roe v. Wade.

Graham’s bill came even as Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have been moving to impose strict abortion bans, forcing pregnant people to flee across state lines to seek care. Some of Graham’s fellow Republicans have distanced themselves from the proposal.

“How do abortion bans disproportionately impact communities of color that are often left behind?” U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, asked Frye.

“What we really want is the ability for every person, especially Black and brown people, and people of color, to have the access to the healthcare they need,” Frye responded. “Abortion bans take the decisions out of their hands. It makes them rely on systems that have perpetuated disparities for decades.”

‘Who are you going to be?’

One witness told lawmakers they face a binary choice on abortion rights.

“Who are you going to be?” Kelsey Leigh, a Pittsburgh resident, asked the panel. “Will you sit in judgment of people who are pregnant without knowing them or their circumstances? Or will you listen … and be the compassion our country so desperately needs right now?” Read more

As North Carolina braces for Ian, governor warns of storm’s unpredictable nature (w/ video)

As Florida begins the task of cleaning up the destruction left in Hurricane Ian’s wake, Governor Roy Cooper is reminding North Carolinians to expect heavy rains, wind gusts between 40 to 50 mph for Friday and possible power outages.

“Landslides are a threat in our mountains and there’s a chance of tornadoes statewide. Coastal flooding and gusty winds are likely as the storm passes through. This storm is still dangerous,” Cooper warned during a Thursday press conference.

State emergency management officials believe the greatest threat for flash flooding is along the NC/SC border and in portions of the southern mountains. Officials warn that heavy rain could create the potential for landslides and river flooding in Western North Carolina.

NC Department of Transportation Sec. Eric Boyette said his agency has spent the week getting ready for whatever Ian leaves behind.

“We have about 1,500 chainsaws, 11,000 barricades and emergency signs and ample fuel to respond,” Boyette said. “We also have specialized equipment ready to clear debris and about 1,400 trucks, 400 backhoes and loaders and 200 motor graders to respond.”

Road construction projects across the state are expected to pause on Friday due to severe weather conditions.

“We want to make sure everyone stays off the roads in the storm affected areas. Please don’t drive through roads with standing water,” advised Boyette. “And never drive around barricades. The barricades are there to protect you.”

Once the storm has passed, officials will assess what repair work is needed across the state and what assets can be sent to aid in Florida’s recovery.

The latest NC Emergency Management forecast can be found at https://www.readync.gov/weather.

Click below to hear Gov. Roy Cooper discuss how to prepare for Ian:

 

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