COAL ASH SPILL
More than two weeks after a massive leak of coal ash from a Duke Energy power plant poured into a river along the North Carolina-Virginia border, the full extent of damage to the environment is still unfolding. On Tuesday, state regulators said a second stormwater pipe at the company’s plant is spilling elevated levels of arsenic into the Dan River. And federal officials issued their first assessment of the disaster, raising the specter of long-term harm to aquatic life, reaching as far as Kerr Lake.
North Carolina citizens have good reason to wonder just whom their environmental regulators are trying to protect. The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has engaged in a series of maneuvers that seem designed to protect the state’s largest utility, Duke Energy, from paying big fines for water pollution from coal ash ponds and meeting reasonable requirements that it move toxic coal ash to lined landfills away from rivers and lakes used for drinking water and recreation.
U.S. SENATE RACE
U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon owes two investors in his failed startup company more than $250,000 after a jury found Tuesday that he provided them bogus information about a potential deal. The political cost remains unknown.
Raleigh, N.C. — The road to the Republican U.S. Senate nomination got rockier for Dr. Greg Brannon Tuesday when a Wake County jury found himliable for misleading investors in a civil securities fraud case. Although not a criminal verdict, Brannon was found responsible for repaying two investors – one a medical school classmate and the other the husband of a patient in his obstetrics practice – the $250,000 plus interest they lost in a technology start-up. Brannon served on the company’s board and actively recruited the two men to invest.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis Tuesday dismissed critics who say he’s ducking debates and said he’s “chomping at the bit” to tout his legislative record. The N.C. House speaker said he’s been tied up raising money for a campaign that has national implications.
It’s 995 days before the 2016 election and at this point the governor’s race is a toss-up. In a February survey, Public Policy Polling tested a (super early) hypothetical match-up between incumbent Republican Pat McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. McCrory holds a narrow 43 to 41 percent lead that is within the plus-or-minus 3.7 percent margin of error.
Pollster Tom Jensen’s spin: If Cooper secures the nomination, independents stand to be a battleground: McCrory and Cooper split the group 36-36.
CHARLOTTE: MAYOR CANNON
Drew Swope, the cook who was fired from his job at Reid’s Fine Foods after a Sunday confrontation with Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, said he has had a handful of job offers, including help from Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon. Cannon, a Democrat, said he talked to Swope on Tuesday to see whether he could help him find a new job in the private sector.
With former Democratic state senator Julia Boseman’s decision to bow out of the race for state Sen. Thom Goolsby’s 9th District seat, it becomes more likely that Democrats will rally around one candidate – former New Hanover County school board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh – and avoid a bloody primary.
“Watching what has happened to public education in North Carolina is like watching a tragedy unfold, act by act.” Hard hitting words from historian and public education advocate Diane Ravitch, who addressed hundreds of educators, policy makers and advocates today at the 2014 Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The hunt for the uninsured in Broward County got underway one recent afternoon when 41 canvassers, armed with electronic maps on Samsung tablets, set off through working-class neighborhoods to peddle the Affordable Care Act door to door. Four hours later, they had made contact with 2,623 residents and signed up exactly 25 people.
GREENSBORO — The city will work with Self-Help Venture Fund to redevelop the Renaissance Shopping Plaza, council members decided Tuesday night. Residents burst into applause after the City Council unanimously agreed to enter negotiations with the nonprofit. The city will sell the plaza to Self-Help, which plans to renovate the center and lease it to businesses with $2 million from the city.
NAACP ‘MORAL MONDAY’
Several hundred people attended the rally, which was held nine days after thousands participated in a "Moral March" in Raleigh. People in the crowd held signs that said, "Justice for All," "Organize to Boost Voter Turnout" and "Voting Rights Now.”"We are now back on the road," Barber said. "Fayetteville is the first stop, and this train isn’t going to stop anytime soon."
The recent events were a continuation of protests last year against actions of the Republican controlled General Assembly and Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
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