State News – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com Experience the World of Chatham County, NC Thu, 11 Jan 2018 22:25:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i1.wp.com/chathamjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/10888465-four-newspaper-pile-isolated-on-white-background-Stock-Vector-newspaper-icon-headline-5580d7a0v1_site_icon.png?fit=32%2C32 State News – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com 32 32 Experience the World of Chatham County, NC State News – Chatham Journal Newspaper Experience the World of Chatham County, NC State News – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://chathamjournal.com/category/news/state/ TV-G 63016882 Chatham EDC president Kyle Touchstone honored by Triangle Business Journal http://chathamjournal.com/2017/05/09/chatham-edc-president-touchstone-honored-triangle-business-journal/ Tue, 09 May 2017 20:59:44 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7664 Raleigh, NC – The Triangle Business Journal has selected Kyle Touchstone, president of Chatham Economic Development Corporation, as one of the winners of its “40 Under 40” Leadership Award. The award recognizes 40 of the most influential and highly accomplished…

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Raleigh, NC – The Triangle Business Journal has selected Kyle Touchstone, president of Chatham Economic Development Corporation, as one of the winners of its “40 Under 40” Leadership Award. The award recognizes 40 of the most influential and highly accomplished young leaders in the Triangle Region. They select winners based on their contributions to their organization and the community.

Touchstone joined the Chatham EDC as president in February 2016 and leads the organization’s implementation of a comprehensive economic development plan for Chatham County, which includes three program areas of business attraction, business retention and expansion, and entrepreneurship.

In May 2016, Touchstone successfully led efforts to recruit Mountaire Farms to Siler City, which represents an investment of $70 million and the creation of 700 new jobs. It will be the largest private employer in Chatham County once operational.

“Kyle stepped into a fast-paced economic environment and hit the ground running,” said Chris Ehrenfeld, who chairs the Chatham EDC Board of Directors. “He has done a great job of connecting with a vast network of people throughout Chatham County and the Research Triangle, which is required to be successful as an economic developer. He has earned respect throughout Chatham County.”

During Touchstone’s year in Chatham County, he has furthered the development of Chatham County’s two megasites, the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) Site and the Moncure Megasite. Both sites have been awarded infrastructure grants of $4 million through the Golden LEAF Foundation’s Major Site Development Initiative.

“This is well-deserved recognition,” said Chatham County Manager Renee Paschal. “Kyle works tirelessly on many different fronts. For example, he has recently been playing a key role in helping us defeat or revise proposed state legislation that would hurt economic development efforts in Chatham.”

Touchstone’s economic development career has included roles in Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida over the past 11 years. A graduate of Mississippi State University, Touchstone holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Communication. In 2011, he completed the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute certificate program.

Touchstone is active in several business and civic organizations, including the Siler City Rotary Club, Siler City Development Organization, Chatham Chamber of Commerce, Research Triangle Regional Partnership, North Carolina Economic Developers Association, Southern Economic Development Council and International Economic Development Council.

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NC Governor Roy Cooper visits Central Carolina Community College http://chathamjournal.com/2017/04/23/roy-cooper-visits-cccc/ Sun, 23 Apr 2017 19:36:41 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7624 Sanford, NC – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper visited Central Carolina Community College on Wednesday, April 12, to discuss his NC GROW scholarship for free community college that he proposed in his budget and how to prepare North Carolinians for…

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Sanford, NC – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper visited Central Carolina Community College on Wednesday, April 12, to discuss his NC GROW scholarship for free community college that he proposed in his budget and how to prepare North Carolinians for high-paying jobs. The governor’s visit is the latest in a series of visits to community colleges across the state that began earlier this year.

His stop at CCCC’s Lee Main Campus began at a roundtable discussion with college officials, faculty, and students before continuing with a tour of several career-based academic programs.

Cooper has promoted a proposal that would provide free community college tuition for students meeting certain academic criteria. While his NC GROW scholarship proposal came up in Sanford, other topics were also discussed.

The 20-minute roundtable, which included CCCC President Dr. T. Eston Marchant, touched on a wide range of topics — beginning with job training.

“The first question I get when I meet with corporate leaders is not, ‘What is your corporate tax rate?'” Cooper told the college officials. “The question I get is, ‘Do you have a skilled workforce?’ You are the key to that.

“Now, I want to hear from you.”

Topics included the need to enhance faculty recruitment and compensation to make community colleges more attractive to the best teachers. Bianka Stumpf, CCCC’s social sciences lead instructor, said that is a particular concern when much of the policy debates center on K-12 education and state universities.

“We’ve got to get the business community telling the legislators that we already have the tax cuts,” Cooper said. “Now we’ve got to invest in education.”

The governor also heard from two students — Carson Rosser in nursing and Nickolas Jorgenson in laser and photonics — about their college experiences.

Jorgenson said he was living in Arizona when he quit his job and sold his car to cross the country and study at CCCC, which offers the only laser and photonics program among North Carolina community colleges. Though he also holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, Jorgenson went in a new direction to take advantage of job prospects he described as “out of this world.”

After the 20-minute roundtable concluded, Cooper left for a brief campus tour, including college leaders and media. Along the way, he stopped for a robotic welding demonstration and a brief look at the college’s computer-integrated machining facility.

But it wasn’t all business.

While crossing campus, Cooper visited with some veterinary medical technology students outside with dogs. Cooper, who created an animal welfare hotline during his tenure as attorney general and maintains First Pets of North Carolina, a Facebook page for his own family’s pets, didn’t miss the opportunity.

After shaking hands with the VMT students and faculty/staff, he made a second pass down the line, holding each of the animals and pausing for photos.

That fact didn’t escape Marchant. “For those of you who were not on the tour, he shook hands with people in welding,” Marchant told a public gathering later. “He shook hands with the people in machining. But he hugged the puppy dogs.”

Though it was a quick visit, about an hour from start to finish, Cooper said he was impressed with what he saw in Sanford and that community colleges like CCCC were essential to how he wants to shape the state.

Cooper said that what he wants out of being governor is to make sure that North Carolina’s people are better educated, that they are healthier and that they have more money in their pockets.

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2017 Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride sells out early in Oriental http://chathamjournal.com/2017/04/23/2017-cycle-north-carolina-coastal-ride-sells-early-oriental/ Sun, 23 Apr 2017 05:28:14 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7610 Durham, NC – The 14th Annual Cycle North Carolina (CNC) Coastal Ride will kick-off Friday, April 28th, in Oriental, NC, after reaching its rider limit of 1,400 cyclists. This is the fourth year in a row that the event has…

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Durham, NC – The 14th Annual Cycle North Carolina (CNC) Coastal Ride will kick-off Friday, April 28th, in Oriental, NC, after reaching its rider limit of 1,400 cyclists. This is the fourth year in a row that the event has sold out, reaching capacity in record time, by the beginning of January. The 2017 participants represent thirty-two different states (AK, AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV), the District of Columbia and Canada. The CNC Coastal Ride was last hosted in Oriental in 2014, with 1,317 cyclists participating. Oriental also hosted the Coastal Ride in 2011 and 2008.

Cycle North Carolina Coastal RideIn all, this will be the fourth time Oriental has hosted the Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride. The fun-filled weekend will offer three days of cycling and feature some great Coastal Carolina food, music and historical sites. The CNC Coastal Ride will also include many off-the-bike recreational activities in the Oriental area. Canoeing, kayaking, bird watching, historic tours, wine tastings, local art displays and beautiful sunsets will fill time away from the bike and provide a taste of spring in Coastal North Carolina.

The Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride is a fully supported bicycle event with support vehicles available to aid cyclists who experience physical or mechanical breakdowns. Rest stops will be set up every 10-20 miles along each route for riders to get off their bikes and explore, while quenching their hunger and thirst. Indoor and outdoor camping areas with amenities will be provided at the Oriental Women’s Club, at Lou Mac Park and at the participating residential properties along the waterfront. Participants will also fill the hotels, Bed and Breakfast Inns and vacation homes in Oriental. Cycling routes will include attractions such as Minnesott Beach, Aurora Fossil Museum, Bayboro, Arlington Place, River Dunes Harbor Club, Joe Himbry Waterfront Park and Pine Cliff Recreation Area to name a few.

Evening entertainment will be provided both nights for participants in Oriental. Friday night is the Coastal Ride Bike Swap, allowing participants to buy and sell new and used bicycles and bicycle parts. Saturday night is the official CNC Coastal Ride Dinner where all participants can enjoy a free shimp, fish and chicken dinner, catch up with friends, and socialize with other cyclists. During the meal, cyclists can enjoy the music of Moore’s Creek Bluegrass band. After the meal, they can attend an Oriental Walking Ghost Tour beginning at Lou Mac Park. Dinner, music and beer will set the scene so cyclists can relax and unwind in Oriental’s historic downtown.

For a full schedule of events for the weekend, click on this link.

The Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride is presented by Visit North Carolina. Partner organizations of Cycle North Carolina include: Powerade, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Lowe’s Foods, the N.C. Department of Transportation and Cycling Spoken Here.

North Carolina Amateur Sports is a 501c(3) nonprofit charitable organization that annually organizes the Powerade State Games of North Carolina and Cycle North Carolina. NCAS is dedicated to the promotion of the spirit of amateur sports, physical fitness and health to all ages and skill levels through the participation in organized events which enrich the state of North Carolina. For more information on NCAS and its events, please access www.ncsports.org.

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Data shows Chatham County has more registered voters than eligible adult citizens http://chathamjournal.com/2017/04/13/chatham-county-has-more-registered-voters-than-eligible-adult-citizens/ Thu, 13 Apr 2017 14:36:42 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7569 Washington, DC – On Tuesday, April 11, Judicial Watch announced it has sent notice-of-violation letters threatening to sue 11 states having counties in which the number of registered voters exceeds the number of voting-age citizens, as calculated by the U.S.…

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Washington, DC – On Tuesday, April 11, Judicial Watch announced it has sent notice-of-violation letters threatening to sue 11 states having counties in which the number of registered voters exceeds the number of voting-age citizens, as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011-2015 American Community Survey. According to the letters, this is “strong circumstantial evidence that these … counties are not conducting reasonable voter registration record maintenance as mandated under the [National Voter Registration Act] NVRA.”  Both the NVRA and the federal Help America Vote Act require states to take reasonable steps to maintain accurate voting rolls.

The 11 states are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.  The states have 90 days after receiving the letters to address the problem and provide Judicial Watch documentation showing that they have conducted a “statewide effort to conduct a program that reasonably ensures the lists of eligible voters are accurate.” Judicial Watch informed the states that should they fail to take action to correct violations of Section 8 of the NVRA, it would file suit.

Locally, Judicial Watch found that Chatham County in North Carolina has more registered voters than eligible adult citizens.

Fifteen North Carolina counties have more total registered voters than citizen voting age population

Based on a Judicial Watch review of 2014 Election Assistance Commission (EAC) data, the 2011-2015 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and the November 2014 and November 2016 North Carolina total voter registration records, North Carolina is failing to comply with the voter registration list maintenance requirements of section 8 of the NVRA. For example of the five-year American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the 2014 EAC data shows there were more total registered voters than there were adult citizens over the age of 18 living in each of the following 15 counties: Buncombe (registration rate 101%), Camden (101%), Chatham (101%), Cherokee (101%), Clay (106%), Dare (107%), Durham (111%), Guilford (101%), Madison (100%), Mecklenberg (108%), New Hanover (101%), Orange (111%), Union (106%), Watauga (105%), and Yancey (104%).

A comparison of the November 2016 total voter registration records of these 15 counties obtained from the North Carolina state website with the 2011-2015 U.S.Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data shows that this trend has either stayed constant or has increased. The data shows 13 of the 15 counties have increased their total voter registrants by a greater percentage than the rate of increase of citizen voting age population, thus only adding to the disparity. Further, 14 of the 15 counties still have more total voter registrations than citizens eligible to vote, even accounting for the U.S. Census Bureau’s margin of error.

Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act requires states to make a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters from official lists due to “the death of the registrant” or “a change in the residence of the registrant,” and requires states to ensure noncitizens are not registered to vote.

Based on its review of Election Assistance Commission (EAC) data, and more recent U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey and the states’ voter registration records, Judicial Watch found the following counties have more total registered voters than the citizen voting age (18) population:

  • Alabama: Choctaw, Conecuh, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Perry, Washington, Wilcox.
  • Florida: Clay, Flagler, Okaloosa, Osceola, Santa Rosa, St. Johns.
  • Georgia: Bryan, Columbia, DeKalb, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Lee, Marion, McIntosh, Oconee.
  • Illinois: Alexander, Bureau, Cass, Clark, Crawford, DuPage, Franklin, Grundy, Hardin, Henderson, Jefferson, Jersey, Massac, McHenry, Mercer, Monroe, Pulaski, Rock Island, Sangamon, Scott, Union, Wabash, Washington, White.
  • Iowa: Scott, Johnson.
  • Kentucky: Anderson, Bath, Boone, Breathitt, Caldwell, Carlisle, Cumberland, Fulton, Gallatin, Greenup, Hancock, Henry, Jefferson, Jessamine, Kenton, Livingston, Magoffin, McCracken, Menifee, Mercer, Monroe, Oldham, Powell, Russell, Scott, Spencer, Trigg, Trimble, Wolfe, Woodford.
  • Maryland: Montgomery.
  • New Jersey: Essex, Somerset.
  • New York: Nassau.
  • North Carolina: Buncombe, Camden, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Dare, Durham, Guilford, Madison, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Orange, Union, Watauga, Yancey.
  • Tennessee: Williamson.

In its notice-of-violation letters, Judicial Watch warns that the failure to maintain accurate, up-to-date voter registration lists “required by federal law and by the expectations of [state] citizens” will “undermine public confidence in the electoral process.”

Judicial Watch asked the states to “conduct or implement a systematic, uniform, nondiscriminatory program to remove from the list of eligible voters the names of persons who have become ineligible to vote by reason of a change of residence, death or a disqualifying criminal conviction.”  The states are also asked to remove from voter registration lists “noncitizens who have registered to vote unlawfully.”

“Dirty election rolls can mean dirty elections,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “These 11 states face possible Judicial Watch lawsuits unless they follow the law and take reasonable steps to clean up their voting rolls of dead, moved, and non-citizen voters.”

As part of its commitment to the enforcement of the NVRA, Judicial Watch struck a legal victory for clean voter rolls in Indiana, forcing the state to clean up its voter registration lists and overhaul its list-maintenance procedures. Judicial Watch also filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of its existing agreement with Ohio to ensure that its voter rolls are up to date.  This case is still under way.

Robert Popper is director of Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project. Popper was formerly Deputy Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

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Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals makes partisan decision knocking down NC’s Voter ID law http://chathamjournal.com/2016/07/30/fourth-circuit-court-appeals-makes-partisan-decision-knocking-ncs-voter-id-law/ Sat, 30 Jul 2016 11:06:03 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=6732 By Hunter Hines Richmond, Va. – Friday, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s Voter ID law. The new law passed in 2013 required that voters in the Tar Heel state provide valid identification before casting…

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By Hunter Hines

Richmond, Va. – Friday, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s Voter ID law. The new law passed in 2013 required that voters in the Tar Heel state provide valid identification before casting their vote. Its intent was to protect the integrity of the state’s elections.

Although the law ensured that any citizen of the state wanting an opportunity to vote could do so, although it provided a list of valid government-issued photo IDs voters could present at the polls, although it allowed any person without a photo ID to secure one without charge at the Department of Motor Vehicles, although it still allowed anyone who had difficulty getting an ID to fill out a reasonable impediment affidavit and have their vote counted, the ruling by the 3 judge panel said the N.C. General Assembly enacted the law “with racially discriminatory intent” and passed it to entrench Republican power in the state.

Voter IDThe U.S. Department of Justice, the North Carolina NAACP, named voters, and four churches brought the suit against the law. They argued that it was unconstitutional and a violation of the Voters Rights Act. They contended it was a revival of Jim Crow laws by a Republican dominated legislature and meant to curtail the vote of the poor and black minorities that typically vote for Democrats.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, appointed by George W. Bush, upheld the law back in April, ruling it was constitutional. He said plaintiffs had “failed to show that such disparities will have materially adverse effects on the ability of minority voters to cast a ballot and effectively exercise the electoral franchise.”

Parties in the suit then appealed to the 4th Circuit.

Rev. William Barber, head of the NAACP and Moral Monday organizer was an ardent opponent of the Voter ID requirement and had said that opposition to it was “our Selma.”

According to ABC 11 Eyewitness News, Barber said that today’s decision was “as you might imagine” had made him and others named in the suit “beyond happy.” He said “the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision exposed for the world to see under the light of our constitution the racist intent of extremist elements in North Carolina.”

The New York Times reports that U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, praised the decision at a press conference claiming the law had contradicted some of the nation’s most basic principles of democracy.

She added, “The ability of Americans, the ability of all of us to have a voice in the direction of their country, to have a fair and free opportunity to help write the story of this nation, is fundamental to who we are, to who we aspire to be as citizens and as Americans. And going forward, the Department of Justice will continue our work to protect this sacred right.”

But Governor Pat McCrory and the leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly took umbrage with such assertions.

“Photo IDs are required to purchase Sudafed, cash a check, board an airplane or enter a federal courtroom. Yet, three Democratic judges are undermining the integrity of our elections while also maligning our state,” McCrory said in a released statement.

House Speaker Tim Moore and President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Sen. Phil Berger, released a stinging joint statement condemning what they termed a partisan ruling by the court with a possible nefarious motive.

“Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina’s law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election.”

Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, wrote in defense of the controversial Voter ID law in 2014. Then Dr. Creech wrote, “Voter fraud is real and always plausible.”

He cited the voter fraud that occurred when Lyndon Johnson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948 and his election was proven to be rigged in 1977, four years after Johnson’s death. He also cited Pasquotank County’s successful removal of more than 60 voters from their rolls after the 2012 election, when it became abundantly clear they didn’t live at the addresses on their voter registration.

Read Dr. Creech’s 2014 op-ed: In Defense of North Carolina’s Voter ID Law.

“Such examples provide the impetus for states to vigilantly revise, reform, and upgrade their election laws wherever necessary to protect the vote, which is exactly what North Carolina’s current leadership did,” said Dr. Creech in his op-ed.

Dr. Creech stated today that he thought the ruling was a travesty for our state and the integrity of elections. He said the law did not discriminate against minorities and that a similar statute had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.

“These three justices appointed by Obama and Bill Clinton are shining examples of the judicial activism we can expect if Hillary Clinton is elected President,” said Dr. Creech.

He concluded, “Such justices impose their opinions upon the law rather than interpreting it according to the framers original intent in the Constitution. Polls have shown North Carolinians overwhelmingly approve of the Voter ID law and their representatives in the North Carolina House and Senate passed it. But never mind, federal judges know better than North Carolinians. We’ve become a nation of the courts, by the courts, and for the courts. We should all pray earnestly that God would deliver us from this tyranny.”

Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly leadership promised to appeal the decision.

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Wake County election official could face felony voter suppression charges http://chathamjournal.com/2016/05/31/wake-county-election-official-face-felony-voter-suppression-charges/ Wed, 01 Jun 2016 01:44:26 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=6379 by Jay DeLancy Raleigh, NC – Stunning film evidence, gathered last Thursday, of a Wake County election official misleading an Unaffiliated voter on his available choice of ballots could put the employee into legal jeopardy, for “discourag[ing] potential voters from exercising…

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by Jay DeLancy

Raleigh, NC – Stunning film evidence, gathered last Thursday, of a Wake County election official misleading an Unaffiliated voter on his available choice of ballots could put the employee into legal jeopardy, for “discourag[ing] potential voters from exercising their lawful right to vote.”

The official identified herself as Jan Torrey, a life-long Democrat, who had worked the polls as a paid Wake County BOE employee since the 2004 elections.

Ms. Torrey told Jay DeLancy, Director of Voter Integrity Project, “You will have a choice of ballots . . . and your choices are the Democratic, the Libertarian or the Nonpartisan. The Democratic, Libertarian and the Non-affiliated are all the same ballot because there’s no one running,” before mentioning in a hushed tone, “so, the only one that’s not just the Judges is the Republican ballot.”

DeLancy: “So, which ballots can I get? I’m confused now.”

Torrey: “You can get the Democratic, the Libertarian or the Nonpartisan. The three of them are the same, because there’s not a candidate for Congress. The District 4 Democratic [sic] have David Price and no one has challenged him.” [Fact: Price has two Republican challengers.]

DeLancy: “Okay, um, those are my choices huh? Okay.”

Torrey; (While pointing towards the entry way,) “Uh huh. (nodding). If you want to look at the ballots, they’re [unintelligible]. The, uh, ones that are the non-affiliated only have the Judges.”

DeLancy: “So I can get a Democrat or a Non-affiliated…”

Torrey: (Interrupts) “Libertarian. The Republican or the Nonpartisan.”

DeLancy: “Okay, so I can get the Republican ballot?”

Torrey: “Yes. (Shaking her head, no.) Sorry. (Looking down at computer screen,) You may get that one.”

We think this law might apply . . . § 163-275, subsection (17) declares it a felony . . .

“(17) For any person, directly or indirectly, to misrepresent the law to the public through mass mailing or any other means of communication where the intent and the effect is to intimidate or discourage potential voters from exercising their lawful right to vote.”

DeLancy investigated the crime on the first day of early voting (May 26), after receiving a complaint from a Wake County couple, Jack and Bea Spence, who also gave DeLancy a description of the election official.

They too were only given the options of a Democrat, Libertarian or Nonpartisan ballot, without disclosing that that could select a Republican ballot.

Their story was reported here, last Thursday. [See their video interview below.]

“Last we got a small hint at how things worked during the Jim Crow era,” DeLancy said. “Unless the DA prosecutes this blatant voter suppression, election workers all across the state will think it’s okay to lie to voters about their rights,”

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Bob Hall – Just another liberal attack dog pretending to be a watchdog http://chathamjournal.com/2016/02/12/bob-hall-just-another-liberal-attack-dog-in-watchdogs-clothing/ Fri, 12 Feb 2016 21:39:33 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5808 by Susan Myrick Raleigh, NC – When WRAL reported on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to throw out North Carolina’s congressional maps barely a month ahead of the 2016 Primary, the station’s “journalists” turned to their friends in…

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by

Raleigh, NC – When WRAL reported on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to throw out North Carolina’s congressional maps barely a month ahead of the 2016 Primary, the station’s “journalists” turned to their friends in three different organizations belonging to Blueprint NC (the “eviscerate”* group) for “expert” analysis.

Specifically, WRAL included quotes from three Blueprint NC groups’ leaders and also a founding member of another Blueprint NC group, who just happens to be the father of one of the candidates running for attorney general on the Democratic ticket.

The congressional maps in question were drawn after the 2000 census, approved by the U.S. Justice Department, approved by the North Carolina Supreme Court (twice), and used in the 2012 and 2014 elections.

Not surprisingly, WRAL gave Democracy NC’s executive director and liberal lobbyist Bob Hall first shot to spew his hyper-political, exaggerated, and bordering-on-extreme rhetoric. WRAL identified Hall as executive director of “good-government watchdog group Democracy North Carolina.” The mainstream media usually describes Hall and his group either as watchdogs or non-partisans, but the descriptions are ludicrous, knowing Hall’s history as a powerful elections lobbyist with extraordinarily close ties to North Carolina’s progressive elite and the Democrats in the legislature, and especially with his more than 20 years working with, and at times directing, the State Board of Elections (SBOE).

This is the same Bob Hall that Civitas wrote about extensively in 2012 and 2013 in a four-part series (see below for links to these articles). We continue to believe that Hall is someone who truly does have undue and hidden influence on elections in North Carolina. He has spent many years shaping our election legislation and policies into the nation’s most liberal and confusing collection of election laws and decisions. Hall was instrumental in the creation and implementation of same-day registration, early voting and its expansion, out-of-precinct voting, a law that allowed 16-year-olds to register to vote and public financing of campaigns, to name a few. We believe Hall’s influence at the State Board of Elections continues, even after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory appointed a new five-member board and that board hired a new director in 2013.

In 2012 Civitas used the public records law to request information to piece together how decisions were made and actions taken by the staff of the State Board of Elections. What we found, through more than 5,000 emails between Hall and the SBOE staff, was a decision process that was heavily influenced, and in some cases directed, by one lobbyist for special-interest groups – Bob Hall. These actions even included the drafting of taxpayer-funded materials and the planning of legislative lobbying and media campaigns. We also discovered that Hall controlled and directed the North Carolina Public Campaign Fund Program (NCPCF), the vehicle for public campaign financing in the Tar Heel State.

The WRAL description of Hall as a watchdog is more a blatant cover-up than a misnomer since our investigation revealed how lobbyist Hall was a behind-the-scenes driving force at the SBOE – even to mapping out partisan attacks on Republican legislators to the extent that it is hard to tell where the SBOE ends and Democracy NC begins.

In 2012 Hall led an attack on Republican legislators over a budget issue. In planning the lobbying campaign, Hall coordinated with elections board staff on tactics and information. Although the actual planning of the legislative campaign began in earnest in January 2012, the public campaign and coordination started in 2011, as seen in this AP article.

Hall laid out his game plan in 2012 for trying to get the legislature to spend the extra $660,000 to expand early voting even more, and the political strategy for attacking Republicans in the media in a memo attached to an email sent to then-SBOE Director Gary Bartlett. The very same day, SBOE Deputy Director Johnnie McLean responded via email directly to Hall saying: “We have reviewed your document and identified a few changes you may want to make.”

In his game plan memo Hall included a bullet point that read:

“We win even if we lose: Even if we don’t get the money this fight hits GOP where they are most vulnerable to public anger over appearing to suppress voting; it will help with the ID fight.”

In light of our discoveries, in 2013 Civitas submitted an official complaint and called for an investigation into Bob Hall and the SBOE staff. Recall that Hall is a registered lobbyist and head of a far-left activist organization. Yet our evidence showed that the SBOE staff in 2012 collaborated with him to use state resources, personnel and equipment to engage in partisan political activity in possible violation of general statutes prohibiting state employees from participating in partisan political activity on state time and using state resources. (Supporting documents here).

We also submitted evidence that SBOE staff allowed Hall to produce and edit state documents in the form of the “non-partisan” voter guide that is mailed to every registered voting household in North Carolina. His level of participation in this activity exceeded that of the state employees actually tasked with producing the document and included suggesting edits to candidate statements and facilitating billing and payments from state government for vendors. (Supporting documents here).

As to the complaint and call for an investigation, Civitas never received a response from the Board of Elections.

It’s worth noting that WRAL has at the very least one explicit connection to Bob Hall’s work with the SBOE. In this May 2013 Civitas article, Guiding the NC Elections Board – to the Left, we discovered that Damon Circosta was in discussions with Gary Bartlett and Bob Hall about taking over the SBOE contract to print the voter guides. Circosta, who was at the time director of NC Voters for Clean Elections (also linked to Blueprint NC), is now executive director and vice president of A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which is funded and controlled by the Goodmon family, which owns WRAL-TV.

This email from Hall, Bob Phillips (see below) and Circosta even mentions getting Capital Broadcasting (WRAL) to air PSAs for a special edition of the voter guide. The idea for a special voter guide comes directly from Hall, Phillips and Circosta.

Other liberal activists quoted in the WRAL article were:

William Barber, president of the NC NAACP (Blueprint NC member), the bloviating mouthpiece and figurehead of the progressive protest movement in North Carolina. He is hardly a dispassionate observer: The NC NAACP is plaintiff in the redistricting case, and the ongoing cases against voter ID and VIVA, the election reform legislation passed in 2013.

Bob Phillips, director of Common Cause (Blueprint NC member), a helper to Bob Hall in the liberal proliferation of election law and processes, according to the emails received through our public information request.

Adam Stein, founding board member of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, another Blueprint NC group. More than 98 percent of the group’s grant money comes from two extreme liberal political funders – the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Tides Foundation based in San Francisco. Stein actually likened the maps to apartheid – a reminder that using slanderous and bombastic rhetoric is a typical “demonize and destroy” tactic of the radical Left.

Josh Stein, (D-Wake), state senator, current candidate for attorney general, son of Adam Stein (above). WRAL gave Sen. Stein a chance to get his two cents into this article. He said that “a similar federal lawsuit is challenging the legislative maps drawn in 2011, and he hopes they are likewise found to be unconstitutional.” I shudder to think what will happen to the NC Department of Justice if Josh Stein is elected to head it as attorney general and NC voters find out too late that he throws around baseless and incendiary slurs the way his father has.

Bob Hall’s declaration in the 2012 memo that “we win even if we lose” is emblematic of the progressive Left’s strategic plan. The current redistricting debacle happening in a presidential election year is a great example of that plan. Maybe Hall’s game plan is best described by Chicago Mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when he said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

So that’s who WRAL turns to for “news” – not objective experts, but major players in the progressive movement. Hall is a high-ranking foot soldier for North Carolina’s elite progressive/socialist club – the club organized and directed by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. He along with William Barber and the others mentioned here are used by the elite as attack dogs, not “watch dogs.” WRAL as well as other establishment news organization (the media elite) have a deep reservoir of liberal leaders who they can draw from to provide continuous “talking points” that will push the liberal agenda.

*Blueprint NC; the group that gained notoriety because of strategy memo distributed at one of its 2013 meetings that was subsequently leaked to the press. The memo described the game plan “progressive” groups, namely Blueprint NC member groups, should use to attack North Carolina’s Republican leaders. Blueprint NC was formed by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in 2006 to help “progressive” advocacy groups coordinate activities and messaging. Blueprint NC’s strategy memo recommendations:

  • “Crippling their leaders ([Gov.] McCrory, [House Speaker] Tillis, [Senate President Pro Tem] Berger etc.).”
  • “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”
  • “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”
  • “Private investigators and investigative reporting, especially in the executive…”
  • “Organizers focus on year round voter registration….”

For more information on Bob Hall and his workings with the State Board of Elections use the following links

Guiding the Elections Board – to the Left
NC SBE – Who is really in charge and who do they work for?
Lobbyist Bob Hall and Gary Bartlett Planned Attack on Republican Legislature
Elections Bureaucrats Ran Amok

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USDA designates Chatham County and three other North Carolina counties as primary natural disaster areas http://chathamjournal.com/2016/02/10/usda-designates-chatham-county-and-three-other-north-carolina-counties-as-primary-natural-disaster-areas/ Wed, 10 Feb 2016 23:08:52 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5797 Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Chatham, Alamance, Person and Rockingham counties in North Carolina as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain and flooding that occurred from July…

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Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Chatham, Alamance, Person and Rockingham counties in North Carolina as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by excessive rain and flooding that occurred from July 13, 2015, and continues.

flooded field“Our hearts go out to those North Carolina farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling North Carolina producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in North Carolina also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are: Caswell, Durham, Granville, Guilford, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Stokes and Wake.

All counties listed above were designated natural disaster areas on Feb. 3, 2016, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Other FSA programs that can provide assistance, but do not require a disaster declaration, include the Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program; and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

 

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Calling all Chatham County nonprofits: Walmart welcomes applications for grants from $25,000 to $200,000 http://chathamjournal.com/2016/01/26/calling-all-chatham-county-nonprofits-walmart-welcomes-applications-for-grants-from-25000-to-200000/ Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:45:20 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5720 Richmond, VA – The Walmart Foundation opened the application period for its State Giving Program funding cycle Monday welcoming North Carolina nonprofits with programs that focus on hunger relief, healthy eating or career opportunity to apply for funding. The deadline…

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Richmond, VA – The Walmart Foundation opened the application period for its State Giving Program funding cycle Monday welcoming North Carolina nonprofits with programs that focus on hunger relief, healthy eating or career opportunity to apply for funding. The deadline to submit grant requests is Jan 30. You can submit your group’s application here.

WalMart Foundation fighting hunger

  • Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating examples include food pantries, backpack programs, nutrition education programming, cooking and food skills training and SNAP outreach.
  • Career Opportunity examples include job training programs and placement programs.  Special interest is given to programs focused on women and veteran programs.
  • Disaster Preparedness examples include preparedness equipment (e.g. jaws of life, shelter kits, etc.) and disaster preparedness awareness programs.

Program Funding Exclusions

  • Athletic sponsorships (teams/events)
  • Capital campaigns (defined as any plans to raise funds for a significant purchase or expense, such as new construction or major renovations)
  • Endowments
  • Fundraising events (walks, races, tournaments, dinners etc.), including but not limited to participation, sponsorship, and execution
  • Immediate disaster relief efforts (does not include disaster preparedness efforts)
  • Individuals (requests made solely for the benefit of one person or family)
  • Memberships, including association/chamber memberships
  • Political causes, candidates, organizations or campaigns
  • Programs that directly benefit Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in any way (e.g., driving customer traffic to stores, purchasing only Walmart product or gift cards, supplying candidates for Walmart employment, etc.)
  • Scholarships (tuition, room and board or any other expense related to college or university)

Organization Exclusions

  • Organizations that have already received funding through the State Giving Program this fiscal year (Feb. 1 – Jan. 31)
  • Organizations that deny service, membership or other involvement on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, veteran, disability status, or other legally protected class
  • Organizations that have not completed the required Impact Reports for any previous State Giving grants received from the Walmart Foundation
  • Organizations whose funds will not be managed and used within the state to which they are applying
  • Organizations whose programming or policies may position Walmart, Sam’s Club, or the Walmart Foundation in a negative light
  • Faith-based organizations when the proposed grant will only benefit the organization or its members

Selection Process

  • Once an application is received, it is reviewed by the Walmart Foundation to ensure it meets all funding requirements.
  • Qualified applications are provided to the State Advisory Councils for review.
  • State Advisory Councils meet to review grants and make funding recommendations to the Walmart Foundation.
  • All State Giving applications are subject to final review and approval by the Walmart Foundation.
  • Applicants will be notified of the status of their application via e-mail or postal mail after funding decisions are made. For communication timelines, please see the 2016 State Giving Program Funding Cycle Schedule.
  • Organizations that receive grants are required to submit two Impact Reports detailing how the grant was used and what outcomes were achieved. A midterm report will be sent to grantees via email six months after funding is awarded, and will be due 90 days after it is sent. The final report will be sent to grantees via email one year after funding is awarded, and will be due 90 days after it is sent. Impact reports can also be accessed on or after their available date by visiting http://www.cybergrants.com/walmart/stategiving. Grantees are not eligible to reapply until the Walmart Foundation has received the six-month midterm report.

Visit the State Giving Program Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.

“The Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program is another way we extend our mission to help people live better,” said Brooke Mueller, Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs, Walmart. “In addition to the thousands of community service hours our associates perform and the in-kind donations that are spread throughout the communities we serve, these State Giving grants allow us to help nonprofit organizations fulfill their mission and continue on their path of service.”

Launched in 2008, associate-led State Advisory Councils work with the Walmart Foundation to help identify needs within their state, review grant requests and make funding recommendations to the Foundation. Eligible applicants must have a current 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum funding criteria. Grant submissions are only accepted online at foundation.walmart.com.

 

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More than 280,000 N.C. students choose charter, private, homeschools http://chathamjournal.com/2016/01/25/more-than-280000-n-c-students-choose-charter-private-homeschools/ Mon, 25 Jan 2016 22:35:14 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=5710 Raleigh, NC – As North Carolina nears the 20th anniversary of the law that opened the door to public charter schools in the state, 82,000 students are enrolled now in charter schools. They make up a large chunk of the…

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Raleigh, NC – As North Carolina nears the 20th anniversary of the law that opened the door to public charter schools in the state, 82,000 students are enrolled now in charter schools. They make up a large chunk of the more than 280,000 N.C. students choosing nontraditional education options.

The John Locke Foundation is highlighting these and other statistics while celebrating National School Choice Week, Jan. 24-30.

national school choice weekThe celebration also includes a speech today from the head of the school choice advocacy group Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. PEFNC President Darrell Allison speaks at noon at the John Locke Foundation office in Raleigh.

“Whether they’re attending public charter schools, private schools, or homeschools, more and more students in North Carolina have access now to education options that meet their needs better than the traditional district public schools,” said Dr. Terry Stoops, JLF Director Research and Education Studies. “National School Choice Week marks a great time to highlight changes in public policy that will pay dividends for the state, its families, and its kids for years to come.”

“As I travel across North Carolina, parents, educators, and community members in all parts of their state make it clear to me that they want their children to have the best possible learning experience,” added Lindalyn Kakadelis, JLF Director of Education Outreach. “Increased access to school choice is making it possible for more people to meet that goal.”

North Carolina took a major step toward boosting school choice in 1996. The N.C. General Assembly approved the state’s first public charter school law that year. Twenty years later, the state’s 158 existing public charter schools enroll more than 82,000 students.

“If you grouped all charter schools together, they would form the state’s third-largest school district,” Stoops said. “Charter schools educate 5 percent of the state’s public school population today. And enrollment has roughly doubled in just the past five years.”

Charter schools operate in 59 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. As many as 16 new charter schools will open in August, Stoops said.

“Nearly half of the state’s charter schools received an A or B performance grade in 2015, compared to less than one-third of traditional district schools meeting that mark,” Stoops said. “Five of the 20 top-performing schools in the state are charter schools.”

Charter schools have achieved this success despite spending about $1,000 less per student than district schools, Stoops said. Charters also maximize the amount of personnel money spent on teachers, with 65 percent of charter school employees working as teachers. Just 54 percent of district school employees are teachers.

The most recent additions to North Carolina’s school choice menu are opportunity scholarships for low-income students and grants for students with special education needs. Both programs help parents who would struggle otherwise to afford private-school options for their children.

“Over $5 million in opportunity scholarships are helping more than 2,500 students from low-income families this school year,” Stoops said. “Many more could be helped. More than 7,700 students applied for the scholarships during the last application period. Meanwhile, another 770 students benefit this year from the special-needs grant.”

Outside of the public school system, North Carolina has the 17th-largest private school population in the United States, Stoops said. “Last year more than 97,000 students enrolled in North Carolina’s 720 private schools,” he said. “Private-school enrollment has jumped 5 percent in the last 10 years, and there are more private schools operating in the state now than at any time in the past 25 years.”

The state’s homeschool population has nearly doubled since 2004, Stoops said. “According to one estimate, North Carolina has the third-largest homeschool population in the United States, trailing only Texas and California.”

“The official count of N.C. homeschoolers eclipsed the 100,000 mark in 2015 and now stands at 107,000 students,” Stoops said. “Every county has homeschoolers, and no county had fewer than 28 homeschools last year.”

National School Choice Week should help remind state policymakers that they can take additional steps to expand parents’ choices, Stoops said. “Affirm North Carolina’s commitment to families with disadvantaged and special-needs children by investing greater resources in private-school scholarship programs,” he said. “Build on the success of North Carolina’s public charter schools by ensuring that applicable laws and regulations are fair, accommodating, and constructive.”

“Strengthen our state’s virtual schooling options by expanding access and enrollment,” Stoops added. “Safeguard the right of parents to educate their children at home by protecting them from intrusive and unnecessary regulatory requirements.”

Click here to view and here to listen to Dr. Terry Stoops discussing National School Choice Week.

For more information, please contact Dr. Terry Stoops at (919) 828-3876 or *protected email*.

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