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N.C. Political Roundup

Nov 24, 2015
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC)
United States Government

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill last week to restrict Syrian and Iraqi refugees admission to the United States until more stringent security measures are in place.

Rep. Walter Jones (R - N.C. 3rd District) was one of two GOP members to vote against the bill, saying it was too hastily passed and requires further discussion. 

An image of Republican Renee Ellmers
Public Domain

North Carolina has 13 members in the United States House of Representatives. Ten are currently Republicans and next week each is expected to file paperwork to run for another term. However, the road to re-election looks different for some members of the GOP.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

In the wake of the Paris attacks, the U.S. House passed a bill to ban all refugees from Syria until stringent background checks are conducted.

And the two leading candidates for North Carolina governor, Republican incumbent Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, both say the state needs to stop admitting Syrian refugees until the federal government provides assurances about security concerns. The debate raises new questions about the government's surveillance methods and privacy matters.

In the South, African-American and Latino coalitions are coming together to support civil rights and immigration rights.
Fibonacci Blue / Flickr Creative Commons

In the last several decades state legislatures across the South have considered measures to limit the rights and privileges of immigrant populations. In response, new coalitions have formed between traditional civil rights groups and nascent immigrant rights organizations.

These new groups have leveraged political power to affect change in states like Mississippi and Alabama.

A 7-hour committee meeting carried on Wednesday at the Capitol. Refugees, open meetings and prison maintenance contracts were among the topics.
Jeff Tiberii

Two members of the Governor's Cabinet say the renewal of prison maintenance contracts to a campaign donor did not violate any laws.

State Budget Director Lee Roberts and Department of Public Safety Director Frank Perry answered questions from lawmakers during a grueling seven hour meeting of the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations at the Capitol on Wednesday.

On Monday afternoon, Gov. Pat McCrory joined a few other Republican governors who wanted to close the door on refugees from Syria. The following morning, he appeared on Fox News and CNN. The chorus of governors was growing so loud that White House officials arranged a phone conference for Tuesday night.

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

In the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama announced the United States will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the coming year, an increase from the 1,854 Syrian refugees admitted since 2012.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

White House officials are scheduled to hold a conference call with governors on Tuesday night about Syrian refugees, as more than half of the country’s governors have said they will not welcome resettlement of Syrians in their states.

The call is in response to state leaders’ complaints that they do not have enough information on the vetting process of people being admitted into the country as refugees from the war in Syria, Gov. Pat McCrory told CNN today.

Conservatives Say No To The Death Penalty

Nov 17, 2015
Jon Hardister
North Carolina General Assembly

Support for the death penalty has declined over the past 20 years. A Pew Research Center poll this year shows a 30 percent drop among Democrats and a 10 percent decline in support among Republicans. However, GOP approval of the death penalty is still strong at more than 75 percent.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

With the often overwhelming multi-month holiday time upon us, it seemed appropriate to acknowledge the one season that seems to extend longer than the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Christmas-Solstice-New Year's, marathon.

Election Season.

There is another election this week. It's on Saturday. And while chances are you will not be voting for the next governor of Louisiana, it has been quite a contentious race down in the Bayou.

Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh.
Bz3rk / Wikipedia

Update: Raleigh's City Council has unanimously approved a Unified Development Ordinance to update zoning for one third of the city. This remapping could bring taller buildings and dense construction to the city.
 

Monday, November 17, 2015:

Raleigh City Council's is considering allowing 40-story skyscrapers to be built along Fayetteville Street as part of the city's ongoing zoning district re-mapping efforts. But the council is also considering height restrictions for iconic old buildings there.

University of North Carolina system logo
University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina system Board of Governors conceded today to demands from state lawmakers to turn over records from a recent closed-door meeting that gave pay raises to top campus executives.

The university Board of Governors voted to turn over recordings, draft minutes and agendas from a controversial meeting in which chancellors at 12 of the state's 17 campuses raises of up to $70,000.

Assistant Secretary for the Division of Employment Security celebrated the state's unemployment trust fund surplus, on Thursday. Governor McCrory stood over his left should, while Secretary of Commerce John Skvarla looked on as well.
Jeff Tiberii

State officials are celebrating a $1 billion surplus in the North Carolina unemployment trust fund. The Wednesday announcement represents a significant swing from just two and a half years ago when the state owed the federal government $2.8 billion. This past May, the state paid down its debt a year before the due date. The savings have continued.

"Today I am very proud to announce the following - that we have built up our unemployment reserve fund to more than $1 billion," said Governor Pat McCrory before a crowd at the Employment Security Commission.

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

In response to allegations of racial disparities in policing, the Greensboro police chief has instructed his force not to stop vehicles for  minor traffic violations based on equipment infractions.

Serving The President Aboard Air Force One

Nov 12, 2015
Howie Franklin spent 19 years on Air Force One serving presidents from Ford to Clinton.
Ken Hackman / Wikimedia Commons

Howie Franklin holds the record for most U.S. presidents served as a flight attendant on Air Force One. He got his start during the Ford administration and finished his career four presidents later with Bill Clinton.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ann Howell was unseated in an election that was decided by one vote.
Town of Princeville

For years, Linda Joyner had been unsatisfied with the lack of recreational opportunities for children and teenagers in her small town in Eastern North Carolina. And she was unhappy about other things in the town of Princeville, population 2,000: the state government had taken over parts of the town administration, and the town did not have its own police department.
 

This year, she said, she got tired of hearing herself complain, registered as a candidate to the town’s Board of Commissioners, and knocked on more than 300 doors to ask people for her vote.

Stories From The Arab Spring

Nov 10, 2015
Reynolds on a tank in the Panshjir Valley, Afghanistan
Andy Reynolds

UNC political science professor Andy Reynolds is one of the world’s leading experts in governmental and electoral design. During his graduate school years in post-Apartheid South Africa, Reynolds advised writers of the constitution.

He continued to help other countries devise political structures over the last two decades. During the Arab Spring revolutions, Reynolds spent time in Egypt, Libya and Yemen working for the United Nations and the United States National Security Council.

Jedediah Purdy
Duke University

Jed Purdy grew up in West Virginia and spent much of his time exploring the countryside and reading. So he was just as surprised as anyone when just a few years later his first book “For Common Things” threw him into the limelight.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

With the passing of Congressman Howard Coble, North Carolina loses one of a vanishing breed: the old style politician.

Meanwhile, municipal elections across the country led to unexpected results in some places. Salt Lake City will likely have its first openly gay mayor, pending a recount later this month. 

In Houston, voters repealed an anti-discrimination ordinance for LGBTQ residents, and Jeb Bush's numbers fall as the Republican presidential primary continues.

Frank Stasio talked live with Congressman Howard Coble 12/16/2014.
Ivan Saul Cutler / Governor Morehead Forum for Economic Development

Republican lawmaker Howard Coble died yesterday at age 84.

Coble represented North Carolina’s Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years.

He was known for strong constituent services and a dedication to reducing government waste.

The congressman appeared on The State of Things in December.

Congressman Howard Coble is ending is 30 year career in politics. He will be retiring in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Stock Photo)
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Howiecoble.jpeg

Former Congressman Howard Coble died late Tuesday at age 84. The Republican represented North Carolina's sixth district for 30 years.

A picture of a voting sign.
Tom Arthur / Wikipedia

The municipal elections are over, and some North Carolina communities are getting new leadership.

For the fifth time in three years Charlotte has a new mayor. Democrat Jennifer Roberts defeated Republican Edwin Peacock. She had topped the interim mayor in the Primary.

Meanwhile, Chapel Hill is getting a new mayor. Pam Hemminger knocked off three-term incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt in a race that was dominated by the question of whether the town is growing too fast.

Pat McCrory
James Willamor / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory reportedly used his personal influence to help his friend and major political donor, Graeme Keith Sr., renew a $3 million contract with the state.

Photo of foreign policy expert Trita parsi
Trita Parsi

Trita Parsi was born in pre-revolution Iran in the early 1970s. Although his family left the country when he was just four years old, his interest and connection to Iranian people, culture, and politics has remained strong throughout his life. Early in his career Parsi worked for the United Nations addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree / Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill into law last week that restricts policies of so-called sanctuary cities and requires local law enforcement to work with immigration officials. The law also bans the use of non-governmental identification by police and other governmental agencies. 

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