Category: Government


30a6a0f4-fbdc-4ba1-9281-504a0504ecf5-medium16x9_snoenforcement.transfer_frame_0(WLOS News 13)  Two local sheriffs have joined several others across the state in saying they will not enforce Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay home order.

The Polk County Sheriff Timothy L. Wright said while deputies have the responsibility to respond to complaints, they will not be charging any individual, business or religious organization that violates the order.

Graham County Sheriff Joseph W. Jones also said he will not enforce the order, saying in part, “This is an effort to help some of our folks to recover and give our citizens an opportunity to go eat inside while sitting with family, friends and/or coworkers.”

Read the full report HERE>

 

2644006_web1_ap20126654056214(Charlotte Observer)  U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said Thursday he is temporarily stepping down from his post as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee amid an ongoing federal probe of stock sales he made shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.  “It’s a distraction to a committee that’s extremely important to the safety and security of the American people and a distraction to the members of that committee being asked questions about me, so I tried to eliminate that,” Burr told McClatchy on Thursday outside the Senate.

The announcement about the North Carolina Republican came the day after the FBI seized Burr’s cell phone in an investigation of the sales earlier this year. Asked about what happened with the FBI on Wednesday night, Burr did not give specifics. Burr, a member of the Senate’s health committee, sold up to $1.7 million in stocks in early and mid-February, according to a Senate disclosure that he filed. It came after he had received briefings about the status of the coronavirus, which had not yet made a large impact in the United States.

On Feb. 7, Burr co-wrote a column reassuring Americans that the the country was “better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats.” Later that month, he warned attendees at a private luncheon that the dangerous virus was “akin to the 1918 pandemic,” according to a recording first reported by NPR. Soon thereafter, ProPublica and the Center for Responsive Politics disclosed the stock sales.

Read the full report HERE>

Related archives:
(May 2020) Sen. Burr’s brother-in-law dumped stock the same day as Burr. Then the market crashed

(April 2020) Burr sold DC townhome to powerful lobbyist who had congressional business before him

(Sept 2016) NC senator who champions fossil fuels happened to get industry money for 20 years

(July 2016) US Sen. Richard Burr says 2016 will be his last run for elected office

spp6wa6dtbbjll2lgdgwpqd2wa(Raleigh News & Observer)  Raleigh’s police chief says the department is considering criminal charges against people who carried weapons through downtown in recent organized events — including a Saturday incident that left a Raleigh family fearful.

State law prohibits possessing a weapon while participating in or watching a protest, but nothing bars people from walking on a city sidewalk displaying firearms, Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said in a statement released by the Police Department this week.

The gathering was organized and promoted on Facebook by a group called Blue Igloo, a likely nod to the word Boogaloo.  Boogaloo and other variations have become shorthand for a future civil war or violence against the government among some militia groups, white supremacists and fringe online organizations, according to the Anti-Defamation League and Network Contagion Research Institute, which released a report earlier this year about the term.

At least two demonstrators were wearing Hawaiian shirts — another Boogaloo symbol, according to multiple online sites — and one used the name “Duncan Lemp.” Lemp was a 21-year-old right-wing activist who was fatally shot by police in his home in Maryland in March. Anti-lockdown protesters in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan, Tennessee and others have also given Lemp as their name, according to The Daily Beast.

Read the full report HERE>

screen-shot-2020-03-20-at-9.23.40-am-1024x528-1(Carolina Journal) A group of lawmakers who oversee program oversight is working on a draft bill designed to promote transparency and objectivity as they relate to penalties issued by the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The draft bill comes after a March report from the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division. The PED says its report is a response to changes to the administrative penalty structure and the severity of penalties handed down by N.C. ABC.

The PED found that administrative penalties aren’t “proportional, lacking policies, procedures, and guidelines that would limit variance and subjectivity.”

“The General Assembly should consider requiring the Commission to set guidelines that ensure penalties are proportional to offenses, increase transparency for permittees, and establish performance management criteria.”

Read the full report HERE>

7a7dbf3c-5313-4863-8c7e-49c70d50b007-downtown_coronavirus_006(Asheville Citizen-Times)  A bill to redirect $5 million in Buncombe County hotel taxes to aid local tourism-related businesses has been signed by Gov. Roy Cooper as part of a larger coronavirus relief package.

Buncombe County Tourism Jobs Recovery Act sponsor NC Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Flat Rock, said grants of up to $50,000 given to eligible small businesses and nonprofits will help them restart once the recovery begins, “in turn providing jobs and allowing workers to return to the workforce.”

Even before the economic shutdown the hotel tax had been the subject of a heated debate with critics saying the millions of dollars used for boosting tourism should be redirected to services for locals. The hotel tax-controlling body, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, has defended the expenditures saying economic benefits ripple throughout the region.

Read the full details about the program in the article HERE>

folwell-dmid1-5bbxnt27c-640x360-1Matt plans to ask our State Treasurer about:
– the impact of the lock-downs on the state economy
– how lost tax revenue will impact budgets and operations for local governments
– the State Health Plan’s current effort to get corrections officials across the state tested for COVID-19,
– how well the state pension plan investment portfolio is doing.

florence-95closed-1024x683-1(Carolina Journal)  The N.C. Department of Transportation overspent its budget by $742 million last year, a new state audit report shows.

The DOT is in hot water over poor money management, which, in 2019, sent its bank accounts plummeting close to a legally required cash floor. The department planned to spend $5.94 billion last year, but exceeded that amount by more than 12%, says a May report from State Auditor Beth Wood. Transportation officials overspent because they didn’t base their budget on actual cost estimates for projects. The department also failed to monitor or enforce its spending plan at DOT’s 14 highway divisions.

Operations and maintenance make up the largest part of that $742 million overspend, costing the department an extra $578 million. Construction projects cost DOT $124 million more than planned. Two miscellaneous categories make up the remaining $108 million.

Review the full feature HERE>

still0504_00001-e1588610995366(Raleigh News & Observer)  North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a financial-relief package Monday, two days after state lawmakers unanimously approved it as a response to the coronavirus. The governor also said details about what he calls Phase One of his reopening plan will be announced by Wednesday.

The General Assembly passed two bills on Saturday — one about policy and one about funding — to spend $1.57 billion of federal funds coming to North Carolina for coronavirus relief. The state receives $3.5 billion in federal coronavirus money from the CARES Act.

Cooper signed the bills during a news conference Monday morning, accompanied by Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue and House Minority Leader Darren Jackson. Cooper, Blue and Jackson are Democrats; Berger and Moore are Republicans.

Read the full story HERE>

medicare-logo(Asheville Citizen-Times) A local laboratory company allegedly tested patients’ feces unnecessarily and billed the federal government, leading to charges of Medicare fraud. Now, they’ll pay between $17-43 million to settle those allegations and others, according to the Department of Justice. A spokesperson for Genova Diagnostics Inc. said the company denied any guilt or wrongdoing and settled the suit “to avoid considerable distraction and expense.”

Genova allegedly violated the False Claims Act, a Civil War-era law that outlines punishments for businesses that defraud the government.  A lawsuit filed in federal court alleged Genova improperly submitted claims to Medicare, TRICARE (the government health care program for service members and their families) and the federal employee health program for tests that weren’t medically necessary.

Full story HERE>

f80c9389-c3bb-41c1-a728-2bfcc89987cf-large16x9_a3f25247069d4158be48517b6316f8a8large16x9_importedfromlakana(WLOS News 13) The North Carolina General Assembly began its annual session Tuesday by turning immediately to legislation to distribute COVID-19 federal relief funds, operating under unprecedented rules with social distancing in mind.

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger gaveled in their floor sessions with about 20% the 170 legislators present, a contrast to full chambers on a traditional session’s first day. Absent lawmakers either were in their offices or working from home for now to avoid high-risk activities. A few on the floor wore face masks.

Even with in-person legislators scarce, hundreds of demonstrators angry with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s extended statewide stay-at-home order greeted them as a large “ReopenNC” group rallied for a third Tuesday in a row.

Read the complete report HERE>

636108390688545055-hoodtalkforum-0013(Asheville Citizen-Times) The chief deputy at the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is accused of stealing a firearm from a local firearms store, according to the State Bureau of Investigation. No charges have been filed to date, an SBI representative said.

Don Eberhardt serves as second-in-command under Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller, according to a command structure provided on the BCSO website.

The larceny allegedly occurred on April 9, according to the SBI’s Angie Grube. On April 21, Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams requested the SBI investigate the incident, she said.

Eberhardt was placed on paid administrative leave effective April 24, the BCSO said. “The Sherriff’s Office will have no further comment pending the conclusion of this investigation,” according to an April 25 release.

Read the full story HERE>