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Gates for North Carolina primary voting open wider Thursday
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The gates are opening wider for North Carolina voters to cast ballots for next month’s primary elections.
Early one-stop voting begins Thursday with at least one site open in each of the state’s 100 counties. Nearly 300 sites will operate during the 17-day period that ends May 5. People at early-voting sites can also register to vote and cast ballots at the same time.
The actual primary election is May 8, but there’s no “same-day registration” that day.
Before early voting began, registered voters could cast traditional mail-in absentee ballots.
There are no statewide races on the primary ballot. There are 18 congressional primary races, nearly 80 legislative races and scores of local positions.
Registered Democrats, Libertarians and Republicans can only vote in their party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters have options.
Lawyers: Accusing voters of felonies protected, not libel
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A group and a law firm that helped former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory fight a last-ditch campaign to disqualify votes and win re-election want to discard a lawsuit by voters who say they were libeled after the 2016 election.
A trial judge in Raleigh heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit by four voters who claim the Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund, the law firm and four attorneys should be punished for wrongly accusing them of felony crimes.
An attorney for the McCrory fund says the claims accusing certain people voted twice or were ineligible as felons are protected as part the ballot counting process.
McCrory fund attorney Philip Isley says he hasn’t found any similar class-action lawsuit by voters alleging they were defamed anywhere in the country.
2 agencies reach settlement on homeowners’ insurance rate
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Homeowners’ insurance rates in North Carolina are headed for an average increase of nearly 5 percent.
The state Department of Insurance and the North Carolina Rate Bureau announced Wednesday they have agreed on a 4.8 percent increase statewide. The Rate Bureau wanted an 18.7 percent rate increase.
The increase will vary according to territory with a cap of 5.5 percent statewide instead of the 25 percent increase for coastal homes proposed by the Rate Bureau, which represents insurance companies. Coverage on a $200,000 frame home on the Outer Banks will see an average $10 per month increase.
The agreement also covers insurance for tenants and condominiums, which is capped at 12 percent.
The last homeowners’ insurance rate increase was in 2012, when the rate climbed 7 percent.
North Carolina chancellor named in lawsuit over SUV buy
(Information from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina university chancellor is being sued by a former vice chancellor who said he was fired for questioning a $70,000 SUV purchase.
WRAL-TV in Raleigh reports the lawsuit by Benjamin Durant, former vice chancellor for administration and finance, named N.C. Central Chancellor Johnson Akinleye.
The state confirmed that university funds were used to purchase a GMC Yukon Denali, which the state Department of Administration said was sold at auction. The lawsuit says Akinleye was dissatisfied with a new Nissan Pathfinder provided for him last summer.
The lawsuit also accused Akinleye and two members of the UNC Board of Governors of trying to steer a $90 million student housing contract toward a specific vendor.
N.C. Central issued a statement saying the school will defend the allegations in court.
CHARLOTTE OBSERVER PUBLISHER
Georgia publisher named new leader at The Charlotte Observer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A Georgia publisher has been named the new publisher for The Charlotte Observer.
The North Carolina newspaper announced Wednesday that Rodney Mahone will leave his job as regional president and publisher for the McClatchy-owned Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and The (Macon) Telegraph in Georgia.
Mahone will replace Ann Caulkins, who is stepping down from The Charlotte Observer after 12 years.
Mahone will also serve as publisher for four other McClatchy newspapers in South Carolina: The (Rock Hill) Herald, The Beaufort Gazette, The (Hilton Head) Island Packet and The State in Columbia.
Mahone rose to his current job through The Columbus, Georgia, newspaper’s advertising division. He will be The Charlotte Observer’s first African-American publisher.
STOLEN PENSION PAYMENTS
North Carolina man indicted for stealing pension checks
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Officials say a North Carolina grand jury has indicted a man who they say kept his mother’s pension payments 15 years after her death.
The N.C. Department of the State Treasurer said in a news release Wednesday Ben Hamilton Colvard III was indicted by a Wake County grand jury on Tuesday for knowingly obtaining property by false pretenses.
According to the department, Colvard’s mother was a retired state worker who died in 2001. The department said Colvard dropped her name from their joint checking account. Her benefits were supposed to end that March, but the indictment said the state continued making payments totaling $266,747 through April 2016.
If convicted, Colvard could be sentenced to between 44 and 182 months in prison. It’s not known if he has an attorney.
INMATE-STUN GUN ATTACK
Jailed murder suspect accused of using stun gun on jailer
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a man being held in a North Carolina jail on a murder charge is now accused of using a stun gun on a jail officer.
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office told news outlets 22-year-old Joshua Cross is charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a government official.
Maj. Chris Thomas said officers were securing inmates in their cells Monday when Cross took the stun gun from one of them and fired it, hitting the officer in the arm. Another officer subdued Cross.
Last September, Cross tried to take a bailiff’s gun while in court.
Officials say Cross has been in jail since he was charged in his brother’s shooting death in December 2014.
Cross told the court he would hire his own attorney on the latest charge.
PADDLING FATHER CONVICTION
North Carolina court considers if father’s paddling is crime
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – How far corporal punishment can go before parents are committing child abuse is on trial at North Carolina’s highest court.
The state Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday about the misdemeanor conviction of a father who left bruises on his 10-year-old son’s leg. Dean Varner paddled his son for turning up his nose at pizza for dinner. Varner used the same paddle he was swatted with as a child.
Varner’s attorney says the Lee County man used corporal punishment within his legal right as a parent. Varner’s defense says the trial judge should have told jurors that parents are allowed to apply moderate punishment, meaning no lasting injuries. They say the boy’s bruises faded in a few days.
A state attorney says bruises lasting for days are not moderate.