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North Carolina governor wins again in balance-of-power case
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina court has struck down more legislation Republicans approved for their lame-duck governor’s signature to erode the powers of an incoming Democrat.
A Wake County judge ruled that the General Assembly unconstitutionally allowed outgoing GOP Gov. Pat McCrory, not Roy Cooper, to pick the leadership of the Industrial Commission, which rules in workers’ compensation cases. The lawmakers also let McCrory’s appointment to a commission vacancy be extended until 2025. McCrory appointed his chief of staff’s wife, Yolanda Stith, and named her vice chairman.
The judge’s Monday ruling ends her appointment next year instead. Cooper’s office named a new chairman and vice chairman Tuesday from the board’s membership.
Many of the moves Republicans made in 2016 to limit the next governor’s powers are still being challenged in court.
This story has been corrected to reflect that McCrory, not Cooper, appointed Stith.
Latest voter ID bill tries to address absentee ballots
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A key North Carolina legislator says a voter identification bill given House approval also would take a step toward improving mail-in absentee ballot security in light of fraud allegations in a congressional district.
The House voted Wednesday for legislation detailing how a new constitutional amendment mandating photo ID to vote in person is carried out. The measure now returns to the Senate, which approved an earlier version last week.
The House version directs the state elections board to figure out how people requesting absentee ballots also provide ID. Election officials are investigating claims of fraudulent absentee ballot activities in the 9th Congressional District. The 9th District election results haven’t been finalized.
GOP Rep. David Lewis says the 9th District problems are an “embarrassment and impediment” to the election system’s integrity.
ENDANGERED RED WOLVES
Endangered red wolves moved to North Carolina nature center
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A pair of endangered red wolves has been moved to a nature center in North Carolina.
The Asheville Citizen Times reports the wolves were moved to the Western North Carolina Nature Center as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan program. Center animal curator Erin Oldread says staff hopes the wolves will mate and produce offspring that can be released into the wild.
Less than 50 red wolves remain in the wild. Thirteen red wolf pups have been born at the center through the program.
One wolf from Georgia named Karma was moved to the Asheville center in October. Another wolf from Tennessee named Garnet was moved there last week. The center plans to introduce them to each other in January.
North Carolina sheriff ends county’s agreement with ICE
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina sheriff says he’s ending his county’s agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
News outlets report that on his first day at work, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said in a news release Wednesday that deputies will stop performing immigration duties when the agreement ends. The program allowed sheriff’s deputies to perform immigration enforcement duties inside the jail with supervision from ICE.
McFadden also said ICE officials will need court-issued warrants or detainers to access the jail while he’s sheriff.
An ICE spokesman confirmed McFadden’s decision.
The 287(g) program has sent thousands of people into deportation proceedings since 2006. Ending it was a major part of McFadden’s election campaign. Former sheriff Irwin Carmichael defended his office’s participation in the program. McFadden defeated Carmichael in May’s Democratic primary.
SCHOOL CAMPUS-ARMED MAN
Police: Man with guns at North Carolina school had hit list
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a Virginia man found with two guns in a North Carolina high school had a handwritten note that appears to be a hit list.
News outlets report that 29-year-old Steve Spence of Norfolk, Virginia, is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, a weapons charge and other offenses. He’s being held on $2 million bail.
Virginia Beach police say Spence assaulted his girlfriend before driving her car to North Carolina. Greensboro police say Spence entered the Smith High School cafeteria Monday and was questioned by employees, who called for a lockdown. He ran when confronted, but was caught.
According to warrants, Spence said he went to the school “to kill two different people” and the note mentions the school, includes the word “kill” and two first names.
This story’s headline has been corrected to show that the school is in North Carolina, not Virginia.
North Carolina pastor injured in house fire dies
MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina pastor hospitalized after a fire at his home on the grounds of his church has died.
A statement posted on the webpage of Goshen Free Will Baptist Church said pastor Clayton Burch died of his injuries Wednesday morning. Burch’s wife wasn’t seriously hurt in Tuesday’s fire.
The Gaston Gazette reports Gaston County fire officials determined the blaze likely started in the carport area of the home. While investigators don’t think the fire’s origin was suspicious, they haven’t determined how it started. The home sustained extensive damage.
Gaston County Fire Marshal Eric Hendrix said investigators would examine the two burned vehicles on the property and determine if they were under any sort of recall.
FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE CLOSURES
For-profit college closes operations, surprising students
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A troubled chain of for-profit colleges has closed abruptly in dozens of locations nationwide, after its accrediting agency suspended approval.
Birmingham, Alabama-based Education Corp. of America on Wednesday closed schools operating as Virginia College, Brightwood College, Brightwood Career Institute, Ecotech Institute and Golf Academy of America.
The company in October said it owed $46.8 million to unsecured creditors, asking a judge to keep landlords from kicking it out of locations.
ECA earlier announced it was closing some locations once students completed classes, but said it would continue others.
Project on Predatory Student Lending Director Toby Merrill says students can ask the U.S. Department of Education to cancel loans if a school closes.
The company website says information about transcripts and recommendations about transfers will be available starting about Dec. 17.
JORDAN’S FATHER-THE LATEST
The Latest: No ruling as judge reviews death of Jordan’s dad
LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) – A judge says he needs time to consider whether to allow an inmate to proceed with arguments that he was wrongfully convicted of participating in the murder of Michael Jordan’s father in 1993.
Superior Court Judge Winston Gilchrist heard arguments Wednesday by Daniel Green, who claims he helped dump James Jordan’s body but didn’t kill him. Green was convicted of first-degree murder, and two state courts upheld the conviction. Another man is also serving a life sentence for the killing.
Gilchrist heard three hours of arguments from attorneys for Green and the state attorney general’s office, which opposes his efforts to prove his innocence. The judge is considering whether Green should get a full evidentiary hearing that could possibly lead to a new trial, or if Green’s effort should be denied.
Gilchrist said he was going to reread documents in the case and then issue a ruling at a later date.