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Judge: Redistricting guru’s documents no longer confidential
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina judge says more than 100,000 computer documents generated by a recently deceased Republican redistricting guru covering several states are no longer under a court’s confidentiality order.
The files were subpoenaed by Common Cause and North Carolina Democrats from the daughter of Thomas Hofeller for a partisan gerrymandering trial in July.
Only a few dozen documents were used in that case, providing evidence a Republican advantage was the chief goal of redrawing General Assembly districts in 2017. Several dozen districts were thrown out.
Wake County Judge Vince Rozier wrote Monday there’s no justification to keep private the work Hofeller generated as an individual and not for the company. Common Cause says the documents covering nine states will reveal more about how Hofeller tried to fashion districts for Republicans.
Hofeller died last year.
NC Wildlife Resources Commission buys 6,300 more acres
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has purchased an additional 6,310 acres (2,553 hectares) adjacent to its North River Game Land.
A news release from Ducks Unlimited on Monday says the purchase, the first of two along the North River, was helped by donations from Ducks Unlimited and the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund.
The partnership, which helped make the purchase, will preserve forests and wetlands that furnish habitat for numerous waterfowl species, black bears, bald eagles and endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. It also protects more than 16 miles (25 kilometers) of stream and river frontage as part of the Game Land system.
The commission will own and manage the land, meaning water quality and wildlife habitat will be protected and provide the public with access to hunting, research and recreational opportunities.
North Carolina voters choose mayors, decide on referendums
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Municipal residents across North Carolina are picking their next mayors and council members.
Elections are being held on Tuesday in cities, towns and villages covering 92 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Precinct polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Mayors are being chosen in places like Wilmington, Durham, Rocky Mount and Charlotte, where incumbent Democrat Vi Lyles is seeking a second two-year term. She faces Republican David Michael Rice. Charlotte city council and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board candidates also are on the ballot.
Bond referendums are on local ballots. And Mecklenburg County voters also are deciding whether to raise the local sales tax for parks, education and the arts.
Former UNC Board chairman to step off board entirely
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The former chair of the governing panel for the University of North Carolina system says he’s leaving his spot on the board.
News outlets report Harry Smith announced on Monday that he was leaving the UNC Board of Governors in February 2020.
Smith said he doesn’t have time to be on the board after starting his own private equity firm. When he resigned as chairman, Smith said he stepped down because of the overwhelming demands of being the chair while running businesses.
He was board chairman during the controversy over “Silent Sam,” the Confederate statue that protesters brought down in August 2018. Smith told the Carolina Journal in May that his view of the statue had “evolved greatly” and that it shouldn’t be returned to the Chapel Hill campus.
Imprisoned SC sheriff transferred to NC for safety
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) – A former South Carolina sheriff imprisoned for misconduct has been transferred to a lockup in North Carolina for his safety.
The Greenville News reports that former Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis is now serving time in North Carolina after initially being held in South Carolina.
Prison system spokeswoman Chrysti Shain says Lewis was moved as a safety precaution because of his work in law enforcement. She says states have reciprocal agreements that allow inmate transfers to other states.
Lewis was convicted of using the resources and power of his office to pursue an extramarital affair with an employee. He was sentenced to a year in prison.
Campaign ad fight involving Forest reaches NC Supreme Court
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Supreme Court has heard arguments whether current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s campaign can be awarded nearly $80,000 from a political action committee for its ad supporting his opponent when he first ran for the job.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported attorneys for Forest’s committee and the State Employees Association of North Carolina’s political arm answered questions from justices on Monday.
The state Court of Appeals ruled last year that Forest’s committee could seek damages for the ad run in 2012 even though Forest won the election. Forest’s campaign says the ad didn’t comply with a now-repealed law requiring commercials to include a large photo of the sponsor’s chief executive officer or treasurer.
There’s no timetable on a decision. Forest is running for governor in 2020.
SEXUAL ABUSE-INMATE DEAD
Ex-school worker dies while awaiting child sex crimes trial
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – A former teaching assistant charged with sexually assaulting a student has died while awaiting trial.
News outlets report 40-year-old Nicholas Lavon Oates died Sunday from a pre-existing medical condition while awaiting trial for molesting a student at Myrtle Grove Middle School.
New Hanover County Sheriff’s Lt. Jerry Brewer says Oates had the unspecified condition prior to his 2018 arrest.
Oates was accused of molesting a then-12-year-old in 2016 and then having a sexual relationship with her when she turned 13.
He was indicted by a grand jury on two dozen charges including statutory rape, second-degree kidnapping and sexual activity with a student.
Oates was hired in 2016 and twice suspended from Myrtle Grove: once for sending sexually suggestive texts to the victim and the second time for misconduct.
Blackbeard’s ship case about images returns to trial court
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Following a favorable court hearing, a treasure hunter accusing the state of North Carolina of misusing his images from Blackbeard’s flagship says he’ll ask for 10 times the damages he originally sought.
John Masters of Florida-based Intersal Inc. says he’ll seek $140 million in damages after the North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday ordered the case returned Business Court. Masters said Friday that an expert witness puts Intersal’s losses from the state’s use of images and video at $129 million. He’s seeking $11 million for losses regarding a permit for another ship.
Almost a quarter-century ago, Masters’ father discovered Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground in Beaufort in 1718.
A state spokeswoman declined to comment.
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a separate case about the ship Tuesday.