Opinion Roundup: State launches rape kit tracking system, Charlotte banks criticized for ties to ICE, N.C. civil rights leader receives 'genius grant'

Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 -- A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: House Speaker Tim Moore uses giant checks to promote pork barrel spending, Pitt residents get extra time to register to vote, state Crime Lab launches rape kit tracking system, NC Senate candidate reveals sexual assault story, Charlotte banks criticized for ties to ICE detention centers, Federal hurricane recovery aid to NC tops $210M and more.

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Rape kit, sex assault kit, sex assault testing
Friday, Oct. 5, 2018 -- A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: House Speaker Tim Moore uses giant checks to promote pork barrel spending, Pitt residents get extra time to register to vote, state Crime Lab launches rape kit tracking system, NC Senate candidate reveals sexual assault story, Charlotte banks criticized for ties to ICE detention centers, Federal hurricane recovery aid tops $210M, Guilford schools replacing lead-lined water fountains and more.
PAUL SPECHT & RASHAAN AYESH: NC GOP leader uses photo to mock Christine Blasey Ford. It's not her. (N.C. Fact-Checking Project) -- A Facebook post about Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assault in the early 1980s, has triggered a war of words between a local Republican leader and a Democratic candidate for Congress. Lanny Lancaster, Cabarrus County GOP chairman, shared a photo allegedly of Ford that was originally posted by an account using the name Joseph Mannarino.
COLIN CAMPBELL: Governors’ PAC (The Insider reports) -- The effort by all five living former governors to fight two constitutional amendments now has a name, a website and a political action committee. The Five Governors Committee was created last month and is raising money for ads opposing the two amendments that would limit the power of the governor, stripping the executive branch of its control over the elections and ethics board and appointments to judicial vacancies.
LAUREN HORSCH: Moore uses giant checks to promote pork barrel spending (The Insider reports) -- House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, has been using campaign funds to purchase fake checks similar to those given out by Publishers Clearing House for organizations in his district that received earmarks in the latest state budget.
JIM MORRILL: Is elections board amendment a victory for bipartisanship? Or a recipe for chaos? (The Charlotte Observer reports) -- The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement amendment to the North Carolina constitution could have a far-reaching impact on voters, lawmakers and political candidates. Essentially, it would change a nine-member board to eight members, half Democrat and half Republican. It also would give legislative leaders, not the governor, the right to choose members.
TAFT WIREBACK: Defendants in N.C. legislative maps case want U.S. Supreme Court to hear appeal (Greensboro News & Record reports) — Lawyers for current and former leaders in the GOP-controlled General Assembly are challenging a Sept. 12 ruling by a Greensboro-based, three-judge panel that the current map stems from unlawful gerrymandering to favor Republican candidates.

What exactly would voters get in Dan McCready? Don’t ask him (Charlotte Observer) — Democrat Dan McCready has a lot of fine attributes. Giving direct answers to tough questions is not one of them.
MARCIA MOREY: Nix all six NC constitutional amendments on Election Day (Durham-Herald Sun column) — None of these amendments are necessary, and some are outright dangerous. More disturbingly, voters are being asked to give a green light to the supermajority to fill in the blanks on how these amendments will actually work in November, before any new legislators are seated.
BRIAN MURPHY: NC congressman’s office reports Twitter user to police, triggering investigation (Durham-Herald Sun reports) — A low-profile race in NC’s 6th Congressional District has turned nasty on social media, leading to an investigation of a challenger’s vocal supporter.
BRIE HANDGRAAF: Independent Ken Fontenot challenges longtime legislator Jean Farmer-Butterfield (Wilson Times reports) — Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield is representing the Democratic Party on the ballot while Ken Fontenot, an unaffiliated candidate, has garnered the Republican Party’s backing in hopes of defeating the Wilson County woman.
GINGER LIVINGSTON: Pitt residents get extra time to register to vote (Greenville Daily Reflector reports) — Pitt County is one of 28 counties where unregistered voters will get several extra days to register for November’s general election. Legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper this week extends the regular voter registration deadline in counties most affected by Hurricane Florence to 5 p.m. Oct. 15.
MATTHEW BURNS: State Crime Lab launches rape kit tracking system (WRAL-TV reports) — Sex assault evidence collected by law enforcement agencies across NC can now be tracked by investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys and victims through a bar code system, Attorney General Josh Stein said Thursday.
NC Democratic spokesman apologizes for tweets (AP reports) — Communications Director Robert Howard said he sent the tweets while he was trying to become a comedian. The tweets, sent between 2011 and 2013, were first reported by NC Insider, a state government news service.
FRED CLASEN-KELLY: #WhyIDidntReport: What happened when NC Senate candidate revealed her story (Charlotte Observer reports) — When #WhyIDidntReport went viral on social media, thousands of people started coming forward with stories of being sexually abused and assaulted. But Caroline Walker wasn’t sure she should tell her secret. Walker is a Democratic candidate for a NC state Senate seat representing a portion of Union County.
DEON ROBERTS: ‘Stop financing hatred:’ Charlotte banks criticized for ties to ICE detention centers (Charlotte Observer reports) — As controversy over President Trump’s immigration detention policies continues to rage, Charlotte’s two big banks have found themselves swept up in the strife. Bank of America and Wells Fargo are among the banks that do business with two firms that manage immigration-detention facilities.
MATTHEW BURNS: Federal hurricane recovery aid to NC tops $210M (WRAL-TV) -- Three weeks after Hurricane Florence hit N.C., more than $210 million in state and federal recovery funds has already been provided to affected residents, officials said.
More legislative cooperation, please (Winston-Salem Journal) — Residents of flooded areas will have to work hard to recover and aren’t likely to succeed without assistance. This is just the kind of situation that calls for a compassionate, coordinated response from the state, and we’re encouraged that it has come.
BRIAN SULLIVAN: The Gathering Storm Over How Hurricanes Are Measured (Bloomberg reports) — Call anything a Category 5 storm, disaster or crisis and immediately it sounds awful. The label owes much of its weight to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which is cited routinely (if rarely by its full name) this time of year during the Atlantic hurricane season. But destructive storms like Hurricane Florence underscore the inherent weaknesses in the scale, and efforts continue to try to replace it with something more useful.
EMERY DALESIO: Tests show few heavy metals in river after coal plant dam burst (AP reports) -- Despite the gray muck that fouled the Cape Fear River near a Wilmington power plant after Hurricane Florence, water tests so far show heavy metals contained in coal ash are within state standards, N.C. environmental officials said.
JANE STANCILL: UNC’s head of student affairs to step down (Durham-Herald Sun reports) — Winston Crisp, UNC-Chapel Hill’s vice chancellor for student affairs, is stepping down, university officials said Thursday. Crisp, 51, has been a fixture at the university, overseeing services and programming for students.
YEN DUONG: Health Insurer Promotes Health and Builds Their Brand Through Basketball (NC Health News reports) — As companies vie for NC's Medicaid contracts, they're starting to market themselves to potential beneficiaries. One company is doing that through creative health education around asthma.
JESSIE POUNDS: Guilford schools replacing seven lead-lined water fountains recalled in 1990 (Greensboro News & Record reports) — Plumbers are working to replace seven lead-lined water fountains at three Guilford County schools. The fountains, which were subject to a recall decades ago, have all been taken out of commission until they can be replaced, according to Guilford County Schools officials.
HERBERT G. McCANN: 'Moral Monday' leader Rev. Barber among 25 'genius grant' winners (AP reports) -- A violinist who organizes concerts for the homeless, a professor whose research is being used to increase access to civil justice by poor communities and an activist pastor are among this year's MacArthur fellows and recipients of so-called genius grants.
MARTHA WAGGONER: N.C. civil rights leader receives 'genius grant' (AP reports) -- The Rev. William Barber, one of the newest recipients of the honor known as the genius grant, said becoming a 2018 MacArthur fellow means he has more work ahead of him, not less. So appropriately, he was participating in -- and getting arrested at -- a "Fight for $15" protest outside McDonald's headquarters in Chicago the day the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced this year's 25 MacArthur fellows. Each recipient will receive $625,000 over five years to use as they please.
JOE MARUSAK: NC woman drove to town for fast food. She returned home $1 million richer (Charlotte Observer reports) — “My heart dropped into my stomach, and I started shaking,” Brooke Blanton told lottery officials when she drove to lottery headquarters in Raleigh on Thursday morning, the news release said. “I was so excited I completely forgot about getting something to eat.”

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