Carolina Journal Weekly Report

December 18, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of December 18, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — Mike Easley’s longtime legal aide and law partner, Ruffin Poole, ducked a State Board of Elections’ subpoena Thursday by pleading the Fifth Amendment, the second time since October that Poole has avoided testifying before the board about his relationship with the former governor, reports Carolina Journal.

The elections board subpoenaed Poole to testify at a hearing on Easley’s campaign finances in late October. Poole had the subpoena quashed by a Wake County Superior Court judge on the basis of an undisclosed privilege. The N.C. Court of Appeals later ruled that he would have to appear before the board.

Poole took the stand at the board’s headquarters in downtown Raleigh shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday. As Poole was being sworn in by elections board Chairman Larry Leake, his attorney, Joseph Zeszotarski, again said his client wouldn’t answer questions.

Leake, a Democrat from Mars Hill, threatened to throw Poole into Wake County jail if he refused to disclose his full reasons for not testifying.

“I believe that our request for him to testify is in fact lawful,” Leake said.

News Features

CJ: Cowell implements stricter ethics rules
RALEIGH — State Treasurer Janet Cowell told her employees in March, about two months after she’d been sworn in, that they and future employees couldn’t do business with or lobby the treasurer’s office for a year after they’d left their jobs.

CJ: Taxpayer-funded local elections on agenda
GREENSBORO — Voters should expect the debate over taxpayer-funded municipal elections to heat up over the next year. A bill allowing municipalities with more than 50,000 residents to consider the option of taxpayer-funded elections will more than likely be considered in the North Carolina Senate in the upcoming short session.

CJ State appeals court tosses W-S loitering law
RALEIGH — The state’s second highest court has thrown out Winston-Salem’s loitering ordinance as unconstitutional. In finding the law both overly broad and vague, the appeals court noted that the ordinance did not require proof of criminal intent.

CJ: Hookah Bliss owner will defy smoking ban
CHAPEL HILL — The owner of a Chapel Hill hookah bar says he will defy the state’s new smoking ban that has ensnared his business but exempted other types of smoking establishments. Adam Bliss, owner of Hookah Bliss, believes the ban is discriminatory. He will continue to sell hookahs and alcohol beginning Jan. 2, the day it becomes illegal to smoke in most North Carolina bars and restaurants.

Judge: Sex-offender law unconstitutionally vague
PITTSBORO — A North Carolina law that limits sex offenders’ ability to worship is unconstitutional, a judge ruled yesterday. Two parts of a North Carolina general statute aimed at protecting children from child molesters are unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, Judge Allen Baddour of Superior Court said. He said that the statutes infringe on the constitutionally protected right to worship.

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Capital Quotes

You know how angry and in disbelief I’ve been all day. This is not how government and the courts are supposed to work for people.
— Gov. Bev Perude, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer, commenting on a ruling by Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand that the Department of Correction had misinterpreted its own guidelines in the cases of two inmates serving 80-year long “life” sentences for murder. Rand ordered their release, finding that they had fully served their sentences for the crimes they committed in the mid-1970s.

It’s not as bad as Detroit but it’s down there.
Howard Wial, an analyst with the Brooking Institution, describing to the Greensboro News & Record the the Greensboro-High Point area’s economic performance over the past three years.

This thing was botched by the Planning Department, botched all the way through, botched from start to finish.
— Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, as quoted by the Durham Herald-Sun, opening a hearing on Durham’s 2006 decision to remove watershed-buffer restrictions on a piece of land next to Jordan Lake. Manning ruled despite the flawed process, the removal of the watershed buffer should stand.

You know that if you are going to run for office your life is going to be much more public. This is just a little more public than I expected.
— Newly sworn-in Asheville City Council Member Cecil Bothwell, talking to the Asheville Citizen-Times about the publicity he’s gotten since the Citizen-Times and Associated Press ran stories over a potential lawsuit challenging Bothwell’s fitness to serve abecause he’s an atheist. The N.C. Constitution bars those that “deny the being of Almighty God” from holding public office. This provision is, however, almost certainly unenforceable as the U.S. Constitution prohibits religious tests for political office.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
JLF’s Roy Cordato discusses the Climategate scandal; former House Majority Leader Dick Armey explains why freedom, not government, brings prosperity; legislators discuss the bad publicity that could come from a legislative fact-finding trip; Duke University’s Jay Hamilton discusses the role of nonprofit newspapers in future media coverage; and JLF’s Terry Stoops explains why some public school officials are upset over a recent court ruling about charter schools.

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. Topics this week: More stories involving official misconduct; student suspensions; the end of the safe haven for business in the Senate; and those inmates seeking release. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; former House Speaker Joe Mavretic; and Elaine Mejia, Director of the NC Budget and Tax Center.


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