NAACP Sues Alamance Over Confederate Statue

Gambling could make us rich + GOP state rep is mad at the internet + Serial comes to Bladen County + Robinhood comes to Charlotte + Biden vibes on New Deal energy

Wed., March 31, 2021

Good Wednesday to you, and happy last day of March—which is weird, right? Just me?

  • Weather: The bad news is, we’ve got thunderstorms on tap for the afternoon, with a high around 75. The good news: It’ll be nice all weekend.


Today’s Number: $538 Million

Amount North Carolina could generate in annual tax revenue by legalizing unregulated gaming, including horse racing and sports betting, according to a report produced for the North Carolina Education Lottery.

  • The industry could be worth $2 billion a year.

  • Within five years, casinos could produce $2.2 billion a year, and $493 million in taxes. (Whether that money is worth everything that comes with casinos is another conversation.)


+TODAY’S TOP 5

1. NAACP Sues Alamance County Over Confederate Statue

The state NAACP and Alamance County residents filed a lawsuit against the county to remove the Confederate monument in front of the courthouse, arguing that it “poses a threat to public safety, drains the public fisc, and stands in violation of multiple provisions of the North Carolina Constitution. Its presence harms all county taxpayers, particularly Black residents.”

  • “The County's own manager has admitted that the monument poses a threat to public safety. Alamance County Manager Bryan Hagood informed County Commissioners in writing on June 20, 2020, that the monument in its current location poses a life-or-death threat to public safety.”

  • “In the face of calls from the County Manager and countless others for the monument to come down, members of the Alamance County Board of Commissioners and the County Attorney have taken the erroneous position that they are legally prohibited from removing the monument. They rely, in particular, on a law enacted by the General Assembly in 2015.”

  • The complaint says the law doesn’t apply because the monument is not an “object of remembrance,” as it does not commemorate a specific person or event, and because the county’s manager has already said it poses a public safety risk.

  • The lawsuit also points out that the county has spent ungodly sums—and embarrassed itself plenty, including the time it tried to make protesting illegal—trying to protect the damn thing.

▶️ OTHER LAWSUIT NEWS

  • A former RTI International researcher has alleged that the company screwed him out of both severance payments and royalties from technologies he developed at the company. (TBJ, subscription)


2. NCGA Rep Will Tell Twitter What to Do

As a rule, it’s never a best practice to steal an idea from Florida. Yet that’s what Sen. Ted Alexander, R-Gaston County, is doing with his draft “Stop Social Media Censorship Act,” which would “allow users to sue social media sites in state court for censoring or hiding political or religious speech” and “forbid social media sites from censoring or banning users for ‘hate speech.’”

  • OK, geez, where to begin? Social media companies are private corporations. First Amendment prohibitions against censorship apply to the government, not them.

  • Neither the First Amendment nor Section 230—which I guarantee you Alexander either hasn’t read or doesn’t understand—allows the government to force private companies to provide a platform for hate speech.

  • Think of it this way: If Substack decided it no longer wished to distribute my newsletter for whatever reason, it’s under no obligation to do so.

▶️ OTHER NCGA NEWS

  • Since the War on Drugs has always produced the desired results, the state Senate wants to make simple possession of fentanyl—now a misdemeanor—a felony. (WRAL)

  • Democrats introduced a series of pro-LGBTQ bills that are almost certain to go nowhere, including one that would make the so-called gay panic defense—i.e., “I had to kill him, Your Honor, his queerness made me feel funny”—impermissible in court. (N&O)


3. North Carolina’s Election Fraud Saga Gets the ‘Serial’ Treatment

Serial, the ur-podcast now owned by The New York Times, is producing a new series called The Improvement Association, which will examine both the 2018 congressional election in North Carolina’s ninth district—which was tossed out over allegations of fraud—as well as innuendo that a Black advocacy group is still cheating in Bladen County.

A few years ago, Bladen County, N.C., made national headlines. In 2018, Mark Harris, a Republican, beat out his Democratic opponent for a congressional seat, but the election was later thrown out and a new election was called after his campaign was investigated over suspicions of absentee-ballot fraud.

But according to some local residents, the authorities got it all wrong. They say there’s a powerful group still at work in the county, tampering with elections, bullying voters and stealing votes—a Black advocacy group, the Bladen County Improvement Association. These accusations have never been substantiated, but they persist.

▶️ OTHER NCPOL NEWS

  • The stock-trading company Robinhood—best known for halting trading on #WallStreetBets stocks at the behest of hedge funds—is establishing an office in Charlotte, which the gov’s office says will bring 400 jobs. (N&O)


4. Biden’s Massive Infrastructure and Climate Plan

The White House is expected to roll out its $2.25 trillion infrastructure and climate plan today, including:

  • $650 billion for bridges, roads, highways, and ports.

  • $400 billion for home care for the elderly and the disabled.

  • $300 billion for affordable housing.

  • $300 billion for U.S. manufacturing.

  • “And it will include hundreds of billions of dollars to bolster the nation’s electric grid, enact nationwide high-speed broadband and revamp the nation’s water systems to ensure clean drinking water, among other major investments.” (WaPo)

Before you go getting those New Deal vibes:

  • “Centrist Democrats have said the package should be targeted to win Republican votes, seeking a return to bipartisan policymaking after a contentious and partisan vote over Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan. But liberal lawmakers and some economists are pressing the administration to use Democrats’ narrow majorities in Congress to confront some of the nation’s biggest problems, such as climate change, with solutions they say are necessary to address the scale of the crises.”

  • One of these two positions is grounded in reality. I’ll let you decide which one.

▶️ OTHER CLIMATE NEWS

  • The Biden administration announced a plan to develop 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbines in coastal waters nationwide by 2030. That’s enough energy to power 10 million homes. (NYT)


5. LOL, Matt Gaetz

Consummate Florida man and Trump ally Matt Gaetz is under DOJ investigation for potentially violating sex trafficking laws by paying to take a 17-year-old girl with whom he was having a sexual relationship across state lines.

  • “A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value.”

  • Gaetz: “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

  • “Mr. Gaetz has recently mused with confidants about quitting elected politics and taking a full-time job with the conservative television channel Newsmax or another network.”

  • The kicker: “In 2017, Mr. Gaetz was the only member of Congress to vote against a law that gave the federal government more power and money to fight human trafficking.” (NYT)