NC Domestic Violence Incidents Spike During Pandemic
Get caught up in 10 minutes: Evictions moratoriums saved lives + Biden gets out of Yemen + Meadows under suspicion + MAB’s stadium dreams + Durham’s dilemma
Friday, Feb. 5, 2021
TGIF, friends. … Happy anniversary to Trump’s first impeachment acquittal. His second trial begins Monday. … Scattered showers in the morning, a high around 54.
Percentage by which COVID fatalities would have been reduced had nationwide policies to limit evictions been in place from March 2020 to November 2020, according to Duke University researchers.
A nationwide moratorium on utility disconnections would have reduced COVID fatalities by 14.8%.
“Our results suggest that policies designed to address housing insecurity can have a significant impact on both infections and deaths. … Simply having a local eviction moratoria decreases cumulative infections … by 3.8%, while having only local utility disconnection moratoria decreases the value … by 4.4%. These are sizeable impacts that show the capacity of these policies to reduce infections.”
The average percentage of Americans who express satisfaction with seven broad dimensions of public life, the lowest score in the Gallup poll’s history.
The seven dimensions: overall quality of life; opportunity to get ahead; influence of religion; size and power of the federal government; how well government works; size and influence of corporations; and the moral and ethical climate.
The poll has run every January since 2001 except — for some odd reason — for 2009 and 2010, when the Great Recession probably would have depressed scores substantially.
Last year’s score was 53.
On This Day
1805: William Holland Thomas, a state senator, Confederate colonel, and lawyer who was appointed the “white chief” of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, was born in Haywood County.
1870: The first motion picture was shown to a theater audience in Philadelphia.
1917: Congress overrode President Wilson’s veto of a bill to limit Asian immigration.
1922: The first issue of Reader’s Digest was published.
1937: FDR proposed his ill-fated court-packing plan.
1997: OJ Simpson was found civilly liable in the deaths of Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson.
2020: The Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump in his (first) impeachment trial.
One Year Ago
The New York Times, A1: “Assured of Acquittal, Trump Makes Case for a Second Term”
101 Years Ago
The backstory: Henry Cabot Lodge was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but President Wilson shut him out of the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 that negotiated the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty included the creation of the League of Nations.
It needed to be ratified by the Senate. In November 1919, Lodge sent the treaty to the Senate with 14 “reservations,” but no amendments. Wilson, who had suffered a stroke the month before, refused to negotiate. The Senate, for the first time, rejected the peace treaty.
On March 20, 1920, the treaty came up for a second vote without the so-called Lodge reservations. It fell seven votes shy of achieving a two-thirds majority.
Note: I, unable to escape 2020, originally labeled this section “100 Years Ago,” which is what I get for having a brilliant new idea at 1 a.m.
+TODAY’S TOP 6
1. Biden Ends U.S. Support for Yemen War
In 2019, Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudis war against Yemen, which has led to the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. File this under “elections have consequences.”
Trump vetoed the resolution out of his fealty to Saudis, his animosity toward Iran, and because he wanted the Saudis to purchase American weapons. (Guardian)
The BBC has a good backgrounder on the Yemen crisis.
The basics: It’s a proxy war between the Saudis and Iran, the U.S. has backed the Saudis, at least 100,000 people have died, and more than 3.65 million people have been displaced.
On its way out, the Trump administration designated the Houthi rebels a terrorist group, which humanitarian groups say will make it more difficult to get aid to Yemenis. Biden’s administration is reviewing that designation.
Biden also reversed Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany.
—> OTHER FOREIGN POLICY NEWS
In another break from Trump, Biden demanded that the Myanmar military reverse its coup and the Russians free an imprisoned dissident, with sanctions likely if they refuse. However: “Mr. Biden is about to discover how years of sanctions fatigue — exacerbated in the Trump administration — and a decline in American influence will make delivering on the promise much harder than when he served as vice president.” (NYT)
—> OTHER POLITICAL NEWS
On a 230-199 vote — with a handful of Republicans voting yes — the House stripped QAnon crazy lady Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of two high-profile committee assignments. (AP)
The QAnon crazy lady is much, much more popular among Republicans than Rep. Liz Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump. (Axios)
Smartmatic — the other voting machine company that was subject to a million conspiracy theories — has sued Fox News and its hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro, as well as Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for — wait for it — $2.7 billion. (WaPo)
Speaking of which, whenever your MAGA uncle goes off on the THEY SWITCHED THE VOTES!!!! nonsense on Facebook, respond with this statistical takedown of election fraud claims. It won’t change anyone’s mind. But it’ll make your uncle look foolish. (PDF in Dropbox)
Sen. Mitt Romney has proposed giving at least $3,000 per child to each American family, lending bipartisan support to at least one plank of the Dems’ $1.9 trillion COVID package. Unlike the Dems’ plan, Romney wants to pay for it by slashing welfare and other child tax credit programs that benefit low-income families. (WaPo)
Former Vice President Pence has joined the Heritage Foundation ahead of a 2024 presidential bid that will inevitably end with a seventh-place finish in Iowa. (WaPo)
2. NC Domestic Violence Reports Up 10% in 2020
When everything shut down last year, advocates for survivors of domestic violence were concerned. It wasn’t just that women — or men, for that matter — would be trapped in their homes with abusive partners. It was also that it wasn’t hard to predict what would come next: more drinking and drug use, a rise in depression, and a spike in unemployment, all of which are associated with intimate partner violence.
So NC Health News (smartly) requested data on incidents of domestic violence in 2020 from all 100 counties; 38 responded.
Those 38 counties reported 2,000 more incidents of abuse in 2020 than in 2019, about a 10% increase. But that’s probably not the full story.
“North Carolina domestic violence advocates and experts worry actual incidents of domestic violence may be much higher, as people who are isolating throughout the pandemic with abusive partners may struggle to find privacy to reach out for help.”
The story doesn’t say which counties responded to the request, so it’s unclear if there’s any difference between rural and urban counties.
—> OTHER COVID NEWS
Governor Cooper unveiled his proposal for allocating federal COVID funds, which include one-time bonuses for teachers and school staff, $546 million for emergency rental assistance, more money for food stamps, and about $700 million for COVID prevention measures. (N&O)
The NCDHHS and the Department of Public Safety keep finding new ways to delay making prison inmates eligible for COVID vaccines. (Car. Pub. Press)
3. Is Mark Meadows Under FEC Investigation?
In October, the watchdog group CREW filed an FEC complaint against the former North Carolina congressman-turned-Trump’s chief of staff, alleging that he used campaign money to pay for personal goodies (including nights at Trump’s Washington hotel). The FEC might — might — be taking the complaint seriously.
According to Salon, Meadows’s PAC’s end-of-year financial filing shows only three expenses: $250 at Costco and Walmart to supply a reception for Secret Service members and $6,339 to the law firm Foley & Lardner for “PAC legal services.”
“A campaign finance attorney, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss potential legal proceedings, told Salon that the seriousness of the charges facing Meadows, together with the timing of the legal expense, indicate that it's ‘highly likely’ the FEC has launched an inquiry.”
This is more speculation than reporting, but here’s an interesting tidbit: After the election, Meadows sold up to $200,000 in stocks.
4. State School Board Approves “Controversial” Social Studies Standards
Yesterday, the State Board of Education voted 7–5 to approve new K-12 social studies standards that are designed to help teachers discuss the country’s history of racism and discrimination. (N&O)
The school board did accept GOP Superintendent Catherine Truitt’s “compromise” of using “racism,” “discrimination,” and “identity” instead of “systemic racism,” “systemic discrimination,” and “gender identity.”
Just because the net worth of the average white family is 10 times that of the average Black family, we wouldn’t want to say our problems are systemic, would we? That might make some folks uncomfortable.
—> OTHER NORTH CAROLINA NEWS
The state House passed a bill that would retroactively defer ABC permit fees for bars that can’t open under Governor Cooper’s executive order. It does not provide them with any money to make it through the pandemic. However, via a 90–10 vote, the Senate added an amendment to Biden’s COVID relief package creating a long-overdue grant fund for bars and restaurants hit by the pandemic. (Twitter)
The state Senate passed its bill to force schools to “offer a full-time, in-person instruction option — known as Plan A — to special needs students [and] either Plan A or Plan B, which requires 6 feet of social distancing, to all students.” (N&O)
The state will receive $19 million from a $573 million settlement with the McKinsey & Company consulting firm, which helped Purdue hock opioids. Stein said the money will go toward fighting opioid addiction in the state. (WRAL)
5. MAB’s Thinking About a Downtown Stadium
In May, the Carolina Hurricanes signed a lease extension that will keep them at PNC Arena through 2029. After that, however, the region will likely face a choice: spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to renovate PNC and the land around it, a half-billion to build the Canes a new stadium downtown, or worry about the Triangle’s only major-league franchise moving elsewhere.
In October, the city and county agreed to spend $9 million on the arena through 2029 while they, the Centennial Authority, and business and tourism groups figure out the arena’s future.
On Tuesday, Mary-Ann Baldwin said the Chamber of Commerce should lead that committee, which was news to the Centennial Authority. In any event, it looks like downtown is a real possibility.
“‘There are going to be a lot of changes coming, especially around the PNC Arena area,’ Baldwin said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. ‘And this committee needs to look at [whether] that’s the right place to continue to support. Should we continue to put money into renovations? What should we do five years from now? Ten years from now?’ she said. ‘How do we make sure the Hurricanes have a home they can be proud of and, also, [are] there other options?’”
At this point — since “we” are putting money into a “home [the Hurricanes] can be proud of — I feel compelled to mention that the owner of the Hurricanes, Thomas Dundon, is a billionaire who just dropped $75 million on the Alliance of American Football and then closed it within six weeks after the NFL Players’ Union rebuffed his demands to use young NFL players.
There are, of course, pros and cons to each approach:
Develop the area around PNC, and NC State will lose tailgating space.
Downtown, however, is very expensive, and land is at a premium. The most likely location is the Red Hat Amphitheatre, but imagine the nightmare while the arena is being built.
And, of course, the city is about to drop millions of dollars in tax rebates on Downtown South, which will have its own soccer stadium. DTR would go from zero major sports and entertainment venues to two.
6. Durham’s Rezoning Quandary
Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Durham City Council member Jillian Johnson posted one of the smartest Twitter threads about the rezoning questions she and her colleagues face. It’s pretty long, so go read it for yourself. The gist is that most of the time — at least in terms of affordability and environmental impact — the decisions fall into the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” category.
For example: “So when we have a rezoning request, we're often choosing between low-density by-right expensive single-family development and higher-density less expensive development that is still single-use, not dense enough to support transit, and not affordable to low-income people.”
The catalyst for the thread was a rezoning request in the Merrick Moore community that would allow the developer to build up to 320 homes instead of the 202 currently permitted. The community — many of whose residents are Black — opposed the request, citing traffic and the prospect of higher property values and, hence, taxes.
One big concern had little to do with the development, but rather the path some kids walk to Merrick-Moore Elementary School along a heavily traveled one-lane, two-way street with no sidewalk.
The developer proposed building a sidewalk to the school in exchange for the zoning.
The council unanimously rejected the request. (N&O)
But things won’t get better for the area. The 202 homes will be larger and more expensive than the 320 would have been. Traffic will still increase. There won’t be a sidewalk. Durham will need the state’s funding — a small, competitive pool of grants — to improve Cheek Road. And this sort of development is going to happen more and more and developers look for cheap land to build on.
As Johnson correctly noted on Monday: “We don’t always listen to the neighbors, and if we did, it would be a real serious problem for our overall housing crisis.”
—> OTHER DURHAM NEWS
If you watch The Big Sportsball Game on Sunday, the onscreen graphics you see — the first down line, the virtual play clock, the kick distance — will come courtesy of Durham company SMT. (TBJ, sub. req.)