The Most Honest Political Quote You’ll Ever Read

Today in 5 minutes: Fuquay-Varina High hosts a rap video + Dems sustain Cooper's school reopening veto + our pandemic housing boom + BLM protests make cops shoot fewer people

Tues., March 2, 2021

Remember when I said I’d miss a few days while catching up on reporting projects? Yesterday was one of them. I’ll publish the newsletter as regularly as possible, though some days may be more in-depth than others. Please bear with me as I figure it out.

In the meantime, you can read my column for this week here. Somehow, I managed to avoid talking about Donald Trump speaking on a stage shaped like a Nazi symbol.

Today will be partly cloudy, with a high of 52. (WRAL)

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Image of the Day

As of about 10 a.m. yesterday, this was the cover image on what may (or may not?) be Fuquay-Varina High School’s official Facebook page. (The page has more than 2,000 likes, 11,000 check-ins, a bunch of student-activity photos, but, as of late last night, no posts.)

The cover image has since been changed.

According to the r/Raleigh page that uploaded it, the image came from this video shoot:

One of the women in the shoot posted on her Facebook page: “That picture was from a music video set that was shot at the high school. Somehow one of our pictures got put up there. These are artists and actors. Not real students.”

The video was apparently shot over the weekend. The picture no longer appears on the page.

Share PRIMER | North Carolina


1. NCGA Dems Do as Told, Sustain Cooper’s Veto

Last night, the state Senate sustained Governor Cooper’s veto of SB 37, which would force school districts to provide in-person instruction.

  • Currently, at least 95 of the state’s 115 districts already are.

  • Cooper has argued that the bill “allows middle and high school students to be in school without following NCDHHS and CDC guidelines on social distancing.” He also said he wants to maintain local control.

The Senate had previously passed the bill by a veto-proof majority, and the Republicans only needed two Dems to flip to overturn Cooper’s veto. But one Democrats skipped the vote, and another — Paul Lowe of Winston-Salem — was very, very honest about his change of heart.

  • “[Cooper] asked. I am a Democrat. He’s the governor, and a Democratic governor.” (N&O)

This issue isn’t going away, however. On Wednesday, the State Board of Education will review test results showing that, in the fall, most North Carolina students did poorly on end-of-course exams.

Related: While Republicans have criticized Cooper’s caution, especially with regard to schools, the N&O’s editorial board says the data suggests he got it right.

Key COVID-19 metrics can provide insight into which states and governors did a better job containing spread and damage. Those numbers are clear. Compared to our Southeastern neighbors, Cooper helped spare North Carolina from the worst of the virus.

As of Sunday, North Carolina has lost more than 11,000 people to COVID-19, a death rate of 107 per 100,000 people. Only 13 states have a better COVID death rate, and in the Southeast, only Virginia is better with a rate of 100 deaths per 100,000. In Florida (144 per 100,000) and Georgia (163) — where governors notably opened states for business early — death rates are more than a third higher than North Carolina. Those states might have fared even worse had individual cities and counties — including Atlanta and much of South Florida — not issued more severe restrictions on their own.


  • The state Senate also passed a bill permitting churches that host schools to allow concealed weapons when schools aren’t in session. (WRAL)


2. Our Pandemic Boom

After the pandemic sent us into lockdown a year ago — God, only a year? — we evidently got bored and collectively started browsing Zillow on our phones, because North Carolina home sales jumped 11% in 2020, and median prices rose 10%, WRAL reports.

  • It was mostly the same story in the Triangle: Home sales up 9%, prices up about 6%.

  • Wake: sales up 7%, prices up 7%. Durham: sales up 4%, prices up 7%. Orange: sales down 2%, prices up 4%. Johnston: sales up 15%, prices up 6%.

  • What’s happening? Low interest rates, tight inventory — in other words, high demand, low supply. And priorities are changing.

  • “Kacy and Emily Fortner said they moved back to North Carolina from the San Francisco area not just because they could work their tech jobs from anywhere. They could buy a home in Durham for half the rent they paid in California and get twice the size.”

  • Last week, I walked by a cute house in my neighborhood with a “Coming Soon” sign out front and made a mental note to check it out when it hit the market. This weekend, that same house had a sign that said, “Sold Before Listed on MLS.”

It could have been worse: It’s not just the housing market. Many of the dire economic predictions made at the onset of the pandemic didn’t come to fruition. For that, you can thank the massive government intervention. Somewhere up there, Keynes is smiling.

  • “One big reason: $600-a-week federal supplements that allowed people to keep spending — and states to keep collecting sales tax revenue — even when they were jobless, along with the usual state unemployment benefits.” (NYT)

  • Nationwide, state tax collections were basically flat from 2019 to 2020, which Republicans have said negates the need for aid to local and state governments in President Biden’s COVID relief bill.

  • Maybe not: “Averaging the states’ revenues — the J.P. Morgan report used weighted averages to show that revenues last year were down just 0.06 percent from 2019 — can mask the pain of the states whose tax collections have not yet rebounded. And focusing just on state revenue collection glosses over the weakness of local governments, which administer many social services under state administration.”

  • North Carolina’s tax revenue grew 2.1%, outpacing Georgia (1.9%), South Carolina (1.7%), Tennessee (-1.3%), and Florida (-11.3%), all of which rushed to reopen their economies. (Florida’s tourism economy was bound to be decimated in any event.)

  • The hardest-hit states: Alaska (-42.5%), North Dakota (-14.8%), Nevada (-11.8%), Florida, Oregon (-10.5%), and Texas (-10.4%).

3. After Black Lives Matter Protests, Cops Shoot Fewer People

If you ever wonder if protesting does any good, well, here you go: A new study shows that “places with Black Lives Matter protests experience a 15% to 20% decrease in police homicides over the ensuing five years …. The gap in lethal use-of-force between places with and without protests widens over these subsequent years and is most prominent when protests are large or frequent.”

  • Aldon Morris, Northwestern University sociologist: “The data show very clearly that where you had Black Lives Matter protests, killing of people by the police decreased. It’s inescapable from this study that protest matters — that it can generate change.” (Scientific American)

  • “The occurrence of local protests increased the likelihood of police departments adopting body-worn cameras and community-policing initiatives, the study also found.”

  • The study estimates that BLM protests between 2014 and 2019 saved 300 lives. Importantly, it found that police homicides declined by 16.8% in cities with BLM protests compared to cities without them. The effect is not universal: Police killings in Minneapolis, Portland, St. Louis, and San Francisco rose.

  • “BLM protests may have this effect because they push police departments to adopt reforms such as body cams or community policing, as the study found. Another reason may be that the protests affect police morale, causing officers to adopt a less aggressive patrolling posture that reduces police-civilian interactions in general.”