These Pearls Won’t Clutch Themselves

Fri., Oct. 1: The N&O vs. NCDP Twitter vs. NCGOP consultant + NC Courage coach/alleged perv is out + NC’s (temporary?) decarceration + LG Robinson on non-Christians + Jagger in CLT

Before we begin: On Wednesday, when I dug into the FBI’s new data dump to write about crime and clearance rates, I mentioned that the numbers from the Raleigh Police Department looked wonky and I’d asked for an explanation but hadn’t yet gotten one.

Later that day, RPD spokeswoman Donna-maria Harris told me in an email:

The information that comes from the RPD will be the most accurate. The information that is reported to the FBI starts as an automated file transfer from the RPD report writing system which goes to the SBI. Over the last several years, the information had to then be altered so that it would meet the old FBI-UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) reporting guidelines before the SBI finally sent the information to the FBI. When this process happens there are reports that do not fit into their guidelines and are rejected for a variety of reasons or moved into different categories both by the SBI and eventually by the FBI.

Raleigh Police Department has been using the NIBRS (National Incident-Based Reporting System) reporting system since 2014. The FBI is requiring all police departments to switch to NIBRS this year (2021). This should make the transfer of data less prone to alteration but in the end, the automated transfer of data will almost never be as accurate as that which comes from the RPD.

I asked Harris what effect that had on clearance rates. Yesterday, she sent me a spreadsheet containing the RPD’s homicide clearance rates for 2019, 2020 (through September), and YTD 2021.

  • 2019: 24 closed, 5 open, 83% cleared

  • 2020 (through Sept. 12): 20 closed, 2 open, 91% cleared (Raleigh ended the year with 28 homicides)

  • YTD 2021: 22 closed, 5 open, 81% cleared

  • The incomplete 2020 data aside, those clearance rates are much, much higher than what the FBI reported. I asked Harris if RPD had updated rates for other violent crimes. She hasn’t yet responded. I’ll post them if and when she does.


1. NC Dems Were Mean on Twitter :(

In 2014, a Republican political operative named Larry Shaheen got busted for DUI. When he waded into the #ncpol Twitter wars back in August, the North Carolina House Democrats pulled out his mugshot.

Classy? No. Funny? Also no. And it stepped all over the kinda-snappy retort that preceeded it.

Clearly proud of themselves, whoever was running the NC Dems account went back to that well on Tuesday.

It didn’t work any better this time. It did, however, succeed in annoying several members of the caucus, including Rep. Allison Dahle, who called out the tweet, which has since been deleted. That generated a story in The News & Observer, which generated an outraged editorial in The News & Observer (and The Charlotte Observer), which generated a triumphant tweet from Larry Sheehan.

Time is a flat circle, I spend too much of my life on Twitter, and this was definitely something worth two days of #ncpol pearl-clutching.

2. NC Courage Dump (Allegedly) Pervy Coach

On Thursday morning, The Athletic reported that multiple former players had accused Paul Riley, the coach of the NC Courage soccer team, of sexual coercion. By Thursday afternoon, the Courage had canned him.

Since The Athletic is one of the few sites I don’t have a subscription to, here’s WUNC’s write-up of the accusations:

Reporters of the piece say they spoke with more than a dozen players representing every team Riley has coached since 2010, and 10 other sources within women’s soccer. Sinead Farrelly and Meleana Shim spoke on the record with the Athletic, claiming Riley coerced them into sex and sexual acts when they played for clubs he coached in Philadelphia, Long Island and Portland. …

In an email to the Athletic, Riley said the majority of the allegations were “completely untrue” and he added, “I have never had sex with, or made sexual advances towards these players.”

3. NC Incarceration Rates Decline

Last week, The Marshall Project reported that national incarceration rates had declined from 2010 to 2020, according to the latest Census.

Nearly two million adults were incarcerated across the country, according to the 2020 Decennial Census. The latest figures show a 13% drop in the total number of incarcerated people, or nearly 300,000 fewer people, compared with the 2010 Census.

As part of that report, TMR compiled a database of the number of adults living in correctional facilities—including immigration detention centers, federal and state prisons, local jails, halfway houses, and military prisons—per county in 2020, 2010, and 2000.

That database shows that the number of incarcerated people in North Carolina has declined both in raw terms (59,099 in 2020 vs. 61,680 in 2010) and as a proportion of the population.

  • 2020: 566 inmates per 100,000 population

  • 2010: 647 inmates per 100,000 population

  • 2000: 579 inmates per 100,000 population

Some of the decline might be due to the pandemic, The Marshall Project reported:

Experts say that a combination of factors contributed to this decrease: The court system and parole offices slowed down as they moved operations online, which has reduced the number of people who were sentenced or caught up in parole violations. In many jurisdictions, police departments also cut back on proactive tactics, such as traffic stops, and the number of drug crimes dropped significantly. Some prison and jail officials also rushed to empty out facilities to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks.

Had the census been taking a few months later, the rate likely would have been lower.

If the Census was held later in the year, for example, it might have shown a more substantial drop. The Marshall Project’s COVID-19 tracker showed state and federal prisons had 100,000 fewer prisoners in June 2020 than in April, when the census was taken. Another study estimated that from mid-year 2019 to mid-year 2020, county jails nationwide had 185,000 fewer people.

I went through the state’s six most populous counties, as well. Of course, their incarceration rates aren’t entirely within their control. Wake County hosts Central Prison, while Durham County contains part of a federal facility.

  • All rates are per 100,000 population.

  • If I’d had more time, I would have made visuals. Sorry it’s not pretty.

Wake County

  • 2020: 357

  • 2010: 397

  • 2000: 510

Mecklenburg County

  • 2020: 142

  • 2010: 254

  • 2000: 310

Guilford County

  • 2020: 164

  • 2010: 203

  • 2000: 133

Forsyth County

  • 2020: 238

  • 2010: 291

  • 2000: 359

Cumberland County

  • 2020: 159

  • 2010: 170

  • 2000: 128

Durham County

  • 2020: 849

  • 2010: 281

  • 2000: 302

The drop may not be long-lived. Already, inmate populations have begun to rise as the pandemic waned, according to a report from the Vera Institute for Justice.

4. Lt. Gov. Robinson Has Thoughts About Non-Christians

It’s been a solid month since Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson made news for being controversial. So here he is addressing a church in White Lake, North Carolina.

If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, the liberal group Right Wing Watch captures the relevant portion, in which Robinson criticizes Harvard for hiring an atheist to be the head of its chaplain organization.

“This man has no wisdom,” Robinson says.

As NC Insider’s Brian Murphy points out, “It sounds like more than a theological argument that he's making. … Does he have a religious test for hiring in his office?”

If you skip the rest of the video, you’ll miss Robinson’s kickoff, in which he says a trans woman’s decision to transition is an example of “progressively sliding into the depths of hell,” and the part where he blames the “godless people” who are “defunding the police”—no place in North Carolina has defunded the police—and pandemic-related school closures for increased gang violence.

  • “Who’s watching you defund the police? The criminals are watching you defund the police.”

  • “Your children are not in school because of COVID. Who are [the gangs] recruiting?”

  • “This doesn’t happen by accident. It doesn’t even really happen because of bad political decisions. It happens because the people of God have turned their back on their responsibilities to the schools, to politics, to society in general.”

  • That’s all in the first third. He goes on to criticize schools for not making students pray, pastors for following COVID protocols, and encourages Christians not to be “spineless”—“Moses did not try to make friends with Pharoah.”

  • Whatever you think of his politics (or his theology), he’s a very effective speaker in this setting.

5. No One Noticed Mick Jagger in Charlotte

The Rolling Stones legend was apparently chilling outside of a bar in the Queen City last night, but no one recognized him.

The Stones—minus the now-late drummer, of course—played in CLT last night, so Jagger’s presence made sense.

Jeremy Markovich, who writes the always clever Rabbit Hole, tried to figure out how the hell no one noticed Mick Freaking Jagger hanging out at a low-key Charlotte dive. He came up empty.

It’s also safe to say that nobody else in the bar last night recognized him in the moment. I did a thorough search through social media last night. Nothing came up. Zilch. Nobody had any idea until 8:33 a.m. this morning.

I threw Jagger’s picture into Photoshop and lightened it up, looking for clues.

Seriously. I’ve stared at this picture of a solitary man, drinking a beer alone, while everyone carries on around him, for a good long time today.

You know who else has been staring at it? Brian Wilson. The guy who owns the bar. A guy who also had no idea that Mick Jagger came in for a beer last night. …

We’re also unsure because Brian thinks Mick Jagger paid cash. “I went through the credit card receipts to see if I had a Mick Jagger signature anywhere,” he says. Alas, he did not. “That would have gone up on the wall.”

Now, don’t judge. Don’t say “you know what, if I would have been there, I would have recognized Mick Jagger.” Because chances are, you would not have. Ten people had a chance to say “Hey, are you Mick Jagger?” or, more likely, whisper to their friends, Hey, I think that might be Mick Jagger over there. Or, most likely, they would have taken a dark, blurry picture of Mick Jagger and posted it somewhere online. Which did not happen.

On another note: I, not being up to speed on all things Charlotte, did not realize that the Thirsty Beaver is a resolute holdout in the all-consuming rush to turn everything into a midrise apartment.

As Axios Charlotte reported in March:

In the 346 days the Thirsty Beaver was closed, Brian Wilson received countless calls and texts from regulars who were worried about the bar’s future.

They offered cash—or what about a GoFundMe?, some suggested—to make sure their favorite bar survived.

The big picture: Thirsty Beaver is back, and there’s “no chance at all” of it closing, Brian says. “We’ve been through too much to let something like this knock it down.”

Background: The tiny 13-year-old dive bar rose quickly to local legend status after the building owner declined multiple offers from a developer to sell to make room for apartments.