Morning Headlines: Tuesday, December 15, 2015
North Carolina's County Tier Rankings Could Be On Way Out
The General Assembly's government watchdog agency says North Carolina should do away with how it sorts its 100 counties into three tiers based on economic prosperity because it doesn't help poor areas enough.
The Program Evaluation Division presented findings Monday to a legislative committee. Members agreed a bill should be written that would phase out the tiered system by 2018 and a commission created to study how to better target distressed areas.
Counties are sorted annually into tiers of 40, 40 and 20 counties based on economic ranks, population and poverty. Amounts of public aid counties receive are based on the tiers. The division's study found middle-tiered counties benefit the most, while poverty pockets in affluent counties get ignored.
County rankings go back to the 1980s.
Greensboro Council Wrapping Up 2015
The Greensboro City Council has more than 30 items on its meeting agenda Tuesday night as they tie up some loose ends for this year and look ahead to next.
They’ll also hear from Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott.
Chief Scott is scheduled to deliver an update to the council on the stop order he issued last month on minor vehicle infractions. The order came in the wake of a New York Times expose about major disparities in the way the police department handles race in traffic stops.
Scott is also supposed to deliver some additional crime statistics and context in his presentation.
Meanwhile, the council is expected to vote on changes to the Complaint Review Committee, which handles residents’ grievances with members of the police department.
Other issues on the agenda include voting on a bid to bring a minor league NBA team to town, renewing contracts with service providers, and a vote on building a skate park to serve Greensboro’s kids.
Forsyth County To Study Courthouse Needs
Forsyth County Commissioners will vote next week on whether to authorize a study of space needs in the county courthouse.The study could determine whether the courthouse needs to be renovated or replaced.
Forsyth’s courthouse dates to the 1970s, and court officials say they’re out of room.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that County commissioners will consider a proposal to spend more than $100,000 to study the issue. Supporters of the study say it will help commissioners address the space problem. Options include renovations or new construction.
If approved, the new study would update a previous one done six years ago. At the time, the economy was struggling and the commissioners did not take any action.
That earlier study estimated that renovating the current courthouse would cost about $82 million.
Ken Spaulding Officially Files For North Carolina Governor
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ken Spaulding says he's got a track record of creating jobs and economic opportunity and that party rival Roy Cooper has failed to protect public schools by defending bad laws in court.
Spaulding officially filed as a candidate Monday at the State Board of Elections. The Durham attorney and former state legislator and transportation board member announced his bid for governor in 2016 over two years ago.
Spaulding told reporters after turning in his notice he would work to bring jobs to all regions of the state. He also accused Attorney General Cooper of aligning himself with Republican Gov. Pat McCrory because lawyers in Cooper's office defended GOP laws ending teacher job protections and creating taxpayer-funded grants for children to attend private schools.
Traffic Stop Of Black Legislator Prompts Recriminations
The North Carolina Troopers Association is criticizing a state representative who said race played a role in a traffic stop that resulted in a seat-belt citation.
Rep. Cecil Brockman, who is black, says in an interview that the traffic stop on Nov. 30 by multiple troopers fits a pattern of minorities treated with inordinate suspicion.
The stop is captured on dashboard video obtained by Charlotte television station WBTV.
Brockman is heard on the video telling two troopers that he was angry and suggesting he wouldn't have been cited if he were a white lawmaker.
The president of the Troopers Association, Sgt. Danny Jenkins, accused Brockman of trying to use his position to bully troopers and avoid a citation. The association asked its supporters to demand Brockman's resignation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.