Morning Headlines: Tuesday, January 5, 2016
McCrory Among Speakers Planned At Pro-Bond Kickoff Rally
North Carolina political and business notables urging public approval of a $2 billion bond question are gathering to draw attention to the projects built through the debt.
A pro-bond kickoff rally was set forTuesday at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Gov. Pat McCrory, state Sen. Dan Blue and other committee leaders were scheduled to speak.
The legislature agreed last fall to put the bond question on the March 15 primary ballot. It's the first such statewide referendum since 2000.
More than $1.3 billion of the debt would go to higher education construction projects. But there would also be money for water and sewer infrastructure, state parks, the National Guard and the North Carolina Zoo.
No formal opposition to the bonds has surfaced.
North Carolina Presidential Primary: Candidates On Ballot Now Being Firmed Up
North Carolina has a presidential primary in just a little over two months and election officials are firming up which presidential candidates will be on the ballots.
The State Board of Elections was slated to meet today to approve the lists of Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians for the March 15 primary.
Each party gave the board a slate of presidential candidates that totaled 28 names. State law directs party leaders to provide names of candidates whose candidacies are "generally advocated and recognized in the news media" throughout the country or in North Carolina.
Some candidates may be removed from the final lists because they are no longer running. California businessman Rocky De La Fuente may be added to the Democratic ballots because he's collected signatures through the petition process.
UNC President Steps Down
The head of the University of North Carolina system has officially stepped down.
Tom Ross spent five years as U-N-C president. His last day was Sunday.
Ross is leaving the office sooner than he would have liked however, after a change in the system’s Board of Governors forced him out.
Ross is a Democrat, while the new board is dominated by Republicans reportedly hoping for more influence in governing the system.
Some students and faculty have attacked the dismissal as a political move.
U-N-C’s new president is former U-S Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. She takes over the job in March.
Winston-Salem Officer Recovering After Traffic Stop Shooting
Authorities say a Winston-Salem police officer is recovering from multiple gunshot wounds after a traffic stop led to a struggle with a motorist.
Police Chief Barry Rountree said 27-year-old Officer Nicholas Wayne Powell was shot around 2 a.m. Monday after he and another officer tried to investigate the smell of marijuana from a car stopped for speeding. Rountree said three men exited the vehicle, but 26-year-old Gary Lynn got back in and dragged Powell about a quarter-mile as they struggled inside the car.
Police say Lynn shot the officer and a bullet to the chest was stopped by Powell's protective vest. His wounds are not believed to be life-threatening.
Lynn was charged with attempted first-degree murder, fleeing and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Embattled Hickory Public Housing Agency Could Be Abolished
According to newly released documents, Hickory City Council is considering disbanding the city's public housing agency following accusations that officials sexually harassed tenants, misspent taxpayer money and failed to properly monitor finances.
The Charlotte Observer reports letters from Hickory Public Housing Authority Chairman Sidney Myles say city officials have moved to disband the agency.
City Council members will meet Tuesday to discuss plans for the Housing Authority. Under city rules, the panel has the power to abolish the housing agency and form a new organization.
Myles harshly criticized the plan, suggesting that race has played a role in the city's decision-making. Mayor Rudy Wright says race has not been a factor.
The agency uses a $5 million annual budget and 15 employees to provide affordable housing to the poor.
Officials Say Confederate Graves Vandalized In Raleigh
Officials say vandals spray-painted graffiti on nine monuments inside a section of Raleigh's Historic Oakwood Cemetery where numerous Confederate Army officers are buried.
Authorities say the vandals mostly damaged the graves of high-ranking Confederate officers, but also defaced the stone of North Carolina Gov. Charles Aycock, whose racial views in the early 1900s have found increasing criticism.
Cemetery Executive Director Robin Simonton said in a news release that the vandals caused roughly $20,000 in damage on Wednesday night by spray-painting words such as "slavery," ''not heroes" and "white supremacist" on the markers.
Simonton says tarps are now covering the damaged headstones.
Though private, Oakwood Cemetery is open to the public and can be accessed by pedestrians even when the front gate is locked.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.