Daily dose

FAA delays airport tower closures that would affect Concord, Hickory (Charlotte Observer) -- The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that it will delay planned closures of control towers for two months at airports in Concord, Hickory and 147 other cities across the country.

FAA delays shutdown of airport control towers in N.C., nationwide (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Acknowledging safety concerns, the FAA postpones until June 15 a plan to close air traffic control towers at 149 smaller airports across the country. The Kinston airport tower had been scheduled to close Sunday, followed in a few weeks by four more in North Carolina.

Judges hearing NC redistricting seek more briefs (AP) — The three-judge panel deciding the legality of North Carolina's latest boundaries for congressional and General Assembly districts wants lawyers to provide more information.

Warren apologizes for embarrassment (Salisbury Post) -- N.C. Rep. Harry Warren (R-Salisbury) criticized the news media and said Thursday he regrets any embarrassment caused by a religious resolution that swept Rowan County into a national firestorm earlier this week. “I regret any embarrassment or concern that it has caused the citizens of Rowan County and North Carolina, but it was not intended to do that,” he said. Warren said the resolution — which was effectively killed in its first committee hearing Thursday — was intended only to support Rowan County commissioners in their sectarian prayer lawsuit. But wording in the resolution, penned by Kings Mountain city councilman Keith Miller, led critics to accuse Warren and primary co-sponsor Carl Ford (R-China Grove) with attempting to establish a state religion. “Due to the fact that it was poorly written and had language that was ambiguous,” Warren said, “it lent itself to misinterpretation.” “I was truly amazed at how viral this thing went,” Warren said, noting he had a message from a British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent Thursday afternoon. “Even more appalling was that ... our news media, nationally, absolutely refused — or failed to investigate — something that they were reporting on,” he said.

Tillis: Religion resolution well-intended, but one little problem -- unconstitutional (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Speaker Thom Tillis said Friday the ill-fated and embarrassing “religion resolution” filed in the House this week was “well-intentioned” BUT it had “lots of technical problems – not the least of which was one of the provisions was unconstitutional.” Tillis, speaking on Bill LuMaye’s program on WPTF, said there are better ways to accomplish what the resolution’s primary sponsors were trying to do, which was express support for the Rowan County Board of Commissioners in their lawsuit with the ACLU over saying a Christian prayer at the beginning of each meeting.

Fee for voter ID might be unconstitutional (WRAL-TV) -- Some legal experts say charging people for photo identification cards in order to vote in North Carolina might violate the state constitution.

$1 Leases (the insider) -- As the House now considers legislation to terminate a lease for the 325-acre Dorothea Dix property that would have been far more lucrative for the state, an analysis by The Insider shows that out of 520 properties the state leases out, 265, or just more than half, cost $1 or less per year.

Legislative proposal would allow firearms at schools (Fayetteville Observer) -- North Carolina legislators are considering a bill that would allow a person with a concealed handgun permit to bring a gun to a school campus, as long as it is stored in a container in the owner's locked vehicle.

Supporters say restaurant inspection bill badly worded (WRAL-TV) -- Local health directors say a Senate bill that seeks to ease restaurant inspection requirements could compromise the safety inspections, but supporters of the legislation argue it's simply a misunderstanding.

NC senator pushes tougher divorce law (AP) — A bill in the North Carolina Senate would require longer waits and new requirements for married couples calling it quits.

Goolsby Defends Potential Racial Justice Act Repeal (WUNC-FM) – This week the North Carolina Senate voted along party lines to repeal the Racial Justice Act. Also in the legislation are measures designed to restart executions, which have been unofficially on hold in the state since 2006. Critics contend that eliminating the Racial Justice Act will prevent those unfairly sentenced to death because of racial bias from getting justice. More than 150 people in the state are awaiting execution.

Senate GOP targets more environmental regulations (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Another round of shaving environmental regulations is proposed in a bill introduced by a group of Republican state senators this week. SB612 would do several things, including: Prohibit cities and counties from enacting ordinances that are more stringent than state or federal regulations. Eliminate riparian buffer protections that prohibit development on private property along the Neuse River and the Tar-Pamlico River basins. Fast-track some stormwater management system permits, and erosion and sedimentation control plans. Extend water and air quality permits from eight years to 10 years, and allow third parties to contest state regulators’ decisions.

Law would hike fees for public records (Wilson Times) -- Officials could charge citizens $7.25 per hour to copy public records under a proposed law that seeks to recoup the costs of time-consuming records requests.

N.C. Senate bill calls for uniform ferry tolls (Wilmington Star-News) -- The legislation doesn't oppose the upcoming increase and new tolls on the seven eastern North Carolina ferry routes.

State introduces education bills (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The North Carolina legislature recently introduced a number of education-related bills ranging from erasing teacher tenure to increasing student safety.

A Dog’s Best Friend (in Raleigh): Steinburg visits pit bulls (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- As a new state legislator, Bob Steinburg is getting used to meeting with tough crowds.

Cook bill ties college voting, taxes (Elizabeth City Daily Advance) -- Allowing your college-enrolled child to register to vote in the place where he goes to school could cost you as much as $2,500 on your state income taxes.

McCrory appointee raised $106,000 for campaign (AP) — A newly sworn-in North Carolina Board of Transportation member raised more than $100,000 for Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Gov. McCrory appoints fundraiser to board after campaign pledge not to (Raleigh News & Observer) --During his first campaign for governor in 2008, Republican Pat McCrory hammered his opponent, Bev Perdue, on her ties to major Democratic Party fundraisers on the state Board of Transportation. McCrory vowed repeatedly in 2008 that he would never appoint his campaign fundraisers

More than two dozen UNC System degree programs face the ax (NEWS14-TV) -- Public universities across the state could lose more than two dozen low-performing degree programs. The Board of Governor's biennial review reveals more than 10 percent of all UNC System degree programs are low productive. Over the last five years the UNC System has already cut more than 300 low-performing programs, but some lawmakers feel more cuts may need to occur. Governor Pat McCrory is proposing to slash more than more than $140 million from the state's public university system budget over the next two years, prompting public universities across the state to examine each program they offer to ensure they're operating efficiently. "It becomes even more critical when the magnitude of the cuts is large and has been repeated over a number of years," said Suzanne Ortega, the UNC System's Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Officals blast McCrory budget (Red Springs Citizen) -- Gov. Pat McCrory’s plan to cut funding to programs that aid rural development will be “devastating” to Red Springs, according to Mayor John McNeill, and could mean higher water bills for residents. “Everybody says the government has to cut back well, they’ve cut back,” McNeill said. “… So much of what’s in McCrory’s budget is going to be devastating not only to Red Springs, but to Robeson County.” In his proposed $20.6 billion budget for the next two fiscal years, the Republican governor is calling for cuts to the budgets of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, which provide grants and loans that help rural counties that are economically stressed — such as Robeson County — and that $10 million of the center’s funds for the next two years be turned over to the state’s General Fund.

Charlotte Mayor Foxx will not seek re-election (AP) — Mayor Anthony Foxx, considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, said Friday he would not run for re-election, but he didn't indicate what he planned to do next.

New report shows NC banks getting healthier (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Eighty percent of state-chartered banks across North Carolina made money last year, up from 46 percent during the depths of the recession in 2009, according to a new report.

Familiar names floated among potential mayoral candidates (Charlotte Observer) -- A list of potential candidates for Charlotte mayor emerged Friday within hours of Mayor Anthony Foxx’s sudden announcement that he won’t seek re-election.

NRA outmaneuvers gun-control advocates (Washington Post) -- While the group has suffered some setbacks, the NRA’s reemerging clout on Capitol Hill underscores how it has effectively deployed a sophisticated and disciplined strategy for turning back the post-Newtown tilt toward gun control.

Durham deputies raid illegal sweepstakes cafe (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Sheriff’s investigators raided an illegal sweepstakes café Friday after an investigation determined the establishment was in violation of North Carolina law regulating electronic gambling.

Judge says worker not guilty of sweepstakes charge (AP) — A judge's ruling in a Catawba County sweepstakes cafe case is giving hope to operators in their battle to stay open in North Carolina.

Judge finds for sweepstakes employee (WRAL-TV) -- The ruling is a bit of good news for an industry that has faced a hostile law enforcement environment.

Sen. Hagan Receives 40K Gun Reform Petitions (WFMY-TV) -- "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" are taking the next step toward taking a stand against gun violence. On Friday, Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins and concerned citizens delivered 39,259 gun reform petitions to Sen. Kay Hagan's office. Supporters are calling for Congress to enforce stricter background checks and pass tougher gun laws.

Job Growth Slows to a Trickle (Wall Street Journal) -- U.S. employers added jobs at the slowest pace in nine months in March, suggesting weakening economic growth as higher taxes and government spending cuts start to have an impact.

N.C. charter school oversight plan does not include ‘best practices,’ expert says (McClatchy Newspapers) -- A national organization devoted to oversight of charter schools says North Carolina is missing an opportunity by proposing to set up a new charter school commission without insisting that it follow best practices.

Claude Pope announces more support from NC GOP bid (AP) — A candidate for North Carolina's Republican Party chairman is seeking to build momentum by rolling out more endorsements.

Former FCC Chief of Staff Levin: Time Warner will be a better company (Triangle Business Journal) -- Blair Levin, former FCC chief of staff and current Gig.U president, says that Time Warner Cable’s proposed involvement with the North Carolina Next Generation

Greensboro mayor declares bankruptcy (Greensboro News & Record) -- Perkins is a partner at NAI Piedmont Triad, a real estate firm that has suffered in the recession, and has been in a prolonged legal battle with his estranged wife, Carole Perkins.

Lancaster, Kissell join Fix the Debt effort (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Former Democratic Congressmen Martin Lancaster and Larry Kissell are lending their names to the Fix the Debt campaign that is seeking to pressure Congress to take major steps to overhaul programs such as Social Security and Medicare and other entitlements to address the question of the national debt. “We are honored to have former Representatives Lancaster and Kissell join our campaign for a strong economy,'' said Bob Ingram, the co-chair of the state Fix the Debt campaign.

Anti-drone protesters to hold Fort Bragg vigil (AP) -- An anti-war group is organizing a Fort Bragg protest against a new weapon — missile-equipped unmanned aircraft.

Judge approves $2.43B Bank of America settlement (AP) — A New York judge has approved Bank of America's $2.43 billion settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by shareholders over the company's acquisition of former competitor Merrill Lynch.

New App To Aid Teen Drivers & Their Parents (WUNC-FM) -- Teaching a teenager to drive can be a scary experience for both teens and parents. But a new iPhone app developed by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center and the Center for the Study of Young Drivers aims to lessen that anxiety by helping teens and parents log driving time and meet driving goals before the teen applies for a driver’s license. The app is called Time to Drive, and it’s rooted in research showing that many teens do not receive adequate driving practice in a variety of potentially challenging conditions, such as on interstates, at night, in heavy traffic, or in poor weather. The app can monitor driving time and keep track of road conditions and routes, allowing parents and teens to meet certain driving goals during the learning process.

Davidson College students host fundraiser for aid (AP) -- Students at Davidson College are inviting the public to help their effort to raise funds for the school's financial aid programs.

Raleigh retreat offers introduction to yoga (AP) -- A retreat in Raleigh could leave those who attend with a peaceful feeling.

Chocowinity principal best in state (Washington Daily News) -- Chocowinity Middle School Principal Dale Cole was named the 2013 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year.

Funeral is Monday for newspaper editor and columnist Roy Parker Jr. (Fayetteville Observer) -- A funeral for Roy Parker Jr., a longtime newspaperman and historian, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Kinston field could become state’s latest solar farm (Kinston Free Press) -- An energy company wants to turn a Rouse Road field into a solar farm. Not everyone is seeing the light.

O2 Energies withdraws plan for challenged solar project (Charlotte Business Journal) -- O2 Energies has withdrawn its proposal for a 3.5-megawatt solar farm in Surry County, citing the drawn-out regulatory proceedings.

New Emissions Standards Could Make Natural Gas Cheaper Than Coal (WUNC-FM) -- A new study from Duke University says new air quality standards could spur a shift away from coal power to natural gas as a means of generating electricity. A natural gas boom has already made it almost as cheap as coal to turn into electricity, but when researchers factored in new emissions standards from the Environmental Protection Agency, they found that most coal electricity will become as expensive as gas, even if gas prices rise.

New air rules would hurt coal power, study says (Charlotte Observer) -- Tougher federal air standards could further tilt U.S. electric power away from coal fuel and toward natural gas, says a Duke University study published online this week. Utilities including Duke Energy are fast moving toward gas as prices drop, retiring older coal-burning plants rather than fit them with new pollution controls.

Senate GOP targets more environmental regulations (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Another round of shaving environmental regulations is proposed in a bill introduced by a group of Republican state senators this week. SB612 would do several things, including: Prohibit cities and counties from enacting ordinances that are more stringent than state or federal regulations. Eliminate riparian buffer protections that prohibit development on private property along the Neuse River and the Tar-Pamlico River basins. Fast-track some stormwater management system permits, and erosion and sedimentation control plans. Extend water and air quality permits from eight years to 10 years, and allow third parties to contest state regulators’ decisions.

Hydroelectric Facility Nixed for Falls Lake Dam (Raleigh Public Record) -- The city dropped a hydroelectric facility project at Falls Lake because it wasn’t economically viable.

NC fishing tournament targets lionfish, an unwanted guest in coastal waters (Raleigh News & Observer) -- The first annual "If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em" spearfishing tournament that starts next month aims to educate the public about lionfish, a delicious but rarely eaten invasive species off the North Carolina coast,

Dredging for Oregon Inlet in North Carolina funded (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated $8.95 million to clearing Oregon Inlet. The funding comes from $742 million in federal funding to repair damages done by Hurricane Sandy last fall, Catherine Fodor, spokeswoman for Rep. Walter Jones, R-NC, said in a release. Jones worked with the Corps of Engineers to secure the Oregon Inlet funding, according to the release.

Why North Carolina can't have its own official church (Los Angeles Times column) -- In recent days my Facebook feed has been littered with links to stories about a bill in the North Carolina Legislature that would allow the state to establish its own religion. Here was another example, my outraged friends said, of Bible Belt cluelessness. Where did these yahoos get the idea that, as the proposed resolution put it, that “the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion”? Staunch separationists can relax. The Rowan County Defense of Religion Act of 2013 isn’t going to be put to a vote, according to the speaker of the state House. But before the story recedes from public view, it’s worth noting that, while the sponsors of the law were out of line, their position was not the legal equivalent of creationism or climate-change denial. … Their legislation was as much a waste of time as bills at the state level that aim to prohibit abortion in violation of Roe vs. Wade. But what made their resolution an absurd exercise wasn’t that its interpretation of the Establishment Clause was ridiculous as matter of logic or history; it was that it attempted to upend a well-established contrary interpretation by the Supreme Court.

Ways N.C. GOP is Trying to Make it Harder to Vote (The Nation) -- The voter suppression efforts that spread nationwide during the last election have continued in 2013. Seventy-five new voting restrictions have been introduced in thirty states so far in 2013, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Among all the states, North Carolina, which elected a Republican legislature in 2010 for the first time since the McKinley administration and a Republican governor in 2012, is currently taking voter suppression to brazen new extreme. North Carolina Republicans have introduced a series of bills in the legislature that would require state-issued photo ID to cast a ballot, drastically cut early voting, eliminate same-day voter registration, end straight-ticket voting, penalize families of students who register to vote where they go to college, rescind the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, and ban “incompetent” voters from the polls. The legislation has been dubbed the "Screw the Voter Act of 2013” and "The Longer Lines to Vote Bill." The goal is to make this racially integrated swing state a solidly red bastion for the next decade and beyond. Here are the seven ways that North Carolina Republicans are trying to make it harder to vote:

Arrogance gone amuck (Baptists Today) -- t's a hard time to be a North Carolinian if you have a single progressive bone in your body The NC legislature, with firm Republican majorities in both houses and a Republican governor in the capitol, is running amuck with bad ideas. There's a new voter ID bill, for example, to address a problem that doesn't exist. It doesn't take a genius to know that the bill's primary purpose is to make it more difficult for population groups more likely to vote for Democrats to get to the polls, cementing Republican control of their already-gerrymandered districts. Legislators are also working to repeal the Racial Justice Act, which calls for a review of death penalty cases in which it can be shown that race played a role in the final decision. The senate has already voted to repeal the act, showing a hard-hearted and racist-tinged cynicism that fails to recognize that black defendants have been far more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants. The most egregiously ridiculous of recent moves, however, was a resolution by two Rowan County legislators -- cosigned by 11 others -- asserting that North Carolina has the right to establish a state religion. The resolution was a reaction to a lawsuit against the practice of regularly opening Rowan County Commission meetings with specifically Christian prayers. Sponsors said they just wanted to support the Rowan County Commissioners and never intended to establish a state religion, but the text of the resolution clearly claimed that that they could.

Roy Parker Jr., 1930-2013 (UNC-JOMC) -- Knight Chair in Digital Media and Economics Penny Abernathy remembers Roy Parker Jr., a 1952 Carolina J-school grad and 1999 N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, in this letter to the faculty – Folks: Roy Parker Jr. — founding editor of The Fayetteville Times, 1952 graduate of the School of Journalism and N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame inductee in 1999 — died yesterday (April 3). I found out right before class last night via a 6 o’clock phone call from Seth Effron '74, who picked it up from a Twitter post. Roy would like that!

Roy Parker Jr. (Talking About Politics) -- I admired Roy Parker Jr. so much I almost moved to Fayetteville. Roy, who died this week, was one of North Carolina’s great reporters and editors. He was founding editor of the Fayetteville Times. Back in the 1960s, he was a political reporter at The News & Observer – and a classic newsroom character. Terse and sardonic, Roy would stalk in late in the day and go into a manic two-fingered typing trance, turning out page after page of copy. He had more sources and more scoops than any reporter in Raleigh.

What made Roy run? Progress, mostly (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Roy was almost always on the move, usually toward the door.

The best political movies ever (Washington Post Column) -- Following our list of the best political books – fiction and non fiction — there was a demand to put together a similar list of the best political movies. The two leading vote-getters were “The Candidate“, the 1972 film starring Robert Redford and 1992′s “Bob Roberts” with Tim Robbins in the lead role. Among documentaries “Street Fight“, which detailed the epic 2002 Newark mayoral race between Sharpe James and Cory Booker was the clear favorite. The full list, which was culled from emails, tweets and comments, is below in alphabetical order.

Legacy in glass (Raleigh News & Observer) -- Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt has a living legacy in the Hunt Library at N.C. State University, on the modern Centennial Campus. It’s more than a tribute. Students will use the building for research and multimedia study, along with scientific experiments of a sort.

Latest voter ID proposal answers some of critics’ concerns (Wilmington Star-News) -- They listened, sort of. It’s clear from the most recent voter ID bill, at least, that Republican Honorables heard some of what critics were saying.

Oppose bill on death penalty (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Recently proposed Senate Bill 306, which would resume executions in North Carolina and abandon the Racial Justice Act, is a terrible bill and I urge everyone to oppose it.

Voting rights, voting wrongs (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Republican efforts in the General Assembly to rig future North Carolina elections by suppressing voter turnout are moving ahead on two fronts.