Good morning, everyone. Hope you made it survived the winter storm intact. Let’s jump right into today’s headlines:
1. Voter ID heads back to court. The General Assembly’s not-at-all cynical effort to make it harder for, um, some people to vote heads back before a judge in a trial starting this morning. The wrinkle is that, while the 2013 law was and remains among the most restrictive in the nation, last year, to get around this very lawsuit, the Legislature amended the law to allow people without ID to vote if they could prove they had a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining an ID. The state believes this solves all of the constitutional problems. The NAACP … does not agree. From the N&O:
The new rule is part of a 2013 elections law overhaul shepherded through the Republican-led General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican.
Until 2015, when legislators added the “reasonable impediment” option, political analysts and others described North Carolina’s voter ID law as one of the most restrictive in the country.
“In many ways, the amendment raised more questions than it answered,” NAACP attorneys said in a pre-trial brief for Schroeder. “The rationale for North Carolina’s originally enacting a photo ID requirement was to deter in-person voter fraud.
“But allowing those without such ID to vote simply by signing a ‘reasonable impediment’ affidavit would seem to undermine that justification, particularly against an evidentiary background of no in-person voter fraud in North Carolina and the increased tax dollars that North Carolina taxpayers will need to spend implementing this law.”
2. No school today. Remember last month when I told you that you people can’t handle snow? Ayup. There were hundreds of car crashes (of course) and more than 100 Duke Energy customers lost power. And yesterday officials in nearly every school district in the area announced that your kids would get the day off (though they’ll have to make it up later).
Officials in Wake, Durham, Granville, Chatham and Orange counties and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools announced Sunday that they will stay closed Monday. School officials in Johnston County said the system will open on a two-hour delay Monday.
Sunny skies failed to melt all the ice on side roads and in shaded areas, and officials urged caution even though much of the storm’s effects had faded. The National Weather Service predicted highs nearing 50 degrees Monday, a level expected to melt any lingering hazards.
In its announcement of closings, the Wake County school system cited the expectation that roads will refreeze overnight, particularly the neighborhood streets used by school buses. At least five Wake County schools, including three in Fuquay-Varina, one in Garner and one near Knightdale, were without power Sunday afternoon.
3. Slow news day, I guess.Actual headline on the N&O’s website this morning:
Nearing age 13, this 8-pound Pomeranian mix has something every TV meteorologist secretly covets: thick, golden hair and a following that stretches to Pakistan.
Since Labor Day in 2014, when Strongbad’s forecast first appeared on Facebook, he has carried nervous weather-watchers through the snows and ice deluge of last February, the flop sweats of last July and the balmy Christmas holiday. His on-air voice, deeper than Barry White at his most sultry, has gained him 224 “likes” stretching, somehow, into Ireland.
“He wears a bow tie,” said his owner and wardrobe consultant, Claudia Mello, 58. “He bows to women. He blows kisses. He fist-bumps.”
Make it stop.
(Yes, I know, this kind of about-town fluff is Josh Shaffer’s thing. But do you know how many anthropomorphized animals have more than 224 likes on Facebook? Grumpy Cat has more than 8 million.)
4. Bob Nocek resigns as head of the Carolina Theater. We blogged about this Friday, but given the storm, there’s a decent chance you missed it, and it’s important enough to mention again here. Last month the venerable Durham institution asked the city to bail it out after running up a $1.1 million debt, even though earlier numbers the theater had released suggested it was running a surplus. Back then, theater officials blamed an accounting error.
The theater’s board apparently felt someone needed to fall on the sword.
The theatre’s board of directors “felt new leadership was needed to restore confidence and get us back on track,” said Ellen Reckhow, who represents the Board of County Commissioners on the theater board. “Unfortunately, the board was not aware of the challenging financial situation until fairly recently,” Reckhow said.
The theater’s board and Nocek came to the decision mutually and had an amicable departure, said Scott Harmon, chairman of the theater’s board.
5. National desk: HRC wins big endorsements in Iowa and New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton, beset by lackluster poll numbers in the early states, was bolstered this weekend by a pair of pretty-big-deal endorsements from the Des Moines Register and the Boston Globe. From the Globe:
Today, the nation has new challenges, which require a different kind of leader — someone who can keep what Obama got right, while also fixing his failures, especially on gun control and immigration reform. That will require a focus and toughness that Obama sometimes lacked. This is Clinton’s time, and the Globe enthusiastically endorses her in the Feb. 9 Democratic primary in New Hampshire. She is more seasoned, more grounded, and more forward-looking than in 2008, and has added four years as secretary of state to her already formidable resume. Democrats in the Granite State should not hesitate to choose her.
Over on the Republican side, the Register offered a sure-why-not endorsement of Marco Rubio.
Sen. Marco Rubio has the potential to chart a new direction for the party, and perhaps the nation, with his message of restoring the American dream. We endorse him because he represents his party’s best hope. […] The editorial board also values the executive experience, pragmatism and thoughtful policies of John Kasich, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush. Yet most Republicans aren’t interested in rewarding a long resume this year.
6. Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. Yesterday’s game was a first-rate ass-whooping. Next up: Peyton Manning and company.
Carolina beat the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 at Bank of America Stadium, and these Panthers joined the 2003 group as the second team in franchise history to advance to the Super Bowl.
In Santa Clara, Calif., the Panthers will face the Denver Broncos, 20-18 winners over New England in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 7.
Sunday’s crowd of 74,294 never had to break a sweat on a cold but dry evening.
The Panthers led 17-0 before the end of the first quarter. And unlike four times earlier this season, including in an NFC divisional round victory over Seattle a week earlier, Carolina never let Arizona back in.
A Cardinals touchdown and two-point conversion with 14 minutes 16 seconds left made it 34-15, but the Panthers drove 84 yards in nine plays for a touchdown pass to Devin Funchess that made it 40-15 with 5:26 to play.
That’s all for this inaugural Roundup. See you guys tomorrow.