1. Let’s get this out of the way.The Panthers lost, and lost badly. The referees were godawful, yes—seriously, how the fuck was that not a catch?—but even a fairly called game wouldn’t have saved the squad that showed up last night. Denver’s defense was unbending, Carolina’s offense was dazed, and Cam Newton kept throwing the ball over everyone’s goddamn head. So, yeah, blerg.
And look on the bright side: Beyonce, the only redeeming part of that train wreck of a halftime show, is coming to Raleigh in May.
Now let’s never speak of last night again. Fortunately for us, there’s lots of other news with which to occupy our minds.
2. After the game, Governor McCrory got into a car accident.
He’s fine, in case you were worried.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory was involved in a minor car accident Sunday night in California, an hour after the end of Super Bowl 50.
The governor’s car was rear-ended by a Mercedes in San Jose on Highway 237, the California Highway Patrol told KPIX of San Francisco. McCrory was not driving and, although he complained of pain, was not taken to the hospital and continued to his destination.
Patrol officer Ralph Lee described the accident as “minor,” KPIX reported.
Lee said one member of McCrory’s party was taken to a hospital to be examined.
Chris LaCivita, a Republican political strategist, tweeted that he was on the phone with the governor when the accident happened. LaCivita said McCrory was OK and was asking about others in the car.
3. Judges toss North Carolina’s obviously racial gerrymander.
Specifically, the court ordered lawmakers to redrawn two districts: the 1st, which weaves through some 24 counties, and the 12th, the infamous snake that only stretches 20 miles across at its widest point. Both districts quite blatantly try to pack in every possible black voter, thus diluting their voting power. The decision seems pretty obvious, but the timing is nonetheless inconvenient.
The day after a panel of federal judges invalidated two of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts, state elections officials were working on a Saturday afternoon to encourage voters with absentee ballots to vote the full ballot anyway.
Kim Strach, executive director of the N.C. Board of Elections, and Josh Lawson, general counsel for the board, said Saturday that they did not want voters who received the 8,611 absentee ballots sent out for the March 15 primary elections to lose an opportunity to vote.
“The number one message we want to get out is we want voters to continue voting,” Strach said Saturday afternoon.
Late on Friday, a three-judge panel ruled that North Carolina’s 1st and 12th congressional districts were racial gerrymanders and ordered them redrawn by Feb. 19.
Though the ruling halts elections in those districts until new maps are approved, questions remained on Saturday about what that would mean for other congressional races on the primary ballots.
So the rest of the ballot will count, but not the congressional districts affected by the ruling. But since those districts will have to be altered, other districts will be affected as well. Which leads one elections expert to predict the ruling might be stayed until after the March 15 primary.
I expect the state’s lawyers are spending the weekend drafting an emergency motion to SCOTUS to stay this ruling for the March election, given that absentee ballots are already out. I would not at all be surprised to see a stay even if, as seems fairly likely, this ruling is ultimately affirmed by the Supreme Court for future elections.
And of course, North Carolina could potentially moot this case by drawing new districts that are political, but not arguably racial, gerrymanders.
Because as long as you want to marginalize all Democrats instead of just the black ones, it’s all good.
4. The N&O publishes an op-ed (about Raleigh) that actually contains this sentence: Do we think so little of our city that we believe no one wants to come downtown unless it is to drink?
The writer was Michael Stephens, formerly of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, bemoaning the city council’s decision to walk back the #DrunkTown regs it put in place because, you know, they were pointless. In what feels like the 475th variation of this line of argument the daily newspaper has published since this brouhaha began last summer, Stephens argues that the bars are greedy:
The disagreement over commandeering public spaces for private use began several years ago when a few bar owners along Fayetteville Street leased properties – I will call these “challenged bars” – that were too small for what they had in mind. […] The city council was clearly slow to comprehend, but even now it continues to mishandle the problem by a treatment regimen composed of superficial solutions including the vigorous early morning cleanup of bottles, cans and vomit from our public sidewalks. […]
Commercial interests are not inherently bad, and neither are bars or people who go to bars. What is bad, however, is our inappropriate response to Raleigh’s growing pains by continuing to disregard the contribution that Raleigh’s public spaces are making and can continue to make for the common good.
It is time to face up to the fact that the well-intentioned management of our downtown revitalization program has been ineffective when it comes to preserving the integrity of Raleigh’s public spaces. There is no dishonor in making a mistake. After all, we are human. It is when we compound earlier mistakes with further blunders that the adults in the room must stand up and say “enough.”
Catch that? If you don’t think bars should be run off the sidewalk early in the evening—nothing good happens after dark, kids—or limited to just a handful of people in their sidewalk patios, you’re not an adult. Or something. Neat!
And then he asks: “Do we think so little of our city that we believe no one wants to come downtown unless it is to drink?”
5. A runner died in the Krispy Kreme challenge. Poor fellow didn’t even make it to the donuts.
A runner in Saturday morning’s Krispy Kreme Challenge has died after dropping out of the race in the first mile because of chest pains, race organizers said Saturday afternoon.
The runner, a 58-year-old man, left the race and was taken to Rex Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, organizers said in a news release.
The race route begins at the Bell Tower at N.C. State University and goes to the Krispy Kreme outlet at the corner of North Person and Peace streets in downtown Raleigh, where those participating in the challenge consume a dozen doughnuts before returning to the Bell Tower. The runner left the race before reaching the Krispy Kreme.
6. Even as the state bar was cracking down on anti-death-penalty lawyers, it was letting prosecutors slide.
For most of 2015, the North Carolina State Bar vigorously and publicly pressed ethics charges against two anti-death penalty lawyers for what were eventually judged to be unimportant inaccuracies in two sworn affidavits.
During the same time, the bar privately dismissed complaints that three prominent prosecutors – one running for attorney general, another now a Superior Court judge – used a false affidavit in a racially divisive case that has roiled Winston-Salem for more than a decade.
Former Forsyth County assistant district attorney David Hall, now a Superior Court judge. Kalvin Michael Smith listens to testimony in January 2009, in the hearing for his request for a retrial of his 1997 conviction in the beating of Jill Marker at the Silk Plant Forest in 1995. Former Forsyth County District Attorney Tom Keith. Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill in Forsyth Superior Court in 2010. Former Forsyth County assistant district attorney David Hall, now a Superior Court judge. Kalvin Michael Smith listens to testimony in January 2009, in the hearing for his request for a retrial of his 1997 conviction in the beating of Jill Marker at the Silk Plant Forest in 1995.
The affidavit, produced 12 years after the near-fatal assault, was the first and only document to allege that the victim, in the first minutes after the attack, identified her assailant as a black man, in a case where police pursued white suspects for the first five months of the investigation.
A city-funded investigation concluded that it had no confidence in the verdict in what is known as the Silk Plant Forest case. So did a veteran FBI agent, who called it the sloppiest investigation he had ever seen, and called the affidavit “ludicrous.”
That’s all for today’s Roundup, everybody. Enjoy your hangover!