Publisher's note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal, and written by Rick Henderson.
Each week, staff at Carolina Journal
looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses several interesting, relevant stories you may have missed. Here's a week in review:
(Updated, 11:02 a.m.)
Duke coal ash settlement:
Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced a settlement in their years-long fight
over pollution from coal ash disposal basins. Duke said it would close the nine coal ash basins in North Carolina and remove the substance from six of them. The utility can move coal ash at three other basins to sealed landfills on site. Duke officials said
it'll take between 10 and 15 years to complete the cleanup.
Bloomberg to N.C.:
Democratic presidential contender Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, will visit the Tar Heel State. Bloomberg told The Insider he'll open field offices in Raleigh and Fayetteville on Friday, Jan. 3, and host news conferences and public events in both cities. He opened a field office in Charlotte on Dec. 15. The billionaire businessman, who's financing his own campaign, said he plans to focus on states including North Carolina that hold their presidential primaries in March or later. The North Carolina primary is March 3.
Hayes sentencing scheduled:
Former NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes could be sentenced as early as Jan. 15, said a court filing posted Tuesday, Dec. 31. Hayes pleaded guilty
in the bribery and conspiracy probe involving Durham businessman Greg Lindberg and two Lindberg associates. The three other defendants have pleaded not guilty. Hayes served five terms in Congress and was a GOP candidate for governor.
No evidence of hacking:
from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found no evidence outsiders hacked voting machines in Durham County during the 2016 election. Federal Special Counsel Robert Mueller said an unidentified company - quite possibly the vendor providing elections equipment to several N.C. counties, including Durham County - may have been targeted by Russian cyber hackers. Former Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign suggested
hacking accounted for the mishandling of 94,000 ballots cast in Durham County. State officials blamed human error and machines that weren't able to handle the large number of ballots cast on Election Day. The DHS report largely agreed, citing a problem with an electronic poll book.
Few takers for 'food desert' grants:
A state program aimed at putting more fresh produce in rural convenience stores hasn't delivered. The "Healthy Food Small Retailer Project" was launched in 2016, providing grants
for convenience stores in "food deserts" to install commercial-grade refrigeration equipment. Lawmakers have set aside about $700,000 for the project. A report from the state Department of Agriculture found
$125,000 hadn't been spent. "[Of] of the 82 stores that initially applied for the grant, 42 didn't meet the program requirements and 24 withdrew after learning more about the rules,"
McClatchy reports. The report also said some stores had trouble finding sources for local produce. A study from East Carolina University
found stores receiving the grants didn't track sales, making it hard to tell how much produce they were moving. The budget passed by the General Assembly and vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper didn't add new money to the program.
Voter ID workaround:
State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell sent a memo to county election boards telling them what to do now that the voter ID requirement won't be in effect
for the March 3 primary. Read the memo HERE