STATE BRIEFS, FEBRUARY 19, 2015
VICTIM OF WPD DOG BITE SETTLES FOR $82,500
[WILMINGTON] Officials with the City of Wilmington will settle with Johnnie Williams, a man bitten by a police dog following a chase. The City will pay $25,000 of the settlement and the city’s insurance agency will pick up the rest. The settlement will total $82,500.
On Halloween Night 2013, Williams allegedly drove through a DWI checkpoint almost running over an officer and leading police on a chase through the northern part of the county. When officers were finally able to stop his car, video of the incident shows it appears Williams had his hands up, but Ofc. Stafford Brister sent his K9 into the car anyway. Williams was treated for dog bites.
Katy Parker, Williams’ attorney, released this statement:
This case is, and always was, about accountability. Citizens, such as my client, are held accountable for their actions. When representatives of our government break the rules, they need to be held accountable as well. That is what this settlement is about.
NC CITIZENS WANT TO PUT FREEZE ON OFFSHORE DRILLING
[WILMINGTON] With its 300 miles of coastline, North Carolina has a lot at stake when it comes to the health of the Atlantic. It’s why government, environment and business leaders are joining together to voice their concerns over the Obama administration’s recent announcement that it would open up the state’s entire coastline to offshore drilling.
Capt. Charles Robbins, owner of Cape Fear River Adventures, is concerned about how drilling could change the health of the coast and wildlife. “And if there was a spill, which you know there will be, and all oil wells leak,” he said. “It’s just all risk for something that we consider not needed, and it’s just a lot of different layers of potential damage that cannot be cleaned up.”
According to a recent report by the conservation advocacy group Oceana, fishing, tourism and recreation support almost 51,000 jobs and generate more than $2 billion annually. The same report estimates that offshore drilling would create 25,000 jobs, about half of the estimated number that would be created if the state developed its offshore wind potential.
According to the oil and gas industry, drilling is necessary to maintain the country’s energy independence.
As someone who has worked on the water for more than 20 years, Robbins is specifically concerned about the geography of North Carolina’s coastline since the Gulf Stream would spread any oil spill more quickly, compared with other coastlines in the world.
“Here it would just be catastrophic, and it wouldn’t stop here,” he said. “It would spread all through the north and it would spread rapidly. It’s almost a 6-mile-per-hour current on the Gulf Stream.”
The lease sale of the coastline is expected to happen between 2017 and 2022, but Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has said in published reports that it’s possible the feds wouldn’t go ahead with the sale of leases. That’s why Robbins and others are working hard to make their concerns heard.
The Oceana report is online at oceana.org.
DURHAM GRAND JURY INDICTS ALLEGED KILLER OF THREE STUDENTS+
[DURHAM] A Durham grand jury has indicted Craig Hicks, the Chapel Hill who allegedly shot three Muslim students to death execution-style over what he says was a dispute over parking spaces in the same housing complex. Hicks was indicted on three counts of murder and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling in the deaths of Deah Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, 19. Thousands of students from both NCSU and UNC came together in prayer vigils, as the murders were condemned in Middle Eastern nations. The FBI is investigating whether the victims’ religion played a role in their murders.
NC FORECLOSURES DROPPED IN 2014
[GREENSBORO] Foreclosures in North Carolina during 2014 drooped to their lowest levels since 2001, say realty experts. According to the Administrative Office of the Courts, there were 32,775 foreclosure filings in 2014, compared to 2010, when there were 66,277 at the peak of the housing crisis. There are also several older foreclosure cases still in the system that were delayed because of government-sponsored programs designed to help people from losing their homes.
NATIONAL NAACP PRES. JOINS HK ON J PROTEST
[RALEIGH] Among the thousands of marchers during the Ninth Annual HK on J March and People’s Assembly last weekend was Cornell Brooks, the new national NAACP president. Brooks told the gathering in front of the State Capitol that the civil rights organization would continue to fight all efforts at voter suppression. March leader NCNAACP Pres. Rev. William Barber, assured demonstrators that the Moral Monday movement would continue to put pressure on the Republican-led NC General Assembly on the issues of economic justice, education and health care for the poor.
STATE REVENUES TO FALL SHORT BY $271 MILLION
[RALEIGH] There will be $271 million less revenue for state lawmakers to work with in the 2014-15 $21 billion state budget, according to state analysts. The Fiscal Research Division reports that revenues only grew by 2.9 percent, rather than the projected percent. The rate of personal income tax revenues has fallen 3.8 percent short of projections. Part of the blame is being placed on “slower than expected wage growth.”