1. The Four Horseman are suiting up.
We’ll begin with an item that, while not really being “news,” is nonetheless kind of mind-boggling: Donald Trump—the orange-hued reality-TV insult comic, the animated incarnation of those conspiracy chain emails your aunt sends you—will officially be the Republican Party’s nominee for president
. Of the United States.
God help us all.
The New York billionaire shrugged off signs of discord in his party hours after sewing up the number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination, a feat that completed an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and set the stage for a bitter fall campaign.
"Here I am watching Hillary fight, and she can't close the deal," Trump crowed during an appearance in North Dakota. "We've had tremendous support from almost everybody."
is doing a lot of work in that sentence, what with Trump’s 58 percent disapproval rating
. (Hillary, for what it’s worth, isn’t that far behind
, though her favorables are likely to tick up once the Dem primary concludes.) And there’s also this:
Trump's good news was tempered by ongoing internal problems. Those include the sudden departure of his political director and continuing resistance by many Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, to declaring their support for his outsider candidacy.
Actually, Trump has gone out of his way to insult Martinez
, the only Latina governor in the United States, even though she’s exactly the kind of Republican who could help mitigate Trump’s terrible numbers among women and Hispanics. That does not strike me as the best strategy, but hey, what do I know?
2. N.C. prisons abandon solitary.
This is some good news
, for a change:
North Carolina prison officials, moving away from the broad use of solitary confinement, have cut in half the number of inmates kept in isolation.
Last spring, roughly 5,330 of the state’s 38,000 prisoners – 1 in 7 – were segregated from other inmates on any given day. By this month, that number had been reduced to 2,540.
State prison officials say solitary confinement is not working and doesn’t lead to positive behavioral change.
Inmates in solitary spend 23 to 24 hours a day in their cells with limited access to fresh air and sunlight. On average, they shower three times a week for 10 minutes. They are allowed recreation in an outdoor cell for 60 minutes five times a week unless there’s a security concern.
3. The General Assembly wants to rescind the ban on dumping electronics in landfills.
Advocacy groups and psychiatrists have criticized the prolonged isolation, saying it has harmful effects such as anxiety, depression, anger, cognitive disturbances, perceptual distortions, obsessive thoughts, paranoia and psychosis.
Suicides and self-harm occur disproportionately more often in solitary confinement than anywhere else in prisons.
The ACLU and other prison advocates last year formally asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate North Carolina’s use of solitary confinement, particularly the practice of keeping mentally ill inmates in isolation.
This, you will be shocked to learn, will benefit manufacturers while burdening local governments with extra costs. But don’t worry: DEQ says everything’s going to be fine, and you can trust those guys.
The change would benefit manufacturers, who would no longer have to pay fees that help pay for local recycling programs. That would shift the costs of the recycling programs to cities and counties, which would have to divert funds from other sources or charge the public new fees.
4. Raleigh’s throwing a Dix party.
The recycling program began in 2010, and about 30 million pounds of electronic merchandise was recycled in 2014. There are free drop-off sites in all counties. Nearly $1 million in fees were collected to run the program.
A bill last year that would have eliminated the fees was rewritten to require a study first. The state Department of Environmental Quality studied the issue and earlier this year recommended the legislature consider repealing the landfill ban.
DEQ says it based that recommendation on a 2010 finding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that electronics can be safely disposed of in landfills. But the EPA said its preferred method is to reuse or recycle the material.
For one day in July, visitors to Dix Park will be able to drink locally brewed beer, sample food truck fare and capture an unprecedented view of downtown Raleigh from a Ferris wheel.
5. The Hillsborough mill fire has been deemed suspicious.
From a sprawling lawn on the 308-acre campus, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane on Thursday morning announced the city’s plans to host a free, day-long festival called Destination Dix on July 23.
The festival will take place on the large lawn behind the State Farmers Market and feature live music, art, food trucks, beer vendors and “a variety of activities designed to offer the public a glimpse of the history of the property, a sample of the current park opportunities and a chance to share ideas and weigh in on the future plans for Dorothea Dix Park,” McFarlane said.
The $100,000 event comes one year after Raleigh bought the Dix land from the state for $52 million.
Authorities said the fire that destroyed part of a historic Hillsborough mill Friday has been deemed “suspicious.” The actual cause of the fire is still undetermined.
6. Legislators back down on low-tuition plan (for now).
“We know about where the fire started and what was there and what wasn’t,” Hillsborough Fire Marshal Jerry Wagner said. Hillsborough police are investigating leads connected to the fire.
That plan would have essentially gutted several HBCUs in the state.
The state Senate on Thursday delayed voting on a bill that would set tuition at $1,000 a year at five UNC campuses.
6. Finally, HB 2 is still causing problems.
Senate bill 873 sponsor Tom Apodaca, a Hendersonville Republican, said UNC system President Margaret Spellings and some of the university chancellors at a meeting Wednesday requested a week to come up with a marketing plan for the $500-per-semester tuition. The bill was sent to the Senate Rules Committee and may be changed before it comes to a vote of the full Senate.
The bill would dramatically reduce in-state tuition at three historically black universities, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, and Winston-Salem State University; historically American Indian UNC Pembroke, and Western Carolina University, a majority white school.
The bill would also guarantee fixed tuition at all UNC schools for students who complete their bachelor’s degrees in four years.
HBCU backers worry that the proposal would starve the schools and weaken their traditions.
Today we’ll get a sense of how bad the damage has been.
Organizers of North Carolina's world-renowned furniture market are releasing attendance figures Friday that could be an important barometer of business reaction to the state's new law limiting protections for LGBT people.
The twice-a-year High Point Markets bring an estimated $5 billion a year in economic activity to North Carolina. April's event was the biggest economic activity in North Carolina since House Bill 2 was adopted, defining which bathrooms transgender people may legally use and limiting legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Buyers for Williams-Sonoma Inc. retail outlets, including Pottery Barn and West Elm, were among those boycotting the five-day event.
"Hundreds and perhaps thousands of our customers will not attend market this April," the market authority lamented in a statement after the law passed in March.
That’s all for today’s Roundup. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, and we’ll see you on Tuesday.