The Morning Roundup: Durham Loses a Champion In the General Assembly | News

The Morning Roundup: Durham Loses a Champion In the General Assembly

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Morning. Here's what you missed over the weekend.

1. Rep. Paul Luebke passes away.
Paul Luebke
  • Paul Luebke

After a fight with lymphoma, Rep. Paul Luebke died on Saturday at the age of seventy.

Luebke, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, quite literally wrote the book on North Carolina politics: Tar Heel Politics: Myths and Realities (1990) and Tar Heel Politics 2000, two essential texts on state politics.

Luebke was elected in 1990, representing the part of Durham that included the Duke campus. He had served in the state legislature ever since as one of the most progressive members of the Democratic caucus, leading on everything from tax and education policy to divestment in Sudan and criminal justice reform.

Luebke was someone who was genuinely and deeply respected by both Democrats and Republicans. That was evidenced from the memorials that poured in:

“Paul and I have been close friends and confidantes for nearly forty years,” Durham City Councilmember Steve Schewel said. “Paul deserves immense credit for the progressive, diverse, welcoming nature of Durham. He is a chief architect of our city’s current political culture and for 25 years he has been our state’s unflinching progressive champion in the General Assembly – a north star for everything good. I will miss him terribly.”

“Paul had an unprecedented concern for working and marginalized communities and families,” said Durham Representative Larry Hall, the state House Democratic leader and a close friend and colleague. “He always put them first in every public policy debate.”

“My father showed me what it means to live in a loving community that fights for things that matter,” said Theo Luebke, his son. “He taught me how to see the world and how to imagine a better one; how to organize and how to win. It has been one of the enduring blessings of my life to be his son."

Congressman G.K. Butterfield:
State Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Durham):
Durham Councilmember Charlie Reece:
Governor Pat McCrory:

Attorney General Roy Cooper:
Deborah Ross, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate who served with Luebke for ten years in the legislature:

Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro):
North Carolina Democratic Party chairwoman Patsy Keever:
NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse:
Rep. David Lewis (R-Dunn): 
Rob Schofield:

Luebke was a lawmaker, a scholar and, above all, great and relentless champion of social, political and economic justice and a crusader on behalf of the underdogs and working people of our state.

Rep. Graig Mayer (D-Hillsborough):
Elissa Fuchs, who was Luebke's Republican opponent in the upcoming election:

And the list goes on and on.

Luebke was running for re-election; now, the 30th District Democratic Party will have to come up with a replacement in time for next week's election. Once they do, all of the votes for Luebke, who represented a safe liberal district, will count for his replacement.

We'll have more in this week's issue about the life of Rep. Luebke, but we'll leave you with this. When we made our endorsements in 2008, we asked Luebke a question we often continue to ask some variation of to various candidates to this day: "Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters." This is how he responded:

I will continue to fight the flawed emphasis of most of my legislative colleagues upon prison construction as a "solution" for crime. I will continue to advocate for alternatives to incarceration for those convicted of non-violent felonies. One reason to fight for such an alternate "smart on crime" policy is that, under current policy, low-income African-American males are disproportionately represented in North Carolina's prisons.

It says a lot about Luebke that the thing he was most willing to stake his career on was to protect justice and rights for people who are so often ignored by the system, and many of whom wouldn't ever even be able to vote for him.

Suffice to say that Luebke will be sorely missed.

2. The FBI is at war with itself.

In case you haven't heard, Hillary Clinton's emails are back in the news. The New York Times with the rundown:
The presidential campaign was rocked on Friday after federal law enforcement officials said that emails pertinent to the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server were discovered on a computer belonging to Anthony D. Weiner, the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said the emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, which law enforcement officials said was an F.B.I. investigation into illicit text messages from Mr. Weiner to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Mr. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is married to Huma Abedin, the top aide.

Mr. Comey's letter said that the F.B.I. would review the emails to determine if they improperly contained classified information, which is tightly controlled by the government. Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server. And while Mr. Comey said in his letter that the emails “appear to be pertinent,” the F.B.I. had not yet examined them.
CNN:
Investigators took possession of multiple computers related to the inquiry of Anthony Weiner in early October, U.S. law enforcement officials said. Weiner is Abedin's estranged husband and is being probed about alleged sexting with a purportedly underage girl.

Technical experts at the FBI began procedures to catalogue the emails found on one of the computers and soon found emails belonging to Abedin. The discovery surprised investigators, triggering legal issues because the search warrant was limited to the sexting case. That's why the Justice Department sought the new search warrant.
Then it gets even weirder:

FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state knew early this month that messages recovered in a separate probe might be germane to their case, but they waited weeks before briefing the FBI director, according to people familiar with the case.

Director James B. Comey has written that he was informed of the development Thursday, and he sent a letter to legislators the next day letting them know that he thought the team should take “appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails.”

CNN has a pretty decent background on all of this, but the rub is that, after Comey, a Republican appointed by President Obama, cleared Clinton a few months ago, he came under fire from Donald Trump and other Republicans for not charging Clinton.

There are warring narratives out about this. The Wall Street Journal says, in a story titled "FBI In Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe":

At a meeting early last week of senior Justice Department and FBI officials, a member of the department’s senior national-security staff asked for an update on the Weiner laptop, the people familiar with the matter said. At that point, officials realized that no one had acted to obtain a warrant, these people said.

Mr. McCabe then instructed the email investigators to talk to the Weiner investigators and see whether the laptop’s contents could be relevant to the Clinton email probe, these people said. After the investigators spoke, the agents agreed it was potentially relevant.

[...]

The back-and-forth reflects how the bureau is probing several matters related, directly or indirectly, to Mrs. Clinton and her inner circle.

New details show that senior law-enforcement officials repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in a bureau investigation of the Clinton Foundation, sought to condense what was at times a sprawling cross-country effort, and, according to some people familiar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of the case. The probe of the foundation began more than a year ago to determine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.

All of this is to say: we don't really know a damn thing yet about what's in the new emails - or if they even are new - and we won't until well after the election. What we do know, however, is that congressional Republicans have their strategy against the Clinton administration down pat:

“It’s a target-rich environment,” the Republican said in an interview in Salt Lake City’s suburbs. “Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”

So basically, the next four years (assuming Clinton will win) are going to look a lot like the last six, with the added possibility of impeachment proceedings. Sweet. Everything is fine.

3. Early voting continues to move along in North Carolina.

Over 1.5 million votes have been already cast in North Carolina, and the most have come from Wake County, which is inching up on 150,000.

Durham County is also chugging along with over 70,000 votes cast already.

Somewhat related, Clinton is bringing all of the big guns to North Carolina in the final week: President Obama (who will be in Chapel Hill on Wednesday), former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Tim Kaine (who is in Sanford today), and...Ne-Yo.
The New York Times has an early voting tracker, and estimates that Clinton currently leads Trump among by around fourteen points among those who have already voted, and that she'll ultimately take the state by around six points.

4. Tensions high between Native American activists and police at Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Indian Country Today Media Network is doing exceptional work on the controversy, but the Los Angeles Times has a particularly infuriating report from Native activists who have been arrested:

After a night of chaotic clashes with police on the front lines in a months-long protest, Native American activists complained about the force wielded to drive protesters from the path of a pipeline they contend will desecrate tribal lands and put their lone source of drinking water at risk.

Protesters said that those arrested in the confrontation had numbers written on their arms and were housed in what appeared to be dog kennels, without bedding or furniture. Others said advancing officers sprayed mace and pelted them with rubber bullets.

“It goes back to concentration camp days,” said Mekasi Camp-Horinek, a protest coordinator who said authorities wrote a number on his arm when he was housed in one of the mesh enclosures with his mother, Casey.

Not to be pessimistic, but it's hard not to feel like everything is falling apart.

5. Panthers bounce back after a bye week.

The Panthers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 30-20 in an NFC Championship rematch yesterday, improving to 2-5 after the bye week.

Afterward, Cam Newton went off on refereeing this season, saying "At times, I don't feel safe."

In other sports news, the Cleveland Indians lead the Chicago Cubs 3-2 in the World Series after the Cubs won last night.

That's all for today. Have a good week.

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