Pete's Prep: Monday, June 11, 2018

New Buncombe Manager to resign/retire

Mandy Stone will retire in about three weeks. From WLOS:

A statement released by commissioners says on Friday, June 8, Mandy Stone verbally notified the chair of the board, as representative of the board of commissioners, of her plan to retire as county manager.

The announcement comes after a closed session meeting Friday morning by the board of commissioners to discuss a personnel matter.

This does not look good.

At all.

Last week, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported on a news release issued by Buncombe County that included an explosive detail:

New information released by Buncombe County asserts former Board of Commissioners Chairman David Gantt was approached by an employee over whole life insurance policies, an expense that federal prosecutors now say was a fraudulent money laundering scheme by ex-manager Wanda Greene.

"At least one employee asked the former Chair and was advised that the Board supported the county manager's action specific to these policies," a county news release said Wednesday.

Gantt has denied the claim, calling it "untrue."

Shortly after publication, the current Board Chairman, Brownie Newman, identified the unidentified employee was Mandy Stone.

Newman identified Stone after a news release issued by staff Wednesday alleged an unnamed employee questioned Gantt about the insurance policies, which are now part of a federal criminal investigation targeting Greene. That employee claimed to have been told the policies were supported by the board.

Later Wednesday, Gantt issued a strong denial of the claim and raised concerns over the county's release and use of "anonymous employees."

The staff news release contradicted the county board and a federal indictment in which prosecutors say life insurance policies were used in a fraudulent money laundering scheme by Greene.

Both commissioners and the indictment said no commissioners knew of the policies.

Newman says he and his fellow County Commissioners were not made aware of this news release before it went out.

What's going on here?

Why is the Buncombe County staff issuing press statements with such a serious allegation?

The accusation and the denial means someone is lying. 

Did the County staff (or just Stone) issue this statement because they believe the Board would not approve its release?

Or... is the current County Manager trying to cover up her own knowledge and/or involvement in her predecessor's scandals?

Or... could it be both?

(Also, NewsRadio 570 WWNC did not receive this news release from the County - which is odd because we get all their other news releases. So, something was different about THIS news release.)

National motto to be displayed in NC schools

Outrage ensues.

After a debate about whether it's promoting religion, the state House  voted overwhelmingly Thursday to require North Carolina's public  schools to display in a prominent place the words "In God We Trust."

Supporters of House Bill 965,  which passed 94-15, said that the legislation would promote the  nation's history and identity because "In God We Trust" is the national  motto. They denied that the bill was an attempt to promote religion in  general or Christianity in particular.

Critics say it's government-endorsed religion and should not appear in public schools.

If the overwhelming vote in the NC House of Representatives is any indication, it looks like this measure is likely to become law.

Supreme Court says states can clean up voter rolls

State elections officials can legally purge their database of voters, if those voters have not voted in a long time.

The case comes out of Ohio, and was close vote.

The justices rejected, by a 5-4 vote Monday, arguments that the practice violates a federal law intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. A handful of other states also use voters’ inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls.

Justice Samuel Alito said for the court that Ohio is complying with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. He was joined by his four conservative colleagues.

The four liberal justices dissented.

And another thing...

What a raft of changes affecting alcohol distribution in NC tells us about how politics is done.

Also, Net Neutrality ends today. Click the tweet to see the entire "tweet storm" by the Policy Advisor to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai:

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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