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Keith Sutton has raised nearly $20,000

Wake County school board member Keith Sutton has raised nearly $20,000 in his bid to keep the District 4 seat.

The new campaign report filed today shows Sutton having raised $19,892 as of Aug. 30 with $12,272.86 on hand. No report has been filed yet by opponent Venita Peyton.

Sutton's biggest individual donor in the new report is Capitol Broadcasting CEO Jim Goodmon, who gave $1,000. It's Goodmon's first recorded school board contribution this season, but he is one of the hosts for a Wake County Democratic Party fundraiser being held next week.

Solar farm concept: Made in the shade

Capitol Broadcasting Co., owner of WRAL-TV and the Durham Bulls, could soon add a solar energy farm to its portfolio.

The local media company's filing for a Wake County zoning permit states: "The proposed solar development is in the shadow of a 2,000-ft. communication tower" (italics added).

Thus, this may be the world's first solar farm to be deliberately located in a shadow. However, this being a figurative shadow, it is not expected to darken the prospects for solar energy.

Bronto Software taking more space as business booms

Bronto Software is getting a bigger pad.

The email marketing company is adding another 8,000 square feet to its 13,000-square-foot headquarters in Durham's American Tobacco Campus by expanding into three adjacent offices.

Bronto employs about 90 people, but wants more room as its business increases. The company has about 20 open positions, said CEO and co-founder Joe Colopy.

"Things are going in the right direction," said Colopy, who co-founded the company in 2002 out of his Durham house. "We're having a good time."

Bronto sells marketing services to retailers and other businesses, including Party City, Timex, BatteriesPlus, Dean & Deluca, Samsonite and more. They hire Bronto to help connect with customers through email, social media and, increasingly, various mobile devices.

Capitol Broadcasting backs 'proactive" rental inspections

DURHAM Capitol Broadcasting is backing a campaign for a "proactive rental inspection program" to force owners and managers of rental housing to keep their properties up to code.

"I don't know a better way to make sure we dont have people renting out crawl space, that we don’t have babies crawling on dirt floors,” said Michael Goodmon, a Capitol vice president and head of the company's American Tobacco campus.

Speaking at Tuesday's annual meeting of the Durham Affordable Housing Coalition, Goodmon said Capitol has involved itself with the nonprofit Self-Help and the city's neighborhood improvement department to design an  inspection program with teeth and promote its adoption by the city council.

"Our goal is to make it, if you are renting property in this community, you have to live up to the minimum housing code," Goodmon said.

The idea is to give city inspectors greater authority to enforce housing codes and for residents to get something done about dilapidated and otherwise problematic properties.

"How do you take pride in your house when there's a  boarded-up dump next to you?" Goodmon said.

As of the 2000 census, 51 percent of Durham's 81,000 occupied "housing units" were occupied by renters. In Raleigh and Greensboro, the figures were 48 and 47 percent, respectively; in North Carolina, less than 31 percent; nationwide, 34 percent.

Substandard housing has been a recognized social ill in Durham since at least 1940, when a federal survey found more than 60 percent of the city's residential units were "substandard" in one or more ways -- overcrowded, without plumbing, structurally unsound and otherwise.

With the problem enduring decade after decade, a mandatory rental inspection has been suggested and researched by citizens' organization and city agencies for several years.

Goodmon said a draft regulation is nearly ready to be released for comment.

"That's starting to get legs now," he said, "and it’s going to get in front of  the people it’s going to get in front of soon enough. It’s going to be something to talk about."


Gov. Bev Perdue criticizes Wake County schools during MLK speech

Like Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, Gov. Bev. Perdue used today's Capitol Broadcasting MLK Interfaith Prayer Breakfast to take some shots at the Wake County school board.

Perdue's criticism of the school board and the elimination of the diversity policy was a bit more veiled than the remarks made by Meeker. But she clearly conveyed to the audience that she wasn't happy with what was happening in the Wake school system.

"I have never heard a tribute to Martin Luther King on any day anywhere in North Carolina or America where somebody didn't say during their talk, 'His work is not done,'" Perdue said. "And if you live in Wake County, his work is not done."

Charles Meeker on getting the Wake County school board "back on track"

Invoking the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker issued a call to arms today for the public to get involved in this fall's Wake County school board elections "to get the board back on track."

Speaking this morning at Capitol Broadcasting's MLK Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, Meeker said "we have four members of the school board who are way off track." Presumably, he's excluding Debra Goldman from this group because of her splits with the other GOP members on some student assignment votes.

Here are Meeker's complete remarks, which were repeatedly interrupted with applause: 

WRAL recruits WUNC's Leslie to expand political coverage

The voice of public radio's political coverage in North Carolina is going commercial.

Laura Leslie, who has covered state politics and government at WUNC for more than six years, is joining WRAL as a multimedia reporter. Her last day at WUNC is today, and she'll start at WRAL on Friday.

In her new role, Leslie will continue coverage of the legislature and state politics. Leslie said she'll focus mostly on expanding WRAL's online coverage, including webcasts and podcasts, as the General Assembly prepares to return to Raleigh.

"I'll be telling the same stories, but I'll have new ways to tell them," she said. "The news business is changing and legislative coverage needs to change with it. I see it as an immense opportunity."

Recruiting Leslie signals that WRAL, owned by Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting, is seeking to beef up its legislative coverage as Republicans control the General Assembly for the first time since 1898.

Red Hat chooses Wake but makes friends in Durham

Among those on the losing end of Monday's announcement that Red Hat would be staying in Wake County was Durham's American Tobacco Campus.

American Tobacco made an aggressive pitch to try and win over Red Hat, and at the annual Downtown Durham Inc. luncheon in November Jim Goodmon (left), CEO of Capitol Broadcasting, the owner of American Tobacco, told the crowd that he intended to win Red Hat.

Luring Red Hat to Durham would have been a major coup, particularly since ATC just recently landed the cellphone maker HTC.

Wake Education Partnership honors its "Cornerstone Investors"

The Wake Education Partnership is praising its "Cornerstone Investors," those who've pledged to give $10,000 or more to support the group's work.

In an e-mail message today, the WEP says they're renaming this group from "Major Donors" to "Cornerstone Investors" to have a more fitting title to honor this "distinguished group of supporters."

Many of the area's largest businesses are on the list of 22 cornerstone investors, including The News & Observer, Capitol Broadcasting Co., the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, SAS and GlaxoSmithKline.

Calling Tuesday's election results a mandate for community schools

Republican members of the Wake County school board are calling the GOP sweep of the commissioners races a referendum showing support for pushing ahead with community schools.

As noted in today's article, GOP school board members say that people did respond to the calls from Democrats to turn it into a referendum on the school board's student assignment policy changes. The result, board members say, is a message that they've got the community's support for their actions.

“The people are saying, ‘Leave the school board alone; let them do what they were elected to do on student assignment,’” said school board member Chris Malone. “People want the school board to succeed and do their business.”

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