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NC Appeals Court to decide who gets to build a hospital in Holly Springs

Novant Health, which has long aspirations to tap into the Triangle's lucrative health-care market, is making what could be its last stand for a permit to build a 50-bed hospital in Holly Springs.

The Winston-Salem company on Wednesday will ask the N.C. Court of Appeals to allow it to build the hospital instead of allow the permit to go to Raleigh-based Rex Hospital. Oral arguments are set to begin at 1 p.m.

Novant has applied for a state hospital permit in Holly Springs in 2008 and again in 2011, losing both times at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Rex's proposal for a Holly Springs Hospital is a virtual copy of Novan't 2008 proposal," Novant says in a court filing. "Rex's position appears to be that Holly Springs only needs a hospital when Rex is the one proposing it."

Novant argues residents would benefit because its hospital would offer price competition in a region dominated by Rex, WakeMed Health and Hospitals, and Duke University facilities.

The losing party in the N.C. Court of Appeals could take the matter to the state Supreme Court but the high court would only be required to accept the case if the appellate decision is split 2-1.

And, here we are again in the national press: NC's new 'voter suppression' law in Slate magazine

This piece, by a professor of law and political science at the U.C. Irvine School of Law, is too long to run on the Other Opinion page but seemed worth sharing. Here's an excerpt:

But the North Carolina legislature, with a new united Republican legislature and governor, went further and passed the mother of all voter suppression bills. Aside from enacting a strict voter ID law like Texas’, the bill also cut a week off early voting in the state (used by up to 70 percent of African-American voters in 2012) and barred local election boards from keeping the polls open on the final Saturday before the election after 1 pm. It eliminated same-day voter registration. It opened up the precincts to “challengers” who can gum up the works at polling places and dissuade voters from showing up in the first place. It banned paying voter registration card circulators by the piece. It eliminated pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds in the high schools. And it said that a voter who votes in the wrong precinct (perhaps because of a poll worker’s error) will have her whole ballot thrown out – earlier law had allowed such ballots to count for those races in which the voter was eligible to vote.

1377099948 And, here we are again in the national press: NC's new 'voter suppression' law in Slate magazine The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AG Cooper challenges Progress rate increase in NC Supreme Court

A month after the N.C. Utilities Commission granted Duke Energy Progress a 7.5 percent residential rate increase, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper asked the N.C. Supreme Court to block it.

Cooper alleges that the Utilities Commission didn't take into account the higher rate's effect on Progress customers, many of whom are struggling in a weak economy.

Cooper noted that North Carolina has one of the highest jobless rates in the nation, which is particularly evident in rural areas that have experienced massive job losses in manufacturing and other trades.

"Many people are already hard pressed to pay their bills, and now isn't the time to ask them to pay more so utilities can make a bigger profit," Cooper said in a statement.

Judge recounts his exploits in court session

Judge Howard Manning, famous for slapping the N.C. school system for inequality in education, entertained a packed courtroom this week as the visiting judge in Orange County Superior Court.

As assistant district attorney Lamar Proctor called out names from the court docket Tuesday, some offenders were not present in court. Typically in that situation, a judge will ask the bailiff to repeat their names three times then issue an order for their arrest. But not Manning. He wanted to "bullseye" them but circling their names on the docket, then order their arrests after Proctor had gone through the entire docket.

After all, Manning said, "They might have stopped in for a tall 40 on the way over," causing the courtroom to erupt in laughter.

 "They don't smoke blunts over here in Orange County, do they?" Manning asked, referring to a cigar with marijuana instead of tobacco. "How many of you know what a wrap is?," Manning asked, waiting for an answer. I'm pretty sure he was talking about the cigar wrap that goes around the cannibis, but maybe someone can enlighten OrangeChat. "Well, I'm not going to tell you because only three of you know," Manning told the crowd. "I guess we'll have to wait till we get a few more folks over from Durham County."

Then Manning mused on another possible explanation for the no-shows from Chapel Hill and Carrboro: "All the mopeds won't start."

Manning also poked fun at Chapel Hill's ban on public consumption of alcohol, as a man charged with that crime waited for his case to be heard.

"He's got the most benign charge on the docket," Manning said. "It used to be perfectly all right to do so.

"We used to drink beer on a bench and smoke in Chapel Hill," he said. "I did it for four years until I quit smoking, and then I continued to drink beer."

Manning wondered why the law does not apply to outdoor dining areas such as the third-floor balcony at Top of the Hill.

"You can lean over and drink your beer and look at Franklin Street, but that's not in public?"

"I like this guy," said a man waiting to address his cocaine charges. 



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