Headline Roundup: Tillis Gets Committee Assignments; BofA Fails Two Tests; More

Dec 16, 2014

North Carolina’s U.S. Senator-elect Thom Tillis will serve on two military-related committees when he’s sworn in next month. Senate Republicans announced committee assignments  for the 114th Congress yesterday. Tillis will be on the Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees as well as agriculture and judiciary panels and a special committee on aging.

North Carolina’s other senator, Richard Burr, will likely step down from Veterans Affairs next year to chair the Select Committee on Intelligence. Burr will stay on the finance committee and the Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. All assignments still have to go through procedural approval. 

Auditors Say Department Of Labor Improperly Paid Employee's Travel Expenses
State auditors say the North Carolina department of labor improperly paid an employee more than $9,400 to commute to Raleigh. Kisha Holmes, deputy administrator of the department’s Wage and Hour Bureau, got the reimbursement for mileage, meals, hotels, and parking related to her 100 mile commute from Lexington. State Auditor Beth Wood says in a report issued yesterday that state employees cannot be compensated for driving from home to work. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry disputes that; she says Holmes’ main work location is at her home in Lexington and the trips to Raleigh are work-related travel. 

Paper Sues To Make Public Police Recordings Of Political Gatherings
A North Carolina newspaper is suing to make public dozens of police recordings of political gatherings and demonstrations. The Asheville Citizen Times says in a lawsuit filed yesterday that keeping the videos secret will have a chilling effect on the public’s first amendment right to demonstrate.

The recordings date from 1980 and range from anti-war rallies and immigrations protests to recent Moral Monday rallies. The Citizen-Times claims the videos are covered by the state’s public records law. The paper says police aren’t using the records as part of ongoing criminal investigations.

Academic Standards Review Commission Co-Chair: Funding Assured By Lawmakers
A leader of a state panel recommending changes to math and reading standards for children in North Carolina's public schools says he's been assured by lawmakers there will be funding to perform its work.

The Academic Standards Review Commission began in September and is supposed to propose how to rewrite standards currently following the demands of Common Core, used in dozens of states.

This year's final state budget left out money to operate the panel for things like staff hires and research.

Co-Chairman Andre Peek told commission members yesterday that legislators have told him the commission will be properly funded with a $250,000 budget.

The General Assembly reconvenes next month. For now, Peek says money will come from the Department of Administration, which will be reimbursed later.

Rockingham Commissioner Has No Plans To Resign After DWI Charge
The chairman of the Rockingham County Commission says he has no plans to step down after he was charged with D.W.I and reckless driving over the weekend. The Highway Patrol says say 60-year-old William Keith Mabe’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit Saturday when he ran off the road and crashed his truck.

Mabe has been a Rockingham County Commissioner since 2010; he was elected as chair this term.

He says he had taken pain medication before the crash and that anyone can make a mistake.

Band of America Fails Two Of 31 Tests Measuring Mortgage Settlement Compliance
Bank of America has failed two tests out of 31 designed to measure whether it’s in compliance with a national mortgage settlement. The Charlotte Observer reports the tests B of A failed in the first half of this year involve sending pre-foreclosure letters and notifications to people seeking mortgage modifications.

According to the report from former North Carolina Banking Commissioner Joseph Smith, Citigroup was the only other bank to fail any of the 31 tests. B of A says the report shows it has substantial compliance with more than 300 standards required under the settlement. 

Suspended SC Sheriff Agreed To Plead Guilty
Suspended Lexington County, South Carolina Sheriff James Metts has agreed to plead guilty to bribery charges.

Attorneys plan to file a plea agreement for Metts in federal court today. In it, the sheriff admits to conspiracy to harbor certain aliens. Metts was indicted on 10 charges in June and suspended. Authorities say he took an envelope of cash from a restaurant owner. At the time of his indictment, Metts was the state's longest-serving sheriff, with 42 years in office.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys say they agree Metts should serve three years of probation and no jail time.  A judge will make the final decision on Metts' sentence. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday. 

Panthers Lose Number One Spot
The Carolina Panthers have lost their number one spot in the NFC South. That’s after New Orleans’ win last night over Chicago. Carolina led the division for about a day after the Panthers beat Tampa Bay on Sunday.