The City of Charlottesville’s new online speech restrictions for employees is likely unconstitutional

The City of Charlottesville passed a new policy for city workers that prohibits them from commenting, offline and online, about a wide range of topics. The policy is a potential violation of employees’ First Amendment free speech rights.

The policy was passed in response to how the city handled Allen Groat, an analyst for the fire and police department, for his involvement in the January 6 2021 riot at the US Capitol. Groat tweeted that he would engage in a “show of force,” and posted a photo of himself and former head of the Proud Boys.

Groat was investigated but was not criminally charged. Mayor Lloyd Snook said that Groat was not going to be fired because he had not been criminally charged. In response to the outrage that followed, Mayor Snook said that the city would review personnel policy.

The new policy, as reported by Fire, which went into effect last week, “requires that employees refrain from conduct, on- and off-duty, that will undermine City government objectives or impair the proper performance of governmental functions.”

That includes conduct that “undermines close working relationships that are essential to the effective performance of an employee’s job duties,” as well as conduct that impairs “discipline or harmony among co-workers.”

The policy heavily restricts city employees from exercising their First Amendment rights. An employee could be punished even for criticizing dangerous working conditions.

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More than 100 students baptized without parents’ permission at North Carolina school

A North Carolina school apologized after baptizing more than 100 children without their parent’s permission, according to the Fayetteville Observer.

Northwood Temple Academy in Fayetteville posted on Facebook on Thursday, “I feel it in my bones, You’re about to move! Today we had over 100 middle and high school students spontaneously declare their faith and get baptized today. We will have more pictures of these powerful moments posted over the next couple of days!”

That morning, three students had their scheduled baptisms at the school as part of Spiritual Emphasis Week before the offer was extended to other students who had not been scheduled. More than 100 students in total were baptized.

Renee McLamb, the head of the school, sent families a letter to explain as the unplanned baptisms sparked mixed responses from families.

“The Spirit of the Lord moved and the invitation to accept the Lord and be baptized was given and the students just began to respond to the presence of the Lord,” McLamb said in a letter, obtained by the Observer, that was sent to families.

The school says it typically notifies and invites parents to be present for any baptisms that happen on campus, and “it was not the intention of any faculty member to do anything behind a parent’s back or in any kind of secret way.”

“I do understand that parents would desire to be a part of something so wonderful happening in the lives of their children, and so I apologize that we did not take that into consideration in that moment,” McLamb said. “I pray that at the end of the day we will all rejoice because God truly did a work in the lives of our students.”

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North Carolina Co-Pilot Mysteriously Disappears From Plane During Flight, Found Dead

A North Carolina pilot died under mysterious circumstances Friday afternoon, officials said.

Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was one of two people onboard the small, 10-person plane Friday but it landed with just one person in Wake County, North Carolina, WRAL reported.

Authorities say Crooks either jumped or fell from the plane in midair without a parachute.

According to the report, the remaining co-pilot safely conducted an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport after reporting to air traffic control that the plane had lost its right wheel and was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Dozens of first responders were at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and several other officers canvassed the local area and the plane’s flight path to search for Crooks’ body.

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Snitches Get Riches From the FBI

Snitches have a new way to make money in Charlotte, North Carolina. By texting the FBI and tattling on people that have illegal cash, informants can make up to 25 percent of the money seized, according to an FBI news release. Jilted lovers, jealous friends, and nosy neighbors can now score big. The good news for anyone tempted by the offer is that federal law makes asset confiscation far too easy.

By using civil forfeiture, law enforcement agencies can take cash, cars, and other assets without convicting anyone of wrongdoing. The government doesn’t have to make an arrest, develop a theory about a specific crime, or even witness illegal behavior. Agents can bypass the criminal courtroom altogether.

According to the release, the tip line is designed to help agents intercept drug trafficking shipments through Charlotte. An example campaign graphic shows two agents gazing at a large pile of cash in the trunk of a car. A glowing neon headline reads: “Shine a light on drug trafficking.” The fine print focuses on the kickback, stating that if the tip “on where drug cash is being stored or transported” pans out, “you could receive up to 25% of the seized money.” The message is clear: snitching can be rewarding. But the ad fails to mention four important details.

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Children Allege North Carolina Bus Driver Offered Them $5 to Swab Their Cheeks With Q-tip

North Carolina news outlet has reported an incident on Tuesday in which children alleged that a middle school bus driver has been offering them $5 to swab their cheeks with a Q-Tip.

The director of communications for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) system told The Epoch Times that CMS can’t provide details while the incident is being investigated.

“The driver involved in the incident was suspended pending the results of an ongoing investigation,” the director said. “The alleged incident appears to be an individual acting outside of assigned duties and done without the knowledge of the district or school administrator.”

John Paul with WSOC-TV reported that several parents told him that a CMS bus driver for the Ridge Road Middle School in Charlotte offered their children $5 to swab their cheeks.

Paul said that parent Mone Davis reported to the news outlet that her daughter said, “She gave me the Q-Tip thing and made me swab my mouth, and when I was done, I put it in the cylinder and gave it to her. Then she gave me $5.”

The allegations date back to Feb. 15, Paul said, with one report alleging that the bus driver took samples from 10 kids on the bus as well as personal information.

Paul said one child reported to the parent that the bus driver said it was a COVID-19 test, while another child reported to the parent that there were two other adults on the bus who weren’t identified.

Paul said Ridge Road Middle School sent out a statement to parents in connection with the allegations in which the school principal said he reported the incident “to the appropriate parties for investigation,” but that he could not provide further information because it’s under investigation.

Ridge Road Middle School didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times for comment.

“Why would someone take a mouth swab from a kid and their personal information—and maybe more importantly—what could they do with that information,” Paul asked in his report.

Jason Stoogenke, also with WSOC-TV, pointed to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fraud alert that involves a similar procedure in which someone offers “free cheek swabs” for the purpose of obtaining that person’s personal information “for identify theft or fraudulent billing” in Medicare scams on senior citizens.

However, because this case involves children, it “makes this case even more mysterious,” Stoogenke said.

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North Carolina Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Have Reined In Emergency Executive Powers

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill on Monday that proposed to restore checks and balances to his executive powers, which have been extended amid the CCP virus pandemic.

“North Carolina is emerging from a global pandemic with lives saved and a strong economy because of effective statewide measures to protect public health under the Emergency Management Act,” the Democrat said on his veto.  “Critical decisions about stopping deadly diseases, or responding to any other emergency, should stay with experts in public health and safety, not a committee of partisan politicians.”

Cooper declared a state of emergency in response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic in March 2020, a decision that heralded a year of lockdowns throughout the state and country.

The Emergency Powers Accountability Act (EPAA), or House Bill 264, would have required Cooper to get “concurrence of the Council of State” before “exercising certain authorities.”

The Council of State consists of bipartisan senior executive offices such as the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, and the Secretary of State.

The bill would have created a definition for the concurrence of the Council of State under the EPAA, which would clarify how Cooper proceeds in seeking concurrence before acting.

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North Carolina police advise residents to ‘limit nonessential travel’ as fuel shortage grips the East Coast

Police in a North Carolina city advised residents Wednesday to “limit non-essential travel” and stop hoarding gasoline as the state grapples with a fuel shortage following a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline.

The city of Charlotte, which has seen 71% of its gas stations out of fuel, relies heavily on the Colonial Pipeline, said Capt. Brad Koch of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. He advised residents to leave their homes sparingly and check on their elderly neighbors as frustrations mount in the area.

“Limit nonessential travel,” Koch said. “If you do not have to come out and go out, please do not. … Check on your neighbors — your elderly neighbors that might not be able to get out. Just see if they need something. See if when you’re going out to the store, if you can pick something up.”

“Do not hoard fuel,” he continued. “We are going to get through this, similar to whenever we have severe weather and we seem to lose a lot of bread and milk at the stores, similarly to last year at the beginning of the pandemic.”

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6yo Boy Arrested, Forced to Go to Court for Picking a Flower at His Bus Stop

“Should a child that believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy be making life-altering decisions?” asked New Hanover County Chief District Court Judge Jay Corpening. This is a question which has come up repeatedly in the state of North Carolina as dozens of children as young a six are being processed into the criminal justice system. The latest case involves a 6-year-old boy who was arrested and forced to go to court because he picked a flower while waiting for the bus.

Attorney Julie Boyer’s child client was on trial for injury to real property after he stopped to pick a flower from a yard near his bus stop, according to The Herald-Sun. Illustrating the ridiculous nature of sending a child to court for picking a flower is the fact that he had no idea what was going on.

Boyer said she had to give the boy some crayons and a coloring book during the proceedings because he did not have the mental capacity to understand what was happening to him.

“I asked him to color a picture,” she said, “so he did.”

This is a serious problem and speaks to the archaic nature of the law in the state of North Carolina. Currently, the state’s juvenile system has the lowest minimum age in the world to enter the court system — which is six.

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