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Chavis: Perdue one of NC's greatest governors

The Rev. Ben Chavis, a member of the Wilmington 10, publicly thanked former Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue for pardoning the Wilmington 10.

“Since this is my first trip back to Raleigh, I must pay tribute to the first woman governor of North Carolina – one of the best governors this state has ever had, Gov. Beverly Perdue,” Chavis told a breakfast of the Jefferson-Jackson Day Democratic fund raising at the North Raleigh Hilton that was attended by more than 200 people.

Chavis, was a 24-year old civil rights leader, when he along with nine others were convicted of arson in the role in racial disturbances in Wilmington. Chavis was sentenced to 34 years in prison in 1972, but his sentence was overturned by a federal appeals court in 1980.

Chavis, who went on to a career that included a stint as executive director of the NAACP, now lives in Florida.

Perdue issued a pardon of the Wilmington 10 in December, just days before she left office.

Chavis attended the breakfast to introduce former Congresswoman Eva Clayton, who introduced the main speaker, Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin.

No white smoke from Gov. Perdue's office today

The lame-duck governor watch sits at 11* days. But no white smoke from Gov. Bev Perdue's office is expected Wednesday, a spokesman said.

A huge pile of big decisions still sits on the Democratic governor's desk. Among them: a formal lease with the city of Raleigh for the Dix property; appoint a N.C. Court of Appeals judge; take action on the Wilmington 10 pardon request; and review dozens of other pardon rquests.

*Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr doesn't agree with our count. "Governor Perdue's term ends in 5 days not 11," he wrote to Dome. "Governor-elect McCrory's term begins per the NC Constitution on January 1 whether he takes the oath of office then or not."

Orr's argument is one we've detailed before. But it's not traditional practice and it hasn't been challenged in the past. Tradition usually puts the new governor in office much later. McCrory's actually getting sworn in a week before his inauguration.

Fitzsimon: Time for Perdue to pardon Wilmington 10

Chris Fitzsimon in his blog N.C. Policy Watch writes that Gov. Bev Perdue should pardon the Wilmington 10 before she leaves office.

"Beverly Perdue is the duly elected Governor of North Carolina for almost another three weeks regardless of the difficulty Republican legislative leaders seem to be having coming to grips with that," writes Fitzsimon.

Perdue has been busy lately, leading the effort to turn the Dorothea Dix property into a destination park, working on a plan to keep people with a mental illness from being kicked out of group homes, and weighing possible judicial appointments.

Perdue, like every outgoing governor or president, also faces a stack of hundreds of requests for pardons.

One needs to rise to the top soon and demands her serious attention, the case of the Wilmington 10.

Morning Roundup: Perdue raises budget stakes, as Democrats scramble in Charlotte

Gov. Bev Perdue on Tuesday again urged legislators to rework the state budget they passed last week but would not say whether she intends to veto the $20.2 billion state spending plan. “They need to keep working,” Perdue said during a brief news conference. “They need to reach down deep and do more for the children of this state.” Read the full story here.

--Local and national university presidents sent a letter to President Barack Obama and congressional leaders Tuesday, calling for an easier path to permanent resident status for foreign students.

--Democrats are scrambling after moving the convention's Labor Day event and it raised questions about how they’ll cope with security and protesters at an unprecedented, pre-convention street fair blocks from convention venues and likely security perimeters.

Weekend Roundup: Fracking in North Carolina could carry extra risks

North Carolina’s flirtation with fracking is increasingly looking like the real thing, with Republican lawmakers poised to pass sweeping legislation this summer that would lead to drilling for natural gas.The state may have just a fraction of the enormous natural gas reserves found in Texas and Pennsylvania. But fracking here will likely entail greater risks to drinking water supplies and may require special measures not used in other states. Full story here.

More political headlines from the weekend:

--Columnist Rob Christensen: If you turned on your TV last week, you could have seen political ads touting Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, or tearing down Walter Dalton or Pat McCory. In recent days, Romney toured a Charlotte factory floor, and first lady Michelle Obama gave a commencement speech at a Greensboro college campus. The South Carolina GOP pledged to send in 1,000 volunteers into the state. All sides were hiring political operatives and opening offices. In a battleground state, politics is a growth business.

Morning Roundup: John Edwards silent as case goes to jury

John Edwards’ defense said his moral failing was not necessarily a crime. Edwards was a Democratic presidential candidate who lied to his family, friends and the country about his affair with Rielle Hunter. He lied about being the father of a now-4-year-old daughter born to Hunter. For those lies, his attorney said in closing arguments Thursday, Edwards is "going to serve a life sentence."

Columnist Rob Christensen remarks on how a man known as a great courtroom closer, remained silent as the trial's arguments ended. The jury gets the case this morning.

More political headlines:

--Amid calls for him to use taxpayer money differently, State House Speaker Thom Tillis on Thursday stood by his decision to pay two former top staffers an extra month of salary after they resigned over improper intimate relationships with lobbyists.

Wilmington 10 seek pardon

Members of the Wilmington 10, the NAACP and the National Newspapers Publishers Association held a press conference on the State Capitol grounds Thursday to announce a petition for pardon of innocence.

The Wilmington 10 were a group of nine African-Americans and one white woman who protested segregation and education inequality in 1972. The group was wrongly prosecuted and convicted for the firebombing of Mike's Grocery, a white-owned store in Wilmington.

The Wilmington 10 connection

Thomas WrightJack Betts points out another Wilmington 10 connection.

In a post on This Old State, the Charlotte Observer editor writes that Rep. Thomas Wright's attorney has a connection to Wright's older brother's conviction in a politically charged case from the 1970s.

And by the way: Yes, Prof. Joyner is the same lawyer who did much of the work 30 years ago on the case of the Wilmington 10, where he represented Rep. Wright’s brother Joe, who was falsely accused and sent to prison on charges of firebombing a grocery store in Wilmington in 1971. Courts later overturned his conviction.

Wright has said that the emotional effects of the case on his family were "horrendous." 

Betts adds that Joyner was also a vice chairman of the Wilmington Race Riot Commission, which looked into the legislature and state newspaper's role in a racially motivated 1898 coup.

Thomas Wright's older brother

Thomas WrightRep. Thomas Wright's older brother spent four and a half years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

William "Joe" Wright II was one of the Wilmington 10, nine black men and a white woman arrested after violence broke out during protests of unequal treatment in school integration.

He and the others were convicted of firebombing a downtown grocery store and shooting at emergency workers, but key witnesses later recanted. Amnesty International once called the group "political prisoners."

In 2006, Thomas Wright told the Wilmington Star-News the memory was "still pretty touchy."

"The emotional, psychological and social impact and effect on my family was horrendous," he said. "My parents were looked upon in a jaundice kind of way by folks who were not friends of the family. People thought they raised a bad seed. My parents in some degree were ostracized."

In 1980, a federal appeals court judge overturned the convictions. Joe Wright died in 1990.

Why hasn't Wright resigned?

Thomas WrightWhy hasn't Rep. Thomas Wright resigned?

The Wilmington Democrat already faces criminal charges, multiple calls for his resignation and ethics hearings that could lead to his expulsion, so why is he staying?

One theory is that Wright, a self-employed EMS consultant, needs the money from his legislative pay. The Associated Press' Gary Robertson puts forward another today:

Wright's brother was one of the ''Wilmington 10,'' who were convicted of conspiracy to commit arson and to commit assault after a race riot in 1971. Label by many as political prisoners, the 10 were later were freed after a federal appeals court overturned their convictions.

Of course, Jim Black said his criminal cases were political too. 

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