RDU On the Rise: Moore Co. back in business, NC at SCOTUS & our ultimate holiday playlist

Happy Friday!

This is Tyler Dukes, investigative reporter for the N&O, back for another edition of RDU On the Rise.

It’s nice to be home in Raleigh after a quick trip to Washington, D.C., this week — my first time traveling to the capital by train. I found the skyline from Union Station a particularly festive sight when I got back.

The view of the holiday-themed downtown skyline from Raleigh’s Union Station on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.
The view of the holiday-themed downtown skyline from Raleigh’s Union Station on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

Now that we’re all here, let’s talk about what’s coming up and recap what happened this week.

Things to do: Holiday edition

There’s a ton more in The N&O Holiday Events Guide.

Help us craft the ultimate holiday playlist

Here’s a thing you should know about me: I love Christmas music.

But it gets draining to hear the same stuff again and again (sorry, Mariah). So with your help, the whole RDU On the Rise newsletter crew is curating the ultimate holiday playlist on Spotify.

A crew installs Christmas lights on a 1.3 mile route at Dorothea Dix Park. Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The drive-thru holiday light show sponsored by WRAL in partnership with the City of Raleigh will operate nightly from November 25 through December 24, 2022.
A crew installs Christmas lights on a 1.3 mile route at Dorothea Dix Park. Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The drive-thru holiday light show sponsored by WRAL in partnership with the City of Raleigh will operate nightly from November 25 through December 24, 2022.

It’s a perfect soundtrack for exploring any of the excellent, free Triangle light shows my colleague Kimberly Cataudella has compiled for you.

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We’ve already added a few of our favorites (the Future Islands cover of Last Christmas is my new top pick), but we want to hear yours! Submit your top picks for our consideration via this Google form. Any winter or seasonal holiday music is eligible.

We’re not looking for any old Christmas Muzak here — nothing we’re going to get tired of by mid-December. Send us your dearest deep cuts! Your best bops! Your songs that slap! Did I use those terms right? I don’t know, I’m apparently an elder millennial!

‘Open for business’ again

Power is fully restored for folks in Moore County after authorities say someone shot up two area substations in an act of deliberate vandalism. Moore is about 70 miles southwest of the Triangle, depending on where you are.

Days without electricity have done damage to business owners during a normally busy holiday shopping, as the N&O’s Brian Gordon reported.

And as my colleagues Carli Brosseau and Dan Kane reported earlier this week, investigators remain tight-lipped about whether the incident qualifies as domestic terrorism or whether it’s tied to local far-right groups and their opposition to a local drag show the night the lights blinked out.

Sarah Baker and Scott Patterson make breakfast by candlelight Wednesday morning, Dec. 7, 2022 at Fox Lake Farm in Southern Pines. Two deliberate attacks on electrical substations in Moore County Saturday evening caused days-long power outages for tens of thousands of customers.
Sarah Baker and Scott Patterson make breakfast by candlelight Wednesday morning, Dec. 7, 2022 at Fox Lake Farm in Southern Pines. Two deliberate attacks on electrical substations in Moore County Saturday evening caused days-long power outages for tens of thousands of customers.

The FBI is asking the public for help, and a reward for information is now up to $75,000. And at least one lawmaker hinted that the state legislature may look to toughen penalties on similar attacks.

Now there’s another wrinkle to the story: Richard Stradling reports a substation about three hours east of Moore County was vandalized in mid-November, temporarily leaving about 12,000 homes and businesses in the dark weeks before the Moore County attack.

Checks and balances?

Should state legislatures have unlimited power over federal elections?

That’s essentially what attorneys for North Carolina’s Republican leaders argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this week, the culmination of yet another gerrymandering case that puts our state in the national spotlight. This “independent state legislature” theory contends that the U.S. Constitution grants state lawmakers nearly unlimited power to write rules for Congressional and presidential contests.

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in October 2017 as justices heard arguments in a key gerrymandering case. A new case, Moore v. Harper, was before the court Dec. 7, 2022. It could further loosen rules for politicians to gerrymander their districts.
Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in October 2017 as justices heard arguments in a key gerrymandering case. A new case, Moore v. Harper, was before the court Dec. 7, 2022. It could further loosen rules for politicians to gerrymander their districts.

If justices agree, that would remove judicial oversight in state courts (where lawmakers have lost several high-profile political lawsuits in recent years) — not just here in North Carolina, but across the nation.

My colleague and fellow gerrymandering news addict Will Doran did a great breakdown of the justices’ key questions and why they matter, and or you can check out the full transcript for yourself.

And if you really want to learn more about the history of gerrymandering and North Carolina’s central role in the national debate, check out our podcast Monster: Maps, Math and Power.

In other news

  • Rent on the rise: N&O reporter Chantal Allam wants to talk to folks impacted by skyrocketing rents in the Triangle.

  • Don’t worry, bear happy: A bear was spotted in Cary, but you don’t need to be alarmed.

  • Happy holidays: See how you can visit the decked out NC Executive Mansion.

  • “Gem” of land: Chapel Hill needs parks and housing. The town council decided this site can meet both needs.

  • Big Poultry: Cloaked in secrecy, North Carolina’s poultry industry has taken flight. What’s the cost? Catch up with our new investigative series.

  • More Medicaid: State lawmakers say they’ll try again to expand Medicaid during the upcoming long session next year.

  • Crypto corruption: Ousted U.S. Rep Madison Cawthorn was fined $15,000 after the House Ethics Committee found he promoted the “Let’s Go Brandon” meme coin cryptocurrency, in which he had a financial stake.

  • Centennial home for sale: A 250-year-old property in Hillsborough could be yours for less than $1 million.

Triangle MLS
Triangle MLS

Enjoy the weekend

Thanks for reading. We will see you back here next week, when senior audience growth producer Paola Pérez takes the reins of RDU On the Rise.

Before you go:

Tyler Dukes is an investigative reporter for The News & Observer who specializes in data and public records. In 2017, he completed a fellowship at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Prior to joining the N&O, he worked as an investigative reporter at WRAL News in Raleigh. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University and grew up in Elizabeth City.
Tyler Dukes is an investigative reporter for The News & Observer who specializes in data and public records. In 2017, he completed a fellowship at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Prior to joining the N&O, he worked as an investigative reporter at WRAL News in Raleigh. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University and grew up in Elizabeth City.