Under the Dome

DA doesn't plan to investigate Black's son

Staff WritersNovember 14, 2007 

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Tuesday that he does not plan to launch an investigation into how the son of former House Speaker Jim Black received contracts to provide pest control at the state's newest three prisons, despite not being the low bidder.

The News & Observer reported Sunday that Black Pest Control had won the business despite other bidders who were willing to do the work for roughly a third of Black's price. Jon Black is the owner of the Charlotte company.

Willoughby said he could not begin an investigation because he did not see in the report evidence of a crime.

"At this point, without someone making an accusation that, if true, would be a violation of the law, I'm reluctant to conduct an investigation," he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Duffy, who prosecuted Jim Black on public corruption charges, said he could not comment on the prison contracts.

State Supreme Court

Suzanne Reynolds, a Wake Forest University law professor, plans to challenge N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds in next year's election.

Reynolds, a Democrat, is making her first run for political office.

She has been a law professor for the past 26 years and is regarded as an authority on family law. Reynolds helped draft the legislation modernizing the laws dealing with alimony and adoption.

9th District

Harry Taylor, a Charlotte businessman who publicly scolded President Bush last year, on Tuesday kicked off a campaign for Congress in North Carolina's 9th District.

Taylor, a Democrat, is the second Democrat to announce a challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick. Charlotte businessman Ross Overby also is running.

Taylor, 63, made international headlines last year when Bush took questions after a speech at Central Piedmont Community College. From a balcony, Taylor raised his hand and Bush called on him.

"I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened, by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency," Taylor told the president. "And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself."

Taylor alluded to that confrontation Tuesday.

"Those members of Congress who have made George Bush's presidency possible, in all its enormous failings, are as much to blame," he told about 40 people at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections.

Perdue gets union backing

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue on Tuesday picked up the endorsement of the United Transportation Union, which mainly represents railroad workers.

"Bev has been a friend of the members of UTU and North Carolina's working families, and we look forward to working with her as our state's next governor," said Richard Westbrook, director of the group's state legislative board.

Perdue had earlier picked up the backing of the N.C. Association of Educators, the National Association of Social Workers, EMILY's List, and the Women's Campaign Forum.

Hackney on the Hill

N.C. House Speaker Joe Hackney will be on Capitol Hill today lobbying Congress.

Hackney, an Orange County Democrat, is scheduled to lead a delegation of state lawmakers from across the country to meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Hackney said he wants to discuss the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP; the effect of the drought; and other issues.

Hackney is president-elect of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Singing Edwards' song

The soundtrack to John Edwards' 2004 presidential campaign was John Mellencamp's "Small Town."

So it was only fitting that, during a concert in Des Moines, Iowa, over the weekend, Mellencamp stopped during a rendition of his song to introduce Edwards.

"You know, I've got a friend that I've had for about the last seven or eight years. This guy's from a small town. And he just so happens to be running for president of the United States. ... Ladies and gentleman, John Edwards has come to see the show."

Edwards then walked on stage.

(Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer also contributed to this report.)

dan.kane@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4861.

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