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Durham leaders want legislators to toughen bail rules; AdvancED not asking Wake school board on Tata firing

December 28, 2012 

Mayor Bill Bell and the City Council want Durham legislators to push a bill making it tougher for some gun-crime suspects to get out of jail on bail.

City administrators have drafted an amendment to the state law on pretrial release that would not allow magistrates to set bail for a suspect arrested for a firearm offense if the suspect was already on pretrial release for a gun-related offense or had been convicted of a gun crime within the previous five years.

A judge could approve pretrial release at a first-appearance hearing if the suspect could make a convincing case for it.

Earlier this year, Bell suggested setting the minimum bail for gun-crime arrests at $300,000 as a way to close a perceived “revolving door” in Durham’s judicial system. A number of judges opposed the idea, and the draft amendment is meant to be a compromise with their opinions, according to City Attorney Patrick Baker.

Tata and accreditation

How much does AdvancED plan to weigh the firing of former Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata when it reviews the complaint filed by the Wake County Taxpayers Association?

Mark Elgart, president of AdvancED, has been publicly critical of the firing, praising Tata’s tenure as superintendent. But AdvancED didn’t amend its list of questions to the school system to include Tata’s firing after the WCTA incorporated it into its amended complaint.

Jennifer Oliver, a spokeswoman for AdvancED, said it didn’t ask Wake to respond to the firing because it will consider the amended complaint when it reviews all the documents. Tata’s firing wasn’t mentioned at all in Wake’s response last week.

But school board member Chris Malone is suspicious about AdvancED’s not asking. He said it raises the questions he’s had about AdvancED’s impartiality since it first began investigation Wake in 2010 after the state NAACP filed its complaint.

“If it was a decision by Republicans getting rid of a Democratic superintendent, they would be all over it,” Malone said.

School board Chairman Keith Sutton said the firing was well within the board’s purview.

“We didn’t violate any board policies when we separated from the superintendent,” Sutton said. “That’s within the board’s right.”

Political trails

• Lanier Cansler, former secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, will speak to the Republican Women of Cary and Southwestern Wake on Thursday at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. The cost for lunch is $15. Check-in and social time is at 11:30 a.m., with lunch at noon. RSVP to Lisa at 919-303-8870.

Compiled by staff writers Jim Wise and T. Keung Hui.

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