Part I. The Scab

The end of Wendell Davis’ tenure as Durham County manager came together in a week, but it had been telegraphed for months and brewing for years.

On Thursday afternoon, after a 47-minute private meeting, the Durham County Board of Commissioners’ virtual special session blinked on, and Commissioner Wendy Jacobs nervously stammered through the stiff, bureaucratic motion she knew would set off a firestorm, terminating Davis’ contract on June 29, 2021. Commissioner Heidi Carter quickly seconded.

Jacobs and Carter are white. Davis is Black. The vote to oust Davis fell 3-2, with both of the board’s Black commissioners vehemently objecting.

“Sitting before me I see a rope, a knot, and a tree,” said Commissioner Nimasheena Burns.

“What I am left with is a knee on the neck of a Black man,” said Commissioner Brenda Howerton. She added, “I have lived through many adverse racial situations, including the Jim Crow era. This motion is perhaps one of the most racially motivated I have witnessed on this board in my 12 years of service.”

The sharp, vitriolic leadership struggle that culminated in Davis’ removal has shaken North Carolina’s most liberal county and split its racially diverse political coalition.

For some progressive activists, Davis represented timidity, fiscal conservatism, and underhanded tactics. As one critic told me, “He literally thinks like a goddamn Republican.”

But for others, Davis’ removal is yet another sign that Durham’s talk of racial equity is performative: a thriving city charging leftward with Black Lives Matter signs lining manicured lawns in gentrifying neighborhoods. Or as Davis himself put it, “Too often, bigotry is cloaked in the most liberal of circumstances.”

Durham is the face of a new liberal vision for North Carolina. But its political establishment is threatening to tear itself apart.

The dominos started falling 450 days earlier.

On Feb. 18, 2020, a source forwarded me a letter in which Davis pointedly accused Commissioner Heidi Carter of being racially biased toward him and other staff members.

“I am now concerned that it is due to an inherent bias that you harbor not merely towards me, but people of color in general,” Davis wrote. “You have demonstrated a consistent pattern of disparate treatment towards me and employees of color.”

It was an unprecedented broadside by a county manager against an elected official—one of his bosses—just two weeks before an election. And not just any elected official; Carter is one of Durham’s most reliably progressive politicians. During the campaign, she said racial equity was her top priority. INDY Week, where I was then the editor, broke the story that afternoon.

Carter’s allies—many affiliated with the liberal People’s Alliance (PA), the county’s most influential PAC—saw political calculations at play: The five winners of the March election would decide whether to renew Davis’ contract. Davis knew he wouldn’t have Carter’s support, and the letter leaked while early voting was underway.

Davis’ allies—many affiliated with the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, a storied organization whose electoral clout has weakened—were outraged at that blithe dismissal, which they saw as part of a pattern of mistreatment by white progressives.

Over the last 15 months, Durham polarized—mostly, though not exclusively, along racial lines. As former Superior Court Judge Elaine O’Neal told me, “We seem to be a more fractured community than I’ve ever seen.”

For all the heat, however, there’s been little light. The story of Davis’ tenure and the fight that led to his dismissal has largely gone unexamined. Drawing on interviews with more than 20 Durham County insiders (some on condition of anonymity), countless hours of meetings, and thousands of pages of court documents and government records, this piece examines not only the circumstances of Davis’ removal but why it took on a life of its own.

“On a surface level, Durham seems to be at the forefront of all kinds of racial equity issues,” said Henry McKoy, the director of entrepreneurship at North Carolina Central University and a Davis supporter. “But once you start lifting up the hood, it looks very different up close.”

Part II. The Scar

The Gilded Age tycoon Julian S. Carr was a virulent white supremacist and Klan member. He also funded St. Joseph’s AME Church in Durham’s Black Hayti neighborhood, built Black hospitals and universities, and loaned money to Black entrepreneurs.

To Carr, this wasn’t a contradiction, but paternalism. As long as Blacks played by white rules—no politics, no integration—they’d benefit from his largesse.

In Durham, which formed after the Civil War, a unique laissez-faire system emerged. Left alone, Black communities like Hayti flourished as commercial and cultural hubs. Durham became known as the “Capital of the Black Middle Class.” But as violent backlash to Black success broke across the country—in Wilmington in 1898, or Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921—Black leaders recognized they needed to join the political fray.

In 1935, they formed the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs (now the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People). The early committee was conservative and conciliatory, but it made incremental strides. In 1953, Rencher Nicholas Harris became the first African American elected to the city council. A decade later, integration was well underway.

But for all the gains, one betrayal left a lasting scar. Under a federal urban-renewal program, Durham targeted a “blighted” section of Hayti that had seen rising crime and business closures for “revitalization.”

In 1960, city voters narrowly approved an $8.6 million bond to fund urban renewal and an expressway to the new Research Triangle Park. Black leaders supported the project on promises of redevelopment. The city leveled the northern section of Hayti and erected the Durham Freeway atop part of its ruins, but the new reinvestment never came.

Illustration by Lily Qian

White leaders turned their attention to downtown instead and spent 14 years burying downtown utility lines, building parking garages and a much-maligned traffic loop. By the time construction finished tearing up streets, downtown was dead. (A generation later, its revival was also built on Black displacement, this time through gentrification.)

Meanwhile, decades of white flight decimated public schools. By 1990, city schools were 90 percent Black, starved of funds, and facing a budget crisis. By 1992, county commissioners had little choice but to merge the city and county school districts into Durham Public Schools (DPS). The shotgun wedding didn’t make for a happy marriage. DPS’ first three decades were marred by brawls in racially divided school board meetings and the proliferation of charter schools, leaving it with an impoverished, mostly minority, student population.

For Durham today, the landscape is one of deep inequity, fueled by a history of white paternalism and broken promises. McKoy, the professor and former state assistant secretary of commerce, says the divide is driven by choices, even well-intentioned ones.

In wealthy areas, local governments create more wealth by investing in public-private partnerships to renovate commercial buildings and tax incentives to lure corporations. But investments in lower-income communities of color “tend to further tether you to the social services,” McKoy said. Government leaders look at struggling neighborhoods and see the need for things like low-income housing and basketball courts and community centers.

“There’s nothing wrong with a community center, but you can’t build an economy from a community center,” he told me. “There’s a very paternalistic way by which capital flows to the community.”

That helps explain one of the more counterintuitive findings in McKoy’s research on racial-wealth disparities. Every city has them, he said. But “the biggest inequities were in places that are traditionally considered to be liberal, that profess themselves to be really liberal.”

Places like Durham.

Part III. The Boss

Wendell Davis didn’t win his job so much as he was the last candidate standing.

The 21st of 22 children born to Halifax County sharecroppers, the N.C. Central alumnus had become Durham County’s deputy manager in 1999. For most of the next 12 years, the methodical, professorial Davis had a tense relationship with County Manager Mike Ruffin, who thought him untrustworthy. Davis ultimately left in 2011 to become vice chancellor for administration and finance at his alma mater.

But when Ruffin announced his retirement in 2013, Davis threw his hat in. A pool of a half-dozen soon narrowed to two, both Black. For months, the board was indecisive.

Marqueta Welton, then the deputy manager, scored higher on assessments during interviews for the county manager position, according to four sources knowledgeable of the hiring process. But Davis had a network of friends who pushed hard for his appointment. “Two commissioners specifically told me they could not take the pressure they were getting from Mr. Davis’ supporters,” Welton later said in a deposition.

In January 2014, commissioners flew Welton and Davis to Washington, D.C., for interviews with a hiring consultant. But by the time commissioners learned the consultant selected Welton, she’d withdrawn her application. The competition “had become very contentious and politically divided, and I didn’t want the position under those circumstances,” she testified.

In a deposition, Davis said he didn’t know how he was chosen. “They made the decision. I didn’t. I was merely a candidate.”

In 2017, Welton sued the county, alleging that Davis had retaliated against her, “reassigning” her from deputy manager to economic development director and cutting her pay from about $172,000 to $86,000. Davis testified that Welton’s reassignment was part of a larger reorganization, and the people he chose for top positions had “greater skill sets” and “better attitudes” than she did.

In April 2016, Welton filed a grievance challenging her demotion and copied the Board of County Commissioners. For violating the chain of command—grievances involving the manager go to the manager—Davis formally reprimanded Welton, saying she had “undermined the final authority vested in the county manager … for self-serving reasons.”

Welton quit in December 2016. Her lawsuit was ultimately dismissed for failing to show that her demotion was due to retaliation. Welton, who declined to comment, is now chief of staff at the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Because Durham is a one-party town, commissioners are effectively elected in the March primary but not sworn in until December. In 2016, this lame-duck period proved portentous.

Two months after 2016’s March primary, Commissioners Michael Page and Fred Foster, who lost their reelection bids, joined Commissioner Howerton to extend Davis’ contract for five years. Davis’ contract wasn’t set to expire, but the terms they approved made it exorbitantly expensive for the incoming board to remove him.

Wendy Jacobs and Ellen Reckhow—at the time, the board’s two white commissioners—voted no. Lavonia Allison, a former chair of the Durham Committee PAC, called their opposition “racial.”

During the same lame-duck period, commissioners weighed in on the most significant point of contention in county politics—school funding—placing a $90 million school-construction bond on the November ballot, rather than the $186 million DPS said it needed or the $110 million it asked for.

The bulk of the money, $52 million, was earmarked to replace the aging Northern High School, but rising construction costs soon doubled the project’s price tag. Unable to build Northern, the school system sat on the funds.

DPS’ backlog grew. A 2019 assessment found that DPS needs to spend $727 million on construction and maintenance in the next decade. The county refused to take on that much debt, chiding the school district for not spending money from the last bond. DPS said it was waiting on a county guarantee that if it shifted the funds to another project, Northern High wouldn’t be forgotten.

“We continue to be accused of not having our stuff together,” said school board member Mike Lee. “I think of it as a tactic to push back against the things we need here.”

Following a contentious meeting between the school board and commissioners in November 2019, Davis asked the school system to pare down its construction list. On Feb. 3, 2020, he folded the update into a revised list of Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and presented it during a board work session.

Commissioner Heidi Carter lit into him.

Carter’s political start came on the school board, where she served for 12 years. She was its chair in 2015, when DPS asked the county to increase its budget by $7.8 million. Davis recommended just $1.8 million, saying DPS should remember it was just one of “the myriad Durham County service departments” and had not shown “the academic outcomes necessary to meet our long-term strategic goal of community and family prosperity and enrichment.”

Carter ran for commissioner a year later.

Davis’ approach to school funding was similar to that of his predecessor, Ruffin, a fiscally moderate manager working with a like-minded board; his policies reflected their priorities. But that dynamic shifted in 2016, when Carter’s arrival gave the board’s progressives a majority, especially on school funding. Davis didn’t shift with it—at least, not enough to satisfy Carter, who thought he hadn’t made schools a high-enough priority.

“I am incredibly frustrated,” Carter said during last February’s work session as Davis presented the new spending plan. “I think we needed it months ago, and I’m frustrated that it took a near emergency”—an elementary school’s heating system had failed—“and an outcry from the public and emails to us and threats to make this part of the campaign season for us to get this revised CIP.

“I feel like if, you know, the direction had been given from management to you all, we could have gotten this sooner, and we should have had it sooner. I feel like­—”

Davis tried to interject. “I—”

“I’m not finished,” Carter cut him off. “I’d like to finish, if I could, please.”

“And I have something I’d like to say—”

“That’s fine,” Carter said, flustered, avoiding eye contact. “But I’d like to finish, if I could, please.”

Months ago, she continued, commissioners asked the staff to find more money for schools, even cutting other county projects if necessary. She’d heard nothing since.

“I just feel like this revised plan—which looks fantastic to me—could have come to us much sooner if we had had the appropriate direction from the top,” Carter said.

The meeting moved on. Eight days later, on Feb. 11, Davis mailed Carter a letter.

Part IV. The Letter

On Feb. 27, Davis’ allies packed a commissioners meeting to demand an investigation into Davis’ allegations.

The board ordered two investigations: one into Davis’ allegations of racial bias, another into whether Davis violated the law or breached ethics codes while doing so. The county hired Duke University law professor James Coleman to conduct both. Released in August, two months after George Floyd’s killing and as the nation grappled with a growing awareness of systemic racism, Coleman’s report was diplomatic: No evidence Carter was racially biased. No evidence Davis did anything illegal or unethical. Lots of evidence the county government was in turmoil.

Coleman concluded that some of Carter’s remarks could “reasonably” have been perceived as racially biased. Carter’s criticism of Davis over school construction was inaccurate, Coleman wrote. Davis received DPS’ list a week before the work session, and he couldn’t create a new plan without it. When confronted with her error, she refused to back down. Had she been less “acidic,” as one person described her to Coleman, this imbroglio might have been avoided.

But Carter’s allies told me that Coleman’s narrow view missed Carter’s point. Davis’ staff always followed one request for information with another, delaying big, priority items. A bond referendum the school board thought would go on the 2018 ballot was bumped to 2020, then to 2022. “At every single step, we’ve given them exactly what they’ve asked for,” school board member Mike Lee said. “They continue to move the goalposts.”

In a footnote, Coleman acknowledged that most commissioners thought Davis had “inappropriately slow-walked board initiatives that he opposes on policy grounds.”

In addition, Coleman’s report highlighted what Davis and some senior staff members viewed as Carter’s “persistent questions” about an employee-compensation study, which they believed came from a lack of trust in their abilities that they attributed to racial bias. But her questions—like those of other commissioners—appeared to be genuine attempts to clarify confusing information, according to emails I reviewed.

“The commissioners got crappy presentations,” a county staffer told me. Ahead of commissioners’ final review of the study in September 2019, Carter twice asked Davis for a comparison of the county’s proposed pay rates to those of competitive markets, emails show. She didn’t receive it.

Davis also complained about “micromanagement,” particularly from Commissioner Jacobs, to whom he and his team ascribed racial motives. But county sources told me commissioners tend to dig in when they see a void.

An example: Until late 2020, the county did not have a transit-policy director. After commissioners approved the position in 2019, Davis took 18 months to hire somebody. Transit wasn’t high among his priorities, sources told me. So, during Durham’s light rail push—which collapsed in 2019—Jacobs and former Commissioner Reckhow made themselves experts.

“Nature abhors a vacuum,” the official said. “So do commissioners.”

Coleman’s report also cleared Davis of ethical wrongdoing, but how he arrived at that decision leaves more questions than answers.

“There is no evidence to support the claim that the February 11, 2020, letter was intended to influence the primary election,” Coleman wrote. He noted that Davis said his goal was to “encourage” Carter to “reflect how her pattern of statements had impacted me.”

Three days after Davis mailed Carter the letter, he emailed it to commissioners. Four days after that, it was leaked to the media. Coleman didn’t explore the leak’s provenance, nor did he ask why, if Davis’ goal was simply to change Carter’s behavior, he didn’t wait two weeks until after the primary.

Illustration by Lily Qian

And while Coleman concluded that Davis didn’t mean to influence the election, he also said the manager “knew or should have known that his letter and subsequent public discussion of the allegations made in the letter [would] undermine [Carter] or the public’s trust in the board.”

The report’s oddest finding was that “under normal circumstances,” Davis would have violated ethics rules requiring him to support the public’s trust in government institutions. But Carter’s refusal to apologize after the work session—and Jacobs’ refusal to make her—absolved him. These events “relieved Mr. Davis of his ethical obligation to treat his complaint privately,” Coleman said.

Part V. The Wreckage

Nearly every story written about Durham politics in the last nine months has quoted the same line from Coleman’s report: “Durham County government is in a state of periodic dysfunction.”

This December, as that dysfunction crept from periodic to constant, a 27-year-old newcomer was dropped into the middle of it.

With the People’s Alliance-backed white progressives Jacobs and Carter on one side, and the Durham Committee-allied Black commissioners Howerton and Burns on the other, Nida Allam became the first Muslim American woman to hold elected office in North Carolina. Her victory garnered national attention. With a compelling backstory and soft-spoken earnestness, Allam finds herself on the short list of North Carolina’s young politicians to watch.

Her first months in the arena, however, have been anything but idyllic. The night before Allam was sworn in, a local activist called her 13 times, referring to her as “that Muslim woman” and questioning her birth certificate. The caller wasn’t a white supremacist, Allam later posted on Facebook, but “someone who knows me, someone who is cherished in Durham, someone I have worked alongside. Islamophobia and xenophobia are real even in communities of color.”

Right away, the new board quarreled over leadership roles and split along racial lines. Allam tried to broker an agreement to make Howerton chair and Jacobs vice chair. But Howerton, who has an antagonistic relationship with Jacobs, backed Burns for vice chair. Jacobs prevailed 3-2.

Tensions reached a boil on March 8, when County Attorney Lowell Siler asked commissioners to hire the Robert Bobb Group to conduct the racial-equity training the board agreed to following the Coleman report. People’s Alliance co-President Millicent Rogers and six others wrote in protest, pointing out that when Bobb was the emergency financial manager of Detroit’s school system, he closed schools and advocated for charters.

“How can the commission hire someone to advise them on ‘policy deliberations’ and ‘effective communication’ who so clearly does not align with our values as a community?” asked Durham teacher Millie Rosen.

Commissioner Howerton responded on her Facebook page: “GO AHEAD, LYNCH ANOTHER BLACK MAN.”

The commissioners, all but Howerton, voted against the contract, taking issue with the county attorney arranging a no-bid, $50,000 contract they didn’t see until a day or two prior. Commissioner Burns, while voting against the contract, scorned the “political theater” and dismissed “those copy-and-pasted emails” commissioners had received: “I understand, you know, if you can’t get your thoughts together, you might have to lean on the language of somebody else; I get that.” (None of the emails appear to be form letters.)

The political theater continued when Howerton tried to force Carter to recuse herself from votes on Davis’ contract. Howerton’s motion failed; nothing in state law requires, or even encourages, a commissioner to recuse themselves from a vote in this situation.

Two weeks later, however, the Durham Committee sent a letter arguing that Carter’s participation in “any contract renegotiations presents a clear conflict of interest and is a great liability to the taxpayers and this board.”

In part, the committee was responding to a statement the PA made on March 8 that called for the board to “appoint a manager whose governing philosophy and leadership style most aligns with their own. … Too often, we have seen leaders focus excessively on risk-avoidance rather than getting things done to materially benefit Durham’s residents.” In other words, replace Davis with someone more amenable to the PA.

In mid-April, the Durham Committee and the allied Friends of Durham held a press conference calling on commissioners not to vote on Davis’ contract “until the commission no longer operates out of the current dysfunction.” What that point would be wasn’t clear. But if commissioners didn’t act by June 30, Davis’ contract would automatically extend for a year.

The press conference may have foreshadowed a different political contest. Elaine O’Neal’s denunciation of a “culture of anti-Blackness” drove The News & Observer’s headline, but the story didn’t mention that she’s running for Durham mayor, likely against incumbent Steve Schewel, a white liberal backed by the PA.

Last week, Commissioners Carter, Jacobs, and Allam ripped off the Band-Aid, ignoring the Durham Committee’s demands and placing Davis on paid leave until his contract expires.

There’s nothing particularly unusual about Wendell Davis losing his job. For county managers, getting fired—or not having contracts renewed—goes with the territory. So does getting yelled at, fairly or not, by elected officials.

“Every manager has to deal with that,” said Kim Nelson, professor of public administration and government at the UNC School of Government. “All this stuff—so, you know it’s very common. A lot worse stuff [happens].”

But Davis’ supporters say the pattern of behavior that Davis described painted a familiar picture. For Henry McKoy, Davis’ story made him think about a time when he spoke before a government board and a member kept asking if he’d consulted with white colleagues.

“I don’t think the person who said that to me actually felt like, ‘Oh, well, I’m degrading this guy by asking for a white person,’” McKoy said. “I think it just went to some kind of mental place where, ‘This person over here, I’m going to use them as a standard.’ I would suspect that [Carter] has no sense that she’s ever biased. I think the idea that she would be probably triggered something in her.”

“If it was a job-performance issue, a legitimate job-performance issue, then it’s fair game,” said Antonio Jones, chair of the Durham Committee. “[But] you know when something’s unprofessional. That’s when it starts to rub. When it’s one or two things, people might have had a bad day. When it’s consistent data, that’s when it becomes problematic.”

What Davis described didn’t surprise him, Jones said. When he was a DPS school treasurer and Carter was on the school board, Black employees noticed something similar. “That’s her personality.”

County employees were “extremely satisfied” with Davis, said former Commissioner Michael Page, who argued that the board’s reasons for dismissing him were strictly personal. “Why don’t you try to work out your disagreements with him?”

“There’s a perception in the Black community that the people who serve as county staff who are Black are treated differently than those who are white,” the Rev. Carl Kenney, a former Durham Herald-Sun columnist and ally of Davis, told me. “There’s this sense in which the county commissioners [think they] have an obligation to do his job better than he does it. That’s part of the problem, this sense that the white folks in the room have the power to manage the Black guy in the room.”

Davis’ supporters point out that Durham County is in enviable financial shape. It has excellent credit and can borrow at very low rates. It’s well-positioned to weather an economic downturn. Despite the school board’s complaints, DPS is among the best-funded systems in the state. And if commissioners think the manager isn’t recommending enough money for schools or anything else, they can override him. They make policy; he doesn’t.

But the county’s AAA bond rating existed long before Davis was manager. As a percentage of revenue, Durham County’s unrestricted fund balance—basically, spendable cash—dwarfs that of every other AAA-rated North Carolina county. With interest rates low and the county’s needs high, progressives told me, the payoff for keeping that much money in the bank is debatable. And while DPS is well-funded compared with other large counties, the school district faces obstacles others don’t, including one of the state’s most impoverished student populations.

It’s true that commissioners can overrule a manager. But it’s also true that managers can constrain commissioners’ choices and delay projects they don’t consider priorities. Davis, his critics say, did both.

As one county official put it, “We have been a very status-quo operation.”

This is the problem with assessing Davis’ tenure. To polarized camps, the same set of facts tell a different narrative. And to an organization that needs innovation, competence doesn’t necessarily equal good management.

“This is a big ship,” a county source told me. “It goes in a straight line. It’s hard to mess it up.”

Davis’ departure presents some immediate challenges for the county. Some senior-level staffers may quit. Davis’ allies have talked about a lawsuit, though proving retaliation or racial discrimination will be a steep climb. And finding a new manager in this pitched climate could prove difficult.

But the real battle has always been about more than just him.

“The whole story is really very simple,” a PA-allied source messaged me in April. “Who is going to control Durham County government? The Committee/Friends [of Durham]—i.e., conservatives/Republicans, etc.—or the PA, DAE [Durham Association of Educators], progressive groups, etc.”

Of course, the faction described as “Republicans” includes Black voters who form the core of the Democratic Party—and without whom the party’s hopes in North Carolina are tenuous, at best.

Foster, a Black former commissioner dropped by the PA for his stance against increasing school funding, says the progressive-conservative framework is a canard. “It’s a racial divide, but they do it under the guise of ‘liberal’ and ‘getting along,’” he argued. “We bring in ‘progressives’ while we gentrify all the Black people and move them right on out of here. That’s not progressive to me.”

As wealthy liberals became more politically powerful, Foster says, they also became more intolerant of dissent. “That’s what these people in Durham are saying. ‘I don’t care if it’s right or wrong. If you don’t do what we tell you to do, you out.’”

The PA has that kind of clout because it wins elections: all but one city council member and one county commissioner had the PAC’s backing. On both bodies—as well as in other county and legislative races—PA candidates represent a diverse cross-section of progressives.

“I think they like to create this narrative that it’s about the PA being white people who are used to telling brown and Black people what to do,” said the PA’s Millicent Rogers, who is Black. “But the PA is definitely not against the [Durham] Committee. We’ve worked with them on housing in Durham. We’ve worked with them on education in Durham. We’re not aligned on everything. But we don’t have to be aligned on everything in order to work together.”

But the PA’s success has nonetheless stirred resentment among those who see the group imposing its will on those its leaders say they want to help. Durham isn’t about to turn red. But no progressive, multicultural coalition can hold together when a key piece feels like it’s no longer wanted.

Davis’ removal is “a power play for the soul of the city,” said Kenney, who has been a vocal advocate for Davis on his blog. “I think this all comes down to just fighting for the political identity of a community, part of which wants to shift one way, part of which wants to continue to shift in different ways. And this is all about who’s going to control the soul of the city.”

The People’s Alliance camp won this round. The next fight for the city’s soul—the municipal elections—begins in a few months. The Davis affair will take center stage. The details might be forgotten. But what will matter is that the cracks in the coalition’s façade are now impossible to ignore.

“We play well together, meaning Black and white folks and other groups of people,” Antonio Jones said. “We could put together a nice, good graphic about progressive policies. But we’ve never had a reconciliation period.”

Jeffrey Billman reports on politics and the law for The Assembly. He is the former editor-in-chief of INDY Week in Durham. Email him at

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