Local

High-speed chase policy may change

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police may soon allow more high-speed chases of suspects.

Chief Rodney Monroe has formed a committee to look into changing the city's conservative policy, which allows officers to continue pursuit only if they believe the driver or occupant has committed, or is attempting to commit, a life-threatening felony.

Critics say the policy is too strict and hampers officers. Others say it's important to limit chases, especially in large and congested cities, where chases can endanger bystanders.

Monroe did not respond to requests for information Wednesday, though officials confirmed they are reconsidering the policy. Monroe announced his plan during a neighborhood meeting Tuesday.

Clay Barbour

Meck briefs

At least two more candidates want to succeed Mecklenburg County commissioner Valerie Woodard.

Dwayne Collins, chairman of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, plans a news conference today to announce his bid. Also, Geneal Gregory, a longtime Democratic Party and NAACP activist, said she also wants the seat. Woodard died earlier this month.

The pair join Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member George Dunlap and John Crawford, founder of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing Authority Scholarship Fund, in expressing interest.

The Mecklenburg County Democratic Party will hold a special election Monday. Up to 59 party members, including precinct leaders and elected officials who live in district 3, will be able to vote.

The party needs to find someone to fill the remaining months of Woodard's term, as well as a two-year term that starts in December. Woodard had served on the board since 2002 and was running unopposed.

The party could pick one person to fill both vacancies, or select one for each.

April Bethea

Charlotte

Two Charlotte charities today will be announced as winners of $200,000 grants through Bank of America's nationwide Neighborhood Excellence Initiative.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and YWCA Central Carolinas have each won the honor, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced in a news release.

The bank also named five “Local Heroes” who will be invited to direct a $5,000 Bank of America donation to the charity of their choice: Carlos Beteta, Elizabeth Black, Frances Hall, Aaron Means and Julian Wright.

Five student leaders were recognized. Each participated in an internship with a local nonprofit and a leadership summit in Washington, D.C.: Richard Allen, Joi Aria Emanuel, Jonathan Fox, Obinnaya Okwara and Arcena Todd.

Eric Frazier

The Wesley Mancini Foundation, which supports projects promoting the social inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals, is accepting applications until Nov. 1 for its 2009 grants.

Tax-exempt organizations or those with tax-qualified sponsors interested in receiving a grant application should contact Bob Scheer at 704-375-4275 (ext. 11).

Eric Frazier

Regional briefs

Wake County

Raleigh

N.C. leaders designed “inadequate and ineffective” oversight of the health insurance program for state employees and retirees that meant few other than its executive administrator knew it was deeply in the red, the state auditor's office said Wednesday.

The jumbled responsibility involves a legislative committee that wields the true power, a state insurance commissioner with authority to do little more than hire and fire the health plan's boss when legislators direct, and a health plan board of directors that can do little more than advise, Auditor Les Merritt's office said.

Legislators were told last month the plan could run out of cash to pay the claims of its 650,000 members late this year or early next year, and that it would need an infusion of at least $100 million.

Associated Press

Elsewhere

Fred Baron, the Dallas trial lawyer who raised money for John Edwards' presidential campaigns and has acknowledged that he paid to relocate the former candidate's mistress, is dying of cancer, his son says.

Baron, who served as finance chairman of Edwards' two presidential campaigns, has been diagnosed with final stage multiple myeloma, according to a blog post by his son, Andrew Baron.

Baron entered the spotlight in August, after Edwards admitted that he'd had an affair with Rielle Hunter, a former campaign videographer. Baron said he helped Hunter and Andrew Young, a former campaign aide who claimed paternity of Hunter's child, avoid tabloid reporters by moving them from North Carolina to California. Baron said in August that he wasn't aware of Edwards' affair at the time.

Now Andrew Baron is fighting a drug company for permission to use a medication that he says may represent his father's last chance.

The drug, known as Tysabri, has not been approved for cancer treatment, and the company has refused to allow it to be used on Baron.

Ames Alexander
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