by YES! Staff

Vicce President Joe Biden tells Wake Forest grads they live in a different world

Vice President Joe Biden quoted Irish poet William Butler Yeats in his commencement address to Wake Forest University’s Class of ’09 on Monday. “There’s a great line in one of Yeats’ poems about the first rising in Ireland,” said Biden, according to a transcript of his remarks released by the White House. “It’s called ‘Easter Sunday, 1916.’ And the line is more applicable to your generation than it was to his Ireland in 1960. And he said, ‘All changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born.’ When I graduated, all had not changed utterly yet. Today, it has. And in the last 12 to 15 years, a terrible beauty has been born. It’s a different world out there than it has been any time in the last millennia. But we have an opportunity to make it beautiful, because it is in motion. We have an opportunity to change it. But absent our leadership, it will continue to careen down the path we’re going now. And that could be terrible.” — JG

Roy Cooper won’t run against Richard Burr

NC Attorney General Roy Cooper says he will not run against US Sen. Richard Burr in 2010. In a statement released May 15, Cooper said he was grateful for the encouragement and support he received to make a bid for the US Senate and he remains committed to public service. However, Cooper said he prefers to serve in North Carolina rather than Washington. Cooper’s announcement ended months of speculation that the highly popular attorney general would challenge Burr, the Republican incumbent from Winston-Salem. Cooper had a one-on-one meeting with President Obama on May 11 shortly after the president welcomed the University of North Carolina basketball team to the White House to congratulate them on their national championship. Morgan Jackson, one of Cooper’s political advisers, confirmed that Cooper and Obama enjoyed some private time in the Oval Office, but Jackson would not speculate on what Obama and Cooper talked about. Cooper defeated Republican challenger Bob Crumley by a 22-point margin in the general election last November to earn his third term as attorney general. Cooper said he’s committed to improve the lives of the state’s residents. “I am taking action right here in North Carolina to boost our economy, bolster education, improve our health care and make us more secure,” he said in his statement. — KTB

General Assembly passes smoking ban

The NC General Assembly adopted a ban on smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants, by a vote of 62-56 on May 13. The law takes effect Jan. 2, 2010. The law allows also local governments to adopt smoking regulations that are more restrictive than state law. That provision of the new law essentially overturns a law passed by the General Assembly in 1993 that prohibited local governments from passing smoking regulations that were more restrictive than state law. Under the new law, any person who owns, manages or operates a business, including a bar or restaurant, must display no smoking signs, remove all indoor ashtrays and other smoking receptacles and direct a person who is smoking to extinguish the lighted tobacco product. People who refuse to comply with the ban could be fined up to $50. Businesses that violate the law will receive written notices for the first two offenses and levied a $200 fine for each additional offense. The law makes an exception for private clubs and cigar bars. Dr. Tim Monroe, Forsyth County director of public health, said he was both pleased and disappointed by the legislature’s action, lamenting the exception for cigar bars and private clubs. “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to get a law passed that will impact restaurants and bars. The concern I have is it doesn’t address workplace safety,” Monroe said. “It’s the only situation that employers can expose their employees to known carcinogens.” Members of the Guilford County delegation to the General Assembly were split on the measure, with Reps. Alma Adams, Pricey Harrison and Maggie Jeffus voting in favor of the measure, and Reps. John Blust, Earl Jones and Laura Wiley voting against the ban. NC Rep. Larry Womble was the lone member of the Forsyth County delegation to vote in favor of the ban, with Reps. Larry Brown, Dale Folwell, Bill McGee and Earline Parmon opposing the measure. — KTB

Residents asked for input on manager search

The city of Greensboro will hold two public meetings on Wednesday at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center to allow residents to give input on the search for a new city manager. The meetings take place at 5:30 and 7 p.m. The city is currently led by interim City Manager Bob Morgan, who took over after City Manager Mitchell Johnson was fired by the council in March. — JG