Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018
Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018-- A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: North Carolina's grip on liquor sales, former governors rebuke lawmakers on amendments, judge says Supreme Court candidate can be listed as Republican on November ballots, Cooper surveys hurricane recovery efforts in Robeson/Columbus counties, prioritizing performance over testing in teacher assessments and more.
MATTHEW BURNS & LAURA LESLIE: Amendments shifting power to legislature 'devious and mischievous,' former governors say (WRAL-TV reports) -- All five of N.C.'s living former governors came together Monday to urge voters to defeat two proposed constitutional amendments that would shift power from the executive branch to state lawmakers.
GARY ROBERTSON: 5 ex-N.C. governors rebuke lawmakers on amendments (AP reports) -- 5 living former governors delivered an extraordinary rebuke to the GOP-dominated legislature for 2 constitutional amendments that lawmakers put on the fall ballot, saying they would shred gubernatorial power and government checks and balances if approved.
‘Don’t hijack our constitution,’ McCrory says as all 5 ex-governors blast power shift (Charlotte Observer reports) - Former governors of gathered to campaign against proposed constitutional amendments that would shift power away from the governor’s office.
TRAVIS FAIN: Judge issues injunction, delays ballot printing over Supreme Court race (WRAL-TV reports) -- A pair of candidates suing because the General Assembly won't let them list party affiliations on the ballot showed a likelihood to win their case, judge says.
ALEX DEROSIER: Judge says Supreme Court candidate can be listed as GOP (AP reports) -- A state Supreme Court candidate won permission for now from a judge to have his Republican affiliation listed on the November ballots.
Republican legislators violated a candidate’s constitutional rights, judge rules (Durham Herald-Sun reports) -- Chris Anglin, a Republican candidate for NC Supreme Court who used to be a Democrat, won a lawsuit against GOP leaders Phil Berger and Tim Moore of the North Carolina General Assembly. The legislature had passed a law targeting Anglin’s campaign but he argued it was unconstitutional and unfair.
Williams resigning from House; Hanes' successor named (AP reports) -- There are more comings and goings at the N.C. House as one GOP member will resign and local activists chose a replacement for a Democrat who stepped down last week.
Voting felonies dropped for 5 from Alamance County under plea (AP reports) -- Five Alamance County residents accused of illegally voting during the 2016 election have had felony charges dropped under plea deals. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice issued a statement saying the five entered Alford pleas to misdemeanor obstruction of justice charges in Alamance County. Alford pleas acknowledge prosecutors have enough evidence to win conviction on a given charge.
OHEREMY BAUER-WOLF: Optimism for Student Voter Turnout (Inside Higher Ed reports) -- Some lawmakers are making it more difficult for students to vote, but advocacy groups and colleges are pressing ahead with registration campaigns.
POLICY & POLITICS
Audit aside, why is government in the liquor business? (Fayetteville Observer) — State Auditor Beth Wood has found a big problem with the state’s wholesale and retail liquor distribution agency. Nearly $14 million worth of problem. That apparent failure should open the door to a much larger question: Why in the world is North Carolina still in the retail and wholesale booze business?
Why you pay more for booze in North Carolina than you should (Charlotte Observer) — North Carolina’s relentless grip on liquor sales has been in place with very few changes since 1937, shortly after the end of Prohibition. The system is inefficient, interferes with the free market, raises prices, limits selection and makes buying alcohol inconvenient.
GILBERT BAEZ: Hurricane Matthew recovery money slow in coming, but welcome when it arrives (WRAL reports) — Twenty-two months after Hurricane Matthew inundated much of eastern North Carolina, many residents are still waiting for government help to repair flood-damaged homes. Recovery money started flowing over the last few months, and Gov. Roy Cooper toured Robeson County on Monday to see some of the neighborhoods where the money is being put to work.
GREG BARNES: Governor surveys hurricane recovery efforts in Robeson, Columbus counties (Fayetteville Observer reports) -- On his third and final stop in Robeson County, Gov. Roy Cooper met with Benjamin Phillips, the first person in N.C. to use federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery money to fix his hurricane-ravaged home.
RICHARD STRADLING: DMV seeks volunteers to help with long lines at driver’s license offices (Durham-Herald Sun reports) — The long lines at Division of Motor Vehicles driver’s license offices across the state have prompted the DMV to ask for volunteers — to hand out bottles of cold water to customers waiting in line.
MARY JALONICK: FBI fires Peter Strzok in wake of anti-Trump text messages (AP reports) — Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, one of the leading critics of the FBI investigations, said Strzok was fired "because of what his own written words plainly showed: he was willing to use his official FBI position to try and stop President Trump from getting elected. He tarnished the FBI's sterling reputation and severely damaged public trust in an institution where trust is paramount."
JENNIFER ALLEN: Wilmington Port Looks to Lure Bigger Ships (Coastal Review reports) -- The N.C. Ports Authority is seeking public input on plans to better accommodate larger and more fully loaded ships at Wilmington, including ideas that worry environmental groups and others.
MATTHEW BURNS: Johnston magistrate pleads guilty to using criminal database to help friend, hurt foes (WRAL-TV reports) -- A Johnston County magistrate pleaded guilty Monday to wrongly accessing a state criminal database to tip off a friend to an outstanding warrant against her to and to dig up dirt on two people with whom the magistrate had problems.
BRYAN MIMS: 20 permits given to hunt alligators in Hyde County (WRAL-TV reports) -- The overpopulation of alligators has caused N.C. to allow hunters in nine counties to hunt with the proper license in the new alligator hunting season.
‘Unite the Right’ fizzles (Winston-Salem Journal) -- “Unite the Right 2,” the white supremacist rally held in Washington, on Sunday, was a dud. So is the philosophy that motivated it. We appreciate that the rally fizzled and that no one was hurt, as happened tragically the previous year. And we’re grateful for the peaceful protesters.
Blue Monday in Jeansboro may be OK for Greensboro (Greensboro News & Record) -- A little tremor of fear ran the length of Elm Street. VF Corp., which for three decades has sold some of the world’s most recognizable clothing brands from a couple of buildings along that street, announced it was saying a Rocky Mountain bye and moving its worldwide headquarters.
DAWN VAUGHAN: Charter school fires back after critical Durham City Council vote (Durham-Herald Sun reports) — A charter school is defending itself after the Durham City Council rejected its request to authorize an education bond to fund its expansion.
BRYAN GILMER: Step Up program connects underrepresented students with STEM (EdNC column) — The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is committed to building a pipeline of high-quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students. A special strategic focus of the public institution is fulfilling this promise to North Carolina students from underrepresented groups.
YASMIN BENDAAS: ECU summer camp merges art and STEM (EdNC reports) -- 83 students from grades K-12 participated in the STEAM Summer Camp, a one week camp at ECU’s School of Art and Design. The camp, having wrapped its fifth summer, is run by ECU-affiliated counselors. “It was really designed as an opportunity for our art education majors to get additional hands-on experience working with the children in the community as they trained to be art teachers,” said Robert Quinn, camp director and associate professor of art education.
DIANA LYS: Prioritize performance over testing in teacher assessments (EdNC column) — As a teacher-educator and researcher in teacher assessment, I’d like to share some perspective on the alarming failure rate, how it should serve as a call to re-examine the utility of licensure exams in North Carolina, and as an inducement to prioritize performance assessments over content testing.
Three days left to support governor's school supply drive (Wilson Times) -- The back-to-school countdown has begun. Two weeks from Monday, the annual rite of passage will commence: students will board buses, pile into minivans and clamber into cars as school bells ring and fall classes begin throughout Wilson County. Another countdown is ticking away — there are just three days left to contribute to the second annual Governor’s School Supply Drive. The classroom collection wraps up this Thursday.
JEFF HAMPTON: ECSU to transform historic Rosenwald school into African American cultural center, with grant (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reports) -- Sears, Roebuck and Co. CEO Julius Rosenwald financed construction of hundreds of schools for black citizens in the South.
ROSE HOBAN: Health Policy Experts Give WalletHub Health Ranking Low Grade (NC Health News reports) — Last week, headlines across North Carolina (and the U.S.) touted a recent “study” from the personal finance website, WalletHub. In the one-page report, Vermont’s health care system ranked first, while Louisiana’s ranked last. North Carolina came out near the bottom of the list, ranking 47th in health care systems. But what does that really mean?
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
LISA O’DONNELL: ‘We know who the villain is,’ Gore tells crowd near Duke’s Belews Creek plant; neighbors blame illness on coal ash (Winston-Salem Journal reports) — Former vice president Al Gore, who made climate change the focus of his post-political life, turned up the heat on Duke Energy on Monday, calling the Belews Creek Steam Station a crime scene that has sickened people who live near the power plant.
MARTHA WAGGONER: Gore says Trump not yet as damaging to environment as he feared (AP reports) -- The Trump administration has made some dangerous changes to environmental policy, but the damage so far has been less than it initially appeared, former V.P. Al Gore said.
ANN DOSS HELMS & BRUCE HENDERSON: CMS found lead in water at 27 schools. Dozens more are untested. Should you worry? (Charlotte Observer reports) -- This is bound to set off alarms in homes across the county: When Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools ran lead tests on drinking fountains and sinks at 58 schools last fall, 27 had unacceptably high levels of the dangerous element that can be found in older plumbing.
STEPHANIE CARSON & SHANE SMITH: NC Community Finds Power in Social Media to Protect Its Environment (NC Public News Service reports) — A public outcry has resulted in a potential shift in state regulation of a chemical that many scientists say is a danger to public health and the ozone. Methyl bromide is used in logging operations in NC to fumigate wood before it's exported. Few citizens in the small community of Delco were aware of the use of the chemical or its dangers until they read it on social media after public notices were printed in newspapers an hour outside of town.
Pipeline developers have made promises that must be kept (The Robesonian) — The tug-of-war over construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has dropped in the direction that we believed it always would, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week giving the owners permission to begin construction in N.C.
BRITTANY PATTERSON: Feds Halt Construction of Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Virginia Public Broadcasting reports) -- Federal regulators halted all construction of the 604-mile, interstate Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) following a federal court’s ruling this week that invalidated two major federal permits.
ELLEN GILMER: Is the anti-pipeline playbook starting to work? (E&E News) -- Environmental groups have grown accustomed to losing courtroom battles over natural gas pipelines. Although they've notched some important wins over the years, the scoreboard shows developers and federal regulators overwhelmingly in the lead. This summer, though, things have started to change. Two critical legal victories over the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines in Appalachia could signal a long-awaited turn of the tide for the tireless anti-pipeline crowd.
KATE MISHKIN & KEN WARD: What Happens When a Pipeline Runs Afoul of Government Rules? Authorities Change the Rules (Pro Publica reports) -- Federal authorities halted work on the massive Mountain Valley Pipeline this month after an appeals court ruled that federal agencies neglected to follow environmental protections.
Larry Meachum, Prison Reformer Who Led Prisons, Dies at 79 (New York Times obit) -- Larry R. Meachum, a respected prison reformer who as a habitual runaway as a youth might well have wound up in jails instead of running them, died on July 13 in Palmetto, Fla. He was 79. Meachum was born on Sept. 11, 1938, in Durham, N.C., to Leaton Meachum, a mechanic in a tobacco plant, and Mary Louise (Herdon) Meachum, a homemaker.
D.G. Martin: Could a N.C. novel be the country’s best-loved? (Winston-Salem Journal column) — The Great American Read, a PBS series, is in the process of selecting America’s best-loved novel. Is there a chance it could be a N.C. book?
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