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Opinion Roundup: A new Silent Sam legal question

Posted September 14

Silent Sam, a Confederate war statue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was vandalized.

Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on a lawsuit threat against UNC's Silent Sam statue, state legislators' latest plan to keep GenX out of our drinking water, a new urgent care service for mental health issues and more.

POLITICS & POLICY
UNC, take down Silent Sam – or we may sue (Charlotte Observer column) -- We write on behalf of UNC Chapel Hill students to request that you immediately remove the monument of an armed Confederate soldier, known as Silent Sam, from the middle of campus. Silent Sam should go for many reasons including its incompatibility with the “inclusive and welcoming environment” promised by UNC’s non-discrimination policy. We are providing legal notice of an additional reason why Silent Sam must come down now: the statue violates federal anti-discrimination laws by fostering a racially hostile learning environment.

SUSAN SVRLUGA: Students demand that Confederate statue be removed from UNC campus, saying it violates federal laws (Washington Post analysis) -- Lawyers representing a group of students and a professor argue that having the statue known as “Silent Sam” on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

MATTHEW BURNS: Lawsuit threatened unless UNC-Chapel Hill removes 'Silent Sam' (WRAL-TV) -- A law firm on Wednesday urged the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remove the "Silent Sam" Confederate soldier statute from campus or risk being sued for fostering a racially hostile learning environment.

CULLEN BROWDER: AG regrets his vote for state monuments law (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Attorney General Josh Stein said he regrets his vote as a senator two years ago for a state law now at the center of the debate over removing Confederate monuments from public spaces across North Carolina.

MYRON B. PITTS: We should talk more about Lafayette, the abolitionist (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Turns out we may not know our hero as well as we thought. I suppose you’ve heard about the kerfuffle last week where Tim Kinlaw, interim county schools superintendent, canceled a school event focused on recycling because he says some people had a problem with Lafayette being the mascot.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts’ record catches up to her (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts loses the primary to Vi Lyles. Her leadership on HB2 and Keith Scott took a toll.

Let a commission redraw judicial districts (Fayetteville Observer) -- We’re not about to argue that a thorough updating of our state’s judicial districts is unnecessary. The last large-scale redrawing of the court districts was in 1955. There have been a few changes in North Carolina’s population patterns since then and our judicial districts could most likely use some tweaks to reflect them. But we’re having a hard time trusting our General Assembly to draw those new lines.

MEG LARSON: A mom tells her son why she’s running for office (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Dear Jack, Now that you are a senior in high school, I have made the decision to run for political office in Hope Mills and I would like for you to know why. Do you remember several years ago when we as a family attended a board meeting seeking help from the elected for an ongoing and unaddressed concern?

Consumers need more protections (Greensboro News & Record) -- Americans who do business with big financial institutions trust them with important personal information, such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Those firms in turn hire companies like Equifax to run credit checks on customers applying for a car loan, mortgage or credit card.

STEPHANIE CARSON: Immigration Debate - NC Churches Called to Law of Love (Public News Service column) -- With the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in question, a growing number of North Carolina churches are being called to offer a solution. This weekend at least 30 congregations are gathering at events in Chapel Hill and Raleigh to learn how they can become sanctuary congregations.

ERICA ORDEN: Weiner’s Lawyers Argue N.C. Teenager in Sexting Case Targeted Him (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- Lawyers for former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner described his “operatic self-destruction” in a filing Wednesday ahead of his sentencing for trading sexually explicit messages with a minor, saying the North Carolina teenager had targeted him both for personal profit and “to influence the U.S. presidential election.”

AMANDA THAMES: Sex crimes prosecutor says compartmentalizing is key (Jacksonville Daily News analysis) -- Every day, Kaelyn Avery leaves her 2-year-old daughter behind and begins prepping cases against people accused of sexually assaulting children. As an assistant district attorney, Avery has to keep her work separate from her home life, to compartmentalize.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
ADAM WAGNER: GOP legislators talk GenX during Brunswick plant tour (Wilmington Star-News analysis) -- After inspecting a Brunswick County water treatment plant, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore laid out a plan where state legislators use select committees and local entities to keep the chemical GenX from flowing through its pipes. “We want to make sure that No. 1, people provide safe, reliable drinking water, and No. 2, if there’s anything the folks need to know, that the know it,” Moore said during a visit to the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. N.C. House river committee to meet Sept. 28 in Raleigh.

TRISTA TALTON: Catching Waves to Save Historic Shoreline (Coastal Review column) -- The effort to restore and protect the eroded shoreline at the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site hinges largely on technology that absorbs the energy of destructive waves created by passing ships.

HEALTH
ROSE HOBAN: Carolina Outreach Provides an Urgent Care Alternative for Psychiatric Crisis (N.C. Health News analysis) -- The new service in Durham is the only one of it’s kind in North Carolina and is on a yearlong trial to see if it works to reduce the load at area emergency departments.

CATHERINE CLABBY: Disposing of Pesticides the Right Way (N.C. Health News column) -- State-funded pesticide drop-off events collect unwanted herbicides, insecticides and fungicides to ensure they are disposed of safely.​

EDUCATION
ELIZABETH OLSON: Federal Inquiry of Charlotte Law School Is Disclosed by Suit (New York Times analysis) -- A former professor accuses the for-profit school of illegally evading federal requirements on the sources of its revenue.

AND MORE
When lifesavers die (Winston-Salem Journal) -- We often hear them in our neighborhoods, hovering in to land on hospital rooftops. We worry about the seriously injured the copter crews are ferrying in. But we’re grateful for the fast-moving copters and their crews that often save lives when every minute is crucial. So it was disheartening to hear that a Duke University Health System helicopter crashed Friday, killing four people in Perquimans County.

Heinz Awards: UNC Prof, 4 Others (AP) -- A UNC-Chapel Hill chemist is one of five people being honored with $250,000 prizes from the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Family Foundation. The foundation awards recognize innovative work in the arts, environment, human condition, public policy and economics categories. Joseph DeSimone, a chemist and expert in polymeric materials, is receiving the Technology, the Economy and Employment award for his research and commercializing of 3-D printing, green chemistry and other fields at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The award winners will be honored at a banquet in Pittsburgh on Oct. 18.

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