Outside the Box


Opinion Roundup: An early peek at 2018

Posted September 28

Legislative Building

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the early 2018 state legislative elections picture, the public's reaction to Duke Energy's proposed rate hike, the value global health care lessons provide for N.C.'s local communities and more.

BRUCE THOMPSON: N.C. Dems face tough time winning legislature in 2018 (The Hill column) -- Despite prevailing in court and winning high-profile statewide elections, North Carolina Democrats may not secure legislative districts that give them a realistic shot of making inroads in either 2018 or 2020. Understanding the difficulty of winning back a majority with Republican-drawn legislative maps, Democrats set the seemingly reasonable goal of cracking the Republican supermajorities, the simplest way being to flip three North Carolina House seats. Without a veto-proof majority in one chamber, Republicans would have a difficult time overriding the governor.

TRAVIS FAIN: Did House leader see new district 'long time before we did'? (WRAL-TV analysis) -- The comment picks at a sore spot at the General Assembly, where Democrats have repeatedly said they believed the GOP majority drew new election maps before holding public hearings.

EMERY DALESIO: Critics complain judicial districts shaped for GOP gain (AP analysis) -- A proposal to extensively realign North Carolina's judicial election districts for the first time since the 1950s smacks of a Republican effort to put more GOP lawyers on the bench, critics said.

LAURA LESLIE: House panel OKs new judicial districts (WRAL-TV analysis) -- A House committee approved a statewide proposal for new election districts for District Court and Superior Court judges and for prosecutors, the first such comprehensive overhaul in more than 50 years.

DOUG CLARK: Guilford County courts now in line for partisan changes (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Can you hold elected officials more accountable by voting less? I don’t think so. So beware when politicians tell you otherwise.

JOHN RAILEY: A football spectacle (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- Then it got quiet and this pretty woman with a lot of hair walked to the middle of the pasture and she commenced to singin’ some words about “bombs bursting in air” and “the rockets’ red glare.” Well, friend, everybody got quiet around me and some held their hands over their hearts but they won’t lookin’ at that woman singing. No sir, they was looking at the players and watchin’ ‘em something awful close. Well sir, about half them players down there, ones of both sides, they’d gotten all serious and were kneelin’. This little feller beside me, he whispered to me, “Wow. Good for them.”

JEFF GRAVLEY & CULLEN BROWDER: Tentacles of college basketball corruption case extend far and wide (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Rick Pitino provides a high-profile link between ACC basketball and a wide-ranging corruption investigation of coaches, agents and players. WRAL Investigates was able to connect the dots between one of the main players in this case and the scandal that swept up the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football team in 2010.

QUIN HILLYER: Alabama Disses the Establishment (New York Times column) – President Donald Trump’s very irrelevance here is instructive. It continues a string of instances in which his endorsement was either useless or even harmful. Last year he endorsed incumbent Representative Renee Ellmers in an intraparty match in North Carolina; she lost. Earlier this year, Republicans just managed to survive scares in supposedly safe Republican seats in Montana, Kansas, South Carolina and Georgia. The lesson here is that when it comes to political clout outside of himself, President Trump is an impotent loser.

Tillis offers a path for the Dreamers (Greensboro News & Record) -- Could President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans finally take a step forward for illegal immigrants after Democrats failed?

Time for Congress to erase its 1956 mistake (Fayetteville Observer) -- When Robert Pittenger was 8 years old, Congress declared that the Lumbees are a recognized Indian tribe. The question has been settled for that long. Pittenger is 69 now and the congressman representing North Carolina’s 9th District — which includes the Lumbee tribal headquarters in Pembroke.

SCOTT SEXTON: Nondescript Clemmons store tops in state lottery ticket sales (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- Carlton’s Tanglewood, a convenience store in Clemmons is the top retail outlet in the entire state for lottery sales.

DUSTIN GEORGE: Appeals Court hosts session in Lenoir County (Kinston Free Press feature) -- It’s been 50 years since the North Carolina Court of Appeals heard it’s first case. The court was created in 2015 after a constitutional amendment restructured the state court system, adding the Court of Appeals as an intermediate court between the state Supreme Court and circuit courts. The 15 judges of the appellate court are celebrating 50th year of the court by hosting court sessions in the hometowns of each of the judges.

Can you get a fair trial if a juror calls you a ‘n-----’? (Charlotte Observer) -- In Georgia case, courts were OK with Keith Tharpe being executed despite racial bias.

DILLON DAVIS: Proposed Duke Energy rate hike meets vocal opposition (Asheville Citizen-Times analysis) -- Duke Energy customers turned out in droves in opposition to a proposed rate hike to pay for infrastructure upgrades and coal ash cleanup at the utility's Lake Julian power plant. "North Carolina has paid a heavy price and now Duke Energy wants to bill us for their negligence and mismanagement," Judy Maddox, chairman of Sierra Club of Western North Carolina, told the North Carolina Utilities Commission. "We say no."

ALLISON BALLARD: Coyotes Are Here to Stay; How to Coexist (Coastal Review column) -- Coyotes are now found in all 100 North Carolina counties and as habitat pressures increase from continued development, state wildlife officials are offering tips on avoiding conflicts.

JANET COWELL & MATTNEW LEATHERMAN: Why importing global healthcare lessons is important to N.C. (WRAL-TV/TechWire column) -- Twenty-six thousand North Carolinians work for the global health sector, according to recent research by RTI International for the Triangle Global Health Consortium. Their work adds about $3.7 billion to the state’s economy annually. That’s about $370 for every person in the state. Jobs and wages like that matter. That’s the message of the Triangle Global Health Consortium’s study, and they are right. Still people in communities that lack this business sector need to hear a different message. For most of us, the message is that this work can help bring higher-quality health care into our communities. Lessons learned 5,000 miles away by global health organizations matter right here.

ERIN W. SIPE: Health care reform should not single out the sick (Hickory Daily Record column) -- As a newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer patient and wife, teacher, and mother of two, I am deeply concerned about the loss of my grandfathered insurance policy effective Jan. 1 and even more anxious about the proposed health care repeal bill that threatens to financially ruin our middle class family and small business.

FRANK TAYLOR: Coverage gap now unavoidable for customers of Mission and Blue Cross (Carolina Public Press analysis) -- The break between Mission Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina appears real and unavoidable at this point, according to statements both sides have provided to Carolina Public Press in recent days. Mission Health asked to renegotiate its contract with Blue Cross, but those discussions broke down over compensation levels earlier this year. The current agreement is set to expire on Oct. 5, just a week from now.

GREG BARNES: Is N.C. doing enough to prevent child deaths? (Fayetteville Observer investigation) -- North Carolina doesn’t have an impressive track record when it comes to investing in prevention programs that attack the root causes of abuse. “At its core, the child welfare system needs to be completely rethought,” one advocate says.

ANN DOSS HELMS: N.C. schools find too much student success bars principals from big new bonuses (Charlotte Observer analysis) -- The new bonus plan, part of a sweeping slate of changes to North Carolina principal pay, is designed to reward principals for helping students succeed and jump-start improvements at the schools that most need help. While most applaud the goals, the details have proven vexing – including a bonus plan that penalizes principals for too much student success.

STEPHANIE CARSON: N.C. Schools Plagued by Chronic Absenteeism (Public News Service analysis) -- North Carolina schools are open for business, but getting students to attend on a regular basis isn't always easy. According to a report released this week, at some schools as much as 26 percent of the student population is chronically absent. The term describes children who are out of school at least two days a month, which equates to about 10 percent of the school year. Mandy Ableidinger, policy and practice leader at N.C. Early Childhood Foundation and author of the report, "Attendance Counts," said absenteeism impacts the entire student body.

LIZ BELL: UNC System teacher preparation increase muddied by data collection changes (EdNC analysis) -- Though the UNC System saw a rise in educator preparation program enrollment in fall 2016 for the first time in several years, the changes may not reflect increased interest in teaching as a career – just more current educators enrolling in courses. The data collection methods used in 2016 differed from previous years which may have influenced the results. (This item appeared with an inaccurate headline in yesterday’s roundup)

AMANDA THAMES: Tattoo artists have ‘seen some stuff go down’ (Jacksonville Daily News column) -- Tattoo artists have seen, well, a lot. Some of the people who’ve sat in Wade Banks’ chair at East Coast Tattoo have passed out from pain, some have to be told to shower before he’ll sit that close to their body for an extended period of time, and one woman left the shop mid-tattoo because she couldn’t handle it. “In 12 years, you can’t help but have seen some stuff go down,” Banks, the owner of the shop, said.


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