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Opinion Roundup: Back to the drawing board

Posted August 11

This is a view from the back of the North Carolina Legislative Building.

Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on another day of redistricting decisions, a call to keep politics out of the GenX water issues, the changing state of mass education in America and more.

POLITICS & POLICY
TRAVIS FAIN & LAURA LESLIE: Redistricting criteria call for partisan maps, no consideration of race (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Map makers can use election data to achieve political goals as they redraw North Carolina's legislative districts, but they're forbidden from considering voters' race under criteria approved Thursday by the House and Senate committees overseeing the process.

N.C. lawmakers draw voting districts again (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- Most North Carolinians would rather be spending this month enjoying the ocean breezes along the Outer Banks or soaking in the sunshine atop a mountain outside Asheville.

Opinion: Nonpartisan races work best for city (Greensboro News & Record) -- The Charlotte Observer paid Greensboro a compliment in an editorial last week. It said Greensboro’s nonpartisan City Council elections are better than Charlotte’s partisan schemes.

SUSAN LADD: General Assembly's actions strip residents of legal protections (Greensboro News & Record) -- On its face, the General Assembly’s defunding of the Department of Justice looks like petty payback from a Republican majority to Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein. But it’s actually much worse than that.

MARK BARRETT: Have NC tax cuts boosted economy? Not so much, economists say (Asheville Citizen-Times analysis) -- State legislators who say tax cuts adopted this decade have dramatically boosted North Carolina's economy might have slept through a few sessions of Economics 101, comments from some who teach the subject suggest.

Voters deserve chance to hear from Holding in town hall meeting (Wilson Times) -- Rep. George Holding’s reluctance to hold town hall meetings has made him an easy target in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s crosshairs.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Don’t play politics with GenX mess (Fayetteville Observer) -- We’re having a hard time seeing this confrontational approach as anything but an attempt by the senators to turn the GenX pollution story into a political football.

TRISTA TALTON: N. Topsail: Effort Renewed to Undo CBRA (Coastal Review analysis) -- A new U.S. Senate bill is the latest move in a years-long effort to revise the Coastal Barrier Resources Act protections that limit development in much of North Topsail Beach.

Pipeline’s progress (Fayetteville Observer) -- Good to see that the state will hold one more round of hearings about the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline before deciding its final position on the 600-mile, $5 billion natural-gas pipeline that would begin in the fracking fields of West Virginia and end in Robeson County. There are numerous environmental and safety concerns about the project, which would pass through eight North Carolina counties.

EDUCATION
FERREL GUILLORY; Mass education in a distinctly American way (EdNC column) -- Through its Current Population Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau has collected data and reported on educational attainment since 1940. Its dry statistical tables help tell the dramatic story of the American aspiration and drive for mass education.

GREG CHILDRESS: State bonus payments to principals could harm struggling schools. See why. (Durham Herald analysis) -- Under a new state mandate, school size and student performance will weigh heavily on the salaries principals and assistant principals earn in North Carolina. The performance part has some Durham Public Schools leaders worried because they believe it has the potential to make the schools where children struggle the most academically less attractive to top principals.

ROBERT ORR: The hypocritical debate over the UNC Center for Civil Rights (Charlotte Observer column) -- This month, a UNC Board of Governors Committee voted to recommend a policy eliminating litigation by the UNC Center for Civil Rights. This controversy has garnered national attention and, like most issues of the day, the news has focused more on personalities and political persuasions than sound governance.

College campuses now a ‘safe space’ for free expression (Wilson Times) -- College students buying back-to-school gear can trade in their muzzles for a megaphone. When the fall semester begins at North Carolina’s public universities later this month, a long-overdue state law protecting students’ free speech

HEALTH
STEPHANIE CARSON: Report Calls Lack of Mental-Health Care in NC Jails "Deadly" (Public News Service column) – Almost half of the deaths in North Carolina jails over the last four years have been suicides. That's the finding of a report by Disability Rights North Carolina that lists suicide as the leading cause of death behind. At 46 percent, the suicide rate exceeds the national average of 35 percent. Vicki Smith, executive director of Disability Rights N.C., says the lack of state mental-health services and local funding make it difficult to properly address the problem.

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