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Opinion Roundup: Cities' role in the confederate monuments debate

Posted August 17

Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on how cities are handling the Confederate statues issue, a pair of recent N.C. town halls where health care was high on constituents' minds, what to expect from next week's solar eclipse and more.

POLITICS & POLICY
Let N.C. cities decide fate of monuments (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- City governments and other institutions are dealing with the repercussions of the horrific Charlottesville white supremacist rally in different ways. The city of Baltimore, for example, took down Confederacy monuments with little fanfare on Tuesday night.

Monumental divide reopens old wounds (Greensboro News & Record) -- Swept by the emotional wake of the tragedy last weekend in Charlottesville, some people took matters into their own hands Monday night.

NICHOLAS FANDOS, RICHARD FAUSSET & ALAN BLINDER: Charlottesville Violence Spurs New Resistance to Confederate Symbols (New York Times analysis) -- From Durham, N.C., to Lexington, Ky., local and state officials this week faced bitter divisions over Confederate statues. Many of the issues had been building for years, but were now freshly volatile in the wake of the violence that exploded Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. Suddenly, it seemed, the questions of what to do with the roughly 700 remaining statues and monuments to the Lost Cause had come in for perhaps their hardest reckoning.

JAWEED KALEEM: In some states, it's illegal to take down monuments or change street names honoring the Confederacy (LA Times analysis) -- North Carolina isn’t the only state where laws help keep monuments in place. In May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law banning local governments from altering, renaming or removing monuments, memorial streets or memorial buildings that have been on public property for more than 40 years. That includes most, if not all, Confederate monuments in the state.

After Racist Rage, Statues Fall Quietly (New York Times) -- The president’s resentment at being expected to denounce the white supremacists who oppose the removal of Confederate monuments has overshadowed the search for reconciliation and closure among state and local politicians. In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper proposed that the legislature reverse a 2015 law that blocked the removal or relocation of monuments. Civil War history “belongs in textbooks and museums,” the governor said, “not a place of allegiance on our Capitol grounds.”

MARK KLEINSCHMIDT: Former Chapel Hill mayor says what should be done about UNC’s statue, Silent Sam (Durham Herald-Sun column) -- I had this idea a few months ago and planned to take it as a petition to the Chapel Hill Town Council when they returned in September, but maybe we should get movement on this now. Instead of the hand wringing and statute citing currently being engaged in by UNC in response to concerns about the Silent Sam confederate memorial statue, why aren't we employing a little more creativity?

With or without leadership, we must all call evil what it is (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- These are tense times in the Republic. If we want to keep it, which as Franklin Roosevelt suggested might at times be a test of our collective will, we have got to recognize insidious dangers to our country, and disavow them – forcefully. Ideally that "we" would start with the highest office in the land. President Donald Trump's belated and initially lukewarm reaction to the violence and hatred exhibited in Charlottesville over the weekend made clear that Americans must move forward with our own collective conscience, with or without the White House’s stamp of disapproval.

Republicans should break with Trump, save themselves (Charlotte Observer) -- Republicans need to sever ties with Trump or risk short- and long-term damage to the GOP.​

HEALTH
TODD WETHERINGTON: Jones talks healthcare, military deployment (New Bern Sun Journal analysis) -- Rep. Walter Jones talks healthcare, military deployment (New Bern Sun Journal analysis) -- Congressman Walter Jones addressed a number of controversial topics, including health care and military spending, during an appearance at Pollocksville Town Hall.

KEVIN GRIFFIN: Health care, political climate dominate McHenry town hall in Hickory (Hickory Record analysis) -- Discussion of health care and national political unrest was at the forefront at U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry’s town hall meeting at his office.

Watch what lawmakers do, not what they say (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- The ACA is not perfect. No one ever said it was. Cost controls have been ineffective and there is too little competition on the health insurance exchanges. In North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only option in all but a handful of counties. The N.C. General Assembly could help by expanding Medicaid coverage and setting up a state exchange that might be able to encourage more competition than is available under the federal-run exchange.

CATHERINE CLABBY: Ramping Up Food Allergy Prevention (N.C. Health News analysis) -- Farmers and food processors receive a briefing on FDA requirements that food be kept clear of undeclared allergens.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
SAM BLAND: Shining light on Aug. 21 Eclipse (Coastal Review column) -- Sam Bland reminisces about experiencing with two of his friends a solar eclipse in 1970 eastern North Carolina, explores the myths surrounding the natural phenomenon.

We'll learn a lot from the solar eclipse (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Scientists are looking forward to learning a lot from the solar eclipse on Monday. But the nation’s energy suppliers don’t want any surprises.

STEPHANIE CARSON: NC Land Trusts Play Their Parts for Prime Eclipse Viewing (Public News Service analysis) -- Monday may be the closest thing to time standing still, as thousands of people flock to parts of North Carolina that are in the path of totality for the solar eclipse in the afternoon. Sunset Rock at Ravenel Park in Highlands is one of the top spots for eclipse viewing. That's partly because of geography, but the unspoiled area created by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust also has a lot to do with it, says the land trust's executive director, Gary Wein.

Safety, not politics (Fayetteville Observer) -- Republicans in the N.C. Senate say they’re not satisfied with Gov. Roy Cooper’s explanations of how his administration has handled revelations of a possibly carcinogenic chemical dumped into the Cape Fear River. They plan to hold hearings soon. Good. But if they only concentrate on what the Cooper administration has done, they may become the realization of our worst fear about the issue: That it will be a legislative attempt to politicize yet another issue instead of solving it and protecting the state’s residents.

JOHN DOWNEY: Why N.C. customer advocate wants Duke Energy/Siemens plan rejected (Charlotte Business Journal column) -- The advocate asks regulators to reject Duke Energy’s proposed advanced natural gas turbine unless they adopt ratepayer protections against unexpected costs.

EDUCATION
ANALISA SORRELLS: Breaking down transportation barriers in rural communities (EdNC column) -- Tucked between corn fields and U.S. Route 70 is the Bryant Chapel AME Zion Church in Cove City, N.C. The nonprofit Adelphia CDC, in partnership with the church, offers one of the 160 Kids Summer Meals sites sponsored by the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. What sets this site apart from so many others is its approach to tackling the transportation barrier that may prevent many students in a rural community from accessing no-cost summer meals. If the students in Cove City can not get to the church, the church comes to them.

LIZ BELL: Teachers delve into industry during summer break (EdNC column) -- Fifteen years ago, Mark Meno said, Craven County high schoolers were leaving eastern North Carolina after graduation. At his workplace, employees were not often from the area. But Meno has seen a shift in recent years. The Navy Fleet Readiness Center, where Meno is a research and engineering group head, noticed a gap in its local pipeline and started reaching out to students — hosting summer camps and visiting classrooms. This year, Meno said there are employees starting with the company who first heard about local career opportunities in middle school, at one of those summer camps. Next step: connect with teachers.

AND MORE
CHRIS ROUSH: How a lack of business coverage is hurting our state (WRAL-TV TechWire) -- The decline of business news coverage in the main media outlets in the state is harming the economy. A lack of objective news and information about what's going on at businesses, particularly small, entrepreneurial companies that dominate the state, means that investors, consumers and executives often don't know what's going on.​

Tommy Hawkins, 1st Black Basketball Star at Notre Dame, Dies (AP Obit) -- Tommy Hawkins, a native of Winston-Salem and the first black basketball player to earn All-America honors at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, died Wednesday. He was 80.

JEFF HAMPTON: Virginia Dare statue revered now, but was shipwrecked, mocked, forgotten and nearly lost in a fire (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot column) -- The artist portrayed the first English child born in the New World as an adult who survived with the natives.

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