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Opinion Roundup: Confederate statue debate caught up in legal wrangles

Posted August 30

This statue on the grounds of the State Capitol commemorates Henry Lawson Wyatt, the first Confederate soldier killed in battle during the Civil War at the Battle of Bethel on June 10, 1861 (Tyler Dukes/WRAL).

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on some new twists and turns in the Confederate statue debate, a striking observation on N.C.'s online charter schools, a pair of new solar energy announcements and more.

POLITICS & POLICY
SETH EFFRON: AG Stein wants Confederate monuments down or moved; awaits request for advisory opinion on law (Capitol Broadcasting Outside the Box blog) -- Just who can and cannot legally remove a Confederate monument or memorial in North Carolina - and under what circumstances - remains in legal limbo. Attorney General Josh Stein awaits a request for an advisory opinion.

SABRINA TAVERNISE: Boom in Confederate Monuments, on Private Land (New York Times analysis) -- Amid the furor over Confederate monuments an unexpected reality has largely been overshadowed: While old monuments erected in bygone eras are coming down, new ones continue to go up. “There has been a Civil War memorial boom going on over the last 20 years,” said W. Fitzhugh Brundage, the chairman of the history department at UNC-Chapel Hill. At least 36 have gone up in North Carolina alone since 2000, he said, as many as were put up between 1940 and 1990.

GEORGE VLASITS: What who we honor says about who we are (Wilmington Star-News column) -- It is long past time for our country to come to grips with its history. It has been almost 400 years since the first kidnapped Africans were brought to Virginia, 152 years since the end of the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment banning slavery, and 63 years since the landmark Brown vs. Board decision outlawing Jim Crow school segregation. Yet today we still live in a society where separate and unequal define lives.

TRAVIS FAIN: Judges: NC lawsuit over partisan gerrymander will proceed (WRAL-TV analysis) -- A lawsuit challenging North Carolina's new congressional districts will move forward, a panel of federal judges decided Tuesday, instead of being put on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court tackles issues relevant to the case.

Challenges to North Carolina congressional map can proceed (AP analysis) -- Lawsuits challenging North Carolina's congressional districts can proceed after federal judges rejected arguments that they should wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh a similar case.

TRAVIS FAIN: Veto overrides delayed again; some may never come (WRAL-TV analysis) -- It's looking less likely that legislators will attempt this week to override Gov. Roy Cooper's five remaining vetoes, and at least some of those vetoes look likely to hold long term.

NICHOLAS JAHR & ELLEN MCCREARY IOANES: Members of Congress scoring personal loans from political supporters (Center for Public Integrity analysis) -- It began on a golf course. That’s where textile executive George Moretz and now-Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., forged a friendship during the early 2000s. The two belonged to Grandfather Golf & Country Club in Linville, North Carolina, a club where elite clientele pay up to $65,000 for memberships. In 2008, Pittenger ran for lieutenant governor. As election day loomed, Pittenger loaned his own campaign $1.2 million, on top of $500,000 his wife, Suzanne, had already sunk into his effort. It didn’t matter: He lost anyway.

A troubling pardon (Winston-Salem Journal) -- President Trump’s Friday night pardon of Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff found in misdemeanor contempt of court for defying a federal order to cease detaining people only because he suspected them of being here illegally, is troubling indeed.

SUSAN LADD: Trump continues march toward division and exclusion (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Military ban discriminates against transgender Americans, and Arpaio's pardon legitimizes racial profiling.

STEPHANIE CARSON: Multiracial Citizens Could Bridge Cultural Divide (Public News Service analysis) -- The growing number of people who identify themselves as multiracial in North Carolina could also bridge the cultural divide in their communities.

EDUCATION
KELLY HINCHCLIFFE: Nearly 2,500 students have left NC's online charter schools: Why did they leave? Where did they go? (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Tracking how many students leave the state's two online charter schools - North Carolina Connections Academy and North Carolina Virtual Academy - has been a complex and controversial topic since lawmakers granted the schools four-year pilot programs in 2015.

ALEX GRANADOS: Cooper touts NC Pre-K program (EdNC analysis) -- Gov. Roy Cooper made a visit to Excel Christian Academy in Burlington to highlight the expansion of the state’s NC Pre-K program. The General Assembly approved a final budget that increased the number of seats available to North Carolina children for NC Pre-K, though it still fell short of Cooper’s proposed plan.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
JOSEPH BEBON: Greenbacker Acquires Five Operating N.C. Solar Projects (Solar Magazine analysis) -- Greenbacker Renewable Energy Co. LLC has signed a purchase agreement to acquire five operating ground-mounted solar PV systems comprising 27.8 MW located throughout eastern North Carolina for approximately $20.5 million.

JOSEPH BEBON: Duke Plans To Add 700 MW Of Solar Under Florida Settlement (Solar Magazine analysis) -- Duke Energy Florida has filed a revised settlement agreement with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) that includes plans to bolster solar power, energy storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging in the state while also scrapping a nuclear power project.

Battery tech firm Alevo shutting down, laying off 290 (WRAL-TV/TechWire) -- Alevo USA, a battery technology firm that in March said it would add 200 jobs as part of a $251 million expansion in Concord, is shutting down.

ALLISON BALLARD: GenX Response: Activist Groups Unite Forces (Coastal Review analysis) -- This summer, concerned residents have organized rallies and forums to help focus efforts to address water safety issues in the Cape Fear River. The Wilmington group, Stop GenX in Our Water, has a Facebook following of more than 9,000 members and recently helped organized events with well-known activist Erin Brockovich. Other organizations, such as the Brunswick Environmental Action Team and the New Hanover chapter of the NAACP’s Environmental Climate Justice group, say this issue has forced them to reorganize their priorities.

Harvey's destruction similar to Floyd's (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Killer storms seem to come in the tamest sounding packages. Floyd was a barber in Mayberry. Harvey was an invisible bunny in a Jimmy Stewart movie.

MICHELLE WAGNER: Is Raleigh targeting Dare’s plastic bag ban? (Outer Banks Sentinel) -- While state lawmakers in Raleigh have focused on drawing new legislative district maps since reconvening in early August, they’ve been virtually silent on a controversial piece of legislation that still sits in a joint conference committee – the repeal of Dare County’s eight-year-old plastic bag ban.

HEALTH​
AMELIA HARPER: Opioid abuse often ends in tragedy (Rocky Mount Telegram analysis) -- A look at just a few Twin County death certificates reveals some of the tragic stories of opioid addiction.

ROSE HOBAN: Life Expectancy Gap Widens for Appalachia (N.C. Health News analysis) -- Smoking, high rates of diabetes, obesity heart disease and poor birth outcomes contribute to worsening life expectancy in Western NC.

STEPHANIE ARMOUR: Pressure Grows to Fund Children’s Health Program (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- State officials are increasingly worried that this year’s turbulent health-care politics in Washington could threaten funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a popular that usually wins broad bipartisan support.

MELISSA BAILEY: Dying At Home In An Opioid Crisis: Hospice Workers Grapple With Stolen Meds (N.C. Health News) -- As the nation’s opioid epidemic continues, some experts say hospices aren’t doing enough to identify families and staff who might be stealing pills.

AND MORE
RICK SMITH: Bob Young steps into a big pile of goo with ex-Baylor coach hire (WRAL-TV/TechWire) -- Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat, issues an apology to fans and supporters of his Hamilton Tiger-Cats after hiring and then quickly un-hiring controversial former Baylor football coach Art Giles. Sports Illustrated has labeled Giles as a person 'who doesn't deserve a second chance.' Young tried to give him one.

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