Opinion Roundup: Cooper's budget criticism is warranted
Posted June 21
Wednesday, June 21, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the General Assembly's latest budget plan, how states are making their own moves to combat gerrymandering, a local education bill with some questionable outside spending and more.
State budget that will become a train wreck (Fayetteville Observer) -- Gov. Roy Cooper says the budget just unveiled in the General Assembly is “the most fiscally irresponsible budget I’ve ever seen.” There he goes again, understated to a fault. It’s all that Cooper said it is, and much worse. Why in the world would the General Assembly feel driven to cut the corporate tax rate by half a percentage point when ours is already the lowest rate in the country? What business could our legislative leaders believe they will attract here when we already outdo every other state in that category? And why would our lawmakers make that move when their own economic analysts have warned them that we risk running into a deficit in a few years? The only reason to further cut that tax is to serve loud notice that they are deep in the pockets of corporate interests than the health and welfare of the residents and taxpayers of North Carolina.
THOMAS FULLER & MICHAEL WINES: Some States Beat Supreme Court to Punch on Eliminating Gerrymanders (New York Times analysis) -- A handful of states, including California, have tried to minimize the partisanship in redistricting — but mostly because voters, not politicians, insisted on it. Election law experts have been particularly critical of recent gerrymanders in Republican-controlled states like North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, but a lawsuit has also been filed against Maryland, where Democrats are in control.
Gerrymandering proceeds in an endless loop (Kinston Free Press) -- We’ll give Gov. Roy Cooper credit for trying to do the right thing. But he had to know his mission would fail. He had as much chance of getting Senate leader Phil Berger to register as a Democrat as he did in getting Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore to go into a special session to create new legislative districts and call a special election to fill them before the General Assembly’s 2018 session. Cooper got what he likely expected: a flat turndown.
ALEX GRANADOS: Campaign contribution by teacher prep organization complicates bill (EdNC analysis) -- Senator Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, is the sole sponsor of Senate Bill 599 which opens up the educator preparation system in North Carolina to organizations other than universities. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Committee to Elect Chad Barefoot received $5,000 from Texas Teachers of Tomorrow, an organization that could stand to benefit from the bill.
Legislators could whack legal aid for the needy (Charlotte Observer) -- Legal aid is on the chopping block in North Carolina’s legislature.
FACT CHECKER: Justice Alito’s misleading claim about sex offender rearrests (Washington Post column) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the opinion expressing partial agreement, said convicted sex offenders are “much more likely than any other type of offender to be rearrested for a new rape or sexual assault.” The Fact Checker normally doesn’t fact-check Supreme Court justices, and we certainly do not fact check opinions. But the topic of sex offender recidivism is worth clarifying because it is often misconstrued, so we found Alito’s claim newsworthy. And this specific claim is an assertion of fact, rather than the justices’ actual opinion.
Free Speech for sex offenders (Wall Street Journal) -- Unsympathetic plaintiffs serve a salutary purpose in the law, reminding politicians and the public that principles must govern even in unsavory circumstances. The Supreme Court rose to the occasion on Monday, ruling 8-0 that the First Amendment protects the right of even sex offenders to use social media.
DOUG CLARK: Judge Rick Elmore got it right before Supreme Court did (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Rick Elmore was right all along. The former Greensboro attorney, who’s been a member of the N.C. Court of Appeals since 2002, wrote four years ago that a state law restricting social media use by registered sex offenders was unconstitutional.
ERICA ORDEN & REBECCA BALLHAUS: Russia Hacking Hearings to Focus on State Level (Wall Street Journal column) -- The Senate and House intelligence committees will hold two open hearings examining Russian hacking efforts during the 2016 election, featuring testimony from current and former Homeland Security and FBI officials as well as state election directors.
PATRICK GILBERT: How the Dare County Democratic Party lost the reins of power (Outer Banks Sentinel analysis) -- For decades, Democrats controlled every aspect of political life and public office in Dare County. Voters who wanted a say in who led local government registered as Democrats because Democratic primary voters decided who held local office. Today only one Democrat, Dare Commissioner Danny Couch, from Hatteras, holds a major local office. And he ran unopposed.
We’re not all donkeys or elephants (Jacksonville Daily News) -- Too many of us still think in either-or political terms. What are you? Democrat or Republican? Lefty or righty? Donkey or elephant? And yet, that’s not even close to reality. Even within the two largest establishment parties, there are gaping and often angry divisions. And there are the smaller parties, like the Libertarians and Greens, also gaining adherents. Here in North Carolina, the fastest-growing political affiliation of all is none of the above.
SARAH OVASKA-FEW: Child welfare reforms pass legislature, await Cooper’s signature (Carolina Public Press column) -- North Carolina is on the cusp of reforming its troubled child welfare system. The state legislature passed legislation last week that sets things in place to overhaul how complaints of child abuse and neglect are handled.
LIZ SCHLEMMER: NC Pastors Less Healthy Than General Population (WUNC-FM column) -- Duke University researchers have completed a two-year health intervention that resulted in improvements in weight, cholesterol and blood pressure to more than 1,100 Methodist clergy in North Carolina.
NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR: Summer Solstice: A Great Moment to Ponder the Sun (New York Times column) -- And for the United States, this is a remarkable time for the sun. On Aug. 21, the country will experience a total solar eclipse, when the moon passes in front of the sun and casts its shadow on parts of the Earth. The centerline of the eclipse will cut through North Carolina, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. For about two minutes, sections of those states will experience totality, when the moon engulfs the sun and turns day into night.
CATHERINE CLABBY: Another Unwelcome Contaminant in the Cape Fear River (N.C. Health News analysis) -- North Carolina finds itself trying to assess the risk from an industrial chemical few knew lurked in waters feeding municipal drinking water plants.
Vital 1st step on GenX; now we verify (Wilmington Star-News) -- For the first time since June 7 -- when the StarNews broke the news of an unregulated chemical in the area’s primary water supply -- there was a positive development Tuesday on GenX: The Chemours Co. announced it is taking immediate action to stop the compound from entering the Cape Fear River, the area’s major water supply. While the announcement was welcome, it’s only a first step in what needs to be a thorough and transparent effort.
LAURA BAVERMAN: CloudFactory a growing case study in doing good, making money (WRAL TechWire column) -- With 2,500 workers in the developing world, venture capital funding and a growing base of customers, this Durham startup is proving it can make money and do good.
SUSAN LADD: N.C. barrier island's beauty marred by trash (Greensboro News & Record column) -- In the Pacific, ocean currents have swept our detritus into gigantic floating islands of trash. In the Atlantic, the ocean has belched our laziness and disregard back onto the beaches of our national seashores.
N.C. kids deserve better (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- North Carolina lags behind most states in child welfare. We can and must do better. The annual Kids Count Data book uses 16 indicators to rank states in four categories: family and community, health, education and economic well-being.