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Opinion Roundup: Crooked N.C. districts need serious fix

Posted July 20

Thursday, July 20, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the evolution of severe gerrymandering in N.C., the growing uncertainty within our nation's health care system, questions surrounding a controversial pipeline proposal and more.

POLICY & POLITICS
Carolina's expensive map-making folly (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) – North Carolina Republicans didn’t invent gerrymandering. But by their own boastful admissions, they have done their very best to perfect it.

Full-time General Assembly is the last thing our state needs (Wilson Times) -- After lawmakers called a recess and fled Raleigh for the Fourth of July, news stories began tallying the days spent in session and beating a somewhat familiar drum.

HEALTH
ADAM BEAM: Rural hospitals face uncertainty with health care proposals (AP analysis) -- People who work at rural hospitals are watching the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare closely. Those hospitals have struggling budgets that were propped up by the massive influx of poor people who gained taxpayer-funded health insurance.

Healing health care (Greensboro News & Record) -- To hear Donald Trump tell it, Obamacare is on a death spiral and doomed to implode. But in the end, it was the ill-conceived and dishonest attempt by Republicans to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act that self-destructed.

If ACA is so bad, why has repeal failed? (Wilmington Star-News) -- President Donald Trump and the Republicans who control Congress think Obamacare is a complete disaster. Republican Ben Carson -- now a Trump cabinet member -- went even further when, at the 2013 Values Voters Summit, he declared the Affordable Health Care Act “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” We get it. That’s their view. Fair enough.

CHAD TERHUNE & JULIE APPLEBY: Obamacare Exchanges In Limbo (N.C. Health News) -- Congress' attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has hit a roadblock, but still the insurance markets are in turmoil.

ROSE HOBAN: Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs Face Funding Cliff (N.C. Health News) -- Five large programs, intended to collect evidence of how well comprehensive sex education prevents pregnancies, will lose funding two years early.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Key pipeline questions still need answers (Fayetteville Observer) -- They turned out in Fayetteville on Tuesday evening and they’ll likely be out in force tonight in Rocky Mount. They are the opponents and proponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the proposed 600-mile link between the gas-producing fracking fields in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and industrial users in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.

JOHN DOWNEY: Cypress Creek's new N.C. projects combine solar and storage (Charlotte Business Journal column) -- Site work has started on what appear to be the first commercial solar-plus-battery-storage projects in the state.

Confronting a carcinogen (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Gov. Roy Cooper has rightly been criticized in recent days for not enacting better protection against hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen that can be found in well water. There are signs his administration is now headed in the right direction. We hope that’s the case.

GINGER LIVINGSTON: Group fighting offshore oil exploration (Greenville Daily Reflector analysis) -- An international organization dedicated to restoring the world’s oceans is asking Greenville residents to form an advocacy group to protest Atlantic seismic testing and oil drilling.

TYLER DUKES: Timeline: Years later, well owners near coal ash still grapple with safety concerns (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Amid the slow-burning saga of coal ash in N.C., hundreds of homeowners within eyeshot of the waste pits have received conflicting and often confusing information over the past several years from state officials about the safety of their well water.​

STEPHANIE CARSON: Groups to Gov: Permit for Wood Pellet Plant Doesn't Pass Smell Test (Public News Service analysis) -- More than 10,000 signatures protesting the permitting of a wood pellet plant now are in the hands of Gov. Roy Cooper. The petition seeks the revocation of an air permit to Enviva, the world's largest wood pellet manufacturer, for a facility in Richmond County contending a flawed permitting process under the McCrory administration.

EDUCATION
BRENDA BERG: Shamrock Gardens Elementary School: A Blueprint for Educator Innovation (EdNC column) -- For several years, a primary focus of BEST NC’s student-focused advocacy work has been around the importance of having strong, well-supported educators in every classroom from; pre-K to higher education. Without great educators, anything else we advocate for is unlikely to work. That’s why we developed our primary advocacy priority, which we call Educator Innovation.

PAMELA GRUNDY: NC BEST GOT IT WRONG—A parent on fixing a failing school, importance of integration (EdNC column) -- In her recent account of Shamrock Gardens Elementary School in Charlotte’s “blueprint” for innovation BEST NC president Brenda Berg left out a critical piece of the foundation. Shamrock’s long-term accomplishments, and the difference the school makes in its students’ lives, is inextricably linked to the success of a 12-year-old effort to reintegrate the school racially and economically.

AND MORE
JIMMY WILLIAMS: Documentary to Focus on The Hammocks (Coastal Review column) -- The nonprofit Friends of The Hammocks and Bear Island and UNC-TV are teaming up to produce a documentary on the history of the area near Swansboro and seeking help from those who remember.

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