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Opinion Roundup: For some legislative districts, new maps could be double-edged sword

Posted July 24

State lawmakers look over maps of new legislative voting districts during a Nov. 7, 2011, joint House and Senate committee meeting.

Monday, July 24, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on how redistricting could affect African-American communities, a massive investigation uncovering trouble within N.C.'s adult care homes system, one CEO touting the success of a major local wind energy project and more.

POLICY & POLITICS
COREY FRIEDMAN: Redistricting an opportunity and a challenge (Wilson Times column) -- For African-American state lawmakers and their constituents, court-ordered redistricting is a double-edged sword. New maps could make some lopsided legislative districts more competitive, threatening Republicans’ veto-proof majority in the General Assembly. But they also could reduce the concentration of black voters and pit incumbent legislators against each other.

TRAVIS FAIN: Budget cuts legal aid for poor, but no explanation given (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Legislators took a bite this past session out of taxpayer funding for poor people caught up in the courts system, and it's unclear why.

STEPHEN OLEMACHER: GOP embraces tax hike and it will cost N.C. taxpayers $9,000 a year (AP analysis) -- Republicans aren’t usually big on raising taxes, but they’re really eager to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes that could increase North Carolina tax bills $9,000 a year. Why? A look at the states that benefit the most from the tax break helps explain it — they are all Democratic strongholds.

GOP tax plan will hike N.C. taxpayer bills’ $9,071 (AP analysis) -- Republicans are trying to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes as part of a package to overhaul America’s tax system. Almost 44 million people claimed the deduction in 2014. The average deduction for taxpayers who claimed it in each state and the District of Columbia: U.S.: $11,846; 25-N.C.: $9,071.

It’s time to enact fair redistricting (Greensboro News & Record) -- Gov. Roy Cooper promised last weekend that Democrats, if returned to power in 2020, will implement independent, nonpartisan redistricting.

Democrats should focus on ballots, not protests (Wilmington Star-News) -- Gov. Roy Cooper is trying to help Democrats regain at least a share of the political power in North Carolina. We believe the state functions better when there are at least two viable parties debating ideas on a level playing field and -- in an ideal world -- occasionally compromising with one another.

Do Trump supporters have ‘no place’ leading us? (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlotte City Council member Dimple Ajmera says Trump supporters shouldn’t be leading our city.

DR. SARAH SQUIRE: Insulated representatives should meet their constituents (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- Another congressional recess has passed without Sens. Richard Burr or Thom Tillis holding public town-hall meetings. While advocating for my patients’ health-care access, I’ve felt frustration towards our senators. Refusal to engage with constituents weakens our democracy.

TAYLOR BATTEN: Mr. Trump, meet Justices Brennan, Brandeis (Charlotte Observer column) -- Donald Trump disparages the free press, but Supreme Court justices through the years recognize its value.

CELIA RIVENBARK: A story that could be made only in America (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Oh, heavenly days. I had just barely removed the cold compress from my head after all the celebrating from last week’s “National Civility Day” when along comes the news that we must celebrate “Made in America Week.” Many have pointed out the embolism-inducing hypocrisy of Donald and Ivanka Trump declaring Made in America Day.z

City leaders got a glimpse of gun violence. Now what? (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Gun violence is all too frequent in too many Asheville communities. Seven shootings this year have happened in areas not far south of downtown. Three of the shootings were fatal.

A toast to common-sense Brunch Bill (Wilmington Star-News) -- For those who remember the protracted battle royale that led to New Hanover County’s adoption of “liquor by the drink” on Jan. 12, 1979, the speedy progress of the “Brunch Bill” has to be cause for amazement. Yes, boys and girls: Once upon a time, not so very long ago, you could not buy anything stronger than 3.2 beer or Chardonnay in a North Carolina restaurant.

MARK JURKOWITZ: There are finally more Dare Repubs than Dems (Outer Banks Sentinel analysis) -- New voter registration data reveal that a political milestone has been reached in Dare County. While Dare is a reliably “red” county and has been for some time, registered Republicans here finally outnumber registered Democrats.

Politics and civility, bless your heart (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- The start of the municipal campaign season gives candidates and residents in the Greenville area an opportunity to show we can elect quality leaders without falling into the spiral of hate and meanness that has a grip on state and national politics.

Recall is All Wrong for Pinehurst Issue (Southern Pines Pilot) -- North Carolina does not widely embrace the recall election process, and with good reason. It is a strong dose of medicine for which the cure might be worse than the ailment.

HEALTH
FRANK TAYLOR & MICHAEL GEBELEIN: NC adult care homes system under fire, with oversight inconsistent, unreliable (Carolina Public Press analysis) – A six-month investigation of adult care homes shows spectrum of problems, ‘gaping hole’ in NC oversight of housing for those with mental illness. Despite a complex and costly system designed to keep the state’s adult care home system running smoothly, very serious complaints and incidents persist, with residents neglected, mistreated or even abused.

JEANNE WHALEN: Lawyer Who Took On Big Tobacco Now Targets Opioid Makers (Wall Street Journal column) -- The legal front widening against makers of opioid painkillers has something in common with landmark tobacco litigation of the 1990s: attorney Mike Moore, who is encouraging states to sue pharmaceutical companies.

GENE SMITH: Opioids - Our people, our problems (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Not every North Carolina family is directly touched by our state’s opioid problem, and a good thing that is. The legislature has just committed to spending about 50 cents per Tar Heel, over the next two years, to bring it under control. I don’t question the motives of anyone who had a hand in drafting or enacting the measure; nor can I see anything on the list of initiatives that shouldn’t be there. But I do believe that almost all of us are at least indirectly affected.

Praying for Sen. McCain (Winston-Salem Journal) -- We join many in the nation in praying for Republican Sen. John McCain, one of the last true lions of the U.S. Senate. News broke Wednesday that he has a particularly aggressive type of brain tumor. We hope his treatment goes as well as it can. Our nation needs McCain now more than ever.

JOHN THOMPSON: Ted Budd, tell your constituents the truth about health care (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Martha Chaires, whose son Javier has Down Syndrome, said, “Please keep us in mind because you represent a lot of people like Javier,” as she spoke with U.S. Rep. Ted Budd during a meet-and-greet at the Greensboro Marriott Downtown on April 14.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
LAUREN OHNESORGE: As wind moratorium awaits signature, Avangrid touts Amazon success (Triangle Business Journal column) -- As a bill that would suspend permits for new wind farms sits unsigned, North Carolina’s first wind developer is touting its projects in the state. Avangrid said the Amazon wind farm near Elizabeth City had a lot to do with the firm’s increase in earnings in 2017.

CATHERINE CLABBY: Making NC Well Water Safer (N.C. Health News analysis) -- Since so many North Carolina residents draw drinking water from unmonitored private wells, a push is on to improve testing and treatment.

Our river needs better protection (Fayetteville Observer) -- We’ve learned, in the past year or two, about some nasty things in the Cape Fear River — toxins that may be harmful to our health, and may be capable of killing us. Some were getting into the river near Fayetteville and flowing down past Wilmington, where they were entering the water supply of more than 300,000 people.

Cooper rightly pans offshore drilling (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Gov. Roy Cooper was right on the mark last week in declaring his staunch opposition to opening up North Carolina’s coast to offshore drilling. Cooper made the announcement Thursday on the beach at Fort Macon State Park in Carteret County.

TIM WHITE: Drill here? Drill now? Why? We’ve already got plenty (Fayetteville Observer column) -- I bought a new truck last year. Traded my 20 mpg SUV for a full-size, four-door pickup that on a good day gets 16 mpg, and nearly half that when I’m towing my 26-foot travel trailer. The trailer was my excuse for buying the behemoth, but truth be told, I’ve loved the rumble of V-8 engines since I was a kid.

ELIZABETH FRIEND: Why Chatham won’t frack for at least another year (Durham Herald-Sun column) -- Fracking is off the table for at least another year in Chatham County after commissioners voted to extend an oil and gas development moratorium. They say they need more time to evaluate state regulations and to draft county ordinances to protect air and water quality.

SARAH RANKIN: Environmental Report On Pipeline Favorable For Developers (AP analysis) -- The Atlantic Coast Pipeline intended to carry natural gas across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina would have some adverse environmental effects, including impacts on water resources, forest and other habitats, but most could be reduced to insignificant levels, an assessment by federal regulators found.

SAM WALKER: Storms Add to Nags Head’s Flooding Woes (Coastal Review analysis) -- Nags Head’s chronic flooding problems, a factor of the topography and an outdated drainage system, have been made worse by sudden downpours during recent freak storms.

JEFF HAMPTON: Way more sea turtles than expected captured by Outer Banks beach widening project (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot analysis) -- A dredging company has scooped up way more sea turtles than expected during a summerlong beach nourishment project on the Outer Banks. Great Lakes Dredge and Dock has accidentally snagged 65 sea turtles instead of 17 anticipated by biologists. One of the 65 turtles died, well below the eight forecasted, she said.

EDUCATION
UNC PRESIDENT MARGARET SPELLINGS: State funding at best in a decade (Charlotte Observer column) -- North Carolina has long benefited from one of the best-supported public university systems anywhere in the country. And the budget state lawmakers approved last month – the best budget for the University in a decade – will help keep it that way, strengthening higher education to meet new challenges in a changing economy.

LEAH ASMELASH: It's not easy to reduce pre-K waiting lists (Greensboro News & Record column) -- Each version of the North Carolina budget presented this year, politicians ranging from Gov. Roy Cooper to leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives crowed about how they were chipping away at waiting lists for the state’s subsidized NC Pre-K program.

SHARLEKA BOTEX: Funding ends for effort that prepares rising fifth-graders (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- A summer enrichment program that has worked to help rising sixth-graders make a successful transition to middle school for 11 years is out of funding and its future remains uncertain.

AND MORE
MITCH WEISS, HOLBROOK MOHR & PETER PRENGAMAN: Brazilians funneled as "slaves" by US church, ex-members say (AP analysis) -- When Andre Oliveira answered the call to leave his Word of Faith Fellowship congregation in Brazil to move to the mother church in North Carolina at the age of 18, his passport and money were confiscated by church leaders — for safekeeping, he said he was told.

SHIVANI VORA: Where to Celebrate 30 Years of ‘Dirty Dancing’ (New York Times analysis) -- It has been 30 years since “Dirty Dancing,” the love story about the resort dance instructor Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze, and a guest, Frances Houseman (Jennifer Grey), known as Baby, opened in theaters. Although the movie was filmed in Virginia and North Carolina, it was set in the Catskill Mountains in Sullivan County, N.Y., in the 1960s.

Nellie gives us a miracle (Fayetteville Observer) -- Nellie the pit bull really is a “miracle dog.” She went missing on July 10, when her owner apparently fell asleep at the wheel on I-95 and crashed into a tree. William F. Schlesinger, of Arlington, Virginia, died in the crash. Nellie disappeared into the woods, just north of the N.C. 24 exit.

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