Outside the Box


Opinion Roundup: Hands off the ballot box, NCGA

Posted May 22

Green Party candidate Jill Stein continues fight for a recount in Michigan and in two other swing states.

Monday, May 22, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion and commentary on lawmakers' and the courts' roles in N.C. voting laws, calls for new investments in our state's public schools, the Volkswagen emission scheme settlement and more.

Dear NCGA: Step away from the ballot box and move on (Asheville Citizen Times) -- Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has put the issue to rest, more or less, the North Carolina General Assembly should stop trying to undermine the integrity of the electoral system by seeking to disenfranchise voters. Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to happen. But we can still ask.

ROBERT BARNES: Despite high court’s decision on N.C. voting law, activists worry about chief justice (Washington Post column) -- Observers say John Roberts may be signaling states whose laws are challenged to bring them to the Supreme Court.

DON FLOW: North Carolina should invest in principals (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- Over the past few years, North Carolina teachers have seen significant pay increases. Signals from Gov. Roy Cooper and last week’s Senate budget proposal indicate that the next few years will see even more increases.

ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS: Bringing the Dream of an Elite College to Rural Students (New York Times column) -- By placing college advisers in public schools, an organization is trying to break down the social, economic and psychological barriers that keep low-income rural students from dreaming big.

County funds pay for state shortcomings (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Maybe Pitt County, which hasn’t raised taxes significantly in at least five years, should follow the state’s lead and curtail school funding as well. Hopefully there would be plenty money left to fund all the gang investigators we are going to need to control the children that our broken public schools currently help lead into citizenship.

Bond issue needed for public schools (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- Welcome legislation to authorize a $1.9 billion bond issue for public schools is making its way through the N.C. General Assembly.

BOB ASHLEY: Howard Lee: breaking barriers, making history (Durham Herald-Sun column) -- Gov. Jim Hunt says Howard Lee, who received the Public School Forum’s Jay Robinson Education Leadership Award, “is a man who has made history and is still making it.” North Carolina and the Triangle are fortunate Lee has made and is making that history here.

Year-round Pell grants improve education (Winston-Salem Journal) -- We’re in agreement with two prominent Carolina Republican legislators who have announced their support for making Pell grants accessible year-round.

BOB SIMMONS & CAROL SAWYER: Let’s talk about what “social engineering” really is, Rep. Stone (Charlotte Observer column) -- N.C. lawmaker Scott Stone issued a veiled, but inaccurate threat, over CMS student assignment plan.

CATHERINE CLABBY: Who Will Steer Volkswagen Settlement Spending in NC? (N.C. Health News column) -- Expect debate over how North Carolina should spend $92 million from automaker’s emission-cheating settlement.

Build that wall? N.C. school district wrongly confiscates yearbooks (Anson Record) -- Richmond County Schools are wrong to confiscate yearbooks that contain a reference to President Trump’s wall.

Bills Undercutting All of Our Towns (Southern Pines Pilot) -- The General Assembly has no love for local government. While state lawmakers heap praise on themselves for cutting taxes and spending, they’re actually making it more expensive on all of us at the local level.

‘Property rights’ or clean water? (Greensboro News & Record) -- A state senator from Hickory makes a curious argument against stream buffers. They violate private-property protections, Andy Wells says.

Don’t try juvenile offenders as adults (Wilmington Star-News) -- North Carolina is now the last state in the Union that prosecutes 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. (New York, the only other holdout, is now phasing out the practice.) That could soon change, however, as a brave, bipartisan band of Tar Heel legislators seems on the verge of raising the age of juvenile prosecutions. They need to hold their ground, though, and hold the courage of their convictions.

NC Farmers Accused of Using Immigration Threats to Discourage Legal Claims (Public News Service) -- You might not look at your kale smoothie the same way again. Four migrant farmworkers recently settled a North Carolina class action lawsuit.

CELIA RIVENBARK: Sally Yates shows off her Southern smarts (Wilmington Star-News column) -- What a joy it was to watch Sally Yates calmly counter the shrill Ted Cruz, his face all angry putty, with logic, reason and truth as she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee recently. With kindergarten teacher levels of patience, Ms. Yates explained why Michael Flynn’s chummy relationship with Russian operatives made him susceptible to blackmail and thus a less than ideal choice to be national security advisor to the president.

JEFF HAMPTON: "Air down": Currituck requires flatter tires on beach where wild horses roam in hopes that fewer people get stuck (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot column) -- The new ordinance requires drivers to reduce the air pressure in their tires to 20 pounds per square inch in most cases.

Jail health programs need serious oversight (Fayetteville Observer) -- Jails aren’t country clubs or fancy hotels. They’re usually pretty gloomy places. What’s to celebrate, after all? We’re talking about a big holding pen where people accused of crimes, and the people who guard them, wait for the slow gears of the justice system to turn. Given the clientele, coddling is not on the agenda. But some services are very much in society’s and the inmates’ best interests.

How much would Thom Tillis’ ambulance ride cost someone without insurance? (Charlotte Observer) -- The senator from North Carolina is thankfully healthy after collapsing at a road race in Washington.

ALLEN JOHNSON: Republicans reach a new low with opioid/school funding stunt (Greensboro News & Record column) -- To state the obvious: N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger’s tepid defense of pilfering education funds for poor kids to preserve tax cuts for the wealthy was lame and insincere.

GENE SMITH: Calculating the cost of codified gluttony (Fayetteville Observer column) -- What do you suppose North Carolina will be like seven, eight or ten years down the road? We’ve all heard the promises, and we’ve all seen the resistance to them flattened like a punch-drunk prizefighter with no defense and a glass jaw. As angry as people are, the state’s leadership is unlikely to change hands or direction in the near future. So welcome to more of the same, and worse.

JAMES DOWNIE: How GOP gerrymandering is protecting Trump (Washington Post column) -- new districts that maximize its seat share. In North Carolina in 2016, for example, Republican candidates.

CHRIS FITZSIMON: A vindictive display in the halls of state government (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- The last week has featured some of the most offensive, belligerent and vindictive behavior by elected officials in generations — and that is not a reference to President Trump and his associates in Washington.

Divided We Rise: Federalism for the Left and the Right (Wall Street Journal) -- People across the political spectrum are turning to states and localities to deal with contentious issues such as immigration, law enforcement and education.

Federal Grant Will Boost Drug Treatment Capacity (N.C. Health News) -- The $31 million grant will cover treatment for thousands more people with drug and alcohol problems.

Charity for All? Not in Today’s Debates Over Civil War Memorials (Wall Street Journal column) -- In a world of demons and angels, we can’t agree on who’s which. Most of us are somewhere in between.

TIM WHITE: Sleep well tonight: Robert Mueller has the reins (Fayetteville Observer column) -- So many topics, so little time — let’s take a quick trip through the week just gone by. I don’t know about you, but I started sleeping better about halfway through last week. Robert Mueller was the reason. The Justice Department appointed the former FBI director as special counsel to oversee the investigation of possible connections between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia, including allegations that the Russians actively meddled in the 2016 election.


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Outside the Box