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Opinion Roundup: Income inequality appears to be widening here at home

Posted September 27

NC Flag, Legislative Building, Raleigh

Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the current state of inequality in North Carolina's economy, a local assessment of the collapse of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, an in-depth look at the leadership style of new schools chief Mark Johnson and more.

JASON DEBRUYN: Economic Recovery Still Leaves Many Behind (WUNC-FM analysis) -- By several measures, the North Carolina economy is humming along nicely. But a deeper look at the data shows the benefits of the strong economy are concentrated among fewer people, leaving more winners and losers and an ever widening gap of income inequality.

NC loses in high-stakes incentives game (Fayetteville Observer) -- We weren’t even close. The winner played Major League Baseball. We barely made it to Little League. When we saw what Wisconsin bid to get a Foxconn electronics plant, we were blown away. So was this state’s incentive package. Foxconn — the Chinese company that makes iPhones and other electronic equipment — plans to build a $10 billion flat-screen factory in the United States.

BETH VELLIQUETTE: LaRoque appears before federal judge (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Stephen LaRoque, a disgraced former state legislator from Kinston, appeared in a federal court in an effort to clear up the remaining debt on his restitution. LaRoque still owes around $122,000 of $300,000 he was ordered to pay back to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. LaRoque’s attorneys claim the federal government owes him money.

American liberty gives us freedom to stand, sit or kneel (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Many Americans are outraged that protests over racial inequality in America have infiltrated the ranks of top-tier professional sports, but it the numbers suggest it was a sheer inevitability.

CINDY BOREN: Michael Jordan isn’t sitting out any more, says protesting athletes ‘shouldn’t be demonized’ (Washington Post column) -- One of the biggest criticisms of Michael Jordan over the years has been his reluctance to weigh in on important political and social issues. Increasingly, though, that has been changing.

DEREK LACEY: Convention of States hopes to rein in federal government (Hendersonville Times-News analysis) -- In his remarks Tuesday at the Henderson County Public Library, Mike Faulkenberry, state director of the N.C. Convention of States Project, asked a crowd of about 80 people whether they felt the federal government is “doing just a bang-up job.” None raised their hand to answer yes. The Convention of States Project is an effort to hold a convention of states to rein in the federal government, focusing specifically on term limits, fiscal restraint and reducing and restraining its power and jurisdiction.

TRAVIS FAIN: N.C. lawmaker alludes to females lawmakers as 'eye candy' (WRAL-TV) -- U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of a GOP conservative caucus, says he jokingly alluded to female members of the group as "eye candy." Mark Walker, who heads the Republican Study Committee, said the group has almost 160 men and women and added that "if it wasn't sexist, I'd say RSC 'eye candy.'"

JIM MORRILL: Poll shows Lyles starts Charlotte mayoral race with ‘wind to her back’ (Charlotte Observer analysis) -- Democrat Vi Lyles enjoys higher favorability among voters than Republican Kenny Smith, though both mayoral candidates have a long way to go.

After the cameras (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Many issues divide us these days, but Meals on Wheels shouldn’t be one of them. We thought about that last week as Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper came through town to honor the program, just as Republican politicians and other Democrats have done in years past.

HEALTH
North Carolina dodges a health care calamity (Charlotte Observer) -- Graham-Cassidy passage would have sent states like NC back to pre-Obamacare benefits and coverage.

PHIL GALEWITZ: Medicaid Covers All That? It’s The Backstop Of America’s Ailing Health System (Kaiser Health News analysis) -- Much of the discussion on Capitol Hill has been around Medicaid, which has been around since 1966. The program covers more than you think.

EDUCATION
KELLY HINCHCLIFFE, TRAVIS FAIN & ALEX GRANADOS: Inside the combative world of NC's new public schools chief (WRAL-TV interview) -- In the nine months Mark Johnson has been in Raleigh, differing narratives have emerged about the state's new superintendent of North Carolina's public schools. To some, the 33-year-old is a smart, energetic, natural leader focused on shaking up the state’s education department. To others, he is an inexperienced leader who keeps his office door closed and at times openly criticizes colleagues he disagrees with. Ask Johnson: He’s simply a man on a mission, determined to battle those promoting the status quo in public education.

LIZ BELL: UNC System teacher preparation increase muddied by data collection changes (EdNC analysis) -- Though the UNC System saw a rise in educator preparation program enrollment in fall 2016 for the first time in several years, the changes may not reflect increased interest in teaching as a career – just more current educators enrolling in courses. The data collection methods used in 2016 differed from previous years which may have influenced the results.

LAURA LESLIE: UNC chief Spellings: Higher ed too pricey (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Eleven years after the publication of the Spellings Report on higher education, UNC President Margaret Spellings reiterated its call for cost containment and financial aid reform, and repeated her earlier push for measurement of student performance.

MELISSA KORN: The Best Public Colleges in the U.S. (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- UCLA, Michigan, UNC lead the way among state schools in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings.

DOUGLAS BELKIN & MELISSA KORN: Harvard Takes Top Honors in WSJ/THE College Rankings (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- Most of the best colleges and universities in the U.S. remain rooted in the Northeast. Harvard University topped this year’s rankings, and about a mile down the street, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earned a tie for third place. Columbia, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Cornell—all of which sit within 400 miles of Harvard Square—took five of the top 10 spots. The top-ranked public institution, the University of California, Los Angeles, came in at No. 25. The University of Michigan reached No. 27, while UNC-Chapel Hill rounded out the top three public universities at No. 33.

MARC TRACY: UNC Looking to Slip Through Hole in N.C.A.A. Rules (New York Times column) -- What happened at North Carolina seems to have directly subverted college sports’s central mission of staging athletics as a mere component of the players’ educations. And yet it is possible that, when it comes to N.C.A.A. sanctions, North Carolina could get away with failing to do just that.

JOHN HECHINGER: Get the Keg Out of the Frat House (New York Times column) -- Fraternity initiation season has just begun and already an 18-year-old freshman is dead. An investigation into the death of the student, who had been drinking at Louisiana State University’s Phi Delta Theta house, will most likely point to a familiar culprit: the toxic brew of alcohol and hazing. The Louisiana case is only the latest example in a horrifying but persistent trend.

SARAH OVASKA-FEW: WCU gets ready for a tuition drop, increased attention (Carolina Public Press analysis) -- NC Promise set to decrease costs next fall for students at Western Carolina University. School expects increased attention from applicants.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
MARK JURKOWITZ: Cooper veto restores OBX plastic bag ban (Outer Banks Sentinel analysis) – Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement that he will veto House Bill 56 restores the Outer Banks’ eight-year-old plastic bag ban, which was repealed by the legislature when it passed HB 56 in August. The question is — for how long?

BRAD RICH: CMAST Sea Turtle Doctor Shares Expertise (Coastal Review profile) -- Dr. Craig Harms of N.C. State’s Center for Marine Sciences and Technology in Morehead City is not only one of the area’s top experts on how to diagnose and treat sick and injured sea turtles, he helped write the book.

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