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Opinion Roundup: N.C. Education Lottery money under the microscope

Posted August 31

Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on how N.C. Education Lottery funds are being distributed, what the legislature's election board power play means for voters' say, why funding to monitor GenX levels in our water is tied to another issue and more.

EDUCATION
PAUL WOOLVERTON: Top lottery advocate questions if schools benefit (Fayetteville Observer analysis) -- The lottery was promoted then and now as the North Carolina Education Lottery, with its profits to be directed to the state’s pre-kindergarten program, the hiring of public school teachers, public school construction and college scholarships. Now one of the top lawmakers who championed the lottery in 2005, former state Sen. Tony Rand of Fayetteville, thinks the lottery spending has drifted from its original goals.

POLITICS & POLICY
For fair voting (Winston-Salem Journal) -- When Republican Gov. Pat McCrory was in power, the legislature controlled by his party had no problem with existing law that allows the governor to largely control election boards. But after he lost re-election, GOP legislators passed a law reversing that. That law subverts the will of the voters.

SUSAN SVRLUGA: In wake of Charlottesville, UNC denies white nationalist’s request (Washington Post) -- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill denied a request by Richard Spencer's institute to give a speech on campus.

TRAVIS FAIN: Senate overrides a pair of Cooper vetoes (WRAL-TV analysis) -- The Republican majority in the House had already mustered the three-fifths vote needed to override Gov. Roy Cooper's vetoes on House Bill 140, which consumer advocates flagged as an enabler for predatory lenders, and House Bill 770.

Trump reinforces Arpaio's influence (Greensboro News & Record) -- Joe Arpaio’s influence was felt far beyond the boundaries of Maricopa County, Ariz.

MATTHEW BURNS AND KATHRYN BROWN: Audit: NC housing agency spent TARP money on parties, gifts (WRAL-TV analysis) -- The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency misused federal money meant to help homeowners rework their mortgages after the recession, according to a government watchdog.

​​​Charlotte must tackle its real housing problem (Charlotte Observer) -- If Charlotte wants to solve its affordable housing problem, it needs to know what the problem truly is.

STEPHANIE CARSON & CYNTHIA HOWARD: Three Years Free after 30 Years of Innocence in Prison (Public News Service) -- Saturday marks the third anniversary of the biggest exoneration in North Carolina history. Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were declared innocent after serving more than 30 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit. Their story is chronicled in a report released Thursday by the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. The center’s executive director Gretchen Engel explained why it's important for their story to be documented and studied.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
TRAVIS FAIN: GOP ties GenX funding to plastic bag ban repeal (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Republican legislators tied new funding to monitor GenX in the Cape Fear River to a long-discussed repeal of North Carolina's coastal ban on plastic bags.

GARY ROBERTSON: 2 vetoes overridden; bill backs local agency, not state with money to address chemical (AP analysis) -- The Republican-dominated North Carolina legislature Wednesday overrode two more vetoes by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and tentatively agreed to fund more regional efforts — rather than state regulators — to treat and research a little-studied chemical in a river.

Matthew, Harvey show us a climate-related trend (Fayetteville Observer) -- Some weather experts are calling Hurricane Harvey a “500-year storm.” Others say it’s the storm of the millennium. Harvey’s 50-plus inches of rain is an all-time national record. Houston and surrounding areas will be years rebuilding. Many owners of damaged homes and businesses had no flood insurance, because they weren’t in a designated flood zone and have never seen flooding. Sound familiar? It should.

CATHERINE KOZAK: Alliance Seeks to Restore Lake Mattamuskeet (Coastal Review column) -- Hyde County, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Wildlife Resources Commission have joined forces to create a watershed restoration plan for Lake Mattamuskeet.

​HEALTH
AMELIA HARPER: Local programs fight opioid epidemic (Rocky Mount Telegram) -- While the Twin Counties clearly has a problem with opioid abuse, solutions to the crisis abound here as well. Nash County, especially, is assuming a leadership role in the state as a model for ways a community can fight the opioid crisis.

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