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Opinion Roundup: No simple solution for N.C.'s opioid crisis

Posted August 14

Close to half a million people died from an opioid overdose between 2009 and 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Deseret Photo)

Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the complicated factors driving N.C.'s opioid crisis, the deregulation of a major media giant with N.C. ties, the much-anticipated solar eclipse and more.

HEALTH
TAYLOR KNOPF: Why Are There So Many Opioids and Overdoses in Wilmington? (N.C. Health News column) -- And is the city’s high ranking fair? People working in addiction recovery explain the various factors at play in Wilmington.

Opioid crisis needs reality check (Wilmington Star-News column) -- Heroin and synthetic fentanyl are the new devils brew in America’s opioid crisis. Their use is increasing exponentially compared with prescribed opioids. Combined, the various types of opioids killed about 60,000 last year. Numerous states and cities have filed lawsuits and others have initiated probes into the role of opioid manufacturers. Why? They didn’t write the prescriptions or dispense any drugs.

A big boost for our war against opioid abuse (Fayetteville Observer) -- President Trump did an about-face last week and he deserves a big cheer for it. The president said he will shortly declare a national state of emergency over the country’s ever-escalating opioid addiction. With overdoses now killing nearly 150 Americans a day, it has become the nation’s No. 1 cause of accidental death. And it’s getting worse.

SANDRA BOREN, KELLY LEGGETT, R. PRESTON LENTZ & RONALD PUDLO: Teen pregnancy drop could be put at risk (Greensboro News & Record column) -- North Carolina has made tremendous progress in helping young people stay healthy. The 39 percent decline in our state’s teen pregnancy rate since 2010 is strong evidence of that. However, North Carolina still lags behind the rest of the nation, ranking 22nd out of 50 states in teen pregnancies.

BETSY MCKAY & PAUL OVERBERG: Rural America’s Childbirth Crisis: The Fight to Save Whitney Brown (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- Women in sparsely populated places are more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than those in large cities—a reversal from 2000. The phenomenon is just one example of how what once ailed big U.S. cities now afflicts the nation’s rural areas.

POLITICS & POLICY
CECILIA KANG, ERIC LIPTON & SYDNEY EMBER: How a Conservative TV Giant Is Ridding Itself of Regulation (New York Times analysis) -- The day before President Trump’s inauguration, the top executive of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the nation’s largest owner of television stations, invited an important guest to the headquarters of the company’s Washington-area ABC affiliate. The trip was, in the parlance of the business world, a deal closer. A merger with Tribune would transform Sinclair into a media juggernaut, with reach into seven out of 10 homes through more than 200 stations. The company would have a significant presence in important markets in several electoral swing states, including North Carolina.

Voters have a right to fair election districts (Wilmington Star-News) -- The prospect of making North Carolina’s gerrymandered districts fair -- and doing so in a timely manner -- isn’t looking good. N.C. House and Senate Republicans have hired Beltway computer geek Tom Hofeller to draw maps. He’s being paid $50,000 in taxpayer money for what essentially is political consulting. Insiders might recall that Hofeller drew the maps that helped give the GOP a hammer-lock.

No, they’re not serious about redistricting (Fayetteville Observer) -- Six years later and we’re still fighting about the statewide redistricting that was done after the 2010 federal census was completed. State lawmakers are once again redrawing state legislative districts, not because they want to but because the courts forced them to. And we wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the folly continues right through the 2020 federal census and then starts all over again.

NCGA’s pitiful stall tactics only delay justice (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- North Carolina voters got less than half a loaf from three federal judges last week. The decision was just one more step in tweaking an election system that is hopelessly broken.

JOHN RAILEY: Bullied attorney general becomes a bully himself (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has no respect for himself in caving to President Trump’s bullying, so maybe it’s not surprising that this lawyer has no respect for the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press or the Constitution-loving lawyers in his department. Many of us students of Southern history are all too familiar with people like Sessions who became bullies to curry favor with those who bullied them. We know too many guys like Sessions.

TRAVIS FAIN: Law change would give extra pay to one GOP state worker (WRAL-TV analysis) – Bill Peaslee, former counsel for the state GOP, has been taking vacation time from his $115,494-a-year job at the industrial commission to make $450 to $500 a day at the tax commission. How the legislature wants to pay him for his time on the tax commission AND for his state job.

GARY ROBERTSON: N.C. speaker blames lawyers' zeal for legal aid cuts (AP analysis) — North Carolina’s House speaker wouldn’t say at first why the Republican-led General Assembly cut much of the state funding legal aid groups use to help low-income clients facing evictions and other legal trouble in civil court. House Speaker Tim Moore, who acknowledges pushing for the reduction in the final state government budget approved in June, blamed, in part, reports he received of overzealous legal aid attorneys in housing cases for the provision. Legal aid groups are defending their work.

ALEXA CORSE: Democrats Focus on State Elections at Netroots Convention (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- The party is trying to convert opposition to President Donald Trump into victories down the ballot.

Senate Inquiry Into Russian Meddling Could Wrap Up This Year, Burr Says (New York Times analysis) – Sen. Richard Burr, the initially reluctant but now determined leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry into 2016 election interference by Russia, said the investigation had expanded beyond its original scope based on new evidence, but he hoped to complete it this year to allow Congress to take steps to prevent future tampering efforts from Moscow.

CARL HULSE: Foolish Transgender Debate in Texas (New York Times) --While much of the nation appears to be adjusting to the transgender rights movement, social conservatives in the Texas Legislature, prodded by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, continue their obsessive campaign to restrict the bathroom rights of transgender citizens. In the vote, the state Senate chose to ignore the ignominious fate of N.C. legislators who had to retreat from similar narrow-minded restrictions this year in the face of a revolt by business and community leaders and a boycott by influential institutions that cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and business profits.

TIM WHITE: It’s all about our changing society (Fayetteville Observer column) -- I’m told that all of them appeared sober when they made the decision. No evidence of mimosas hidden in their water bottles. No swaying or wavering as they walked into the room. It was an apparently unintoxicated City Council that agreed to put the “Brunch Bill” on an upcoming council agenda. And it’s likely that they’ll approve it, despite some objections from several council members.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
On a dark afternoon (Greensboro News & Record) -- As the story on today’s Ideas front explains, scientists look forward to learning a lot from the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

STEPHANIE CARSON: Land Conservancies Protect Drinking Water at Its Source (Public News Service analysis) -- North Carolina's abundant water sources provide drinking water to thousands of people, but protecting the quality of that water starts on the land. That fact has guided a public/private partnership in one part of the state. The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy recently worked with Weaverville to protect 310 acres around the town's watershed.

A climate warning (Greensboro News & Record) -- The report that emerged this week from 13 federal agencies specifying the dangerous changes in the world’s climate must be ratified, emphasized and — above all else — acted upon.

JEFF HAMPTON: OBX says no to offshore drilling again (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot analysis) -- North Carolina held hearings to get public input for The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management proposal for oil exploration in the Atlantic.

EDUCATION
Meeting student needs when the legislature won’t (Winston-Salem Journal) -- It’s no secret that teachers in North Carolina have to buy many of the basic supplies their students need — notebooks, pencils, scissors — from their own salaries. That wouldn’t be so bad if their salaries were generous, but they’re not.

MARGARET SPELLINGS: Higher education needs to change (WRAL-TV TechWire column) -- Margaret Spellings, president, University of North Carolina, said she has been reading some disturbing polling. "No one thinks the status quo in higher education is working well." And she says changes are in order.

Execs: NC must change education to win job wars (WRAL-TV TechWire analysis) -- States and countries that figure out how to compete in the coming jobs wars will be big economic winners, Lewis Ebert, president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, told about 200 people at the Chamber’s 2017 Conference on Educationat the Sheraton Imperial in Durham on Thursday.

EMILY BOBROW: Teaching Adult Skills to At-Risk Youth (Wall Street Journal column) -- In 2012, Alex Protzman took over a small housing program for homeless young adults run by Carolina Outreach, a for-profit company that offers mental-health services across North Carolina. Protzman, 40, is now executive director of the Durham-based LIFE Skills Foundation, which helps homeless and at-risk youth become independent.

AND MORE
Seeking answers at an emotional time (Charlottesville Daily Progress) -- we also must evaluate — as unemotionally as possible — the tragic, terrifying events of this past weekend. We need to determine what went wrong to permit violence to escalate to this degree. Perhaps nothing further could have been done; sometimes you do your best, and still fail. But as we move slowly beyond today’s shock, we will want those answers. All of this will be difficult. We will need our strength and unity, our clarity and courage, in the immediate days ahead — and for the long haul.

North State take city's spirit to Williamsport (Greenville Daily Reflector) -- Hope springs eternal in Greenville this day as a group of young boys heads to Williamsport to play. The North State All Stars, there are 13 in all, carry with them more than the pride and joy of the families and friends but a tradition of baseball and community that reaches back decades.

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