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Opinion Roundup: Policy battles behind closed doors

Posted September 13

This is the N.C. Legislative Building as seen on Feb. 2, 2015 at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on how key policy discussions appear to be changing at the General Assembly, what last week's Board of Governors meeting may have revealed about the UNC system, how area leaders are addressing the opioid crisis and more.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
KIRK ROSS: Environmental Bills Shaped In Secret (Coastal Review analysis) -- Closed-door negotiations have increasingly become the norm in the North Carolina General Assembly, especially with contentious environmental measures such as the recently passed House Bill 56.

NEEL KELLER: At board meeting, a backlash against the bag ban repeal (Outer Banks Sentinel analysis) -- Less than one week after the state legislature voted to repeal the Outer Banks’ plastic bag ban, residents used the public comment period at the Dare County Commissioners meeting to sharply criticize that action, arguing that their voices were ignored in Raleigh.

POLITICS & POLICY
Dear Roy: Never mind (Greensboro News & Record) -- In a raw and extraordinary meeting that played last week like a mash-up between pro rasslin and “The Real Housewives,” the UNC Board of Governors made one thing painfully clear to UNC administrators: Don’t talk. Don’t breathe. And definitely don’t write any letters to the governor without asking the full board “May I?” in advance.

COLIN WARREN-HICKS: Former UNC Chancellor James Moeser: ‘Silent Sam needs to come down.’ (Durham Herald Sun analysis) -- Former Chancellor James Moeser joined a group of academics at UNC-Chapel Hill Monday night calling for Silent Sam to be removed from the university’s campus. A panel discussed the Confederate statue at a public forum in Hyde Hall titled “Why Is Silent Sam Still Standing?”

DOUG CLARK: Jesse Helms’ successors target Chapel Hill all over again (Greensboro News & Record column) -- A critical observer once said North Carolina didn’t need to build a zoo. It could just fence in Chapel Hill.

Mayor pro tem Vi Lyles gets upset win in Charlotte mayor primary (AP analysis) -- The woman who is second in command to the mayor of North Carolina's largest city is now poised to replace her after capturing a primary victory on Tuesday. Charlotte Mayor Pro Tempore Vi Lyles defeated incumbent Mayor Jennifer Roberts in the Democratic primary, capturing 46 percent of the vote to 36 percent for Roberts. State Sen. Joel Ford was third with nearly 16 percent of the vote.

ANDREW DUNN: Charlotte will have a new mayor after stunning primary vote (Charlotte Agenda column) -- Charlotte will have a new mayor this fall after Vi Lyles defeated Mayor Jennifer Roberts in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. The stunning vote marked an unexpected repudiation of Roberts’ two years in office and who’d maintained a fundraising advantage in this year’s election. Now Lyles will face Republican Kenny Smith in November’s general election.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts’ record catches up to her (Charlotte Observer) -- Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts loses the primary to Vi Lyles. Her leadership on HB2 and Keith Scott took a toll.

MICHAEL HILTZIK: Memo to civic leaders - Don't sell out your cities for Amazon's new headquarters (LA Times column) -- Amazon’s announcement that it’s seeking a place to deposit a $5-billion, 50,000-employee complex as its second headquarters somewhere in North America has predictably set up a frenzy of civic preening.​

DREW C. WILSON: Hemp, new cash crop? (Wilson Times analysis) -- Tony Finch likes the idea of carrying his crop to market and getting paid on the spot. The fourth-generation Nash County farmer is one of about 100 farmers in North Carolina with permits.

NICK TIMIRAOS: Paulson, Bowles to Co-Chair New Economic Policy Group (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles will co-chair a new economic policy group at the Aspen Institute.

Tillis among 4 senators, nonprofit to unveil initiative for Appalachia (AP) -- Four U.S. senators and the nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center plan to unveil a detailed economic initiative for Appalachia to help reverse struggles with poverty and isolation in the region. The senators are Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia and Republicans David Perdue of Georgia and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Appalachia spans 13 states and has more than 25 million people.

HEALTH
BILL HAND: Cause, effect and solution: area leaders address opioid crisis (New Bern Sun Journal) -- The fire station’s bay was filled with spectators in plastic chairs, all facing a wooden stage on which sat several county officials who were prepared to tell the community what it was facing in the current opioid addiction crisis.

Help the children (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Domestic violence is a problem that continues to plague our area. Its victims include women and men. And children. For years, the Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina, based in Winston-Salem, has been concentrating on those youngest victims.

EDUCATION
School vouchers are not a reliable option (Carolina Commentary) -- Public education continues to be challenged by charter schools, budgetary constraints, salary and retention of teachers, resegregation of public schools, changing demographics of schools, public funding, poverty of students and public will for education.

LIZ BELL: Kenan Teacher Fellows program targets rural educators (EdNC column) -- At the beginning of August, more than 100 teachers from counties across eastern North Carolina gathered in Greenville to receive training on topics ranging from classroom management to teaching with technology. The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership, which provides internships within different industries to teachers, held their first regional symposium with a goal to target teachers they have not yet reached.

ADAM RHEW: Filling the gap: Teachers partner with nonprofits for professional development (EdNC column) -- Turnover, often driven by North Carolina’s teacher pipeline squeeze, exacerbates the challenges of providing high-quality professional development.

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