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Opinion Roundup: The value of UNC's Center for Civil Rights

Posted September 5
Updated September 6

UNC Law School Civil Rights Center & UNC Board of Governors

Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis on the needs met by the UNC Center for Civil Rights' work, the effects a DACA repeal would have on thousands of North Carolinians, a look at the state of the principals running our schools and more.

POLITICS & POLICY
RAY OWENS: Civil Rights Center mission central to UNC's best traditions (Capitol Broadcasting column) -- It is certainly reasonable to review the work of the UNC Law School's Center for Civil Rights to assure it is in accord with N.C. State Bar requirements. However, it would be unwise to cease work that meets such a pressing need and provides important and positive contributions for all North Carolinians.

CANDACE SWEAT: DACA repeal could impact thousands living in N.C. (WRAL-TV analysis) -- President Donald Trump is expected to announce an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but will delay the implementation by six months. The end of the program would impact thousands of students and workers in North Carolina.

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG: Shaken by Harvey, Congress May Try Something New: Bipartisanship (New York Times analysis) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday” that he and President Donald Trump want the hurricane aid tied to a measure increasing the debt limit. That contradicts a demand by Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, the leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who warned in an interview with The Washington Post last week that leaders should not try to attach the aid package to the debt limit increase.

JEFF JACKSON: Behold smackdown of gerrymandering that are your 4,300 public comments (Charlotte Agenda column) -- A federal court told the North Carolina General Assembly that we violated the Constitution by illegally using race the last time we drew our legislative districts in 2011 (i.e., we committed racial gerrymandering) and ordered us to redraw the districts. As part of that effort, the redistricting committee solicited public comment through its website. Over 4,300 of you gave us your thoughts. Here are a few take-aways.

NICHOLAS STEPHANOPOULOS: Flickers of the Future? (Election Law Blog analysis) -- The proposed test for partisan gerrymandering claims in Gill v. Whitford includes a discriminatory effect prong. Under the test, a district plan can be struck down only if its discriminatory effect is both large and durable. One argument against such a prong is that states cannot tell in advance—before an election—whether their maps will violate it. The Wisconsin State Legislature, for example, complains about “the indeterminacy of the district court’s partisan-effects test,” adding that “the outcome of [the test] will be uncertain enough that no claim will be too speculative to file.” Recent developments in North Carolina show how wrong this argument is.

BOB PHILLIPS: Legislators again reject chance to create fair maps (Winston-Salem Journal) -- Last month, North Carolina legislators had a golden opportunity to adopt fair, nonpartisan standards for drawing new legislative voting districts. Instead, they opted for politics as usual, keeping partisanship at the core of a deeply flawed redistricting process.

The new districts still badly flawed (Greensboro News & Record) -- When Republican state legislators once again are called to account for their gerrymandered districts, their best defense will be, “We’ve gotten away with it before.”

SUSAN LADD: North Carolinians have waited long enough for fair districts (Greensboro News & Record column) -- The General Assembly proved once again that it will never willingly stop gerrymandering.

MATTHEW BURNS: Supreme Court wants to know why judges dismissed Cooper's lawsuit (WRAL-TV analysis) -- The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday asked a three-judge panel for more insight into why it dismissed Gov. Roy Cooper's challenge to lawmakers' efforts to overhaul the state elections board.

NICOLE PERLROTH, MICHAEL WINES and MATTHEW ROSENBERG: Software Glitch or Russian Hackers? Election Problems Draw Little Scrutiny (New York Times analysis) -- The calls started flooding in from hundreds of irate North Carolina voters just after 7 a.m. on Election Day last November. Dozens were told they were ineligible to vote and were turned away at the polls, even when they displayed current registration cards. Others were sent from one polling place to another, only to be rejected. Scores of voters were incorrectly told they had cast ballots days earlier. In one precinct, voting halted for two hours. The problems involved electronic poll books — tablets and laptops, loaded with check-in software, that have increasingly replaced the thick binders of paper used to verify voters’ identities and registration status.

In Election Interference, It’s What Reporters Didn’t Find That Matters (New York Times column) -- We zeroed in on Durham, N.C. — a reliably blue county in a swing state that went for Donald J. Trump — where a breakdown in the electronic check-in software prevented hundreds of would-be voters from casting their ballots and hundreds more to simply give up in the face of long lines. Officials there relied on check-in software sold by VR Systems. Nobody in Durham — or any other county that relied on VR Systems’s electronic poll books — was ever informed that their equipment had been compromised by Russian hackers. And yet Durham County officials rebuffed several offers to examine their systems at no cost — from the D.H.S., the F.B.I. and even Free & Fair, a group of qualified forensics investigators, many with security clearances.

Former council member: Elections really are fixed (Charlotte Observer) -- Former Charlotte City Council member says, yes, elections are really fixed. And that’s just one thing that’s broken.

Guns seized from students at school in Sen Phil Berger’s Rockingham County (WGHP-TV) -- Two students from a school in Rockingham County face disciplinary action after authorities seized two guns from their bookbags. The guns were seized from two boys at New Vision School of Math and Science in Madison, according to Jane P. Frazier, the school’s principal.

Do police really need tanks and grenades? (Greensboro News & Record) -- It’s perfectly reasonable to want our police to be adequately armed and equipped.

State of Working in N.C. 2017 (N.C. Justice Center Report) -- Compared to their parents and grandparents, North Carolina Millennials face a dramatically different landscape for finding a job, building a career, and benefiting from workplace protections. Unlike their predecessors who came of age when the nation’s policy environment and norms of corporate governance promoted relatively broadly shared prosperity, Millennials have entered the workforce at the tail end of a long-term retreat from the institutions that once provided millions of workers with access to good jobs, relative economic stability, opportunities for upward career mobility, and a strong legal framework for protections on the job.

EMERY DALESIO: Your dance studio's biggest problem? Needing foreign workers (AP analysis) -- A complex business case mixed in with a pinch of foreign double-cross has North Carolina's highest court resolving a dispute over talented employees in sequins and skin-tight gowns.

STEPHANIE CARSON: International Effort Gains Momentum to Protect NC Tobacco Workers (Public News Service column) -- A global organization is calling for additional protections for tobacco farm workers in North Carolina and the rest of the world. The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations, or IUF, passed a resolution in Geneva, Switzerland, to guarantee farmworkers the right to work together to negotiate the conditions of their labor without fear of retaliation. Catherine Crowe is with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the farmworker union representing workers in North Carolina.

How deadly N.C. chicken processing plant fire reveals decline in worker protections (Washington Post book review) -- On Sept. 3, 1991, fire swept through the Imperial Food Products chicken-processing plant in the town of Hamlet, N.C. Workers scrambled to save themselves. But an exit was blocked to keep flies out of the plant. Sprinklers failed. The flames spread on the hydraulic fluid spraying from a loosened hose connected to the fryer and lapped up the chicken grease all over the plant floor. Twenty-five people died, most of them women, minimum-wage line workers. The Hamlet fire was one of the worst industrial accidents in recent U.S. history. Years later, Temple University historian Bryant Simon went to the town, suspecting that behind the fire was a larger story.

KIMBERLY KINDY, SARI HORWITZ & DEVLIN BARRETT: Federal government has long ignored white supremacist threats, critics say (Washington Post analysis) -- Analysts who follow far-right groups say neglect by multiple presidential administrations has allowed them to proliferate and strengthen. In the years after 9/11, most of the focus on combating terrorism has centered on Islamist extremists, not on neo-Nazis and the far right.

Silencing Spencer with heckler’s veto sets bad precedent (Wilson Times) -- By denying them a place to speak, some American colleges are playing right into white nationalists’ hands. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill became the latest school to unwisely make a First Amendment martyr out of a racist blowhard last week.

Nazis murdered my family. Yes, symbols matter. (Charlotte Observer column) -- In Charlottesville, swastikas and other antisemitic symbols are painful reminders of personal pain for Jews.

JOHN RAILEY: Confronting ‘zombie mindsets’ and a Charlottesville martyr (Winston-Salem Journal column) -- Bill Leonard, a founding professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, inadvertently anticipated the domestic terrorism that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer at the Aug. 12 Klan/Nazi rally in Charlottesville.

ALLEN JOHNSON: As two women wait in city churches, Arpaio gets mercy (Greensboro News & Record column) -- An undocumented immigrant mother and her two young sons are still biding their time and hoping against hope that the Trump administration will soften its heart and let them be.

MARK BARRETT: Trump son-in-law Kushner attends local Meadows fundraiser (Asheville Citizen-Times) -- Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Donald Trump, was a surprise guest at a Thursday fundraiser for the Rep. Mark Meadows campaign outside Asheville. The event was held at the home of Mike Summey in the Erwin Hills neighborhood near Erwin High School. Summey is a local real estate investor and author on financial topics. Kushner, married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, is a key adviser to Trump. His responsibilities include working to improve relations between Israel and Palestine.

CELIA RIVENBARK: Score one for Tammy Duckworth (Wilmington Star-News) -- You don’t have to be a liberal to appreciate Senator Tammy Duckworth’s swift and devastating takedown of Donald Trump’s latest proposal to ban transgender troops from serving in the military. You just have to be a human being.

EDUCATION
ALEX GRANADOS: State of principals in North Carolina (EdNC analysis) -- Principals in North Carolina were 50th out of all the states and Washington, D.C., for principal pay. The state is training high-quality principals slower than the demand for them. But the state appears to have taken steps in the last few sessions of the General Assembly to address these concerns. It started with a program to transform principal preparation and continued with a pay bump and revamped principal salary schedule.

ALICE MANILOFF: Five characteristics of successful principals (EdNC column) -- The job of the principalship is known to all: “Get school ready to open in the fall.” To do this well requires many talents, particularly these five: stamina; being a generalist not a specialist; courage; a support system; and the realization that schools are political organizations.

Lottery fund use is cheating our children (Fayetteville Observer) -- If we want to know why North Carolina schools haven’t improved anywhere near as much as we need them to, we can get a pretty good insight from former state Sen. Tony Rand. It’s about our North Carolina Education Lottery and how present-day lawmakers have done exactly what many people feared they’d do with its proceeds.

School system raises (Winston-Salem Journal) -- They deserve it. It’s definitely progress that every employee in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools will receive a pay increase this year.

SAMANTHA PAILSEY: Carrboro principal believes in value of bilingual education (EdNC column) -- Nestled in Carrboro, Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Bilingüe Elementary School splits its school day between lessons taught in English and Spanish. The student body is also equally composed of native English and Spanish speakers. The goal is instilling students with the capacity to work in cross-cultural groups — a skill Principal Emily Bivins said is critical for the 21st century.

JONATHAN ZIMMERMAN: Don’t tape our teachers (Charlotte Observer column) -- In North Carolina and elsewhere, teachers are being denied their professional discretion by taping that should be disallowed.

JEFF HAMPTON: Elizabeth City State University enrollment up for first time in 7 years (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot analysis) -- One of the new chancellor's first priorities was urging university staff behind the scenes and in public speeches to be welcoming and user-friendly.

HEALTH
AUDREY CARLSEN and HAEYOUN PARK: Agency That Runs Obamacare Is Using Taxpayer Money to Undermine It (New York Times analysis) -- Three ways the Department of Health and Human Services has campaigned against the current health law.

THOMAS GOLDSMITH: Local Municipalities Feel Effects of Mental Health Cuts (N.C. Health News analysis) -- Wake County commissioners heard about how cuts to mental health funding at the legislature will have effects in the Triangle.

JEFF HAMPTON: Dangerous synthetic marijuana causing overdoses at Tyrrell County prison (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot analysis) -- Investigators since June have charged 16 inmates in a Tyrrell County prison with possessing synthetic marijuana. At least six prisoners have suffered life-threatening reactions after taking the drug. Tyrrell County sent its entire fleet of three ambulances on the same day last month to save the lives of inmates smoking the drug known as “K2,” Sheriff Darryl Liverman said. Sometimes the drug is simply tossed over an unguarded section of the facility’s fence. “It’s become a real problem,” Liverman said.

The Doctor is In… The House of Representatives (N.C. Health News column) -- Dr. Greg Murphy somehow manages to maintain an active surgical practice in Greenville, while serving in the North Carolina General Assembly.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
DAVID McGOWAN: Cooper’s Missed Opportunity (Coastal Review column) -- David McGowan, director of the N.C. Petroleum Council, says Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision to oppose seismic research and offshore drilling was a missed opportunity to play a constructive role in the debate.

JOHN DOWNEY: Inside the Carolinas nuclear fallout (Charlotte Business Journal analysis) -- A surge in nuclear plant development was going to be the bedrock of Charlotte's quickly growing and innovating hub of energy industry companies. The growth had already faded. But events of the past month have left the nuclear renaissance sputtering to an ill-fated conclusion.

A better use for coal ash; watch out for water scams (Fayetteville Observer) -- For Duke Energy’s change of plans for the coal ash it’s excavating from its Weatherspoon plant site in Lumberton. The utility had originally planned to move the ash to another, more secure storage site, a strategy that still carried long-term risk for the environment. But this week, Duke announced that it is sending the ash to a South Carolina facility that will incorporate the ash in cement products that will be used in various construction projects, including buildings and bridges.

VALERIE BAUERLEIN: As Houston Begins Cleanup, Residents Face Up to Losses (Wall Street Journal column) -- Across the city, residents came out to assess the damage Hurricane Harvey wrought on homes, churches and businesses and started the difficult task of clearing out furnishings, carpeting and keepsakes ruined by the rainfall.

TIM WHITE: From the wonderful folks who brought you solar eggbeaters (Fayetteville Observer column) -- They’re not serious. Not even a little bit. The majority of lawmakers in the N.C. General Assembly doesn’t give a hoot that parts of the Cape Fear River are polluted by possible cancer-causing chemicals. In response to the governor’s request for $2.6 million to monitor and study the effects of the chemical called GenX in the lower Cape Fear River, the General Assembly tossed $435,000 in hush money at worried lawmakers from that region.

AND MORE
ELISHA FREEMAN: Standing in the gap for children (Hendersonville Times-News column) -- If you’ve been looking for just the right volunteer job to help a child, this could be it! A guardian ad litem (GAL) is a trained volunteer who represents abused and neglected children throughout the court process. A GAL works alongside a guardian ad litem attorney to investigate and determine the needs of the children they represent.

Michael Cromartie, Who Guided Journalists on Religion, Dies at 67 (New York Times obit) – A Charlotte native and former conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, he became an influential evangelical thinker in Washington.

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