Opinion Roundup: Cooper wins in court, gas pipeline gets an OK, schools chief says $35 grand pay 'good money,' tariffs darken solar biz

Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 -- A roundup of opinion, commentary and analysis: In courts Cooper wins, gas pipeline gets an OK, N.C. schools chief says $35 grand is 'good money,' tariffs darken solar industry and more.

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Gov. Roy Cooper
MATTHEW BURNS: Supreme Court sides with Cooper in fight over NC elections board (WRAL-TV analysis) – The state Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the General Assembly overstepped its authority last year when it overhauled the state elections board.
EMERY DALESIO: Court rules lawmakers illegally grabbed NC governor's powers on elections (AP news analysis) -- North Carolina's highest court stepped in to limit the Republican-dominated legislature's efforts to minimize Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's ability to pursue his goals, declaring 4-3 unconstitutional a law devising a state elections board that hinted at deadlock.
GARY ROBERTSON: Judges refuse to delay North Carolina legislative districts (AP news analysis) -- A three-judge panel refused North Carolina Republican lawmakers' request to block the use of new legislative district maps the judges approved for this year's elections.
BOB PHILLIPS: This could be the year of reckoning for gerrymandering (Winston-Salem Journal column) -– For almost as long as our nation has existed, gerrymandering has plagued our democracy.
TRAVIS FAIN: DOJ ignores request in Farr's nomination to federal bench (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Documents could shed light on accusation that nominee to the U.S. District Court perjured himself.
Tolls group locks out that pesky public (Charlotte Observer) -- An I-77 tolls committee ignores open meetings law while SC Gov. Henry McMaster calls for more transparency in his state.
GARY ROBERTSON: Likely gubernatorial candidate Forest touts fundraising (AP news analysis) -- The latest fundraising numbers released by likely 2020 North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Dan Forest could make fellow Republicans think twice before getting into the race with him.
RICK SMITH: Wall Street Journal analysis belittles Triangle’s chances to land Amazon HQ2 (WRAL-TV/TechWire column) The Triangle is not being given much of a chance to win the bidding for Amazon’s $5 billion HQ2 project. In an evaluation based on data across six categories, from “culture fit” to cost of living and technology workforce, The Wall Street Journal ranks Raleigh in the third of five tiers for 19 of the 20 finalists recently announced by Amazon. (Toronto is not included.) Dallas ranks as No. 1.
Behind the Wheel: N.C. may still be the ‘good roads’ state (Fayetteville Observer/WalletHub column) -- Some public officials used to call North Carolina the “good roads” state because of its history in building and maintaining roads, an effort that carries back to an association formed for that purpose in 1902. Apparently, we Tar Heels have retained a little bit of that old glory.
WILLIAM BARBER & JONATHAN WILSON-HARTGROVE: The unveiling of Christian Nationalism (Durham Herald-Sun column) -- As black and white preachers in America, we see our oldest Christian church’s refusal of fellowship to Vice President Mike Pence as a prophetic witness to the spiritual crisis we now face.
GAVIN OFF & AMES ALEXANDER: Stab-resistant shirts, body alarms. Prisons gear up to defend against inmate attacks (Charlotte Observer analysis) -- NC prison leaders announced changes to make prisons safer, saying they will spend millions on protective equipment and devices to detect smuggled cellphones.
KELLY HINCHCLIFE: NC superintendent defends ’$35,000 is good money’ teacher pay comments amid criticism (WRAL-TV analysis) -- North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson defended comments he made about teacher pay after local school board members and others criticized his remarks during a conference.
T. KEUNG HUI: NC’s top education leader says $35,000 is ‘good money’ for some new teachers (Durham Herald-Sun analysis) -- NC Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson’s comments that $35,000 is “good money” for many young teachers is not sitting well with school board members.
LAURA LESLIE: Lawmakers nearing agreement on class size fix (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Lawmakers are in serious negotiations to work out a deal on a class size mandate that school districts say they cannot afford to carry out.
UNC Wilmington chancellor to undergo heart bypass surgery (AP news analysis) -- The chancellor at a school in the UNC system school says he will be undergoing heart bypass surgery.
LISA PHILIP: Chair Of UNC's Board Of Governors Defends Op-Ed (WUNC-FM analysis) -- Tensions on the UNC Board of Governors remain high, a month after the board's chairman wrote an op-ed calling for the board to be united. In the December op-ed, Chairman Louis Bissette called on the board to unite while allowing UNC system leaders to 'do their job.'
Renaming school for Frederick Douglass honors our history (Wilson Times) -- Frederick Douglass High School occupies a prominent place in Wilson County history. Passing the Douglass name along to the elementary school that replaced it will preserve that history.
VALERIE STRAUSS: Teachers: How student ‘dreamers’ enrich our N.C. high school (Washington Post column) -- "Eliminating DACA would mark a symbolic shift in policy but create real consequences in schools across the country and compromise the promises of equity, opportunity and diversity that define our public schools.”
MATTHEW BURNS: NC regulators grant key permit for natural gas pipeline (WRAL-TV analysis) -- State regulators on Friday gave the go-ahead for a $5 billion natural gas pipeline to be built in eight North Carolina counties.
EMERY DALESIO: NC approves gas pipeline permit; allots $58M for fixes (AP news analysis) -- A pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas from West Virginia into the Southeast cleared another regulatory hurdle Friday when North Carolina's environmental agency issued a water quality certification.
Dominion's Atlantic Coast natgas pipe gets N.C. water permit (Reuters news analysis) -- North Carolina environmental regulators issued a water permit on Friday for Dominion Energy Inc’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to North Carolina.
WILL MICHAELS: NC Regulators Approve Major Permit For Atlantic Coast Pipeline (WUNC-FM analysis) -- The state Department of Environmental Quality has issued a major permit two energy companies need to build the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline receives key approval in N.C. (Fayetteville Observer analysis) -- A $5 billion natural gas pipeline expected to run through three counties in the Cape Fear region won approval of a major permit from a state agency. The state Department of Environmental Quality granted Atlantic Coast Pipeline LLC water quality certification, which is required for projects that impact wetlands, buffers or waterways.
Tariffs will harm solar installations (Greensboro News & Record) -- It took just two days for South Korea’s LG Electronics to announce price hikes for most of the washing machines it exports to the United States.
Solar panel tariffs a step backward (Wilmington Star-News) -- President Trump’s decision to slap a massive tariff on solar panel parts will not doom the solar power industry in the United States, but it’s a bad idea. Consumers will pay more and some workers will lose their jobs. The overall trend toward solar, however, will not likely be stalled in the long run. The administration approved tariffs as high as 30 percent on panel imports, gradually shrinking to 15 percent over the next four years.
TAFT WIREBACK: Analysts say Duke's tax windfall should cut rate hike (Greensboro News & Record) -- Utility analysts say that Uncle Sam’s new tax law means Duke Energy Carolinas will reap between $171 million and $210.5 million in added revenue each year and that should result in a smaller rate increase for its customers.
JOHN DOWNEY: Rate hike opponents attack Duke Energy’s proposed $13B grid-improvement plan (Charlotte Business Journal column) -- Critics say the “grid modernization” program included in Duke Energy Carolinas’ proposed rate hike involves more routine maintenance than true upgrades.
NC Senators call for federal audit of DEQ (Wilmington Star-News analysis) -- Sens. Michael Lee, Bill Rabon among those calling for EPA to review state’s regulatory capabilities
Questions raised about UNCW’s GenX tests (Wilmington Star-News analysis) -- Levels of toxic chemical reported don’t jibe with other data
NC’s small farms face host of challenges scale (Wilmington Star-News analysis) -- They range from limited financial options to economies of
Of course drilling’s bad for Fla. -- and it’s bad for N.C., too (Wilmington Star-News) -- Why should it be open season on North Carolina’s coast for oil and gas drilling, while Florida is off-limits? Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to open most of the continental shelf to exploration, including seismic testing. The big exception, it seems, is Florida. (One lower-level official later said the Sunshine State might be “back on the table,” but in the Trump Administration, nothing is certain until the Big Guy Tweets.)
JON HAWLEY: Navy study of wind farm effect ongoing (Elizabeth City Daily Advance analysis) -- About a year ago, state lawmakers called for shutting down the Amazon Wind Farm US East over concerns it would cause too much interference with a vital, U.S. Navy long-range radar receiver in Chesapeake.
Duke Energy coal ash lawsuit dismissed after agreement reached with families (Charlotte Observer analysis) -- A class-action lawsuit involving Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds has been dismissed after an agreement was reached with families involved.
ADAM OWENS: Chapel Hill family, community remembers beloved educator who died from flu (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Ginny Thompson's story brings focus to how seriously dangerous the flu can be.
Audit: North Carolina health care system overbilled Medicare (AP news analysis) -- A federal audit has revealed that a North Carolina-based health care system overbilled Medicare by an estimated $1.7 million for patients treated at two hospitals.

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