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Opinion Roundup: Facebook privacy scandal, human trafficking, teacher pay, Medicaid expansion and more

Posted April 11, 2018 9:06 a.m. EDT

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 -- A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: Facebook admits error with NC political bloggers, GOP senator wants bill protecting Bob Mueller, human trafficking, increasing teacher's pay, school psychologists in short supply, Gov. Cooper seeks 14.5M to address GenX and more.


TODD FRANKEL: Facebook stores its data in this rural N.C. town, where the privacy debate is just beginning to catch on (Washington Post reports) -- Residents in Forest City, N.C. — where Facebook’s computer servers outnumber the 7,400 residents — are both creeped out to discover how much of their personal data is available and resigned to an online world where the loss of privacy is taken for granted.

PAUL WOOLVERTON: Facebook admits error with NC’s Diamond and Silk political bloggers (Fayetteville Observer reports) -- The Facebook social networking site said it made a mistake in how it corresponded with North Carolina-based political bloggers Diamond and Silk. The company last week told them their Facebook page is “unsafe” for the community, the bloggers said. Diamond and Silk, who are Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and her sister, Rochelle “Silk” Richardson, promote President Trump and expound on public issues and politics. The women are from Hoke County, just west of Fayetteville. They have appeared on national television shows in the past several days to talk about their dispute with Facebook and said they are being censored for their views.

Ex-prosecutor Bell nominated as federal judge in N.C. (AP reports) -- The White House announced President Donald Trump's nomination of Charlotte attorney Ken Bell, a former federal prosecutor, to become a U.S. District Court judge in western N.C. Bell served nearly 20 years in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charlotte starting in the 1980s and now works for the McGuire Woods firm.

Investigators find multiple failures at NC prison after deadly escape attempt (Charlotte Observer reports) -- A new N.C. Department of Labor report found serious safety violations at the prison sewing plant where four employees were killed last October. Four inmates allegedly used hammers and scissors to kill the workers during a failed escape attempt.

JONATHAN DREW: Study says South should spend on schools, train homegrown talent (AP reports) -- As teachers in multiple states protest for better pay, a new study warns that the fast-growing South region must invest more in public schools and higher education to ensure its homegrown talent shares in its economic prosperity.

SARAH NEWELL: Felon Hege can run for sheriff, Davidson County Board of Elections rules (Winston-Salem Journal reports) -- In a room packed with supporters, former sheriff turned felon Gerald Hege was granted the right to continue his campaign for Davidson County sheriff. Hege, a former convicted felon, was granted the right in a 3-1 vote by the Davidson County Board of Elections following a challenge by Lexington resident Angela Anderson.

NICHOLAS FANDOS: Republicans Offer Tough Talk, but No Action, on Setting Safeguards for Mueller (New York Times reports) -- Leading congressional Republicans, confronting escalating tensions over the special counsel’s investigation, used some of the harshest language yet to warn President Trump against moving to undercut it. But they again stopped short of endorsing legislation to preemptively protect the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. “I do think it’s a bill that’s worthy of a markup in Judiciary and sending it to the floor,” said Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina and an author of the measure.

JORDAIN CARNEY: GOP senator wants committee vote on bill protecting Mueller (The Hill reports) -- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said he wants the Judiciary Committee to vote on his bill limiting President Trump's ability to fire Bob Mueller, but downplayed the idea that his push is a reaction to Trump's latest attack on the special counsel. "I think it's a good bill that has enduring value beyond this presidency," Tillis told reporters. "I do think it's a bill that's worthy of a markup in Judiciary and sending it to the floor."

BRAD JOHANSEN & HANNAH WEBSTER: Charleston shooting survivors share stories, message of peace at NC Museum of History (WRAL-TV reports) -- An honorary gathering was held at the North Carolina Museum of History to mark Crime Victims' Rights week, and among the guests were two survivors from the 2015 Charleston church massacre.

DUSTIN GEORGE: Attorney General talks human trafficking (Kinston Free Press reports) -- North Carolina’s principal legal officer paid a visit to Eastern N.C. to discuss a crime many don’t realize is happening across the state. Attorney General Josh Stein visited New Bern to participate in a symposium on human trafficking.

MATTHEW BURNS: Another $189M in Matthew recovery aid coming to NC (WRAL-TV reports) -- North Carolina will soon receive another $189 million in federal aid as part of the recovery effort from Hurricane Matthew.

Female justices of North Carolina Supreme Court honored (AP reports) -- The only seven North Carolina women who've received the title "justice" have been honored with a special ceremony as the 200th anniversary of the state Supreme Court approaches.

RUTH SHEEHAN: Stop jailing people who don't need to be in jail (Charlotte Observer column) -- Mecklenburg County uses an innovative approach to keep its jail population down.

This political process doesn't work (Greensboro News & Record) -- Court rulings allow Teresa O’Dell to require her employees to work for her campaign. That’s a flagrant abuse of rights.

LabCorp to add 400+ jobs at Durham County site (WRAL-TV/TechWire) -- Medical testing giant Laboratory Corporation of America plans to add more than 400 jobs to operations in the health-sciences hotbed about 30 miles from its international headquarters in Burlington. A state committee that oversees major tax breaks for job creation approved a deal that could mean $9 million in state and local incentives if the company hits hiring and other milestones.

TRAVIS FAIN: DMV accounts for nearly all cars questioned in seized vehicle audit (WRAL-TV reports) -- State investigators have located nearly all of the 234 vehicles unaccounted for last year in a state audit that raised questions about whether contractors were keeping the cars for themselves.

ROGER ALLISON: Reconciling your vote with the Bible (Wilson Times column) -- With the 2018 primaries and midterm elections approaching, I’d like to reflect on the importance of voting from a Biblical perspective. (Roger Allison of Durham is the Republican candidate for Congress in North Carolina’s 1st District.)

Rob Zapple: Why I voted for National Gypsum incentives (Wilmington Star-News column) -- An April 9 letter to the editor urged open discussion on National Gypsum’s plans to restart its idled Wilmington plant. As part of that discussion -- and as a New Hanover County commissioner -- I want to share why I voted for a financial incentives package for the Charlotte-based drywall manufacturer. First, it’s important to understand that the only issue before the commissioners was whether to offer financial incentives.

Williams must step down or be removed (Fayetteville Observer) -- It is time to go, Councilman Tyrone Williams. Time to resign from the Fayetteville City Council before you do any further damage to the city’s image and reputation. You’ve already caused more than enough harm. People are talking about Fayetteville again, and not in a good way.

EDUCATION
N.C. teachers deserve better (Winston-Salem Journal) -- North Carolina received some national press last week — not the kind we like — when our state was included in the report “The 9 states where teachers have it worst,” by CBS’s Moneywatch.

DEREK MEDLIN: NC State linked to latest federal charges filed in college hoops probe (WRAL-TV reports) -- N.C. State University was among four schools named when additional federal charges were filed against three people in the ongoing probe into college basketball. According to an indictment, James Gatto, Merl Code and Christian Dawkins helped facilitate payments to the families of six student-athletes to ensure those players would attend four schools – N.C. State University, the University of Louisville, the University of Miami and the University of Kansas. The indictment accuses Gatto, an executive for Adidas, of helping facilitate payments to the family of Dennis Smith Jr. to ensure the top prospect remained committed to the Wolfpack in 2015.

MARC TRACY & JOE DRAPE: Kansas and N.C. State Named in New Federal Charges (New York Times reports) -- Federal prosecutors handed down a new indictment Tuesday further detailing how an Adidas executive arranged to pay star basketball players to persuade them to attend universities sponsored by the apparel giant. The superseding indictment includes not only Louisville and Miami, which had already been implicated, but also North Carolina State and Kansas, one of college basketball’s most prominent teams.

ANDREW BEATON & RACHEL BACHMAN: Prosecutors Expand Corruption Investigation of NCAA Basketball (Wall Street Journal reports) -- The federal probe that rocked college basketball this season expanded its scope, as prosecutors named four Division I schools, including N.C. State University and league powerhouse Kansas, in a new indictment alleging corruption in the sport.

KELLY HINCHCLIFFE: NC one of 10 states to see declines in 4th-grade math; reading scores unchanged (WRAL-TV reports) -- North Carolina was one of 10 states in the nation that saw statistically significant declines in fourth-grade math scores from 2015 to 2017, according to data released Tuesday by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) -- also known as "The Nation's Report Card.”

MARY KATE MURPHY: Class Size Law Already Affecting Moore County Schools (Southern Pines Pilot reports) -- The state’s effort to lower public schools’ class sizes in kindergarten through third grade has come with fine print that may put Moore County Schools in the position of adding new classes with less than two months left in the school year. In 2015, the General Assembly voted to hold school districts to the average class sizes used in calculating how many teachers to fund for each district. But the ensuing protests from school officials — who used the leeway to staff art, music, PE and other classes for which the state does not separately fund — led the state to back off that plan and phase in smaller class sizes gradually, beginning with the current school year.

MARGARET SPELLINGS & JAMES ANDERSON: Universities that serve today’s students (Fayetteville Observer column) -- Ivy covered buildings, lecture halls filled with just-out-of-high-school students, and four years spent living on campus, listening to professors and writing papers. That’s the dominant image of college, and certainly how it’s talked about in movies, newspapers and on TV. But it isn’t a complete — or majority — picture of higher education today.

COLLEEN FLAHERTY: Questions About NCSU Job Candidate's Past (Inside Higher Ed reports) -- A group of anonymous professors at N.C. State University want to know why Terrell Strayhorn is a finalist for an education faculty position there even after he was fired from a center directorship at Ohio State University last year over financial misconduct.

LIZ SCHLEMMER: N.C. Is Short On School Psychologists (WUNC-FM) -- School psychologists want legislators to know that there aren't enough of them to go around. A subcommittee of the House Select Committee met Monday to consider improvements to school mental health services. One of the resounding recommendations from school pyschologists and counselors: they need more support.

JUSTIN PARMENTER: Students need trauma-informed care (EdNC column) -- Imagine a student, let’s call him Jonathan, sitting in algebra class. Jonathan is staying at his cousin’s house because his father was murdered last year and his mother’s income from Bojangles’ doesn’t cover rent. The lumpy couch and the uncertainty about what lies ahead make it impossible to sleep more than an hour at a stretch.

ELEANOR BLAIR: Those who can, teach… and work two jobs (EdNC column) -- Teachers moonlight. Many teachers moonlight on a continual basis throughout their careers. Others moonlight according to needs, both personal and financial. In the past, numbers have varied because of inconsistencies in what is defined as moonlighting. Is moonlighting the work that teachers do in the summer or does it also include additional work during the school year? Additionally, when teachers assume extra responsibilities during the school year and receive stipends, should that also be considered moonlighting?

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
U.S. Companies Found Ways to Avoid Taxes Before Tax Bill: Report (Reuters reports) -- Fifteen U.S. corporations including online power company Duke Energy Corp avoided U.S. tax on nearly $25 billion in combined profits last year, the tax watchdog group Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy said. Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy obtained a $247 million rebate on $4.2 billion in U.S. profits by using accelerated depreciation on capital investments and renewable energy production tax credits to lower its federal tax rate to a minus 5.9 percent, the report said. A spokesman for Duke Energy called the report "deeply flawed and misleading."

MATTHEW BURNS: Cooper seeking $14.5M in state budget to address GenX (WRAL-TV reports) -- Gov. Roy Cooper said he plans to include $14.5 million in his recommended budget to address health and safety threats posed by GenX and other emerging contaminants.

JAMES MORRISON: Hog Waste In NC Has Been A Relatively Untapped Fuel Source. Until Now. (WUNC-FM reports) -- North Carolina isn’t rich in coal, natural gas or oil deposits, but it has more hogs than nearly any other state. And for many years, people have been trying to figure out a way to turn hog waste into electricity.

Sam’s Field Notes: Sandhill Cranes (Coastal Review column) -- Our Sam Bland shares his adventures trying to catch a glimpse of a pair of sandhill cranes that made a stop in Beaufort during their fall migration to the wintering grounds in Florida.

HEALTH
Pieces are in place for Virginia's Medicaid expansion (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) -- State Sen. Frank Wagner, a Virginia Beach Republican, last week became the latest member of his party to express his openness to expanding Medicaid in Virginia to cover an estimated 400,000 people now without insurance.

RON A. VILLANUEVA: Medicaid expansion will help Va.’s economy (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot column) -- It is said that small business is the backbone of our economy. This nation is home to roughly 30 million small businesses, compared with 19,000 large businesses.

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