LEGISLATORS' PLOTTING TO SOW DYSFUNCTION IN GOVERNMENT MUST END: Purposefully creating dysfunctional local boards of elections by making them four member boards (two Republicans and two Democrats). In Wake County, Republicans seeking to depress the vote of young people, oppose a voting site on the N.C. State University campus – where there are always very high turnouts. The local board split 2-2. Now the battle goes to the state board – and perhaps even to the courts. Similar dysfunction has infected election boards in Orange, Guilford and Forsyth counties.Shouldn’t legislators be working toward building systems that can develop consensus, resolve differences and make decisions? Shouldn’t board of elections be working on ways to make it as easy as possible to get the most citizens to vote? Apparently not in North Carolina.
SHRINKING PUBLIC SCHOOLS REFLECT THE STATE'S NEGLECT: What’s happening in North Carolina is that a concerted effort by the Republican-controlled General Assembly is starving public schools of resources and encouraging the expansion of educational options that lack standards and oversight. Traditional public schools are the most effective way to create an educated public. Diminishing them shortchanges the 80.8 percent of North Carolina schoolchildren who attend traditional public schools and it undermines the goal of broadly educating the public to support a strong economy and an effective democracy. There’s nothing wrong with school choice itself. Parents have chosen to send their children to private schools and religious schools since schools have existed. But it is wrong to encourage the expansion of school choice by making traditional public schools less effective and less attractive.
HOLD TRUMP ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS SERIAL DISHONESTY: The world has become numbed by President Donald Trump’s casual relationship with the truth. Just as troubling as is Trump’s serial lying is the failure of those we elect to hold him accountable. How distant is Donald Trump’s relationship with the truth? The president of the United States has offered up false or misleading claims an average of 6.5 times daily since entering office, according to The Fact Checker. During a single speech on July 5 in Montana, 76 percent of the 98 “factual” statements from the president were false, misleading or lacked any supporting evidence. Of 578 Trump statements that PolitiFact has checked, 486 –84 percent – have been rated half true, mostly false, false or “pants on fire.” He has been anointed the “King of Whoppers” by Factcheck.org. Donald Trump’s torrents of untruthfulness haven’t been a campaign convenience or passing blip. It is unrelenting. He – and his enablers – are unaccountable and unapologetic. He is demeaning the office of President of the United States.
HOG INDUSTRY DOESN'T WANT NUISANCE SUITS? TRY NOT BEING A NUISANCE: A prime example of phony victimization could be found Tuesday at a rally in Duplin County. That’s where backers of the hog industry turned out small farmers and residents to protest nuisance lawsuits against industrial hog farms. Gathering folks in jeans with signs reading “I’m a fan of NC family farms” is part of an effort by Republican lawmakers and officials to cast the nuisance suits as an attack on small farmers. But the lawsuits aren’t aimed at family farmers growing soybeans, corn and sweet potatoes. They’re aimed at a Chinese-owned multinational corporation, Smithfield Foods, which is content to treat swaths of eastern North Carolina as cesspools until it’s forced to do otherwise. The neighbors, often African-American and lower income, have had to cope with reeking hog waste ponds, increased flies, vermin and sprayed liquid waste that sometimes splatters the sides of their homes.
MANGRUM CASE WAS A LONG ROAD TO THE RIGHT DECISION: Board Chairman Andy Penry’s motion to overturn the county ruling carried primarily because a majority of the members said they didn’t think the earlier board had evidence to substantiate its ruling. Nay voters seemed to focus on the fact that Mangrum had not “abandoned” her prior home, as cited by law. Frankly, comments after the hearing in May had raised significant questions about why all of this had to continue anyway. The evidence against Mangrum was circumspect, and at least one board member cited the possibility that Mangrum might reunite with her husband as a deciding factor. Is that important? Mangrum may appear the winner here, but the real winners are the voters of District 30. They have the opportunity now to assess the issues and the viewpoints from a full slate of candidates. There will be opportunities for debates, too, and those would well serve constituents. There has been too much delay already because of the one debate we didn’t need: This politically driven argument played out before the elections boards.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
KIMBERLY ISRAEL: VOTER ID IS A SOLUTION TO A NONEXISTENT PROBLEM: The voter ID amendment that will be on the ballot in November includes no information about what kind of ID will be accepted. If it passes, the details will be decided by the legislature. Expecting people to vote on an amendment with no knowledge of how it would be implemented is characteristic of a party that finds it acceptable to write a budget in secret and refuse to make changes in light of discussion. We don’t need government transparency, however, to predict the likely results of this amendment. At best, it will be challenged and the state will spend our tax money defending it in court instead of improving our schools or providing health care to the poor. No one has ever been charged with in-person voter fraud in North Carolina, but proposing a law to solve a nonexistent problem is nothing new for N.C. Republicans, as we saw with HB2 in 2016. At worst, a voter ID amendment will disenfranchise many. Politicians who work for the common good have nothing to fear from high voter participation. What does that say about those seeking this amendment?
MAUREEN PARKER: PATRIOTISM DOESN'T MEAN BLIND LOYALTY: I have been thinking lately about patriotism. I was born in the United States, as were my parents, grandparents and most of my great-grandparents. In other words, I am about as “American” as you can get. I am proud to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world. But I don’t come close to thinking that everything our country does is right. Patriotism should not and does not require unquestioning approval of everything our country does. Sometimes we are right, but sometimes we are wrong. And when we are wrong, we should admit it. We must object whenever the ideals that made us who we are are twisted and distorted. The saying, “My country, right or wrong,” is true. I am an American, no matter what. But I want to be proud of what my country stands for, and it’s not our wealth, or our power, or our military strength. It’s our goodness.
JOE LYONS: HOW TO LOSE A DEMOCRACY: First, you need a demagogue with strong plutocratic connections and a lust for power. Then, you need a severely divided electorate with a low voting percentage and an abysmal knowledge of how democratic governments actually work. This demagogue would ideally be a pathological liar and willing to use the levers of government to subvert any democratic initiative that weakens his authority. A free press would be especially abhorrent to him, and he would do almost anything to discredit its power and influence. He would also be required to have a voter base in place that embraces his autocratic ideas and state legislators who redraw (gerrymander) district voting maps and enact legislation that chips away at minority voting rights. This demagogue must know how to use inflammatory propaganda to incite fear among the electorate, making them more amenable to accept discriminatory laws that reflect their mindless fear. In addition, our demagogue must use artificial enemies that he can blame for any social, economic or moral dysfunction which he self-creates. For pagan Rome, it was the Christians; for Hitler, it was the Jews; and for Donald Trump it is the Muslims and Hispanics who seek amnesty from oppression. Our battered country, I believe, is halfway there.