NORTH CAROLINA'S BRAND SHOULDN'T BE HOMAGE TO FALSE PAST: Headed east on Hillsborough Street toward the state Capitol, the view dominated by a 75-foot-tall monument – commemorating “Our Confederate dead … First at Bethel, Last at Appomattox.” It was dedicated May 20, 1895 and unveiled by Julia Jackson Christian, granddaughter of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. It is a relic to what should be a time gone by -- part of the Jim Crow-era propaganda campaign to cloud the realities of defeat in the Civil War. As significant, it was a daily reminder to the freed African-American population that they remained second-class with rights and privileges still subject to those white men wanted to grant. Is our first message to visitors; “Welcome to North Carolina. We were part of the Confederacy”?
THE NC GOP'S AMENDMENT PLAN: FOOL THE VOTERS: Jason Husser, poll director and associate professor of political science, said in a press release that, “North Carolina voters answering amendment ballot questions have the potential to make very important and extremely long-lasting changes to laws in the state. However, a large portion of those voters are either unaware of the proposed amendments or confused by what their vote will actually enact.” For Republican leaders, this lack of awareness and general confusion about the impact of the amendments isn’t a problem. It’s their intention. Their strategy for gaining voter approval of amendments that range from needless to dangerous relies on voters being kept in the dark. That’s why the most consequential amendments were written with vague and misleading language. And that’s why the legislature came back into special session to block a commission from adding clarifying captions about the amendments to the ballot. And that’s why a three-judge panel found the language of two amendment ballot questions so inaccurate that it ordered the legislature to rewrite them.
WHY WE NEED TO BUILD THE DURHAM-ORANGE LIGHT RAIL LINE: We live in a state that has made extraordinary investments in infrastructure over the past few decades. Even better, we live in a region that has reaped much of the reward from farsighted investments over that same period. It is for these reasons that the Durham-Orange light-rail transit project is an investment that should be built. That Research Triangle Park was created is a major, unalloyed benefit to our region. When voters in the early ‘80s approved financing for the 10,000-foot second runway and new terminal at RDU International Airport, it made all the difference as research and finance companies have flocked to our area – bringing jobs for young people whose parents are grateful to have those opportunities close at hand. In recent decades we’ve prevailed in the competition to become a top place to live, work and play. But it’s not the time to congratulate ourselves. We must do more than try to handle traffic – we have to provide mobility options to remain as competitive as we have been for the quality of life we all want to have.
SEA-LEVEL RISE IS HERE. NORTH CAROLINA NEEDS TO ACT: So how is North Carolina faring in terms of our response to sea level rise? Not very well. Some communities are discussing the topic but real action remains. On a state level, even less is being done to prepare for the coming rise. Instead coastal development flourishes as more beachfront buildings, highways and bridges are built to ease access to our beautiful beaches. The time has come to recognize that we cannot hold the shoreline still as the level of the sea rises. We should: ▪ Prohibit beachfront development by increasing setback lines. ▪ Raise buildings. ▪ Demolish or move back threatened buildings. ▪ Don’t allow rebuilding of storm-destroyed buildings. ▪ Plan, prepare for and begin an organized retreat from the rising sea. We must take the long view and respond now to the rising sea in a planned fashion. Currently the unspoken plan is to wait until the situation is catastrophic and then respond. We must begin the retreat now.
NATION DESERVES EXAMINATION OF KAVANAUGH, NOT PUFFERY OR PARTISAN JOUSTING: Kavanaugh’s dodge on the Federalist Paper’s question is reflective, unfortunately, of the irrelevance of these hearings that should be providing the Senate and the American people, with the kind of information they need to know to understand both the nominee’s qualifications for the life-time appointment and his views on the administration of justice – particularly concerning critical issues before the nation today. In fact, Kavanaugh’s views on the powers of the presidency, are of utmost importance. Revelations of the last few days coming from Bob Woodward’s new book and a startling column in The New York Times expose an unhinged, impulsive chief executive and senior staffers dashing about seemingly in a panic to protect President Donald Trump from himself along with protecting the nation and the world from Trump’s selfish irrationality. The nation deserves a true examination of the nominee that reveals his judicial temperament and approach to the law.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
GAYLE SHAEFER: GOP'S MOVE TO MAKE JUDICIAL RACES PARTISAN BACKFIRED OF THEM: Regarding the letter to the editor “Not ‘Right’” about Chris Anglin’s party affiliation, I feel the need to point out that the Republican legislature recently passed laws making judicial elections partisan. Prior to their doing this, these elections had been non-partisan for years (as, in my opinion, they should be). When Anglin filed to run as a Republican, the legislators quickly tried to block his use of the Republican designation on the ballot. The court found that Anglin’s party affiliation will show, as the law allows. The legislature also rearranged the order in which candidates’ names will appear on the ballot, so that the Democratic candidate’s name will move from first to last in the N.C. Supreme Court category. Too bad that the current legislatures’ shenanigans might have backfired on them in this case. Let’s hope that their blatant attempts to usurp power from the executive branch through their proposed constitutional amendments are a dismal failure.
GEORGE SWEAZY: TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS "STEALING" OUR CLEAN AIR: Every religion teaches some version of “thou shalt not steal.” But in the area of environmental protection we are stealing clean air, clean water and a livable planet from our children and grandchildren. National Geographic keeps “A Running List of How Trump is Changing the Environment,” and it’s currently 60-plus items. Some are specific, such as weakening the air pollution rules for coal-fired power plants. And some are more general and far-reaching, such as slashing Department of Energy funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency by 72 percent. Many of these actions are done in the name of economic development, and that’s important, but it needs to be “sustainable development.” That’s “development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs.” And if we don’t do sustainable development, we are stealing from our children and grandchildren. If you think I’m wrong, have the courage of your convictions and check me out. Ask someone under 30 if our planet will be better or worse in 10 years. And if they say “worse,” either tell them why they’re wrong or tell them what you think we should do about that.
LOUISE LOCKWOOD ZOROWSKI: LACK OF ACTION ON SILENT SAM IS THE PROBLEM: The intransigence of the power structure to moving the statue of a Confederate soldier known as Silent Sam dumbfounds me. Since 1965, students, professors and others have written letters, met with officials at the university and staged demonstrations asking that this statue be removed. In February 2012, a coalition of students, professors and residents offered a compromise: Keep the statue in place, add a plaque about its history and erect another statue to honor a prominent African-American. Response: No action. In 2015, cities talked about taking down Confederate statues following the massacre in Charleston. Response: North Carolina passed a law making it difficult to relocate Confederate statues. In September 2017, students met with Chancellor Carol Folt to talk about moving the statue. Response: Folt says the 2015 state law ties her hands. Protests continue. Response: UNC spends $390,000 to protect the statue. In August 2018, Silent Sam is pulled off his pedestal. Response: Call for prosecution of those who took the action, ask for an investigation into the police response. It is time to end the racial discord engendered by Silent Sam and relocate him.