LEGISLATORS SHOULD TAP HUGE RAINY DAY FUND TO SPEED HURRICANE FLO RECOVERY: The truth is that North Carolina has the resources to meet the immediate recovery needs – and address broader policies and needs including effective alternatives to massive hog and poultry waste lagoons that have overflowed in the storm dumping millions of gallons of raw manure into streams and rivers. Legislators boast that the state’s rainy day fund has more than $2 billion dollars in it – along with another $650 million in unspent money from the 2017-18 budget. There is no better time to tap some of those funds than now. Hurricane Flo was a rainy day if there ever was one. Be sure, voters will be watching to see if the legislature chooses to play partisan political games or works diligently with the governor to address the dire needs of suffering citizens. The special session comes almost exactly a month before Election Day 2018. See you at the polls.
WE CAN REDUCE ILLNESS AND DEATH IN NORTH CAROLINA. OUR AIR AND WATER MUST BE CLEANER: Two papers from physicians in the Duke University Medical School are of particular note. Dr. Julia Kravchenko and her colleagues found higher mortality in communities, defined by zip code, that were in close proximity CAFOs in eastern North Carolina. CAFOs are known sources of a variety of air pollutants, including ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. These results are consistent with observations of higher morbidity due to fine particulate air pollution, which forms from reactions of these gases to form particles in the atmosphere. Separately, reviewing various studies published over the past decade, Kravchenko and Dr. H. Kim Lyerly found higher rates of mortality in populations located close to coal ash ponds, which are a source of arsenic, selenium, vanadium and other metals that leach into local surface and groundwater supplies. Through extensive chemical analysis, Drs. Jennifer Harkness and Avner Vengosh of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment link high concentrations of these elements in surface waters to leakage from coal-ash ponds. Storage of coal ash is normally located near electric utility power plants, which are themselves a source of air pollution by toxic metals and ozone.
WE NEED TO HEAR FROM CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: Whether you believe Blasey or not — I absolutely do — something happened when she was 15 that damaged her. A friend from her teenage years told The New York Times how, after the alleged attack, the formerly outgoing, popular girl “fell off the face of the earth socially.” Much later, The Wall Street Journal reported, she told another friend that she needed more than one door in her bedroom to avoid feeling trapped. She sought therapy for what she experienced, and reportedly confided in her husband and in at least one friend well before Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Now Blasey has to decide whether she wants to pit her word against Kavanaugh’s before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans are refusing to subpoena Kavanaugh’s old classmate Mark Judge, who Blasey said witnessed the assault, and whose lawyer wrote, in a letter to the Judiciary Committee, that he does “not wish to speak publicly regarding the incidents” described by Blasey. The lack of an F.B.I. investigation means there will be no neutral factual record.
AMERICA FAILS IN ITS TREATMENT OF WOMEN: Here, then, is where we stand: After supporting senatorial candidate Roy Moore (a credibly accused child molester) Donald Trump (a confessed perpetrator of sexual assault) has nominated to the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh (a credibly accused attempted rapist) who would, if confirmed, serve alongside Clarence Thomas (a credibly accused sexual harasser). It’s a confluence of facts that speak painfully and pointedly to just how unseriously America takes men’s predations against women. You might disagree, noting that the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Ford to testify. But if history is any guide, that will prove to be a mere formality — a sop to appearances — before the committee recommends confirmation. Yet Ari Fleischer thinks the issue here is whether or not we should hold a man accountable for some bad thing he allegedly did back in high school. Sorry, but that’s no moral puzzler. The answer is obvious: yes, particularly if what that man did is a serious crime and he has never owned up to it nor sought to make amends.
MAMMAS, DON'T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE NC TEACHERS?: As schools opened across the nation, Kappan, the education magazine, released the annual PDK Poll of public attitudes toward public schools. The survey of more than 1,000 Americans contained a rather sad finding: “Fifty-four percent of parents would not like one of their children to take up teaching in the public schools as a career, a majority response to this question for the first time since we began asking the question in 1969.” Poor pay and benefits led the list of reasons for concern, followed by student behavior, safety, and working conditions. The PDK poll found “remarkable support’’ for higher pay, with two-thirds of respondents saying salaries are too low for teachers in their own community. Michael Hansen, director of education policy at the Brookings Institution, looked at whether erosion in teacher pay since 2007 has resulted from shifts in the age and experience of teachers — for example, more higher paid older teachers retiring and school systems hiring lower paid younger teachers. Nationally, he found, teacher qualifications actually went up even as pay eroded. He specifically examined six states, including North Carolina, which was among the five states where “salary declines…could not be substantively accounted for by changes in age or other characteristics.”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
LAURA JONES: TREAT HER WITH DIGNITY: I am closely following the Kavanaugh hearings and as the accusations of assault have come forward, I find myself reflecting on my own life. I have heard men posit that “he would remember something like this.” That may not be true. I am a 55-year-old registered Republican — close in age to both parties involved. I vividly remember a boy asserting himself on me in high school in a way that made me uncomfortable. I remember that it happened at a school dance and I remember his name. I am relatively certain that he hasn’t given it another thought. It is difficult for me to listen to men make judgments about what would be remembered and what would not. I am certain that Dr. Ford carried this for a lifetime. I have. And mine was much less. This, like so much that has been excused as boys being boys, has a lasting effect on the women involved. Even if it happened 30-plus years ago. Rep. Holding, Sen. Tillis and Sen. Burr must treat Ford with dignity and not allow Kavanaugh to be confirmed.
WAYNE HALE: ALL 6 AMENDMENTS SHOULD BE REJECTED: North Carolina has a Democratic governor and a Republican-dominated legislature because the legislators weren’t able to gerrymander a statewide election. To further their quest to accumulate power in their branch, legislators have put six amendments to the North Carolina constitution on our November ballot. Three of these obviously are intended to put voters in the affirmative mood by putting limits on taxes and increasing a victim’s compensation after crimes. The most ridiculous proposed amendment with that intent guarantees the rights of N.C. citizens to hunt and fish, when no one has proposed limiting those rights. These are intermingled with two proposed amendments that would limit the governor’s role in making appointments to boards of elections and ethics and in filling mid-term judicial vacancies. The confusing explanations attached make clear their intentions to obscure this significant weakening of our governor’s powers. The sixth proposed amendment requires an ID to vote, even though none is required for absentee ballots. Amendments to our constitution should make improvements in governance to benefit all of our citizens. None of those proposed meet that criteria, and all six should be rejected.
GINGER CALLOWAY: SEXUAL ABUSE IS REAL: In the contentious atmosphere surrounding the current Supreme Court nominee, certain facts about sexual abuse and assault warrant notice. Among adult women, fewer than 35 percent report sexual abuse or assault. This number is likely higher for adolescent girls and children. Sexual abuse victims feel enormous shame and guilt that they caused the attack to them. In the 1980s researchers at Kaiser Permanente investigated why their obesity study dropout rate exceeded 50 percent. They were stunned when they interviewed participants to find that the majority had experienced childhood sexual abuse. This led to cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The result was the adverse childhood experiences studies, whose findings produced a host of childhood experiences that lead to obesity and other health related conditions, cognitive, emotional and social impairments, and early death. Sexual abuse and assault are real and under reported. Victim blaming is common among perpetrators and those with a lack of understanding and knowledge of sexual abuse.