FINDING LIPSTICK TO PUT ON AN ELECTION-FRAUD PIG: It all made for riveting news from a state that has been in the spotlight too many times for all the wrong reasons in recent years, and the sad tale confirms some unflattering facts about North Carolina political life. It exposes questionable election practices that may have been going on for years, in at least some counties, and brings up possibilities that law enforcement and prosecutors may have been asleep at the wheel at best and turning a blind eye at worst. It suggests that some candidates want to win so badly they will cheat to do so. And make no mistake. Voter fraud in which a person tries to or does vote illegally is not in the same league as election fraud, where numerous ballots, in this case absentee ballots, are cast illegally. Some say a few ballots were cast illegally in the 9th Congressional District, some say hundreds were, and it could have been thousands.
OFFICIALS SHOULD BLOCK RDU'S QUARRY LEASE: It’s important to understand the implications of RDU’s action. This tract of heavily wooded land, teeming with wildlife, will be quickly deforested, the land scarified, and the mineral resource extracted with heavy equipment and blasting, then trucked away over a 25-35 year period. The resulting hole in the ground, some 40+ stories deep, will revert to the public along with indefinite and unknown liabilities. The estimated revenue is misleading. RDU says this will provide $24 million over 25 years, and implies this deal will allow Vision 2040 implementation to be accelerated. Yet, according to the agreement, Wake Stone will pay a minimum of $8.5 million. The estimated $24 million is paid only if 100 percent production is maintained. The payments are back-loaded, with only 18 percent due to the airport during the first 10 years. Meanwhile, the Conservation Fund’s cash offer provided RDU a better financial position. Wake Stone has committed $3 million toward reclamation at the end of the lease for permanent fencing, trails, overlooks, and other amenities. The $3 million is capped and, when applied over 105 acres 25 years in the future, is unlikely to afford many “features.”
SEN. BURR, SHOW PROMISED INDEPENDENCE, BLOCK TRUMP'S "EMERGENCY": It was no idle or off the cuff comment when Sen. Richard Burr announced during his 2016 campaign – at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland no less – that if he won election to a third term, it would be his last. It’s time for Burr to put his votes now where his rhetoric was on the 2016 campaign trail. It is time for Burr to do what is best for North Carolina, the U.S. Senate and the nation. He needs to support the resolution opposing President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the Mexican border to build his trophy “wall.” He needs to stand up to Trump’s vanity and threat that Republicans who oppose him “put themselves at great jeopardy.” Burr, who has NOTHING to risk with his vote, needs to follow the example of the state’s junior Sen. Thom Tillis, who will vote to oppose Trump’s action – even in face of his re-election campaign coming up in 2020.
HIGH COURT GOT IT RIGHT ON ASSET FORFEITURES: The case was so clear-cut that all nine U.S. Supreme Court justices agreed: The Constitution’s prohibition on excessive fines applies to state and local governments, limiting their abilities to impose financial penalties and seize property. Tyson Timbs of Marion, Ind., was arrested in 2015 for selling a small amount of heroin. The maximum monetary penalty for Timbs’ crime was $10,000, but that didn’t stop local authorities from seizing his $42,000 Land Rover. The Indiana Supreme Court justified the deed by claiming that the Constitution’s excessive-fines clause didn’t apply to the states. Last month, the nation’s highest court disagreed. “Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the court’s main opinion. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies. ... Even absent a political motive, fines may be employed in a measure out of accord with the penal goals of retribution and deterrence.”
ONLY ONE ROADBLOCK ON THE ROAD TO REFORM, MITCH MCCONNELL: The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has been openly hostile to the anticorruption package since its inception. This week he made clear that he would refuse even to bring it up for a vote. Think of H.R. 1 as the Merrick Garland of reform legislation. Mr. McConnell called the bill the “Democrat Politician Protection Act” (and a “turkey”) and predicted that lawmakers who back it will suffer come re-election time. As political logic, this is questionable. If the Republican leader really thought the package was a loser, he would absolutely bring it to the floor to force Democratic lawmakers to own it — which is, notably, the path he has pledged to pursue with the Green New Deal, which is supported by many Democrats. The Green New Deal, an assortment of ideas for fighting climate change and remaking the economy, is even more sprawling and amorphous than the For the People Act. Mr. McConnell is panting to have members vote on it.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
MIRIAM BRODERSON: GREEN NEW DEAL GIVES ME HOPE: I have lived with fear about climate change all my adult life. Until now, I largely felt despair as it seemed clear our political leaders were more interested in their short-term profits than our future. The introduction of the Green New Deal legislation by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey finally gives me hope. We need to implement a Green New Deal now to avoid the kind of climate disaster experts predict will happen just decades from now. For the sake of our children, let’s get all hands on deck and turn this ship around before it’s too late.
NATALIE SALERNO: TELL OFFICIALS YOUR STAND ON OFFSHORE DRILLING: In the fall of 2018, Tropical Storm Florence and Hurricane Michael devastated North Carolina, causing extensive damage to homes and buildings all across the state. You can drive down any street and find houses still working on repairs from the catastrophic storms. There is no question that these events had tremendous impact on the lives of many North Carolinian residents, yet it is important to realize that it wasn’t the only impact on the state as a whole. When a tropical storm occurs, the risk of damage to offshore oil and gas drilling platforms is significantly increased. Not only does this damage cause an economic burden, more importantly it allows for disastrous oil spills into our coast, which further wreak havoc on local coastal communities and on the oceanic wildlife. The environment of our coast, the economic system, and the health of coastal residents and aquatic life are all at stake. In our government, the Trump Administration continues to push towards opening up our coast to offshore drilling. The Department of the Interior is expected to release its second draft proposal soon with a public comment period of three months after its release. During that time, it is critical that we and our elected leaders make our voices heard and take a stand on an issue that will impact our environment for decades.
HAYDEN STANCILL: KEEP ICE AWAY FROM LOCAL SCHOOLS: I am a student at Cary High School and 23 percent of our student population is Hispanic. With the current state of our government, it is easy to see how ICE raids are a huge fear for anyone who is Hispanic, but much more so for those who are in the country illegally. I believe everyone should have an equal opportunity to pursue an education, regardless of race or ethnicity. Current government immigration policies disregard this completely in favor of keeping people out. Although these issues cannot be controlled off school grounds, the steps Wake County has taken to protect these students while they are in school is nothing less than incredible and I applaud Superintendent Cathy Moore for her efforts.