NC CHAMBER IS AWOL IN THE FIGHT FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS: At the height of the debate last week North Carolina’s foremost business organization, the state Chamber of Commerce was asked how it stood on House Bill 13 (which only partially deals with the problem, was passed and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper this week). “The North Carolina Chamber does not currently have a position on House Bill 13 and remains focused on policies that return accountability to the talent pipeline while raising student and school achievement,” was the reply. This non-answer, answer represents the unfortunate lack of leadership the state Chamber has shown in those issues most critical to supporting North Carolina’s public school system.
CONSERVATIVE PUSH FOR "SPEECH RIGHTS" ON CAMPUS WOULD ACTUALLY LIMIT FREE SPEECH: A Republican push, which has passed the state House, to legislate free speech on UNC campuses would order those campuses be open to all speakers and would require public universities to have sanctions ready for those who disrupted events or protested speakers in ways that made it difficult for them to get their message across. It’s similar to other moves across the country. This is a bit of not-so-clever deception on the part of Republicans to punish students who exercise their own free speech by letting their feelings be known at a speech by someone with whom they disagree. In the unstated Republican view, those most likely to be subject to protests are conservatives coming to liberal hotbeds such as UNC-Chapel Hill. GOP lawmakers want to take those protesters down a peg by punishing them.
SWEEPING SOCIETY'S ILLS UNDER THE RUG DOESN'T SOLVE ANYTHING: The job of a newspaper is not to be “fair and balanced” nor to include “good news and bad.” Those are all subjective words depending on your viewpoint. Our job is to be truthful. And that’s what leads to stories like today’s about prostitution and sex work in Alamance County. For most, it’s an unpleasant topic better left alone and even ignored. I disagree, though. We journalists must cast an unsparing eye toward everything in our coverage area, and thus we have a story about prostitution on our front page on a Sunday. We can’t address society’s problems if they remain hidden under a rock. We can only find solutions once the ills can be seen in the clear light of day.
EXPOSING THE ABSURD LEGACY OF THE 2010 ELECTION: Why the GOP succeeded didn’t make sense then. It makes less now. Maybe that’s because there was something profoundly irrational about what drove the 2010 outcome – angry thinking that gave us a mean-spirited and destructive legislature in North Carolina and now an unqualified and dangerous president in Washington. Midterm elections tend to go against the president’s party, but that doesn’t explain the huge scale of the Republicans’ triumph in 2010. Something else came into play, or came into bigger play. And that’s what got us where we are today. It’s not that voters were foolish. It’s that too many were manipulated into becoming angry about the wrong things and for solutions they turned to people who couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver.
NC GOP LIKES MONEY MORE THAN THE FREE MARKET: If there ever were a bill that should have sailed through a conservative legislature, it was North Carolina’s House Bill 500. The bill, an omnibus piece of legislation dealing with alcohol beverage control reforms, eliminated a rule that forces growing craft brewers to turn over their distribution operations to wholesalers. The rule, which applies to brewers that produce more than 25,000 barrels a year, serves no other purpose than to enrich those wholesalers and protect beer conglomerates from craft beer competition. The beer bill was supported by some prominent N.C. conservative groups, but it was opposed by wholesalers, who were backed by the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. Together, that opposition has given $1.5 million in donations between 2013 and 2016 to legislative campaigns and political parties, according to an analysis from government watchdog Democracy NC.
Letters to the Editor:
JEAN RITOK: CREATE SAFE SPACE FOR ALL: Regarding the April 24 Thumbs Up article “6th-grader wants to put a stop to bullying”: So sad that Brenden had to leave real school and go to virtual school to thrive. Society has evolved so much in the last few decades. Schools and teachers have known for a long time that we need a major shift in the educational system in order to keep up in a changing world. At the end of the day, we’re all just human beings who want to be fully seen, respected and understood. The solution is to create a safe space for people to be themselves, to be able to express themselves without feeling judged.
JEANNE ROMEO: FREE WILL CONSEQUENCES: Concerning the April 25 Under the Dome item “Motorcycle helmets may be optional after 21”: Riders over 21 should be able to exercise their free will and ride without a helmet, provided that our hospitals also are allowed to exercise their free will and refuse to treat motorcyclists with catastrophic head injures unless they can pay up front.
CHRIS DRAGGA: GOP'S ACTIONS "IMPRESSIVE": Regarding the April 26 Under the Dome item “Veto override sends issue to court”: The lengths to which North Carolina Republicans were willing to go to prevent Gov. Roy Cooper and, more broadly, people who might vote for Democrats from having any influence over the judiciary were truly impressive. In light of other actions by the state GOP – requiring the vetting of cabinet appointments, shifting powers previously belonging to the executive over to the legislature and imposing stringent voting restrictions – it could seem that the party was attempting not only to erase the results of the previous election but also to ensure that a Democrat never takes the governorship, or, ideally, any office, again. But this would be deeply anti-democratic and an affront to our nation’s founding principles, and the GOP would surely never do anything un-American. Right?