LEGISLATORS CAN DECLARE COOPER'S BUDGET 'DOA', BUT IT RESPECTS NC'S NEEDS: North Carolina’s legislative leaders pronounced Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget D-O-A. It would have been a bit more appropriate, even polite, if the diagnosis came AFTER he’d proposed it. Before the budget is relegated to the recycling bin, state Senate leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore and their lieutenants should enlighten themselves and give the budget a look. They might even consider joining Cooper to show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the many North Carolinians and issues they’ve neglected for the last seven years while lavishing the state’s corporations with excessive tax breaks. Legislators would go a long way toward appropriately honoring North Carolina’s education, health, public safety, rural communities, growing businesses and working families, by adopting the priorities that Cooper laid out last week.
NC NEEDS TO STOP MESSING WITH ITS JUDICIARY: If the public is to have confidence in our institutions of government, then government officials must have this confidence as well, and refrain from modifying institutions without a compelling reason that they are not serving the public well. There is no perfect method of judicial selection; there are strengths and weaknesses of each. That is not the real issue here. The important issue is the North Carolina General Assembly again attempting to modify the method of selection in order to achieve the outcomes they want on cases before the courts. Anyone who is concerned with the legitimacy of the courts — liberals and conservatives — should resist this attempt to control the courts. North Carolina has a long history of trusting the public’s judgment on judicial selection. There is no reason to move away from that now.
NC BETTER OFF HAVING RULES ON PAYDAY LENDING: To its credit, North Carolina was a national leader in saying no to the payday lending that takes advantage of people who struggle to get by from paycheck to paycheck. Payday lending has been illegal here since the General Assembly passed a law banning such businesses in 2001. So why would members of Congress from North Carolina be pushing a resolution to repeal a new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule imposing limits on payday lending and other forms of predatory short-term, high-interest loans? The answer to that question is that there is no good reason. Yet Mark Walker of Greensboro and Ted Budd of Advance, as well as Richard Hudson, Patrick McHenry, Robert Pittenger and David Rouzer, are all sponsors of the resolution. One motivation no doubt is lobbying from the payday lending industry, which is worried about losing its ability to rake in thousands of dollars in interest and fees from people who can’t afford to pay them.
DID CHINA JUST BRIBE TRUMP TO UNDERMINE NATIONAL SECURITY?: Initially, the company was fined $1.2 billion. Then, when it became clear that the company had rewarded rather than punished the executives involved, the Commerce Department forbade U.S. technology companies from selling components to ZTE for the next seven years. And two weeks ago the Pentagon banned sales of ZTE phones on military bases, following warnings from intelligence agencies that the Chinese government may be using the company’s products to conduct espionage. All of which made it very strange indeed to see Trump suddenly declare that he was working with President Xi Jinping of China to help save ZTE — “Too many jobs in China lost” — and that he was ordering the Commerce Department to make it happen. It’s possible that Trump was just trying to offer an olive branch amid what looks like a possible trade war. But why choose such a flagrant example of Chinese misbehavior? Which was why many eyes turned to Indonesia, where a Chinese state-owned company just announced a big investment in a project in which the Trump Organization has a substantial stake.
HERE'S HOW AMERICA SHOULD APPROACH SCHOOL DESEGREGATION: Despite all the time and effort invested desegregating the nation’s schools over the past half century, the reality is America’s schools are more segregated now than they were in 1968. Keep that statistic in mind as the nation marks the 64th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education – the 1954 Supreme Court decision that famously mandated the desegregation of U.S. public schools. If the vision of educational fairness expressed in the Brown decision is to be achieved, the nation must deal with the underlying driver of racial segregation in schools: the inclination of white citizens to hoard educational resources. Carefully choreographed legal and political strategies slowed desegregation of schools. The 1992 Freeman v. Pitts Supreme Court decision made it easier to lift desegregation orders and opened the way for a national swing back toward racial segregation in schools. This new segregation is not directly enforced by law, but indirectly through school zoning, housing patterns, and recently by neighborhood secessionist movements.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
COLLIN LYNCH: TRUMP IS ANYTHING BUT A 'MASTER NEGOTIATOR': Where is the master negotiator? President Trump promised to be a dealmaker on the world stage. But what has he done? China has cancelled orders for soybeans, pork and corn and are no closer to ending the trade deficit. Europe, Canada and Mexico are angry about our tariffs and are less inclined to support us when we face off with others. The U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then President Trump asked to get in. All of this has alienated our friends and united our opponents. Now Iran. The president hates the deal but did not offer any improvements. He says that Iran cannot be trusted but he ended the deal, and in so doing strengthened the hardliners who want war. He also alienated our allies who plan to trade without us, and again made China and Russia look better by comparison. Why would Iran, North Korea, or anyone go out on a limb to negotiate after this? Was the deal perfect? No. Neither was Reagan and Gorbachev’s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty but it did work. We gained respect. We gained allies. We gained security, and a better chance at peace. With this one act we have lost a lot, and gained nothing.
WILLIAM YANER: EMBASSY CHAOS REVEALS CRISIS IN CHRISTIANITY: If I were a filmmaker, I would split the screen with the scene at our new embassy in Jerusalem, filled with self-congratulations, homages to our president, celebration in the air — and yes, those lofty prayers from two evangelical pastors to confirm for all that this was indeed the work of God and his wonderful plan. The other split screen would be from 40 miles down the road, on the border with Gaza, where, at that same moment, boys armed with rocks and slingshots were being mowed down in their futile, symbolic run to cross the divide and tell the world it could be done. It could not. Goliath prevailed, and 55 of these brave, foolhardy boys were carried off the field of their bloody death. What a perfect juxtaposition of two tragedies: one in Jerusalem, where the evangelicals and right-wing Israelis marched proudly with their blinders into this abyss of a pompous, secular “victory,” the other on the killing fields. My faith tells me where God was at that moment, and where he was absent. And that, I believe, is the crisis of Christianity in our time: They don’t even know.
HELEN C. SITLER, PHD: NC NEEDS TO ADJUST ITS EDUCATION SPENDING: I am a retired teacher educator from Pennsylvania who has been concerned when my student teachers have moved to right-to-work states. Recent marches in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and now North Carolina, all right-to-work states, support my worry. North Carolina has proved to be particularly onerous for my former students. Not one who has moved to your state earns a living wage on a teaching salary. All have additional jobs. Test scores take precedence over learning through current textbooks, effective class sizes, and well-maintained school buildings. Support staff – nurses, counselors, aides – are insufficient. The value of graduate degrees and years of experience go unrecognized in the salary scale. Here are some important facts: Across the U.S. 30 percent percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years. At Title I schools turnover is closer to 50 percent. Over the past five years enrollment in teacher education programs has dropped by 30 percent. Working conditions like those in North Carolina explain why. Were I still working with student teachers, I would be urging them not to seek jobs in your state. Legislators, now is the time to adjust spending on education.