LEGISLATORS, ABANDON PARTISAN BULLYING AND FOCUS ON STATE'S URGENT NEEDS: The dark and stormy hyper-partisan atmosphere, fueled by the only veto-proof majority since the governor was granted the power 22 years ago, has dissipated as a new legislature gathers for the first time. We hope now that a gubernatorial veto carries some clout, legislators will think and act more cooperatively and less ideologically as they craft legislation. To get important things accomplished, legislators will need to consider and address the interests and needs of ALL North Carolinians – not just narrow and favored special interests or powerful partisan patrons. It is an opportunity for REAL leadership to emerge. Skill in building consensus will hold greater currency than the muscle to intimidate and steamroll. How will GOP leaders Sen. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore handle themselves?
WAKE RENEGES ON CROOKED CREEK PARK, BUT IT'S NOT OVER YET: It started out as Crooked Creek. On Monday, it became U-turn Creek. That re-christening came courtesy of a confounding 4-3 vote by the Wake County Board of Commissioners. The majority decided to reverse last year’s $4 million purchase of the closed Crooked Creek Golf Course near Fuquay-Varina and cancel plans to convert the 143-acre tract into a county park. They did it despite a lack of parks in fast-growing southern Wake County; despite a purchase price below the land’s assessed value; despite the fact that the land comes with paved paths, parking lots and utilities that the county won’t have to install; despite the fact that Wake County has never sold parkland and despite overwhelming support for the park from people in the area. And they did it because, well, because they could. It’s hard to tell whether the vote is more irresponsible or irrational. Either way, it was highly unpopular. Supporters of the park filled the board’s chambers and more looked on from an overflow room.
HB2 IS STILL HAUNTING NORTH CAROLINA: Many of HB2′s provisions were repealed. But some were left on the books, at least for a few more years. That includes a prohibition on individual cities and counties passing anti-discrimination ordinances that are any more stringent or comprehensive than the state’s own laws. And state law does not forbid discrimination for sexual identity or orientation. It’s legal, in North Carolina, to discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people simply because of who or what they are. And that’s the gift that keeps giving. It may well have been a factor in Amazon and Apple deciding against locating huge new campuses in the Triangle area. It’s enough of a problem that the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority budgeted $3 million over the past two years for “Post HB2 Marketing/Sales support.” They wouldn’t be spending that kind of money if there wasn’t a lingering problem, and the authority’s annual report noted that six states still ban official travel here because of HB2.
And now, from Wilmington, comes this news: Netflix has decided against filming a series set on the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
TRUMP DESERVES TO BE IMPEACHED. BUT SHOULD HE BE?: One gets the sense sometimes that people think of impeachment as a magic trick. Abracadabra and presto! Trump disappears in a cloud of Cheetos dust, America is saved. It’s a great fantasy, but only that. Because Trump is not the problem, only a symptom. And America doesn’t need to be saved. No, for its own mental and moral health, America needs to save itself, needs to clearly and emphatically reject what it has become. Impeachment does not do that. Voting the awfulness out does. Consider this new Congress, with its record number of women, including its first Native-American women, its first Muslim women and its youngest woman ever, this Congress that looks so much more like the country it serves. Consider the organizing, the canvassing, the fundraising, the putting lives on hold, the stop-complaining-about-it-and-getting-involved it took to produce this result. Then roll up your sleeves and forget about magic. That’s not what got us into this mess. It’s not what will get us out.
WHY AUTOCRATS LOVE EMERGENCIES: In a democracy, presidents must have patience and thick skin. They must be able to compromise. And crucially, they must be able to lose. Autocratic-minded leaders, by contrast, find democratic politics intolerably frustrating. Most lack the skills or the temperament for the give-and-take of everyday politics. They are allergic to criticism and compromise. They have little patience for the intricacies of the legislative process. Crises offer these would-be authoritarians an escape from constitutional shackles. National emergencies — especially wars or major terrorist attacks — do three things for such leaders. First, they build public support. Security crises typically produce a rally-round-the-flag effect in which presidential approval soars. Citizens are more likely to tolerate — and even support — authoritarian power grabs when they fear for their safety. Second, security crises silence opponents, since criticism can be viewed as disloyal or unpatriotic. Finally, security crises loosen normal constitutional constraints. Fearful of putting national security at risk, judges and legislative leaders generally defer to the executive. National emergencies can threaten the constitutional balance even under democratically minded presidents like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But they can be fatal under would-be autocrats, for they provide a seemingly legitimate (and often popular) justification for concentrating power and eviscerating rights.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
KELLY MORRIS ROBERTS, PHD: THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS REVEALED: Many thanks for the article “Popularity of charter schools is causing this NC school district to lose students” (Jan. 7) and the quotation from Terry Stoops, vice president of research for the John Locke Foundation. Directly from Stoops: “ Charter schools were designed to foster competition with districts.” Not, as we were told in 1997 when charters started, to foster innovation. Not labs free from some regulations so we could find the best ways to benefit all kids. Not think tanks full of the best people working together with school districts on behalf of equity and excellence for all. Finally we hear the truth about why charters are here and why the public is paying for them. We are creating winners, losers, and inequity as a sharp and documented result. If factors of diversity and inclusion are factored in, we are in reality simply creating losers and inequity in both systems, no doubt about it, in an unprecedented move for our great state. These are children. We know better, and this rare admission can help us choose better for the state of North Carolina, once a national leader in education.
WILLIAM TOTH: EMBRACE OF TRUMP BY CHURCH DISHEARTENS: Some say Christianity is under attack in America. I suggest, instead, that their hurtful, judgmental words and actions, not to mention virtual worship of all things Trump by some “Christians,” has created a perception of “religion” as oppressive and cruel. That has marginalized them, not the actions of others. I, myself, was a devoted member of the Catholic faith my entire life. I even taught at Catholic schools for 10 years and my parish was at the center of a great deal of my social life. I left the church two years ago when the pastor took to pontificating on his right-wing visions for the world from the pulpit; I grew weary of leaving church confused and angry. The church community I knew so well morphed, and not in a good way. Many who had belonged for decades fled for better climes. Now, hearing so many evangelicals likening Trump to the second coming of Christ, I have become totally disillusioned with “Christianity” as a whole. Never wanted to see this happen. It has pained me greatly.
M.L. STEPHENSON: SON OF THE CONFEDERACY SPEAKS OUT: I am a graduate of UNC-CH. My family’s ties with the university go back more than 200 years. Some of my ancestors fought and died for the Confederacy. They were brave men, motivated by sincere conviction and belief, but they were wrong. Erected out of nostalgia for slavery, a symbol of Jim Crow, and an idol for the Lost Cause, Silent Sam has always been a glorification of white supremacy and oppression. It has always been and is a monument to evil. Evil is not purified by the passage of time, nor is the immoral made honorable by history, tradition, or custom. To say otherwise is to be immorally disingenuous. The installation of Silent Sam anywhere on campus is the reaffirmation of the evils it represents. The university is meant to lift up and enrich all who encounter it. The presence of Silent Sam will degrade and shame not those whom it is intended to devalue, but the university and ourselves. Any defense of this symbol is a defense of an embodiment of racist suppression. I call upon all my fellow North Carolinians, especially my Carolina brothers and sisters, to voice their opposition to the re-establishment of this hateful symbol of bigotry
Author's note: My ancestors also fought for the Confederacy, my GGG Grandfather and his son, and I agree wholeheartedly with the above.