Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NEW 9TH DISTRICT ELECTION MUST PROMPT OTHER MUCH-NEEDED REFORMS: There’s more than ample testimony and evidence for criminal prosecutors to sift through. Wake County District Attorney Lorren Freeman's ongoing probe of 2016 election activities by Bladen County political fixer McRae Dowless – the apparent mastermind of the absentee ballot scheme at the root of the tainted election -- will easily be expanded to include the latest allegations. Further, we hope and encourage U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon’s office to take a serious look at what happened here. It would be an opportunity to resurrect his office’s reputation after it failed to explore these problems when the state Board of Elections passed along worrisome findings two years ago. We’re thankful for the persistence of the Board of Elections staff – particularly amid the political manipulating by state legislative leaders that embroiled the agency in litigation – for its focus on its duty.

IT'S TIME TO CRACK DOWN ON ANTI-VAXXERS: North Carolina remains among the states with the highest vaccination rates, but between the 2012-2013 and 2016-2017 school years, the number of kindergarteners excused from immunization more than doubled, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. Those came mostly from western North Carolina, but there also are pockets of religious exemptions in Mecklenburg and Wake counties. N.C. lawmakers should not only follow the lead of their counterparts in Oregon and Washington state — who are crafting legislation that would eliminate non-medical exemptions — but lawmakers in California, who are contemplating allowing health departments to crack down on doctors who sign off on questionable medical waivers. Anti-vaxxers argue that the state has no right to tell them how to care for their children. But government has long protected kids from poor parenting, and it has long shielded the greater community from the recklessness of individuals. It’s time to treat vaccination deniers for what they are — a threat to others.

WIND ENERGY IS POISED TO BOOST NC'S ECONOMY: With North Carolina’s legislative session well-underway, I have a renewed optimism about many exciting new economic development and employment opportunities for communities all across the state. The end of 2018 marked the end of our state’s two-year moratorium on wind energy developments, which has unnecessarily put a hold on new wind projects in eastern North Carolina. More importantly, the moratorium kept the state from financial investments, construction and full-time jobs, manufacturing opportunities, and resulting property tax revenues for rural communities that would have been a shot in the arm for many areas. We can focus now on the road ahead and the prospect for our state’s economy to reap significant benefits as the wind energy industry is poised to thrive – both nationally and locally – this year.

INSTITUTIONS STRUGGLE WHEN CONFRONTING #METOO: Workplaces and entire industries have bowed before bigwigs, ignoring whispers and allowing VIPs to abuse for years, even decades. They overvalue the contributions of a select few and count on financial pressures and tools like non-disclosure agreements to keep victims silent. The outlines of organizational failure have become familiar, even as new stories emerge. #MeToo continues to topple superstars and CEOs. The groundswell should knock down entrenched systems that shield abusers. Institutions are stewards of millions of people, some of whom will offend, some of whom will be victims. Organizations need to change their cultures and create stronger mechanisms to punish culprits, support survivors and encourage whistleblowers. The Vatican’s actions this month are signs of progress there. But every day institutions don’t move aggressively to do the right thing places more people in jeopardy.

IT'S NOT THAT MEN DON'T KNOW WHAT CONSENT IS: When Nicole Bedera, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan, interviewed male college students in 2015, each could articulate at least a rudimentary definition of the concept: the idea that both parties wanted to be doing what they were doing. Most also endorsed the current “yes means yes” standard, which requires active, conscious, continuous and freely given agreement by all parties engaging in sexual activity. Yet when asked to describe their own most recent encounters in both a hookup and in a relationship, even men who claimed to practice affirmative consent often had not. When they realized that their actions conflicted with that benchmark, though, they expanded their definition of consent rather than question their conduct. Their ideas of “yes” were so elastic that for some they encompassed behavior that met the legal criteria for assault — such as the guy who had coerced his girlfriend into anal sex (she had said, “I don’t want to, but I guess I’ll let you”). She then made it clear that he should stop. “He did, eventually,” Ms. Bedera told me, “and he seemed aware of how upset she was, but he found a way to rationalize it: He was angry with her for refusing him because he thought a real man shouldn’t have had to beg for sex.”


MICHELE RIVEST: EXPANDING MEDICAID WILL HELP NC'S INFANT MORTALITY PROBLEM: In response to “Why close the gap? Kids’ health depends on it.” (Feb. 16): North Carolina has the 12th-worst infant mortality rate in the country, and almost 10 percent of babies are born at a low birth weight. We could make a positive impact on these challenges with improved prenatal care and access to health coverage for parents. Expanding health coverage in other states has been shown to lead to more healthy births and a decline in the infant mortality rate. It’s time to tackle these problems for the families in our state. Closing the coverage gap would give more than 100,000 parents in North Carolina access to the care they need to be healthy. All babies deserve the opportunity to fulfill their potential, and it starts with a healthy birth and healthy parents.

JOEL GALLAGHER: MEDICAID EXPANSION IS BOTH SMART AND RIGHT: As a physician, I see firsthand how medical conditions cause the loss of a life’s work. Medicaid currently covers low-income children and their parents, pregnant women, seniors and disabled people. To qualify, a family of four must make $11,000 or less annually. However, for that same family, the Affordable Care Act starts providing subsidies when income reaches $25,000. This coverage gap (i.e., those who cannot qualify for Medicaid or the ACA subsidies) leaves 500,000 North Carolinians without affordable coverage and one disaster away from ruin. Having health care facilities to provide care is equally important. Rural hospitals are closing at an alarming rate. Hospitals in the Triad are showing signs of financial strain. Since 2010, five community hospitals in North Carolina have closed. Asheboro’s Randolph Hospital could be next. Hospitals are lifeblood to rural communities, providing both health care and jobs. Medicaid expansion would provide a much-needed boost to these facilities, creating 43,000 jobs and an economic boost of $4 billion. Passing a clean version of Medicaid expansion is key to addressing these issues. I encourage all readers to contact their state representatives and tell them Medicaid expansion is the smart and moral course.

SENATOR TILLIS, PROTECT OUR COAST FROM OFFSHORE DRILLING: Last week, Sen. Thom Tillis wrote a letter noting the “potential economic benefits coming from offshore energy production” but also noting the economic importance of North Carolina tourism and fishing industries. He requested “more details about specific actions... to safeguard long standing industries in our coastal communities.” While we appreciate the senator’s newfound interest in how drilling could impact our vital tourism and fishing industries, with all due respect, the information he seeks has been available for quite some time. Coastal tourism in North Carolina supports over 30,000 jobs and generates more than $3 billion in annual revenue. Commercial and recreational fishing in the state support an additional 22,500 jobs and $787 million in revenue each year. Where offshore drilling exists in the U.S, between 2001 to 2015, there were over 700 spills that discharged at least 4.93 million barrels. Drilling is inherently risky, and there is no way to guarantee against spills. We would be remiss if we did not note that Tillis’ first speech on the Senate floor in 2015 was a call to open up our coast to drilling. This change of heart needs to yield real action. With the Trump administration set to release their outer continental shelf leasing plan, now is the time for serious action. We hope that Tillis and Congressman Rouzer will stand up for more than the NC municipalities that have passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling and seismic testing. And we hope they will follow the example of the late Congressman Walter Jones, who listened to his constituents instead of powerful special interests. Ben Cahoon, Mayor, Town of Nags Head, Rett Newton, Mayor, Town of Beaufort, Bob Woodard, Chairman, Dare County Board of Commissioners, Drew Ball, Director, Environment North Carolina, Randy Sturgill, Senior Campaign Organizer, Oceana, Matt Walker, Co-chair, Outer Banks Surfrider Foundation and small business owner.



From the dark side

Michael Jacobs once again regains his throne of tortured logic:

Most of the people I encounter in the business community will tell you that they are not fans of Donald Trump as a person, but they agree with most of his policies including lower taxes, less regulation, beefed up national security, and greater individual liberty. And they are impressed with his progress on all these fronts.

That is such a heaping pile of fertilizer it boggles the mind. I don't know what type of business people Jacobs encounters, but the ones I've met (I'm in campaign mode, so I am actually out there) have been across-the-board petrified by the economic environment Donald Trump has created. The tariff situation alone has made investing even more of a crapshoot than it usually is, and Trump's vicious attacks on both the press and private sector folks (like Bezos) have these people hoping their particular companies fly under the radar. Which is exactly the opposite of what should happen, in a business climate where innovation draws financial interests.

And needless to say, shutting down the government for five weeks due to a temper tantrum is nothing less than stunning to these folks, many of whom lost tons of money due to work stoppage, contract hold-ups, and a jittery financial market. To say they "admire" him for his progress is one of the most foolish things I've ever read, and that's saying something.

While there are a few Democrats who will not be running for president in 2020, just about everyone on the left who is has started floating policy ideas they hope will differentiate them from the pack. This is a good thing. Republicans should listen with an open mind and come up with some fresh ideas of their own.

You got that last part right, but idiots like you would have them continue down their road of voodoo economics and trickle-down nonsense. Which is why you don't come up with any "fresh ideas" yourself.

Despite her progressive hubris, Elizabeth Warren may be the smartest of the liberal candidates. One of her foundational economic ideas is to radically alter American corporate governance by placing workers on the boards of public companies. Since I headed corporate governance policy under Bush 41, and teach the subject at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School , I feel a duty to weigh in.

Though Warren’s proposal is antithetical to America’s business culture, which considers the owners of companies the ones to whom the corporation should be accountable, I agree with her premise that corporate stakeholders are too often ignored by profit-obsessed CEOs.

It's obvious from that little passive-aggressive tirade you don't really understand why she wants to do that. Boards have become so disconnected with the actual operations of their respective companies they are more of a danger to their own bottom line than their competitors are. Worker influence in decision-making can be critical in boosting efficiency, reducing spoilage of materials, and customer satisfaction. And it can make that company more resilient, able to endure the recession that Trump seems obsessed with creating.

My favorite business role model is a company whose motto is: “People over Profits.” This company pays its employees above the industry average and invests far more in worker training than its peers. It provides customer service radically superior to any of its competitors. It encourages store managers to become involved in their local community. It has even innovated a process to recycle Styrofoam cups. In an industry with grueling work schedules, this fast food company is closed on Sundays to allow its employees a day of rest, and time to attend church and/or be with their family.

No traditional MBA course would teach such a business model, in which a company embraces all its stakeholders at the apparent expense of the bottom line. So how does this company’s financial performance compare to its profit-obsessed competitors?

Chick-fil-A generates an astonishing 50 percent more revenues per store than any other fast food company, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Hardees. And that is in six, not seven, days a week. The shareholders are very handsomely rewarded by the company serving its other stakeholders. It is a virtuous cycle.

Of course, not a word about how Chick-Fil-A discriminated against LGBT and POC applicants, or how they employ 14-15 year-olds in an extremely high-pressure work environment.

Without coming out and saying it, Michael Jacobs chose to feature Chick-Fil-A in his article for one main reason: They have been vilified due to their support of rabid anti-abortion groups and anti-LGBT organizations, and since Jacobs has fashioned himself the brave defender of Conservative values against the terrible and morality-lacking Liberal machine, Chick-Fil-A makes the perfect anchor for his efforts.

Once again, whatever those students are paying for his occasional lectures and classes, it's way too much.