Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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TILLIS AND BURR, SHOW YOU STAND WITH NC, NOT THE NRA: Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis need to let the North Carolinians know who ranks at the top of their priority list. Is it the 10.3 million residents or 6.7 million registered voters in the state? Is it the $6.9 million the National Rifle Association donated to Burr’s campaigns? Is it the $4.4 million the NRA donated to Tillis’ campaigns? If their priority is the people of the state they represent, they must be in the forefront of demanding the U.S. Senate take up and pass two bills the House of Representatives passed last February – the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act. There has been NO Senate activity on the bills. Additionally, they should be leading voices for adoption of “red-flag" laws that allow public safety officials and family members, following due process and a court order, to temporarily prevent firearm possession by a person who is a threat to themselves or others.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-tillis-and-burr-show-you-stand-with-n-c-not-the-nra/18563629/

When local newspapers die, democracy dies with them

When you don't watch the pot, it often boils over:

It’s a crisis that threatens American democracy. Local newspapers, despite all their flaws and limitations, have been a trusted — and necessary — source of information for citizens across the country.

When local news withers, bad things happen, studies show. People vote less, and they vote in a more politically polarized way. Political corruption has more opportunity to flourish, unnoticed by the local watchdog. And municipal costs may rise.

After being involved in local government for several years now, I don't subscribe to the view that governments would go crazy with unnecessary spending in the absence of a journalistic watchdog. Voters don't (necessarily) need to read about their property tax going up to notice it, it's right there on their monthly mortgage bill when the escrow goes up. Elected officials are aware of that when they crunch their budgets every year (or two). But those voters won't know "why" their property tax went up, or anything else about their local government, and that's a huge problem. Which is why I also don't subscribe to the view that local governments should withhold information, make it harder for journalists to cover their activities. If the newspaper gets it wrong, it's usually because some official thought it was "wise" to be tight-lipped. It rarely is. But there may be a philanthropic light at the end of this tunnel:

Saturday News: Bold and visionary

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COOPER AND DEQ PRESENT PLAN TO CUT NC'S GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS: Many more North Carolinians would get their electricity from renewable energy sources if a plan proposed by Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration moves ahead. The plan the state Department of Environmental Quality released Friday proposes reducing greenhouse gases from electricity production by 60% to 70% of 2005 levels by 2030, with a goal of getting to zero emissions by 2050. The plan offers suggestions for pushing emissions lower: requiring retirement of coal power plants and requiring utilities to increase use of renewable energy; setting carbon dioxide budgets or carbon caps; or a combination of those approaches. The proposal is a sweeping discussion of a possible energy future for the state that includes increasing energy efficiency and using clean energy development to create jobs.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article234079272.html

Leading while Black: Charlotte Council members get racist hate mail

Trump's rhetoric is dangerous, and spreading:

More than a dozen city leaders, all of them African American except for one, received a letter in the mail to their respective offices that was threatening and racist. Now, police are taking a close look. "If I can assume the intent, the intent was to intimidate," Councilman Braxton Winston said.

The letter read in part, "...Each of you despicable BLACK democrats should be tarred and feathered and run out of town (my town) on a rail..." It blamed African Americans for various things, praised President Donald Trump and used a phrase that was chanted by his supporters at a North Carolina rally earlier this year: "Send her back"

Even if I didn't agree with Braxton's assumption (I do), his background in Anthropology makes that more than just an assumption, it's a studied assessment. But for people like the letter writer, none of that matters. He's Black, and that is an irredeemable trait. It's important to understand that, before any time is wasted by looking at the attitude or performance or potential character flaws of those who have been threatened. We have an almost automatic impulse to argue against such, to present reasons why these bigots are wrong, but that's like trying to groom a skunk. You'll stink for days after the effort, and the skunk will still be a hot mess.

Friday News: Costly tactics

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DAILY PER DIEMS MOUNT AS TIM MOORE'S OVERRIDE GAMBIT CONTINUES: House Speaker Tim Moore says he's working on getting the Democratic votes he needs for an override. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Darren Jackson insists Moore's mission will never succeed, and he and all but a few House Democrats sent Moore a letter to that effect this week. Republicans are basically playing a numbers game, putting the override vote on the floor calendar every day in hopes that enough Democrats will be absent to allow them to get the override the votes they have. "They're just paying for us to sit around and not talk to each other. Honestly, that's what's going on," said Jackson, D-Wake.
https://www.wral.com/meter-keeps-running-on-legislative-session-as-budget-stalemate-drags-on/18571225/

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