CONSUMERS SHOULDN'T PAY FOR DUKE ENERGY'S COAL ASH BUNGLES: As a regulated monopoly, Duke Energy has an obligation to produce reliable, affordable and safe power while still being guaranteed a reasonable profit for the company and its shareholders. It is up to the state Utilities Commission to determine that balance. When the company fails to meet one of the three obligations it has to its customers, it isn’t the fault of the ratepayers, nor should it be their responsibility to pay. The Utilities Commission shouldn’t reward Duke for the failure to do its job, nor should its ratepayers, who have no other choice for electric service, be forced to subsidize that failure. No matter what the rate increase the Utilities Commission may approve, it should not include costs of dealing with Duke’s coal ash mistake.
CONGRESS FOLLOWS NC'S WRONG PATH ON TAX CUTS: Much of the nation looked on in shock last week as Senate Republicans trampled the legislative process in their rush to deliver big tax cuts to corporations and the top 1 percent of earners. But for people in North Carolina it was an all too familiar approach to passing unfair and unpopular legislation. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell did a fine imitation of North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger as he rounded up votes and pushed a tax-cut bill that overwhelming favors corporations and the very wealthy. “Not a single member of this chamber has read the bill,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor before the 500-page bill passed early Saturday morning. “It would be impossible.” McConnell, sounding much like a North Carolina Republican lawmaker, replied caustically, “You complain about process when you’re losing.”
YONAT SHIMRON: WHY EVANGELICALS MAY SUPPORT ROY MOORE ANYWAY: Conservative Christians, said Molly Worthen, a historian of American religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have developed an intellectual strategy for engaging with the public called “presuppositionalism.” It holds that evangelicals should examine other people’s underlying suppositions before debating them. If those people or groups don’t adhere to the right worldview — one that accepts the Bible as the inerrant word of God — they should not be trusted. The argument, said Worthen, goes like this: “When secular liberals say that the public square can be this neutral space, fair to all metaphysical beliefs, that’s a lie, because folded into that it is a secular humanist worldview, a set of anti-Christian presuppositions that are now being foisted onto our public square. You, as conservative evangelicals, need to fight that, and you need to be savvy when they try to pull one over on you.”
IN RUSSIA PROBE, RICHARD BURR IS NO SAM ERVIN: In contrast, Burr sounds like a chairman willing to go through the motions, checking off the obvious witnesses and those the Democrats demand to have testify. He seems like a chairman who would be content with a committee report confirming what the nation’s intelligence agencies have already found and then having the Senate Intelligence Committee’s agenda move on to other subjects. Burr’s lackadaisical response to Trump follows reports from February in which he complied with a White House request to counter news reports linking Trump campaign associates to Russia. He said he had talked to the White House and news organizations about the reports when he was aware of intelligence that didn’t support the news stories. “I’ve had those conversations,” Burr said, adding, “I felt I had something to share that didn’t breach my responsibilities to the committee in an ongoing investigation.”
CONSUMERS NEED MORE PROTECTION, NOT LESS: The CFPB was established by the Dodd-Frank Act in response to the financial crisis of 2008 and the severe recession that followed. It was clear at the time that no one was looking out for the interests of ordinary people — those who struggle to buy a home, send their kids to college or put away a little money for retirement. Without their knowledge, their mortgages or investment savings could be dealt by unscrupulous traders or gambled by shady hedge-fund investors. No wonder so many Americans lost faith in government and followed leaders who promised to put their interests first for a change. Unfortunately, they fell for another scam. Billionaire President Trump is not a protector of the working class. He’s not on the side of the consumer but of the same Wall Street financiers and hedge-fund operators who landed on their feet after the financial meltdown — with their heels dug deeply into the backs of the people.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
AMANDA PADDEN: HB2 "REPEAL" HELPED BUSINESSES, BUT NOT LGBTQ CITIZENS: It has been roughly eight months since the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 142, the so-called repeal of HB2. In doing so, the NCGA satisfied business concerns, but seemingly forgot to restore the human rights of the LGBTQ+ community. In the months following the passage of HB2, businesses, artists and organizations, most notably the NCAA, placed enormous pressure on the state to repeal HB2 by moving projects and events to other states. The result was an economic incentive to repeal HB2, yet their actions simultaneously shifted the focus to the economic consequences HB2 instead of the effect on human rights. Due to the efforts of businesses, organizations, and other advocates, the NCGA passed HB142. While anyone is now free to use the bathroom of their choice, state legislators still have control over policy regarding certain public bathrooms and local governments cannot change their anti-discrimination policies until 2020, as if they are simply postponing reinstating human rights. To put it plainly, the state prioritized protecting the business concerns of the state over human rights. Action must be taken to fully repeal HB2. It is up to Gov. Roy Cooper and the legislature to restore the human rights of all North Carolinians.
NANCY BRYANT: IMPACT OF NATURAL GAS IS WORSE THAN COAL'S: We appreciate your editorial on the destructiveness of coal (“Coal costs are rising,” Nov. 29). May we also add that natural gas, a fossil fuel, is actually worse because of the amount of methane that leaks unburned, and methane is 80 to 100 times worse than CO2 in our atmosphere? The other item of note is that private solar developers have actually been the source of making North Carolina the second-largest generator of solar power, not Duke Energy. In fact, Duke and the N.C. legislature both support imposing limits on further solar growth, and they are opposed to the 2015 Energy Freedom bill. We urge the public and media to take these facts into consideration.
LAURIE MCDOWELL: NC SENATORS AVOIDING THE PUBLIC ON TAX BILL: Regarding “Tax overhaul could thwart plans for affordable housing” (Nov. 30): Since neither North Carolina senator reads the local paper of the capital of the state they represent, maybe their constituents could point out a few things. The House version of the tax bill they so strongly support would eliminate tax-exempt status for bonds that allow private investors to be eligible for those wonderful tax breaks they advocate for their cronies. Over half of the affordable housing units in Raleigh which received approval last spring would no longer be available under the House bill. Where are these people going to go? Perhaps they will move to Tillis’ or Burr’s home towns. Then we learn that “House bill would cut tax credits for hiring disabled workers” (Nov. 30). And the consequences of the bill could go further by cutting Medicaid funding. So disabled people will have a harder time finding employment. And this bill is supposedly all about jobs, jobs, jobs? I guess when the party leader mocks disabled people in public, they don’t give a fig about the disabled. The article goes on to say that neither of the North Carolina senators responded to a request for comment on whether they would support a final version of the bill that included eliminating the tax credits for the disabled. Once again, avoiding the public who pay their salaries and whom they claim to represent. Based on their past performance, I expect no less. I still, however, wonder how they sleep at night.