NO FREE RIDES IN 2018 ELECTION: There is one very important reason. Every candidate, particularly incumbents, should be forced to account for their actions and views. There is no better way than through election campaigns with persistent candidates who make their views known, contrast them with their opponents’ and force the opposing candidates to explain for themselves. While some may want to keep interest in elections low to keep voters away from the polls, contested campaigns generate participation and increase turnout. That is a good thing. It is one of the great strengths of American democracy and a virtue of regular and frequent elections. When nearly half the state legislature arrives in office without any accountability to the voters, it inevitably leads to excesses and abuses of power – the kinds that have been clogging our courts for the last seven years. In the United States, the most power is in the hands of each citizen through their vote. Don’t be relinquished to the sidelines. Don’t let others take your say away from you.
UNC SHOULD OPEN SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CASES: U.S. Department of Education guidance on Title IX, the federal law preventing sex discrimination, requires colleges to investigate complaints of sexual assault and sexual harassment. That places them in a tough spot, as the former is a high-grade felony and the latter is a tort, or civil infringement. College administrators don’t have the expertise to adjudicate either type of offense. Title IX tribunals aren’t good for survivors, either, as some victims report sexual assault to college officials instead of law enforcement. Police and internal investigations are not mutually exclusive and can run parallel, but victims might be less likely to call the cops if they pursue campus discipline first. A first-degree rape conviction carries a 12-25-year prison sentence in North Carolina, while expulsion is the harshest penalty a college can dole out. Sexual assault should be a matter for police and prosecutors, not deans and chancellors who are hopelessly out of their depth.
RESULTS NORTH CAROLINIANS DEMAND AND DESERVE FROM THOSE THEY ELECT: In 2016 North Carolina voters spoke at the polls. People want leadership, not partisan battles. They want government with a vision for its people, not just corporate special interests. They want a political system that focuses on the values we share, across the aisle, across our state, and across our country. That’s why I have joined 12 North Carolina state legislators to sign on to America’s Goals, an ambitious vision for renewing our country through action in state legislatures. These long-term goals reflect shared values, not politics or partisanship -- and they provide a framework to hold elected officials accountable for achieving them. The seven goals are: Good Jobs. Affordable Quality Health Care. Investing in Children. Empowering People over Special Interests. Equal Opportunity for All. Sustainable Infrastructure, Resilience, and Innovation. Clean Air, Water, and Energy.
MORE HYPOCRISY FROM GERRYMANDERING NC GOP: I had thought maybe Lewis would begin by apologizing for costing the state what the Winston-Salem Journal reported last month to be north of $7 million in legal fees to defend his path-breaking experiments in electoral suppression. Alas, it was not to be. Instead, he opened by blaming Obama. Really. Then Lewis turned to the “all they care about is electing Democrats” shtick. To be honest, at that point I momentarily lost consciousness. The judges ruled, specifically and pointedly, though sounding somewhat incredulous, that Lewis “acknowledged freely” he meant to cheat. “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” Lewis said, and the court related, “so I drew the map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” I suppose there’s much to be said here about pots and kettles. But somehow that understates Lewis’ hypocrisy.
MORE GUN DEATHS AND MORE EVASIONS: This should be obvious to everyone. Dangerous firearms in the hands of people who are mentally ill is a combination that leads to shootings. That is why the U.S. is different from so many other countries. Americans aren’t more prone to mental illness than are people who live in Japan, Canada, Denmark or other nations where mass shootings are rare. The difference is that mentally ill people in our country have easy access to military-style firearms. Suggesting that tackling “the difficult issue of mental health” can stop shootings, while ignoring the difficult issue of guns, is like trying to fill a barrel with water after it’s been shot full of holes. It’s hard to predict if and when a person with mental illness will strike out at others. But if that person doesn’t have guns, there is less reason to fear he will shoot 30 people.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
CHARLES PUTTERMAN: MAGISTRATES' RELIGIOUS BELIEFS SHOULDN'T KEEP THEM FROM DOING THEIR JOBS: It is inexplicable to me that Gayle Myrick dares to compare her choosing to leave her magistrate’s job because of her discriminatory religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage with accommodations made for disabled employees, prison guards not having to participate in executions, and pregnant women not being required to engage in heavy lifting. None of her comparisons involves a public sector employer accommodating its employee’s wishes to engage in blatantly discriminatory conduct. Not even close. The fact that some other employee could have served as a substitute for Myrick so she could indulge in her intolerance is irrelevant. A magistrate is performing a civil ceremony in a courthouse, not a religious ceremony in a church. The magistrate’s religious beliefs should not be permitted to interfere with the duties of his or her office. It is shameful that the state chose to settle rather than pursue an appeal of the administrative judge’s ruling. There should be zero tolerance of bigotry of any kind in our judicial system.
RUBY MOFFITT: STAND UP TO THE SHOOTING MADNESS: “If I don’t make it, I love you and I appreciate everything you did for me.” This was a text sent by a freshman to her mother from the Florida high school under siege by yet another sick person with an assault weapon. “If I don’t make it”... let that sink in and imagine receiving such a text from your child or grandchild. This madness must stop. Sadly, this is an area where “American exceptionalism” is evident. We lead the world, by far, in such tragedies. Meanwhile, our leaders have become great at expressing their “thoughts and prayers” after such tragedies. Thoughts and prayers are fine, but our politicians are in a position to do much more. I admit that sometimes I feel powerless, and it is hard to keep reaching out to representatives that I know do not share my views on gun safety. I am tired of the worn-out phrase “now is not the time.” When is the time? I will not stop calling, writing and pleading with them to enact common-sense reforms. I have no problem with law-abiding citizens who wish to own handguns for self-defense or rifles for hunting. No one needs assault weapons for those purposes. Assault weapons and their accompanying multiple-clip magazines are good for one thing — maximum killing in a short period of time. Our heroic first responders do their best in these tragedies but with this type of weapon, many die before they can get to the scene. There is no good reason for the average person to own these deadly weapons and certainly, they need to be kept out of the hands of those with mental illness. We can do better. We must do better. Please let your representatives know where you stand, even if you feel powerless. I will not stop trying because if I give up, I am complicit in the next attack. Remember those haunting words “If I don’t make it.” Our children’s futures are in our hands. Now is the time to stand up for them!
SUZANNE JOHNSON: IF TRUMP WANTS TO HONOR MILITARY, RAISE MILITARY PAY: President Trump may sincerely believe that an all out, expensive military parade similar to ones seen in France and dictatorships like North Korea and Russia would be a good thing. Who doesn’t enjoy the pomp and ceremony (and salutes to the president)? Apparently, the troops don’t – 89 percent who responded to an Army Times survey said it was a “waste of money and the troops are too busy.” And some would have give up their well-earned vacations to train for it. Our president was able to avoid the draft five times. So, since he never served, he is clueless about what a parade entails for our uniformed men and women and their equipment. If our president really wants to honor our military, instead of spending millions of dollars on a parade, use the money to raise military pay. And since the new tax bill is a huge boon to himself, his family, other extremely wealthy individuals and corporations, maybe they could donate the money. As a military dependent of long, long ago, I know how much that would be appreciated.