MOORE & BERGER ARE FLAT-OUT WRONG. COMPROMISE, EXPAND MEDICAID NOW: It is cruel and thoughtless to deny health care to North Carolina citizens most in need but least able to get it. North Carolina legislative leaders continue to parrot canned talking points from hyper-partisan organizations to justify their opposition to expanding Medicaid. They did it again this week in a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper. These groups, like the legislative leadership, reflexively despise anything initiated by former President Barack Obama – no matter the benefits that might be gained or the hardship their bias inflicts. A large majority of North Carolina voters support expanding Medicaid. Remember, Medicaid expansion comes at relatively little cost to the state. Thirty-seven states have done it. Federal taxes collected here are paying for expansion in those states.
A RISING RALEIGH HAS TO PRESERVE A PLACE FOR ALL INCOMES: The city of Raleigh doesn’t lack for plans. There’s a department full of planners channeling growth in accordance with a comprehensive plan and a unified development ordinance that covers every nook and cranny of the city. But for all that planning, it feels like something uncontrolled and chaotic is happening as a new city emerges from the tight and orderly confines of ordinances, blueprints and artists’ renderings. Consider the scene on no longer peaceful Peace Street. An 11-story mega complex of apartments, office space, stores and a parking garage is under construction, looming over a landscape that just a year or two ago was a collection of single-story businesses. The project, the latest by Raleigh real estate developer John Kane, looks like a spacecraft as large as an aircraft carrier has landed on an unsuspecting southern town. And that’s just the start. Kane is asking the City Council for permission to build a 40-story tower at Peace Street and Capital Boulevard. It would be the capital’s tallest building. No one seems to know where the traffic will go. Or where people of modest means will go.
CONCERNS OVER NC VOTING MACHINES UNDERSCORES IMPORTANCE OF ELECTION SECURITY: Ahead of another sure-to-be contentious election, it’s imperative the United States ensure the security of its electoral processes for all candidates. However, the situation is still dire. Many campaigns remain vulnerable; some even decline to comment on whether they’ve taken basic cybersecurity measures. This is all compounded by the risk of foreign influence campaigns into American elections. Misinformation propagated by Russian bots ran rampant on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms during the 2016 election cycle. The same problem cropped back up around the 2018 midterms. Yet many American citizens are not aware of the extent to which fake news from foreign actors can still spread online and social media companies still fall short when it comes to quickly and decisively handling such content. What can we do? Many election decisions in North Carolina and elsewhere are made locally, so citizens can help their country by being vocal about these election security issues on the local and state levels.
TIME'S UP ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES DESIGNED FOR LAST CENTURY: The Women’s Debate, a nonpartisan organization that pushes for women’s issues to be included in political debates, analyzed the more than 700 questions asked over the course of 21 Republican and Democratic debates held during the 2016 primary cycle and found that just six centered on issues that disproportionately affect women that were not about abortion (as important as those questions are). It’s true that women and people of color share plenty of concerns with white men. But asking those general questions isn’t enough: We need to know how the candidates would approach issues that are of special concern to female voters. The impact of these questions extends beyond the debates themselves. Moderators and their producers have great power to determine which issues are considered central to each election simply in how they raise or frame those concerns. Candidates will always advance their own platforms, but debates are crucial arenas in which to get them on the record. Moderators, relaying voters’ concerns and interests, can raise issues the candidates don’t prioritize themselves.
TRUMP'S SLOUCHING TOWARD WAR WITH IRAN IS A DISGRACE: The 11th-hour calling-off of military action was the one wise decision Trump has taken on Iran since he took office. Dazzled by Saudi blandishments, Israeli veneration, the opportunity to trash Barack Obama’s diplomacy and the lure of evangelicals’ votes, Trump determined from Day 1 that the Islamic Republic was the enemy from Central Casting. His view was unburdened by any serious assessment of how to balance toughness and engagement in the long-traumatized American-Iranian relationship. The United States does not need the war with Iran that John Bolton, the national security adviser, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seem determined to deliver. It would be a war of choice, illusion and irresponsibility. It would place Americans at risk across the Middle East, with no benefit to the United States or its allies. Pompeo has been a willing dance partner in this exercise. He has declared a determination to drive Iran’s oil exports to “zero” and energetically pursued the grotesque objective of conflating Iran, a Shia nation, with Al Qaeda, an expression of murderous Wahhabi Sunni extremism. In fact, as former Secretary of State John Kerry told me, “Iran has helped in the war against the ISIS,” another Sunni terrorist group.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
DOLORES BANKS: WE HAVE ENOUGH GUNS ALREADY: Regarding “Lawmaker wants unlimited handgun purchases on single permit” (June 12): The recent bill put forth by N.C. Sen. Danny Britt does not take not account that there are already too many guns in our country. If you intend to protect our children and the adults of our country, there need to be stricter gun laws. Everyday our newspapers are full of killings. Maybe Britt does not read or watch the news. This is the same senator who co-sponsored a bill to let members of Congress use blue lights on their cars while working in North Carolina. We need elected officials who are intelligent and have the ability to pass laws that are for the good of the American people. The people of Robeson County should think about that at the next election.
BILLY SEWELL: UTILITY TRANSPARENCY IS CRITICAL: As a Republican who embraces the principles of free markets, ratepayer protections, and transparency in business, I cannot accept Duke Energy’s Senate Bill 559. Their misleading and disingenuous effort in a recent op-ed to “set the record straight” only reinforced my opposition. To say Duke won’t use SB 559 to raise rates is like saying we’ll give candy to children but we don’t expect them to eat it. Once Duke has this “tool,” its first step will be to find ways to use it, guaranteeing higher power bills for customers. To say that the bill’s opponents ignore the customer benefits of grid securitization is false. On the contrary, almost no one disagrees that customers would benefit from the move. But the additional costs imposed through multi-year rates more than cancel out that benefit. If Duke were genuinely looking out for customers, it would split the two issues within the bill, assuring customer savings. As it is, they’re using securitization as a shield, hiding behind it to get the multi-year rates provision they really want. Passage of SB 559 would reduce utility transparency, double down on Duke’s business monopoly, and protect shareholders rather than customers.
HEIDI CARTER: NCGA NEEDS TO FUND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH: As a Durham county commissioner and board member of Alliance Health, the managed care organization (MCO) for publicly-funded behavioral healthcare services for Durham County, I urge the GA to stop cutting single-stream funding. These state funds are critical for providing services for uninsured/underinsured citizens with mental health, intellectual/developmental disabilities, and substance use disorder needs. Over the past several years, the legislature has drastically cut this important funding. To make up the shortfall, Alliance and other public behavioral health MCOs across the state have had to halt or abandon community reinvestment projects. When you jeopardize the behavioral health safety net in this fashion, the whole community feels the effect with more people showing up in jails and emergency rooms for mental health crises or overdoses. I have seen firsthand the tremendous positive impact on our community of behavioral healthcare investments. Behavioral health crisis and urgent care centers are specially equipped to stabilize those experiencing mental health crisis and engage them in appropriate treatment. We need more of these vital services, and I implore the General Assembly to stop cutting the funding that helps make them possible.