STILL TIME TO FIX STATE BUDGET INTO ONE THAT HELPS ALL NORTH CAROLINIANS: Word is that the remaining differences – whatever they might be -- between the N.C. House of Representatives and Senate over the state budget are being worked out by the legislature’s top-most leaders. However, before they wrap things up, lawmakers still have the chance to correct their course on some misguided proposals remaining on the table as well as to incorporate some needs that have been ignored or forgotten. First, stop giving the state’s revenue to people who don’t need it. Continued cuts in the corporate income tax are unnecessary and jeopardize the ability of state government to meet the most basic needs of citizens. Reverse the foolish neglect of public education. Take care of those in need. Reject spiteful cuts to important education programs that help disadvantaged students in the eastern part of the state; Discard mean-spirited cuts to food stamps – that would throw 133,000 people – children and the elderly included – off the program while not saving the state a dime.
TRUMP'S TANTRUMS, AGAINST PEOPLE JUST DOING THEIR JOBS, SPEAKS VOLUMES: As to obstruction, Trump’s wounds are entirely self-inflicted. He has seemed determined – frantic, really – to see that the case against fired national security adviser Michael Flynn is dropped. What Trump derides as a “phony witch hunt” is the legal system working as it should. Attorney General Jeff Sessions needed to recuse himself. Rosenstein needed to name a special counsel. And Mueller needs to pursue the investigation, impartially and fearlessly, to its logical end. That Trump now feels the need to attack seasoned prosecutors for simply doing their jobs speaks volumes – and says nothing reassuring about the lengths to which Trump, for whom self-preservation has always been the top priority, might eventually go.
SCHEMING, PROCRASTINATING PERPETUATE UNCONSTITUTIONAL DISTRICTS: The record of partisan gamesmanship this General Assembly has amassed has hit an all-time low. It would be foolish to believe the legislature will, on its own, come up with a fair and constitutional set of legislative districts. The court should be direct and specific on what the legislature must do, how to do it and set a firm deadline on when it needs to be done. If they fail, the judges should impose their own redistricting plan. Gov. Cooper Monday called for, and the court could order, special elections this year. But even with an eye toward the next regular election in 2018, there would be a late February filing-for-office deadline for a May primary. Legislative district lines would need to be in place well before that – perhaps by the end of 2017 – so candidates know which districts they might run in.
IMMIGRATION LAWS OFTEN FORGET HUMANITY OF IMMIGRANTS: Mosa Hamadeesa has an admirer in Dr. William Eward, an esteemed cancer surgeon at Duke University Hospital. The Palestinian from the West Bank came to the United States 10 years ago on a travel visa, established his wife and four children and has worked as a mechanic. He has gone through all of the proper procedures to find a way to stay in the United States legally, applying for asylum. He has lived as a law-abiding, responsible person. And he now stands arrested. Eward has another reason for wanting Hamadeesa close by: The doctor is treating Hamadeessa’s 9-year-old daughter for a tumor on her femur. Eward removed the tumor, but needs to continue treating the child. So here is the human consequence of federal immigration laws that are neither clear nor, in many cases, fair, and punish responsible people who are contributing to their communities.
MORE CONCERN ABOUT DRINKING WATER TAINTED WITH GENX: More than 250,000 people in our area get their water from the Cape Fear River. By the time it flows from the tap, it’s been treated by the utilities that sell it to us, and we can be assured it is safe. At least that’s we thought. Our utilities have no way of removing the compound — known as GenX — so it is in the water that about 250,000 area people drink. It’s not clear how harmful to humans GenX could be. The compound it replaced, C8, was very harmful — so much that DuPont stopped using it and settled a $670.7 million class-action lawsuit. GenX has a similar makeup as C8, and Chemours, a DuPont spin-off, has informed the EPA of harmful effects on lab animals. Perhaps the biggest concern is this: The EPA approved the use of GenX on the condition “there were no releases to water.” That condition obviously is not being met.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
AYLETT COLSTON: SPECIAL ELECTION NEEDED: Instead of being lawfully elected with the full consent of the people of North Carolina, the current GOP-controlled N.C. General Assembly seized control through unconstitutional gerrymandering and restricting voting with actions courts have held to violate the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. The state legislature was ordered by the U.S. District Court to redraw the unconstitutional districts in August, yet they continue to refuse. In 1776, America’s founders declared that a government derives “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” A body that has taken control by violating the Constitution does not have the consent of the people. North Carolina needs a special election so it can elect a state government that represents North Carolinians.
BIANCA OLIVARES: WHY WASN'T NC LABOR COMMISSIONER AT MEMORIAL FOR KILLED WORKERS? There was a memorial service in Raleigh for 150 people like Mr. Kemper who showed up to work one day but never got to go home to their loved ones. Family members of those who died showed up. Faith leaders and members of the community showed up, too, and people took turns ringing a bell for each person who died. One person who didn’t show up was N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, whose department is now investigating another workplace fatality. It was a shame, but not too surprising. Judged by her failure to act on a number of workplace issues and even by her own telling, during her tenure as commissioner, Ms. Berry has lived up to her label in the press as a “reluctant regulator” — often seeming to prefer the company of employers to that of working families she was elected to protect.
GEORGIE BRIZENDINE: COMEY WILL BE MISSED: Regarding “Comey tells whole truth” (June 12): Recently, America and the world witnessed James Comey testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey, a true American, demonstrated that he is a man of character, honesty, integrity and one who loves this country. He withstood three hours of “grilling” with grace, diplomacy and dignity, never becoming testy or disgruntled. This is a man with great strength and courage to volunteer his testimony in order for the American people to know the truth. How many people would have been brave enough to undergo this inquisition? What a shame and a loss that Americans will be denied the services of this man who has dedicated his life to keeping America safe. He will be sorely missed as will his truth and honesty, which is absent in Washington today.