NEW REDISTRICTING EFFORT AIMS TO REPEAT OLD MISTAKES: The iron-fisted leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly quickly snapped the last frayed thread of hope that there might be a sincere effort to develop fair and legal legislative districts. At Wednesday’s joint meeting of the legislature’s redistricting committees, among the first revelations is that taxpayers will be paying the architect of the state’s current illegal redistricting maps to create the new ones. Tom Hofeller isn’t a household name though his handiwork as nation’s top Republican redistricting map-maker, has cost the state millions defending the unconstitutional legislative and congressional districts he concocted. When asked if Democrats in the legislature will have access to Hofeller’s expertise and work – after all we’re all paying for it – House redistricting boss Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, was precise. “The short answer is no.”
UNC CENTER FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IS A VITAL LEGACY: Chambers was on a journey of enlightenment and inclusiveness. This has also been North Carolina’s journey. His life was a “pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.” It is a compass point. That’s why it saddens me to see the UNC Board of Governors cripple his beloved center by removing the very tool he spent his life working to build – a center that provides representation for those in North Carolina who have no means to hire counsel. Our system of justice still does not reach everyone. It is unavailable to many people. Our center helps to represent these people. There are many North Carolinians who have left us compass points, but I know of no others who left us a more important one. Julius Chambers is gone now and his chief legacy is this center.
CUTS TO JOSH STEIN'S BUDGET--PARTISAN, FOOLISH, SPITEFUL: "We have again looked at his budget, looked at those things that he is charged constitutionally and statutorily with doing, and believe that the funding level is more than adequate for him to be able to do his job," was the obfuscating legislative double-speak Berger offered to defend the cuts after the budget passed. Is it the truth? The dodgy replies to why the cuts were made don’t come close to anything open and honest. This is a personal attack against Attorney General Josh Stein. So what if people are fired and necessary services are lost? The goal is to send Stein a message. What do you have against Stein? That he’s a Democrat? That he is an Ivy League grad? That you don’t like his father, a noted activist lawyer? Doesn’t belong to the right clubs? You don’t like his voting record in the Senate? You have not hurt Josh Stein. You have hurt thousands of North Carolina citizens.
TRUMP SHOWS WITH TRANSGENDER DECISION HE IS UNFIT TO LEAD MILITARY: It is hard to think of any presidential act, before President Donald Trump’s Twitter announcement Wednesday that he was banning transgender individuals from the military, that was so plainly designed to use the military as a pawn in a self-centered political stunt. The act was among the most cynical and irresponsible of his presidency, designed to save the president from his own scandals. Never have we seen a president provoke such chaos in the military, acting with no regard for the welfare of the troops or the security of the nation, with no military justification whatsoever. Far from getting advice from military leaders to take this abrupt action, Trump blindsided them – and the entire military. Not just coincidentally, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on vacation when Trump made his announcement. So, yes, again Trump lied.
WHY THERE'S NO NEED FOR OFFSHORE DRILLING RIGHT NOW: Folks along the Lower Cape Fear have understandably been focused on GenX, but there are other environmental issues out there. Gov. Roy Cooper has made a smart choice on one of them. In a speech last week at Fort Macon State Park, Cooper announced that North Carolina will oppose oil and gas drilling off our coast. We know seismic testing for underwater oil and gas deposits can harm marine mammals and reduce commercial fish catches. Beyond that is the probability of a major spill. When something can go wrong, the chances are, sooner or later, it usually does. And oil rigs leaking, burning or exploding are not rare incidents. In the Gulf of Mexico, tar balls are still washing ashore after the Deepwater Horizon explosion of 2010. The oil spill killed roots on coastal trees, speeding the erosion of barrier islands. Oyster production has been halved. North Carolina’s tourist industry generates more than $20 billion in revenue annually and $2.1 billion in state and local taxes. Much of that tourism is based on the Tar Heel State’s pretty white beaches. When those beaches are covered in black slime and bird carcasses, those tourists will go somewhere else.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
MIKE HOYT: TRUMP TURNED BOY SCOUT MEETING INTO A SHALLOW, CHEAP CAMPAIGN RALLY: I am an Eagle Scout. I was lucky enough to have attended the National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America in Valley Forge in 1957, and it was one of the pivotal events of my life. On that hallowed ground, I joined almost 53,000 other scouts in celebrating and affirming what the Boy Scouts stand for: Honor, integrity, love of country. We were greeted by then-Vice President Richard Nixon. And now comes Donald Trump. Our current president managed in indelicate and even profane ways to turn this year’s event into a shallow, cheap campaign rally. How sad for America. Yet, I trust the Boy Scouts of America, whose motto is “Be Prepared.”
DEVON NEWTON: THEY'RE TAKING OUR MONEY: Our income and wealth are being stolen from us, and congressional and N.C. General Assembly Republicans are complicit. The share of total income and wealth held by the middle and working class in North Carolina, and the country, has dramatically declined over several decades, while that held by the top one percent has dramatically increased. The General Assembly and Congress, under the leadership of the Republican Party, continues to support legislation that suppresses wage growth by middle and working class families, and instead supports policies that redistribute our hard-earned income and wealth to the wealthiest Americans and corporations. When will the one percent be satisfied?
JOSEPH WOMBLE: RECONSIDER LIGHT RAIL: “Chapel Hill wants affordable housing, but creates an unaffordable town” (July 11) makes a drastic mistake by calling light rail initiatives an “economic train wreck.” Traffic between Research Triangle Park and surrounding towns is already a nightmare for many commuters. At some point in the near future, companies are going to stop coming to RTP because their employees simply do not want to sit in two or three hours of traffic every day. This could be a huge impediment to future economic growth in the Triangle. Light rail is the most viable and cost-effective solution to this problem, making it an economic boon – not a so-called “train wreck.” The current lack of affordable housing in Orange County is, of course, unacceptable. Affordable housing should be mandated along the light rail corridor to maintain places for low-income people in the region. But the state legislature’s “solution” – a cap on light rail funding – will only create more problems. The legislature and anti-government fearmongers should think long and hard about future economic development before they continue to shun light rail.