WORK TOGETHER TO MEET STATE'S CRITICAL 2020 HEALTH NEEDS: In 2019, the state watched as labor and delivery services closed in neighboring rural communities. This is tragic. No mother should have to worry about how she is going to get care or where she will deliver her baby. We see hospitals in rural parts of the country continuing to close their doors and North Carolina is not immune. This continues to be a crisis and we must do better. For eastern North Carolina, expanding Medicaid, designing a reasonable solution to resolve State Health Plan liabilities and funding a new Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University must be a priority for the state. Expanding Medicaid will improve access to care, something we desperately need not only in the East, but also throughout the state. North Carolinians are subsidizing care in 37 other states that have expanded Medicaid while too many North Carolinians struggle.
AS THE 2020 VOTE APPROACHES, REMEMBER THE IMPACT OF 2010 ELECTION: In 2011, Republicans passed what are generally considered the most gerrymandered redistricting maps in the nation. The maps helped elect a veto-proof Republican legislative majority in 2012. The election of Republican Pat McCrory as governor sealed GOP control. Republican actions since the 2010 vote have divided the state and drawn embarrassing national attention: a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (the last such amendment in the nation and since ruled unconstitutional); the HB2 law targeting transgender people battered the state’s image and its economy; the elimination of a progressive income tax and passing of tax cuts favoring big corporations and the wealthy that cost the state $3.5 billion annually in lost revenue; years of inadequate school funding that triggered massive protest marches by teachers; the mismanagement of the UNC Board of Governors by members appointed solely for their political loyalty; the cruel refusal to expand Medicaid that has left hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians without medical insurance; and a run of court cases in which the legislature’s laws have been found to be unconstitutional.
JUDGE OFFERS NC A CHANCE TO GET VOTER ID LAW RIGHT: No one should have a problem with appropriately requiring, through use of photo identification, a person who shows up to vote is the same person that met the strict test to register. Requiring that person to do any more, such as making the types of photo identification so limited as to render it difficult to impossible for significant blocks of voters, isn’t about assuring a fair vote but imposing discrimination. All those who favor fair elections and support a reasonable requirement for photo identification at the polling place, should welcome Judge Bigg’s injunction. They should commit to work with the court to make sure North Carolina acts to assure fair elections and not concoct a scheme to deny blocks of voters of their most basic right in a representative government.
WAKE UP REPUBLICANS, YOUR PARTY STANDS FOR ALL THE WRONG THINGS NOW: In a long-forgotten era — say, four years ago — such a question would have elicited a very different answer. Though there was disagreement over specific issues, most Republicans would have said the party stood for some basic principles: fiscal sanity, free trade, strong on Russia, and that character and personal responsibility count. Today it’s not that the Republican Party has forgotten these issues and values; instead, it actively opposes all of them. Republicans are now officially the character-doesn’t-count party, the personal-responsibility-just-proves-you-have-failed-to-blame-the-other-guy party, the deficit-doesn’t-matter party, the Russia-is-our-ally party, and the I’m-right-and-you-are-human-scum party. Yes, it’s President Trump’s party now, but it stands only for what he has just tweeted. A party without a governing theory, a higher purpose or a clear moral direction is nothing more than a cartel, a syndicate that exists only to advance itself. There is no organized, coherent purpose other than the acquisition and maintenance of power.
AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IS BROKEN. SULEIMANI'S KILLING PROVES IT: The National Security Council would have undoubtedly asked the intelligence community for a detailed assessment of Iran’s possible responses to the strike. Analysts would have underscored the inevitability of lethal attacks on Americans and American interests: terrorist attacks on embassies or other civilian or military facilities in the Middle East and farther afield, military escalation on the ground in Syria or Iraq, cyberattacks, the closing of the Strait of Hormuz, Hezbollah attacks on Israel, further operations targeting Gulf States’ oil infrastructure, and accelerating movement toward nuclear breakout. Drilling deeper, intelligence analysts could have stressed the possibility that the strike on General Suleimani might encourage a new strain of transnational terrorism. While acknowledging that the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in the Middle East, has largely resisted venturing outside the Middle East for the past 25 years, they would have stressed that it is considered the most capable nonstate armed group in the world, the A Team to Al Qaeda’s B Team — a force that was shaped and nurtured by General Suleimani himself.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SCOTT NEIDICH: DEAN ARP IS HOLDING BACK SOLAR REBATES: As a final hurrah for 2019, Duke Energy confirmed that I will not be receiving the expected $4,760 rebate after spending more than $20,000 on a solar project for my home. And that there are dozens of North Carolinians in an identical situation. How did so many of us get here? Look no further than Rep. Dean Arp, co-chairman of the Energy and Public Utilities committee. I wrote and called Arp, spoke with his assistants, and made many efforts to ensure he knew this problem was coming to dozens of North Carolinians. He never brought bills up for consideration that could have fixed the problem (like HB 889) — despite the support of his co-chair, John Szoka. Solar energy is good for the energy grid, the planet, and for North Carolina. But as long as this legislation goes unfixed, don’t plan on any Duke Energy incentives to help make it good for your wallet.
VIRGINIA KNOWLTON MARCUS: WE NEED TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF OUR DISABLED CITIZENS: The N&O touched on an urgent issue in “NC families struggle to find housing for adults with disabilities” (Dec. 27). These families are caught in a system that is failing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. North Carolina has been moving in the wrong direction in recent years. More individuals are being institutionalized because they do not receive the support they need to stay at home. This damages their quality of life and violates federal law. In Olmstead v. L.C. the Supreme Court held that states may not require people with disabilities to enter institutions if they could be supported at home. It is not a question of cost; it’s vastly more expensive to institutionalize someone than to provide support at home. Rather, the service delivery system is broken, with too few providers and a focus on short-term cost cutting. This article showed the human consequences, from perpetual crises, to family upheaval, to institutionalization.
WILLIAM DAVID AUSTIN: CHERIE BERRY'S TENURE AS LABOR SECRETARY IS SHAMEFUL: Regarding “After workers die, North Carolina shields many employers from biggest penalties,” (Dec. 22) Thank goodness the N&O still has the resources to research and expose the needless deaths in N.C. workplaces that have been caused, in part, by the policies of feckless N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry. Reading the story of Dalin Adrong’s unnecessary and horrible death was heartbreaking, and the analysis of the N.C. Labor Department’s reaction sickening. A safety device that would have saved Dalin “had been inoperable for three months, had failed repeatedly over the years and (had been the subject of) a serious violation in 2012.” Contributions to Berry’s re-election campaigns by cost-cutting businesses have kept her in office for an agonizing 20 years. In return, North Carolina gets the slap-on-the-wrist-for-violations policies that constitute Berry’s “partnership with business” — yet are sometimes deadly for N.C. workers