Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


NOBODY ASKED FOR THIS WIND MORATORIUM: The fact that the only way to pass this was to hijack a consensus stakeholder bill shows just how unpopular and unnecessary this policy is in North Carolina. A wind moratorium ultimately hurts the residents of eastern North Carolina, which could lose $1 billion in investments from two to three projects currently under development. It sends a signal to businesses trying to invest in the state that regulations are unpredictable and not always grounded in fact. This moratorium threatens individual property rights and denies rural economies one of the best economic development opportunities available to them. For Brown to put the renewable energy industry, the utility and his fellow legislators in the position of a significant compromise without any discussion is disturbing.

RURAL HOSPITAL IN BANKRUPTCY; LEGISLATORS WON'T EXPAND MEDICAID: In the last seven years, four rural hospitals in the state have closed or dramatically changed their services: Blowing Rock Hospital became a rehabilitation facility; Yadkin Valley Community hospital closed, Franklin Hospital in Louisburg ended operations and Pungo Hospital in Belhaven closed. There are plenty of reasons why Morehead, like many rural hospitals across the state and nation, have fallen on hard financial times. But in North Carolina – and Rockingham County in particular – it is neither inaccurate nor unfair to point one finger squarely at the state’s most powerful legislator. Berger has led the charge to block federally-funded expansion of Medicaid – that would provide health coverage to more than a half-million North Carolinians who don’t have it now. He’s even gone to court to block Gov. Roy Cooper’s efforts to accept the aid and expand health coverage. Don’t think for a second Berger’s opposition to Medicaid expansion doesn’t have a cost to his community.

THE HOUSE OF DONALD TRUMP LACKS MORALITY: The Donald Trump Jr. we see through the Russia scandal story is not malevolent: He seems to be simply oblivious to the idea that ethical concerns could possibly play a role in everyday life. When the Russian government offer came across his email, there doesn’t seem to have been a flicker of concern. Instead, he replied with that tone of simple glee that we remember from other scandals. “Can you smell money?!?!?!?!” Jack Abramoff emailed a co-conspirator during his lobbying and casino fraud shenanigans. That’s the same tone as Don Jr.’s “I love it” when offered a chance to conspire with a hostile power. A person capable of this instant joy and enthusiasm isn’t overcoming any internal ethical hurdles. It’s just a greedy boy grabbing sweets.

LEGISLATURE: STINGY WITH TEACHERS AND STATE WORKERS, GENEROUS WITH FAT CATS: Stingy raises and shrinking benefits in the new state budget amount to an assault on state workers that threatens the delivery of basic public services and the ability of school children to learn. If not significantly addressed soon, the quality of life in North Carolina will suffer. The General Assembly excessively bulked up a “rainy day” fund and lavished tax breaks on corporations and the wealthy. Those same legislators then feign that a scarcity of resources prevents them from providing deserved and realistic pay increases and reasonable benefits for teachers, school administrators and state workers. For political leaders who often offer up a mantra of running government like a business, they behave like people seeking to run the business of state government into the ground.

TRUMP'S VOTER FRAUD COMMISSION IGNORES THE REAL THREAT TO US ELECTIONS: President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday about “forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit” to guard against election hacking — with Russia! At the same time, many of the people who run American elections were worrying about future threats. The occasion was the annual meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State in Indianapolis. “But both Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, who are responsible for carrying out elections in many states, said they have been frustrated in recent months by a lack of information from federal intelligence officials on allegations of Russian meddling with the vote,” The South Bend Tribune reported Monday. The Russians did not tamper with any votes in last year’s presidential election. But they did probe some voter registration systems, possibly exploring the infrastructure of U.S. elections to prepare for more aggressive actions in the future.


ELI PORRAS: FARM BILL SHAMEFUL: Regarding “NC legislature moves to stifle farmworkers’ unions” (June 28): The NC General Assembly just passed Farm Bill S615 with an anti-union amendment sneaked in at the last minute by a farmer elected to the NC Legislature. Farm Bill S615 is a shameful abuse of power that aims at stopping the union from being able to help those who need it. I am a witness that organizations and unions like the Farm Labor Organizing Committee are of incredible value. For 7 years, I have come from Mexico to work in the fields of North Carolina through the H-2A Visa Program. In 2013, my wife had to have an emergency surgery, and I returned to Mexico. Before leaving, my boss told me that I wouldn’t have any issues returning the next year. However, when I went to visit the labor recruiter in Mexico the following year, they told me that I was permanently ineligible to return. With the help of FLOC, I filed a grievance and won my job back. Thanks to the union I have a job in this great country, and that is why I am calling on Gov. Roy Cooper to veto this bill.

BETTY MALLOY: "DECARCERATE" OUR PRISONS: The Smart Decarceration Initiative (SDI) aims to build societal capacity to reduce incarceration rates in ways that are effective, sustainable and socially just. If a crime that warranted severe sentencing yesterday is no longer in effect, then the amount of people in our nation’s criminal justice system could be reduced by a policy or law as there will be fewer potential offenders. But we should consider those persons currently eking out lengthy sentences imposed during the “War on Drugs” campaign. Now, I’m not advocating for blanket pardons or even clemency for every person who was ever handed down a sentence for a drug conviction. This is where the word “smart” comes in. The reality is, persons who became ensnared in the criminal justice system through small, non-violent possessions as young people, might not be prisoners if they had been born into a different time, place or circumstances. Smart Decarceration means to re-evaluate what criminality means and utilizing best practices, keep people from becoming “stamped” as future criminals. I am not some “bleeding-heart liberal” who finds issue with the systems and processes that help to hold our society together. In fact, I am renowned among my friends for my oft-conservative perspectives. But there is something inherently wrong with a society that cannot redress the grievances of the past through effective and cost saving policy.

ELLEN BETTS: BETTER TOOLS AND TRAINING COULD HAVE PREVENTED JAILED TEEN'S SUICIDE: As a trained and licensed mental health professional for many years, I have taught Crisis Intervention Training (“CIT”) for officers in law enforcement, including those working in jails and prisons. This training helps them to understand signs and symptoms of mental illness and crisis behaviors and steps necessary to intervene. Some participants welcomed the opportunity to better understand those in their care who are mentally ill or in crisis. Other officers said that their job was to maintain order, that their primary tool for doing so was physical force. From this report, the officers appeared indifferent to the information alerting them that the teenager was having a mental health crisis. Perhaps if they had received (and applied) crisis training, the outcome would have been different. Institution administrators, as well as officers, can learn to understand and respond to mental health issues effectively. The tools for improvement exist and are available.