The new normal? Editorial asks the right question in hurricane’s aftermath

The city of Fayetteville has taken it on the chin in recent days from Hurricane Matthew and in the aftermath, an editorial in the Fayetteville Observer (“Is this what we’ll get from climate change?”) is asking a vitally important question that state political leaders have been ignoring for far too long:

“Is this the new normal for Fayetteville and for eastern North Carolina? It’s a question that should be on everyone’s mind as we mop up from our second bout of major flooding in just over a week.

And it should be on state leaders’ minds as well, as most of the counties east of I-95 prepare for flooding expected to be equal to or worse than the devastating floods caused by Hurricane Floyd 17 years ago. When Floyd put much of eastern North Carolina under water then, the experts called it the flood of the millennium – an extraordinary and epic drowning of the land.

But less than two decades later, here it is again. And we know ocean levels are steadily rising as well, which further complicates the problem in our easternmost counties.

It raises crucial questions about what measures need to be taken to protect life and property….

Even I-95 itself was flooded and impassable in places during and after the storm. What additional protection do we need for the East Coast’s most important north-south highway? Before these storms, reconstruction projects had raised the roadbed of the eastern sections of U.S. 64. Was it enough? Do many other roads need the same attention?…

However we choose to explain climate change, it’s here and altering our lives. We need some thoughtful discussion, informed by serious science, about how to proceed.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.


Another voice in Greenville condemns efforts to censor anthem protests of ECU band members

ecu-bandAs noted here and here last week, there have been some reprehensible reactions to the recent decision of several East Carolina University marching band members to “take a knee” during the playing of the national anthem. Perhaps the most ridiculous was Governor McCrory’s late week decision to pile on and to claim that band members somehow surrender their rights to free speech when they don their uniforms.

Happily, other sane voices are also speaking out. The following statement issued by the ECU School of Social Work issued the following “Resolution in Support of the East Carolina University Marching Band’s Exercise of Free Speech and Expression”:

“Whereas, the United States Constitution grants individuals the right of free expression;

Whereas, According to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (1996), ‘Social workers should act to engage in social and political actions that seeks to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.’

Whereas, the mission of The School of Social Work at East Carolina University includes  preparing professional social work practitioners who recognize the importance of human relationships by valuing difference, sustaining dignity, and fostering self-worth; provide ethical and effective social work services to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities; engage with stakeholders and colleagues in the development of practices that reduce marginalization and oppression and solve problems; collaborate with stakeholders, colleagues, community members, and organizations to enhance overall health, wellness, and quality of life; and, Advocate for social and economic justice,

Whereas, The School at Social Work of East Carolina University asserts that learning takes place in a student-centered environment, which promotes the success of all students, including first generation, non-traditional, military, minority scholars, and caregivers of children and older adults,

Whereas, The School of Social Work at East Carolina University contributes to the development and dissemination of knowledge and develops tomorrow’s leaders by preparing graduates with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to inspire positive change and to succeed in a global, multicultural society,

Whereas, The School of Social Work at East Carolina University is dedicated to fostering the free, safe, and open exchange of ideas,

Whereas, The School of Social Work at East Carolina University supports the right of the members of the ECU Marching band as well as all other members of the university community to engage in peaceful and non-violent protest, in whatever manner they choose; and Read more


The best editorial of the weekend: “Amateur hour”

mccrory-stithIn case you missed it over the weekend, an editorial in the Charlotte Observer provided a succinct summation of the McCrory’s administration’s performance surrounding the damning coal ash scandal testimony of state toxicologist Ken Rudo. As you will recall, NC Policy Watch reporter Lisa Sorg reported last week that McCrory’s chief of staff Thomas Stith called a hasty late night press conference to accuse Rudo of perjury — even though he had not read Rudo’s testimony.

The Observer rightfully entitled its editorial on the subject “Amateur hour continues in Raleigh.” Here’s the conclusion:

“Stith was not at the meeting in question and so has no first-hand knowledge of what happened. ‘My understanding is the governor did not participate in the meeting,’ Stith said in his deposition.

It is extraordinary that a governor’s chief of staff would call a press conference and accuse a respected toxicologist of lying under oath when he has no first-hand and very limited second-hand knowledge of what happened.

But it’s just the latest example of McCrory and his administration bumbling into avoidable mistakes amid a tough re-election battle. For example, state law bars candidates from coordinating with independent political groups. Yet McCrory planned to speak at a fundraiser hosted by such a group, Real Jobs NC, on Friday. That sparked concern at the state Board of Elections. (McCrory’s plans changed because of Hurricane Matthew, his camp says.)

And last month, McCrory’s campaign planted questions at a Charlotte event that were portrayed as coming from the public.

Rudo, the toxicologist, says he is a Republican who voted for McCrory in 2012. He is surely just one of thousands who now regret it.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Commentary, News

This week’s top five on NC Policy Watch

mccrory-stith1. McCrory’s chief of staff accused state scientist of perjury — without reading the testimony

When Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief of staff Thomas Stith accused a respected state toxicologist of lying under oath, he hadn’t even read the deposition in question.

And what Stith said in his own deposition, taken last month by the Southern Environmental Law Center, indicates that hearsay prompted him to hold a late-night press conference to accuse Ken Rudo of perjury. [Continue reading…]

scotus2. First Monday in October: Cases to watch in the new U.S. Supreme Court term

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016-17 term will commence today, and experts agree that with the court one justice down, some hot-button issues may not be so hot this year. The court’s docket is by no means set, and while there are issues of race, religion and immigration to be reviewed, the 40 cases justices have agreed to hear are, for the most part, very technical.

The court appears to be avoiding extremely partisan cases because of its hobbled state since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death and its current 4-4 ideological split among justices, which could lead to deadlocks. [Continue reading…]

ecu-band3. East Carolina officials fumble national anthem controversy: Banning courageous, peaceful protests and bowing to haters is no way for university officials to act

There’s been a great deal of hubbub inside the right-wing echo chamber in recent years about a supposed wave of “political correctness” and free speech “suppression” that has infected American college campuses. According to this narrative, conservative students and academics are constantly squelched in their efforts to exercise their First Amendment rights by “intolerant, leftist” administrators who, it is claimed, are bent upon stifling views with which they disagree. [Continue reading…]

college-costs4. NC’s plummeting commitment to higher ed is a recipe for economic disaster

Access to affordable postsecondary education is important to building a workforce in North Carolina that attracts and retains good-paying jobs across the state. Around two out of every three jobs in the state will require some form of post-secondary education by the year 2020. Our state can meet this challenge, but only if we make sure that more people can access and complete these programs. And the biggest barrier to this remains the unaffordability of post-secondary education.

Unfortunately, in recent years, North Carolina has fallen short on the higher education affordability front. [Continue reading…]

Image by Heidi May courtesy of 2.13.61

Image by Heidi May courtesy of 2.13.61

5. Five questions with Grammy-winning author, singer, actor and activist Henry Rollins

When Gov. Pat McCrory signed HB2 into law in March, huge music acts like Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam cancelled shows, boycotting the state to protest the discriminatory law. Other acts, like comedian Louis C.K., booked extra shows in the state and donated the money to pro-LGBT groups.

Henry Rollins, the Grammy-winning author, singer, actor and activist had no intention of canceling his three spoken-word shows in North Carolina – Oct. 15 in Asheville, Oct. 16 in Durham and Charlotte on October 18.

And he didn’t wait to hit the stage to air his views on HB2.  [Continue reading…]

 *****And, finally, don’t miss our next Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Wake County’s transit referendum: The case for a “yes” vote

Join us Tuesday, October 18 as N.C. Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation luncheon on Wake County’s November transit referendum with three of the county’s leading experts.

Click here for more information and to register.



Say what? McCrory is simply wrong about ECU and anthem protests

ecu-bandIn case you missed it, there was another inane take voiced late yesterday on the controversy surrounding the East Carolina University band and the peaceful protest by several band members during the playing of the national anthem at last week’s football game. Sadly, it came from North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who presumed to state his opinion about when and where it’s appropriate for students and others to exercise their First Amendment free speech rights.As Jane Stancill of Raleigh’s News & Observer reports:

“In videos of TV interviews distributed by McCrory’s re-election campaign, the governor called the band members’ kneeling protest ‘extremely inappropriate.’

‘They have every right to express their First Amendment rights outside the stadium,’ he said.

McCrory suggested that the band members were running afoul of the rules when they made a statement on the football field in solidarity with demonstrations nationally against police shootings of African-Americans.

‘There are rules and guidelines in our society, and when you put on the uniform of a band you have to follow the rules and guidelines of that uniform,’ McCrory added. ‘I wonder if we had every member of every band start going, ‘I’ve got a political opinion,’ and they just walk away from the performance and hold up a sign.’”

Fortunately, Allen Johnson of the Greensboro News & Record has some on-the-money criticism for the Guv:

“So, the first amendment does not apply in football stadiums?

Where do you draw the line?

What about the fan who sits behind home plate at most Washington Nationals baseball games wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat?

What about appearances by politicians during halftimes?

Or first pitches tossed by presidents and governors?

What about the fans who boo when presidents and governors toss out first pitches? Read more