Commentary

Caitlyn Jenner has idea for fellow Republicans on bathroom safety (Video)

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the video below from the national political news site Politico featuring Caitlyn Jenner’s observations on the question of whether transgender Americans should have access to the restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Jenner, a Republican, made the comments at the national Republican convention in Cleveland. It would be fascinating to hear what Jenner’s fellow GOP’ers in the North Carolina delegation would have to say.

Commentary, News

Krzyzewski, Gottfried, other NC coaches condemn HB2

Image: www.CoachK.com

Image: www.CoachK.com

Mark Gottfried, the new NC State men's basketball coach, addresses the media during the press conference.

Image: www.ncsu.edu

In case you missed it late yesterday, Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and N.C. State men’s hoops coach Mark Gottfried have added their names to the list of prominent people panning North Carolina’s LGBT discrimination law, HB2.

USA Today reports:

As Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski prepares to take the U.S. men’s national basketball team to the Rio Olympics, his thoughts turned this week to his home of North Carolina and the controversial anti-LGBT law that was passed in March.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Krzyzewski told USA TODAY Sports. “That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Krzyzewski spoke out less than a week after the Blue Devils released their schedule for the coming season and it was revealed Albany will not be traveling to Durham as planned to play on Nov. 12 as part of the Hall of Fame tournament. The change is the result of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order banning publicly funded, non-essential travel to North Carolina as result of House Bill 2….

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he plans to move the 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte, which would cost the city an estimated $100 million, should HB2 not be rescinded.

North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said he was “appalled” by the bill and is embarrassed when he goes on recruiting visits and parents ask about it.

“I’m against any law that allows discrimination, whether that’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation,” Gottfried told USA TODAY Sports. “I don’t understand how someone can support this. I think the people at N.C. State, we believe in inclusion. Being a resident of the state, for me and my family, it’s been frustrating.”

Other coaches throughout the state have expressed their disappointment with the bill, including North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Elon’s Matt Matheny, who grew up in North Carolina and has coached there since the early 1990s, previously serving at Davidson as an assistant.

“What I love about coaching is that I can sit down with players of different backgrounds,” Matheny said. “It’s important to expose players to what’s going on outside the basketball court. It’s important that they’re aware of issues that our state and our country faces. As coaches, we’re the leaders. It’s important that we as coaches at programs — big or small — use our platform to promote a positive message.”

Commentary

Nation’s most conservative circuit court strikes down Texas’ voter id law. Implications for NC?

Voting rightsAs challenges to the voter ID laws in North Carolina and elsewhere continue, it is of note that, today, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals — a groups of judges that likely comprise the nation’s most conservative federal appeals panel — affirmed a lower court decision to strike down Texas’ voter ID requirement. Together, the various opinions in the decision run to 203 pages, so there’s lots off deciphering ahead. This is the initial quick take the Texas Tribune:

“Texas’ voter identification law violates the U.S. law prohibiting racial discrimination in elections, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. 

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed previous rulings that the 2011 voter ID law — which stipulates the types of photo identification election officials can and cannot accept at the polls — does not comply with the Voting Rights Act.

The full court’s ruling delivered the strongest blow yet to what is widely viewed as the nation’s strictest voter ID law. Under the law, most citizens (some, like people with disabilities, can be exempt) must show one of a handful of types of identification before their ballots can be counted: a state driver’s license or ID card, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card, or a U.S citizenship certificate with a photo.

Texas’ losing streak continued in its efforts to defend its law, fighting challenges from the U.S. Department of Justice, minority groups and voting rights advocates.”

This section from the majority opinion (pages 21 and 22), however, sure seems as if it would be relevant here (note – citations have been omitted): Read more

Commentary

The Right’s war on higher education in NC continues

Higher Education Works FdtnThe good people at the Higher Education Works Foundation are out with another fine essay documenting and critiquing the latest installment in the Right’s ideological assault on public higher education in North Carolina. This is from a new and well-footnoted post entitled “A continuing retreat”:

“North Carolina’s public universities are obliged to cut $62.8 million this year.  That’s what lawmakers required in the state budget signed into law this month.

It’s not a devastating amount.  Chancellors will work to limit the damage for students, researchers, and programs that directly impact regional economies.

But it’s yet another decision to disinvest from a University system that has already trimmed $700 million since 2008.  And it didn’t have to happen.

Legislators entered the budget session with a hefty surplus, after all. They could have avoided the cuts and still had more than $300 million left. They could have used the state’s improving tax revenue to reinvest in institutions that have seen state support per student decline 20% since 2008.

Instead, they chose to continue a trend of disinvestment from public higher education, a trend that has directly contributed to the rising cost of tuition.”

The post then goes on to take the lead cheerleaders for the cuts — the transparently partisan Pope Center for to Dismantle Higher Education — to task:

“Writing in praise of higher-ed cutbacks on behalf of the Pope Center for Higher Education, Jenna Ashley Robinson says such cuts help balance the budget and force universities to ‘eliminate wasteful and inefficient spending on campus.’

Leaving aside that the state budget was plenty balanced without cuts to education, Robinson ignores how deeply state institutions already trimmed expenses.

From 2008-09 to 2013-14, North Carolina’s public universities produced 18% more graduates while spending 15% less cost per degree when accounting for inflation – they produced more graduates for less money.

But eventually, less funding simply means less higher education.  Less money for teachers, less money for life-changing research, less money to create ripples across regional economies, less money for the high-quality education North Carolina needs to remain competitive.

The Pope Center’s Robinson calls for exactly that:  Recurring cuts, implemented year after year, regardless of budget needs or education goals.

That kind of ideological retreat from public education makes little sense at a time when North Carolina is growing, when the state’s economy is signaling a need for more well-educated workers, and public universities are reeling from almost a decade of disinvestment.”

Click here to read the entire post, the footnotes and a powerful chart documenting the cuts.

Commentary

Hopeful news: NC wind farm taking shape; will generate enough power for more than 60,000 homes

AmazonWindFarm

Image: Amazon.com

Notwithstanding the efforts of North Carolina’s fossil fuel-loving lawmakers to scuttle it and other such promising efforts, a long-planned wind farm is starting to take shape in northeastern North Carolina.

As the Outer Banks Sentinel reports, the facility will ultimately feature 150 giant wind turbines that will reach nearly 500 feet in the air. One-hundred and four turbines in Phase 1 of the project are expected to be in place by November.

“Situated on a 34-square-mile site 10 miles northwest of Elizabeth City, spanning 22,000 acres of farmland owned by more than 60 farmers in Pasquotank and Perquimans Counties, the wind farm is on track to begin producing power by the end of 2016.

Craig Poff, the Business Development Director for Iberdrola, which has partnered with Amazon Web Services to finance the project, called it the ‘largest construction undertaking in eastern North Carolina….’

Extensive testing of each turbine to ‘make sure that everything is operating properly and safely’ will also be completed in November. Each turbine is equipped with sensors measuring wind direction, velocity and force and automatically directing “constant changes” in the blades’ orientation, pitch and yaw to capture maximum energy output.

By the time the project’s second phase is complete, with a less definite timeline, there will be 150 wind turbines in place, generating 300 megawatts of electricity — enough to power more than 61,000 homes — and providing millions of dollars in tax and landowner revenue for decades to come, according to company spokesmen.”

This is, in other words, really encouraging news — both from an environmental and economic development perspective. This is not to say that wind farms are perfect or that there won’t be some negative impacts, but they clearly pale in comparison to the planet-threatening impacts of ever-expanding fossil fuel use. Congratulations to all who are part of making this project happen