Commentary

Looks like those leftist tree huggers at the EPA are at it again. This is from AP:

“The Obama administration floated a plan Tuesday that for the first time would open up a broad swath of the Atlantic Coast to drilling, even as it moved to restrict drilling in environmentally-sensitive areas off Alaska.

The proposal envisions auctioning areas located more than 50 miles off Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia to oil companies come 2021, long after President Barack Obama leaves office. For decades, oil companies have been barred from drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, where a moratorium was in place up until 2008.”

Meanwhile, the good folks at Environment NC have released this excellent statement in response to the Obama administration’s momentary departure from rationality:

“New plan puts North Carolina in the cross-hairs for offshore oil drilling and exploration

Raleigh, NC- Today, Secretary Sally Jewel and the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) released the five-year draft plan for offshore oil drilling, and North Carolina is front and center.

‘From Kitty Hawk to Cape Hatteras, the Outer Banks are one of North Carolina’s shining gems,’ said Dave Rogers, Environment North Carolina state director. ‘We’re putting our natural heritage at risk if we allow offshore drilling off our coasts.’

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News

Loretta Lynch, the North Carolina native who made her way from Durham to Brooklyn and became the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will face a trial by fire of her own tomorrow as confirmation hearings open for her nomination to be the nation’s next Attorney General.

If confirmed, Lynch — the daughter of a black Baptist minister and a school librarian who once picked cotton in the eastern part of this state — will become the first African-American woman to serve in that role.

“She will face an exceptional amount of her time responding to Congress,” Robert Raben, a consultant and the former assistant attorney general for legislative affairs in the Clinton administration, said in this Washington Post profile. “And a big chunk of the time is partisan and political shenanigans. With the complete control of Congress by another party, there’s maximum possibility that there’s going to be an onslaught of oversight to tie up the leadership of the department and humiliate the president.”

Certainly by all accounts in the Post piece, Lynch will weather the hearings in typical “unflappable” style.

Her former Harvard Law School classmate and colleague at New York’s Cahill Gordon & Reindel,  Annette Gordon-Reed, called her “a Southern steel-magnolia-type person — very, very strong. But she’s also one of the funniest people I know.”

Lynch lived through vestiges of the Jim Crow South through her parents’ experiences and also had a share of her own. Per the Post:

Loretta E. Lynch grew up in a different time. But she, too, experienced remnants of the old South. She did so well on a standardized test in her mostly white elementary school that she was asked to take it again. (She scored even higher the second time.)

And in 1977, although she was the top student in her senior class, the administrators of Durham High School asked her to share the honor with two others, including a white student, to avoid the controversy they feared would follow having the first lone black valedictorian.

Lynch will testify on Wednesday, followed by nine witnesses invited by the Judiciary Committee to appear on Thursday.

Those witnesses include a journalist and two professors — Republican invitees — who oppose most of what the Justice Department has done under the Obama administration, as well as a former U.S. Attorney who supports Lynch, a former FBI agent who worked closely with her, and a professor who supports Obama immigration policies.

Legal Times has more on the witnesses here.

Read more on the Lynch nomination here and here.

 

News

 

The exoneration of Joseph Sledge last week by a three-judge panel in Bladen County led many of us to wonder just how many others had been wrongfully convicted and remain imprisoned in North Carolina.

Sledge, convicted in 1978 of the murders of two eastern North Carolina women, became the first person freed here this year and follows the exonerations of four in 2014 –Michael Parker, Henry McCollum, Leon Brown, and Willie Womble.

The good news, per this post from Marcia Coyle at the National Law Journal, is that more prosecutors across the country are identifying and investigating claims of innocence — a trend that led to 125 exonerations in 2014, a record number.

That number — from a new report by the National Registry of Exonerations, a project at the University of Michigan Law School — is a 37 percent increase over 2012 and 2013.

The authors of the report attribute that growth to the work of Conviction Integrity Units in several states as well as to an expanded view of crimes worthy of investigation and evidence to be reviewed:

[T]he legal system is increasingly willing to act on innocence claims that have often been ignored: those without biological evidence or with no perpetrator who can be identified because in fact no crime was committed; cases with comparatively light sentences; and judgments based on guilty pleas by defendants who accepted plea bargains to avoid pre-trial detention and the risk of harsher punishment after trial.

Some of the other trends from the report, as noted by Coyle:

  • Among the 15 conviction integrity units now operating, seven produced exonerations. Three-quarters of the units’ exonerations through 2014 (68 out of 90) came in three offices: Dallas and Harris counties, Texas; and Kings County, N.Y.
  • Forty-seven of the 125 exonerees in 2014—or 38 percent—had pleaded guilty to the crimes. And almost all drug crime exonerations (36 of 39) were for convictions based on guilty pleas.
  • A total of 67 of the 2014 exonerations—54 percent—were initiated by law enforcement or obtained with law enforcement cooperation—the highest annual total.
  • The number of non-DNA exonerations rose to an all-time high of 103, more than all exonerations DNA and non-DNA combined, in any single previous year.
  • Six death-sentenced prisoners were exonerated in 2014, the most since 2009. Each had been imprisoned for 30 years or more.
  • Almost three-quarters of exonerations since 1989 (1,124 of 1,535) were for homicides or sex crimes including child sex abuse. But the proportion of exonerations that did not involve those crimes has been growing steadily, from 25 percent of all cases between 1989 and the end of 1993 (the earliest five-year period covered by the registry) to 34 percent for 2010 through 2014 (the most recent five-year period).

 

 

Commentary

TeachersRaleigh’s News & Observer features a rather strange op-ed this morning by a Duke University Master’s student who once gave teaching a try and who is also the husband of a current, relatively young public school teacher. In it, the author praises last year’s convoluted state teacher pay plan as “brilliant” because it targets young teachers like his wife for big raises.

According to the author, raising pay for young teachers “stopped the bleeding” of teacher exoduses and makes sense because young teachers are full of great new ideas and most older teachers ain’t going anywhere anyway. He goes on to “praise” the pay plan as an amoral business move that has “quelled public unrest.”

“No one is wearing red anymore, Moral Mondays are just Mondays now, public support is waning and the Republicans won the elections. The battle is over, teachers lost and no one is listening anymore.”

To which, all a body can say in response is: Wow – it’s good to know that someone with such opinions and values isn’t in the public schools anymore. Read More

News

Members of a State Board of Education committee met Monday to consider a draft agreement with winners of a virtual charter school pilot program that would require them to provide computers or other technology to needy students.

Explaining that equal opportunities must be provided to every child in accordance with the state constitution, N.C. Office of Charter Schools Director Joel Medley outlined the provision in the agreement that would force virtual charter schools to provide any student, should she need it, with a computer or internet access at no cost.

The provision reads:

1.     Accessibility

7.1       Pursuant to the Constitution of North Carolina which declares that “equal opportunities shall be provided for all students, the Virtual Charter School cannot deny a child access to this program.  If a child is properly admitted through the lottery but cannot afford the appropriate connectivity or equipment, the Virtual Charter School shall provide that access and equipment at no cost to the family

7.2       The Nonprofit will ensure that all of its advertising and marketing materials includes a statement that no child will be denied admission on account of inability to afford the necessary equipment and connectivity.

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