‘Heartbroken’ by ‘unspeakable evil’: NC politicos react to Texas mass shooting that leaves 19 children dead

North Carolina lawmakers are responding to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas in which an 18-year-old fatally shot 19 children and two adults at an elementary school. A Border Patrol agent shot the teenage gunman ending the rampage. Tuesday’s attack at Robb Elementary School came ten days after a deadly racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo, New York.

The following is a sampling of reaction from North Carolina’s elected officials:

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Madison Cawthorn, boy blunder

When is someone going to report on the very worst thing about Madison Cawthorn?

The freshman congressman from Western North Carolina may lack the name recognition of Will “Bonecrusher” Smith, but to those of us who live in the Tar Heel state, he’s omnipresent as the aroma of chicken houses down east. (And, yes, it does smell like money to me.)

Cawthorn, all brash all the time, has been in the news a lot lately because of the ridiculous orgy-gate, in which he claimed to be recruited by elderly GOP types to participate in sex parties. We know they were GOP stalwarts because he said they were people he had “looked up to my whole life.”

While Cawthorn was drawing a generational divide (old v. young), he forgot that’s not how it works. You’re only allowed to make up lies about Democrats, women, minorities and the mainstream media, not your own party. What a dunderhead! This did not go over well with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who took Cawthorn to the woodshed and emerged with the tight-lipped pronouncement the kid admitted he made it all up. McCarthy, sounding like a tent evangelist for the first time in his life, told Cawthorn it was time for him to turn his life around.

Amen.

No stranger to lying (Google the list of documented lies; I honestly don’t have the space here), the 26-year-old boy blunder doesn’t get the attention he should for the new, very worst thing about him: He hates older people. Look at what he just accused the “60 and 70 year old’s” in Congress of doing.

Constantly yammering about his role as the youthful face of a new Republicanism, Cawthorn never misses a chance to sneer at his elders. All that papery skin. Blech.

He wears his ball cap with the bill on the side! He knows what a “key bump” of cocaine is! He called Biden an “inept geriatric despot.” Just haaaaad to include “geriatric,” didn’t ya, Maddy?

He wants those of us on Social Security to get off the dole and get a freakin’ job. In fact, Cawthorn wants to reduce Social Security by about a third and he wants to “incentivize people to work and get off entitlement programs like Social Security.” Hey, Junior. It’s called entitlement because I’m entitled to it on account of I paid into it for decades.

Cawthorn’s noisy contempt for older Americans is extraordinary—and extraordinarily stupid—when you consider the demographic of his blue-collar district—retired Republicans who don’t like being told they are layabouts after working 40 plus years in the furniture factory. Who can forget him cockily running against a 62-year-old retired Air Force Colonel who ran against him in 2020? Why you little…

Cawthorn’s constant nibbling on the hands that feed him is part of the reason he is facing SEVEN challengers in the primary May 17. He’s so bad at his job, seven Republicans are lined up to take him down. Good on ‘em.

It won’t be easy to get rid of the whippersnapper. Cawthorn’s got plenty of campaign money to counter the whole embarrassing non-orgy thing. Truth is, he’s made no secret that he would much prefer to represent a younger, hipper crowd. But of course.

When there was talk of redistricting in a way that would’ve effectively eliminated Cawthorn’s current corner of the west, he giddily pivoted to Charlotte. There are young people in them thar high rises—20 somethings with tech jobs and season tickets to the new pro soccer franchise.

In the end, the Charlotte-area redistricting favored Democrats, so he slunk home, not nearly as contrite as he should’ve been. Older folks know the most important lesson of all: “Dance with the one that brung ya.”

Maddy, you should heed that. Bruh.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write to her at [email protected].

Virginia health providers: “Kids are completely excited about getting a shot.”

Editor’s note: Earlier this week, Policy Watch reported on North Carolina’s progress in administering 24,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 5 to 11. Our neighbors to the north report nearly 5 percent of Virginia’s 5 to 11-year-olds have gotten their first doses and officials are hoping for continued demand. The Virginia Mercury’s Kate Masters reports:

7 year old Lydia Melo gets a COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo credit: Duke University)

More than 35,000 children were vaccinated in the first week of Virginia’s pediatric rollout

Among the things that Pearl Barry is excited to do once she’s fully vaccinated: hang out with friends, eat inside at restaurants and visit SkyZone, a sprawling indoor trampoline park.

“I mean, obviously,” said the eight-year-old from Bon Air. “Who wouldn’t be?” She got her first dose of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine on Wednesday night, and besides the hour-long wait at her local Walgreens, the process went relatively smoothly. The shot itself felt like the smallest pinch ever, Pearl said — more like a mosquito bite. And her dad, Tim Barry, was equally relieved to see both Pearl and her 5-year-old sister, June, take their first steps toward full immunization.

“Pearl probably asks to go to SkyZone two or three times a week,” he said. “So we’re really excited to have this coincide with Christmas and be able to be more free about seeing friends and family.”

Across Virginia, other parents are feeling the same jubilation. In the first week after federal officials authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds, more than 35,000 children received their first dose — close to 5 percent of the state’s total population in that age group, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health.

The rush by many families to embrace pediatric vaccines has been a relief for state health officials after national polling (conducted before the federal authorization) indicated only 27 percent of parents planned to get their children immunized “right away.” VDH hasn’t released demographic data on the 5 to 11-year-olds who have already received their first doses, making it difficult to determine whether disparities have emerged between different groups in getting the shots. Read more

After one year, the HOPE Program has paid out $461 million to help keep families in homes

The NC Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program has paid out more than $461 million to landlords and utility companies on behalf of 135,213 families struggling to pay rent or keep the lights on during the pandemic, the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency reported Wednesday on the program’s first anniversary.

The HOPE Program is ranked second in the nation for number of households served, while North Carolina ranks sixth for spending of federal Emergency Rental Assistance money. The HOPE Program helps families avoid evictions and utility service disconnections.

In total, $520.2 million has been awarded to the families, with $461 million already paid to landlords.

“In its first year, the HOPE Program has helped more than 135,000 North Carolina families stay safe and warm in their homes during the pandemic,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news release. “HOPE will continue to pay landlords and utility companies to keep low-income renters in their homes with the lights on as we recover in the months ahead.”

Last month, Policy Watch reported that North Carolina educators’ are  concerned about what they predict will be an explosion of students experiencing homelessness in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a federal moratorium on evictions.

North Carolina received $23.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act-Homeless Children and Youth relief funds to address the “urgent needs that have evolved from the pandemic.” Districts may use the money to address the social, emotional and mental health needs of students, trauma-informed care training for staff and to hire staff for local homeless education programs at the district and state level.

The HOPE Program has provided an economic boost to landlords who experienced financial setbacks due to COVID-19, program officials reported. During the second phase of HOPE that began May 17, the program has mailed checks to 30,727 landlords and more than 5,500 landlords have contacted HOPE to refer tenants, the news release said.

The program continues to accept landlord referrals of tenants struggling to pay rent due to the pandemic. Landlords may submit tenant names and contact information through the HOPE Program website or by contacting the HOPE Call Center at 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467).

HOPE also continues to accept applications for rent and utility bill assistance from low-income renters in 88 counties. Applicants can apply online at HOPE.NC.gov or call 888-9ASK-HOPE (888-927-5467) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are available to assist callers.

Senate committee advances controversial bill to restrict what can be taught in state’s schools

A controversial Republican-backed bill to restrict what can be taught in schools about America’s racial past crossed another hurdle Wednesday.

House Bill 324 received a favorable report from the Rules and Operations Committee of the Senate. The Senate’s Education/Higher Committee gave the bill a favorable nod Tuesday.

Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican from Rockingham, told colleagues that the bill doesn’t prohibit educators from teaching hard truths about America’s history.

“It does call for the limitation on promoting certain concepts,” Berger said, adding that the bill would prohibit teachers from “indoctrinating” students with what critics of public education contend is liberal political ideology.

When Sen. Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County asked Berger why HB 324 is necessary, Berger explained that it addresses concerns parents have about what children are taught in schools.

“If you have witnessed what is taking place at school board meetings across the state, where parents and members of the public are coming forward expressing concern about [teacher] training sessions that are taking place, expressing concerns about some aspects of what these parents feel are indoctrination of their children; I think this bill is responding to those concerns that have been expressed by those parents,” Berger said.

Sen. Joyce Waddell, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, asked if the curricula adopted by the State Board of Education ensure teachers don’t stray off course.

“Aren’t they [state school board members] the ones who put the curriculum in place for the public schools?” Waddell asked.

Berger said that if the curricula don’t promote the concepts prohibited in HB 324, the bill wouldn’t impact it.

As presently drafted, HB 324 would ban the following concepts from being discussed in public school classrooms:

  • One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
  • An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.
  • An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
  • An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
  • An individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • Any individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress.
  • A meritocracy is inherently racist or sexist.
  • The United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex.
  • The United States government should be violently overthrown.
  • Particular character traits, values, moral or ethical codes, privileges, or beliefs should be ascribed to a race or sex, or to an individual because of the individual’s race or sex.
  • The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups.
  • All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • Governments should deny to any person within the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.

Several people spoke in favor of HB 324 when public comments were allowed. Most of the speakers also made remarks Tuesday during the Senate’s Education/Higher Education Committee meeting.

Natalya Androsova, a Wake County resident who moved to America from Russia 22 years ago, compared what’s being taught in America’s public schools to the communist propaganda she experienced while living in the Soviet Union.

Androsova said she withdrew her children from the public school system to homeschool them.

She said Critical Race Theory and Marxism are embedded in the curriculum.

“I can’t allow my child to absorb any of that drunk ideology because it destroys dignity or human beings,” Androsova said.

As Policy Watch reported last month, Critical Race Theory is an academic discipline from the world of higher education that examines how American racism has shaped law and public policy. CRT emerged in the legal academy in the 1980s as an offshoot of critical legal studies.

Jim Walsh, a Wake County resident, said the NC Department of Public Instruction is a “loose dog” that has failed to prevent teachers from indoctrinating students.

Walsh suggested that HB 324 be amended to require classrooms to be outfitted with cameras and teachers with body cameras like those worn by police officers.

“The teachers are no better than our policemen,” he said.