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Changes won’t decide election

The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted the block on North Carolina’s election-law changes for the 2014 campaign. It was a dramatic end to months of dire warnings, raucous debate, and courtroom machinations.

1 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Voters should do their homework before heading to the polls

Not everyone likes to eat their vegetables. Certainly as kids it’s rarely fun, but even as we get older there are plenty of us who would be happy to never see a butterbean or broccoli ever again. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t good for you and won’t provide long-term benefits. The same can be said of our “civic vegetables.”

1 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Questions about Islamic academies raise more red flags about vouchers

The more details you hear about the state’s startlingly unaccountable private school voucher scheme and the questionable schools now receiving taxpayer money, the more troubling it all seems.In an election year dominated by a back and forth over education issues, it’s baffling why the problems with the voucher program that diverts public money to private schools hasn’t received more attention.The latest revelation comes from a story this week by NC Poli...

2 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

North Carolina’s three-legged stool

Time was political candidates didn’t spend all their money and energies telling us what a contemptuous scoundrel their opponent was. Instead, they shared their vision for how we could be better and how they proposed to make it so. I know it is a fantasyland excursion but can we imagine a modern-day campaign based on this approach? Let’s call it North Carolina’s three-legged stool of education, jobs and health.

3 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Spending has diminishing returns

One of my favorite modern historians, the late Rufus Fears at the University of Oklahoma, was fond of saying that “ideas make history.” University of Chicago professor and North Carolina native Richard Weaver expressed a similar view in his famous 1948 book Ideas Have Consequences.Sounds obvious, I know, but both men were challenging the orthodoxy of scholars, usually but not always Marxists, who believed that inexorable social forces determined the outcome of history. ...

4 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

We simply must do better

Officials from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will present an alarming report on the educational performance of students with disabilities at today’s State Board of Education meeting that calls into question the quality of education the state’s most vulnerable children receive.Only 9.9% of high school students with disabilities scored proficient on the state’s end-of-grade math assessments during the 2012-13 school year – compared to 45%...

6 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Court ruling on election law reignites a timely debate

The decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend two key parts of the sweeping voter suppression law passed by the 2013 General Assembly may not hold given the leanings of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it does put the issue of voting rights back in the news less than five weeks before the election.In an opinion written by Judge James Wynn from North Carolina, the appeals court partially reversed a lower court ruling this summer and the decision means that for now the ...

7 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Good news on taxes

Except when complaining that North Carolina isn’t giving enough targeted tax incentives to Hollywood studios, solar-panel manufacturers, and commercial real-estate developers, liberals contend that cutting taxes on business has no effect on business starts, corporate relocation, or job creation.They are mistaken. Fortunately for North Carolina’s economy, lawmakers are properly ignoring their mistaken views.

8 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Inmate’s death the result of a cascading series of mental health system failures

There has been a lot of media coverage about the death of Michael Anthony Kerr, an inmate with schizophrenia at Alexander Prison. His personal story is heartrending but sadly familiar. After being in and out of jail, Mr. Kerr was sentenced to prison as a habitual felon. He was incarcerated far from his family. In prison, the symptoms of his mental illness triggered disciplinary actions which eventually landed him in segregation. Any reasonable person hearing the facts of his death – fro...

9 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

My response to ‘I can’t help but wonder’

First of all, contrary to what was stated in a Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 letter to the editor, my opponent Phyllis Critcher has NEVER worked in the Ashe County Register of Deeds office. She also caused hardship on the office by requesting emails from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 6, 2014.I worked 79.5 hours compiling this information for her when I could have been helping my staff as I do every day.The Register of Deeds office Revenues and Expenses are part of the county budget....

10 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Debate over gun laws

Sometimes the news of the day begs for a broader discussion of important issues. That happened one day last week on an always polarizing topic.Scrolling through Twitter, news websites and emails that day, it didn’t take long to identify a common thread among many of the breaking news stories — guns. That morning, we learned that a student at a high school in Albemarle near Charlotte shot a fellow student outside the school. The teenage shooter reportedly turned himself ...

11 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Give polls a college try

The first and only time I ever helped take a political survey was during my undergraduate days at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill back in the 1980s. I was one of many journalism students who made phone calls on behalf of the Carolina Poll, a regular survey of North Carolinians on political and social topics.During the ensuing three decades, the polling industry underwent dramatic growth and change. Here in North Carolina, several different groups now commission or cond...

13 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

A more interesting Senate race, in fiction

While you are watching U.S. Senate campaign television ads, occasionally interrupted by brief segments of programming, do you ever wonder what goes on inside the candidates’ campaign organizations?For instance, what if you could take on the role as the top aide to an incumbent North Carolina U.S. senator running for reelection against a top state official who has a full war chest of campaign funds? Interesting? Challenging?

14 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Education debate is not just about the numbers

The propaganda outfits on the right are doing all they can this election season to distort the numbers about the recent cuts to education made by the folks currently in charge in Raleigh.It seems like every day brings another report or column or chart from a think tank or advocacy group claiming the General Assembly has actually increased education spending in the last few years and given all teachers one of the biggest raises in history.Neither claim is true of course. ...

15 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

Picking news like cherries

How is North Carolina’s economy doing? That is always an important question. During election season, however, it takes on added significance. Fairly or not, voters often hold incumbent politicians responsible for the condition and performance of the economy.While voters know their own situations better than anyone else could, they typically rely on news coverage of government statistics to draw conclusions about the broader economy. So releases of such data as job creation, u...

16 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

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My response to ‘I can’t help but wonder’

First of all, contrary to what was stated in a Tuesday,...

10 days 2 hours ago | | | Email

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