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North Carolina editorial roundup

August 1, 2018

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

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July 26

The Charlotte Observer says state Democrats need to match their rhetoric when it comes to principles:

For years, Democrats have complained about the party that runs things in North Carolina. Republicans, they say, have abused the authority voters have given them. They’ve passed bills in the dead of night without proper notice to understand what’s in them. They’ve accumulated power in most every way possible, and when the rules don’t support those power grabs, they attempt to change the rules.

It’s the wrong way to represent the people of our state, Democrats say. And they’re right. Since Republicans took power in the General Assembly in 2010, they’ve been a national laughingstock — a model of how not to govern.

But this month, Democrats have had an opportunity to stand behind the principles they trumpet. Instead, they’ve looked a lot like the lawmakers they’ve scorned.

That opportunity involves Chris Anglin, a Raleigh attorney who is a candidate for the N.C. Supreme Court. Until June 7, Anglin was a registered Democrat, but when he filed to be a candidate at the last moment this month, he did so as a Republican. That gave voters two Republicans to consider on the November ballot, a dynamic that likely would help the Democratic candidate, Anita Earls.

What Anglin did was legal. It also was something that Republicans left themselves open to when they passed laws eliminating judicial primary elections and allowing candidates to declare party affiliation right before filing. But legal or not, what Anglin did was wrong. He has deliberately tried to trick voters, claiming even now that he’s a “constitutional Republican.” Regardless of whether you think the Republicans had it coming, he’s trying to game an election.

It’s exactly the kind of thing Democrats would have howled about if Anglin were actually a Republican. But the party and its leaders — including Gov. Roy Cooper — have been disappointingly silent about Anglin’s stunt. They did, however, spend a lot of time last week at their keyboards lamenting how Republicans are trying to fool voters with language surrounding six constitutional amendments.

Democrats are right about those amendments. They’re also right about those Republicans, who this week stymied Anglin in the worst way — by changing the rules in the middle of the race and removing from the ballot the party affiliation of anyone (read: Anglin) who switches parties at the last minute. It was a characteristically heavy-handed move from a party that has consistently tried to shape elections — judicial and otherwise — in its favor.

The new law leaves Anglin without a “D″ or “R″ next to his name on November’s ballot. That, too, could confuse voters who don’t know the story of how we got here. For the sake of those voters, Anglin should pull out of the race and get his name off the ballot. He shouldn’t have been on there to start — at least not as a Republican.

We wish Democrats had said so, too. Have N.C. Republicans done worse, even in the past week? Yes. But if you want to persuade voters that you’d handle power better than the party that has it, you should act like it now.

Online: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/

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July 29

StarNews of Wilmington criticizes Republicans’ actions in the legislature:

Why play by the rules when you can change them in mid-game?

In case you haven’t noticed, the Republican faction running North Carolina’s legislature doesn’t play well with others. If the game isn’t going their way, they’re likely to flip the board over and try to change the rules.

Case in point: The brouhaha over state constitutional amendments on the November ballot.

The GOP leadership is still very, very disappointed in the voters for electing as governor a known Democrat, Roy Cooper, back in 2016. Not that it matters much; with veto-proof majorities in both houses — thanks to creative redistricting — the Republicans routinely ignore Cooper by overriding his vetoes.

But he does rile them a bit. So the Republicans came up with a package of amendments, basically to turn the governor into a figurehead and North Carolina into a parliamentary state.

One amendment would transfer most of the governor’s appointment powers for state boards and commissions to the legislature. Another would mandate that the legislature, not the governor, fill vacant judgeships between elections.

A couple of other amendments — such as one creating a constitutional right to hunt and fish by “traditional” methods except when the state tells you how and when you can and can’t — seem tailored to draw out the Republican base in a year when the Democrats appear to be riled themselves.

In any rate, it’s a shady business, and voters should approach these proposals with extreme caution, probably holding their noses while they do so.

But here’s the latest twist. Under a bill that the Republicans passed just two years ago, the captions and wording of the amendment proposals get written by a three-member state commission. Members are the secretary of state (currently Elaine Marshall), attorney general (Josh Stein) and legislative services officer (Paul Coble). Like the governor, both Marshall and Stein are known, flagrant Democrats. Although they seem to be honorable souls, the Republicans don’t trust them a lick. On the other hand, as a professed Republican, Coble fits the bill just fine.

So, before the commission could do the very work the legislature gave it just two years ago, the GOP Chieftains summoned the Honorable assembly to Raleigh and back into session last week. The majority wasted no time and voted to bypass the commission, opting to do the work themselves. The Republicans, bless their hearts, said they were worried that the commission was being “politicized.”

(This escapade, by the way, cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Remember that the next time an Honorable puffs up and tells us the state can’t afford extravagances like textbooks for schools.)

Of course, no one should be surprised that Berger, Moore and Co. changed the rules mid-game — again, a rule that apparently was hunky-dory two years earlier. The GOP leadership at the legislature is growing more and more flagrant. The bosses obviously figure that with President Trump’s picks occupying seats, the U.S. Supreme Court will throw out constitutional objections to their not-so-subtle gerrymandering. Thus, they can run North Carolina through all eternity and get away with whatever they like.

Which makes this fall’s election all the more vital. It could well be the last time all North Carolina voters have a chance to make a real difference in state politics.

Online: http://www.starnewsonline.com/

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July 31

The News & Record of Greensboro draws attention to North Carolina’s coastal erosion:

Does this photograph trouble you? It was taken last week near Nags Head, where 10-foot cliffs suddenly have emerged and forced beaches to be closed.

Do you understand that this scene will not improve with time, that the erosion will eat away the sand until property is stolen, resources are lost and billions to trillions of dollars of value is lost for residents?

But that’s what’s happening, that’s where North Carolina’s lovely and once-pristine shoreline is headed, into the saltwater and out into the Atlantic.

Warming of our atmosphere — 2018 is expected to be the fourth hottest on record — continue to melt ice caps and push water into the oceans, which in turn rise, sometimes driven by ever volatile storms. And the U.S. is enduring what scientists call “sunny day flooding,” when water surges without the impetus of a storm, much earlier than expected.

Our natural resources, our wildlife, our human life that rely on the coast to exist ultimately will be lost. This is a vision of our future. But what are we doing to stop it? How do we stymie our rapidly changing climate?

Our leaders are watching the ocean rise.

Online: https://www.greensboro.com/

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