Editorial: They said what?

April 9, 2019

In recent days, state legislative and education leaders offered up statements and positions that left us puzzled and, simply asking ourselves, “They said what?”

Here’s a sampler:

“Bureaucrats used the money to pay for other things on their to-do list.” -- State Sen. Andy Wells, R-Catawba, who wants to divert state funding for school supplies and run it through a commercial smartphone app.

These “bureaucrats” are actually government employees who work for Wells. Does Wells believe he’s a good boss by holding his own employees in contempt?

“The voters, if they are happy or unhappy, they can keep us or fire us every two years. With an independent commission, they’re ultimately not accountable to anyone.” – House Speaker Tim Moore, after witnessing the U.S. Supreme Court arguments challenging North Carolina’s extreme political gerrymandering.

Speaker Moore and his fellow Republicans unabashedly admit they want to make it difficult, if not impossible, to vote out as many Republicans as possible. Voters can’t “fire” anyone in rigged districts. An independent commission, drawing district lines without regard to previous elections or political affiliation, would make it EASIER for voters if they wanted to “fire” elected officials they didn’t feel are responsive to their concerns.

“Let me simply say I did not initiate this.” – East Carolina University Chancellor Cecil Staton on his resignation. FOLLOWED BY: “I didn’t ask the president to do this in any shape form or fashion. – UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith denying he forced Staton’s resignation.

None of those responsible for hiring and paying ECU’s chancellor will come forward to admit they forced him out or say why. The University of North Carolina is a $3.2 billion business critical to the state’s future. It is not a playground for hyper-partisan ideologues.

“Every state that expands Medicaid adds to the national debt, which recently eclipsed $22 trillion.” -- State Sen Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, justifying his effort to block expansion of Medicaid, largely through federal funds, to more than 500,000 North Carolinians who are now denied access to affordable health care.

It is not Phil Berger’s job to pay the federal debt. It is his job to make sure ALL North Carolinians are provided opportunities to “life” (that means health) and “liberty,” as mandated in the State Constitution. The notion that Medicaid expansion puts undue pressure on the mounting federal debt is preposterous.  The federal debt is growing because Congress pushed through a massive, unfair and irresponsible tax cut.  It’s simple math.

State Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) recently introduced legislation to ban wind farms from the areas that the N.C. Department of Commerce map defines as high risk “for degrading safety and the military’s ability to perform aviation training.”

The map Brown wants to use to ban wind farms is HIS map, developed by the General Assembly says the state Commerce Department -- though legislative leaders disagree on the creation of the map -- contending it is from Commerce. It was not authored by the state Commerce Department, that directs questions about it to the legislative staff. Significantly, the not-so-fine print on the map warns: “This product is not issued with any professional seal and is not a final product of any licensed land surveyor or engineer.  This product should not be used for charting aviation routes or other navigational purposes.”  It goes on to warn that the map “is not a replacement for FAA or EI/AAA Rules and Restrictions.”  This IS NOT the stuff that policy should be based upon.

NOTE: This editorial was updated to reflect a dispute between the state Department of Commerce and the General Assembly leadership over the creation of a map connected to the proposed ban on wind farm development.