One good reason to debate all proposed legislation in open forums is high-minded: Legislation is the public’s business, so the public deserves to hear all sides of what is being considered and see what their representatives are doing.
Another good reason for it is more practically minded: If a piece of legislation gets a thorough, public examination and vetting, you’re not likely to be surprised by unintended outcomes.
The subject line of an email that arrived Monday morning stood out:
North Carolina Ranks Dead Last in the Country for Teachers
Leaders in the General Assembly tell us that they have increased spending on education and this year provided a 7 percent raise for teachers, and they seem surprised and sometimes exasperated that in meetings back home teachers don’t agree that any of that has happened.
North Carolina now has a “plan” to improve its statewide transportation network, which is very much like you having a plan to extensively renovate your house without any idea how to pay for it.
Watching the debate Thursday night between incumbent Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican seeking a second term, and Democrat Tom Hill, you might not be able to tell we live in one of the most conservative, Republican congressional districts in the state.
One of the reasons no one particularly likes how financial incentives to businesses are handled is that the businesses generally want their names kept quiet until they are ready to sign a deal.
Caldwell County has an additional symbol of its economic transformation.
But unlike Google’s gated white monolith on a hill or the conversion of Broyhill Furniture’s iconic former headquarters into the home of the rapidly growing pharmaceutical maker Exela Pharma Sciences, this new symbol involves a kind of business that at its base is familiar to this region.
Turning the other cheek is not emotionally satisfying. Forgiveness brings little immediate gratification, and if the person who wronged you doesn’t even seem contrite it can even feel like forgiveness is surrender.
Give District Attorney Jay Gaither credit for this: When it became obvious Tuesday that he was going to lose badly in the Republican runoff, the last gasp in his attempt for a fourth term, he did what politicians are supposed to do when they lose – he took the high road.
A couple hundred-thousand dollars here, a few hundred-thousands dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.
It seems that dollar signs that aren’t followed by a least six digits don’t get the attention of anyone in a position of power anymore, and those same people will throw that amount of money around as though it’s walking-around money. Inevitably, they aren't the ones who pay the bill or suffer the penalties.
If you want hurricanes that people take seriously, what they need is not more men’s names but names that summon our fears.
Perhaps legislators should begin work in July on the budget they will have to vote on in June 2015. They appear to need all the time they can get.
The state House and Senate remain locked in budget negotiations, with a deadline looming to approve something Monday.
Many people suspect there are plenty of government jobs that amount to highly paid featherbedding.
Turns out there seem to be at least three that were created just three years ago, but the only quarrel anyone in the General Assembly seems to have with their existence is who gets to fill those jobs.
The leaders of the General Assembly like to brag that they have cut taxes.
What they hope you won’t notice is that over the past few years they have gradually ramped up the pressure on local governments to raise property taxes. Little bit by little bit, the state keeps either pushing unfunded mandates on local governments or taking away revenue sources that local governments relied on for many years.
A measure fast-tracked by the General Assembly, which passed both houses on Thursday and was signed into law hours later by Gov. Pat McCrory, will eliminate local business privilege license taxes.
Some municipalities don’t assess much in those taxes, and some charge quite a bit. Statewide, the revenue collected totals $62 million.
Months before my graduation from Western Carolina University I was already counting down the weeks to crossing the stage and taking my empty diploma holder out of Chancellor David Belcher’s hand. Week after week, I wiped down my little chalkboard and wrote in the new number of how much time was left. I’d even snap a photo to display on Facebook and remind everyone else how I was already out the door mentally when it came to my schooling.
No one should get too worked up about the proposed overhaul of Smith’s Crossroads that the N.C. Department of Transportation unveiled Tuesday.
Not that the plan wouldn’t be potentially devastating, but it’s extremely unlikely ever to happen.
Teachers probably can't help but feel hopeful that Gov. Pat McCrory's proposal for pay raises, unveiled last week in Greensboro, came about because politicians throughout Raleigh recognize not only the need for paying teachers more but the vast disapproval that greeted last year's legislative results.
When I was in sixth grade, an F1 tornado ripped through my neighborhood in Mount Holly, outside of Charlotte.
That evening, bulbous, anvil-topped clouds inched over the neighborhood while my family and I took our evening summer stroll. Already nervous of storms, I kept pointing out the clouds to my parents.
Imagine a police chief insisting his officers don’t have the authority to stop a robbery while it is going on.
Or a health inspector saying that the presence of live rats on a food counter doesn’t mean he can close that restaurant.
That essentially is the position being taken by the state Environmental Management Commission.
Let’s be 100 percent clear about this: There is no survey that designated the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton area as one of the nation’s “most miserable cities,” no matter what you read on Facebook or in a newspaper or saw on the Charlotte TV news.
Politics threatens to stand in the way of fixing whatever problems contributed to the disaster that poisoned the Dan River, and that would do nothing but ensure another disaster, possibly much closer to home.
Our fingers are crossed and we are hoping that Lenoir Police Chief Scott Brown is correct to characterize a steep increase in drug seizures as a positive sign of good police work.
What can explain the lack of public outrage at the messes created and continuing under the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ watch?
It wasn’t just the weather. Last week brought an unusual winter political storm.
The Republican who leads the Finance Committee in the state Senate accused the Republican governor of a “flagrant violation of power” and used an unprintable epithet to describe his fellow Republican lawmakers who pushed a bill favored by the governor, a bill that the senator calls an “abomination.”
And we know all this because someone secretly recorded the senator’s comments and released a transcript to the Raleigh News & Observer and other media.