Did you know that North Carolina has laws on the books that make public documents, records, information and meetings available and accessible to any person?
It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is, the chances are you answered that question, “No” – 68 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Republicans are unaware that our state’s open meetings and records laws exist, according to the most recent Elon University Poll.
If there is a special spot reserved in hell for Ralph Scozzafava, the former CEO of Furniture Brands International, surely it’s a crowded room.
The past few days, we read some things that gave us hope that maybe, just maybe, Ralph Scozzafava will soon be out on his butt.
Or, more likely, deploying his golden parachute.
Either way, Furniture Brands International’s CEO can’t vacate the premises soon enough.
When it came to the legislature’s decision to cut funding for teacher assistants, Sen. Dan Soucek stuck to his party’s guns – and shot himself in the foot by suggesting that teachers should really be upset with the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners for not providing funding the assistants.
“We don’t say, 'You can’t have them in those grades,’” Soucek said. “We say, ‘You’re going to have to find the funds elsewhere.’”
On one hand, it is easy to argue that Washington might be better off with a bunch more people like Howard Coble, constituent-minded officials who mind their Ps and Qs and can joke about themselves.
On the other hand, one of the problems with Washington is how many people arrive intent on staying a short time (is 12 years short?) before clearing out to allow for new blood and new ideas, then change their minds and hang around for many years more.
“Change is good” is a cliché, said most often as reassurance when something unexpected or unsettling has happened.
We can’t possibly know in advance whether all of the new faces brought to local government boards in Caldwell County by last week’s municipal elections will prove to be good additions.
But in general, a little change in the composition of elected boards is good. New people bring new perspectives. A little fresh air can keep the atmosphere from feeling musty.
No matter whether your candidates are in office, coming or going, you can be grateful at least that your mayor is not Rob Ford.
Although you can count us as firmly on the side of those who believe teachers have been getting a raw deal from the N.C. General Assembly in recent years, especially this past year, we have to agree with Republican legislators and conservative groups that the N.C. Association of Educators and some teachers appear to be injecting politics into the classroom.
The only unexpected thing about a recent report from a conservative Raleigh think tank criticizing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is that it advocates a top-down, government-knows-best approach to higher education.
It’s not clear whether Gov. Pat McCrory intentionally spread false information last week on the national stage, did it accidentally or merely repeated what someone else had told him.
You're going to have trouble convincing us that the extra-wet summer has nothing to do with what so far is this area's relatively drab autumn.
Although we happily jump at justified opportunities to tweak politicians for greed, hubris and/or stupidity, the recent uproar over now-abandoned plans to renovate the bathrooms in the Executive Mansion in Raleigh is not one.
The wealthy have nothing to fear from this nation’s courts, and the average citizen has nothing but an uphill climb to get justice.
That is a long-held belief in this country, and Judge Christopher S. Sontchi of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware did nothing but reinforce it Friday when he overruled objections to the plan to pay bonuses to seven top executives of Furniture Brands International if the company reaches certain benchmarks when it exits bankruptcy protection in December.
Most of the payroll decisions that Aldona Wos, state secretary of health and human services, has made can be defended as judgment calls, even if you disagree with them.
But two of them can't be -- and no one has even tried.
If you make the bed, you ought to have to lie in it.
Unfortunately, no one in Congress is feeling any of the effects of the shutdown, and likely never will.
Scrooge does not reside at the News-Topic.
As we noted in an editorial months ago, we liked the 35-foot-tall snowman that Larry Smith set up at his Christmas tree lot on Morganton Boulevard last year. It simply violated the city’s rules for allowable advertising, and in general we support rules that keep society safe and sane.
Now those rules have changed.
Easy prediction: The stretch of U.S. 321 in front of the former headquarters of Broyhill Furniture Industries is going to be a standard part of every tour of the Lenoir area by economic development officials hosting prospective businesses.
On the west side will be the Broyhill building, now being renovated for its new life as the headquarters of rapidly growing Exela Pharma Sciences, a pharmaceutical company. On the east side, farther off the road, will be what is now called the Expo building, which soon is going to be renovated – though that word may be inadequate to describe the facelift the outside of the building is going to get – to become the new headquarters of rapidly growing Greer Laboratories, also a pharmaceutical company.
North Carolina’s teachers deserve better than they have gotten in recent years from this state’s legislature.
They are paid too little, shown too little respect, given inadequate tools to do the job in the modern age, and too often blamed for real and perceived wrongs in the schools.
But what Lt. Gov. Dan Forest called for Wednesday in Greensboro is pure insanity.
If you dropped a bomb on a business and destroyed it, you would be charged, tried and sent to prison.
If you happen to be an executive with phenomenally poor judgment, you expect to get paid millions of dollars.
Sewage flows downhill, a cleaned-up version of an old saying goes.
Furniture Brands International workers and retirees probably have a renewed sense of why that saying endures.
The Republicans who lead the N.C. General Assembly passed a “bad budget” that was not balanced and made the “wrong” decision to eliminate pay raises for teachers who get master’s degrees. In fact, that was “a mistake.”
All of the above is the judgment of the Republicans’ House majority leader, Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, who made these startling admissions Thursday night during what might be called an interrogation by the Hibriten High School Parent Teacher Association.
The highest-paid state employee we know of is a temp.
There’s good and bad news in that. The good is that he’s a temp, so the state won’t be issuing Tiffany paychecks to him much longer. The bad is that this fits a growing pattern of excessive pay in one particular state department.
Presidents of the United States, current and past, have been criticized from the right and the left for issuing “signing statements” with new laws passed by Congress that essentially say the executive branch will not enforce those laws, or will not enforce certain parts of them.
What then to make of Gov. Pat McCrory’s decision to ignore a couple of laws that the General Assembly passed over his veto?
The NC Insider, a political news publication in Raleigh, reported this week that in the first four months of this year, the campaign of Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, the House majority leader, spent nearly $7,000 on furniture and decorations for his office.
Liberals sometimes seem to suffer from protest envy.
They grow up learning of the vastly unequal society that existed at the time of the great civil rights protests of the 1960s, seeing clips of news coverage of the anti-war protests of the Vietnam War years, hearing boomers’ onanistic, fanciful recitations of the wonderful things that their generation accomplished while stoned and naked and also organizing impromptu outdoor music festivals. Who wouldn’t be envious?
They look around today, and the barriers and battles all seem smaller, the villains less sinister.
Yet the rhetoric they choose to employ is lifted virtually without change from the 1960s.