How corrupt do you think government in North Carolina is?
A recent, quick analysis offers some hope but also some concern on that question.
The executive committee of the Caldwell County Republic Party may be choosing the person who will represent Caldwell County for the next 20 years – or longer.
The initial shock of the Paris attack had barely waned before some people began raising a contrarian voice. This attack was different, they seemed to say, because it was not unprovoked.
On Thursday night the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill pretty much no one likes, and that’s a good thing.
All of us should hope that when the worst day of our lives arrives, someone like Chris Whorley of Lenoir happens along.
On Tuesday, I visited Granite Falls Middle School for Career Day. My press badge swung from my deck. However, I was not there as a journalist -- well, not as one doing interviews and writing a story.
The most pervasive knock on District Attorney Jay Gaither has been that he is quick to offer plea bargains in cases that would be winnable at trial, and he makes his prosecutors go to trial on cases that experienced lawyers know are dogs and ought to be plea-bargained.
But his decision to drop a felony hit-and-run charge in a case that almost killed a Hudson man still caught veteran law enforcement officers and lawyers by surprise.
If there is a lesson to be learned from the elections in North Carolina, it ought to be that organizing a winning election campaign takes a lot more work than organizing a protest rally.
The numbers seem to indicate that if cutting back the days of early voting was a voter-suppression effort, it has been a massive failure.
If the National Weather Service is right, then the next time the skies clear and we look to the north, Grandfather Mountain and the rest of the ridge at the Watauga and Avery county lines may be snow-capped.
The larger academic scandal at UNC Chapel Hill – that the existence of sham classes became widely known and their use tolerated, even encouraged – would not have been possible without one particular dysfunctional administrative relationship.
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.