NC LEADERS SHOULD BE MODELS OF PUBLIC TRUST, NOT RULE DODGERS: It is past time that North Carolina move away from the notion that government service was an opportunity, with access to insider information, to exploit it for personal and partisan gain. Lewis said he wanted to “put an unfortunate chapter behind me.” He apologized for his mistakes. But his statement didn’t apologize for abusing the privileged role he’d been granted by voters for the more than 17 years he served in the legislature. He should apologize to those voters for failing the trust they placed in him and for abusing his office and campaign to help himself. The General Assembly in particular and more broadly state government, needs a thorough examination of ethics standards for legislators, all other elected and appointed state and local officials. Citizens must be assured that the only interest of public officials is the betterment of the state and its people NOT their personal political and economic enrichment.
GENE NICHOL: OBAMA CALLED OUT NORTH CAROLINA ON RACE: “Once the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act, some state legislatures unleashed a flood of laws designed specifically to make voting harder; especially where there’s a lot of minority turnout and population growth.” That wasn’t an accident, Obama concluded. It was ”an attack on what John Lewis fought for.” When I read those words, I wondered if North Carolina Republican leaders squirmed. I’m not saying President Obama was talking ONLY about North Carolina. There are other aggressive anti-equality states, to be sure. Especially in our neighborhood. But Obama clearly was talking about the Tar Heel State. His chosen points of emphasis and illustration apparently place us, in Obama’s eyes, at the forefront of the movement to dismantle John Lewis’ legacy. The words “surgical precision” come, famously and specifically, from the eloquent federal court rulings invalidating major components of North Carolina’s “monster” voter ID law. “Surgical precision” is not a walking around political phrase, free-floating. It’s Tar Heel bred. We’ve also enthusiastically closed polling places, going after students and African-Americans. And we’ve been happy to brag about it, even on national TV. The “once the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act” reference parallels Sen. Tom Apodaca’s giddy boast, after learning of the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision - “now we can go with the full bill.” Hot dog. No more half-measures on voter suppression. Apodaca’s enthusiasm has been much discussed in the national voting rights literature. And, of course, Obama’s Justice Department did sue us. Eric Holder explained he’d allow “no open season” for North Carolina to “suppress voting rights.”
BEV PERDUE:CLOSE NORTH CAROLINA'S DIGITAL DIVIDE NOW: Ten percent of all North Carolinians do not have broadband access in their homes. Researchers at Duke University recently estimated that approximately 230,000 K-12 students do not have internet access and another 169,000 do not have devices. Children in lower-income households, especially Black and Hispanic households, are significantly less likely to have a high-speed internet connection at home. More than one-third of households with children ages six to 17, and an annual income below $30,000 a year, do not have broadband at home compared with just six percent of such households earning $75,000 or more a year. Even before COVID-19, the digital divide created a homework gap, making it more challenging for students without high-speed access to complete school work at home. That gap has widened into a dangerous learning gap that will set some students back months, if not years, if we do not course correct now. Improving broadband access in homes, businesses and communities will also support economic recovery, helping unemployed people find jobs faster and earn more income while also encouraging more spending. In fact, according to Deloitte, the digital divide costs the U.S. over $130 million a day in economic activity.
WHEN THE THREAT OF EVICTION MEETS THE THREAT OF CORONAVIRUS: Rent — it’s the greediest of bills. For many families, it grows every year, arbitrarily, almost magically, not because of any home improvements; just because. “Demand,” they say, when they hand you a new lease with a stiff rent hike. Or “costs are rising.” What they mean is: “Because I can.” And unlike defaulting on other bills, missing a rent payment can result in immediate and devastating consequences, casting families into poverty and homelessness. If you can’t afford enough food, you can usually qualify for food stamps. If you miss a mortgage payment, you typically have 120 days before your bank can initiate the foreclosure process. But if you can’t pay your rent, you can lose your home in a matter of weeks. During the first half of July, landlords collected 37 percent of total rent from families living in Class C properties — typically older stock, home to low- and moderate-income workers — compared with 80 percent during the first three months of the year. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 800,000 people around the nation were threatened with eviction each month. Today, with unemployment levels unseen since the Great Depression and the expiration of federal benefits along with national and several state eviction moratoriums, millions of renters are at risk of losing their homes by the end of the year. This process is already underway. Tucson usually sees 10 to 30 eviction cases a day. In June it handled roughly 50 cases a day. That same month, eviction cases were up 70 percent in Alabama, compared with last June. In the last week of July, eviction filings were 109 percent above average levels in Milwaukee. During a pandemic that forcefully links our health to our homes, eviction will help spread the virus, as displaced families crowd into shelters, double up with relatives and friends, or risk their health in unsafe jobs to make rent or pay for moving expenses.
GLOBAL FREEDOM WOULD SUFFER GRIEVOUS HARM IN A SECOND TRUMP TERM: A 21st-century victory for democracy, like those that came in World War II and the Cold War, is inconceivable without the leadership of the United States. America must prevail in the race to develop new technologies, rally fellow democracies to counter authoritarian aggression, and reform capitalism and democracy itself to serve a new age. But President Trump cannot deliver that leadership. On the contrary, over the past three years he has done as much as any global actor to advance the cause of authoritarianism and undermine the free world. Mr. Trump’s most conspicuous aid to tyranny has been his relentless support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who aided Mr. Trump’s 2016 election and whose foreign policy is laser-focused on weakening the United States and dividing it from other democracies in the NATO alliance. Mr. Trump has provided invaluable support for this cause, most recently by ordering a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Germany. While he has not hesitated to publicly trash NATO and the leaders of Germany, Canada and Britain, Mr. Trump has never uttered a word of criticism of Mr. Putin, even after receiving U.S. intelligence reports indicating that Moscow paid bounties to the Afghan Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers. Aspiring strongmen who are dismantling democratic institutions in their countries have been embraced by Mr. Trump and welcomed to the White House, sometimes rupturing bans imposed by his predecessors. This sordid parade has featured Abdel Fatah al-Sissi of Egypt, Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Prayut Chan-ocha of Thailand, Viktor Orban of Hungary and Andrzej Duda of Poland; the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte turned down Mr. Trump’s invitation. At the same time, Mr. Trump has shunned democratic leaders attempting to resist the Russians or Chinese — most notably Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has never received a White House invitation after resisting Mr. Trump’s demand for a politicized investigation of Joe Biden. This month, Mr. Trump has done nothing to help the Belarus democratic movement seeking to overthrow the longtime dictator of a nation Mr. Putin seeks to dominate.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
JADE OSBORNE: TOO MUCH "LAW AND ORDER" CAN LEAD TO TYRANNY: "Law and order" without justice, compassion and mercy is tyranny. Law and order is not such an enviable state of things that it should be elevated as a goal without limits. Russia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and many other despotic nations have strong law-and-order programs that none of us in America would want to live under. It is quite ironic that Donald Trump is touting himself as the "law and order candidate" when he is among the presidents with the highest number of criminally indicted associates. Neither he, nor any other Republican, has raised the issue of justice, mercy or compassion in their comments on policing or the legal system. It appears for Republicans that Americans can keep their guns but will need to give up their First Amendment rights. From attacking the press, to trying to limit peaceful protests and using tax dollars to support religious institutions, this administration has put the First Amendment under siege. Law and order is not achieved at the end of gun or with federal force. It is achieved by giving due recognition of each person’s inherent worth and with respect of our differences.
JOHN SLOOP: REMOVE LOUIS DEJOY FROM ELON UNIVERSITY BOARD OF TRUSTEES: Americans have watched in disbelief as Postmaster General Louis DeJoy tarnished the integrity and reputation of the U.S. Postal Service. His testimony to Congress claims no foul intentions, but his actions and history say otherwise. DeJoy enjoys a seat on the board of trustees at Elon University, where I am currently a sophomore. I am ashamed that my school has associated itself with this attack on democracy. Students like me have been outspoken about removing him, only to be met with disregard from the administration. Sabotaging the postal service in the middle of a pandemic is despicable and the attempts to de-legitimize the election threaten our democracy. I demand that Elon remove DeJoy from the board.
KRISTIN BELLER, WAKE NCAE: TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PUSH TO REOPEN SCHOOLS IS DANGEROUS: The COVID-19 pandemic has sent parents and educators like me into a panic as we begin to reopen schools across North Carolina. Instead of thoughtfully advising that we do so with necessary precautions and safety measures in place, the Trump administration has attempted to bully states into sending children back to school. Make no mistake, as teachers, we are ready to be back in the classroom with our students and we recognize the burden that many parents have had to take on with their children at home. That said, as students head back to school, we cannot cut corners when it comes to keeping everyone safe. The Trump-Pence administration has left us with little guidance and prioritized the economy over our safety.