Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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NATION NEEDS BURR TO DELIVER NOW ON 2016 CAMPAIGN PROMISE: It was Burr himself who promised North Carolina’s voters, when he said he’d not seek re-election again, that he’d be an uncompromising presence -- withstanding and rising above partisanship when time and circumstance demanded it. North Carolinians cannot rely on Sen. Thom Tillis – who quakes at every Trump tweet and parrots whatever spin the White House sends out. This is a time when it appears the president is shaking down the leader of the Ukraine for campaign dirt on a potential opponent. He seeks to order border patrol agents to shoot migrants in the legs to slow them. This is not typical, normal or reasonable. The time is now for Burr to stand up. He needs to assure his constituents that his priority is the integrity of the presidency and the independence of the Senate and legislative branch of government.
https://www.wral.com/editorial-nation-needs-burr-to-deliver-now-on-2016-campaign-promise/18671224/

Saturday News: Appalachian injustice

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U.S. SUPREME COURT WILL DECIDE ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE FATE: The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it would hear the appeal of Atlantic Coast Pipeline owners and the Trump administration over the rejection of a permit that would allow the natural gas line to cross the Appalachian Trail. A ruling for the pipeline will allow construction to resume by late summer next year and finish by late 2021, the email said. The Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represented environmental groups in the case, said in a statement they will defend the Appeals Court decision. “The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a dangerous, costly and unnecessary project, and we won’t stand by while Duke and Dominion Energy try to force it on our public lands, threatening people’s health, endangered species, iconic landscapes and clean water along the way,” their statement said.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article235795832.html

CoA ruling deals a blow to Debtor's Prison effect

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A reduction of excessive court costs is long overdue:

The Court of Appeals published a unanimous opinion this week holding that when multiple criminal charges arise from the same underlying event or transaction and are adjudicated together in the same hearing or trial, they are part of a single “criminal case” for purposes of assessing court costs.

The case stems from a Buncombe County incident – Dave Robert Rieger was pulled over for following another vehicle too closely and was ultimately arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. He took his case to trial and was convicted of both charges. Because the state filed the charges against him in two separate charging documents, there were two separate judgments against him even though they were disposed of through the same trial. The judge imposed court costs in each of the two judgments, amounting to a total of nearly $800. The question to the three-judge appellate panel was whether Rieger experienced one criminal case or two.

At a recent local candidate event I was able to have a few words with a couple of judges and a District Attorney, and I mainly focused on court costs and high amounts of cash bail. Surprisingly enough, they were all concerned about this, and eager to talk about it (as opposed to ignoring it). We may be approaching a critical point in criminal justice reform, and it is much needed:

Friday News: Trying to pass?

TRUMP APPOINTEE FOR FEDERAL BENCH DOESN'T WANT TO ADMIT HE'S BLACK: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said during his introduction that Myers would be “the first African American on his court.” Asked if he considered himself African American, Myers said, “I consider myself human. I consider myself human. Jamaican American. For some folks, it’s a really important thing for them. For me, I would really like to be considered on my own merits every step of the way.” Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, whose district covers much of Eastern North Carolina and is a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said after President Donald Trump nominated Myers that he wished Trump had taken the opportunity to diversify the bench. “Every African American I know is proud to make that identification as African American,” Butterfield told McClatchy last month. “If he is indeed African American, I would expect that he would be proud of it and say so.”
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article235460432.html

Remembering the victims of the NC GOP's refusal to expand Medicaid

Not just an academic exercise, people are dying:

North Carolina’s Medicaid coverage gap looks like Brenda Pernell, who went by “Miss Brenda” to her students and, until a heart condition killed her in April at the age of 52, treated her high blood pressure with vinegar.

It looks like Jessica Jordan, who inherited her father’s blue eyes and her mother’s fiery hair and who, lacking the coverage to pay for mental health and substance abuse treatment, died from an accidental overdose last May at the age of 32.

If these women had lived in Virginia (or even West Virginia), they would likely still be alive. If they had lived in Louisiana or Arkansas, they would have had a much better chance. Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, still alive. But they didn't. They had the misfortune of living in a state that placed partisan politics above the value of their lives, health, and prosperity. And there are thousands more right behind them, facing deteriorating physical and economic health:

Thursday News: Privatization boondoggle

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TEST SCORES WORSEN AT FIRST SCHOOL TAKEN OVER BY CHARTER: More schools may be taken over by the state’s Innovative School District, even as a new report showed flat test scores and a variety of problems at the only school now in the controversial program. Southside Ashpole Elementary School in Robeson County ended the program’s first year with an “F” grade, not meeting academic growth and a drop in the percentage of students passing state exams. Some of the schools that fought to stay under local control have higher grades now than Southside, according to a report presented Wednesday to the State Board of Education. The Innovative School District was created by Republican state lawmakers in 2016 to take up to five low-performing elementary schools away from local school district control and turn them over to an outside group to run.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article235692682.html

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