In Rep. Presnell’s view, it’s local leaders be damned

op frSome teacher a long time ago explained to my class of intro to political science undergrads the difference between a statesman and a representative. The statesman, once elected, votes his conscience and does not necessarily bend with the whims of voters; the representative votes according to the wishes of their constituency. That’s a notable difference. What’s confusing, though, is when a leader goes both ways, depending on which is most convenient.

 

As Haywood leaders try to convince Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville, to support a hike in the room tax from 4 to 6 percent that almost everyone who holds elected office in the county favors, I was reading what she had said about the tax and trying to figure out where her opposition is coming from.

State, counties play hot potato over teacher salaries

Stagnating pay for North Carolina teachers is prompting some local school leaders to dig a little deeper for salary bonuses at the county level.

Election laws in the ‘new’ North Carolina

fr votinglawsNew controversial voting laws passed by the N.C. General Assembly last year were supposed to take effect in 2016, but the timeline will ultimately come down to lawsuits challenging their constitutionality.

This state’s GOP has violated the Voting Rights Act

op frBy Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist

Even authoritarian regimes like Russia’s pretend to respect the right to vote. The contrast with authentic democracies is defined by these factors: the ease or difficulty of actually casting a vote, how honestly it is counted, and whether it even matters.

Democracy in North Carolina is failing miserably on two of them.

First, the Republican majority in Raleigh rigged the voting districts to guarantee their control of the General Assembly even before the people’s votes are cast and counted. The parties are contesting barely half the seats this year. Nearly a third are entirely unopposed.

Tools to help cope with an uncertain future

op fr“The less you know, the more you believe.”

– Bono

Quality journalism is a powerful force. I’ve been fortunate to be able to witness that truth often during my career in the newspaper business. I’ve seen stories that helped the afflicted, honored the deserving, and brought down the powerful. I’ve been involved in stories that brought tears of joy to a mother’s eyes and tears of regret from an arrogant leader. I’ve held my notebook in hand and listened to someone who asks us for their trust tell such bald-faced lies it shocked even a jaded reporter.

Voucher legislation hits roadblock

After a morning of arguments from both sides of the school voucher debate, N.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ordered the state to refrain from accepting voucher applications, selecting recipients, awarding money or implementing any other part of its program to provide private school scholarships to low-income students until the full case has been heard.

Parks and rec grants decrease across state

Macon County can count itself lucky for landing a $500,000 state recreation grant to help pay for a softball and baseball complex.

Moral March is not a moment, but a movement

op frBy Doug Wingeier • Columnist

As I write this, I have just returned from a tiring but exhilarating day participating in the Moral March on Raleigh. My wife and I joined 18 others from Haywood County — friends both black and white — plus 260 others from the Asheville area and untold thousands from across the state and beyond. We rose at 3 a.m., rode buses five hours each way, marched nearly a mile each way between Shaw University and the state capitol, and heard some rousing speeches and stirring music.

The rain held off. The crowd was in a festive mood. Many carried signs like “North Carolina: First in Teacher Flight,” “More Art, Less Pope,” “Haywood County for Health Care,” and “Welcome to North Carolina: Set Your Clocks Back 50 Years.” A medical doctor’s sign said: “I got a raise, but my patients who are poor got a death sentence.” Mine read: “I March for Voting Rights for All” and “Funds for Public Schools not for Vouchers.”

Districts grapple with directive to identify top 25 percent of teachers

fr declinetosignUsually, you’d expect a school system to jump at the chance to give its teachers a raise, but superintendents statewide are now rolling up their sleeves for an unpleasant task: figuring out a process to determine the top 25 percent of teachers in their district and offering those people a pay increase. 

Neediest waiting more than three months for benefits: N.C. food stamp delays ‘alarm’ feds

Time has nearly run out for the beleaguered N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to fix the systemic problems plaguing its food stamp program.

After months of admonishments, the federal government has given the state until Feb. 10 to fix a massive backlog of food assistance applications or risk losing millions in federal administrative support funds.

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