Our job is to earn trust and keep it

A little more than two weeks ago I was part of a public radio panel that was discussing the “state of media in Western North Carolina.” The catalyst for the show was the Gannet corporation’s — owner of USA Today and more than 100 dailies and 1,000 weeklies — nationwide layoff of reporters and editors, including five at the Asheville Citizen-Times. We discussed the importance and relevance of local newspapers and media sites, and how our communities are adapting to the shift away from one or two dominant — and trustworthy — media sources. 

Behind closed doors: Public records laws have exceptions

Woe to those public bodies that fail to comply with North Carolina’s sunshine laws; transparency underpins American democracy to the extent that there’s a whole chapter of complicated regulations in the N.C. General Statutes that define public records, public meetings, the availability of both and the very real penalties for violations.

N.C. legislators have a chance at redistricting

By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist

The North Carolina General Assembly is where good bills go to die. So it is a sign of progress when one of them gets so much as a hearing. That’s why it made news when House Speaker Tim Moore said that there will be one for House Bill 69, to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission. 

Run, Forest, run: Lt. Dan declares for governor

An architect by training, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest became only the second Republican in the last 120 years to be elected to the post when he defeated Democrat Linda Coleman by less that two-tenths of a percent in 2012. Four years later, in 2016, his victory over Coleman was much more decisive, but Gov. Pat McCrory’s narrow loss to Rocky Mount Democrat Roy Cooper created an unexpected opportunity for the state’s highest-ranking Republican. 

Tuscola sports classification not all fun and games

Grumblings about Tuscola High School’s athletic reclassification from 2A to 3A seem to have fallen on deaf ears, but administrators at Haywood County Schools say they’re not yet done trying to bring attention to what they say is the school’s unfair plight. 

Farm Bill offers little relief for American agriculture

American agriculture is experiencing a tougher time than ever, and that includes farmers in North Carolina. But as the latest version of the Farm Bill awaits President Donald Trump’s signature after passing through Congress, apparently there’s not a lot of help coming. 

Cooper’s voter ID veto overridden

Legislation implementing North Carolina’s first-ever voter ID requirement passed both the House and the Senate Dec. 6, but a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had Republicans scrambling back to the legislative chambers to override it before their power to do so evaporated. 

State releases annual economic tier rankings

Macon and Jackson counties will be considered less economically distressed in 2019, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. 

Election results will make for a stronger democracy

There were many winners and losers last week on Election Day, but perhaps the best outcome is that the move to end gerrymandering appears to be taking root across the country. 

Nothing will do more to quiet the current strident tone of our political discourse than having state legislatures and the U.S. House better represent the will of the people. That means lawmakers will have to compromise, and radical gerrymandering is the enemy of reasoned debate.

‘Hyper-partisan’ moves threaten UNC’s future

The sudden resignation of Margaret Spellings as president of the UNC system should be a wake-up call to every North Carolinian who understands that public higher education in this state is an engine of prosperity for all of us. With Spellings’ departure, we may well see an end to the long line of talented public servants who have led the university system to its nationally respected position.

Spellings — like all of her predecessors — has done yeoman’s service protecting the public’s interest in educational excellence from the partisan excesses, autocratic proclivities, stunning ignorance, and straight-up stupidity of the N.C. General Assembly and their sycophants on the UNC Board of Governors. But it is unlikely the next president will carry that legacy forward.

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