At least two elected officials need to go

As election fatigue sets in, keep this in mind: it’s the local races that will most affect each of us. The decisions voters make at the lowest levels of government will have the most impact on our lives here in Western North Carolina. 

The over-the-top television commercials, the misleading mailings, the signs, the newspaper stories and ads, the forums and Q&As, candidate hopefuls out on the stump — all of it adds up. By this point, the overload starts overwhelming one’s senses. What did we do with our time prior to this election, and how did we fill our pages?

Women in Business: still newsworthy?

As we started working on this year’s Women in Business stories, a fundamental question kept coming up: do we still need to highlight women-owned and women-operated businesses in this day and age, or has it become so commonplace it’s the norm? Are we perpetuating a storyline about overcoming obstacles that’s no longer relevant?

As the buckeyes fall, I await my old friend

The sounds, the feel of the coming fall is always comforting, like reconnecting with an old and dear friend.

It was just shy of 8 a.m. Saturday as I opened my book, blowing lightly at my steaming coffee. I sorted the pillows from our porch furniture on my lap so I could aim the pages in the direction the sun would appear when it cleared the mountain. Angling the book to catch just the right natural reading light is tricky early in the day on the covered porch. My wife, Lori, and I usually play this game together and against each other, the early riser getting the best spot, the loser spending more time than the other to coax the sunlight into position.

The American worker is not getting their due

Every Labor Day we celebrate the American worker. We wax nostalgic about the bygone days of the great American middle class when parents worked hard and expected their children to climb the economic ladder.   

Unfortunately, evidence today shows workers are not doing well. The standard of living for the American worker is, by many measures, falling. Politicians of all stripes need to address fundamental issues that have been ignored if the great working class is to flourish and remain the backbone of this country. And despite challenges, I’m not ready to concede that we can’t turn things around.

Americans know better, even if Trump doesn’t

We native-born Americans — most of us, anyway — have no real concept of life under a despot except from what we read. We have been raised on a daily diet of liberty and cut our teeth on the right to free speech. Because of that, it’s not surprising that our appreciation for these cornerstones of our democratic and civil society may sometimes dull. 

That’s why Donald Trump’s continued attacks on the press as the enemy of the people should be treated by all as an assault on core American values. No one thinks Trump will ever become a maniacal totalitarian, but knowingly or unknowingly he’s using their tactics in ways that could damage what most of us hold dear. That’s more than just a little troubling.

In this case, the choice is obvious

“Take the high road.”

It’s a simple code for life, but one too few take to heart and even fewer have the courage and fortitude to embrace. It’s much easier to go low, to lash out against critics or take unethical measures in order to come out on top.

Politics and the search for WCU’s chancellor

As the yoke of political influence grows ever heavier around the neck of the UNC Board of Governors, Western Carolina University’s chancellor search has gone off the rails and there is not yet any indication when it will get back on track.

Because much of the process used to replace a chancellor is shrouded in secrecy, those who care deeply about this university and its faculty and staff are left guessing as to what exactly happened. But there are many of us who can’t help but suspect the worst kind of chicanery, especially given the brand of politics played by the current legislative leadership. It’s a sad state of affairs, particularly if our great university system becomes just a pawn in this ongoing power play.

Festival’s intangible value is immeasurable

Lori and I have always loved to travel, to go to new places or to get better acquainted with places we’ve been before. It’s part curiosity, part adventure. As the now more famous dead than alive chef and world traveler Anthony Bourdain put it in his show’s title, it’s the thrill and the surprises that come with discovering “Parts Unknown.” 

Small-town papers help knit communities together

I’m dedicating my July 4 to the courageous journalists who were murdered last week at the Capital Gazette in Maryland.

Independence Day celebrates our nation’s declaration that it would not abide by the arbitrary decrees from across an ocean by a monarch who feared putting power in the hands of his citizens. With the Declaration of Independence began the formal shaping of this nation and its ideals of freedom that are unlike those in any other country.

There’s not much room left in the gutter

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders got asked to leave a restaurant because the owner can’t stand her boss’ politics. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen was heckled at a Mexican restaurant over the administrations policy of illegal immigrant children from their parents. A Democratic lawmaker encourages those opposed to Trump policies to continue to publicly calling out Trump advisers and supporters. 

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