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Report a reminder of misplaced priorities

While folks inside the beltline in Raleigh were parsing every rumor about the budget dance between House and Senate leaders, a new national report provided a stark reminder of just how out of touch the negotiators in the corner rooms of the Legislative Building are with many of the people they represent.The 2014 Kids County Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation released this week ranks North Carolina 34th in the overall well-being of its children and 38th in their economic w...

2 days ago | | | Email

Welfare should not be hidden in tax code

When liberals debate tax policy, it can be hard to keep track of their current positions. They keep changing.Right now, for example, Democratic politicians and left-wing activists are castigating Republicans in the General Assembly for proposing a reduction or elimination of North Carolina’s tax credit for film and television production. They say that the tax break, with a state fiscal impact of $61 million a year, is critical to luring and retaining businesses that employ th...

2 days ago | | | Email

Bill forces counties into false choice

Plans to finance both public education and transit at the local level would be stopped in their tracks under the version of legislation (House Bill 1224) that has emerged from the state Senate Finance Committee. The bill not only places a hard cap on the local sales tax rate at 2.5 percent but also only allows counties to levy a sales tax increase for either education or transit — not both. This bill joins a slate of other bills that would restrict local control.

3 days ago | | | Email

Speech-stifling ordinance grants notable exemption

On June 26, in McCullen v. Coakley, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law requiring pro-life activists to stay outside a 35-foot “buffer zone” around abortion clinics. Although the outcome of this landmark First Amendment ruling was unanimous, the justices were deeply divided in their legal reasoning.

3 days ago | | | Email

Good fire protection stems from great partnerships

When government increases taxes there is a general push back from citizens. This year the Board of Commissioners voted to increase the fire tax from 2 cents to 5 cents, and the action was greeted with more support than outrage. Unlike most county funded services, fire protection is easy for people to understand. The need is simple — when your property is on fire, the fire departments responds and put it out.Why did the commissioners increase this tax? Why was there no outrage...

3 days ago | | | Email

School board should be praised for discussion of system’s needs

To the editor:Our community needs to thank our school board for the time and effort spent in meeting to address our public educational needs. Such clear-eyed, common sense as they show is a much-needed antidote to the heated political churning going on in Raleigh under the guise of “helping our children.”

3 days ago | | | Email

Where are the charges against owners of sweepstakes cafes?

To the editor:Looking at the paper, I see that Scotland County again has the highest unemployment rate in the state, at 12.7 percent.

4 days ago | | | Email

Ol’ Charley done found religion

Last week we left Ol’ Charley Perkins as mad as a setting hen ‘cause he thought someone had poisoned his bear. Charley won’t never much of a religious man anyway, no-sir-re. Why he never would go to Sunday school, church or revival meeting. In fact, if’en you didn’t watch him, he’d cheat you blind. He’d go to weigh out a customer a mess of fish, looking them straight in the eye, and I be dog gone if’en Charley wouldn’t have his thumb on th...

4 days ago | | | Email

Scotland offers plenty of things to do

“There’s nothing to do in Scotland County!”Have you ever heard this? I have and every time I hear it, I really want to scream. There are at least two to three times a month when I either have to decide which event I attend or I go somewhere and leave early, so that I can make it to the next event. Yet, there are people who think there is nothing to do in Scotland County. I just don’t understand it!

4 days ago | | | Email

Don’t let back-to-school tasks sneak up on you

Parents, if this is your first time at the back-to-school rodeo, let me share a few lessons my wife and I have learned the hard way. Chances are you’ll be spending the next few weeks filling out piles of pre-enrollment paperwork, lining up carpools and, of course, taking the dreaded shopping excursions for clothes and school supplies.If you’re a first-timer or simply need a back-to-school refresher course, here are a few suggestions that can help you save time, money an...

5 days ago | | | Email

Where did all of NC’s new voters come from?

“Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.So what? What difference does it make to us that almost half of North Carolina voters were born somewhere else?To begin to show the importance of such a large number of non-North Carolina natives participating in the state’s election process, DataNet gives us a sh...

5 days ago | | | Email

No blessing for those who hurry

“Pole’, pole’ child … haraka, haraka, akuna baraka.” Slow down child. There is no blessing for those who hurry.The voices of the elders in Matondoni, Kenya ring out to me 25 years later. Slow down child. How often I have forgotten that lesson over the years. But today their voices are loud and clear in my head. Slow down.

8 days ago | | | Email

The U.S. border must be secured

As many of you know, we currently have a crisis along our southern border. While the White House continues to claim that border security is at its strongest in history, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have illegally made their way into the United States this year. The administration’s slow reaction to this problem and failure of leadership has led to this humanitarian crisis. To add insult to injury, as tens of thousands of minors stream across the border, the president refuse...

8 days ago | | | Email

Statistics the seed of a fruitful debate

I’m told that while there is no firmly established gift tradition for a 28th anniversary, the modern practice is to signify the event with an orchid.Well, this month marks the 28th anniversary of the birth of my syndicated column on North Carolina politics and public policy. It began during my tenure as a part-time reporter for a Nash County newspaper, the Spring Hope Enterprise. By the end of the 1980s, the column was running in several other newspapers in eastern North Caro...

9 days ago | | | Email

Disputes about teacher pay, Medicaid continue

These are fascinating times in Raleigh for political junkies and folks in the public policy world, as House and Senate leaders of the same political party trade budget offers back and forth and Gov. Pat McCrory weighs in with strong words and photo ops and veto threats. But there is a devastating subplot for public schools just below the surface of all the legislative intrigue.Most of the current public dispute is about teacher pay, teacher assistants, and Medicaid.

9 days ago | | | Email

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