Sunday sampler

Man, that President Trump sure know how to get people up and marching, doesn’t he? An estimated — by whom, I don’t know — 80,000 showed up in Raleigh to protest his policies. I’m not focusing on any of that here, though. Instead…

Raleigh: The N&O updates us on the condition of former Sen. Kay Hagan, who is a friend of mine. There isn’t a whole lot new — she’s still hospitalized in Atlanta — except they think they know how she contracted the virus which caused the encephalitis. The family continues to handle this privately, which is certainly their right. But news about her is welcome — she’s contributed so much to so many in this state.

Asheville: The Citizen-Times tracks the astonishing story that ought to make everyone on social media straighten up (but won’t). “A false remark on a Facebook posting that implied a woman got drunk and caused the death of her child has resulted in a $500,000 defamation lawsuit settlement, which one law professor describes as a ‘stunning’ amount.” I won’t repeat the remark, but I’ve seen much worse on Facebook and Twitter.

Greensboro: Need a job? Train to become a jailer, or, as it;s called, a detention officer. County jails are chronically understaffed, according to the News & Record. “There are currently 60 vacant detention officer positions in Guilford County. The sheriff’s office recruits constantly to fill them, attending job fairs and advertising positions online, on TV and in print. Even with those efforts, applications have dwindled. In 2012, 695 people applied for jobs as detention officers. Last year, the number was 227.”

Sunday sampler

From the front pages of the state’s newspapers.

Raleigh: All you need is the lead: “In 50 or so counties that were power-washed by the waters of Hurricane Matthew, as many as 2,000 families with North Carolina addresses are living in the state of limbo. “We can’t live in our house, and we can’t sell it,” said Latisha Beatty.” The N&O updates us on the flood victims and it’s not pretty.

Raleigh: Steve Bannon gets all the publicity for being President Trump’s evil whisperer. The other Steve is Miller, who is a Duke grad and also senior policy adviser to Trump. The N&O revisits his time at Duke. He didn’t talk with the N&O, but others did. “He’s the most sanctimonious student I think I ever encountered,” said John Burness, Duke’s former senior vice president of public affairs and government relations. “He seemed to be absolutely sure of his own views and the correctness of them, and seemed to assume that if you were in disagreement with him, there was something malevolent or stupid about your thinking. Incredibly intolerant.”

Charlotte: Some Republicans in Charlotte want Charlotte to follow President Trump’s order on “sanctuary cities.” And, according to the Observer, it’s unclear exactly what the city is or isn’t doing when it comes to immigrants.

Greensboro and Fayetteville both have stories on the immigration ban. Greensboro’s is about a Syrian family that just beat by a week the Trump executive order banning immigration from Syria (and six other countries). The story also rounds up efforts to help refugees in Greensboro. The Observer’s story is more general, localizing the issues involved with refugees and immigrants.

Sunday sampler, the march

The Washington Post has a story this morning about how yesterday’s marches were organized outside of the mainstream media. Streets flooded with marchers across the nation, and many newspapers giving their readers little coverage of them in advance.

Well, if that’s true in North Carolina, the papers caught up today. (Front page images courtesy of the Newseum. My home paper, the News & Record is not included because its front page isn’t listed today.)

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Sunday sampler

In case you hadn’t looked outside, it snowed yesterday. But never fear, if you haven’t looked outside, the front pages of the state’s papers told you. And I’m not going to link to any of them. I’ll put the spotlight on these instead:

Carteret County News-Times: The Obama administration denied permits to tests for oil and gas off the East Coast. As a lover of the N.C. coast, this is big news to me. Towns and counties up and down the coast passed resolutions against seismic testing so it is big news for them, too. Of course, it’s an order that Donald Trump can overturn. (That isn’t a link to a story, but is a link to the front page — thank you Newseum — and the front page will be replaced on Monday. I can’t find the story on the News-Times’ website. Here is an AP story about the decision.)

Asheville and Raleigh: Both papers have front-page stories on the new Gov. Cooper administration. The Citizen-Times evaluates how much power the Democratic governor will really have, given the Republican legislature’s actions. Answer: a vague “some.”

The N&O has two stories. One is a straight-up inauguration address story. The other looks at the tone set by Cooper’s first week in office. Money quote: “That’s always been his reputation – cautious,” Gary Pearce, a longtime Democratic strategist and former aide to Gov. Jim Hunt, said Saturday. “But he came out swinging before he was even sworn in.”

 

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article125177524.html#storylink=cpy

 

Sunday sampler, transparency edition

Today begins a few weeks of slim pickings as newspapers — reporting staff already depleted gears up for two weeks of vacations and little news. It sort of shows on today’s front pages, too.

Asheville: I’m used to politicians talking about the importance of transparency in government and then ignoring it whenever they truly need to be transparent. That’s why this story about the DA in Buncombe County caught my attention. The man is walking the walk. And good for him and good government. “Todd Williams also made an unprecedented move during his press conference, in which he walked through the state’s investigation with great detail, giving the media a summary of the facts of the investigation, reading testimonies from key witnesses and displaying a series of a dozen images that support his decision. SBI reports, or even basic facts provided in them, have rarely been released to the public, as sole discretion lies with the district attorneys to make those records public.”

Winston-Salem: Here, for example, is the new head of the State Department of Public Instruction claiming that a law passed by the General Assembly last week “will help usher in an era of greater transparency at DPI by eliminating the more confusing aspects of the relationship between the N.C. superintendent and the N.C. Board of Education.” The best thing you can say about that is, well, we’ll see. What it most assuredly would do — the governor hasn’t signed it yet — is give the new state superintendent more power. He doesn’t mention that.

Raleigh: Then, of course, you have the state legislature, a place where transparency isn’t in the lexicon. The News & Observer looks back on the week in which the General Assembly decided to change the rules when it didn’t like the outcome of the election. The paper examines the strength of a court case challenging the legislators’ actions. “But Cooper could have a hard time making the case that the legislature has improperly intruded on his turf, constitutional experts said. Former state Supreme Court Justice Burley Mitchell said Cooper would have trouble claiming that reducing his appointments is unconstitutional, because those were written into state law, not the constitution.”

 

 

Sunday sampler

Raleigh: Both the News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer contributed to this story about what the political future holds next for Gov.-elect Roy Cooper. Essentially, he has the power to appoint lots of people; the Republican legislature has the power to override his veto. Nothing is certain, but this is a good, broad look at the possibilities when it comes to voting rights, teacher pay and education, HB2, the environment, Medicaid, jobs and abortion.

Greensboro: The News & Record has a similar story that deals primarily with the political headwinds Cooper will face, rather than the issues.

Winston-Salem: That North Carolina rivals West Virginia for having the nation’s lowest average school principal salary should be embarrassing to everyone, and likely is, except for the state legislature. But members of the General Assembly want to give responsibility to determining principals’ pay to local districts. “While this would give districts more flexibility in how they pay principals in various settings — for example, offering more to principals at struggling schools instead of always paying the most to principals at the largest schools — the proposal wouldn’t improve average principal pay unless the state also threw more money into the pot.”

Fayetteville: It’s been two months since Hurricane Matthew flooded much of Eastern North Carolina. It’s been two months since hundreds of people escaped their homes amid the flooding. Many are still homeless. The Observer hasn’t left the story, either. “Housing is one of several issues that local, state and federal officials are facing in the hurricane’s aftermath. Cleaning up the debris is an immediate problem. Repairing the damaged roads is ongoing and expected to last well into next year. Erosion that damaged land along creeks and streams that flooded in the storm will require long-term research.”

Related: The New York Times has a good video on the travails of Princeville.

Sunday sampler

Burlington: The Times-News has an exceptional piece citing the ambiguous — if not hypocritical, clueless or purposely ignorant — position of people in Alamance County who want to go back to an earlier time. That time is apparently one in which the Confederate flag was a symbol of goodness. The reporter gently but clearly points out the absurdity of what the organization says and stands for. Read it.

Charlotte: The cynic in me wants to say, “how cute! Trump voters actually believed him when he said he will bring the manufacturing jobs back from overseas!” But that would be mean. Yes, the Observer tracks the North Carolinians who expect Trump to deliver on that promise, although people should know that he won’t because he can’t. (It isn’t how capitalism or present-day needs work.) But those interviewed in Kannapolis say the town lacks the bustle and the job opportunities it had in its heyday, when they worked in the mills or had family members who did…“The mill fed my family,” said Bringle, now 54. “They used to have summer help for the high school kids. I worked there two summers – 1979-80. It was a thriving business here. And it’s gone. China’s got it.

Greensboro: I graduated from an exceptional small college that had terrible budget problems and is fighting its way back. So this piece about Greensboro College’s return interested me. (GC is not my alma mater.) It seems as if the school’s leadership did it right.

Sunday sampler

On a Thanksgiving Saturday, news editors across the land rejoiced at the death of Fidel Castro. No politics behind it, other than the politics of having something to anchor their front pages. That’s what many N.C. newspapers did, too.

I don’t care. What is more interesting to me is that of the good non-Castro stories on the front pages, the ones from the Citizen-Times and from the Charlotte Observer have been available on the web for one or two days already.

Asheville: The Citizen-Times’ story on the impact of a shifting N.C. Supreme Court is actually an AP story. (It was published online Thursday.) Once Morgan takes office in January, a Democratic lawmaker says, the court of four Democrats and three Republicans will provide a stronger safeguard against unconstitutional legislation, since the GOP will continue to have veto-proof majorities in the General Assembly even if Cooper unseats Republican Gov. Pat McCrory. Morgan’s victory “was enormous. I don’t know how to say it emphatically enough,” said Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake. “It’s going to mean a lot, not just to Democrats but to all of North Carolina.”

Charlotte: The Observer’s story on the environmental impact along the coast of a Trump presidency actually comes from McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. (It was published online on Friday.) With Trump’s triumph, many folks along North Carolina’s coast – from fishermen to farmers to hotel operators and restaurateurs who rely on tourism – are nervous. They’re worried about what’s coming from the president-elect, especially after he named a leading global-warming contrarian, Myron Ebell, to handle his transition on environmental matters.

Greensboro: A nice read from the News & Record about a young woman who nearly died in a house fire in 2008, fighting to regain her life.

Raleigh: A second nice read from the N&O, this one about a young man with cancer who gets a “Make A Wish” visit to watch his favorite team, UNC, play basketball in Hawaii.

Sunday sampler

Sadly, it’s all fires all the time. Charlotte, Raleigh and Asheville front pages are dominated by stories about the wildfires raging in the mountains.

Wilmington: If all the fire coverage weren’t enough, swing down to the coast for flooding coverage because the Star-News has an excellent story on the continued aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. “We all need to know that events like Floyd and Matthew are not uncommon. We act like they’re uncommon, ‘They’re 500-year events.’ It’s not that uncommon,” said Burrell Montz, the chair of East Carolina University’s human geography department. That leaves governments and residents in the most-affected areas with a lingering question: What will you do before the next storm comes?

Greensboro: All you need is the first two paragraphs in the News & Record’s story. In Guilford County, 4,177 DWI cases linger in the courts. The county’s average case for driving while intoxicated is more than a year-and-a-half old, but some cases have taken more than three years to wind through the system. Here’s the kicker: That’s not even the highest in the region.

 

Time to take Trump literally

In a story about Donald Trump’s lies and purposeful misstatements, Atlantic writer Salena Zito wrote in September: “When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” (Bold is mine.)

It’s time his supporters take him literally.

Look at who he has chosen as his closest advisors:

Steve Bannon as White House senior counselor: Mr. Bannon is in some ways a perplexing figure: a far-right ideologue who made his millions investing in “Seinfeld”; a former Goldman Sachs banker who has reportedly called himself a “Leninist” with a goal “to destroy the state” and “bring everything crashing down.” He has also called progressive women “a bunch of dykes” and, in a 2014 email to one of his editors, wrote of the Republican leadership, “Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that’s the ONLY thing that will make them do their duty.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions for AG: For starters, forget about aggressive protection of civil rights, and of voting rights in particular. Mr. Sessions has called the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a “piece of intrusive legislation.” Under him, the department would most likely focus less on prosecutions of minority voter suppression and more on rooting out voter fraud, that hallowed conservative myth.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser: Americans of all political backgrounds should be alarmed that General Flynn will be President-elect Donald Trump’s national security adviser. It’s likely, given his record, that he will encourage Mr. Trump’s worst impulses, fuel suspicions of Muslims and bring to the job conflicts of interest from his international consulting work.

Rep. Mike Pompeo for CIA director: More disturbingly, he has claimed that the U.S. government’s surveillance powers have been critically weakened by reforms designed to prevent abuses. He has called for the creation of a large database combining phone records with “publicly available financial and lifestyle information.” Mr. Pompeo also has suggested that foreign terrorism suspects should be held for prolonged periods for interrogation by the military or CIA — a policy that would likely revive the Bush administration’s disastrous misuse of the Guantanamo Bay prison.