North Carolina editorial roundup
Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:
The Robesonian on the deaths of police officers:
If you are a public servant in Robeson County and are spooked by such things, 2019 can’t get here quickly enough.
This county, already robbed this year of the lives of three highly visible public servants whose deaths were all sudden and unexpected, lost two more, both of whom wore the blue.
Jason Quick was just 31 years old, a husband and father of two young children, and someone whom fellow Lumberton police officers said was born to protect others. ... We are told, Quick was not scheduled to work, but offered to help out because the department was shorthanded and that’s just how he rolled. He was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while working an accident on Interstate 95.
Hubert Sealey, who didn’t look his 53 years, also had a wife, and was the father of four children. Sealey worked as a patrol officer for the Red Springs Police Department, but he is better known as a county commissioner, having served the District 2 residents from 2002 to 2014. Most recently he re-emerged on the front pages of this newspaper as he tried to recapture the District 2 seat, made vacant by the Sept. 28 death of another 2018 casualty, Berlester Campbell.
Sealey had spent five hours on Saturday in Raleigh, arguing successfully that the process used to elect Berlester Campbell’s wife, Pauline, as the District 2 representative was either flawed or perhaps purposely corrupt. So another election is being planned, and while no one knows what its outcome would have been, there is the possibility Sealey would have returned to the Board of Commissioners, and a power shift would have occurred.
We spoke to him several times in recent weeks as he pursued the District 2 seat, and he remained as we remembered him — exceedingly polite, soft-spoken, and determined to make a difference for the residents of District 2.
So Quick and Sealey join Campbell, Patrick Pait, who died June 3 in a traffic accident, almost on the exact four-year anniversary of him becoming county attorney, and Leon Maynor, the Precinct 7 representative on the Lumberton City Council who was the longest serving council member when he died after a short illness on July 2.
Quick’s death, in particular, is a reminder of the dangers that lurk for those who run toward trouble, and not away from it. He is the first lawman in Robeson County to lose his life in the line of duty since Jeremiah Goodson, also a Lumberton police officer, who was gunned down in 2012 by a coward. Goodson, like Quick could have been on Saturday, was off-duty that July day, but was killed while trying to serve a warrant.
We are heartened once again to see how Robeson County has responded to yet another shared tragedy, which lately seem to be coming in rapid fire. We know this community, and especially Quick’s brothers in blue at the Lumberton Police Department, will be there for his wife and children as their toughest days are ahead of them, both in the near and the far.
We hope as well that this community remembers once again how these first responders, police officers, firefighters and rescue personnel, selfishly put themselves square in danger’s way. Tragedies ... are unwelcome reminders that we should always be thankful for the sacrifices that they make every day on behalf of the rest of us.
Winston-Salem Journal evaluates North Carolina’s “cool” factor after failing to entice major businesses:
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
After being spurned not once, not twice but thrice in the pursuit of a sexy employer with cash and cachet over the last six months, North Carolina may be starting to feel like the poor sap who keeps hearing lines like that.
First, it was the Army that in July said no to a Futures Command Center in the state, choosing instead to take the 300 jobs to Austin, Texas.
Then it was Amazon, which in November kicked the Tar Heel State to the curb and picked New York and Virginia for its epic HQ2 project.
Then it was Apple, which this month announced that it would spend $1 billion on a new campus, also in Austin.
At any rate, three strikes and we’re starting to have self-esteem issues.
There have been other setbacks. Not that anyone in the Triad particularly wants to be reminded, a Toyota-Mazda electric auto plant that seemed a solid bet for the Greensboro-Randolph megasite ... until it chose Huntsville, Ala., in early January.
To be fair, North Carolina does have impressive selling points (its universities and its quality of life, to name two). And a lot of states have walked away losers in these most recent corporate sweepstakes. There were no fewer than 20 finalists, including Raleigh, in the bid to lure Amazon’s HQ2. But a little self-reflection still may be in order.
A recent story by The News & Observer of Raleigh did precisely that, theorizing, in a series of interviews with economic development and recruitment experts that the problem might be a lack of identity. Or more specifically, a low “coolness” quotient.
“You have some cool cities,” Tom Stringer, a site selection and business incentives specialist for the consulting firm BDO told The News & Observer, “but they don’t have the feel of Austin, Nashville, Brooklyn or Boston.”
It probably didn’t help that North Carolina hasn’t made the most flattering national headlines over the last two years. For instance, the state’s now partially repealed “bathroom law,” HB2, cost the state millions economically. The bitter aftertaste lingers. The Charlotte Observer reported recently that the city, which was the epicenter of the HB2 debate, was still investing money to undo the harm. According to email records, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority’s current 2019 budget includes $2 million in “Post HB2 Marketing/Sales support.”
Then there is the state’s broadening reputation for scorched-earth partisan politics:
The hot mess over possible absentee-ballot fraud in the still-unresolved 9th Congressional District election.
Attempts to strip incoming Democratic governors in Wisconsin and Michigan of their powers by Republican legislatures — following North Carolina’s playbook.
And the unsuccessful attempt to nominate Thomas Farr, who played a role in a postcard campaign by the late Sen. Jesse Helms to intimidate black voters, to a federal district judgeship in North Carolina’s Eastern District.
Maybe we need to take a good look in the mirror. Stringer, the site-selection expert, wasn’t specific, but he did mention our state’s “uncertain politics.”
And that’s definitely not cool.
News & Record of Greensboro applauds Sen. Thom Tillis for spotlighting solar energy:
Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina released a statement to remind us that the Trump administration’s tariffs are hurting a significant part of the state’s economy: the solar energy market that has been providing jobs and essential income for North Carolinians.
Good for him to keep light on this important issue.
“The growth of solar energy in North Carolina has created thousands of jobs, generated billions of dollars of investment, and fostered economic development,” Tillis’ statement read. “Since the imposition of tariffs, North Carolina has experienced an exponential decrease in solar investment and projects planned. ... I will continue to advocate for the exclusion of advanced technologies that have the capability to modernize our grid and make the American solar energy industry globally competitive.”
Tillis is right. The tariffs are on imported solar panels, but the imports are matched with mechanics and infrastructure made in the U.S. In North Carolina, solar farms now generate income where textile factories and tobacco farms once did. The industry powers more than 400,000 homes and employs around 7,000 people, WRAL reported earlier this year. “The state ranks as high as second in solar power production (behind California),” WRAL added, noting Duke Energy’s investment in solar.
Duke Energy operates 35 solar facilities in North Carolina with 2,500 megawatts connected to its energy grid.
Tillis calls for “carve-out exclusions” — but the tariffs, which essentially are taxes on U.S. purchasers — should be eliminated in total. President Trump may not have been thinking about renewable energy in particular when he began imposing tariffs on foreign goods, but his policies serve to remind us of a bigger energy picture that can influence our future for good or ill.
On one side we have renewable energy sources like solar and wind that become cheaper and more reliable as innovations and infrastructure are developed more fully, to the point that they’re now competitive with fossil fuels. It’s the direction that much of the developed world is taking, from China to Germany. Any young person who is good with his or her hands and who wants to find stable and lucrative employment should look into wind turbine repair.
On the other is the Trump administration’s commitment to coal production and drilling for oil, even along our sensitive coasts, and its antipathy toward renewable energy. Earlier this month, the administration announced an impending end to subsidies for electric cars and renewable energy sources.
But fossil fuel can be propped up only for so long. As former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote in a Facebook post several years ago: “I don’t want to be like the last horse and buggy salesman who was holding out as cars took over the roads. I don’t want to be the last investor in Blockbuster as Netflix emerged. That’s exactly what is going to happen to fossil fuels.”
We were once poised to lead the world into a clean energy future, but Trump policies threaten to bump us to the back of the line. North Carolina has a bright and prosperous future in renewable energy. It should be nurtured, not hindered.