Opinion Roundup: New maps not an option for November, Trump’s visit to Charlotte, reflections on the American worker and more

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Is Partisan Gerrymandering Legal? Why the Courts Are Divided.

Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018 — A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: New congressional maps not viable option for 2018 elections, judges say revised amendment language now acceptable to go before voters, Trump’s visit to Charlotte, Gov. Cooper calls for action plan to address infant mortality rate, options to expand healthcare for cancer patients and more.

CAMPAIGN 2018
TRAVIS FAIN: Groups challenging NC’s congressional map: Reluctantly, don’t change it before November (WRAL-TV reports) — Attorneys for Common Cause and the League of Women Voters "reluctantly concluded" in a brief filed Friday that trying to redraw the districts now would be "disruptive and potentially counterproductive."

ROBERT BARNES: Plaintiffs in N.C. gerrymandering case say new maps not an option for November (Washington Post reports) — Although the Supreme Court often invalidates plans because of racial gerrymandering, it has never thrown out a plan because of partisan gerrymandering. In the past term, the justices considered a plan drawn by Democrats in Maryland and a Republican legislative map in Wisconsin, but did not reach the merits of those cases. The Supreme Court is required to either affirm or reverse such redistricting decisions, so it will almost surely accept the North Carolina case at some point.

TRAVIS FAIN: Court sides with legislature: Amendment language OK (WRAL-TV reports) — A unanimous three-judge panel sided with Republican legislative leaders against the governor Friday, saying the ballot language for two proposed constitutional amendments is reasonable enough to go before voters.

CRAIG JARVIS: Judges say Cooper — not lawmakers — can control certain boards (Durham-Herald Sun reports — A three-judge panel expanded Gov. Cooper’s authority to make certain appointments, the latest step in a separation-of-powers struggle that began when then-Gov. Pat McCrory sued the General Assembly in 2016.

Maybe chaos will spur reform (Hendersonville Times-News) — Going forward, the solution is for legislative leaders to enact nonpartisan redistricting reform of the kind long advocated by advocacy groups on the left and the right. Until they do, electoral chaos and repeated court challenges are bound to continue.

POLICY & POLITICS
It’s Labor Day weekend. Tell us if you’ve read this before (Charlotte Observer) — It’s true that the Republican tax bill has been a windfall for corporations and the wealthy. And yes, wages have increased slightly in the months since, but those increases are in line with inflation. Real wages are actually stagnant, and even some Republicans have admitted that there’s no evidence that tax cut money has been helping the American worker.

ELY PORTILLO & ANNA DOUGLAS: Trump mixed politics and policy during a visit to Charlotte, ‘a very special place’ (Charlotte Observer reports) — It was Trump’s first trip to Charlotte since the March funeral of the Rev. Billy Graham. It comes two years before the president is expected to return for the 2020 Republican National Convention.

BRUCE HENDERSON & ELY PORTILLO: Trump says Lake Norman is the world’s largest man-made lake. (It’s not…) (Charlotte Observer reports) — The Duke Energy-managed reservoir north of Charlotte, filled in 1963, is indeed large. It covers 32,510 acres and has 520 miles of shoreline. NCPedia.org calls it the biggest man-made lake lying entirely in North Carolina.

ANNA DOUGLAS: Gambling ‘epidemic?’ This NC city has more arcades than it does McDonald’s (Charlotte Observer reports) — “There’s just been no enforcement,” Sen. Andy Wells said. “They go where the people don’t have a lot of money. They’re preying on the weakest among us.” He’s talking about the “fish game” — the latest video arcade craze that’s enticed people across North Carolina to part with hundreds of dollars at a time, hoping they’ll win big.

JOHN MURAWSKI: As NC babies die at one of the fastest rates in the country, Cooper calls for action plan (Durham-Herald Sun reports) — Thirty years ago the state had plummeted to the nation’s second-worst infant mortality rate, prompting the creation of Smart Start and other government programs to reverse the trend. The state’s infant mortality rate has now improved, but is still the 12th-worst rate in the country, according to the latest data available.

STAN KELLY: Carolina Core is the future of the North Carolina’s growth (Greensboro News & Record column) — The next engine of transformational economic growth for North Carolina lies in the Carolina Core — an emerging megasite corridor between Winston-Salem and Fayetteville, in the heart of the state, which bridges that urban corridor with Charlotte and the Research Triangle.

DR. CHRIS FONVIELLE: Historic context vital for Confederate monuments (Wilmington Star News column) — We cannot alter or change history or right past wrongs and injustices by attempting to erase it or by relocating, removing, or obliterating monuments to people and events of the past. We should study history to remind us, teach us, guide us, and inspire us to be better persons and better citizens. We must not, however, use it to wage cultural warfare against one another or for political gain

EDUCATION
JONATHAN DREW: UNC head: Confederate doesn’t belong at campus ‘front door’ (AP reports) — The chancellor of North Carolina’s flagship university strongly indicated Friday that the school won’t return a torn-down Confederate statue to the main quad where it used to stand, but stopped short of confirming its former spot has been ruled out.

JULIA JACOBS & ALAN BINDER: University of North Carolina Chancellor Explores New Spot for ‘Silent Sam’ (New York Times reports) — Although U.N.C. leaders had expressed interest in relocating the statue, they found themselves — to the irritation and aggravation of Silent Sam’s fiercest critics — severely restricted by a 2015 state law declaring that a “monument, memorial or work of art owned by the state” may not be “removed, relocated or altered in any way” without the consent of a state historical commission.

FRANCES SELLERS & SUSAN SVRIUGA: UNC the latest college to grapple with the felling of a Confederate statue amid fears of rising tension (Washington Post reports) — Decades of internal debate about the statue and its prominence on this Southern campus have escalated into a politicized public drama, one heightened by the similarities to the controversy in Charlottesville a year ago, which erupted into a rally that turned fatal after white nationalists and others objected to the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

HEALTH
JULIANA REED: An option for expanding care for cancer patients in North Carolina (Greensboro News & Record) — Despite valuable medical advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment over recent decades, cancer rates remain alarmingly high in North Carolina. Almost 54,000 new patients in North Carolina are diagnosed with cancer each year — one of the highest rates in the United States.

MARK TOSCZAK: Mission and HCA Agree to Terms of Potential Sale (NC Health News reports) — Mission Health’s board of directors has signed an agreement to sell the Asheville-based health system to for-profit hospital operator HCA Healthcare for $1.5 billion. HCA and Mission will each put $25 million into an “innovation fund” to invest in businesses “providing innovations in health care delivery that benefit the people of western North Carolina.” Any deal still has to be approved by N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein before it can be completed, but that looks likely.

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