CHARADE BONUSES? JUST PAY NC WORKERS A LIVABLE WAGE: Former Gov. Pat McCrory, now a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, bragged in a recent interview about slashing the state’s unemployment benefits back in 2013 to among the lowest in the nation. He perpetuated the myth that lowering benefits drives people to work saying some employers tell him “they cannot fill jobs now because when you pay people more not to work, guess what they’ll do? Most of them won’t work.” The facts just don’t bear it out. North Carolinians want to be on the job. Private sector employment for April has increased from 3.337 million a year ago to 3.763 million. In the hospitality and leisure sector, some have contended restaurant wait staff are shirking jobs in favor of government payouts. Not so say the figures. Employment surged 54% from 287,000 last April to 442,000 this year. What some workers are realizing, as they’ve struggled to cope during the pandemic, is the costs of childcare and related expenses to maintain a low-wage job are actually money losers.
CITY LEADERS ARE TAKING THEIR EYES OFF THE BALL ON RACIAL JUSTICE: Quanta Edwards and Kimberly Muktarian, who are Black, spoke during a virtual meeting of the Raleigh City Council’s Safe, Vibrant and Healthy Community committee Tuesday to say that black people aren’t being listened to in a city where Black residents make up 29 percent of the population. Edwards and Muktarian noted the city’s delay in creating an African-American Affairs Board while a similar Hispanic and Immigrant Affairs Board was established last year. And they pointed to a failure to adopt policing reforms, such as adding technology that would start a police officer’s body camera when his or her weapon is drawn. “The city does not operate as though it believes its Black citizens,” Edwards said. Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, who is white, said she was confused by Edwards’ complaint. “I still am searching for some examples,” she said. “If we are going to have an open conversation, when people come to talk to you, Quanta, what are they saying to you? That’s the part that is missing to me.” Try listening. It can be very helpful. The mayor was genuinely searching for clarity, but the fact that she didn’t know what was bothering some in the Black community seemed to encapsulate how the demands of last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests have lost momentum and, on city councils across North Carolina, are losing an audience.
RESPECT TEACHERS TO RECRUIT AND RETAIN EXCELLENT CLASSROOM LEADERS: For beginning teachers who are just starting from scratch, the first year of employment is exhausting and challenging to navigate. Intensive professional learning should be available to all beginning teachers so they can develop strong classroom management and pedagogical skills that they can bring to their teaching styles for years to come. So, how do we recruit and retain educators like Emilee and Eugenia? We must treat them well and invest in our educators as professionals. This requires competitive salaries, benefits and professional learning. While North Carolina has made some improvements in these areas over the past decade, we still have significant room to grow, as NC’s average teacher pay is significantly below the national average. We must prioritize these investments in educators to address teacher shortages — in particular in our lower wealth school districts — and ensure every child in North Carolina has access to a sound basic education. We are grateful for our educators and all that support them.
THE REALLY SCARY REASON REPUBLICANS DON'T WANT TO FACE THE TRUTH ABOUT JAN 6: The more dangerous truth is that a not-insignificant portion of the GOP’s Trumpian base actually appears to believe that the violent mob was justified in its effort to disrupt Congress as it conducted its pro forma tally of the electoral votes that made Joe Biden the 46th president. These are the people who have bought into Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and who share at least some of the unhinged theories that fuel the QAnon movement. A new poll released by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core shows that these dangerous and conspiratorial beliefs are not confined to the country’s dank backwaters. Fully 20 percent of more than 5,500 adults questioned in all 50 states — and 28 percent of Republicans among them — said they agreed with the statement that “there is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders.” Even more worrisome were the 15 percent overall — and, again, 28 percent of Republicans — who were of the opinion that because “things have gotten so off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” What Republicans made clear with their vote on Friday is that they would rather allow this thinking to fester within their base, and hope that it works to their electoral advantage, than to stand up to it. McConnell may be right that dodging and delaying accountability for what happened on Jan. 6 could help Republicans win back power in Congress. But by standing in the way of a reckoning with the poisonous forces that are growing within the ranks of their own party, they are doing a disservice to the country — one for which democracy itself will ultimately pay a price.
OUR COLLECTIVE, VIOLENT PTSD: There was another mass shooting on Wednesday, this time leaving nine people dead, just one of the latest mass shootings of the 230-plus so far this year, according to a tally maintained by The New York Times. As The Times reported, “The Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator, counted more than 600 such shootings in 2020, compared with 417 in 2019.” We need to recognize the trauma and stress that we as a society have endured because of Covid-19, the collapse of our social structure, the crippling of an economy and the way the racial justice protests have unsettled some people. You add that to an already violent society, one saturated with guns and becoming even more saturated every day, and violence — including mass shootings — is a natural, horrific, inevitable outgrowth. Many of the people we considered essential workers, the ones who kept our society functioning, are the same people on the receiving end of much of the violence. There has been a surge in unruly passengers on airplanes. A Southwest Airlines flight attendant had two teeth knocked out over the weekend when she was attacked by a passenger. New York City bus drivers have seen a surge in violence, and the medical field, already suffering from a pre-Covid surge, has seen even more violence. This is all happening at the same time that we see an extraordinary surge in gun background checks and purchases during the pandemic. As we begin to get back to normal, as some states plan to lift restrictions this summer, schools plan to reopen in the fall and in-office desk jobs begin to beckon stay-at-home workers, we must remember that there is a segment of society that will not so easily shake off the effects of this pandemic.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
JO NICHOLAS: BILL CRIMINALIZING PROTESTS SHOULD BE TOSSED INTO THE "UNCONSTITUTIONAL" WASTE BIN: The League of Women Voters of North Carolina opposes N.C. House Bill 805. It is based on a belief that protests are dangerous and it authorizes law enforcement to make arrests when they perceive an “imminent threat of disorderly and violent conduct,” even when no such activity may have occurred. It effectively stifles citizens’ ability to influence government through peaceful protests. While the League condemns rioting that involves trespassing and endangering people or property, there are already laws that cover destruction of property and real acts of violence. This bill is a reaction to protests for racial justice and law enforcement accountability. It is not about protecting citizens against “riots.” It’s about silencing dissent. Instead of attempting to stifle free speech, lawmakers should be protecting free expression, even when it includes messages they do not want to hear.
DAVID KIEL: HANNAH-JONES' TREATMENT IS CANCEL CULTURE AT ITS WORST: All previous Knight professors have been appointed with tenure, so why should the trustees deprive Nikole Hannah-Jones? Because she’s not an academic? All Knight chairs are not academics. The position was created so students can interact with the best journalists in the country. Because the trustees are against tenure? If so, why wait to make this point until a Black woman is nominated to a tenured position? Because Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project is not good journalism or good history? The Pulitzer Prize committee, which gives out the most sought-after award in journalism, thought it measured up. Journalism school faculty also thought she measured up when they put her forward for tenure. Why are the trustees substituting their judgment for that of the journalism school faculty, the UNC-wide tenure committee, and the provost? I’ll take a wild guess... Could it be that key Republicans are exercising their influence over the trustees to cancel Hannah-Jones, faculty rights, and freedom of thought?
JOHN TALLMADGE: MORE SIDEWALKS AND BIKELANES NEEDED TO PREVENT PEDESTRIAN DEATHS: Regarding “More NC pedestrians died in the first half of 2020, even with fewer cars on the road,” (May 20): Black residents are disproportionately the victims of traffic violence. While about 22% of our state’s population identify as Black, from 2010 through 2019 they accounted for 33% of the 1,959 people killed while walking in North Carolina. This is because a higher share of Black households do not own cars live in neighborhoods where there have not been investments in sidewalks and safe streets. Fortunately, we already know many of the changes that need to be made. We need local, state, and federal governments to fund and build complete sidewalk and bicycling networks and safely designed crossings that work for people of all ages and abilities. We need to redesign our streets for slower and safer vehicle speeds. And we need to prioritize these safety improvements and investments in low-income neighborhoods where many households do not own cars and people are especially vulnerable to traffic violence.