- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

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Nov. 4

The Fayetteville Observer on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors:

The past few weeks have not opened an era of distinction for the UNC Board of Governors. Quite the contrary.

First the board furtively gathered - falsely labeling it an “emergency” meeting - to elect former U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings as its new president.

In doing so, the board took pains to avoid public scrutiny and a legislative directive to choose three finalists for the post. The board chairman promptly resigned and got out of town as fast as he could.

Then the board met again last Friday and secretly raised the salaries of a dozen of its chancellors. It was a clear violation of the state’s open-meeting laws, which require that any decisions discussed in closed sessions must be ratified by a vote in a public meeting.

This is not the sort of distinguished work we should be getting from the board that’s running what until now has been considered one of the finest public university systems in the country.

We hope the shoddy work we’ve seen in recent weeks doesn’t foretell the fall of a great institution. Political hackery like this could too easily infect and devastate our university system.

Online:

http://www.fayobserver.com/

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Nov. 3

The Winston-Salem Journal on Winston-Salem State University shooting:

The shooting on the campus of Winston-Salem State University early Sunday shattered a happy homecoming. One student was fatally shot and another was injured. The school is grieving now. The slain student and all his promise can’t ever be forgotten.

And as the injured student recovers, so will the school. That’s a certainty. We’re all behind the school. As Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said in a press release, the city joins WSSU in grieving Anthony White’s death and the injured student. “This terrible incident has marred what should have been a weekend of celebration for the new chancellor and for returning alumni enjoying their homecoming weekend. I urge all the citizens of Winston-Salem to keep these students, their families, and the Winston-Salem State community in their thoughts and prayers.”

We hope that the suspect, Jarrett Jerome Moore, a former WSSU student, is investigated and prosecuted fairly and justly. Back in August, Moore had been arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting a public officer.

The student fatally shot was 19-year-old Anthony White Jr. of Charlotte, the Journal reported. He was studying information technology at WSSU. He’d been a talented football player in college, his mother, Xavier Martin, told The Charlotte Observer, but chose not to play sports in college so he could focus on his education.

God only knows what Anthony White might have accomplished.

The shooting was a terrible setback. Several years ago, the school experienced problems with crime. It responded with heightening security.

And the school responded well to the shooting, alerting students and putting the campus on lockdown. Chancellor Elwood Robinson, whose installation was part of homecoming week, stayed true to form in strong leadership. Weeping comes in the night, he said, quoting the Psalm, but joy comes in the morning. “We seek the joy that comes in the morning,” he said.

So should we all. There will be grieving on campus, as well there should be. Eventually, justice will be visited upon the shooter.

And this we know for sure: Nothing keeps Winston-Salem State University down. That school has a city and a lot more behind it.

Online:

http://www.journalnow.com/

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Nov. 3

The Raleigh News & Observer on the North Caorlina contract case:

It didn’t take long for fears about moving the State Bureau of Investigation from under the attorney general to the Department of Public Safety in the executive branch to be realized.

When the move surfaced as part of the state Senate’s 2014-15 budget, Attorney General Roy Cooper, district attorneys and sheriffs said it would inhibit investigations involving a governor or any department in the executive branch.

“When a U.S. attorney or a prosecutor calls on the SBI, they want an independent agency that can help them find the truth,” Cooper said in a May 2014 interview with The News & Observer. “They do not want an agency that is maybe governed by the very people who are being investigated.”

A year after the move that is exactly what is happening.

Questions are being raised about Gov. Pat McCrory’s role in extending prison maintenance contracts for his friend and contributor, Graeme Keith Sr. Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry objected to the extensions, saying the private contracts at three prisons did not save money and posed a security risk. He ultimately approved the extensions in compliance with a “marching order” from the governor’s office.

The objections of Perry and other DPS staff are documented in a memo and several text messages. It appears that someone took those concerns to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The FBI has interviewed several people involved in the matter.

Why the FBI instead of the SBI? Likely it’s because a whistleblower or a district attorney did not want the possibility of political favoritism affecting contracts to be investigated by “an agency that is maybe governed by the very people who are being investigated.”

In this case, Perry could be a witness and McCrory could be a target. How can the public have confidence that an SBI head appointed by the governor will aggressively pursue a case involving the executive branch?

Republican legislators said the move would increase efficiency and create synergy between law enforcement groups working within the same department. But the real driving force was a desire to undercut the power of Cooper, a Democrat, who is running for governor.

That political end was achieved, but the public was ill-served. The SBI had functioned effectively and independently under the attorney general since 1939. Despite Cooper’s party affiliation, the SBI pursued cases against top Democrats.

Republican lawmakers said the SBI would be insulated in its new location because its director is appointed by the governor for eight years and can’t be fired by him. That thin assurance hardly compensates for the SBI’s lost appearance of independence.

Online:

http://www.newsobserver.com/

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