- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

Nov. 3

Fayetteville (North Carolina) Observer on misinformation of Ebola:

A traveler recently returned to a rural North Carolina county after spending time in Liberia, a West African nation plagued by a severe Ebola outbreak this year.

There were no signs of illness and the person reported no contact with Ebola. A short time later, a fever occurred. The individual was transported to Duke University Hospital, whose reputation is among world’s best medical facilities.

The fever could be a sign of anything from a cold to malaria, but all precautions were taken and monitoring continued in case it was the incurable viral disease that has claimed thousands of lives. The patient has since tested negative for Ebola.

The distance from Fayetteville to Durham is insubstantial for a contagion that has devastated entire nations.

Should we have been concerned? At least moderate concern was in order and still is.

The Centers for Disease Control and a Texas hospital made serious blunders in dealing with previous Ebola patients. Just as the disease targets care providers in Africa, several medical personnel in the U.S. have become ill. When the time comes, let’s hope North Carolina hospital staffs have learned from others’ mistakes.

Already troops from Fort Bragg have been deployed into Ebola zones to help combat the disease’s spread. As they rotate out, these soldiers are subjected to quarantine and observation before returning home. Like it or not, our community is already part of the response to Ebola.

Today’s globalization can be frightening - we’re not sure what a plague looks like when our interconnectedness provides so many new vectors for its spread. But our medical knowledge is also much greater than during earlier pandemics.

Meanwhile, individuals should avoid panic and recognize that we outsmart this virus by keeping level heads.




Nov. 2

Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal on homelessness:

The Jewish holiday Sukkot, celebrated last month, is marked by building and living in a temporary shelter, in remembrance of the days the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness. An event built around the holiday was a needed reminder that, for the homeless, the problem of shelter is a constant one.

Every year, Sukkot provides a springboard for the annual Festival of Shelters conducted by Anthony’s Plot, a Christian advocacy group that seeks to help the homeless. On Oct. 8 through 15, supporters stayed with members of the homeless population in shelters mostly composed of boxes and tents in a vacant lot across from the Forsyth County Public Li-brary on West Fifth Street. They cooked, ate sandwiches, talked and prayed. The project concluded with a march through town.

“This is a chance to remember that God was very near to people who were displaced, and God continues to be,” the Rev. Russ May, co-founder of Anthony’s Plot, told the Journal’s Meghann Evans.

“They’re experiencing what the homeless go through,” Larry Harris, a homeless resident of Winston-Salem, told the Journal. “They are really helping us out here, because a lot of people have nowhere to go,” he said.

As if to echo the problem, the last day of the Festival of Shelters was also the last day that our downtown library was open to the public before being closed for renovations. The homeless now find one more door closed to them.

Homelessness is a core issue being tackled by many in our city and county. Mayor Allen Joines has joined others in the push to end chronic homelessness. There are also efforts by the local United Way and Whole Man Ministries of N.C.

Yet the problem persists.

As we’ve noted before, homelessness is often tied to other problems - unemployment, substance abuse, mental illness - and there’s just no easy solution. But we’ve got to keep trying.




Nov. 3

News & Record, Greensboro, North Carolina, on UNCG’s mess:

University of North Carolina Greensboro’s aggressive, shock-and-awe response to alleged freelance work on company time by three former employees is looking clumsier and curiouser by the minute.

The latest turn in the embarrassing saga came Thursday, in District Court, when prosecutors dropped all 22 felony charges connected to the case.

Two former university photographers, Chris English and David Wilson, were ordered to pay $875 and $770, respectively, for the outside work they allegedly did while on the clock at UNCG, on UNCG equipment. If anyone’s counting, that comes to a grand total of $1,645.

At this point, it’s fair to ask: Is that all there is? Is this the egregious harm that brought nearly two-dozen felony charges and the threat of prison time?

English and Wilson, who are appealing their firings, each also agreed to perform 40 hours of community service. But they maintain their innocence, and they have complained that UNCG never fully heard their side of the story before they were fired.

In another, more telling development, their supervisor, Lyda Carpen, who also is filing an appeal, had all charges dropped that she allegedly aided and abetted the unauthorized work, with no additional conditions attached. Carpen, you may recall, was handcuffed and taken to the magistrate’s office after surrendering to university police.

Do the dropped charges completely vindicate “The UNCG Three,” as some are calling them? No, they don’t. That may or may not happen during the appeals process.

But they do cast more unflattering light on the university’s decision to swat houseflies with a Death Star. Why didn’t the university intervene on the employees’ behalf with the district attorney to avoid a demeaning and wholly unnecessary spectacle? Was firing not enough? Was the alleged pilfering of $1,600 in UNCG’s time and treasure really worth a date in court?

Then there’s the ongoing collateral damage.

There’s the confusion among faculty and staff, who are still trying to make sense of both the severity of the university’s actions and the implications for their own outside work.

There are accusations of abusive management practices in the University Relations office, where these three employees worked and where seven employees have left, been laid off or been fired since April.

There is Chancellor Linda Brady’s impending retirement amid teetering morale and confidence in her leadership.

There’s the university’s refusal to release to the News & Record public documents related to this matter.

And there is the still-unanswered question of why?

Some UNCG leaders may blame the media, but this is a mess of their own making. It didn’t have to be so mean or so public. That choice was theirs, and theirs alone.



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