- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:


Sept. 28

Wilmington (North Carolina) Star News on what people can learn from middle school gun incident:

With what we’ve witnessed in places such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, it’s no surprise that word of a gun at a school strikes horror in parents. It didn’t take long this school year for such an event to occur, as a 14-year-old girl was found to have a loaded handgun in her backpack Sept. 18 at Williston Junior High.

It’s not known what the girl’s intentions were, but for the most part, the scary incident seems to have played out about as well as we could have hoped.

Because the incident involved a juvenile and because of a plethora of student privacy laws, details on exactly what happened remain unclear, at least to the public. Law enforcement and school officials know more about what happened than they believe they are legally able to disclose.

The StarNews has continued to ask for details, but, for now, we will have to trust that officials are doing the right thing regarding the student as well as any safety procedures that may need to be revisited.

We do know that someone either knew the girl had a gun or suspected she did and got word to a sheriff’s deputy at the school. The deputy promptly and, it seems by official accounts, very calmly approached the girl and asked if she had something she wasn’t supposed to have in school. New Hanover Schools Deputy Superintendent Rick Holliday said the girl handed the deputy her backpack, which contained the gun.

We say “well done,” first to the person who did the right thing by alerting the deputy, and second to the way the deputy responded quickly and effectively without escalating the situation.

Even though the incident ended peacefully, some parents have criticized officials for not using the school’s notification system to let parents know what had happened. Even though the incident happened at 8 a.m. and was quickly diffused, some parents were upset that they heard about it first from media outlets or their children. Some said they were caught by surprise and were not prepared to talk to their children about it.

That’s a reasonable concern, and something school system officials should re-evaluate. It’s better to err on the side of over-informing parents, especially when there had been someone on campus with a gun.

Holliday said that there was no direct threat to anyone, but that seems a little Pollyannaish. When a person has a loaded gun at a school, who knows what scenario could have played out, regardless of the girl’s intentions.




Sept. 28

Gaston (North Carolina) Gazette on compromise budget restoring tax credit for property owners who restore historic buildings

North Carolina’s compromise budget restores the tax credits for property owners who restore historic buildings. The rest of us should be grateful.

The penny pinchers in the General Assembly had abolished North Carolina’s long-standing historic preservation tax credit in their last budget round. Local officials, preservation groups and Gov. Pat McCrory - a man not often accused of tax-and-spend liberalism - had urged the legislature to bring the tax credit back.

The new version doesn’t seem as generous as the old one, which allowed tax credits of up to 30 percent on some rehabilitation projects. The budget compromise allows up to $8 million in funding for the credits in fiscal 2016-17. Still, that’s better than what we have now, which is zilch.

As most homeowners eventually learn, old buildings cost more to keep up than new ones. In purely economic terms, it’s often more sensible just to tear down and build over.

Renovation and rehabilitation does, however, bring a lot of economic benefits. Workers get hired; property owners buy a lot of lumber, paint and other supplies. The General Assembly’s fiscal research division did the math and found that the credit would generate 2.5 times as many jobs as a tax cut.

Since 1998, the old tax credit had generated an estimated $1.6 billion investment on 2,400 historic projects scattered around the state. That amount of benefit should never have been thrown away lightly.

About the program

The historic tax credit program provides an incentive to taxpayers who contribute to the preservation of historic buildings by rehabilitating them in a way that preserves the historic character of the building while allowing for new uses.

Since 1998, 2,483 historic tax credit projects have been completed statewide, bringing $1.486 billion of private investment into North Carolina communities, boosting local economies and creating jobs while preserving communities’ historic cores and our state’s priceless historic character.

HTC projects have taken place in 90 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, from rural to suburban to urban communities.

Eligibility for this program is limited only to those historic properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The continued potential for rehabilitation projects is great, and the potential for loss of these buildings without this incentive is likewise great.

Non-economic impacts of the HTC incentive program include quality-of-life enhancements, such as the reuse of iconic neighborhood schools, downtown revitalization and affordable housing.

Cultural and heritage tourism thrive with the private preservation of “authentic” North Carolina historic buildings. Heritage tourism is a vital industry and economic driver in North Carolina.

Buildings rehabilitated with a historic tax credit are often landmark buildings in communities, and vital to the community’s identity and attractiveness to residents and visitors alike.

They build safe communities by reversing crime and blight - local investment in rehabilitating vacant or dilapidated buildings gives criminals fewer places to engage in criminal activity - be it drug transactions, arson or vandalism - and decreases ugly blight by caring for buildings that would otherwise detract from neighborhood stability and property values.




September 23

The News & Observer of Raleigh on a lawmakers leaving NC with tangles incentives plan:

Job creation, much ballyhooed by candidate Pat McCrory when he was seeking the governorship, has been decidedly underwhelming since he and fellow Republicans took control of the legislative and executive branches of state government in 2013. (The GOP gained legislative control two years earlier.)

The problem has been that Republicans didn’t have any job creation plan except for tax cuts for the wealthy and businesses, a flashback to the failed trickle-down economics of the Reagan era. As witnessed by their debate over building an incentives package for business recruiting and extending tax breaks for specific businesses, Republicans can’t even agree on whether incentives work.

Instead, North Carolina could put money into an entrepreneurial fund to encourage professors and others with ideas for innovation to start businesses. The state could build up a rural economic development center like the one Republicans gutted. And the Commerce Department, which under the governor was supposed to form some whiz-bang, public-private business recruiting organization, could take that stalled effort and try to reorganize.

What the state is doing, or isn’t doing, will not bring businesses and jobs without those in charge having an idea about how to start the engine of job creation, and the Republican leadership doesn’t seem to have a clue. Their promises about job creation that would keep up or exceed population growth haven’t been kept.



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