- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:


April 18

The News & Observer of Raleigh on work for convicts:

A criminal history, even one that was brief and happened in a person’s youth, follows someone the rest of his or her life. The record is always there, and the Internet makes it all the easier for anyone to delve into someone’s past. But should local governments require job seekers to check a box on applications “yes” or “no” on criminal convictions other than traffic violations? Raleigh and Durham do not have such boxes, and now Wake County is ready to join them. That’s as it should be.

For one thing, background checks will continue to be conducted, and obviously criminal histories would show up there. And savvy job applicants are going to get in front of such checks anyway and tell prospective employers in government about their past problems.

“Past” is the important term here. Many people might have had problems in their youth they’ve overcome, and that road to redemption has made them better people. They might be outstanding workers, determined to do their best. It’s not fair that those people should begin the application process with something that makes them and their possible employers uncomfortable. A criminal history is best explained at length, not in a check on a box on an application form.

The de-emphasis on this kind of thing is a positive development for all.




April 19

Winston-Salem Journal on compensation appeals:

Here’s one good headline for our state: We’re on the verge of setting a national landmark in compassion and justice by becoming the first in the nation to complete payments to victims of state-sponsored, forced sterilization. With America watching, the state Supreme Court needs to get the final payment flowing by rapidly processing appeals from about 20 people who’ve been denied compensation.

The North Carolina Eugenics Board forcibly sterilized more than 7,600 men, women and children from 1929 through 1974, deeming them physically or mentally unfit to reproduce, often bullying and rushing them into operations on flimsy grounds. The Journal exposed it all in the 2002 investigative series “Against Their Will,” and we’ve long pushed for reparations on this page. In 2013, our legislature, in a rare bipartisan effort led by then-House Speaker Thom Tillis and former Rep. Larry Womble of Winston-Salem, became the first in the nation to approve reparations.

The budget signed then by Gov. Pat McCrory included a $10 million pool to be shared by qualified victims. So far, those 200-plus victims have each received two payments totaling $35,000.

But the state, through it all, has failed to adequately update the victims on the progress of the payments, even as we should be proudly setting a national model. Several of the victims have often called us asking for updates.

Now, we have sad news for them that the state should be giving: It could be months before they get their final payment because the state Supreme Court is not moving rapidly enough.

The state moved quickly to sterilize these victims, often failing to explain that the operations were irreversible. And now the state is crawling on the final payments to these victims of modest means. Many of them were held back in life by being haunted mentally or physically by the state’s butchering. Money will never replace their loss, but money is the way we settle scores in this country. And this is money these victims were promised, money that they’ve counted on to make plans or simply pay bills.

We’ve gotten to know several of these victims through our original series and follow-up stories, and through the fact that they’ve courageously told their stories on our opinion pages. These victims followed the rules and filed their claims for compensation within state deadlines. They’re tired of waiting for their last payment.

But appellants to the state’s highest court, who either missed the deadline or were excluded from compensation for other reasons, make valid cases in arguing, essentially, that victims of this program are victims, period, and they should be entitled to compensation as well.

The state Supreme Court should not delay this matter. It needs to process these appeals now. If the high court rules in favor of the appellants, the legislature should allocate a bit more money to the compensation pool so that those victims who have long fought for reparations won’t be shortchanged by the state again.




April 19

The Fayetteville Observer on a smoking ban:

County Health Director Buck Wilson wants to clear the air a little more than he already has. That smells sweet to us.

Wilson has spearheaded a long-running drive to ban smoking on county-owned properties. The bans riled smokers but gave the nonsmoking majority a breath of fresh air - and a helpful hand in staying healthy, which is what the bans are about. The deadly effects of second-hand smoke are thoroughly documented and a compelling reason to forbid people from lighting up in public.

Smoking is banned on all county properties - even the parking lots - and vehicles, except for the Crown Complex and parks and recreation facilities. Wilson wants to drop those exceptions and ban smoking there too, even in open-air park settings. And he wants to ban smoking in all offices, retail and commercial places where the public is allowed.

County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe points out that Cumberland ranks 73rd among the state’s 100 counties in health measures and needs to do better.

The county should expand the smoking bans, and it should have company. Fayetteville, where most of those businesses are located, should join in the ban. We all deserve clean air.



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