- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

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April 3

The News & Observer on the North Carolina ‘bathroom bill’:

Gov. Roy Cooper and the business people who helped put together the compromise that repealed the infamous HB2 are catching heat for it, probably more than they deserve. But the points of critics should be well-taken, and over the next months Cooper and others should work to fine-tune the compromise toward the goal of eliminating the restrictions on local governments when it comes to passing anti-discrimination ordinances. That’s a rather gratuitous bow to Republicans who didn’t really want to repeal HB2 but faced economic realities.

One of those realities has already been reversed with the decision from the Atlantic Coast Conference to restore the state’s eligibility to host ACC championships. The loss of those championships would have taken a considerable financial toll, particularly on cities.

That’s fine, but it’s far too early to send up the skyrockets for the repeal. Will, for example, other states lift their travel bans on official business in North Carolina, or support the state’s universities hosting academic conferences? Will businesses that have decided not to expand in North Carolina reverse course?

This is all to say that the damage from HB2 has been extensive, and it will take a while to repair it and restore the state’s reputation. That’s the reality of this Republican-led misadventure.

Online:

https://www.newsobserver.com

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April 4

The Fayetteville Observer on the NCAA decision and its conditions:

If you’re looking for a lesson in sugar-coating a pickle, we’d suggest you take a look at the statement Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore released Tuesday after the NCAA agreed to consider North Carolina for future tournaments and championship games.

Here’s what they said: “We are pleased with the NCAA’s decision and acknowledgment that our compromise legislation ‘restores the state to … a landscape similar to other jurisdictions presently hosting NCAA championships.’”

We don’t want to rain on the lawmakers’ victory parade, but we need to point out that the NCAA Board of Governors said it “reluctantly voted to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina by our committees that are presently meeting.”

It wasn’t just reluctant. It was also conditional. “As with most compromises,” the NCAA said in a statement, “this new law is far from perfect.” The replacement legislation, House Bill 142, “minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment,” the collegiate athletic sanctioning group said.

But that doesn’t mean a free pass for future tournaments. Any North Carolina site that is awarded a championship event, the NCAA said, must “submit documentation demonstrating how student athletes and fans will be protected from discrimination.” Since the discrimination the NCAA is talking about includes denying equal treatment to members of the LGBT community, does anyone see a problem developing right away?

The state’s own anti-discrimination laws don’t offer protection for sexual identity or preference. It’s still legal in North Carolina to discriminate against gays, lesbians and transgender people because of who and what they are. And House Bill 142 prohibits municipalities from passing their own anti-discrimination ordinances until December of 2020. So, what happens when the NCAA comes knocking and asks a potential host site to show how LGBT civil rights will be protected? The party could be over fast.

House Bill 142 also says the state has the sole right to regulate access to multiple-occupancy bathrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities. And although they’re not talking publicly about gender identity, two Republican lawmakers are preparing to file a bill creating tougher punishments for people trespassing in bathrooms reserved for the opposite sex. Sen. Danny Britt of Lumberton and Rep. Brenden Jones of Tabor City say they’ll file the bill that, in Jones’ words, “strengthens existing law and offers even more protections for everyone in restrooms and changing facilities.” Not hard to figure out where this is going. We expect the NCAA might notice, too.

We suggest putting a big cork in that bottle and taking a more intelligent approach to an incendiary issue. State Sen. Wesley Meredith of Fayetteville talked last week about the testimony of a transgender man and woman who appeared before the Senate Rules Committee during House Bill 142 debate. “That’s the first time someone’s put a face with what’s going on,” Meredith said. “We need to have a discussion. And those people came to Rules and expressed how they felt. But we need to talk to them, like I’m talking to you. We’ve never done that.”

About time our lawmakers do exactly that, and we’re grateful to Sen. Meredith for suggesting it. It’s likely to be a lot more effective than trying to sugar-coat a pickle.

Online:

https://www.fayobserver.com

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April 4

The Herald-Sun of Durham on UNC’s national championship:

It’s an oh-so-familiar sight to Triangle college basketball fans — confetti streaming from the rafters of a cavernous sports arena, fans storming the court, players embracing.

But familiar though it may be, the shining moment never fades, is always fresh to each year’s tournament champions, as it was Monday night to the Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This may have been the school’s sixth national championship, but the emotions unleashed with the players and their adoring followers from coast to coast were probably not one whit less soaring than in any of the first five, dating to its first in 1957. This one, as countless writers and commentators have noted, is especially notable because “redemption” figures so heavily in the narrative.

The redemption factor was far from lost on the players.

“It was, in North Carolina’s words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year’s title game on Kris Jenkins’ 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova,” an Associated Press account of the game read.

The AP account continued:

“I wanted to see this confetti fall on us and we’re the winners,” said Carolina’s Joel Berry II, who led the Heels with 22 points. “We came out here and we competed. It came down to the last second, but we’re national champs now.”

Or as our colleague, The News and Observer’s Luke DeCock, put it:

“This group, this uncommon group of veteran players in an era of one-and-dones and transfers, took its place in not only North Carolina history but basketball history, losing the title game one year - in the most heartbreaking fashion imaginable - only to come back a year later and finish the job.”

With Monday’s victory, UNC pulled ahead of Duke in national championships — six to five. Only UCLA and Kentucky have won more than UNC; beyond those, only one — Indiana — has won as many as Duke.

Think about that western Triangle total — 11 championships between the two schools, both of which as they will and should proudly remind you stand out in many other areas — academics, medicine, research. Of the 18 men’s basketball championships earned this still-young century, the Blue Devils or the Tar Heels have won one-third.

It’s no wonder “Tobacco Road” holds such prominence in the national basketball spotlight.

This week, that big picture takes a back seat to the exuberance of the moment.

Way to go, Heels.

Online:

https://www.heraldsun.com/

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