- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

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March 5

The Charlotte Observer on a Democratic state lawmaker accused of mistreating women:

Rep. Duane Hall, a Democratic legislator from Raleigh, says all the right things about women.



He regularly posts supportive messages on social media, including photos from the women’s rally in Raleigh, which he attended in January.

That same month, he tweeted a tribute to Lillian Exum Clement, the first woman to hold legislative office in North Carolina and the South.

But when it comes to his personal interactions, a different story emerges. In two damning articles last week, the progressive online site N.C. Policy Watch detailed multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, unwanted advances and sexual innuendo against the three-term legislator. Those incidents included Hall forcibly pulling a woman into his lap, kissing her and taking a photo with his cellphone at an Equality NC event in October 2016, and kissing a party official without her consent at a Democratic party function earlier that year.

Democrats from Gov. Roy Cooper to House Democratic leader Darren Jackson, a close friend of Hall’s, have called on him to resign. Hall, a charismatic rising star in state politics, has resisted. On Sunday, he released a statement attacking Policy Watch and saying he would stay in his House race.

“I won’t resign from my seat because of anonymous false accusations,” he wrote.

The accusations aren’t all anonymous, however. Jessie White said Hall propositioned her when she talked to him about a job on his staff in 2016. Ben Julen, a former Equality NC worker, said he saw the 2016 incident in which Hall pulled a woman onto his lap and took a photo in the lobby of the downtown Raleigh Marriott. The woman involved has worked for several Democratic candidates, Policy Watch says. She told the publication: “My buddy tried to pick me up off his lap, but he wouldn’t let me go.”

In his statement, Hall says it’s easy for people to quickly call for his resignation to get through the news cycle. We agree that no such calls should be made in a casual fashion, and while we believe that all women deserve to have accusations of sexual misconduct heard, we acknowledge that in cases where a single accusation is levied and denied, the truth may be elusive.

But the allegations against Hall are substantial and credible. They also are numerous, and they’re backed up by people willing to go on the record.

Hall does damage to his party by remaining in office, running for another term, and jeopardizing a Democratic-held seat. More importantly, he does a disservice to women by dismissing the accusations against him as a plot by the Democratic Party to install a person of its choosing in his House seat.

He should resign, immediately.

Online: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/

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March 2

The Asheville Citizen-Times on the NRA’s donations to North Carolina’s U.S. Senators:

North Carolina’s Republican Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis are among an elite group of senators who’ve garnered more affection from the NRA than almost any other lawmakers, raking in more than $11 million between them in career campaign donations.

So we can only assume that in the more than two weeks since yet another massacre-by-assault-rifle has devastated our nation and taken 17 lives, the pair has been hard at work coming up with $11 million worth of ideas to keep the children they represent safe, rather than sending up another vapid round of thoughts and prayers while students here wait for the next slaughter to occur in their own state.

Any other explanation is unacceptable, and North Carolinians have made that abundantly clear this week.

?Over the last two weeks, we have watched in awe as teenagers have marched where the adults have refused to tread. Will they persuade their elders to stand up to the National Rifle Association and demand that military-style assault weapons be banned?

We hope Burr and Tillis’ abundance of resources will aid them in heeding those calls.

?The pattern, of course, is familiar. Someone goes on a rampage, such as the two students who killed 13 fellow students and themselves at Columbine High School or the 20-year-old who killed 20 students and six adults plus himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gun-control groups react. So does the NRA. The NRA wins because it has bought Congress. Nothing happens.

?But this time was different. After an expelled student killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the students spoke up. The demonstrations started at Stoneman Douglas High and quickly spread to neighboring schools. Students were among the 5,000 who rallied at the state Capitol in Tallahassee to demand changes in the state’s gun laws.

?And it wasn’t just in Florida. By Wednesday, demonstrations had been reported reaching from Arizona to Maine, as students at dozens of high schools walked out of class to protest gun violence and honor the Parkland victims. Hundreds from Maryland rallied at the U.S. Capitol.

?At the White House, parents and friends of the Parkland victims had an emotional meeting with President Donald Trump in the State Dining Room. “Fix it,” said Andrew Pollack, father of a Parkland victim. “It should’ve been one school shooting, and we should’ve fixed it.”

We could not agree more.

?”Something has to happen,” said Daniel Gelillo, a Rockville, Maryland, high school senior who helped organize the U.S. Capitol protest. “Innocent people are dying because of the easy access to firearms in this country.”?

Yes, they are. The problem is especially acute with the proliferation of so-called assault rifles, such as the AR-15 used by Nikolas Cruz at Stoneman Douglas. These weapons serve no useful purpose for either hunting or self-defense. Their function is to kill a lot of people quickly. Sadly, we know how well they fulfill that function.

?Congress banned the manufacturing of assault weapons ad of large-capacity magazines in 1994. That law, however, did nothing about the millions of assault rifles already in circulation and it was allowed to lapse in 2004.

?We need a new ban on assault rifles - a permanent one. This one should be accompanied by a buyback period, two years maybe, after which possession of an assault rifle is a felony with mandatory prison time.

But that’s not going to happen unless the people demand it. Arrayed against the voices for change are the tons of money thrown into the system by the NRA.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, only one of the 535 members of Congress has gotten more help from the NRA than Burr. Tillis, not far behind, was only outdone by two other congressmen in the NRA’s deadly popularity contest.

But those numbers pale beside the $54,398,558 in outside spending. Of that, some $40 million was spent to defeat candidates who did not vote the NRA way. That will buy a lot of negative advertising. It’s not hard to see why so many politicians fear the NRA’s wrath.

It’s time to put those fears aside. We know that people do not have to have assault rifles to kill other people.

The students have spoken. We can’t think of anyone more suitable than those profiting most from their nightmares to heed their call and lead.

Online: https://www.citizen-times.com/

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March 6

StarNews of Wilmington calls for the shutdown of fluorochemical operations at the site that’s released GenX into the river:

As much as we’ve wailed and gnashed teeth over the industrial chemical GenX in our drinking water, we said from the outset we did not want to see Chemours shut down.

But because of the chemical giant’s apparent inability to contain fluorochemical compounds, state officials must take whatever measures are necessary to immediately shut down any Fayetteville Works operations that are resulting in illegal discharges into the Cape Fear River.

Chemours, DuPont and Kuraray America produce various chemical products at the industrial site, located along the Cape Fear. The three companies provide hundreds of well-paying jobs in the area, provide needed tax revenue and ultimately help produce items that we use every day.

We are not against the chemical industry. We are, however, against any business - or person or government body, for that matter - that continually violates laws put in place to protect our health and the environment, specifically public waters.

For 30 or so years, Chemours (previously DuPont) has violated those laws by dumping into the Cape Fear River chemicals for which it had no discharge permit. When the violations were exposed last June by this newspaper, Chemours shrugged it off, mainly by refusing to answer basic questions, and otherwise communicate with the folks who have been ingesting the toxic chemical cocktail the Fortune 500 company dumps into the Cape Fear River.

After a bipartisan outcry from area residents and government bodies - not to mention a variety of legal actions - Chemours fessed up and promised it would stop what effectively is the tainting of our primary source of drinking water. (Granted, we still do not know the extent of the pollution or possible health effects, if any, of the unregulated chemicals the plants produce. When it comes to the water we drink, that’s a pretty big - and, we believe, unacceptable - unknown).

Chemours assured state and local officials that the chemicals would be contained in a closed-loop system, with the leftovers shipped out of state for proper disposal. What has become evident, however, is that the plants at the Fayetteville Works site (they share wastewater systems) are not capable of keeping fluorochemical compounds out of the river.

That said, when it meets tonight at 6:30 we expect that the Wilmington City Council will join with the New Hanover County commissioners and CFPUA board and request that the state require that “all tenants of the Fayetteville Works site cease operations that result in the production of fluorochemical compounds, due to their inability to operate without discharging fluorochemical compounds into the Cape Fear River.”

We encourage every governing body in our region, along with every civic and business organization, nonprofit group and house of worship to endorse the same resolution and convey it by certified mail to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, the governor, and to each of the region’s state legislators.

Shutting down those manufacturing processes is the only option we see at this time. Later, if the plants can get their acts together and follow the law, they would be welcome to come back and apply for the proper permit. Until then, they have no right to continue to foul our water.

Meanwhile, we want to make this very clear: If whoever has the authority - be it DEQ, Gov. Roy Cooper or the General Assembly - to once and for all stop this threat fails to act, they are as guilty of intentional neglect as the polluters themselves.

Chemours has demonstrated that it either cannot or will not do right by the people of Southeastern North Carolina. Therefore, we are no longer expecting or asking the company to act.

It’s now completely up to state leaders to perform their fundamental duty of protecting North Carolina’s citizens, which means using whatever means necessary to shut down the specific operations that are damaging our quality of life, likely hurting our economy, and - we will assume until proven otherwise - harming our health.

Since 1999, DuPont’s slogan has been “The miracles of science.” This one increasingly overdue action doesn’t require a miracle, and it’s not rocket science: stop the operations that are polluting our water.

Enough is enough.

Online: http://www.starnewsonline.com/

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