Letters to the Editor

1/9 Letters: Change the tone of judicial reform hearings

Having attended the most recent N.C. Senate judicial reform hearing on Jan. 3, I would like to offer my observations:

First, some of the present judicial districts were classified as “unconstitutional.” There are no rulings to verify such a charge. This designation reeks of political posturing and an attempt to create a “crisis” when there is none. Crisis also implies the need for urgent action, but this reform process should not be rushed. The devil is in the details; good, precise work takes time.

Second, independent judicial commissions were discussed. It is necessary to explain how these commissions will be formed. This is important.

Third, there was a comment made by Sen. Ralph Hise in which he characterized public comments as little more than cut-and-paste astroturf emanating from certain organizations. I found this kind of attitude disrespectful to those of us who take the time to be informed, to attend hearings and to offer our concerns and comments. If he is sincere about wanting consensus, I suggest a change in how he refers to citizens who care about our state and its independent judiciary. Otherwise, this committee will get no buy-in from me or other concerned citizens.

Paula Jennings


N.C. needs STEM

The letter to the editor “Expand FUSE labs” (Dec. 30) about FUSE Studio labs was informative and encouraging and absolutely right – this seems to be one of several excellent programs to address the issue; our state and nation need more workers having STEM or STEAM educational backgrounds.

Several reports indicate we already have a shortage of STEM-based workers that will likely grow worse over the next several years unless we take measurable action now. The STEM worker shortage is contributing to slower GDP growth, a drag on economic growth in eastern North Carolina and statewide. In several communities, hundreds of jobs go unfilled even though county unemployment rates are among the highest in North Carolina.

We have been addressing this issue in eastern North Carolina for several years with good results, but much remains to be done. Check out www.ncworkready.org and STEM East (a nationally recognized program that represents North Carolina in the national STEM Ecosystems Coalition) to learn more about our robust partnerships and their impact. We continue the search for other strategies and programs that will help us move forward. Meeting the workforce needs of our employers is a top priority, and we can use all the help we can get.

John Chaffee

President/CEO, NCEast Alliance