The Opinion Shop

Bonus letters on UNC-TV, magistrates, spring break

Letters that got overrun by other issues before they could see print:

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UNC-TV is (again) airing its “festival” programming to try to gin up contributions. Don’t get me wrong. I dutifully send in my contribution every year. But apparently not many join me.

UNC-TV’s annual report for 2014 discloses the grim news: Total budget, $24 million; contributions, $9.1 million, less than half. The annual report doesn’t disclose the number of individual contributions, but if one assumes $100 from each contributor, that works out to fewer than 100,000 individual contributions. That means that UNC-TV snags support from 2.4 percent of the state’s nearly 3.75 million households.

Despite having been around since the mid-1950s, UNC-TV hasn’t built much of a base. UNC-TV is more successful in garnering support from government. The state government ($9.1 million) and the Federal Corporation from Public Broadcasting ($3.4 million) combined contributed more than half of UNC-TV’s budget.

The state government should start reducing its largesse. Can it find no better use for its taxes than for a TV station that state residents don’t much support? Furthermore, look at all the BBC shows aired on UNC-TV. Why should North Carolina taxes subsidize British actors and the British Broadcasting Corporation?

Thomas McDonald

Oxford

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Two business stories in the Feb. 13 paper about Quintiles paint very different pictures.

Quintiles to cut 270 jobs” explained that layoffs will reduce “operating costs and improve profitability.” The other business article said “ Quintiles revenue tops $4B.” Apparently that “milestone” includes a “26 percent jump in net income in the fourth quarter” that just isn’t enough to keep that 1 percent of its workforce employed.

Didn’t this intriguing disconnect pique your journalistic interests? Perhaps one story with some context would serve us better.

Lois Boynton

Chapel Hill

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Regarding Sen. Phil Berger’s proposed legislation allowing magistrates and registers of deed to opt out of providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples: Shouldn’t the bill also allow magistrates to exempt themselves from conducting second marriages?

After all, Jesus says in Luke 16:18 that remarriage following a divorce is adultery, and the Bible makes it abundantly clear that adultery is a sin. In fact, the eighth commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery.” Surely supporting adultery must also go against the magistrates’ core beliefs.

Of course, if any magistrate has been remarried, it might be hard to make an argument for that one.

Speaking of divorce, Berger might also consider expanding the bill to cover the clerk of courts, where divorce filings are accepted, because in Matthew 19:9 Jesus says that divorce by itself is adultery.

Heck, if we look hard enough, we may be able to find enough religious reasons so that the magistrates can opt out of almost all of their duties.

Brad Breeding

Raleigh

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Teachers have always been underrated and taken for granted. It has been assumed they would always be there to teach our young ’uns. What has not been considered is the value comparison we should make, such as we pick the safest place for our valuables, so why not find the best teachers to mentor and teach our most treasured possessions, our children?

Our children are our loved ones ... and our future. They must be put in the most capable hands we can find. But to do that we must pay our teachers a wage they can live on and that will encourage others to become teachers. That also would draw new businesses to our state.

The exodus of our teachers from North Carolina is preventable. We need to reset our priorities to reflect what is really important and adjust their pay scales accordingly.

Paul Fruiesen

Jackson Springs

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Regarding the March 8 news article “ Schools backtrack on makeups”: I understand there is no good choice for snow makeup days for WCPSS to satisfy everyone. However, this change of the snow makeup schedule was completely unnecessary.

The plan to have school on Good Friday and two other Saturdays in two months was fine. I recognize that Christians and Jews felt that the plan was insensitive to their religions, yet as a general policy WCPSS does not have holidays for any other religion.

The new makeup plan is likely to cause more inconveniences due to shortening of spring break. A long spring break would have also given the AP students an opportunity to prepare for the tests in May.

Now, we are crumbling under pressure that would have been reduced if we had our full spring break.

Shatorupa Ghosh

Raleigh

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Regarding the March 4 news article “ Spring break saved, at a cost”: The Wake County school board should be ashamed of itself. By my count, traditional year students missed eight and a half days of school as a result of weather in the past two weeks. The board “saved” spring break by scheduling classes for Good Friday and two Saturdays in April and May.

How does three equal eight and a half? Their answer is that the state-mandated minimums were already been exceeded, and in the case of one of the days, the buses were already rolling so the missed day did not count.

Please do not talk to me about teacher pay, inadequate funding, resulting in substandard education for our children. In this case, the resources were there.

Despite this, the board, in its wisdom, kissed off a full week of school for no reason other than to protect a spring break. It is disgusting, but not surprising.

Standing up for education goes only as far as convenience dictates.

Charles Houseworth

Wake Forest

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Regarding the March 8 news article “ Schools backtrack on makeups”: The WCPSS Board of Education just announced, for a second time, the snow makeup days. It first announced makeup days for traditional calendar school for Good Friday and two Saturdays. Now it changes it to spring break.

People are still complaining, regardless of the decision . There is no pleasing everyone. The board should have made a decision and stuck to it.

If the makeup days don’t fit into a family’s plan, they shouldn’t send their child to school. It’s just three days. If they have plans for spring break, go ahead with those plans. If there are lots of absences, the material covered will have to be retaught. Teachers realize this, and it’s frustrating for them.

This continues to reinforce the fact that WCPSS is too big. Snow in one region doesn’t necessarily mean snow everywhere. The districts should be centered on a town rather than a county. Then we’d have fewer snow days with no snow. Let the county control the purse strings, but let the towns decide other issues. Local school boards should send one representative to the Central Wake Board.

Sue O’Brien

Holly Springs

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Regarding the March 8 news article “ Schools backtrack on makeups”: I understand that the Wake County school board must make difficult decisions regarding instructional time lost to recent snowstorms. What I can’t understand is the reasoning behind those decisions.

First, it announces makeup days on Good Friday and Saturdays. Definitely not an ideal, or popular, solution. But when parents cry foul, it quickly switches all makeup time during spring break – days after announcing that spring break is “safe”!

Obviously, some children remain in town and can attend school, but those who cannot because of previously made plans must carry the entire burden of missing three days of school and making up all the work.

I find it interesting that the board thinks more students would be able to attend over spring break than any given Saturday. Would it not be possible to make up that time with one day of spring break, one Saturday in April and one in May? Thus, the burden is shared and spread over time.

Why not petition the legislature to allow an extension of the school calendar three extra days should we get stuck with five or more makeup days due to weather?

Liz Zadeits

Cary

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The Supreme Court will hear a case soon that states that the ACA only allowed state exchanges. If the entire bill is judged in context like lawyers are trained to do, then this argument is bogus and ridiculous.

Ironically, it is the same argument that gun regulators state when they say that only people involved in regulating a militia should bear arms. That argument comes from the left, where those contesting the ACA are coming from the right. It’s the same argument used by two opposing sides.

However, considering the justices on the court who will decide the case, I would say “anything goes.” These are the same justices who stopped a Florida recount in 2000 and chose the president, gave us “Citizens United” and “dark money” that established the $1,000, one-vote equation, gutted the voting rights act and ignores blatant gerrymandering.

I believe that these justices are capable of destroying the ACA. Then the Republicans will seek to replace it with their ineffective act of issuing tax credits that will have little effect on paying for health care. Then the president will veto it, and we will start at square zero.

The Supreme Court should consider what the Dred Scott decision did to this country.

Mel Kilberg

Cary

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Regarding Ned Barnett’s Feb. 22 column “ The hard toll of easy guns”: Barnett decided to take the easy and shortsighted approach of gun control activist while emotions are still raw from the horrible killings of three beautiful and aspiring young people. He connected their deaths to the fact that a killer happened to use a firearm for his deed, and because of that, it’s the easy access to guns that created the issue.

He clearly stated that this would be solved if guns were harder to obtain. This assessment runs counter to the fact that U.S. gun ownership continues to increase and crime rates continue to drop. Why are places like Washington, with its draconian gun laws making firearm ownership all but impossible for law-abiding residents, experiencing the highest murder rates (many with guns)?

Could it be that Barnett glossed over the fact that criminal minds don’t care about what is morally correct, let alone laws about guns, and still obtain them for villainous purposes? When criminals have the advantage, we are all in a compromised position. However, when we can protect ourselves, we are collectively stronger. Making it harder for good residents to obtain firearms is a detriment to society.

Chris Lowell

Apex

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Regarding the Feb. 25 news article “ Defying GOP, Obama vetoes Keystone bill”: President Obama’s recent veto of Congress’s attempt to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is a positive step in defending wildlife, communities and our climate from a polluting project.

The Keystone XL tar sands project puts wildlife in jeopardy every step of the way, from lynx, bear and caribou populations in the boreal forest, to sandhill and whooping cranes in the plains, to pallid sturgeon that are barely hanging on in waterways.

Keystone XL fails the president’s test that this pipeline not worsen climate change, and we look forward to his helping to protect wildlife from toxic tar sands by rejecting the pipeline permit once and for all.

Stephen Melott

Raleigh

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The League of Women Voters of North Carolina is pleased that we will have our day in state court in July to challenge the constitutionality of the voter ID requirement.

We will argue that the voter ID requirement, which goes into effect in 2016, violates the North Carolina Constitution. The requirements to vote are clearly stated in our Constitution, and the Constitution states that no other requirements to vote may be imposed on our citizens.

In addition, the voter ID requirement is an unconstitutional restriction on the right to vote and creates impermissible classes of voters, those with valid ID and those who, while legally registered to vote, do not have valid ID.

Based upon rulings in other states, we are confident we can show how the photo ID requirement will prevent access to voting. This case will go to trial in July, and we plan to provide substantial evidence that hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians without acceptable photo identification will face undue burdens in trying to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

The League of Women Voters of North Carolina will continue to fight to ensure that our state Constitution is properly interpreted and offers full protection to North Carolina voters.

Brenda Hyde Rogers

League of Women Voters of North Carolina

Chapel Hill

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A Feb. 5 news brief “ U.S. prisoner: Saudis aided al-Qaida” seems to confirm that Saudi Arabia was a key player in the Twin Towers attack of 9/11. Yet, strangely, that attack was used to justify the unleashing of our military might, not on Saudi Arabia but on Iraq.

At least 4,500 American troops and up to a million Iraqi civilians died as a result of our rush to war, a misguided response that increasingly seems to be our first and only choice.

As retired Air Force Lt. Col. William J. Astore has noted, endless war “has become the new normal.” Is this the norm we want as the backdrop to our children’s futures?

Squandering our tax dollars to bomb military targets won’t improve our public schools, eradicate disease, restore our crumbling infrastructure or protect our environment. Ignoring these priorities is the true threat to our security, as every bomb dropped serves only to create more enemies, making us less secure by the day.

War is costly, lethal and counterproductive. Lasting security requires that we redirect the $495 billion budgeted for the Pentagon this year to our domestic needs, and our children’s futures, instead.

Vicki Ryder

Durham

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Regarding the Jan. 31 news story “ Flooding on N.C. coast to rise”: I suggest that the state legislature continue its Don Quixote imitation and merely pass a bill making it illegal for the sea levels to rise. The legislature already has mandated that it does not want to know what might happen to sea level beyond 2050 so I assume it will want to ignore the evidence from those ill-informed scientists.

Larry Wolf

Garner

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