Plant the seed for fruitful debate

I’m told that while there is no firmly established gift tradition for a 28th anniversary, the modern practice is to signify the event with an orchid. Well, this month marks the 28th anniversary of the birth of my syndicated column on North Carolina politics and public policy. It...

Flat tire reminds me, I’ve nothing left to spare

On Friday, July 4, most of the nation’s thoughts were drifting toward independence, the evening’s fireworks and just how many hot dogs Joey “Jaws” Chestnut would eat in 10 minutes at the annual “Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.” Sixty-one, as...

Huge issue ahead for North Carolina

Decades from now, when schoolchil-dren in North Carolina look back on 2014, they might hear about the massive coal-ash spill into the Dan River and subsequent legislation requiring cleanup of Duke Energy coal-ash ponds. And they might learn about the General Assembly’s push to...

How hearing may have backfired on election law’s critics

A hearing that liberal groups hoped would undermine North Carolina voting reform instead appears to have revealed their true objectives. The N.C. NAACP and the League of Women Voters of N.C., joined by the U.S. Justice Department, said they were suing the state to protect voters...

Butterflies make late entrance this summer

Last week, I got very excited.  I saw a butterfly!  Normally, in July, it would be a ho-hum event, but things are different this year. When the blackberry lilies bloom, as they are now, I usually have to wend my way through a cloud of tiger swallowtails to get down the path to...

Two sides in film incentives debate

It’s looking like the current film-incentives program may be scrapped for a much different grant program for TV and movie production companies. Other possible outcomes of this year’s legislative session include extending the current program or eliminating film incentives...

Lawmakers aim to bring back job-killing taxes

Last year’s state tax reform lowered income tax rates for all working North Carolinians. The lower rates make North Carolina more competitive for jobs and stimulate economic growth. Less than a year after the reform’s passage, however, several lawmakers drafted a bill to sabotage...

What largely explains the drop

The next time you see or hear a politician, policy analyst, activist or journalist say that North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen “largely” because of workers dropping out of the labor force, ask for a definition of the term. I don’t mean the term “unemployment rate.”...

Stop the train wreck one decision at a time

As I was looking over my weight loss statistics from the past 18 months, I thought I might have to take a Dramamine. Tracing the graphed plots from one hill to the next decline were enough to make the strongest stomach turn. Clearly the 70 pounds lost were not a straight shot to...

An ode to the tomato days of summer

They’re back — those  gorgeous red and coral and yellow orbs of summer with the exotic names! Because my husband has never met a tomato seed or tomato plant he didn’t like, our garden is aglow with the likes of Mortgage Lifters, Cherokee Purples, Roman Candles, Tommy Toes, Green...

You decide: How can communities revive?

By Mike Walden My wife and I recently spent a long weekend in New York City celebrating our wedding anniversary. It’s amazing how time flies: This is No. 34, thank you! New York City — or simply “the City” to native New Yorkers — conjures up both negative and positive feelings....

Fake news or sign of trouble?

Of the three situations I can recall where agencies receiving large sums of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t divulge employees’ salaries, two of them ended badly. The third — involving a group of charter schools in southeastern North Carolina  — is playing out right now. In the first...