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The Commentators

Let’s Discuss UNC System Salaries

Is $775,000 too much or not enough to pay the new president of the UNC System? Is a raise of 9.6 percent too much or not enough for the chancellor at Chapel Hill? The worthy mission of the UNC System, “to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society,” invites thought, analysis, and dialogue about the these questions. Sadly, the only thinking that has been shared is that market forces drive these changes.  I know that the topic of the role and power of the invisible hand of the marketplace stimulates heated debate. I...

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Duke Energy: Be a Responsible North Carolina Citizen

Duke Energy, the nation’s largest provider of electricity, is making news again.  But, it’s not exactly what anyone would call a public relations dream scenario. In May, the Charlotte-based utility pleaded guilty to nine violations of the Federal Clean Water Act.  The firm admitted illegally discharging coal ash pollution from five of its North Carolina power plants. Jeff Danner explains the Duke Energy coal ash spill As a result, it paid $102 million in fines and restitution. Now, Duke Energy is charging NC Warn, a non-profit environmental group, with illegally delivering solar power to a church in Greensboro, North...

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5 to 4 Votes Are Healthy For Chapel Hill

Before moving to Chapel Hill 38 years ago, I was a newspaper reporter in south Florida. Have you driven there lately? The weather is still great, but the beauty is harder to find.  Over-development squashed it years ago. But, I learned a lot as a covered the deliberations of those city leaders who struggled to deal with developers who saw dollar signs on every empty lot. “I’d never want to be in their shoes,” I told myself. It’s a thankless job. We all owe a large debt of thanks to those who have served Chapel Hill for years, but...

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Is It Real Money?

“No state-appropriated or tuition dollars are being used for these expenses.” Enough already of this rationalizing footnote from UNC as it released its latest accounting of legal and public relations costs stemming from the athletics/academic scandal.  Where the bookkeepers say these millions of dollars come from is far less important than the realization that there are countless ways to spend these valuable resources. How about student scholarships, support for young faculty, and upgrades of facilities that are inaccessible to individuals with even minimal disabilities? There are many needs beyond the walls of the university.  These dollars could help to...

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Dear Chancellor Folt

Dear Chancellor Folt: You came to Carolina in our most difficult hour. And the darkness has not yet lifted. We need a strong leader right now, someone who can speak for all North Carolinians, for staff, students and faculty at UNC Chapel Hill. You have immense power & responsibility as Chancellor of the UNC system’s flagship campus. You can be our voice and in this way help guide the UNC system. Last week, UNC’s Board of Governor’s voted in closed session to give huge raises to UNC system Chancellors. SPEAK UP for North Carolinians who struggle to pay for...

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Who is Margaret Spellings?

Our university’s system Board of Governors, manipulating rules to speed up the process, has handed the presidency of our state’s university system to a non-academic with strong Republican political credentials. Margaret Spellings will replace Tom Ross, a distinguished leader this board praised for his effectiveness, but fired for reasons they could not explain. I will explain it for them. Tom Ross is a Democrat and that, we’ve learned, is unacceptable. Listen to Raleigh Mann’s Commentary So, who is Margaret Spellings?  Well, her political connections to George W. Bush and his political strategist Karl Rove go back about 25 years...

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Protect Personal Health Information For Athletes

UNC has announced that two football players have suffered career ending medical problems, a neck injury and a heart condition. I won’t mention their names, but I certainly am puzzled and troubled by why the university releases this type of personal health information.  Just think about whether you would want your health information the media. Student health information is generally protected by the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act commonly known as HIPAA and the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act referred to as the Buckley Amendment. Students who play sports, however, sign multiple waivers and release forms which...

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Co-op Employee Democracy

As a ten-year active advocate for worker rights within our very favorite local grocery co-op, Weaver Street Market, I am making this appeal for help from any of the some 18,000 Weaver Street consumer-owners listening to this commentary. Friday, October 16, Weaver Street employees received notice of proposed changes to the Weaver Street Board Policy ‘Treatment of Staff,’ which changes would remove the right of Weaver Street workers to be included in Weaver Street decision-making which affects our workplace. Objections need to be registered before October 26. If you are a Weaver Street consumer-owner, please write now to the...

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Five Things Chapel Hill’s Town Leaders are Finally Getting Done

It’s human nature to be most vocal when we don’t like something, especially when it comes to our local elected officials.  Freely expressing dissatisfaction about the decisions our leaders make is the bedrock of democracy. As we express our disapproval of decisions we personally don’t like, however, it’s all too easy to sit back and remain silent about everything else town leaders do of which we approve.  As Election Day nears, here are five things Chapel Hill’s Mayor and town council members have accomplished in recent years that are worthy of our praise: 1) After years of talking about...

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Are Assault Weapons Toys Appropriate for Halloween Costumes?

A friend of mine went into a local pop-up store to look for a Halloween costume for her grandson.  She was horrified to find a rack of toy assault weapons that are paired with various costumes for boys.  She thought this inappropriate and insensitive.  She asked me to inquire with the store with what their policy was regarding the role of lethal weapons as appropriate for children. I confirmed the assault weapons display and asked a clerk if they thought it questionable. The clerk said, “it did.” But the clerk was just working a low-wage, temporary job and was...

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