North Carolina editorial roundup

The Associated Press

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Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

Feb. 9

Fayetteville (North Carolina) Observer on voter IDs:

A decision on whether identification requirements will be mandatory in North Carolina elections could come from Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan at any time.

Opponents of the voter ID law have sued to block it from going into effect next year. They and the law's supporters appeared before Morgan during a Jan. 30 hearing to make their cases.

The judge could find voter ID is unconstitutional and toss it out, though this seems unlikely. He could find that the plaintiffs' case lacks merit, dismissing it outright. That's at least possible. But most observers think the judge will let the case proceed to trial this summer.

Opponents of the voter ID law warn that it discourages voting. They say acceptable forms of ID are too limited, placing an undue burden on the poor, who are disproportionately minorities.

Opponents, mostly Democrats, point to other measures that Republican legislators passed at the same time with an obvious partisan purpose to shape voter turnout. They say this law has the same intent. They point to a shortage of convictions for election fraud, which voter ID is supposed to prevent ...

Supporters of the law say it will detect and discourage fraud, some of which was difficult to catch and prove in the past.

Both sides have valid points. Regardless of how the court rules, the state's ultimate policy should reflect all concerns ...

But no ID requirement should be allowed to prevent a single qualified voter from taking part. The state should examine how to place photo IDs in the hands of voters without cost or inconvenience.

Participation in elections should unite Americans. Provided no one is unfairly prevented from voting, ID laws have the potential to shore up our confidence in the integrity of our democracy.



Feb. 8

Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal on preservation tax credits:

In his "State of the State" address to the legislature Wednesday, Gov. Pat McCrory recommended reinstating some form of the historic preservation tax credits that the legislature allowed to expire last year "to continue to revitalize main streets from Wilkesboro, to Greensboro, to Swansboro."

We hope the legislature will realize the wisdom of his recommendation and follow it - as well as revive the film tax credits that also expired last year.

... Our city has benefited greatly from preservation tax credits in recent times. They've allowed us to revive historic properties, retaining unique characteristics that speak to our heritage, rather than seeing them lost to disuse and blight or torn down to be replaced by something more generic with less community appeal. Projects spurred by the credits not only preserve architecture; they create jobs and generate tax revenue.

Last year, Paul Norby, the director of the City-County Planning Department, told the Journal editorial board that the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, using these credits, "has generated $200 million or more in economic investment." He said that the tax credits were responsible for thousands of construction jobs — not to mention more than 3,300 permanent jobs. His list of beneficiaries includes the Nissen Building, the Piedmont Leaf Lofts, the Gallery Lofts in Goler, the old Courthouse, Plant 64 and the Winston Factory Lofts.

We're not alone in benefiting from these credits. For some rural areas in the state, preservation tax credits could play a significant role in spurring economic and community revival ...

Republican legislators have indicated that they oppose the credits in part because they don't fit with the legislature's move away from tax policies that benefit certain groups. But as Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz told the AP, more than $1.6 billion in private investments were made while the credits were in effect, and 90 of the state's 100 counties took advantage of the program. That doesn't seem to represent any kind of select group.

McCrory said in his address that he wants the "best of everything" for North Carolina. So do we, and so, presumably, does the legislature. Preservation tax credits, as well as film tax credits, could play an important role in meeting that goal.



Feb. 8

The Herald-Sun, Durham, North Carolina, on the death of Dean Smith:

North Carolina, with its long and rich sports traditions, especially in basketball, has seen many towering figures mold teams and reputations.

None towered more than Dean Smith, who died Saturday at the age of 83.

Smith was truly legendary. When he retired in 1997, he had coached his teams to more wins than any coach in the history of college sports' top-tier division at that time. In his 36 years as head coach of the UNC Tar Heels, his teams won three out of every four games they played. Remarkably in the mobile and high-stakes world of college coaching, the Tar Heels were the only team for which he was ever the head coach.

The list of Mr. Smith's coaching achievements is lengthy — 11 trips to the Final Four, two national championships, 17 regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference championships, 13 ACC tournament championships. The first Tar Heel team he coached went 8-9. From then on, no other team had a losing season.

He coached the U. S. men's basketball team to an Olympic gold medal. Countless stars on his team went on to fame as professionals. He was a brilliant innovator, one of whose early trademarks, the four-corners offense, ironically changed the pace of the game by leading to the shot-clock so familiar today.

But Smith's impact went far beyond the arena. One of the first UNC coaches to sign an African-American player to a scholarship, he helped to desegregate restaurants in Chapel Hill in some of the most tempestuous days of the civil rights struggle ...

Throughout his impressive career, Mr. Smith was a gentleman, a loyal supporter of his university, a mentor to his students and a pillar of ethical behavior.

Roy Williams, who was an assistant to Mr. Smith and returned in 2003 as head coach of the Tar Heels, said Sunday:

"We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in."

That is a richly appropriate epitaph for a leader whose loss is deeply felt.


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