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Opinion roundup: Elections canceled, poison-pill class-size fix, throwing money at GenX

Voters cast ballots in the North Carolina. (Photo by Jamie Munden)

Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018 — A poison-pill to fix class-size crisis, judges cancel N.C. elections, GenX bill isn’t a sure bet, the nation’s top housing officials visits N.C. 16 months after Hurricane Matthew, is anyone winning the fight against flu? … and more.

TRAVIS FAIN: 4th Circuit re-cancels 2018 judicial primaries (WRAL-TV analysis) — North Carolina’s judicial primaries are all off again after judges at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the decision of a lower court.

GARY ROBERTSON: Federal judges give OK to cancelling appeals court elections (AP news analysis) — Primaries for N.C. appellate court seats won’t happen this year if a federal appeals court decision stands. A panel of judges reversed a lower court decision that would have required the primaries, giving a victory to Republican state lawmakers.

MATTHEW BURNS & TRAVIS FAIN: School vouchers, court size central to Cooper’s latest court battle against lawmakers (WRAL-TV analysis) — Lawyers for Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders were back in court battling over school voucher spending included in the state budget and a law trimming the size of the state Court of Appeals.

GARY ROBERTSON: Class-size fix, loaded with other changes, OK’d by Senate (AP news analysis) — Republican legislation phasing in smaller class sizes in North Carolina passed the Senate in a measure that most Democrats begrudgingly voted for even as they complained it contained other unrelated provisions that could hurt the Democratic governor.

ALEX GRANADOS: Class size proposal passes Senate (EdNC analysis) — A Republican proposal to fix the class-size mandates that have put some districts on edge passed the full Senate 37-5 this morning, but not without some strife. Five democrats voted against it.

LAURA LESLIE: Class size omnibus gets first vote (WRAL-TV analysis) — The state Senate voted 37-5 to delay scheduled reductions in elementary school class sizes. Some Democrats voted against the measure to protest unrelated provisions aimed at scoring political points against Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

GARY ROBERTSON: Senate OKs GenX response bill; prospects with House unclear (AP news analysis) — Legislation designed to expand North Carolina’s response to a little-studied chemical and other unregulated contaminants in drinking water supplies has cleared the state Senate.

MATTHEW BURNS: N.C. Senate OKs funding to address GenX (WRAL-TV analysis) — The N.C. Senate approved legislation earmarking more money for the state’s response to unregulated chemicals in the state’s waterways.

GILBERT BAEZ: HUD chief Carson surveys storm damage in Fayetteville 16 months after Matthew (WRAL-TV analysis) — Floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew inundated much of Fayetteville 16 months ago, but there was still plenty of damage for federal officials to see.

PAUL WOOLVERTON: HUD secretary says disaster aid must move faster (Fayetteville Observer analysis) — The government must streamline its process of bringing aid money to communities that suffer natural disasters, Secretary Ben Carson of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said. Carson made the remarks at a news conference after he and U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger met with local leaders and toured Azalea Manor, a public housing apartment building for older adults in Fayetteville that was damaged by flooding during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

JEFF HAMPTON: See a pothole? N.C. says it’ll be fixed in two days (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot) — The Virginia Department of Transportation offers a website where residents can report potholes, but it does not include the promise of a two-day response.

New census rule may be a game changer (Fayetteville Observer) — Over the decades as Fort Bragg grew and large numbers of troops were frequently deployed, we found ourselves feeling cheated by the federal census. That’s because it was Census Bureau policy to count deployed members of the military as living in the cities and towns they called home when they enlisted, instead of the communities where they really lived before and after their deployment.

GARY ROBERTSON: Little-known Durham investor Greg Lindberg gives millions to N.C. GOP (AP news analysis) — North Carolina’s newest and biggest political spender is a private investment firm founder and a virtual unknown in state politics who’s saying little for now about his reasons for quickly giving millions to help influence elections.

Jackpot winners must be identified (Greensboro News & Record) — If the Powerball lottery announced that its $560 million jackpot was being awarded to a woman in another state whose identity was withheld, would you believe that was on the up-and-up?

EDUCATION
JOHN DELL: WSSU track coach suspended, university officials won’t reveal what it’s about (Winston-Salem Journal) — James Daniels, who was named CIAA coach of the week for indoor track earlier this week, has been suspended by Winston-Salem State because of an unspecified investigation. Daniels, who is in his first season as cross-country and track coach, will not coach the Rams this weekend at the CIAA Indoor Championships at JDL Fast Track.

HEALTH
ADAM OWENS: In dangerous flu season, short supply of generic Tamiflu (WRAL-TV analysis) — With so many people sick with the flu, the Center for Disease Control has reported shortages of some anti-viral drugs used to treat the flu.

MIKE STOBBE: Flu season still getting worse; now as bad as 2009 swine flu (AP news analysis) — The flu has further tightened its grip on the U.S. This season is now as bad as the swine flu epidemic nine years ago. A government report out Friday shows 1 of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu. That ties the highest level seen in the U.S. during swine flu in 2009.

Kids in psych center say staff sexually, physically abused them. Why didn’t officials listen? (Charlotte Observer analysis) — Questions surround a Charlotte, NC psychiatric hospital overseen by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and whether it is properly treating and supervising children.

Why did staff at NC psych center physically restrain teen 38 times? (Charlotte Observer analysis) — The physical restraints were just one way that Strategic Behavioral Center, a Charlotte psychiatric residential treatment facility, did not properly treat the teenager, her parents say.

ENVIRONMENT
JANNETTE PIPPIN: State parks see record visitation (Jacksonville Daily News) — State parks saw a record number of visitors in 2017 and Eastern North Carolina draws in many of them with parks offering a taste of the coast and the region’s rich history. Hammocks Beach State Park in Onslow County is expanding on its offerings.

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