SENATE'S LOW EXPECTATIONS BUDGET FAILS STATE'S NEEDS: North Carolina teachers have more ground to make up than the Senate proposes. Why the limited increases? Once again, the Senate starts with a tax decrease and works up from there. What schools need doesn’t matter. Reducing taxes fixes everything. Gov. Roy Cooper’s modest budget plan should have been the Senate’s bottom line for teacher pay. Instead, at EVERY LEVEL, the Senate under cuts Cooper’s plans to improve compensation for teachers. The Senate offers NO increase in the starting salaries for teachers. And, adding insult to injury, offers no boost for the most experienced teachers. There is a term for withholding raises from long term employees – “harvesting the workforce.” Organizations use it to force out experienced employees to replace them with lower salaried employees. Who wants to work for an organization like that?
BURR'S HANDLING OF TRUMP/RUSSIA PROBE WILL BE HIS DEFINING MOMENT: Notably, after becoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr tried to protect the secrecy of reports on CIA torture of prisoners. Not his finest hour – by a long shot. But now Burr stands virtually alone as the person to lead the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. The House investigation fell apart after a key committee chairman was shown to have shared information with the White House. Comey was fired. And Trump remains a literal wild card, liable to tweet something outrageous at any second. This is Burr’s moment, his defining moment, and his handling of the investigation is going to be his legacy at the end of his third Senate term and nearly 30 years in Washington almost six years hence.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO SEND MORE AID FOR NC'S FLOOD VICTIMS: Washington sent a message to Gov. Roy Cooper the other day: So you drowned. Not our problem. Dry yourself out. You’re on your own. If this is the way the federal government is being remade, we’re all in trouble. The message wasn’t quite in those blunt words, but intent was clear. When disaster strikes and states are working to rebuild — and seeking help on projects that will protect residents from similar damage in the future — the feds won’t be providing financial assistance. We Americans have always taken care of each other. And Washington has always opened its checkbook. The quality of rescue efforts coordinated by federal agencies has been up and down over the years, but there’s never been a reticence to make victims whole again. But now there apparently is.
SESSIONS' INVOLVEMENT AFTER RECUSING HIMSELF GROUNDS FOR REMOVAL, POSSIBLE CRIMINAL CHARGES: Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. “During the course of the last several weeks, I have met with the relevant senior career Department officials to discuss whether I should recuse myself from any matters arising from the campaigns for president of the United States,” he said in his written recusal released on March 2. “Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States.” Any existing or future investigations. Related in any way. Sessions consulted with the president and coordinated the firing of James Comey. Recall that Comey had testified on March 20 that he was heading the Russia investigation. That is the investigation that Sessions promised to stay away from. Refusing to recuse oneself from a conflict or breaking the promise to recuse from a conflict is a serious breach of legal ethics.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
LINDSAY SAUNDERS: NOW IT'S UP TO SENATE TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE COVERAGE: Regarding the May 7 news article “For the very ill, anxiety over GOP plan grows”: I expect better from our elected officials than what we saw May 4. It’s unthinkable that the House of Representatives voted to end Medicaid as we know it by replacing the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act. I’m counting on senators to reject this bill that is a betrayal of the people Congress was elected to represent. The AHCA would force millions to lose insurance, many of them low-income Americans. And capping Medicaid would force states to ration care, shoulder more costs and deny health insurance coverage to many who need it most.
FARIS HILTON: HOW PLANNED PARENTHOOD LOWERS ABORTION RATE: Planned Parenthood offers safe, legal abortion services for those women who insist on the procedure. The other 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s volume of work makes it the largest and most effective entity in the world at eradicating abortion. It does this by offering contraception, family planning, sex education, cancer screenings, testing and treatment of STDs, and with many of these services going to impoverished women. So why would anyone want to dismantle the most effective organization in the world at eradicating abortion? I believe Republicans want to keep abortion as a wedge issue. If they were able to outlaw abortion today, it would have no more effect at ending abortion than prohibition had on ending consumption and sale of alcohol. Planned Parenthood works effectively to eradicate abortion by preventing unwanted pregnancies.
PETER ANDREWS: TRUMP'S FIRING OF COMEY COMPROMISES RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: Regarding the May 10 news article “Comey dismissed as head of FBI”: By summarily firing FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump has severely compromised the integrity of the investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump’s campaign. Only the appointment of a special prosecutor can possibly reassure the public that the Russia investigation will be allowed to be completed without interference and that the findings will be reported fully. I hope Republications will join with Democrats to call for the appointment of a special prosecutor.