Editorial Roundup: North Carolina

Greensboro News and Record. September 20, 2022.

Editorial: The ACC walks away

It wasn’t a question of whether, but when.

As expected, the Atlantic Coast Conference is leaving Greensboro for Charlotte, and (as if this wound needed more salt) will receive incentives from the state for moving from one North Carolina city to another.

The ACC’s presidents and chancellors had made it official with a Tuesday morning vote.

But from the beginning it was evident that, even though Greensboro is the birthplace of the ACC, the conference wanted to be somewhere else.

Though there were many logical and sentimental arguments for the league’s headquarters to remain in the place where it was founded 69 years ago, the moment the ACC announced that it was mulling its options, one foot already was out the door.

You don’t shop for a new house if you’re not in the market. When the conference hired a consultant to explore its options you could have revved the moving trucks.

The ACC wanted brighter lights and a bigger city.

To be fair, some practical considerations do favor Charlotte.

It has a passenger hub airport with more direct flights.

It is, by far, a home to more corporate headquarters.

And ESPN, the conference’s media partner, has studios there.

Yet, Greensboro leaders offered solid responses to all of those talking points, including a proposal for customized air travel.

And remember, this city’s pedigree as a college sports venue is beyond impressive.

The Greensboro Coliseum has hosted the men’s basketball tournament a record 28 times and the women’s 22 times, also a record. From 1974 to 2012, it hosted 63 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament games, third-most of any venue in the nation.

Greensboro also has hosted ACC championships in Olympic sports such as swimming and golf.

As if any of this would have made any difference.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips all but placed his cards face-up on the table during an August interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch when he said:

“Should (the conference headquarters) be aligned with media opportunities? Should it be aligned with Fortune 100, 200, 500 companies? Should it be aligned with corporate sponsorship opportunities? Should it be aligned with a city that could host championships or does host championships? …

“That’s what needs to be looked at. Are we leaving some money out there? Are we leaving some branding out there? Are we leaving some exposure out there?”

How are you supposed to react after reading that if you’re Greensboro?

Orlando, Fla., also was a suitor, but Charlotte, which has vied for the ACC headquarters before, always appeared to have the inside track.

As for those incentives, why not have a swig of castor oil to wash down the bitter pill?

Lawmakers have carved out $15 million for the ACC in the state budget if the league remains in the state for 15 additional years and, between now and 2034, holds at least four men’s basketball tournaments, two in Greensboro, four women’s basketball tournaments, four baseball tournaments and 20 other championship events in the state.

That’s good, we guess, for Greensboro, though the city already is the de facto home of the women’s basketball tournament and certainly hopes to play host to more than two men’s tournaments over the next 12 years.

Meanwhile, city taxpayers are, in essence, chipping in to reward the ACC for moving to Charlotte.

We could rationalize the loss. The ACC corporate presence here was small, only a few dozen employees.

But the prestige of that presence, and the ACC’s deep roots here, are no small considerations.

So, we congratulate the good people of Charlotte and wish them well. But that doesn’t mean we have to like this.

If that’s being a sore loser, so be it.

Greensboro is a city on the rise. These days it aims higher and expects more of itself.

In other words, being runner-up isn’t acceptable. And, frankly, we deserved better.

Incidentally, the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday celebrated a stellar first year that featured more than 431,000 patrons, 221 events and 89 sellouts.

On Saturday, Toyota plans to announce “a new community investment initiative supporting workforce development” in the Triad and present the rendering of its new manufacturing plant at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite.

And, while we appreciate the city’s long and prosperous association with the ACC and expect that to continue, we are not happy to lose its headquarters.

So, yay, the ACC will remain in North Carolina. Good for the state and for Charlotte. But excuse us if we don’t hold a parade.

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Winston-Salem Journal. September 20, 2022.

Editorial: Drop the monument

With the Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors beginning later this week, we’re glad that while visitors to Winston-Salem will doubtlessly enjoy our many attractions and amenities, we won’t have to explain to them why a modern, business-friendly city like ours still has a Confederate monument standing downtown. It was removed in March 2019 after being declared a public nuisance and we feel it’s safe to say that it’s generally not been missed.

For that matter, we’re glad it wasn’t there to mar our highly valued National Black Theatre Festival in August. It would have been a thumb in the eye of the cultured celebration.

Similar decisions, here and elsewhere, have led to similar removals of dishonorable monuments. Virginia removed or renamed 71 Confederate monuments or symbols in 2020; North Carolina did so with 24.

And rightly so. It’s undeniable that such monuments honor people who fought — or were led to fight — on behalf of the cruel practice of slavery and the belief in white supremacy — and against the United States.

But these facts have not diminished the desire of the statue’s sponsor, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), to seek redress from the courts. After failing to make any headway in the Forsyth County Superior Court or the state Court of Appeals, the organization took its case to the N.C. Supreme Court in August, where it’s now being deliberated.

The statue was first erected in 1905 — and there it stood for more than a hundred years, much longer than the Confederacy itself existed.

But following the dramatic and violent “Unite the Right” rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville in 2017, many communities began to reexamine their Confederate monuments and what they might be supporting. Winston-Salem’s statue was dismantled and put in storage in 2019.

The N.C. legislature has regularly passed laws to protect Confederate monuments and prevent local communities from removing them, most recently in 2015.

Winston-Salem and Forsyth County were able to bypass that block because the property on which the statue stood had been sold to a private company, which agreed that it should be removed.

But the UDC claims that the ownership of the statue isn’t clear and should be established by the court. If it can claim ownership, that opens the possibility of reinstalling the statue.

So it’s fighting, at great expense, to restore a symbol of hatred and division.

Winston-Salem is not the only community still struggling with what should be a settled issue. In Alamance County, where protests have erupted over a Confederate statue in Graham, a Superior Court judge last week dismissed a case for removal brought by the local NAACP branch. Similar cases are pending in Gaston and Iredell counties.

The UDC has options — Winston-Salem has said it would hand the statue over if it could be placed on private property, “so that it can be enjoyed by other individuals who enjoy seeing such monuments,” as City Attorney Angela Carmon put it.

But that’s not good enough for the UDC. It must put its thumb in the community’s eye.

Human beings are complicated and multi-faceted. We’re sure there are individuals in the UDC and elsewhere who somehow sincerely see past the evil enacted by the Confederacy, to their own family history or some sense of “heritage.”

But the day has long passed for memorializing people who went to war to maintain the right to own human beings as property.

The UDC seems to have little regard for how its monument affects the African-Americans whose ancestors were once the victims of this evil practice or those who would prefer we emphasize our equality and shared humanity. If its members can retain some sense of regard for their ancestors, they should also have some regard for their ancestors’ victims.

And if they can’t, they should work to find that private property where they can express their fealty in private.

This isn’t the most pressing issue of the day — and that’s the point. We have more important matters to deal with than an unworthy cause that survived for fewer than four years yet cost the South so much. The UDC should withdraw its case and move on.

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Charlotte Observer/Raleigh News and Observer. September 20, 2022.

Editorial: Ted Budd’s refusal to answer a basic question shows he really is an election denier

In 2020, it became evident that Donald Trump would not accept defeat long before the first ballot was cast. “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” he told his supporters.

Now, Trump’s preferred candidates in key swing states won’t promise to accept the 2022 election results, The New York Times reported Sunday. Among them is Rep. Ted Budd, who Trump has endorsed in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race.

A campaign spokesperson declined to tell The New York Times whether Budd would uphold the state’s results, and apparently made the unsubstantiated claim that Budd’s opponent, Cheri Beasley, might try to disenfranchise voters. A similar story published by The Washington Post listed Budd as one of 12 Republican nominees who either refused to commit to accepting the outcome of their elections or declined to respond altogether. The News & Observer didn’t get a straight answer, either.

That’s alarming. Even in the best case scenario, it provokes an ugly distrust in our elections, and discourages people from participating at all.

“For people ahead of time to set up the myth that there’s going to be fraud, that the election is going to be stolen, even before voting has started, is totally irresponsible,” Jennifer Roberts, a former Charlotte mayor, told the Editorial Board Monday.

Roberts and former state Supreme Court justice Bob Orr are leading the Carter Center’s bipartisan effort to restore public trust in the elections process. The Carter Center, a nonprofit organization founded by former President Jimmy Carter, found that purple states like North Carolina are more likely to experience disruption or concern about the integrity of elections, Roberts said.

The Carter Center is asking candidates to pledge their commitment to the peaceful transfer of power and other core democratic principles. Many current and former elected officials have signed the pledge, including two former North Carolina governors and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who Trump famously encouraged to overturn his state’s election results. Roberts said the group plans to ask Budd to sign the pledge in the near future.

“I think it is disappointing that we have to ask the question in the first place,” Roberts said. “This is something that, until 2020, I think most Americans took for granted as a basic tenet of democracy.”

It’s not entirely surprising that Budd would cast doubt on the 2022 election, because he still seems reluctant to embrace Trump’s 2020 loss. As a congressman, Budd objected to the certification of the Electoral College results and spent months echoing Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. Budd did finally admit last year that Joe Biden is, in fact, the legitimate president, but later claimed those comments had been “taken out of context.” He has since reiterated his “tremendous constitutional concerns about how the election of 2020 happened.”

Budd’s campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Editorial Board. Representatives for Bo Hines, another Trump-backed election denier running in North Carolina’s competitive 13th Congressional District, also did not respond when asked if Hines would support the upcoming election’s results. Hines recently scrubbed Trump’s name and endorsement from his website and hung up on a New York Times reporter who asked whether he planned to appear at Trump’s rally in Wilmington this weekend.

Republicans, whether they agree with it or not, are feeding the stolen election narrative because it wins them votes, and it’s dangerous. We know what can happen when a legitimate election is dismissed as “stolen” or “rigged,” and yet we’re staring at the very same threat again.

Donald Trump and his acolytes seem to believe that ascendance to public office is something they are owed, and the only acceptable outcome of an election is the one in which they win. That, coupled with their outright refusal to commit to the peaceful transfer of power, should be disqualifying to any voter who believes that democracy matters.

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