Campaign season means ‘law and order.’ Can we break the habit?

OPINION — When mass incarceration in America gets political attention, it’s often so the issue can be used as a cudgel to attack opponents. Thus, the president Twitter-shames former Vice President Joe Biden for his role in promoting the 1994 crime bill even as Donald Trump’s own history of hounding the Central Park Five is highlighted in “When They See Us,” director Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries on the teens accused, convicted, imprisoned and eventually exonerated.

When Democrats and Republicans cooperated on a criminal justice reform bill late last year that made modest changes in the federal system, they congratulated themselves for getting something done in gridlocked Washington.

But it hardly solved the problem. That’s the message of Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI. “The presidential election will be important setting the tone,” he told me at a recent appearance in Charlotte. “The hard work has to happen in North Carolina, in the state legislature on issues like sentencing, on issues like prisons, on issues like excessive punishment, and that’s true for every state in the country.”

President Trump’s U.K. Visit

CHARLOTTE, NC —  The Unites States and Britain have for generations been proud of their “special relationship,” their cultural, political and military bonds. But as President Trump traveled across the Atlantic for a state dinner and high-level meetings, there are questions about those bonds. The president and the queen exchanged strong and supportive toasts – but there was more to the story.

Team Trump’s Harriet Tubman stumble was a missed opportunity for the GOP

OPINION — It would have been so easy, a way for the Trump administration to honor an American icon and reach out to some of those Americans who believe the Republican Party has no use for them. But did anyone honestly think any member of the team leading the country under the direction of Donald J. Trump was going to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill?

Instead Trump and company’s song-and-dance about why a plan put in place before they moved into the White House would be delayed until well after they leave just confirms that they care little for the wishes of Americans who probably did not vote for them, but who are Americans nonetheless, and that they have no knowledge of or interest in the history that has shaped this country.

The move to again force Tubman to the back was a clarion call to Trump’s base, a signal of who is important and who is not.

Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup: VP Pence Visits CLT; Huntersville Ed Committee Recommendations

On this edition of the Charlotte Talks local news roundup:

The Huntersville education advisory commission recommends that the town operate its own charter school and split from CMS, a move that one CMS official says is “politically driven. How likely is this outcome?

Vice President Mike Pence was in the Queen City this week for an RNC Kickoff Meeting, as next year’s Convention, which will be held in Charlotte, is getting closer. What was the purpose of this visit, and what have we learned about plans for the 2020 Republican National Convention?

As abortion legislation is passed around the country, rallies are taking place nationwide, and here in the Queen City. We’ll talk about a Charlotte rally where anti-abortion and abortion-rights advocates clashed.

In South Carolina, the House and the Senate have now approved around $120 million in tax breaks to offer to the Carolina Panthers to entice them to move practice fields and the team’s headquarters to the state from North Carolina.

And get ready to start your engines — this weekend is the second “Race Weekend” in a row for Charlotte (we hosted the NASCAR All-Star Race last Saturday, and this weekend is the Coca-Cola 600). What should we know to attend the event or avoid the crowds?

Those stories and much more with Mike Collins and a panel of journalists on the Charlotte Talks local news roundup.

Guests:

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com and WCCB

Alexandra OlginWFAE Reporter

Glenn Burkins, editor and publisher of QCityMetro.com

Jonathan Lowe, reporter for Spectrum News 

North Carolina redo sets stage for copycat campaigns in 2020

OPINION — After an election fraud scandal, North Carolina Republicans lost a House candidate. After an indictment and questions about possible bribery, the state GOP lost its chair.

But all that didn’t stop a gaggle of Republicans from vying for the chance to run for a House seat that, thanks to gerrymandering, still favors their party — that is, of course, if voters stay interested in a special election that now will be decided on Sept. 10, if everything goes as planned.

Whatever happens, the race has offered a national blueprint for what voters will see in 2020, with the majority of Republicans clinging close to Donald Trump and trying to brand Democrats as far to the left as imagination allows. Meanwhile, Democrats proclaim their independence and ability to stand up to the president and his bending of constitutional norms while doing the other business of Congress and helping constituents.

An American credo: Justice for some, especially the four-legged

Derby on May 4. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

OPINION — From the current administration’s indifference to congressional requests for information on the Mueller report to its hardening policies restricting those seeking asylum from violent homelands, one would think Donald Trump and company cared little for justice. But the president did manage to speak out recently in support of one particular victim he felt was wronged.

In a signature tweet, he said: “The Kentuky Derby decision was not a good one.” (He has since corrected the spelling to “Kentucky.”) “It was a rough and tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby — not even close!”

Yes, Donald Trump reacted in outrage, in defense of a horse.

After gun massacre, Charlotte is now ‘one of those cities’

OPINION — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Now we’re one of those schools.” That’s what a  University of North Carolina student, in more sadness than anger, told a local radio station after a gunman killed two and wounded four others on her campus on Tuesday. And now Charlotte, a city already experiencing a spike in homicides, is “one of those cities.”

In the city and state, there is shock, plus questions. A suspect is in custody, but that doesn’t provide answers about why it happened and what can be done to keep it from happening again.

That this latest incident did not make it to the top spot in many national news outlets speaks to how commonplace such incidents have become and how frustrated many citizens are. Is the answer more mental health resources, more “good guys with guns,” more regulations and background checks, or something else?

A Deadly Shooting at UNCC, and a City in Shock

CHARLOTTE, NC — A shooting at UNCC leaves two dead and four wounded. A city that has seen a sharp rise in homicides this year is now grappling with a horrific shooting that adds Charlotte to the list of cities where a school is the setting for gun violence. A suspect is in custody, but that doesn’t provide answers to the questions of why it happened and what can be done

It’s called accountability, but only for some

OPINION — When I was a little girl growing up in West Baltimore, my parents (especially my mom) gave me some truth along with the love. “You will have to work twice as hard to get half as far,” they told their working-class African American child, schooled as they had been in life’s challenges. They also warned about what everyone on my side of town knew: There was little to no room for error because folks like us seldom got the benefit of the doubt.

This was not to discourage me — far from it. It was to prepare me. Better to know what the deal was upfront.

They did not live to observe the spectacle of the president of the United States and members of his family get away — for now, at least — with all sorts of dishonest doings, things an African American president and his family would have been marched across the White House lawn in cuffs and shackles for. Things anyone in my neighborhood would have been tossed under the jail for even thinking about doing.

To Impeach or Not to Impeach

CHARLOTTE, NC — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging amid the divide in her own party over whether to impeach President Trump. Pelosi says the party should continue to push for the entire Mueller Report instead of the redacted version released last week.

The Mueller report said the president of the United States did not commit crimes; but it expressly refused to exonerate him on possible obstruction of justice.

Democrats and Republicans face risks and rewards as they choose what to do next. And the process is happening a year and a half before the 2020 presidential election.