Pete's Prep: Monday, Sept. 10, 2018

posted by Pete Kaliner - 

Hurricane Florence takes aim at the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence could be making landfall by the end of this week, and the Carolinas are in its path. A State of Emergency has already been declared for North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Officials are warning of coastal flooding, dangerous rip currents, and heavy rain. Voluntary evacuations have already been issued for colleges along the coast.

You can stay up-to-date at WWNC.com.

If Florence does ravage the Tar Heel State, I guess victims can expect Gov. Cooper to get help to them by 2020.

Oh!

What's that?

You read the Asheville Citizen-Times and you're unaware of why it would take so long for Hurricane relief to make its way to victims?

How odd. Let's run a quick search at the AC-T website to see if they've covered this state scandal:

It seems it's been a year since the paper has covered the issue. (To be fair, perhaps the search feature on their site is buggy.)

This is important because there has been a large fight in Raleigh over this issue.

A special legislative committee convened to investigate why it's been two years since Hurricane Matthew and people still haven't had their homes rebuilt. 

From Google:

The scandal surrounding Hurricane Matthew relief isn't the only one being ignored by our local newspaper. The "secret DMV office" is another.

Citizen-Times Readers probably had some sort of an idea about the long lines earlier this summer, because the paper publishes a Raleigh News & Observer reporter's regular column. Colin Campbell wrote about his experience waiting for hours at a DMV office in Clayton. 

Campbell gave Gov. Cooper the kid glove treatment:

DMV didn't get much extra funding in this year's budget. Gov. Roy Cooper's administration oversees the agency (I'm sitting under a framed photo of Cooper right now), but didn't make a strong push for more staffing or locations in his budget proposal. His predecessor, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, campaigned on a pledge to “fix DMV,” and was able to make some minor improvements. But Cooper prefers to focus his attention on jobs and education initiatives, and you rarely hear him mention DMV lines.

This was quite a charitable assessment for the chief executive of the state. Gov. Cooper simply "prefers to focus his attention on jobs and education." Cooper is not accused of dereliction. It's not a lack of leadership. Nobody should blame the Democrat Governor - he simply prefers different priorities.

Instead, Campbell (one of the most influential reporters in state politics) trains his gaze upon the GOP-led legislature - who is REALLY to blame here:

DMV's problems require more urgency. But there's hope: Cooper has the power to call the legislature into session, and lawmakers have shown there's no crisis too small for a special session. They recently returned to Raleigh simply to tweak the wording on election ballots.

Legislators found about $100 million in this year's budget to give to charities and pet projects in their districts, so it shouldn't be too hard to find money to hire temporary staffers, extend hours and lease space for new DMV offices – at least through the 2020 REAL ID deadline.

And that's the only recent story about the DMV you'll find at the Citizen-Times:

If you rely on the Asheville Citizen-Times to provide you with all of your news coverage, you wouldn't know anything about the secret DMV office that was run out of DMV headquarters in Raleigh - that was invitation-only, available only by appointment, and accessible to only state employees and their families.

It's been a pretty big story since WBTV broke the news a few weeks ago:

These are two very big NC stories. Republicans consider them to be scandals.

And maybe that's why the stories don't make it into the paper. I don't know.

Obviously newspapers (along with radio & TV) are limited in what they can cover. Staffing levels, competing stories in a news cycle, not enough space on the page all impact coverage.

But I also know that NOT covering stories is a way to protect preferred causes, parties, or issues. Bias can be found in the way things are covered, but also in what doesn't get covered at all.

It's why I've always urged folks to get their news from multiple sources.

By the way, Gov. Roy Cooper has also flip-flopped on a controversial toll road project. He now says it would be fiscally irresponsible to cancel the construction contract.

"But, Pete! That's a Charlotte-area project! Nobody in Western NC cares about it, so why should there be any coverage of the issue in the local press?"

Good question.

Except, it was an issue worth covering in the Gubernatorial election:



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Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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