The Good: NC NAACP
The state’s initial reaction to the coronavirus was to lock down its 50 prisons—no visitors at first, and then, earlier this month, an announcement that it would no longer accept transfers from county jails. Uh-huh. But what about the county jails? Besides, the virus was already in at least six prisons, and with corrections officers coming and going, there’s not much chance that number won’t grow. The truth is, when they’re crowded, prisons are a virus’s playpen. So all over the country, states have begun addressing releasing elderly, vulnerable, and nonviolent inmates. But not North Carolina. Last Wednesday, the state NAACP and other groups filed a petition with the N.C. Supreme Court on behalf of four inmates and an inmate’s spouse demanding that the DPS get on the ball. By Monday, the DPS got on the ball with a plan to release pregnant women, offenders over 65 with underlying health conditions or a release date in 2020, and female inmates over 50 with underlying conditions and a release date in 2020, and others.
The Bad: Dan Forest
One day, Lieutenant Governor/Professional Nincompoop Dan Forest will say something that doesn’t make us want to smash our heads into the wall. Last Thursday was not that day. Forest was gabbing on some conservative talk show in Wilmington about ending the coronavirus shutdown when he said something truly remarkable even by his standards: “The media, the newspapers and the TV stations, they’re in the business to sell advertising, and panic and fear gets people watching, and that sells advertising for them.” So, in Forest’s big brain, the media ginned up coronavirus panic to sell ads. Neat. Except that by ginning up that panic, we convinced the governor to shut down all of the business we sell ads to, which is why—and Forest would know this if he paid attention—local media is in an acute state of crisis. Later that day, in fact, The News & Observer’s parent company furloughed 4.4 percent of its workforce and sacked the N&O’s publisher.
The Awful: Raleigh Rickshaw
Look, we get that the shutdown is frustrating, especially if your livelihood depends on all the stuff that is now closed by government order. Heck, that’s us! But there are appropriate ways to vent that frustration. This was not one of them: On Thursday, Don Mertrud, the owner and operator of the 13-year-old company Raleigh Rickshaw, posted on Facebook that he’d offer free advertising to “the first 3 downtown Raleigh businesses bars or restaurants to re-open for dine-in.” Wake County and the city of Raleigh, he continued, were not “lifting a finger for small businesses or developing a recovery strategy for small businesses,” so “all business should be planning re-opening for the coming week.” Setting aside the fact that reopening amid an order to close is definitely illegal, let’s pause to think about the public health ramifications of hundreds of DTR businesses saying the hell with it and getting back in the game during the projected peak of the crisis in North Carolina, even while trying to be “careful.” Anyway, after being roundly mocked in the comments, Mertrud deleted the post and declined to comment on his views about the stay-at-home order.
Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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