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Columns

  • Being a 'good person' doesn't excuse someone from the law

    If being a good person were enough to keep someone out of trouble with the justice system, America wouldn’t be facing problems with jail overcrowding.

    Several years back, I wrote a story about a relationship quarrel in which two men were in an argument over a woman. In the ensuing fight, one of the men stabbed the other—in the eye.

    The stabber-man had been formally charged, and I penned the blurry tale of the eye stabbing.

    Before the ink had a chance to dry on newsprint, I got a call from the stabber’s mother.

  • Brunswick citizens seek honest, hard-working sheriff

    Dear future sheriff: Brunswick County citizens are looking for an honest, hard-working sheriff.

    Gone are the days of the “good ole boys' club,” corruption, extortion, coercion, facilitating drug trafficking and other maladies that have seemed to plague the position of high sheriff in Brunswick County.

    The tide has turned, and we are all looking for a leader with character, integrity and a true and constant devotion to law enforcement.

  • We expect elected leaders to follow all laws

    Just 25 days after North Carolina Governor Mike Easley proclaimed March 20, 2008 “Sunshine Day” in North Carolina, nine media organizations filed a lawsuit against him for refusing to comply with public records law.

    Sunshine Day is part of the nationwide celebration of “Sunshine Week,” a week that highlights citizens’ rights to public records.

    The Sunshine Laws and North Carolina Public Records Laws exist to ensure the public has the right to access government documents.

  • Earth Day pays tribute to whole wide world

    All you had to do to know it was Earth Day was log onto Google on Tuesday.

    There it was on Google’s “classic” home Web page—an idyllic mountain-and-waterfall scene in vivid blue and green. All it lacked was the sound effects of a gurgling brook and chirping birds.

    Normally, my daily iGoogle page features a cute cartoon frog and ladybug as they go through their day, drinking coffee in the morning (probably in recyclable Google cups).

    Then they play outdoor games such as croquet, also in an idyllic, blue-and-green spring setting.

  • What can you do? More than you think

    Thirty-four children in North Carolina died as a result of child abuse in 2006.

    That’s not just a statistic. That’s 34 people who will never go to high school, go on a first date, get married or have children of their own—34 souls that came into the world pure and full of promise for the future and who never had a chance.

  • A lesson about how to prevent a police scandal

    At 5 a.m. on a Monday morning in an FBI field office, there was a loud knock on the front door. The young night clerk on duty inside inquired

    “Good Morning, sir. May I help you?” The serious-looking man dressed in a business suit and trench coat identified himself as the No. 1 inspector from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., accompanied then and there by 10 other inspectors.

    All were admitted with their heavy briefcases, and they set to work immediately.

  • The need for a new Oak Island bridge becomes all too clear

    Last Wednesday, I backed out of my driveway on Oak Island and drove toward N.C. 211 to make the daily commute to Shallotte.

    As I crossed the Oak Island Bridge, my phone rang. It was a colleague calling to warn me about an accident on N.C. 211. A tanker had overturned spilling its contents over the roadway.

    Because Hazmat teams were already hard at work cleaning it up, I only expected a slight delay.

  • Transportation one of our biggest state issues

    Sitting in traffic Tuesday morning waiting for the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to lower so I could get moving, I was mulling over column ideas.

    I was listening to parents call and complain about the failing public schools system in North Carolina on local talk radio. But I didn’t feel like writing about the school system.

    As traffic finally began moving again, I was still searching the inner corners of my brain for an idea. My goal was to have my column all but written by the time I arrived at work. If only I could find the inspiration I needed, I would be set.

  • Finding kindness more difficult in crueler world

    Is it me, or is the world getting meaner?

    I mean, I don’t mean I’M getting meaner—although my mall-shopping, cell-phone-gabbin’ teenager may beg to differ. But a lot of other people in our community and world seem to be—getting meaner, I mean.

    All you have to do is scan through some of the local crime reports from this past week to start wondering what’s up:

    Assault in Shallotte—Bubba Joe conked Willie Earl on the head with a beer bottle, and there’s a good chance alcohol was involved. Nice.

  • Tax time a headache even for those who think ahead

    April 15 has now come and gone, but even though I filed my taxes well in advance of the deadline, it caused me more pain and anguish than I thought possible.

    Not being any kind of math genius or finance guru, I decided to take my taxes to a local professional this year. I chose a nationally known tax service, thinking it might cost a little bit but it’d be easy and hassle-free.

    During the past year, I spent time working in both Kentucky and North Carolina, so I had two sets of W2s.