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A step back from openness

Dart to the sudden and persistent effort in the legislature to cloak disciplinary actions by the Judicial Standards Commission in secrecy. State Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Republican lawyer from New Hanover who presents himself as a champion of openness, is behind this measure. He inserted language into House Bill 652 that would close judicial disciplinary meetings and make confidential certain records that currently become public when the disciplinary process concludes. Only the N.C. Supreme Court could make such actions public. A senator who presented the bill on the Senate floor Friday said it would prevent the commission from “blackmailing” judges by threatening actions that would have to be public. Republicans and Democrats unaccustomed to agreeing with each other rose up against the bill, with one senator saying the bill “sounds like lawyers protecting lawyers.” They voted it down. Bad bills don’t die easily, however. The Senate later re-referred the bill to the Rules Committee. Voters need to let their senators know what they think of this. Without public disclosure of the Judicial Standards Commission’s actions, ugly rumors would have swirled endlessly around one local judge who had an inappropriate relationship with a court clerk. The Judicial Standards Commission’s openness is the only way to arm voters with facts instead of rumors. Being more secretive would be a huge step backwards.
Laurels to the Old North State Dental Society for donating $20,000 to the Missions of Mercy dental clinic scheduled for Sept. 27-28 in Salisbury. The dental group’s gift follows earlier donations of $25,000 from Tom and Dottie Abramoski and a $25,000 grant from the Robertson Foundation. Up to 1,000 patients are expected to show up for free dental services during the event at Catawba College. The clinic is part of the statewide Missions of Mercy project sponsored by the N.C. Dental Society. You can find information for prospective patients, contributors and volunteers online at www.ncmom-salisbury.org.
Dart to the mosquito swarms emerging from our rainy summer. Now, there’s more bad mosquito news for those seeking respite from the heat with a cold brew. The Smithsonian Magazine’s “Surprising Science” blog reports that beer drinkers are more attractive to mosquitos than those who don’t drink. “Just a single 12-ounce bottle of beer can make you more attractive to the insects, one study found,” the blog states. “But even though researchers had suspected this was because drinking increases the amount of ethanol excreted in sweat, or because it increases body temperature, neither of these factors were found to correlate with mosquito landings, making their affinity for drinkers something of a mystery.”

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