Articles by Clifton Dowell | NCInsider.com

Paul O’Connor: Ideology Rules Today’s Partisanship

RALEIGH — During the July news doldrums, a young reporter asked how state politics have changed since I arrived in the capital. “It’s more partisan, isn’t it?” he asked. I paused, then said, “No, it was always partisan,” but I couldn’t put my finger on a difference I sensed but could not articulate. Wednesday, while eating fried squash in the…


Paul O’Connor: Persistence in Gerrymandering

RALEIGH — If there is one indisputable observation to make about the state’s Republican legislative majority it is this: They are relentless in their efforts to protect their disproportional power. After winning control in the outlier 2010 elections, they have spun this purple state into a bright red fiefdom. When the courts told them they had illegally gerrymandered the 2011…


Paul O’Connor: In 2017, Internet Deserts Persist

RALEIGH – Shortly after online dating chat rooms appeared, a cartoon poked fun at the anonymity they afforded. The caption, “On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog,” ran below a sketch of a dog at a keyboard. About that time, the world was realizing that if the Internet could help a mutt get a date it could also…


Paul O’Connor: The End of Mobility

RALEIGH — Rural Americans feel “trapped” in their communities, stuck in unfavorable financial situations but unable, for both practical and lifestyle reasons, to move to more economically vibrant areas. So says a fascinating article in the August 3 edition of The Wall Street Journal. While the story does not mention North Carolina, its message is one our political leaders should…


Paul O’Connor: Time For Bed, GOP!

RALEIGH — The wrangling between federal judges and GOP legislators brings to mind an episode from early childhood. I was probably six, and I’d misbehaved, so my punishment was an early dinner, early bath and early bedtime. I claimed innocence, then protested the minor nature of the infraction and then criticized the severity of the punishment. When none of that…


Paul O’Connor: Looking For Ancestors

RALEIGH – Anyone who owns a Bible recording vital family dates is blessed in more than a religious sense. Knowing the names and important dates of one’s family members is a gift from previous generations. Now five months into a new hobby – more an obsession – I’m envious of those who enjoy a family record that says, definitively, that…


Colin Campbell: To Win the Legislature, Look to Rural Counties

RALEIGH — When Gov. Roy Cooper recently rolled out his new initiative to “Break The Majority” in the Republican-controlled legislature, his first interview wasn’t with a North Carolina news outlet. It was with POLITICO — the Washington-based magazine that’s a must-read for D.C. insiders. “Can Roy Cooper show Democrats how to win again?” the bold headline read. Cooper told the…


Paul O’Connor: Lottery Fantasies

RALEIGH – While the legislature debated the state lottery years ago, a veteran lobbyist dismissed my argument that it would amount to state-sponsored gambling. “Any fool knows that the odds of winning the lottery are so bad that you can’t call it gambling. It’s just fun.” More than a decade later, I see he was right. I’m never going to…


Paul O’Connor: You Gotta Pay Your Bills

RALEIGH – The fiscal crises in two states have liberals and conservatives chortling in glee. Liberal Connecticut and conservative Kansas are both in fiscal trouble, so conservatives point northward and liberals midwestward and say, “We told you that doesn’t work.” Looking at the two states, I say they are living proof of my brilliant treatise, first published in 2014 but…


Paul O’Connor: The Dots Are Moving

RALEIGH – Ferrel Guillory, the former newsman and current UNC scholar, often lectures to journalists with slides that reporters have nicknamed “Dots, Dots, Dots.” Guillory starts with a fairly blank 19th century map of North Carolina. Using U.S. Census data, he notes population centers with black dots, creating a new map for every new data set, that is, every tenth…