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Education shenanigans. An interesting NC history

Here's a long but interesting letter in response to an Aug. 11 letter from a former Wake County lawmaker that offered a history of merging the Wake County and Raleigh city schools. Read it here if you missed it.

The 411 on Wake County getting out of the mental health business Monday

The editorial board and some news reporters met with Wake County manager David Cooke and several other folks this week to get an update on upcoming changes that are transforming the behavioral health system. The other participants were Denise Foreman, assistant Wake County manager; Brian Sheitman, medical director at WakeBrook and a UNC psychiatrist; Jack Naftel, vice chair of the UNC Department of Psychiatry; Anita Watkins, strategic relations at Rex; Rob Robinson, COO of Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, and Alan Wolf, media relations at Rex/UNC.

I heartily thank Alan, a former N&Oer, for his synopsis here of the situation:

One reader's shout-out to Sheriff Harrison

On Saturday, Jan. 12, we printed this letter from Bernie Wolf of Youngsville:

Recently I found myself driving next to a woman using two hands to apply face powder - resting the powder container on the steering wheel while using the brush with her other hand, heading south on U.S. 401 at I-540. She even managed to change lanes at the same time.

No big thing - we all see inattentive driving frequently. But this stood out because the woman was wearing the uniform of the Wake County Sheriff's Department and was a sergeant with three stripes.

I hope someone tells her that setting an example like that is not a very good reflection on her or the department. When you choose to wear a badge and uniform, you subject yourself to higher standards.

Well, apparently somebody told her. We got this follow-up submission from Mr. Wolf:

Unfortunately it's human nature to be quick to complain but slow to compliment, if at all. Last week I observed an off-duty Wake County Sheriff's Department detention officer driving while distracted. The next day Sheriff Donnie Harrison personally called me to discuss the situation. The sheriff called me again a day later to tell me that the officer had been identified and was embarrassed and that it would not happen again. He also thanked me for taking the time to let the department know about this.

I live a half-mile outside of Wake County but obviously drive and spend a lot of time there and hope the community realizes how much the sheriff cares about the professionalism of his people, no matter what their job is. For him to take the time to speak to me personally, twice, reflects that he not only is a true professional but a public servant everyone in the area can be extremely proud to have leading this fine organization.

I hope he continues to serve all of us in this outstanding "hands on" manner that is unusual for elected officials. We need folks like that in state and national politics - maybe more would get done!

Debra Goldman and Chris Malone: Readers speak on the school board saga

Some letters to the editor about Sunday's story detailing Wake County school board member Debra Goldman's suggestion to Cary police that fellow board member Chris Malone might have been the burglar who took $130,000 in jewelry,  cash and coins from her home in 2010. Malone told police the two had a relationship that was "personal and physical." Miss the story? Read it here.

Kevin Hill: Superintendent's firing was over a loss of trust, leadership style

Wake County school board Chairman Kevin Hill visited The N&O to talk on the record about the board's vote to fire superintendent Tony Tata. These are my NONVERBATIM notes. I didn't have a tape recorder. Just a laptop. One highlight: "The citizens of Wake County have to demand that the politics come out of the board. They’ve got to."

Round 4: Readers on the firing of schools chief Tony Tata

A look at the weekend outpouring of letters regarding the Wake County school board's vote to fire Superintendent Tony Tata:

The firing of Tony Tata: Readers speak

A look at the avalanche of emotion in the community in the wake of the school board's firing of Superintendent Tony Tata:

Chatham reverses course on immigration enforcement

The Chatham County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Monday to rescind a resolution adopted two years ago that opposed local governmental agencies assisting  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in enforcing federal immigration laws.

In a release, county commissioners Chairman Brian Bock says the 2009 resolution expressed an opinion on local law enforcement that the current board majority does not share.

"The majority feels that it is important for the Sheriff's Office to be able to perform its mission of enforcing laws, including those related to illegal immigration, without pressure to do otherwise from the Board of Commissioners," Bock says.

The federal 287(g) program trains county officers to check the immigration status of every person arrested. At the time of the 2009 resolution, it was being used in seven of the biggest metropolitan areas of the state, including Wake and Durham counties.

"Our county has been blessed with a diverse population for much of its existence," then commissioners Chairman George Lucier said at the time. "This has included people of color and immigrants, who were not always American citizens or documented residents. All of these residents have enriched our economy, our character and our culture as well."

The 287(g) is supposed to remove dangerous criminals from the streets, but a state legislative committee found that many ICE detentions were for traffic violations. In opposing the program two years ago, county officials also cited concerns that immigrants in communities with ICE agreements are reluctant to report crimes, because they fear that they or family members could be detained.

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