Editorial: Genuine dialogue missing

Jun. 10, 2014 @ 10:08 PM

Where credit is earned, it shall be given.

About 11 months ago, in North Carolina’s “Summer of Mondays” drama between protesters and the Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly, we pleaded for a constructive resolution in which somebody from either side listened to the other (“Open dialogue is begging for a seat,” July 11, 2013).

Monday night, Sen. Phil Berger was greeted by 15 visitors in his office waiting to talk with him. The Republican from Eden did just that.

Congratulations, and move to the front of the line. But don’t get comfortable.

We also lamented last summer how the staged theater in Raleigh each Monday was not passing the eye test. Hold that thought.

We did then, and still do now, agree those protesting have every right and arguably have valid points to make with the General Assembly. We also, then and now, agree the Republican-led lawmakers also have points and are in a position to most directly get their way.

We applauded the effort by Sen. Jeff Tarte to meet with ministers who were aligned with the protesters and we denounced their secrecy — which, as it would play out, was the ignition switch to blow up the attempt.

Now comes Berger, who met for about an hour with educators and advocates. They didn’t agree, but they talked. We believe that’s progress.

But not long after they had finished talking, Berger’s office sent out a statement with three items — a letter from Berger inviting the protesters’ policy recommendations, the response to that letter, and a draft of the budget amendment to make those recommendations happen.

According to published reports, those in Berger’s office were told the cost of the amendments would be $5 billion to $6 billion. And, it would take a 50 percent corporate tax rate.

Never mind the emailed statement put the cost at $7 billion with the 50 percent corporate tax rate. Berger had the statement ready before his conversation and was ready to appear to be the guy that sat down and tried to find common ground.

Instead, we see two sides still worlds apart not genuinely listening and still unable to find a constructive resolution. Without moderation, neither side will earn progress.

They won’t earn any credit either.