Surprise —the N&R and the John Locke Foundation have differing views on the UNC Board of Governors study group draft recommendation that the university’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity be shuttered.

Starting with the N&R:

The center was the brainchild of former senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, who made poverty his primary issue. He also needed a place to maintain his visibility until launching his next campaign, so the center had apparent political origins.

Its present director, Gene Nichol, is an academic — a former UNC law dean and president of William and Mary College. He has criticized policies of North Carolina’s Republican leaders that he says hurt the poor. In response, he’s been challenged by conservatives, including writers at the Civitas Institute, who have called for closing the center because of its “political activities.”

…Because the Poverty Center operates on an annual budget of just $120,000 raised from private sources, it does seem to have been targeted for political reasons. UNC Law Dean Jack Boger said: “The BOG special committee rests its recommendation on no genuine reason beyond a barely concealed desire to stifle the outspokenness of the center’s director, Professor Gene Nichol, who continues to talk about the state’s appalling poverty with unsparing candor.” Is that political?

JLF chair John Hood says the conspiracy on the part of eeevil Republicans to shutter the center might rank as “the most improbable, elaborate, and ineffective” in N.C. history:

the poverty center hasn’t exactly established itself as a bustling center of scholarship. I haven’t talked to the UNC board members who conducted the recent review. (I can also confirm that Art Pope, who chairs the board of the foundation I now run, had no involvement with it.) But the other day I went on the poverty center’s website. Most of the posted research appears to have been produced many years ago. Most of the listed events were showings of films, presentations by advocacy groups, or presentations on topics other than poverty.

Maybe the study simply concluded —as was its charge—was simply ineffective, ironically a point made by none than the N&R’s ultra-liberal columnist Susan Ladd, who recently described Greensboro as “a city where affordable housing is scarce, jobs are hard to come by and the working homeless are making minimum wage.”

Which —also ironically makes the case for City Council change, doesn’t it?