If you are having trouble reading this email, you may view the online version
Welcome to this week`s edition of SPINCycle.
This week on NC SPIN we’ll ask our panel to comment on recent news about our economy, about whether legislative chaplains should be allowed to mention the name of a deity, about who should be the next leader of the Highway Patrol and whether there was interference in a campaign investigation.
This week`s panel includes: political consultant, Jeanne Bonds; Chris Fitzsimon, Director of NC Policy Watch; John Hood, President of the John Locke Foundation and former House Speaker, Joe Mavretic. The show will be moderated by Tom Campbell.
Tom Campbell`s Spin
The interference by the State Board of Elections chairman warrants Governor Perdue’s action to assure voters this agency is fair and impartial. Read this week’s column “Stop the Leake”.
Heard on the Street
NC SPIN challenges Barber and Tedesco to debate
You know it must be a Wake School Board meeting if folks get arrested. Following a protest on the streets of Raleigh, a group of protestors attended the Wake County School Board meeting, disrupting the meeting and resulting in 19 arrests.
A couple of observations about what is taking place in the largest school system in North Carolina. First, did anyone else notice that the News and Observer’s picture on the story featured a woman, fist raised in protest, wearing a tee shirt that said, “Women who behave rarely make history?” Of the 19 arrested, only 3 come from Wake County. What does that say? The School Board Chairman, obviously wanting to conduct business, changed the meeting schedule for the board from two meetings per month to one, adding an additional work session each month. This action raised protests from those claiming the board is trying to stifle public input.
Today’s N&O had an interesting article about an alternative approach between diversity and neighborhood schools, a concept called “controlled choice.” The author of the approach, Michael Alves, says this alternative gives parents more choices without creating high poverty schools. The Wake School Board will hear a presentation by Alves next Tuesday. Even though NAACP head William Barber dismissed the concept out of hand, Ann Denlinger, former Superintendent of Durham Schools and now head of Wake Education Partnership, had hopes that perhaps this might be a middle-ground solution and was willing to listen to Alves’ concept.
This raging debate in Wake County is being played out in other school systems across our state, including New Hanover schools.
The NC SPIN challenge
It is time to hear the two sides of this discussion, sit down to some reasonable, unemotional discussion about the benefits and challenges between the diversity policy and neighborhood schools. NC SPIN hereby publicly offers to the Reverend William Barber and John Tedesco an entire 30 minute episode of our weekly TV and radio program to present their case to the public and to debate each other. NC SPIN moderator Tom Campbell will moderate this discussion and pledges it will be conducted with civility, will honestly deal with issues and will be fair and balanced. We will make this offer formally to both parties. If Barber and Tedesco are sincerely interested in the best interests of students and in finding solutions, instead of name calling and accusations, they will accept this invitation and we will undertake the program immediately.
The two reportedly appeared separately on CNN this morning, however the story is not on their web site and few North Carolinians probably saw it. NC SPIN’s debate would be a face-to-face discussion that would be available statewide.
Since we issued the invitation, we have had conversation with Reverend Barber and it looks promising he will be willing to appear. We have not heard from Tedesco.
More problems for Perdue
It isn’t enough that Governor Perdue is trying to govern in one of the worst economic times in the last half century. She also has crisis after crisis to contend with. There are still rumblings about the ferry division management fiasco.
The Highway Patrol mess won’t go away, as noted in today’s Insider. A drunken state trooper, fired for having sex in the back seat of a patrol car with the wife of a subordinate officer, landed another state job less than six months later, as an investigator for the North Carolina Education Lottery at a salary of $46,000 per year. This is punishment? Will the governor be associated with this hiring?
The Highway Patrol issue gets a full hearing on this week’s debate. Be sure to catch the show.
But that’s not all. The State Board of Elections story has long, hairy legs. Chair Larry Leake’s interference into the campaign flights of 2008 gubernatorial candidates is generating calls for Leake to be replaced. One of those calling for Perdue to “Stop the Leake” is this week’s My Spin column. Be sure to read it. And be sure to catch this week’s discussion on this topic on NC SPIN.
When temperatures soar a politician’s thoughts turn to…..
Fundraising. Between now and mid-August, candidates need to focus on raising the money they need to conduct their fall campaigns and this year the pickin’s are scarce. Donors do not seem excited about either the issues or the candidates in this election cycle.
Incumbent Congressional representatives always have an advantage, as once again the PACs and special interests donate to their efforts. Bob Hall and Democracy North Carolina have studied campaign finance reports and tell us, “An analysis of disclosure reports through June 30 reveals that the five Republican members of the US House of Representatives from North Carolina have out-fundraised their Democratic challengers by a whopping 12 to 1 margin – $2,968,000 to $245,000. Meanwhile, the eight NC Democrats in the House have raised more than three times as much as their Republican opponents – $5,244,000 to $1,569,000. Altogether, the 13 incumbents are swamping their challengers by a nearly 5-to-1 fundraising advantage, $8.2 million to $1.8 million.”
If you were wondering how much 2nd District Congressman Bob Etheridge’s (D-Harnett) confrontation with “students” hurt his campaign, Hall’s report shows that as of June 30th Etheridge had $1.2 million in the bank while Renee Ellmers (R-Harnett), who got a quick burst of support following the episode, had only $42,000.
8th District freshman Democratic Congressman Larry Kissell is perhaps the weakest fundraiser in the Congressional delegation, with a June 30 balance of $300,000. His Republican challenger, Harold Johnson, who had a June runoff contest, had a campaign bank balance of $82,000. This still might be the most interesting and closest Congressional contest.
Read Democracy North Carolina’s report.
Governor signs ABC and Video Sweepstakes bills
Governor Perdue signed the ABC reform bill into law as well as the ban on video sweepstakes games in our state. In so doing, she made an interesting comment that she would be willing to discuss having video poker made legal again in our state. We have to wonder why she didn’t make this declaration at the time the legislature was debating the subject.
Make no mistake about what is getting ready to happen. As we reported several weeks ago, video sweepstakes was banned, but not forever. Look for a new bill to authorize video poker games in North Carolina in the 2011 session, with authority to run the games given to the NC Education Lottery.
Even with Governor Perdue’s signature, the matter is not dead. Video gaming interests have been interviewing lawyers in Charlotte and Raleigh and a lawsuit will be initiated before the December 1 deadline. The challenge will be based on the constitutionality of allowing Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes or McDonald’s Monopoly games while outlawing video sweepstakes.
NC SPIN gets award
At the 4-H Congress meeting taking place this week at McKimmon Center in Raleigh, young men and women from all over the state have gathered. Yesterday was recognition day and NC SPIN was recognized as a Partner in Excellence, along with Carolina Farm Credit, the North Carolina State Grange and the North Carolina Farm Bureau. We were flattered to receive this recognition from one of the most outstanding organizations in North Carolina. Our partnership with 4-H has been extremely valuable in getting to know the future leaders of this state.
Speaking of outstanding future leaders, next week’s NC SPIN program will feature four of these outstanding young men and women. Sarah Osborne from Graham, Will Farlessyost from Mars Hill, Curtis Crump from Wadesboro and Ashten Bergstedt from Winterville will be on our panel next week. Be sure to catch this special NC SPIN.
While at the 4-H recognition luncheon, we ran into many NC SPIN friends. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall sat at the table beside us and we quizzed the Democratic candidate for US Senate about her connections with 4-H. Marshall proudly responded that she had once been president of the Maryland state 4-H and had been actively involved with North Carolina’s 4-H for years, having been made a lifetime member.
Pressure mounting to remove HoldingUS Attorne
y George Holding is a holdover from the Bush administration. Even though Senator Kay Hagan has nominated someone to take Holding’s place, she agreed to leave him in place until such time as he had concluded the investigation into former Governor Mike Easley. But that was many months ago and Hagan is being urged by a growing number of Democrats to have the replacement take Holding’s place because the investigation is dragging on and seems to have no conclusion.
Corrections bill has interesting inclusions
One of the last pieces of business our legislature undertakes is the technical corrections bill, the legislation to clean up mistakes in math, language, etc. Our experience is that this is also where a lot of mischief takes place because neither legislators nor reporters take the time to examine it thoroughly.
This year’s corrections bill is no exception. Here are a couple of examples. Section 2.3(b) explains what funds will be reduced to make up the projected $518 million in federal FMAP funds if Congress doesn’t fund the extension of this portion of Medicaid. Among other things, it calls for $30 million from disaster relief funds, $35 million from unclaimed lottery prize winnings, $50 million in interest earnings on all state funds, $38 million from savings reserve funds, 1 percent reduction in state budgets to all agencies and $139 million in reductions of contributions to pension funds.
In section 9.1(a) of the bill, the University of North Carolina is allowed to furlough employees. Despite the fact that teachers and state employees did not receive any pay increases, section 9.2 allows salaries of University employees to be raised if the raised portion comes from non-state funds. Section 11.20 prohibits a reduction in the amount of funds transferred from the Highway Trust Fund to the Global TransPark.
You might want to take a gander at this technical corrections bill yourself.
Republicans are aiming to take over the legislature. They need to gain 6 seats in the Senate and 9 in the House. Given there are 5 Senate Democrats who are retiring, this might be doable. House Democrat seats being targeted include Alice Underhill from New Bern, Arthur Williams from Washington, Van Braxton from Kinston, Randy Stewart from Rocky Mount, Jimmy Love from Sanford, Jane Whilden from Asheville, Lorene Coates from Salisbury and Cullie Tarlton from Blowing Rock. There’s also an open seat in Mecklenburg County.
Drought setting in
rain in sections of the state, the hot, dry weather is taking a toll on landscaping and crops throughout the state. The NC Farm Bureau has produced four very good videos on water which you might enjoy watching. They have given us permission to link to their sites. Be sure to watch all four. Watch here for Number 1. Here for Number 2. Here for Number 3. Here for Number 4. Thanks to Farm Bureau.
And remember to put October 12th on your calendar. The NC SPIN Water Forum planning is coming along well and we should be able to report more in next week’s newsletter.
Until next week, watch out for the SPIN!
Claire Cox-Woodlief, Editor
Tom Campbell, Publisher
Join the discussion on NC SPIN`s facebook page
Note: I don’t think Tedesco can win the debate after watching he and Rev. Barber on CNN yesterday. C. Dancy II – DCN Publisher