Welcome to this week`s edition of SPINCycle.
This week on NC SPIN we’ll ask our panel to discuss the Congressional elections, whether current laws are too restrictive regarding new political parties, whether our state’s policies concerning sandbags and jetties are clear and correct and the seriousness of the drought many counties are experiencing.
This week’s panel includes: Chris Fitzsimon, Director of NC Policy Watch; Becki Gray, columnist for Carolina Journal; John Hood, President of the John Locke Foundation and Cash Michaels, columnist for Wilmington Journal. Tom Campbell will moderate the discussion.
We can avoid the lawsuits, bad relations and restrictions metro Atlanta has experienced if we will address our water issues now. Check out this week’s column “Water: Our Most Important Issue”.
Heard on the Street
Since 2003, we have published a weekly e-mail newsletter for followers of NC SPIN. It has been a labor of love. As time passed, the content and length of this newsletter has grown, as have the number of subscribers. More than 4,000 receive our letter each week and we are thankful. You have honored us with your time and attention over the years.
At times we have been controversial, hopefully interesting and perhaps humorous, more often than not wordy, and occasionally wrong. We hope we have corrected our mistakes when they happened. We have broken news stories on many, many occasions and for that we are proud. We have been praised and criticized, even threatened once or twice. Through it all we have loved communicating with you each week.
This will be the last edition of this version of the newsletter and I wanted you to know the reasons behind its termination. Your reporter has aged both literally and figuratively, having officially moved into senior citizen status this summer. This newsletter now requires about a half-day of my personal time and several hours of staff time each week. I am not complaining, but we receive no compensation for it. We’ve never asked to sell you a subscription or for contributions to support this effort.
Having been in the broadcasting and public affairs game for over 46 years I now want to cut back just a bit. My pastor spouse, Lib, is now working three days a week and I would like more time with her. Also, I think I have a book in me and would like to see if fewer deadlines might help me finish it. I am convinced a fettered mind does not lend itself to creative work. NC SPIN, which is totally funded by underwriter support, cannot afford to hire a researcher and writer to continue the newsletter.
Rest assured I have no plans to reduce my efforts for NC SPIN TV and radio, believing the need for an independently produced talk show that focuses on state issues is more needed now than ever.
Our relationship, hopefully, isn’t over. I still intend to feed you tidbits, gossip, opinions and news stories whenever we run into them. But we will using the new social media that is so popular these days. Look for us on our blog site NCBlogger.com or on Facebook. I am going to be asking our NC SPIN panelists to provide conversation on topics each week to make the discussion more interesting. Who knows, you might like it more than the current format.
You can subscribe just as you have done our newsletter by filling in the box on the right side of the site with your e-mail address. Each time we post a comment you will be notified. Even better, there is more chance for you to respond to our blog and have it available for others to read.
So let’s not stop the conversation. Just look for us next week on ncblogger.com
I am eternally thankful and humbled by your great loyalty and attention.
Tom Campbell, publisher
UNC appeals penalties
The UNC football program has been under investigation, both by the NCAA and the school. The team has withheld 13 players from games this year due to the investigations. Wednesday the NCAA issued sanctions for two players. Cornerback Kendric Burney, who received $1,333 in benefits, is to be required to sit out six games and pay back $575.19 to a charity of his choice. Deunta Williams, a safety, received $1,426 in benefits and will be required to miss four games and pay $450.67 to his favorite charity. Oh, the first two games they already missed count against that suspension.
UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour says the penalties are too harsh and is appealing the decision to the NCAA. Never mind that the appeal won’t likely be successful, Baddour and the university are sending the wrong message. Players who break the rules should have consequences for their actions.
It would send a message to all college athletes if the NCAA penalty was even stiffer, like suspension for the entire season.
We still don’t know the fate of 10 players who have been withheld or the results of the internal investigation Carolina has undertaken regarding improper actions surrounding tutors. Let’s hope.
What do you think? We’ve written our thoughts on our blog ncblogger.com and now we would invite you to respond. Send us your reactions and we will post them.
And look for a discussion on this topic next week on NC SPIN.
College spending under the microscope
There’s no disputing the escalating costs of tuition at colleges and universities across the country. Tuition in the $30-40,000 per year range is not uncommon in private colleges and universities but even publicly supported schools have experienced dramatic increases.
Where is all this money going? Is the value of higher education increasing at the same rate costs are rising? A new book, “Higher education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids and What We Can Do About It”, examines the subject and reports that colleges are not spending their increased revenues in ways that benefit students. Tuition is now $40 billion a year higher than in 1980.
Andrew Hacker, on the faculty at Queens College, and Claudia Dreifus, from Columbia University, are authors of this new book, saying that much of the increase goes to athletics. There are now 629 colleges with football teams, 132 more than in 1980. All but 14, according to the book, lose money. The number of women’s sports programs has soared. Women’s soccer teams have increased from 80 to 956 since 1980. Few sports programs are revenue producers. Varsity golf at Duke, the book says, costs an estimated $20,000 per player. So the $40,000 plus tuition at Duke helps fund two golfers?
Administration costs have risen dramatically. Since 1980, the number of administrators on college campuses has doubled, almost matching the number of faculty. How much value can there be in a senior specialist of assessment, director for learning communities, assistant dean of students for substance education or director of knowledge access services? Colleges claim folks like these are necessary, but they add to the cost of education.
And let us not forget faculty salaries. While pay in most sectors of the U.S. economy rose about 5 percent since 1980, full-time faculty members at Yale now average $129,400 (up 64 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars from 1980). At Stanford, faculty salaries are up 83 percent, with tenure-track professors now pulling down $153,900 per year.
We must pay these high salaries, we are told, to attract the top talent. But a close examination shows these folks are not in the classroom as much, having negotiated frequent leave packages and smaller teaching loads.
And the pay for presidents is double what it was in 1991. The authors say there is no evidence that the pay of the president has any influence on the quality of education. Most of their duties are now public relations and fund raising. At Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, it requires the tuition of 31 students to pay the $1.2 million a year salary of the president.
This book is compelling reading and a compelling topic for a future NC SPIN. You can learn more about the book and read the authors’ blog.
Dalton for Guv?
Lt. Governor Walter Dalton is quietly making telephone calls to major Democratic donors across the state weighing a potential campaign primary challenge against embattled Governor Beverly Perdue. We hear some of the talks are fruitful, with major donors backing away from Perdue, who has historically low voter approval ratings. We understand that Dalton is telling his team he will wait to see where things end up in November, but will begin moving shortly after the first of the year if he plans to move forward with plans to take on a sitting Governor.
To groin, jetty or just sandbag
How long have we been having the conversation about what to do about erosion on waterfront property in our state? Property owners have long wanted permanent groins or jetties, but regulators and environmentalists have just as strongly opposed the action, saying there is not hard proof that they really work and plenty of evidence these structures might impact a property owner downstream. We allowed sandbags, but only on a temporary basis. The Coast Resources Commission has been nothing if not confusing about their policy on beach erosion and the legislature, at least the Senate, seems to be yielding to wealthy property owners who are lobbying hard for groins. We’ll talk about this issue this week on NC SPIN.
One of the reasons we enjoy politics so much is that interesting people do interesting things. Take the new cable ad by candidate Renee Ellmers, trying to unseat 2nd District Congressman Bob Etheridge. The first ad of her campaign speaks of Muslims erecting victory mosques following victories in great battles. That’s exactly what the proposed mosque near ground zero in New York is to be, the ad says. And where is Congressman Bob Etheridge in this debate over whether or not to put a mosque at ground zero?
At first blush this is a laughable. The whole concept is pretty bizarre. Are there really such things as victory mosques? What do mosques in New York have to do with the 2nd Congressional District of North Carolina? And what influence could Bob Etheridge have on this issue? More importantly, how does this help us believe that Renee Ellmers could be better in Congress than Etheridge?
She has plenty of ammunition she could use against Bob, stuff that might even resonate and differentiate her candidacy from his. Take his votes on health care, the federal relief funding and other instances where he sided with President Obama. These are issues voters in the 2nd might care about. But victory mosques?
We have seen stranger things, however. Like the long-remembered visual of the aircraft carrier going through the canal and John East’s harangue about how Senator Robert Morgan (also from Harnett County) singlehandedly gave away the Panama Canal. It worked. Who knows, maybe this will also.
One thing is sure. Ellmers got publicity for her campaign (good or bad) and that is something that she hasn’t been very successful in doing.
You can hear a complete summary of the Congressional races in this year’s elections on this week’s NC SPIN. Be sure to tune in.
Goodwin goes to Washington
NC Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin got plenty of attention yesterday, including some personal praise from the prez. Goodwin was in Washington for a meeting of Insurance Commissioners. The Obama team is looking for some good news to highlight and picked up on our state’s negotiation with Blue Cross, subsequent refunds of $155 million to customers and lower than anticipated rate increases for the year. President Obama seized on this story to indicate how his health reforms are already working and on several instances praised Goodwin by name. Read the biz buzz blog.
Nonprofits under fire
The Great Recession has impacted our non-profit organizations severely, as donors are holding onto dollars. The NC Center for Nonprofits has been a valuable tool to help these organizations through the years, but Jack Betts, columnist for the Charlotte Observer, reports that they have just released a helpful piece of 9 challenges facing nonprofits. Betts lists them in his “This Old State” blog. Worth reading.
Drunks off the roads
Drivers under the influence kill people, cause wrecks and all citizens pay for their actions through law enforcement officers, court costs, even jail costs. Too often a slap on the wrist and a small fine are their punishment. North Carolina just hasn’t decided to get drunks off the roads.
Nationwide, more than 140,000 people charged with driving under the influence have been forced to wear ankle bracelets that monitor their sweat every half-hour to determine if they have been drinking. North Carolina doesn’t think that’s an effective tool, according to a state panel. The NC Administrative Office of the Courts has opposed using the bracelets for repeat offenders because they are too pricey for some offenders and don’t prevent anyone from driving drunk.
Too pricey? Those who wear them are required to pay $12 per day. Let’s get this right. They can afford to buy alcohol but can’t pay for a bracelet? They can increase costs to taxpayers by their actions but $12 a day out of their pockets is too much? And on, it cannot prevent them from driving drunk but we will know if they are still drinking and require treatment for them.
Here’s the question to AOC. If you don’t like the bracelets, what is your solution to getting drunks off our highways, cause what we’ve been doing isn’t working.
Pardon our rant but we are fed up with repeat offenders killing our residents and costing taxpayers money. You can be sure we’re gonna talk about this on NC SPIN.
First time jobless claims signal bad news
Just as economists have been trying to convince us the recession is over, the Labor Department has released statistics that prove otherwise. New unemployment claims rose to 465,000 last week. While still below the 600,000 weekly claims in June 2009 the figure surprised many who had thought the nation’s economic picture was getting better. One reason for the weekly increase was the number of census workers who were laid off because of completion of the census.
Swindell Campaign Draws Critical Fire for Buck Newton Attack Mailer
State Senator A.B. Swindell’s campaign is under the media microscope for sending out a campaign direct mail flyer alleging that his Republican opponent Buck Newton had been arrested on drug charges 20 years ago when he was at ASU in Boone. But the opposition research folks working for Swindell’s camp never caught the fact that the charges were dropped and the District Attorney had written a letter stating this fact, a letter that the Newton camp is parading around to media outlets in the Wilson/Nash District as well as with the Capitol Press Corp.
This is a big mistake for Swindell in a campaign where he can’t afford any mistakes. Recent public polls have shown Swindell in a neck-to-neck race with Newton. Now, Swindell is on the defensive and that’s the last place he wants to be going into the final weeks of the campaign. No word on who sent the mailer out, the disclaimer said the flyer was paid by the NC Democratic Party and authorized by Senator Swindell.
We don’t want to be Atlanta
The Atlanta Metro area, like North Carolina, has seen a rapid increase in population growth. Like our state, they have also experienced hot, dry summers. Leaders in the region turned their heads to the growing water crisis for too many years, resulting in 6 major lawsuits, angry relations between counties and cities, severe water restrictions and stymied economic growth.
The warning signals were ignored. Will North Carolina ignore the same signals? It is time we had some frank discussions about water in this state before our problems reach the crisis levels experienced in Atlanta and other areas of our country.
NC SPIN’s day-long conference, NC H20, features a group of North Carolina’s best experts on water issues, talking about the issues and proposing some viable solutions to them. This conference is open to the public, however seats are filling rapidly.
If you want to hear the problems and explore the solutions, you need to register now. Registration is $60 and group discounts are available.
Read more in this week’s My Spin, “Water: Our Most Important Issue.”
Claire Cox-Woodlief, Editor
Tom Campbell, Publisher
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