June 13, 2008
A sign of greatness?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:48 PM
It's no surprise that UNC President Erskine Bowles would heap praise upon retiring UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser today, during Moeser's last appearance at a UNC Board of Governors.
What surprises me are the factors Bowles cited as examples of Moeser's record of greatness:
"He took a very good university and, in his quiet but firm manner,
demanded we make it great," Bowles said, pointing to Moeser's successes
in leading a $2.4 million fundraising campaign, shepherding a massive
construction boom, and defending the university’s decision to select a
book about the Islamic holy book as the summer reading selection soon
after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
I didn't hear the speech, but these seem odd choices to represent the top accomplishments of a university chancellor. The fact that the university has grown larger, taken in more money, and defended left-leaning freshman orientation material seems to have little to do with greatness.
These choices might not surprise the Pope Center's Jane Shaw, who wrote of Bowles' UNC Tomorrow Commission:
If it were carried out, this agenda would create a larger and more
costly university system. That might provide some benefits, but whether
UNC would better achieve its core mission of educating the citizens of
North Carolina is not so clear. Whether the citizens of North Carolina
would be willing to pay for all these services is uncertain, too.
Senate budget next week
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:30 PM
North Carolina state government has 17 days left in its current budget year, and the state Senate is expected to take another step toward a revised 2008-2009 budget when it unveils its plan next week.
It will be interesting to see whether any of the Joe Coletti's ideas are incorporated.
Did he see the latest poll?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:36 PM
When the most recent poll shows an incumbent U.S. senator leading a challenger by 14 points, you'd expect the only talk about a "competitive" race to come from the challenger and her party.
But the head of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has assigned the "C" word ("competitive," people) to the North Carolina race between GOP incumbent Elizabeth Dole and Democratic challenger Kay Hagan.
Here's what John Hood had to say about the matchup last fall, before Hagan joined the race and won a decisive primary victory:
I think that for many reasons, including geography and financial connections, Hagan is in the best position among potential Democratic nominees to challenge Dole. But she also has the most to lose by falling short – someone else would take her Senate seat, probably not just temporarily, and Hagan’s legislative clout and political profile will both grow in tandem in the coming years.
Re: When air quality ... (plus some Friday frivolity)
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:08 PM
As I jogged through the neighborhood yesterday, I recalled the lyrics of a great '70s tune:
Your eyes have the mist from a smoke of a distant fire.
I also thought of Joel Schwartz's most recent report, which refutes the purported health benefits of mandating new restrictions on TVA power plant emissions.
Anxious teacher loses Supreme Court case
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:59 AM
The N.C. Supreme Court has ruled against a former Onslow County teacher who contended that teaching contributed to a "generalized anxiety disorder" that qualified her for worker's compensation.
I don't want to make light of a legitimate medical condition, but I suspect that people in the education field might be especially susceptible to generalized anxiety, considering the inherent silliness of educational jargon and goofball programs.
Judge lobbies for $700 million in raises
Posted by David N. Bass at 10:53 AM
This from The New York Sun:
Setting the stage for a showdown among the three branches of government, a state judge has ordered Governor Paterson and the Legislature to start paying him and his 1,180 fellow state jurists more money.
If each judge on the state bench received the $600,000 sought by the four plaintiffs, the state's taxpayers would be on the hook for more than $700 million. The order by Judge Edward Lehner of state Supreme Court in Manhattan appears to instruct the Senate and Assembly to pass a law upping judges' pay within 90 days, which could prove an impossibly fast time frame for slow-moving Albany.
The decision also raises constitutional questions about the authority of judges to perform the legislative job of setting salaries and deciding how best to spend tax dollars.
Later in the story:
Judges on the state's main trial court make $136,700 a year, plus benefits.
Even though salaries for New York state judges are close to the national average, the judges say that the cost of living in New York is higher, and they argue that federal judges and corporate lawyers are paid more.
New York's chief judge, Judith Kaye, filed a suit on behalf of the entire judiciary in April seeking a pay raise order of the type Judge Lehner issued yesterday. But yesterday's decision came in an earlier lawsuit filed jointly by four judges seeking more than $600,000 each. That money, the say, represents the cost-of-living increases that they haven't received over the years , plus interest.
My response: Why not grant the raises? The judiciary often does the job of the legislative branch, anyway. Don't they deserve some extra cash and perks for all that sweaty legislating from the bench?
"The laborer is worthy of his wages." -- 1 Timothy 5:18 (NKJV)
When air quality is actually bad
Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:28 AMThere was a significant, noticeable difference in air quality yesterday than there was in days given poor air quality ratings last year, and the reason for that was that the air pollution yesterday — the drifting smoke from the eastern wildfires — was entirely regionwide as opposed to a high reading registered at one discrete monitor in a collection of counties being used to classify the entire region as out of attainment.
Yesterday was initially rated Code Orange, but as the day progressed and the smoke thickened, Division of Air Quality officials raised it to Code Red. As the accompanying photos (from The News & Observer's article) show, the smoke pollution was palpable:
That obvious palpability was a marked difference from previous days given the worrisome ratings:
The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates air quality according to how much ozone, formed by the combination of certain pollutants, sunlight, and heat, is measured by various monitors. Days rated as Code Orange or worse are considered potentially unhealthy for people with respiratory problems.
Even the days that triggered an ozone warning barely registered. On June 30 a single monitor in Fuquay-Varina climbed only to the .085 parts-per-million threshold set by the EPA. On April 19 a single monitor in Butner was triggered, and the following day it did so again, along with a monitor in western Johnston County.
The EPA says that if a single ozone monitor on a given day exceeds the .085 limit, then the entire region in which it sits is considered out of attainment. The Raleigh region encompasses 16 counties, from Person County to Northampton County on the Virginia border, down to Lee, Wilson, and Johnston counties.
Small schools not improving student achievement
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:16 AM
From an article in The Oregonian:
Armed with $25 million from billionaire Bill Gates and other education reformers, backers of small schools heralded the academies as the best way to curb high dropout rates, forge connections to keep teenagers on track and prepare every graduate for college. But it did not work out that way.
Instead, their statistics look a lot like results from the lumbering, impersonal high schools they are supposed to replace. Lots of students quit, and most of the graduates aren't ready for the rigors of college. North Carolina's Redesigned High Schools program, which also received millions in Gates money, is very similar to Oregon's small schools initiative. Governor Easley touted Redesigned High Schools (and the Learn and Earn program) as a way to raise North Carolina's low graduation rate, but we have yet to see empirical evidence that high school redesign has had any positive effect on the graduation rate.
Latest dispatches from the political trail
Posted by John Hood at 07:59 AM
• A new Rasmussen poll shows John McCain and Barack Obama neck-and-neck in North Carolina at 45 percent and 43 percent, respectively. Amazingly, the same survey put Elizabeth Dole 14 points above Kay Hagan (53-39) while Beverly Perdue and Pat McCrory are essentially tied (47-46).
• McCrory and Perdue have clearly distinguishable positions on the death penalty, says an anti-execution group. Perdue supports a moratorium while McCrory was one of the few local elected officials to actively oppose the moratorium push.
• Sen. John Ensign, who chairs the GOP's Senate campaign effort, analyzes the competitive races for Congressional Quarterly and argues that Dole is such a strong candidate that “she should be toward the bottom, just off the list or barely on it.”
Cutting edge research confirms obvious fact
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:44 AM
Study: Women in Bikinis Make Men More Impulsive
I have to hand it researchers for employing an unconventional research methodology.
In the study, detailed in the Journal of Consumer Research, men alternately fondled t-shirts and bras (which were not being worn during the test). Anyway, researchers concluded,
After touching the bras, men valued the future less and the present more, said lead researcher Bram Van Den Bergh of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. Viewing ads with women in bikinis had the same effect. Perhaps Kanab, Utah officials should not revise their ban on bikinis at the city pool.
...No matter, Van Den Bergh warned, "being exposed to a sexy girl may influence what stock you invest in or what candy bar you buy."
This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:07 AMOutside consultants can offer local governments good advice about proposed projects, but Chad Adams says the use of outside consultants can also cause problems. He explains in the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.
University of Illinois professor Andrew Morriss will highlight the problems tied to “regulation by litigation,” while Alabama climatologist John Christy will explain how North Carolina’s pursuit of global warming policies could end up hurting the state.
Joe Coletti will share information about the profile of the “uninsured,” and we’ll hear Rep. Nelson Dollar’s take on a proposed one-year moratorium on forced annexation.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:01 AM
This week's Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features Cato Institute chairman William Niskanen's thoughts on entitlement reform.
Clint Atkins' guest Daily Journal discusses the frenzy over water restrictions.
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