June 15, 2010
Tired of June Atkinson's press conferences regarding the state budget?
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 7:59 PM
Do not blame June. Events like this one are in her job description. According to the North Carolina General Statutes, the Superintendent of Public Instruction serves as chief propagandist for the state's public school system.
§ 115C‑21 (2) To keep the public informed as to the problems and needs of the public schools by constant contact with all school administrators and teachers, by personal appearance at public gatherings, and by information furnished to the press of the State.
§ 115C‑21 (4) To have printed and distributed such educational bulletins as are necessary for the professional improvement of teachers and for the cultivation of public sentiment for public education, and to have printed all forms necessary and proper for the administration of the Department of Public Instruction.
Pension system generous to former superintendents
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 7:42 PM
Annual pension figures are courtesy of the News & Observer state pension database.
Ann Denlinger $158,246.52
Carl Harris $150,166.68
Bill Harrison $149,925.36
Bill McNeal $160,414.92
All four of the above pursued post-retirement endeavors. For example, Bill Harrison is chair of the State Board of Education and is conducting a campaign to destroy charter schools.
GOP's national big shots fund Johnson, shun D'Annunzio
Posted by David N. Bass at 3:27 PM
North Carolina congressional candidate Harold Johnson is getting a fundraising boost from House Republican leaders ahead of his runoff primary election next week against Tim D'Annunzio, a self-funding candidate whom national and state GOP leaders have strongly opposed because of past allegations of criminal behavior and drug abuse.
House Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor are headlining a Capitol Hill fundraiser for Johnson on Thursday, with attendees asked to offer donations of $1,000, $500 or $200, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.
State ABC system debate continues
Posted by Becki Gray at 3:20 PM
This afternoon, the State Government and State Personnel Committee continued the debate on House
Bill 1717, the House version of the ABC system "modernization" bill.
The Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) amended version of the original
bill contains 29 sections of regulations. There are all kinds of ethical regulations, strict
budgeting guidelines, transparency standards, performance standards
with audits, rules for starting new stores, and wine distribution
protections. Representative Ray Warren, bill sponsor, presented the bill.
There was the following response from committee members:
Representative Laura Wiley questioned if there is any regulation of gifts. The answer was yes, the bill gives guidelines and disclosure rules.
Representative Justin Burr offered an amendment to change the 2-page title back to shorter one in the original bill (which restricts amendments on the floor). The amendment passed by a
unanimous voice vote.
These were the comments from the public:
John Williams, chair of the ABC Commission, stated that the bill is lengthy and a product of long
discussion of specific problems that have surfaced over the last couple
of years. There was been discontent between local ABC Boards, local boards, and
local government and it is necessary to connect them all again.
Jon Carr, ABC Boards lobbyist agreed with Williams and said, "meals and
salaries were not widespread across the state". He liked that the bill is balanced.
Reverend Mark Creech, Christian Action League, spoke again of new ABC
stores determined by population threshold. He believes the thresholds
are too low, but doesn't want the system privatized.
Rep Larry Womble wanted to know what the new bill does that is different
from the original. The response was that it provided greater oversight, more regulation, accountability
to the public, more transparency and requires reports and audits. Also, the bill generates $700 M every
Womble also wanted to know why there was a need for the PCS? The response was that it comes from study recommendations and then changes negotiated between ABC Boards, League
of Municipalities, and Association of County Commissioners. Representative Warren says not everybody is happy but they are all willing to go along with it.
There were also additional questions about elections for mixed beverage permits and additional stores in smaller communities. Representative Wiley asks about 500 voter thresholds to issue mixed beverage
licenses. Representative Warren says they ran into opposition and had to lower the
threshold in order to get the bill through.
The new PCS bill, as amended, passed by unanimous voice vote. Next, the bill goes to the House floor for debate and vote. In the meantime, the Senate bill is also still moving.
PPP poll: Johnson neck and neck with Kissell
Posted by David N. Bass at 2:50 PM
A new poll gives us insight into why GOP power brokers in North Carolina are so dead set against nominating Tim D'Annunzio in the 8th Congressional District.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling firm found that Harold Johnson is neck and neck with Democratic incumbent Larry Kissell, while Kissell maintains a commanding lead over D'Annunzio.
Larry Kissell could have a tough fight for reelection this fall but only if Harold Johnson wins next week's Republican runoff to be his general election opponent. Kissell leads Johnson just 41-35 in a hypothetical contest, while his advantage expands to 48-26 in a match up against Tim D'Annunzio.
The various controversies that have cropped up around D'Annunzio over the last six weeks have been devastating for his poll numbers. 39% of voters say their opinion of him has become more negative over the last month while just 10% say they now hold more positive feelings about him. Overall 38% have an unfavorable opinion of him now compared to just 19% with a favorable one. And only 25% think he's fit to hold public office while 41% think he is not.
Kissell's seen a steep decline in his approval numbers since PPP last polled the district in January. Then he was at a positive 45/30 spread, now he's at a negative 30/39 spread. The decline has come across partisan lines but has been most dramatic with Democrats.
Senate Committee looks at bill to "modernize" ABC system
Posted by Becki Gray at 1:30 PM
Recommendations resulting from a legislative study commission have led to the creation of Senate Bill 1112. In an effort to "modernize" the ABC system, 14 pages of new rules and regulations aim at ensuring ethical practices at liquor stores.
This morning, study committee chair Don Davis and staff presented SB 1112 to the Senate Judiciary II Committee. Committee members asked the following questions about the bill:
The subsequent remarks from the public showed mostly approval, yet revealed concerns about portions of the bill. For example:
- Are pension benefits addressed? No, they are not included in the bill.
- Will this bill change the amount of money going to local government and appointing authority? Yes, salaries will be adjusted and controlled, including private sector salaries.
- SB 1112 changes how ABC elections start new stores in small communities. The study committee determined that it would be based on voting population. Senator Jacumin proposed that the elections be based on foresight of profitability, a more sensible approach.
- Senator East questioned who is responsible for keeping records of loss and profits. Currently, local ABC boards have that responsibility. Appointing authority will get reports, amend budgets, hold public hearings, and the ABC would audit.
- Will there be a salary cap? Yes, it will be capped at no more than local clerk of court's salary, with no minimum.
- Senator Jacumin questioned why anyone would go into business with no idea if they will fail or succeed. He then requested a list of all stores.
- Will ABC stores pay property tax? ABC stores, just like any other government entity, would pay no property tax.
- Will the State own its liquor? No, the State owns no liquor. They maintain the warehouse and provide bonded storage areas for the distilleries to store until the local boards buy the liquor.
- Senator Davis spoke in support of the bill, citing an editorial in the Greensboro News and Record on June 11 that calls for a tune up rather than an overhaul. He said that the bill is about putting more sunshine in the ABC system. However, it seems more about protecting the revenue stream to local governments than anything else.
Reverend Mark Creech with the Christian Action League spoke in opposition to the section that allows for new liquor stores based on population thresholds.
- In defense, Jon Kerr of the ABC boards said that he's worked with League of Municipalities and County Commission Association through the process.
- The League of Municipalities representative said that the process has been “terrific.” They didn’t receive everything requested but overall, they support the bill.
- The City of Wilmington representative claimed to be interested in the process, with the main concern being public safety.
- Kevin Leonard with County Commission Association was in support the bill.
- John Williams, chair of ABC Commission, says Governor Perdue has weighed in on accountability and transparency. This bill creates oversight between state board and local boards.
- Steve Metcalf of American Wine distillers and Dean Plunkett of Wine Wholesalers stated their reservations about Section 23 of the bill, concerning wine distribution. In order to ensure North Carolina distributors do not lose rights to international products as wineries are sold or merged, they want the wine distribution loophole to be fixed.
There was no vote on the bill today. Instead, discussion will continue next week in Senate Judiciary Committee II. There is a similar bill moving through the House, as well.
Many problems with the ABC system could be avoided if the sale of liquor was privatized in North Carolina.
"Who Are You" to rival "Don't Taze Me, Bro"?
Posted by Rick Henderson at 11:31 AM
Gotta love them entrepreneurs. Bob Etheridge already has inspired new lines of t-shirts.
Etheridge interview precautions
Posted by Jon Ham at 10:38 AM
We at Carolina Journal and CJTV are concerned about employee safety. To that end, we have instructed our reporters to take proper precautions when anticipating an interview with 2nd District Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge. Below, CJTV's Anthony Greco demonstrates:
A surprising wrinkle in the legal challenge to Obamacare
Posted by George Leef at 10:11 AM
The argument is that it conflicts with the "right to privacy" as announced in none other than Roe v. Wade. Read about it here.
The left will have to say, "The Constitution protects the right to privacy, but only privacy we happen to approve of."
New N.C. Court of Appeals opinions released
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:47 AM
Among the new opinions released this morning from the N.C. Court of Appeals:
- A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed orders challenged in a dispute involving Mecklenburg County and Jerry Reese, who's challenging plans for a new Charlotte Knights baseball stadium. The appellate ruling is a win for the county and its plans for "consolidating jointly-held properties and constructing a minor-league baseball stadium, an urban park, a new Education Headquarters, and other mixed-use developments that are intended to spur economic revitalization of the area."
- A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed the state's final decision in a certificate of need dispute over who should be able to purchase a new "linear accelerator" for service in Wake, Harnett, and Franklin counties. Cary Urology, Wake Radiology Oncology Services, and Rex Hospital all had challenged the state's decision in the case.
- A unanimous three-judge panel reversed a lower court ruling in a payment dispute between two NASCAR Camping World Truck series team owners.
- A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed a lower court ruling in a dispute involving a doctor who claims her complaints about patient safety led to her firing from Haywood Regional Medical Center. The court ruling blocks the hospital from shielding certain information from the lawsuit discovery process.
- Judges split 2-1 in the case of a Dorothea Dix hospital employee who was denied long-term disability benefits because the state said he had failed to work long enough to qualify for the benefits. The majority affirms a trial court ruling against the worker.
- A unanimous three-judge panel affirmed a state Industrial Commission ruling against the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in a dispute over the building of two homes on Person County property that's unsuitable for septic systems.
Democrats too liberal? Barone analyzes the latest poll data
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:59 AM
Michael Barone utilizes his number-crunching expertise for a brief new Washington Examiner analysis:
From the Gallup organization comes the news that 49% of Americans believe that the Democrats are “too liberal.” This is only slightly below the all-time high of 50%, recorded in 1994, when Democrats suffered their worst defeat in congressional elections since 1946. In addition, that 49% is significantly larger than the 43% who believe that the Republicans are “too conservative.” As Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones puts it, “Currently, by 49% to 40%, more Americans perceive the Democratic Party as too liberal than say the Republican Party is too conservative, giving the Republicans an advantage in an important election year.”
Among self-identified Democrats the percentage identifying their party as too liberal has not changed significantly since 2008, but the percentage identifying Democrats as too conservative has risen slightly, from 6% to 14%. That suggests that a certain number of left-leaning Democrats may not be motivated to vote in 2010. Among self-identified Independents the percentage identifying Democrats as too liberal has increased from 40% in 2008 to 52% in 2010. That’s in line with the many findings that Independents are much less favorable to Democrats and closer to Republicans’ positions than they were in 2008.
Full of wind
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:54 AM
Byron York's latest Washington Examiner article explains that President Obama's interest in wind power might explain his decision to ignore risks associated with drilling.
The Minerals Management Service, which is charged with regulating offshore oil drilling, was a deeply troubled agency when Barack Obama inherited it from George W. Bush. Top MMS officials had been caught drinking, doing drugs and even having sex with oil-industry contacts. More prosaically, they accepted gifts from industry representatives and did favors for them.
The cleanup had already begun in the last months of the Bush administration, but President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar still had their work cut out for them. Not only did they have to enforce ethics rules, they had to ensure responsible management of the offshore oil platforms that are a key part of the MMS portfolio, a huge contributor to the national economy, and a continuing environmental risk.
The problem was, Obama and Salazar were more interested in pursuing their vision of a clean energy future. Under Obama, the Minerals Management Service, driven by a strongly ideological commitment to green energy sources such as wind and solar power, chose to stress "renewables" while de-emphasizing the tough and dirty work of managing the nation's existing offshore oil wells.
Latest dispatches from the campaign trail
Posted by David N. Bass at 07:45 AM
- N.C. judicial candidates, including those vying for the state Supreme Court, are taking public funds.
- The Washington Times reports on the third-party challenge to U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, D-8th.
- The Fayetteville Observer: Voters want leaders, not political gladiators.
- In the 8th Congressional District, Tim D’Annunzio is outspending his opponent, Harold Johnson, drawing from his personal wealth to do so.
- Another ad rips Sen. Richard Burr on oil.
- Dems’ U.S. Senate runoff: big stakes, small target.
- Bob Etheridge roundup: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is "proud" of Etheridge's apology; text of Etheridge's apology; video of Etheridge's press conference.
New Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:43 AM
The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Anthony Greco's CarolinaJournal.tv report on the video evidence of a bizarre confrontation involving U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-2nd District.
John Hood's Daily Journal explains that Etheridge's outburts makes him the symbol of an "out-of-touch, out-of-control Congress."
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