Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 and 2008...

Wow, well I'm down to my last minutes of work here in 2007. Yes, it's New Year's Eve and I'm in the office sniffling after a full weekend of a nasty cold, opening presents with the in-laws, seeing a Tar Heels game, and lacking sleep! Ahhhh...the holidays! They are a blast but sometimes we really take those quiet nights for granted don't we?

Anywho, it has me thinking back and looking forward. This year was slated to be a pretty quietyear. Well, on the last day of the year I covered Rep. Thomas Wright's court appearance as former House Speaker Jim Black sits in prison.

It was quite a year for your reporter. I spent my first full year in my new house, got married in the Outer Banks, and really pushed myself to get more connected with people associated to my political beat here at News 14 Carolina.

I think in a year we've really changed how we cover politics at News 14 Carolina. I sincerely believe we are the tv station that best covers it in the entire state. Don't get me wrong, we cannot compete with the multiple reporters of newspapers staffs but we do the best with what we have covering the legislature and state government which is me!

I have to thank my bosses for that. They allow me to dictate what I cover and how we cover it a large part of the time (with guidance of course). But we have grown to gain the respect of candidates and public officials, to be taken seriously and understand that every story and show I produce airs in the 3 largest television markets in North Carolina.

More importantly, we take on the stories on a daily basis that other tv stations often won't cover. We have a long long long ways to go but I think 2007 was a great step forward.

That step leads us to 2008. What will be the big story in North Carolina? Will we see upsets in the primary races for Goveror or Senate? Will Republicans mount a challenge to Democrat control in the General Assembly? Will state leaders push through changes in the way we build and pay for roads and public transportation?

As far as our job as political reporters goes, this is the most important time for us. There is so much out there in the form of tv, radio, newspaper, web, blogs, etc. that we have to make sure we are helping and informing viewers instead of shaping opinions. We must focus more than ever with all the noise out there to make sure we are tackling the issues that are most important to citizens and voters.

This next year is vital to the future of North Carolina and the leaders you elect will play a massive role in shaping that future. It is my hope (and News 14 Carolina) to play a big role in helping you make your decisions by providing the information for both sides and letting you decide. It sounds cliche to say that but are all news organizations really committed to that? It doesn't hurt to sit back and check ourselves as we look back at a year plagued by public corruption and look ahead to a year where voters will have a hand in leadership.

It is my hope through my stories, my show Political Connections, and this blog to keep you informed and hopefully from time to time enlightened! This blog will be an outlet to get you more information I couldn't on tv or to give a behind the scenes perspective to the chaos known as election year.

Thank you for your trust in me and News 14 Carolina. We will do everything we can to be the best we can for you as a viewer and if we can do anything better please let us know!

With that...goodbye 2007 and hello 2008.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

If that tiger mauling in California has caught your attention perhaps my story from today might interest you as well...

PITTSBORO -- The tiger mauling in California happened in a zoo but North Carolina doesn't even have a law preventing private ownership of tigers.

Some sanctuaries and zoos time say it's time to make it law. Pam Fulk helps care for nearly a dozen tigers at Carnivore Preservation Trust. She hopes the California mauling helps zoos and sanctuaries become even safer.

"It always reminds us to look at things and say is there any way to make it safer, so for example one of the things we've been talking about for months is putting an inverted fence along the top of the tiger enclosure so it hangs inward," Fulk said.

Some counties have ordinances preventing private ownership of tigers but there is no state law.

Two years ago two tigers grabbed headlines when they were found wandering along a highway in Gaston County evidentaly left behind by private owners who couldn't handle the large cats.

A study committee initiated by the General Assembly has recommended banning someone from owning a long list of animals including tigers, elephants, and monkeys.

Opponents of the bill swamped the committee meeting to voice their concerns it might shut down some private zoos.

"You're dealing with people and their animals which they care about very much and your dealing with their business which they have worked hard for," Wendy Wilson from Lazy Five Ranch said in July at the meeting.

But supporters of the proposed law say it's about banning tigers in backyards and making sure facilities are legitimately keeping these animals.

"CPT has long felt that these animals should not be in possession of private individual owners for a variety of reasons but chief among them is that they are dangerous animals," Fulk added. "Few people have the resources or knowledge to contain them safely from their neighbors."

Fulk says no matter how personable and cute these tigers are behind their cages, they are wild and dangerous and do not belong in neighborhoods.

The state House and Senate have their own versions of the bill that define and ban dangerous animals. Both are stuck in committees but could be taken up when the legislature gets back to work in May.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Well, in an hour I'm on vacation until next Wednesday. I'm actually headed home to my home state of Minnesota. I'm from the Twin Cities and it's the first time I'll be spending Christmas back home in several years and my first Christmas with the wife so that's pretty exciting (minus the headache I'm expecting at the airports!).

Just a couple notes before I head home to pack (which will take me five minutes and my wife 2 hours).

Political Connections this weekend should be pretty interesting. We're tackling the illegal immigration and community college admission debate. William Gheen from ALIPAC joins us as well as Graig Meyer. Meyer runs a program in Chapel Hill schools that helps minorities, including illegal immigrants, get into college.

Next week we're focusing on the 2007 year in review and 2008 year ahead.

What's interesing is looking back at last year's show, it wasn't super clear what the issues of 2007 would be necessarily. I think the upcoming year is clear. Water issues, transportation, and I guess there's some kind of election next year?

I can't wait and I hope you can't either! Thank you so much for supporting state government reporting and I hope I can provide some great information and insight in the year ahead as well.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gangs, gangs, gangs...

So, I spent my morning down at the General Assembly attending the House Select Committee on Street Gangs.

It was their first meeting. The House has already passed a bill related to street gang prevention but they chose to study it in the "offseason" anyway because the Senate has sat on the bill.

Anyway, in 1999 the Governor's Crime Commission reported roughly 5000 gang members in NC. By 2004, that number jumped to 8500.

Today, researchers from the Governor's Crime Commission told me that number will easily surpass 10,000, That's shocking on the face of it, but that it may not be in the end.

The researchers believe many police departments and community members did not want to admit there was a gang problem in their community. So, the numbers may reflect a growing trend toward admitting there's a problem. Still, the numbers are likely going to shock many people.

The committee wants the Commission's updated numbers by March.

In the meantime, North Carolina law does not define or make gangs illegal yet. That's what the House proposal aims to fix. It defines a street gang and targets the ring leaders and other crimes that would be defined as gang related.

There are some opponents because some feel it targets young teenagers and minorities.

It will be interesting to see if anything gets done in the short session!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Monday!

It appears the GA is wasting no time on its investigation of Rep. Wright. I found this on the front page of the General Assembly website a little bit ago. I haven't had a chance to call on it but it's right there.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
10:00 AM House Select Committee on Street Gang Prevention 544 LOB
4:00 PM House Select Com. To Investigate Alleged Misconduct and Other Matters Included in Indictments Against Rep. Thomas Wright 544 LOB

The Gang group should be interesting as well but somehow I think that won't get as much attention!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What a beautiful September morning huh? Wait, what? It's December? Wow, this warmth is crazy huh?

I'm headed down to the Governor's crib (Mansion) to do a little year end interview. I'm hoping he has some good stuff to say.

We will post the entire interview once I get it put together (it's a 2 camera shoot that has to be edited as one). I plan to do a couple stories on it today and tomorrow and then we'll use the interview as a bulk of Political Connections this weekend.

I'll try to get it all posted here later tonight!

Update: Watch the full interview with Governor Mike Easley

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hackney's presser...

I'm back from a long weekend in Pittsburgh filled with a few inches of snow, a ton of great food, and a sad group of Steeler fans!

Anywho, I'm "off the street" until Thursday for medical reasons (no big deal), but thanks to technology I'm sitting at my desk listening to the audio from the General Assembly Press room waiting for House Speaker Joe Hackney to discuss the indictment of Rep. Thomas Wright.

He's now talking so here's the highlights...

-House will move ahead to resolve the matter. He spent the day talking to various parties (Gov's office, Senate, Wake County DA, etc.) about the topic.

-Joint Ethics Committee had taken up issue but stopped at the request of DA to investigate himself first.

-The subject of indictments are very serious matters and require the House to act on those allegations.

-No reason for House to further delay any more investigation or action on Mr. Wright.

-What's next? Joint Ethics Committee to promptly wrap up their work and he anticipates there will be a special session to consider the recommendations of the committee.

-He does not want this to linger into May when the General Assembly reconvenes.

-He wants the process open and would go a long way to making the public feel better about the situation.

-Hackney says there are measures set forth to allow the House to remove Wright from office.

-He has not talked to Wright and he stands by his past comments (he asked him to resign)

-The House will not and does not need to wait for the court process to wrap up before taking action.

-The House would only vote in the special session. The Senate may need to show up for procedure reasons but they would not vote.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

TGIF..sort of..

I'm headed out of town for a long weekend and early Christmas with some of the in-laws! Headed up to Pittsburgh. I'll be there Sunday when the Steelers play the Patriots so my Sunday evening could be really fun or depressing! My wife is a major major Steelers fan (which is great because we watch football together every Sunday!).

Anywho, make sure to check out Political Connections this weekend. We take a look at charter schools this week and whether or not there should be more or less and what impact they have on North Carolina after 10 years. It airs on News 14 Carolina at 6pm Friday and Sunday at 11am.

We're working on a pretty exciting interview for Political Connections as well over the next week.

I'm also beginning a plan to cover the South Carolina Primaries in January.

Should be fun! Have a great weekend and I'll be back at it on Tuesday!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hello everyone! As you can see we are making a few changes to the blog. First, the look. It looks more like the show and the graphics scheme we use here at News 14 Carolina for the blog.

But even more exciting (try to keep calm, I know!) is that we are just about ready to get our video section done. If you scroll down to the entry below this you can see a picture with a play button on it. You can simply click on that and a video player pops up with the story.

In the future, I will use this to hopefully add stories but even more important extra video that you won't see on tv.

This is important next year because I hope to give behind the scene tours on the campaign trail, full length interviews, blog exclusives, etc.

I believe we'll be one of the few blogs to have original video content in the state.

With that said I am not a tech guy! I can learn fast and will do my best but it I will be hanging out with our web folks who do know what their doing to teach me!

The video portion will become more prominent in time, but just wanted to give an update!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Undecideds rule!

As much as we report on the state elections and would like to believe it's a hot topic, a poll today really tells otherwise.

The PPP poll shows Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue with a 41-32% lead and Kay Hagan with a 22-13% lead over Jim Neal in the U.S. Senate race. For Lt. Gov., that race is a 12-10-8-6% deadheat.

What those numbers show much more than a leader is the massive amount of people who either just don't care or are really confused about who they support.

In the Gov. race there is 27% undecided. In the U.S. Senate race there is a whopping 58% undecided, but the biggest news to me was the Lt. Gov. race. There are four candidates yet 65% of those polled were undecided.

Um...I would seriously wonder whether they are undecided or just don't care. Don't get mad at me for that comment. I care about those races and try to learn as much as possible about the candidates but I think it is clear at this point from those poll results that our state races are not important to average voters right now.

I'm not saying this is unusual with the primary still several months away. I'm just saying enjoy the holidays a little because it appears everyone else is without any worry of who their next leader will be in North Carolina!

Monday, December 03, 2007

So, Rob Christenson's column this Sunday got the best of my curiosity. It was about a civics test given to college students and they didn't do so great. In fact, even some of the "top" schools got D's at best on this test.

Rob's story on the web had a link to the actual quiz and I took it. Now, I consider myself about average when it comes to history and still a pretty young buck so I didn't know how I would fare. In full disclosure, I ended up in the high 70's. Rob was in the high 80's and my friend Laura Leslie from WUNC was in the 80's as well.

I have to admit some of the questions were easy and others I found extremely difficult. It got me thinking though.

From kindergarten through college, my classes focused on the civil and revolutionary war. We went in-depth beyond belief. However, we barely covered anything past 1900 and it was done in about a week.

After college and a few years in the "real world", I began wanting to learn again instead of having to learn. So, I began to try and devour as much info beginning with FDR to get caught up. This year's Christmas list is full of history and political books specifically on NC, so I'm excited about that as well.

My point is we never really learned enough about things that have had a major impact on my life. Granted the beginning of this country is vital to me being here in this capacity, but it got me thinking about why I didn't know many of the questions asked on the civics test.

It also got me wondering did others have the same experience in school that I did?

If you're interested, here's the link to the quiz.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Electronic voting not to be common anytime soon...

Gary Bartlett said today that he doesn't expect touch screen voting to go statewide for at least another decade.

Roughly 20 counties use the paperless technology now but that means 80 counties do not. Recent controversies and cost have kept counties from making the change, according to Bartlett.

On another note check out Political Connections tonight at 6 and Sunday morning at 11.

We take a look at the future of counties and pitching in to pay for roads.

Have a great weekend everyone! I plan to update the blog much more next week when I get back into my typical daily routine!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm still "off the street" working on a story so here's some reading material sent by the Bev Perdue campaign about her plan to clean up the state budget process...

Raleigh, NC – Bev Perdue today added her BRAC Budget Reform proposal as the next installment of the Building a New North Carolina series. Modeled after the federal BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process, this initiative will significantly reform the budget process in North Carolina.

As Governor, Bev will create an independent and bipartisan body to present up to ten government efficiency proposals each budget biennium. Unlike previous budget reform proposals that have not included a method to enact the recommendations, the BRAC budget initiative will require the General Assembly cast a Yes or No vote on each proposal.

No amendments would be permitted, thereby limiting the influence of special interests. Bev’s goal will be to identify a minimum $250 million per legislative session.

“This will change the way decisions are made in Raleigh,” said Perdue. “It will have a major impact on the budget, eliminating unnecessary spending and enabling us to focus on what’s important and what works.”

Added Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, “Fiscal responsibility has long been a tradition in North Carolina, and ideas like this will ensure that this tradition continues.”

The first $170 million in savings will be dedicated to eliminating the highway trust fund transfer, while future savings will enable the budget to be better focused on areas of need such as school construction and making health care more affordable to North Carolina’s families.

The proposal is the second part in Bev’s Building a New North Carolina series; details can be downloaded here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm "off the street" working on anothe story but I just got this in my email box and thought it was an interesting press release from the Duke News office.

Oprah and Obama and coverage of it all has been a debate within industry insiders. It's also a huge debate in my household whether or not Oprah will have much of an impact on the race. Here's the release for your reading..

DURHAM, N.C. -- Because of her crossover appeal with white females, Oprah Winfrey’s support for Barack Obama has the potential to affect the outcome of the Jan. 3 Iowa caucus and other primaries, says a Duke University political science professor who studies racial minority group politics.

“Her audience base is far more white female than black female and her campaigning for Obama will at least make some white women, who might not have been inclined to vote for a black candidate, look closer at Obama,” says Paula D. McClain, a professor of political science, public policy and African and African American studies. “She may be the opening that allows them to think about a candidate in a way they had not before.” A

ccording to Obama’s camp, Winfrey will join him during campaign stops in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. McClain says women are crucial for all three Democratic frontrunners in Iowa -– Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, the candidates are closely bunched six weeks before the Iowa vote.

“Oprah does not have to move a lot of women, just enough to pull the margin of victory away from Clinton,” McClain says. “For those who are wavering, Oprah could make the difference.”

McClain also notes that this is the first time that Winfrey has endorsed a candidate. “

While her political power is untested, one should not underestimate her potential effect,” McClain says. “It actually may put the other candidates on notice. The dynamic has shifted. If Clinton does not take the Iowa caucus, then it’s really a competitive race going into the other primaries.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hope you all made it through turkey weekend and had a great time with family and friends!

Oh how fun to be back at work right? No time wasted getting back at the General Assembly today. The 21st Century Blue Ribbon Transportation group met again Monday afternoon.

They heard from metro and county folks as well as the Turnpike Authority.

My story today focuses on possibility of counties paying for roads. Last session lawmakers gave counties the authority to help fund roads. It gives counties the possibility of getting roads done quicker. Before 1931 counties in this state built roads but after the depression era the state took over when counties and cities couldn't afford it. Cities have done it again in recent years but this is the first time since the 30's that counties can take part.

Some believe this is a step toward forcing counties to help pay for roads. Keep in mind the state is supposedly $65 billion short in the next 25 years to keep up with growth and maintaining roads.

Check out to see more from state lawmakers and county folks.

More tomorrow but I'm having to catch up on emails myself and the turkey still has me tired!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Funding for school buses...

So, I covered the U.S. Transportation Secretaries announcement Monday in Morrisville. She basically proposed to require seat belts on the short buses and offered up money for the first time to put seat belts on big buses.

Two problems. The federal funding is not new and would have to be diverted from other safety programs (i.e. booze it or loose it and click it or ticket). The other problem is convicing people that spending the money is necessary. Statistics show school buses are already the safest way for children to get to and from school.

Seat belts add $10,000 to the sticker price for each new bus.

Lawmakers would essentially have to approve the idea here in North Carolina. The rules proposed on the federal level still need the go ahead from transportation panels in DC.

Either way it's an interesting debate. The announcement was made here in NC because 14 buses are being studied safety with belts already.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I had a chance to sit down with Howard Putnam at the Hugh Shelton Leadership Forum today. Putnam is a former CEO of Southwest Airlines and was a VP at United Airlines for more than 20 years.

He expects more consolidation among the large airlines and says (no surprise) that prices will continue to rise.

I asked a number of questions about U.S. Airways because of the huge hub in Charlotte. He said that the airline needs to do much more to integrate America West because two years after the merger he thinks they are still operating more like two separate airlines. He says management needs to refocus on employees and service.

What was interesting was he admitted he never said the customer was number one. He said employees are number one and if treat them with respect and family then customer service will take care of itself because you have happy employees.

It sounds like a simple theory but how often is that not followed when you think about it.

Putnam also believes regional carriers will have a major role and success in the future to help provide reasonable rates.

Ironically, his flight on U.S. Airways from Reno (his home) to Raleigh was cancelled and he could only get a flight on Southwest!

Have a great weekend! I'm visiting with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Monday who's in town to talk school bus safety, but I obviously have a few other questions for her too!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Giuliani's NC campaign chair doesn't think his social beliefs will hurt his candidacy in the South. So far, that seems to be true.

An Elon University poll released this morning has Giuliani leading in five Southern states (NC, FL, VA, SC, GA) by six percent over Fred Thompson. Hillary Clinton has a huge lead on the other side with 42-percent. Obama and Edwards are both in the teens.

Jim Culbertson, who runs Giuliani's campaign here in NC out of his Winston-Salem home told me today he thinks Southerners care about leadership and that's what is driving the race.

Some consider Rudy's beliefs on abortion and gun rights more left than right, but Culbertson believes Rudy's leadership will override any differences in beliefs.

He also believes voters think Giuliani has the best chance to counter Clinton and could pick up some Dem voters because of it.

Watch my story at for more.

I'm off to emcee the NCTA awards tonight so more tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More charter schools? Supporters of the alternative public schools scored a pretty huge victory Monday. A State Board of Education blue ribbon committee on charter schools voted to increase the number of schools by roughly six per year.

It's really the first state appointed group to approve the idea. Currently state law caps the number of schools to 100.

Charter schools are run like non-profit and can essentially set their own curriculum. They get per pupil funding but get no lottery or construction cash. Students do take end of grade tests. The first one opened up in 1997 and this committee is sort of a ten year later where are we now type of thing.

The cap idea must still pass the State Board of Education and the General Assembly. That's likely impossible. Democrats have ignored several bills to raise or get rid of the cap.

The blue ribbon committee also voted to basically give schools that fall into low performing and low growth categories two years to shape up or they will lose their charters.

Charter school supporters argue that's not fair because traditional public schools with similar problems remain open.

Should be interesting to follow but a pretty good day for supporters of charter schools.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A joint legislative committee (study group) on the high school dropout rate began meeting today and I spent most of my morning attending the meeting.

Essentially the state's graduation rate is less than 70-percent and the dropout rate is over 5-percent and the state is looking for ways to fix the problem. This meeting comes after a dozen public hearings across the state.

While the problem is now, the chair of the committee essentially said solutions will take time.

"So we don't want to be rushed into maybe next session because we're going to have to look at programs that are just starting that just getting off the ground," Rep. Earline Parmon (D-Forsyth) said.

I take that to mean they don't expect to recommend any major legislation next May for the short session which means little if nothing will be done on the dropout issue next year (at least from a legislative perspective). I'm told to expect continued growth of Learn and Earn schools and other initiatives already in the pipeline.

Rep. Parmon added that after the 12 hearings (actually 11 because the last one is this Thursday) she's seen a pattern that it's a community issue. Basically, each community has its own problem feeding the dropout issue and that means there will need to be different solutions to fit the different problems.

The committee will meet several times over the next several months.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I've been filling in on the anchor desk today, so I don't have a lot to report. Well, I have a lot to report as in I anchored a ton of stories today, but as in government/political whatnot it's been a quiet day for me.

However, I want to take the opportunity to remind everyone that we are airing the Democratic debate between Perdue and Moore from this past Tuesday. We will air the entire debate Sunday morning at 11am.

If you don't have cable you can begin viewing it on our website at starting Sunday at 11am as well.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I spent the morning at DOT's employee meeting. Secretary Lyndo Tippett stood up with his fellow big wigs in front of an audience of about 300 and took questions.

This comes after that report which included a survey of 9000 DOT employees that slammed the department. It's all part of a multi million dollar project to transform DOT. According to the report and employees there are clearly inefficiencies, a lack of direction and priorities, and there needs to be change.

This is on top of the fact another blue ribbon committee is looking at ways to help the department spend and build more efficiently and find money to pay for an enormous price tag to build and fix roads in the next 25 years.

This morning was an effort for the department to beef up communication and be more transparent. It was a Q and A session.

At first, as you might expect, the employees were apprehensive to speak up and ask questions. But eventually people did and they raised many of the same concerns that were in the survey.

It ranged from complaints about an outdated email system and computer operating systems to a lack of priorities on projects. As you might imagine, salaries also came up.

As I sat there and listened to all of this one thought came to mind. If your company handed out an anonymous survey are you so sure you wouldn't have the same responses? And keep in mind this is a government agency with 14,000 employees.

I'm not judging either side and I'm sure there are plenty of areas in that department in particular that need help.

It just got me thinking that point. What would you say about your workplace and what might change if your company had meetings like this to listen?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

So it's the day in day after elections and debate. I'll have more on those later. In the meantime, the 21st Century transportation committee will meet for the first time this afternoon, right now in fact. In light of that, the top two GOP's at the legislature released the following proposals.

From Sen. Berger and Rep. Stam
"It is time to end this neglect. Here’s a proposal for the 21st Century Transportation Committee:

1. Propose issuance of at least $2.0 billion in road bonds, the bonds to be paid with money retained in the Highway Trust Fund by discontinuing the $172 million annual transfer from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund; the money from the bonds to be dedicated to congestion relief and bridge safety;

2. Propose modification of the equity formula to take congestion and road miles traveled into account; doing so will target additional dollars to critically needed roads and bridges. In addition require projects to be prioritized and constructed on a statewide basis accounting for congestion and safety;

3. The Governor has demonstrated that savings can be realized in the General Fund Budget of 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent and even more. Set a 1.5 percent target for savings in the recently passed General Fund budget. Savings at that level would actually only reduce the rate of the increase in spending from 9.5 percent to 8.0 percent - which is still double the rate of population and inflation growth combined (4 percent) and will free up $300+ million to be appropriated to transportation priorities immediately. The savings could actually be recurring and provide ongoing funds for bonds or other transportation needs;

4. Propose that a substantial portion of the more than $200 million being carried forward in the General Fund Budget be used to provide money to address gap funding needs in urban areas;

5. Implement the recommendations from the McKinsey study and provide regular public progress reports with opportunities for questions and suggestions from the public and press.

All of the above can be accomplished without any tax or fee increases. This will not instantly solve the mess we have in transportation, but it will start us on the process and will provide a needed immediate shot in the arm for our crumbling transportation infrastructure. With this start we can begin to rebuild our road system and help protect and grow our state's economy. The recently released McKinsey report confirms inefficiencies within our transportation system and demonstrates the dire need North Carolina has for serious change. If these steps are taken immediately, this will be a strong signal that the Committee is engaged in serious work. "

Monday, November 05, 2007

An interesting release from the Richard Moore campaign for Gov. this morning. It's especially interesting considering his opponent Bev. Perdue is hoping to become the first female governor ever in this state. Here's the release..

Women legislators endorse Moore for governor

Raleigh – Current and former women legislators today endorsed Richard Moore for governor, citing his record of advocating for North Carolina’s families.

“Our communities, families, and women need and deserve Richard Moore as their next governor,” the group wrote. “The steady leadership and fresh approach that he offers to fix North Carolina’s problems are exactly what we need.”

State Senator Ellie Kinnaird and state Representatives Marie Watters Colton, Ruth Cook, Pricey Harrison, Bertha “B.” Merrill Holt, and Maggie Jeffus sent a letter to Democratic activists announcing their support of Moore.

“I am honored that such an outstanding group of women leaders support my candidacy,” said Richard Moore. “Women across the state recognize that my experience as a federal prosecutor, legislator, and the head of two state agencies makes me uniquely qualified to lead North Carolina as governor.”

In addition, the Moore campaign announced that women donors have contributed over $1.3 million to Moore’s campaign for governor thus far.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Transportation committee to meet...

I meant to put this in my earlier post. Reps for Brad Wilson say the blue ribbon 21 century transportation committee appointed by the Gov., Speaker Hackney, and Sen. President Pro Tem Marc Basnight will meet next Wednesday 11/7 for the first time at 1pm.

Should be interesting but most expect the real work to get started after the first of the year with the holidays and everything.

I've got Mr. Wilson scheduled to come in for an in-depth interview that day for Political Connections as well.
So, I spent most of the day covering Nancy Pelosi's visit to Meredith College in Raleigh. She's the highest ranking woman in U.S. history and Meredith is an all female college so that was an interesting perspective by itself.

Secretary of State here in NC Elaine Marshall was there as well. Check out the story on for details on her appearance. I'll write more about the behind the scenes event here later.

Interestingly enough, I was bombarded by emails from a group called NC Peace Action. They are anti war folks. They were ticked because Pelosi was taking questions from the audience but it was all pre picked and pre screened. The group wanted to question her why she can't get troops out of Iraq. I also got an email that NC State college Republicans were going to protest as well.

In the end we saw one man and he didn't cause much of a fuss.

More on the event hopefully a little later.

One last plug---Judge Manning on Political Connections tonight at 6 and Sunday at 11am and on our website in an hour and ondemand Ch. 1234 starting Tuesday.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It's quite a couple days politically for North Carolina. Democrat and presidential hopeful Barack Obama is in Durham raising money and shaking hands at NC Central.

Tomorrow, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelossi will be in Raleigh at Meredith College. She's now the highest ranking female in U.S. history.

It should be interesting to cover that story for sure!

While I'm at it, another plug for Political Connections tomorrow night at 6 and Sunday morning at 11. Our guest this week for the entire show is Judge Howard Manning.

We have a preview story running on News 14 Carolina and

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gov. Easley says Sen. Kay Hagan is one of the best U.S. Senate candidates in the entire country. He made the comment after a drought briefing in Raleigh.

He says she's been a champion of education, law enforcement, and the economy.

When asked about the other announced Democrat Jim Neal, Gov. Easley said he knows nothing about him.

Sen. Hagan announced Tuesday that she's changed her mind and will run.

Both Neal and Hagan say they are running against Elizabeth Dole.

At some point they will have to start campaigning against each other one would think?
Hagan's in! Here's the release from her campaign..

"I want this campaign to be about giving North Carolina a voice."
Citing the need to change the country and demand accountability in Washington, North Carolina State Senator Kay Hagan today announced her candidacy for the United States Senate. Hagan, who is currently serving her fifth term in the North Carolina Senate, officially launched her bid against Elizabeth Dole through a video on her new campaign website.
"To make a difference in North Carolina, we need change in Washington," Hagan said. "We need a Senator to make our voice heard. We need a Senator who will stand up, lead and make a difference. That's what I've done, and it's what I'm going to keep doing in Washington."
Hagan said the issues that are most important to voters are what will set her apart.
"We need accountability to end the war in Iraq so we can re-invest those resources here at home. How can Washington reject health care for 123,000 North Carolina children, while continuing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on this mismanaged war?" Hagan said. "Making those kinds of decisions is hard, but I know it can be done - because those are the kinds of fights I've led in the State Senate."
Throughout her career as a state legislator, Kay has proven to her colleagues and constituents that she is a tireless advocate for the people of North Carolina. Distinguished as one of the "Top Ten Effective Senators" in the state, Kay has been commended for being a diligent and successful voice for her constituency.
"Kay Hagan is one of the strongest and most effective leaders in North Carolina," former Governor Jim Hunt said. "She has been a champion of improving education and creating jobs for our entire state. She has exactly the kind of good ideas, energy and drive North Carolina needs in Washington."
"I'm proud of doing things the right way here - it's something Washington could use a lot more of," Hagan said. "I want this campaign to be about giving North Carolina a voice."
Hagan, a lifelong North Carolinian, has raised three children in Greensboro, a community she has represented for nine years in the state Senate. She will launch her campaign with a tour of the state in the coming weeks. To view Hagan's announcement video, visit

Monday, October 29, 2007

Transportation committee named..

Hot off the press..well okay..right from my email box. Here's the release sent from Speaker Hackney's office.

"Raleigh – Governor Mike Easley, Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight and House Speaker Joe Hackney today announced the members of a blue-ribbon committee to examine the condition and needs of North Carolina’s transportation system and make recommendations to the General Assembly.
The 21st Century Transportation Committee is a cross-section of 24 elected officials, transportation and engineering experts, business leaders and citizens who will make a preliminary report to the General Assembly by May 1, 2008, and a final report by the end of next year.
"I appreciate the willingness of these North Carolinians to serve on this important committee,” said Easley. “Their combined knowledge, talent and commitment to North Carolina will ensure that the transportation system is examined thoroughly and that thoughtful, creative solutions to the challenges our growing state faces are found"
Senator Basnight said: “North Carolina’s strong economy has resulted in rapid growth that has strained our transportation system. It is my hope that this committee will thoroughly examine our needs both in rural and urban areas and propose innovative solutions. An objective study with input from many points of view is the best way to build a consensus and address our needs so that our great state continues to prosper.”
Speaker Hackney said: "There is no doubt this state has transportation needs, but before we can approach those needs in a comprehensive way we need to better understand what they are. A careful, independent analysis will allow us to make sure we are moving ahead efficiently and spending taxpayer money in the best way possible. This committee will provide that important independent voice and help this state prepare its infrastructure for the years ahead."

The 21st Century Transportation Committee will study:
Ways to improve the transportation systems of the State in order to promote economic growth and ensure that the State can compete and participate in the global economy.
Innovative methods to fund the transportation needs of the State, including an examination of traditional and nontraditional methods of financing transportation infrastructure.
Priorities of the Department of Transportation, including methods to ensure adequate funding for corridors and projects of statewide significance.
Methods to use new and innovative technology to improve the transportation system.
Options for local transportation funding.
Ways to adequately fund road construction to address urban congestion and to improve mobility.
Methods to spend transportation funds in the most effective and cost efficient manner, including ways to use recycled materials, and reuse and recycle road materials.
Ways to ensure the continued safety of the current transportation system, including an analysis of the safety and reliability of bridges in the State.
The appropriate division of responsibility for transportation infrastructure between State and local government and any federal role in providing transportation infrastructure needs.
The role of ports, airports, mass transit, rail, and pedestrian and cycling access in providing the transportation needs of the State.
Public transportation needs in urban areas.
Methods to encourage fuel conservation and energy conservation in North Carolina.

The following individuals were appointed to the Committee:

Appointees Recommended by the Governor:
Chair: Mr. Brad Wilson, Chief Operating Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC and member (past Chair) of UNC Board of Governors, Chair, Wake County
The Honorable Terry Bellamy, Mayor of Asheville, Buncombe County The Honorable Sam Hunt, former NC Transportation Secretary, Alamance County The Honorable Allen Joines, Mayor of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County Mr. Gregory Plemmons, Vice President of Old Dominion Global, Guilford County Mr. Charles F. Bowman, Principal Compliance Executive for Bank of America, Mecklenburg County The Honorable Chuck McGrady, County Commissioner, Henderson County Mr. D. Jordan "Jordy" Whichard, III, Publisher of Cox NC Publications and Chair of NC Economic Development Board, Pitt County

President Pro Tempore Appointments
Senator David Hoyle, Gaston County Senator Clark Jenkins, Edgecombe County Senator Richard Stevens, Wake County Dr. Joseph Monroe, Dean of the College of Engineering, NC A&T State University, Guilford County Mr. Lanny Wilson, North Carolina Board of Transportation Member, New Hanover County Mr. Billy Sewell, President of Platinum Corral, Onslow County Mr. Stephen Zelnak, Jr., CEO of Martin Marietta, Wake County The Honorable Richard Blackburn, County Commissioner, Ashe County

Speaker of the House Appointments
Representative Nelson Cole, Rockingham County Representative Becky Carney, Mecklenburg County Representative Lorene Coates, Rowan County Representative Phillip Frye, Mitchell County Representative William C. "Bill" McGee, Forsyth County Representative William L. Wainwright, Craven County The Honorable George W. Miller, Jr., former Representative, Durham County Ms. Nina Szlosberg, Owner of Napro Communications, North Carolina Board of Transportation Member, Wake County

Friday, October 26, 2007

Just got done taping an exciting show for next week's Political Connections.

Judge Howard Manning came in our studios this afternoon to tape an entire show for next Friday (11/2).

In case you don't know, Judge Manning is the judge at the center of the Leandro case that focuses on making sure every child in North Carolina gets a basic sound education.

The first part of the show focuses on educating everyone about the law and the lawsuit and Judge Manning's role. We then moved on to the issues in high schools and how close he was to shutting some of them down. And believe it or not, he praised a Charlotte high school! He was extremely harsh on those schools in the past. He also had some interesting responses when I asked him if he thought people were listening to him.

Manning was also very complimentary about the General Assembly and says they have stepped up to the plate when it comes to funding low wealth counties. For those of you who have followed this issue, that's a big reverse from a few years ago.

Anywho, the show will air next Friday at 6pm (11/2) and replay Sunday at 11am (11/4)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy Thursday! Anyone else wish they were laying on the couch or in bed watching movies all day? Wow, we need the rain bad but holy cow these days make me groggy.

Speaking of rain, on a day it actually did rain, Governor Easley made a plea to lawmakers (Congress) for relief for our farmers. He pointed out loans won't work because the crops are dead and farmers can't pay back those loans. It's all part of a federal discussion whether or not to leave cash in a fund for declared emergencies or disasters instead of offering low interest loans like they often do now.

I've been a little AWOL on this blog in the last couple days but I'm hoping it will pay off. I'm working on a couple really exciting projects and could tell you more on one as soon as tomorrow. I'm hoping to have a very interesting interview for Political Connections very soon.

Rumors are flying about other Democrats who are being pushed, want to, or are trying to run from running against Jim Neal and eventually Elizabeth Dole. Trying to hash them out and put something on here soon. Let you know as soon as I do!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I interviewed U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal today. The Democrat hopes to unseat Republican Elizabeth Dole next fall. At this point he does not have a primary opponent.

Anywho, we are posting the entire interview on our website at so check that out and I'll link to it here this afternoon as well.

UPDATE: here's the direct link to the interview

Monday, October 22, 2007

High speed rail...

I spent the day at a high speed rail summit in downtown Raleigh today. Experts from around the nation converged to talk about the future of that type of rail in the nation and here in North Carolina in particular.

An interesting note is rail moves around 80mph now and high speed is technically 90mph or higher.

Transportation leaders are pushing the issue to ease traffic and air congestion. For instance, from Raleigh to Charlotte a high speed trip would take 2 1/2 hours or less compared to more than 3 hours now. High speed would allow stops in the Triad and would create twice as many trips as there are now.

Keep in mind high speed concentrates on trips between cities and light rail is more of a city or community transportation option.

The problem with both is $$$$. High speed means money for new tracks that can handle high speed and the trains themselves.

We taped an entire show there for Political Connections so keep an eye out for that this weekend.

Bottom line, DOT leaders said today planning will take until 2010 and then once funding is secured it will take 3-5 years to build. That means best case scenario, 2013 for the first high speed rail in NC.

Friday, October 19, 2007

VIPER---sounds like a snake or perhaps an alarm protection system for your car?

Nope, it's the state's effort to get all emergency personnel on the same page when it comes to radios (walkie talkie not the type blasting Justin Timberlake!).

Three years ago the state began efforts to create the statewide system and three years later less than half the state has access. The numbers are even lower for local agencies who have bought the radios ($1500-$5000 a piece).

Today at the Emergency Response Commission meeting state leaders said they jus got $22.1 million in funding that will push the range from roughly 45% of the state to 60%. Local governments are getting more grants as well to buy radios.

The 60% will come by 2010 or earlier.

It's a big help, but the state still needs at least 5 years to get the full system up and running and needs millions more.

Essentially if you think of it this way, local agencies can't talk to other local agencies easily on traditional radios. That causes problems when multiple agencies respond to the same incident or disaster.

Sec. Bryan Beatty used this example for me. Imagine a National Guard helicopter spotting someone on a roof stranded but they couldn't use the radio to call people on the ground.

This issue came to the forefront after 9/11 and again after Katrina.

Beatty claims NC is the only state to offer VIPER to all state and local agencies for free.

Before I'm off for the weekend, make sure to check out Political Connections tonight at 6 or online or ondemand (CH. 1234) when we take on new elections laws. Wake Co. Elections guru Cherie Poucher and Democracy NC's Bob Hall join us.

Sunday in place of our regular program from 11-12 we'll air highlights from this weekend's GOP gubernatorial debate in High Point.

Have a good one!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I'm baaaack...

Sorry for no posts in days, but I've been on a short vacation to the Pennsylvania mountains. Ahhh refreshing mountain air and wow can you see a million stars at night!

Anywho, back to work.

I went to a blue ribbon charter school committee meeting this morning. State Board of Ed Chair Howard Lee essentially set up the committee to study charters ten years after the state began the alternative public school.

The group will present final recommendations next month, but surprisingly (to some) the group appears to be ready to recommend raising the cap. Currently state law allows only 100 charter schools.

State leaders have been very reluctant to discuss the idea and lawmakers have essentially ignored proposals to raise the cap.

It would mark the first time a state committee of any kind recommended raising the cap. Opponents of the idea worry there are too many low performing charters that need to be dealt with before the cap is raised.

The blue ribbon group will vote on final recommendations on Nov. 14.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More from Gerlach...

Here's a sampling of quotes from his talk at the NC Policy Watch transportation forum.

"The words $64 billion are not allowed in the administration to be spoken by any official of DOT because we're tired of hearing about it. Because what happens when you start talking about such an enormous number which would require us to double the gas tax which we're not proposing it but require you to increase it perhaps to 75 cents a gallon."

"I think what you'll see in the next two weeks is a commission of probably 20-30 people appointed by the governor and General Assembly."

"But what happened I think for probably the first time since 1989, there has never been another time where transportation has never been so high on the agenda."

"But it is to say that the attention has to focus on these major things (referring to interstates) that only the state can deal with and we're going to have to work with local governments to see how that balances out as we did with Medicaid."
Transportation commission coming soon...

Dan Gerlach, one of Gov. Easley's right hand men, said today he expects a transportation commission to be announced in the next two weeks.

You'll recall there was talk of a special session to find new ways to fund transportation but that never happened. Gov. Easley then said he and legislative leaders were working on a commission.

Gerlach made the comments at an NC Policy Watch forum this afternoon.

Gerlach also made some interesting comments about transportation in general. He talked about the need to fund maintenance as much if not more than building new roads. He also discussed the highway trust fund and said there are discussions about transferring less but finding a way to fund other projects that count on that money (i.e. education) remains a challenge.

There was also a tone of local governments getting more responsibility when it comes to funding roads. The question is does that mean counties will get stuck with more funding, particularly because the counties won the Medicaid funding debate recently?

More on this when I get a chance to listen to the tape a little closer..

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Breaking news...

It's deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


What's the new deep fried food you will find at the 2007 North Carolina State Fair.


Why in the world is political reporter Tim Boyum reporting this on election day?

Good question.

Okay, so News 14 Carolina is sort of a network in this state. We have stations in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte. I am designated as someone who's story needs to air in all three markets every single day.

That means I'm not really eligible to cover local elections. Soooo, that left me with covering the media preview for the state fair.

The worst part is I didn't taste it, but everyone said this new deep fried food is to die for. They are also making Oreo and Smores funnel cakes this year.

And the drought is affecting the fairgrounds as well. The ponds look like any other lake and vendors are being told to cut back on washing tents and exhibits and animal folks are asked to use nozzles on hoses to prevent constant running of the hose.

Pretty good gig today huh?

I am hearing the turnout is dismal. I'll be curious to see what it's like for the mayor race in Cary.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hagan's not running...

Here's the release..


NC Senator Kay R. Hagan announced today that she would not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2008. This announcement came after two months of meetings with local, regional, state, and federal policy makers at which Hagan explored the opportunities to represent the citizens of North Carolina that service in the U.S. Senate might provide.

"When all is said and done," Hagan reflected, "I genuinely believe that I can serve the citizens of Guilford County and all of North Carolina better and more effectively from my Senate seat in Raleigh than from Washington, D.C. While I was excited about the challenges of a statewide campaign and undaunted by the fund raising component of such a campaign, my impact as Co-Chair of the Appropriations Committee and the chance to speak out on major North Carolina issues is greater, right now, as a Senator in Raleigh."

Hagan was first elected to the NC Senate from District #27 in 1998 and is currently in her fifth term. She had been ranked as one of the "Top Ten Effective Senators" in North Carolina and is the recipient of many state and local awards including the Triad Citizen of the Year, NC Library Association's Honorary Membership Award, Luther Jeralds Advocacy Award – Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coalition of NC and others.

"This is good news for Guilford County and our region," said Tim Rice, Chair of the Greensboro Area Chamber of Commerce Operating Board. "The local impact of Kay's leadership in Raleigh is tangible not only in the millions of dollars she has helped our area secure but also her leadership on so many different issues. While we may have wanted her to serve on the national level, we value the fact that she is a key voice for us in Raleigh."

"The U.S. Senate's loss is the North Carolina Senate's gain," said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Basnight. "Kay is such a wonderful and effective advocate for her constituents and for all the people of our great state. We are so fortunate that she has decided to run for
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bob Orr held a newser this morning and released an economic plan. Here's the release from his campaign...

"Monday, October 8, Justice Robert F. Orr, Republican candidate for Governor, released his proposal to reform North Carolina’s economic development structure.

Justice Orr expressed his desire to bring openness, accountability and fairness to the system. What he described as “just principles of a democratic society and a sound foundation in public policy.”

“Our current system for economic development in North Carolina is fundamentally flawed,” said Justice Orr. “My proposal will restructure the way we do business in North Carolina. We must stop the practice of handing out incentives based on the influence of corporate lobbyists, eliminate state discretionary incentive awards and end the competition to attract businesses among our counties.”

Key points of the proposal include the elimination of discretionary incentives programs like the Governor's One North Carolina Fund and the Job Development Investment Grant in favor of a new initiative to provide additional support for workforce training.

Orr also addressed change at the local level through his advocating additional reforms requiring local governments to develop structured incentive policies, eliminate targeted incentives to business considering relocation within the state, and increasing local disclosure through the mandatory publication of economic development agreements and by instituting a 45 day hold on any incentive vote following a public hearing.

On a further note, Orr recommended the adoption of a unified development budget as a means to hold public officials accountable and provide policy makers with essential data regarding all statewide economic development activities.

Orr stated his intention to bring the focus of North Carolina’s economic development programs “back to their intended goals.”
“It is my intention to encourage job creation throughout North Carolina – while still preserving our constitutional and policy interests in providing a transparent government, a fair tax system, and accountability to our citizens for tax dollars expended.”

Friday, October 05, 2007

Neal for Senate...

I talked to Jim Neal for about 45 minutes today. The Democrat has filed to run for the U.S. Senate. He's a Chapel Hill investment banker with no experience running as a candidate.

BUT, he does have extensive experience raising money for John Kerry and Gen. Wesley Clark. He told me he knows them both personally so that could be interesting.

It's clear after talking with him that he's not just some guy with money getting into this race. He gets the political game and has a vast number of resources he's used before making the decision to run.

He knows politics, now the question is does he know policy? His platform is still in the works as well as specific policy beliefs and plans.

I'll write more but just wanted to give you a little bit to chew on since I talked with him today.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Easley on worsening drought...from his office this afternoon.

" Gov. Mike Easley today directed the state divisions of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance, Water Resources and Environmental Health to partner with the N.C. League of Municipalities to organize regional meetings in communities hardest hit by the drought to discuss water conservation and strategies for identifying supplemental water sources. The collaborative effort was announced as exceptional drought, the worst level in the four-category system, spread to more than half of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
“Many communities are suffering the effects of one of the worst droughts we have ever seen,” Easley said. “At least one community is already hauling water by truck from other sources and several other towns may need to seek supplemental water sources soon. With no end to this drought in sight, regional cooperation is needed to make sure all North Carolinians will have ample water for everyday needs such as drinking, public health and safety.”
Thursday’s federal drought map shows that exceptional drought has spread from the eight westernmost counties to 55 counties in the mountains and Piedmont and now stretches from the foothills and Charlotte to parts of the Triad, the Triangle and the Sandhills. North Carolina’s other 45 counties are experiencing the next three levels of drought – extreme, severe and moderate. An extreme lack of rainfall has left many stream flows faced with all-time record lows and reservoirs far below average for this time of year.
The governor has called on all North Carolina residents to conserve water and for operators of public water supplies to implement water use restrictions. Many communities are reporting significant declines in water usage, thanks to the governor’s directive. Currently, 83 public water systems have enacted mandatory water use restrictions and another 80 have enacted voluntary restrictions. That means that 4.76 million people, or about 70 percent of the state’s population in the systems tracked by the state, are under some form of water conservation."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ellis honored...I did an interesting story on Tom Ellis today. He was Jesse Helms' chief strategist and is widely regarded as the savior of Ronald Reagon's political career.

In 76', Reagon lost five straight primaries to President Gerald Ford. As he was about to pack up and head home for California and go back to acting perhaps, Ellis believed Reagan could win in North Carolina.

He asked the campaign to air a 30 minute speech of Reagan's on tv in North Carolina to lure in voters.

"Reagan's campaign that was run out of Washington did not want us to use it and Jesse Helms, I told him we couldn't get the film and he said I'll get you a film and he called Nancy Reagan and Nancy Reagan sent us that film and we ran it the last three weeks of that campaign," Ellis said.

Reagan won the North Carolina primary. He lost the overall primary election to Ford but it revived him and his supporters to help win the 1980 election.

As for today's conservative movement?

"I'm a little disappointed. I feel like we've lost the wind in our sail. We've tried to go over and get some of the Democratic issues. That never works," Ellis said.

Hillsdale College in Michigan is awarding Ellis tonight with the Freedom Leadership Award. He's getting the award right here in Raleigh.

Past recipients include Margaret Thatcher, Charlton Heston, and Clarence Thomas.
An interesting observation from the Council of State meeting yesterday. Perhaps nothing to it, but still interesting.

As you may know, the Council of State met to either take up or ignore an administrative judge's ruling that they retake a look at their approval of the DOC's protocol for executions.

Before the hearing, I could see Gov. Easley talking at length with Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.

After a brief discussion, Troxler spoke up and made the motion to essentially uphold the Council's original approval in February. The motion was seconded by Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry.

They are both Republicans. Perhaps there's nothing to it, but still interesting to notice since a large majority including the Governor and two candidates for Governor on the council are Democrats. Why wouldn't one of them give the motion or even second it?

Again perhaps nothing ot it but just an observation.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Long time no blog.. I have to apologize for those of you who actually check out the blog. First, yes I missed you too! Ha ha..

Anywho, it has been an absolutely insane week since I last blogged here. I was about to cover a story on small businesses and what the owners think of these corporate incentives last Friday when a plane crashed into McCalls BBQ in Clayton. I was the closest one to the door and spent the next six hours covering it!

Monday, I was busy taping a Cary mayoral debate that will air this Monday night. At the same time we were short reporters in our Fayetteville office so I spent the next two days in Moore and Cumberland Counties covering the Emily Haddock murder case. She's the 12-year-old who was murdered by the suspects who broke in and shot her while she was home sick.

Between the plane crash and the murder case it was like my old days of reporting when I covered whatever happened that day. The murder story was interesting because it was on a rural road in a rural county. A couple of the suspects live on the same street as the girl so it wasn't exactly easy getting interviews.

Makes me appreciate all these slick politicians and advocates that are available at a moments notice to do interviews!

However, I was told I might be covering pumpkins on Friday. The drought and Halloween you know. Guess you can't say I'm not versatile right!

Monday, however, I will be back in the government/political saddle as I hit the road to New Bern. That's where Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue is making it official that she's running for Gov.

In the meantime we have a really interesting Political Connections this weekend on the reliability of political polling. We have the chief pollster from Elon in as well as Justin Guillory from PPP. It airs at 6pm Friday and Sunday 11am. For those of you in the Triangle we are also airing a 30 minute Cary Mayoral forum right after the statewide Political Connections.

It's good to be back in the swing of things. Hope you haven't forgotten about me and forgive me!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Glazier running for.....the state House. There was talk of him running for Congress but Rep. Rick Glazier sent out an email late last night announcing he's running for re-election in the State House of Representatives.

And if you want to hear more from Rep. Glazier watch Political Connections tonight on News 14 Carolina. He and Rep. Paul Luebke join us for a very interesting talk about economic incentives in light of the recent Goodyear legislation.

It airs tonight at 6pm and again on Sunday at 11am.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Historic day for NC voters.... If you forgot to register for the October elections don't sweat it. You can register and vote for the election as long as you do it before the end of the day on Oct. 6th. Today marked the first time ever you can do that as a new law went into effect.

Cary voters are also making history by using an experimental instant runoff ballot. Essentially, you pick your first choice then pick a second and third as well. This prevents the need for a special and costly runoff election with few voters if a candidate doesn't get a majority. If it goes well expect to see this on all ballots in a few years. The state could use it on a statewide race as early as next May.

A new law changes the way we cover elections now too. The amendments prevent us from shooting video of people voting unless we have permission from the precinct official and every single person that could be in the shot. That means if we shoot a wide shot of 20 people voting they all have to agree.

We can no longer get those shots of the ballot going in the machine either. The new changes prevent us from shooting ANY video of a ballot once it has been completed.

It shouldn't make our lives too much more difficult but it does indeed change it quite a bit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Counties getting PR training. It was an interesting morning at the Quorom Center in downtown Raleigh. County commissioners from across the state met to learn how to run a good PR campaign.

Essentially, these county commissioners were learning how to beat the realtors.

Thanks to the General Assembly, counties now have the opportunity to raise a sales tax or land transfer tax on their own. The can put one or both on the ballot but can only use one tax at a time. They must also get voter approval.

Counties say they desperately need the money to pay for schools, water and sewer, and other needs to deal with the old problems and incoming ones with growth.

The Realtor's Association put up a huge and expensive campaign to fight the plan but lawmakers approved it anyway. The fight's not over though, as the realtors take the fight to the local level.

27 counties are asking for approval of one or both this November already. Six more are planning on it next May and the list continues to grow.

County Commissioners will tell you the training was more about convincing voters the need for the increase but make no mistake this training was as much about fighting the realtors.

I'm told by the communications chief for the association that this is a rather unusual event that's never been done before.

Definitely adds an interesting twist to the election season!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

OLF love...It appears the Navy and the State of North Carolina have made up. After months and months of battles over a proposed landing strip in eastern North Carolina, there appears to be a new beginning.

A Gov. Easley study group met with Navy officials today. There was a huge difference in tone from both sides. Environmentally, state and local leaders aren't budging on being against the Washington/Beaufort County site. The Navy wasn't budging either, but now it appears the Secretary of the Navy may reconsider other sites. He has a list and will make a decision by November 15th which ones he might consider.

Four of them are in the extreme northeastern part of the state in the middle of nowhere and two others are in the southeast part of the state.

However the southeast ones are likely out of the equation because the Rear Admiral present today said it should be closer to the Virginia Naval Base than North Carolina (Cherry Point) because it will be used much more.

The site would be an airstrip for F-18 Super Hornets to simulate night landings and takeoffs on aircraft carriers.

Cautious optimism for a happy ending was the theme from pretty much all sides.

Monday, September 17, 2007

June Atkinson says she wants a full term in office! She was elected in 2004 but if you remember she didn't take office until late the following year because the race was contested for so long.

The State Superintendent of Public Schools announced she's running again today. She's likely to face an interesting and potentially tough opponent-Eddie Davis from the NCAE-North Carolina Association of Educators. It could get particularly interesting if it becomes a public financing race too.

On another note, Judge Howard Manning spoke to a State Board of Education testing committee today. He told me he's having another hearing next Wednesday at 10am. He was blunt as usual in his speech.

A few new things though this time. It appears he's now been convinced the problem in high schools is in a big part because the kids are coming from middle schools with issues.

Does that mean middle schools are next to see him?

He was also pretty critical of teachers this time around. Typically he's been more critical of principals.

Head over to to see the full story. I'll link to it when it gets up on the web. In the meantime the interviews for this past week's Political Connections are on the right of this screen.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Elections offices are busy getting ready for upcoming elections. A new law allows registration and voting at the same time during early voting. North Carolina law requires voters to register 25 days before an election.

The new law still won't allow voters to register and vote on election day, but will allow anyone to register and vote during early voting.

I talked with Cherie Poucher from the Wake County Board of Elections today. She said to remind voters if you're going to take advantage of the new law to make sure you bring a driver's license with you because you need ID. You also need current proof of address if your license isn't up to day. That would mean you have to show a utility bill or something like that.

Wake County also has an experiment beginning Thursday with a new runoff process. In the past if a candidate did not get a majority of votes there would be a runoff election. That's expensive and very few voters show up for a runoff. The new instant runoff allows voters to pick a first, second, and third choice. This means there's no need for a second election and about a week later once the original election was certified we would know who won the runoff based upon those special instant runoff ballots.

If this works, expect the legislature to expand this pilot program.

Enjoy the rain this weekend and stay in to watch Political Connections! It airs tonight at 6:00 and Sunday at 11am. This week we talk about immigration with U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx and NC Rep. Ruth Samuelson.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I have to apologize for not posting in several days. Earlier in the week lawmakers were back. Then, I learned I'm hosting debates on News 14 Carolina for the Cary and Durham mayoral debates. As glamorous as my job may seem (ha ha) I don't have a secretary and had to call the candidates (and their staffs) myself and had to get both sides for both races to agree on a date and time and then make sure it jived with our production schedule. Needless to say it has consumed me these past few days in addition to my daily reporting duties and working on Political Connections.

More details on times for the debates but please email me questions you want me to ask for these 4 candidates. I always love viewer input.

Shoot me an email at
News 14 Carolina to host mayoral debates

RALEIGH – Senior Political Reporter Tim Boyum is moderating two debates on News 14 Carolina.

One debate is between the Cary mayoral candidates and the other between the Durham mayoral candidates.

Let your voice be heard – send Tim your questions for the candidates. Some of them may be used during the debate on News 14 Carolina.

Click here to send your question to Tim in an email. Make sure to include your name and hometown.

The Cary Mayoral Debate between incumbent Ernie McAlister and Harold Weinbrecht will air Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. and Sept. 30 at 11:30 a.m. The Durham Mayoral Debate between incumbent Bill Bell and Thomas Stith will air Oct. 12 at 6:30 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 11:30 a.m.

The debates will also be available on and Carolina on Demand, Digital Cable Channel 1234.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Goodyear compromise now law. I'm in a rush running on another story, but check out my story on News 14 for full coverage of the special session.

Late this afternoon the Governor signed it into law after hours of debate and passage at the General Assembly today.

Here's the comment from the Gov.
"This tool is a fantastic statement by the General Assembly that North Carolina is focused on the future and determined that our citizens will compete and win in the new world economy. This legislation will create cutting edge economic competitiveness in North Carolina, unlike any state in America. It requires huge investments -- each more than $200 million -- by companies that accept the challenge to build world-class facilities here that are the most technologically advanced on the globe. The bill ensures workers' job security, wages, benefits and advanced training as part of the incentives. It is performance based with clear criteria for earning any incentive.”

Monday, September 10, 2007

So lawmakers are back in town and I'm not there to say hello. Kinda weird that I'm not there as News 14 Carolina's political reporter huh?

Well, today former Durham novelist and now convicted killer Michael Peterson (jury found him guilty of beating her to death-he says she fell down the stairs) had his day in front of the NC Supreme Court.

Back in 2003, before I was moved into my role of politics, I was a general assignment reporter covering Durham and Chapel Hill. I covered the entire trial (3 months) and the circus that surrounded it. So, considering that it was decided that I should cover his appeal and another reporter would go to the General Assembly and cover that circus.

Speaking of that circus, the House is now on it's 357 recess. Negotiations are going on behind the scenes to try and avoid a vote on a veto. It must be going slow considering all the recesses.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Nifong behind bars...So, I was the reporter sent to get Mike Nifong heading into the Durham County Jail.

Let me tell you that was an experience. All of the sudden I see someone running and I get up and we sprint to the end of the block. As I look up, I see a huge group of people with two signs in front. The signs say "We believe in your integrity and goodness". They start coming toward us and I can't see Mr. Nifong. Suddenly, I do see him. 30 supporters or so were litereally surrounding him.

The supporters clearly were not happy to see us. I will admit we can be pushy and don't move fast when we try to get the shots, but it was a mob. A couple of the supporters kept telling me to get my microphone out of their face when it was no where near them. Then they kept putting their hands in front of our camera lenses and then one started trying to grab my microphone and knock it down. Another photographer could be heard "don't touch my camera" several times. Nifong and his supporters said nothing beyond that.

His supporters say "we love you" as he was sent in.

On another note-watch Political Connections tonight. LOL.

We take on the water supply issue. The head of Water Resources and the League of Municipalities join us for the show! 6:00pm tonight and 11am Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sinsheimer is at it again...the former Democratic strategist and now at times private political investigator hand delivered the following letter this morning.

September 5, 2006

Leslie Merritt
Office of the State Auditor
2 S. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27699-0601

Dear Auditor Merritt,

I am writing to ask you to reconsider your decision to serve on the local Board of Directors of the Four Oaks Bank in Zebulon as a paid Director (per your August 21, 2007 letter to the North Carolina State Ethics Commission).

In April of this year, your office announced that you were discontinuing your side business of providing financial advice to clients and that you were closing the business because it was proving to be a distraction “to the good work that this office is doing.” That was a good decision that is now being undercut by your efforts to seek outside employment again. The North Carolina constitution does not make provisions for a part-time state auditor. Quite simply, we don’t need a state auditor that moonlights, and your repeated attempts to garner outside income while in office have undercut your moral authority as the state taxpayers’ watchdog.

I also would caution you to avoid using your office for partisan attacks. Your criticism of the State Board of Elections earlier this year, as well as your 2007 audit of the governor’s corporate recruitment efforts, spoke more to a partisan agenda than efforts to improve state government. North Carolina taxpayers deserve a full-time, non-partisan Auditor.
The recent scandals in state government remind us that there is much work ahead to make our government more transparent, efficient and accountable. I believe that the Office of the State Auditor can play a vital role in that effort but only if is led by someone who is dedicated to the task and above reproach.


Joe Sinsheimer

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

So, the Goodyear incentive bill that Gov. Easley vetoed and Speaker Hackney is looking at a special session to override took an interesting twist today.

A group called Americans for Prosperity claims it garnered an email from Hackney's press aide. I'll put it below, but it's essentially plans for a media assault this week to drum up support for the Goodyear bill. This happens all the time, however we rarely get a glimpse of it and it's particularly rare to see it from somewhere like the Speaker's office. The good thing, from my perspective, is it makes me think about making sure to get both sides of the story. This is a prime example for many of you what goes on to get coverage and how to "spin" things. It's just interesting that's the best way I can put it. They're argument has a right to be heard and we will air it along with the anti-incentive opinions to create an objective story and let the viewer decide. But it's interesting to see the lengths and tactics people/organizations/groups will go to get what they want. This is not an opinion about anyone involved in this email exchange or the Goodyear bill. To me it's just a fascinating read to see how we can be "worked" for a story as much as we "work" others. Below is the Speaker's office email sent to me by American for Prosperity.

"From: Bill Holmes (Speaker Hackney's Office)
Sent: Sun 9/2/2007 12:05 AM
To: Carin Savel (Rep. Glazier); Rep. Rick Glazier; Rep. Margaret H. DicksonCc:;; Robin Johnson (SpeakerHackney's Office)Subject: RE: Request


Rep. Glazier said when we talked today that he and Rep. Dickson would courtsome other media folks in the Fayetteville area -- said a good editorialexpected tomorrow or Monday in the Fayetteville Observer and that inaddition to WTVD interview Monday he thought early they would try to reachother reporters from the area, maybe WRAL or whomever else has a bureauthere for other stories Monday or early in the week. He said he would askyou to touch base with some reporters to pitch the story since you know thatmarket so well. If you're tied up let me know, and I'll get to work on ittomorrow or will help you in whatever way you need.I let him know that I reached out to Jack Betts with the Charlotte O andElliott Potter with the Freedom Newspapers of eastern North Carolina and hesaid he was fine with that. I've also touched base with editorial writers Iknow in Burlington and Winston-Salem to pick their brains a little. I'll letyou know when I hear back from them.Below are some thoughts about this that I shared with the Speaker and someof my co-workers. He gave me the go ahead to work on this plan. I don'tthink there's anything magic in it, but I do think it's important that wetry to make this more about people and community, not policy.Please let me know what you think.I also mentioned to Rep. Glazier that the city and county leaders, economicdevelopers and some small business people should try to have a pressconference on Wednesday, preferably in Raleigh where we can more easilyreach reporters from the state's biggest papers, to talk about theimportance of Goodyear to that region. They need to share information aboutthe local economy, remind people about the Black & Decker closing, thechallenge because of expected BRAC growth and deployments and whatever elseis happening there that makes this need real and unique. Rep. Glazier likedthe idea and said today he'd call the local EDC to get that going. My wishis that it could happen Tuesday, but I don't know if that is realisticbecause of the holiday. We should try to bring in a good variety of peoplefrom the area, maybe even people from outside Cumberland who work at theplant or who are local suppliers to help support the idea of regionalimpact.I can follow up the press conference with a release with a widedistribution.I also have some thoughts below about what the company can do help. Theirstatement in the newspaper the other day sounded a bit petulant and a littlebit like they were trying to hold the state hostage. I think they need tosoften their tone and say they like Fayetteville, they don't want to leave,but they have the welfare of their company to consider. It would be great ifthey could maybe release an estimate of how much they've invested in theirplant over the years, how much they've paid in state taxes, what theestimated impact is of the salaries they pay, stuff that supports the ideaof them having an important presence in the area.What else do you think we should be doing?As for the facts and figures, I just need those by Tuesday when I get backto working the phones on this matter. Thank you for steering me to the rightfolks.> My thoughts on this are:>>_ We need to paint a fuller picture of the dire economic picture in> that region. Not just say that it's one of our 40 Tier 1 counties, but> explain what that means, to say that Goodyear pays twice the average> salary or whatever it is; that the economy of Cumberland County is> regressing (I believe it just slipped back into Tier 1 status); that> deployments have hit the area hard. I know we may be reluctant in this> case to appear as if we're hiding behind the flag, but I believe that> if we just explain the reality of the situation it will help the case.> We also need Goodyear workers to step up and explain the reality of> what they face. I think Mark Johnson (Mark has since said the story is a hardsell for his editors at this point. Rep. Glazier has talked to an N&O reporter.We may also want to talk to Barry Smith. His eastern newspapers may have aninterest because they're in military communities -- Jacksonville, New Bern,Kinston. I'll see if I can persuade Elliot to assign a story to him.) may biteon a story like that. He> asked a question yesterday that led me to believe he was heading inthat way. I think we can encourage local leaders and economic developers tohelp> with this.>>_ We need the company to say that they are considering other> locations, that this isn't just a ransom note. Not in a hostile way,> but just to make it clear that it's a real possibility. We also need> them to dispel the notion of cutting jobs. They haven't done this> effectively and it's part of the reason this job cut talk has> lingered. Rep. Glazier could help with this since he has been working> closely with the company and its lobbyist.>>_ We need to court the editorial writers in Fayetteville and the> surrounding area to stand up for their community. Rep. Dickson has at> least a friendly relationship with the editorial page editor and may> be able to approach him. I only know him through reputation. (You guys haveobviously handled Fayetteville already. What other other papers in the region weshould approach? Wilmington is already staked out against it.)>> I think we need to make it clear that this legislation was crafted to> help a community, not a company. We've tried but it hasn't soaked in> with the press."

Friday, August 31, 2007

Make sure to check out Political Connections this weekend. We talk about Homeland Security with Rep. David Price and Duke Prof. David Schanzer who also runs the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

It airs tonight at 6 and Sunday at 11am. You can check out past episodes on demand on Time Warner Cable channel 1234.

Have a great and safe holiday weekend!
Gov.'s office just sent a release that's an interesting factoid you may not know that existed about alternative energies and vehicles...the release is below.

"RALEIGH - Gov. Mike Easley today signed into law Senate Bill 1272, "An act to exempt biodiesel that is produced by an individual for personal use in a private passenger vehicle from the motor fuel excise tax." The new law exempts biodiesel produced by an individual, for use in their own private vehicle, from the motor fuel excise tax. State law defines biodiesel as "any fuel or mixture of fuels derived in whole or in part from agricultural products or animal fats or wastes from these products or fats."
"Individuals across the state and country are looking for ways to decrease their consumption of traditional fuels and one of the ways is through the use of biodiesel," said Easley. "This legislation encourages our citizens to use alternative fuels without unfairly taxing them."
North Carolina is one of several states to pass legislation exempting biodiesel fuel from the motor fuel excise tax for some users. Illinois, Texas and Rhode Island partially or fully exempted biodiesel from the motor fuels tax while Indiana passed legislation similar to North Carolina's, exempting individuals who produce and consume biodiesel fuel for their own purposes.
This law directs the Revenue Laws Study Committee and Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee to study the issue of providing adequate funding for transportation infrastructure development and improvement since the Highway Fund will not collect money from biodiesel users. The law further directs the committees to discuss ways to ensure the costs of road construction are paid for by all motorists as usage shifts from traditional motor fuels to new fuels.
The primary sponsor of the legislation is state Sen. John Snow (D-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Transylvania).
The act becomes effective October 1, 2007, and the study provision becomes effective when the act becomes law. The legislation passed the Senate 46-0 and was approved in the House of Representatives by a 108-4 vote."
Mortgage mess!! I knew I was in trouble this morning when my managers looked at me and said, "We'd like you to do a story about the President's proposals to help with the mortgage crunch."

Yikes! What an important story but what a nightmare to tell on television. This story is so important to so many families but it is so complicated, which is the reason why so many people are in the position they are facing!

Why has the system gotten so complicated that the average person cannot understand it, and the lenders and lawyers can and is that the reason the mortgage industry is in such a mess?

President Bush, in a nutshell, wants to make it easier for those in trouble with their mortgages can refinance. These people are stuck in ARMs or adjustable rates. That means they get cheap interest rates for a few years but then the balloon pops and their rates go through the roof.

He's calling for reform as well. Advocates I've talked with are optimistic but are concerned it won't help enough people facing foreclosure. His plan to help with refinancing may shut out the people facing the worst situations because you need relatively good credit. That's according to Al Ripley over at the NC Justice Center.

The state recently passed some laws related to this that Ripley thinks may help more than Bush's plan in the long run.

Check out the story on for more. My head hurts too much to write and understand more right now!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Easley brought out the veto stamp but we never saw it. Sort an interesting side note to Governor Easley vetoing the "Goodyear bill" as it's being dubbed.

The bill would have given up to $40 million to Goodyear over 10 years to upgrade. The argument is they need the money to keep the plant in Fayetteville or they might move the plant. Problem is, the bill basically allowed Goodyear to lay off 750 people.

Easley has his own plan to allow these grants providing it's a company in the poorest counties that provides 1500+ jobs and promises not to lay off any employee.

Anywho, the last veto we saw, the Governor brought out the big red ink stamp and vetoed the heck out of the bill.

Today, about 10 minutes before the news conference a staff member came into the room and took the stamp. During the news conference, Gov. Easley mentioned it was already stamped. Why couldn't he just stamp it in front of us? It's always great video for us TV folks!

Easley did mention in his remarks and it was obvious he was very much against the bill but was concerned about having to veto it because it involved a major company as well as Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand who sponsored a version. Did the Governor not want to rub salt in the wound by stamping the ink in front of cameras???

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Looks like Easley is going to veto the bill giving Goodyear $40 mill to keep jobs here. Here's the direct release from the Gov's office.

"Gov. Mike Easley today announced he will seek new legislation in the 2008 session of the General Assembly to secure major manufacturing investments from existing industries in disadvantaged parts of the state.
“As our economy has globalized, our largest industries can now direct investments to areas of the country and the world where they can achieve the lowest production costs,” Easley said. “My plan will create a state program to partner with local governments and secure commitments from major anchor industries to modernize operations and enhance their presence in North Carolina.”
Titled “The American Productivity and Competitiveness Act of North Carolina,” Easley’s proposal would have the state partner with qualifying existing industries that commit to invest substantial amounts modernizing their facilities to ensure greater productivity and global competitiveness in their operations. The program would operate in a fashion similar to current incentive programs that require approval by the Economic Investment Committee and award grants measured by a portion of new taxes resulting from the investment and by training costs.
“The economy is changing rapidly,” Easley said. “Those companies that invest in technology and in a high-skilled workforce will succeed. Those which do not will fail. North Carolina wants to partner in success.”
At least one North Carolina business has already signaled that a grant under the proposed legislation could secure its commitment to upgrade a major existing manufacturing plant in North Carolina to state-of-the-art status.
“We have been briefed on Gov. Easley’s proposed legislation which is an innovative, on-target program,” said Steven Akey, Vice President of Government Affairs for Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC, which operates a large plant in Wilson. “It would be a major step forward in our ability to stay globally competitive in a changing economy by supporting worker training and encouraging investments to enhance productivity. If this were to become law, and we received a grant, we would be prepared to move forward with substantial new investment in our Wilson facility and retain employment at least at current levels in the years to come.”
“A grant from a program like this would enable our Wilson facility to secure our position as a world-class operation that can compete and win in the global economy,” said Jim Pridgen, manager of the Wilson plant.
Grants would be available to manufacturing facilities that require assistance to modernize in the state and that employ at least 1,500 workers in high-paying jobs in Tier 1 distressed counties. Companies receiving grants would be required to maintain current levels of company jobs, pay wages that equal or exceed 140% of the county average wage, and provide quality health insurance and benefits. They would also be required to maintain clean environmental and workforce safety records and not be delinquent on taxes owed.
A key feature of Easley’s program would be a requirement that local governments partner with the state when awarding inducements for the company’s commitment to invest. Current programs such as the One North Carolina Fund also require local government participation.
“Any effort to retain a major economic engine in a community needs to be a fair partnership between the state and local governments – one that appropriately balances both the risks and the rewards of the expanded economic activity,” Easley said.
Officials in Wilson County, where Bridgestone Firestone has been considering future expansions, agreed. “As it has in the past, our county stands ready to do its part and will partner with the State,” said Frank Emory, Chairman of the Wilson County Commissioners. “It is vitally important that we work together to ensure that Bridgestone Firestone remains an enduring presence here and enhances its technology to meet the demands of globalization.”
Senator A.B. Swindell (D-Nash, Wilson) said, “I’m looking forward to working to build consensus in the General Assembly for the Governor’s plan. It’s a creative model that can work for other significant industries in North Carolina and guarantee that we’re the most competitive and innovative state in the country.”
Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Edgecombe, Wilson) said, “Bridgestone Firestone provides high-paying jobs to many of our citizens. The Governor’s plan is exactly what is needed to keep communities like Wilson strong.”
Representative Joe Tolson (D-Edgecombe, Wilson) said, “This will guarantee that world-class companies invest in Eastern North Carolina. We need to come together on this fair plan to ensure that we help our long-time employers stay and grow here.”
State grants under the program would be measured against the income, franchise and sales tax revenues paid to the state as a result of the company’s commitment to maintain and modernize operations, as well as the cost of training workers to operate new equipment and manage new lines of production.
Companies could also receive refunds for near-term sales taxes on electricity and natural gas, which are scheduled to be phased out for all manufacturers as a result of legislation recently signed by the Governor.
Qualifying companies that fail to follow through on commitments would see their benefits reduced or terminated, and companies that shut down facilities could be required to repay any incentives received under the program.

I have to leave for the day, but I covered the latest on the death penalty issue in court. My story can be found on the left or

Until then..