Carolina Journal Weekly Report

July 02, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of July 02, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — North Carolina would waste taxpayers’ money if it signs on to federal plans for high-speed rail service. That’s the conclusion of a new John Locke Foundation Policy Report.

“The average North Carolinian will take a round trip on a high-speed train only once every 27 years,” said report author Randal O’Toole, senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “That’s certainly not worth the cost of pursuing high-speed rail service for this state. The administration's proposed high-speed rail plan will cost $1,000 for every federal income taxpayer, yet the average American would rarely or never ride high-speed trains.”

President Obama persuaded Congress to devote $8 billion of federal stimulus funds to high-speed rail projects across the country, O’Toole said. The federal government will accept proposals from the states to build some of the 8,500 route-miles of high-speed rail identified by the Federal Railroad Administration.

FRA released criteria June 17 for state applications for high-speed rail projects. The deadline for preliminary applications is July 10. O’Toole’s report warns that the cost of these projects could grow to be “hundreds of billions of dollars with very little public or environmental benefit.”

North Carolinians should look below the surface of the federal plan, O’Toole said. “Only a small portion of the FRA system would consist of true high-speed bullet trains,” he said. “North Carolina and 30 other states could expect no better than moderate-speed trains with top speeds of 110 miles per hour and average speeds between 55 and 75 miles per hour.”

News Features

CJ: Critics: Black got sweetheart deal on fines
RALEIGH — As jailed former state House Speaker Jim Black mounts a campaign for early release from federal prison, critics contend that the state justice system did favors for Black regarding the settlement of his $1 million fine in a corruption and bribery scheme.

CJ: Law firm racked up hotel, airline fees
RALEIGH — Attorney General Roy Cooper used North Carolina gas-tax revenue to reimburse Washington lawyers thousands of dollars in unnecessary hotel and airline fees, according to receipts and travel records obtained by Carolina Journal.

Hard times, tough luck for Perdue
RALEIGH — Nearly six months after taking office, Gov. Beverly Perdue’s political honeymoon is over. Perdue has been politically whipsawed from the left and the right. Teachers, state employees and advocates for the poor have taken to the streets, upset about state budget cuts and furloughs. Conservatives, outraged over her proposal to raise taxes by $1.5 billion, have taken up protest signs.

Goodwin: Beach Plan needs fix
RALEIGH — The state’s insurance commissioner said Tuesday that failing to fix the state-created insurance plan for coastal homeowners could lead insurers to dump their North Carolina customers and create a problem of reduced competition and higher prices.00 “We must do what we can to protect consumers from an insurance availability crisis,” Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said.

Burr race lacks heft
RALEIGH — So far, none of North Carolina’s big-name Democrats seems to want to run next year against Sen. Richard Burr. Even as Burr has already begun preparations for what could be a tough re-election fight, his most likely challengers are two dark-horse candidates, both lawyers with little political experience and even less statewide name recognition.

Upcoming Events

Monday, July 06, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Hal Young
Good Walls Make Good Neighbors: N.C.'s Unique Law for Non-Public Schools

John Locke Foundation Carolina Journal Online
The Locker Room Carolina Journal Radio

Capital Quotes

It’s not worth fighting over.
— Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, commenting to the Associated Press on the continuing resolution approved by both the Senate and House to keep state government operating through July 15 without a budget in place. Rand had wanted a continuing resolution of indefinte duration.

We’ll run them all off to Florida.
— Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, commenting to the Greensboro News & Record on a proposal to raise the state’s top marginal income tax rate.

Seeing how many holes we can shoot in our foot is not an economic strategy North Carolinians can count on to reduce our record 11.1 percent unemployment rate.
— Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, commenting to the Raleigh News & Observer on a proposal to attempt to force to charge sales tax on all items it sells in the state. In an attempt to avoid charging the tax, Amazon abruptly ended its partnerships with dozens of small companies in the state.

Once you get tenure, it should be extremely hard to take away.
— Interim N.C. State University Chancellor James Woodward, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer, explaining why disgraced former administrators James Oblinger and Larry Nielsen will be allowed to stay at the university, retain tenure and continue to draw their administrative salaries for six months after leaving those posts as they return to teaching and conducting research.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
JLF’s Joe Coletti discusses the state lottery’s failure to live up to expectations; Fox News commentator Mary Katharine Ham delves into the future of conservatism; World War II veteran Ferrell Shimpock shares his concerns for the country’s future; Bob Phillips of N.C. Common Cause explains why his group endorses creation of an independent redistricting commission; and JLF’s Daren Bakst responds to a proposal for special protections to land with conservation easements.

NC Spin

This week on NC Spin…
Join moderator Tom Campbell for another week of political discussion and debate on the most intelligent television talk show in the state. Topics this week: The Fallout from the budget; legislative evaluation; new year starts with no budget; and the Highway Patrol shakeup. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; political consultant Brad Crone; and former NC Speaker Joe Maverick.

At Issue

This week on At Issue…
Watch At Issue, hosted by Kim Genardo, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Also available on the web at


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