Carolina Journal Weekly Report

November 25, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of November 25, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — State Treasurer Janet Cowell plans to put up to $250 million of the state’s $60 billion pension fund in investments that would “support the well-being of the state of North Carolina,” reports Sarah Okeson for Carolina Journal.

The investments, known as “economically targeted investments” (ETIs), are common in other states.

Twenty-one states use their pension money for ETIs to pursue goals like increasing affordable housing and creating jobs, according to a December 2008 report from Florida’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability.

“It’s a direct challenge to the idea that money floating up in the ether is in everybody’s best interest,” said Doug Hoffer, an analyst in Burlington, Vt., who has studied the issue. “Money invested in China or Europe may be getting a good rate of return, but it’s money invested elsewhere.”

Such investments also raise red flags from pension watchers. States that have used ETIs have had mixed success.

“The pension fund is not a do-gooder slush fund,” said Charles Heatherly, a former North Carolina deputy treasurer. “It was set up for a very specific purpose. The [investment] boundaries are written into the state constitution.”

News Features

CJ: Golden LEAF retains close ties to Easley
RALEIGH — As federal prosecutors investigate alleged campaign finance violations and other suspected wrongdoing by embattled former Gov. Mike Easley, his law partners and other associates continue to play key roles in the management of the Golden LEAF Foundation, which distributes half of the state’s tobacco settlement money.

CJ Gorman: Tie teacher pay to performance at CMS
CHARLOTTE — Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman plunged into one of the most contentious topics in public education last month by announcing his intention to begin basing teacher pay on effectiveness in the classroom, rather than on experience and academic degrees. But if experience is any guide, he’ll face plenty of opposition from teacher groups and their political allies.

Cowell raises I-485 questions
RALEIGH — State Treasurer Janet Cowell has raised a possible roadblock to plans to speed completion of Interstate 485 in northern Mecklenburg County. Cowell’s office issued a statement late Tuesday expressing uncertainty about the funding mechanism to finish the long-unlinked loop, a plan that was announced with great ceremony by Gov. Bev Perdue two weeks ago while standing at the unfinished end of the highway.

Blue Cross under scrutiny for ‘robocalls’
RALEIGH — State legislators and attorneys are scrutinizing Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for its attempt to influence the national health-care debate through direct mail and possibly illegal automated phone calls. The N.C. Attorney General’s Office confirmed that it was investigating Blue Cross, North Carolina’s largest health insurer, for prerecorded calls that started late last month. Based on a preliminary review, some calls linked to the company appear to have violated the law.

Payback time for public schools
RALEIGH — Public school leaders across the state, and especially in the Triangle, are recalculating their budgets to figure out how many millions they owe charter schools to comply with a state court ruling. This month, the state Supreme Court refused to review a state Court of Appeals ruling that said the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system had undercounted how much money it owed charter schools, which are independent public schools.

Upcoming Events

Monday, November 30, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Rick Henderson and Don Carrington
Carolina Journal: The Easley Investigation and How it Started

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 at 11:45am
Piedmont Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guest Rick Henderson and Don Carringtion
Carolina Journal: The Easley Investigation and How it Started

Thursday, December 03, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Western N.C. Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guests Rick Henderson and Don Carrington
Carolina Journal: The Easley Investigation and How it Started

Thursday, December 03, 2009 at 12:00 p.m.
A Headliner Luncheon Panel Discussion
with our special guests Max Borders, John Hood, and J. Peder Zane
"Taxpayers and Arts Education"

Tuesday, December 08, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Southeastern Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guests Don Carrington and Rick Henderson
Carolina Journal: The Easley Investigation and How it Began

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

Capital Quotes

You have extremists on the right. Christians, Ku Klux Klan, Nazis. All kinds of Islamic fanatics. All of them claim to speak for the majority, and that’s unfortunate.
— Sen. Larry Shaw, D-Cumberland, as quoted by the Fayetteville Observer, speaking about the Fort Hood shootings. Shaw, a Muslim, also serves as chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

We are back having this problem again because of a lack of commitment and investment.
Evelyn Foust, director of the communicable diseases branch of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, talking to the Raleigh News & Observer, about syphilis. Cases of the sexually transmitted disease have almost doubled in the first nine months of 2009 as compared to the same period in 2008.

That’s what we are paying him for. Anybody might be able to do the job, but not as good as Billy Williams can.
Stephen Culbreth, New Hanover Alcoholic Beverage Control board member, justifying to the Wilmington Star-News the $232,000 a year salary paid to Billy Williams for his work as the administrator of the ABC board.

Youth sports are recession-proof.
James Belk, chairman of the Guilford County Tourism Development Authority, as quoted by the Greensboro News & Record, arguing to Greensboro City Council why the city should built a $17.4 million, three-pool aquatics center.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
JLF’s Joe Coletti discusses N.C.’s 11 percent unemployment rate and the role misguided policies play in the issue; N.C. State’s Mike Walden outlines lessons for N.C. in California’s changes to its tax system; Bill Holman of Duke University debates Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute over whether the free market is friend or foe to the environment; Hal Young of North Carolinians for Home Education assesses N.C.’s law for nonpublic options; and CJ Radio co-hosts Mitch Kokai and Donna Martinez banter about federal claims of jobs saved or created in fake N.C. congressional districts. 

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 state economy and the state budget; buying seats on boards and commissions; and new university policies for administrative leave and end-of-life decisions. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; political consultant Brad Crone; and former House Speaker Joe Mavretic.


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