Carolina Journal Weekly Report

December 04, 2009

Carolina Journal Weekly Report

For the week of December 04, 2009 -

Reaction of the Week

RALEIGH — North Carolina school districts earned more C grades and fewer D’s in the John Locke Foundation’s latest assessment of “parent-friendly” schools. That’s a sign of progress to the JLF analyst who graded all 115 public school districts for a new Spotlight report.

“The good news is that the number of overall D grades dropped from 27 school districts to 19 districts this year, while the number of C’s climbed from 64 to 75,” said Terry Stoops, JLF Education Policy Analyst. “The bad news is that most districts are still earning C’s and D’s. No district earns an overall A grade, and the number of B's dipped slightly this year from 19 to 17.”

This is the second year that Stoops has assigned each school district a “parent-friendly” grade, so it's the first time he’s had a chance to note signs of progress or back-pedaling. The Clay County public school system raised its grade this year from B to B+, securing the No. 1 ranking in the state. Cherokee County earned the only other B+, ranking No. 2. Fifteen other districts earned a B or B-, while 75 earned some form of C. Nineteen districts earned D grades, while Bertie, Hoke, and Vance counties joined the Weldon City Schools in earning F’s.

Nine school systems improved by a full letter grade since Stoops issued his 2008 report. Henderson County schools tie for the state’s No. 7 ranking after raising their grade from C to B. Durham, Edgecombe, and Warren County public schools joined the Thomasville City Schools in improving from F to D in the past year.

Meanwhile, marks for six school systems dropped by a full letter grade. Catawba, Carteret, and Yancey counties all dropped from B grades to C’s, while Hoke and Bertie dropped from D’s to F’s.

News Features

CJ: Rand key player in Easley property swap
RALEIGH — New information developed by Carolina Journal shows former Gov. Mike Easley acquired a lot and a home on exclusive Bald Head Island some years earlier with the assistance of state Sen. Tony Rand of Fayetteville. It’s unclear from the public records how much Easley paid for the property.

CJ: Wake school board members defend changes
RALEIGH — The Wake County School Board’s new conservative majority faced strident criticism Tuesday night after pushing through a series of impromptu agenda items that weren’t announced until the meeting began. But the newly seated board members say the items had been discussed and vetted thoroughly during their campaigns for office, and other school board members or the public shouldn’t have been surprised.

CJ: Greensboro demands new leadership
GREENSBORO — Greensboro was the “outlier” because voters elected a new mayor and City Council based on a platform of fiscal conservatism. Although Greensboro’s council is officially nonpartisan, registered Republicans now have the majority.

Tony Rand accused of insider trading
RALEIGH — The former president of a publicly traded Raleigh company is accusing state Sen. Tony Rand of sharing insider information with other North Carolina politicians. Paul Feldman, who says he was illegally fired from Law Enforcement Associates in August, made the claims in a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. He said that Rand, one of the state's most powerful lawmakers, schemed to profit from insider trading and manipulating the value of the company’s stock.

Lawyer: DOT can’t borrow to finish I-485
RALEIGH — A Charlotte-based lawyer hired by State Treasurer Janet Cowell’s office concluded that the state Department of Transportation doesn’t have authority to go into debt on its plan to complete I-485 around Charlotte. Transportation officials, however, are moving ahead with their new financing plan. They held an information session at UNC Charlotte on Thursday for contractors, engineers and lenders to outline the funding and construction plans to finish the loop.

Upcoming Events

Monday, December 07, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Down East Freedom Club Meeting
with our special guests Don Carrington and Rick Henderson
Carolina Journal: The Easley Investigation and How it Started.

Monday, December 07, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Noon
A meeting of the Shaftesbury Society
with our special guest Dr. Karen Palasek
Does Leadership Development-in-a-Box work?
A few thoughts on pop, program, and process in the leadership training biz

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 6:30 p.m.
20th Anniversary Event
with our special guest Newt Gingrich
The Future of America

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

Capital Quotes

There are some things that we just can’t control.
— N.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler, talking to the Associated Press about state spending on Medicaid, which is running 9 percent over budget so far this fiscal year as a weak economy pushes more people onto the program.

It’s way beyond precedent.
David Clegg, deputy chairman and chief operating officer of the N.C. Employment Security Commission, commenting to the Raleigh News & Observer about the state’s borrowing to finance unemployment insurance payments. The state is expected to have borrowed $2 billion from the federal government by the end of the year to cover the payments. The federal loans are interest free only through the end of 2010.

There are clearly two different economies going on.
— Deputy Commissioner of Banks Mark Pearce, talking to the Charlotte Observer about the North Carolina economy. While foreclosure filings are flat or down slightly in the Triad and Wake County, Mecklenburg County has seen a 44 percent increase in foreclosures through the first 10 months of 2009 as compared to the same period last year.

The Department of Correction is treating these issues like items on the buffet at the Golden Corral.
Elizabeth Jane Allen, an assistant appellate defender in the state Appellate Defender’s office, as quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer, arguing that the state was selectively picking laws in its arguments to keep a number of convicts sentenced in the 1970s to “life” terms in prison. At the time, the state defined a life term as 80 years. Allen argued that those laws and policies, correctly interpreted, require the release of her client, Wilbur “Milkshake” Folston, in 2011, not 2055, as the state contends.

On The Air This Week…

Carolina Journal Radio

This week on C J Radio…
Carolina Journal’s David Bass discusses changes to UNC-CH’s Citizen Soldier Support Program following audit finding of waste; The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes dissects the Obama administration's challenges; JLF’s John Hood reflects on lessons learned from the Fourth Crusade; Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute assesses Ronald Reagan’s impact and legacy; and Carolina Journal’s Rick Henderson explains why a federal bailout for newspapers is fundamentally flawed. 

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: A recent poll showing we don’t trust politicians; a complaint against Wayne County Schools; more problems for our alcohol beverage control system; and potential problems for Charlotte’s I-485 loop. This week’s panelists: John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch; former Attorney General and Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten; and and Cash Michaels, columnist for the Wilmington Journal and The Carolinian.


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