The Locker Room

September 7, 2009

White House releases Obama's much-debated school speech

Posted by David N. Bass at 3:35 PM

We're getting a preview of President Obama's much-assailed speech to public school students tomorrow.

Looks to be a standard stump speech tailored to a younger audience.

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Judge Stephens responds to 'apology' letter

Posted by David N. Bass at 3:17 PM

Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens has responded to an "apology" letter that Wake County school board members sent him a month ago regarding the scuffle over how imprisoned former House Speaker Jim Black settled his criminal corruption fine.

You can download a PDF of the letter from Stephens here. Stephens took strong exception to comments from school board member Ron Margiotta, who questioned the legitimacy of the property deal that satisfied the remaining portion of Black's $1 million fine. Stephens gave final approval to that deal.

At the time of Margiotta's remarks, the superior court judge had this to say:

Criticism from those receiving the gift really kind of puts a chilling effect on judges and the courts system that are working really hard for their benefit. It is not appreciated. I don't even understand it, quite frankly. In my 25 years on the bench, I have never seen anything quite like that.

By law, fines and forfeitures, such as those in Black's case, are required to go to public schools. Stephens suggested at the time that he might stop levying fines in the future that would benefit the Wake County school system.

Stephens strikes a less terse tone in his new letter to the Wake County BOE, which was sent Aug. 24:

During my 25 years here on the trial bench, the court system and the school system have developed a rich history of working together for the good of the community and its children ... [we] ... are committed to seeing that this positive relationship continues.

Read past Carolina Journal coverage of the Black fine debacle here.

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Obama needs another 'crisis'

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:08 AM

This Bloomberg story suggests that in order to get health-care reform through Congress, President Obama needs to create a sense of crisis comparable to the economic fears that preceded passage of his (de-)stimulus package in February.

Facing polls showing a drop in his approval, diminished support from independents, factions within his Democratic Party and a united Republican opposition, Obama must recapture the sense of urgency that led to passage of the economic rescue package in February, analysts said.

“At the moment, except for the people without insurance, we’re not in a health-care crisis,” said Stephen Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University in Washington. “You do need a crisis to generate movement in Congress and to help build a consensus.”

Once again, we're reminded of Rahm Emanuel's (increasingly) immortal words about never letting a crisis go to waste. And if there is no genuine crisis, Obama and company will manufacturer one.

My only question: can this administration do anything without using the "crisis" catalyst?

In fairness, the issue does cut both ways. President Bush used the terrorist threat as a means of usurping civil liberties, particularly through the various functions of the Patriot Act. With the unprecedented number of power-grabs over the last eight months, however, it's clear that the current administration has far more wide-reaching purposes in mind -- namely, changing the fundamentals of our economy.

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