Tuesday, July 27, 2010

'The many aspects of mobile home living'

One of the funniest books I've read in the past decade was written by a lawyer and circuit court judge who graduated from Davidson with honors and who now holds court in his native Patrick County, Virginia. Judge Martin Clark has written three novels that have earned him accolades as the next Carl Hiaasen, only deeper, or the next John Grisham, only grittier, or the next Elmore Leonard, except funnier. (We've known his family for a while; his father, a longtime lawyer who had helped us with deeds and such for years, is a character right out of a Dickens novel.) Judge Clark's first book was titled "The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living" and it was more about goings-on in the legal profession than in, say, a mobile home or a trailer park.

Still, we've come face-to-face with some of the many aspects of mobile home living atop Belcher Mountain, perhaps 10 miles or so north of Judge Clark's home in Stuart, Va., ever since a fire reduced our retirement home to a pile of charcoal, twisted metal and crumbling block. The insurance company has sent 'round a 40-foot travel trailer that will be our high-altitude home for the next 8 or 10 months while the house is replaced, and we're relearning the skills acquired during the decade when we owned and sailed a 37-foot cutter recommissioned as the S/V Grace.

There are many aspects to sailboat living, too, including the fact that the home will move around you from time to time, floating as it does in a minimum of 5 or 6 feet of water, that whenever you move from one place to another aboard ship there's always something or someone to move out of the way or climb over first, and that there's a complicated process for doing anything. You have to get used to a small stove top, a tiny refrigerator, an impossible to reach engine room unless you're a contortionist, and heaven help you should the toilet need any repairs.

A 40-foot trailer, by comparison, is the apex of luxury. It doesn't bob around nearly as much, even in a high wind. There's ample floor space (about four or five times as much as a sailboat, I'd estimate), all of it flat and mostly square, and the walls are essentially perpendicular with real windows from which you can see quite a lot, not those narrow slots known as portholes. Sailboats are pointy at one end, blunt but narrow at the other, and curvy just where you want it to be straight.

We can't sail out to Cape Lookout or over to Ocracoke Island, but we have power, plenty of hot water, and using the head does not involve opening a through-hull, turning a valve, pumping a lever, closing a valve, pumping some more and then closing a through-hull so the trailer won't sink if an intake line pops off. There's a more or less full-size refrigerator, and a washer and dryer, too.

On the whole, it's not as much fun as a sailboat on a fine day with a 15-knot breeze, but it's a lot easier to live in, thank you very much, and it's hard to get cable TV on a sailboat. No complaints, and none of this jibe-ho-and-watch-the-boom nonsense, either.

Marshall: Burr behind holds on two N.C. judges

Democratic Senate nominee Elaine Marshall, the N.C. Secretary of State, is taking it to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, accusing him of placing a secret hold on the nomination of two N.C. judges for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and casting Burr as the heir to the late Sen. Jesse Helms' legacy of race-baiting.

Burr’s spokesman David Ward said there’s not only nothing to her charge, but said the senator “strongly supports” the nominations of the two N.C. judges.

In a blogpost you can reach by clicking here Marshall says Burr is behind the Senate delay in voting on Court of Appeals Judge Jim Wynn and N.C. business court Judge Albert Diaz, who were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in January for judgeships on the federal court in Richmond.

On the blog, Marshall says, "One of our judges who has passed the Judiciary Committee who cannot get a vote was also held up by Jesse Helms. A talented judge, this is now the second time he’s been nominated by the Fourth Circuit. He’s an African American judge, highly, highly qualified. And Richard Burr has the same hold on him that Jesse Helms had on him. North Carolina has got to put these vestiges behind them. Richard Burr, while he’s said wonderful things about Judge Wynn, presenting him and all that kind of stuff, he’s behind the curtain holding him up. [...]

"One of them is Hispanic, one of them is African American. They both have military background. They both have strong judicial careers. They really don’t have valid enemies for reasons that anyone would talk about in the hearing. There are these subtle enemies, these subtle forces, the legacy of Jesse Helms, that are holding them back. So, I’m very unhappy about that."

Marshall offers no proof of her assertion about Burr, and his spokesman David Ward says it’s “patently false.” He said, “Sen. Burr does not have a hold on Judge Wynn or Judge Diaz. He strongly supports both judges and does not have any sort of hold on them. He has supported them throughout this process and looks forward to a vote on them.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has tried to schedule a vote by unanimous consent, and so has Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, issued a statement last week about the delays and attributed them to Republican resistance, citing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "There are more than 20 judicial nominations pending on the Senate calendar, including 12 which were reported by the Committee unanimously. Last week, McConnell objected to a consent request to schedule debate and votes on the nominations of James Wynn and Albert Diaz to seats on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Both nominations were reported by the Judiciary Committee in January. Wynn’s nomination was reported unanimously; Diaz’s nomination was reported by a vote of 18-1."

“President Obama has not made nominations opposed by home state Senators but has instead reached out and worked with home state Senators from both parties. He has by and large nominated well qualified moderates,” said Leahy. “The Senate Republican leadership is holding up consideration of nominees reported unanimously from the Judiciary Committee for weeks and months for no reason. Just last week, after a needless three month delay, the Senate confirmed a judge for the Northern District of Illinois unanimously. That is more evidence of the pattern of stall and obstruct.”

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chambers, Gilchrist to join Highway Patrol advisory panel

Gov. Bev Perdue has announced creation of a six-member panel to advise her administration on the restructure of the State Highway Patrol's leadership, and the group includes Charlotte lawyers Julius Chambers and Peter Gilchrist, the Mecklenburg district attorney.

Also on the panel are former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, former FBI official Chris Swecker, now a Charlotte security and fraud consultant, Norma Houston of the UNC School of Government and a former key aide to Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, and former Court of Appeals Judge Ralph Walker. The six-member panel brings a wealth of experience to the advisory group.

“This panel’s insight and experience will be especially beneficial as we chart a new course for the Patrol that will reestablish their reputation as one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the nation,” Perdue said. “The men and women who serve – and our citizens – deserve nothing less.”

Perdue said in a news release that the group will advise the Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Reuben Young on the selection process for a new commander. They are to report by Sept. 1, and their goals include:

"1.) Recommendations on the Patrol's structure and policies, including the selection of a new commander

"2.) Consideration of any legislative recommendations for the next session necessary to enact further reform

"3.) Rebuilding the focus on integrity, honor and the proud heritage of the Patrol."

Sarah and Butch: Coiners of the Realm

Sarah Palin is getting hit pretty hard by those who guard the English language from assaults foreign and domestic, but I say give her a break on last week's word coinage. Evidently she twitted that peaceful Muslims should "refudiate" the mosque being built near the World Trade Center site in New York.

Lots of folks, left and right, are poking fun at her for saying "refudiate." But I like the sound of it -- kind of a marriage between refute and repudiate, I guess. It might become a useful word, and in any case I expect it will find its way into the language, as many of George Bush's more colorful words have. Unless, of course, I grossly misunderestimate the situation.

Then a few days later UNC football coach Butch Davis coined another word. In a discussion Thursday, Davis was talking about the NCAA, its investigation of football players and its apparent plans to move swiftly. Davis said it was his understanding that the NCAA would "expediate" its process. That's good strategery on the NCAA's part. But unlike "refudiate" -- which doesn't add length to an already useful word (repudiate) -- "expediate" adds a syllable to a perfectly useful word (expedite). Still, we may see it again, and not only in the next paragraph, either.

And in our business, longer words used to mean more publishing costs. It takes more barrels of ink to print "expediate" a couple of trillion times than it does to print "expedite". But we're online today, so the cost of ink is not an immediate concern. A more pressing concern is whether the Tar Heel defense will be able to refudiate the LSU Tigers on Sept. 4. I just hope the NCAA investigation isn't the decider in that game.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Congressional incumbents have big money advantage

Bob Hall, the elections and campaign finance watchdog at Democracy North Carolina, has done some research that confirms what many political challengers find at some point: Congressional incumbents usually have a big advantage when it comes to fund-raising -- the lifeblood of politics.

Hall says the 13 members of the US House of Representatives from North Carolina "are crushing their opponents in the all-important money race" and have a 5-to-1 advantage. Hall says that, at the end of the fiscal year June 30, they also had "a smashing 13-to-1 advantage in cash on hand. The source of the big advantage, for both Democrats and Republicans, is their heavy reliance on donations from PACs - which so far supply more than half of the incumbents' campaign funds but only 4% of the challengers' money."

Hall point out that "North Carolina has a law against legislators holding fundraisers with PACs while the General Assembly is in session, but no such law exists for Congress. The report notes that US House members from NC have held 85 fundraisers since March 2009 in Washington with PACs and lobbyists to benefit their campaigns, an average of more than one per week."

This also seems to anecdotally confirm what many in both parties and of varying views believe about national politics: incumbents spend so much time raising money that they don't have enough time to concentrate on solving real problems.

Hall said in a news release, “Big money from special interests has become such a dominating force that it distorts the whole democratic process. The tea party activist, social reformer and ordinary citizen all feel frustrated and ignored, because lawmakers in both parties are preoccupied with raising money and wealthy interests get special access to shape legislation for their benefit at the public’s expense – on taxes, pollution, food safety, you name it.”

For more information on Democracy North Carolina, go to http://www.democracy-nc.org/

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Senate Republican Leader: Nix on vote on NC judges

If you've ever wondered why it takes so long to get anything done in Washington, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has explained it all. Two outstanding North Carolina judges -- Court of Appeals Judge Jim Wynn and Superior Court Judge Albert Diaz -- will not be voted on because Republicans are still ticked off that Democrats wouldn't schedule a vote on nominees offered by President George Bush.

This is hardly a secret, but it is also a political abomination. We supported President Bush's nomination of Republicans such as Robert Conrad and we supported a vote on Terrence Boyle and we have supported President Obama's nomination of Democrats because they all have been outstanding jurists -- and North Carolina has the fewest judges on the 4th Circuilt Court of Appeals in Richmond of any state in the circuit.  The obstinance of both parties have kept good judges off the Richmond court.

Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, tried yesterday to schedule a vote on Wynn and Diaz. McConnell objected, and explained why. Here's their eye-opening exchange from the Congressional Record. You can draw your own conclusions on what's going on, and why. But for my money it's shameful.


Mrs. HAGAN. Mr. President, I come to the Senate floor this afternoon to discuss two nominees for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals—Judges Jim Wynn and Albert Diaz.

[Page S5836]

When I came to the Senate, I had high hopes of increasing the number of North Carolinians on the court. North Carolina is the fastest growing and largest State served by the Fourth Circuit. Yet only 1 of the 15 seats is filled by the abundant talent from our State, and over the past century North Carolina has had fewer total judges on the court than any other State.

Furthermore, there have been inexcusable vacancies on this court throughout history. Given that the U.S. Supreme Court only reviews 1 percent of the cases it receives, the Fourth Circuit is the last stop for almost all Federal cases in the region. We must bring this court back to its full strength. Since 1990, when this court was granted 15 seats, it has never had 15 active judges.

Judge Wynn brings decades of judicial experience to the bench. He has served on the North Carolina Court of Appeals since 1990 and had a brief tenure on the State supreme court. He has been the chair of the bar association’s Judges Advisory Committee on Ethics.

Additionally, Judge Wynn has served on Active and Reserve Duty in the Navy for 30 years and was a certified military trial judge. He has been honored for his extraordinary service several times, including three Meritorious Service Medals.

Judge Diaz has served since 2005 as one of North Carolina’s three business court judges. Prior to that, Judge Diaz was a judge on the State superior court for nearly 4 years.

As a business court judge, Judge Diaz has handled complex business cases. He started as a lawyer in the U.S. Marine Corps, was an appellate counsel in the Navy’s Office of the Judge Advocate General and has been a judge in the Marine Corps Reserves.

Judge Diaz also has extensive experience in business litigation and has served on the State Judicial Council which advises the State supreme court’s chief justice on ways to improve the courts. He is a graduate of New York University Law School, with a graduate degree in business from Boston University and undergraduate degree in business from the University of Pennsylvania.

I note that both judges have received unanimous ratings of well qualified from the American Bar Association.

Additionally, both men’s confirmation to this Federal bench will be historically significant, as Judge Diaz will be the first Latin American on the Fourth Circuit and Judge Wynn will be the fourth African American to ever serve on this bench.

These fine men have the support of both myself and my colleague from North Carolina, Senator Burr. Editorials and newspapers throughout North Carolina have praised these nominations and have urged their swift confirmation. The Charlotte Observer said Judges Wynn and Diaz are “widely regarded as intelligent, ethical judges who have won respect for their judicial and military careers. They are the kind of judges the federal bench needs . . . Their quality is so unquestioned that only partisanship could stall their nominations.”

Unfortunately, I worry that is what is happening. Both Judge Wynn and Judge Diaz were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 28—Judge Diaz unanimously and Judge Wynn with only one dissenting vote. But for over 5 months now, the nominations have languished on the calendar. It is past time that these two fine judges be confirmed to the Fourth Circuit.

Mr. President, as in executive session, I ask unanimous consent that at a time to be determined by the majority leader, following consultation with the Republican leader, the Senate proceed to executive session and consider en bloc the following nominations on the Executive Calendar: Calendar No. 656, Albert Diaz, to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit, and Calendar No. 657, James Wynn, to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit; that the nominations be debated concurrently for up to 3 hours, with the time equally divided and controlled between Senators Leahy and Sessions or their designees; that upon the use or yielding back of time, the Senate proceed to vote on confirmation of the nominations in the order listed; that upon confirmation, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table en bloc, the President be immediately notified of the Senate’s action, and the Senate resume legislative session.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, and I will be objecting.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Republican leader.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I appreciate the perspective of the junior Senator from North Carolina, but my perspective on the Fourth Circuit covers a little longer period of time.

I advise my friend that for the last Congress of the Bush administration, the Democratic majority only confirmed one nominee to the Fourth Circuit. As a result, the circuit was fully one-third vacant with five vacancies when President Bush left office.

These vacancies were not due to President Bush’s failure to nominate several qualified candidates. As a result, my Democratic friends had to resort to creative reasons to justify keeping these seats open.

To give an example, the Fourth Circuit seat from Maryland was kept vacant for the entirety of the Bush administration—8 years. The last nominee for that seat the Democrats objected to was a fellow named Rod Rosenstein. Nobody could reasonably contest his credentials, so my Democratic colleagues turned his virtues into a vice, saying he was doing too good a job as U.S. attorney in Maryland to be promoted to the circuit court.

Despite the unfair treatment that Mr. Rosenstein received, many Senate Republicans in this Congress, including myself, supported President Obama’s nominee to this seat, Andre Davis.

Also in this Congress, Republicans, including myself, supported the confirmation of Barbara Keenen of Virginia to the Fourth Circuit. With her confirmation, the Senate has confirmed twice as many nominees to the Fourth Circuit as occurred during the entire last Congress of the Bush administration when Democrats controlled the Senate.

With respect to the vacancies from North Carolina, President Bush put up a nominee who satisfied all of Chairman Leahy’s criteria for confirmation—Judge Robert Conrad. Judge Conrad had the strong support of his home State Senators. He received the blessing of the ABA, the Democrat’s so-called gold standard, and he would fill a judicial emergency. Yet Judge Conrad could not even get so much as a hearing.

In fact, the Senate has been processing President Obama’s judicial nominees, both district and circuit court nominees, faster than it processed President Bush’s judicial nominees.

How has the President responded to our efforts to work in good faith? He recess appointed Donald Berwick before the Finance Committee could even schedule a hearing on him, and despite the fact that Republicans on that committee requested that a hearing be scheduled on his nomination.

Let me give my colleagues a brief timeline of the nomination of Donald Berwick.

On April 19, 2010, the President nominated Dr. Berwick to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Less than 3 months later, and without a Senate Finance Committee hearing taking place, the President recess appointed Dr. Berwick. The reason offered was that the Republicans were blocking this vital appointment, so they could wait no longer to follow the constitutional process of Senate confirmation. Yet this position was vacant for the first 16 months of the Obama administration and has not had a confirmed Administrator since 2006, since my friends on the other side of the aisle were blocking the Bush administration nominee.

Democrats did not schedule so much as a committee hearing for Donald Berwick. The mere possibility of allowing the American people the opportunity to hear what he intends to do with their health care was reason enough for this administration to sneak him through without public scrutiny.

Given the President has been so dismissive of the Senate’s right to provide advice and consent under the Constitution, I am not inclined at this point to consent to the request proposed by my friend from North Carolina. Therefore, Mr. President, I object.

[Page S5837]

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.

The Senator from North Carolina.

Mrs. HAGAN. Mr. President, it is disappointing that we cannot get consent for these judges. Senator Richard Burr and I together introduced these two individuals at the Judiciary Committee hearing. I will say that I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as well as any Senator who has concerns over either judge, to working toward a reasonable solution that would allow an up-or-down vote on Judges Wynn and Diaz.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Make challengers pay for runoffs?

Now here's an interesting finding that will delight those who like a lot of elections and those who want to save taxpayers a few bucks: According to a new poll by Public Policy Polling, N.C. voters want to preserve runoff elections, but they say taxpayers ought not to pay. Candidates should underwrite the cost of runoffs.

Among other things, I expect that would lead to fewer runoffs. And you have to wonder if Democrat Cal Cunningham would have called for a runoff after N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall failed to win a 40 percent plurality in the Democratic primary race for the party's nomination to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. She won the runoff convincingly by a 60-40 margin. Of course, most decisions would probably depend upon whether the challenger has to pay the entire tab, or whether it would be shared with the first primary leader -- who wouldn't be thrilled to have to pay a dime for a runoff.

The numbers show that of those polled, more than twice as many think the challenger who calls for a runoff should foot the bill – 56 to 24 percent, with 20 percent undecided.

Tom Jensen, PPP's analyst, describes the findings this way:

41% of voters in the state support continuing to pick party nominees in a runoff when no candidate gets at least 40% of the vote in the primary. 32% think North Carolina should no longer have runoffs and 27% of voters don't have an opinion either way. There is no division along party lines when it comes to the issue- Democrats support keeping runoffs 42/28, Republicans do so 40/36, and independents do by a 39/34 spread.

Voters support maintaining runoffs but in the wake of a statewide one last month that drew little interest they think the candidates requesting them should fit the bill. 56% of North Carolinians would like to see that move made to 24% opposed. Majorities of Republicans, (60%) independents, (56%), and Democrats (52%) all support a move toward campaigns paying for runoff elections.

The Legislature's gone home and this is not a top priority for voters in the state but making campaigns fund runoffs would be a rare initiative with bipartisan support from the public.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

No one wants to rein in big party contributions

There's a lot to be said about the ethics bills passed by both the House and Senate Tuesday that would beef up the state's ethics laws. And while I think the House version of the two bills is stronger, there is one provision in the Senate version that is much to be admired. Sponsored by Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, it would open up public records so that state agencies can disclose why an employee was fired for misconduct. But Wake County representatives whose districts include a number of state employees opposed the measure, and all but two legislators agreed with them. Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat, and Rep. Paul Stam, a Republican, have had reservations about due process and branding an ex-employee who might be contesting a dismissal -- and who may ultimately be cleared. So the House voted overwhelmingly to keep current protections that will in effect prevent such information from being disclosed. The two different bills now go to a conference committee.

On a separate issue, Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, deserves a lot of credit for waging a fight few were willing to get into: reining in the huge contributions that political parties can give in legislative and other races. They ought to be subject to the same limits as individual donors. If the legislature -- Democrats and Republicans -- wanted to rein in some campaign contribution abuses, they'd agree with Blust. But they don't and they won't.

Chris Fitzsimon of N.C. PolicyWatch had an interesting take on this today. Here's an excerpt from his blog :

Members of both the House and Senate deserve credit for passing ethics reform, though the Senate leadership needs to recognize that the House version is stronger and agree to its provisions soon so a reform package can pass before the session adjourns, which could come as early as Friday.

But there's a flip side to the bipartisan consensus about meaningful reforms and it was on display recently too when Representative John Blust tried to convince a House committee to add a provision limiting how much political parties can give to lawmakers' campaigns.

Contributions from individuals and PACs are limited to $4,000 per election cycle, based on the reasoning that one special interest should not be able to buy significant influence with a legislator by giving huge sums of money to his or her campaign.

But contributions from political parties in North Carolina are not limited, making a mockery of campaign finance laws. Legislative leaders raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and pass it on to their political party, which then doles it out in massive amounts to legislators in close races. Special interests or wealthy individuals can give as much as they want to political parties, providing another pot of money to distribute.

The Democratic Party gave more than $500,000 to one Senate candidate in 2008. Republicans also legally laundered money from the party to candidates, just in smaller amounts.

Blust said on the House floor that limiting party contributions is a key part of battling the pay for play mentality that has developed in Raleigh and Blust is right, something you don't read often in this space.

House Minority Leader Paul Stam led the opposition to Blust's proposal in the House committee, claiming the limits were unconstitutional, which is absurd. Many states impose the limits and courts have ruled many times that limiting contributions does not violate freedom of speech rights.

Blust tried again on the House floor, but was unable to convince his colleagues to suspend the rules to allow another vote on his amendment.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

UNC-TV turns over subpoenaed material to legislature

UNC-TV has turned over to legislative officials the research it has prepared about Alcoa and the Yadkin River. A key reason: to avoid any impression that the station had repressed an important story.

A spokesman for the agency said it was doing so "in a manner that is legal, ethical, and responsible. In addition, for the first time in network history, UNC-TV has made the decision to refrain from exercising its customary editorial review over an individual reporter’s project. The reason for this unusual step is to alleviate any concerns surrounding unfounded and untrue allegations of inappropriate suppression by UNC-TV management of the reporter’s ability to tell this important story."

It's another unprecedented move in a story that began last week when the Senate Judiciary II Committee issued a request and a subpoena for what it believed to be an unpublished documentary UNC-TV had prepared on Alcoa. UNC-TV later said it was working on three reports that would be aired soon, and the agency, which receives funding from the state, was considering whether and how to comply with the subpoena.

Early today the agency announced that it had turned over all its materials to the legislative committee on Monday morning. Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, R-Cabarrus, said last week the reports would be aired this morning at 9 a.m. in his committee meeting. You can listen in by going to this website: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/Audio/StreamAudio.pl?stream=appropriations

Steve Volstad, spokesman for UNC-TV, said the reports also would be broadcast today on UNC-TV. He said the agency had decided to turn the materials over to the legislature because it was a legitimate request, because UNC-TV was not certain it was covered in this situation by the state's press shield law, and because it was airing the reports beginning today anyway. Here's the statement from UNC-TV:

At 9:30 a.m. Monday July 5, 2010 UNC-TV took the unprecedented step of turning over to the North Carolina State Senate Judiciary II Committee all of the video work material in its possession related to a series of North Carolina Now reports on the activities of Alcoa, Inc., in Stanly County and on the Yadkin River. This was in compliance with the committee's equally unprecedented demand under North Carolina General Statute (NCGS) 120-19 to provide them with the raw material from which the reports on North Carolina Now are being created. UNC-TV's series of reports on this issue are scheduled to air on North Carolina Now on Tuesday, July 6, Wednesday, July 7, and Thursday, July 8 at 7:30 p.m.

We have taken these steps for these reasons:

• NCGS 120-19 mandates that state agencies comply with directives to provide information to the North Carolina General Assembly.

• Given UNC-TV's status as a state entity, there are differing legal opinions about the application of North Carolina's press shield law (NCGS 8-53.11).

• Based on the production timeline of the three North Carolina Now segments on this subject, agreed to by the producer/reporter of these segments, we have scheduled the reports for broadcast on the same day as the committee meeting. Therefore neither the public's right to know nor UNC-TV's ability to use this material for reporting purposes would be compromised in this instance.

We understand that there are those who will disagree with our decision, but given the legal uncertainty as to the application of the press shield law to UNC-TV, and because of the fact that UNC-TV is a state entity, we believe we have responded to this difficult situation in a manner that is legal, ethical, and responsible. In addition, for the first time in network history, UNC-TV has made the decision to refrain from exercising its customary editorial review over an individual reporter’s project. The reason for this unusual step is to alleviate any concerns surrounding unfounded and untrue allegations of inappropriate suppression by UNC-TV management of the reporter’s ability to tell this important story.

Steve Volstad

Director of Communications and Marketing