Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hunt on charters, creativity and fast trains

Hunt on charters, creativity and fast trains

Former Gov. Jim Hunt, who chaired the first Emerging Issues Forum at N.C.
State University a quarter of a century ago, is preparing for the 25th
edition of that venerable institution, which covenes Feb. 8 and 9 in
Raleigh -- at the new downtown convention center for the second year.

This year's theme is creativity, in particular its relevance to innovation.
And true to Hunt's nature, he had a lot of thoughts about innovation,
creativity and thinking about things in different ways. In a conversation
before talking to editors and reporters Thursday, Hunt said, among other

-- He's all for lifting the statutory cap on charter schools. The number
is capped at 100, and Hunt thinks that artificial cap limits the
educational innovation that charters can bring about. It's not that he
wants to eliminate the cap altogether, but he believes the experience of
successful charters such as the Kipp Charlotte charter school proves the
point. Hunt isn't sure how high the cap ought to be. "I don't know how
much, but make sure they are performing" and when they don't, recapture
the charter and give it to a school that can produce results.

-- The president's new high speed rail initiative and commitment of $545 million to the state is in part a recognition
of ground-breaking work North Carolina has done in reintroducing passenger
rail. When Hunt was governor, he vowed to cut the time of the
Raleigh-Charlotte run to two hours before his term was up. The state
didn't meet that goal but it has steadily lopped time off the run, he
noted, and with the federal funds will eventually get to the two-hour
trip. "We're working on it, and we're going to get there," he added.

The Emerging Issues Forum will focus on ways to bring creativity into
educational curricula as well as more into corporate, nonprofit and even
agricultural operations. "Creative people make innovation happen," Hunt
said. "It has to come out of somebody's mind."

Among the speakers will be former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory and Charlotte Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Bob Morgan.

For more information on the forum, see

Virginia may not want OLF, either

It's beginning to look as though legislators in the Commonwealth of
Virginia may also take action to oppose the Navy's plans to put a practice
jet landing field (the much-maligned Outlying Landing Field that many
North Carolinians fought so hard in recent years)in the tidewater area of
Virginia. The Navy is looking at sites in northeastern N.C. as well as

Doris Morris, one of the organizers of the effort in N.C. to persuade the
Navy that the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge was the wrong place
to build a landing field that would put large migratory waterfowl and Super
Hornet jets in the same airspace, sends along a story from the Tidewater
News in southeast Virginia that the legislature is considering a bill to
stop the Navy from putting the OLF in the tidewater area. The proposal is
somewhat similar to legislation the NC General Assembly has adopted.

Written by Sarah Sonies of the Capital News Service, here's an excerpt:

"RICHMOND — State legislators are considering a bill that could block the
U.S. Navy from building an outlying landing field in the Tidewater area.
Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Fred M. Quayle, R-Suffolk, would require
the Navy to get approval from the General Assembly before acquiring
property for an OLF.

"'There have been some designated potential sites for Outlying Landing
Fields,' Quayle said. 'The citizens almost unanimously don’t want them,
and they don’t bring any economic development; they are simply taking
property off the tax holders.'

"Quayle said the bill would ensure the federal government must take an
additional step before locating an OLF in a county that does not have a
military air base.

"SB 6 would 'require approval by the General Assembly before the United
States acquires property for an outlying landing field in localities that
have no current military base at which aircraft squadrons are stationed.'
Currently, the federal government has conditional consent to acquire land
required for needed public buildings in Virginia."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Energy and that not-so empty ocean expanse

The Governor's Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy has begun meeting to figure out what recommendations it can make to Gov. Bev Perdue about the production of energy in offshore areas adjacent to North Carolina. The first meeting Tuesday focused on such things as the U.S. Minerals Management Service and how it administers the offshore exploration program for oil and gas. The panel also plans to look at other energy source issues, including offshore (and in N.C. sounds) wind generators.

Among the first things the panel heard about was an advisory from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University about how crowded those seemingly empty offshore spaces have already become -- and how policymakes must figure out how competing interests can share the space.

Bill Holman, director of state policy for the institute, handed out a policy brief from the institute that noted, among other things:

"Simply put, many areas in North Carolina's coastal and offshore waters are becoming crowded, with too many users vying for the same space. Telecommunications cables preclude trawling for commercially important species; marine transportation routes are becoming clogged with commercial and recreational vessel traffic; proposed wind farms and recreational anglers might both like access to the same parts of the estuary; mining, sand and gravel activities affect ecologically and economically important habitats."

This means North Carolina's coastal and marine waters need better spatial planning, the brief notes.

"New proposals for offshore energy, a growing tourism and recreation industry (including boating, beachgoing, diving, and wildlife viewing), proposed aquaculture, and existing commercial fishing, mining and military use of airspace and waters compete for space within North Carolina's state and nearby federal waters."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Watchdog: Voter stereotypes have changed

Both parties should be paying attention to changes in North Carolina voters as the mid-term elections approach with a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs. Bob Hall, executive director of the political campaign watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, notes that by far the majority of new voter registrations in the last decade are independent, urban and non-white. For more information click here:

Hall notes in a news release:

“A new county-by-county analysis of North Carolina voters points to dramatic shifts in the past decade that will likely influence campaign strategy for hot elections this year for Richard Burr’s US Senate seat and for control of the General Assembly.

“The numbers tell the story. For example, while the registration rolls of Democrats and Republicans have grown by 11 percent and 16 percent respectively since 2000, the number of voters choosing to not affiliate with any party soared by 83 percent. In fact, the 627,500 new unaffiliated voters are over half of the 1,162,000 voters added during the decade.

“The report provides county-by-county data on the changing racial and partisan composition of the electorate, the growth of urban counties, the increase in young voters and the number of adults not registered to vote.”

Hall writes: “The growth of urban and suburban counties and surge of independent voters means the political parties must scramble to win elections with a smaller share of reliably loyal voters on their side. Stereotypes of the Republican rural conservative and the straight-ticket, African-American Democrat are giving way to a more complex profile of the North Carolina electorate.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supreme Court's 'seismic' decision on campaign contributions

The head of a North Carolina non-profit organization that aims to educate voters about elections and the election process says a U.S. Supreme Court decision this morning will have a seismic effect on Tar Heel politics. That's saying a lot, given how N.C. politics has often been at the center of trends shaping how candidates and campaigns go about their work -- from the bruising campaign between Frank Porter Graham and Willis Smith for the U.S. Senate 60s years ago, to the transformation of national politics with the fund-raising and advertising campaigns by the National Congressional Club to help Jesse Helms, to the redistricting battles here that have shaped campaigns as well as legislatures and Congress.

The Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC struck down restrictions on corporate giving in elections, freeing up corporations including powerful labor unions to spend unlimited amounts in elections. Damon Circosta, executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education, said in a news release that the decision makes North Carolina's experiment with public funding of elections even more important as a way to avoid the impact of huge financial contributions on our elections. Here's what Circosta had to say:

"We are disappointed in today's ruling that essentially grants moneyed interests an outsized role in our democracy. When corporations are left unfettered to influence the political process, everyday citizens get left out. If politics is about a level playing field where ideas compete to be heard, the Supreme Court just handed an amplifier to the very folks who already had a megaphone.

"Although there is a great degree of concern among reform advocates that this decision will only exacerbate the 'pay-to-play' system of campaign contributions in exchange for preferential treatment, this decision creates even more urgency around alternative campaign funding models such as public campaign financing.

"We know that public campaign financing works to curb special interest influence and we also know that courts have repeatedly deemed such systems to be constitutionally sound. North Carolina has been a national leader in establishing a public financing alternative. In the wake of this latest decision by the Supreme Court, we expect more support for programs that empower citizens to participate in their democracy."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Senate changes again; GOP has new issue

The decision of nine-term state Sen. Charlie Albertson, D-Duplin, to step down after this term ends continues the march of Democrats out of the legislature -- and adds to the speculation that Republicans will capture a number of Democratic seats and take over the Senate next year.

In fact, Republicans Tuesday announced plans to push legislation that would exempt North Carolina from any federal requirement that every resident be required to purchase health care of pay a penalty. The bill likely won't pass in the coming short session, but it certainly would give Republican candidates a hot-button issue to campaign on this year. Republican leaders say they see their proposal as a positive initiative because they hear from so many people who don't like the health reform bill moving through the U.S. Senate.

Albertson, who also served four years in the House before moving to the Senate, is a popular county and gospel music singer with a flowing beard and an easy way with people. Lately he also has been a Senate appropriations committee chair and principal budget writer. At 78, he says he's exhausted. He joins four other Senate Democrats who won't run again, including Sen. David Hoyle of Gaston County, R.C. Soles, the dean of the Senate and longest-serving legislator, of Columbus County(who has been indicted by a grand jury for shooting an intruder at his home), and Julia Bozeman, D-New Hanover. Already resigned from the Senate are former Majority Leader Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, and David Weinstein, D-Robeson.

The decision of these six Eastern N.C. Democrats to leave changes the power structure of the state Senate dramatically. It robs Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight of veteran lawmakers from the East and furthers a shift of power from the East to the West, where Democratic Sen. Martin Nesbitt of Buncombe County will become the new majority leader. And it creates four vacancies to be filled by voters this fall and two other seats (Rand's and Weinstein's) where the Democratic incumbents will not have an established record of winning their districts. Republicans are enthusiastic about the possibility of winning six seats this fall and changing the Senate from a 30 to 20 advantage for Democrats to at least 26-24 in favor of Republicans.

Another departure will be Sen. Eddie Goodall, R-Union, who is not running again, but whose seat is regarded as a safe one for the GOP.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, House Republican leader Skip Stam, R-Wake and State Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer announced plans Tuesday to file legislation in the short session (and next year, if the first try fails) that would exempt North Carolina from any federal requirement that residents purchase health insurance. Here's part of a press release the GOP put out:

"Raleigh, N.C. — The Republican leaders of the State Senate and House were joined by the Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party today promising to fight the federal take-over of healthcare and protect an individual’s right to make decisions about their own health coverage. The Republican leadership promised a legislative initiative called the Health Care Protection Act (HCPA).

“Republicans will not stand idly by and watch as citizens' rights to make their own health care decisions are taken from them by the federal government,” said Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), “The people of North Carolina are overwhelmingly opposed to this blatant abuse of power. We are proud to be their legislative voice by putting forth this common sense initiative.”

"House Republican Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake) said the initiative should be supported by Democrats and Republicans alike. “This should not be about partisan politics; it should be about the individual freedom of our citizens." Stam noted that either a general statue or a constitutional amendment will be presented during the short session in May. If the Democratic majority blocks the initiative, it will be submitted again the first week of next year’s session, when he believes Republicans will hold a majority."

I don't doubt that the Republican are serious about trying to exempt North Carolina from any federal law requiring the purchase of health insurance, though I think it would have a long and hard court fight ahead of it. But regardless of whether such a law would stand up to legal scrutiny, you have to admit it would make a mighty good campaign issue to energize the Republican Party's base and encourage support for Republican candidates this fall. The issue might help Republicans gain control of the Senate and also take over the House, where Democrats have a 68-52 edge. If Republicans can pick up a net of nine seats, they'd have enough for a 61-59 majority.

Friday, January 15, 2010

N.C. sea level rise of 3.28 feet by 2100?

The sea level off North Carolina's coast is rising at an annual rate of 4.27 millimeters per year, a science panel advising the state of North Carolina reported this morning in Raleigh, but the rate of rise could accelerate before the end of the century and rise one meter by 2100 -- or about 3.28 feet.

The Science Panel on Coastal Hazards warned that its findings were the result of "an inexact exact science" and noted that sea level may rise by as little as 1.26 feet by the end of the century or as much as 4.59 feet. For the next 25 years the rate might continue increasing at the constant rate of 4.27 mm per year, said panel chair Margery Overton, a professor at NC State University, but changing conditions suggest the rate of sea level rise could increase.

The predicted one meter rise is an overall rate adopted for simplicity's sake, but the sea level is rising at different rates along the coast. It is rising fastest in northeastern North Carolina where relative sea level rise is marked by a subsidence of the land.

The findings were released near the end of a two-day Sea Level Rise Science Forum sponsored by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission. During Thursday's session, one researcher showed a graphic that indicated what might happen in the Wilmington area if sea level rises as much as predicted by the end of the century. The graphic shown by Benjamin Horton, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, portrayed the area of Wrightsville Beach largely under water. These are all what-if projections, of course, but they indicate what might happen if sea-level rise is as severe as some predict. Others believe it may be much more rapid as the century ends.

Stan Riggs, a coastal geologist at East Carolina University, showed graphics that indicated the coast of what is now North Carolina has been as far East as 50 to 60 miles offshore, and as far west as a line shown on popular satellite photos of the East Coast and known as the Suffolk Scarp -- a clear delineation that runs through Eastern N.C. from the Dismal Swamp down to an area west of Morehead City.

The point of research on sea level rise is not to warn the public to abandon the coast, Riggs said. "We don't have to run away from the coast, but we have to be smart about what we do," he said.

That includes recognizing that most (75 percent) of our beaches are simple barrier islands that are starved of sand and that in the event of terrible storms or excessive sea level rise, many of them will be submerged, he said. Most of our beaches are eroding at a long-term rate of 15 feet per year, and building hardened structures such as condominiums that keep the ocean from overwashing and building sand deposits on the sound side are a "long-term death sentence" for our barrier islands, he said.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perdue's 'helter-skelter agenda reboot'

Gov. Bev Perdue has launched a new agenda in a busy round of speeches on education, jobs creation, public safety and other issues, notes policy analyst Chris Fitzsimon, a former broadcast newsman and former aide to then-House Speaker Dan Blue. Fitzsimon writes a blog for NC Policy Watch, a program of the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh. He notes that Perdue has made speeches in Greensboro, Kannapolis, Charlotte and other places and sought to emphasize her plan to introduce a number of new issues this year. Here's what Fitzsimon has to say about Perdue's efforts in his latest blogpost, available here.

"The agenda and the press push feel more like a campaign than a week in the governor's office. That's ok. The state could use a lift and we certainly need more jobs, a higher graduation rate, and a more open and honest government.
"Perdue's on the right track, but there's something missing somehow from her approach this week. Not just the specifics of each proposal, presumably they are coming soon.
"It's more the helter-skelter nature of her agenda reboot, tying to do everything in the first real week back from the holidays. Adding a bullet point about crime as part of her education and government reform agenda is an example of what feels like a frenzy to remake her image immediately.
"And while most of Perdue's proposals do make sense, there's nothing that feels radically new, despite the catchy names, nothing that people will be talking about on their own for the next few weeks.
"But maybe that's ok too. An active, engaged governor is vital to the state's success and we clearly have one.
"Perdue told the Greensboro crowd that she will have "initiative after initiative" in the next four months. Let's hope some of them fill in the gaps that she left this week and that she saves some energy to translate the cleverly-named programs into action".
Fitzsimon's observation about the lack of anything radically new is something that political observers have talked about for a while now. Perdue has a tough job ahead of her given the lingering slow economy and expectations that there's something she might be able to do different. But with falling state revenues to support new initiatives in any major way, and the sheer difficulty of changing things in Raleigh because of an entrenched bureaucracy and authority spread out over independently elected Council of State agencies over which she has no authority, the problem of fixing things is a big one indeed.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why not more business support for GOP candidates?

Raleigh political analyst John Davis, who is urging voters to support Republicans and who predicts the GOP will take over the N.C. Senate in the 2010 elections, has a new analysis on his Web site ( that plumbs an old question: Why haven't Republican political candidates enjoyed more support from business interests in past elections? After all, he reasons, Republicans are business-friendly candidates, but he noted that Democrats have long stayed in power because they get big financial support from business folks.

About 20 years ago he finally discovered the reason after doing a number of straw polls among attendees at political forums where he spoke, he writes: They have a religious and social agenda that most business-oriented voters do not regard as the main business of government, he believes.

"....[T]the common denominator among those business-friendly Republicans with lousy straw poll scores was their preoccupation with a right-wing religious and/or socially conservative agenda.

"Over the next 20 years, it became very apparent that although North Carolina business people do not have a personal problem with religion or social conservatism, with many supporting that agenda privately, they simply believe that the primary responsibility of elected officials is to run the government as efficiently and effectively as possible, addressing the fundamental needs of the state. In the mind of many North Carolina business people, there is a disconnect between effective governmental leadership and a preoccupation with a social agenda.

"As I said at the outset, when the dust settles after the 2010 elections, if all NC Republicans have to offer is, “We’re not the other guys … those corrupt tax and spend liberal Democrats,” they will not win either chamber of the NC General Assembly. Our problems are too great.

"If I am out of work, living on unemployment, can't afford health insurance, can’t afford to keep my kids in college, can't afford to buy my family Christmas gifts ... don't come to my door asking for my vote based on your position on abortion. If my wife is sick and I can't afford to take her to a doctor, and my daughter lost her job and I can't afford to help her pay her rent … don't come to my door asking for my vote based on your position on same-sex marriage.

"Karl Rove is right. 'It won’t be enough to surf voter dissatisfaction with Mr. Obama and Democrats. Voters will want to know what Republican candidates would do'.”

Davis is a smart fellow, though he missed the call on the state Senate in 2008 when he thought voters would put the Republicans in charge. Still, he points to Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand's decision to step down, and retirement of other business senators, combined with the rise of liberal Democrats in leadership ranks, as evidence that things are about to change in big ways.

What I'm wondering is what voters -- and Republican candidates -- think about Davis' point about religious and social issues. Is that a drag on their election in 2010?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A.G. approves I-485 plan but Treasurer disagrees

The state Attorney General's office gave formal approval today to the plan for designing, building and financing completion of I-485 around Charlotte. Gov. Bev Perdue announced plans Nov. 9 for completing the road with a novel way to pay for it that included construction companies, in effect, financing part of the work by allowing the state to pay for it over a period of years. State Treasurer Janet Cowell's office raised questions about the process, including whether it amounted to taking on more state debt -- and at the end of the day Tuesday restated her concerns about debt.

Here’s a link to the attorney general's opinion.

In a letter to N.C. Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti dated Jan. 12, Chief Deputy Attorney General Grayson G. Kelley issued an advisory opinion in which he noted that the General Assembly had contemplated the use of design-build-finance projects when it approved legislation enabling the process "to, in effect, borrow money from local governments and non-profit corporations on the condition that all funds advanced be reimbursed with seven years." The legislature later approved contracting with private entities, local governments or the NC Turnpike Authority to finance roads, streets and bridges, Kelley noted.

"In our view, the plain language (of the law) vests NCDOT with the authority to contract with private entitites for the construction of the I-485 projects under contract terms which may involved financing. As such, assuming the extended payment schedule described in the draft Request for Proposals constitutes 'financing,' we believe the General Assembly has authorized NCDOT to expedite cosntruction in this manner," Kelley wrote.

"Furthermore, we have been unable to identify any provision of North Carollina law that would prohibit the contracting proposal described by NCDOT. Nor are we aware of any case law restricting delayed payments by a state entity to a contractor."

The advisory opinion represents a clear statement that many felt was needed to lend legitimacy to the plan, given the treasurer's office's reservations about the process. Cowell's office has strangely played this close to the vest. The Observer weeks ago invited Cowell to write an op ed piece explaining her view of the financing process but so far she has not taken advantage of that opportunity.

At the end of the workday Tuesday, her spokesperson Melissa Waller said:

"We appreciate the effort of the Attorney General's office in consulting with the Department of Transportation and our office to produce the advisory opinion, completing the next step of this important process. However, we respectfully disagree with the Attorney General’s opinion. While we continue to support the completion of the I-485 project through other optimal financing methods, we also believe that the larger issue of debt management should be referred to the Debt Affordability Advisory Commission and the General Assembly."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Book: Elizabeth thought John a 'hick'

The new book "Game Change" about the 2008 election certainly slices and dices whatever was left of former U.S. Sen. John Edward's reputation -- and this time leaves his wife Elizabeth's image in the same shape.

They fought constantly over the course of the campaign, to hear authors John Heilemann and Mark Halperin tell it, including one horrendous public spectacle at the Raleigh-Durham private aviation terminal when she ripped off her blouse and screamed "Look at me" to Edwards as embarrassed staffers turned their heads.

Edwards has long been revealed as a shameless egotist who believed the people loved him, and the stories of how he treated his staff poorly while pursuing an affair with a videographer, the truly bizarre Rielle Hunter, are well-known. But it will come as news to many that Elizabeth, a lawyer whom many regarded as a sympathetic figure also treated campaign staff like dirt and even made fun of John, calling him a "hick" and ridiculing his parents as "rednecks," the authors wrote.

Edwards' pursuit of the White House began within two years of his arrival in Washington, and changed him from a down-to-earth guy who was nice to people into a constant candidate striving for the big-time. At one point he tried to cut a deal with Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign to become his vice presidential candidate -- or that Obama would become Edwards' VP running mate if Edwards won early primaries -- and later tried to parlay that into becoming Obama's attorney general nominee. Toward the end the best deal Edwards could cut was for a speech slot at the Democratic National Convention, and then even that opportunity evaporated.

A number of people on Edwards' staff tried to warn him that he was playing with fire, including one of the smartest pollsters ever to work in N.C. and national politics, Harrison Hickman. Heileman and Halperin wrote that in 2005 Hickman tried to get Edwards to see how he had changed for the worse:

“You can’t talk to people that way,” Hickman scolded him after one off-putting display. People are attracted to the nice John Edwards, and for a lot of them, you’re not that John Edwards anymore.
Edwards bridled at the criticism. “I don’t know where that’s coming from,” he snapped. “You have to consider the source … A lot of these people are hangers-on.”

Read more: An Excerpt From John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's 'Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime' -- New York Magazine

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Smith Bagley, RJR heir, dead at 74

Both the New York Times and Huffington Post have pieces today on the death of Smith Bagley, heir to the R.J. Reynolds tobacco fortune in Winston-Salem and since the 1970s a fixture on the Washington, D.C. social and political scenes. He died of a stroke, the Times reported.

Bagley, 74, was the grandson of Richard Joshua Reynolds, who founded the tobacco company. Bagley once ran for Congress from North Carolina but lost in 1968. He and his wife were fundraisers for Democrats from the Jimmy Carter administration though the first year of the Obama administration, raising about $600,000 to help defray costs of the Obama inaugural. His wife Elizabeth served as ambassador to Portugal in the Clinton Administrtion. He also was indicted in 1979 for conspiring to manipulate stock prices, but was acquitted at a Richmond trial.

Here's a link to the Times piece.

And here's a link to the Huffington Post piece.

Katawba trust is planting longleaf

Sunday's column on the effort to restore a significant portion of the longleaf pine forest that once dominated 60 million acres of the Southeast brought some good news from Lindsay Pettus, president of the Katawba Valley Land Trust in Lancaster, S.C. He wrote:

Neat article in Sunday’s Observer as to Longleaf in which a number of conservation organizations and agencies are replanting their own lands with Longleaf. Our Katawba Valley Land Trust plans to do the same with several tracts we own in these next years. Historically at 40 Acre Rock Flat Creek Natural Area there were pockets of Longleaf there and we plan to replant Longleaf on an 86 acre tract.

I think one of the largest USA Longleaf tract stands is on Lackland Air Base property in Florida. We have a 420-acre Conservation Easement at the Battle Of Camden site on Flat Rock Road in Kershaw County and some Longleaf has been planted at this site as a great portion of the Battle of Camden was fought under these trees as both armies fought to win the day.

One writer appreciated the information about the longleaf but was skeptical of any thought that it might be a way to sequester carbon emissions to fight global warming.

Good piece, except for the foolishness about global warming.

Haven't you heard about Climategate? It has been revealed that scientists were admitting that the earth has been cooling over the last decade, manipulating climate data to "hide the decline," conspiring to prevent their data from being made public, and trying to prevent opposing views from being published.

This, at least, casts serious doubts on global warming.

Another writer had a good question:

I have often wondered why Democrats want to legislate this carbon tax on companies (Cap and Trade) but have never hesitated to support massive urban development which necessitated cutting our forests. These trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere while replacing it with oxygen. What effect do you think this decimation of forests has had on "man-made global warming?" Why then is massive urbanization generally supported by Democrats and politicians? Thanks for the article. DP

Richard Mode of Morganton, an NC Wildlife Federation representative to the National Wildlife Federation, sent this note:

Just wanted to thank you for the wonderful article you wrote on the NWF Longleaf Pine Report. Thanks for thanking the folks at NC State for participating in the development of the report. They had to weigh in on the report and critique it thoroughly during a very busy part of their semester and all three contributors did a great job. Their input improved the quality of the report dramatically. Dr. John King even took time to present at the national telepress conference NWF held. Dean Brown has a wonderful staff at the College of Natural Resources. The color and background you added in your article also made the report come alive.

I also want to thank you for bringing us the [OLF] article from Jeff Hampton at the Virginia Pilot. It was quite interesting.

I just finished reading James Hoggan’s book Climate Cover-Up. The book makes me appreciate that writers like you and Bruce [Henderson] are still out there bringing good information to citizens. No matter how much good work is accomplished, not much happens till people find out about it then weigh in to make good public policy.
Thanks for filling that need so well.

Monday, January 04, 2010

North Carolina's 'lost decade' in employment.

Those hoping for strong words of encouragement at today's N.C. Economic Forecast in Raleigh sponsored by the N.C. Chamber and the N.C. Banker's Association may have been disappointed, but UNC Charlotte Professor of Economics John Cannaughton kept the crowd focused on the reality of the state's economy. Among his remarks:

-- "The recession's over. It's has been over for six months. Relax."

-- He's reminded of what John Kenneth Galbraith once said: "The purpose of economic forecasting is to make astrology look good."

-- The recession may be over but "for most of us it doesn't feel that way" because of the staggering numbers of unemployed.

-- "We're not going to start feeling better until we see jobs being created."

-- North Carolina has lost about 300,000 manufacturing jobs. In November 2009, North Carolina had 300 more people employed than it had in December of 2000, making the aughts North Carolina's "lost decade."

-- It's going to be a slow recovery.

-- In 2010, about 32,000- 33,000 jobs will be created. Normally, N.C. sees about 60,000 to 70,000 jobs created. In some years, it has been 80,000 or 90,000 jobs created.

-- In December of 2010, expect unemployment to be about 10 percent, perhaps 9.8 percent.

-- There may be another federal jobs program but it won't be a permanent cure.

-- We've got to be realistic about how long it takes get those lost jobs back -- five years or more, he said.