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Archive for October, 2012

A Look At State Ballot Measures Across The U.S.

Stateline, a project of the Pew Center on the States, summarizes the measures that appear on next Tuesday’s ballot across the country. There are 174 of them and the include measures about legalizing marijuana, cutting taxes, raising taxes, same-sex marriage, public funding for abortion, and more.


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Do Liberals Have A Turnout Problem In Chapel Hill?

As JLF’s Terry Stoops explains in this post at sister blog The Locker Room, liberal activists from moveon.org will speak to Chapel Hill voters tomorrow night in an effort to get them to vote for President Obama. Considering that Chapel Hill is one of the most solidly Democratic towns in the state, three thoughts come to mind. Either (1) there is still concern about turning out the college/faculty vote for the president and/or (2)  they wanted an easy gig, and/or (3) moveon.org is simply trying to get free publicity for the president’s campaign, which according to this new poll for WRAL, is losing the state to Gov. Romney, 50 to 45 percent. Now if moveon.org decided to talk to voters in rural, more conservative northern Orange County, that would be fascinating.

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Public Charter Schools In Demand In Washington D.C.

Despite the Big Education bureaucracy’s opposition to public charter schools — you really have to wonder what the bureaucrats are afraid of — parents are demanding options and innovations in Washington D.C. So does this new move by the D.C. Mayor signal a crack in that opposition? Is there now a realization that parents will no longer put up with traditional schools that fail to perform?


Charter schools are not only accepted by the public, but they have in fact become the preferred educational option. Charter schools now educate 43 percent of D.C.’s public school students. It seems only a matter of time before charters exceed DCPS in total enrollment.

Perhaps anticipating that eventuality, Mayor Vincent Gray recently announced that the District has finally agreed to use $7 million in unspent funds from its 2012 operating budget to pay for charter school facilities that are currently covered by federal funds.

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Former Morrisville Councilwoman Says She Forgot

From the Cary News:

 Former Town Councilwoman Linda Lyons faces voter fraud-related charges after allegedly trying to vote twice during last year’s election, according to a Wake County prosecutor.

Lyons is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 19 on the misdemeanor charge, said Wake County Assistant District Attorney Steven Saad.


The response from Lyons:

Lyons filed an early-voting ballot Oct. 24, 2011, and then attempted to vote again on Election Day at her precinct, officials at the county board of elections said at the time.

“I forgot I had voted earlier,” Lyons had said. “Do you know how much I have going on? I’ve been campaigning, taking care of my father, and I’m a single parent. I forgot.”

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WRAL Poll: Romney Leads In NC, 50 To 45

The latest poll of North Carolina comes from WRAL:

Republican Mitt Romney has a 50-45 percent lead over Democrat Barack Obama in North Carolina, according to a new poll.

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Only 1 Complaint?

Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht notes in his Cary Citizen blog that his “mailbag” included one complaint letter about the massive cost overrun for the theater project. 

Emails from citizens this week included a complaint about the downtown movie theater cost overrun, suggestions to support and oppose several rezonings, a request to open a dead end road, and a complaint about my votes were creating sprawl.

One one? Based on what’s going on — the project cost has doubled from $3 to $6 million – you would think more taxpayers would be concerned. Here’s my previous blog post on this. Here’s a taste of the recent story that noted the Cary council had rejected staff suggestions to cut $300,000 from the over-budget project.

Staff had offered a host of cost-cutting options, including “packaged roof-top mechanical units;” the replacement of some limestone accents with precast concrete; the elimination of the addition’s third floor and sheet rock in the theater ceiling; and the resizing of poster boxes.


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NC State Researcher: Romney Supporters Retweet More Than Obama Supporters Do

I’m not a fan of Facebook, but I love Twitter as a way to gather information from people and groups that interest me. At NC State University, computer science professor Christopher Healey obtained permission from Twitter to analyze tweets during the recent presidential and gubernatorial debates. Among the findings is this tidbit about “retweeting” behavior, which is one of the digital components of a candidate’s ground game.

For instance, President Barack Obama achieved internet fame during a debate when he responded to a Mitt Romney criticism that the size of the U.S. Navy is smaller now than it was in 1916.

“Well, governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed,” Obama said. “We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them.”

“Horses and bayonets” quickly became a top-tweeted phrase. The researchers could look at the two charts and conclude that the general sentiment was positive for Obama, Healey said.

Healey also noticed that Romney supporters “retweet” a lot more than Obama supporters.

Fascinating. I would have bet it was the opposite, considering the demographics of the president’s supporters.

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Crop Loss Scam In Mebane

A farmer and an insurance agent from Mebane have pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to a crop-loss scam. It cost you and me $8.4 million.

If you’re interested in agriculture, crop insurance, and the Farm Bill the U.S. House is expected to take up after the election, take a look at the reality of the taxpayer subsidies to farmer. This data comes from a  News & Observer column  written earlier this year by my husband, Rick Martinez.

More than 80 percent of crop policies sold to farmers guarantee income, according to a complex U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) formula that – you guessed it – tends to favor larger, established farmers over smaller, newer growers.

With revenue insurance, a farmer can harvest a bumper crop, get a good price that leads to a tidy profit…and still receive an insurance check.

Such a sweet deal doesn’t come cheap. So, Big Ag convinced Congress to force you and me to help pay the premiums. It’s quite a chunk of cash.

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calculated that American taxpayers picked up 63 percent of crop insurance premiums for farmers. That totaled $7.4 billion. But the subsidy doesn’t stop there. We also kicked in another $1.3 billion to help insurance companies write these policies.

Farmers harvested a bumper crop of cash from this arrangement. Last year, claims hit an all time high of $11 billion. What a country!

The upcoming debate in the U.S. House should be fascinating. Will the fiscal conservatives and/or Tea Party-associated members vote to do away with this kind of thing?


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Does An Employer Owe You A Full-Time Job?

Interesting New York Times story about the prevalent use of part-time workers by the retail industry, as well as the software some use to help project the need for workers based on such things as weather forecasts. Some of the part-timers interviewed think it’s unfair, including the Western Carolina University graduate quoted in the story.

At first, he usually worked five days a week, often racking up 30 hours. But after several months, he said, he and many co-workers had their weekly hours cut to 12 or 15 and occasionally none at all.

“I’d go to the managers and say, ‘What is the issue? Am I not pulling my weight?’ ” he said. “And they’d say, ‘We just don’t have enough money.’ ”

“ ‘So how am I supposed to support myself? ’ I asked, and they said that was not their problem.”

But employers must do what is best for their business, or be willing to accept the hit if they don’t. And that hit can be layoffs or closure if it costs more to produce, market and sell a product or service than the sale can bring in.  And for those who are concerned about the part-time trend, I suggest they think about the impact of Obamacare on the work force. If Obamacare remains in place as is, you will see more part time workers as employers try to stay afloat.


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Spotted In Orange County

On Saturday, President Obama’s get-out-the-vote effort was in northern Orange County. How do I know? The car was sporting a sticker that read: supported Obama in 2008, support him now. From what I observed, they were driving slowly, checking paperwork, and then pulling into driveways. They stopped at three or four houses in a 50-to 60-house neighborhood. Also on Saturday, I spotted a crop of new yard signs supporting Paul Newby for Supreme Court. I haven’t yet seen any signs supporting his opponent, Sam “Jimmy” Ervin IV, in the area.



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