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INDY Week columnist Bob Geary's Raleigh news & politics blog

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Universal health care was Ted Kennedy's greatest wish.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Ted Kennedy thought that every American deserved health care coverage as good as what our members of Congress provide for themselves. He didn't live long enough to see it happen. MoveOn.org is sending this clip around to its supporters....

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Friday, August 21, 2009

"Survival of the richest!": Billionaires Against Health Care join the debate

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 11:30 AM

Wait a minute! I recognize a few of these billionaires, and I'll bet the lot of them aren't worth $100 million. They're making a mockery of our democratic process on a critical policy issue. "Let them eat Advil" indeed:...

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Obama: Public option is "important" and btw, no one would be forced to take it

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Probably the biggest problem with keeping the "public option" as part of health care reform is that people don't know what "public option" means. Is it an "option" that would be available to folks who can't get insurance any other way? I can imagine that many people think that's exactly what it would be -- but it isn't. Under all of the proposals under serious consideration in Congress, most folks who have insurance won't have access to the public option at all, let alone be left with it as their only option. But even for those with no insurance, the...

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Here's a modest proposal: The USICO (a national insurance cooperative)

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 4:22 PM

When does an insurance coop equal a public insurance option? Let's see, what if we -- uh -- create a public insurance option and -- oh, goodness -- let the federal government run it but -- by golly, this is hard -- make it so that the policyholders are entitled to any surplus it generates -- after, of course, its bills are paid and a prudent reserve is set aside to pay future claims. When a surplus is declared, policyholders could receive it in the form of a -- a what? Man, this is tough. Wait, I've got it! Let's...

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Reich is right: The public option depends on Obama fighting for it.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2009 at 3:04 PM

The public option is already a compromise. Giving it away is a cave-in. So says former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. What he doesn't mention, btw, is that the public options (they differ in form a bit) contained in the four different bills coming from the three House committees and from the Senate HELP Committee, respectively, are extremely limited -- only a very limited number of people could choose them anyway. Wouldn't want to "destabilize" the private insurance industry. So they're not just a compromise, they're a compromise of a compromise. And this from Ezra Klein, a Washington Post blogger: Per...

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Out-organize the rabid Republicans? Sure, but the Reformer-in-chief has a decision to make first.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Our friend Chris Kromm has an excellent analyis up on Facing South, entitled "Why the reformers are losing the health care debate -- and how to win it back." It's especially strong on the "why losing" side -- reform is getting Swift Boated, plain and simple, as Kromm says. On the "how to win" side, though, it's less persuasive. Out-organize the opponents is Kromm's prescription, with which I'd agree except for one thing: So far, reformers have nothing to out-organize them with. The problem boils down to this: Two versions of reform are on the table in Congress, and they're not...

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Friday, August 7, 2009

The real health care issue is, do we care?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 5:11 PM

If you don't think we need health care reform, or can't afford it, or should put it off yet again, I ask that you read the stories of the two women who spoke at Congressman Brad Miller's office in Raleigh this morning. They're not long. But they're important. I've transcribed them below -- they're after the jump. Lydia Tolar is a single mom from Cary with two minor children, a self-employed grants writer and a breast cancer survivor. Because of her cancer, and the economy, her income's down, and when her current insurance coverage under COBRA runs out, she's looking...

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Obama: "I'm for the public option." (Even though I never mentioned it.)

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Just got back from President Obama's talk at Broughton HS about health care reform. Actually, it was a two-parter, with Obama focused at the outset on defending his economic record in the first six months, including a long -- very clear -- outline of the stimulus package. On health care, I think the headline should be that the President managed to go for more than an hour, right up to the end of his final answer to the final question, without ever mentioning, let alone explaining, the "public option." Finally, someone shouted from the balcony, "public option!" Obama heard...

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Transit tax legislation in limbo until there's a state budget

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 2:21 PM

As we surmised a couple of weeks ago, House Bill 148 -- allowing Triangle counties to levy a 1/2-cent sales tax for transit -- isn't sailing through the Senate quite the way its proponents hoped it would. The bill is in the Senate Finance Committee, which was scheduled to talk about it today. But the bill was dropped from the agenda following the Senate Democrats' caucus at mid-day. Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, said the the party consensus was to finish the state budget first, and see how much of a sales-tax increase that might entail, before taking up the transit-tax...

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's Senator-elect Franken as Coleman finally (seven months later) concedes

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 4:30 PM

What's the Raleigh angle? Me. I love Al Franken. He'll soon be Minnesota's junior senator. Which makes 60 Democratic senators, a supposedly filibuster-proof number -- but only if they all hang together....

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Resilience," by Elizabeth Edwards. What did we know and when did we know it?

Posted By on Sat, May 16, 2009 at 12:09 PM

“Resilience” is the title of the book. The common metaphor used – and it’s used by Elizabeth Edwards in a passage quoted on the dust jacket – is getting back on your feet after you’ve been knocked down. After a hard hit, though, it’s best to take some time before getting up. But time is something Elizabeth doesn’t have. As she told Oprah Winfrey last week, the incurable cancer with which she lives could end her life in 10 years or one, or less than one. Understandably, therefore, she’s anxious to give her account of John’s infidelity during his...

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who's the new Dan Blue?

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2009 at 1:57 PM

  The outcome was never in doubt at last night's meeting of Democratic party officials to choose a replacement for the late Sen. Vernon Malone. Dan Blue wanted it -- the "it" being the state Senate District 14 seat representing Southeast Raleigh and the eastern part of Wake County -- and he won it easily on the first ballot, with 52 of the 84 votes cast. (Eligible voters were the district's party precinct chairs and vice chairs plus some elected Democratic officials who live in the district.)   But the meeting did serve as an audition of sorts for...

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Wake school diversity wars: Take 2

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 4:12 PM

Richard Kahlenberg was in town last week for a conference Thursday at UNC-Chapel Hill and for presentations to civic groups in Raleigh the day before. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation in Washington and formerly a law professor at George Washington University, is one of the leading scholars in the country on school diversity policies, and he has a long-standing and well-developed expertise regarding Wake County's policy. Bottom lines, Kahlenberg says: One: Wake's diversity policy is a national model, "with impressive results" to show for it academically, when it comes to maintaining racial and socioeconomic balance in its...

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Wake school diversity wars: Take 1

Posted By on Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Almost since the advent of the Raleigh-Wake schools merger in the mid-70s, the combined Wake County school system has followed a policy of managing student populations so as to achieve, first, racial balance, and later, "socio-economic" balance in all of its schools. That is, there should be no "high-poverty schools" in Wake ... and no "low-performing schools" either. The goal is that every school should have fewer than 40 percent of its students eligible for the federal program of "free or reduced lunch" -- meaning their family income is below $39,000 a year for a family of four -- and...

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Comp Plan discussion

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2009 at 1:47 PM

Title: Comp Plan discussionLocation: Raleigh City HallDescription: Planning Commisssion meets in \"committee of the whole\" sessionStart Time: 09:00 amDate: 2009-03-31...

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Friday, February 13, 2009

On comprehensive planning, transit and the splatter principle -- II: The buses first approach

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Note, first, that Raleigh adopted its current comprehensive plan in 1989, after the regional rail transit plan was hatched. The ’89 comp plan, in theory, should've stemmed the rampant sprawl and prompted dense developments to occur in close proximity to the planned station stops along the rail line, thus supplying the residents and the destinations (offices, stores) needed to make it hum. [CP, T & Splatter - I: The Back Story] Didn’t happen. Dense developments were allowed to go elsewhere, and so they did, and they never came to rail line, which therefore never materialized. The sprawl, of course, continued...

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On comprehensive planning, transit and the splatter principle -- I: The back story

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 10:02 AM

I've told this story before, but not here, I don't believe. When my wife and I moved to the Triangle 20-plus years ago now, we saw something in the local press about growing traffic congestion and we just laughed -- we were from NJ, after all, where they invented congestion. (And sprawl.) Besides which, we had just driven from the northern outskirts of Raleigh to our home in downtown Raleigh (Cameron Park) in something like 12 minutes flat. Congestion? Not so much. Sprawl, though. I soon came to understand that the planners in the region were working on a sprawl-congestion...

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