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Friday, September 26, 2008

Probation office needs more help, say Durham officials

Posted by on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 6:45 PM

The News & Observer reports that Durham city and county officials are asking the state for help in light of news that Durham probation officers have lost track of 861 of the 4,161 probationers assigned to their office.

In a letter sent to earlier this week to the state Department of Correction, Ellen Reckhow, chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners and Howard Clement of the Durham City Council ask that a significant portion of the $2.5 million recently added to probation system's budget be allocated for Durham.

"We are the poster child for what is wrong in probation" said Reckhow when reached by phone earlier today. "What we were trying to do is let the state know that if anyone office needs added resources, it's Durham."

The letter describes a recent meeting of the crime cabinet where John Lee, interim director of the Durham probation office, revealed that 20 percent of the office's assigned probationers have "absconded," or failed to check in for at least one month.

That, says Reckhow, is nearly double the national rate.

Lee also that he is having trouble filling the office's nine vacancies, citing probation officer's starting salary and the heavier than recommended workload.

Starting salary for probation officers is $30,000.

Officials won't learn how the $2.5 million will actually be allocated until after the legislature reviews an ongoing National Instititute of Corrections study of the state system.

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Farewell, What's Up

Posted by on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 2:21 PM

Today's issue of The News & Observer's pullout weekend preview section is the last. Beginning next week, its content -- movie, music, and TV coverage, as well as Greg Cox's restaurant reviews -- will be folded into a Weekend section.

The farewell What's Up cover is a collection of 15 covers from the section's 15 years. (Unfortunately, the cover image does not seem to be available on the newspaper's web site.) Inside there is a look back at the film, TV and music hits from its inaugural week in 1993, as well as a comparison of dining options from then and now.

There's also a brief note from the editors of the Weekend and Features sections. "We loved What's Up, but we think we can love Weekend, too."

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"Worst crisis since WWII" is over, so McCain will debate

Posted by on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 12:23 PM

McCain suspended his campaign, and called for tonight's debate with Obama to be postponed, because he was needed in Washington to solve the worst crisis since World War II. Whew! Crisis averted, because McCain's debatin' after all. Even though there's no deal yet ... and if there's "significant progress" toward one, as McCain just said, it's gotta be pretty much the same deal McCain and the House Republicans walked away from last night.

Have to say, I thought McCain was setting himself up to: 1) oppose "this $700 billion giveaway" of taxpayer money, and 2) skip the debate on grounds that he needed to stay in Washington to talk sense into Bush and the  congressional Democratic leadership. You know, maverick-style? (Maybe Palin could've worked on the Alaska delegation.) Saving the republic from "elitists" like Henry Paulson and, uh, Barack Obama.

Instead, he seems to have signed onto the same deal that was on the table before he ever got to Washington to heed the clarion call: "All hands on deck."

No guts, no glory.

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PPP: Dems up in Wake County

Posted by on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 11:46 AM

Public Policy Polling finds the three Democratic candidates ahead by 10-15 points over their Republican opponents in the Wake County Commissioners race. The one Democrat who's a challenger, Stan Norwalk, leads incumbent Republican Kenn Gardner by 10 -- and by 23 among the minority of voters aware of Gardner's swimming pool issues.

In the big-league races, Democrats Obama, Hagan and Perdue lead in Wake by 17, 19 and 9 points, respectively, PPP finds. Remember, Bush carried Wake County in '04.

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McCain to the rescue

Posted by on Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 10:25 AM

John McCain and House Republicans combined to blow up a tentative deal on the Wall Street bailout. The White House, Senate and House Democrats, and Senate Republicans were in, apparently -- for better or worse. As was Barack Obama.

Think Wall Street (and your favorite big bank) desperately needs liquidity? Then McCain's playing with a four-alarm fire. (Not to mention your pension.) Think it's all hokum and taxpayer money down the drain? Then McCain's your hero. But remember what progressive economist Dean Baker said in Raleigh Tuesday: Done correctly, the $700 billion "bailout" shouldn't cost the taxpayers a dime in the long run. (Update: Paul Krugman's not up, either, for seeing if the McCain side is right.

McCain's got no plan of his own, but does seem to have signed his name to the napkin that describes the House GOP plan: No capital gains taxes for two years and mortgage insurance (by AIG?) for these under-performing loans. But gang, insure them at what value?

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

CRL says: Bailout must also stop foreclosures

Posted by on Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 4:42 PM

From the Center for Responsible Lending, a primer on what the $700 billion bailout should include about actual housing loans and the people who've got 'em. In addition, of course, to bailing out the banks that bought the securitized pieces of those very same loans.

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Dept. of Nonsense: 'Obsession' backers not trying to influence election

Posted by on Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 4:21 PM

The folks who brought you the Obsession DVD--I mean besides The News & Observer-- told Talking Points Memo that the shameless distribution of their propaganda--the week of 9/11, during a heated election season, in swing states-- was not intended to influence voters. See the Indy's coverage here.

No, the cloak-and-dagger, uber-right Clarion Fund paid big bucks to put the rabidly anti-Muslim flick as ad content in newspapers (and released it via other avenues) as part of an "educational campaign" and to get reporters' attention.

Uh yeah, to gain the attention of reporters. That's why  Allah, God or (insert your favorite deity here) made press releases, email, the telephone and other communication devices (but not the Blackberry; McCain invented that) often used to contact journalists.

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Mall restricts minors

Posted by on Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 3:41 PM

Fallout from the July brawl at the Triangle Town Center continued this week as officials announced that the Raleigh mall will restrict unaccompanied minors on Fridays and Saturdays after 5p.m., reports the News & Observer.

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Dead deer dumped in Moeser's yard; his job to get'em to the curb

Posted by on Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 3:37 PM

Two deer that had apparently been shot to death were dumped in the yard of former UNC Chancellor James Moeser, reports the Daily Tar Heel. While it's open season to hunt deer with a bow and arrow--happening now in Duke Forest--it is illegal to hunt deer with guns at this time of year,

To Moeser's disappointment, the Town of Chapel Hill picks up dead animals only from the curb, so he had to hire a private firm to remove them.

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Financial crisis preventing Durham and Wake from selling bonds

Posted by on Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 2:21 PM

Today, the N&O reports on Durham County's recent failure to sell $30 million in bonds, and Wake County's decision to delay the sale of over $450 million in bonds, due to a lack of faith in the credit market. Durham County Manager Mike Ruffin is quoted as saying he plans to split up the sale of $130 million in bonds, which the county is seeking to replace the downtown courthouse with a justice center. The $30 million bond failed to attract a single bid, despite Durham County's high credit rating. Looking for a silver lining? From the N&O:

On the bright side, when the turmoil on Wall Street eases, banks will look to lend first to institutions with the highest credit ratings.

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