Update 2/22: Democratic sigs on the pro-public option letter now up to 19 with Sen. Specter, D-PA. Not surprising, since Specter has a tough primary and election ahead and the public option is popular. Still no Hagan, however. (And Menendez, D-NJ, makes 20.) I sent a query to Sen. Hagan's office Friday afternoon asking for her position and/or comment on the letter. No response as yet. Here's Ezra Klein on "the strange politics of the public option" -- i.e., people want it, the Democrats want to be the party of the people, and yet ...)
All right, I'll bite. Four senators signed a letter to Harry Reid, and then four more did, and ... now it's up to 17 with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. But that list of 17 does not include our own Sen. Kay Hagan as yet. BlueNC is on her case, and the Progressive Pulse is copying BlueNC, and what the heck, so will I, even though it's probably whistling in the graveyard where health care reform is concerned. Except that --
Imho, the public's support for health care reform, and their faith in the Democrats, evaporated at the moment when the one part of the bill they understood the best -- the public option -- was deep-sixed in the Senate. Up to that point, people could be assured that, yes, they were going to be required to buy health insurance; and yes, the insurance products in the market are overpriced and full of loopholes; but the saving grace would be that a public product ("option") would also be offered. And it would be at least as good as, and -- unless the Blue Crosses got with it and cut their rates -- significantly cheaper, than the alternatives. So maybe HCR wouldn't be perfect, or even good. But at least it would improve on the status quo.
In other words, all that complicated stuff in the 2,000-page bill that the lobbyists wrote? Our only protection against it was the one page where it said, if all else fails, we'll offer you an insurance option modeled on Medicare, which everybody likes.
And then Obama and the Dems ditched it to get Joe (I'm the insurance industry's senator) Lieberman's vote and some phantom Republicans.
Oops, no Republicans, and they managed to lose Ted Kennedy's seat in the bargain.
So now, the only way to pass an HCR bill is with 50 Democrats plus VP Biden plus some of these. And the surest way to convince the public that the Democrats aren't just passing a load of crap is to put the g**d%$#'d public option back in the bill. Which will also signal the world that the Cowardly Dems have visited the Wizard and found their Courage.
Kay's Washington office:
WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE
521 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The N.C. GOP's Fourth Congressional District Executive Committee has distanced itself from Republican congressional candidate George Hutchins, whose dubious racial views threaten to damage the party. The committee forwarded the Indy a press release from last fall in which the party urges him not to run for the nomination for the district. Read it here: 4thdistrictgopstatespositionongeorgehutchins
However, Hutchins apparently ignored the party's pleas: He is among four Republicans running, in hopes of dethroning longtime incumbent and Democrat U.S. Rep. David Price in November.
B.J. Lawson, Frank Roche and David Burnett are also seeking the GOP nomination.
The Indy reported on the candidates this week, noting Hutchins' extremist views, including connections with the National Independents Movement. N.I.M. was founded in Germany and on its website states it supports "research into the traditions and history of our northwest European heritage"—which could be considered code for white supremacism.
His campaign website features photos of him taken with former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole. He claims to have worked on her campaign and that of Republican gubernatorial candidate Fred Smith.
WRAL, which streamed the Innocence Inquiry Commission's hearing today, has the report. A three-judge panel:
... unanimously voted in Gregory Taylor's favor Wednesday, making him the first person in the state's history to be exonerated because of involvement by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission – the only state-run agency in the country that investigates post-conviction claims of innocence.
Durham's El Centro Hispano plans to open its Orange County branch on April 1 in Carrboro Plaza, though they are yet to secure a lease, leaders said in both Spanish and English at the Seymour Center on Tuesday.
The group hopes to bring financial stability, consistent leadership and a successful service and funding model to Carrboro after El Centro Latino closed in November, leaving a hole in translation, job finding, after school and legal services for Spanish speakers.
"There are no guarantees. We are out on a limb," El Centro Hispano Board Chairwoman Susan Denman said. "It’s because we support what Carrboro and Chapel Hill have been doing, and we have faith in the foundation the board has laid."
More than 100 community members, some former volunteers or members of churches that supported El Centro Latino, attended the meeting during which El Centro Hispano outlined its plans for Orange County and pinned for support.
Democracy NC and N.C. Justice Center tell us so. It was going to be tomorrow (Saturday). Now, it's reset for Saturday, Feb. 27. Reason: Bad weather's comin'.
More than 60 percent of Chatham County residents work outside of the county; transportation is a crucial aspect to a quality of life in the rural county.
In that spirit, on Feb. 1, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a new Transportation Advisory Board and is seeking applicants to serve on the volunteer board.
The board will have 11 voting members representing the county's five commissioner districts; each member will serve four-year terms.
The board will be comprised of at least one member having knowledge of the following transportation groups:
Non-motorized transportation, such as bicycling and walking
Public transportation, such as transit systems
Personal motor vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles
Large, slow-moving or commercial vehicles, including agricultural and commercial product transport
Transportation & the economy
Transportation & the environment
Transportation & society (community)
“This is a critical issue for Chatham County because we have so many residents who commute long distances to work or school and who live in remote areas with few transportation options,” says Sally Kost chairwoman of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, in a press release.
The board's stated purpose is to identify and study issues regarding transportation and related issues. Long-term goals include creating a sustainable transportation system that offers access other modes of transportation.
Interested residents can apply online: http://www.chathamnc.org/Index.aspx?page=1323, until March 26, 2010 at 5 p.m. The board of commissioners will review applications and make appointments in April.
State Rep. Rosa Gill, who replaced Dan Blue in state House District 33 (East Raleigh, part of eastern Wake) when Blue moved to the Senate to replace the late Vernon Malone, has filed to run for election in own right.
The Wake Democratic Party picked Gill, a 10-year veteran of the Wake school board, over Bernard Allen II when Blue vacated the House seat. Allen is challenging her in the primary; his father held this seat at one time.
The only other notable filing of the day: Robert "Champ" Claris, whose nickname we covet, filed to run in the Republican primary for the District 2 Wake Commissioners seat. Claris ran last year for the Raleigh City Council but didn't scratch. He'll go against Garner Council member Phil Matthews and Phil Jeffreys, a former county commissioner. The seat is held by Democrat Lindy Brown, who is running again but has yet to file.
It's a slow news day down at the Orange County Board of Elections with only two candidates filing for office. N.C. Speaker of the House Joe Hackney surprised no one by declaring his intent to run for a 16th term. Newcomer Renee Price signed up to run against fellow challenger Earl McKee for a county commissioner seat in district two.
"We've had a quiet day," said Tracy Reams, Orange County Board of Elections chairwoman. "We're hoping to get some more candidates in here. I think when you have races that are opposed, more people feel like their vote matters."
State Sen. Josh Stein, a Democrat whose 16th district covers the western portions of Raleigh and much of western Wake County, filed for a second term today. So far, he's unopposed.
“I hope to continue serving my constituents in Wake County,” said Stein. “In this economy, job creation must be our top priority. We must also lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth by supporting our public K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities.”
In his first term as Senator, Stein received awards and recognition for his efforts on a variety of issues. For his efforts to create clean energy jobs and to extend the renewable energy tax credit, the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association named Stein its 2009 Legislator of the Year.
The AARP selected Stein its Legislator of the Year for his steadfast work as a consumer advocate, particularly on behalf of senior citizens, with his legislation to strengthen the state’s identity theft law and to establish a financial literacy council. Stein also received awards from the Metro Mayors’ Association for his work on transit and transportation issues and WakeUp Wake County for his legislation to clean Falls Lake.
Stein serves as vice-chairman of the Judiciary I committee and serves on the Commerce and Finance Committees, among other committee and commission assignments. He had the 3rd highest percentage of public bills enacted into law among all 50 Senators from across the state.
“It is an honor to serve as State Senator. I look forward to working with legislative colleagues to make the critical investments needed to get our economy moving forward again,” Stein said.
UNC burned 104,586.00 tons of coal at its cogeneration plan in 2009, public records show.
During the past five years, they've used 568.703 tons of coal purchased from eight mines all in Virginia or Kentucky.
You can access the data here. Next week's Indy will feature an analysis of the mines and their practices.
Regina Stabile, director of institutional records and reporting compliance, filled our public records request Wednesday, the same day that our story on UNC coal use hit the stands. The request, which asked for the amount and cost of coal used each year since 2005 along with the name and location of the mines, was filed Jan. 29.