Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Blog Articles

Search Articles


After weeks of lobbing grenades – on video poker, eye exams and the teapot museum – at their fellow Democrats in the House the state Senate just lobbed one at Governor Easley.

For years, going back to the days of Governor Hunt, the governor has been chairman of the N.C. Progress Board which reports to the public on the state’s progress on education, the economy and the environment. But that may be about to change (Charlotte Observer, 06-11-06).

Democrats in the Senate have just passed legislation to strip the governor of his chairmanship and a quarter of his appointments to the board. Now whoever heard of a Democratic state Senate removing a Democratic governor as chairman of a state board? Watching the state Senate just gets more and more interesting.

Click to Read & Post Comments

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


Gas prices are rising again and gas tax revenues to the state are soaring but it appears some local officials – including Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker – are supporting toll roads in Wake County. The tolls would cost drivers $600 million to complete parts of the Triangle Parkway and I-540.

So now in Wake County we have school bonds, property tax increases and toll roads under consideration.

At the same time local government is spending an additional $9 million to operate a landfill because it did not take the low bid, $40 million for an underground parking garage, $20 million for a downtown hotel and taxpayers are still pouring money into the Triangle Transit Authority even after the authority itself admits is can not qualify for federal funding to put ‘Lite-Rail’ in the triangle.

No politician is ever likely to suggest raising taxes or charging a toll to pay for a downtown hotel. Instead they spend the ready cash on the hotel then propose to raise the taxes for school bonds and charge tolls to pay for roads.

Who do they think they are fooling?

Click to Read & Post Comments

Posted in: General, Raleigh
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


Last year, after seeking bids the state took its $171 million Medicaid billing contract – its biggest contract – away from EDS and gave it to rival ACS (both of Texas).

EDS sued and said among other things that the bids weren’t handled fairly and ACS couldn’t deliver what it promised. The state fought EDS tooth and nail and won.

Guess what?

Department of Health and Human Service Secretary, Carmen Hooker Odom, just told ACS she may “cancel the contract in 10 days because of missed deadlines.” The new computer system was supposed to be completed next month. Instead it is more than a year behind schedule (News and Observer, 06-07-06).

Worse, ACS wants another $42 million to finish the job. The state refused and now state officials say work on the system has suddenly slowed and “ACS has ceased to substantially perform its obligations.”

This is the company the state fought tooth and toenail to give the contract to.

ACS blames the state for the whole problem. According to them, “If they’re not approving documents, they’re causing a situation that is impossible…. If one party is keeping the other party from performing, the party that’s at fault has to pay damages.” Apparently ACS thinks a fair settlement would be for the state to pay it another $42 million and the state disagrees.

That sounds like a fertile breeding ground for another lawsuit.

So we have EDS still running the state Medicaid billing system and ACS building a new system that is a year (and $42 million) behind schedule. EDS has already sued the state and ACS may end up suing.

What more can happen?

Click to Read & Post Comments

Posted in: General
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


Republicans just held their bi-annual State Convention. I spoke to a friend who attended. He has been active in politics for years and he’s pretty glum about Republican chances in the election this fall. He’s looking at the national trends and remembering 1994, 1982, and 1974 when one party (Republicans in ’94 and Democrats in ’82 and ’74) swept the elections.

He shared his concern with a Party leader who said he was wrong, dead wrong, that there isn’t any question Republicans will gain seats in the Legislature this fall the only question is how many.

Maybe the ‘pay to play’ scandals are going to sweep Republicans into office in across the state November. But national trends are almost always more powerful – and have more impact on voters – than state trends. And right now Republican pollsters, nationally, are pretty nervous. They’re watching a tsunami building and they’re worried about it.

Of course, one of the intriguing facts about politics is trends can change in a heartbeat. But if a tsunami is heading Republicans’ way the solution is not to ignore it. If Republican candidates here in North Carolina are going to rise above the national trend they need to hold the Democrats accountable for the ‘pay to play’ scandals. But, so far it is the newspapers who are doing that not Republican legislators.

The House Democrats passed their version of ‘Reform’ to clean up the scandals. The Senate Democrats have said what they think is wrong with it. Now the House and Senate Republicans need to make their voices heard. The Republicans need to take the lead in this debate.

Click to Read & Post Comments

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


“Liberals hunt down heretics, while conservatives happily chase converts.”

Michael Kinsley, as quoted by Joe Klein

I don’t know whether Kinsley is right. It seems to me that right-wingers have spent a fair amount of time since 1964 hunting down heretics.

But I’m only concerned with us liberals – or progressives, or whatever we’re supposed to call ourselves these days.

Because we now have a new tool for tracking down and trashing heretics: the blogs.

Internet communication seems to bring out the worst in people.

If you thought Carter and I said ugly things back in the Hunt-Helms race in 1984, your ears and eyes would be burning if you read the ugly things said daily on blogs.

And they bring out the worst in liberals.

Ask Hillary Clinton. She’s so used to being bashed by liberal blogs that she didn’t go to the big bloggers’ bash in Las Vegas last week. She probably feels like the victim of a vast left-wing conspiracy.

The bloggers are a real force in Democratic politics today. Just what we need: one more interest group for our candidates to kowtow to.

After all, the bloggers made Howard Dean what he is today.

Click to Read & Post Comments

Posted in: General
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


A few days ago one of Gary’s friends, who supports Mayor Meeker, took the time to write Talking About Politics about a blog I did criticizing the mayor’s runaway spending. (See Gary’s blog 06/05/06.) Gary’s friend didn’t exactly defend the mayor’s spending (except for his Lite-Rail boondoggle). Instead he said politically it didn’t matter because Meeker’s most likely Republican opponent (he didn’t say who that is) in the next election voted for the same spending.

Well, yes, he’s right, if Democrats get to pick the Republican candidate who runs against Meeker that will solve the mayor’s problems politically. But what if Republicans nominate someone like Tom Fetzer?

Gary’s friend also disagreed with Gary (not with me), warning that Mayor Meeker has ignored parts of Raleigh “away from downtown.” But I don’t recall any Convention Centers, hotels, underground parking garages, five star restaurants or upscale supermarkets being funded with taxpayers’ money anywhere but downtown.

Finally, Gary’s friend says in the next election Republicans will be vulnerable after they vote for property tax increases instead of supporting a real increase in impact fees (the tax on new homes just went up 78%, but apparently that isn’t a ‘real’ increase to Mayor Meeker).

But Republicans haven’t voted to increase property taxes. So that’s a straw man too.

What Mayor Meeker’s supporters seem to be telling themselves is that Republicans will run a candidate against the mayor who supports all of Meeker’s runaway spending and wants to raise property taxes to boot. So Meeker’s a shoo-in to win reelection.

But how likely is it that Republicans will nominate a candidate to the left of Charles Meeker?

Click to Read & Post Comments

Posted in: General, Raleigh
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


Close counts in horseshoes, not politics. But it doesn’t bode well for immigrants.

That’s my reading of the special election for Duke Cunningham’s congressional seat, left vacant when the Dukester admitted to some impressive bribe-taking.

When the Republican candidate got in real trouble, he waved the bloody flag: keep out the immigrants.

He even attacked President Bush as soft on illegals.

It barely worked, but it worked.

With desperate Republicans all over the map, look for more of them to flog the illegal-immigrant issue.

How long will it take Robin Hayes and Charlie Taylor here in North Carolina?

Click to Read & Post Comments

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


The State House passed a ‘Reform’ bill to clean up government by limiting lobbyists’ gifts to legislators. How much good has it done?

The newspapers report spotting five legislators attending the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup finals.

According to the News and Observer (6-10-06) Democrat Representative Jim Harrell – who voluntarily signed a list to put lobbyists on notice not to give him gifts – watched the hockey game from a “suite leased to the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives.” Leaving aside the question of why the “Co-Ops” need to lease a suite at a hockey game the value of Harrell’s ticket is worth between $120 -$300.

How did Harrell reconcile this with his pledge not to take gifts? He says it isn’t a gift as defined by the House. Why? Because he only pledged not to take gifts that were dropped off at his legislative office. Harrell said: “The ticket was not.”

I’m not kidding.

I tried to think of one gift that could only be dropped off at his office. I couldn’t. Can you?

The News and Observer also reports Representatives Nelson Dollar (R), Phil Haire (D), and Ed McMahan (R), were invited to the suite (at least they did not sign the no gifts pledge). And the Winston-Salem Journal reports Representative Bonner Stiller was there too (Winston Salem Journal, 6-11-06).

Paul O’Connor, columnist for the Journal wrote he “asked Stiller if he’d paid for his ticket. He said, ‘Yeah, in my electric bill.’ Then he laughed.”

O’Connor continues: “I asked if he’d reimbursed the co-ops for the ticket. He didn’t answer. So I mentioned I’d seen him at a game a few nights earlier. And here’s the funny thing: He couldn’t recall whether he’d ever been in that seat before.”

O’Connor adds that Stiller voted to raise the limit on gifts legislators must report from $200 to $1,000. So, unless the Senate changes the House bill, Representative Stiller wouldn’t even have to report his tickets.

That’s the kind of job House Democrats have done to clean up the ‘pay to play’ scandals.

Maybe the next time the Hurricanes play the Republican Party ought to send a TV camera and shoot footage – not of the game but of the legislators. It might look fine in a television ad this fall.

Click to Read & Post Comments

Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


The School Board wants to pass a billion dollar bond and raise taxes, the City Manager wants to raise taxes, county officials say the county may have to raise taxes. So it’s puzzling the County Commissioners just voted not to award the contract to run a new landfill in Holly Springs to the lowest bidder.

Santek Environmental, which made the low bid, was recommended “by a committee of technical advisors, approved by a committee of town managers and recommended by county staffers” (News and Observer, 6/9/06). The County Commissioners ran roughshod over their recommendations and awarded the contract to Waste Industries even though its bid was “$9.4 million more expensive.”

Five County Commissioners voted for the more expensive contract, two voted against it (Kenn Gardner and Tony Gurley). Speaking for the majority, Commissioner Betty Lou Ward said, “With a company that’s here in town [Waste Industries], any time you have a problem you can sit down and have lunch with the CEO and work something out.”

That could turn out to be a $9.4 million lunch.

How can commissioners expect voters to approve school bonds and tax increases on one hand when they see commissioners spending an extra $9 million with the other?

Click to Read & Post Comments

Posted in: General, Raleigh
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |


This was the headline in The News & Observer Monday:

“Taxes, fees on the rise in Triangle.”

This is why progressive Democrats need to look before they leap.

The story added:

Raleigh gets a double whammy from the city and Wake County.”

This is where polls can fool you. A quick-and-dirty poll could lead you to think Raleigh voters are all for the various tax and fee increases being discussed – for schools, for city water and for city taxes.

But I saw something different in polls last year. Almost all the intensity of feeling was AGAINST taxes and spending.

If the City Council is not careful this year, it will gift-wrap a strategy for a less-progressive candidate next year. His message would be:

“School bonds. School taxes. Higher water fees. Higher garbage fees. Hundreds of millions of dollars downtown for a civic center, parking deck and hotel subsidy. A billion dollars for a light rail boondoggle. Had enough?

“It’s time somebody stood up to the big spenders in City Hall. Elect me and I’ll do it.”

It could work.

Click to Read & Post Comments

Posted in: Uncategorized
Actions: E-mail | Permalink | RSS comment feed |

Page 465 of 487« First...1020...464465466...470480...Last »
Carter & Gary
Carter Wrenn
Gary Pearce
The Charlotte Observer says: “Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But they both love North Carolina and know its politics inside and out.”
Carter is a Republican. 
Gary is a Democrat.
They met in 1984, during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Carter worked for Helms and Gary, for Hunt.
Years later, they became friends. They even worked together on some nonpolitical clients.
They enjoy talking about politics. So they started this blog in 2005. 
They’re still talking. And they invite you to join the conversation.
Follow Gary

Follow Carter


Order The Book


Carter's Book!

Purchase Carter's Book:

Spirits of the Air

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Copyright (c) Talking About Politics   :   Terms Of Use   :   Privacy Statement