Deuce Niven of the Tabor-Loris Tribune has been one of the most diligent reporters on the R.C. Soles beat, with his stories also running in the Brunswick Beacon and Fayetteville Observer. Here’s his wrap of the Soles retirement decision, including a sit-down with the state’s longest-serving senator. A key passage:
Soles’ district, the eighth, includes Brunswick and Pender counties, with the lion’s share of the population in Brunswick. New residents in both Brunswick and Pender have changed the political landscape, voting heavily Republican. Soles conceded that Columbus County’s next senator could well be a member of the GOP from Brunswick County.
“I spent 42 years building a following in my district, including in Brunswick County,” Soles said. “But so many people have moved from other areas who have never heard of me, and they’ve always voted Republican, and that’s made it tough.”
Soles said he probably spent about $10,000 in one of his early senate campaigns. In his 2008 re-election effort, Soles spent $839,500.
“I hate to say it, but I spent about $600,000 of my own money,” Soles said. “It’s hard to justify that for a $13,000 a year job. I’ve put a lot of miles on cars, and spent a lot of money on hotels while the legislature has been in session.”
Soles said another campaign in 2010 would be tough, expensive, but winnable. “If I wanted to spend the time and the money, it wouldn’t be easy, but I would win,” Soles said.
Uh-huh. Not buying it.
Meanwhile, WWAY offers a handy summary of its long-running investigation of Soles’ personal and political dealings. It began in August 2008. The new summary piece includes the now-classic “I cannot hear you” interview with Soles after the initial allegations involving “Frog” Strickland.Read full article » No Comments »
Longtime state Sen. R.C. Soles of Columbus County will not seek reelection in 2010.
Some still appear to be surprised, meaning that they haven’t yet learned to see through his act. To the rest of us, it’s been transparent for months, at least.
By the way, this is good news for state Democrats. They needed a stronger candidate without so much baggage in a district whose population has become steadily more Republican-leaning. Will they get it in former Rep. David Redwine of Brunswick County? Expect more news shortly.Read full article » No Comments »
I’ll just take this moment to thank all of you for reading the John Locke Foundation’s Wilmington-area blog during 2009. It’s been a remarkable and often turbulent year, with plenty of local issues and controversies to keep us busy. The coming year promises to be no less exciting. A continuing employment recession and pending prosecutions of area politicians will top the list of stories, I suspect, as will the fact that as many as four area House and Senate seats will be up for grabs in the battle to control the General Assembly for the pivotal 2011 redistricting session.
Squall Lines continued to attract a growing audience during 2009. Average monthly visitors rose by more than a third. Many thousands of residents of New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick, Columbus, Onslow, and neighboring counties are reading the blog every month. I’m glad that you are among them.Read full article » No Comments »
The Jacksonville Daily News is one of the news organizations picking up on the declining fortunes of the global-warming alarmists:
In a mere half year, much has changed. There was Climategate, the controversy over leaked documents from the U.K.’s East Anglia University Climate Research Center that appear to show climate scientists blackballed dissenting views while manipulating and perhaps destroying data to make a case that global warming was occurring at an alarming rate.
Then there was the Copenhagen climate summit fiasco this month where 193 nations had hoped to agree on worldwide greenhouse gas emission curbs. The summit fizzled when only a handful of major nations agreed only to keep working independently to cut their own emissions but without enforcement guarantees. . .
More recently, a Russian think tank alleged temperature data from that nation used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was cherry-picked, grossly inflating readings for nearly half a century. Russians called for a complete re-evaluation of the global temperature record, upon which the global warming theory is based.
Moderate Democrats may fear voter backlash if they approve another sweeping government program, effectively imposing higher energy prices. They may fear voters more than the lobbying clout of environmental groups and utilities backing the cap-and-trade scheme, which would give the government power to artificially create a “market” for carbon emission allowances that companies could buy and sell.
For more, check this out.Read full article » No Comments »
Willard Killough, managing editor of the Carolina Beach Island Gazette, is none too pleased about the backroom deals that ended the U.S. Senate debate on health care:
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I fall into the lower bracket of the healthcare reform program, so I’d theoretically get some help on the insurance front. But even then, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
At this point, it could be the best 2,100 pages of legislation ever scripted and both parties could unanimously agree to it, and it would still smell like a pile of crap because of the backroom deals. Bills should be adopted with equal treatment for states in mind. In this case, the scales are tipped in favor of a few who get perks because that’s what the party needed to get their bill passed.
The StarNews investigation of local ABC systems has led to statewide scrutiny and promises of reform from Senate leader Marc Basnight and other state officials. The upshot:
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In a phone interview with the StarNews, Basnight said he has not yet reviewed the ABC system but plans to.
“You have to find out why and what is occurring and what is the justification for very high salaries, particularly in times like this when most businesses, or many, are cutting back and actually in some situations are reducing salaries,” he said.
Basnight said it was too early to say what kind of reform might come to the system but said it cannot continue as is.
“Obviously we have given too much independence with little or no oversight by the local governments. A change will occur,” he said.
The StarNews updates previous reporting on the race to replace Julia Boseman in the 9th Senate district. We already know that Thom Goolsby and Michael Lee will face off in the Republican primary. What’s still unclear is who will get into the Democratic field:
The proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room is Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, who hasn’t formally ruled out a run for state office even though he was just elected mayor of Wilmington for a second full term in November.
Jim Leutze, former chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, said he also is interested in the soon-to-be-vacant senate seat. “If no other strong candidate emerges, I would consider running,” he said on Tuesday.
Also, Democrat Bill Cameron confirms talk of a candidacy but indicates no immediate interest, while Rep. Danny McComas takes himself out of the GOP running.Read full article » No Comments »
WWAY is reporting another development in the R.C. Soles investigation — prosecutors are looking at evidence of witness tampering:
Sources tell WWAY, two of the people involved in the shooting at the Senator’s house have been spotted following him around Tabor City.
A Columbus County grand jury has asked prosecutors to seek an indictment on Soles for assault with a deadly weapon for shooting 22 year old Kyle Blackburn. The shooting happened in August.
Over the past few days, Blackburn and his girlfriend Jessica Nealy have been spotted loitering outside of the Senator’s office. Tabor City police found Blackburn and Nealy hiding in the woods near the office on Friday. The couple told police that they wanted to talk to the Senator, and were hiding because they didn’t want the media to see them.
The other witness to the shooting, BJ Wright, has been living just across the state line in Loris, South Carolina. Wright doesn’t have a job, but recently built a fence around his property that reportedly cost $8,000.
Sources also tell us Wright has been spending a great deal of money on furniture. Soles has given Wright thousands of dollars in the past.
Soles just can’t seem to help himself. If this is true, he either felt so desperate to change their stories that he was willing to take additional risk, or for some other reason he has become incapable of managing his own affairs.Read full article » No Comments »
This is good news. New Hanover Regional Medical Center has relaxed its rules governing midwives, allowing them to deliver babies without insisting that a physician always be on hand. From the Greater Wilmington Business Journal story:
The obstetrics department staff decided to re-write the rule after months of lobbying from local midwife advocates. Advocates argued that the former policy added an unnecessary strain on physicians by requiring them to be physically at the hospital while a midwife was delivering her patient’s baby.
Most North Carolina hospitals, including UNC Chapel Hill and Duke Medical Center do not have such a requirement.
Overly restrictive occupational licensing and practice rules are one source of skyrocketing medical costs. Allowing medical providers to compete, not just within but across professional categories, is in the best interest of patients in the long run. I wrote about the larger point recently for Carolina Journal:
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One of the clearest differences between the American health care system and that of many other countries in the industrialized world – both those with government-run health insurance monopolies and those with a market-based system – is that doctors in the U.S. enjoy far larger average salaries.
Some activists and politicians believe that the proper response is for the government to regulate the compensation of physicians, ration patient access to physicians by rule rather than price, or otherwise pull the average salary of American docs ($146,000 for general practitioners and $271,000 for specialists) down to that of, say, France (about $55,000). But I don’t think the American people want some federal bureaucrat deciding how much doctors should be paid, or whether you can see your doctor in the first place. They’re right.
A better response is to give American patients more information and more choices. If they choose to take themselves or their children to lower-cost providers for initial care – say, at a walk-up retail clinic – they should be able to do that. Similarly, organizations such as hospitals, clinics, and medical practices should be free to substitute nurses and other providers for physicians when the expected benefits exceed the predicted costs.
Boy, the Jacksonville Daily News surely has it right when discussing the source of Mike and Mary Easley’s legal problems: their own poor judgment:
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How much kinder history would have been to the Easleys post-retirement if Mary Easley had used her excellent skills as an attorney to find a job on her own. No university-created position, no superstar salary, no college administrators losing their jobs because of their involvement in the whole mess — just a plain, simple job hunt, the kind everyone else faces at some point in their lives.
Sure, we recognize that networking and using connections to find jobs is common practice, but if a government official is involved, what are common practices in the private sector can quickly descend into the unacceptable arena of influence-peddling.
When a businessman gives a job to the son of a friend, he’s hiring that individual at his own risk and paying him out of his own pocket. When a government official hires someone because he or she is in or connected to someone in a position of power, the risk attaches to the taxpayer and so does the final bill. That’s neither sporting, nor in the best interests of the citizens of North Carolina.