Diebold Rejected Again, This Time in Vance County

First it was Forsyth, now it is Vance. Two county election boards have turned down Diebold. Vance's concerns seem to be more with the lawsuits filed against the company for securities fraud and other litigation. From the Daily Dispatch (link):

Vance County's Board of Elections unanimously recommended the purchase Thursday of an optical-scan voting system from Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb.

That was partly because North Carolina elections officials eventually narrowed down the possible choices to four systems from two companies: ES&S and Diebold Election Systems of North Canton, Ohio. Each company offers an optical-scan and a direct-recording-electronic system that is certified by the state Board of Elections. (A third potential vendor, Sequoia, was denied permission this week to sell equipment in North Carolina, The News & Observer reported Thursday.)

Mixed Reports on Triangle Rail: Repubs Giving Up on Project While Dems and Agency Fight On

I was sad all today. First, I was finishing up a 24-hour take home exam for lawschool (imagine actually trying to sleep during an exam), and then I woke to news from Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr that the proposed Triangle Rail Line is dead. The Triangle Rail Line is a proposed rail track between downtown Raleigh and downtown Durham, running through the Research Triangle Park. The track is desperately needed in one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas without a light rail or subway, and relatedly an area with large congestion problems. In fact property prices in South Glenwood, where one of the stops will be, are going much faster than the rest of the city. The plan for funding the line was for the federal government to pick up a substantial portion of the tab (as they do with most rail projects). Dole had supported the project and federal funding of it in the past, but now appears to be saying that the project is dead since it has not qualified for Federal funds. From News 14 Carolina yesterday:

Meanwhile, Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr have issued a joint statement about the issue. Part of that statement reads, “We recognize that any transit project built with federal tax dollars must be thoroughly examined and rigorously reviewed to ensure established federal standards and goals are met. The rail project is likely not an option for the region. We therefore believe it is time for TTA to explore other possibilities."

I was bummed all day, and just because I forgot to not trust Dole or Burr. I had to wait until the end of the day to find out the truth.

This, Sadly, Was Predictable

Six of seven North Carolina Republicans in the US House voted against the McCain torture ban; Jones was the odd Republican who voted with all of NC's Democrats to outlaw "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" of people in US custody. Thankfully the bill sailed through the house by a vote of 308-112. President Bush has even been willing to stand up to Dick Cheney so that this bill can become law. I'm thinking that these NC Republicans will find that their challengers in 2006 won't let people forget that they voted for torture.

Everybody Loves Charles Taylor... In Russia

Ed Cone has the goods on the NC mountains' crookedest representative:

NC 11th district Congressman Charles Taylor, famed for his disappearing vote against CAFTA, has won a Golden Galaxy Award from the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for furthering economic relations between the two countries.

CJ IBL, Jr. 2 Ret.

Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake is retiring. That's not really news. I got to meet the Chief Justice a couple of times about two years ago, and I can honestly say that he was the sharpest 70-year-old I have ever met. He also seemed to be a very nice guy.

As Lake's wife, Susan, helped him remove his robe for reporters'
cameras, he jokingly recalled that, when he first became a judge,
the late Superior Court Judge James Pou Bailey advised him to buy a
robe without a zipper "so I could reach my pistol."

abc11tv.com: Chief Justice Lake Hears Final Cases

Jim Black Back to Questionable Behavior

Yesterday, Jim Black came out with a muted apology. Nothing specific that he did wrong, just "mistakes" (from Winston-Salem Journal):

"I have made some mistakes in judgment, and if I could do some things again, would do them differently," Black told reporters.

But in the same paper, it is revealed that Black spent money on criminal defense attorneys from his campaign fund. Again from the W-S Journal:

Diebold Rejected by Forsyth County Election Board

Apparently, Diebold can muscle through the State Board of Elections despite not following North Carolina law, but Forsyth County is able to stand up to them. Citing citizen concern over the accuracy of touch-screen voting, the Board chose an optical scan machine instead, which has a paper trail, less vulnerable to being hacked, and costs half as much incidently. The company anticipating the contract, Diebold. From the Winston-Salem Journal:

The Forsyth County Board of Elections decided yesterday to recommend that county commissioners buy voting machines that scan paper ballots instead of buying touch-screen machines that record votes electronically.

The board did recommend buying some electronic touch-screen machines but only for use at handicapped-accessible voting stations.

Odds of Getting By in NC 50%

From Yes! Weekly:

Half of North Carolina families with children don’t earn sufficient income to pay for basic expenses, according to a new report by the Raleigh-based NC Justice Center.

“Failing Jobs, Falling Wages: The 2005 North Carolina Living Income Standard,” authored by John Quinterno and Elizabeth Jordan and released on Dec. 8, found that a majority of North Carolina children, blacks, Hispanics and women — practically every demographic except white males — live in households where income falls short of the cost of living.

“What we’re finding is that families are carrying a heavier burden because childcare and housing costs are increasing,” Legislative Director Sorien Schmidt said. “Median incomes are falling and more families are in poverty.”

Duke Turns Its Back on Katrina Victims

Duke, like most universities, openned its doors to Katrina refugees early this year. Now it is telling them: "Do not let the door hit you on the way out." From the Duke Chronicle:

Twelve freshmen who matriculated at Duke after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina cannot apply to transfer to the University next semester, members of the administration confirmed Thursday.

The reason for this, these students did not fit under the current admission policy that does not allow freshmen to tranfer to Duke. And the administration would not change this policy for people that have had their lives destroyed by this national natural disaster:

Administrators said a revised policy would raise certain institutional concerns and would be unfair to other transfer students, among other complications and difficulties.

And this announcement came the same day that many of these students learned that there would barely be a university to return to:

The University’s confirmation was released on the same day that Tulane University announced that it will lay off 230 faculty members. Many of of the displaced freshmen—some of whom are from Tulane—said their home colleges will probably look very different than the schools to which they applied last fall.

Shame on Duke. Turning their backs on those that have lost everything. I have never been happier in my decision to attend UNC over Duke than this moment.

Dole Neglecting North Carolina?

This has been all over, so I will only post a brief quote from the Winston-Salem Journal:

According to the Report to the Secretary of the Senate, an expense report issued twice a year that details expenses by Senate offices, Dole made one trip to North Carolina during a six-month period, and Burr traveled home nearly every weekend.

Since Elizabeth Dole's strongest feature thus far as Senator has been ineptitude, maybe we should encourage her to stay away.

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