Wake County Growth Task Force Begins Hearings

The N&O has an interesting story on the task force that is trying to bring Wake County smoothly into its next stage of growth here. The group is basically a collection of business and political leaders that will talk about the growth issues including what to spend money on and then issue a report.

Apparently the mass of random sprawl method that we have been using thus far will not work in the future. I am a little hesitant about the results given this area's attitude about land use, but talking about the issues that we face

Sue Myrick has Some Splainin to Do

[As they say: Developing... --Lance]

Well, well, well if sweet Sue hasn't just ruined her chance of making it to the Governor's mansion. It seems that Sue signed a letter for Jack Abramoff urging the Bush administration to reject a Louisiana Indian casino back in February 2002. During the following two years she accepted about $2000 in contributions from Indian tribes that were rivals of the Louisiana tribe.

This doesn't mean that Myrick was necessarily accepting a bribe, but I'm having trouble believing that Sue Myrick would sign this letter for the helluvit especially since Indian tribes in North Carolina have their own little gambling thing going. Have you ever heard of Harrahs in Cherokee, N.C.? Why would Sue have a problem with any other tribe having gambling facilities, especially one in a state so far away?

Black Backs the Bad Guys

Jim Black (D),leader of the NC House, apparently finds it near impossible to stay out of trouble. While Atty. General Roy Cooper (D) was trying to shut down "payday lenders", Black and another NC House Democrat were taking more than $10,000 each from the lenders.

In case you didn't know, a payday lender is the same as a check-cashing service is the same as a legal loanshark. You bring them proof that you've got a job, and they'll give you a 30-day loan to cover you until your next paycheck. The problem is the interest rate. If you annualize the interest you pay on the short-term loan, the rates are outrageous -- I've heard 200% to 400%. Paying this kind of interest while pre-spending your next paycheck is a quick way into bankruptcy for many. Meanwhile, many banks and credit unions quietly offer the same service at much more reasonable rates. "Payday" = predatory.

Richard Moore Campaigning for Governor: Calls for Increase in Minimum Wage

Democratic State Treasurer Richard Moore is beginning to signal that the unofficial race to replace Mike Easley is already started. The issue he is pushing right now is an increase in the minimum wage. From the Charlotte Observer:

At a luncheon packed with bankers and businesspeople, Moore said the minimum wage is worth less than in 1997, when adjusted for inflation, and said an increase would help more than 100,000 N.C. workers.

"North Carolinians who work hard and play by the rules should be able to make ends meet," Moore told the audience at an economic forum hosted by the N.C. Bankers Association and N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry.

A Dollar is a Start

State Treasurer (and likely gubernatorial candidate) Richard Moore is calling for a $1 increase in North Carolina's minimum wage. (A little quick math: $5.15 x 40hours = $206 a week; throw in a little vacation and that's $10,300 a year; does anyone really think that's enough to live on, much less raise a family on?)

Moore made the call at a meeting of the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, a pro-business lobbying group that styles itself the state chamber of commerce. What's the word for that: chutzpah? meshuggener? Or is Moore's read of the land that NC businesses are ready to support a modest minimum wage increase? Stay tuned...

Oh six

There's nothing like a trek through the Andes to get help you get your head on straight. That's where I've been over the past ten days. No internet. No phones. No news. No Bush. No lottery. No war. No North Carolina.

It was a blessed break from all of the things that have come to occupy my life and my mind 24/7 for the past few years.

Most of my Peruvian encounters involved people living on the edge . . . in conditions we'd all consider intolerable. Outdoor toilets, cooking with wood, eating guinea pigs that scurry around the kitchen. Moving rocks, digging holes, planting potatoes and corn. Herding llamas.

Study on Economic Impact of Hispanics in North Carolina

With all the huffing and puffing about the services that we need to pay for immigrants in North Carolina, which around here really means that there are too many "Mexicans", we should remember that Hispanic individuals greatly contribute to our economy. In fact, a recent UNC study pegs their impact at $9 billion and growing. From the Triangle Business Journal:

North Carolina's growing Hispanic population contributes more than $9 billion each year to the state's economy, a figure that could double by 2009 if current trends continue, according to results of a recent study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Finally Some Sensible Reporting on the Gas Tax

There has been a lot of excited talk about the horrible oppression of the 2.8 cent increase in the tax on each gallon of gasoline. The media has been reporting ad nauseum on the possibility of a special session that will address the increase. The increase was not brought about by any legislation but the fact that the tax is a percentage of gas prices. Since prices spiked in the last six months, the tax "increased". Finally, the N&O is asking the relevant question:

How bad is your gas pain?

Military Abandoning Bush

Does this mean that the troops hate freedom? From the Military Times:

Support for President Bush and for the war in Iraq has slipped significantly in the last year among members of the military’s professional core, according to the 2005 Military Times Poll.

Approval of the president’s Iraq policy fell 9 percentage points from 2004; a bare majority, 54 percent, now say they view his performance on Iraq as favorable. Support for his overall performance fell 11 points, to 60 percent, among active-duty readers
of the Military Times newspapers. Though support both for President Bush and for the war in Iraq remains significantly higher than in the public as a whole, the drop is likely to add further fuel to the heated debate over Iraq policy. In 2003 and 2004, supporters of the war in Iraq pointed to high approval ratings in the Military Times Poll as a signal that military members were behind President Bush’s the president’s policy.

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