Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twitter rant

So, I was reading an article about Garry Trudeau and his twitter habit.

I encourage you to check out the entire article. Trudeau is the brains behind the Doonesbury comic strip. His twitter account is essentially a character from the comic strip as I understand it. Anyway, a media website interviewed him about using twitter.

For some reason the reporter asked Trudeau if he thinks "tvnewsers" are providing worthwhile tweets.

" None that I can find. Some reporters inoffensively tweet links to a broadcast, column or blog they've produced; they likely don't even do it themselves and they never respond to follower replies."

He goes on to say, "but in general the most baffling are the reporters who solicit their followers for questions before interviews. Please. You're supposed to be professionals. Do pilots and surgeons ask for suggestions? If you can't think of a few good questions, you and your producer are in the wrong business. It's not about getting fresh, out-of-the-bubble perspectives, as they would argue: most questions sent in are obvious or inane. It's really about flattering the followers, populist pandering."

This reporter is one of those "tvnewsers" that ask for questions. Frankly, it baffles me how a cartoonist is qualified to give expert opinions about our business. That aside, it's ludicrous for someone to be a part of social media that doesn't think interaction is important.

How often are we (news business) ridiculed for not being connected to our viewers and not understanding what they really want. So, when we ask for their input we are then criticized? In any profession, collaboration is typically the best way to find success.

I am the sole producer and host for my political show. I can read about a topic until I'm blue in the face but someone may have a great question that has actually lived through it. People are raised and educated in many different ways and can give different perspectives to different issues. One person cannot simply come up with all the perfect questions. Collaboration makes any project better. That doesn't make me unprofessional. It makes me thorough and it helps engage our viewers and encourages them to participate and watch. You don't think surgeons collaborate on finding better ways to operate and perform better? You don't think they use feedback from patients to do their jobs better? I think we know the answer to that question.

By disregarding viewer questions we are basically saying they aren't smart enough to ask smart, tough questions. That's ignorant and a big reason why viewers are not watching tv news, giving up newspaper/magazine subscriptions, etc. Too many people in the media think we are smarter than our viewers. In some cases we are, but in many cases we are not. We just have better access to the people who have the answers.

The bottom line is it's a way to interact with a new generation of viewers on a new and extremely popular platform. Even if it's not incredibly useful in a broad sense yet, it's definitely not harmful. This is new. Am I making mistakes and learning how to use this new tool? Absolutely. It's all a learning experience but at least I'm trying to learn, adapt, survive, and thrive in a changing world of journalism.

I don't know Mr. Trudeau and he's obviously a very successful man. I would like to know if he's ever received an idea for one of his cartoons from someone else that he's used in a comic strip. If he did, that sure would be unprofessional, wouldn't it?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Political Connections this weekend

Check out Political Connections this weekend on News 14 Carolina. 6pm tonight and 11am Sunday morning.

This week we welcome Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton into the studio. He talks about what he thinks his role is as Lt. Gov. and if he thinks the position should have more power.

We also talk about his "pet" projects for the rest of his term. I also ask him about the Senate budget and his thoughts on the "closed door" process many are accusing Senate leaders of holding. Dalton used to be one of the chief budget writers.

Later in the show we talk with Barry Fadem who heads up the nationwide group, National Popular Vote. Lawmakers recently filed a bill here in North Carolina related to the issue. Should popular vote replace electoral college?

Check it out this weekend and thanks as always for watching!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sex ed changes coming?

With the economy hurting, it's not getting a huge amount of attention but changes to sex ed in schools could be on the way.

The legislation, known as the Healthy Choice Act, making its way through the North Carolina General Assembly centers around choice. It allows parents to pick the existing program that focuses on abstinence only, one that includes contraception, or no sex education at all. North Carolina currently stresses abstinence.

Critics of the plan say the changes would devalue marriage. Supporters say too many kids are already having sex and need accurate information to protect themselves.

23 states require abstinence be stressed in the sex ed program. 14 states require programs to cover contraception as well. Virginia and South Carolina cover contraception while Tennessee does not. Check out a more detailed report here including HIV education information.

A 2004 report criticized the abstinence only programs nationwide for teaching a "fear based" curriculum that simply doesn't work.

However supporters of abstinence only programs strongly believe the opposite. They believe it helps teach teens how to have healthy and safe relationships. Here's a good op-ed from that view if you're interested.

The House tentatively passed the three track sex ed program on Wednesday by a 64-53 margin. A final vote is likely on Thursday. It then heads to the Senate.

What do you think about it? Comment below or email me at

Friday, April 10, 2009

BCBS vs. SEANC 2ngt!!

Hey everyone!

Don't miss a great chance to dig deep into the controversy surrounding the state health plan. Blue Cross Blue Shield's COO Brad Wilson and State Employee Association Executive Director Dana Cope join me in studio.

It's a very complicated issue and I think it's a great opportunity to understand it. There's little the two men agree on but you definitely know how they feel by the time the show ends!

It's at 6pm tonight and Sunday 11am on Political Connections only on News 14 Carolina.

Have a great holiday weekend and watch out for potential storms tonight and into the morning.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tar Heel trophy!!

We had the pleasure of having the 2009 NCAA men's basketball championship trophy in our studio today. Of course, it's now a possession of UNC after the Tar Heel victory Monday night.

If you're wondering why it doesn't look like the one you saw on Monday night that's because it's not the same trophy. The one players were holding is the NCAA trophy. This trophy you see here is the one for finishing #1 in the polls essentially. The 2005 trophy sits in Roy Williams office. It's made of Waterford crystal and will end up somewhere in the Dean Dome. Charlie Green from the National Association of Basketball Coaches is touring with the trophy this weekend. In fact you can get your picture taken with it this weekend at a couple different Verizon stores. Check out our website for specific details.

It was pretty cool to see and get my picture taken since I'm a huge college basketball fan too!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yes, I wear pants

So, last night a group of Boy Scouts and their parents came through our newsroom for a tour. The kids were literally suprised I was wearing pants. Now, before you get lost in your mind with jokes and silly scenarios, they were talking about a funny longstanding joke about TV news anchors.

Throughout the years the big joke was that anchors wore a shirt, tie, and coat but had shorts and flip flops instead of pants. The truth is I have worn that outfit in the past. It is comfortable when it's hot out. However, newsrooms are much more open to the public and have a much more business-like atmosphere in recent years.

Our station management likes to open our newsrooms up for tours and we do interviews all the time in studio. That means we have a dress policy that requires business attire except on Fridays when jeans are allowed.

So, if you were ever wondering (kinda strange to think about! ha ha)...I do wear a full suit and I'm not wearing some pair of funny shorts while anchoring the news.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Watch PC tonight!

Political Connections tonight at 6pm and Sunday morning at 11am on News 14 Carolina.

This week we taped the entire show from the White House Forum on Health Care Reform at NC A&T State in Greensboro.

I chat with Nancy-Ann DeParle, who is Director for the White House Office of Health Reform. I also talk with Dr. Bill Roper who is the dean of the UNC School of Medicine.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

White House Forum on Health Care Reform

Hey all!

You might have noticed I wasn't anchoring last night. I spent the day in Greensboro covering President Obama's White House forum on health care reform. North Carolina was one of five locations nationwide to host it. The president wants America's feedback and hopes to sign a reform bill by the end of the year. Ambitious right?

Anyway, I was there to do some interviews we aired last night and I taped my entire show for this weekend on location. It was really interesting and you should check it out on Political Connections this Friday at 6pm and Sunday 11am on News 14 Carolina. Okay with the shameless plug out of the way here's a brief rundown of what was said by those I interviewed.

The event was hosted by Gov. Perdue and White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle. I had a chance to interview Ms. DeParle afterward.

She said the goal of these forums is to hear problems that exist and suggested solutions from real Americans, how to lower cost, and insure more people. She said she's heard some of the best and some of the worst stories here in North Carolina. This was the fourth of five forums. DeParle says she heard from more uninsured people in North Carolina than other states (a recent study shows we have the fastest growth in the country in the last two years). She also heard more from small businesses than other states.

On the cost front, she said it's a priority to help small businesses get affordable coverage and help people with pre-existing conditions get affordable coverage through insurance pools. She said some of the other popular proposals include creating incentives in payment systems and subsidies for those who can't afford insurance.

She also believes this time reform will happen. I know, I know. You've heard it before, right? She says both sides of the political aisle are on board with change. That's true, but the path to that change and what that change entails will likely look very different depending on the preference of elephants or donkeys.

I also had the chance to talk with Dr. Bill Roper. He's currently the Dean of the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine and headed up the CDC at one point. He said something that I know will catch the ears of many people. He believes there's plenty of money in the health care system already. He thinks it just needs to be spent more wisely. He is also confident something will get done because he's hearing, for the first time, that people are willing to concede some on certain aspects from both sides.

Dr. Roper believes it's up to the politicians to get everyone on board and past finger pointing that often accompanies big time issues. He thinks "wasted" money should be used to help the uninsured and underinsured get insured.

What he said next is staggering. He said there is a tidal wave of people going to UNC Health Care because they have no other option without insurance. He thinks uncompensated care costs will run $100 million more this year than last year!

I also talked to Rhonda Holliday from a small textile company in Asheboro. The company was on the verge of having to cut health benefits but decided to take a different route. They put employees on a wellness program. Each employee who participates agrees to take a health risk assessment, a yearly physical, and work with nurses if there's a chronic health problem found. Each employee who does that has a much smaller premium. In the seven years since it started the program, premiums have gone up only 6% for employees. What does it do for the company? It has stayed well below double digit increases many companies seen during renewals with the insurance company.

This is just a sample of what you will hear and see if you check out the show this weekend!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dana Cope on PC

Hey everyone!

I know the focus is on UNC and it's big game tonight. Go Heels!

But if you're looking for some pre-game viewing check out Political Connections on News 14 Carolina tonight at 6 and again on Sunday at 11am.

My guests are Dana Cope from the State Employee Association and Mary Gowan from Elon's Business School. We talk about furloughs and layoffs.

Notice how we hardly ever heard of the word furloughs before this year? What's the story behind it and what do you need to know. Plus are furloughs the right answer for state government?

Mr. Cope has some strong feelings on the issue. The interview was taped before layoffs were announced by UNC but he talks candidly about the issue.

Check it out! Next week we take the show on the road to President Obama's health care forum in our state!

Monday, March 23, 2009

1/3rd life crisis

Weird title huh? 1/3rd life crisis. We've heard about the mid-life crisis. It typically involves the mid 40's to mid 50's person who is freaking out because their life is seamingly flashing before their eyes. They sell the Camry and buy a cherry red Miata. They even end up at bars, at times, in "hip" clothing looking to "hang".

We've even heard about the quarter life crisis. It's the 25 year old who has left college and the glow of the neon sign from The Bar is behind you and 40 years in the workforce slaps you in the face. The carefree days of little sleep and big fun are gone and the reality of responsibility arrive.

But these days, I'm feeling the 1/3rd life crisis. You see, I'm 32 years old. I'm not talking about the crisis in terms of my personal life (honey, don't worry I'm not about to buy a shiny red convertible). It's about my professional life. In my thirties, I'm sort of in between. Don't get me wrong, I understand I'm younger than older but that line is blurring.

About two months ago, I began reading about all these new social websites people were using. I had heard about it for some time but just started reading more about it. I sat down with one of our web producers and demanded to learn about it. Not because I was so interested but I felt it was necessary to survive. My life was just fine without twitter and facebook, so I thought. Well, apparently I was wrong and needed to say why in 140 characters or less. Today, I proudly tweet and have my own facebook "fan" page.

While I'm using it, I still feel like your friend's dad whose trying to use words like "cool" and "awesome" with you. Want to know why I feel out of touch with the teens and 20's? I just used cool and awesome as examples!

I'm not in with the older crowd either. They have enough experience that they are running the businesses and don't need to know this new technology (even though they should).

I'm in a technological sandwich trying find my purpose. I feel like I don't have a place and am trying to find that place. The good news is, I hope, that even the 1/4 lifers and mid lifers feel the same way.

This technology is moving so fast we are all trying to find our way. The internet is so vast and so clogged, at the same time, it's hard to feel relevant. Heck, I never heard of 1/3rd life crisis before I started writing about it, but lord knows if I google it, it will come up on some other blog or book. (I just googled it and sure enough it shows up on several web pages!). I may read it but who knows if it's worth the time.

And that is the biggest point. How do we do enough to provide value to be relevant in this new technological world confronting us everywhere we turn, type, or click. That's why media companies are literally dying. Adapting quickly is probably the biggest necessity. Which is why I forced myself to sit down with a near quarter lifer to help out this 1/3rd lifer. He wanted to help and work with me but will other "youngsters".

I feel like I'm starting to babble now so I'm going to stop, but I wanted to more or less get the conversation going. Let me know what you think and where you think you fit.

I need to go for now, I need to catch up with some tweeple.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NC next Zimbabwe?

Hey all...

I was reading a CNN article and it struck me funny just a day after Gov. Perdue's proposal. Here's the article.

If you don't have time or don't care to read it, it basically says that Zimbabwe is way too reliant on taxes from beer and cigarettes. Just yesterday, Gov. Perdue proposed a $1.00 per pack tax hike on cigarettes and a 5% hike on the alcohol tax.

According to the report, the new finance director for Zimbabwe criticized the president of the country for having customs and excise taxes make up 88% of government revenue. The finance director expects that reliance to lead to a huge budget shortfall due to an economic crisis.

I just point this out for humor reasons that it came out just one day after our governor's announcement. The truth is the tax increases here would only gather roughly $500 million a year (I know "only" is a bad word choice but in a $21 billion plan that's not much).

Now, one could argue a reliance on taxes like these are not good policy and I'm sure you'll hear that from our conservative friends on my show this week. What will our left leaning friends say?

I'm so glad you asked (shameless plug)! Watch Political Connections Friday at 6 and Sunday morning at 11am only on News 14 Carolina to find out!

Enjoy that sun out there today. It seems like it's been days since I've seen it. Wait it has been days!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Budget fatigue

As I keep reading, line by line, the governor's budget proposal it tends to make my eyes, mind, and soul hurt! Not because it's a good or bad proposal, but it's simply hard work for someone not trained in accounting, business, budgets, etc.

My mind is already fried trying to figure out how in the world I'm going to fill out my NCAA bracket! I'm a college basketball fanatic you see.

Anyway, I want to focus tonight on Gov. Perdue's program eliminations she proposed today. We've heard plenty about job cuts, tax increases (cigarettes and alcohol), and spending cuts. I encourage you to read several sources because it's complicated and not every story focuses on the same thing or as well as others.

With Gov. Perdue's budget (which is actually about 6 huge packets in binders that is daunting just to look at) she included a three page hand-out detailing program eliminations. It didn't make too many headlines. The closure of several coreectional facilities probably got the most attention from this section. You see it only cuts a total of $37.4 million dollars. It does equal 842 positions (not all "real people" but positions).

Anyway, it provides a unique look at how detailed spending is in the budget and things that cost money you might never imagine.

Take the elimination of the internship program at the State Controller's office. How much do you think that would cost? Try $119,000 per year. I'm not sure how well these interns are paid but I had to beg for a free internship in my business!

Be careful next time you're on the Neuse River because the River Rapid Response Team was eliminated as well. (a cool $202,877 and 4.5 jobs gone).

And if you're interested in how insects can benefit our state? You better rely on old research because the Beneficial Insect Lab at the Department of Agriculture has been eliminated by the budget fly swatter ($91,148 per year).

An apprenticeship program at the Dept. of Labor costs $1.8 million with 26 positions. Gone.

At least two camps in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquincy Prevention are gone (2.5 mill and 21 jobs).

How about this one...we are in a considerable economic crisis and what got cut from Public Instruction (schools)? You guessed it a Personal Financial Literacy program ($500,000).

Those are just a few examples of 39 eliminations. Don't get me wrong, I am by no means criticizing or cheerleading these cuts. Cuts needed to be made somewhere. I was just pointing out for your benefit the detail of the budget and some of the programs your tax dollars fund you might never ever imagine.

Think of it this way that $37.5 million in cuts is just a tiny fraction of a $21 billion dollar budget. Imagine how hard it is to figure out the rest and understand it all!

Let me know what you think of the Governor's proposal.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Governor Perdue's budget

And so the day comes that Governor Perdue is probably dreading. Tuesday morning (11:30am to be exact), Gov. Perdue will hold a news conference announcing her budget proposal.

She has said all along it's not going to be pretty, and I have to imagine she's not kidding. By all accounts, the state is facing a huge budget shortfall.

In the past week, Gov. Perdue has unveiled bits of her budget. Today she promised to increase funding for education by 2.5%. Last week she talked about new programs to help bring jobs and stimulate the economy. Those programs also cost money. So, we've got a good preview of how she plans to spend money but no inkling of how she will cut it.

This new spending means some very bad news for other areas. It will likely lead to agency heads, department heads, and state employees having a very restless night of sleep tonight.

Rumors have spread to a 10-15% cut in many departments and layoffs as well. The big question is how much and which programs might get cut altogether.

Governor Perdue has said several times in the past week that she's enjoying these moments because many people will not be happy with her after tomorrow. The fact is the budget issues are so deep, no matter what decisions she made she would face criticism.

That's where you come in. For better or for worse, I want to hear your thoughts on the governor's budget tomorrow. Either comment on this page or find me on twitter @boyumnews14 or email me at

We will use the comments here, on twitter, and on the air as well.

And can we get some warm sunny weather in here!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Got a question?

Do you have a question about News 14 Carolina or about tv news in general?

How about a question about news stories going on?

I'm looking for your questions to start a conversation here on the blog with all of you! I will answer them to the best of my ability or try to find the answer for you.

In the meantime, take advantage of the dreary weather and cuddle up to a great weekend of ACC basketball!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To tweet or not to tweet?

That is truly the question in the world of journalism these days. The popularity of the social media tool is spreading like wild fire. I've read article after article about the popularity.

In case you're not familiar this is what twitter is directly from the site.

"Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

You must answer that question in 140 characters or less.

In recent months, some of the first reports from the India hotel bombing were on twitter from people inside the hotel. The flight 1549 crash had witnesses putting up tweets almost immediately.

It's an incredible resource, but as journalists it creates an interesting qeustion as well. How do you confirm the person tweeting really saw or experienced what they are claiming they saw? How do you know it's really the person they say they are on the website?

These questions can be answered much like phone call tips. Confirm your source information with another source which is always a good idea on any story.

What's interesting about it from my point of view is the fact it offers several benefits. It allows me to keep tabs in a different way with sources, organizations, etc. by following their twitter accounts.

It allows me, at times, to have direct contact with viewers and build viewership for the station. I've received contact from several viewers who love feeling "connected" to myself and our meteorologists they watch on television. I don't let it get too personal, but it allows me to give some behind the scenes information and a little personal touch as well.

The final part is perhaps the most important. It allows me to solicit questions and feedback from viewers. The best example comes from this past Monday. Gov. Bev Perdue gave her state of the state address. We had live coverage on tv with our experts before and after the address. During the speech we encouraged viewers to give us their feedback and questions via Twitter. After the address ended, we began our live analysis and coverage and I read many of the comments which lead to questions for my guests. Some even sent questions that I asked our guest within minutes. Just a moment later that viewer thanked me for asking the question. So, in a matter of minutes during live coverage, the viewer asked a question, I asked it, and got an answer, and the viewer thanked me.

The lesson here is a lot of our viewers are not doing just one thing at a time. They are watching tv and surfing the internet. If we can engage them on live tv like that, I think they are more likely to take part. It's incredible to think people can instantly take part in our coverage.

I'm not a trailblazer here looking for attention. Rick Sanchez is doing it daily on his CNN show. But it's catching fire with other national folks as well. David Gregory from Meet the Press, Anderson Cooper, Ellen Degeneres, and many more are using it for a number of reasons.

Are there dangers? Perhaps. Is it an evolving process? Of course. Is it important? Absolutely. Those of us who don't embrace technology and try to find a way to make it work will be tasting the dust of those who survive the crisis in journalism that exists today.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, March 9, 2009

State of State and GOP response

Hey everyone! Hope you watched and enjoyed our coverage of the State of the State!

Here is the text of Gov. Perdue's speech followed by the Republican Response.

"Speaker Hackney, President Pro-Tem Basnight, Lt. Gov. Dalton members of the General Assembly and honored guests.

Let me also recognize my sons Garrett and his wife April and Emmett and his fiancée Sarah. And, of course, a very important man in my life. Unlike most of us, he didn't seek his position. But he accepts it, maybe it would be better to say puts up with it -- and that means no home-cooked dinners -- North Carolina's First, First Gentleman, Bob Eaves.

Tonight, I ask you to join me in expressing North Carolina's deepest gratitude to our nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, Coast Guard, the members of the National Guard and Reserves - particularly those who call North Carolina their home. We send a special thank you to your families since military service is a family commitment.

With us tonight is Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey L. Copeland and his wife June. Jeff is Commander of the First - 130th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. He is joined by Staff Sergeant David E. Rhodes, an aircraft mechanic in Delta Company, and his wife Michelle.

After 9-11, this was the nation's first reserve helicopter battalion that was deployed serving 17 months in Afghanistan. In a week, Jeff, David and 480 other members of the unit will start a deployment to Iraq. We thank you, and all those in North Carolina's National Guard, for your service and wish you success and God’s Speed in your mission.

It is a privilege and honor to be here with you tonight. I want to thank the citizens of North Carolina for the opportunity to serve this great state as your governor - and might I add, as North Carolina's first female governor.

I remember the first time I sat in this chamber as a freshman member and looked around. Then, there were just 24 women in the General Assembly. Today there are 43 women in this body. The legislative choir has a broader and stronger range of diverse voices. More points of view are being heard in state government. That is good for North Carolina.

North Carolina, like most states, has been thrown into the midst of a global economic crisis. To come through it, and we will, we must make tough decisions -- choices I will make and you will make.

That is our job and our responsibility:

To confront the difficult circumstances and deal with them;
To move wisely, prudently and decisively;
To do what we must do to get through the tough times, as we also position ourselves and North Carolina to seize the opportunities of the future.

That is why, as much as it is my privilege tonight to speak to this distinguished gathering, I also want to speak frankly and directly to the people of North Carolina.

Let me frame the picture for you. Families all around the state are anxious. Many have lost their jobs. Many have lost their homes. As I travel around this state, I see the uncertainty and worry in the eyes of North Carolinians.

When I made one of my surprise site visits to a state employment office, a 70-year-old man told me about how his retirement savings had evaporated. He was looking for a job when he thought he'd be headed to retirement. A woman, with her three children in tow, had lost her job and told the counselors she'd take anything. A Ph.D. who thought he was in a cutting-edge permanent career, found himself, instead, on the unemployment line.

These people are North Carolina. They are America. And as elected officials, it is our moral responsibility to work together and help our citizens restart their lives.

Now I know those of us in this chamber tonight can't fix everything. No one can. But there are things we can do. By making the tough choices, by taking decisive action to meet our challenges, we can, and will, be part of the solutions we need to move North Carolina forward.

I will do whatever it takes to:

Pay our state's bills.
Keep all our kids healthy and in school.
Make sure, that when our seniors need care, they can get it.
Keep prisoners locked up and our people safe.
Create jobs and provide ways for those who are out of work to learn new skills.

So, let me be direct with you. This is what we must do now and for the future:

WE START BY REVIVING NORTH CAROLINA'S ECONOMY: We must go after every federal recovery dollar that is available. We need to get that money into North Carolina.

We will put our people back to work by:

Building bridges.
Paving roads.
Expanding and renovating our infrastructure.

It will take engineers, architects, contractors, technology experts and laborers of all types.

It was no joke when I said if South Carolina's governor doesn't want federal recovery funds, I'd drive a truck down to pick up his share. I know how to put those dollars to good use and help people. To those folks in South Carolina, I offer a warm invitation. "Come on up here. Stay a while." See how we in North Carolina can push forward-- in tough times.

But, back to business. We will ensure that the recovery dollars are spent with maximum efficiency, transparency, and accountability. I have put a team together in my Office of Economic Recovery & Investment that will track every dollar.

With the click of a mouse, taxpayers can go to and see details of our investments. You'll know where the money went, who got the contract, and when they completed the work. Soon, NC OpenBook will do the same for all state contracts and grants worth more than $10,000. This is taking care of the people's business, North Carolina style.

But we can't rely on the federal government alone. We must do what ever it takes, our own, here in North Carolina, to create jobs, help displaced workers get new jobs, and keep families in their homes. We cannot let our citizens' dreams for a better future die.

We are already transforming our traditional industries into 21st century jobs. N.C. State is leading the nation in developing lightweight textiles that are used in the aerospace industry. This cutting-edge work helped us bring SpiritAero Systems, with 1,000 jobs.

We have broadened our traditional agriculture economy and become a Mecca for biotech, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences by uniquely bringing together government, higher education and private business. This allows ideas to springboard from the lab to the market place. Just look around. There's Quintiles, Merck, Bayer, Biogen, PPD and more.


Starting today, it is no longer business as usual for North Carolina's budget. I want all our citizens to know it is a new day. Everything is on the table. We don't have time for talk-show political posturing or petty partisan games. Not on my watch.

We are confronted with challenges our state has not seen since the Great Depression. With a $3 billion plus shortfall, we must be upfront and make hard, painful decisions. "Truth in budgeting" time is here. It is what we must do to balance the budget and put North Carolina on strong footing, for now and the future.

"Cutting the fat" is a cliché that does not go far enough.

In the budget I present next week we will reduce and cut state government programs and services that many, including me, know have been effective but which, in these times, we simply cannot afford.

FOR NORTH CAROLINA, EDUCATION IS THE PRIORITY: Even as we search out ways to cope with our deteriorating economic landscape, we must be sure to protect our most precious asset -- our children, our future workers. So we must find ways to be inventive and engaging in the way our schools work and students learn. We must, as the saying goes, "not eat our seed corn," but continue to move forward on education to keep North Carolina competitive in the global market place.

And yes, even in these tough times... we will increase per-pupil spending in our public schools.

And while we will hold schools, teachers and students accountable, we will bring some sanity to North Carolina's own testing mania by eliminating duplicative or unnecessary tests.

I have reorganized our public schools, with Bill Harrison becoming both the CEO of the State Board of Education and of the Department of Public Instruction -- adding accountability and clear direction to a system badly in need of both.

And, as we make sure our schools perform, we must expect no less from all our citizens. No child has permission to drop out of school in North Carolina and no teacher has permission to give up on a student. No parent has a free pass from their responsibility to be fully involved in their child's education.

And no segment of our community, particularly our business community, gets a free pass on education. Our business leaders put a lot of energy into making sure North Carolina's tax rate is competitive. These leaders need to put the same effort into helping North Carolina be the home of the nation's best educated workforce.

And we will begin my College Promise to remove financial barriers for access to higher education. In this global economy, education beyond high school is not a luxury... it's a necessity.

My efforts create a pathway, starting in pre-kindergarten, that offers courses of study that fit students' needs -- all the way through vocational, community college, or college. Seamless learning, pre-K through 20, that's the goal.

And North Carolina will use technology to modernize the classroom and enable teaching to catch up with the way our kids live. Let's face it, today's students show up at school with more technology in their pockets and backpacks than they find in their classrooms. For too many students, they ignore what's on the blackboard while they are busy "tweeting" on Twitter. I see some of you doing that right now.

North Carolina's Virtual Public High School will ensure that any kid in any high school can take any class he or she needs. This levels the education playing field for students and assures educational equity.


In the 21st century we must conduct the business of government in ways that bring transparency and accountability to the people. We will restore our citizens' confidence that government can help solve problems, and work efficiently without wasting tax dollars.

On my first day in office I ordered reforms to change the face of state government. At the Department of Transportation I insisted on openness and bringing professional decision-making to the process.

And some major policy decisions, like my new “zero tolerance” policy in mental health, the corrections systems and throughout government in general, will sometimes be painful because I am exposing weaknesses and individual actions that are unacceptable and wrong. I believe “zero tolerance” is how we find and correct the weaknesses that put people's lives at risk and undermine faith in government.

I have set high expectations for myself and for everyone who works for North Carolina. We will be open, ethical, and put the public's interest first. Taxpayers deserve no less from every state worker and I expect nothing less from every state employee. And, again my friends, these same taxpayers deserve no less from you.

As the legislature starts work on the budget and the important services that our citizens need, let me be clear about where I stand. Education is the engine that propels North Carolina's future. It cannot -- and will not-- be sacrificed.

This is the time to stand up to the sweet seductions of special interests, the temptations of politically popular pork barrel spending, and end the practice of backroom dealing.

Those days are gone. We cannot afford them in these perilous times. Our first and only duty is to stand by North Carolina families. That is why we are here.

The choices we face are clear. We are each called to service, courage, and sacrifice. We have been given the privilege and the responsibility to govern during a difficult time. We have been called, quite frankly, to the responsibility… of leadership in North Carolina.

This is the time to answer that call. It is a time for the ordinary citizens in this citizen-legislature to be extraordinary leaders. And we need not look far in North Carolina to find living examples of the kind of determination, hard work and sacrifice that make ordinary people extraordinary heroes.

Acting courageously. The words are simple, but today's challenges are not. Three quarters of a century ago, at a time not unlike now, Gov. Max Gardner told the General Assembly: "The whole future of this state will be profoundly affected by your work here and the eventful days that lie just ahead."

So, as Gov. Gardner called on the 1931 legislature to change the way government did business, I call upon you to join me in renewing and reinvigorating our service to North Carolina -- with the spirit of innovation and purpose -- these times demand.

Last November, you, the voters of North Carolina gave us the opportunity to make the tough decisions that the 21st century demands. You put your most sacred trust, your votes, in us. You believed in us. You placed your futures in our hands. We must not -- and we will not -- let you down.

In these tough times, North Carolina must continue pushing ahead. We North Carolinians do not shy away from challenges and we do not quit.

Simply getting our economy back to what it was isn't good enough. We will make our economy stronger.

We all must have high expectations for ourselves and North Carolina's future. We all must exhibit extraordinary leadership, courage, determination, and make the tough, but right decisions.

We will move North Carolina forward even in these challenging times. And, as a new day dawns for North Carolina and America - as we come out of this global recession, North Carolina the Old Tar Heel State, will be poised to take on the world.

Good night, God bless you, and God bless North Carolina."

The following is a Republican response from Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger

"Hello, my name is Phil Berger. I am the Republican Leader in the North Carolina Senate;

Times are tough. People across North Carolina are struggling to pay their bills, care for their children, support their churches, look after their friends and neighbors, and plan for their children’s future. But North Carolinians are resilient, independent, hardworking people and if our elected leaders take a few prudent steps we will come out of this recession well positioned for the future.

Like many of you I know something about tough times, struggling to achieve, taking responsibility for self and family. I dropped out of college in 1971; shortly after that my wife, Pat, and I started a family, I worked in a grocery store and managed the produce department.

It didn’t take long for me to understand that it was important to go back to school, which I did. I worked my way through Community College and then College and in 1980 we sold our house and moved with our two sons to Winston-Salem where I enrolled in Law School at Wake Forest.

Pat went to work at the University and I painted apartments. I finished Law School in 2 1/2 years.

After stints at a law firm in Charlotte and at the Court of Appeals in Raleigh we settled in Eden where I have practiced law for the last 25 years.

I tell you this not because it is an exceptional story. It isn’t. I tell you this because my personal experience is like the experience of so many North Carolinians I’ve met as I’ve traveled our state.

You have heard a great deal about North Carolina’s financial situation; about how state revenue collections are down; and about what that may mean for the state’s budget, this year and next.

What you may not have heard is that over the past half dozen years Democratic leaders in North Carolina have adopted state budgets that have seen general fund spending grow by almost 50% and that even after this year’s forced reduction of $2 billion caused by the slowing economy, the growth over that six year period will still be almost 35%. Even at the lower amount, state government will be spending $53 million every day, 7 days per week.

During the same six years, Democrats have also approved long term borrowing that has more than doubled our state’s debt.

These rates of spending and borrowing can not be sustained. The current economic situation is an opportunity to get North Carolina’s financial house in order. We must make tough decisions now in order to have a solid platform for building our future.

To hasten North Carolina’s economic recovery we must acknowledge that the Democrat’s budgets over the past 6 years are a major reason North Carolina is suffering more than most states and that our unemployment rate is among the highest in the country.

We can not fix the national economy, but we can keep our focus on the basics and we can put North Carolina in a position of advantage when the economy improves again.

Republicans understand that putting North Carolina back to work is Job one.

I believe it necessary to set out some principles; some fairly simple rules that state elected officials need to adhere to in making decisions for the people of our state, including decisions about the state budget.

First, there must be an understanding and recognition of the importance of your “family budget”; state government should not take action that fixes the state budget and harms and ignores the family budget; we can not allow the government budget to further stress already stretched families. The way to do that is to frankly and realistically appraise how much money the state has coming in, and spend that much and no more. This common sense, conservative approach is needed now more than ever.

Second, state government must focus on basic things; the real priorities for North Carolina’s long term success – education, transportation, having a tax and regulatory climate that enables the private sector to create good jobs, and protecting the safety of our people and their property.

As I go around our state, I see one North Carolina – of parents and grandparents caring for their children and grandchildren, small business owners looking after their shops and stores, farmers and retirees concerned about their way of life, teachers and law enforcement personnel sensitive to the needs of those in their charge, wage earning laborers and professionals doing all they can to make tomorrow better than yesterday, all North Carolinians, all making up the fabric of their communities, and all impacted by decisions made by government.

It is critical for the Governor to bring forward and the legislature adopt a state budget that does not increase the tax burden on North Carolina’s families. There are difficult decisions ahead; government leaders must remember this: if it’s tough for the government, it is much tougher for the millions of people in North Carolina we work for. As we look at the state budget, we must remember that our state is full of families making great sacrifices. Leadership means a commitment that government shoulders its share of the pain and sacrifice.

I was pleased Friday to hear Governor Perdue reiterated her campaign promise not to raise taxes. This is a promise she must keep and Republicans are ready to do help sustain her veto of any budget Legislative Democrats pass that includes increased taxes and fees.

Republican legislators pledge to work with Governor Perdue and the Democratic leadership to fashion solutions. However we will support proposals only if they are in keeping with the principles I outlined earlier; protecting the family budget, a focus on core state functions, and appreciating that there is one North Carolina where we all live and work and, as we know, where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great.

As I close, please join me in recognizing and thanking the thousands of North Carolinians serving our country at home and abroad in the military. Every day these brave and selfless citizen soldiers place themselves in harm’s way so that we may pursue our lives in relative peace. Over the past several years a number have made the ultimate sacrifice; we know that the next year will continue to be one of significant hardship for them and their families. We are blessed by their service and humbled by their selflessness.

Thank you and May God bless you and our great state."

State of the State tonight

Hey all!

Hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed the ridiculously nice weather!!!

It's Monday and it's really going to be a Monday. Gov. Perdue will give her State of the State tonight to the General Assembly and it's not going to be good news.

Join us on tv at News 14 Carolina starting at 6:54pm. We'll have commentary and analysis from Peace College political professor David McLennan, NC Policy Watch's Chris Fitzsimon, and former GOP candidate for governor Bob Orr.

You can also follow the action online with us at twitter. Just use the hashtag #ncsos.


See you then!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Warm weekend wonds erland!

Hey all!

I know on the first warm weekend of the year it's a lot to ask to sit inside and watch a show but here it is anyway!

Chris Fitzsimon from NC Policy Watch and Joe Coletti from the John Locke Foundation join me to preview Governor Bev Perdue's State of the State. Then we talk with a UNC Highway Safety Research Center researcher about driving while talking on cell phones.

It's all on Political Connections tonight at 6pm and Sunday at 11am.

Then Monday night we'll have the State of the State live on News 14 Carolina. Our coverage starts at 6:54. Former GOP Gubernatorial candidate Bob Orr, Fitzsimon and Peace College political expert David McLennan join me for analysis before and after.

Enjoy the warm weekend and great basketball as well!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New video

Happy Thursday all!

That means it's time for another video entry. This week we show you how we report live from the field with a "backlot" tour. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Carolina Duke for the title!

Man oh man it doesn't get any better than this. Two titans in college basketball, the tobacco road rivalry, 8 mile separation, whatever else you want to call it-nothing is better than a UNC-Duke regular season finale with the ACC title on the line.

It's my belief Carolina is playing for a #1 NCAA seed as well with a win which puts even more on this game. These games are great anyway but it's always notched up a level when a title is on the line.

In other news, it appears the state's first CEO of education will be sworn in on the board of education tomorrow. It should also be the start of a battle over who controls education and what in the world does it mean for State Superintendent June Atkinson.

Tomorrow I hope to add another video entry to the blog with a "backlot" tour and show you how we do live shots in the field.

Should be fun.

And how about 70's this weekend. IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

State of the State

The House has approved its invitation for Gov. Perdue to address lawmakers Monday night at 7pm. We will have full coverage of the entire event before, during, and after. In fact, I believe we will air her State of the State in its entirety. Then a full breakdown on Political Connections.

I'm hearing her budget proposal likely won't come out until the following week. It seems likely her state of the state will not be pretty. The state is we are facing a huge deficit that's growing every day.

What are her plans to fix it and will she say what you want or need to hear from her?

Let me know what you think she should or needs to say. What's important for her to say or does it even matter?

I'm interviewing a couple of pundits from both sides of the political aisle on the subject in the coming days as well so let me know you're questions for them.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Behind the scenes forecast

Hey everyone! Wherever you are I hope you're safe and enjoying the weather. Here's a behind the scenes look in our forecast center tonight!

Let it snow?

I'm headed in to help out and anchor the night shift tonight for our statewide snow coverage!

Send me your stories and pics and we'll use them here, twitter, on air and more.

You send them and I'll make sure we'll share them!

More later but I must eat and get ready for work! Hope you're enjoying an inside movie watching rainy weekend!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Basnight interview tonight!

Can you believe it's 70 today and we could be in winter storm warning in 48 hours. Bizarre!

Anyway, this weekend's Political Connections (Fri 6pm, Sun 11am on News 14 Carolina) is a don't miss. I spend the entire half hour on an interview with Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight. He was very candid about a wide range of issues.

As a preview here's some quotes on a few topics...

Balancing the budget
"I believe the majority of us in the Senate and hopefully the House, as well, will see you can't cut your way out of this kind of condition."

On working with Gov. Bev Perdue
"She's very very smart. Is she good to work with? Probably not. She's difficult in that vain. She's very headstrong but she wants to do the right thing and she will demand that."

On potential cell phone ban while driving
"I would hope not. I would think you should be able to use your phone in the car when you're driving down the road."

On potential smoking ban in public places
"I don't know about taking away the independent right to make that choice."

He goes on to say his daughters who run his restaurant on the Outer Banks support the ban but he's not sure about it. That could be a problem for supporters of the ban!

This is just the tip of the iceberg so make sure to check it out tonight on News 14 Carolina.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New video entry

It's that time of the week! This week we visit the newsroom and give you a very fast look how our reporters put together stories.

By the way we have a VERY candid and VERY interesting interview with Sen. Marc Basnight on Political Connections Friday night. More on that tomorrow.

By the way did you know that next week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in NC and it might snow Sunday into Monday..yuck!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Prez Obama reaction before the speech!

So Ryan Teague Beckwith from Under the Dome posted on his twitter account how it was typical Washington that he's getting reaction from Politico about President Obama's speech before his address tonight.

I then noticed an email I got and further investigated my inbox to find I had several similar emails from elected officials. Indeed our Representative David Price and Rep. Brad Miller sent out emails with their response to Mr. Obama's address. I also got releases from other representatives around the country as well as GOP folks.

The emails all came into my inbox before 6:00pm yet President Obama's address isn't until 9pm. It is "typical DC" like Ryan put it but what does that say about it all?

I'm not quite sure yet. I'm still pondering it and would love your reaction. Is the President's speech that predictable? Then why is he using network time and commercial space in this economy if it's that predictable? Are these politicians taking the easy route knowing what he will say? How do we know it's not just a canned response without genuine opinions if it comes out before the actual speech?

Or, is this just a sign of the immediacy of the news on the internet and cable television that it's more important to have a response for the second the speech ends (or earlier) than to have an honest reaction to what he said and sometimes just as important, how he said it.

I'm not judging anyone here, I'm just raising questions and looking for you feedback!

Have a great night and let me know your thoughts on the president's address here or at

An interesting update on the posting above. First, I mistakenly added Sen. Hagan to the list which I quickly corrected. Rep. Miller's office emailed me tonight to point out that Rep. Miller's earlier statement about President Obama's speech was not a prediction of his speech. His staff was briefed earlier in the day by White House officials and they wanted to make sure to get a statement out to journalists who were on deadlines. As a journalist, I completely understand that and I pointed out to Rep. Miller's staffer I wasn't saying the early statements were a bad thing it was just an observation. It's not uncommon for journalists to get embargoed versions of speeches and statements to help them prepare their stories ahead of time to meet deadlines. My goal for all of this is to give you a little perspective on how the news is made! I did not intend for my blog to mean these lawmakers were making predictions about future speeches, I was just trying to show you the viewer/reader a little bit about how the process works.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Is it surprising to anyone that it feels like the winter is dragging on and on and on? We are having a horrible economic winter of sorts that is dragging as well.

I'm sitting here on the anchor desk and my toes are cold and I constantly feel the chills. I'm not getting sick. It's just clear my blood prefers not to move in these plunging temperatures much like my 401k. I checked it for the first time today in months (my 401k not my blood). It has the same amount in it today that it had one year ago today and I never stopped adding money to it. The worst part is that I'm actually putting in more each paycheck than I did a year ago.

I know, I know. I'm fairly young and I'll come out way ahead. But will I? Everyone keeps saying we've never seen anything like this. So, how can you/they tell me I will come out ahead? It's these nagging questions that make even the employed nervous on a daily basis no matter what age you are. You/I feel grateful to leave for the day and know there's a tomorrow in the office.

So, what are the answers? Perhaps the scariest part about all this? There are no clear cut answers. I feel like it's gut check time and we just have to trust our guts. I'm not a financial expert or an economist, but in a lot of ways I feel like our guts are about as accurate.

I have a great job, my wife is pregnant with our first child, we'll celebrate two years married in May, we have a house, it's being heated (thanks to the long winter again), and we have food on the table. It's the best of times and the worst of times. Why? Because that stability that once was the bedrock of the American way can vanish in a blink of an eye in these uncertain times.

I'm thankful for tonight and for what appears to be a great tomorrow. Let's hope all of our tomorrows lead to weeks, months, and years to come!

Friday, February 20, 2009

New video

Hey all...

First, check out Political Connections on News 14 Carolina tonight at 6pm and Sunday 11am. Our guests this week are Sen. Burr and Sen. Hagan and we talk about stimulus package.

Next week I have a long sit down with Sen. Basnight and it is interesting to say the least.

Also, here's my video entry for the week. It's a tour of the studio and control room here at News 14 Carolina.

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Okay Senator Hagan (D) and Senator Burr (R) will probably never be best friends forever but it appears they do get along well despite their different party affiliations.

Today, I interviewed both of them in our studios for this week's Political Connections and a story that is airing tonight.

They were scheduled a half hour apart but one was late and the other was early so they basically were here at the same time.

Anyway, when Sen. Hagan was sworn in Sen. Burr made sure to make her feel welcome. It appears they get along well, so I simply asked if they really do or if it's an act for the cameras. Here's the cliff notes to what they said in separate interviews.

-She looks forward to working with him
-They have good chats on numerous occasions
-They are often on the same flight from Washington DC to Greensboro and they get a chance to chat.
-On the day she was sworn in Sen. Burr had a flag flow on her behalf in DC. It was evident that she was genuinely appreciative.

-They may look at pieces of legislation differently but he believes they look at the impact on on North Carolina the same.
-On initiatives with a big impact on North Carolina, he says they will come together in a very quick fashion.
-He called her a skilled legislator with experience and commitment to North Carolina and that's an advantage for him as well in trying to get beneficial legislation passed for the state.

Will all this harmony play out on the Senate floor? That remains to be seen. As my interview finished with Sen. Hagan the two of them passed each other and even hugged! They genuinely seem to respect each other. It will be interesting to see if that can translate into a productive working relationship with their political difference.

By the way both interviews will air in their entirety this week on Political Connections (Friday 6pm, Sunday 11am) only on News 14 Carolina.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidents and North Carolina

In honor of President's Day here is a little information about North Carolina's connection to the White House.

17th President
Became President after Abraham Lincoln was assasinated.
Although born in Raleigh, NC, Andrew Johnson called Greeneville, TN home for his entire adult life. He is buried in Greeneville as well.
Historians often rank him as one of the worst U.S. presidents and the first president ever impeached.

This pic is a replica of his birthplace and childhood home in Raleigh. The pic comes from his presidential library in TN.

7th U.S. President
Born in Waxhaws which is the border of North and South Carolina
His parents lived in North Carolina, but historians debate whether or not he was born in North or South Carolina.
From the state library--
"After the war Jackson taught school briefly, but he didn't like it and decided to practice law instead. In 1784, when he was seventeen, he went to Salisbury, North Carolina where he studied law for several years. He was admitted to the North Carolina Bar in September 1787 and the following spring began his public career with an appointment as prosecuting officer for the Superior Court in Nashville, Tennessee, which at that time was a part of the Western District of North Carolina."

Jackson was also lured to Tennessee and started his political career. He also retired there like Johnson.

For more on his career and NC connection look here.

11th president
Born in Pineville in Mecklenburg County
Graduated from UNC in 1818 (then only 80 students!)
But as with the others he started his career and lived most of his life in Tennessee.
He was also a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson.

Still looking into more stuff, so I'll post it if I find it!

Friday, February 13, 2009

First video entry


I told you I wanted to provide some behind the scenes here at News 14 Carolina. Today, we give you that promise in video form. On top of the daily text posts, each Friday I hope to upload a video blog entry as well. This week, we give you a behind the scenes tour of our Weather on the Ones Forecast Center. You will see the goofy, moronic side of me. It's embarrassing but I hope you like it!

Here's part 1

And here's part 2

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hoops heaven!

I'm a college basketball fanatic and I love rivalry games so tonight is the night! Thank goodness as long as I'm working we have a bunch tv's nearby!!

Nothing can match the intensity and excitement of these teams, coaches, and fans!

Make sure after the game to switch over to News 14 Carolina. Unlike everehr yone else, we WILL carry the news conferences for Coach Williams and Coach K. Plus, we'll hear from players and fans!

Watch the game but switch to News 14 Carolina!!

Tomorrow, I hope to add my first video here on the blog with a behind the scenes tour of the weather center. Until then enjoy the game!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New feature coming

Well, in the ever changing and evolving world of "new media" it is a must to try and reinvent yourself and evolve as well.

With that spirit I will attempt to start adding videos to the blog to give you a behind the scenes look here at News 14 Carolina.

It starts on Thursday when we shoot our first tour that aims to show you our Weather on the Ones Forecast Center and how Chief Meteorologist Gary Stephenson puts together his forecasts.

It's going to be very laid back, informative, and most importantly fun...I hope! We'll show you some of the secrets of tv and Gary will give some insight into what it takes to put together a forecast.

I hope to add a new video every single week so stay tuned!!!

By the way, if you have other features you'd like to see please let me know!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Perdue statement

Hey all..

Just wanted to pass this statement along from Perdue spokesperson Chrissy Pearson

"The Senate today faces an important vote for America, and North Carolina is poised to receive federal stimulus money that could make a significant difference in the economic climate in our state.

Clearly there are areas in the Senate compromise bill that trouble us, but as Governor Perdue told the House Democratic Caucus on Friday, we are grateful that this bill is moving forward. It is a critical step towards addressing North Carolina’s fiscal emergency. Therefore, despite some concerns, we urge both our senators to vote “yes” tonight and tomorrow.

Afterward, we will look forward to working with our Congressional delegation and the White House to secure the improvements needed that will make this bill work for North Carolina – and will put North Carolina back to work."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Political Connections this week

Hey all...

Hope you had a great week as always. Just a reminder that Political Connections airs on News 14 Carolina Friday night at 6pm and Sunday morning at 11am.

This week is a bit of a mix. The first segment we'll remember former Insurance Commissioner Jim Long who died this week. Then we'll wrap up a rough week on Jones Street as lawmakers get two bits of bad news about the state budget and state health plan gaps. Finally, Emerging Issues Forum Director (Gov. Jim Hunt's baby)Anita Brown-Graham joins us in studio to preview next week's forum focusing on infrastructure.

With the legislature in session, I try not to plan out my shows too much in advance, but what topic or who would you like to see as a guest??

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

sNOw luck at my house!

Well, I woke up at 1, 3, and 6:30am anxiously waiting to see the white stuff and instead saw the usual dead grass in my back yard! The dog was disappointed I think as well!

I keep hearing people rip on the meteorologists for "missing" the forecast. The truth is the snow system slid south. Forecasting is a science but it's not a perfect science by any means and it's science in motion that can be unpredictable.

I hope that makes sense because I'm not even sure myself that made sense! LOL!

Anywho, better get it wrong this way then 20 inches the other way right?

More later!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Let it snow...again

It looks like the white stuff will make a return sooner than later. You know what that means! It's time to send in those photos to use here and on

Send em my way via the contact info on the left.

The Triangle will likely get 1-3 inches with more coming north and west.

Should be fun! Send me your funny stories and I'll share with everyone. How many people are in your office? How was your drive? Why does my dog act like such an idiot on the snow? You get the point!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Sad news to report

I'm back from vacation and planned a more light hearted post but then this news came in from Rex Hospital.

February 2, 2009

RALEIGH, N.C. – Former North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Jim Long died today at Rex Hospital where he had been hospitalized after suffering a serious stroke on Wednesday, January 21. Long, 68, was surrounded by his family during his final moments and throughout his treatment in the hospital's intensive care unit.

“It is with heavy hearts that our family witnessed Jim's passing today,” said Peg O’Connell, Long’s wife. "We will be forever thankful for the prayers and kind words the people of North Carolina offered to Jim and our family during this difficult time. Jim loved this great state and its gracious people. He was honored to serve them."

Long served as head of the North Carolina Department of Insurance for 24 years and retired last month. He held a state-wide elected office longer than anyone in North Carolina history with the exceptions of Secretary of State Thad Eure and Agriculture Commissioner Jim Graham.

O'Connell urges North Carolina families to educate themselves about stroke and stroke prevention. "This is a terrible day for our family, yet I know Jim would want some good to come of this," said O'Connell. "There is nothing more precious than health and family."

Funeral arrangements for Long have not been finalized."

Statement from NC Department of Insurance
For Immediate Release:
February 2, 2009

On behalf of the entire N.C. Department of Insurance, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin issues the following statement:

“Our hearts are broken over the loss of our former leader and dear friend, Jim Long. For 24 years, we were fortunate enough to work by his side, sharing both personal and professional triumphs and disappointments, laughter and sorrow. He was a mentor and friend to all of us, and we will miss him more than words can express. As our family grieves, we will try to find comfort knowing that through our work we can honor Commissioner Long’s legacy of serving the people of our state that he so loved.

Our hearts and prayers for peace and strength are with Peg and the rest of Commissioner Long’s family.”

Statement from Attorney General Roy Cooper on Jim Long
"Jim Long was a fighter for consumers. He committed his life to serving the people of North Carolina and our state is a better place because of his service."
Former North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance Jim Long passed away Monday at the age of 68. He served as the state's Insurance Commissioner for more than twenty years.

Raleigh: Gov. Perdue today ordered all North Carolina state flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of former North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Jim Long who passed away Monday, February 2nd. Flags will be flown at half-staff beginning immediately until sunset the day of the service.

Statement from Gov. Perdue:

“Jim Long was a giant of a person, a tremendous public servant, and a close personal friend. He was serious when it came to helping the public and at the same time he had an infectious sense of humor and personality. His red tie was legendary and so was his commitment to North Carolina. North Carolina has lost a great leader.”

Lt. Gov Walter Dalton

“North Carolina has lost a dedicated public servant, a fine leader and a great man. Our thoughts and prayers are with Peg and his family during this difficult time. North Carolinians will never forget Commissioner Long’s 24 years of service at the Department of Insurance, his warm humor or his signature red ties, but most importantly they will never forget his love of the people.”

House Speaker Joe Hackney

“Commissioner Long was one of the most dedicated public servants in the history of our state and I am honored to have worked with him. During his years in office, he managed the difficult task of keeping our insurance rates among the lowest in the nation while also helping to keep our insurance industry one of the strongest. We also shared a connection to Alamance County, his home and my occasional workplace while I was an assistant district attorney. I will miss his humor and we will all miss his service.”

Friday, January 23, 2009

Time for time off...

Hey there all in the world of the web...I'm going to be out of the office and off air until Monday, February 2nd for some time off and family business.

In the meantime, the second half of my interview with House Speaker Joe Hackney airs next Friday Jan. 30 (1st half replays Sunday 11am). That should be plenty for you to think about while I rest! Ha ha..

Enjoy the last week of January and please check back in February! In the meantime keep the questions, comments, and concerns coming! I will be checking me emails!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Speaker Hackney interview

I had a chance to interview House Speaker Joe Hackney (Democrat) today for my show this weekend. He was nice enough to stop by our studios for a 25 minute Q&A session.

The interview will air on this weekend and next weekends editions of Political Connections (Fridays 6pm, Sundays 11am) only on News 14 Carolina.

Here's some of the brief highlights:

On the budget crisis: "It's a difficult time to be legislating, but we have an opportunity, I think, to try to lessen the pain and do what we can to save jobs."

"There will be a lot of cutting."

I asked if it was possible to avoid cuts in education. His answer was that education is 55-60% of the budget and you can't do all the cuts folks are talking about on the remaining 40% of the budget.

With the economy hitting people hard, Speaker Hackney also said they don't plan to raise taxes to balance the budget.

He says lawmakers will develop a lean budget and find as many inefficiencies that can be found.

Beyond the budget his second priority is reducing dropout rates in the state.

There's been talk recently about a miles driven tax replacing the fuel tax or added to it, but don't expect it anytime soon. Speaker Hackney doesn't believe it has developed enough to make it workable and it's not expected to be a prominent part of their deliberations on transportation.

Finally, some interesting comments about smoking legislation. "I believe this year you'll see a smoking ban in bars and restaurants," Speaker Hackney said.

Watch the show for these comments and much much more!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Busy afternoon...

Frm. Insurance Commissioner Jim Long's wife reports he suffered a stroke today. Below is the release and my previous entry on the subject.

RALEIGH, N.C. - Former N.C. Commissioner of Insurance Jim Long collapsed at the state legislature this afternoon following a hearing. He was transported by EMS to Rex Hospital where doctors determined Long had suffered a stroke. Doctors are continuing to evaluate his condition.

Commissioner Long's wife, Peg O'Connell, asks that media respect her family's privacy. "Commissioner Long is no longer a public figure and we would appreciate media respecting our privacy at this time," says O'Connell. "We will provide an update when there is a change in his condition."

She also expresses sincere gratitude to the people of this state. "We very much appreciate the calls and prayers of our friends and the citizens of North Carolina."

Hey everyone!

Unexecpted news to report from the General Assembly. Jim Long, longtime Insurance Commissioner, collapsed before a meeting.

First the medical news. He's at Rex Hospital. Current Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin says he knew something was wrong when Long didn't show up to his last official business which was the last Beach Plan Committee meeting. Goodwin says he collapsed while talking to a lawmaker down the hall from the committee room. He did say that he was awake and talking before he was taken to the hospital. His wife is now trying to fly back from Atlanta. Other family members are with him.

Long, who is 68 years old, spent 24 years as Insurance Commissioner. That position helps set insurance rates for homes and automobiles. He was also the state fire marshall. Long had just retired.

We'll keep you posted.

In other news, if you watched the inauguration you weren't alone. The Raleigh-Durham televsion market was the highest rated in the country! Perhaps the fact everyone was snowed in played a role!!

More to come when I get more news on Mr. Long...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What a day!

Whew! What a day! One of the country's most historic inaugurations and 6 inches of snow in NC! It created a great number of challenges and decisions to be made in our newsroom.

Thanks to the hundreds and hundreds of you who sent us pictures of your winter wonderland!

Now it's time for your feedback. How did we handle the big stories of the day? Did we balance the snow and inauguration well? Did we miss aspects of either story? For better or for worse, let's here your thoughts on what worked, what didn't, and what would have worked!

Thanks as always for watching!!

It's snowing!!!!

So much for global warming? What a morning to wake up to! I don't go into work until 2:00pm, but you have to understand while most people are excited to take a day off on days like today we typically work extra hours! But that's because our loyal viewers are home watching us hopefully! Anyway here's the view from my house! I'll have more behind the scenes from the newsroom this afternoon when I get to work!

By the way that's my black lab Bodie who's thoroughly enjoying the snow!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Snow? and your help please...

Yep. You read it right. Snow! Perhaps even 2-6 inches! I'm a Minnesota native so I thoroughly enjoy the talk and planning for it. You see, even a dusting gets everyone rather worked up. Emergency experts are telling us gather the soup and bread. I remember one Halloween in 1987 in MN (I dressed as a punk rocker and no I won't post a picture here) when we got 36 inches of snow in less than 24 hours. We missed one day of school!

We get pretty fired up here at News 14 Carolina as well. The bottom line is a huge number of people tune into news for the weather. It's a great time to be in the newsroom. However, the timing of the storm is creating a tough challenge for decision makers.

Not sure if you heard but apparently there's a large event going on in DC tomorrow? We obviously have massive coverage plans. Well, the impending snow storm creates a kink in everyone's plans. In the end we will have both covered thoroughly so stay tuned!

You see if we really do get 6 inches that could shut down quite a bit and create very dangerous roads. Whenever lives are potentially in danger it's an important news story. My managers are huddled up like generals in an army planning to deploy the troops to various spots across the state. Chief Meteorologist Gary Stephenson has his sleeves rolled up already (that's when you know it's serious)!

The bottom line is we can get some snow so be careful and stay home and watch News 14 Carolina. You can help us as well by sending in pictures of your snow and stories as well. Send them to me or

Also, I'm interviewing House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight this week. I'm looking for your questions that I will ask during the interview and post on the blog as well as air during the weekly show.

Stay safe!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Let's get this party started!

Hello and welcome to my new blog!! In my past life (five months ago) as Senior Political Reporter, I kept a blog related to my political reporting (clever huh?).

Now, as a news anchor I want to create another blog. So, here it is! What is it you ask? My goal for this new blog is simple-interaction and answers. I'm still heavily involved in our political coverage, so I will include those topics often as well.

I want to have direct interaction with you. Please email me any questions you have or want to have discussed. I'm also on Twitter and Facebook which you can access via links on the left hand side of the screen.

I want this to be our little community. If you have questions about stories we've covered, about me, about the station, or really anything, please ask away. I will answer everything I can in the best way possible.

I plan to give you behind the scenes information about how we put together the news and how we go about our business. I hope to give you more depth and background to the stories you see on our air.

And since I'm lucky enough to have direct contact with our state leaders, I want to ask them your questions and give you answers right here.

This is all about give and take and I will do my best to answer you directly and honestly.

So, ask away and let's get the conversation rolling!