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!