Saturday, February 28, 2015

This is a time for Senator Thom Tillis to back off!

While Senator Thom Tillis is (in his mind) smart to refuse to support Loretta Lynch for United States Attorney General because he doesn’t like her politics, claiming she would continue to pursue a law suit against a law he helped usher through the General Assembly when he was Speaker of the House, he needs to back off when it comes to a ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that reverses a law he ushered through the General Assembly when he was Speaker of the House.

His statements about Lynch are well documented and written about in this space yesterday. Today, we’re on the side of the FCC. To hell with the NC statute that limits expansion of city-owned broadband service. Thank you FCC. In this case, Tillis is not really on the side of the law he passed. He’s squarely on the side of private communications companies who supply landline services in a monopolistic fashion. These are the people with terrible service and the customer service skills of someone from the government who calls and says, “Hello, I’m from the government and I’m calling to help you.” Run for cover it that happens to you.

This case is about the town of Wilson NC which in 2008 established town-owned broadband service, offering better services for less than the privately owned firms do. The citizens went along with it because it was better, faster and cheaper than the private alternative. Remember, it was a start-up, and even if a private firm had come to town and installed all new equipment and provided services, financial losses would have been the norm, especially in 2008 when the economy tanked. Wilson lost nearly $7 million in the first five years before profiting by over $700,000 in 2013. Numbers are not available for 2014. In 2011, the town of Wilson wanted to extend its services beyond its borders. Tillis and his buddies in the General Assembly saw to it that Wilson had to stop at the town limits.

The law Tillis passed with lots of lobbying from his corporate friends prevented Wilson from expanding and was based on a taxpayer supported entity losing money while competing against free-market forces of private enterprise. (If that thinking applied to all of government, there would be no government. All government agencies, especially the General Assembly, "lose" money while operating.) At the time Tillis was not for the citizens of Wilson and beyond obtaining broadband (call it internet if you wish) at reasonable rates, those that are not gouged by the private companies such as Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Charter and others. Therefore, he was flabbergasted at the FCC ruling in favor or Wilson and against his law. In this case, Tillis should back off. It’s one thing to oppose the nomination of a North Carolinian to the post of US Attorney General; it’s a dastardly thing to do something to cause higher cable rates. This is a time for Senator Thom Tillis to back off!
-------------------- word of the day
butyraceous (adjective) [byoo-tuh-rey-shuh s]: of the nature of, resembling, or containing butter

Friday, February 27, 2015

Is “history-making” the top qualification for US Attorney General?

Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, both representing North Carolina, will vote against North Carolina native Loretta Lynch when she is on a full Senate ballot for the position of United States Attorney General. Their reasoning is because of policy differences, not politics as some prefer to reason. On the other hand, Representative GK Butterfield, also of North Carolina, while not allowed to participate directly with the confirmation, is purely political and biased in his reasoning why she should be selected. He prefers to use gender and race as her primary qualification.

Thursday, in the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s 12-8 vote in favor of sending the nomination of Lynch to the full senate for confirmation, Tillis, a freshman, voted nay. While voicing respect for Lynch, Senator Tillis gave sound reasoning for his negative ballot, taking a very conservative line in his way of thinking, something several prominent Republicans didn’t. He, and later Senator Burr, voiced his concern for laws of North Carolina that were passed under his watch as Speaker of the House, and that’s to be expected. Tillis obviously feels a strict allegiance to the state he represents. Agree or disagree with that approach, but thank him for his state loyalty.

At some point, Tillis may take a wider view of his job as a United States Senator, looking at the Senate as a national body and not made up of 100 people looking after 50 states. Maybe Tillis should have looked the other way and voted with the majority on the Senate Committee, but he didn’t need to do that, knowing the nomination would pass committee voting and be moved on to the full Senate. In using a disagreement over policy, he didn’t want to disappoint some of his home state constituents, even though Lynch is from North Carolina.

On the other hand, after the committee vote was complete, Representative Butterfield said in a statement: Sen. Tillis had an opportunity today to be on the right side of history in supporting the nomination of Ms. Lynch, who would be the first African-American woman to serve as Attorney General. It is disturbing that Sen. Tillis is beginning his tenure in the Senate by casting such a misguided and politically calculated vote. However, I’m confident that the full Senate will confirm Loretta Lynch, a daughter of North Carolina, as the next Attorney General of the United States.

Interpreting that statement, Butterfield says Lynch’s primary qualification is she would be the first African-American woman to serve as US AG. Butterfield may think Senator Tillis casted a “misguided and politically calculated vote” against Lynch, but at least Tillis seemed to be thinking beyond race and gender when studying qualifications. Lynch may be qualified, and, if confirmed, would be the first African-American woman in the post, indeed a big deal in our changing society. While the President has the right to nominate a person based on the President’s policy approach, Tillis was voicing disagreement with that. He was looking at how she might handle the law, and that’s more important that basing a vote on what Butterfield says is “the right side of history.” Butterfield needs to be more studious of issues before he cast ballots. But that’s not going to happen. In his time in Washington, most of the votes he has cast have been because of one thing: he’s a Democrat, voting the party line without due consideration of a wider view. He’s a rubber stamp for Democratic Party issues, what he calls “politically calculated,” and that’s much sadder than Senator Tillis voting against Lynch in Committee, if you feel Tillis was on the wrong side of the vote.
-------------------- word of the day
ad hockery (noun) [ad-hok-uh-ree]: reliance on temporary solutions rather than on consistent, long-term plans

Thursday, February 26, 2015

One game does not a season make … but it helps

(Editor’s Note: This post about NC State beating UNC 58-46 was supposed to run Wed, Feb 25, but the game Tues, Feb 24 ended too late to make Wednesday’s edition. But, if the game had been between UNC and Duke, it would have made it, no if, and or but…)

A few years ago in Carter-Finley Stadium, after NC State defeated East Carolina and as the fans exited the stadium, one Pirates fan was heard to say, “You State fans kill me; there’s only one game you really want to win each year and that’s against East Carolina.” That blond-haired female East Carolina fan doesn’t quite understand (didn’t expect her to understand). For the Wolfpack, it’s not the Pirates as the team to defeat if it's a football season with one win and 11 losses. It’s the Tar Heels, of course. A win against ECU is just a win, no more, no less. Losing to ECU is a drag on State’s program, the reason State doesn’t want or need to play East Carolina in football.

The blonde should understand that one game does not a season make. However, in some cases it does. For instance, last Thanksgiving weekend, the Wolfpack went to Chapel Hill and kicked UNC’s butts, 35-7, which actually "made" the season for NC State. A loss may have kept NC State out of a bowl. The win guaranteed a winning season and helped in recruiting. It gave the program the emotional high it needed. Fans were euphoric. And, when looking back at the 2014 season, that game will be remembered more than any other win including the bowl game and more than having Florida State on the ropes before collapsing. The season was a huge success because of beating UNC, especially in Chapel Hill. One game made it.

NC State’s 58-46 basketball win over UNC Tuesday night in Chapel Hill goes a long way in making this season as well. It did more for the Wolfpack than the Tar Heels’ win in Raleigh last month did for UNC. State may have been expected to win in Raleigh, but losing was not so much out of the question. In Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels were favored by nine and probably saw the game more a must, must win than State did just a must win, though the Wolfpack probably needed it solidify NCAA tournament qualification. As it turns out, the Wolfpack wanted it more than UNC, played better than UNC and was cause for UNC not playing up to the level expected by coach Roy Williams or its fans. State didn’t win because UNC played poorly. UNC played poorly because of NC State. Actually, Mark Gottfried out-coached Williams.

The season still has a long way to go for the Wolfpack. There remains three regular season games, all conference: at Boston College, at Clemson, Syracuse in Raleigh. Winning each gives State an outside chance—depending on how Louisville, UNC and Pitt do—at finishing in the top four and having a double bye in the ACC Tournament. (There’s always an outside chance.) Then there’s the ACC Tournament, and the NCAA event. State’s resume with 12 point wins against Duke and UNC and a nine-point win at Louisville is solid to get into the NCAA, but the Wolfpack cannot falter now. While the win Tuesday night isn’t today a season-maker, hopefully it shows the players that giving a complete effort will make its season better. In that regard, one game may turn out to be a successful season-maker.
-------------------- word of the day
inutile (adjective) [in-yoo-til]: of no use or service 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

School Board can’t win, can’t lose with school closing

(Editor's Note: The NC State Wolfpack's 58-46 win over the UNC-CH Tar Heels Tuesday night ended too late for inclusion of stories and photos in this edition. Doesn't matter, though. The score is enough. However, if the game had been between UNC and Duke, the entire posting today would have been about the game no matter what time it ended and how bad the weather.)
In 1975, the NC State student newspaper, Technician, included a short weather-report paragraph on the front page. It wasn’t detailed, just a short paragraph with mention of high temperature and sunshine or not. On April 1, 1975, the weather report was a little terse and reminded the readers they picked up the newspaper from outdoors locations on the way to class. The weather report said, Listen you twerps, you had to come outside to get this paper so if you’d just look around you’d know what the weather is.

Technology then not being what it is today didn’t provide details for forecasts we’ve all come to expect. Rarely was school called off the night before a snow storm. Usually, we had to tune to WWGP in Sanford to find out. The Atlantic weatherman, Bob Caudle, on WRAL-TV was good but not good enough. Today, it’s different because the meteorologists have all sorts of gizmos to tell us nearly exactly what’s going to happen. One thing, though, weather predicting, as accurate as it may seem, is not an exact science. For sure.

School systems may believe predicting the weather is an exact science. Last year, based on the latest data, Wake County schools were called off the day before expected snow which never came, and the public was out-raged at the problems caused when children miss day care, a.k.a. school. The weather report Monday evening this week called for snow later on Tuesday, so the buses were set to roll and many did. But, the skies opened with white stuff pouring down all day, and while the children were headed to school, the School Board called it off for the day. Out-rage again.

Now, here’s the kicker. With school out Tuesday and probably Wednesday and Thursday, spring break, saved by the bell before this latest round of wonderful snowy weather, is probably lost, at least a lot of it. To further complicate the situation, North Carolina law allows those students who were on the buses head to school Tuesday to get full credit for attendance that day though not setting foot inside a classroom, actually not off the bus. Not sure what happens to those in cars. What happens with attendance credit and snow make-up days is to be determined, but let’s face it: The School Board can’t win for losing or something like that.
-------------------- word of the day
pickwickian (adjective) [pik-wik-ee-uh n]: meant or understood in a sense different from the apparent or usual one

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Please don’t dismiss UNC Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity

Later this week, the UNC Board of Governors could vote to halt the operation of the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity on the UNC-CH campus. This is a direct appeal to the BOG (whose members are notified about posts to this website) to reconsider the recommendation to do so. It just wouldn’t be fair to get rid of the comic relief associated with the Center and its director, Gene Nichol, a man of the highest regard. If you don’t believe me on that statement—the one about Gene Nichol being a man of high regard—just ask him. He’ll tell you the same.

Professor, director, former President of William & Mary, and countless more adjectives, Nichol is a man of many words, not speaking or writing for UNC, of course. Hah! Sometimes, in his speaking, which he cannot edit once it’s said, he doesn't use correct grammar, and that’s not okay, but so be it. He’s probably more concerned with his out-of-control hairdo than with the use of lie or lay and I or me. Once, he told a reporter, “No one loves Carolina more than me” when he should have said “no one loves Carolina more than I.” If you don’t understand the difference, return to grammar school.

The bottom line with Gene Nichol is: Do as I say but not as I do. He may talk a big game when it comes to poverty in North Carolina, but he has no solutions other than to increase government spending. In all likelihood, Nichol has never done anything about poverty except talk about it. And, he talks big. As a matter of fact, he enjoys talking down to his superiors, such as Governor McCrory, but then it’s obvious that Nichol believes he has no superiors. He’s a liberal loud-mouth who might have a good cause, but he only talks and writes about it instead of actually doing something about it. Maybe he should take a few classes at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

It will be a shame to halt the Center because when Nichol talks, it’s great fodder for comics. But, the show will probably go on; Nichol will lose an official platform for his cause and a salary of $7,500. But, he’ll retain his position as the Boyd C. Tinsley Distinguished Professor in the UNC School of Law, a nine-month a year position (does he actually teach?) that paid him $205,400 last year. So whenever he speaks, he speaks for UNC, no matter what he says or what the small type at the end of his columns says. Even if the Center loses status, Nichol will continue to hold himself in high regard because, as he said, “No one loves Carolina more than me.” What does that mean? Simply this: No one loves Carolina more than they love Gene Nichol. If you don’t believe me, just ask him.
-------------------- word of the day
demassify (verb) [dee-mas-uh-fahy]: to break into elements that appeal to individual tastes or special interests

Monday, February 23, 2015

Make suggestions not complaints about making up missed school

If just once, we’ve gone over this a zillion times: When it snows or sleets or when freezing rain falls from the Greg Fishel (WRAL weatherman) infested skies, when the temperature doesn’t climb high enough to melt said snow, sleet or freezing rain from the roadways, schools will be closed for more days than anyone expects and be open for more days of spring break than anyone would want. It’s a fact of life in North Carolina. If you ain’t from around here, get over your complaining. It happens!

The amount of precipitation that accumulates and stays because of lack of warm air is never expected. Actually, it’s so rare (snow, sleet, gloom of night) in these parts that keeping enough snow removal equipment and chemicals and sand on hand to allow for regular travel is out of the question. So when it snows, etc., schools are dismissed early and remain closed until it warms up to allow all the secondary roads to clear au naturel. (Bad graphic, huh?)

When the roads and highways are not completely passable for school buses, schools remain closed, and the next sound you hear is one of dismay from the immigrants from states north of here who just don’t get it. They wonder aloud why the schools are closed to begin with, and then they absolutely complain about the schools remaining closed for more days than seem necessary. And then they complain about possible scenarios, especially when that means taking spring break days away from the planned and paid-for family vacation.

First school lesson about weather in North Carolina: There will be days when scheduled school will be closed for cold weather issues and possibly hurricanes. And when the classes are called off and the school systems must make sure students are instructed for 185 days or 1,025 hours, there are only so many ways to do it. These include: changing teacher workdays to school days; canceling early release days so they become normal days; banking in the extra time that schools have over the 1,025 hours; extending the end of the school year; holding classes on Saturdays; and, cutting into spring break and other vacation days and holidays. My suggestion: Instead of complaining about the closed schools, have fun in the snow and ice covered roads with the kids and make constructive suggestions to your local Board of Education on how to abide by the attendance laws.
-------------------- word of the day
brolly (noun) [brol-ee]: an umbrella (British informal)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A day of Dean Smith remembrance: Dec 28, 1973

Today is not December 28, 1973. It is February 22, 2014, the day when a sell-out crowd and then some will fill the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill to celebrate the magnificent life of one of the all-time great college basketball coaches, Dean Smith. Stories and remembrances have been written many times since his passing two weeks ago. He was remembered in this space on February 9: Dean Smith’s shadow will remain forever. He’s graciousness on Dec 28, 1973 will remain a fond memory with me.

As a long-time fan of NC State Wolfpack basketball, Dean Smith wasn’t admired in my early years as he has been in his later seasons for his coaching ability and his approach to life in general. He was the enemy, the one who somehow, someway taught Larry Miller to increase the speed of his hands so he could easily steal pass attempts by the other team. All he asked of his players was to be a little more aggressive and overplay tendencies of the opposition. His success in the late 1960s started to diminish the Everett Case place in Atlantic Coast Conference history, and that was disappointing to all Wolfpack followers. Only with State winning the 1974 and 1983 national titles and a few ACC championships in the 70s and 80s did the jealously subside a little.

There was something he did late in 1973 that will never be erased from my memory. Much of my family was spending Christmas in Hollywood FL with my Dad’s brother and his wife, Nat and Marilyn. The UNC Tar Heels were scheduled to play at Biscayne College on Dec 28. A call to the Biscayne Sports Information Office secured a couple of press passes for me and my brother, Brooks, under the guise that as sports editor of the NC State school newspaper and with UNC’s game after set against the Wolfpack in the Big Four tournament, watching that game would be a good way to write an advance story though the Technician, the NCSU student paper, would not publish again until well after the Big Four. There was no story written, but we went to the game.

UNC dismantled Biscayne, 112-72, in front of 2,000 people. Notes were taken, and we were headed to the door when Jack Williams, the UNC Sports Information Director, asked if he needed to make Dean Smith available for a post-game interview. Of course, we replied thinking it would be along with the other local reporters. Smith soon walked through the locker room door, turning right for us and ignoring momentarily the other reporters to the left. “Do you think a game such as this prepares you to play your next game against NC State (or something as that)?” he was asked. His team was ranked 4th in the nation that day and the Wolfpack was only 5th, but only because of a loss to UCLA a few weeks earlier. “Yes, every game we play prepares us in some way for our next game. Playing State will be tough; Norm has a good team (or something as that),” he said. There were two or three more questions and answers, but the interview was soon over. As he turned to walk away, he thanked me for coming and wished us safety back to our destination.
-------------------- word of the day
glitterati (plural noun) [glit-uh-rah-tee]: wealthy or famous people who conspicuously or ostentatiously attend fashionable events

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Speeding tickets are essential to DC budget! Ask me!

The speeding ticket, caught red-handed (or red NC State plated) by a traffic camera for going too fast on what seemed to be an interstate highway, came three months too late to help with the budget short-fall in Washington DC. Your vehicle was photographed violating District of Columbia traffic regulations on the date (December 27, 2014) and time (11:29:28 AM) listed below. Those few but accusing words were printed on the District of Columbia Notice of Infraction of the Metropolitan Police Department that arrived in the mail in mid-January. Guilty as charged unless appealed and then probably guilty anyway.

The citation which included a close-up of my license plate along with two photos of my car zipping past a camera said the car was traveling at 62 miles per hour in a posted 50 miles per hour zone. The highway looked like an interstate high, it traveled like an interstate highway, but in reality was and remains DC295, a highway in DC that looks and feels like an interstate highway, especially when trying to get out of town. The infraction took place at DC295 SW .7 miles south of exit 1 S/B, a well-know speed trap to residents of and visitors to our nation’s capital, truly beautiful place even with the Capitol building surrounded by scaffolding for repairs, the Capitol, not the scaffolding. Word is the Capitol will be ready in time for Hillary’s Coronation in about 23 months.

A Google search of that specific location—DC295 SW .7 miles south of exit 1 S/B—reveals quite a cache of fines for speeding there and throughout the District in similar speed traps. Actually, the District of Columbia relies on traffic cameras as a primary source of income. Last year’s projected income was $93,700,000! That’s $93.7 million dollars from catching drivers violating speeding laws, caught on radar cameras. Go figure! As of late August 2014, a month prior to the end of the fiscal year, DC’s effort resulted in only $26.1 million, just under $70 million less than budgeted, or more than 11%, below the annual $6.3 billion budget for everything there. The District of Columbia both encourages drivers to obey and ignore speed limit laws. It must get its cue from Congress.

The location of my infraction which does not carry a penalty of points against your license raked in more than $9,000,000 in fiscal 2012. All of DC295 which looks and feels like I-295, brought in nearly $24 million that year. The rest came from other speed traps throughout the District. My violation was appealed on-line with the defense of having just spent several days in Washington, supporting DC with taxes at restaurants, grocery stores and Target and with user fees for the Metro, and that the signs noting the speed limit of 50 mph were never seen so therefore awareness of exceeding the posted speed was not realized or the car would have been traveling at a lower speed. Besides, it was my first ever speeding violation. The response which took about four weeks came from Hearing Examiner J. Simpson. CONCLUSION OF THE LAW: Liable. The $100 fine has been paid.
-------------------- word of the day
auger (verb) [aw-ger]: to predict

Friday, February 20, 2015

UNC Board of Governors: Foxes shouldn't guard the hen house?

It’s probably not right to compare the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system to a hen house but when some people talk about the role of the Board of Governors in governing the system, it’s obvious “some people” want foxes out front. Reading the writings of students, faculty and staff about how to operate the system can lead one to think that way. Students, faculty and staff should be able to have input, to voice opinions, but then the BOG needs to do what it desires, even if that’s unseating a UNC President who has done nothing wrong except to be hired by Democrats.

It used to be that the President of the UNC system was strong and had the political ties to keep the BOG at bay (that’s how Bill Friday survived and the system flourished under his empire because his friends in high places trusted him to spend the money correctly). The BOG now is much more politicized and political in the transition of the make-up of the General Assembly from a majority of Democrats to a greater presence of Republicans. The difference in the two is that the Democrats prefer to throw money at education with the reasoning that more money means better education while Republicans believe the system is bloated in many ways and that a leaner University (less money; fewer administrators; maybe fewer campuses) will lead to a more responsive educational model while keeping the respect of the system high. Of course, there are a lot of students, faculty and staff who don’t see it that way.

The political march continues with new BOG members soon to make their way through the General Assembly appointive process. Some candidates actually campaign for the position for no reason other than to add the BOG tenure to a resume. Some of these candidates and eventual appointees have no business being on the BOG, not because they aren’t educators but because they have no clue about their responsibility to keep the UNC System strong, even through budget cuts. They just want the position for the perks, whatever they are.

While being appointed to the BOG is prestigious to some, the nomination process should move to the Boards of Trustees of the 17 campuses with each BOT submitting three names to the General Assembly and with the GA required to appoint at least one of the three, giving each of the 17 campuses at least one representative on the BOG. The remaining 15 selections should also come from those 51 names, giving the citizens of North Carolina a BOG that understands educational governance, especially if the nominees have served on one of the Board of Trustees. The present system is better than to let the students, faculty and staff of the 17 campuses tell the BOG what to do, but the present system can also be better.
-------------------- word of the day
doggo (adverb) [daw-goh, dog-oh]: in concealment; out of sight

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Donating dollars for teachers: the good, bad and ugly

It’s interesting, encouraging and a shame that it takes donations to prop up teacher salaries in North Carolina. It’s all those things and more that Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has spearheaded the effort for donations instead of leading the charge to vastly improve the education system and the pay scale thereof  through the General Assembly where he presides over the Senate.

Last year, he proposed and pushed through the General Assembly the establishment of the North Carolina Education Endowment Fund (NCEEF). The law allows individuals and corporations to make donations to the fund, and, in return, receive a tax deduction. Okay, let’s give money to a fund to give money to teachers and in return let’s take money from the state tax revenue. As a follow-up, this week, he moved to make another part of last year’s legislation reality by introducing the “I Support Teachers” license plate which though its purchase would funnel more money to the NCEEF.

All this may sound good; and, it may be. However, there’s a catch that is cause to pause from making donations and buying the license plate. The legislation that formed the NCEEF gives the authority to the legislators to pass out the money “for teach compensation that is related directly to improving student academic outcomes in the public education of the state.” Can you imagine the legislature deciding who gets that money? Show me the strings attached. Lt. Gov. Forest says, in a video, that “North Carolina’s highest performing teachers should be among the highest paid in the nation.” That sounds like an after-the-fact reward for giving out high grades just for financial gain.

As Lieutenant Governor, Forest is a voting member of the State Board of Education and the North Carolina Community College Board. In those positions, as Lieutenant Governor and while presiding over the Senate, he is in position to work for changes in education, change that would better finance the system, and change that would hire better teachers going in and with better starting salaries that substantially increase as the years of service lengthen. His ideas, on the surface, may sound good, but the results could be bad and eventually get ugly.
-------------------- word of the day
effulgent (adjective) [ih-fuhl-juh nt]: shining forth brilliantly; radiant

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How often do you call your Mother? Not enough, probably

It’s been nearly eight years since Mom passed away. In my mind, she’s still in her bed in her bedroom, talking to my siblings and me, pointing her finger at each one, telling us to be nice to each other. We knew the day would come soon, too soon for any of us; we knew she would slip from us at any moment, ending a life-long romance with a magnificent woman, a great teacher, and a caring mother. All of us would have given anything for her to stick around longer, much longer. In a few days, at just over 89 and a half years old, she was gone. In was early August 2007.

Looking back, it’s easy now to consider what would have made the Mother-Son relationship better, though, as her favorite for sure, it was good. In the waning years, months and days, there was the periodical visit to her in the home of my childhood, mainly to sit at the dining room table, enjoy a meal and help her pay the monthly bills, juggling her money politely so she would not have to be concerned. She enjoyed doing it herself, wanting to sign the checks until she was not able. Then we just reviewed where the income and savings were going and how much she had remaining before starting a lively discussion of religion and politics—she wanted to mix the two as most women of Southern heritage who were at least 50 years old preferred—and talking about her other children: one son living locally who visited more often; another son a couple of hours away at the beach who visited about the same; and the three daughters, one in Vermont, one in Barbados, one in Israel, each who visited as permitted but not enough for Mom.

The telephone calls between Mom and me faded in those final years and months. The ritual should have been daily just to say hello and ask her if the house temperature was too low or too high and if she had read the daily newspaper and what was happening in our hometown and to tell her about my work and my wife and children, to keep her brain active and sharp. But the calls, unfortunately, sometimes seemed like a chore on my side and the frequency reduced itself seemingly naturally. That’s a shame.

How often should one call his or her Mother? No doubt the relationship between Mother and child is usually warmer and more desirable than between Father and child. It’s a nurturing conversation from the Mother and more of business talk with the Father. Dads usually enjoy talking to the off-spring but Mothers gets warmth from it. Calling your Mother is important, probably more so to Mom than to the child. And while the telephone lines run in both directions, it is the child’s responsibility to check in with Mom as often as possible, daily if the opportunity rises, just to say hello and ask how she’s doing, not turning the conversation the other way around unless asked by Mom. Some of us wish we could go back and make those calls. 

For those who still have a Mother, it’s not too late to start calling, regularly and often. No emails. No Facebook. No text messages. Maybe a hand-written note, but better yet, a simple telephone call. “Hi, Mom, how are you?” is much of what it takes to make two people—Mother and child—happy. Remember, it's all about Mom, how she feels, what's she doing. If she turns the conversation to you, work your way back to her. When it's all over, she'll thank you for thinking of her, and calling.
-------------------- word of the day
thaumaturge (noun) [thaw-muh-turj]: a worker of wonders or miracles; magician

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow, Flexible Flyers, road scrappers and hot chocolate

Whenever the weather forecast calls for snow, thoughts turn to Forest Drive in McCracken Heights in Sanford. The slope isn’t very steep and the distance is not too long, but when it snowed, before the city trucks could make it to the outskirts of town to make way for cars, it was a sledders delight. Most of us had Flexible Flyers made by S.L. Allen & Co., of Philadelphia and sold locally at the Western Auto store and Gallup’s Hardware, both on Wicker Street across the street from each other.

We started at the top of the hill between the Golden and Clark homes, running with sled in hand long enough to get a fast start before throwing the sled onto the track and jumping on. We glided past the Keith, Taylor and Cragan homes on one side and my house and the Palmer and Baroody homes on the other side before reaching the bottom in front of the Cox home just as the street started slightly uphill. Sometimes, not very often, someone would make it over that rise and down the next hill past the Stewart house before stopping. The walk back to the top was tiring but quick so we could do it again.

The approaching sound of the large trucks , the snow plows, was disheartening. We knew their work would quickly end the fun. We discouraged the drivers from their work including lobbing snow balls but that didn’t stop them. Once, a driver’s window was slightly lowered, just an inch or two, and a snow ball made its way through the opening, into the cab and to the neck of the driver. It caused a little ruckus, nothing that resulted jail time or community service. But, the plowing was over for the day. At least once, my Mom convinced the snow plow operator to skip scraping Forest Drive.

We were just kids, having fun in the snow, upset that the adults were taking away our winter wonderland. Once that happened, the snowball fights ensued until a mother asked if anyone wanted hot chocolate. Then it was inside to shed wet clothes and to warm feet and hands, until we started getting restless and were encouraged by that mom to vacant her home and to venture back into the snow to play.
-------------------- word of the day
ballast (noun) [bal-uh st]: anything that gives mental, moral or political stability or steadiness

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sex from a lobbyist is not considered a gift to officials

The timing of a ruling by the State Ethics Commission was perfect, some would say. It was adopted the day before Valentine’s Day. It came as the result of questions from an unknown attorney to the Secretary of State’s Lobby Compliance Division which oversees lobbyists in North Carolina. The question was purely hypothetical, asking if a lobbyist engaged in sex with an official (member of or staff member of a State legislator or some other official), it that reportable as a gift. Anyway, this is such a good story, why leave out any of the details. Here is the text of the ruling as presented in a letter from the State Ethics Commission to the Compliance Director of the Secretary of State’s office:

This is in response to your request for a formal advisory opinion submitted on behalf of the North Carolina Secretary of State (“the Secretary”). You have asked whether consensual “sexual favors or sexual acts” between a lobbyist and a designated individual constitute a gift or “thing of value” that would trigger the gift ban and reporting requirements of the Lobbying Law and whether those activities would fall within the definition of “goodwill lobbying” and trigger the Lobbying Law’s registration obligation. You have made this request in a general and largely hypothetical context, with little or no supporting facts. This response must therefore be likewise limited.

This opinion was adopted by the State Ethics Commission at its February 13, 2015, meeting.

Section 120C-303(a)(1) of the Lobbying Law restricts a registered lobbyist from giving a gift to a designated individual unless a gift ban exception applies. “Gift” is defined as “[a]nything of monetary value given or received without valuable consideration….” G.S. 138A-3(15). A lobbyist must report certain “reportable expenditures,” defined to include gifts and “things of value” greater than $10 per day given to a designated individual or immediate family member.

Consensual sexual relationships do not have monetary value and therefore are not reportable as gifts or “reportable expenditures made for lobbying” for purposes of the Lobbying Law’s expenditure reporting provisions. See G.S. 120C-402 and G.S. 120C-403.2 However, a lobbyist or lobbyist principal’s provision of paid prostitution services by a third party to a designated individual could constitute a gift or thing of value, albeit an illegal one, depending on the particular facts. You have not provided any information that this is an issue in this situation.

You have also asked whether consensual sexual relationships between a person and a designated individual could constitute “goodwill lobbying” and would thereby trigger the lobbyist registration requirements of the Lobbying Law, G.S. 120C-200. It is unclear why you have asked this question, because in the scant factual assumptions provided, you state that your question concerns a relationship between a “lobbyist” and a designated individual, so presumably the person in question is already registered. Indeed, if there were no lobbyist involved, there would be no need to even consider the application of the Lobbying Law’s gift ban or expenditure reporting requirements. However, in order to avoid the need to further address these issues, the Commission will respond to your question.

G.S. 120C-200 requires the registration of a “lobbyist,” which is defined as an “individual who engages in lobbying” and is employed by the lobbyist principal or receives payment for lobbying. G.S. 120C-100(a)(10). “Lobbying” includes both direct lobbying and “developing goodwill through communications or activities, including the building of relationships, with a designated individual … with the intention of influencing current or future legislative or executive action.” G.S. 120C-100(a)(9). Thus, if the lobbyist does not receive payment from the lobbyist principal for engaging in the sexual relationship which you reference, which the Commission presumes to be the case here, those activities would not constitute goodwill lobbying and would therefore not trigger a registration requirement.

In your December 15, 2014, request for a formal advisory opinion, you requested that the Commission publish this opinion in an unredacted form; thus you have waived confidentiality as provided for in N.C.G.S. § 120C-102(d).3

Please do not hesitate to call the Commission’s staff if you have any questions about the foregoing formal advisory opinion.

Nice to know that sexual favors by lobbyists to members of the General Assembly could result in favorable legislation without regard to the gift reporting law. One might wonder if the State Ethics Commission members or the State Ethics Commission staff can apply the ruling to themselves. No accusations; just thinking aloud, wondering. Click those links to get to know the SEC members and the SEC staff.
-------------------- word of the day
polymathy (noun) [puh-lim-uh-thee]: learning in many fields; encyclopedic knowledge

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Hatfield-McCoy feud lives on: Duke-UNC

That famous feud between West Virginia and Kentucky families, the Hatfield clan and the McCoy people, lives on with the petty rivalry between Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill. The most recent skirmish involved a post-athletics contest and a pissing match that has ensued. Please excuse the graphic language but that’s what it is. It's a backwoods skirmish that just will not go away.

In late November, the Tar Heels football team laid a beating on the Blue Devils on the latter’s home turf, Wallace Wade Stadium. With the win, the light blue tribe retook the precious (to these two teams only) Victory Bell from the royal blue clique. Due to previous ownership, the Bell was mounted on a cart painted the darker shade of blue. The UNC peeps, armed with cans of light blue spray paint, did what the winner always does; they changed the color of that cart to the victor’s color of blue. The television network showing the game prolonged its telecast to reveal what was soon dubbed the most exciting part of the entire telecast. As the picture faded to black, the audience thought the celebration was over.

“Not so fast my friend,” as Lee Corso would say. The Picasso effort was not complete. Paint started to fly and landed on practice facility turf, walls, and carpet, and the Stadium. Total replacement and clean-up bill for the damages was $27,170.44 and sent to UNC-CH whose coach, Larry Fedora, called Duke coach David Cutcliffe to apologize. Cutcliffe didn’t return his call. The UNC athletics director, Bubba Cunningham, complained about the non-returned call and questioned the charges, but paid half of the bill from his personal checking account as did Fedora the other half. With their inflated salaries, just as all coach’s and athletics directors salaries could, they could have paid that bill many times over. Then Cunningham mentioned damage to UNC’s south Building, painted D-U-K-E, and happen to mention that UNC paid to sandblast away the paint.

“…we have no idea who did this,” Cunningham wrote to Duke AD Kevin White, “but I simply included it to demonstrate that all fans, teams, coaches, students, etc., need to appreciate and respect the rivalry.” Or the pissing match. If the two schools can’t act like adults in the aftermath of a victory and in the aftermath of the aftermath, maybe it’s time to lay to rest the Hatfield-McCoy fued. The rest of us would like that very much but, no, we have to be subjected to it again this week and again in a few more weeks, and again and again. Why? Because that petty rivalry has the media in a frenzy, a passion the media will not ignore.
-------------------- word of the day
belie (verb) [bih-lahy]: to show to be false; contradict

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine’s Day: roses, cards, gifts, food and Al Capone!

Today is a day that seems to get a man in trouble, not for doing something he shouldn’t do but for not doing something he should, or at least for not doing something his wife or girlfriend expects him to do. It’s Valentine’s Day, supposedly a time for flowers, greeting cards that allude to love and sex, jewelry, dinners with lots of wine, and compliments galore. But it didn’t start out that way.

Valentine’s Day, according to that reliable source Wikipedia and many other research sites, is also known as Saint Valentine’s Day which “began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.”  The reference book Encarta says Valentine’s Day is “the Christian feast day of St. Valentine and the traditional day for sending a romantic card or gift, especially anonymously, to somebody you love.” So it can be one or the other or both, yet it’s usually the wife or girlfriend that decides.

So, just as Christmas, the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, has turned into a massive commercial time of year when Santa Claus removes religion and shows up for the kids with toys and such and when gifts are purchased only to be returned a few days later to the place of purchase, Valentine’s Day these days has little to do with religion, unless you’re the wife or girl friend who religiously looks forward to a day of wine and roses. In my many years of attending church services, there’s no recollection of a sermon about that Valentinus saint guy.

Those with any historical thought have some knowledge of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre when, in 1929 in Chicago, Al Capone’s  South Side Italian gang, posing as cops, murdered six members of Bugs Moran’s North Side Irish gang in an effort to control all of organized crime in Chicago. It may have been Italian Catholics going after Irish Catholics, so there’s some religious connection. Women must have been involved or it just wouldn’t have been Valentine’s Day.

Ted Danson, known for his role as the bartender in the “Cheers” television hit, probably said it best about Valentine’s Day when, as John Becker, the lead in the television series “Becker” that aired 1998-2004 on CBS, he said “the only person to ever celebrate Valentine’s Day right was Al Capone.” Peace and love to all on this Valentine’s Day.
-------------------- word of the day
pigsney (noun) [pigz-nee]: a darling

Friday, February 13, 2015

Are you superstitious? Do you fear the number 13?

For some reason, years ago, as a kid, playing midget football, the number 13 jersey was given to me. It became my favorite number except when trying to win the Powerball. For that, the numbers include 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 23, 27, 27, 51 and 52, but obviously not all the time. There is no superstition in their choosing, just numbers associated with dates. There are other numbers which could be used if Powerball or MegaMillions or any of the other games of chance would allow. 13 has never been used. Maybe, after many failed PowerBall attempts, that should be rethought.

There is no superstition in not using number 13. The superstition is in using the others. Maybe that’s not a superstition at all. A superstition is an irrational belief or beliefs that something good or bad will happen as a result of the belief. For instance, when playing golf, after marking the ball on the green with the head side of a quarter up, if the putt goes in the cup, the head side of the coin will always be up until a putt is missed. Then tails is up until…we’ll you get the gist of that superstition.

Pam Valvano, wife of the late coach Jim Valvano, couldn’t stay in her seat during the nine-game winning run that led NC State to the national championship in 1983. During that span, she never saw the final minutes of those games as she departed the arena proper at just the right time, headed for the concourse, and paced, sometimes accompanied by others who bought into the superstition that the Wolfpack could not win without the pacing or if Pam and the others were actually watching the game. Winning had nothing to do with a magnificent pass from Dereck Wittenberg to Lorenzo Charles in the final seconds against Houston. It was Pam’s pacing that won that game and others.

Today is the first of three Fridays the 13th of 2015, an unusual occurrence for one year. Usually there are two max. With February and March both starting off the month with the 1st on a Sunday, there’s two Fridays the 13th right off the bat. After March, we wait until November for another Friday the 13th. And, speaking of bats, today is opening day for NC State baseball and other area college teams. Players entering and exiting the playing field will jump across chalk lines, and you can be sure in one dugout or the other at any of these games, the players will be wearing their caps in some silly fashion. These are known as rally caps, a magical power that might result in a win, or not.
-------------------- word of the day
triskaidekaphobia (noun) [tris-kahy-dek-uh-foh-bee-uh]: fear or phobia concerning the number 13

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Support/Illumination? Causation/Correlation? Questions/Educators

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Vin Scully, among others, once said: Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination. When it comes to studying the recent school grades handed out for North Carolina public schools, there are some drunks using the facts to support theory without looking deeper at the issue.

A statistical look at the results show lower performing schools had students from lower income levels. The schools with fewer students receiving subsidized lunches, wrote one reporter, did better than the high poverty schools. That’s one statistical analysis of the report card, and the facts are used to support a theory that lower income based schools do not perform as well as schools with higher income levels.

But, is increased levels of subsidized lunches, is attendance by children from lower income homes the reason for the low performing schools? Are these stats pulled from the report card the reason for the results? Is the drunk using the lamppost to prop up a theory but not for elucidation? Lower income families may not have the required resources outside the school system to educate children outside the classroom, an important part of educational development. But is that the problem? Maybe it’s the staff and teachers.

Apex High School in Wake County received an “A” and had a 10% free/reduced lunch rate. Southeast Raleigh High received a “C” and had a 55% free/reduced lunch rate. Is the issue the level of free/reduced lunches. Again, maybe, it’s the staff and teachers. Maybe the teachers at Southeast do not know how to teach in “high poverty” schools, if Southeast is such. As an experiment, next year, transfer the staff and teachers from Apex to Southeast Raleigh and move the staff and teachers from Southeast Raleigh to Apex. Then look at the results. Or it just may be the students. Compare the test results of the 55% of the students who had free/reduced lunch rate against the other 45% to see if it’s the students or the teachers. Maybe there’s illumination in that study.

There’s another old saying that can also be applied: When confused about the difference between causation and correlation, remember that beating a tom-tom during an eclipse will always bring back the sun. Think about it. Is an abundance of students who receive free/reduced rate lunches the reason for low performing schools or is it that those students just happen to be attending low performance schools which receive low grades for some other reason? Or maybe, the low grades received by the schools are due to bad teaching and that leads to lower educated students who grow up to have lower income levels, poverty and free/reduce lunches for their children. And the cycle continues.
-------------------- word of the day
skookum (adjective) [skoo-kuh m]: excellent; first-rate; large; powerful; impressive

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When is a tax cut a tax increase?

The General Assembly wants to cut gas taxes by 2.5-cents while placing a floor of 35-cents to the gas tax to come. Currently the tax is 37.5-cents per gallon but if nothing is done the tax could go to under 30-cents a gallon. Believe it or not, anyone who buys gas for cars, trucks, lawnmowers, etc., a tax cut will result in a tax increase, eventually, but not right away. And in future years as the price of gas rises, as predicted, the tax will increase to levels not seen in North Carolina.

Under the current law, the gas tax is projected to fall as much as six to eight cents a gallon in July; if it does the new floor will be a tax increase of what the price could have been. Saying this will be a tax increase is like saying a reduction of an increase in spending is a cut when actually more money is being spend but the amount is growing at a lower percentage of overall spending. However, if the General Assembly passes the law this tax cut will be a tax increase which will be good because if tax revenue from gasoline sales decreases funds in the state Department of Transportation kitty that will mean fewer highway improvements for what we all know is the “Good Roads” state.

While the last sentence may not, it makes sense to have the gasoline tax floor, but what makes better sense (and cents) will be to develop new income methods to fund repairs and improvements to roads and highways as well as new highways. With miles per gallon for cars and trucks increasing, sales of gasoline decrease. With more telecommuting, fewer workers are on the roads; therefore less gas is being consumed; therefore less tax income. In reality, more toll roads and a tax on mileage must be studied, discussed and implemented. Why should someone who drives a Prius 15,000 miles a year on North Carolina highways at an average of 50 miles per gallon pay less to use those miles than someone in a Honda CRV at 30 miles per gallon or a Ford F-150 truck at 15 miles per gallon? Use of 15,000 miles is the same for all three.

What the General Assembly is suggesting with the floor on the gasoline tax at the pump makes sense and needs to move ahead. What makes better sense is a comprehensive plan to increase overall revenue for the primary purpose of road and highway improvement. Here’s an idea to go along with use taxes: How about a Pick Two lottery where 50 percent of all revenue goes to the highway fund instead of the education fund which has already received more than $3.6 billion since the North Carolina Lottery started. The money for roads would serve a better purpose than sticking it in education funding. If we do not have a good transportation system of roads and highways all those benefiting from education will not be able to drive to work to pay those higher gasoline taxes.
-------------------- word of the day
sternutation (noun) [stur-nyuh-tey-shuh n]: the act of sneezing

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Should Brian Williams be held to a higher standard?

Mika Brzezinski, the sidekick to Joe Scarborough on the MSNBC eye-opening (only because it comes on at 6:00 a.m.) broadcast Morning Joe, commented on the Brian Williams incident Monday. And, what she had to say, well, it wasn’t exactly deep. She was trying to take a higher ground while trying to defend Williams who has lied to the American public as he’s delivered the news for the NBC Nightly News. She’s quick to not take sides, one way or the other (“I just mean…” she usually says before trailing off without further opinion). She tries to justify everyone’s opinion except those of which she disagrees and then she’s wishy-washy.

To paraphrase, or at least report what was thought to be said, Mika, who for some odd reason is a model of excellence to viewing women while the men who sit around the table with her each day appear to be somewhere else when she talks, asked if Williams should be held to a higher standard and therefore not exaggerate his reporting, especially when it comes to injecting himself into the story as part of the news. Mika couldn’t decide to defend or trash the news anchor.

The TV news these days is less important to watch as it was years ago, prior to the Internet, Twitter and all the other social media. And before that, CNN and then MSNBC and then Fox News made the 30-minute broadcast at 6:30 each day following the local news obsolete. Except for the weather, the local news broadcast is nearly outmoded. Of course, if you like murders, fires and traffic jams due to wrecks, you can watch the top of the local news broadcast to learn about murders, fires and traffic jams due to wrecks. There has to be more important stuff to report. Death and taxes may be absolute but the local news doesn’t have to report it each day. While government and politics is not sexy enough to the masses, local TV news as well as local newspapers should educate with its reporting instead of playing the shock and awe ratings game. “Hey Mildred, come watch this trailer fire in Goldsboro.” And we wonder why educating the children is so difficult.

Back to Williams and Mika who should give us more depth for no other reason than she’s the daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski, a smart man when it comes to foreign policy and national security even though he worked for President Lyndon Johnson (supporting the war in Vietnam) and for President Jimmy Carter (no need to say anything else about that). Even the show Mika co-hosts has added more “entertainment” at the expense of politics, government, economics and other subjects that give the viewers something to think about other than how a selfish musical artist acted on the Grammy Awards the night before. Even though it is more of an opinion show, Morning Joe (the show)—just as Williams, who probably will not return to the news theatrical stage—should be held to a higher standard when it comes to content. First point of emphasis should be to remove personal involvement in favor of real news such as Walter Cronkite telling us that the United States is losing the war in Vietnam. Wonder if Mika’s Daddy heard that.
For a closer look, watch Jon Stewart.
-------------------- word of the day
commensal (adjective) [kuh-men-suh l]: eating together at the same table

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dean Smith’s shadow will remain forever

With the passing of Dean Smith, this is a good time to reflect on his impact specifically on Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina, and the Atlantic Coast Conference, and in general on college basketball. As the all-time name and face of Tar Heels basketball, he was picked on by NC State and other college basketball fans. Most of the picking was meant to be light-hearted. Those who didn’t feel that way didn’t understand his greatness.

For the town of Chapel Hill, Smith’s respect is reflected by his devotion to the mission of Binkley Memorial Baptist Church, which, according to its website, is a community of faith on a journey that calls for questioning, humility and conviction. As followers of Jesus, we embrace spiritual growth, mutual care and service, assured that as we serve out neighbors, we joyfully serve God. Intentionally inclusive, we welcome people of all races, sexual orientations, and cultures, respecting diverse religious experience within the church and beyond. We invite others to join us in our commitment to peace, justice, and care for creation. That was Dean Smith, a famous face connected to a caring congregation. That mission easily sums how he approached his job as coach.

In the Atlantic Coast Conference, he took what Everett Case of NC State and Frank McGuire at North Carolina developed before him and fine-tuned it into a program that was both respected and hated—maybe that’s too strong; maybe the dislike was envy run amok—throughout the league by fans, coaches and players alike. Smith was a student of the game and imaginative in his approach, developing active defenses that resulted in aggressive offenses. He will always be known as a great basketball coach in the ACC and throughout college basketball.

At UNC, he will always cast a shadow over those who came before him, including McGuire, those who have come after him, including Roy Williams, and those who will come later. At NC State, it was Case who put the Wolfpack on the college basketball map, dominating the old Southern Conference and later the early ACC, but after Case aged and retired, Norm Sloan made his mark, not replacing Case but earning a seat next to him. Then Jim Valvano came to Raleigh and created another totally different chapter for the Wolfpack, one that also sits alongside Case and Sloan.

With Smith, his shadow at UNC lengthened after his retirement in 1997. Those who have followed him as the head coach are nowhere close to where Smith established his place in Carolina basketball history. It has been 18 years since Smith coached a game there, yet he remains the standard for all Tar Heel fans. Others at UNC may win more games and more championships, but none will equal or surpass Dean Smith, especially if those who follow are part of the UNC family of players and coaches. It will take an extraordinary person, a superior coach, one not associated with Carolina to come close to toppling Smith from the Tar Heels top spot. And that’s a high standard, a tough mountain to climb, a challenge some will refuse knowing failure is more possible than surpassing the legend.
-------------------- word of the day
peacock (verb) [pee-kok]: to make a vainglorious display; strut like a peacock

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Freedom of Information Act: How did the reporter know to ask?

If you read about NC State basketball in the Raleigh newspaper, there are several on-going references to bad officiating, missed calls that would have benefited the Wolfpack if called. Most recently, Friday’s story in the newspaper centered on the lack of a flagrant one foul with just over 40 seconds to go in the Wake Forest game played Tuesday. If called, State would have had several free throw attempts and possibly made up the losing difference of four points.

What’s interesting and a little out of the ordinary was the third paragraph of story: “The News & Observer obtained a copy of Yow’s email Thursday via a Freedom of Information Act request.” Now, imagine this: The game was played Tuesday night, and by Thursday, the writer (or someone at the paper) was able to obtain an email between the Atlantic Coast Conference office and Wolfpack Athletics Director Debbie Yow through the Freedom of Information Act. Question: How did the reporter know to ask?
To do that, here’s what some suspect happened, just a theory: Yow—wanting to make sure the public knows of missed calls that go against the Wolfpack—called or somehow sent word to the reporter to say ACC head of officials John Clougherty sent her an email saying the officials missed the call. This would happen after either Yow or State basketball coach Mark Gottfried made a formal inquiry with the ACC. Once the writer knew about the email, the writer would ask Yow directly for the email but Yow couldn’t do it that way. Proper channels would be through a Freedom of Information Act request. So the reporter made that request of Yow or someone else in the NCSU athletics department to make it official. Just a theory.

The Wolfpack was blessed for many years to have Frank Weedon as sports information director and as associate athletics director. Frank would keep a play-by-play of every game, even sitting in the stands, and he would keep a written record of what he thought were questionable calls. Yow might doing the same; who knows. But, if the theory is correct, in getting the word out via conversations with the reporter, she’s doing her job to make sure Wolfpack fans get the idea that the ACC is totally against NC State.

Maybe a Freedom of Information Act request of Yow’s telephone records to show calls to and from reporters as well as her emails of the same would reveal items of more interest. Maybe she should just shrug her shoulders and laugh it off. We all know that Chris Corchiani did not walk against Georgetown many years ago, but for the most part, Jim Valvano just laughed off hysterics by Weedon over officiating. Yow and all State fans, this writer included, should laugh off the officiating mistakes. It happens.
-------------------- word of the day
solipsistic (adjective) [sol-ip-sis-tik]: of or characterized by the theory that only the self exists

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The passing of two legends: Charlie Sifford and Don Shea

Two legends of sports passed away this week. Monday it was Don Shea, most notably the sports anchor for WTVD-TV for 17 years and 30 years associated with the NC State Department of Athletics, and Charlie Sifford, a pioneer of minority representation on the PGA tour. Shea was a young 77 who died in his sleep; Sifford was a young 92 who just last year received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Several stories have been written about the two over the last few days. There’s little reason to repeat what the previous writers have penned. However, relating a couple of stories might be appropriate. Sifford was an African-American who had an interesting professional golf career. He wasn’t an overwhelming great player, but a trailblazer of the sport. For the most part, he was classy in public. Shea was a friendly man who cared a lot about others and put on a great appearance with his dapper outfits. He knew his sports, and even when he didn’t, he made it up so well you thought he knew his sports.

In 1974, the PGA conducted two events simultaneously at MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary: the US Match Play Championship and the L&M Open. Sifford was in the latter. He was not playing particularly well and finished the tournament near the bottom. He came to the 18th hole not really interested in his game, just wanting to finish, get off the course and head to his next stop. After a wayward drive and bad second shot, he hit his third shot just short of the front of the green of the par four. As he walked up the fairway, he took his putter from his caddie and basically slapped at the ball as he continued walking. The hole was cut in the back middle of the green, and Sifford’s halfway attempt rolled up the hill and into the cup for a par. Those watching near the green applauded. Sifford laughed, retrieved his ball, tipped his cap to the fans and exited.

The various stories the last few days about Shea say he went from being stationed at Fort Bragg to the Durham Morning Herald and to WTVD, but that’s not quite the whole story. The reason he made his way to Durham was because of Ed Seaman, the longtime Sports Information Director at NC State who was previously the sports editor of the Fayetteville Observer, at the time an afternoon paper. According to Seaman, who passed away in October 2013 at age 91, Shea was on his staff a short period of time. Due to his late nights in Fayetteville, Shea consistently had a tough time reporting to work for the early morning schedule of the Observer. Seaman warned him that tardiness would be reason for dismissal. Soon thereafter, Seaman came through on his promise; Shea was off to Durham, the newspaper and WTVD. Seaman, in a light-hearted way, always took credit for Shea’s success as a television sports anchor/reporter.
-------------------- word of the day
epistolize (verb) [ih-pis-tl-ahyz]: to write a letter