In Defense Of Mike

I have very recently felt compelled to throw water on the raging fire of criticism that has been directed at our Governor over at The Dome, as it seems that virtually any story about him lately inspires a feeding frenzy of contempt and vitriol.

Aside from the fact that he's a Democrat and we're knee-deep in an election year, his casual dismissal by people within the Party itself is troubling to me, because it shows that we are prone to disruption by sensationalism and either refuse to recognize or can't see the progressive traits that he has. I'm going to mention a few of these in this diary, but I encourage you to take an honest look yourselves and see what you can find about his administration that you can find positive.

Regardless of your political leanings, one of the things that we can (almost) all agree on is the oft-used observation, "Education is the key." Whether it's the "key" to a reduction in crime, social and economic stability, understanding the positive and negative potentials in public policy so that our votes are more effective, etc., we can all agree that education is one of the most important issues we have.

With that in mind, I find it hard to understand how the NEA's recent award to Governor Easley has been met with indifference on the Left and outright derision on the Right.

"Public school transformation happens at the local and state levels," said NEA President Weaver. "Gov. Easley recognizes that when developing and implementing education policies, teachers must have a seat at the table. NEA is proud to present this award to Gov. Easley. The 'America's Greatest Education Governor Award' recognizes leaders like Easley for embracing the basic right of every child to have access to a great public school."

Elected governor of North Carolina in 2000 and reelected in 2004, Easley's commitment to education includes three hallmark initiatives: the highly successful More at Four program, the state's first academic preK program for at-risk four-year-olds; the award-winning N.C. Learn and Earn initiative, which allows high school students to jump-start their college education through 42 Learn and Earn high schools located on community college or university campuses; and EARN grants, which have allowed approximately 25,000 students from low- and moderate-income families to receive up to $8,000 of financial aid over two years.

Just like our Governor, the NEA is not perfect. Like any association, it is prone to influence and misplaced priorities. But this association and its over three million members have vastly improved our education system(s) nationwide, and for our Governor to be recognized in this fashion is a tribute to not only him, but the people who put him in office, as well.

Here's a link to a fat pdf I recently posted over at The Dome defending the effectiveness of the Governor's More At Four pre-k program.

Governor Easley also chose to tackle another extremely critical (and hard to fix) issue, but a lot of his efforts in this area have gone virtually unnoticed, except for those who have attacked him for it.

North Carolina is in the middle of a persistent and potentially devastating drought, and the governor has been working on both public awareness campaigns as well as attempts to address the problem through legislation:

Looks can be deceiving. Although our planet seems full of water, only 2.5 percent is freshwater. And only one quarter of that 2.5 percent is available to us for consumption and use, the rest is in the form of glacial ice and snow. Put another way, if all the Earth’s water was in an 18-liter water cooler bottle, the available freshwater would only fill three teaspoons.

Over the last few years in North Carolina, we have begun to experience growing pressure on our water resources. The state’s rapidly increasing population in some areas, paired with persistently below average rainfall, continue to intensify the issue.

Water has historically been an under-valued and under-priced resource, despite being absolutely critical to our survival. But more and more, we are seeing the importance of water and possibilities for conservation.

While very few folks complaign about efforts to "educate the public", it's a totally different story when government begins to take action steps it deems are necessary to solve problems. As I'm sure you've read lately, many folks who have private wells (or those who hate government intervention) have been fighting efforts by the Governor and the DENR to regulate their water usage. Hat tip to our lovely and capable Radio Girl for talking about this:

Governor Easley and conservation groups had called for stringent statewide standards for water use reduction in extreme drought. The initial proposal also included incentives for farmers to report their water use, along with restrictions barring private well users from watering their lawns when public system users face similar bans.

Guess which of the above recommendations made it into the committee substitute? Yep, that'd be none.

This is not a new issue, and Governor Easley is not the first of our leaders to try to get a handle on it. Back in the early 1990's legislation was passed mandating a statewide water system planning/evaluation be performed. We now have reams of information on this subject, and it's long past time to act. Governor Easley knows this, which is why he's been pushing the issue against overwhelming opposition.

And he's been doing so for some time now. From 2005:

The Governor is asking all citizens to minimize nonessential water use and adhere to water restrictions in their local communities.

Citizens can conserve water by adopting the following tips:

• Use dishwashers only when they are full. Washing dishes by hand (without the tap running) saves about 25 gallons.
• Adjust the water level on clothes washing machines, if possible. Wash full loads only if not adjustable.
• Irrigate your lawn between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. to prevent water loss through evaporation.
• Water your lawn only when it shows signs of wilt. Grass that springs back when stepped on does not need water.
• Install drip irrigation systems close to the roots of your plants.
• Limit residential vehicle washing.

and 2006:

The N.C. Drought Management Advisory Council issued an advisory Thursday listing 21 counties, including Orange, Durham and Wake, as moving into "severe drought" conditions.

A press release from Gov. Mike Easley's office stated, "Streamflows are low and the lack of significant rainfall for the month of March in central North Carolina will make it one of the driest in nearly 80 years."

And 2007:

Gov. Mike Easley on Thursday called for increased regional collaboration among state offices to organize meetings at which communities hardest hit by the drought can discuss water conservation and strategies for identifying supplemental water sources.

The collaborative effort was announced as much of central North Carolina is experiencing the most severe drought conditions, according to a federal report released Thursday.

“Many communities are suffering the effects of one of the worst droughts we have ever seen,” Easley said. “At least one community is already hauling water by truck from other sources, and several other towns may need to seek supplemental water sources soon."

Easley said regional cooperation is needed to make sure all residents will have ample water for everyday needs such as drinking, public health and safety.

And later in 2007:

Gov. Mike Easley today announced a four-point program, including the adoption of water conservation pricing, to address the state’s deepening drought. The governor said it was everyone’s patriotic duty to conserve and called on local water systems to enforce a fee system to penalize those who are excessive water users with significantly greater water bills. He called on citizens in most water systems to increase their conservation effort to at least 30 percent, and 40 percent for those in the hardest-hit communities.

''The price of that additional water should cost significantly more than the minimum amount that people need to get by,'' Easley said. ''I hope people will understand that they have to conserve and the water bill will be one more reminder that it has to be done.''

In addition to his call for conservation-based water billing, the governor also announced he is: convening a conference with the state's hardest-hit water systems to make sure they are fully prepared and have effective drought emergency plans in place; bringing all drought information together on the Internet at www.ncdrought.org; and charging the Drought Management Advisory Council to provide him with a regular detailed assessment of the progress of the drought should he need to exercise his emergency powers.

The governor will bring 30 of the state's worst hit water systems together on Monday, Jan. 14 in Greensboro to review the status of these systems. Those at the conference will also review what their plans are if the drought deepens and make sure they have reserve sources of water available. In addition, those water systems that need assistance from the state will be able to make sure they get the help they need to have effective emergency plans in place.

And just a few weeks ago:

What seemed to be one of the worst droughts North Carolina had ever seen, starting with water shortages last summer, turned out to be just the start of an unfortunate environmental trend that the governor's office says might be alleviated, in part, with legislation.

Gov. Mike Easley sent one of his chief spokesmen, Deputy Press Secretary Seth Effron, to UNC on Tuesday to explain the proposed bill and press the N.C. General Assembly to take action.

Effron discussed the bill's key provisions, which include the registration of large industrial water withdrawals and transfers.

The bill also would prohibit communities from charging less for increased water usage and require them to develop water shortage plans involving water audits.

Incentives are part of the package for those who follow the guidelines.

"If communities met certain restrictions, they would receive a better opportunity to receive safe water loans from the state and tax breaks for big businesses that traditionally use a lot of water but choose to cut down," Effron said.

I know I've harped on this longer than you would care to read, but I think it's important that we not ignore efforts by the Governor to address this unbelievably complex issue.

In some ways, our Governor has been behaving like the lame duck that he is. But he's also been fighting for some pretty important things as his tenure winds down, and he deserves credit for that.

Comments

Whatever

Governor Easley has earned the reputation he has now in the media for arrogance and pettiness, has pretty much earned the disgust that is being reflected in letters to the editor etc . . . and had pretty much screwed up his own legacy all without help from anyone else.

Maybe he has fought for teachers, and I certainly do admire teachers, but his budget proposal for all other state employees was insulting -- and I think intentionally so.

I don't think it bothers him. He and Mary will be just fine on her salary alone.

A state of plain views?

As I'm sure you've read lately, many folks who have private wells (or those who hate government intervention) have been fighting efforts by the Governor and the DENR to regulate their water usage.

They drink your milkshake.

They drink it up!

--
recently transplanted from Indianapolis, IN to Durham, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

We have a private well,

and have voluntarily restricted our usage - but I do wonder how the state would regulate our use should they wish to do so.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

That's like the fourth time

in as many weeks that I've heard (or read) someone use that. But it is appropriate. Unless (for some reason) a private well is drawing from a perched water table, they are getting their water from the same aquifer as their neighbors.

And I haven't seen the movie yet, but I really want too. :)

The Guv and his wife have tainted

whatever positive impact he has had on the State by their frivolous and excessive use of taxpayer monies to finance their own pleasure trips abroad.

Further, whatever his intent with water conservation legislation, it's becoming increasing clear to me the bureaucracy created would likely bungle their authority so badly that any real benefit is dubious.

Folks in the New Hanover/Wilmington area recently were advised of formation the new Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority a non-profit government agency "serving" Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, and Pender Counties, plus the City of Wilmington. They have the authority to set rates, maintain and construct water facilities, etc. We received a letter from the Authority advising us of their new role, takeover of our local private water system, and a doubling of our water rates. When out water stopped running the next day my wife called and was connected to their customer non-service dept who advised her that "hon, we don't have any record of your address" and that our problem wasn't theirs....etc.

Our government seems to be in the hands of self-serving bunglers who can't find their own behinds with both hands. I'm in favor of water purity and water conservation...but I'm not sure putting the guv'mint in charge is gonna make it happen. Regulations...maybe helpful. Control...not so much.

Stan Bozarth

I agree that Governor Easley has taken some hits recently.

Perhaps, as suggested above, he's brought them on himself - I'm not sure. I can only speak with authority about one issue listed above:

the highly successful More at Four program

More at 4 is indeed a successful program - but it is hardly the first academic pre-k in the state. Long before More at 4 was introduced, local counties were using Smart Start, Head Start, Title I, Even Start funds to help improve the overall quality of pre-school education in their area.

I don't want to take away from the success of More at Four. It's been very carefully crafted, and in most cases the funds are used extremely well to impact the school readiness of 4 year olds.

But it certainly wasn't the first.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Where's the beef?

Let us not forget that the “feeding frenzy and vitriol” did have some basis in fact. It is awfully hard to have a feeding frenzy without some food……… in this case a $60.00 cheeseburger, rabbit with foie gras and leg of pheasant. I believe most reporters should be able to make a meal from this menu even if they don‘t know what this stuff tastes like. And the $50,000 or so limo rides. And some have even called the trip a “junket.” My, my.

And what was the response? Wasn’t it, “It costs what is cost?” And then there was a lesson in “weak dollars.” The “It costs what it cost” reminds me of the “It depends on what your definition of is is.” Neither statement makes much sense to me or either both statements are so deep I just can’t get the gist. And meanwhile the state trooper was eating within the state guidelines. If a cheeseburger cost $60.00 then the trooper must have been eating Zesta crackers and tap water.

I firmly believe that if you don’t jump in the water the sharks will have difficulty in making you the object of their feeding frenzy. That’s why shark attacks are so rare in Raleigh when the General Assembly is not in session.

Sometimes it is better to come right out and immediately admit that you maybe should have left off the cheese.

What do you think this means?

If a cheeseburger cost $60.00

Do you think the Governor actually ate a $60 cheeseburger, or do you think he's lying about said cheeseburger? The answer is: neither.

It was an offhand comment and an attempt at humor, referring to how much things cost in American dollars in Europe. It was in poor taste, because he was trying to deflect criticism away from the price tag of their trip, but there's no actual cheeseburger involved.

Find some new material.

It was in poor taste?????????

You wrote that "it was in poor taste."

How dare you? I would think a $60.00 cheeseburger would taste rather well.

A $60.00 cheeseburger does not have to exist to be funny. It just is.

The ills of social promotions.........

My lack of education is shining through like a beacon in the night. But it does have advantages as I have recently been named the “Poster Child” for the “No Child Left Behind Program.” It is so exciting.

But a word of caution. If you try to correct all my mistakes you will probably be thrown off the board by the BlueNC Secret Police. You will have to make so many posts to correct my posts that you will be accused of “hogging” the board.

But I do appreciate your help and I will try to give you ample opportunity to make further corrections. LOL

Don't encourage me

It was inadvertent, I swear! It's like when Dr. Strangelove's hand goes up and he has to wrestle it down using the other hand.

We've got Austin Powers on the case!

Did the cheeseburger exist?

I have obtained the witness statements from the International Man of Mystery who is responsible for answering that question. Top ten eyewitness responses to the question, “Did the cheeseburger exist?”

10. I didn’t see the cheeseburger. But there is definitely one less cow in the pasture. That is a fact!
9. I don’t really know. But whatever it was they had to call in an Olympic weight lifter to carry the tray to the table. I understand that carrying a $60.00 cheeseburger will be added as an event in the “World’s Strongest Man Competition.”
8. I see the $60.00 cheeseburger as something like the UFO sightings. Some people claim to have seen UFO’s. Some people claim to have seen Big Foot. So why not a $60.00 cheeseburger? I just don’t know.
7. All I know is that whatever it was it was cooked “rare.” The state trooper thought it moved on the plate and emptied his service revolver into whatever it was. It was frightful.
6. Maybe. The restaurant serving the cheeseburger put up a McDonalds type sign just after the meal which reads, “One $60.00 cheeseburger served.”
5. Possibly. I do know that the guy stood up and shouted, “If Rocky can‘t eat this he’s a pansy.”
4. There was no $60.00 cheeseburger! What happened was……well, they were filming a sequel to “Shallow Hal.” So they cook this big cheeseburger to feed to Gwyneth Paltrow. But they have made Gwyneth look really big so they faked a big cheeseburger. It was a movie! The guv is innocent. Long live the Guv!
3. The state crime lab believes the cheeseburger did exist after running some tests on the remains. Tests confirmed that whatever was between the bun had a tattoo that read, “Eat more Chikin.”
2. I do not think it existed. The limo driver said that the Mercedes trunk was not big enough to carry a cow. She spoke excellent English and she knew how to use “well” and “good.” And she had dark hair so I know she was smart.

1. It may be true because “Elsie the Cow” got so mad she changed her registration to Republican. That’s public record.

The $60.00 cheeseburger is a symbol of free speech. The governor was free to bring up the $60.00 cheeseburger and the reporters were free to make comments. And I feel free to make comments myself. I believe that is one of our basic rights?

Lighten up. The dear guv’s explanation of the trip was not his finest hour. And I too voted for him twice. But that does not mean he is right all the time. Only Brunette is! LOL again……

Actually, I heard she changed parties

“Elsie the Cow” got so mad she changed her registration to Republican. That’s public record.

because she's currently grazing on one of Lord Pittenger's estates, and she hoped that putting some yard signs out might keep him from building a strip mall there.

The $60.00 cheeseburger is a symbol of free speech. The governor was free to bring up the $60.00 cheeseburger and the reporters were free to make comments. And I feel free to make comments myself. I believe that is one of our basic rights?

You're absolutely correct, and I shouldn't have tried to stifle you. But...did you have to use the word "cheeseburger" 14 times in a post defending your right to use the word cheeseburger? :)

"one less cow"

"One less cow"?

"One fewer cow", surely.

The Grammar Gestapo is accepting applications, right?

--
recently transplanted from Indianapolis, IN to Durham, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

That is too hard to pronounce, or even say.

One fewer cow?

That might be a little much for what few friends I have to comprehend. I mean doesn’t “fewer” have two syllables? If I used a big word like “fewer” they would think I was talking about the Nazi leader. And I think he was even worse than Cheney.

I tried to diagram a sentence with “fewer” in it but all I could remember was something about the dangling participle. Or maybe that is something I saw on the porn channel? Whatever.

I am already getting a lot of heat as my friends think I am trying to be uppity by posting on a high class site like BlueNC. Most of them think it is about Carolina Basketball. I try to tell them it’s about all kinds of interesting stuff……English lessons………burger recipes………hogs…….hair coloring.

"Fewer" is hard to say with a redneck accent. It's almost as hard as saying that your drivway is paved with c-mint.

"fyurr"

Ahrrr.

"AutoZone stocks wun fyurr brand uh tranzmishin flood than Pep Boys."

--
recently transplanted from Indianapolis, IN to Durham, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

--
Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Good post. Thanks.

The media detractors, of course, have taken Easley to task for a litany of embarrassing screw ups, which they love to do. Knowing of the public's passion for frenzied feeding on chicken shit, newspapers and some bloggers have milked those missteps for all the readership they can squeeze out of a cheeseburger (see comment above). Pardon the chopped liver mixing of metaphors.

I held a fundraiser for Easley at my house back when he was running for AG. I thought he did a good job in that role and I supported him for governor.

I've been both critical and praising of Easley over the past two years since BlueNC was founded. He has occasionally shown political leadership and decisiveness, and has just as often been missing in action.

Net net? Mike Easley has, on the whole, done more good than damage. He's been a decent steward of state resources and has mostly steered us clear of big screw ups.

Easley's Legacy

While Gov. Easley has done a number of good things in this state, he's at least guilty of inaction on a broad range of fronts, especially in the case of mental health. Under his watch, the mental health system has gone to hell, the state's roads have been put in a hole billions of dollars deep and the state's habit of borrowing money without voter approval has crept closer and closer to $1 billion.

On top of all that, he didn't veto the "education" lottery, which plenty of counties have already quietly moved to allow to supplant their own education budgets. If nothing else, he should have pushed for better controls on how the money is distributed. Let's not forget it's a tax on the statistically challenged -- and often minority population. Meanwhile, our dropout rate has continued to be pitiful during his tenure.

He's been quoted as saying that public statements are not to be used for disclosure, but rather control. And he's ordered more than a few people fired on political whim. The media is critical of him because he is openly confrontational with them, and has a bunker-down mentality instead of one that believes disclosure is the best for government. I'm sure that's healthy for the state ...

Much of Easley's legacy is that of ineptitude veiled by political savvy, irrelevant of whether he's been a good progressive.

Bingo

In a way I'm more offended by progressives or democrats who behave as Easley has than I am from 'the other side,' since I tend to want my guys to be the "good guys."

I can't bring myself to justify Easley's means for his ends, and I don't think his ends are that damned impressive.

As one who voted for him twice and was very, very proud of him on numerous occasions that I saw him speak (and thought to myself, "finally, the real deal"), I've been hugely disappointed and disillusioned about this man and how he operates.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

You can't really blame Easley for the roads.

He's working within a system that is controlled by the federal government and a old-boys network here in North Carolina. Bush has cut road funding and at the same time the price of construction has skyrocketed. That means a lot less roads can be built. At the same time places like New Bern are having $100 Million bridges built, which could instead be used to repave a lot of roadways.

I don't have any inside information, but I believe that these decisions are largely made by political appointees who are probably paying back and/or currying favors.

edit: okay, actually Easley could have done something. He could have "fired" the entire transportation board and filled it with people who actually placed good roads everywhere above good roads for influential democrats. Maybe.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Please go ahead yourself

That way it won't look like I'm pimping my own blog. Which...I'm not above doing, as it were, per se, but it's always nicer when someone else does it for you. :)

Oh hay-ull, Steve, come on yerself

Persondem has mountains of patience, which I hope will not be utterly spent on the strange, twisted little world at TAP.

Fellow oldsters who saw that terrific old flick, "Suddenly Last Summer," will recall the scene where "Catherine," (aka Elizabeth Taylor at her tiny waist stage) is contemplating throwing herself off a catwalk in an insane asylum. The inmates below are waiting for the show, and multiple phases of lunacy are represented.

Reminds me of the forum that is TAP.

C'mon, Steve, they're waiting to receive you!

HA!

Well said, my friend. It ain't for everyone. I have to admit that it's only my sheer wickedness that keeps me going back to that site.

I was just about to say that.

But be careful what you ask for persondem! They love to squeak but they're not much for substance.

Immigration and sin taxes

sure he's made some mistakes but he's the only pol in nc who has stood up for undocumented aliens' right to attend nc community colleges and universities (yep-- name another?) AND the guy did propose raising sales taxes on those we've-got-the General Assembly n our pockets wine and nicotine companies and their pacs and lobbyists.

a big mac and freedom fries may not cost sixty bucks in france.....but in nc we tax tobacco sales well below the natl avg...

why? ask the basnights and rands and approps chairs on jones street. they control the spigot, not the guv.

True enough, bluemoon

But he didn't stand up for them one minute before he knew he was free and clear.

It doesn't take guts when you're on your way out. You can pretty much way what you want to say, and, as the trip to Europe and Mary Easley's recent raise will suggest, do what you want to do.

Thank you :)

That means a lot to me.