Back on Black

The News and Observer is like an unpredictable date, regularly late to the party and often wearing the wrong clothes. Today their friendly advice to the NC State Optometric Society seems fair enough, but they stop short of giving the hard advice that should be given to the North Carolina Democratic Party: Dump Jim Black as Speaker. Here's their lead editorial.

Here's a clue for the N.C. State Optometric Society: The public won't stand for sneaking a costly mandate into the state budget, even if a New Jersey commission supports it. It's not that North Carolinians don't want the best for their children, including eye exams before they start kindergarten. But House Speaker Jim Black, an optometrist who receives campaign funding from his colleagues, essentially took it upon himself to make the eye-exam requirement law without public discussion. Whether or not New Jersey saves money with such a requirement, as the society argued last week in a press release, is extraneous information at this late date.

Had Black drafted a bill last year, the pros and cons would have been discussed in committee meetings. The optometrists could have invited an expert on New Jersey's program to testify. Then it might well have been interesting to hear about the millions saved Up Nawth by identifying vision problems in children and dealing with them, instead of assigning those youngsters to special education classes.

Instead, the mandate was already law by the time North Carolinians learned that some counties don't even have optometrists to do the exams. Not only that, but they found out $2 million of their money had been appropriated to help poor families pay for exams costing $100 or more. Federal standards already require pediatricians and family physicians to provide eye screenings for children every year starting at age 3.

At any rate, the people deserve a say in such matters. Bills filed last week would kill the mandate, and they should pass.

At any rate the people deserve a say in such matters? No sh*t. The people also deserve a Speaker of the House who's judgment is no so impaired by power as to concoct such a sorry scheme in the first place.


Trustee Black

Black is actually a Trustee of the NC Optometric Society, another conflict of interest.

As he is so obviously skilled at behind-the-scenes machinations it is impossible to believe he does not have a hand in orchestrating the support of the Optometric Society.