Lunch Links

Lunch links: voting, medical bills and snakes

It’s a brand new week of Lunch Links at N.C. Policy Watch, our recently revived daily feature to help get our readers through the day.

We’ll find out this week if Gov. Pat McCrory will sign or veto 38 pieces of legislation still on his desk, many about the controversies that have brought people to protest in the streets as part of the Moral Monday movement. Click here to see the list of the 38 bills on McCrory’s desk.

As a big fan of databases (and what investigative reporter isn’t?) my inaugural Lunch Links will be dedicated to databases I find useful and entertaining.

  • An oldie but a goodie, the OSHA database (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). You can see if the company you’re thinking of hiring has a history of workplace safety issues, what they were initially fined and if that fine was knocked down.
  • Want to figure out what political party your neighbor is registered under? Or find out if your school board candidate even votes in local elections?
    McCrory's voting history, from N.C. State Board of Elections.

    McCrory’s voting history, from N.C. State Board of Elections.

    The N.C. State Board of Elections has that information here and you can search by name and then pull up that person’s voting history.

A quick peek at Gov. Pat McCrory’s voting records show that he utilized early voting or absentee ballots in the last two years, instead of voting in person on Election Day as he did in years past.

Now, it’ll be curious to see if that factors in at all in his decision of whether to sign a voter ID bill  that shortens the early voting period and has numerous other provisions that critics say will suppress voter turnout among minorities, the poor, old and young.

Now, on to the less contentious topic of Obamacare. (I kid, I kid)

Instead just keeping that valuable information in a really, really big Excel sheet, the fine journalists at the Washington Post put the data in searchable form here.

Turns out a “poisoning by legal and legal drugs, mushrooms, snakebites, without complications” at Raleigh’s Rex Hospital is a deal of sorts — $12,018 compared to the state average of $13,124. That same snakebite or bad mushroom could cost you more than $18,000 in Charlotte’s Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy. Consider yourself warned.

That leads me to my next database link, a snake identification database set up by the Davidson College Herpetology Laboratory to help a layperson identify snakes.

  • The snake database lets you input your observations (skinny?, fat?, in water?) and then tells you whether that was a harmless rat snake (but still terrifying, IMHO) or a poisonous copperhead.

Having seen not one, but two snakes this weekend in my backyard, I’m a little obsessed with them at the moment and I’d wager a guess that this database will be just as fascinating to any five to seven-year-old kid on a reptile kick.

There is this disclaimer: “The authors take no responsibility whatsoever for any damage whatsoever resulting from using this tool.” Just imagine the situation that prompted the need for that.

Alright, happy lunching and linking on this Monday.


  1. Doug

    August 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks for the political party link. That will be interesting.

    And the link on the bills on the gov’s desk….well VIVA is now going to be the law in NC. We finally come into line with the progressive northern states in some of our voting standards.

  2. Sarah Ovaska

    August 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Doug, what are you talking about? There are no links to any political parties. These are public databases, with the exception of the snake database which is hosted at a college.

  3. Doug

    August 12, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Guess you didn’t read the article….did you actually write it?

    “-Want to figure out what political party your neighbor is registered under? Or find out if your school board candidate even votes in local elections?
    The N.C. State Board of Elections has that information here and you can search by name and then pull up that person’s voting history”

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