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Raleigh’s News & Observer doesn’t pull many punches with this morning’s scathing editorial about the state Department of Health and Human Services and its embattled leader, Secretary Aldona Wos. As the piece points out, Wos is simply over-matched:

“The secretary, who prior to her appointment had never done anything close to supervising a state department with over 17,000 employees, seems simply overwhelmed and underqualified for the job. Gov. Pat McCrory, well aware of Wos’s mega-fundraising for Republicans, continues to stand by his ill-advised appointment, digging in against calls for Wos to resign even as the problems at DHHS have multiplied… Read More

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Rob ChristensenRob Christensen of Raleigh’s News & Observer – someone who’s been the target of occasional barbs over here at The Pulse – deserves some kudos this morning for a straightforward and important column in today’s paper entitled “NC’s kids are doing better than you think.”

As Christensen notes, it’s become almost an article of faith in many circles these days that our public schools and students are failing:

“That North Carolina’s schools are failing is a widely shared assumption in certain circles. It is repeated in the echo chamber of talk radio. It is confirmed every time you come across some store clerk who can’t make change, or you hear from an employer who can’t find somebody to operate some piece of technology.

It is given credence by news stories of struggling school systems in poor areas, of racial disparities and of confusing reports about test scores being down because the tests are more difficult.”

But as he goes on to explain, this narrative is actually badly flawed. Read More

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Ellie KinnairdThe resignation of Senator Eleanor Kinnaird from the North Carolina Senate was totally understandable, but still quite a disappointment for all who care about truth and justice. Ellie’s list of accomplishments and principled stands in the Senate is a long one and she will be missed enormously in that already depleted institution.

This morning’s editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer gets it right when it says:

“Kinnaird was part of the Senate’s conscience. Losing her voice may make lawmaking easier, but it won’t make it better or the results more humane. The General Assembly should be a place of debate where both sides listen and learn. It has become a Republican rally that drowns the dissent within and ignores the protests without.

The good news is that Kinnaird is resigning but not quitting. She will take her voice to where she can be heard so all can be heard. Her first step is to join a grassroots effort to fight Republican efforts to suppress the vote.

We thank Sen. Kinnaird for her service. And wish her luck as she continues the good fight.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/20/3122573/a-loss-of-conscience.html#storylink=cpy
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Another good editorial from Raleigh’s N&O on the scandalous end of unemployment benefits that commences today:

“Reflecting little more than their distaste for federal safety net programs and their lack of care for the unemployed in North Carolina, Republicans in the General Assembly cut the maximum unemployment benefit to $350 from $535 and curbed the length of time people are eligible. The reason? To pay back more quickly the $2 billion the state owes the federal government for money borrowed to cover benefits following the Bush recession.

But the GOP knew that if the state rules were changed, federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, which might have continued, would be cut off. They didn’t care, and nor were they concerned that tens of millions of dollars would be lost to the state’s economy. Some 70,000 North Carolinians will be hurt.

Republicans say that by cutting benefits, the state will be encouraging the unemployed to find work. That’s insulting, of course, because the vast majority of the jobless have been trying to find employment. The average benefit check of about $300 a week doesn’t exactly provide for a take-it-easy lifestyle. And GOP lawmakers don’t care to consider what happens to people when their benefits are cut off and they are still without work. Homes will be lost. Medicine will go unbought. Kids will go hungry. That’s the reality, as opposed to the rhetoric.”

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In case you missed it over the weekend, check out Ned Barnett’s column from Raleigh’s News & Observer entitled “Truth gets stretched in Medicaid debate.”

As Barnett notes: the myth being propagated by Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly (with the unfortunate assistance of the politically tone deaf state Auditor) that Medicaid is “broken” and therefore can’t be expanded under Obamacare is just plain baloney.

“The reason DHHS’ Medicaid spending continues to be over budget is because the Republican-controlled legislature reduced its budget without defining what to cut, such as payments to doctors and hospitals, services offered or the number of people eligible. Apart from missing the General Assembly’s unrealistic savings targets, Medicaid delivery systems in North Carolina are very much intact. From 2007 to 2010, Medicaid spending in North Carolina grew more slowly than in any other state in the nation. One of its delivery models, Community Care, is a widely praised prototype for cost savings that other states want to copy. No doubt, a state division spending $13 billion in state and federal funds annually has things that could be fixed, but it clearly is not ‘broken.'”

Read Barnett’s entire column by clicking here.