Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

When will the major papers in NC notice the obvious?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

The McClatchy papers continue to demonstrate an interesting bias in their coverage. Sunday’s Charlotte Observer reprinted a lengthy story from SC trashing Nikki Haley, a Republican. Yet the Observer condoned Andrew Young’s employment as a fundraiser, theoretically for the UNC system, when his real job was political until after the Edwards campaign imploded and even then left out the most significant facts. Of course, Young was a Democrat and UNC has been used by Jim Hunt’s friends as a political base for so long McClatchy reporters seem to be oblivious to most of the myriad political improprieties.

Haley, an accountant, had served on the Board of the Hospital that hired her as a fundraiser for their already existing foundation, yet her employment seemed to be viewed as key evidence of inappropriate behavior.

UNC, by contrast, created a whole new school, the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, for Edwards and hired his assistant, Andrew Young, as a fundraiser. What a slick way to let non-profits support a candidate and make political contributions deductible. Yet there has been no in depth reporting of the myriad political links that surrounded that particular fiasco, even when Tom Ross was picked to head the UNC system. Fortunately the Edwards scandal gave the public an after the fact peek at Young’s employment by UNC:

“In March 2005, Young took the title of assistant director of development at the UNC Law School. The $70,000-a-year position was a fundraising job with the school’s new Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, which tapped Edwards as its first director. The center was, among other things, a vehicle for Edwards to maintain a public profile after he left the Senate.

“Young’s salary was paid with private money, a UNC Law School spokeswoman said. University records show Young receiving $5,834 a month through November 2006. E-mail from that tenure shows a playful side of Young. In a March 2006 message to Mary S. Murray, then the UNC School of Law’s assistant dean for external relations, Young asks how to handle a seminar sponsor’s request to donate $10,000 in stocks for tax reasons.

“How does I dooooo that? Yipppeeeee,” Young wrote.” (News & Observer, 9/14/2008)

The continued failure of the press to inform the public who gave the money funneled through UNC to help a Presidential candidate demonstrates more clearly than words their willingness to support the misuse of the UNC system by political insiders.

How about a story (correct that, a series of stories, too much to cover in one article) on who has been using UNC to fund political causes?

How about a story on how UNC research has been used to funnel money to politicians and their friends and to help run cover for water quality issues?

How about an explanation of why UNC has failed to report that thousands of private wells owned by individuals are going dry and land at the coast is sinking because the state has permitted over pumping that has been concealed from the public to enhance private profits of corporate entities with the right political pals?

How about an in-depth report on how DENR has been politicized to the point that DOT might be cleaner than DENR?

How about an in-depth report of the people behind the attempt to close the existing airport at UNC-Chapel Hill and move the runway?

The reporting on the Easley/NCSU escapades was like focusing on an ice cube and ignoring an iceberg big enough to sink the Titanic. And I’m not talking about our current governor’s political improprieties, because she and Easley are both symptoms of a much larger problem.

What does it take to get a real investigation?

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

What a surprise! The problems at the SBI extend beyond the crime lab! When I said that and offered proof, it didn’t make the papers (though they have been leaving up some pretty good blog comments). But when “Seth Edwards, president of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, said Wednesday that he was concerned that problems extended beyond the SBI lab,” that made it into print. (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/09/09/1677338/key-sbi-agents-acted-on-their.html)

For over a decade I’ve been reminding people of a couple of sayings clearly demonstrated in NC Government. First, “a fish rots from the head down,” meaning the leader at the top sets the tone; if they’re unethical expect bad behavior to spread. Second, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Even a casual review of Jim Hunt’s political history reveals he amassed more personal power than any other leader in North Carolina history. His acolytes now run every major branch of state government and exert significant control over the business community and the non-profit community, not to mention their remarkable influence over the media.

How can the media fail to see the common threads linking the corruption in DOT, DENR, Justice and other state agencies? Why so much concern for a handful of cases and no concern whatsoever for the refusal of the SBI to investigate the Bridge to Nowhere in Anson, a clear case of Medicaid fraud, or what sure looks like an attempt to frame a former state senator?

Here’s what I posted on the Charlotte Observer September 8th and they left it up so far:
Old folk dance callers said “May the circle be unbroken” but newer lyrics say “will the circle be unbroken.” The circle of silence is showing signs of cracking.

Eventually the public is going to figure out that the corruption in the SBI is more than a coincidence, and that a member of the Hunt-Easley-Perdue team is never going to cure the corruption in the SBI, the Highway Patrol, DOT, DENR or any other state agency.

A completely honest appointee who is competent will last about as long as the gentleman named to head the Ferry Division who asked about the strange management practices that were standard procedure.

How is it possible than an SBI agent who composed a fake confession is still on the state payroll, along with the supervisor who was informed of the problems with the confession and did nothing, and so on up the food chain?

Does anybody else see the humor in the fact that the agent and the former head of the SBI were assigned to audit Medicaid fraud? I laid out the facts on a Medicaid fraud case in a courtroom last year with an SBI agent present and the SBI still hasn’t acted with the case delivered to them on a platter. Someone did, however, manage to get the court record sealed so that to date Senator Webster who was quite properly found not guilty hasn’t been able to get a copy of the tape of the trial.

Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic won’t keep the ship from going down. The question is how many it will take with it.

NCAA investigates a tiny tree in a mighty forest

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

The recent revelations concerning the NCAA investigation of the UNC-CH football program provide yet another example of how far below national standards NC operates wherever politics rears its ugly head. And make no mistake, politics has converted what used to be a fine university system we could all support into a money machine for political insiders.

The University was established to serve the people of North Carolina. Somehow it has been converted into a system designed to serve those who run it. Educating students is strictly secondary to protecting the power of Jim Hunt’s followers.

If the press actually reported the news, instead of censoring dissenting opinion and promoting those willing to promote the causes favored by the Hunt-Easley-Perdue team (which of course includes Black, Basnight, Rand and other well known politicos of the insider persuasion) the public would be aware of the extent to which academic integrity has been sacrificed to political expediency.

Recently the McClatchy papers ran a story covering the deep corruption in the SBI. Of course they left out the Hugh Webster trial and the Bridge to Nowhere in Anson County, because they kept their focus on lower level employees and let those responsible, including Hunt-Easley-Perdue off the hook. They even ignored the implications of the fact that an agent who they clearly documented created a false confession is still employed by the agency, as is his immediate supervisor who ignored the agent’s dishonesty.

The lack of integrity at the SBI documented by McClatchy pales beside the operations of the UNC system.

A number of years ago I started writing about the irony of the Democratic Party having a dinner honoring former Governor Aycock given his well documented racism which even extended to disenfranchising thousands of black voters. I was pleased to hear the Democrats were thinking of dropping Aycock’s name from their annual dinner until I heard the suggestion it be renamed to honor former Senator Jeanne Lucas. Lucas is the person who announced to the Senate that four candidates for the Board of Governors had withdrawn and that if any Senator voted for a candidate who had withdrawn, their ballot would be disqualified.

Her statement that four candidates had withdrawn was a lie. The Democratic leadership may have leaned on candidate sponsors to drop their sponsorship, but I spoke to two of the candidates she named and they had not withdrawn. The election was simply rigged, and that time they got caught.

Why rig an election at that level? And why no complaint from any senior UNC official or member of the Board of Governors? Why so much concern about academic integrity in the football program and no concern whatsoever about the integrity of the highest officials in the university system?

The UNC-CH scandal is quite similar to the Duke Soccer scandal in that the only reason the truth came out was the involvement of people beyond the reach of the political machine that runs North Carolina. If the Duke soccer players charged had been from North Carolina with parents subject to employment threats, I doubt the truth would ever have been told. Similarly, if the NCAA had not been out of the reach of the NC political machine’s influence, I doubt there would be any concern at UNC about how Baddour and Davis managed the football program.

The blog limits of the press limit comments, so this is what I posted after several articles concerning the NCAA investigation of the UNC-CH football program:

I’m truly sorry for the student-athletes and their families and friends. Unfortunately, the major scandal isn’t in the sports program. The only reason it is getting attention is that the national exposure means it can’t be covered up, unlike the majority of UNC scandals.

Why was an emergency meeting called to anoint Tom Ross? Was it to avoid questions about his involvement in using UNC as a political base for John Edwards and Andrew Young, among other misuses of the UNC system for political purposes? If the major papers actually reported the news, as opposed to spinning it to protect the Hunt-Perdue-Easley team, the scandal in UNC athletics wouldn’t be such a surprise.

When will we see a report of how the elections to the UNC Board of Governors have been rigged? The revelations about NC State that came out as a result of the Easley hearings are trivial if you follow the money.

Observer still refuses to tell whole story

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

The Observer’s talent for stating the obvious after the fact instead of warning about danger in time to reduce the damage is on full display in this morning’s editorial criticizing “the Perdue campaign” and the State Board of Elections. It is kind of cute how they avoid criticizing the Governor by talking about her campaign, which must have drugged her before placing her on those unreported flights given her apparent ignorance of her whereabouts during the campaign.

Funny how they mention “the Perdue campaign performed a voluntary audit of its flights and disclosed almost all the flights to the board earlier this year” as if it makes the Governor sound more ethical; it really highlights the fact Perdue knew some flights were not reported. Which raises the question the press should have been asking, what is Perdue trying to hide? How high does the corruption go? Was Hunt connected to some of those flights? Obama? Billie Ray Hall and the Rural Impoverishment Center? Wade Byrd? Jim Addams? Randy Allen? Larry Leake? What is she hiding?

The Observer has yet to give an unabridged history of Larry Leake and why Perdue should have removed him before the Easley hearings. As usual, what they fail to report is far more meaningful than the pittance that makes it into print.
If the Observer gives a rip about the transparency they claim (correctly) is so important, maybe they could share Leake’s history and the reasons Webster and I gave for asking for Leake’s removal last fall.

Why did Leake try to shield Zach Ambrose, Perdue’s former Chief of Staff?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Today the press reported that the State Board of Elections, still led by the obviously conflicted Larry Leake, refused to have hearings on Perdue’s unreported flights and was going to slap the campaign on the wrist with a $30,000 fine. The article was more interesting for what was omitted than what was said. To help fill in the blanks, I posted the following as a comment following the article about the fine in the Raleigh News & Observer:
Ruffin Poole, Mike Easley’s Chief of Staff, was charged with multiple crimes and has accepted a plea bargain. Yet the significance of the resignation of Zach Ambrose, who filled the same role for Perdue that Poole did for Easley, has been almost completely ignored. Why?
When Larry Leake said “My involvement in this investigation has been no different than my actions in other investigations,” I believe him. That’s why Hugh Webster and I sent a letter to the Board of Elections before the Easley hearings pointing out Leake’s record of inappropriate behavior in other investigations and questioning why anyone in their right mind would expect one of Easley’s key fundraisers to lead an investigation into Easley’s fundraising. Leake had and has an obvious conflict of interest.
Fetzer is so right to complain about Leake, but his time could be better spent asking why Zach Ambrose resigned when he did, why Leake seemed to protect Ambrose, and what was different about the flights not reported by Perdue. Clearly, contrary to Perdue’s claims, there was a record of flights and Perdue and Ambrose saw the need to conceal some flights and not others.
Where was she going, who was she meeting, and who travelled with her on the unreported flights? If the press can’t find the answers, hopefully the US Attorney will. And hopefully he will investigate Leake since it is obvious Perdue and her administration never will.

Site list (per request)

Friday, August 20th, 2010

The most complete site, archived from when I ran for Governor in 2004, is www.4fern.com, but that is all history.
I had a pretty good site at www.ncgerrymandering.info but apparently it was too good because someone used a very sophisticated “killer script” to delete the contents and backup. I’d never heard of such a thing and it was on a serious hosting site server so I was pretty impressed with the expertise behind the attack.
www.fernshubert.com was put up for my run for Senate this year and I haven’t updated it since losing to the Democratic backed candidate in the Republican primary.
The main site now, to which I will be adding info, is www.RaleighReport.com. My three hot topics currently are Larry Leake and the SBOE, the SBI as an indicator of how pervasive corruption in state government really is, and the Alcoa grab that shows how certain people who claim to be Republicans work so closely with folks who claim to be Democrats, hoping the public never figures out they’re all really members of the Plantation Party that has run NC so corruptly for decades by using the D’s and R’s to divert public attention from how the money really moves.

SBI Still AWOL

Friday, August 13th, 2010

On November 21, 2008, The County Edge ran my Raleigh Report titled SBI is AWOL in Corruption Cases. Prior to the kangaroo kourt trial of Hugh Webster, the article was revised and reprinted and distributed to a good number of reporters. So far as I know, not a single media outlet in the state has had the nerve to report these facts documented in the article or made any attempt to refute them:

There is a Bridge to Nowhere in Anson County built with taxpayer funds apparently for the benefit of private individuals with the right political connections.

People still employed by the state knew what was happening and did nothing to stop it.

The SBI, though repeatedly reminded of the Bridge, has refused to investigate or to expose those responsible.

As for Webster’s trial, he predicted that if the DA didn’t get a conviction, he would himself be in trouble and sure enough, shortly after Webster was acquitted, an “investigation began in November 2009 based on allegations that the DA, Joel Brewer, “had engaged in obstruction of justice, misuse of authority, assaults on females, and various sexual assaults of females.”

What interesting timing, and how interesting that when “Attorney General Roy Cooper’s Special Prosecutions Section and the SBI Professional Standards Division charged Brewer” the charges were only misdemeanors. The proposed penalty for serious abuse of office is far less than that sought against Webster had he been convicted. (Quotes from digtriad.com)

My comment before the trial was that the attempt to frame Webster was so inept those responsible should be embarrassed. I stand by that comment. It was a vicious political prosecution and all those responsible should be publicly pilloried for crimes against the entire concept of justice. In fact, they should be sued as individuals because they sure weren’t working for the public when they tried a case based on a laughably lacking investigation and the testimony of an individual who should have been charged for crimes clearly committed.

But who is really responsible? Look at the reporting this week concerning the SBI. Clearly, from the very first story, the fraudulent confession was the act of an unethical agent, possibly acting at the direction of other unethical individuals. The SBI crime lab had nothing to do with making up a confession and swearing under oath to a lie. Yet the stories focus on the crime lab and ignore the people who are still circling the wagons to protect the agent and his superiors.

The obvious question is WHY IS THAT AGENT STILL EMPLOYED? My guess is he has more dirt on his superiors than they have on him.

One thing is for sure: the MSM (mostly statist media) is still protecting their political pals at the expense of the public. Otherwise they would be asking the obvious questions like “Who knew the confession was a fraud and when did they know it?” “Why have no charges been brought against those responsible?” “Why are any of those directly responsible for providing false testimony and malicious prosecution still being protected by the top political leaders in the state?”

Instead of praising the MSM for printing old news, the obvious fact there’s an integrity problem in state government, I’d like to ask them when they’ll print, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”

How long can the press divert the public with minnows while leaving the biggest sharks unmentioned?

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Today the Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh News and Observer resumed the telling of a story that was reported in part three years ago. I sent the following email to a number of individuals in August 2007. Three years later, the same people are still running cover for the same politicians. Why does the press focus on low-level gang members who are paid with taxpayer funds to follow orders, but ignore the fact people like Isley and Ransome are permitted (or even required) to function as they did by prominent individuals far more culpable because they’re far more privileged. Remember, the following was written three years ago:

On this one, I almost completely agree with The Charlotte Observer:

“One of the doctors at Dorothea Dix mental hospital, where Mr. Brown has been held for the past 14 years, said not only did the confession not sound like the accused, but he couldn’t even be “trained or coached” to talk that way.
The comments give weight to defense charges that the confession was faked. The state attorney general’s office should probe that and other allegations. If such evidence tampering occurred, those involved should be prosecuted.”

Yes, and those responsible for murder and covering up murder should be publicly exposed and booted from public office. If what the Charlotte Observer printed is true, and in this case, I believe it is, the district attorneys who sat on the case for years are no better than Mike Nifong. In fact, it could be argued that they’re worse because they helped a murderer go free by jailing someone obviously innocent.

But why would you expect the state attorney general’s office to expose the problem? Nifong would not have been exposed if he had not picked on an out-of-state student with the financial ability to expose his dishonesty. Black would still be Speaker if the feds had not caught him in the video poker net. Asking our current state government to expose corruption on the part of those who know how deep it runs is funnier than anything in the comic section. 

How could such a thing happen? Follow the trail of corruption far enough, and you’ll end up right back in Raleigh. A few years ago someone phoned me wanting to turn in one of Senator Plyler’s pals (you can probably guess which one) for serious corruption. At that time, the Union County Sheriff and DA were part of the “machine” so I asked Joe Kiser, since he was a former sheriff, who I could go to with the information. He thought a few minutes and said, “There was one honest guy at the SBI, but they fired him.” Law enforcement didn’t touch the fellow, but the Observer roasted him sufficiently to solve the immediate problem. Yet today, he’s back with more influence than ever and getting positive press from the Observer and the rest of the gang that profits from ties to the Raleigh machine. How can this be?

The Wilmington Riots are old news, but the legacy of dishonesty lives on and is clearly visible in the parts of Union and Anson with the closest ties to the Raleigh machine. If you’d like a brief tour of Union and Anson to see what the people the Observer supports have done and why I view many of them as lower than pond scum, I’ll be happy to drive any of you around and even buy lunch. Maybe I am, as Ed Williams suggested, “nuts” for challenging the insiders investment club than runs North Carolina, but I live in a community kept poor by corrupt government.

Floyd Brown may finally be released, but what about the rest of the people in his community imprisoned by a road policy that denies them access to opportunity for the benefit of influential insiders and an education system that would have done the plantation bosses proud when it comes to keeping the poor “in their place?”

Posted on Wed, Aug. 29, 2007
Justice long denied
With the N.C. Department of Justice stepping in to examine the case, maybe Floyd Brown will finally get what he’s been denied — justice. The Anson County man with an I.Q. of 50 has languished in legal limbo for 14 years, charged with but never tried for a murder based on a confession experts say he couldn’t have made.
Last March, we urged Anson County District Attorney Michael Parker to drop the murder charge. He has refused, saying he believes Mr. Brown is guilty.
The mounting evidence doesn’t support that belief. The investigators on Mr. Brown’s case were sent to prison on federal bribery and racketeering charges for fixing cases. None of the evidence found at the murder scene linked Mr. Brown to the case. Key evidence has been lost.
Most disturbing is this: The case against Mr. Brown hangs on a confession doctors and former teachers of Mr. Brown say he could never have given. Mr. Brown does not know dates, cannot tell time, and does not speak in complete or grammatical sentences. Yet the first sentence of his typed confession, which State Bureau of Investigation agent Mark Isley said was dictated “verbatim” said: “On Friday, July 9th of 1993, my mama woke me up at 6 a.m. in the morning.”
An Observer investigation found more than a dozen instances in the confession of phrasing and words inconsistent with Mr. Brown’s level of competence. Defense attorneys have called the confession fabricated. Affidavits from doctors and Mr. Brown’s former teachers bolster those claims. One of the doctors at Dorothea Dix mental hospital, where Mr. Brown has been held for the past 14 years, said not only did the confession not sound like the accused, but he couldn’t even be “trained or coached” to talk that way.
The comments give weight to defense charges that the confession was faked. The state attorney general’s office should probe that and other allegations. If such evidence tampering occurred, those involved should be prosecuted.
When Anson County officials refused to act, Mr. Brown’s lawyers went to court in Durham County to seek his release. Durham County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson has decided there are “appropriate grounds” to examine the case and noted that charges that the confession was fake “appears to have gone un-rebutted by the prosecution.” He set an Oct. 8 hearing to decide if charges should be dismissed.
It’s time for Mr. Brown to go free. The crime involved was heinous. An 80-year-old woman was beaten to death in her home. But plenty of reasonable doubt exists about whether Mr. Brown was the killer. Even the prosecution thinks he should be released: The DA offered a plea agreement to free him if he pled guilty, but Mr. Brown couldn’t accept the offer because his lawyer could not make him understand it.
The state review and the October hearing should lead to what has been sadly lacking in this case — justice. It’s long overdue.

Closing the gate after the horse is out

Friday, August 6th, 2010

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

When Senator Webster and I filed the complaint asking Leake to step down from his post on the SBOE prior to the SBOE hearings on Mike Easley’s finances, we made it a point to involve the current governor. The complaint filed with the State Board of Elections states “Should Chairman Leake fail to promptly tender his resignation from the SBOE, we ask that you request the Governor act to remove him.”

So did the SBOE fail to notify the Governor of the complaint, or did the Governor personally decide to ignore Leake’s record of ignoring obvious conflicts of interest? To paraphrase the traditional question, “What did she know and when did she know it?” Obviously we were right to predict Leake would interfere in the investigation, and the complaint was worded in anticipation of his malfeasance.

If the SBOE failed to fully inform Governor Perdue of the complaint, they should all resign. If she knew Leake’s history and left him in place to prevent a full investigation, perhaps it is time for the press to ask her to step down instead of repeating their sad performance with Speaker Black and Governor Easley.
Of course, if the Hunt-Easley-Perdue-Basnight-Rand crowd can get Ripley Rand confirmed in time, maybe they can avoid Speaker Black’s fate. Anyone who isn’t expressing outrage that Hagan recommended and Obama nominated Tony Rand’s son, who is so close to Mike Easley that Easley appointed both Ripley Rand and his wife, Shannon Joseph, to the Superior Court bench, is either ignorant or oblivious or part of the good ol’ boy gang.
It was easy to predict that Leake had no business involved in investigating Easley’s fundraising. Not only was Leake a major Easley fundraiser, which means he should have been being investigated instead of guiding the investigation, he had a track record of abusing his position by ignoring clear conflicts of interest. The people interviewed at the time of the hearings praising Leake should be asked now to explain how they could have been so out of touch with reality.
And the suggestion Leake should have stepped down before the hearings can hardly be dismissed as partisan nonsense. The Wilmington Star and BlueNC had some pretty harsh words for Leake long before Senator Webster and I tried to remind the public of how bad it looked to let someone so close to those being investigated guide the investigation.
But despite the Leake fiasco, Rand’s nomination reminds me of Yogi’s “Déjà vu all over again.” When someone with an obvious and inevitable conflict of interest is put in a position that requires them to act contrary to their personal and business ties, that is not fair to the person being tempted or the public they are supposed to serve. Regardless of Ripley Rand’s personal qualifications, his personal and professional relationships should disqualify him from serving as US Attorney in North Carolina. In another state, fine, but not in North Carolina. It’s too personal.

Surprised by the SBI? The press is still ignoring big problems!

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

The Charlotte Observer had an hilarious editorial this morning (August 1, 2010) expressing their shock that the SBI provided testimony in a trial that was “false and misleading.” The SBI agent had said he was ordered to testify as he did, but we have yet to read who gave the orders and how far up the food chain knowledge of the dishonesty reached. Wonder why?

Anyone remember the old saying about “Power corrupts” or think it might apply to the good ol’ boys (and girls) who have been working together out of public view for so many years? The facts were available; the failure of the press to report so many facts unfavorable to Hunt, Easley, Perdue and company (including the Republicans who are part of the insider team) has led to a pay to play system so arrogant even the press notices occasionally.

The Raleigh Report clearly stated “SBI is AWOL in Corruption Cases” and provided documentation months ago, but the Observer wouldn’t print those facts when they were handed to them on a platter.

Of course there are problems at the SBI, SBOE and every other “ethical watchdog” controlled by the Hunt-Easley-Perdue-Dalton team. When roads and water and sewer permits are for sale, the folks in charge hardly want hard-hitting law enforcement agencies.