Friday Follies

By: - January 19, 2007 7:19 pm

Senator Richard Burr was making the rounds in the last few weeks, offering his take on 2006 and the year ahead. Most of Burr’s comments were fairly predictable, but his take on the Democratic presidential candidates was a little disturbing.

Burr said that he didn’t think too highly of Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards, saying the issues Edwards is campaigning on won’t be “high-level priorities.” 

The issues Edwards is campaigning on are anti-poverty issues, raising the minimum wage, increasing access to health care and other proposals to help people struggling to make ends meet. You can disagree with Edwards’ solutions, but it’s hard to argue that they are not high priority issues for the country.

Maybe Burr doesn’t think they are important, but most people in North Carolina and across the country do.


If you are wondering about the real philosophy behind the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a recent letter in the Independent by Director Jane Shaw makes it pretty clear. Not the intent of the letter, which is a long response to criticism of the Center after faculty members at North Carolina State expressed reservations about the possibility of receiving funding from the Pope Foundation.

The telling phrase is when Shaw responds to a News and Observer op-ed written by Cat Warren, head of the Women’s Studies Program.  The Pope Center to Dismantle Public Higher Education has long attacked women’s studies programs, using the “politically correct” club against it.  One of the problems with the program that Shaw cites in this latest column is a new one, that it is financed primarily by public (i.e. taxpayer funds).

It may come as a shock to Ms. Shaw, but public universities are funded by the public, by state dollars.  That’s the point. Public universities certainly raise private funds, but plenty of departments and schools run on taxpayer dollars.

That is what a public university is and thank goodness for it.  Public institutions established and operated for the good of the state may be a foreign concept to the Pope Center, but the vast majority of North Carolinians is familiar with the concept and supports it. 


The Johnston County School Board provided more evidence recently that health advocates still have a long ways to go in battling the dangers of smoking in the state. Several Board members balked at making school campuses in the country tobacco free.

Eighty-one of the state’s 115 school systems ban tobacco products on school grounds, but Johnston County may not be joining the list anytime soon.

One Board member said the policy would hurt the Board’s efforts to pass a school bond later in the year and reminded the Board that a lot of people in the county work in the tobacco industry.  Apparently it is an insult to farmers to protect the health of students, teachers, and school visitors. 

The rumor mill about the fate of soon to be Former House Speaker Jim Black picked up some new steam this week, with some political insiders predicting that Black will be indicted soon and others claiming Black is working out a plea arrangement with federal authorities to avoid a long prison term.

The rumors have been around forever and are likely to continue until Black is either cleared of wrongdoing or charged with a crime, but it does make you wonder if all the uncertainty is related to why the history of the House written by the former page supervisor has yet to be released. Maybe it’s missing its final chapter.

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066