January 19, 2017

Think Trump doesn't have conflicts of interest?

If you think Trump doesn't have conflicts of interest, read this article and look at the diagram at end of article. This is the most conflicted and dishonest president in all time... A folly of conflicts

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December 19, 2016

Two nuts in a row

The real nut case speaks out. Franklin Graham says that it was not the Russians but was God that elected Trump!

Franklin will never be like his Dad Billy Graham so he has to make up headlines to grab attention when he can!

Read the story here

December 17, 2016

Yet another McCrory show of ignorance

Pat's Ignorance Continues

Even after Pat McCrory has lost the election he continues to show his ignorance and hatefulness by agreeing with the spiteful NC GOP power grab movement. He is showing how narrowminded he is and that he does not know how to respect the office and support his own new governor.

The latest McCrory failure to respect the will of state citizens is shown in this news article...

Gov. McCrory begins to sign bills that limit power of Gov.-elect Cooper, Democrats http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article121302433.html

December 2, 2016

Pat made the Mad Magazine " 20 Dumbest" List For NC HB2

Thanks, Pat. It's been great fun!

Congratulations to former Governor Pat McCrory for making the Mad Magazine "20 Dumbest" list.

This is a great honor for any governor to be chosen for. What a great honor for NC and the GOP plan for the state to be one of the most discriminatory states in the country. Congrats also go to the GOP leaders Moore, Berger and Stam for their tireless contributions in pushing discrimination in all they do for the state! Great job guys!!!

Read the full article...

November 27, 2016

McCrory gets new title: State Ass

Once again Pat McCrory has demonstrated his vast ignorance. He has announced he will give up his lawsuit for a recount of the 2016 governors race if just Durham will agree to a recount of votes and if the totals remain the same. He just cannot bring himself to admit defeat and that Roy Cooper has won the election.

Now McCrory will receive another new title to use in his new job as the official public bathroom door police inspector. As he stands guard at bathroom doors demanding to see everyone's birth certificates and checking their genitals for a match, he will take on the title of "state Ass".

November 25, 2016

McCrory Unable To Face Reality Two Weeks After The Election

Pat McCrory and his campaign crew just cannot let go. Like a dog with a bone, he seems to be incapable of facing reality and acknowledging his clear defeat in the 2016 governor's election.

He either cannot understand how much economic damage he has brought to the state or wants to trick citizens into thinking he has done good things for the state and refuses to go back to where he came from. His personal involvement in legislative efforts to bring discrimination into state government has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in income to the state and taken jobs away from thousands of people that work in jobs directly tied to these losses. Dozens of sports events have cancelled events in the state and have moved out of the region. Multiple big corporations have decided to not bring their businesses to NC and not expand businesses already here.

During the entire campaign he pretended he had done no wrong when he signed into law HB2, the controversial law the NC GOP dominated legislature created that clearly put the state in the position of discriminating against many individuals in NC.

October 18, 2016

NC and the bathroom police

NC Bathroom Police Captain

Worried about a Trans person coming into the bathroom when you are in there? Worry no more!

Governor Pat McCrory has decided that he will be Captain of the new "bathroom police" (he likes to pretend to be a leader) beginning just after the 2016 Governor's election. He will be joined by his band of merry men in the legislature that also want to be part of the bathroom police force.

They all claim to have great qualifications to inspect your birth certificate and check your private parts to insure your parts match the birth certificate. Or that you have legally changed your birth sex of record on the certificate. Each inspector will be equipped with special birth certificate reading glasses and special state issued rubber gloves to use when they check you and the Trans people out. Why both? They say they have to check everyone since there may not be any visible difference in character and appearance so inspections for all will be the rule of the day with the special police.

Be sure after the election you start carrying a copy of your birth certificate every time you visit a state or public bathroom!

October 17, 2016

HB2 Pat at the End of Your Political Carreer

Happy Birthday Pat McCrory! And sayonara from all the state citizens that you discriminated against with the urgent passage of your illegal and immoral HB2 law.

You, Phil Berger and Tim Moore deserve all the destruction to your political careers that you get from here on out. In your boundless ignorance you remain blinded to reality in your self denial and enormous lack of understanding of the diverse population in our state and country as you drift in the past.

October 12, 2016

Burr ties himself to a raging maniac

Sen. Burr Risks It All

Senator Richard Burr has tied his political future to a self destructing candidate. Or is it a falling rock? Either way he has now left himself riding the fiery crash of Donald Trump as Trump scorches the earth in his own last campaign days.

Read the full story...

October 10, 2016

The big lie about NC HB2 purpose

Extreme Religious View

An extreme religious group, Institute for Faith and Family (IFF), has created a video to project a complete lie and fabrication about the alleged need for the highly controversial and unconstitutional NC House Bill 2 (HB2). The fabrication by this extreme group uses a young female student at a Greenville Christian Academy to claim repealing the law would allow men and boys to shower in and use bathrooms with women and girls and would endanger them by allowing predators into the facilities.

The truth is there has NEVER been a case of a man or boy using women's locker or restrooms anywhere and endangering women and girls. The whole fabrication is being pushed onto NC people and TV viewers by Tami Fitzgerald, director of the extreme IFF organization, and similar extremists trying to pivot citizens away from repealing the unjust and unconstitutional law.

The law is a hate bill fabrication of Representatives Tim Moore and Phil Berger, and rushed through the NC Legislature for signature by Governor McCrory in just 12 hours in March. There was no discussion or debate allowed and the HB2 law in fact discriminates against LGBTQ citizens and prevents NC communities from passing laws to provide them with protections afforded to other citizens. Fallout has now cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars and jobs and planned sports have been moved out of state for years to come.

This year, more than ever, it is extremely important to vote and get the extremist politicians out of the Legislature and government and restore sanity to NC governmental processes. It is equally important to speak out and rebuke the extremists pushing distorted views on citizens and the state.

See the video of an extremist group lie...

October 9, 2016

Trump Absurdities

Raging Donald Trump

Donald Trump Denied NC Civil Rights Museum Access

During the heated 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump and his team tried to get the NC Civil Rights Museum to allow them to freely roam around the site to make photo-op pictures of him in the museum. The museum staff told them the museum is for the public and educational purposes and he could not use the site for political purposes. 

Read the full story...    click here

September 30, 2016

McCrory's sleazy sickly lady commercial

A new September 2016 TV ad peddling more of McCrory's twisted hatred for anything good in North Carolina shows how he stretches the truth pretending to say he is not responsible for failures and problems in previous years in the state's crime lab.

The ad features a sickly sounding lady that appears to be around forty or fifty years old. She was born in and living in Atlanta and did not live in NC when the incident occurred. She was actually molested by her own family members as revealed in an interview not referenced in the advertisement. In her pale, fainting voice she tries to paint a picture of how she was molested or raped when she was nine years old and how this might be connected to failures of McCrory's opponent and how McCrory's administration's crime lab did not process rape kits and evidence in a timely manner. The truth is it was in no way connected to the NC crime lab. Interesting that it occurred almost forty years ago in another state. This actually happened before McCrory and Cooper both were a part of North Carolina's government. 

This is clearly another of McCrory's blatant lies that goes along with his pattern of pumping up his own version of his reputation, supporting his personal legislation attacking the NC LGBTQ community and trampling rights of citizens. 

View the ad and read the information about it...

July 22, 2013

Is it true? The ONLY state to cut off unemployment???

Interesting read about NC being the ONLY state to cut off unemployment benefits. And it seems that it is not too late to provide these benefits and it will not cost the state anything... Read more...

Is there still time to reverse the UI cliff? Yes, there is. « The Progressive Pulse

June 10, 2013

Moron Monday shows radical Left just doesn’t get it : NC SPIN Balanced Debate for the Old North State

Sen. Thom Goolsby
The Real Moron

This guy is the "Moron", to use his his own words.

How can a person that claims to represent NC citizens pull off calling NC people "morons"? He claims Reverend Barker is a fake and insults pretty much all of the folks that attended legislature Monday protests. He also referred to the attendees as "mostly white, angry, aged former hippies" and insults them all while lumping them all into the class of "Radical Left".

Seems more like Thom Goolsby along with his friends the Three Amigos (Tillis, Berger and Stam) are the real Morons in NC. All aggressively push agendas to ignore the lower income state citizens and those that need help to live and get health care. The real GOP Morons have taken radical steps to take away health care, unemployment assistance, equality, marriage rights, public school funding, reduce voting rights, slant voters to the GOP side and even reduce educational capacity in the state.

Its not the Democrats bankrupting the state. It is the current crop of GOP elected folks that have taken over the legislature and are using that to trash the state and continue to make NC rank among the poorest places to live and work. With the GOP agenda the average and lower income citizens will pay more taxes, lose ground and find it even harder to find work in the state for as long as this distortion of state government continues.

His radical views are pretty well covered in this article published by NC Spin.

Read more... Moron Monday shows radical Left just doesn’t get it : NC SPIN Balanced Debate for the Old North State

June 7, 2013

NCDOT Removes EV Charging Stations From Rest Stops | WUNC

NC fails to support public interest in rechargeable cars and stops effort to use renewable energy on NC roads.

Poor planning and lack of foresight causes NC DOT and lawmakers to fail in an effort to support use of rechargeable cars on NC highways. According to DOT spokeswoman Julia Casadonte "the stations were meant to be a temporary pilot project" and that the department removed the charging stations to resolve a conflict in laws. Rather than solve a problem of how to accommodate payment for recharging, the DOT removed the stations because a poorly planned directive required the DOT to find a way to charge drivers for using the stations. This conflicted with a Federal law saying charges may be only made for vending machine services along highways. 

The charging stations were in fact being used by the public. Over 14 months 146 vehicles were recharged at a total cost of $44.00 for the energy consumed. Since the state did not find a way to allow customers to pay for the service they decided to just "pull the plug" and remove the chargers. 

Read the article... NCDOT Removes EV Charging Stations From Rest Stops | WUNC

June 5, 2013

Enough is enough | Vote them all out

Its time to get the NC Republicans that do not support the needs of NC citizens out of office. Vote them out at the next opportunity and vote in representatives that do care about citizens.

Taking away unemployment benefits from those out of work is just not right. Withholding health care and benefits from those that do not have the means to buy it is just not right. Reducing the quality of education and reducing funding for teachers and schools is just not right.

In fact, lets all start moving to get them out of those cushy jobs now. There is absolutely no need to have GOP Rep's in the legislature moving the state backward in time and crushing those that do not meet their standards and views for being state residents.

Read more... Enough is enough | NC Policy Watch

May 20, 2013

Health care for kids, grandparents on Medicaid is not a “runaway entitlement” or “parasitic disease”

The current crop of Legislators is especially hard on those in the low income segment of our state - children, seniors, and the disabled with no other health care. Too bad Phil Berger and his comrades in arms waging war on the poor aren't required to survive at the same level of income and give up their cushy Legislature benefits. They are so out of touch with the real world and so filled with hatred they can't do anything for those with real needs. Read more... Health care for kids, grandparents on Medicaid is not a “runaway entitlement” or “parasitic disease” « The Progressive Pulse

May 14, 2013

More loss of rights for NC citizens - Senate committee limits local control, regulations on outdoor smoking « The Progressive Pulse

Senator Buck Newton, the sponsor of Senate Bill 703, told members of the Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources committee that it was ‘ridiculous’ that adult smokers could not enjoy tobacco on a windy beach, a city sidewalk, or while sitting on the back of their pick-up truck on a community college campus. 

Senator Buck Newton seems to have tobacco in his pocket. It is clear Senator Newton has not sat on a beach in the path of smoke from an inconsiderate smoker puffing on the beach. Or tried to walk in public places with smokers lining the path and blowing smoke in the fresh air other people are trying to breathe. 

Time to vote him out. 

Read more... Senate committee limits local control, regulations on outdoor smoking (video) « The Progressive Pulse

April 17, 2013

More bureaucratic micromanagement at DHHS - Signature Gate!

This is truly bizarre! It would appear that the newly appointed head of NC's DHHS does not live in the real world, much less on the same planet as everyone else in the state. Anyone that would issue a directive with such specific details about how to "sign" employee email messages has no business being in the job, and certainly not being an employee/appointee of the state.

According to this, Secretary Aldona Wos has no clue how to be a leader or manager and is clearly not fit to be a part of the Governor's administration. This is truly embarrassing to the entire state and makes the whole administration look like idiots. Read the whole report --- More bureaucratic micromanagement at DHHS « The Progressive Pulse:

April 16, 2013

Stam introduces bill to take tax money away from public schools and benefit his friends wanting to avoid one of the lowest rated school systems in the country

Paul Stam strikes again by introducing a bill that would continue the streak of taking tax dollars (on top of rights) away from the majority of state citizens and would hand the funds off to benefit wealthy prejudiced  friends and connections. He wants to pass legislation that would take some ninety million dollars over two years from everyone's tax money and hand it to wealthy folks that want to send their children to private schools to avoid the public school system.

It's interesting he's the BFF of Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly, the owners of the Thales Academy in Apex and no doubt with others wanting to build private schools. And now he wants to take advantage of folks by taking taxpayer's dollars to give to friends to send their kids to private schools at the expense of public schools.

Stam says his plan should be known as the "Opportunity Scholarship program" and not a voucher program. He thinks this will fool folks into thinking it is good for them and not oppose it. Everyone else says it is simply a voucher scheme and will drain vital funds away from public schools already being underfunded by Stam and his legislative buddies.

If you look back as recently as the Governor Mike Easley era, North Carolina has been consistently ranked low on the education ladder, low in teacher pay and behind most other states and is not producing future employees and leaders other states are producing. North Carolina is ranked way down toward the bottom of the list on funding for schools and teachers and is introducing the voucher program as yet another way to drain off more education funds to promote private purposes most families are excluded from.

Read the entire article - http://www.wral.com/bill-would-provide-state-money-for-private-school-tuition/12342960/

April 3, 2013

Cut Your Electric Bill: Repeal the Mandate! : NC SPIN Balanced Debate for the Old North State

Yes, Becki, your perception of removing this requirement "might" help reduce consumer costs for energy. On the other hand, it is more likely that it will not reduce consumer costs as you suggest.

Strongly encouraging energy companies to incorporate new technologies into energy production will help to reduce costs over time. The cost of using new technology will in fact decrease as it becomes more widespread. This is historically true with all technology as new ideas emerge in our economy.

 We cannot remain locked into producing energy solely based on fossil fuels and continuing to increase pollution and contributing to the "greenhouse effect" and jeopardizing our future. It is clear to everyone (except maybe you) that negative effects from methods of energy production companies and other industries continue to increase pollution in our world and continuing to increase environmental pollution is in fact causing devastating increases in weather extremes, tornadoes, storms, drouts and situations that are ravaging our country and the world.

Continue pushing to eliminate needed regulations if that is your goal, but the declining quality of the world around you and us will continue to get worse. Perhaps when your area is wiped out or severely devastated or your family members suffer these consequences, then you might begin to realize the regulations are in fact good for our state and the economy.

Read more about yet another GOP effort to force their views on the state - Cut Your Electric Bill: Repeal the Mandate! : NC SPIN Balanced Debate for the Old North State

December 24, 2010

NC Population surges ahead in 2010

Thinking its getting more crowded around here lately? According to the latest US Census numbers, North Carolina jumped substantially ahead in the number of residents and is among the "mega-states" in population. The State's population swelled by a whopping 18.5 percent since year 2000.

The NC population increased nearly 1.5 million people since 2000 to a total count of 9,535,483, the fifth most of any state.

The state missed by only a few thousand the opportunity to have one more seat in the US House.

The accelerated growth brings up issues to ponder going forwards - increased demand for resources, jobs, health care and many of the things shared by all citizens.
Read the entire report...

July 9, 2008

Another Easley political casualty - man resigns over setting flag at half mast

A long time state employee lost his job when he tried to express his views by choosing to not comply with Governor Easley's directive to lower the flag when Senator Jesse Helms died. L. F. Eason, manager of the North Carolina Standards Laboratory and a 29-year veteran of the state Department of Agriculture "instructed his staff to not to fly the U.S. or North Carolina flags at half-staff Monday, as called for in a directive to all state agencies by Gov. Mike Easley" according to a news report released during Senator Jesse Helms funeral.

In telling his staff to not lower the flags Mr. Eason wrote "Regardless of any executive proclamation, I do not want the flags at the North Carolina Standards Laboratory flown at half staff to honor Jesse Helms any time this week," according to e-mail messages released in response to a public records request. A news article states "He told his staff that he did not think it was appropriate to honor Helms because of his "doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice" and his opposition to civil rights bills and the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

When he chose to defy the Governor's order to lower the flags his superiors directed him to either comply with the order or resign from his job. Mr. Eason's conviction to not honor an elected official that constantly spread hatred and negativism and publicly aired his views against gays, lesbians and anyone not having his same beliefs cost him his long time job as manager of the laboratory and as a state employee.

This is the second 2008 state employee forced out of employment by the Easley administration because of a willingness to be truthful and not comply with Easley's ill-based directives. Governor Easley blamed Debbie Crane, an state employee for eighteen years and most recently serving as the DHHS public affairs director, when she provided information from public records about the state's costly blunder during his administration - over 400 million dollars wasted after state laws were changed in 2001 in a bungled attempt to reform mental health care. Read the entire report...
News & Observer
July 9, 2008
Ryan Teagure, Staff Writer

He quit rather than lower flag for Helms

RALEIGH - L.F. Eason III gave up the only job he'd ever had rather than lower a flag to honor former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.

Eason, a 29-year veteran of the state Department of Agriculture, instructed his staff at a small Raleigh lab not to fly the U.S. or North Carolina flags at half-staff Monday, as called for in a directive to all state agencies by Gov. Mike Easley.

When a superior ordered the lab to follow the directive, Eason decided to retire rather than pay tribute to Helms. After several hours' delay, one of Eason's employees hung the flags at half-staff.

The brouhaha began late Sunday night, when Eason e-mailed eight of his employees in the state standards lab, which calibrates measuring equipment used on things as widely varied as gasoline and hamburgers.

"Regardless of any executive proclamation, I do not want the flags at the North Carolina Standards Laboratory flown at half staff to honor Jesse Helms any time this week," Eason wrote just after midnight, according to e-mail messages released in response to a public records request.

He told his staff that he did not think it was appropriate to honor Helms because of his "doctrine of negativity, hate, and prejudice" and his opposition to civil rights bills and the federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Eason said in an interview Tuesday that he did not typically lower the flag himself, but that, as head of the lab, he supervised the technician who did. He also trained new employees on proper flag etiquette, including a one-person folding technique he learned in Boy Scouts.

When the lab opened Monday morning, the flags were not out at all. An employee called Eason's boss, Stephen Benjamin, who worked in another building in Raleigh. About 10:45 a.m., Benjamin told one of Eason's co-workers to put the flags at half-staff.

Another of Eason's superiors later drove by the lab to make sure the flags were up properly.

No one in the Governor's Office was aware of any time in recent memory when a state employee refused to lower a flag. Brian Long, a spokesman for the Agriculture Department, said Eason's refusal was unexpected.

"We've never had any conversations like that," he said.

An ultimatum

In a string of e-mail messages with his superiors, Eason was told he could either lower the flags or retire effective immediately.

Though he's only 51, Eason chose to retire, although he pleaded several times to be allowed to stay at the lab. Eason, who had worked for the Agriculture Department since graduating from college, was paid $65,235 a year as the laboratory manager.

Several people, including his wife, argued to Eason that the flags belonged to the state, as did the lab. But Eason said he felt a strong sense of ownership.

Eason and a previous boss had sketched out the building's rough design on a napkin at the Atlanta airport in 1984 after attending a national conference on weights and measures.

He then worked to get funding for it in the state budget, and he recently helped snag state money to study building another lab.

"I designed and built that lab," he said. "Even though technically the bricks and mortar belong to the state of North Carolina, I feel very strongly that everything that comes out of there is my responsibility."

It was not the first time Eason felt uneasy about lowering the flag.

A registered Democrat who frequently votes a split ticket, he said he had no problems lowering the flag for former Sen. Terry Sanford or President Reagan. But he remembers wondering whether he would be willing to lower the flag after President Nixon's death.

He never had to make that decision, since it rained both days.

Monday was sunny. And Eason was out of a job. Original report...

July 1, 2008

Taxpayers pay for Mary Easley trip to foreign locations

Concerned about skyrocketing gas, food and other prices taking your hard earned dollars? Then consider recent use of your tax dollars to let Governor Easley's wife, Mary, travel to Europe and Russia to visit museums, restaurants and other tourist locations without you having a choice.

According to a report in the News & Observer Mary and her entourage "attended some of the finest museums in France and St. Petersburg, Russia, during the past 14 months. She and entourages dined at first-class restaurants, slept in top-notch hotels and sat in the fifth row for a Russian ballet. The travels -- a 2007 trip to France and one to Russia and Estonia in May -- cost taxpayers $109,000."

During Easley's administration the state has wasted hundreds of millions of tax dollars through failures in the NC DOT, DMV and other organizations due to inability of Easley appointees to properly manage operations of those organizations. Now his wife adds to that waste by using tax dollars for personal travels out of the country in the name of "public relations". Read more...
July 1, 2008
News & Observer
Benjamin Niolet, Staff Writer

Mary Easley trips cost state $109,000

Groups visited France, Russia, Estonia on cultural exchanges; no results yet

North Carolina's first lady, Mary Easley, visited some of the finest museums in France and St. Petersburg, Russia, during the past 14 months. She and entourages dined at first-class restaurants, slept in top-notch hotels and sat in the fifth row for a Russian ballet. The travels -- a 2007 trip to France and one to Russia and Estonia in May -- cost taxpayers $109,000.

Gov. Mike Easley did not go on either trip, and neither was publicly disclosed at the time. Mary Easley did not respond to requests for an interview, but expense reports and other documents released in response to a public records request indicate the trips were considered cultural exchanges to build links between North Carolina and officials in the countries visited. The trips have so far produced no tangible benefits. Read the article...

April 2, 2008

Bumpy rides in Apex NC

When driving or biking in Apex be prepared for a bumpy ride and be aware some of the main roads are always spotted with major heat cracks and pot holes. This is not a new issue with the Town of Apex but continues despite efforts of citizens to get the town to keep roads in town in good shape. The town staff routinely answers complaints about many local road conditions with the response that "Apex is not responsible for road problems along state maintained roads even if they are inside the town limits". When road problems are referred to the town manager, Bruce Radford, the immediate response is that "roads maintained by the state and are not our responsibility and we have not been able to get anyone in NC DOT to address the problems". Town officials insist that the town is not responsible for problems with roads the state oversees even if they are inside Apex. This response was included in a recent news article pointing out problems bikers have riding on Salem Street, the road through the center of downtown.

Bruce Radford, Apex's town manager, states in the article that he is well aware of the problem. "Of all the roads I receive complaints about in the town of Apex, this one is much worse than any other," Radford said. "It will jar your teeth and your car as well."

An article published March 22nd, 2008, in the News and Observer (also discussed in the Triangle Troubleshooter) touches on a problem along a portion of south Salem Street that presents riders, especially bikers, with a constant series of jolts when traveling the road. Although the north section of Salem was not mentioned, the area from Hunter Street all the way to US 64 is much worse and is riddled with major cracks across the whole road that deliver a jolt to drivers and bikers alike. No doubt these are the result of high temperatures from years of summer heat but the problem persists and neither the state or town will make an effort to repair or resurface the road.

Other roads in and around town (NC 1010, Davis Drive, NC 55 and parts of US 64) are in similar poor and unsafe condition. On US 64 between Laura Duncan Road and US 1 there are no less than eight significant dips in the road heading toward US 1 that cause vehicles to drop several inches when driving in the left lane at normal speeds. The left lane of US 64 onto US 1 northbound at the US 1 underpass also has had a sunken area across the lane for several years and the state does not see fit to repair it. It would seem the likely cause of these dips is a collapse or compression of the road support beneath these areas from storm runoff routed from drains in the center of the road to the shoulders. This same problem is evident in numerous places along NC 55 between Apex and Holly Springs and suggests poor construction during recent road improvements that seems to pop up in many places around the state in news reports about NC road construction projects.

Since neither the state or the Town of Apex seems to take responsibility for keeping roads in good shape it would seem prudent for drivers and bikers to stay alert for poor road conditions and be prepared to be jolted while traveling local roads...
News and Observer
March 22, 2008
David Bracken, Staff Writer

No smoothing out in sight for a bumpy ride in Apex

APEX - If you're one of the many cyclists who regularly ride down South Salem Street in Apex, you know the particular stretch we're talking about.

Situated between Apex Barbecue and Tingen roads, this half-mile section is lined with cracks, unexpected bumps and the occasional pothole.

"I'm just not sure what they think cyclists are supposed to do there," cyclist Janyne Kizer said. "They're telling us to go there."

This section of South Salem, also known as old U.S. 1, is part of the U.S. Bicycle Route 1, which runs along the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine. Kizer is one of dozens of cyclists who ride the route each Saturday.

Kizer has complained to the town of Apex but was told the road's condition is the responsibility of the state Department of Transportation.

Bruce Radford, Apex's town manager, is well aware of the problem. "Of all the roads I receive complaints about in the town of Apex, this one is much worse than any other," Radford said. "It will jar your teeth and your car as well."

In addition to being a popular cycling route, the section of road is an entry point into four subdivisions, Radford said. He has no idea when it was last resurfaced, and he says DOT officials have not been able to tell him when it will be repaired.

"We've not really received much hope that it's going to be repaired," Radford said.

Messages left with engineers in charge of road maintenance for N.C. DOT District 5, which covers Wake County, were not returned this week. Original article...

March 4, 2008

Easley pins the tail on Debbie Crane about failure of NC mental health care

Governor Easley once again has passed the buck and has pointed the finger of blame toward someone else in state's latest costly blunder - over 400 million dollars wasted after state laws were changed in 2001 in an attempt to reform mental health care during his administration. Easley says that Carmen Odom Hooker, former director of DHHS, was opposed to the state's changes that allowed private firms to offer mental health care with little oversight or rules on how funds would be spent but there is no evidence that she opposed the changes and she recently left employment as director and moved on to a job in another state.

Easley is now blaming much of the current bad news on Debbie Crane, an state employee for eighteen years serving as the DHHS public affairs director and providing information about DHHS and how mental health care is now handled. In conflict with Easley's suggestion that Hooker was opposed to the state's mental health care changes, in a 2001 letter addressed "to all North Carolinians," Hooker Odom said she had developed the reform plan "in collaboration with the North Carolina Legislature." She said she was presenting the plan to the state's residents "with pride and enthusiasm."

Mrs. Crane's response on Easley not accepting responsibility of failure of the mental health care system is that "It does amaze me that y'all have done this [News & Observer report] series detailing all this waste of money, all the hurt people ... and that the one person who gets fired is me," she said. "It's truly shooting the messenger."

News & Observer
March 4, 2008
Staff Reports

DHHS public affairs director fired

RALEIGH - The Easley administration today fired Debbie Crane, the state official who handled News & Observer reporters' requests for information as they worked on a series about mental health.

Crane, 48, who was public affairs director at the state Department of Health and Human Services, said department secretary Dempsey Benton told her yesterday that Gov. Mike Easley "wanted me out. He had lost confidence in me."

Crane was officially fired this morning by another department official, she said, after Benton went to Easley's press conference about mental health issues.

Crane said her dismissal revolved around the Easley administration's attempts to get former DHHS secretary Carmen Hooker Odom to talk to The N&O about her supposed opposition to the 2001 mental health reforms. Read the full report...

February 25, 2008

NC wastes millions in mental health reform

Once again news about North Carolina highlights that millions are being wasted by the state - this time in mental health reform. Dempsey Benton, the new leader of the state's department of Health and Human Services, is making an effort to reduce costs and waste but the state has already wasted at least $400 million attempting to treat more mentally ill people in their communities and fewer in the state's four psychiatric hospitals.

Once again this has taken place during Governor Easley's watch as recently seen with other political appointees made by Easley committing major and costly blunders while managing DOT, DMV and other state divisions. Changes in mental health treatment during the time of another of Governor Easley's appointees, Hooker Odom, former leader of DHHS, allowed practices to be put in place that has allowed millions to be wasted by questionable providers providing questionable services for mentally ill patients with virtually no specific controls over services provided. Even with much finger pointing between Easley and various state representatives trying to shift blame to each other, poorly planned changes were made during Easley's administration with insufficient controls and procedures to insure funds are spent for needed treatments and valid services and paid to legitimate providers.

Department officials defined too loosely the community support services companies would offer, and they agreed to pay too much for it according to a news report. Responsibility for enacting the changes fell to Health and Human Services, led for six years by Carmen Hooker Odom, Gov. Mike Easley's appointee. They didn't think through all the details of providing adequate services for mentally ill patients and were overwhelmed by the task and still are. Hooker Odom announced her resignation from DHHS last May, two weeks after informing Easley about what she called a "deeply disturbing" audit of mental-health providers.

News and Observer
February 24, 2008
The Associated Press

State wastes millions in mental-health reform

RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina has wasted at least $400 million in its efforts to treat more mentally ill people in their own communities and fewer in the state's four psychiatric hospitals, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Sunday.

An investigation by the newspaper showed that local governments, forced to stop offering treatment, were replaced by providers trying to make money, using mostly high school graduates instead of licensed professionals. In a few months, the cost of the community support program was $50 million a month, more than 10 times what the state had expected.

Providers took some clients to movies or shopping, charging taxpayers $61 an hour, according to the newspaper's investigation. Meanwhile, some seriously ill people went without treatment.

It was almost a year before the state reacted.

Hundreds of providers have abused the system, the state now says. Read more...

February 7, 2008

Fire LyndoTippett - It's time for him to go

North Carolina's DOT has found itself behind the bulls eye once again after a new state auditor's report reveals that the department has incurred additional costs on behalf of NC taxpayers to the tune of an extra $152 million over the last three years on 390 completed projects. The extra costs are related to mismanagement, poor planning and because of schedule changes, environmental reviews and design changes. The report states that 73 percent of those projects missed their projected construction starts. Forty percent of the projects missed that mark by more than a full year.

According to Les Merritt, NC's State Auditor, "DOT is a multi-billion dollar state agency that appears to operate on hunches and intuition rather than hard data analysis. As a result, taxpayers paid $152.4 million in unnecessary construction costs."

Merritt's report indicated that the auditors found that DOT does not track or analyze delays or successes in its road-building projects, despite repeated warnings and recommendations during the past 10 years from auditors and consultants. The auditors also said that if the department had an effective system for tracking performance, officials might have seen that delays cost taxpayers over $150 million.

"The lack of performance management practices has been pointed out to DOT before," the auditors wrote.

As expected, DOT officials are disputing the findings rather than admitting they happened and are not focusing on working toward solutions. Debbie Barbour, director of preconstruction for the department, claims engineers have only a rough guess of how long a project will take when funding is approved and says the detailed engineering has not been done up front (as it should be). She states that since the engineering work has been done at approval time, the estimated completion date can't take into account problems along the way. She also argues that environmental problems, obtaining permits and other issues are out of control of the department and says it is unfair to say projects are late because of those and other issues.

Signs continue to surface that the DOT is a poorly managed organization and unacceptable practices from the top down cause virtually everything DOT touches to be poorly done, to introduce avoidable significant problems and delays into projects and to cause taxpayers to pay more for substandard work that does not meet growing needs of the state.

It's time for Governor Easley, who takes much of his direction from his staff of buddies that help him make unwise choices and appointments of "good old boys" to state leadership positions, to realize the severity of problems in DOT and other state organizations and fire top leaders like Lyndo Tippett and mid-level management people like Debbie Barbour and at least make a feeble effort to re-establish a little control and get something for the billions of dollars spent on roads and projects while he is still in office.

Read the full article about findings in the study...

News and Observer
February 7, 2008
Dan Kane and Benjamine Niolet, Staff Writers
Delayed road projects cost millions

An audit of three years of completed state Transportation Department projects found many of them finished behind schedule, leading to what auditors say is an additional $150 million in inflation-related construction costs.

"DOT is a multi-billion dollar state agency that appears to operate on hunches and intuition rather than hard data analysis," State Auditor Les Merritt said. "As a result, taxpayers paid $152.4 million in unnecessary construction costs."

The 43-page audit released today looked at 390 highway projects completed between April 2004 and March 2007. Auditors said that 73 percent of those projects missed their projected construction starts. Forty percent of the projects missed that mark by more than a full year, Merritt said.

The audit said that the permitting process, environmental reviews and design changes caused many of the delays.

Department officials say the auditors held the department to an unfair standard. The $150 million figure is oversimplified and doesn't account for some $80 million the department saved by expediting projects within the same time frame.

The auditors based a project's start date and projected completion date on when the transportation board approved money for preliminary engineering. The problem with that method, said Debbie Barbour, director of preconstruction for the department, is that engineers have at that time only a rough guess over how long a project will take. Since no engineering work has been done, the estimated completion date can't take into account problems along the way.

"In developing a project, there are certain things that are outside the department's control, such as obtaining an environmental permit," Barbour said. "We don't really have control of the time frame on every activity in the approval process."

The auditors found that the department does not track or analyze delays or successes in its road-building projects, despite repeated warnings and recommendations during the past 10 years from auditors and consultants. The auditors said that if the department had an effective system for tracking performance, officials might have seen that delays cost taxpayers $150 million.

"The lack of performance management practices has been pointed out to DOT before," the auditors wrote.

But department officials say the department has implemented several new programs and processes since 2001 that wouldn't have been evident in the time period the auditors examined. The department has worked with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to streamline environmental permitting. The department measures whether it met target dates for acquiring property for a project or opening bids.

And the department has spent $3.6 million to hire a consultant to help officials change the way the department does business.

Bill Rosser, the state highway administrator said that the department works hard to finish projects on time, but road building is a complex and expensive business. Rosser said if the auditors looked at a newer set of projects, the findings would be much different.

"We would like to be responsive and deliver our projects," Rosser said. "We're always looking at the way the process works." Original source ...

February 3, 2008

NC's poor roads tied to bad politics, poor management and Governor Easley's bad choices

News continues to flow regarding North Carolina DOT's inability to solve major funding issues and failure to avoid major problems providing safe and adequate roads for the state. Under the leadership of Governor Easley's appointee, Lyndo Tippett, the organization continues business as usual with more of the same after promising to get advice from a consulting firm to help solve internal problems.

News broke in late January about another costly failure on the new I-795 between Wilson and Goldsboro rivaling the botched I-40 scandal that cost taxpayers some $22 million to repair in 2007. The new I-795 road is crumbling under weight of traffic after only two years of service and will likely cost some $7 million more to the state's taxpayers.

The latest report indicates the department's problems are still strongly tied to politics and fund raising issues that continue even after attempts by the state to separate politics and fund raising from the DOT organization 10 years ago, force disclosure of members fund raising records and require the board have members
with special skills in such fields as the environment and mass transit. Even that effort has failed and board membership "remains a plum spot for big political fundraisers who continue to ignore conflicts of interest and the wider needs of the state beyond their own districts"...
News & Observer
Dan Kane and Benjamin Niolet, Staff Writers
February 03, 2008

N.C. road building still mired in politics

Reforms in a 1998 law have failed to separate the state Board of Transportation from political fundraising

Nearly 10 years ago, state legislators championed a series of reforms for the scandal-plagued N.C. Board of Transportation that were intended to take the politics out of building roads.

Future appointees would have to disclose their political fundraising. Five of the 19 seats would be reserved for people with special skills in such fields as the environment and mass transit. Members would have to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.

"The board's policies, effectiveness and integrity are important to almost every citizen," Beverly Perdue, then a state senator, said on Sept. 23, 1998, the day the bill cleared the legislature. "The public has demanded reform, and this bill lays the groundwork."

That groundwork has proven a weak foundation. A decade after Perdue hailed the reform law, the 19-member DOT board remains a plum spot for big political fundraisers who continue to ignore conflicts of interest and the wider needs of the state beyond their own districts.

For example:

* The fundraising disclosure rule is toothless. The only fundraising that board members must disclose is contributions directly handed to them. Asking people to give to a campaign or holding fundraisers -- two common ways to raise campaign money -- aren't considered fundraising on disclosure forms.

* Two of the five seats intended to bring more professionalism to the board have been given to fundraisers best known for running restaurant chains.

* Conflicts of interest continue to surface. Last month, board member Thomas Betts Jr. of Rocky Mount resigned after he sought to raise $20,000 in campaign money from country singer Randy Parton and the others behind the struggling performing arts theater in Roanoke Rapids. Betts had directed $2.5 million in road work to the theater over the previous year. He sought campaign money for Perdue, now lieutenant governor, who is seeking to be the next governor.

* Some at-large members, who are supposed to look out for the entire state, are steering their discretionary money to their home districts.

The board oversees a department with a $3.8 billion budget and a serious public image problem. A chorus of lawmakers, public policy advocates and even transportation department employees say that the department is dysfunctional -- at a time when the state's transportation needs are growing dramatically. A special "blue ribbon" legislative panel is meeting to figure out how to get the department back on track.

The department even bungled trying to fix itself. It hired a consultant at a cost of $3.6 million to help assess its strengths and weaknesses and foster change. But the department refused to disclose the terms of the contract and any findings until Gov. Mike Easley ordered them made public.

The board's makeup and activities have emerged as a campaign issue in the gubernatorial election. Perdue's rival for the Democratic nomination, State Treasurer Richard Moore, has made it a key part of his campaign. Last month, among other proposals, he announced that he would not appoint fundraisers to the board. Perdue has not called for banning fundraisers from the board.

Ten years ago, Perdue's DOT reform bill won favor over a stricter bill initially filed in the House that would have banned fundraisers from the board, required five experts in various areas, and taken away the governor's power to appoint the transportation secretary.

Last month, Easley said trying to ban fundraisers from the process would just push the money underground.

"When you get into the fundraising business, if people want to participate, they'll find a way, just like the squirrel into the bird feeder," Easley said. "I want to know how much somebody's given who's been appointed and I think people want to know as well."

Finding wiggle room

But when Easley was elected governor in 2000, two years after the reform bill passed, he quickly found wiggle room in the transportation reform law. Easley's counsel, Hampton Dellinger, asked Grayson G. Kelley, a senior deputy attorney general, for an interpretation of what made someone a fundraiser under the new law. (Dellinger is now a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.)

Kelley focused on the phrase "personally acquired" in the law. He said that meant the only disclosure required was of "funds the appointee personally accepted from a donor and physically transferred to the campaign, executive committee or political committee."

To make sure he had understood the intent of Perdue and other sponsors, Kelley said, he talked to the legislative staff who drafted the law. He said they support his view "that a narrow construction of the disclosure provision was intended."

Perdue declined to be interviewed for this report. Her spokesman, David Kochman, released a statement saying the legislation was a "starting point" for reform and stronger than the version passed by the House. Easley also declined to be interviewed.

With the opinion in hand, Easley's staff advised his appointees to the board in a memo that they did not have to disclose fundraising if it did not involve collecting the checks.

Shortly afterward, appointees Louis W. Sewell Jr. of Jacksonville and D.M. "Mac" Campbell of Elizabethtown wrote "none" on their fundraising disclosure forms. Interviews with other Easley fundraisers, and an internal Easley campaign document obtained by The News & Observer, show that Sewell helped meet a $125,000 fundraising goal in Onslow County, while the campaign counted on Campbell to help raise $50,000 in Bladen County. (An Easley spokesman, Seth Effron, said neither Easley nor Dave Horne, the campaign treasurer in 2000, could confirm the document's authenticity. Effron said Easley declined to comment on the information within it.)

Another Onslow County fundraiser for Easley, Joe Henderson, said that he, Sewell and another man solicited contributors by phone and held a reception for Easley at an inn that has since been torn down.

Sewell, who also served on the board under former Gov. Jim Hunt, did not return messages left at his home or at work. He is a retired executive with the Golden Corral steakhouse chain. In 2005, Easley awarded him one of the state's highest honors, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Campbell confirmed that he raised money for Easley in 2000 and 2004 by holding fundraisers at his lakefront cottage, but he did not have to disclose his efforts because he did not collect the checks. He cited the Easley memo.

Another appointee, Lanny T. Wilson of Wilmington, said in his 2000 disclosure form that he would follow up with information about his fundraising, but no such documentation is on file with the legislature or the Governor's Office. Wilson said he doesn't remember whether he provided it and said he didn't have to anyway because he did not "personally acquire" contributions.

In the disclosure he filed for his reappointment in 2005, Wilson listed totals he raised for 17 candidates, including Easley. He also wrote that he held a fundraiser for Easley. But other than family members, Wilson does not list the names of any contributors. The form asks for the names of contributors; the law says that appointees are required to disclose contributions.

Some report fully

Three other DOT board members members provided more information.

Cameron W. McRae of Kinston, who owns a string of Bojangles' restaurants, provided a spreadsheet that listed not only contributors, but also everyone he solicited. They contributed $126,000 for Easley in 2000.

G.R. Kindley, the former mayor of Rockingham and a builder, and Paul Waff Jr., an Edenton contractor and developer, also provided lists of contributors. They raised $38,000 and $24,000, respectively.

"I wanted everybody to know who was contributing," Kindley said in an interview. "I think it's important to know."

Waff, who left the board in 2002, said he was appointed after he went to R.V. Owens -- a renowned fundraiser for Easley, state Senate leader Marc Basnight and other Democrats -- to express an interest in a seat.

Easley's appointee for transportation secretary, Lyndo Tippett, a CPA from Fayetteville, was also required to fill out the disclosure form. Like Sewell and Campbell, Tippett wrote "none" where the form asked for the names of those he had collected campaign contributions from. He attached an explanation that said he delivered bundles of contribution checks to the campaign in Raleigh, but he did not collect them from individual contributors. He said in an interview that he did not look to see who wrote the checks or the amounts.

Tippett said his disclosure was a "textbook" example of complying with the law.

Tippett was a member of the Cumberland County steering committee for the campaign, which held two fundraising events. In an interview, Tippett said that he helped organize at least one fundraiser, which Easley attended. He said he had a file on the fundraiser, but he couldn't remember what it contained. He said he didn't know if the file was still available.

"I don't know if it's still there," he said. "The shredder came through town a few months ago and shredded all the files whether it was personal or business. I have no idea at the moment."

The transportation secretary also said it was not his concern what board members reported regarding their fundraising.

"They don't report that to me, so I don't have a problem with that," Tippett said. "Not my issue."

Easley named Sewell and McRae to two of the five newly created at-large seats on the board. Though the three other at-large members were required to have "expertise" in environmental issues, mass transit or government-related finance and accounting, the two seats Sewell and McRae took did not have to meet that requirement. Sewell had to have only "broad knowledge of and experience in transportation issues affecting rural areas." McRae had to be "familiar with the State ports and aviation issues."

The reform law requires Sewell, McRae and the other at-large members to represent the interests of the entire state. But records of an economic development discretionary fund that lawmakers created in 2005 shows that Sewell, McRae and another at-large member, Larry Helms of Union County, have so far directed their allotments -- a total of $5.5 million -- to their home transportation districts. Original article ...

December 29, 2007

NC Highway Patrol to be independently reviewed

The North Carolina State Patrol will be reviewed by in international consulting firm of law enforcement experts according to a new report just published. Another of the state organizations under Governor Mike Easley's watch is having serious operational problems adding to the possibility that state organizations are being poorly managed by those appointed by the Governor and his team of advisors. Recent news headlines have revealed that the NC DOT and DMV have had significant operating problems and morale issues indicating a general trend of poor top-down management while being led by the Governor's appointees and now the Highway Patrol is being added to the list.

A number of significant reports have surfaced in recent months about conduct issues among highway patrol officers while on duty ranging from singling out and harassing young women drivers to having sex in police cars while on duty to not properly completing reports of arrests made. This has brought one of the country's best highway patrol organizations under scrutiny and continues to bring out problems within the Easley management team. Read the latest report about the review of NC's state police team...
News and Observer
December 29, 2007
Dan Kane, Staff Writer

Highway Patrol to get outside advice

A team of law enforcement experts will visit the N.C. Highway Patrol in January to review what has gone wrong in an agency that only last year was found to be one of the nation's top police forces.

Experts with an international consulting firm will consider a baffling string of incidents in the past several months. They range from a trooper accused of abducting Hispanic women and making sexual advances to an internal affairs captain who rear-ended a vehicle and wrongly let a subordinate investigate the wreck. The only apparent pattern in each case is a lack of good judgment.

N.C. Troopers Association leaders as well as Bryan Beatty, the crime control and public safety secretary, say the incidents are isolated cases in a force of more than 1,800 sworn officers. But despite efforts to re-emphasize professionalism and keep a closer eye on troopers, officers continue to get into trouble.

"Frankly, I don't know what's going on in their minds -- some of these troopers and what they are doing," said Sgt. Steve Lockhart, vice president of the association. "It just dumbfounds me." Read more...

October 31, 2007

Botched paving costly to DOT and NC taxpayers - $21 million

The botched paving job on Interstate in North Carolina cost taxpayers at least $21,000,000 dollars and many months of commuting hardships and misery for drivers.

At the tail end of a multi-year project to implement a major expansion of I-40 between Durham and Chapel Hill, NC, inspectors discovered that miles of new concrete pavement was breaking apart. More studies showed that the top layer of concrete had not been installed correctly and was breaking down even before the project was complete.

The project was already late and had cost taxpayers much more than originally planned and a major part of the work had to be torn up and reworked by contractors. The $21,000,000 repair is yet another demonstration of major mis-management and poor planning within North Carolina's Department of Transportation. The extension added another year of misery for weary commuters traveling the road each day.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, Governor Easley's hand picked director for the DOT, Lindo Tippett, has never admitted any responsibility for the blunder and has remained unscathed while lower level state employees were reprimanded and, in some cases, fired for the mistake. The Governor has not seen fit to replace Mr. Tippett and new reports emerge weekly of additional long postponement or cancellation of many needed major projects and continued severe budget shortfalls as taxpayers foot the bill for gross mismanagement and incompetence in the state's operations.

A new article has appeared in the October issue Asphalt Magazine by the manufacturer of heavy equipment that was used to tear up the broken new concrete and gives an interesting view of the magnitude of work required, done only at night, to undo the botched paving work. The contractor has now completed repairs made under a $21 million project. Interestingly enough the state threatened the contractor with significant fines of $10,000 per hour if workers had not moved out of the way of commuters by morning as the project was carried out.

Read more of this fascinating use of technology to repair one of North Carolina DOT's largest blunders to date....

Asphalt Contractor magazine
October 30th, 2007

Failed concrete overlay milled, replaced with HMA

A failing concrete overlay on I-40 near Raleigh-Durham, NC, was determined by the North Carolina DOT to be in need of replacement. The specifications for the project provided that the concrete overlay be removed by cold-milling and replaced with hot mix asphalt (HMA) each night.

The Lane Construction Corporation was awarded the $21-million project for the North Carolina DOT, and has undertaken the milling, while its Rea Contracting LLC affiliate performed the HMA placement on strict nightly schedules.

"We're grinding anywhere from 3 to 3.5 inches of concrete overlay off the Interstate using a Wirtgen W 2200 cold mill with full lane, 12-foot 6-inch drum," says J. Todd Moore, superintendent of the I-40 project for Lane. "We have approximately 21 lineal miles to do, two lanes eastbound, and two lanes westbound, as well as all off ramps and acceleration lanes."

The existing pavement is three lanes wide each way, with the third (inside) lane made of full-depth concrete, recently reconstructed. The concrete overlay being removed had been placed over existing Portland cement concrete and was experiencing spalling at the joints, and patched "blow-out" potholes where heavy traffic was pulling material from the pavement.

"We have about 290,000 square yards of concrete removal required for this project," says Richard Snow, P.E., construction manager for Lane. "Our average pace of 2,200 lineal feet per night of lane works out to about 2,700 square yards. On weekends we do a lot more with our marathon closures. While we still keep one lane open, we are able to keep the two lanes closed 56 hours straight."

"We're finding both conventional and high early-strength concrete in the overlay, but the W 2200 is chewing right through it all," Moore says. "We've used the W 2200 for scarifying concrete as well, but this 3.5-inch-deep cut is more of a test for the machine during the four hours we work each night."

New open-space tooth pattern

A new open-spaced tooth pattern drum design which applies more horsepower per tooth, but with fewer teeth, was being used on this cold mill.

"We're using Wirtgen teeth with 1.25-inch spacing of teeth on the drum, with some 130 teeth on the drum," Moore says. "We're not using up as many teeth on the drum as before, but it's grinding up the concrete more efficiently, and pulling the material off the existing concrete. It's coming up in a little bit larger chunks, and the milling is more efficient. It's leaving a nice pattern on the pavement, and both the state and the paving contractor are well-pleased."

Nonetheless, Moore and his crews have experimented with the right configuration for the drum and machine.

"At one time we slowed the cutter drum down, but had no success with increasing footage, because teeth were breaking off as the drum was going slower, and not keeping up," he says. "We brought it back to its original speed - about 21 feet per minute, and now things are rolling. Because we're limited at night to what can be repaved before rush hour, I'll open up anywhere from 2,000 to 2,600 feet, depending on how tight the concrete is in our four-hour period."

Thus a given night would see Lane begin milling after 8 p.m. and conclude about midnight, with Rea Contracting paving the next four to five hours, with the last hour striping and removal of the traffic control pattern. "We have to be off the Interstate by 6 a.m., with penalties of $10,000 per hour," Moore says.

Superpave replaces concrete

The concrete overlay was being replaced by two lifts of a Superpave mix, PG 76-24 polymer modified binder, with 9.5 D mm aggregate. The first was a 2-inch lift, followed by a 1.5-inch lift on top to bring to grade. The HMA was provided by Rea Contracting out of its Northern Raleigh plant. North Carolina DOT specified a material transfer vehicle be used between truck and paver.

At midnight, the milling and paving supervisors meet to run numbers as to how far the milling can go that night, so both crews can finish their jobs that morning.

"We see how far we will mill, so we can finish milling and Rea can finish paving, all at a happy medium," Moore says. "We also have to figure in cutter tooth changes, and that will slow us down a little. Right now we do a complete cutter tooth change every 1,000 to 1,100 feet; the more efficiently we can change the 130 milling teeth, and install new ones, the faster we can get back to work."

Lane's complete tooth change using Wirtgen quick-change toolholders will take about 15 minutes.

Hydro-sweeping and infrared drying

Following the W 2200, a standard street sweeper was cleaning the milled surface, followed by a contract hydrovacuum truck which was water-blasting any remaining material off the surface, and vacuuming it into a tank for disposal.

"We're picking up the heavy stuff with the sweeper, and then we have a 36,000 psi-capable hydrovac truck clean the pavement with sprayed water, and vacuum up the water and any fines," Moore says. "This surface has to be totally spotless before we apply our tack coat."

And because the surface has to be bone-dry before the tack coat - and not much time in which to dry - Lane was using an infrared heater truck with generator to dry the milled surface prior to tack and overlay. "The truck has two 195-mph blower fans which blow off any standing water, and heating coils which evaporate any remaining moisture."

Lane's W 2200 with full-lane width drum was giving Lane the power and reliability it needed to keep this project on schedule and in budget.

Moore was finding that the new Eco-Cutter drum from Wirtgen was keeping the job moving along with accrued savings from use of fewer teeth. "This is the first application for which we've used this full-lane drum," Moore says. "This application is nice for the full-lane drum because it's one lane, one way, without having to back up and go. And the drum has a coarser pattern to it. My feeling is, 'the coarser, the better', because the asphalt can hold tighter in the voids than it can in a smoother surface."

Fewer cutting tools on the new Eco-Drum means less resistance to cutting and a higher rate of advance, with lower tool costs per milled cubic yard. These drums, with smaller number of point attack tools, make sure work proceeds more quickly and cost-efficiently.

Despite the fact that the standard-width Eco-Cutter may equipped with only 114 cutting tools, its performance with 1-inch tool spacing is roughly 20 percent higher than that of a standard milling drum with 0.6-inch tool spacing when working in hard asphalt and at a milling depth of 8 inches.

About the Wirtgen W 2200

The W 2200 is designed for big, continuous cold milling projects in which a pavement must be removed mile after mile. The high-horsepower, deep-cutting, high-production

W 2200 lets users mill large projects in a short period of time.

The W 2200 has a standard cutting width of 87 inches, four large D-6 crawler tracks, a milling drum with a high-efficiency mechanical belt drive, and an efficient front-loading system. It has a mechanically driven milling drum and two-part slewing front-end discharge conveyor of variable height. The machine travels on crawler tracks. Robust welded construction with mounts for the individual function modules and superstructures. The tanks for diesel fuel and water are integrated into the chassis. The hydraulic fluid tank forms a separate unit.

Its maximum cutting depth is 14 inches and with the optional Flexible Cutter System, can cut up to 14 feet 1 inch wide. The W 2200 has an operating weight of 96,342 pounds with a 900-hp power plant.

The walk-through operator's platform with access ladder on each side is located in the middle part of the machine. It is equipped with two identical control consoles which can be pivoted and vertically adjusted. Both control consoles and the right-hand driver's seat can be displaced outwards beyond the edge of the machine. The steering and feed control operate with electrical proportional action and are controlled via joysticks.

The Wirtgen information and diagnosis system - called the WIDIS 32 - provides the driver with comprehensive up-to-the-minute information on the current status of the engine and hydraulic system and generates visual and acoustic alarms when necessary. The crawler tracks are suspended from the chassis via round cylinders, the height of which can be adjusted hydraulically. The height of each crawler track can be adjusted individually. The height required for the milling depth is adjusted via the two cylinders at the front, while the rear crawler tracks form a full floating axle. The large lift ensures considerable ground clearance simplifying such difficult maneuvers as reversing or loading and unloading the machine from a low-bed truck.

October 10, 2007

Sign of the times - re-elect nobody

Running for elected offices these days requires candidates to deal with a lot of public hostility toward government and elected officials. This sign was placed along area roads along with those of candidates running for Cary and Wake County offices in October 2oo7 and encouraged voters to not re-elect anyone already on the Cary council.

This sentiment is becoming a factor anyone running for public office must consider and may bring significant change in local, state and national government, even for some that have worked hard to serve the public faithfully. Now, more than ever, candidates need to listen to constituents and tune campaigns to provide a choice voters will believe and make at the polls.

Much of the public is so unhappy with all levels of government and how things have been handled by the Bush administration that the handwriting is on the wall for anyone in office that has supported the current administration. The possibility for a tidal wave of change in government is looming and the elections in 2007 and 2008 will bring a complete change in who leads and makes decisions for the foreseeable future in local and national government organizations.

September 29, 2007

Report of NC DOT incompetence hidden from public

An alarming new report provides more evidence that NC's DOT organization is poorly suited to meet transportation needs of the state and reveals the organization is withholding a major consultant review of the DOT paid for by taxpayer dollars. The DOT continues to reflect the incompetence of director Lindo Tippett, appointed by Governor Easley, and the inability of DOT staff in managing thousands of state employees responsible for maintaining NC's road infrastructure and planning what is needed to handle the unprecedented growth in state traffic.

It is clear that the time has come to demand that the DOT director step down and a replacement be appointed that has the knowledge and ability to manage the organization and facilitate planning and funding of what is needed to build and maintain an adequate transportation infrastructure that will allow the state to be competitive.

Results from a comprehensive survey of some 13,000 thousand DOT workers and interviews with at least two dozen key legislators, state officials, business executives and local transportation officials, along with information from follow up discussions, strongly suggests a lack of understanding within the organization about the mission of the DOT and tells of poor use of funds and inadequate project plans and schedules. Mark L. Foster, the department's chief financial officer, confirmed that "DOT employees complained that they lack a shared understanding of their mission." He briefly described other criticisms: "Road projects cost too much time and money. It's hard to figure out who is responsible for any DOT project."

Read the report and learn more about the lack of a "unified vision", deception and confusion in the state's DOT organization...
News and Observer
September 29, 2007
Bruce Siceloff, Staff Writer

Consultants review of DOT under wraps
McKinsey & Co. was asked to prepare a sweeping evaluation of the transportation agency, but DOT and the company are keeping a tight rein on the information

State Department of Transportation officials are paying a consultant $2.5 million to help make the agency more responsive, accountable and transparent.

They are keeping much of the work secret.

Attorneys for DOT and McKinsey & Co., an international management consultant hired in April to evaluate DOT, blacked out several pages of contract details and stamped other pages "CONFIDENTIAL" before DOT released them to The News & Observer.

Other contract documents indicate that McKinsey initially was asked for a candid, sweeping assessment of DOT's "strategic direction and organizational structure." It was expected to file reports in May and June.

DOT has declined to release a word of its consultant's findings. The April 11 contract includes an unusual pledge that DOT will seek McKinsey's permission before making public references to McKinsey or releasing any "reports, analyses or other such materials" it receives from McKinsey.

DOT officials now say they did not request or receive any written reports from McKinsey, whose contract ends in mid-October. Read more...