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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Blue Cross of N.C.: Pigs at the Trough 

Fact: The NC Department of Correction's spending on hospital care for prison inmates has been out of control over the past decade: it shot up from $17.5 million in 1999 to $55.8 million in 2009.

Fact: Last Aug. 5, the NC General Assembly passed its budget bill, which included a provision mandating that inmates treated at hospitals would be billed at the same rates as the State Health Plan for state workers and teachers, a reform that would have saved the state millions on hospital treatment for inmates.

Disgusting Fact: On the day that Gov. Perdue signed the budget law, state Democratic Sen. Tony Rand inserted language in a legislative housekeeping bill that effectively gutted the money-saving provision.

Really Disgusting Fact: It comes to light in an investigation by the Raleigh News & Observer (published today) that Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. was sending secret e-mails to Sen. Rand containing the language that he subsequently inserted to help that monopolistic health-insurance provider (so to speak) continue to rip off the state's taxpayers.

These are the same corporate tools who have gotten hysterical over the threat of actual health-insurance reform, like the "public option," and who have used the U.S. mails to induce their naive subscribers to put pressure on Sen. Kay Hagan and others not to do anything in Congress that might cause their cash cow to give less milk.

Non-profit corporation ... there's an oxymoron!

Tony Rand is now gone from the State Senate, pursued closely by the bears of prosecutorial retribution. Might his collusion with BC/BS of NC be added to the list of offenses, or was that perfectly legal in the way that only politicians could devise unethical string-pulling to be "perfectly legal"?

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Future of the N.C. Senate 

The two most powerful Democrats in the N.C. Senate already departing the premises ... Tony Rand and David Hoyle. Speculation now burning bright about arguably the most powerful Democrat in all of state government, Marc Basnight, president pro tempore of that chamber.

Lengthy article in today's Washington Daily News RE Basnight's health and the prospects of his running again next year.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Exit Rand 

Tony Rand, Democratic Majority Leader in the NC Senate and arguably the second most powerful member of that body, is resigning from the Senate to take an appointment as chairman of the state parole board.

Politicians (along with Mother Nature) hate a vacuum, and Rand's departure will leave a big one.

There's an interesting profile of Rand's career in today's N&O.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Conspicuous Consumption 

In 2002 the state of North Carolina was experiencing a major drought, "the worst in a century." Gov. Easley first solemnly requested that citizens "turn off the faucet when brushing their teeth," then issued a directive that local water systems and businesses "take quick steps to reduce their water use by 20 percent." Before the crisis began to end, Easley directed all state agencies to stop "nonessential" water use, including grass watering, saying the state should "lead by example."

While all this was going on, the N&O reveals this morning, the governor or the governor's office (you know how vague these lines of responsibility become!) was also pulling strings to make sure that The Guv's private golf club in Chatham County got access to some 6 million gallons of water to keep those golf greens nice and vibrant.

The details of how those strings were pulled, you can read for yourself, but it's very clear that the comfort of the 300 rich members of the Old Chatham Golf Club (monthly membership dues: something over $500) was a good deal more important than the drought. Let the little people conserve water! The good ole boys need the green. (It's fairly edifying, too, to read the Old Chatham Golf Club website, especially the page devoted to the exclusivity of the membership, which included, only incidentally, NC Senate Honcho Tony Rand.)

Wanna know the icing on this particular Devil's Food cake? Easley got his membership FREE, and he didn't bother to report that benefit on his financial disclosure forms.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Closed Government Is Bad, No Matter Who's Slamming the Door 

Open government in Raleigh? Not so much. Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat, barred an N&O reporter from a legislative meeting of budget negotiators from the NC Senate & House with Gov. Easley's chief budget advisor and others.

Rand's explanation for barring the reporter was weak. Lame. An embarrassment.

It's buffalo dust like this that gives the Democratic majority in Raleigh a bad reputation. Deservedly so.

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