Thumbs up and down

Dec. 01, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

THUMBS DOWN: McCrory and access to public records

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory has been setting new standards as the kind of politician who campaigned one way, but governs altogether differently. The latest example of his promise-one-thing-but-deliver-another treatment of the governor’s office comes as the result of his staff’s strange interpretation of North Carolina’s public records law.

While past administrations have complied with requests for public records in a timely manner, and at little or no charge, McCrory’s staff has been assessing fees of hundreds of dollars, in some cases, to produce digital copies of things such as email messages written by his staff.

State law says government documents are the property of the people of North Carolina, and anyone requesting copies should get them “as promptly as possible” at a “free or minimal cost.” The law stipulates a governmental body can levy a charge for certain time-consuming requests, but the charges aren’t supposed to be excessive, or at least in line with the cost of the paper on which copies are made.

But McCrory’s office has begun to charge some media outlets for records requests that require more than 30 minutes of employee time to process, and at exorbitant fees for those outlets.

As John Drescher, the executive editor of The News & Observer of Raleigh said, “This is clearly an attempt to make public information more difficult to get. These are records that already exist and that the public has paid for.”

McCrory has been roundly criticized for his work as governor so far in many circles, particularly in the media. He’s not helping himself with this latest example of bad practice.

THUMBS DOWN: The cost of healthcare

The Affordable Care Act’s impact on the cost of health care is becoming clear, but listening to President Obama talk about Obamacare, you’d never know it.

The president stated two weeks ago that the cost of health care is growing at its slowest rate since the Kennedy presidency, and this past week, the White House published a report saying Obamacare was contributing to the slowing growth in health care prices and spending.

The truth is quite different. National spending on health care will set another record in 2013, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal this week — projected at $2.9 trillion, a full 25 percent higher than pre-recession levels. Spending per capita and as a percentage of gross domestic product are also expected to hit record highs.

It’s going to get worse. We’ve all heard a multitude of stories about premiums skyrocketing as the result of Obamacare, but the latest projections from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show spiraling costs will continue to hit many American families.

In 2008, then-candidate Obama said his health care reform plan would save the average American family $2,500 in health care premiums. It’s looking more and more as though the opposite is happening.

THUMBS UP: Shopping local

“Black Friday” has come and gone, but the traditional heavy Christmas shopping season has several more weeks.

So here’s a “thumbs up” for keeping it local.

The ease of “going out of town” and hitting large shopping malls in Cary or Raleigh, or larger-market shopping areas in other places close to Lee County is undeniable. But so is the importance of shopping local — and shopping local first.

Every dollar you spend at a local business creates “turns over” multiple times to benefit the local economy. That doesn’t happen when you spend those dollars outside our area.

And every dollar you spend at a local business helps that business, in turn, support local causes, events, organizations and charities. It’s local businesses which support our community the most. It’s local businesses which sponsor youth soccer and baseball leagues and teams.

Local businesses can’t support local communities without local support, so when you’re shopping — shop local first.