The N&O’s former cartoonist just couldn’t sit out this legislative session, not with all the fun things to draw. He’ll be offering his view every Sunday in The N&O during the session. Here’s this week’s cartoon (click it to enlarge it).
The two surgeons, Lance E. Landvater and Robert B. Peyton, are the latest Wake County doctors to change affiliations, moves that are being driven by both competition between and Rex and federal health care reform.
The two were part of an 8-surgeon team at Carolina Cardiovascular Surgical Associates. The practice is based at WakeMed but the group's surgeons have privileges to operate at both hospitals.
Landvater and Peyton will be co-medical directors of the new Rex practice, to be called Rex Cardiothoracic Surgery Specialists.
It sounds like something ethics reformers might raise questions about: Gov. Bev Perdue is headlining a fundraising reception next week that will be hosted by a number of big-time lobbyists.
The purpose of the reception is to raise money for a nonprofit group that is also backing one of Perdue's pet issues.
UPDATE: Since this post was published, Gov. Bev Perdue has decided not to attend the event. See a related story about that.
The story published May 9 about Gov. Bev Perdue's government reform efforts and the upcoming legislative session were based on interviews and on reviewing a range of documents.
Here is a breakdown on how the behind-the-scenes policy decisions unfolded within the Perdue administration, along with links to some of the key documents.
In North Carolina, among the ideas under consideration as part of ethics and campaign finance reforms is to limit what state contractors can give to candidates' campaigns, thus cutting down on the notion that a company has to "pay" in order to get state business.
But is there a loophole?
In Hawaii, state legislators approved a law five years ago aimed at curbing pay-to-play politics. But a recent report in the Honolulu Advertiser shows that donors linked to state and city contractors are again pouring big money into major political races.
Hawaii state law bars contractors from contributing directly to candidates running for state or county offices. But these donations are allowed because they were made by subcontractors, company employees and their relatives, the newspaper reported.
It says: "An Advertiser study of more than 2,300 contributions made during the second half of 2009 found that employees of government contractors, their subcontractors and relatives of company officials gave more than $300,000 to Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie."
In the bill under consideration in North Carolina, campaign donations would be prohibited from any "entity affiliated with a vendor." That might seem to cover subcontractors. But it doesn't.
The proposed law defines such entities as officers, directors, partners and managers of the companies doing business with the state. Not employees, or subcontractors.
UPDATE #1: One of the sponsors of the N.C. bill, the Republican leader in the House, Paul Stam, said he sees no reason to update the bill based on what has happened elsewhere.
"I wouldn't call that a loophole," Stam wrote in an e-mail message. "That connection is too attenuated to impact the real issue — which is the prevention of corruption. If you wanted to include employees of subs why not subs of subs and their cousins as well. Actual quid pro quo pay to play is a crime now and remains so whether it is offered by subs or in-laws or a man in cloak and dagger suit."
UPDATE #2: Policy officials who work for Purdue apparently also identified the employee gap as a potential issue. In a Dec. 21 memo obtained by The News & Observer, her policy office questioned that part of the pay-to-play bill.
"The current bill needs more fleshed out definition of 'entity affiliated with a vendor' -- i.e. question about managerial capacity and who that would apply to," the memo says.
— J. Andrew Curliss
President Barack Obama outlines the health care reform bill he would sign during a town hall meeting at Broughton High ... more
Reform has been in the news, both foreign and domestic.
N.C. Transportation Secretary Gene Conti sat down with The N&O's editorial board yesterday to answer questions about how things are going, given that his department in the past has come under fire fairly frequently. When Gov. Beverly Perdue took over the reins of the state, she decided to turn the transportation process on its head, changing the Board of Transportation from a decision-making body to an advisory body. Conti pretty much holds all the power now.
How's that reform going and how hard is it to change the culture there? For starters, Conti said that his department will have a goal of accomplishing 80 percent to 90 percent of what it says it will do, as opposed to the 50 percent success record it has now.
Here are two audio clips of Conti answering those questions: