Under the Dome

Perdue favors school diversity, gingerly

March 26, 2010 

Gov. Bev Perdue has weighed in on the Wake County diversity debate - sort of.

Asked this week about the Wake County school board's decision to end busing for socioeconomic reasons in favor of neighborhood schools, Perdue seemed to prefer the old system.

"I am speaking as a mother and a grandmother," Perdue said after a news conference at Rex Healthcare to announce a Medicaid anti-fraud effort.

"I really do believe that kids do better in a situation that prepares them for real life," Perdue said. "And real life has children who are from all economic levels."

Perdue said students should learn to live with people of other backgrounds. Then she added: "I hate busing. I know that is hard for people."

"The bottom line for me as governor ... is to be sure that every kid in every neighborhood in North Carolina, regardless of where they live, is actually able to go to a school that works and can help them be career- or college-ready."

The governor has no direct influence over local school assignment policies.

Thanking, chastising Etheridge

The Democratic National Committee wants to thank U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge for his health care vote, and it is airing an ad in his district to say so.

The 30-second ad, nearly identical to those created for other previously undecided Democrats around the country, shows Etheridge's photograph interspersed with happy images of a family eating dinner and patients talking with health providers.

"For decades the insurance industry has called the shots, putting profits before people," the ad's narrator says. "But with Bob Etheridge's help, that's changing."

The ad ends: "Congressman Etheridge, thank you."

DNC spokeswoman Joanne Peters says the ad is running on television, but she did not have details on its cost and frequency.

The National Republican Campaign Committee, though, says the DNC is spending $1 million on the collection of ads.

Spokesman Ken Spain sent out a release saying it wanted to thank the DNC for reminding voters that Etheridge had "rubber-stamped" the health bill.

"Bob Etheridge and his Democrat colleagues have continued to ignore the obvious fact that Americans do not want their radical health care agenda," Spain said in a statement.

It ain't over: The Democratic health care overhaul bill became law, and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr joined his GOP colleagues in not only calling for repeal, but also in obstructing other business on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile Republicans are urging a state bill or a possible lawsuit to try to undermine the health care law. Anyone who thought the debate on health care is over was wrong.

Question time: N.C. Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer continued his rhetorical assaults against Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue this week, pouncing on her campaign's admission that some contributions looked suspicious. Fetzer also promoted a billboard that urges Perdue to answer a series of accusatory, if not well-researched, questions.

The roads are always longer: More than half of state residents say they believe their part of the state is shortchanged on road money. If everyone gets cheated, who is getting the roads?

In other news: The former longtime lobbyist for the N.C. Home Builders Association says armed conflict may be necessary if voters don't go Republican in the fall. ... Perdue announced a deal with IBM to scour the state's Medicaid program for fraud, waste and abuse. ... The state lottery is reminding ticket sellers that video poker machines are illegal.

By staff writers Rob Christensen and Benjamin Niolet, and Washington correspondent Barbara Barrett

rob.christensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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