GOP legislators outrank Democrats in poll

February 28, 2011 

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CORRECTION

The headline on the Dome column that appeared Monday on Page 3B was incorrect. The results of the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, making the difference between the parties statistically insignificant. ******

Although the public is not crazy about legislators in general, they seem to be giving the new Republican majority a bit of a honeymoon.

Thirty-six percent of voters have a favorable view of the GOP majority, and 38 percent had an unfavorable view, with 27 percent not sure, according to a survey by Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based Democratic-leaning firm.

That may not sound like much. But that was better than the Democrats. Of those surveyed, 35 percent had a favorable view of the Democrats, 41 percent had an unfavorable view and 24 percent were not certain.

Asked whm they would vote for if the election were held today, 46 percent said Republican, 42 percent said Democrat and 12 percent were undecided.

More people said they had more faith in the legislative Republicans (44 percent) ability to lead the state than Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue (37 percent).

Asked who was doing more to bring jobs to North Carolina, voters said Perdue (34 percent) rather than legislative Republicans (31 percent).

The survey of 650 North Carolina voters was conducted Feb. 16-21 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Trooper's gun goes off

A high-ranking trooper accidentally fired her service weapon last week at the headquarters of the N.C. Highway Patrol in downtown Raleigh.

Maj. Patricia Poole, who commands the patrol's administrative services staff, was inside a bathroom in the Archdale Building when her .357 caliber Smith & Wesson discharged.

No one was injured.

"Stuff happens," said Sgt. Jeff Gordon, the patrol's spokesman. "When you go to the restroom, you have about 10 pounds you have to take down to do ... whatever."

Gordon said he did not hear the shot and he didn't know where the wayward bullet ended up.

Civilians taking firearms training are typically coached, as a precaution against accidental discharge, not to have a round chambered in the weapon unless they intend to fire.

However, troopers and other law enforcement officers are trained to have a round chambered even when their weapon is holstered, so they are ready to draw and fire immediately when a life-threatening situation occurs.

Gordon said that standard of readiness applies whenever the trooper is on duty, even if he or she is only pushing paperwork at headquarters.

"There are workplace shootings all the time," Gordon explained.

As is standard protocol in cases where a service weapon is discharged accidentally, there will be an internal inquiry.

State owes for Medicaid

The state must repay the federal government $1.3 million for Medicaid money misspent on ineligible in-home care services.

A federal audit of claims from Shipman Family Home Care's Greensboro office found that 56 of 100 sample items did not meet state and federal requirements for Medicaid reimbursement.

The audit looked at claims from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2007, that were paid by the state and federal insurance program for the poor and disabled.

The deficiencies occurred because the state does not have enough resources to properly monitor Shipman's personal care program, the report said.

In its formal response, Shipman said the findings did not represent its overall compliance efforts.

In his written response, state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler said the state has stepped up monitoring of home care agencies in general and has a state-approved plan to direct the services to people who are most in need.

The federal government has not approved the changes.

The office is also auditing services at randomly selected Shipman sites, Cansler wrote.

Compiled by staff writers Rob Christensen, Michael Biesecker and Lynn Bonner

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

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