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Archive for March, 2009

WWAY Goes to Washington: Who represents NC in Congress

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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What goes on in our nation’s capital has a big impact on our lives. But lately, decisions from Washington, DC, have been of particular importance as we deal with a huge financial crisis.

So how do you know your voice in being heard?

Last week, NewsChannel 3 traveled to Washington and talked with the two men and one woman who represent us in Congress. In the first part of this special report, we find out who they are and how they serve us.

They are your direct link to the halls of power in the nation’s capital; the three people elected to serve you in Congress. Mike McIntyre, a democrat from Lumberton, represents southeastern North Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District. “I treasure the opportunity, because southeastern North Carolina is home,” said McIntyre. “It always has been, and my family’s been there now for about 200 years.”

First elected in 1996, McIntyre is in his seventh term in Congress; always racing to keep up with the frenetic pace required to serve what he calls a very diverse district. “You not only are up here working on issues that directly affect your constituents for them, but then you’ve got to be that spokesman for your district to other districts and, indeed in many cases, of course, to other states as issues go to the floor of the House,” McIntyre said.

It is a lengthy process that gets those issues to the floor of the House or Senate, where any number of procedural or substantive maneuvers can change a bill or even kill it. That is why they say laws, like sausage, are things you should never see made. Richard Burr, Senator of North Carolina added, “The average person who watches Congress and what members do, and how the process works would say, ‘I’d never do it that way.'”

Burr knows something about doing things the way others would not. Just look at his car, a 1974 Volkswagen Thing, without a roof. It has become a popular sight on Capitol Hill during his five terms in the House and his first in the Senate. “It allows me something non-traditional in a very traditional institution in a very traditional town.”

But Burr said the tradition of Congress, and specifically of the Senate, as slow as it may go, is the right way to go when making laws. “At the end of the day, our founding fathers believed it should be difficult in the Senate for legislation to become law.”

The tradition is evident in his stately office, where Burr spends time with staff, on the phone, and visiting with constituents. Senator Burr said, “Life in the United State Senate is like Groundhog Day the movie. It’s the same day in and day out: different people; a different committee; a different group that you speak to; but the routine is pretty much the same.”

While Congressman McIntyre and Senator Burr enjoy relative comfort in their offices, life has been much different so far on Capitol Hill for freshman Senator Kay Hagan; tucked away in temporary offices in the basement of a Senate office building.

“In one office I have six people. And in my office, it’s a nice office, but there are no windows, and there’s people right behind me having meetings in the hall day in and day out. It’s very congested,” Senator Hagan said.

Hagan and her staff are not letting that congestion slow them down. Like her Tar Heel State colleagues, the democrat’s schedule is jam packed; and then there’s learning the ropes of her new job. “I served for ten years in the State Senate. I’ve been here for about seven-and-a-half weeks. It’s entirely different, totally different.”

Hagan said presiding over the Senate from time to time has helped her learn the rules and the names and faces of her Senate colleagues. Once she gets into a new office, she plans to welcome more constituents during an open house each Wednesday morning she calls, Carolina Coffees.
“Anybody in Washington that’s here on The Hill: an advocacy group or whatever reason they’re coming to town, I would like for them to stop by, have a cup of coffee; talk to me about their issues,” added Hagan.

Senator Hagan hopes her chance to pick office space will come up this week. When it does, she will have eight hours to choose, but it will be probably another month before she moves in and can start her Carolina Coffees.

Now that we have met our representatives, Wednesday we get down to business. We will hear from Hagan, Burr and McIntyre about the federal economic stimulus plan and what they are doing to make sure money gets where it is needed.

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videoLast week, NewsChannel 3 traveled to Washington and talked with the two men and one woman who represent us in Congress. In the first part of this special report, we find out who they are and how they serve us.

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NC plant begins laying off workers in Hickory

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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CHARLOTTE — Workers at a North Carolina cable systems plant are being laid off, as part of a plan announced earlier this year.

The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that Corning Cable Systems plant in Hickory is eliminating about 200 jobs as it closes its optical assembly plant.

Company spokesman Dan Collins said Monday the Hickory plant should be closed by the end of the year. But he said most of the layoffs will occur in the first quarter.

Collins would not say how many people are working at the plant, but he said the cuts represent up to 15 percent of the company’s approximately 1,400 workers in the Hickory area. He said some workers can get other positions in the area.

Collins says the cuts come because of declines in the market.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Workers at a North Carolina cable systems plant are being laid off, as part of a plan announced earlier this year.

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Obama rejects SC gov’s bid to use stimulus on debt

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Obama administration has rejected South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s request to use $700 million in federal stimulus cash to pay down state debt.

White House Budget Director Peter Orszag (OHR’-zag) said in a letter to the Republican on Monday that the federal stimulus law doesn’t allow President Barack Obama to make an exception for that cash. Sanford sought a waiver last week, asking to pay off debt rather than use the money to create jobs and avoid deep program cuts.

Sanford has criticized the $787 billion stimulus plan, saying it will lead to higher taxes and debt. And he is criticizing Obama and Democrats for airing an ad in the state that says the governor is playing politics with the stimulus cash instead of using it for health care, jobs and schools.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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The Obama administration has rejected South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s request to use $700 million in federal stimulus cash to pay down state debt.

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New traffic enforcement initiative will concentrate on various violations

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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The kick-off for a new traffic enforcement program is taking place Tuesday afternoon. The new initiative is called Wilmington AWARE, or Area-Wide Aggressive Road Enforcement.

The Wilmington Police Department, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and North Carolina Highway Patrol will be involved.

Each quarter of the year will have a specific theme for enforcement. Officers will continue to enforce all violations, but this will give officers an opportunity to also concentrate on a specific violation, such as aggressive driving and driver and passenger safety.

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The kick-off for a new traffic enforcement program is taking place Tuesday afternoon. The new initiative is called Wilmington AWARE, or Area-Wide Aggressive Road Enforcement.

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Undercover drug deal leads to car chase, suspect caught

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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What started as a drug buy in a parking lot, ended with the suspect crashing his car into a police vehicle in a Wilmington neighborhood.

New Hanover County Vice and Narcotics detectives were conducting an undercover drug deal in the parking lot of Rose’s at Carolina Beach Road and Shipyard Boulevard. They say the man on the other end of the deal was 18-year-old Justice Price; a suspect they had been tracking for several months.

Price drove off and led law enforcement on a chase through nearby residential neighborhoods. While fleeing, he allegedly threw bags of heroin out of the car on Jefferson Street in the Sunset Park area. A neighbor kept an eye on the bags until detectives could get there.

“There were 20 bags of heroin and approximately two bundles of heroin, there was also digital scales found on him as well,” said Captain David Ciamillo of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities said Price intentionally crashed twice into a police van, before ending up at the corner of North Carolina Avenue and Washington Street. That is where he was arrested, treated by EMS, and taken to the hospital.

Captain Ciamillo added, “We also have felony warrants on him from purchases made back in October.”

Detectives estimated that top speeds ranged around 45 miles per hour as they criss-crossed residential streets.

Price faces numerous drug counts as well as charges related to the pursuit.

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videoAn undercover drug deal Monday night ended with detectives getting their man, but not without the suspect putting up a fight.

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Associated poll

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