SCUTTLEBUTT: Developments across the Triad and beyond, compiled by Jordan Green

by YES! Weekly staff

Gloria Craven, on the big stage

Among the speakers at the Democratic National Con vention in Denver last week was Gloria Craven, a laid off Pillowtex worker from Eden. On Aug. 26, she told of how the textile plant shut down in 2003 and how health problems made it difficult to go back to work de spite getting retrained, as downsized industrial workers were told to do. “I used trade assistance to go back to school myself and graduated in 2006,” Craven said. “But I had some medical problems. Turns out walking on a concrete floor for thirty years was bad for my health. My husband and I worked hard all our lives. Now, we’re struggling to get by without health insurance and just a little retirement money.” Craven indicated she had bought that rarest of commodities from the Democratic nominee: hope. “Barack Obama has made me believe again,” she said. “I get the feeling he cares about people like me and will create an America where things like hard work and loyalty mean something again.” — JG

Convention and contravention

While the Democrats exult in the afterglow of a con vention ripe with revitalization, historicity and goodwill on the 45 th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, the Republican Party suffered the bad fortune of timing its convention in St. Paul, Minn. just after the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, with Hurricane Gustav bearing down on New Orleans. The Republican National Convention announced that all activities beyond official business would be cancelled on Monday, the first day. The campaign of presumptive nominee John McCain chartered a DC-9 airplane to transport Gulf Coast states delegates wishing to return home. “This is not a time for politics or celebration; it is a time for us to come together as Americans and assist the residents of the Gulf states,” campaign manager Rick Davis said. He added, “At some point between Monday and Thursday evening, we will convene once again to complete the activities needed to qualify Senator McCain and Governor Palin for the ballot in all 50 states.” — JG

You-get-what-you-pay for category

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste named Rep. Howard Coble, the Republican who rep resents North Carolina’s 6 th District as a “Taxpayer Hero” for scoring 89 percent on its 2007 congressional ratings. The lobbying group lauded Coble in an Aug. 28 an nouncement for supporting several amendments that “would have removed tens of millions dollars in pork barrel projects from spending bills.” Republicans tended

to rate better, with Rep. Virginia Foxx of the 5 th District receiving a 71 percent. Democratic Reps. Mel Watt and Brad Miller, respectively representing the 12 th and 13 th districts, both received 3 percent. North Carolina’s junior senator, Richard Burr, was one of only three members of the Senate to receive a 97 percent. The state’s senior senator Elizabeth Dole scored 73 percent. The council named as one victory “the defeat of the effort to expand the State Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) by $35 billion and extend it to middle-class families.” — JG

Unequal gains from economic growth

The economic expansion that ended in 2007 failed to benefit most North Carolina families. That’s the conclusion of a new study released by the left-leaning NC Justice Center on Aug. 26. Adjusting for inflation, the authors of “Running in Reverse” found that the average household saw no change in income, while poverty rates rose along with the number of North Carolinians without health insurance. “Despite solid economic growth in recent years, most North Carolina households have seen their standard of living stagnate,” wrote research associate John Quinterno. “The benefits of the growth have been concentrated among a handful of households, resulting in a troubling rise in income inequality.” The study cited new data from the Current Population Survey showing that 17.2 percent of North Carolinians lacked health insurance in 2006-2007, compared to 15.1 percent in 2004-2005. The median household income in Forsyth County stands at $45,636, and $45,922 in Guilford. The family poverty rate jumped from 7.9 percent to 10.9 percent from 2000 to 2007 in Forsyth and from 7.6 percent to 10.8 percent in Guilford. Whether by coincidence or not, the study and the economic difficulty falls on an election year in which Democrats are expected to post significant gains. “Economic growth, though necessary, is insufficient to lift individuals out of poverty,” Quinterno said. “Smart public policies such as an adequate minimum wage, a robust Earned Income Tax Credit and strong social insurance systems are needed to help people move out of, and avoid failing into, poverty.” — JG

Duke Energy funds avionics programs

Duke Energy granted $243,958 to GTCC, the com munity college announced on Aug. 28, to establish an avionics-training program at a new facility on Radar Road near Piedmont Triad International Airport. Ed Frye, GTCC’s chair for transportation, said that by fall of 2009 the program would be training 40 to 50 specialists “in response to the industry’s need for production associates skilled in installation, troubleshooting and repair of communications and navigation (systems).” The avionics program includes “equipment for flight instrumentation, navigation, communication, weather, terrain, traffic and surveillance.” Frye said the program would help train students to work at a host of compa nies located at Piedmont Triad International Airport, including HondaJet, Timco Aviation Services, Cessna Citation Service Center, Atlantic Aero, Landmark Avia tions and Tradewinds Airlines, along with Pace Airlines at Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem. — JG

GTA adds new route

Labor Day marked the first day of service for the Greensboro Transit Authority’s new Route 15, serv ing the city’s northeast quadrant with stops along Yanceyville Street, Brightwood School Road and Lees Chapel Road. The new route is designed to relieve crowding to bus riders who previously used the Summit Avenue route to get to the Cone Boulevard Wal-Mart and the Guilford County Department of Social Services. Other stops on the new route include the Greensboro Central Library, the Children’s Museum, and Rankin and Brightwood elementary schools. — JG