by Jordan Green


Items from across the Triad and Beyond, compiled by Jordan Green

Health care costs rise five times faster than wages of NC workers

Families USA, a consumer health organization, reported that family healthcare premiums rose five times faster than wages for North Carolina workers from 2000 to 2009 in a study earlier this month. During the 10-year period, family healthcare premiums rose by 96.8 percent, while earnings rose by only 18.4 percent for the state’s workers. The study tracked the cost of family healthcare coverage provided by North Carolina employers and found that from 2000 to 2009, the median cost of health coverage rose from $6,649 to $13,083. During the same time period, the median income of the state’s workers increased from $23,080 to $27,330, or18.4 percent. The report states that despite the sharp increase inhealthcare insurance costs, the quality of the coverage offered byinsurers has declined dramatically. Employees now receivefewer benefits and pay higher deductibles, co-payments, andco-insurance. Some employers have cut costs by placing limits onemployee eligibility for coverage or by eliminating coverage forspouses and children of employees. — KTB

Mayor heads campaign finance pack

Greensboro Mayor Yvonne Johnson leadsthe pack of municipal election candidates in cash on hand according torecent mid-year semi-annual reports filed with the Guilford CountyBoard of Elections. The mayor holds $16,343, outpacing at-large candidate Nancy Vaughan, who holds $9,710. In receipts, however, the mayor takes a back seat to District 5 incumbent Trudy Wade, whohas raised $16,575 since the election cycle began. Much of Wade’s warchest has been raised from individuals employed in the real estate anddevelopment professions. Johnson has raised $16,310. Wade has spent$14,850 of her reserve since January 2008 with Republican politicalconsultant Bill Burckley, leaving $5,674. Her opponent, Art Boyett, has not raised significant sums. Johnson’s opponent, Bill Knight hasraised only $2,500, all of which he spent on Burckley’s consultingservices. Johnson has received contributions from a wide array ofsources, including fellow city council candidates Dianne Bellamy-Small,

Marikay Abuzuaiter and Jim Kee; state lawmakers Katie Dorsett and Alma Adams; real estate lawyers Henry Isaacson and Marc Isaacson; developers Roy Carroll II and Edmund Koury; and Klan- Nazi shooting survivor Signe Waller Foxworth. Goinginto her reelection campaign, Johnson’s total receipts are triple whatshe raised at this stage of her inaugural bid for mayor in 2007.Johnson has spent $11,600, mostly for her May campaign kickoff,including on buttons and stickers, entertainment, caps, T-shirts,signs, photos, postage, a newspaper advertisement in the CarolinaPeacemaker, website development and invitations. — JG

Baseball committee member requests list of ballpark investors Howard Hudson, amember of the Citizens Baseball Stadium Review Committee, requested alist of private investors in the downtown ballpark in response to thecity of Winston-Salem’s requirement that all committee members signconfidentiality and ethics agreements as a condition of their service

during a meeting on Aug. 20. City Attorney Angela Carmon informedthe citizen group, which was formed last month to oversee thecompletion of the downtown ballpark, that the project’s investors hadrequested anonymity. Hudson said without knowing the names ofthe individual investors, it would be impossible for committee membersto determine if they had a conflict of interest. “All I’m asking is tolay before me the list of investors,” Hudson said. “If the city wantsto take the responsibility, fine. But I don’t want to be embarrassed.” Carmonsaid the city manager’s office had vetted all committee members todetermine potential conflicts of interest prior to their selection andto the extent committee members are not aware of a conflict ofinterest, the city’s ethics policy covers the members against anypotential civil litigation. One of the committee members — Dan Barrett, a senior vice president of ISP Sports— resigned last week after finding out that ISP Sports CEO Ben C. Sutton Jr. was one of the principal investors in the baseball stadium, according to Mayor Allen Joines. In other business, the commit tee elected Eric Prior, a manager with First Citizens Bank, as its chairman, and Brenda Diggs, a retired banker, as its vice-chair. — KTB

Candidate forums scheduled GuilfordCounty Unity Effort has scheduled two candidate forums ahead of theGreensboro municipal primary election on Oct. 6. Four panelists willask questions: NC A&T University professor Bob Davis, YES! Weekly reporter Jordan Green, News & Record reporter Amanda Lehmert and Carolina Peacemaker reporter Yasmine

Regester. Bothforums will take place at the Greensboro Historical Museum. A Sept. 8forum will include candidates for mayor, and for districts 1, 3 and 4,while a second forum on Sept. 22 will include at-large candidates, andcandidates for districts 2 and 5. Mayoral candidates Yvonne Johnson and Bill Knight haveconfirmed that they will attend. All six District 1 and all threeDistrict 3 candidates have promised to attend. As of Monday, allcandidates in District 4 had responded except for Mary Rakestraw. In the at-large race, all candidates have promised to attend, except Gary Nixon, who said he will be out of town. All four candidates in District 2 and both District 5 candidates have promised to attend. — JG

Tasered inmate dies in Guilford custody Inmate Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38,died in the custody of the Guilford County Jail on Aug. 18 after beingTasered, according to a press release issued by the Guilford CountySheriff’s Office. The press release said Cobb resisted and assaulted adetention officer who was trying to recover contraband from his cell, and that after the use of the Taser,Cobb was handcuffed and shackled, and then taken to the duty nurse. Itwas then that it became apparent that Cobb was unconscious, and theinmate was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Cobbwas in jail awaiting trial on charges of kidnapping, robbery with adangerous weapons and probation violation. “Anytime there is a deathwhere force and an officer is involved we call the State Bureau ofInvestigation,” Sheriff BJ Barnes said in a prepared statement. “Wedo this because it is law and it’s the right thing to do. I’m confidentthat their investigation will be thorough…. We will make available theresults of the investigation when the SBI, our office and the DA’soffice have finished their investigation and review. Initialinvestigation has not shown anything that alarms me or causes me tobelieve this was anything other than a tragic event.” — JG