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Opinion Letters

The new numbers are out. The typical American worker received a $200 raise last year, an increase of 1/2 of one percent. The Typical CEO of a Fortune 500 company enjoyed a raise of $2,000,000, an increase of 23 percent. It looks as if good times are here again.

Maybe the Republicans are right; if you sprinkle enough money and tax breaks on the wealthy and on corporate America, the economy will improve. Corporate profits are up, dividends are up and those corporate jets are getting a real work out. Since 2008 the market has come up over 52 percent, and it is expected to increase another 11 percent by the end of 2011.

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If you read the information Duke Energy is spreading throughout the news media in its vast public relations campaign, you’d be led to believe the request for a 15 percent rate increase (17 percent for residential ratepayers) is a result of meeting new environmental regulations, especially in building the new “state-of-the-art” coal unit at Cliffside.

This is a distortion of reality that should be understood by all public officials, news outlets and members of the ratepaying public. I commend the Macon County Commissioners and the Franklin Board of Alderman for being the first public officials to take a stand against this round of rate hikes. Hopefully others will follow in short order.

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The patronage politics of roads, money, power, and ethics in North Carolina is a strange creature. Individual NCDOT board commissioners may not receive direct compensation (nor anyone related to them to the first degree) for a road building project in their districts; yet that is not the whole story.

Every four years the DOT commissioners are re-appointed (or not) to their districts by the governor. Often, these re-appointed commissioners have given thousands of dollars to gubernatorial candidates’ campaigns. These DOT commissioners have given money, not necessarily out of their own pockets but through many $100, $200, and $300 contributions that the individual commissioner receives from other constituents (private citizens, paving companies, architectural firms, etc.). This is called “bundling.”

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It is inconceivable that Duke Energy would apply for a 17 percent residential rate increase when its top executives are taking home total compensation packages in the millions of dollars while customers are struggling to pay their bills, including their electric bills.

Duke Energy’s CEO Jim Rogers total pay package increased 29 percent in 2010 to $8.8 million according to the Associated Press.

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