October 2010 Archives

October 22, 2010

Former President Bill Clinton Stumps For Shuler in Asheville

Clinton 1.JPGOn a cloudless Thursday afternoon in downtown Asheville, thousands waited patiently as former President Bill Clinton made his way to the podium to pump up the crowd and western North Carolina for incumbent Senator Heath Shuler. We arrived in Pack Square Park around 11am after having stood in line for approximately 30 minutes. The day before, I had been handed a VIP ticket outside the early voting center downtown. Little did I know then that I would have a 4th row seat to Clinton's speech.

Clinton was awesome in person. Having always likely his casual, commonsense demeanor, I was impressed by his in person persona as he entertained the crowd with hilarious anecdotes ("I couldn't make this up...") from his past while also making a strong case in support of Shuler. Clinton told the crowd that "Shuler is the only real choice voters have" if they want to create jobs and knock down the country's runaway debt.

Clinton repeatedly said that "it's important to America" and North Carolina that Shuler, D-Waynesville, return to Washington. Shuler faces stiff competition for his Senate seat from Republican challenger Jeff Miller, a Hendersonville business owner, in the Nov. 2 election.

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October 18, 2010

2010 North Carolina Judicial Races - How To Vote

Asheville courthouse.jpgJudicial elections are extremely important. The decisions that judges make directly impact the lives of many people. This is particularly true if you happen to be one of the almost 3 million people who happen to have a case in the North Carolina court system each year. This means that many voters will look a judge in the eye at some point, whether in the context of divorce, child custody, child support, civil suit (personal injury, property dispute) or even the penalty side of misdemeanors (traffic) or criminal charges. In many cases, the judge decides who wins and who loses. In all cases, the judge can have an impact on how the case is decided. Therefore, who gets elected as judge may directly affect your life.

Since the North Carolina Legislature decided that judicial races are to be non-partisan, it is hard to know who to vote for, unless you personally know the person who's running for judge. If you do not know the candidate, and you do not know what party (Republican, Democrat or other) they belong to, how can you intelligently cast your vote? The best way is to ask a lawyer who has experience in the courtroom trying cases before the judge.

Here is how I plan to vote in the judicial elections based upon my personal knowledge of the candidates, their legal experience, and their known or perceived judicial temperament. Please print this list and take it with you when you vote:

NC Supreme Court
Judge Robert C. "Bob" Hunter (Brady seat)

NC Court of Appeals
Judge Rick Elmore (incumbent)
Judge Martha Geer (incumbent)
Judge Jane Gray (Calabria seat)
Judge Sanford Steelman (incumbent; unopposed)

NC Court of Appeals (Wynn seat - 13 candidate "instant runoff" race)
#1 choice - Judge Cressie Thigpen
#2 choice - Stan Hammer
#3 choice - Harry Payne

Buncombe County:

Superior Court (seat No. 1)
Alan Thornburg: thornburgforjudge.com

Superior Court (seat No. 2, instant runoff)
Heather Whitaker Goldstein: heatherforsuperiorcourtjudge.com

District Court (Barrett seat)
Sharon Barrett: N/A

District Court (Brown seat)
Shirley Brown: judgeshirleybrown.com

District Court (Cash seat)
Julie Kepple: julieforjudgecampaign.com

District Court (Knight seat)
Rebecca Knight: N/A

District Court (Young seat)
Patricia Kaufmann Young: re-electjudgeyoung.com

October 14, 2010

Safety Violations Caused Young Mother's Death in Pitt County Flatbed Trailer Crash

trailer safety violation.jpgEarly Tuesday afternoon, John David Ross, 29, of 2909 Royce Lane, near Winterville, drove his roofing crew toward a job site on northbound NC Highway 43. Behind Ross' Chevrolet pick-up truck was a home-made flatbed trailer loaded with shingles and other roofing materials. The investigating State Trooper said that the trailer lacked proper safety devices required by state law, such as a properly sized hitch pin and safety chains connecting the trailer to the truck.

As Ross' truck and trailer crested a short hill, the trailer suddenly detached from the truck and veered into the oncoming lane. Tragically, Lisa Langemann, 27, of 2005 Wallace Lane and her two young daughters were headed southbound in their SUV on NC Highway 43 at the same time. Langemann must have seen the trailer coming because witnesses say the SUV swerved to the right to try and avoid the collision, but the out of control trailer struck the SUV head-on. After the sudden impact, the SUV hit a ditch and flipped over.

Langemann died at the scene. Her 8 year old daughter is listed in serious condition at Pitt Memorial Hospital, and her one month old daughter was treated and released. Her family is devastated by her loss. Langemann was a second grade teacher at Bethel Elementary School in Pitt County. She was in her third year of teaching at the school. The teachers, administrators and students were shocked when they learned of the wreck.

Langemann's family could pursue a wrongful death claim against Ross and his roofing company. Given the type of safety violations that caused this crash, pursuing such a case could help provide for the care and upbringing of her two young children. While financial compensation could never bring back this wonderful teacher and mother, it might make a difference in her childrens' lives. While Ross certainly feels terrible about what happened, he is still legally responsible for the outcome.

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October 6, 2010

Mandy Kirkconnell - A Tragic Loss For The Asheville Community

manie kirkconnell.jpgLast Saturday morning, shortly before 3a.m., an intoxicated Jennifer N. Kessler, of Arden, drove her vehicle the wrong way on Interstate 240 in Asheville. As Kessler neared the Brevard Road exit, her vehicle collided head-on into a vehicle operated by Mandie Kirkconnell, 29, of Asheville. Kessler suffered serious injuries, but Ms. Kirkconnell died at the scene. This is the second wrong way collision in Asheville this year.

As a result, authorities have charged Kessler with felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired and reckless driving to endanger. She faces prison time for what she did.

Kirkconnell was a remarkable woman who positively touched every person with whom she came in contact. A devout Christian and a talented musician with an incredible voice, Ms. Kirkconnell was very active in her church at King of Glory Christian Church in Swannanoa as well as at many other churches in the Asheville area, including Relate Church and the Melchizadek House of Prayer.

Kirkconnell's friends say that in light of her strong faith and belief in the healing power of the love of Christ, she would want everyone to forgive Kessler for her horrible mistake in judgment. A tall order for even those with a strong faith. Those who knew her were clearly blessed if but for the short time she was here.

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