Friday, January 30, 2004


For those of you following the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway controversy, you may recall that at the DOT's public hearing at the Broyhill Inn & Conference Center back in August, DOT Board Member Frank Johnson from Statesville stood up and announced that he intended to vote for the scenic byway when it came before the board. For his brazenness, State Senator Virginia Foxx denounced him for unfairly prejudging the issue.

Well, Frank Johnson has just been fired off the Board of Transportation by Gov. Mike Easley for improperly using his position to raise money for the Gov's reelection campaign. Johnson is said to have emailed members of the Rotary Club in Statesville, saying he needed to raise $50,000 by today to take to Raleigh and implying that the future of Iredell County roads depended on the generosity of Statesville Rotary Club members. (The Charlotte Observer broke this story.) In his email Johnson reminded Rotary Club members that a Union County bypass project moved up on the state's priority list after residents in the county raised $100,000 for the gov. (He later retracted that statement as an empty boast.)

Bob Hall, research director of Democracy North Carolina, which tracks the influence of money in state politics, said this is just another example of widespread corruption of money in politics.

We feel certain that Deborah Greene is taking copious notes.

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