Lenoir Co. Board of Elections responds to B.J. Murphy

Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy expressed his opinion about the Lenoir County Board of Elections attempting to unseat Director Dana King in an exclusive interview with Jon Dawson and I on this week’s Free Press Radio Show (I also wrote about his visit in this article).

Excerpted from the audio, the mayor said, “I think the entire board needs to change. I don’t know how soon the board changes after the governor’s race, but the fact is you have a Republican governor, so you should have two Republican board members now. …

(The current  board has) had it out for her since Day 1. The Democratic Party didn’t even tell the two former members they weren’t going to be gone. They replaced them with two new people. I like them; don’t get me wrong and it’s nothing personal. … Eventually, there comes a time when it’s time to step down.”

The Lenoir County Board of Elections sent this letter to B.J. this afternoon (and CC’ed Jon and I at the same time):

Mayor Murphy,

We have read and listened to your interview yesterday, February 7, with the Free Press.  We are astonished that you would not only buy into but choose to further the hearsay rumors about the Lenoir County Board of Elections’ motivation in seeking the termination of the Elections Director.

The rumors are wrong.  Contrary to their – and your – stated perception, this Board has not been “out to get” the Elections Director, from “Day 1” or at any time since then.  Even a casual reading of the publicly-available petition for termination would tell you, if you were to bother reading it before you arbitrarily assign motivation, that the petition was driven solely by the Board’s ongoing, unaddressed, and increasing concerns about the efficient, effective management of the Board of Elections – and thus, of Lenoir County residents’ money.

It is not, and has never been, about “getting” the Elections Director, or about anyone’s taking her job.

We feel safe in assuming that one of your primary concerns, as Mayor of Kinston, is the effective, efficient management of the City’s resources.  We fail to understand then why you so freely impugn, in a public forum, the Board of Elections members’ integrity for bringing that very same priority to our oversight of the agency we were all, in fact, appointed to oversee.

We see from the article that you think “the entire Board needs to change.”  We would point out to you that the majority of the Board did in fact change, less than two years ago.  We also see that you believe that “eventually, there comes a time when it’s time to step down.”  The former Board chairman, one of the people who were not reappointed 19 months ago, had served in that capacity for 16 years.  It seems to us that more than meets your timetable for tenure.   We can’t speak to the process by which the Democratic party made the appointments, because we were not part of that process;  unless you were part of it or have spoken to members of the Lenoir County Democratic Executive Committee about it, you might consider being more careful about assigning blame for what you appear in print to consider wrong.

Your claim in the Free Press interview that “it’s nothing personal” feels very personal to each of us.

Sincerely,

Sharon Kanter, Chair

Oscar Herring, Secretary

Kimberly Allison, Member

Lenoir County Board of Elections

Again, for the original interview, check out the link above for the show.

My take: I’ve always found Dana King to be a woman of integrity; she’s one of the few people in the public realm who ALWAYS answer their phones — and if she doesn’t, she calls back ASAP.

My only beef with her has been how slow we get Election Night results as compared with surrounding counties. However, I’ve always chalked that up to her wanting to make sure everything is 100 percent complete and that there wouldn’t be any mistakes. If that’s the case — and I believe it is — good for her.

Saying all this, the board seems to have a legitimate problem(s) with her and they’re doing what they have to do to fix it in their eyes. To be continued…

Morning News Report; April 26, 2012

Sorry I’ve been away, bloggees — real life is a bitch. Anyhoo — a pretty special MNR:

COPLES SET TO MAKE HISTORY

Former Kinston High School/UNC football star Quinton Coples will likely be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft tonight. He’ll be first player in Lenoir County to earn the honor.

My take: I couldn’t be more proud of a young man who has worked hard to get to this point in his life. I’ve watched him and covered him since he was in the eighth grade and playing recreation basketball for Larry Powell with Bo Ingram and the rest of the “Six Shooters.”

He’s been a stand-up young man who did what was best for his family and himself when he left Kinston as a senior — a decision that has helped him to where he is today: on the threshold of becoming a multi-millionaire NFL player.

A behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing tonight at TFP: we’re hoping he is selected earlier rather than later because we’ve switched press times with one of our sister papers, giving us a little bit later deadline than our typical ridiculously early deadline. Award-winning page designer Richard Clark has a freaking fantastic front page ready, so … Carolina Panthers — TAKE QUINTON COPLES!

MONTAGUE SET TO MAKE HISTORY

When legendary North Lenoir baseball coach Jim Montague’s Hawks take the field against Kinston today, they’ll be going for the coach’s 350th career victory.

My take: One thing I’ve always liked about Coach Montague — he never takes credit for his team’s success but always takes the brunt of their losses.

Some of the best times of my journalism career was covering those championship teams in 2005-2007, with Sthil Sowers, Brandon Sutton, Andrew Manning, John Alphin and the others. In 20 years of covering prep sports, I’ve never seen a pitching combo like Sowers and Sutton, who were as confident and successful as any pair of high school pitchers EVER. Montague coached his tail off, too, and if a certain western N.C. school hadn’t put together an all-star team to take down North Lenoir, the Hawks would’ve had three straight state titles.

Congrats, Coach! Stay around for 400!

BOBCATS GO FOR HISTORY TONIGHT … OR NOT

When the Charlotte Bobcats take the court against the New York Knicks tonight — on national TV, no less — they’ll be trying to avoid their 23rd straight loss and the infamy of being the worst team in NBA history (by percentage).

My take: Yikes. I’ll be pulling for the Bobcats … but if I were a betting man, I sure as heck wouldn’t bet on them.

And check out this scatching Chicago Sun-Times column on Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan. Yikes again.

GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES CHALLENGE MCCRORY TO DEBATE

Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a primary for the Republican nomination for governor. While the Democrats have had several debates and forums, the GOP has had none, since everyone naturally assumes Pat McCrory (who has been campaigning for the last four years anyway) will get the nod.

One Republican, though, is challenging McCrory to a debate.

My take: If I were him, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. McCrory has nothing to gain by debating a Republican challenger … nothing. All he’d do is lend credence to that opponent.

The iPod shuffle

Against The Wind — Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Summer of ’69 — Bryan Adams

Evverybody’s Talkin’ — Harry Nilsson

Drop It Like It’s Hot — Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell

Hand On The Glock — Cypress Hill

Morning News Report; March 20, 2012

Before we get started today, allow me to wish Darrell Hanks — my awesome little brother — a happy birthday. He’s about the coolest person I know — seriously (even cooler than Jon Dawson? Yes!) – and arguably the best dad out there. Want to wish him a happy birthday, too? Check out his blog by clicking here. Happy birthday, Darrell!

And now … your MNR:

PEYTON TO THE BRONCOS

A press conference has been called by the Denver Broncos this afternoon to allegedly announce the signing of Peyton Manning to their roster.

Of course, this means the Broncos have two starting quarterbacks on their team — remember Tim Tebow? — meaning Denver is probably looking to trade the Chosen One.

My take: Gotta admit — I’m surprised because I figured Peyton would end up with Miami or Arizona. He’s 38 35 (thanks, Paul Thompson!), has a creaky neck and has ALWAYS played his home games in a dome. He DOES know it gets cold in the Mile-High City, right? Wondering how he’s going to do in December when it’s 10-below at game time.

That’s why I thought warm weather locales like Miami and Arizona (and even San Francisco, who got involved over the weekend) would be better fits. But hey, he knows best, right?

As for the trainwreck known as Tim Tebow, can’t wait to see what franchise he wrecks next. Probably Jacksonville, where his cult followers will sell out that ratty-ass stadium that has had to black out home games for several years now, although Miami is also listed as a possible destination (although the Dolphins signed former ECU QB David Garrard yesterday).

ILLINOIS HOLDS PIVOTAL GOP PRIMARY TODAY

All eyes are on Illinois today as GOP front-runner Mitt Romney and underdog Rick Santorum battle it out for valuable delegates in one of President Obama’s home states.

My take: Admittedly, Santorum is making this a race worth watching, although the experts say he is merely forcing Romney to spend more money to win a nomination that is probably already Romney’s.

One argument I’ve heard against that though, is this: it didn’t hurt Obama when he and Hillary Clinton went head-to-head in 2008 … and that’s a pretty damned good argument. They kept their names in the news during what would’ve been meaningless primaries while John McCain ran away with the GOP nomination.

SOUTHERN NASH STUDENT STABBED

A female student had her throat stabbed this morning at Southern Nash High School by another female student.

My take: Yikes. Justin “The Kid” Hill and I spoke to a group of sixth-graders at Woodington Middle School last month and we ate in their lunchroom. I was shocked to learn that you couldn’t get a real knife, spoon or fork — you could only get one of those in the plastic variety.

Seriously? I had yummy Salisbury steak that day and nearly broke my plastic knife and plastic fork trying to eat it.

But it’s stories like this that make me realize that yes, it’s 2012 and we can’t allow kids to have silverware because they’ll stab each other with it. Wow.

The iPod shuffle

Millionaire — Kelis featuring Andre 3000

Your Love Is My Drug — Ke$ha

Megablast — Public Enemy

Union Of The Snake — Duran Duran

Live Your Life — T.I. featuring Rihanna

Morning News Report; March 19, 2012

HOW’S YOUR BRACKET?

Mine’s not too shabby, as I have 10 of the Sweet 16; I still have seven of the Elite Eight and three of the Final Four (my decision to have Murray State as a surprise Final Four participant has blown up in my face).

Lots of intriguing storylines from the first two rounds (I refuse to call the First Four games the first round — yes, I’m a rebel that way), including the unfortunate breaking of Kendall Marshall’s wrist, Duke’s early exit and N.C. State’s first Sweet 16 appearance in a decade.

My takes: For all those who thought Tyler Zeller, John Henson or Harrison Barnes was UNC’s most important player and worthy of first-team All-ACC status over Marshall … now you’re going to find out. I think the Tar Heels will have enough to get past Ohio, but that Kansas game is a hell of a lot tougher without Marshall.

Like many of you, I was frankly shocked by Duke’s performance on Friday. I didn’t have any allusions of the Blue Devils going to the Final Four, but I thought they could make it past Lehigh. What this tells me is that Mike Krzyzewski did a hell of a job coaching this team. What this also tells me is that he needs to recruit a little better or Duke is truly falling behind.

And congrats, Wuffies — you’re at least one and maybe two years ahead of schedule. With one of the top recruiting classes coming in next year, it’s not inconceivable to think State could make a run at the Final Four next year.

KEVIN WILSON FOLO

As announced here last week, South Lenoir football coach Kevin Wilson formally announced his retirement from coaching last week. His decision was family-based and he’ll remain on staff as a teacher.

My take: Yes, it’s a true familial-based decision, but there might not have been a better time for Wilson — a man I truly respect and admire — to get out. There was so much infighting and bitterness in Deep Run this past season, I don’t know how anyone could’ve put up with it.

My unsolicited advice to Lisa Smith, Steve Saint Amand and the Blue Devils — make a decision and make it soon. This does not need to linger over several months. You have the best fan base and financial support in Lenoir County and that fan base expects some results.

EARLY VOTING: DON’T BE SKEERED

My Sunday column was on Lenoir County being approved for Sunday voting during the primary — and the fact that folks shouldn’t be afraid of it.

My take: I love how people in hushed tones — and looking around to see if anyone is listening to them — say things like, “You know THOSE churches encourage their people to vote a certain way.” Replace THOSE with any adjective you’d like — black, urban, country or white — and that’s what is implied.

Good grief — go vote. Anything that gets more folks into a voting booth is a good thing.

And I meant what I said in the column: if you have proof that your minister, preacher, priest or rabbi is encouraging you to vote in a certain way, please let me know.

The iPod shuffle

Just Like A Woman — Bob Dylan

Touch Me — The Doors

Crazy Train — Ozzy Osbourne

Johnny Ryall — The Beastie Boys

Let It Rock — Bon Jovi

Afternoon News Report; March 9, 2012

Ok, it’s ACC Tournament Friday and I’m having trouble concentrating since every TV in our building is on the Carolina-Maryland game. Going to do this quickly!

DAWSON NAMED 2A ALL-STATE

Kinston’s Josh Dawson, who has helped lead the Vikings to tomorrow’s 2A state championship game in Raleigh, was named to the ncpreps.com 2A all-state team today.

The 2A state player of the year, though, is Waxhaw Cuthbertson’s Shelton Mitchell — who Dawson and the Vikings face tomorrow for the title.

My take: I know Josh pretty well and the young man doesn’t need much motivation … but I think this might just be one of those things he’ll use tomorrow. Just sayin’.

And congrats to Josh — this is a well-deserved honor for the heart of Kinston’s team.

Also — don’t forget I’ll be blogging play-by-play from the game tomorrow; Ryan Herman will be tweeting the game (@KFPSports). I’m also helping with the pep rally at 2 p.m. today, so come on out if you have a chance.

Finally, if you haven’t checked out this podcast, featuring Wells Gulledge, Perry Tyndall and Ryan Herman, you’re cheating yourself. One of our best.

DALTON VISITS KINSTON AGAIN

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, one of the leading Democrats in the N.C. governor’s race, visited Kinston and The Free Press yesterday.

My take: While I still think he jumped into the pool a day early, I was pretty impressed with the lieutenant governor yesterday. He’s confident, well-spoken and ready to take on the presumptive GOP candidate, Pat McCrory. Should be a great race.

ROMNEY LEARNING TO LIKE GRITS

Leading GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is touring the Deep South — and is now saying “y’all” and eating grits.

My take: A bit funny, but he doesn’t need to try too hard. He certainly doesn’t need a Michael Dukakis in the tank photo that buried that candidate:

Fantastic.

The iPod shuffle

I Will Buy You A New Life — Everclear

Melissa — The Allman Brothers Band

Just You ‘N’ Me — Chicago

Dip It Low — Christina Milian

Love Me Tender — Elvis Presley

Morning News Report; March 7, 2012

ROMNEY WINS SIX OF 10 SUPER TUESDAY STATES

GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney won six of the 10 Super Tuesday primaries yesterday — including the key state of Ohio — while challenger Rick Santorum took three and Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia.

My take:While the pundits want to scream that this isn’t over, I can’t understand why folks don’t realize that it is.

Romney has more delegates than Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul combined. He’s exponentially outspending them. Unless there’s something in his closet that hasn’t come out yet — and I sincerely doubt that’s going to happen — Romney has the GOP nod wrapped up.

I’m not trying to go all conspiracy theorist on you here, but there’s one group who sincerely hopes this gets dragged out to the Republican National Convention in Tampa — Obama supporters. And who is characterized as being most closely aligned with Obama supporters? The alleged “mainstream media.”

While I don’t think CNN, Fox News and MSNBC (OK, I do believe MSNBC wants Obama reelected) are advocating for four more years of Obama, I know this much: as long as there are competitive GOP primary races, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC get better ratings — and more advertising dollars.

If the GOP was smart, though, they’d start concentrating on Obama instead of beating the hell out of each other the way they are now. I watched more political coverage last night than I have in the past year and couldn’t believe all the shots the four took at each other.

You know who loves that? Obama … and the networks. We have a poll up at Kinston.com asking which GOP candidate has the best chance of beating Obama — and the option “no one can beat Obama” is leading at 42 percent. Romney is “winning” at 28 percent, followed by Santorum (12 percent) and Gingrich (9) and Paul (9).

PEYTON SAYS GOOD-BYE TO COLTS TODAY

Today at noon, future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning will bid farewell to the Indianapolis Colts, a franchise for whom he won a Super Bowl.

Speculation is that he’ll end up signing with a new team soon; frontrunners include my beloved Washington Redskins, along with Miami, the New York Jets, Seattle, San Francisco, Kansas City and Arizona — among others.

My take: Honestly, I’d rather have Peyton than Robert Griffin III, for whom the Skins are allegedly attempting to trade up in the NFL Draft. At least with Peyton, you have a known entity (assuming he stays healthy) and all you’re spending is money, not draft picks.

With RG3, you’re spending money AND draft picks to obtain an entity you’re not entirely sure is going to be successful.

As for Peyton … it’s a bittersweet day for Indy fans. Yes, it’s sad he’s leaving your franchise, but it’s a pretty sweet prize to get Andrew Luck in the draft, a player virtually everyone has marked for stardom in the NFL.

Here’s my brother’s take on the Manning situation — and he takes a look at the possibility of the Colts being traitors for letting their quarterback go.

RYAN KELLY OUT FOR ACC TOURNEY

Duke forward Ryan Kelly will miss this weekend’s ACC Tournament in Atlanta after spraining his right foot at a Tuesday practice.

My take: I think that seriously hurts Duke’s chances of winning the tourney this weekend, too. Although he has much more talented teammates (see Rivers, Austin and Curry, Seth), Kelly is the heart of that team. I think Duke won’t make it past Florida State without him — and the Blue Devils might not make it past Miami on Friday.

But here’s the rub — I think UNC is going to have a tough time winning the tourney, too. Ol’ Roy is famous for not putting weight on the ACC Tournament and, frankly, it’ll mean more to Virginia (UNC’s likely Saturday opponent) or FSU (UNC’s likely Sunday opponent).

ACC AWARDS HANDED OUT

In what was a surprise to virtually no one, UNC’s Tyler Zeller was named the ACC player of the year, UNC’s John Henson took top defensive player of the year honors for the second year in a row and Duke’s Rivers was unanimously named the league’s best rookie.

What was a surprise — at least to me — was that FSU’s Leonard Hamilton was picked the league’s top coach … by a single vote over Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

My take: While I agree that Hamilton did a fine job, he would’ve been my FOURTH choice for COTY, behind Virginia’s Tony Bennett, N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried and Krzyzewski.

FSU was picked to finish third … and the Seminoles finished third. Duke was picked second and finished second and even my Hoos were picked fourth and finished … you guessed it, fourth.

Gottfried’s squad was picked to finish eighth and are in fifth place and on the threshold of the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

The iPod shuffle

Imagine — John Lennon

Fergalicious — Fergie featuring will.i.am

W.T.P. — Eminem

Don’t Do Me Like That — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Lookin’ Out My Back Door — Creedence Clearwater Revival

P.S.: Democratic N.C. gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton is coming by The Free Press tomorrow; if you have any SERIOUS questions you’d like to have asked of him, post them here or email them to me at bhanks@freedomenc.com. I’ll get to as many as I can in the short amount of time we have him in our office.

Morning News Report; March 6, 2012

HAPPY SUPER TUESDAY

Four hundred and 37 delegates — more than have been awarded in Republican primaries to this point — are up for grabs in 10 states in today’s Super Tuesday races.

My take: It’s pretty much do-or-die time for Rick Santorum today if he hopes to legitimately stay in the race with Mitt Romney. And although some Republicans are less than thrilled to have Mitt at the top of their ticket, today will likely cement that certainty.

Hard to believe that in 2012, we can’t do better than Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama. Seriously.

MAN CHARGED WITH MASTURBATING AT LA GRANGE LIBRARY

A La Grange registered sex offender was arrested last week for masturbating at a computer at the town’s library.

My take: Yep.

What the hell was this dude thinking? No one would see him WITH HIS PANTS AND UNDERWEAR DOWN AROUND HIS ANKLES? Seriously?

And what is a registered sex offender doing at a library anyway? I know it was 11:20 in the morning when he was allegedly saying hello to his little friend, but I think I can safely assume there were small children with their mothers there, too.

I’ve heard of some pretty sick and some pretty dumb things … but churning butter at the library is about the sickest and dumbest.

THREE TAR HEELS NAMED FIRST-TEAM ALL-ACC

The UNC starting front line of Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes were named to the All-ACC first team. The trio was joined by Virginia’s Mike Scott and Duke’s Austin Rivers.

UNC point guard Kendall Marshall was the first player on the second team and was joined by Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin, FSU’s Michael Snaer, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie.

My take: I’m not surprised that Marshall didn’t make first team, although I’m a bit disappointed. I still stand by what I said yesterday — without Marshall, UNC is a fourth-place ACC team, but without Zeller, Henson or Barnes, the Tar Heels would be a lesser team, but wouldn’t notice their loss as much. It’s this simple: Kendall Marshall is the most important player in the ACC …period.

What does surprise me, though, is that Scott wasn’t a unanimous pick to the first team on all 62 ballots. There were actually TWO voters (or one who put him on the third team!) who didn’t think Mike Scott was one of the top five players in the ACC this year. Craziness.

Player of the year, rookie of the year and coach of the year are announced today. I still think Marshall is the POTY, Rivers is the obvious ROTY and Virginia’s Tony Bennett would be my vote for COTY, although I wouldn’t be opposed to voting for Miami’s Jim Larranaga.

Why Bennett? Because of transfers and injuries, Virginia has six scholarship players remaining on the roster — and the Cavaliers still finished fourth in the league’s regular season. Larranaga has a good argument, too, for the strong job he has done at Miami — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see State’s Mark Gottfried garner a vote or two.

The iPod shuffle

Shoot To Thrill — AC/DC

Peace Of Mind — Boston

With A Little Help From My Friends — The Beatles

Call Me The Breeze — Lynyrd Skynyrd

The Dem Wrappas — Nelly

Morning News Report; Monday, March 5, 2012

UNC NO. 1, DUKE NO. 2 IN ACC TOURNEY

Following UNC’s 88-70 whitewash of Duke in the regular season finale for both teams, the Tar Heels are the No. 1 seed and the Blue Devils are No. 2 in this week’s ACC men’s basketball tournament in Atlanta.

My take: Gotta admit — Carolina is the class of the ACC and I doubt anyone is going to make a run at the Heels, especially with the added motivation and knowledge that they probably need to win this week’s tourney to get a coveted No. 1 seed.

The bigger question is this: who will get into the NCAA tournament from the ACC? I think the top 3 — UNC, Duke and Florida State — are locks and that my beloved Virginia is a highly probable. And that’s it — unless N.C. State or Miami get hot this week, the ACC will only get four teams into the tourney.

And although I no longer have a vote for ACC player of the year and All-ACC, here’s how I would vote for player of the year — Kendall Marshall, UNC. Marshall is the most indispensable player in the league, period. Could Carolina win without Tyler Zeller, John Henson or Harrison Barnes? Yes — but they’d be a fourth-place ACC team without Marshall.

My first-team All-ACC: Marshall; Mike Scott, Virginia; Zeller; Henson; and Austin Rivers, Duke. I can hear Heelatious already losing his mind — “What? No Harrison Barnes on first team? Oh my God!” It’s this simple — Barnes is a one-trick pony; he’s a hell of an offensive player, probably the best in the ACC. But at this moment, Rivers is a better player than he — and a better pro prospect.

ELECTION 2012 IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER

In my Sunday column, I took a look at the local races; later this week (very likely, tomorrow), I’ll do a quick hit on the statewide and national races — hopefully, with your input.

My take: A preview, though (although I’ve touched on this several times): the presumed front-runner for the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, has already fallen to second in a statewide poll — because of his early-campaign gaffes. Ironically, Dalton will be in Kinston Thursday night and I’m hoping he’ll come by The Free Press office to talk about his campaign.

WILLIAMS POPS FOR 57 VS. TERRIBLE BOBCATS

Deron Williams finished with a franchise and career-high 57 points against the Charlotte Bobcats last night.

My take: Congrats to Williams — but to me, the bigger issue is how bad the Bobcats are. Charlotte is 4-31, which brought a fantastic tweet from former Free Press sports editor R.L. Bynum. He speculated the Carolina Panthers might end up winning more games in 2012 than this season’s Bobcats — and that’s highly likely.

Heck, I’ll take it a step further — this year’s Bobcats might not win more than the 2011 Panthers, who finished with six wins. That would mean Charlotte would need to finish 3-28 over the final 31 games, a winning percentage of .097; the Bobcats currently have a winning percentage of 0.114.

Wow. And does anyone seriously think it’s going to get better in coming years? Kemba Walker is a nice player, but no one thinks he’s going to be a legitimate star. D.J. Augustin is all right and Gerald Henderson could start for four or five NBA squads — and he’s considered the “star” of this team. Going to be some tough, tough winters in Charlotte.

The iPod shuffle

Broken Wings — Mister Mister

Another One Bites The Dust — Queen

Wake Me Up When September Ends — Green Day

Believe It Or Not — Nickelback

Poundcake — Van Halen

Afternoon Sports Report; Feb. 15, 2012

LINSANITY GRIPS NEW YORK, THE NATION

Jeremy Lin has had an historic few weeks for the New York Knicks – and “Linsanity” has surpassed Tim Tebowism in its national fervor.

My take: The NBA has to be absolutely LOVING this, especially coming off the strike. This reminds me of the MLB strike in 1994, when Cal Ripken Jr. brought many fans back to the game with his consecutive games streak. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s steroid-fueled home run derby helped MLB, too.

But this is a fascinating story in which you have to pull for this kid. I’m not exactly going to run out and buy his jersey (although A LOT of people are), but I’m looking forward to seeing him play this weekend on national TV.

FOUR FOOTBALL PLAYERS AMONG 17 TCU STUDENTS ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES

Seventeen TCU students — including four football players — were arrested today for selling drugs.

My take: Frankly, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often on college campuses; drugs are plentiful and kids want ‘em, creating the supply and demand I learned in 10th grade at North Wilkes High School.

The players’ names haven’t been released yet, but more arrests are coming. Interested to see who they’ll be.

EP2A SEMIFINALS TONIGHT AT KHS

One side of the semifinals of the Eastern Plains 2A basketball tournament are tonight at Kinston High School; the top-seeded Vikings girls face Wilson Beddingfield while the top-seeded boys take on Farmville Central.

As you prepare yourself for those games, check out this awesome story by Ryan Herman on Nakeil Williams and Andrew Lopez – whose fathers are serving or have served our country.

My take: Should be a pretty good atmosphere at Viking Gym tonight — and kudos to Nakeil and Andrew’s fathers for raising such great young men.

The iPod shuffle

Down And Out — Tantric

We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel

Pop Goes The Weasel — 3rd Bass

Hooked On A Feeling — B.J. Thomas

Synchronicity 2 — The Police

P.S.: Check out this excellent column by Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy on the DOJ decision. All I can say is: Amen. Outstanding observations.

Morning News Report; Feb. 14, 2012

DALTON VISITS KINSTON

The leading Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, dropped in to Kinston yesterday for a campaign stop.

My take: One problem — he didn’t tell anyone (including The Free Press and the local TV stations) he was coming. Only because Dalton innocuously tweeted about it on his Twitter feed (and Justin “The Kid” Hill saw it) did we find out and have a reporter there to let the good folks of Kinston know about his visit.

Dalton’s campaign strategies to this point have been mind-baffling. First, he announces he’s running on the same day Bev Perdue makes her shocking decision not to run, burying his news deep in every North Carolina paper and news feed that day. Then, he visits Kinston for a “campaign stop” without telling media.

The concerning thing about the latter is that maybe he didn’t want anyone in Kinston or our area to know — other than big money folks who’ll bankroll his campaign … you know the REALLY important people.

If that’s the reason, that’s not cool; you’re coming to town to just talk to the people who are going to pay the bills? If failing to tell media was just an oversight, it’s a stupid move on his campaign’s part. So … which is it?

He may be the frontrunner for the Democratic bid, but if he continues doing things like this, he won’t be for long. He might be the best candidate for the job — who really knows at this point? — but he and his campaign aren’t doing him any favors right now.

SANDUSKY INAPPROPRIATELY TOUCHED GRANDSON, EX-DAUGHTER-IN-LAW ALLEGES

Accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky is being accused by his former daughter-in-law of inappropriately touching one of his grandsons.

My take: There’s a WHOLE lot of smoke here; hard to believe there isn’t some truth to all these allegations.

ECU TO BE PART OF HUGE-ASS CONFERENCE

East Carolina will be part of a Conference USA/Mountain West league that will include anywhere from 18-24 members.

My take: Well … this was the worst-case scenario for ECU since the Pirates never received that elusive Big East bid. Still, there really should be a BCS bid built in here or what’s the point?

KATE UPTON NAMED 2012 SI COVERGIRL

Kate Upton, a 19-year-old from Florida, is this year’s Sports Illustrated cover girl. Here she is on the cover:

Click on this for a much, much better view.

My take: Uh, wow. Happy Valentine’s Day, guys.

For poops and giggles, take a gander at a few more shots at Ms. Upton:

Again, click on these for better views.

The iPod shuffle

Wait For Me — Daryl Hall & John Oates

Easy Lover — Phil Collins

Heaven Is A Place On Earth — Belinda Carlisle

Teach Me How To Dougie — Cali Swag District

Be Near Me — ABC