gop targets ‘swing’ district

by geoffrey Cooper
Staff Writer

A Dunn conservative with Tea Party ties and considerable GOP backing is surfing the wave of angry voters in her aim to capsize the re-election bid of a seventerm U.S. House Democrat. Much anticipation has surrounded this year’s U.S. House District 2 race between 14-year veteran lawmaker Bob Etheridge and Republican newcomer Renee Ellmers. Since the conclusion of the May primary, the contest has been watched with keen interest by political experts and leaders of both parties, statewide and nationally . Etheridge was elected to Congress in 1996, defeating Republican David Funderburk. He often has been dubbed by pundits as a “safe Democrat” during his tenure, having no troubles breezing past opponents by wide margins in congressional races. But a backlash has hit Etheridge this year, mainly because of his controversial roughhousing of two conservative video bloggers in Washington, D.C., and for his support of rescuing financial and automotive industries, the federal stimulus package, health care and extending unemployment benefits. Ellmers said she entered the political arena because of what she calls a government takeover of the country’s health care system by Congress’ liberal majority She said she would not have . voted for the health care legislation – which was met with disapproval by GOP members – and if elected, will work to eventually repeal the reforms or block their funding. The current health legislation will skyrocket the country’s deficit, she said, adding that changes could be better met with tort reform, giving businesses tax credits to purchase insurance for employees and allowing residents to See GOP 5A ,

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buy insurance outside state lines. “I am beyond concerned with the future we’re leaving for our children. (The health care reform) means we’re passing down to our kids a less prosperous district,” Ellmers said in a telephone interview. “Bob made it clear – he was not standing up for the values of District 2. ... When you make decisions like that, you have to be replaced.” Etheridge said reforming health care was a “historic” move and that preserving the status quo was not the right move. Contrary to conservatives’ claims, Etheridge said, the new measures will place cost limits on high insurance premiums and bar insurance companies from denying coverage to residents because of pre-existing conditions. In the past week, Etheridge has blasted Ellmers – a registered nurse who runs a clinic with her husband in Dunn – for siding with insurance companies. Etheridge said by doing so, Ellmers is saying insurance companies should decide if preexisting conditions, or maternity care, are covered. He said passing the health care law was one of many gateways to rebuilding a stronger economy . “It’s the insurance companies that have been making these decisions all along, and look what has happened,” Etheridge said in a telephone interview. “(Ellmers’) answer to all of this is ‘You’re on your own’. ... Every single Republican lawmaker said ‘no’ to this. The way I see it is if you don’t play, then it’s kind of hard to negotiate.” Ellmers said that the Bush tax cuts should be extended and more small business relief funds should be allocat-

ed – something she said the federal stimulus has not been able to effectively produce. Ellmers said that life rafts such as the stimulus package, bank bailouts and lengthening unemployment benefits could have been avoided if more oversight was enacted by Congress beforehand. “It’s Congress holding the purse strings. All of these things (Etheridge) has voted for just adds more to our debt,” Ellmers said. Etheridge said that those votes – many he said he knows are unpopular – were the only reasonable options to stabilizing the country’s middle class. He

said he denounces Ellmers’ assertions that the federal stimulus was a failed initiative, and that proof of its benefits can be found locally and throughout the rest of the 2nd District through an abundance of in-

frastructure projects, investments in education, biotechnology and research at public universities. Etheridge said support for small businesses through the HIRE Act – which contains

proposals to give tax credits to businesses that hire more workers – is one sign that he understands the needs of the 2nd District. “This is a situation that was created over a long period of time, and

we have to have knowledgeable leaders that can make those wise decisions,” Etheridge said. Also running is Libertarian Tom Rose, 61, a broker and financial consultant from Benson.

  I was a member of West Edgecombe Rescue Squad (WERS) from its beginning. Soon after we began serving the community, I recognized that we needed to up-grade to Paramedic level. Most of our service area was so far from the hospital that advanced medical care was needed for critical patients. We learned that Wilson Technical College was offering an accelerated paramedic course which qualified an EMT to upgrade as paramedic. So I and several other members of WERS enrolled in the course. The course required class attendance four hours per night, two nights per week for over one year - more than one-thousand class-hours. I was the only WERS person attending those classes that completed the course and acquired paramedic certi-fication. To get paramedic experience, I joined Wilson Rescue Squad and pulled volunteer duty in both squads. After 14 years duty in Wilson Rescue Squad, I resigned and they voted me honorary life-time membership. I have allowed my paramedic certification to lapse but I am still certified as an EMT.   WERS began with three ambulances - one Ford and two Chevrolets. The Chevrolets had a design deficiency in that the large alterna-tor was mounted above the engine. Heat rising from the engine repeatedly destroyed the alternator. On several occasions, the alterna-tor failed during emergency responses. One example: the alternator failed and the ambulance lost all power while transporting a critical unconscious patient . The ambulance crew had to use a portable radio to call for emergency back-up. Stoney Creek responded to take the patient to the Hospital.   Another time, while I was transporting a patient on one of the Chevrolets, the alternator seized and burned the alternator/ fan belt in two. In that we were only a couple of miles from the hospital, I turned off non-essential electric and continued to the hospital. Luckily, the vehicle battery lasted until we arrived at the Emergency Room but the vehicle was over-heated. My partner and I had to call for alternate transportation back to the squad and a wrecker towed the ambulance to a garage for repair.   I had complained several times to the salaried Chief urging him to demand that the ambulance manufacturer correct the alternator deficiency but he had done nothing. Therefore, I wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Board, Donald Boswell, and requested that im-mediate action be taken to demand that the manufacturer correct the deficiency before the warrantee expired.   At about the same time, I learned that the Directors had taken no action to apply for Tax-Exempt status per Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(c). Unless approved as a “Tax Exempt” organization, donations are not tax deductible for the donor. I had brought this problem to the attention of the Chief but he had taken no action. Therefore, I wrote another letter to Mr. Boswell requesting that action be taken to apply to IRS for “Tax-Exempt” status.   Mr. Boswell responded to my letters by saying that I was not authorized to communicate with the Board of Directors. I stated and still believe that I did have that right. First, as a member of the public depending upon ambulance and rescue service, I had/have a right to demand corrective action for reliable service for me, my family, neighbors and loved ones. Second, members of the Squad elected the directors, therefore the directors were subservient to the members. Third, my tax money was spent to build and fund the Rescue Squad and to buy all the equipment. I had/have a right to demand that expenditures of my tax money acquired reliable facilities/equipment and that warrantee problems be promptly corrected. Fourth, as a member of the Squad, responding to critical emergencies, I had a right to have reliable equipment with which to do my job. Fifth, I had given considerable donations and “in kind” contributions to the Squad and I had a right to know that the Squad was approved by the IRS as “tax-exempt”. If not, my donations were not legally deductible on my tax returns.   Without regard to the facts or my rights, Donald Boswell and his cronies on the Board of Directors terminated my membership in the Squad. Their action was in direct violation of the By-Laws of WERS Corporation. The Bylaws stated: “Section 3. Term of membership, Membership shall continue until terminated by death, resignation, or removal by a majority of the members voting at a regular or special meeting of the membership at which a quorum is present.” I objected to their “kangaroo court” and demanded that the issue be decided by Squad members. Boswell refused, so I filed a com-plaint in court and asked the court to determine that they had illegally terminated my membership.   It happened that before my case was docketed, my neighbor - husband of my cousin - had a heart attack. After they called the rescue squad, they telephoned me for help. I arrived several minutes before the WERS ambulance and assessed the patient. He had classic signs and symptoms of a heart attack and he had a history of heart problems. When the ambulance arrived, I informed the EMT of my assessment. I asked why they had not brought their oxygen into the house - standard protocol - and they said they were going to apply oxygen after they got him in the ambulance. We placed the patient on the stretcher and prepared to load. A crew member moved toward the door with the patient’s head first. I suggested that we turn the stretcher around so the patient would go down the steps with his feet lower. The EMT responded: “No, we are going this way.” I should not have participated in an improper movement of the patient but I continued with the foot end of the stretcher. When the EMT started down the steps, he tried to keep the stretcher level by lifting his end above his head. As he reached the bottom of the steps, my end was still in the house at floor level. With the patient’s weight above his head, he was very unbalanced. Upon returning to the Squad, he reported that I shoved the stretcher out the door, causing him to almost drop the stretcher. I would not have done that with Donald Boswell on the stretcher - certainly not with a family member.   As a result, when my complaint was heard in court, the issue converted from whether my dismissal was illegal to allegations that I had placed a patient’s safety in jeopardy. At the expense of County taxpayers, Donald Boswell had hired an expensive, lawyer out of Raleigh and she convinced the judge that my membership in the squad should be terminated. I have not been able to find any legal authority or precedent for a judge to terminate a person’s membership in a Civil organization when the organization did not follow its own procedures - in this case: a vote of the Squad membership at a meeting at which a quorum is present. However, that over-zealous judge ordered my membership terminated.   About then, Donald Boswell and his lawyer got me fired from my job at the IRS on accusation that I used a Government franked envelope to mail to him the forms and instruction manual required to apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS. The forms and manual were necessary for Boswell to apply for “Tax-Exempt” status. I then took that matter to the County Commissioners and urged that they terminate financial support for WERS until the Squad acquired tax-exempt status. Upon directions from Edgecombe County, WERS then filed for and acquired tax-exempt status.   By the way, I have been informed that Boswell was an officer in the West Edgecombe Volunteer Fire Department. I find that they have never applied to the IRS for Tax-Exempt status. In that he went through that in the Rescue Squad, he cannot plead ignorance. Other volunteer fire Departments in the County have complied with this IRS law. So, if you donate to his fire department, you cannot legally deduct it on your tax return.   I do not want Donald Boswell for my County Commissioner and I think you should not either. Oliver Curtis Powell This political ad cost $796.80 and was paid for by Oliver Curtis Powell, concerned citizen.

renee ellmers
n Age: 46 n Education: Bachelor’s degree, Oakland University. n Professional background: Registered nurse; clinical director. n Political background: First run for public office. n Family: Husband, Brett; one son.

bob etheridge
n Age: 69 n Education: Bachelor’s degree, Campbell University. n Professional background: Farmer; business owner. n Political background: Seventhterm congressman; one-term county commissioner, twoterm N.C. House representative; two-term superintendent of N.C. Department of Public Instruction. n Family: Wife, Faye; three children; seven grandchildren.

Sell it in the Classifieds.
Rocky Mount
Call 446-5161


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