WUNC; illegal immigrants; Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom; Gary Kueber | Heroes & Zeros | Indy Week

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WUNC; illegal immigrants; Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom; Gary Kueber

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Last week, WUNC edited an announcement from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy about the group's April 14 rally, part of the national Step It Up day of global action on climate change. The word "rally" "raised a few red flags," according to an e-mail from a radio station staffer, because management felt it would run afoul of the Federal Communications Commission. "Rally" was changed to "event." WUNC received $500 from the group in exchange for the announcement. This isn't the first time the station has objected to sponsor's word choices. In 2004, the Chapel Hill-based international women's health organization Ipas pulled its underwriting support after management refused to allow the word "rights" (as in women's) to air. Station manager Joan Siefert Rose said it constituted "advocacy language," which goes against FCC guidelines, but a former counsel for National Public Radio, told the Indy he disagreed with WUNC's reasoning and knows of no similar case in which the FCC objected.

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A record number of North Carolina's illegal immigrants joined hundreds of thousands of other undocumented workers nationwide and filed tax returns this season. Despite recent immigration raids around the country, the workers from Mexico and Central America piled into tax preparation offices to pay their share to everyone's favorite uncle. Since 1996, the Internal Revenue Service has issued taxpayer identification numbers to immigrants who don't have Social Security numbers. More illegal immigrants are matching their enormous contributions to the economy with contributions to the public treasury.

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Her state agency slashed reimbursement rates for "community support" services to people with mental illnesses, and after much stuff hit the public fan, Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom declared that she cut the rates because for-profit providers are using "paraprofessional staff members—high school graduates" instead of qualified professionals. But wait, who was it that privatized these services in the first place? And who let the companies get away with using untrained workers? Who is closing Dorothea Dix? Why, that would be Odom's own Department of Health and Human Services, which has made a complete botch of so-called "mental health reform."

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We received a nomination for Gary Kueber, a physician turned historical preservationist and urban planner, who is doing great things on his blog, Endangered Durham. Kueber posts decades-old photos of downtown buildings, along with historical notes about the streetscape of yesteryear. He started the blog in 2005 in an attempt to slow the demolition of the city's old structures.

Know about a local hero or zero? E-mail tips to heroesandzeros@indyweek.com.

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