Are New Hanover county commissioners engaging in political theater to convince voters to pass the sales-tax increase on Tuesday? The Big Talker’s Ben McCoy says that it’s politically theatrical for the commissioners to hold public forums at two facilities that they say will suffer if the tax hike fails and they have to close the county’s budget gap with spending cuts.
I think it’s a coincidence, myself.Read full article » No Comments »
The Jacksonville Daily News takes note of recent developments in the implementation of ObamaCare that don’t bode well. For example:
The first crisis for the health care overhaul plan is a shortage of doctors. “At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges,” the Wall Street Journal reported April 12. Most in demand will be primarycare physicians, who “have a larger role under the new law, coordinating care for each patient.”
Currently, of 954,000 doctors in the United States, 352,908 are primary-care physicians. The medicalschool association estimates that another 45,000 primary-care physicians will be needed by 2020. Yet from 2002-07 the number of students studying for that role has declined by more than 25 percent.
“The doctor shortage is just going to get much worse,” according to Gracie-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a free-market medical policy think tank in Alexandria, Va. “I keep hearing chilling descriptions from doctors of how they retired early because they’re scared to death of Obamacare. America isn’t willing to turn out enough primary-care physicians who are willing to work 80-hour weeks.”
JLF health policy analyst Joe Coletti has recently blogged some additional thoughts on the Obama administration’s new high-risk pool program (Coletti thinks NC should opt out) and damning cost projections.Read full article » No Comments »
At a public forum last night, New Hanover county commissioners brought out all the usual arguments for a sales-tax increase: that a recessionary decline in revenues necessitates it, that a sales-tax hike would be better and fairer than a property-tax hike, and that if next week’s referendum goes the “wrong” way on the sales tax, critical public services will be cut.
From the StarNews coverage:
The commissioners all said they had tough choices to make, and that they were relying on the people to point them in the right direction by their choice at the ballot box. While commissioners said they didn’t want to try to steer residents to vote one way or another, many did not hide their support for the new tax and their hope for its successful passage.
“I believe it’s going to pass,” said Commissioner Jonathan Barfield Jr. “I believe in the citizens of the county.”
Yep, that’s not an attempt to steer the voters.
Look, all these arguments have compelling responses. First, if New Hanover had paced its growth better during the boom, it wouldn’t face as large a bust. That’s not fiscal behavior worth rewarding with more taxing authority. Second, the sales tax is not better and fairer than the property tax. Virtually all residents and visitors to New Hanover County pay property taxes, because they live in, shop in, or work in property that is taxed. Where do you think commercial and residential landlords get the money to pay their property-tax bills? Anyone who believes that renters don’t bear a share of property tax must have never negotiated a commercial lease. And anyone who believes giving commissioners the ability to raise the least-visible tax is good for taxpayers, by offsetting the more-visible property tax, is fooling himself.Read full article » No Comments »
After giving Carolina Journal more details about the shooting incident that left him wounded and state Sen. R.C. Soles convicted of assault, Kyle Blackburn has now given another media interview, this one with WRAL in Raleigh, that offers more details about Soles paying him off in the past:
Blackburn, a former legal client of Soles who has been convicted of felony breaking and entering, said Soles has for years given him and other men cash.
“He doesn’t help anybody and everybody. He helps people who know something about him, something he doesn’t want told. He’ll give them whatever they ask for to keep them quiet,” Blackburn said.
The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations that Soles fondled a 27-year-old Columbus County man more than a decade ago. After making the claim in a television interview, the man recanted.
Blackburn said he was never molested, but he said Soles has assaulted him in the past.
“He kicked me right upside the head with some little, pointy elf shoes,” he said.
Oh, brother, this is the real neverending story, complete with elf shoes.Read full article » No Comments »
The Brunswick Beacon has two breaking stories on controversies in Carolina Shores. First, it seems that the administrator of the town, Linda Herncane, hasn’t been following the rules on the use of the town’s email system:
On March 29, former town commissioner Gere Dale filed a public records request with town clerk Lisa Anglin requesting any e-mails issued to the town board of commissioners between March 9 and March 26.
Anglin sent an e-mail that same day to town staff, including Herncane and town finance director Julie Munday, assistant town administrator Amanda Chestnut, town building inspector Chuck Riggins and town receptionist Barbara Lipton asking for any e-mails issued to the town board of commissioners during that time.
In response to a second e-mail from Anglin to Herncane on March 31, Herncane responded she had deleted her e-mail five days earlier. “Lisa, As express [sic] to you verbally I deleted my e-mail (sent mail and deleted mail) on Friday, March 26, 2010 at about 3:30 p.m.,” Herncane wrote in her March 31 response to Anglin.
In her second e-mail to Herncane, Anglin cited North Carolina public records law, which stipulates e-mail among town officials is considered public information and it is a violation for a town official to delete it.
Meanwhile, the assistant town administrator says a sex-discrimination grievance she filed against Mayor Stephen Selby has resulted in retaliation. The background:
Selby was reprimanded last year by town attorney Holt Moore for making comments that were “derogatory to the female gender.”
“The commissioners have asked me to relay their position that there should be no comments, whether in a joking context or a serious one, tending to indicate that the speaker believes that someone may be less qualified for their position, or any other task, because of their gender,” Moore wrote in a letter to Selby dated April 3, 2009, at the request of town commissioners who met in closed session March 31, 2009, to discuss Selby’s “behavior.”
Moore wrote that commissioners also “believe that there is a problem in the form of too much involvement on your part with the day-to-day personnel and administrative matters of the Town. The Commissioners directed me to emphasize that, under the Chain of Command currently in place at the Town, these matters are the sole responsibility of the Town Administrator’s office.”
In addition, “the Board has the sense that this executive involvement stems from your perception that the Town Administrator and Assistant Town Administrator cannot properly perform their jobs because of their gender; for the reasons referenced in the paragraph above, this would be a source of concern from a legal standpoint.”
At some point, presumably, the town government of Carolina Shores will get back to delivering services to taxpayers other than entertainment.Read full article » No Comments »
Former Easley aide Ruffin Poole’s plea bargain with federal prosecutors appears to create the possibility of filling in the missing pieces on the Easley investigation, says the Jacksonville Daily News:
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Poole’s indictment on government corruption charges … painted an ugly picture of him personally and cast a shadow over the former governor’s administration. They detail Poole’s role in helping navigate the efforts of developers, who also happened to be campaign contributors, through the environmental permitting process. In addition, they show that Poole had a financial stake in the success of some of those developments,
Poole initially, and perhaps predictably, pleaded not guilty; however, he has now plead guilty on one charge and has agreed to cooperate fully with federal investigators. In return, more than 50 remaining charges were dropped.
This should help investigators, and eventually the people of North Carolina, learn if others in the Easley administration were involved in public corruption — in other words and to paraphrase a Watergate-era quote: What did the governor and when did he know it?
The Wilmington Star-News editorial board—Publisher Bob Gruber and editorial page Editor Tricia Vance—express the “long and proud tradition” of endorsing political candidates. They do this to “offer yet another bit of information. Fine. We should appreciate useful knowledge from whatever source. They say the intent is to “encourage community dialogue.” OK, let’s have it.
Editors imply that “vested interest in the outcome” of elections is not a good thing. They don’t seem to realize that the very definition of politics is placing authority in control of a person—an action fraught with dangers to our personal liberty and welfare. We, with our support groups, must be very interested in the outcome of elections. For example, the worst outcome some of us could imagine resulted from the last presidential election.
The editorial board claims to “look at candidates in terms of how they will represent the people….all of (the) people.” Sounds good, but what is their track record? I don’t have archival information to prove it, but I think they (or their predecessors) endorsed Democrat candidates Thomas Wright, Julia Boseman and R. C. Soles; all of whom represented primarily themselves and a few minority interest groups.
The board (probably Democrats) presumes to endorse Republican Senate District 9 candidate Michael Lee (who has “earned the right”) to replace Boseman, and “feisty” Bettie Fennell to replace Soles in Senate District 8.
We don’t know why Lee has “earned the right” to be state senator, but, clearly, Bob and Tricia favor Lee not because, as they say, he is “conservative through and through,” but because he has shown “willingness to consider ideas that don’t necessarily move in lock step with the GOP leadership”—code for he’s probably not conservative. They like the term “independent minded”—code for he probably hasn’t a set of fundamental guiding principles.
I may be wrong about this, but when liberal editors endorse a Republican I’m skeptical. Either they like the candidate’s progressive tendencies or they think he will be the weaker candidate; more easily beaten by their Democrat choice.Read full article » 1 Comment »
The New Hanover Board of Education has endorsed the quarter-cent sales tax hike on the May primary ballot. WWAY’s coverage includes the text of the resolution, where local voters are informed that it’s about the schools.
It’s always about the schools. Only, not really.
You see, virtually everyone agrees that public education is either number one or number two (behind public safety) on the priority list for local government spending. Inevitably, then, when local governments stop cutting expenses during recessions and opt for tax increases, they do so to protect the spending programs at the bottom of the priority list, not the ones at the top. New Hanover officials want to avoid cutting non-education programs and therefore advocate a sales-tax hike. Agree or disagree as you wish, but don’t fall for the misdirection here.
JLF local government analyst Michael Sanera had more to add during a recent CarolinaJournal.tv appearance:Read full article » 1 Comment »
The StarNews has offered its picks in competitive legislative primaries: Michael Lee over Thom Goolsby for the 9th Senate District GOP nomination, Bettie Fennell over Bill Rabon for the 8th Senate District nod, Susi Hamilton as the Democratic nominee and Michael Hutson as the Republican for House District 18, and Republican Frank Iler and Democrat Leonard Jenkins in House District 17.
Do with all that as you will.Read full article » No Comments »
Collective projects based on good intentions and hopeful results often fail when not grounded in economic reality. “Quality of life,” nonprofit organizations succumb to this truth. They usually serve very limited interests and must rely on public subsidies to sustain their activities. Thus we learn that the Cameron Art Museum “struggles to balance ambition with local interests”—too much ambition; not enough local interest.
One must feel some empathy for museum director Deborah Velders. She now faces the brunt of criticism for this failing venture. Some believe she exacerbates the dilemma with her “siege mentality” and hurt feelings—the Rodney Dangerfield, “I don’t get no respect” syndrome. Expressing the false resentment that “everybody hates us,” certainly won’t elicit public support.
Of course, lack of public support is the problem. It was predictable and predicted. The people who hatched up this day dream eight years ago should be held accountable. Former museum board members reveal that the “museum was built without adequate endowment.” Really? Now they tell us. Ms. Velders says she realized that the artsy adventure was “always in jeopardy as soon as they opened this building.” There was “no strategic plan,” she said. Still, Velders gets blamed for poor leadership in fundraising.
Other usual suspects had their political hands in this debacle. Over the years, city and county officials propped up the shaky project with nearly $1 million of other people’s money; reducing the quality of life for them by that amount.
However, we must ask: Why won’t the frequently touted Wilmington “artsy city” fully fund the CAM house of treasures apparently so necessary to its welfare? Could it be that the “arts community,” with press support, promotes wishful thinking about the importance of art for its own self-interest—to deceive our feckless politicians and scam the taxpayers?
This sad story gives us yet additional reason to resist attempts by government operatives to get more of our money (i.e. sales or any other new taxes). They will not control their addictive spending habit. Whether voters get the connections here remains to be seen.Read full article » 1 Comment »