Wilmington StarNews “watchdogs” report a state budget “crisis.” Editors title the story “Slash and burn.” They have a point. One of the best ways to handle waste is to burn it—in this case wasteful government projects. Gareth McGrath lists a few: a UNCW program; mosquito control; the Oyster Sanctuary Program and “a slew” of social programs.
McGrath correctly observes that any mention of reduction, or even no increase, in government budgetary follies results in a “doomsday feeling.” Often, rattling agency cages is merely “grandstanding” by politicians, he writes. We might add that the press and myriad hand-out constituencies also beat the drums loudly—speaking of which, the usual downtown Wilmington suspects always have their hands out.
The Downtown Business Alliance and Wilmington Downtown Inc. clamor for more cash to fund their duplicities. These nonprofits distribute money taken from the city and county taxpayers, doling it out to prop up “downtown festivities.”
City Manager Sterling Cheatham stated the obvious, usually not acknowledged by downtown purveyors of the public purse: “Of course, right now money is kind of scarce.” Really? But never fear, Sterling, you can always find more to funnel into downtown. For instance, by annexing more county property.Read full article » No Comments »
I could write this up, but it’s just funny of flippant or a miscommunication or something. The Governor said a lot by saying very little at her visit to UNCW yesterday. TV3 was the only media that asked her any tough questions, like Titan’s planned moved here. Here’s the way it went down as put up over at WWAY:
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – Monday during a visit to UNCW by Governor Bev Perdue, WWAY’s Chris Phillips told her that we would love for her to come back to Southeastern North Carolina more often. Her response was, “I’d love to come. Give me a reason.”
Tuesday, we emailed the Governor’s Press Secretary, Chrissy Pearson, to see exactly what she meant by that. Pearson wrote back, “The governor was asking for an invitation, basically. Give her a suggestion.”
So we did. WWAY News Director Scott Pickey officially invited Governor Perdue to come back at her earliest convenience to do a Live Q&A with one of our anchors. He even dedicated most of the 5:30 p.m. newscast to her interview. In essence, 30 minutes for the Governor to talk with voters of Wilmington and Southeastern North Carolina about local issues and during a time when her party just lost it’s majority in the legislature for the first time in more than a century.
Pearson replied, “I don’t know if we’ll be able to spend that much time with you, but I thank you for the invitation. We will also host media here in Raleigh soon for end of year stories. I hope you’ll be able to make it then, and I’ll be sure you receive details as soon as they are confirmed.”
The Governor has been around the political world for a while, such a response coupled with her poll numbers suggest she wasn’t really thinking or at least one can hope she wasn’t thinking. Here’s a simple reason Governor, it’s WILMINGTON!!!! It’s the port city that your Port’s Authority is trying to impose a massive new international port just south of, it’s the city that led North Carolina to be called the Tar Heel State, you don’t need a reason to come, just the desire!Read full article » No Comments »
State Senator-Elect Bill Rabon has been elected republican freshmen senate leader. We all wish him success in his new post and hope that he and Thom Goolsby, senator elect from New Hanover, will show true conservative leadership.
We will be checking in from time to time to see what progress is being made on the following issues:
- Forced Annexation – getting rid of it
- Charter Schools – getting rid of the cap
- Voter ID – Making sure we will have it
- Fair redistricting – Time will tell
There are many more, but this should be some of the low hanging fruit that our new GOP led legislature should be able to achieve quickly.Read full article » No Comments »
Just a strange news day. WAVE transit wants to go away from private and the Gov. wants universities to be more private. With budget cuts a certainty, the Governor said, ““We have to have the private sector come in and help pay for the research work. We have to reach out to the private sector and do it in a different way, where the state doesn’t do all the work.” Yes, she said it. It would be nice if she felt the same way about incentives, getting rid of them. Also be nice to hear her say that about k-12 education allowing more Charter schools. It would even be nice if she felt that way about the economy and find ways to promote small business creation by getting rid of costly regulations that prevent jobs or lowering taxes. Hope springs eternal. . .
But even as she expects help from the private sector, she avoided questions about Titan Cement which would have the resources to make such donations. I guess she only likes private companies that get incentives or provide special flights for candidates. Yeah, I wrote that.Read full article » No Comments »
On the one hand, one would think that privatization is a good thing, especially when it comes to mass transit. But nothing is at it seems when it comes to mass transit in NC. Wilmington wants to uncouple itself from its relationship with it’s private provider. But see if the details per state law and the uncoupling make sense to you. (from the StarNews)
Wave bus drivers and other workers are members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1328. Federal law requires once-private transit systems that became public – as Wave did – to recognize the collective bargaining rights of transit employees in perpetuity. And state law prohibits units of government from contracting with unions, so Wave must contract with an outside firm to run the system.
So there it is, not exactly private, but kind of, and a union, as required by law, w/ collective bargaining? Makes perfect sense. This becomes the “argument” to be used against privatization. But it’s a false one. Their answer is to change the law to allow them to be government run, entirely. That’s the wrong approach. What they should have done was allow the privatization to exclude unions. Then they could compare how they could do it with a company that actually would have to perform.
The funniest part of the article to me is that the “government” (in this case the transit system) is telling us that unions don’t work. ”Also, Eby (government official) pointed out, under the current system, Veolia (the unionized provider) doesn’t have much incentive to reduce overtime and other costs because it doesn’t have to pay the bills – the Public Transportation Authority does.”
Really, that’s what he said!! The press missed an opportunity to ask some serious questions about why the Authority would push for a more open and competitive process. They could even ask how there would be a stronger incentive for cost savings under the government run option. So what we end up with is a unionized system which isn’t efficient or a government run system that will never be efficient.Read full article » No Comments »
Ah, gee, “Budget cuts could slice into pier fund,” reports Shannan Bowen in the StarNews. A “fund pool” expected to pay for an extravagant proposed ocean pier in Carolina Beach might “dry up”—pool, dry up; get it? Anyway, the guv’s people asked state agencies to submit reduced spending proposals. That’s like asking sharks to give up a fresh seal kill. But finding all the currents of public money flowing through the salty seas of government is another story within the story.
For example, the N. C. Aquariums bureaucracy operates as a division of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Its share of proposed cuts is $1.4 million. But it gets funding from several sources: grants from other agencies (e.g. stormwater funds and Natural Heritage Trust funds) and admissions. I didn’t know this, but admissions fees have been funneled into a “special fund for capital projects”—such as buying land and building grandiose new structures.
If cuts happen (a big “IF”) cash from admissions will be diverted from this use to pay “staff salaries and other operating costs.” That makes sense. Shouldn’t taxpayers expect that fees collected be used to offset the subsidies they provide this agency instead of used to generate a bigger, more costly operation? But there’s always more money out there hidden in the depths of government; some that can be used for piers-to-nowhere.
An $800,000 grant could come from the Coastal Area Management Act, according to Donna Moffitt, director of the Ft. Fisher aquarium. Apparently, the scheme would help bail out big-spending Carolina Beach officials from the $4.3 million they obligated to others for land purchased to build a $16 million pier and an adjacent park.
Oh, well, a few million here and there—who cares? Incidentally, don’t expect a majority Republican state legislature to put a stop to the government shell-game that passes money around deceptively and willy-nilly. They didn’t object to Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, N. C.
That whale-sized project will cost $25 million—a 16,000-square-foot Leviathan pier with an aquarium, and even a banquet hall. This fishy scheme should be stopped before it expands along the coast.Read full article » 1 Comment »
Some astute observers of environmentalism say it’s a religious sect. Others believe it’s a new way for those who would resurrect failed socialist ideology. In a clinical sense it’s thought of as a societal cancer—a malignancy invading our cultural and economic tissue that, if left untreated, metastasizes throughout society. Fittingly, a dictionary definition of cancer is: “A pernicious, spreading evil.” These ideas alert us to the infectious nature of environmentalists’ insidious activities.
At this site we have on occasion explored the vast web of organizations that spread the virulent strain of environmentalism. Locally the Stop Titan Action Network represents a tiny anaplastic cell of this worldwide malignant growth; but the large web expands.
For example, the Sierra Club is one of 36 environmental nonprofits linked to the N. C. Coastal Federation. Its North Carolina chapter actively sponsors a “Beyond Coal Campaign,” fights UNC-Chapel Hill to abort its use of a coal-fired power plant, and works in the network to prevent the proposed Titan America cement plant in Castle Hayne. “The Sierra Club’s War on Coal” is exposed in a recent Capital Research Center article.
Another sticky string in the web, the Cape Fear River Watch (member of the Waterkeeper Alliance), joins with six other “Riverkeeper” groups to “strenuously oppose Duke Energy’s” proposed new coal-fired plant near Shelby, N. C.—one of its “major campaigns” reported in CFRW’s “Advocacy Center”—in addition to stopping the Titan America cement plant.
The CRC article concludes: “The economic damage created by the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign to date can still be reversed. But do policymakers have the will to fight back before it metastasizes?” We’ll see. They have the legislative radiation to reduce the immediate threats to our economic health from malignant environmentalism—but we will also need a large dose of preventative political medicine.Read full article » No Comments »
In channeling my best Capt. Kirk, I can envision that struggling Captain saying, “We. . must. . spend. . more!” Ok, but as you read this, you will laugh and think about it.
It “sounds horrible,” but the Brunswick County Department of Social Services (DSS) is powerless to spend all the crisis assistance funding in its queue if the state wants to redistribute some of it.
That’s actually a line from the State Port Pilot about DSS having to send money (taxpayer money) back to the state, funnier still. Commissioner Charles Warren might want to figure out where taxpayer money comes from and decide whether he has more of a right to it than do the folks who earn it.
Of the $358,000 for which DSS was authorized last year to spend on needy residents’ heating and cooling bills, the state notified the department that it would withhold and redistribute $195,000, said DSS finance officer Laurie Smith.
Hey, attention Brunswick County Commissioners, if you don’t spend the money, that doesn’t mean that spending it is a good idea. Consider that saving money is also a VERY good idea considering it belongs to the taxpayers. If the department isn’t spending the money, find out what they’re doing right, don’t accuse them of not servicing people.Read full article » No Comments »
Two years worth of investigating, years of illegal activities, millions of taxpayer dollars spent, thousands of hours of depositions, grand juries, two separate investigations (state and federal), a plea from a former aid that resulted in dozens of serious charges being dismissed. All of this and we get:
Easley entered an Alford plea to certifying a false campaign finance report, which is a felony offense. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to provide a DNA sample as a convicted felon, but he avoided any prison time.
Really? I remember the work that Don Carrington did over at Carolina Journal, amazing work, followed by more work by the N&O in Raleigh, all of which led to what would be serious problems for any ordinary citizen, but not this one. Obviously, this is no ordinary citizen, heckuva nice guy, but not ordinary by any stretch.
Was justice served here? I don’t think so and I suspect the collective slack jawed citizens of the state don’t either.Read full article » 1 Comment »
The Wilmington City Council has unanimously decided what to pursue with the next legislative session. The main problem is that it ignores the reality of the economic conditions, the holes in the state budget and that there was actually a historic election in November. A sampling of what they want (from the StarNews)
Money to maintain and improve roads and other infrastructure,
Fund the Cape Fear Skyway project at approx. $1m a week for 40 years,
Power to enact an additional sales tax to pay for transportation projects.
More film incentives by removing the cap on the amount of a highly paid actor’s salary,
Continue the policy of Forced Annexation
Authority to charge extra fees to bars to cover the police costs.
Public financing program for local elections.
Re-authorize Wilmington City Council to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction outside the city limits.
I simply loved newly elected Senator Thom Goolsby’s response to the council when showed the list. It was brief, “Ain’t gonna happen.” The council is clearly acting in the interests of the League of Municipalities and not the citizens of its great city.
Sadly, rather than act responsibly, the council has chosen to play politics at the worst of times. They could have reached out to have a good working relationship. Instead they chose to ignore the entirety of their citizens by choosing to pursue big spending, big government, and higher taxes.
Why not pursue achievable goals of ending mandates on cities and counties? Why not work towards ending incentives so that Wilmington can appeal on so many other levels to potential businesses? Why not ask for prioritizing road projects to alleviate traffic congestion between New Hanover and Brunswick counties? All over the nation, cities are actually cutting back, but not in Wilmington, a port city that seems to be out at sea.Read full article » 1 Comment »