While our business people struggle to keep their doors open and retain employees to offer goods and services that provide us with a high “quality of life,” government jobs give subsidized security for many and remove wealth from our economy. Hundreds of billions of federal “stimulus” money has been off-loaded on the states’ political class eager to bail themselves out of their profligate spending on bigger government with more employees. Now it’s time for reality checks. Citizens rightly demand that irresponsible actions during the past few years must be curtailed and spending brought back to more reasonable levels.
Our current North Carolina legislators, sent to Raleigh by fed-up voters, try to right the foundering ship-of-state by trimming back the overblown spending sails. Statist “stakeholders” in Big Government practice their “education.” demagogy with fear-tactics and irrationality. Recently, the Wilmington StarNews “editorial board” wailed about “Draconian cuts proposed,” and a budget that “deals a crippling blow to public education.”
Editors claim that this would be a “real job killer.” Yet there’s no evidence that budget paring will necessarily result in many teachers or teacher assistants (“13,000”) losing their jobs. Legislators tell us that most of the public education “suffering” likely will be losing some administrators (good riddance), normal attrition and unfilled vacant positions. Even some high school students could point out low priority spending in every public school system that could be eliminated or reduced. Editors also tell us that Senate Republican “stinginess” will send “a lot of other state workers to the unemployment line”—necessary, but not likely.
Editors don’t cite specifics to justify more public education jobs. Instead they make some vague, uninformed comments: “Education is the key to attracting businesses” (taxes and regulations are more important) and North Carolina “ranks 46th in per-pupil spending” (spending has diminishing returns and is less important than cultural factors).
Meanwhile local officials take pride in keeping public employment high. Government agencies solicit employees. For example, WAVE Transit does its part to offer attractive wages and unreasonably generous personal benefits to add more government jobs.
If you want “competitive wages,” with group health insurance (including dental), sick leave, paid vacation, holiday pay, 401k and/or “North Carolina Local Government Employee Retirement System, uniforms and “Employee Assistance Program”(whatever that is) benefits you can send an application and/or resume via email or Fax (WAVE will accept resumes without an application for administrative positions).
Oh, and you can choose your own language from a list of over 50: Afrikaans to Yiddish.Read full article » 1 Comment »
The Town of Oak Island is rushing into the “green” business with algae.
Oak Island’s Green Initiative Advisory Board recently engineered a partnership between the town and a local scientist to begin the process of creating a green energy business park. . . the council unanimously approved the committee’s recommendation to work with algae farm owner and scientist Kim Jones to create Sustainable Mariculture and Renewable Technologies, or SMART, at the town’s Bill Smith Park on Fish Factory Road.
But here’s more about Jones:
Jones has several state and local grants to put in solar panels and wind turbines. A master of business administration student from N.C. State University is now preparing a business plan for SMART, which will consist of a variety of green energy demonstrations and other green businesses, Jones said.
The piece (here at the StarNews) is interesting, but MISSING many important facts. First, it never mentions how many tax dollars went into ANY of the “green” subsidies which leads folks to believe it was just free money or had no cost. It also negates to discuss the actual return on investment. The key to efficiency is always cost versus use. Many green projects NEVER have a return on investment and that’s the problem. As long as they are subsidized with taxpayer money it’s technically cheaper to not be green. Here’s hoping that Oak Island will take a look at actual green cost (taxpayer dollars) versus the “green” promises.Read full article » 1 Comment »
How dangerous would cell phones have to become for folks to stop using them in society? I think it’s an interesting question and I’m not about to advocate for the abolishment of cell phones on potential health hazards (other than texting while driving, ick!)
LONDON (AP) — An international panel of experts says cellphones are possibly carcinogenic to humans after reviewing details from dozens of published studies. The group classified cellphones in category 2B, meaning they are possibly carcinogenic to humans. Other substances in that category include the pesticide DDTand gasoline engine exhaust.
Hmm. . so that means the DDT that might avert millions of childhood deaths due to malaria MIGHT cause cancer and gasoline exhaust MIGHT cause cancer, but they can’t prove it. Will you stop driving your car over a “might cause” issue? But there’s more.
The study was controversial because it began with people who already had cancer and asked them to recall how often they used their cellphones more than a decade ago. In about 30 other studies done in Europe, New Zealand and the U.S., patients with brain tumors have not reported using their cellphones more often than unaffected people.
So this is what passes for science now? And will Big Brother outlaw them? Don’t laugh. . .
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An interesting piece was published in the Wall Street Journal about the over-hyped fears of mercury poisoning. Here’s one excerpt about the occurrences of mercury in the environment:
Mercury has always existed naturally in Earth’s environment. A 2009 study found mercury deposits in Antarctic ice across 650,000 years. Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and trees, which absorb it from the environment. This is why our bodies evolved with proteins and antioxidants that help protect us from this and other potential contaminants.
Another defense comes from selenium, which is found in fish and animals. Its strong attraction to mercury molecules protects fish and people against buildups of methylmercury, mercury’s biologically active and more toxic form. Even so, the 200,000,000 tons of mercury naturally present in seawater have never posed a danger to any living being.
How do America’s coal-burning power plants fit into the picture? They emit an estimated 41-48 tons of mercury per year. But U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons; Chinese power plants eject 400 tons; and volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other sources spew out 9,000-10,000 additional tons per year.
It is important to look at the actual levels of mercury present. These are facts you won’t see in the local media and they are worth noting. It will be easy to castigate someone as presenting balance as “pro-Titan” which is simply not the case, but pretending that we’re getting a balanced argument on the Titan situation is simply folly.
And what does ACTUAL research on the dangers of mercury exposure have to say?
According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which actively monitors mercury exposure, blood mercury counts for U.S. women and children decreased steadily from 1999-2008, placing today’s counts well below the already excessively safe level established by the EPA. A 17-year evaluation of mercury risk to babies and children by the Seychelles Children Development Study found “no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects” in children who eat several servings of ocean fish every week, much more than most Americans do.
Again, I’m hopeful that both sides will have the temerity to actual discuss facts, but it’s doubtful. The entire piece can be seen here.Read full article » No Comments »
Downtown Wilmington “stakeholder groups” squabble over how to attract more people to “shop, eat and stay over-night,” reported by Shannan Bowen of the StarNews. During the past year reporters looked at the “Downtown Direction.” Is it going up or down? From my perspective it’s gone in the wrong direction. Grandiose, expensive government-sponsored projects have failed to remake the quaint old river city into the visionary’s utopia for large steady crowds of people coming to buy stuff, overeat and transact business (while, of course, paying high fees and taxes for the privilege in a restrictive environment).
A few miles east exists the model for the statist’s quest (annexed by city officials to subsidize their downtown projects), but without their government meddling. Modern boulevards bring long lines of cars to Mayfaire Town Center, The Forum and other nearby places that offer space, goods and services that people seek. This suburban complex sprang up on overgrown, worn-out farmland.
Except for roads and other infrastructure, none of the vibrant activities here are government related. Nearby Airlie Gardens, another government project, attracts few people and takes millions of dollars out of our economy. Private developers saw an opportunity to serve customers. With realistic vision they created useful, convenient and attractive space for stores, restaurants, shops, housing, offices and hotels—even a large theater.
In contrast to crowds of people freely seeking benefits from these private enterprises, Wilmington Downtown Inc. stages concerts which is “about driving people downtown” (as opposed to drawing them downtown), according to WDI Executive Director John Hinnant.
This attitude reveals the statist’s view of us as sheep to be herded and directed for their self-serving purposes; contrasted with private enterprising people who respect us by offering choices to provide what individuals need and want; where and how we want them–incidentally, while trying to overcome excessive costs imposed by government regulations and restrictions.
Could it be that a coercive-approach (threats of increased taxing) rather than free-will offerings based on individual choice is because WDI “is tied to city government more so than (other groups)”—observed by the StarNews reporter?
In my view, this is another all too common example of the truth expressed, I think, by the late President Ronald Reagan. Paraphrasing: “Government is not the solution, government is the problem.”Read full article » No Comments »
WAVE Transit survives on a vast, complex multi-government funding scheme—money comes from numerous purveyors of the public purse with a large share from federal and state grants. About a quarter of operating revenues comes from “Primary Government” (city and county) and “other governments,” according to a chart in the May 2011 “Service Expansion and Long Range Financial Plan,” posted on the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority website. It’s a massive, but financially wobbly-wheeled vehicle.
No wonder WAVE officials have been unnerved by questions from city council and proposed changes about the distribution of $1.2 million of city taxpayer’s money. This system is unsustainable without increasingly large subsidies from all levels of government—Albert Eby, WAVE executive director, admitted it’s “impossible” to operate without local, up front cash.
The urban mass transit scheme starts with bureaucratic decisions by the Federal Transit Administration, cash infusions based on the whims of Congress and federal census numbers. When a population exceeds 200,000 the federal bureaucrats designate a Transportation Management Area (TMA). Of course, federal funding to states comes with a local cost. When our officials take the bait, they get hooked; or rather, we the people get caught.
Meanwhile, anticipating more loot, Transit operatives plan expanded services, capital spending projects—such as Forden Station, the Downtown Multimodal Transportation Center and an “operations and maintenance facility”—and plot to get more local money.
The CF Public Transportation Authority expects capital replacement costs to “rise significantly over the next five years”—by about $11 million. It is written: A “plan for providing local matching funds is crucial.” Something “crucial” to a government bureaucracy will inevitably result in permanent pain for taxpayers.
In this case, CFPTA officials want the New Hanover County commissioners to authorize a “registration fee of $7.00 per vehicle” for the “exclusive benefit of public transportation initiatives”—meaning that about 158,000 private vehicle owners will be required to further subsidize the inefficient and wasteful WAVE Transit with an additional $1.1 million.
As expected, County Commissioner (and Authority member) Jonathan Barfield says, “I think it’s the right thing to do.” Barfield arrogantly assumes this authority based on a pompous and misguided 2009 state House bill (148) titled: “Congestion Relief and Intermodal Transportation 21st Century Fund.” Our representatives in Raleigh should post haste repeal this onerous law, in my humble opinion.Read full article » No Comments »
StarNews staff report that the state senate proposes to spend “$129 million more overall than the House does,” but editors spin the headline as “Senate budget proposal trims taxes, class sizes” and online “GOP leaders would cut 20,000 government jobs.” In the text of the article we read: “it’s unclear how many of those are filled and whether local districts have used the money to hire teachers.” In other words, these headlines mislead or may be untrue. More important news of negative impact on our economy comes from the opposition Party.
Gov. Perdue and Democrats want to spend hundreds of millions more by keeping higher taxes (those promised to expire) in order to balance the budget. And she threatens to veto a proposed budget that does not increase taxes.
Still, it’s interesting that our Senate legislators seem to be bigger spenders than our House representatives. They will continue funding environmental positions that work to impose harmful regulations on our economy. For example, under the Senate budget the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources regional office here in Wilmington would get $500,000 for staffing that the House budget eliminated, according to the StarNews article.
The Senate proposal only slightly reduces funding—15 percent—to “Grassroots” museums that, in my opinion, should be shut down. And the three state aquaria will get more than $7.5 million from the general fund. If they are such popular tourist attractions, they should be self-sustaining with admission receipts. However, they compete with private attractions and, at present, aquaria officials dump those millions into a self-serving fund to expand their operations and exhibitions at further expense to the state citizens.
To their credit, the senators propose to eliminate funding for some foolishly wasteful projects: an “oyster sanctuary program,” a multi-county “animal waste pilot program” and three questionable (and probably unaccountable) “public education” programs.
However, the Senate budget restores four of five positions for a “shellfish mapping program”—a highly suspect government jobs (and likely with an environmental regulatory agenda) program. Funding reductions will still leave the “shellfish rehabilitation,” “oyster shell recycling” and “oyster sanctuary construction” projects temporarily on taxpayer life-support—probably expanding forever.
Finally, the Senate budget cuts $1 million from state tourism advertising and marketing funding, but leaves a $7.4 million tax burden on citizens for this not shown to be justified spending.Read full article » No Comments »
The debate about protecting private property on the coast in North Carolina continues. A General Assembly bill (S110) rests with legislative conferees.
Back in March I wrote about this and, as far as I know, nothing has changed. I stand by my view below:
Our saviors of the environment march to the coast with crusading banners flying. The N. C. Coastal Federation leads the parade of the indignant who wrap themselves in green flags—proposing to save us from ourselves. Federation literature tells us that allowing “hard structures” on the coast “will force us on a never-ending and escalating crusade to hold back the sea. Our public beaches will be destroyed in the process.”
Presumably, state Senate Bill 110 that would authorize said structures will eliminate beach life as we know it. There are at least two problems with this (another) scare campaign by the NCCF.
Findings of the state Coastal Resources Commission in a recent report of a terminal groin study reveal a big problem with the NCCF claims. Its “Recommendations” dated April 1, 2010, show no evidence of the destruction claimed by the Federation (Tracy Skrabal, now an activist with NCCF, was on the study steering subcommittee).
Briefly, the CRC study stated that these structures “can be effective in controlling erosion”; groins prevent natural “overwash and inlet migration”; loss of habitat is negligible. In fact, the rocky “hardbottom” material would add “diversity” (an environmentalist’s imperative) to the sandy ocean floor.
Overall the study group found that it is “difficult to draw conclusions on the effects associated with a terminal groin…”; the effects on wildlife and the natural environment “could not be isolated from the effects” of beach nourishment; structural impacts on adjacent shorelines were “difficult to discern if they exist at all….” It was “not possible to definitively conclude” that accretion and erosion on shorelines resulted from the construction of terminal groins. And what about the beach-destroying Senate bill?
Look at it. It seems to be very specific, restrictive and addresses the CRC recommendations. Getting a permit requires: being consistent with all other laws; finding that “nonstructural approaches” are impractical; an environmental impact statement; a certified engineer’s design; notification of property owners and government officials; an inlet management plan (including mitigation of negative impacts or removal of the structure if they can’t be mitigated); and “identification of the financial resources or funding sources necessary to construct the terminal groin….” (Federation propaganda claims that this bill “would allow state funds for these groins.” I saw no explicit language in the bill about authorizing public funding, only the above statement that funding must be identified.) Finally, the permit must be approved by the U. S. Secretary of Commerce.
The Federation statements are at best misleading and at worst wildly separated from the facts as I have found them.Read full article » No Comments »
Albert Eby, executive director of the Cape Fear Transportation Authority, expects his $1.2 million from the city of Wilmington up front each year in July. Otherwise it will be “impossible” to manage public transportation hereabouts—mostly WAVE Transit buses.
Apparently, it’s impossible for him to manage this system even with full funding at the start of the fiscal year because he “comes back year after year for loans from the city” when he runs out of money, according to a Wilmington StarNews article by Shelby Sebens.
The city council wants to “distribute (taxpayer) funds” to him quarterly, presumably to hold Mr. Eby a little more accountable for the large sum he receives. Councilwoman Laura Padgett—Wilmington’s Miss Transit—says not to worry; the agency always pays back the loans.
With nearly $7.3 million of taxpayer’s money distributed to the WAVE system this year (a million dollars more than last budget), it seems Eby could run a tighter ship, or rather, buses—some of which lumber about town, belching smoke, interfering with traffic and hiding evidence of few passengers behind darkened windows.
However, as with all government projects, salaries and benefits, cost overruns, replacement equipment, new buildings, expanding service and maintenance grow rapidly. In this case, the WAVE over wash threatens to swamp us all with a tsunami of spending.Read full article » No Comments »
As predicted, affidavits are now public that show Judge Ola Lewis (R-Brunswick) was directly involved with the order by Judge Jerry Jolly (D-Columbus) to stop the traffic court from proceeding under DA Jon David (R-Brunswick). Lewis has refused comment saying it would violate her judicial actions in some way. But her actions on this front are documented by law enforcement. (From the information submitted to the NC Court of Appeals)
23. Deputy Charlie Miller is the Chief Deputy for the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.
24. On April 15, 2011, between 11:30 a.m. and noon, Miller received a phone call from Judge Ola Lewis. Miller was asked to
go to her office and serve an Administrative Order.
25. At the time Miller received Judge Lewis‘s call, he was conducting a criminal investigation into a DWI traffic fatality. He was the ranking law enforcement official present on the scene in Ocean Isle Beach, where a woman was killed by a grossly impaired driver.
26. Miller informed Judge Lewis that he was busy with the fatality investigation, but that he would come to her chambers
as soon as possible.
27. Miller asked Judge Lewis who the Administrative Order was to be served upon, and Judge Lewis stated that she did not want to tell Miller this information over the phone.
28. Miller drove to the Brunswick County Courthouse and went directly to Judge Lewis’s chambers.
29. Judge Lewis gave Miller a copy of an Administrative Order signed by Judge Jolly.
30. At no time did Miller see or speak to Judge Jolly concerning the Administrative Order.
31. Judge Lewis instructed Miller to serve the Order on District Attorney Jon David and to bring a copy back to her.
32. Miller went to Mr. David’s Office in an effort to serve the Order.
33. Miller served the Order, which had not yet been filed with the Clerk of Court, on District Attorney Jon David.
34. Miller took the original Order to the Clerk of Court, who filed it at 2:23 p.m. on April 15, 2011.
How will the Brunswick GOP folks react to this? What will it mean in the case moving forward with the NC Court of Appeals? This has the makings of a great deal of political discomfort in Brunswick County. Another prediction, Judge Lewis will be a no show at the “Stop Public Corruption” rally in Columbus on Thursday. Much more of this situation is documented over at WWAY.Read full article » No Comments »