It was predictable. Greedy local government operatives look for ways to thwart the will of the people for self-serving ends. Our state legislators properly fixed the unfair practice of forced annexation by municipalities in North Carolina. Now citizens have a voice and power to reject coveting their property through the avarice of city bureaucrats. So, statists scheme to get around the law. Legal action may be in the works. (link)
Wilmington City Mayor Bill Saffo whines that the General Assembly “arbitrarily changed the laws.” He resents it because this action deprived him of more revenue to support projects designed to prop up special downtown interests that he expects others to subsidize. What about the groundless decision by city officials to deprive citizens in the Monkey Junction area of some of their wealth?
Unfortunately, people previously, and capriciously, annexed must live with higher taxes. They should bring legal action for damages against the city. They are forced to subsidize a convention center, other downtown amenities, golf courses, tennis courts, bike paths, an expensive and wasteful busing system plus numerous other unnecessary projects.
The original purpose of annexation was to provide infrastructure and public safety services otherwise unavailable to adjacent unincorporated areas. Now annexed people are forced pay for all the fun and games deemed “quality of life” services—an illicit government role.
And statists deeply entrenched in a lobbying network to promote bigger government throw their weight against the interests of the majority of citizens. Kelli Kurkura, director of government affairs for the N. C. League of Municipalities, spreads the myth that current city dwellers subsidize outside residents “who use the services without paying their share of taxes.”
We “near-city” residents pay our share during occasional downtown visits. We pay state taxes for roads and streets, we pay parking fees and fines for parking in the wrong place at the wrong time, we pay sales taxes and we support private businesses that pay fees and taxes to the city.
Ms. Kukura said that all this “falls in the category of what is fair.” That’s true, but she’s only interested in what greedy city officials and her self-serving lobbying interests think fair—the annexation shakedown racket is grossly unfair to those who see no benefit from higher taxes.Read full article » No Comments »
The story is rather bizarre. The House Republicans did some heavy lifting to the consternation of House Democrats when they overwhelmingly voted to cap the gas tax at 35-cents per gallon. In fact, many democrats voted to cap the tax. They clearly weren’t happy about doing so, but the total of 96 votes cast to end it show broad bi-partisan support.
Representative Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) doesn’t feel the tax is high enough and voted to allow the tax to go up 4-cents per gallon. The move would make NC the 6th highest gas tax in the nation and the highest in the southeast. In fact, the highest at any point between New York and California.
Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) had the most bizarre quotes on this issue. The Senate did NOT take up the gas tax issue and instead dismissed their folks without even considering it. Rabon could have said nothing, but instead said, ”I’m not going to be one to say, ‘Hey I’m the guy who saved you $23 on gasoline taxes, and I’m really sorry about the school bus that your kid was on that fell through the bridge that we didn’t repair.’ ”
He went on to call the attempt to cap the tax a “political stunt.”
Many feel the gas tax is a “fair” tax because everyone pays it, BUT when the tax is being used to make sure the train between Raleigh and Charlotte is 13-minutes faster or to fund the Skyway Bridge, it flushes that argument down the Cape Fear. We also have to look at the legislative nepotism that is alive and well in NCDOT.Read full article » No Comments »
I had posted here that several NC counties were pursuing local voter ID laws including Gov. Perdue’s home county of Craven. Gaston County sent their resolution statewide. Thus far, we’ve heard nothing from Brunswick, New Hanover or Pender about this issue, but Columbus has spoken (per the Whiteville News Reporter):
While some commissioners did not want to take action on a request that the county call on legislators to introduce a local bill to push for voter identification requirements in the state, the full board agreed Monday to vote “no” on the measure rather than take it under advisement. Gene McNeil was opposed to the voter ID measure. “Everyone in this room knows the purpose that everyone has for voter ID laws. If something is not broken, why fix it? Don’t bother it.” McNeil said. McNeil said there have been no such voting problems in the county.
I truly appreciate that Commissioner McNeil doesn’t see problems in the home county of RC Soles. I’m still laughing. Also funny that commissioner McNeil can’t be honest with the public about the “everyone in this rooms knows the purpose. . ” part of his quote. And the press didn’t ask him to clarify his absurd comment either.
A little reminder for Commissioner McNeil and the rest of the Columbus County commissioners via WECT back in 2008:
COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A state elections official says voters were lead to the polls like sheep to a slaughter. Friday, residents held signs outside the State Board of Elections hearing in Whiteville, and inside the meeting room voters spoke out. Barry Worley said voter fraud was rampant in Tabor City during the race. Election chairman Jesse Graham told precinct officials not to question voters who asked for help, contrary to what law allows. The board admits Columbus County has election problems, but they can’t find enough evidence to change the results.
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We spent Thanksgiving weekend with family in Shallotte a few miles north of the great state of South Carolina. When travelling there we always plan to fill the gas tank with less expensive fuel; this time priced at $3.03 per gallon, whereas gasoline just across the border in North Carolina was 25 cents more. Taxes explain some of the difference.
At the time of this writing (Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 8:15) our General Assembly meets for a two-day pow-wow in Raleigh. (link) Taxes may get “new scrutiny,” according to an article in the Wilmington StarNews. N. C. state tax is 35 cents per gallon; S. C. gasoline tax is less than half that.
Bureaucrats get nervous and threaten negative consequences when they face reduced funds. N. C. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Greer Beaty said that capping or decreasing the gas tax would require revising their priority list of road construction. She said, “There will be things we won’t be able to do.” Let’s hope so. Dr. Michael Sanera of the John Locke Foundation has some ideas on that.(link)
First, our political Heroes should cease to transfer “Highway Trust” funds into their “General” slush-fund. Since 1990 they have diverted nearly $4 billion from roads to other spending. Second, they should stop the “spoils” system. Transportation money is sprinkled over the state political landscape rather than piped to highest need congested areas.
Dr. Sanera also recommends DOT reform. Departments should be reduced and merged; planning and design should be competitively contracted; and the Board of Transportation should be downsized and less powerful— advisory only.
Finally, mass transit disproportionately sucks up resources into wasteful attempts by planners to “reshape cities,” writes Sanera. For example, billions of dollars have been wasted on rail transit in the Triangle area that carries only about 1 percent of the traveling public. Here in Wilmington public busing takes 13 percent of our transportation funds and serves less than 1 percent of local commuters. These are bad investments of taxpayer’s hard-earned money.
Our legislators should soon fix these problems to help relieve our pains at the pump and on the road.Read full article » No Comments »
Wilmington| Greenhouse gases are building fast and levels must be reduced, according to the U. S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported by the Associated Press. (link) A new environmental activist group came to Wilmington this week to spread the alarm.
Mindy Mudlhead addressed Occupy Wilmington members standing in line to use the restrooms at Thalian Hall. Ms. Mudlhead, interim director of “Friends of our Living Space,” serves in the absence of the late Joe Jurc who died during a demonstration last Friday in Seattle. FOOLS is associated with the Sierra Club.
FOOLS promotes a program designed to reduce carbon dioxide. Exhaling releases vast amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and threatens our existence with global warming. “We must all restrict our breathing to save the planet. If everyone would stop breathing it could have an impact,” according to Mudlhead.
The goal of FOOLS is for people to hold their breath for three minutes every hour; 20 million tons of carbon could be reduced annually according to studies by FOOLS.
Ms. Mudlhead asked OW to observe a moment of silence for Joe Jurc who died of a heart attack while trying to break the world record of six minutes for holding one’s breath. “Joe made the ultimate sacrifice for Mother Earth,” said Mindy.Read full article » No Comments »
It’s a legit question highlighted today at the News&Observer:
Rowan and Craven county commissioners passed resolutions Monday evening in support of local bills that would allow them to require voter ID at the polls. The counties are asking for the legislation after Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a statewide voter ID bill and the legislature failed to get enough votes for an override.
Craven is particularly troubling as that is the Gov’s home county. Methinks the commissions in this area might give this issue a wide berth, but it they should seriously consider doing it. At the very least this should be a discussion on their agenda so that their constituents know how they feel about the matter.
Democrats continue to maintain that actually knowing who is voting is bad for democracy in some way. U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield spoke out against Craven County’s move. ”I am disappointed that the Craven County Board of Commissioners is among the latest to join a nationwide Republican-led initiative to suppress voting rights,” he said in a statement to the New Bern Sun Journal.
Simple suggestion, dear commissioners, add the discussion to your agendas. It amazes me still that proving you can legally vote is somehow a threat to your freedom.Read full article » No Comments »
Before we go about spending millions of taxpayer dollars on an energy platform that only works when the wind is blowing or not blowing too fast, consider this:
Minnesotans for Global Warming report that in the last 30 years, the United States has had 14,000 wind turbines abandoned. Andrew Walden of American Thinker explored nearly 2 years ago the demise of the 37-turbine wind farm at Kamaoa Wind Farm in Hawaii: “Built in 1985, at the end of the boom, Kamaoa soon suffered from lack of maintenance. In 1994, the site lease was purchased by Redwood City, CA-based Apollo Energy. Cannibalizing parts from the original 37 turbines, Apollo personnel kept the declining facility going with outdated equipment. But even in a place where wind-shaped trees grow sideways, maintenance issues were overwhelming. By 2004 Kamaoa accounts began to show up on a Hawaii State Department of Finance list of unclaimed properties. In 2006, transmission was finally cut off by Hawaii Electric Company.California’s wind farms — then comprising about 80% of the world’s wind generation capacity — ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.”
Oops! 14,000! That’s a lot of “wasted” energy AND money! Keep in mind, many progressives want thousands of these turbines (some as high as 500 ft) to be sitting right off the coast of Wilmington and have solicited the support of EVERY city council and county commission in the area.
The folks at John Locke are holding a seminar on the issue at UNCW on December 5th. More information at this link.Read full article » No Comments »
On our right to property rests the foundation of personal freedom. Government planning, including control of property, threatens that freedom. Those who believe that government must control more property are on the wrong side of our history as free people. We’re reminded, again, of this by a Wilmington StarNews article: “New Hanover County owns almost 4,000 acres containing cemeteries, museums, office buildings, parking lots and an array of other entities”—and more planned. (link)
Friedrich A. Hayek in his intellectual and insightful book, “The Road to Serfdom” warned that the U.S. and England were headed down the same destructive socialist path that “destroyed freedom in Germany.” Dr. Hayek noted that “people of good will” who allowed socialist policies, prepared the way for fascism and Nazism; “a necessary outcome of those tendencies.”
I can hear it now: “Oh, come on Smith. The county commissioners aren’t fascistic by planning to add more government-controlled property to their inventory.”
Of course, that’s not the intention, but statist’s plans often lead to unintended consequences. They start in small increments. The evidence may be obscure, but plans to control more private property indicates the expectation to expand the size and power of government.
As Dr. Hayek has noted, socialists believe that “economic planning” should substitute for the competitive system. To achieve their ends, planners must create power, says Hayek. Their success depends on the extent to which they achieve power—the more control of property, the further they move toward that goal.
Evidence of the insidious nature of their activities can be seen at every level of government: county, municipal, state and federal politicians all support bureaucratic planning staff. Their plans slowly, almost inextricably, lead us to socialism.
Government bureaucrats, such as County Manager Bruce Shell, continue to direct our elected officials along the dangerous socialistic path beginning with self-serving interests. Shell has said, “I’m not anxious to sell anything.” That may seem to be an innocuous statement, but think what it implies about his intentions and future plans for bigger government.Read full article » No Comments »
Wilmington| The state-run Port of Wilmington contributes to environmental destruction and health hazards, according to a spokeswoman for Stop the Port, a subsidiary of Stop Titan. Prunella Pureheart spoke to an Occupy Wilmington group huddled in tents near Thalian Hall Friday night. She said that Riverkeeper Sam Snoop had seen containers of logs being fumigated with a chemical as he paddled his kayak down the Cape Fear River past the port located in the city.
Mr. Snoop became alarmed when he noticed that the ozone layer above the fumigation site was disappearing. A Wilmington pediatrician announced on his website that methyl bromide is toxic and children will die from “central nervous system and respiratory system failure.” Residents and tourists in New Hanover County and for miles around will be exposed to “severe effects on the lungs, eyes and skin,” said Ms. Pureheart. (link)
Even worse, said Snoop, Southern yellow pine trees are being cut down and brought to the port to be fumigated. Southern pines are home to the elusive spotted pine borer that environmentalists hope to have added to the federal government Endangered Species list. Killing these important insects will threaten forest diversity, and trees are being destroyed for no good reason, he said.
Pureheart told three, apparently sober, Occupy Wilmington members that capitalists working with the port are responsible for OW concerns: bankers that expect student loans to be repaid; businesses failing to provide them high wages, free health care and generous pensions; and employer demands that they work more than 30 hours a week for full pay.
No comments from representatives of the Royal Fumigation Company, the logging company, truckers, shippers or employees contacted.Read full article » No Comments »
Just as the mythical Egyptian bird Phoenix that lived in the desert for 500 years consumed itself by fire and rose from the ashes, the Wilmington StarNews Editorial Board cheers that an arts council “will rise from the ashes”—without local government funding. Meanies on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners and the Wilmington City Council refused to distribute taxpayer’s money to a new art bureaucracy. (link)
However, editors advise that the arts group “shouldn’t give up on local government funding.” Naturally. This organization can survive only as another parasite on our community. Although promoters hype widespread imagined economic benefits, that’s far from proven.
Editors claim that without a taxpayer funded council of arts there’s no way to “showcase our diverse arts community.” An obvious question: If promoters of “economic investment” here will support this project with private money, why should taxpayers subsidize it? Clearly few people see this as a business bonanza. Government projects rarely can be dubbed “investment”—they usually divert wealth from productive uses.
Editors, with bizarre assumptions, seem almost desperate to promote an arts council. For example, they say that businesses will pay high wages in places with “creative, skilled workers” and “a vibrant cultural scene,” implying that government subsidized arts will attract business.
Ironically, editorial editors do not welcome a large international company that will hire creative, skilled workers and pay high wages. Carolinas Cement Company did not seek to establish here because of the “arts community.” Rather, they will come to create wealth by mining and processing valuable natural resources into useful products. To the elite, subsidized esoteric art trumps creating manufactured wealth that improves the quality of life for many.
One arts council promoter, Phil Gerard, UNCW professor of creative writing, reports that 6 percent of all county jobs “are in arts-related fields.” Probably a large number of those exist at the university; another heavily taxpayer-subsidized fine arts project.
Personally, I doubt that most citizens hereabouts agree with the editorial board that local government officials “must acknowledge” that the taxpayers should pay to nurture a “vibrant arts community.” Like the Phoenix, this arts council bird also will probably self-destruct, but could be salvaged from ashes by irresponsible politicians. We’ll see.Read full article » No Comments »