Credit where credit is due: The Wilmington StarNews offers a valuable public service in its ELECTION2012 series profiling candidates for local offices (not found online). Probably most people know little or nothing about these people and find politics a confusing and confounding sport (maybe why local officials usually get elected by less than 20 percent of voters).
Too bad, but citizens should know the background and thinking of those who want to influence governments that often run roughshod over us. Unfortunately, most wannabe “leaders” join-the-club and become part of the problems we face with overactive, overextended and overbearing laws, spending, taxation and regulations. Even candidates proclaiming to be “conservative” usually submit to the government leviathan.
For the past twenty years here near River City, I’ve heard the mantra: “We have to get rid of the good old boys in local politics.” I think that most citizens instinctively know that many of our political class get imbedded with government bureaucracies and essentially represent them at our expense—we are “The Forgotten Man” written about by Amity Shlaes in her brilliant book by that title—a history of the first great depression under President Roosevelt.
Of the six Republican candidates for New Hanover County Board of Commissioners profiled by the StarNews only one, Frank Meares, has apparently not held political office or served with government bureaucracies.
Beth Dawson has not held elected office, but ran for the N. C. House in 2010 and “served” at several government agencies: the NHC medical center, the Cape Fear Museum of History and the N. C. Regional Economic Development Commission. Derrick Hickey is on the NH County Board of Education. (One could argue that this is not political, but education topics seem always embroiled in political discourse.)
Claud O’Shields, Jr., former NH County commissioner for twelve years, brags about “expanding” the library system, “establishing” the Senior Center and the Parks and Recreation Department; all questionable government operations that serve special interest groups and compete with private businesses. Jason Thompson was a Wilmington city councilman and is now a county commissioner. He says he’s focused on county government “investment in baseball” downtown. Finally, Woody White was a N. C. state senator briefly in 2004.
Regardless of where candidates say they stand foursquare, once in office they often morph into agents of government rather than representatives of the people. Call me a cynic; but when we play a game of chance the house wins more often than do we—politics as usual is the name of this game.Read full article » No Comments »
We celebrate fools during the month of April. On April 1st April Fools’ Day, some people in various countries around the world play “practical jokes” on one another.
Practical joke n. A mischievous trick, esp. one that causes embarrassment, indignity, or discomfort. An April Fool is the victim, or the joke or trick. Then on April 22 some suffer the indignity of Earth Day.
Earth Day should be an embarrassment to Americans. It’s the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, founder of the infamous former Soviet Union. Earth Day was hatched by the late Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. (link)
Sen. Nelson was a land preservationist and environmental statist—the “grandfather” of federal regulations and the Environmental Protection Act that now strictly control virtually all of our activities on land and water.
Nelson patterned the Earth Day idea after the anti-Vietnam War protests: “teach-ins” that would “force” the environmental agenda into national politics. Earth Day opened on April 22, 1970. (link) University academics rallied radical student activists to the cause. Nelson’s activism followed the socialist decrees of Lenin that all natural resources belonged to the state. Brian Sussman has written about this in a book titled, Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda will Dismantle America. (link)
It’s easy to enlist public officials such as library and museum staff to promote this activity. Probably few of them know the history of Earth Day—misguided, they see it as just another benign celebration that will focus attention on their facility. For example, locally, the Bellamy Mansion Museum has an Earth Day event scheduled. (link)
Of course, the Bellamy family history (link) has nothing to do with “sustainability” or attempts to “make a difference.” These meaningless words have been fudged into our language by collectivists who, according to their utopian visions, want to change the way free people live.
Knowing the ugly Soviet history it’s surprising anyone would want to celebrate a day connected with it. However, as Kevin DeAnna of World Net Daily has written: “Despite the mainstreaming of Lenin’s anniversary celebration, left-wing activists honor the true history of the holiday by attacking property rights and human economic activity.”Read full article » No Comments »
It’s a shame that the Wilmington StarNews Editorial Board continually agitates malice toward people who came to this area with good intentions, high hopes and offering mutual benefits; people who love their work and believe it worthy at Carolinas Cement Company.
The editorial writer revisits the issue of slanderous and defamatory comments made publicly (“statements containing some inaccuracies, but that were delivered in good faith,” she writes) against the company people by two local community activists. Inaccuracies? Good faith? (link)
There’s a big definitional gap between false and malicious statements injurious to reputations of the Titan people and mistaken or incorrect statements. It’s shameful that editors who should know better find little distinction between intentional lies and errors. And “delivered in good faith”? Please. Do they think that their readers can’t recognize right from wrong?
I believe it’s clear to even casual readers that for several years activists have relentlessly accused Titan people of planning to destroy the regional environment and kill children. It’s no mistake that small, organized groups of activists try to impugn the reputation of the Titan folks. Part of a larger cabal, they hate anyone connected with developing our natural resources and will do almost anything to stop them.
And for what? Carolinas Cement workers came here in good faith. They intend no harm to anyone. They plan to produce a legal, valuable product—willingly under strict regulations imposed by several government agencies.
It’s shameful that editors and others try to damage the character and intentions of the Titan people. They don’t deserve this malicious treatment and have been surprisingly patient with it. But we all have limits for tolerating hostile personal acts against us.Read full article » No Comments »
This StarNews editorial is actually a pretty fair synopsis of what is going on. The current assumed scenario is that the Braves/ Braves/Mandalay/CAPSTRAT (BMC) will have rich folks finance the stadium so that Wilmington can defray the cost over thirty years instead of twenty. Taxpayers would still owe everything, the Braves would still have NO obligation to stay in Wilmington and the “investors” make 7%-9% on their “investment” because cities don’t tend to default.
It’s a win-win for BMC and fools the taxpayers (which will be CAPSTRAT’s goal since the taxpayers are the problem that needs to be solved.)
The city wants to hire Ripken Design to determine if the ballpark is “feasible” economically. That’s hilarious. Does anyone really think that a firm with one of the most stellar names in baseball history (Ripken) will EVER say that a stadium isn’t feasible? Heck, they’d tell Spivey’s Corner that a baseball stadium would work. Oh, and the city plans to go $50k OVER budget this year on this proposal even though they don’t have enough police officers to provide public safety to the PUBLIC!
Make no mistake, I’m not remotely angry at Ripken, it’s a great company, but to think they will be objective with respect to taxpayers on this one is ludicrous.
Oh, and the stadium would still be considered taxpayer owned so it would generate ZERO property taxes. Parking would also generate zero tax dollars.
One would have though that BMC would have come to the table saying they were getting involved in little league, investing in something here in Wilmington. So far they have not wanted to spend ONE dime until the city commits the taxpayers to them. The KISS THE RING attitude is not helping their cause. And the city council has thus far been mute to the taxpayer concerns.Read full article » No Comments »
It reminded me of dialogue from the Sunday Funnies: Elmer Fudd looking hapless in his hunting cap, holding a shotgun saying “That wascally wabbit,” as, once again, he’s been outwitted by Bugs Bunny. In this case editorial editors at the Raleigh News & Observer and the Wilmington StarNews got bugged by the wascally Wepublicans for “Frightful school cuts.”
A Raleigh editorial reprinted on the StarNews Opinion page told a sad tale of “a bunch of school superintendents from around North Carolina” telling “scary stories” of their “grim, if not ghastly” conditions because of tight budgets. Terrifying Republican rascals get the blame. (link)
School superintendents— in my opinion, essentially high-paid lobbyists—hope that the horrible legislators will “heed the alarms and refrain from further damage,” according to a supposition by the News & Observer editor. Meanwhile, reality hovers over the editorial play of dreadful, childish comedy. Adults at the John Locke Foundation have assembled “Key Facts” about education spending in this state.
From 2001 to 2010 state public school funding increased 28 percent, double student school enrollment; additional local funding increased 49 percent and federal funding has doubled during that period. Public school spending from all government sources has increased nearly $4 billion since 2001, according to data compiled by Dr. Terry Stoops, director of education studies at the JLF. (link)
In addition, state school districts have spent more than $13 billion on capital improvements, since 1995. Frightful amounts of money have been dumped into this system. So, where did the money go and what do we have to show for it?
Generally, the education system is inefficient, unresponsive and results in low-performance based on information I’ve seen. For example, about 24 percent of total spending comes from local sources; 64 percent of which goes to salaries and employee benefits—not tied to performance-based measures. Stoops recommends that local appropriations be tied to those measures. Government officials should require school districts to provide annual surveys and audits to publicly justify budgets and spending. The budget process should be transparent and our local officials should “minimize the amount of debt incurred.”
Stoops also recommends that funding should be “student-centered.” Allocating funds to bureaucratic school districts with fuzzy formulae is a recipe for confusion and inefficiency. We wonder who are the frightful; those who expect accountability, efficiencies and transparency for the public money spent, or supporters of simply spending more on a massive wasteful government system?Read full article » No Comments »
On the county’s desk, yep, $500k in requests from any and all types of non-profits in difficult budget times. As local governments wrestle with tough budget times, non-profits are finding that begging for taxpayer dollars is easier than raising money on their own.
What will the county do? The city has a similar dilemma, what will they do? No stories on this yet, but there will be. Here’s hoping the county does what’s best and let us actually support charities instead of being forced to.Read full article » No Comments »
This is just NOT the lede that downtown Wilmington needed today:
In Saturday’s evening hours, officers came across two individuals preparing to inject themselves with drugs in a downtown Wilmington parking deck.
That’s city property and the place where Wilmington officials want folks to feel safe parking. Clearly folks feel pretty comfortable doing other things on those decks. Oh, and the drugs were “legal” since they are synthetic and purchased online and NOT covered by any state or federal statute so the “individuals” were released.
Read full article » No Comments »
Tomorrow at 10am, the Wilmington Ballpark Coalition crowd will be at a press conference in front of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (which hasn’t advocated for fewer regulations or taxes in recent memory) along with the folks from the Atlanta Braves.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — One of the newly appointed leaders of a group of local business owners and managers promoting a new ballpark in Wilmington is currently being sued by the federal government.
Dr. James D. Hundley, a former orthopaedic surgeon in Wilmington, was named Vice Chairman of the Wilmington Ballpark Coalition. His son, Jim Hundley Jr., is Chairman of the group.
Hundley Sr. also sat on the board of directors of Cooperative Bank, which went under in 2009.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporative is suing Hundley, the rest of the board, as well as the bank’s former chief for “neglect of duty.”
The suit charges that the bank permitted “lax loan approval.”
The FDIC is suing Hundley individually for $4.48 million.
FYI, the Wilmington Ballpark Coalition are the folks that want the taxpayers, not the private sector, to pony up the money for the stadium. While this is more distraction that detrimental to the group’s aim, it is embarrassing to have this leader wanting taxpayers to fund this project. $4 million would cover roughly 10% of the estimated cost of the ballpark.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We told you yesterday about a new group supporting the City of Wilmington in its plans to bring a ballpark to town. Today, the vice chair of the Wilmington Ballpark Coalition resigned after WWAY started asking questions about his involvement.
James Hundley Sr. was the vice chair of the Wilmington Ballpark Coalition. He also sat on the Board of Directors of Cooperative Bank, which went under in 2009.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is suing Hundley, the rest of the board, as well as the bank’s former chief for “neglect of duty” and a total of $33 million, including $4.48 million from Hundley.
The WBC announced today that Hundley is not guilty of the actions he is accused of, but to avoid any distraction he will quit the volunteer group.
Rich Neumann of Mandalay Baseball Properties, which wants to run a team here, was in town today. He said he did not know about the lawsuit or if this affected the coalition’s credibility. He says the group will continue to grow once information is released.
“Once all the information is out there, once all the facts are out there as opposed to opinions or hearsay, rumor, people can make a very educated assessment if it’s a good deal or not a good deal for the City of Wilmington,” Neumann said.
Neumann says his company always faces opposition when proposing ballparks in communities, but he says the Wilmington opposition is louder than they are used to.Read full article » No Comments »
I don’t have high expectations of the StarNews editorial page. They actually have great writing, but they often omit key points worthy of mentioning to the public they claim to inform. Their editorial in defense of the city moving more slowly on annexation is a good example. They are correct in saying the city should wait for the annexation issue to be settled by the courts or the legislature, but they make many mistakes on their journey to that conclusion.
In defending “forced annexation” they say the following: ”Most people dislike paying taxes, and not many are inclined to volunteer, especially if they are already enjoying many of its benefits without the property tax bill.”
Actually, over 85% of ALL annexations are requested so that’s not being honest about the state of annexation in NC.
Defending “forced annexation” again: ”. . the state law passed last year is very flawed and may impede the healthy growth North Carolina’s cities have enjoyed while cities in other areas that cannot annex are in decline . . . ”
Again, they’re wrong. State’s like SC don’t have forced annexation. 45 states have no forced annexation and they do just fine without it. If the city is desirable, people will WANT TO LIVE IN IT and not have to be forced into it. In fact, they don’t support their assertion with a single fact.
More defense: ”People living near city limits like to believe they receive no benefits from the city, but they do. They use city parks, drive on city streets, walk on city-funded sidewalks, depend on the police to come if they are the victims of a crime or traffic accident and travel to the city for basic needs such as health care and shopping.”
The truth: People purchasing services or goods within a city are paying a price based on provided that good or service that includes the property taxes that the city uses. So visitors are paying the city for services every day. In fact, many come here and make businesses profitable enough to pay their property taxes.
Their final defense of this failed policy is the worst: ”The General Assembly should revisit the law, take into consideration that city residents also should have a say in annexation, and give cities some revenue alternative if the Honorables insist on all but outlawing involuntary annexation.”
City residents DO have a voice, they elect their city council, that’s all they need. And the entire purpose of property taxes is at least the elected leaders MUST accept responsibility for the tax rate and the money they spend. If city leaders are willing to raise property taxes to pay for their whims and face the voters, then the system works. Providing ways to HIDE revenue (which is what the editorial is implying) is simply wrong. If the city wasn’t afraid to raise taxes they wouldn’t be forcibly annexing.
Read full article » 1 Comment »
It isn’t earth shattering news, but it is a good story about how a community can come together without government edicts, without being told to or taxed into doing it or because a regulation required it.
The short version is that over 1000 folks came together to write out, in chalk, on sidewalks, the New Testament yesterday. Even the N&O covered it. Here are the links for the Whiteville Reporter, WWAY, Fayetteville Observer and the N&O. The StarNews ignored the story entirely.
(WWAY) – Around 30 churches joined their congregations in downtown Whiteville Sunday for a unique Easter sunrise service. Following the service believers hit the streets, writing the New Testament (in chalk) on the sidewalks throughout the city. Inspired by the service, around a thousand Columbus County residents attempted to write the New Testament and it’s nearly 800,000 words, lining 18 blocks in the city of Whiteville.
No word on whether the ACLU will file a lawsuit against the citizens there for defacing public property by writing on sidewalks with chalk. I guess if they had done it on stimulus funded walking trails, it would be more tolerable to them.Read full article » No Comments »