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.
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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.
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