Combative and counter-productive environmentalists continue their attacks on the Carolinas Cement Company. Filing lawsuits based on foolishness with intent to stall production and add cost to the company is their short term game plan. In the longer run they hope to shut down our productive industries and lock up our natural resources in preserves. Company managers, engineers, technicians, construction workers and a host of other people must wait to begin work while environmental gamesters play their litigation cards.
The usual suspects have concocted another legal ploy to stall construction of the cement plant planned near Castle Hayne, N. C. Southern Environmental Law Center lawyer Geoff Gisler wants a judge to revoke the state issued air quality permit because the company “amended its quarry plan,” according to a Wilmington StarNews article by Kate Queram. Unfortunately, the press takes these people seriously and this article misrepresents the situation. (link)
Ms. Queram writes: “The permit…came after three years of wrangling and contentious battles between the cement corporation and local residents and environmental groups….” Based on my observations over this time, company people didn’t wrangle or battle with anyone. But they have been ruthlessly and relentlessly attacked.
On occasion, they’ve attempted to defend their good name from slanderous assaults, but they have never been quarrelsome. Quite the opposite; company people came to this area offering goodwill and economic benefits. They were rebuffed by a small number of well-funded and organized environmental activists who immediately set up an antagonistic Stop Titan Network. Further, company officials have been unbelievably patient with the vicious assaults on their work—even their intentions have been impugned.
Activists (in groups such as the N. C. Coastal Federation and Cape Fear River Watch) tried to defame the company; spread unfounded malicious propaganda about assumed dangers to humans from plant operations; and hired the regional hostile SELC to bring lawsuits crafted to stall company operations. Ms. Queram provides some credibility and cover by writing that these people are “deeply concerned” about “potential impacts”—assuming all of them to be negative and failing to question the flimsy basis for concerns.
This latest frivolous attempt to stall the company plans didn’t warrant a comment from the state Air Quality Division spokesman (the SELC accused the agency people of dereliction of duty). Bob Odom, Carolinas Cement manager calmly reminded all the belligerent parties that his company must meet all state and federal regulations regardless of what plans they have.
Further, he has told us that the company must also endure a long, expensive federally mandated environmental review to be granted another permit required for the company to operate their facility. It’s clear to me who are the contentious ones.
(For more about recent unscrupulous activities committed by the Stop Titan Action Network against Titan Cement read blogs, “Connecting the dots” and “The rest of the story” by Kate McClain at the Carolinas Cement Company site.) (link)Read full article » No Comments »
The big question out there is whether or not the city council will move forward in giving the Atlanta Braves, Mandalay, Flywheel/Trask tens of millions of taxpayer dollars so they can make money on a baseball stadium. I’m not overstating that issue as it’s the truth. Split it, cut it, dice it, twist it around, in the end, this is about how much the city is willing to bilk the taxpayers to support a for profit sports endeavor. Sadly, the question about whether or not government should be doing this is irrelevant in the discussion and much of this is taking place in secret.
The city is already planning to increase taxes by roughly 10%, their lamenting their cut of the sales tax distribution as determined by the county, they’re watching their accumulated room occupancy tax diminish as it is drawn down to pay for the convention center. Their financial issues are mounting and due to the drubbing that property took over the past few years, their raising the tax rate by 5-cents just to be revenue neutral. Overall rate increase without a stadium will be 8-cents (20%). It isn’t a pleasant reality.
If city leaders are interested in acting responsibly on this front, the baseball stadium simply doesn’t make sense. It’s far from a done deal and council have openly admitted that they aren’t comfortable with the current deal.
And that doesn’t even mention the mounting public opposition for which a petition process to stop taxpayer dollars from being used is moving forward and a group that support private funding for the stadium launched a $20k ad campaign bringing more attention to the situation.
We’ll find out more tonight at the National Sports Service meeting, but even on that front we have more questions than answers.Read full article » No Comments »
Matt Willoughby reporting in the May issue of Civitas Capitol Connection writes about the overly generous and excessively expensive North Carolina Medicaid program. General Assembly budgeteers discovered a $150 million (maybe $550 million) projected shortfall for Medicaid spending in this fiscal year. (link)
Previous state legislatures have padded Medicaid services with 46 percent more spending than required by this federal government program–$4.4 billion of the $10 billion annual North Carolina Medicaid cost to citizen taxpayers.
Billions of dollars are being spent on “optional services,” including prescription drugs; “community alternative programs”; mental health; “intermediate care facilities”; “personal care”; dental benefits; various “therapies”; private duty nurses; hospice care; chiropractors; visual and hearing aids; podiatry, and more.
I doubt that most health insurance plans paid for by people not eligible for Medicaid include what Mr. Willoughby refers to as these “Cadillac” services.
So, it should be easy for the Honorables to come up with relatively small unnecessary spending reductions to cover the HHR budget shortfall, right? Wrong.
Willoughby reminds us that they won’t make cuts in an election year because health care providers give large contributions to the Raleigh political class. Further, some members of the HHR Legislative Oversight Committee are also members of the medical industry.
(The late Bill Safire in his Political Dictionary defines the word ‘oversight’: “’Oversight’ implies supervision or at least some modicum of control….”)
I believe that an oversight function of our legislators on government agencies—that Safire writes “philosopher John Stuart Mill considered the most important responsibility of a legislature”—has become more akin to collusion than watchfulness. Corruption would be another appropriate word that creates ever bigger government and gives us little hope of limiting it.Read full article » No Comments »
Government “services” proliferate and stealthily encourage dependency so as to increase their self-serving missions. WAVE Transit illustrates a classic example. With financial support from all government levels funded with taxed money, this system now costs over $7 million annually to sustain unjustified “need” for public taxpayer subsidized transportation. The octopus-like tentacles of the sprawling busing program continue to reach into distant municipalities. Riders benefit with little cost and many other people subsidize their convenience.
The federal government props up this wasteful and needless public project paying about half the total cost, while state and local taxpayers fund the other half of the subsidies. Riders pay only about 10 percent of the cost of operations. Without evidence or economic justification some politicians assume “It’s certainly needed”; so said Leland Town councilman Jon Tait. (link)
Worse, people such as Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman, believe in a fallacy that “We’ve got to care for our citizens.” This misguided mentality about the role of government has led to waste and abuse of the property of some citizens contributing to the dependency on government of others. Occasionally, a few wise and courageous public officials question these threats to our freedom and independence.
Belville Town leaders in Brunswick County refused to fund a large increase in their assessment for shuttle service. Commissioner Joe Breault, using his personal observations and common sense, saw that only a few people used the bus service in Belville; something that anyone can see almost anywhere and anytime where the WAVE buses drive and stop (for example, I’ve observed that the large #201 bus to Monkey Junction rarely picks up or delivers more than three or four people).
When our elected representatives depend on the self-serving propaganda spread by bureaucrats such as Albert Eby, director of WAVE Transit, they are contributing to the dependency of our citizens on government—a disservice to them and to the rest of us.Read full article » No Comments »
I will continue to posit that there is a legitimate query as to why funding sports entertainment endeavors is remotely the role of government. In the meantime, here’s the link to the city site for updates on where the process in Wilmington is at the moment.
The City of Wilmington is exploring the feasibility of minor league baseball. (the real funny part is that the city has the actual logo for the Atlanta Braves up on the page, yeah. . . kind of unbiased huh?)
Even though they’ve spent almost $200k on a consultant and have the logo in place and have moved rapidly in one direction, they have an interesting disclaimer at the bottom of the page, in BOLD!
Note that no decision has been made regarding a baseball team, stadium or any potential method of financing. Any updates will be posted on this web page as they become available.Read full article » No Comments »
Wilmington StarNews editorialists declare that “Money is not speech.” (link) They seem to assume that “big money” runs randomly about and smothers “the voice of average Americans”; a ridiculous notion. The assignment of animation to inanimate objects childishly diverts attention to an object rather than the way it is used, and by whom.
Guns, for instance, prowl the streets indiscriminately shooting at innocent people, misguided gun “control” zealots hope we will believe. They ignore the real issue of controlling the few people who use guns with criminal intent; because focusing on guns is simplistically easy while coming down on criminals is difficult and might violate someone’s “civil rights.”
Editors have decided that the Supreme Court made a “very bad decision”: that campaign finance limits on Political Action Committees result in limits on free speech—makes sense to me.
Like it or not, money is needed to buy expensive media time so that candidate’s messages are heard and seen. We may not like how people choose to use their money, and we may not like their messages, but in a free society we should not allow government to interfere with our choices; even “unrelentingly negative campaign ads,” that upset editor’s sensitivities.
Despite their claim that we are “tired of big money subverting the political process,” most people respond positively to “negative” ads that support individual worldviews. Campaign ads, however worthy, obnoxious, clever or deceitful, probably change few minds about their candidates—unless they’ve been living in a van down by the river.
Contrary to editorial view, there’s no evidence that money subverts the political process. In fact, I think that the case could be made that large amounts of campaign money adds value to the process. The more we are exposed to candidates’ words and deeds the better we are able to sort out bad ideas and poor performance; critical to choosing higher quality people for public office.Read full article » No Comments »
The NC General Assembly will end today a multi year attempt by the City of Wilmington to forcibly annex the citizens of Monkey Junction for their tax money. It was long ago said that the annexation was about money, but that got lost in years of heated arguments, city overreach and hundreds of thousands of wasted taxpayer dollars.
All that being said it is sad that it became so contentious that the GA felt it necessary to stop the process in that area for 12 years. Mind you, it is a lesson worth learning for the City of Wilmington to not pick fights that aren’t worth picking to start with. It was the disdain with which Wilmington acted, along with other cities in the state, that forced the General Assembly to act. It was also the actions of the NC League of Municipalities that essentially agreed with the previous legislation allowing such annexations to be stopped by property owners. Once the law was approved, the League filed a lawsuit which demeaned what little integrity they had with the honorables in Raleigh.
The only question left to answer is how quickly Wilmington will withdraw their occupation represented by police cars in the area in spite of the fact that they are already understaffed for the patrols in the actual city limits.. . . Just sayin’.Read full article » No Comments »
Two interesting stories lately about homeowner associations. Of note, both stories involve wildlife. The first is about an alligator (small one) in a neighborhood pond. Alligators abound this time of year, there’s even a small one behind Sam’s on College Rd. Anyway, the property owners think the HOA should do something, but. . . .
(WWAY) - The HOA told WWAY it is only responsible for the maintenance of the pond, not the removal of wildlife. We were told that if an animal poses a threat, call 911 or the police department, and they will send someone out to inspect.
Essentially the HOA doesn’t really care what happens in the pond that they maintain. Individual owners would have to make the call on this even though the gator isn’t technically on anyone’s property yet.
The second story is a bit more alarming as an owner is alleging that the HOA is targeting her after she reported a wildlife problem. The original HOA response was disturbing. The raccoons in the story have been living in the attic spaces, defecating and urinating in the walls and ceilings.
(WWAY) - We tried to talk to someone with the property. When we went to the office, no one answered the door. When we called the property manager, he told us he did not have the HOA president’s number, that he would not talk to us and then hung up. . . The resident says the health department came out and was appalled by what they found. So far the health department has not returned our call.
After the initial news story ran, apparently someone made a few calls and there was finally a response from the health department, but the HOA is still unresponsive.
This is really a sad statement about why HOAs should act more responsibly. If they don’t, it will a sad day when local/state governments take over and then the argument for higher taxes for less efficiency will replace would should a simple association of property owners dealing with their problems sans government.
(WWAY)Read full article » No Comments »
The New Hanover County commissioners “are one step away” from stepping in another multi-million pile of spending, according to a story in the Wilmington StarNews. A mere $10 million will renovate their ugly, dysfunctional six-story building on Chestnut Street—water damage forced a relocation of county employees two years ago. (link)
Incidentally, we don’t learn who’s responsible for the carelessness or neglect that caused taxpayers to be stuck with another big unnecessary spending bill. Maybe the StarNews “Watchdogs” could inform us of why this happened and who should be held accountable. Of course, government employees serve with impunity.
However, the Board isn’t unanimous on this. Brian Berger and Rick Catlin oppose the scheme. Catlin wisely wants to consider selling the dead white elephant. Other options include; get this: tearing down the building and constructing a new one; and, my favorite, “adding a seventh floor.”
But why do anything to make this box usable?
Chairman Ted “We can’t be an ostrich and put our heads in the sand” Davis wants to be ready to accommodate mandated new hires he expects from state government (another story Watchdogs should follow). County bureaucrats plan to move several departments back in the building.
Why? Who knows?
One presumed positive to this latest official fiasco: jobs will be created. John Sawyer Architects chosen by county staff will benefit. And construction people and tradesmen will be temporarily employed. Real estate agents will arrange leasing of excess space. And more county employees may be hired with the increased revenue.
I imagine this project could be considered “shovel-ready.” If so, the feds may shovel more borrowed or printed money into it. It’s a win-win—for bigger government. As for citizen taxpayers: we get to shovel up another county spending mess.Read full article » No Comments »
Wilmington city statists now occupy another free-zone south of their other forcibly annexed land. Signs have been erected and police cars prowl the streets and state highways in the Monkey Junction area with a show of authority.
Another layer of government imposing higher taxes and more regulations sprawls over county and state jurisdictions—people in the occupied zone be damned. City bureaucrats with police power presume to control defenseless citizens and confiscate more of their wealth. Well, not yet.
The arbitrary ruling of a judge thwarted the will of the people, but elected representatives plan to drive the invaders back to their former borders. It will take courage to counter the League of Municipalities (and press support). The League is a powerful statewide lobby promoting greedy city officials. The editorial press also often favors the statists. (link)
They use the ploy of providing “services.” However, their real goal is a power grab to take more money from citizens to fund their wasteful, self-serving downtown projects: bus systems, golf courses, convention centers and sports facilities to name a few.
An abusive state law allows these injustices. Citizens in the zone free of another layer of government expect their state representatives to correct them.
We’ve had these fights before during the American Revolution and in the War Between the States—won one; lost one. But might does not make right. In my opinion, similar principles of freedom apply to forcible annexation—differing only in scale.Read full article » No Comments »