The emerging trend on bankrupting cities is the profligate spending on non-essential services. Yesterday, San Bernadino, Calif. started going down that path. Here’s a public comment from that story in the LA Times:
Kathy Mallon, 57, who has lived in San Bernardino for a decade, blasted the city’s elected leaders for allowing the financial crisis to grow unabated and wasting millions of tax dollars on transit projects and other non-essential services.
Stockton and Mammoth Lakes have also filed bankruptcy in recent weeks.
Scranton, Pa. is also in a heap of trouble and the employees have been reduced to minimum wage according to Fiscal Times:
The city’s mayor, Chris Doherty, a Democrat, has slashed wages for nearly 400 public employees to $7.25 an hour, the federal minimum wage, because there’s not enough money in city coffers to pay those workers their usual salaries. The city is some $16.8 million in the hole based on its current fiscal year budget.
Hey, but Stockton can at least say they have a taxpayer funded hockey arena. . maybe Wilmington will soon be able to say they have a baseball stadium when they head in the same direction!
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There is an interesting discussion making the rounds amongst media types about who exactly is to blame for the rejection of the petition drive to stop taxpayer funded professional sports endeavors in Wilmington. On the one hand the argument could be made that the city was obstructionist, did not help citizens understand the ordinance and thus it was Ben McCoy and Josh Fulton who simply failed to follow the rules.
The other side of the argument is that city staff have an obligation to help citizens understand ordinances. If someone needs a permit, staff should help people understand what that permit requires. If people ask staff about sidewalk ordinances or window ordinances the staff is there to help. In this instance, the staff was of little to no assistance and that’s a question worth exploring as well.
In the end, the city clerk determined that the proper affidavit(s) were not filed and thus the council voided all of the volunteer work. Here’s the section of the city ordinance pertaining to the affidavit:
State law reference— Ballots, G.S. §§ 163-135, 163-140, 163-286
Sec. 5.2. – Form and contents of referendum petition.
The petition provided for in the preceding section shall be signed by none but legal voters of the city. Each petition shall contain, in addition to the names of the petitioners, the street and house number at which the petitioner resides, his age and length of residence in the city. It shall also be accompanied by the affidavit of one or more legal voters of the city, stating that the signers thereof were, at the time of the signing, legal voters of the city, and stating the number of signers at the time the affidavit was made.
Now, did the staff make sure the petitioners understood what needed to be done? Did the petitioners ask the staff to help in that matter? There are some legitimate questions to be asked, but it is clear that staff does NOT want this to take place. Is that part of their job? Or is their job to ensure citizens understand the complexity of codes and ordinances?
If you go in to get a business permit, a building permit or need information from the city, are they supposed to help or hinder?
Lots of questions. . . . .Read full article » No Comments »
The ongoing baseball saga continues. Wilmington’s elected officials have lamented the costs going from $17m in taxpayer dollars with private funding. They earlier had seen the idea of a 6,500 seat stadium at $25m go to a 3,500 seat $42m stadium publicly complaining at every turn about costs. But they never stopped moving forward on spending more money and now they’re planning to have a referendum of “up to $42m” on the ballot in November.
The city’s elected leaders privately say, month after month, that the deal is done, not good, over with. . . but their public actions continue to be unanimous. On the one hand we could say that the voters having a say is a good thing. But the council has not publicly said they will abide by the outcome of that referendum.
In other words, council has not rejected other funding mechanisms like Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) and/or Certificates of Participation (COPs) which both can bypass the will of the voter. We will await the media asking that question.
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It is funny that any and all things related to cement production in the Wilmington area immediately elicit divisive comments and media action. But if we’re talking about 40-years of uranium enrichment, it’s pretty much ok to do so in closed meetings. What’s up with that?
(StarNews) – The last major review before a revolutionary laser uranium enrichment plant could be built in Castle Hayne will take place behind closed doors. The facility on GE’s Castle Hayne campus near the intersection of Interstate 140 and Castle Hayne Road would be the nation’s first laser-based commercial uranium enrichment operation, using an Australian technology called SILEX, or Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation.
WOW! Really neat, but c’mon, it’s uranium. . which has a half life of like. . . I don’t know. . . forever. Where’s the environmental movement and the Cape Fear River Watch?
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Talk about stating the obvious—and “coming late to the table,” as goes an old saying. Wilmington StarNews editorial editors proclaim: “Young adults need more than technical skills; the need life skills, too.” Really? That’s not news to generations of traditional Americans taught to be morally literate. But, sadly, it’s lacking in segments of our modern culture. The usual excuse for bad behavior is being “poor.” (link)
Editors say that “too many” young adults lack what they euphemistically refer to as “soft skills”; something obvious to those of us brought up prior to the 1960s. They list some of those, formerly known as virtues or values—dare I say “family values”?
For decades those values were taught to children so that they would grow up understanding right from wrong, able to function in a civil society and be morally literate individuals. That was systematically ridiculed, even denounced, by many progressives—rejected as out-of-touch-with-the-times— especially in our educational institutions that once upheld and reinforced traditional social values. The result?
In a word, failure to teach virtuous behavior has led to incivility. We can observe it everywhere: in malls, schools, fast-food stores, sports events and other public places. Based on soft skills offered by the editors, and my observations, the lack shows up rude, crude and tattooed with foul language, disrespect for others, slovenliness and failure to communicate in proper English. Some children with no adult role models and no home schooling end their lives in civil society with violent acts.
For example, the Wilmington-Six (or was it five?) recently charged by police with plotting to rob and kill a food deliveryman. They ruined their lives and will be removed from society to protect others from their predatory nature. Does anyone believe they can be taught “soft skills”?
Progressives continue to avoid the root problem and come up with programs to fix ingrained social dysfunctions. Editors cite a 12-year old non-profit effort in Boston called “Year Up.” The group uses social justice jargon. The mission: “close the Opportunity Divide” with urban youths.
There is no “opportunity” divide in America, but wide self-inflicted cultural divides now exist. On the one side, “personal accountability, honesty and respect for others,” a Year Up focus, according to editors. Obviously, then, on the other side of the chasm are those who are unaccountable, dishonest and lack respect for others.
The mission reads like another jargonized enabling program with handouts: “high support, high expectation model that combines marketable job skills, stipends, internships and college credits.”
Yet editors seem to understand “stark reality”: “… normal habits of hard work, punctuality and the ability to function in a workplace are foreign to teenagers and young adults (from) chaotic homes where those traits are rare.”
Editors recognize another undeniably truth of life. It’s “up to the individual to make leading a productive life a priority.” However, this situation is so desperate—“If something isn’t done….”—(and hopeless) that our editors can’t think of any solutions except that all community colleges should “teach behavior.” Civil behavior is not something that can be learned in college; by that time it’s too late. However, it can be reinforced, if it’s been taught in the home. But our education institutions are busy, instead, with race, gender and sexual indoctrination.
After two or three generations of institutional meddling and sabotage of traditional values by progressives, social dysfunction has taken deep root in the urban subculture. Much of it can be traced to misguided feel-good programs such as the Great Society “War on Poverty.” Promoters will continue to fertilize this diseased tree with calls for more funding, but it has to be ripped up. Many from recent generations are lost, but future generations of children can be taught morality.
A generation ago, William J. Bennett edited an 800-page book titled, “The Book of Virtues” subtitled “A Treasury of Great Moral Stories.” Dr. Bennett intended this anthology “to aid in the time-honored task of the moral education of the young.” He defined moral education as “the training of heart and mind toward the good.” It includes the “dos and don’ts of life”—that must include training in good habits. Bennett reminded us that for children to take morality seriously they must associate with adults who do likewise—they must see examples from adults and the world of literature.
Bennett’s book is filled with tales, poems, essays and other writings passed down for centuries in Western Civilization to teach self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty and faith—“material that virtually all schools and homes and churches once taught to students for the sake of shaping character”; writings Dr. Bennett calls “moral literature.”
In the introduction the author explains the importance of this literature. It gives children “specific reference points”; they must have examples of right and wrong. The “Once upon a time” beginning fascinates children. The stories “help anchor” children in our culture, history and traditions. Teaching these “shared ideals” brings children into “the community of moral persons.”
If responsible adults expect young American children to become moral people they should start by teaching the virtues (and vices) found in William Bennett’s wonderful and valuable book. The question is: How can this be done without dramatic changes in “chaotic” homes?Read full article » No Comments »
Political progressives “move forward” with two basic tenants: All government projects are worthy, and there should be an infinite amount of money available to fully fund all of them. The Wilmington StarNews Editorial Board gives us another example: “Saving Aquarius”—not the age of, but a federal underwater (“one of a kind”) research vessel. (link)
Of course, it happens to be operated by UNC Wilmington—the public institution upon which the Board lavishes frequent praise for its good works and high-minded spending. Editors rarely call for accountability or priorities. Anything Big Ed does is worth whatever it costs the public.
Editors bemoan that Washington funding for this watery vessel has dried up. A lid has been put on the pork barrel. Rep. Mike “Earmark” McIntyre no longer brings home platters to local troughs. Put on a low-pork diet, Mike now spends time promoting social services: cajoling constituents to live healthier lives and get work (if they can).
Editors assure us that funding Aquarius is not “a frivolous expenditure.” They say that annual spending of up to $3 million is “more than worth” the cost, and that the project has “immense value.” It’s unclear how they know this, but they say that “a very important mission” involves studying coral reefs—apparently, a subject foremost on the minds’ of taxpayers.
We are left to wonder why this project is more important than, say, using the money for research on cancer or multiple sclerosis.
Yes, progressives assume there’s always more money for their pet projects. It’s true. Government has the power to take wealth from productive workers and distribute it to favored projects—it’s done all the time.
In this case a Florida-based Aquarius Foundation will take on the funding. But, not to fear, its grants men will be looking for cash from an ocean full of public money.Read full article » No Comments »
It’s time to correct an injustice perpetrated on owners of The Riggings, a condominium complex located at Kure Beach, N. C. For the past 27 years these citizens have been in legal limbo and periodically harassed by the N. C. Coastal Resources Commission, a government-sponsored group controlled by environmental activists that hold inordinate, arbitrary power over coastal residents’ use of their property. (LINK)
Several state agencies and courts have the authority declare that the CRC cease harassing these folks, or, cause them to lose their property. It’s not clear from a Wilmington StarNews article why the State Department of Justice is involved, but this is an issue of justice.
It’s just that these people be allowed to protect their property. Knowing the history of their dilemma, no reasonable person could deny that. But government operatives usually are not reasonable people—they follow prescribed, arbitrary rules.
For example, CRC commissioner Joan Weld from Pender County believes that allowing Riggings owners to protect their valuable, vulnerable property would “set a precedent.” Another Justice: Rep. Carolyn, also from Pender County, should explain to Ms. Weld that in America government’s role is to protect private property, not contribute to its destruction.
I suggest it would be just and proper for our local state legislators to prepare a bill to exempt Riggings owners from further harassment, including legal action, because of their unique circumstances. If ever there was an injustice directed at coastal owners, this meets the definition.Read full article » No Comments »
The StarNews has been no stranger in critiquing the GOP on the issue of fracking. They addressed it here (where they miss the reality that more petroleum reserves have been discovered than ever before) and they are extremely skeptical of it here (mainly because Republicans were pushing it.)
But the local editorial staff has yet to mention Dem. Susi Hamilton’s necessary vote to pass the fracking bill vetoed by the Governor. Are they really that far into the pander bear mode? If the StarNews wants to say this is a good override, then they can support Hamilton’s decision but they’ll also have to say the GOP did a good job with the bill. If they say it’s a bad bill, then they’ll have to say something about Hamilton’s decision to be the needed vote that had the NCLCV ask her to return her “Rising Star” award.
It’s a tough position for the editorial staff to find itself in. Hamilton, this time, made the right decision albeit in a bizarre way.Read full article » No Comments »
It’s becoming clear to more people that environmental activists use the word “science” to front their real agenda—it’s not about real science; it’s about power and funding. And, we’re encouraged to note that some of our state legislators are on to their politics.
An Associated Press story published in the Wilmington StarNews quoted Rep. George Cleveland of Onslow County. He said that a Coastal Resources Commission warning about a three-foot rise in sea level “wasn’t science, unless you call it political science.” That’s clever—and correct. Rep. Pat McElraft of Carteret County asked the CRC to go back to their drafting board and “use some real science.” Good advice, but that won’t support the CRC agenda. (link)
Naturally, the AP reporter couldn’t resist some jabs at these responsibly skeptical legislators who won’t be duped. Allen Reed writes that they were “ridiculed” in the blogosphere and by comedian Stephan Colbert. Yes, that renowned scientist and comedic political hack who probably doesn’t know what the word science means.
Mr. Cleveland isn’t fooled; nor is a majority of our state lawmakers.
A bill was passed Monday to prevent state environmental and planning bureaucrats from regulating land owners based on conjecture about how much sea levels might rise in the next hundred years. No evidence exists that it will happen. In fact, records in Wilmington show that there’s been no sea level rise in recent history. (link)
The House vote was 68-46 for putting off regulations, based on presumed sea level rise, until 2016. The Senate voted 40-1 against political science. Laugh that off Mr. Smarty-pants Colbert.
Of course, the AP reporter injected the requisite, but trite phrase “Opponents worried…”—environmental activists always promote baseless worries. Scares have worked to their advantage when they can’t produce facts, logic or common sense.
It’s refreshing to know that some of our representatives have the courage to stand up to these fools who, for too long, have negatively influenced our lives with their phony “science” claims.
And, if I haven’t made myself clear on this matter, I’ll probably have more to say about it later.Read full article » No Comments »
Today is not Veteran’s Day. It’s not Flag Day. It’s not “The 4th.” And it’s not cuatro de Julio.
On July 4th in 1776 the Continental Congress of the former English colonies in America adopted the final Declaration of Independence. Fifty-six well-educated men of property signed their names knowing the act was treasonous—immediately they became traitors to King George III—“the Crown.” They essentially signed a death warrant on themselves.
Yet, they pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Ultimately, most of them lost their wealth; many lost family members; several died poor.
From their reading of English philosophers (including John Locke) and knowledge of British law (that they respected), they declared self-evident truths: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (formerly “Property”).
Governments, wrote these men, are established to protect these rights and get their powers “from the consent of the governed.” Further, whenever government became “destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.”
In this unanimous declaration by representatives of all thirteen united States, the King of Great Britain was indicted for “a history of repeated injuries and usurpations,” resulting in “Tyranny over these States.”
In a long list of grievances they cited proof: “He has refused his Assent to Laws…(fatigued legislators) into compliance with his measures…(obstructed) the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners…obstructed the Administration of Justice…made judges dependent on his Will alone…erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people…(kept) Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures…(subjected) us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution…(imposed) Taxes on us without our Consent…(altered) fundamentally the Forms of our Government…excited domestic insurrections amongst us.”
These grievous conditions had been building since 1763. During that period the King and Parliament had passed a number of “Acts” that restricted the colonists’ liberty and took their property. They “Petitioned for Redress,” resisted with Tea Parties in 1773 and ignored some of the acts.
Finally, delegates from the colonies met in Philadelphia in September 1774 in support of problems in Massachusetts. They endorsed the Suffolk (county) Resolves that condemned the “hand which would ransack our pockets.” But they rejected the Galloway Plan by Pennsylvania to establish a federal union of the American colonies. Still they declared loyalty to the King, but he replied about these insolent colonists: “The die is cast.”
Massachusetts took the initiative. These people established a “revolutionary government” and raised an army of “minutemen.” Guns were common in every household and people were prepared to defend themselves.
On April 18, 1775 the shooting war started with “the shot heard ‘round the world” at Concord, Mass. between British troops commanded by Gen. Thomas Gage and Massachusetts militiamen. The Patriots were overpowered and had to yield. But “thousands of armed American colonists traveled to Boston.” War resolutions came from the colonies “with the most outspoken coming from North Carolina.”
The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia on May 10 and asked George Washington to take command of 30,000 colonists that surrounded Gen. Gage’s forces in Boston on July 3, 1775.
Long, hard years of war followed. It ended when Gen. Cornwallis surrendered to Gen. Washington at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781; and officially closed with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
On this Independence Day we celebrate freedom won by our forefathers from oppressive government. Today we face similar challenges. As government powers expand, our liberties diminish. Questions remain. Will modern Americans have the will and the courage to resist oppression? We have choices. Will petitions from the People that God-given rights to life, liberty and property be protected by government? Or will we give up on freedom and, someday, celebrate Dependence Day?
(Quotes above from: A Patriot’s History of the United States, Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen; Sentinel, The Penguin Group, 2007.)Read full article » No Comments »