May 20, 2009
Re: Annexation Update/Played Like a Drum
Posted by Daren Bakst at 8:03 PM
As Becki posted, the Rand bill (SB 472) was moved to Senate Finance. This doesn't come as a surprise since Senator Shaw, who was supposed to introduce a discharge petition for SB 494 (the only real annexation reform bill), unfortunately decided against the move today after learning that the Senate Finance Committee would form a subcommittee to consider "all" the annexation bills.
A discharge petition is a legislative rule that helps to avoid the oligarchy in the Senate by getting two-thirds of the Senators to agree to bring a bill out of committee for a vote.
SB 472 is the League's bill. The League played this situation beautifully. I tip my hat to them for taking what was a problematic situation for them and turning it into a benefit by letting a "favorable" subcommittee come up with the annexation reform. They now can push their own bill or Clodfelter's bill (SB 711) and crush SB 494.
Clodfelter's bill is just as bad as the Rand/League bill. His bill wouldn't require many municipalities to provide water and sewer service! It gets better folks. Guess who's the chair of the new subcommittee? You guessed it. Senator Clodfelter!
Guess who is one of the two token Republicans on the subcommittee? Hint: He was a sponsor of Clodfelter's bill: Senator Fletcher Hartsell.
Before I provide the list of subcommittee members, let me restate why SB 494 is the only real annexation reform bill. There are three critical requirements for annexation reform:
1) Meaningful Services: Under existing law, a city can annex people even if the area doesn't need critical services. Right now, a city doesn't have to provide critical services to annexed areas that do need the services. The reason why the law even exists is to provide meaningful services, yet that is being ignored.
2) County Oversight (before passage of an ordinance): A city could literally annex an area even though it would hurt the city, the surrounding community, and the entire county. There's no oversight on municipalities--they can do whatever they want.
3) A vote: Annexation victims should be able to vote.
The Clodfelter/Hartsell "no water" annexation bill and the Rand/League bill don't address any of the three primary reforms. These bills would hurt annexation victims, not help them.
The difference between the bills is like having three tax bills to help relieve the burden on taxpayers: Two bills increase taxes and the other tax bill cuts taxes. Then you have a subcommittee work on a bill that increases taxes and call it a tax bill to help taxpayers. This is what is happening.
Here are the subcommittee members (5 Ds and 2 Rs--probably 6-1 against real annexation reform, but we'll see though, maybe they will surprise, it could be 7-0):
Chair of the Committee: Clodfelter
Regular Members of the Committee: Fletcher Hartsell, Floyd McKissick, William Purcell, Larry Shaw, Josh Stein, and Richard Stevens.
Posted by Becki Gray at 4:20 PM
In a surprise move on the Senate floor today, Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, Senate Rules Chairman, moved Senate Bill 472, "Annexation Changes," out of the State and Local Government Committee and into Senate Finance, getting some annexation legislation moving.
This looks to be the bill that incorporated the recommendations of the Annexation Study Committee. Daren has posted previously that the better annexation reform bill is Senate Bill 494, "Annexation/Meaningful Services and Oversight," which appears stuck in the Senate State and Local Government Committee.
The preferred legislation would require a city to provide meaningful services (central water and sewer service, police protection, fire protection) along with meaningful oversight by the County Commission.
Vote on Taxpayer-Funded Campaigns Delayed in the Senate
Posted by Becki Gray at 4:13 PM
House Bill 120, "Taxpayer Funded Municipal Campaigns," is on the Senate Calendar today. The bill made it through the House last week during the crossover madness. Sen. Don Davis, D-Greene, is sponsoring the bill in the Senate and says the bill does the following things: 1. Requires public support and acceptance of strict limits, 2. Promotes a free election process, 3. Public financing funds are strictly for elections and can't be used for anything else, 4. Defines how the funds can be spent, 5. Jurisdictions qualify based on Census numbers.
He says it's all about a free and democratic process. Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, stands to ask Davis some questions. How is Chapel Hill's process working? (BTW: Chapel Hill has not yet had an election under this pilot program.) Davis says we don't really know yet, but he understands that larger jurisdictions want it. It's still a work in progress since we used it as a pilot. Since there's just one jurisdiction, it's hard to judge. Tillman says the Chapel Hill model is untested; we don't know if it's working. He questions whether this is an appropriate use of tax money.
Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, asks about how this is free, as Davis said it would be in his explanation of the bill. Davis says he meant it would "free" up the process. Apadoaca asks where will the money come from? Davis says funds would come from the participating jurisdiction after a public hearing. He admits finally that funds would come from tax revenue. Apodaca says it is important to have fundraising experience as a candidate so when elected to public office one can manage the taxpayers' money.
Sen. Eddie Goodall, R-Union, wants to know how this is voluntary to taxpayers. Davis says the process will be "free and open"and lead to fairer elections.
Goodall proposes an amendment. He says if we are going to make this dramatic change, allow approval by referendum at the time of an existing election (so there will be no additional cost).
Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, speaks on the amendment. He says the bill affects local elections only, and the General Assembly ought not make all decisions for them.
Local governements should be entrusted to make their own decisions. Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, moves to make the amendment "lie upon the table," effectively killing it. The vote on the motion is 30-20 (the vote looks to be strictly along party lines).
Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, asks about independent expenditures and party contributions and other campaign activites. Davis says all rules already in place would apply to these campaigns. Brock makes the argument that there are ways to game the system, and it's a bad idea to expand a program that has not been tested.
Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, asks if this system gives the incumbant an advantage. The Chapel Hill model sets a $500 limit. Does Davis think that is fair? Rucho says the limit gives a nonincumbant a disadvantage.
Rand says there is a lot of misinformation surrounding this bill, removes it from today's calendar, and moves the bill to May 27.
Armentano warns of Obama's antitrust plans
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:15 PM
In today’s Christian Science Monitor, economist and antitrust scholar Dr. Dominick Armentano blasts Obama’s promised antitrust enforcement plans using solid case history. He demonstrates that antitrust law has consistently been used to punish efficiency and innovation, and harm consumers. Armentano is the author of Antitrust and Monopoly: Anatomy of a Policy Failure.
Re: First in corruption
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:05 PM
If you don't want to take Daren's word for it, watch what former Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith had to say about taxpayer-financed elections during a March 19 presentation in Raleigh:
First in Corruption
Posted by Daren Bakst at 2:56 PM
North Carolina (the "First in Corruption" state) may take one more step today to cement its reputation as the most corrupt state in the country.
If all the scandals (which have nothing to do with campaign finance) aren't enough, the state Senate will be considering whether city council members can take your tax dollars and use it for their own personal purposes.
HB 120, which barely passed the House, would allow municipalities with more than 50,000 people to use tax dollars (including property taxes) to help fund campaigns of city officials. This local political welfare bill very well could get passed today!
Let us review: NC has suffered from scandal after scandal. The legislature is run like an oligarchy. Now the legislature thinks your tax dollars should do directly to politicians for their own use.
It is hard to believe, but some people think political welfare will help improve faith in the system. These are the same people that have pushed the artificial contribution limits and restrictive laws that have led us to where we are today in North Carolina.
Why would anyone still listen to these people?
These "reformers" are the biggest friends to legislators and enemies to real ethics reform. They promote laws that protect incumbents, chill speech, and scare people from getting involved in the political process (such as through the overbroad and vague lobbying law). Everything is about blaming everyone other than the legislators: blame the interest groups, blame the lobbyists, blame the money that is necessary for political advertising--just don't blame the poor politicians.
Today, the Senate may decide to continue stealing your money and giving it to politicians. That's what the "reformers" want to happen today.
It is time to stop listening to the "reformers" and to stop blaming everyone but the politicians. The problem is the politicians.
There are numerous reforms that need to happen and don't require violating the First Amendment and discouraging political participation. Free speech and ethical government aren't mutually exclusive.
The number one problem in this state is concentration of power. Too few people hold too much power. This primary problem needs to be the focus of citizens in reclaiming their state from a government that has been and continues to be an embarrassment.
Eco-censorship marches through Louisiana
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 1:40 PM
If the alarmists are so obviously right in the ongoing global warming debate, why are they so anxious to silent their opposition? You'd think they would be anxious to expose their silly arguments and faulty data. But, like the state of North Carolina disallowing any discussion of the science in its Climate Action Plan Advisory Group (CAPAG), the members of Louisiana's Public Service Commission are attempting to block any testimony from those who dissent from the gospel of Al Gore. Here's the story from Climate Depot.
Easley, Edwards probes will move forward unimpeded
Posted by Rick Henderson at 12:03 AM
The N&O's Andy Curliss reported last weekend that Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan had put together a three-member committee to nominate a replacement for U.S. Attorney George Holding, who's running the investigations of Democrats John Edwards and Mike Easley, with a recommendation seeming imminent.
However, today Curliss reports that Hagan has asked President Obama to keep Holding, a Bush appointee, in his job until he concludes the probes. "I don't feel it's in North Carolina's best interest to replace someone who is investigating these two very high profile people," she said.
There also could be a less high-minded reason for junking the replacement committee. From Curliss:
Nope, nothing suspicious about that.
Her [Hagan's] comments today came a day after the resignation of one member of the three-person screening panel that Hagan established to winnow candidates for the top prosecutors' positions in North Carolina.
Locke Clifford, a criminal defense lawyer from Greensboro, stepped down on Tuesday but did not cite a reason. ... Clifford's vehicle was spotted at the Easley home on Tuesday.
May 20--An Important Day in North Carolina History
Posted by Dr. Troy Kickler at 11:24 AM
Historians debate whether the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was penned in 1775 or during the waning years of the early republic era (a time when some North Carolinians tried to restore what they considered to be waning revolutionary prinicples). No matter, the document has been influential in N.C. history. Consider 1861 events. Or take a look at the state flag.
Public vs. private schools
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:52 AM
The Friedman Foundation released a new report comparing working conditions in public and private schools.
Findings included the following:
• Private school teachers are much more likely to say they will continue teaching as long as they are able (62 percent v. 44 percent), while public school teachers are much more likely to say they’ll leave teaching as soon as they are eligible for retirement (33 percent v. 12 percent) and that they would immediately leave teaching if a higher paying job were available (20 percent v. 12 percent).
• Private school teachers are much more likely to have a great deal of control over selection of textbooks and instructional materials (53 percent v. 32 percent) and content, topics, and skills to be taught (60 percent v. 36 percent).
• Private school teachers are much more likely to have a great deal of influence on performance standards for students (40 percent v. 18 percent), curriculum (47 percent v. 22 percent), and discipline policy (25 percent v. 13 percent).
• Public school teachers are much more likely to report that student misbehavior (37 percent v. 21 percent) or tardiness and class cutting (33 percent v. 17 percent) disrupt their classes, and are four times more likely to say student violence is a problem on at least a monthly basis (48 percent v. 12 percent).
• Private school teachers are much more likely to strongly agree that they have all the textbooks and supplies they need (67 percent v. 41 percent).
• Public school teachers are twice as likely as private school teachers to agree that the stress and disappointments they experience at their schools are so great that teaching there isn’t really worth it (13 percent v. 6 percent).
• Public school teachers are almost twice as likely to agree that they sometimes feel it is a waste of time to try to do their best as a teacher (17 percent v. 9 percent).
• Nearly one in five public school teachers has been physically threatened by a student, compared to only one in twenty private school teachers (18 percent v. 5 percent).
• Nearly one in ten public school teachers has been physically attacked by a student, three times the rate in private schools (9 percent v. 3 percent
Oprah on the Supreme Court
Posted by David N. Bass at 10:30 AM
A Fox News poll (PDF download) has found that 23 percent of Democrats say Oprah "would make a good Supreme Court Justice," while 71 percent say she wouldn't.
Not surprisingly, the favorable votes are fewer for Republicans -- 10 percent said she would make a good justice, 82 percent that she wouldn't.
The thought of Oprah interpreting constitutional law is a very unwelcome one on a Wednesday morning -- or at any time, for that matter. Doubtless, however, she would tally with the president's desire for an "empathetic" justice.
Maybe Dr. Phil could fill the next vacancy? During oral arguments, I could easily see him telling counsel to "get real."
Re: Continue to count ...
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:42 AM
Terry discussed this issue recently with Donna Martinez on Carolina Journal Radio. Here's a snippet of their conversation from carolinajournal.tv:
Carrboro's city 'newsletter'
Posted by David N. Bass at 09:38 AM
As Donna points out on Right Angles this morning, Carrboro has a new city-sponsored newsletter (formerly known as the Carrboro Citizen):
A 2-year-old weekly newspaper in Carrboro wants to do two things most news organizations can't or won't these days: print more copies and use public money to do it.
The town's Board of Aldermen made that possible Tuesday night, approving a $50,000 small business loan from a fund aimed at sparking local economic development. Its owners plan to use the money to expand their staff and headquarters, and nearly double their press run, from 6,000 to 10,000.
Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman said Carrboro is lucky to be home to a newspaper that's growing as many other papers shrink and cut staff.
Methinks Benjamin Franklin is doing 360's in his grave.
What the U.S. Government Bookstore means by "special value"
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:56 AM
Buy Biography of an Ideal: A History of the Federal Civil Service for $52.50, a "special value" book that previously sold for $50.00.
I suppose that is the way things work in Washington D.C.
Continue to count GED students as dropouts
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:10 AM
State Rep. Tricia Cotham, member of the North Carolina education establishment, wants to change the way dropouts are counted. Currently, dropout figures include students who leave (one might say drop out of) their traditional school and enroll in a community college to obtain a GED. A GED is no substitute for a high school diploma and should not be treated as its equivalent.
North Carolina's education establishment is embarrassed by the state's high number of dropouts and, rather than trying to solve the problem, would like to tinker with the numbers and pretend that there is no problem. Although recent legislative efforts to curb dropouts have failed, at least proponents of failed initiatives like dropout prevention grants acknowledge that there is a problem.
To be honest, I am not sure why Lynn Bonner of the News and Observer is writing about this issue now. Even she points out, "The bill did not make it out of either chamber for the legislature's self-imposed deadline for non-money legislation..." Moreover, the state released dropout figures earlier this year. And graduation is still weeks away. Perhaps she just wanted to give a shout out to Tricia Cotham.
Will pans smart-growth policies
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:08 AMAt least the new Newsweek will continue to feature the wisdom of George Will, who sharpens his quill this week to attack smart-growth silliness:
For many generations—before automobiles were common, but trolleys ran to the edges of towns—Americans by the scores of millions have been happily trading distance for space, living farther from their jobs in order to enjoy ample backyards and other aspects of low-density living. And long before climate change became another excuse for disparaging America's "automobile culture," many liberal intellectuals were bothered by the automobile. It subverted their agenda of expanding government—meaning their—supervision of other people's lives. Drivers moving around where and when they please? Without government supervision? Depriving themselves and others of communitarian moments on mass transit? No good could come of this.
Meacham offers one valuable observation
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:07 AMWe do learn one valuable piece of information from Jon Meacham’s most recent conversation (reported narrative?) with President Obama: the president likes power.
What he has learned is that he likes, and enjoys, power—the capacity to shape reality in his image and by his lights—and that he finds crisis defining, bracing and useful. That a president feels suited to power is hardly a startling observation, but that Obama so revels in it—in the understated way Obama revels in anything—confounds the competing popular impressions of his persona. Many of his followers see him as the embodiment of a kind of utopian progressive politics in which the brute application of power is passé, a relic of the ruins of the Age of Bush and Cheney. Many of his critics, meanwhile, think him weak, a crypto-socialist one-worlder who wants to offer rogue nations tea and sympathy.
What was it that Mises said about socialists?
How about covering news?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:05 AMNewsweek editor Jon Meacham explains in his latest editor’s note how the magazine has changed with the latest edition. Among the changes is the type of article Newsweek will publish:
There will, for the most part, be two kinds of stories in the new Newsweek. The first is the reported narrative — a piece, grounded in original observation and freshly discovered fact, that illuminates the important and the interesting. The second is the argued essay — a piece, grounded in reason and supported by evidence, that makes the case for something.
What is displaced by these categories? The chief casualty is the straightforward news piece and news written with a few (hard-won, to be sure) new details that does not move us significantly past what we already know.
In other words, “since we can’t do news, we’ll give you more opinion.” Of course, that last quote is fabricated. It’s my attempt to speak the truth on Meacham’s behalf.
If my attempt to put words in the Newsweek editor’s mouth rubs you the wrong way, perhaps you’ll have the same reaction to another instance of the same offense in the latest edition of Meacham’s magazine.
Struggling to find some bit of evidence that would put a positive spin on Nancy Pelosi’s recent statements about the CIA and waterboarding, writer Tina Brown gives up and writes the following:
She couldn't say what I suspect was the truth: "Look, we were conned about torture in the first briefing, and then, when I found out, it was too late. What was I going to do? Sure, Jane Harman sent her letter. Good for her. I was trying to fight this next horror show coming down in Iraq. The Republicans were killing us, and you in the press rolled over, too. You have to pick your battles, guys. This was hardball."
The House speaker couldn’t come up with a good statement on her own, so Newsweek will do it for her. A new focus for the magazine indeed.
Some good questions for self-professed liberals
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:03 AMI won’t profess to agree with everything James Kalb writes in The Tyranny of Liberalism, a recent book that explains its purpose with the subtitle: “Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality By Command.”
Kalb argues that liberalism in any form — even the classical liberalism that motivated the American Founders — will yield inexorably to the tyranny of government-mandated and -enforced equality of outcome. He skewers most American conservatives, as well, arguing that their brand of conservatism is weakened by fundamental acceptance of many destructive liberal principles.
Whether Kalb goes overboard or not, he makes some interesting points. One item that struck me as particularly useful was a list of questions (he calls them talking points) “traditionalists” should employ in their conversations with self-professed liberals:
- If liberalism is tolerant, why all the propaganda and reeducation programs?
- If it is based on consent, why the emphasis on judges, experts, bureaucrats, and theorists?
- If it is skeptical and empirical, why the demand for radical transformation of all social arrangements everywhere?
- If liberalism emphasizes the individual and unleashes creativity, why does it make everyone and everything the same?
Kalb lists another 10 questions, but you get the idea.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:59 AM
Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Karen McMahan's report on renewed discussions on Capitol Hill about gun control measures.
John Hood's Daily Journal examines the rumored N.C House budget plan.
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