Letters to the Editor for April 14
Electronic public notice is a bad idea
Several local governments are attempting to rewrite the laws on public notice. They claim that they can save money by not advertising their actions in local newspapers. Instead, municipal officials want to give the taxpayers notice of city and county activities on their own government websites.
Senate Bill 287, a proposed law entitled “Notice Publication by Some Local Governments,” was recently heard in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The new legislation attempts to change long-standing laws requiring citizens to be notified of important government activities in writing.
Currently, local officials must advertise in a paper of general circulation various public hearings and meetings involving things like the adoption of budget ordinances, the sale and disposition of government property, purchasing and contract bids, tax assessments, development agreements, referendums in special elections, as well as the dates of primary, general and special elections.
The new law seeks to end this mandate. Instead, it would allow cities and counties to advertise these important government functions by “electronic means,” in lieu of newspaper or other statutorily required publication.
As you might guess, local politicians and bureaucrats were lined up at the committee meeting to praise the legislation. They gushed about how efficient it would be and how much money they would save if all they had to do was publish notice of these events on their own websites.
None of them were concerned that in some parts of North Carolina only half the population has access to a computer. In other words, they were saying: hey, we are in the electronic age now! The old printing press is a thing of the past. Now everything is about websites and the Internet.
However, even in the electronic age, it is nice to have a hard copy of a real newspaper advertising a government event or activity. It provides proof that something is really taking place. Unlike multiple websites that may or may not be intelligently designed or properly linked, a newspaper is a newspaper.
It is not unheard of for government to be penny wise and pound-foolish. In this age of bloated bureaucracies and out of control spending, some things are just worth the money. The public has a right to know what its government is doing. Whenever officials and bureaucrats line up to tell you that they want to save you money by obscuring their activities, you should be wary. In its current form, this bill is a bad deal.
The good news is that the committee chairman, Senator Jim Davis, pulled the legislation and told the sponsors to continue to work on it. Hopefully, a compromise will be forthcoming that protects the public’s right to know what its government is doing and allows for some cost savings to the taxpayer.
Editor’s Note: Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a member of the State and Local Government Committee.
N.C. makes the national news for most extreme laws
North Carolina turned up on three TV networks this past week, ridiculed for the most extreme proposed voter suppression laws and the then proposal for a state religion.
Voter suppression laws will require everyone have a photo ID for the right to vote. What counts as a valid ID is unclear. Our popular early voting program will be cut in half with no night or weekend access and only 1 early voting place in each County! Even worse, parents of NC college students will be charged a NC tax penalty fee for their student to exercise their federal right to register and vote in our state where they attend college.
Our state motto is “To be, rather than to seem”. With Republicans in control, we will now only seem to have our right to vote and choose our own religion.
Today’s civics lesson for grade school students
“Now, please take your seats so we may learn about one of the most basic of our democratic functions in our state — free and fair elections of people who represent us in Raleigh.
“Students, everyone who serves in our legislature is elected from a district. So, give an advantage by creating districts not based on prinicples of fairness or equality, but the first step is to create a district in which you can reasonably be safe to be elected, no matter what your views of positions are about government or programs for the people.
“Then, the next step is to protect your district by minimizing the citizens who may have the right to vote: Shackle as many voters who might not be inclined to vote for you with burdens or proof and inconvenience in voting. That will tend to make it safer at election time for you. And if you are challenged, just say, ‘Oh, but that’s to restore confidence in elections and government.’
“Thank you, students, for your attention today to this ‘voluntary’ teaching of this civics lesson, because if we don’t, it might be mandated that we do.”
Protect North Carolina’s courts
As former Republican and Democratic governors, we often disagree. But here’s one area where we agree: North Carolina’s courts must be protected from the corrosive influence of special-interest campaign money.
Judges in North Carolina run for election; that can lead to the awkward situation of judges raising large campaign donations from those who appear in their courts. To prevent possible corruption, North Carolina began a public campaign financing program in 2004.
The program provides a statewide voter guide and an alternative source of campaign money to candidates for the NC Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, if they meet certain public trust conditions. They must accept strict spending limits, raise hundreds of small donations from voters to show broad support, and refuse PAC donations.
The program has been very successful. It frees judges from the endless money chase and prevents the appearance that justice is for sale. The program is voluntary and does not use an appropriation from the NC General Fund.
State legislators are debating changes in how we select our judges, but let’s all agree on this: As long as judges are elected, we must keep and strengthen the judicial public financing program. For more details, see ncvce.org.
Former Gov. Jim Holshouser
Former Gov. Jim Hunt
Airport Authority should not have taxing authority
I was pleased to read that our county commissioners, as well as others, have thrown their support to creating an “Authority” to manage the Charlotte airport. This world class facility is crucial to our regional economic development. Allowing it to fall into the hands of political operatives would be catastrophic. I, too, support the “Authority”. But with one caveat. The “Authority” should NOT be be granted taxing rights on Union County citizens or property owners.
As I read Senate Bill 81, one section, 7.(e), says the “Authority” would not be allowed to levy taxes. However, and here is where I have concerns, Section 6.(a)(20),on page 5 says “excercise all the powers conferred by Chapter 63 of the General Statutes or any successor Chapter of Law”. GS 63 spells out many rules pertaing to airports, including the mechanicisms to establish tax districts with ability to levy taxes on property to pay for “Authority” bonds, buildings, etc.
Since the “Authority”, if created, will have to assume a whole lot of bond indebtedness, ($700 million I’m told), now shouldered by the airport and Charlotte taxpayers, I can see the need for language allowing the “Authority” to have taxing ability to back up the airport if and when profits are not sufficient to pay of the bonds. Without the backing of taxpayers, I can not imagine why the current bondholders would agree to such a swap.
Also keep in mind that each of the counties will have one vote on the board overseeing the “Authority”. Combined that means that counties outside Mecklenburg will have only 5 of the 13 votes on the Board. This number could not stop actions detrimental to our county.
Efforts are underway in Raleigh to strike the ambiguous language in Senate Bill 81 pertaining to taxing authority. It would be helpfull if our commissioners made their support incumbent on guarantees that this “Authority” will not be the first regional tax that some leaders have long championed.
Former State Representative
and Chairman of Centralina Council of Goovernments
GOP platform is roadmap, follow it
What value is the Republican Party ‘Platform’ other than a ‘piece of paper’ when (y)our ‘GOP leadership’ is shaped and approved from the ‘grassroots’ of our Party, displayed as a roadmap for leaders to follow, but its’ precise and detailed values are ‘never applied’ or ‘required’?
Is it possible for the Republican Party ‘leadership’ to return our GOP and our nation back to include a ‘common-sense’ GOP Platform on ‘social issues’, or is the GOP going to continue downhill and into the sewer?
Will the GOP return to Christian values as our Founding Fathers established in our Constitution? Many others are more than willing to follow the GOP as our Party will then expand.
When President Ronald Reagan said to ‘Build a big tent’, he explained the need to build the Republican Party with others who would support similar ‘social and fiscal’ issues some 80% of the time. Support of the issues must be based on ‘differing’ issues; Liberal Democrat Party issues v. Conservative Republican Party issues. President Reagan’s ‘win’ was to persuade others to accept his philosophy; and not for President Reagan, you and/or me to accept theirs.
The Republican Party Platform and its’ ‘leadership’ must subscribe to ‘Social, Fiscal, and National Security’ issues; in that order. When the ‘Social’ issues become the forerunner, the other issue concerns follow in the ‘right’ path; not necessarily so in any other order.
If the GOP ‘leadership’ continues to degrade (y)our Republican Party based on ‘shameful’, ‘immoral’, and/or other ‘wasteful spending’ on fiscal issues, the Republican Party will die and ‘many others’ will move forward with another “Party” based on ‘moral, fiscal, and National Security’ issue values.
Our Republican Party does not need ‘Republicans In Name Only’ (RINO) or any other ‘Democrat look-alikes’ in our Party.
‘Main-stream Medias’ and Liberal Democrats steer the ‘out-of-control’ spending while ‘RINO’ Republicans join the left-wing Democrats’ proposals in crossing the ‘political aisle’ to vote and accept more additional spending. Secondly, these same legislators prepare and dominate lower social standards. These ‘left-wing’ agendas are wrong.
It is this ‘left-wing’ representation that has and is leaving our ‘ever-growing’ National Debt approaching $17 Trillion. At the same time, our Judiciary, our ‘public schools’, and our Liberal elected and appointed bureaucrats are ignoring and/or disobeying our Constitution, US Code, and our States’ General Statutes. Active elected and appointed Democrats and ‘Democrat look-alikes’ masked as ‘RINO’ Republicans are guiding our declining communities with more unfeeling, senseless, and lawless activity. Our nation is becoming a ‘nation of individuals’ as our freedoms slide away from a ‘system of laws’.
There is more to being a ‘sincere’ Republican Party candidate than putting an ‘R’ beside any individual’s name. A ‘genuine’ Republican Party candidate will support at least 80 percent of our ‘social, fiscal, and National Security’ issues as defined in our Republican Party ‘Platform’.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) must save our Republican Party’s ‘donor dollars’ in providing support for responsible GOP candidates who will support the GOP Platform, and to save our USA. (Y)our Republican Party ‘Platform’ is a roadmap; lead yourself, or follow others to greatness in America. Help all ‘devoted’ true Republican Party candidates make it happen!
Oscar Y. Harward
Please, no more pictures of dead animals
The pictures featured in the outdoor column have concerned me for some time. I don’t care for the written part either, but I don’t have to read it. However, the pictures are unavoidable. The only “frenzy” they put me in is one to cancel my subscription. I know I am not alone on this. The local newspaper is not the place to feature dead bodies of what was once a beautiful part of nature. Doing so seems to legitimize the killing of innocent animals for sport. If a person feels they need to “show off” their dead trophy, send it to a hunting magazine where that sort of thing is expected.
The Enquirer-Journal has been a resource you can depend on for important information, concerning our community and upcoming events. Let’s keep it that way. Keep your outdoor column for those who feel it is important and want to read it. But please, hold off on the unnecessary, depressing pictures.
To whomever’s heart this will touch
I have a daughter. She is married to a very nice man. They have a very handsome five-year-old son. I am going to refer to the son as TC. TC is autistic and he does not talk. He is a very picky eater. It is very hard to get him to go to sleep. His mom and dad can never ever get very much sleep or rest because TC runs, jumps, bangs on everything. They recently had to move because of his erratic behavior which was disturbing the neighbors. TC goes to school but often he can’t because of a cold or temperature. There are several times his mom has to go get him from school because of him feeling ill.
TC’s mother can’t even think of working because she has her hands full there at home. She is a very good mother and both parents are very protective of their son.
TC’s parents have tried every aspect of help they know possible for him. A therapist sees TC on a regular basis. He is on medication. They have two cars and neither is dependable. They have used my car several times or rented one which is not affordable. Both cars have been in th shop about as much as out. the cost of car repairs is draining them dry.
They can’t get financial help for TC, only Medicaid. His dad recently enrolled in school with the intention of landing a better paying job. He now works full time, some times part-time when he can and goes to school.
TC gets occupational therapy weekly, speech therapy weekly, AVH therapy four times a week. They must have reliable transportation. They live in South Carolina only 30 minutes from Charlotte. If any one reads this and feels the need to help them get a car that would mean so much to them. They are unaware of this letter, but I know it is much needed.
I can be reached at 704-578-4182.
Celebration marks UDI contribution
Unkion Diversified Industries, which opened in 1970, at 2815 Walkup Avenue in Monroe, is our Union County sheltered workshop for special needs adults.
Jimmy and Carolyn Tsiamis and sons of the Brown Derby Restaurant and the family of Ms. E. Eloise Renegar, hosted an Easter celebration at UDI. Ms. Renegar was a charter client of 39 years. The emphasis of the party was on joy, good food, and great dancing. Client Ms Sharon H, sang “You Are My Sunshine” to Executive Director Mike Young in honor of his birthday.
Client Scott G. gave thanks for the food, Easter and the resurrection. The Rev. Bill Englebreath played the dulcimer while clients and staff enjoyed lunch. Each client took home several gifts.
Thank you to all the folks, churches and businesses that contributed to the party.
Nancy Renegar Walkup