Tuesday, March 31, 2009

NC Attorney General Asks for Federal Control

Who does Roy Cooper work for?

The Attorney General for North Carolina filed an amicus brief in a Supreme Court case encouraging the federal government to continue to have control over North Carolina state elections.

The case challenges the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which gives the US Justice Department total control over elections in states that have "historically suppressed minority votes." So why would Cooper, a state elected official, beg the US Supreme Court to put the federal government in charge of him?

These days, it seems North Carolina voters have more to fear from state elected officials like Cooper than the federal government. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court said the state could no longer rely on the Voting Rights Act to force the election of minority candidates. Hopefully, the Court will continue this trend and put North Carolina elections back in the hands of North Carolina voters.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lottery Corruption Spreads to Supreme Court

Despite being passed in violation of the General Assembly's own rules and all standards of professional ethics, the North Carolina "education" lottery is here to stay.

The NC Supreme Court deadlocked in a 3-3 tie, which means that the lottery survives. Unfortunately for people who support good government and accountability, we will never know which Justices voted which way. Like everything else related to the lottery's creation, this becomes just another backroom deal that the public can know nothing about.

State Sen. Tony Rand says he's "delighted" that this "goes into the win column" in favor of the corrupt General Assembly. "To think that the taxpayers of North Carolina might be deprived that significant amount of money at a time when the state is facing unprecedented fiscal problems was a frightening thought to me." Tony, where is the money coming from if not from the taxpayers of North Carolina?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bring Back Jesse Helms

Lots of people are missing former US Senator Jesse Helms these days. In a letter to the editor of the American Spectator, former Republican White House aide Joseph P. Duggan says conservatives need to ask themselves, "What Would Jesse Do?" While the mainstream media are sure to criticize Republicans if they fail to jump on the Obama bandwagon, Duggan reminds us that the former Senator from North Carolina was politically rewarded for acting as a roadblock:

For his success using the "hold" to delay or kill legislation and objectionable nominations for ambassadorships and policy positions, Helms was known by both friend and foe as "Senator No." ... The Senate needs a new conservative champion of foreign policy realism who will, to paraphrase Bill Buckley, stand athwart extremist nominees and noxious legislation, yelling "Stop!"

Meanwhile, in the Civitas Review, Helms Center President John Dodd attempts to answer the question, "What Would Jesse Say?" Dodd makes the case that Republicans did not lose power because they failed to work with Democrats -- but rather because they were too willing to compromise conservative principles:

[Senator Helms] would point out that we have far too often strayed from our principles on key issues in order to seek more political power. This has allowed the opposition to coopt conservatives on important issues, like the need for fiscal restraint. Senator Helms would remind us that, although we should be willing to compromise our preferences, we should never be willing to compromise our principles.

Here's hoping the next generation Jesse Helms is out there right now, about to make a big splash in North Carolina politics.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welfare State

This can't be good: According to the Treasury Department,
North Carolina is receiving more funds from the TARP bailout than any other state except New York: $28.5 billion!

Of course, to say that North Carolina is receiving it is a huge misstatement. Almost all of that money is going to Bank of America. The mega-bank is essentially being rewarded for unfair competition - using unsustainable business practices to put all our homegrown local banks out of business. Now it's up to the taxpayer to sustain the Charlotte empire. They're taking us over with our own money.

Meanwhile, Gov. Perdue just appointed career bureaucrat Dempsey Benton to oversee the new federal "stimulus" money coming into the state. [This after Benton's dismal failure as Director of Health and Human Services during which, among other things, the state's mental health system was revealed to be a giant scandal.]

The State of North Carolina gets $6 billion (not the $25 billion that Bank of America gets, showing us exactly where we fit in the pecking order) to "rebuild the state’s infrastructure, including highways and schools." Again, North Carolinians are coughing up tax dollars to the federal government, which it uses in return to take ownership of our critical infrastructure. Evidence of this is that one of Benton's assignments will be to "establish lines of communication with federal and state agencies." In other words, he will be working to make our state agencies part of the federal government.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monumental Ignorance

Columnist Peder Zane of the News & Observer is calling on Gov. Perdue to tear down the Confederate monument in front of the State Capitol. Zane refers to the Confederate monument as "Raleigh's most prominent piece of public art, a signature symbol with an ugly past representing values and ambitions that no longer reflect who we are."

What values and ambitions might those be? State sovereignty? Self determination? If those values no longer reflect North Carolina, then the solution is not to tear down Confederate monuments, but to build more of them. As Stephen Parsons writes, "that is a cause worth remembering with honor."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Business School

Gov. Beverly Perdue created a new post this week - "Chief Executive Officer" of the North Carolina state school system. Dr. William Harrison will serve as both CEO and Chairman of the State Board of Education.

Problem is, we just re-elected someone to run the school system - Superintentendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson.

Apparently the position was created to eliminated the logjam between the Board and Superintendent. Atkinson dealt with the conflict in her previous term by just abdicating her responsibilities, and appointing a Deputy Superintendent to handle day-to-day operations.

Although Perdue is being praised by the usual suspects for her decision, no one seems to be concerned about pesky details like democracy. The only position established by law is the Superintendent - not a Deputy and not a CEO - and that position is supposed to be determined by the vote of the people, not a political favor from a sitting governor.

Also, having the same person serve as Chairman of the Board and the Executive violates all sorts of corporate law principles and separation-of-powers concerns. Logjams in government are healthy things - they show that people in decision-making positions are looking over each other's shoulders, preventing corruption, all to benefit the electorate (or are we "shareholders" now?).

Sen. Martin Nesbitt (D-Asheville) says this is a blatant power grab by the governor to take over the school system and stifle any opposition:

What the governor says, goes, Nesbitt said, and no one within the state Department of Public Instruction is allowed to offer different opinions. "We've muzzled other voices that might tell us what we need to know," he said.
Equally troubling is that Harrison has been instrumental in imposing federal standards and federal regulations over the state education system, through evil tools such as No Child Left Behind.

North Carolina has the obligation to run its own schools -- even the federal statutes admit they have no authority to impose educational mandates on the states. But with no representative of the people in the process, Harrison and Perdue can completely hand control of the state educational system over to the federal government.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Corporate Handouts

The UNC Center for Competitive Economies reports that North Carolina should end its system of providing tax credits to recruit businesses to the state, according to Forbes:

"The incentives that worked well 10 years ago are not performing as well today and suggests that the portfolio should be reallocated to capture higher returns and changing (to) the types of incentives that we use," center director Brent Lane told the Joint Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives.

If that means ending corporate welfare for select industries with large lobbying budgets, then all is well. Unfortunately, the devil is in the details. The Fayetteville Observer reports that the "incentives" favored by the Center are just a more direct mechanism for funneling money to corporations:

The report said incentives expanded by then-Gov. Mike Easley are more useful. They include paying cash to companies for creating jobs.

Here's an alternative idea: Reduce state spending. End all programs that favor redistribution from one group (or one industry) to another. Reduce taxes across the board to reflect the fact that we no longer have so many welfare programs to administer. That favorable tax climate, and the hardworking population of North Carolina, are the only "incentives" industry should need.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Unconstitutional Judges?

Former N.C. Supreme Court justice Bob Orr is no longer on the bench, but still working to preserve the North Carolina Constitution. According to the News & Observer:
The North Carolina Constitution says the terms of the governor and lieutenant governor "shall commence on the first day of January next after their election and continue until their successors are elected and qualified."

That means Mike Easley was no longer N.C. governor as of 1 January. But instead of retiring and leaving the business of state government to his successor, Easley used the interim between 31 December and 10 January (when Beverly Perdue was inaugurated) to make midnight political appointments of his cronies:

On Jan. 9, he appointed the daughter-in-law of a close ally to a judgeship, and he appointed an administration official to a seat on the state industrial commission.

Easley's supporters would say Perdue could not have been governor because she had not been inaugurated. No argument there. But neither could Easley have been governor, according to the letter of the law. UNC law professor John Orth says Easley must have been governor because "somebody's got to be in charge."

As North Carolinians, it's time to demand that our elected officers begin to act based on legal ethics rather than political expediency. And the place to start is with the text of the Constitution.