NC Political Connections By News 14 Carolina reporter Tim Boyum
(At my house, I cannot get this channel anymore, as we were forced to give up cable due to poor bandwidth issues and move to the better performing Directv. Sorry Tim.)
Fern Shubert Speaks for Us Published by admirers of former Senator Fern Shubert. Shubert served the ole' North State well, until stepping down from her office to make a run for Governor in 2004. While she is greatly missed from office, she knows where the "bodies are buried" and is still found digging up the truth.
ARRA News Service News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & country. We seek to uphold traditional family values, Republican principles & ideals, limited government, free markets to promote innovation, & individual freedom. The ARRA News Service is an outreach of the Arkansas Republican Assembly.
Crystal Clear Conservative Blogger Krystal Weeks writes about N. Virginia and DC metro area politics, as well as national issues. Check her out!
Cuba Generation Y This 30-something blogger publishes at great risk to show readers outside Cuba what everyday life is like inside the oppressive, Communist nation. Think you like Communism...read this blog and think again!
Smart Girl Politics Conservative Women bloggers, and a few men, who are here to refresh you when you are thirsty.
LadyBlog A modern take on traditional women. Classier than tea service. Like Fight Club but with better hygiene. Sightly more aggro than a cucumber sandwich.
The Political Byline One of my fellow Top Conservatives on Twitter. Check him out! He's not afraid to speak his mind. Based in the Motorcity.
Capital Letters Jordan Schrader covers North Carolina government for the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Sister Toldjah National conservative blogger who tells it like it is. She loves North Carolina and occasionally picks up items from KCC on her blog.
Called 2 Action Check out this site, run by Steve Noble. He's a member of the religious right and he tells the truth as he sees it. He calls himself an equal opportunity offender. Check out what he has to say!
NC Politics New Bern native (and your blogger's fellow high school classmate -NBSHS '85) Steve Hale writes from Pitt County about his take on the North Carolina Political scene. Check out his blog and offer up your comments.
Dateline Obamastan Cary's John Byrnes writes about national, state, and local politics. He currently serves in the Army National Guard.
Driving With One Hand Kevin LeCount is apparently driving with his LEFT hand, as this blog is written by my good friend who works for SEANC, the union of the NC State Employees. His wife, Heidi, works at my alma mater, Meredith and are good folks, despite their political leanings. Check them out.
Working people nationwide are signing petitions, and making calls to tell their U.S. Senators, letting them know that they deserve the right to a secret ballot regarding union elections. It's just plain wrong for a worker or group of workers to pressure others, and then force them to openly vote a certain way. That removes a key value our forefathers fought and died for.
During the Presidents' Day holiday, the NC Chapter of the Americans for Prosperity held rallies in Greensboro and in Raleigh, letting junior U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) know the facts on the impending card check legislation. Those in Raleigh, stood out in extremely cold weather to make their opinions known!
In Greensboro, Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC, 6th District) excited the faithful and in Raleigh, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) symbolically "voted in secret" (left).
The video below is a synopsis of the events of the two days. Watch closely as you may even find yourself or someone you know. Your blogger did. The events were part of the AFP's "Save my Ballot Tour".
Former GOP State Chairman Frank A. Rouse (left) never did simply retire to his home in Morehead City. He has stayed active, especially from his keyboard and his telephone. The man knows more people in this state than anyone else and he gets a great deal of information unavailable to others.
Here is his new column,Frankly Speaking, from the man your blogger calls only "Sir".
Co-Frontrunner Woody White of New Hanover County has previously announced.
Frankly Speaking has learned that White has the Ambassador vote sewed up. Bush Administration Ambassadors Jim Culbertson of Forsyth County and Jim Cain of Wake County are supporting White.
Culbertson is from the more moderate wing of the party and Cain is from the Helms/Congressional Club wing. Former Congressman and former State GOP Chairman Bill Cobey is also supporting White. Patrick Ballantine, former State Senator and gubernatorial candidate is supporting White. Ballantine and White are former law partners. White served out Ballantine's Senate term when Patrick resigned to run for governor in 2004. You can go to this link for more information from Woody White.
Editor's Note: Look for information to come out soon from Adams. The new chairman will be elected at the NC GOP State Convention during the weekend of June 12-14.
After the thrashing we took in '08, the Democrats think N. C. is a blue state. Ain't necessarily so. The 'crats have some horses raring and ready to go.
The 2nd term congressman from the 11th district is already running. The problem is that he is running against U. S. Senator Richard Burr (R- N. C.) and he hasn't won his primary YET.
In the last 2 weeks he has voted against the Stimulus Bill twice. Shuler was one of only 11 "Blue Dogs" against the House bill and one of only seven Democrats against the final compromise bill.
Needless to say he was the only Democrat from N. C. to do so. Shuler also criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid publicly. It is obvious he is trying to run as a conservative against Burr.
Shuler is an attractive candidate. Running as a conservative Democrat against Burr, Shuler would give conservative Democrats an excuse to stay on the Democrat Roost. He would automatically get the black vote and the liberal Democrat vote. Shuler would also probably have a financial advantage because his party controls the state and federal governments and Democrats aren't statesmen when it comes to squeezing money out of patronage.
Shuler would be hard to beat. It would take a maximum Republican effort to win if the Democrats clear out and let Shuler have the nomination.
And now for the rest of the story.
N. C. Attorney General Roy Cooper:
Cooper is a "hair and teeth" politician. He's pretty. If he had a little more courage, we'd be calling him Senator instead of General. Cooper is a mainstream N. C. Democrat, not a "wild-eyed liberal" and he is not a conservative. He would beat Shuler in a primary because he would get the black and liberal vote. BUT, the word is he wants a clear field against Shuler.
He doesn't want a primary. Why? If Secretary of State Elaine Marshall gets in the primary, she could cause a problem. Almost 60% of the voters in a Democrat Primary are females. What about State Rep. Dan Blue? Over 40% of the Democrat Primary voters are black. What about charismatic Rep. Grier Martin or even Sen. Malcolm Graham? Talk about too many cooks.
Because of the 2008 election, the Democrats feel empowered, the women feel empowered, the blacks feel empowered, and the liberals feel empowered.
Of the crowd mentioned above Cooper should be the favorite, but remember the 40% rule. Anything can happen.
Don't throw the baby out with the bath water yet, it ain't over till it's over. Senator Richard Burr (left) has a solid conservative voting record. He is a handsome, charismatic statesman that can hold his own on the campaign trail with anyone, even without his socks if necessary.
Five minutes is a long time in politics. Burr's best bet, at this point in time, would be "anybody but Shuler," but any of the others mentioned could be a problem.
We need to elect a "kick ass" State Chairman that will lead us back to the "Promised Land" where conservative principles trump pragmatism, character counts and it's not politically incorrect to be politically aggressive.
In my opinion the following is the "Gold Standard" for the prerequisites for our next state chairman.
1- Posses a solid conservative philosophy. 2- Have an outstanding character. 3- Have demonstrated leadership ability. 4- Work full time, be totally committed to winning, Totally!!! That means family and social life too. 5- Hair and teeth, be able to communicate on TV and on the stump. 6-Consider himself to be personally expendable, be willing to fall on his sword for the cause, for the party or a candidate. 7- Have no ambitions for public office, be the hatchet man, not a "candidate type." 8- Be savagely independent, loyal only to the party, no faction or geographical favorites. 9- Be a strong type "A" personality, so he can go toe to toe with potential contributors, a candidate's wife, a sorehead or a lousy reporter. 10- Campaign hard for the position of chairman so he will have a constituency, when elected.
I'd like to throw in a personal airplane and be able to fly it, but that may be a little too restrictive.
So we may have to do what we did in the presidential race, put on a good face and support whomever the party chooses.
A number of bad bills have begun to pop up in the North Carolina
Legislature. With all the media's attention on President Obama's shenanigans in
Washington, we can't afford to sit by and let the troublemakers in
Raleigh go unnoticed.
Below are some of the bills that have been
introduced with action items to take for defeat. Please contact your representatives in the
NC House and the NC Senate and urge them to oppose these bills.
out who represents you in Raleigh, CLICK HERE and use the "who represents me" search by zip code on the lower-right side.
H88 - The Healthy Youth Act (aka. comprehensive sex education)
year's "comprehensive sex education" bill never made it out of
committee thanks to grassroots conservatives like us. But now, the bill
is back and so once again we need to take action. Note how the primary
sponsors have titled this the "healthy youth act." What a fraud! This
revised bill tries to calm the fears of parents opposed to immoral sex
education in the public schools by giving parents a choice of
abstinence or "comprehensive sex education." But, as that old saying
goes: the devil is in the details.
Section 5, part A of H88 reads
"Teaches respect for marriage and committed relationships" - a green
light for the schools to equate gay, lesbian, transgendered and any
other type of relationship with the sacrament of marriage between one
man and one woman.
Section 5, part D reads "Teaches about the
effectiveness and safety of all FDA-approved contraceptive methods in
preventing pregnancy." In other words: birth control and abortion.
Bills such as H88 are a gold mine for supremacist judges and activist
e's what could happen if H88 passes and is signed into
law: A gay-rights group could sue the NC public schools, demanding that
books like "Heather Has Two Mommies" be taught under Section 5, part A
of the bill. Representatives from the abortion industry could also sue
for their agenda to be included in the public schools under Section 5,
part D. Please contact the leaders of the Committee on Education where
H88 currently resides. CLICK HERE for committee members.
H207 - The Safer Communities Act (aka. hate crimes)
H88, the sponsors of this bill have made sure to cover up their agenda
with "safer communities act." Again, the devil is in the details.
Section 2 starts off with "Ethnic intimidation; teaching any technique
to be used for ethic intimidation"
Part A goes on to clarify ethnic
intimidation to include "real or perceived sexual orientation" in
addition to the descriptions of every other human being on the face of
the earth. First of all, we already have laws against assaulting,
stalking and making threats, so this new bill is not needed. H207, if
passed and signed into law will be another green light for militant
plaintiffs and supremacist judges.
Faith-based groups who minister to
convert homosexuals could find themselves prosecuted for "ethnic
intimidation" under H207. Anyone who wants to play the victim could
file a lawsuit charging "ethnic intimidation."
Our First Amendment
rights would be assault. H207 has been assigned to the Committee on
Judiciary I. Please contact members of this committee and urge them to
shelve this intimidating bill. CLICK HERE for committee members.
H161 - Require Six-Year-Olds To Attend School (anti Home school bill)
parent who home-schools their child should get on the phone right away
to their representative in the NC House and members of the Committee on
Education where H161 resides.
Section 1 requires parents/guardians to
make sure their child between age six and 16 attends school
continuously for a period equal to the time which the public school to
which the child is assigned is in session.
Section 1 clarifies "school"
as "all public and non-public schools as have teachers and curricula
that are approved by the State Board of Education." Parents of children
who continue to miss "school" for what the public schools deem
unexcused absences must work with a "school attendance counselor" to
"eliminate the problem".
This is a nanny-state, Hillary Clinton, "it
takes a village" bill that will intimidate the rights of parents who
choose private, parochial and home school for their children.
could turn out to be especially dangerous if people like Bill Ayers or
Ward Churchill wind up on the State Board of Education and start
determining approved curricula. Please contact members of
the Committee on Education and urge them to oppose this bill. CLICK HERE for committee members.
H177 - Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces Act (anti-small business bill)
Carolina's unemployment rate is now higher than the national average so
why on earth should we pass a law that will drive more employers out of
business and out of our state?
That's what H177 will do by requiring
that all workers have paid sick leave to address their own health needs
and those of their families.
Many small business simply can't afford to
provide 32 hours of accrued paid sick leave for every employee and
large businesses can afford leave North Carolina for other states (or
countries) where the government won't require them to provide 56 such
hours per employee. H177 is with the Committee on Commerce, Small
Business and Entrepreneurship. CLICK HERE to contact members of this committee.
S14 - Create Employment Safety and Security Commission
another anti-business bill that will halt entrepreneurship and chase
job providers out of North Carolina.
S14 creates a new taxpayer-funded
bureaucracy and intimidates employers with big-brother oversight and
costly business modifications. Part III, section 9 of the bill defines
this new commission's "advisory council" to include representatives
from labor (unions) and a "representative with a knowledge of migrant
labor" (illegal aliens).
CLICK HERE to contact members of the Commerce Committee; tell them to defeat this job-killing bill. Editor's Note: James Andrew Dunn is state president of the Eagle Forum North Carolina. Your blogger thanks him for this informative, yet frightening update.
The US Senate took advantage of three RINO (turncoat) Republicans Monday to cut off debate, setting up a big vote on Tuesday over Obama's so-called "Stimulus" (spending) bill. A smack of the wet noodle to RINO Senators Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine.These Republican-in-name-only Senators should be ashamed!
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) says on his own websitethat he is against the bill as is, but would accept it if changes are made.
Please contact Senator Burr and tell him to not accept any changes and to vote NO, NO MATTER WHAT!
Meanwhile, newly elected Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) is doing as she is told, and voting the party line. (We'll see if she can ever stand on her own and stop being Harry Reid's Lap Puppy. )
Please urge her to vote NO. If she receives enough calls, faxes, and emails, perhaps she could change her mind.
Both Senators' contact information is below. If you get through on the telephone, be brief, leave a message with the person that answers, and above all, be polite.
Please note that e-mails are never as effective so keep trying to call.
Senator Kay Hagan: DC Phone: 202-224-6342, Raleigh Senate Office: 919-856-4630 E-mail: Senator_Hagan@hagan.senate.gov *Please note underscore (_) between Senator and Hagan
Please note that Senator Burr (left at the 2008 GOP Convention) is up for re-election in 2010. He's been threatened with a more conservative primary opponent, so your blogger would assume he would make a hard turn to the right, these next two years.
Your blogger plans to work on Burr's re-election campaign and will support him in his re-election effort.
However, the Senator needs to reel in the conservative base that is so strong in North Carolina. In fact, a little suite of offices in North Raleigh, saw the re-birth of the modern conservative movement in the early 1970s. These offices were the site of the Congressional Club and they gave birth to the careers of many conservative politicians, most notably, the late Senator Jesse Helms. (The club also saved Ronald Reagan's political career in 1976.)
North Carolina has a strong tradition of conservatism and Sen. Burr would do well to recognize that. He simply cannot afford to have this voting bloc "sit home" on election day, 2010.
Conservatives will, unfortunately, sit home, if they are not excited about a Republican candidate. That has happened a number of times in this blogger's recent memory, resulting in sour losses for Republicans.
Though your blogger never approves of anyone sitting home on election day for any reason, Burr needs to stir up the conservatives, as well as his traditional moderate base in the central part of the state.
He is expected to be challenged by Congressman Heath Shuler (D-11th District) and we'll have plenty more on that race.
Meanwhile, please do not give up and keep making those calls. Thank you!
This article originally appeared in an email sent by NC SPIN and the copyright and credit is theirs. However, your blogger thought it was so good, she just had to pass it along. KCC rarely re-posts info by others, but thought this was necessary information that readers should consider prior to election day:
Want to know how Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight remains in power? It’s simple. He gives large sums of money to the State Democratic Party earmarked for Democrats he wants to win. Basnight gave the state party more than $1 million.
Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand has given more than $370,000. Senate Budget Leader Linda Garrou chipped in almost $200,000 and Finance Chair Dan Clodfelter added another $81,000. And rank and file Senate Democrats are “encouraged” to contribute $25 to $50,000 to the party. Through these earmarked contributions, more than $513,000 has been given to Senator Julia Boseman to prop up her hotly contested election.
Three questions need answering:
Why do PACS, lobbyists and special interest groups continue to dump large sums of money into Basnight’s coffers even after we passed new laws that restricted their influencing peddling?
How do you think Boseman and other beneficiaries of these large sums of money from Basnight and Senate leadership are going to vote when these people who helped finance her return to office come asking for support on key issues? Why isn’t there a huge public outcry to change our campaign finance laws to restrict the amount of soft-money contributions from political parties to candidates?
Answer those three and you will get a clearer picture of how North Carolina is being run.
By the way, House Speaker Joe Hackney is also playing the game. He’s contributed over $600,000 to the State Democratic Party. And Republicans don’t have clean hands either. Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger has given the State GOP more than $180,000.
Editor's Note: We thank Tom Campbell and the folks at NC SPIN for the excellent job they do covering state government. For the record, State Sen. Phil Berger is a virtual choirboy when compared with the antics of Basnight, Rand, and Boseman! It appears that Campbell only included Phil Berger's name (not to be confused with communist Doug Berger) to seem non-partisan.
Phil Berger and the GOP are rightly giving party money to the campaign of Bettie Fennell, who is running against embattled Democrat R.C. Soles. He has a record a mile long, and stands alongside Basnight and Rand.
Last year, when the Anson County Commissioners were presented the list of unpaved roads the state wanted to pave, one of them had the good sense to ask why the state wanted to pave McAllister Farm Road when it didn't even have any houses on it.
When the state wants to hand out money, it is rare that anyone turns it down, and that road, while sparsely traveled, at least was not a dead end road.
Anson County's Bridge to Nowhere is one of many examples of our tax dollars at work. The bridge is at the very end of a dead-end road that is worse than the average farm driveway. There is not a single home or business served by the bridge.
But take a look at the picture (above) of Anson County's Bridge to Nowhere. It shows a bridge at the very end of a dead-end "road" that is worse than your average farm driveway.There is not a single home or business served by the bridge. By all appearances, it was built to permit someone with the right friends at DOT to harvest trees. If you want to see it easily, check out SR 1707 on Anson County's GIS.
At least it didn't cost as much as the amazingly expensive bridges built in Bev Perdue's(and your blogger's) home city, New Bern, and it certainly cost millions less than bridge/overpass over the Neuse and Trent River (Highway 17/70) and was completed in 2000. (left)
There is yet another overpass under construction just west of New Bern designed to serve a planned bridge over the Neuse that may never be built and is hardly a priority compared to projects being postponed, theoretically due to lack of funds.
Anson County's Bridge to Nowhere raises questions, as does the new overpass west of New Bern, but if you really want to get upset, go on Google Earth and take a look at the project currently underway in Pamlico County to widen Highway 55 to 5 lanes. There's no question about that project; 5-laning Highway 55 in Pamlico County is a political boondoggle that makes the money involved in the many recent scandals involving DOT Board Members look like chicken feed.
That's right. DOT is currently constructing a five lane highway from New Bern into a county of barely 13,000 people by widening a road far beyond any rational need.
The project reminds me of Anson's Bridge to Nowhere; east of the bridge there is forest while east of the road lies the Pamlico Sound. Pamlico County has some beautiful scenery, but given the geography of the area, there's no way that road will ever serve as many people as the roads being postponed to divert funds to that project.
People in the Piedmont are told there's so little road money available we must accept toll roads, but there's no mention of putting a toll on that road. There's supposedly not enough money to complete the 485 loop or the Raleigh outer belt, but Pamlico County is getting a five lane road almost to the front door of Cutter Bay. Ah, maybe that explains it.
The developers of River Dunes and Cutter Bay either have the right friends or are incredibly lucky or both. Not only have they managed to achieve a near monopoly on sewer capacity in Pamlico County, they've managed to move one of the poorest and most sparsely populated areas in the state to the head of the line for a major road widening project.
The people of Pamlico County certainly deserve help from Raleigh, but what they need most is help cleaning up the mess created using state funds to benefit the well-connected at the expense of the longtime residents of Pamlico County. Millions of dollars of federal and state funds have been spent, supposedly to improve water quality, but it seems there might have been a hidden agenda.
Money to serve unsewered communities was spent extending sewer service to an area that had soil well suited to septic systems, and recent tests suggest that was money wasted. But by using sewer capacity to provide sewer service to existing residents served by septic, and by siting a large prison there that used up even more capacity, the overall availability of sewage treatment capacity was depleted giving certain developers a near monopoly on new development.
What the people of the rest of the state need is an explanation of how Marc Basnightand his Appropriations Committee Chairmen, including Bev Perdue, Kay Hagan and Walter Dalton, have managed to divert so much money from the high population areas of the Piedmont that are choking on traffic to Marc's sparsely settled corner of the state.
Better yet, how about an explanation of how so many of the papers that theoretically serve the people of Charlotte or Raleigh or Union County or the other places that have just flat been robbed have managed to so completely miss the story.
Dumb or dishonest? You choose.
Jim Black was a sideshow. The main event was in the Senate.
If you agree, please share this information as widely as possible. Very few people who live in the Piedmont even know that while they're stuck in horrendous traffic jams, a five lane road is being built in Pamlico County, a county of barely 13,000 that doesn't even have a car dealer. While counties with populations many, many times as large are told there is no money available to fix problems that are killing people, the insiders continue to spend freely on their pet projects, secure in the knowledge that (given the media bias that has protected them for years) there's little chance the public will figure out who is getting rich by mismanaging state government.
Fern Shubert is a former State Representative, State Senator, Town Manager and Candidate for Governor. She currently serves as the NC State Director of the National Right to Read Foundation. She also writes a weekly column for the County Edge newspaper and has been a regular contributor to Katy's Conservative Corner.
Your blogger has always disliked the replacement bridge over the Trent and Neuse Rivers in New Bern. They have "uglified" New Bern's previously beautiful waterfront and made a joke of civil engineering. The charm of traveling though the state's second-oldest town, and former state capitol, has been lost.
Thankfully, KCC has posters and photos hanging in her home office, reminding her of her New Bern's formerly beautiful rivers. She's always blamed Perdue and her cronies for ruining the beauty of the place your blogger used to sail, hydro-slide, and water ski.
Your blogger underlined words for emphasis, not the writer.
Business was booming Tuesday afternoon and evening, at the GOP booth (left) at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. As reported yesterday by reader and contributor, Kent Misegades, people were lined up six to eight deep to get stickers and t-shirts of GOP candidates.
Todd Batchelor, member relations director of the North Carolina Republican Party, told your blogger that they had sold more than 650 McCain-Palin t-shirts in six hours, as fast as they could sell them. "We hope to get more on order tomorrow to meet the demand," he added.
Michelle Weaver (left), wife of House challenger, Eric Weaver, worked the booth, along with daughter Anna. It was clear that neither had had the chance to sit down all day.
Meanwhile, over at the North Carolina Democratic Party booth (photos, at end of post) crowds were trickling in, with booth workers asking, "are you registered to vote" to everyone who asked for a sticker or handout.
The booth run by a Ronnie Ansley worker had zero traffic, and your blogger had to feel a little sorry for the gentleman working it. He seemed so lonely. Ansley is challenging Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler for his seat on the Council of State.
The fair seemed to be extremely well-run, though ride tickets seemed high at three dollars per person, for most rides. Your blogger isn't much on rides, but since this was her son's first year to really enjoy the fair, she and her husband rode many of the kiddie rides with him.
The animal exhibits were great and it helped that we all were wearing NC State University clothing. The vet students showed some love to KCC's little boy and let him pet the cow he was begging to touch. Kids dressed in other school clothing didn't get the same treatment.
KCC ran into arch-conservative, and tax-cutting hero, former State Rep. Russell Capps (R-Wake). He was one of the lucky few to sport one of the much sought after McCain-Palin T-shirts, and and his wife looked snazzy with her McCain-Palin sticker.
All North Carolinians owe Capps a huge debt of gratitude after serving us so well in the North Carolina State House. Sadly, he lost his seat to an Obama wanna-be, Rep. Ty Harrell (D-Wake), in the last election, but Capps continues to lead the Wake County Taxpayers Association.
Harrell, like all Democrats in the General Assembly, takes his orders from liberal Speaker Joe Hackney and votes how he is told. That's why we must elect a new legislature, a conservative General Assembly!
Go see the fair, be a kid again, and wear your GOP gear. If you don't, you'll feel out of place. While you're there, be sure to thank every man and woman in uniform (military, law enforcement, EMS, Fire, etc) for his or her service. Like the Airman in the photo at left, they don't get thanked enough.
Kudos to Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry for making sure the rides are safe and to Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler for running a ship-shape state fair!
A lot of people in New Bern are furious at Governor Mike Easley and Lt. Governor / Governor Candidate Bev Perdue over a plan to sell boat slips at the marina at the Sheraton. To understand why, you need to know about the ethics complaint filed because of a similar deal involving the marina in Southport.
The Carolina Journal has a whole series of fascinating articles about how changes at the state- owned marina in Southport led to an ethics complaint against Easley. (Thanks to the hard-nosed research of Don Carrington.) The ethics complaint was of course dismissed by the Governor’s friends, but most members of the public who learn the facts find the transaction fishy.
(“To say that a fish rots from the head down is to say that "bad leadership leads to a bad organization or that a corrupt organization is the result of a corrupt ruler or leader."”Merriam-Webster Online)
The Carolina Journal’s archive describes the Southport marina deal this way:
“Gov. Mike Easley was the subject of a complaint, now dismissed by the N.C. Board of Ethics, over his relationship with owners of Southport Marina, Inc., who received a long-term lease to operate the state-owned marina. Opponents of the lease called it a "sweetheart deal" for Easley's friends. Meanwhile, business partners of those involved with the marina also own a coastal development called "Cannonsgate," where Easley purchased a valuable lot at a seemingly bargain price.”
The Southport reports contain too many disgusting items to even begin to list them all, so I’ll just recap the basics. A Mr. Garrett, with whom Easley had prior business dealings and who, with his associates, is described as a well-known contributor to Democratic candidates, was building luxury condos in Southport across from the marina and wanted to buy the marina. Unfortunately, when the Ports Authority solicited bids, he only bid $5.1 million and the high bid was $16 million.
Apparently the marina was only for sale to the right buyer and the wrong buyer had the high bid, so instead Mr. Garrett and his associates were given a lease that permits them to control the marina until 2040. Since bidding didn’t work for them, no bids on the lease were even solicited. The well-documented efforts to conceal the identities of the principals make it clear that the parties to the deal had something to hide, and it’s a shame the major papers didn’t do more to help the Carolina Journal expose the sleazy facts.
But now the press has a chance to make up for past transgressions, because a deal that looks even shadier is being pushed through right in Bev Perdue’s hometown, adjacent to the amazing bridges that make drivers from other areas wonder who managed to misallocate so much money.
Not surprisingly, as in Southport, the folks developing condominiums near a marina would like to be able to market slips at the marina. Some suggest they would like to be able to convert the Sheraton to condominiums in the near future. It is hard to see how either could be done under the terms of the development and operational agreement, but as in Southport, you never know what might happen.
Watching insider real estate deals is like looking at one of those paintings that shows one image morphing over time into another through a series of pictures. There’s never a noticeable change from one picture to the next, but, for example, in the first picture you see a cow and in the last you see a barn. Or, in the first picture you see an a public marina and in the last privately owned slips with the public excluded or in the first a hotel intended to work with the convention center and downtown businesses and in the last private condominiums.
In the case of New Bern, there is no question that the city acquired a large tract of waterfront property for urban renewal and wanted to sell most of it for commercial development, but there’s also no question that the city wanted a name hotel with an adjoining commercial marina operated by the same owners, both intended to serve visitors, support the convention center, and improve the business climate in downtown New Bern. They also clearly wanted to preserve a public easement all along the river on the property they owned. The city and the developers signed legal documents that were meant to accomplish those goals.
Recently the LLC which purchased the Sheraton and adjacent property in order to build condominiums has advertised “Deep Water Marina Slips Available for Sale.” While the ads now say “Not part of SkySail Condominiums,” the slips are clearly part of the marketing plans for the condominiums, just as in Southport.
And, just as in Southport, when local citizens objected to what they saw happening, they formed a group to raise public awareness. The New Bern Group is called New Bern Aware, and their web site offers a ton of information about the history of the project. The City of New Bern’s website also offers a helpful array of documents establishing the history of the project.
The city’s documents clearly show that the original agreement obligated the buyer of the property “to construct upon Tract No 1 a hotel facility consisting of no less than 100 rooms a meeting center with a main hall of no less than 10 000 square feet capable of seating comfortably no less than 400 persons 10 000 square feet of retail space and a 100 slip marina with related facilities and to manage and operate the same as hereinafter provided.”
Why then did the LLC that acquired Tract 1 along with all the rights and duties of the original developer not acquire the marina? Instead, the new deed went to Marina Business Ventures, LLC, along with any easements required to utilize the docks. Was that because of the plans to sell dockominiums?
While New Bern Aware has raised questions about the validity of the easement transferred to the new owners of the docks, it is hard to understand how the original agreement even permits the ownership and management of the marina to be severed from the hotel. Taking it a step farther, can the owner of the hotel sell the rooms as condominiums if they agree to continue to manage the property and encourage the owners to rent the rooms? That does seem to be where this is headed.
The management agreement also requires the hotel planned as part of the project to be operated “for so long as it is reasonably possible to do so, but, in any event, during a period of twenty-five (25) years from the date of closing.” Yet legal documents prepared for the town which discount the claims of New Bern Aware state: “It would be appropriate at the same time to ask the current owner of the Hotel to extend its commitment to operate under the flag of a national franchise for an additional period of time. This would be prudent in light of the separation of ownership now existing between the owner of the Hotel Trent Neuse Hotel LLC and the owner of the Marina Business Ventures LLC.”
Let’s see. The owners already have a contract calling for them to operate the hotel “for as long as it is reasonably possible to do so,” but apparently that requirement has been erased. Or does the owner get to independently decide what is reasonable?
Apparently they do as long as Easley/Perdue make the rules. The easement they had the state grant to enable the new marina owners to proceed with their plans “says the company should make temporary or transient dockage available, "but only to the extent determined by (the company) to be commercially practicable."” (New Bern Sun Journal, August 27, 2008)
So who are the investors in the New Bern deal and what are their ties to Perdue and Easley? And isn’t it funny that, just as in Southport, when private citizens made a stink about selling the slips, suddenly sales were out and long term leases were in. Déjà vu all over again.
Rules to remember: Conflicts of interest should be fully disclosed by public officials. People who try to hide business relationships probably have a good reason for doing so. Leopards do not change their spots. Criminals tend to be creatures of habit.
Fern Shubert (R-Union) is a former State Representative, State Senator, Town Manager and Candidate for Governer. She currently serves as the NC State Director of the National Right to Read Foundation. She frequently writes for The County Edge.
Your blogger grew up in New Bern and is a graduate of New Bern Sr. High, class of 1985. Her parents remain nearby and she still visits frequently and loves her hometown. She knew Beverly Perdue back when the Lt. Governor was a hospital administrator.
If you live in the Triangle area of North Carolina, and are a conservative, you will want to catch the WRAL (Channel 5) special, "Jesse Helms - A Conservative Icon". It airs this evening at 7:00 p.m.
If you live elsewhere, check their website. KCC hopes that after it airs locally, WRAL will make it available for viewing online.
Coming up later today, KCC will visit with the crowd that came to see Senator Helms lying in state, and we'll catch you up with the John McCain rally at 3:45 at the Velvet Cloak Inn, on Hillsborough Street, in Raleigh.
Meanwhile, your blogger is filled with glee that Barack Hussein Obama will not appear in Charlotte today, as was previously scheduled!
Thanks to the corrupt, Democrat, state legislature that North Carolina's citizens keep re-electing, we have enough problems in our state. We don't need another slimy Democrat coming for a visit.
Last week I urged my State Representative to call on his fellow Democrat, Rep. Thomas Wright, to resign from the State House. The News & Observer printed his response to me: "There's going to be a lot of things said by my opponent on this issue."
Actually I'm saying just one thing: Rep. Wright should resign now, and my own State Rep. should publicly say whether he agrees. After all, his own Democrat leaders in the State House have uncovered what they call "breathtakingly massive" fraud by Rep. Wright.
In his effort to protect Rep. Wright my opponent first claimed he couldn't say anything "until all of the information come[s] out". But now that it has, his new reason to not call for Wright's resignation is that "due process" prevents him from commenting.
In reality, the media is reporting today that House Democrats plan to hold a special caucus meeting ahead of the legislative session to discuss Wright's expulsion. My opponent, the Caucus Secretary, says he doesn't know what's on the meeting's agenda. Media reports say they will discuss a censure motion instead of expelling Rep. Wright. Certainly, they need to discuss the best way – politically - to handle this public relations nightmare. So much for due process.
If my opponent believes in open government (this week is "Sunshine Week") and really wants due process, then he will either open his caucus meeting to the public or release detailed minutes after the meeting - verified by an impartial observer.
Don't hold your breath though, he's still keeping secret the audit results from the scholarship scandal in which donor contributions were used for scholarships for caucus members' families.
Katy's Conservative Corner has previously endorsed Brian Gossage over "Bow Tie" Ty Harrell in this race. Gossage has proven himself a capable leader and has served his fellow citizens of Apex well since his election to Apex Town Council in 2003. He was re-elected in 2007.
On a personal note, Bryan Gossage was the first non-family member to hold my then-month-old premature son. He is married to Chloe and they have a 2-year-old daughter.
To learn more about Bryan Gossage, visit his website.
Katy's Conservative Corner has obtained three letters and a press release written by a Mr. Raymond Spencer. All are available for download at the bottom of this post.
Spencer, apparently a friend of embattled Rep. Thomas Wright (D-Hanover), has made formal complaints of campaign reporting violations committed by Speaker Joe Hackney (D-Orange), Rep. Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson), and Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland).
Spencer says in a press release (attached below), that he has uncovered violations of the law, including a class 2 misdemeanor.
Mr. Spencer is clearly going after the three that have persued Rep. Wright. Rumor has been circulating for months that this might happen. But, does this go far enough?
In the general election of 2004, Glazier was forced to file an amended campaign finance disclosure report of $42,000. Spencer states that this discrepancy could have well pushed Glazer over-the-top in an election in which he defeated his Republican opponent by only 51% - 49%.
Spencer wrote "If the Republicans and others had been aware that $40,000.00 was being pumped into the campaign at the last minute, they may well have reciprocated...This was a fraud upon the voting public in the 2004 election."
The letters that Spencer wrote to Gary O. Bartlett, executive director of the North Carolina Board of Elections, are availble for download below. Apparently all three letters were also hand-delivered to a Wilmington-area newspaper, but were not acted upon. Was this yet another cover-up of the media trying to protect one of their best sources? We may never know, or we may find out during Thursdays hearings.
Late Thursday afternoon, Denise Weeks, principal clerk of the North Carolina House, announced in an e-mail that the more than 800-page Select Committee Report on why Thomas Wright should be "disqualified" from being a North Carolina legislator, was now available for download on the Internet.
The book, she said, would be distributed to House Members as soon as the printing was done, presumably sometime on Friday.
Thankfully, it is available to be read or printed from a computer, but printing it on your average consumer computer is likely to be more time consuming than just waiting for the hard cover.
The book will be printed on both sides of the paper, required by law in a budget amendment offered by then-Senator, now Congressman Virginia Foxx, several years ago.
That brings the weight down to 400 hundred pages, or 256 megabytes, if you think like a computer geek, as I do.
You can try and read the whole Adobe Reader pdf file by downloading it in whole or in part at the following link:
If you have a broadband connection, the download took considerably less time and tucks away nicely on a second tier 250 Gigabyte flash drive.
The gestalt of the charges boils down to two overall wrong things.
1. Thomas Wright tucked away hundreds of thousands of dollars of totally unreported campaign contributions and he then acted like some addicts behave in thinking himself immune and invisible.
2. He then spent that money on what he might soon learn in prison are called "gee-gaws," trinkets and luxuries. He was not only a making his entire living as a legislator, he was living high on the hog and "a going concern."
(Read the rest of the story, by clicking the link, below.)
The following article was submitted by Fern Shubert:
I know it is tempting to go after one of (Jim) Black's (D-Mecklenburg) buddies, but as the only member of the 2001 House who never voted for Black and who warned about the corruption long before Joe Sinsheimer showed up, I'm uniquely positioned to raise a few questions, such as:
Why does anyone believe what they read about Wright in the papers? After all, they call John Rhodes (R-Mecklenburg) ineffective and Ed Williams of the Charlotte Observer told me most people consider me a nut. When they're all piling on Wright, praising (Rick) Glazier(D-Cumberland), and whitewashing (Pryor) Gibson (D-Anson), I smell a rat.
Why does the press, that wouldn't report my well-documented charges on any number of issues, hang on Joe's every word?
Why did Joe focus on Black, who I'd long identified as the runt of the litter when it comes to corruption, instead of the big dogs?
Why did he next focus the spotlight on Thomas Wright (D-New Hanover), almost a non-entity, instead of any big-money players? An investigation of Gibson would have turned up a heck of a lot more than they found on Wright. In fact, there are any number of people who could have been expected to yield a lot more violations.
Why did Joe lavish so much praise on Glazier, who (Tony) Rand (Senate Majority Leader, D-Cumberland) used to oust conservative Democrat Alex Warner (D-Cumberland), when Glazier is so clearly part of the Gibson cover-up?
When I asked Joe Kiser (R-Lincoln) years ago to whom in state government I could take some really serious charges for investigation, he said "Well, there was one honest guy in the SBI, but they fired him."
Easley and Cooper control the SBI (State Bureau of Investigation). Why did the SBI decide to investigate Wright so thoroughly when they won't even make casual inquiries into much bigger malfeasance (unless the feds are already looking) if it leads to the seriously corrupt political class?
I think Black challenged the Senate and lost. Wright had been on the Black team, and he had also crossed the big dogs. This is a demonstration of what they can do to anyone who does not followorders.
Don't get me wrong. Not long ago, I would have been on Wright's case too. But things in Raleigh are seldom as reported by the main street media.
If my complaint and all future complaints are going to be handled with the same enthusiasm as Wright's, let the show begin. I'm all for weeding out corruption. Personally, I see a sideshow planned to divert attention from far more serious issues and far greater misdeeds.
Briefly, Katy's Conservative Corner has learned that Meredith Norris, disgraced lobbiest and assistant to Jim "Graybar" Black (D-Mecklenburg), left, was a person who notorized the campaign finance reports of embattled state Rep. Thomas Wright. This makes the connections amoung Wright, Black, and others even more sticky.
An unnamed source said it is their belief the former Union County Senator believes Marc Basnight and even Joe Hackney were furious with Wright when he refrained from openly supporting Senator Julia Boseman, a strident lesbian who enjoys large amounts of support from gay activists throughout the country, much of which ends up in the Senate President Pro Tem's coffers for distribution to his Caucus.
Now, onto Senator Shubert's column...
Some days you have to laugh to keep from crying. I’ve finally found out why the Legislative Ethics Committee dismissed my complaint against Pryor Gibson. They do not believe telling a lie is unethical. It is just a procedural matter.
In 2006, Pryor Gibson wanted to introduce a bill that was not eligible for consideration unless he signed a document verifying that his bill had the unanimous support of the other representatives from the area affected by the bill. They did not support the bill. Gibson lied in writing and said they did in order to get a bill passed that could not have been introduced if he told the truth.
The bill was not an insignificant matter. It moved the date of the vote on the Monroe food tax from the general election in 2006 when Gibson was running for re-election to the lower turnout municipal election in 2007. It also granted ETJ to two towns, Wingate and Marshville, that had not even made a public request for it. The bill gave town officials the authority to decide the zoning for people who lived in the county and could not vote for or against them. It affected the property rights of hundreds of people.
When I challenged Gibson’s lie by filing a complaint, the Legislative Ethics Committee dismissed the complaint, saying “the complaint alleged conduct, that even if true, would not constitute an ethics violation, or alleged conduct, that even if true, would not be within the jurisdiction of the Committee.”
It was my understanding that since the fraud was committed in 2006, the committee dismissed the complaint because it did not believe it should go into events that happened before 2007 when the current law became effective. If they truly believed actions prior to 2007 were a closed book, so be it.
But if that was the standard, how could they ask the House to hold hearings designed to lead to the expulsion of Thomas Wright based on even older events? Mr. Wright and I were hardly friends . . . he was a friend of Jim Black and I was the only member of the 2001 House who never voted for Black . . .plus he was a Democrat and I’m a Republican, but the way he was being treated just didn’t make sense.
In my experience, far greater misdeeds than any alleged against Wright were normally ignored. While I did not see his treatment as racially motivated . . .after all, misuse of non-profits by several other black legislators didn’t result in expulsion attempts. . . the fact that my complaint against Gibson was dismissed because the event was pre-2007 while events even older were being used to justify Wright’s House ethics hearing just didn’t seem right.
I approached Wright’s attorney, Irv Joyner, at Wright’s court hearing last Thursday with some hesitation. I had no desire to be seen as defending illegal behavior and some reluctance to even be involved in something with so much negative press, but the double standard being applied in the legislature offended me. In addition to giving Joyner a copy of the dismissal of the complaint I filed against Gibson, I informed him of the November 2002 Carolina Journal article outlining several other ethical issues concerning Gibson.
If the committee didn’t have jurisdiction to deal with my complaint against Gibson, I didn’t understand how they could be dealing with far older issues with respect to Wright.
Moreover, the Carolina Journal article stated that Gibson had a non-profit that seemed far more dubious than Wright’s, but to the best of my knowledge, no one ever followed up on the questions raised by the Carolina Journal. Why the double standard?
I later learned that Wright had supported the Republican NC Senate candidate from Wilmington in 2006 rather than the Democrat, and suddenly the reason for the double standard seemed very obvious. The Democratic leadership of the House and Senate, plus the Governor, needed someone to toss to the wolves to divert the public from the bribery and gerrymandering that kept them in power, the sale of DOT board seats, the mental health malfeasance, and a litany of other misdeeds.
By going after Wright, the leaders could sell the public on how serious they are about ethics without actually doing anything to reform the system. At the same time, they could show other legislators how dangerous it would be to cross the party big wigs. A twofer!
In 1998, my opponent used last minute ads that misrepresented my vote against the 1997 budget in order to defeat me. He and Speaker Black later used what happened to me to threaten other legislators; vote as you’re told on the budget or we’ll do to you what we did to Shubert. In my case, the threat lost a lot of steam when I returned to the legislature in 2000, but I see some of the same motivation behind the hearings now being held.
Note, I see nothing wrong with a criminal prosecution of criminal misdeeds. I think we need a lot more legislative attention to ethics; but to hold hearings on Wright while ignoring far greater ethical lapses by other legislators is just plain wrong.
Speaking of wrong, according to an article in The Charlotte Observer (March 4, 2008), committee chairman Rick Glazier “said that Gibson's and Wright's cases are so different that any comparison is profoundly absurd. One involves legislative procedure, he said, and the other involves allegations of fraud and corruption.”
What is fraud? According to Wikipedia, “In the broadest sense, a fraud is a deception made for personal gain.” A lie in writing is certainly a deception, and there is no doubt that Gibson lied in writing for his personal benefit, to gain a political advantage he could not otherwise obtain. I didn’t just accuse Gibson of breaking a rule; I provided the evidence to prove he committed fraud on the people of North Carolina.
Mr. Gibson has tried to trick the House before to get a bill passed that would not pass without deception, but I exposed the trick in time and the bill was voted down. This time, the lie was told in a printed document, and even though it was exposed before the bill passed, the leaders of the legislature made the conscious decision to support Gibson’s dishonesty.
Gibson tells people he withdrew the bill when he learned the legislators he said supported it did not, but that’s another deception. Ask Gibson how the contents of the bill became law if he dropped the issue when he learned of their objection?
Gibson’s case involves the corruption not only of Gibson but of the leaders of the House and Senate. The fraud Gibson committed was embraced by the very people who are now eagerly condemning Wright for deceit.
I regret that Wright’s attorneys suggested Mr. Glazier is racially biased; I do not believe he is. But I understand why they came to that conclusion. Anyone unfamiliar with the history of the legislature, who is familiar with North Carolina history, would easily see racism in the totally disparate treatment of Gibson and Wright.
People unfamiliar with the legislature would find it hard to believe that telling a lie to deceive the legislature into acting in a way it would not if it knew the truth is a mere procedural matter.
To people not tainted by “legislative ethics,” telling a lie to the legislature to subvert our very government is a far more significant ethical transgression than anything of which Representative Wright stands accused.
The explanation of the dismissal of the complaint against Gibson makes the phrase “legislative ethics” an oxymoron.
One of two legislative ethics committees will begin hearing from witnesses, Monday, as deliberations continue over a single question: Is Thomas Wright "eligible" to serve in the North Carolina House of Representatives? North Carolina's Constitution gives both the N.C. House and Senate the right to determine "the eligibility of its own Members."
In the past, courts have interpreted the clause broadly, daring not to trespass over the "separation of powers." This pattern was held up in Wake County Superior Court on Thursday afternoon as committee chairman Rep. Rick Glazer (D-Cumberland) and co-chairman Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam (R-Wake) looked on. Rep. Wright, who faces criminal trial in Wake County in mid April, had filed suit seeking to enjoin Ethics Committee hearings from continuing their deliberations Monday and claiming reports of what is said and revealed in those hearings would decreased his likelihood of receiving a fair trial.
Wright has also filed for re-election, though the State Board of Elections had previously suspended activity by his campaign committee.
The court ruled against Wright, saying Rep. Wright had sufficient constitutional protections and, regardless, the courts had no authority to direct another branch of government in the performance of Legislative constitutional prerogatives.
Unlike the criminal trial, the House select ethics committee can only recommend whether Wright be declared "ineligible" to serve or not. If the committee ultimately determines Wright not to eligible, they may recommend that he then be expelled.
Some believe Wright may face censure, as some other Members of the House have in the past. Speaker Joe Hackney (D-Orange) has asked for Wright's resignation, which would instantly put an end to the House proceedings, though the criminal trial would continue. If Wright is found guilty in the criminal matters referred to the courts by the State Board of Elections and in a trial sought by Wake County prosecutor Colin Willoughby, he would become a felon and would automatically become ineligible for re-election.
Regardless of the outcome, if re-elected Wright might well be refused a seat at the beginning of the 2009 General Assembly next January.
Rep. Thomas Wright (D-New Hanover) has sued seeking a preliminary injunction and Temporary Restraining Order on the North Carolina House to prevent his being voted ineligible by his fellow Members of the House and removed from office.
An emergency hearing on Wright's new lawsuit will be held in Superior Court Thursday, Feb. 28, at 2:30 PM in Room 10D.
Rep. Rick Glazer (D-Cumberland) and members of at least two legislative ethics committees considering evidence against Wright have unanimously approved witness lists and will go forward with hearings despite Wright having obtained a brief delay earlier this week in the beginning of his criminal trial in Wake County.
Wright maintains hearing evidence by General Assembly ethics committees, shared with the legislature by Wake County prosecutor Colin Willoughby, in order to decide whether to remove him from office will "poison the jury pool," his attorney has said.
Matters to be decided in criminal court trial and what might eventually take place in the House Chamber, however, are two entirely different matters, the committee chairs agree.
The North Carolina Constitution leaves to the House and Senate individually the right to determine "the eligibility of its Members." While the actions of the ethics committee and its hearings, as directed by House Speaker Joe Hackney, Chairman Rick Glazer and co-chairman Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) are to follow standard legal procedures in deliberation, in the end they can recommend only to the full House whether Wright should be removed from office.
The criminal court in Wake County will begin trial in April to determine whether Thomas Wright violated criminal law in various matters, such as a possible diversion of campaign funds for personal use, solicitation of contributions that also went unreported and other specific charges.
The special ethics committee in the House will begin hearing testimony from an approved list of witnesses in the matter of Thomas Wright's actions next week.
Unlike the criminal trial, the committee deliberations as to his eligibility to serve any longer as a Member of the House can be brought to an end immediately should Wright choose to resign.
Wright's lawyers, yesterday, insited he still intends to file for re-election in 2008 before the deadline Friday at Noon. Whether Wright files for office of not, however, his campaign committee cannot currently operate by order of the State Board of Elections, and he cannot legally solicit or accept contributions.
Should Wright eventually be determined "ineligible" to serve in the House by its full membership - something Speaker Hackney still hopes can be avoided by a decision to resign - and if he were to be found guilty of a felony, he would no longer be eligible to be on the 2008 ballot regardless of whether he files before Friday.
If the criminal matter remains unresolved, and Wright were allowed on the ballot and was re-elected by the House, the full House could vote not to seat him when the 2009 General Assembly convenes next January.
Wake County, and the Triangle region, have a long way to go to become more Republican friendly. Unlike cities like Winston-Salem, that are filled with conservative elected officials, Raleigh and other municipalities have liberal elected officials that should be unseated. That job comes in 2009.
In 2008, however, we have an unscrupulous General Assembly filled with Wake County liberals that must be sent back to their former employers. These people have nothing to brag about and your blogger wonders what they will base their re-election campaigns on.
State Representatives such as Jennifer Weiss and Deborah Ross have virtual targets painted on their backs. Should they say in their campaign literature, "vote for me, as I supported Tony Rand every time he threatened not to support my bill?" Or, "I stood with Marc Basnight every time he associated with an unsavory characters, even some in the General Assembly?"
Clearly, your blogger is gunning for an active election year and she hopes that her fellow conservatives will join bodies like the Wake GOP and become active volunteers. There is simply too much at stake to do what we have done the last two election cycles of 2006 and 2007 -- sit home. It's not enough just to vote this year. We have to help spread the word. The Democrats are ready, and active, and they are angry at Republicans and blaming all their problems on President Bush.
Are we ready to stand up, answer the call of the right, and do what is right?
Richard Moore is right. Our transportation infrastructure needs help. We rank 47th in urban interstate congestion, and we currently have more than 2,256 structurally deficient bridges. There is no question that NCDOT needs significant reform, and no doubt that we will continue to struggle to meet our transportation needs until the Department is functioning efficiently. As far as how to fix the problem goes however, Treasurer Moore and his colleague Lieutenant Governor Beverly Purdue completely miss the point.
According to our two friends from the current administration, the answer to DOT’s ills is to end legislative slush funds for transportation projects, and prohibit campaign contributions by members of the North Carolina Board of Transportation. These proposals, along with Treasurer Moore’s suggestion to infuse more transparency into the decision making process for new construction funding, are excellent ideas. It makes one wonder why the Democrats haven’t gotten around to these common-sense reforms over the past eight years.
I’ll let our friends in the press examine how much in campaign contributions the Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer have taken from Transportation Board Members during the current campaign cycle. It will be interesting to see if in their rush to jump on the front seat of the honest government bandwagon they’ll give any of that money back. Yet even if we could snap our fingers and have these reforms tomorrow, it would simply mean that we would be throwing good money at a dysfunctional organization.
We have over $1.5 billion dollars allocated for construction projects under the Transportation Improvement Program in 2007-2008. Currently 59% of TIP projects take 8 or more years to reach the bidding process, and the Department has a track record of delivering about 40-50% of the promised TIP in a given year. With inflation in construction costs running around 13% per year, it is obvious that inefficiency and delay at DOT are costing us millions every year.
Clearly we need to reform the appropriations process so that our professional engineers—not politicians—determine funding priorities based on safety and congestion, but the more critical need is for significant structural and process reform of NCDOT to:
improve project delivery efficiency;
ensure top down accountability in project delivery;
deliver a realistic Transportation Improvement Planning process;
resolve the Department’s debilitating talent drain.
North Carolina’s economic growth depends on a DOT that can efficiently build and repair our transportation infrastructure. How we reform the Department to meet our future needs should be a central topic of discussion during this campaign, but there can be no real reform in the DOT without a change in leadership from the governor’s office.
As Governor, I will put the public’s interest ahead of special interests and ensure that the DOT is serving the best interests of the citizens of this state.