When Perspective Is Missing

All of us have our sensitive spots. Sometimes we react to comments we find offensive that were not meant to be offensive at all. Sometimes we read meanings that were never intended into things based on our own experience. Some recent local events illustrate that point.

A local weekly newspaper called The County Compass (which I would consider a conservative news outlet) publishes a page written by members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). The CCTA is composed of ordinary citizens who are concerned about the rapid growth of government and increase in taxes in recent years. Members attend local board meetings of various kinds and attempt to hold our elected officials accountable. They also post vetting reports of candidates on their website during elections to provide voters with information. The group is made of up people of all ages from different professional backgrounds and personal experiences. Recently the CCTA page dealt with the issue of bringing those to justice who have engaged in a soft coup attempt to undo the 2016 election. The writer of the article stated that she hoped those guilty would be held accountable for their violations of the civil rights of Americans and their attempted coup. At the top of the article was a picture of a noose, which to many Americans represents an old fashioned concept of justice. Unfortunately, for some people a noose, even in a totally non-racial context, represents racism. The professionally outraged saw the picture and swung into action.

A local young black woman chose to post that graphic on her Facebook page with a remark about the paper’s being racist for having published it; she chose to disregard the subject matter of the article entirely; therefore, her post was completely out of context.

The NAACP got involved, and a local TV station interviewed Jeff Aydelette, the publisher of The County Compass, and the NAACP on the subject.  Then this past Wednesday, about 120 members of the NAACP staged a protest rally outside the offices of the Compass.  Jeff offered them chairs, went around and shook hands, and behaved in his usual gentlemanly way.  Again, a report was featured on local TV.

Now The County Compass is getting calls from advertisers who are cancelling their ads.  They are saying that the NAACP is telling them that their businesses will be boycotted if they continue to advertise in the Compass.

Although I am willing to concede that the picture may represent different things to different people, I think it needs to be viewed in context. I believe that this protest is simply an effort by the political left and its allies to shut down a conservative news outlet. This should be a wake-up call to all Americans who value free speech and freedom of the press that our First Amendment rights are under attack.

 

North Carolina And The Certificate Of Need

I recently was part of a group that traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, to hear a legislative committee meeting about the Certificate of Need that is required to open a medical facility in North Carolina.

The following write-up of the hearing can be found at the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) Website:

The Certificate of Need (CON) hearing was on HB200, a bill sponsored by Representative Marilyn Avila that would remove several types of operating rooms (including those for ophthalmology procedures and colonoscopy) from the list of medical facilities which are required to apply for (a lengthy, expensive, difficult process) and get a CON before they can be set up.

It is our Legislative Action Committee’s position that hospitals have managed to have a monopoly on CON’s for years, have used them to shut individual physicians out of competition, and have used them to drive the cost of procedures up (people who pay for their own health care, and people who are experiencing higher and higher co-pays see this very clearly). This has resulted in higher salaries for some members of hospital staffs and very high retained earnings for some hospitals including the one here in New Bern.

The hearing was fast paced, enormously interesting, and did nothing to dispel our view.

Representative Avila introduced the bill, said a few words about it, and then explained that the group would hear from one person who was in favor of passage of the bill and a second person who was against it.

Connie Wilson, a lobbyist for a group of physicians, spoke first. She was followed by a lobbyist for a group of hospitals. They each spoke for about ten minutes.

Connie speaks fluidly. She’s very clear, concise, and straightforward. She builds her case with facts. She uses charm and humor. (Can you tell I was REALLY impressed?) She made the bill seem like the best thing to come along since sliced bread.

The fellow who spoke for hospitals used platitudes, veiled warnings about what “might” happen if some CON requirements were lifted, and tried to create fear. He did a respectable job for someone who had to defend an indefensible position, but I found myself constantly annoyed by things he said.

Then the questions began.

We’d been given to understand that 5 Representatives were of particular concern to folks who want the bill to pass, and every one of them was at the hearing, and each of them asked one or more questions that seemed to be from a negative perspective.

I’m going to tell you who each of the 5 is, what district he serves, what his contact information is, and then ask you a favor. Here they are…

Representative John Szoka is a Republican serving NC House District 45. His home is in Fayetteville. His office is in Room 2223 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-9892. His email is john.szoka@ncleg.net.

Representative Josh Dobson is a Republican serving NC House District 85. His home is in Nebo. His office is in Room 1006 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-733-5862. His email is josh.dobson@ncleg.net.

Representative Brian Brown is a Republican serving NC House District 9. His home is in Greenville. His office is in Room 604 of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-733-5757. His email is brian.brown@ncleg.net.

Representative Kelly Hastings is a Republican serving NC House District 110. His home is in Cherryville. His office is in Room 1206 of the Legislative Building. His phone is 919-715-2002. His email is kelly.hastings@ncleg.net.

Representative Nelson Dollar is a Republican serving NC House District 36. His home is in Cary. His office is in Room 307-B of the Legislative Office Building. His phone is 919-715-0795. His email is nelson.dollar@ncleg.net.

If you live in the district of one of these folks, please go to see them, give them a call, or email them (expressed in the order of preference), and ask them to support HB200. Do this as quickly as you can. This bill needs to be reported out of the Health Committee, be heard by 2 other committees, and be voted on on the House floor by “crossover” on April 30 in order to remain viable.

Jay Singleton, DO, FACS, spoke at a recent CCTA meeting in Stanly Hall in New Bern, North Carolina. He is an eye surgeon who is supporting repeal of the Certificate of Need (CON). He sums up the issue as follows, “The CON law is one of the few existing laws that has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  Hospitals have used this law for nearly forty years to become too big to fail in our state.  Many members of the general assembly have been duped by the hospital association and its lobbyists into believing healthcare would collapse and the sky would fall without this dubious law.  Do not fall for the chicken little argument.”

As a resident of Massachusetts, I had cataract surgery on each eye. The first surgery was done in the hospital at Boston Eye and Ear. That is an outstanding hospital, although it has limited available parking and is in the middle of city traffic. The second surgery was done at Surgisite in Waltham, Massachusetts. It was easier to get to, parking was available, and the experience was much easier and less stressful (aside from being much cheaper). Based on my personal experience, I would strongly suggest that the North Carolina legislature repeal the CON law and allow the free market to lower the cost of medical care in the State of North Carolina and to give people the option of receiving quality medical care in small local facilities that specialize in specific areas rather than exclusively in large hospitals.

 

The Fight To End Common Core In North Carolina Continues

On Monday, some members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) attended the NC Academic Standards Review Commission’s First Meeting.

This is the report from the meeting from one of the attendees:

…the meeting room was very crowded.  It was also hot, and uncomfortable.  CCTA’s Common Core Committee with Kim Fink, our Chairman, was in attendance.

Unfortunately, it appeared to us that the review committee had been stacked with supporters of Common Core, although it was clear that some of the members definitely want the standards adopted to be North Carolina Standards.  Senator Jerry Tillman made an impassioned statement that the US Constitution left eduction to the people and the States by not directly allocating authority for education to the federal government.  He also said that the “bar must be raised” because NC’s children need to compete in national and world economies and that our top quarter of school graduates were not fairing well in competition with other states and the rest of the world.

Senator Tillman said the General Assembly would not stand for a re-hash of Common Core, but expected the review committee to do its job and develop North Carolina Education Standards which he said would drive curriculum, something proponents of Common Core deny.

It is up to parents and grandparents to get involved in this battle against Common Core. Common Core is not good for our children and needs to be stopped. The curriculum related to the standards is not the only problem–Common Core involves data mining of personal information on our children and grandchildren with no guarantee of the security of the data. It needs to be stopped.

 

Townhall Meeting In New Bern

Tonight I attended a Townhall style meeting held in Stanly Hall in New Bern. The two main speakers at the event were state Representative Michael Speciale, who represents North Carolina’s third district, and state Senator Norman Sanderson, who represents North Carolina’s second district. These men are dedicated conservatives who represent eastern North Carolina in Raleigh.

Representative Speciale spoke first. He talked about the need for the conservatives in the state legislature to stand for their principles. He reminded us that he was sent to Raleigh to vote for conservative principles and for what was best for the State of North Carolina. Recently H.B. 1224 was defeated by a 54 to 47 vote. The bill included special interest spending that was not necessary, and needed to be voted down, despite the fact that many Republicans supported it.

Senator Sanderson reminded us that the reports in the press of disunity in Raleigh have been exaggerated. He stated that the Senate and the House agreed on about 95 percent of the budget. About 5 percent of the budget required compromise to work out differences, which the legislature did. Senator Sanderson listed the recent accomplishments of the legislature. These accomplishments included expanded restrictions on sex offenders, rules regarding mo-peds on North Carolina highways, allowing prayer in North Carolina schools, election laws designed to protect the integrity of elections in North Carolina, and energy laws to allow North Carolina to develop its energy resources.

There was an extended period of questions from those who attended the meeting. A variety of subjects were addressed that concern those of us who live in eastern North Carolina–education funding, Common Core, the tourism industry, the fishing industry, and other issues.

The evening was very informative. The meeting was sponsored by the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). The CCTA meets at Stanly Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7 pm. Attending a CCTA meeting is a good start in becoming an informed voter.

Why We Need Citizens’ Watchdog Groups

The Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) describes itself as follows:

…a grassroots, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, advocates minimum government and maximum freedom. We are dedicated to the preservation of free enterprise and the United States Constitution.  Excessive taxation upon citizens is unconstitutional, immoral, and a complete contradiction of success through the free market system.  We are dedicated to serve our community, our state, and our country by oversight, research, public education and advocacy in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.

They are active in Craven County and the surrounding counties in Eastern North Carolina. The Chairman of their Watchdog Committee is Hal James. I had the privilege of talking with him this morning to find out what the Watchdog Committee is watching.

One of the goals of the Watchdog Committee is to stop the continuing expansion of local government into areas that are private responsibilities. Mr. James pointed out that the County Commissioners are currently talking about a federally qualified health center and an in-patient hospice business. Both of these endeavors should be left to private enterprise. The County recently sold its home hospice business, why are the Commissioners talking about opening an in-patient hospice? Why are the Commissioners looking for a Certificate of Need (CON) for the in-patient hospice when there is a relatively new facility in Newport?

The second important goal of the Watchdog Committee is to encourage conservative candidates to run and hold their feet to the fire once they are elected. The CCTA does not endorse specific candidates, but they do provide information on where the candidates stand on various issues. The CCTA has a vetting process where candidates are asked 26 questions relating to Constitutional principles. The candidates’ answers are then posted on the CCTA website.

The third goal of the Watchdog Committee is transparency in government–particularly in the Craven County’s budget process. Mr. James cited an accounting change in the budget presentation that was totally misleading in terms of the amount of money spent. In 2010, the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number for Food Stamp Direct Benefits payments was no longer on the audit report. In 2009, that number was $13,817,050, a significant amount of money. The explanation of this missing figure:

The USDA provided guidance to local governments and auditors that the CFDA should not appear in the Schedule of Expenditures of Federal and State Awards (SEFA) beginning with fiscal 2010. Instead the amount is shown in the footnotes, making it appear that the budget was cut–when that was not the case.

I realize that these audits are something that most of us do not have time to investigate or look at, but they have a definite impact on our lives and the lives of our children. We need people like Hal James to take the time to go through our County expenditures and explain to us how things work. Please support the CCTA and organizations like it that are helping to inform the taxpayers and helping us slow down the exponential growth of government and government spending.

The Other Side Of The Argument

Tonight I attended a presentation by Jeff Lewis of the Patriot Coalition. The presentation was sponsored by the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA).  Mr. Lewis’s topic was “Convention of States: A Threat to the Republic?”
A number of conservative voices have suggested that because our government is currently broken so badly we need to call an Article V Convention. An Article V Convention is one of two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution. According to Article V, Congress must call for an amendment-proposing convention, “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States,” meaning 34 state legislatures would have to submit applications. Once an Article V Convention has proposed an amendment or amendments, then the amendment or amendments would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38 states) in order to become part of the Constitution. The other method of amending the Constitution is a vote by two-thirds of each house of Congress.
Mr. Lewis is the co-founder of the Patriot Coalition, a group that opposes an Article V Convention. He made some very valid points during his presentation. He pointed out that the Constitution is not the problem–the fact that our government is not following the Constitution is the problem. If those in power are not following the current Constitution, what makes us think that if we change it they will follow the new Constitution? That is a very good question.
The danger of an Article V Convention is that once the convention is called, Congress is in full charge of making the rules. If we cannot trust Congress to be above special interests and politics with the power they currently have, why should we believe that they will behave well in putting together the rules for an Article V Convention? Another good question.
If Congress makes the rules for an Article V Convention, there would be no guarantee of a one state/one vote principle at the convention. All bets are off as to how issues would be discussed, decided, or voted on. That is a scary proposition.
There are some arguments for an Article V Convention. Washington stopped listening to the voters a long time ago, and most voters stopped paying attention to Washington except for the two to three weeks before Election Day. Change is definitely needed, I am simply not sure if an Article V Convention is that change. I believe that it would be too easy for special interest groups and people who do not support our current Constitution to do things that all Americans would regret.
 
 

Waking The Sleeping Giant

Last night the guest speaker at the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) was Dr. Timothy Daughtry, author of Waking the Sleeping Giant. The CCTA holds a non-partisan monthly public meeting to educate voters about issues facing North Carolina and America.

The mission statement of the CCTA is:

The Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association, a grassroots, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, advocates minimum government and maximum freedom. We are dedicated to the preservation of free enterprise and the United States Constitution.  Excessive taxation upon citizens is unconstitutional, immoral, and a complete contradiction of success through the free market system.  We are dedicated to serve our community, our state, and our country by oversight, research, public education and advocacy in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.

Dr. Daughtry pointed out that politically America is basically a center-right country, yet most legislation in the past one hundred years has been initiated by the political left. Generally speaking, conservatives are playing defense while liberals are on the offense with a long-range plan.

The mainstream of America can be described as believing in a Judeo-Christian worldview, personal responsibility, and a sense of independence. The political left generally believes in moral relativism, entitlement, and more government power. The book, Waking the Sleeping Giant, explains what the mainstream needs to do to take back America.

I strongly recommend reading Waking the Sleeping Giant, but I also strongly recommend attending the next public meeting of the CCTA on May 20 so that you can become a better-informed voter.

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Learning About The Politics Of My New Home State

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have recently moved from Southeastern Massachusetts to Coastal North Carolina. Obviously the politics are a little different, and I am spending some of my time learning about some of the groups that share my political philosophy. (I’ll probably never get the language down, but the climate and politics I love!)

Today I had the privilege of sitting down with Hal James, Chairman of the Watchdog Committee of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). I asked Mr. James to list some of the current concerns of the Watchdog Committee.

Mr. James began by mentioning his concerns about the Common Core curriculum which is being introduced into North Carolina and other states around the nation.  He stated that the Common Core curriculum is a federal intrusion on education, and is thus unconstitutional (in violation of the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution). The Common Core curriculum is an attempt to influence the values of young people in a direction not consistent with the traditional values of America. The CCTA is currently working to make parents and voters aware of the things in the Common Core curriculum.

The general goal of the Watchdog Committee is the hold elected officials accountable to the people who elected them.  Members of the Watchdog Committee attend meetings of various city and county boards and legislative meetings. Their goal is to become informed so that they can share information that may not be included in the news in order to make voters more aware of what their government is doing. Watchdog Committee members study the county budget and read the audits. North Carolina law requires every governmental agency to have an independent audit of its books. Those audits are made public, and members of the CCTA Watchdog Committee read them.  Reading the audits will reveal such things as unfunded liabilities that might not be obvious in simply reading the budget.

We are currently entering into the budget process. Department heads in Craven County will be submitting budgets to the County Manager. After review by the County Manager, the budget will be submitted to the Board of Commissioners. There will be public meetings in the county during this process.

Mr. James pointed out that the Board of Commissioners has recently been studying the idea of privatization of home hospice care in Craven County. That move would be a cost cutting move for the county and would save taxpayers money.

Mr. James also pointed out that Carolina East Hospital, which is run by a private corporation, is built on county land. The hospital pays no rent (or taxes) for the use of the land. Originally this occurred because it assured the area of having a local hospital. As the area has grown, other hospitals have been built, and it is time to seek a new arrangement with Carolina East.

Mr. James also addressed the claim by the Board of Commissioners that they have reduced real estate taxes in the county two years in a row. It is true that real estate taxes have been reduced, but somehow they failed to mention that the reduction was about $10 on an average-size home.

If you are interested in learning more about the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association, their website is www.cctaxpayers.com.  The organization is very welcoming and always willing to share the results of their research on various issues.

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