Shenanigans In North Carolina

Governor Roy Cooper was elected in 2016 and began his term in 2017. Previously he served as North Carolina’s Attorney General. My sources tell me that he runs the Democrat party much the way a mafia don would, using threats to make sure no legislators break ranks in their voting. He also seems to have some problems controlling spending in some of the state agencies.

The Carolina Journal posted an article today citing some of Governor Cooper’s current challenges.

The article reports:

Consider, for example, the current cash crunch at North Carolina’s Department of Transportation. Secretary Jim Trogdon blames the problem on hundreds of millions of dollars of hurricane damage and payouts to property owners whose rights were violated by the state’s abusive Map Act.

While these costs are real, they don’t fully explain DOT’s overspending. An outside consultant’s report dinged the department for faulty forecasting and cash management. State Treasurer Dale Folwell cited the report’s findings as well as DOT’s transfer of $1.1 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to the Highway Fund without his legally required authorization as reasons why Cooper should replace Trogdon.

Rather than responding to these specific concerns, the governor’s press office put out a statement rejecting what it termed “a financial lecture from the nation’s least effective state Treasurer.” DOT’s money woes have complex origins and consequences, to be sure. But Trogdon’s defense neither required nor was advanced by such adolescent name-calling.

Much less money is at stake over at the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, but its recent miscue inflicted more political damage.

The department handles a decades-old program called the N.C. State Scholarship for Children of War Veterans. The department sent out a letter informing colleges and universities that scholarship payments would be “delayed until further notice,” citing the budget impasse between Gov. Cooper and the General Assembly. But according to reporting by WBTV’s Nick Ochsner, there was neither a fiscal nor a legal reason to suspend payment. Whether this was simply an administrative screw-up or a purposeful attempt to pressure GOP lawmakers, it was incredibly foolish.

There are also some questions regarding Medicaid in the state:

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services is mired in its own controversy over awarding a Medicaid contract to a managed-care network led by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina instead of one led by Aetna. In its legal challenge to the decision, Aetna argues that one of the DHHS employees in charge of evaluating the bids was living with a key Blue Cross executive.

Furthermore, according to reporting by Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington, an internal document shows that Aetna’s bid originally ranked above the Blue Cross bid. A DHHS official then intervened to create a new criterion after the fact, which had the effect of displacing Aetna in favor of Blue Cross.

There are also charges that the Governor attempted to obstruct an investigation into some aspects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The article concludes:

Cooper and three of his aides have been asked to testify on the pipeline at a legislative hearing on November 8. Will the sober-minded former state senator and attorney general show up and provide a persuasive defense of his administration’s conduct? Or will North Carolinians be treated to another round of political hackery and juvenile tweets?

Lt. Governor Dan Forest will be running against Governor Cooper in 2020. Dan Forest definitely has my vote.

 

Somehow I Think He Has Misdiagnosed The Problem

CNS News posted an article today about a recent statement by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The article reports Secretary Foxx’s comments:

…“only 49% of low-income neighborhoods have sidewalks” while more affluent areas have near 90%. In order to have a society where “everyone has a shot at the American Dream, than it’s imperative that we acknowledge these challenges.”

Sir, with all due respect, I don’t think that is the problem.

The article goes on:

“So, if we want a society in which everyone has a shot at the American dream, than it is imperative that we acknowledge these challenges,” Foxx said.

Foxx hired the U.S. Transportation Department’s first “Chief Opportunities Officer” in 2015. The position aims to make sure “Ladders of Opportunity inatives are coordinated, advanced and implemented across all levels of DOT,” according to the U.S. Transportation website.

In 2014, Foxx prioritized the criteria for federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants by adding “access to opportunities” as a criteria the government should take into account when awarding grants.

“Transportation is about more than getting from one point to another–it’s about getting from where you are to a better life,” said Secretary Foxx in a press release discussing ‘Ladders of Opportunity’ grants in 2014.

I would support making sure people in low-income neighborhoods have an inexpensive way to get to work, but that does not have to be a government program. Neighborhoods can easily form car pools to help each other find transportation to work. The streets in low-income neighborhoods do exist and generally are paved, so I think that the people in these neighborhoods can access ‘Ladders of Opportunity’ if they choose to.

A person much wiser than I once commented that the best thing a parent can do for a child is to set the example of going to work every day. That is the culture we need in all of our neighborhoods.

Another Temper Tantrum By A President Who Does Not Put America First

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal posted a story about the flight delays that occurred in some major American airports yesterday.

The article reports:

This week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began furloughing each of its air-traffic controllers for one day out of every 10 to achieve roughly $600 million in savings this fiscal year. The White House dubiously claims that the furloughs are required by the sequester spending cuts enacted in 2011.

Capitol Hill Republicans say the White House is free to make other cuts instead. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster suggests the FAA first take a whack at the $500 million it’s spending on consultants, or perhaps the $325 million it blows on supplies and travel.

The FAA is under the Department of Transportation (DOT). To illustrate what is going on here, the article points out that while airport travelers were being delayed at the airports due to sequestration budget cuts, the DOT website announced a $474 million grant program that promises to “make communities more livable and sustainable.”

It is becoming increasingly obvious that our current leaders do not know how to manage money. At some point in the near future, we need to replace the spendaholics with responsible adults–our survival as a country depends on it.

 

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I Hate This, But It Makes Sense

Interstate 95 entering Virginia from North Car...

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One of the things that President Obama continues to repeat is that the infrastructure of America–our roads and bridges–is falling apart and we need to spend large amounts of government money to fix them.  I agree that many of our roads are in need of repair, I just question how effective the government will be in repairing them in a timely manner for a reasonable price.

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia has a different idea. He applied to the Department of Transportation for permission to place a toll on Interstate 95 in southern Virginia.

The article reports:

Because the toll will essentially raise money from I-95 users to pay for I-95 improvements — including out-of-state travelers — there’s no concern people will view this as an unnecessary tax, Caldwell (McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell) said.

I hate the idea of a toll road, but I can see the wisdom of the plan. If the money raised by the tolls is used exclusively to fund improvements and maintenance on that specific highway, the tolls make sense–those who use the road will pay for its upkeep.
The article further reports:

Federal highway authorities approved placing tolls on Interstate 81 in 2003 under the Interstate Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Pilot Program, but that plan stalled. State Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton lobbied Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez in April 2010 to shift the tolls to I-95, a more heavily traveled highway that runs the length of the East Coast.

As I said, I hate the idea of tolls, but this actually makes sense.

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