Failing To Save Money

New Bern, North Carolina, is a beautiful city (rebuilding after Hurricane Florence). Obviously, rebuilding is costing a lot. The City Alderman are doing a good job of trying to repair the damage done by the hurricane, but it is costing a lot. In addition to the cost of the hurricane, New Bern is now faced with the cost of a U.S. House District 3 primary election, possible run-off election, and off-year election to replace Congressman Walter Jones. That has brought up the issue of the cost of elections–they are expensive.

In the March 21-27 issue of The County Compass (I could not find the letter on the website, I actually have the paper. This is a link to the website.), New Bern Alderman Jeff Odham explained a way that the City of New Bern could save money on elections and increase voter turnout in municipal elections. New Bern normally holds its municipal elections in October every four years (2013, 2017, 2021, etc.). Alderman Odham proposed holding municipal elections in March during federal election primary elections. This change would decrease the cost of municipal elections from roughly $36,000 (if there is no runoff) or $55,000 (if there is a runoff) to less than $5,000. What a fantastic idea. If the elections are held during the primary, the runoff can be held during the general election in November, again at a cost of less than $5,000. This resolution would have to be approved by the Board of Aldermen and sent to Raleigh so that the legislature could modify the charter of the City of New Bern.

Last night the Board of Aldermen rejected the resolution. Among other things, the proposal would result in the current Board of Aldermen serving a three-year term instead of a four-year term. A number of the Aldermen objected to that. They were willing to cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars in order to serve for one more year. The Aldermen that voted against the proposal were Aldermen Best, Aster, Harris and Bengel.

Mayor Dana Outlaw, Alderman Kinsey and Alderman Odham voted for the proposal. It is unfortunate that the other Aldermen were not interested in a savings of at least $30,000 every four years. I will not be voting for my current Alderman (who voted against the resolution) in the next election.

Please Share This Post If You Like To Eat Local Fish

There will be a PUBLIC MEETING ABOUT THE SHRIMP PETITION NEXT TUESDAY, January 17th, beginning at 12:30pm at the RIVERFRONT CONVENTION CENTER IN NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA.

In North Carolina right now there is a conflict between the sports fishermen and the commercial fishermen. Please keep in mind that in North Carolina the commercial fishermen are generally family business that have fished our waters for generations–they are not large commercial operations with no relationship to the area. There is currently a petition to turn our major fishing waters into shrimp nurseries. While all of us want to protect our local shrimp, this is not necessary.

Here are a few things to remember as you hear the discussion of this issue:

Measures proposed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) were thoroughly considered by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) and North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (NCMFC) and recently addressed in the 2015 North Carolina Shrimp Fishery Management Plan-Amendment 1.

 

North Carolina, namely Pamlico Sound, is one of the few water bodies that supports commercial quantities of pink, white and brown shrimp in the south Atlantic.

 

Shrimp trawling effort peaked at 40,000 trips in 1982, and has declined since 1994 to an average of 7500 trips over the last 5 years, with the decline being completely unrelated to shrimp abundance.

 

North Carolina has the largest estuarine system within any one state of the entire USA. It is unique and caution should be taken in comparing management with that in other estuarine systems.

 

North Carolina is the only state that has formally designated primary and secondary nursery areas for juvenile fish, shrimp and crabs. All bottom-disturbing fishing gear, including shrimp trawls, has been prohibited in these areas for over 35 years.

 

North Carolina has 2,220,000 acres of estuarine surface waters with over one million acres or 48% of estuarine waters are closed to trawling. Using sound science, these vital habitat areas are protected by rules set forth in state legislation. (broken down below)

 

  • Since 1978 over 124,000 acres of estuarine nursery areas have been closed to trawling to protect juvenile fish and crustaceans.

 

  • There are approximately 77,000 acres of Primary Nurseries, 47,000 acres of Secondary Nursery areas, 37,000 of special Secondary Nursery areas, and over 78,000 acres of military danger zones and restricted areas are also closed to trawling for safety reasons.

 

  • Special Secondary Nursery areas can only be opened to trawling by proclamation from August 16 through May 15.

 

  • In the mid-90s the sea grass beds along the Outer Banks were closed to trawling to protect this critical habitat. North Carolina closed extensive areas of submerged aquatic vegetation located on the eastern shore of the Pamlico Sound from Oregon Inlet to the mouth of Core Sound to shrimp trawling in 1994.

 

  • In 2006 almost 92,000 additional acres were closed to shrimp trawling as part of the North Carolina Shrimp FMP.

 

North Carolina historically leads research to refine practices and develop devices to reduce bycatch, reaching a 70% total reduction in total juvenile finfish bycatch, and becoming the first state to require finfish excluders in shrimp trawls. Current efforts continue to seek further improvement.

 

North Carolina is recognized by states and the federal government as having one of the best fisheries data collection programs in the country and Scientists studying bycatch in North Carolina have cautioned that finfish/shrimp ratios tend to overestimate bycatch.

 

No correlation was observed in abundance indices of juvenile Atlantic croaker, weakfish, and spot and shrimp trawl effort for the last 21 years in analyses performed for the NC 2015 Shrimp FMP, and none are listed as experiencing overfishing.

 

  • The shrimp trawl fishery has been ongoing in the estuarine waters of North Carolina since 1917. Since that time landings, and abundance levels of spot, croaker and weakfish in North Carolina, have fluctuated widely, yet experienced peaks in the late 1970’s to mid 1980’s.

 

  • Based on extensive and current scientific data, fishermen are not overfishing Atlantic croaker and croaker are likely not overfished.

 

  • Based on a 2016 weakfish stock assessment, extensive scientific data and comprehensive analyses determined that fishermen are not overfishing weakfish. The lack of recovery in weakfish populations is primarily from natural causes, such as predation and diseases, which has prevented the stock from recovering.

 

  • Additionally, recent population assessments on weakfish show a strong correlation with decreasing juvenile numbers and rising striped bass and spiny dogfish abundance. Juveniles that are caught are returned to the ecosystem where many serve as forage, where they are consumed by many highly-prized sportfish that the recreational industry benefits from, as well as commercially important species.

 

  • North Carolina under the jurisdiction of the ASMFC, manages and conserves many migratory species. None of the plans, amendments, or addendums to do so have recommended a closure on inside shrimp trawling in North Carolina to ensure sustainability of these fisheries resources.

 

  • The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC), a federal agency, has developed a FMP for shrimp in the south Atlantic, with numerous amendments. None of its plans, amendments, or addendums have recommended a closure on estuarine and near-shore shrimp trawling in North Carolina to ensure sustainability of the fisheries resources within their jurisdiction.

 

  • Implementing an 8-inch size limit for spot and a 10-inch size limit for American croaker for recreational fishermen would be arbitrary considering neither species is experiencing overfishing.

 

To recommend such significant management measures by rulemaking on one of North Carolina’s most important fisheries without a thorough and objective review of pertinent science/information and existing management policies is disingenuous and irresponsible, and may very well lead to some serious unintended consequences.

 

The discussion of this issue is based on a petition. The State of North Carolina is required to respond to that petition. The fact that they are responding to the petition is not related to the validity of the petition–it simply a  recognition of the fact that the people who filed the petition were able to get the required number of signatures. The ideas this petition presents need to be voted down in order to protect the commercial fishermen of North Carolina.

 

Common Sense During An Election Season

Dave Chadwick describes himself as a 59-year-old African American man, born and raised in Jacksonville (North Carolina), and now living with my family in New Bern (North Carolina).

He recently wrote a letter to the New Bern Sun Journal stating his thoughts on the current election cycle. After reading the letter, I am convinced we need this man in public office.

This is the letter:

I am a 59-year-old African American man, born and raised in Jacksonville, and now living with my family in New Bern.

I am insulted by the arrogance of the Democratic candidates during this election because they talk to us through their advertisements as if we are stupid.

My kids attend public schools here in New Bern. Not only are the staff and teachers at the schools outstanding, my kids have plenty of books.

I seriously doubt if money is really being transferred from the schools to yacht owners. But each time someone purchases a yacht, jobs are created and secured at companies like Hatteras Yachts located right here in New Bern.

I was shocked to hear the radio commercial that featured a couple of ladies suggesting the Republicans were trying to take away the rights of African Americans to vote. The voter ID initiative,(if that’s what they’re referring to) is to preserve the integrity of the vote, and a photo ID can be acquired for free through the North Carolina DMV.

And recently, the commitment of the incumbent Democratic Senator Kay Hagan to a strong military and American security was questioned by the Republican candidate. In her rebuttal commercial, the Democratic Senatorial candidate cited her relatives who have served in the military and her support for the administration’s current strategy regarding the terror group ISIS.

Well, almost everyone in Eastern North Carolina has relatives currently serving or who have previously served in the military. Despite all the “support of the administration’s ISIS strategy,” it doesn’t seem like much progress is being made at stopping them. I just finished watching a CBS, 60 minutes story on Benghazi which is completely inconsistent with the administration’s story.

These things do not invoke trust within me or many of my friends for the current Obama administration. The Democrats are spending an awful lot of money on negative ads designed to discredit Republicans.

Why would anyone choose that kind of strategy over one that highlights their own accomplishments?

Thank you for allowing me to voice this opinion.

 David Chadwick, New Bern

Thank you, Mr. Chadwick, for introducing some common sense into the race.

Mr. Chadwick was recently interviewed on NewsMax TV. This is the interview:

How Much For A Coat Of Paint?

City government is complicated, and there are very few people who actually understand what is going on most of the time. One of the people who do understand is Raynor James, who recently posted an article at the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers’ Association website about the recent discussions about the city Housing Authority. Here is the article:

Forget the expensive screw driver…

Should A New Coat of Paint Cost $27.3 Million Dollars?

 

By Raynor James


Eddie Fitzgerald’s recent Sun Journal articles about the New Bern Housing Authority’s dust up with Evergreen of Florida, Transformation Venture Capital, and the Communities Group has me “seeing red.”  Why?
Well, the developer (Evergreen) claims that the Housing Authority breached a contract with it and its limited partners (Transformation Venture Capital, and the Communities Group) relative to Craven Terrace’s future.  However, Mr. Fitzgerald reports that there is opposition from the residents of Craven Terrace to Evergreen’s plans.  He also reports that there is dissension among Housing Authority Board members as to what should be done about Craven Terrace, uncertainty about the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant (going forward with Evergreen’s plans might wipe out that opportunity), and doubts expressed by staff.

It looks as if nobody (except the developer and its limited partners) likes the contract.  What does the contract say?  From the articles, it appears that the developer can plan anything they like for Craven Terrace, and the Housing Authority is required to pay for the plan and its implementation whether they, their staff, or the residents like it or not.  If that’s what the contract says, who signed it, and why?  By whom was the authority to sign authorized?  Did the Housing Authority’s law firm, Ward and Smith, advise the signing of such a unilateral contract?

In his articles, Mr. Fitzgerald indicates that the Housing Authority can lose more than a million dollars if the Housing Authority doesn’t go forward with the contract.  How on earth can that be possible when all that has been done is to come up with some very contentious plans that nobody likes nor seems to want to implement? Why didn’t Ward and Smith review the contract before the Housing Authority signed it and tell them they would paint themselves into a very tight corner if they did sign it?

What a royal screw up.  It looks like the taxpayers are having their money wasted.  Again.  And it looks like that, instead of getting less dense housing that’s integrated into the community in such a way as to not be a magnet for gangs and drug dealers, the residents are on track to receive a new coat of paint and a condescending pat on the head from their “betters.”  Everyone involved deserves better than this.

Do you think the Housing Authority needs to hire a new law firm to help them get out from under the thumb of Evergreen and company?  This mess needs to be cleaned up before good money is thrown after bad. And, fellow taxpayers, it’s OUR money

 

Coming Together After A Horrific Event

Today’s Sun Journal (New Bern, North Carolina) posted an article about the way Mayor Outlaw handled the recent deadly shooting of a policeman by a local young man. The young man also wounded another policeman. The shooting was horrible, and there is no way to defend the actions of the young man, who was killed during the incident. However, many policemen and residents of New Bern have criticized the way the Mayor handled the aftermath of the event. I think the criticism is unwarranted. First of all, there is no way the Mayor could have handled this that would have pleased everyone. Second of all, the Mayor is not in office to please everyone–he is there to keep order in the town, uphold the law, and do what he believes is right.

The article explains some of the actions of the Mayor in the aftermath of the shooting:

For his part, Outlaw said he went to Stallings’ funeral Thursday because he had known the family a long time.

“When somebody dies, there is a loss to the family, it doesn’t matter to me if it was cancer, a heart attack or someone getting run over by a train, dying a violent death,” he said. “I don’t focus on the death. I focus on the family. …My thought was I have a dear friend and if that friend needs me I’m there for them. That in no way distracts my admiration and mourning for officer Alexander Thalmann. I don’t control why people die. I just know that I’m going to be there for the family.”

The Mayor did the compassionate thing, I don’t think the criticism is appropriate–he was not honoring the shooter– he was being a friend to a family going through a very difficult time. The family did not shoot the policeman–their son did. Why would anyone want to deny them their friend at their son’s funeral?

The Mayor is the Mayor of all of the City of New Bern–he has responsibilities to all of the residents along with the obligations to friends that all of us have. I understand the anger of the law enforcement community, but I don’t agree with it. This is a time to extend grace and pray for healing in the community.

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