Category Archives: CCTA Education

Vetting Interview-Abe Jones, NC Court of Appeals Judge

Interview questions were developed by a Vetting Committee of 10 members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. All candidates for a particular office were asked the same questions. Interviews were conducted by 3 rotating members of the Vetting Committee. Summaries are the agreed-upon consensus of each 3-member group. Candidates were asked to interview in-person, but phone interviews were offered for candidates living outside Craven County if schedules would not allow travel.
Name, Candidate Position: Abe Jones, NC Court of Appeals Judge
Interview Date: 10-7-16
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Interviewed: On Phone
Name:  Abe Jones
Phone:  919-817-2711
Address:  P.O. Box 326, Raleigh, NC, 27602
Educational Background:
1970 – Graduated from high school in Raleigh
1974 – Graduated from Harvard College with a degree in History
1977 – Graduated from Harvard Law School
Law clerk in U.S. Federal District Court in D.C.
Law clerk in Federal Court of Appeals in D.C.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of NC, 1979-1983
Practiced 2 years on own
Became Administrative Law Judge in 1985
Private practice with Parker, Poe, Adams, & Bernstein
1995 – Appointed Superior Court Judge by James Hunt (Served until 2012 – Lost election)
In own solo practice, deal with employment, criminal, licensure, and contract law.
Demonstrations of Leadership:
* On Wake County Board of Commissioners 1990 – 1994
* On Mental Health Board (Requires problem solving and appealing to the public for necessary funding.)
* Chairman, Wake County Library Commission
* Alpha Phi Alpha (Active in my fraternity. Help out young guys.)
Memberships and Associations:
* Christian Legal Society
Why are you running for this office?
I’m running because I’m uniquely qualified. I’m one of the few who have trial judge experience. I have been a prosecutor, defense attorney, and trial judge. I have both defended and prosecuted criminal cases and civil cases.
What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?
I have two paid consultants and a part time manager. My two daughters, a law student, and a young lawyer volunteer.
I think it’s very wrong that the current General Assembly took away matching funds for lawyers.
Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire?
Probably Thomas Jefferson.
He was very erudite and had a tremendously creative mind. He did a lot of writing about the Constitution. He was an inventor. He had a good view toward African Americans.
Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
I don’t think I agree.
Any leader has to respect opposing views. It’s an amalgum of ideas instead of overriding everybody and getting your own way. That way, each person gets part of what they want out of it, and can buy off on it.
Which President do you most admire?
Abraham Lincoln.
He freed slaves and carried the country through a tough time. Had he lived, I believe there would have been less turmoil during reconstruction. He was a great speaker and a man of principle.
Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:
            a. An evolving document whose meaning changes with time, or
            b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?
The latter.
The Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights is designed to keep the government from impinging on individual freedoms.
Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened? How did you resolve it?
When serving as a judge, there were times when the law and my personal views diverged. For example, the ability of young people to have an abortion without parental conscent. I do not agree with that, but I went with the law.
Where do individual rights come from?
The progression began with the Magna Carta in 1215. Then John Loche’s ideas influenced the American democracy. We are the beacon. This government more than any other in history stands for individual rights.
What do you know about Common Core? What is your position on it and why?
Not much.
It’s an educational paradime. It’s an attempt to have all education to have uniformity across the nation. It can become too autocratic and bureaurocratic, but at core it’s not a bad idea if not over-managed.
What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?
The 2nd Amendment is rock hard about gun ownership and should be. I’m a gun owner. But no one needs an AR15. That’s stupid. I hate those guns. No one should have one.
Gun registration – yes.
I’m leary of gun free zones. They disarm law abiding citizens, and criminals keep their guns.
What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?
Exactly what it says. Churches stay out of the state’s business. Go to church to worship. But the state dosen’t write religion into law.
If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?
To do my job reviewing appeals and correcting any error in law. Discuss with colleagues and persuade them or be persuaded by them. To be fair.
This interview was conducted by Kathryn Blankley, Hal James, and Raynor James

Back to Basics Craven County already on the campaign trail

Thirty-year-old Craig Sheppard said he had a tough time keeping up with his 78-year-old partner on the campaign trail Saturday in Trent Woods.

Sheppard, who serves as a materials engineer at Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, spent the day with the Back to Basics Craven County candidates speaking to voters who are ready to see Craven County Schools change direction.

Saturday’s focus was District 3 and the group lived up to its grassroots’ background by knocking on more than 200 doors to find out first-hand what voters expect from their elected officials.

The candidates of the effort to transform Craven County Schools include Eddie McKeel for District 1, Rick Hopkins in District 3, Kim Fink for District 5 and Sarah Benischek for District 7.

This group of Constitutional Conservatives want to know what changes residents want to see in the school district. They have several tenants they’ll work for such as replacing Common Core standards, limiting high stake tests, having open discussion among board members and making documents readily available to the public via the school district’s Website, such as the recently released audit of Craven County Schools which was in the news recently.

My personal preference when it comes to this group’s beliefs – besides replacing tests with actual learning and boxes with real math – is their strict insistence upon compliance of Sunshine Laws.

So, why should voters care about this group? I could list all their accomplishments. Fink has been to Raleigh so many times State Superintendent June Atkinson knows her by name. She’s no stranger to the School Board meetings either. All the candidates are well versed in policies and current education issues. But that’s not necessarily all you need to know about the candidates.

This dynamic group of four simply cares. They care about the education of children in Craven County. They have real issues with the fact that not a month has passed in the past year in which the current board hasn’t huddled in closed session – doing the public’s business without the public’s input.

Hopkins simply wants the focus to be on the teachers and students not bureaucracy. I can guarantee that if elected, he would be appalled if the board decided to spend more than $100,000 on events hosted by itself, as reported in their controversial audit.

McKeel wants to keep educators by enforcing genuine open dialogue so that teachers feel comfortable reporting on their experiences. He’s ready, willing and able to work with educators, parents and classroom assistants toward a value-added curriculum.

Benischek remains focused on the fiscal responsibility of the board. What she wants is simple – transparency. She will follow the money to make sure no area of the county is forgotten. She also recognizes the revolving door that seems to exist with educators in Craven County, which can be seen each month if you can obtain a copy of the passed personnel report. She’ll advocate for the county to be more competitive with surrounding counties when it comes to teachers and teacher assistants.

This group is asking for one thing – your vote. And not only will they work for it but they will listen to your concerns. You may not agree with all their ideas but there’s one thing most people can agree on: the current direction of the Craven County Board of Education is not headed toward success. Just pick up a copy of last week’s New Bern Sun Journal and you’ll read about a mother fighting for her child’s rights and a judge reprimanding the administration for a job they didn’t do.

Then, there’s the closed sessions and the lawsuit pending against Craven County Schools by a former student who nearly drowned on a school-sponsored field trip. Guess what voters? These attorneys – these civil claims – cost the taxpayer.

So, what’s the difference in the current board and the candidates? Openness. Fairness. Ethical standards.

Any candidate who spends their Saturday going door-to-door just to listen to others has my vote of confidence. Obviously Sheppard thought it worthy of his time to chase after a 78-year-old volunteer to campaign for this group. To me, that speaks volumes.


Want to meet the candidates? A meet-and-greet will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Golden Corral in New Bern or visit their Facebook page at or their Website at

I’m calling bull on the public school systems

Forgive the vernacular.

I’m sure there’s a way I could write this more eloquently but sometimes words just escape you, especially when you’re dealing with failing public school systems.

Did you by any chance hear about Craven County Schools’ last-minute meeting this week in order for the board to huddle with attorneys for the 13th time and probably 30th hour this year?

No, you probably did not.

But I bet through Craven County Schools’ Facebook page, you found out who was named the Principal of the Year, you probably even know who won Friday’s football game – all through social media.

Social media, such as Facebook, which Craven County Schools loves to turn to for the important things, i.e. what officials want the public to know, can be a great tool to educate the public.

But, again, did you hear about that special called board meeting through social media or even the School Board’s own website? No.

You can imagine why those items were never publicly posted. Special meetings are called for few purposes, none of which include public input.

However, if you check out Craven County Schools’ Facebook page, you’ll see a call to citizens to raise up arms against HB 539. You know the bill – the one that actually treats public charter schools like they are you know, public.

In fact, the school system rallied its followers with the following cry for help: “Help keep local funding intended for public schools in public schools.”

So, is this what our public officials should be doing during work hours? Fighting for a political cause and then encouraging citizens to fight for that cause as well?

This is nothing new. I’ll never forget a call going out by Pamlico County Schools on its AwareNow alert system alarming parents that Arapahoe Charter School would soon be taking funding away from the public school by petitioning the N.C. Department of Public Instruction for the chance to educate high school students.

It’s a never-ending cycle. Public schools across the state, not just in the eastern part, complain.

Attend just one of their meetings and you’ll hear at least one board member whine about funding.

But if you do a little research by reading the full board meeting’s agenda, all the financial information the district wants you to remain ignorant about suddenly appears.

You’ll learn of carry-overs in funding from previous years. Yes, the districts receive money for at-risk children and those with special needs. But guess what? If it’s not used, it either goes back to the funding source or it carries over to the next year.

I will let you take all that in. I know it is breaking news that a public school district could be hiding public information.

It shocks me. Every. Single. Day.

Because that’s how entangled my interactions are with local school districts.

Remember when the Craven County Board of Education begged the Board of Commissioners for funding at the absolute last-minute for this fiscal year, and commissioners relented and gave additional money to the district?

Well, guess what? Somehow, the school district miraculously ended the year by spending less in capital funds than requested and given by commissioners. One would think that money would go back to the Board of Commissioners, thereby, going back to taxpayers.

But again, one would have to believe the school system operated on ethical principles. Someone should hold the School Board accountable.

So, I’m tossing the ball to the citizens who care and to the commissioners elected to represent the citizens.

Someone has to hold local school districts accountable. It clearly isn’t being done by the state.

So, to the Board of Education and Craven County Board of Commissioners, what’s your next move?

I’ll be watching.

NC Academic Standards Review Commission First Meeting-22 Sep 14

AudiancePhoto Credit for this picture- Lady Liberty 1885

As you can see from these picture, the meeting room was very crowded.  It was also hot, and uncomfortable.  CCTA’s Common Core Committee with Kim Fink, our Chairman, were 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.IMG_7510IMG_7511IMG_7512IMG_7513IMG_7514

Disappointing Joint Meeting of Craven Board of Commissioners and the Craven School Board Board

Yesterdays joint meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners and the Craven County Board of Education was a disappointment.  There was no discussion of the budget, because it apparently had not been heard by the school board from their administrators alone first.

We heard the same old explanations of why the school board had a penalty of $255,000 from the federal governments Military Impact Funds, with inadequate explanation of the reasons for that.  If the signature on the cover page was sent in landscape instead of portrait so the signature did not show, as explained by Chairman of the school board, Carr Ipock, it was sloppy work, .pdf files can be sent in portrait the same as any other files if it is done correctly.

No report on the reading abilities of third graders that Commissioner Dacey has asked for for over a year.  Just assurance again that the report will be forthcoming.

Just the same ole Kumbaya that we will communicate better and meet more often.  Will that really happen and what good will it do?

Of course, all of us are very concerned about the education of our nation’s children, but I’m also concerned about the socialist indoctrination of America’s students at the hands of the National Department of Education.


CCTA Meets with June Atkinson

A review of our second meeting with Dr. Atkinson.

CCTA on WITN! Your Tax Dollars Are Being Spent on What?

WITN February 13, 2014

The U.S. has a $17-trillion debt, a deficit this year of $514-billion, and is giving away billions of dollars in grants for all sorts of initiatives in foreign countries.

As members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association gathered in CravenCounty to tape their weekly radio program, they are simply outraged with some of what we discovered our federal government is spending money on.

Rick Hopkins is the chairman of CCTA and says, “We’re going right down the same road that’s been gone down so many times that’s lead to the collapse of countries.”

VIDEO AND MORE!  WITN  February 13, 2014

CCTA NEWS RELEASE–February 12. 2014

Like our founders, the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA) believes that only a moral, virtuous, well-informed citizenry is capable of self-government. In order to foster the kind of citizens a self-governing society needs, CCTA is forming the following classes…


Summary – For 5,000 years people lived in much the same labor intensive way. Then the American experiment brought forth a society in which there was freedom and the opportunity to live independently. In the next 200 years, invention and creativity flourished. This course teaches the principles of freedom and the ideas our founding documents are based on. The class is based on the book with the same title written by W. Cleon Skousen.

The class is free and is suitable for adults and mature young people. The class meets each Saturday at 10 a.m.


Summary – Only laws made pursuant to the constitution are the supreme law of the land. Federal laws that fall outside the purview of the U.S. Constitution are null and void and of no effect. States can and should interpose themselves between their citizens and unconstitutional laws. The class is based on the book of the same name by Thomas Woods, Jr., PhD.

The class is also free and is suitable for adults. The class meetseach Saturday at 11:30 a.m.


Summary – This study visits the work, writing, and beliefs of 21 radicals who, although dead, are still influencing us and the rest of the world. You will probably have heard of some (Saul Alinsky, Karl Marx). You may not know others (Alice Baily, Benjamin Bloom). This class is based on the book of the same name by Brannon Howse.

The class is free and is suitable for adults. The class meets each Tuesday at 2 p.m.


All classes meet at

Highland Park Christian Church

Carolina Avenue, Trent Woods

If you have questions, please call 252-444-7272

Info provided by:

Raynor James, PR Chair, Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA)

252-288-6228 (home)

252-626-2804 (cell)

Disclaimer: Although some of our classes and events are held at local churches, the churches are not affiliated with and do not endorse or support Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA). We have simply made arrangements with them to use their facilities. All church functions and activities remain separate and unaffiliated with CCTA functions and activities. The facilities are used for educational and organizational purposes only and not for political events or endorsements.


Parents of Murdered Seal Team 6 Member Speak Out

Billy and Karen Vaughn parents of one of the murdered Seal Team 6 members spoke out at the recent South Carolina Tea Party Convention.  Click here for the video:  Billy and Karen Vaughn at South Carolina Tea Party Convention                                                                    

Billy Vaughn has also written a book about the event.Betrayed

Betrayed: The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father by Billy Vaughn

Before BENGHAZI, There was EXTORTION 17…. August 06, 2011, 2:20 a.m.—Operation Lefty Grove is underway, a highly dangerous mission to take out another high-level Taliban operative, three months after the death of Osama Bin Laden. In the dark of night, twenty-five US Special Ops Forces and a five-man flight crew on board Extortion 17, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Seven unidentified Afghan Commandos are allowed to join them. Ground forces have already been engaged in a three-hour exhaustive battle. Extortion 17’s specially trained warriors drop into the Hot Landing Zone to help their fellow warriors. But there’s a problem: the standard chopper escorts have all been directed elsewhere.

Mission directions are unclear. Worse, pre-assault fire to cover the Chinook transporting our brave fighting men is not ordered. On that fateful night, Extortion 17 would never touch down. Taliban fighters fired three rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) in rapid succession. The first RPG shot below the Chinook, but the second made contact in what the military would later describe as a “one-in-a-million shot.” The shot struck a rotor blade on the aft (rear) pylon, shearing off ten and a half feet of the blade. The third shot flew above the falling chopper. Within a matter of seconds, the chopper begins to spin violently out of control and then drops vertically into a dry creek bed and is engulfed in a large fireball. There are no survivors. The thirty brave Americans lost that night were more than just warriors. They were husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. Billy Vaughn’s son, Aaron Carson Vaughn, was one of them. Over the next few months as unsettling information on the tragic incident is released to the families, Billy Vaughn becomes increasingly disturbed. Billy discovers that US military forces are not being led to win battles, but have been sent on a fool’s errand to “win the hearts and minds” of other nations. He is told that the US Rules of Engagement have prevented our brave defenders from defending themselves. Adding insult to injury, Billy learned that a Muslim Imam was invited by our own US military leaders to “pray” over his son’s dead body. As US war heroes lay in their caskets before their last flight home, the Imam damned America’s fallen warriors as “infidels” who would burn in hell. As US military leaders observed the ceremony at Bagram Air Base, the Imam boasted over the deaths of US heroes with words such as, “The companions of heaven [Muslims] are the winners.” Betrayed is a heart rending account in America’s history, an engaging story of faith, patriotism, honor, duty and loss. Betrayed is not just the biography of an American military family, it is a crucial, true-life narrative that every American must read and understand about their government and the danger America’s military strategy currently poses to all families. Betrayed is a book Billy Vaughn wishes he didn’t have to write. But his son is gone and there are still unanswered questions. He needs to know if finding the truth may prevent another father from standing in his shoes.

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