Category Archives: Watchdog

This Week’s TRUMP REPORT CARD by Constance Hanna Conniehanna131@gmail.com

This article appeared in The County Compass September 14-20 issue.
     The President plans to visit as many as 13 states in the next seven weeks to sell the need for tax reform.  He will concentrate on states he won during the general election that have a Democrat senator up for reelection next year.  These include Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  In some instances, cabinet members will follow the President’s visit to amplify his message.  This is a proactive strategy to energize voters to contact their representatives and senators and let their preferences be known.  Good luck, Mr. President!
     This week the President announced his seventh wave of Federal Judicial Appointments.  He nominated 16 individuals this time.  The Democrats continue to slow the appointments by using the full 30 hours of debate allowed for each nomination.  By mid-July each of the four previous administrations (Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama) had an average number of 190 appointments confirmed.  For President Trump, that number was 50.  In August, James Langford (R-OK) proposed reducing the debate time to 8 hours or less which would allow a debate and a vote on five or more appointments a week instead of one or two.
So far, this has not come to fruition.
     President Trump hosted Senators for a bipartisan dinner at the White House on Tuesday, September 12th.  Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John Thune (R-SD), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) discussed advancing the Administration’s legislative priorities in general, and there was emphasis on tax cuts for American families in particular.  Michael Goodwin of The New York Post said that, although there is no guarantee for success, “History consistently rewards those presidents whose leadership produces results that reflect a broad consent of the governed.”
     Reflecting this same thought, President Trump said on Thursday, “When we set aside our differences — and it’s amazing sometimes how little our differences are — we put our country and the citizens of our country first.”
     I’d say the President had another “A” week, but it’s a good thing I’m not rating the Senate.  They’re not earning high marks, but maybe they’ll respond well to a shared dinner and shared ideas.  And maybe we should call them?!!

Protectionist CON laws and you, the unprotected by Dr. Jay Singleton

Protectionist CON laws and you, the unprotected

by Dr. Jay Singleton


Dr. Singleton is Board Certified in Ophthalmology (scoring in the 95th percentile), and he specializes in cataract surgery, laser cataract surgery, Lasik surgery, glaucoma surgery, blepharoplasty, and treatment of diseases of the eye.  He has performed over 20,000 cataract surgeries. His medical practice is located on Trent Road in New Bern, North Carolina.
 

Dr. Singleton has worked for some time to try to convince the NC General Assembly to eliminate Certificate of Need (CON) laws, and the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association’s State Legislative Action Committee is also working toward that end.

 

I see patients from all over Eastern NC.  Many of these patients have just moved here from northern states.  When it comes time for surgery, they almost invariably say, “Why can’t you just do my cataract surgery here in your office?  Where I’m from, there are outpatient surgery centers everywhere.”

My answer is always the same, “In NC, a mutually beneficial deal has been struck between the large hospitals’ systems and many of our lawmakers to push patients toward higher priced, hospital owned surgery centers.”

The instrument they use to do this is a group of laws called the Certificate of Need laws (CON laws).  These laws were enacted by the federal government in the early 1970s to control costs in healthcare by preventing duplication of services.  By 1987, CON laws were abandoned because they did not achieve their intended purposes.  Unfortunately, North Carolina kept their very strict form of CON laws that even today rank as the third most restrictive in the continental US.  This means that nearly all healthcare services are regulated by the DHHS, and a healthcare entity must prove a need exists in their county or region.

This is where it gets interesting.  For surgery centers to survive, they must collect a separate fee from insurance companies called a facility fee.  This fee is paid in addition to surgical fees to offset the overhead costs of a particular surgery.  You must have a CON in NC to collect this fee, and you must prove need, and be unopposed by the hospital system in your region to acquire a CON.

 

For example, without a facility fee in cataract surgery, a surgeon would make $580 and incur $800 in overhead.  In addition, facility fees are variable.  Hospitals are given two to three times more fees for the same surgery as a hidden subsidy for loses incurred from the care of uninsured patients (as if being completely tax exempt isn’t enough to off-set that).

 

In assessing need, the cards are intentionally stacked in favor of hospitals.  If one looks at the CONs awarded over the last decade, almost all were awarded to hospitals except those granted to dialysis centers.  Each year, the NC State Health Coordinating Council (SHCC) provides a list of “need per region,” and despite our state recently growing to over 9 million residents, the list still showed no increase in need.

If a physician is somehow able to prove need in his or her area in spite of that situation, the friendly local hospital can oppose the project and that runs legal fees up to, on average, something in excess of $400,000.

CON laws are protectionist (of hospitals at the expense of physicians and their patients who could be served more conveniently and at less expense).  CON laws are also unconstitutional at their core.  Yet the laws’ unfairness and unconstitutionality are flaunted in plain sight.  Our state will continue to cling to its special brand of CON laws as long as we keep looking the other way.  Keeping silent on the subject will not make them go away; only citizens actively expressing their displeasure to their representatives in the General Assembly can make a difference.

NC Open Meeting Law and Craven County Board of Commissioners

Watchdog Report

Craven County Board of Commissioners meeting, September 5, 2017

This meeting was another one that was strange to me.  It was conducted strictly in accordance with NC’s Open Meeting Laws.  Could it be that our commissioners are aware now of the lawsuit that citizens in Beaufort County have filed against the Board of Commissioners there for violations of those laws?  Of course, merely speculation on my part.

The first inkling I had of it was when citizens making petitions to the Board were instructed to hand all materials they wanted the Commissioners to see to the clerk.  Chairman Mark said that they were not allowed to accept materials.  As far as I know commissioners did not look at any of the materials that had been provided by citizens during the meeting.

In the past I have complained abut County Manager, Jack Veit’s passing printed materials out to the Commissioners without providing copies for citizens in attendance.  At this meeting he showed everything he presented to the commissioners with a projector.

The net effect of all this was to make the commissioners even more distant from the citizens.

I was one of the petitioners.  I told the commissioners about a meeting that Raynor and I have been invited to attend with staff at the NC Treasurer’s office on local debt.  I asked if the Commissioners would like me to deliver any comments that they would like to make on the subject to the people in attendance at that meeting.  I also read the amount of each class of debt that the county has that I obtained from the NC Treasurer’s website and asked that if current debt was significantly different, I would like to be informed of that.  I made no comment other than that about the debt.

Commissioner Tyson was the first commissioner to give a report just before the close of the meeting (they each give a report at the close of all their meetings).  Commissioner Tyson stated that, in spite of reports by one individual (meaning me), the sky is not falling.  That the county is in excellent financial condition, tax rates are among the lowest in the state, and the debt was for the water system that had been mandated by the State.

At his opportunity, Commissioner Dacey said that someone (surely me) had complained that the county budget is always growing.  He asserted that the reason is that the county is always providing more for the citizens.  He said citizens could go on his website and see a list of all agencies that are making contributions to the well being of Craven’s citizens and how to get in touch with them.  He also stated that growth in the budget was largely federal and state money, and that whoever doesn’t like it could complain to Congressman Jones and our state representatives.

The meeting was well attended by citizens, most of whom were there to urge the Commission to support the adoption of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.   As we were leaving, Commissioner Tyson followed me out and yelled at me about “fake news” etc.  I just ignored him and continued to walk.

Fighting federal intrusion, data gathering, and student indoctrination

We at CCTA have had several opportunities recently to continue our battle against the intrusion of the federal government into local education and the indoctrination of children in socialism and globalization.

The Craven County Republican Women’s Club had the new NC Secretary of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson, as a speaker. Several CCTA members were present. Mr. Johnson invited one on one discussion after his talk. I showed him a document with the portion of the Common Core Educational Standards that require fourth graders to “discuss the effect of discrimination in our American culture,” and he agreed that they are age inappropriate, and he asked if he could keep the copies I had with me. I gave them to him.

At a recent meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, a request made by Craven School Superintendent, Megan Doyle, to lease I-Pads for the use of each student and teacher in the county (K though 12) was approved. That resulted in a 3 year renewable lease for I-Pads at an annual cost of $986,789. This is a significant increase in “capital funding,” and the cost of the I-Pads was not mentioned in the presentation, nor was the fact that some child development specialists are saying that introducing young children (K through 2) to electronic devices interferes with their motor skill development and actually retards brain development. However, a meeting has been scheduled with Dr. Doyle to address CCTA’s concerns about the school system and to address her concerns about some of CCTA’s assertions.

Education was also discussed on our last CCTA “Wake- Up Call” radio show. Rick arranged for Lynn Taylor, known as “Common Core Diva,” to be a special guest via Skype. Lynn lives in Mooresville (near Charlotte), North Carolina. She spent 23 years homeschooling her 3 children. Lynn is admired and respected by Kim Fink, and her CCTA Public Education Committee.

Rick asked Lynn if what’s going on in education here and what’s going on in the UN have any relationship. She said they are related, and the key to understanding it are the notions of “collectivism” and “sustainability,” and goals built around the idea of being “green.” The idea is that “technology saves trees,” and “we can’t be one big happy world if we’re not all connected digitally.” NC has been among the first to hook up to global efforts for education and data sharing. Lynn also says FERPA (the “Family Educational Rights and Privacy Right Act of 1974”) has been gutted by an Executive Order by President Obama. She pointed out that data can be collected (without permission) in students’ homes by their school provided devices.

This change was accomplished by a publication of the US. Department of Education which states in part: “High quality data and robust data systems will help us measure our progress towards President Obama’s goal for us to be first in the world in college completion by the year 2020 and better meet the needs of parents, teachers, and students. … the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has begun several initiatives to provide technical assistance to States, districts, and schools to protect the privacy rights of students, promote the responsible use of data to inform education policy and practices and empower parents, teachers and students to use this information to advocate for their rights and improve their educational outcomes.”

We don’t believe a word of that publication, and you shouldn’t either. You’ll see why if you listen to that installment of “Wake-Up Call” which you can do by going to http://cctaxpayers.com/series/wakeup/. The program ends with ideas about how we can help fix this mess!

Watchdog Report on Craven County School Board Request for Money to Buy I-Pads

WATCHDOG REPORT
21 August 2017
There was much about this Craven County Board of Commissioners meeting that true Constitutionalists and conservatives would not like. To address them all in one email would make it too long, so this first report will cover only one of them, and that is the Board of Education’s request for money to lease I-pads for the use of all “traditional” school students and teachers (kindergarten through 12th grade) in the county.
The appeal was presented by Dr. Meghan Doyle, Superintendent of Schools.  To her credit, Dr. Doyle made sure that I had all the presentation materials that she provided the commissioners which I greatly appreciate.  She explained that secondary schools (grades 6 through12) do not receive Title 1 funds.  She assumed that every one knew what that is, but I didn’t, so I looked it up.
Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers (or high percentages) of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.  Oct 5, 2015.
Dr. Doyle pointed out that at the end of the lease period (it must be “lease to own”), there would be enough “residual value” to make a down payment on the next 3 year lease period.  That she said would be from $80 to $100 dollars.  She also pointed out that the I-pads would reduce the number of printed books that would need to be purchased for students.  The amount allocated for students’ books was $90 per student, and it is paid for by the school system.  Wow!  I did not know that schools now provide the books.  When I was in school we bought them from the students in the class ahead of us.  Today’s children go first class, don’t they?
Prior to this meeting, I had made it clear to the board that CCTA objects to the county using capital outlay to pay for recurring expenses.  Commissioner Dacey had the good grace to make it known that the County’s portion of the expense would have to be moved from the current  general fund to capital outlay for the schools, but would not increase the already agreed to $750,000 annual contribution by the county for school capital outlay.  There was no explanation as to why the school system is not being required to pay it out of the funds they have already received.  Commissioner Dacey again restated his desire that all Craven County School students have access to wi-fi.  Dr. Dole said that the new I-pads would help because students could down load to their I-Pads and read the downloaded book or other down loaded material at home.
It became obvious during the discussion that Chairman Mark had not read the lease and that Commissioner Liner had.
NOW, for the strangest part.   Neither Dr. Doyle nor any commissioner stated the amount of the request!   I knew because the entire lease, Resolution requested, and the Lease Payment schedule were printed in attachment 2 of the 172 page agenda which I had printed and had with me.  (Is this hiding it in plain sight?  How many citizens go to the trouble and expense of printing the whole thing so that they can really see what is being done with taxpayers’ money?)
THE LEASE AGREEMENT COMES TO $2,960,368.13!    That’s right.  Almost $3 million dollars!   It is payable in 3 payments of $986,789, so that’s almost $1 million dollars annually for some time!  The due date for the first payment is September 14, 2017.
Nationally, we are now spending $1 billion dollars a day on interest on the debt we will pass on to our children and grandchildren.
How long can America go on in this spending spree to provide all citizens with everything they need or even want?  Historically, we looked after ourselves and our children.  Now, we seem to be rearing snowflakes who get their heads filled with nonsense while in school, graduate from college, and come home to live in our basements, and entertain themselves in various unfortunate ways while bemoaning their inability to get a job suitable to their status.  What have we allowed to happen to us?  When will we insist on fixing it?
Respectfully submitted,
Hal James
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

Scott Dacey’s Piece: Rebuttal or confirmation?

This billboard is minimally competitive with private practices???
 
     In July, I wrote an article about how Craven County Commissioner Scott Dacey’svoting record is at odds with his campaign website which says he “is constantly working toward reducing the size of government.”
     Mr. Dacey proffered a piece for the August 3-9 issue of The County Compass.  I’m not quite sure if that piece was a rebuttal or a confirmation.   In it, Mr. Dacey mentioned that he was the only commissioner to vote against the original Craven County Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in New Bern, and said that once it was a done deal, he’d worked “to make certain it was implemented with the least possible intrusion into local private health care practices” and “with minimal expansion of government” thus acknowledging the validity of my complaints about competition with the private sector and expansion of government.  His complaint seemed to be that I didn’t go back to 2014 to find a vote he made that was conservative.
     He then acknowledged that he did vote for the FQHC in Havelock in 2016, but again said he “worked to make certain local health care providers would not be negatively impacted.”  Would you call the billboard pictured here an illustration of minimal competition with private practices?
 
     In addressing my complaints about his voting to train 20 clinicians in “grief counseling,” Mr. Dacey said I should be directing my concerns to the General Assembly.  Well, our various CCTA committees make a number of trips to Raleigh each year to do just that sort of thing, but if he were a conservative Commissioner, I would expect Mr. Dacey to make his own appeals to the General Assembly on that subject as it is the practice of the Board of Commissioners to make a number of requests to the General Assembly annually.
As to the $500,000 of taxpayer money to be spent on modifying rental property for use as a training center, I did err in saying it was “Craven County” taxpayer money.  Mr. Dacey makes a strong distinction between Craven County, state, and federal tax dollars, and I do not.  It is all money that comes out of your pocket and mine that would otherwise be available to buy clothes for school, put a new set of tires on the truck, or pay the fellow who repaired the window the children broke playing ball.
     As to his having voted to raise the county’s public transportation costs by adding a Municipal Planning Organization “by pretending communities as diverse as New Bern and Havelock were a single community,” I was busted!  Havelock wasn’t involved.  I should have said “communities as diverse as River Bend and Bridgeton.”
     Ah, well, I leave it to you, gentle reader.  Was the piece a rebuttal or a confirmation?

What do Federally Qualified Health Centers do? by Hal James   hal@cctaxpayers.com

     I heard a man brag on Fox News recently that, although he has not worked since 1987, he has first class health care.  How can that be?
     He continued by saying he gets health services from a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), so I wondered what FQHCs do.  There are 2 of them in Craven County, so I checked out what they say about themselves, and found they provide “comprehensive primary and preventive care” to residents of all ages “regardless of their ability to pay.”  Services listed include “annual wellness exams, sick visits, immunizations, lab services, and chronic disease management.”
     They say they’ll coordinate appointments with other health care providers, including specialists, and “provide you with tools and education that can help manage your care at home.”  Judging by the billboard pictured above, they must be formidable competition for private medical practices.  They also compete with the private sector when it comes to employing a work force.  These tax dollar supported health agencies are currently advertising for clinical charge nurses, RNs for postop recovery, a unit manager for an ER, and for behavioral health specialists.
     I wondered how wide-spread this is and found a list of “NC Healthcare Safety Net Providers” published by the NC Institute of Medicine.  There are 142 pages, and each page contains about 25 such providers.  That makes the grand total approximately 3,550 in NC alone.
    If someone works hard all his or her life, shouldn’t he or she get to keep the fruits of that lifetime of labor instead of being forced to pay for “excellent health care” for a nere-do-well?

CCTA Wake Up Call 6 August 2017

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Rick started us off by observing that in his 1971 book, Rules for Radicals, Saul Alnsky coached the left to make a small number of people seem like more by raising a din.  He went on to say that William Barbour (Moral Monday) and Bob Hall (Democracy North Carolina) had used that tactic in NC, and pointed to recent events when the left stacked the responses to a Board of Elections hearing, and that led to new rules which Rick believes will have the effect of discouraging citizens from calling out cases of voting impropriety that they observe.  Rick believes we (conservatives) need to get better at influencing such things.

We talked about Grass Roots North Carolina’s planning a demonstration in Raleigh (which we observed would be over by the time the program airs) to call out RINOs in the NC Senate for sitting on HB-746, the Omnibus Gun Changes bill which would remove some of the infringements on our 2nd Amendment rights and whose primary sponsors are Chris Millis, Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale, and Justin Burr.  We talked about the committee the bill is stuck in, who the chairman is, and how to use the General Assembly website to send email (or get phone numbers to make phone calls) to ask the chairman and committee members to report the bill out for a full senate vote.  (Timing should be great for doing that.)

We talked about how Article 1, Sections 9 and 10 of the U.S. Constitution forbid the federal government and state governments from issuing titles of nobility and how modern day politicians use the title that comes with their office as if it were a title of nobility for the purpose of making themselves seem superior to the citizens they should be serving.  A couple of examples were given.  One was national.  The other was an action by the mayor of an eastern NC town.

We got into the Raise Act and discussed the various ways passage of it would affect the issuance of future green cards and what that would do to future legal immigration.  We talked about a now deceased CCTA member who was the first member of her family to be born here (her parents were from Ireland), and how passionate she was about stopping chain migration, and how pleased we though she’d be if the Raise Act is passed.

Finally, we just started on the 17th Amendment and what it is, plus the fact that Mike Huckabee has tweeted an appeal to repeal the 17th Amendment, and what Alan West has said on the subject recently.  We ran out of time at that point, so next week we’ll discuss our views on the 17th Amendment and the reasons for them – among a bunch of other things, I can just bet!

OMNIBUS GUN CHANGES bill can still pass if we…

Dear CCTA Members and Friends,

Back in June, the NC House passed HB-746, the Omnibus Gun Changes bill.  This bill started out as a Constitutional carry bill, but there were not enough true conservatives in the House to pass it.  However, much work was done in the House Republican Caucus, and this bill (HB-746) finally passed and was sent to the Senate.  It is not as good as it once was, but, if passed, it WILL roll back some of the unconstitutional infringements that we’ve been living with.

What happened in the Senate?

Well, it passed the first reading and was referred to the Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee where it continues to languish today.  If you look at that Committee on the General Assembly webpage at http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/Committees/committees.asp?sAction=ViewCommittee&sActionDetails=Senate+Standing_148, you will find that approximately 600 other bills are keeping it company there.

What is this all about?

That committee is being used as a graveyard for bills.  However, some of them will probably be reported out and sent to the floor of the Senate and be voted on.  Some will pass.  Which ones?  Well, it’s popular to say, “Follow the money; who stands to benefit from this and as a result is making donations to Senators’s coffers?”  Historically, that has happened over and over again.

A new model may be emerging.  That model might best be described as “Follow what the activists are working on.”

If enough of us call or email Senator Bill Rabon (Chairman of the Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee) and ask him to have his committee report HB-746 out so that it can be voted on, we could help make it happen.  Grass Roots North Carolina is already working to get HB-746 passed.  Let’s join them and write or call…

Senator Bill Rabon, Chairman, Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee
919-733-5963
bill.rabon@ncleg.net

If you’re REALLY ambitions, you can scroll down the General Assembly webpage (see URL above) to where the committee members are listed, hover over each name, click and go to his or her info page, and call or write him or her, too!

Let’s get this done!  Oh, and we might want to thank Representatives Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale, Chris Millis, and Justin Burr  the next time we see them.  They are the primary sponsors of the bill.

Sincerely,

Raynor

Raynor James, Chairman, CCTA’s State Legislative Action Committee

 

RINOs are strangling conservative legislation! by Hal James Reprinted from The County Compass

While the platform of the Republican Party is conservative to the point that one could almost imagine its being written by a CCTA member, the Party has many successful RINOs (Republicans in name only). At all levels of our government (US, NC, counties, cities and towns), two tactics are used by RINOs to get elected to public office. Let’s examine the first. Gain the support of Constitutional, conservative folks by attending their rallies, making speeches that would make you think they are one of us, appearing to be so when interviewed, etc. They do this because they know there is another block of voters which is going to vote for anyone with an “R” after their name over anyone with a “D” after their name. Together, the two voting blocks will likely prove to be the majority of voters in our neck of the woods.
The second tactic is to split the conservative vote by getting two people with the reputation of being able to gain the support of the conservative block to run for the office against the RINO, thus the RINO can win primaries without even having a majority vote.
Here in North Carolina, those two tactics have given us Senators Tillis and Burr, both of whom work to obstruct President Trump’s conservative agenda.
In our General Assembly, there is only a small block of about six conservaive Republicans.  The Senate is a little better. In Craven County, the Board of Commissioners (4 Republicans, 3 Democrats) almost without exception vote unanimously to approve every motion, and the county budget grows year after year. Imagine that! I believe the same situation exists in most counties in our area. Beaufort and Carteret do appear to have a few strongly conservative commissioners, but there are TOO MANY RINOs!
Savvy conservatives need to stop listening to politicians’ talk and start watching how they vote. Actions almost always speak louder than words!
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