Category Archives: Commissioners

meeting, November 20, 2017, More Personnel, Government Spending on Boondoggles

My last report contained the good news that a staff request to apply for a grant to fund hiring a new staff member for CARTS was  denied!  The vote actually was a non-partisan NO!  Five No, Commissioner Sampson voted Yes and Commissioner McCabe’s vote was not audible.

Well, at the first meeting his month, STAFF SAW TO IT THAT THE Commissioners would not get confused by a citizen bringing negative aspects of their plans to light. They called a “work session” at which citizens were not allowed to speak before the regularly scheduled Board Meeting at which citizens could speak.

At this special “work session” the Board of Commissioners approved the hiring of two new staff members.   NEVER A DISCUSSION ABOUT WHERE SOME BELT TIGHTENING COULD BE DONE SO THAT HIRING OF NEW STAFF MEMBERS WOULD NOT EVENTUALLY RESULT IN MORE SPENDING BY THE COUNTY!

The authority to hire was taken up in two different motions.  The Commissioners voted:  Tom Mark-Yes to both, Scott Dacey-Yes to both, Theron McCabe- Yes to both, Johnnie Sampson- Yes to both, Jason Jones-Yes to both, George Liner-Yes to both, Steve Tyson-Yes to both.

Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood.   I did not indicate that CCTA objects to the two positions, but the manner in which the hiring authority was considered and approved without the opportunity for public comment and with no discussion of reduction in spending elsewhere to accommodate this increase in personnel.

Here is my account of something else that happened:  One Monday, November 6, I got a call from John Droz, a physicist who lives in Morehead City.  John said he’d seen Craven County Commissioner, Scott Dacey, at a tea party meeting in Carteret County, and Scott was excited to tell him that the Craven County ordinance that regulates industrial wind turbines is being re-written and that the new ordinance would be much better and more like the ordinance passed in Carteret. Commissioner Dacey subsequently emailed John a copy of what he thought at the time was a copy of the new proposed ordinance.

Initially, John Droz was pleased, but when he looked at the “new” wind law, he concluded it was “not materially different from the existing one.” John has developed a system to evaluate wind turbine laws and whether they protect the health, safety, and welfare of citizens.  He assigns 20 points to each of five areas of concern, so a perfect law would get 100 points.

The areas John looks at are setbacks, acoustics, property value protection, environmental concerns, and decommissioning requirements.  Setbacks and acoustics are particularly important to citizens’ health and property values concerns.

When John looked at Craven’s ordinance, he gave it 15 points for the decommissioning aspects of it and zero points for anything else.  That’s 15 points out of a possible 100 points.  He said, “Out of the 200 (plus or minus) U.S. local wind laws I’ve seen, this is one of the worst.”  By way of comparison, he gave Carteret’s ordinance 100 points.

It turns out that Commissioner Dacey mistakenly sent John a copy of the existing ordinance.

At the Craven Commissioners’ work session the proposed wind ordinance was discussed and was actually compared to the current Carteret ordinance.  At one point, a participant in the discussion said that it is obvious that the objective of the Carteret ordinance is to prevent wind turbines from being built.  A discussion of a moratorium came up and was briefly discussed.  No action was taken.

AT today’s Board meeting County manager, Jack Viet said that the process to affect a moratorium would take  several months and that changes to the ordinance could be done just as quickly and that staff would work on it.

The Board also approved a request from the ABC Board to purchase a parcel of land on which to build a new ABC store for Bridgeton.  The important thing about that is that heretofore the ABC Board has rented buildings or shopping center space to house their stores.  When this subject came up a prior meeting, Commissioner Tyson pointed that out and said he would rather the government rent from the private sector than to spend taxpayer money expanding government holdings.  After the meeting I asked Commissioner Tyson why he had changed his mind and he said he honestly did not know.

Today’s meeting was a continuation of freely spending taxpayer money on boondoggles without open discussion.  An Example:

REQUEST FROM VETERANS EMPLOYMENT BASE CAMP AND ORGANIC GARDENING: The Executive Director of  a “non-profit” organization named “Veteran’s Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden” requested the Commissioner’s support for it’s grant application for the “City Farmers Market Center Project.”    With glowing talk about the great things they are going to do for veterans and the Duffyfield section of New Bern, no mention was made of the amount of taxpayer money to be spent and in what manner.  Nor that the ultimate goal is to replace the present farmer’s market that is privately run with a government/non-profit conglomerate that really knows how to spend taxpayer money on boondoggles.   NO MENTION OF THE GRANT AMOUNT OF $400,000 that is to be applied for, nor the City of New Bern’s grant of $1.5 MILLION to develop the site.  Pretty soon these grants are going to amount to real money!  Wonder what the director’s job of this Non-profit pays?

Anyway, this request was approved.  I believe I heard one mumbled Nay.

Respectfully submitted,

 Hal

Hal James

CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

Watchdog Report   Craven County Board of Commissioners meeting, October 2, 2017  

This meeting clearly demonstrated how our federal government is headed for the economic ruin of America.  Two requests for approval to apply for federal transportation grants were approved, and yet another placed on hold for further consideration.  That last grant proposal was to hire a Mobility Manager (duties not clearly defined), and the grant provides funding for the new hire’s salary and benefits for only the first year. (We all know that is how government staff grows.  Slick, isn’t it?)  The director asking for the new position assured the board that federal funding would provide 80% of the funding and the state MIGHT pick up another 10%.
The next group of grants (hate that word) described $32.5 million dollars of federal funding available for disaster recovery program activities to benefit “income eligible” residents that received uninsured storm damage from Hurricane Matthew.  Craven is eligible for a maximum of $1 million.  (Commissioner Jones was hopeful that people who had already taken care of the problems themselves could be reimbursed).  I don’t question the need, BUT HOW MUCH OF LIFE’S PROBLEMS ARE TO BE SOLVED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?
The Director of Economic Development presented a good sales pitch presentation designed to attract industry to Craven County during which Commissioner Dacey began angling for County construction of a spec industrial building to attract an occupant.  I’m sure that would be offered at a bargain price to attract jobs.  Perhaps state and federal grant money could be obtained, too.  After all, it’s only taxpayer money.
My point is not that these federal and state grants do no good, but THINK.  All this goes on in our county for two meetings a month for month after month and year after year.  The same things go on in most of the local governments across the U.S.!  THAT IS WHY AMERICA IS $20 TRILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT!  DEBT PASSED ON TO OUR CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN, AND PROBABLY OUR GREAT-GRANDCHILDREN!  Would you willingly put your children in debt???
Back to the meeting…
The solid waste contact was discussed.  That is the one in which compensation to the contractor providing the service exceeds the charges by the county to the user.  (Not that that’s all bad; at least ALL citizens need this service, not just a favored few.  Plus, the more it costs citizens to get rid of waste, the more people will litter, and that’s a significant problem in Craven County already.) The present contractor asked the Board for approval to sell its contract to another provider.  That provider was not the low bidder when the contract was let, but now is willing to provide the service at the price of the low bidder because they will be operating from a closer location due to other aspects of the deal between the contractors.  It was approved.
The groups asking for a referendum from the Board asking North Carolina to approve the Equal Right Amendment and those seeking more protection for animals subject to cruelty are making good headway with the Commissions due to large turnouts of their groups at recent meetings of the Board.  They continued to be present and vocal at this meeting.
Respectfully submitted,
Hal James
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

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?

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!

Scott Dacey’s curious contradictions by Raynor James reprinted from The County Compass

In early July, Scott Dacey, a member of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, declared himself a candidate for the U.S. Third Congressional District Congressional seat currently held by Walter Jones.

Mr. Dacey refers to himself as a “conservative,” and his campaign website says that he “…is constantly working toward reducing the size of government,” but his voting record as a county commissioner shows a contradictory picture.  Mr. Dacey has voted to increase the size of county government many times.

Examples include Mr. Dacey’s voting to add a new Federally Qualified Health Center in Havelock (which requires new expenses for operating a building, paying for new employees to hustle up new “clients,” etc.), Mr. Dacey’s voting for a new program to enable Trillium (Mr. Dacey is on their board) to train 20 clinicians in “grief counseling,” Mr. Dacey’s voting to commit $500,000 of Craven County taxpayer money (plus $47,500 in 2018 and $95,000 each year thereafter) to create a First Street Workforce Development Center, and Mr. Dacey’s voting to have Craven County participate in a Metropolitan Planning Organization (by pretending communities as diverse as New Bern and Havelock were a single community) thereby raising the county’s public transportation costs.

Therein lie the contradictions.  Mr. Dacey says he “is constantly working toward reducing the size of government,” but virtually every vote he makes increases the scope of local government, the size of its staff, and the cost of both.

Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting
19 June 2017
FY 2017-2018 Budget Adopted
The Craven County Board of Commissioners adopted the FY 2017-2018 budget. The budget does not increase taxes or fees.
However, there is much to object to about this budget process and the budget itself.
First, the process, We at CCTA object strongly to the members of the Board of Commissioners or their wives being appointed to the boards of organizations that apply for funding and other approvals of their activities.  There are some 22 instances of this happening.  We are convinced that this is a conflict of interest and will seek ways to abolish that situation.
We object to increased spending even though the taxes aren’t increased.
Then there is the membership dues for Commissioners to belong to organizations whose principal purpose for existence is to train county commissioners in the art of separating taxpayer’s from their money. $115,977 dollars goes to pay commissioners dues to belong to such organizations.
I want to refer you to a paper entitled “God’s Role; Not Government’s by Don Keel.
Christian Charity is voluntary, rewarding the giver as well as the receiver.  Government programs require forced confiscation of earnings through threat of fines or imprisonment.  The receiver of Christian charity is humbled by the kindness of neighbors and he often receives his blessing in a way that glorifies Christ.  This, in turn, will increase the likelihood that he will strive to for self-reliance and inspire him to one day “Pay it forward.” Government programs redistribute mass amounts of earnings with very little scrutiny or accountability.
Because of the “blanket approach,” government programs reward bad behavior and punish good behavior.  They punish ambition and encourage sloth and dependency.  This, in turn,  creates a cycle of dependency that destroys one’s dignity, self-esteem, self-worth, and ambition and a cycle that is almost impossible to break.  Some people have found a way to grow their families by taking from another person’s family and have found a way to live in ever increasing comfort by taking comforts from another who has actually worked for that privilege.
I would submit that no Christian would advocate forciblytaking from one and giving to another, yet that is what our government does.  They would rightly regard such a taking as theft- prohibited by one of the Ten Commandments, the cornerstone of God’s Law on Earth.  Delegating that authority to government does not sanctify taking private property.  The 8th Commandment does not say, Thou should not steal …except by majority vote.”  Clearly, some clergy have confused what is rendered to Caesar and what should be rendered to God.
That from Don Keel.
We at CCTA surely pray that there will come a day in which government at all levels obey the 10 Commandments and the US Constitution.
Respectfully Submitted,

 

Hal James,
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman

 

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