Category Archives: Commissioners

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

 

Conflict of Interest? Does the Taxpayer stand a chance? by CCTA’s Watchdog Chairman, Hal James

There has been much talk lately about who should recuse themselves from voting on issues in which they have a personal interest.  At a recent meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, two members of the Board of Commissioners cast votes that benefit organizations that had just made appeals to the Board.  In each case, the appeal was presented by one of the commissioner’s wives!

It also often happens that Board members cast votes that benefit organizations on whose boards they themselves serve.  That’s because CarolinaEast Hospital, Down East Regional Planning Organization, Swiss Bear, Craven Aging Board, all the public libraries, Craven County Health Board, Eastern Carolina Workforce Development, Fire man’s Relief Fund, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Highway 17 Committee, Highway 70 Corridor Committee, Smart/Start/Partnership for Children, the Zoning Board, Coastal Regional Solid Waste  Management Authority, Social Service Board, Tourism Development Authority, Coastal Carolina Airport Authority, Craven Community College Board of Trustees, East Carolina Behavioral Health Board, Carolina East Council of Governments, AND the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council ALL HAVE CRAVEN COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OR THEIR WIVES ON THEIR BOARDS.  I have seen nearly all these agencies make appeals to the Craven County Board of Commissioners for support and usually financial support.  THE TAXPAYER DOESN’T STAND A CHANCE!

Usually after such an appeal to the Board, the Commissioner who serves on that organization’s board (or on which his wife serves) then makes a speech extolling the great works the organization does, and he often makes a motion to approve the request.  DON’T YOU SEE HOW IT WORKS?

Now consider that most of the counties across the state have Commissioners who attend the NC Association of County Commissioners meetings and discuss how to increase county revenues, or in other words, HOW TO STACK THE DECK AGAINST TAXPAYERS!

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

This report appeared as an article in The County Compass newspaper- Week of May 25-31, 2017

Recycling’s Dirty Little Secret”

The following CCTA report appeared in the County Compass newspaper in the May 18-24 edition.

Reprise of “Recycling’s Dirty Little Secret”

by CCTA’s Watchdog Committee Chairman, Hal James

Several counties in eastern North Carolina are struggling with the high cost of re-cycling.  The County Compass recently reported that “a large jump in monies earmarked for recycling survived” in the Pamlico County budget process.  At last Monday’s budget work session of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, the Commissioners voted for a very large increase in the cost for citizens to discard a bag of garbage/trash.  The cost went from $2.25 to $3.00 per bag.  A one-third increase in price!  The one dissenter, Commissioner Jason Jones, voiced concern that more trash would appear on roadsides and in the woods.  You are so right, Commissioner Jones!

Now for the dirty little secret. It was reported that in Pamlico County, many people will simply throw their garbage into the recycle bin which they can do for free.

Recently, I was talking to a friend who shall go nameless, and he told me that he was doing just that!  Here’s the problem, the recycling facility in Greenville will reject contaminated  loads.

It seems to me that all citizens benefit from money spent by taxpayers for garbage and trash removal.  This is much the same as police protection which also benefits us all.  Contrast that with so many government “programs” that benefit specific, small groups of people with monies forcefully taken from us all.  If the burden of paying for this trash and garbage removal were shared by citizens though the taxes paid already, there would be no need for a charge per bag, and our counties would be tidy and clean, not littered.  Nor would there be a need to increase taxes in Craven County.  I have seen the County Manager’s recommended budget, and believe you me, there is no need for a tax increase to meet that expense!

What about your county?  Have you checked to see if it has a dirty little secret, too?

 

Watchdog Report Craven County Board of Commissioners 18 April 2017

Watchdog Report

Craven County Board of Commissioners

 18 April 2017

The Craven Board of Commissioners meeting Monday (17 April) saw a continuation of expansion of government.

First, the “Consent Agenda” contained a request from Craven Area Rural Transit System (CARTS) to hold a public hearing on plans to extend services to include “Paratransit” service as a complement to the fixed route service.  A Paratransit eligible person is any individual with a disability who is unable to board, ride, or disembark from any vehicle in the system which is readily accessible to and useable by individuals with disabilities.  There is more detail provided in the request.   ANYWAY, YOU GET THE PICTURE.

Call me hard hearted, but I can see this addition to the CARTS service as needing more employees (or contract service providers) to accomplish this end.  I believe this type of service should be provided by family, friends, neighbors, church, benevolent organizations, etc.  Is there no service that the government doesn’t want to provide for people?  Their willingness to dip into your pocket and mine in order to give things to small groups of other people continues to amaze and frustrate me.

The Project Development Engineers from the NC DOT gave a presentation on improvements to US 17 which will 4 lane that highway all the way from Bridgeton to Vanceboro in the next few years.  Commissioner Mark was like a proud papa.  This is not a dig.  Roads are needed by and can be enjoyed by all citizens.  They are a proper function of government, and helping to get an appropriate benefit for the folks he represents is worthy of pride.

A revised Solar Energy Facility Ordinance was presented by the planning department.   The entire proposal can be found on the county website as an attachment to the agenda for this meeting.  This proposed ordinance has been discussed at several meetings now, so it did not come as a surprise to me that the burden of responsibilities for cleanup after a facility closes has been shifted to the facility owner and operator.  That is because Commissioner Jason Jones has been looking out for the farmers and doesn’t want the land owner held responsible.  The bond requirement has been dropped from $100,000 to $50,000 to make the land lease easier to make.   Again, this seems to be a reasonable, fair-minded approach.  If a problem is caused, the person or entity which causes it is required to fix it.

I had hoped the ordinance would make it practically prohibitive for these facilities to locate in Craven County because I believe they have no economic value without subsidies, and the government has no business subsidizing business and thus picking winners and losers.  However, the interest of farmers who want to have this relatively new source of revenue continue to be an option for them was the reason that didn’t stand a prayer.  The “softer” approach taken will hopefully be adequate to protect taxpayers from the expense of clean up, so while not perfect, we’ve seen them do worse.

Commissioner Jones had another opportunity to demonstrate his farm roots when the discussion of a proposed ban on smoking outside the Craven County Court House was discussed.  Commissioner Jones pointed out that as a farmer himself he did not like to be perceived as against smoking tobacco.  He does not favor an all out ban on smoking outside the courthouse, but he thinks some areas should be left available for smoking.  Staff was instructed to continue to study the proposal.  Actually, I do not believe second hand smoke is harmful to others in an outdoor environment, so I see absolutely no reason to curtail a smoker’s right to do something (smoke) that doesn’t hurt anyone else at all.  Bans of the kind being suggested are unnecessary intrusions into personal liberty.

It was announced that the Federally Qualified Health Center in Havelock would be open for business in a few weeks.  This is another way the government earns “profits” by charging Medicaid, Medicare, etc. more than it costs to provide the service.  The same thing applies to the Dental Service Van.  The finance director asked for authorization to transfer $97,000 of “profit” from that program to apply toward needed renovation of the van.  The total cost of the renovation will be about $500,000.

Wow!  The counties of our nation have discovered a great new source of revenue!  It’s “profits” from federal and state welfare give-away programs paid for with taxpayers’ money!

The last event of the day that Raynor and I stayed for was the meeting with the four members of the NC General Assembly that represent our area, Senator Norman Sanderson and Representatives, John Bell, Michael Speciale and George Graham.

The stated purpose of the meeting was to let the members of the NC General Assembly know of their desires concerning legislative action.  Several members reminded the commissioners that “crossover” for new bill proposals was only 8 days off, and Representative Bell said the date of the crossover deadline was almost cast in stone this time.  That means that, if a bill has not been passed by one house by that time, it is off the table for this session.  (There are ways around this, if legislators get serious about a bill.  For instance, bills requiring money/ budget related things are exempt, so a financial angle can often be added to a bill in such a way as to overcome the crossover deadline requirement.)  A significant amount of time was spent explaining procedural matters and the fact that the upcoming budget is paramount for them right now.

The commissioners expressed concern about the cost of state mandated class size reductions, and they’d like to see HB-13 passed.   They want the state to fund any changes it mandates.  They also asked that about 40% of the proceeds of the “Education Lottery” be re-directed to education as was originally proposed in order to sell the idea of a lottery in NC in the first place.  Representative Bell said this would be tough as the money is now going to other needed services.  Where could they make up that difference?  Cutting some inappropriate services perhaps?

Representative Speciale said the there are several good “gun bills” and “regulatory reform” bills proposed.  He also said that there’s a “drone bill” proposed that would allow Emergency Management Services to use drones (which would have allowed surveying for damage much quicker during the aftermath of Hurricane Mathew, and as it turned out was an item on the commissioners’ wish list).  He also mentioned work going on that would allow localities to set their own school calendars.

Commissioner Jones said that less and less money was coming from the state for health services for seniors.  He stated that many of the seniors cannot help themselves and government has to do it.  He said he knew many people who think government shouldn’t do it, BUT…

Commissioner Jones also said he did not want to ask citizens of Craven County for another tax increase.  I expect we all concur on that one!

Commissioner Liner said he was disappointed that the “Wind Farm” bill had gone to committee to die.

County Manager, Jack Viet asked for adequate funding for NC Military Affairs and relief from the electronic recycling requirement.

Commissioner Sampson wants the state to do something about a drainage problem in New Bern.

In commenting on HB-13, Senator Norman Sanderson said that the state needs to figure out some way that the need for new facilities is not passed down to the counties, and earlier, in his opening comments, he had said that it will be helpful to cities and counties if the General Assembly gets the NC budget done by mid-June.  That way, cities and counties will have earlier knowledge of what they are dealing with.

All in all, (with the exception of some excursions into reasonableness) you can see from this meeting why our nation is in so much financial turmoil!

Respectfully submitted,

Hal James

CCTA Watchdog

Citizen Group Files Suit Against Beaufort County Board of Commissioners

Contact: Ray Leary

Citizens for Better Government of Beaufort County NC

Phone 252-402-5662

willeary@suddenlink.net

PO Box 954

Chocowinity, NC 27817

Citizens for Better Government of Beaufort County NC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Citizen Group Files Suit Against Beaufort County Board of Commissioners

Suit alleges multiple violations of state Open Meetings Law

Washington, NC, April 13, 2017: The Citizens for Better Government of Beaufort County

NC (“CBG”), with the assistance of the Civitas Institute, has filed suit against the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners. The suit alleges that the Board has, on numerous occasions, violated North Carolina’s Open Meetings Law. Specifically, the suit alleges that the Board has illegally entered into closed session on several occasions.

 

The Board closed its meetings to the public four times in 2015. A review of the redacted minutes of the closed sessions revealed discussions that should have taken place in view of the public.

 

CBG is represented by Jonathan Strange of The Strange Law Firm and Elliot Engstrom of Engstrom Law, PLLC.

 

“Decisions made in backrooms out of the public’s view are bad business,” said CBG Chairman Ray Leary. “The CBG originated as the “Stop the Jail Committee”.  As we worked on that issue we came to realize that the problem was not so much the bad decision on the jail as it is the culture that has developed with the County Commission to make their decisions outside of their public meetings. This interferes with the Board’s accountability to the public.

 

We have tried on repeated occasions to get the Board to comply, without success. We believe, and North Carolina law requires, that the public’s business should be conducted in public. We are determined to make sure that the Board will conduct the public’s business in open meetings as required by North Carolina law.”

 

“We are honored to partner with the CBG in this important effort. Government that operates with transparency and citizen oversight is more likely to be thrifty and efficient in the use of public resources,” said Francis X. De Luca USMCR(Ret), President, Civitas Institute.

 

The suit seeks an injunction requiring the Board to comply with the Open Meetings Law.

 

“CBG is not seeking monetary damages from Beaufort County,” Leary said. “We are simply asking the commissioners to follow the statutes governing closed meetings and public records.”

 

 

webeditor@beaufortobserver.net; elisse.ramey@witn.com; jeff@compassnews360.com; news@wcti12.com; vail.rumley@thewashingtondailynews.com; desk@witn.com; newsdesk@wnct.com; stan@beaufortcountynow.com; henry@ibxmedia.com; rick@hfellc.com; Francis.DeLuca@nccivitas.org; beverly.boswell@ncleg.net; bill.cook@ncleg.net; michael.speciale@ncleg.net;

We don’t usually agree with the New Bern Sun Journal, but we do with this. Have a look!

Strange Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting

Watchdog Report
Craven County Board of Commissioners
3 April 2017
 The Craven Board of Commissioners meeting last Monday evening seemed strange to me. First, judging by the agenda, I expected a short meeting. However, upon Raynor’s and my arrival, we found the meeting room at full capacity. Seeing our friend, Tyker Gonzales, among the crowd, we knew that the cause was not anything on the agenda, but the folks there were concerned about the mistreatment of dogs by some of their owners in Craven County.
Under the Petition of Citizens portion of the agenda, Tyker gave the Board a written petition signed by around 1,400 Craven residents. Please, don’t hold me to the exact number; I didn’t write it down. Then, Tyker and two other citizens asked the Board to do something (pass an ordinance limiting tethering, requiring adequate water, food, and shelter to be provided, etc.) to stop mistreatment of dogs and, in the process, cut down on the number of times dogs attack people in the county. Some discussion followed, but no real action was taken.
Another strange thing happened next. Former Commissioner, Bill Harper, started to petition the Board against getting involved with the Global TransPark again. Commissioner Dacey said they had no intention of doing so, and Bill apologized and left the podium.  Actually, Bill was right-on in spirit! At their last meeting, the Commissioners did approve of joining North Carolina’s Southeastern Partnership which is another regional economic development scheme similar to the one that the county recently separated from. And the Global TransPark is in that region!   In fact, the Global TransPark will be touted as a big draw for the region. These regional boards always end up hiring consultants, lobbyists, etc., and costing taxpayers millions. Bill may not have gotten the wording literally correct, but he was spot on about what the county is up to; it’s a case of déjà vu.
After that, another strange thing happened. Chairman Mark made a statement that he could call a 5 minute recess for people who wished to leave to do so, BUT if they did not leave now, they would have to remain for the entire meeting. I WONDER HOW HE CAME UP WITH THAT ONE? Anyway, most of the citizens left. I have been to a lot of these Board meetings and have never seen that rule mentioned before. I do remember that Chairman Mark complained once about my leaving the meeting before the Commissioners’ reports (always at the end of their meetings) because that did not give them a chance to respond to my complaints. Funny, he often admonishers citizens not to direct their remarks at any one member of the Board. I DON’T KNOW WHERE HE GETS THAT ONE EITHER. I do recall that the county attorney once advised Mr. Mark that Mr. Humphrey could indeed make remarks directed at Commission Liner’s behavior.
Anyway, enough of that.
Another strange thing happened. Two different staff members asked for budget changes, explained what the money was to be used for, but neglected to say the dollar amount of the change. None of the budget changes was something that CCTA would object to, but it was as if the staff knew that the Board knew the dollar amounts (and so did I because I print the attachments to the agenda for me to refer to during the meetings), but It’s almost like the amounts of taxpayer dollars involved is not the business of the taxpaying citizens in attendance or who will watch on TV later. Maybe the numbers are frightening. The smallest was $45,000, and then it went to an amount of $4,493,874 from the “Education Lottery.” The amount of $1,100,000 was to be used to pay down the school debt. Commissioner Jones did ask about the full amount of the debt and was told, “Around $35 million.” Still, there was no mention of how much this payment was. Odd.
Chairman Mark asked if anyone in the “audience” ( I wish he would refer to “citizens in attendance” ) would like to write to our NC representatives and request that the General Assembly restore the participation of education funding in the lottery profits back to 47% from the current 17%. I THINK THAT MIGHT BE ARRANGED.
He also wanted people to try to get HB-13 passed. It has passed the House and is in a committee in the Senate. If passed, it will mitigate the cost of providing additional K-3 classrooms and teachers to reduce classroom populations as is currently mandated, but not funded, by the state according to the Commissioners. (I believe they were relying what they had been told by members of the Board of Education on this point.) Unless that is done, it was strongly implied that Craven County taxes will have to be raised. Again.
However, when speaking with a member of the General Assembly, I was told that some of that money had been provided by the state, but the local school district chose to use it another way. This can get confusing. Who’s on first? Ah well, the Commissioners and local legislators are planning to meet soon, so that will give them an opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding about the situation.
To get back to the strangeness of the Board of Commissioners’ meeting, I believe that can be explained by my belief that the meetings are “dog and pony shows” to look like the county’s business is conducted in the open, but that it is really only an illusion.
Whatever the cause, this was altogether a very strange, down-the-rabbit-hole sort of meeting!
Respectfully submitted,

 

Hal James,
CCTA Watchdog Committee Chairman
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