Government Lobbying Government

Wake County will pay a former county manager and state legislature $100,000 to lobby in the General Assembly. The lobbyist, former state Sen. Richard Stevens, spent 16 years working for the county and ten years in the legislature. They’re also going to pay $110,000 for an “intergovernmental relations manager.”

In other words, our elected commissioners will use taxpayer money to pay a former elected official to convince current elected officials to give more taxpayer money – including money from people in other counties – to Wake. Does that seem right? Isn’t that what we elect commissioners to do?

This redistribution of your tax money within the governing class is a prime example of the revolving door politics pervading all levels of government.

One commissioner’s comments illustrate this illogical thinking. Jessica Holmes said that education was a priority, and wants the county to request a statewide raise in teacher pay. Why didn’t any commissioner suggest using the $200,00 for education? Or one of the other programs local official are always complaining don’t get sufficient funding from the state. They could even have done something really radical and returned the money to the hard-working people who earned it.

Note: This was published as a letter to the editor in the News & Observer. The newspaper agrees with me. Read their editorial which ran alongside the letter.

Fewer Ethics Rules and More Ethical People

Gov. Pat McCroy’s claim that he made an honest mistake by not listing his Duke Energy stock ownership on the ethics form the state requires him to file does not pass the smell test. The governor claimed that he, and his attorney, “misread” the 11 page disclosure form.

In that case, I suggest the governor get a new lawyer who can understand plain English. In Section I, page 2, the form (check it here on the News & observer website) clearly asks for information “as of December 31.”

It’s ironic that the same politicians who create these long-winded and incomprehensible forms themselves always claim they don’t understand them when caught making a mistake. If our elected leaders don’t understand the rules they enacting, perhaps they should rethink the rules?

The governor may have made a honest mistake. And this may only be a minor issue. After all, McCrory’s connection to Duke Energy is no great secret.

What North Carolina aren’t more rules and bureaucratic barriers to deter and prevent ordinary citizens form running for office. What we need are fewer rules, and less bureaucracy so that the average man or woman can run for office without having to open up every aspect of his or her private life to government scrutiny.

We don’t need more ethics rules, but more ethical people.

LPNC joins End Gerrymandering Now Coalition

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina has joined a coalition to end gerrymandering in the state.

North Carolinians to End Gerrymandering Now is led by former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, a Republican, and former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, a Democrat. The coalition, formed last month, will work to bring a nonpartisan redistricting process to North Carolina.

“The Libertarian Party is pleased to join this multi-partisan effort,” said LPNC Chair J.J. Summerell. “Libertarians believe voters should choose their legislators, not the other way around.”

During its annual state convention in April the party adopted a platform plank calling for an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process.

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Public-private partnership is not privatization

Leaving aside the observation that the term “public-private” partnership is an oxymoron, the fact is that such an arrangement is merely a cover for corporate welfare.

The proposal by Gov. Pat McCrory’s Department of Commerce to “privatize” several functions is a case in point. Republicans either are afraid to stand up for the values they supposedly believe in, or do not understand what “private” means. (“Speed, sweep of NC Commerce restructuring raise concerns,” News & Observer, Dec. 6)

Using “authority” supposedly granted in a brief, vaguely worded section in the budget bill – and guidelines in a bill that did not even pass the General Assembly – Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker created a public-private partnership called the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

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Sustain veto of forced drug testing

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina supports the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina’s call to uphold Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of H.B. 392. The General Assembly will convene Tuesday to consider overriding the veto of this bill that would require people seeking aid for their families through the state’s Work First program to submit to costly and invasive drug tests.

The governor called this “a recipe for government overreach and unnecessary government intrusion … that is not a smart way to combat drug abuse.” We, and the ACLU, agree.

“Not only does this bill violate the Fourth Amendment by mandating an ‘unreasonable search and seizure,’ it also forces people in need to pay up front for this invasion of the privacy and violation of the rights,” said Brian Irving, LPNC communications director.

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NC Libertarians appoint executive director

Jason Melehani, 25, of Durham, was appointed executive director of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina. He will be the principal administrative assistant to the state chair, and oversee all the party’s programs and fundraising activities.

Melehani“I’m proud to accept this responsibility, because I believe North Carolinians are ready for a new option, one that respects individual liberty and supports personal responsibility on all issue, all the time, and puts people before politics,” said Melehani.

“Young people across North Carolina are beginning to realize that they are paying a disproportionately high price for irresponsible governing of decades past,” he said. “This type of fiscal irresponsibility, coupled with the drastic erosion of our civil liberties since 2001, is driving people from all walks of life to the Libertarian Party by the thousands in North Carolina.”

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Republicans ignore state constitution and the law

It took me two tries, but I finally got Rep. Nelson Dollar, through his legislative assistance, to admit that the General Assembly has not complied with the law requiring them to pass a budget by June 30. Or at least I think I have.

In my first e-mail to Mr. Dollar I asked: The General Assembly has not yet passed the state budget. Am I correct in believing that state law requires you to pass a budget by June 30? Or is that a self-imposed deadline? Has the GA failed to pass a budget by June 30 before?

The answer from Candace Slate, Legislative Assistant was:

“Thank you for your e-mail. A Continuing Resolution was passed HB336 allowing for the budget passage to July 31, 2013. This type of Resolution has occurred many times over the years. This Resolution allows for the State Budget Director to continue the expenditures for the operation of government until the new budget is passed.

To which I replied: Thanks for your prompt reply. I know that is what the General Assembly has done. But my question is, is there a state statute or GA policy that requires the budget to be passed by June 30, since the state’s fiscal year starts July 1. Funding state government operation with a continuing resolution, no matter how temporary, does not seem to me to be the most efficient way to run things.

And the final answer was: “This is required under the State Budget Act and was sent to me by our Fiscal Research staff: § 143C-5-4. Enactment deadline. The General Assembly shall enact the Current Operations Appropriations Act by June 15 of odd-numbered years and by June 30 of even-numbered years in which a Current Operations Appropriations Act is enacted. (2006-203, s. 3.)

So, I think he’s admitting that the GA did not comply with the statute. Unless they consider a continuing resolution a “current operations appropriations act.”

However, I must give Representative Dollar credit for promptly responding to my constituent queries. As this took less than three hours, and he’s responded to previous queries just as promptly.

U.S. appeals court says ‘caveman diet’ blogger can speak

The Carolina Journal’s Sara Burrows reports that the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has reversed a trial judge’s decision to dismiss Charlotte-area “paleo diet” blogger Steve Cooksey’s free speech case.

The N.C. Board of Dietetics/Nutrition tried to censor Cooksey’s blog Diabetics Warrior because they alleged he was giving dietary advise without a license when he wrote about the diet of cavemen.

Read more at Carolina Journal Online.

Watch a video on the case by the Institute for Justice.

An outsiders view of Moral Mondays

The rounds of charges and counter-charges swirling around the Moral Monday demonstrations illustrate just how low political discourse in our state has fallen. It’s like children exchanging insults on a playground: “I know you are, but what am I.”

This farce is the inevitable result of a political system designed as a duopoly, with Democrats and Republicans taking turns being in charge, yet offering few differences between themselves.

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Libertarians ‘head to the hills’ for state convention

The N.C. Libertarian Party is asking its members to “head for the hills,” and attend the 2013 state convention in Flat Rock June 7 to 9.

“Today, we find ourselves at an important stage in our development,” said J.J. Summerell, state chair. “The stage where we’ve developed enough critical mass that we can discuss with others the lack of logic in the ‘wasting your vote’ argument.”

The convention will be held at the Mountain Lodge and Conference Center. Noted Libertarian orator and author Michael Cloud will be the keynote speaker. Summerell said Tarheel Libertarians will be among the first to hear Cloud’s latest riveting presentation, “The Impossibility Trap.”

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