Posts Tagged ‘north carolina’

NC Senate proposes defunding Rural Economic Development Center

By John Murawski — jmurawski@newsobserver.com

In their quest to dismantle commissions and organizations created by Democrats in past years, N.C. Senate Republicans are taking aim at the granddaddy of them all: the state’s Rural Economic Development Center.

The proposed Senate budget defunds the Rural Center, which received about $16.6 million in the state budget last year. It also creates a new division with the Department of Commerce to oversee rural economic development.

The fight is over money, who gets to spend it, and who gets credit for spending it.

The Rural Center commands considerable power, doling out grants in 85 counties it classifies as rural, almost a third of which are no longer considered rural by the federal census authorities.

It has paid out more than $600 million in aid for sewer, water, building rehab and other infrastructure projects, and estimates it has created 33,000 jobs since 1987. The center says that its efforts have led to an additional $2 billion in investment in rural counties.

But Senate Republicans complain the legislature hands the Rural Center money year after year, but has no say in how it is spent. Critics say the Rural Center, whose board of directors has swelled to 50 members, has become bloated and inefficient.

“My concern is how we get these dollars in rural North Carolina in a quicker way,” said Sen. Harry Brown, of Jones and Onslow counties, and a co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “There is a need to change how it’s set up, to streamline the process.”

But the Rural Center, which makes sure to invite lawmakers to make rural grant announcements in their districts, has become too powerful to simply erase out of existence. It has made itself essential to many economic development officials and elected officials.

In his proposed budget, for example, Gov. Pat McCrory recommended reducing the Rural Center’s funding by $6.5 million rather than pulling the plug altogether. And the Center is counting on its considerable support in the House, which also must approve the budget, to bury the Senate’s defunding effort.

Center officials say the Senate’s plan would cripple rural economic development.

“Those are the only venture capital funds that rural North Carolina has,” said Rural Center board member Larry Wooten, president of the N.C. Farm Bureau. “Why would you want to defund it and do away with it? I’m afraid the special needs of rural North Carolina will get lost in that reorganization.”

Proponents say their plan would increase rural aid funding.

The Rural Center was the result of a study by the N.C. Commission on Jobs and Economic Growth, inaugurated 26 years ago with the installation of UNC President Emeritus William Friday as board chairman and Democratic party stalwart Billy Ray Hall as director.

Before he joined the Rural Center, Hall was a deputy secretary, assistant director and chief economist for several state agencies under Democratic administrations. Hall remains at the helm of the Rural Center, and is paid $214,008 a year running in the 43-employee organization that spends more than $2.8 million a year on employee salaries.

Three of Hall’s deputies make more than $100,000 a year, and 23 more make more than $50,000 a year, according to information the center provided to the legislature last month. Two-thirds of the payroll comes from the state budget.

Hall issued a statement Monday saying he was shocked by the Senate defunding proposal and looks to House Speaker Thom Tillis to reinstate the center’s funding. Tillis’ spokesman, Jordan Shaw, could not be reached for comment.

 

 

Waterfront Sportsman March 2012

Check out the latest edition of Waterfront Sportsman; information about Oriental Boat Show included!

 

 

Waterfront Sportsman March 2012

The Oblongs

I’ve always liked cartoons. As a kid I watched Jem, Ninja Turtles, Strawberry Shortcake, Lady Lovely Locks, The Huggabunch, Tiny Toon Adventures, Doug, Rugrats, and many more. As I got older I still watched the same toons and added on new ones like Family Guy, Robot Chicken, King of the Hill, Daria, American Dad, and The Oblongs. Most of the shows are now in syndication so I catch them on Adult Swim late at night. Well, The Oblongs happened to be on one night at 1am. The opening credits played and I thought to myself, “My god if North Carolina doesn’t get it together we’re gonna be like the Oblongs.”

As strange as the Oblongs are they are victims of toxic waste. Though the show is meant for entertainment for countless people across the United States, it’s not funny. The affects of sludge spreading are taking the toll on our citizens. It’s no secret that cancer rates are on the rise in North Carolina and as our doctors and researchers stand dumbfounded the environmentalists are waving the proof frantically, but is anyone really listening and reading? If people are eating right, exercising, and avoiding other unhealthy habits, but still getting sick shouldn’t a red light and siren go off screaming, “SOMETHING AIN’T RIGHT!”

It’s time we start taking a SERIOUS non-bias look at our environmental status. Put your political affiliations, favors, greed, pride, and ego to the side and wake the fuck up! (yeah I said it) We cannot allow companies such as LabCorp, Synagro, and others to continue the improper disposal of medical waste. Stop blaming the pigs…there is no odor in the air so we know it’s not the piggies. Stop tricking farmers into sludge spreading. Guess what geniuses? YOU EAT THE PRODUCE FROM THEIR FIELDS! YOU DRINK THE SAME DAMN WATER AS EVERYONE ELSE!

And it’s going to take everyday citizens to stand up and say, “NO!” I’m so happy to see people in Virginia taking a stand against the uranium mine. It’s time for us North Carolinians to band together and write blogs, comment on news articles, write to our senators, write to our governor, hell write to the president. Who cares if they don’t respond to you personally; the point is they read it!

I don’t know about any of you, but I feel like my 3-5 days per week in the gym mixed with my healthy eating habits are a waste of my time and effort if my air, water, and soil are contaminated. Sure, my chances of survival are higher than a person who doesn’t do this, but I shouldn’t have to second guess drinking water from the tap (actually I don’t do it at all). I shouldn’t have to cringe bathing in water that hasn’t been run through a Brita filter. We should be able to enjoy North Carolina’s lakes and beaches. We should relax on our back porches sipping Duplin wine and other NC brands with absolutely no worries. We should drink Red Oak and Natty Green’s other NC beers with the same worry free mind.

There is NO pride in being dubbed the Cancer State. There is NO pride in having all these cancer facilities because we have so many cancer patients. There is NO pride in having gov’t officials that allow this crap to continue. Our state toast is as follows:

Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “Down Home,” the Old North State!

Here’s to the land of the cotton bloom white,
Where the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,
Where the soft southern moss and jessamine mate,
‘Neath the murmuring pines of the Old North State!

Here’s to the land where the galax grows,
Where the rhododendron’s rosette glows,
Where soars Mount Mitchell’s summit great,
In the “Land of the Sky,” in the Old North State!

Here’s to the land where maidens are fair,
Where friends are true and cold hearts rare,
The near land, the dear land, whatever fate,
The blest land, the best land, the Old North State!

I look at the Old North State and shake my head in a myriad of emotions. We have a beautiful state with a rich history and we are destroying it. Our gov’t officials ought to be ashamed and embarrassed.

Again it’s time to wake the fuck up or we’re going to be like The Oblongs.

NC Democrats must again overcome corruption rap

By GARY D. ROBERTSON – Associated Press Writer
Tags: NC Capitol Letter

RALEIGH, N.C. — For the past decade, North Carolina Democrats in charge of state government have been successful persuading the public they’re unlike fellow party colleagues who’ve ended up behind bars.

Democrats have remained in power in the Legislature and at the Executive Mansion despite the news of illegal activities that sent then-House Speaker Jim Black, Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps and Rep. Thomas Wright to prison.

They’ve done so while passing tougher ethics and campaign finance laws, and even expelling Wright from the Legislature. At the same time, they’ve had political advantages to get their message out, such as outraising Republicans on campaign dollars, pushing education initiatives and presiding during a span largely marked by growth and prosperity in the state.

Last week’s indictment of corruption charges against Ruffin Poole, a close aide to former Gov. Mike Easley, however, comes when Democrats lack the advantages of recent years.

The state is struggling with 11 percent unemployment during a deep recession that caused Democratic lawmakers to approve higher taxes. Their campaign fundraising advantage is threatened by departures and retirements of prolific state Senate fundraisers.

Add last week’s GOP victory in the U.S. Senate race in liberal Massachusetts and angst over the health care overhaul in Washington and it may prove more difficult for Democrats leading into the 2010 elections to counter any perceptions that they’re associated with another federal investigation that could unearth more indictments.

“This could be a scenario where you have the megastorm, where you have just a terrible economy, you have unrest and anger with the electorate and then you have (corruption) on top of it,” said Brad Crone, a longtime Democratic consultant in Raleigh. “It’s been a constant drumbeat … there will be a price to pay for it.”

Poole is accused of 51 counts, including bribery, racketeering, money laundering and extortion during his years as Easley’s personal assistant and special counsel.

The indictment describes Poole, 37, as the “go-to guy” to get things done in Easley’s office, with people calling him “the little governor” because of Easley’s reliance on him to assist political supporters.

Poole took trips on the checkbook of a Wilmington investor and Easley political supporter while helping expedite projects in which the financier and others had invested, according to the indictment. He also made returns of at least 25 percent by investing his money in some of those same coastal developments, prosecutors allege.

“Never before have you seen an allegation of corruption going that close to the governor’s office in modern history,” Crone said.

Republicans jumped on the charges, with state GOP chairman Tom Fetzer calling it part of the “culture of corruption that has risen out of a century of one-party dominance in state government.”

Democrats have sat in the Executive Mansion since 1993 and held almost continuously the power in the Legislature since the late 1890s. Party leaders say they’re disgusted by the charges, if true, but argue they’ve been leading on ethics issues for years.

“We have changed the culture in the Legislature,” said House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, adding they’ll consider other restrictions when lawmakers reconvene in May, if necessary. “I’m a citizen of North Carolina. I want it to be cleaned up.”

The Legislature passed sweeping new rules essentially banning gifts to lawmakers and top executive branch leaders in 2006 and expelled Wright for unethical behavior.

Gov. Beverly Perdue also has demanded tougher gift bans in the wake of investigations of free meals from vendors to some state employees and local ABC boards.

Perdue feels the indictment “is a sorry distraction for the people of North Carolina, and we are all tired of it,” said Chrissy Pearson, her spokeswoman.

Some Republicans have gotten in trouble with the law, too, although the largest headlines have been left for the Democrats because of their majority status in government.

In previous election years, the corruption associated with Black and Wright didn’t bleed over into other legislative districts by hurting the prospects of other Democratic incumbents just by association. It shouldn’t happen this year, either, Hackney said.

“I don’t see how Ruffin Poole’s indictment affects somebody running for a House seat in eastern North Carolina if there’s no direct connection,” said Gary Pearce, a Democratic strategists who used to work with former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt.

Hackney and other Democrats are hopeful the economy will turn around by the November elections so they’ll have some more positive things to talk about with voters.

Easley wasn’t accused of wrongdoing in the indictment and his attorney said he wasn’t aware of Poole’s alleged conduct.

Activities surrounding Easley while he was governor have been the subject of federal and state investigations in the year since he left office in January 2009. Neither probe is complete.

A lot will depend on whether Easley is charged with crimes. Democratic legislative candidates statewide would have to respond against more than just the “little governor,” but the public face of the state party for eight years.

Comments:

I’ve said time-n-time again…greed/hubris/avarice know no party line, no creed, no religion, no color. There is corruption w/in all parties. There are back door deals, bathroom soirees, etc. I’m a victim starting back in the mid ’80’s when I complained about the water at my home in Pamlico County. Unbeknownst to me, I was railroaded by the AG (Easley back then, Hunt was Guv, and Sec of State was Rufus) and it cost me, my family, my biz partners a whole chain of very successful retail stores.

So, I became a real estate developer. Guess what?! I ran headlong into the toxic water issue AGAIN. I’ve bumped into a series of environmental/developmental injustices along the way & am now known as Forest Gump of the Environment.

The powers-that-be created a Frankenstein. There’s no satisfaction in revenge when people are dying from toxic water and thousands of acres of our coast sink beneath the waterline.

Dale Swiggett
Waterfront Sportsman & the EIC

Wendell Falls Development fined $21,000 by EPA

Original post: http://www.indyweekblogs.com/triangulator/2009/10/20/wendell-falls-development-fined-21000-by-epa/comment-page-1/#comment-24196

By: Lisa Sorg

Wendell Falls Development has been fined $21,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Water Act, according to an EPA press release issued today.
The financially embattled developer, which owns what was once projected to be the largest subdivision in Wake County—4,000 homes on 1,400 acres—was cited for alleged stormwater-related violations. The violations reportedly occurred at three construction sites, including Wendell Falls Parkway.
Earlier this year, ABC 11 TV reported that Wendell Falls owes the town of Wendell and Wake County $400,000 in delinquent taxes.
Seventeen companies or municipalities throughout the Southeast were penalized from July to September. Lake Glad Commercial, which operates the Highland Trails Commercial Center in Creedmoor, received a $5,000 penalty, also for violations related to stormwater runoff. According to an online property listing, the 249-acre mixed-use development on Highway 56 is for sale for a tidy $7 million.
The town of Rutherfordton was fined $900 for failing to comply with federal requirements in applying biosolids—byproducts from treated wastewater—that can be applied to land as fertilizer. However, if improperly applied or treated, the biosolids can expose people and animals to unsafe levels of bacteria and viruses.

Wow, where to begin? First off, let’s address storm water run-off. It’s caused by impervious surfaces (parking lots, roofs, etc). WalMart is the largest creator of storm water run-off from impervious surfaces created by vacant buildings, new roads, parking lots filled with cars leaking toxic fluids, and big box buildings. WalMart locations are fined daily by EPA. WalMart policies just look at the problem as ‘a cost of doing business.’

DENR/DWQ has a ZERO score on the water quality report card and promotes importation of out-of-state municipal sludge to be used to dilute medical waste, chemotherapy, and biotech waste. We have 1 billion fish killed in Neuse River over 18 years from New Bern, NC Wastewater plant at the intersection of Neuse Blvd & Glenbernie Dr. to prove this point. More importantly, we have Sen. Tony Rand and Bev Perdue funding city owned cancer clinics in Fayetteville to cover up Labcorp, Alamance Medical Center and UNC dumping billions of toxic medical specimens into Burlington and Orange Water Sewer Plants, then spreading sludge.

Fines do not improve water quality. Govs Hunt, Easley, & Perdue have simply over sold NC. Everyone must be rewarded to improve water quality, but only if land owners encouraged through tax credits will improve water quality.

NC HB 1567 “Tax Credit for Innovative Stormwater Controls” was created by Prof. Don Yelton and is the only chance for water quality to be improved in NC. The New Lake Jordan Rules do not even address land application of sludge, the principle threat to water quality worldwide. Also check out HB 1170 “Study on Sludge Application” & HB 1218 “No Sludge Spread on Certain Public Spaces.”

Dale Swiggett
Waterfront Sportsman & the Environmental Investigation Coalition

water_warrior 20 January 2010

Base Realignment and Closure

I’m a Military Brat and proud of it! Both my grandfathers served and my dad served also.  One thing about growing up military is that you never fully retire. It’s a lifestyle…not just a job. You stay connected to the military families you meet throughout your travels and you stay aware of what is going on with military families; which brings up the topic of Base Realignment and Closure…BRAC.

The link below is from the government is worth the read

 

www.gao.gov/new.items/d09217.pdf

 

 

Here are my main thoughts/questions:

1. The military bases that these families are moving to are not deserted, so where are these people going to live?

2. The towns that are losing their military bases are also losing civilian jobs…so where are those people going to work?

3. With the contamination at Camp Lejune and other military bases is it safe/smart/logical to move even more people to the area?

4. Do the bases NEED to be closed?

5. What is to be done with the empty bases?

6. Refer to #1

7. When it comes to NC was the truth told about the water quality and available space at our bases?

8. Refer to #3

I’m not being like that boy on the bus who told Forrest, “You can’t sit here.” I’m just raising my hand and asking some simple questions? It doesn’t seem like the BRAC has been well thought out. It really brings out my “WTF?” face when things are done that offer SHORT TERM solutions. This isn’t 1639, people live past the age of 20 so we need to start making decisions based on what will happen in 20+ years.

Sludge Spreading Near Burlington School

The video has been removed from youtube, but here is the article:

 

http://www.thetimesnews.com/news/school-29483-shows-sludge.html