It isn’t reform that needed; it’s enforcement!

Obamagration  The airways have been flooded these past few weeks with obfuscation and superfluous rhetoric about the need for drastic and effective immigration policy reform.  Why?  There are plenty of effective and just laws already on the books that clearly outline American immigration laws.  The real issue is why this administration and the ones before, at least back to Dwight Eisenhower, have chosen not to enforce the laws that congress has already passed?  If the president won’t enforce the laws he was sworn to uphold, why would anyone who even pretends to have an inkling of intelligence believe that he will enforce any new set of laws.

  First, these so called undocumented immigrants that roam America’s streets today have NO legal right, basis, or claim to even be within the boundaries of this country.  They deserve no legal protections, and definitely deserve no sympathy.  They have stolen into this country and everyday they steal resources and credibility from those who have arrived here legally.  It is an affront to every legal citizen when any politician or pundit refers to these people as anything more than a criminal invader.  They people as a group have no compunction about breaking laws or following any existing societal norm.  The fact that their presence has even been tolerated is mystifying.  What is even more mystifying is that there are those that want to grant them amnesty for the crimes they have already committed.  What about their future crimes?

   Second, why are these people seemingly treated any differently than any other law breaker?  Would any average American accept a burglar rummaging through his or her jewelry box on the dresser in the bedroom at 3:00 AM?  Why not? Oh, it’s against the law if it’s YOUR bedroom.  Well, illegal aliens are breaking the law, and it’s also YOUR country!  Granted, only half of all American effectively pay taxes. But illegal aliens affect everyone.  For the tax payers they mean more in tax expenditures.  For those who don’t actually pay income taxes, the presence of illegal aliens means even more.  They result in higher consumer costs, fewer tax payer generated benefits available, and far greater competition for jobs, especially in the service market.  This point alone should worry the likes of the service worker unions.  Illegal aliens, if made legal, will exacerbate this situation.  Once legal, they can and will clog up the courts demanding an even greater share of the social welfare pot.  It will happen!  They already demand these benefits despite their illegal status.

  Finally, the rule of law should mean something.  The laws of the past have meant little to the ruling political class.  This is an issue upon which a stand must be made.  Follow the current laws; they have only failed because of poor leadership.  Make the current laws work before we make matters worse and make lawbreakers legal.  If America excuses this lawlessness, what else will be excusable and what other laws will not be enforced?

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Posted in Crime & Public Safety, Jobs & Workforce Development, Media and Reporting, Taxes & Fees | Leave a comment

Wailing & Gnashing of Teeth in Sanford & Broadway

WailingMy, oh my.  Not since the electric 2009 debate over the half-cent sales tax increase has the county witnessed so much wailing and gnashing of teeth over an issue like the sales tax distribution in Lee County.  County commissioners have announced their intent to do precisely as state law allows (and fiscal prudence dictates) in changing the county’s sales tax distribution method from per capita to ad valorem.  In effect, this means the county will retain more of the state’s distribution of sales taxes to benefit all county residents, while choosing to send less of those dollars directly to Sanford and Broadway councils to spend as they see fit.  In return, the commissioners promise to lower property taxes, to reduce spending across the county, and to reduce the county’s debt burden.  Lower taxes, reduced spending, less debt– what’s not to like? 

Oh, lest I forget, it also means that the City of Sanford and the Town of Broadway may need to tighten their budgets.  It means Sanford will have to reassess whether to keep pouring millions of dollars into non-mandated discretionary spending and exaggerated fund balances; whether they can afford to keep subsidizing the municipal golf course and giving away corporate welfare and contributions to selected non-profit groups; whether they can afford to keep expanding staff and salaries while other government entities have laid off staff, denied salary increases, and cut back on hours.  The Town of Broadway will need to explore alternative means of staffing important services to replace the $104,000 or so in reduced sales taxes it otherwise would have received.   (The town might well find all those savings by simply working with the county Sheriff to augment their public safety needs.)

Let’s be clear and unemotional on this issue–  prudence and the facts clearly align with what the county plans to do.  The first rule of fiscal responsibility in government is never to take money from citizens or businesses that isn’t absolutely necessary to fulfill the obligations of that jurisdiction.  Clearly, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) is trying to obey that rule.  There are 44 other counties in the state that do precisely what the Lee BOC is seeking to do- using the ad valorem method of distribution.  Many other counties would also change to this method if the distribution method would be more favorable to the county, rather than less favorable.  So, changing the distribution method is the wise and mainstream action to take. 

Finally, it’s high time for other jurisdictions of the county to act more responsibly with our precious tax dollars.  To date, only the BOC has sought to complete performance and financial audits to improve operational efficiencies in government.  The school system resisted an audit but was compelled to receive an Evergreen financial review in 2011—one that found more than $10M in potential savings for taxpayers.  The City of Sanford was offered the same kind of audit in 2011 (with Evergreen offering a deep discount) but rejected the opportunity. 

Local political debates in Lee County these past few years have led me to this observation—the louder that local government officials squeal, the closer to the truth we are getting.  Let the wailing and gnashing begin!

Posted in Budget, City of Sanford, Lee County Politics, Taxes & Fees, Town of Broadway | 1 Comment

There ought to be a law……..

Sandy Hook_Gun Control  The Main Stream Media spectacle has been in full swing following the mindless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, fully exploiting the event as Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel described as not “letting a serious crisis to go to waste.”  Yes, it was a tragedy, and it was serious, but the gun control rhetoric that followed was nothing more than pure political gamesmanship.  What else could it be?  Every every tragic event that may have included a firearm, regardless of fact or circumstance, elicits the same liberal-progressive response, ‘more stringent gun control’!  Maybe what the political opportunists are really saying is ‘more citizen control.’  Face it, everything Adam Lanza did was already against the law.  So, what new laws could possibly prevent another event?  That’s right, no such laws are possible.

  So what is all of this outrage aiming to do– disarm a public that is increasingly resentful of a ruling political class?  Hmmm.  Every despotic regime in history has either disarmed its people or attempted to disarm its people.  That is, they took away the common citizen’s ability to fight back against the government.  Oddly, that’s why the 2d Amendment to the US Constitution was written, to ensure the people ALWAYS will have the ability to take back the government from those who abuse power or over-reach their authority. There is a common saying found on vehicle bumper stickers, ‘When guns are outlawed, Only criminals will have guns!’ That includes governments living in fear of their people, who by Thomas Jefferson’s words are illegitimate and criminal.

  There already exists a law for the situation in which this Nation finds itself.  It is called the US Constitution.  The Obama Administration should be spending less time trying to work around the constraints to government power, and spend more time executing the laws already in place. But, maybe that’s what the Administration really wants, unfettered power.  To achieve that end, the government needs a disarmed public and changes to the Law of the Land!

Posted in Crime & Public Safety, Education, Founding Fathers, Media and Reporting | Leave a comment

Why the need for year-round Public Schools? Why now?

Red_Herring  I must continually remind myself that I live in Lee County, NC.  It is futile to ask meaningful questions of the Lee County School System (LCSS).  Still, I marvel at how the LCSS Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) Committee came right out of left field with a recommendation to transition all grades, Kindergarten through 8th grade, to year-round schooling (beginning next school year)?  Such a sweeping change would represent a major shift in resources and intrude on traditional annual planning for families. This startling recommendation begs two questions- Why? and Why now? 

  The only plausible answers I could come up with: this recommendation is a ‘red herring’ meant to divert attention away from Dr. Jeff Moss and his management of the Lee County Schools and to help justify increasing local tax obligations to fund our schools. Let’s face facts, Dr. Moss is both a lightning rod for attention and an instigator of dissension.  His expletive-laced tirade at the CEAD Forum in October caused him undue attention at a time when school programs were garnering close and justifiable financial scrutiny.  He needed to change the dialogue.  Introducing the year-round school calendar debate probably fits this niche, though it really shouldn’t.

  Year-round school calendars have been hawked by progressives since the 1880’s.  The practice has never really caught on.  Why is that?  Regardless of its method of implemention, year-round schooling does not result in consistent, discernible, and replicable improvements in student performance across the spectrum of student population groups, ages and circumstances.  Besides, the cost of year-round schooling is not a ‘wash’ as many suggest; it always costs more money, not to mention the impact on family social and employment considerations that are too easily dismissed. 

  Year-round school solutions simply are not a panacea for school district educational challenges.   Simply stated, year-round schools do not lead to better student performance.  Studied results from around the country are mixed at best.  There have been some areas of notable improvement in student performance, along with some areas of notable decline associated with a year-round calendar.  In general, the greatest improvements noted in studies have been with students in ‘at risk’ populations, typically of poorer socio-economic status.  Greatest improvements seem to be attained by about the Third Grade and may render as much as a 9% improvement in reading scores.  After that point, nearly all studies show a gradual return to the performance levels of traditional calendar students by about the Eighth Grade.  High school students actually show declines in performance in year-round calendar situations; especially true in math and reading performance.  Changing to a district-wide year-round calendar for K-8 students ‘might’ have a marginally positive affect on some groups of students; but the marginal improvement hardly seems worth the the impact of changing our district calendar so radically, or the family disruptions that would ensue 

  Year-round schools cost substantially more to operate, regardless of rhetoric to the contrary.  Generally speaking, year-round programs cost an average of 10% more to operate.  Year-round proponents often state that using a year-round calendar actually results in better use of space because classrooms and buildings are dormant less.  Belying this assertion is the fact there are still only 180-184 instructional days in the school year, regardless of the calendar.  Plus, utility costs per instructional day are not constant. Cooling and heating costs vary by school, location, and season.  Average daily costs are simply insufficient to use to determine operating costs. Cooling costs alone during the months of June, July, and August can be significant in central North Carolina.  Maintenance suffers in year-round programs across most districts that employ year-round schedules.  Less time  can be built into a calendar year for extended and periodic maintenance.  Simple things like waxing floors and painting walls are hindered.  Major repairs simply cannot get done without periodically interfering with classroom instruction. If the LCSS C&I Committee has access to information that shows Tramway Elementary costs less to operate year-round than its sister school, Bullock Elementary, then Dr. Moss should use that data to justify the jump to a year-round calendar.

  Tramway Elementary, is the only Lee County school presently on a year-round calendar.  The mere fact that it is different imposes issues on the community.  We often hear the lament, ‘What about the year-round students’ when conflicts exist for such things as recreation activities, scouts, or 4-H.  Well, what about it?  Parents chose Tramway’s program; they were not compelled to use it.  They voluntarily agreed to conform their families’ schedules to the year-round school calendar.  This situation wouldn’t go away, even if the district changed to a K-12 year-round calendar.  The change would have to be compelled, not voluntary.  Many families simply desire an extended summer period with flexibility for parents and children to work, vacation, or enjoy summer recreational activities whenever they prefer. 

  One other explanation for this new year-round school initiative is the outcome of the recent local elections and the conservative shift in the board of county commissioners.  In their first meeting, this new board served notice of its intent to terminate the supplemental school funding it had been giving LCSS the past two years.  The commissioners also instructed the county manager to plan for reduced school funding in areas the Evergreen financial review discovered opportunities for cost savings.  What better way to build an argument for sustained or increased public school funding from local taxpayers than to change to year-round schools, which we know are more costly?  

  Since there are few measureable positives for a year-round school calendar, and several measureable negatives, the question remains unanswered.  There is no justifiable reason to make this change.  Therefore, the matter might well be a red herring tossed out by the superintendent — through his two puppets on the C&I Committee — to shift the topic of discussion from his recent abhorrent behavior and looming financial scrutiny of the school budget by the conservative-leaning board of commissioners.  Let us hope that Lee County School Board will avoid this silly distraction and take the opportunity in coming months to more closely examine their budget for waste and inefficiency.  Surely, there are more cost effective and efficient ways to do educate our children.  And if none can be found, then the next conversations should be on the subject of replacing our superintendent and helping the legislature in Raleigh legislate state-wide school reforms.

Posted in Budget, Education, Lee County Politics | 2 Comments

Progressivism versus Religious Freedom

progressive_soup  Why do progressives espouse disdain for religion, especially Christianity?  Easy, theirs is a means that doesn’t justify their ends; there can be little doubt. The United States of America was clearly founded as a Christian nation in which other religious beliefs would be tolerated.  The verbiage in the Bill of Rights simply states that the collective governments of the several states and the federal government would not establish a state religion.  It established a freedom OF religion, but not a freedom FROM religion. Unfortunately, progressive judges later developed and applied the latter line of thinking to justify susequent progressive actions. 

  This perversion of the text, the language, and historical context by the liberal progressive movement of which the American Democratic Party and all Marxists seem to belong, appears to promote a common value: moral relativism.  They justify their philosophical swill by denigrating morality, ethical behavior, and community values, allowing none of these to threaten their movement.  Operating without an external moral or ethical compass, such as an established religious doctrine, progressives interject politically correct speech and norms into society as a way to pervert or control community and societal will. 

  It is historically true that governments have established and installed state religions as a means of population control.  This is particularly true of Islamist states.  But, it has also been a trdemark of Catholicism, Anglicanism, Puritanism, and even the Anabaptist movements that include the modern Amish.  These religions used citizens’ belief systems as a means of controlling them.  Their belief in God they believed to be incorruptible.  Governments used the peoples’ morals and relied upon them in sustaning authority.  Religious freedom and other natural rights suffered as a result.

  Progressivism is a bit different.   Progressives cannot speak from both sides of their collective face if morals and values are incorruptible.  Politically, they must supplant the moral compass of religion with an ethos of the party, of the state, of that which is relevant at that moment.  Then, without religious values getting in the way, the corruption of government goes undetected.

  The much maligned and constantly attacked Scouting Movement of the United States, the Boy Scouts of America, has for years issued an interesting bumper sticker.  “America is returning to the values that Scouting never forgot” This slogan first came out during the Reagan years. It needs to be revised today.  ‘America needs to return to the values that scouting never forgot.’  A return to basic religious values is the first step.  It is time to end the decay of the very fabric of this great nation caused by those who seek power and seek to maintain power by ending what it is meant to be an American.  Freedom of religion was assured by those who had religiously driven morals and convictions.  As such, there can be no freedom without religion and the basis simple beliefs and values, Christian beliefs and values, provide.  End the progressive slide of moral relativism.  Return America the values the progrssives want you to forget.

Posted in Founding Fathers | 5 Comments

Slow Your Roll, Dr. Smith: Extending our Superintendent is a Hasty and Bad Move!

  Even before the new Lee County Board of Education can be sworn in there has already been a not-so-behind-the-scenes effort to further extend the contract of our Superintendent, Dr. Jeff Moss.  What in the world are you thinking, Lynn Smith?  It was bad enough that your previous “Boss Tatum”-led board extended and improved Dr. Moss’ schedule in a surreptitious, behind-the-scenes vote beyond the terms of every member of the school board without any publicized justification.  Why would you push so aggressively to compound that previous mistake?  Dr. Moss must remain responsible and accountable for his actions.   Guaranteeing him a full four years of employment beyond his current contract removes any risk of dismissal for poor performance over the next few years.  

  It’s no secret that Dr. Jeff Moss operates with open contempt for the people of LeeCounty, the LCBOE, and anyone who disagrees with him.  Yes, he is highly educated, usually very articulate, and even a crafty administrator.  He typically acts as if he’s the smartest person in most any room, even when there are other people in the room, and then he will let them know that he has the only answers that matter.  His actively  employs a directive style of management; but then only he knows what the strategies, plans, and program intents are.  He shares little with his subordinates- or the school board for that matter -except what he wants them to know.  Dr. Moss has helped arrange nominations for self-aggrandizing awards and recognitions for technology and such, yet still fails to disseminate operations cost data from which reasonable people might determine how effective our K-12 programs, plans, and strategies really are.  Maybe he acts this way because he has a contract that allows him not to kowtow to anyone in the county.  In all fairness, Dr. Moss may be performing at a level commensurate with the county’s budget limitations, the socio-demographic cohort of children he has in our schools, and the quality of education staff he has to work with.  But that we will never know.  With his contract extended well into the future, he has little incentive to improve his current level of performance.

  No, Dr. Smith there is no need to extend Dr. Moss’ contract even one minute beyond where it is currently.  Maybe the effort wasted on this poorly conceived concept should be spent in conference with the LCBOE, sans Dr. Moss, meeting and developing a detailed strategy for the next two years.  The Board should consider giving Dr. Moss the priorities and the programmatic intent for our future LCSS strategies, plans, and programs the LCBOE wishes to implement.  Then the Board can review how well Dr. Moss did at the end of this two-year term, when they meet to decide if Dr. Moss is really the person they want working for them in the next term.

Posted in Education, Lee County Politics | 6 Comments

Upsetting the Apple Cart (What the LEED-PAC Fears Most)

  As the faces and motives of the LEED-PAC are becoming known, it is apparent that maintaining the traditional status quo in Lee County is of paramount importance.  Just face it, things have been done a certain way and a certain group of citizens have figured prominently in the benefits of those ways.  LEED-PAC is nothing new. There are always groups or individuals who ‘call the shots’ or ‘pull the strings’ behind the politicians who make the rules for others to live by. Lee County is no exception.  It should be of no surprise to any thinking and concerned citizen that those forces are at work now. 

  Usually the first indicator that the proverbial ‘apple cart’ is being unsettled is the claim, ‘well he ain’t from around here!’  That is a claim levied routinely about Commissioner Jim Womack, who chose to live in Lee County after he retired from the Army.  He has been vilified because he questions the status quo.  The second charge levied against Mr. Womack is that ‘he just doesn’t know how things are done around here!’ Again what the clear meaning is that someone is publicly questioning what is appears to be a suspicious practice: in other words, upsetting the local apple cart.  Maybe it’s time to check out the apple cart, the way things have always been done around here.  Commissioner Womack isn’t the first to question the questionable.

  During our 100-plus years of existence, there has always been someone who benefited by the way business has been conducted in Lee County. Let there be no doubt that Moore and Chatham counties didn’t one day up and offer to cede lands to become a new county without someone benefiting.  Every bit of ‘progress’, every act of ‘development’ benefited someone. In most cases, there was an indirect benefit derived by the rest of the citizenry in the form of taxes or community services, but those are always of an indirect nature. Some things are obvious.  The presence of the community college, the widened roads in and out of the county (and don’t forget the bypass) and the airport are all examples. None of these things were coincidences.  Someone benefited from each of them in terms of land being sold or a construction contract awarded, or even by taking political credit.  Sure, there usually is some manner of public good served in most developments, but don’t think for a minute that that was the primary motive of the people who pushed to make them happen.

  There’s usually a downside also.  Progress by these same groups has led to a rundown city center that gets constant criticism about the need for renovation and renewal.  Many of the downtown property owners, both past and present, have been lead factors in developments along the Horner Blvd corridor and in the Tramway area.  There are many empty and woefully underused buildings downtown. Yet there is constant growth out along the byways, why?  Take a short drive along South Horner Blvd. or down Route 1 and take notice of the number of empty store fronts, while there are even more being built, Why is that?  It isn’t because someone isn’t benefiting, otherwise that zoning, planning, and building permits would never have been issued.  Schools have been built and discarded over the decades, often with no clear plan other than to build anew every 20 or so years.  There are  discarded neighborhoods throughout the City of Sanford, yet there is constant building of new developments on the fringes of the city waiting to be annexed, why is that?  Someone benefited by it.

  The LEED-PAC chooses to attack Commissioner Womack and others like him, because they have had the nerve to question the reasonableness of ongoing local developments?  That questioning has made him a bit of a pariah.  But take a minute to see who people of the LEED-PAC really are and who has put up the money for its newspaper blitz against Commissioner Womack and his so-called militia, and the answers to the earlier questions of why things are answered by the same who’s that benefited from those actions.  Few things in this world happen without a discernable cause or purpose.  The LEED-PAC exists to maintain the status quo in Lee County.  These shadowy figures support politicians and policies aimed at maintaining their apple cart a certain way so that they are the direct beneficiaries from the contents of the cart.  LEED-PAC does truly exist for the people of Lee County, but only a select few.

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