Since the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, one of the major responses has been to increase restrictions on gun rights, presumably to reduce the probability that a mass shooting will take place.
But what if their proposed methods for doing so are unconstitutional? That’s the argument advanced by some experts on constitutional law, who argue that the landmark cases of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago protect against the most controversial ideas being proposed, such as an assault weapons ban. Moreover, even some renowned liberal experts on the same law law admit that the tools available to the government are limited.
Key questions in the debate are: Can the government ban assault weapons without violating the Constitution?If so, why? To answer these questions, TheBlaze spoke to legal authorities on both sides of the ideological divide, including some truly famous names within the realm of constitutional law. What we found may surprise you.
I. Background: Heller, McDonald and the Limits of the Second Amendment
When it comes to the regulation of gun rights, two Supreme Court cases stand out as definitive: The 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, and the 2010 case McDonald v. Chicago. Both cases conclusively established that the individual right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Constitution, and that this right is in force whether one is talking about state-level gun law or federal gun law.
One might think this is the end of almost every gun law. After all, if there’s a constitutional right involved, the assumption is that the government can’t do anything to infringe on that right, right? Wrong. Every constitutional right has exceptions, or place where a right doesn’t apply. For instance, the Supreme Court has found exceptions to the First Amendment to include things like fighting words, obscenity and words that present a “clear and present danger” (such as yelling “fire” in a crowded theater when no fire exists). That is, the government can regulate, and even ban, such exercises of “speech” without running afoul of the First Amendment.
Similarly, both Heller and McDonald set limits on the right to keep and bear arms, even as they affirm that that right exists. TheBlaze has covered some of those limits already, but for now, it’s enough to quote from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in Heller, which sets up the current controversy:
Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.
Must Washington fix our broken southern border? You bet.
Will the comprehensive immigration reform bill help? You bet it won't.
The number one flaw of the bill is it starts by giving amnesty to the unlawfully present population in the United States. As soon as the bill passes, those in the country contrary to U.S. immigration law are granted status to stay.
Amnesty immediately creates an incentive for illegal border crossings and overstays. Thus, the bill's strategy would drive up the cost of securing the border. To make matters worse, the draft law states that anyone who was present in the U.S. before 2012 qualifies—creating massive opportunity for fraud, since there is no proof required that applicants have been here for several years.
While supporters of the bill trumpet its“border security” features, in reality, the law delivers nothing new—other than the promise of spending a lot more money and running up our debt.
The billtrashes fiscal discipline, exploiting “a loophole in the Budget Control Act (BCA) that allows Congress to spend more than allowed under the spending caps adopted in 2011.”
In other words, Washington is willing to draft a bounced check to justify an amnesty bill.
Throughout the centuries, America has had a rich history of participating in times of prayer. Oftentimes, prayer proclamations were issued by the governor of a colony or state, or by the president of the United States. In fact, by 1815, some 1,400 official calls to prayer had been issued by governmental leaders. These included calls for both Days of Prayer and Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving. On these days, citizens and congregations would gather together at churches at various locations, pastors would preach a sermon addressing the topics outlined in the proclamation, and then they would all pray. We have recently posted several of these sermons from WallBuilders' vast library collection, including:
The House Judiciary Committee reported Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, traveled around the world on an official trip in February that cost $23,646. The Feb. 16-22 trip on commercial flights was to Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Gun Owners are terrorists according to DHS Video--This is sickening. This is propaganda in its dirtiest form, and it’s paid for by those it attempts to demonize.
What you are about to see is a training video the DHS is using, or has used, to depict scenarios where domestic raids are necessary to thwart terrorist attacks. While it might be logical for a video to depict radical Muslims or similar entities plotting bombings or mass killings, the DHS apparently chose to ignore these groups, instead opting to use “illegal gun owners” as the evil guys. The video even references a “local militia group” in the fake news report.
Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting - 15 April 2013
Earth Day Proclamation
The meeting started with the board adopting an "Earth Day Proclamation." I'm sure we all celebrate that the earth was created for us, but some of the "whereases" made me a little ill. We start with how wonderful it was the that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed, then move to Earth Day's being observed by other communities throughout the world providing an opportunity for governments to work together for a prosperous and SUSTAINABLE future, and go on to its providing an opportunity for Craven County residents to join the effort to PROTECT THE PLANET. Get the AGENDA 21 drift? I kept hoping one of our more conservative board members would say something, but no one did.
National Healthcare Decision Day Proclamation
This proclamation was supposedly about encouraging people to let their wishes be known as to how extensive lifesaving measures should be taken to keep them alive in times of severe injury or illness. I RESENT ANYTHING WITH NATIONAL HEALTHCARE IN ITS NAME! I hoped some commissioner would suggest a name change, but it did not happen.
Sheriff's Department Request
The next order of business with any real meaning for taxpayers was a little "dust up" with the Sheriff's Office in which Sheriff Monette participated. The presenter was Captain Jesse Pittman. The differences of opinion between the Board of Commissioners and Sheriff's Department concerned a request to obtain some new vehicles. The Sheriff asked for 10 marked cruisers and 2 unmarked "mobile crime labs." It was quickly pointed out that the approved budget was for 12 marked cruisers. The sheriff said that by having two Dodge Caravans unmarked there could be more flexibility in what they were used for. The Board took this to mean that the Sheriff had other uses in mind and had not fully disclosed his plans. County Manager, Jack Veit, said the vehicles should be marked so that other users of the highways would make way for them as they proceed to the scene of a recent crime. Chairman Dacey then asked if there had been a request for bids on the vehicles as the County had saved a lot of money by putting services and equipment purchases out for bids. The Sheriff said he wanted these specific vehicles and had apparently already looked into purchasing them, but would find comparable prices. After much hullabaloo and posturing on both sides, the Sheriff got his way.
Electronic Monitoring Program
This is a release from jail program with electronic monitoring of the convicted offenders' whereabouts. This program has actually been shown to save the taxpayers money. The Sheriff's office made its quarterly report on the program to the Board of Commissioners. Our own Joe Albanese participated. The commissioners, especially Commissioners Dacey and Taylor wanted more information on these reports such as the cost savings to the taxpayers by avoiding paying medical bills and by avoiding the cost of imprisonment of the offenders. The Sheriff's Department's representatives said they would comply in the future.
The rest of the meeting was pretty routine with nothing earthshattering for the taxpayer or other concerned citizens.
Agenda Item 1. Meeting was opened by Mayor Lee Wilson Bettis, Jr. Prayer was given by Mayor Bettis. All Board members were present as were the City Clerk, Manager and Attorney.
Prior to the conduct of business, Mayor Bettis and Ald White congratulated former NBHS football player Kevin Reddick (UNC) for earning a consideration in the 2013 NFL draft. Ald White wishes to mention Mr. Reddick not just because he is a New Bern citizen but because he feels Mr. Reddick is an outstanding example to others of working hard and staying responsible in order to attain a worthy goal. Ald White was one of Mr. Reddick's Pop Warner youth football coaches. There will be a casual gathering to watch the televised NFL draft proceedings on Fri., Apr 26th @ 5pm @ the Carolina Colours Pavillion. Mayor Bettis will read a proclamation for Mr. Reddick noting his accomplishments.
Agenda Item 3. Recognition of Local Governor Service Award Recipients and Reading of Proclamation for Nikki Ingianni (Little Red Book Mobile), Senior Award and Medallion Winner, and Reading of Proclamation for Volunteer Month.
April is designated as Volunteer Month, and the NC Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service has presented the 2013 Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service to five area recipients. Tharesa Lee will be present to introduce the recipients and discuss the rewards and benefits of volunteering. Proclamations will be read proclaiming April as Volunteer Month and recognizing the recipient of the Senior Award and Medallion Winner.
Agenda Item 4. Recognition of Graduates of the Citizens Police Academy.
Citizens Police Academy #14 was held February 21 through April 11, 2013. The Class President, Cheryl Reed, addressed the Board about the overall experiences during the 10 sessions of the class. Fourteen students participated in the Academy, and 10 of those students were present at the Board meeting. NBPD Chief Summers announced that recruitment for the next class will be in Aug 2013, with actual classes starting in Sept 2013.
Agenda Item 5. Recognition of Competitors from New Bern's Utilities Department in the 2013 American Public Power Association's 13th Annual Linemen's Rodeo.
Electric Distribution had four employees (Mike Harper, Brian Small, Bruce Smith and David Brayboy) who participated in the national American Public Power Association Lineworker Rodeo that was held during March 2013 in Kissimmee, Florida. Fifty-nine journeyman teams consisting of 140 lineworkers from across the United States were challenged in the rodeo's five events as well as overall performance category. New Bern's team captured fifth place overall in the competition, beating out numerous larger utilities and delivering a technically perfect performance in each event.
Agenda Item 6. Presentation by Police Department of Leads and Raids Online.
Detective Adam Sneeden with the New Bern Police Department made a presentation on Leads Online and Raids Online. Leads Online is an online inventory reporting system for citizens, and Raids Online is an online mapping database for crimes occurring in the City. Det Sneeden made a real-time presentation on his laptop showing how to access both programs. He emphasized how quick and convenient it was for one to upload their inventory of valueables with today's smartphone technology, and also, how imperative to recovery of jewelry it is to upload photos of one's jewelry items. He stated that if any item you input into this system has a serial number it ensures more successful recovery if you include that information. He also told of several items that have recently been recovered for New Bern citizens from locales such as Wilmington and Jones County.
Raids Online is updated daily at 9am. All information is public information data set to a default of a 2 week period. One can retrieve data by entering either address or city names. Ald Bucher praised the programs and reminded the audience that considering the recent bombings in Boston, we all need to be more aware of our surroundings, saying "when you see something that doesn't look right, it probably isn't right. Please report suspicious activities".
Agenda Item 7. Adopt Resolution Approving Lease Agreement with State Employees Credit Union for ATM Located in Parking Lot at Corner of Pollock and Craven Streets.
(Ward 1) The State Employee's Credit Union has requested renewal of the ATM lease agreement for the ATM currently located in the City's parking lot at 302 Craven Street. This ATM provides a needed service for those who live and work in the downtown area. City Manager Epperson said that the monthly fee was $50 p/month. It will now be $225 p/month. However, that would put the contract more in line with what is considered the industry norm for this type of service from the company. Not a single Board member questioned this increase, despite having been informed by the City Manager at the BOA budget work session of 7 days ago on April 16, 2013 that thus far, the city budget is in a $1.7 million shortfall. This information of a fee increase was contained within their packet of briefing material that is distributed prior to this Board meeting. Vote: Unanimous 'yes'.
Agenda Item 8. Adopt Ordinance to Restate the Schedule of Capital Recovery Fees and Connection Fees for Water and Sewer Customers of the City of New Bern.
The presentation was made by Mr. Jordan Hughes, City Engineer. In May 2011, the City revised water and sewer connection fee policies to provide for a more equitable and customer-friendly structure. The revisions established a policy that is comprised of two components: a capital recovery fee and a connection fee. The capital recovery fee is based on the demand of the proposed development, and these fees are directed to the capital reserve funds to offset the future cost of major capital improvements to the City's water and sewer system. The connection fee is based on the type of connection needed and reflects the actual labor and material cost to make a service connection to the City's water and sewer mains.
The recommended changes revise the demand rates to accurately represent the actual expected use from a proposed development. It also allows for historical consumption data to be evaluated in establishing an alternative demand rate for proposed usage. A ceiling has been established in the proposed ordinance so that no single customer will have a combined water and sewer capital recover fee that exceeds $50,000. And lastly, connection fee charges have been revised to incorporate the actual meter cost of the new AMI water meters. More detailed info with regard to rates for specific connections based on in-city and outside-of-city, service tiers and business type can be found on the city website. Both Ald Bengel and Outlaw said they had discussed these rates with several local builders who have opined that the rates are equitable. Ald Bengel requested that for future ordinance changes that come before the Board, the City Manager has the ordinance language that is to be revised red-lined for better clarification. Vote: Unanimous 'yes'.
Agenda item 9. Adopt Resolution for Issuing Change Order No. 1 for the Neuse Boulevard Water Main Replacement Phase-II Project.
(Wards 1, 2, 4 & 5) City Engineer Jordan Hughes gave this presentation. The Neuse Boulevard Water Main Replacement Phase-II is nearing completion. A final adjusting change order needs to be issued amending the total contract amount by replacing the original estimated quantities with the actual quantities of work performed. This amendment to the contract will reflect the actual amounts of work performed by the Contractor, James L. Cayton, Inc., and the cost of the work based on the unit prices established in the Contractor's bid. The adjustment amounts to $133,286.50 and is within the project's established contingency fund of $293,153. The city is ahead of schedule. July 1, 2013 is the earliest that asphalt can be laid. If left up to DOT that date would have been May of 2014. Vote: Unanimous 'yes'.
Agenda Item 10. Adopt Resolution to Authorize Initiation of the Upset Bid Process by Advertising Offer to Purchase Property Jointly Owned by the City and County Located at 613 Ruth Avenue.
(Ward 5) The City owns a 54.98% undivided interest in the property located at 613 Ruth Avenue, and the County owns a 45.02% undivided interest. An offer to purchase the property in the amount of $2,000 has been received. It is requested the Board authorize the initiation of the upset bid process by advertising the offer. Ald White states that this is an empty, overgrown, vermin & snake infested lot that neighbors have complained about for a very long time. He and they are glad for this purchase to happen and they look forward to the lot being cleaned up. Vote: Unanimous 'yes'.
Agenda Item 11. Adopt Resolution to Protect the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF).
State funding for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) is generated through some of the highway tax proceeds and is the primary financial artery for local governments to apply for matching grant funding for park and facility additions, expansions and renovations. This year's funding of $27 million is in jeopardy of being reduced to something far less in next year's budget, and the State is proposing to permanently reduce the available amount, as well as eliminate the designation of a dedicated, stand-alone funding source. City Manager Epperson made the presentation on behalf of the Parks-Recreation Dir Thurman Hardison. He announced that Mr. Hardison was in Texas attending classes on gaining accreditation status for New Bern's program. Vote: Unanimous 'yes'.
Agenda Item 12. Discuss Demolition by Neglect Process and Enforcement.
Mr. Kevin Robinson, a City Planner with the Development Services Dept staff gave the Board a brief update on the prevention of the Demolition by Neglect Process, including how properties are added and removed from the list and how minimum housing standards and fines are applied to the properties. Basically, he read a detailed flowchart of the processes. This information can be found on the city website or by calling his office. However, he was interrupted twice (once from the audience & once when the citizen came up beside Mr. Robinson to speak) by Mr. Jerry Hobbins, of New St. (a frequent citizen participant in HPC and NBPF meetings/activities), that some of the information was incorrect. The City Attorney, then the Mayor, informed Mr. Hobbins that this was not a time for citizens to speak rather it was a discussion amongst the Board exclusively, but he was welcome to appear at "open mike night" at the next BOA meeting. Mr. Robinson continued to inform the Board that the structures of 1411 National Avenue and the Elks Building had begun making repairs to bring the structures up to code and thus, had gone off the non-compliance list. Ald Bengel wishes to clarify to the public that this ordinance pertains only to property owners within the historic districts of downtown and Riverside. The rest of the discussion was a rehash of the topic as discussed at the April 9th BOA meeting, with one addition: Mayor Bettis suggested, if constitutionally possibly, for the NB Police Dept to note addresses of dilapidated properties during their patrols when they notice these unfit dwellings are being used for criminal activities and coordinate their findings with the Development Services Dept staff. Furthermore, Mayor Bettis also asked for the HPC or Development Services Dept staff to write the criteria that constitutes unfit dwellings and dilapidated structures in language more understandable to the ordinary layperson and inform the Board members and NBPD of that information.
Agenda item 13. Update on PEG channel.
NB Public Info Officer Colleen Roberts and City Manager Epperson provided the Board an update on the City's PEG channel, City3TV, and discussed improvements to local programming. These ideas were developed from responses to a citizen survey. 140 responses were returned out of a pool of 15,000 households. The primary goal of the PEG is to broadcast live government meetings and provide a community video bulletin board for announcements. There were three questions on this survey. Along with their answers they are: (1) How often do you watch?: 1 - 2 hours per week; (2) How long at a sitting do you watch?: 30 minutes to 1 hour; and, (3) What programming would you like to see? (list is in descending order, beginning w/55% of replies saying): more community events previewed & advertised, more city meetings televised, increase programs telling the history of New Bern, in-depth stories of city board issues, info about tourist attractions. Ms. Roberts suggested an update of the "This Week from City Hall" interviews of city officials. Her idea is for the officials to host their own segment to include segments of officials answering viewer questions, or for officials to interview citizens on various issues/activities, or for officials to spotlight their specific interest on issues. She suggests taping this type of program beginning May 14, 2013 between 5:30 - 6:30 pm, which is prior to the scheduled Board meetings, continuing every other Tuesday evening thereafter. Committee members are Ms. Roberts, Cit Mgr Epperson, aldermen Bengel, Kinsey & Outlaw, and a couple of IT personnel.
Agenda Item 14. The minutes of the March 6, 2013 Special Called Meeting received unanimous approval.
Agenda Item 18. Announcements.
Mayor Bettis: Announced he will be a "celebrity" dancer for the Ratio Theater's benefit "Dancing with the New Bern Stars" on May 11, 2013 at the Shrine Auditorium. His song will be "Night and Day".
Ald Kinsey: He is pleased with and thankful for the law enforcement organizations across the country as well as for our local LE agencies, especially in light of the recent apprehensions of terrorists.
Ald Taylor: Congratulated the 2013 Craven County Teacher of the Year, Mr. Ike Smith from Craven Early College. He echoed Ald Kinsey's appreciation for local LE and also the FBI. He also asked everyone to come out and support the Relay for Life event on April 26, 2013 @ 7pm @ Grover C Fields middle school. He then announced that DuffFest will be @ Henderson Park on May 4, 2013 from 10am to 4pm.
Ald Bengel: Thanked all the New Bern volunteers that were honored tonight as well as the linemen from the Electric Dept for all the work they do to benefit others. She announced that PepsiCo will host their annual meeting here in New Bern for the 2nd year in a row @ the NC History Center at Tryon Palace on May 1, 2013 @ 9am. She encourged citizens to attend the services for the National Day of Prayer @ Union Point Park on May 2, 2013 from 11am to 2pm. Finally she informed that SB-139 ("An Act to Clarify When A County Or Municipality May Enact Zoning Ordinances Related To Design and Aesthetic Controls", amends G.S. 160A-381) had moved out of committee, which will work against the protection of historic structures and neighborhood rejuvination for the historic communities of Degraffenreid, Greater Dryborough and Duffyfield. She urged all citizens to call the entire list of NC senators, beginning with Norm Sanderson, to ask them to cast a 'no' vote on this bill.
Contact your state Representative in support of House Bill 937!
Yesterday, the NC House Judiciary Subcommittee A passed House Bill 937 on a voice vote, after first making a number of improvements that made this pro-gun bill even stronger. This legislation seeks to make a number of important pro-gun reforms including, but not limited to:
• Allowing Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) holders to lawfully carry their personal protection firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol.
• Removing the prohibition on CHP holders from carrying into a place where tickets are sold for admission and would fix the problem of anti-gun localities overstepping their authority regarding restricting CHP holders from carrying firearms into locally controlled parks.
• Addressing some issues regarding firearms in a vehicle, as well as certain firearm issues on campus grounds.
In addition, this subcommittee added language that would bring North Carolina in compliance with the requirements set forth in the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA) of 2007. This legislation does not expand or create new categories of prohibited persons.
"If we concentrated on the really important stuff in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles"
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally ...you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
If the only school curriculum allowed to explain how we got here is evolution, but the government stops a $15 million construction project to keep a rare spider from evolving to extinction ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than ten rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
If, in the largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not a 24-ounce soda because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
If an 80-year-old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched ... you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots.
Republicans in the Senate and House are expected to introduce a joint bill Friday that would limit the amount of ammunition that federal agencies are allowed to buy and stockpileover the next six months, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
The bill, titled the Ammunition Management for More Accountability or “AMMO” Act, is being proposed after several lawmakers have voiced concerns about some federal agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security, seemingly stockpiling large quantities of ammo. “DHS, for instance, has placed two-years worth of ammunition, or nearly 247 million rounds, in its inventory,” the Free Beacon notes.
In a statement provided to the Washington Free Beacon, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), said federal agencies must provide more “transparency and accountability” in regards to its “stockpiles of ammunition.”
On Thursday, April 18, 2013 the Pasquotank Board of Elections convened a hearing to address the 60 voter challenges to voters using 1704 Weeksville Road (Elizabeth City State University) as their voting address. Richard “Pete” Gilbert, Pasquotank GOP Chairman and a resident of the 4th ward brought the challenges after successfully challenging four voters on election day.
One of the main points that Mr. Gilbert made during the proceedings is the North Carolina laws regarding residency of college students. Case law in North Carolina provides the legal presumption that college students are NOT domiciled in the college town to which they go. It is a rebut-able presumption that can be overcome with the greater weight of the evidence. (from NC State Board of Election’s General Counsel, Don Wright, in his paper Residency for Election Purposes.) Case law also provides that the person alleging the change in domicile (the student) bears the burden of proof in providing evidence of the change. Proof could be a North Carolina driver’ license or form of ID or bill that bears the name of the voter and their new address. But students do not change their address. They go home on weekends and Christmas because they have not abandoned their previous domicile.
“ Firstly, for this to happen the Supreme Court would have to be replaced since a majority would never support such a move. Legislation, if passed by a Congress which is highly dubious, would be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.”
The influence of liberal progressives in the Supreme Court has been established by Obama in his first term in office. During the remainder of his second term it is very likely that two Supreme Court justices will be retiring to be replaced by appointments made by the president. Considering Obama’s thirst for gun control it is likely that his appointee’s will fall in line with his manifesto of disarming our Nation.
As incredible as this sounds consider what happened when the Senate voted on the issue of the UN Small Arms Treaty. Forty-five Democrats and one Independent voted in favor of the Treaty. It was defeated by a 53-46 vote. The outcome of this vote is simple: 46 members of the Senate were willing to submit the 2nd Amendment to our beloved Constitution to the control of the UN.
As Americans we have a decision to make. We are either going to stand against the forces of Socialism, Marxism and Communism that runs a muck in our Country today or we will quietly submit to those forces.
We were born Americans, not Democrats or Republicans.
Beck Breaks Exclusive Information on Saudi National Once Considered a Person of Interest in Boston Bombings
•A Saudi national originally identified as a “person of interest” in the Boston Marathon bombing was set to be deported under section 212 3B — “Security and related grounds” — “Terrorist activities” after the bombing
•As the story gained traction, TheBlaze’s Chief Content Officer Joel Cheatwood received word that the government may not deport the Saudi national, originally identified as Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi
•Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refused to answer questions on the subject when confronted by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) on Capitol Hill.
•An ICE officialsaid a different Saudi national is in custody, but is “in no way” connected to the bombings.
•A congressional source, however, says that the file on Alharbi was created, that he was “linked” in some way to the Boston bombings (though it is unclear how), and that documents showing all this have been sent to Congress.
•Key congressmen of the Committee on Homeland Security request a classified briefing with Napolitano
•Fox News’ Todd Starnes reports that Alharbi was allegedly flagged on a terrorist watch list and granted a student visa without being properly vetted. Sources close to the investigation also told him the Saudi is still set for deportation.
•New information provided to TheBlaze reveals Alharbi’s file was altered early Wednesday evening to disassociate him from the initial charges
•Sources say the Saudi’s student visa specifically allows him to go to school in Findlay, Ohio, though he appears to have an apartment in Boston, Massachusetts
•Sources tell us this will most likely now be kicked from the DHS to the DOJ and labeled an ongoing investigation that can no longer be discussed.
Monday morning Glenn Beck laid out what he knows about the Saudi connection to the Boston marathon bombings. It is a story that the mainstream media has all but completely ignored, though Beck says TheBlaze’s Chief Content Officer Joel Cheatwood reached out to numerous other networks in an effort to get the story out. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refused to acknowledge the story even existed when questioned by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) last Friday.
If you concur with those talking points, please help the cause by taking these specific action steps before 1 PM Tuesday if at all possible. 1. Call Speaker Thom Tillis at 919-733-3451 AND send email to Thom.Tillis@ncleg.net 2. Call and email your local Representative. (They say that 20 calls to a local Rep from his/her local constituents can rattle their cage.
We need them so concerned that they will go to Tillis and ask for amendments.
3. Forward this to as many like-minded friends as you can by early Tuesday, 4/23. We need calls and emails to be received Monday afternoon and evening and Tuesday all day (preferably before the House meets at 1 PM).
TALKING POINTS - READ BEFORE CALLING OR CONTACTING REPRESENTATIVES!
The problem with using expired licenses is discussed in detail in the document that follows these points:
1. Homeland Security regulations require an unexpired ID for financial transactions and for air travel. The ballot box deserves the same level of security.
2. Proof of US citizenship is required for all NCDLs issued after February 2006, but any license that expired before then and was not renewed is probably tied to an undocumented alien who has no right to vote in this country. The law should prevent that type of voter. This law would encourage them to return to NC and to vote.
3. While we could support expired licenses for elderly people who never intend to drive again, granting the same exception to every person invites fraud.
4. A simple solution would be to eliminate all forms of ID other than an unexpired NCDMV product, a US passport or a military ID card and let all other voters file an affidavit with a biometric (photo or fingerprint) just as larger banks already require.
5. Could we at least set a standard as high as that of Mexico and every other developed nation when it comes to "real" voter ID? 6. House Leadership is out of touch with the voters if they are not willing to fix this bill.
Thanks again for supporting this vital issue. Other than our 2nd Amendment rights, we cannot think of anything more fundamental to our state's freedom, so the time to apply pressure is upon us.
This is an important message from Jay DeLancy, the head of Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina.
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement of this issue, that is so near and dear to our organization.
By now, you've probably heard news that the NC House is on the verge of passing a voter ID bill (HB 589), but we've been watching the bill and it has severe problems that need the right kind of pressure on Legislators in order to motivate corrective behavior. For example, the current voter ID bill has provisions that will facilitate fraudulent voting in two major ways.
We first need to have our State House amend the legislation to deny use of expired NCDMV products of any ID cards produced beyond DMV or the Federal government.
Specifically, the law says:
"§ 163-166.13. (e) As used in this section, "photo identification" means any of the following that contain a photograph of the registered voter:
(1) An identification card that bears either a date of expiration or a date of issuance and that is not more than 10 years beyond the date of expiration or issuance, whichever is later, issued by a branch, department, agency, or entity of the United States, this State, or any other state, such as any of the following:
a. A North Carolina drivers license issued under Article 2 of Chapter 20 of the General Statutes, including a learner's permit or a provisional license.
b. A special identification card for nonoperators issued under G.S. 20-37.7."
c. A United States passport.
d. An employee identification card.
e. A United States military identification card.
f. An identification card issued by The University of North Carolina or its constituent institutions.
g. An identification card issued by a North Carolina community college.
h. An identification card issued to a fireman, EMS, hospital employee, or law enforcement officer.
i. An identification card issued by a unit of local government, public authority, or special district, all as defined in G.S.159-7.
j. An identification card issued for a government program of public assistance.
VIP-NC is a trans-partisan, volunteer organization that works for "free and fair elections" by bringing more transparency to the process in order to ensure that no voters are disenfranchised. The group uses database analysis to detect irregularities in the voting records that could suggest patterns of fraud. Their research has included embarrassing the NC State Board of Elections with a discovery of almost 30,000 deceased persons still on the voter rolls; more than a hundred people who voted in the 2008 election and then later proved to the Wake County Clerk of Courts that they were not US citizens; and (most recently) 33 people who appeared to have voted in both Florida and NC for the 2012 November election-five of whom were identified by election officials for prosecution.
We will gather at the Auditorium, Legislative Building on Jones Street, Raleigh, NC at 11:30 am to show support of pro-life legislation.
We also have the use of the tables in the 1100 and 1200 courts in the Legislative Building. In addition to our NCRTL booth in the court, other groups like pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and groups that have a pro-life component are being invited to have a table which can be only educational in nature, no lobbying activity whatsoever. The groups will have the use of the space from 9:00 am to 12 Noon.
We will use the auditorium at the top of the red carpeted stairs (located just inside the front doors to the Legislative Building) to assemble at 11:30 am. At 2:00 or 2:30 as the session begins, the group will sit together in the Gallery so our numbers can be seen by the General Assembly.
The pro-abortion groups had 200 at a rally last week and we need that many prolifers, ideally many more than that. So, please begin now advertising and inviting fellow pro-lifers to come to Raleigh on that day.
I will also need to know how many are planning to come in order to prepare enough packets, etc. Those who can come should plan to come in one car, van, or bus since parking is at a premium. This event is as important as going up for the March for Life in January so consider planning a bus trip to Raleigh.
Those that can not come to Raleigh should be encouraged to call their House and Senate member on April 23. The message should be: "I support the pro-life bills that have been introduced and ask you to support the pro-life bills them also." Our web site will have the pro-life bills listed as they are introduced.
More specific information will be given in subsequent emails to you after the deadlines for bills to be introduced have passed.
As more information becomes available, I will get it to you. If you have any questions, suggestions, etc., please email me. Thank you for your help in making this event a success.
President, North Carolina Right to Life, Inc.
Greensboro, NC 27429-0282
On the heels of tax day, the next piece of legislation on the Senate floor will be one that allows states to tax businesses that aren’t even within their borders. This bill would allow states to tax online sales from companies in other states, shifting the tax collection burden onto out-of-state businesses. It’s a bad, convoluted policy and one free market advocates should oppose.
The so-called Marketplace Fairness Act has serious logistical, economic and constitutional flaws. Even the Supreme Court has ruled that states can’t tax companies that aren’t located in their borders and don’t have a sufficient nexus (such as a distribution center). The cost of complying with the Internet sales tax would be an enormous burden on businesses, especially small businesses.
To make matters worse, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is fast-tracking the bill to the Senate floor in order to limit debate. Senators haven’t even held a committee hearing yet. Bills of this magnitude should go through to the normal committee process—not rushed to the Senate floor.
State Policy Manager
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Prosperity® (AFP) is a nationwide organization of citizen leaders committed to advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and scope of government is the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth, and returning government to its constitutional limits. AFP has more than 2,300,000 members, including members in all 50 states, and 34 state chapters and affiliates. More than 95,000 Americans in all 50 states have made a financial investment in AFP or AFP Foundation. For more information, visitwww.americansforprosperity.org
One Boston Massacre terrorist is dead, under suspicious circumstances. We saw the second terrorist—Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—literally shut down an entire metropolitan area for over twenty-four hours. And now he’s under lock and key, whisked away from the public eye.
America saw what martial law looked like as light-armored tanks roamed the streets and hundreds of special forces conducted a house-to-house search, looking for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, apparently a punk kid.
Except martial law was never declared. Except America wondered: if one nineteen-year-old kid could shut down an entire metropolitan area, what could a small contingent of al-Qaeda jihadis do? Was this the future of America under a President who declared in 2008 that he would make peace with the Muslim world? What exactly is going on? Is there some type of cover-up? Why was the initial suspect (the Saudi national Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi’s) apartment searched? Why was he declared a “person of interest,” then suddenly widely reported to be being deported, to which ICE stated the information was “categorically false.” Janet Napolitano, in afiery exchangeduring congressional hearings, refused to answer whether the information was true or not.
CCTA Watchdog Report North Carolina Legislative Report- April 18, 2013
This will be a single-issue State Watchdog Subcommittee report. Many of us are very worried about Common Core. We are getting conflicting information, and much of it sounds horrible. How do we separate fact from fiction? If what we suspect to be true is, how do we stop it?
I spent some time on the North Carolina General Assembly website this afternoon, then emailed Representative Michael Speciale. Michael called a short while later, and we talked. I want to tell you about it.
Michael is one of the four primary sponsors of House Bill 733 with the short title, Common Core Standards Study. (You can read it by going to www.ncga.state.nc.us, putting in the bill number and pressing, "Go." It's less than three pages long and is very easy to read.)
In summary, it establishes a committee to study the Common Core State Standards and sets out 25 things to be studied and answered about them. Some of the things to be checked into include cost, expected results (including evidence that the use of a common or national curriculum in other countries directly leads to high academic achievement), public school student data collection and dissemination and access, plus what impact there will be on charter and other schools.
The study committee is to make interim reports to the General Assembly when they convene in 2014 and 2015, and a final report when they convene in 2016.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education on April 11th.
As you can imagine, I had a bunch of questions which I sent to Michael in an email. Shortly thereafter, he called. Bless him.
Michael is confident the bill will come out of the Education Committee and be sent to the House floor for a vote. He is also confident that it will get passed this session.
Michael acknowledges that many other states are making moves to pull out of Common Core, but he believes there is too much mis-information both pro and con to take that route. He believes the appropriate approach is to weed out fact from fiction, find out what actual policy is, what the documentation says, etc.
As Michael says, "Facts don't lie." When we have them, the appropriate action will be hard to deny. We'll go forward, or we'll reverse course. He believes the study committee may develop enough documented information prior to their deadline so that a decision can be made prior to 2016.
Frankly, all my instincts are telling me that Common Core Standards are a disaster, but I do understand that there is a raging controversy, and it's difficult to ascertain that the "facts" one has are indeed true, so the approach Michael is taking is logical. It also has the advantage that, if my instincts turn out to be correct, people whose instincts are telling them the exact opposite will be hard pressed to mount a logical campaign against withdrawing if strongly researched facts show Common Core to be harmful. We need to be patient and let this play itself out in a sensible fashion.
In the meantime, it's probably a good idea for us to learn as much as we can about Common Core. What is it exactly? Who developed it? What degree of input did the States actually have? What part has the U.S. Department of Education played (a department that needs to be abolished because the Constitution does not give the federal government any responsibilities for education)? What is the extent of the data that will be gathered about students and their families, and what will be done with it? Why is this data to be gathered?
CCTA WATCHDOG REPORT FOR NEW BERN BOARD OF ALDERMEN BUDGET WORK SESSION OF 16 APRIL 2013
Alderman Taylor opened the work session by extending condolences and requesting the Board, audience members & the public offer the same for the victims and families of the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing as well as the race participants, the residents and the city of Boston, MA. He asked for 30 seconds of silent expression of sympathies.
The purpose of tonight's meeting is to discuss appropriation requests not considered contractual in nature.
Prior to this meeting, each organization desiring funding was required to file paperwork including their request, financial reports and tax returns. Two organizations that requested and received funds last fiscal year, Allies for Cherry Point and the Highway 17 Association, will now be categorized and funded under a new budget line item labeled "Lobbying".
At the Feb 16, 2013 BOA Retreat, the Board had discussed funding only those organizations who had been so awarded last fiscal year as well as capping the funding amounts to these groups at the current grant level.
1. Craven Arts Council: Awarded last FY2013 = $4,123. Asking for FY2014 = $10,000. Their paperwork states the basis for this request is to fund the hiring of one employee by Sep 2013 for a period of one year, which is stipulated by another grant they receive, the "Main Street Solutions Grant". The Arts Council believes the money they earn from the sales generated from their expanded gift shop will eventually provide this amount requested this year of the City in the future.
Carol Tokarski, Executive Director, and Jim Bisbee (catalyst for the Empty Bowls fundraiser) made the presentations on behalf of Craven Arts Council. Mr. Bisbee stated their request would be made in two parts: (1) request the Board provide direction and help plan and implement a public arts policy that states the philosophy for including the arts within the community, identifies display locations, develops criteria for acceptance of projects/performances, outlines info needed in writing proposals, and identifies avenues to reassign art that is to be recycled out of public display in order to encourage and ensure the public's participation in the arts and be inclusive of all the city's diverse communities, provide aesthetics throughout the City and partner with the City to establish, illustrate and promote the New Bern brand as an eastern NC cultural center; and (2) request funds and present the purposes the funds were to be used for. Ms Tokarski stated they would need the money to help with renovations for their new building they expect to move into by Sep 2013 and to grow to make New Bern the cultural destination it can be. They are running a $240,000 budget. Last year's surplus of only $3,000 was the lowest they've ever had. The Board was excited to work with the Arts Council to convene a diverse task force to accommodate visual and performance arts especially to showcase the huge talent within the City. Ald Kinsey suggested the Council finds ways to incorporate the City's history with their community projects. Ms. Tokarski stated that was one of the Council's goals with their neighborhood art projects.
Just one example of this type project is the Dominican Artists Mural Project adventure that the Arts Council took on with the aid of the City. This mural project had a powerful effect of bringing together a diversity of neighborhoods and cultures with the idea of helping a neighborhood working to reinvent itself. The Council is anticipating working on a similar project this year for the Renaissance Gateway of Duffyfield. Alderman White remarked that as the schools were cutting arts programs, which he felt were very important to both student and community, perhaps this City-Council task force would help in making up for that cut and eventually serve as a catalyst for reinstituting arts within the schools. All the Board members agreed.
2. Friends of the Firemen's Museum: Awarded last FY2013 = $41,225. Asking for FY2014 = $50,000.Their paperwork states no purpose for the requested funds.
Bill Frederick, Chairman, made the presentation. Mr. Frederick gave a brief history of the development of the museum. He stated that its uniqueness was that that the City owned everything in it and that people in the past had the foresight to save all the now-valuable antiquities. The reason the Museum was legally made into a LLC was to allow it to submit grant requests and receive their funds. Over the recent years, appx $300,000 has been raised and spent to allow the Museum to arrive at the progress it has to date. The Friends will use the City grant to finish the new building. He gave an expensing of the remaining finishing touches to be procured along with their costs. All items cost in the tens of thousands of dollars each. In the next six weeks, the Friends will conduct a capital fund drive. The museum needs about $200K more for them to open within the next six months. Alderman Taylor expressed a desire to see more featuring of the African-American firemen. Both Alderman Bengel and Mr. Frederick stated the museum Board as well as a Ms. Mary Peterkin had extensively researched that part of the history, specifically the George Street Negro Company. In fact, Ms. Peterkin had sent out requests for information, artifacts or photographs to all parts of that community in order to include that very important part of the NBFD and the City's history, but it had produced few results. Ald. Bengel says the Museum welcomes any assistance to that end that Ald Taylor can provide. The Friends have been able to dedicate half of the building to house the historical documents/photos/artifacts to showcase the 1922 fire. There is an interactive display that shows the addresses within the Duffyfield community of the residents displaced as a result of that fire event. Aldermen Bengel, Bucher and Outlaw have served on the Board as well as participated in many activities and projects that have gotten to Fire Museum to its present state.
3. Greater Duffyfield Residents Council: Awarded last FY2013 = $10,000. Asking for FY2014 = $10,000. The Greater Duffyfield Residents Council (GDRC) is an organized effort between residents, concerned citizens, faith-based institutions, youth, businesses, public agencies, and law enforcement. GDRC is committed to building an environmentally, socially, economically, and culturally sound community. Their paperwork states the purposes of their request to be further improvement of the ('K' Street) Community Garden, increasing the educational components of and city-wide participation in, the DUFFEST, and to support National Night Out Activities. (Reporter's note: no other city Community Watch neighborhood has solicited funding for National Night Out Activities as of this date. Perhaps we may later learn that other neighborhoods request funding from other City budget sources such as the Community Development pot of $3,454.00 or their respective alderman's ward appropriation pot of $1,000.00 per.) The chairman states that this Council is not a 501(c)3, therefore they have not submitted a tax return per the City's requirements.
Jamara Wallace, Chair, made the presentation along with Master Gardener Jennifer Knight, who lends her services via Faith Connections, and Mr. Elijah Brown, the Home Ownership and Investment Worthiness Chairperson.
The Council's flagship project was the expansion of the Community Garden into a Phase 2 co-op. Ms. Jennifer Knight gave a detailed brief on this successful and expanding garden. The Council has been working with the staff from the City Public Works Dept to mitigate the flooding issues by designing plans for a rain garden and a plot to grow a native NC 'Carolina Gold' rice garden. This rain garden will also provide a reservoir during drought events. There are also plans to carve out space to design as a meditation garden. It is working with the cooperative extension to hold cooking demos using the garden's produce. Part of the City grant will be used to purchase a sign announcing and describing the Phase 2. The Community Garden's purpose is to promote a healthy lifestyle and eating habits. Produce from the garden was used to feed the artists from the Craven Arts Council when they were creating the Dominican Artists Mural Project. The Council's plans for the garden's future are to promulgate fruit trees and a build a covered shelter.
A second component of the organization is the PALS Initiatives (Positive Attitude & Leadership) which include the City-wide National Night Out participation by the residents and their Community Watch groups, housing ownership workshops and a bully-free back to school program and message to reach the demographics that most need it. The goal of the housing workshops is to entice people to invest in the Duffyfield Community then assist them or other potential residents in becoming educated in saving for and purchasing the real estate, then maintaining their home. The coordinator, Mr. Elijah Brown, stated he works with Habitat for Humanity, Neuse River Development Council, HUD, and the City's Sue Steinhauser, Community Development Coordinator, in order to help people of his community find decent housing. He also coordinates with other city property owners to recycle building materials that are cast off from their home improvements or constructions in order to help community residents either build dwellings or make repairs to current structures.
The third most important activity of the Council is the putting on of the DuffFest. Although she did not speak, Ms. Nanette Cobb was present in her current capacity as DuffFest Coordinator. She has also served as the Coordinator for the last 2 years. Last May 12, 2012, the festival hosted 4,000 attendees. The purpose of the festival is not only to offer pleasurable activities but it hosts educational booths addressing various issues such as healthcare screenings and preparing children for school. It wishes to attempt to move this year to the Broad Street corridor to entice broader city participation.
The aldermen said they were impressed with the presentation. The main concerns of Alderman Outlaw and Bengel are that the Council used a check register copy of their debits & credits vice a typical budget allocation statement. They would like to see a breakdown of how the City grant money was used last year and for this year. Mr. Wallace volunteers that while they submitted a 2013 budget to the City Manager prior to this work session, he sees that not all Board members have one this evening. Ald Taylor states he has a copy. Mr. Wallace says he can make a copy for them from his after the meeting. Ald Taylor says the Council is not trying to hide anything then begins to explain how last year's $10,000 grant was spent: $3,500 went to the Residents Council and $6,500 was used to put on DuffFest, which will be $200 to $300 over-budget. The Community Garden expense comes out of the Residents Council funds. $8,896 of the City grant was spent last year. Cash contributions toward the Council totaled $4,415 and there was $13,290 worth of in-kind contributions. Ald. Taylor goes on to say "that's $7 thousand dollars over what the Council asked for. Therefore, the Residents Council is putting work into this. We're not just coming to the City for a handout; you see we're working too." Ald Bucher is concerned that they need to find a signature fund raising event vice working so hard for so little on many small fund raising events. Mr. Wallace responds that they've hired a Public Relations person to hopefully help develop such.
At the very end of tonight's work session, and in response to Ald. Outlaw's critique of the Council's recordkeeping practices, Ald. Taylor reveals that the Community Development Council (CDC) will no longer be the CPA for the Greater Duffyfield Residents Council as of June 30, 2013. They are currently seeking a new CPA.
4. Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corp.: Awarded last FY2013 = $45,348. Asking for FY2014 = $50,000. Their paperwork states no intended purpose for the money to be used.
Susan Moffat-Thomas, Executive Director, and Bob Mattocks, Chairman, and Cindy Turco of the Executive Committee were present to make the presentation. Mr. Mattocks noted city staff by name who were serving on Swiss Bear's Board: Jeff Ruggieri (Dir Development Services), Mike Epperson (NB City Mgr), Ald. Bengel, and Public Works Dept Dir Mark Stephens.
He stated that this year, emphasis had been put on ensuring the sustainability of the organization after Susan Moffat Thomas is gone, in areas of leadership and financial security. Like most non-profits they are currently operating in a deficit. In planning for the future, they have updated the by-laws over the past 6 months. It has solicited an expert advisor from NC State University, at no cost. (Should the public desire more detailed info, this action was chronicled in the NB Sun Journal on 3-21-13 at this linkhttp://www.newbernsj.com/news/business/ncsu-professor-advises-swiss-bear-board-on-sustainability-plan-1.115367). Mr. Mattocks mentions that not only is their annual Mum Fest a major fundraiser for the Swiss Bear, but the festival also provides a venue for other non-profits to conduct fundraising through setting up their booths. Two months ago at the Gateway Renaissance meeting, the recreating of the historic fountain project at the intersection of Pollock and Queen streets was mentioned as the possibility of the opening endeavor for the Gateway Plan. Swiss Bear is highly interested in assisting the City in making that project a reality. All the City needs to do is tell Swiss what parts of the plan it wishes them to execute. Also, in an effort to help the City with the Wayfinding Signs project, Swiss Bear has invited Hugh Overholt and the DoT to partner with Swiss Bear on this, as they have access to special funds that may be available to assist in the execution of this project.
Ms. Moffat-Thomas states the Swiss Bear views their organization as a partner of the City. As such, it is working with the City in the branding New Bern activities. She says she and the group are excited about the Gateway Renaissance Plan and sees opportunities for common projects to help the City realize the Plan, specifically mentioning turning the old Days Inn Motel into an empowerment center. She continues, "New Bern is one of the most successful revitalization examples in the State. One can't expect local government to take care of everything. Swiss Bear and others are working together with local government, and has all the talent of individuals in different organizations which allows New Bern to accomplish so much together with the City in the 35 years of our being here. We are recognized throughout the State for this model and the success it brings. Ald Kinsey asks Ms. Moffat-Thomas if Swiss Bear has given any thoughts toward helping other local organizations with the techniques of successful fundraising as they have demonstrated so successfully how it is done. She responds that they are happy to share whatever services that are helpful to those organizations and to the City. In response to Ald Kinsey's question regarding new projects, Ms. Moffat-Thomas outlines some of the new attractions coming to Mum Fest, such as a California Pogo Stick demo team, a Pirate Ship, and a Bicycle Riding Group which raises money for cancer research wants to end their tour in New Bern at the Mum Fest. The NB Mall wants to get involved with incorporating a judged Art Show & Contest, in addition to continuing to provide parking for shuttle services to the festival.
City Mgr Epperson interjects some levity by saying that "the City wants to make sure before discussion goes further, that the City says 'yes' to accepting Swiss Bear's offer to procuring the Gateway Fountain".
It should be noted that all groups were afforded about the same amount of time for their presentations, approximately 40 minutes each. The final portion of the work session was devoted to the Board's discussion of making public and transparent the decisions made at its Feb 16, 2013 Retreat regarding the special appropriations line item. Unfortunately they spend about 5 minutes talking about these plans while the Swiss Bear Corp is still present at the conference table, which lends to some awkwardness & Swiss Bear questioning whether they need to be present for these deliberations. Mayor Bettis apologizes, thanks the group for their presentation and generosity of partnering activities and the Swiss Bear members depart.
The Board continues with City Mgr Epperson saying that for all who are watching or listening, there's a place or opportunity for anyone to participate. The requirements that the groups expressed a need for this year are more than what was in the budget in the past. The only group that was increased last year was the Greater Duffyfield Residents Council. The City has current funding levels to provide for this evening's requests, but needs the Board's direction as to what they wish for the exact awards to be, taking into considerations their discussions at the Retreat.
Mayor Bettis asks if the Board is going to doing an in-depth discussion of the appropriate level of and justifications for its funding awards now, at this work session. Mr. Epperson reminds the Board of the future budget meetings' dates and distinguishes whether these next 3 meetings are for overview, planning or final presentation. He also offers the significant fact that "the City has a $1.7 million gap, but obviously we will present you a balanced budget". He states that the first Board budget workshop on May 21st @ 6 pm will be spent on special appropriations and the second workshop on May 23r @ 6 pm will be devoted to the general fund items. Ald Kinsey has a question on whether the Board wants the Highway 17 Association and the Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow (ACT) to come before them and make their presentations for funding requests. Ald Bengel reminds that the Board had decided to look at those two differently. Mr. Epperson says those presentations may be offered or not at the Board's discretion. Mayor Bettis says they should give the special appropriations organizations from tonight a lot of thought which they deserve. He says "the Board's policy discussions and deliberations should be spoken in public". Mr. Epperson reminds the Board that at the Retreat they said that Hwy 17 Association and ACT were to be removed to another line item and you have their materials but they're not required to appear before you. Ald Outlaw asks if Epperson or others are going to make the public aware that the Hwy 17 Association and ACT are under a different budget category. If so, then Epperson should explain the reasons for that on the City 3 TV PEG channel. Mr. Epperson explains that since they serve a different purpose they are considered as advocating or lobbying groups. The decision was to treat them differently so that's why they were not invited to be present tonight. Ald Outlaw says he remembers previously talking at last year's budget meetings about how private groups can often do things better than the city. The City can't duplicate the efforts and activities of either Hwy 17 or ACT, which is why the City needs them. Ald Bucher says 6 - 8 months ago he "found himself on the ACT legislative committee" and all chuckle. "I attended my first meeting this week". He agrees with Ald Outlaw. He continues, saying "I don't know of a more important group or purpose right now to support. The new Obama budget calls for a BRAC and we need to be prepared. South Carolina is ahead of NC in funding. SC already has $200,000 in their budget, there's zero in the NC state budget. There will be bases closed". He finds that strange in light of the fact that NC has many more military bases than SC. Mayor Bettis offers that the reason SC is ahead of NC in fundraising is because Charleston suffered a BRAC; they learned their lessons so they prepared this time. Ald Bucher says, "NC has far more bases at stake. It's the economic engine in our state". Ald Bengel says she agrees with the Board's proposal to have these two groups separated out of special appropriations. Mayor Bettis tells the others, "Look at this budget", then asks, "Are these the dollars numbers we want city staff to go forward with?" Ald Outlaw says "we volunteered to offer an audit of the Fire Museum. Tonight, tax exempt organizations that gave tax returns is a good check and balance. I have mixed feelings in going much further tonight. I would still like to see an audit on all the organizations. DuffFest concerns me a little because they didn't offer a beginning and ending balance. I realize it's new and hasn't been around as long. Plus, checks are being written under the City for a significant period of time. If it's (the DuffFest) moved to Queen or Broad (streets) the $10,000 can be justified. I have concerns with the accounting of the Duffyfield group."
Ald. Bengel states she really wants to take the time to digest all the information they've heard tonight. She asks Epperson if his recommended budget is for last year's figures. City Mgr Epperson says 'yes'. Ald Bengel says again that she wants to digest tonight's information. Ald. White says, that as he told Ald Bucher earlier, since the dollar amount asked for by ACT is $14,200, he wants to talk about ACT at some point. Ald. Bucher reiterates that the City gave ACT $4,123 last year and this year they want $14,200. He explains that ACT came up with that number based on the population counts of each local town in its proximity that the base impacts. The ACT has also solicited the counties to contribute. Ald Bengel asked how the county figures were calculated. Ald Bucher responded the population numbers for the towns were subtracted from the counties' recorded population data. He says that all of ACT's budget is derived strictly from donations. In order to accomplish the appropriate Washington DC lobbying to ensure success they need a strong budget. Each town was assigned an amount to donate based on a percentage of the $200,000 required ACT budget multiplied by their population. He says they should talk about this vital funding to the ACT when the Board members are fresh and not 2 ½ hours into a meeting. Ald Kinsey says careful deliberations are important for all the organizations, that the Board members must consider their presentations and the numbers they're asking for. He just wants the public to understand the basis for their decisions and the processes undertaken to make the City budget and to decide on amounts to award. Mayor Bettis asks, "Are you okay with Mr. Epperson's numbers?" Ald Kinsey says he is fine with last year's numbers going to the organizations. He thinks the $14,200 for ACT is justified. Ald Taylor addresses Ald Outlaw and wishes him to understand that as of June 30, 2013 the CDC will no longer be the fiscal agent for Duffyfield Residents Council, they are looking for another CPA. City Mgr Epperson calls on Finance Dept Dir Fiachetti to make any comments - he says he has none at this time.