Friday, May 31, 2013

CENSURED: Craven Co. GOPers have some choice words for The Speaker

The Daily Haymaker
May 30, 2013

The executive committee of the Craven County Republican Party has voted to issue a letter of censure against state House Speaker Thom Tillis.

I asked a veteran NCGOP activist and current member of the state GOP executive committee for his two cents on the matter, and here is what he offered up:

This is probably the most serious, the most severe, punitive action a county party organization can take against a party member. This is not something done — or taken — lightly.

Neither this source, nor any of the other GOPers I spoke with, could recall something like this happening previously. The closest thing was the state executive committee’s decision to kick Richard Morgan out of the party circa 2004.

What’s got these folks in Craven County so steamed? They tell us in their letter to NCGOP chairman Robin Hayes:

•The Speaker interfered in at least three 2012 Republican Primaries in eastern North Carolina.
In North Carolina House District 6, Speaker Tillis gave support to a former Democrat turned New Republican candidate. Mr. Tillis also supported a former Democrat in the Republican Primary in North Carolina Senate District 2. Finally, Mr. Tillis manipulated the Senate District 1 race by encouraging a then current House member to run for Senate but ultimately supported the House member’s Democrat-turned-Republican opponent. Unfortunately, Speaker Tillis has stated he will be involved in future Primaries.

•Speaker Tillis weakened many of the provisions in the Voter I.D. bill.

•The Speaker has taken liberal positions on legislation including Interstate Toll HOT Lanes, Ferry Tolls, and the protection of Telecommunication monopolies at the expense of smaller “free market” competitors. These positions are contrary to the economic liberties championed by the Republican Party.

•The Speaker supports HB 983 (Game Fish Bill).
This Bill will threaten the tradition of commercial fishing, cause wasteful “bycatch” as fisherman are forced to dispose of these new Game Fish, and harm the associated seafood industry. One of the ironies of this Bill is that we will initially use taxpayer money to subsidize commercial fishermen forced out of business by this Bill. Our state’s Republican Party platform reflects a position of less Government regulation on private businesses, and this Bill is contrary to that philosophy.

I also spoke with a veteran activist with the Craven County GOP — who asked not to be named in this post:


Could the Obama Administration’s Next Scandal Be Brewing at the EPA?

May 30, 2013

With the continued Benghazi investigation, IRS political targeting and DOJ press surveillance, could a scandal at the EPA be the next shoe to droop for the Obama administration?

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) been closely following the EPA’s misuse of private communication to conduct public business, and fees the agency has placed on conservative groups seeking information that they usual waive for media and watchdog groups. After successfully gaining access to former EPA Chief Lisa Jackson’s emails, CEI is now suing to gain access to the text messages of Gina McCarthy, the senior EPA official the President has nominated to now run the agency.

CEI’s Chris Horner joined “Wilkow” Thursday to discuss his organization’s request to access text messages sent by Jackson and McCarthy, and what they’re looking for.

“Where are these text messages? Are they really engaging in serial, coordinated, systematic document destruction in violation of criminal law?” he asked. “Because I have an affidavit in one of my lawsuits from NASA admitting that they are. OK, so this is not far-fetched, this is rather near-fetched.”

Horner noted that McCarthy is being promoted to an “enormous budget” and “enormous responsibility” and there are questions that need to be answered.

He went on: “The bigger issue the EPA is going to have to answer is: Are you just in contempt of Congress and violating the law by refusing to turn things over? Or are you really serially and systematically destroying records?”

“If so, these consequences have to go beyond people resigning to end the issue — we have to have real consequences because these are not their records, they’re ours,” Horner concluded.


Islamic Radicalism (and Other Things) Could Soon Be Cured: Neuroscientist’s Bold Claim

May 31, 2013

Radical extremism has proven itself to be a difficult — and deadly — anomaly to combat, which is why a leading neuroscientist’s recent claim that it may soon be possible to “cure” Islamic radicals, cultists and others with negative views and behaviors is raising eyebrows.

Kathleen Taylor, a research scientist at the University of Oxford, made the bold proclamation while speaking at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales, The Times reports.

Taylor said that extreme and negative beliefs can be targeted with some new techniques that are being developed and tested. Hitting children was also mentioned as another behavior that could possibly be treated using these elements.

“One man’s positive can be another man’s negative,” she said, according to the Times. “One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated.”

Here’s how the Daily Mail recaps some of Taylor’s other comments:

‘Somebody who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology — we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance.’

‘In many ways that could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage, that really do a lot of harm. [...]

‘I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults.

‘I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children.

‘These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorised as mental illness.’


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

North Carolina Fusion Center – A Global Approach To A State Response


May 20, 2013

From the Department of Homeland Security:

State and major urban area fusion centers (fusion centers) are owned and operated by state and local entities, and are designated by the governor of their state. In accordance with the Federal Resource Allocation Criteria (RAC) policy, which defines objective criteria and a coordinated approach for prioritizing the allocation of federal resources to fusion centers, the federal government recognizes these designations and has a shared responsibility with state and local governments to support the national network of fusion centers.

The following includes the list of primary and recognized fusion centers (associated contact information). Primary fusion centers serve as the focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information and have additional responsibilities related to the coordination of critical operational capabilities across the statewide fusion process with other recognized fusion centers. Furthermore, primary centers are the highest priority for the allocation of available federal resources, including the deployment of personnel and connectivity with federal data systems.

The North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAAC) in Raleigh is our Fusion Center.

How to Report Terrorism in North Carolina:   The public is our first line of defense in keeping North Carolina safe. You can help by reporting suspicious persons, objects, or behaviors.

Community safety can be jeopardized by terrorist attacks, gangs, identity theft, drug activity, or attacks on public services and utilities,

Take an active role in community safety. Be aware of suspicious packages. If you do not recognize the return address or have other questions, contact the SBI or local law enforcement.

Terrorists and criminals often display similar characteristics, such as being overly dedicated to a cause and willing to give their lives for it, and unaffected by the consequences of their actions.

I would like to repeat the last sentence from our North Carolina DHS Fusion Center:

Terrorists and criminals often display similar characteristics, such as being overly dedicated to a cause and willing to give their lives for it, and unaffected by the consequences of their actions.

Now let’s review the closing statement from the Declaration of Independence:   PLEASE CONTINUE READING:

RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Thom Tillis, NCGA’s heavy-handed traffic cop

by Brant Clifton • April 30, 2013

In the run-up to the 2010 elections, we heard a lot of sob stories from NCGA Republicans about how heavy-handed and unfair the Democrats were to them when they ran the legislature. A Republican legislator from Cabarrus County has stepped forward to shed some light on how House leaders are badgering conservatives and helping to water down conservative initiatives.

Rep. Larry Pittman (R) made his remarks at a recent Tea Party meeting in his district (fast forward the linked video to about the 12:00 minute mark).

Some of the more interesting revelations from Pittman’s remarks:

Apparently, the speaker’s office has a color-coding system they apply to bills before sending them to committees for discussion. ”Red” means the bill is going NOWHERE. ”Yellow” means its going nowhere FOR NOW. ”Green” means Speaker Thom approves wholeheartedly. Pittman said all of his efforts to reform the state’s concealed carry law and protect the Second Amendment are currently coded “Yellow.”

Remember the whole “official religion” hoopla? Pittman gave an interesting inside take on the affair. He told the crowd the bill’s sponsor realized he made some errors — in the wake of the initial publicity — and wanted to amend it to make it a whole lot more kosher. Pittman said THAT legislator was approached by ” a source close to the speaker” who told THAT legislator he needed to cease and desist with the bill or his future legislative endeavors will NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER see the light of day. It’s nice to see that an unelected hack pulling in a taxpayer-supplied salary bullying an elected representative of the people. I guess all that talk about never going back to the iron-fisted dictatorial ways of Richard Morgan, Jim Black, and Marc Basnight was just THAT — talk.

Pittman told his audience that many decisions within the House majority are made in light of Speaker Thom’s upcoming Senate campaign. Legislators are seriously and frequently told to back off certain tactics that might cause problems for the Senator-in-Waiting. Wow. The lower chamber of our state legislature has been morphed into an arm of the Tillis for Senate campaign.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Benghazi and Obama's Ambition to Be U.N. SecGen

American Thinker
May 25, 23013
by James Lewis

Washington rumor has it that Obama wants to be U.N. Secretary General.

There are several reasons that make that likely, and if it's true, it throws new light on a lot of Obama's oddities -- including his Royalty Bows, his Apology Tours, his Muslim Sellout, and the Benghazi Cover-Up.

But first -- why would Obama be planning to become the chief of the U.N. before he has even finished his second term?

1. Obama's unbounded ego.

In three and a half years, Obama will be out of a job. He is 50 now and wants to soar to greater heights, because that's what matters more than anything else in his life.

What's better to Obama's Napoleonic self than being U.N. Sec Gen? He is a man who wants to be worshiped by the world, and the path to that goal is clear. It is also an opportunity to carry out his internationalist and pro-Muslim convictions.

Personalities like his need the excitement of taking big risks for big gains. Obama's slogan "the audacity of hope" comes from Napoleon's general, who described his war strategy as "Audacity, audacity, always audacity!" Alinsky's Rules advise: "Always act outside of the experience of the enemy." It now looks like Obama has never won a single clean election, because he has always violated the rules. He always gambles, and as long as his opponents play by the rules, he wins.

Mitt Romney is a good and decent man, and IRS intimidation of political enemies is just not his way. Knowing that, the Obama campaign violated the rules deliberately, cynically, and with malice aforethought. It worked.

2. Obama's internationalist ideology.

The Communist anthem is The Internationale. When Obama gave his big speech in Berlin even before the first inauguration, his first words were "Citizens of the world!" That was meant as Marxist symbolism. All the leftists in the world cheered themselves hoarse.

Berlin was Marx's city, the capital of the Prussian Empire that was the model for the Communist Worker's Paradise, to be guided by the new Prussian Junkers, the Communist Party. "Citizens of the world!" was an echo of "Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!"

The American media didn't bother to tell us that, but they knew. They knew.

Obama constantly pulls stunts with obvious Marxist overtones. His inner circle laughs at his audacity, and he likes to clown it up for Valerie Jarrett, Michelle, Ayers, and Axelrod.

Obama is a trickster, power-hungry, insatiable, and sociopathic. His enemy is us, or what Jeremiah Wright would call "middleclassness," the values that most of us try to live by.

As a European Socialist, Obama does not believe in the U.S. Constitution. His appointees have no conscience about violating the Constitution, as is obvious from today's news about fundamental IRS violations, fundamental invasion of news reporters' privileges under the First Amendment, and fundamental violations of the ethics of combat commanders -- leaving soldiers under fire to the tender mercies of a vicious enemy.

Obama is audacity man -- violating decent values is his specialty. Bill and Hillary found that out when he played the race card against them at the 2008 Democratic Convention. Democrats always play the race card, but never against each other. In 2008, Obama violated that rule, and he got away with it.

3. Butt-kissing tyrants.

If Obama wants to run for U.N. SecGen after 2016, he needs two things: a U.S. nomination by a Democratic president and a majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly.

Let's say Hillary gets elected in 2016, as Democrats now are hoping. She nominates Obama to be U.N. SecGen, to rousing cheers from the New York Times and Washington Post, the U.K. Guardian, and Workers' World.

Now Obama needs a majority of U.N. General Assembly votes.

By butt-kissing every throwback tyrant in sight, Obama is buying U.N. votes for himself. Obama's public bows to throwbacks like Saudi's King Abdullah and the emperor of Japan are not just another weird thing about this guy. They are strategic, with the purpose of lining up support for the future.

There are 57 Muslim states. (Remember Obama's slip of the tongue when he talked about "all 57 states"? He wasn't thinking about Heinz 57 flavors. He was thinking about Muslim states.)

Europe is the home of imperialist socialism. The European Union is the successor to the Soviet Union, run by an appointed political machine just like the USSR. Obama is a EuroSoc, and he will get enthusiastic support from there.

South America will vote for him, because he is actively supporting leftist regimes below the border. Obama's recent trip to Mexico was full of bowing and scraping to Mexico's tender feelings about losing Texas and California in the 19th century. Blowing open the border is just another favor Obama is doing for Latin America.

If you combine his unbounded ego with his penchant for audacious trickery, it becomes clear why Obama would want to be U.N. Secretary General. To U.N.-worshipers, the SecGen is the basis for a world presidency. Even if it remains a weak position, it could be a wonderful bully pulpit for Obama's endless speech habit. It would crown Obama's life achievements and allow him to crow over the United States with its old-fashioned constitution designed to limit the powers of such as The Trickster.

President Obama could have used the Benghazi attack on 9/11 last year to look like the commander in chief, a role he loves to play. He could have allowed Air Force jets to strafe and bomb the gaggle of Ansar al Shari'a gunmen who overran the compound and killed what are now admitted to be six Americans, including Ambassador Stevens.

This might have been Obama's Heroic Capture of bin Laden, part 2.

When Obama skips a chance to boast and strut on the stage just before an election, we have to wonder why. He is not usually shy about putting himself in the limelight.

Michael Barone and Charles Krauthammer believe that Benghazi was covered up because Obama and Hillary were afraid to admit that al-Qaeda wasn't dead -- that AQ is very much alive, and dangerous as a snake.

On 9/11 last year, there were not one, but two simultaneous assaults on American targets: the Cairo Embassy and the Benghazi compound. The front pages that day showed the black AQ flag flying over a burned part of the U.S. Embassy. Double-simultaneous assaults are an al-Qaeda signature, as we know from 9/11/01, when the Pentagon was assaulted simultaneously with the Twin Towers. Double-bomb attacks spell AL-QAEDA.

Everybody in the Muslim world understood that on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11/01, AQ was telling the world it could strike us at any place and time. Bin Laden may be dead, but jihad keeps marchin' on.   CONTINUE READING:   Note:  CCTA is a non partisan organization.  We do not endorse any particular candidate or political party.  News items are presented for you the reader to help you become informed and reach your own conclusions.



This public budget work session is the final of the two budget work sessions to be held this week. Last opportunity for public participation is the regular BOA meeting of June 11, 2013 at 7pm. A public hearing regarding the budget will be held at this meeting. Then the Board's is slated to vote on approving it. Tonight's session began at 6pm by Mayor Pro Tem Bengel, with all aldermen present as well as City Manager Epperson, City Clerk Veronica Mattocks, and a substitute for City Attorney Davis. Also in attendance were the appropriate department heads and cognizant staff to discuss their particular office funding requirements and present explanation or justification. Mayor Bettis was absent by previous excuse conveyed to Mr. Epperson on May 10th. He has now missed a few (3) of the several (number as yet TBD) meetings he stated he would be absent from.

Mayor Pro Tem Bengel explained since the Tuesday night agenda had not been fully adjudicated, those items would be discussed and that meeting brought to a legal close via motions for adjourning. The Board would then open for tonight's meeting to discuss the budget items on this May 23rd agenda. I am primarily reporting discussion outside the parameters of the printed budget highlights. For those highlights as well as line item details, one may read from the city website at So, the Board began where it left off with...

e) Human Resources

i) Human Resources

* HR Director, Sonya Hayes explained to the Board her department needed to reinstate, as soon as possible, a position for $48K as well as the reasons behind that need, that being the administrative duties associated with benefits claims which will now include the new Affordable Health Care Act regulations.

* The Board chose this time to voice their concerns that this budget as it now stands is not plausible without at least a 2 to 3-cent tax increase - even without including the potential capital projects (City Hall elevator, new fire stations & their operational costs, merging the City and Police Dept IT functions). Alderman Outlaw broached the subject first, saying, "The main theme I am trying to get across that all seven elected officials should resonate is the truth that with this budget we are only putting off the tax increase one year if we do all these things. These are the type of things that should be funded based on projected good times in the future, good times that I do not see or predict for another 3-5 years from all indications".

* Reporter's Note: As Hal James mentioned in his May 23rd CCTA Watchdog Report of the County Commissioners budget workshops, the city budget has most of the similar line items that could be cut to help reign in the proposed $4.1 million increase in spending for this year: namely non-contractual Special Appropriations $100,696 (Fireman's Museum, Swiss Bear, Duffyfield Residents' Council, Craven Arts Council); Dues & Subscriptions $65,695 (does not include $14K of software subscription costs for utilities depts.): Community Development $10K; and matching dollars for grants $192,216. There's also a never-been-done-before proposed $60,000.00 loan program that is funded within the Electric Dept (our enterprise funds, again), for persons to use to make their homes more energy efficient. The city is partnering with CCA (Coastal Community Action) as it has the experience and expertise from adjudicating similar programs on its own. All the details have not been hammered out or released to the public as to the terms or qualifications to partake of this loan program. In austere years, many government entities and private industry alike cut their training & travel budgets. As training and travel were not discussed, I am not aware if those items have been pared down to the absolute essentials.

ii) Employees' Benefit Insurance Fund [OTHER FUNDS]

* Finance Director Fiaschetti stated that the city will need to address increasing unemployment compensation. The state will be passing down an unemployment compensation debt of $2.5 billion with the federal government due to the recession.

* Alderman Bucher asked if the city had looked into any changes in deductions. He said most companies have had to water down coverage - has the city looked into that? Mr. Epperson replied that the city has made significant changes as recent as last year - they are not proposing making any new benefit changes. They have aligned open season with the changing of the fiscal year which will give city staff and Board an opportunity to look at the entire picture when doing the budget from now on. Further, he reminded the Board that they did institute a wellness program which lowers health insurance costs. Alderman Bucher asked if dependents were covered. Ms. Hayes said "yes". Alderman Bucher asked as to the cost and Ms. Hayes responded $254.10 per months for a family of 4. Mr. Epperson stated that they have removed spouses who have coverage elsewhere.

* Mr. Epperson stated that the increases in this budget are due to capital catch-up such as vehicles and large industrial equipment, which causes a spike in budget. In contrast the on-going operational costs are flat. Alderman Bucher asked if we have this every year. He continued saying, it would be valuable to know the operations costs separate from the capital costs. Mr. Epperson stated that the capital costs for the replacement equipment have been delayed as long as it could. Alderman Outlaw asked for confirmation that there will be a plan for instituting the police cars on a systematic replacement plan and Mr. Epperson replied that was true - that he and Chief Summers are designing a plan. Alderman Outlaw also asked if city staff have also been trying to come up with additional wellness type programs for employees as a method for lower health insurance costs. Mr. Epperson said "yes", and they have been reviewing and discussing what else they can do to lower costs. He elaborated saying that the wellness programs require up-front costs; but with them come long-term paybacks over 3 - 5 years. One idea was to institute preventative screenings. (Note: there is a $4,974,009.00 difference between City of New Bern contributions and Employee contributions under the Employee Benefit Insurance heading in the FY2013/14 budget).

f) Parks and Recreation (6:31pm).
i) Parks and Recreation
ii) Recreation Grant [OTHER FUNDS - Grants]
g) Police
i) Police
ii) Emergency Telephone System Fund [OTHER FUNDS - E911]
iii) Police Special Revenue Fund [OTHER FUNDS]
iv) Police Grants [OTHER FUNDS - Grants]
h) Public Works
i) Public Works
ii) Public-Private Partnerships Fund [OTHER FUNDS]
i) Stormwater

3. Adjourn, then procedure to convene tonight's meeting.

May 23, 2013

1. (7:25pm) Discussions with City Manager and Management Team on Recommended FY 2013-14 Budget, in the following order:

a) Water [WATER FUND]

b) Sewer [SEWER FUND]
* Down $400,000.00 due to lower consumption by customers.
* Majority of Water & Sewer Funds budget is capital expenditures for equipment replacement due to end of life.

c) Electric [ELECTRIC FUND] (7:54pm)

i) Department of Public Utilities and Finance Department Sections
* Electric Dept Dir Jon Rynne stated that "revenues are down by $200,000.00 due to weather patterns as well as the economy which slows down consumption". Alderman Outlaw asked if the Electric Dept had obtained a security consultation in light of the upward trend of copper thefts. Mr. Rynne said "yes", and the City had employed the advised new security measures to include alarms, lighting and cameras.
*Under Electric Dept Distribution O&M, Mr. Rynne noted the $110,000.00 to spend for GIS mapping for underground and connectivity. This allows the department to more quickly respond and more accurately pinpoint where repairs need to be performed.
* $60,000.00 Under the Power Production Division for a new loan program for persons to use to make their homes more energy efficient.
* Under the divisions of Utility Billing, Customer Service and Utility Billing, supervised by Mr. Steve Anderson, there has been a combined $4,200.00 decrease in spending.

ii) Rate Stabilization Fund [OTHER FUNDS]
* The rate stabilization fund is the transfer from the electric enterprise fund to this rate stabilization fund. The city is anticipating an overall electric rate increase to the City of 3%. The $1,451,930.00 that has been transferred to this new fund from the Electric Fund will be used to absorb any rate increase coming down.

d) Capital Reserve funds (OTHER FUNDS)

i) Sewer

ii) Water

Recap of the 2 days of Budget Work Sessions (8:50pm)

City Manager Epperson began by stating that staff needed Board direction tonight on the funding amount for ACT a (Allies for Cherry Point's Tomorrow) and what to do about the Fire volunteers. The Board decided to add $10K to the $4,123.00 (So ACT will receive $14,123) and to consolidate the Volunteer Firefighters budget with the Fire Dept budget. For the regular BOA meeting on May 28th, Mr. Epperson stated he would be presenting the ordinance to update the city fees schedule. The Board would need to vote on adopting it prior to the June 11th meeting for approval of the FY2013/14 Budget. Those fee changes can be found at this link:

Mr. Epperson clarified that as yet, none of the capital projects discussed at the May 21st session are in the budget. Were the Board to approve any or all each would be financed. The new Fire Dept station would be a different animal as the budget would need to take on the station's operating costs. The city would need to generate significantly more revenue. However, he did not think that would result in a tax increase next year because the first year in implementing the project would only require architect/design costs. The actual project with its larger costs would follow the year after that. The city will move forward with the capital projects unless the Board says not to. In doing so, we will only incur those minor costs like the architect fees. At that point and before moving along any further, we'll bring you a budget. Mayor Pro Tem Bengel suggested first taking care of this FY2013/14 budget, then having a July work session to discuss the capital projects.

2. Opportunity for public to make comments on above sections. (9:03pm)

* Mayoral candidate Edwin Vargas spoke to the Board about the $4.1 million budget increase from last year to this year. Mr. Vargas had plugged in the city's figures for the entirety of this administration and constructed a spreadsheet. Drawing upon the data, he noted that the budget increased an average of $1,442,000.00 for each year of this administration. Therefore, he suggested the Board should make decisions to prioritize expenditures for the big ticket items like vehicles, equipment and employee benefits. He also thanked Alderman Bucher for serving on the ACT committee as well as lauded the Board for financially supporting the ACT, especially in light of the hardship that sequestration was putting on the citizens and therefore, the city economy.

* City Manager Epperson offered that post-employee benefits funding needed some work and said that other towns are modifying those benefits. He will put discussion of this subject on the July work session agenda.

* Last opportunity for public comment on the FY 2013/14 budget is June 11, 2013 at 7pm. That is also the date scheduled for the BOA to vote on adopting this budget.

3. Adjourn at 9:09 pm

Rhonda Taylor
CCTA Watchdog Reporter New Bern Board of Aldermen
Ward 6, New Bern, NC

CCTA Watchdog Report- 23 May 2013

CCTA Watchdog Report- 23 May 2013
Craven County Board of Commissioners Budget Work Sessions

First, the transparency afforded to the public on these deliberations is to be highly commended. The County Manager's proposed budget is available on the county website at Manager Recommended 2013-2014 County Budget. A printed version is available at the County Manager's office.

The County Finance Officer, Rick Hemphill, has been very helpful in letting the Commissioners know when a budget item has been mandated by federal or state law. This is very important information for our Commissioners and for us to know, and I appreciate his making it available.

The budget work sessions are open to the public. I have been able to attend them all, and a couple of other citizens that I have seen at CCTA meetings have also attended. The Board has been very open with me and allowed me to ask questions on behalf of CCTA. For all this, I am very grateful.

Commission Chairman, Scott Dacey, has asked me on several occasions what is in the budget that I object to. I will now try to answer that question.

In order to answer, I first ask myself the question, "Where in the Constitutions of the United States and North Carolina is the authority to spend taxpayer money on this item found?"

The next question is, "Does it have the potential of serving all the county's citizens, or just a few?"

The third question is, "Can we afford it?"

There are many things in the budget that don't pass muster on the first question, and bring us back to that old discussion about forcibly taking money from one citizen in order to give it to another. I do not have the right to steal from one neighbor in order to give to a less fortunate neighbor. Ergo. I cannot possibly have given that right to my government. Here are some examples of that's being done in the proposed budget:

Day Care services-
$4.3 Million dollars of taxpayer money is to be spent in Craven County alone (remember there are approximately 3,000 counties in the US).

Maternity- (that's the name of a big budget item)-
$1,355,638 has been proposed for the budget. Mr. Hemphill said that a big portion of this is not mandated because it exceeds the federal requirement and costs the county a lot of money.

WIC (simply means Women, Infants and children)-
There are three budget items under this category. They total $634,556.

Breast Feeding Promotion- $36,304

Family Planning- $233,539

Risk Reduction, Drugs, etc. (not mandated) - $6, 860.
This list in the Department of Social Services just goes on and on! Suffice it to say that this department of county government, and indeed in the whole State, has gotten way out of hand. It sometimes serves useful purposes, but needs to be greatly reduced, and gradually transferred to the private sector.

Then apply the same rule to the Special Appropriations. Here are some requests:

Promise Place- $20,000
Coastal Women's Shelter- $10,000
Senior Companion- $10,000
North Carolina Symphony- $5,000
App Health Foundation- $10,000
RCS Homeless Shelter- $10,000
Red Cross- $6,000
Havelock Parks and Rec- $108,200

All of these organizations should look to their own resources for financial support and not to the County taxpayer.

Then there are memberships:

School of Government (how to get more tax dollars)- $11,651
NACO (prescription drug program)- $2,070
North Carolina Association of County Commissioners- $10,370
ECC Dues- $15,631
ECC Rural Planning Organization- $5,836
New Bern Municipal Planning Organization- $9,678
NC Association of Black County Commissioners- $100

Some supported organizations do good work like:

Association for Cherry Point's Tomorrow (ACT)- $25,000
Highway 70- $25,000
Highway 17- $35,000
NC20- $10,000

There is some good news:
A change in the billing procedure for vehicle tax produced a one-time windfall of $1,150,000.

The ABC staff estimates that the county will be receiving more than the $280,000 they have received for years. It is expected to be closer to $400,000 annually.

Ten DSS positions have been abolished in the budget, and one unfunded.

No new part time positions are recommended.

The new water treatment plant can be paid for without raising customer charges due to some really good planning by Rick Hemphill and the Commissioners. This is significantly good news.

And some bad:
The state has raised the required contribution for local governments for employee retirement plans from 6.74% to 7.07 %. This will cost the county $84,000. This kind of thing happens repeatedly. These plans need to be changed from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. The estimated return on investment is always too high, and results in requiring the taxpayer to make up the difference. IT IS A RIP-OFF! We need to communicate this to our representatives in Raleigh again.

General insurance cost increased by 17 % this year for coastal counties.

A 1% raise is included in the proposed budget for all county employees. THIS IS A BAD ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT FOR THIS TO HAPPEN IN!

County government expenditures continue to grow. Expenditures for FY2013 stood at $93,035,976 on 30 April 13. That's about $3 million more than last year's. So we are seeing about a 3% growth this year. IT SHOULD BE DECREASING UNDER A REPUBLICAN BOARD! The county manager's proposed budget will perpetrate that trend. PERHAPS THE COMMISSIONERS WILL CHANGE THAT IN THE FINAL APPROVED BUDGET. LET'S HOPE!

Respectfully Submitted,
Hal James, Watchdog Committee Chairman
Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association

Letter to the Editor: Obama's Scandals, by CCTA Education Chairman, Nancy Murdoch

“We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”

Those are the words of President Obama on October 2010. It’s quite apparent he meant it, and those in his administration used the tenor of that statement to be sure it happened.

Hundreds of conservative and Christian groups faced harassment and unfair treatment when they applied for 501(c)(4) status while left leaning groups were approved within months, not years. Some groups were targets of audits, FBI investigations, unreasonable demands, and tyrannical treatment by the government---the same government the president said we should trust. Donors to the Democrats got huge government loans (think Solandryl) for harebrained schemes that went up in fairy dust.

Firing the sitting IRS commissioner, Steven Miller (who will leave in June regardless) is only a token action. We have not heard the president withdraw his “punish” remark or clarify it, but we have heard him vilify the tea party, even though the biggest crime of the tea party is disagreeing with Obama’s big government schemes. When tragedy happens, he speaks of civility, but his own manner belies the statement. In fact, some would question where the priorities and loyalties of this administration lie. They have prosecuted more whistle blowers than all other administrations combined. When Gregory Hicks failed to goosestep to the demands of the State Department, he was demoted. Other individuals have had their lives turned upside down and virtually destroyed for daring to speak out against injustices.

When caught doing something nefarious, those in charge don’t know anything about anything. A low level bureaucrat is always cast as the fall guy. Generally the peon isn’t fired, but moved to another department, out of the limelight. One can’t help but question why so much responsibility is laid on individuals with no accountability and no names. We didn’t elect these people.

The main stream media (also known as the Obama Public Relations Firm) either under report or ignore stories critical of the Obama regime and/or their ideology. Benghazi got little coverage before the election, and what was reported was often incorrect. The Sandy Hook tragedy was covered 24/7. However, the trial and conviction of mass murderer, Kermit Gosnell, received scant notice. It appears innocent children are only important when they are gunned down, but ignored when they have their spines severed. Now AP is up in arms because they are on the receiving end of Chicago style politics. Those whose job it is to be skeptical of government and inform the public are cheerleaders until their ox is gored.

This corruption has had a devastating effect on the American people. We are divided as never before. We don’t trust the government, our elected leaders, or the media. From a president who tosses the word “fair” around so cavalierly, we see policy based on lies, thuggery, and incompetency. Transparency has become as opaque as a lead shield.

Some of us actually believe in the rule of law; the Obama administration---not so much. Winning elections is much more important than being honorable. The trappings of the presidency appear to be more important to this administration than actually doing the job. When will the American people learn we elected a “suit”, surrounded by sycophants?

Nancy Murdoch
Havelock, NC

Letter to the Editor: Common Core, by CCTA Education Chairman, Nancy Murdoch

The Sun-Journal recently had an article touting Common Core in education and how this program would benefit students in Craven County schools. There are many myths and misunderstandings about the program, and most educators have been instructed to praise Common Core, regardless of the facts.

Many proponents of Common Core would have us believe it was state-led project. The truth is it was created by private interest in DC. In order to provide a fa├žade of state involvement, the creators enlisted the aid of the National Governors Association. The NGA doesn’t include all governors and is a trade association not directly involved in education. Much of the creative work was done by Achieve, Inc., a DC non-profit that has been a long-time supporter of national standards and curriculum. Funding came from private interests, including the Gates Foundation.

Many would have us believe the Federal government is not involved with CC, however the US Department of Education has poured millions of dollars into creating the national tests, as well as providing the carrot for state participation. The carrot: funding through the stimulus package for Race to the Top. When a state adopts CC they must accept the standards and may not delete anything or make changes. Any added content will not be covered on the national test.

While proponents of CC argue that the standards are rigorous, many who have reviewed the program say otherwise…calling it “a race to the middle”. Stanford professor, James Milgram, the only mathematician on the CC validation committee, stated the math standards are so bad they will place US students two years behind other high-performing nations. He refused to sign the validation. He is not alone. An English educator on the committee advised reading standards are so poor that the level for high school graduation will be at about the 7th-grade level.

One of the most disturbing elements of CC is that states that took federal money had to commit to build student databases. These databases were designed to track each child from preschool through college and into the workplace. Federal education privacy laws were changed to allow sharing of the database with any other government entity, or even private ones as long as it was done to “audit or evaluate” an education program. The databases will include psychological testing results, as well as personal and family information. A national student database is a violation of a Federal statute which prohibits this kind of activity.

North Carolina has signed on to Common Core, but plans to examine it further. Parents and concerned citizens should do their own research and contact their elected local and state officials. It’s apparent to those who have really looked at Common Core that it is rotten to the core.

Nancy Murdoch Havelock, NC

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Obama Runs Away from the War on Terrorism

May 26, 2013

Tea Party Nation--By Alan Caruba

“You may not be interested in war, but war may be interested in you.” -- Leon Trotsky

If you think about the presidents who we remember and honor the most, it is those who faced war and rallied the nation to victory. Our first president, George Washington, sustained the Revolutionary War for eight long years against daunting odds, including a Continental Congress that often provided little support for the men under his command that were fighting to create a new, free nation.

Washington’s reputation in war and peace is the reason that the Constitution designates the President as Commander-in-Chief. He was so highly regarded for his conduct of the Revolution that the Founders concluded that future presidents had to be free to wage war, but only after Congress declared that a state of war existed.

America, however, has not formally passed a declaration of war since WWII and then because it had been declared against us first. Since then wars have often been fought under the sanction given by the United Nations as was the case in the Korean conflict and the two Gulf wars, an erosion of our national sovereignty.

Lincoln is revered for having preserved the Union during the bloodiest conflict this nation ever fought. Franklin D. Roosevelt earned his place in our history for mobilizing the nation prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, assisting Great Britain prior to entering the World War II, and then pursuing an aggressive policy to defeat the Axis nations.

Quite a few of our presidents gained fame in various conflicts, from Washington to Grant to Eisenhower. Other presidents presided over wars both long and short.

In a speech on May 23, given ironically at the National Defense University, President Obama did his best to run away from war. His opposition to the war in Iraq, his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, and his efforts to close Guantanamo will likely be seen in the same way as the Clinton policies of the 1990s when Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States on behalf of al Qaeda and subsequently attacked the World Trade Towers twice, in 1993 and on September 11, 2001. Weakness always encourages aggression.

In an application of magical thinking, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the entire U.S. military was instructed not to use the term “global war on terrorism”, replacing it instead with “overseas contingency.” The Obama administration has refused to identify the May 22nd murder of a British soldier on the streets of London by an Islamist as terrorism.

Obama spent his first term and now his second insisting that al Qaeda has been defeated despite ample evidence that it has not. He has never ceased to downplay any event that suggests we and the rest of the world are not engaged in a war with radical Islam.

The Benghazi scandal arose out of an effort to claim and cover-up that the attack was “spontaneous” and the result of an anti-Islam video despite the fact that it occurred on September 11, 2012. Earlier, an attack on soldiers based at Fort Hood was declared “workplace violence.” The bombing in Boston was glossed over as a criminal act, not a terrorist act of war.

The absurdity and the danger of not describing the many instances of the Islamic jihad is a failure of major proportions and not being willing to take preemptive action against its perpetrators suggests it will grow, not diminish, and not cease to threaten the homeland and the world.

In a scathing May 24 analysis of his speech, “President Obama is Tired of Fighting Terrorism”, the Heritage Foundation said that “even as new fronts in the war on terrorism sprang up, the Administration continued to argue that it was winning” despite the Benghazi attack, despite the Boston bombing, despite the attacks in Afghanistan. Time and again Obama has said that the assassination of Osama bin Laden marked the end of al Qaeda and that the isolated drone attacks have reduced its ability to wage jihad. It has not, but Obama proposed scaling back the use of drones.

“The war of ideas,” said Heritage, “was completely banned from the Obama lexicon. Islamist terrorism became ‘violent extremism.’ Terrorism became ‘senseless violence.’ In 2011, however, Obama shifted course dramatically."

"More than dumping the war of words, the White House signed off on a new counterterrorism strategy that amounted to running away from Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as possible and limiting the offensive campaign to whacking top-level al Qaeda with drone strikes”, noting that “The new strategy was bound to fail, fighting the last war while al Qaeda evolved into a global insurgency that has spread from Pakistan to Nigeria.”


Friday, May 17, 2013

New Bern Alderman Meeting, May 13, 2013


Mayor pro tem Sabrina Bengel opened the meeting and gave the prayer.

All were present except for Mayor Bettis, who had notified the City Mgr of his absence on 5-10-13.

Prior to embarking on the agenda, Mayor pro tem Bengel said she would make some comments. She hoped all would keep Mayor Bettis and his family in their thoughts and prayers. She stated she was aware of the work ahead and she and the Board were ready to roll up their sleeves and tackle the work to be done. She said the Board would move forward in its work with the knowledge that we had a good city staff and the leadership of the other aldermen. As a result of the events of the past week, she said that she understood Alderman Outlaw had made a request to add an item to tonight's agenda to discuss the Mayor and his recent controversies as well as his resignation. Mayor pro tem Bengel allowed Alderman Outlaw to make that motion and Alderman Taylor seconded. She asked for any discussion. There being none, she called for the roll call vote. The vote to add the agenda item for discussing the recent controversies surrounding Mayor Bettis as well as his resignation was: Alderman Bucher, Mayor pro tem Bengel, Alderman Kinsey, and Alderman White voted "No"; Alderman Taylor and Alderman Outlaw voted "Yes". Therefore, the motion failed and the Mayor pro tem moved on to the next agenda item.

**Reporters Notes: Salary per year for Mayor = $12,039
                                            Mayor Pro Tem = $ 8,976
Alderman = $ 8,099
(Confirmed to me by HR Dir. Sonya Hayes on 5-15-13)

Additionally, according to City Clerk Veronica Mattocks, in my phone call to her on 5-15-13, each elected official is allocated a discretionary sum of $1,000 p/yr.

The taxpayers pay Verizon for cell phone services for Aldermen Taylor, White, and  Kinsey, and for Mayor Bettis a sum that varies per month and is based on usage, NTE (hopefully) $7,500. The taxpayers also fund internet service for Aldermen Taylor, White and Bucher at rate of $74.95 per month.

Per the FY2012/13 approved budget, that is posted to the City website under the Finance Dept heading, the Mayor is allotted $4,104 of taxpayer funds for yearly travel and the aldermen are allotted $3,000 each for travel . Under the "Governing Board" designation, the taxpayers also pay for a Travel/Training budget of $2K for each elected official, a Food & Provisions budget (includes Clerk) of $2,500 and a Dues/Subscriptions budget of $38,851 (excludes Clerk) for the 7 elected officials.

Agenda Item 3. Request and Petition of Citizens.

This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens. This is an opportunity for public comment, limited to 4 minutes. "Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member. Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period. In the board's discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation. If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group's comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes".

a. Stevie Bennett of National Ave made a suggestion for the City to erect a bulletin board in front of the City Hall steps to enable those who are not able to climb those steps to read the public notices that announce the Board meetings. On another subject of the City not executing appropriate or timely adjudications of HPC issues, she suggested the City hire additional part-time personnel to dedicate to the dispensation of those issues. She believes if the Board can handle appropriating $82,000 for a branding campaign, then it should be able to dedicate the same significant funding to resolving these HPC issues because tourism and interest in the charm of the NB historic districts are the biggest industry. Further, Ms. Bennett stated that the City should use newly hired persons and create new positions only after current and overdue workload is attended to. She also asked after the status of the branding campaign and for City staff to brief on what the MPO plan is. She wanted to know if the public transportation services within this MPO plan were for the City or others outside of it and whether there were to be charges for services. (This item was partially addressed in agenda item #5).

b. Tracy Spellman of the Climbers Club eloquently spoke on the history of the club, which is the oldest pubic service club for women of color, having been organized in 1895. She announced and invited all to the open house for the Charlotte Roane Cultural Center on Tues., May 21st from 10am - 1pm and again at5 - 7pm. Location is 608 West St. in historic Dryborough.

Agenda Item 4. Adopt Resolution Authorizing City to be a Co-Applicant with New Bern Housing Authority in the Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant and Authorizing City Manager to Sign Memorandum of Understanding.

"(Ward 1) The New Bern Housing Authority has requested the City partner with them on a Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant. The grant assists with plans for modernization of public housing as well as overall improvements in the surrounding community. The grant will require a dollar-for-dollar cash match over the next two years of an amount not to exceed $30,000. The Resolution authorizes the City to join the Housing Authority as a co-applicant and authorizes the City Manager to sign a Memorandum of Understanding and to approve the expenditures up to $30,000 for the required match." City Manager Epperson stated the maximum grant award is $500,000. He said the primary reason for the City to provide this match and to sign the MOU is to ensure the maximum success in earning the most points toward receiving the grant award. The MOU will be terminated if the grant is not received. The five elements of the HA/City collaboration are as follows: (a) coordinate planning in regard to Housing and Neighborhood improvements elements of the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative transformation planning; (b) work together to align resources to the extent practicable; (c) support the HA's leadership of the planning process and committ to participation throughout the entirety of the Choice Neighborhood Initiatives planning process; (d) participate in the "Housing" and "Neighborhood" planning committees, and will concentrate on plans for the redevelopment of the Greater Five Points area; and (e) The HA will manage and direct the work under an HUD grant funding obtained in connection with this Planning grant, and HA with the City will coordinate in regard to any other funding raised for theses planning purposes (e.g., funds raised for purchasing distressed properties through the Greater Five Points area. This agreement will become effective upon the awarding of this grant. For more information of what this grant consists of, please refer to the Gateway Renaissance Plan on the city website and the BOA minutes of 2-12-12, agenda Item #6.

Ald Taylor spoke out strongly against the MOU and the grant itself. He stated he did not like how this was presented to the Trent Court residents last year and he claimed that "there was lots of underhanded stuff going on with it last year". He continued, saying, "I'm against it, I do not stand for it. Give them something written in a language the residents can understand. I didn't like it last year - don't like it this year. Until the residents of Craven Terrace and Trent Court are happy with it, I'm not in agreement with it". A small audience contingency applauded after he was finished. Ald White asked Mr. Epperson to clarify that "the Board did vote to be co-applicants last year, right?" Mr. Epperson said "yes" and that last year, the first time, the City was the lead applicant. Ald Kinsey asked if New Bern will be going through a similar procedure to what the Wilson Housing Authority outlined to this Board that Wilson went through when it visited WIlson's HA program. Mr. Epperson said 'yes'. He elaborated on his response to Ald Taylor's comments saying there was a bit of misinterpretation and miscommunication when the City embarked on procuring the HUD Choice Neighborhoods Grant. He differentiated between the two types of grants explaining this grant was a planning grant, while last year's grant was an implementation grant. Ald White asked if it was correct that without a plan the HA cannot go forward. Mr. Epperson replied "yes, they can, but they will be more successful if they approach it this way". (Reporter's note: I interviewed NBHA Dir Julian Marsh on 4-11-13 on the topics of both the HUD planning grant and the implement grant. The information within that interview corroborates the information given by Mr. Epperson at this meeting).

Mayor pro tem Bengel wanted to clear up some things for the public so she asked, "so there's no building anything, removing anything, it's just a plan, right?" "Yes" says Mr. Epperson. "There's more success if the City enters into a applicant-co applicant relationship; and it's not just about the housing, but also access to education, pubic health and public transportation resources". Ald Taylor made reference to the HA attendance of HA Dir Julian Marsh to make the presentation at the 4-9-13 BOA meeting. Then he asked as to why an HA spokesperson was not in attendance tonight. He also asked, "why is this grant - is everybody targeting Trent Court?. Craven Terrace is worse". He said the reason he previously remarked that handling of last year's grant activities was underhanded was because a person was taken off the board that was helping with the application for the grant and told the reason for that was because there was no more room on this board. However, the very next day another person was appointed. The motion passed 5 - 1, Ald Taylor voted "no".

Agenda Item 5. Presentation of Fiscal Year 2013-2014 Budget Overview.
City Manager Epperson presented the budget highlight for Fiscal Year 2013-2014.

The great news first: NO TAX INCREASE! But...solid waste collection fee is increasing $3.75 from a current charge of $8.

He stated this fiscal year's budget is a status quo budget, rather flat. There is $100,000 more in this year's budget compared to last year.

>Some highlights:

* Personnel: will add 2. (1) fill an HR position that has been vacant since Oct 2010. WIll dedicate it administrative needs, for one to address the changes stemming from Obamacare implementation. (2) hire a MPO administrator (decribed in agenda item #16).

*Branding campaign: There's been 75% completion of phase 2 (creative phase). Will need another $75,000, which will make the total tax dollars spent on this venture to be $157,000. However, at the public BOA meeting of 6-12-12, the Board unanimously approved a budget amendment for Phase 1 in the amount of $48,000 and Phase 2 in the amount of $34,000, with Weyerhauser Land Development Co., contributing $2,000 for a total of $82,000 asked of the taxpayers. At that meeting, the board minutes read, "Ald Bucher stated the goal for branding should reflect 'who we are and why would people relocate as well as bring business to New Bern'. New Bern is not well known nationally he has discovered this as he has travelled around the world". This implementation of the additional $75K will allow development of economic development materials, marketing materials, web videos, to name a few.

*Technology improvement: to replace outdated data backup system and unsupported data backup system. $65,000 to go to asset managment and a work order system for Public Works Dept.

*Public Safety: $750,000 to purchase a Quint Fire Truck which is a pump truck/ladder truck combo (takes place of 2 separate vehicles). Also purchase 10 new police cruisers to replace an aging fleet.

*General Fund Revenues: Interfund transfers will increase (he admitted & we could see the charts on this were very faint. It will appear on the city website for public view). City Mgr Epperson stated that as the CIty has begun to use revenue bonds it will need to ensure there are adequate reserves so the revenue bonds will get LGC (Local Gov't Commission) approval. Solid waste collection fees will increase to include leaf & limb and cover the appx $1 million in Gen Fund subsidizing that has thus far been ocurring and to pay for CPI and tipping fee increases. Ald Taylor needed to ask what the current rate is and was told $8.00 residential. The residential rates for all of our neighbor comparison cities are in the $14 - $24 range.

*Although there is no ad valorem tax increase, City Mgr Epperson said it was worth talking about. New Bern's 41 cents p/$100 rate is significantly lower than our neighboring comparison cities (Greenville, Goldsboro, Kinston, wilmington, Havelock, Washington, Wilson).

*June 11, 2013: the budget will be presented to the Board for adoption. Prior to that, there are the 2 additional workshops on May 21st and 23rd @ 6pm. Mr. Epperson said the emphasis of discussion will be on, and it will be the most important for the Board to feel comfortable about, allocations to the enterprise funds and the item of solid waste fees. Lastly he remarked that the budget increases were largely due to the capital expenditures in the Public Safety category.

Agenda Item 6. Adoption Resolution Calling for Public Hearing to Receive Comment on Close Out of 2009 CDBG Community Revitalization Grant Program.

"(Ward 2) The City was awarded a 2009 CDBG Community Revitalization grant in the amount of $1,000,000. The project area is Third Avenue between Broad and Elm Streets. The grant program closes on June 17, 2013, and the CDBG program requires a public hearing be conducted to receive public comment on close out of the grant. The public hearing date was scheduled for May 28, 2013 and passed by a unanimous vote."

Agenda Item 7. Adopt Resolution Approving Lease with Area Day Reporting Center for Youth at 500 Fort Totten Drive.

(Ward 1) The Area Day Reporting Program for Youth, which is a nonprofit corporation, has requested renewal of the lease agreement for the property located at 500 Fort Totten Drive. The lease term begins on May 14, 2013 and ends on June 30, 2014. The financial terms requires a rental fee of $1.00 be paid to the city as the Area Day reporting Program for Youth will pay no more than $2,500 for the CIty to provide the required hazard and liability insurances; or it may opt to carry coverage independently. If that choice is made, that coverage must be for no less than $500K, and must name the City as a named insured. The Center is also responsible for paying the utility bills and all damages incurred to the property. Passed with a unanimous vote.

Agenda Item 8. Adopt Resolution Approving Interlocal Tax Collection Agreement.

It is recommended the County and City tax offices be consolidated under the jurisdiction of the County effective July 1, 2013. This will result in improved efficiency and lower costs to the City. As a further result of the merger, staffing levels in the tax office will reduce from three positions to one. This reduction will not result in any employee losing their job. During the Retreat and the following Board meeting, both Ald Bengel and Ald White were both very concerned about this consolidation. Tonight Mayor Pro Tem Bengel explained that the City is always looking for ways to partner with the County to retain costs while still providing appropriate level of services and approving this item will satisfy both desires. However, Ald White disagreed and felt it was tantamount to contracting-out not only city services but most important to him, the city personnel/positions that went with them. He said we had a person for this job and we should have gotten our own person to refill that job. When Finance Dir Fiaschetti informed the Board that this consolidation would save the City $59,000, Ald White did not change his mind. Item passed with a 5 - 1 vote, Ald White voted "no".

Agenda Item 9. Adopt Ordinance for the Demolition of the Dwelling Located at 711 Bern Street.

"(Ward 1) The owner of the property at 711 Bern Street was first notified of an issue with the structure in June of 2000. On September 24, 2009, owners of the property were properly served with the City's minimum housing violation. On June 10, 2010, building permits were issued to bring the property into compliance. However, to date no progress has been made and all active permits have now expired." Passed by unanimous vote.

10. Adopt Ordinance for the Demolition of the Dwelling Located at 1816-1818 Greensboro Street.

"(Ward 5) The owner of the property at 1816-1818 Greensboro Street was first notified of an issue in October 1997. In July of 2010, the property was sold to Craven Rental Property LLC. In August 2010, the new owner was notified via certified mail that the property was in violation of minimum housing standards. City staff attempted to work with the owner on bringing the structure into compliance until July 2012. No building permits were ever applied for, and on April 3, 2013 the property was referred to the City attorney for final action to demolish." Passed by unanimous vote.

11. Adopt Ordinance for the Demolition of the Dwelling Located at 723 Cedar Street.

"(Ward 1) The owner of the property at 723 Cedar Street was first notified of an issue in October 1998. The property was brought into compliance in September 2001. The property again fell into a state of dilapidation in March of 2009, and the owner was notified via certified mail. In July 2010, the property was sold to Craven Rental Properties LLC, and the new owner was notified of the minimum housing violations in August 2010. To date, no building permits have been issued to bring the property into compliance. On April 3, 2013 the property was referred to the City attorney for final action to demolish." Passed by unanimous vote.

12. Approve Subdivision Final Plan for Hardee Farms, Phase One, Section D.

"(Ward 3) NAD Development, LLC is requesting subdivision final plan approval for Hardee Farms, Phase One, Section D. This is a 28-lot residential planned unit development. The developer has submitted a cash bond for $46,500 to cover the cost of incomplete improvements. City staff has reviewed the proposed subdivision plan and finds all technical and legal requirements have been satisfied and recommends approval of the final plan." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda Item 13. Adopt Resolution Approving Application with NCDOT for Elizabeth Avenue Safe Routes to School Program, Phase II.

"(Ward 4) In 2011, the City was awarded a $99,900 Safe Routes to School grant from the NC Department of Transportation for improvement of pedestrian access to H. J. McDonald School for the neighborhoods east of Racetrack Road. This project was completed in April 2013. As an extension of the work completed, the City proposed to the NC Department of Transportation a second phase that will involve improving access for neighborhoods west of Racetrack Road, and DOT has concurred and awarded the City a $120,000 Safe Routes to School grant. This requires no local match, but the City will be providing all engineering and construction administration services for the project. To proceed with the project, City staff is requesting the Board approve execution of an agreement with NCDOT for phase II of the project."

Ald Kinsey announced that the ribbon cutting ceremony for the original project will be held Wed., May 15, 2013 @ 9am at H.J. MacDonald Middle School. This original grant, under the "Safe Routes to School Program, was approved to be drawn up & submitted by the BOA in 10-26-10. These sidewalks provided for by this grant were installed in the southern right of way of Elizabeth Ave. On 4-12-11, the BOA approved the City to authorize the Mayor and City Finance Dir to sign the agreement with DOT for the actual grant award of $99,900.

Agenda Item 14. Adopt Resolution Approving Financing Terms

"At its February 26, 2013 meeting, the Board of Aldermen authorized proceeding further with reference to the Advanced Metering Project (AMI/DSM) and the Highway 17 south Sewer Improvements project. The Board authorized filing of an application with the Local Government Commission (LGC) for approval of the borrowing and issuance of the Series 2013 Bond. The total new money amount to be borrowed is not to exceed $1,400,000. Requests for proposals were sent to six institutions, and STI Institutional & Governmental submitted a proposal with the lowest overall financing costs at an interest rate of 1.56% for a 10-year term."

"In addition, requests for proposals were forwarded to the same six institutions for refinancing four debt contracts totaling $15,960,528.92. STI again submitted the proposal with the lowest overall financing costs with the financing structure requested, at an interest rate of 1.56%. Refinancing these loans will remove liens from the utility systems and result in a net savings of approximately $1.5 million. Financing for both of the above (2013 revenue bond 2013 refunding bond) will be consolidated into one loan not to exceed $18,000,000 with a 10-year term bearing a fixed interest rate of 1.56%. As revenue bonds are involved, the borrowing will have to be approved by the LGC. It is anticipated this approval can be obtained at the LGC's June 4, 2013 meeting, and closing will take place shortly thereafter."

In response to a question by Ald Bucher, Finance Dept Dir Fiaschetti stated there are no downsides to this action. Ald Outlaw wanted to know if Mr. Fiaschetti has inquired as to whether there were any pre-payment penalties and Mr. Fiaschetti stated there were none. Passed by a unanimous vote.

Agenda Item 15. Adopt FY2012-13 Budget Ordinance Amendment for Electric Fund.

"A team of six lineworkers from the City assisted the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) in restoring electric service to the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. The City has recently received full payment from LIPA for the labor, equipment, travel and overhead related to the lineworkers' response. LIPA reimbursed the City at a higher rate for the labor portion than the typical mutual aid agreement dictates. Jon Rynne, Director of Utilties, has requested that the additional amount the City was reimbursed for labor be paid to the workers who responded. To facilitate this, a budget amendment must be approved." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda Item 16. Adopt Resolution to Amend Classification Pay Plan for Fiscal Year 2012-2013.

It is requested a new position be created for an MPO Administrator. The position will be part of the Development Services department and will administer the day-to-day functions of the New Bern Area Metropolitan Transportation Organization. Funding for the position and required capital costs will be provided through an 80% match from the Federal Department of Transportation and a 20% match from local member jurisdictions.

Craven County Commissioner Steve Tyson heads the Transportation Advisory Council, and New Bern Alderman Johnnie Ray Kinsey serves as vice chairman of the MPO. There has been one meeting to date. The only North Carolina city to be designated for an MPO in the last Census, New Bern's metropolitan area now includes annexed areas east of New Bern such as Taberna and Carolina Colours as well as communities like James City, Grantham and others in that area. Bridgeton, Trent Woods and River Bend and some unincorporated areas near them are also in the planning group. Members of the MPO will meet once a month on the third Thursday at New Bern City Hall.

New Bern Director of Development Services Jeff Ruggieri and Craven County Assistant Manager Gene Hodges head theTechnical Coordinating Committee. MPO members include New Bern's director of development services, MPO coordinator, city engineer; Craven County's planning director and operations and facilities director; town managers from Trent Woods, Bridgeton and River Bend; CARTS; Coastal Carolina Regional Airport Authority; New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce; and federal, state and local transportation officials

Ald Outlaw asked City Mgr Epperson if the 80% match was permanent and what was New Bern's part. He answered "yes" it was permanent and that the City's portion was $20,000. In response to another question from Ald Outlaw on what the City receives from the MPO, Mr. Epperson replied, working on/resolving regional transportation issues w/MTA and securing direct funding from state and federal Departments of Transportation. Ald White asked if our being in this MPO would get our financial rating bumped up? Mr. Epperson answered that factor was one of the puzle pieces. Passed by unanimous vote.

Agena Item 17. Adopt Resolution to Close 1500 block of Rhem Avenue for the Rhem Avenue Block Party on Sunday, May 26, 2013, with a Rain Date ofMonday, May 27, 2013.

"(Ward 1) Residents of Rhem Avenue have requested the 1500 block of Rhem Avenue between Third Street and Fourth Street be closed from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on May 26, 2013 for the Rhem Avenue Block Party. A rain date of May 27, 2013 has been selected." Pased by unanimous vote.

Agenda Item 18. Adopt Resolution Closing Streets in Union Point Park on May 19, 2013 from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

'(Ward 1) To facilitate a Community Band Concert, it is requested the streets in Union Point Park be closed to vehicular traffic on May 19, 2013 from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Exceptions will be made for vehicles operated by police, fire, emergency and designated program support staff." Passed by unanimous vote.

Agenda Item 19. The minutes from the April 9, 2013 Board Meeting, April 16, 2013 Work Session and April 23, 2013 Board Meeting were approved by unanimous vote.

Agenda Item 20. Appointment(s).

"Alderman Bucher recommends Peter J. Walker be appointed to the Board of Adjustment to serve out John Reichenbach's term, which will expire on June 30, 2013. He also motioned for Mr. Walker to serve an additional 3-year term.

Alderman Bengal is requested to make an appointment to replace Phil Urick on the Board of Adjustment, who has resigned due to health reasons. Mr. Urick's term is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2014.

Mayor Pro Tem Bengel then stated the Mayor has a reappointment for Ms. Stevie Bennet to the Planning and Zoning Board. All motions were passed by unanimous vote.

There were no Attorney or City Manager Reports.

A Closed Session was motioned to discuss a possible settlement to a pending claim.

Meeting adjourned at 8:36pm

Rhonda Taylor
CCTA Watchdog Reporter for New Bern Board of Aldermen

House Votes to Repeal Obamacare

The House voted to repeal Obamacare on Thursday for the third time since Republicans took over the chamber in 2011 and the 37th time the House GOP has voted to repeal or defund a part of the bill.

The 229-195 vote included two Democrats who sided with Republicans — Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. All Republicans voted in favor.

In a Congress where spin often trumps legislation, Republicans see a political advantage to keeping the pressure up as the administration tries to get all the moving parts of the law finally working.

Starting this fall, uninsured people who can't get coverage through their jobs will be able to sign up for government-subsidized insurance that takes effect Jan. 1. The rollout promises to be bumpy because about half the states are still resisting the law, and Republicans in Congress won't provide the administration with funds it says are needed for a smooth implementation.

Democrats said the House vote was a pointless exercise. They noted that the ACA — as the law is known — has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and millions are already receiving some benefits, from young adults able to stay on a parent's insurance until age 26, to seniors on Medicare whose high prescription drug bills have been reduced.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said repeal vote is "clear waste of time and of taxpayer dollars."

"Unfortunately, House Republicans seem to think that their main responsibility is to do nothing," Pelosi said.

But Republicans see a soft target in a costly program that continues to divide the country.

They're hoping that implementation problems next year will help the GOP take control of the Senate in the midterm congressional elections and build on its House majority. Part of the political strategy behind Thursday's vote was to give freshmen Republicans a chance to vote on full repeal of what they dismiss as "Obamacare."

"Republicans will continue to work to scrap the law in its entirety so we can focus on patient-centered reforms that lower costs and protect jobs," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

What that alternative would look like, no one really knows, because Republicans have not presented a plan of their own since Obama's law was debated in Congress more than three years ago.


Obama breaches Marine umbrella protocol

The commander in chief of the American armed forces today forced a violation of Marine Corps regulations, so he wouldn’t get wet.

According to Marine Corps regulation MCO P1020.34F of the Marine Corps Uniform Regulations chapter 3, a male Marine is not allowed to carry an umbrella while in uniform. There is no provision in the Marine Corps uniform regulation guidelines that allows a male Marine to carry an umbrella.

Nevertheless, during a press conference under a light drizzle with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan this morning, President Obama allowed the First Head to be protected from the elements by an umbrella held by a male Marine corporal.


Letter to the Editor: The ‘buck’ doesn’t stop here…, by CCTA Member, Lou Call

May 16th, 2013
Letter to the Editor

The ‘buck’ doesn’t stop here…

The two major issues facing our Nation today centers around the abusive political powers exercised by the Obama administration. Both Benghazi and the IRS scandal call into question the trust that Americans have in their government; a government that gets its power from the people it governs. And it is clear to most of us that our president is not a person of trust.

Consider Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly on September 25th, 2012; sixteen days after the attack in Benghazi:

“That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.” ( Full Text

Barack Hussein Obama clearly lied to the United Nations and to the American people yet there is no outrage from the main stream media; the same media that forced Richard Nixon to resign the Office of President over lies concerning the Watergate break in. Do I need to remind the reader that no lives were lost in Watergate?

But the day after the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi, the White House released a schedule showing that President Obama would continue with his planned campaign trip to Las Vegas. That same morning in the Rose Garden Obama confirmed the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, the administration’s point man during the Libyan revolution, in a statement condemning the "outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans."

While omitting the reference to a terrorist attack, Obama went on to say,

"While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants." In other words we reject the denigration of Muslim beliefs as depicted in a video.
All of this transpired after the last general election so what is our Nation to do?

In 1970, then Representative Gerald R. Ford defined impeachable offenses as "whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."

In the past, Congress has issued Articles of Impeachment for acts in three general categories:

1. Exceeding the constitutional bounds of the powers of the office.

2. Behavior grossly incompatible with the proper function and purpose of the office.

3. Employing the power of the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.

Can there be any doubt when we look back over the last five years that we need to remove from the Office of the President, the current occupant? As a Nation we can no longer afford to tolerate the machinations of this Socialist regime. Clearly, unlike Harry Truman, the buck doesn’t stop here; but it should.

Louis Call
New Bern, NC

Thursday, May 16, 2013



The federal government is still frantically stockpiling a historic arsenal of ammo for domestic government agencies. The stockpiling has created national shortages for citizens and local law enforcement agencies. The shortage is so bad, in fact, a police chief in Minnesota is having to turn to citizens for stock.


Rep. Speciale gets it right...again

May 13, 2013

Mike Speciale deserves another award for standing up and speaking out against the foolishness that passes as "legislating" in Raleigh. He spoke up against and was one of 14 members of the House to vote against H 930. And we would dare say that if the liberal, left-wing media (a.k.a. WRAL TV) did not have it in for Mike and conservative Republicans you would have never heard about it.

H 930 is euphemistically known as the "Puppy Mill" bill. It was supported by none other than the Governor's wife, who was in the gallery when the bill was being debated. Mike mentioned this and wondered if the reason a bad bill was gushing through the House was because of Mrs. McCrory's support rather than the merits of the legislation. For that he was roundly chastised, even by some of his Republican colleagues. It so happens we think he was correct on Mrs. McCrory and we'll bet it will not be long before she takes credit for getting this law passed.

What Rep. Speciale argued is beyond refute. The specific wording of the bill is terrible. It sounds good, as he said, it makes some zombies feel good but that does not change the fact that it is one more bad law. Here are some of the reasons:

The bills purports to set "standards" for dog breeders. And the standards sound good. Things like access to food and water, exercise, appropriate veterinary services, something called "daily assessment of each dog's overall health and behavior…" are so vague as to be meaningless. You can read all the "standards" at the link above. Again, they sound good and few would say they are not worthwhile. But the problem comes in enforcing the standards.   CONTINUED:

Kay Hagan thinks the IRS NEEDS more power & stuff to do

In Washington, pols from both major parties are trampling each other to make it to a microphone and /or camera to denounce the Internal Revenue Service. In case you’ve been visiting other planets in our solar system the past couple of days — allegations have surfaced that the IRS has been targeting conservative and Tea Party groups and leaders since 2010.

Democrats are telling us they are “shocked” by all of this stuff they are hearing about their friends, the tax collectors. That’s funny. In 2010, The New York Times reported that Democrats in the Senate were demanding IRS reviews of conservative political groups. Kay Hagan, our state’s Democrat senator who is affectionately known in some parts as Chuck Schumer’s sock puppet ™, has been in the Senate since 2008. I can’t find any comment from her about any of this stuff until today, when she reportedly described the whole saga as “disturbing and troubling.”