Thursday, December 28, 2006

Column for December 28th, 2006

If Troy ruled the world

I often think about things that I would change if I could. I run across many situations where I think to myself, "Self, if you ran that [insert noun such as business, town, state, etc.] you would certainly change a few things". I decided to share a dozen of my list items that shall become effective the moment I rule the world.

1. Sporks, those stupid fork/spoon plastic ware utensils that you get at select fast food restaurants are hereby banned. Give me a fork or a spoon, not a useless hybrid.

2. Basic classes in speech and enunciation shall be taught at all high schools, maybe earlier. Few things are more annoying than listening to some low wage earner fresh out of high school that has no command of the English language, much less the ability to enunciate words.

3. English shall be the official language of the nation, state, and local governments. Taxpayers should not be burdened with the expense or annoyance of multi-lingual publications or offering services in anything other than English.

4. The only tax increase that I totally support is to raise the gas tax by 1/10th of a penny to eliminate the cursed 9/10th of a penny pricing. That is just plain deceptive advertising. $2.299, in all practice, is $2.30. It shall be illegal to charge less than a full penny for anything. We do not mint anything smaller than a penny, so it is not possible to charge less than a penny for anything.

5. The United States Postal Service shall cease being a monopoly in the mail delivery business. The USPS has the ability to track all packages, just as its competitors, but does not do so without paying extra. Priority Mail or Parcel Post shall automatically include tracking services. I have a package that I mailed for Mothers' Day via Priority Mail in 2003. To this day, my mother and I would love to find out where it is. If the USPS can not compete, it shall be privatized rather than stay a government run and protected monopoly.

6. Election ballot access laws shall be changed to allow easier access to all viable and legitimate political parties. The prevention of a wider field of candidates severely limits the choices of potentially great candidates. Remember that Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) was a third party candidate once, too.

7. Non-partisan elections shall be abolished. The notion of elections being non-partisan is a fallacy.

8. Selma shall change its town charter to elect only its mayor at-large. All other town council members shall be elected by ward or district. We shall increase the number of council members from four to six at a minimum. Two council members from each of three wards plus the mayor would offer better representation of the town and give us a better chance of actually having a quorum at meetings.

9. The 16th and 17th Amendments to the US Constitution shall be abolished. Maybe the 19th. The 24th Amendment will be amended. Those citizens that receive long term public assistance for income, food, and housing shall not be allowed to vote. It is a conflict of interest to vote in any election where your personal benefit would come above that of the rest of your fellow citizens. Locally, only property tax paying citizens shall be allowed to vote in towns, counties, or states that use property taxation as a primary means of revenue. Only those who show proper identification and proof of citizenship shall be allowed to vote.

10. A secure, hard to violate wall of concrete, razor wire, and electronic detection shall immediately be erected at our nation's southern border. A moat filled with piranha and barracuda type fish may also be dug for good measure.

11. U.S. highways henceforth shall be built like the German Autobahn with similar quality, access points, slopes, curves, and speed limits.

12. The LaPlante's Rants column shall be required to be placed on the front page of "The Selma News". We all know that it is the first thing you want to read and the main reason anyone wants to get this newspaper. Just kidding, Rick Stewart. But still, it is not a bad idea.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Column for December 21, 2006

Wanted: An effective political party

Within the last week or so, former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr quit the Republican Party and joined the Libertarian Party. Mr. Barr is certainly not the first one to be disillusioned with the G.O.P. Mr. Barr finds himself in good company, including myself.

Some time ago, I also quit my affiliation with the Republican Party. The party that brought us Abraham Lincoln has brought us great disappointment over the last decade. That same disappointment has resonated across the nation, as we found out last month, and as I have written here.

On a national level, under Republican leadership, we have seen spending increase dramatically. The party that once had a plank on its platform to abolish the Department of Education ended up expanding that department, giving us No Child Left Behind. The Republicans, who were in the minority for four decades, could not muster the strength to take charge and actually lead. With little exception, they allowed the minority party to run most things under the guise of bi-partisanship.

When in leadership, tough decisions need to be taken. This will not always be popular with either constituents or fellow representatives. It is just sad that few of the Republican Congressmen had the resolve to take a strong position of leadership. Basically, they blew their chances of continued leadership because of a dozen years of ineffectiveness. It did not help that they G.O.P. leadership tolerated graft and corruption in the ranks.

In North Carolina, the G.O.P. is rather ineffective at the state level. The state legislature is controlled by Democrats. The Republicans have done little to inject themselves, with minor exception.

Locally, I have found the Johnston County Republican Party to be just as leaderless and ineffective. Great apathy is in the ranks of local Republicans. There are a few with great zeal, but I can count them on one hand and still have enough fingers left to count to three. Locally, I saw interpersonal political and power struggles and lethargy sufficient to cause me to leave the party. The sad part is that I have heard much the same sentiment from others in the county party. Some of these people have been candidates for office and some are even currently in office.

What is there for an alternative? I honestly don't know. I tried the NC Constitution Party. My membership expires this month and I will allow it to do so. The ballot access laws in North Carolina are among the toughest in the nation and the party's state leadership is worse than the local G.O.P. leadership. Ergo, the Constitution Party will never get on the ballot in any election in North Carolina. That is sad, since I have followed that party since its inception and love the party platform. If there was an effective leadership base, I would strive to make them a force to reckon with. Unfortunately, when you only have a dozen or so people to work with across the entire state and some of them are just bitter Republican rejects, what can you do? I waited a while to see the direction of the leadership prior to diving headlong into the water. I am glad that I did. Little can be accomplished, and I am not going to waste my time or money attempting change in that manner any further.

I won't become a Democrat for certain. I do believe I would rather be stabbed to death with a plastic fork than become a Socialist (I mean Democrat). The Democrat Party has slid far to the left, creating a leftward moving vacuum into which the Republican Party has slid.

I am very close to the Libertarians in ideology, but there are some key issues with which I disagree. Chief among these are legalizing the currently illegal drug trade, abortion rights, and homosexual rights. I personally don't care what my neighbors or fellow citizens do in the privacy of their own home. However, I find that contributing to public delinquency, slaughtering the unborn, and granting special, legal status for Sodomites is bad public policy and unconscionable.

What does this leave those of us who are independent thinkers that are willing to "swim upstream"? I don't exactly know. I have never been one to be afraid of going against the mainstream. I am open to a better solution than those I have found or that of former Congressman Bob Barr. I doubt I will find one, though.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Column for December 14, 2006

I mistakenly thought I could be wrong

After last week’s column regarding false claims of homophobia, I attempted some form of penance by making myself sit down and watch the movie "Brokeback Mountain". I sat through the entire movie, until the credits rolled. A few things came out of this experience.

First, my commitment to my belief in traditional marriage and male/female relationships has been strengthened. The whole "Adam and Steve" concept just does not register with me as being in the order of nature. It is still not an irrational fear, but an appreciation for the order of creation.

Next, I am more committed to the concept of marital fidelity than I was prior to watching this movie. Infidelity is not a victimless act, regardless of the sexual orientation of the person with whom you cheat. In the movie, I really did feel sorry for the women that were married to the two main characters. The degree of unfairness to them just seemed degrading. I can not imagine causing that mental torment for my wife.

Lastly, I sure want to visit Big Sky Country like was depicted in "Brokeback Mountain". The scenery was just plain gorgeous. I would love to be able to wake up in the morning and see the mountains, streams, and rolling hills with nothing around for miles but wilderness. I have actually pondered purchasing a tract of land for a vacation site over the years for this very reason.

If you have never seen the movie called "Unfaithful" with my favorite actress, Diane Lane, I do highly recommend it for the very reason I stated earlier. That movie, too, demonstrates the human side of marital infidelity. The anguish and anger shown in the husband character portrayed by Richard Gere was evident and caught my attention. The betrayal by a spouse causes an intense emotion and pain. All couples who are about to get married or are newlyweds should, in my opinion, watch the movie for the sake of putting a face to their possible actions. It sure strengthened my commitment to my bride when I first saw it. "Brokeback Mountain" just girded up that commitment.

Speaking of my beloved bride, she and I had the occasion just within the past week to take a lengthy trip together. On that trip, as couples often do, we had the opportunity to talk about various topics. We discussed things such as family, politics, our upcoming plans, where to get dinner, and the like. Being that she is the person closest to me, she gets to (or more correctly, has to) hear LaPlante’s rants more than you get to read them.

One topic that came up was her frustration with her perceived lack of regard for the average citizen by our elected representatives. She pretty much feels powerless. Though the recent Congressional election results may seem disappointing to many conservatives, there is no reason for despair. It is entirely probable that the voice of conservatives will be even more ignored by our new Congressional leadership, but that should not stop anyone from making your wishes and opinions heard.

I encouraged her, just as I encourage you, the reader, to express your dismay, your approval, and your opinions on the topics about which you have a passion. My wife is still upset about the method of euthanasia employed by our county animal control personnel. My advice was for her to make her voice heard. Yes, others with a like opinion have been ignored in the past. That does not negate her ability to express herself to her government. When enough people express themselves, perhaps something may get done.

Whether the issue is the use of a gas chamber to whack cats and dogs, bond issues, water tower demolition, Christmas lights in July, national border security, or trash collection services, then it is up to you to make your opinions count.

My opinion was expressed that if one does not vote and then does not make elected representatives aware of one’s concerns, then one does not have the moral right to complain. Rest assured that I don’t give myself carpal tunnel syndrome from typing on my computer and not employ within my own family the views I espouse here. Just ask my beautiful bride.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Reader feedback and my response

In October, I wrote in my column about a problem at one Selma Town Council meeting with council member Jackie Lacy. I never really got any feedback about that column...until the last issue of "The Selma News". In today's Selma News, there was a letter to the editor responding to my column. Click on the picture of the letter to read it.

Below is my response that will be in the mail in the morning.


December 11, 2006

Mrs. Yvette Lacy Grantham
308 Fox Ridge
Louisburg, NC 27549-9769

I am writing to you pursuant to your letter to the editor of “The Selma News” that appeared in the December 7th, 2006 edition of the paper. You took exception to my column from way back in October regarding comments made in an open town council meeting by your mother, Jackie.

For the record, I like your mother on a personal level. She and I have never had anything but pleasant words for one another. However, I do believe that comments like the one made by your mother are entirely inappropriate, regardless of who made them.

You were obviously not in attendance at the council meeting in question. I was, as were dozens of others who heard the actual comment. Furthermore, the council meeting was audio taped by the Town Clerk. The recording is public record and available for the public to review. I obtained a copy of the recording, knowing that I would have just such a reaction from a reader as you have shown. I took the EXACT quote from the tape. I also took the exchange between Charles Hester and your mother and put it on the internet so that anyone could hear the comments for themselves.

Mrs. Grantham, Jackie Lacy’s comments were in no way taken out of context. You mentioned the comments that I made on the internet, as well as in my column. Had you actually taken the time to read the comments on my web site, you would have had the opportunity to hear the comments yourself, in their context. Your argument about contextual error are just plain inaccurate.

If you took the time to listen to the audio, you will find that your mother was not provoked into her comment. Again, I was there and I have an actual recording of the meeting, neither of which can be claimed by yourself. I can understand wanting to defend the honor of your mother, but please do not make up excuses for her behavior. She is an adult and can either take responsibility for her actions or not. If she can not, then she does not belong in public office and does not need fallacious excuses from people who were not eye witnesses.

I would appreciate an explanation as to why you believe that your mother is deserving of an apology in this situation. She made an inappropriate and racist comment in an open governmental meeting. A concerned citizen and media figure, such as myself took note of it. Wherein is an apology warranted TO your mother rather than FROM your mother? This idea is beyond my comprehension.

Furthermore, if as you state, she deserves an apology, please explain from whom an apology is due. Certainly you can not mean that she deserves one from me. I am the messenger, not the one who created the message. Should a newspaper apologize for reporting news? Should an opinion columnist apologize for giving an opinion? Factually, I was correct and took great care in making sure that I was correct. Ergo, there should be nothing worthy of an apology. Your mother, on the other hand, has yet to issue any sort of apology for her inappropriate and racist behavior.

Your assertion that your mother may have said something other than what I have quoted is just plain erroneous. Your assertion that someone else would have said the same thing just because Mayor Hester is from an “affluent area” of town is not only speculation, it certainly does not provide a sufficient excuse for inappropriate behavior.

If my mother made such a comment, I would not be making excuses for her. I would rather politely and respectfully rebuke her. If the situation was reversed and it was a Caucasian individual making such comments to a Negro, there would be great outrage over it. I would be included among those so outraged.

Please explain to me why it is fine for a Negro to make a racist comment but it outrageous for a White man to do so. This is an inequity that I find totally hypocritical and deplorable by those in the Negro community who are of such mindset. Making excuses for bad behavior does the Negro race and local community a disservice. It is comments like yours that cause people like me to despise characters such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. I hope that Jackie would have raised someone with higher standards than those of Misters Sharpton or Jackson.

Please show me where I am wrong in anything I have said and I will apologize immediately. If you do not have the audio I referred to, you can obtain a copy at Selma Town Hall as I did, you can download it off the internet, or I will even make a CD copy for your listening pleasure.

Respectfully Yours,

Troy LaPlante
Author of “LaPlante’s Rants” column in “The Selma News”

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Column for December 7, 2006

So they call me a homophobe. So what?

I have been labeled all sorts of things over the years. I have been called a religious fanatic, a zealot, a right winger, a conservative, a Zionist, a heretic, a false prophet, an Absalom, a racist, and numerous other things I am not even allowed to list in this newspaper. The one that seems to be the latest fad in America is the label "homophobe".

All of the terms I have listed thus far have to do with the ideals that I have stood for. Some have not liked the issues for which I took a stand. Many choices have had consequences such as the loss of relationships with friends, family, and associates. None the less, the stances were based upon principle. The label homophobe has been earned in the same manner by myself and many others whose stance is for old fashioned values.

For the vast majority of the six thousand years of human history (yes, I said 6,000), the concept of homosexuality has been seen as heterodoxy. Only in the last sixty years or so has the push to normalize a behavior once seen as abhorrent been so prevalent. What was once a sin is now deemed by many to be preferred behavior. I find terms amusing sometimes. I love the irony of how homosexuality is actually heterodoxy. The beautiful thing is that I didn't have to look those terms up in a dictionary or thesaurus.

I have even heard Libertarians "jump on the bandwagon" with the term homophobe, or the descriptor, homophobic. I tend to be very Libertarian in my views. Personally, I don't care what people do in the privacy of their own homes. However, I will still find the action (and lifestyle) an abomination, consistent with traditional values since the dawn of time. I will not take the time to write a theological treatise on this topic, but I will at least make my commentary known.

I have heard such gems such as Rosie O'Donnell throw the term homophobe around with reckless abandon in an effort to justify her sinful life choices. I have read a bunch of people professing to be "homosexual Christians" do the same. Besides being an oxymoronic term, it is absurd to profess a belief system and live the antithesis thereof. Of course, I have been called ignorant, hateful, bigoted, and of course, homophobic for saying that. As for me, I will continue to stand for what is right.

Homophobia is "an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals". For the record, I took that definition directly from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for the purpose of having a standard by which to judge. That definition is exactly what I believe and always have. One is not a homophobe because one disagrees with the homosexual agenda, finds it abominable, and takes a stand against its advance. There is nothing irrational about having sufficient spine to withstand the onslaught against a values system that is not only traditional but Godly. Note that the definition does not encompass having opinions contrary to homosexuality and the agenda being pushed by its modern day adherents.

Don't be fearful of taking a stand for the things which you believe to be correct and true. When counseling a young man on spiritual matters over the years, I have constantly said one thing to him. "Stand by what you know to be true." If you stand above the crowd, you will have tomatoes thrown at you from time to time. If a tomato comes in the form of the latest fad of tossing around the term "homophobe", then know that you are in good company.

I know that this is a bit different for my column, but I have heard this same "homophobia" mantra repeated time and again this past week. It just annoyed me to the point that I decided to make this a true "LaPlante's Rant" topic.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Column for November 30, 2006

Stand up and fight against organized crime

If you read the police report in this paper each week, you will find a lot of reports of theft. Theft is committed in various forms. Victims of theft come in various forms, as well. There are more victims of theft than you think, and by the end of today's column, you will know what I mean.

I am sure that many retail stores have dealt with theft by shoplifters, especially with "Black Friday" last week. There are always news stories about such crimes. I actually saw one about calendar stores having a high incident rate of supermodel calendars being shoplifted.

I was a victim of theft just this past week. A man whom I have hired to perform yard work has stolen from me. This man comes to my house often asking for work to do. When I have the work and the cash (I rarely carry cash) at the same time, I allow him to perform chores. I always pay him fairly, often generously. What I do like is that he is willing to work for the money rather than just beg for a handout. This time, however, he has earned my distrust. After the last job, he stole one of my rakes that I left out for him to use.

It is needless to say that the man will never get any more of my business again. He has been in and out of jail for theft over the years. Just within the past few months, he stole from another local resident, and it didn't take CSI Selma long to apprehend him. He had a history of theft, but never against me, so I wanted to give him a chance.

This whole scenario brought to mind so vividly the idea that we do the same thing on a regular basis as taxpayers. We ignore a long history of thievery and yet continue to pay money to known thieves. Surface arguments can be made that citizens of the entire United States were tired of theft by Congress and voted many of the culprits out of office this recent election. If history is any indicator, we will only get more of the same, just a different party at the helm.

On a more local level, we have been stolen from regularly. The Global Transpark has been a boondoggle for years, but we continue to dump millions of dollars into it. Illegal dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway has sucked millions of dollars from taxpayer pockets. The Triangle Transportation Authority (TTA) was sucking millions of dollars from taxpayers and was looking for another billion dollars for a light rail system. Illegal immigrants drain our economy of billions of dollars in government services. A school bond in Wake County is about to steal millions of dollars from taxpayers. We will have a bond referendum here in Johnston County soon.

Believe it or not, I collect antiques. They are not the sort that I can find here in Selma, unfortunately. The latest purchase for my collection has not even arrived yet and I found that I am being overcharged on my credit card. Will I seek to rectify that with the dealer? You bet I will. Do I seek the same with our government? I sure try.

Whether it is a $15 rake taken from my car port, unnecessary tax dollars taken out of my paycheck, fees for emissions testing on my car, or an increase in my property taxes while attempting to tear down an old water tower, I see it all as theft. The heinous part about governmental theft is that it is institutional and seen as acceptable.

When one person steals from you, you have legal recourse, you may get your property or money back, and the perpetrator may go to jail. When government steals from you, it is with threat of force, jail time if you fail to assent, and we as citizens have little recourse.

Get involved. Fight against legalized theft. Contact your elected representatives. Attend town council and county commission meetings. Let your voice be heard. Be like McGruff the Crime Dog, and "take a bit out of crime", even if it is legalized governmental theft.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Column for November 23, 2006

School bonds are NOT "for the children"

"But it's for the children!" we are constantly told. If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it. That is exactly what was learned from Nazi Propaganda Minister, Paul Joseph Goebbels. That tactic is being employed on a daily basis in American politics. The Goebbels Technique, argumentum ad nauseam, is basically repeating the same falsehood until it is accepted as truth.

In May, Johnstonians will decide yet another bond issue for the school system. Just this past week, the bond amount was announced as $99 million. Fortunately, the bond will not be anywhere near as large as the one that the Wake County voters just passed. Ours will be only about ten percent of theirs. None the less, there are still falsehoods associated with most bond issues.

Never believe the lie that we will not have to raise taxes in order to pay for a bond. A bond is merely another expenditure on top of the other obligations we already have or will have. A single issue may not trigger a tax increase, but there are always other factors in budgets. Budgets are not static, they are dynamic in nature.

If charter schools can exist on just the funding per student and absolutely no funding for facilities, then our traditional school system can obviously find better ways of fiscal management. I was listening to a charter school administrator recently speak about how their group runs two different schools, they have multi-million dollar construction going on, and they do it all with less staff and for less money than our government run school system.

Some easy problems to solve with our alleged overcrowding are simple. First, we need to abandon the concept of smaller class size as being superior. What we really need is discipline of those students. Unfortunately, the younger teachers and administrators are products of the same undisciplined system themselves, and therefore do not demand better behavior.

Other simple issues that will lead to better fiscal management are simply to cease the education of students who do not belong in this country to begin with. I have had enough of my tax dollars going to support those who are here illegally while others who wish to come to this nation through legal means are languishing away, hoping for their opportunity to enter this nation.

Charter schools typically use far less staff than do regular schools. Only about 50 cents out of every dollar we pay in taxes go to the classroom in public schools. The average is much better in charter schools, which are lighter in administrative costs. When we have multiple principals, redundant administrators, and pay our Superintendent of Schools more than we pay the Governor of North Carolina, there is a problem.

As taxpayers, we should demand accountability in our school system instead of writing off the costs as being "for the children". For far too long, liberal mindsets have allowed the taxpayers to be shaken down for more money for more and bigger schools, smaller class size, and more staff. Instead of the children becoming the beneficiaries, the true beneficiaries are the labor unions such as the NEA. The largest educators' labor union and their ilk benefit from power, increased union dues from larger staff numbers, increased spending, and the protection of incompetent teachers.

Tell a lie long enough and people will believe it. It is not for the children. It is for the education of our children. There is a big difference. The former is an emotional tug; the latter is rational and evokes responsibility. Is the purpose of our schools to produce children or to produce an education within children? Is it to give a palatial indoctrination or is it to provide an academic environment in which children can learn?

My vote will still be a resounding NO. When my tax dollars are spent wisely and miserly, then perhaps I will change my opinion. We obviously have ways that we can be much more effective and creative with our tax dollars and cut wasteful spending and administration. Unfortunately, it is doubtful that we will have the resolve to change a broken system or ignore the propaganda machine.

Don't even get me started on the idea that the Communist Manifesto calls for universal government administered education…and we are answering that call.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Column for November 16, 2006

Commentary on Election 2006 Results

Since last week's column had to be written prior to the election, I was not able to comment. We now know that the Democrat Party will retake control of the House and Senate. My comment is simply that the Republican Party lost the election, the Democrats did not win it. What I mean is that the Republican Party had a dozen years to make all the changes in accordance with what they espouse. They didn't perform. Instead, they have passed legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley, McCain-Feingold, and No Child Left Behind. They have increased government spending and the size of the institution at an unprecedented rate. They also allowed corruption within their ranks rather than eliminating it immediately. Much like the Bengals vs. Chargers football game I am watching while writing this column, the Republicans have left gaping holes in their defense, allowed their opponents to run many plays run for a touchdown, and they blew a fantastic lead.

The GOP legislators have done a few good things while in office. They have blocked amnesty programs for illegal immigrants, lowered taxes, and allowed the Clinton gun ban to lapse. Look for all of these things to be reversed in a Democrat controlled Congress. Also look for attempts at socialized medicine, federal gun control, an attempted early military withdrawal from Iraq, a weaker national defense, and the cutting of funds for intelligence services and the military. People will usually vote selfishly for the candidates and policies that benefit themselves personally. You will especially find this in many of our citizens who want to suckle off the government nipple like a piglet on a sow. This shows yet another reason to curb illegal immigration and not grant amnesty to their populace. It is obvious that one huge motivation behind allowing their increased numbers is for the voting block they represent.

Regarding the foreseen gun control attacks, I will be donating more money to the organization of my choice for legal defense against unconstitutional gun control legislation. For the record, I am neither Republican nor a member of the NRA and will not donate to either. I have, however, donated to individual candidates of my choice and Gun Owners of America. I encourage you to donate to the causes and candidates you support, as well.

Looking at other results, I only wish the Jim Black, the NC Speaker of the House, was a local politician instead of hailing from the Mecklenburg County area. That way, I could have voted against him. It appears that the scandal ridden weasel may have squeaked a victory by as few as seven votes, as of my last check. Jim Black is perhaps the most blatantly corrupt man in our state legislature. None the less, he has maintained sufficient support to get re-elected. I have a coworker that lives in Black's district. We had lunch together last week after the election. I asked him if he made it out to vote. He said that he did not vote last Tuesday. Half jokingly, I told him that if he and eight other people has gotten off their lazy (censored) and voted, then Jim Black would have been defeated.

Looking at the Johnston County scene, I pretty much predicted all the races with a few minor exceptions. We have little change in the status quo, with a few exceptions such as Susan Doyle's election to District Attorney. I am not looking forward to future elections when bond referenda show up like the gigantic one for Wake County Schools. If we spent money efficiently in the first place, the bond would not be necessary. But I see it on the horizon for Johnston County, and of course we will hear the propaganda mantra that "it's for the children".

As I look at the results of the election, I am reminded of the nation of Israel demanding to have a king like the other nations. Give us a king, they said. They regrettably got Saul. Give us entitlements, socialized medicine, punishment for being wealthy, illegal alien amnesty, higher taxes, and contempt towards our own military. Give us hand outs, increased spending in state government, bond obligations, and we will overlook blatant corruption. Give us a king like other nations, and we got the equivalent in this election.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Column for November 9, 2006

The mid-term elections are over and I am glad they are. This was the most nasty campaign season that I can remember in a long time, especially for a mid-term Congressional and local election. Even races as local as District Attorney have gotten personal and negative.

The problem with negative campaigns is that they work. Exposing your opponent as some sort of immoral deviant is effective. I did learn more about some of the candidates as their dirty laundry was exposed. Some items were profound, others miniscule.

Some of the problems I have seen with elections are not necessarily the mud slinging or campaign tactics. They are nothing new. In watching documentaries about other political campaigns in other time periods, I saw a lot of the same tactics. That is just politics.

The problem seems to be some of the election process itself. One big problem is so called non-partisan elections. They are not really non-partisan, but it sure does cause confusion for the voting public. It is especially futile when partisan political organizations give their endorsements in allegedly non-partisan campaigns. I have voiced this concern many times over the years.

We are expected to know what candidates stand for in order to cast an informed vote. If someone has a Democrat, Republican, other party, or no affiliation, it is possible to at least get some sort of idea of the candidate's alliance or ideology. When voting for school board, judges, or in municipal elections, this is a handy bit of information.

I have looked at the sample ballots and at those from previous elections and see some profound problems. Why should anyone have ballots with or be able to cast a vote for anyone not from their district? The county commission races have three districts on one ballot. Why do we run elections in that manner? It is beyond my comprehension that we should be allowed to even consider marking a ballot for another district. Why do we even have districts if it makes no difference to voters?

Clayton had having a ballot initiative over changing to a system of electing town council members by district. I have advocated this for Selma for some time and it is what I believe to be the best solution for municipalities. There is a lot of puffery and propaganda that Clayton voters will in effect lose their right to vote if the town goes to districts for municipal voting.

This is just what I said, propaganda and puffery. What people are not being told is that the entire crux of the opposition is that some minorities believe that there should be minority representatives on any given elected board and that they are not properly represented if that is not so. The minority groups like voting as a block to cast large numbers of votes for a minority candidate, thereby guaranteeing the candidate's election. They mistakenly believe that they have no representation otherwise. A candidate's quality is not determined by skin color.

District elections allow for proper representation of an entire geo-political zone, not just a particular faction within that region. If there is a good candidate who happens to be a minority, then they should obviously be elected. A candidate should not be elected merely because of one's race. That is blatant racism being employed rather than voting based upon issues and ideals. It is an incredibly ignorant method of voting. No racial group should be guaranteed a representative of their race upon a governing board. The people as a whole, however, should be guaranteed quality candidates regardless of their racial background.

The Town of Selma has no representation on the Council from the entire west precinct. The present electorate consists of all men and women from the east side. I realize that it would take a change to the town's charter, but we should really consider changing our method of election to election by district. In addition, we should consider the addition of a few more members to the Town Council. This would truly give the town a better representation of the entire populace rather than all officials being elected at large. Clayton leaders deserve applause for their courage to at least consider the change in their town. I can only hope that the same could happen in Selma.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I don't write the column titles!

For those of you who read my column in the November 2, 2006 "Selma News", I want to assure you that I do NOT write the column titles that appear each week. I submit the column itself and the paper staff writes the title. Even when I submitted titles, they have written their own.

In the Nov. 2 column, the title given by the paper staff totally distorts the column content and actually yields a totally different meaning than what the column says. For that I wholeheartedly apologize, though it is not something that I have control over.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Column for November 2, 2006

It is almost election time again. I hope that you all are planning to get out and vote and that you are doing some research into what candidates you will support. I did so for the primary election and am redoing that for the mid-term election in less than a week. The election will cover our Congressman, School Board, County Commissioners, judges, and other local offices.

It is no less important than any other election. Actually, perhaps more important, since seldom does an action in Washington D.C. have a greater single impact on every resident of a county than what our local officials do here. It is just lower profile.

I was reading one local media outlet's endorsements for various races. I found the School Board endorsement interesting, if not disturbing. This medium said, "our nod goes to ___ because he is the parent of young children, and young children are what the school board is all about."

I decided to write an email to that candidate after reading this endorsement. I wanted to share some perspective as to why I would or would not vote for him. I am sharing this with my readers because it sums up my perspective and to encourage you to do reading and outreach about and to your candidates and elected officials. I am only editing a few statements for brevity and names.


I read "our nod goes to ___ because he is the parent of young children, and young children are what the school board is all about." I wanted to let you know that I will not vote for you because you have young children. I will most likely vote for you because I actually looked to see who the candidates were and read their candidate profiles. You seem conservative in your approach as well as practical.

You mentioned one thing in your profile "...allow us to continue to grow without having a higher tax burden on the Johnston County families." That is something that I always look for. The views about the burden on the people who pay the bills are important, since that tells me whether a candidate will think creatively or not, and give consideration to efficiency with the millions of dollars we already send to the county schools.

"young children are what the school board is all about." No, young children are NOT what the school board is all about. EDUCATION is what the school board is all about. They are not there to be elected babysitter supervisors or Big Brother. They are there to direct the way in which the county handles its education system. If people would get that concept down rather than all things being "for the children" as an emotional pull for power, then perhaps we could gain back ground in the quality of our education system that we have lost over the years.

If parochial and charter schools can educate children for far less money that we are spending per student and give a higher standard of education at the same time, perhaps it is time to reevaluate our system. Just within the past week, I was listening to charter school administrators who were discussing how their several schools receive the same amount of public money per student as other public schools. However, they do NOT receive any money for facilities. Within the amount of money they receive, they must pay for building construction or rental. They are doing so with great success, even building $12 million dollar facilities. That tells me that our existing public system is extremely inefficient and needs to change. The figure thrown around was that only about 50% of tax dollars for education make it to the classroom. The other half is eaten up in administration. If this is true, I want someone who is elected to work to change that. When our Superintendent of Schools makes more money than the Governor of North Carolina, something needs to change.

If you are in that paradigm, then you will certainly have my vote, not because you have young children.


I encourage you to encourage the candidates you support with your voice, your cooperation, and most importantly your informed vote.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Comment on article headline

Keep in mind that I don't write the headline to my columns, just the column itself. Even when I have submitted a column title, the staff at the paper writes their own. Today's column title was "Nation needs a voter revolution". For the record, NO, I did not write that title and it does not accurately reflect the content of the column. Furthermore, it does not reflect what I mean. I did not mean a voter revolution, I meant an ACTUAL one.

Column for October 26, 2006

I learned a few things this past weekend. I went with a good friend of mine to see the movie that opened last week called "Flags of Our Fathers". It is a historical film about the Battle of Iwo Jima. Of course, it is historical fiction, and I don't expect that every detail will be 100% accurate. I do expect, however, that since there are so many people who are still alive from that time period, there was a lot of archival film and pictures, as well as written history about that time period, that major details would be intact.

Not only did I learn about the war effort and that battle in particular, I learned some about America. I enjoy historical movies and documentaries. My mother wasn't even born yet during World War II, and I used to really get into watching old documentaries and movies about the war. I admit that I am a frequent viewer of The History Channel, History International, and The Military Channel. As I write this column, I am sitting in my living room with The Military Channel on in the background, showing a documentary about Iwo Jima. The release of "Flags of Our Fathers" seems to have spurred a lot of programming of similar content.

The politics chronicled in the movie are just as familiar today as in that time. However, the American spirit was displayed as strong and cooperative. It seems to me that the public sentiment has greatly changed since that time period. One thing that I noticed was the American sense of cooperation and coming together for a common goal, victory in warfare. It seems that we have been missing much of that attitude in the United States since about the time of The Korean War. It was certainly missing during The Vietnam War and both Gulf Wars. One notorious example is the whining about the 2.800 soldiers that have died in over three years of combat in Iraq. In just 40 days on Iwo Jima, the United States lost over 6,800 Marines and had over 20,000 wounded. I do not minimize the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq at all. I do, however, want to put things into proper perspective. Americans have lost their collective will, it seems, and have unrealistic expectations.

It may surprise some to find that I was not in favor of our entry into Iraq for the second Gulf War. If for no other reason, I felt that we should have had a Declaration of War from Congress prior to invasion. I am not going to debate or comment on the merits of the war in Iraq or lack thereof in this column. One thing I will say, however, is that while in a time of war, there will be no peace without victory. Once we are committed and engaged, we have no real option other than to see it through.

One noticeable thing in the movie and recorded in historical accounts was that the people of America showed respect for our soldiers in the 1940's. They had a genuine affection for the men who served and for those who died in the line of duty. The American people came together and supported the war effort by financing the war. The disrespect currently shown to our military and to the idea of standing for what is right is something that upsets me as an American. War bonds raised approximately $26 billion dollars just in the 7th bond drive depicted in the movie to support and supply our soldiers and war efforts. For perspective, the entire 1946 federal budget was around $56 billion dollars. Now our government spends that much without thinking twice. That last concept alone should upset any American. Because of high taxation, redistribution of wealth, and out of control spending, I don't believe that we would ever again be able to have the same unity that Americans displayed during World War II.

I believe that we need a major change; almost a revolution in this country to change this. I encourage all of you to consider how you vote in the upcoming election at every level and evaluate what you do personally to change our nation for the better.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Alternate site for audio clip

In case the audio clip I uploaded to my account is not working (the site host is having issues that count my bandwidth usage over four times higher than actual usage and therefore shutting my site down), I have uploaded the file to another site of mine. Here is the link. You still need Real Player.

Column for October 19th, 2006

I wish that everyone would take the time to attend a Town Council meeting once in a while. You get to see things you may never read about, get to know the nature of your elected representatives, and get a glimpse of how your town works at the top level. I try to attend as many such meetings as I am able, even though I have no standing commitment other than personal interest.

Mayor Charles Hester is now almost half way through his first term as mayor. It is hard to believe, I know. He has been an active mayor with an agenda of items that he believes are actionable and of importance to the town. He is moving forward with that agenda on a regular basis.

The one thing I remember hearing quite a bit last year was Mayor Hester's list of 50 items on his agenda. I have not seen that list and don't recall seeing it published. I would like to see that list made public as a "mid-term evaluation". I am not saying anything positive or negative about the list or its existence, not knowing its contents. I was pondering recently about how in the last year, neither I, nor other citizens I know can recall ever seeing the announced list. It is a good thing to look back and evaluate the progress of the town in the last year.

Another member of the Council that I have pondered is Mrs. Jackie Lacy. At the October 10th Council meeting, as a citizen and just plain human being, I had a hard time keeping my mouth shut in the middle of the meeting. On the meeting agenda was the appeal of a town issued demolition order regarding several substandard housing structures.

During the discussion, Mayor Hester said that the need for cleaning up the properties in town is to get rid of worthless properties, properties that do not enhance the town's image, appearance, quality of residents, and tax base. This is a condensation of what he has said, but you get the idea. Basically to get rid of undesirable properties and people.

When Mayor Hester referred to a similar sentiment expressed previously by Mrs. Lacy, she indignantly denied having said so and declared to Mayor Hester, "You would get rid of the whole Negro race!" I even got a copy of the meeting recording to play it back again. That audio clip is now on the internet at

I find this comment to be totally out of order and unacceptable behavior in public office. It is one thing to make such accusatory and racist commentary in private, but when made as a town official at a public meeting, I find it despicable.

I realize that Mrs. Lacy is passionate about her beliefs, and I guarantee that we both have similar viewpoints about treatment of the races. We obviously differ in many aspects of practice of those same viewpoints.

Nothing was really said or done about Mrs. Lacy's comment at the time it was uttered, but it did not go unnoticed. Had it been Mr. Hester making a racist remark or accusation towards Mrs. Lacy, I guarantee that it would have been in daily newspapers, on radio, and on television the next morning.

I do not personally know all of Charles Hester's views on race relations, I don't really care what they are, and I am not defending him with this column. I do, however, believe that there is an inequity of political correctness that is inappropriate in this nation. I further believe that such behavior, regardless of from whom it proceeds, should never be tolerated by either the Council or the citizens of Selma.

I believe that Jackie Lacy owes a formal apology a formal apology for her remarks to Charles Hester and every constituent in Selma. I will be waiting to see a letter of apology in "The Selma News" at a minimum.

If any of the readers of this column are online on MySpace, look for me as user ID troylaplante.

Disclaimer time: No dictionary was used for the purpose of word selection in the writing of today's (or any previous) column.

Audio file I promised in October 19th column

Here is the audio file that I promised in my "LaPlante's Rants" column for October 19th. You will need Real Player to hear it. If anyone wants an mp3 copy of the clip, instead, email me.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Column for October 12, 2006

By the time that this column is published, the thirty days that the Selma Town Council gave to be able to further study the Cotton Mill water tower situation will have expired. The council will have met on Tuesday evening, and perhaps a disposition announced.

I am on record in this very column and on the internet as being indifferent as to whether the tower should stay or be torn down. To me, the tower is an old rusting metal structure. If it comes down, it comes down. "The Selma News" unofficial web poll is overwhelmingly in favor of saving the tower. There are a lot of people who have signed a petition to save the tower. Signatures, however, are not dollars.

One issue in the debate over the tower is the issue of liability. The tower does not have a sturdy fence for perimeter protection. That is one concept that I can relate to. In a previous career, I worked for a public safety organization performing safety inspections and risk avoidance. The word liability was used quite often. We had five times the population of the entire town of Selma and more area to cover. One of the first things I noticed about the old water tower was that there was no fence around its base, creating a possible liability situation for the town. So I can relate to the liability argument.

One thing that I have written about in the past is the issue of liability. There are many situations in town that are potential liability risks and nothing is being done about them. We have uneven sidewalks that I personally have tripped over. During the recent Railroad Days festival, I noticed many cables near the main stage that were not secured and observed people actually trip and almost fall over them as a result. In that situation, we are talking about thousands of people of risk exposure as opposed to few if any tower climbers. I am just an old safety guy talking common sense here.

The latest estimate to tear down the tower is now as low as $5000. The cost of erecting a sturdy fence to protect access to the tower and limit liability is about $3000. Is it worth the three grand to protect a rusting structure that is not being used when another $2000 will tear down the tower and eliminate the risk? Personally, I say it is not.

The problem that I still have with tearing down the tower right now is that even if the cost is just $5000, that is still money that the town wants to spend in a time when our property taxes have gone up, we have eliminated staff, and cut budgets. Five thousand dollars is a small amount of money and we can probably find it in the budget somewhere, specifically in the water budget, I am told.

I am all for limiting liability, but I am also all for fiscal responsibility. To cut employee benefits and positions while at the same time bothering to spend money to tear down a long abandoned and relatively harmless water tower is just plain bad employee and public relations. It fosters a hostile environment for already affected employees and irritates tax payers out of principle.

Do I think that the tower should come down? From a common sense and professional standpoint, yes I do. Yet I can live with or without it and don’t really care if someone steps up to the plate to salvage the tower. I would love to see proponents of keeping the tower given the chance to raise funds to do so. Let people put their money where their mouths are. The reality is that they would never come up with sufficient funds to save the old tower.

Should it be a priority item for the Town of Selma and the issue be raised at this time? No way. If we can find $5000 in any budget, whether it be a revenue generating stream or not, then that is five grand that could be better managed. Where else could we have found more money to squeeze out of some budget instead of raising taxes and cutting employee benefits? That is the opinion of this taxpayer and utility customer.

Reader feedback Oct. 12, 2006

This feedback came in the form of a "letter to the editor" and was published in the Oct. 12, 2006 edition. As I put this online, I still have a smile on my face.

I am still chuckling over this one. I went to the mailbox and pulled out my copy of "The Selma News". I was told ahead of time that I was going to find a stinging letter to the editor this week about my column. I was waiting with great anticipation for today's edition of the paper.

I find it very amusing that any individual would be offended over the idea that another individual can express themselves well with the written page. Perhaps Dave Holmes feels inadequate or threatened by my punctilious writing style. For the record, I do not use a dictionary or thesaurus when writing to find words for my column or blogs. I do use a dictionary when I need to check on spelling of a word and I don't have spell check or even if my spell checker flags a word I think is spelled correctly. Sometimes that happens, too, since not all words found in the dictionary are in spell check. That is the God's honest truth.

Is there something wrong with being relatively articulate? This, by the way, is not the first time that I have been bashed by those who want a "dumbed down" method of communication. Personally, I prefer to write as if I actually received a modest education, as if I am actually attempting to communicate effectively, and at a level worthy of my efforts. I do not write to impress. It is the message that I prefer to convey, not the style. I do believe in conveying those ideas in a style befitting them rather than articulating them towards the least common denominator, which is apparently Dave Holmes. I don't know about y'all (a little "least common denominator lingo" there), but I was taught to write, speak, and even non-verbally communicate in an effective and precise manner; or at least attempt to do so.

Are my opinions conservative? Abso-freakin'-lutely! I make NO apologies for that whatsoever. People generally love or hate commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and the like. Though I personally look up to Rush as a sort of hero in the broadcast industry, I do not seek to emulate any of them. Others that were loved or hated that I have read behind are Barry Goldwater and William Loeb. I grew up reading The Union Leader, Loeb's daily paper. I still read the online edition and scan for storied of interest to me on a daily basis. I love the conservative politics of Goldwater, having read "Conscience of a Conservative" many years ago, and even the new documentary "Goldwater on Goldwater", which I recorded. I found Goldwater too liberal for me on social issues such as abortion, however. Goldwater was also a heathen, to my knowledge, regardless of his Jewish or Episcopal roots.

Anyway, back to the letter to the editor. My views were not the reason I was not elected to town council last year. I can easily list several right here, as I did almost a year ago. First, I have only lived in Selma for four years now. Three as of the last election. I was not well known in town then. That has apparently changed (snicker, snicker). All other three candidates were known by the public, having been in Selma all their lives. Two of the other candidates were also incumbents. Incumbents always have the advantage of experience and name recognition, not to mention voter apathy. One candidate is Negro, which attracted the minority vote. Combine that with her past work with the NAALCP, and that a strong voting block.

I spent relatively little money ($700 is not little to my budget, but I did learn a lot from that experience), had relatively little time to be able to campaign, etc. I make no excuses for that. It is just the reality. Another reality is that even if I did do a lot of campaigning and spend a lot of money, in all likelihood, nobody else would have beat the two incumbents.

I DID do fairly well by comparison in my own precinct. I got a real good percentage of the vote on the west side (my own side) compared to the eastern side. I came within just 13 votes of the next highest vote getter, who had been on the ballot before, knew far more people, and has been a Selmite all of his life. I was told by several people that I did a lot better than they expected. In retrospect, I guess I didn't do too bad in the election. Many of these factors will be different next time around.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Column for October 5, 2006

Just as I was contemplating the very topic, a former classmate of mine forwarded an email that contained a famous quote. I was unsure about the validity of the quote, so I did some research.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury." The quote was used by Ronald Reagan and is commonly attributed in one form or another to either French author Alexis de Tocqueville or Scottish professor Sir Alexander Tytler, depending upon the source.

The quote continues, "After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that the Democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, to be followed by a dictatorship, and then a monarchy." Does that sound familiar? We are living that very loose fiscal policy with our federal and state governments today.

I have been preaching for decades now that the use of welfare, the Social Security system, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicare, and other government entitlement programs is nothing more than a clever means to enslave the masses. I will even take it as far as to include our "education lottery" in that category. Basically, people will vote for candidates that will appropriate public treasury dollars to go into their constituents' wallets or some benefits that behoove themselves in exchange for their loyalty and votes. What benefits you get are often dependent upon your level of poverty, which is alleviated by more government subsidy. It often becomes easier and economically beneficial to totally rely upon the government nipple for one's source rather than enjoy the freedom to succeed or fail on one's own.

What did the "Civil Rights Movement" of the Sixties accomplish? That depends upon to whom you pose the question. Personally, I say it accomplished a lot. The equality of opportunity is there. I see it regularly in a multitude of people I know and observe, and relish its effect.

I also see the converse effect. It is a shame that many people whose ancestors were freed from physical slavery have been enslaved their own selves in the mentality that they are not good enough to make it in life without the assistance of the government. This is a travesty, a disservice to any man, and it is an immoral attack upon liberty.

However, that wide sweeping attack upon personal liberty, initiative, and success has been perpetrated upon people of all races and backgrounds in this country. As long as people look to someone other than themselves, their families, and God Himself for their constant supply, then they are enslaved and become serfs.

Enslavement is for the sole purpose of maintaining power over a group of people. Public funds are voted out of the treasury at about every level of government, whether it is constitutional or not. Those monies are funneled into redistribution programs that take the place of self-reliance and liberty.

Do you see that this enslavement has been foisted upon our populace for generations? Now look at the topic of several recent columns that I have written. This same tactic is being used to further enslave immigrants to this nation, whether they are legal or not. When illegal immigrants in this nation are granted driver's licenses, they get to vote. They are granted welfare, food stamps, Social Security benefits, and free health care. The idea is to allow them to vote for those who will continue to give them free money. It is nothing but attempted enslavement for power.

If you pay taxes in this country, then you help to shoulder the burden of this heinous plot. If you pay into the Social Security system with no other plans for retirement, then you have bought into slavery. The same goes for health care, housing, utilities, education, and food supply. I am not talking about a helping hand on a short-term basis, I am talking about life long and generational enslavement.

America is not a democracy, thankfully. We are a Republic. The quote, however, is just as applicable. Exercise your freedom. Take personal responsibility. Throw off the yoke of bondage. Above all, remember this the next time you go to vote.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Column for September 28, 2006

I wanted to take this moment to thank each and every one of you for reading this column. Over the past few weeks, I have received a lot of feedback from readers, for which I am grateful. Whether you like the column, hate it, or are indifferent, I am glad to see that people are reading.

I visited the East Coast Old Furniture Festival on Sunday in Uptown Selma. One thing that I am glad to see is that people are starting to come together as a group for a common goal. Antique dealers, the Selma Development Partnership, and outside dealers have all gotten together to put on an event to their common interest. For only being the second show, especially under the circumstances surrounding the promotion of the show last year, it is good to see that people want to work together. All of you involved in the show have my respect for that.

I would love to see more such cooperation in town, so I hope that spirit of cooperation continues. There are a lot of relationships that can be cultivated, resources that can be shared, and a sense of community that I hope will resonate in Selma.

Along that same line of thought, I was able to attend the Selma Strategic Planning Committee meeting last Thursday night. If for no other reason than to hear what is being planned for the future of our humble town, I recommend that citizens attend a meeting. This also applies to the regular town council meetings. I try to attend as many of these meetings as possible. The meetings are not just fodder for my little newspaper column. They are my link to my town. Yes, I said MY town. I take ownership of my part in this town, and I can only wish that all citizens felt the same way.

When the municipal election season was heating up last year, I was not totally decided upon for whom I would vote for mayor. I had met both candidates at various times over the years. I had a chance to see the incumbent's record on issues, and had newspaper interviews that I was all too familiar with.

Since November's election, I have had the chance to observe Mayor Hester, his policies, his attitudes, and his leadership. I feel that I must give honor to whom honor is due. At the Strategic Planning Committee meeting, for the first time that I can recall, I actually heard that the mayor and a town manager in Selma announce some long range plans as to where they believe that the town needs to progress.

The last time I heard any real long term plan was a decade ago and was in essence, "Hey, let's refer to downtown as "uptown" and fill it with old furniture stores." Again, I have no problem with people selling old furniture in "uptown" at all. Actually, I applaud the effort of each and every business owner in town. It just wasn't much of a long-term plan for the future of the town. There is a lot more to planning than having a theme of stores in your business district. We could fill every store with parakeet toys, have a caged bird toy festival each year, and with sufficient effort, have a thriving business district.

What I have seen thus far from Mayor Hester is a vision for expanding the tax base in town, improving our infrastructure, encouraging business, residential development, and hopefully, long term wider based taxation. That, my fellow citizens, benefits us all as taxpayers and citizens.

Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with the decisions of our town administrators, I do want to encourage the forward thinking and planning that is happening now. Past shortcomings in this area have hindered our town's growth. I also want to encourage each of you readers to become more involved in your town's affairs. Contact your elected officials, attend the local meetings, and take part in YOUR town's future.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The official "LaPlante's Rants" online store

I worked some on an online store for stuff with the LaPlante's Rants logo to help promote the column. Feel free to take a look at the online store and get yourself a calendar, tote bag, mug, or shirt. I guarantee that the prices on the site are not gouging for profit. I wish I could afford to just give them away, but I can't.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Feedback received

Here is an audio file of some feedback I received on my reader hotline after my column ran today.

Column for September 21, 2006

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about the need for local towns, including Selma, to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. I wrote about Hazleton, Pennsylvania and their ordinance dealing with illegal immigration. That ordinance, by the way, is available for viewing on

Every so often I see something so incredibly outrageous that I just want to scream. I was doing some surfing on the internet and found a news bite about former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt. He was addressing a conference of education professionals. He believes that we need to make public education more affordable for the children of illegal aliens by giving them in-state tuition rates in our state university system rather than nonresident rates.

Illegal aliens already abuse our health care system, flood our hospitals and clinics, get welfare, food stamps, fill our K-12 school systems, and some politicians are trying to give them Social Security benefits. Why in the world should we continue to subsidize them by helping with their higher education? Of course in-state tuition rates will be subsidized at taxpayer expense. In-state students usually get preference over out of state students. What this means is that people who are not here legally will get preferential placement over legal citizens as well as cheaper tuition.

Legal citizens in any other state can not get in-state tuition rates here in North Carolina. These potential students may have been born and raised here in the United States, already held jobs, paid taxes, and paid into the Social Security system. They may be spectacular athletes, exemplary citizens, totally law abiding, and even wonderful scholars. However, someone who broke the law by entering this country and continues to scoff at the law by remaining here will get lower tuition rates than any of these students if Mr. Hunt's idea is undertaken.

The odd thing is that Hunt claims that we need to offer in-state tuition to illegal immigrants to produce a more educated work force. Yet we are told by pundits and those who support open immigration that these same immigrants are necessary to take low paying and unskilled jobs that Americans are unwilling to take. Well, which is it?

The whole idea of giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens is just plain unfair to our citizens, taxpayers, and any student that has to pay out of state tuition rates in North Carolina. It is also unfair to every alien waiting to legally enter this country for a better opportunity. Rewarding criminal behavior is not only unfair and fiscally irresponsible, it is just plain morally corrupt.

Jim Hunt is quoted on the internet as saying "Education is our future - it's everything." Education is important. However, we are educating our own citizens and illegal aliens alike to believe that honest hard work, playing by the rules, and ethics are not as important as taking short cuts, ignoring the law, and demanding public assistance for reward. This will only contribute to a populace that will become morally bankrupt and a public financial picture that is just plain bankrupt. Let us not rob the future of those who deserve our support and give it to those who literally steal that future.

I realize that the children of illegal aliens may not have willingly come here illegally and are the responsibility of their law breaking parents. However, that does not change their status. Nor does it make it any more fair to tax payers, legal immigrants, and in this case, out of state students. Furthermore, we all realize that it is not just children of illegal immigrants that will take advantage of the lower tuition rates, if enacted.

Perhaps out of state students just need to claim that they are illegal immigrants rather than honest American citizens that just happen to live in another state. Then at least they may have a chance at getting the slot in one of our schools that would be denied them because that place is being taken by an illegal alien...and for a lower price.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Column for September 14, 2006

The Johnston County Schools have been in the news a fair amount lately. The schools have reportedly done well compared to the entire state in SAT scores. The School Board, however, has not done so well. The students they are working to educate have shown more acumen than they have. As has been reported about the school board complaining about not getting all the money that they wanted for their annual budget. The county's Board of Commissioners voted to give them 149/150th of the budget the school board requested. There was early talk about a court battle over that last one million dollars of the budget.

The School Board at first refused to have a meeting with the County Commissioners to discuss any issues. This was the status quo for about a month. I tried to follow the story the best I could, in this paper and in other news sources. Just Friday I read that the School Board has finally agreed to meet with the Board of Commissioners. By the time this column runs, the meeting will already have happened.

Well, hallelujah! This should have been a "no brainer" from the beginning. Instead, the school system resorted to complaining, threats, and whining. They attempted to mount a media campaign for the last 1/150th of their budget. Apparently that spin campaign must not have worked out as members had planned. Now the School Board will talk directly and openly with the organization that "writes the checks" for their budget.

A month ago, the Board of Education passed a resolution to only "one on one" with the County Commissioners rather than meet at a scheduled open meeting this week. Two Board of Education members had the "spine" to stand up against this resolution, but were voted down. Larry Strickland and Donna White both dissented on the vote to be secretive.

I am not going to tell all of you how to vote in the next election, but I will certainly keep this knowledge in mind when going to the ballot box in November. Closed and secret meetings are not the normal thing to do and should only be reserved for matters of personnel confidentiality and legally sensitive matters. The same goes for special meetings. Other than that, all such meetings should be open to the public and on the record for all to be informed about the proceedings. There are regularly scheduled and open meetings for a reason.

One of the main reasons for wanting to boycott the open September 11th meeting was the excuse of The Board of Education having insufficient time to present its list of needs and concerns. That is perhaps one of the most lame, arrogant, and irresponsible excuses that I have heard in a long time. As with a child needing comfort and assurance, the School Board was subsequently guaranteed sufficient time and follow up meetings, as needed.

My opinion is that there is a procedure in place to handle financing the school system. The County Commissioners are elected to be the ones who decide how much money the Board of Education gets to spend, not the other way around. If the Commissioners have decided that this is the way it is going to be for now, then so be it. Enough of the whining. The Johnston County School System budget was set, now deal with it.

I would be more inclined to support increased funding requests when our Superintendent of Schools does not have a higher salary than the Governor of North Carolina. And when we are not paying for the education of students that are in our country illegally, Johnston County Schools stand at the top of the state in every metric, and wasteful expenditures are eliminated. It is, after all, our money that is funding the schools. Why should we as citizens demand anything less?

Either way, it looks like we may have another bond on the ballot in the spring of 2007. If all goes according to history, the bond will be passed and the Board of Education will get everything they wanted, anyway. I can't recall the last time a bond referendum was defeated. Get ready to open your wallets.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hazleton Ordinance

Before my next column gets published here, I wanted to take the time to include the text of the Hazleton, Pennsylvania orinance referenced in the column. Here it is.



This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "City of Hazleton Illegal Immigration Relief Act Ordinance."

The People of the City of Hazleton find and declare:

A. That illegal immigration leads to higher crime rates, contributes to overcrowded classrooms and failing schools, subjects our hospitals to fiscal hardship and legal residents to substandard quality of care, contributes to other burdens on public services, increasing their cost and diminishing their availability to lawful residents, and destroys our neighborhoods and diminishes our overall quality of life.

B. That the City of Hazleton is authorized to abate public nuisances and
empowered and mandated by the People of Hazleton to abate the nuisance
of illegal immigration by diligently prohibiting the acts and policies that
facilitate illegal immigration and punishing the people and businesses
that aid and abet illegal aliens.

C. This ordinance seeks to secure to those lawfully present in the United States and this City, whether or not they are Citizens of the United States, the right to live in peace free of the threat of illegal alien crime, to enjoy the public services provided by this city without being burdened by the cost of providing goods, support and services to any whose presence in the United States is contrary to its laws and to be free of the debilitating effects on their economic and social well being imposed by the influx of illegal aliens to the fullest extent that these goals can be achieved consistent with the Constitution and Laws of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Whenever used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
"City" means the City of Hazleton.
"Contract employer" means any person who obtains the services of one or more individuals through a day labor agency.
"Illegal Alien" means any person whose initial entry into the United States was illegal and whose current status is also illegal as well as any person who, after entering legally, has failed to leave the United States upon the expiration of his or her visa.
"Legal Work Status" means that a person's employment is not in violation of any law of the United States, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or this Ordinance.
"Vehicle" means a vehicle as defined in Pennsylvania Vehicle Code as the same now reads or may hereafter be amended.

Any entity or any parent, affiliate, subsidiary or agent of any entity (other than a charity recognized as exempt from federal income taxation under Sec. 501 of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States and which has obtained and continues to have in force an exemption from federal income taxation), that employs, retains, aids or abets illegal aliens or illegal immigration into the United States, whether directly or by or through any agent, ruse, guise, device or means, no matter how indirect, and even if the agent or entity might otherwise be exempted from this section, or violates any provision of this Ordinance, shall from the date of the violation or its discovery, whichever shall be later, be denied and barred from approval of a business permit, renewal of a business permit, any city contract or grant as follows:
(1) For the first violation for a period of five years,
(2) For any subsequent violation, for a period of ten years.
A. "Aids or abets" includes, but is not limited to:
(i) hiring or attempted hiring of illegal aliens,
(ii) providing, renting or leasing real or personal property to illegal aliens,
(iii) funding or providing goods and services to illegal aliens, except as provided in Sec. 4 C.,
(iv) funding, providing goods and services to or aiding in the establishment or continuation of any day labor center or other entity providing similar services, unless the entity acts with due diligence to verify the legal work status of all persons whom it employs, provides job assistance for or in any way assists or facilitates in obtaining any employment.

B. Except as provided in C., any action or failure to act done within the boundaries of this City that aids and abets illegal aliens or facilitates their avoiding detection and apprehension anywhere in the United States, its territories or possessions violates this Ordinance.

C. This Ordinance shall not be construed to prohibit rendering emergency medical care, emergency assistance or legal assistance.


A. Illegal aliens are prohibited from leasing or renting property. Any property owner or renter/tenant/lessee in control of property, who knowingly allows an illegal alien to use, rent or lease their property shall be in violation of this section.

B. Any person or entity that violates this Ordinance shall be subject to a fine of not less than $1,000.00.

C. A separate violation of this Ordinance shall be deemed to have been committed on each day during or on which a violation occurs or continues.


A. The City of Hazleton declares that English is the official language of the City.

B. Unless explicitly mandated by the federal government, the state of Pennsylvania or the City of Hazleton, all official city business, forms, documents, signage will be written in English only.


If any part of provision of this Chapter is in conflict or inconsistent with applicable provisions of federal or state statutes, or is otherwise held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction, such part of provision shall be suspended and superseded by such applicable laws or regulations, and the remainder of this Chapter shall not be affected thereby.

ORDAINED by Council this 13th day of July, 2006.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Column for September 7, 2006

Column for September 7, 2006

At the risk of sounding like Mel Gibson after a night of drinking, I did want to bring to the forefront something that is pretty much already there. I am not getting on the bandwagon on this topic, but have been blowing this trumpet for almost two decades now.

When school bonds are reaching $1 billion in a neighboring county and Johnston County Schools are looking for more money and space, I wonder why. I have read figures that estimate that as much as 52% of our school's increase in population is because of illegal immigration. Just within the last week, I read news reports that Johnston County Schools have increased enrollment by about 1500 students this year. 52%, folks.

Some statistics show that illegal immigrants cost the U.S. Government $2700 more in services than they pay in taxes. That does not account for the local costs of schooling, medical care, law enforcement, accommodations of foreign languages, prison populations, court costs, and various public assistance programs.

Roughly 60% of Selma's residents are property renters. The remaining 40% of us, in reality, shoulder the burden of responsibility for the services used. Many of these renters are in fact illegal immigrants. I need only to sit on my front porch steps or visit Wal-Mart on Sunday to realize this.

If the federal government is going to continue to abrogate their responsibilities in regards to securing our borders for the sake of national security and immigration control, then it is unfortunately left to our local governments. The State of North Carolina has not "stepped up to the plate" so it is unfortunately left up to the local counties and towns to take care of the issue.

Visit the emergency room at the local hospital, the county health department, and read the police report in this paper. Tell me that we are not paying for these services as taxpayers. Tell me that it is appropriate that we should continue to pay for free medical care, education, food stamps, welfare, and coming soon to an alien near you, Social Security benefits for those who flaunt the law to enter this nation. We should not tolerate this as taxpayers any longer.

One town, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, realizes the drain on their finances, not to mention the moral consequences of allowing illegal immigration. Hazleton started denying business permits to companies that hire illegal aliens, fining landlords who rent to illegal aliens, and made English the official language of the town.

The Town of Selma has passed measures that help curb the hemorrhaging of money because of non-paying utility customers. If we started requiring proof of legal status of immigration for utility customers and business owners, that would help cut that problem down. Forget what the State says about how we should run our town in that regard. They don't pay our bills, hire our employees, or run our utility. Let's have the courage to do what is right rather than what is required.

If the federal government is going to continue to abrogate their Constitutional responsibility, it becomes our responsibility by default to do something at the local level, even if it is not pleasant or seems hateful.

I do not comprehend why any government official would not want to take action against the continuing waves of illegal aliens draining our resources. When our towns and our schools are feeling the crunch, it is time to have the guts to do something about the problem. I applaud the town leaders in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. They had the fortitude to stand up and refuse to take the burden any longer, which is the morally and fiscally responsible thing to do.

I can only hope that leaders in Selma and across the nation will have the spine necessary to deal with this issue. It is not an easy thing to do, is not popular with some groups, but it is the right thing to do, in my opinion. By the way, my position on this has absolutely nothing to do with race or culture. It has everything to do with the rule of law, financial responsibility, ethics, and fairness. Period. My opinion is my own and does not necessarily represent that of the staff or management of this newspaper, though it probably should.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Feedback received on August 31 column

As included in each column and on this page, I offer an email address as well as a telephone voice mail line for reader feedback. Here is one message I got today about today's column.

Audio file of message

August 31, 2006 column

I have enjoyed writing this column so far. I am grateful for the opportunity and love it when I hear or read feedback from you. It shows that you are reading, for which I am again, grateful. Whether feedback is positive or negative, it is just plain glad to see.

I want to clarify a few things that were brought up in reader feedback, specifically in the letter to the editor in last week's paper. When writing a column such as this, I can not target specific businesses, nor do I intend to do so. By definition, antiques mean old stuff, hence the word. I am not critical whatsoever of the concept of an antiques store, but rather of the concept of a town having created and maintaining the motif of an entire town's downtown business district as an antique dominated theme. This business model, in my opinion, deprives the local citizenry of a diverse downtown that would better attract the very people who live here.

I, too, was here a decade ago and remember what "uptown" was like. Poor planning and practices contributed to the plight of Selma's downtown, not the lack of antiques. There were then and are now, long standing businesses in town. Antique shops are not the savior concept for Selma. Business friendly practices were and are. I spoke out about it then on the radio, so no, I am not a little late with my comments. I have written extensively about this on the internet, as well.

Going back to my column in question, I commented favorably about the business friendlier practices the town is adopting, and am hopeful for more diversity in our downtown business district. I do believe that a more diverse business district will attract a more local, repeat customer base, rather than being dominated by out of town or state visitors.

I have not claimed that I don't go downtown at all, but only that there are not a lot of shopping interests for me. How do I know? I have visited "uptown" regularly for years, seen the stores and the merchandise offered. I am not in the market for old furniture or house wares, ergo there is little reason for me (or your average citizen in Selma) to visit many local businesses. This is not by any means a "slam" to those businesses. I encourage and applaud the entrepreneurship. Just remember that a business will either attract or deter visitors based upon the type of business. When a particular type of business dominates a downtown, that will in general, attract a niche type of customer and repel those not so interested. That was my point and is fact.

One part that gets personal in the letter to the editor deals with getting involved versus just talking about things. Well, in the interest of fairness and truthfulness, I do recall volunteering several times to serve on town committees under two different mayors and two different town managers, both in private, as well as in open council meetings. It is a matter of public record as well as published on the internet. I also seem to recall running for election to the Selma Town Council last year, which only four out of 6,600 residents of Selma were willing to do. I have also been writing regularly on the internet and now for this newspaper. I serve on a county committee and I contact some of my locally elected representatives regularly about issues. If that is not working to be one of the "some that do", I guess I don't know what would be considered to be so.

I do thank you all for reading, for your feedback, and encourage you to all become the "some that do". Make yourselves heard. Contact your local media outlets, your elected officials, and civic groups. If you disagree with a policy, program, or issue, speak out. I am glad that Ms. Wagaman spoke out and wrote to the editor. I can only assume that she is the same individual who left me feedback on my reader comment line. I encourage all of you readers to exercise that same freedom and speak out about the things that spark passion within you.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Column for August 24, 2006

Anyone who has read any of my writings knows that I am a strong supporter of liberty. I tend to follow in the footsteps of the "founding fathers" and often look back to many of their writings. It is no different for this column.

The Town of Selma is going to condemn numerous properties in town. These properties are largely abandoned, dilapidated, and neglected. If someone wants to allow their property to sit in such a condition, it is their right to do so. In our Declaration of Independence, we read the familiar phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".

That "pursuit of happiness" was nearly "estate", "property", or another synonym. John Locke wrote before the Declaration about "life, liberty, and estate". That is how highly the regard for personal property was held in the country's early days. As a matter of fact, the phrase "life, liberty, and property" was actually included in the Declaration of Colonial Rights, adopted by the First Continental Congress on October 14, 1774.

However, with rights comes responsibility. John Locke also wrote "no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions". If someone wishes to abrogate that responsibility and the property therefore becomes a public nuisance or danger, then the property rights cease.

I remember during the 2005 town council election season when a property owner approached me, a candidate, and expressed to me his dismay about the town enforcing an ordinance requiring tall grass within the town limits to be kept mowed. He, too, believes in private property rights. When someone's property affects mine because of vegetation overgrowth, debris, vermin, odor, or dilapidation, there is a dividing line between where his rights end and mine begin. When my property value is affected by someone else's misuse of property and abrogation of responsibility, it becomes the responsibility of a local government to step in.

The idea of an ordinance, building code, or governmental standards pertaining to property is not a new concept. In 1790 to 1750 or so B.C., the ruler of the Babylonian empire, Hammurabi, instituted a building code of sorts. Within "The Code of Hammurabi" were laws governing property damage and construction. They were obviously nowhere near as elaborate as today's code, but the need to address such issues is certainly nothing new.

I don't know many people who strongly support personal liberty as I do. This is in a theological sense as well as in the secular world in which we live. I learned a long time ago to deviate from legalism in its various forms. However, along with that freedom, I also always preach responsibility. The two are seldom preached in couplet.

It is a lack of personal responsibility that claims that one's rights are being infringed upon when restrictions are placed upon those rights by reason of personal action (or lack thereof). I take that same position when it comes to topics such as abortion and freedom of the press. When television networks complain about governmental censorship over irresponsible language, sexuality, and behavior, I have little sympathy for their cause. When women use the guise of personal liberty to abrogate responsibility caused by a lack of responsible behavior and choose to slaughter the life of an innocent child, I have little sympathy for their cause.

I am glad to see that the Town of Selma is attempting to make this "A Charming Place to Be". Issues such as substandard properties that affect not only the neighboring properties but the entire town are being dealt with. As mentioned in one town council meeting, some property owners have requested town assistance for compliance with the reasonable request of maintaining their own property. Rightly stated by Mayor Hester, it is not the town's responsibility to provide funds to that end. It is, however, the property owners' responsibility to maintain their own property in order to maintain their rights to that property.