Thursday, January 29, 2009

Column for Jan. 29, 2009

State budget woes and education issues can be solved easily

I have one child in kindergarten at Selma Elementary School and will have a second child there in about five and a half years from now. The school may be moving to a proposed "enhanced" school calendar. Basically, the school year will be extended by starting earlier and ending later.

In principal, I have no real objection to the concept of a school calendar change, or even going to a "year round" school. Though I would personally prefer that students not go to school before Labor Day, I can deal with the proposed calendar change. I do, however, have problems with the reasons behind the proposed change. Believe it or not, there is a direct correlation between the school's problems and the state's current budget problems.

On January 8th, there was a public meeting at the Selma Elementary School auditorium to hear about the proposed calendar change. My wife and I had planned to attend, but unfortunately I ended up working late that night and was personally precluded from attending. At that meeting, the calendar was explained and the majority of the parents who were in attendance voted for the calendar change.

Selma Elementary has some real challenges facing them in terms of academic achievement. According to this very newspaper, "One parent asked, “How would [this] benefit my child?” [Principal] Jett replied students in remediation would get caught up without summer school." Therein lies part of the problem. To change every student and every family's schedule for the sake of those in "remediation" is nothing short of lowering everyone to the lowest common denominator. Because some students are not as advanced academically as others, the rest of the school has to accommodate those at the bottom tier.

The Selma News also reported in the same story that Selma Elementary School ”is made up of lower income families…46 percent of students are Hispanic, 30 percent are black, 17 percent are white, and 7 percent are other." When the majority of students are not from a family in which English is the primary language, parents can not teach their children the basics of education at home, and there is usually a language barrier to education.

Illegal immigrants to this nation generally have little or no education and are not fluent in English. Parents can not teach their children what they do not know themselves. When schools are being "dumbed down" to the lowest common denominator, the entire school population suffers. The academic ranking of Selma Elementary School unfortunately reflects this.

Governor Beverly Perdue had a huge photo opportunity when she went to Washington, D.C. to beg for federal funding to help North Carolina make up the 2 billion dollar budget shortfall. After reviewing the budget for only two hours, she claims to have found about a billion dollars she could eliminate from the budget but can not find a second billion. Thus, she is hopping on the bail out bandwagon and begging for federal tax dollars.

Actually, the shortfall is partly the federal government's fault, considering that they have abrogated their responsibility in protecting our nation's borders and controlling immigration.

I can solve both Governor Purdue's problem and the Selma Elementary School academic achievement problem at the same time. They are both linked to the same common problem. Eliminate every last education dollar that goes to pay for the education of children of illegal immigrants or for illegal immigrants themselves, as well as any other expenditures catering to them.

If we stop paying for health care, welfare, food stamps, and education for those who do not belong in this country, we can easily solve many government budgetary woes. The state gives tons of money for education, but in Selma, a disproportionate amount of the students for which the state is paying are very likely here illegally to begin with.

If we stopped paying for the food, shelter, and health care of those who are not supposed to even be in this nation, we will save billions of dollars. If we stop printing government manuals, instructions, notices, and paperwork in a second language, our governmental printing costs would dwindle.

Two seemingly very different problems at two levels of government are actually very much tied together. They can both be solved if we only had the fortitude to do what is necessary and put a stop to it. North Carolina's current budget gap problem solved, Selma Elementary School's academic standing problem solved. Of course nobody will have the guts to actually enact the solution.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Column for Jan. 22, 2009

I keep hearing "Selma has a lot of potential, BUT…"

I occasionally run across someone with whom I end up in a conversation about the town of Selma. Whether it is as a result of my writings here or on the internet, or in the course of conducting the affairs of life, I will find people who are genuinely interested in the town. This week I ran across a man who lives on the outskirts of town when I was shopping for my new car. He is a salesman for a dealership and when I told him where I live, he recognized my name and he began to say that "Selma has a lot of potential, but…" Alas, I hear that sentiment a lot.

When doctors diagnose disease, they start with exhibited symptoms. I often see symptoms in every organization, employer, and government. Some are good, some not so much. Just one symptom I always look for is how one esteems the time and effort of others. That tells me a lot about a person or group of people. It may seem to be nuance, but it is indeed telling.

When I have spoken with other men about Selma, to a person, they have wanted to see the town prosper. Some wish to find a way to get involved. I was one such person, hence my service on two town boards and being on the ballot for elected office. My tenure of service, however, has me a bit perplexed at times.

According to the town web site, "It is the Citizens Advisory Committee's purpose to advise the Town Council of the interests and grievances of individual citizens and citizens' groups. The Citizens Advisory Committee is also responsible for filling vacancies on all the other committees and boards and recommending them to Council for approval." Since being appointed to the Citizens Advisory Committee over two years ago, I have yet to be asked to attend a single meeting of the board. Yet in that time, we have gone through two town managers, the hiring of a new fire chief and its resulting aftermath, a planned ethanol plant and the subsequent protests, forced annexation and subsequent protests, extra-territorial jurisdiction expansion plans and subsequent protests, the writing and implementation of a Strategic Plan for the town, and several other things that come to mind.

Organizational methodology is often the result of one of three things. A. "That is the way we always did it." B. At the time, the circumstances dictated it be done a certain way. C. Efficiency. Our new town planner and town manager have been working to make things more efficient in areas wherein we were lacking. I appreciate these efforts.

It was not long before efforts at efficiency were thwarted with the call for a special meeting of the Planning Board for some minutia. Board members made plans for attendance and canceled life's plans. The meeting was not in compliance with public meeting laws, so it was postponed for a few weeks, though still abnormal in its schedule. Again, plans had to change to accommodate a seemingly capricious meeting schedule.

I mentioned the idea of symptoms of systemic problems, among them being the esteem of the time and effort of others. In one example, the Citizens Advisory Committee, the time and talent of its members are held in low esteem as they have never been asked to advise on anything. Perhaps the committee's apparent obsolescence should require its abolition. In the example of the Planning Board, its members' time and effort have been held in low regard for the sake of service at the whim of an oligarchy.

There is a paradigm in Selma about which I was warned long before I ever moved or worked here. A man who pioneered a church in this town relayed to me the difficulties he had with the town's culturally ingrained mindset. I have been attempting to pick away at that paradigm like a man swinging a pick-axe on a mountain. Alone, it will take a long time to tear down the mountain. With others' help, the mountain will be eroded faster.

I have been asked to possibly fellowship with other like-minded people here in Selma. I make this invitation to all those who think with a conservative mindset, who want to share ideas, or just want to work together to make Selma "A Charming Place to Be". If you have such a desire for fellowship, contact me through this newspaper, through, at PO Box 822 in Selma, or at my email at the end of this column.

May we all work to change the sentiments of "Selma has a lot of potential, BUT…"

Friday, January 16, 2009

Column for Jan. 15, 2009

Beware that planning and zoning ordinances can lead to regulatory tyranny

There are many tools at the disposal of legislators for the control of the masses. Control can take many shapes. Speed limits are a form of behavioral control. A speed limit curbs one's freedom to operate a motor vehicle at any speed one so desires in consideration for the safety of the whole of society. To that end, we in this nation do indeed legislate morality.

In the effort to legislate moral issues, there are always standards employed. Some may say that it is not a high moral standard to stamp out private property rights. Some may say that it is not a high moral standard to deny two people, allegedly in love with each other, the right to marry. We regulate marriage all the time. Law dictates that I have but one wife at a time. That is a moral stance on the issue, as articulated in statute.

I am free to own property. To deny the right to own property would be antithetical to our nation's founding principles. To allow me to own property and yet deny me the freedom to use it for reasonable purposes can be just as tyrannical as to deny me the right to own it in the first place.

When I speak of legislation I do not refer only to the national level of government. Cities often use planning and zoning laws to restrict behavior and freedom. For instance, it is required to have a certain amount of square footage of land upon which to build a dwelling. That is not an unreasonable requirement, considering that with a lot the size of a postage stamp, one dwelling would infringe upon the neighboring property and the property rights of others.

By the time this column is published, the Selma Town Council will have held a public hearing on whether or not to disallow future duplex (two family) homes in the MDR, or Medium Density Residential district. Since I serve on the town's planning board, I have seen this issue come up twice in the past two months.

Selma has a problem with 60% or more of its citizens being renters rather than single family dwelling owners. Renters typically do not have as much vested interest in the town, in property taxes, in the aesthetics of the property, and rental homes often attract a lower quality resident than would purchase property. This is a fact that the town wrestles with, as it has pointed out in its Strategic Plan. I have previously commented upon the plan extensively, yet not exhaustively in this column.

In the planning board meeting, I made the following observations and declarations.
1. The town does indeed have a problem of a disproportionate number of its residents being renters as opposed to home buyers.
2. Regardless of the need to change the proportion of home owners versus renters, private property rights need to be respected.
3. There are many people who own duplex and rental homes for a living.
4. The MDR district is fairly full as it is. There are not a large number of empty lots on which to build, anyway. I doubted that the move would have much impact, if any.
5. The MDR district was designed precisely for single family homes and duplexes.
6. To eliminate duplexes from future additions to an MDR zoned area is contrary to the very essence of what makes the MDR district MDR.
7. To tell a person what he can or can not do with his private property when it fits the intent of the zoning ordinance is not ethical and is denying private property rights.

It is for these reasons that a month ago, the motion was made in the planning board meeting to change the zoning ordinance to eliminate the future building of duplexes in the MDR district but it failed for lack of a second. The second time this discussion and vote came up on January 5th, the majority of the board members felt as I did and voted to recommend that the town council not change the zoning ordinance. Of course the planning board is only an advisory body with no binding authority, and the town council will do what it wants.

I grow tired of the quality of tenants in the duplexes in my own neighborhood. I despise Mariachi music at 1 AM as much as anyone. I have seen drug deals go down with other tenants in the neighborhood. I hate it. But I hate the deprivation of private property rights even more. I agree that Selma needs to have a better quality of residents moving here and a higher percentage of single family homes. I just do not believe that oppressing land owners with zoning requirements that can lead to local regulatory tyranny is the correct methodology. By the time this column is published, we will know where the town council stands on the matter.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Column for January 8, 2009

I was attacked by lesbians, but I survived

I can tell that I am going to have fun writing a column when I get attacked by a group of lesbians and homosexual men. People will make all sorts of excuses for their abhorrent behavior and turn the tide against someone who takes a stand for traditional family values.

I am active on the web site, Facebook. I have a lot of friends from church groups, political groups, family, and both local and long distance contacts on both Facebook and Myspace. I am more active on Facebook, however.

On Facebook, people often post links to news stories of interest. This one woman posted a link to a story about how some Congressional leaders are taking a stand against the radical homosexual agenda. As a Christian, a conservative, a parent, and a citizen, I have a major problem with the agenda of the radical homosexual movement. Don't get me wrong, I could not care less what people do in the privacy of their own homes. I just don't want it flaunted in public, taught as normalcy, and certainly do not want my children (yes, soon to be plural) indoctrinated into such a paradigm.

There were several people in this discussion who were lampooning conservatives for paying attention to such a thing as an advancing homosexual agenda when we have a "financial crisis", war, and whatever else they find to be important issues of the day. I find the repulsion of the homosexual advance just as if not more important, since it is a destroyer of family, of morals, and the very order of nature.

These people were clamoring that they have civil rights and that these rights are being denied to them by ignorant, Bible thumping fundamentalists such as myself. I was told that there exists a two way separation of church and state, though it is not in the Constitution, nor were the words of Thomas Jefferson taken in their context for the usage of that term.

There are several things I noted during the discourse. The homosexuals attempted to minimize their agenda to three things: military service, monogamy, and parenting rights. There was no mention of indoctrination of children, demanding the accepting of divergent sexual behavior as a civil right, and the recognition of a class of people who choose a particular behavior as a protected minority class.

The last one is a civil argument that few are willing to tackle or be intellectually honest concerning. The truth of the matter is that homosexuality is a choice. Regardless of the spurious claims, we are talking about behavior, not about something genetic such as skin color. If such behavior is indeed genetic, we can make excuses for criminal behavior, as well. Perhaps Charles Manson has a gene in his DNA that gave him a propensity for violence and murder. If it is genetic, then he can not help that behavior and we should release him from prison, since he is not responsible for his actions. Of course that rationality is absurd, but it is the end result of that thought process.

My assertions of homosexuality being a choice, that the homosexual agenda is much more far-reaching than the three points, and that homosexuality is a sodomite, divergent behavior were never denied. Instead, the sodomites chose to find personal fault with the messenger. This is a typical liberal tactic. Since they could not refute my logic, the discussion boiled down to a lesbian attempting to claim moral superiority over me because her lover is a female veteran of the Gulf War, whereas I was never in the military. Because she sleeps with a lesbian that was honorably discharged for the armed services, I guess that makes her above reproach. She gains credibility for her lifestyle by association with someone with military service, in her opinion. Ergo, in her estimation, I am not allowed to condemn sodomy as evil. The argument is so twisted it is not funny, but somehow the tactic, as illogical as it is, gets employed by homosexuals and liberals incessantly.

When I pointed out the hypocrisy of her supporting a candidate for President such as Barack Obama, who has zero military experience, to become Commander in Chief while impugning my stance for traditional family values, the finger was again pointed to me. I was told that I had no moral grounds to say that a female war veteran and sodomite is practicing evil.

It is this sort of perverse logic that is used to excuse sin as a civil right. Those, like myself, who stand up and say that it is inexcusable behavior and not to be given the status of a civil right, will be labeled as bigots and judgmental. If people want to label me as such, fine, just stand in line. We will continue to face such moral decay and cries for civil rights where they do not exist. Resist the cry. Stand for righteousness. There is an ultimate judge to whom we all must give account.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Column for Jan. 1, 2009

A permit to purchase ammunition coming to a town near you?

I was told that I was yelling "the sky is falling". I was told that I am an alarmist using scare tactics. And yet I have been proven right yet again. I am a freedom advocate. I believe in your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I believe that there are plenty of people who will stop at nothing to take away that right. And of course, I am correct.

Three years ago, I had a disagreement with the National Rifle Association over the efficacy of their involvement in a grass roots manner, especially on the local level. I was informed that their organization only attempts to involve itself on the national and maybe state level. I was told that local politics were not important and not worthy of their efforts. The ironic thing was that they told me this while relocating their annual convention from one Ohio city in protest of municipal ordinances in that town against gun ownership and freedom. The NRA is so myopic in their activism that I gave up my membership a couple of years ago.

It figures that gun control nuts will attempt to subvert the right to keep and bear arms in any way that they can. The latest attempts are nothing new to me, but are new to many people in Durham, North Carolina. On the other side of the Triangle, Reverend Melvin Whitley is attempting to have enacted a "bullet ownership" law. Melvin Whitley is a so-called community organizer and activist. He is a liberal and is active with the NAACP. He believes that by curbing or severely controlling who can purchase ammunition, that we will cut down on gun related violence.

I personally invited "Reverend" Whitley to sit down for an interview about a year and a half ago when I first heard of his proposal. I offered to give him a full hour on my talk show to make his case for the plan. He never responded.

Melvin Whitley's plan would call for anyone purchasing ammunition in Durham to have procured a special permit from the local sheriff in order to do so, just as is required to purchase a pistol in NC. There are a couple of problems with this idea. First, the City of Durham has no right to impose upon the local sheriff for anything of the sort. Second, the program is yet another tax upon law abiding citizens that will go through the procedure and pay for a permit while the lawless will avoid the procedure. Third, what part of "shall not be infringed" is so hard to comprehend? One can not utilize a firearm for which one can not obtain ammunition. As a collector of antiquated firearms, I am all too familiar with this concept. Available ammunition is part and parcel of keeping and bearing arms.

Want to know the funny thing about this whole proposal? The system of obtaining a permit from the local county sheriff for the purchase of a pistol is a 1950's era law that was intended to legally institutionalize racism. Since all sheriffs were (at the time) White in a segregated society, they could use their personal discretion to deny a pistol purchase permit for anyone they chose. This was a "good old boy" way of prohibiting Blacks from getting guns and thereby limiting their freedom and ability to defend themselves. Requiring people to get a permit for ammunition is using the same system from the roots of racist oppression to ostensibly prevent gun violence, particularly the Black community.

Mr. Whitley has yet to find a willing sponsor for the bill in the NC General Assembly, but he has two willing accomplices on the Durham City Council already. If passed in Durham, it would be a matter of time before other towns would follow suit. Once the concept gains traction, it will be a matter of time before it gains support on a state-wide level.

I tried to tell the NRA that such issues are worthy of their attention and support of pro freedom candidates at the local levels of government. I saw issues such as this coming to the municipal level years ago. I pray that no elected official in Johnston County would be so stupid as to consider such a permit.

If the "good reverend" Melvin Whitley is so concerned about protecting the Black community from violence, as he so states, then perhaps his goal would be better served by proclaiming the gospel for which he is ordained rather than attempting to limit the freedoms of his fellow, law abiding Americans.