Saturday, June 30, 2012

Those Awful "Urbanites"

Hattip: James, at BlueNC.

Forbes has released its 2012 Top 25 Cities for Business and Careers, and four of the 25 are Democratic bastions in North Carolina, where -- you know -- crushing regulation, taxation, and the complete theft of personal liberty has rendered everything a vast wasteland that no true American patriot would want to occupy.

Our favorite of the four has to be Asheville.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Gov Perdue To Veto Republican Budget

That's good news.

It'll now come down to the veto-override vote in the NC House. One of the Five Goobers who voted last year to override Perdue's veto of the last Republican budget told the News&Observer, “They don’t have the votes to override, and they know it,” without enunciating, by the way, exactly how he might vote.

WRAL is running a "veto override watch," paying particular attention to the Five Goobers and other Dems who voted for this budget before it went to Perdue.

Did Jordan Double-Cross Soucek?

Early on in his crusade to do the Templetons' bidding, Sen. Dan Soucek assured the NC Senate committee considering his "local bill" to eliminate the Town of Boone's extraterritorial jurisdiction that he had the backing of the rest of the local delegation. That is to say, he said he had the support of Rep. Jonathan Jordan, since it's customary for "local bills" to have the full support of all members of the House & Senate representing that area.

If Soucek did actually have Jordan's support, or was merely speaking out of his alimentary canal (as is his wont), he most assuredly did not have Jordan's support when Senate Bill 949 actually reached the NC House for action. Jordan pointedly did not show up to support the bill in the House Rules Committee. And he is now evidently in favor of side-lining Soucek's initiative into a "study" bill, which is just another name for "face-saving." Study bills are where problematic legislative ideas go to die.

Why Jordan, the Art Pope fellow-traveler, would be in favor of cutting off Boone's water supply and not in favor of crippling her ability to maintain zoning regulations in the ETJ is a mystery past the talents of mere mortals to decipher.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sen. Soucek Finally Tells a Truth

From Anna Oakes' most recent update on Dan Soucek's Screw Over Boone Act of 2012, in the Watauga Democrat:
Soucek said, “There has been a developer who has been very, very loud.”
In the senator's individual case, that would have to qualify as the understatement of the month.

In Jeff Templeton's case, that would have to qualify as being forced involuntarily out of the shadows.

We also find unusually instructive the smug self-interest and screw-everybody-else casualness of Rep. Paul Stam of Apex, who said "he would not support eliminating the ETJ in his county of Wake nor statewide, but that he could support a bill doing such in the mountains...."

That Rules Committee meeting on Monday brings new meaning to the term "circle jerk."

And where, by the way, was Rep. Jonathan Jordan? Hiding behind the door?

The Latest on Soucek's ETJ Bill

Rep. Ruth Samuelson
In a puzzling move, Senate Bill 949 was moved off the House calendar yesterday and sent back to the Rules Committee. The scuttlebutt in Raleigh is that key Republican opposition to Soucek's stupidity was the motivating force for sidelining it. Odds are now that it will be converted into a "study commission" and buried.

The key Republican opposition has reportedly come from Rep. Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County, a former county commissioner and currently Majority Whip of the House.

Meanwhile, local Watauga County media has been lining up against Soucek's Special Favors for Developers Act of 2012:

David Rogers, The Blowing Rock News:
A more constructive approach might have been for Mr. Soucek to hold one or more highly public "town hall" type of meetings for people to air their opinions and grievances in how the Town of Boone is applying its zoning and planning regulations to ETJ residents and property owners, and the value of an ETJ to begin with.

The Watauga Democrat:
The wise direction would have been to resolve the issue with Boone lawmakers, but in presenting Senate Bill 949 to eliminate Boone's ETJ powers, Sen. Dan Soucek misguidedly chose a route that will surely be mired in constitutional challenges....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jonathan Jordan Gets Trimmed

NC House Rep. Jonathan Jordan's recent and sudden conversion to environmentalism was a laughable fiction. His newfound solicitousness for the New River against the simply awful Town of Boone's planned water intake was a transparent smokescreen.

Whatever Mr. Jordan's true purposes, protecting the environment and the river was not one of them. A certifiable John Locke free market conservative, Mr. Jordan has a record, and it does not comport with ecological concern.

Mr. Jordan is one-half of the "Bobbsey Twins of Make Boone Suffer," along with Sen. Dan Soucek. Their combined assaults on Boone's municipal future seems quite coordinated, and if not in perfect synch, at least share the appearance of like-mindedness.

The fact that Mr. Soucek's big-developer puppet-masters WANT that New River water for their steep-slope plans perhaps collided eventually and definitively with Mr. Jordan's "kill bill." It was, after all, the Republican leadership of the NC House that has shelved Jordan's bill, not the "lib-ruls."

The most recent constituency to rouse itself against Jordan is the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, that notorious gang of bleeding-heart progressives, whose opposition to Jordan now has the representative defensively stuttering that "Boone needs water. Everyone knows that." It now appears that Mr. Jordan's only concern was the exact location of that water intake, not the need for the water intake.

Conservatives On the U.S. Supreme Court Must Be Crazy

The Supreme Court this a.m. has overturned Montana's century-old law limiting corporate contributions in political campaigns. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, reached the bizarre conclusion that "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption," and therefore "[n]o sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations."

How's that for a firm grip on reality?

The Movement Against Soucek in Boone's ETJ

The following arrived in our in-boxes late last night:

Dear friends & family,
As you may or may not have heard, the bill to eliminate the Boone ETJ* is expected to be VOTED ON THIS MONDAY, JUNE 24. And all predictions thus far are that it will pass. The bill has been introduced and structured in a way that there is no recourse if it passes: no appeals, no governor vetoes allowed.
What does this mean to you? If you live in, or bordering, the ETJ, you will no longer have the zoning protections that are given because you are part of the ETJ.
What does this mean in real terms? Your property value and quality of life will be affected. Here are a few ways the elimination of the ETJ will affect residents:
- No more protection from homes being turned into student rentals. If your neighbor can't sell their house so decides to rent it to a fraternity, there will not be a thing you can do about  it. (I’m not maligning students -- I was one, after all -- but the lifestyle of 19-21 year olds typically is a bit more rambunctious than that of us old farts who are working 8-5+, raising families, or enjoying retirement).
- No more protection from development that doesn't fit the neighborhood. If you live in a residential neighborhood in the ETJ, future development has to be residential, or a hearing must be held for exceptions. Without the ETJ, anyone can building anything in your neighborhood: an asphalt plant, an apartment building, a gas station, a convenience store. The only reason the proposed asphalt plant has not been built on Bamboo Road is because the location is in the ETJ. (For a few select “high-impact” polluting industries, Watauga County passed an ordinance that would require them to plant trees so you can't see it from the road, but that's about it in terms of restrictions.)
- No protection from signs and billboards. If your neighbor wants to put up a 35-foot lighted billboard, there’s not a thing you’ll be able to do about it.
*ETJ = Extraterritorial Jurisdiction = an approximately 1-mile area surrounding the Boone city limits. In the ETJ, we have zoning regulations and enforcement without having to pay taxes for it. (We do not get water, sewer, or garbage pickup, or Boone police protection -- you have to be part of the Town of Boone to receive those, and of course you would have to pay Boone taxes). In NC, all towns with populations of more than 2,500 have had the authority to create ETJs since 1959. About 3/5ths of all towns & cities in NC have used that authority to create ETJs. If you aren't sure whether you are in the ETJ, check out . Neighborhoods on the eastern side of Boone which are currently in the ETJ include Deck Hill, Ravens Ridge, and much of Bamboo & Deerfield.
SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO?Monday is our only opportunity to kill this bill, or at least delay it until the public gets a chance to be heard. Here is what you can do:
Starting tonight and all day tomorrow (Monday June 24), call every NC House Representative that you can, especially those who are on the “Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.” Also call Soucek. See below for contact info and hints.
Fax a letter to as many Representatives as you can, especially those on the “Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House.” See below for contact info and hints.
If you have time, also email the Representatives and the bill’s sponsors (Senators Soucek, East, & Hise) . Or if you cannot bring yourself to call and don’t have time/ability to fax a letter, an email is better than nothing. See below for contact info and hints.
If you can, go to the committee meeting in Raleigh. The Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House meets at 5:00 p.m. Sign up to speak if they will allow it (they don’t have to), or if you’re too shy, at least show support for others who will be speaking against the bill. How to visit:
Spread the word to your neighbors!

For emails/phones of all House Representatives: (Click on Representative’s name for their contact info).
For emails/phones of the members of the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Soucek's ETJ Bill To Be Heard in House Rules Committee Tomorrow

The Dan Soucek "Big Developer Enhancement and Bonanza Act" (a.k.a., Senate Bill 949) has passed the NC Senate and is under consideration in the NC House, where it is supposed to be heard by the House Rules Committee tomorrow (Monday) at 5 p.m.

We managed to receive a copy of the following intercepted e-mail addressed to the Republican leadership of that committee and some other members of it:

Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2012 3:58 PM
Subject: Boone ETJ
Importance: High


I oppose the bill to remove Boone’s ETJ powers.

I grew up living in Boone, NC, currently own undeveloped land in Watauga County outside the Town limits, presently reside in Durham, and have helped host over a dozen family members visiting and renting accommodations in Boone and in Watauga County in the last two weeks. I first moved to Boone in 1957, and my family ties there go back to before 1950. I worked there as a land surveyor two summers during college, have watched the impact of growth as my family has added to our land holdings there over a span of 50 years, and do have some awareness of the issues facing the Town and County and their history, especially on issues of expanding population and housing.

I urge you not to pass the ill-conceived bill that has made it through the Senate that would remove Boone’s extra-territorial jurisdiction over some aspects of Watauga County. While many would prefer a simpler world, the Town and County are not isolated entities and necessarily must function like an inter-related ecosystem, in aspects of water, view-shed, projected growth, and governments. Over-simplification of the issues divorcing the two, while making a good political sound bite in these anti-government times, ignores the important realities of the relationship and interdependence. The Town and ASU bring valuable business, income, resources, and human capital to the area, all of which significantly benefit the County and its residents. At a minimum, let’s take a step back from that decision to review its real impact.

I hope that you will see through the thinly veiled attempt of some long-time, powerful developers and their political pawns, who have only their personal, selfish, short-term interests at heart, to limit the Town’s involvement in issues that are critical for the entire area in the future evolution of a reasonable, spreading community.

Thank you for considering serious implications of this for ourselves and for our children’s children.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Southern Baptists: "Gay Rights" Are NOT Civil Rights

The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in New Orleans, elected its first black president, proving that racial justice can eventually penetrate even the most fossilized doctrinal mind, and then the Convention turned right around and affirmed its belief that "gay rights" is not and cannot ever be the same as "civil rights." The new black president of the Convention apparently approved that formulation.

Monday, June 18, 2012

SBC Goes Heretic Hunting

Watching from this distance the accusations of "heretic" being tossed about within the Southern Baptist Convention, I'm reminded of something Robert Ingersoll said more than a century ago: “Heresy is a cradle; orthodoxy, a coffin.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jonathan Jordan to Town of Boone: Drop Dead

Photo: Watauga Democrat
Rep. Jonathan Jordan, our chair-warmer in the NC House, has now joined Sen. Dan Soucek, our rocket scientist in the NC Senate, in a united war on Boone.

Jordan has finally -- as expected -- introduced a "kill bill" to stop Boone's water intake on the New River.

That's after a local referendum that passed with over 70% of voters saying they were willing to have their rates raised so that Boone could have a dependable supply of water for the next generation. That's after over six years of work -- assessing needs, measuring current water capacities, finding and purchasing land on the New River, going beyond Department of Environment and Natural Resources regs for minimizing impacts on adjacent landowners, making sure the intake pipe was below the river bed so as to preserve recreational rafting, spending months obtaining the necessary state and federal permits. That's after investing $1.5 million in public funds to ensure that Boone can grow responsibly.

Will Soucek sign on to the "kill bill"? It would certainly be a new and easy way for him to punish the town he clearly hates. He's been heard by staffers around the General Assembly to declare that he doesn't care what happens to Boone, because Boone doesn't vote for him. And that's the most logical impetus behind both his and Jordan's vendetta against the town: its residents tend to vote Democratic.

The only problem for Soucek is that the big developers who pull his strings want that water. They just want it without the hassles of following land-use development guidelines in the extra-territorial jurisdiction. If Jordan's turd bill passes, no one gets any water. New development grinds to a halt. A town that can't grow begins to die.

Neither Jordan nor Soucek regard Boone as part of their constituency. But the wreckage they've been busily causing will be their lasting legacy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Deborah Greene, Candidate

Deborah Greene, candidate for Watauga County School Board, came in fifth of seven candidates in the May 8th primary. She led the effort in Watauga County to pass the anti-gay amendment, and she lost that fight. Since then she’s been expanding her base thusly:

1. Attacking Appalachian State University students as “useful idiots” and “the little sheep” bleating “baah baah baah” as they vote. Greene has demanded that the state Board of Elections and the local Board of Elections shut down all future Early Voting sites on the ASU campus.

2. Attacking the Watauga County Republican Party: “What Republican Party? There isn’t one,” she wrote on the Watauga Conservative on Monday.

3. Attacking specific Republican Party candidates as non-conservatives, specifically Tommy Adams, who is running for County Commission and who evidently opposed Ms. Greene’s beloved “marriage amendment.”

4. Attacking the Town of Boone and its “goons,” by which she appears to mean the citizens who serve without pay on the Planning Board and the Board of Adjustment. She has been the primary cheerleader for Sen. Dan Soucek’s disgraceful Senate Bill 949, The Big Developer Enablement Act of 2012.

5. Insulting the residents of Roby Greene Road as selfish “urbanites” for fighting the location of an asphalt plant in their neighborhood

Ms. Greene’s most recent postings on Watauga Conservative reveal that she sees the 2012 elections as a holy war by “the rural people” against ... well ... pretty much everyone else. It’s a somewhat strange electoral strategy on her part to seek an elected office by self-consciously narrowing her voter base. (Note on Deborah Greene's blog activity: She regularly posts under a variety of screen names and may well be the majority poster on Watauga Conservative.)

She’s announced, for example, that “Allen Trivette's 194 Tire is the Meat Camp headquarters for conservative candidates only (others not welcome)”  (Watauga Conservative, June 11). OTHERS NOT WELCOME could be Deborah Greene’s candidate slogan. We expect to see it on yard signs any day now.

Friday, June 08, 2012

North Carolina Republicans Declare War on Science

You've probably heard that the North Carolina General Assembly (the cluelessness of Sen. Soucek, squared) is moving forward on a bill to strangle science before it can project sea-level rise on our coast that might imperil developers and their plans to develop. The revised legislation would ban -- ban -- sea-level rise projections that are based on global climate change data.

Pushing this piece of head-in-the-sand ignorance is a group calling itself NC-20, referring to 20 coastal counties which stand to lose the most in development dollars if builders actually pay attention to scientific research. And guiding the intellectual argument against science for NC-20 is one John Droz, about whom Laura Leslie posted an investigative report late Wednesday night.

It says a great deal about the quality of our current legislative majority that John Droz is the "authority" they are listening to.

Previously, in our great moment as national laughing stock:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30cThe Word - Sink or
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Update on S949

This is the Soucek bill that actually passed the Senate committee of jurisdiction today, 5-4:

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Town of Boone shall
not exercise any powers of extraterritorial jurisdiction as provided in Article 19 of Chapter
160A of the General Statutes.
SECTION 2.  This act becomes effective June 30, 2013.
The key difference from the first version is Section 2, the effective date. No study committee established, which is what Mr. Soucek led Boone officials to believe yesterday he was going to recommend, and then today in the committee meeting said he had changed his mind. Proving nothing so much as the old political adage:

You can't out-think a man who ain't thinking.

Putting off implementation a year does not get Boone's elected officials out of their dilemma. If ETJ is to end in June, 2013, then why would they now continue to siphon off their water supply to areas outside their municipal boundaries, especially when all that area is going to revert to no-zoning controls, no regs, no land-use planning?

And how does this satisfy the "I WANT IT NOW!" appetites of Jeff Templeton and his cohorts, who have put Soucek through this excruciating display of puppet-on-a-string floundering? Mr. Templeton was at the Capitol in Raleigh today, though he did not bother to come to the committee meeting. (When you're as powerful as Mr. Templeton, you don't need no stinkin' committee meetings!) Others, particularly residents of Boone's ETJ, did show up and were allowed to testify, but Mr. Templeton stayed out of sight for the most part. Is he pleased with this resulting bill? I wouldn't be if I were him.

Certainly, Nathan Miller's clients (note the sidebar in the right-hand column at the link), who are trying to reactivate a bankrupt cement plant despite multiple code violations, can't be particularly happy either to wait a year to see the burden of zoning regs lifted so they can do as they please.

It's clear that Sen. Soucek blinked. His year's delay solves nothing, settles nothing, and makes him look ... just confused.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Rush Limbaugh's Next Failed Marriage Will Be His Fourth

Hal Crowther, one of the sharpest commentators we have in this doomed state of ours:
"...Debates about marriage are always stimulating, but for me the unifying theme here is bullying. It was unlucky for Mitt Romney when high school classmates unmasked him as a teenage bully—especially because his victim was targeted for looking effeminate. It was unfortunate because Romney will be the presidential candidate of a party where bullying is becoming the norm, and nowhere more crudely than in North Carolina. Bullying is picking on the easiest target in sight, whether that individual is small, weak, conspicuously different or highly unpopular. It's what all the nastiest cowards do with their aggressions...."

Sen. Soucek Looking for the Escape Hatch?

When you go off half-cocked, things sometimes blow up in your face.

We're hearing that Sen. Soucek is now amending his Senate Bill 949, the notorious attempt to strip Boone of its extra-territorial jurisdiction, to send the issue to a study committee for a year.

This is unconfirmed.

It's also very likely that the senator is trying to back out of his uninformed meddling in municipal government, given the seismic shudders that his coddling of the big-developer special interests caused in the existing ETJ, and elsewhere.

Dear NC State Senators: Intercepted E-Mail

Dear NC State Senators

Before the Senate is a bill, S 949, introduced on May 30th, that seeks to effectively eliminate all zoning around Boone, NC, and on which you will be expected to vote soon.

Because this bill is presented as LOCAL, there exists the danger that it may be given supportive votes by busy colleagues who are "less than conversant" with the specifics of the bill.

It is for this reason that I write, so that each of you will be sufficiently familiar with this bill prior to your vote, and will not unknowingly align yourselves with what is already being discussed as corruption.

Watauga County is represented by Dan Soucek, a freshman senator, who, bless his heart, has apparently taken some bad advice. He is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 949.

Mr. Soucek, it has become apparent, relies overly much on the backing of a small clutch of developers in Boone who are and have long been openly intent on overturning the local ordinance that prevents high-density development of the viewshed. High-density development means apartment complexes. A word unfamiliar to many but easily understood, viewshed refers to the view that is shared by everyone, and specifically to the steep, forested hills that surround Boone. The viewshed is the reason tourists visit the Boone area and the viewshed is an asset that cannot ever be replaced. Disturbing it is just a bad idea and everybody knows it. It is bad for business, bad for tourists, bad for the future of Boone. The obviousness of this makes it very hard to accept that Senator Soucek actually understands the impact of what he is proposing or worse, that he does understand the damage to be done and would still continue with his proposal of Bill S 949.

This cadre of commercial developers has already been rebuffed by the voters in Boone and Watauga County, twice. One developer openly funded the campaigns of four candidates for the Boone Town Council in an effort to railroad his positions, but failed, as only one of his candidates was chosen. Now, in what must be a very expensive effort to circumvent the electorate that opposes them, these guys appear to have underwritten a state senatorial campaign as well. It is a shame to see young Senator Soucek put in such a challenging ethical position at this stage of his career, but there he is, seemingly representing the interests of a very few businessmen at the expense of and against the wishes of a majority of residents, as expressed through their votes.

The bill, S 949, was certainly not discussed as it should have been with the residents of the affected areas, among which I count myself, and does not have any degree of local support beyond those who might profit directly from its passage. The voters of Watauga County have made it clear that they do not want this kind of development, and yet here is this bill before you, asking that a persistently greedy few be allowed to spoil the landscape.

Senator, I along with many others ask that you pay close attention to this bill so that when we see your vote we may trust that it represents your informed position.

Respectfully submitted,
Banister Pope
Boone, NC


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

When Last Heard From, The Senator Was Clueless

Sen. Dan Soucek’s “local bill” depriving Boone of the power to exercise its authority in its extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) is totally uncharted territory. No one, certainly not an elected member of the NC General Assembly, has ever put forward such a radical rug-pulling.

While it’s clear that the senator hasn’t thought through the consequences of his own bill, it falls to the Boone Town Council and its administrative staff to probe its implications. (Yesterday, I heard one local wit say that although Senator Soucek’s bill is only one sentence long, he could have shortened it even more to “Bend over.”)

In Senator Soucek’s interview with Anna Oakes, published in Sunday’s Watauga Democrat, he said he didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Soucek’s bill reads, “The Town of Boone shall not exercise any powers of extraterritorial jurisdiction as provided in Article 19 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes.” Senator Soucek, that IS both the baby and the bathwater too: subdivision regs., public hearings on controversial developments, building inspections – Article 19 is very long, very detailed, very thorough. The whole permitting process is covered by Article 19, and if that’s thrown out, it’s gonna be the Wild West in the ETJ. Zoning regs gone, steep slope regs gone, presumably even fire inspections gone. No storm-water abatement. You name it.

So what happens? Does the county authority – such as it is – step in and perform building code enforcement in the ETJ? Considering that the chair of the County Commission, Nathan Miller, was part of Sen. Soucek’s posse in delivering the local-bill message to the Town of Boone, we see no likelihood that the county might choose to exert itself for the public good in this instance. It's always been hands-off for the county in the ETJ, but that was when the town had authority.

What becomes of the ETJ appointments to the town’s boards and commissions?

Some 315 properties in the current ETJ currently receive the town’s water, sewer, or both, and they have agreed to the town’s development standards to receive those services. What happens when those development standards are moot because of Soucek’s bill? Businesses in the ETJ will be able to do as they please, expand in any way they want, ignore rules on setbacks, signage, sidewalks, you name it. Will they still continue to receive city water/sewer services even if they violate the implied contract they entered into to receive the water in the first place?

Why do local real estate ads promote properties that are in the ETJ, as a selling point? Because of the guarantees for controlled growth that that designation has always meant, guarantees that will be thrown out with Mr. Soucek’s bathwater, if the NC General Assembly actually passes this ill-considered and corrupt piece of special pleading.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Big Tent Party

Our thanks to Rob Schofield for pointing out this clause # 3 under "Individual Liberties" in the new North Carolina GOP platform, cobbled up in Greensboro this past weekend to give voice to every personal prejudice harbored by every last one of that pursed lip, tight-sphinctered, self-righteously judgmental, Taliban-like congregation:
3. Government should treat all citizens impartially, without regard to wealth, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, sex, political affiliation or national origin. We oppose all forms of invidious discrimination. Sexual orientation is not an appropriate category.

Schofield is quite correct, that you cannot read that clause in any way that doesn't declare quite openly that the Republican Party of North Carolina has decided that discrimination against gay citizens is A-OK with them. Government-sanctioned discrimination, which gives the lie to their other cover story, that they are for small, non-intrusive government.

The Men Pulling Dan Soucek's Strings

Anna Oakes in yesterday's Watauga Democrat names the men who accompanied Sen. Soucek into town offices last week to lay the groundwork for his bill to remove Boone's right to extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ): "...accompanying the senator were Republican Watauga County Board of Commissioners Chair Nathan Miller; Perry Yates, a Republican county commissioner candidate, contractor and owner of New River Building Supply; Keith Honeycutt, a former Republican county commissioner; Jeff Templeton, a Boone Planning Commission member, owner of Templeton Tours and member of a family of developers; Gary Knight; and Sam Adams."

Why? Because he didn't understand what his own bill would do, and they did? Because he might have lost his nerve, and they wouldn't? Because he lacks the rationale for his own actions until someone else supplies it?

It's clear from Oakes' article that Sen. Soucek doesn't understand the implications of his own bill, has not thought it through, and is perhaps incapable of thinking it through. According to Oakes, Soucek "said he ultimately did not envision the bill eliminating Boone's ETJ altogether," though that's exactly what the language of the bill would accomplish in one fell swoop. Then he falls back on a totally empty cliche: “We don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water,” he said. Which is precisely what his "local bill" would do. Soucek, according to Oakes, followed that brilliant non sequitur about babies and bath water with a piece of grandiosity wherein he imagines he's doing his own thinking and taking his own actions: “One of the good things about this is I have complete control over this bill. I'm not going to let this slide in an irresponsible way.”

Yeah, right. The gentlemen named above are the virtual authors of this bill and obviously have complete control over Sen. Soucek. Not one of them gives a fig for the irresponsible consequences that will flow for some 3,500 citizens living in the ETJ, so long as they and their friends are making money.

"Political corruption is the use of power by government officials for illegitimate private gain." Wikipedia.

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Assault on NC Towns

White Laurel landslide, 2004
The new Republican majority in the NC General Assembly are clearly bent on strangling the life out of the state's towns and cities. The Republicans have passed legislation just this week to make annexations much more difficult for cities. If a town can't grow -- which is clearly the end-goal of the Republicans -- then that town begins to die.

Now comes the Templeton/Soucek assault on Boone's extra-territorial jurisdiction, which will benefit a few individual developers while ringing Boone's steep slopes with a potential for unregulated, wide-open (not to mention dangerous) chaos.

The "local act" scheme for depriving Boone of its ability to manage growth on its surrounding steep slopes applies only to Boone, because -- hey! -- some powerful men desire it. (Apparently, the other municipalities in Dan Soucek's district didn't have either the a. steep-slope regs or b. a sufficiently rich developer to get Mr. Soucek's attention.) Another Republican-sponsored bill (drafted but not yet introduced in the General Assembly) seeks to outlaw extra-territorial jurisdiction generally across the state. More precisely, the draft language of the bill would prevent the state's municipalities from extending their ETJs into areas currently zoned by county government. That's an interesting distinction ... "areas currently zoned by county government." Since Watauga County has no zoning, we assume this particular assault on towns would not actually apply to Boone, but a lot of assumptions about our General Assembly get suddenly bumped askew after midnight. Just sayin'.

The Wake County town of Knightdale, at least, ain't waiting to see. Their town council has already passed a resolution opposing the ETJ draft power-grab. And we're glad to see that they (along with other Wake County municipalities) recognize the economic impact of stripping away ETJ laws: “ETJ is a critical tool to entice developers. Many businesses and individuals have purchased property in reliance on existing ETJ framework .... Removing the option to extend ETJ and the assumed zoning and ordinances may threaten the viability of their investments at a time when the economy in our state is just starting to recover.”

It's Only a Matter of Time

Catching up on what happened yesterday ... the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, deprives same-sex couples of the rights and privileges granted to heterosexual couples.

The ruling was narrow in its scope. It did not (yet) address the issue of whether states without same-sex marriage can be forced to recognize gay unions performed in states where it's legal. The 1st Circuit judges also weren't asked to address whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, the key issue that will eventually lance the 30 pustules of church-sponsored anti-gay laws in states like North Carolina.

Only a matter of time. Two of the three judges on the 1st Circuit panel that issued this ruling were Republicans appointed by Republican presidents.