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Archive for September, 2012

Johnson’s attorney responds to DOJ

Read the response to Department of Justice allegations from Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson’s attorney here.

Regarding DOJ’s allegation that Johnson set up checkpoints targeting Latinos, attorney Chuck Kitchen responds:

Here again you make allegations of misconduct which are at odds with the facts. If the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office were indeed making arrests instead of giving tickets to Spanish speaking persons, why would the deputies give out 237 citations and 226 verbal warnings to Spanish speaking people with only 226 arrests as was done in 2011? If indeed there were any truth to your allegations, the numbers should be reversed with an overwhelming number of Spanish speaking people being arrested and very few being cited.

Kitchen added that Johnson “does not believe a negotiated settlement with the DOJ is necessary or advisable.” So the ball is now in DOJ’s court; let’s see how they push it. At issue, however, is whether or not Alamance County will spend the money to defend Johnson should DOJ take him to court.

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Terry Johnson, Pat McCrory and Skip Alston

What do they have in common?

Under the Dome makes much— or at least tries to make much –of the fact that Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson coordinated security at a campaign rally in Burlington on Tuesday. Johnson —as you recall — has been the subject of a DOJ investigation claiming his department has targeted Latinos.

Look who else shows up in Dome’s post:

On Tuesday, Dalton’s campaign responded itself, issuing a statement from Melvin “Skip” Alston, the Guilford County Commission chairman and former president of the N.C. NAACP. He called McCrory’s defense of the ad “a pattern of shameful campaign tactics meant to divide North Carolina.”

“First McCrory hired Fred Davis, the Hollywood-based ad maker who came under fire for planning a racially inflammatory ad campaign against the President. Then, he defended Mitt Romney’s lack of concern for almost half of Americans. Now McCrory is defending a top surrogate notorious for stoking racial tensions and bitterly blaming his professional failures on African Americans,” Alston said in a statement release by Democratic rival Walter Dalton’s campaign.

“Subtle racism is still racism. And race-baiting disguised as a political vision cannot be tolerated,” Alston added.

Alston is actually responding to the controversy surrounding former Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay, who appears in a McCrory campaign ad. Evidently the N&O sees a pattern here…..

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Simpson, Bowles and the Great Default

Locker Room passes along Tea Party economist Gary North’s assessment of the nation’s debt crisis:

I was happy to see an article from mainstream economists on the mess we are in. Of course, the mess is vastly worse than they indicate. The on-budget debt of $15 trillion is peanuts compared to the $222 trillion of present-value net unfunded liabilities. But the mess is bad enough to warrant this article.

Nothing will change Congress. Nothing will change the executive. There will be no cutback in spending until the numbers force the Great Default.

Americans will not be ready. State and local governments will not be ready.

Will you be ready?

Tea Party economist, you say? How about Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson –no Tea Partiers they—- who issued as dire an assessment at Wake Forest University last night.

A couple of things jumped out at me, most notably when Bowles and Simpson identified healthcare as one of the five major budget issues the country faces. No secret, but it’s because the country “spends twice as much on health care as any other developed country in the world,” as the N&R quoted Bowles. That seems to run counter to constant liberal claims that ‘we’re the richest nation on earth yet we don’t provide healthcare.’

Note also Bowles and Simpson call for changes in the tax code—-eliminating loopholes—- not tax increases. Their plan calls for $1 trillion in new revenue and $3 trillion in spending cuts.

Last but not least:

Both men called for quick action. Simpson said America’s debt problem can’t be solved “without touching Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense” and that changes will be painful. People who say different, Simpson said, are “totally phony.”

Interesting that a Wake Forest senior said –according to the Winston-Salem Journal ——”listening to Simpson and Bowles will help her decide who to vote for in the presidential election.”

Can’t help but wonder what her decision will be. Admittedly it’s a tough one in this context, yet I can’t see how any reasonable person would believe we can stay on this path.

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‘Equivalent of an innovative navigational device’

That’s what the N&R hopes the U.S. Commerce Department’s $1 million grant will produce for Greensboro.

Just so you know, the Strong Cities Strong Communities program was established by executive order. And here’s the real irony —-federal Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Munoz says Strong Cities, Strong Communities is “a remarkable initiative, one that takes innovation, a determination to cut-through the red-tape and ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely.”

The interagency council overseeing Strong Cities Strong Communities is based at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is the poster child for red tape and waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

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Second coming of Buford T. Justice

In case you missed it, Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson was in the news quite a bit last week and no doubt will be in the coming week.

Last Tuedsay the U.S. Department of Justice issued an 11-page report finding that Johnson and his deputies discriminated against Latinos by making unwarranted traffic stops and arrests. DOJ has given Johnson until Sept. 30 to respond to the allegations.

Should Johnson decline to “develop and implement sustainable reform measures,” DOJ is prepared to take legal action, which could result in a lengthy court battle.

The N&R says Johnson should ‘do what’s right’ and cooperate with DOJ, while Burlington Times-News editor Madison Taylor says:

Add it all up and the U.S. Department of Justice could perhaps have come to this conclusion: Sheriff Terry Johnson is the second-coming of fictional Sheriff Buford T. Justice from those “Smokey and the Bandit” movies or the Southern lawman seen in old TV commercials who can’t seem to avoid calling everyone in sight “bwah.”

In short, some might contend the DOJ made a judgment about Johnson based on racial and cultural stereotypes. I’m not saying they did or didn’t. And if so, it doesn’t mean the DOJ is right. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong, either. It might have almost nothing to do with truth and everything to do with perception, long-held beliefs, politics and twisted logic.

The timing is also questionable —seems like this issue keeps popping up during an election year, although Johnson himself is not running this time around. Could be a coincidence; however, don’t underestimate the Obama administration, considering the fact that liberals never pass on an opportunity to politicize most any issue.

Update: Since he brought up Buford T. Justice…

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Foxx, Motsinger spar over stimulus

U.S. 5th District Congressional challenger Elisabeth Motsinger takes note of incumbent Rep. Virginia Foxx’s appearance at the W. Kerr Scott Dam’s 50th anniversary celebration, pointing out that Foxx voted against stimulus funding that went toward upgrades for the dam.

Days after the celebration, as Motsinger applauded the improvements at the reservoir, she pointed to Foxx’s “no” vote on the recovery act.

“The necessary improvements that this anniversary was celebrating were part of ARRA, which Mrs. Foxx voted against. This is a good use of federal spending for the people of North Carolina,” said Motsinger, a Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools board member.

Foxx’s campaign spokesman, Aaron Groen, pointed to the nation’s $16 trillion debt.

“One of main reasons she voted against it is that we don’t have that money,” Groen said. “It’s all new spending that adds to the debt, and we’re putting it on the credit card that your grandkids are going to pay for.”

Foxx attended the anniversary celebration because she was invited, Groen said.

I can understand that raising private funds to upgrade the reservoir might be problematic, but it’s also been around for 50 years, so you have to wonder the money for improvements went before the so-called stimulus.

Update: Semi-realted: Biz Journal’s Justin Cantanoso discusses the overall state of the economy here, picking up the stimulus’ effect on the state and local economies about three-fourths of the way through.

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Fighting the Battle of Greensboro

Army veteran and security guard Charles Sluter is recovering after losing a finger while busting up a drug deal in the parking lot of the J. Douglas Galyon Depot:

Sluder said he remains in the Army Reserve. That he has been to war, only to lose one finger, and maybe two, in Greensboro, wasn’t lost on him Saturday.

“I told my partner, all this I’ve been through in my life, and it ends up happening at the Depot.”

What’s lost on me is why anyone would pull off a drug deal at the Depot. Sluder and his partner zoomed into PT Cruiser with a bunch of baggies, and the driver gunned it when Sluder approached, taking him for a ride on the hood before he rolled off.

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Latest issue with G’boro recycling contract

The Rhino’s John Hammer writes more about the bidding for Greensboro’s new recycling contract than a lot of people will ever want to know.

If you’re not one of those people, read about the latest issue with the bidding between Recommunity and Waste Management Services. But I think I can sum it up. During a nine-month bidding process –during which current provider Recommunity was initially offered the new contract without bid—a $9 per ton “education and marketing fee” became an issue. Turns out the city wasn’t sure if that was part of the direct payment or not.

Turns out it is, and Recommunity’s bid is $17 per ton, which is less than Waste Management’s $26 per ton bid, $1 “marketing and education fee” included. But the city estimates Waste Management’s transportation costs to be higher.

But the question is —as-Hammer writes —”how this late in the game the city would not know what the proposed payment was..”

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G’boro: One of Obama’s favorites

Greensboro gets a $1 million grant as part of the Obama administration’s “Strong Cities, Stronger Communities” program.

City Manager Denise Turner Roth wants to keep the money flowing:

“We have been looking for opportunities to become one of their favorites,” she said. “They give away a lot of money for planning and infrastructure. … We hope to be able to continue to draw their attention.”

Yippee. Now everybody go vote for Obama.

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Next up in Chicago….teacher pension crisis

Not local but I believe it’s my duty to pass along this NYT article on the next crisis about to hit Chicago — the teachers’ pension fund is running dry:

Indeed, the State Legislature granted the Chicago school district a break from its pension contributions, starting in 1995. Since then, the city has never contributed the required amount; for many years it put in nothing. All the while, the teachers’ benefits kept building up.

Pension fund documents say the teachers continuously made their share of the contributions, 9 percent of each paycheck. But in fact, the teachers have been putting in just 2 percent of their pay, while the school district has been making up the rest of what is called the “employee contribution” every year. The practice began under an agreement reached in the early 1980s that was supposed to reduce future pay raises, keep money in the fund and take advantage of a federal tax break.

….Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois and Mr. Emanuel have both called for public workers to increase the amounts they pay toward their pensions. Forcing the Chicago teachers to make their full contributions, of course, would erode much of the salary increases they fought for during the strike.

Pretty beat up there in the land of community organization. As the Times points out, the pension issue went unmentioned during the teachers’ strike because state law forbids striking over pension issues. As the article also notes, states and local governments nationwide are undergoing pension crises.

I don’t agree with Times’ politics, but they’ve done a good job of covering the issue, which is why I can’t understand why they support the presidential candidate they do.

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