Civitas Review

NCAE and Roy Cooper: back to the — not so great — future

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Dec
10

CooperNCAE

The North Carolina Association of Educators got their man.  Yesterday the state’s largest teacher’s association – or union since members of NCAE are automatically members of the National Education Association (NEA) – endorsed Roy Cooper as the Democratic candidate for Governor in 2016.

What’s unusual about this is that individuals have until December 21st to declare themselves a candidate for Governor. That evidently didn’t matter to NCAE. They like what they see in Roy Cooper and that's that.  You'd wish that NCAE was as quick and forthcoming with membership numbers, but that's another story.

So why is NCAE so capitaved with Cooper? You won’t find much about education on Cooper's web site. Campaign speeches offer little but the usual rhetoric. At the 7th Annual Defending Democracy banquet, sponsored by the Randolph County Democratic Party. Cooper offered the usual lines saying that public education has been ignored for several years and that similar cuts have been made at the state’s community colleges and universities.

We have a state government that continues to make cuts, instead of investing in education,” he said. “When I talk to CEOs and what they want to see (in order to relocate their companies to North Carolina), they want a well-trained workforce. People see that where we are heading (with education) will not get us there.

That seems to be the Democrats major theme on education and other issues: Republicans are taking us backward. We’re not moving forward. That’s the drumbeat of progressives like Roy Cooper. . Democrats have excelled at painting a picture that prior to the recent Republican victories, North Carolina was nirvana, heaven on earth. Then, the Republicans spoiled the party. To keep moving forward, Democrats need to reclaim what Republicans took from them. . To move forward, Democrats are saying we must go backward and remember the previous decade.

So let's ask, were things really better? Let's look at public education.

Ten years a go we had a massive dropout problem that only started to improve at the end of the decade. In 2009-10 Democrats – not Republicans — slashed $789 million from the K-12 education budget and $1.1 billion in the general education budget to help deal with the recession. Democrats oversaw siignificant cuts to public education.  EOG and EOC test results showed too many kids underperforming and a persistent achievement gap. Years ago, if you wanted an alternative to the traditional public schools, good luck. The state’s aversion to expanding charter schools produced a waiting list of 40,000 by 2010. Too many law makers were comfortable with allowing ping pong balls to determine the fate of  thousands of children.

Are these the good old days?

Cooper says we need to restore public funding for our schools colleges and universities. The cuts need to stop. Yet if you look at actual funding levels, a different story emerges. Two charts illustrate this point. .

The chart below shows that over the past eight years, Historical funding levels for ADM actually declined from 2008-09 until 2011-12. Flattened in the middle years and then rose significantly from 2013-14 to 2015-16.  Just a reminder Democrats were in charge of the Legislature in the early part of this period and Republicans controlled the chamber in the later years.

ADMFunding2

Source: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Click image for a larger view

The second chart, traces state general fund appropriations for public schools from 2001-2016. Note appropriations grew steadily until 2008-09, declined for two years and then have increased for the last five years.  The first budget authored by Republicans was 2011-12. Education appropriations have actually increased every year since then.

Genappsfund

Data Source: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and North Carolina General Assembly
Click image for a larger view

You'd like to think that facts matter, but I guess not.  NCAE got their man.

 

Wake County Transit Plan's Price Tag: $2.3 Billion

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Dec
09

From the N&O:

Commuter trains, running for 37 miles from Durham and Research Triangle Park to Raleigh and Garner, are a big part of a proposed 10-year transit plan, released Tuesday, that will be considered by county commissioners next spring.

The plan includes 20 miles of bus rapid transit (BRT) service, running every 15 minutes on 20 miles of Capital and Western boulevards, New Bern Avenue and South Wilmington Street. BRT often runs faster than automobile traffic, with features that can include dedicated bus lanes and green-light priority at traffic signals. Another 63 miles of Raleigh streets would have standard buses at 15-minute intervals.

….

The proposed half-cent sales tax would provide the biggest single revenue source for the transit plan, with $962 million expected in the first 10 years. The federal government would be asked to cover half the capital cost ($720 million) for commuter rail and BRT.

For frame of reference, $2.3 billion could by a brand new Prius Two car for about 92,000 people.

Reuters Lied about Trump in NC

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Dec
06

I'm a cynical old conservative who's seen a lot, and even I am taken aback when I see the news media lying about something I've seen with my own eyes.

A Reuters report is headlined on CBS: "Black Lives Matter protestors cut off Donald Trump in North Carolina."

A single vulgar word is the most accurate response, but in a perhaps vain attempt to uphold some standards, I'll only say: that report can only be a deliberate attempt to mislead Americans.

I was there. I was even much closer to Trump than the official media representatives. The Reuters account is wrong.

At several points, some jerks with signs interrupted Trump by shouting. They were booed by the crowd — but the booing was less angry that what you will hear at most sporting events.

First, it is one more indication that Black Lives Matter is a proto-fascist movement. The street fighters and mobs are merely the first symptom that democracy is under attack. Some people wanted to hear Trump, many, I would guess, out of curiosity. If he was truly a bad man, the Left should want him to open his mouth more often so people could discern the truth about him.

So the demonstrations showed:

  1. Black Lives Matter is inherently anti-democratic. They do not believe that ordinary people can or should make their own judgements.
  2. Trump must be a real threat to them. The protests only underscored Trump's claims. That they cared enough only added to his credibility.

As I wrote on my own blog, it also highlights the incompetence of the Left. The protests only added a bit of drama to the scene that underscored Trump's messages, and fired up the crowd.

The Reuters report said he got annoyed. Frankly, I think he gets annoyed a lot anyway. Most of the time, he just grinned smugly while the protestors were hustled out. Rather than break up his talk, the interludes gave him time to rest. His voice was hoarse, and apparently he is not a person who switches easily to a soft tone.

If his remarks were shorter than usual, it may be that he just wanted to conserve his vocal chords.

Anyway, among other things, Reuters doesn't grasp what it is Trump does. He doesn't have a set talk; he riffs on events, throwing out a lot of his tag lines. There's no structure; there's no timeline. He's, obviously, not your typical pol. He is there to galvanize supporters, not bore them with PowerPoint presentations. He's more like a comedian or musician who comes out, plays some of his big hits, improvises a little, does an encore or two, then get on the bus for the next show.

BTW, Trump called this in advance. He said the media would make a big deal out of the protestors, and that they would mock him no matter what he did: as scary if he threw them out, as weak if he didn't.

In other words, this report is bogus. It's plainly a deliberate attempt to distort the news. I was there, however. I can assure you this report is a fraud.

Trump's Act Comes to Raleigh

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Dec
04

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_SkidmoreI went to Donald Trump's rally tonight in Raleigh. My impressions begin:

The crowd filing into Dorton Arena on the state fairgrounds was younger than I had expected. Of course many people were middle-aged, but I was surprised to see how many teens and people in their twenties there seemed to be. There were also relatively few old people and few children.

It was like the crowd going to a concert by a country and western band that had been around for awhile, then suddenly had a hit that appealed to younger listeners. Or a show by a veteran comedian who had gotten a TV role as the testy, bombastic uncle on a youth-oriented sitcom, and both parents and kids were digging his schtick.

For the veteran performer headlining tonight was of course Donald Trump, bringing his presidential campaign to Raleigh.

For more, click here to go to my blog.

Entire "Untapped Potential" Series Available

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Dec
03

The Center for Law and Freedom's three-part series on the constitutionality of microbrewery restrictions is now available in its entirety at the NCcivitas.org. Part 1 provides a historical backdrop to help readers understand why our judicial system is one in which courts defer to the will of the legislature:

Federal and state governments, free from the shackles of the early 20th century’s laissez-faire jurisprudence, regulate nearly every aspect of our economy. North Carolina alone has dozens of licensing boards that regulate trades from “animal breeder” to “cement finishing contractor” to “skin care specialist.” Despite consistent arguments by libertarians and conservatives that such economic regulation often produces few benefits for society while explicitly benefitting certain businesses over others, the courts have been effectively neutered in the realm of economic regulation. Challenging such laws as unconstitutional has become nearly impossible, notwithstanding rare outliers such as a line of cases striking down bans of unlicensed funeral casket production and another vindicating the economic rights of hair braiders.

Part 2 discusses the nature of current microbrewery restrictions:

All that matters, in a world of Progressive Era economic regulation, is that the legislature has proclaimed ostensibly legitimate policy ends. Business interests are free to advocate for laws that line their pockets at the expense of others, so long as some legitimate policy goal can be imagined. In other words, lobbying and economic protectionism are features, not kinks, of the progressive constitutional system in which the legislature reigns supreme. In the 21st Century world of watered-down judicial review, North Carolina’s microbreweries are left with no recourse from the courts. Or are they?

Part 3 examines whether and how these restrictions could be challenged as unconstitutional:

Perhaps, if microbreweries advance a legitimate argument under the North Carolina Constitution that they are being deprived of their rights, courts will listen, and develop a legal test that maintains deferrence to the legislature while increasing protections for economic liberties. After all, constitutions exist to protect our most fundamental freedoms from our own government. When entrenched business interests with the capacity to lobby are using the law to protect their profits at the expense of emerging small businesses, it would seem that there must be a constitutional remedy. Perhaps in the future our state courts will have the opportunity to decide whether, and how, our state’s constitution can protect a flourishing new industry from the influence of economic incumbents in Raleigh.

Check out the whole series, and send us your thoughts at CLF@nccivitas.org!

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