Showing posts with label public policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label public policy. Show all posts

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Transcript Of Public Hearing By Oriental Board Of Commissioners July 3, 2012

Partial Transcription Board of Commissioners of Town of Oriental meeting of July 3, 2012, deliberation by Board members after closing public hearing: Source – Official digital audio recording made by Town of Oriental [Time in Hours, Minutes and Seconds From Start of Audio Recording]

[…Public Hearing Closed] 1:11:21

Bill Sage (Sage): 1:11:40
There are basically two halves to get to what all the experts seem to agree is a legal end. And that is closing these street rights of way and acquiring in fee simple the yellow lot as you see it there.

One train of thought is that we proceed as we are proceeding tonight with closing the street rights of way and then accepting the donation of the property shown there in yellow.

The other train of thought is that we treat it as or we approach it as an exchange. NC State law provides for and empowers a municipality to exchange a property interest *or an interest in real estate, or personal property for that matter, for other property. And there is a procedure set out basically in section 160A-271 for an exchange of property interests.
*Not exactly. Must be property belonging to the Town. Not “an interest.”

And one of the options that the Board has is instead of choosing which of the two paths to take to touch both bases and go through not only the street closing and donation process which we we’ve taken another step towards tonight by having this hearing, but also to go through the exchange process. And that of course would entail a postponement of a decision on closing the streets for purposes of gathering the necessary information and giving the necessary notices that the statute requires under the exchange provisions. And so we can proceed with consideration of closing the streets or we can defer a decision on closing the streets so as to bring forward the necessary notices and information to comply with section 160A-271.

Barbara Venturi (Venturi): Point of clarification; what additional information would we be collecting and putting out?

Sage : 1:15:19 Under 160A-271, the town may by private negotiations enter into an exchange of real or personal property *[Note: “belonging to the city”] if it is satisfied that it receives full and fair consideration in exchange for its property. And it requires that notice to be given by publication of the meeting at which the town board will consider the exchange. And the notice must state the value of the properties.

Note repeated misrepresentation of the statute.

Larry Summers (Summers): [whispering to Venturi “I have a motion on this…”]

Summers: 1:15:36 I’d like to make a motion…

??: “That’s enough to… receive it.”

[papers shuffling] [Summers submitted a written motion. No copy was provided to the public in violation of NCGS 318.13(c).]

Sage: [Venturi recognized]

Venturi: 1:16:06 Indistinct… “model for openness”… indistinct…]

“If it is appropriate to follow two lines of action to ensure that all obstacle courses have been dealt with, I move that we go forward on the full and fair consideration including notice to the public, that would include appraisals as soon as appraisals or evaluations of the properties and considerations…”

Sage: 1:16:53 “…Motion by Commissioner Venturi to pursue the exchange of property provisions of section 160A-271 postponing a decision on the street closure until such time as a public meeting is noticed to the public and published for consideration of the exchange. Seconded by Commissioner Johnson, any discussion?”

Summers: “I’d like to make a point of order to the attorney: Is what we are doing an exchange of property or a closure of a right of way?”

Scott Davis: “I think it can fairly be viewed as an exchange.”

Venturi: 1:18:20 [Indistinct… “appraisals, comparison full and fair”… indistinct.]
“if it is considered a swap, we should at least value these things and provide the ability to prepare these properties for the public.”

Warren Johnson (Johnson): “By doing so, will we not be covering all our bases?”

Scott Davis: 1:19:00 “That’s the theory. As Mr. Cox and others have pointed out*, there are a number of ways to structure this transaction - I have spoken to no-one that has come to the conclusion that we cannot achieve this result.
“The theorical [sic] differences are in how we get there.

*Cox had previously suggested Town lacked authority for exchange and suggested stand alone transactions with dedication to public or deed restriction. Town response: “Don't tie our hands.”

“There’s camp that likes an exchange agreement, there’s a camp that likes a pure exchange, there’s a camp that likes a street closing and a donation separated.

And we don’t have any case-law that tells us what the magic recipe is. *

*Translation: “We can't find a case that says we can do this.”

“So here, since we have folks who have alternate points of view, and there’s nothing that precludes us from trying to accommodate those different points of views, meaning there is no down side to doing it both ways, and there is potential up-side if one way is determined to be superior…

“…[1:19:41] so to me it’s a rather easy path to go down, to take the more prudent course to do it both ways, and hopefully, one of those two ways takes.”

Venturi: [Indistinct about fact that holding a hearing doesn’t mean the Board must vote]

Scott Davis: [no, you would do that later, and you’d take evidence and vote]

Summers: “I am opposed to this thing, and I’ll tell you what, we’ve been working on this thing for seven months [subdued “oooh”s from the audience] [… indistinct...I hear a lot of legal opinions anyone here a lawyer?” …]

Jim Privette [from audience:] “yes”

Summers: “Experience in municipal law?”

Privette: “Yes. Municipal attorney in North Carolina.”

Summers: 1:21:34 “The other thing is: appraising the property. I look at this piece of property, we don’t own the property, we own an easement, as Bill Marlow said, and I look at that, what can you do with an easement?

You can’t sell an easement, you can’t eat an easement, you can only close an easement, that’s the only thing that you can do.

Note: Summers got that right!

“What we’re looking at doing is closing streets, and then being offered in exchange, if we close the streets, you will receive X as a donation to the, for the good of the Town.

“I think that’s a wonderful thing, and I think it’s a wonderful piece of property for it.

“Grace Evans brought up something that I think is really important here. One of the reasons we have a problem now, with our anchorage, is because of the five acres that was sent out there with Oriental Harbor Marina… We have killed the goose that laid the golden egg for Oriental… That’s what we did and I absolutely believe that.

“I would like to be able to go over and put my chair on that property on Saturday night and watch the fireworks, but I guess if we do this, we can’t. I am a believer in doing it, and if this motion fails, I will offer a motion to close the streets.”

Sherril Styron (Styron): “If it’s gonna take one more month to do it right, I don’t have a problem with that, but Avenue A: I can see no reason for that not to be closed, whether we are doing exchanging or do nothing else, Chris Fulcher owns the property on every side of it.

“It goes nowhere, except dead-ends in his property… [words to the effect that opponents envy Chris Fulcher]… no matter what we do, I think Avenue A should be closed, and I’m prepared to do it tonight, unless the attorney feels like we need to wait until next week.

“I’ve not heard nothing tonight that changes my mind on what we need to do. I would love to proceed as quick as we can and close this out.

“But if Scott feels like we need to wait one more month I’ll go along with it.”

Sage: “Any further comment or questions? OK, Motion is postponing a decision and complying with…”

Venturi: “Can we get an idea from the attorney…”

Scott Davis: “…You can bifurcate the street closing, if the board wants to. By separate motion - you can determine tonight to close any portion that has been noticed, leaving the remaining portion to be dealt with at some later date.”

Venturi: “I do agree with Sherill, I think Avenue A is nothing but a liability written all over it. But we had a motion to move forward…”

Scott Davis: “And recognizing, I just wanna say this out loud;
That if you determine later not to close the terminus of South Avenue, and you close Avenue A tonight, It’s done. “And there’ll be nothing in exchange for that, just purely a closing of Avenue A.”

Sage: “All in favor of the motion, say Aye.”

Johnson: “Aye”

Venturi: “Aye”

Styron: “What?”

Sage: 1:25:28 All in favor of the motion for the Town to take the steps to comply with section 260A-271, developing information on full and fair consideration. Say aye.

Venturi + Michelle Bissette (Bissette): “Aye”

Sage: “Raise your hands to say aye… Motion carries, we will take the steps to comply with the provisions of 160A-271.

Motion to close Avenue A would be in order...*

*This move, following passage of motion to postpone confused both the audience and the Board.

Summers: “I’ll do that one.

“I move that the Town of Oriental close the streets as indicated on this with the exception of the South Avenue terminus, on that motion that I handed out earlier, to close Avenue A and the other possible rights of way in the back portion of that property.”

Scott Davis: “Let’s edit that motion in the continuation of the discussion regarding the South Avenue terminus - is that part of your motion?

“You move to close Avenue A, it’d be nice in that motion to also continue the deliberation in consideration -

Summers: “Let me restate the motion, if I may, Mr. Mayor.

“I’d like to move that the Town of Oriental close the following town streets, along with any rights of way formerly indicated as being located in the area bounded by the Western margin of the right of way of Wall Street on the East, the Neuse River on the South, Smith and Raccoon Creeks on the West, and the Southern margin of the right of way of South Avenue on the North - said street portions being lawfully described as follows: Avenue A, and its got the other writing on there, other possible rights of way, but to defer the closing of the South Avenue terminus, to a specific date… the next full regular town meeting. The August meeting.

Sage: “Motion by Mr. Summers for this Board to close Avenue A and other possible rights of way as described in the notice of intention in the area bounded on the West by Raccoon and Smith Creek, on the North by the South margin of South Avenue, on the East by the Western margin of Wall Street, and on the South by the Neuse River.

“Seconded by Commissioner Styron.”

“… and to continue consideration of the closure of the South Avenue terminus for the August 2012 regularly scheduled Town Board meeting.

Scott Davis: “Another recommendation might be to further amend that motion to provide that you have found that closing the street is not land-locking property owners, and is not contrary to the public interest.*

*Another intervention by Town Attorney to include conclusions on matters not discussed or deliberated on by Town Board.

Sage: “Will you make an amendment?”

Summers: 1:29:29 “Yes, I will amend that… it is to the satisfaction of the Board after the hearing that closing the above-referenced streets are not contrary to the public interests, and that no individual owning property in the vicinity of the street or alley, or in the subdivision in which it is located, would thereby be deprived of a reasonable means of ingress and egress to their property.”

Sage: 1:29:43 Repeats Motion, asks for discussion;

Johnson: 1:30:25 “I can't imagine this transaction not happening next month. But let's say it dies or goes away. What have we just done?

Styron: All we've done is close a street [or words to that effect].

Johnson: 1:30:25 Yes, but it's part of the transaction. If for some reason.[indistinct]

Sage: 1:31:20 Calls for vote. Announces motion passes, 4-1 (Johnson voting “nay.Noise in room, Sage gavels meeting.

Sage: 1:31:30 “Motion carries. An order will be entered closing the streets as described.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma Despises Retired Military Officers

“There is no one in more pursuit of publicity than a retired military officer,” Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma said about last Tuesday's climate report by a leading government-funded military research organization.

For an elected official to complain that retired military officers "pursue publicity" is a bit bizarre.

Inhofe's complaint was that the CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees.

Inhofe, whose political campaigns are funded primarily by wealthy petroleum industry patrons, said of the report’s authors: “I look back wistfully at the days of the Cold War. Now you have people who are mentally imbalanced, with the ability to deploy a nuclear weapon. For anyone to say that any type of global warming is anywhere close to the threat that we have with crazy people running around with nuclear weapons, it shows how desperate they are to get the public to buy this.”

The problem for Inhofe is, that the Board does not support his view that climate change is a hoax. Inhofe knows that, because the truth has been revealed to him. We don't need no stinkin' facts!

The CNA Corporation has evolved from the Center for Naval Analysis, a group formed during World War II to develop more effective methods of countering submarines and aircraft in war at sea. The Center pioneered the application of Operations Analysis to naval warfare and achieved extraordinary results. The Center continued to apply these methods to naval problems and has accumulated nearly seventy-five years experience in the methodology. CNA's analysis is founded on data. And on facts.
Inhofe has no interest in either facts or analysis.

Rear Adm. David Titley, a co-author of the report and a meteorologist who is retired from the Navy, said political opposition would not extinguish what he called the indisputable data in the report.
“The ice doesn’t care about politics or who’s caucusing with whom, or Democrats or Republicans,” said Admiral Titley, who now directs the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Pennsylvania State University.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Living Within Our Means?

The budget just passed by the Republican House of Representatives sheds new light on the phrase "living within our means."

"Mean" is a word with many meanings. But when referring to Republicans, one set of meanings stands out:

mean 2  (mēn)
adj. mean·er, mean·est
a. Selfish in a petty way; unkind.
b. Cruel, spiteful, or malicious.
2. Ignoble; base: a mean motive.
3. Miserly; stingy.
a. Low in quality or grade; inferior.
b. Low in value or amount; paltry: paid no mean amount for the new shoes.
5. Common or poor in appearance; shabby: "The rowhouses had been darkened by the rain and looked meaner and grimmer than ever" (Anne Tyler).
6. Low in social status; of humble origins.
7. Humiliated or ashamed.
8. In poor physical condition; sick or debilitated.
9. Extremely unpleasant or disagreeable: The meanest storm in years.
10. Informal Ill-tempered.
11. Slang
a. Hard to cope with; difficult or troublesome: He throws a mean fast ball.
b. Excellent; skillful: She plays a mean game of bridge.

[Middle English, from Old English gemǣne, common; see mei-1 in Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: mean2, low1, base2, abject, ignoble, sordid
These adjectives mean lacking in dignity or falling short of the standards befitting humans. Mean suggests pettiness, spite, or niggardliness: "Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own" (J.M. Barrie).
Something low violates standards of morality, ethics, or propriety: low cunning; a low trick.
Base suggests a contemptible, mean-spirited, or selfish lack of human decency: "that liberal obedience, without which your army would be a base rabble" (Edmund Burke).
Abject means brought low in condition: abject submission; abject poverty.
Ignoble means lacking noble qualities, such as elevated moral character: "For my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the government should play an ignoble part" (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)
Sordid suggests foul, repulsive degradation: "It is through art . . . that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence" (Oscar Wilde).
A check of the Republican budget reveals that it (the budget) is mean in most of those senses.
It is such a mean and destructive budget that Americans should be enraged. NYT  columnist Charles M. Blow tells us today why we should be enraged. Republican insistence on measures like this is the main reason why wages for sixty percent of Americans are lower now (in real terms) than they were 40 years ago, despite vast improvements in economic productivity. 

This is not driven by economics. It is driven by the greed of a narrow sliver of American society who make nothing but deals. And prosper out of all proportion to any contribution they make to society. Many of them got their wealth the old fashioned way - they inherited it. And for the past half century they have used that wealth to acquire great political power. Which the George W. Bush Supreme Court has just increased.

The only weapon we have to fight back with is the vote. We can see how much this threatens the wealthy and powerful by what a concerted effort Republican state governments across the land have exerted to suppress the votes of the poor, people who work for a living, people of color, women and the elderly. 

We see it right here in North Carolina.

Get out and vote!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

2013 Oriental NC Candidate Forum On Line

Now that Town Dock has put the audio recording of last Wednesday's candidate forum on line here, I no longer have to rely on reports by attendees. I can hear for myself how the candidates responded.

That being said, I have heard nothing that changes my judgement. I support Benjamin Cox for Commissioner and Lori Wagoner for Mayor.

It's all about the future of the town.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Names And Their Complications In Elections

My mother, born in Texas in 1916, never had a birth certificate. She had a driver's license, issued in Oklahoma in 1932, but didn't need a birth certificate to get it. Her name was misread by the typist who filled out my birth certificate. My parents were divorced and she remarried a young soldier in 1940. He recorded the marriage with the military but reversed the order of her first and middle names.

When I entered school in 1943, I used my stepfather's name, but I wasn't adopted until 1946. The school didn't care. Their job was education.

When I married, my wife took my adopted name but always went by her middle name rather than her first name. That was never a problem, through my thirty year naval career. She eventually started going by her middle name as her first name and her maiden name as her middle name. That worked just fine for a very long time. Then government bureaucrats started getting all hinckey about names and decided to start using driver's licenses as the equivalent of an internal passport ("carte d'identite) like other national governments issue.

My sister (first name Elizabeth) got caught up in the naming hysteria when the IRS complained that her pay checks, W-2's, etc. were made out to "Betty."

Every one of these perfectly innocent circumstances can lead to problems under the "real identity" laws.

Now Department of Motor Vehicles insist that every document give exactly the same version of the name. I might point out that this has absolutely no connection with whether the holder of a driver's license can safely operate a motor vehicle.

This is a frequent problem for women. Here is a recent article in the New York Times summarizing the problems for a woman who kept her unmarried name for professional purposes and uses her married name for private and family purposes.

This set of issues has now been brought into the artificial hysteria of voter ID. Republicans, who want to destroy the credibility of elections (when the "wrong" people win) levy charges of major discrepancies in voter registration - it must be fraud. These charges are usually based on computer matching programs, and on close (and expensive) investigation by boards of election, it turns out there is no fraud at all.

North Carolina Governor Pat McRory recently asserted that we need all these changes to voting procedures to "close loopholes that allow a voter to vote two or three times." There are no such loopholes.

In 2008 in North Carolina, more citizens cast votes than ever before - more than four million. North Carolina has an extensive set of safeguards and has its own computer matching system to uncover double voting. In 2008, the State Board of Elections uncovered 18 cases of double voting. On investigation, only one was found to be intentional and that case was prosecuted.

In a more recent case, a voter cast his ballot at one of his county's one-stop sites. Subsequently he realized he had not completed the reverse side of the ballot. So on election day, he went to his normal precinct and cast a ballot only on the reverse side. He was caught and prosecuted.

Since passage of the National Voter Registration Act in 1993, registration records in all states have vastly improved. North Carolina's records are among the nation's best.

Don't be hoodwinked. There is no election day voter fraud in North Carolina.

I'll have more to say later.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Medgar Evers, Non-Violence And The March On Washington

The March on Washington is one of those events that people use to mark time and transformation. "Did you go?," people ask. "Where were you on that day?"

I was serving my country, stationed on Adak in the Aleutian Islands. Defending democracy.

We had no newspaper and no live television, but still I followed events in Mississippi and in the nation's capitol.

I knew of the entry of James Meredith into my alma mater, the University of Mississippi. Many college administrators and professors I knew were involved in the court battles. The University was under attack by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission and the White Citizens' Council.

I followed the violent assault on federal marshals when Meredith was enrolled. Some lost their lives at that time.

I knew of the assassination of Medgar Evers on June 12, a little more than two months before the March on Washington.

The hallmark of response to white violence in those formative years of the Civil Rights Movement, whether in Montgomery, Birmingham, Oxford, or during the voter registration drives, was non-violence.

For anyone familiar with the violence by white supremacists against blacks in the south, the non-violent response, even in the face of massive efforts to provoke violence, was impressive. The level of organization, the discipline and restraint during large demonstrations, were unprecedented. (Well, there was the precedent of the Women's Suffrage Movement).

The power of non-violence to transform the political situation was certainly Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s greatest insight. He had read the writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi, a small brown man wearing only a loincloth and carrying a walking stick, had ended the power of the world's greatest empire in India.

What power!

Martin Luther King, Jr. recognized that power and used it.

We are all the better for it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 8th Hearing On Oriental Land Swap

Regular readers know that I filed a complaint last August against the Town of Oriental for bartering a public right of way (Avenue A) for a parcel of property.

Towns across the United States don't own public rights of way - they hold them in trust for the public. They may not sell rights of way, as the City of Los Angeles attempted to do in the 1920's. They may not barter a right of way.

This is as close to settled law as we have in municipal law.

But the Town of Oriental has put forward the novel proposition that they have the right to sell or exchange rights of way just like any other property they may own in fee simple. They even argued that legal theory in Pamlico County Superior Court and won dismissal of my complaint. Before the presiding judge entered his order, they closed a second public right of way (South Avenue) as a part of the exchange bargain.

I appealed the dismissal. Mr. Kirby Smith of New Bern is representing me in the appeal.

When the Town closed South Avenue, I filed a complaint about that action (there is only a thirty day window to complain).

The Town filed a motion to dismiss my South Avenue complaint and also filed a motion for sanctions against me for so filing.

The case was heard Monday afternoon. The judge did not grant either of the Town's motions. Instead, he stayed any further action on my complaint until after action by the Court of Appeals on my first complaint.

During the course of about a half-hour hearing, Judge Nobles seemed to understand my theory of the case enough to allow the possibility I might prevail. He utterly rejected the Town's motion for sanctions. "It is you who are at fault," he declared to Town attorney Scott Davis and Mayor Sage, "for the existence of two suits, not Mr. Cox."

He prudently decided to wait for the North Carolina Court of Appeals to act. I think it was a wise decision.

By the way, I am not the Lone Ranger in this effort. Many other residents of Oriental have supported and encouraged the effort at every step of the way.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

About To Hit The Road

Tomorrow morning, we are leaving for Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend our youngest grandson's graduation from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Blog posts may be a bit intermittent.

Public Policy seems to run in our family. We're pretty pleased that the younger generation is carrying on the tradition.