Showing the depth and breadth of their nuclear reactor engineering expertise, Orange County Commishes voted on 24 June 2008 to send resolutions opposing the construction of two proposed but not approved or licensed reactors at the Harris plant to both the N.C. Public Utilities Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
The Commishes plan to hold a special session at the end of July 2008 to consider intervening in Progress Energy's application to expand the existing Shearon Harris nuclear power plant on Lake Jordan (See NRC Shearson Harris Application Information.) (For those unfamiliar with the facility, Shearson Harris is two counties away from Orange County and is NOT within the range for the dispensing of iodine pills in case of an emergency.)
Here is the application review schedule for the proposed (but not yet approved or licensed) plants.
Pulpsters can see that the entire set of safety review and environmental review phases have not begun to be conducted. But that doesn’t stop the Commishes from condemning an unfinalized reactor design that isn’t eligible for approval or licensing at this time. In the Commishes words, ”The citizens and elected officials of Orange County have, for some years, been aware of the potential for widespread and lethal consequences resulting from an airborne release of the tremendous quantity of radioactive material available from the spent nuclear fuel stored in Shearon Harris nuclear plant's 'temporary' waste storage pools.”
Using the convoluted logic for which southern Orange is famous, the Commishes declare that the NRC shouldn’t even be looking at the Progress Energy plant design because that design hasn’t been fully developed, reviewed, and approved by the NRC. Of course, this logic ignores the entire NRC approval and licensing process which allows for significant public input along the way (see NRC Public Input). Pulpsters should note that the NRC process doesn’t grant a license to operate for any nuclear reactor until that reactor design has been fully vetted for safety and environmental concerns, again allowing public input. (Also see NRC Shearson Harris Review Schedule.)
According to the Commish nuclear experts ”The design, which is apparently in its 15th or 16th iteration, has at least some iterations in which the spent fuel rods in the storage pools will have an especially dense storage consideration (and a corresponding greater potential for spontaneous combustion of the spent fuel in the event of a low water conditions in the pools).” From the above chart, one can see that the reactor design was certified but then amendments were made which require recertification of the design. Public hearings are scheduled to occur after that recertification process is finished.
Of course, the Commishes didn’t concoct this Shearson Harris opposition strategy on their own. None other than Jim Warren, director of NC WARN – the N.C. Waste Awareness & Reduction Network – is behind these footdragging tactics. NC WARN has filed a motion with the NRC to try to change the basic NRC review process, a process that has already gone through extensive federal rulemaking procedures. NCWARN has had a chance during that rulemaking to raise the objections that it is raising now.
The real agenda of NCWARN can be seen through Mr. Warren’s statements. ”It's very important that local governments are taking a close look because of the complexity and because of the enormous implications of our region and state considering multi-billion dollar investments in more nuclear power plants, [NC WARN’s] position is that, during a time of unprecedented challenges over energy and climate change, the nuclear industry has succeeded in misleading people into thinking that nuclear power is a solution to a rapidly advancing climate crisis. The worst thing we could possibly do because we simply cannot afford to waste billions of dollars and decades trying to build nuclear plants.”
As reported by the Herald Sun (Shearson Harris Herald Sun Story), Progress Energy’s spokesperson says that ”[w]e have not made a decision to build new nuclear units, But we have made a decision to move forward with all of the necessary preliminary paperwork to keep that option open for the future. We have to start that process now so that 10 years from now, 15 years from now, whenever that need arises due to customer growth and demand growth, we're in a position to act and build the necessary resources.”
Progress Energy’s future plans are to move forward with energy efficiency programs, move forward with alternative, renewable energy services; and to build state-of-the-art power plants because ”we can't wait 10 years to start that process to see if energy efficiency alone is enough to account for new growth. We have to do all of those things in parallel.” Progress Energy will not make the decision whether to build the reactors until at least a year from now,.
No word on whether or not the Commishes have contacted anyone at the North Carolina State University Department of Nuclear Engineering (NSCU Nuclear Engineering) about their concerns.
As reported by the local steno pool, Mr. Frank Papa is moving his high end pet food business (Phydeaux’s) from downtown Carrboro to a suburban shopping location in Chapel Hill. (See Chapel Hill News Phydeaux Story.) It’s apparently a simple local business relocation story.
However, Pulpsters know that real local news isn’t reported so that you can fully appreciate how your local government works. The real economic development (ED) “success” story is far more robust.
Mr. Papa is a leading vocal advocate for the about $500,000 Carrboro economic development revolving loan program (Carrboro revolver) run by Mr. James “Wowser” Harris, Carrboro ED director, at the cost of over $150,000 in operational oversight costs annually. The Carrboro revolver (started with a state grant of about $250,000 some about twenty years ago) loans money out at below market interest rates to small business that supposedly can’t get business loans from local banks.
When the Pulp started as a public forum, Mr. Papa could be seen contributing his dog-like advocacy of the Carrboro revolver. Anyone pointing out the facts of the flaccid ED performance of the program would receive a bite from Mr. Papa’s blunt instrument wit. But being a rabid apologist for Carrboro government, Mr. Papa never bites the hand that feeds his business interests.
Mr. Papa became so enamored with the Carrboro revolver that he hooked his leash to the program. Mr. Papa started his business in Carrboro with a commercial bank loan. However, after being shown the public money feed trough by then alderman Mr. Marc Dorosin, he took out a revolver loan from Mr. “Wowser” Harris, a loan at about half the interest rate he was paying up to that point.
Some five years later, looking to expand his luxury dog food business, Mr. Papa reveals the true nature of the Carrboro revolver. Having gotten on his business feet with public financial support, he moves his business from Carrboro, where public taxpayers supported his business with public money, to Chapel Hill, where they didn’t. From “incubator” to “see you later”.
No word from “Wowser” Harris on why Carrboro retail is leaking worse than a Carrboro usufructer eating two supersized bags of “Wow” potato chips with Olean.
In a related business story, Performance Bicycle is also moving from downtown Carrboro to Chapel Hill, the leakage drips on.
In another related business story, local sales of adult protective undergarments have pulled up.
As noted last week in a public statement by Chapel Hill Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt, “We're a community that fortunately has a lot of people on the street at a time. Those people are having a good time and visiting businesses downtown and they're walking around spending money. That kind of place is generally where people ask for money and where people gravitate to.”
Recognizing the ”geniousity” of Mr. Kleinschmidt, a gentleman armed with a shotgun is believed by police to have committed two robberies within 10 minutes of each other on Sunday evening (20 July 2008).
Two men were walking south in an alley near the Varsity Theatre toward East Franklin Street around 6:30 p.m. A man approached them, produced a shotgun and demanded money. About 10 minutes later, a woman was in her vehicle using at automated-teller machine at a Wachovia Bank at University Mall, at South Estes Drive and U.S. Highway 15-501. Allegedly, a car pulled up beside her. A man with the same description as the Franklin Street robber got out of the car and approached her vehicle. He produced a shotgun and demanded money.
(See WRAL Robbery Story.)
Seven schools in the local city system and eight schools in the county school system failed to meet the federal No Child Left Behind math standards last school year.
However, this performance is considered good news because according to city superintendent Neil Pedersen ”[t]he number of schools that made AYP [adequate yearly performance] in our district in math increased,”
City schools not meet the math standard are Carrboro Elementary, Frank Porter Graham Elementary, McDougle Elementary, McDougle Middle, Culbreth Middle, Phillips Middle and East Chapel Hill High School. Three of these schools have failed to meet AYP in reading or math for two years in a row - Carrboro, Frank Porter Graham and McDougle elementary schools
In the local county school system only four of 12 schools made math AYP, down from six out of 12 the previous year - Central Elementary, Hillsborough Elementary, Pathways Elementary and C.W. Stanford Middle.
| AYP Status for Mathematics and Attendance Rate for City Elementary and Middle Schools in 2008 (Preliminary)
| Percent Proficient in Math Only
| || All || Af Am || Asian || Latino || Multi-racial || Nat Amer || White || EDS* || LEP* || SWD* || Attendance
|3-8 Math Standard|| 77.2 || 77.2 || 77.2 || 77.2 || 77.2 || 77.2 || 77.2 || 77.2 || 77.2 || 77.2 || 90.0
|DISTRICT 3-8 || 86.6 || 54.4 || >95 || 64.0 || 90.4 || || > 95 || 57.5 || 69.4 || 59.9 || 96.7
|Carrboro || 83.1 || || || || || || 94.1 || 57.5 || || || 96.7
|Ephesus || 87.6 || 75.0 || || || || || >95 || 73.4 || || 75.0 || 95.9
|Estes || 86.4 || || >95 || || || || 94.6 || 54.5 || || || 97.4
|FPG || 76.2 || 42.9 || || || || || 93.5 || 43.5 || || 52.3 || 96.1
|Glenwood || 94.0 || || >95 || || || || 93.6 || || || || 97.0
|McD Elem || 80.6 || 33.3 || || || || || 94.5 || 46.8 || || 50.8 || 96.4
|Rashkis || 92.7 || || >95 || || || || >95 || || || || 96.9
|Scroggs || 90.8 || || || 70.7 || || || 94.7 || 69.1 || 79.1 || || 96.8
|Seawell || 92.9 || || || || || || >95 || 66.0 || || || 97.3
|Culbreth || 84.9 || 51.0 || 88.3 || || || || 92.6 || 53.8 || 72.5 || 55.7 || 96.3
|MMS || 85.3 || 59.5 || || 57.6 || || || >95 || 54.3 || 46.3 || 59.2 || 96.6
|Phillips || 88.1 || 52.9 || || || || || >95 || 49.5 || 82.4 || 47.9 || 96.6
|Smith || 88.3 || 53.6 || 94.9 || 72.1 || 90.7 || || >95 || 62.0 || 66.7 || 74.1 || 96.9
*EDS = Ecomonically Disadvantaged, LEP = Limited English Proficient, SWD = Students with Disabilities
| AYP Status In Reading, Math and Graduation Rate for High Schools for 2007-08 (Preliminary)
| Percent Proficient in Math Only
| || All || Af Am || Asian || Latino || Multi-racial || Nat Amer || White || EDS* || LEP* || ExEd* || GradRate
|HS Math Standard || 68.4 || 68.4 || 68.4 || 68.4 || 68.4 || 68.4 || 68.4 || 68.4 || 68.4 || 68.4 || 80.0
|DISTRICT || 86.1 || 47.5 || >95+++ || 65.5 || || || >95 || 53.5 || 65.0++ || 60.0 || 87.9
|CHS || 83.1 || || || || || || >95 || || || || n/a
|CHHS || 87.6 || 64.3 || || || || || 94.4 || || || || 89.1
|East || 87.8 || || >95+++ || || || || >95 || || || || 89.0
| AYP Status In Reading, Math and Graduation Rate for High Schools for 2007-08 (Preliminary)
| Percent Proficient in Reading Only
| || All || Af Am || Asian || Latino || Multi-racial || Nat Amer || White || EDS* || LEP* || ExEd*
|HS Reading Standard || 38.5 || 38.5 || 38.5 || 38.5 || 38.5 || 38.5 || 38.5 || 38.5 || 38.5 || 38.5
|DISTRICT || 88.6 || 63.0++|| 81.2 || 72.6++|| || || >95 || 59.3++|| || 55.8++
|CHS || 85.9 || || || || || || 94.5 || || ||
|CHHS || 89.3 || 74.4 || || || || || >95 || || || 89.1
|East || 88.4 || || 81.0 || || || || >95 || || ||
* EDS = Ecomonically Disadvantaged, LEP = Limited English Proficient, SWD = Students with Disabilities
++ Less than 95% of students tested, failed participation standard
(Sufficient numbers of Asian student were indeed tested; there were coding errors on placeholder records.)
(See Herald Sun School Performance Story.)
The failure of Chapel Hill to arrest a resident charged with serial misdemeanor criminal offenses leads to the fecal smearing of a public bathroom in Sugarland, a Franklin Street business in downtown Chapel Hill. Town leaders don’t rally to the victim, the business owner. In a “three stooges” response so typical of Chapel Hill, they rally instead to the side of the fecal smearer.
If you commit misdemeanor crimes and warrants are issued, in most towns in North Carolina you will be arrested. Not so in Chapel Hill.
Here are the bare facts, as reported by the local media. (See Herald Sun Homeless Man Story.)
Walter Cates, a homeless man, was being held in lieu of $300 secured bond in the medical unit of Raleigh's Central Prison on Thursday, one day after a warrant was taken out by the owners of Sugarland. (See Sugarland.) He was arrested in the 100 block of Main Street in Carrboro.
Mr. Cates is wheelchair-bound with part of one leg amputated as a result of severe diabetes. He regularly sits outside Sugarland near a bus stop and a crosswalk.
On 15 July 2008 a man wheeled Cates into the bathroom at Sugarland. Co-owner Katrina Ryan told the two men to leave, citing previous disputes with Cates and complaints of trespassing they'd filed with the Chapel Hill Police Department. They refused to leave the bathroom. When Cates exited about 15 minutes later, Ms. Ryan found human feces scattered on the floor and smeared on the walls.
Upon being called to the scene, the Chapel Hill police told Ms. Ryan that they couldn’t arrest Mr. Cates because they hadn’t seen him smear the feces on the wall. However, the police stepped in and told Mr. Cates to leave and not return to Sugarland.
Too bad the local media doesn't report that in Chapel Hill, no one from the town government will step in and assist a business owner until they have feces smeared on their walls… and then only out of fear of embarrassment will they give as minimalhelp as possible.
In Chapel Hill, victims have to go out and claim justice for themselves. So the Sugarland owners had to go into court without town support and repeat their complaints to a magistrate the next morning in order to geta warrant.
Pulpsters may remember previous Pulp stories about troubles downtown. (See Pulp Genital Exposer Story and
Pulp Genital Exposing Civil Rights Story.)
Yes, Mr. Cates was involved.
No, no one from the local media or police did anything after the Pulp publications.
Why is that important?
Mr. Cates has gotten bolder in his criminal actions over time, what one would expect as a rational response to irresponsible criminal justice administration. The untold story is that Councilors (such as Sally Greene and Mark Kleinschmidt) have interfered with the administration of justice using their executive imprimatur.
Mr. Cates is alleged to expose his genitals to Sugarland employees. Town response is having Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt comes to his general defense.
Mr. Cates is alleged to lewdly solicit young women at Sugarland. A warrant is taken out. Nothing happens. In fact, according to Orange County officials, a series of warrants dating back to 2006 have charged Mr. Cates with disorderly conduct, soliciting or begging for money, misdemeanor larceny, driving with a revoked license, and, now, damage-to-property.
Frustrated by town inaction, Sugarland co-owner “Doc” Ryan is reported to say, ”It's horrible, We feel it's a fraudulent misrepresentation for the Town Council to say that they care about downtown at all.”
Town stooge “Moe” (Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt) charges “Doc” Ryan with being associated with a ”school of thought in town” that any punishment short of hauling panhandlers off Franklin Street and jailing them for a long period of time is too soft. “Moe” believes Chapel Hill's panhandling ordinances are “plenty tough”. In Chapel Hill you can get fined up to $50 if you ask for “contributions” within 6 feet of a bus stop, 20 feet of an ATM or on a town bus.
“Moe” Kleinschmidt also labors under the belief that Chapel Hill has ““challenges related to this issue that other communities don't have. We're a community that fortunately has a lot of people on the street at a time. Those people are having a good time and visiting businesses downtown and they're walking around spending money. That kind of place is generally where people ask for money and where people gravitate to.” (No report on whether or not “Moe” has ever visited the many towns scattered across North Carolina to see that, amazingly,they too have tourists walking sidewalks.)
Town stooge “Larry” (town manager Roger Stancil) responds to the arrest by blaming the actions of an individual on a broken mental health system in North Carolina. (There is no record of any mental health problem with Mr. Cates that would require being put in a mental health institution.) “Larry” says ”I think it's really easy to blame the town and the police because we're right here.”
Town stooge “Curley” (town police chief Brian Curran) says that Mr. Cates is a well-known exception who poses several challenges for the Chapel Hill Police. According to “Curley”, Mr. Cates' wheelchair is a problem for patrol cars. (Apparently, “Curley” forgets that the police own a number of SUVs that can easily accommodate someone with a wheelchair.) Also, if the Orange County jail doesn’t have room for Mr. Cates, then the police ask for Mr. Cates to be released. (No word on why “Curley” felt that feces had to become involved before Mr. Cates is put in jail, as in this instance.)
“Curley” Curran also confirmed that Chapel Hill police have previously waited to serve warrants on Mr. Cates until he had sufficient warrants for them to be embarrassed at their inaction. For “Curley”, ”It's such a production to get Walter served. We're not talking about warrants where he's shooting people or anything like that; it's usually failure to appear or something like that.” (No word on whether or not any other miscreants are piling up warrants in Chapel Hill. If about to be arressted by Chapel Hill police, you can mention the policy regarding Mr. Cates and ask for equal treatment.)
Unbelievably, although Mr. Cates committed his fecal smearing less than two blocks from the local courthouse, according to “Curley” Curran, it's a ”challenge” getting Mr. Cates to show up in court. Because of his travel difficulties, the Chapel Hill police runs a taxi court service for Mr. Cates when he needs to show up.
In a related business story, sales of Sparky’s turd polish have skyrocketed.
The ostensible story in the local media is simple. As reported, “The town of Carrboro may soon join its neighbor to the east in keeping campaign contributors – and the candidates who accept their money – on a short leash.” (See Herald Sun Campaign Contribution Story.) The Boa can limit contributions in Carrboro elections to $250 per person per candidate, down from the state limit of $4000. Also, now contributors giving only $50 must be identified, as elsewhere in the state. (The Boa didn’t get the as low as $1 limit it originally wanted.)
A local Orange Progressive politician also tells a simple story. According to former Green Party member, little blue choo line cutter, vehicular weapons expert, tax-exempt business profiteer, and Carrboro anarchist alderman Dan Coleman, ”Carrboro elections have in the past been and are currently very affordable, This measure [allowed by recently passed S488], if we enact it, will allow us to keep them that way.”
Unfortunately, there is no sign of any problem with campaign contributions in Carrboro elections, except the use of outside district moneys. (See Lavelle Big Spender Outside Influence Pulp story.) The only person spending more than $3000 in an election in 2007 was Alderman Lydia Lavelle.
State Senator Ellie Kinnaird, who filed S488 in March 2007, is reported as saying “I think both Carrboro and Chapel Hill, and Orange County, want to be leaders and they believe strongly in campaign finance reform. They don't want money to influence elections.” Unfortunately, Senator Kinnaird is clueless in that she can’t give an example of where money has influenced an Orange election, choosing to ignore the use of outside district moneys by Commish Mike Nelson in his 2006 election campaign.
In order to take advantage of SB 488, the Boa must hold a public hearing and enact an ordinance. If adopted, the contribution limit ordinance sunsets 60 days before the next election. A new limiting ordinance can be adopted between 150 days and 60 days before filing for that next election.
Here’s the real story.
In order to maintain power in Carrboro elections, the Boa asked their favorite state senator to file an anarchist bill that would have allowed the Boa incumbents to maintain power by limiting campaign contributions to as little as $1 per person per candidate. The Boa would have been able to lower the contribution disclosure limit down to $1. The Boa could have done so at any time, even in the middle of an election, as many times as the Boa wanted. That’s what seemed fair and reasonable to Senator Kinnaird and to the Boa.
Unfortunately for Senator Kinnaird and the Boa, there is a state representative with Carrboro constitutents who doesn’t drink Orange Progressive Cool-Aid, Representative Bill Faison. Mr. Faison is responsible for changing S488 from a carte blanche maintaining power tool for the Boa into a law that supposedly is needed for a “problem” that Mayor Mark Chilton acknowledged to Representative Faison doesn’t exist. Mr. Faison required the contribution floor be no lower than $250, removed the $1 campaign contribution disclosure power, removed the ability of the BOA to change the limit during the election, removed the ability of the Boa to change the limit more than once in an election cycle, and imposed a sunset provision requiring reenactment before each election cycle.
So why isn’t the story of the reining in of an abusive anarchist Boa bill told in the local media? The answer is quite simple and in keeping with local politics. Mr. Faison is not in the favored political circle for southern Orange. So he shouldn’t get favorable media coverage. Moreover, his truly progressive actions highlight the abusive nature of the original overreaching bill wanted by the favored faux progressive anarchist Boa politicians.
The real lesson from this story is that the absence of “home rule” power for Carrboro forced an unreasonable, overreaching, anarchists bill to be recrafted into a tolerable, more reasonable bill. (“Home rule” refers to the ability of a local municipal jurisdiction to define its own powers. North Carolina doesn't allow “home rule”, and thus, the Boa had to go to the General Assembly to get the powers set forth in S488. But for a moderate legislator from Orange County (Mr. Faison), Senator Kinnaird and Representatives Insko and Hackney would have rammed through the original anarchist bill.)
As reported in April 2008 in the Pulp (see Pulp Exposer Expose), civil rights are important to Orange Progressive politicians. Not in the manner of Dr. King marching in Memphis for the rights of municipal workers, but in the manner of browbeating municipal workers (the local police) not to do their jobs.
Rogue Councilor Matt Czajkowski, continuing his streak of not drinking the Orange Progressive Cool-Aid, raised the specter that Chapel Hill may not have a monopoly on good governance, in general, and may not have workable solutions to unwanted public behavior such as public urination, public shouting of obscenities, or public genital exhibition, in particular. As can be seen on video (see Chapel Hill Meeting Video at the five hour mark), on 25 June 2008 Mr. Czajkowski spoke up about people not wanting to visit Franklin Street. He spoke about finding successful, proven ways to counteract unwanted public behavior downtown.
The bastions of Orange Progressive civil rights, Councilors Easthom, Greene, and Kleinschmidt acted as if Mr. Czajkowski had publicly urinated on the council table.
In a surreal demonstration as to how “reasonableness” is considered “unreasonable” in southern Orange, Councilor Greene led the charge by going off on the assertion that “it's already been done”. She did so without once admitting that there is a real problem with unwanted public behavior in downtown Chapel Hill.
Councilor Easthom bemoaned the problem as not being one of irresponsible behavior for which an individual should be held accountable. For her, the problem is one of the social condition imposed by society on an individual. Apparently, homelessness induces public urination lewdness, and obscenity.
But the piece de resistance of surreal argument belongs to Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt. He used Mr. Czajkowski giving the example of a “street person” shouting public obscenities as “proof” of Mr. Czajkowski being biased against street people in terms of their civil rights. Without Mr. Czajkowski having said anything like that either directly or indirecty, Councilor Kleinschmidt had no compunction in charging Councilor Czajkowski with being only against unwanted public behavior by street people. Apparently, Councilor Kleinschmidt feels that if 95% of the public urination is caused by a small minority of people, then implementing effective ordinances against public urination by those people would be a violation of their civil rights.
Pulpsters remember that Mr. Kleinschmidt previously has marched down to Chapel Hill Police Department headquarters and read the riot act… to the police concerning a gentlemen in a wheelchair who has publicly urinated in front of children at Kidzu. To Mr. Kleinschmidt, the rights of a serial lewd pervert demand more protection than the rights of young children.
No word on when room and board at their home will be offered the Franklin Street flasher by either Councilor Easthom, Greene, or Kleinschmidt.
With tax rates in Orange County municipalities heading higher faster than elsewhere in the state, the local media has had problems containing the bad news for their political pals. (See N&O Tax Rate Story.) Orange County now has the second-highest property tax rate in the state. OC tops the Triangle at 99.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value, (not including municipal taxes, fire district taxes or special school district taxes).
However, what did most counties handle their budgets for FY 2008-2009? Here is where fiscal management perspective can be gained. Out of 100 counties, 69 held the line with no tax increase. Six counties actually lowered taxes. Only 25 counties raised taxes. Of those counties, OC was in the top five county tax increases. For more information, see the County tax rate table.
More important than tax rates is the actual tax burden felt by individuals and households. A comparison of those tax burdens between OC residents and Durham County residents reveal that the tax burden in OC is significantly more than in Durham.
| County || Orange 2007 || Durham 2007 || Orange 2003 || Durham 2003
| Population || 123,766 || 246,824 || 122,526 || 233,548
| || || || ||
| Property Taxes || $111,442,856 || $180,834,540 || $78,482,224 || $149,783,738
| Per capita|| $900 || $733 || $641 || $641
| Per household|| $2188 || $1751 || ||
| Tax Rate || 0.9500 || 0.8430 || ||
| Assessed value || $11,730,826,947 || $21,682,798,561 || ||
| Per household|| $230,328 || $209,938 || ||
As can be seen in the table above, the per capita tax burden of $900 in OC versus $733 in Durham means that you pay 23% in county taxes just to live in Orange where Retail Leakage is public policy. Household tax burdens compare similarly. An OC household pays on average $2188 in county taxes versus $1751 in Durham, or about 25% more in OC.
Finally, one can look at what the present commisioners have done over the past five years in spending taxes. While Durham has increase property tax revenues (to them, but expenses to you) by about 21% in the past five years (or about 4% per year), Commishes have raised their tax haul by about 42% (or about 8% per year). Put another way, if Commishes had been as prudent as leaders in Durham, you would have received a tax break from present rates. Pulpsters should note that back in 2003, the per capita property tax burden was the same in OC and Durham (at $641).
For those apologists looking to contrast Durham as an “unfair” comparison, Pulpsters should keep in mind that the median household incomes of the two counties are similar ($55,861 for OC versus $54,157 for Durham, or a 3% difference). Also, the assessed value of taxable property per household are also similar – $239,328 in OC versus $209,938 in Durham, a 10% difference.
For twenty years Orange County Commishes have actively promoted practices leading to “Retail Leakage” (see Phictionary). More than 50 percent of retail dollars are spent outside the county by people who live in Orange. Sales tax revenue in Orange County is far below the level in adjacent counties, such as Durham and Alamance. Now, the Commish cause du jour is none other than repairing the retail leakage they created. (What a country. Get paid to make an economic mess. Get paid to clean up the economic mess that you got paid to make!)
In response to the Commishes, the Orange County Economic Development Commission came up with a partial solution to OC retail leakage, ask local businesses to give Orange County employees goods or service price discounts as part of the area's longtime “Buy Local” campaign. Ms. Yvonne Scarlett, administrative assistant for the commission, mailed hundreds of letters last month urging local businesses to take part in the program. Ms. Scarlett said ”We thought it would be a great way to use our own work force to actually promote shopping locally and increase local businesses' business”.
Orange County will spend your tax dollars on promotional material for local businesses. They will be ”featured” as a participating merchant in material given to all existing employees and all new employees regardless as to whether or not they livei n Orange County. Again, in the words of Ms. Scarlett, ”We want to ensure people spend their dollars locally so that money being spent is retained in the local economy. I think it's a fantastic program, because it gives me the opportunity to offer my fellow employees a discount. But more than anything, it offers the local businesses a chance to increase their sales – and that's more important to the economic development commission than anything.”
Unfortunately, having spent your tax dollars on advertising discounts to county employees, you will neither be part of that discount program nor privy to the pricing information being offered to county employees.
Having raised public employee pay to the point where it exceeds local private employee pay to most county taxpayers, having extended compensation benefits to county employees that far exceed local private compensation benefits, Commishes now use local taxes to extend goods and services discounts to county employees, but not county taxpayers.
See Herald Sun Employee Discount ED Fix.
More details of the Eve Carson murder were released with the court ordered opening of a search warrant in the case. The Pulp has no wish to go into all of the details. Readers can go elsewhere. (See Herald Sun Eve Carson Warrant Story).
One fact is of interest to the issue of the vigilance of the Chapel Hill Police with respect to gangs in the southern Orange area. When the Carson murder occurred, the Chapel Hill police Chief Curran and Mayor Foy took pains to disavow any hint of gang involvement. Turns out they have known since March 12th, one week after the murder (if not almost immediately) that Ms. Carson was murdered with two weapons, each suspect using a different weapon.
Two questions remain unanswered. Did Chief Curran issue the statement last week, “You can't just bury your head in the sand and hope that gang problems are going to pass you by, because they're here.” due to the warrant being unsealed by court order about one week later on 27 June 2008? (See Pulp Bogus Police Gang Vigilance Story.) Also, why did the Chapel Hill Police not suspect gang involvement when they knew on 12 March 2008 that the murder involved two suspects, each with a separate weapon used in the murder?