The Locker Room

December 17, 2008

Probation or prison

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:08 PM

Gov. Mike Easley told the McClatchy papers, "The current system puts people on probation who shouldn't be on probation. Until those people are put behind bars, this is going to continue."

We might could put more "hair triggers" and "mean people" in prison if we didn't have 6,171 people in for drug charges, including 2,256 black men (943 under the age of 25) for possession and other non-trafficking charges?

Plenty of room there for the 3,074 people on probation for murder, manslaughter, sexual offenses, and kidnapping, don't you think?

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Stimulating government

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 9:39 PM


Greg Mankiw provides a nice graph from his textbook showing how government has grown in response to crises. He also provides a link to one of the many great book I have not read, Robert Higgs' Crisis and Leviathan.

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Annexation Reform Update

Posted by Becki Gray at 4:50 PM

The Joint Legislative Study Commission on Municipal Annexation met again today to hear proposals for annexation reform from commission members. Most members offered ideas and suggestions during the hour or so allotted for “Commission member discussion” The Commission will meet at least one more time to decide on final recommendations for the 2009 General Assembly. The following is a list of today’s proposals loosely organized by my categories.

Proposals from Commission members:


  • Municipal boundaries cannot be extended without consent of property owners
  • Referendum vote
  • Vote prior to annexation
  • Consult State Board of Elections for an opinion on how to conduct vote
  • Super majority vote
  • In lieu of a referendum vote, a vote by county commissioners would at least be a vote of those elected to represent the citizens being annexed
  • What do most states do with a vote? Staff could not answer this.


  • Create a means for Local Government Commission review to look at any financial impact of annexations including collecting data, revenue change estimates and complete economic projections
  • The Joint Committee on Municipal Annexation would review involuntary annexations
  • For cities with up to 100,000 population, a review and stamp of approval from the Local Government Commission would be required.
  • Counties should provide oversight of annexation with the burden of proof on the city
  • Establish an Annexation Commission in conjunction with the Joint Legislative Commission on Municipal Incorporations to insure that cities know what they are getting into

Urban and Density:

  • Define and refine the notion of “urban”
  • Adjust the use of density standards
  • Change density requirement to 3 per acre and 75% developed
  • Define contiguous
  • Change the contiguous boundary requirement from 1/8 to 1/5 or 1/6.

Doughnut holes:

  • Create a divisional category for low income distressed areas (a.k.a. doughnut holes) with a 75% petition to qualify for annexations
  • Low-income communities that are contiguous to towns cannot be denied annexation and service.


  • Examine the revenue distribution of sales tax between the city and county
  • Phase in of property taxes over several years of 20/40/60/80 with all taxes refunded if services have not been provided.
  • No taxes until services are provided
  • Taxes would be pro-rated based on services provided or not provided.


  • If no water and sewer is provided, the annexation must be approved by 2/3 vote of property owners.
  • Provide water and sewer services before any taxes are levied.
  • Extend the 5-day period to request water and sewer services to 60 days.
  • Tighten the timeline for water and sewer services
  • If water and sewer services are not provided within 5 years, the annexed area can request de-annexation.
  • City assumes the costs of providing water and sewer.
  • Must provide meaningful services at a minimum with the option to add more services
  • Prior to any annexation, city must have cash on hand to furnish services and have water and sewer lines in place to reach each property owners
  • Services should not be duplicated with the burden of proof in the city
  • Moratorium until reform is sorted out or until the legislature passes reform and becomes law
  • Moratorium from Jan 28 until June 30 to allow time for legislators to be educated on annexation issues before laws are changed.


  • When a city goes over a county line to annex, the County Commissioners should have a voice in that annexation.
  • Ensure that any bill proposing annexation reform receive a full and fair hearing and not be held up in committee or allowed to die.
  • Public Hearing notice by certified mail; newspaper notices are not sufficient
  • Provide information with rights and responsibilities clearly outlined
  • Require that city official attend every meeting and be accessible to annexation victims
  • Prohibit the use of taxpayer paid employees, i.e. city attorneys, to work against those taxpayer’s interests. Cities must hire independent contractors.
  • Core issue is what are the rights of the citizens being involuntarily annexed.
  • With annexation, lifestyle changes occur with municipal regulations on what you can and cannot do on your property.
  • Effective date of an annexation should be at least 30 days prior to an election of any new city officials.
  • The charter of any municipality abusing annexation laws should be revoked.
The League of Municipalities were given an hour of the commission’s time and offered “substantial” changes which consisted mainly of providing more information to citizens being annexed against their will – they still intend to do it whenever they want. They have to “ensure proper growth management and more vibrant, productive towns”, you know.

By the way, see Daren's Spotlight report here for real reform suggestions. I have it on good authority that he will be posting here tomorrow with his follow up thoughts as well.

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Barone on Salazar

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:45 PM

Michael Barone suggests the choice of Sen. Ken Salazar as the next Interior Secretary signals that President-elect Obama wants to avoid another Bruce Babbitt in the post.

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Re: Get'em early

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 4:10 PM

The AFT “would love to see” children “from age three on” attending these programs, [Randi] Weingarten told last week during a teleconference about preschool curricula. “The research is completely conclusive of the issue that our brains develop faster between birth and five years old than they do pretty much at any other time.

Of course this would be a reason to keep them out of such programs. Why would we want to stunt the development of our young children's brains by taking them out of their homeschooled environment and putting them into a government school environment? In fact, why would we ever want to do that? Oh yeah, to increase the demand for members of the teachers union.

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Test Your Annexation Knowledge: The Millionaire's Edition

Posted by Daren Bakst at 3:36 PM

Here they are, the answers to the final questions to determine if you are a millionaire (a millionaire, not in the financial sense, but in a spiritual sense):

C, C, and B!

Thank you for playing and good night.

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The "stimulus" package and central planning

Posted by George Leef at 12:59 AM

In this piece, Sheldon Richman connects the looming "economic stimulus" with a big increase in the extent to which our economy will be centrally planned.

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Get 'em in early

Posted by David N. Bass at 11:16 AM


Children as young as three years old should be in public pre-school programs, according to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the nation’s largest teacher’s union.

The AFT “would love to see” children “from age three on” attending these programs, Weingarten told last week during a teleconference about preschool curricula. “The research is completely conclusive of the issue that our brains develop faster between birth and five years old than they do pretty much at any other time.

Heck, why not have the government take the kiddos at birth and be done with it?

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Anti-big government bumper stickers

Posted by David N. Bass at 10:40 AM

Human Events lists 10 anti-big government bumper stickers here. Three of the best: "There’s no government like no government," "Whatever the government gives, it must first take away," and "Big government: The opiate of the masses."

They would be funny if they weren't so true.

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Re: Not A New Issue

Posted by Hal Young at 10:20 AM

It was Winston Churchill, speaking of the threat of Russian Bolshevism, in 1919. As other tyrants two decades later, Churchill accurately identified the trouble on the horizon, but at a time when few wanted to think about it.

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Speaking of a huge increase in federal education spending...

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:25 AM

From yesterday's New York Times: "Obama’s $10 Billion Promise Stirs Hope in Early Education"

And the $10 billion Mr. Obama has pledged for early childhood education would amount to the largest new federal initiative for young children since Head Start began in 1965. Now, Head Start is a $7 billion federal program serving about 900,000 preschoolers.
True to the progressive tradition of the NYT, the reporter could only muster two short paragraphs about the opposition to universal or expanded early childhood initiatives.
Outright opponents are fewer, and certainly less influential than they once were. In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon vetoed a bill that would have underwritten child care for everyone, arguing that the bill “would commit the vast moral authority of the national government to the side of communal approaches to child rearing over against the family-centered approach.”

For years after that, conservatives blocked many early childhood initiatives, but resistance has diminished in recent years.
A good journalist would ask some basic questions. Who are the opponents? Why do they oppose early childhood education? What is the connection between Richard Nixon and today's opposition, if any? Who are the "conservatives" that blocked the initiatives? Did any moderates or liberals join the opposition? Did any conservatives support early childhood programs? Why did conservatives support/block the initiatives? Why has their power "diminished in recent years?"

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The Arne Duncan Problem

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:23 AM

Dan Lips of the Heritage Foundation sounds surprisingly upbeat about Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools and Obama nominee for Secretary of Education, resuming federal intrusion into public education.

Mr. Duncan is known as one of a handful of innovative, reform-minded big city schools chiefs. How that will translate to the national level remains to be seen. Conservatives should be heartened that Mr. Duncan recognizes the need for local leadership and innovation. And that he supports amending federal policy to grant states greater flexibility and autonomy. Yet given his support for sharp federal spending increases, it is unclear how well the Secretary translates local lessons to the federal level. (Emphases added.)
The question we should be asking is: will Arne reduce the federal government's role in public education? There is no evidence that he will. Any "flexibility and autonomy" for states will only occur within the context of some giant federal education program that will take more than it gives. Surely those at the Heritage Foundation know that.

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Change we’re bound to see: increased lobbying

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:49 AM

Robert J. Samuelson uses his latest Newsweek column to describe one likely impact from increased government intervention by the Obama administration:

The only way to eliminate lobbying and special interests is to eliminate government. The more powerful government becomes, the more lobbying there will be. So, paradoxically, Obama's ambitions for more expansive government will promote special pleading. You need only watch the response to the expected "economic stimulus" plan — totaling perhaps $700 billion — to verify this eternal truth.

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Greatest? Uh, no.

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:46 AM

Charles Peters is president of an organization called Understanding Government, “a nonprofit seeking better government through better journalism,” according to Newsweek.

It’s too bad Peters considers better journalism to include this unsupported assertion: “The greatest president of the last century, Franklin Roosevelt. …”

It’s possible one could assign that accolade to FDR based on his war-time record, but Peters implies that the honorific is due because of Roosevelt’s executive style.

If Peters wants to promote better journalism, he ought to read what Amity Shlaes has to say about the problems created by Roosevelt’s erratic leadership:

Kokai: We know Roosevelt today as the resolute war leader, the person who early on said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” But you say that during the Depression, “Roosevelt believed in a future of scarcity,” and later you add that the New Deal was causing the country to forgo prosperity, if not recovery. That sounds like a much more pessimistic attitude than what we have all learned about FDR and his role in bringing us back.

Shlaes: I think these days we suffer in history from what might be called “presidentism.” It’s all about the presidents, right? We move from president to president, and that is the history. Yes, of course, we need to know our leaders well. But no president is perfect. Roosevelt was a great war leader. He was the right man for the war. That should not allow the reality of what he did in the 1930s to be so obscured, and what he did in the 1930s was truly problematic. He was egregiously arrogant. He said, “We seek in government an instrument of unimagined power.” Can you imagine a presidential candidate today, not John Edwards, not Hillary Clinton, not Ron Paul, not Romney. No one would say, “We seek an instrument of unimagined power to create a higher order of things.” I am paraphrasing.

He was very, very arrogant. He attacked principles of property, and he had no understanding for the market and even for the American temperament of the small businessman. So that was a lot different from what I had studied as a child, reading books about FDR. My book seeks to give a reality revision, not an ideological revision, of the ambiguous character that he was in the ’30s.

Kokai: You don’t paint him as a villain, but you do point to some of the things that he did that just built upon other mistakes. You get the sense in reading this book that if he had just stopped at some point and let his various “reforms” stand, we would have been better off.

Shlaes: Politicians have their reasons, that they like reform for the sake of reform. But as we know here in the marketplace or when we are citizens that reform for the sake of reform is very costly in terms of uncertainty. If your child’s school is reformed six times from first grade to sixth grade, you know he doesn’t have a pleasant experience in that school and a lot of us know that, right? So we know No Child Left behind. We know stuff that changes sounds good, but change itself can be trouble.

And that was the New Deal. Roosevelt would do a reform. One day he loved big business. The next day he is suing them. Then he loves them again, breathing spell, then he is back at them. And even Keynes, the famous U.K. economist who was so important in that period, didn’t like it. He said to Roosevelt about utilities: either nationalize them or leave them alone. What’s the use of chasing them around the lot every other week? That’s the politician, and that’s what Roosevelt did. It’s the dark side of his famous phrase “bold, persistent experimentation.” People don’t like bold, persistent experimentation too much because they can’t get their bearings, and that’s a little bit of what happened in the ’30s — especially the latter half.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:40 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Daren Bakst's new blueprint for annexation reform in North Carolina.

John Hood's Daily Journal features his use of iambic pentameter in telling the tale of "The Littlest Christmas Bow."

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