Opinion – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com Experience the World of Chatham County, NC Fri, 16 Feb 2018 05:03:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i1.wp.com/chathamjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/10888465-four-newspaper-pile-isolated-on-white-background-Stock-Vector-newspaper-icon-headline-5580d7a0v1_site_icon.png?fit=32%2C32 Opinion – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com 32 32 Experience the World of Chatham County, NC Opinion – Chatham Journal Newspaper Experience the World of Chatham County, NC Opinion – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://chathamjournal.com/category/opinion/ TV-G 63016882 10 worst colleges for free speech in 2018 http://chathamjournal.com/2018/02/13/10-worst-colleges-free-speech-2018/ Tue, 13 Feb 2018 21:31:37 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=8421 Every year, FIRE chooses the 10 worst colleges for free speech — and unfortunately, 2017 left us with plenty of options: Campuses were rocked by violent mob censorship, monitored by bias response teams, plagued by free speech zones, and beset…

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10 worst colleges for free speech in 2018 appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

Every year, FIRE chooses the 10 worst colleges for free speech — and unfortunately, 2017 left us with plenty of options: Campuses were rocked by violent mob censorship, monitored by bias response teams, plagued by free speech zones, and beset by far too many disinvitation attempts. Although the number of colleges with the most restrictive speech codes has continued to decline, 90 percent of schools still maintain codes that either clearly restrict or could too easily be used to restrict free speech.

10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech in 2018Today, we present our 2018 list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech. As always, our list is presented in no particular order, and it includes both public and private institutions. Public colleges and universities are bound by the First Amendment; the private colleges on this list, though not required by the Constitution to protect student and faculty speech rights, explicitly promise to do so.

A new feature of this year’s list is our Lifetime Censorship Award. This “honor” goes to the one college or university that is so frequently discussed as a contender for our annual “worst colleges for free speech” list that it deserves special recognition. This year, that school is DePaul University.

Are you a student or faculty member whose free speech rights are imperiled on campus? Submit a case to FIRE. Also, check out FIRE’s Guides to Student Rights on Campus to help you fight for free speech, due process, religious liberty, and more.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.)

Rensselar EMPAC (Credit: UpstateNYer)

Rensselaer Student Union (Credit: FIRE)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, nestled in eastern New York, has a long history of censoring anything controversial, from criticism of the Iraq War to critics of that criticism. In 2017, RPI continued that tradition, working (literally) day and night to censor students. The target? Students who criticized what they perceive to be RPI administrators’ attempts to take over the Rensselaer Union — an organization and facility that has been independently operated by RPI students for over a century.

Last fall, students were required to ask administrators’ permission to hold a peaceful demonstration outside a black-tie fundraiser held by RPI’s president, Shirley Ann Jackson. Administrators denied that request — the second time they had denied “Save the Union” advocates permission to hold a demonstration. To add insult to injury, RPI administrators tore down “Save the Union” signs before dawn — an act of censorship caught on video — and erected fences to keep student protesters away from would-be donors.

After students peacefully demonstrated anyway, RPI brought charges against “leaders” of the demonstration — identified as “leaders” on the basis that they spoke to local television stations. One student was charged under a policy barring commercial solicitation for distributing a letter criticizing the administration. These charges were dropped only after months of criticism from FIRE.

RPI’s conduct earned it letters from both FIRE and the New York Civil Liberties Union, which criticized RPI’s use of an “apparently non-existent policy” to penalize critics of the administration. In response to FIRE, RPI claimed student expression would not be punished “provided it is within the realm of civil discourse (e.g., not hate speech or threatening).” RPI has no written policy requiring “civil discourse,” but it does have a “red light” speech code rating from FIRE for other policies restricting student expression.

Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pa.)


Drexel University Main Building

Drexel University makes promises to protect professors’ speech rights, but the university’s treatment of Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher makes clear it does not keep them.

The trouble for Ciccariello-Maher began on Dec. 24, 2016, when he tweeted “All I Want For Christmas is White Genocide,” which he said was “a satirical tweet about an imaginary concept, ‘white genocide.’” Perhaps predictably, a backlash ensued — one that was fueled in significant part by accounts operated by the Russia-based and Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency. Drexel initially promised Ciccariello-Maher that he would not face punishment for the tweet, but the red light institution quietly launched an investigation anyway.

FIRE wrote to Drexel on June 2, 2017, reminding the university of its commitments to free expression and warning that its investigation of Ciccariello-Maher contradicted those promises. Rather than admit its mistake, Drexel refused to drop its investigation and then barred Ciccariello-Maher from campus in October, citing threats from those outraged by his tweets. When FIRE asked Drexel to provide basic information regarding its decision to ban Ciccariello-Maher, the university refused. Finally, one year after the controversy began, Ciccariello-Maher resigned from his “unsustainable” position, noting, “We are all a single outrage campaign away from having no rights at all, as my case and many others make clear.”

Ciccariello-Maher was right to say there are “many others” like him. Just last year, faculty at schools including the University of Tampa, Essex County College, Montclair State University, California State University, Fresno, and Trinity College faced suspensions, investigations, and even firings in response to outrage campaigns.

Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)

harvard panorama Marcio Jose Bastos Silva Shutterstock.com feat

Widener Library at Harvard (Credit: Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock)

To make the list for the fourth time, all Harvard University really had to do was continue unabated on the campaign against free association that landed it on this list last year.

Harvard did just that, and the blacklist policy to deny certain academic and leadership privileges to members of single-gender groups like sororities, fraternities, and final clubs is still on track to be implemented this semester. But, always the overachievers, Harvard’s administration cemented their case with two additional free speech controversies.

First, Harvard rescinded offers of admission from 10 students for sharing joke images in a private group chat on Facebook. Had those students matriculated to Harvard, subjecting them to punishment would have been in violation of Harvard policy. But as the students had only been admitted, Harvard, under the cover of that technicality, deemed them unworthy of protection.

Ironically, this happened only a week after we praised Harvard President Drew Faust for a powerful commencement address in support of free speech on college campuses. She said, in part: “Our values and our theory of education rest on the assumption that members of our community will take the risk of speaking and will actively compete in our wild rumpus of argument and ideas. It requires them as well to be fearless in face of argument or challenge or even verbal insult.”

Harvard’s administration had another opportunity to demonstrate that very same fearlessness when it received criticism from the intelligence community for extending a visiting fellowship to court-martialed former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Instead, it almost immediately buckled to pressure and revoked the fellowship. Harvard’s speed to cave under external criticism further undermines its commitment to the “wild rumpus of ideas.”

With President Faust resigning at the conclusion of this academic year, we hope that her successor, former Tufts University President Lawrence Bacow, will address Harvard’s red light speech code rating and demonstrate the commitment to defending free speech that Faust’s administration lacked. However, given that Bacow’s tenure at Tufts was marred by several speech controversies of its own, we are less than optimistic.

Los Angeles Community College District (Los Angeles, Calif.)

According to the Los Angeles Community College District, all of the grounds on its nine campuses — comprising the largest community college district in the country — are off-limits to free speech, except administratively designated “free speech zones.” The breadth and severity of its speech restrictions, affecting over 150,000 students in the district, earns LACCD a spot on this year’s list.

Last year, a student at one district campus, Los Angeles Pierce College, decided to push back. On March 28, 2017, Pierce student Kevin Shaw filed a lawsuit with FIRE’s help against administrators at LACCD and Pierce College after he was told he could not hand out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution on behalf of Young Americans for Liberty outside the college’s tiny free speech zone. The zone is about the size of three parking spaces and makes up about .003 percent of the campus. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in Shaw’s case, arguing that he successfully alleged First Amendment violations.

Just last month, the court rejected LACCD administrators’ attempt to dismiss Shaw’s lawsuit, which is part of our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. In an opinion from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the court ruled that open, outdoor areas of Pierce’s campus are public forums for student speech, whether or not school policy attempts to label them otherwise.

Fordham University (New York, N.Y.)


Fordham Rose Hill Campus (Credit: Fordham.edu)

What’s worse than making this list in 2017? Finding yourself back on it in 2018.

In late 2016, Fordham University’s United Student Government Senate and Executive Board granted approval to a prospective chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. However, Dean of Students Keith Eldredge overruled the USG and denied recognition to SJP, writing that he “cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country” and that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … often leads to polarization rather than dialogue.”

On Jan. 25, 2017, FIRE and the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote to Fordham (which also earns a red light speech code rating from FIRE), calling on the university to reverse its rejection of SJP in keeping with its free speech promises. Instead, Fordham doubled down and even went so far as to sanction students protesting the university’s decision, which cemented its place on last year’s “10 Worst” list.

But the story didn’t end there. Members of the prospective SJP chapter fought back and filed a lawsuit against Fordham on April 26, 2017. Again, rather than admitting its errors, Fordham continued to stand by its disregard for free association, earning its title as one of 2018’s worst. On Jan. 3, Fordham defended its actions in court by offering a shifting array of justifications for its behavior, each less believable than the last, eventually claiming that the students could start a group, so long as it didn’t use the “Students for Justice in Palestine” name — a claim that directly contradicts the university’s written explanations for why it denied official recognition to the group.

Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.)


Evergreen State’s Seminar II Building (Credit: Goldom / Wikimedia)

One year ago, this small, liberal arts college in Olympia, Washington was unknown to most of the country. Now it has achieved a kind of infamy, at least in higher education circles.

It started when Evergreen State College staff decided to invert their annual “Day of Absence.” Traditionally, that’s a day when people of color leave the campus to illustrate how much the community depends on them. In 2017, however, Evergreen’s administration decided to ask white people to leave campus instead.

Biology Professor Bret Weinstein responded to this request on a staff and faculty email list, objecting to the idea of asking people to leave rather than having a group voluntarily leave. Weinstein’s message ended with: “On a college campus, one’s right to speak — or to be — must never be based on skin color.”

Some weeks later, after the Day of Absence had passed, 50 students showed up outside Weinstein’s class. They shouted and chanted until he came out, accusing him of racism and demanding his resignation. They yelled over him when he tried to talk and blocked him when he tried to leave. Students then occupied the library, surrounding the college president’s office. They reportedly blocked entrances with furniture.

Weinstein and his wife, also a professor, were unable to return safely to campus and left their jobs; the school would end up paying a $500,000 settlement to the pair.

Protest is good. Calls for censorship are not. Disagreeing over how to stand up for diversity is not a good reason to intimidate or attempt to silence anyone.

FIRE wrote to Evergreen in December about its red light speech code rating and received no response.

Albion College (Albion, Mich.)


Albion’s Ferguson Hall (Credit: albioncollege / Flickr)

In September, Albion College student Alex Tokie sent an email to his fellow College Republicans with a number of suggestions about debating “white privilege.” As a joke, he concluded his email by suggesting to his peers: “Take the liberal tears from the idiot you just destroyed in your debate, dissemble your American made Springfield M1911 .45 caliber handgun and apply the tears in order to clean the mechanism, reassemble and proceed to purchase ANTIFA and ISIS hunting permits and max out on tags[.]”

That email marked the beginning of an investigation that has spanned nearly six months.

Administrators first began investigating Tokie in September, and notified him in November that he was charged with violating Albion’s policy against the “[u]se of, or threatened use of, physical force or violence.”

After a letter from FIRE reminding Albion of its free speech commitments, the college postponed Tokie’s Nov. 17 hearing, but it left him in limbo for weeks without any updates. Administrators finally contacted Tokie in December to reschedule his hearing, demanding he return to campus during winter break, or the hearing would be held in his absence.

Fortunately, Tokie was instead able to schedule his hearing for Jan. 26, but his ordeal isn’t over yet. Administrators put Tokie through a four-hour hearing, and then told him that it could be weeks before they determine his fate. Tokie is still awaiting the outcome.

No college promising free expression should put students through months-long investigations for jokes. Those that do can expect to find themselves on this list.

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.)


University Hall at Northwestern University (Credit: madcoverboy / Wikimedia)

Demanding a professor turn over confidential source material as part of a secret investigation into their writing is a surefire way to grab FIRE’s attention. If it’s Northwestern University making that demand, it’s a surefire way to end up back on this list.

Northwestern last made an appearance on this list in 2016, following two of the worst attacks on academic freedom that we have seen in recent years. The first was the 70-day “Title IX inquisition” of Professor Laura Kipnis for, ironically, writing an essay critical of Title IX abuses. The second was the censorship of a faculty-produced bioethics journal over concerns that one of its articles might hurt the medical school’s “brand.” The school also created an oversight committee to review the journal’s content prior to publication, which prompted the journal’s then-editor, Professor Alice Dreger, to resign in protest.

Last February, an ad hoc committee on academic freedom issued a report to the Northwestern Faculty Senate addressing “serious violations of academic freedom” stemming from the Kipnis and Dreger affairs. The report recognized that Northwestern had “taken steps to prevent a recurrence of the Kipnis episode” that included policy revisions, and that had the revisions “been in place at the time of the complaint against Kipnis, it is likely that no investigation would have taken place.”

But the committee was wrong. Only a few months after the committee issued its report, Kipnis was indeed the subject of a yet another Northwestern Title IX investigation — this time for writing “Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus,” a book about being investigated for saying there are too many Title IX investigations. The investigation lasted a month, during which Kipnis was asked to respond to at least 80 written questions about her book and to provide her source material. She was also urged to keep the investigation confidential.

Although Kipnis was — yet again — found not responsible for violating any Northwestern policies, the arduous process was itself a form of punishment, and the inevitable chilling effect of the investigation on other Northwestern scholars cannot be discounted. For its part, Northwestern seemed to dismiss the ad hoc committee on academic freedom’s report, and it still maintains a mountain of yellow light speech codes that continue to threaten speech on campus.

University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)

university of california berkeley ucberkeley free speech movement cafe CREDIT gary yim Shutterstock.com feat

Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement Cafe

Just as the 1964 Free Speech Movement was a watershed moment for campus speech rights, so too were the events that occurred at the University of California, Berkeley last year — this time for more inauspicious reasons.

On Feb. 1, 2017, the campus erupted into violence. Former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was set to speak and an estimated 1,500 people showed up to protest, some with the goal of shutting down the speech “by any means necessary.” Protesters set fires, hurled Molotov cocktails, and allegedly assaulted other members of the crowd. Their efforts were successful. The speech was canceled. There was $100,000 worth of damage. In an essay for the Berkeley student newspaper, one student wrote, “Behind those bandanas and black T-shirts were the faces of your fellow UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College students[.]”

After the riot, things did not quiet down:

  • A September appearance by conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro cost the university $600,000 to secure, and a total of $800,000 was spent on security for a planned appearance by conservative commentator Ann Coulter and another appearance by Yiannopoulos.
  • In April, a student group had to cancel an appearance by conservative activist David Horowitz because the event couldn’t be held at a time and location that would ensure adequate attendance due to security concerns.
  • There was also an incident involving a Berkeley student destroying a College Republicans sign. It was caught on video and the student was eventually arrested.

After its initial failure in securing and investigating the Feb. 1 riot, the Berkeley administration has admirably reasserted the right to free speech on campus: It provided the necessary security for the aforementioned campus speeches, it hired a new chancellor who declared a “Free Speech Year,” and it unveiled a new policy that eliminates some of the hurdles to hosting an on-campus event.

However, despite these recent efforts, a culture that is protective of free speech sometimes depends on more than well-meaning administrators. What’s more, Berkeley still has a yellow light speech code rating from FIRE. We hope that Berkeley’s efforts to rebound from last year’s free speech battles result in a cultural shift on campus and the reform of its speech codes. If so, we look forward to removing the school from this list next year.

Texas State University (San Marcos, Texas)


Texas State’s Old Main (Credit: Travis Witt / Wikimedia)

Want to write a provocative newspaper article to spark discussion about a contemporary social or political issue? Better think twice if you attend Texas State University.

In November, independent Texas State newspaper The University Star published an editorial by opinion columnist Rudy Martinez. The editorial, titled “Your DNA is an abomination,” argued that race is a social construct used to oppress minorities, and that “whiteness” should be destroyed, stating about those who he believes choose to identify as white: “I hate you because you shouldn’t exist.”

The campus erupted in a predictable frenzy of outrage. TXST’s Student Government president threatened to attack the paper’s funding unless its editor-in-chief, the opinions editor, and Rudy Martinez all resigned. Other students began a petition to strip The University Star of its funding. Judy Oskam, director of TXST’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, announced that she was forming a committee to review the newspaper’s editorial process.

FIRE, the Student Press Law Center, and the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote to TXST President Denise Trauth, reminding her that any attack on the newspaper’s funding because of its published content would violate the First Amendment. We also pointed out that interference with the editorial process by a review committee would constitute an infringement on press freedoms.

TXST’s response to our letter contained factual inaccuracies and half-hearted deflections, including a claim that the university abandoned the idea of a review committee for unstated reasons, and without announcing as much. Conspicuously absent from TXST’s response was any concrete commitment to safeguarding students’ First Amendment rights. For this yellow light institution’s contribution to a chill on expressive rights on campus, TXST has earned its place on this year’s list of worst colleges for free speech.

Lifetime Censorship Award: DePaul University (Chicago, Ill.)

depaul Yiannopoulos college republicans feat

Protestors storm the stage at a Milo Yiannopoulos event at DePaul University

DePaul University’s selection as the inaugural recipient of this “award” stems from its previous appearances on this list and from its decade-long rap sheet of censorship spanning the ideological spectrum.

The state of free speech at DePaul didn’t improve in 2016 or 2017. Administrators required the College Republicans to pay for 20 security officers for an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos — officers who did nothing when disruptions materialized, preventing the event from moving forward. When the College Republicans sought to reschedule, DePaul said it “would not be possible for DePaul to provide security,” and, in any event, Yiannopoulos’ words were “inflammatory.” When another conservative group sought to bring conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro to campus, administrators vetoed that invitation. DePaul then required a socialist student organization to pay for security officers to monitor a discussion with the author of a book about Karl Marx because, DePaul said, it was “potentially controversial.”

DePaul’s requirement that students pay for security officers to monitor their discussions led us to ask whether DePaul was America’s worst school for free speech.

In May, the university may have answered our question by enacting new “guiding principles” promising free speech — and then promptly ignoring them. After a student organization invited conservative commentator and author Jamie Kirchick, known for his argument that gay rights are imperiled in Russia and Islamic countries, DePaul forbade the group from using the slogan “Gay Lives Matter” to promote the event because it would “be co-opting another movements [sic] approach.”

While it was a slight improvement that DePaul let the students hear from a speaker of their choice, requiring students to get an administrator’s permission to use a particular slogan is inconsistent with the freedom of expression DePaul promises its students. We asked DePaul to respond to our letter and said that, if it didn’t, “we will assume that DePaul intends to continue making promises it has no intention to keep.” DePaul never responded, thus finding itself the inaugural recipient of our Lifetime Censorship Award recognizing the university as the worst of the worst schools for free speech.

Schools: Los Angeles Pierce College Albion College Fordham University Texas State University – San Marcos Harvard University Evergreen State College Drexel University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Northwestern University DePaul University University of California, Berkeley Cases: Texas State University: Independent Student Newspaper Under Fire for Controversial Opinion Column Albion College: Student Investigated for Hyperbolic Email about Antifa and ISIS Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Prohibition on Homecoming Demonstrations Drexel University: Professor Faces Investigation for Controversial Tweets Los Angeles Pierce College – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit DePaul University: DePaul Continues to Impose ‘Speech Tax’ on Student Expression Harvard University: Blacklisting of Final Club, Fraternity, and Sorority Students Northwestern University: Censorship of Faculty-Produced Bioethics Journal with “Bad Girls” Theme

10 worst colleges for free speech in 2018 appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

President Donald J. Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address http://chathamjournal.com/2018/01/31/president-donald-j-trumps-2018-state-union-address/ Wed, 31 Jan 2018 19:34:14 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=8380 Washington, DC – US president Donald Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address as prepared for delivery TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and…

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President Donald J. Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

Washington, DC – US president Donald Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address as prepared for delivery


Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

Less than 1 year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American People — and to address their concerns, their hopes, and their dreams.  That night, our new Administration had already taken swift action.  A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.

Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission — to make America great again for all Americans.

Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success.  We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined.  We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship.  We endured floods and fires and storms.  But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s spine.

Each test has forged new American heroes to remind us who we are, and show us what we can be.

We saw the volunteers of the “Cajun Navy,” racing to the rescue with their fishing boats to save people in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane.

We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip.

We heard tales of Americans like Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery with Melania.  Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during Hurricane Harvey.  Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved live power lines and deep water, to help save more than 40 lives.  Thank you, Ashlee.

We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg.  He is here with us too.  David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened by wildfires.

To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California, and everywhere else — we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together.

Some trials over the past year touched this chamber very personally.  With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House — a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later:  the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise.

We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police Officers, the Alexandria Police, and the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who saved his life, and the lives of many others in this room.

In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people.  But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy.  Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.

Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew:  that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans.  If there is a mountain, we climb it.  If there is a frontier, we cross it.  If there is a challenge, we tame it.  If there is an opportunity, we seize it.

So let us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong.

And together, we are building a safe, strong, and proud America.

Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone.  After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.

Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low.  African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.

Small business confidence is at an all-time high.  The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value.  That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.

And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.

Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.

To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone.  Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free.  We also doubled the child tax credit.

A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 — slashing their tax bill in half.

This April will be the last time you ever file under the old broken system — and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month.

We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year — forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans.  We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare — the individual mandate is now gone.

We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world.  These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.

Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.

Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub Manufacturing — a small business in Ohio.  They have just finished the best year in their 20-year history.  Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door.

One of Staub’s employees, Corey Adams, is also with us tonight.  Corey is an all-American worker.  He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder.  Like many hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax‑cut raise into his new home and his two daughters’ education.  Please join me in congratulating Corey.

Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands of dollars per worker.  Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers.

This is our new American moment.  There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.

So to every citizen watching at home tonight — no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time.  If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.

Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of Nation we are going to be.  All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.

We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.

Together, we are rediscovering the American way.

In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life.  Our motto is “in God we trust.”

And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.

Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day.  He decided to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes.  Preston:  a job well done.

Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans.  Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.

Americans love their country.  And they deserve a Government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.

For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their Government.

Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court Justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.

We are defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.

And we are serving our brave veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their healthcare decisions.  Last year, the Congress passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act.  Since its passage, my Administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve — and we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do.

I will not stop until our veterans are properly taken care of, which has been my promise to them from the very beginning of this great journey.

All Americans deserve accountability and respect — and that is what we are giving them.  So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers — and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.

In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.

We have ended the war on American Energy — and we have ended the war on clean coal.  We are now an exporter of energy to the world.

In Detroit, I halted Government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers — so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.

Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States — something we have not seen for decades.    Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan; Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama.  Soon, plants will be opening up all over the country.  This is all news Americans are unaccustomed to hearing — for many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us.  But now they are coming back.

Exciting progress is happening every day.

To speed access to breakthrough cures and affordable generic drugs, last year the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history.

We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives.

People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure — I want to give them a chance right here at home.  It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the “right to try.”

One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs.  In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States.  That is why I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities.  Prices will come down.

America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our Nation’s wealth.

The era of economic surrender is over.

From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal.

We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.

And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.

As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

America is a nation of builders.  We built the Empire State Building in just 1 year — is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?

I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.

Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.

Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.

Together, we can reclaim our building heritage.  We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.  And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.

We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work.  We want every child to be safe in their home at night.  And we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.

We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.

As tax cuts create new jobs, let us invest in workforce development and job training.  Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential.  And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave.

As America regains its strength, this opportunity must be extended to all citizens.  That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.

Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.

For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities.  They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans.  Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.

Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers:  Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens.  Their two teenage daughters — Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens — were close friends on Long Island.  But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa’s 16th Birthday, neither of them came home.  These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown.  Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa’s murders.  Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors ‑- and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school.

Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert:  Tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you.  Everyone in America is grieving for you.  And 320 million hearts are breaking for you.  We cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other families never have to endure this pain.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country.  We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever happen again.

The United States is a compassionate nation.  We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world.  But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities.  I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things.  I want our poor to have their chance to rise.

So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed.  My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream.  Because Americans are dreamers too.

Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country:  Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez — he goes by CJ.  CJ served 15 years in the Air Force before becoming an ICE agent and spending the last 15 years fighting gang violence and getting dangerous criminals off our streets.  At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ’s murder.  But he did not cave to threats or fear.  Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long Island.  His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 from MS-13.

CJ:  Great work.  Now let us get the Congress to send you some reinforcements.

Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package.

In recent months, my Administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform.  Based on these discussions, we presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise — one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.

Here are the four pillars of our plan:

The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration.  Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.

The second pillar fully secures the border.  That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe.  Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country — and it finally ends the dangerous practice of “catch and release.”

The third pillar ends the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people.  It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.

The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration.  Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.  Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.  This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.

In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration.  In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can no longer afford.

It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.

These four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.

For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem.  This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.

Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first.  So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.

These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.

In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses:  174 deaths per day.  Seven per hour.  We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.

My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need.  The struggle will be long and difficult — but, as Americans always do, we will prevail.

As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America.

We see a vivid expression of this truth in the story of the Holets family of New Mexico.  Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department.  He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca.  Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin.  When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep.  She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him:  “You will do it — because you can.”  He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids.  Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca.  In an instant, she agreed to adopt.  The Holets named their new daughter Hope.

Ryan and Rebecca:  You embody the goodness of our Nation.  Thank you, and congratulations.

As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.

Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values.  In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense.

For this reason, I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military.

As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.  Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons.  Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth.  One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria.  But there is much more work to be done.  We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight.  Near Raqqa last November, Justin and his comrade, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, were on a mission to clear buildings that ISIS had rigged with explosives so that civilians could return to the city.

Clearing the second floor of a vital hospital, Kenton Stacy was severely wounded by an explosion.  Immediately, Justin bounded into the booby-trapped building and found Kenton in bad shape.  He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway.  He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport and maintained artificial respiration through 2 hours of emergency surgery.

Kenton Stacy would have died if not for Justin’s selfless love for a fellow warrior.  Tonight, Kenton is recovering in Texas.  Raqqa is liberated.  And Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a “V” for “Valor.”  Staff Sergeant Peck:  All of America salutes you.

Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil.  When possible, we annihilate them.  When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them.  But we must be clear:  Terrorists are not merely criminals.  They are unlawful enemy combatants.  And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.

In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield — including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi.

So today, I am keeping another promise.  I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay.

I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and al-Qa’ida, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists — wherever we chase them down.

Our warriors in Afghanistan also have new rules of engagement.  Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans.

Last month, I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the Senate just months before:  I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Shortly afterwards, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to make this recognition.  American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year.

That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.

As we strengthen friendships around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries.

When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent.  America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.

I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.

My Administration has also imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.

But no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.

North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland.

We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.

Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation.  I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.

We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies.

Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia.  On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea.  At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state.  After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June — horribly injured and on the verge of death.  He passed away just days after his return.

Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight — along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta.  You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all.  Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with American resolve.

Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime.  His name is Mr. Ji Seong-ho.

In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea.  One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food.  In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger.  He woke up as a train ran over his limbs.  He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain.  His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves — permanently stunting their own growth.  Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China.  His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians.  He had — and he resolved to be free.

Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom.  Most of his family followed.  His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death.

Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most ‑- the truth.

Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come.  Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all.

Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.

It was that same yearning for freedom that nearly 250 years ago gave birth to a special place called America.  It was a small cluster of colonies caught between a great ocean and a vast wilderness.  But it was home to an incredible people with a revolutionary idea:  that they could rule themselves.  That they could chart their own destiny.  And that, together, they could light up the world.

That is what our country has always been about.  That is what Americans have always stood for, always strived for, and always done.

Atop the dome of this Capitol stands the Statue of Freedom.  She stands tall and dignified among the monuments to our ancestors who fought and lived and died to protect her.

Monuments to Washington and Jefferson — to Lincoln and King.

Memorials to the heroes of Yorktown and Saratoga — to young Americans who shed their blood on the shores of Normandy, and the fields beyond.  And others, who went down in the waters of the Pacific and the skies over Asia.

And freedom stands tall over one more monument:  this one.  This Capitol.  This living monument to the American people.

A people whose heroes live not only in the past, but all around us — defending hope, pride, and the American way.

They work in every trade.  They sacrifice to raise a family.  They care for our children at home.  They defend our flag abroad.  They are strong moms and brave kids.  They are firefighters, police officers, border agents, medics, and Marines.

But above all else, they are Americans.  And this Capitol, this city, and this Nation, belong to them.

Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them.

Americans fill the world with art and music.  They push the bounds of science and discovery.  And they forever remind us of what we should never forget:  The people dreamed this country. The people built this country.  And it is the people who are making America great again.

As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve.

As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.

Our families will thrive.

Our people will prosper.

And our Nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.

Thank you, and God bless America.

January 30, 2018.

President Donald J. Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

Special thanks to Donna and her team at Bella Donna’s restaurant for amazing experience http://chathamjournal.com/2018/01/02/special-thanks-donna-team-bella-donnas-restaurant-amazing-experience/ Tue, 02 Jan 2018 17:11:41 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=8242 by*protected email* Pittsboro, NC – I was coming up on my 15th wedding anniversary. Because it’s one of those milestone years I thought it should be more special than simply bringing home some flowers after my day at work. While…

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by*protected email*

Pittsboro, NC – I was coming up on my 15th wedding anniversary. Because it’s one of those milestone years I thought it should be more special than simply bringing home some flowers after my day at work. While I was vetting some ideas I thought about the things my wife would like, and one of the things that she absolutely loves is great Italian food. But we eat Italian all the time, I wanted it to be a bit of an event to cap off a bunch of other stuff I was planning for the day. I then had an idea and I called Donna at Bella Donna’s to see if we could pull it off. I honestly thought she was going to tell me to go take a long walk off a short pier. My idea was simple, a table in the kitchen like I had seen at really high-end places in Miami and New York but but one that neither myself nor my wife had ever experienced.

Donna knew exactly what I was talking about, she called it a chef’s table. Without batting an eye she said she’d do it.  After confirming the day and time I left the rest of it up to her as I had a ton of other things I had planned that I needed to work through.

Donna did not disappoint! When we walked in in the corner of her kitchen was one of the dining room tables perfectly set up for a meal for two. Perched above the table on a shelf that probably holds dishes or some other kitchen supplies, she had set up a little speaker playing Italian music. The table was set up theater style with both of us facing the same direction looking out at the stove and pasta preparation areas.

The food was great as it always is at Bella Donna’s. What I had never known before was how much work and care goes into every meal. Every single strand of pasta for every plate is hand-spun fresh. I know, we were sitting right by the machine and it got used often.  There were constant checks by Donna over the quality of the food as it was being cooked.  In addition to our meal she brought samples of the different things that were on the menu for the evening. Some like the calamari that reminded me of my dad were  emotionally impactful beyond their great taste!

I don’t know if this is going to become a regular offering at Bella Donna’s, but I can say that the experience was one we will treasure for the rest of our lives.

If there is any regret to the evening, it’s that because it was the first time, Donna was on her best behavior. That means I got a lot less shouting in the kitchen than I thought I would. Who knows, maybe Donna will feel comfortable enough with customers in the kitchen that by my 20th that she’ll really let loose when the pasta primavera isn’t prepared just right! 🙂

Bella Donna Italian Restaurant

Address: 440 East St, Pittsboro, NC 27312

Phone: +1-919-545-0900

Hours: 11:00am-2:00pm, 4:00pm-10:00pm

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The burning bowl http://chathamjournal.com/2018/01/02/the-burning-bowl/ Tue, 02 Jan 2018 16:14:09 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=8239 by *protected email* Pittsboro, NC – Something new to me. I was invited to a ‘burning bowl’ yesterday, New Year’s Eve. I had never heard of this before. There is a big open pit, bowl, area with a blazing fire…

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by *protected email*

Pittsboro, NC – Something new to me. I was invited to a ‘burning bowl’ yesterday, New Year’s Eve. I had never heard of this before. There is a big open pit, bowl, area with a blazing fire – outdoors. Those gathered around write on a piece of paper some problem, situation, etc, that they would like to banish from their mind for the coming new year. Things you just want to go away. You toss that piece of paper in the fire and it is consumed. It does something mentally.

I really got into it. Early in the morning, long before the event, I cut apart a big advertising paper i had found in the mail box. Strips about 3″ by 8″- With a big broad point black marking pen I lavishly wrote on those papers things that i wanted to disappear, banish or fade away. Out of my mind. Can’t be bothered with that mental baggage any more.

The words came quickly. An unsteady hand scrolled “War,” “Sore Arm,” “Leg Pain,” “Car Problems,” “Computer Problems,” “Poor internet service,” “Expensive internet service,” “Drought,” “Cold Weather,” “Climate Change,” “Bullying,” “Terrorism,” “Racial and Religious Bias,” “Murder.,” There were other I didn’t read aloud, more personal, that I just tossed into the flames. But I knew and kept the faith.

I read many of mine aloud as I made a ball out of each long piece of paper. Tossing it in the fire was a release. Many approval comments from those gathered around. Don’t know why, but I had more to burn than anyone else. There were other I didn’t read aloud, more personal, that I just tossed into the flames. But I knew.

This year is gonna be a better year; you better know it.

NOTE: Don’t try this at home unless you have a fire extinguisher and a proper burning bowl and someone with you in case of an emergency.

The burning bowl appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

I’m in the money. Had collards and black-eyed peas on New Year’s day. http://chathamjournal.com/2018/01/02/im-money-collards-black-eyed-peas-new-years-day/ Tue, 02 Jan 2018 15:20:27 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=8223 By *protected email* Pittsboro, NC – Tradition has it that if you eat collards and black-eyed peas on New Year’s day, it will bring you wealth. Collards are the green dollars and peas are the  small change. As usual, I…

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By *protected email*

Pittsboro, NC – Tradition has it that if you eat collards and black-eyed peas on New Year’s day, it will bring you wealth. Collards are the green dollars and peas are the  small change. As usual, I didn’t have a lot of collards and lots of peas.  Had never  cooked them in the same pot before. But in this case, it saved time and propane.

collards and black eyed peasI cooked both in a pressure cooker.

The peas I soaked over night with fresh garlic, garlic powder, salt. The collards were a little old, but still usable. Lately I have have a problem with the peas not tasting salty enough when cooked. Cooked in salt seems better tasting, to me, than fresh salt. Also, I used to cook the peas for nine minutes, but lately that doesn’t seem to be enough. Twelve minutes did the trick. Had them for breakfast.

For lunch i had collards, black eyed peas, cornbread and butter milk. Nothing could be finer. A poor person meal fit for a king.

I bought another bag of black eyed peas. So I will be getting small change for a long while now.


N.A. Booko lives and writes in Chatham County and frequently blabs on the Chatham Chatlist about cooking, gardening and blabbing.

I’m in the money. Had collards and black-eyed peas on New Year’s day. appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

Priestess of All That Is Right With The Left, has absolved any liberals, leftists, socialists, et al for attacking Goodnight Mark http://chathamjournal.com/2017/11/13/priestess-right-left-absolved-liberals-leftists-socialists-et-al-attacking-goodnight-mark/ Tue, 14 Nov 2017 04:06:59 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=8126 by *protected email* Pittsboro, NC – Sine ecclesiam Dei. I am so relieved that the priestess of All That Is Right With The Left, has absolved any liberals, leftists, socialists, or other for attacking Goodnight Mark for his views. Thus…

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by *protected email*

Pittsboro, NC – Sine ecclesiam Dei. I am so relieved that the priestess of All That Is Right With The Left, has absolved any liberals, leftists, socialists, or other for attacking Goodnight Mark for his views. Thus is the self absorbed universe of that grouping who believe that censorship, violent criticism, destruction of property, name calling and obfuscation of fact and reality are fair game for leading the lemmings.

These are the same who believe that the grand cathedral which Lot thought to be acceptable is also OK with them.

With a deft turn of phrase, the author tried to turn fault to the opposition camp and say that theft, diversion and lies were shared activities in the bipolar campaign of election.

I do wish to refer to fact, which is stranger in that camp. The word “hate” was first pronounced by the Left. Violence is executed by the Left (ANTIFA) and at public events. Theft of campaign items/signs would not be a normal conservative tactic because the Right respects private property. But Leftists have been known to perform certain acts on themselves to make the crime appear to have been committed by their opposition. All that needs to be cited for proof is the behavior of the liberals and Leftists at rallies and riots since January 20, 2017.

A word of caution: stop being the puppet of a well orchestrated incitement to riot and terror, perpetrated by an evil man who pays for the disruption of our society. At some point, all this evil will bring an ugly conflict, and you will be called to war for nothing that is worth it. The illusion of the fight for principles that evaporate when submitted to the light of reason, social benefit, and human cost. The juvenile excitement of hormonal pique will dissolve in shame and disappointment. The shrill screams of crisis and critical cadence will silence at the dawn of awareness.

Recall what Hillary said, “Christians must change their beliefs.” And worship what, I ask? Or who?

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Ninety-five percent of what we perceive as hunger is thirst http://chathamjournal.com/2017/11/13/95-of-what-we-perceive-as-hunger-is-thirst/ Tue, 14 Nov 2017 03:45:47 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=8114 by *protected email* Siler City, NC – 95% of what we perceive as hunger is thirst. Hunger is a temporary phenomenon that passes in a couple of hours. Our foods are so easy to eat that if we eat to…

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by *protected email*

Siler City, NC – 95% of what we perceive as hunger is thirst. Hunger is a temporary phenomenon that passes in a couple of hours. Our foods are so easy to eat that if we eat to satisfy “hunger” we become fat and have our obesity epidemic. Our stomachs may be full, but our mouth is still “hungry”.  Let’s change the conversation.

Hunger vs ThirstOur real problem is food insecurity and malnutrition, both often occurring in the obese.

Real hunger is what was experienced in prison camps; I think particularly or the persons in Manila, Philippines during WW II; that unrelenting chronic hunger that includes malnutrition and wasting away to skin and bones.

Let us all support Beth and the CORA food pantry with a war on food insecurity and malnutrition and obesity. More veggies and protein and less cheap fat and starches, especially the starches/sugars that spike insulin and actually stimulate appetite.

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Transcript: Kelly defends President Trump’s handling of call to soldier’s widow http://chathamjournal.com/2017/10/19/transcript-kelly-defends-president-trumps-handling-call-soldiers-widow/ Fri, 20 Oct 2017 03:45:14 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=8104 Washington, DC – White House chief of staff John F. Kelly delivered an emotional statement on Thursday in the White House briefing room, defending President Trump’s phone call to the widow of a slain U.S. serviceman and responding to criticism…

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Washington, DC – White House chief of staff John F. Kelly delivered an emotional statement on Thursday in the White House briefing room, defending President Trump’s phone call to the widow of a slain U.S. serviceman and responding to criticism from Representative Frederica S. Wilson, Democrat of Florida.

The following is a transcript of those remarks, as prepared by the White House.

JOHN F. KELLY, White House chief of staff: Well, thanks a lot. And it is a more serious note, so I just wanted to perhaps make more of a statement than an — give more of an explanation in what amounts to be a traditional press interaction.

Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our Coast Guardsmen in combat. So let me tell you what happens:

Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud, puts them on a helicopter as a routine, and sends them home. Their first stop along the way is when they’re packed in ice, typically at the airhead. And then they’re flown to, usually, Europe where they’re then packed in ice again and flown to Dover Air Force Base, where Dover takes care of the remains, embalms them, meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the medals that they’ve earned, the emblems of their service, and then puts them on another airplane linked up with a casualty officer escort that takes them home.

A very, very good movie to watch, if you haven’t ever seen it, is “Taking Chance,” where this is done in a movie — HBO setting. Chance Phelps was killed under my command right next to me, and it’s worth seeing that if you’ve never seen it.


So that’s the process. While that’s happening, a casualty officer typically goes to the home very early in the morning and waits for the first lights to come on. And then he knocks on the door; typically a mom and dad will answer, a wife. And if there is a wife, this is happening in two different places; if the parents are divorced, three different places. And the casualty officer proceeds to break the heart of a family member and stays with that family until — well, for a long, long time, even after the internment. So that’s what happens.

Who are these young men and women? They are the best 1 percent this country produces. Most of you, as Americans, don’t know them. Many of you don’t know anyone who knows any one of them. But they are the very best this country produces, and they volunteer to protect our country when there’s nothing in our country anymore that seems to suggest that selfless service to the nation is not only appropriate, but required. But that’s all right.

Who writes letters to the families? Typically, the company commander — in my case, as a Marine — the company commander, battalion commander, regimental commander, division commander, Secretary of Defense, typically the service chief, commandant of the Marine Corps, and the President typically writes a letter.

Typically, the only phone calls a family receives are the most important phone calls they could imagine, and that is from their buddies. In my case, hours after my son was killed, his friends were calling us from Afghanistan, telling us what a great guy he was. Those are the only phone calls that really mattered.

And yeah, the letters count, to a degree, but there’s not much that really can take the edge off what a family member is going through.

So some Presidents have elected to call. All Presidents, I believe, have elected to send letters. If you elect to call a family like this, it is about the most difficult thing you could imagine. There’s no perfect way to make that phone call.

When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it because it’s not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to. It’s nice to do, in my opinion, in any event.

He asked me about previous Presidents, and I said, I can tell you that President Obama, who was my Commander-in-Chief when I was on active duty, did not call my family. That was not a criticism. That was just to simply say, I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing. I don’t believe President Bush called in all cases. I don’t believe any President, particularly when the casualty rates are very, very high — that Presidents call. But I believe they all write.

So when I gave that explanation to our President three days ago, he elected to make phone calls in the cases of four young men who we lost in Niger at the earlier part of this month. But then he said, how do you make these calls? If you’re not in the family, if you’ve never worn the uniform, if you’ve never been in combat, you can’t even imagine how to make that call. I think he very bravely does make those calls.

The call in question that he made yesterday — or day before yesterday now — were to four family members, the four fallen. And remember, there’s a next-of-kin designated by the individual. If he’s married, that’s typically the spouse. If he’s not married, that’s typically the parents unless the parents are divorced, and then he selects one of them. If he didn’t get along with his parents, he’ll select a sibling. But the point is, the phone call is made to the next-of-kin only if the next-of-kin agrees to take the phone call. Sometimes they don’t.

So a pre-call is made: The President of the United States or the commandant of the Marine Corps, or someone would like to call, will you accept the call? And typically, they all accept the call.

So he called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way that he could. And he said to me, what do I say? I said to him, sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families.

Well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.

That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day. I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning, and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing. A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the President of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion — that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero, he knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist; he enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.

That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted.

It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.

Gold Star families, I think that left in the convention over the summer. But I just thought — the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that that might be sacred.

And when I listened to this woman and what she was saying, and what she was doing on TV, the only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go and walk among the finest men and women on this Earth. And you can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery. I went over there for an hour-and-a-half, walked among the stones, some of whom I put there because they were doing what I told them to do when they were killed.

I’ll end with this: In October — April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 — a guy by the name of Grogan and Duke. Grogan almost retired, 53 years old; Duke, I think less than a year on the job.

Anyways, they got in a gunfight and they were killed. Three other FBI agents were there, were wounded, and now retired. So we go down — Jim Comey gave an absolutely brilliant memorial speech to those fallen men and to all of the men and women of the FBI who serve our country so well, and law enforcement so well.

There were family members there. Some of the children that were there were three or four years old when their dads were killed on that street in Miami-Dade. Three of the men that survived the fight were there, and gave a rendition of how brave those men were and how they gave their lives.

And a congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.

But, you know, none of us went to the press and criticized. None of us stood up and were appalled. We just said, O.K., fine.

So I still hope, as you write your stories, and I appeal to America, that let’s not let this maybe last thing that’s held sacred in our society — a young man, young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country — let’s try to somehow keep that sacred. But it eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of Congress.

So I’m willing to take a question or two on this topic. Let me ask you this: Is anyone here a Gold Star parent or sibling? Does anyone here know a Gold Star parent or sibling?

O.K., you get the question.

Q Well, thank you, General Kelly. First of all, we have a great deal of respect — Semper Fi — for everything that you’ve ever done. But if we could take this a bit further. Why were they in Niger? We were told they weren’t in armored vehicles and there was no air cover. So what are the specifics about this particular incident? And why were we there? And why are we there?

GENERAL KELLY: Well, I would start by saying there is an investigation. Let me back up and say, the fact of the matter is, young men and women that wear our uniform are deployed around the world and there are tens of thousands, near the DMZ in North Korea [sic], in Okinawa, waiting to go — in South Korea — in Okinawa, ready to go. All over the United States, training, ready to go. They’re all over Latin America. Down there, they do mostly drug and addiction, working with our partners — our great partners — the Colombians, the Central Americans, the Mexicans.

You know, there’s thousands. My own son, right now, back in the fight for his fifth tour against ISIS. There’s thousands of them in Europe acting as a deterrent. And they’re throughout Africa. And they’re doing the nation’s work there, and not making a lot of money, by the way, doing it. They love what they do.

So why were they there? They’re there working with partners, local — all across Africa — in this case, Niger — working with partners, teaching them how to be better soldiers; teaching them how to respect human rights; teaching them how to fight ISIS so that we don’t have to send our soldiers and Marines there in their thousands. That’s what they were doing there.

Now, there is an investigation. There’s always an — unless it’s a very, very conventional death in a conventional war, there’s always an investigation. Of course, that operation is conducted by AFRICOM that, of course, works directly for the Secretary of Defense.

There is a — and I talked to Jim Mattis this morning. I think he made statements this afternoon. There’s an investigation ongoing. An investigation doesn’t mean anything was wrong. An investigation doesn’t mean people’s heads are going to roll. The fact is they need to find out what happened and why it happened.

But at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, you have to understand that these young people — sometimes old guys — put on the uniform, go to where we send them to protect our country. Sometimes they go in large numbers to invade Iraq and invade Afghanistan. Sometimes they’re working in small units, working with our partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, helping them be better.

But at the end of the day, they’re helping those partners be better at fighting ISIS in North Africa to protect our country so that we don’t have to send large numbers of troops.

Any other — someone who knows a Gold Star fallen person.


Q General, thank you for being here today and thank you for your service and for your family’s sacrifice. There has been some talk about the timetable of the release of the statement about the — I think at that point it was three soldiers who were killed in Niger. Can you walk us through the timetable of the release of that information? And what part did the fact that a beacon was pinging during that time have to do with the release of the statement? And were you concerned that divulging information early might jeopardize the soldiers’ attempt to be (inaudible)?

GENERAL KELLY: First of all, that’s a — you know, we are at the highest level of the U.S. government. The people that will answer those questions will be the people at the other end of the military pyramid.

I’m sure the Special Forces group is conducting it. I know they’re conducting an investigation. That investigation, of course, under the auspices of AFRICOM, ultimately will go to the Pentagon. I’ve read the same stories you have. I actually know a lot more than I’m letting on, but I’m not going to tell you.

There is an investigation being done. But as I say, the men and women of our country that are serving all around the world — I mean, what the hell is my son doing back in the fight? He’s back in the fight because — working with Iraqi soldiers who are infinitely better than they were a few years ago to take ISIS on directly so that we don’t have to do it. Small numbers of Marines where he is working alongside those guys. That’s why they’re out there, whether it’s Niger, Iraq, or whatever. We don’t want to send tens of thousands of American soldiers and Marines, in particular, to go fight.

I’ll take one more, but it’s got to be from someone who knows — all right.

Q General, when you talk about Niger, sir, what does your intelligence tell you about the Russian connection with them? And the stories that are coming out now, they’re —

GENERAL KELLY: I have no knowledge of any Russian connection, but I was not, in my position, to know that. That’s a question for NORTHCOM or for — not NORTHCOM — for AFRICOM or DOD.

Thanks very much, everybody.

As I walk off the stage, understand there’s tens of thousands of American kids, mostly, doing their nation’s bidding all around the world. They don’t have to be in uniform. You know, when I was a kid, every man in my life was a veteran — World War II, Korea, and there was the draft. These young people today, they don’t do it for any other reason than their selfless — sense of selfless devotion to this great nation.

We don’t look down upon those of you who that haven’t served. In fact, in a way we’re a little bit sorry because you’ll have never have experienced the wonderful joy you get in your heart when you do the kinds of things our service men and women do — not for any other reason than they love this country. So just think of that.

And I do appreciate your time. Take care.

Transcript: Kelly defends President Trump’s handling of call to soldier’s widow appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

Recent changes in the Chatham tax department policy http://chathamjournal.com/2017/09/19/recent-changes-chatham-tax-department-policy/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:50:27 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7996 by Tom Glendinning Pittsboro, NC – This article will explain some recent changes in tax procedures, collection targets, and general strategy. These explanations are not definitive or necessarily written policy. They are derived form conversations with the Tax Collector and…

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Recent changes in the Chatham tax department policy appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

by Tom Glendinning

Pittsboro, NC – This article will explain some recent changes in tax procedures, collection targets, and general strategy. These explanations are not definitive or necessarily written policy. They are derived form conversations with the Tax Collector and the Tax Supervisor. Some comparisons with other counties are made.

Chatham County has been in the middle of North Carolina counties in tax base value, tax rate, and better than average in collection rate history. To my knowledge, there has not been a hostile departmental collection environment or relationship between tax office and taxpayers. Most personnel in department history have been friendly, accommodating, flexible, and understanding. A reasonable and functional relationship existed. In 2000-2001, the department took on the responsibility of performing data collection in-house for the whole county during the revaluation. This reval produced a sound record of values for real estate. Since 2001, adjustments in value were made during revaluation. Collection rates have been 94%, 95%, 96%, for many years under the previous tax collector, who retired recently. These rates are high among all counties in the state. Regularly, at board of commissioner meetings, a small portion of uncollected taxes are dismissed, written off. The dismissal is a long standing, common practice, based on recommendations from the department, which is familiar with every parcel, owner, and case.

From conversations with the tax collector and the tax supervisor, the author learned that the new collection rate target is one hundred percent (100%.) Cited as examples of this new rate are coastal counties with vacation and recreation properties. A partial survey will follow for comparison. A new position was created. It may provide insight into the departmental attitude. A “delinquent tax collection agent” is sought.

The tax supervisor for many years after Jim Spell, was Kim Horton. She was extremely competent in knowledge of tax law, procedures, and properties. Ms Horton led the in-house revaluation of 1999-2001, lending tax expertise to the procedure, new to the department. Four tax assessment specialists were hired to collect data on approximately 32,000 parcels of Chatham County. Residential properties were valued in-house. Commercial, industrial properties and land values were handled by outside consultants. Data entry teams updated computer records. Review of appeals was performed in 2001.

Since western Chatham had not been revalued often, the largest value increase was felt there. The appeal rate began at twenty percent. After in-house adjustments and conferences, it settled at ten percent, still a high rate. These appeals were adjusted or went before the Board of Equalization and Review. The process, though long, arduous, and expensive, laid the foundation for smoother, future revaluations.

One of the prejudicial agendas was against newcomers (said northerners) and the “rich.” Though “rich” was never defined, it was bad because the speaker’s tone of voice changed while pronouncing the word. Since this prejudice was never publicized as the Democrats did during the recent presidential campaign, these people probably did not request appeals to property values. Northerners, in general, came from areas of high property tax and valuation. So tax bills in Chatham must have seemed like a relief even if property was appraised at high values. The realtors, the builders, and the tax departments all gained in that ruse.

The fault overall in the county process which would have produced more accuracy, was its response during the 2008 market crash and subsequent revaluation in 2009-10. The real estate market fell in most places between twenty-five percent (25%) and fifty percent (50%.) While Chatham was still a retirement and bedroom target community, its values did fall or sales stalled. The commissioners did not demand or accept reduced values and delayed the revaluation. While this delay helped real estate sales, it lacked honesty in stated values, and it saved staff work in entering new data twice. Eventually, values recovered, at a faster rate in Chatham and in North Carolina than in other parts of the country.

Chatham County has a new tax collector and a new tax supervisor. These offices do not come into public view often. They do, however, effect every one of us who own property and pay taxes. They and the department are regulated by state law which can be found in the publication “Machinery Act of North Carolina Annotated.” This manual changes very little and only by amendment to state statute.

Of interest in determining the source of directions, orders, and/or rules for these employees and the department is Article 25, Levy of Taxes and Presumption of Notice, page 277 of the 2015 edition:
“105-348. All interested persons charged with notice of taxes.
All persons who have or who may acquire any interest in any real or personal property that may be or may become subject to lien for taxes are hereby charged with notice that such property is or should be listed for taxation, that taxes are or may become a lien thereon, and that if taxes are not paid the proceedings allowed by law may be taken against such property. This notice shall be conclusively presumed, whether or not such persons have actual notice.
History. 1939, c. 310, s. 1705; 1971, c. 806, s. 1.
Case Notes Cited in Henderson v. Osteen …..(1976) & (1977)”
Note that in the underlined sentence, the word “may” is operative and prominent. The word used is “may,” not “shall.” In other words, forcible collection is a local option, but the state law does not require it. Therefore, if the use of force, or lien, is demanded, that action is ordered by the local county or town board.

The fault in this law is presumed notice. The presumption of notice places the burden of knowledge or awareness on the citizen, not the government. This flaw exists into many if not all levels of governments. It is a false assumption because we, the citizens, are assumed to have all legal, professional, regulatory training plus full knowledge of all laws written, published or passed at all levels of government. Lawyers ran the North Carolina legislature for decades, being the predominant profession elected to that office, house or senate and made sure that the state was held harmless. They have been and are paid to be knowledgeable of the law. The citizens can not be assumed educated in the matters, but, nonetheless, are held responsible.

With this foundation, the understanding of the true origin of local practice is probable. The replacement of the word “may” with the word “must” comes from either the board of commissioners, administrative or tax office staff. Any other reference or act to imply that proper notice has been satisfied is use of intimidation by deception.

The Chatham tax office uses the tool called “garnishment fee” liberally. A garnishment is a legal procedure making a claim on some source of income for the satisfaction of an amount owed, a debt. In this case, a thirty dollar ($30.00) fee is added to the taxpayer’s record, without notice and without filing official and legal garnishment papers.

In state documents describing garnishment, the process requires a court order to prosecute, and notice to the employer to collect. No more than twenty-five percent (25%) of disposable income, with limitations, may be taken.

The law governing the process is under rules of the Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. But the specialist there would not answer the questions below.

Question about garnishment (of wages or bank accounts.)
North Carolina Wage Garnishment Law
A court order is required for a party to garnishee wages. It allows collection of debt by taking 25% of disposable income from a paycheck, deducted and sent by the employer.
Does a local government agency require a court order to garnishee, or take, wages or a bank account in payment for delinquent taxes?
Or is it assumed the government is always just and may take as it pleases?
Should it require no court order, is the garnishment fee justified when no legal action was taken?

Fair questions, given that the tax department operates with the full weight of government behind it and may employ force. The only question is whether the taking of a fee without the costs associated with it is legal.

But that practice alone should not stop a liberal. A champion of liberal causes, of giving services, substance, and subsistence to the needy, as long as those expenses are paid with everyone else’s money. Beside the issue of maintaining the level of subsistence so that beneficiaries are living comfortably, the dependency created makes loyal voters among the poor. The true goal becomes obvious when the gift of a trinket swings an election. Within years, the novelty wears off, reality sets in, and the lack of sustainable, respectable living also becomes obvious. But, in the meantime, who paid for the luxuries? Who suffers the losses? Who is hurt by the increased cost taken out in taxation? The poor. The ones who were supposed to be helped by the welfare, gifts, bribes. What good is a phone now if the call goes unanswered by self serving officials?

A tax story
John D. Rockefeller spent summers in Cleveland, where he held large properties surrounding the city, old canal beds, waterways, now called the Emerald Necklace. He and his wife enjoyed the large estate, Forest Hills, overlooking East Cleveland with a view of Lake Erie. They were important contributors to the cultural life of the city and welcomed citizens. The Art Museum and Carnegie Hall, home of the Cleveland Symphony, benefited from their generosity, as did charities.

One summer, Mrs. Rockefeller became ill. She could not be moved to travel back home to New Jersey. They remained there while she was treated and recuperating. Ohio tax law allowed vacation residents to avoid property taxes if the time spent was less than six months. They remained more than six months.

The Cuyahoga County tax collector set his goal of collecting taxes on the Rockefellers’ properties. He resisted numerous pleas. Whether he collected or not is not clear. But Mr. John D. Rockefeller made sure that he would collect no more, and donated all his holdings to the city and county. Forest Hills is now a very nice subdivision. The mean property is a favorite park for resident of the heights. In winter, the long slope down to Euclid Avenue, US Route 20, hosts sledding when there is snow. All very nice, but the millions of dollars of taxes are missing from the county and city treasuries, thanks to the greedy and inflexible attitude of the tax collector and his employers, the county board of commissioners.

Tact and wisdom can pay large dividends. Lack of them can cause large losses.

Recent changes in the Chatham tax department policy appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

Chatham County Schools moving positively against testing grain http://chathamjournal.com/2017/09/11/chatham-county-schools-moving-positively-testing-grain/ Mon, 11 Sep 2017 17:47:00 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7982 Pittsboro, NC – Students in Chatham County Schools (CCS) either met or exceeded levels of expected growth at a rate that outpaced many districts in this state. The North Carolina State Board of Education on Sept. 7 released test scores…

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Chatham County Schools moving positively against testing grain appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.

Pittsboro, NC – Students in Chatham County Schools (CCS) either met or exceeded levels of expected growth at a rate that outpaced many districts in this state.

chatham county schools logoThe North Carolina State Board of Education on Sept. 7 released test scores showing that 73.7 percent of schools across the state met or exceeded growth expectations. CCS surpassed that with 83.3 percent of its schools meeting or exceeding growth expectations. The district has 18 schools, and six of them exceeded growth, while eight met growth.

“We’re absolutely moving in the right direction. There’s no doubt about that,” CCS Superintendent Dr. Derrick D. Jordan said. “We’re not at the finish line, but we sure can see it.”

The district also outperformed the state in reading and math proficiency at every grade level and made improvements in many areas as a result of focused instructional strategies and interventions.

Action points aimed at improving instruction throughout CCS have been in place for several years. Those strategies include CCS leaders visiting classrooms at schools that have experienced instructional challenges. During the visits, leaders observe, assess and develop support plans for the schools. Those plans have included tailored professional development for teachers, and there’s been a focus on data-driven instruction and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support.

CCS highlights from the 2016-17 statewide accountability data:

  • CCS’ four-year graduation rate is 87.7 percent. The state average is 86.5 percent.

  • The district’s five-year graduation rate is 88.6 percent. The state average is 87.5 percent.

  • One of the criteria for measuring school districts is based on the number of students showing up for standardized testing, or Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO). In CCS, 94.9 percent of the schools met AMO.

  • The district’s overall performance composite increased for grade-level proficiency, as well as college- and career-ready scores.

  • The district generated overall increases in reading proficiency in grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8.

  • Each grade level in CCS increased its math proficiency.

  • Composites for science proficiency were tested among CCS fifth-graders, eighth-graders and high school biology students. The district recorded increases for grade-level proficiency and college and career readiness.

  • There was an overall composite increase for end-of-course exams in high schools for both grade-level proficiency, as well as for college- and career-ready scores.

  • Each CCS school either maintained or improved its performance grade. Two schools improved by a full letter grade, with Silk Hope School earning a B and Siler City Elementary School moving to a C.

  • The district outperformed the state in the following areas: reading and math proficiency for all tested grade levels, overall performance composite, AMO participation, reading composite, math composite, ACT composite, Workeys composite, four-year graduation rate and five-year graduation rate.

A full report of CCS’ accountability results is at chatham.schoolwires.net/Page/20912. The Chatham County Board of Education will discuss the results during its Sept. 11 meeting at the historic courthouse in downtown Pittsboro.

A full report of statewide accountability results are at www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/reporting/.

Chatham County Schools moving positively against testing grain appeared first on Chatham Journal Newspaper.