In My Opinion – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com Experience the World of Chatham County, NC Thu, 11 Jan 2018 22:25:31 +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 In My Opinion – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com 32 32 Experience the World of Chatham County, NC In My Opinion – Chatham Journal Newspaper Experience the World of Chatham County, NC In My Opinion – Chatham Journal Newspaper http://chathamjournal.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://chathamjournal.com/category/opinion/opinion-opinion/ TV-G 63016882 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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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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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.

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We saw it coming—the polarization that has led bitter and bloody divisions http://chathamjournal.com/2017/07/08/polarization-that-has-led-bitter-bloody-divisions/ Sat, 08 Jul 2017 21:30:10 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7788 by Wallace Kaufman Newport, OR – We saw it coming—the polarization that has led bitter and bloody divisions. Well, a few saw it coming, many should have, and others just ignored it. An article in the current Smithsonian on public…

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by Wallace Kaufman

wallace kaufmanNewport, OR – We saw it coming—the polarization that has led bitter and bloody divisions. Well, a few saw it coming, many should have, and others just ignored it. An article in the current Smithsonian on public intellectuals made me curious about a 1968 debate between Canadian media analyst Marshall McLuhan and macho novelist Norman Mailer.

Mailer says, “Look Marshall, we’re both agreed that man is accelerating at an extraordinary rate into a super-technological world, if you will. And that the modes and methods by which men instruct themselves and are instructed are shifting in extraordinary . . . [interrupted]

Later McLuhan replies, “An electronic world retribalizes man, yes.” And even later McLuhan, leaving Mailer out of his depth, explains how the retribalization has begun and will proceed. “When you give people too much information, they resort to pattern recognition.”

What patterns stand out for us a half century later? The patterns that reinforce the goodness of our ideas and of the groups that want these ideas to govern the world. And we see patterns that confirm the existence of our enemies – people who want to run the world differently. In a world where so much is changing, and change is accelerating, these patterns are reassuring. At best they create cooperative communities energized for good causes. They also divide us into warring tribes.

Accelerating and radical change is very unsettling to anyone who wants to settle down with a comfortable perspective, a loyal family, a stable set of friends, a nurturing tribe, and a defensible faith. The threat of losing these cherished human comforts means that each group or tribe defends or asserts its identity with increasing ferocity. Discipline and peer pressure within a group become more and more important and dissent becomes more dangerous. The vilification and dehumanizing of outsiders also intensifies. The proof is everywhere.

It’s here in America and in the violence of the Middle East. At home Liberals demonize conservatives and Trump supporters as greedy, coldhearted, selfish, ignorant, and bigoted. Conservatives and Trump supporters demonize liberals as elitists, naïve ideologues, extortionists, big spenders of other people’s money, hypocrites, and bigots.

In the Middle East and Afghanistan enforced tribalism and demonizing outsiders has displaced millions as it fuels suicide bombers, slavery, and mass murder.

Both the good and the bad consequences of technology, of course, come in degrees. European and American divisions are not even close to civil war though people have been bloodied and bruised, and a few have been murdered.

Across the Atlantic the European Union is even more divided and close to falling apart after its first secession. America’s Brexit was the election of Donald Trump, though less of a Brexit than a Break-It.

The mainstream media gets a large share of the blame for the bitterness of our divisions. Politicized college faculties and curricula also bear a big burden. Fortunately, the Internet that serves the very social media and independent web sites that fuel divisive tribalism is also overflowing with new ideas, new patterns. We will get what we look for.

Wallace Kaufman is a former resident of Chatham County, NC.

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UNC law prof Gene Nichol pounds the table over Civil Rights Center http://chathamjournal.com/2017/04/18/unc-law-prof-gene-nichol-pounds-table-rights-center/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:54:40 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7580 by Jim Tynen Raleigh, NC – An old adage among lawyers says: If the law is on your side, argue the law. If the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If neither is on your side, pound the…

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Raleigh, NC – An old adage among lawyers says: If the law is on your side, argue the law. If the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If neither is on your side, pound the table.

Gene NicholUniversity of North Carolina law professor Gene Nichol seems to be in that camp, for he sure pounds the table a lot in a recent oped in the News & Observer. That is just one giveaway that he has a weak case in arguing against a proposed review of the practices of the UNC Law School’s Center for Civil Rights.

Several members of the UNC Board of Governors (BOG) say the center takes part in one-sided political advocacy and has been backing lawsuits for left-leaning causes.

So a BOG committee will study a proposed [emphases added] ban on litigation by the Center for Civil Rights, news reports indicate. Until that’s resolved, the center has been ordered not to launch any new lawsuits.

Nichol fulminated against this move in the recent oped. But the way he does it is full of telltale signs that his argument is flawed.

The first is that, instead of addressing the current issue, he waxes nostalgic.

“The law school in Chapel Hill is a storied institution,” he begins.

But can’t a storied institution make mistakes? Actually, his whole career as an activist is based on that assumption — that institutions are flawed, and must be corrected.

Nichol then goes into a couple more paragraphs about the links between the center and the late Julius L. Chambers, a civil rights icon. But of course this isn’t about Chambers, the center’s roots or its nobler intentions, but whether it has gone off track.

Only then does Nichol get into his real theme: “Today a couple of political lawyers on the Board of Governors seek to close the Civil Rights Center.”

He implies critics want to shut the center down. As already noted, however, the issue is about a committee studying a proposed ban on litigation by the center. While the issue is being studied, the BOG has bit the pause button on new lawsuits, which the kind of thing any organization will do when some aspect of its work is being reviewed.

Even those board members seeking this inquiry support having the center do research. The question revolves around whether an enterprise at a public university should be moonlighting as a left-wing advocacy group, which is the key question here.

Nichol gives away the game, however, when he calls the criticism “nakedly ideological.” He fumes that the critics would have been much less critical of the center if it had defended conservative views.

As in the famous detective story, however, here’s where the dog doesn’t bark. Why doesn’t Nichol at this point cite a case, one case, in which the Civil Rights Center defended conservative or even middle-of-the road causes? Why doesn’t he offer one example of the center defending someone’s Second Amendment rights, or battling for a small business against government bureaucrats, or fighting to ensure conservative students can express their views on UNC campuses? Why can’t he even hint that the center’s work is non-ideological?

That’s what a lawyer would do: he’d offer a counter-example to show the Civil Rights Center wasn’t ideological; he’d give at least one instance to counter the assumption that the center is in fact a left-wing advocacy group. Just one.

Nichol doesn’t. Which suggests he can’t. Which suggest that the key point is valid: the Civil Rights Center is not so much interested in education as in advocating for left-wing causes in the courts.

Nichol argues the Civil Rights Center’s litigation gives law students valuable experience, but there are plenty of ways law schools can do that, and we presume the UNC Law School already does.

Having such a center under the aegis of a publicly supported university raises valid questions. Having a committee study the issues – and that’s all that’s happening now – is a legitimate activity.

Pounding the table, shouting, and making irrelevant charges won’t change that.

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Triangle transit plans face red lights http://chathamjournal.com/2017/04/07/triangle-transit-plans-face-red-lights/ Fri, 07 Apr 2017 18:48:18 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7544 by Jim Tynen Raleigh, NC – Two recent news stories show how big transit plans are already causing financial strain in the Triangle, even before all the plans are drawn up. Previous Civitas articles and blog posts have explained why…

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Raleigh, NC – Two recent news stories show how big transit plans are already causing financial strain in the Triangle, even before all the plans are drawn up.

Previous Civitas articles and blog posts have explained why multi-billion-dollar Durham-Orange Light Rail Project is an outdated boondoggle. But it has rolled ahead, until now.

Durham and Orange counties are bickering over how to divide the local costs. Durham now pays 77 percent. But as the expenses come into focus, one Orange county commissioner is objecting to the plan, saying it could leave her county strapped for cash, and she wants Durham to pay more. According to a news report, over the next 45 years, Orange County could be paying up to $10 million each year to pay toward light rail, with very little margin for error.  For example, the county could have as little as $210,725 for extra costs in 2045. That’s peanuts for such a big project.

Worse, every transportation project in human history has cost more than expected.

So Orange County would be spending, say, $10 million a year for 45 years on light rail, and the county won’t have much cash to pay for cost overruns or emergencies when they happen, and they will.

Durham County officials, however, are balking at the idea of chipping in more, because Durham is also building a commuter rail line to Wake.

In short, the light-rail and commuter lines aren’t even built, yet already the finances are causing consternation in two counties. It’s not clear how it will shake out — but another development could be a bigger roadblock anyway.

That’s because, the news media report, President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would slash federal funds essential to these transit projects in the Triangle.

The president’s 2018 spending plan would reportedly only fund New Starts transportation projects that have already won grants from the Federal Transit Administration.

The regional transit planning agency, GoTriangle, has been counting on that federal money: about half the total of $2.5 billion for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project, plus about $440 million for the Wake-Durham commuter rail line, and $170 million for a Wake bus-rapid transit system.
The state has already capped how much it will fund transit projects. If the fed money falls through, Durham, Wake and Orange counties would be hard-pressed to pay for such grandiose visions.
A lot can happen. Members of Congress do like to bring that bacon home — especially since the final bills will come in after current legislators have retired. But these Triangle transit plans are now facing new obstacles. Travelers and taxpayers would be better served by other, more modern options.

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Minimum wage arriving on track one, jobs departing on track two http://chathamjournal.com/2017/04/05/higher-income-educated-people-know-lot-theory-little-poor/ Wed, 05 Apr 2017 21:19:37 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7523 by Wallace Kaufman Newport, Oregon – A few days ago I posted a note about the mayor of Baltimore vetoing a minimum wage bill of $15 an hour in order to save jobs for low income workers. She was choosing…

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by Wallace Kaufman

Newport, Oregon – A few days ago I posted a note about the mayor of Baltimore vetoing a minimum wage bill of $15 an hour in order to save jobs for low income workers. She was choosing results over symbolism. Yes, $15 an hour for all starters would be nice. Why not $20 or $25? (Isn’t the answer the same for $15?) Here is more evidence of what minimum wage proposals do.

$15 an hour unskilled labor is being replaced by robots. McDonald’s is installing self-order kiosks in all 14,000 of its U.S. restaurants. Wendy’s will have kiosks in almost 1,000 locations. (There go at least 15,000 jobs.)

The new Automats. When I was a kid we loved to go to the Automat where we could choose sandwiches and burgers from mailbox type cubbyholes. (Also subject of famous Jackie Gleason skits.) The new automat is Eatsa which has now opened 7 restaurants in 4 cities that embrace a $15 minimum wage—for humans, not robots.

Robot cooks. Miso Robotics makes Flippy, a robot that turns burgers and drops them on buns.

Minorities lose more. Two scholars at the Employment Policies Institute looked at who gets hurt most by minimum wage increases. “Minimum wage increases remain politically popular, which means they’ll continue to be debated at the state and federal level for years to come. But the debate on the employment consequences of the minimum wage has been settled conclusively, and this research proves that those consequences are felt most by young black males.” (The Mayor of Baltimore understands this.)

Anti-immigrant effect. Since immigrants are the main competitors for entry level jobs, reducing the number of jobs will increase pressure to deport illegal immigrants and reduce in-coming low skilled immigrants.

One can pick studies to show no effect, but the real evidence is there in the on-coming robot worker brigades.

During the past year’s campaigns many people used to post memes asking why low income Americans were supporting policies that would hurt them. One of those policies opposed raising the minimum wage. Based on the evidence, the higher income “educated” people posting these memes apparently know a lot about theory but little about being poor.

Wallace Kaufman is a former resident of Chatham County, NC.

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North Carolina facing shortage of affordable rental housing http://chathamjournal.com/2017/03/28/north-carolina-facing-shortage-affordable-rental-housing/ Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:50:14 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7472 Chapel Hill, NC – Many North Carolina communities are experiencing an affordable housing shortage, which is particularly severe for those who rent, says a new report published by researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS). The…

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Chapel Hill, NC – Many North Carolina communities are experiencing an affordable housing shortage, which is particularly severe for those who rent, says a new report published by researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS). The report, Extreme Housing Conditions in North Carolina, examines severe housing cost burden, overcrowding and substandard housing conditions among renters in the state. It identifies areas of the state with extreme housing needs, defined as having relatively high levels of at least two of the following three indicators: severe housing cost burden, overcrowding and the lack of complete kitchen and bathroom facilities.

The report, authored by William Rohe, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor and director of CURS, Todd Owen, CURS associate director and Sarah Kerns, CURS researcher, analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Census tracts with extreme housing conditions were found in 46 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in all regions of the state.
  • As of 2013, more than 377,000, or 28.2 percent, of the State’s rental households experienced severe cost burdens, were overcrowded or lacked critical facilities.
  • The number of severely cost-burdened households increased by 53,737 (or 22.5 percent) between 2008 and 2013.
  • In eight census tracts, over 60 percent of renter households were severely cost burdened, with the highest percentage being 77.4 percent in a Wake County tract.
  • The number of overcrowded households increased by 20,437, or 45.4 percent, between 2008 and 2013.
  • In six census tracts, over 30 percent of renter households were overcrowded, with the highest rate being 53 percent in a Wake County tract.

“The report’s findings indicate that additional efforts are needed to improve housing conditions, reduce overcrowding, and lessen the housing cost burdens of renters in North Carolina,” said Rohe. “Without decent and affordable housing, it is difficult for many families in the state to lead happy and productive lives.”

The housing problems described by the report also increase public health care costs and reliance on social support programs and lower productivity. The authors suggest that combined efforts of state and local governments are needed to reverse the negative trends in housing affordability and overcrowding and improve the quality of life and economic productivity of North Carolinians.

The full report can be read here.

In addition to the report, an interactive map of Extreme Housing Conditions in North Carolina can be found at bit.do/CURS_Housing.

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About the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS)

As part of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CURS is a multi-disciplinary research center focusing on issues and problems faced by our nation’s cities and regions. Created in 1957, the Center supports research activity and collaboration across campus through its Faculty Fellows program that draws on the expertise of over 90 faculty members from over 20 schools, departments, curricula, and research centers across the campus. The Center’s mission is to promote and support high-quality basic and applied research on planning, policy, and interdisciplinary social issues and challenges we face in urban, regional, and rural settings in North Carolina and around the world.

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One year after HB2 passed North Carolina economy is booming http://chathamjournal.com/2017/03/28/one-year-hb2-passed-north-carolina-economy-booming/ Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:45:46 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7451 Raleigh, NC – Despite dire predictions, one year after HB2 passed, the sky has not fallen and North Carolina remains a regional and national powerhouse. With a projected half-billion surplus and record-setting hotel occupancy and tourism, Governor Cooper and Democratic…

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Raleigh, NC – Despite dire predictions, one year after HB2 passed, the sky has not fallen and North Carolina remains a regional and national powerhouse. With a projected half-billion surplus and record-setting hotel occupancy and tourism, Governor Cooper and Democratic lawmakers remain committed to their script that HB2 is hurting the economy. That is a bit ironic and hypocritical, because it was Roy Cooper who was caught red-handed last spring recruiting CEO’s in Silicon Valley to boycott North Carolina and smear its reputation. Indeed, nearly all news reports advance his micro-economic narrative without considering all the facts.

HB2 law“If you look at the most extreme instances of economic impact, by the media and by the universities and the people who come out and say ‘This is the impact,’ that most extreme impact equates to one-tenth of 1 percent of our annual GDP,” said Lt Gov. Dan Forest. He shared these comments while testifying at a Texas Senate hearing.

Fact Check: Dan Forest is right! North Carolina’s economy and population is BOOMING and unemployment rates remaining unchanged from a year ago, HB2 has had no substantial economic impact here. All indicators point to the state’s economy as one of the healthiest in the nation! Just look at the rankings we have earned by the country’s leading business indicators:

  • #1 Fastest Growing Economy since 2013 (Politifact 2016)
  • #1 Lowest State & Local Business Taxes (Ernst & Young 2016)
  • #1 Governor’s Cup ranking for South Atlantic States (Site Selection 2017)
  • #2 Best Business Climate (Site Selection 2016)#2 Best State for Business (Forbes 2016)
  • #3 Best State for Business (Chief Executive 2016)
  • #4 Best Government Fiscal Stability (US News & World Report 2017)
  • #5 America’s Top States for Business (CNBC 2016)

Indicators across the state point to a promising trendline: When recognizing North Carolina 4th Best for new and expanded corporate facilities this month, Site Selection Magazine again cited capital investors’ very favorable outlook on the State’s workforce, climate and transportation and regulatory climates. In 2016, Wake County recorded the highest number of single family homes sold since 1994, and Charlotte’s Uptown continues to boom with five new hotels, eight mixed use towers, and four office towers under construction in addition to a massive $683 million Brooklyn Village redevelopment project. According to the just released Triangle Commercial Real Estate Conference the healthy trends in 2016 are poised to continue throughout 2017. All of these positive results are not exactly the bleak economic picture Governor Cooper and the news media like to paint.

Fact Check: Not one company doing business in the State before HB2 has pulled out of North Carolina because of HB2. In fact, it’s just the opposite, Bank of America, Apple, Google, Corning, CSX, Lance, LendingTree, Pepsi, Yokohama Tire, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals and over 289 other businesses expanded or reinvested here despite some of their CEOs voicing angsts over HB2. Former Commerce Secretary John Skvarla told the Observer in October, “HB2 hasn’t moved the needle one iota.” He’s right! Even when considering the most outrageous estimates produced by LGBTQ advocates, or the AP’s 3.7 Billion 12-year impact, the harm to NC’s economy has been less than .001 percent of our annual $550B economy.

 

HB2 is about privacy and safety. It is about ensuring that when your daughter, or your wife enter a bathroom, locker room or changing facility owned and operated by taxpayers, she can feel confident that her privacy and safety will not be violated, because biological men and sexual predators don’t have a legal right to access to those private spaces.

HB2 is also about promoting business and reducing regulations by assuring statewide consistency in laws relating to employment, contracting, and public accommodations. Historically the State, not cities and counties, has preferred to set laws related to commerce and public places, and a High Point University poll in February found 80% of state residents prefer this uniform approach.

When North Carolina passed HB2, it aligned itself with nondiscrimination laws in 28 other states and the federal government, hardly a bizarre or uncommon policy. More importantly, HB2 repealed a dangerous City of Charlotte ordinance mandating all private and public bathrooms and other private facilities like locker rooms and showers be opened to members of the opposite sex based on how an individual “identifies” their own sex. The now repealed Charlotte ordinance also halted overregulation of private businesses that would have caused frivolous lawsuits and violated conscience.

Multi-million dollar non-profit organizations like the NBA, the NCAA, and the ACC have tried to coerce North Carolina lawmakers to repeal HB2 by relocating games and threats of future boycotts to levy economic harm. These practices are questionable from a legal standpoint for nonprofits and end up hurting local athletes and sports fans. Apparently, their policy, as well as Governor Roy Cooper’s, would be to allow grown men to shower and use the bathroom with little girls and to force private business owners to choose between their family’s livelihoods or following their conscience.  Shame on them!

Disrupters and dissenters are still refusing to grapple with the reality that HB2 is law, much like those who refuse to accept Donald Trump as President. The economic success of North Carolina and the privacy, safety and conscience concerns of North Carolinians should make us all glad that our leaders are standing strongly behind HB2.  They should also make us question why Governor Cooper, the mainstream press, and sports organizations like the NCAA are still calling for a repeal of a common-sense, law most North Carolinas strongly support.

Founded in 2011, the N.C. Values Coalition is a non-partisan, statewide grassroots network of North Carolinians who support and advocate for pro-family positions.

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Sen. Bishop to seek protection for Gov. McCrory from rioters, even if Charlotte Observer thinks it’s a joke http://chathamjournal.com/2017/01/25/sen-bishop-seek-protection-gov-mccrory-rioters-even-charlotte-observer-thinks-joke/ Wed, 25 Jan 2017 22:12:33 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7222 Raleigh, NC – Who is Udai Basavaraj? Lines are being crossed, and I have been holding my tongue. Yesterday, however, one of the growing series of spectacles caught my attention like no other. It was a video article posted on…

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Raleigh, NC – Who is Udai Basavaraj?

Lines are being crossed, and I have been holding my tongue. Yesterday, however, one of the growing series of spectacles caught my attention like no other. It was a video article posted on the Charlotte Observer’s website showing the immediate past governor of North Carolina chased by a chanting mob down a blind alley in Washington, DC on Saturday.

The 3:35 video begins with former Gov. Pat McCrory bidding goodbye to TV commentator Lou Dobbs on a city sidewalk. The mob approaches him and begins chanting and shouting, “Shame on you… You’re a bigot and an a**hole… You’re not a man, you’re a coward.”

Gov. McCrory retreats calmly in the company of three women and Mr. Dobbs down an alley to a building entrance that is locked. As they wait to be admitted, mob continues to chant, “Shame.” Just after the one minute mark, the ringleader says, “We’ve got you now.”

Two more anxious minutes pass until uniformed Secret Service officers arrive and usher the mob away. The mob turns on them, shouting, “Shame on the cops, too.”

Ubiquitous leftist rioters are fond of shouting “Shame,” but invariably incapable of it.

Charlotte Obersever VideoDitto for the Charlotte Observer. The lede of its article is the breezy observation that “[l]ife following public service isn’t always easy when you’re known as the governor who signed [HB2].” Content with this revolting dose of schadenfreude, the one-time news organization credits Udai Basavaraj for the video, as if he’s a news photographer, and links to his Facebook account. But reports nothing about him.

Not for the first time, I have done the Observer’s work for it…

Basavaraj hails from Greensboro. His Gofundme pages beg $1,000 to attend Socialism 2016 in Chicago last July and two grand for buses to take members of the International Socialist Organization to Washington to protest President Trump’s inauguration.

In September, according to student newspaper The Carolinian, Basavaraj co-led an ISO informational meeting at UNCG where “socialists, Marxists, anarchists and those interested in learning about socialism gathered.” (The story did not note whether Basavaraj summarized the benefits of socialism for, say, Venezuela for the young people in attendance.)

Basavaraj’s cohort for the meeting was Juan Miranda, a socialist organizer, UNCG graduate assistant and fellow South Meck High alum, according to his Facebook page. Basavaraj’s Facebook post tagged Miranda as a participant in the mob that pinned McCrory against a building. One also wonders if the mob fell upon the former governor by coincidence or if they stalked him.

If Gov. McCrory were a former official of the District of Columbia, this incident might have been a crime punishable by five years in prison. D.C. Code § 22-851 (anyone who “by any threatening letter or communication, intimidates, . . . or retaliates against, or attempts to intimidate . . . or retaliate against” a current or former official “on account of the performance of [his or her] duties.”)

So should it be in North Carolina. This is dangerous. Jim Hunt, Bev Purdue and other governors never faced riotous mobs in their post-service, private lives, without personal security. If they had, the Observer of that day wouldn’t have laughed it off, which is contemptible.

When the General Assembly returns to Raleigh this week, I will introduce legislation to follow the lead of the District of Columbia and make it a crime to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against a present or former North Carolina official in the course of, or on account of, the performance of his or her duties.

And I will also urge my colleagues to take other appropriate steps to guarantee the personal safety of Gov. McCrory by all necessary means.

Because lines are being crossed.

Dan Bishop is the elected representative for District 39 of the North Carolina State Senate. For more information about Dan Bishop’s background and key policy goals, visit VoteDanBishop.com. To contact Sen. Bishop, email *protected email*.

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Voter Integrity Project of NC’s legislative goals for 2017 http://chathamjournal.com/2017/01/11/vips-legislative-goals-2017/ Wed, 11 Jan 2017 05:56:15 +0000 http://chathamjournal.com/?p=7121 By by Jay DeLancy and John Pizzo Raleigh, NC – After more than five years of research on election fraud in North Carolina, we recommend the Legislature enact a series of stand-alone bills to help restore public trust in North…

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By by Jay DeLancy and John Pizzo

Raleigh, NC – After more than five years of research on election fraud in North Carolina, we recommend the Legislature enact a series of stand-alone bills to help restore public trust in North Carolina’s electoral process with minimal impediment to voters. Below are a “beta version” of the laws we deem prudent to fight vote fraud while maintaining reasonable public access to the ballot box. (In this document, the newly created State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement will be abbreviated “SBE3.” County-level boards will be called “BOE.”)

Voter Integrity Project

  1. Get the Facts About Vote Fraud. Establish an Election Integrity Commission (similar in function to the Human Rights commissions and the Civil Rights Commissions); empower it to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s electoral and voting process, including (but not limited to) the following functions:
    1. Review all past criminal referrals from BOE for vote fraud prosecution to learn the facts and to inform the Legislature on the more obvious cases that prosecutors ignored for reasons beyond the case’s merits..
    2. Review all DMV, DHHS and DPS records to identify and investigate non-US citizen suffrage. By matching those government records with the voter rolls, the SBE3 will learn a more accurate number of non-US citizens who are active in North Carolina’s electoral process..
    3. Conduct public hearings across the state, accepting sworn evidence of suspected and actual cases of vote fraud, voter intimidation and observer abuse. Publicize these hearings enough to draw people in who witnessed such acts and who will testify to those acts under oath and to the best of their knowledge.
    4. Forward credible evidence to SBE3 Investigative Division and require SBE3 status tracking and reporting (back to Commission) on results. The current State Board of Elections has been derelict in reporting the numbers and types of criminal referrals they have made since 2013. This requirement needs to be codified, so that future election directors will recognize (and comply with) the requirement.
    5. Annually brief SBE3 and biennially brief NCGA on findings and recommendations. The Commission that studies election fraud for any length of time will learn facts that most elected officials only hear second-hand. Such facts are essential BEFORE the creation of more election laws.
    6. Allow Commissioners to serve as observers but not as paid BOE employees. Commissioners may be able to learn, first-hand, how observers get pushed around by polling officials; but putting Commissioners in paid positions (either as polling officials, County Board members, or as full-time county election employees) would bring into question the credibility of said Commissioners.
  2. Enact Passive Voter ID. Merge DMV facial imagery into electronic and printed polling books and require at least two election officials, not of the same party, to approve each voter’s imagery when registering and/or voting. These should be the color pictures that DMV takes for all forms of ID they issue. The electronic poll books would need to have the color imagery; but printed polling books could be black and white, as long as there is at least one electronic poll book on location that would have the color images. In the printed poll books, the voter’s image should be large enough (and detailed enough) that two polling officials, not of the same party, could agree that it’s the person attempting to vote. Additionally:
    1. Require any disputed or missing imagery to be allowed as provisional ballots and specify that such ballots would only be counted if either of these two conditions were met before the official canvass:
      1.  DMV becomes aware of their mistake and they correct (or updates) their record;
      2. The voter provides further evidence of their name, address and facial characteristics. A photo, taken by the polling official may be included in this provisional ballot packet, if the location is equipped with government-owned equipment (laptop or cell phone) capable of capturing such imagery.
    2. Require BOE to retain copies of any supporting evidence offered to authenticate voter’s eligibility. If no imagery capturing equipment is available at the polling location, allow 48 hours for the BOE to copy and return any documentation used by the voter. In cases of paychecks, polling officials may use personal cell phones as long as the image is shot with two witnesses, not of the same party. All such documentation (including age, citizenship status, residency, lack of felony convictions, and facial imagery) shall be scanned and kept in the voter’s record. Except for DOB and signature, all such imagery shall be publicly available for inspection and copying for off-site analysis. NCGS §163-275(13) already makes it a crime to fabricate such documents, but there is currently no way for an election official to retain the document long enough to determine it authenticity.
    3. Apply this section’s authentication rules to Same-Day Registration, address changes and to mail-in registrations who vote absentee without ever voting in-person.
    4. Assist or create a reimbursement fund for voters needing support documentation. In addition to free ID cards and free birth certificates, the state should also allow volunteers to transport such persons and (when documented) be allowed to receive mileage compensation. Lack of funds should not hamper a voter from obtaining a lawful ID card.
  3. Increase Vote Fraud Prosecution. Prosecution of vote fraud cases have been hampered (and undermined) by the fact that vote fraud is the lowest level of felony in the statutes, even a lower penalty than persons stealing pine straw, venus fly traps and ginseng.  Give District Attorneys greater latitude by increasing penalties. Also help citizens work around reluctant prosecutors by strengthening §163-278.28 for known cases of vote fraud. Specifically:
    1. Upgrade the maximum penalty for all Class I Felonies listed in NCGS §163 to Class G, making “conspiracy” to commit such crimes, a Class H felony; and “solicitation” to commit such crimes, a Class I felony.
    2. Expand plaintiff standing (§163-278.28) from “county” to “state”; allow SBE3 to select Special Prosecutor when the Superior Court orders the appointment thereof.
    3. Hold DA liable for petitioner’s legal expense if Special Prosecutor is appointed.
  4. Prevent (further) DMV Voter Registration Negligence. Reduce DMV staffing; reassign voter registration duties to newly created Election Registrar tenant billets at every DMV office and at DMV headquarters; assign Registrars’ hiring and training responsibilities to SBE3; give Registrars free access to DMV records for voter registration / verification purposes. [Note: while DMV is required, by federal law, to register voters, this agency has proven itself to be woefully incompetent in managing this task. As a result, NC is involved in litigation over their failure to transfer all registration data over to the BOE in time for the elections. They have also been documented to issue “Legal Presence” licenses to non-US citizens and then ask the same person if they want to register to vote. They need to be relieved of this job and it should be handled by trained election employees.]
  5. Enhance Citizen Voter List Maintenance. Require SBE3 to keep certain voter-related information in public view through the SBE3 website. Specifically:
    1. Enhance public website: allow voter search by entire street name and / or by specific house number and street; eliminate first-letter requirement in wildcard searches. The current State BOE has made it more difficult to locate prospective fraudulent voters (in the name of “privacy”) and has actively resisted requests to enable address searches, similar to the function VIP created on a public website. If voters could clearly determine the names of all other voters registered at their address and report when such a person no longer lives at that address, the state would save tens of thousands of dollars, spent sending mail to voters who no longer exist at that address. It would also enable the removal of voters fraudulently registering fictional voters to addresses at which they do not reside, a crime that has been documented as being committed by groups like ACORN and NCPIRG.
    2. Expand the definition of “prima facie evidence,” [§163-85(3)] to include affidavits from a resident, neighbor or property owner who claims such a voter does not reside at the voter’s stated address. Allow a statement from the owner of a property to suffice in allowing the local BOE to remove non-residents from the voter rolls. The usual laws against frivolously challenging a voter still applies.
    3. Retain and make public any evidence used by potential jurors disqualified for duty, per NCGS §9-3, to include the prospective juror’s name, address, age and reason DQ’d. (This is a resurrection of HB 100 from the 2015-2016 legislative session.)
  6. Mandate Interagency Cooperation. Require Clerks of Court to report all felony convictions and submit copies of undeliverable jury summons envelopes to BOE; require BOE to initiate confirmation process for any voters identified herein. Various county agencies get official mail returned to them as undeliverable, and this information could have an impact on the voter rolls. Currently, nobody is required to crosscheck that information with the BOE. This law would address that deficiency. Any such evidence should be treated as a piece of returned mail that was sent by the BOE and it should trigger a “confirmation” (and not a “verification”) mailing from the BOE.
  7. Confirm Domiciliary Abandonment.  Require Register of Deeds to report all death certificates issued and all deed transfers to the BOE; require BOE to initiate voter confirmation process for all deed grantors; create an optional form for voters to use at real estate closings that will inform local BOE of the seller’s future domiciliary intent. (Note: Current, but less efficient, law on felon and deceased voter list maintenance should remain in force, to help identify voters convicted—or who may have died—in another county.) This provision mirrors the above suggested reform, but applies it to another county agency.
  8. Maintain Accurate Voter Rolls. Require all NC colleges that receive state funding of any type (including tuition assistance grants) to assist election officials in voter list maintenance duties by reporting all students’ academic status, residence-hall (or off-campus) address and permanent home address, within the first month after start of each Fall and Spring semester; merge student’s home and campus records; expand law’s ban on non-residential registrations to include, ambiguous apartment addresses, campus post offices and US Post Offices. Colleges and universities are the primary culprit of providing non-residential addresses to election officials, but individual voters are also responsible. it is already against the law to use a non-residential address for voting purposes, but the proscription is toothless. Using a non-residential address should ALSO be a prima facie reason an election board should remove the voter from the rolls. NCGS §163-57(1)a says a person votes from “where he lays his head.”
  9. Enact Active Voter Registration. Just as several states require in email list confirmations, hold all new (and same-day) voter registrations in abeyance until the voter signs and returns a confirmation letter (at no expense to the voter); require BOE to remove any new voter registrations that are not confirmed in this manner and report mismatches to SBE3. Abolish the “verification” process, whereby a voter may throw away a letter from the BOE in order to be deemed “verified” as living at an address. Instead, require all new (or relocated) voters to sign a form and return it, at no cost to the voter, in order for the registration (or relocation) to be valid. Further, require election officials to compare the signed document with the original registration and report any anomalies to the BOE for criminal referral. Registering to vote should at least be as secure as it is to be added to some organization’s email list. Many states already require a “double-click” process, whereby the person wanting to be added to an email list must click a confirmation email, sent after the person requests being added. Registering to vote should also be this secure.

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The Voter Integrity Project of NC was founded in 2011 by Jay DeLancy and John Pizzo. Their mission was to ensure free and fair elections to all lawfully registered voters. Mr. Pizzo has more than 30 years private industry experience in the discipline of of quality engineering and holds a Six Sigma Black Belt. Mr. DeLancy is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, with military experience in both conventional and nuclear operations with advanced degree work in journalism, business and political communication. His past teaching assignments include Park College (KS), Bluefield College (VA), Tidewater Community College (VA), Liberty University, NC State University and Duke University,

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