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Road crewsThere was a great cartoon in the New Yorker magazine a couple of years back in which a man whose house is on fire stands next to it with a bucket in his hand, waving away arriving firefighters and saying “No thanks–I’m a libertarian.” As North Carolina endures another major winter storm today and tomorrow, it’ll be interesting to see how many conservative, anti-government Tea Partiers have such a thing to say about the public services and structures that will save lives, bind our society together and expedite recovery.

The guess here is the number will be very small. When it comes to natural disasters, even the far right seems to forget its hate of government and all things public — if only temporarily. For some reason, all of the “government = slavery” talk and rants about monstrous commie plots seems to go by the wayside when roads need to be plowed and basic safety and utilities need to be delivered or made possible. Who wants to listen to Limbaugh when there’s a big snowstorm blowing?

While it would be tempting, however, to attack and deride anti-government folks for their hypocrisy at such a moment, we would all do better over the coming days to simply welcome them back into the communal fold. So hang in there, stay warm and keep an eye on your neighbors — whatever their political beliefs. Maybe just maybe, the experience of coming together during a crisis will even remind a few  of our conservative fellow citizens that society fares much better when it hangs together on warm and sunny days too.

This was released today…

An open letter to Governor McCrory from local elected officials opposed to sweeping restrictions on women’s health

July 25, 2013 

The Honorable Pat McCrory
Office of the Governor
State of North Carolina 

Dear Governor McCrory,

As municipal and county elected officials, we write to oppose SB353, the omnibus abortion bill titled Health and Safety Law Changes.

SB 353 is not only an intrusion into the deeply personal and private health care decisions North Carolina women and their families face, but also an intrusion into the affairs of local governments who want to ensure that health plans offered to their employees, to the extent possible, cover their health care needs. Read More

It doesn’t happen often, so relish the chance to say the following: Rick Martinez, the arch-conservative columnist for Raleigh’s News & Observer is right — or, at least , mostly.  

Martinez’ column this morning rightfully takes the General Assembly to task for its absurd meddling in the business of local governments – most notably the ridiculous plans to rig the elections for the Wake County School Board and cancel the Dix Park deal.  

While the column is far from perfect — Martinez slices the baloney too thin and attempts to distiguish between the election rigging plan and the equally absurd effort to give Wake Commissioners control over school facilities and also includes inaccurate digs at the current school board’s policies and the substance of the Dix deal — it’s on the money on the basic premise.

Let’s hope his friends on the far right aren’t too drunk with power to pay attention.

It was one of the many great ironies associated with controversy surrounding the issue of fracking in North Carolina that so-called conservatives opposed efforts during the 2012 legislative session to include stronger protections for landowners.

As you may recall, it was mostly conservative supporters of the fracking industry who opposed efforts to include language in fracking legislation that would have made it easier for private landowners to avoid the phenomenon known as “forced pooling” (i.e. the notion that landowners can be forced to enter into leases to sell their gas rights). Mind you, many of these same people are some of the most ardent supporters of “property rights” when it comes to things like municipal annexation.

Now comes word from Pennsylvania of a battle in which the fracking industry is butting up against another traditionally conservative ideal: local control. Read More

The tide of anti-tax sentiment may finally be ebbing here in North Carolina.

Voters in six North Carolina counties went to the polls this year to vote on increasing the local sales tax rate to support public investments in education, economic development, and transit.  In all six cases, voters approved adding a quarter-cent or more to the local sales tax rate.

Last night, voters in four North Carolina counties – Buncombe, Durham, Montgomery, and Orange — approved raising the local sales tax rate.  Those approvals come on the heels of two successful sales tax referenda in Cabarrus and Halifax counties earlier this year.

These results contrast sharply with similar referenda in recent years.  Last year, amidst the rise of the anti-tax Tea Party, voters in 16 North Carolina counties rejected increasing the local sales tax to fund public investments.  Only in seven counties did voters approve adding a quarter-cent to the local sales tax, and none of those approvals came during the November election. Read More