Friday, September 30, 2005

Darn, I'm missing the caboose dedication and fireworks

this is an audio post - click to play

Forced annexation

There are some instances where annexation into a town is justified and appropriate. I just read about several properties that were annexed into a town where they were not part of the town, but the city limits surrounded that piece of property. Those properties were also enjoying the benefits of city services. I have been searching for a news story that I heard on TV or the radio about this situation, but can't find it.

People in Fayetteville, however, are getting hosed and are on the "opposite end of the spectrum", so to speak. Here is some commentary on the topic.

I don't want to see Selma ever treat potential citizens so poorly. That is one reason that I am running for Town Council. That is why I want to get involved in my community.

Photo image problems

I have been using Photobucket to host my jpeg files for this blog and some online message boards I belong to. It seems that some of the files are not loading and some are. I am not sure why. So, if you see blanks where photos should be, that is the reason.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

CORRECTION: Selma electrical rates already impacted

Selma buys its electricity from Progress Energy and retails it to citizens and businesses in town. I have been informed that since Selma is a WHOLESALE customer and not a retail customer, that our wholesale rate has already gone up, so we hopefully won't get another increase immediately. Thank you for that correction.

Utilities Commission Approves 4.4 Percent Electrical Rate Hike - Expect to see higher utility bills this winter. Progress Energy has received approval from the state Utilities Commission to raise electric rates by 4.4 percent for homes, 5.5 percent for commercial customers and 7.3 percent for industrial users. The increase is about half of what the company had originally sought. Progress Energy asked for the increase to pay for a sixty percent increase in the cost of coal, used at power plants, in the past 18 months. The rate increases take effect on October 1. The average homeowner will see an increase of about $3.73 a month.

Railroad Days - come out and see me there

30th Annual Selma Railroad Days This Weekend - Final preparations are being made for this weekends Railroad Days celebration. The thirtieth annual event is expected to draw thousands to Selma. Carnival rides begin Thursday, followed by a model train display and entertainment Friday evening at the Selma Train Depot. On Saturday, there will be a parade through downtown Selma, along with live entertainment, an antique car and tractor display, arts, crafts, food, and children’s events.
this is an audio post - click to play

Testing the audio blogger feature

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, September 26, 2005

Political corruption

I have a strong distaste for political corruption. I do not have a problem with groups helping candidates of their liking getting elected nor with campaign donations in general. That is freedom. I am for freedom of doing what you want with your money and influence. What I have a problem with is corruption when one is in office.

This morning, I saw an article on the "13 'Most Corrupt' in Congress". Yes, another national level article. However, if it can happen at the national level, it can happen at the local level. AND IT DOES. I have seen it with my own eyes.

The surprising thing about the list in the article is not that there are a lot of Republicans on the list. The surprising thing about the list is that the people who are not on the list. I expected certain Congressmen to be on the list, but they were not included. I found that interesting. Hey, we even have one Representative from North Carolina on the list.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Spending tax dollars on charity

Here is an interesting read on spending from the public trust for private matters of charity. I realize that I am running for town office and not federal government office. However the principles therein are much of what I have espoused for years.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

My new yard sign

I got my finished sign from my friend Dave last night. I put it up in my front yard early this afternoon. Here it is:

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Things that DON'T make Selma "A Charming Place to Be"

It is unfortunate that we do have to deal with crime in our little town. That is never a fun thing. Fortunately, we do have a police force that I expect to be competent. That is not to say that I do not see them in that manner. It merely means that I have an expectation as a citizen, tax payer, and hopefully, future town councilmember for them to be so. You should, as well.

I see in "The Selma News" that the town has hired a new police officer recently. I hope that the town has made a good hiring choice, which is part of that same expectation.

Here are two stories on today's WMPM web site that detract from Selma being "A Charming Place to Be". Unfortunately, fallen mankind will be just that.


Selma Man Stabbed, Seriously Wounded - One person was seriously injured Friday after being stabbed with a knife. The incident happened in the roadway on US301 in Selma around 11:00am. Antonio Darden was rushed to Johnston Memorial Hospital. Selma Police have a suspect in the case. Officers said the stabbing stemmed from an ongoing altercation between the victim and suspect.

Selma Man Charged With Sexual Assault Avoids Jail Time - A Selma man charged two years ago with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2000 will avoid prison time. Ronnie Darius Williams, 59, of Branch Chapel Church Road, had originally been charged with statutory rape, statutory sexual offense, crimes against nature and taking indecent liberties with a child. Williams pled no contest to one count of third-degree sexual exploitation. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation, ordered to register as a sex offender, and have no contact with anyone under 18 without adult supervision.

Campaign financing

I have been working on getting the final preparations for the election campaign. I am prepared to spend my own money on the campaign for media exposure. I will be limited by my spare income, however. I have done some design, preparations, and flyer distribution. I would like to do more than what my personal budget allows. If you would like to help, you are most welcome to do so. Any campaign donation, large or small would be welcome.

Still left on the "drawing board" are radio ads for WMPM, news print ads in the local papers, and perhaps a marquis ad. I also plan on a direct mailer to as many likely voters as I can afford.

You can contact me at 965-9695, at 505 West Anderson Street, or by the email link on the page to the right. There is a "donate" button on the right, as well.

Thank you for your consideration. I hope to represent you in a responsible and honorable manner.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More on eminent domain

Here is a blog entry at The John Locke Foundation on the topic. What a scary way of thinking.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A moment to say thanks

I know that this is a blog about my town council race and a forum for news and opinion. However, I did want to take a moment to give thanks (and a plug)to a good friend of mine who has been helping me behind the scenes on the campaign. My good friend, Dave Tuttle has volunteered to assist me in the manufacturing of some signs for my pick up truck and my front yard. I also will have one more 4 foot by 4 foot wood sign to place later. Dave is also going to lend me his tent and table for my booth at Railroad Days.

Dave volunteered to go with me to puchase the materials, build the signage, paint, and professionally letter the signs for me. He has also taken some time to help with taking some campaign flyers to pass out. He lives in northern Johnston County, not even in Selma. However, he has been a big help to me. Dave has been a close friend of mine for over a dozen years. Thanks, Dave.

Now for the plugs...if you need someone to make a sign for you, call Dave and tell him that I referred you. Dave runs the clothes closet and food bank at his church, Patetown Church of God. That clothing bank is VERY active in the community and serves folks from other counties, as well. They have helped students with school supplies, families that have been burned out of their homes, and with relocated Hurricane Katrina victims. I have had the benefit of being able to refer many people to him that have been able to receive assistance. If you are in need, know someone who is, or would like to donate clothes, school supplies, or food items, then contact Dave. His contact information is on his web site.

Also, Dave is an agent for the NASE (see his web site) for an inexpensive family health plan and for more information.

The upcoming antique show

I found out a week ago that the upcoming antiques show for Selma had a snafu in that the promoter backed out of the deal. I have a slight problem with the way that this was handled in that there was apparently no contract with the promoter, merely a "gentlemen's agreement". That means that the town dumped time, money, and resources into a verbal understanding and not something more "concrete". The promoter figured that the response from local businesses was lame and that they would lose money and reputation by participating.

I have already seen signs, posters, etc. around town. I hear that there are already billboards, as well. I heard of mailers to Chamber of Commerce members and mailing lists, as well as ads in publications. All of this was done without having a contract for a promoter. Now, town employees will attempt to step in and do the job at this late date. The show is scheduled for less than a month away and in that time, the town employees, who are not professional promoters, will attempt to continue so that the show will go on.

I heard about this at last week's town council meeting. An article was in last Thursday's "Selma News". However, since it is not an online paper, I didn't reference it here. "The Smithfield Herald" did have an article on their web site, so I will share it here.

I can understand the desire to continue with the show. However, I also wonder if it would be better to simply let the show die this year and cut the losses and save the resources for next year. I have heard that people are expected to come from out of state to attend the show. It would be relatively easy to judge that response by contacting local hotels about the rate of room bookings for the show's span.

I see a few problems with the show. First, not many dealers expressed that much interest. If they had, they would have registered for the show. Second, it is outdoors, on Raiford Street, so I understand. One word...rain. Furniture does not do well in the rain, so choosing an outdoor venue for a furniture show is a bit stupid to me.

We already have a large number of antique dealers in store fronts. Pouring money into a show instead of a private/public partnership for media relations is not my favored method of town promotion. Selma is not the State Fairgrounds or the Raleigh Civic and Convention Center. If we had a convention center, I could see it, but we are only a town of about 6,000 population. Yes, we do have a center of interest for those who love over priced antiques, but we don't have a proper venue for a show, in my opinion. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses.

Don't get me wrong, I hope that if the show is going to continue to go on, it will be successful. I just think that one quote from the article below says volumes: "Last week, Tarry [the promoter] said his firm had pitched the show to more than 2,500 vendors in various states along the Eastern Seaboard. "We spent months trying to find interest, but it just wasn't there," he said. "We called almost every antique dealer in North Carolina and attended large shows all up and down the East Coast. We have to have willing participants to put on a show, but we just couldn't find many around."

If there is no interest, there is no interest. Just because something may sound like a good idea doesn't mean we need to do it. Then again, many good ideas are left undone when they should not be so.


The show will go on


Selma -- Less than a month before the first East Coast Antiques Show, the New York promotions firm planning the event has dropped the show from its calendar.

Last week, Selma Town Manager Jeff White told a visibly dismayed Town Council that Syracuse-based The Results Group was no longer promoting the event. White said he called the company last Tuesday for an update on the festival but was told the firm was no longer working on the event.

"They told me that they didn't have enough vendors to make it work, so they decided to drop it and move on," he said. "They had set a deadline of August 25 for vendors to let them know if they would be participating."

"I suppose it's a good thing that I called them and asked them about it," White added. "If I hadn't, I'm not sure if they would have informed us about it or not. We very well might have showed up for the start of the festival and found that there was nobody there."

In a phone interview on Thursday, Tom Tarry of The Results Group defended his company's decision. "I realize that people might think that we pulled out rather late in the game, but that's just how things work in this business," he said. "This business is a very last-minute business."

Tarry and his colleague, John Reedy, approached the Town Council in March about promoting the festival. The town would not be required to pay any money for their services, Tarry and Reedy said, provided that The Results Group maintained exclusive rights to market the festival in its early years.

Last week, Tarry said his firm had pitched the show to more than 2,500 vendors in various states along the Eastern Seaboard. "We spent months trying to find interest, but it just wasn't there," he said. "We called almost every antique dealer in North Carolina and attended large shows all up and down the East Coast. We have to have willing participants to put on a show, but we just couldn't find many around."

Despite the setback, White said he would work with local antique dealers to make sure the show went on anyway. "We're going to make this thing work," he said. "We want to make this as successful for the town of Selma as we possibly can."

Tonia Harris, owner of Visual Pleasure Antiques, said she and her husband were among those working behind the scenes to pull the antiques show together. Harris said her husband, Lance, has begun visiting auction houses and antiques show to solicit vendors for the festival.

For his part, Tarry said his company would willingly provide information on vendors it had contacted. He said he wished the town the best of luck with the antiques festival and hoped it would be a hit.

"We're not going to hold back the information we have from them just because we're not promoting the show any longer," he said. "I think it's great they are still going to have the festival, and I hope it goes well."

Harris said she had recently talked with another antique dealer who seemed confident she could persuade several friends to set up booths at the antiques ahow. "There's nothing else going on that weekend, so it will give people in our area a chance to join us," Harris noted.

"We're confidently networking with other antiques lovers and I'm confident that everything will be just fine," she added. "All of us here want it to be successful."

Herald Staff Reporter Jordan Cooke can be reached at 934-2176, Ext. 133, or by e-mail at

Monday, September 19, 2005

Eminent domain abuse

The abuse of the power of eminent domain is a sore subject with me. This abuse is becoming wide spread across the country. Many times, land is taken from private citizens by force and given to private developers so that the land will now have a higher tax use for local government revenue. That may be true, but that does not make it the right thing to do. Private property rights are the basis for much of the settling of this nation; the reason we drew so many immigrants to pursue their dreams. It is my belief that eminent domain is an important tool for the public good. The new bypass for highway 70 through Clayton may be one good example. Below is an example of an abuse that chaps me. If I am elected to the Selma Town Council, I will work to ensure that the Town of Selma does not abuse this power. I found this story on a news site that I read daily.



This little scenario is playing out in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. A group of Jewish parents worked for years to acquire a site for a new private Jewish high school. Two years ago they paid $20 million for a site for the new Weber School. Over the weekend they had a groundbreaking celebration. But wait! Something's wrong! Just a few weeks ago a letter was received from the Fulton County school system. Forget your construction plans, we want the site for an elementary school. If you don't agree to sell it to us by today, we'll just simply take it through eminent domain. Let's go ahead and state the obvious. Which facility would better serve the community? A Jewish high school with it's dedication to excellence, or yet another government school with the inevitability of mediocrity. Here's a link to the story.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The latest

There is not much to report here the past few days. We have been busy passing out flyers and business cards. I have also developed a direct mailer post card, written a few radio ads, and contacted newspapers for ad rates. I will also be obtaining some supplies to manufacture a few large wooden signs to put on the back of my truck as well as in my yard.

Tuesday night, the Johnston County Republican Men's Action Club is having a meeting at Legend's Tap and Grill. Chad Adams of The John Locke Foundation will be the guest speaker. The announced topic is local taxation and property rights. I believe the meeting will be on the 20th at 7 PM. I have seen nothing concrete about it, but that is what was announced a month ago.

I got a questionnaire from "The Smithfield Herald", much like I did "The News & Observer". This one seems a little more detailed. By the way, I am still the only candidate in Selma to have the bio link on the N&O web site. Am I the only one to have returned the questionnaire, I wonder?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Town of Selma spending...or not

I was at the Selma Town Council Meeting on Tuedsay night. The council considered items such as a resolution to support the formation of a Selma Boys and Girls Club of America, the upgrade of the town's electrical plant, and a $1.5 million dollar spending plan. The spending would have expanded the present library and renovated the Harrison Gymnasium complex. A loan through the USDA would have been acquired and repayed over thirty years to accomplish the spending. That would have raised the tax rate in Selma by an estimated one to two cents for property owners.

I spoke up at the public hearing portion of the meeting and expressed my desire to see the council take into consideration the idea of taking care of existing facilities before acquiring new ones as well as the other proposed spending that the town was considering. I speak specifically towards the parks and recreation plan for new parks in Selma. I would much rather see the money spent on renovating the gym and adding to the library than adding more parks, including three dog parks to the town.

The good thing about the proposal was to expand the use of the gym for use for training by the fire and police departments, as well as for parks and recreation. The facility would also serve as an emergency shelter. I am all for utilizing existing facilities to their fullest before building or acquiring more. However, this spending would also have to be balanced with other proposed spending.

The council decided not to take action on the spending at the moment. The WMPM article I found online today mentioned reconsideration in the spring. I don't recall the spring reconsideration part of the discussion, but I may have missed that detail.

The town is spending more than twice that amount on the upgrade to the exising electrical system by adding a higher capacity electrical sub station that the town would own rather than rent from Progress Energy. That would save some money that way, and the increased capacity, as well as servicing Sysco would pay for the upgrade. That is not a bad way of doing things.

Here is the WMPM article from their web site. It is also covered in today's "The Selma News", but in greater detail.


Selma Delays Funding For $1.5M In Expansion & Renovation Projects - The Selma Town Council has delayed funding the expansion of the Selma Library and renovating the Harrison School property. The projects would cost about $1.5 million. Officials said they would reconsider the projects next spring, but felt for now the town was just spending too much money.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Blog comments

I have made a decision to suspend the ability to leave comments on my blog. I didn't want to do so, because I believe it to be a viable forum. However, I have been getting slammed with pornographic web site and other spam links in the commentary left by visitors to the site. is one of the larger fora for blogs on the internet. So this site attracts people looking for blogs to spam by leaving comments. Just within the past half hour, I got two comments. Usually, they start out by saying that I have a great blog. Then, they go on to invite people to check out their site. Sometimes, there is a description of the site before the link, sometimes not. The porn sites usually don't tell you what they are before they give the link. I found that one out the hard way.

I have another blog, as well. In the two years or so I have run that blog, I have not had spam comments. That blog is on rather than blogspot/blogger. Blogspot publishes a page/forum that publicizes member blogs to draw traffic. I elected to be included in that publishing, but it seems that the cost is attracting spammers. I hate that. I get tired of deleting illegitimate comments, so I have elected to suspend that option on my blog.

If you wish to leave a comment, you can click on the email link on the right side of the blog and send me comments. I may elect to post them here. Sorry about this, y'all.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A concert and a fund raiser

One of our favorite local restaurants will be having an outdoor concert this Saturday. They usually play beach music there, as will be the case this Saturday. I am not a huge fan of beach music. I remember when I first heard the term "beach music", I was thinking about The Safaris, The Beach Boys, and Annette Funicello movies. Beach music seems more like slow Motown to me. That is OK, though. To each his own. I am actually fairly eclectic in some of my musical tastes. I can listen to anything from Broadway to classical to heavy metal. But back to the topic at hand.

Legend's Tap and Grill is a Selma restaurant that my wife and I frequent. We ate dinner there just this evening. I saw a sign on the door that they will have a concert on Saturday and will be taking donations for Hurricane Katrina victims. I will probably make it out there, myself. The concert starts at 7PM with free hotdogs. There was no event listed on their web site. This will be a good opportunity to meet you and for all of you to meet me.

The only caveat that I can think of is that I am on call for my employer this coming weekend. Nothing wrecks plans like a four hour one way trip to Myrtle Beach to fix a dead computer or shuffling off to Roxboro, near the Virginia border. If all is well at work, I will try to go to the concert and participate in the fund raiser.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Looting after disasters

Here is how the city of San Francisco handled looters/law and order after the earthquake of 1906. Compare that to New Orleans of present day, almost a century later. There was no mass media to warn people of an impending disaster, not that you can do that with earthquakes, anyway. There was no huge federal safety net to pick up the slack. There was no massive relief effort or promises to rebuild with your tax money on the scale of today. I am not opposed to relief efforts, feeding, sheltering, and clothing disaster victims. Actually, it is quite the opposite. I am opposed to catering to criminals, however.

See the comments to this post for more.

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Herald's opinion

In Selma, all's well that ends well

A movie character once said that one must have faith that the universe will unfold as it should. Selma is just a small part of the universe, but in a Johnston County courtroom on Monday, events unfolded as they should have for the town.

Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins, who has a keen sense of fairness, said Selma could add two names to its November ballot. He made the right call.

To be sure, no one could fault the candidates -- Charles Hester for mayor and Tommy Holmes for Town Council. They filed before the noon Aug. 5 deadline, but through no fault of their own, their paperwork arrived late in the elections office in Smithfield.

At the same time, Judge Jenkins refused to fault the Board of Elections, which stood by its decision to reject the candidate filings. In fact, the judge went so far as to praise the Board of Elections for upholding the law.

But to his credit, Judge Jenkins used the out given him under the law. That provision says a judge can override an elections board ruling under extraordinary circumstances. Certainly, the circumstances in Selma were extraordinary. No one could remember a similar incident in Johnston County.

Judge Jenkins recognized that fact, and now, the November election in Selma will unfold as it should.

The N&O bio

I just looked at the bio published in the "News and Observer" about me that was published on August 31st. It was based upon the responses I gave to their questionnaire. I wrote earlier about this in this blog. The N&O staff took a bit of editorial license in some responses. With an entire page of bio available, it is sad to see that some of my answers were abreviated. They also did not use the picture I both emailed and snail mailed them. Oh, well. I have no control over that.

The links to biographies and questionnaires are right on the page where you can see a list of all candidates. The name of the candidate will link to the corresponding bio, if the bio has been published. It appears that I am the only candidate in the Selma election that has responded to the questionnaire thus far, since I am the only candidate with a bio link online. Also, the two other candidates who have been recently added to the ballot by judicial decree have not been added to that list.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Thoughts on preparedness

I have been watching the news reports on Fox News, WRAL, and other outlets of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. With great dismay I have seen the footage of hurricane victims looting, killing, raping, and starving. One thing I can say is that the city of New Orleans was woefully unprepared for this event.

That city was warned years ago of such a possibility and was given millions in federal funding to improve itself in case of terrorist attack to its levees. That city has days to evacuate its residents, gather food and supplies, and prepare in general. Since far less was done than was obviously necessary, the city's mayor has been cussing out the federal government for their supposedly slow attention. Meanwhile, the looting, killing, rape, and starvation continues.

We don't see this sort of problem here after a hurricane for several reasons. First, we are not below sea level and our area doesn't quite get wiped out with a total flood. Floyd tried hard and took out a lot of farms, but it is different here in North Carolina. Next is that we take evacuations seriously by comparison. The majority of people on the coast have transportation since it is a tourist area and we don't have mass transit for people to rely on. Our cities are not half a million in population all crammed into a sinful spectacle such as "The Big Easy".

Even with a town as small as Selma, I believe in being prepared AHEAD OF TIME. One thing that was drilled into my head from early on in my public service career was preplanning. I assisted in preplanning for fires, chemical spills, mass casualty situations, explosions, and the like in town in which I grew up. In college, we were taught about incident preplanning and systematic city wide planning in municipal fire management class. These were foreign concepts to the people I came to work with at NC State University, apparently. However, it still served me well when I worked with incident command and handled fires and emergencies on that campus.

I believe that it is the town council's job to facilitate this planning and preparedness and to create the environment in which the town servants can cooperate as well as know that the materials and tools they need will be provided. Public works employees need to be prepared to assist the fire department when needed. The police and fire departments need to work well together in their assigned duties. Tools and equipment need to be available or supplied rapidly through cooperative agreements with other neighboring towns. Training needs to be provided and encouraged. I believe in providing the best possible training we can. I believe in drills, disaster preparedness, and providing for essential municipal services as a priority. Well equipped fire, police, and public works departments come before dog parks and gymnasiums.

I am not opposed to gymnasiums and public parks and recreation at all. I benefitted from a small town's P&R department. However, they did well with what they had for the size town it was and still is.

As a town, we can't do every good idea just because it is a good idea. We must, however, focus on the priorities and the rest comes into play after the priorities are met. In my home, we make sure that the mortgage, the utilities, and the insurance bills are paid before we do other bills. Then, we take care of the other bills before we do things that are good ideas. We can be no different as a town.