Friday, June 30, 2006

Yes, Debbie, it IS clear

I have posted several times about the change to the county 911 system. I have tried to keep a documentation of some of the local news articles and such about various topics, as well. In today's Smithfield Herald, you will find an article on Monday night's council meeting and the vote to change to the 911 center for police dispatching. I was at that meeting and spoke, as I have documented here and was reported in The Selma News.

It is no secret that I have been unimpressed with a few council members over the past year. I decided to take an active interest in local affairs. It was a conscious decision on my part, though I have always had an interest in local, state, and national government. I have been active in attending as many meetings as I feel appropriate. I don't attend every one, since I am not serving on the council nor am I a reporter for a publication. I do try to stay on top of things and make myself and my perspectives known. Hence, this blog.

I dislike it when people don't take the hard decisions because of emotional response or attachment. This may be well and fine in your personal life, but when it comes to government and leadership, that has to be set aside. I have seen several decisions taken/votes cast based upon emotion and not necessarily what is in the best interest of the town. Monday night's meeting was no exception.

Here is the quote from the Herald written by reporter Jordan Cooke

Councilwomen Debbie Johnson and Jackie Lacy opposed the change. Both said they could not cast a vote that would cost the town's four dispatchers their jobs.

After the vote, Johnson wore a frown and shook her head. "I'm just not in favor of this," she said. "I hope that's been clear."


Yes, Debbie, it has been clear. It was OK for the town to lose four other job positions when looking to cut back on expenditures, but these four jobs that are for a duplicated service that we taxpayers are already funding in this county are a "sacred cow" to some. Sorry, but it is indeed clear that you have missed the part about being a leader and taking the tough decisions. It is no different for Jackie Lacy. Jackie, my dear lady, I like you. I really do. However, please, enough of the liberalism that has gotten the town into this situation to begin with.

The entitlement mentality that people are owed a living is one of the reasons why our federal government spends more money on payroll and entitlement (welfare type programs that are nothing more than redistribution of wealth) than should ever be. It is the same but to a lesser degree at the state level, then a step down at the county level. At the town level, it had better be gone when we have a huge budget deficit.

-------- Next thought --------

I am going to write one more comment here that I know is going to be controversial and generate hateful feelings. However, I have been sitting on this for a while now. It may very well brand me as a "racist" by some people. But this has NOTHING to do with race, it has to do with common sense and gratitude.

The town is deeding the Harrison School building over to the Harrison Alumni Association. Just to make things clear, I have no problem with disposing of public property if we can not economically justify its holding or maintaining. The same for utility perspective on the situation. We should not have a piece of property if we have no great reason for using it. I do have a problem with granting the property to an association that is doomed to failure.

The school is no longer in existence. It WAS an historical building that was torn down in the 50's if I remember my reading correctly. The Harrison Alumni Association is comprised of people who are just that...alumni. Those alumni are by definition growing older every year and will be dying off soon. The school ceased operation in the 50's, I thought. Within the next decade or more, there will not be any alumni left and therefore no alumni. Why give the building to that organization other than for the sake of appeasement of a minority group?

The part that "steamed me" some was the borderline ingratitude that I saw from Council Member Lacy and another alumnus when seeing the plans and hearing the results of the survey (at the town's expense) of approximately half an acre of property slated for conveyance. The original conversation was for the building and some land to comprise approximately a half acre parcel. Twice I have heard whining that this does not include the tennis court or the tract all the way to Noble Street.

All I can say is "damn, y'all are greedy". Hello? It is FREE! You goin' to argue with FREE??? You could have gotten NOTHING, instead! If we hear another complaint about the size parcel that you are getting, than perhaps nothing is what you should get. The only way that the town should consider more land is if the alumni association itself pays for a new survey of the land, blueprints, etc. and all attorneys' fees associated with it. A little gratitude goes a long way.

It is bad enough that I had to hear your horrible music on a loud P.A. system that was louder than any train coming through town last weekend. And I live less than a block from the tracks! The off key singing and loud music scared my dog to the point that she did not want to be outdoors to "do her business" and frantically fought to return indoors where the sound was only slightly more bearable. We had to listen to that racket until 9PM. Most of the singing was like "nails on a chalkboard". The only saving grace to the racket was that the music content was not objectionable...just the performance.

Again, this has absolutely NOTHING to do with race. I know that the Harrison Alumni are all Negro. I couldn't care less about the color, ethnicity, culture, or creed involved. I am talking about conduct and attitude as well as the concept of donating land for private use.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Selma 911 police dispatching

I know that it is not a popular subject with the Selma Police Department's dispatchers (I know because I know what it is like to lose a job you are dedicated to and I have an email inbox), but I am glad that the town has elected to convert to the county 911 system. The Selma News had a full story today. The WMPM web site had this to say today:


911 Center Can Meet Deadline To Handle Police Dispatching - Johnston County 911 Director Jason Barbour said his department will be able to meet a January 1 deadline to switch police dispatching from the Selma Police Station to the 911 Center. Earlier this week, the Selma Town Council voted to eliminate dispatching from the police station for the more advanced technology at the 911 Center. Three of four positions will be eliminated when the transfer takes place. Barbour said he encouraged the three dispatchers being displaced to apply for a job at the 911 Center. “We definitely encourage them to apply. It’s in our interest to hire people familiar with Selma Police procedures,” Barbour said. The starting salary for 911 dispatchers in Johnston County is $26,000 annually plus benefits. The 911 Center will also have to add a new console to handle Selma police calls. The console plus radio equipment could cost upwards of $75,000 to purchase.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Regarding Iraq

I was not happy that the U.S. did not seek a Declaration of War when we went into Iraq, as the Constitution says. OK, we had a majority resolution to do so several times, which is not the same thing but similar intent. Not good in my opinion, but we went in anyway.

I am not a war protester. I have felt for a long time that there were links to Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and other nations to radical Islamic terrorists. Make no mistake that this is at its root a religious war. I have no problem with heading off an obvious threat to peaceful existence. I have no issue with taking out those who are seeking to kill us. I have said for a long time, though, that if you are going to do it, do it right. Islamists in the Middle East have no respect for peaceful negotiations or with logical discussion. The only thing they understand is strength and brute force.

I have said for a long time that we need to run Iraq for a while before handing it over to Iraqi control. I even went on to say that we need to install a military governor as we did in Japan in the form of MacArthur. Today, I found a link to this article that quotes General MacArthur's farewell address to Congress in April of 1951, after President Truman had fired the general during the Korean War.

"...there is no alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory."

I have heard about this since 1988

When I first came to North Carolina, I took a job at NCSU Public Safety. The hazardous materials, occupational health and safety, and fire protection were collectively known as "Life Safety Services", if I recall. We all worked under the campus police department for some reason.

I have been hearing about Superfund clean up of chemical dumps near Carter Finley Stadium since 1988. There is an article in the N&O today as if this was a new thing.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Selma Town Council budget meeting

I just got home a little bit ago from the Selma Town Council meeting. The meeting was primarily for a required public hearing on the proposed budget. Only four or so people stood up and spoke, including myself.

Councilman Gary Jackson announed that he has changed his position regarding changing over to the county 911 system for police dispatching. All people who got up and spoke were in favor of going with the 911 system. The council took a motion and a vote to go with the county system instead of maintaining our own police dispatch. Debbie Johnson and Jackie Lacy both voted against going with the county 911 system.

Other than that, the council, pursuant to a motion by Debbie Johnson, decided to hold the budget adoption until the END of July, not July 1st, as is required. They want to go through each line item and see if they can cut. This is what they SHOULD have been doing ALREADY, not after the budget is supposed to be in effect. That bothers me in that now is NOT the time to do it. Why did she/they not decide to do this already? Is that not what they were elected to do? Sorry, but it just seems that cuts should have been accomplished prior to having the public hearing, announcing a tax hike, and the new fiscal year is starts this weekend.

Don't get me wrong. I am GLAD that the budget will get cut more. That is a good thing. BUT, there was a time and a place for this to have already happened. As long as we can still operate as a town for the month we are without a budget, OK, fine. Just do what needs to be done.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

OK, Selmites...time to calculate your tax increase

Since we are about to get a 25% property tax increase on the town taxes here in Selma, you may want to find out your future tax burden. Our rate currently is 44 cents per $100 value. Add the 11 cents per $100 increase to find your new tax rate for the town. Remember that this does not include the county rate. The current tax rate for the county is 78 cents per $100.

If you don't know your present tax value, go to this site, which is the Johnston County Tax Payment site. Look up your property online and you will find its tax value. Take that value and divide by 100. Multiply that figure by the .44 value to find your current tax liability. Repeat that multiplication by using the new .55 figure to find the new tax liability. Subtract the two figures to find how much your taxes are going up.

Repeat the calculation with the .78 figure to find your county tax liability. Add that to your new town tax liability and you now know what your total property tax bill will be for the year, since the county collects the town tax.

Next, remember this next year when we again have municipal elections. I exhort you to make a change. I have sympathy only for those who are on their first terms on the town council, since this problem is newly inherited for them and they are having to deal with problems created by previous councils. To my knowledge only Jeff Weaver and Charles Hester are in their first terms of service. I have little sympathy for those who have served more than one term thus far. The rest are on their second term or more. They have had plenty of opportunities to question, investigate, disapprove, and limit spending.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My commentary on this is still the same as earlier

Also from the WMPM web site:

School Board To Discuss Budget Shortfall, Possible Legal Action - The Johnston County School Board will discuss their budget next week. On Monday, county commissioners voted to give the school system $45.5 million to operate on during the next fiscal year. That was $300,000 more than what initially had been proposed by the county manager. School funding will account for nearly one-third of the entire county budget this year. However, some school leaders say that isn’t enough. Leaders say they need at least $1 million more to operate. When the school board meets next week they are expected to discuss their options, including seeking arbitration or taking the county to court. School Board Chairman Fred Bartholomew has asked the superintendent to look at budget items that could be reduced before deciding on any legal action.

Want to read what I said earlier? Scroll down or just hit this link!

Glad to see this. It is about time.

Selma Church Owner Being Taken To Court - The owner of a Selma church that was damaged beyond repair after being struck by a pickup in January is being taken to court. James Neal of Kenly has been ordered to appear in court in July. Neal owns the Temple of Praise Church. After the accident, the building was partially torn down but has since been abandoned. The town of Selma wants the remainder of the lot cleared. Currently, it is in violation of town ordinances, officials contend. Police and city leaders said they made numerous attempts to talk with James Neal about the condition of the church but he could never be reached.
-------------------

"The Selma News" had a much more complete story in today's paper. Obviously, they have more space/time than a quick radio news report. The story is not on the paper's web site, or I would refer you to it.

Side note: "The Selma News" did publish my letter to the editor. The editorial page is pretty good today. I appreciate Al Gaskill's letter and I am in full support of what he wrote. On the same topic, I am glad to see the paper's editorial.

Sowing and reaping

When I first moved to North Carolina, I took a job working the NCSU's Public Safety Department doing fire protection. I was a recent graduate of the Fire Protection program at what is now New Hampshire Technical College and had three job paths open to me. I chose to take the job in NC, since it was the only one in the field of my major.

After a while in that job, the department's director took a job in New York and the search was on for a new director. I was one of the handful of people on a committee to interview candidates for the job. Of the ones that we interviewed, the candidate that we unanimously placed at the bottom of the list got the job, since the vice-chancellor that oversees that part of the university used to work with that candidate at another college.

This man came in, chose some pets who would be "yes men" and proceeded to get rid of a lot of staff. A coworker of mine was screwed out of his job when they fired him just a few months shy of eligibility to access to the state grievance system, which happens at the 3 year mark of employment. The funny thing was the he was fired for missing fire extinguisher inspections at the NCSU Vet School. An entire crew went out to that school one night and they checked out all the fire extinguishers. If one was found not to have a tag with my coworker's signature on it, they documented it, signed the tag, and went on. Oddly enough, when I saw that the same thing was coming my way and I was assigned the same inspection, I found more fire extinguishers that the "railroading" crew missed than my coworker had missed and got fired because of it. I know this because I removed every tag they missed and placed a new tag on the fire extinguishers until I had a nice stack of tags. Funny how that works.

Anyway, the new chief was a real jerk. He was a drinking, smoking, cussing, rude individual, but was supposedly still a good Mormon who worked with and taught young Mormons, so I was told. This man and his lap dogs would follow officers and fire inspectors around the campus and spy on them. We saw them most times. He was often confrontational, even making up stories with which to verbally abuse people with. I was on the receiving end of several.

It took eleven years, but this man had to retire early because he misused and spent state money on personal items. Depending upon the source of the story, over $840,000 to $2.2 million were used for office remodelling, clothing, televisions, electronics, and the like. Before he left, he ended up canning a couple who worked for the department for abusing state property by using cell phones for personal use and running up a sizeable bill. Yet, he spent that much on stuff that was for his personal gain and not needed. Great use of our tax dollars, huh?

I said all that to say this. Last night, I ran across an article from about three months ago about a lawsuit involving this man and his secretary. I thought I knew her, as well, but it seems it is a different secretary that was working for him when I was there. Here is the article. Since it is short, I will post it here.

North Carolina State University has agreed to pay $95,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former assistant to the campus’s police chief, who accused her boss of illegally recording her telephone conversations in order to intimidate her and cover up his alleged misdeeds, the Associated Press reported today. The university said it had settled the case to avoid prolonging the litigation, which began in 2001. The police chief, Ralph Lex Harper, was forced to retire in 2000 after it was disclosed that he had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in university funds on personal items, including a leather coat and dozens of pieces of electronic gear, as well as on travel and office decoration.

The N&O also reported this story in greater detail, but I missed it when it ran originally. The N&O story has more detail.

I find it amusing that some of the things that Harper took credit for in this NCSU bulletin such as "a systematic, organized fire safety program that requires that exit lights, emergency lights and fire extinguishers on campus be inspected once a month. Additionally, regular inspections of residence halls, fraternity houses and campus buildings are conducted." were proposed during my early tenure there and never implemented. Some of these things were in place, such as regularly scheduled inspections of frat houses, residence halls, and campus buildings. I did that for a living there and wrote many reports on those inspections. I was one of the first people who did plans review of the RBC Center when it was still in blueprint form. Unfortunately, I did not see other necessary items in regards to fire protection that were listed there. I lobbied for several major changes in the way we did business, but I don't know if they ever happened.

The end result is that this man was hired because of the "good old boy" system. It cost many people their careers at that institution, and the taxpayers millions of dollars. In addition, this man retired in shame, on every newspaper and TV station in the area. He sowed, he reaped.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What a name

When we lived in Smithfield, we had Sprint for a telephone provider. When we moved to Selma, the local provider was Bell South, whom I liked better than Sprint and had for years while living in Raleigh. After Time Warner finally offered digital phone in Selma, I went with their service. Since I am a Time Warner employee, I get half off the cost.

I am glad I am not with Sprint just so that I don't have a telephone company dumb enough to change its name to something likeEmbarq.

Nothing like being ignored

I wish that some more of my friends and my wife could have been with me this evening for dinner. I stopped by La Cocina in Smithfield with a dear friend of the family. We decided to meet at 6:30 at the restaurant, so I arrived a bit ahead of time to get a table. While I was waiting, I saw someone whom I never enjoy seeing enter the restaurant with his wife and daughter (I think that is who he was with. My back was to them, but that would make sense.)

Years ago, this man was buying a radio station and making it into a "Christian"/Positive Country station. He basically made all executive decisions, all programming and hiring was done through his organization, his "ministry" owned all the equipment, and he made a lot of promises as to improvements that never materialized. With his decision making and lack of funding promised, he ran that station into the ground. The sad thing was that we had started to improve listenership, even with the crappy signal and equipment we had. A few professionals improved the sound as best we could and held things together.

The general manager was a friend of mine with whom I had worked at another station in Raleigh. Another friend and coworker of ours from that same station came to join us there. The G.M. and I have since become even better friends and we hang out together a lot.

The "minister" created a situation where we could not sell ad time, we had little revenue, and we were falling behind in payroll. In talking to members of his congregation, some were under the impression that the church was purchasing that radio station, although it was never the church's deal, it was the private ministry of that pastor. Of course that didn't stop the fleecing of the sheep to contribute to the cause.

The G.M. worked for a few years without pay in order to fulfill the objective of the mission, with the understanding that he would eventually be taken care of monetarily. That never happened. He owed me over $3200 then denied owing it. A few other employees were actually asked to donate their back wages as a ministry gift. Then this man had the gall to say that he could not be sued for back wages on Biblical grounds.

Well, at the small claims court case, the man perjured himself. Everyone knew it. The former owner, who, on paper still owned the station only because the license transfer had never happened and the "minister" never fulfilled his end of the contract, was "legally" seen as the owner. That man had never had anything to do with that radio station in all the time I was there. He was basically out of all control, payroll, operations, programming, equipment, etc. He knew that he was being screwed in this whole transaction, and then he got screwed at the magistrate hearing. Each participant in that room knew that the man was lying, but he weaseled out of it.

My friend, the G.M. appealed that decision, but the "minister" hired a lawyer who spewed a bunch of B.S. and received summary judgement. We all knew it was wrong.

Ever since then, that "minister" has dodged me. I have seen him in Wal-Mart several times and he took off each time after seeing me. I have seen him at Golden Corral and he totally ignored me. I saw him this evening and he ignored me again. My friend told me that his wife sure noticed me and stared at me the entire time. The whole time, every time, I chuckle to myself. He knows his shame.

It would have been one thing if this man had come to me and been honest and said that he didn't have the money to pay me and it didn't look like I would get paid. Instead, he denied any knowledge of a part of my due compensation, though the G.M. had two different conversations with him about it. Later, his story changed to him not owing me anything. I don't take well to being lied to, especially by a clegyman. He basically dared former employees to sue him, declaring that we couldn't according to the Bible. That was sheer arrogance. I didn't sue him. I sued a corporation that he founded and of which he was the head. Only through legal technicalities did it work in his favor, although he knows the real truth.

After getting burned by this man, all I could do was pray for him and that radio station. I got to the point that I was very disappointed and frustrated. The radio station that I worked hard at improving was still lingering on the air, was sounding like crap, and this man still had his radio station, as well as stood in a pulpit every Sunday and preached righteousness. It just made no sense to me. I got to the place in praying for him (not against him, by the way) that I told the Lord that I just don't know what to pray for any more.

The Spirit told me to "pray that they would be shut down". That took me by surprise, since it seemed a bit odd. I was supposed to pray for my enemies, not against them. Very stunned (I remember that I was driving at the time and remember the conversation well.) So I said, something like, "Uh, OK, Lord. If it be your will, then I pray that you would shut them down." I prayed that a little hesitatingly and unwillingly, not knowing what it would mean. My heart's wish was that no harm would come to anyone or anthing. Within a week, the tower was struck by lightning, one piece of non-critical equipment was fried, and the station never operated again until it was taken back over by the previous owner, since the contract was basically null anyway.

I was told a few other things about that situation that I will not say here but hide in my heart. I learned a lot that day and week. It is a lesson that I will never forget.

To this day, that man has made no attempt at reconcilliation. I went to him when I was wronged and he never received me. Oh, well. He never did like the fact that I had some theological differences with him and would not attend his congregation. His son would ask me theological questions, I would give answers, and then get chewed out by this man because the son would get the answers I gave totally twisted and inaccurate by the time they were relayed to him. I was shocked and amazed at the confrontation I got over that. I still think about it and laugh, it was so bizarre and so far from how things were discussed.

My wife is still indignant (that is putting it mildly) over this whole thing. She is fairly bitter, having seen her husband screwed out of money by a minister and seeing how we suffered financially at the time of such an economic low point in our lives.

To add insult to the financial hosing, I was still owed money at the end of one calendar year. The back wages were actually reported on my tax form for that year as having been paid, even though they were not. Then, the following year, I got another tax statement claiming that same few hundred dollars that was due the previous year and paid the next year on that year's forms, as well. Basically, I got hosed yet again by double reporting of income. The first reporting was illegal. The second reporting was double the insult. It was done by this man's ministry in the name of the former owner, since I later inquired of the former owner as to who did the tax forms. On top of that, there was still an outstanding balance due me, as mentioned earlier.

Things like this have really left a "bad taste in our mouths", so to speak towards ministry. Add to that some of the things we have endured since, and we have a novel. Actually, I have been contemplating writing one. I already have a title picked out, but will not mention it here. It may get used by someone else.

One sad thing I realized a long time ago is that so called "Christian brethren" don't always treat people better than the "world". I have been treated better, more fairly, and more honestly by heathen than by any Christian employer or minister I have ever been around. That, my brothers and sisters, is a sad commentary.

Just an observation

I had to travel to Roanoke Rapids this morning and worked there until this afternoon. After leaving the cable TV plant there, I stopped by Starbucks around the corner for a "caramel macchiatto". That is an indulgence I allow myself from time to time. When I pulled in to the parking lot, there were three North Carolina Highway Patrol vehicles in the lot. Two were marked and one was unmarked. Hey, everyone needs a coffee break from time to time.

I noticed, however, that four SHP troopers were all inside and their three vehicles were still sitting in the lot running. I realize the upside of that, in that the vehicle will stay cool inside when it is 93 degrees outside, the vehicle doesn't have to be started in order to respond to an emergency, and nobody is likely to attempt to steal an SHP vehicle.

What bothers me is that three patrol vehicles idling while gas is nearly $2.80 a gallon just seems wasteful. Again, I don't begrudge anyone a coffee break...I was doing the same. If all breaks are done the same way with every SHP officer across the state, I do believe that we are looking at a way to save significant tax dollars by simply shutting the unused vehicle OFF. I look at this keeping in mind the emergency response paradigm. I used to work for a police department and drove marked units, too.

I do wonder, however, about the wisdom of four SHP officers taking a break with 3 patrol cars all at the same time. We have been hearing a lot on TV and radio just in the past few days about the lack of SHP staff and units patrolling the highways. That was not a good PR move today. By the way, I do stop by that Starbucks every once in a while. Not real often, but every few months, perhaps. More often than not, I see a SHP vehicle in the parking lot and a trooper in the shop. I am giving the benefit of the doubt here and chalking that up to coincidence.

I know the sort of hours the SHP tend to work, having worked their 12 hour, 4 day rotation schedule for a while. They see a lot of "windshield time". I won't say that they have the toughest job in law enforcement, since I believe that probably the local sheriff's department or municipal departments actually work harder with more responsibilities, less recognition, and less visibility. Many troopers are certainly top notch law enforcement officers and deserve my thanks and respect, which they have.

Thank you, Chief Bowen and our local police department staff

I like Selma Police Chief Bowen. I have met and liked several of the officers in our local police department, as well. That has nothing to do with my views on whether the town should utilize the county 911 dispatch, though. But anyway, that is not why I am writing this entry.

I am writing to pass along my thanks for your recent work that has been reported on WMPM's web site. I am a bit of a Libertarian in my views on drug use, but I also know the crime, the societal ills, and the problems associated with it. I do believe that drug dealers are basically the scum of the earth.

The Selma Police Department has scored a bunch of drug dealer arrests. When Major Bowen became Chief Bowen, I had a twinkle of optimism for the future of our police department. I thought he was a good choice for the new chief. So far, Chief Bowen, you have not disappointed me in your direction of the department. Thank you.

From the WMPM web site:

15 Targeted In Selma Drug Operation - Following a four month undercover operation, Selma Police began rounding up 15 street level drug dealers Tuesday, on 81 charges, in an operation dubbed Say No To Drugs. One of the accused drug dealers was a 15-year-old juvenile. He is charged with 7 felony counts of selling and conspiring to sell cocaine. Thirteen of the suspects are men. Police Chief Charles Bowen said many were repeat offenders. “If you continue to sell drugs expect to be selling to an undercover officer. We’re not going to stop,” Bowen said Tuesday during the operation. One of the suspects, Keenan Jameal Cradick, was charged with selling drugs to a minor.

Oh, boo frickity hoo!

I know someone who loves to quote Dr. Evil from Austin Powers movies. Quite honestly, that is how I feel about the Johnston County school budget. In today's News and Observer there is a story about the school budget being $1 million less than the initial request. Now the school system is threatening to go to court to force the extra million dollars.

Sorry, but that is how budgets work. You request, but you are given a certain amount to work with. Too bad, deal with it. I do not for a minute believe that the school system can not do without that one million dollars for this one year. I guarantee that they can find that million in just wasteful spending, excess staff at the administration level, and extras they don't really need. So you put thermostats a few degrees higher or lower to save on electricity. So you don't replace a school bus or two this year. Hey, I have an idea...one tenth of that million can come from the WAY OVERPAID superintendant's salary. When Johnston County pays the Superintendant of Schools more than the Governor of the entire State of North Carolina makes, something is wrong. He makes almost $200,000 a year.

Knowing that last fact alone should really bother you tax payers. If they can pay one man that much and that one man can not find how to trim 1/150th of a budget, then you are obviously paying far too much for that position. So, to quote Dr. Evil and then someone I know, "Oh, boo frickity hoo!"

Here is a part of the N&O article:

Local schools and nonprofits will feel the pinch under the lean budget and no tax hike adopted by Johnston County commissioners Monday.

The school district will get about $1 million less than it requested in the county's $150 million spending plan -- a gap that School Board Chairman Fred Bartholomew said could lead the county and schools to a face-off in court.

Bartholomew said the district will rework its spending plan and review the final state budget, which hasn't passed yet, before deciding whether to seek arbitration with the county. He said the school district has less than $1 million in reserves and will have to cut essential programs to compensate for the shortfall.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Beware of falling brimstone

How can anyone claim to be a church leader, represent Jesus Christ and God the Father, have the Spirit dwell within them, and then totally go contrary to the very thing they claim to represent?

I am so tired of people justifying their horrendous sin as being normal, natural, God created, or any other name you want to give it. The biggest issue I have seen with this is homosexuality. Here is part of an article I just read:

Newly elected leader of the U.S. Episcopal Church Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on Monday she believed homosexuality was no sin and homosexuals were created by God to love people of the same gender.

First, the correct word is not gender, it is sex. Next, is the problem of the election of a female bishop. In the Bible, bishops are neither female nor elected. Then the obvious condoning of a sin that is an abomination. I won't get into the female issue at the moment, but I am just plain heart broken that the Church that I am a part of, the Body of Christ, the betrothed of the Lord would even consider condoning sin.

Love the same gender? There are men in my life whom I love. There are women in my life whom I love. I do not, however, love a man as I would love a wife. I could write an entire theological treatise on this, but I won't get into it right now. In the words of Bill Engvall, "I just hate stupid people". OK, I don't hate this apostate bishop, but I do hate the sin she accepts and supports. To deny the obvious Biblical position on this is just plain stupid and evil.

Homework

This weekend has been interesting in that I have been working a lot. Some home stuff, some employment stuff. A few weeks ago, we bought a power washer that was on sale at Lowe's. I have been wanting to work on the oil stains in the driveway, the wooden fence between our property and our neighbor's, and find a better method of cleaning the aluminum siding than spraying with a bleach and water solution and then hosing it down.

I started working on the oil stains. I got some of the oil up in the past using just Awesome degreaser and a hose. Using just water and the dirt blaster attachment did OK. Now I still have some discoloration, so maybe some scrubbing and a detergent solution with the pressure washer next time.

I found out quickly how disgustingly dirty the driveway pad really was. I discovered that I had probably better do the entire pad, not just the oil affected area. I worked 4.5 hours straight on Saturday alone and did about two thirds or so of the concrete. I had to work on Sunday to fix a problem at work and continued a while after getting back home.

Teresa wanted to try it out, so I let her do some of the power washing. My forearms are a bit fatigued from holding that trigger handle for hours on end. My back is a bit sore from stooping to wash the driveway. But at least the entire pad is done.

Who knows how many years it has been since the concrete was cleaned, if ever. It sure looks a lot better now. I also have the wooden fence to do. It is covered with algae and looks horrible. It has since I bought this house and I have wanted to clean that fence from early on. That was 3.5 years ago. I tried powerwashing a small section of the fence and it looks a lot better. Next is the entire fence, the driveway strips, the front walkway (that looks horribly dark from dirt and algae), the bird bath, and the front porch. Then maybe we can think about giving the house a bath. We have done the bleach thing on the siding at least twice since living here. I see a few areas that need attention.

I didn't buy the top of the line washer. I bought the low end, but I also figured that it should be just fine for around my little castle. It is certainly doing the job and I have no complaints. The unit is lightweight and portable. It is electric powered, not gas. I did see a low end gas powered one just yesterday for about twice what I paid. For my purposes, this one works just fine.

Illustrating absurdity by being absurd

I like Mike Adams of UNCW. I appreciate many of his columns and perspectives. Like him, I have a huge problem with political correctness and reverse discrimination. His latest column should cheese off people on both sides of the "race" debates.

Friday, June 16, 2006

25% increase in property taxes coming


Selma Budget Calls For 25 Percent Property Tax Increase - Under Town Manager Stan Farmer’s proposed budget, Selma residents will see a 25 percent increase in their property taxes starting next month. The $14.2 million budget calls for an 11 cents tax increase, up to 55 cents, to balance the budget. Farmer said the increase is necessary because revenue had been overstated in recent years. Overall the new fiscal year budget is down 6 percent. To avoid cutting any additional positions, town employees have agreed to waive cost of living and merit increases, over the next 12 months, plus do away with a five percent match on their 401k plan. A public hearing on the budget takes place next Monday.

------------------

One thought that occurs to me is something that came up in Tuesday night's town council meeting. The town is transferring a piece of property to Habitat for Humanity. Did Habitat pay for that property or is it being donated to the charity? If we are in a budget crunch, I take issue with donation of land that could be sold by the town and the proceeds go to alleviate the budget shortfall and property tax burden. Then again, I personally don't much care for the premise of that charity to begin with.

I agree with Christian giving and practice it regularly. I agree that people in need should be helped. I do not believe that just because someone is relatively poor that they should be given preferrential treatment in obtaining a house. If they have shelter, food on the table, and clothes on their back, they are better off than most of the planet's population.

I don't mean to seem hard hearted, but I was poor. Dirt poor. Rolling pennies for gas to get to work poor. Not knowing where the next meal was coming from poor. Not knowing how I would pay my rent poor. Every bill was behind and my electricity was being cut off poor. Been there, lived that. I also busted my tail to get out of that situation and am grateful for the blessings that God was graceful in bestowing upon me (or even because of my diligence) in addition to that. Now I own a decent home, have a wife, and am working on paying off the rest of our bills. I have worked hard at all of this.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. Some people may not be able to help themselves. I realize this, so don't send me hate mail because I believe that people should work hard for their living. That is simple Christian doctrine, which is what Habitat for Humanity supposedly pontificates.

My point is simply that if the town donated that land to help some poor family get a house, don't do it at my and the other taxpayers' expense. And don't tax us for the $20,000 or so we could have gotten for that tract of land had the land been sold instead of donated. I don't know that this is the actual case in this instance, but I strongly suspect it is.

The problem of ethics in regards to property taxes


When I moved to NC in 1988, I was told how much the cost of living was cheaper here. The only thing I found that was cheaper in reality was the cost of rent. Gas, milk, groceries, and taxes were all higher. The only tax that was lower was property tax, but I didn't own land when I firt moved here, either. North Carolina has a property tax, sales tax, state income tax, and federal income tax. I grew up in New Hampshire, where they only had property tax and federal income tax. There was no sales tax except at restaurants and hotels. There is no state income tax, either.

I have only owned my house less than four years. In that time, my property taxes have gone up twice. They went up significantly with the last re-evaluation and are about to go up again with the new Selma budget. Property re-evaluations are one way of sneaking in a tax increase without actually raising taxes. When you base your taxes on values that fluctuate, you set up a system whereby you "rape" your constituents occasionally.

I find the very concept of property tax to be unethical. First, I am taxed on my income. I use that left over income to purchase a home for my family and vehicles for transportation. I am then taxed at various levels with the purchase. I then have to pay tax on the property itself (with after tax dollars) each and every year. If the property values go up because of nothing I have done, I get hosed with higher taxes at the next evaluation period.

The fact is that I don't own my own home. Do you think that you do? Just DON'T pay the property taxes on that real estate and see what happens. The feudal overlords will forcibly take that property from you, sell it to recover the debt of taxes owed, and then some other peasant will begin paying tribute to the feudal system.

At the last town council meeting, there was discussion about forclosures on homes because of tax burdens. The threshold for pursuing forclosure is only $300. That's right, for just $300 in back taxes, the Town of Selma will take over your property and sell it to recover those measly few bucks in property taxes. One tax burden was only $248 or so, and will not be persued for forclosure. I am glad for that one, but for $52 more dollars, that property owner would lose every penny he/she put into that piece of land and/or home. That is just plain wrong.

In my view, property taxes are unethical because of those two major reasons: a. the property is paid for with already taxed money and b. the property can be forcibly taken from you if you do not or can not pay the taxes on the property, even if values sky rocket and you have no control over the market value. This is just plain evil.

Some suggestions for Selma

I was a bit dismayed at what I have seen and heard with regards to the budget in Selma. The property owners of Selma are about to take a battering, along with our town employees. Previous Town Councils overspent by over $400,000 per year and now we are going to have to pay for it. The sad thing is that two of the reasons why we overspent were re-elected last November. Of course the blame was still put on the former town manager. I am not going into that whole topic at the moment, but the bottom line is that the elected officials are responsible for the budget approval and appropriations, just as The House of Representatives is supposed to do in Congress.

One thing that bothered me was that the budget is supposed to be open for public review for ten days prior to adoption. Not a problem there. The problem is that it is not readily available to everyone. If you want to see it, you have to go to town hall to look through it. You can not get a copy unless you want to pay 10 cents a page (a ridiculous amount and far from actual cost) to get the entire document. That is absurd. My first thought was "just put it in a .pdf file online and I will download it, instead". To my delight, there was a .pdf file on the town web site. To my dismay, the file was ONE PAGE...one freakin' page of a general summary. If you can put one solitary page online, you can put the entire overstuffed budget for all to read.

I am not much for conspiracy theories. However, when citizens can only view a copy of the budget at town hall during normal business hours or pay a fee to get a copy and no full copy is available for public review on the town's web site, I am dubious of the desire for compliance. Most people who would be interested in the budget, such as myself, work a full time job. That often precludes spending a few hours at town hall with a note pad and the budget to do reading. However, I may have time this weekend to look over a .pdf file. If the town has nothing to hide, then put the entire budget online for us to read. The town has a decent web site, and I use it often for reference. Why go through the trouble of making a single freakin' page document but not the entire budget? If you are going to do it, do it RIGHT with nothing to hide. If my property taxes are going up 11 cents per hundred dollars of value, I want to read WHY for myself. Oh, and the amount that you are going to hose me for in a higher tax and the amount you WOULD save if you eliminated our police dispatch center would more than pay for a single copy of the budget. I doubt seriously that many others have requested a copy.

Along that same train of thought, I also suggest that the entire press kit be made available to ALL citizens who wish to attend the meetings. I will donate a few reams of paper, if necessary to accommodate this. I have eight reams sitting here in my office. Would that be enough to get me a copy of all of the proclamations, agenda items, and maybe even the overbloated budget?

I really dislike the idea of the mayor, council, and manager discussing things that are supposed to be open to the public view that are kept hidden from public view. If ONLY press members get those copies (and there are always a few extras left over), then the general public does not have any idea what many items are that are being discussed except to listen.

What many other town do is to either prepare a full packet for attendees, put up a transparency for people and council members to follow, or use a computer based projection system for display. It would not be expensive to make a few transparencies for an overhead projector and allow ALL citizens to follow along. Exhibits, proposed ordinances, resolutions, and agenda items would be able to be viewed by all. This is the professional and open way of handling business. I will buy the transparency sheets for the town personally. Maybe even the projector if the town does not have one.

For that matter, I am willing to let the town use my sound board, microphones, and cassette tape duplicator to record every meeting and make copies for interested parties. This would yield a better copy than a condenser mic in the middle of the room. I can buy tapes by the case, I own a high speed duplicator, labels, and printing software. I think I own enough microphones, but can always get more. If it will make a better permanent record, then I am willing to help out. I am also willing to digitize all recordings and make them available on the internet. All that I would need is cooperation (that costs nothing monetarily).

A letter I am sending to the editor of "The Selma News"

I always find something to amuse me, annoy me, or cause me to ponder at a Town Council meeting in Selma. After this past meeting, I have several things that have caused this, but I will stick with one topic for the moment. Trains. For some time, I have been contemplating the proposal to establish a "quiet zone" for trains traveling through Selma during evening hours. I have had the ninety day period waiting for the report from Mr. Tony Tetterton to the Council on the subject, as well as prior to that to consider the topic.

I will address this subject not from the stand point of "tradition" or "heritage" in Selma, since I really could not care less about these concepts. I am looking at this from a common sense as well as dollars and cents perspective. The dollars are of primary concern to me. I do not find it appropriate to spend money at any governmental level to improve or close railroad crossings that are perfectly fine the way they are simply to facilitate a "quiet zone". To seek money from the state rather than the town is still seeking taxpayer money...your money...my money for personal comfort. The same for looking to the federal government. It is still public treasury money. Regardless of where the tax dollars come from to fund this idea, it is fiscally irresponsible. The town is in a financial bind. This is not the time to even consider allocating funds for studies, proposals, street closings, or any such thing.

The railroad was here before we all started living in this town. When I bought my house in Selma, my wife and I knew that we were within a block of the tracks. We knew that only one home was between us and the railroad. It would be stupid of me to complain and ask the railroad to "shut up so I can sleep". Every person who has purchase a home or rents a home near the tracks realizes this same thing. In a discussion with my neighbor, who owns the house between us and the tracks had a similar perspective. She knew that her house's front porch has a magnificent view of railroad tracks. She had the exact same sentiment as I did regarding the stupidity of complaining about train noise. This is no different than the residents of the RTP area who bought a house under a flight path near RDU airport who complained about jet noise. Hello? You live under a flight path! Hello??? We live near a railroad!

I also find it ironic that the town is contemplating a proposal from someone who owns a business outside the corporate limits, the nearest railroad crossing that affects that business is outside the town limits and beyond the town's jurisdiction, and that every guest of Mr. Tetterton's campground have to drive in front of the tracks to get to the campground. Thus, every complaining guest there knows that trains just might come through that area. That being said, why is this proposal being allowed to come from someone outside the town? Do we allow people from Smithfield to petition Selma's town council for action within the town limits? Why should the town spend town resources or consideration on something for which the only real supporter I have seen is someone who is not a resident of the incorporated town limits? That is not a just burden on the Council nor on the taxpayers.

Since we celebrate our railroad but want to tell it to "be quiet", I propose some changes to our annual Railroad Days celebration. We need to replace any parade marching bands with an "air band" and let the members pretend to play their instruments in silence. Perhaps viewers can quietly hum marching music. Any horses in the parade should have rubber horseshoes instead of real ones. The spike driving competition should have a foam padded sledge hammer so we don't have to listen to the clang of metal on metal. The Shriners' cars not only need drivers with funny looking hats, we need to take the tiny cars to Midas for big mufflers...at taxpayers' expense.

Legalism in the "church"

One thing that I have learned is that legalism kills freedom. In the church, there are always those who love to assert their personal brand of legalism as if it were no imposition at all. Personal codes of holiness. The Southern Baptist Convention is working on yet another unscriptural resolution that preaches abstinence from alcohol.

Forget the fact that the Bible says that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is LIBERTY. Forget the admonitions about not being "drunk" with wine, wherein is excess (note that is does NOT say to NOT have any). Forget that wine was used at communion and from the context, obviously contained alcohol. Forget that elders were to not be given to MUCH wine (note that it does not say ANY). I am so tired of personal holiness being pressed upon others, it isn't funny.

I have personally been through this sort of thing, even to the point of being kicked out of a fellowship I helped found. It was not over this same topic, but was over a matter of false holiness. Some other men thought that I should act the way THEY wanted me to. Fortunately, God was merciful to me and showed his grace in that situation. He warned me ahead of time, and led me to a copy of Bob Hellmann's "False Holiness Exposed" just before going through that challenge. God was dealing with me personally about that subject for a little while. Then I found the book, read it, and it confirmed all of what God was teaching me. Then, I had the practical application of the lesson in my own life. Funny how God works.

I have run across web sites that are extreme "fundy" sites. I tend to be rather fundamentalist in my theology. However, there are those that are extreme. On the topic of alcohol, the favorite scriptures used are often:

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Proverbs 20:1

"Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." Proverbs 23:29-32

"Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!" Isaiah 5:11

"Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:" Isaiah 5:22

"Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!" Isaiah 28:1

"But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment." Isaiah 28:7

"Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!" Habakkuk 2:15

"No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God" 1Corinthians 6:10

"Be not drunk with wine." Ephesians 5:18

"Take heed to yourselves, lest any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that that day come upon you unawares" Luke 21:34

Did you notice something about their content? They are about drunkenness and excess. They are not about minor consumption. Just as with anything else, consumption of alcohol can be perverted, taken to excess, and abused. So can hobbies, food, sex, and working for money.

I do not support drunkenness or excess. However, I do support FREEDOM in Christ. I don't believe that alcohol is evil. What people do with it, however, may be another thing.

I have said it many times. Thankfully, I am not the only one.

A quote from Neal Boortz, who has it exactly correct: "we need to stop this somewhat soft and generic "war on terror" label and call this war what it is. A war against Islamic extremism. Defining the enemy as "terrorism" is only half right. The full description of the enemy is "Islamic terrorism." Enough of protecting the violent religion of Islam behind the cloak of political correctness."

I just wish that more people had real ones instead of Neuticles and would say the same thing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Some times I make mistakes

After tonight's Selma Town Council meeting, I was informed of an inaccuracy in one of my posts. I corrected it in the entry. Thanks, Jeff Weaver, for bringing it to my attention. I relied upon the information I had at the time, as I wrote.

I am honored that people are reading my blog. Thank you. I do see the traffic reports, and to the thousands of you who have been reading, I thank you.

Get your nose out of business affairs and let the business owner run a PRIVATE enterprise

A business owner in Philadelphia is getting hosed by the city government for exercising private ownership and freedom of speech rights. The issue is not about discrimination, it is about personal property rights and freedom. Personally, I believe that business owners across the nation need to join Joey Vento and do the same thing. He should be allowed to run his business the way he wants to and to top it off, he is just plain correct in what he is saying.

Forget the fact that Mr. Vento has never discriminated against any customer and denied them access to his establishment nor denied service. Just for having a sign that says "This is AMERICA...WHEN ORDERING SPEAK ENGLISH", he is being sanctioned by the City of Philadelphia.

Here is part of the article. For the full article, click on the post title.

----------------------

One of South Philadelphia's biggest names in cheesesteaks is in a bit of a legal pickle for a lunch-line political statement against immigrants who don't speak English.

The city's Commission on Human Relations yesterday filed a discrimination complaint against Geno's Steaks over signs that read: "This is AMERICA ... WHEN ORDERING SPEAK ENGLISH."

Owner Joey Vento has become a mini-celebrity over the issue and has steadfastly refused to pull down the signs despite the growing legal brouhaha. His son, Geno, said his father would not comment on the matter to The Inquirer.

Reached at his home yesterday evening, the Rev. James S. Allen Sr., commission chairman, said it was incumbent on the commission to get the sign removed.

"We think it is discriminatory, and we are concerned about the image of Philadelphia," he said.

According to the complaint, which was served on Geno's yesterday afternoon, the restaurant is in violation of two sections of the city's antidiscrimination laws: denying service to someone because of his or her national origin, and having printed material making certain groups of people feel their patronage is unwelcome.

----------------------

Again, this business owner NEVER denied service of told anyone not to come into his business. And since when is it (or should it be) a crime to make "certain groups of people feel their patronage is unwelcome"? I own a few small businesses myself. If I don't want someone's patronage, that is my prerogative. It is also my problem if I turn business away because I was offensive. Other businesses actually thrive on such things. It is NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S BUSINESS!!!

Grease Nazis

Go and enjoy your local KFC and tell the Grease Nazis to "shove it".

At least there is a little leadership by example

I still don't like how the town is going about the budget process, but at least there are a few rays of sunshine. First, it was OVERSPENDING that got the town into this budget problem to begin with. Second, the town raided other funds for several years to cover the shortfall. Then, they blamed the former town manager for the problems of overstating revenue. When you are relying on other funds to cover your difference between income and outflow, as directed by the previous town councils, of course you are going to show a budget deficit.

It's SPENDING that is the problem, not too low of a tax rate. At least the proposed tax rate increase has gone down by 7%. Still, I feel that most of the increase is not necessary. There are still budget areas that can be cut but are not happening. We just need to decide that we can do without certain services in this town.

Here is one suggestion. Sell the cemetary to a private corporation and let them do the upkeep and plot sales. Take the proceeds and put them towards municipal improvements instead of borrowing money to do so. Another suggestion has already come up in that we should go to the county dispatch for police services. Another suggestion came up at one council meeting, but is largely being ignored. Rent tower space to cell and pager companies on our water towers. The towers are already there, make use of the space to the public benefit, as well as that of business and the consumer.

At least the council and mayor are going to dispense with their compensation packages as a way to lead by example. It is not much money, anyway. I did not know that there was a benefits package attached to the salaries, though. That should be a permanent elimination, anyway. The Selma News reported it this way: "The town's mayor and council members suspended their salaries and benefits for the coming year ($21,000) to show town employees and citizens that they also are willing to make sacrifices." We still need more sacrifices than that. I am sure we can find more. We just have to do with less.

Would it not be better to not have allowed this to begin with?

I am glad that the NRA stepped up to the plate in fighting the San Francisco gun ban. Would it not have been better to have not have had the problem to begin with? This is yet another instance of the NRA not wanting to get involved in local politics and then later having to deal with local political issues when they run amock. Oh, but they don't have the time and resources to work to get gun friendly people in office at anything less than the state level, I am repeatedly told. Then, they have to spend thousands of dollars in law suits at the local level later. An ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure??? Click on the post title for the article.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Blink advertising


Clear Channel did NOT invent the one second ad... I did...twelve years ago. When I was a sales rep for WTIK in Durham back in 1994 or so, I sold spots to a well meaning individual. Bless his darlin' heart, this young man wanted to do a work for the Lord. He came to the radio station wanting to put out a radio message to "get saved". He said that God told him that whomever he told to "get saved" would indeed do just that. He said that all he had to do was say, "get saved!", and they would automatically know how to do so and would. He went on to explain that God told him that he had the mission to lead X amount of people to Jesus and then the Lord would take him home.

This young man was "not the sharpest knife in the drawer", so to speak, but I sort of liked him despite his gullibility. I made up a schedule of ads for him and charged seventy five cents per play. He recorded a simple, one second cut of him shouting "Get Saved!" and we played it as scheduled. I even threw in a few extra, as I recall, just to make sure that he got his money's worth.

There were a few problems with his approach to the situation. First, the audience was probably already primarily Christian, since WTIK was a Christian station at the time. The message needed to be given to those who have never heard or received the gospel. Second, there was no direction as to HOW to get saved. How can they believe in someone in who they have not heard? If nobody tells them that JESUS is the way to salvation, how will they know?

I realize that God uses the foolish things to confound the wise, but I also know what the Bible says about the gospel. Anyway, I personally don't think that his "blink" ads were effective, nor his approach to evangelism. That is just a personal opinion. I could be wrong, but I don't think I am.

As I said, bless his darlin' heart. He really meant well. I hope he had success in some form. I still chuckle about selling those "blink" ads. I almost feel guilty about it, but he wanted give the message, so I invented the ad...NOT Clear Channel.

Ahh, the music and days of remembrance

Today is the 12th anniversary of the day that O.J. Simpson whacked his ex-wife (yeah, sure, like he was REALLY innocent...right!) It is also the 12th anniversary of the day that I met Teresa. On the day we first met, we went to church in the morning, then I took her out to lunch at Pizza Inn. I took her to Pizza Inn again today. It is kinda corny, but hey, she is still my bride.

This evening, I took her to get some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery in Smithfield. They always have excellent but expensive ice cream. Hey, it is a special occasion. After that, we went a few doors down to The CD Warehouse and unexpectedly picked up some CDs. I found one CD compilation of the songs of 1986. The 80's did have some fun pop songs. I also picked up three CDs of Big Band music. There were a lot of great songs from that period of time, even tough the nation was going through some hard times with the tail end of the depression and WWII, then the Korean War.

One CD that I am glad that I found was a Rich Mullins compilation CD. Rich Mullins was probably the most prolific Christian songwriter and musician of the 1980's and most notably, the 1990's. I know that a lot of people loved Keith Green, as did I. He died long before I came to know Jesus, so I can only enjoy his music post mortem. I now do that with Rich Mullins. His music just fit my taste more so than most other Christian artists...OK, him and the later music from Petra, such as with "Wake Up Call". When I am in the mood for spiritual music and in the hard rock/heavy metal mood at the same time, I usually whip out either Petra or DC Talk.

Anyway, I do miss Rich Mullins' music. One of the things with Rich was that he took great pains in his lyrics. Not many people can write what becomes a "praise anthem" in church services that everyone knows, such as he did with "Awesome God". I don't love every last song he wrote. Some are better than others, as with any artist. What I found on the CD I purchased today is in essence a "greatest hits" compilation. I absolutely love most of the songs on his CD entitled simply, "Songs".


Whenever I find Mullins' tapes or CDs in thrift stores or used music stores, I snatch some up. I rarely pay full price, such as I find in Christian "candy" stores. They rarely are book stores any more, with a great selection. There are a few good ones still around, such as Christian Soldier in Goldsboro. However, Christian stores are way over priced, usually have a bad selection of the real deep subject matter, and often have "fluffy" and "pop culture" books and CDs.

One thing that I loved about Mullins was (and I will just copy and paste from Wikipedia here) "unlike most artists in Contemporary Christian music, Mullins did not consider his music as his primary ministry, but rather as a means to pay his bills. Instead, his ministry was the way he treated his neighbors, family and enemies." I am still working on that "enemies" part. I don't try to make any, but there seems to be a never ending supply. One thing that I do know is that when you raise your head above the crowd, you are going to get some tomatoes thrown at you.

One quote of his that I love is "It's so funny being a Christian musician. It always scares me when people think so highly of Christian music, Contemporary Christian music especially. Because I kinda go, I know a lot of us, and we don't know jack about anything. Not that I don't want you to buy our records and come to our concerts. I sure do. But you should come for entertainment." He was very unpopular with other Christian artists who looked at their career as a "ministry". He drew heat in the 90's for saying that he didn't want to be preached at when he was at a concert. If he wanted to be preached to, he would "go to church, thank you very much". I still remember that and love it.

I personally wish that Rich Mullins could have been around more and written more. In many ways, he led a life of example. Just read his bio, which I have linked you to. He is one individual that set an example for me to follow in many ways. My path is much different than his, but I still can glean from his life. Rich Mullins died in an auto wreck in 1997. He had a great impact on the lives of other musicians and fellow brethren. Thank you, God, for Rich's music.

A message that I have had on my heart for years


I may disagree with many of the preachers you see on television regularly, but I sure do know when I do agree with a message they preach. One topic that has been of importance to me is the relationship between the Church and Israel. Christianity is, in reality, a Jewish religion. That may not settle well with a lot of people I know, but the roots are undeniable.

I do not, however, believe that we have the same covenant that God had with Israel. We have a better covenant, established upon better promises. God is not done with the nation of Israel. Some think that their time on earth as God's people is over and that the church has replaced Israel. That teaching is common among many Catholics and in The Latter Rain Movement amongst Protestants. I have been around many of the "Kingdom Now", "Dominion", and replacement theologians in the past.

I do believe that the nation of Israel is still the key to end time prophecy. I believe that is the reason why they are so hated by many. They have been possibly the most enslaved and persecuted group on the planet.

In a discussion with an angry, Jew hating Catholic, I was called a "Zionist", which was used in a negative connotation. In its strictest sense, you could say that I am one, if you take the definition in Wikipedia as accurate. "Zionism is a political movement and ideology that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, where the Jewish nation originated over 3,200 years ago and where Jewish kingdoms and self-governing states existed up to the 2nd century." I have no problem with that concept. However, the anti-semite (who denied being one) did not mean the comment in a positive manner whatsoever.

A month or two ago, I was channel scanning and heard a message that I agreed with and decided that I had to record. John Hagee is one of the few television ministers from whom I am able to receive "spiritual manna". I may not agree with him on many points, but I do agree with him on many others. I caught a message he gave on TV that dealt with anti-semitism.

I decided to record the repeat of that broadcast, which came on another network later in the day. I was able to catch it on DVR and capture the audio portion relevant to the topic. I have uploaded it in Real Audio format to my web site. You will need the free Real Audio Player in order to hear the audio. If you would prefer mp3, email me and I will upload the file to you or get you a CD copy. Click on the Real logo to hear the 12 minute audio clip.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Wow, what a difference.

We finally broke down and bought a new flat panel monitor for the computer. The old one was smaller than I like and took up more space on the desk than I liked. Prices on monitors have come down recently. I have seen some deals on the internet that I liked, but I did find a good enough deal locally to get me to buy today.

I have five more inches of screen than before. I can actually read the type better, pictures are bigger and more clear. This is going to take some getting used to, but I like it.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Good job, Chief Bowen

I am glad that Chief Bowen and the Selma Police Department have been on the case of the gang graffiti in town. It has been a problem lately, as I have noted on this site. I am happy to see that y'all are making "it" happen. Thank you for your efforts.



Selma Gang Leader Arrested - Selma Police have arrested the self-proclaimed leader of the Sel-Town gang following a vandalism spree Tuesday and Wednesday. Officers reportedly caught 20-year-old Immanuel Prince Jr. with paint spray cans in his possession. Prince and Brandon Jerome Green are charged with a total of 16 counts of damaging property plus one break-in. The suspects are accused of spray painting gang graffiti at Brack Wilson Park, inside the Selma Elementary auditorium, on five school buses, a vacant house, sidewalks and street signs. Selma Police Chief Charles Bowen said six people have been arrested by his department in the past three months for vandalizing property with gang graffiti. Selma and Smithfield Police held a joint meeting Wednesday night to discuss the growing problems of gang activity in both towns, but only a dozen people showed up for the forum.

If you are in Person County, check out this man

From time to time, I travel up to Roxboro, NC on business. I was up there just this evening. I stopped by at Wal-Mart to make a purchase and met Dempsey Dunn, who is a candidate for Sheriff of Person County. If you are reading this blog and live in Person County, you should check out Mr. Dunn's web site. He seemed to be a genuine, honest, and decent individual. He also is the more conservative of the two candidates, so that is always a plus.

I refuse to believe that there are no other areas in which to cut spending


The Selma Town Council has met in another budget work session and has come up empty on places in which to cut the budget. For some reason, I find it hard to believe that the town just can not find ways to cut more.

The town does have certain responsibilities to the citizens of Selma. Those are "no brainers" and come first. Essential services always come first. Then, extra services and conveniences are the focus. Obviously, we must refrain from overspending on the essentials.

Part of the budget problem, as it was explained to me, is that in years past, [The rest of this paragraph and the next two deleted by Troy because I was informed by a town council member that the information I received was inaccurate. I did not want to perpetuate a falsehood. The budget was short by over $400K, even with a transfer of money from the utility fund into the general fund.]

The proposed budget must lay open to public inspection at least 10 days before a public hearing is held, and I am sure that I could find more areas in which to cut spending. People may not like it, but it can be done.

The council is considering raising the tax rate to $.62 per $100 property value(approximately) from $.44. That is a 40% jump.

According to epodunk.com, the median income in Selma is $23,856. For those who own property in town on that $24K a year approx. income, that is a bite. At the time of the 2000 census, the per capita income in Selma was $12,101, compared with $21,587 nationally. Median rent in Selma, at the time of the 2000 Census, was $349. Monthly homeowner costs, for people with mortgages, were $793.

With the above stats, keep these things in mind. Selma residents are 60% renters. The state averages a 69.4% ownership rate. Johnston County's ownership rate is 73.4%, ranking us 66th out of the 100 counties in NC. That thus, I will assume that the remaining 26.6% of Johnston County residents are living in rental housing. Selma is pretty much out of proportion to the county overall rate and even more so with the state rate. That means that the tax burden is on the rest of us in town for services that many renters are taking advantage of. I realize that the property owners who rent housing will most likely end up passing the increase of the tax rate onto the renters.

Thankfully, my mortgage is less than the average listed in the 2000 census. My morgage rate will go up $12.75 or so per month with the proposed tax increase. That's $153 in estimated, round numbers annually. Many people will have a higher increase, others lower, based upon their property values. I could not find stats for Selma, but did find that the median property value for Johnston County homes is $108,800. That means that if (and that is a big if) the Johnston County average did actually apply to Selma, the median increase would be $195 per year.

I can afford $13 a month more. Actually, my mortgage will go up about $26 a month, since the escrow account will be short for the first year's increase, and the mortgage company will be paying the difference. The second year, I get hit with the increase plus the shortage for the previous year, so the tax rate differential will be twice as bad for one year.

The Selma News

Tax increase, staff cuts likely to balance Selma's budget
By Kelly Lake, News Editor 06.JUN.06

A tax hike and staff reductions are likely ways Selma's town council will balance the town's budget for the next fiscal year.

A three and a half hour budget work session today (Tuesday) yielded no new budget cuts, however, Town Manager Stan Farmer is expected to present a balanced budget to the council Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I don't mind differing opinions

From time to time, I get email responses or comments on my blog entries. Yesterday, I got two. I posted on here already. I got another in response to my blog entry about the Selma Town Council's refusal to consider going to the county dispatch for police communications. I offered to post the lengthy email here for your reading pleasure. Though expressing a contrary point of view adn containing a lot of opinion, it was articulately written and respectful. I have no problem with strong opinions, but do have a problem with obnoxious opinions. Since this email was not at all obnoxious, I wanted to give equal time here. I offered to post it, but have not heard anything in reply yet. If I hear in the affirmative, I will put it here.

An email I got from a blog reader

I promised to leave out the emailer's name and email address so he/she wouldn't get spammed or hate mail.

----- Original Message -----
From: XXXXXXXX
To: "Troy LaPlante"
Sent: Monday, June 05, 2006 1:32 PM
Subject: Local Rifle Dissociation...

Hi Troy,

I just read the exchange you had with the NRA guy. Unbelievable! The
first e-mail he sent could only be considered a provocation, and sent
only because his conscience couldn't handle what you said at the store.
Instead of replying to your intellectual arguments, he starts calling
you names ("vacuous") like he's a child. Lastly, it is incredibly
telling how he assumes anyone running for office is only in it for
their personal gain; that says more about him and his corrupt belief
system than anything else.

Monday, June 05, 2006

North Carolina could take a lesson from this

Headline from a New Hampshire newspaper: "New Hampshire residents pay least in local taxes nationally". I still read three NH newspapers online every morning. I ran across this tidbit today. I find it amazing that North Carolina is running a budget revenue overage, but is still looking to raise some taxes and put in toll roads. On top of all of that, the school systems are still towards the bottom of the national averages in performance. Yet, we continually hear about the need for more money for schools.

NH is consistently at the top of school performance yet spend less per capita per student than any other state. Also, this article shows that they have the lowest local tax burden in the county.

What can we learn from this? There are many government services we can live without and money is not the only answer to public school problems.

Here is the article:

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire residents pay less of their income in state and local taxes than people living anywhere else in the country, according to 2004 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The rankings were obtained by comparing total personal income in each state with the total taxes raised by state and local governments.

"New Hampshire again has the lowest tax burden in the country, even with property taxes and statewide property taxes. That's good news for the state," said economist Dennis Delay, who calculated the rankings from the Census Bureau data.

New Hampshire has had the lowest tax burden for several years in a row, he said.

"It's also an indication the state is very frugal and tries to do a lot without the same resources other states have for revenue," Delay said.

State residents pay 12.3 percent of their personal income in taxes, while the national average is 15.1 percent.

The next lowest tax burden is in Tennessee, where residents pay 12.6 percent of their income in taxes. The two states are the only one where residents pay under 13 percent of their income in taxes.

Alaska residents pay the most, 27.3 percent of their income, followed by Wyoming at 21.3 percent.

In New England, Maine residents pay the most — 17.3 percent of their income — while Vermont comes in next, with residents paying 16.2 percent. Rhode Island, where residents pay 15.3 percent of their income, is in the middle.

Connecticut, at 13.5 percent, and Massachusetts, at 13.7 percent, were among the 10 states with the lowest tax burdens, ranking at No. 47 and No. 44, respectively.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Why I don't support the NRA



I am very much on the same page as the NRA in terms of their values and mission statement. I was a member of the NRA until March. As some of you who read this blog regularly may know, I have not been impressed with the NRA in terms of their NRA-ILA, their hypocrisy, and the way local representative just plain treats members. I am told how few resources they have to even consider doing anything local, and yet locally they use member information to send solicitations for local fun raisers. They also kill many trees to sent professionally printed funding solicitation letters, brochures, and flyers.

I don't have a problem with the position that the NRA takes in that they don't want to get involved in local political races. The problem that I do have is that they claim to want to be a "grass roots" organization and then ignore not only the roots themselves, but opportunities to grow in that concept. They ignored the possibility of local organization with local members, local fundraising, local politicians being friendly with their organization in order to promote shooting sports and gun rights locally. They have spurned people at the local level, even being condescending to them, chastening them.

Last year, I contacted the NRA to see what they do in terms of local elections. I posted that here, I do believe, along with my reactions to the communications received. Particularly disturbing was the way the local rep just ignored most of what I had conveyed and obtusely clung to his narrow reading of what I had written. I had met him before and contacted him after my initial conversation with the NRA-ILA, because after all, he was the LOCAL rep. That conversation via email didn't go very well, in my opinion.

After all of that, I decided to let my membership lapse, let it all go, and join a different organization, which I did. Last Friday I saw the local NRA rep at a gun shop near Goldsboro. I decided not to communicate with him as soon as I saw him, figuring that it would be preferrable to a conversation in which my opinion or commentary was solicited. Unfortunately, he recognized me, came over and greeted me. At that point, I was attempting to be very pleasant and make small talk. He complained about how politicians are contacting him because it is election season and were seeking the same thing I did last year, though I doubt they had the same ideas I had.

He couldn't leave it alone. He had to go dig up the topic I buried. He started asking me about our communications last year, so I let him have it all. Hey asked, so I answered. He kept saying, "It's a free country" in response to my opinions. That was very condescending and dismissive. Even my normally quiet and more tolerant wife thought he was arrogant. Finally the conversation was over and we left.

This guy could not let it drop. He emailed me the next day and chastised me. Normally, I would not say anything about this publicly, but the "arrogant jerk", as my wife put it, had to go and include the NRA Headquarters representative (cc:) in on a private conversation. It would be one thing if he passed the information along after the fact with explanation or even passed along the conversation for follow up. As far as I am concerned, email is not necessarily a private medium and subject to being passed along. However, when you are giving a supposedly private lecture, it is not follow up to something already public knowledge, and the lecture continues in like manner, then it is open for public viewing as far as I am concerned.

Here is the email conversation in order:

------------------

From: Kirk Smith
To: Troy LaPlante
Cc: Kirk D. Smith ; Roulette, Anthony
Sent: Friday, June 02, 2006 1:31 PM
Subject: WT's Gun Store Visit


Dear Troy,

It was good seeing you yesterday at WT's Guns in Goldsboro.

I am sorry you continue to hold a very bitter resentment toward the NRA in their failure to support your bid for local office.

In my former life, I use to advise four star generals (many you see on T.V.) on very unique matters regarding human relations, so this advice comes free of charge. With your aspirations to higher office, you need to understand: 1) you will not always get what you want; 2) rejection happens often and; 3) you may wish to seriously reconsider burning all of your bridges.

As always, remember, Teach Freedom!


Kirk D. Smith
NRA Field Representative
Eastern North Carolina

PO BOX 297
Broadway, NC 27505

919-258-5576

"Freedom is not something to be secured in any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day. And freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction" ~ RONALD REAGAN ~

Founding Patriot Samuel Adams noted, "It does not take a majority to prevail . . . but rather an irate tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."

------------------

----- Original Message -----
From: Troy LaPlante
To: Kirk Smith
Cc: ARoulette@nrahq.org
Sent: Saturday, June 03, 2006 12:57 AM
Subject: Re: WT's Gun Store Visit

In response to your three points:

1. DUH.

2. I am used to it, so no surprise there. This was not a matter of rejection, by the way. It was a matter of dismay with self contradiction, inaccurate statements, and hypocrisy. It was the attitude I received, the inability to comprehend the plain English in which I wrote, and the lack of truth as to the "resources" excuse that I heard at the time and again yesterday. I find it amusing that for people who don't have the resources, you sure had the time and money to continuously ask for donations on professionally printed letters, envelopes, brochures, flyers, etc., for postage to mail the solicitations and early renewal notices; and for the resources to compile a local mailing list of NRA members to solicit me on a LOCAL level to donate money to a local organization. The fact that my name was on a list that I did not choose to be on and was locally solicited to help with a fund raiser was fine with the NRA, apparently. But to do far less work when the raw costs and then some would have been covered to help an NRA member in good standing on a local level takes too much for resources? You probably spent far more time thinking about and composing the email you just sent and the others last year than you would have to help build a bridge. THAT was my biggest point, which was repeatedly ignored when you and I conversed via email and was summarily dismissed in yesterday's conversation. It is a paradigm similar to "big government"

Your organization lost more in membership dues, contributions, future political support, and PR than you would have ever invested in your "resources". Not surprisingly, I have since read the same dismay expressed by a lot of other people who have witnessed or experienced similar things and are totally disenchanted with the NRA. I used to wear my NRA cap happily, now, it sits in a closet. I used to proudly put the "Join the NRA" logo on all of my web sites. I was looking at a lifetime membership. I concluded, however, that if this is how the organization treated members and chose to focus its energies, then I had no use for said organization. Notice that I did not say in that conclusion anything about having a set policy regarding areas in which the NRA-ILA would get involved. That was never a problem in my estimation. However, the methodology was.

On a side note, I find it amusing that local elections and government are of no concern to the NRA-ILA, I was told, yet at the exact same time it was national news that the NRA was changing its convention location out of protest of LOCAL ordinances. I laughed quite a bit over that ironic twist.

3. I didn't have a bridge, I was attempting to build one. Y'all decided not to have the bridge. Remember that bridges are a conveyance of traffic in both directions. Your comment was rather assuming in the referencing the consideration of burning "all" bridges. Oft times, burning bridges is necessary. To teach otherwise is to teach a secularist view, to which I am constrained from subscribing. It is assuming in that you presume I have even remotely considered burning all bridges. I certainly have not done so in life, but rather quite to the contrary. You can not burn a bridge that is not built, and you can not keep a bridge that you are bid to burn. It is not theologically accurate to ascribe the anti-pyro policy to my own life. Thankfully, I have never been disappointed when I have been compelled to set a torch to a so called bridge.

Bitter resentment? No. I just have absolutely no use for hypocrisy and bureaucracy to the extent that I witnessed. Like I said in my emails at the time, you probably don't understand what I have conveyed in the least bit if that is all you got out of our conversation yesterday. I tried to avoid the topic of conversation entirely, but you brought it up. Never ask a question to which you really don't want to hear the answer. I planned on having a pleasant conversation about IDPA, the weather, shooting, whatever...or even none at all. I would have been just as happy either way.

By the way, I find it in poor taste and downright rude to send a personal note with cc: to others. But, hey, it's a free country, as you kept saying yesterday. I found that rather condescending, as I did your latest email. Both were unsolicited and unnecessary.

I may not have had the ear of generals, but I have advised many theologians across the globe on issues more important than "human relations", so this one is free. One bit of advice I have given and still do is to shake the dust off your feet and keep on going. I often take my own advice.

Founding Patriot Samuel Adams noted, "It does not take a majority to prevail . . . but rather an irate tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." ------ Very applicable to my point.

Troy

------------------

----- Original Message -----
From: Kirk Smith
To: Troy LaPlante
Cc: Kirk D. Smith ; Roulette, Anthony
Sent: Sunday, June 04, 2006 11:57 AM
Subject: I am Sorry

Dear Troy,

Please understand this, if the NRA was to support every "member in good standing" in their local elections, we would not be able to take on the United Nations, the George Soros's, Rebecca Peters, Sarah Brady, Chuck Shumer, animal rights activists, et al. I am sorry you don't understand this, unfortunately there are more important things, than just "you."

Your attempt to compare the Columbus Ohio ordinance with your personal mailing request is vacuous. They are not the same. . . One involved the total disregard of the Second Amendment rights of an entire community whereas your request was for personal political benefit. Sorry, not the same.

I wish you the best in your campaign. I am sorry that our organization does not live up to your personal expectations. Remember, don't burn those bridges.

As always, Teach Freedom!

Kirk D. Smith
NRA Field Representative
Eastern North Carolina

------------------

----- Original Message -----
From: Troy LaPlante
To: Kirk Smith
Cc: ARoulette@nrahq.org
Sent: Sunday, June 04, 2006 12:43 PM
Subject: Re: I am Sorry


I do not agree with the statement you made at all regarding local elections. It is the local level where people are actually involved. recruit fellow members, pass local ordinances, and have influence on the region. Furthermore, you have totally missed the point of how to work at the local level. YOU, Kirk, do NOT work to battle Soros, the UN, Shumer, etc. You are a regional rep. I am in your region. I fully understand the national influence and politics, having studied them for years. I also know that all politics start locally. Locally is where parties most frequently gather. Locally is where the "grass roots" are. The NRA-ILA web site makes a big deal out of grass roots efforts. If locally was not where political influence happens, your own organization would make no claim to grass roots efforts. You have utterly missed the import of my previous communications and the assertions therein, which is obviously demonstrated in your first paragraph.

Dude, you are clueless if you think what I wrote and compared was "vacuous". What an ignorant statement. I was talking about the same freakin' thing and preventing that from happening in MY community. Having people standing up against such a thing in every community is what prevents the very thing you call vacuous and is the very embodiment of grass roots. To think otherwise is entirely myopic. Again, hypocrisy. You have ignored a pertinent statement in my last email. Had you read and comprehended rather than summarily dismissed it, you would not have written your last email. I will not repeat it, since apparently you really do not care, as you have demonstrated.

The myopia continues in the lack of comprehension as to the ramifications of pissing off the grass roots people. Your organization would have much better influence, reputation, and cash flow by paying attention to the very thing you call vacuous. Instead, you lose membership, regular donations, reputation, the very bridges you continue to edify.

You are also mistaken about the concept of it being about "me". It never was about me. I didn't run for office because of me. The whole concept of having a conservative in office at every level and maintaining the very freedoms that the NRA is supposed to stand for should be the goal of a lobbying group or an organization. I did not run for office for personal political benefit. I could not care less about personal benefit. I cared about the collective good of the community. Considering the fact that there were several socialists running for office at the local level in my town, I decided that I could not let this happen unopposed. This was much to my personal inconvenience and financial comfort. AND, original inquiry to and my subsequent communication with the NRA was not about me in the least. If I was concerned only about myself, I would have refrained from saying anything. Instead, I was concerned about this sort of thing nationwide. If you think that all I have written was about "me", then you are a hell of a lot more condescending that I originally thought. I notice that you still have ignored what I have written and simply restated the same philosophy. Fine. That attitude is why I am no longer an NRA member. It is also the same reason I know a lot of other former members or those who refuse to join in the first place.

Since it is obvious that you have yet to grasp the relevency of my points because of willfully ignoring them, this will be the final time I am going to address the subject. AND, since you have demonstrated little of the human relations skills you claim to be able to advise four star generals with, I shall not continue to read your condescension further. Again, as far as I was concerned, this matter was closed and over with. But NO, you had to go and dig it up again and continue to do so, even continuing to rudely send cc email. That last sentence by itself is sufficient reason to be pissed with the NRA's local dealings.

------------------

That is the end of the conversation, as far as I am concerned. I did not want this conversation. I did not ask for it. I don't go looking for this sort of thing. Unfortunately, this sort of thing finds me fairly easily. There are more specific details that I shall not write about, just because I don't want to contribute to the mild carpal tunnel syndrome that my doctor seems to think I may have developed.

I have never been one to swim with the current. I have always been one to do the Robert Frost thing and take the road less traveled.

It is sad to me, however, that a few bone heads have really tweaked me to the point of never wanting to be a partner with what I beleive is a worth cause. In the course of such communications, the NRA has alienated a potential life long contributor, supporter, private recruiter, and possible political ally. It has already cost them more just in contributions and membership dues than it would have taken them in "resources" to have been friendly rather than adversarial. Not only have they lost my support but that of several people I know as a result. Furthermore, there are others I have read behind on the internet who have similar disdain for what they have witnessed in the NRA over the years and have also dropped membership or will never become a member.

K-Mart never prepared for the advent of Wal-Mart and got slaughtered in the marketplace. Wal-Mart gave better service, prices, and convenience. K-Mart never adapted well and pleased its customers. Will the same happen to the NRA? Time will tell. I will have my little part to do with it, either way.

There are several businesses, even right here locally, that have lost hundreds or thousands of my dollars for the simple reason that they earned my disdain. I don't shop at one local grocery store and I have stopped frequenting one local Mexican restaurant within the past year alone. I have left the Republican Party and I have left the NRA. I have no regrets doing so, except that none of this had to happen. However, since it has, it does not bother me and will not affect my life either way.