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Archive for May, 2011

As Long as the Mutants Re-Elect Me

The federal government is threatening not to fund the cleanup of meth labs, which are considered hazardous waste sites. Of course people value their genetic composition enough to get sucked into an outcry against federal cuts if it boils down to this. Cleanup requires “specially trained workers in protective suits,” and the waste cannot be landfilled. The article in the Asheville Citizen-Times does not identify the requiring entity, but we may guess who it is.

Whether a local meth lab really constitutes interstate commerce, and whether black market deals legitimately constitute commerce may be discussed elsewhere. Whether the state should fire teachers or clean meth labs, regardless of popular opinion, does pertain to whether or not the state should continue funding centers at universities, corporate welfare, and various museums.

Too often missing in budget discussions is padding, whether to justify existing budgets or promote oneself by demonstrating what is now called “building capacity.” I spoke with a gentleman this weekend who is now retired from a company he praised highly. The only thing he didn’t like was the way it managed its federal contracts. He likened the antics of those who negotiated with the government to “taking candy from a retarded child,” and added, “It’s the same everywhere.”

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Smarter than That?

The notorious Asheville Police Department evidence room is about to be audited for a mere cost of $175,000. Citizens are miffed that the independent audit is being conducted by a former employee of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department. Both departments have recently made news for losing large quantities of criminal evidence.

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Thus Spake Zarathustra

Senator Kay Hagan has positively identified the remains in the infamous photos as belonging to Osama bin Laden.

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From the Strange Land of Paper

Representative Heath Shuler’s last campaign allegedly failed to report about a million dollars of spending. This mystified his opponent, Jeff Miller, who one may surmise smelled the numbers were not adding up. It didn’t catch the official attention of the professional financing firm handling Shuler’s records, though. The amount only constituted about half of the campaign’s expenditures. Miller is not concerned. He is of the opinion the money was spent so late in the campaign it was wasted, anyway.

For the record, a scapegoat has been identified and fired. Although threats of fining the campaign loom, said professional company’s insurance should cover the costs.

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Crime Doesn’t Pay What You Can

The Asheville Citizen-Times printed a conversation starter. It raises questions common to those in the parable of the Prodigal Son: Who is worse, the spendthrift runaway or the indignant, dependable, responsible son? After all, Kahlil Gibran argued if one’s brother stumbled it was the fault of the person who left the stumbling block in his path. I am currently serving out a term of sitting duckness because our society teaches that he who doesn’t double-check his car doors should be processed for enticing another to a life of crime.

Contrary to commentary I posted yesterday, the multimillion HUD funding received by the City of Asheville will go toward revamping the existing community center on Livingston Street, and not toward the new performing arts center. Highlighted in the renovations of the building, which is much more solid than the digs affordable by folks working three jobs, is future tenant Green Opportunities. For those into collectivist mission statements, theirs reads:

Green Opportunities (GO) is an Asheville-based, community-based development organization dedicated to improving lives, communities and the health of the planet through innovative green collar job training and placement programs.

GO targets dropouts and ex-cons.

“Great!” cry the bleeding-heart liberals. “The program reduces tipping fees incurred from sending perfectly good people to the landfill!”

“Unfair!” cry the fiscally-conservative prudes. “I’ve been saving the last thirty years, my honors student has been working since he was sixteen, and we still don’t have enough to send him to college – and here we are paying taxes so we can teach people that crime does not pay!”

“Crazy!” cry the geeky libertarians. “What scientific data indicates government buildings create a discerning and responsible society?”

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You Decide

Al Slagle, who serves as chairman of Franklin’s steep slope committee, had the following to say of the work in progress:

We believe we’re submitting a proposal that’s fair and that’s technically and scientifically based, and which will help promote public safety and minimize property damage without being unduly burdensome on the citizens of the county.

Have Franklinites finally discovered the key to broad-brushing everybody into pigeonholes to create a just society? Or are these guys just playing like all the rest?

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Government You Can Trust – Not

House Bill 925, which would have transferred Asheville’s water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District without compensation has been modified. It now only calls for a study. City staff advises this is not cause for anybody to let their guard down.

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Exemplary Budget Shakeup

Polk County Commissioner Tom Pack drafted his own proposed budget to compete with that prepared by the county manager and staff. He suggested a tax decrease, which would amount to decreasing the property tax rate from 52 to 51 cents. To do so, he would reduce the county’s fund balance, Pack arguing the county has been overcharging citizens. Pack believes 60% of surplus revenue should go toward short-term capital improvements, and the remainder should be set aside in the fund balance as savings for larger projects. Pack would also adjust pay so some public safety officers wouldn’t be earning less than janitors.

Detractors say Pack is crack, and his plan will result in a trainwreck after this year. Pack says the taxpayers should get a refund next year if his peers “don’t try to spend every dime.” Commissioner Renee McDermott’s criticism is telling:

He guts the planning department’s funds for the comprehensive plan and unified development ordinance (UDO) in attempt to cripple that work. He and Ted Owens want to make Polk County an easier place for housing development, even though we have up to 6,000 approved or in the works lots standing idle. He also cuts planning board funds for attorneys’ fees, further crippling the comprehensive plan and UDO.

Sources: (1, 2, 3)

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Too Many Ways to Take This One

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Michael Capps wants to see how many community members would volunteer themselves and their horses to assist the sheriff’s office in various community activities.

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Reform Continues to Destroy Healthcare Competition

Almost daily in the news of late are articles expressing concerns about Mission Hospitals’ predatory practices, gobbling up all the little healthcare offices. On the flip side are the small practices’ concerns that they will not be able to continue to provide service unless they surrender.

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