Saturday, February 24, 2018

School shootings

With the recent school shooting in Florida we seem to have another opportunity for the far left to turn a tragedy into a political battle instead of discussing the steps that could have been taken to prevent this tragedy and those that could prevent the next.

Take, for instance, mental health. That generally is a subject we avoid discussing. The Florida shooter had a long history of anti-social behavior. He was on strong meds. He killed small animals for fun. He was expelled from school. Police visited his home 39 times. The FBI was told that this criminal was planning to be a professional school shooter. None of that made it into the existing, current background check system.

Then there was a Florida sheriff's deputy on duty in the school. It seems he was hiding outside during the shooting. Recent news reports show that the first responders took an inordinate amount of time before entering the building. Not good.

On the chatlist last week a poster suggested repealing the Second Amendment, the one that says the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. The phrase well-regulated does not mean controlled. It means well-practiced, or well-drilled. In colonial America, all able-bodied males were part of the militia during threat of war, and all were expected to own, and be proficient with a firearm.

The Second Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights, it restricts the government from interfering with rights. The Second Amendment is not about hunting. The Second Amendment is about the defense of the Republic. America was founded by a bunch of insurrectionists, and they wanted to make sure the citizenry retained a military force to guard the Constitution. 262 million people were murdered by their own peacetime governments in the 20th century after being disarmed by their governments. Let us not head down that path in America.

The first amendment covers new technologies like the internet. The fourth amendment includes modern items like cell phones. Likewise, the second amendment updates with new technologies. The second amendment is not restricted to muzzle-loading firearms and swords. That scary-looking AR-15 so-called assalt rifle? It was first available for purchase in the US 57 years ago, and it is not an assault rifle. For true assault rifles one needs look to those used by our military, or perhaps look in the homes of most Swiss males who keep their assault rifles after completing military training.

There is evil in the world. Individuals intent on killing others will always find a means to accomplish that. How do we deal with it? Not by one political party repeatedly calling to restrict our liberties. Lets look at our cultural morals, at our treatment of the mentally ill, at our family values, at the entertainment industry that has no shame, at a drug industry that depends on ever-increasing sales of powerful psychiatric medicines, at a news industry that promotes citizen dissention to generate sales, and at the dwindling numbers of Americans attending weekly church services. Therein lies the true way to minimize future atrocities.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Commissioners spending money

I just finished looking through the latest Chatham County Commissioner's Meeting Agenda for the January 16th meeting. A couple items caught my eye:

First, an organization called Go Global NC seems to be asking for money to send local government officials on a boondoggle to Mexico to participate in an 'in-depth program for economic and workforce development', at a meager cost of just $6,375 per person. Each participant gets nine days in Mexico, including transportation, meals, and 'other expenses'.

Other than that this seems like a nine-day vacation for government officials, the US State Department has just imposed Travel Warnings on Mexico, particularly on the areas around Mexico City (Level 2 - increased caution due to crime) along with five Mexican states who were stamped Do Not Travel (Level 4), similar to Syria and Somalia.

I hope the Commissioners decide not to spend my money on this visit.

Second, in other Commissioner spending, the County is basically giving away the former Henry Siler School in Siler City to a group that will put up low income housing.

Low income housing may or may not be a worthy goal; it has not seemed to work in the long term for as long as governments have been trying it.

My understanding, however, is that a group tried to purchase the former Henry Siler School site (cash money to the County) but that the Commissioners did not like the idea of having someone pay for the land and then try to make a profit on it. If that is not the case, I would be interested in hearing a more complete explanation.

Monday, October 16, 2017

1964 Civil Rights Act

I need to speak out regarding the 'Ox gored - Cow poked' comment on the Chatlist from Brian Terkowski on October 16. Recall the discussion:

Kish said: 
"Democrats who voted AGAINST the Civil Rights Act of 1964..."

Tarkowski said:
"The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by majority votes of both parties. The “Nay” votes came from a majority of Democratic (93%-95%) and all Republicans (100%) of Southern legislators. Southern being defined as the 11 states of the Confederacy.
When you mis-state something as basic as this, it calls into question all of your other assertions.
While I was online I Googled “useful idiot”. Have you?"

So, lets look at the  numbers and draw our own conclusions.

First, the actual votes in the House pf Representatives were:
For passage - 153 democrats (62% of democrats), 136 republicans (80% of republicans)
Against passage - 91 democrats (38% of democrats), 35 republicans (20% of republicans)

From North Carolina -
     For passage: none.
     Against passage: Bonner [D], Fountain [D], Henderson [D], Cooley [D], Scott [D], Kornegay [D], Lennon [D], Whitener [D], Taylor [D], Broyhill [R], Jonas [R]; 9 democrats, 2 republicans against the Civil Rights Act.

Second, the actual votes in the Senate were:
For passage - 46 democrats (69% of democrats), 27 republicans (82% of republicans)
Against passage - 21 democrats (31% of democrats), 6 republicans (18% of republicans)

From North Carolina -
     For passage: none
     Against passage: Ervin [D], Jordan [D]; both democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act.

Kish and Tarkowski appear to agree on the facts about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Tarkowski seems to want us to disregard everything Kish said by attacking one of Kish's statements.

Perhaps Tarkowski's useful idiots are those who blindly follow the leadership of either Party without checking the facts.

All my posts are on my blog at

Senate vote:
House vote:

Jordan Lake Drinking Water

A friend of mine mentioned to me that Chatham County does not have a representative for Jordan Lake water quality.

I did some research and found it is true. These are the reps to the Jordan Lake Nutrient Scientific Advisory Board: Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Elon/Gibsonville/Graham/Mebane, Greensboro, NCSU, NC DOT, and a non-voting member of the Falls Lake watershed.

That is really disappointing. From the online documents I found, Chatham County gets 6 million gallons of water per day from Jordan Lake. But the people who drink that water and the County where the Lake resides have no voting representative on the Advisory Board. Does this make sense?

The Legislature adopted the Jordan Lake Rules in 2009 that were an attempt to clean up pollution going into the lake. Towns upstream of the Lake and in the Triangle complained about the cost of treating their water so it would not pollute the lake, and so the Legislature has never fully implemented the rules. We, the Chatham County residents who drink the water and reside by the lake, are impacted by government lack of action and lack of representation.

This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue. Both parties have plenty of blame to share when it comes to Jordan Lake pollution. Under Democrat control, the Legislature did not fully implement the rules. Under Republican control, the Legislature has tried silly ideas such as the Solar-Bee experiment, and recently explored using chemicals in the lake to treat algae. It is not suprising that the chemical lobbyist supporting chemical treatment was a former legislator, Harold Brubaker [R-Randolph County]. Gladys Robinson [D-Guilford] has complained that treating water going into Jordan Lake 'does nothing for our teachers'. Rick Gunn [R-Alamance/Randolph] sponsored S515, the Jordan Lake non-quality act that would permanently put the Jordan Lake Rules on hold. Upon reviewing the legislative actions of our own representatives, Senator Valerie Foushee [D] and Representative Robert Reives [D] I found that neither has introduced any legislation to clean up Jordan Lake.

From 1993 to 2013 the Governor and Legislature was solidly Democrat, from 2013 until now the legislature has been solidly Republican. Blame them both.

Elections are coming up in 2018. Know the facts, and understand what is important to you. Vote accordingly, and do not blindly follow a party line vote.

Jordan Lake Rules:

Current water allocations:

Nutrient Scientific Advisory Board:


Harold Brubaker:

Gladys Robinson:

Robert Reives legislation:

Valerie Foushee legislation:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Patrick Henry in Chatham County Schools

This past summer, rising Chatham County 12th grade honors english students were required to read Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly. Here is a link to the requirements:

Students had to take notes regarding quotes from the book, and then give their own commentary on those quotes. So far, so good (although Frankenstein seems a weird choice for a summer honors reading course).

The course materials provided an example for student commentary. For a 'quote', the example uses 'Give me liberty or give me death'.

Now, dear readers, do you remember the full quote from Patrick Henry, one of our nation's founding fathers? The final paragraph from his speech to the Second Virginia Convention in March of 1775 was a rallying cry to raise a militia in response to King George III's military threats against the colonists. Here is the full quote:

"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

The Chatham County school instructions then give a suggested interpretation of this founding fathers quote:

'Patrick Henry really was an extremist. I can’t believe he really wanted to die if the Colonies didn’t declare a revolution. There was no negotiating with him. He was a warmonger!'

I am disgusted with that example. Examples are meant to instruct, and this example instructs disrespect for our nation's founding.

Is this REALLY what our Chatham County schools think of Patrick Henry? Is this what WE as Chatham County taxpayers think of our founding fathers and the War for Independence?

If so, we as a County, and we as a Nation, are in trouble.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Chatham County School Grades

Our local newspaper recently released the 2016 grades for each of the Chatham County schools. Despite an upbeat approach, detailed reading of the article (a copy is at gave me the impression that we could find improvements in education for our next generation. The grades were:

Margaret Pollard (6-8): B 
Pittsboro Elementary (K-5): B 
Silk Hope (K-8): B 
Chatham Central (9-12): B 
Northwood (9-12): B 
Perry Harrison (K-5): B 

Moncure (K-8): C 
North Chatham (K-5): C 
Siler City Elementary (K-5): C 
Bennett (K-8): C 
Bonlee (K-8): C 
Jordan Matthews (9-12): C 
Horton (6-8): C 
J.S. Waters (K-8): C 

Virginia Cross Elementary (K-5): D 
Chatham Middle (6-8): D 

SAGE Academy (Alternative 9-12): Not Listed 
Science and Technology: Not Listed

That got me to wondering about how much we spend on education. From the School Board website, I found that there are about 8,700 students in Chatham schools, supported by an education establishment of 1,190 employees. So, there is one staff member for every 7.3 students. It would be nice to know how many are support staff versus teaching staff, but I did not see that breakout on the school board website.

Total non-capital budget for the school system is over $93 million dollars this year (see Put another way, each student receives on average $10,670 per year in tax dollar support.

This year's school calendar shows 170 school days, with an additional two early release days. Guessing an average of 7 hours per day in class, that means each student should learn something for about 1,190 hours. Again, looking at that another way, each learning hour averages almost $9 per hour per student.

Median salary for teachers is roughly $45,000 per year. Teachers spend about 8 more days per year than do the students. Allowing for a 9-hour day on average to allow for prep time and grading, that suggests each teacher works a bit over 1,600 hours in the school year. A standard business work year with holidays and including 2 weeks vacation is 1,920 hours. Using the standard work year, each teacher works for about 83% of a standard work year. IF that 83% were a full work year, the equivalent salary would be $54,200. Not bad.

So what? We spend A LOT of money on educating students. I suspect most of our teachers are dedicated and hard-working professionals doing their best. But, something is not working right, or our Chatham County scores would be higher, and as a nation we would be out-scoring more of our world competitors in math and the sciences. I don't think more money is the answer to our education problems.

My suspicion is that we are asking our education system to do in excess of what it can deliver. I am  guessing that a lot of our education issues are based more on parental lack of oversight and encouragement, students spending too much in and out of class time flipping through websites and messaging friends, courses that are more politically correct than rigorous, and a society that glorifies sports and entertainment over mathematics, science, farming, or trades.

One of my least-favorite public figures once wrote a book that claimed it takes a village to raise a child. Maybe so; maybe it takes public figures, entertainers, sports figures, journalists, clergy, peer groups and others along with parents to encourage students to study, work hard, respect their teachers, and understand the value of their elementary and secondary educations.

And maybe it takes all of us in Chatham County to understand where our tax dollars go, and then to help determine if funds are being spent wisely. Chatham County - get involved! Research school board candidates, go to school board meetings, understand the budgets, root out the facts versus hype and hysteria, and make solid and well-reasoned selections when voting for school board candidates.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Regarding Chatlist #5938 League of Women Voters

A big thankyou to Carol Hay, Brad Page, and Ms. Bair for confirming what I said about the League of Women Voters. While offering no facts to dispute my position that the LWV is not non-partisan, they did state that the league supports abortion, abhors voter integrity (voter ID), blames the Republicans for destroying bipartisanship, and so on. A true non-partisan organization would provide the policies of all parties, and would welcome opposing viewpoints to present all sides of an issue to our voting citizens. Likewise, their personal attacks on me are an attempt to mislead the general public on the policies of the LWV and their membership.

Not examples of what I would call non-partisan.

Again, and again, I will continue to say that voters need to do their own research on candidates, platforms, and individually determine how they cast their votes. Please Do Not blindly accept what the parties, and their collaborators, would like you to believe. Regarding organizations like the League of Women Voters, check out their website. Try to discuss opposing points of view and see how well you are received.