Puppetmaster Goes for Broke

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If you're not familiar with Guidestar, you should be. Among other things, it's a free and easy-to-use resource for tracking who gives money to which non-profit organizations. For example, organizations such as the John Locke Puppetshow can be examined to see where their money is coming from - and how it's being spent.

In 2004, Art "the Puppetmaster" Pope contributed $1,696,142 to keep his think tank thinking. In 2005, he upped the ante by nearly a cool million, coming in at $2,625,807. That amount is more than 80% of the entire $3.15 million operating budget of the Puppetshow.

Save the Land

Via Ex

Longleaf pines at Weymouth Woods

Reminders from Land for Tomorrow and NC Conservation Network that there are a series of hearings coming up on land and water conservation.

After the failure in the last session of what seemed like a well-supported effort to get a conservation bond before the voters, the GA set up a Land and Water Conservation Study Commission to look at the best approach and gather a little feedback. (Here's a link to the commission's last set of discussions.)

The study commission is holding a series of hearings starting Thursday in Asheville and moving across the state.

RSS and the GA

Please to see that as part of the spiffying up of the General Assembly's Web site, they've added a set of RSS feeds. There is no reason all state agencies can't follow suit and many plan to. It may not seem like a large leap, but in terms of expanding the civic space online it is.

Courting Google

I'm still bitter about Governor Easley getting down on his knees and begging Michael Dell to open a plant in Winston-Salem. I'm not against business, we need it, I love it, and I'm glad every time a new job is created here. However, the deal with Michael Dell was a deal from hell.

On the one side we saw billionaire Michael Dell, who heads up the WalMart of computer manufacturing, and is a non-stop money machine for the Republican Party, twist the arm of Gov. Easley with the promise of 1,500 jobs for a part of the state that was relatively prosperous. On the other side we saw Governor Easley give the billionaire from Austin $240mm in tax breaks with the promise that Dell could fire up to 40% of the people he hired and still get the payola.

The whole deal left a bad taste in my mouth.

However, I'm in support of Gov. Easley's courtship with Google, and let me tell you why.

Military Families

I just spoke with a customer/friend of mine. Her husband is an Army officer. She said that on New Year's Eve a group of them were sitting around talking and they all agreed that Bush was the worst president in the history of the United States. They don't say it in public, but they talk about it together. Also, this morning I received an e-mail from another customer/friend. He husband is a USMA (West Point) graduate. He wants to get out of the Army. You know he can't just quit. The powers that be have to allow him to get out. I can remember when I first met him and he was all Army all the time. Things have changed in the military. In public they respect the president, but in private they are asking, "What the hell is he doing?"


North Carolina Tax Credit for Working Poor

Recently a hint was dropped by Governor Easley that he'd like the Legislature to consider granting a tax credit for the working poor as an alternative to allowing the one-quarter percent sales tax to lapse. Republicans, like minority leader Sen. Phil Berger, immediately took a shot at the governor's trial balloon. However, the idea now seems to be gaining real traction in Raleigh.

In the past the legislature has give the idea a cold shoulder, even though a version of it has been enacted in nineteen other states. Accounting for the warmer reception this time around is a budget forecast with an estimated surplus between $200mm to $260mm, while the cost of the tax credit for the working poor is estimated to be between $70mm to $140mm.

Of course the continued surplus depends on that one-quarter percent sales tax as well as a temporary state income tax surcharge, both of which are set to expire on July 1st. However, Gov. Easley seems to be looking only at the continuation of the sales tax as the single revenue source for the tax credit.

Sean Dalton Finds Another Job on the Right

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSean Dalton, former Chief of Staff for former Congressman Charles Taylor, has moved on. He's waved goodbye to Charles Taylor's right wing stances in favor of the even wingnuttier positions of his new boss, Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-GA), who once threw a party called "Medicare Part D: Unprecedented Success Event".

Representative Gingrey and his mustache sponsored "H.R.4013 : To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the approval of any drug that infringes the right to life, and for other purposes." He couldn't find any co-sponsors for this one.

He and his mustache were on board with the frightfully magnetic Marilyn Musgrave's attempt to codify bigotry into the Constitution in the form of the Anti-marriage amendment.

This next great bill couples the chic of immigrant-hating with the sleaze of voter disenfranchisement, "H.R.4174 : To amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require an individual to provide proof that the individual is a citizen of the United States as a condition of registering to vote in elections for Federal office, and for other purposes."

According to Hoyle

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The Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill has written an excellent article about the mess that is North Carolina's tax system. Go read the whole story - it's well worth the trouble - and keep your eyes open for some lively quotes from NC State Senator David Hoyle.

GASTONIA - N.C. officials have talked for years about modernizing a tax system that dates from the Great Depression. David Hoyle wants to get on with it.

"We've done some tinkering around the edges, but never really dug into the problem," says Hoyle, a Democratic state senator from Gaston County. "We didn't take on the tough things."

More on Mike Munger

Back in December, I wrote an entry about Michael Munger, who is hoping to run for NC Governor on the Libertarian ticket. I gave him a deservedly hard time, but I want to circle back with a few additional comments. But mostly I want to say how much I like his style.

In response to my post, Mr. Munger wrote an extended entry on his own blog, which I very much enjoyed reading. You can find it here.

Basically a fair presentation, I'd say. Anglico lists several of my issue claims, and mocks them, but he is at least focusing on stuff I really did say. And since some of the mocking is actually funny, I have to give him credit: good on ya, man!

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