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Is the Lottery Illegal?

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Now that the North Carolina Legislature has passed the ill-advised lottery bill, and we’re well on the way to having what appears to be the most wasteful and corrupt lottery in the land, storms are appearing on the horizon. The biggest storm, right now, is a lawsuit against the legislature charging that the lottery was illegally passed. Senator Eddie Goodall of Union County has written an op-ed detailing the basic problem with the Lottery’s passing. The problem is constitutional in nature, so I’ll quote not only from the op-ed, but also from the North Carolina Constitution.

“After the first reading of the lottery act when it was introduced, the House passed its version of the lottery on April 6 with a 61-59 vote on second reading and a voice vote on third reading. The Senate passed its version of the lottery Aug. 30 when the lieutenant governor broke a 24-24 tie to give the bill a one-vote majority.”

That, from the op-ed. Now, the North Carolina Constitution:

“No laws shall be enacted to raise money on the credit of the State, or to pledge the faith of the State directly or indirectly for the payment of any debt, or to impose any tax upon the people of the State, or to allow the counties, cities, or towns to do so, unless the bill for the purpose shall have been read three several times in each house of the General Assembly and passed three several readings, which readings shall have been on three different days, and shall have been agreed to by each house respectively, and unless the yeas and nays on the second and third readings of the bill shall have been entered on the journal.”

Since the third reading in the House with a voice vote, the “yeas and nays” were not “entered on the journal” on that vote. This is NOT in keeping with the proper procedures of the NC Constitution. Any bill passed in any method that is not in keeping with proper procedures of the NC Constitution is invalid and illegal. Thus, the lottery is not valid law, and any advancement of it should be halted immediately.
Either our Constitution is the strict law by which all government activities and laws in this state must be governed, or it is nothing at all. The whole reason we have a constitution is to define how our government is to operate, and what limitations are placed on it. If the current Legislature means to ignore our Constitution, then it should be removed. Considering how much it has ignored our Constitution in the recent past, especially regarding election law, I think we’re nearing a time when we should consider calling in the US Department of Justice or the federal court system to enforce the law.

Mike Easley – NC’s Jimmy Carter

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North Carolina’s Governor Mike Easley is a self-serving, camera-hogging, intellectual lightweight. It’s really sad. His main qualification for being elected in the first place was that he used public funds to put his own face on TV across the state while he was our useless Attorney General. At no time during his governorship has he distinguished himself in any way except to raise taxes and fight for more money out of our pockets through a lottery. The only ideal you can identify that Easley holds is that more of YOUR money should become state money.
Easley has done other things, of course. North Carolina is foremost in the nation for making citizen’s lives harder to make it look like something is being done about meth labs. Thanks to Easley and his ilk, the law-abiding among us are required to buy our cold medicine from behind the counter at the pharmacy. We also have higher-paid state employees. Wheee!
Mike Adams, today, has a bit to say about Mike Easley’s veto of a bill that would have helped North Carolina reach its needed number of teachers in the future. The bill would have labelled North Carolina teachers as “highly qualified” if they had achieved that distinction in another state. Simply stated, if you’re “highly qualified” in one of the other 49 states, you should be at least “highly qualified” in one of the WORST education states in the nation, right? Easley doesn’t think so. He thinks such a move would make North Carolina’s educational standards the lowest in the nation. That doesn’t even logically make sense. Obviously, he was a good student of public education.
This brain-dead moron actually got re-elected, too. Of course, I blame that on North Carolina’s Republican Party, which seems to be as incompetent at getting elected in this state as the Democrats are at running it.
There is hope, though. Easley is a Governor in the same vein that Jimmy Carter was President. He’s useless, and has done nothing good to distinguish himself in history. He may turn out to be one of the top-three things to ever happen to the North Carolina GOP in decades.

Tar Heel Blogwatch – How Did I Miss This?

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Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Raleigh’s News and Observer has a blog just for watching North Carolina blogs. It’s called Tar Heel Blogwatch, and it seems to be a good place to add to my watchlist. They’ve even got an entry pointing to a post by my friend Sarah Ovenall. I’ll be watching this page. You probably should, as well.

Lottery on Verge of Failing – YAY!

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The prospects (this year) of North Carolina getting a lottery are walking a thin line. According to this article in the News and Observer, it would only take one vote switch to have the lottery pass. Let’s hope that such a switch doesn’t occur.

“Although the Democratic leadership supports a lottery, five Democratic senators are staked out in opposition. That has left party leaders scrambling to persuade one of the five — or one Republican — to support a lottery. In the case of a tie, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, a lottery supporter, would cast the tie-breaker.”

Outside of the basic wrongness of a government-sponsored lottery, my own reasons for opposing this are very simple. ALL proceeds from a lottery should go into the General Fund. Lottery supporters are using the same old tactics for the lottery this time around. They’re earmarking the funds for “education.” 50% of the proceeds would go toward the vague goal of reducing class sizes and pre-kindergarten learning (which has shown in studies to be no benefit, and usually a detriment in early grades). 40% would go toward school construction, which is a variation on reducing class sizes, but at least makes sense. 10% would go toward college scholarships.
Of course, once lottery proceeds start to flow, legislatures invariably begin to see areas where normal funding of schools can be reduced, as it is now being made up elsewhere. Earmarking reduces the need of the legislature to handle the budget wisely. By depositing the funds in the general fund, the legislature would have to answer to the general public for its actions. Earmarking takes away responsibility, and accountability. The latter, I think, has more to do with why they want to earmark the funds.
On top of it all, I’m not a big fan of public schools. I’m not alone. In a discussion with some public school teachers earlier this week, we agreed that the highest proportion of anti-public-education people in the state can probably be found at the head of the classes. My kid’s in one of those exclusive private schools (and it isn’t because I’m rich). Why would I want to waste my money on failure?
A lottery in North Carolina?
It almost makes me want to run for the legislature…

New Bills for NC Legislature

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North Carolina’s Legislature, currently in control of the Democratic Party, isn’t known for doing too many smart things. If there’s a bad idea to be put forth, you can look to the Legislative Building in Raleigh to find a copy of the bill. In order to allow time for bills to go through both houses during the two-year season, there’s a deadline. All bills must be entered before that date in order to be considered. This year, the number of bills entered at the last minute was over 200 (after more than 2700 bills were entered in this year alone).
Ogre (Yep, there are TWO of us ogres in the Tarheel state, but the other one just goes by Ogre) has a rundown of some of the stupidity in the 200 bills entered Wednesday. Go over and check them out. The legislature does NOT enhance my pride at being a North Carolinian.

North Carolina Politics At Its Finest

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There’s nothing like good government. Unfortunately, here in North Carolina, there really is nothing even resembling good government. The latest flak in the air is a conflict between Democrat Governor Mike Easley and the Democrat controlled legislature. It seems that there’s a valuable piece of real-estate in downtown Charlotte that the state wants to dispose of. The legislature wants to sell the land to a culinary school for $1. Mike Easley is trying to short-circuit the deal by selling the land to a developer for $5.25million. That’s about as simple as I can explain it, because it’s a really convoluted situation involving a bidding process cut short, a lack of bids and other weirdness. This is also notable because it is a revenue-raising move being taken by Easley that doesn’t involve tax hikes or a lottery. Maybe old “Tax Hike Mike” is finally learning something, or maybe a blind squirrel can still find a nut every once in a while.

North Carolina’s Broken Arrow

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There has been a decent amount of news coverage, lately, dedicated to the two nuclear weapons that were lost off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. Marginal Revolution even made mention of the event. I thought it would be a good occasion to revisit a story I originally wrote for my first blog, “Tar Heel State Online” and carried over to the old Xanga version of “Lockjaw’s Lair” but never got around to posting here.

It was just after midnight on January 24, 1961. A B52G Stratofortress (one of the greatest airplanes ever to cast a shadow on this fine Earth, IMHO) suffered structural failure in its right wing near Faro, NC. The plane carried two MK39 hydrogen bombs.

The two weapons were jettisoned from the plane. One parachuted safely to the ground, receiving minimal damage. The other plummetted to Earth, partially breaking up on impact. Part of the weapon, however, was never found. The lost portion was the uranium-containing part, as well. Crews dug to a depth of 50 feet in the boggy field, but could never retrieve the warhead. To this day, the lost weapon continues to lie in this field.

Radioactivity tests have come up negative, and the Air Force has purchased an easement on the property to prevent anyone digging. If you’d like to read further on the case of the lost warhead, check out this link.

Political Life in the Tar Heel State

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A classic blog entry.

What’s wrong with the Republican Party in North Carolina? Why do they have such a hard time getting elected in this state? Why is it, after all these years, that North Carolina is still practically a one-party state?

More: Read the rest of this entry…

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