Vicki Boyer's blog

Rural Wifi investment

For some time I have pointed out that the best way to ensure economic development in our rural counties is to provide broadband wifi services to those areas. Free access would be ideal, but fees for service will most likely be necessary.

A letter to the editor in Saturday's News and Observer demonstrates a need for some kind of program in North Carolina that would bring wifi service to our countryside. The letter writer feels she is "sealed off from the digital age, because broadband service has not been extended to our homes."

We live in an area of Chatham County where there is no DSL or cable and weak cell signals. The best service one can get is satellite or a trip of 10-15 miles to a library when it is open…

Quality education encourages economic development

The best thing the government of our state could do to encourage 'economic development' and job growth is to invest in public education. North Carolina was ready to offer Toyota up to $107,000,000 to locate in Charlotte. That is a whole lot of salaries for experienced teachers.

However, public education is a key factor in the long-term health of our state’s economy. Obviously, it’s not the only ingredient, but public schools, higher education, infrastructure and sound environmental policies are all part of creating suitable conditions for businesses to operate and expand. Unfortunately, we’re not doing to well on many of these ingredients either...

What role does the education system play versus monetary incentives to encourage business to locate in NC?

App State not to have early vote site

The State Board of Elections (BOE) met this afternoon and part of their agenda was discussion on early vote sites in Watauga County. Although the final vote broke down almost as expected, 4-1, against a site on campus, some of the arguments are worth noting.

Watauga Democratic BOE member, Kathleen Campbell, was represented by Bill Gilkeson. He is from the law firm Bailey & Dixon, retained by the Watauga County Voting Rights Task Force, on behalf of the Watauga County Democratic Party.

Bill Aceto, Republican board member was present as was the BOE directory Jane Ann Hodges.

Voting is a right, not a privilege.

The Orange Board of Elections (BOE) held 2 meetings in July, a week apart, to discuss a request for Sunday voting hours to be added for the upcoming November election. When it was first brought up as a request from religious groups who celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, our BOE chair commented that they could not make changes without 'hearing from the other side.' That caused a stir amongst the 15 or so people present that day. The murmur in the crowd was, What other side?

Another meeting was set for the following week, and advertised through a press release. Over 70 people turned up. The chair set 15 minutes for each 'side' to speak. A petition with 700 names from our communities requesting Sunday hours was presented, along with numerous other letters with multiple signatures. Representatives of various groups spoke for Sunday voting opportunities.

The chattering classes

On a typical weekend, Facebook's political content calms down quite a bit, as everyone tries to relax and get away from their work-week activities. Even the biggest political geeks need a breath of fresh air.

This past weekend was different, and the difference has continued through Monday. It was like the way we hear the Feds say that 'chatter' on the internet was up all of a sudden. And there was a whole lot of chatter.

So, What's the buzz, tell me what's-a-happening, what's the buzz??

Education. Facebook, Twitter and even the old standby, email, were all abuzz over how we pay our teachers and education in North Carolina. This issue is not going away. Our elected reps may have left town, but they left a lot of wreckage behind them. The question is, who will be around to pick up the pieces after November's election?

And the buzz goes on...

Fracked again...

There was a moment at this morning's Senate Rules Committee meeting at NCGA that left me scratching my head…. I hope y'all can help clarify something for me.

The bill being discussed was HB 761. This huge, 62 page Proposed Committee Substitute covers everything from Ambiant Air Monitoring and Animal Euthanasia Requirements to making it a Class H felony to poach venus fly traps from the only area where they grow in the wild (down east NC).

Pubilic schools drive county economies in NC

The plans of the far right to destroy public education and utilize those tax dollars as a revenue stream for private businesses will do far more harm to North Carolina than just destroying our schools. It turns out that:

In 64 of North Carolina’s 100 counties .. a local school system is the largest single employer. A local school system is the second-largest employer in 24 other counties ….. In only 12 counties ... is a school system not in the top two…..

A few interesting notes: in counties where the school system is not the top employer, it’s usually due to the military (Craven, Cumberland, Onslow), a large university (Orange, Durham, Watauga, Pitt, Jackson), a prison (Granville, Hyde), or a large-scale hog/chicken processing plant (Duplin, Lenoir, Bladen). Note the absence of manufacturing.

The Dead shall vote in North Carolina!

It looks as if the dead will get a chance to vote in NC after all. A bill has been filed that will basically require Boards of Elections to count the absentee ballots of any absentee voter who dies after mailing in their ballot. In the past, absentee ballots were checked against death announcements and then pulled. They were not alive on election day itself, and logic dictated this was the right course of action.

This appears to apply mostly to those who vote at an early vote site then pass away before election day itself.

Here's the bill:

H.B. 1267
HD HOUSE DRH10572-LB-166F (05/14)
Short Title:
Referred to:
Absentee Ballot/Everette Harris Act. (Public)
Representatives Tillis, Lewis, and Elmore (Primary Sponsors).


Saddest meeting of all

This is the saddest meeting I have attended. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education met Tuesday, June 2, to discuss the effects the Senate budget and the Governor's budget would have on education. Some of those points are listed below, followed by comments from those involved in education. Unless a remark is in " " please consider it paraphrased. Anything in ( ) is my remark/interjection.

I especially want to share the repeated pleas from those working in our education system. I even heard the phrase, Please don't do this to us. Cuts to education in NC have gone beyond 'bare bones' and into the category of 'mortal wound.' This has to stop. Between budget cuts, position cuts, the expanse of charters and the addition of vouchers, NC's public schools are on their death bed. I hope all of you are planning to attend the next Moral Monday that will focus on education. All of you.

Public Schools.

Charters will blossom in NC ... or else!

It was SRO today at the Senate Ed Committee meeting, and as my momma used to say, Sen Jerry Tillman was full of piss and vinegar! He paced the front of the room as the chair called the meeting to order and seemed disgruntled to see so many people packed into his meeting room.

He angrily told the head of the charter school application committee that if he did not see charter school applications getting approved as fast as he wants them approved, then he would pass the bill (SB 793) he has waiting in the wings. His tone suggested he would then shove the changes he wants to see down the committee's collective throats. He was especially upset that some out-of-state, for-profit charter management companies had their applications denied here in NC---he commented that if they had been approved to do business in other states, they were good enough to do business in NC. (Does our insurance commissioner know that?)


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