Tuesday News: Punish the leaker, not the perpetrator

TRUMP'S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ARRESTS CONTRACTOR WHO LEAKED RUSSIAN HACKING DOCUMENT: An intelligence contractor was charged with sending a classified report about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to the news media, the Justice Department announced Monday, the first criminal leak case under President Donald Trump. The case showed the department’s willingness to crack down on leaks, as Trump has called for in complaining that they are undermining his administration. His grievances have contributed to a sometimes tense relationship with the intelligence agencies he oversees. The Justice Department announced the case against the contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, 25, about an hour after the national-security news outlet The Intercept published the apparent document, a May 5 intelligence report from the National Security Agency.

QATAR IN TROUBLE WITH ARAB NEIGHBORS OVER ITS ALLEGED SUPPORT OF ISIS AND OTHER GROUPS: Qatar's foreign minister says Kuwait is trying to mediate and solve a diplomatic crisis that has seen Arab nations cut off diplomatic ties. The minister said early Tuesday that Kuwait's ruler had asked Qatar's ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to hold off on giving a speech about the crisis. Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also told Doha-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera that his nation rejected those "trying to impose their will on Qatar or intervene in its internal affairs." Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday and ordered their land, sea and airports closed to Qatari aircraft and vessels. It's the worst diplomatic crisis to strike the region since the 1991 Gulf War.

RECKLESS CONCEALED-CARRY BILL GETS STIFF RESISTANCE FROM GUN SAFETY GROUPS: Gun-control groups are moving quickly to try to defeat a bill in the state House that would eliminate in most cases the requirement to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The bill would also allow anyone 18 or older to carry a concealed weapon – without obtaining a concealed-carry permit – in any place where weapons can be carried openly. Current law requires permit applicants be at least 21 years old. Two organizations commissioned polls showing overwhelming opposition to the bill. The North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund commissioned a poll by SurveyUSA. It found that 89 percent of the state’s voters favor retaining the requirement to obtain concealed-carry permits. That includes 83 percent of respondents who identified themselves as gun owners.

LARRY PITTMAN'S IGNORANCE ONCE AGAIN AN EMBARRASSMENT FOR NORTH CAROLINA ON THE NATIONAL STAGE: John Oliver blasted North Carolina lawmakers on his talk show Sunday for recently proposed legislation he said freezes progress in the state. Oliver picked on Rep. Larry Pittman in particular. “So, what is Larry’s nuanced take on climate change?” Oliver asked before audio from a recording of the N.C. General Assembly on July 3, 2012 played: “Our climate runs on a cycle,” Pittman says in the recording. “It goes up and it goes down and the lord designed it that way. And the main thing that causes global warming is the earth’s relationship to a big ball of gas that’s burning out there that we call the sun. And it is the height of hubris for human beings to think that we can have any effect on that.”

REPUBLICANS BLOCK PROPERTY TAX INCREASE NEEDED BY BURLINGTON CITY/ALAMANCE COUNTY SCHOOLS: The schools had asked for $6 million more, and so did nearly 40 speakers at the budget hearing and a couple of hundred in the audience judging by the applause and occasional heckling. “I wanted to make everybody mad,” said board Chairman Eddie Boswell before the vote. “I wanted to make the taxpayers mad and the schools mad. I was hoping we could add one or two pennies [on the tax rate].” Boswell and the board’s sole Democrat Bob Byrd voted against County Manager Bryan Hagood’s recommended $169 million budget after a four-hour meeting. The budget leaves the tax rate at 58 cents per $100 of property value, which is slightly higher than the 57.4-cent revenue-neutral tax rate after this years’ property tax revaluation and funds ABSS to the tune of $41 million instead of the $47 million it asked for.



It's not all bad...

My town (Gibsonville) has been struggling with the need to raise taxes for the last month or so, but the third revised Budget was the charm last night:

Property taxes will rise by 2 cents to pay for two public safety employees under the 2017–18 budget that the Gibsonville Board of Aldermen approved Monday night.

The tax rate will increase to 53 cents per $100 valuation. Revenue from the increase will pay for one firefighter position and one police officer position at a total cost of $114,480.

It was the third version of the budget that Town Manager Ben Baxley has presented to the board.

The first version called for a 3-cent increase that would pay for a police officer, a firefighter, a public works position and a police vehicle.

The second version kept the tax rate steady, but cut those positions and a police vehicle.

I didn't speak last night, but I was prepared to if necessary. We had 3-4 conservatives whine about taxes, implying there was ample room to cut here and there to get the extra police and firefighter without raising the rate. A rate that hasn't changed in 12 years. But 7 or 8 others stood up and read them the riot act, and the Board passed the Budget with a tax increase by 4-1 vote.