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Stunning Abuse Of Paid Leave For Federal Workers

It’s hard not to become cynical when GAO reports like this one illustrate how hard-earned tax dollars are being used and abused.  The Washington Examiner reports:

The federal government has shelled out more than $700 million in paid leave to more than 57,000 employees who were home from work for time periods stretching from one month to three years, a Government Accountability Office report has found.

In a 62-page report published Monday, the GAO analyzed why so many federal employees were home and getting paid for such long periods of time and they discovered a variety of reasons.

In many cases, employees were home awaiting the outcome of investigations into alleged misconduct and criminal actions. Some racked up paid leave for “physical fitness activities,” and others were away from work seeking professional development. Employees also took paid leave for “recuperation” from overseas work.

Hundreds of federal employees remained at home, collecting a paycheck, for years.

As you work hard today, remember how some of the dollars you’re forking over to the feds is being used. This GAO reports is one of many examples of what happens when government grows to the point where keeping abuse in check is a monumental task.

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“Please.”

Carolina Journal’s Rick Henderson adds perspective to the reporting on benefits received by Hagan family members from two taxpayer-funded grants.

It’s important to put the story into perspective, because the Hagan camp relentlessly deflects and spins, portraying these taxpayer handouts passed around from one family-owned company to another as nothing improper. And — this is the most laughable contention — that the Hagan family somehow received no benefit from nearly a half-million bucks in taxpayer largess.

Please.

JDC, a company co-owned by the three Hagan brothers, applied for and received $250,644 in stimulus dollars to install more efficient lighting and furnaces and place solar panels at its building. JDC leases the building to Plastic Revolutions, a recycling company also owned by … Hagan family members. Once the project was completed, Plastic Revolutions said it expected to save $100,000 in energy costs annually. That’s a benefit it would not have received without the upgrades, which were made possible by federal taxpayers.

Moreover, JDC wound up with a more valuable asset: a modern, energy-efficient manufacturing facility that would bring a higher price if it sold, and a more inviting location for potential new tenants. And, of course, JDC received $137,000 in tax credits — again resulting from the stimulus grant.

The Hagan family could have financed the project by investing its own money, seeking outside investors, going into debt, or draining its own bank accounts. While some of those other sources might have played a role in this project, the Hagans also went, hat in hand, to the government, and we paid for it.

Would JDC have pursued the project without the handouts? The Hagans haven’t said so, at least not to us. But it matters little now. Our money has been spent.

Moral of the story: the bigger the government and the greater its largesse, the more opportunity there is for nonsense like this.

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“The double-dealing didn’t end there.”

You may recall that the federal “stimulus” package was supposed to create jobs by spending astronomical amounts of money on so-called “shovel ready” jobs. Some of the money went into projects for alternative energy. John Hood relates how things went down for one of the grant recipients, Sen. Kay Hagan’s family.

Forget the politics and read the story for what it says about big government.

In 2010, a company called JDC Manufacturing applied to the Energy Office for a $250,644 grant to replace light fixtures and gas furnaces and install rooftop solar panels at a 300,000-square-foot building it owned in Reidsville. The total cost of the project, JDC stated, would be $438,627, of which 57 percent would come from the taxpayers and the rest, $187,983, from JDC itself.

The company was owned by Kay Hagan’s husband Chip and two of his brothers. In the application, JDC claimed that the building’s infrastructure was outdated and that current energy costs had “prevented the tenant from growing their business as desired due to the energy operating costs.” Who was this cost-constrained tenant of the JDC building? A company also owned by Hagan family members called Plastic Revolutions, as Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington has reported. Chip Hagan serves on its board.

The double-dealing didn’t end there. In its application, JDC stated that its initial estimate of the cost of installing solar panels on the building were “based on quotes or commercially available prices” but that “the final project design and installation work will undergo an open bid once awardees are notified” about the status of the grant.

The same week that JDC submitted the application, however, Chip Hagan and his son Tilden founded yet another company, Solardyne, later renamed Green State Power. Somehow, this inexperienced company managed to win the contract to install the solar panels on JDC’s building, no doubt through an “open bid.” Interestingly, JDC had included its conflict-of-interest policy in its application for public funding. “Employees are to avoid any conflict of interest, even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the policy stated. “The appearance of a conflict of interest can cause embarrassment to the company, jeopardizing the credibility of the company. Any conflict of interest, potential conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest should be reported to your supervisor immediately.”

 

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Carolina Journal: Hagan Firm Keeps Stimulus Project Savings, Sends None to Taxpayers

Don Carrington continues his investigation into ‘stimulus’ grant money received by Sen. Kay Hagan’s family.

DC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband Charles “Chip” Hagan, lowered the total cost of a 2010 stimulus-funded energy project but kept all of the savings, sending none back to taxpayers who had funded the stimulus grant.

The company’s original application stated the total project would cost $438,627, and said JDC would contribute “leveraged funds” amounting to $187,983, or 43 percent of the total. As the project reached completion, however, JDC revised the total budget downward by $114,519 and applied all the savings to its share, keeping all the taxpayer funding.

Also, JDC’s decision to hire Solardyne/Green State Power, a separate company co-owned by Chip Hagan and the Hagans’ son Tilden, to install a portion of the stimulus-funded energy project at the JDC building appears to violate a conflict-of-interest provision that was included as part of the original application for the stimulus grant.

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Proving That Some People Will Do Anything For Power

From the Texas Tribune comes the latest installment in the outrage over Wendy Davis’ approach to trying to win the governorship of Texas. No, her campaign isn’t sorry one bit — the campaign is elated.

The pollster for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis defended her controversial TV ad Sunday, saying it’s working as intended despite widespread criticism that using the image of an empty wheelchair in an attack ad on a disabled candidate was mean-spirited and unfair.

Davis pollster Joel Benenson, who advised Barack Obama in both of his presidential races, said the ad underscored the theme they’ve been hammering on for months: that Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is an “insider” who sides with the rich and powerful over average Texans.

Nauseating.

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N.C. Supreme Court To Decide Opportunity Scholarship Appeal

North Carolina House Speaker Pro Tem Paul “Skip” Stam of Wake County issued the following news release Friday.  For decades Stam has been a champion of providing parents with more freedom to choose where and how their children are educated. To that end, he is also the champion of the Opportunity Scholarship program, which provides low-income parents with an option to send their kids to a private school that better serves their needs. Progressives are using the legal system to try and take away this opportunity.

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North Carolina Supreme Court to Decide on Opportunity Scholarship Appeal

Raleigh, NC – Today the North Carolina Supreme Court on its own initiative issued an order stating that it will take responsibility for the appeal of a decision by a Wake County judge regarding the Opportunity Scholarships. The case was pending before the NC Court of Appeals. The NC Supreme Court will now decide the case. All parties should be delighted with this development because the case was ultimately headed for the NC Supreme regardless of the decision by the NC Court of Appeals. This will expedite the decision regarding this appeal case.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals previously issued an order that allowed the scholarship money to be disbursed to the 1,878 applicants who accepted Opportunity Scholarships through the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The provision for new applicants for the spring semester of 2015 is still on hold. These parents and students need to know before the end of this year whether they will be able to attend the school that best suits their needs.

We are grateful for the decision. We thank the nearly 300 schools that continue to work with parents to allow students to attend the school of their choice while waiting for the distribution of scholarship money. We remain confident the Opportunity Scholarship program will be permitted to expand, allowing more parents to send their children to the school of their choice.

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7 Counties Want Voters To Raise The Sales Tax Rate

For some government officials, there is a constant effort to expand government and impose higher taxes and fees to pay for it all. Writing today at CarolinaJournal.com, JLF’s Sarah Curry profiles the seven North Carolina counties that are asking voters to raise the sales tax rate by 1/4 cent to pay for bigger government.

While many local governments claim they will collect the tax for a specific purpose, that is not permissible by law. Any revenue generated from the local-option, quarter-cent sales tax is considered general revenue and can be spent on anything in the county’s budget.

County commissioners typically pledge to spend the tax revenue on a specific area of the budget, but there is no legally binding way to ensure that will happen. Rather, each governing board can decide where to spend the money — regardless of the promises made to voters in the referendum campaign.

While knowing the money cannot be earmarked, each of the six counties pushing referendums on the November ballot has listed items that county officials have decided warrant a sales tax increase. Below is each county’s reasoning. But remember: Regardless of what county officials say, there is no guarantee about where the money actually will be spent.

 

 

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Rasmussen Moves Senate Race From “Leans Democrat” To “Toss-Up”

The latest survey data from Rasmussen shows Sen. Kay Hagan with 48 percent of the vote, and House Speaker Thom Tillis with 46 percent.

Rasmussen has also moved the race from “Lean Democrat” to “Toss-Up.”

This is the first survey of the race to include “leaners,” those who initially are undecided or prefer a third-party candidate and are asked again to pick between the Republican and the Democrat.

North Carolina now moves from Leans Democrat back to a Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports 2014 Senate Balance of Power rankings. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate, and they’ve long counted on North Carolina to be one of those pickups.

Among the 85% of Tar Heel voters who say they are definitely going to vote in this election, the race is a tie at 48% apiece. But just 67% say they are certain at this point who they will vote for. Among those who are certain of their vote, Tillis leads 57% to 43%, but among those who could still change their minds, Hagan has a better than two-to-one lead – 56% to 25%.

 

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Do You Believe Teachers Received A Huge Pay Increase?

You should — because it’s true.

Still, over the past few weeks we have been treated to the robotic proclamations from the Left  that North Carolina public school teachers have been ignored by the dastardly fiscal conservatives who were elected to lead the General Assembly. Their spinning continues in spite of the fact that teachers received an average pay hike of 7% — a hike most North Carolinians would jump up and down over .

But today, JLF’s Terry Stoops points out, at sister blog The Locker Room, that we have another piece of black and white evidence that, in fact, the legislature and governor treated teachers very, very well. It comes from the Fiscal Research Division of the General Assembly.

See for yourself right here.

And the next time you hear someone say that teachers are “disrespected” by fiscal reformers, you will have the evidence at your fingertips to show them they’re simply wrong. Keep in mind there are some North Carolinians who simply don’t have accurate information. Others, however, simply spin the truth because they believe it will spur turnout for Democrats in November.

What a shame that some choose to be so cynical.

 

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Privacy Advocates Win: Durham Finally Destroys Gun Registration Records

Carolina Journal’s Dan Way provides a much anticipated resolution to Durham County’s gun registration file, which advocates for privacy and gun rights have decried. 

Durham County officials on Monday destroyed gun registration documents stemming from a Jim Crow-era statute, ending months of legal uncertainty over ownership of the materials and threats of legal action had the records been preserved.

“I am pleased that we have closed that chapter of Durham’s history,” said state Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, who successfully sponsored repeal legislation in this year’s short legislative session ending the practice of forcing gun owners to register their firearms. It was the only gun registry in North Carolina.

“The gun registry records were destroyed this morning,” Woodard said Monday. “The clerk [of courts] and the Sheriff’s Office got together this morning, and took them out, and shredded them.”

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