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Archive for October 14th, 2009

Nanny state gone berserk, in England

A farmer was fined recently for keeping his cows in a dark barn at night. The Johnny-on-the-spot local officials noticed the bovine-imperiling low light levels when they visited the man’s farm to carry out tuberculosis tests:

While there, they asked where Mr Norcliffe intended to keep his cows in winter. When he said he would use a barn underneath his house, he was told it was unsuitable because it had little natural light, no electric lights and the doors were kept closed.

There were three follow-up visits but things did not improve.

Carol English, prosecuting, said: “He said the cattle were fine and he always kept them this way. He wouldn’t keep the doors open as it was too cold.”

Next, local officials plan to require relaxing ocean sounds to go with the appropriate lighting.

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Why is our mayor promoting a private business?

I’m as in favor of good health and fitness as anyone, but I don’t think local government officials should go out of their way to promote one private business over the many others that also pay taxes in Durham. That’s exactly what Durham Mayor Bill Bell did yesterday:

Mayor Bill Bell didn’t throw a punch at his visit to the local L.A. Boxing gym Tuesday afternoon. Nor did he take one. He didn’t even doff his suit and put on a pair of shiny oversized shorts.

Nonetheless, the mayor may have struck an important blow for the cause of health and fitness by promoting L.A. Boxing’s Get Fit Durham challenge, which starts Monday and will run eight weeks.

As I read this story, the Get Fit Durham campaign has nothing to do with the City of Durham, but is the idea of the L.A. Boxing gym’s owner. On one hand I have to congratulate the business owner on a public-relations coup. He got the publicity he was after. But when this was pitched to the mayor as something on which he should stake out a position, someone in city government should have asked: “Why single out this one business when there are many other gyms struggling to make it in a down economy?”

It’s easy to imagine someone in city government hooking up a friend for free publicity. Maybe that didn’t happen here, but it’s certainly a legitimate question, something that a reporter perhaps should have asked in the pursuit of this story (hint, hint).

Bell didn’t just show up at the gym to offer support. He instructed city staff to promote the L.A. Boxing gym’s program:

Bell said he would ask Tom Bonfield, the city manager, to help spread the word about Get Fit Durham to the 2,400 or so people who work for municipal government.

Why should our city manager expend taxpayer-paid time to help a private business over other ones who provide similar services. Perhaps realizing the import of what he had just said, Bell added this, according to The Herald-Sun:

And he noted that the Durham Parks and Recreation department is a great resource for those who want to get moving and lose weight.

That’s what any city official should be supporting, rather than choosing one private business to promote over all others.

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Somebody tell our president

Even the UN, the left-dominated UN, understands what happened in Honduras. Would somebody please tell President Obama and his secretary of state who the good guys are:

A study by the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations Organization (UNO) on the causes of the crisis in Honduras, concluded that the removal of President Manuel Zelaya, “was constitutional under the laws of the country,” confirmed officials of that agency.

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The Marketplace is Speaking

North Carolina’s virtual high school can’t keep up with demand. Let’s hope education bureaucrats respond to the market’s cues and expand this option. That means re-prioritizing education spending by putting less into programs with questionable results — coaches and consultants for example – and putting more into programs customers are demanding.

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Health Care Debate Today at Noon

This noon health care event is likely to be a spirited discussion about health care reform. It features the Cato Institute’s Doug Bandow and Adam Searing of the North Carolina Health Access Coalition. More event information can be found here.

In this interview, Joe Coletti, JLF’s fiscal and health care policy analyst, describes the key features of consumer-driven health care.

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Will Raleigh Follow Charlotte?

The funding and building of the RBC Center was controversial in Raleigh, and now Mayor Charles Meeker is looking ahead to a possible replacement facility. In his Daily Journal, Locke Foundation president John Hood takes a look at what may be coming. Will Raleigh follow Charlotte’s path?

By 2019, the construction bonds for the RBC Center will be paid off. Supporters of the existing arena want local officials to keep funneling the hotel and meals tax revenue to them for maintaining and improving the facility. Meeker and others would rather reroute the money to new facilities, such as Meeker’s downtown arena idea.

Truthfully, I’d rather see the tax go away as soon as possible. The next best thing, however, would be to maintain the asset taxpayers have already been compelled to finance, the RBC Center. The worst possible option is the one Meeker seeks. One need look no further than the experience of Charlotte, where taxpayers were compelled to build a coliseum on the west side of town for the Charlotte Hornets, and then two decades later were compelled to finance an uptown arena for the Charlotte Bobcats – with the previous coliseum being demolished.

The mayor of Raleigh apparently sees this as a success story to be emulated, rather than as a debacle that continues to embarrass and anger Charlotte taxpayers.

Will Raleigh do this a second time? As my childhood friend loved to say: Let’s not and just say we did.

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