We were promised less state government.

May 29, 2013

In 2012 the majority of North Carolina voters cast their ballots for smaller state government, less state intervention in local affairs and more local authority over local matters.  Before I go any further, this column is not about political parties.  It is much bigger than that.  The 2012 North Carolina election results could not have been possible without votes from republicans, democrats, conservatives and moderates.  Who knows, there may have even been a few liberals who thought, “It would be nice if local people could make local decisions.”  Nah, probably didn't happen.

Anyway, getting back to the point, while there are still some all-or-nothing, one-party voters out there, most folks just want a balanced approach from elected officials who fulfill their campaign promises and otherwise make reasonable decisions.  Many voters get nervous when elected officials function at the end (right or left) of the political continuum.  Voters want public servants who do what they promise … no more and no less.

Asheville’s water system is being turned over to a regional water authority.  What happened to the citizens of Asheville controlling “their” water?  Don’t discount this issue because it is Asheville.  Haywood County’s water originates in the county.  We are a water source and our water would likely be eyed for future regional and state power grabs.

State law does not allow local communities to determine opening and closing dates for local public schools.  What happened to local control of local schools?  Elected officials from across the state are telling us when to open and close school.  They don’t understand our weather and most importantly they don’t live here.  Local folks should make this decision.

The state legislature took away Asheville’s control of Asheville Regional Airport.  Even worse, state lawmakers created a new independent state agency to run the airport.  There is also state consideration to transfer Charlotte's airport to a regional authority.  Why can’t the citizens of Asheville and Charlotte maintain control of “their” airports?  Again, don’t ignore these issues because they are about Asheville and Charlotte.  If major assets in these cities can come under state or regional control, it can happen here too.  I can see it now, a state-controlled Mountain Regional Sports Authority to effectively manage (draw dollars from) all the recreation activities from Marion to Murphy.

There is actually proposed state legislation to eliminate local school board authority.  There is also a move to create regional high schools.  If local folks don’t have authority, guess who does?  The power brokers who work in Raleigh.  If things keep going this way, there won’t be any “local” schools.  It will all be controlled by Star Fleet Command in Raleigh.

There has been proposed state legislation to create an entirely new state agency to govern public charter schools.  If charter school regulations are beneficial (and some are), why do we need another costly state agency?  We don’t need more state agencies and we don’t need state officials controlling our schools.  We only need one state agency that oversees all public schools and all public schools (traditional and charter) should use the same beneficial rules.  If tradition public schools are strangled by state rules (and they are), then let “all” use the “charter” rules.

There are other examples (beyond airports, water and schools) of state power grabs and wasting tax dollars by creating new agencies and boards.  If the federal government was doing this to North Carolina, our state lawmakers would be rightfully yelling and screaming about less governmental intrusion.  I guess it is okay for the state to “do it” to local folks as long as the feds don’t “do it” to the state.  Nah, it isn’t okay.  It is hypocritical.  That’s what it is, shamefully hypocritical.  We were promised less state government.  What we got was an expanded monopoly on state level power.