Category Archives: GOVERNMENT

Tillis: ‘End The Red Wolf Recovery Program’

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Thom Tillis

Thom Tillis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wednesday, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) attended and spoke at a House Committee on Natural Resources oversight hearing on the status of the federal government’s management of wolves. Tillis called for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to formally end its Red Wolf Recovery Program in North Carolina.

Since it was created 30 years ago, the Red Wolf Recovery Program has failed to meet population recovery goals for the red wolf while negatively affecting North Carolina landowners and the populations of several other native species. 514 private landowners and farmers have sent individual requests to USFWS to not allow red wolves on their land.

The Office of the Inspector General released a report on the Red Wolf Recovery Program in February, finding that the USFWS violated its rule by releasing 132 wolves into the wild between 1987 and 2013, when it had only provided for the release of 12 wolves. Additionally, they found that USFWS released wolves on private property without the written permission of landowners.

Senator Tillis recently visited Aurora, North Carolina, to meet with property owners who are being harmed by the program. In June, he secured a provision in the Senate FY2017 Interior Appropriations bill that would require the USFWS to coordinate with North Carolina Wildlife Commission on decisions related to the future of the Red Wolf Recovery program.

The North Carolina Wildlife Commission has also requested that the USFWS end the program.

“Before we do anything more in North Carolina, I think it makes the most sense to shut the program down to figure out how to do it right and build some credibility with the landowners,” said Senator Tillis during today’s committee hearing. “There is a less than respectful history of dialogue between folks in North Carolina and the Fish and Wildlife Service. This is going to be an issue my office will be focused on for as long as I’m a U.S. Senator.”

One man can fight the federal bureaucracy!

Large N.C. landowner Jett Ferebee slugs it out with Red Wolf policy makers

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Read the complete report (209 pages)

Editor’s note:  In a departure from normal bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, a 200-page report released this week, titled ‘Red Wolf Recovery Team Recommendations,’ contains a fascinating section. Appendix G features candid, verbatim give-and-take among opponents of the Red Wolf Program – led by Jett Ferebee who owns a large tract in Northeastern North Carolina – and proponents of the program, which include federal officials, scientists, and academic-types.

Alert readers will encounter the acronym NENC NEP, which stands for: North East North Carolina Non-essential Experimental Population – government-speak for a genetically questionable species of Red Wolf, introduced during 1986 into five counties in the state’s northeast corner.

Jett Ferebee: The private landowners have already been lied to repeatedly by USFWS about having a small population of wolves located on the Dare County ARNWR. It was our original trust that   USFWS would restrict wolves to this land as promised in 1986 that has now led us to this cross road. DO NOT ASK US TO BELIEVE THIS LIE AGAIN, 30 YEARS LATER!!!!! You promised to keep them

on the refuge last time and laughed at us for thinking they would stay there. You promised to keep the wolves on Federal land, but at the very same time you were releasing them on private land. You had Federal rules requiring private land removal, while you wrote an internal policy saying not to honor removal request.

You just re-released a trapped wolf XXXXXX that left the Alligator River refuge immediately and returned to the private land, where it was trapped, in a matter of days. Now the landowner is asking for this wolfís removal again and is being told the request must be written in a certain manner. At this very same time you have your DOJ attorneys telling Judge Boyle that USFWS has no intention of removing any wolves from private land and they have no pending requests to do so. You also took a trapped coyote and put it on ARNWR. It too returned e to the private land where it was trapped in a matter of days. What a grossly mismanaged and fraudulent taxpayer scam. Are you really foolish enough to ask us to believe you will keep your animals on ARNWR? Even more absurd is that you would ask the American taxpayer to fund this revolving door scam.

You selectively bred a robust coywolf in a zoo in Tacoma Washington, called it an endangered species, and then falsified historic range maps to meet your needs of Federal lands with no coyotes, all so you could establish a wolf population on the east coast under the false guise of the ESA. Oh no USFWS, fool us, once shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. This will not happen again.

This is the price you must pay for your wayward ways of the past. Take this opportunity to do the right thing and potentially regain the trust of your needed private land partner. There is a right way and a wrong way to treat others. The right way begins with integrity.

Wild Population Viability:

Jett Ferebee: A group of red wolves managed under this option would be artificially constrained to  the federal land base. Yea right. You just re released a trapped wolf from Xxxxxxxx that left the Alligator River refuge and returned to private land in a matter of days. Now the landowner is asking for this wolfís removal and is being told the request must be written in a certain manner. You also took a trapped coyote and put it on ARNWR. It too returned to the private land where it was trapped in a matter of days. Are you really foolish enough to ask us to believe you will keep your animals on ARNWR? Even more absurd is that you would ask the American tax payer to fund this revolving door scam.

Human Dimensions

There would be some benefits to maintaining a small group of wolves on the Federal lands. These include preserving the wolfís intrinsic value, as well as  conducting.

Jett Ferebee: This is so bogus. Kim Wheeler, the Red Wolf Coalition Executive Director for over 10 years? and lives in the heart of the red wolf recovery area proclaimed in a court affidavit that she had only seen a red wolf in the wild twice in her life! So no it is highly doubtful the public will enjoy anything more than the howling of penned up wolves as they have for years, often being mislead into thinking they were hearing wild wolves. The whole mess is a fraud especially the part about the public experiencing wild wolves. Even Kim could probably not confirm if she had actually seen a wolf, hybrid, or coyote on her 2 lifetime sightings of a ìwolfî

Federal Rule 50 CFR 17.81

(d) The Fish and Wildlife Service shall consult with appropriate State fish and wildlife agencies, local governmental entities, affected Federal agencies, and affected private landowners in developing and implementing experimental population rules. When appropriate, a public meeting will be conducted with interested members of the public. Any regulation promulgated pursuant to this section shall, to the maximum extent practicable, represent an agreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service, the affected State and Federal agencies and  persons holding any interest in  land which may be affected by the establishment of an experimental population.

Jett Ferebee: I believe this is the option that USFWS has been tasked with accomplishing for the last 30 years and now has fewer or the same number of breeding pairs (4) that they originally started with in 1987. After 30 years, USFWS has failed to accomplish their original goals for either the wild population or the captive population. The goal was 220 wild animals and they now have maybe 40 and have released at least 132 animals to get this 40Ö

To me, this is feasibility study enough, but then my paycheck is not tied to the continuation of this farce and its associated studies.

We have seen in the NENC NEP that coyote hunting, trapping and control leads to levels of mortality in red wolves that are not sustainable.

Jett Ferebee: USFWS personnel not keeping wolves on Federal land as promised leads to levels of mortality that are not sustainable. USFWS flooding red wolf habitat for carbon credits and not managing their land for their own invented endangered species leads to levels of mortality that are not sustainable.

Even with this effort there has been no systematic effort to analyze its effects on wolves, coyotes or human attitudes.  Additional measures could include an outright prohibition on coyote hunting or other modifications to coyote hunting seasons and bag limits

.

Jett Ferebee: Donít even think about it.

These include the coexistence council for the Mexican grey wolf (Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council, 2014) which includes a pay-for-presence program, and recovery efforts for jaguars in northern Mexico (Northern Jaguar Project).

Jett Ferebee: Yep sure, I believe the Mexican wolf program is in just as much of a mess as this red wolf program. The red wolf is a NONESSENTIAL EXPERIMENTAL POPULATION and has its own set of regulations that are specifically set up to protect private landowner rights NOT other interest groups maybe you guys need to review the 10j rules

Utilize wild wolves for planning new restoration sites.

Mike Phillips: It seems highly unlikely this will be possible.

Lessons Learned

First we must take a moment to recognize the successes. We successfully established a captive breeding program to ensure the survival of the species. We achieved the first successful re- introduction of a large carnivore that had been declared extinct in the wild.

Mike Phillips: The truthfulness of this statement depends on how one defines ìsuccessfulî.

To ranchers in the area around Yellowstone the wolf is a threat to livestock and an economic liability.

Mike Phillips: More of a perceived threat and perceived liability. Most wolves donít make a whit of difference to most ranchers.

The fact that we did not immediately and publicly acknowledge and correct our error created problems that persist to this day.

Mike Phillips: This is not true. As evinced by signed agreements and our celebration of those agreements we certainly acknowledged the importance of private land.

Hindsight is of course 20-20 and it is not fair to criticize the work of program staff, who were undoubtedly doing great work to deal with a very complicated, challenging and unprecedented reintroduction effort. We know now that as soon as wolves began leaving the Refuge we should have made a public statement of our changed understanding of red wolf habitat and space needs, and should have engaged the community in a dialogue of the meaning of this new information to the recovery effort and its relationship to the community

Mike Phillips: This is not true. As evinced by signed agreements and our celebration of those agreements we certainly acknowledged the importance of private land.

Second, being wrong about these fundamental early assertions regarding red wolf ecology undermined our scientific credibility early in the recovery effort in the minds of many in the community.  If we could be this wrong about such fundamental aspects of red wolf ecology, how could the community be expected to put faith in our findings regarding more complicated aspects of red wolf conservation including taxonomy, management of hybridization, and predator-prey relationships? This could have been addressed had we been more forth coming about what we  were learning about red wolf ecology and engaged the community is a dialogue regarding the consequences of this new information.

Mike Phillips: I think this paragraph conflates current circumstances that are intertwined with concerns about coyotes with very different circumstances that existed from 1986 through the mid- 1990s.

Things I Can Live With

Jett Ferebee: The NENC population needs to be terminated after 30 years of unsuccessfully meeting the program objectives and violating several key Federal Rules designed to protect private landowner rights. Winding down this process should be expeditious and used as an opportunity to learn and increase credibility between FWS and private landowners.

In light of the new Princeton/UCLA genome wide DNA study that determined the red wolf to be a hybrid of 75% coyote and 25% grey wolf, I cannot support spending any more taxpayer money on either the wild population or even the captive population of red wolves. Hybrid animals are not protected by the ESA.

Recognition that absolutely no physical evidence has ever been produced by USFWS to prove the red wolves selectively bred in a zoo in Tacoma, Washington were ever native to the State of NC.

Things I Oppose

Jett Ferebee: Further spending of taxpayer resources on an animal of such questionable origins and the continued trampling of private landowner rights by USFWS and NGOs.

Forcing this on people who donít want it. USFWS not managing their Federal land for the red wolf and then expecting private landowners to host their wolf program (biologists and all).

USFWS not honoring the original commitments made to the citizens of North Carolina in Federal Rules and public meetings. The 1986 and 1995 Federal Rules governing this non-essential experimental species program were specifically established to protect private landowner rights including the ability to have unwanted wolves removed from their land.

Thinking that adaptive management has controlled hybridization of wolves with coyotes in eastern NC.

USFWS blaming hunters and landowners for the NC program failing rather accepting that the same conditions of coyote infiltration and hybrid swarm that lead to red wolves being removed from the wild in Texas by USFWS have now occurred in eastern NC.

“Recent genetic data have cast doubt upon the hybrid origin hypothesis and the balance of evidence has tilted towards a North American canid assemblage composed of the eastern wolf, the red wolf, and the coyote as distinct taxa that are descended from a common ancestral canid of North American origin.”

Mike Phillips: See my previous comments on this issue. It would seem appropriate to integrate van Holdt et al. 2016 into this report.

3. Can a wild population of red wolves be self-sustaining without active management for hybridization?

The honest answer is we do not know. The goals laid out in the Red Wolf Recovery Plan (establishing three wild populations with approximately 220 animals) are based on the premise that a red wolf population that is large enough and stable enough would be able to sustain itself against introgression with coyotes. This appears to be the case with the eastern wolf (C. lycaon) of eastern Canada. It too is intermediate in size between grey wolves and coyotes and hybridizes with both species. Yet, within Algonquin Provincial Park it is able to sustain a core population that appears stable.

It is an open question whether the red wolf can do the same. It can certainly be said that such a situation has not been observed to date. The Service believes that in the period around 2005 the NENC NEP population was approaching a size and configuration (approximately 130 animals in about 20 packs) that may have been sustainable; though this was never demonstrated. Since that time the population has been in decline due primarily to increased loss of breeding animals to anthropogenic sources (primarily gunshot). The increased loss of breeders causes instability in the social structure of wolf packs that facilitates hybridization.

So the question remains whether there is any set of conditions that would enable a large stable red wolf population to sustain itself against hybridization with coyotes or whether the red wolf is a conservation-reliant species that will perpetually require intensive management in the wild.

Mike Phillips: Good

9. Why are wolves are not being maintained on Federal lands as promised in the Federal rules?

514 landowners have now demanded to not have wolves on their land, many of these had signed “partner agreements” and received compensation from the Service. Large tracts have pulled all support for this recovery program based upon unkept promises and commitments.

During the summer of 2014 we received a surge in requests to remove wolves from private lands. Our records indicate that we received 405 such requests. We followed up on each and every one. Our records indicate that 24 of the requests represented duplicate requests from the same address (e.g., husband and wife submitting identical requests on or about the same date). Forty-three requests contained no contact information and we were unable to identify the senders. We received no response to repeated attempts to contact 282 requestors.  Fourteen requestors contacted indicated that they thought they were signing a petition to protest the NCWRC coyote hunting rules, but had no wolf issues on their lands. An additional 25 requestors reported no problems with  wolves on their lands at the time but would contact us if the situation changed.  Our staff conducted surveys of 21 properties at the landownerís requests and found no evidence of wolf presence.

Those landowners requested no further action. We received no further response from 5 landowners following our original contact with them.  Two landowners would not allow access to their property so we could follow-up on their requests.  We ended up working with 13 landowners to address concerns regarding wolves using their property.

We are working diligently to uphold our commitments to landowners and work within our 1995 regulations.

Mike Phillips: Good.

Jett Ferebee: Pete, I have told you repeatedly that USFWS is misrepresenting these requests.   These requests were for the removal of any wolves that were present or may become present on their land. Since USFWS would not even provide wolf locations to our NCWRC, no one knows if   and when a wolf is occupying their land. These requests made it clear that if USFWS, who was mandated by Federal Rule to monitor their wolves, knew their wolf was on any one of these peopleís land; then they were to be notified and the wolf removed. Some even requested that USFWS not go on their private land as people were complaining of USFWS trespassing on their property. So all this bogus data you present here is meant to do nothing but discredit the integrity of private landowners in the red wolf recovery area. I have spent over 15 years trying to get USFWS to remove wolves as promised. Only now have I achieved any results. As a result of my success, USFWS and DOW will likely fabricate a sue and settlement arrangement in their current law suit and do away with our ability to have wolves removed. In fact just last month, DOJ attorneys have already told Judge Boyle and SELC that they had NO INTENTIONS of removing any wolves.

Lessons Learned

First we must take a moment to recognize the successes. We successfully established a captive breeding program to ensure the survival of the species. We achieved the first successful re- introduction of a large carnivore that had been declared extinct in the wild.

Mike Phillips: The truthfulness of this statement depends on how one defines successful.

Jett Ferebee: I disagree when it comes to experimental populations: see Federal Rule 50 CFR 17.81.

This is important because the nature of the red wolf recovery program in eastern NC has changed repeatedly over the years as our scientific understanding of red wolves has evolved. This led to several important decision points and forks in the road where the Service acted unilaterally.

Jett Ferebee: USFWS must admit the violations of Federal Rules ñ illegal private land releases, nonremoval of wolves, selectively breeding an animal to fit their needs, manipulating data to somehow make NC become historic range of the red wolf, falsifying take request information to a Federal Judge, conspiring with NGOís to sue and settle with our NCWRCÖ the list could go on and on. You canít continue to just say the community was not engaged or that USFWS should have educated them more.

Henry and Lucash (2000) summarized lessons learned through the first 12 years of the red wolf reintroduction efforts in eastern NC and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These lessons included recognizing the importance of private lands, taking steps to minimize conflicts with other land uses and practices, the need for public outreach and state agency involvement, and the need for transparency and consistency in our actions. While these lessons have been acknowledged it is clear that the Service has not taken these lessons sufficiently to heart to produce a lasting change in the relationship between the agency, the community and other key partners.

Jett Ferebee: This is epitomized by the last letter that your DOJ attorneys made you send me saying that my take permit request had not been active since ìwhelping seasonî. This was a lie to cover up the lie that your DOJ attorneys told a Federal Judge. I cannot express how that galvanized my belief that USFWS has no intent to be truthful to anyone, including a Federal Judge. The ends never justify the means in any situation. I am not done with this ìlittle issueî either.

A. Communication of Government Intent

When the northeastern North Carolina red wolf non-essential experimental population (NENC NEP) was first established in 1986 the Service said that the wolves would be managed on federal lands (Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Dare County Bombing Range) and would pose no threat to, and place no encumbrances upon, private lands. This commitment was based on our understanding at the time of red wolf ecology, which was based on limited observations of the habitat use, movements, and diets of the few wolves that existed in southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas. Our assumptions quickly proved unfounded as wolves soon left the Refuge  and we discovered that their habitat preferences and space needs were much different than we originally believed.

Jett Ferebee: This is where you should state that you only had Section 7 authority to release 12 wolves from the captive population but released 132, which likely bankrupted your captive breeding program. This is where you should state you only had Federal Authority to release wolves on Federal land where the wolf was fully protected, but you released 64 out of 132 wolves onto private land. They did not simply ìwander ontoî private land or even ìsoon left the refugeî.  Your personnel put them in a crate and took them to private land, while they were having public meetings for the  1995 Rules revision that stated you were only going to be releasing a few wolves on the  Federal lands of PLNWR. Now would be a good place to show a little humility and integrity.

This created two problems. First, as we altered our management practices in response to our  rapidly changing knowledge of red wolf ecology we fundamentally altered the premise upon which the relationship between the red wolf and the community was founded.  Wolves that were supposed to be confined to the Refuge were now routinely, even predominantly, occupying private lands. The fact that we did not immediately and publicly acknowledge and correct our error created problems that persist to this day.

Mike Phillips: This is not true. As evinced by signed agreements and our celebration of those agreements we certainly acknowledged the importance of private land.

Jett Ferebee: It took a FOIA request from me almost three decades later for USFWS to finally admit to doing this with no legal authority. It took a called meeting with the NCWRC to expose that USFWS had an internal policy that stated they would not remove wolves from private land. This policy was in direct conflict with the 1995 Federal Rules, which state that ALL unwanted wolves would be removed from private lands.

Jett Ferebee: These people are sick and tired of USFWS saying they will be engaged and made aware of USFWS actions. This is being seen right now as Howard Phillips is flooding the refuge, which is now flooding wolf habitat and adjoining farmland. We do not want to be simply ìbe engagedî. To date this is a one sided public stunt. We demand to be heard, especially when USFWS activities impact our private land! To date USFWS, as many Government agencies do, simply plays the old ìrope a dopeî technique and hopes the complainer goes away.

Transparency

When people do not know what a federal agency is doing they tend to speculate, and they almost never speculate positively. The absence of clear timely information from the Service provides a breeding ground for suspicion and mis-information that if left untreated (as has been the case with the red wolf reintroduction effort) leads to distrust and loss of confidence. Today, certain segments of the community believe we are determined to expand the range of the red wolf throughout North Carolina and beyond while other stakeholders believe we are managing the wild population to extinction. Neither is accurate, but how is anyone to know given the lack of accurate and timely information from the Service?

Jett Ferebee: What is accurate? The Federal Rules stated that you were going to establish a  Nonessential Experimental Population (term you conveniently omitted from this report) on Federal lands. That is around 275,000 acres, yet now somehow USFWS has taken the recovery area size up to 1.7 million acres including all Federal, State and private land in five counties! What are we supposed to believe? Will the 1.7 million acres now grow to include all of NC next or even the entire Southeast? This is certainly what is being communicated by the NGOs and wolf scientists. Bait and switch is the private sector term for this

What evidence supports historic red wolf presence in NENC?

Jett Ferebee: The bottom line here is the fact that absolutely no physical evidence has ever been produced by anyone in 30 years of trying, that proves a red wolf was ever native to our State of NC. Absolutely the red wolf, that Michael Phillips described as being a human construct which was selectively bred in a zoo in Tacoma Washington, was NEVER native to NC. To Mr. Phillips credit, I have found him to be very open in his assessment of the red wolf program from beginning to end.  To build on Mr. Phillipsís above description (see peer review WMI report), he now even states in this report he supports:

ìAn effort to modify the red wolf captive breeding program to promote greater expression of the gray wolf component of the red wolf genome as manifest by a substantial increase in the average body size of red wolves.î

This is the honest information that USFWS must communicate!

If the ìscientific communityî thinks the Southeast needs a wolf, be honest about it. Be honest like Mike Phillips and just say you are going to breed something that may serve your purpose, but donít falsely hide behind the guise of the ESA.

Top Ten things everyone should know about state budget

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By Brian Balfour
Civitas Institute

The FY 2015-16 North Carolina state budget has been finalized. Was it worth the wait? Rather than wading through 400 pages of text, here are the Top Ten things you should know.
Note: This article does not include education issues, which are highlighted on Page B-13.

  1. Total spending is $21.7 billion. That marks an increase of $620 million over last year’s budget, equal to a rise of 3.1 percent. The state budget has more than doubled in the last 20 years – a growth rate nearly three times the rate of population growth. Indeed, over the past 30 years, state General Fund spending per person has grown by 50 percent – even after adjusting for inflation.
  2. More tax cuts coming. The state personal income tax rate will drop to 5.499 percent by 2017, down from the current 5.75 percent. The standard deduction will be increased slightly (for example from $15,000 to $15,500 to married filing jointly), and the tax credit for medical expenses is reinstated. Moreover, the corporate income tax rate will drop to 4 percent next year as included in the 2013 tax reform, and will be guaranteed to drop to 3 percent the following year regardless of revenue thresholds. The sales tax base, however, will be broadened to include some services such as repair, maintenance and installation services to tangible property, such as autos. Also, the corporate tax formula will move to a single sales factor, which is projected to amount to a tax cut of about $32 million over the biennium. On net, these tax changes are projected to save taxpayers nearly $400 million over the biennium.
  3. Local Sales Tax Distribution. The budget does not include a proposed change in the sales distribution formula that would have shifted most of the sales tax revenue to be distributed on a per capita basis rather than to the county where the taxes were collected. Instead, the additional revenue collected due to the sales tax base expansion is to be distributed by a formula favoring rural counties. For instance, Wake, Mecklenburg and Guilford counties would receive none of the additional revenue.  Moreover, the additional revenue is earmarked for local governments to spend on public schools, community colleges or economic development.
  4. Film Grants. $30 million of taxpayer dollars is appropriated for handouts to film production companies.
  5. Renewable Energy Tax Credit. North Carolina’s 35 percent state tax credit for “renewable energy” facility construction, which is tacked on to the federal credit of 30 percent, will be allowed to expire. As originally written, the credit was set to expire at the end of 2015; in a vain attempt to save this tax break, the solar industry spent heavily on lobbyists to get the credit extended in the budget.
  6. Medicaid reform. $225 million over two years is set aside to aid in the reform of North Carolina’s Medicaid program. Medicaid reform has been vigorously debated the last two years, as legislators seek to move away from the current fee for service model. The Senate has favored a managed care model, while the House has favored an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model for reform. The details of the reform are expected to be unveiled in separate legislation in the coming days.
  7. State employee pay. All state employees will be given a one-time bonus of $750 in this year’s budget. No across-the-board pay raises are included. Salary step increases are included for teachers, and other school administrators, along with highway patrol troopers, court clerks and magistrates. The budget also sets aside funding for pay raises for community college employees and correctional officers.
  8. Highway Fund Transfer. The annual $216 million transfer from the Highway Fund to the General Fund is ended. This makes more money available for transportation needs.
  9. Savings. A total of $600 million is set aside in the state’s Rainy Day Fund ($200 mil) and the Repair and Renovations fund ($400 mil).
  10. No changes to state retiree benefits. In spite of the elimination of health benefits for future state retirees being included in the Senate budget proposal, and rumors of secret meetings to transition state workers to a defined-contribution retirement program, no such changes were included in the budget deal.

Governor Pat Mccrory Joins Secretary Susan Kluttz in New Bern for Historic Tax Credit Tour

Governor_McCrory_HeadshotGovernor Pat McCrory will join N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz, Mayor Dana Outlaw, the Board of Aldermen, city staff and other local leaders Wednesday, April 8 at 2 p.m., as part of the state historic tax credit tour of historic buildings that have utilized the recently expired historic tax credits. Various stops throughout New Bern will be included and Governor McCrory, Secretary Kluttz and city officials will kick off the visit at the Isaac Taylor House located at 228 Craven Street.

“The Historic Tax Credits brought jobs and economic development to rural towns and big cities across North Carolina,” said Secretary Kluttz. “The rebirth of one abandoned downtown building has a ripple effect throughout a community and often sparks a renaissance of development in nearby structures. In addition, these historic buildings and mills are an emotional tie to our heritage and exemplify what makes North Carolina unique. These credits are critical for North Carolina’s economic recovery. ”

Historic tax credits were used by business and homeowners who owned historic properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places to preserve their buildings within defined guidelines. Used in 90 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, in both rural and urban areas, these historic tax credits boosted local economies and created jobs, while preserving communities’ historic cores and our state’s priceless historic character.

Since 1998, more than 2,400 historic tax credit projects have been completed statewide bringing more than $1.6 billion of private investment into North Carolina communities. North Carolina’s historic tax credit program ended on December 31, 2014.

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A defense of profiling!

ISIS threat continuation of trend

Special to the County Compass
A screener with the Transportation Security Agency checks the ID of a passenger at LaGuardia International Airport in New York City.

A screener with the Transportation Security Agency checks the ID of a passenger at LaGuardia International Airport in New York City.

In 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by a Muslim male.
2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by Muslim males.
3. In 1972 a Pan Am 747 was hijacked and eventually diverted to Cairo where a fuse was lit on final approach, to be blown up shortly after landing by Muslim males
4. In 1973 a Pan Am 707 was destroyed in Rome, with 33 people killed, when it was attacked with grenades by Muslim males.
5. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by Muslim males.
6. During the 1980s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by Muslim males.
7. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by Muslim males.
8. In 1985, the Cruise Ship Achilles Lauro was hijacked and a 70-year-old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by Muslim males.
9. In 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by Muslim males.
10. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by Muslim males.
11. In 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by Muslim males.
12. In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by Muslim males.
13. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take down the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by Muslim males.
14. In 2002, the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against Muslim males.
15. In 2002, reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded by—you guessed it was a— Muslim male.
16. In 2013, Boston Marathon bombing four innocent people including a child killed, 264 injured by Muslim males.
17. In 2014, two journalists and one humanitarian aid worker have been beheaded by Muslim males

Is there a pattern here that just might justify profiling?

Recently, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone — particularly fanatics intent on killing us — airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. So, ask yourself one question: Just how stupid are we???

Screeners now conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President’s security detail, 85-year old, Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim males alone lest the screeners be guilty of profiling.

Have the American people completely lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason?

Clip this article, photocopy it, and send to as many people as you can so that the Gloria Allreds and other stupid attorneys along with Federal Justices who want to thwart common sense, feel ashamed of themselves — if they have any such sense!

Do It! Or sit back, just keep complaining, and do nothing!!

Editor’s note: This news story refers to Gloria Allred, an American civil rights lawyer, noted for taking high-profile and often controversial cases.

Ouch! Obamacare hurts, says Vidant Health

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(Click on Map to Enlarge)
By Beth Anne Atkins | Special to the County Compass

 

GREENVILLE — As Vidant Health continues to be challenged by significant reductions in government reimbursements due to the Affordable Care Act, its Board of Directors approved the Fiscal Year 2015 operational plan this week, which provides the strategic direction and financial resources needed to guide and fund the health system during the next year. 

The health care system, which has seen significant reductions to the amounts reimbursed by both Medicare and Medicaid, is predicting an operating margin less than half of that budgeted in 2014. 

Art Keeney, board chairman, thanked the committees for their direction and contributions over the past several months in bringing together an operational plan and budget that “focuses on clinical effectiveness, healthy people and communities, and affordable care.” 

Keeney also emphasized that “Vidant Health remains a healthy organization in an extremely challenging industry that is moving very quickly from payment that is paid per visit or procedure to payment-for-value. This budget provides the funding necessary to continue Vidant’s position as the highest-valued health care system throughout Eastern Carolina.

The Vidant Health budget projects total operating and non-operating revenues of $1.574 billion, operating and non-operating expenses of $1.529 billion, yielding a profit of $44.6 million, which represents an operating margin of 1.8 percent — less than half of what was budgeted in 2014. Any margin will be reinvested back into facilities, new services, equipment, and system employees. 

Vidant Health will focus capital reinvestment (more than $128.3 million in the next year) on the beginning of a new cancer center, information systems, diagnostic services, normal equipment replacement and much-needed upgrades in the core infrastructure of the system’s hospitals. If further reductions in reimbursement occur, the ability to fund these capital requirements will be at risk.

The system estimates providing care to 63,300 inpatients, 1.2 million combined emergency department and outpatients visits, perform 45,000 surgeries, and deliver 6,100 babies during the next fiscal year.

Dr. Marcus Albernaz, finance committee chairman, explained the budget emphasizes building on the high-quality patient care already provided throughout the system and recognizing the importance of the system’s 10,572 full-time-equivalent employees. The budget funds salaries and benefits of $869 million for the system’s employees. He further indicated that Vidant Health is moving toward a more integrated system of care — versus a collection of individual sites — to provide the highest-quality care in the most cost-effective setting. 

Leaders will continue to focus on the most effective and efficient way to provide health care in eastern North Carolina by assessing all positions when they become vacant and looking at streamlining processes. 

Vidant Health, a mission-driven, not-for-profit corporation, owns, leases or has a majority membership interest in eight eastern North Carolina hospitals. The health system includes Vidant Beaufort Hospital, Vidant Bertie Hospital, Vidant Chowan Hospital, Vidant Duplin Hospital, Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, The Outer Banks Hospital, Vidant Medical Center, Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital, Vidant Home Health and Hospice, Vidant Wellness Centers, Vidant Medical Group and is affiliated with the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

 

Thomas Funn resigns as Vandemere commissioner

Thomas Funn, center, accepts a plaque of appreciation from Vandemere Mayor Judy Thaanum and his fellow commissioners during a brief ceremony earlier this month.

Thomas Funn, center, accepts a plaque of appreciation from Vandemere Mayor Judy Thaanum and his fellow commissioners during a brief ceremony earlier this month.

Special to the County Compass

VANDEMERE – When Thomas Funn and Corine Fisher got hitched way back in 1959, little did they know that 40 years later they would move from New Jersey to Vandemere, where Corine – daughter of Wealthy Fisher – had grown up!

Funn soon became involved in town affairs, agreeing in 1999 to fill a vacancy on the Vandemere town board. Unfortunately, Corine passed away in 2001, and the time has now come for Funn to resign his elected post and move on.

“This southern hospitality has been great,” said Funn in announcing his decision, “but the northern lights are calling me home.”

Mayor Judy Thaanum issued a statement praising Funn for his service, adding “he will be greatly missed by all in Vandemere.”

Jail remains on fast track

Derailment likely in November

From left, Beaufort County Commissioners Robert Belcher and Jerry Langley, both Democrats; and Al Klemm, a Republican, comprise the controversial Jail Committee.

From left, Beaufort County Commissioners Robert Belcher and Jerry Langley, both Democrats; and Al Klemm, a Republican, comprise the controversial Jail Committee.

By By Editorial Team | BeaufortObserver.net | Special to the County Compass

WASHINGTON, N.C. — Despite the fact that they don’t have the money to do the project, the Beaufort County Jail Committee, comprised of three County Commissioners – Robert Belcher, Jerry Langley, and Al Klemm — agreed Wednesday to proceed with planning.

Clearly there is a rush to spend as much as they can before the new county commission board takes over after the November elections.

Langley and Belcher, Democrats; and Klemm, a Republican who typically votes with the board’s Democrats, heard technical planning reports from contractors working on various pieces of the project. They heard reports from electrical contractors and architects about renovations to the existing courthouse. They spent some time listening to how they could redesign the main facility to produce some “cost savings.”

The significance of this discussion is that it is all based on an assumption that they will obtain permanent financing for the project at a fledgling industrial park site, just south of Chocowinity.

The County Manager then told the Committee what they already knew — that the Local Government Commission will not consider a financing application until after the new board is seated. He advised the Committee that they should therefore stop spending on the main project, vis-à-vis the site improvements and steel cells.

The Committee then decided to continue with the design work, which they were told is about 95 percent complete.

The effect of that decision, made by consensus but with little discussion, is to spend an additional $700,000 or so for design and plans that may just collect dust after November. We were asked after the meeting: “Why are they doing this?” Our response: “Because they think they can.”

Quantitative Easing begins to harden

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, DC – Five years of unprecedented money printing, a process known as Quantitative Easing, and perhaps the biggest driver of rising stock prices, will slowly ‘taper’ over coming months.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the Federal Reserve announced its decision to gently cut back on its huge monthly purchases of U.S. Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities, which have had the effect of pumping $85 billion of newly minted dollars into the economy each month.

Experts say the drastic measures by the nation’s central bank were a last-ditch effort to beat back the Great Recession.

Investors pushed the Dow Jones industrial average to a record close after the Fed decision, apparently placated by assurances that a “highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends.”


The following is a verbatim text of the Federal Reserve’s statement, issued Dec. 18:

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in October indicates that economic activity is expanding at a moderate pace. Labor market conditions have shown further improvement; the unemployment rate has declined but remains elevated. Household spending and business fixed investment advanced, while the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months. Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth, although the extent of restraint may be diminishing. Inflation has been running below the Committee’s longer-run objective, but longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee expects that, with appropriate policy accommodation, economic growth will pick up from its recent pace and the unemployment rate will gradually decline toward levels the Committee judges consistent with its dual mandate.

The Committee sees the risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market as having become more nearly balanced. The Committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, and it is monitoring inflation developments carefully for evidence that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term.

Taking into account the extent of federal fiscal retrenchment since the inception of its current asset purchase program, the Committee sees the improvement in economic activity and labor market conditions over that period as consistent with growing underlying strength in the broader economy.

In light of the cumulative progress toward maximum employment and the improvement in the outlook for labor market conditions, the Committee decided to modestly reduce the pace of its asset purchases. Beginning in January, the Committee will add to its holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $35 billion per month rather than $40 billion per month, and will add to its holdings of longer-term Treasury securities at a pace of $40 billion per month rather than $45 billion per month. The Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction. The Committee’s sizable and still-increasing holdings of longer-term securities should maintain downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative, which in turn should promote a stronger economic recovery and help to ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with the Committee’s dual mandate.

The Committee will closely monitor incoming information on economic and financial developments in coming months and will continue its purchases of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities, and employ its other policy tools as appropriate, until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially in a context of price stability. If incoming information broadly supports the Committee’s expectation of ongoing improvement in labor market conditions and inflation moving back toward its longer-run objective, the Committee will likely reduce the pace of asset purchases in further measured steps at future meetings. However, asset purchases are not on a preset course, and the Committee’s decisions about their pace will remain contingent on the Committee’s outlook for the labor market and inflation as well as its assessment of the likely efficacy and costs of such purchases

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee today reaffirmed its view that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens. The Committee also reaffirmed its expectation that the current exceptionally low target range for the federal funds rate of 0 to 1/4 percent will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent, inflation between one and two years ahead is projected to be no more than a half percentage point above the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal, and longer-term inflation expectations continue to be well anchored.

In determining how long to maintain a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy, the Committee will also consider other information, including additional measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial developments. The Committee now anticipates, based on its assessment of these factors, that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate well past the time that the unemployment rate declines below 6-1/2 percent, especially if projected inflation continues to run below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run goal. When the Committee decides to begin to remove policy accommodation, it will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals of maximum employment and inflation of 2 percent.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; James Bullard; Charles L. Evans; Esther L. George; Jerome H. Powell; Jeremy C. Stein; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Janet L. Yellen.

Voting against the action was Eric S. Rosengren, who believes that, with the unemployment rate still elevated and the inflation rate well below the federal funds rate target, changes in the purchase program are premature until incoming data more clearly indicate that economic growth is likely to be sustained above its potential rate.

 

Fed shutdown affects county

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer

6110_showcase_fed_shutdown_620x375BAYBORO – Pamlico County is being forced to make do with $10,300 less in weekly revenue, according to Finance Officer Mary Jane Westphal, who told elected officials Monday night that county government may be forced to tap savings in order to make up the shortfall.

The culprit? Well, the Congressional budget impasse, of course, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Uncle Sam’s financial tentacles are long and deep, if even remote Pamlico County feels the effects of the federal squabble.

In a handout to the county commissioners, Westphal noted that ‘Federal Administrative Reimbursements’ amount to exactly $10,318 per week, money that is split primarily among three county government departments: Social Services, Health, and Senior Services.

One bright spot, according to Westphal, is that rental income from housing federal inmates in the county’s 106-bed jail should arrive on schedule with little or no impairment.

“I guess they consider that to be an essential service,” joked the veteran finance officer.