Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Daren's 'Blueprint for Annexation' policy report has been published online today. You can find it here and take a look at the ideas for reform that Daren outlines and backs up with the extensive research he has been doing on the issue.
After you read the report, consider sending Daren an email and let him know what you think about the report.
Then follow up that email to Daren with an email to the Study Commission members telling them about the 'Blueprint' along with your thoughts about it.
There is also a one day Quiz about annexation that Daren has started online at the JLF 'Locker Room' blog. Daren has the first two questions posted now and will be posting more as the day goes along. See how well you do with the questions about NC annexation laws while you get ready for the Commission meeting tomorrow.
If you cannot attend the meeting tomorrow, you can listen to the meeting live by going to the General Assembly website 'Audio' page and opening the audio link for "Appropriations Committee Room (Rm 643)".
The meeting starts tommorow morning at 9:30 am and is scheduled to last until 11:30 am. If you can attend or listen live, and you care about annexation reform, please do listen to this meeting. The more people we have who hear for themselves how this issue is being discussed by the Commission, the better it will be for the effort to reform the laws during next years' Legislative Session.
Thanks to ALL who have written to the Commission Members!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
NOTE: TIME CHANGE
Members of the Joint Legislative Study Commission on Municipal Annexation
Senator Vernon Malone, Co-Chair
Senator R. C. Soles, Co-Chair
Representative D. Bruce Goforth, Co-Chair
Representative Paul Luebke, Co-Chair
Due to the short time frame before session, any member that has recommendations they would like to present to the committee must do so on the 17th.
The Joint Legislative Study Commission on
Municipal Annexation will meet on the following date:
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Room 643 Legislative Office Building
December 5, 2008
I hope that all of you who want to see NC Annexation Law changed have been writing, calling, and emailing the Joint Commission Members, letting them know what you want them to change about the annexation laws. http://www.stopncannexation.com/Joint_Committee.htm
Taking the time to do this is very important.
There are too many Legislators on the Joint Commission who think forced annexation is a good thing for North Carolina and the cities. The cities told them it was true, so they believe it.
These Legislators clearly haven't heard enough yet from the citizens who disagree. They need to hear a lot more from the citizens to balance out the years of repetition that they've heard from the cities.
If you can make it to Raleigh to attend the meeting on the 17th, that would be a real good way to emphasize the points you made in your previous communication with the Legislators. Think of your presence at the meeting as a visual underline and bold to what you wrote or said to them before the meeting. I wouldn't count on being able to say much more to them at this meeting. It doesn't look like the citizens are going to be given any other chances to weigh in about what needs to change. The meeting is only two hours long.
At the December 4th meeting, Chairman Malone became anxious to quickly adjourn the meeting soon after Professor Lawrence finished his presentation. He seemed more worried about getting to lunch on time than continuing any real discussion of the annexation issue. He also made it very clear that the December 17th meeting was going to be the "last call" for the members to weigh in with proposed changes. As you can see, this warning was repeated in the Official Notice of the meeting. There won't be much time to listen to all the members on this Commission.
A good number of the Senate Legislators on the Commission seem to be a bit bored with the excercise of holding these meetings and didn't have too much to say on the 4th.
It's almost like they don't think they really have any work to do.
Could it be that all the work has been done, or will be done, outside of these meetings?
I'd say yes.
And the rumors are going around from people closer to what's really going on that the Chairs are planning to meet with League Officials on the 16th.
I'd say the League has already had their private session with some of these Legislators and have given them the "approved" changes for the Commission to recommend.
Here is my “crystal ball” prediction on the final recommendations.
The final recommendations (as the Senate side will propose) are going to:
- Require all cities to adopt long range “Annexation Plans” like Charlotte and Raleigh currently use.
- Require all cities to offer amortized financing terms for water and sewer development charges.
- Tighten the statutory language that the cities ‘get around’ in order to annex narrow strips of land.
- Set up a State fund to help all cities pay for the water and sewer infrastructure when they annex low income/minority areas.
Recommendation 4 works nicely with the mission of the 'Institute for Emerging Issues' that the NC League of Municipalities helped establish at NCSU and now promotes.
The NCLM is really expanding their reach and influence into more and more aspects of government and policy all the time.
I'll report more on that another time.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
I arrived just before the start of the meeting. When I stepped out of the elevator and turned toward the meeting room, I saw people overflowing out of the double doors. When I walked into the meeting room it was standing room only and most of the people attending were citizens dressed in the signature red attire.
There were plenty of city officials and bureaucrats, but they were far outnumbered by the people who would like to see the municipalities reined in and stopped from abusing taxpaying property owners across North Carolina. These citizens included familiar faces of some who have been in this battle against forced annexation for many years, like Walter Murphy from Fayetteville. Today they were joined by some of the new faces of the latest victims of the horrible law, including the homeowners from Oak Level being annexed against their will into Rocky Mount.
The meeting itself turned out just as I thought it would in many respects. The Chair, Senator Malone, started the meeting by stating that there would be no time given to the public for comments. The meeting was going to be devoted to David Lawrence's presentation explaining the Annexation Statutes. It was an "informational meeting only" for the Senate members who had firmly declined at the end of the session in 2007 to be a part of the study that many House members wanted.
I talked to David Owens on that day in 2007 to try to find out why the Senate was refusing to endorse the study. His explanation was that the Senate remembers the last time annexation was studied and they didn't want to go through that again. All the time it took up! All the people beseiging the legislature about the issue! Not again!!
Funny how they remembered that much about the last study, but they now need a refresher course on the General Statutes that they are responsible for. It was apparently real important for them to hear David Lawrence from the School of Government explain annexation law to them again for the umpteenth time.
Kind of looks like an excuse to blow some of the extremely limited time this Commission has to examine what is actually going on in the real world of forced annexation. Hey! I have an idea! Just give our side a decent chance to tell them what's wrong with it and how to fix it.
But on the subject of someone speaking up about what's wrong with the law today, there were quite a number of the Commission members who weren't shy at all about laying the problems out on the table.
Larry Brown, Nelson Dollar, and Trudy Walend fired the opening salvos with questions for Professor Lawrence. They had questions about how other States deal with annexation; how NC cities are using annexation like a weapon against neighboring cities with the property owners being used like pawns. Questions about how the cities are providing (or not) water and sewer and other services. Rep. Walend tried to get Lawrence to explain the "five day window" that citizens have to submit applications for hook up in order to make the city bring the lines all the way to their property.
Lawrence was clearly trying to answer the questions "diplomatically" and Larry Brown 'called him out' on that. It looked to me like Lawrence was being very careful not to answer in a way that might upset the city lobbyists. He dodged any mention of the five day window until Larry Brown pinned him down on it. Go Trudy! Go Larry!
Nelson Dollar brought up the Nolan vs. Marvin case where the NC Supreme Court decided that annexing cities should actually have services to offer. Larry Brown brought up the problem with cities that really don't have significant "urban" services to offer being able to forcibly annex. He mentioned the other case that the Nolans took to court when Weddington also tried to annex their land.
Doug Aitken brought up the issue of what the members of the 1959 Study [that recommended giving cities the power to forcibly annex] were saying about the reasons to do it that would justify overruling the property rights of the citizens. This led to more interesting talk about provision of services and how much things have changed since 1959. Back then, only the cities were providing water, sewer, and zoning. Now we have Counties and special authorities providing these things and more. Dependence on cities for modern services is obsolete and it's time the cities face up to it and the legislature adapt State law to that fact of life.
Professor Lawrence ended up saying "I don't know" quite a few times during that meeting.
Lawrence was asked to explain the role of the Local Goverment Commission. That ended up being quite interesting and worthwhile.
Lawrence explained how NC is unique in having the 'LGC' as guardians of the fiscal health of the cities. He explained how the LGC was created during the 1930's depression when NC cities were going bankrupt. He gave the LGC the high credit for keeping the cities bond ratings high.
Yes, that's right, it is the fact that NC has the LGC providing fiscal oversight that keeps those city Bond Ratings high, _NOT forced annexation, (which represents a fraction of the growth of the cities). Having a few 'city initiated' annexations blocked by the property owners would not likely have a impact on the bond rating.
McCarley, Wegner, and Soles made feeble attempts to spin the discussion more in favor of the cities, but it wasn't working. Foriest tried to explore the possibly unconstitutional idea of establishing a pro-rated tax structure to make up for any delays in service provision.
The two County officials on the Commission, Grainger Barrett and Tina Hall, stepped up to the plate and threw some pitches toward the negative affect of city annexations on County revenue. This is where Wegner tried to shoot down the idea that it affected County balance sheets at all, but Ms. Hall came back and quickly put that attempt in it's place. Go Tina!
After all of this, I can tell you that the really good stuff was saved for last. In the end, Earl Jones spoke up and said that he'd like to see some statistics about the fiscal health of cities in other States where forced annexation is not an option. He wanted this data so the Commission could move past that and get down to doing the work of addressing the House Committee's concerns about protecting and restoring the property rights of citizens. YEAH Rep Jones!
Rep. Goforth seconded Rep. Jones comments and pointed out that the Commission needs to "get on target" because their time to do anything is short. YEAH Rep Goforth!
(Message to Goforth and Jones: We, the affected citizens, feel so marginalized in this debate that we strongly suspect that the final recommendations of the Commission have already been written. We'd like to help you change that.)
Chairman Malone was ready to wrap up the meeting and get out of there after that. He told all the members that they had better attend the next meeting because if the didn't their input would not be included in the final recommendations. Sounds pretty final to me. Dec 17th and "that's all folks!" was the message sent.
Larry Brown had the final suggestion of the day. He recommended that the Commission move the Dec 17th meeting to the auditorium or somewhere larger that would accomodate more of the public who want to attend. YEAH!
Stay tuned and you might want to plan to add yourself to the fun at that meeting.
Although I don't think that more three minute comments are going to add much to the debate, a large crowd hanging over the Commission's shoulders would definitely be _as Ms. Stewart says_ a "good thing".
Saturday, November 15, 2008
(*those in the effort to put an end to forced annexation)
And where is that?
"We" have, collectively, over the last ten years or so, been working toward putting an end to forced annexation. Yes, at least ten years. That is how long it's been since the New Hanover Good Neighbors group started the effort to go beyond battling their offending local City Council and took the battle through the courts to the Federal Fourth Circuit.
During the time frame when this GNU group poured their hearts and souls and resources into this judicial odyssey, the General Assembly had a Committee working on a study of municipal annexation. This study was authorized in 1996, and it took two years before the resulting Bill and legislation came forward in 1998.
Some type of outcry for reform has actually been ongoing for over thirty years. There were studies done in the 1980's also. You can find the records of the 1980 study and more at the School of Government website, where new pages of information have been added, dedicated to the history and current events in the annexation legislation battle:
The New Hanover Good Neighbors found the time and the commitment to attend all of those Study Commission meetings, in addition to pursuing their case through the courts. They presented recommendations to the committee that reflected the wishes of affected landowners. So what did the 1998 Commission do with those recommendations?
To read the record of these meetings should be quite enlightening to anyone today who feels equally committed to getting the law changed.
For starters in the lesson on how "annexation studies" have gone and what they have produced in changes to the law, take a look at the report from the 1980 study: LINK HERE
If nothing else, just look at the table of contents.
What do you see? Does it look familiar??
As Solomon lamented in Ecclesiastes, "There is nothing new under the sun."
As you read through this document, notice that this Committee, authorized by the Legislature, was comprised entirely of members from the League of Municipalities and the County Commissioners Association. You might also note that the tone and conclusions are dominated by the Municipal League's point of view. The County Commissioners Association folded in 1980 and failed to really stand up for what is right. We now have signs that some of our County officials are pushing back.
In this early study, you can also read ALL of the very same arguments for forced annexation that we continue to hear today over and over. When you read the city boosters claim that the NC annexation law was judged the best in the nation, know that the "authority" that they fall back on is an opinion from the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations on the merits of consolidation.
The ACIR opinion that they hold onto is an OLD opinion; based on an early view that urban areas should be consolidated. The cities were well represented on the ACIR Commission in the 50's and 60's. The ACIR has since revised their opinion on the benefit of consolidation, as evidence to the contrary has become apparent.
But the NCLM lobbyists know that they can conveniently skip over inconvenient facts, and continue to spew propaganda, because it has worked for them every time so far.
Well__Don't you feel like the time has come to say "ENOUGH"!! ?
ENOUGH with the studies!
ENOUGH with the NCLM approved tweaks to the law!
ENOUGH with throwing aside the input and recommendations from the landowners who have been run roughshod over with laws that enable predatory annexation by municipalities!
Enough with trotting out the same pro-city presentations by David Lawrence from the School of Government and half hour presentations by the Director of the League of Municipalities and City Attorneys, while shutting out presentations from policy experts who think the annexation law has serious flaws.
ENOUGH with "Annexation Studies" PACKED with known city apologists for keeping the law intact. Names and faces that show up on the roster of the Committees over and over again. Names like Clodfelter and Wegner to name a couple.
"WE" should be students of history in the annexation debate and savvy enough to learn from it. "We" should be able to recognize when the "dog & pony show" is being trotted out for the benefit of the record and the cities while the people are once again being run off into the weeds with a sham.
It should be abundantly clear that this 'Joint Legislative Committee on Municipal Annexation' is, and was always meant to be, a SHAM.
I, for one, will take no comfort out of being able to say "that's what I thought would happen" _after it is all over with.
The House Select Committee, the one that the Joint Committee swallowed up and disarmed, was born out of some sincerity towards reforming the law, and to moving the conversation in the right direction, but that Committee has been cut off at the knees. The members are still at the table, but they have been outnumbered. The defenders of city power are swaggeringly confident that they have everything, including the outcome, well within their control. The evidence of this is screaming at anyone paying attention:
1) The Senate had been refusing for over a year to participate in another study. When they felt the overwhelming outcry from all of us, they jumped in at the last minute with this Joint Commission as 'damage control'.
2) The timing gives them no time to legitimately study what should be done. Lots of available excuses for why they won't meet more than once or twice; _the elections, _the holidays, _the legislative deadline on the lifespan of the committee.
This commission is legislatively required to end the moment that the 2009 Session begins. Extension of its existence is not up for negotiation. Another Commission would have to be formed. Consider that State Law does not allow study commissions to meet while the General Assembly is in session. Even Standing Committees must meet between sessions and during recesses.
The writing is on the wall that the Joint Commission's "recommendations" are already written, hatched behind the scenes, and ready to launch.
The first meeting on December 4th is already scheduled to be taken up by another rerun of having David Lawrence explain NC Annexation Law. Every legislator on the Commission has heard this presentation before, but it's a handy time filler.
The Senate leadership clearly intended to stifle the conversation, not help it along. They clearly wanted to control what came out of any Annexation Study Committee and not to honestly listen to any arguments against forced annexation. Remember the arrogance with which they blocked the Moratorium Bill!
The friendly Legislators on the Commission need to hear from you encouraging them to stand up for what is right and for what the people want.
The unfriendly Legislators need to hear what the "line in the sand" is for the people and that anything less will be vocally opposed by the people! Tell them you know they are 'cooking the books' as to what comes out of this Commission!
Let them all know that no matter what they do, WE ARE ALL WATCHING!
REMEMBER that it was the increasing outcry from growing numbers of people across the State that made the House take action and the Senate scramble to regain control of where the annexation issue was going!!
THAT IS OUR STRENGTH!!
THAT IS OUR AVENUE TO SUCCESS in achieving the end of forced annexation!
We should learn from history and not let ourselves be led down a path to repeat it. The people need to take control of this issue in the General Assembly. This strategy requires more than just a couple of citizens on the Study Commission. It is going to take all the same efforts and response that hundreds (thousands?) of people took that pushed the Moratorium Bill through the House successfully and restored it from a gutting. That kind of grassroots outcry multiplied several times over is our strength and what is needed.
WE all need to enlist our friendly legislators to submit and sponsor one Bill that spells out what we, the affected people, really want. Then WE need to focus ALL of a unified grassroots outcry, like the outcry evident last session, toward the General Assembly, behind that one Bill.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
So here it is.
The last minute move by the Senate to jump into this "Study", (after they refused to have anything to do with it in 2007), looked real suspicious when the plan was announced at the end of the '08 Short Session. I suspect they aren't jumping in to be helpful to the people.
Daren Bakst has some interesting comments about the Committee makeup on the JLF Locker Room Blog.
It has taken the Leadership so long to appoint the members that it was starting to look like they were delaying on purpose.
AND SENATOR TONY RAND WAS APPOINTED!!
There is very little time left for the Committee to meet before the end of the year. The Long Session of 2009 begins in January.
Between now and then, we have the Holidays and a major election season to deal with. Many of these Committee members are up for re-election. It doesn't bode well for having any serious debate or analysis of the problems with the current annexation laws_ or any recommendations that resemble anything close to what the hundreds of people who spoke up for while the House Study Committee was looking at the laws and problems.
After playing this game with "Study Committees" for nearly a year, it might be time to change focus. Like I said, there are a good number of Legislators on this Committee who we already know are against the people ever being heard over the city advocates.
Some of them have good people running against them who could use more support from the people.
Check the "Candidates Page"
This election needs to send a message to the General Assembly. A message that rings louder than the outcry they heard at the Public Hearings and Rallies.A message that entrenched incumbents understand!
"YER OUTTA HERE!"
In the meantime, the contact information for all committee members is provided for the annexation reform warriors to use. These people should hear from us right away and regularly.
Get ready to push hard on the Legislators in 2009.
We know what we want and so do they.
The Legislators have studied this before many times.
It's time to act.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Yes...they adjourned the Short Session, and allowed Senator Rand to file the Moratorium Bill in the round file under his desk, but the Senate as a whole responded to the pressure from all of the calls and letters from people across NC. In response, the Senate decided that they would now have a joint committee to take over what the House Select Committee had decided to accomplish on their own. This is an 'about face' after the Senate flatly refused to have anything to do with an annexation study at the end of the 2007 Long Session.
Without the tireless and committed efforts of so many networked people over the last year or so, I doubt that the Senate would be joining the conversation right now.
But let's not pop any champagne corks over this turn of events just yet. Let's take a cold hard look at other possible motivators for this move by the Senate. The devil is going to be in the details with this Study Committee and we have to be realistic about the potential pitfalls. A look at the potential pros and cons would be useful:
- We have both the House and the Senate studying the issue.
- We have a targeted opportunity to educate the Senate about what the cities are doing from our perspective and front line experience.
- Resulting changes to the law might move more quickly through to passage.
- The size of this Committee will increase the time spent in debate.
- The membership of the Committee could end up weighted in favor of the cities.
- Much of the discussion that has already taken place with the House Committee will have to be repeated.
- The opinions of the House Select Committee members will be diluted and possibly outnumbered by the additional members.
- Consensus will be more difficult to achieve.
Most of you are probably familiar with the quote "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it's mistakes". That is why we need to understand what has been done and what has been said on both sides of the issue before today. If we think that we are breaking new ground and bringing new information to today's discussion, when in reality we are simply re-inventing the wheel, we give our opponents the advantage in this discussion more than they already have. We can't afford to kid ourselves about the level of skill that our opposition has acquired over the years in defending itself against possible arguments we bring to the table.
The NCLM has been down this road many times before. Their counterparts in other States have gone through these challenges before also. They are networked on a National scale to hone their skills together against the waves of protest that build to the point where the State lawmakers react with a 'Study'. The National League of Cities is the umbrella for the defense of annexation laws that favor cities and the NCLM Director holds a key position in the NLC. They collectively have lawyers and staff by the legion and dedicated funding just for this kind of defense.
On the reform side of the battlefield, the troops are often outnumbered Legislators who believe that forced annexation is wrong on principle, along with varying numbers of people from a new crop of citizen activists; people who have been recently handed the task of absorbing laws and historical facts about municipal annexation in a crash course time frame. Valiant efforts have been undertaken by some of these groups, progress made, and small successes achieved at times, but the goal for true reform remained.
It's a tall order to drink all that in and put it all in historical perspective in order to effectively take the conversation and the effort for reform to a higher level of success, but I believe we can do it if we are informed, realistic, and committed to an extended effort.
We have already spontaneously created a new element in the annexation battle in North Carolina, and that is the connected, coordinated activity, information sharing, and brainstorming between all the various groups across the State. This has never been achieved before.
Less than four years ago, the groups of property owners who rose up and organized to fight against forced annexation were fighting in isolation, unaware of similar efforts being waged in some other part of the State. Each group focused singularly on what seemed to be the logical target for their efforts; the offending City Government; not realizing until it was nearly over that the laws on the books in Raleigh were stacked against their success. Taxes were saved, lawyers were paid, but eventually new city residents were forced to accept their new status and they moved on the best that they could. We now refuse to leave it at that and that is progress in the right direction!
Let's use a knowledge of history and arm ourselves to take the battle to a higher level.
After spending some time researching and looking at the past committees on annexation, useful information is revealed. The goal was to see how the membership of these past studies were decided, what prompted the study, who was involved, what was said, and what the resulting changes to the annexation laws were.
There was one significant study in 1983 that produced law changes and another in 1998.
The 1983 Study produced significant changes to the law, and some changes that all of us who've had to fight forced annexation have come to know. The 1998 study has some interesting details regarding what prompted it, the public involvement, and what it accomplished.
I'll be posting the related information that I have found regarding these studies to the StopNCAnnexation "Resources" page soon.
For now, for our side of this effort for reform, the immediate task at hand is to continue to contact Senators and Representatives about who is going to selected as members for the Committee. The NCLM has been given two seats at the table and that will be in addition to the one member of the House Select Committee that they had in Judith Wegner. Past studies have allowed the NCLM to choose city officials for members, but the language in the current study is written in a way that would allow Ellis Hankins himself to be a member.
Two seats will go to the County Commissioners Association to choose, and they are likewise open to seating direct members of their organization. This is another place where we need to try to steer the selection toward members who aren't "in the pocket" of the city advocates.
The rest of the members are at the discretion of Speaker Hackney and Pres. Pro Tem Basnight. The language doesn't specify legislators only, but selecting legislators has been the tendency in the past, unless otherwise specifically stated that a citizen or delagate from an interest group was to be chosen, assurances from legislative staff not withstanding.
Let's continue to weigh in with the Legislators about this Committee, because they need to start picking the members and get down to work. How much can they get done before the elections and Holidays even if they start ASAP? Let's not stand idly by and let them use delay tactics without a fight.
Friday, July 18, 2008
One somewhat surprise for the annexation reform citizens was thrown into HB2431 at the last minute. I have no details yet on who was behind the scenes negotiating, but a Joint Study of Municipal Annexation was authorized in this Bill today.
You can look at the language authorizing the study in Section 46 of HB2431
I don't know if it matters who were the original sponsors and co-sponsors of the Study Bill that was used as a vehicle for additional studies, but it might be worth noting. The most important thing to note is who will be on the Committee and who will appoint them.
You will see a number of things that do not bode well for our side of this issue.
- First, there is the fact that the members of this Committee will be chosen by Speaker Hackney and President Pro Tem Basnight. They have shown us that they are more interested in what the NCLM has to say and wants than what we are interested in seeing done with the annexation laws.
- This Committee is HUGE. And the NCLM has TWO SEATS at the table directly! Never before in any study has the NCLM been given direct members ON the Committee. They have always been given priority time to present and clearly have open back room access to Legislators on Committees that are discussing issues important to them.
- There is NO direct input or membership on this Committee from any other non-governmental unit. No Citizens! No Annexation Policy Experts critical of the current law!
- The time that the Committee has from now until December 31st is short and filled with distractions like the Elections and the Holidays.
- This Committee will replace the House Select committee that was much more favorably seated with reform minded legislators. The Select Committee members will be moved to the Joint Committee.
But here is a point to consider; IF the Senate had cooperated last year at the end of the Long Session of 2007, the Study committee that would have resulted would not have looked much different. It would have been stacked with pro-city legislators, and it would not likely have had any citizen members. It might have been smaller in numbers, and it might not have had NCLM members appointed to it.
Some in the annexation reform effort had set their goal toward working for another study of annexation rather than rally the effort behind some or one of the many Bills to enact actual change that have been introduced in the last several years. Some believed that to ask for more than a study was a losing game. Perhaps it would have been. Perhaps not.
So here we are.
It's time to decide if we have enough committed people to step up and put heads together to come up with a strategy to defeat this obvious attempt to high-jack and railroad the people's demand for real reform instead of into a repeat of the past where not much changed in favor of the affected citizens.
Share your thoughts on this with me.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
GOOD NEWS TODAY!
This skirmish in the battle for reform was a BIG winning step forward!
When HB2367 was heard on the House floor for the Third Reading, it was another wrestling match between the People and the City Lobbyists, and this time the People prevailed.
The NCLM was there in full force and they were doing all they could with their insider tricks to defeat any attempt to restore the Bill to the status of a REAL moratorium. It was quite a show that they put on, passing notes to their friendly Legislators on the floor and watching over them.
Ellis Hankins was texting away on his PDA nearly the whole time. At some point, he did not look happy. Maybe that was when Speaker Hackney left the session early, so did not Chair when H2367 was open for debate.
I watched out in the lobby as Hankins and Romanet dictated some notes that were written on what looked like a copy of HB2367. This was promptly delivered by a House Page to Rep. Carney. She was soon consulting with Rep Ross, Rep Lucy Allen and some others.
Carney made excuses for voting FOR the intact Moratorium Bill when it was heard in Finance! Allen made a last ditch effort to block the amendment by telling the House members that they could vote against the amendment and then would still be able to vote for a moratorium. Your letters to the Legislators informing them that the Committee subsitute was NOT a moratorium made sure that statement didn't fly. I'm wondering if Lucy Allen could speak if the NCLM didn't tell her what to say. And she represents a largely unincorporated District. ??
Carney and Allen were the most vocal opposition to amending the Bill back to a real moratorium, right behind Rep Dan Blue's impassion plea for the Cities. Whoops...he forgot the people!
But Earl Jones gave an excellent rebuttal to Blue's defense of the cities. He pointed out that they were elected to represent the people, not the cities. He also pointed out that Blue's argument for exempting the larger cities "that do it right" would be unequal treatment and unfair to all the other cities in NC.
Please check the Roll Call Vote on the NCGA website:
Rep GoForth, Leubke and all the Study Committee members should be thanked for all that they went through to get this moratorium through. With your help, they pulled it through.
Representative Bruce Goforth, Co-Chair Bruceg@ncleg.net
Representative Paul Luebke, Co-Chair Paull@ncleg.net
Representative Larry R. Brown Larrybr@ncleg.net
Representative Nelson Dollar Nelsond@ncleg.net
Representative Earl Jones Earlj@ncleg.net
Representative Louis M. Pate, Jr. Louisp@ncleg.net
Representative Edgar V. Starnes Edgars@ncleg.net
Representative Fred F. Steen, II Fredst@ncleg.net
Saturday, June 28, 2008
What will be the fate of HB2367? Why is it's fate critical to the annexation reform effort as a whole?
We have all known that this battle for meaningful reform was going to be a David vs Goliath struggle between the people and the City Lobbyists. We also quickly realized that the Leadership of the House AND Senate are resisting the citizens calls for real reform. Whether the Leadership has decided to align itself with the City Lobbyists over the people or not, this is how it appears.
Speaker Hackney told The Asheville Citizen-Times that "the current annexation law that we have in North Carolina has been good for North Carolina."
It sounds to me like he was quoting the Director of the NCLM. When some citizens at the 2007 Rally spoke to him about annexation reform he suggested that they take their grievances to the NC League of Municipalities. Was he telling us who is in charge of The Peoples House by suggesting this course of action?
These facts have made the fate of HB2367 a critcal skirmish in this battle for reform. WE must push back hard on the House and Senate Leadership as to what is happening to the very first Bill to come out of the House Annexation Study Committee.
WE CAN NOT LET WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO THIS BILL STAND!
When this Moratorium Bill went into the Judiciary II Committee is was intact. When it came out it was a toothless sham. It doesn't merit the Title of a Moratorium Bill because it is NOT a moratorium as it is. WE have to get that changed before it is voted out of the House.
Watch this short video of the Judicairy II meeting where the teeth were pulled: Judiciary II Meeting Video
There was no discussion of the true impact of the amendment. It was not explained clearly. The Committee was told that the proposed amendment would "just allow the cities to plan" during the moratorium. The Committee members did not question the details of what they were being asked to vote for. The amendment was rushed through to a voice vote. Did any of them know that this was going to be the fate of the Bill ahead of time? Can we blame them all for what happened? We will never know for sure.
On the later second amendment that changed the moratorium dates, Rep. Folwell was the lone no vote.
But this we do know; the damage to the Bill must be reversed before the Bill is passed out of the House. If not, the Bill will be a victory for the City Lobbyists. If they win this skirmish, how much harder will it be to stop their efforts later when meaningful reform is on the table?
Here is what I suggest that we, the people, do:
Every member of the House must hear from all of us immediately. Every email should copy Speaker Joe Hackney. What we say should be concise and firm.
House Contact information
The Judiciary II Committee Subsitiute for HB2367 is a gutted Bill. It has been amended to where it is no longer a moratorium at all.
We are asking you to restore HB2367 to 'Version I'. This version was overwhelmingly voted out of the Finance Committee in a bi-partisan show of support for the recommendations of the House Select Committee to Study Municipal Annexation.
The Judiciary II Committee substitute for HB2367 is NOT a moratorium.
The House Study Committee recommended a MORATORIUM. We the people want a moratorium. Stand up and make this right when it comes before you on the floor of the House next week.
House Leadership, Joe Hackney 919-733-3451 Email: Joeh@ncleg.net
Together, we ARE being heard in the General Assembly, and together we CAN push back against the undue influence of the City Lobbyists and sold out Legislators.
This recent blog post to the JLF Locker Room Blog illustrates what the City advocates want to do to this Moratorium Bill and to us:
"Who will govern the governors? There is only one force in the nation that
can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power, and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government" -- Thomas Jefferson
Full list of House Member Email:
Almaa@ncleg.net; Kellya@ncleg.net; Marthaa@ncleg.net; Lucya@ncleg.net; Carya@ncleg.net; Marilyna@ncleg.net; Jeffba@ncleg.net; firstname.lastname@example.org; Curtisb@ncleg.net; Danb@ncleg.net; Johnbl@ncleg.net; Aliceb@ncleg.net; Joeb@ncleg.net; Vanb@ncleg.net; Williambr@ncleg.net; Larrybr@ncleg.net; Brub@ncleg.net; Angelab@ncleg.net; Beckyc@ncleg.net; Waltc@ncleg.net; Debbiec@ncleg.net; Georgec@ncleg.net; Lorenec@ncleg.net; Nelsonc@ncleg.net; Lindac@ncleg.net; Triciac@ncleg.net; Jimcr@ncleg.net; Billcu@ncleg.net; Billd@ncleg.net; Leod@ncleg.net; Margaretd@ncleg.net; Jerryd@ncleg.net; Nelsond@ncleg.net; Beverlye@ncleg.net; Bobe@ncleg.net; Billf@ncleg.net; Jeanf@ncleg.net; Susanf@ncleg.net; Dalef@ncleg.net; Phillipf@ncleg.net; Kennethf@ncleg.net; Pryorg@ncleg.net; Mitchg@ncleg.net; Rickg@ncleg.net; Bruceg@ncleg.net; Melanieg@ncleg.net; Robertg@ncleg.net; Jimg@ncleg.net; Joeh@ncleg.net; Philliph@ncleg.net; Larryh@ncleg.net; Tyh@ncleg.net; Jimha@ncleg.net; Priceyh@ncleg.net; Deweyh@ncleg.net; Markh@ncleg.net; Hughh@ncleg.net; email@example.com; Georgeho@ncleg.net; Juliah@ncleg.net; Sandrah@ncleg.net; Path@ncleg.net; Verlai@ncleg.net; Maggiej@ncleg.net; Lindajo@ncleg.net; Earlj@ncleg.net; Carolynju@ncleg.net; Carolynj@ncleg.net; Rick@ncleg.net; Joek@ncleg.net; Jhl@ncleg.net; Davidl@ncleg.net; Jimmyl@ncleg.net; Marvinl@ncleg.net; Paull@ncleg.net; Grierm@ncleg.net; Marymc@ncleg.net; Dannym@ncleg.net; Patm@ncleg.net; Williamm@ncleg.net; Marianm@ncleg.net; Mickeym@ncleg.net; Anniem@ncleg.net; Timm@ncleg.net; Wiln@ncleg.net; Billo@ncleg.net; Earlinep@ncleg.net; Louisp@ncleg.net; Garlandp@ncleg.net; Raymondr@ncleg.net; Karenr@ncleg.net; Deborahr@ncleg.net; Ruths@ncleg.net; Drews@ncleg.net; Mitchells@ncleg.net; Tims@ncleg.net; Pauls@ncleg.net; Edgars@ncleg.net; Fredst@ncleg.net; Bonners@ncleg.net; Rons@ncleg.net; Culliet@ncleg.net; Charlest@ncleg.net; Thomt@ncleg.net; Joet@ncleg.net; Russellt@ncleg.net; Aliceu@ncleg.net; Williamw@ncleg.net; Trudiw@ncleg.net; Tracyw@ncleg.net; Edithw@ncleg.net; Rayw@ncleg.net; Jenniferw@ncleg.net; Rogerw@ncleg.net; Winkiew@ncleg.net; Larryw@ncleg.net; Michaelw@ncleg.net; Douglasy@ncleg.net;
Saturday, June 14, 2008
In the gallery, the citizens of NC were well represented by people from many areas across NC.
Doug Aitken, Ron Van Hoover, and Tony Tetterton spoke decisively on behalf of reform.
The NCLM was there with the presence of Andrew Romanet and a gaggle of city planners he claimed to be speaking for.
Also there for the cities was Beau Mills of the Metropolitan Coaltion, another branch of the City Lobbyists. They sure look a bit too comfortable as they move among the legislators, but Andy Romanet actually tried to sound humble when he went to the podium to speak. Someone must of told him to tone down the arrogance. He even tried to be funny by feigning ignorance. He claimed that he didn't know the definition of "minion", a noun that was used by supporters of reform to describe him.
Rep McComas comments about the use of forced annexation being a vicious circle of abuse were great and they reflected an informed honesty about how cities are using forced annexation. Most of the legislators who spoke in favor of the moratorium were refreshingly knowledgable about the reality of how forced annexation has serious problems.
The bottom line regarding what's wrong with forced annexation was best expressed by Rep Faison when he said that forced annexation was "...taxation without representation" and that it was a "taking".
Rep Stam should be thanked for proposing a roll call vote on the Bill. The minority on the Committee tried to block that but were unsuccessful. The vote was 25 to 4 in favor of the moratorium. So the Bill moves to the House Judiciary Committee. In regard to that, I came across this interesting blog on the E-Lee Dispatch:
So the focus needs to be on the Senate. There is a lot of individual support in the Senate, but the Senate leadership is clearly in no mood to cooperate on the move toward annexation reform.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Love Has Key Hand in Annexation Bill
Bill Lands In His Committee
The issue of a moratorium on forced annexation (see prior post on issue) has cleared the Senate and gone to the House Judiciary Committee, where Jimmy Love (D-Lee) is vice chair. Representative Love is scheduled to chair the next meeting of the House Judiciary Committee.
He has indicated his support for the bill as long as it applies only to forced annexation and expects the bill to clear the committee with little difficulty. Representative Love said that sponsors of the bill have indicated to him that they have the votes on the House floor to pass the legislation.
Posted by L. Keith Clark at 1:09 PM
Senator Basnight, Senator Rand, Senator Holliman, and Senator Soles all need to hear from a lot of people.
R.C. Soles continues to treat badly those people he helped the Mayor of Bolton forcibly annex without their knowledge.
It might be time to have a letter campaign to the Senators. Not email, but an actual letter delivered by the post office. Emails get lost in the hundreds that arrive in the inboxes and are easy to ignore. Stacks of letters being delivered are not that easy to overlook.
Senator Brock and Senator Berger deserve our clear support for their vocal, public and eloquent support for reform of forced annexation. All the other Senators who support reform NEED our support.
Here's a list of the Senate Majority Leadership:
President: Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue
President Pro Tempore: Senator Marc Basnight
Deputy President Pro Tempore: Senator Charlie Smith Dannelly
Permanent Democratic Caucus Chairman: Senator R. C. Soles, Jr.
Majority Leader: Senator Tony Rand
Majority Whip: Senator Katie G. Dorsett
Democratic Caucus Secretary: Senator Charles W. Albertson
Friday, May 16, 2008
First, UNC-TV is airing a show on the annexation reform debate tonight at 7:30 pm.
Advocates for both sides have been interviewed, so it should be interesting to watch.
The show is called 'North Carolina Now'; Legislative Review.
The post about the Annexation Moratorium Bill has people responding by saying that the exclusion of Satellite Annexations is not important since we are working for reform of Forced Annexation. This is true in a narrow way but there is more to consider here.
We can concede that satellite annexations can't be forced annexations as governed by the Statutes in 160A, and therefore shouldn't be relevant to our concerns.
Okay... except for the relevant fact that cities have been enacting ordinances making annexation of satellite areas MANDATORY _ and that the use of satellite annexation has contributed to the creation of those "dough nut holes" in the cities that the forced annexation apologists frequently bring to the table to defend the need for forced annexation.
These are the least of the points that have relevance, but these particular problems are getting bigger because the city lobbyists have expanded and overridden the original limits put on the use of satellite annexation. They have gained exemptions every year since the cities were granted the power to satellite annex. The cities originally could not have satellite areas that collectively exceeded 10% of the total central city or were located more than 3 miles from the actual city limits.
Since the original law was passed in the '90's, nearly every NC city has been granted exemption from the 10% limit. Now they are lobbying for extensions of the 3 mile limit and some cities have been granted this extended reach. More will quickly follow.
This policy flies in the face of two other excuses for forced annexation: "the efficient extension of urban infrastructure" and "orderly urban growth".
The city lobbyists have succeeding in having it both ways in the General Assembly.
Above and beyond all of this, the most egregious problem that the release of the Moratorium Bill language highlights to the citizens of NC is a lack of legislative process transparency and possibly a capricious disregard for legal procedure and the rule of law.
The last time the Municipal Annexation Study Committee met publicly, they voted to recommend a moratorium on involuntary AND satellite annexation. Period.
It was immediately obvious that the City Lobbyists didn't like the inclusion of satellite annexation in a moratorium. We all expected them to weigh in and oppose the inclusion of satellite annexation with claims that they are all voluntary in nature. But when they would be given this public opportunity to make their case, the proponents could also make the case to keep satellite annexation in the moratorium.
But when did that debate occur??? IT DIDN'T!! At least, not for our side it didn't.
How and when was the decision made to ignore the public vote of the Committee and erase part of what they voted for? Who was involved in this decision? Shouldn't this have been done during a publicly held meeting of the Committee?
This makes the proposed Bill's omission of part of what was voted on outrageous!
Most citizens suspect or know that the General Assembly is run by a few power brokers, but c'mon.... Why don't we just send most of the Legislators home for good and admit that the State is governed by a handful of people and be done with the pretense.
The debate over reform of forced annexation has been lopsided from the beginning.
During the few times that the Committee has met, outside of the Public Hearings, the advocates for keeping forced annexation have been given ample time in front of the Committee to give lengthy presentations. Professor Lawrence from the UNC School of Government was given an entire meeting to give a presentation that the legislators have heard numerous times before.
Granted, a refresher course is not a bad idea, but the S.O.G. is not reform friendly.
The School of Government is practically a creature of the NCLM and a entity that gives undue authority to the argument for Involuntary Annexation. The S.O.G. is not a fan of reform no matter how neutral and 'above it all' they try to appear.
Another meeting gave the Director of the NCLM over 30 minutes to repeat his well worn and shallow defense of Involuntary Annexation. The City Lobbyists can confidently stand in front of our legislators and declare what the will and will not tolerate.
The voice of the citizens are squeezed to snippets and dismissed as less important.
Hankins was preceded by an equally generous slot of time taken by the Charlotte City Attorney waxing poetic about how wonderful forced annexation has been for Charlotte. Having the Charlotte City Attn. speak was a blatant power play by the City Lobbyists. Having Law Professor, Judith Wegner on the Committee is another.
She is actively helping the cities and their lobbyists behind the scenes.
The pro-reform side has been left with Public Hearings that gave us 3 minute blocks to try and make a case against forced annexation. People have clearly done an outstanding job of highlighting the abuses in spite of the limits, and the letters to legislators are having an impact, but we also need time to make logical reasoned presentations.
When we finally were given 20-30 minutes at the last meeting where Tony Tetterton presented his excellent Power Point showing clear abuses, that was met with an arrogant protest with threats from the City Lobbyist/Attorney, Andrew Romanet. Romanet was not even corrected to state his name for the record when everyone else who failed to do that was.
Doug Aitken, the other non-legislator Committee member that the House Leadership has allowed our side to have actively included in the debate, has made a valiant and valuable contribution to the argument against forced annexation, but I suspect that he feels some marginalization regarding all of the discussions on the issue between the Legislators and others.
I'll wager that he was not even made aware of the discussions that led to the Bill language that we have going forward and only became aware of the change when he was sent a copy of the proposed Bill.
The fact that the citizens are being kept at an arms length at best, and totally in the dark at the worst, in regard to the discussion on reforming forced annexation, is what we should be standing up against as strongly or even more so than we are standing up and speaking up for real, meaningful change to the Involuntary Annexation Laws.
Enough of having the legislative process stacked against the citizens and in favor of special interests.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT to adopt a moratorium on involuntary
annexations, as RECOMMENDED by the House Select Committee on MUNICIPAL
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. No resolution of consideration, resolution of intent, or annexation ordinance may be adopted under Parts 2 or 3 of Article 4A of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes from the date this act becomes law until June 30, 2009. If any annexation proceeding has been initiated under those Parts prior to the date this act becomes effective but the annexation ordinance has not yet been adopted, any provision of law requiring any action or notice by the municipality or any person within a certain period of time is tolled during the suspension of authority provided by this section.
SECTION 2. An annexation ordinance adopted under Parts 2 or 3 of Article 4A of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes that has an effective date on or after the day this act becomes law shall not become effective until after June 30, 2009, unless the municipality by ordinance adopts a new effective date later than June 30, 2009 for the annexation ordinance. An annexation ordinance that was adopted under Parts 2 or 3 of Article 4A of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes prior to the effective date of this act and is the subject of litigation in any court on theeffective date of this act shall not become effective until after June 30, 2009, unless the municipality by ordinance adopts a new effective date later than June 30, 2009 for the annexation ordinance.
SECTION 3. This act shall not apply to any annexation ordinance adopted under Parts 2 or 3 of Article 4A of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes that has an effective date on or before the day this act becomes law, if the ordinance is not yet effective solely due to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
SECTION 4. If any municipality has adopted its budget ordinance for the 2008-2009 fiscal year prior to the date this act becomes effective and the total amount of assessed valuation estimated in that budget ordinance has been reduced because of this act, the municipality may amend the budget ordinance to account for this act including establishment of a different tax rate.
SECTION 5. This act is effective when it becomes law.
So what happened to the Satellite Annexation Moratorium??
When did the Committee meet to decide to exclude this from the language?
Did their vote on April 23 mean anything at all?
Is this the way that things are done?
Now you see it now you don't?
I guess so.....
What else is scheduled to disappear behind the closed doors??
At least one Committee member is quite proud of the "NO" vote they cast regarding the idea of a moratorium and is actively working on behalf of the cities.
Hey Doug! We need you to lobby as hard for us!
The NCLM is busy collecting information from the cities showing how a moratorium would impact them. They will bring all this to the General Assembly as ammunition against our pleas to the GA to put a stop to the abuses of the current annexation laws.
Have you called or written to the House and Senate Leadership and your local Representative and Senator?
House Leadership, Joe Hackney 919-733-3451 Email: Joeh@ncleg.net
Senate Leadership, Marc Basnight (919) 733-6854 Email: Marcb@ncleg.net
See the information about the Rally @ http://stopncannexation.com/rally_2007.htm
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Combine this with the recent interview of the House Leader Rep Hackney where he defers to the NCLM on the issue of froced annexation, http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200880509096 and you can see that the citizens are going to have to rally an even larger show of force in speaking to these Legislators.
Published on Sunday, May 11, 2008
Bill would put annexations on pause
By John FuquayStaff writer
RALEIGH — An annexation bill expected to be filed in the legislature’s short session could delay an expected showdown between Fayetteville and the upscale Gates Four community. If approved, the bill would place a one-year ban on involuntary annexations, giving lawmakers time in the January 2009 session to consider changing the law.
Fayetteville annexed 42,000 residents of western Cumberland County in 2005. Gates Four was excluded by a court-approved three-year delay. The delay is about to expire. The average tax value of a Gates Four home is $225,000. If the annexation goes through, homeowners would pay an average of $1,300 more in property taxes.
Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand questions whether the annexation bill even qualifies for consideration.
Short-term sessions — held in even-numbered years — are mostly for midterm adjustments to the biennial budget. Bills recommended by a study committee also can be considered, but Rand said the annexation bill was not recommended by a joint study committee of House members and senators. “I don’t know how it complies,” said Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat and chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. “It’s a House committee, so it wouldn’t meet our rules.” As Rules Committee chairman, Rand plays a powerful role in assigning bills to committees. He also believes cities should have the right to annex territory but said he would listen to opposing views.
As it stands, Fayetteville could begin the legal work of annexing Gates Four on July 1 and make the annexation effective no sooner than July 1, 2009. Those terms were reached in a 2004 settlement that stemmed from Fayetteville’s last attempt to annex the community’s 1,400 residents.
Rep. Bruce Goforth, a Buncombe County Democrat and chairman of the committee recommending the one-year ban, said the bill could be heard by the Senate if it passes in the House. “There is a lot of energy in the Senate on this,” he said. “It’s something that needs to be done.” The bill would halt forced annexations through June 30, 2009. Voluntary annexations could continue, Goforth said.
Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne said the City Council hasn’t reached a consensus on the issue, but he expects the city staff will recommend annexing Gates Four sometime next month. At a council meeting earlier this year, three of the council’s 10 members opposed annexing Gates Four.
Cities annex property to manage growth. A state law prevented Fayetteville from annexing land for many years, and growth around the city occurred without zoning laws or paving standards.
Annexation opponents say residents often wait years to receive municipal services, such as utility connections, but they must pay city property taxes immediately. Other residents, such as those in Gates Four, say they already have utilities, trash collection, police and fire protection, and would gain no services despite paying higher property taxes.
While Fayetteville has yet to declare its intentions, Gates Four is bracing for another fight. “We’re assuming they’re going to start the process,” said Mike Molin, a Gates Four Homeowners Association board member. “If they start the process, you’ve got to find something to sue them over. That’s probably what we’ll do.” Molin said residents would prefer annexation by nearby Hope Mills.
Hope Mills Mayor Eddie Dees said the town has no jurisdiction over Gates Four, and annexation by Hope Mills would require legislative approval.
RELATEDShort money means a short legislative session
Staff writer John Fuquay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 828-7641.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The Village of Marvin is at it again: http://www.charlotte.com/breaking_news/story/598820.html
Wendell Commissioners oppose moratorium plan
And now the good news:
The Editor of the Freedom Communication, Inc. Newpapers has published an excellent editorial in support of a temporary moratorium on forced annexation. This editorial has appeared in a number of their newspapers, including the Kinston Free Press and the Jacksonville Daily News. We need to thank them for being consistent supporters of property rights issues for years, including their support for putting an end to forced annexation.
'Forced' shouldn't be part of policy in free society
A temporary hold on annexations?
In a free society, property owners should have the legal status that would allow them to choose whether or not to be taken into a city or town.
April 28, 2008 - 6:34PM
Some encouraging news came out of a special legislative committee that is studying municipal annexations. The study panel wants the state to enact a one-year moratorium on involuntary annexations.
While we'd like to see forced annexations banned altogether, this moratorium proposal is a step in the right direction. It's just that the idea of "force" doesn't mix very well with the idea of a free society.
It's worth noting that a number of cities and towns across North Carolina don't use the involuntary annexation powers that the General Assembly has given. They should be commended.
But those that do use such powers should stop.For decades, municipalities across the state have used this power as a growth tool.
They decide that property that is outside their corporate limits is ripe for annexation, so they vote to swallow tracts of land into the city.
The problem with this method is that those being annexed effectively have little that they can do to stop this land grab. In a free society, property owners should have the legal status that would allow them to choose whether or not to be taken into a city or town.
That actually occurs quite often in North Carolina. Developers may be building an office park or residential community and believe that their projects will be more valuable if they have city services such as water and sewer or street lights. In that case, they will petition a city for annexation.
Likewise, an established community might desire the police and fire protection that a municipality has to offer and be willing to pay the extra taxes that annexation would demand. Complaints are held to a minimum when those types of voluntary annexation occur.
However, when neighborhoods or tracts of property are taken in against the will of those being annexed, the complaints go up. People feel that they've been violated and they have.
Over the years, many municipalities - including Jacksonville - have experienced sone heated battles over forced annexation, producing hard feelings that take a while to go away.
Supporters of an involuntary annexation moratorium will likely have their hands full when the General Assembly comes back into session next month.
Expect to see municipalities and supporters of this unfair growth tool fight the moratorium, or at least weaken it so that it's rendered ineffective.
While we'd like to see an elimination of involuntary annexation altogether, having a moratorium is a good first step.
Thank you Freedom Communications Editor!!
Friday, April 25, 2008
We DON'T actually have a moratorium....YET.
There is still work for us to do to make a moratorium a reality.
This Annexation Study Committee is a HOUSE committee only.
- The Committee is recommending a moratorium.
- The House has to introduce a Bill and PASS it.
- The Bill then has to be PASSED BY THE SENATE.
- Then it needs to be ratified by the whole General Assembly,
- and signed by the Governor.
We need to make sure that all candidates for the House and Senate take a stand on reforming Forced Annexation!
WE CAN DO THIS.
If we DON'T the League of Municipalities will roll right over our elected Representatives with little opposition.
House Select Committee Discussion and Vote on Moratorium
Watch the video of the House Study Committee voting for the moratorium.
Plan to come to Raleigh and spend the afternoon on June 4th for the Citizens Rally for Reform of Annexation.
See YOU there!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
This meeting was supposed to be dedicated to deciding what the Committee was going to recommend to the General Assembly when they convene on May 15th.
The first item on the Agenda was a presentation by Tony Tetterton of Johnston County. He has put together a very professional and well documented Power Point that cataloged and demonstrated case examples of NC cities stretching, violating and abusing the Annexation Statutes. His presentation was the underscore to all of the testimony from hundreds of citizens who have come to the Public Hearings and have otherwise shared their story with the Committee.
The Committee members then each presented their ideas on what should be the priority recommendation. It was nearly unanimous that the first thing needed is a moratorium on forced annexation, including those now in progress.
After deliberating, the Committee added satellite annexations to the moratorium and took a vote on Rep. Goforth's motion to recommend a moratorium. The only two members to vote against this were Judith Wegner and Rep. Tucker.
If any of those reading this are Tucker's constituents, I do hope that you will remember this when you go to the polls to vote in November.
Rep. Larry Brown re-affirmed his commitment to the fight to change this law and restore a vote on annexation to the people.
Rep Nelson Dollar stated that the citizens have ZERO rights with the current law and this needs addressing. He noted how the number of annexations have 'ramped up' over the last several years. He stated that if the lawmakers could not approve a direct vote, then giving the County Commissioners a deciding voice in city annexations would be the next best thing.
After much deliberating by all, the motion was made and the vote taken. This vote is just one step on the way to passing a moratorium and a tiny step toward getting meaningful reform of the laws. There is a lot of work ahead for everyone who wants real change. The letters have to continue and a strong focus on the Senators is needed now.
Mr. Andy Romanet, from the NCLM, was at the meeting today along with several others from the League office.
A representative from the NCACC was sitting with the NCLM crowd.
Mr. Romanet spoke to the Committee at the end to let them know that he was not at all happy with the fact that he was not given the opportunity to review Tony Tetterton's video presentation in advance of the meeting! Really!! Why should he have been given that??
We were not given that opportunity before the NCLM gave their presentations.
The representative from the County Commissioners Association responded to a request from the Committee for the views of the County Commissioners. Mr. Paul Meyer, who is the Associations Senior Associate General Council, told the Committee about the Annexation Study Subcommittee that submitted their recommendations at a meeting held on 4/18. He did not share the details of the report. He told the Committee that the Association Board planned to work with the NCLM in a joint review of the recommendations before they would approve any of the Subcommittee's recommendations.
I was provided a copy of the recommendations and make them available to you at the link above the Legislative Update window.
There seems to be a notable level of agreement between quite a few of the organizations that have submitted recommendations to the Study Committee.
Now we need to convince the Study Committee and the majority of the NC House and Senate to come to agreement that these proposed changes need to be adopted.
Let's start hammering the NC Senate to get onboard.
The NCLM wasted no time in sending out the word to cities to start contacting the Legislators immediately to try and derail any chances for this moratorium.
And don't forget to ask ALL candidates for their position on reforming forced annexation. I have been posting the candidate who have taken a public position for reforming annexation to the website: http://www.stopncannexation.com/candidates_page.htm
Please try to come to Raleigh on June 4th for the Fourth Annual Annexation Reform Rally. This year, with the momentum for reform building, it is extremely important that the attendance numbers reach the hundreds. Every year, the Rally has grown and this has had a very positive affect on how the General Assembly has responded to the citizens requests for reform. Please mark your calendars and make plans to be in downtown Raleigh for the afternoon.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Many areas across NC were represented at this hearing. Just from the speakers list, there were at least 16 Counties represented. There were probably more if those who didn't speak had been surveyed.
Add to this turnout the people from Western NC Counties who attended the Study Committee Hearing in Buncombe Co. and the Counties represented easily rises to TWENTY COUNTIES speaking out against a forced annexation.
The Rowan County opponents to forced annexation really turned out in numbers and were very well prepared, but everyone there spoke eloquently in the limited time that they were given. There is only so much one can say in three minutes. The comments that have been heard by the Committee are absolutely having a positive impact on the understanding by Committee members that there are serious problems with how the cities are using and abusing this power to annex by force.
Rowan County Commissioners stepped up for their constituents at this hearing also! KUDO's to them for this!
Senator Brock was also at the hearing and he stayed till the very end.
Of note and very much appreciated, was the fact that a representative for NC State Grange and two people with the Moore County group, Southern Moore Alliance of Excluded Communities were there to speak to the Committee.
The Hearing was also attended by a small group of city officials enlisted by the League of Municipalities. They ALL read from their scripts that Ellis Hankins provided for them and anyone listening could tell that their comments weren't exactly their own. Most if not all of the City Officials left soon after they gave their canned comments.
The Study Committee could have saved a little time by telling Ellis Hankins that he should just read his own material once and be done with it. That would be a generous allowance for the hearing given that the Committee has already given Ellis over 30 minutes of their time at a previous meeting along with an equal amount of time for the City Attorney from the NCLM's favorite City of Charlotte.
The Hearing lasted for FIVE HOURS and more than half of the people who came to speak for reform stayed to the end.
I think that I can say for most of us that we do appreciate the opportunity that the House Study Committee gave us with this hearing and we appreciate the time that they gave to this on Wednesday night.
I'm sure that we will all continue to provide the Committee with ongoing communications to assist them in enacting the proper reforms for the people of North Carolina.
Candidates and incumbents in this upcoming election need to hear the voice of the people, and if we all speak up, they will hear us.
Thanks to all who made the time and effort to be at the hearing.
You can view videos of comments made at the hearing at Tony Tettertons Google site:
Friday, April 11, 2008
Here it is:
We have additional demonstrations in Salisbury, NC scheduled for each Saturday in April at noon til 1 pm on the square (Main and Innes
Street). Rain or shine, we will demonstrate. All participants are welcome. We have signs for the 10 demonstrators allowed by city code. Others can participate by handing out literature, giving us moral support by your presence, and taking a turn at carrying our signs. You can also drive by and honk at us. We love the honking and it irritates the city of Salisbury. You can make your own sign, if you wish. Maximum size allowed by city code is 24" by 24"
We meet at the Farmer's Market in the 300 block of South Main street at about 11:40 AM to give out signs.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
has been moved
to the Legislative Building Auditorium.
The Legislative Building is on Jones St. across from the Science and History Museums.
The auditorium is up the red carpeted stairs that you see when you enter the front door.
TIME: 5:00 p.m.
DATE: April 9, 2008
LOCATION: 3rd Floor Auditorium – Legislative Building
There will be sign up sheets for those wishing to make comments to the Committee.
Arrive early to make sure that you are signed up to speak.
Come to this Public Hearing even if you do not want to speak.
It is very important that we show the legislators just how strong the call for reform is in North Carolina. A large turnout for this hearing will speak loudly.
If you haven't seen them yet, the presentations to the Committee at the Public Hearing that was held on March 14th in Asheville are online at Google video.
They are great and you can view them here:
Thanks to Tony Tetterton from Johnston County for recording these and all the Committee presentations.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
"A group of very disgruntled and unhappy Rowan County citizens are staging a group demonstration on the square of Salisbury, NC on Thursday, March 27, 2008 from noon til 1 pm.
Media have been invited to include WBTV, WRDX, WSTP, and the local Salisbury Post newspaper.
Additional demonstrations are scheduled for Saturday, March 29, and each Saturday in April same time and place."
If you live anywhere near this event, and want the laws changed, attending events like this in significant numbers is important. It's worth the sacrifice for the cause of reform.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
On Friday, March 28th, at 12:30 pm, Dallas Woodhouse from Americans For Prosperity will be holding a Press Conference on the steps of the Wilmington City Hall. I will be there as well representing everyone battling forced annexation across the State as StopNCAnnexation.
The purpose of the Press Conference is to make a public call for an immediate moratorium on forced annexations across NC.
While the House Legislative Study Committee on Municipal Annexation is studying the current laws and looking at making recommendations for changes to the law. A moratorium until they have made the necessary changes is only logical.
Join the Press Conference if you can and come wearing red to distinguish yourself as a supporter of a moratorium.
On the other side of the State, things are heating up in Rowan County. Cities in Rowan are on an annexation rampage. Rockwell has recently joined Lexington and Salisbury in initiating a forced annexation. Rowan County Commissioners are fightng back for the citizens and local legislators are supporting a moratorium on annexations.Read the latest news on the StopNCAnnexation website.
I hope to see lots of the coastal areas citizens for reform in Wilmington on Friday!
"If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break into squads, everyone pursuing the path he thinks most direct, we become an easy conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check."-- Thomas Jefferson (letter to William Duane, 1811)
Sunday, March 16, 2008
The Public Hearing before the Municipal Annexation Study Committee that is planned for this Tuesday:
A. B. Technical Institute in Ferguson Auditorium
URL for directions to AB Tech : http://www.abtech.edu/maps/asheville.asp
Public Hearing before the Municipal Annexation Study Committee in Raleigh:
April 9th, (Wednesday)
Legislative Office Building
Corner of Lane and Salisbury - Raleigh, NC
URL for directions to Legislative Buildings and parking: http://www.ncleg.net/NCGAInfo/visitinglegcomplex.html
- All speakers must sign up on the "Speaker Sheets" before the public hearing. Two sign up sheets will be available, one "pro" and one "con" concerning the state's annexation laws.
- Registration for speaking will begin at 4:00 p.m., one hour prior to the convening of the hearing at 5:00 p.m., and continue until 6:00 p.m.
- Speakers will be chosen alternately from each list, in the order of registration.
- If a speaker is not present when called, the speaker will be skipped at that time. Time permitting at the end of all registered speakers, those skipped will be allowed to speak.
- Speakers are asked to limit their comments to 3 minutes. Time will be kept by the Sergeant-at-arms.
- Speakers are asked to provide a written copy of their comments, if possible, and any additional material they may want to add to the Committee record, to the Committee clerk
- Speakers are cautioned to direct their comments to the issue of the State's annexation laws. Decency of speech shall be observed by all speakers, and disrespect of personalities avoided.
- The Presiding Chair, at the Chair's discretion, may change these guidelines if conditions warrant a change."
The Municipal Annexation Study Committee plans to meet for the last time on April 23rd at 10:00 a.m. in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building. It is at this meeting that the committee plans to draft their recommendations for changes to the Annexation Laws.
The Short Session of the General Assembly is scheduled to begin on May 13, 2008 12:00PM.
Controversial Bills are not permitted to be considered during the short sessions. This would rule out consideration of most Bills that would block or limit municipal annexation, as we all know this is considered "controversial".
I'll bet anything that the record would show that this rule has not stopped the municipal lobbyists from expanding the power to annex during the short sessions. Bills that expand the 10% limit or the three mile limit on satellite annexations are not questioned.
Local Bills that would limit city annexation power would have to be agreed upon by all the affected area lawmakers in order to even have a chance of consideration.
How likely will that be?
Perhaps this session the House will discuss the recommendations of the Committee since they approved the study itself. We shall see.
The Senate would not and did not approve of any study of annexation, so they are not likely to entertain any debate over changing the law.
People for reform of annexation are going to have to commit to hanging in on this battle for more than a year into the future. That is what it is going to take. Win or lose your local battle.
The opposition to annexation reform is counting on us to wear down, drop out, and go away.
They get paid every year to outlast and outgun any opposition to municipal annexation power. The City Attorney for Charlotte bragged about having a stable of 60 lawyers ready to attack any opposition to forced annexation. Our tax dollars at work. Yes...even OUR tax dollars.
The cities are first in line with their hand out to suck in any and every State and Federal funding that they can get their hands on to finance their existence. We pay those taxes that fund these grants and loans.
It truly IS never enough for the cities. In bad economic times the average citizen has to suck it up and make do on less, but heaven forbid the cities would do the same!
They don't want to hear that, so they are going after more property owners to bankroll their spending. The cities expect to be kept in the manner in which they are accustomed.
Remember THIS DATE: JUNE 4th
This is the date for the North Carolina League of Municipalities
"Town Hall Day"
Plan to come to Raleigh for the day to make sure that the City lobbyists do not have the spotlight with the General Assembly on that day.
Be there to turn the Legislators attention toward the citizens who are expecting them to reform the annexation laws and give the people back their right to choose whether they are city residents or not.
More information on the 4th Annual Rally in Raleigh will be posted as the day gets closer.
Thanks for staying with this effort for reform.
Monday, March 10, 2008
The House Select Committee on Municipal Annexation will be hearing comments from the public at two scheduled Public Hearings.
If you believe that forced annexation is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG _ then try as hard as you can to attend at least one of these hearings. Attend BOTH if you can.
The Municipal League and their advocates have pretty much monopolized the presentations to the committee so far. You can be sure that the city lobbyists will try to crowd out the voice of the citizens at the Public Hearings too.
These Public Hearings need to be monopolized by the citizens!!
March 10, 2008
TO: Members of the House Select Committee on Municipal Annexation
[AND INTERESTED CITIZENS]
FROM: Rep. Bruce Goforth – Co-Chair
Rep. Paul Luebke – Co-Chair
SUBJECT: Notice of March 19th Public Hearing
There will be a Public Hearing with the House Select Committee on Municipal Annexation:
TIME: 5:00 p.m.
DATE: March 19, 2008
LOCATION: Ferguson Auditorium – A. B. Technical Community College
FYI - A Public Hearing has also been scheduled for April 9th in Room 643 of the Legislation Office Building beginning at 5:00 p.m.
(The) final meeting is scheduled for April 23rd at 10:00 a.m. in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building
A letter was mailed to city officials in at least the entire Rowan County area. It was probably mailed to city officials all over NC. (click the 'A letter' link to read the letter)
Supposedly, this letter is from the Mayor of Salisbury, asking for support against the rising chorus of voices opposed to the forced annexation that Salisbury is undertaking right now.
I doubt that the Mayor of Salisbury wrote this letter all by herself. How much shall we wager that "someone" at the NC League of Municipalities wrote this letter and the NCLM is organizing this campaign of support for the Salisbury forced annexation attempt??
DO read the letter. This is not the first time I have seen a communiciation from the League where they are sounding an alarm over the rising opposition to forced annexation.
But take note of the League's new "catch phrase"; "The North Carolina Way is Better".
After you read the letter, get even by showing up at both of the Public Hearings the Study Committee has scheduled. You don't even have to speak to the committee. Just be there and help show the legislators that opposition to forced annexation is BIG in NC.
Show them that the citizens, not the cities, decide what "the NC Way" is.
June 4th is the NC League of Municipalities "Town Hall Day". This is the day that they bring hundreds of city officials to the State Legislators with BBQ lunches in hand to lobby them for more power to take more money from, and more control over, citizens who chose NOT to be a part of a city.
Every year for the last several years, SNCA has organized a counter rally on this same day.
Last year, with the Fair Annexation Coalition, the turnout was the biggest ever with at least one hundred people showing up.
This year, with the Annexation Study Committee making recommendations for changes to the law, it is the year that every single opponent of forced annexation needs to be in Raleigh. No, it is not convenient, being a weekday, and being a midday event, but if you really think the people should be given a voice and vote on annexation, then this is the year to make that sacrifice and be in Raleigh.