Winston-Salem chronicle. (Winston-Salem, N.C.) 1974-current, March 03, 2016, Page A8, Image 8
FORUM Why everyone should vote AGAINST the bond Nicole . Revels Guest Columnist On the March 15 pri mary election ballot, NC residents will be asked to vote for or against a pro posal to borrow 2 billion dollars in the form of a bond. I intend to vote AGAINST the bond. A bond is not free money. It's a method of spending money now and leaving future generations of taxpayers to pick up the tab later. Many legislators are supporting the bond because it's a way for them to spend money on grandiose projects and earn political points back home while not having to claim the expenditures as an operating budget spending increase. The problem is that they're piling debt onto today's children. Another term for this is deferred taxation. It is a much more fiscally responsible prac tice to prioritize items by their importance and pay as we go. There is no transporta tion nor k-12 education funding within the bond. I emphasize that fact because many voters have been misled by pro-bond marketing, which describes the measure as an "infra structure and education" funding bill. The bond was original ly proposed as a transporta tion funding bill titled "Connect NC," but by final adoption, all road binding was stripped from the bill, a move that some legisla tors have dubbed a "bait and switch." Bond proponents tout the necessity of the water/sewer line item with in the $2 billion bond pack age, but there is actually no specific allocation within the bond legislation for any single water/sewer project. The plan is to place $309 million into a fund to hold onto for future allocation once a municipality applies to receive them. It makes no sense for our state to borrow money simply to store it away for potential future redistribution to municipalities, paying mil lions in interest in the meantime! There's also a section of the bill titled "realloca tion," which enables legis lators to change the bond money allocations after the bond is passed. Such a pro vision means that voters have no guarantee that what they think they're vot ing on is what the funding will actually be used for. North Carolina's history with the gas tax being diverted to purposes other than roads should remind us that we need better guar antees over allocation before signing off on a blank check. Sixty-six percent of the $2 billion will be given to the N.C. university and community college sys tems for new buildings and renovations. Very few details of the specific proj ects have been revealed. Whether community col leges are renovating class rooms or building tennis courts and swimming pools with the bond money, we do not know. Community colleges are not required to submit their specific multi-million dol lar projects for which the funding will be used until after the bond is approved by voters! The bond is an omnibus spending bill for items, that should be con sidered individually and funded during the budget adoption process based on their own merits. The tax payers of North Carolina will be forced to pay the $2 billion debt and interest, whether by direct tax increase or by taking money away from other future priorities in order to pay for the projects of today. Bond proponents claim that adopting this bond is equivalent to a household adopting a mortgage to purchase a home. That claim has no merit. The entirety of this bond is less than 10 percent of our state's annual operating budget. There's no logical comparison of this bond and our state budget to the cost of a home to a house hold budget. North Carolina households have to be resourceful with our budgets, and legislators need to do the same. Vote AGAINST the $2 billion bond.debt proposal. Nicole Revels is direc tor of NC Against the Bond, based in Louisburg, NC. The organization's email is Againstthebond@gmail.com Cooper's spokesperson misleads public with statement By concerned students for k.alvin michael smith On Thursday, Feb. 18, we brought students together from Wake Forest University, Winston Salem State University, and Salem College to do what Attorney General Roy Cooper has actively refused to do for the past eight years: to publicly declare our outrage at the failure of our criminal jus tice system in keeping Kalvin Michael Smith incarcerated. We urged Mr. Cooper to act in the Silk Plant Forest Case, to uphold the oath of his office and to usher in the long-awaited justice that Kalvin Michael Smith, Jill Marker, and our community deserve, but instead, Mr. Cooper's office released a statement that misleads the public and evades his prosecutori al responsibilities. In response to over 150 stu dents converging to call on A.G. Cooper to join Kalvin's defense counsel in petitioning the Superior Court to vacate the 1997 wrongful conviction, Cooper's spokeswoman, Noelle Talley, was quoted in the Winston-Salem Journal, saying: "We understand the communi ty's concerns, and we want to work with them on sys temic issues in the criminal justice system," Talley said. "But at this point in the legal processs, only a court of law can overturn Kalvin Smith's conviction and release him from prison." To admit there are""sys temic issues" in our crimi nal justice system necessi tates addressing the havoc that those "systemic issues" have wrought on specific people's lives?on Kalvin Michael Smith's life. A.G. Roy Cooper has the power to review the case, to review former FBI Assistant Director Christopher Swecker's report, and to join the defense counsel, Duke University Professor James Coleman Jr., in a motion to vacate the conviction. A.G. Cooper is no stranger to Mr. Swecker, a former Assistant Director of the FBI; Mr. Cooper entrusted him in 2010 to audit thousands of cases from the SBI Forensic Lab. Mr. Swecker's investiga tion reported over 200 cases of malfeasance that violated the constitutional rights of defendants, and Mr. Cooper followed his recommendations. However, in Kalvin Michael Smith's case, Mr. Cooper has actively ignored Mr. Swecker's review, refusing to even meet with him. There is also precedent for what we are asking Mr. Cooper as a state prosecu tor to do. In 2004, Forsyth District Attorney Tom Keith filed jointly with Darryl Hunt's defense counsel to overturn his wrongful conviction. Similarly, Mr. Cooper did not hesitate to intervene, investigate and exercise his prosecutorial discretion in the 2006 Duke lacrosse case to dismiss the charges against three-wrongfully charged affluent white men. Yet Mr. Cooper remains silent about this injustice facing Kalvin Michael Smith, a working class black man. We believe that prose cutorial ethics require Mr. Cooper to meet with for mer Assistant FBI Director Christopher Swecker and to acknowledge the truth that his review uncovered. The truth, as the Swecker Report states, that "only a new trial that considers the full record and evidence not available, misrepre sented or omitted in the original trial" will provide the full measure of justice deserved. Mr. Cooper should also meet with Winston-Salem Police Department's Lt. Joseph Ferrelli and Sgt. Chuck Byrom, who led an 18-month review of the case which found there to be "no credible evidence" that Kalvin was at the crime scene and concluded "no confidence" in the original police investiga tion. Mr. Cooper should meet with these men immediately and meet in public. Hayden Abene from Wake Forest University, Jaylon Herbin from Winston-Salem State University and Virginia Parnell from Salem College. ibS^D ? ? !? will HBH . The WSSU Rams are coming to you this spring! Saturday, March 19 Charlotte, N.C. Saturday, April 2 Wilson, N.C. Saturday, April 9 for the official Spring Football Game! Atkins High School, Old Greensboro Rd., Winston-Salem There will be prizes, giveaways and games. Bring a canned good for entry and in support of the Harvest Food Bank. m W jL^9 ^K I <amffgmmmm^ J f ^ PBHBNHHHHBHRHBI. J^tmtt/KKm Bl^. BASEBALL ?^???| ?