Post News . Share Ideas . Inspire Innovation . Get Informed . Get Involved

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CNN’s Anderson Cooper REPORT ON $12 Billion High Speed Rail Shell Game

Watch the report by Anderson Cooper including these points:

  • President Obama said to "imagine whisking through towns at speeds of over 100 miles per hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation and ending up just blocks from your destination."
  • Projects were evaluated not by worthiness, but by whether they were "shovel-ready"
  • The Vermont train built with $52 million, and which isn't high-speed, carries about 250 passengers from one end of the state to the other each day.

(NOTE: references to video frames and other are made from this related report found on YouTube which could not be referenced from this blog due to system error.  Cut and paste this url to watch: ) 

or directly to the President's statement followed by map and LaHood interview:

  • Four years ago, President Obama announced a plan to spend $8 Billion dollars as seed money to get high speed rail off the ground, followed by $1 Billion annually to install Japanese/European-style trains
  • The state of Washington received over $800 Million to improve tracks from Seattle to Portland.  This expenditure resulted in an average trip reduction of 10 minutes. 
  • See the interview with Ray LaHood, outgoing Transportation Secretary (start at about 3:35 minutes to see President Obama’s vision, followed by a talk with La Hood at 4:00 minutes)
  • LaHood says he believes people “like the investments we’re making” and states “there’s so much enthusiasm in America for high speed rail.”
  • La Hood also says train trip speeds have been improved, but that was not the stated goal of the BILLIONS spent.  LaHood could not articulate any plan for real high-speed rail (typically 220 miles per hour with “bullet” trains) anywhere.  He had no answer for “WHEN?” rail
  • One proposal for high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles has been in planning stages for 10 years, but no track has been laid.  From animations depicted, it would run along the Pacific Ocean on at least a portion of the plans, destroying the coastal views so important to California. 

Cooper and investigative reporter Drew Griffin discuss that people were told our BILLIONS would be spent on real high-speed rail and networks, but this administration is actually investing in slight improvements on slight time improvements for old trains.  In other words, Obama announced a plan he would initiate with no taxpayer input, then spent $Billions on something other than what was promised. 

At the 3:40 mark on the video, see that Charlotte is an endpoint of one proposed section for high speed rail, traveling through Atlanta to Burmingham, Alabama.

Multiple reports have surfaced that Charlotte’s Mayor Anthony Foxx is one of two names in the running to be the new Secretary of Transportation for President Obama.  Based on his history in Charlotte, an appointment to spearhead this type of planning and spending seems like well within his repertoire.

Consider the wildly unpopular tax-people-who-eat-prepared food from grocery stores-or-who-eat-at-restaurants tax Foxx is trying to jam through Charlotte to pay $145 Million for upgrades to billionaire Jerry Richardson’s stadium for the Charlotte Panthers:  Foxx is quoted in the Charlotte Observer that managing negotiations about a football stadium is “like a ball going through a pinball machine.”  His thoughts were given in reply to a letter from “Tom Sasser of Harper’s Restaurant Group and the chair of the Charlotte group, said he supports the city’s latest proposal of a half-cent sales tax that would end after 15 years… This is a unique local issue,” Sasser wrote. “Though we have been told we cannot make a statement opposed to the state board’s opinion, we feel that in this case, at the risk of losing our chapter’s charter, we have to make this statement.”

This delayed endorsement, after initially panning the idea, is not a ringing endorsement. 

Whether Mayor Foxx goes to Washington or not, business will probably continue to operate with local government in this way until more people get informed and involved.

Now see this other important Anderson Cooper report:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Can't.   Stop.   Watching.

Hope his enthusiasm is contagious.
Hope his Speedo is not.

How does the instructor keep a straight face?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Representative Bill Brawley - the bill's House sponsor explained that the bill called for those who had overpaid to be issued refunds, with interest.  Those who underpaid may be unhappy to know they will receive bills for the new, higher amount owed.  However, no interest will be due from these homeowners.  Brawley said at a press conference 3/4/13 at the Charlotte Government Center, ““The constitution requires that everyone be treated the same and fairly.”
Sen. Jeff Tarte, another co-sponsor of the bill had previously reported he was told “40 percent of the county’s property data was corrupt.”
See the full text of the bill here in original format, or read below.
Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners is expected to get an update on the revaluation process at tonight’s meeting (3/5/13) at the Government Center on Trade Street.  If you want to watch but can’t go in person, check out the live stream on, search “government channel” and click here to watch live


SENATE DRS35077-MCx-25B* (01/23)
Short Title: Require Certain General Reappraisals. (Public)
Sponsors: Senators Tarte and Rucho (Primary Sponsors).
Referred to:
7 Whereas, the Great Recession has had deleterious effects on the economy and,
8 especially, on the housing market; and
9 Whereas, valuation data for a calendar year is used to determine market value for a
10 general reappraisal as of January 1 of the following year; and
11 Whereas, there were a total of 3,825,637 foreclosure filings during the 2010
12 calendar year and 2.23% of all households were in some stage of foreclosure during 2010; and
13 Whereas, annual analysis of the housing market in North Carolina in 2011 shows
14 tax assessments in nearly half of the counties in the State were higher, on average, than actual
15 market values; and
16 Whereas, the General Assembly has previously required accelerated general
17 reappraisals when sales values deviated too much from assessed values, but such countywide
18 analyses can fail to properly account for pockets of improperly valued properties or where
19 properties have values that offset improperly valued properties located elsewhere within the
20 county; and
21 Whereas, these unique and extraordinary conditions have increased the difficulty of
22 accurately appraising real property for tax purposes and increased the number of actual errors
23 in conducting reappraisals; and
24 Whereas, independent, corroborating evidence shows instances of high degrees of
25 inequity in valuations among like properties of a type that is not acceptable by widely accepted
26 mass appraisal standards; and
27 Whereas, independent, corroborating evidence shows, among other things, that there
28 exist concrete examples of erroneous valuations, for example, that resulted both from the
29 values accepted as initial values and from other inequities produced during the property tax
30 appeals process; and
31 Whereas, these examples prove the existence of errors that give rise to significant
32 issues that must be addressed to resolve inequities among like and similar properties; and
33 Whereas, the General Assembly recognizes that the confluence of these issues
34 arising during the time when general reappraisals of real property were occurring has resulted
35 not only in a higher risk but in a higher incidence of assessed values failing to accurately and
36 fairly reflect true market values; Now, therefore,

Mar 4, 2013
S.B. 159
PRINCIPAL CLERKGeneral Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013

Page 2 DRS35077-MCx-25B* (01/23)
1 The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
2 SECTION 1. Notwithstanding G.S. 105-287, G.S. 105-325, or any other provision
3 of law restricting the time for which a change in appraisal or valuation may be made, a board of
4 county commissioners shall undertake the measures required by this act if all of the following
5 conditions are met:
6 (1) The county has independent, corroborating evidence that the majority of
7 commercial neighborhoods in the county possess significant issues of
8 inequity.
9 (2) The county has independent, corroborating evidence that, for residential
10 neighborhoods, instances of inequity or erroneous data had a significant
11 impact on the valuation of the neighborhood as a whole.
12 (3) The county's last general reappraisal was performed for the 2008 tax year,
13 2009 tax year, 2010 tax year, 2011 tax year, or 2012 tax year.
14 (4) The independent, corroborating evidence resulted from a review performed
15 by a qualified appraisal company selected and retained by the county and
16 registered with the Department of Revenue and had a sample size of no less
17 than 375 properties, the relevant characteristics of which were reviewed on
18 location at the property.
19 SECTION 2. If all of the conditions of Section 1 of this act are met, a board of
20 county commissioners shall either (i) conduct a reappraisal, using no less than one person
21 certified by the Department of Revenue for mass valuations per 4,250 parcels, pursuant to
22 G.S. 105-286 within 18 months, applicable to all tax years from and including the tax year
23 when the last general reappraisal was performed pursuant to G.S. 105-286 or (ii) have a
24 qualified appraisal company conduct a total review of all the values in the county by
25 neighborhoods and make recommendations as to the true value of the properties as of January 1
26 of the year of the last general reappraisal performed pursuant to G.S. 105-286. After the
27 reappraisal or review required by this section is complete, the board of county commissioners
28 shall make any change on the abstracts and tax records to ensure that the assessed values of
29 incorrectly appraised properties in the county reflect the true values of those properties
30 effective for the year of the last general reappraisal performed pursuant to G.S. 105-286 and
31 shall apply the adjusted values for those properties for each tax year until the next general
32 reappraisal for real property is performed by the county pursuant to G.S. 105-286, unless those
33 adjusted values are changed in accordance with G.S. 105-287. In making changes to the
34 abstracts and tax records mandated by this act, the board of county commissioners shall make
35 adjustments for previous errors, prioritized as follows:
36 (1) Adjustments to parcels with errors that resulted in the parcels having a
37 significantly overstated value.
38 (2) Adjustments to parcels with errors that resulted in the parcels having a
39 significantly understated value.
40 (3) Adjustments to parcels with errors that resulted in the parcels having an
41 overstated value.
42 (4) Adjustments to parcels with errors that resulted in the parcels having an
43 understated value.
44 In instances of parcels with errors that resulted in an overpayment of taxes, the
45 governing board shall require that notice of refund and the refund amount be sent to the owner
46 of record as of the date the payment was made.
47 SECTION 3. Interest on taxes paid on parcels with errors that resulted in the
48 parcels having an overstated value shall be calculated as if there was an order of the county
49 board of equalization and review reducing the valuation of property pursuant to
50 G.S. 105-360(e). Additional taxes levied on parcels as a result of errors causing the parcels to General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2013
DRS35077-MCx-25B* (01/23) Page 3
1 have an understated value shall be treated as taxes on discovered property pursuant to
2 G.S. 105-312.
3 SECTION 4. This act is effective when it becomes law. If any provision of this act
4 or its application is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications
5 of this act that can be given effect without the invalid provisions or application, and to this end
6 the provisions of this act are severable.