Put new City Hall to a vote


Construction of a new Laurinburg city building remains unnecessary according to what seems to be the majority of Laurinburg’s tax payers.

This appears to be yet another case of either ineptitude or attitude in our so-called political representatives failing to do the job they were hired to do and that is of representing.

City Council members, county commissioners, and those that are hired to serve in the state general assembly are elected by their constituents as messengers not fabricators of the peoples will.

The vast majority of North Carolina’s state and local government functions are conducted by such representatives. Being a true representative of the people however demands transparency of proceedings, inclusion of the public’s will and conservative management of tax payer moneys.

Recently these critical qualities seem to be neglected on all levels of government mainly because we allow it to be so with our apathy. To witness the ignorance of apathy you only need ask who are the finalists on “Dancing with the Stars,” or “American Idol” and then ask the names of their county commissioners, congressman or senator and you’ll quickly see the problem. Apathy and corruption have the ability to destroy our country as it did Rome, enemies such as ISIS and others can only give us wounds yet our furor is directed towards the lesser of our enemies while the real danger is ignored.

Unfortunately part of NC state government has never left the days of the “Good Ole Democrat’s Nanny State” where the state takes care of you by making all your decisions for you. This is reflected in the unwillingness to allow local governments to bypass representatives and vote directly on such issues as the proposed new city building. This process that takes power from the representatives and returns to the voter is called a referendum. A referendum, according to definition, is a vote by the general public to decide an important financial, legislative or policy issue directly, as opposed to having it decided by a representative assembly.

The two types of referendums are: mandatory and optional. The mandatory referendum is required by most state constitutions and city charters for matters, such as constitutional amendments and bond issues, which by law must be approved by voters directly. The optional class referendum is for ordinary legislation. The referendum is the purist form of democracy we have remaining and the majority of the 50 United States have already adopted referendum type governments but not North Carolina. Shouldn’t North Carolina join the others as a referendum state?

General State Statutes could allow for bond issuance for construction of such facilities as a new city building by combining GS 159-48, 9 and GS 159-48, 14:

General Statute: § 159-48.

Each unit of local government is authorized to borrow money and issue its bonds under this Article in evidence thereof for any one or more of the following purposes: General Statute 159-48, 9, Providing facilities for law enforcement, including without limitation headquarters buildings, station buildings, jails and other confinement facilities, training facilities, alarm systems, and communications systems.

General Statute 159-48,14, Providing public building, including without limitation buildings housing courtrooms, other court facilities, and council rooms, office buildings, public markets, public comfort stations, warehouses,and yards.

The referendum is basically an election process where by the end result is approval or disapproval of an item or issue rather than an individual. With this election process goes many of the same laws, rules and regulations that control the normal election.

Currently proponents are reportedly planning to finance the new city building through a financial institution which does not require the public tax payer’s approval. What particular financial institution was not mentioned. On the other hand if financed by issuing bonds approved by a referendum of the Laurinburg tax payers it would have allowed constituents to voice not only what their tax money but also what their children’s future tax money should be committed to.

So if it were possible to vote on such a referendum and all could agree, both pro and con, to accept the will of Laurinburg’s tax payers, a referendum could have solved all this controversy by simply agreeing the “Majority Wins.”

Even children understand that concept. However until North Carolina’s voters have a referendum-type government available for such decisions, voters still have the power of term limits at the ballot box.

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Mark Schenck

Contributing columnist

 

Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party.

 

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