The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

July 31, 2013

Who is minding the pork?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 — RALEIGH —As long as there is politics, there will be this thing that people refer to as pork.

As the word is batted about, it is important to consider what pork is and what it is not.

Pork, in a political context, implies fat, that there is some excess that can be passed around to grease the wheels of politics and keep folks back home happy. Just because excess is implied does not mean that what people view as pork is all bad.

It depends on one's perspective.

Not so long ago, state legislators in North Carolina would approve a pork barrel bill at the end of each legislative session. That bill was all about capital spending— an economic development shell building here, a museum there, a university dorm building here, a community college building there.

If the building was coming to your district, there was nothing bad about it.

Legislative leaders also utilized the pork barrel bill to enforce discipline among the ranks. Vote against the budget bill or otherwise become a troublemaker, and you could forget about having your legislative district included in the largess of the pork barrel bill.

Over time, the fact that the money was being doled out based on political considerations, and not the merit of the actual projects, caught the public's eye. The pork barrel bill went away.

Pork didn't, though.

The governor and legislative leaders continued to control relatively small pots of road-building money that they could dole out at their discretion.

And something called the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center was created to pass out water, sewer and other types of grants for communities.

The News & Observer of Raleigh recently reported that the center broke its own rules in passing out grants and that political influence surrounded the awarding of some grants. A audit by the office of State Auditor Beth Wood found little or no oversight of the grants once awarded.

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, to see that politics is influencing the awarding of state construction dollars.

Scott Mooneyham is a syndicated columnist for Capitol Press Association and covers activities of the N.C. Legislature.

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    WASHINGTON - The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014

  • D.G. Martin Where did all these new voters in North Carolina come from?

    “Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”
    So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Some light for Dems in their time of darkness

    RALEIGH – Earlier this year, state Sen. Ben Clark, a Hoke County Democrat, became a hero for a day among his party and environmentalists when his amendment to require more well water testing near future fracking sites passed the Senate. It even gained the support of a number of GOP senators, against the wishes of the Republican bill sponsor.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Maintaining hope

    Gardeners are facing challenges with the weather this year. It seemed like we were getting great conditions in April and May. The weather was warm and we were getting some good rains. Then sometime in June the rain stopped. It got so dry that I didn’t have to cut the grass. While I enjoyed the break, the garden was not happy at all. I was having to water quite a bit to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
    I  love technology and have always been fascinated by gadgets of all kinds and the wonderful things they can do. You never seem to go through an entire day without some form of invention enhancing your life.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

    RALEIGH – State lawmakers reconvened in Raleigh on May 14 promising a brief legislative session this summer, but as July moves along they are still in town and tackling big issues.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Larry's Sketch 7.16.14.tif They don’t give a darn for Duke University

    John “Duke” Wayne’s heirs are suing Duke University over trademark rights.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    WASHINGTON - For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content