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Opinion

One of my favorite message t-shirts reads “I hiked the entire width of the Appalachian Trail.” This is the underachiever’s answer to the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu who said that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The 2011 Appalachian Trail season has begun and hikers can be seen locally making their first trail stop along this 2,175 mile passage. The thru-hikers goal is to complete the entire trail while section hikers intend to travel (you guessed it) only a section with the possibility of combining sections over a period of years to compose the entire trail. There are other hikers who straddle the ridge line without making a commitment either way.

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A lot of the news lately from the General Assembly has been about proposals to wildly expand charter schools, deny loans to community college students and allow guns in bars and restaurants, but deliberations about the state budget are proceeding too, mostly at 8:30 every morning.

That’s when budget subcommittees are reviewing not only the spending recommendations from Governor Beverly Perdue, but also “options” presented by legislative staff to help lawmakers find another $1.5 billion to cut beyond the reductions Perdue proposed.

Legislative leaders continue to refuse to consider raising new revenue to avoid draconian cuts and have also ruled out continuing the 2009 temporary tax increases for two more years. Perdue’s budget leaves ¾ of the one cent sales tax increase in place.

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From the Office of Rep. Phil Haire

Budget writers in the General Assembly rolled out their broad budget proposals this week and have introduced a plan that will set back our state by firing teachers and state employees and limiting our children’s education options.

While Gov. Perdue offered a balanced approach that protected all teacher and teacher assistant jobs, this plan makes no such assurances and calls for cutting education spending by $760 million — 6.5 percent — from the governor’s budget. Their suggestions for doing this include shutting down preschools and keeping more people out of our university systems, even as our population continues to grow.

 

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It’s been said of Alderman Jerry Evans that he was a voice for the common man on the town board, that whenever an issue or major expenditure came before the board, he stuck up for the taxpayers and always evaluated the cost versus the benefits to the people. He never bought into the need to glamorize the position that he had achieved in local government, or bought into the need for appearances over substance in fulfilling the board’s obligations to the townspeople. In this respect, Jerry Evans wasn’t common at all. He never flinched from going against the grain and sticking up for the rights of the “little guy” — the powerless and disenfranchised — even when the rest of the board was stuck in the increasingly common “groupthink” mentality that has overwhelmed so many of the boards of local government.

In doing so, Evans voiced a lot of ‘no’ votes when most of the board chose to just go along to get along. He made up his own mind on the issues before him. He didn’t let anyone tell him how to vote, and it made him a valuable asset to the town.

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published: 10/18/2013
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