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Orange Schools Tax May Go Up For Vote
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Orange Schools Tax May Go Up For Vote

BY Beth Velliquette

HILLSBOROUGH - Although they argued whether a special district tax is needed for Orange County Schools, Board of Education members finally appear to agree that it's the voters' decision, not their decision. "For some reason, there's a belief that this board can levy a tax," board member Brenda Simpson said at the Tuesday night meeting. "I have one vote. If all of you have one vote, it's the citizens of this county who will decide whether we have a district tax." The school board is expected to vote at its next meeting on whether to ask the Orange County Commissioners to put the tax to voters. In a meeting filled with hand waving, interruptions, snide remarks and arguments, the board discussed how to come up with money for the school system. Although Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has had a special district tax for its school system for decades, Orange County Schools hasn't asked for one. Last year a task force was convened to come up with alternative funding ideas for the school system. One recommendation of the task force, which passed in a split vote, was to consider a special district tax. Several school board members, however, said the board should look for other ways to find money rather than adding another tax. One way to do that is through an audit, board members Bob Bateman and David Kolbinsky said. But they said the audit that was completed earlier this year didn't go far enough. It should have included programs, not just items like copy machine costs, they said. "This audit is a scam," Bateman said. "When did you look at the programs? You didn't look at the programs." People in the community don't understand why the school system needs more money, he said. "That's the concern in this community," he added. "As much as we're funding the schools, we should have ample money to educate beautifully 6,000 students." Board Chairwoman Dana Thompson said it was too late to criticize the audit. "The proper time was when we proceeded with the vote," she said. Thompson encouraged the board to move on to the discussion of a district tax. The school board must vote to ask the county commissioners to hold a referendum on a district tax. The task force on alternative funding methods suggested designing a proposal for a district tax with a 10-cent limit and a five-year cap. One cent of tax would raise $ 332,752 for the school system, according to county calculations. Ten cents would raise $ 3,327,519. Board member Keith Cook said it's the school board's duty to educate students. "We have not been able to give our children the same programs other school systems have," he said. "Why? Because we don't have any money." Kolbinsky said residents have heard over and over again that the tax rate has to increase. "If we're talking about asking, I think when the community hears this type of talk, I think they say, 'Here they go again. The government never has enough money,' " he said. Before the board discussion, a number of residents, including several who are running for the school board, spoke about the district tax. Randy Copeland, a candidate, asked the board to wait for the new members to take office before making a decision about the tax. "There may only be a couple of you here, and I'm asking you to table the discussion for a couple of months," Copeland said. Robert Randall, who said he heads an organization called Citizens for a Sound Economy, said additional taxes would hurt the economy. One speaker raised the hackles of several people when she said people who don't vote for the tax are selfish. "I think when anti-tax people stand up and say we want less, what they really are saying is we want less for the children of the Orange County Schools and more for ourselves," Elizabeth Brown said. That statement irritated school board candidate Betty Davidson, who stood up and said she had to respond to Brown's comments. "The special district tax is polarizing this community,' she said. "I absolutely hate to see how we can call folks in this community selfish." Farmers, retired people and other working people in northern Orange County built the county, so it's unfair to characterize them as selfish, she said. "I would say just be careful how you characterize the folks in northern Orange County who have made much of what this county is today," Davidson said.

07/25/2002
Texas School Boards Battle Over What Some Perceive As Liberal Slants In High School Textbooks
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Texas School Boards Battle Over What Some Perceive As Liberal Slants In High School Textbooks

BY Tom Brokaw

TOM BROKAW, anchor: NBC News IN DEPTH tonight, in the midst of summer vacation when kids are taking a break from textbooks, a battle over those books now at a boiling point in Texas. At issue: whether the books somehow slant the truth. The outcome could affect what your kids end up reading come homework time. IN DEPTH, here's NBC's Kevin Tibbles. Unidentified Woman: My request would be that no book be approved unless it clearly defines republic. KEVIN TIBBLES reporting: What you're watching is a debate over what high school students in Texas should be reading in school. Ms. ELEANOR HUTCHESON (Daughters of the American Revolution): There are many sweeping statements on printed page 456 without any proof to support them. This is called bias. TIBBLES: For years, conservative groups have complained many books contain a liberal slant. Ms. CHRIS PATTERSON (Texas Public Policy Foundation): There still is the political correctness and the whitewashing and the bleaching of--of our history that--that needs to be addressed. TIBBLES: What kinds of things do they want changed? According to the foundation, one high school history book says, "The Kennedy brothers played key roles in the civil rights movement." The criticism, "This is excessive that they spent as much time frustrating it, as helping." Another example, "Tourists and fur traders shot buffalo for sport." The criticism, "Once equipped with repeating weapons, Plains Indians overhunted and engaged in hunting for the sport of it as well." So why is this important in the $4 1/2 billion textbook industry? Because Texas is the second largest buyer in the country. So whatever books the Texas School Board approves will likely wind up being used in classrooms from Alaska to Arkansas. But critics of these groups charge them with hijacking the text in the textbooks. Ms. SAMANTHA SMOOT (Texas Freedom Network): What the right wing would like to do when it comes to history textbooks is essentially stop the clock at 1950. TIBBLES: Dr. Dan Chiras had his advanced science textbook rejected because it stated, among other things, that over 100 million Americans are breathing unhealthy air. The Texas Public Policy Foundation called that an exaggeration, misleading and shocking vitriol against Western civilization. Dr. DANIEL CHIRAS ("Environmental Science" Author): Even though the opposing viewpoints were often presented as well, they disagree with those and then went on a witch hunt to find--you know, basically to--to burn this book at the stake. TIBBLES: The foundation also succeeded in having this line removed from another textbook altogether, "Most experts on global warming feel that immediate action should be taken to curb global warming." But these groups say all they want is for kids to get the best education possible. Ms. PEGGY VENABLE (Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy): Isn't it ludicrous that when parents and citizens get involved, review textbooks and testify on concerns they have, that a group wants to call it censorship? TIBBLES: A heated debate that raises the question: How much influence should politics have in the education of millions of American children? Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Dallas.

07/25/2002
Regulators to the Rescue?
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Press Release

Regulators to the Rescue?

With Congress concerned with little more than how the WorldCom bankruptcy will play during November midterm elections, regulators more insulated from short-term political pressures could play a constructive role in the next few months. While the spotlight is on accounting and the ways WorldCom concealed its poor economic performance, regulators at the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can rethink the way public policy contributed to the poor business performance WorldCom executives sought to conceal.

07/24/2002
CSE Supports Government Flexibility
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Press Release

CSE Supports Government Flexibility

As the Senate continues to debate one of the largest re-organizations of the federal government in recent history, CSE today urged them to follow through on President Bush’s recommendation to allow for worker flexibility in the newly established Department. “Without this flexibility, our antiquated civil service system will only hamper efforts to create a streamlined and effective Department,” said Paul Beckner, CSE’s President and CEO. “By kowtowing to their liberal union constituencies the Democrats put the entire effort in jeopardy.”

07/24/2002
'Infectious Greed' and Other Miasmatic Diseases
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Press Release

'Infectious Greed' and Other Miasmatic Diseases

© 2002 Copley News Service, 7/23/2002 American equity markets have lost $7 trillion in value, approximately 40 percent, since they peaked in late March 2000. The Washington establishment has decided to blame it on a "speculative bubble" caused by foolish investors and to a "loss of confidence" caused by greedy corporate "wrongdoers" who were out to systematically plunder their companies.

07/23/2002
Letter to Senate Regarding Prescription Drug Coverage
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Press Release

Letter to Senate Regarding Prescription Drug Coverage

Dear Senator, I write on behalf of the nearly 300,000 members of Citizens for a Sound Economy to urge you to vote NO on any bill that provides a Medicare prescription drug benefit without fundamental restructuring of the entire Medicare system. While it may be tempting politically to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, such action would be unwise for two obvious reasons:

07/23/2002
Donahue Show Focuses on Texas Textbook Battle
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Press Release

Donahue Show Focuses on Texas Textbook Battle

DONAHUE: I have to interrupt. We did our best and we thank you all. We know you are all coming from the heart, and we’ll be back in just a moment. Up next, classroom textbooks coming under fire, both sides duke it out over alleged bias in the books your kids are reading. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) DONAHUE: Texas is a state not known to shy away from a fight and right now one is brewing. The public gets to weigh in on the textbooks that are used in public classrooms and conservatives and liberals are fighting over what’s in and what’s out.

07/23/2002
Politicians Face Market Woes
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Press Release

Politicians Face Market Woes

The great bull market has ended. Hindsight is 20/20, but we should have seen it coming when Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential election. The ride began in 1994 and for almost eight years it was a heck of ride. The era allowed for free spending, low interest rates, and budget surpluses.

07/23/2002
California’s Latest Endangered Species: SUVs
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Press Release

California’s Latest Endangered Species: SUVs

This week, California’s Gov. Gray Davis signed into law the first measure that regulates carbon dioxide emissions from cars, trucks, and SUVs. The tough new standards take the debate over global warming off of the blackboard and into the daily lives of many Americans. While Californians are clearly affected, environmentalists are hoping to use California as an example to push other states into adopting the tough standards as well. The only problem is that the debate over global warming and human influences on climate are far from settled. Which means that consumers may have to endure costly new mandates and changes in their daily lives with little or no environmental improvements.

07/23/2002
Stop the Kennedy Tax Hike
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Press Release

Stop the Kennedy Tax Hike

Washington, DC – Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) delivered more than 15,000 letters from its members and activists to members of the Senate and House of Representatives urging them to take a stand against Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D- MA) attempts to roll back President Bush’s tax cuts of 2001. Since this historic tax cut was passed into law, Senator Kennedy has been one of its most vocal critics and has continually sought ways to resurrect taxes that punish savings and investment, such as the Death Tax. The “Stop the Kennedy Tax Hike” effort was launched by CSE earlier this year in a mailing to its membership asking them to contact their elected officials about this important issue. Within just a few weeks, CSE was inundated with thousands of signed letters urging legislators not to water down any portion of the tax relief provided by President Bush – a clear sign to Congress of the broad based support for these tax cuts and the demand to make them permanent. At their headquarters in Washington, D.C. CSE staff sorted through the multitude of letters, and in late July presented all 535 members of Congress with their own pile of constituent mail asking them to support the tax cut and keep government big-spenders like Ted Kennedy away from it. This isn’t the first time Senator Kennedy and other tax and spend liberals have heard from CSE regarding this issue. In January, CSE took to the streets to protest against Senator Kennedy’s speech at the National Press Club where he made his first official call to repeal the tax cut. CSE’s work against Senator Kennedy was featured in the bi-weekly publication Roll Call and in the Washington Times. As letters continue to roll in, CSE will continue to deliver them with the hope that legislators will consider the concerns and interests of their constituents before they consider repealing or diluting tax cuts that all Americans deserve. Click here for more information on activities on the Kennedy Tax Hike.

07/23/2002

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