Pilot Light: Case Made for Local Control Over ABC System
County and municipal elected officials made their case Wednesday for continuing local operation of the Alcoholic Beverage Control system at a committee meeting in Raleigh.
Legislative leaders appointed a special committee to study ownership and operation of ABC stores across the state earlier this year. The panel was named in response to widespread criticism generated by problems occurring in Mecklenburg and New Hanover counties last year. Critics called for privatization of the ABC system.
However, local leaders told the committee Wednesday that taking the ABC system out of the hands of counties and municipalities would have a serious negative effect on local finances. They pointed out that local governments are already strapped for revenue during a tough economy and argued that privatization would just make their fiscal situation worse.
Among the speakers Wednesday was Jon Carr, a lobbyist for the N.C. Association of ABC Boards. An attorney, Carr noted that the problems in Mecklenburg and New Hanover counties represent isolated exceptions to normal operations among most of the 160 boards across North Carolina.
MOORE - In January, the Moore County Board of Commissioners voted to express support for continued local ABC control in letters to Gov. Bev Perdue, state legislative leaders and the local legislative delegation.
John Garner, chairman of the Moore County ABC Board, told the commissioners that the -county stands to lose $433,000 a year through privatization. Of that total, about $300,000 goes to municipalities.
MISTAKEN - An employee of Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates (HUA) in Southern Pines was the victim of a name mix-up and was mistakenly identified as part of a political campaign finance investigation by state Republican leaders.
State GOP Chairman Tom Fetzer said Wes Carter, the HUA employee, is the son of Rusty Carter, a major fundraiser for Gov. Perdue and state Senate Democratic Leader Marc Basnight. Questions were raised about the legality of the contributions, and Perdue's campaign has forfeited $48,000 in contributions because of these issues. Basnight is reportedly considering taking the same step.
The only problem is that Wes Carter, at least the one who works for HUA, is not Rusty Carter's son.
"I'm 100 percent certain that's not my father's name," Wes Carter told the Under the Dome column in The News & Observer of Raleigh. The column quotes the HUA Carter as saying he is not related to Rusty Carter.
URGES SUIT - Congressman Howard Coble has joined other Republican members of North Carolina's congressional delegation in asking state Attorney General Roy Cooper to challenge the constitutionality of health-care legislation passed by Congress last weekend.
Coble, along with Reps. Virginia Foxx, Walter Jones, Patrick McHenry and Sue Myrick, has called on the attorney general to join 14 other states threatening to take the matter to the Supreme Court. All five GOP members of Congress voted against the bill.
"We think it is important to have Attorney General Cooper join this effort," Coble said. "This new law appears to be unconstitutional in our opinions, and we think the courts will concur. We do not think North Carolina should stand on the sidelines while other states pursue this legal challenge."
The challenge rests on the argument that compelling a person to buy insurance goes beyond the bounds of the interstate commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution.
Contact Florence Gilkeson by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story