April fools and follies

By: - April 1, 2010 7:12 am

(Editor's note; The Fitzsimon File will not be published Friday in observance of the Easter Holiday and will return Monday, April 4. Check the Progressive Pulse for updated information)

The charter school cap is not the problem

Charter school advocates are touting North Carolina's failure to receive federal money in the first round of awards in the Obama Administration's Race to the Top initiative as evidence that the General Assembly needs to immediately lift the state cap on the number of charter schools.

North Carolina was one of 16 finalists in the first round. Only Tennessee and Delaware received money, though there will be a second round of awards this summer.

It's true that charter school laws are one of the criteria officials at the U.S. Department of Education have used in evaluating states' plans for education reform. And there's nothing wrong with a healthy debate about charter schools in the General Assembly, but lawmakers shouldn't base any decision on hopes of getting the Race to the Top Money.

Many states without charter school caps did not get as far as North Carolina in the competition and Tennessee also limits the number of charters in the state. One prominent pro-charter school group gave North Carolina and Tennessee exactly the same rating for their charter school laws.

The party of the no tax pledge touts a pledge breaker

North Carolina Republican Party Chair Tom Fetzer announced this week that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is coming to Raleigh in May to raise money for the state party.

It might be interesting for the hysterically anti-tax hard-right Republicans to ask Barbour at the fundraiser about the hike in Mississippi's cigarette tax that he proposed and signed last year.

Barbour was also a prominent signer of the absurd and closed-minded no new tax pledge before he raised taxes. Wonder if Americans for the Prosperous and the Tea Partiers will show up to protest Barbour's appearance with signs calling him a socialist.

Wacky candidate update

It seems impossible that any political candidate will top Republican Tim D'Annunzio on the bizarro scale, he of the machine gun social and fundraiser and the Christ's War blog that sent former Republican Party Chair Jack Hawke scurrying away from his campaign for Congress.

But Republican state Senate candidate Tamera Frank is giving D'Annunzio a run for the wackiest candidate title. Frank, whose website says she is running for the General Assembly to keep "God First and Men Free," proposes possible elimination of individual and corporate income taxes, real and personal property taxes, gas taxes, and a variety of fees.

The rest of her platform on the budget is not clear, but to end all those taxes, it must include eliminating the university system, all community colleges and most public schools.

She also believes the state has no right to enact any legislation regulating firearms of any kind.

It's hard to read her website without looking for the announcement of her own machine gun fundraiser and social. But there's time. The primary is still more than a month away.

From the fringe

The reliably offensive George Leef from the Pope Center to Dismantle Higher Education is at it again this week, referring to what he calls President Obama's "authoritarian agenda" and describing New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman as cretinous and a shill for President Obama.

Leef doesn't stop there. In a review of a new book about the economic downturn, Leef says that "the advocates of omnipotent government are trying to capitalize on the economic crisis they have caused to further expand their power."

That certainly sets the record straight about why the financial markets collapsed. It wasn't the out of control, unregulated greed on Wall Street or the wild speculation that inflated the unsustainable housing bubble.

It was like everything else that is wrong in Leef's severe view of the world, government's fault, and a way that whoever the people are who believe in an "omnipotent government" can seize more control.

It might be time to rename From the Fringe. A more accurate title might be "Turning over the angry and paranoid Leef."

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066