Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fred Hobbs is a Democrat -- fined $150,000 for illegal campaign contributions to Purdue, Easley and others. Now accused of pilfering federal money intended for low-income people.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster
August 3, 2011

Former senator's firm suspected of false federal stimulus claims.

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into accusations that former state Sen. Fred Hobbs’ consulting firm submitted falsified applications for federal money for low-income people in Yadkin County to upgrade their homes.

The Southern Pines-based Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates is suspected of faking homeowners’ signatures on applications, including those of  two people who were dead and involving one house that had burned to the ground. The company is also suspected of submitting documentation falsely claiming that several officials in Yadkin County met as a committee to select the eight applicants and four alternates in question.

UPDATE: Hobbs’ attorney, Michael L. Weisel of Raleigh, issued a statement this afternoon saying all Hobbs knows about the accusations are what he has learned from news media reports. The N&O posted a story about the investigation online earlier today.

“We categorically deny all Yadkin County’s allegations as totally baseless and false,” said the statement attributed to Hobbs. “… We will issue a full and complete refutation of these unwarranted and unfounded allegations at the appropriate time and place.”

Michael Walser, the regional grant manager for the company who reportedly handled the applications, could not be reached for comment.
Yadkin County’s county manager, Aaron Church, called the discovery of the alleged improprieties earlier this year distressing.
“Yadkin County has many residents who are in desperate need of the home repairs that could be provided pursuant to this grant,” Church said in a statement he released today in response to an inquiry from The News & Observer. “The false or misleading information contained in the grant application has hampered the County’s ability to provide our residents with those repairs.”
The suspicious applications were discovered when a competing firm, Benchmark CMR of Kannapolis, that won the contract to administer the federal grants attempted to verify information that Hobbs, Upchurch had used in preparing the applications. Hobbs, Upchurch had been authorized by the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners to apply for the grant, which it did without charge in hopes of winning the contract to administer the money.

In June, Yadkin County hired the law firm of Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein to investigate, and notified the state Department of Commerce, which handles the federal grants. The law firm confirmed the suspicious applications by interviewing several of the homeowners, and determining that the supposed selection committee meeting never took place, according to its report.

Hobbs, Upchurch had also prepared applications for stimulus grants issued in 2009, but those applications were not funded. The Parker Poe investigation raised the suspicion that Hobbs, Upchurch resubmitted the names from 2009 for the 2010 grants – which were to go to communities that didn’t receive the first round of funding – but never actually interviewed those people or visited their homes in either year. The county was authorized to receive $100,000 in 2010.

Commerce spokesman Tim Crowley said the funds were never released to Hobbs, Upchurch, and that the department, after conducting its own investigation, referred the matter to the SBI. Commerce receives about $45 million in federal Community Development block grants each year. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issues the funds.

Hobbs, who was a Democratic state senator in the 1990s, last year was fined $150,000 for illegal campaign contributions to Gov. Bev Perdue, former Gov. Mike Easley, former Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight and former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker. He was also charged with a misdemeanor for the contributions.


"Hobbs, who WAS a Democratic state senator..."

You see, this is N&O sneaky way of clouding the fact he's still a Democrat. The term "WAS" is actually the bus tire so now you know why tigers eat their young.

However, Democrats obviously have nine lives. Were he a Repiblican, he would be in Central prison by now for fraud. Hobbs commits campaign fraud yet counties still hire him as if he's an ethical and upstanding businessman. Go figure.

My question is with the State Department overseeing the work product of this clown. Looks like this is an ongoing habit. Rehabbing burned houses? Dead grant applicants? Sounds like Chicago to me. Who is reviewing the applications?

Not too worry though. We just raised the debt ceiling so we can expect plenty more of these types of activites from the government.

A warning to America from the Netherlands: Wake up Christians -- Islam is at your gate!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster   August 3, 2011

08-03-2011 6:12 pm - Geert Wilders -

A Warning to America - Speech delivered by Geert Wilders, at the Cornerstone Church, Nashville, Tennessess on May 12, 2011.
Dear friends from Tennessee. I am very happy to be in your midst today. I am happy and proud to be in this impressive church.

My friends, I am here to speak words of truth and freedom.

Do you know why America is in a better state than Europe? Because you enjoy more freedom than Europeans.

And do you know why Americans enjoy more freedom than Europeans? Because you are still allowed to tell the truth.

In Europe and Canada people are dragged to court for telling the truth about islam.

I, too, have been dragged to court. I am an elected member of the house of representatives in the Netherlands. I am currently standing in court like a common criminal for saying that islam is a dangerous totalitarian ideology rather than a religion.

The court case is still pending, but I risk a jail sentence of 16 months.

Last week, my friend Lars Hedegaard, a journalist from Denmark, was fined because in a private conversation, which was recorded without his knowing, he had criticised the way women are treated in islamic societies.

Recently, another friend, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a human rights activist from Austria, was fined because she had criticised islam's founder Muhammad. She had said that Muhammad was a pedophile because he had married a 6-year old girl and raped her when she was 9.

Unfortunately, there are many similar cases.

I am especially happy to be in your midst because here I can say what I want to say without having to fear that I will be dragged to court upon leaving this church.

My dear American friends, you cannot imagine how we envy your First Amendment. The day when America follows the example of Europe and Canada and introduces so-called "hate speech crimes" which is only used to punish people who are critical of islam, that day America will have lost its freedom.

My friends, let us hope that this never happens.

Last week, we celebrated Liberation Day in the Netherlands. We celebrated the liberation from the Nazi occupation in 1945. Many American soldiers, including many young Tennesseans, played a decisive role in the liberation of the Netherlands from nazi tyranny. We are immensely grateful for that. Young Americans gave their lives so that the Dutch might be free. I assure you: The Dutch people will never forget this.

Unfortunately, however, the Europe which your fathers and grandfathers fought and died for is not the Europe we are living in today.

I travel the world to tell people what Europe has become. I wish I could take you all on a visit to my country and show you what Europe has become. It has changed beyond recognition as a result of mass immigration. And not just any mass immigration, but mass immigration driven by the dangerous force of islam.

My friends, I am sorry. I am here today with an unpleasant message. I am here with a warning. I am here with a battle cry: "Wake up, Christians of Tennessee. Islam is at your gate." Do not make the mistake which Europe made. Do not allow islam to gain a foothold here.

Islam is dangerous. Islam wants to establish a state on earth, ruled by islamic sharia law. Islam aims for the submission, whether by persuasion, intimidation or violence, of all non-Muslims, including Christians.
The results can be seen in Europe.

Islam is an ideology of conquest. It uses two methods to achieve this goal: the first method is the sword. Do you know what figures on the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a country where Christian churches are banned and Christians are not even allowed to wear a tiny crucifix? There is a huge sword on that flag, just below the Islamic creed. The message is clear. Without the sword islam would not have been able to spread its creed.

The second method is immigration. Islam's founder Muhammad himself taught his followers how to conquer through immigration when they moved from Mecca to Medina. This phenomenon of conquest through immigration is called al-Hijra. My learned friend Sam Solomon has written a perfect book about it.

I had a copy of Sam's book sent to all the members of the Dutch Parliament. But most of them are worse than Saint-Thomas in the Bible. Thomas did not believe what he had not seen. Most politicians refuse to believe the things they see before their very eyes.

In Europe we have been experiencing al-Hijra for over 30 years now. Many of our cities have changed beyond recognition. "In each one of our cities" wrote the well-known Italian author Oriana Fallaci shortly before her death in 2006, "there is a second city, a state within the state, a government within the government. A Muslim city, a city ruled by the Koran." - end of quote.

How did the Europeans get into this situation? It is partly our own fault because we have foolishly adopted the concept of cultural relativism, which manifests itself in the ideology of multiculturalism.

Cultural relativism advocates that all cultures are equal. However, cultures wither away and die if people no longer believe that its values are better than those of another culture.

Islam is spreading like wildfire wherever people lack the guts to say that their values are better than the Islamic values.
Islam is spreading like wildfire because the Koran explicitly tells Muslims that they are "the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind" and that non-Muslims are "the worst of creatures."

Islam is spreading like wildfire everywhere in the West where political, academic, cultural and media elites lack the guts to proudly proclaim, as I believe we all should proclaim:

Our Judeo-Christian Western culture is far better and far superior to the islamic culture. We must be proud to say so!
Multiculturalism is a disaster. Almost everyone acknowledges this today, but few dare say why. Let me tell you why: Multiculturalism made us tolerate the intolerant, and now intolerance is annihilating tolerance.

We should, in the name of tolerance, claim the right not to tolerate the intolerant. Let us no longer be afraid and politically correct, let us be brave and bold. Let us tell the truth about islam.

Before I continue I want to make clear that I do not have a problem with people. I always make a distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and islam.

Indeed, I have no problems with Muslims, but I do have a problem with the totalitarian Islamic ideology of hate and violence. The fact that there are many so-called moderate Muslims, does not imply that there exists a moderate islam. A moderate islam doen not exist and will never exist.

And because there is no such thing as a moderate islam, the islamization of our free Western societies is an enormous danger.

Only two weeks ago, the British press revealed how the so-called "London Taliban" is threatening to kill women who do not wear veils in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.

In some neighbourhoods Islamic regulations are already being enforced, also on non-Muslims. Women's rights are being trampled. We are confronted with headscarves and burqa's, polygamy, female genital mutilation, honor-killings where men murder their wives, daughters or sisters because they do not behave in accordance with Islamic rules.

Polls show that the influence of those Muslims who live according to islam's aggressive requirements is growing, especially among young people.

Among 15-year-old German Muslims, 40 percent consider islam more important than democracy.

Among Muslim university students in Britain, 40 percent support sharia. One in three of those students considers it legitimate to kill in the name of islam.

Christians are asked to follow the example of Jesus. Muslims are ordered to follow the example of Muhammad. That is why islam is dangerous. While Christianity preaches love, islam preached hatred and practizes violence. Hatred and violence for everyone who is not a Muslim.

Muhammad personally participated in the ethnic cleansing of Medina, where half the population once was Jewish. Muhammad helped to chop off their heads. On his deathbed, he ordered his followers to cleanse Arabia of all Jews and Christians.

To this very day, Christian symbols are prohibited in Saudi-Arabia. If you wear a cross in Saudi Arabia, they sent you to jail.

And now, Europe is beginning to look like Arabia.

Just today, a poll revealed that in Brussels, the capital of the European Union, half the islamic youths are anti-semitic. It is dangerous for Jews to walk the streets in Brussels.

If you wear a cross or a kippah in certain urban areas in Europe today, you risk being beaten up. In the capital of my own country, Amsterdam, a tram driver was forced to remove his crucifix from sight, while his Muslim colleagues are allowed to wear the veil.

In June 2008, the Christian church authorities in the Danish town of Arhus decided to pay so-called "protection money" to islamic so-called "security guards" who assure that church goers are not harassed by islamic youths.

On March 31st, 2010, Muslims entered the Roman Catholic cathedral of Cordoba, Spain, and attacked the guards with knives. They claimed the cathedral was theirs.

Last month, the bishops of Sweden sent out a letter to priests advising them to avoid converting asylum seekers from islamic countries to Christianity, because the converts would risk losing their lives.

In the Netherlands, the city authorities in Amsterdam register polygamous marriages. The authorities in Rotterdam serve only halal meals in municipal cafeterias. Theaters provide separate seats for women who are not allowed to sit next to men. Municipal swimming pools have separate swimming hours for men and women, Muslim lawyers do not have to stand when the judges enter court rooms.

Meanwhile Jews are no longer safe on our streets. In Amsterdam, the city of Anne Frank, Jews are again being harassed in the streets. Even political leaders acknowledged that life has become unsafe for Jews in Holland. Do you know what they said? They advised Jews to emigrate. Jews are already running for Israel. But I say: Jews must not leave, violent Muslims must leave!

What is needed, my friends, is a spirit of resistance.

I repeat: What we need is a spirit of resistance.

Why? Because resistance to evil is our moral duty. This resistance begins with expressing our solidarity to Christians, Jews, indeed, to all people worldwide, who are the victims of islam. There are millions of them.

We can see what islam has in store for us if we watch the fate of the Christians in the islamic world, such as the Copts in Egypt, the Maronites in Lebanon, the Assyrians in Iraq, and Christians elsewhere.

Almost every day, churches are arsoned and Christians are assassinated in islamic countries.

In a report on the persecution of Christians in the world, Archbishop Twal of Jerusalem, wrote recently- I quote: "In the Middle East to be Christian means accepting that you must make a great sacrifice. All too often and in many places, Christians suffer various threats. On some occasions, their homes and churches are burnt, and people are killed. How many atrocities must we endure before somebody somewhere comes to our aid?" - end of quote.

Indeed, how many atrocities before we come to their aid?

Rivers of tears are flowing from the Middle East, where there is only one safe haven for Christians. You know where that is. The only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe is Israel.

That is why Israel deserves our support. Israel is a safe haven for everyone, whatever their belief and opinions. Israel is a beacon of light in a region of total darkness. Israel is fighting our fight.

The jihad against Israel is a jihad against all of us. If Israel falls, we, too, will feel the consequences. If Jerusalem falls, Athens, Rome, Amsterdam and Nashville will fall. Therefore, we all are Israel. We should always support Israel!

Today, we are confronted with political unrest in the Arab countries. The Arab peoples long for freedom. However, the ideology and culture of islam is so deeply entrenched in these countries that real freedom is simply impossible as long as islam remains dominant.

A recent poll in post-revolution Egypt found that 85 percent of Egyptians are convinced that islam's influence on politics is good, 82 percent believe that adulterers should be stoned, 84 percent want the death penalty for apostates. The press refers to the events in the Arab world today as the Arab spring. I call it the Arab winter.

Islam and freedom, islam and democracy are not compatible.

The death of Osama bin Laden last week was a victory for the free world, but we will be confronted with Islamic terrorism as long as islam exists, because islam's founder Muhammad himself was a terrorist, worse than Bin Laden.

And here is another truth: The rise of islam means the rise of sharia law in our judicial systems. In Europe we already have sharia wills, sharia schools, sharia banks. Britain even has sharia courts.

In my own country, the Netherlands, sharia is being applied by the courts in cases relating to divorce, child custody, inheritance, and property ownership. Women are always the victims of this because sharia discriminates women.

This is a disgrace. This is not the way we should treat women.

My friends, I told you that we have just remembered Liberation Day to commemorate the young Americans and all the heroes who offered their lives to free the Netherlands from nazi tyranny. It would be an insult to them if we Europeans would give up that precious freedom for another totalitarian ideology called Islam.

That is the goal for which my party and I work day after day. And we are having success.

In the Netherlands, we are successfully starting to roll back islam. The current Dutch government is a minority government which can only survive with the backing of my party, the Party for Freedom.

We have 24 seats of the 150 seats in parliament and we support the government, in return for measures to prohibit certain aspects of sharia law.

We have achieved that the Netherlands will soon ban the burka and the niqaab.

We will also restrict immigration from non-Western countries by up to 50% in the next four years. We are not going to allow islam to steal our country from us. It was the land of our fathers, it is our land now, our values are based on Christianity, Judaism and Humanism and we will pass this on to our children with all the freedoms that the previous generations have fought for.

Let those who want to rob us from our freedoms, stay in their own countries. We do not need them. If you want to wear a burqa, stay in Saudi-Arabia. If you want four wives, stay in Iran. If you want to live in a country where the islamic ideology is dominant, stay in Pakistan, if you don't want to assimilate in our society, stay in Somalia. But don't come over here.

We are also going to strip criminals who have a double nationality - for instance Dutch and Moroccan, and who repeatedly commit serious crimes, of their Dutch nationality. We will send them packing, back to their homeland.

My friends, what the Party for Freedom has achieved, shows that it can be done. We can fight the islamization of our societies.

Dear friends, here is my warning. Make no mistake: Islam is also coming for America. In fact, it is already here. America is facing a stealth jihad, the islamic attempt to introduce sharia law bit by bit. Last March, a judge in Tampa, Florida, ruled that a lawsuit against a mosque and involving the control of 2.4 million dollars, should proceed under Islamic law.

My friends, be aware that this is only the beginning. This is also how it started in Europe. If things continue like this, you will soon have the same problems as we are currently facing.

Leaders who talk about immigration without mentioning islam are blind. They ignore the most important problem Europe and America are facing. I have a message for them: it's islam stupid!

My friends, fortunately, not all politicians are irresponsible. Here, in Tennessee, brave politicians want to pass legislation which gives the state the power to declare organisations as terrorist groups and allowing material supporters of terrorism to be prosecuted. I applaud them for that. They are true heroes.

Yesterday and today, I met some of those brave legislators. They told me that Tennessee in particular is a target of islam. Help them win their battle.

They need your support.

While Tennessee is in the frontline, similar legislative initiatives are also being taken in the states of Oklahoma, Wyoming, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Missouri, Arizona, Indiana. It is encouraging to see that so many politicians are willing to resist islam.

This gives us hope and courage. I am not a pessimist. We can still turn the tide - even in Europe - if we act today.

There are five things which we must do.

First, we must defend freedom of speech.

Freedom is the source of human creativity and development. People and nations wither away without the freedom to question what is presented to them as the truth.

Without freedom of speech we risk becoming slaves. Frederick Douglass, the 19th century black American politician, the son of a slave, said - I quote - "To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker."

I have already told you about my court case. This legal charade will not, however, prevent me from saying the truth. Never. I will speak out, even if they drag me before 500 courts and threaten to jail me for a thousand years.

The fact that we are being treated as criminals for telling the truth must not deter us. We are doomed if we remain silent or let ourselves be silenced. Let us not forget, this is our first and most important obligation: defend the right to speak the truth.

Second, we must end cultural relativism and political correctness. We must repeat it over and over again, especially to our children: Our Western culture based on Christianity and Judaism is superior to the islamic culture. Our laws are superior to sharia. Our judeo-christian values are better than islam's totalitarian rules.

And because they are superior and better, we must defend them. We must fight for our own identity, or else we will lose it. We need to be warriors for the good, because the good is worth fighting for. Neutrality in the face of evil is evil.

Third, we must stop the islamization of our countries. More islam means less freedom. There is enough islam in the West already. We must stop immigration from non-Western countries, which are mostly islamic countries. We must expel criminal immigrants. We must forbid the construction of new hate palaces called mosques.

We must also close down all islamic schools because educating children in a spirit of hate is one of the worst things imaginable. We must introduce anti-sharia legislation everywhere in the free world. Enough is enough.

Fourth, we must take pride in our nations again. We must cherish and preserve the culture and identity of our country. Preserving our own culture and identity is the best antidote against islamization.

And fifth, last but certainly not least, we must elect wise and courageous leaders who are brave enough to address the problems which are facing us, including the threat of islam.

Politicians who have the courage to speak the truth about islam.

Politicians who dare to denounce the devastating results of the multicultural society.

Politicians who - without political correctness - say: enough is enough.

You and I, Americans and Europeans, we belong to a common Western culture. We share the ideas and ideals of our common Judeo-Christian heritage. In order to pass this heritage on to our children and grandchildren, we must stand together, side by side, in our struggle against Islamic barbarism.

That, my friends, is why I am here. I am here to forge an alliance. Our international freedom alliance. We must stand together for the Judeo-Christian West.

We will not allow islam to overrun Israel and Europe, the cradle of the judeo-Christian civilization.

My friends, we will stand together.

We will stand firm.

We will not submit. Never. Not in Israel, not in Europe, not in America. Nowhere.

We will survive.

We will stop islam.

We will defend our freedoms.

We will remain free.

Thank you.


Geert Wilders (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣeːrt ˈwɪldərs]; born September 6, 1963 in Venlo) is a Dutch[1] right-wing politician and leader of the Party for Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid – PVV), the third-largest political party in the Netherlands.[2][3] He is the Parliamentary group leader of his party in the Dutch House of Representatives. In the formation in 2010 of the current Rutte cabinet, a minority cabinet of VVD and CDA, he actively participated in the negotiations, resulting in a "toleration agreement" (gedoogakkoord) between the PVV and these parties. Wilders is best known for his criticism of Islam, summing up his views by saying, "I don't hate Muslims, I hate Islam".[4]

Raised a Roman Catholic, Wilders left the church at his coming of age. His travels to Israel as a young adult, as well as to neighbouring Arab countries, helped form his political views. He worked as a speechwriter for the conservative-liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie – VVD), and later served as parliamentary assistant to party leader Frits Bolkestein from 1990 to 1998. He was elected to the Utrecht city council in 1996, and later to the House of Representatives. Citing irreconcilable differences over the party's position on the accession of Turkey to the European Union, he left the VVD in 2004 to form his own party, the Party for Freedom.

Wilders has campaigned to stop what he views as the "Islamisation of the Netherlands". He compares the Quran with Mein Kampf and has campaigned to have the book banned in the Netherlands.[5][6][7] He advocates ending immigration from Muslim countries,[5][8] and supports banning the construction of new mosques.[9] 

He was a speaker at the Facing Jihad Conference held in Jerusalem in 2008, which discussed the dangers of jihad, and has called for a hard line against what he called the "street terror" exerted by minorities in Dutch cities.[10] His controversial 2008 film about his views on Islam, Fitna, received international attention. He has been described as populist,[11][12][13] labelled far right,[14][15] and defended by one British newspaper opinion columnist as a mainstream politician with legitimate concerns.[11] Wilders, who has refused to align himself with other European far-right leaders such as Jean-Marie Le Pen and Jörg Haider, views himself as a right-wing liberal and has expressed concern of being "linked with the wrong rightist fascist groups." [16]

Wilders was banned from entering the United Kingdom between 12 February 2009 and 13 October 2009 by the Labour government, the Home Office saying his presence would be a "threat to one of the fundamental interests of society".[17] The ban was overturned after Wilders appealed[18] and he visited the UK in October 2009,[19] and again in March 2010 to show his film.

In January 2009, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal ordered Wilders' prosecution for "incitement to hatred and discrimination".[20] Wilders was acquitted of these charges on 23 June 2011.[21]


Chatham, New York 12037 USA
Tel: +1-518-392-7062

Postcards from the Edge -- McIntyre can't take a joke. And won't own up to abusing taxpayers' hard-earned dollars.


McIntyre staffer responds to Pantano’s postcards

by Pat Gannon  StarNewsOnline
August 1, 2011  10:16 am

Dean Mitchell, the chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, blasted Ilario Pantano’s sending of prank postcards poking fun at McIntyre’s recent taxpayer-funded trip to Europe.


 Read about the postcards here. (StarNews intro to giddy 'postcard' story)

“All he does is distort, denigrate and distract from the fact that he had an abysmal second quarter of little fundraising, and he now has his hands full with a primary opponent,” Mitchell said in a statement. “The folks of Southeastern North Carolina have rejected his tactics once before, and they will reject it again.”

Mitchell said McIntyre’s trip focused on economic and national security. Read about the trip here.
“The congressman will continue to do his work in a bi-partisan manner, while Mr. Pantano continues his silly antics,” Mitchell said.

Pantano is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. House in the 7th Congressional District. State Sen. David Rouzer of Johnston County recently announced he would also run for the GOP nod.
McIntyre easily raised more money than Pantano in the second quarter of this year.






Members Of Congress On Rome Junket Funded By Taxpayers

First Posted: 06/24/11 12:02 PM ET Updated: 06/24/11 12:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Summer is upon us and that means only one thing in the nation's capital: time for Congress to take a holiday at government expense.
Friday evening, a government jet carrying six House members, four of their wives, three congressional staffers and five members of the military, including an Army doctor in case anyone gets sick along the way, will taxi down the runway at Andrews Air Force Base. Over the next 10 days, the group, led by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Europe and Eurasia subcommittee, will visit five capital cities: Rome; Tbilisi, Georgia; Vilnius, Lithuania; Moscow and Lisbon.
Despite a debt crisis at home and an economy that will see many private citizens take 'staycations' this summer, this bipartisan congressional delegation, or CODEL, is hardly unusual. In May, Burton led a CODEL to Dublin, Vienna and Prague.
On board for this European trip are two Republicans and four Democrats -- including the non-voting delegate from Guam: Reps.Tom Marino (R-Penn.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.),Theodore Deutch (D-Fla.), Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas) and Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam).
Also along for the ride are the wives of Burton, Deutch, Hinojosa and McIntrye. According to the itinerary, Dee and Mike McIntyre will celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary in Rome.
Burton's latest junket, like all official government trips, has been planned in excruciating detail by military and diplomatic staff, the latter of whom are in the midst of a two-year pay freeze.
While the purpose of the trip is reportedly to "examine the European financial crisis" and the "foreign operations of the U.S. government," a minute-by-minute itinerary of the Rome leg obtained by The Huffington Post makes clear there will be plenty of time for fun this weekend.
Burton's office did not return a request for comment.
After flying overnight to Rome, the coterie will check in Saturday for two nights at a 5-star hotel on the famous and expensive Via Veneto. Lunch follows at a quiet restaurant near the Vatican before the group heads off for a tour. Then it's "evening at leisure."
Sunday begins with breakfast followed by a Latin High Mass at St. Peter's Basilica. An afternoon "cultural tour of Rome" will cost "approx $35/person" so delegation members will need to carry some cash. More personal time follows. The schedule notes: "See Welcome packages for suggested venues."
Monday morning the business begins. The congressmen will have a half-hour meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Italy David Thorne. Then it's off to the Bank of Italy to discuss, presumably, the European debt crisis that, so far, the government in Rome has managed to stave off.
Then it's off to the airport and wheels-up to Tbilisi at noon..
A U.S. government official familiar with the planning for the Rome leg said the weekend alone will cost taxpayers about $70,000. He noted that figure includes extra security, drivers and overtime for embassy staff, including a cashier and two guards for a delegation courtesy room at the hotel where guests can exchange their dollars for Euros, instead of heading to the nearest ATM.
The itinerary offers other delectable details such as:
  • Luggage call. Members of Congress need only set their bags outside their hotel room door and the bags will magically make their way to the airport.
  • Meals included. Airline customers may have to bring their own food on cross-country flights in the U.S., but not government officials. Dinner Friday night will be "Pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables, side salad, dinner roll and dessert (*Vegetarian meals will be provided for Rep. and Mrs. Deutch at all meals)." Lunch en route to Georgia: "Pesto Marinated Salmon, Rice Pilaf, Mixed Vegetables, & Dessert."
  • Per Diems. Those get distributed to the group Saturday morning, according to the printed schedule.
  • Sartorial advice. For the Vatican, the group is told the attire is "Business Dress (Dark colors please. No white suits/dresses)." At other times, "flat shoes" are recommended, presumably for all the sightseeing the delegation plans to do.
Details were still being finalized late Thursday evening, according to an all-caps footnote in the itinerary addressed to what appears to be an embassy staffer.


Frank Williams running for Brunswick County Commissioner in 2012. Seeks lower taxes, better business climate.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / August 3, 2011


LELAND, N.C. – Brunswick County small business owner and community leader Frank Williams, a conservative Republican, announced his candidacy today for the District 5 Brunswick County Board of Commissioners’ seat currently held by Bill Sue. Commissioner Sue recently told the Wilmington Star-News and other media outlets that he will not seek re-election in 2012. 

“Over the past two months a number of people throughout Brunswick County have encouraged me to run for County Commissioner next year, and after prayerful consideration I have decided to enter the race,” says Williams.  “Brunswick County has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade, and that proves we have a good thing going.  It is critical that we exercise the common sense conservative leadership required to preserve the very reasons we choose to call Brunswick County home.

“As a county commissioner, my priorities will include keeping taxes low for our families and small businesses, creating a climate in which small businesses and entrepreneurs can grow, prosper and create jobs in Brunswick County, and ensuring that county government makes wise, efficient use of our citizens’ tax dollars,” Williams added.  “I look forward to the upcoming campaign and am excited about the opportunity to meet with Brunswick County’s residents, hear their concerns, answer their questions and earn their support.”

Frank Williams grew up in the northern Brunswick County community of Northwest and is a 1988 graduate of North Brunswick High School.  His first leadership role came as a teenager, when he served as a Patrol Leader in Leland’s Boy Scout Troop 265.  He attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he earned a B.A. in Communication.   

Williams owns and operates Pioneer Strategies, a marketing and public relations firm he founded ten years ago.  He serves on the boards of directors of Communities in Schools of Brunswick County, the North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce and the Leland Area Rotary Club.   

Williams also serves on the Brunswick Community College Small Business Center Advisory Committee and chaired the Boy Scouts’ 2010 and 2011 fundraising breakfasts in Leland.  He is a member of the National Rifle Association.   

Williams has served as Chairman of the N.C. 7th Congressional District Republican Party since 2009 and recently announced that he will not seek re-election to the post.  He is a member of Northside Baptist Church.  

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Contact:  Frank Williams