Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rep. Price's broadside at the Navy

U.S. Rep. David Price’s 4th Congressional District is at least a couple of hours west of the rural northeastern landscape where the Navy proposes to put a practice aircraft carrier landing field for its new FA 18 Super Hornet jet aircraft. The site is near the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Preserve, where large migratory waterfowl spend half the year, posing a danger to the pilots and planes and where the Navy’s planes pose a danger to an important wildlife refuge.
Price is a former college professor, a scholarly gent regarded as a student of the House of Representatives and as thoughtful a legislator as any I have known in my 39 years of writing about North Carolina politics. As a ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee and chairman of the homeland security subcommittee, Price is a “Cardinal” – one of 20 House members with special clout when it comes to the budget process. He’s one reason why the Navy’s appropriation for the landing field is evaporating.
I don’t recall seeing him angry, hearing him raise his voice or pointing his finger about public issues. Not his style.
But in reading Price’s May 9 letter to Rear Admiral Richard Cellon, commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Norfolk, I could almost hear the rolling thunder from his written broadside. And you can imagine him ripping the Navy’s epaulettes and brass buttons off its dress blues for the way it has tried to force the outlying landing field on the site in Washington and Beaufort counties.
You can click this link to read the full seven-page bombardment of the Navy’s reasoning and its baffling failure to follow the directives of the federal courts and congress, instead “papering over very legitimate concerns” about the site. He said the Navy’s choice of the site was “grossly incompatible” with the service’s training goals because of the possibility of bird-aircraft strikes. The Navy, he went on, “would seemingly have a difficult challenge in selecting a worse site” than the one it wants.
His letter is worth reading.


David McKnight said...

It's too bad Price's congressional office can't get interested in individual rights issues in his district involving federal governmental agencies and higher educational institutions.

The Research Triangle Park region is rife with Dr. Strangeglove-type schemings against the daily working lives of individual North Carolinians in the Durham and Chapel Hill region, yet not once has Congressman Price's office fired a single salvo in the direction of Duke, UNC or the Research Triangle Institute about not running over the federal and state constuitutional rights of North Carolinians.

The news media seem afraid to go after these stories perhaps because they are head-over-heels into ridiculous and counter-productive adventures involving journalistic "cooperation" with governmental departments and the political parties, all in the apparent interest of "seeing how people react" to different pre-arranged situations.

It's a disgrace, Jack, and how can a congressman with such an outstanding recording in basic committee work in Congress and on general public issues affecting certain important political constituencies take a pass on rampaging "mad scientist/bureaucrats" stampedes against individual rights in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill in the guise of promoting better "understanding" for the journalism, higher education and public service communities?

David McKnight said...

I feel that I should just clarify my last post: there is no justification for an institution of higher learning to take advantage of an individual, impoverish him or her, or block his or her course toward gainful employment and civic occupation, all in the name of "societal" or social research.

Congressman Price's office should not assist political organizations or wayward partisan offices or departments in the Research Triangle Universities (North Carolina, Duke and N.C. State) in any scheme to regulate scholarship and the press or regulate the creative and productive output of journalists, artists and writers in their daily and weekly professional routines.

Just look at the name of the great educational reformer atop the student union building at UNC-Chapel Hill: Frank Porter Graham. Now there was a champion of teaching, scholarship and research who saw no need for infringing upon the constitutional rights of the people in order to advance these academic missions. And in much of the 20th Century, Duke University was known as a principled, intellectually guided institution philosophically opposed to political or partisan ideological manipulation of or interference in the natural inclinations of truth-seeking academic life in order to "force" certain supposed political "results" into the arenas of journalism and public policy studies. N.C. State was and is today solidly prepared for teaching, research and academic missions essential to the future well-being of this state, country and global community.

So the Democratic Party of North Carolina, especially in Congressman Price's own home district which includes Durham and Chapel Hill, should honor these great academic traditions in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill and not seek to foreclose on the region's non-partisan traditions of universal academic excellence.

The Research Triangle Park region was never intended to be some kind of "trap" preventing the leadership of North Carolina from being able to more effectively serve all ther people in all regions of North Carolina. National and international business, commercial, scientific, medical, technical and humanitarian endeavors are all marvelous by-products of the great adventure launched by Gov. Luther Hodges and others to create the Research Triangle Park in the first place, but the people and communities of North Carolina were never supposed to be left behind and cut off from the resources and promises of the RTP.

Therefore the Park should not be manipulated into becoming some kind of national political laboratory for partisan political organizations, and Congressman Price's office should not cooperate in ill-advised and philosophically untenable schemes to sidetrack the unfettered pursuit of academic excellence simply to "outsource" political information and strategies for Democratic Party interests in the Northeast and Texas, and the same should apply to the Republican Party as well.

However, the problem of forcing scholarship and academics into the partisan ideological corridors of special political interest groups seems at the present time to be more prevalent in the national Democratic Party than in the national Republican Party in this one supposedly "liberal" section of North Carolina, so congressional scholar and accomplished author that he is, Rep. Price needs to let his Democratic Party colleagues know in no uncertain terms that the Research Triangle Universities are not to be transfored into partisan political farm clubs simply to test out campaign strategies for the next presidential election cycle.

The true liberal view toward academic study and research should be that such scholarly endeavors should be able to follow their own natural course all the way through to the logical and truthful conclusions of honest intellectual inquiry.

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