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There were two easily distinguishable groups in the Judiciary II meeting on Tuesday and Thursday. The people with The League, wearing labels "Town Resident" were all PAID [with taxpayer money, which is another problem that needs to be addressed] PAID to be there to speak for keeping forced annexation. When I asked a number of them if they were town residents by force or by choice, the answer was unanimous: By choice. This group was allowed 4 speakers to address the Committee, who all repeated the League's old story: only by forced annexation can cities continue to grow in an orderly manner. Oddly enough their own statistics refute this statement, so frequently mouthed by Senator Tony Rand as well. Less than 20% of North Carolina annexations are forced, so why does that minority continue to be deprived of their right to vote? Then there were the people dressed in red, from all over the state, who paid their own way to Raleigh, hoping that their voices would finally be heard. 3 people were allowed to speak, representing the citizens; and only about half the Committee was there to hear them. Their message: we want a vote, oversight of all annexations, and meaningful services. We will return again and again and again, as long as necessary, to obtain what should have been required all along. Rep. Earl Jones, Guilford County, made some very pertinent remarks regarding this bill's providing for “doughnut holes” to be annexed. If 75% of the people in such an area vote to be annexed, the city MUST annex them. However, if 100% of county residents in an area facing forced annexation wish NOT to be annexed, they are not allowed to vote. Rep. Pat Hurley of Randolph County pointed out that giving annexation oversight to the Local Government Commission weights the process against county residents, which is part of the problem of the law now in use. Whatever, if any, reforms are passed in this committee should be retroactive, as corrupt annexations have destroyed and are continuing to destroy the quality of life of hundreds of North Carolina citizens who have had no say in the procedure. Thank you for listening.
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