HB 1623: “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
Or we should call it what it really does – to boldly give away your tax dollars as no man has done before. Once again a bill is attempting to disguise “pork barrel” spending as “job creation” except this bill is way out there in more than the usual way. House Bill 1623 – NCA&T McNair Center Funds – sponsored by Representative Earl Jones (D-Guilford) has an innocuous sounding title that honors a brave astronaut, Ronald McNair, who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.
But once you get by the title you find that this bill is definitely "Lost In Space" using as cover the old standby of “job creation.” Jones’ bill would fund the creation of a new research facility at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. This study and land acquisition comes with a price tag of $1.7 million. This money will be used to “secure land, to conduct a feasibility/market study, and to develop a master plan for the construction of a state-of-the-art technology research and development building complex known as, drum roll please, "The Star Fleet Academy Complex."
Wait a second… The what? No, this is not a science fiction novel. It is a real bill in the North Carolina General Assembly, has been assigned to a committee, and if it passes it will start the process to build an academy based on the movie Star Trek. Thankfully, the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) has granted the Scientific and Economic Development, Inc. the right to use the Star Trek Brand, so we won’t be breaking copyright laws. Of course to accomplish these great things the state will be partnering with a corporation formed in December 2008 and headquartered in an architectural office in Greensboro, NC that advertises its vision as “…to become the international leader in the development of Science Fiction based Educational mixed-use urban renewal and regional redevelopment projects.”
Also worth noting, the $1.7 million will not build us a state-of-the-art Star Fleet Academy, it will only buy the land and create a plan to build it. Section 3 of this bill says this Complex will produce more than 1,000 jobs. It is unclear if these are jobs created in the planning stage, the building stage, or the actual day-to-day maintenance of the Complex. If these jobs are in the building stage or the maintenance stage, we will get far less jobs for our $1.7 million. Of course for 1.7 million maybe we will at least get those neat sound effects when the doors on the Starship Enterprise open and close.