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N.C. Lottery foe confident that lottery will be ruled an illegal tax

Editorial / OpinionEditorial / Opinion: N.C. Lottery foe confident that lottery will be ruled an illegal tax

By Steve Ford,
News & Observer
 

Bob Orr has an agreeably youthful look about him, and not just because he's four days younger than I (a trivia item once called to his attention). Maybe it's only my imagination, but these days there seems to be even a hint of mischief in his smile — as if he were a kid who had just poked a stick into an ant hill and was enjoying the confusion.

If Orr prevails in his latest legal venture, lots of Raleigh's political ants will be running in tight circles.

Oh, he was all business the other day when he went before three judges of the Court of Appeals to argue that the state lottery amounts to an improperly enacted tax. But afterwards, there was a look as if he knew he'd played a good trick.

The irony, and familiarity, of the setting might have had something to do with it. Bob Orr served on this very Court of Appeals, as the first modern-era Republican to win a statewide judicial election.

After several years there, he ran successfully for a seat on the Supreme Court, where he continued to be well-regarded. But faced with shifting ground rules for judicial campaigning — an awkward endeavor at best for judges trying to remain impartial — Orr in 2004 stepped down from the high court. He became executive director of the new N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, founded by Art Pope of Raleigh, a conservative former legislator (the Institute says it is nonpartisan).

And wouldn't you know it: unleashed from the bench, Orr's inner politician roared. He's now seeking the Republican nomination for governor. And what a nice little issue on which to have cornered the market: The lottery, beloved by Governor Easley and other top state Democrats, is accused of being a legislative fraud.

Orr doesn't even have to make the suggestion — the people who got the lottery passed couldn't have done it without cutting corners that ought to render the whole effort invalid.

And who knows how far this corner-cutting really went? After all, the speaker of the House at the time, one Jim Black, now stands revealed as a crook who soon could be doing his speaking in the federal Big House.

No surprise, but Orr's comfort level seemed high as he faced the three appeals judges the other morning in the handsome courtroom overlooking Fayetteville Street, corner of Morgan.

The thrust of his argument (an argument that had flopped in a Wake County trial court): Because 35 percent of lottery proceeds are set aside by law to benefit education, that makes the lottery a tax. And because it's a tax, the General Assembly was obliged by the state constitution to jump through special hoops to enact it. Which it didn't — meaning that the lottery law can't pass a legal smell test.

Norma Harrell, special deputy attorney general, offered a well-developed response that was a lawyerly way of saying, "Baloney!" The state simply pockets the profits from its lottery venture, she maintained, and nobody's forced to buy a lottery ticket.

In charge was Judge James Wynn Jr., an appeals court veteran who also pulled a brief Supreme Court stint (and who's a well-known Democrat). There's no telling how Wynn might come down in the case, but he seemed to take Orr's position seriously, as did fellow judges Bob Hunter and Ann Marie Calabria.

What perplexed Wynn, or so his questions indicated, was this: If the courts find the lottery law to be unconstitutional, wouldn't that unleash the mother of all political/legislative messes?

Consider all the contracts with lottery suppliers and outlets. Consider all the jobs. Consider all the money people have won. What if the whole operation turns out to have been — my words, not Wynn's — an illegal numbers racket? The risk — Wynn's word — would be "chaos."

The judge tried to get Orr to buy into the notion that even if the lottery was deemed an illegally enacted tax, the whole statute might not have to be thrown out. Perhaps the remedy could be, just redirect the 35 percent of revenue now designated for education until the legislature could go back and pass the law again, this time by the rules.

Redirect it to whom? Ticket-buyers! Now that's a ticket to popularity for the judges who would order it.

The lottery passed just barely the first time around in 2005, with most Republicans opposed. Re-enacting it, to keep revenue flowing that the state now relies upon, probably could be done, but it would be a pain.

Meanwhile, if Orr were to find himself with a winning ticket in court, he'd enjoy a nice political pay-out as well, at least among lottery foes. What's not to like about his situation? He's always been friendly, but these days he has even more reason to share that mischievous little grin.

News & Observer

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12 comments. Last comment 10 years ago by rdc137.
Page 1 of 1
psykomo's avatar - animal shark.jpg

United States
Member #4877
May 30, 2004
5122 Posts
Offline
Posted: May 29, 2007, 3:11 pm - IP Logged

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Jack-in-the-Box<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    Ladee's avatar - Lottery-008.jpg
    North Carolina
    United States
    Member #52091
    May 10, 2007
    1366 Posts
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    Posted: May 29, 2007, 6:57 pm - IP Logged

    Nothing pisses me off more......why not put his energy behind getting some of this crack off the street and making NC safe from gang activity!!!!!!! Let me worry  about where I spend my dollar!

      MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
      Beautiful Florida
      United States
      Member #5709
      July 18, 2004
      20117 Posts
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      Posted: May 29, 2007, 8:34 pm - IP Logged

      Quote about oob borr. And wouldn't you know it: unleashed from the bench, Orr's inner politician roared. He's now seeking the Republican nomination for governor. And what a nice little issue on which to have cornered the market: The lottery, beloved by Governor Easley and other top state Democrats, is accused of being a legislative fraud.

      And what a poor excuse for a republican this guy is>>>> Another grandstander looking to put his name in the book. When are the people from NC, going to realize this guy is another idiot ?  What a back stabber he's going to be to the State while he rides a white horse and tells the folks down there what to do with their money...This guy is an absolute JO..........period...!  Also if these judges go along with this idiot and say it's a tax, they all need to be locked in a cubicle with 10,000 red ants.... Where was this JO when it was brought up before? Oh, thats right he wasn't running for the republican nominee then was he....    How pathetic is this story..?

      Did'nt this JO try this once before and lose then, back in 2006 ?????????

                                                   

                                                     "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

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        Franklin-n.c
        United States
        Member #37194
        April 12, 2006
        36 Posts
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        Posted: May 29, 2007, 9:30 pm - IP Logged

        n.c full of Idiots like that he should do more about getting JOBS for his state.

          TheGameGrl's avatar - character catafly.jpg
          A long and winding road
          United States
          Member #17084
          June 10, 2005
          4528 Posts
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          Posted: May 29, 2007, 11:34 pm - IP Logged

          Nothing pisses me off more......why not put his energy behind getting some of this crack off the street and making NC safe from gang activity!!!!!!! Let me worry  about where I spend my dollar!

          Pardon but as an avid beleiver in freedom of speech and being able to argue openly in court, I consider it interesting that a fellow citizen does just that. How is exerting ones right to do so an irritating matter?

          So what if he had an ulterior motive to boost his political re entry , he makes valid points and even the truth from a liar is still the truth. The laws are all about who is the greater debator about the interpretation of the law or enactment. This guy has a plausible arguement

          ~~Is it true, Is it kind,Is it necessary. ~~~

           Thanks be to the giving numbers: 1621,912,119 02014

            jarasan's avatar - new patrick.gif
            Harbinger
            D.C./MD.
            United States
            Member #44103
            July 30, 2006
            5583 Posts
            Online
            Posted: May 30, 2007, 6:31 pm - IP Logged

            This is why that couple was brought out on TV. and their dreams shattered, something is going on in N.C. Bob Orr can &$^%$#%@*@&^(!(&^#&$!)#*&^!)#(&^!)$  off!  Mad

            And I don't even live there but I visit and that may stop.

              Avatar
              NY
              United States
              Member #23835
              October 16, 2005
              3474 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: May 30, 2007, 8:16 pm - IP Logged

              Pardon but as an avid beleiver in freedom of speech and being able to argue openly in court, I consider it interesting that a fellow citizen does just that. How is exerting ones right to do so an irritating matter?

              So what if he had an ulterior motive to boost his political re entry , he makes valid points and even the truth from a liar is still the truth. The laws are all about who is the greater debator about the interpretation of the law or enactment. This guy has a plausible arguement

              "Freedom of speech"? This guy isn't exercising his freedom of speech. He could exercise his freedom of speech on any street corner, or by writing to every newspaper in the state if he wanted to.  He filed a lawsuit against a state lottery because he's personally opposed to the lottery. Even if it's a short and simple case it will cost the taxpayers of NC a lot of money. This is really an extremely simple matter. Anybody who is opposed to the lottery shouldn't buy lottery tickets.

                OldSchoolPa's avatar - Lottery-057.jpg
                Gurnee, Illinois
                United States
                Member #49731
                February 12, 2007
                917 Posts
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                Posted: June 1, 2007, 9:00 am - IP Logged

                I am going to be in NC in about a week's time...was planning to continue my playing of PB while there...perhaps I could get lucky and add another storyline to NC winners...they already had a winner win playing in state and another resident win playing in SC, so how about a non-resident winning while in NC?!!!  And yes, I would just pay whatever taxes are due and take the lump sum and run back to...wherever my multi-millions will take me!!!

                Get MONEY!!! Winning a JACKPOT lottery is all the HOPE and CHANGE I desire!!!  NOW give me MONEY!US Flag

                The guy who won the presidency in 2008 really won the lottery...he is now millions richer, travels in first class style, and even has a staff that would be the envy of the richest Powerball winner (she has a staff of 2). Every night he goes to sleep, he probably plays the close of Dave Chappelle's Show: I'm rich beyatch!

                  dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

                  United States
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                  September 17, 2003
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                  Posted: June 2, 2007, 1:11 am - IP Logged

                  If you believe in free speach try setting up a website about online poker in the state of WA. The idiots here will close it down even if no actual gambling is going on.

                    Avatar

                    United States
                    Member #52552
                    May 29, 2007
                    55 Posts
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                    Posted: June 2, 2007, 1:19 am - IP Logged

                    We all know that big Brother want's a cut in on the action ...take it or leave it. America isn't Great?!  Patriot

                      MillionsWanted's avatar - 24Qa6LT

                      Norway
                      Member #9517
                      December 10, 2004
                      1272 Posts
                      Online
                      Posted: June 2, 2007, 9:37 am - IP Logged

                      The "lottery tax" is absolutely voluntarily. If you don't buy any tickets then you won't get any "lottery tax".

                      What he is risk doing is make everyone pay more ordinary taxes to cover the extra money the lottery  collects for education or whatever, but will not in the future.

                        Avatar
                        Delaware
                        United States
                        Member #30273
                        January 14, 2006
                        494 Posts
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                        Posted: June 4, 2007, 8:09 pm - IP Logged

                        The "lottery tax" is absolutely voluntarily. If you don't buy any tickets then you won't get any "lottery tax".

                        What he is risk doing is make everyone pay more ordinary taxes to cover the extra money the lottery  collects for education or whatever, but will not in the future.

                        I'm guessing that wouldn't bother him, especially if he is really coming the religious angle. I find that many of the Bible Belt states have high or unusual taxes, and they were generally slower to catch on to the lottery (some haven't).