Short sighted

By Steve Woodward

Pinehurst is a world-class, world-famous golf destination, and a nice place to live.

Pinehurst also is a small town with many melodramatic sub-plots coursing through its communal arteries. It has, like any town, its share of petty small-minded people warped by delusions of grandeur and driven by a sense of moral and intellectual superiority.

In fact, Pinehurst might be able to claim that it is home to the poster boy of said demented person. He is John Strickland, mayor of Pinehurst, registered Republican, and a member of the Country Club of North Carolina.

That thumbnail bio is important by way of understanding why Strickland is well on his way to becoming Public Enemy No. 1. 

Mayor Strickland, right, during Holly Arts Fest.

Despite broad public sentiment and a planning and zoning board opposing him, Strickland is unrelenting in his desire to eviscerate private property rights and steamroll the short-term home rental market in Pinehurst. The Pinehurst Village Council has twice delayed voting on a measure to scale back and, eventually, stop short-term rentals (STRs) after throngs of citizens lined up to speak out against Strickland and two council members (also so-called Republicans), Jane Hogeman and Pat Pizzella, who will act in lockstep to ensure a 3-2 deciding vote. What are the odds of three anti-Capitalist Republicans ending up on the same board?

The Council meets at 8 a.m. this Wednesday, October 26, in Assembly Hall at 395 Magnolia Road, to re-visit the STR issue. Time will be allocated for public comment. Comments also can be submitted by email to The meeting will be livestreamed via the Village web site,  

Pinehurst has two engines of commerce tied to the golf industry. It has the all-encompassing Pinehurst Resort, which operates nine golf courses, a sprawling merchandise/pro shop, one grand hotel, three inns and multiple dining venues, along with the members-only Pinehurst Country Club and its private merchandise shop. The secondary engine is fueled by area golf facilities, gated/residential, semi-private and public, which accept tee time reservations booked by golfers who are not resort guests.

Where do these golfers reside when they visit? Many choose from a roster of area hotels, from bargain to slightly less-than-bargain. Seasoned golf groups have over the years rented private homes for their “buddy trips”. As a former owner of a golf-centric rental home, I can report enjoying 14 years of rental revenue and relatively low maintenance. Golfers come and go leaving things generally unscathed. Occasionally, they rearrange furniture, or spill on the carpet, or discombobulate the cable TV settings. And they almost never clean the gas grill after grilling. All were minor inconveniences for the owner and a competent property manager.

Strickland claims these golfers are a plague on our community, a blight on our daily lives. 

As the Pinehurst STR market grew exponentially due to the advent of VRBO and airbnb, and other online rental portals, Strickland become ever more tyrannical about stopping it cold. (Historians will remind Strickland that cottage rentals have been integral to Pinehurst’s popularity since the early 1900s).

His zeal is such that he is uncaring about collateral damage, including squeezing a revenue stream that will cripple the balance sheets of the Country Club of North Carolina, where he is a member.

Contemplate the absurdity of this. A STR home on a random street in Pinehurst might, conceivably, become occupied by a group of young golfers, set free for a weekend without spousal supervision, who decide to drink too much, swear too loudly, and crank up the sound system too late into the night. In that rare case, a neighbor would be within the bounds of reason to call on the Pinehurst PD to the pay a visit to the party house. If it keeps happening, law enforcement and the Village would take steps to penalize the homeowner. Problem solved.

At CCNC, there are 14 rental homes within the gates. Who rents these homes? Members of CCNC, typically the state and national members, those who do not live on the grounds or in the area. As such, there is no comparison between STRs in the broader community and those in the pool at CCNC. But Strickland pointedly refuses to draw a distinction or make an exception. 

In a recent letter to its membership, club president Mark Reinemann detailed the board of directors’ position:

“CCNC is at a near historical low in available homes given the real estate buying frenzy of the last several years. We need to expand the number of rental homes, not cap them. Not only is this an obvious impact on our members who travel to CCNC and typically stay at one of our rental homes, it also impacts individual homeowners who plan one day to place their homes in the rental pool at CCNC for a variety of reasons.”

The loss of rental home income would negatively impact the club’s annual revenue stream by millions of dollars because of Strickland’s reckless plan.

Overall, the economic damage to Pinehurst’s STR owners, restaurants and pubs, and retail has the capacity to make Governor Roy Cooper’s maniacal pandemic lockdowns feel mild by comparison. Strickland’s “state of emergency” would be indefinite. But this assumes that his hand-picked predecessor, most likely Pizzella, is elected in the future.

Pat Pizzella

Meanwhile, a cascade of lawsuits is certain to be filed by all parties, which will almost certainly add to the long list of citizens fed up with Mayor Strickland, and for he and is “legacy” the timing could not be worse.

Early next year, candidates will begin filing to run for mayor in November 2023. Strickland has given his ideological foes (Republicans who know all too well he is not one of them) an irresistible campaign issue – the resurrection of short-term rentals by 2024, just in time for the return of the U.S. Open that summer.

Things never end well for tyrants, do they?

Stein way

By Steve Woodward

When a Democrat rolls into town to provide free advice about how to spend other people’s money it can be safely assumed a diversionary tactic is at play. 

NC Attorney General Josh Stein (D) arrives for an appearance in Moore County on September 26, 2022.

In the case of Attorney General Josh Stein, the play is, “I’m running for governor in 2024, and what better way to drive around the state oozing compassion than to talk about the opioid crisis and what we are doing about it.”

Stein and the Democrats never will address the root cause of the crisis, which is the nation’s deliberately unprotected border with Mexico. And the secondary cause is not likely to come up, either — two years of Left-imposed virus lockdowns, unconstitutional, that drove mental illness and drug dependency through the roof. 

Instead, Stein graced a small, clamoring gathering September 26 in the Moore County Agricultural Center in Carthage, to lead our wide-eyed servants through leveraging the so-called “national opioid settlement” intended to fund projects that “fight addiction and help save lives.” The settlement project involved a group of attorneys general suing opioid (drug) manufacturers and extracting $26 billion that will be doled out to states hardest hit by the opioid crisis, with an estimated $750 million headed to North Carolina’s 100 counties.

The devil will be in the details, and the suspicion is that Stein and fellow Democrats will distribute the funds with numerous caveats and strings attached, which is what brought Stein to Carthage. This money will be worth following in coming months and years as we see if it really is allocated to opioid programs, or is just moved round from one slush fund to another.

The Left that despises the Pharma giants who make the opioids fell on their collective knees when it came to their riding to the rescue on Wuhan virus vaccines. In this case, they were undisputed saviors and their profit motives are ignored entirely. Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount that the miracle virus vaccines have caused a plethora of injuries and fatalities, including among healthy adult athletes and children. Even worse, the vaccines are being exposed as having had negative efficacy over time. Will there be a settlement for those vaccinated against their will who now are now paying the price? Let us not hold our breath.

Stein’s compassion for human life was his calling card here in Moore, but when unborn life is on the table, literally, he is a fierce proponent of so-called abortion rights. He railed in a Twitter post after the U.S. Supreme Court neutered Roe v. Wade that “women’s reproductive freedoms” remain intact in North Carolina. 

But Stein failed to acknowledge that the Supreme Court’s Roe decision had an immediate consequence when, on August 17, 2022, a U.S. District judge reinstated a previously unenforced 20-week statewide abortion ban, citing the fact that his 2019 halting of the ban no longer was backed by legal foundation. 

We are then left to wonder why Stein forced a nervous grin in Carthage as he walked past a sign displaying this sentiment, “ABORT THE LEFT. ADVOCATE FOR LIFE.” Probably went over his head.


By Steve Woodward

(Sing along with your friends to “Allentown” by Bruce Springsteen)

Well we’re livin’ here in Edgartown
And they’re closing all the B&Bs down

Down in Washington they’re killing time
Undoing norms
Reciting false lines

Well looks like the nasty immigration war
Has now come to the Atlantic’s shores

Met resistance from Barack Hussein O
He and Michelle sim-plee reee-fused to go
And compassion for we folk is sinking quite low

The Obama estate on Martha’s Vineyard, Edgartown, MA.

But they’re livin’ here in Edgartown
Trapped here in a human lost-and-found
Awaiting promises that Biden made
Just walk right on in
Pour in and invade

So we flew on up to Mass, had a ball
But now imprisoned by a Leftist cabal
They’ve never really told us the deal
We’re drinking cold Cokes
It’s getting surreal

Now, Ed-gar-town is drivin’ us out
‘Cause their immigration love is in doubt
They just want us back — a way down south
And sure like to talk … both sides of their mouth

Nope, we’re not livin’ here in Edgartown
Why’d the locals greeted us all with a frown?
Bussed us over to a naval base
Now we just wait, unsure of our fate

Oh no more livin’ high in Edgartown
Will we be free or left adrift, sentenced … to … drown?

Libby’s war

By Steve Woodward

A newspaper in cosmopolitan Charlotte, the Observer, sent a woke snowflake to Moore County to find out why so many of our natives are restless about public education.

Libby Carter, the lame duck vice chair of the Moore County Board of Education, welcomed young Paige Masten’s inquiries, as did school board candidate Rollie Sampson. No other member of the board or candidates were quoted. Paige Masten is a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, class of 2021, yet, somehow, she is a member of the Observer’s editorial board. Thus, we know that the author is a freshly minted Marxist. Her pronouns surely run the length of her arm.

Three board members elected in 2020 are summarily dismissed by the Marxist as right-wingers. She readily accepts Carter’s characterization as a self-proclaimed a middle-of-the-roader. The piece fails to reference the reforms championed by this 2020 trio – David Hensley, Philip Holmes and Bob Levy – and the many votes resulting in 7-0 and 6-1 outcomes.

The many changes these newcomers to the board have delivered are a result of the expanded public awareness they have ignited. Yet, it is this very awakening that sent the Observer’s Masten to Moore County. Whoever promoted the angle she pursued seems to have convinced her that parents and fellow taxpayers in Moore are on the brink of “pitchforks and torches” hysteria, and that defenders of the education status quo such as Carter will not be spared their wrath.

Any hysteria in our midst is not on the side of reformers, as anyone in the county well knows who has paid attention or attended school board meetings and pre-meeting rallies. Readers of the Observer have been told just the opposite. The headline warns of a “fiery” race for school board seats in November, as if these races should be polite affairs devoid of rancor. That ship sailed at least a decade ago when “wokeness” began to infect public education like a cancer, compromising student proficiencies in reading and math.

Administrators such as recently retired Moore Superintendent Robert Grimesey refocused priorities toward “social, emotional learning”, equity and gender fluidity. Grimesey is gone but his legacy burns passionately in the hearts of board members Carter, chair Pam Thompson, Stacey Caldwell and Ed Dennison, and new superintendent Tim Locklair. 

Candidates Sampson and Robin Calcutt have been part of educational decline in their various roles. Former teacher and principal Calcutt was Moore School’s director of academic planning and accountability under Grimesey even as grade-level reading and math scores were entering a freefall. Sampson was a military liaison to Moore schools who publicly affirmed that she would encourage school pronoun fluidity as a board member because to deny them would spark suicidal tendencies in students.

Candidates Sampson (L) and Calcutt exude optimism
and radiance during an August 2022 school board meeting.

They know they can’t run on checkered records and woke platforms, so the narrative has shifted to fear and loathing, and the Observer absorbed it with spongelike enthusiasm. 

Let us go back to 2021 when Carter and her allies created the fear narrative. They concocted a tale in which a crazed woman recorded a voice message on a central administrative office phone line. Thereafter, the public was informed of a credible threat to the safety of board members during periodic meetings. This led to months of citizens standing in lines to pass through a metal detector and gave Carter cover when she refused to move the board meetings to larger venues. The logic was rooted in this: a larger meeting space will merely attract more angry parents and enraged fellow citizens. 

Thus, by simply turning against those voicing opposition to school closures, useless virtual learning, ineffective masking, and the resulting learning gaps that only compounded already pathetic reading and math performances, Carter weaponized the virus and demonized those she was elected to serve. 

Now here we are just more than two months from the November election in which three board seats are contested. Carter is not seeking re-election, she told The Observer, because “negative attacks, threats on my family, threats on my home, (and) lies that have been told about me by some members of the far right are just impossible to live with.”

To date, there has been no evidence presented by Carter to support said threats. The State Bureau of Investigation never tracked down the person who recorded the allegedly threatening voicemail, and subsequently suspended further investigation.

Sampson says she, too, is afraid for personal safety as a candidate. Her many adversaries say they are “at war with us, and they’re not joking.”

Political battles often are cast as wars between ideological opposites. To the extent that there is a war in Moore County, it is an intellectual war that the Left and the woke know they can’t win. They can deny data and outcomes, but informed voters will see through these denials. They can claim that criticism is the same as the threat of a physical attack while doing nothing to try to diminish problems that stir the hearts of critics.

The Observer zeroed in on school board candidate Ken Benway, who vocalized what is at stake in November this way: “Whoever wins gets our kids.”

He is right, of course. If Sampson and Calcutt, a registered Republican who is known as “likeable”, win they will fall into lockstep with the woke education agenda entrenched in school districts nationwide. Along with incumbent Thompson, who is running against conservative Christian Shannon Davis, this trio would continue to veil “SEL” as elements of classical learning, support teaching that the founding of American was immoral and irredeemable, mask the root cause of declining grade-level reading and math scores, and demand that children be masked the next time Democrats need a public health crisis to win an election.

If this isn’t a line in the sand, what is? But by demanding transparency and reform, the Observer warns that Hensley, Holmes and Levy (and the three candidates they back, Benway, Pauline Bruno and Davis) will go right on unfairly maligning “good teachers” and running off “good leaders”. Worse, they will continue to remove “vulgar” books from libraries, support equal discipline of students despite their race, and demand teachers be hired on qualifications rather than skin color.

Against the backdrop of the Left’s naked agenda to pursue indoctrination of students, real world examples emerge proving that their opponents are not merely consumed by their rhetoric. In other words, Moore residents are not the stooges the Observer claims we are.

“The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty paper reports almost 2,000 students graduate yearly from Wisconsin’s teacher-training programs,” writes Daniel Buck, an eighth-grade teacher in Milwaukee who holds a master’s degree in education from the far-left University of Wisconsin (The Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2022). “The Teachers College at Columbia University has more than 90,000 alumni. These institutions are producing a teaching workforce imbued with a radical ideology but lacking instructional skills (emphasis added). Their influence over thought, policy, instructional practice, and curricula is far-reaching.”

How can teachers continue to be coddled as underpaid and underappreciated when they are driving the academic bus over the cliff? The answer is: a continuing mass exodus from public schools. 

A new poll from Education Next, an education policy publication, found that enrollment in public schools has dropped by four percent over the last two years, reported on August 16, 2022. That equates to nearly two million students who stopped attending public schools between 2020 and 2021.

Data of this certitude apparently has not entered the orbit of editors and reporters at The Observer, which merely is the The Pilot but with slightly better writing and larger circulation. Snowflake Masten laid bare her motivation for visiting Moore and unraveling what she sees as our alarming dysfunction. In doing so she inadvertently arrived at the truth.

“Therein lies the problem: it is no longer about education, at least not anymore,” Masten writes. “It is about control. This isn’t merely a disagreement about funding or policy, but a fundamental dispute over what — and who — our society should look like.”

Call it a dispute or frame it as a war. It’s one we can’t lose. As the Left likes to say, let’s do it for the kids.

Steve Woodward is editor of Moore Liberty Digest, the indispensable, independent newsletter informing conservative Republicans and exposing the hypocrisy of Libby Carter, Frank Quis, John Strickland and Matt Garner.

Spare change

By Steve Woodward

Remember “hope and change”? Seems today we are without much of the former and afflicted by too much of the latter. That’s what happens when China’s Wuhan lab swindles an election that results in Barack Obama’s third term.

Mostly we hear about only one kind of change: climate change. There is this growing faction worried about the weather (when they’re not perplexed about new Wuhan virus variants and monkeypox).

Upon reflection, I find change to be, at best, tedious, and at worst, dispiriting. One recent morning a Rivian electric “pickup truck” passed by me as I walked my dog. Definitely not a truck. A vehicle Pete Buttigieg would drive. This had me thinking about what has changed in my lifetime. From the respected and talented, to the absurd and abhorrent.


Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

Any Jeep / Rivian R1T.

Cadillac Coupe de Ville / Tesla S Coupe.

Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost / Smart car


John Wayne / Alec Baldwin.

Sammy Davis Jr. / Will Smith.

Johnny Carson / Stephen Colbert.

Johnny Carson

Frank Sinatra / Justin Beiber.


Vin Scully / Keith Olbermann.

David Brinkley / Chuck Todd.

Walter Cronkite / Norah O’Donnell.

Howard Cosell / Stephen A. Smith


Johnny Unitas / Deshaun Watson.

Bill Russell / LeBron James.

Nancy Lieberman / Brittney Griner.

Pele (man) / Megan Rapinoe (?)

Along with …

Sam Walton (WalMart) / Jeff Bezos (Amazon).

Jack Walsh (GE) / Doug “Woke” McMillon (WalMart).

Marcus Welby / Anthony Fauci. (TV “doctors”)

John F. Kennedy / Joseph R. Biden.

Pride in country to pride in everything but.

Buddy, can you spare a time machine?