DEC. 1 - 7, 2022 TRIAD-CITY-BEAT.COM December TCB Bites Inside! p. 9 How the Greensboro Police Department spent thousands to surveil residents by Sayaka Matsuoka | pg. 4 Closing the chapter on book challenge pg. 7 Take Back Our Schools shuts down pg. 13 WATCHFUL EYES My Brother’s Cookies pg. 15
’m making a goodfaith effort to watch the World Cup this year. But the world’s biggest sporting event is something of a shitshow this go-round.
It’s being held for the first time in the Middle East, Qatar, a tiny author itarian monarchy that borders on Saudi Arabia, smaller than the state of Connecticut.
It’s illegal to be gay in Qatar, illegal to have sex before marriage — they prosecute rape victims there. And while it is legal to drink, in private, it is illegal to be drunk, which is a huge prob lem at the World Cup, even after the monar chy decided against selling alcohol in the stadiums just as the tournament was starting. It was masterful bait and switch by Qatar, and one of the reasons the former FIFA head who made the decision to hold the cup there later called it “a bad choice.”
Oh, and about 6,500 migrant work ers died since 2015 while construct ing the stadiums for the World Cup. Something interesting about Qatar: There are nearly 2.7 million residents, but only 300,000 or so citizens. The rest are migrant workers, sometimes called “expatriates” or “the labor force” because, though their bosses can confiscate workers’ passports and withhold pay, it is not, technically, slavery. But yes, they still have labor camps in Qatar. And they still flog people as an official means of pun ishment, like with a whip, in public.
But Qatar looks like Key West compared to China, where 1.4 billion residents have been living under a “zero COVID” policy since 2020, with mandatory masking and testing, frequent lockdowns and government
Iquarantine centers. Outside the cities, drones fly around reminding people to wear masks and stay home. Its borders are closed to tourism.
The Chinese government, which controls all communications chan nels, televises the World Cup games on a 30-second delay so their people won’t see the maskless, celebratory throngs at the matches in Qatar. But footage that managed to seep through the government net — largely through social media — has shown the Chinese how the rest of the world has been living for the last couple years. And they’re starting to get pissed off about it.
On Tuesday, the US Men’s National Team defeated the squad from Iran 1-0. Before the game, outside the stadium, Iranian fans staged a small civil war of clashes between pro-government and protest groups while civil unrest simmers in Iranian cities, largely over women’s rights. In their opening game against England, the team did not sing their own national anthem in solidarity with the protesters back home. After their families were threatened with imprisonment, they gave a half-heart ed effort before the US game.
On the bandwagon, the US Soccer Federation tweeted a version of the Iranian flag stripped of its Muslim words and imagery; in return Iranian soccer officials demanded that the US be thrown out of the tournament.
It was an Iranian reporter who pointed out on Monday that the United States can be counted among World Cup teams with human rights abuses. In a presser, he asked US Team Captain Tyler Adams, “Are you okay to be representing a country that has so much discrimination against Black people in its own bor ders?”
Adams, who is Black, had little to say in response.
2 UP FRONT | DEC. 17, 2022
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by Brian Clarey
The world’s biggest
event is something of a shitshow this go-round. The World Cup and the light of
by MICHAELA RATLIFF
THURSDAY Dec. 1
Disney On Ice presents Frozen & Encanto @ Greensboro Coliseum (GSO) 7 p.m.
Twin City Santa’s Toy Drive & Semi-Formal @ Millennium Center (W-S) 8 p.m.
Get the full events calendar by signing up for the Weekender, straight to your inbox every Thursday.
SUNDAY Dec. 4
Made 4 the Holidays @ Greensboro Farmers Curb Market (GSO) 11 a.m.
Join the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market for a holiday shopping experience with more than 70 Piedmont artists selling jewelry, body care prod ucts and more. Take a break from shopping and visit Bull City Ciderworks, Homeland Ice Cream and other food and drink vendors. Visit gsofarm ersmarket.org for more information.
The magical adventures of Disney’s Frozen and Encanto will be brought to life during Disney On Ice! Join hosts Mickey and Minnie Mouse for this family-friendly event as Anna goes on an adven ture to find her sister Elsa, and Mirabel fights to save the Madrigal family home. Purchase tickets at disneyonice.com/tickets
The Soul of Christmas @ Paul Robeson Theatre (GSO) 7:30 p.m.
Twin City Santa is hosting its 19th Annual Toy Drive & Semi-Formal benefitting children in For syth County. Complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and light hors d’oeuvres will be provided while cocktails will be available for purchase. Purchase tickets at twincitysanta.org
SATURDAY Dec. 3
Uptowne High Point Holiday Stroll @ Main Street (HP) 10 a.m.
Historic West End Holiday Homes Tour @ Joymongers Barrel Hall (W-S) 1 p.m.
The West End Association Holiday Homes Tour features nine preserved historical homes and buildings with architectural styles original to Winston-Salem and date as far back as the 1800s. Purchase advance tickets at historicwestend. org/2022-homes-tour or pick them up the day of at Joymongers starting at 12 p.m.
Open the Door for Free @ Footnote Coffee & Cocktails (W-S) 2 p.m.
Fiddle & Bow Society in partnership with Footnote is proud to announce a performance by Open the Door for Free. The trio, made of Liz Knowles on the fiddle, Kieran O’Hare on the uilleann piper and Pat Broaders on the bouzouki, combines centu ries-old songs with music they grew up enjoying. Visit Eventbrite to purchase tickets.
TUESDAY Dec. 6
The Theatre Arts Program at North Carolina A&T presents The Soul of Christmas, a high-energy holiday musical featuring holiday favorites such as Handel’s “Messiah,” “O Holy Night,” “This Christ mas” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” For tickets, call 336.334.7749 or visit ncataggies.com
FRIDAY Dec. 2
Painting with Santa @ Distractions (HP) 7 p.m.
Join Distractions for painting with Santa Cliff. Choose the pottery piece you’d like to paint before taking pictures with Santa in front of the Christ mas tree. Purchase tickets at distractionsartstu dio.com
The 13th Annual Uptowne High Point Holiday Stroll includes holiday open houses at historic homes and retail shops, children’s activities, car riage rides and more. If you purchased a Holiday Stroll stocking, bring it with you to be filled with free stocking stuffers from participating mer chants. Find more information at uptownehigh point.org
Collector’s Choice @ GreenHill Center for NC Art (GSO) 7 p.m.
GreenHill’s Collector’s Choice is back after a twoyear hiatus. View the Winter Show featuring art from more than 60 North Carolina artists and get first dibs on art to purchase before the exhibit’s public opening. All proceeds support the GreenHill Center for NC Art. Visit greenhillnc.org/collec tors-choice-2022 for more details.
(W-S) 7:30 p.m.
Join the Piedmont Pops and special guest singer Christal Rheams as they perform holiday and jazz favorites. Matt Niess of the Capitol Bones will be the guest arranger and soloist during the performance. Purchase tickets at theramkat.com/ events
3 UP FRONT | DEC.17, 2022
Piedmont Pops: Christal Rheams and Matt Niess with the Piedmont Wind Symphony @ The Ramkat
Public records request shows Greensboro Police Department used mobile tracking surveillance tech
by Sayaka Matsuoka
According to public records requests obtained by Triad City Beat, the Greensboro Police Department spent a total of $18,000 on a surveil lance tool in 2020 and 2021 that an investigation by the Associated Press called “mass surveillance on a budget.”
On Sept. 2, the AP reported how law enforcement departments across the country have used technology called Fog Reveal to “search hundreds of billions of records from 250 million mobile devices, and harnessed the data to create location analyses known as ‘patterns of life.’”
In addition to agencies in California and Arkansas, Greensboro’s own police department was named in the lengthy investigative piece as one of the entities to have contracted with Fog Data Science LLC out of Virginia. After the story was published, TCB filed a public records request asking for the following: How long the department contracted with Fog Reveal; When the contract started; How much the contract cost; How much data was collected; How many users’ data did the pro gram capture; How and for how long the data would be stored by the department.
On Nov. 2 — almost two months after TCB submitted the records requests — Ron Glenn, the city’s public information officer, responded with just two docu ments: two separate invoices that showed that the police department paid $9,000 in both 2020 and 2021 for one-year subscriptions to use Fog Reveal. The invoices noted that the subscriptions allowed access to 350 queries per month. Calculated over the course of two years, that’s 8,400 queries. The city did not answer TCB’s additional questions, stating that “the additional information sought by the request er in this PIRT is not defined as public records.”
While the total amount spent by GPD may not seem substantial, an interview with a former GPD employee shows that Fog Reveal is just a blip on the radar in an increasingly surveillance-oriented law enforcement landscape.
to get more unsettled’
Davin Hall began working at the Greensboro Police Department in December 2014 as a crime analyst. Day to day, his work varied but mostly focused on looking at crime data in the city including burglar ies, robberies, break-ins.
“We would look for identifiable series in those offenses so that information could be shared with police patrol,” Hall told TCB. “For example, if someone was going through a neighborhood and breaking into houses, we would identify that pattern quickly.”
The main way that analysts like Hall would do so was by combing through police reports that came in and looking at the common factors across crimes like geogra phy. The GPD has a public-facing program that allows members of the community to look at similar data online.
Rather than reading every single police report that came in, the department uses third-party vendors that hook up to the records-management system so the data is easily accessible and user-friendly. The software is fairly straightforward and most law enforcement agencies use something similar to track crime. So when the depart ment started looking into Fog Reveal a few years later, Hall didn’t think anything of it at first.
“It didn’t immediately throw a red flag,” they said. “There’s lots of software that we use that it was similar to. But the more I began learning about it, I started to get more unsettled. And then when they started the free trial, I wasn’t comfortable with it; I didn’t ask to use it.”
According to reporting by the AP, Fog Reveal has been used since at least 2018 in criminal investigations from the murder of a nurse in Arkansas to tracing the
4 NEWS | DEC. 17, 2022 NEWS
movements of a potential Jan. 6 participant. Developed by two former high-rank ing Department of Homeland Security officials under former President George W. Bush, the technology uses mobile ID numbers that are unique to every mobile de vice, including cell phones. Apps like Waze, Starbucks and others send targeted ads to users based on their movements and interests and subsequently sell the unique IDs to companies like Fog.
On its face, the unique ID doesn’t have any identifiable information attached to it like a name or even the user’s phone number. But Hall said that for those who know what they’re doing, it’s a relatively simple process to figure out who the person is. And that’s because when police use the data, they can narrow down to see which devices were used near the location of a crime.
How does Fog Reveal work?
While Hall never used the technology when he worked for GPD, he said that the way it worked was simple. An entity that wanted to use Fog Reveal would purchase a user license for it — GPD purchased one and that indicated the number of users. Once the technology was bought, users could log into the application where they would see a map. They could then draw an outline around an area and add a time frame and the applica tion would spit back out all of the mobile device ids within that time frame and lo
cation. Users could then pick a specific mobile ID number and run a greater search on just that one device. According to the AP’s reporting, searches could go back as far as three years for one device.
And that’s the most useful part, Hall said.
“If you had three robberies that occurred, you could search within those loca tions and find a device number and then run a search for that ID number,” Hall explained. “Then, one of the most useful things is that if you saw a device was pinging or was stationary for 8-12 hours overnight, you could see where that person was living and then you could use additional information to identify who that per son was.”
The beauty of the technology, for law enforcement agencies, is to be able to acquire specific data like this without warrants.
The AP explains how the Fog data is different because it’s quick.
“Geofence warrants, which tap into GPS and other sources to track a device, are accessed by obtaining such data from companies, like Google or Apple,” AP reports. “This requires police to obtain a warrant and ask the tech companies for the specific data they want, which can take days or weeks.”
And that’s why this kind of specific data-gathering seemed like a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against illegal search and seizure, to Hall.
“I think it’s just a straight-up privacy violation of the Fourth Amendment,” they said. “Anyone who is in the area that’s being captured can have their device picked up by it and any device can be searched by it without a warrant…. Anybody using the software can run any search with practically no oversight; I think it’s a huge privacy concern.”
Hall resigned in late 2020 after voicing their concerns to police attorneys and to city council.
“The city’s standpoint at the time was that because the mobile ID number did not contain any personally identifiable information, it was fair game as a search,” Hall said. “I think it’s kind of a ridiculous argument because if there wasn’t any personally identifiable information, we wouldn’t want it.”
The city did not respond to requests from TCB about privacy concerns with regards to the use of Fog Reveal.
According to the AP, a Missouri official also attested to the ease with which capa ble analysts could track owners using the data.
“There is no (personal information) linked to the (ad ID),” wrote the Missouri official about Fog in 2019. “But if we are good at what we do, we should be able to figure out the owner.”
How is it legal and why do departments use it?
As reported by the AP, oversight of companies like Fog continues to evolve. On Aug. 29, “the Federal Trade Commission sued a data bro ker called Kochava that, like Fog, provides its clients with advertising IDs that authorities say can easily be used to find where a mobile device user lives, which violates rules the commission enforces,” the AP reported.
There are also bills before Congress now that, if passed, would regulate the industry.
But for now, Fog continues to operate under the argument that they don’t provide personally identifiable information. And law enforcement agencies are more than happy to buy in.
“It’s a shiny new toy and police departments really like those kinds of things,” Hall said. “On its face, it can be pitched as a crime-fighting tool.
“Police departments will do as much as they can get away with in terms of con stitutional rights,” Hall continued. “If things are not expressly forbidden, they are okay with moving forward with it. They wouldn’t have any qualms about using it.”
While GPD no longer uses Fog Reveal, Hall said that in areas where the technol ogy is still being used, it could pose a threat to protesters or to abortion rights.
5 NEWS | DEC. 17, 2022 NEWS
Davin Hall worked as a crime analyst for law enforcement agencies for years until he quit in 2020. Now he sheds light on the industry on his blog.
“It could be used on protesters,” Hall said. “They could geofence when there’s a protest going on downtown and identify people who are marching against police. It could also be used to track abortion patients or anything that could be illegal. It’s a great example of how it could be used in a purely legal way to create harm in any community; that doesn’t help public safety.”
Despite there being no increase in violent crime over the last few years, many poli ticians have touted the idea of a crime wave to increase funding for law enforcement agencies. That includes more funding for surveillance technology.
In recent months, the Greensboro Police Department has announced the instal lation of license plate readers to help reduce crime. According to reporting by the News & Record, 10 readers have been installed in Greensboro, which has cost the city $27,500. In at least two instances, the technology has helped find vehicles and charge drivers with possession of stolen property and delinquency of a minor. In Winston-Salem, the police department is considering a pilot program with Flock Safety, the same company that Greensboro is using, for 24 cameras, according to the Winston-Salem Journal
Earlier this year, the WInston-Salem Police Department got a $700,000 upgrade to their real-time crime center, too.
But those wary about increased surveillance, like Hall, say that more technology like this is intrusive.
“I would say that it’s enhancing the system of policing that in and of itself is not an effective way to increase public safety,” they said. “I think it’s focused on maintaining the social order as it exists. When you have an inequitable society as we do, maintain ing those inequities is harmful. That is a big feature of what police actions do.”
6 NEWS | DEC. 17, 2022 NEWS
For tickets please visit www.triadstage.org December 8-18, 2022
Holiday music and showtunes at
It’s a great example of how it could be used in a purely legal way to create harm in any community; that doesn’t help public safety. “
Guilford County School Board votes to keep challenged book, SalvagetheBones, in school
by Sayaka Matsuoka
The Guilford County School Board voted to keep a challenged book as part of a school’s curriculum on Tuesday afternoon, thus closing the chapter on a saga that began more than six months ago.
The board held a special meeting to hear a challenge to Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward. The book had been assigned by English teacher Holly Weaver to be taught in her AP English class at Northern High School earlier this year. After assigning the book, two parents — Kimberly Magnussen and Elena Wachendorfer — brought a formal complaint to the school, initiating a challenge process. In May, when the book was first challenged, Northern High School’s media and technology advisory committee voted 11-1 to retain the book as part of the school’s curriculum after hearing prepared statements from Magnussen and Wachendorfer.
As part of the formal complaint process for challenging books, Magnussen and Wachendorfer then appealed the committee’s decision to the district level, and then finally to the school board on Tuesday.
The parents objected to the book because of descriptions of sex between the book’s main character, 15-year-old Esch, and 19-year-old Manny. Like during May’s meeting, they called the descriptions “pornographic,” “graphic” and “inap propriate.”
Despite the parents’ appeal, the school board voted 6-2 in favor of retaining Salvage the Bones as part of Northern Guilford High School’s AP English curriculum. The two members who voted to remove the book were Republican board members Linda Welborn (District 4) and Pat Tillman (District 3). District 2 representative Anita Sharpe was absent from the meeting.
Prior to voting, Tillman made a substitute motion to keep the book in the cur riculum but to add parental consent prior to assignment, but the motion failed. A similar process already existed for this book when the teacher, Holly Weaver, put a content warning statement in the educational portal that is accessible to both stu dents and parents. Weaver also gave the option for students to read a different book entirely or to read Salvage the Bones but to skip the graphic parts.
During the almost two-hour meeting, school board members heard from both parents as well as Natalie Strange, the district’s director of library media services who argued to keep the book.
In the end, most of the board members stated that the book, despite its graphic depictions of sex, had educational merit and was appropriate for 17- and 18-yearolds in a college-level course.
In an emotional moment, District 5 Board Member Deborah Napper said that reading the book was difficult, but that by the end of it, she wanted to help Esch.
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“That’s the value of literature,” she said. “When it changes your entire thought process.”
T. Dianne Bellamy-Small of District 5 said that as a Black woman who grew up during Jim Crow, having a diverse curriculum of books is important.
“When I went to school, schools were segregated,” Bellamy Small said. “All the books that I had to deal with were books about white people. I didn’t learn about the struggles of Black people except for slavery.”
Welborn, who voted to remove the book, said that she was concerned with a changing set of standards for the school district when it comes to sexual descrip tions in books.
“The level of what is acceptable is shifting,” she said. “A lot of parents aren’t on that page to shift.... At what point are we crossing the line?”
Welborn repeatedly gave the example of Fifty Shades of Grey, asking the board if that would be an acceptable book to read in schools. To that, District Attorney Jill Wilson and legal counsel Elizabeth Troutman said that the district already has guid erails in place that would prevent inappropriate texts from being assigned.
Bellamy-Small also argued that a difficult book like Salvage the Bones has the ability to broaden students’ mindsets and to encourage thoughtful conversation, something that often only happens in schools.
“We can’t box our kids in from learning,” she said.
District staff told TCB that the book cannot be challenged for another two years.
Holly Weaver, who moved and no longer works for Guilford County Schools but watched the meeting online, sent TCB a statement about the decision by the school board.
“Today was a win for democracy,” Weaver said. “The board’s decision to retain Salvage the Bones is a testament that Guilford County Schools stands by their core val ues: diversity, empathy, equity, innovation and integrity. Surrounding school districts should be inspired by the way GCS is protecting our democracy by protecting the freedom to read.”
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That’s the value of literature, when it changes your entire thought process.
Former Nothern High School teacher Holly Weaver at the hearing in May.
PHOTO BY SAYAKA MATSUOKA
Special Advertising Section DECEMBER 2022 FOOD + DRINK GUIDE A Winter’s Feast at Spring House 12 Days of Christmas Menu + New Year’s Eve Feast
Spend the holidays with Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar
hef Tim Grandinetti is one of those guys who loves Christmas: the tree, the gifts, the lights and, naturally, the food. This time of year, it takes over his whole personality.
“For me, spending uber-quality time with my family and friends, enjoying the Holiday Season is absolutely the best!” he says. “I encourage you to be intentional regarding celebrating the holidays this year with those you love.”
his year, he and the Spring House family have transformed the old 1920s downtown residence into a spectacular celebration of the season that will take us into 2023.
First up is the 12 Days of Christmas, a different prix fixe three-course dinner over a dozen nights between Dec. 3-23 — no dinner service on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.
The lineup is superb, and also evocative of those dishes we love at this time of year: seafood fettucine, filet mignon, lobster tails, even Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie, with a smoked Gouda-potato crust. For dessert, the chocolate lava cake is unforgettable.
The 12 Days of Christmas Menu
Includes: Champagne Toast Spring HOUSE Salad Chocolate Lava Cake
Seafood Fettuccine w. Lobster, Shrimp & Scallops Parmesan Cream Sauce
Filet Mignon w. Blue Cheese Crust Mushroom Ragout & Whipped Garlic Potatoes
Champagne Chicken & Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Candied Sweet Potatoes
Twin Lobster Tails w. Lemon Garlic Butter Low Country-inspired Red Rice
that’s an evening of entertainment unto itself.
range from the timeless
Prime Ribs of Beef Loaded Baked Potato
cocktail with Texas Pete Voodoo
to porkbelly grits and corn-crab beignets. Entrées include prime rib, roasted salmon, Gorgonzolacrusted filet mignon and more. There are vegetarian and vegan options aplenty for every course. Desserts like the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake round out the evening before the clock strikes midnight.
Pan Roasted Salmon Fillet & Shrimp Risotto Lemon Hollandaise Foam
Filet Mignon w. Blue Cheese Crust Mushroom Ragout & Whipped Garlic Potatoes
Seafood Fettuccine w. Lobster, Shrimp & Scallops Parmesan Cream Sauce
Prime Ribs of Beef Loaded Baked Potato
Grandmother’s Chicken Pot Pie w. Smoked Gouda Potato Crust
Champagne Chicken & Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Candied Sweet Potatoes
Pan Roasted Salmon Fillet & Shrimp Risotto Lemon Hollandaise Foam
New Year’s Eve 5-Course CHEF’S CELEBRATION DINNER Hickory Smoked Chicken, Spinach & Mushroom Crepe Parmesan Cream Shrimp, Sweet Corn & Crab Beignets Red Beet & Horseradish Remoulade Pork Belly & Grits | Smoked Tomato & Pimento Cheese Grits Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail | Texas Pete Voodoo Sauce VEGAN/VEGETARIAN: Spicy Shanghai Eggplant Mapo Tofu Lobster Sherry Bisque Italian Wedding Soup VEGAN/VEGETARIAN: Quinoa Chili w. Black Beans & Vegetables SPRING HOUSE Salad Little Gem Caesar Salad King Cut of Slow Cooked Prime Rib Char Grilled Filet Mignon w. Gorgonzola Crust Chicken Cutlet & Jumbo Shrimp Pan Roasted Salmon Fillet & Crab Cab VEGAN/VEGETARIAN: Char Grilled Cauliflower “Steak” Chocolate Decadence Cake Ooey Gooey Butter Cake VEGAN/VEGETARIAN: Stuffed Raspberry “Funfetti” French Toast w. Maple Apple “Butter” C T hen, to continue the holiday
Make your reservations now to celebrate the holidays with the Spring House family.
House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar has more culinary
planned for 2023,
new menu. More on that next month.
pulls out all the stops
celebratory five-course tasting menu
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar 450 N. Spring St. (W S) 336.293.4797 (reservations recommended) $$-$$$
6th and Vine Wine Bar & Restaurant
209 W. 6th St. (W S) 336.725-5577 6thandvine.com (reservations suggested) $$
and Vine Restaurant and Wine Bar is located in the heart of WinstonSalem’s Art District. Known for its couch-filled cocktail area and huge back patio, they now offer an eclectic list of wines by the glass. Now, 6th and Vine boasts one of Winston’s top Chefs, Niki Farrington. Niki is serving farm fresh ingredients in dazzling features. Try her famous Niki’s pimento cheese and pickles with pork belly on a homemade flatbread. Features include seared scallops and the Whiskey Peach Pork Chop. Come prepared to enjoy craft cocktails, a curated but casual wine list and innovative, farm-fresh food. Always known for our wines, now 6th and Vine is a destination for food!
That Place in the West End
West End Poke is now That Place in the West End. Yes, they still have poke!
Longtime Winston-Salem restaurateur Dave Hillman opened West End Poke in 2020, just as the pandemic was descending upon us and changing the restaurant business forever. Now, as things are opening up, he’s tapped longtime collaborator Chef Brian Duffy — perhaps best known for his appearances on the TV show “Bar Rescue” — to create a menu of old favorites and new flavors. The slow-cooked roast beef sandwiches recall Uncle Buzzy’s, Hillman and Duffy’s second collaboration: the Tree Way, with Cooper Shapr American Cheese and BBQ sauce; the Deacon’s Deluxe with pimiento cheese and country gravy on an onion roll; and Buzzy’s Beef, with horseradish whipped cream and provolone. The extensive menu includes an array of smashburgers, hot dog variations, subs including an Italian beef and Philly cheesesteak, fried-chicken sandwiches, wings and even Gyoza. And yes! They still make six kinds of poke bowls!
Online ordering is underway now at the website, and the dining room is officially open!
That Place in the West End 750 Summit St. W S 336.842.3712 thatplaceinwe.com $-$$
Conservative Guilford County school group, Take Back Our Schools, is shutting down
by Sayaka Matsuoka
ccording to a Facebook post that was published on Monday morn ing, the conservative group known as Take Back Our Schools, is shutting down.
While the post does not indicate an author, the official Take Back Our Schools - GCS Facebook page published a long message on Monday indicat ing that the group was shutting down and that their “fight is over.”
As Triad City Beat has reported in the past, Take Back Our Schools has been operating in Guilford County since at least 2019 and has rallied around conserva tive issues such as anti-masking, book bannings and anti-vaccine mandates. Leading up to the November election, the group allegedly illegally endorsed and funded Republican school board candidates, two of whom won seats on the board.
Most recently TCB reported on the discrepancy between Take Back Our Schools’ nonprofit filing status and their actions during the election. According to their state filing, the organization was registered as a 501c(3) organization which is barred from engaging in political campaigns or raising money — both things that Take Back Our Schools has done. Instead, Gene Parker, the organization’s incorporator, asserted that he had incorrectly filed Take Back Our Schools as a 501c(3) and had intended to file as a 501c(4).
Given the discrepancies, Guilford County School board chair and vice-chair Deena Hayes and Winston McGregor, both Democrats, filed complaints against the organization to multiple entities including the State Board of Elections. However, it is unclear whether any action has been taken against Take Back Our Schools to date.
TCB reached out to Gene Parker for a comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
The group’s Facebook post does not give an explanation either, vague enough in its messaging that a supporter asked outright in the comments if the group was shutting down. In response, the account responds that “yes, it is” because they “were not able to find anyone to take it over.”
The post itself thanks its supporters while leveraging a warning for those who pushed against the group.
“To those who continue to play the game and want to hide in the shadows we see you and more importantly your constituents know who you are and we hope will continue to call you out and hold your feet to the fire,” the post states. “More importantly God knows who you are. The truth always comes out and we can only pray justice will be served.”
Over the last year when criticisms have been launched against the group, leaders of Take Back Our Schools have claimed that they are just a tiny, grassroots orga nization. But reporting by TCB has shown that the group was anything but. Even in their farewell post, the group thanks major organizations like the John Locke Foundation as well as Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.
While the group has stated they are shutting down for now, it is unclear where that leaves many of the group’s followers in the aftermath. In the post, organizers for Take Back Our Schools urge members to pick up where the group left off.
“TakeBack’s fight is over,” the post states. “It is now up to all of you to #fixit.”
13 NEWS | DEC. 17, 2022 NEWS
EDITORIAL Jen Sorensen jensorensen.com
Do NC Republicans want to overturn elections?
Next Wednesday, Dec. 7, the US Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in Moore v. Henderson, a case brought about by NC House Speaker Tom Moore in a continu ing effort by GOP leadership to illegally gerrymander the state to their advantage.
Let’s recap, shall we?
All of this goes back to 2013, when SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a 5-4 deci sion. The provision they struck from the law was the piece that required several states — Southern, to a one — to get federal approval for any changes to state election laws. The provision was there because every state on that list had passed laws disenfranchising Black voters.
Would you be surprised to learn that NC was one of them?
process, including redistricting, early voting, election audits and even official election results. All of this is predicated on an obscure clause in the US Constitution that says, in full, “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing [sic] Senators.”
The “independent state legisla ture theory” posits that, particularly after the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, states alone have the right to conduct every aspect of their elections, even in determining the winners despite what voters have indicated.
The assertion behind Moore is that the federal government never had the jurisdiction to review our state’s election laws, policies or districts in the first place.
Pretty much as soon as that de cision came down, former NC Gov. Pat McCrory signed an omnibus elections bill that included voter ID and the elimination of so many Black voting precincts that an appeals court judge later wrote, “[T] he new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assert edly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist.”
The assertion behind Moore is that the federal government never had the jurisdiction to review our state’s election laws, policies or districts in the first place. It posits that state legislatures and state courts have ultimate authority over every aspect of that state’s election
The News & Ob server has a wonder ful explainer if you want to learn more.
NC Republicans are not saying much about this upcoming de cision, but their mouthpieces in the right-wing media insist that they would never use their power to overturn an election. Lauren Horsch, a spokesperson for NC Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, told the N&O: “The ‘inde pendent state legislature theory’ is a misnomer to scare voters into donating to these extreme partisan causes.”
Which is all well and good, ex cept we don’t believe them.
It’s a pretty safe bet that the Supremes will give NC Republi cans what they want. We’ll reserve judgment on their pretense of good faith when we see what they do with it.
14 OPINION | DEC.17, 2022
Courtesy of NC Policy Watch
Jamestown’s Rontez Vaughan memorializes late sibling with My
by Michaela Ratliff
hat started as a one-time request skyrocketed into a full-blown business.
Around Christmas 2019, Rontez Vaughan was still grieving the loss of his younger brother Trenez Valentine, who was killed in August 2018. Depressed, distant and uninter ested in everything, Vaughan thought to himself, What am I going to do, because working full-time is not fulfilling right now?
Suddenly, his daughter Avariella, called “Ella” for short, entered the room asking to bake cook ies. He obliged, as an hour in the kitchen with his daughter was better than miserably staring at the wall.
Vaughan did a Google search for the best chocolate-chip cookie recipe, choosing one that looked simple and delicious. With everything ex cept chocolate chips already on hand, Vaughan improvised by grating chocolate bars, the shavings replacing chocolate chips. Spending time with his daughter was just what he needed at that moment.
“This was the first time a sense of happiness came over me since my
brother passed,” he says.
Ella’s dance of approval after tasting the cookies pushed Vaughan to start My Brother’s Cookies.
“I always heard ‘You’re your brother’s keeper’ growing up, so that was one of the first things that came to mind,” he says.
He continues, “My brother’s keeper became My Brother’s Cookies.”
Vaughan and Valentine were as thick as thieves. Growing up, Valentine taste-tested anything Vaughan created in the kitchen. As adults, they enjoyed attending World Wrestling Entertainment events at the Greensboro Col iseum. A graphic of Vaughan’s last image of Valentine at the coliseum would become the logo for My Brother’s Cookies. In the photo, a smiling Valentine appeared happy and at peace, which shocked Vaughan as he took the photo on a whim.
“I wasn’t even taking a picture of him. I just held my phone in front of me and took a picture, and I didn’t even look at the picture I took until after he passed,” he says.
15 CULTURE | DEC.17, 2022 CULTURE
This was the first time a sense of happiness came over me since my brother passed. W
Vaughan makes more than aRontaRontez Vaughan started My Brother’s Cookies after helping his daughter, Ella, make cookies.
In February 2020, Vaughan put the logo on hats and T-shirts and sold them to raise money for baking supplies. That same year, he officially opened My Brother’s Cookies on May 7, Valentine’s birthday. The first time he sold his cookies to the public was when the Black Lives Matter street mural was painted in June.
In addition to his late brother, Vaughan draws inspiration from people, places and experiences in his life for his cookies’ flavors. Ella Bella Choc olate Chip was named after Ella, as she was there at the start of the busi ness. The chocolate shavings look like her freckles, Vaughan explains.
Zia’s Sparkly Sprinkles Sugar is the namesake of Vaughan’s middle child, Zia, his “sweetest child” who loves everything sparkly. Aunt Janet’s Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip pays homage to Vaughan’s late great-aunt, who introduced him to cooking and made the best oatmeal he’s ever had.
“Aunt Janet is the love and affection that’s inside of me,” he says.
While he offers more than a dozen cookie flavors, Vaughan’s favorite is the Hilton, its name inspired by a cookie Vaughan tasted at a DoubleTree hotel as a child. It starts with the same dough as the chocolate chip but is married with pecans, walnuts, toffee, cinnamon and semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate.
Vaughan now sells cookies full-time, switching between baking at home and the City Kitch in Greensboro. To avoid food-safety issues, his children don’t help in the kitchen but assist him in other ways. His son Kortez, 15, oversees placing the cookies in their plastic sleeves and sticking labels on them. Zia, 10, lives in Louisiana with her mom and promotes the business there by word-of-mouth. Ella, 7, helps with counting inventory. She’s also a
“She’s the reason I have the partnership with Deep Roots Market just because of a conversation her little 7-year-old self had with someone on the playground at LeBauer Park,” Vaughan says.
My Brother’s Cookies is quickly expanding, serving the Triad and shipping nationwide. Despite this, single dad Vaughan has no plans for a brick-andmortar any time soon. His home has been taken over by the businesses.
“I just want better for my children and trying to get a bigger home for them. Then I’ll focus on a brick-and-mortar,” he says.
Vaughan believes starting My Brother’s Cookies was his destiny. During a 10th grade home economics class, he exceeded expectations on an assign ment to bake cookies from scratch. He also helped with holiday dinners. Reminiscing on his relationship with his brother, Valentine was the driving force behind several of Vaughan’s endeavors. Before his death, Valentine was already planting seeds of starting a business in Vaughan’s head. He consistently motivated him, being the first to try his dishes and baked goods. Vaughan made his brother happy in life and now, refuses to disap point him in death.
“I’ve just been training for this moment my whole life, and now every thing’s coming together,” he says.
Learn more about My Brother’s Cookies or place an order at mybrotherscookies.com.
My Brother’s Cookies are available in-store at Savor the Moment and Deep Roots Market in Greensboro.
16 CULTURE | DEC.17, 2022
Vaughan makes more than a dozen flavors including oatmeal walnut chocolate chip and sugar.
In The Weeds:
by James Douglas
The texts are waiting for me when I wake. As I orient my self to the morning with a cup of coffee and the daily routine of “HAVE YOU POOPED YET?” to the dogs, I scan the various responses to the group text that arrived as I was blessedly asleep.
“Thank you, Jesus!”
We had lost another customer, never to darken our door again. Icarus finally flew too high and the long-suffering bartender who had reached peak doneness finally melted those wings off with the blaz ing intensity of the sun. The door guy passed them a garbage bag full of their Fireball-soaked feathers as they exited, vaguely threatening repercussions before tripping on the curb on their way to the next place.
An 86 list is indispensable at a small bar. It’s usually tucked behind the cus tomer and lists names of customers who have been banned, i.e., “86’d.” It can be long-standing, immutable in its power, a hasty name or description scrawled on the taped-up list above the register. A nickname suffices — hell, there’s a couple of dogs on there that don’t know how to play well with others. Some people on that list have only been to the bar once, choosing immediate chaos on that first visit; others might have come in for years before being anointed as an exile.
I’m lucky to work at a place where the frontline staff can make the call on who can be there at any given time. They, more than any other, should be able to. This isn’t a power-trip or a show of force. We’re past petty excuses of, “That guy ghosted my friend so he’s banned.”
We have a front row seat to the debauched, the cringe-worthy, the dangerous and yes, the oc casional tete that ends with, “Listen dude, I love you but you need to leave right now before her boyfriend hurts you.” There’s a fine line between hilarity and a threat.
“One time, there was this guy who kept asking out [another bartender] to the point where he became a problem,” says Morgan Roland, a bartender who is opening a bar on Trade Street with a ready-made 86 list of local toxicity. “This guy is 6-2 and 300 lbs, and he calls her a bitch after repeated
ly hearing no. The man ends up coming to the Moon after being banned from the first one, showing up drunk. Tries to bring in a beer that he was drinking in his car, so I tried to take it.”
He received a ban after raising a fist to her and garnering the wrath of a couple nearby regulars.
There are others who run the gamut of worthy offenses: creeps who never learned how to handle rejection, abrasives who court drama, drunks who lose any decorum in a public place, fighters and sexual predators.
Confrontations usually get an automat ic ban. Repeat offenses from people who are terrible at drinking catch a ban even tually. We also don’t cater to those who offer random women unknown substanc es, the swaggerers who attempt to bring in actual children, the harassers who don’t get the hint after following a group of women around the bar who are obviously uncomfortable, the dosers, the already hammered, the random arm wrestlers and for good measure, the ones who insist on driving. Threatening the bartender will catch a ban. A big pet peeve of mine are the gross dudes who “bat cleanup,” where they show up stone-cold sober at 1:45 in the morning looking for love. Some of these people don’t even have to show up to be banned.
Even though we’re the fifth largest city in the state, the network of bar tenders is a close one, and chances are if you’ve been banned from our bar, the bar down the street will know you’re on the way there to cause more chaos. We are also well aware of your sketchy close acquaintances.
Most corporate entities come with the credo “The customer is always right.”
Nope. Not here.
At a restaurant, a customer may be right. Wrong meal, wrong temp, I get it. Even at a bar, a bartender can mess up a drink.
But a bar is a fun experience, where everyone should be welcome. It should also be a safe ex perience. If someone stands in the way of that, we don’t need you. Bartend ers shouldn’t be scared to work, and customers shouldn’t be scared to drink there. The crew that work each night should be allies, masters of deescala tion and aware of anyone off-kilter. If there’s no ally in sight, even behind the bar, it’s not a bar to drink at.
17 CULTURE | DEC.17, 2022
Most corporate entities come with the credo ‘The customer is always right.’ Nope. Not here.
BY CAROLYN DE BERRY North Church Street, Greensboro
18 SHOT IN THE TRIAD | DEC.17, 2022
SHOT IN THE TRIAD
November morning at Central Library.
The Triad’s Finest Dining Guide For consideration, email email@example.com
19 PUZZLES | DEC.17, 2022 ’Bird is the Word’ — who knows where it’ll end up. LAST WEEK’S ANSWERS: Across 1. Rubbed out, gangster-style 6. Feasted 9. Laundry issue 14. Island near 11-Down 15. Bit of a beverage 16. “Why am ___?” 17. Tiny solution for cleaning up (like an understaffed moderation team) 19. Original “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” host 20. Lyrical poem 21. Symbol of clumsiness (like announcing, then canceling, an $8/ month verification system) 23. Royal sphere 25. Mine contents 26. EGOT winner Moreno 27. Wood for wine barrels 29. Wanna-___ (imitators) 30. Packers’ org. 33. Official imprint 36. Shipping units? 38. “Gotcha” 39. Use unfair tactics (like suspend ing accounts from just one side of the political spectrum) 42. Paleozoic, et al. 43. “A Death in the Family” Pulitzer winner 44. Centrifuge inserts 45. Place to study © 2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords (firstname.lastname@example.org) © 2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords (email@example.com) CROSSWORD SUDOKU 46. Turn purple, perhaps 47. Shriner’s cap 48. Days long past 50. Fla. NBA team, on a scoreboard 52. Baryshnikov’s former co. 55. Evoking both happy and sad feelings (like a social network that’s provided both joy and frustration) 59. Wonderment sounds 61. Skips 62. U.K. “Love Is All Around” band which lost 40% of its members in 2022 (like a certain website that’s apparently hemorrhaging users) 64. Handles 65. Acting instructor Hagen 66. Background distraction 67. Nail file stuff 68. Spill cleaner 69. Message that can be seen hidden in order in the five longest answers (which might not be seen anymore if its platform implodes) Down 1. Eight, for starters 2. “Lord of the Rings” ringbearer 3. Less in number 4. Summer, in Paris 5. Bench press muscle, briefly 6. Fur-trading tycoon John Jacob 7. Spine feature
8. Fencing sword 9. Marina of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” 10. Taking things badly? 11. Greece/Turkey separator 12. Pleasant feeling, in reggae songs 13. Fledgling’s place 18. Moon of Endor dweller 22. “___ Off the Boat” 24. Really fails 28. Long-armed animal 29. Computer memory unit 31. Dipped, like stocks 32. “___ Make a Deal” 33. Tool building 34. Radial, e.g. 35. Whenever 36. Old Venetian VIP 37. Wowed feeling 38. Island famous for its nightlife 40. Jacket over a shirt, e.g. 41. Mother of Abel 46. Elegantly clad 47. Got off the ground 49. Weasel’s aquatic relative 50. Give credit for 51. Draw upon again 53. Stardust alter ego 54. The ones nearby 55. Femur, for one 56. Mosque figure 57. Done laps in the pool 58. Sidewalk sale pop-up 60. Don’t delete 63. Part of a car rescue
by Matt Jones
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