The Rhinoceros Times
Vol. XXII No. 51
© Copyright 2012 The Rhinoceros Times
Greensboro, North Carolina
Thursday, December 20, 2012
These photos were shown at the Greensboro City Council meeting on “trimmed” the trees. Unfortunately, this is just a small part of the devastation Tuesday of Woodlawn Avenue in Westerwood before and after Duke Energy done by Duke Energy’s recent tree trimming efforts.
City To Duke Energy: Cease And Desist by alex jakubsen Staff Writer
Impassioned residents – livid over Duke Energy’s devastating tree cutting operations in the Westerwood, Sunset Hills and Southside neighborhoods – brought their grievances to the Tuesday, Dec. 18 meeting of the Greensboro City Council in the council chambers at city hall. In response, councilmembers, also highly critical of Duke
Energy, voted unanimously to take legal action against the company to stop the virtual clear cutting by Duke Energy. During speakers from the floor, Drew Perry, a resident of Westerwood, said, “I was at the Westerwood meeting last week, where reasonable objections from members of the community to Duke Power’s seeming policy of clear cutting old growth trees
Secret Private Illegal Meeting by john hammer editor
The Greensboro City Council held an illegal meeting behind locked doors and armed guards at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18 before the legal public meeting at 5:30 p.m. With the old council the public and liberal media were up in arms protesting week after week about speakers from the floor having to wait until the second half of the meeting to speak. This council under Mayor Robbie Perkins held a meeting behind locked doors with armed security guards keeping the public out, and nobody other than The Rhino Times has said a word. The City Council held an illegal closed session on Tuesday before its regularly scheduled meeting and, according to the statements
by City Attorney Mujeeb ShahKhan, the entire City Council can (Continued on page 32)
from the right-of-way or even near the right-of-way of poorly placed power lines was met by executives of Duke Power with a combination of breathtaking
incompetence and breathtaking arrogance.” Marianne Veto, also a resident of Westerwood, said, “You simply don’t come into a city
and drastically cut trees down, leaving an expensive mess that in most cases the homeowner or the city are responsible for.” (Continued on page 27)
Meet The New Board, Same As The Old Board by Scott D. Yost county editor
It’s the absolute height of irony that, after Republicans waited 14 years to wrest control of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners from the spend-happy Democrats, the very first substantive act of the new Republican board was to hand out raises to some of the
county’s highest paid employees. However, that’s what happened. On Thursday, Dec. 13, the board voted 7 to 2 to give raises to five county employees that county staff had already begun paying out illegally last month. The Republicans who voted for the raises were Chairman Linda Shaw, Vice Chairman Bill Bencini and newly elected Commissioner Hank Henning. They joined the Democratic commissioners who you would expect to vote for raises: Carolyn Coleman, Bruce Davis, Kay Cashion and Ray Trapp.
Inside this issue
Jeremiah Smith, aka The Rhino Times IT Department, chats up the bartender at The Rhino Times Schmoozefest at High Point Art, Antique and Design Center on Thursday.
High Point News............ 6 Entertainment Guide...... 9 Uncle Orson Reviews... 10 Puzzles....................11,18 Yost Column................ 13 Scott’s Night Out.......... 14 Rhino Real Estate........ 15 Letters to the Editor..... 23 Editorial Cartoon.......... 34 under the hammer....... 35
The good news is that the Board of Commissioners held the discussion in public and voted on it in public – something the previous board didn’t do. In a Thursday, Oct. 18 closed session, Guilford County staff presented the Board of Commissioners with suggested raises for 15 county department heads – eight of which have salaries controlled by the county manager and seven whose salaries are by law set by the Board of (Continued on page 54)
Rhino Rumors From staff and wire reports
According to the owner’s manual that came with this newspaper, at the Christmas party last week we were supposed to take a photo for an ad to wish all of our (Continued on page 26)
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Remembering The Gifts You Never Got The following story by my father is a Christmas tradition in this newspaper. We have been printing it during the Christmas season for years, and for years Dad tweaked it, changing a word or two or cleaning up a messy sentence, as writers do. Dad died in March 2004, so there’s been no more tweaking, but we think the story stands the test of time as it is, and we hope you agree. by dick hammer dad
It all began with a strange man walking up and down the sidewalk in front of our house on Christmas Eve in 1931. We were right in the midst of the Great Depression, but unlike many families mine had been lucky. The New York bank where my father worked was sound and had only closed for the federally mandated bank holidays. My dad still went to work every day, and while much of the nation suffered, we were ready to have a bountiful Christmas. In the refrigerator, the first one we had ever owned, sat a big turkey ready for the oven. Our old icebox was still out on the porch in case this newfangled refrigerator didn’t really work. The area under the Christmas tree was already piled high with presents for me, my older sister and two younger brothers and we knew there were more to come. My older sister, Mary Lou, who was 10, was the first to notice the man who walked back and forth in front of our house. Or she was the first to decide that it was our house he was stalking, not one of the other three on the block, and that he was going to break in and steal our Christmas presents. Mary Lou eventually convinced my mother that this man was up to no good, and my mother decided that the best thing to do was to take all of us with her when she went to the train station to pick up my dad. Dad was a fairly typical New Jersey commuter. He left every morning on the 6:39 a.m. train and, before the Depression, used to return on the 7:42 p.m. Since the Depression he was the cashier at the bank and got to come home on the 6:27 p.m. train. I don’t know how he felt about leaving work “early,” but all we kids knew was we got to see more of him. My dad loved bridge, and was part of a rolling group of six or seven that played each morning and occasionally on the evening train. They played from the time they got on the Jersey Central to the ferry in Jersey City. Sometimes some of them caught an earlier or later train, hence the six participants. The Great Depression took a lot of jobs, especially on Wall Street, and the bridge group was another victim of the ’29 crash. On this Christmas Eve, with “the strange man” out in front of the house, Mom loaded Mary Lou (10), me (8), Bob (6) and Paul (4) into the car to pick Dad up at the train station. We left the house locked. Dad’s train was on time as usual, and we quickly picked him out among the derby clad commuters. To our delight he had a bag of presents. We all started talking at once telling Dad of the stranger stalking our home. Mom quieted us and Dad heard the story from her. “Well, if he were going to rob us, he has done so by now. Let’s go home,” said Dad. Mom drove us straight home and as we pulled into the garage Dad jumped out and walked quickly to the stranger still walking slowly up and down in front of our home. All of us, including Mom, were already peering out of the curtained windows as Dad walked with the stranger up to our front door. Mom opened the door to let them in. Dad said, “This is my good friend John Smith, who used to be my bridge partner.” He introduced us all to Mr. Smith. Mom and Dad went into the front parlor to talk with Mr. Smith. We kids had already (Continued on page 34)
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
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Thursday, December 20, 2012
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
New Board Not At Each Other’s Throats by Scott D. Yost county editor
It was clear at the Thursday, Dec. 13 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners that – while there isn’t a new sheriff in town – there certainly is a new Board of Commissioners in town. At the meeting, no one raised their voice, made biting personal attacks, spoke out of turn, or even really got off topic – so it was, in other words, completely unlike any Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting in modern history. New Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Linda Shaw had an easy night of it as the county’s four new commissioners tried to make a good first impression, and the five continuing commissioners attempted to feel out the new board’s political and social dynamics as it conducted its business. A light agenda – typically the case for the pre-Christmas meeting – also helped Shaw move quickly and smoothly through the county’s business her first time at gavel. Early in the meeting, Shaw said, “I’ll tell you what; we’re going to have a short meeting” – though that prediction proved to be off the mark. In addition to the lack of theatrics at the first regular meeting of the new board, the meeting was also different in that the board is smaller – nine members rather than 11 –
and there was also, of course, the fact that the new board has a Republican majority for the first time this century. At the meeting, it became clear that the new commissioners have brought some new ideas with them. For instance, at one point in the meeting, when the commissioners were discussing how to spend leftover park bond money from a 2004 bond referendum, new Republican Commissioner Hank Henning asked if using the money to pay off county debt was an option. The idea of using surplus bond money to pay off debt rather than spend it on other projects seemed alien to county staff, and Guilford County Manager Brenda Jones Fox finally stepped in and said that debt repayment with the money was an option “as a last resort.” However, a quick thinking Fox added that not spending the money would likely cost the county some matching funds in state grant money. The county’s parks situation is something the previous board had apparently taken care of. However, Henning had some new ideas on that as well – namely, he said, he wanted the county to take a step back and reexamine the parks situation. Guilford County has always outsourced the maintenance and operation of its parks, however the previous board voted in June to bring those duties in house starting Jan. 1, 2013. That move is meant to save the county money, however Vice Chairman
Bill Bencini and other commissioners have expressed strong reservations about the creation of a Guilford County parks and recreation department, and Henning decided to bring up the issue while the board was discussing moving around some park funds. The item on the agenda at the Dec. 13 meeting called for the county to move just over $291,000 in 2004 park bond money from one project to another, and Henning said that, given the current state of flux, he thinks the board needs to take a step back and assess the entire situation. “We’re trying to take over the parks – that’s a big endeavor,” Henning said. He said he thought the new board might be wise to take a fresh look at the big picture. “I want to see where we are with the parks,” he said. Shaw suggested that the upcoming allday Thursday, Jan. 10 retreat might be a good time for that discussion. “Mr. Henning, we could take that up at the retreat,” Shaw said. Like Henning, several other commissioners have concerns about the county taking over of operation of the parks. Vice Chairman Bill Bencini even said earlier this year that he thinks the county will find itself in so much grief with the parks a few months into the takeover that the county might be ready to hand
park maintenance and operation right back to the other local governments – such as Greensboro, Gibsonville and Jamestown – to which the county has been outsourcing those operations for years. The item before the commissioners was a request by staff to transfer $291,354 from the completed Bicentennial Greenway project to improvements at Northeast Park. That money, combined with additional funds from a NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, was to go toward many improvements at Northeast Park, including the construction of tennis and basketball courts and a “championship disc golf course,” which is better known as a Frisbee golf course. In addition, the money would be used to purchase playground equipment, add parking and create walkways. Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, who lives in Pleasant Garden, near Hagan-Stone Park, wanted to know why Northeast Park was getting a major overhaul when other parks like Hagan-Stone still needed a lot of very basic improvements. “This is a new park,” Coleman said of Northeast. “Why are we not spending money on some older parks? We have Hagan-Stone Park which barely has swings for the kids.” Guilford County Property Management Director Sandy Woodard said the move to (Continued on page 32)
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Mayor Perkins & Co. Flee Downtown by john hammer editor
Mayor Robbie Perkins at several meetings has bragged about living and working downtown. Not any longer. Perkins is president of NAI Piedmont Triad Commercial Real Estate, which recently moved its office out of the downtown. Perkins gave the same reasons for the move as have many other business owners that have moved out of the downtown over the years. The first thing he mentioned was the rent was less expensive, and the second, third and fourth issues he mentioned were parking. He said all the other commercial real estate firms had their own parking, and now everyone at his firm parks in the same lot, which is really convenient. He said it’s a lot easier to zip in and out of a parking lot on State Street than a parking deck downtown. What makes Perkins different from other business owners who choose to relocate their businesses is that he is mayor and has been on the City Council for all but two of the last 19 years. So Perkins is largely responsible for many of the policies that make downtown a less desirable location for a business to operate. Parking is a huge issue and downtown it is
expensive. There is very little free parking in downtown Greensboro. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The city could pull up the meters tomorrow and do away with paid on-street parking. Time restrictions could still be made, if the city wanted, or the city could try allowing people to park where they wanted. Another possibility, the city parking decks are paid for, so the parking decks are essentially just moneymakers for city government. You might say it’s another tax on people who live, work and play downtown. What if the parking decks were free, or the top two floors of every deck were free, or one of the parking decks was free? What if the City Council decided to provide some free parking for people downtown? Would that help downtown businesses? The 200 block of East Market Street is lined with metered parking spaces on both sides. Many times during the middle of the day there isn’t a single car parked in that long block. What if the city made blocks like that free, unrestricted parking. Might that help businesses downtown? It’s hard to see how it could hurt, and the city wouldn’t be (Continued on page 29)
Ordinance Briefing Leads to Confusion by alex jakubsen Staff Writer
The Greensboro City Council’s Entertainment Facility Use Ordinance Review Committee looking at a nightclub ordinance is further away from presenting one than they were before their Thursday, Dec. 13 meeting, according to committee chair Councilmember Zack Matheny. The committee, which includes Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter and Jim Kee, heard representatives from the Greensboro Police Department and the Planning and Community Development Department respond to the questions raised by councilmembers, club owners and others at a previous meeting on Nov. 29. The ordinance, if passed, would become part of the zoning code, and sets minimum security requirements for certain types of entertainment facilities in order for them to keep their privilege licenses. Most dance clubs and clubs providing live entertainment and operating after 9 p.m. with occupancy of 150 or more and strip clubs regardless of occupancy would have to comply. Even clubs that cater to those younger than 21 would have to comply. “I will tell you today I’ve got some concerns greater than I had before. I think we are farther away than I probably
realized,” Matheny said at the end of the Dec. 13 meeting. Matheny said that the city would continue to have crime problems, but that he did not want to pass legislation so “reactive” that would be harmful to everyone. Abuzuaiter said she still had questions about the proposed ordinance she had hoped to get answered. “I think it’s really, really complicated,” she said. Police Attorney Jim Clark discussed a list of questions and answers that staff had assembled. One of the questions was why some facilities, including Club Fifth Season and the Elk Lodge, had been dropped from an earlier list of places governed by the ordinance. Clark said that when the ordinance was refined, it became apparent that some facilities effected were not the kind of facilities that they had in mind. “The answer to that is that when the Entertainment Facility Ordinance was first drafted, it was drafted with the idea of a particular category of business uses or zoning uses in mind,” said Clark. The question and answer document says, “The Fifth Seasons also differs from a typical nightclub in that it is an accessory use to the hotel.” (Continued on page 30)
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Thursday, December 20, 2012
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro HIGH POINT
Hagen Lawsuit May Cost High Point $1M by paul C. clark Staff Writer
The North Carolina Supreme Court issued two opinions on Dec. 14, 2012 that have gotten the attention of the High Point City Council. The most important of the two for High Point was a four-word, unsigned opinion by the court: “Discretionary Review Improvidently Allowed.” As legal opinions go, that doesn’t make exciting reading. It simply means the NC Supreme Court has decided it should have let a Court of Appeals decision stand without review. In this case, the NC Supreme Court decided to deny review after already having heard arguments in the case on Oct. 16, 2012. The case in question was L&S Water v. Piedmont Water Authority, an appeal by the water authority, formally the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority (PTRWA), of an April 19, 2011 Appeals Court decision upholding a trial court’s decision that the water authority, by creating the Randleman Dam, had damaged the owners of five downstream hydroelectric plants, including US Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband, Chip Hagan, by restricting the flow of the Deep River. By letting the appeals court and trial court decisions stand, the NC Supreme Court left the water authority responsible for damages – exactly how much in damages,
a Guilford County Superior Court will have to decide. Former High Point City Attorney Fred Baggett, now a contract attorney the High Point City Council uses for advice on legislation and court cases, briefed the City Council on the case on Monday, Dec. 17, in its first Finance Committee meeting under new High Point Mayor Bernita Sims. Baggett said the hydroelectric plant owners have alleged $5 million in damages, although that amount has not yet been tested in court, where the owners will have to prove that a reduction in the flow of the Deep River actually cost them that much money.
by paul C. clark Staff Writer
With public forums at High Point Central on Nov. 15 and Nov. 28 having established that the High Point Central High School community badly wants Guilford County Schools to move The Academy at Central off High Point Central’s campus, some High Pointers aren’t waiting for Guilford County Schools to suggest it. Members of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Catholic Church on Johnson
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caused by the creation of the Randleman Dam was a taking – an exercise of the North Carolina statutory eminent domain power. When a government entity, such as the water authority, takes property, or in this case, part of the value of the property, it has to pay the owner for the loss in value. The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution provides that private property can’t be taken for public use “without just compensation.” The water authority’s board of directors on May 10, 2011 voted unanimously to appeal the trial court’s decision. (Continued on page 33)
Catholic School A Godsend?
Finally, a resolution you want to keep.
Nonetheless, High Point City Manager Strib Boynton, worst-casing the effect on High Point’s budget, said he was planning for that amount if things go wrong for the water authority in the damages trial. “We are 19 percent of the water authority,” Baggett said. “All that’s good and all that’s bad in the water authority, including their debts.” High Point’s share of $5 million in damages would be about $1 million. The trial court and Appeals Court cases involved riparian rights – the rights of owners of properties adjacent to a water source to use that water. The trial court found that the reduction of the water flow
Street in High Point, which is building a new school, have proposed that Guilford County Schools buy the church’s old school and convert it into a new home for The Academy at Central. The new IHM Parish Life and Education Center will be on the church campus, at the intersection of Johnson Street and Skeet Club Road. The old school is on the southwest corner of the intersection of Montlieu Avenue and North Centennial Street, across from High Point University. At the public forums, High Point Central graduates, teachers and parents complained about the condition of almost everything at the school from basement to roof, including crowded classrooms, an unusable cafeteria with a capacity of 150 for a school with 1,424 students, an impossibly tiny library, terrifying bathrooms, a lack of work space for teachers, “floating teachers” who have no assigned classrooms and, above all, the presence of The Academy at Central. The academy occupies the Tomlinson building, formerly Tomlinson Elementary School, on the High Point Central campus, but High Point Central supporters argue that the building should be returned to the school. The Academy at Central is one of Guilford County Schools’ small high schools, which use specialized curriculums and teach students in small-class settings. The academies are generally successful, but aren’t really part of the high schools whose names they bear. High Point Central supporters told the school board at the forums that The Academy at Central could be moved anywhere, which would free up its 12 classrooms. After the public forums at High Point Central, IHM parishioner Jim Webb wrote school board member Ed Price to thank him for coming separately to speak to parents at Central, and suggested the old school building as a site for the academy. The IHM school is moving to its new building
in May 2013. Price jumped on the idea and passed it on to Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green, who, according to Price, responded that he would have Guilford County Schools administrators look at the old school. Price said he would be in favor of Guilford County Schools buying the readymade school. “Jim Webb recommended it,” Price said. “I’ve got a map and everything. I think it’s a good spot for us, because it’s kitty-corner from High Point University, and maybe we could create some programs with them.” Webb is a member of a family that long owned Thomas Built Buses and is active in the church. Price said that the IHM school has infrastructure the academy could use. “It’s on two bus lines,” he said. “It’s in the core city. It would be easily accessible, in my opinion. It’s a good site. It has a gym, and it has to meet the basic code for a school or it wouldn’t be operating there.” How much the church would want for the school, if it were to offer it to Guilford County Schools, is unknown, The school system has $69 million left from its likely defunct plan to build an “airport area high school” in western Guilford County, plus millions more left over from other projects in its $457 million building program. But the bonds for the $69 million have not yet been sold by Guilford County, and would have to be approved by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. Also, the Guilford County Schools Facilities Department has proposed a $75 million list of school repairs, none of which involve High Point Central or The Academy at Central. Price said Green took the suggestion seriously enough to get the Facilities Department involved. He said, “The Facilities Department was going to look at it last week or this week.”
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Schools Up Security by paul C. clark Staff Writer
The Guilford County Board of Education met in a somber mood on Tuesday, Dec. 18 in the wake of a mass killing that left 26 students and staff members dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Guilford County Schools Chief of Staff Nora Carr briefed the school board on steps Guilford County Schools has taken to beef up security at its 124 schools. Carr said that the administration of Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green contacted all of its school administrators after the Connecticut shootings, asking them to check their security, to report any breaches or suspicious activity to the North Eugene Street headquarters, and to focus on “relationships of trust” – knowing who belongs in a school and who doesn’t, and having everyone in a school report any unrecognized people on school grounds. Carr said research shows such personal identification is more effective than metal detectors or other knee-jerk reactions often
made by school systems after shootings. Guilford County public schools are required to hold two lockdown drills a year. Carr said that schools that haven’t held one recently have been asked to do so before the Christmas break. She also said the school system is reviewing its violence risk assessment protocols – training social workers and counselors to spot students who show signs of being a threat. Guilford County Schools has posted on its website a list of suggestions from the National Association of School Psychologists it says will help parents and school employees talk to students about the tragedy. Carr said that, in the aftermath of the shooting, some discussions with children may have been counterproductive. She said, “We’re sort of creating more fears in children.” The suggestions include adults remaining calm. “Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives,” the list states. “Avoid appearing anxious or frightened.” (Continued on page 32)
Cabarrus to Teach Guilford about Teeth by Scott D. Yost county editor
Dental care for needy children and adults in Guilford County is expected to improve a great deal over the next two years thanks to a New Jersey-based health care foundation that selected Guilford County to participate in a national program meant to enhance services offered by public health providers across the country. The new initiative will allow Guilford County’s dental program to call on national and regional experts in public health care delivery, as well as consult with a highly successful program in Cabarrus County in an attempt to implement a best-practices model in Guilford County for delivering dental care to uninsured children and adults. Guilford County and Cabarrus County have each been awarded one of 18 grants given nationally. The $125,000 grant will help implement the dental services upgrade, which will rely largely on the expertise and experience of Cabarrus County representatives, the national foundation and its staff, and the national consulting resources that organization has at its disposal. The influx of new ideas and best practices procedures are expected to lead to significant improvements in the way the Guilford County Department of Public Health provides dental services to the county’s underprivileged. Guilford County Health Director Merle Green said she’s “very excited” our county was selected to participate in the program.
She said the infusion of knowledge and expertise should be a big shot in the arm for the health department’s dental care. Green said Guilford County will work closely with Cabarrus County since Cabarrus had been determined to be one of the most effective public health entities in delivering dental care. The Department of Public Health runs two dental clinics: The Greensboro Chandler Dental Clinic at 1103 W. Friendly Ave. and another on the county’s governmental plaza at 501 E. Green Dr. in High Point. Green added that Guilford County will reciprocate by sharing its expertise in epidemiology with Cabarrus County to help that county develop better practices in the study of the origin and spread of disease. The collaboration between the two counties, with guidance from the national foundation, is expected to last for two years. The program bringing the two counties together and funding it is the Center for Sharing Public Health Services, which is part of the New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to Green, the program will also study the causes that lead to dental diseases, as well as other related medical issues, in order to establish new programs that help prevent and control dental problems among county residents. Guilford County’s two dental clinics currently see about 5,000 patients per year, and many of those are under 21 and (Continued on page 30)
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
The Sound of the Beep What follows has been transcribed from the answering machine tape on our comment line 273-0898. We edit out what is required by the laws of the state, of good taste and of good sense. The limit on phone calls is one minute and each caller may make up to two calls per week. If you have something to say, call our comment line at 273-0898 and start talking at The Sound of the Beep. Recently, while driving through Kernersville, I passed a church with a message board outside that I feel speaks volumes about this 2012 election. It said simply, this nation will reap what it has sown. I couldn’t have said it better myself. %%% I have had it with unions, especially those who make cars. I bought new GM cars in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2011. I will not buy another union-made car or any merchandise made by unions if I can get non-union made. I am fed up with these overpaid thugs trying to run and ruin everything touch. Let union people buy union goods. They are the only people who can afford them anyway. Their motto is, we will run or ruin. I am fed up with these union thugs. It is ridiculous what they can get away with and nobody calls them out on it. Thank you. %%% I want to comment on the school shooting in Connecticut. Hell is a way yonder too cool for him. %%% Yes, originally I’ve been hoping that somebody would raise my taxes and change my standard of living. Yeah, hope and change. Thanks Obama. %%%
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Hello. This is High Point calling. I was reading Under the Hammer on page 59 of the Dec. 6 issue. And I took offense to the fact that Mr. Hammer was saying that the people, conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers and Ron Paulers, are the ones who are responsible for Obama being president. That is absolutely untrue. It’s the Republican National Committee, the newspapers’, and the televisions’ treatment of Dr. Paul insured that President Obama would serve another term. No Republicans that were for Paul were going to vote for Romney. There was no way. %%% Editor’s Note: My point exactly. %%% To finish my thoughts. The GOP has lied and deceived us just as much as the progressives. In fact the GOP has helped the progressive agenda many, many times. So, to all of you mainstream Republicans that just accepted what you were told and didn’t bother to check the facts of these people, you, and you alone, are responsible for Obama serving two terms. Your laziness and armchair politics will bring about the collapse of our country. Don’t blame us for your unwillingness to check facts. We are not to blame. You are to blame, the ones that voted for Romney. A third grader with a computer could have checked out the facts about that man and seen that he was a flip-flopper to begin with. So, don’t blame us people who actually do … %%%
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Thank you to Jeff Phillips for his common sense in representing the taxpayers last night. He was the one person that understood that there should have been a vote for yes or no in public to raise or not raise the pay. The attorney gave a lame recommendation. The Lilly Ledbetter Act does not require pay equity. The Lilly Ledbetter Act extends the statute of limitations to file a workplace discrimination or wage discrimination. It just extends the statute of limitations. But the attorney requested a motion that made that closed session voting legal which it was not. And I praise Jeff Phillips for doing the right thing. Government in the closet is not a good thing, and voting that it was OK is worse. %%%
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Yeah, over 20 people have been killed in gun violence in Newton, Connecticut, today at a school. Does not anybody think it’s time to start putting some restrictions on guns? Is there really, truly a responsible gun owner out there? Responsible gun owners don’t let anyone know they have a gun. They don’t pull the gun out and use it. They keep it locked up until they need it. That’s responsible. I don’t think anybody out there that has a gun is completely (Continued on page 14)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Uncle Orson Reviews Everything Gift-giving, Sword, The Closet Bee, Totoro by orson scott card
We’re in the last few days before Christmas, and I think I’m not the only one who feels as if, no matter what I do, I’m not going to be ready. I also think I know why. Whether you have a lot of money to spend on gifts, or very little, or none at all, there’s the nagging feeling that whatever your gifts are, they aren’t enough. Either they’re not good enough, or there aren’t enough of them. In other words: They won’t do. And that’s because there is no gift that will “do.” Do what, anyway? What is it that our gifts are supposed to accomplish? Do you really think there’s some thing you can wrap and put under a tree that will transform the life of the recipient? Convert them from misery to happiness, from grief to joy, from loneliness to a sense of belonging to a wonderful community? Well, maybe a bit of that last thing. Because there are gifts that can show that you really know the recipient, that they belong. That’s one of the reasons that, even though gift certificates can be wonderful gifts, they aren’t ever really the perfect gift. Yes, the recipient can choose exactly what
item to buy, so you know it will suit them; but since you didn’t make that “exact right” choice, the gift certificate does not convey that sense of being known by the giver. A gift, even a poorly chosen one, says at least this much: “I feel a desire/need/ obligation to give you a gift, and I spent a certain amount of time and thought, and here’s what I came up with.” Sometimes a gift says, “Here’s what I think you ought to want.” Here are some other possible messages: “This is what I know how to make. Here’s one for you.” “This is what all the cool people give, and I’m so cool I’m giving you one.” “I have so much money, I can afford to give one of these to you.” “This is what I’m giving to everybody, and you’re on my list.” “I really hate giving gifts, but here goes.” “I think you’re still 6/11/14 years old.” “Your house isn’t full yet. Here’s something to stack somewhere.” Don’t get me wrong: Not one of these is a bad thing. Because at least these messages are given in the form of a gift. It speaks well of our society that our retail economy is, in many sectors, completely driven by Christmas sales.
What do you think a “perfect” motive for giving a gift would be? Altruism? I hate the whole idea of altruism, the way so many people use it. The idea often is that if you receive any benefit from giving a gift or a service to someone else, then it isn’t really altruism. So if you do something for somebody and then feel good about it, it somehow negates the value of the gift. Somebody sees you helping somebody or giving a gift and they say, “Oh, I bet that made you feel warm all over.” Doesn’t that attitude just make your skin crawl? As if the only way for a gift to be truly generous-hearted is if you feel awful about giving it. Maybe donating organs counts – if it’s an organ you only have one of. Maybe if you die giving the gift, these people will be satisfied. The truth is that you should feel good about giving a gift, and the more thoughtful and personal and individual and neededor-wanted the gift is, the better you should feel about it. There’s no requirement that it hurt you or cost you more than you can afford. There’s no requirement that a gift be a terrible sacrifice. The only “sacrifice” that matters is that
you spend enough time and effort to find out what gift might be appropriate and welcomed by the recipient – even if the result is a gift certificate. For instance, a gift certificate to a nice restaurant can be the perfect gift for a young married couple who rarely get a chance to go anywhere nice. (It’s even better if it’s accompanied by baby-sitting, if you’re giving the restaurant gift certificate to a couple who have babies.) But heed this word of warning: Ask the restaurant in advance if the certificate or gift card can be applied to the tip. If it can’t, then you are not really giving a gift, because the recipients either have to take cash out of pocket to leave a tip, or they have to stiff the waiter – and where’s the pleasure in that? Any restaurant whose gift certificates can’t be used for the tip doesn’t actually have gift certificates – they have prepaid discount cards. Even if the discount is 80 percent (i.e., everything except a good tip), it still requires the recipient to pay. A gift certificate to a videogame store or bookstore is almost always best if you haven’t received an actual request for a particular game or book. (And if there has been a request, you have to make sure (Continued on page 12)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
The New York Times Crossword Puzzle
HEARING DOUBLE By Matt Ginsberg / Edited by Will Shortz
1 Food that jiggles
6 “Along ___ spider …” 11 G o n e , b u t n o t f o rg o t t e n
45 Drama set at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency
47 Nautical direction 4 8 P a s t a s u ff i x
1 5 H o r i z o n t a l : A b b r.
20 First U.S. screen p o r t r a y e r o f D r. F u Manchu
1 8 Ti c k e d b y
21 Dangerous outpouring 22 Overly 23 Souvenir from the Petrified Forest? 25 Priests, at times
2 7 Tw o - f i f t h s o f ’ N Sync? 28 Actor Edward James ___ 29 What randy bucks do? 31 Agreement from the G i p p e r ’s c o a c h ? 34 Luth. or Presb. 35 Force
RELEASE DATE: 12/23/2012
36 Crowning touch? 37 What mayo is part of 3 8 To l k i e n t r i l o g y, t o fans 39 Measure of purity 40 Knobby 42 Plucky housekeeper?
For any three answers, call from a touch-tone phone: 1-900-285-5656, $1.49 each minute; or, with a credit card, 1-800814-5554.
5 0 Wo r d s b e f o r e coming or made 55 Some salmon 5 6 “ We l l d o n e , S i r Lancelot,” in Franglais? 59 Python in “The Jungle Book” 60 Handel bars? 6 1 Wi n g s : L a t . 62 Lightning ___ 6 4 S o o t h s a y e r ’s shoelace problem? 70 Link up with 72 Pleasure boats 7 3 A ff a i r o f t h e h e a r t 74 Chucklehead 75 ___ Jima
76 Stage assistant 77 Outpourings 78 Shorten a bar mitzvah by 50%? 83 Decorative pin 8 5 Q a t a r i b i g w i g : Va r. 86 Ones with a lot of pull? 87 London can
88 Alpine wind 9 1 L i t e r a l l y, “ i t s e l f ” 92 Memo opener
9 3 P o l a r e x p l o r e r, a f t e r getting religion?
9 5 Ta g l i n e f o r t h e biopic “Dudley” starring bandleader Brown? 9 8 O u t a t t h e d e n t i s t ’s ? 9 9 F r e d d y K r u e g e r ’s street
1 0 0 Te n Commandments nono 1 0 1 W h e r e M a c y ’s keeps the wedding dresses? 1 0 5 Wi m p l e w e a r e r 106 Home to the 90Down, once 107 Nasty look 108 “___ it!”
109 Popular smartphone app 11 0 D o g c o m m a n d 111 G u i t a r i s t D u a n e and others 11 2 M a k e s , a s o n e ’s way Down 1 What one may break during exercise 2 A n d r é a n d M i a ’s adoptive daughter 3 Book about the writing style of the Mongols? 4 Iraq war hazard, briefly
5 Small, low island 6 Be at one (with)
7 Former San Francisco mayor 8 Stately home
9 K.C.-to-Chicago direction
1 0 P o s t s c r i p t : A b b r.
11 F o r m e r a t t o r n e y general Gonzales
16 Like the ring in an eclipse
2 6 Tr a n q u i l i z i n g
30 Horatian piece 32 Balcony cry
33 Soundboard controls 38 Deliberately delude 3 9 A l a s k a ’s _ _ _ Peninsula
4 1 Wa l k - _ _ _ ( n o n recruited athletes) 42 It may be rigged
43 Sacha Baron Cohen persona
4 4 W h o w r o t e “ A b e a r, however hard he tries, / Grows tubby without exercise”
44 48 53
73 75 81
56 Photoshop command 57 Locale of a 12/7/1941 attack
24 Bones next to humeri
17 Leopard spot
1 5 Wa s h u m b l e d
12 Kind of salad
14 Stinging rebuke
13 Steve ___, 1980 Olympic track champion
70 Start of a basketball game
8 2 F e rg i e , f o r o n e
83 Bygone bookstore chain
93 Cleared the dishes 94“ Antigonae”
58 Funny Fields
7 1 Wo r d s f r o m S g t . Friday
5 0 Wi l l i n g r e c i p i e n t s ?
63 Freckles, e.g.
76 Feminist Germaine
52 Psychology pioneer Alfred
66 Castle component
7 9 To t a l l y j a z z e d
8 9 O b e y e d a s e n t r y, s a y
102 Neither Dem. nor 103 Knock over
81 74-Down recipient, e.g.
92 “___ Only One” (Melissa Etheridge hit)
45 Big truck maker
46 Have ___ (bathe) 5 1 U rg e n t l y
5 3 Tr i c k - t a k i n g c a r d game 54 Abdicated?
60 Just begun
65 Salad bar supply 67 ___ to go 68 Drop
69 One of five Nicholases
74 U.K. mil. decoration 78 Raining hard?
80 Some scriptural passages
84 Bull session?
87 Inspector in E l i z a b e t h G e o rg e mysteries 90 See 106-Across
96 Miss America identifier
97 Allay Rep.
1 0 4 C h a r l e m a g n e ’s r e a l m : A b b r.
Get answers to any three clues by touch-tone phone: 1-900-285-5656 ($1.20 each minute).
Uncle Orson (Continued from page 10)
someone else hasn’t heard, and acted on, the same wish!) For a home handyman, Lowe’s gift certificates can be exactly right. So ... if you know the recipient is a reader or a gamer or a fixer-upper, the certificate is a thoughtful, individual gift. And given the way this economy is going, if you know somebody is struggling to pay bills and hasn’t had a dime of discretionary income in a long time, then even a general department store gift certificate – Target, Belk’s, Macy’s, Wal-Mart – can be a personal gift: Here, use this to buy something that isn’t on your list of gotta-buys. Have a few minutes of freedom to choose. Some people say of gift certificates, “It’s the same bad taste as if you just handed them money.” But I disagree. Such gifts can still communicate to the recipient: “I know you, I care about you, I want you to have the pleasure of choosing something you’ll value.” And yet. Good as they can be, these are not the best gifts. The best gifts are the ones that say, “I know you so well that this is exactly what you will love” – and they’re right. You open that gift with a gasp of delight. You may not even have known that you wanted the thing. You might not even have known that such a thing existed. And yet there it is, proving that the giver of the gift
Thursday, December 20, 2012
saw at least a little way into your heart, and did what it took to bring you joy. Sometimes such a gift is extravagant. Sometimes it’s very simple. Sometimes it’s expensive. Sometimes it’s free. But it’s always rare. If, over the course of your whole life, you can give such a gloriously-right gift to five different people, or achieve such gift perfection twice for the same person, you are among the greatest of givers. Often such gifts are achieved partly by chance. You hoped the other person would like it; you had no idea how much it would mean. Don’t ever tell them that you had no idea that it would mean so much. Just be glad they were so glad to get it. And then for heaven’s sake don’t expect yourself to ever equal that gift, let alone top it, in subsequent years. And if someone gives you such a perfect gift, be grateful and show it – but don’t let yourself feel bad, even for a moment, that your gift to them isn’t equally perfect. The odds against that happening are astronomical. In fact, the sheer obviousness of your joy at their gift is the reward to the giver. You’re saying to them: You nailed it. There is no way the gift you gave them is going cause them as much joy as they’ll feel from knowing how much you loved their gift to you. So don’t wreck everything by forcing that person to reassure you that your gift
was just as good. It wasn’t. And that’s OK. We give gifts to the same people, year after year, and most of the time we don’t get it exactly right. In fact, most of the time our gifts are pretty forgettable – rather like last year’s Oscars. We all understand this, we accept it, and we keep on giving gifts, knowing that the primary function of the giving is to say, I have not forgotten you, you matter to me. That’s always a good message. Ordinary gifts are just fine. Ordinary thanks for those gifts are also fine. It’s like the words of “Wonderful World”: “They’re only saying ‘I love you.’” That is quite enough of a burden for your gifts to bear. And when somebody gives you the perfect gift, don’t make them feel bad because your gift wasn’t as ecstatically perfect. Even if you never find them a gift that thrills them like that, it’s still OK. Your ordinary gifts are perfectly acceptable. They deliver the right message. They’re Good Enough. And who knows? Maybe you’ll strike gift-giving gold this year, and finally get even with someone who gave you The Perfect Gift ten years ago.
They’re selling Daughter of the Sword, by Steve Bein, in the sci-fi section of the bookstore, and I suppose it belongs there, but it’s mostly a really cool near-future thriller that is also a historical novel, a fable, a fantasy, and – oh, just take my word for it. It’s really, really good. The hero is a young woman who is struggling to rise within the Tokyo police department. Yeah, that’s right. The hero is Japanese. The whole novel is Japanese. I have no particular fascination with Japanese culture. Yes, I loved Shogun and I loved The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino and I’m a real fan of Miyazaki’s animated films. But I’m not a Japanophile the way I’m an anglophile. I am not fascinated by all things Japanese. On the contrary – I recognize that Japanese culture is very different from mine, and I like mine. So sue me. Not only that, I’m really repelled by martial arts fiction, which is usually a kind of kata-porn, where the writer expects you to think the martial arts scenes are reason enough to care about the hero and the story. For me, they’re not. So don’t read Daughter of the Sword because it’s set in Japan; but also don’t turn away from it for that same reason. Because the story is not about its Japaneseness. It’s about a smart, tough person trying to cope with her family’s needs – especially her drug-using sister’s – while achieving an ambition that’s really important to her. It’s about a grand old man who owns a sword with an ancient history, one that is coveted by a truly evil person who will kill to get it. It’s about the power that some great objects can exert over those who own them, leading us to wonder: Who is the owner, who the possession?
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
The modern story is interrupted several times by extended stories – fables at first, but eventually extended historical fiction – about previous owners of the three swords that become important in the story. And I’m not denigrating the main storyline to tell you that those interruptions are the very best part of the book. If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone who likes mysteries, thrillers, police procedurals, character-driven stories, fantasy, science fiction or just plain good writing, Daughter of the Sword might be just the thing.
Our house isn’t new. It’s a federal-style house that was built before the modern fad of monumental two-story entries and shrine-like bathrooms and closets the size of moving vans. Fortunately, it’s new enough that the kitchen is decent-sized and it has indoor plumbing and electricity built right in. (We once lived in a house old enough that all those things were afterthoughts, and believe me, that is not nice.) Our not-very-big master bathroom is directly over the unmagnificent one-story entryway of our house. And while we have two closets in our master bedroom, they are one layer of clothing deep and neither one is very big. We can’t do anything about the size of the closets. But we can do something about the way the space inside them is used. So we called in Holly Root from The Closet Bee (2180 Lawndale Dr.; 346-5555; closets@TheClosetBee.com) to take a look at the smaller closet and see what could be done. We liked her ideas. The price was reasonable. We hired the company to do the job. The day of our appointment, the doorbell rang. I opened it, expecting the work crew. Instead there was just one guy, no tools, holding a piece of paper. I wasn’t sure if I was being served a subpoena or about to hear a sales pitch. And he, seeing my confusion, wondered if he had come to the wrong place. But it was the right place. And he was the crew. I had expected a team. But when you think about it, it’s a closet. There wouldn’t be room for two people to work on it at the same time. He was done in a couple of hours; maybe less; we weren’t looking at the clock. It was done before we expected. The work was well done, the design was fully executed, and it was done on time and at the agreedupon cost. It was not a miraculous transformation. There are still the same number of cubic feet; we pretty much filled the space before, and we fill it now. But everything is much more accessible, and after 22 years of only marginal usefulness, it’s almost like getting a new house. Well, no, it’s nothing like getting a new house. Which is fine — who wants to move? But it did give me a new closet and (Continued on page 24)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Yost Says Penguins Will Be Last To Go by Scott D. Yost county editor
It’s the end of the world as we know it – and I feel fine.
Well, so here we finally are. The end of the year. And, also, this isn’t just any average end of the year: This time, not only is it the end of the year – it’s also the end of the world. So, that adds a little gravitas to the year-end festivities this time around. Because, sadly, as you’ve no doubt heard, the world will end on Friday, Dec. 21. I wish it weren’t true either, but there’s no getting around it; the news of the impending end of the world is all over the internet, and, as I’m sure you’re aware, if it weren’t true, there’s no way something like that could have made it past the internet fact checkers. By now, everyone knows the daunting date of definite doom, but you might not know the time – so I’m going to tell you that too: According to the expert interpretations of the ancient Mayan texts – interpretations that have been verified on not one but many internet blogs – it happens at 11:11:11 Greenwich Meridian Time, which, for us, here in our humble community, will be at exactly 11 seconds after 6:11 a.m. Ironically, the AccuWeather forecast for Dec. 21 calls for it to be “Bright and Sunny,” and the forecast for Dec. 22 – the day after the end of the world – calls for, “A full day of Sunshine.” (Yes, the weather people are still putting out forecasts for the days after the apocalypse. I’m not sure what the point of that is exactly, but I think it’s some sort of sick and twisted inside joke among the AccuWeather people.) The good news is that, when the end of the world happens, it will be early morning here – just after 6 a.m. So that means that, if you time it right, you’ll be sound asleep when it all goes down. In fact, my parting advice to you in this, my last column, is to stay up late Thursday night, and really blow it out hard at whatever End of the World Party you attend, so you’ll be passed out cold when it all goes down; and therefore you won’t be awake to witness the black hole, alien invasion, plague of locusts – or whatever form of destruction the world’s final death blow takes. I have to say I do think that, despite my advice to you, when it comes to myself I’m going to get up early and make some coffee, and turn on the TV, just to see exactly how it all happens, because by nature I’m curious like that. And, end of the world or not, I’m determined not to get all down about it. I mean, please. Try not to be so depressed. Come on, sure it looks bleak, but it’s not like it’s the end of the wor— OK, so that usual line of encouragement doesn’t really work very well in this case. But, I mean, really, if you think about it, there’s still plenty to live for. Well, OK, so that’s not exactly true right now either. Granted, there aren’t a lot of positive upbeat phrases that work in this situation – but the very last thing we need at the end of the world is a bunch of doomsayers moping around complaining. Everyone needs to remember that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, and that’s important because you’ll probably need that extra energy to run from the zombies, locusts or whatever, for as long as you can. Don’t think about the future (or, really, the lack thereof). Instead, at this time, we should think back over the existence of the planet. Listen, let me tell you why I don’t think we should be too sad about the end of the world: The earth has had a pretty darn good run – about 4.6 billion years to be exact. I’m sorry, but any world that gets 4.6 billion years of existence simply isn’t allowed to complain when its time is finally up: 4.6 billion years is a heck of a long time to hang around. It’s the time it took for the earth’s planetary mass to form into a solid surface and then for life to arise from the cosmic soup and for men to evolve into beings with opposable thumbs so that we finally reached the height of human evolution – the ability to text each other from our iPhone 5’s. Or, to think about that same length of time in somewhat more mundane terms, 4.6 billion years is approximately the amount of time it takes to renew a license tag sticker at a local DMV office. Which, if you think about it, is a really solid run of time. If you put it in college basketball terms, suppose the same team, say, Duke, won the NCAA championship 4.6 billion years in a row – well, I’ll bet the opposing team wouldn’t even show up for the championship game the following year. Their coach might be like, “Don’t be intimidated; this, is our time; this is our moment!” but I’ll bet his team would just stay home anyway. (Continued on page 14)
“If I was traveling through Greensboro, I’d eat at Undercurrent in a second. The food is well-sourced and well-prepared. The people there know that a restaurant experience is about making a diner feel fed and taken care of. It’s not about the chef’s ego, but about a chef who knows how to cook.” Kim Severson, New York Times Atlanta bureau chief, Garden & Gun columnist, and author of several cookbooks including Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life.
undercurrentrestaurant.com (336) 370-1266
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Scott’s Night Out Sherry Stevenson and I have a tradition: Every year Sherry is in the Christmas Scott’s Night Out. Sherry, who’s one of my favorite people in the world, is now a Realtor at the Green Valley Road branch of Allen Tate Realtors – where she’s already making a big splash and has lofty goals for 2013. We went to the Green Valley Grill for this year’s pictures since they had such a beautiful tree and other decorations. On the left, Sherry acts like she doesn’t like wearing the Santa hat, but, trust me, she does. From Sherry and me, and all of us here at Scott’s Night Out, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! – Scott D. Yost.
(Continued from page 13) My point is that a 4.6 billion year run is nothing to sneeze at. And there are some good things about the end of the world happening as well. Normally, when you meet your demise, other people live on; but there’s something highly comforting to me in knowing that, when I die, the whole world will die with me. You’ll be able to take solace in that too. Since everyone is going at once, you won’t have some jerk that you hate outliving you for any length of time, and, with any luck, you’ll even get the enjoyment of watching that jerk being torn apart and eaten by the zombie hoards before they turn and swarm on you. Not that it will necessarily be zombies. I don’t think the Mayans were that specific in their doomsday prediction. They didn’t say whether it would be zombies or another form of cataclysm that will bring about the end. And not knowing all the details is probably a good thing. I’ll bet that if the ancient Mayans were around today, and you asked them how it was going to happen, they would just hold up their hand to signal you to stop, and they would say, “Trust me, you don’t want to know.” And, who knows, maybe it will be something quick, which would be good. Like that Dylan Thomas poem says, “It’s much better to go quickly into that good night.” I do hope it’s not something that makes the end long and drawn out over a period of days, or – Heaven help us all – weeks, with the world gradually getting hotter and hotter, and people running around screaming: “Soylent Green is people! It’s people!” Anyway, I say 4.6 billion years is a pretty good run no matter how you slice it and, with any luck, the end will be swift
Beep (Continued from page 8) responsible, because if they are on some kind of medication, and they go off of it, they could flip at any time. So, we need to determine what’s responsible, and then make that the law when people buy guns. You can’t do any prescription drugs. You can’t have broken a law ever, and you’ve got to promise that you’re never going to use that gun except for your own selfdefense. %%% And if you can’t comply with those laws, then you don’t get a gun. And let’s just go back to the Constitution for a minute. When it was written and it was given the rights to bear arms to citizens of the US, they were talking about muskets. So, if anybody wants to own a musket, that’s fine. You go ahead and get your musket, and that would be what the fore fathers were talking about. They weren’t talking about all these pistols and semi-automatic weapons that
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
and painless. I do wish we had gotten to see one final Christmas – maybe even a white one. That would have been nice. If there were any order to the universe, the apocalypse would happen at midnight on Dec. 31 – just simply because that would be cleaner from an accounting perspective. You know, allowing us until the end of the year would have closed out both the heavenly and earthly books nicely. I just hope the method of destruction is not the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz because, to this day, they scare the living tar out of me every bit as much as they did when I was 5 years old and saw the flying monkeys for the first time. I’d much rather it be a black hole than zombies or the flying monkeys. If it’s a black hole, well, the funny thing about that is that, if it really is a black hole from the Hadron Collider in Europe, then the last living creatures on earth would be the penguins, because the poles would be the last place the black hole would hit. If you could talk to the penguins and ask them if they thought it was going to be a black hole, they would probably all be like, “Duh, why do you think we are living somewhere where there’s no shelter and the wind chill hits 120 below on a good night? Do you think we live here for the sunshine? Do you think we enjoy freezing our [deleted]-es off day in and day out?” So anyway, for your last night on earth, I would suggest you spend it doing something fun that you really, really like to do if you know what I mean. Normally this would be the part of the column where I said merry Christmas and Happy New Year, but this time, all I have to say is goodbye and duck and cover and drop and roll. On second thought, if it turns out to be zombies, then my advice is simply one word … Run.
are out there now. They had no idea they were even going to be out there. So, let’s go by the words of the Constitution. You want a musket, you can have a single-load musket. That’s the gun you can have. %%% Yes, it’s so wonderful to have a nice, honest businessman like Mr. Wilkins replacing Trudy Wade, who has done such a wonderful job for District 5. He is a nice, honest businessman who does not owe back taxes, have a house with a foreclosure, child support, or anything like the mayor who is living in a high-dollar apartment who cannot pay his government taxes, his foreclosure payments, or his support for his children. Mr. Wilkins, you’ll do a wonderful job for us, and I’m so thankful we’ve got some nice, honest person like you in there. Thank you so much. %%% They are telling about hospitals restricting visitors because of the flu. Well, let me tell (Continued on page 25)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Letters to the Editor WIshing you a very liberal X-mas Dear Editor, According to the Bible, Jesus was a liberal. According to Rush Limbaugh, Santa Claus is a liberal. In the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, Mr. Potter was a conservative, and Ebenezer Scrooge was a conservative before he found the “Christmas spirit.” So, I would like to wish everyone a very liberal Christmas and a radical New Year. Chuck Mann
Schools can’t add Dear Editor, Regarding the recent award of a $30 million grant to the NC school system for the purchase of 17,000 tablets, the failure of the numbers to add up should be cause for concern. At the going rate for even the best tablet devices available, it would appear that only about $8.5 million will be used for the purchase of 17,000 such devices. What will the other $21.5 million be used for? Will this money be placed in a fund and used for replacing the hundreds of broken, lost or stolen tablets that can be expected each ensuing year? Or will that burden forever fall on the taxpayers? Cosh Baker Editor’s Note: Just guessing, but $21.5 million looks like the right number for administrative costs.
Gun-free equals danger zone Dear Editor, I just read some commentary about the correlations between gun ownership and the chance of injury or death. This story fed into the paradigm that guns should be banned. Lies, damned lies and statistics. If some hot-house academic wants to do a study, I recommend seeking correlations with mental illness rather than gun ownership. A person overwhelmed with rage is likely to kill (with a knife, with a hammer, with a concrete block) ... with a gun, perhaps. A mentally ill individual or an extremely depressed individual may take their own life or the life of another. The gun did not leap into action and kill someone; a disturbed person committed a very violent act. Mental illnesses will not be addressed or suppressed by gun control. A striking paradox exists with these mass murders. Columbine, the Amish schoolhouse shooting, Virginia Tech, and now Sandy Hook Elementary School are all designated as gun-free zones. How sweet. It is malarkey. Post offices were the first buildings associated in the press with mass shootings. We all know the catchphrase given to the disgruntled workers who went off the deep end – they had “gone postal.” The fact that guns were prohibited in post offices was well known; another gun-free zone for lunatics to violate. Mass shootings at
schools skyrocketed in the 1990s. This increase is right in line with the enactment of the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1994. Have you ever heard of a mass shooting at a Ruritan Club, at a pistol range or at a gun show? Suicidal mass murderers are insane but they know one thing for sure – being effective equates with being unimpeded. Perps always select a soft target for their final acts of violence. No one can conjure a statistic that will debunk this fact: Schools, because they are gun-free zones, are prime targets for horrific violence. They provide a perfect place for all those who want to complete their rampage unopposed. Debra McCusker
Not impressed with hope and change Dear Editor, Fairly often I have a desire to write an answer to letters to the editor. But never have I felt so totally compelled to answer the letter written by Lyn McCoy on Nov. 20. McCoy apparently has been living under a rock. He or she drank the KoolAid and believed all of the untrue, negative commercials presented by the Obama campaign. In 2008, Obama started with “Hope” and “Change.” Anyone can present hope and change. My first question, what is hope and change? Turned out to be nothing. In the most recent election, Obama talked about going “Forward.” To what? Obama’s vision is to bring America down. It is obvious he hates America and everything America stands for. McCoy is still blaming George Bush. Al Qaeda is strong and growing. Jobs produced by Obama? What a joke. Most stimulus money was actually thrown away – given to so-called green companies that went bankrupt. Romney’s flip-flopping. Almost every time Obama opens his mouth he is lying. Obama was against gay marriage, then for gay marriage. Against abortion and then for abortion. Going to close Gitmo, then not closing Gitmo. The real Mr. FlipFlop. Obamacare is and will be a job killer. Then there is the Obamacar – the Chevy Volt. Romney: a God-fearing man, successful businessman, a family man, an American. Obama: possibly a Kenyan and definitely a strong leaning toward the Muslim religion. You liberals made the choice. God help America the next four years. If there is an even higher being, we as Americans will need that help also. Bob Ayers
Conservatives need to change? Dear Editor, I read Mr. Johnson’s News & Record Nov. 18 analysis of the Republican Party’s loss to the Democrats, and a few other
writers, and they all have the same answer: compromise, compromise, compromise. Most Christians and a lot of conservatives still believe as they did when this nation was founded, because of their Bible principles. God’s word and his morality have not changed: God created Adam and Eve, Genesis 1:27. A man shall cleave to his wife, Genesis 2:24. God says abortion is wrong, Exodus 20:13, Isaiah 44:24, Luke 31:15, Job 31:15. When our president makes us taxpayers help pay for abortions, he makes us a part of the atrocity. When our president takes our property that we worked and saved for and gives it to someone else, that is unconstitutional. No matter what the “political joke” Supreme Court says. Mr. Johnson, we conservatives don’t compromise and change our values just to help get a man elected president. G.L. Herbin
Getting pricey Dear Editor, Recently the State of North Carolina has been wondering how to handle illegal immigrants. According to the Pew Center, we have between 250,000 and 425,000 in our state. The Republicans are holding the
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Uncle Orson (Continued from page 12) I highly recommend The Closet Bee.
Robert D. Kaplan’s The Revenge of Geography looks like it might be brilliant. The subtitle promises: “What the map tells us about coming conflicts and the battle against fate.” Alas, the book is about no such thing. There is relatively little geography in it, but there are massive numbers of ridiculous mistakes about history and culture. Basically, it’s full of unquestioned groupthink with, here and there, a nonstandard thought which is usually even
more ignorant than the normal groupthink. What a disappointment.
It’s like the book I browsed through the other day that purports to tell us about leadership and leaders. But when I looked at what the author had to say about Winston Churchill, what I saw was pure ignorance: He took as gospel the political lie that Winston Churchill was to blame for the failure of the Gallipoli campaign in World War I. This is a common error, because Churchill’s political opponents loved to make this charge. However, even the slightest research
shows that the consensus of military historians is that Churchill’s Gallipoli plan, if it had been followed when he put it forward, would have succeeded quickly and easily and would almost certainly have shortened the war by years, saving a million lives or more. So when a book that purports to tell me useful things about a lot of different historical figures reveals that it is based upon only the most cursory of research, and is hopelessly wrong in its assessment of one of the most written-about figures in recent history, what am I to conclude about the value of the author’s statements about historical figures I don’t know as much
about? It’s like watching 60 Minutes. It’s a great show – until the first time they do a story on a subject that you actually know something about. Then it becomes obvious that it’s a formulaic “reality” show in which the only purpose is to tell you what heroes and crusaders the reporters are, with almost no regard for context. Or for the lives of the people they attack and embarrass. Once they decide you’re the bad guy, you have no chance of getting your side on the air. Michael Moore is just 60 Minutes without a bath. In other words, they are not even trying (Continued on next page))
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Uncle Orson (Continued from previous page) to tell you the whole truth. It’s pure spin. This is why, the older I get, the harder it is to find good books. It’s not that I know everything. It’s that I know something, and most political analysts and historical essayists either know less than I do and don’t realize their ignorance, or are deliberately leaving out things they know in order to support their views. Either way, they have my contempt. However, if I can help it they won’t have either my dollars or my reading time. Life is too short for me to waste time on books that will only increase my ignorance. And, if I search hard enough, I can still find books or articles by honest writers and scrupulous researchers.
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.... Oscar-winning Hayao Miyazaki is well known for his inventive and heart-warming animated films, like Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky and Kiki’s Delivery Service. I’ve seen all of those and loved them
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(and I’m pretty sure I’ve reviewed them here). But I had never seen My Neighbor Totoro. I might have seen it sooner if I had had the slightest idea that “totoro” is the child-hero’s mispronunciation of “tororu,” which is Japanese for “troll.” I probably would have been more interested in My Neighbor the Troll.” Or even My Neighbor the Twoll.” As with most great children’s stories, great issues of death and loss are woven in with the magic; the children are caught up in the midst of tragedy, but through a combination of spunk and magic find their way through. In this case, two young girls move with their father to a new house, which is infested with soot-creatures that quickly move out. Their mother is in the hospital, and of course the children miss her. The youngest wanders off, following two small trolls, and meets the giant troll Totoro, who carries her away on many adventures. Her older sister also sees the creature, eventually, and the things that happen are quite wonderful. Yet at the heart of the story is the terror of parents’ lives: The child who wanders off and can’t be found. There are stories that My Neighbor Totoro is based on a real incident in which a child was lost and died, and her older sister, who went in search of her, also ended up dead. Certainly that kind of story is flirted with when people who are searching for the
missing youngest daughter find one sandal floating in a pond, and spend hours probing for the body. And some commentators say that the movie really shows that both girls are dead and don’t realize it or some such thing. I think these commentators are living in Paul-is-dead Land. My Neighbor Totoro’s story is clear, and the girls are very much alive, and the ending is happy. Yet the fear of death and loss is openly and obviously the foundation of the story, without reading anything “hidden” into it. Whether Miyazaki was working with the
Beep (Continued from page 14) you, they need to tell their employees to stay at home if they have it. They come to work sick, and they also can spread the disease. A lot of them come and say, well, I had to come. I got a cold, but I have to work. Well, I’ll tell you, they need to tell the employees to stay at home. The visitors can get it from the employees plus the patients. And it works both ways. Not just keeping visitors out. %%% Due to the large number of additional secretive salary adjustments recently made by the Guilford County administrators in addition to most directors’ large salary adjustments, please consider publishing an
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real-life tragedy as the underpinning of his story or not, My Neighbor Totoro is at once a magical story of childlike wonder and the story of how a loving family can be torn apart by the dread of death – of the mother, and then of the child. It has recently been released in a twodisk set for less than 20 bucks. You could do a lot worse this Christmas vacation than watch this wonderful story with your children. Even small children. Because they aren’t half so scared of death as their parents are. And everything really does come out OK.
additional list of Guilford County salaries. It’s possible, also please list the amount of each so-called adjustment since the June 2012 list was published by The Rhino. I think taxpayers would like to see why property taxes must rise. Thanks Rhino Times. You are the greatest. %%% Yeah, I’m looking at a picture in The Rhino Times of Robbie Perkins sitting with Tony Wilkins. Yeah, have you ever heard the phrase: keep your friends close and your enemies closer? I think that’s the reason Tony is sitting beside Perkins. Thank you. %%% Good evening, Mr. Hammer. I just wanted to call and say I’ve been reading your paper (Continued on page 34)
NIce start, too.
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Thursday, December 20, 2012
(Continued from page 1)
Commissioners. The board sets the salaries for the clerk to the board, the county attorney, the finance director, the register of deeds, the sheriff, the elections director and the social services director. However, about a month ago, county staff raised the salaries of those seven – that was in addition to raising the salaries of eight department directors the county manager actually has a legal right to give raises to. At the Dec. 13 meeting, the Commissioners voted to approve the raises for five employees but, while they were attempting to clean up the mess, the board didn’t deal with the raises for Board of Elections Director George Gilbert or Social Services Director Robert Williams. So those two department heads, through no fault of their own, continue to receive illegal payouts from Guilford County. Though the four new commissioners had previously played no role in the raise debacle that’s dominated county discourse for the last month, they had to take part in fixing things one way or another at the Dec. 13 meeting. Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne, who was the recipient of one of those raises – $4,400 a year in Payne’s case – said, after the raises became public knowledge, that there was a consensus of commissioners in the back room to grant the raises. Payne also told The Rhinoceros Times last week that there was no legal conflict
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of interest in ruling that his own raise was legal. However, despite claims to that effect by Payne and other county staff, to hear the commissioners talk about the raises after they became public knowledge – and became the subject of controversy – there’s been scarce little evidence of anything resembling a consensus. Before the Dec. 13 meeting, several of the new commissioners were complaining that they had to devote much of their first regular meeting to cleaning up a mess left by the previous board. Two nights before the Dec. 13 meeting, one new commissioner in a phone conversation with a former commissioner reportedly said, “I want to thank you for leaving us this s--- to clean up.” At the Dec. 13 meeting, newly elected Commissioner Jeff Phillips brought up the issue of the illegal raises and made a motion to discuss them. Phillips requested that Assistant Manager Sharisse Fuller, who’s also the county’s human resources director, come forward to a staff microphone to answer some questions. Fuller took a seat next to Payne and County Manager Brenda Jones Fox and, as the commissioners asked their questions of the three, it created the appearance that Fox, Payne and Fuller were defendants on trial rather than county staff at a commissioners meeting. Phillips had a host of questions. “What prompted these reviews?” he asked. He followed that question quickly by, “How long has this been underway?” Phillips said he wanted to “get an idea of what brought us to this place.” Fuller said that, in response to the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, and in an attempt to bring the county in compliance with previous equal pay legislation as well, the county had, since 2009, been working diligently to make sure there was equity in pay for similar positions throughout Guilford County government. “All of that’s been going on all along,” Fuller said. The Lilly Ledbetter Act passed in 2009, and it merely extended the time period in which workers could sue if they had a complaint based on fair pay. As Trapp pointed out at the meeting, the fair pay laws have been in effect for decades, so Guilford
County’s sudden concern over the matter in recent years is somewhat curious. There are currently about 2,400 county employees, and Fuller said that, since 2009, 407 positions have been checked for equity pay fairness, and 135 county employees have either received pay increases or are set to get them as a result of that study when the money becomes available in their department. At that rate, it will take the county until about 2028 to finish the equity review for all county employees. Phillips said he wanted to know why the department head salaries were adjusted toward the beginning of the process rather than at the end, after pay increases had been granted to lower paid county employees. “I did not make that decision,” Fuller
Lettters (Continued from page 23) government hostage trying to cut wasteful spending. Obama won 7 out of 10 Latino votes and people said he may have bought their votes. Could that be because of what he allows to be spent a year on illegal aliens? Food assistance programs, $2.2 billion; Medicaid, $2.5 billion, primary and secondary education for non-English speaking students, $12 billion, as well as $17 billion for education of “anchor” babies. Another $3 million per day goes for incarceration of illegal aliens: 30 percent of federal prison inmates are illegals. While $90 billion dollars a year is spent for welfare and social services by the American taxpayer. After all this, illegals in 2006 were able to send $45 billion dollars back to their country of origin – $45 billion we borrowed from China to support them that should have stayed in the US to help our economy. Jed Norris
The unemployment cycle Dear Editor, I know some people who are in their 30s and 40s who I’m pretty sure are on unemployment. They go through cycles about every two years. Now, I’m pretty sure I know why. They get a job and go
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said. She said the decision was made by “someone that was above me.” As assistant county manager, the only people above Fuller in Guilford County government are Fox and the county commissioners. Fuller explained in a little more detail. She said, “A commissioner made an inquiry as to equity of budget directors.” A moment later Fuller said that “commissioners” directed her to do it, and then, at another point, she said “more than one” commissioner requested her department study the salaries of department directors. Fuller said she didn’t want to give the names of the commissioners who (Continued on page 31)
back to work because their unemployment benefits expire. Then, after a few months, they are unemployed again. I think they have to get fired to be eligible to go back on unemployment. Each cycle lasts about two years, then it starts all over again. They are drawing around $500 a week from the government on unemployment. That’s about $26,000 a year for doing nothing. How can America survive operating like this? How are Americans going to learn to be self-sufficient? The sad part is, these are the people who keep electing these same socialist political fools that create these unearned, undeserved entitlements that do nothing to help solve the long-term underlying problem. Need to cut entitlement spending? This is a good place to start by rewriting the rules to encourage, or require, people to go back to work for good instead of rewarding them for not working. It may be more cost effective to pay an employment agency to find a job for them, and if they fail or refuse to work they should not be eligible for unemployment benefits. They would have to go to work and keep a job, or deal with the consequences on their own. Sorry, but I have limited compassion for people who think someone else (taxpayers) are responsible for their existence. Ramon Bell
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readers Merry Christmas. But that didn’t happen, so we have no photo, and no ad, but we would still like to wish you a Merry Christmas. --By the way, although the Christmas and New Year’s holidays will cause us to change a few things on the production side, this year The Rhino Times should be in the racks on Thursday, Dec. 27 and Thursday, Jan. 3 as usual. --It’s a sad day when the mayor of Greensboro can’t even say the word prayer. (Continued on page 31)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Duke (Continued from page 1) Duke Energy says that the debris and tree trunks left after cutting down or trimming a tree are not its responsibility. In Westerwood this includes trees in both public and private rights-of-ways, since many residences have utility lines running through both their front and rear yards. The city plans to remove the debris left in the public right-of-way. Before the speakers Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins directed Deputy City Manager Jim Westmoreland to give a summary of the issue. Westmoreland said that in response to a letter the City Council sent to Duke Energy asking for a delay, the company had stayed its operations in Sunset Hills and Westerwood until after the holidays. The letter had requested a three-month moratorium on tree cutting in Greensboro while the issues are sorted out. All councilmembers said they were in support of sending the letter, even if they did not have the opportunity to sign it. Westmoreland said the ability of the city to regulate Duke Energy was limited because it gets its authority from the North Carolina Utilities Commission. However, Westmoreland also said that per the franchise agreement with Greensboro Duke Energy is required to follow city ordinances. “We have found that we have a public tree ordinance that we have not been using,” Westmoreland said. He said that staff would be looking into the issue to find if the ordinance could be used to put restrictions on Duke Energy. The ordinance includes several limitations including the requirement that property owners within 100 feet of a tree be given 30 days notice of its removal, and that the parks and recreation director or his designee must approve tree topping. However, after the meeting, Westmoreland said he was not sure how much regulatory authority an ordinance could give to the city. During speakers from the floor, Gail Barger of Fairmont Street showed before and after pictures of a section of Woodlawn Avenue where a line of trees had been taken down to the ground. “Maybe we need to take a legal track at this point,” said Councilmember Nancy Vaughan after seeing the images. She asked City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan about the possibility of issuing a ceaseand-desist order to buy the city more time. “Once these trees are down, they’re down. They’re not coming back,” she said. Shah-Khan said he could look into it, although the utility commission preempts a lot of the city’s authority. Barger asked if the city had signed off on the cutting, and Westmoreland said that although the city’s arborist, Mike Cusimano, reviewed and advised Duke Energy’s pruning operations, the decision was ultimately up to Duke Energy. At the neighborhood meeting Dec. 13, Cusimano said he had not disagreed with any of Duke Energy’s cutting plans.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Several more residents spoke, including residents of Southside, who showed pictures of a natural area that had been clear-cut between their homes and Murrow Boulevard. Michelle Ferrier of Southside showed before and after pictures of the cutting, which she said removed an important sight, sound and safety barrier. Ferrier said that tree trunks and debris had been left behind after the cutting. “Duke Energy claims their policy is to leave tree trimmings in place for firewood, stacked in neat piles. Clearly that is not the case in our neighborhood,” she said as she showed slides depicting large logs and branches strewn haphazardly on the ground, which she said left Southside residents with thousands of dollars of expenses. She said the only solution offered by Duke Energy was to cut the debris into smaller pieces to rot in place. “This city invested significant money in rebuilding Southside neighborhood nearly 10 years ago,” she said, asking the city to help maintain the vision for the neighborhood as a safe, green place in the face of Duke Energy’s policies. Eric Patton, president of the Sunset Hills Neighborhood Association, said he was not aware of any official word from Duke Energy that they were in fact going to wait until after the holidays to resume work. After the residents spoke, Councilmember Yvonne Johnson called Duke Energy District Manager Davis Montgomery to the podium to respond to the issue. “I think it’s just absolute devastation,” Johnson said. Montgomery said that Duke Energy has a vegetation management plan filed with the Utilities Commission. “We follow that plan, the way that they have it outlined, and we do it the same way in every town that we serve and we have done it that way for several years,” he said. Johnson asked, “Would Duke Power be willing to look at a compromise that’s not as invasive and as destructive as some of what I’ve seen?” Montgomery dodged the question by saying that his company had been talking with the city about ways they could adjust part of the process. “We’ve discussed some ways that we could do communication in a different way,” he said. Montgomery said that his company does have a communication process that they follow. “We use a door hanger to notify individuals of what’s about to take place, and there’s a name and a number on there that they can contact.” He said the door hangers may not have been secure in every case so some residents might not have seen them. Councilmember Dianne Bellamy-Small later pointed out that there wasn’t much point in notifying people of what was about to happen if there was nothing they could do about it. Johnson asked if they were going to honor the agreement to stop tree cutting activities until after the holidays. Montgomery responded that they had pulled out of Westerwood and Sunset Hills. “We have moved those crews to another
circuit that is on the western side of town as they continue to work,” he said. The council in their letter had requested a three-month halt to Duke Energy’s tree cutting operations. Montgomery said Duke Energy planned to resume work sometime after the holidays. Vaughan then made a motion. “I would like to make a motion that this city commits and also instructs our legal department and city attorney to file a cease-and-desist order tomorrow morning with the proper authority to give us a chance to work through this problem,” she said. Before Vaughan could finish her motion it was met with applause from the audience and a forceful second from Johnson and several other councilmembers. The motion passed 9 to 0 with Mayor Perkins and Councilmembers Vaughan, Johnson, Bellamy-Small, Zack Matheny, Jim Kee, Tony Wilkins and Marikay Abuzuaiter voting in favor. In other business, the council voted 8 to 1 to give Shah-Khan a raise from $153,500 per year to $162,000 per year. Matheny voted against the motion. Johnson said the raise was part of stipulation in Shah-Khan’s original employment contract that said his pay would be adjusted if the council determined his performance to be satisfactory after six months. The council also voted 7 to 2 to authorize the city manager to enter negotiations to lease property on 500 Benbow Road for the Sebastian Medical Museum, with Bellamy-
Small and Matheny opposing. Ezekiel Ben-Israel, executive of the board of directors for the group planning to operate the museum, failed to recognize his group’s own budget when Matheny presented it to him to ask about where their revenue would come from. Matheny pointed out that the city had cut over $900,000 and 18 full-time positions from libraries and museums recently, and he was not confident a monthly financial donation to the Sebastian Medical Museum was the best way to preserve its history, since they had been unable to pay the lease to keep a building before. Bellamy-Small said she was also skeptical of the group, since they could not tell the council how much money they had and appeared unfamiliar with their own budget. The council also voted unanimously to spend $685,000 for site and facade improvements and signage for the Bessemer Shopping Center on Phillips Avenue. The resolution also renamed it the Renaissance Center. It was District 5 Councilmember Tony Wilkins’ first regular meeting, but he was neither welcomed by Perkins nor any other councilmember at the beginning of the meeting. Wilkins was appointed to the council by a 5-to-4 vote, and Perkins cast one of the four against him. Wilkins replaces Trudy Wade, who was elected to the North Carolina Senate and will be sworn in next month.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
out of the downtown was for free and convenient parking, and the policies of the city are making parking downtown more expensive, and less convenient because you have to worry about getting a ticket. How about eliminating the Downtown Business Improvement District tax, which is about an additional 8 cents on the property tax rate? If that were done then the property taxes on all the property downtown would go down by about 6 percent. That’s a good bit of savings. That means rents could go down, or property owners who are struggling just to make ends meet could use that money to improve their buildings.
(Continued from page 5) losing much revenue because no one parks along there. Perkins, who says he loves the downtown, moved in large part because of parking. So it seems reasonable that he would try to get some parking policies changed, and it appears that he is. But Perkins is moving the city in the opposite direction. Parking fines have increased, more enforcement officers are being hired, and parking fees have increased. Parking at night used to be free in the parking decks. Now there is a charge. So one of the big reasons Perkins moved
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The city could also tell the Bryan Foundation to take care of its own park rather than taxing the downtown property owners to provide care and maintenance for Center City Park, which is the private property of the Bryan Foundation. Does the city maintain your yard for you? Why should everyone downtown be taxed to give money to the richest foundation in Greensboro? It would cost less to operate a business downtown if the businesses didn’t have to maintain the park. Instead of trying to make it less expensive to do business downtown, the city is in the process of passing, in pieces, the Downtown Design & Compatibility
Manual that downtown property owners hired an attorney to fight and successfully defeated. It appears the plan of the city under Perkins is to put the design guide into law piecemeal, making it far more difficult to defeat. The city could be taking steps to make working downtown cheaper and more convenient, but it appears to be moving the opposite way, much like Perkins who, rather than use his position to change the culture of the downtown, decided to just flee. In a few years, lawyers and nonprofits may be the only people who can afford to work downtown.
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Thursday, December 20, 2012
Ordinance (Continued from page 5)
Clark also said that some businesses are exempt because the definitions in the zoning ordinance are intended to limit the effect of the ordinance to as few businesses as possible. Another question was why the city shouldn’t just use the nuisance abatement procedures to address the club problems. Clark said that statute only applied to clubs with problems that are so serious that the only solution would be to shut them down. He said judges are hesitant to take such drastic action, and putting people out of business was not the intention of the ordinance. He said the clubs this ordinance is meant to target have crime that is “episodic” in nature rather than chronic and can be remedied with already existing processes and penalties defined in the zoning ordinance, like civil fines or license revocation. Matheny said he had difficulty with that explanation, since it didn’t seem like the proposed ordinance would be much faster or more effective than the existing processes. Under the proposed entertainment
ordinance, violations would go before the Board of Adjustment, and club owners who lost before the Board of Adjustment could appeal the decision to North Carolina Superior Court. Meanwhile the club could continue to operate, as they can during nuisance abatement proceedings. In response to a question raised at a previous meeting as to whether calls for service triggered enforcement of the ordinance, thus incentivizing club operators not to call the police in the event of a crime, Clark said they did not. Clark said only failure to meet the minimum requirements of the ordinance, which involve hiring a minimum number of security guards based on crowd size, would count as a violation. According to the proposed ordinance, the police would review the security plans of the clubs, and if a violation is found the owner would be notified through the Planning and Community Development Department. Several people were allowed to speak toward the end of the meeting. Amiel Rossabi, an attorney who represents several clubs owned by Rocky Scarfone, said he had more issues with the law then his three minutes would allow
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
him to mention. He said that the ordinance targeted too many facilities in its attempt to regulate the handful of clubs causing problems, which, he said, is the opposite of how legislation should be written. “The idea is you’ve got to let some guilty parties out to let innocent businesses thrive,” he said. Thurston Reeder, owner of Thirsty’s 2, expressed frustration that his club, which caters to an older crowd and has almost no criminal history, was still covered by the proposed ordinance while clubs like Club Fifth Season had been dropped off. Eric Robert commented, “We all know why that club is exempt because we all know who it belongs to.” Club Fifth Season is owned by the Koury Corporation. Katei Cranford, a self-described advocate for the “creative culture,” said that businesses already work to ensure safe environments and that the ordinance would burden clubs that didn’t contribute to the crime the Police Department is concerned about. Cranford said she felt “people don’t feel safe in this town because you tell them they’re not.” She said that people who stay away from sexually oriented businesses were unlikely to see much crime.
The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 10 in the council chambers at city hall.
Teeth (Continued from page 7) have no insurance. The number of clients served should increase if the program is successful. Guilford County Commissioner Hank Henning said it’s important for the county to be innovative and creative in the way it provides services to its citizens in need. He said that just because the commissioners will be looking at cutting costs this year doesn’t mean the county is going to abandon its most needy citizens. Henning said Guilford County needs to “take a hard look at services.” However, he added that the county must still look after its most disadvantaged residents. The good news is that, in this one case at least, everyone seems to agree that accepting a national grant from a private institution geared toward helping provide dental care for the underprivileged in the county is a good thing.
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
(Continued from page 26)
made the request since that discussion happened in closed session. Phillips said it didn’t make much sense for the pay increases to be done outside of the budget cycle. He said it would have made a lot more sense if the previous board had budgeted money for the raises in June when the county adopted a budget or had left the raises for the 2013-2014 budget. Trapp, the board’s only new Democratic commissioner, said he wondered why, if the raises were meant to avoid lawsuits, the raises went to department heads rather than to those who seemed more likely to sue the county. Trapp said Guilford County’s legal exposure, if it was there, had existed for years, yet the county, he said, was giving the raises to those “who probably are the least likely to seek legal action.” During the discussion about the raises, some commissioners also wanted to know where the county was getting the money to pay for all these pay increases – since there was no money in the budget for that purpose. Guilford County Budget Director Michael Halford took a seat next to Fuller and attempted to answer that question. Halford said the money was coming primarily from lapsed salaries – that is, money that was budgeted for positions that remain unfilled, or positions that employees have vacated during the budget year. Halford said some departments didn’t have enough excess money in lapsed salaries to pay for the equity adjustments and, therefore, he said, in some cases employees were having to wait for their expected pay increases. Phillips said he was highly displeased with the fact that the new commissioners were having to deal with this in the first place. “This has been a learning experience right out of the gate, which frankly stinks,” he said at the meeting. Phillips said he found many aspects of what had transpired very troubling. He said the timing of the raises in the middle of the budget year, as well as “the expediency” with that the effort was undertaken, raised a lot of questions. He said the fact that something that should have been addressed in public was done in a closed session and never revealed publicly by the county was disturbing. He also said the fact that the county had 2,400 employees and that 15 of the highest paid county employees were near the front of the line for getting pay increases didn’t make much sense to him. Phillips also said he didn’t like being forced into the position of playing either the Grinch or Santa Claus for the effected county department heads. After stating his issues with the raises, Phillips made a motion to rescind the salary increases for the sheriff, the register of deeds and the three employees who work directly for the board – the clerk, the attorney and the finance director. Phillips added that, in the interest of fairness, his motion also included the provision that the board direct the county
Thursday, December 20, 2012
manager to rescind the pay raises to the employees that fall under the manager. Phillips’ motion didn’t get a second, and Shaw announced that the motion died for lack of a second. “I stand alone in the moment,” said a perplexed looking Phillips. Payne then stepped in and said there remained an open question about the five salaries. Payne said he felt it was advisable for the board to take action on the five salaries in order “to erase any question” about the legality of the raises. Cashion made a motion that the board affirm the five pay increases of the sheriff, the register of deeds, the finance director, the attorney and the clerk to the board. No one brought up the director of elections and of social services, whose salaries the board also sets and who also got raises through the illegal backroom process. Coleman has been critical of giving the raises to the department heads, and she told The Rhinoceros Times last month that she spoke out in the Oct. 18 closed session against granting the raises. However, Coleman said it would be unfair at this point to go back and take the pay increases away from the department heads who were already receiving the money. “We are dealing with people’s families here,” Coleman said. Phillips said he’d wrestled with the fairness aspect as well, but he added that many of the county’s employees had been “passed over,” and he said he not only objected to what was done but also to how it was done. Henning said that, like Phillips, he didn’t appreciate the mess the previous board had dropped in the lap of the new commissioners. Henning said the county was likely “opening ourselves up to more litigation because of the way it was done.” “I’m pretty disgusted with the way it all transpired,” Henning said. “It wasn’t done in a transparent way,” he said and he added that he was “very frustrated” by the situation he found himself in at the meeting. However, in the end Henning voted for the raises. Trapp also took the opportunity to criticize the actions of the previous board. He said a lot of things seem to have come about because of the “familiarity” between
county officials that had developed over the last “16 to 20 years,” and he added that, in the coming years, he wanted to see the county’s business done in a more open manner, with no shortcuts taken because of some sort of close-knit relationship between some in the decision making process. At the meeting, newly elected Commissioner Alan Branson also said he did not much like the position he found himself in. “Coming out of the gate, I feel like we’ve been thrown a curve ball,” he said. Branson also said it was his hope that, as the new Board of Commissioners moved forward with the four new members, that it wouldn’t allow this type of questionable activity. The commissioners who had taken part in the closed session where the raises were discussed just seemed to want to get the entire matter behind them. Davis said, “We can spend the next three
Rumors (Continued from page 26) Under Mayor Bill Knight, every meeting started with a prayer. At Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor Robbie Perkins asked everyone in the audience to stand and hold hands. At first he gave no reason, then he said it was for the tragedy in Connecticut. And then he asked for a moment of silence. Councilmember Dianne Bellamy-Small said that the Serenity Prayer meant a lot to her, but of course she didn’t say it. As far as the Greensboro City Council goes, God has left the building. He can’t even be mentioned. --Christmas is a time of giving, which unfortunately also means it is a time of scams. I recently got the list of charitable organizations from the state with the percentage of their budget that goes toward charitable work. It is shocking how many scams there are out there and how many have cropped up over the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. The safest bet is to go with organizations that you know. The Salvation Army and Greensboro (Continued on page 33)
years undoing what the previous board did and not get to the business of the county.” He added, “If this is a mess, as it has been described, then undoing it would simply create another mess. We’re doing the work of the county – it’s hard to move forward if you’re going in reverse.” When the vote was taken on the motion to affirm the raises for the five department heads, only Phillips and Branson voted no. Fuller made the point several times in the meeting that the county had about 2,400 employees and she only had one human resources employee available to conduct these evaluations full time. At the Dec. 13 meeting, the board voted unanimously for staff to explore the cost of having a paid consultant either take over or assist the Human Resources Department with the work of evaluating the county’s equity pay. The board will revisit the matter at their annual retreat on Thursday, Jan. 10. The day after the Dec. 13 meeting, Henning said he didn’t appreciate the situation the new commissioners were placed in but that they had to fix the problem and, he said, taking the raises away might have made legal action against the county more likely. “We had to fix it,” Henning said, adding that it wasn’t a pleasant task, especially with it being his first time out as a commissioner. “It rubbed me the wrong way,” Henning said of the whole experience.
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Illegal (Continued from page 1) meet whenever it wants, as long as they don’t send out notices that it is an official meeting. Shah-Khan argued that because the clerk didn’t send out notices that this meeting of the City Council in the council chambers was an official meeting. It was not. Even though the entire council was present, and, as he admitted, they were discussing city business and were there to have their official photograph taken, it was not an official meeting and not subject to the North Carolina open meetings law. Shah-Khan’s legal reason flies in the face of the North Carolina open meetings law,
Security (Continued from page 8) The suggestions also include reassuring children that they are safe, reminding them that trustworthy people are in charge, telling children the truth but not dwelling on the scope of the tragedy or its emotional impact, and varying discussions about the shootings to make them appropriate to the age of the child. Carr said that the Police and Sheriff’s departments have increased patrols around Guilford County schools, particularly elementary schools. Police officers and Guilford County sheriff’s deputies, called school resource officers, are permanently stationed at middle schools and high schools in Guilford County. School board member Amos Quick said he was contacted Tuesday by a staff member at an elementary school, who said that the lockdown drills were causing a little bit of chaos in schools. Quick said, “It frightened the kids very much, in that they thought something actual was happening.” Quick said he knew the drills need to be taken seriously. “Agreed,” Carr said. “It’s always a balancing act.” Carr said that most Guilford County schools had already held lockdown drills and didn’t need to hold new ones after the shootings. She said the school system has an emergency management team and has plans for different types of emergencies. “Will any one thing prevent that type of situation?” she said. “I think that’s probably beyond the ken of this discussion.” The problem with heightened states of security, whether at schools, airports or government buildings, is that it is impossible to maintain a state of alert indefinitely. Quick questioned the sustainability of the school system’s heightened security. He said, “As tends to happen in America, by New Year’s Day, we’ll be talking about something else.” Quick said the school system may have to spend some money to make schools more secure. “The answer to the safety of our students can’t be, ‘We don’t have the money,’” he (Continued on page 34)
Thursday, December 20, 2012
the interpretations by the North Carolina School of Government, which is generally municipal friendly in its interpretation of laws, and the legal decisions of the courts. The occasion for this meeting, which was “informal” and thus not subject to the North Carolina open meetings law according to Shah-Khan, was the official City Council portrait. Each councilmember was notified at least twice that they needed to be at city hall in the council chambers at 4:30 p.m. for the official photo. ShahKhan ruled that having the official portrait was not “transacting the public business” and therefore was an “informal” or social gathering that did not require public notice, and armed security guards were posted at the doors to keep the public out. The council, while waiting for their picture to be taken was doing what councilmembers do when they are together – they were talking about city business, deciding on strategies on how to get things done and generally conducting the business of the City Council. While Shah-Khan was explaining to me that this was only an informal meeting of the City Council and a majority was not actually gathered together, five councilmembers – a majority – were standing in a rough circle discussing the Duke Energy situation, something a couple of hours later the council took action on. It is going to be a huge waste of time and money if the people of Greensboro have to take the City of Greensboro to court to force the City Council to do what it has done for 20 years, which is meet and do its business in public as required by law. Amanda Martin, an attorney with Stevens Martin Vaughan and Tadych, who represents the North Carolina Press Association, when asked what constituted an informal meeting said, “There is no such thing as an informal meeting.” She said that if a majority of the City Council were present and they were discussing city business then it was an official meeting and should be open to the public. When I told Martin that the decision made by the city was to allow me and, of course, the photographers into the council chambers but keep the public at bay with locked doors and armed security guards, Martin said there was no exception or provision of the open meetings law that would make that situation legal. Martin said, “There is no situation in which you should be allowed in and no one else.” Martin said that the law said, “a social meeting or other informal assembly.” She said that the exception was for events like weddings, or any social gathering where a majority of council might be present but was not there to discuss or conduct business. After the portrait, Perkins said he assumed the meeting for the portrait was an official meeting and that the public and press had been properly notified. He said he couldn’t think of any reason for the meeting to be closed to the public and was surprised to find out afterwards that it had been.
Perkins said he arrived about 10 minutes late and by that time I was already in the room, so he had no reason to think the public wasn’t allowed in. Unfortunately for Greensboro, the city is not run by the mayor or the City Council, it’s run by the staff, which has started making arbitrary decisions on when the public is allowed in the council chambers and even which door the public has to enter the building from in order to qualify to go to a City Council meeting. Sometimes it is the front door, sometimes it is the side door. If you enter the wrong door you are sent back outside to walk around the building and enter through the correct door. What happened on Tuesday is the council did the city’s business the way it did the city’s business back before the open meetings law was passed. In the 1960s, the City Council would hold a private closed-door meeting just prior to its public meeting. All the decisions would be made in the meeting closed to the public, and then most of the votes at the public meeting would be unanimous with very little discussion because everything had been hashed out in the back room. On Tuesday that is what the City Council did, except I was there for the closeddoor meeting. However, I don’t know if Councilmember Nancy Vaughan would have been so bold with her excellent “cease and desist” motion aimed at Duke Energy if she had not had the time to discuss the matter with her fellow councilmembers
Throats (Continued from page 4) upgrade facilities at Hagan-Stone was in the works as well. Coleman asked, “The work done there was minimal, right?” Woodard responded that the work so far was just the beginning. “There’s much more coming up,” Woodard told Coleman. Woodard said that roughly $800,000 in improvements were planned for HaganStone Park – some of that being state grant money that was in the pipeline. However, Coleman didn’t seem satisfied. “Do you know when that work will begin on Hagan-Stone Park?” she asked. Vonda Martin, a representative of the state who oversees park grant money, told Coleman the Hagan-Stone Park project is expected to be funded in April of next year. She said Hagan-Stone was “on the short list” for a state grants but Coleman told Martin that didn’t give her much comfort. “With a new governor coming in,” Coleman said, “I’m just wondering what ‘short list’ means.” Despite all the questions, the transfer of the money to the Northeast Park project passed on an 8-to-1 vote, with Henning casting the sole no vote. It may turn out to be an interesting conversation on the county’s parks that takes place at the commissioners retreat. On Jan. 1 the county is taking over those
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and known that she had near unanimous support. Having their official portrait taken in a room behind locked doors, protected from the prying eyes of the public by armed security guards, isn’t going to cause the city much damage. But it does send a message loud and clear that this council is not interested in openness and transparency. Any one of the councilmembers could have told the staff to open the doors. Perkins was late and didn’t know what had transpired, but every councilmember was present and none had enough of a problem meeting behind locked doors to do something about it. The open meetings law exists to protect the public and in this case was trampled on by city staff and the City Council. The pertinent part of the open meetings law states, “’Official meeting’ means a meeting, assembly, or gathering together at any time or place or the simultaneous communication by conference telephone or other electronic means of a majority of the members of a public body for the purpose of conducting hearings, participating in deliberations, or voting upon or otherwise transacting the public business within the jurisdiction, real or apparent, of the public body. However, a social meeting or other informal assembly or gathering together of the members of a public body does not constitute an official meeting unless called or held to evade the spirit and purposes of this Article.”
operations and putting about 30 park employees on its payroll. However, on Thursday, Jan. 10, at the retreat – 10 days after that massive transfer of labor takes place – the new board may be debating the wisdom of that move. The commissioners also named some commissioners and former commissioners to the county’s boards. Former Commissioner Skip Alston was named to the Board of Public Health, while former Commissioner Billy Yow was named to the county’s Board of Adjustments. Trapp was appointed to the Board of Social Services. One bit of disagreement at the new meeting came over the 8:30 a.m. start time Shaw had set for the retreat. Coleman asked, “Do we have to begin at 8:30?” Henning said jokingly: “You want to do it earlier?” Shaw said, “I guess we could go to 9.” Trapp said he appreciated Coleman’s suggestion to start the retreat later. “I got into real estate so I wouldn’t have to get up at 8:30,” Trapp said. Shaw decided it would be fine if all the county officials got to sleep in a little longer that day. The truth is that the retreats rarely start on time anyway, since the group usually waits on several straggling bleary-eyed commissioners before getting them underway. That retreat will be the next meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
N.C. Dietetics Board Goes After Michelle Obama (a CJ Parody)
Board ups aggression Hagan since court ruling dismissing lawsuit
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, December 20, 2012
(Continued from page 6) The water authority argued that the hydroelectric plant owners didn’t have a sufficiently defined interest in the water By Lief reen flow of e. theGDeep River, and that the trial Nutrition Correspondent court should have taken into account the RALEIGH permit the North Carolina Environmental he North Carolinaissued Board DiManagement Commission theofwater etetics/Nutrition has Dam decided authority for the Randleman and that First Obama’s the state law on Lady dams Michelle impounding water. advocacyrights of healthy eating amounts to Riparian are derived from common law, and statutes generally trumpa common practicing nutrition without license, law. which is illegal in North Carolina. In other words, water authority argued Buoyed bythe a recent court decision that, if the hydroelectric plant owners to dismiss a suit brought againstwere the going they should done boardtobycomplain, a diet blogger whohave likewise so during dam permitting process, and had beenthe targeted by the state board, that the State of North Carolina wouldn’t officials say they will become even have permitted a dam had it not expected more aggressive toward anyone who the thing to dam up a river. gives unlicensed diet advice. The appeals court found that the plant Board Director Charla Burill told owners did not have to contest the dam Carolinabecause Journalthey the were first not ladychallenging has been permit, sent a cease-and-desist letter the right of the water authority because to draw she gave nutrition advice onbut onemerely of her water from the Deep River, many recent campaign North asking for payment for trips theirtoloss of Carolina. power. generating Over the past five years,wrote the nuJudge J. Douglas McCullough for the Appeals Court, issuance of a permit trition board has “The investigated nearly 50 does not alter the rights of the property individuals or organizations — includowners to seektrainers, just compensation.” ing personal nurses, and even For now, it seems that the only figure on Duke Integrated Medicine, a wellness the table for that compensation is the $5 center — that have offered advice million, to be spread among the six members about what people should eat. of the water authority: Greensboro, High
Point, Archdale, Randleman, Jamestown ordinance’s permitted use schedule and and Randolph County. table of off-street parking requirements. Baggett said, “We assume and hope it is The net effect of the text amendment, high.” which was also supported by the Uptowne The second Dec. 14 North Carolina High Point Association, a group of business Supreme Court decision Baggett warned owners on North Main Street between could affect High Point was the court’s State and Ray avenues, would have been to ruling in Hest Technologies Inc. and prohibit new video gambling businesses in International Internet Technologies LLC Uptowne because they didn’t have enough v. State of North Carolina. In that ruling, parking. At the City Council meeting, the the NC Supreme Court upheld a state law outlawing video sweepstakes, reversing earlier rulings by the North Carolina Court of Appeals and a trial court that the law (Continued from page 31) violated the First Amendment. The lower courts found the law overbroad Urban Ministry do a lot for the poor in – that limited speech the First Greensboro, asto doserve manycease-and-desist of our churches. State itDietetics Boardprotected nutritionby enforcement officers tried Amendment as well as unprotected speech Unless you are willing and able to check papers to Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, but – and that video games are expressive out an organization, then it’s to stick were unable to get past Secret Service agents in the Time Warner Cablebest Arena. (CJ speech,by like movies or songs. with the tried and true. photo Don Carrington) The NC Supreme Court overruled the - - reaches a naObama ment became a national when CJ CJ. “But Mrs. lower courts by finding story that the video tionwide hasn’t taken reported onlaw thelimits courtprimarily battle with Steve internetaudience. can be soShe wonderful. There sweepstakes conduct – The was a poem that we memorized in grammar a single continuing education credit Cooksey, the Charlotte-area blogger, gambling – with only incidental restrictions that Ion couldorganic only remember two lines program farming, and who sued the board on First Amend- school to speech. of, but I’m happy to say I remembered my still she won’t keep her mouth shut ment grounds, saying it censored his Baggett told the councilmembers, two lines perfectly. They are: “Intolerance about mealworms and compost. All website when it urged him to remove “Therefore, as of this moment, internet being ma’am, a state/No this talk about wholetolerant grains man andcould root an advice column from the site. sweepstakes games are illegal.” tolerate.” Periodically over the past 50 OnlyBya few of the parlors have opened in singling out the first lady, vegetables is getting downright danyears I have tried to get further but failed. High Point, but other business owners have however, the board has ratcheted its gerous. We’re afraid Sasha and Malia asked the Google about those the complained about them.efforts at policing I[the Obamas’ daughters] mightlines get the normally aggressive other day and found them in “The Angry The City Council on Sept. 17, 2012 frightening notion that they can pack a foodie talk to a whole new level. by Phyllis McGinley. Now I just considered text amendment the close High Man” healthy lunch without first consulting “We anormally don’t topay have to work learning the rest of the poem, Point development ordinance proposed by a licensed nutritionist. scary, I tell attention to people who live outside which was my fourth gradeIt’s assignment. the HighCarolina,” Point CityNan Project add video North E. to Staight, the you.” (Continued on page 35) sweepstakes parlors to the development
The board’s aggressive enforce-
board’s director of enforcement, told
Staight said Obama’s “Let’s
Page 33 Move!” initiative was particularly troubling. The project’s website has an entire section about food and nutrition titled “Eat Healthy!” groups“The werepage represented Jaythis Wagner, opens by with senchairman of the Uptowne High Pointa tence: ‘Parents and caregivers play Association chairman of healthy the City key role inand notvice only making Project. choices for children and teaching chilOpposing Wagner was then dren to make healthy choices for themCouncilmember Latimer Alexander, selves,’ Staight said. “It offers a set of who exhibited a newfound purist streak dietary guidelines. It’s completely irof economic libertarianism, arguing responsible and outrageous for a layferociously against the text amendment as person to say that, and it violates our something that unfairly singled out video regulations.” gambling. attempted to deliver TheThe Cityboard Council voted unanimously its warning letter to the first to refer the text amendment tolady the durCity ing September’s Democratic National Council’s now-defunct Planning, Economic Convention and in Charlotte, Staight Development Informationbut Technology said the Secret Service rebuffed her enCommittee, where it died. forcement attempts. Baggett said that High Point has already Since then, from she said, Obama received a letter attorneys for has the been careful to schedule campaign video gambling industry, saying that visthe its to Norththey Carolina on short noticethe so companies represent will bypass she by could land, give quickgames. pep talkThe to law modifying theira video supporters, and then state belaw defines video gamesleave very the specifically. fore couldBaggett get to her. “Sonutrition the gameofficers continues,” said. “Whether theyadmits will continue to operate Staight the board’s enand invite prosecution, I don’t My forcement efforts grew moreknow. difficult advice to High is to wait and see.” in October as Point President Obama’s campaign saw North Carolina voters warm toCelebrations Republican•challenger Mitt Romney. The Rhinoceros Times “When Obama for America wrote off North Carolina, it became Matt Young obvious that the first lady wasn’t go& Catherine ing to return,” Staight told CJ in late Ruday October. “We’re worried, because if Obama loses the election, they’re movBoomshakalaka! ing to Hawaii, and there’s no way we We got engaged in Puerto Rico Zip Lining! CJ can get her.”
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Security (Continued from page 32) said. “This is not just a money grab. This is something important.” The school board also approved a plan to assign autistic and other special-needs students who now attend McIver Education Center to two new facilities for the 20132014 school year. Special-needs students in kindergarten through eighth grade will enroll in a new building on the joint campus of Falkener Elementary School and Hairston Middle School, and students in ninth grade through age 22 will enroll in a new wing at Ragsdale High School. Guilford County Schools planned three new autism wings as part of its $457
Thursday, December 20, 2012
million construction program, funded by bonds approved by voters in May 2008. In 2009, after advice from the Guilford County Schools Exceptional Children Department, the school board decided that two larger facilities would serve specialneeds students better than three smaller ones. Most of the school board’s discussion of the staff assignment plan for the new specialneeds facilities concerned transportation. Several school board members questioned the busing times for the plan. Guilford County Schools Transportation Director Jeff Harris said he had analyzed the transportation times and concluded that, although some students will have longer rides, overall, special-needs students will
Beep (Continued from page 25) for a little over five years now, and I have seen almost no variation in your editorials. I’d like to know if you’re ever going to run an article that doesn’t paint Democrats and the Obama administration in a negative light in your editorial column again. You used put such contrasting things in there when I first started reading. But, then, once Obama started running for president back in ’08 you just switched over to the most unpleasantly vindictive things. It’s like you just got this one great mad on for the man. This used to be such a good
paper. Now it’s just a hate spiel. That’s all I wanted to say. %%% I need to thank the person that dumped the puppies into a garbage bin behind the restaurant on West Friendly Ave. They almost died. But I want you to know the minute I laid eyes on one of them, a friend has the other two, the three dogs you threw away, one is welcomed and loved in a home. I was looking for a dog, and I know that it will give it many years of love. And it will give us so much love in return. Merry Christmas.
spend less time on buses under the plan the school board adopted. New school board member Linda Welborn suggested sending school buses on interstate highways to save time. The state allows school systems to do so, but Guilford County Schools doesn’t. She
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
said, “I’m thinking we could get on the expressway if we weren’t in peak hours.” Harris replied, “I’d prefer not to.” School buses are speed-capped at 45 miles an hour. Harris said that slow-moving buses on highways create a hazard.
(Continued from page 2)
eaten supper, but we gathered in the kitchen, talking and wondering about Mr. Smith and why he was walking in front of our house. It seemed like an eternity to us before Mom came in and said, “Your Dad has something to say to you.” Dad came in and said, “Your Mother and I are going to drive my friend home. But before we go, we’re going to split our Christmas dinner and gifts down the middle with the Smiths. Turkey and all. Mr. Smith and his wife have three children approximately the ages of you three older children. He has no job and no immediate prospects. I’d like for you, Mary Lou, Dick and Bob to consider sharing your gifts with the Smith children.” Mary Lou and I looked dubiously at each other. The turkey dinner was one thing, but our Christmas presents – that was an entirely different prospect. But before we could say a word, my 4-year-old brother Paul piped up. He said, “It’s not fair if they get to give half their gifts, I want to give half of
mine.” While Mom fed Dad and Mr. Smith in the kitchen, we kids went to the pile of presents under the tree and loaded half of our wrapped gifts into laundry bags. Mr. Smith came in and thanked us with tears on his cheeks. We felt plenty thanked. Dad somehow managed to cut the raw turkey in half and we all helped carry things to the car. Mary Lou was our babysitter when Mom and Dad drove Mr. Smith to his house. We stayed up late and when Mom and Dad got home we wanted to know all about the Smith children. Mom said they were sweet, a little younger than us but about the same sizes. She said Mrs. Smith was a lovely and gracious lady and that they all really appreciated our generosity. Still, giving up half our presents hadn’t been easy and I said, “Mom, we don’t even know what gifts we gave away to the Smiths. Mom said, “The gifts you never got will be the ones you’ll never forget.” Mom was right.
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
I say the Republicans should get a running start and jump over the fiscal cliff with both feet. The government is borrowing over onethird of the money it spends every day. In very rough terms the federal government collects about $2 trillion annually in revenue and spends about $3 trillion or sometimes $3.5 trillion. It is time to go over the fiscal cliff, to jump the shark, to do whatever it takes to get some real spending reform in Washington. The Duke Endowment is the largest private foundation in the Southeast. It was established in 1924 and just passed the $3 billion mark in spending. So it has taken the Duke Endowment 88 years to spend $3 billion. The federal government spends $3 billion in about 7 hours according to one set of figures. Federal spending is so out of control nobody really knows how much it spends or where or how. From the way he is negotiating it appears that, despite what he says, President Barack Hussein Obama does not think the country has a spending problem. The problem according to Obama’s position is that the rich people are not paying enough in taxes. Obama can tax the rich people down to nothing and it’s not going to balance the federal budget. The problem has nothing to do with taxes; it’s a spending problem. Whether rich people pay 33 percent in income tax or 35 percent or 92 percent isn’t going to solve the fiscal problems this country is having. There are some solutions. One is to get the economy going again. Obama’s idea of getting the economy going is to hire more government workers, and that really doesn’t help. Hiring more government workers, even if you don’t borrow the money to pay them, just moves money around, but it doesn’t create anything. One thing that is widely accepted is that tax cuts stimulate the economy. Tax cuts are an incentive for people to work to make more money because, if they do, they get to keep it. Also, tax cuts put more money in the private sector. Right now our governments are doing well. Government employees are well paid. There are lots of jobs, with great benefits and unbelievable retirement plans. The government doesn’t need help; it’s the private sector that needs a shot in the arm. The tax increases that Obama wants aren’t going to have much effect on the deficit, but they can have a disastrous effect on a struggling private sector. Taking more money from the people, even from rich people, and giving it to the incredibly bloated government is not a solution. But Obama is up against the Stupid Party, so it is beginning to appear like the Republicans are going to shoot themselves in both feet and then stuff those feet in their mouth and surrender, but hopefully not.
,,, After the horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, everybody wants to do something to prevent anything like that
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from ever happening again. The easy answer is banning the type of gun used in the attack. Norway has strict gun control laws, yet last year a lone gunman went to a summer camp and killed 69 people, mostly children. The problem is not guns, it’s society. We have made some horrific choices regarding people with mental illness. There is no doubt that Adam Lanza should not have had access to guns, or any dangerous weapons. From the reports I’ve read he was known to be violent and had some form of mental illness. Rather than blame the guns, it seems to make more sense to blame a society that takes a young man who needs help and puts him out in society to fend for himself. Some people need protection from society, and society needs to be protected from some people. I know nothing about the mental health system in Connecticut, but I do know that the mental health system in North Carolina is an embarrassment. The mental health department for Guilford County, which used to operate out of a big building on Friendly Avenue, will soon be headquartered in West End, North Carolina, and that is supposed to improve mental health services for the people of Guilford County. It is absurd. Talking to people who run the system, the people who are caught up in the system, and the people who observe the system, I haven’t heard anyone ever say that it is better now than it used to be. Shouldn’t it be getting better? A number of years ago the people of this country decided that something had to be done about the number of people who were being killed by drunk drivers. What society didn’t do is find the type of car that most drunk drivers drove and outlaw those cars. In fact, that solution even sounds silly. What society did was make the laws against driving drunk more severe, increased enforcement and did a lot of advertising. When I was young no one had ever heard of a designated driver. Has drunk driving been eliminated? Not by a long shot. But it appears that the tide has turned and things are getting better, not worse. The US government has vast resources. It’s hard to believe that if it trained those resources on the shooters, not the guns, that something couldn’t be done. Banning assault weapons is banning a gun, not for what it does but for the way it looks. An assault weapon is made to look like a military weapon but operates the same as a hunting rifle. Banning guns because of the way they look is not a solution.
,,, The Obama administration thinks that the American people are so dumb that they will believe that the secretary of state of the United States of America had a fainting spell so severe that she cracked her head on the floor, or something hard, and suffered a concussion but didn’t go to the hospital for a check-up, tests or just to make sure that
her brain was intact. The incident was so severe according to the official story that Hillary Clinton could not appear before the joint congressional committee investigating the murder of the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans. It was a very convenient fall for Clinton because she did not want to have to testify under oath about what she knew. The State Department might just as well have said that the dog ate her paperwork or that she didn’t have the right shoes for a congressional committee. The committee so far has found that the security for the American compound in Benghazi was inadequate. Really, we needed a joint congressional committee to discover that a compound that was overrun with militant terrorists in minutes and then burned, killing the ambassador and another embassy employee was inadequate? Not allowing the secretary of state to testify, thereby not providing any real answers to the committee, it would appear the coverup on Benghazi is in full force. The fiscal crisis is a great smokescreen for Obama for Benghazi. It doesn’t appear that Obama has negotiated at all, but he is using the negotiations for all they are worth because when they end then he could be asked about Benghazi.
,,, Even for the News & Record editorial page – which has shoe-sole high standards – going after the soon to be administration of Gov. Pat McCrory for having too many patronage jobs is low. Sunday’s lead editorial was downright silly. It noted that McCrory will be the first Republican governor in 20 years, but failed to note that it will be the first time in over 120 years that the Republicans will control not only the governor’s mansion, but the General Assembly and the Supreme Court as well. This will be far different from the administration of the last Republican governor, Jim Martin, where the legislature did everything it could to restrict the power of the governor. But what makes the editorial so silly is that appointing 1,000 Republicans to state jobs is not going to change anything. Because the overwhelming majority of state employees are Democrats. Sure, you have a few hardheads who work for the state government who are Republicans, but if you go to Dallas you can find a Redskins fan. The Democrats have been packing the state government with their cronies for over 100 years and the News & Record has the audacity to complain about 1,000 Republican appointees. It should be 10,000 or 20,000. The state has over 135,000 employees. The N&R is complaining because after over 100 years of being locked out the Republicans are going to take less than 1 percent of the jobs. The Democrats in this state have had everything for so long that they can’t even see that there is another side to the story.
By John Hammer There are Republicans who have been locked out of jobs for years simply because of their political party. Is it going to harm anyone for people looking for jobs in state government to suddenly have doors open for them because they are Republicans? People should not get jobs because of their political party, but for over 100 years in North Carolina the Democrats have run state government like their own employment agency. Now to complain because the Republicans are taking a measly 1,000 jobs would be beneath most newspapers. But, alas, it isn’t beneath ours.
,,, Words, when used well, are so powerful. I was reading in The New York Times about the relationship between Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Obama. It had the phrase that after Obama’s first two years in office when Republicans “seized” control of the House that Obama had not been able to get anything done. But it was the word “seized” that caught my eye. The Republicans seized control. Seized from whom? From the Democrats, of course, who rightfully should be in control of the House. Seize, the first definition is “to grasp suddenly and forcibly: take or grab.” And then down at definition five we find “confiscate.” What the Republicans actually did was win control of the House in free and fair elections. The control of the House wasn’t seized from anyone. It wasn’t confiscated. It was given to the Republicans, not “confiscated” from the Democrats. In a long article it is not a remarkable word choice, except that it is so common that it is apparently how many (or, judging from the last election, most) Americans think of Republicans. Word choices like that in article after article in newspaper and magazine after newspaper and magazine all written and edited by liberals, put Republicans at a huge disadvantage. Even when Republicans manage to get their message out, it is often obscured by the language of those telling the story.
(Continued from page 33) ---
Sometimes I’m thankful that my redheaded companion is no longer with us. She was always nervous this time of year because the sun went down before suppertime. She said that just wasn’t right and worried that the sun was burning out. I can only imagine what she would be going through this year when the shortest day of the year is also the day that the world is supposed to end, just as she had long suspected.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro