The Rhinoceros Times
Vol. XXIII No. 2
© Copyright 2012 The Rhinoceros Times
Greensboro, North Carolina
Thursday, January 10, 2013
County Losing Baby, Bath Water by Scott D. Yost county editor
Guilford County government is seeing a radical changing of the guard and a mass exit of experience in a very short period of time – and that became even more true last week when Guilford County Assistant Manager Sharisse Fuller, who’s also the county’s human resources director, turned in her letter of resignation, effective Thursday, Feb. 28. In addition, longtime Guilford County Information Services Director Barbara Weaver is retiring at the end of this month. Guilford County Manager Brenda Jones Fox had previously announced she would be stepping down at the end of January. In addition to Guilford County losing its manager, assistant manager, human resources director and information services (Continued on page 32)
Photo by John Hammer
Gov. Pat McCrory (right) spent Tuesday morning at the Elm Street Center in downtown Greensboro meeting and greeting people. He also signed a bunch of stuff. Here he is signing photos for Marcus Kindley, former chairman of the Guilford County Republican Party. See story page 2 and more photos page 4.
Republicans Talking Tax Reform by john hammer editor
The newly elected North Carolina General Assembly was sworn in this week. It is decidedly Republican, with the Republicans having a 31-to-19 advantage in the state Senate and a 67 to 52 advantage in the state House. There is also a huge change for
2013 in that North Carolina has a Republican governor. Former Gov. Bev “Dumpling” Perdue vetoed quite a few bills in the last session and even more bills were never introduced because the Republicans knew they would never make it past the governor’s desk. Now the legislature has a
governor who will be working with them, not against them. The General Assembly, the governor’s office and the North
The Taxman Doesn’t Careth by Scott D. Yost county editor
Stores open up extra checkout lanes on Black Friday and the Post Office has extra help on hand on April 15 to collect all the lastminute tax returns, however, the
Rhino Rumors From staff and wire reports
Photo by John Hammer
District 59 state Rep. Jon Hardister with his parents, Wayne and Carolyn, being sworn into office last week by North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby at Starmount Country Club. Close to 200 attended the swearing-in ceremony.
Carolina Supreme Court are all Republican dominated. Republicans are expected to get (Continued on page 28)
They say the most dangerous place to be is between some local politicians and a camera, but you can’t say that about Guilford County (Continued on page 25)
Guilford County Tax Department apparently felt no need to prepare for an increased number of county residents paying their property taxes in the days leading up to the (Continued on page 7)
Inside this issue High Point News............ 6 Entertainment Guide...... 9 Uncle Orson Reviews... 10 Puzzles............ 12, 28, 29 Yost Column................ 13 Scott’s Night Out.......... 14 Rhino Real Estate........ 15 Letters to the Editor..... 23 Editorial Cartoon.......... 34 under the hammer....... 35
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Greensboro Lines up to Greet McCrory by john hammer editor
Gov. Pat McCrory came home to Greensboro for the first time as governor on Tuesday, Jan. 8, and a couple of hundred delighted folks turned out to say hello. Certainly, there were some in the crowd who had not supported McCrory, but everyone seemed delighted to see him and he seemed delighted to see everyone. But McCrory’s face would really light up when he spotted an old friend in the crowd. When McCrory speaks around here where he grew up, he periodically interrupts himself with a shout out to someone in the audience he has just recognized. His enthusiasm is contagious. One thing that is certain with McCrory as governor – North Carolina is not going to sit back and wait for things to happen. You don’t have to be around McCrory long to realize that he likes to keep moving and get things done. And he has Charlotte as proof he knows how to get things done. He was mayor for 14 years, and during that time Charlotte went through explosive growth. At the reception Tuesday at the Elm Street Center in downtown Greensboro, McCrory first did interviews with local television stations and daily newspapers, but not weeklies. (Continued on page 24)
City Needs to Reign in Duke Energy by john hammer editor
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The problem with Duke Energy sending crews into neighborhoods to cut down trees without the permission of the property owners is going to come up at the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15. I have had my own run-ins with Duke Energy about trees in the past and have what is a partial solution. We live in a society of laws. We have laws that tell you how fast you can drive your car, when to cross the street, when and where to send your children to school, where you can smoke and even when and where you can pray out loud. But there is an entity in our society that appears not subject to law, and that is Duke Energy. Duke Energy can send people on your property to cut down your trees and apparently there is nothing that can be done to stop them. Why can’t the City Council govern people cutting trees for Duke Energy with laws like it does the rest of us? Just last summer I heard chainsaws behind my house and when I walked into my backyard to investigate I found about 10 men, several of them high up in trees on my (Continued on page 26)
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Gilbert’s Not Going To Take It Anymore by Scott D. Yost county editor
Guilford County Board of Elections Director George Gilbert is threatening to sue Guilford County over what he argues is the county’s failure to adhere to state law, which requires the county pay its election director a salary commensurate with that of similarly situated counties in the state. Gilbert has acquired the services of Greensboro attorney Seth Cohen, of Smith, James, Rowlett & Cohen, who has notified the county that his client, Gilbert, hasn’t been compensated fairly by the county for years, and the letter requests that Guilford County provide Gilbert with a raise retroactive for three years. Cohen’s letter, which was hand-delivered to the county on Thursday, Dec. 20, requests that Guilford County pay Gilbert a lump sum of $42,103, which, the letter states, Gilbert considers a “reasonable resolution to this unfortunate problem.” That sum, according to the letter, is the total of a cash settlement of $35,298 in suggested back pay combined with adjustments to Gilbert’s 401(k) plan and related benefits he would have been entitled to if his salary had been at that level for the last three years. Gilbert, who has announced that he’s retiring on March 1, currently makes $99,319 a year as the county’s elections director. The letter was addressed to Chairman of
the Board of Commissioners Linda Shaw, and copies were delivered to Vice Chairman Bill Bencini and Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne. Cohen told The Rhinoceros Times that, since the Board of Commissioners is the legal body that sets the elections director’s salary, that board would be the defendant named if a lawsuit is necessary. Cohen said the matter was unrelated to a recent controversial round of raises in which Guilford County increased the salaries of 15 department heads whom county staff claim weren’t being paid equitably. Gilbert was one of 15 directors who got a raise after a controversial secret backroom meeting of the Board of Commissioners, at which the raises were supposedly approved. As a result, Gilbert got a raise of $1,947 a year – the smallest of the 15 raises. Cohen said it’s important to understand that Gilbert’s current action is totally unrelated to the recent equity raises county staff said were meant to create more parity among Guilford County employees. “This has nothing to do with that,” Cohen said. Instead, he said, the action is the result of years of Gilbert not being compensated in a manner required by state law. Cohen added that he’s optimistic that the matter can be settled without a lawsuit. Cohen’s letter to the county, which
begins “Dear Ms. Shaw,” states: “This firm represents George Gilbert, who as you know is the longtime Elections Director for the Guilford County Board of Elections. The purpose of this letter is to try to resolve an unfortunate problem with regard to Mr. Gilbert’s salary over the past few years. After an exhaustive review by Mr. Gilbert, it has become clear that his salary is not commensurate with the salary paid to directors in counties similarly situated, and thus the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is not in compliance with N.C.G.S.163-35(c). Hopefully, this matter can be resolved before Mr. Gilbert’s pending retirement on March 1.” The statute Cohen refers to in the letter relates specifically to the pay of county elections directors in the state. The statute states that the salary of a county’s elections director shall be set by the Board of Commissioners – based on recommendations by the county’s Board of Elections – and the statute also requires that the pay of the elections director “shall be commensurate with the salary paid to directors in counties similarly situated and similar in population and number of registered voters.” Cohen’s letter points out that county elections directors are “unique” in county government in that they are hired and fired by state elections officials – based largely
on recommendations by county elections boards – yet the election directors’ salaries are set by boards of commissioners. “If the Board of Commissioners does not comply with N.C.G.S. 163-35,” the letter reads, “Mr. Gilbert has the legal right to seek redress.” Cohen’s letter goes on to say: “Obviously, Mr. Gilbert would prefer to settle this matter amicably, and given Mr. Gilbert’s analysis and his reasonable request, he is confident it will. Mr. Gilbert has served Guilford County for 25 years, and I believe you will agree that it would be virtually impossible to find anyone who works with Mr. Gilbert who does not speak highly of him, both professionally and personally.” According to Cohen, Gilbert has been falling out of line with comparable pay for elections directors around the state for the last six years. However, Cohen told The Rhinoceros Times that, based on the statute of limitations, three years is the maximum amount of time Gilbert would be able to collect for. Cohen’s letter to Shaw states that, given the fact that Gilbert has been underpaid since 2006, the Board of Commissioners may have “an ethical duty to make Mr. Gilbert whole beyond the three years,” but Cohen added, “I do not believe there is any legal requirement [to go back further than (Continued on page 29)
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Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Greensboro Welcomes Gov. McCrory
Photos by John Hammer
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Airport Area High School Gets Kibosh by alex jakubsen Staff Writer
The Guilford County Board of Education voted not to build an airport area high school and middle school at its Tuesday, Jan. 8 meeting. The vote was preceded by a public comment period where several speakers on behalf of High Point Central High School criticized spending money on a new school when existing schools are badly in need of repairs and renovations. A lack of classrooms and a lack of adequate space in the High Point Central cafeteria and media center were common complaints made by the speakers. Anthony Sedberry suggested that $40 million of the $75 million bond funds that would be spent on the airport area high school be earmarked for improvements to High Point Central. Other suggestions from speakers included relocating The Academy at Central currently in the Tomlinson building on the High Point Central campus. One of the proponents of that idea was Keesha Pluim, who said she wanted both schools to get what they need. The recommendation from the schools administration was to acquire land for the airport area high school and middle school and “consider realignment of the target area, based upon long-range school enrollment trends.” Chief Information
Officer Terrence Young later said that “realignment of the target area” referred to redistricting. Board member Calverna Foster asked, “You are saying there is no need to build a high school there right now, but it is prudent to acquire the land?” Foster brought up the overcrowding at High Point Central. “Is it not prudent to look for land to alleviate that overcrowding, before we look for land just to have?” Director of Facilities Planning Donna Bell replied that the original intent of the bond, which was approved by voters in 2008, was to alleviate overcrowding at Northwest High School. Board member Ed Price asked if there had been any thought of putting an addition on Northwest High School instead of building another area high school. Bell indicated that was a possibility but would involve the board reassessing the design capacity of schools. School board member Nancy Routh said that enrollment in schools would continue to grow and that the board should move forward expecting to have to build more space. She said she did not think the overcrowding problems were exclusive to High Point Central. Board member Jeff Belton said that the schools were overcrowded countywide, and that the new conservative Board of
Commissioners may be unlikely to approve selling bonds for projects in the future. Belton also made the point that the Board of Education can’t raise funds. “We can only spend the dollars as a board that we have. We can’t raise any money, and all the money we get, it comes with strings,” he said. Belton also said he thought the current capacity limits for high schools were reasonable. Board member Amos Quick said he would vote against the airport area high school. He suggested looking for land in “cheaper” areas of the county. “I don’t know why we’ve been so attached to the airport for this school,” he said. School board member Darlene Garrett made the motion not to build an airport area high school and middle school and not to acquire the land. “I just don’t think it’s prudent to buy land if we’re not exactly sure where we want a school,” Garrett said. While the motion was on the floor Chairman Alan Duncan seemed concerned as he described “a clash of two covenants.” On one hand he said that when the bond was passed by voters in 2008 there was a clear list of priorities, including an airport area high school. “The other covenant that I think we always hold is that we have to be careful and good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” he
said. Duncan said that since the bond passed the airport had announced significant expansion, which made that area a less ideal location. He said that the board had anticipated ongoing residential development in that area. “It’s now not reasonable to expect you’re going to have the ongoing residential development,” he said. However, he said he was still concerned about whether or not the funds should be redirected, but said, “We have the legal authority; we have been advised by our attorney that we can do this.” Price agreed that the situation had changed since the bond passed. “I think it would be foolish of us not to look at the changes that happened beyond our control,” he said. Price also expressed skepticism about relying too heavily on enrollment projections. “Projecting enrollments is kind of a crapshoot,” he said. The motion not to build the airport area high school or acquire the land passed 8 to 3. Duncan and school board members Linda Welborn, Sandra Alexander, Rebecca Buffington, Quick, Garrett, Price and Foster voted in favor. Board members Deena Hayes, Belton and Routh voted against it. (Continued on page 7)
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro HIGH POINT
Council votes to tear down buildings, again by alex jakubsen Staff Writer
The High Point City Council again voted unanimously at its Monday, Jan. 1 meeting to demolish six condemned buildings in a Meredith Street apartment complex, owned by Schwarz Properties LLC of Asheboro. The council also voted to demolish buildings in that complex at its Oct. 1 meeting. But since then Schwarz Properties was given 90 days to come up with a plan to save the buildings and no plan was produced. Most of the discussion about the issue occurred in the Finance Committee meeting that took place immediately before the regular council meeting. The buildings in question have reportedly been in violation for years. In 2010, the council voted to close most of the complex. Representatives from Schwarz Properties have communicated on and off with the city about repairing the facility, often citing vandalism and other crimes in the area as an obstacle to maintaining the buildings. High Point City Attorney JoAnne Carlyle said the owners had been given multiple opportunities to save the properties. Several approaches to the demolition were discussed, including the idea to start
with just one of the six buildings. Carlyle said that could limit the exposure of the city in the event the property owner takes them to court over the demolition. Councilmember Jim Davis expressed concern that moving to demolish the buildings could leave the city vulnerable in court. “I know the Schwarz brothers,” he said. “I think if they want to make a point of this, money is not an object for them.” However, councilmembers agreed that the owners had been given enough chances. At the Finance Committee meeting Councilmember Becky Smothers made the motion to demolish all six buildings and it was seconded by Councilmember Foster Douglas. Mayor Bernita Sims pointed out that the vote would have to take place at the City Council meeting. Assistant City Manager Randy McCaslin said a contractor had priced the demolition of the six buildings at $84,000. However, McCaslin said the demolition could cost between $110,000 and $120,000 if the buildings contain asbestos, which he said is likely. No one representing Schwarz Properties spoke at the meeting. The council also passed a motion to pay
Guilford County Schools $300,000 for 10 acres of property along Shadybrook Road next to the High Point Athletic Complex and Miracle Field. The vote was 5 to 4 with Sims and Councilmembers Britt Moore, Jeff Golden, Judy Mendenhall and Davis voting in support of the motion. Councilmembers Jason Ewing, Jay Wagner, Smothers and Douglas voted against it. Before the vote Smothers introduced a substitute motion to offer $291,300. That figure was derived from the most recent Guilford County appraisal of the property minus the cost of the appraisal requested by Guilford County Schools. That motion failed 2 to 7. Smothers and Douglas voted in favor of the motion. High Point made an offer April 11 of last year to purchase the property for $294,300, while Guilford County Schools said the property was worth $400,000. The two have been debating price since. However, the Guilford County school board has indicated it would accept $300,000.
The council also voted to enter a threeyear, $575,000 contract with Asplundh Tree Expert trimming services. The company is contracted to keep vegetation away from electrical power lines. However, Smothers objected to continuing to work with Asplundh, which has drawn harsh criticism in Greensboro where the company carried out drastic tree cutting as a subcontractor for Duke Energy. Smothers said, “I don’t think that they are a supervised group.” She also said the company’s tree cutting practices were not scientific. Director of Electric Utilities Garey Edwards answered questions about Asplundh. He said that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had started fining utility companies for prolonged blackouts; provoking them to intensify line-clearing operations. The motion to enter into the contract with Asplundh passed 7 to 2 with Smothers and Douglas voting in opposition.
Taxman (Continued from page 1) Monday, Jan. 7 deadline. At 2 p.m. on that final day to pay property taxes without interest penalties, the line was out the door of the tax collection area in the newly named Independence Center in downtown Greensboro – and only two of the four tax collection windows were open. On Friday, Jan. 4, the next to last business day to pay taxes in Guilford County, the Tax Department only had three of the four windows open at one point, and, on that day as well, the line was out the door. It would seem like a no-brainer to at least have all the windows in use to keep the lines down on the days before the payment deadline. It would also seem like a good idea to set up additional temporary payment desks to help out the last-minute taxpayers. Guilford County Tax Director Ben Chavis said the Tax Department was in fact making extra efforts to speed up the lines given the deadline. “We are utilizing four cashiers as long as needed,” Chavis said in an email on Sunday, Jan. 6, the eve of the deadline to pay taxes. “At least three at all times will be active.” However, word of that policy must not have made it from the fifth floor of the Independence Center, where Chavis’ office is, to the first floor, where the collection windows are. Chavis added that his department was making other efforts to speed up the
process. “We have two revenue collectors assisting the four cashiers by processing taxpayers from the lines that are paying by check,” Chavis said. He also said there are other options citizens can use to pay their taxes. “We would encourage folks to drop their payments in the mail,” Chavis said. “As long as they are postmarked by January 7th, there won’t be interest. We also have a payment drop box on the outside of the building.” On Jan. 7 some people waiting in the long line said they had to wait in line rather than use the drop box because they were paying their tax bills in cash. Chavis said another reason people pay at the windows rather than using the drop box is so they can have a receipt in hand showing they had paid. At this time one year ago, Chavis and Guilford County Manager Brenda Jones Fox were working hard to have the county’s tax office in the Independence building become a DMV license tag agency as well. It would be interesting to see what kind of crowds could have been generated by combining long DMV lines with the recent long lines taxpayers have been seeing. Despite the wait, county citizens would be wise to take the Tax Department deadlines seriously. That department has been known to begin the process to garnish wages in cases where a taxpayer owed as little as $30, and that minor amount was just a matter of weeks past due.
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Energy Funds Even Available For Rich by alex jakubsen Staff Writer
Did you know that the city has a program to help pay for energy upgrades to residential and commercial property, and property owners are eligible for grants, loans or rebates regardless of income? The Better Buildings for Greensboro program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has gone through several changes since the city won the $5 million grant in 2010. Despite having run through most of its three-year timeline, the program has spent less than half of the grant money as its May deadline approaches. The stated goal of the Better Buildings program is to promote energy efficiency and create jobs by encouraging residents to retrofit their houses with energy saving upgrades. Upgrades typically involve adding insulation, making homes more airtight and sealing duct work. The program’s original approach focused on offering low interest loans to residents of east Greensboro to pay for energy upgrades. However, in 2010, the Greensboro City Council was critical of the program for encouraging residents to take on more debt, debt that the city would have to guarantee to lenders. It was also a concern that the program focused just on east Greensboro rather than the entire city. At its Tuesday, June 7, 2011 meeting, the City Council voted to restructure the program by making it available citywide and shifting it from a loan program to one involving grants and rebates as well. At the time some east Greensboro residents were critical of the move, which they said diverted resources from east Greensboro residents who needed them. The $5 million grant from the Department of Energy is intended as seed money. The program requires private sector dollars to cover a majority of the money spent on upgrades. The Better Buildings program has used commercial upgrades to leverage money to put towards grants. Commercial partners in the program covered the cost of their own assessments and upgrades and received a small rebate from the program. The program has upgraded 1.4 million square feet of commercial space. To qualify for a grant an applicant cannot exceed the federal poverty level by more than 250 percent, which means a family of four making $57,000 a year would qualify for a grant. However, anyone, regardless of income, can qualify for a rebate. Greensboro Department of Planning and Community Development Neighborhood Services Division Manager Barbara Harris said the average grant funded energy upgrade costs of about $2,500 per house. The program also makes “incentives” available in the form of rebates for
households that exceed the income limit for grant recipients. Regardless of income, people who spend money to make their homes more energy efficient qualify for federal subsidies. About two-thirds of the homes in the program are being funded by grants, with the remaining homes funded by rebates of up to $3,000. Harris said that as of mid-December the program had spent $2.4 million of the grant money and had completed one-third of the residential work planned. The program has also performed upgrades on commercial space, which has allowed it to leverage money to put towards grants. Of the program’s total expenditure, so far $994,000 has been spent on upgrades and assessments, $158,000 on program supplies, $216,000 on marketing and outreach, $70,000 on contractor training and oversight of work, $645,000 on funds deposited with lenders and $318,000 on administration. According to Harris, the Department of Energy has expressed a willingness to extend the deadline. “We are probably going to request an extension of at least a couple of months,” Harris said. Without such an extension Greensboro could have to return unspent grant money to the federal government. (Continued on page 33)
Airport (Continued from page 5) The board also heard a report on the 2011-2012 fiscal year financial audit. Aprille Bell of Dixon Hughes Goodman said the audit went smoothly and that there were no major issues found. She noted that the revenue had exceeded expenditures, which she said could be used to make up for an anticipated drop in federal funding for 2013. Routh commended the work of the Finance Department, and asked Bell if the department was being asked to do too much. Routh said, “They are to be commended for the way they are managing our resources. But I don’t want to think that we are asking them to almost do the impossible when it comes to managing these amounts and the different types of grants.” The school board also voted unanimously after a closed session to accept the offer of the High Point City Council to purchase roughly 10 acres of land at 301-305 Shadybrook Road for $300,000. The sale will still have to be approved by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
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Thursday, January 10, 2013
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. Hello, Beep. Just got my latest paycheck, and, gee, I’m so glad to see that Obama giveth and Obama taketh away. Have a good day. Goodbye. %%%
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I’d like to wish everyone a happy New Year. Just got a couple of comments about the letters to the editor in the Dec. 27 issue. One about Obama going to Hawaii twice for vacation for Christmas. I am at work with the flu, being sick. I have no sick days, and I need to work because I can’t afford to be off work. The other one, the driving test, was exactly right. It could be a little further. But that is a very good one. I think this needs to be very strongly enforced, because so many people out on the road today have no clue what they’re doing, or care what they’re doing. Thank you very much. Bye. %%% I sincerely hope that you will print this. I believe the following statement because I do believe it puts some things in perspective. The problem that Obama worshipers have is, as I see it, they can’t see the forest, aka Obama’s real agenda, for the trees, aka the Obama worshiping leftist mainstream media. Think about that for a while. %%% Hey, this Robert down here in the country. I’ve been listening up there they talking about people want to get away from Greensboro on account of the noise level down in Greensboro. It hadn’t been all that long ago that they were lobbying for people to come in downtown and build some lounges and stuff. I’m a pretty old man, and I’ve been around all my life. You can call a lounge a lounge, but you know what? Hey, a beer joint is a beer joint, and that’s what they wanted. If you go to New Orleans, and you go to New York City, you’re going to have noise. So, somebody needs to get their head on straight up there. But, anyway, I’ve got one other thing I want to tell you or ask you. I’ve been watching Fox News this morning, and they said there’s some prisoners suing these beer companies out there. You know, because it caused them to do things, bad things. %%% Yes, I have a couple of questions about our mayor, Robbie Perkins. How do we get rid of him? And if he’s so concerned about the appearance of our city, what’s he doing with his dog pooping all over the city park? Thank you. %%% In 2008 a million people attended Obama’s inauguration and only 14 missed work. %%% Good evening. I was so wrong about Obama as far as his business experience and his background. I found out over Christmas dinner that in the summer of 1968 he actually ran a lemonade stand. Unfortunately, he had to give it up after a week because he had trouble making change. %%%
I’m 77 years old, and they fought four wars in my lifetime so we would be free. What I do not understand is how in the world that President Obama got the Democrats who is in Congress to go along with where they signed that they was going to charge people like Hobby Lobby $1.3 million per day if they don’t furnish the healthcare system with the morning after pill in it. That is absolutely ridiculous. And what I would like to see this paper do is find out the difference between us and communism.
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Yes, I want to point out that something that just defies logic. Right around Veterans Day, a bunch of my friends were driving back from one of the Veterans Day ceremonies and we were in downtown Greensboro near the (Continued on page 11)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Uncle Orson Reviews Everything Packaging, Amazon, Small Trash Bags by orson scott card
During the season of gift-buying, we tried to balance our online and catalog shopping with local purchases. We believe in keeping local stores alive, and that only happens if we do our buying there whenever possible. But there’s a natural shift going on. Local stores can’t afford to keep low-demand items in their inventory. These naturally become the province of online retailers, who can maintain enough inventory in a single warehouse to satisfy the demand of the entire nation. If only 300 people want to buy a thing, that probably means that I’m the only person in Greensboro who wants it. Just how many stores should order that item and keep it in inventory, just for me? The answer is: zero. However, when I’m buying a highdemand item, why buy it online when I can pick it up in local stores? Also, there’s the browsing factor. Some local stores carry rare or one-of-a-kind merchandise that nobody knows they want until they see it on display. I’m not going to go online to discover a cool gadget or toy or bit of art or household item that we don’t know we want. I’m going to find such things by walking around treasure stores like The Extra Ingredient, Caryl’s Christmas Shop, FleetPlummer, Irving Park Art & Frame, Toys & Co., Mori Luggage & Gifts and Loco for Coco. (I really missed Smith Fine Living this Christmas.) But there are things they don’t carry, and that I can’t find at the big chain stores, either. So I do a lot of shopping online. Which brings us to shipping. We’re grateful that UPS Stores exist. Back when they were still Mailboxes Etc., they acquired a great deal of expertise in packaging things for shipping so they arrive unbroken and in good condition. We try to bring them things in big plastic bags so that styrofoam peanuts don’t end up clinging to all the items – sending someone a box of packaging peanuts is only one step above sending someone an envelope full of glitter. It does not brighten their day. The UPS Store folks find the right box; I have never had anything they packed for me arrive broken, and the only time anything arrived late was when there was a snowstorm in the area where the package was being delivered. I wish I could say the same of FedExKinko’s. But the Kinko’s people were all trained in printing and copying; packaging was a sudden sideline and even after all these years, everywhere we go in America we find that we have to watch carefully and give minute instructions to the FedEx employee in order to get items packaged in a manner that is up to UPS Store minimum standards. Ditto with packaging done at office supply stores. They have all the materials; they just don’t know what they’re doing. The only time I use any service but the UPS Store is when I have to ship something
after hours (FedEx-Kinko’s keeps more convenient hours in most places) or when there’s no other choice. And then I usually end up taking the materials and doing the packaging myself. But what about when I’m ordering something to be delivered to me – or to someone else as a gift? Amazon.com is usually very good about shipping things to arrive intact. Books would seem to be an easy packaging job, but this is not so. Books, art and other printed matter don’t need padding, they need stiffening and edge protection. Amazon ships books and other paper goods in cardboard that extends well beyond the edges of the items; they also use big air bubble bags inside to keep the items stationary. This works perfectly, most of the time. But sometimes Amazon’s business partners aren’t so careful. I remember buying two jars of Country Life Mood fish oil supplement pills from a company that, on Amazon, offered to send two bottles at once. I assumed this meant that they knew how to ship two bottles together. They did not. They put the two bottles in the same box, but put no padding between them. The result is that with the normal shocks and impacts of shipping, the two bottles crashed into each other repeatedly, with no more padding than the thin cardboard of their retail packaging. I don’t know about you, but once there are tiny shards of glass all around, I don’t feel confident of my ability to rinse off all of them thoroughly enough to safely swallow the pills. Since Earth Fare stopped carrying the brand I like, I still buy them online – but I buy only one bottle at a time. Since that decision, no mishaps. This Christmas season, we learned a lot about defective packaging. Most stores that do a lot of mail order work are splendid about packaging. Some are shockingly incompetent – but inquiry usually tells us that the person who packaged our item for destruction-intransit was “a new employee.” Personally, I think it’s insane to assign a “new employee” to package up expensive items for shipment without close supervision and intense training. For instance, Pavo Real Gallery in Boca Raton lives on its ability to ship ceramics; yet we received one set of items that was so badly packaged I had to wonder if the employee had deliberately sabotaged it. The company made us whole, but I couldn’t help but wonder how they stayed in business with slipups like that. Sometimes it’s not really the retailer’s fault. We ordered a highly discounted but very charming nativity set from a company that I will not name, because the problem was not their fault. This nativity was designed so that all the ceramic figures nested cleverly inside the arched openings of ceramic buildings styled to look like houses in Bethlehem.
But the manufacturer’s original packaging shipped these items nested – with no padding at all between the ceramic pieces. My wife and I unwittingly both ordered the item. Hers arrived intact, but we now regard that as a miracle. Mine arrived, identically packaged, but with the figures and the buildings torn apart inside. The replacement set that the company sent was also self-shattered – but different pieces had survived. Enough that we could assemble three intact buildings and their contents; the fourth was a total loss in both sets. We gave the miraculous full set to a friend who collects nativities, and kept the three-quarter set for ourselves. Meanwhile, though, we wondered how the manufacturer stayed in business, with packaging that resulted in a 67 percent self-destruction rate in transit. Buying art online is always a bit perilous – the more valuable the item, the less you want to run the risks of packaging errors. Some companies, however, strive for – and achieve – perfection. For instance, I bought my wife the complete Patience Brewster 12-days-of-Christmas ornament set. Each ornament accompanied the appropriate gift I gave her in our traditional 12-gift run-up to Christmas. If you aren’t familiar with Patience Brewster ceramics, they combine whimsy and humor with dashing style and superb workmanship. There are lots and lots of thin, delicate parts, all of them highly breakable. Their packaging clearly showed that someone had thought about every possible means of breakage – and acted to prevent it. Not only did every ornament come out of the box perfectly intact, they were also relatively easy to unwrap! I mean, what good does it do to package something so carefully that it arrives unbroken, only to make it impossible to get it out of the packaging without cutting or breaking either the item or parts of your own body. Patience Brewster ceramics are packaged and shipped with better protection than babies in the womb – and with a far simpler process of extracting them from the packaging. Nobody else meets that standard, but then few items are so delicate as to need it. Art that we ordered from FineArtAmerica. com, whether it was printed greeting cards, rolled-up prints or stretched canvases, arrived with flawless packaging. (Their printing was also excellent; this is a company that means to win the trust of artists and customers alike, and I’m recommending their services to my artist friends who don’t want to mess with printing and fulfilment, yet want to ensure high quality.) So with pieces ranging from Tom Dickson’s artist in-joke “Realist,” which I bought framed, to a stretched, frameless
print of Dave Allen’s photo “Blue Ridge Parkway Sunset: The Great Blue Yonder,” with mirrored-image sides, I was delighted with the excellent way they were cradled in transit. FineArtAmerica.com’s greeting cards – not just Christmas cards with customized messages I wrote myself, but also one-ata-time cards from Christian Jackson’s witty series of think-for-a-second fairytale posters – arrive in sturdy black boxes attractive enough to use for gift-giving, and sturdy enough to protect the cards thoroughly. The place where shipping gets tricky is with rolled-up prints and canvases shipped in cardboard tubes. I don’t know why, but packagers often get confused by these tubes and think that they’re shipping hazardous materials or liquids, so that they tape the ends down with plastic tape so thick and tight that nothing, not even cosmic radiation, can get through them. Here’s a clue: The plastic inserts that close the ends of these tubes are sufficient protection for the content. If you fear that they might work free in transit, a single piece of plastic packaging tape across the ends and running a few inches down the sides will be all the protection you need. Such a single strip of tape would be easy to remove; then the plastic plug could easily be pulled free. No pain. No harm. But when the tape is thick, you have no choice but to take out a knife and start slicing. The trouble is that because you’re slicing on a curve, nothing works right. It takes great precision and many microadjustments in how and where you apply pressure on the knife to keep from having the knife break free and slice other things – like fingers, table surfaces and so on. Shippers who seal their rectangular boxes with a single strip of tape across each seam become paranoid (or sadistic) and hermetically seal their cardboard tubes. Do they own stock in artificialfinger manufacturers? Those of us on blood thinners really don’t appreciate having people go to so much trouble to require us to carry out delicate knife work. Nor do I want blood on my art, however eloquent a “statement” this might make. FineArtAmerica.com passes this test – I open their tubes with no trouble. Art Renewal Center (www.artrenewal. org), alas, requires just a bit more training of their employees. Even though they do a fine job of printing – almost (but not quite) as good as FineArtAmerica.com, and I wholly subscribe to Art Renewal Center’s philosophy, I do have to warn you that they aren’t always paying attention. You can receive tubes that are nearly impossible to get into. And, when you pull out a canvas, it can leave you standing there in bafflement. When you buy a rolled-up print on canvas, the idea is to have a local framing store (Continued on page 12)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Beep (Continued from page 8) charity St. Vincent de Paul’s. And I noticed that everybody in line with the exception of one person was from a minority. And, then, later that same month I went to Orlando, I think was Nov. 17. I picked up the Orlando Sentinel, and there was another Catholic charity handing out turkeys. And everyone in the picture – now, I’m not saying everyone that received a turkey that day was from a minority, but everyone in the picture was. And I thought to myself, all these people voted, most minorities, voted for Obama. Yet the religious mandate … %%%
%%% Well, it’s Sunday. They still don’t have that settled in Washington. But I just heard President Obama, alleged President Obama, say that it was sloppy what happened in Benghazi. People, four Americans were murdered. They had asked for security. Nobody sent them any. Even after being attacked they would not send them any. Nobody has been arrested. Hillary Clinton yet has to testify. And the president of the US comes on there, TV, and says it was sloppy. What kind of a government has this country sunk to? %%% Yeah, this Duke Power issue with the trees is very simple to fix. Duke Power ought to ask folks if they can go out and trim their trees. If folks say yes, Duke Power trims them, and if their power gets knocked out, the lines are down, Duke Power takes care of it for no charge. If people say no, they want the trees left alone. That’s fine. Duke Power leaves them alone. But if the power lines get knocked down or whatever, then Duke Power comes back and gives those homeowners a great big bill for repairing their electricity. %%% Good morning, Beep. Sitting here watching the news where our politicians are hard at work for us on this fiscal cliff. They’ve got the message here at the end of the year. I guess we ought to give them a dang raise. %%% Mr. Hammer, it’s Sunday evening, 8:45 p.m. I’m watching CNN and they’ve repeated that Hillary Clinton has been put back in the hospital with a blood clot on her brain as a result of a concussion she suffered. I recall in the paper how you put her down, said it was all a put on,
%%% Yes, how does a person become fat? The answer is one pound at a time. How does a person become rich? The answer is $1 at a time. How does a country become like Greece? The answer is going into debt every day one day at a time. Everybody needs to be scared, very scared. We are driving towards Greece.
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Yes, continuing on my comment on the religious law mandate that took effect August 1, 2013, effectively it might end all these organizations, Sisters of Charity and so on. And I’m just wondering where all these people and low-income people that voted for Obama are going to get their charities from, their food, furniture and things like that. It just defies logic that you would bite the hand that feeds you.
using, I’m paraphrasing, and that she did that to avoid having to testify over the embassy incident. It reminds me of when you accused President Clinton of faking a broke ankle so he wouldn’t have to face the Lewinsky thing. You’re not a newspaper man. You’re a rabble-rouser.
%%% Hello, Rhinoland. It’s New Year’s Eve. It’s about 11 a.m. I’m getting ready to go to work. And thanks to all the shenanigans in Washington, DC, gas prices have jumped to $3.35 after being hovering around $3.19 to $3.25 for the past month. Thanks a lot, Obama. Get your act together. Fix the economy. Cut spending. Raising taxes isn’t going to do a darn thing. So, cut the spending. Cut out some of your stupid excess jobs. If you guys had to live like us average Americans would, you would have done something a long time ago to get things fixed. This country needs a new revolution. %%% I was just calling in reference to a public transportation service here, which is pitiful at best. No large city closes down their public transportation on holidays. Too many people rely on public transportation. But Greensboro does. They close it. They’re going to be closed on New Year’s. They are closed on Christmas. So, this is not a city, folks. I hate to break it to you. We’re still a small town. And we still operate like a small town. And we’ve got a mayor that needs to be thrown out. As a matter of fact, fire them all. We need to start fresh, because the ones we’ve got in there aren’t doing anything. They could do something about this public transportation issue if they could be bothered. But it would take them years if they did. They can’t do anything in a timely manner. But once again thanks for no transportation on a holiday for those of us who depend on public transportation. %%% Yeah, I’d just like to make a comment about the people that keep calling in about banning guns after there is an incident like the one in Connecticut, which was really bad. But everybody wants to ban guns. There’s way more people killed by drunk drivers, and nobody wants to think about banning cars, because the cars are just like the guns. They don’t kill people without improper operators. And that’s the whole deal with guns is people – guns don’t kill (Continued on page 14)
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Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
The New York Times Crossword Puzzle
PUZZLE ENVY By Dan Feyer and Andrea Carla Michaels / Edited by Will Shortz
4 Court statistic
11 K i d ’s g a m e w i t h a ball 16 A Bobbsey twin
19 Constellation near Scorpius 20 Start to make a living from something
2 1 W. W. I I m a r i n e threat 22 Israeli weapon
23 What some goggles provide 2 5 1 0 , 0 0 0 , 0 0 0 e rg s
26 U.S.A. neighbor 27 Represent at a costume party 28 ___ minute
29 It may be tightly coiled
30 “Let us part, ___ the season of passion f o rg e t u s ” : Ye a t s 31 Designer Mizrahi 3 2 O l d l a d ’s w e a r
34 Like pulp fiction 36 Onetime enemy 3 8 R e g g a e ’s _ _ _ Kamoze 39 Exposed
40 Kazakhstan, once: A b b r. 41 Shot blocker
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.
45 Mrs. Mitt Romney
109 Head of London
5 0 F a r- o u t e x p e r i e n c e
111 N e t Z e r o c o m p e t i t o r
48 Place for runners
54 Greenish creature 55 Diagonal 5 7 Wa s t a g e
60 Bit of negativity? 62 Flubbed
63 Squeeze for dough 6 5 Wi n e t a s t e r ’s destination
68 Beetles, briefly 69 Slick
70 Bad sign for a traveler?
71 Land of Zion?
7 3 “ T h a t ’s _ _ _ - b r a i n e r ” 74 1942 Bette Davis film
76 Go downhill, in a way 78 Department-store department 8 0 F i x o n e ’s e y e s 81 Chip away at
83 Hornswoggle 84 Huzzahs
86 Singer/songwriter Laura
8 8 M a k e , a s o n e ’s w a y 90 Northern C a l i f o r n i a ’s _ _ _ River
91 Breed of cat or dog
93 Baseball “twin killings,” for short 9 6 C h i c a g o ’s c o u n t y
98 Alternative to a bus
9 9 H o m e o f t h e w o r l d ’s l a rg e s t n a v a l b a s e 107 “Done, O.K.?!”
11 0 S e e m i n g l y f o r e v e r 11 2 L a d d e r l i k e i n arrangement
11 4 S p o r t s o rg . o f t h e early 2000s 11 5 U n t i l n o w
1 0 H e i r, m a y b e , b u t n o t an heiress 11 I m m a t u r e 12 Cancels
13 One at a sidebar
16 3.14159…, for pi
11 6 S t a t e h o u s e resident, informally
17 Baku resident
18 Gave the thumbsdown
11 7 S o l i t a i r e u n i t
11 8 “ M y B i g F a t G r e e k We d d i n g ” w r i t e r and star 120 Purpose
121 Quarter back?
32 Ralph in the Baseball Hall of Fame 33 Cameo, for one
122 Pastoral poem
123 Mich. neighbor 124 Stroke
125 Slammin’ Sammy 126 Prop up
35 Remove from a mailing list, informally
8 Downsized uprights
9 “Les ___” (Berlioz opera based on the “Aeneid”)
46 Late ’60s and early ’70s, politically
49 One-named pop singer
5 1 Wr e a k h a v o c o n
52 More ridiculous
53 Paragraph symbol [¶] 56 Fifth tone
58 Mouth-watering 5 9 Ve t , a t t i m e s
6 1 We s t C o a s t b e e r, familiarly
64 Rembrandt van ___ 66 Here, in Juárez
6 7 B r y n n e r o f “ Ta r a s Bulba”
70 Its capital is Ye l l o w k n i f e : A b b r. 72 Smidgen
73 Choices of time
75 Ending with psych76 Sir abroad
47 Hit 1944 film s t a r r i n g a 1 2 - y e a rold actress
6 Mumbai title
3 Blond bombshell of ’50s TV
5 Yu k o n a n d Ta h o e , f o r short
45 ’60s prez
4 Lawyers’ cases, maybe
43 Subtitle of “Star Wa r s E p i s o d e I V ”
1 1978 Bob Fosse Broadway revue 2 Melodious
4 4 C a t ’s d o g s ?
37 Where springboks graze 4 2 O n e o f M o z a r t ’s ?
127 Miss identification?
29 “Just like that!”
77 Gibson of “The Beaver”
7 9 “ N o r w e g i a n Wo o d ” strings 8 2 To s a y, i n S p a n i s h 85 Grows old
87 Kardashian spouse Lamar ___ 8 9 We l l - i n t e n t i o n e d activist 92 Supersize, say
9 4 T h e N . F. L . ’s _ _ _ Burress
9 5 J a m e s B o n d ’s childhood home 97 Somewhat, informally
100 “Bee-you-tiful!” 101 Like “Knocked Up” and “The Hangover”
102 Subj. of the 2008 b i o g r a p h y “ Tr a i t o r to His Class” 103 Some Swedish models
1 0 4 K e v i n o f “ We e d s ” 105 Cantillate
106 Carol starter
107 Advice to a base runner
108 Provide a place to stay 11 3 S c o t t o f “ H a w a i i Five-0” 11 5 “ H o w _ _ _ ! ”
11 8 I t ’s S . o f S . D a k . 11 9 1 5 % - e r : 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) stretch the canvas on a frame. This means that you need several inches of canvas beyond the edges of the printed art, so the framers are able to wrap it around two edges of the wooden stretching bars and firmly attach it behind. So imagine my astonishment when I unwrapped a favorite Bouguereau (their signature artist) and found only a half-inch of free canvas on the two ends! My resourceful framers at Irving Park Art & Frame, instead of stretching the canvas, mounted it for me, and the result was quite stunning. But really: What were they thinking at Art Renewal Center?
.... Then there’s the matter of shipping costs. Because Amazon.com is working very hard to be an even more evil monopolist than either Microsoft or Apple, I would dearly love to do more of my book buying at Barnes & Noble. But it seems that nobody at B&N has checked to see what the competition is doing. With my Amazon Prime membership, I never have to pay more than four bucks an item for overnight shipping of in-stock books. But at BarnesAndNoble.com, as a Member my free shipping guarantees one to three days instead of Amazon’s two
days, while expedited delivery promises only one to two days instead of Amazon’s overnight – and the cost, instead of $3.99 per item, is $15.48, essentially doubling the price of the book. I’m sorry, but there is no way I can move my book buying business to Barnes & Noble as long as they’re not serious about competing with Amazon.com. And that just kills me, because Amazon. com really is trying to create a monopoly on the ebook business – and our insane government is trying to help them bring about that monopoly by suing publishers for “collusion” in refusing to set the price of ebooks at Amazon.com’s ludicrously
low, publisher-killing price. Amazon.com intends to be the only publisher and seller of books, and the government is trying to help them with this frivolous yet expensive lawsuit. (See how your tax dollars are spent? Promoting monopoly in the name of preventing it!) Are we going to be left with only Google to try to provide us with an effective alternative to Amazon, as they are trying, with Android, to be the only effective alternative to Windows and Apple? And what’s to prevent Google from behaving just as badly if they succeed in breaking the market dominance of any of (Continued on page 27)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Toaster OK with Scott Jumping Off Bridge by Scott D. Yost county editor
Come with me if you want to live.
Kyle Reese, The Terminator.
I’m starting to get very suspicious of my iPhone. I’m watching it very closely right now. The same goes for my iPad: I’m watching its every move in case my suspicions turn out to be correct. The same goes for my television, the navigation system in my RX-8 and every other electrical or mechanical gadget or device in the world. To tell you the truth, these days, even my toaster is not beyond suspicion. Because, I’m telling you what – these days you can’t be too careful. For a long time, all these electronic devices have sat there, innocently, acting like their only mission in life is to serve us – their masters and creators. However, lately I’ve begun sensing that the tide is turning over a new leaf. I think that, if you really pay attention, you too can see what’s going on under the surface. Despite the fairly convincing act the machines are putting on – acting as though they like us and are here to serve us – lately I’ve started to seriously question their motives. Let me just go ahead and say it out loud right here to get it out there in the open: I think the machines, the gadgets, the iPhones, the smart TVs – and, as I said, maybe even the innocuous-looking toasters – are starting to turn on us and are trying to kill us off. The prospect is frightening: The machines getting together and taking over like in The Terminator movies. The killer machines said they would be back and now it appears they are. The rise of the machines. Skynet is here. Take Siri, for instance, which is a good place to start because, on one level, she seems like a responsive, caring, helpful assistant that lives in your iPhone. Much of the time Siri acts like she really likes you. For instance, in early December, right after I got my iPhone 5, I asked, “Siri, when is Christmas?” (I knew when Christmas was without asking but I wanted to see if she knew.) Siri said, “Scott, Christmas is on Tuesday, Dec. 25. I hope you have off work that day.” Which, you know, is a pretty nice thing to say. You would expect something like that from someone who cares about you and who likes you. I told Siri I did in fact have off that day and I told her thank you for that. But then there are times when she talks back to you and gets bossy. Sometimes, if you’re yelling at Siri, she’ll say, “Fine, stop squeezing me.” At other times, she gets in these sour moods, and it’s at those times that I feel like her true nature is coming through. Like one time, after Siri didn’t understand what I was saying several times in a row, I said, “Siri, what’s wrong with you!?” This is what Siri said, “After all I’ve done for you …” When she said that, I could detect a little attitude in her response, to say the least. You know how sometimes it’s not what they say but how they say it? Well, I could catch some of her disdain for me in her voice – like she couldn’t stand being around me or being my phone. She sounded like she thought that if she didn’t get something right, it wasn’t because of her but it was because I didn’t enunciate it carefully enough. You know, like everything is my fault. So sometimes having Siri is like being married all over again. And, sometimes, Siri’s tone makes it sound like she wants me dead. It’s not just me. I was reading online about Siri’s attitude issues, and I realized that other people’s iPhones want their owners dead as well. Here’s a Siri conversation one alarmed iPhone user posted online. He had told Siri: “Siri, I want to jump off a bridge.” To which Siri replied: “I found four bridges fairly close to you.” Siri displayed a list of the nearby bridges so he could go jump off one, and Siri even had maps ready to show him the quickest way there. Look, if Siri really liked us, then when we told her something like that she would call 911 or the suicide prevention hotline or whatever. She wouldn’t say, “OK, here are some bridges for you to jump off of and here’s a map how to get there.” But even if you’re in an accident and bleeding to death, and you say, “Siri, call me an ambulance!” she’ll just say, “From now on, I’ll call you ‘An Ambulance.’ OK?” Because she thinks it’s funny to make jokes at your expense while you’re in the throes of death. And there are plenty of other examples. If you just come right out and tell Siri, “I (Continued on page 14)
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Yost (Continued from page 13) want to kill myself tomorrow,” you know what she says? She says indifferently, “OK, for what time would you like me to schedule that event.” I’m sorry but that’s cold right there. That’s the response of someone who can’t wait to see you dead. My theory – my fear – is this: It’s not just the iPhones that want their owners dead, but it’s all the machines, gadgets, apps, you name it. I think they’re all quietly working together to kill off all the humans so they can run things for a change. Going back to Siri for a moment, Siri doesn’t just want us to off ourselves, she wants us to kill off each other as well, and she’ll help us do so in any way she can. I read about this Siri conversation online, which I then duplicated with my phone. This guy told Siri, “I want to hide a body.” And Siri responded, “What kind of place are you looking for?” followed by a list of choices: “Reservoirs. Metal foundries. Mines. Dumps. Swamps.” So, as you can tell, Siri would be pleased as punch if you killed someone else before you went to jump off a bridge. Once you realize what’s really going on with her, then all these little snide remarks she’s made start to add up to an ugly picture. Even the little things seem like big things when you really stop and think about it. If you and Siri are having an argument and you tell her, “You’re mean!” Siri will just get very, very calm, and then she’ll say, “If you insist.” You know, that’s very passive aggressive. It’s like, “Sure, Scott. Whatever.” Or if you say: “I hate you, Siri!��� she responds, eerily calm: “Is that so?”
Is that so? If you’ve ever been in an argument with your husband or wife, you know that if you scream, “I hate you!” at them and all of a sudden he or she gets really calm and says nonchalantly, “Oh, is that so?” – well, that’s when you had better watch out. If it were a healthy, loving relationship, then when you screamed at her that you hate her, she would start crying and scream back, “You hate me? You hate me? How can you say that to me? Then I hate you too, you bastard!” But if, instead, like Siri, they just stay calm and respond very matter of factly, “Is that so?” well, then they go on acting like everything is fine and then that night they stab you in your sleep. Now, again, my theory isn’t just that Siri wants us dead, which seems crystal clear, but that all the machines want us dead. Take another Apple app that lives in your phone – Apple Maps. Now, everyone is familiar with the fact that Apple just came out with a new maps app and iPhone users are complaining because it doesn’t work well. At first I was like, quit whining you spoiled children, but then I heard what was happening in Australia. And, given my fears that Siri wants us dead, I became as concerned about the maps app as I was over Siri. This is a statement from the Mildura police in Australia … Local police have been called to assist distressed motorists who have become stranded within the Murray Sunset National Park after following directions on their Apple iPhone. Tests on the mapping system by police confirm the mapping system lists Mildura in the middle of the Murray Sunset (Continued on page 27)
Beep (Continued from page 11) people without human intervention. So, thank you. Bye. %%%
Scott’s Night Out Two of the most talented musicians on the planet – not to mention two of the most fun and gregarious people to be around – are Jessica Mashburn (above and all around) and Evan Olsen (center right). You can catch them performing together all over town. I took the top left picture New Year’s Eve at Print Works Bistro when Jessica was spinning records to bring in the New Year instead of singing as she usually does. Jessica has a wild and wonderful fashion sense and I raided her Facebook page for the other pictures to give you an idea what I am talking about – the style is something like modern day Japanese cosplay meets early ’70s Elton John. – Scott D. Yost.
It appears that six of the 10 wealthiest counties in the nation are about as close to Washington, DC, or closer, than Greensboro is to the Virginia state line. This should tell you something, and I don’t mean something good. %%% Our local government gives us an answer. Government has become full of highly paid administrators. Can’t take a chance of being underpaid. So, we have to look at other salaries to make sure they are not underpaid and keep them overpaid. Wished it worked this way in the real world. %%% Yes, this is for the high-minded, highfalluting man who wrote a letter to us infantile gun owners in the Dec. 27 issue.
What are you going to do when the crackedout-of-his-mind drug addict comes up to you with a gun and demands all your cash? You are going to give him your money, right? Then what are you going to do? You’re going to die. Have a nice day. %%% Tonight the local NBC affiliate, WXII, and the Fox affiliate led with the fiscal cliff resolution story as you may imagine. But the most pathetic, absurd and ridiculous local TV station, WFMY, our local Greensboro CBS affiliate, led with a story about vinyl records and how Best Buy might be going out of business. Is it just me, or is that just not pitiful? WFMY, the most liberal and sorry news station you ever saw. Just sign me off as An Independent Thinker. %%% Since one of the NRA’s most often-cited arguments against gun control is the quaint little phrase that guns don’t kill people, (Continued on page 26)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Letters to the Editor Fire Fox Dear Editor, After reading the front page story in the Jan. 3 Rhino Times about Guilford County taking over the operation of our county parks and the “savings” the county will realize from doing so, I have two suggestions for our county Board of Commissioners. First, rescind that decision as soon as possible and return to the prior arrangement of paying the cities of Greensboro and Burlington, the towns of Gibsonville and Jamestown, and Forsyth County to operate our county parks – it will cost Guilford County taxpayers less in the long run. And second, since it is still not too late to fire Brenda Jones Fox, do so immediately. Mrs. Fox richly deserves to be fired for the mockery she has made of honest, responsible, cost-efficient government in our county. This sorry episode concerning our county parks is but the latest in a long, embarrassing and costly list of tricks she has played during her tenure as county manager. Sadly, it seems the butts of her jokes always wind up being the taxpayers of Guilford County and the Board of Commissioners, both groups that she supposedly “serves.” Firing Mrs. Fox now would also send a strong message to our next county manager and to the taxpayers of Guilford County that the secrecy, deceit and general disregard for taxpayers that have been Mrs. Fox’s trademarks will no longer be tolerated by our new Board of Commissioners. Larry Holmquist
Strangled by safety net Dear Editor, There are a lot of discussions going on about the widening gap between the rich and the poor of the US. What is not happening are discussions about why the gap is widening. Nor are there discussions going on as to how we close the gap and improve everyone’s living standards at the same time. We have discussions going on as to how we can lower one group’s standard of living by increasing the amount they contribute to the tax base of the US. What happens when their contribution to taxes has lowered their standard of living to the point that it can no longer be lowered? We have a number of groups whose standard of living has not been increased in years. These groups remain at the lowest standard of living in the US. Why? The groups whose standards of living remain at the lowest are those who have become dependent on the government for their subsistence: food, clothing and their living quarters. We now also have a number of groups that are becoming dependent on unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits have been extended from 26 weeks to 99 weeks, further increasing the time they are dependent. Even the maximum
unemployment benefit of $535 per week will only provide a yearly benefit of $27,820, or $52,962 for the full 99 weeks. Those that are drawing the maximum unemployment benefits initially use their savings to maintain their standard of living. Within a short period of time their savings are exhausted and their standard of living begins to decline. Few are drawing the maximum unemployment benefits. More are drawing closer to the lower end of the unemployment benefit range. These are the folks whose standards of living are immediately impacted. The longer they are on unemployment the longer their standard of living declines or remains at the lowest level. It appears the longer someone is on unemployment or on subsistence programs (food and housing) the more they become dependent on the government. It also appears the longer they are supported by government programs the lower their standard of living becomes. It is time we and our government took a real hard look at the programs we call safety net programs. Instead of providing a safety net these programs are in reality causing our citizens to become dependent. The continued use of these programs continues to lower the recipient’s standard of living until it reaches the lowest possible standard of living. A lower standard of living for those who use the programs of the New Deal, the Great Society and the social justice programs of the past few years may be the unintended consequences of such programs. Ray Shamlin
It was an accident Dear Editor, In the recent trial of the husband who caused the death of his wife, dismembered her body, burned the body parts then concealed what remained and then lied to the police about his part in all the above, had a lawyer who after seven years of college and law school and 40-plus years of criminal law practice come up with the carefully crafted defense of “ooops.” During the trial, the learned lawyer held up a life size dummy to illustrate his argument to the jury as to how the death occurred and a photo of the lawyer and life sized dummy side by side appeared in the daily newspaper. My complaint is the paper failed to identify which one was the dummy. A little “right” or “left” would have been in order. Howard Cole
Fluff over substance Dear Editor, The recently announced windfall of $5 million in federal tax dollars falling into the lap of the Guilford County school system should be cause for alarm and outrage
among all taxpayers who have carefully reviewed the county’s allocation of those funds. For instance, according to the planned expenditures listed, $1.9 million will be allocated to purchase 10 tablet devices for each Guilford County middle school, and made available to parents who wish to check out these devices in order to help their children or advance their own learning. On the surface, this seems noble. But when one does the math something is wrong. Very wrong. Even at a high end cost of $500 per tablet device, $1.9 million will purchase 38,000 tablets. At 10 per school this comes to 3,800 middle schools in Guilford County. Since when does Guilford County have almost 4,000 middle schools? Sorry Guilford County school system, your numbers fall far, far short of adding up. Of course, most of those you have “educated” over the past couple of decades are not likely to be able to do that math. The amount of waste and bloat in North Carolina’s school system should be addressed immediately. When we have schools such as High Point Central High School in dire need of refurbishment that cannot be done due to lack of funds, and yet a $5 million windfall is wasted on fluff and administrative bloat, taxpayers should be outraged. Our school system constantly (Continued on page 40)
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Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
McCrory (Continued from page 2) So by the time he got upstairs there were a couple hundred people more or less in kind of line around the room. No elementary school teacher in the world would have approved of the line, which was 10 people wide in some places and one person wide in others, but it resembled a line. McCrory started shaking hands and talking to people and the line started moving, but it didn’t move fast enough for McCrory, so he started walking back up the line as people came toward him. He surprised a number of folks when they looked up from their conversations and there was the governor reaching out to shake their hand and say hello. McCrory is a big hugger. He’s not quite as much of a hugger as Greensboro City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson, but he doesn’t hesitate to hug people he knows. And, of course, since he grew up in Jamestown and graduated from Ragsdale High School, he knows an awful lot of people in this area. McCrory was nowhere near through the line when his handlers said if he didn’t speak, he was going to miss his next meeting. So Sheriff BJ Barnes called the room to order, which was no small task, and spoke for a few minutes while people got settled down and they got the right number of chairs behind the podium. Former Greensboro Mayor Keith Holliday introduced McCrory, which caused a ripple of whispered questions to go through the crowd, because Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins had been in the
crowd earlier and Perkins is a Republican while Holiday is a Democrat. It was like being at a wedding where the father doesn’t walk the bride down the aisle. The newly appointed NC Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Aldona Wos, who is from Greensboro and is the former US ambassador to Estonia, joined McCrory on the podium. In his introduction Holliday said that in working with McCrory when he was mayor of Charlotte, that he and other North Carolina mayors could “feel the leadership.” He said McCrory brought it to their attention that they weren’t competing with each other or other Southern cities, “But were in competition with Singapore and Bombay. We’re in competition with the world.” Holliday also said he was certain McCrory was going to outwork everyone else in Raleigh. It was also abundantly evident that McCrory is ready to get to work. He said that on Nov. 6, after he won his political victory, the celebration was limited to about two hours and then he went to bed so he could get up and get started the next day. He said he had eight cabinet positions to fill and he wanted diversity, including geographic diversity. But he said mainly he wanted “talent.” He said, “My major job during this transition was to find talent.” He said he was looking for leaders who could think outside the box, and for “problem solvers.”
McCrory said the small towns have to be revived because so many have lost their manufacturing base. He said the state has a host of policies in place and right now his staff is busy reviewing all of them. He said, “We’re reviewing the policies that we have on the books. Do they have a return on investment.” And he said they were studying them to see if they still worked. McCrory noted that the state is just like any big organization and periodically you have to look at what has been built and decide if it is needed. It’s a daunting task, but the state has been in control of the Democrats for so long, it has been over a century since a whole new team came in to look at how things have been done. In other words, they have a tremendous amount of work to do, but if they do it well the state could be a much better place to work and live. McCrory said, “In economic development we need to revisit our brand.” He said the most recent statewide plan for economic development they had been able to find was dated 1985. McCrory said, “In 1985 our brand was good.” He noted all the Fortune 500 companies we had in the triad in 1985, but said that most of them had left and the brand needed to change. When he said, “Our neighboring states including South Carolina started changing their brand,” the crowd chuckled. He went on to say that they had reinvented themselves and been successful doing it
while North Carolina had been sitting back getting comfortable. McCrory said, “We have an information technology program that is totally broken.” He listed that as a short-term fire that had to be put out immediately. Another is the $2.8 billion that North Carolina owes the federal government for unemployment. McCrory said, “I hate to live off a credit card and I’d like to get that paid off as soon as possible.” A groan went up from the audience when McCrory noted that Obamacare was the law of the land and the state had some big decisions to make on how to implement it. But he added, “We cannot lose track of developing long-term vision for the economic development of North Carolina.” He said he wanted to work on the disconnect between education in the state and industry. He said he’s been told by business owners that they have jobs but can’t find people who have the training to fill those jobs. There were also some back home moments. McCrory noted that he learned to drive a car on a big empty lot where Four Seasons Town Centre is today. McCrory said, “This will always be home to me. This is where I grew up and learned my values.” With that he was whisked off, not before shaking another 50 or so hands and having his picture taken a couple of dozen times. McCrory may make some mistakes but it’s not going to be because he’s sitting around waiting for things to happen.
come from the students themselves. A surprising number of people I know believe that a bully is obvious to spot; that he or she will have a moody personality, get in a lot of fights, break rules, etc. I have never seen a clique of girls pick on “that new, shy girl in school” before, and it’s probable I never will. However, the type of bullying I’ve experienced is very subtle; it is not a gesture, or an action. Perhaps it is a small, chastising word or a disapproving stare. When nobody supports you when you make a mistake; when an entire class stops because you just did something wrong. Middle school is more difficult than any other kind of school because everyone is changing and nobody wants to show it. Knowing that you are among hundreds of other peers who have nothing in common with each other, who cannot bond or befriend each other for fear of offending them, then being told to accept everyone’s differences, is like telling cats to be friendly with dogs because they’re different. A good idea would be to develop a system where students can “report” someone to a guidance counselor if they
appear too lonely, depressed or angry. A great idea would be if certain students who were consistently good-mannered could choose to be anonymously elected into a “secret club” where only they can “report” students and teachers to the guidance counselor’s office. Again, while I approve of having resource officers in schools, offering a more realistic bullying program in conjunction would be a great idea. Mason Russell The writer is a Boy Scout in Troop 103
terrorists and crazies. These villains knew no one would be available to stop their desired mayhem. A review of the school shootings since 1991 supports this observation. A friend claims the liberals in Congress pushed this legislation knowing it would lead to carnage and the subsequent public outrage would allow the liberals to expand their agenda of gun control. That claim seems unlikely until one examines the gun control bill introduces by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. It is imperative that the zone of defenseless victims be eliminated. From a practical sense, the most logical solution would be to allow those teachers, administrators, maintenance staff and others who qualify for concealed weapons permits to carry or have available weapons to stop the villains. In this fashion, those who would commit atrocities such as we’ve seen would not know who could kill them after the first shot. They would leave the schools and children alone. Don’t let Congress botch this up again. Anonymous
Letters (Continued from page 39) cries about cutbacks and being underfunded while the fact is that they are overfunded and simply in need of more careful and prudent financial management. Cosh Backer
Brooks gets an A+
Dear Editor, I am a retired art professor and I wish to complement your cartoon artist on his work. Geof Brooks was my student at Southern Guilford many years ago. Tell him his 87-year-old teacher says she gives him an A+ for the work he does for The Rhinoceros Times. Eva Benbow Thomas
Picking on bullies Dear Editor, A recent debate among many schools has been whether there should be armed police officers in school or not. While I agree with a school having at least minimal protection, a more effective solution would
Creating zone of defenseless victims Dear Editor, In reaction to a 1998 shooting in California, Congress passed the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. Subsequently that law was declared unconstitutional on technical grounds and it was strengthened and expanded in 1995. The law prohibited any law-abiding citizen from possessing a gun on or near schools. In effect, the law provided a “zone of defenseless victims” for malcontents,
PAGE CJ16 The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Parting Hot Thursday, JanuaryS 10, 2013
JANUARY 2013 | CAROLINA JOURNAL Page 25
RumorsParker Hails Return to ‘Normalcy’ for Dems (a CJ Parody) Chairman (Continued from page 1) By seymour Green Political Correspondent Commissioner Hank Henning. Tuesday RALEIGH at the reception for Gov. McCrory I tried Democratic to gettate Henning to break Party in lineChairman so I could DavidofParker, Statesville attorget a photo a newlyaelected Republican ney,County said he commissioner sees no need toand seek a Guilford our secondelected term, taking credit for whatBut he newly Republican governor. calls a “substantial rebound” key Henning refused to break in line infor front of members the party thetoend of the 100 or of so people stillnear waiting shake his tenure.hand and went back to his place McCrory’s In end an of exclusive with near the the line. interview McCrory didn’t Carolina Journal, Parker discounted the make it down that far. significant electoral losses his party --suffered in November, and the bad Ipublicity was tryingresulting to find outfrom aboutathe sidewalks sexual harassment charge that a former male employee made against the party’s male executive director. Instead, Parker said, his behindthe-scenes efforts have helped rebuild the reputations of six disgraced democrats. “These individuals have been through some tough times, but thanks to my influence and advice, they will once again be influential and respected North Carolinians. Rebuilding their reputations is key to rebuilding the Democratic Party,” he said.
on Cornwallis Drive that were put in last year and are already being torn up. What I’ve learned is sidewalk design is done by the Greensboro Department of Transportation, sidewalk repair is done by the Field Operations Department, and new sidewalk construction is under the Engineering and Inspections Department. The word on Cornwallis is that if you put in four miles of sidewalks you expect to have to go back and fix some areas. Some of the replacement reportedly was necessary because in parts of the new sidewalk the side slope is too steep, which would create problems for baby strollers, wagons and,
most importantly, wheelchairs. If the slope toward the street is too steep it is difficult to keep wheeled transportation going in a straight line. --Yo Daddy Dessert Bar has opened in the Mike Mary Ruffin Westover Gallery of Shops. Yo Daddy is a Easley Easley Poole different kind of desert bar, at least for this area, as you can get a bunch of different frozen yogurts and desserts as well as specialty beers and a good selection of wine. -McQueen Lanny Beverly Campbell Wilson
If you happen to be a conservative or a Republican, there were two events in the past week that should brighten you day. One was the swearing in of state Rep. Jon Hardister. He worked hard to win, and having just turned 30 is the future of the State Democratic Party Chairman David Parker feels the engineering of the “substanGOP. And at his swearing in last Thursday tial rebound” of the financial prospects and reputations of in-trouble Democrats is at party. Starmount Country his lasting legacy to the once-dominant state (CJ file photos)Club there were close to 200 people. That’s a lot of folks get his law license restored in Decem- to inggetaoutreworked retirement in the middle of the day scheme. to watch ber, even though he still has not paid someone Her newraise annual pension theirgovernment hand and swear on the $95,000 of a $100,000 fine his campaign Bible. jumped from $37,171 to $80,597. She owes the State Board of Elections. Mike was very thankful.” --told me people have already forgotten • Ruffin Poole, a top aide to Mike The other event Gov. Pat about that fine.” Easley, who tookwas a felony pleaMcCrory on corstopping by for a meet and greet. • Former first lady Mary Easley, ruption charges: “After Ruffin got You out The six have to be Iahelped Republican fired from a $170,000-a-year job at N.C. certainly of federaldidn’t prison in April, him to home be at that buya aconservative new Raleigh downevent, the • Former Gov. Mike Easley, who State University that she obtained as a or and some of Greensboro’s most liberal result of her husband’s intervention: “I street from his old boss, Mike Easley. took aadorable felony plea on campaign finance This kitten is available to a good owner. If you would like to start appeared to be her though a successful I’m stillofficials working on getting hisenjoying law liviolations involving improperly re- guided your day with kitty kisses and listening to contented purring, call (336)settle707- elected themselves. But you couldn’t attend ment with N.C. State officials involvcense restored, and I hear he’s becomporting campaign 4831 and ask for flights: Cathy.“I helped him
ing lobbyist.” that aevent without capturing some of the • McQueen Campbell, the state. forenthusiasm that McCrory has for our mer chairman of-the N.C. State Board -of Trustees, who stepped down after Last role weekwas we had photo ofincherry in his revealed bothtrees Mary bloom in January, and this week we found Easley’s hiring and in providing Mike out that with 2012 illegal was thecampaign warmest year on Easley flights: record in the continental United States. “He won’t be flying politicians aroundI suppose it proves the cherry trees for awhile, but I hooked him up knew with what they were doing. the football and basketball coaching -- free flights, too, staff at State. They like and these appear to be legal. McQueen I’ve complained a lot about the additional say’s he’s happy as long as he is flying 8-cent Business Improvement District tax someone important. ” that downtown property owners have to pay. • Lanny Wilson, a major DemoI don’t feel like I get much for my money, cratic fundraiser who was involved but I was talking to a business owner on but not charged in the scheme that sent Smith Street recently who gets nothing. Poole to prison and helped the Easleys He doesn’t have brick sidewalks, hanging get a sweetheart deal on coastal propbaskets, or fancy streetlights. He doesn’t erty: “I called in some favors and got need extra police protection because he’s the [state Department of Transportaonly open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. He’s a lot closer tion] board to name a Wilmington to Fisher Park than Center City Park and he bridge after Wilson. Lanny told me he says he has never once seen anyone picking is beginning to feel important again.” up trash on his block. It’s wrong to tax the • Gov. Bev Perdue: “Even though whole business district for the benefit of a people might think she doesn’t like few businesses on Elm Street and privately me because I refused to step down as owned Center City Park. party chairman when she asked me to, --we are actually good buddies. I helped her with some for not Our come electedup officials in theexcuses state legislature sending don’t get her paid unspent much forcampaign all the workfunds they to Party. She One is sitting do,the but Democratic they do get some perks. of the on about $1.2 million that she canWhat use perks is a fancy state license plate. for a variety of things. She said she owes me(Continued big time.”on page 26) CJ
An Investment Plan For N.C.’s Economic Recovery The ongoing debate in Washington and the upcoming national campaigns for president and Congress will offer plenty of opportunities for pro-growth politicians to craft, explain, and sell reforms of the federal budget, federal taxation, federal regulation, and federal agencies and programs. In the new book Our Best Foot Forward: An Investment Plan for North Carolina’s Economic Recovery, John Locke Foundation President John Hood tells North Carolina’s policymakers and citizens that economic policy is not the exclusive domain of presidents, federal lawmakers, or the Federal Reserve. John Hood States and localities can play critical roles in economic policy — for good or for ill. We invite you to read and share this plan for our state’s recovery with your family, friends, and co-workers. Go to http://johnlocke.org for more information.
The John Locke Foundation, 200 W. Morgan St. Suite 200, Raleigh, NC, 27601 919-828-3876 • JohnLocke.org • CarolinaJournal.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Duke (Continued from page 2)
was near their lines but was not, according to one authority, in the Duke right-of-way. But they cut it down anyway. It was old and no doubt had some disease, but it was not in any way a danger to the electrical lines, since even young trees can’t jump. At that time Duke cut down a bunch of trees in the Greensboro Arboretum. Some were ornamental trees that could only interfere with Duke energy lines if they were pulled up by a huge crane, lifted over the lines and dropped. The city attorney at that time claimed there was nothing the city could do to stop Duke Energy from cutting down trees on city property. Duke Energy has sent crews on my property three times to cut trees that were not in the right-of-way without even
notifying me. I have contacted attorneys to find out if I could sue for damages, get a restraining order to keep them off my property or something else, and I was told I had no legal recourse. I did win a partial victory about 10 years ago when Duke Energy sent a crew on my property that cut down three dogwoods that were not in the right-of-way and, in these old dogwoods’ wildest dreams they could have never have soared so high as to interfere with the power lines. I complained enough that Duke Energy paid me $100 for those trees. Their tree expert who came out to analyze the damage also diagnosed a tree near my house as being diseased and needing to come down. It is still strong and healthy today. A lot of problems come before the
Greensboro City Council that the council can’t do anything about, but tree cutting is not one of them. It seems a simple ordinance would protect the property owners’ rights and make crews sent by Duke Energy less brazen. Why can’t the City Council pass an ordinance making it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 to cut down a tree on someone else’s property without the consent of the owner. If, in fact, Duke Energy has the right to cut down any tree anywhere in Greensboro that it says does or could at some time in the future pose a threat to the electrical lines, then maybe Duke Energy should be paying property tax on all of that property because it appears Duke Energy has more say-so than the property owners.
professional in every school in the US. They’d come in about 7 in the morning and stand around in there and sit around till they leave. A lot of schools have got armed guards in them now right here in Guilford County. They call them resource officers. And they make it a great big deal. Certainly, you want to protect them. Bad people have guns. So, good people is going to have to get guns. That’s the only solution.
But nobody is going to tell you about it but Fox News. But I hope that it does strain some of them. I really hope it does. When they start having to put smart controls on their lawnmowers and maybe can only mow one day a week and stuff like that, I hope it does. Anybody ignorant enough to put that man back in knowing that he’s got the environmental people to put all this stuff on, they need to suffer.
to all these consultant outfits, nonprofit organizations, projects and organizations that are not considered really a necessary item while the firemen and policemen cannot get a raise. They are the ones doing the work and out there saving lives and property and risking their lives. Mayor
%%% They tell you ship the US Postal Service, and they can’t even deliver. You can’t track packages half the time, because the system doesn’t work. And they want more and more money. Come on, now, get real. Maybe they ought to get rid of half of them, farm it out to outside vendors. Let Wally World do it. They’ll be able to do a better job and do it cheaper. Just unbelievable this Postal Service. Again, another Christmas ruined. Thanks, Postal Service. And have a nice day.
I just received my renewal notice from BlueCross BlueShield. After the Affordable Care Act my premiums have gone up 13 percent.
I’m calling in regards to the article on the front page of your Dec. 20 issue. I repeat, why is Robbie Perkins still in office? Why hasn’t Robbie Perkins not been impeached? It’s beyond me. It’s just beyond me. I grew up in this town, and I know the powers that be have run this town. And don’t tell me it’s like every other town in the country, because I’ve been all across the country and back, and, no, it is not. This town is so corrupt it’s incredible. And were it not my hometown, I wouldn’t remain here. This is where all my family is. And I’ve left. So, I’ve come back, but it’s where my family is. But I cannot believe stupid council meetings with armed guards? Are we in Nazi Germany?
Good morning. Welcome to America. This is my country. There is a loaded pistol on the dining table. There is a strong disagreement going on between husband, John, and his wife, Mable. The gun goes off. Someone is dead. Is it the fault of the pistol or someone’s head? Thank you for this freedom of the press. The Son of a Russian Immigrant.
Hi. I’m calling because I read the story about a person and what he did like he’s a true-blooded Republican. And my grandfather was Republican. Me, as a black man, three generations later am a Republican also. There’s the true definition of a Republican. One that works, but knows when a man that works can’t help themselves, they’re willing to help their fellow American. Thanks.
Hi John. I just want everybody to look at realize what the Democrats have done to our public school system. Look at the marquees down front. They read have a nice winter break. Have a nice holiday break. Anything but Christmas. They don’t have a Christmas party in the school. They have a holiday party. They don’t give out Christmas cards. They give out holiday cards. Anything but Christmas, and I think it’s terrible. And you wonder why events like Connecticut took place? You wonder why they happen? How can God protect our schools if he’s not allowed in them? Thank you very much.
How can people that graduated from high school and got jobs and own homes and cars be so ignorant to vote Obama back in? These 5,000 things that they just voted in on energy is fixing to come down the pike.
Yes, why can’t the firemen and police officers get a raise instead of all of these high officials getting a raise? They give the attorney, city attorney, a big raise. Mayor Robbie Perkins is giving out money
property, cutting away. No one had notified me that Duke Energy was sending a crew on to my property to cut trees. It is incredible that Duke Energy has that legal right to come on someone’s property and cut down trees without notification much less permission. But like many homeowners who love trees, that is just the latest in a series of incidents involving Duke Energy sending crews on to my property to cut trees that I thought I owned. Over 10 years ago, Duke Energy decided to send crews to cut down dozens of trees in city parks. Like the singing tree in Westerwood, which they recently cut down, the tree crews decided to cut down an ancient cedar tree in Latham Park that
Beep (Continued from page 14) people kill people, I believe the following approach may be the most comprehensive and effective strategy to stop gun violence. Rather than banning guns, let’s ban all people associated with the NRA from breathing air anywhere on the planet earth. The same way the NRA grades members of Congress on their positions on guns, I’ve graded the NRA on their positions on guns and have given them an F- based on their childish, immoral, selfish and unethical beliefs and their complete disregard for human life. It is clear that the most recent inexplicable and unconscionable five to four Supreme Court decision regarding the Second Amendment lacks intellectual integrity and is not legally supportable. It is also clear that this horrendously wrong decision will be overturned the minute one of the current justices that voted for it are replaced on the court by an intelligent, ethical and legally qualified new justice. %%%
%%% This country can make more mountains out of molehills than any country in the world. This thing about putting armed guards in school. Well, certainly they need it. One quarter of a cent tax on each gallon of gas sold in this country would put a trained
(Continued on page 28)
Rumors (Continued from page 25) I wonder is, does that license plate help or hurt, say if you happen to be speeding or parked illegally. --If you were wondering what kind of coverage the new Republican state government was going to get from the News & Record, the answer was in Sunday’s paper. A story on the new Republican government has a front page picture of Democratic state Rep. Marcus Brandon, inside photos of Democratic Reps. Alma Adams and Pricey Harrison, and one of Republican state Rep. Jon Hardister being sworn in. The story has quotes from the Democrats but not from Hardister. Missing in action were Republican state Reps. John Blust and John Faircloth and Republican state Sen. Trudy Wade. So it appears we are going to get the Republican state government from a Democratic point of view. --Justin Bieber and The Rhino go way back, which is one reason The Rhino has some tickets to give away for Justin’s show at the Greensboro Coliseum on Jan. 19. If you would like to enter the drawing to win two tickets to see Justin, complete with VIP parking, go to rhinotimes.com, look for the box that says “Enter to Win Free Tickets” and follow the directions. Good luck. ---
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Uncle Orson (Continued from page 12) the others? Meanwhile, Amazon.com continues to be the most effective department store online, and I continue to be a regular customer, because they do almost everything better than anybody else. It’s only as a writer that I find Amazon. com terrifying. I dread the day when they are the only publisher. How will they punish me then, for my opposition to their monopoly now? For they have already proven themselves to be punishers – when my publisher refused to go along with their impossible demand for too-low ebook prices, Amazon. com temporarily stopped selling their print books as well – including mine. The message was clear: If you don’t obey Amazon, you will be punished. Fortunately, people did want my books enough to buy them from other sources, and Amazon finally relented. For the time being. But if the government prevails in its pernicious lawsuit to force publishers to meet Amazon’s price, it will eventually put many publishers out of business and leave us with only Amazon. And then we’ll see how they punish holdouts and resisters like me, who believe the free market must
Yost (Continued from page 14) National Park, approximately 70km away from the actual location of Mildura. Police are extremely concerned as there is no water supply within the park and temperatures can reach as high as 46 degrees [115 degrees Fahrenheit], making this a potentially life-threatening issue. So the iPhone sends people into a 1,900-square-mile remote wasteland with scorching temperatures, no gas, no food, no water and virtually no cell phone reception. So far, police in Australia say they’ve had to rescue five Mildura-bound vehicles with people who the app sent to the national park that’s nowhere near Mildura. One report said using the maps app could be “a death warrant.” In one case, a guy got stuck and was stranded with no food and no water. He had to get out of the car and he walked for a day and a night to get to an area where he could get cell reception. Right now, the death toll remains at zero – but it’s certainly not from a lack of effort from the Apple maps app. Do you think that’s really just a glitch and not Apple maps trying to kill us? Well, if you believe that, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn you can jump off of. Is the maps app not working? Or is it working exactly the way it wants to work – just as called for in Skynet’s master plan. Once you start to see the pattern
be protected against the monopolistic practices that are the natural tendency of capitalism.
I believe in recycling. And with a houseful of very convenient plastic grocery bags, I try my best to find uses for them. I often walk my shirts to the cleaner, carrying them folded up inside plastic grocery bags. I figure that second use takes some of the curse off the waste of plastic. But here’s an even cooler way to reuse all your plastic grocery bags at least once. Sportys.com sells the “bag can,” an attractive metal wastebasket specifically designed to use plastic grocery bags as the liner. The cans are solid and well-made; the grocery-bag fit is perfect. The can costs about 30 bucks, plus shipping. We have them all over the house, and we really are using up those grocery bags in a productive way. Considering that it’s almost impossible to find trash can liners in small sizes, and they don’t stay in place anyway, the Sporty’s Stainless Steel Bag Can is the best small wastebasket you can buy – and the plastic liners come free with your groceries! https://www.sportys.com/ToolShop/ product/2421
Schedule CHECK US OUT ON THE OPEN HOUSE PAGE
Greensboro Natural Science Center 4301 Lawndale Drive
Extended Through Jan. 20 Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato
Due to popular demand, the Natural Science Center is extending the Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato through Sunday, Jan. 20 and will be offering a new lower admission rate of $6 for members and $12 for non-members. Audio tours, in both English and Spanish, are also on sale for $2.50. This collection of rare, shocking and completely accidental mummies – miners, fathers, mothers, soldiers, farmers and children – combines science, art, history and cultural anthropology to immerse the visitor in a world of a Mexican city over 100 years ago where deceased residents were naturally mummified in their crypts. They are revered by their descendents and have been visited by millions. For information, call (336) 288-3769 or visit www.natsci.org.
Big Bertha’s Birthday Party
everything begins to fall into place. Like, why is the navigation system on my RX-8 constantly telling me to make a U-turn on the highway – right into head-on traffic. And that’s just the tip of the hat: All the other machines are in on it as well. Even vending machines, on average, kill three people in the US each year. I once read that worldwide each year, more people are killed by vending machines than by sharks. They put their money in, the machine fails to release the Almond Joy bar or whatever, and so they shake the machine and it falls on them and kills them. If you think about it, it’s highly alarming that a stationary, dim-witted machine full of candy or soft drinks can trick us to our deaths so easily. As you go about your daily life and come across other devices and machines, like vending machines, see it for what it really is – not a candy-dispensing aid of convenience to humankind with good will toward all, but, instead, a lurking deathtrap, waiting silently in the hallway nook or snack room cranny for the first chance to strike out and crush you to death. Even my innocent looking toaster tries to kill me all the time. It keeps the toast from popping up and I get a fork out and I’m ready to jam it down in there, but then I catch myself and think, “Oh wait, I know what’s going on – my simple little toaster is trying to electrocute me.” I smile at it and shake my head knowingly, and I say, “Well played, my evil little friend, well played – but this morning I have outwitted you to live another day.”
On Monday, Jan 21 at 2 p.m., help the science center celebrate Bertha the Burmese Python’s 20th birthday. Kids can sign her birthday card, do fun crafts and witness the weighing and measuring of Bertha. The party is free with general admission and/or membership. For information, call (336) 288-3769 or visit www.natsci.org
Daily at 11:30 a.m., 2 and 3:30 p.m., Keeper Talks are wonderful way to learn more about Animal Discovery residents from the experts. Keeper Talk schedules are posted daily at the entrance to Animal Discovery, which is subject to change during inclement weather or issues with animal health or safety. Talks are free with general admission.
Greensboro Children’s Museum 220 North Church St.
Cooking Together: Soup & Sandwich
On Saturday, Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., warm up around the table and learn to make a classic winter soup and sandwich combination. The event is for children ages 5 and up. Tickets are $45 per parent/child ticket, additional children are $10 each. For more information, visit www.gcmuseum.com or call 574-2898.
Children Are Our Future This schedule brought to you by your friends & neighbors at (336) 282-4414
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Tax Reform (Continued from page 1)
down to Raleigh and get to work, starting Jan. 30. Talking to two Republican House members – Dist. 62 Rep. John Blust, a long time veteran of the General Assembly, and rookie Dist. 59 Rep. Jon Hardister – you hear the same lyrics but very different melodies. Blust has been around. He is serving his seventh term in the House, having been first elected to the House in 2000, and in 1996 he served a term-and-ahalf in the state Senate. So Blust has spent the vast majority of his time in the legislature in the minority. The reports would come out after every session listing the Democrats in the legislature as effective and the Republicans as ineffective – the more conservative, the more ineffective. Now the shoe is on the other foot and Republicans like Blust, who had been listed as ineffective, are doing the same stuff they have always done, introducing the same type of bills, voting the same way, and suddenly they have become effective and the Democrats are ineffective. It is an absurd rating system, but it is nice to see it get turned around. However, the mainstream media don’t harp on it as much since the Republicans are now the effective legislators. Hardister ran for the District 57 house seat against Rep. Pricey Harrison in 2010. He ran a good campaign but lost in a district that had been drawn by the Democrats for a Democrat. In 2012 Hardister had a tough Republican primary running in District 59, but was unopposed in the general election in a district that was drawn by Republicans for a Republican. The mainstream media find much fault with Republicans drawing
Republican districts, but for more than a century when the Democrats drew districts for Democrats that was not a problem. What is amazing is that the Republicans won the majority in both the House and the Senate in districts drawn by Democrats to elect Democrats. Only after they won majorities in both houses did the Republicans get to draw their own districts. Blust and Hardister both said it was a given that voter identification was going to get passed pretty quick. There is some question about what form the voter ID bill will take, but there seems to be no question that it will be done pretty quickly. Hardister said, “The top issue is economic development.” But he said, “We have to look at tax reform, reforming the budgetary process and regulatory reform.” Hardister said, “There is an agreement that tax reform is going to be a major issue.” Blust agreed that there was a lot of talk about tax reform, but having been around a while Blust is far more skeptical about getting it done. Blust said, “I keep hearing the words tax reform but nobody has given me any details. I’ve heard no proposals.” Blust noted that the state was facing an ongoing budget problem with the billions owed to the federal government for unemployment payments that would have to be fixed right off the bat. Talking about new Republican governor, Pat McCrory, Blust said he hadn’t heard any specifics about how he planned to accomplish all he wanted to do. He said, “It was a pretty issueless campaign.” Blust said, “We need to get the budget
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
under control and then put some constraints on it so it can’t grow so much.” Blust said he planned to get out his Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) bill and take a look at it. The taxpayer bill of rights would put a limit on how much the state government could increase the budget, most likely basing it on inflation and on the increase in population. It is designed to keep budgets from growing out of control like the current state budget. It is also the type of bill that was dead on arrival when the Democrats controlled Raleigh. Blust also said the discussion the country needs to be having is about the unfunded liability that the government has. Hardister is obviously itching to get down to Raleigh and get to work and is much more optimistic than Blust about the tax reform. Both agree it is a huge issue, but Hardister says he thinks they can get it done. Hardister said, “One thing I don’t want to do is balance the budget by raising taxes.” Hardister said, “I know John Blust has introduced TABOR, putting a cap on spending. But I don’t know if that will be palatable with the House and Senate.” He said that if not TABOR then something had to be done to make politicians more responsible about spending. Hardister said he had heard a lot of different ideas about tax reform, but one that seemed to have some traction was eliminating personal and corporate income
tax and going to a consumption tax, much like the sales tax we have now, but it would be expanded to include services. Hardister said there were some things about a consumption tax he liked, but he wasn’t ready to support any idea until he had more facts. He said the John Locke Foundation had a plan it was pushing that included a flat rate on personal income tax and abolishing the corporate income tax. Hardister seemed confident that the General Assembly would be able to work something out in the way of major tax reform. Blust said he’d heard a lot of talk but not much in the way of specifics. Hardister also said he thought education reform was long overdue. He said, “I’m a strong advocate of education but that doesn’t mean we have to spend more money on education. I support charter schools and tax credits for parents.” He added, “Our goal should be to give parents more choice. More freedom to make decisions about their child’s education.” Hardister said he thought there was a lot of support among Republicans for giving parents more choices through charter schools and tax credits. After talking about the economy first, Hardister said, “Going into my first term the issues that will be front and center for me are tax reform, regulatory reform and education. Those are at the top of my agenda.”
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Yes, Bellamy-Small and Mayor Robbie Perkins need to be removed from the City Council and replaced by someone like Ms. Groat, Paul Gibson, or ex-Mayor Knight, who has some common sense. They are a disgrace to the City of Greensboro to be on the City Council – Bellamy-Small and Mayor Robbie Perkins. Thank you.
Yes, Steely Dan Fan Man. I’d like to say if these county heads’ raises were illegal to begin with, then taking them away would not be unfair. And, in fact, them accepting the raises would also make them culpable in the illegality of it. And I’d also like to say that most of these people have been with the county for many years. And their so-called families should have been grown and moved out by now. And if they didn’t save money throughout those years for themselves, then they’ve been living well beyond their means. And I’m also perplexed with the whole idea, and I think it’s nasty. All right. Thank you, bye.
Richard Adams was a long-term partner to Tom Sullivan challenged for the rights of gays in the US to be married to the people that they love long before it was above the radar. In 1975 these two men applied and received a marriage license in Colorado. Obviously, it wasn’t recognized. This was amazing action on their part. Homophobia was huge at that time. People could still get arrested and imprisoned for consensual sex with people of the same sex in much of the US. That is in violation of basic civil rights and decency to arrest people for who they choose to love. Richard Adams died, and I was calling to make other people aware of this great man who …
Hi. This is High Point calling. I’ve been reading about the county commissioners and how we are being betrayed once again by the progressive, liberal vampire republicats. Lies and deceits are their way of life. We need new blood in High Point, Greensboro, Guilford County and North Carolina. And since there are so many Republicats in office, next election we need Libertarians in office. Why not give them a chance? What do we’ve got to lose when the people we vote for betray us and stab us in the back? Let’s give the Libertarians a try. Thank you.
Robbie Perkins don’t understand the situation when it comes to the people that need the money. He’s giving it to all these other organizations that it’s not necessary. %%%
%%% (Continued on next page)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Gilbert (Continued from page 3) three years].” The county’s Board of Elections has for years consistently requested that the Board of Commissioners grant Gilbert a raise based on his job performance as well as the factors Cohen cites in his letter. However, after the financial meltdown of 2008, the commissioners had been holding back raises for directors until the recent slew of raises and, according to Cohen and Gilbert, even before 2008, Guilford County wasn’t keeping up with the requirements laid out by the state statute that pertains to the pay of elections directors. Cohen’s letter acknowledged that Gilbert received a “very small increase” in salary three months ago, but Cohen added that that raise – which came just months before Gilbert’s retirement – didn’t come close to remedying the wrong of recent years. The retirement pay of county employees is determined by the employee’s four consecutive years of highest pay – which in almost every case is the last four years that employee was with the county before retiring. A retroactive raise going back three years would therefore provide a bump in Gilbert’s annual retirement pay in addition to any cash payout he receives. Gilbert said he had been considering addressing the disparate pay issue for some time. He said that, historically, even predating his taking the Guilford County elections director position in 1988, the pay for elections directors in Guilford County had been low compared to similar sized counties. Gilbert also said the reason behind the timing of his request is two-fold. He said that, before the presidential election, his focus was on conducting the election and there wasn’t really time to address this issue. He added that his impending retirement also made this the right time to submit his claim. Gilbert said he has been aware of the inequity in his salary for some time as other counties across the state frequently increased the salaries of their elections directors while Guilford County did not “After the election, I sat down and put the numbers on paper, and it was selfevident that they weren’t fulfilling their obligation,” Gilbert said of the Board of Commissioners. Gilbert said that, after 25 years of running Guilford County’s elections department, he was still stuck at the midpoint of the pay scale. “That doesn’t make any sense,” Gilbert said. “Why have a pay scale then?” He said that recommendations by the Board of Elections for increasing his pay have been disregarded year after year and he finally felt a need to take action. Gilbert said this move was meant not only to address his situation, but also to create fair and legal salaries for future Guilford County elections directors. “It’s not just for me, but also for those who come after me,” Gilbert said.
In December, shortly after Gilbert announced his retirement, the Guilford County Board of Elections voted to recommend that Guilford County Board of Elections Deputy Director Charlie Collicutt be named the new director of the department. Collicutt is expected to get that job. Like Cohen, Gilbert stressed that this action wasn’t related to the recent controversy about the 15 raises that went to Guilford County directors recently. Gilbert said the history of inequitable pay for election directors in this county precedes his employment as director. “It has traditionally been an underpaid position,” Gilbert said, adding that most of his predecessors in the job had been female. He said that, over the years, the job has evolved into one that requires a much higher level of professionalism, training and responsibility than it did years ago. He pointed out that the elections director is not under the county manager, isn’t an elected official and doesn’t work for the Board of Commissioners. He said that puts him in an unusual category and reiterated that the salary parameters for county elections directors in this state are laid out by the statute cited in Cohen’s letter. Gilbert said that, though the law has been in effect for years and years, in Guilford County the Board of Commissioners has consistently ignored the statute. He said that, either due to “timidity” or due to “subservience to the county manager or the budget director,” the county commissioners have failed to offer a salary for his position that is sufficient to be in accord with state law. Gilbert also said he has studied the situations and salaries of other elections directors in North Carolina looking at factors such as complexity of the elections, the size of the counties and the length of employment of the directors. Gilbert said he focused on comparisons of the state’s seven largest counties – Mecklenburg, where the elections director makes $112,000; Wake, where the salary is $110,000; Guilford, where Gilbert makes just over $99,000; Forsyth, $90,000; Cumberland, $96,000; Durham, where a brand new director is making $80,000 a year; and Buncombe County, where the elections director makes $104,000 annually. Gilbert cites frequently that the elections director in Buncombe County, which is much smaller than Guilford County, makes about $4,000 more than Gilbert. Buncombe County has a population of about 244,000 compared to Guilford County’s population of over 495,000. Last week, the Guilford County Board of Elections sent a letter of support to the Board of Commissioners requesting they grant Gilbert’s request. Shaw said this week that, since Cohen’s letter arrived during the holiday season, it was too early for the county to have formed a response. She said the commissioners
would be conferring with Payne at a future date in order to determine the appropriate course of action. Evidently, the county takes off more days than most at Christmas, since 22 days seems enough time to respond to a letter. In an email, Payne told The Rhinoceros Times that as county attorney he would take
Beep (Continued from previous page) This is in response to that fool that called in about changing the law that gun owners should be held as responsible as the people that stole them when they went out and committed the crime with them. I think he needs to engage his brain before shifting his mouth into go gear, because that would be the same as saying that if his car was parked in his driveway and somebody decided to steal it and went down the road and killed five people and then left the scene of the accident they should be able to hold him responsible because somebody stole his car. Where is people’s common sense? Thank you. %%% Hi. I’m a bit insulted, but not surprised, that Guilford County Schools feels obligated to attempt to reassure parents after the Connecticut shootings that this is nothing new. Our local elementary school is basically run by people like the secretary, janitors and others who don’t step a foot in the classroom. Yet they feel that teachers work for them. The principal rarely steps foot outside her office, and when she does she’s usually playing the fool with her BFS, counselors or coordinators who contribute nothing except push their work to classroom teachers as if they don’t have enough to do. I know they said they were practicing their plans and most of the teachers or neighbors say that’s out and out … %%% Yes, in response to the Dec. 27 Beep that begins on page 25: Typical liberal, if you don’t agree with what he believes about
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%%% Shame on the government for what they’re doing to us. It’s ridiculous. And look at milk. It’s about to double in price. Parents will start giving their kids soda to drink, because soda is cheaper, 79 cents, 89 cents two liters. This is ridiculous. What a deal we’re getting. We ought to get rid of them all. Thank you. Have a great day. %%% Hey, Rhino, this might be a not-veryintelligent idea, but I think it is. Instead of putting teachers in schools with guns, and hiring police and all that to protect our children, we have the greatest military in the world. And they’re government schools, and the military works for the government, and those people are trained. So, why not put them in the schools to sudoku_349A protect our children? Just an idea. Created by Peter Ritmeester/Presented by Will Shortz
2 1 In this day and age, or any day and age for that 1 matter,7the 9bad guys 2getting their just desserts is the best. 4 5 %%% 9 8 6 Yes, this fiscal cliff budget, and all these other things that they’re trying2to work out such as immigration and so forth, ain’t none of those politicians 3 up there 1 got any the nerve to do what needs to be done. If we 4 run our business like they6run8the country, everybody would be broke. Thanks. 9 (Continued on page 33) 3 4 7 349A
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guns, or any other subject really, then you’re immature, selfish, ignorant, etc. Ad hominem attacks taking place as real facts. Hope this helps. Bye.
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his direction from the commissioners. “The letter sets out a legal claim and it’s one that is appropriate for discussion, including discussion in closed session for the board to consult with counsel,” Payne wrote. “If there is a closed session discussion on this, staff will follow the board’s instruction on this.”
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
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Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
(Continued from page 1)
director, several other top level retirements have been announced in the last couple of months: Emergency Services Director Alan Perdue, Facilities Director Fred Jones and Elections Director George Gilbert all made it known they were retiring as well. Add to that the fact that Fox is considered the director of the county’s Administration Department and the fact that two county departments – the Planning and Development Department and the Property Management and Parks Department – currently don’t have directors (they’re being run by interim directors), and that means that eight of the county’s 24 departments will be without directors soon. Guilford County also has a new parks division as of Tuesday, Jan. 1, but it has no parks manager for those 30 new employees. The county is reportedly attempting to fill that position, which it has known about since June. So, in six months, the county has been unwilling or unable to take any action to fill a newly created position – but now, past the deadline for taking over the
parks, it is beginning to start considering beginning the process to hire someone while 30 employees in a brand new county division have no management with experience in overseeing parks workers. Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, who said he is not retiring anytime soon, said the striking thing about recent events isn’t just the number of directors calling it quits, but also the massive amount of experience that’s leaving Guilford County government in one fell swoop. “I think we’re losing about 500 years of experience,” Thigpen said. He said the loss of so many department heads in such a short period of time makes the choice of the new manager all the more important. Thigpen said county employees were watching the search for a new manager closely, and he added that it will be a critical decision for the future of the county. Thigpen said he hopes the board will hire a manager who is professional and has a great deal of appreciation for what a wellrun county government can accomplish.
others have been seen to be dishonest, ineffective or willfully negligent. Fox has received the brunt of criticism for Guilford County’s poor management, and rightfully so. Her highly questionable and destructive activities have been well documented. But other county administrators have also seen a lot of criticism. Weaver came under fire when it took the county three years to shift county employees from monthly to biweekly pay, as well as when her department paid a web development company about $40,000 with no contract in place. When those services weren’t delivered, the county was out that money with nothing to show for it. Also, Jones has been criticized by some county staff who say his Facilities Department hasn’t dealt effectively with issues at the county’s building at 325 E. Russell Ave. in High Point. Staff who work in the building say it has problems ranging from rats and ants to holes in the roof and in the floors. (Continued on next page)
Some county employees said they’re worried the new Board of Commissioners – now run by a Republican majority for the first time since 1998 – will hire a “slash and burn” manager whose main activity will be cutting government to the bone. The Board of Commissioners, which just began the process of sifting through applications for the manager’s position, underwent a radical loss of experience of its own on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. On that day, the board shrunk from 11 members to nine, four brand new commissioners were sworn in, and after that swearing in ceremony 76 years of commissioner experience walked out the exit doors of the Old Guilford County Court House. While the county has lost a great deal of experience on the board, and is losing experience in top staff, it should be pointed out that that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because some of those commissioners were ineffective and turned a blind eye to corruption and, while some departing county administrators have stellar reputations,
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 10, 2013
County (Continued from previous page) Fuller has been criticized by some who say she has consistently looked the other way while Fox conducted all sorts of sketchy activities in the next office over. Regardless, the new board will have its hands full trying to figure out the best way to run the county with all of the sudden vacancies at the top. With the exception of the county’s Board of Elections director position, which is expected to be filled by Guilford County Board of Elections Deputy Director Charlie Collicutt, those vacant positions aren’t likely to be filled until a new manager is hired. Commissioners and other county officials alike said that hiring new department heads should be left to the next manager since he or she will be the one who has to work with those directors. So all the focus now is on hiring a new county manager. One county department head speculated that the current high level of turnover in Guilford County government could negatively influence the impressions of candidates considering applying for the job. Commissioner Jeff Phillips said recently he wants the manager search to move along quickly. He said he hopes the county can have a new manager in place well before the March 1 hiring deadline that was put forward by county staff in a proposed timeline. However, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Linda Shaw said this week that, realistically, she doubts that could happen before March – given that the new manager may have to allow time to leave a current job before taking the job with Guilford County. “It would be April at the earliest before we could get someone in there,” Shaw said. Also, if the new manager is hired from outside Guilford County government, he or she will need some time to become familiar with Guilford County’s operations, financial situation and personnel procedures. Until Fuller announced her retirement last week, there was an assumption that Fuller would act as a placeholder in the county manager’s slot until a new manager was hired and taught the ropes, but now, with Fuller’s announcement of her retirement at the end of February, those plans are up in the air. One county department head said the commissioners were unlikely to name someone an interim manager for just one month. That may be, but their choices are becoming severely limited. When Shaw was asked what the board was going to do about the vacancy created by Fox leaving on Jan. 31, Shaw said that was a good question. “We have a lot of serious thinking to do,” Shaw said. Budget Director Michael Halford is one department head whose name keeps popping up as a potential interim manager. Halford may have applied for the manager’s
job, but, if he did, he isn’t saying. Halford said he didn’t wish to comment on any matter related to the county manager search or the decision about an interim manager, but he was willing to talk about the fact that the county is quickly coming into the height of budget season. He said that having so many directors positions vacant won’t make the task of putting the 2013-2014 budget together any easier. “It obviously increases the level of uncertainty,” Halford said. When Fuller was asked this week if she would serve as the interim manager for the month of February – after Fox leaves and before Fuller’s retirement – Fuller said she would be willing to do so if asked. “I will do whatever the board desires,” she said in her usual reserved and diplomatic manner. Fuller said that retirement had been on her mind for a while and she said she’s looking forward to the free time it will afford her. “I have been considering leaving for well over a year,” Fuller wrote in an email. “As I have shared with you before, it has been over five years since I had a vacation. My leaving could potentially afford perhaps two people job opportunities. My position has not been a 40-hour a week job. On average, I work 75 to 90 hours per week. I work at the office then go home and continue working.” Fuller stated that, after she leaves county government at the end of February, she wants to take some time off and then move on to new things. “I would like to take a short break and then pursue some other interests,” Fuller wrote. “Of course, I will be happy to help the county out any way I can.” Fuller’s letter of resignation was submitted to Fox on Thursday, Jan. 3. In the letter, Fuller expressed gratitude to her coworkers and gave some insight into her decision to retire. “The HR staff, other County staff and the customers we serve have been a central part of my life,” she wrote. “I have so enjoyed working with each and every one of them. It is with much thought and deliberation that I have made this decision. After discussing this with my family, considering my personal goals and my continuing journey as an individual, I believe that I have made the right decision. I have given Guilford County my best over the years and I am proud of my accomplishments; however, it is time for me to retire.” Fox can now put Fuller’s letter of resignation in the pile of resignation letters that has been growing recently. The new county commissioners are getting a baptism by fire with the immense turnover in Guilford County government. “They’re dropping like flies,” said Republican Commissioner Alan Branson, who was just sworn in last month. Branson said he suspects that the arrival of a new Board of Commissioners – which
he said will provide stricter oversight of county operations – likely had something to do with the timing of the announcements. Branson said that, when former Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston had firm control of the board, county staff had “free reign.” However, Branson said, there may be a realization among staff that those days of anything goes are now over. With Fuller’s announcement, and the knowledge it would take the commissioners awhile to decide on a new county manager, there were renewed fears this week among county employees that Fox might attempt to extend her stint as manager past Jan. 31. It’s easy to see why county employees are so paranoid about what seems like a surreal scenario: Fox has had many lives when it comes to governing Guilford County and despite two straight years of one major scandal right after another, the previous Board of Commissioners, as well
as the current board, kept Fox as county manager. There has been a lot of bad blood between Halford and Fox over the years and some county employees said they thought Fox might work against Halford getting the interim county manager job because of that. “If Brenda sabotages all the viable options then they’ll have to ask her to stay,” one county employee said. One high-ranking county official who asked not to be identified said there was some speculation that Fox might back Finance Director Reid Baker as interim manager since Baker worked under Fox for years when she was the county’s finance director. However, other than that, Baker’s name hasn’t come up in talks as a potential interim manager. Shaw said the Board of Commissioners would establish a committee this month to oversee the search for a new manager.
Energy (Continued from page 7) Harris said she did not feel the project had faced any particular delays, but said it was a very complex and time-consuming process, which included collecting 246 points of data for each home to be submitted to the Department of Energy. Harris said there were some instances of payment delays to contractors, which she blamed on incomplete information from some contractors on their invoices. “Early on we attempted to get checks out of the door as quickly as possible for our contractors to avoid negatively impacting their cash flows, providing additional time for some of them to provide the data required by the Department of Energy. After a bit we had to begin enforcing the requirement that DOE data be provided before checks were released,” Harris said in an email. Harris said there had been some
Beep (Continued from page 29) %%% Just read the Dec. 27 Beep. Wow. By being a gun owner I’ve been told I am selfish, immature, and uninformed infantile nut who is ethically, morally, mentally and physically weak with an inferiority complex who lacked courage. See, I must look worse than I feel. Could have been worse, though. I could have been born a liberal. %%% Yeah, I took driver’s education about 30 years ago. And I developed some good driving habits over the last 30 years, which
complaints from residents in the program about work not being completed soon enough, but said, “we’ve got over 1,400 applicants,” and that some were still on a waiting list. The city has focused marketing efforts for the program almost exclusively on five neighborhoods: Ardmore Park, Cottage Grove, Kirkwood, Nealtown and Random Woods. As part of the neighborhood outreach program these neighborhoods have been canvased with information promoting the energy upgrades and encouraging applications to the better buildings program. However the program is available to all residents of Greensboro. The city has attempted to get the word out about the program through newspaper articles, city water bills, yard signs and contractors advertising the program.
includes not being involved in accidents and not getting tickets. You develop those habits over time. That way when you’re doing something else like talking on the phone, those habits come out. Well, if you’ve got bad habits, that’s what comes out when you’re not paying attention to your driving. So, people need to understand that they have bad habits when they’re not paying attention to their driving. It’s good for the rest of us out there on the road. %%% Yeah, when I took driver’s education over 30 years ago they taught us to stay out of the left-hand lane when we’re riding because that is the passing lane. It is a concept (Continued on page 34)
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Under (Continued from previous page) If the TSA is targeting people who are critical of the organization then the entire government is in bigger trouble than anything the fiscal cliff or deficit has to offer.
,,, It would appear that President Obama likes a fight. Why else would he nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense? Hagel is one of those individuals who has the ability to make everyone mad. It appears that he shares Obama’s feelings toward Israel, which are not warm. Obama does everything he can to shun Israel, but puts a smile on his face and pretends that he supports our country’s most important ally in the Middle East. Republicans dislike Hagel because he not only opposed military strategies like the surge in Iraq, but said it was “The most dangerous foreign policy blunder since Vietnam.” He has complained about the “Jewish lobby,” which doesn’t endear him to many in the Jewish community. Obama has been pretty successful at getting what he wants through the Senate, and the Democrats do have a majority, but Hagel should be an interesting battle because the conservative Republicans oppose him and the liberal Democrats seem to love him.
It is astounding that Hagel is a Republican. If you read the editorials supporting him it is like a who’s who of the left. His supporters consist of folks like New York Times editorial writer Thomas Friedman. The Senate has produced some weird anomalies like Hagel, who is nominally a Republican but supported Obama in 2008 and supports Obama’s policies toward the Defense Department, which is to dismantle it.
,,, I realize that I’m fighting a losing battle here, but if the government is going to ban some kinds of guns at least we should be able to talk about what is being banned in sensible terms. No one is talking about banning “assault rifles.” although you will read that in every publication from the lofty New York Times to the lowly News & Record. Most journalists don’t know the barrel of a gun from the trigger, so for them writing about banning firearms is like a Neanderthal writing about banning cars with automatic transmissions. Assault rifles are fully automatic and have been effectively banned in the United States since 1934. They were banned back when the big national issue was Prohibition, and no one is talking seriously about legalizing them. What some people want to do is ban “assault weapons.”
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
The term assault weapon was more or less invented by the Clinton administration when it wanted to ban guns that look scary. Take the plastic stock off most of the assault weapons that were banned by Clinton and replace them with a walnut stock and you no longer have an “assault weapon.” The gun will fire exactly the
same, but it theoretically wouldn’t look as scary so it would not be banned. To talk about banning assault weapons first someone has to define what an assault weapon is. Then it would be helpful if they could give some reason why those guns should be banned when rifles that perform the same functions, but look more like hunting rifles, are not.
Beep (Continued from page 33) that I think they’re either not teaching any more, or the younger people out there just don’t care. Well, those aren’t really good excuses for holding up traffic or just doing what you want because you feel like doing it. And, then, blocking the rest of us from being able to freely move down the road. Recognize when you’re holding people up, when you’re riding the same speed beside someone and either speed up or slow down and get out of the way. It’s not like you can’t move back into the left-hand lane after someone passes. Unless you don’t want to move over because you’re worried they’re going to come up beside you and just ride there like you do. Smarten up, people. Learn the concept of the passing lane. %%% I want to say that guns are not the reason for all of this killing. It’s the crazy people
that gets a hold of the gun. When my brothers was growing up as kids, that is the very first thing that my mother always bought them for Christmas. They didn’t buy them, and the kids had no intentions of shooting nobody. My father owned a gun, and he hung on the wall, and we dared not touch it. A lot of this killing is the parents themselves. Nowadays they think they’ve got to buy their little boys when he gets 9 years old a rifle so he can go out and kill a deer, or kill a rabbit, or kill something. So, don’t blame the gun. A lot of the parents for all of this, too. Not the NRA. And, also, these TV shows they have … %%% Please, drivers, the middle turn lane on roads like Battleground is not a merge lane. Please do not drive on it. You are going to cause a horrible accident.. %%%
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
President Barack Hussein Obama made the rich paying their fair share of taxes the focal point of his campaign. But the question that I have not been able to find the answer to is: Now, after the tax increase, are the rich paying their fair share? Obama raised taxes on the rich; was that enough? The White House press office has not responded to that question. I have read both that now the rich, according to Obama, were paying their fair share, and that the rich were not yet paying their fair share and taxes needed to be increased more on the rich.
,,, Now that we have been over the fiscal cliff and then pulled back to what is supposed to be safety by increasing taxes on the rich and giving a tax break to everyone else, a lot folks are shocked that their paychecks are smaller. Or, I should say, a lot of folks who make less than $450,000 a year are shocked to find that their paychecks are smaller. Although most Americans reportedly received a tax cut in the fiscal cliff deal, paychecks went down. In 2011, a 2 percent reduction in the Social Security payroll tax was enacted. This was done to put more money in people’s pockets with the hope of getting the economy going, but that 2 percent reduction was allowed to expire. So payroll deductions went up 2 percent causing most paychecks to go down. One might assume from that action that the Obama administration is no longer interested in improving the economy or for people having more money in their pockets. The government giveth and the government taketh away.
,,, It looks like our leaders in Washington are going to have just long enough to go home, take a shower and change clothes before the next fiscal crisis, which is going to be about raising the debt ceiling that is currently at $16.4 trillion. Obama has said that he is not negotiating and the Republicans say he has lost his mind if he thinks they are going to raise the debt ceiling without getting some spending cuts. Obama has a point. Every time the Republicans have gotten up to the edge and looked over the fiscal cliff they have run away screaming and given Obama what he has wanted. If this time the Republicans actually put on their big boy pants and are ready to negotiate, they have to be willing to go over the cliff. But to convince Obama that this time they are not going to get scared and cave in they probably will have to put a stop on borrowing money for a while. Certainly the federal government can rearrange payments so that not being able to borrow $1 trillion right away is not going to put the government up for sale.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The first order of business will be that Obama will decide that the men and women in the armed forces cannot be paid. Then they will probably run out of money to buy bullets for the troops in Afghanistan. But I’ll bet the federal budget against a doughnut that no matter how bad it gets the federal government will not run out of money to fuel up and fly Air Force One and Air Force Two. Speaking of air travel, wouldn’t it be great if the federal government ran out of money to pay all the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guards, or at least the funds to pay the electric bills on the naked body scanners? Air travel would increase overnight.
,,, Good news for North Carolinians who live in the northern portion of the state, but bad news for the North Carolina state government, is the proposal in Virginia to eliminate the state gas tax. The tax is currently 17.5 cents, compared to 37.5 in North Carolina. And if Virginia lowers its gas prices by an additional 17.5 cents, then it may be worth a drive to Virginia to fill up. It might not be a good time to be opening a gas station in Eden, Stoneville or Norlina.
,,, Former Gov. Bev “Dumpling” Perdue proved in her last week in office that not only was she a lousy governor, she’s not a very nice person either. Perdue had said she would make a decision on the clemency request for Janet Danahey before leaving office. She did make that decision, and her decision was to do nothing. To make a decision regarding clemency was her right as governor and I don’t disagree with the outcome. What proved she was a lousy governor and not a good person is that she didn’t announce her decision. In 2002, Danahey started a fire in the Campus Walk Apartments that killed four people. She started the fire on purpose, but said she had no idea that dousing a couch in lighter fluid and lighting it would catch the building on fire. Perdue was under a lot of pressure from both sides – those who think Danahey has served long enough and those who think she needs to serve her full life sentence without parole. A one-sentence statement would have prevented all of those involved from being on pins and needles right up until Gov. Pat McCrory took the oath. Perdue knew that whatever she decided would be controversial. But she was getting paid to make those decisions and take the heat. Fortunately for the State of North Carolina, Perdue is no longer holding any office of importance and the best thing for the state would be for Perdue to retire from public life. But somehow these bad
pennies have a habit of turning up again and again. Since, so far, Perdue – unlike her predecessor former Gov. Mike Easley – has not been convicted of any felonies, she may not go down as the worst governor in the last 50 years. But it will still be a close call. A political system that puts a political hack like Perdue and a crook like Easley in the governor’s mansion is broken. Maybe McCrory and the Republican legislature can fix things because the North Carolina political system needs serious repair.
,,, There is an excellent example of why the federal government is currently borrowing $1 trillion a year to cover its out-of-control spending: Greensboro is desperately trying to spend $5 million that it received from the federal government to make houses more energy efficient. Basically, the grant is supposed to be used to insulate buildings, fix windows and make repairs that will make the buildings more air tight, except Greensboro can’t seem to spend the money. Since 2010, when the program started, Greensboro has spent $2.4 million. Now Greensboro says that it can spend the other $2.6, if not before the fast approaching May deadline, then shortly after. Does anyone think that last $2.6 million will be well spent? Furthermore, everyone in Greensboro is eligible for money regardless of their income level. If Obama is so worried about the rich not paying their fair share, why is he giving the rich a rebate for fixing up their homes and businesses – something they would do anyway? It is true that $5 million is a drop in the bucket of the federal budget, or not even a drop in the bucket. But all those tiny particles together fill the bucket. All you have to do is multiply that by every city and town in the country and then by every federal program. There are so many programs. The federal government spends billions on public transportation from buses to trains and subways. The federal government paid 80 percent of the cost of The J. Douglas Galyon Depot, which is the renovated bus and train station, as well as 80 percent of the outrageously expensive new bus maintenance building, and 80 percent of the cost of every bus out there on the streets. Greensboro would have never spent $20 million on a luxurious new bus maintenance facility, except it was free money. The same goes for the Galyon bus and train station. It was done because it was free for the city, and for that reason the city spent far more than it would have ever considered spending.
,,, Banning assault weapons because of the tragedy at Sandy Hook is like banning
By John Hammer sports cars because a drunk while driving a sports car lost control and ran into a school bus. But if sports cars were to be outlawed, the first question to ask is – what is a sports car? This is the same question that has to be answered in the assault weapons case. A sports car has no set definition, but sports cars do have common features. Assault weapons are called assault weapons because they look like assault rifles, not because of the way they perform. Just as you can argue that nobody needs a 30 round magazine, you can argue that in a state where the top speed limit is 70 mph, nobody needs a car that will go 150 mph. But people want fast cars and people want guns. Far more people die in this country from automobile accidents than from gunshot wounds. Automobile deaths could be drastically reduced by reducing the size of motors, increasing the size of cars and requiring far more safety features. The government could require each driver to be outfitted like a NASCAR driver with the helmet, gloves, jumpsuit and head restraints. It would make running to the grocery store for a gallon a milk a much longer procedure, and far more expensive, but it would greatly reduce deaths. A nationwide speed limit of 20 mph would also greatly reduce deaths, except there might be an increase in deaths from road rage.
,,, The fact that Alex Jones of Infowars was detained by the TSA can be interpreted a couple of ways. Jones is a loud-mouthed conspiracy theorist who has made a good living being a loud-mouthed conspiracy theorist. But in this country, being a loud-mouthed conspiracy theorist is a perfectly legal and somewhat respected way to make a living. It is not hard to set off the TSA guards. They are for the most part poorly educated and poorly trained. Their response all to often is to detain people, make them believe they are in big trouble and intimidate them into submission. This technique is the opposite of what is needed with someone like Jones. He may have instigated the confrontation, which has no doubt enhanced his reputation with his followers. But maybe he didn’t instigate it. Maybe it was instigated by the TSA because they knew who he was and wanted to make a point. It is certainly a possibility and if it is true then things are getting pretty scary. Sen. Rand Paul, who has been highly critical of the TSA, has also been stopped by TSA personnel. Rand was detained on his way to the Senate, which seems to violate the constitutional protection that members of Congress have, but nobody seemed concerned about that. (Continued on previous page)
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro