The Rhinoceros Times
Vol. XXIII No. 1
© Copyright 2012 The Rhinoceros Times
Greensboro, North Carolina
Thursday, January 3, 2013
The Best Laid Plans of Perkins by john hammer editor
This is the story of 2012 in Greensboro, also known as how Mayor Robbie Perkins lost the Perkinettes or how not to build a music hall. One theme that has played out over and over again during the year is just how fat the Greensboro budget is. At the beginning of 2012, this City Council, with a new mayor and three new members, was told that Photo by John Hammer
Since we’ve had some warm weather this winter, these cherry trees in Irving Park evidently thought it was spring and are providing passersby with an unexpected floral show.
County Parks Dept: Let Flagrant Spending Begin by Scott D. Yost county editor
Even though Guilford County just took over the operation of its parks system on Tuesday, Jan. 1, the commissioners are already starting to see unanticipated costs and, increasingly, they’re experiencing a parks takeover equivalent of buyer’s remorse. One cost they didn’t expect – and apparently didn’t know about until The Rhinoceros Times
Inside this issue
High Point News............ 6 Entertainment Guide...... 9 Uncle Orson Reviews... 10 Puzzles.................. 12, 44 Yost Column................ 13 Scott’s Night Out.......... 14 Rhino Real Estate........ 15 Letters to the Editor..... 39 Editorial Cartoon.......... 50 under the hammer....... 51
began asking them questions about it – is that in recent weeks County Manager Brenda Jones Fox created a new high-paying position for a parks manager. The new manager will have the title of “assistant parks administrator” and the county’s Human Resources Department began attempting to fill the new position recently. Guilford County has never
Rhino Rumors From staff and wire reports
We’d like to welcome you to 2013. We have high expectations for this year and are hoping that it behaves better than its predecessor. --Justin Bieber and The Rhino go way back, which is one (Continued on page 3)
run its own parks and, until the Jan. 1 addition of about 30 park employees, it only had one employee devoted to overseeing the parks. The county has always outsourced the operation of its parks to the cities of Greensboro and Burlington, the towns of Gibsonville and Jamestown, and to Forsyth County. Guilford County staff had told the commissioners that the county would save about $340,000 a year by bringing most of those duties in-house – however, it’s becoming clear right from the beginning that Guilford County is going to end up shelling out a lot more than anticipated. For starters, there’s the new park manager position that appeared quietly last month. The classified ad, which for some strange reason isn’t posted on the county’s website, was obtained by The Rhino Times through a public records request. It states the salary for the newly created position will fall between $64,042 and $86,456 a year. (Continued on page 44)
it was facing about a $5 million deficit if councilmembers didn’t make some cuts in the upcoming budget. The City Council effectively ignored the budget and instead focused on getting the music hall built downtown, known to supporters as the Greensboro Performing Arts Center (GPAC). But look at what the City Council has done with that $5 million deficit. Nothing of note was cut, but the city wrote a check (Continued on page 4)
A Look Back At Schools In 2012 by paul C. clark Staff Writer
January 5: Guilford County Schools failed to win a Broad Prize for Urban Education, a national award that comes with $1 million in scholarship money. Denver-based education consulting firm RMC Research Corp. paid Guilford County Schools numerous compliments – but found that Guilford County Schools was not doing a good job of meeting federal No Child Left Behind accountability standards.
January 10: The Guilford County Board of Education, before an audience packed with NC A&T State University representatives, including Chancellor Harold Martin, approved a proposal to create an early college on the campus of A&T that would teach science, technology, engineering and math – a STEM school. January 19: Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green held his annual State of Our (Continued on page 48)
Photo by John Hammer
Greensboro’s mayor is talking about cracking down on property owners whose buildings may need work to make the downtown more aesthetically pleasing. But Guilford County just put this monstrosity on a pedestal right beside the governmental plaza. Not only is it ugly, it’s loud.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Making Downtown More Unaffordable
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They say that misery loves company and it certain appears to be true. Mayor Robbie Perkins, after working downtown for over 30 years, recently could no longer afford the expense and inconvenience of a downtown office and moved his company to State Street. Now it appears that Perkins is working hard to make sure the downtown is too expensive and inconvenient for others. Perkins says that he is trying to encourage downtown development, but his actions betray him. When the city wants to attract a business it often reduces the taxes that business will have to pay for a time period; it’s called an economic incentive but what it amounts to is a tax reduction. The city will also often bend a few rules so that the business can get up and running quicker and cheaper. In short, lower taxes and less regulation are used to attract economic development. Look at what the Greensboro City Council is doing for the downtown. It increased property taxes for downtown properties by over 8 cents. Imagine the hue and cry if the city went up over 8 cents on all property taxes. But downtown property owners have to pay the extra money even though more and more property owners are questioning what they get for the extra taxes. Now Perkins wants to increase regulations, not on how buildings operate or how safe they are, but simply on how they look – aesthetics. Peeling paint or a cracked window could result in a fine. If the city doesn’t approve of the way your building looks, the city could fix it up and then send you the bill. The city currently does this for overgrown yards and charges $450 or $500 to cut a lawn. Imagine what the city would charge to replace a window or paint a building. Perkins, as has been reported, is about to go into foreclosure on the home that he owns in Irving Park, so he should know that often when a window is cracked or paint is peeling it is because the property owner finds themselves in tough economic times. If the property owner is upside down on the property, about all he can do is wait it out and hope that the economy improves. This is really about a couple of pieces of property. It really annoys Perkins and his crowd that people can own property downtown and don’t have to keep it up to the standards that Perkins would like to see. It is also about implementing the Downtown Design and Compatibility Manual, which downtown property owners defeated several years ago. The problem is that downtown property owners have real jobs and can’t spend all their time watching the city to see what devilment it is up to. In this case it is an attempt to pass piecemeal what it could not pass in one fell swoop. It is much more difficult to get organized opposition to each piece of the design manual, and talk about a waste of time. Perkins is also talking about having the city spend more money to spruce up Elm Street, as if Elm Street is the only street in downtown Greensboro. On Market Street, the main east-west street in Greensboro, the city hasn’t installed fancy fake brick sidewalks, hanging baskets, fancy street lights, planters, trees or anything else. Why is it that Elm Street is getting all the attention? One reason might be that Perkins lives in a condo on Elm Street, but certainly there must be a different reason.
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Taxpayers Still Subsidizing Trash Haulers by alex jakubsen Staff Writer
Greensboro taxpayers continue to subsidize the private haulers that drop off trash at the Greensboro transfer station. Although the council expressed concern about the costs months ago, the transfer station may not start breaking even or generate a profit for another two years. The city currently charges $41 per ton to drop off garbage at the city transfer station. However, the city spends $47.12 per ton processing and transporting the garbage. The city’s new contract with Republic Waste Services and Hilco Transport has lowered that cost to a projected $46.18 per ton for the fiscal year 2013-2014, but that still leaves a $5.18 a ton subsidy. Without a fee increase the transfer station would produce a net loss of $1.1 million next fiscal year according to a memo sent to the Greensboro City Council on Dec. 7 from Greensboro Field Operations Manager Dale Wyrick. Non-city tons would account for $466,200 of that short-fall. Councilmembers asked staff about the subsidies at a July 17, 2012 council meeting. Several councilmembers questioned why the city wasn’t charging fees to cover its costs. However, according to Councilmember Nancy Vaughan, who served as the council liaison for the Waste Management and Recycling Task Force, the city staff “was
tied up with all the other contracts at that point,” and so nothing was done about the issue. Vaughan said she would have liked for the fees to go up sooner, but she said, “Staff’s preference was to notify the users and do it July 1.” Vaughan also said the council has yet to discuss the issue in depth. “If we are going to subsidize anybody it ought to be the in-city residential customers,” Vaughan said. However, she said she didn’t think the city should be subsidizing anyone’s garbage disposal. City staff has expressed concern that raising the rates could cause the city to receive fewer tons of trash. In the memo to council, Wyrick said one option is to increase the tipping fee to $46.50 in one year but said, “The significant price increase could cause those collectors to take their MSW [Municipal Solid Waste] to another disposal facility at a less-expensive rate.” According to Vaughan, instead of raising the tipping fee to cover expenses at once, Wyrick had recommended a gradual rate increase over the next two years. Vaughan said, “My preference, anyway, would be to do it at once.” However, Vaughan said she understood the concern about losing trash to competing landfills and transfer stations. Vaughan said there are costs associated
with the transfer station, including debt service on the $8 million facility and the cost of closing a portion of the White Street Landfill, which will remain regardless of how much business the transfer station receives. “With all that being said, it might be
Rumors (Continued from page 1) 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. --All newspapers make mistakes. It’s the price you pay for deadlines, but we do hate it when we make the same mistake again and again. Former High Point Mayor Arnold Koonce called this week to remind us that he served two terms as mayor. We know this and we don’t know how we missed it, but somehow the mistake that he served one term snuck back into the paper.
worth the risk to raise the rates to make sure that we’re covering all our costs,” Vaughan said. Vaughan also said she was not sure why the city is not charging itself the full cost of processing and transferring trash, since the city pays the cost either way.
We are going to do our best to make sure that when we refer to former High Point Mayor Arnold Koonce we will refer to him as Arnold Koonce, mayor of High Point from 1999 to 2003. Speaking of newspapers and mistakes, the editor of the News & Record, Jeff “Grits” Gauger, has lived in this area less than a year. He can’t be blamed for not knowing much about Greensboro. But really, the headline above the fold on a Sunday newspaper announcing to the area that there is a major gun manufacturing in the piedmont is a little much. It may have been news to some of the new folks in town, and it was a big deal when they moved here in 1996, but it was not news to those of us who have lived here more than a few months. ---
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Plans (Continued from page 1) for almost $2 million for the old YWCA and then paid to have it torn down. The city didn’t finance it or make any cuts, it just wrote a check for more than the full asking price. Perkins is president of NAI Piedmont Triad Commercial Real Estate. It would be interesting to know how many times his company has paid more than the full asking price for a piece of property that has been on the market for over a year and had no offers. City Manager Denise Turner Roth was told to negotiate a price. She didn’t negotiate them down a dollar, and ended up paying more than the asking price. There are problems with having a city manager with virtually no business or management experience. But taxpayers might want to ask how a city that was facing a $5 million deficit could suddenly write a check for $2 million. The city also wrote checks for $263,000 for the music hall task force and consultants. Nobody in city government has been told how all the music hall money was spent, but the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro assures the city that it was well spent. According to Councilmember Jim Kee, $100,000 of the $450,000 spent by the Community Foundation was used to pay Ross Harris, who is paid manager of the all-
volunteer GPAC Task Force. Harris in 2011 was the manager for the Perkins’ campaign for mayor. Rarely has Greensboro seen such obvious patronage on a city level. The City Council also found $100,000 in incentives for a downtown grocery store and $200,000 for a downtown Mexican restaurant. It seems the City Council saw a great shortage of Mexican restaurants in Greensboro. Back to the music hall that has been an obsession of Perkins and his council. It seems fitting that the music hall got its beginning in a series of secret closed meetings. At the very beginning of 2012, then-interim City Manager Roth and Coliseum Manager Matt Brown held a private meeting with each councilmember in order for Brown to pitch improvements to the Coliseum Complex, including a new performing arts center. Brown had to give the same presentation nine times and Roth had to listen to it nine times, but since they wanted the meetings to be secret and private it was a price they were willing to pay. The estimated cost of the new performing arts center built on the site of War Memorial Auditorium was $40 million, and Brown was proposing a $30 million bond be placed on the ballot. Two such bonds have already been voted down. When this was brought up at the budget retreat in January, it took over. There was
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
very little talk of the budget at the retreat Zack Matheny discovered that if the city and lots of talk of the new music hall, which chose to go that route, it would use up all Perkins said should be built downtown even of the city’s available borrowing capacity. though the figures showed it would cost up So if there were a cost overrun, or an emergency, then the city would not be able to $20 million more to build it there. By now the price has gone up to $60 to borrow the money to pay for it. Considering how much money the million, not including land costs or, for that city has lying around that might not be a matter, the cost of storm water runoff. problem. The council appointed an 80-member But it was enough of a problem that task force that held meeting after meeting Wade, at her last meeting before resigning mostly to talk about how great a new to take her state Senate seat, made a performing arts center would be, but motion to put the bonds for the proposed sometimes to hear from the public about music hall on the ballot in November some potential problems. No one outright 2013. The motion passed 7 to 2 with only opposed it, but there was lots of opposition Councilmembers Dianne Bellamy-Small to bonds. and Nancy Hoffmann voting against it. The music hall was an idea that had not Evidently Hoffmann didn’t get the nod been discussed during the 2011 campaign. from Perkins on how to vote. In her first The issue then was jobs. But Perkins year in office Hoffmann has been the most took it on as a personal cause and a new loyal of Perkinettes. music hall went from an interesting idea to something “Greensboro had to have to be When the YWCA was bought Perkins competitive.” It became the number-one said it absolutely was not being bought for priority, if not of the council, of Perkins. the performing arts center. But then the The plan was to put a bond on the ballot in city hired consultants who said that was November, and the council took two of the the best site and the only site they really three votes necessary to put the item on the considered. It is now the accepted site in ballot. During both votes Councilmember part because it is “free.” Isn’t it amazing? Yvonne Johnson made it clear that she was voting to continue the process, but not to The taxpayers paid nearly $2 million for that site and now it is free. put it on the ballot. District 2 Councilmember Kee said that One of the plots of 2012 was the rivalry his constituents just weren’t that interested. between Wade and Perkins. Wade is a District 5 Councilmember Trudy Wade said conservative and Perkins is so liberal he at a community meeting she had asked for makes some of Greensboro’s more liberal a show of hands of people who supported mayors like Carolyn Allen, appear if not the GPAC and no one raised their hand. conservative, at least moderate. But Wade, The decision was made not to try for who often cast the lone vote against some a November bond referendum but a of the schemes dreamed up by Perkins, discussion was held on holding a special election in the spring of 2013. The idea managed to get a lot done. For instance, the city staff plan was to is that with nothing else on the ballot the renew the contracts with Republic Waste turnout would be incredibly low. The theory Services to dispose of Greensboro’s being it is easier to get people out to vote garbage, and with ReCommunity to take for something than against something. care of recycling for the city, without Then the city finance department came putting the contracts out for bid. up with a plan to finance the music hall City staff didn’t have any idea who else with bonds that don’t have to be voted on was available. Hoffmann, who generally by the people. The interest rate is higher says next to nothing, made the bizarre than the rate on general obligation bonds, statement that it was none of Greensboro’s which is the kind theIf people youapprove, wantbut it business how much ReCommunity was ® is a way to finance projects that the peoplequotes competitive insurance Call MetLife Auto & Home . paid for the recycling collected from don’t want. • Superior Products (Continued on page 7) Councilmembers Nancy Vaughan and • Superb Service • Sound Advice
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Optimistic Manager Search Timeline Set by Scott D. Yost county editor
According to a new timeline for the county manager search, Guilford County commissioners will hold a closed session at the Board of Commissioners retreat on Thursday, Jan. 10 to review candidate applications, and the same timeline calls for the county to hire a new manager by Friday, March 1. Current County Manager Brenda Jones Fox is retiring on Thursday, Jan. 31. So far, however, the board’s only real movement toward finding Fox’s replacement has been hiring a search firm in September, which then conducted individual interviews with the commissioners who served on the previous board. None of the commissioners – old or new – has seen a single application and the board has never held any in-depth discussions on the matter. So getting a new manager by March 1 might seem like an optimistic goal, but several commissioners said this week that the county needs to move swiftly, since commissioners, department heads and the next manager have to start putting together the 2013-2014 county budget soon. The previous board hired the search firm of Springsted Inc., based in St Paul, Minnesota, but then put everything else on hold since a new board was coming in. At the beginning of December, the Board
of Commissioners underwent a radical transformation when it lost six long-time commissioners, gained four new ones, and went from being a Democratically controlled board to one controlled by Republicans. That major reset of the board was followed by the Christmas holidays, and the search for a new manager has been on the back burner despite the fact that Fox will be gone in a matter of weeks. Since the commissioners almost certainly won’t hire a manager by the time Fox steps down, Guilford County will need an interim manager, and several commissioners said they believe Assistant County Manager Sharisse Fuller, who also serves as the county’s human resources director, is the obvious choice. Some have also suggested that Guilford County Budget Director Michael Halford would be a good choice for interim director. According to the timeline, the board will hear a public report from the search committee at the annual retreat, and then, at the end of the retreat, the commissioners will “review potential candidates’ applications/resumes in closed session.” The timeline, which was sent last week from the county’s Human Resources Department to the commissioners, also states: “Commissioners select new County
Manager – Tentatively, by March 1, 2013.” According to Fuller, Guilford County began running want ads on various websites on Friday, Dec. 14. Presumably, the search firm has also been contacting potential candidates. The ad posted by the county’s Human Resources Department states that Guilford County is seeking “a results oriented County Manager with excellent management skills and a high level of integrity and vision.” Minimum requirements for the position are a bachelor’s degree in public administration, business administration, finance or a related field. A master’s degree in one of those fields is desirable as well according to the ad. The ad also states, “Candidates should possess a substantial amount of public and/ or private sector management experience as a manager, deputy or assistant in a comparably sized or larger city or county or business environment with more experience preferred.” In addition, it states the county is seeking candidates with a successful track record in “public finance, succession planning, community building, economic and community development, working with and understanding the needs of existing businesses, building Board and community consensus, assessing organizational
effectiveness and building performance based organizations.” The salary for the new county manager is listed as “negotiable” and as “competitive in the regional marketplace.” The ad states the salary will be based on qualifications and experience. Fox currently makes $183,200 a year as the county manager. A confidential October report from the search firm to the commissioners stated that, based on its interviews with Guilford County commissioners, the next county manager could expect a salary of between $150,000 and $180,000 a year. The ad posted on Dec. 14 also states that the new manager must reside in Guilford County or move to the county within an agreed upon period of time after being hired. The position has a status of “open until filled” with “resumes received by January 7, 2013 receiving priority consideration.” The timeline states that in late January the commissioners will schedule interviews with prospective candidates and, in February, follow up interviews will take place. The timeline states that “Recruitment efforts continue until position is filled.” There has been some concern among county employees that Fox might attempt to stay on after Jan. 31, until a new manager (Continued on page 43))
Thursday, January 3, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro HIGH POINT
Twelve Months Of High Point Highlights by paul C. clark Staff Writer
January 17: The High Point City Council, many of whose members claimed to loathe economic incentives for private companies, voted unanimously to offer Solstas Lab Partners, which is already headquartered in High Point, $500,000 to add a promised 500 new jobs in High Point. One requirement of the agreement between the city and Solstas was that the company must start admitting that it is actually in High Point. Solstas had a Greensboro address. January 24: Longtime High Point City Councilmember Latimer Alexander joined Greensboro City Councilmember Trudy Wade and Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants President and CEO Justin Conrad as an announced candidate for the District 27 North Carolina Senate seat. February 9: High Point City Councilmembers Mike Pugh and Foster Douglas failed in their attempt, at the City Council retreat, to get the City Council to reconsider the appointment by High Point City Manager Strib Boynton of Deputy Police Chief Marty Sumner to replace Police Chief Jim Fealy. February 20: High Point City Councilmember Bernita Sims presented the City Council with a list of the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival’s funding sources and expenses, prepared by the CPA firm Odom & Co. Sims provided the list in part because of criticism of the City Council giving the festival $32,000 for marketing and advertising. The firm checked the math on the figures it was provided but had no independent way of knowing what money was taken in or spent. February 28: High Point Police Chief Jim Fealy retired after a nine-year tenure during which High Point became a national model for community policing. March 1: Marty Sumner was sworn in as High Point’s new police chief.
March 13: The Davidson County Board of Commissioners voted 6 to 0 to petition the North Carolina General Assembly for a local act to prevent High Point from annexing property in Davidson County. The unanimous vote was the result of long-simmering disputes between the two over High Point’s increasing annexation in Davidson County. March 19: The City Council passed the following resolution: “The City Council acknowledges receipt of a check for $5,000 from the Friends of John Coltrane toward the repayment of the $32,000 advanced to the Friends in April of 2011 for promotion and advertising of the inaugural event held in September 2011.” If the councilmembers thought that would end the complaints about the festival, they were wrong. March 25: The High Point City Project brought architect Andrés Duany, a founding partner of Miami-based Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. and a founding member of the Congress for the New Urbanism, to High Point, where he spoke to officials, business groups and the public and critiqued High Point’s development patterns. Duany’s speeches were humorous but all-out assaults on city planners, environmentalists, architects, bureaucrats, road and highway designers and even High Point itself. April 2: The council voted to spend up to $340,000 to attract the shell of a company – Stanley Furniture Co. – to move its headquarters to North Hamilton Street, bringing just 42 jobs to downtown High Point. That was about $8,000 a job, far more than High Point had paid other companies. April 16: Stanley Furniture announced it would move its headquarters to 200 N. Hamilton St. The company’s total take in taxpayer-funded incentives was $751,000, including $340,000 from High Point, $76,000 from Guilford County and $335,000 from the One North Carolina Fund. That was $17,880 per job.
April 21: The Guilford County Board of Education started the process of naming the media center at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point after the late Gina Jacobs, a beloved and game-changing volunteer at the school and a well-known civic leader and volunteer throughout High Point. High Point school board members Ed Price and Carlvena Foster proposed renaming the entire school after Jacobs, which hasn’t happened yet. May 1: Boynton promoted High Point Assistant City Attorney JoAnne Carlyle to city attorney, replacing former City Attorney Fred Baggett. Carlyle, who was hired as assistant city attorney in 2008, got an increase in pay from $120,256 to $140,000. Boynton retained Baggett on a consulting contract at $68,040 a year. May 9: High Point Mayor Becky Smothers announced that she would not seek reelection as mayor in 2012. May 14: The Council voted unanimously to give Ralph Lauren Corp. up to $2 million in economic incentives to add jobs among three company facilities already in High Point – two at 4100 Beechwood Dr. in Piedmont Centre, and a fulfillment center for the ralphlauren.com internet sales site at 201 North Pendleton St. May 24: City Manager Strib Boynton proposed a 2012-2013 budget that included an increase of the property tax rate by 2.34 cents, an increase in the electric rate by 5 percent and a 2 percent pay raise for city employees. June 18: The City Council voted 5 to 4 to give High Point city employees a 1.5 percent pay raise. The $328 million 20122013 budget the City Council approved – a million dollars more than Boynton proposed – also included a property tax rate increase of 1.3 cents to 67.5 cents per $100 in valuation. June 21: City Councilmember A.B. Henley became the center of a conflictof-interest dispute that had fermented for
months within High Point city government. The dispute was over Henley soliciting business from Ralph Lauren Corp., which gets economic incentives, requests property rezoning and otherwise has issues come up before the City Council on a regular basis. The dispute grew severe enough that both Boynton and Smothers intervened, telling Henley that he had to stop seeking business from Ralph Lauren Corp. And City Attorney JoAnne Carlyle advised Henley to recuse himself from votes involving the company. The dispute – kept quiet and handled between Henley, Boynton, Smothers and Carlyle – began in January 2012, and culminated in an angry May 10, 2012 email from Henley to Smothers, the other eight councilmembers, Boynton, Carlyle and former City Attorney Fred Baggett defending his actions and stating his determination to keep doing business as he had always done. June 28: The Rhino Times reported that, in 2011, a company associated with Henley twice tried to win contracts with the City of High Point. High Point officials said they considered the company’s attempts to do business with the city a conflict of interest for Henley and prevented them. Henley said he was an absentee owner of the company and did not know it did business with the city. July 9: Boynton appointed a new High Point fire chief: Rick McIntyre, formerly fire chief of Jacksonville, North Carolina. July 18: Ending months of speculation, Smothers filed to run for one of the two atlarge seats on the City Council. July 20: A flurry of registrations in the last few days of the filing period brought the total number of High Point City Council candidates to 25, including five mayoral candidates and five candidates for the two at-large seats. Henley did not run for reelection. (Continued on page 47)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
(Continued from page 4)
Greensboro citizens. Wade insisted that the city put the contracts out for bids and in the end the taxpayers of Greensboro saved several million dollars. The Rhino Times had a part in causing the city to hire a second consultant to consider the bids on the garbage contract when we reported that the consultant hired by the city had a possible conflict of interest. It was also discovered that Matheny worked for a company that was in direct competition with one of the companies bidding on the contract. But it was determined that was not a conflict of interest. The recycling contract was also a huge mess, which at least pointed out to the City Council what a terrible contract the city had had before. Once again the staff was insistent that the city stay with the same contractor, but at least the city is now being paid for its recycling rather than paying someone to recycle the city’s recyclables. Perkins and his followers are supposed to be this savvy group that knows how to get things done, but they proved to be complete incompetents when they tried to get a ticket tax implemented to help pay for the music hall. The council asked soonto-be-former Democratic state Sen. Don Vaughan, the husband of Councilmember Nancy Vaughan, to introduce the bill.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
In the past this might have been a smart move, but evidently unbeknownst to the leadership on the Greensboro City Council, the Republicans had won a majority of both the state House and state Senate. The bill didn’t even get introduced because Republican state Rep. John Blust, who wasn’t even informed about the bill, had some questions when he found out about it. Later when the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce wanted to get the Jordan Lake Rules implementation delayed, they called Blust and it was done in no time. Note to the City Council: If you want to get something done in Raleigh, call a Republican. They now control everything. This City Council hardly talked about the city budget, allowing the city staff to handle it. Since the City Council could write a check for any amount it wanted at any meeting, the councilmembers didn’t complain. The fact that rather than the city having all that money in the bank, the taxpayers could have been given a tax cut never seemed to occur to anyone other than Wade. Perkins is known for his short attention span, and when a topic like the budget comes up he will suggest that the councilmembers read the material and call staff if they have any questions. Perkins and the Perkinettes moaned
and wailed all during Mayor Bill Knight’s administration that the people who came to meetings to speak were not being treated properly. However, when a whole group of people wanted to talk about the right to legally carry concealed weapons, Perkins didn’t want to hear it and after making them wait hours refused to let them speak, saying they would have to come back at a future meeting. Many came back and spoke, and the City Council still voted to make it illegal to carry concealed weapons in city parks, even for those with concealed carry permits. Perkins and the Perkinettes also passed a resolution in favor of same-sex marriage. The state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman passed by an overwhelming margin in North Carolina in May. This City Council has shown a knack for doing things in the most expensive and complicated manner possible. It came to the attention of the council that food trucks were not allowed in the Central Business District. Eventually the council fixed this by allowing food trucks to operate on private property in the Central Business District like the rest of the city. But first the city staff came up with a way to spend a wasteful amount of taxpayer money for a pilot program this fall. It involved blocking a street every weekday and having a mid-level city employee on
hand at lunch for two months. What it proved is that some people like food trucks. Something that should have taken a twominute discussion and vote turned into a months’ long process that hurt restaurants downtown because there was a designated food truck zone on a blocked-off city street that got free advertising on the city website. When downtown residents and office workers asked for some relief from one particular rooftop bar that plays music really loud into the wee hours of the morning, rather than giving the people who live and work downtown some relief, this City Council voted to increase the legal decibel level. So now that Greensboro has the ordinance with the loudest allowable noise level in the state, thus prompting the new city motto: “Greensboro – First in Noise.” During 2012, the libel lawsuit filed against The Rhino Times and Jerry Bledsoe for the Cops in Black & White series in 2007 finally ended, but not without one more trip to court. The lawsuit had been thrown out of court on summary judgment, a decision that was then upheld by a unanimous decision of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. After the time period ended to appeal that decision, we assumed the case was over and retired Police Officer Julius Fulmore and Police Capt. Brian (Continued on page 41)
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Thursday, January 3, 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.
have you lost jewelry? do you live in an old house? the old north state detectorists, a local association of metal detecting hobbyists, will seek to find lost items at no charge. recent and long-lost items can be located with the aid of modern metal detectors. our members are dedicated to recovering lost items and preserving historical artifacts.
Automobiles should be outlawed and everyone required to ride a bike. It might inconvenience some people because it would take them longer to get to their destinations every day, but thousands of people are killed in car accidents. Thousands more die after being hit by motor vehicles. People falling off or getting hit by a bicycle is rarely fatal, and bicycles take up far less space on the roadways. They also do relative little damage to the pavement as well as savings millions on various roadway maintenance. Congestion on the highway will end. I realize this idea might meet with some resistance, but making America safe is more important. President Obama should immediately make automobiles illegal. Bike riders, however, should still be allowed to carry a gun to kill dogs. %%% Hello, Mr. Hammer. It’s me again. And I’m getting ready to do something I never thought I’d do. I want to apologize to you. I did go back and read some of the Clinton Watch columns, and you just may well be right. Maybe it’s not a black thing. Have a good day. Goodbye. %%% Editor’s Note: Thank you.
For details, visit our web site at www.onsdclub.com or contact our club president, william Purkey, at 336-855-7034.
%%% Guns lead to mass killings in the same way that pens lead to Shakespeare. %%% Hi, this is Tony from the North calling in answering the call you got from High Point calling about Ron Paul voters not voting for Romney. They would never vote for Romney. In other words, you went to a primary, you entered a primary season and because you lost you got angry and you’re not voting for any Republican. That is not exactly what you should do in a primary. If you lose, you should at least have the decency to vote for the Republican if you’re going to be in the Republican primary unless they put somebody like Adolf Hitler up. And I don’t think Romney was like Adolf Hitler. Now, when Obama appoints the Supreme Court justices, you’re going to get what you want, and you’re not going to like it. Thank you. %%% This school massacre in Connecticut was certainly a great tragedy, but it wasn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last unless Americans change our ways. Tightening up gun laws is not going to have a big effect, because criminals will always get guns. So will the mentally unstable. We didn’t have these mass shooting of innocent people 30 or 40 years ago. So, what’s changed? Why do we have them now? Well, number one, we’ve taken prayer and God out of our schools thanks to our noisy liberal atheists. It’s illegal to teach morals or even the difference between right and wrong. So, if our kids don’t learn it at home, they don’t get it in school either. And there is no reinforcement anywhere anymore. You used to get that difference in right and wrong at home, church, school, your teachers, your friends’ parents, everybody. Now nobody dares to correct anybody else’s kids. %%% Editor’s Note: The biggest school killing in US history was in Bath, Michigan, in 1927, when school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe used explosives to kill 38 children and six adults. %%% The Ten Commandments are the basis of our laws and the laws of most civilized countries, but they can no longer be posted or quoted in public. What’s so bad about teaching our kids thy shalt not kill? You don’t find the jails full of people who tried to live by the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule. The next problem that we have today is the violent movies, the violent video games, the violence, the kids see it everywhere. And it’s just becomes a norm for them. They see nothing wrong with it. This is the norm. This is (Continued on page 11)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Thursday, January 3, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Uncle Orson Reviews Everything Recycling Rules, Les Miz, The Hobbit by orson scott card
No sooner do I finally figure out Greensboro’s rules for which objects can be put in the recycling bins than they completely change the rules. No longer are we restricted only to plastics in the form of narrow-necked bottles. Now any plastic with recycling numbers from 1 to 7 can be recycled, regardless of shape. This includes yogurt and dairy containers; though of course they still ask us to empty them and rinse them so the workers don’t have to wade through rotting food bits. We can also recycle pizza boxes, milk and juice cartons, and pots and pans. They also take, not just newspaper, but also common sheets of paper like the ones used in offices, schools and computer printouts. This vastly increases the amount of waste that can legally be recycled. And I’m eager to cooperate. The trouble is that a few years ago the city scaled back its recycling schedule, emptying the brown recycling bins every other week instead of weekly. That is not going to work at our house, folks. Even as it was, our recycling was jammed full. Now, with far more items eligible, we need them to come every week, since at least half our garbage will now be recyclable. In a recent article, the rulers of recycling complained that while city residents recycled 28,500 tons of materials this year, they threw away more that 10,000 tons of items that could have been recycled. If they come every week, we’ll give them more.
I don’t know if Les Miserables is the best movie of the year. I still lean toward Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Looper or Argo, and I haven’t seen some of the leading contenders yet, like Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. But Les Miz is quite possibly the best
film musical adaptation of all time. Note that I don’t say it’s the best film musical – I’m not ready yet to evaluate it in comparison with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Singin’ in the Rain, both of which were original film musicals, without ever appearing on stage. Often when stage musicals are adapted for film, the designers and performers get some insane concept of trying to duplicate the stage experience. That’s why we get fake-looking color palettes and sing-yourlungs-out acting. Les Miserables is a different kind of stage musical, for two reasons. First, it began life as a concept album – a soundonly adaptation of Victor Hugo’s beautiful, classic and absurdly overwritten novel. What this means is that 100 percent of the story is carried by the songs. Second, it was created by French composers. Think back to that other classic French film musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, with a score by Michel Legrand. As I recall, there’s exactly one song in it, sung again and again. By that standard, High Noon is a musical. American composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim complained about the fact that Les Miserables has only four songs in it. It’s true, but this does make it four times as varied as Umbrellas; and it’s French, so what do you expect? Besides, Boublil & Schonberg do an excellent job of varying the setting, lyrics and emotional effects of each iteration of the songs, so that it’s possible for audience members not to realize that this song and that song have exactly the same melody. The point of this is that Les Miz is almost, but not quite, a sung-through musical, which is only different from an opera because of the musical tradition out of which it arises. The actors are singing every bit as much as in an opera, but in opera everything is sacrificed for the sake of producing the optimum singing quality, while in the
musical, story and character and passion are more important. That’s why operas don’t translate to film, but a sung-through musical can. Film offers opportunities that aren’t available on stage. While film requires that you “open up” the show, by getting the action out of the handful of enclosed sets that are usual in stage productions, the real challenge is handling the singing. On stage, the singers have to project their voices. Even with amplification, you need to fill the hall with your voice. The great musical performers produce loud and resonant tone that vibrates the audience’s bones – literally. You feel transported, filled, inspired by the power of the voice. But to produce that voice, you have to shape your jaw, mouth, tongue and body in ways that can look weird. On stage, there’s a protective distance (except for audience members who bring binoculars). So you can do what it takes to cast that voice without distracting the audience. On film, however, the big voice isn’t needed; in fact, it can feel absurd. The strength of film is the closeup, and now the contortions that produce the big voice are very distracting. Normally, film musicals are done by pre-recording the vocal tracks and then lipsynching during the filming. This allows the actors to concentrate on performance instead of voice production. However, when we hear a big voice but don’t see the actor doing the things that produce that big voice, it feels false. With Les Miz, because the most important thing is Victor Hugo’s story, they did away with the artificiality of the prerecorded track. But they also did away with the big voice. The actors sang in the moment, and most of the time they sang intimately, quietly, trusting the sound techs to pick them up and amplify them. The result is the most natural film musical I’ve ever seen. It may seem absurd to call it “natural” when almost every word is sung! But singing is not unnatural. No, we don’t normally converse with formal music; but music heightens and intensifies speech, and we are used to hearing lyrics that compress speech into a more powerful diction, so it can be sung. It strikes us then with far more power; it feels more important and, yes, more true than speech. So Les Miz struck a new and unusual balance between singing and acting, between formality and reality. We recognize that there are formal songs behind the performance, but the actors treat their singing much more like speech, including notes too soft to be heard on stage. This really came home in Eponine’s death scene, where she and Marius sing a surprisingly long time while she’s bleeding to death from a bullet wound. On stage, it
invariably reaches absurdity, for there she is with an abdominal wound, producing a strong tone that suggests that she is feeling no pain. But in the film, Samantha Barks sings Eponine’s death song in a quavering, weakening voice that does not deny the idea of pain and approaching death. I’m not suggesting that Les Miz does everything perfectly. Some of the actors could not resist the temptation to overact in closeup. Anne Hathaway sometimes forgot that closeups magnify every facial expression. The effect is to make us think she’s trying too hard. Film acting is barely acting at all, and this is just as true when the words are being sung. More important, though, is that, because movie musicals are rarely made any more (and when they are, they’re usually overedited monstrosities like Moulin Rouge and Chicago), actor-singers have forgotten that the very fact that words are being sung carries an enormous power. The goal is not for the actors to display emotion, but for the story to make the audience feel emotions. In fact, there’s often an inverse relation: The more emotion the actors show, the less the audience needs to feel. The greatest audience emotion comes when the character displays almost no emotion at times when we know that there must be unbearable inner turmoil. In other words, Anne Hathaway sometimes comes perilously close to that precipice where the actor’s emotions are pushed so hard that the audience is distracted or – the worst response of all – laughs. Close – but she never quite goes over the edge. Maybe there are takes where she did, and we owe it to the director and editor that they never let her go to the point of absurdity. Fortunately, because of Hugo’s novel, the female parts are good but not dominant. The film belongs to three men: Jean Valjean, played to near perfection by Hugh Jackman; Marius, the young idealist and lover, in which Eddie Redmayne does achieve perfection; and police inspector Javert, in which Russell Crowe was a brilliant casting choice except for the tiny problem that he has a weak voice. Don’t get me wrong – Crowe hits the notes, and as you watch the film, you barely notice how weak and thin his singing is. But Crowe and Hathaway are the reason why there is no reason to buy the Highlights of CD. As you watch them on the screen, you are convinced and involved. But listening to them, with no visuals to help you, Hathaway’s overwrought vocal performance and Russell Crowe’s weak one become nearly unlistenable. That was the choice the filmmakers made – to subordinate the music to the movie. (Continued on next page)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Uncle Orson (Continued from previous page)
Because they made choices that ruined the CD, they made the movie brilliant indeed. I cry at movies, but not at the “sad” things, or not usually. People dying don’t affect me – by my age, I must have seen thousands of on-screen deaths, and I am aware that most of the time, the actors aren’t really dying. I take it in stride. No, what moves me to tears in a story are two things: magnanimity and valediction. Magnanimity – greatness of heart – comes over and over in Les Miserables; indeed, one might make a case for the idea that Victor Hugo’s primary intent was to demonstrate greatness of heart, beginning with the bishop who forgives and covers for Jean Valjean’s theft, and continuing through Valjean’s and others’ acts of honor and sacrifice to the end. The magnanimous characters are contrasted with the small-hearted ones – the Thenardiers, who are merely selfish and low; and Javert, who is great in his relentless pursuit of right, but small in his imagination and utterly lacking in generosity. So Javert’s death strikes me as an easy way out for the writer; the Thenardiers are usually annoying; but the magnanimous characters move me, if only because I aspire to such greatness of heart, though I usually fall far short of it. One of the best things about this production is that they cut back drastically on the Thenardiers’ stage time, particularly near the end, where their lengthy and boring “comic” number always makes me impatient. There are important matters going on, and we have to watch these unamusing, dull people cavort? The film cuts them down nearly to nothing in the second half of the film, so they really are a pleasure to watch during the screen time they do have. (Helena Bonham Carter is a delight, of course; and Sacha Baron Cohen is actually watchable; a first.) Magnanimity brings tears to my eyes, but valediction opens the floodgates. This is the moment in a story when someone’s secret greatness is revealed and publicly honored.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
This is the deep underlying dissatisfaction with the superhero movies – even the best of them. Batman and Spider-man are constantly unrecognized, criticized, vilified. Yes, the audience knows their goodness; but we are hungry for goodness to be publicly known and recognized. That’s why in the book (but not the movie) Return of the King, the moment when Aragon honors Frodo and Sam is so very moving. Their sacrifices were private, seen by no one but each other. But the greatest people understood what they did, and so when Aragorn and Gandalf give Frodo and Sam their due – especially Sam, who is the least sung yet the greatest hero – deep emotion is aroused. Think also of It’s a Wonderful Life. Nobody dies, yet we cry like babies at the end. We don’t cry when everything is falling apart for George Bailey, or even when he’s contemplating suicide. We don’t cry when we see how sad everything is in the world without him. We cry at the end, when the whole community gathers to show how highly they value his life, his works, his sacrifices. That’s when the floodgates open and we soak our kleenexes. So it is at the end of Les Miz. Marius realizes that the stranger who saved his life in the battle was none other than his dying father-in-law; and as Valjean is dying, we see him receive honor, in vision, from Fantine, to whom he kept his word, and the bishop who claimed Valjean’s soul for God, who welcomes him into heaven. This is what apotheosis is for, and it’s hard to think of a literary work in which the effect is better earned than in Hugo’s novel – and in this film. Of course, from the original concept album on forward, the musical Les Miz misunderstands what is working. The finale, as written and as performed, thinks that the emotional power is attached to the social cause: The liberation of the working classes. It’s true that the anthems of Red and Black and “Do You Hear the People Sing?” are powerful – they are a brilliantly stirring first-act curtain. But at the end, while the display of a vast barricade that shows the people united
and triumphant, is very nicely done, that is when we dry our eyes. It was Valjean’s valediction, not the cause of social justice, that moved us. Les Miserables is a musical event that bears relistening – I own all the albums and listen to them all (the French original is still the best, but none is perfect). I have seen the stage production several times and was moved each time (though toward the end of the Broadway run, the actors playing the Thenardiers became unbearably bad). But the film of Les Miz is a watershed in filming musicals. It is, arguably, the first great musical to shed the conventions of the stage completely – there is no dancing, and there are no editing “tricks” to replace it. If filmmakers have the wit to understand what worked here, perhaps we’ll see more great film musicals; I’m not holding my breath. Hollywood usually misunderstands what makes great movies great, and imitates all the wrong things.
Beep (Continued from page 8) what’s got to change in our country. The gun laws aren’t going to make a lot of difference. Thanks. %%% Yes, I just want to know if anybody in Washington has ever heard of the word impeach. This kind of president has – he has broke more laws than Clinton and Nixon put together. And there is nobody ever said a word about impeach. Thanks. %%% Yeah, I’d just like to discuss Medicare and Medicaid fraud. I don’t know if it’s the people or the social service offices, but I’ve contacted the social service office twice, and I’ve contacted the Medicaid people to let them know that they’re giving pills – prescribing pills I should say – to someone who’s claiming an injury that’s not really bad, but he’s going to get Medicaid. But what really just gets under my skin is the pills that he’s getting, he’s selling them and I just think it’s just really not right to have
The very things that made Sondheim criticize the score of Les Miz are part of the reason for its success as a film. Isolated songs designed to be standalone hits do not work like this; Les Miz is not about songs, it’s about story. And story is the thing that Hollywood, or at least the money in Hollywood, doesn’t comprehend. Story, when it happens, is brought about almost against the will of the people doing the funding. Which is why The Hobbit was such a dreadful disappointment. Oh, it’s making money – Peter Jackson does know how to use New Zealand scenery to good effect. (Though, to tell the truth, the special effects are often surprisingly shoddy.) In Lord of the Rings, Jackson proved his absolute noncomprehension of story, as he fiddled with one of the greatest works of literature of all time, adding his own childish and stupid story elements while cutting out the very heart (and the primary (Continued on page 12)
taxpayers to provide the medicine, and then he turns around and sells them for a profit. I’ve reported it twice. %%% Continuing. As I said, the pills are sold for a profit. And I’ve reported it to the appropriate authorities other than calling 911, which may be my next move. But I’m not so sure the problem is Obama and Medicare and Medicaid and things like that. It’s the people who are working in social service who don’t have what it takes to – or the knowledge to follow up on information that they’ve been given to pinpoint fraud. So, it’s not even a question of what if, I’m telling them who they are, what their name is, and where they live. And they haven’t gone and investigated. In fact they are still providing the pills, and I just think it’s a travesty as a taxpayer to see taxpayers’ … %%% I think those people in Westerwood need to thank Duke Power for cutting down them ugly trees. And if we have a power outage, (Continued on page 41)
Thursday, January 3, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
The New York Times Crossword Puzzle
PLUS TEN By Steve Savoy / Edited by Will Shortz
1 Wo r k i n g h o u r s
7 Bit of a trickle
11 R e n t a l c a r a d d - o n 14 Series of rounds
18 Unlikely to surprise 1 9 M e g a n o f “ Wi l l & Grace” 21 High
2 2 S i g n - o ff f o r S p a n i s h spies? 2 4 We e
2 5 S u ff i x w i t h h u m a n
2 6 P e y t o n M a n n i n g ’s former teammates
27 Chuck of NBC News 28 Grub around
29 Zero-calorie cooler 31 Parched 32 Scale
33 Hosen material
3 4 Tw o b o t t l e d l i q u i d s kept in a cabinet? 37 Language that is mostly monosyllabic
3 9 L i f e g u a r d ’s s k i l l , for short
RELEASE DATE: 1/6/2013
4 0 S u ff i x w i t h d i r e c t 41 Some red spots
44 Early education
47 Champion model maker at the county fair? 53 Know-___
5 4 D r a i n c l e a n e r, chemically
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.
55 Early seventhcentury year
56 Singer Falana and others 57 Ellipsoidal
5 9 H a n d e l ’s “ _ _ _ e Leandro” 60 At full speed 62 Blather
63 Movies often with shootouts 6 5 Wa c k y e x e r c i s e regimen?
68 20 cigarettes per unit and 10 units per carton, e.g.?
7 1 Wo r l d c a p i t a l t h a t ’s home to Zog I Boulevard 7 2 Vo l a t i l e s t u ff 74 Lions’ din
7 5 “ We l l , l o o k y t h e r e ! ”
76 Sweet-talked, maybe 7 7 H a v e o n e ’s c a k e a n d eat ___ 7 9 H o p p y p u b q u a ff 80 Covering
81 Forbes competitor 82 Green room breakfast item?
86 Onetime high fliers 87 God holding a thunderbolt
89 Expert finish? 90 From ___ Z
9 1 Ti n y c h a s t i s e m e n t
93 Musical composition about a l u m b e r j a c k ’s seat? 99 Home territories
Uncle Orson (Continued from page 11) valediction) of the original. But with The Hobbit, a slighter work to begin with, Jackson’s contempt for Tolkien and his incompetence as an inventor of stories is laid bare. There is no legitimate way to stretch this picaresque tale into three films. But Jackson is that tragic creation of Hollywood: a filmmaker who believes the stupidest things he was taught in film school. Thus every new element he introduces is straight from the bestthumbed volumes of the Collected Cliches of Hollywood, and his use of them is astonishingly uninspired. You know you’re in the hands of incompetents when a movie resorts to that ubiquitous line of dialogue in an action sequence: “Go go go!” When, in real life, has anyone every spoken like that? Maybe now they do, because the line has been so grossly overused in movies; but let’s face it, this is straight out of the Dick and Jane primers.
103 Division of biology
105 Paperback publisher since 1941 106 Siege weapon 108 Swore
1 0 9 Wa l l y o f c o o k i e fame 11 0 S t u n n e r
111 I t s e m p l o y e e s might have jumper c a b l e s : A b b r. 11 2 S h o r t s t o p Garciaparra
11 3 Tr y - b e f o r e - y o u buy opportunities at knickknack stores?
11 6 G o l f e r N o r m a n a n d others 11 7 F a b r i c a t e s
11 8 P a r t o f a n applause-o-meter 11 9 B r o n t ë h e r o i n e 120 Sonny
121 El ___
122 Analyzes, in a way Down
1 Straighten out
2 Some baton wielders 3 Like stocks
4 Modern communications, for short 5 Purse item
6 “Silas Marner” author 7 Mendeleev who created the periodic table 8 Regrets
9 Ti m e w o r n
10 Heavy-duty protection
11 We n t s m o o t h l y
12 Go laboriously
13 The “S” of OS: A b b r.
14 Eponymous Italian city
15 Like Ben-Hur and company when not racing? 16 Handy
32 Dragged (on)
3 5 A . T. M . m a k e r
36 Alternatives to chips, say
63 Elusive African
4 9 “ Ti m e , t h e d e v o u r e r of all things” writer
78 ___ a limb
51 It juts into the Persian Gulf
48 Empathetic response
50 Skewed to one side
“Run, Spot, run!” “Go, Dick, go!” Every change that Jackson makes from Tolkien’s original makes it worse. In the novel, Gandalf overcomes the trolls by cleverness. In Jackson’s movie, nobody is clever – Gandalf simply splits a boulder apart to allow sunlight to shine through. Brute force. Who can read Tolkien and think that brute force is how victories are achieved by the good guys? Peter Jackson filming Tolkien is like putting Saruman in charge of writing the history of Middle Earth. He thinks he’s being subtle and clever, but he never understands what’s really going on at all. The Hobbit is not a great book, but it’s a good one. Tolkien was very careful to keep the use of magic to a minimum, and to put strict limitations on what magic could do. In Tolkien’s work, the power to heal is in few people’s hands – Elrond and Aragorn – and it’s a slow process even so. But Jackson, perhaps too schooled in the usages of videogames, has people healing the sick and injured with the alacrity of picking up health points. Tolkien makes
6 6 D r. _ _ _ 67 “I’m ___ you!” 70 Pacifiers
73 Grilled cheese sandwich go-with 7 6 “ D o n ’t N o b o d y Bring Me No Bad News” musical, with “The”
61 Capone henchman
4 6 “ G a n g s t a ’s Paradise” buyer?
60 Insts. of learning
58 Examine carefully
45 Figaro in “The Barber of Seville,” e.g.
43 One having a little lamb
38 One out?
31 Petal pusher?
28 Fix the coloring of, say
2 1 P o p e A g a t h o ’s successor
17 Jazz pianist McCoy ___
77 Logical start?
80 Invite to the penthouse suite, say 83 Retiring
84 Mail letters
sure that Gandalf is wise more than powerful, and that he intervenes rarely; Jackson uses Gandalf as the secret weapon in all situations. Nowhere is Jackson’s reliance on videogames more obvious than in the battle inside the orc caves, where audiences have a right to groan over a long, utterly absurd sequence of miraculous stunts that make it impossible to believe – all of them designed like a videogame level, complete with the boss at the end. All the cliches of bad filmmaking are present: The bad guys who are 50 feet away and on horseback, yet somehow, a moment later, manage to be 300 yards behind the heroes. The bad guys who always miss, while the good guys make incredibly lucky moves when the story needs them to. Did we really need to have a revenge plot involving Thorin and an orc chieftain? And couldn’t somebody have tried to write dialogue at the level of diction, cleverness and care that Tolkien invariably applied to his work? Despite all of Peter Jackson’s destructive
8 8 H o l d s t u ff
92 Goes without nourishment
94 Detox patients 9 5 G u n n e r ’s t o o l 96 Skirt
97 “Just watch me!”
102 Equilibria 103 Skin disorder 104 White shade 107 Singer ___ Marie 109 Glow 11 0 M o r s e d a s h e s 11 3 M i l . t e a m l e a d e r
98 Hops dryer
11 4 P a n a s o n i c
101 One way to deny something
11 5 C e r t a i n u t i l .
100 Bantu language
and arrogant changes, however, two actors emerge from the mess with his dignity intact: Ian McKellen, who makes Gandalf seem smart even when the writing makes him dumb; and, above all, Martin Freeman as Bilbo. The dwarves, alas, are dwarf soup – the film tries to distinguish some of them, but Tolkien gave us too many of them to work with and Jackson hasn’t the talent to overcome their sheer numbers. I’ve heard people say that Thorin emerges from the pack, but only because he’s given lots of dialogue and the most obvious of motivations. But Freeman, who plays Watson in the new BBC series Sherlock and had a wonderful, if naked, part in Love Actually, is the entire reason why the movie is watchable. His good-natured earnestness transcends the stupidity of the writing, so that we like him and care about him and admire him. As so often in Hollywood, casting trumps all.
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Sidewalk Introduces Yost To New Crowd by Scott D. Yost county editor
Well, with 2012 now safely in the rearview mirror, it’s time to finish up our look at what was up, and what was down, in the year just passed … Down. The News & Record’s website. The website isn’t “down” in the technical sense that it can’t be accessed – it is up and running. But I mean the site is down in the sense of, like, what in the world is going on here? Their old website was a pretty nice one, and the layout made a lot of sense to me, but now I go to the News & Record website and I’m just like, Whaaaa? I can’t figure out how to search for anything or how to do anything else on the site for that matter. Plus, now, if you want to leave a comment on the News & Record site, you have to give them your full name and full Social Security number, your mother’s maiden name, the day, month and year of your birth, as well as the security code for your ATM card. I mean, what’s up with that? Up. The county’s giant new jail. The jail was originally expected to open in December 2011, and the Sheriff’s Department held a grand opening ceremony in midJune – however the new facility only finally began taking inmates in late August. Way down. Available parking in downtown Greensboro. Only Guilford County would build a giant new jail in a downtown area that’s already strapped for parking, refuse to plan for one additional space to go with the new jail, and then inexplicably sell a giant county-owned parking lot right across the street from the jail virtually assuring that there will never be any good parking options for the new jail. Up. Sidewalks and four-way stop signs in Greensboro. In 2012, the City of Greensboro continued its obsessive-compulsive mission to put sidewalks along every road, dirt path and vacant strip mall within the city limits. Likewise with four-way stop signs. As I pointed out earlier this year, the city is currently having a mad passionate love affair with sidewalks, which is perhaps surpassed only by its crazy love for four-way stop signs. The three of them – the city, the sidewalks and the four-way stop signs – need to just go to a motel and get a room and leave us taxpayers out of it. If four-way stop signs can be all the rage, then why not three-way love affairs … Up. The amount of riff-raff on my street. 2012 was the year the city’s sidewalk people finally got to me and my street. A few months ago, they slapped a Port-O-Potty in front of my house and, then, they showed up a few days later with bulldozers and large concrete trucks with giant spinning cauldrons. When they left, my grass was gone and a new sidewalk was in its place. Before that, no one ever used to walk in front of my house; however, now, every time I look out my front window, I see a constant stream of the worst dregs humanity has to offer walking up and down the sidewalk to and from who knows where. For years and years, before the sidewalk arrived against my will, I could work in my yard in peace. However, now – and this is no joke – when I work in the yard, people walking up and down the sidewalk see me and they walk around the front picket fence, walk up my driveway and come up to me while I’m raking or whatever, and they ask me for money. I’m like: Really? You mean that, now, thanks to the City of Greensboro, I can’t even mow or rake my yard on a Saturday afternoon without getting hit up for money? I mean, you expect that when you’re in a shady area of downtown on a Friday night, but, come on, not when you’re in a shady area of your yard. A man’s home is supposed to be his castle. Thanks to the city, I now need to build a moat. Down. Big Bird and Elmo. At the start of 2012, it would have been hard to imagine that, by the end of the year, these two lovable Sesame Street characters would have become two of the most politically divisive and polarizing figures on the national scene, but that’s exactly what happened: In 2012, both Big Bird and Elmo found themselves at the center of storms of controversy. Way up. Etch A Sketch. When I was growing up, this was my iPad. Sad but true. After a run of popularity decades ago, this humble child’s toy – which first hit the scene in July 1960 – laid low for years and years as kids turned en masse to video games and iPods for their entertainment. However, on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Mitt Romney’s senior campaign advisor pulled the long-forgotten toy from the ashes of obscurity with a single off the cuff (Continued on page 14)
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Yost (Continued from page 13)
Scott’s Night Out Let’s take a quick look back at some key moments in the year with some photos I wanted to use but didn’t have space for at the time. I’ll let you guess which is which: (1) the excellent winning table at the Samurai Celebrity Cook-off, (2) pretty ladies partying down at the 105.7 FM Little Black Dress Party on top of the Kress building, (3) another June wedding (late May actually), and (4) Julie Tesh and Lisa Trexlor (behind the mask) on Halloween. Don’t you wish tests in schools were this easy? Happy New Year! –
Scott D. Yost.
remark comparing Romney’s shift from the primary race to the general election to that of shaking an Etch A Sketch and resetting it. As soon as he made that comment, suddenly, Etch A Sketches were everywhere and selling like hot cakes – you know, I mean, if people knew what hot cakes were and, if hot cakes were actually a thing that sold really well. Shares of Ohio Art, the company that makes Etch A Sketches, skyrocketed. The company’s stock price more than doubled in a day, giving the previously obscure toy maker its largest intraday share price increase in over 30 years. Up. NFL refs. Before the referee strike in the National Football League, NFL commissioners were probably saying to each other, “Look, who needs them anyway – any Joe Blow with a whistle and a striped shirt can be a ref.” However, after being forced to watch Lingerie Football League reject refs (no kidding) blow call after call, league officials got antsy. Then, in late September, the replacement refs cost the Packers a win on a prime time nationally televised Sunday night game and in no time the NFL officials were pleading for the regular refs to come back harder than a starving man begging for hot cakes. Down. The ACC. As someone who’s still upset about the addition of Florida State to the league in 1992, you can well imagine that I’m not very pleased with the vast changes in the league that took place in 2012, which saw the loss of Maryland as a member and the addition of Louisville. The situation was so crazy that, two months ago, there were even rampant rumors Carolina was leaving the ACC for the Big 10. Anyway, not only is Carolina staying and Louisville going to be a new member, the ACC has now announced that in 2014 the league is adding 323 new teams. Starting in 2014, conference rivals that used to play each other twice a year in a home and away series will now only play each other once every 52 years. Also, starting with the entry of the 300plus new teams, the ACC tournament will last for 23 straight days in February, with back-to-back games running simultaneously day and night in eight separate locations across the country. In addition, in order to make time for all the games, each ACC Tournament game will only be four minutes long. Up. Candidate gaffs and mistakes. For some reason I’m not sure of, gaffs by political candidates seemed to be way up in 2012 compared to 2011. And I mean on both sides of the island and at all levels of government. Not that 2011 didn’t have its share. At the end of 2011, you had Rick Perry seemingly high on something, sounding
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giddy like a drunken schoolgirl, and his bizarre exhibition was surpassed in weirdness only by the Herman Cain ad’s zoom-in close-up of Cain’s campaign manager huffing on a cigarette. Then at the very end of 2011, Romney – who was trying desperately to capture the imagination of the young voters – made a reference to “Lucy in the chocolate factory.” Look, he’s a zillionaire and you’re telling me he can’t afford Showtime so that he could perhaps toss in a Homeland reference instead of a reference to a black and while television show that went off the air almost a half a century ago? Yet despite all that went on in 2011, 2012 still beat out 2011 for political gaffs. There are simply too many to go into but, just to hit on a couple of major ones, in 2012, Obama said, “You didn’t build that,” and then, in the first presidential debate, Obama looked like he thought he was taking the entrance exam for a mime school rather than trying to win a presidential debate. And of course, in 2012, it came out that Romney had once said he didn’t care about the 47 percent. I could go on and on, but I think you can recall a lot of these on your own. Down. Smoking and freedom. Right around the start of the year, after persistent badgering from the Guilford County Department of Public Health, the county’s last openly pro-smoking bar – Gate City Billiards in Greensboro – threw in the cigarette butts. After a long and valiant fight against the law that went into effect in January 2010, the club finally began enforcing the ban earlier this year. But you know who doesn’t have to obey the no-smoking rule: rich fat cats at country clubs. The state’s anti-smoking law makes an absurd exception for country clubs, which is, I’ll bet, where most of the politicians who passed the law go when they aren’t busy telling others how to live their lives. If you’re going to have laws that take away people’s rights, you should have laws that consistently take the same rights away from everyone – the pool players and the golfers, the rich and the poor, the people passing the laws and the common man. Down. John Edwards’ reputation. Here’s a guy who, not all that long ago, was a serious contender to be president of the United States, but who was lower than low in May 2012 during a long, drawn-out trial that was very good for food vendors in downtown Greensboro but not so good for Edwards’ reputation. Edwards’ escaped a jail sentence; however, in light of all the negative testimony, his reputation didn’t escape. During the trial, his own attorney was like, “Men and women of the jury, we freely admit that Mr. Edwards is a womanizer, a liar and a low-life cheat who abandoned his wife during her battle with cancer for a woman who’s not even really all that hot. (Continued on page 49)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Letters to the Editor Republican leadership fails its own Dear Editor, The Republican Party is on life support and the national leadership is tugging at the plug. The Republican leadership (and I use that term very loosely) at the national level has thrown out the conservative values that have been the cornerstone of the party and the thing that true Republicans have stood on for years and have effectively morphed into Democrat lite. And they took quite a few of the rest with them. It’s obvious that they have totally lost contact with the people that put them there. It’s also obvious that they have no spine, no values and no true concern for the people or the country. I have a news flash for them. This is not a popularity contest. If you are worried about being blamed for something that has to be done, no matter how painful, then pack your bags and leave. Up until now I have never been for term limits but I am suddenly for them. I realize it would mean good people like Rep. Howard Coble would not be there to fight the good fight for as long as he has, but the current system has created professional politicians who think they are there to lord over the rest of us instead of representatives there to work for us. And for those that would “take offense” I have a reply. If in fact you truly think otherwise then pass legislation that would put you on the same system and
All the hard work of the local chapters from the state on down has been for nothing. We have been betrayed by the national leadership. Alan Marshall
Guns in schools Dear Editor, The NRA wants armed guards, or police officers, in every school in the country. I don’t. I thought that America was the land of the free, and home of the brave. How can young Americans be free if the only way they can attend school is if they are surrounded by cameras and police officers? How can young people be brave if they are taught that the only way to be safe is to have a government employee with a gun nearby? If the government wanted to create a police state, putting police officers in every school would be a good start. Chuck Mann Editor’s Note: Many schools already have armed law enforcement officers in them every day. They are called school resource officers (SROs).
Jesus’ stand on social issues Dear Editor, In Chuck Mann’s recent spewing of liberal poppycock, he stated, “According to the Bible, Jesus was a liberal.” If Mr.
Mann is comparing Jesus to liberals of today, he obviously doesn’t know what he is talking about. Today’s liberals say it is OK to kill 3,500 to 4,500 unborn babies daily in the US. Jesus said in Luke 17:2 that it would better for someone to be cast into the sea with a millstone around their neck than to harm a child. Liberals believe in homosexual “marriage.” Jesus, through his selected apostle Paul in Romans 1, described homosexuality as “against nature,” “vile affections,” “unseemly,” “error” and “reprobate.” Abortion and homosexual “rights” are two of the three major planks of liberalism. The other one is enslavement. Oops. I meant entitlement to nanny ship by the government. Larry Allgood
No Benghazi investigation needed Dear Editor, Sooner or later, you’re going to have to let the Benghazi story go, for the simple reason it has no legs. I continue to read week after week a whiny narrative which is mostly fiction (there was no live internet feed to the White House) and has been repeated on Fox noise so often that it’s accepted as fact. Saddest of all was the election week (Continued on page 40)
footing as us. Live and work by the same rules we do. Here’s another suggestion. Get a backbone, some nerve and some integrity and do what is right regardless of what the mainstream media are going to say. So what if you don’t get that precious committee appointment. We didn’t send you there to posture. If you are falsely accused of something then step up and call them a liar in public. Stop sugar coating things with flowery replies. If they’re telling a lie, call them on it in plain simple words. “My opponent wants to starve children and old people” should be answered by, “I called this press conference to say that my opponent has told a slanderous lie and challenge them to prove their claims or issue an apology and a retraction.” That is how you answer them. Compromising sometimes has to be done to get to a solution, but don’t give away the store just to avoid getting your feelings hurt. You are supposed to have principles. If in fact you do (and many have shown they don’t) then show it. Actions speak louder then words. I fear we are watching the demise of the Republican Party on a national level and the eventual development of a single party system in this country. Maybe we do need a new conservative-backed party to replace them, because the lines between the current national Republican Party and the Democratic Party are beginning to blur.
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(Continued from page 39)
effort to ramp up the story’s importance to the point where lying to the public was somehow supposed to turn the election. The deciding factor in the recent presidential contest wasn’t the mendacity of the Democratic candidate, it was the fact that the Republican candidate was the weakest put forth in recent memory and that he basically ax-murdered his own campaign. The only plurality Romney got at the polls was among white males over 50 years of age. Face reality, angry old white guys are not going to win national elections any more. So, let the Libya story die a natural death. Was it badly handled? Probably. Could the State Department have done more to ensure the safety of it’s employees? Without doubt. Does any of this mean that there needs to be a Watergate-style investigation? Not in a million years. Please go on to a more productive posture, like figuring out how Republicans can win a national election when it does all it can to alienate women, Hispanics, gay people and people under 30. Nick Dixon
Election disgust lives on Dear Editor, The pit of my stomach, this is the area that houses several types of pain including bad food indigestion and horrible Election
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Day results. I felt this pain (the second of the two) at around 9:52 p.m. election night. The results of Wisconsin had just come in and I felt concerned, with a mild touch of having just gotten kicked with a steel toe boot right in the gut. Why was I pessimistic? Easy. If you can’t win a swing state that your running mate represents and resides in you are going to have some problems. The results of Pennsylvania had just come in a little earlier and the liberal, free-loading, graball voters had rewarded this state to the president. It was much too early in the evening to leave the festive party at the Guilford County Republican headquarters, but once again that dull stomach pain had amassed to a nauseating feeling of despair. The change that I really wanted and this country needed was not coming. The American people had just reelected the most liberal president of our time, without a record to run on and failure in every aspect of government. The lowest consumer confidence in 30 years, America’s credit rating downgraded for the first time in American history, 43 consecutive months with the unemployment rate around 8 percent, the highest federal spending, budget deficits and national debt at our highest level since World War II, misery index at a 28 year high, 46 million Americans on food stamps, the highest African-American unemployment in 30 years, gasoline prices have more than doubled, and, guess what,
the list of underachievement goes on and on. So what did this country do? Most voters rewarded this administration with 48 more months of complete and utter incompetence. Saul Alinsky radicalism, Bill Ayers activism and White House crony capitalism. Let us pit the wealthy and hard working taxpayers against the grab-all, free-spending, take-what-you-want Obama liberals. What has happened to the intellect of this great nation? Countries around the world don’t respect us. They burn our flag in effigy and kill our troops. Organized unions would rather shut down Twinky bakeries instead of taking an 8 percent save all company payroll cut. We have seen a drastic rise in entitlement programs over the last four years and many of these programs are being pillaged by people whom are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Liberals hate the possibility of cutting entitlement programs and are in love with higher taxes for the upper 2 percent. Mitt Romney, while speaking to a group of committed supporters, mentioned the 47 percent of Americans that would probably side with the president on the redistribution of taxpayer funds. Some of the 47 percent are not true Americans so when the video surfaced, the left chastised Gov. Romney for actually stating the truth. Some of us would rather work hard and some of us are takers. If it is easy enough to receive it some will take as much as they can. The true meaning of this great country is to respect freedom, encourage the free enterprise system, work hard and develop a self-worth that you can pass along to your children, family members and friends. From time to time we should say hello to a total stranger, hold the door open for a lady, for a man. Teach our children to be respectful and kind. The world does not revolve around individuals, it thrives on unity, on progress through strength and harmony. Encourage prayer and don’t ever forget the significance of the 50 stars and the 13 stripes on our flag. I fear that some of us have put our own individual lives above freedom. We have passed along this belief system to our children and we are dangerously developing a self-indulging society. Wake up, America. Introduce yourself to a neighbor you have never spoken with, call a friend you have lost touch with and wave your hand and say hello to someone you have never seen before. I believe we have lost touch with our founding fathers message, which was to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and neighbors by providing and promoting domestic tranquility through mutual respect. The next four years will be a challenge between the hard-working class and those who have chosen to ride their coattails. Hopefully this administration can layout a clean and concise message against social democracy through encouragement and not social assistance. I believe we can prosper once again, by calling ourselves freedom
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fighters. The choice is ours to salvage our pride and dignity so we can build a strong support system for future generations. David M. Palmer
Helpful dose of reality Dear Editor, The fiscal cliff issue is a macrocosm of how many young adults are living their lives, continuing to spend irresponsibly despite their growing student, automobile, and sometimes even housing loan debts. Sooner or later these debts will catch up with Washington and individuals alike. Fortunately, Guilford County residents can keep many of these personal debt bubbles from forming by supporting a wonderful fiscal education program called The Reality Store. Taking place at Aycock Middle School on Jan. 11, The Reality Store will introduce about 50 middle schoolers to what the real world has in store for them when it comes to paying taxes, housing, transportation, groceries, clothing and other costs all based on their limited incomes. The results are impressive with many students’ fiscal perspective changing by the end of event. And for adults, the best part will be your sons and daughters finally understanding why you can’t buy them everything they request. So while DC is out to lunch on the spending issue, you can urge your neighborhood schools to transform their lunch rooms into temporary Reality Stores to ensure our young people stay clear of their own fiscal cliffs. Michael Norbury
Sneaking in downtown design plan Dear Editor, I see the mayor is at it again. This time he’s all concerned about boarded up buildings in the business district. I feel his pain. By my count there are three, and two of them have been boarded up for more than 25 years. What’s the sudden rush now, Robbie? Actually, all this concern over boarded up buildings is just a red herring. What the mayor really wants to do is create new restrictions for the downtown. Perkins and the Planning Department have always expressed the notion that the business district should be operated like a suburban shopping mall, with them in charge. But what they’re really doing now is trying to sneak that tired old Downtown Design and Compatibility Manual in under the radar, piecemeal. This is the plan that was rejected by property owners several years ago. But Robbie and the Planning Department couldn’t care less about private property or its owners. They believe that if a property abuts a public sidewalk it’s theirs to dictate to. Ironically, the downtown has experienced an unbelievable renaissance in the last 10 (Continued on page 42)
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Beep (Continued from page 11) they will be the last one to get their power back, because I like to have power when it’s cold and it’s wet and there’s a storm. So, I don’t know what the big deal was. Those were the ugliest trees I ever saw. They should thank them for cleaning up that mess and having power in the winter. %%% Yes, it’s good to see the UNC scandal probe has turned out that the 702 classes where they’re making up grades, giving out false grades, is not just confined to the athletes but is cheating with all their students. That’s 702 classes, not 702 students at UNC Chapel Hill is giving away free grades where you don’t even have to show up for class. %%% Yeah, I’m listening to the vice president of the NRA give a speech about the Newtown shooting, and he talks about how there’s a bunch of crazy people out there, and killers, and robbers, and rapists, and he’s blaming videogames, and music videos for all this violence. So, yes, we’ve got all these issues. Sure, let’s make a lot easier for someone to get a gun. Let’s just make it where they can walk into a store, not have any background checks, and get a gun. Now, his points are well taken, but all the things that he mentioned are everywhere in the world. They are in every other country
Thursday, January 3, 2013
in the world also. So, I don’t understand how he can compare us without comparing the rest of the world. %%% I have a suggestion for all those citizens of Greensboro where Duke Power left its mess of tree cuttings behind. Find someone with a pickup truck, load it up, go over and dump it on Duke Power’s front lawn and tell them to have a good day. Bye.
%%% Yeah, I just read in the paper an article written by Donna Newton about the art center. I get so sick of people that say they’ve talked to so many people about the center. If she knows so many people that want the art center, put it up to vote. We have leaders who can’t even pay their taxes, but if it were some poor family who owed back taxes, they would garnish their
checks. How about you, Robbie Perkins and Betty Cone, pay for the center that you want if you want it so much? We have a leader trying to run the center when it seems he can’t even run his own house. %%% I have a question. How can God protect our schools if he’s not allowed in them? The Democratic Party has thrown God (Continued on page 43)
(Continued from page 7)
James, who had been ordered by the judge to pay court costs, would do so. Their attorney challenged the court costs and our attorney, Seth Cohen of Smith, James, Rowlett & Cohen, had to take them back to court to have a judge set the exact amount of the court costs, which the judge did, and was what Cohen said it was. Cohen won every single time he appeared in court for this case, but despite his efforts it still dragged on for nearly five years. Court costs, by the way, are the cost of going to court, taking depositions and making copies, but not attorney’s fees. So we were reimbursed a pittance compared to what we spent.
Council and running for a seat in the state Senate – a race that she won handily. In May, Wade won the Republican primary against Justin Conrad, and High Point City Councilmember Latimer Alexander. But her race in November against Democrat Myra Slone did allow News & Record reporter Joe Killian to come up with one of his unique stories. According to Killian, in July a former News & Record reporter Eric Townsend was push polled by the Wade campaign. It was a bizarre story from the beginning, and Wade demanded that the State Board of Elections investigate. The state board didn’t find much of anything, which is not surprising considering the source.
Wade was serving two masters during most of the year: She was serving as the only conservative on the Greensboro City
Wade’s final battle for the year with Perkins was over her replacement on the
City Council. Wade wanted Republican Tony Wilkins, a member of the Coliseum commission and, earlier in 2012, a candidate for Guilford County Commissioner. Perkins wanted anybody but Wilkins and tried to get support for several candidates. In the end, Bellamy-Small presented some caricatures that Wilkins had done of her and former Councilmember Goldie Wells on his blog site. She said they were racist. What she and Perkins didn’t show anybody were the 15 other caricatures of white people, including several of Perkins that Wilkins had done. The majority of the City Council didn’t buy Perkins’ attempted smear campaign and Wilkins was elected to replace Wade. In fact, this was the final straw for some of the Perkinettes, who go into 2013 with a mandate to represent their constituents, not just sing back up.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Letters (Continued from page 40) to 12 years. When I and my wife bought our first piece of property, in 1984, the business district was literally a slum. The city had abandoned the area and provided only minimal services. They were too busy standing in the parking lot of Four Seasons mall, gawking at the wave of the future to be concerned. When we purchased our second property, in 1993, things hadn’t improved much. We were informed by the bank that financing would be difficult because the area was depressed. At the time, we could barely get police coverage for the area, and if it hadn’t been for the Greensboro Court development we might not have gotten cable TV. The city said that there were too few of us to justify Time Warner’s cost. Fortunately, the Greensboro Court development was a shot in the arm, and many private developers and property owners began seeing the potential in downtown. Gradually, there was an upgrade in facades and interior decoration, which induced new businesses to come into the area. Within five years, the downtown started becoming an area of activity. Naturally, once everything was up and running, as surely as spring follows winter, the hucksters from the city and the nonprofits descended on the district looking for their piece of the action. Sadly, the parasite classes will always be with us. An implication that bothers me is the
notion that we’re all just sitting down here on our old buildings, waiting for them to burn or collapse, so that we can collect the insurance. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the past 30 years, I and my wife, along with most other property owners, have invested untold tens of thousands of dollars upgrading these properties. Keep in mind that most of these properties were purchased in their original state, with ancient plumbing, bad roofs, cruddy facades, electrical systems that required replacement, and heat and air-conditioning that was, at best, antiquated. It has been a monumental task over many years just to bring these properties up to par. So, after all these years, all this work and all this money, what is the reward for our efforts? A mayor and Planning Department that wants to treat us like squatters and tell us how to run our lives and properties. An onerous Business Improvement District tax, imposed by City Council fiat, the proceeds being allocated to Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI), a worthless an unaccountable nonprofit, where the money goes and quietly slips down some hole. Of course, the mayor likes DGI. They saved his bacon on one of his mortgages several years ago. I don’t know what the mayor’s true motives are in this matter, but I can assure you that it’s not the well being of the business district. More likely, he just wants to run things.
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Whether the mayor likes it or not, it has been private property, private money and private business that has created a revival in the business district. All the city can do is cause problems. They’ll tax it or regulate it to the point where it will return to its slum status of 30 years ago. This is my final thought. If I couldn’t manage my affairs better than the mayor does his, I damn well wouldn’t be telling others how to manage theirs. J.W. Forster
Firearm facts Dear Editor, Since the recent school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, writers have been voicing their opinions, both for and against stricter gun control measures. Most, however, are basing their statements on myths and inaccuracies rather than actual facts. In order to help provide facts for honest debate, I offer the following. These facts will withstand scrutiny. • Automatic weapons continue to fire as long as the trigger is held depressed. The sale to and possession by the general public was banned under the 1934 National Firearms Act. • Semi-automatic weapons fire one, and only one round, per pull of the trigger. • There is no consistent specifications for what constitutes an “assault weapon.” Legal status of that term depends on an individual state’s definition. Sometimes specific weapons may be listed and other times the status is a matter of a firearm having certain features, such as a bayonet lug or plastic parts. Much of the time the media simply uses the term for any gun that looks “scary.” • Guns in and of themselves are neither “high powered” nor “low powered.” The so-called “power” comes from the caliber (size) of the bullet and the amount of powder in the shell. • The .223 caliber round (5.56 mm NATO with minor differences), for which most AR type rifles are chambered, is a small caliber, medium velocity round and is used in a wide variety of firearms, both semi-automatic and single shot, for hunting (mostly varmints), target shooting and both personal and national defense. • Around the time of the Vietnam War, the US military settled on the 5.56 NATO round as its standard round. One, it’s smaller size and lighter weight allowed soldiers to carry more of it to the battlefield. Two, being a small caliber round, it is more likely to wound rather than kill. Caring for a wounded solider requires more of the enemy’s resources than killing one does. The lack of killing power from the round continues to fuel controversy in the military, with equal sides finding favor and disfavor for it. • After being adopted by the military, the .223 became popular with civilian users due to the easy availability of brass for reloading and the large number of firearms manufacturers who began offering “varmint hunting” and “service target” firearms
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chambered for the .223 round. • Because of its small size and tendency to wound rather than kill, many states do not allow the .223 round to be used for hunting anything other than “varmints” (small game such as rabbits, groundhogs, coyotes, etc.). • To legally purchases a firearm in the US, a citizen is required to undergo a National Instant Criminel Background Check System (NICS) and complete a Federal Firearms Transaction Record, ATF F 4473, which includes statements as to their criminal history and mental competency. Listing false or inaccurate information on the FFTR is “a crime punishable as a felony.” • In any given year over 200,000 persons make inaccurate statements on the FFTR, uncovered by the NICS background check and are denied purchase of a firearm. However, few are charged with the felony as listed plainly on the FFTR. • In most states, the purchase of a handgun (pistol) requires additional paperwork including a “pistol permit” from their county sheriff’s department. A background check is performed by the sheriff’s department and a subsequent background check is performed by the firearms dealer after the FFTR has been filled out. Many states also require a waiting period of several days to several weeks prior to issuing the permit. • The supposed “gun show loophole” is a myth. Federal and state firearm transaction laws remain in effect regardless of location. There is no exemption in the law for gun shows. The same paperwork and background checks are required. • The Second Amendment was never about hunting or target shooting. It refers to the need for a “well regulated militia.” In the vernacular of the time, “regulated” meant “armed” and “militia” referred to a non-government-affiliated people’s army intended to protect the nation from both without and within. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” • The greatest school massacre in history occurred in 1927 in Bath, Michigan. The school board treasurer used a bomb made of dynamite and incendiary to kill 38 children and six adults. Another 14 persons were injured. • According to the National School Safety Center, the number of school shootings has been in continuous decline since record keeping began, with the number between 1992 and 2010 decreasing by almost onehalf. Tom Kirkman III
Gun control and gun violence Dear Editor, The Newtown incident of violence, as with the Aurora, Tucson, and Virginia Tech incidents, brought out the gun control (Continued on page 45)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
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is in place. However, that won’t happen for many reasons – most importantly, serious opposition to that prospect on the Board of Commissioners. It’s not known if Fuller or Halford will apply for the county manager job. In December, Fuller said she was quite content to finish out her career as Guilford County’s assistant manager, and, according to several sources, Fuller has talked about the possibility of retiring from county government in the near future. Fuller consistently plays her cards very close to her chest in all things, so it’s very hard to know what she intends to do. Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Linda Shaw said she hopes Fuller is willing to serve as the interim manager until a new manager can be found. It’s worth noting that, in December of 2008, when Fox was made interim county manager, Fox told The Rhinoceros Times that she had absolutely no interest in being the next county manager – yet she ended up holding that job for four years. Shaw said that, though there hasn’t been much discussion of the search to date, everyone can expect to hear a lot of talk on that subject very soon. “We’ve got to get moving on that and get it going,” she said. Shaw said the commissioners will have a much clearer picture of the situation in a week.
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“It will be discussed at the retreat,” Shaw said. “We will see the applications and get an idea where we stand.” Shaw said Commissioner Jeff Phillips was clearly anxious to get started on the search. Shaw said Phillips had recently asked her to see the resumes but she informed him that the county hadn’t been provided with any yet. Phillips confirmed that he’s indeed eager to move forward with the search. He said he made it known to Shaw that he’s willing to help in any way he can. According to Phillips, when he saw the timeline, he wanted the board to move more quickly than proposed. “My thoughts were we need to pick the pace up,” Phillips said. “I would prefer not to be looking in March or April.” Phillips even talks like someone who thinks the county could have its selection made by the time Fox leaves at the end of January. “Sooner is better,” he said. Phillips said Guilford County is entering into the critical budget process in a year when it’s absolutely essential to find savings in Guilford County government. Commissioner Ray Trapp said the commissioners must balance the need to move expeditiously with the need to make a very good decision – since it’s such an important one for the future of the county. Trapp also said the board needs to decide quickly who will lead the county in the gap between Fox leaving and a new manager
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coming on board. “I think we’ll have to have an interim manager just because of the timeline,” Trapp said. According to Trapp, Fuller is the “logical choice” for the board. “Sharisse is the most qualified,” he said. He said that Fuller, as the current assistant manager and the head of the Human Resources Department, had the knowledge and experience to run the county until a manager could be found.
Beep (Continued from page 41) completely out of our schools. The Democratic Party is responsible for the moral decline in our country. They are destroying any moral fiber that our country was built on. Now, just look at our society. And this is a forward progressive movement of the Democrats? No thank you. Bye. %%% Well, I see some people are upset over Duke Power cutting some trees. And now the City of Greensboro is even getting involved. It would really be wonderful if the tree huggers would get this upset with Planned Parenthood over abortion and the killing of little babies. But I don’t guess this will ever happen. %%%
Trapp said the timing of the new board coming in created a “weird situation” with regard to the search. He said the previous board didn’t want to make the decision since the new board would be the one that had to work with the next manager. Commissioner Alan Branson said he wants the county’s new manager to be “more open” than Fox has been. “My thinking is that the 31st of January can’t get here soon enough,” Branson said.
I was riding down Pisgah Church the other day, and I noticed that the Chick-fil-A did not have their flag at half-mast. Now, when a great American, and a patriot, and a Christian like Robert Bork dies, they should put the dern flag at half-mast. %%% This is in reference to the Alamance County illegal immigrant who used to fake Social Security cards to sign up for cable TV. The News & Record did an editorial on Dec. 26 saying her only crime was wanting to watch TV. Could someone clarify for me if you using a fake Social Security card is a crime for a legal citizen? Do we not have to obey our laws and our Constitution anymore? I’m getting real confused on this. Thank you. Bye. %%%
“If I was traveling through Greensboro, I’d eat at Undercurrent in a second. The food is well-sourced and well-prepared. The people there know that a restaurant experience is about making a diner feel fed and taken care of. It’s not about the chef’s ego, but about a chef who knows how to cook.” Kim Severson, New York Times Atlanta bureau chief, Garden & Gun columnist, and author of several cookbooks including Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life.
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Parks (Continued from page 1) The new parks manager will answer to the Property Management Department – which the county has now started calling the Guilford County Property Management and Parks Department. The ad calls for a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation administration, public administration or a related field, with five years of “progressively responsible experience in Parks & Recreation Administration.” It also calls for one year of supervisory experience or “an equivalent combination of training and experience,” and it states that a designation as a certified park and recreational professional is required as well. The ad states that the assistant director will aid the Property & Parks Management director in “planning, implementing, directing and managing all Parks and Recreation Division functions and resources to achieve the strategic objectives of the department and County.” Sandy Woodard is currently the interim director of that department. Woodard has been interim director for almost two years, ever since former Property Management Director David Grantham retired. One source said information about the opening has been circulated among the 30 parks workers the county has hired. Those workers will have their same duties they did when they worked for the cities and towns that ran the parks up until midnight Dec. 31, though that may change as the county evaluates how its new parks operations are working. The $64,000 to $86,000 salary is just the beginning of what the parks takeover will cost. The new parks manager will no doubt need transportation to move around to the
various parks, office space and supplies, perhaps an assistant, and, as with all county employees, the new head of county parks, along with the 30 new park workers, will get the attractive county benefits package. Guilford County Assistant Manager Sharisse Fuller, who’s also the county’s human resources director, in response to a question about county employee benefits, wrote in an email: “A typical employee with a base salary of $50,000 who enrolls in State retirement, 401(k) and the Retiree Health Savings Plan, and who chooses single coverage for health, dental and life insurance, would get a total annual County benefit contribution of approximately $13,678 as of today.” Commissioner Hank Henning said at the last commissioners meeting that he wants to see the board take another look at the parks takeover decision during the county’s upcoming retreat on Thursday, Jan. 10. Henning said there’s a lot to consider and he said he has never felt all of the real costs to Guilford County have been taken into account. Henning said that, for instance, there’s the current hot topic issue of equity pay. During discussions about some controversial raises to county department heads, Fuller told the Board of Commissioners that all new county employees have to be evaluated for equity pay so that Guilford County doesn’t leave itself open to a lawsuit. Henning said that, with the county adding 30 new employees to the payroll, and all of them being evaluated for equity pay, it may be that the county ends up paying those employees more than they were being paid by the cities and towns they worked for, so, he said, that’s another cost that has to be factored in. The 30 new employees will also create
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additional costs in time and money for the Human Resources Department, which now will have to handle the paper work, evaluations, training, etc., for all of the additional employees. All these costs will cut into the supposed $340,000 savings that the county is no longer paying out to the cities and towns as a management fee. “What are the other unanticipated costs of taking over the parks?” Henning asked. He added that, so far, what he’s seen hasn’t been reassuring. “I need a lot of convincing,” Henning said. “I want to see the numbers that validate that we really save money.” Henning also said he campaigned on the promise to citizens to help prioritize the county’s spending, and he said that, given the pressing needs of the schools, emergency services, law enforcement and other critical county services, he wants to make sure that bringing the parks operations in-house doesn’t create a “burden on the budget.” Both Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Linda Shaw and Vice Chairman Bill Bencini have expressed major concerns about the county taking over the operation of the parks. Bencini predicted last month that Guilford County would find itself in a financial and logistical mess shortly after the takeover and he said it wouldn’t surprise him if the board tried to undo the move in 2013. Shaw said this week that, the more she learns, the more she starts to regret the decision. “Something has bothered me about this,” Shaw said. “I’m not sure we didn’t jump the gun to quickly on this. Are we really going to save that much?” Several commissioners old and new have also pointed out that, aside from the monetary considerations, the agreements with Greensboro, Burlington, Gibsonville and Jamestown have, over the years, helped the working relationships between the county and those towns and cities. Commissioner Alan Branson, who, like Henning was just sworn in as a commissioner at the beginning of December, said the cities and towns that have been operating the county’s parks aren’t the only ones that the takeover has
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rubbed the wrong way. Branson said the county’s Parks and Recreation Commission was never consulted or even so much as notified of the county’s plans to take over the parks. “I sat on the parks and recreation board and, to me, it hit out of nowhere,” Branson said. “It was like a slap in the face if you sit on these boards. We were blindsided.” Branson also said the simple fact that the parks takeover has created a new division within Guilford County government doesn’t sit well with him. “I’m not a big fan of growing the government,” Branson said. Last June, when the county adopted the 2012-2013 budget, the parks takeover was tacked on to the budget at the last minute. At that time, Commissioner Billy Yow pushed for a provision that the board would get to see a detailed breakdown of the supposed savings. Though county staff did make a presentation on parks at a work session on Thursday, August 9, Yow complained then, and to this day – as have other commissioners – that the board never got the answers it requested. Branson said that, when he was running for commissioner, he attended a number of commissioners meetings, including the August work session where staff gave the presentation on the parks takeover. Like Yow, Branson said the level of detail that staff provided to the board at that meeting was highly unsatisfactory. “I was at the meeting and I wasn’t really impressed with the information they gave us,” he said. “I’m very, very cautious about how it will work out.” sudoku_348B Branson said that, even before the Created by Peter Ritmeester/Presented by Will Shortz takeover was complete, it was easy to see county money starting to walk 1 out the door. 8“They’ve already spent5money,” he said pointing to maintenance costs recently 9 7 3 brought to the board and an expensive new online facilities scheduling system 4 that allows citizens to make reservations 3 other park for park shelters, ball5fields and facilities over the internet. 1Trapp4 said5 the current situation 8 2 reminds him of when he2sat on a board that was created to study a potential merger of the 6 (Continued on next page) 3
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Parks (Continued from previous page) planning boards and planning departments of the City of Greensboro and Guilford County. Those discussions were very active in late 2009 and in 2010 and Trapp said that, while there was optimism at first, when the group got down to crunching the actual numbers, it became evident that consolidating the two departments wouldn’t lead to the hoped for savings. “It wasn’t going to save us any money,” he said. Trapp also said that, in the case of taking over the parks as well, he wants to see some hard evidence that the county is going to save money through the move. Trapp said the board should look at all options when it comes to operating the parks. “Everything is on the table,” he said. Henning, like Trapp and other commissioners, said he’s open to the idea of continuing to run the parks in-house if it can be shown that the county actually does save money doing so. He said that’s why he didn’t make a motion to stop the merger before the Jan. 1 changeover. By the time the new nine-member Board of Commissioners with four new members took office, the county was only a few weeks away from the move. Henning said it’s not too late for the new board to address the matter. “The train isn’t too far out of the station,” he said. However, there’s no question that the train did leave the station at midnight, Dec. 31. Shaw said, “A year from now if it’s not working out we can always go back to the way it was.” The assumption that the commissioners can just wave a magic wand and return things to the way they were is, of course, Panglossian. In this case, going back to the way things were is a lot more like putting toothpaste back in the tube than renewing a magazine subscription after a lapse. The cities and towns that have been operating the parks have canceled contracts with vendors and made other changes; and there’s certainly no guarantee that the cities and towns would want to take
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the employees back and go back to the previous arrangement – not to mention that those cities and towns now have a foul taste in their mouths from their prior dealings with the county regarding parks. Perhaps, if they do agree to run the parks for the county again, they might require more money to handle those services or demand a large deposit like landlords require for questionable tenants. Woodard said that shifting parks operations back to the towns and cities would be a complex affair because the cities and towns had contracts with providers that have been dissolved as a result of the county taking over the duties. Guilford County has seven parks that it owns in whole or in part. It owns Bur-Mil, Gibson, Guilford-Mackintosh, HaganStone, Northeast and Southwest parks. Guilford County also co-owns Triad Park with Forsyth County.
Letters (Continued from page 42) advocates. But is gun control the answer or must we really look to other areas. There has been little discussion of the mental health issues and the environment surrounding the perpetrators of these massacres. The sheer nature of these violent attacks on our citizens makes it quite evident that there is and always has been a mental health component in any attempt at the mass killing of individuals. We have research data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the law that implemented the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in effect from Sept. 13, 1994 until Sept. 13, 2004. The data indicates that bans and gun control laws have little to no impact in decreasing violent gun crimes. Based on that data we should now be looking at other areas for the reason behind these violent episodes. Mental health issues have been identified as part of the make-up of each of the gun wielding killers in Aurora, Newtown, Tucson, and Virginia Tech. We now should approach our current laws dealing with mental health issues in a new light. We should be looking at new and more
Until this year, Guilford County was paying about $2.2 million a year to the cities and towns to maintain its parks. Guilford County had been paying the City of Greensboro nearly $330,000 to run and maintain Bur-Mil Park and about $240,000 to do the same with HaganStone Park. The county now runs those two parks as well as Gibson Park, which was previously managed by Jamestown, and Southwest and Northeast parks, which were both managed by Gibsonville. The operation of Guilford-Mackintosh Park, currently handled by Burlington, and the operations at Triad Park, which is managed by Forsyth County, remain unchanged. Before the county created the new parks manager position, it was assumed by some that Roger Bardsley, who now oversees the parks and has the title Guilford County parks planner, would be in charge of the
30 new employees, but clearly, if that ever was the plan, there’s a new plan now. When asked about the current situation, Bardsley said he was unable to shed much light on it. “They don’t tell me much,” he said. Former Commissioner Skip Alston was a strong supporter of Fox’s move to take over the parks, but Alston is no longer on the board and Fox is stepping down as county manager at the end of this month. Six members of that previous board are gone and there’s a new board that is asking more questions – about parks and many other issues as well.
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Point City Project, which the City Council created in an effort to redevelop High Point’s traditional neighborhoods.
(Continued from page 6)
August 6: The City Council approved a $104,000 contract with HIT Solutions and Meraki Inc. to build a wireless internetaccess network to provide free service to downtown High Point.
September 17: The City Council, in a long and unusually heated meeting, approved a rezoning request to allow the construction of a 10-pump Sheetz gas station, convenience store and fast food restaurant on the south side of West Lexington Avenue, between Westchester Drive and Kentucky Street.
August 27: High Point began a two-year process to rewrite its zoning ordinance. The City Council hired the Chapel Hill office of Denver-based Clarion Associates LLC to rewrite the zoning ordinance, guided by an advisory committee of developers, redevelopers, High Point Planning and Zoning Commission members, architects, city planners and members of the High
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Thursday, January 3, 2013
October 1: The City Council carried through with three years of threats to order the demolition of most of an apartment complex in the 500 block of Meredith Street owned by Schwarz Properties LLC
of Asheboro. November 6: High Pointers elected Sims the first black mayor of High Point, and changed the occupants of seven seats on the nine-member City Council. Smothers won an at-large seat. November 19: The City Council voted 7 to 2 to approve, effective in May 2013, the annexation of 431 acres for a business park north of High Point on a site assembled by D.H. Griffin. November 29: Lame-duck Ward 3 City Councilmember Mike Pugh, who was defeated in November by former High Point Mayor Judy Mendenhall, picked
several fights on his way out – one by trying to organize neighbors of D.H. Griffin’s proposed business park to challenge the City Council’s annexation of the land in court and one, oddly, by trying to keep a city-issued iPad. Pugh eventually gave back the iPad. December 3: High Point City Councilmember Bernita Sims was sworn in as High Point’s first black mayor. Sims’ ascension from High Point city councilmember to the mayor’s chair was a watershed in High Point politics. Sims, along with being High Point’s first black mayor, was only its third mayor since 1992 (Continued on page 48)
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Thursday, January 3, 2013
(Continued from page 1) Schools address at the High Point Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 19 â€“ and it was good. Unlike earlier such events, the address was relatively short, not overly sweet and, by the standards of Greenâ€™s and Guilford County Chief of Staff Nora Carrâ€™s unusually grand marketing extravaganzas, straight to the point.
February 7: The school system, to comply with a grading system created by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction found that almost no teachers in Guilford County were incompetent. Social promotion applies to teachers as well as students. February 14: The school boardâ€™s School Safety Committee sat through the results of a federally funded report that found that, of the law enforcement officers stationed in schools, known as school resource officers (SROs), 62 percent reported a slight level of gang-related activity in the school in which they work. Another 38 percent reported a moderate level of gang-related activity in their school. No SRO reported a heavy level of gang-related activity.
February 23: All was not well at Ferndale Middle School in High Point. Since the beginning of February, there were at least six fights at the school and a 14-year-old student was charged with having a pellet gun on school grounds. March 1: Ferndale coach Kenny Angel returned to his job, ending a standoff that began after baseball tryouts on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, when Angel â€“ a teacher and coach at Ferndale Middle School for 25 years â€“ stopped coming to school because of a dispute over tryouts. Parents rushed to support Angel after at least one parent, and the Guilford County Schools administration, accused him of holding invitation-only tryouts before the official tryouts. Angelâ€™s supporters said he had, at most, held skill-sharpening sessions for pitchers and catchers, which is allowed. March 10: The school system released the results of its 2012 â€œEmployee Climate Survey,â€? which found that Guilford County Schools teachers were angry because they had received no pay raises in five years and said theyâ€™re not allowed to discipline troublesome students and feel bullied by principals, students and parents alike.
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
April 3: Green released a proposed 20122013 budget with a $28 million increase that would have increased the school systemâ€™s budget from $660 million to $668 million, the largest year-to-year increase in Guilford County School spending at least (Continued on next page)
March 22: The school board settled on the location of a proposed southeast area elementary school. The board voted 10 to 0 to approve buying a 32-acre tract at 3511 East Lee St. Southeast residents had strongly opposed two earlier sites.
High Point (Continued from page 47)
December 6: Sims pulled off a power grab that hasnâ€™t been tried since 2003, when former Mayor Smothers attempted it: abolishing the City Councilâ€™s committee system and centralizing all control of the council under the mayor. Sims said the change was needed because most of the new City Council was inexperienced and Smothers asked to not chair any committees.
and one of High Pointâ€™s few mayors not to come from Emerywood, one of High Pointâ€™s wealthiest neighborhoods and the traditional home of the owners of its furniture factories and hosiery mills. The other eight councilmembers were also sworn in, ending the largely Republican majority Smothers, a Democrat, had held together for years. Among the members of that voting bloc who left over two years were Chris Whitley, who ran against Sims and lost; Latimer Alexander, who lost his run for the state Senate in the primary; along with Bill Bencini, who was elected to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and John Faircloth, who was elected to the state House, both in 2010.
December 24: The High Point City Project raised $385,000 in pledges of the $450,000 needed to hire Duany PlaterZyberk & Co. to redesign High Pointâ€™s city core, and City Project Director Richard Wood said that Duany would come to High Point in May 2013.
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Schools (Continued from previous page) since the market crash of 2008. Green invented imaginary cuts by deciding that the 2008-2009 state funding for Guilford County Schools, which was $376 million, the most ever, would be the school system’s budget baseline forever, and any cumulative reductions since then were aberrations that should be carried on the books for eternity as losses – a budgetary fantasy. April 12: High Point, on Wednesday, April 11, made an offer to buy 10 acres the Guilford County school board owns on Shadybrook Road next to the High Point Athletic Complex and Miracle Field for children with disabilities. High Point offered $294,300, not the $400,000 Guilford County Schools thought the property was worth. The two parties spent the rest of the year haggling over the price. April 25: Two-and-a-half years into the design of a renovated Allen Jay Middle School in High Point, the project crashed and burned because the architect, Millennium 3 Design Group of Charlotte, pulled out, citing financial concerns and owing subcontractors about $130,000. April 26: Chaos broke loose at the end of the comment period when school board member Paul Daniels used his time to speak in favor of Amendment One, the referendum on the May 8 North Carolina primary ballot for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Daniels’ detour into non-school-related issues resulted in two school board members, Kris Cooke and Jeff Belton, walking out in the middle of Daniels’ speech. May 8: The primary election was a day of upsets in Guilford County school board races. Six school board seats were on the primary ballot, but only two were contested: the District 5 seat held by Paul Daniels, and the at-large seat held by Sandra Alexander. Both Daniels and Alexander lost. Alexander was beaten by a slim margin by Pat Tillman and Linda Welborn beat incumbent Paul Daniels in a blowout. But it was just a primary. June 5: The Kernersville Board of Aldermen took the better part of a year to consider the Guilford County school board’s request to put the $72 million “airport area high school” in the Triad Business Park in part of western Guilford County that has been annexed into Kernersville. It then took three-and-a-half hours to get to the hearing on the issue on Tuesday, June 5, a half-hour to hold the hearing and only a few minutes to kill the idea. The five-member Board of Aldermen voted 5 to 0 to deny Guilford County Schools the rezoning it would have needed to put the school in the business park. July 5: A committee of the school board considered a misguided policy that would almost certainly kill private donations to schools by PTAs, community groups, booster clubs and private individuals
Thursday, January 3, 2013
by taxing private donations by 50 to 75 percent to raise money for an “equity fund” for schools that hadn’t received such donations. June 12: According to Guilford County Schools financial records, the search for 100-plus acres for the proposed airport area high school cost $2.9 million, despite
the fact that the school board never found land for the high school. June 12: The Guilford County school board meeting devolved into a free-forall over a plan by the Guilford County Schools Facilities Department to handpick its bidders for construction projects costing up to $500,000, stacking the deck
(Continued from page 14)
We’re not denying he’s a sleazebag – we’re just saying that doesn’t mean he committed campaign fraud.” If you think about it, it’s really sad, because that’s what was being said about him by the guy on his side. Even after the trial was over, Edwards couldn’t just slink away a defeated man: He had to make a statement on the steps of the courthouse, in which – to the fascination of a nation – he brought up his love child with his mistress. Up. West Market Street United Methodist Church. Speaking of the Edwards trial, this church sits right next to the federal courthouse in downtown Greensboro where the trial took place. Senior Pastor Dave Melton gave up his prime parking space so the church could rent it out to a California-based news show for the length of the trial. The church also let the reporters turn part of the church into a broadcast studio and began charging them for the space. I went in there one day and a whole dining room looked like the set of Newsroom: It was just green screens and cameras and all sorts of television equipment. The church made thousands and thousands of dollars that went to help feed the needy. Meanwhile, the City of Greensboro was only making $5 and $10 a day from the giant satellite trucks that lined the streets downtown and prevented handicapped people and elderly voters from curbside voting during the primaries. Of course, The Rhinoceros Times also could not figure out a way to monetize the trail either – though the World Headquarters of The Rhino Times did become the place
where the elite of the national print media set up shop and operated out of for the duration of the trail. The Rhino did get recognized in a tweet for that hospitality. Down. The Dark Knight Rises. Look, I liked the first four hours OK, and then, the next two hours, not so much, and, for the final three hours I was just ready to get out of the theater. If you don’t know, the dark knight is Batman and The Dark Knight Rises is the mega hit movie of 2012. Now, to me, it’s really strange that this movie is called “The Dark Night Rises,” yet, in the movie, Batman spends 90 percent of the time either flat on his back or moping around with a cane in a bathrobe saying he doesn’t have the heart to fight for anything anymore. Down. General Petraeus. My how the mighty have fallen. I read Macworld regularly, so I know that Gmail isn’t secure; however, in 2012 it became clear that the head of the Central Intelligence Agency thinks Gmail is a very secure means of communication indeed. Petraeus assumed his Google account was safe because he had a really secure password – “secret.” I also heard that Petraeus used to keep his PIN, which is “1234,” written on the back of his ATM card so he wouldn’t forget it. I’m just saying … OK, so that completes our look back at the past year. Now let’s turn our sights toward what will hopefully be a more economically robust, better and, well, overall luckier year – despite the fact that it contains the number 13.
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in order to increase the number of contracts handed out to minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs). June 28: Guilford County Schools reported that parents had run up $500,000 in unpaid meal charges, and administrators proposed capping the amount a student can charge at $17.50. According to Guilford County Schools Chief Financial Officer Sharon Ozment, Guilford County Schools had 9,888 “accounts” with charge balances. Accounts are families, which can have multiple children, charging meals. July 26: The school board approved a $677 million budget without knowing what was in it. Several days before the July 26 meeting revealed that, despite the fact that the North Carolina General Assembly had approved the state budget, the Finance Department couldn’t produce basic fiscal numbers, including the total amount of the Guilford County Schools budget, the amount of state funding Guilford County Schools was getting and the amount of federal funding it would get. Despite dire early warnings, Guilford County Schools didn’t lose any teachers. All Guilford County Schools employees except for Green, who makes $250,000 a year, got a 1.2 percent salary increase. July 26: The Guilford County school board approved, on a 6-to-4 vote, a motion by school board Chairman Alan Duncan, (Continued on page 50)
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Madison, NC 27025 (336) 285-6654 ©2008 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Nationwide Life Insurance Company. Home office: Columbus, Ohio 43215-2220. Nationwide, the Nationwide Framemark and On Your Side are federally registered service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. Not available in all states.
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who himself opposed the plan, to handpick the bidders for a long list of small construction projects as an “experiment.” July 26: School board members Kris Cooke and Darlene Garrett broke ranks to question the $488,737 attributed to the phantom airport area high school, and school board member Ed Price suggested scrapping the airport area high school project altogether and using the money to fix the county’s already existing schools, some of which are in disgraceful shape. August 9: After a turbulent tenure that began only in September 2010, Guilford County Schools Chief Operations Officer Andy LaRowe announced he would retire effective Sept. 4, 2012. August 16: School board member Amos Quick proposed steering business to blackowned banks. On July 24, Quick and school board members Sandra Alexander, Carlvena Foster and Deena Hayes, the four black board members, wrote School Superintendent Mo Green and recently appointed Guilford County Schools Chief Financial Officer Angie Henry, asking the school system to deposit money in the Greensboro branch of Durham-based Mechanics and Farmers Bank. August 23: Having underestimated the backlash from their constituents, members of the Guilford County school board’s Donated Funds for Construction Committee scrapped the proposal to tax
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private donations for construction from PTAs, community groups, booster clubs and private individuals by between 50 percent and 75 percent. August 30: Guilford County Schools claimed that Farley Associates Inc. of Indian Land, South Carolina, the contractor on the $25 million McNair Elementary School at 4603 Yanceyville Road, defaulted on its contract with the school system. The recovery plan for the construction project, originally scheduled to be finished on July 18, 2012, estimated that the school would be substantially complete “no later than October 31, 2012.” That date later slipped to February 2013. September 6: Green, after four years, rolled out his plan to address the “achievement gap” between black male students and white students. Six elementary schools would make a concerted effort to address literacy problems among black male students: Allen Jay, Fairview, Irving Park, Montlieu, Peck and Sedgefield. September 13: The Grimsley High School swimming pool, owned by the City of Greensboro, not Guilford County Schools, and which was closed in 2011, headed for death after Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins said he supported demolishing it. September 11: The school board voted 8 to 0 to consider overriding the way it invests taxpayer money in an effort to steer money to Mechanics and Farmers Bank. Sept. 25: Work to replace the leaky roof
at Allen Jay Elementary School in High Point was stopped in its tracks because the new roof was not designed to meet the State of North Carolina’s building code, according to High Point officials. October 2: In an email to Guilford County Schools administrators and school board members, Guilford County Schools Chief of Staff Nora Carr wrote that construction at the High Point Central gym wouldn’t be finished until mid-December, “delaying use of the gymnasium until after the winter break.” October 20: Members of the Allen Jay Alumni Association, High Point Mayor Becky Smothers and North Carolina National Register Coordinator Ann Swallow gathered at the 1939 Allen Jay Rock Gym, built as a Works Progress Administration project, to celebrate the gym being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school board, with its usual politically tone-deaf timing, on Oct. 9, voted to postpone a $1.9 million renovation of the gym. October 29: The Guilford County school board held a meeting at High Point Central High School to try to pacify angry parents after a second major delay of the $5.3 million project to renovate the High Point Central gym. Guilford County school board Chairman Alan Duncan called the project a train wreck. November 6: Incumbent Guilford County school board member Sandra Alexander beat back a challenge by Pat Tillman, getting 52 percent of the vote, to
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keep her at-large seat. Tillman received 48 percent of the vote. November 8: The Guilford County school board named the new southeast Guilford County elementary school after Dr. George C. Simkins Jr. on a 5-to-4 vote. Simkins was a Greensboro dentist who filed several lawsuits against segregation in Greensboro, including Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, which went to the US Supreme Court and desegregated hospitals nationwide. November 15: High Point Central High School parents and supporters told Guilford County School board members at a public forum at High Point Central that the condition of the historic high school, built in 1926, was a galloping disgrace. December 6: Guilford County Schools announced that the High Point Central High School boys’ varsity basketball team wouldn’t be playing any home games during the 2012-2013 school year at all. December 13: Green’s administration killed the effort by the Guilford County school board’s four black members to divert taxpayer money from the banks Guilford County Schools usually uses to Mechanics and Farmers Bank. December 20: Members of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Johnson Street in High Point, which is building a new school, proposed that Guilford County Schools buy the church’s old school and convert it into a new home for The Academy at Central.
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The Republicans blinked and now they are toast. There is an old saying in business: If you aren’t willing to get up and walk away from the negotiating table then you’re just begging. Obama refused to negotiate and basically said it was OK with him if they went over the fiscal cliff. We’ll never know if he was serious because House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell panicked. Whether or not Obama would have gone over the fiscal cliff is academic at this point because he did what good negotiators do – he convinced his opponents that he was willing to go over the cliff if they didn’t agree to his terms. The negotiations by McConnell with Vice President Joe Biden got the small concession that taxes would be raised on families with incomes over $450,000. Obama wanted it to be $250,000, but it doesn’t matter because Obama got the Republicans to support tax increases. And it’s not just a tax increase on those making over $450,000, it’s a tax increase on over 70 percent of Americans. So Obama got the Republicans to vote to raise taxes on most Americans – something they said they wouldn’t do. Not only did Obama get Republicans to support tax increases, he got them to agree to raise spending. The deal that McConnell and Boehner voted for raises spending by nearly $4 trillion. The deal includes $1 in tax cuts for every $41 in increased taxes. If the Republicans were going to cave like this, why bother to wait until the last minute? The huge problem is that this leadership is done. The Democrats now know that they will cave. The Democrats have to wait until the last minute, but in the end this Republican leadership team doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to hang in there. It’s astounding how badly Obama beat the Republicans. First he got them to agree to this fiscal cliff deal a year ago, which was brilliant. He pushed the showdown out past the election. Obama will never run for anything again, so he really doesn’t have to worry about public opinion. Plus, he does have the media on his side. So no matter what Obama does he knows that he has the full support of the mainstream media and it will work overtime spinning everything in his direction. However, despite the unquestioning media support, pushing the face-off out past the election gave Obama a huge advantage. The Republicans were no doubt hoping they could beat Obama at the polls in November, but they didn’t come close. With the fiscal cliff looming and no election to worry about, Obama had a strong hand. The fiscal cliff raised taxes on everyone, something that Obama wants to do, and this way he could do it and blame it on the Republicans. The cuts included by going over the fiscal cliff may have been devastating, but half were to military spending, which Obama also wanted to do, and once again by going over the fiscal
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cliff he could blame it on the Republicans, which is what the press was doing. So Obama could sit back with confidence and say, OK, either agree to my terms or I’m willing to jump off that cliff. The Republicans lost any bargaining power they might have had when they admitted to being horrified to go over the cliff. The negotiating tactic that might have worked would have been to agree with Obama that going over the cliff would not be bad and discussing how to deal with the issues that would arise, like a recession. You’ve got to convince the other guy that you are willing to walk away from the table, and in the negotiations the Republicans convinced Obama that in the end they would cave, and they did. Obama in the end gave up almost nothing. It doesn’t matter where you put the limit on tax increases on the wealthy because the point is not to raise money. It’s just politics. Obama has been saying that the rich don’t pay their fair share. He doesn’t give facts and figures to back this up; he just says it over and over again until people start believing it. Obama says the rich don’t pay their fair share so he wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The Republicans have for 20 years opposed raising taxes. The Republican argument is that the problem is not that the government doesn’t have enough money, it is that the government spends too much money. The way to solve the fiscal mess according to Republicans is to reduce spending and reduce taxes. You reduce spending to lower the deficit and you reduce taxes to stimulate the economy. Even Obama admits that reducing taxes stimulates the economy. What he hasn’t explained is why he wants to raise taxes if reducing taxes stimulates the economy. But Obama got to raise taxes on the wealthy like he wanted, and he got to increase spending by nearly $4 trillion. But he also got to raise taxes on most everybody else and to extend unemployment benefits for another year. Extending unemployment benefits encourages more people not to work, which is not what is best for the economy. But it sure is a great way for the Democrats to buy votes. It was a win all the way around for Obama. Then he got to get on Air Force One, fly west and wake up in Hawaii. Talk about having a good week. This one is going to be hard for Obama to beat.
,,, Considering the way the votes tallied in the House the deal could have been made weeks ago. If the Republicans were going to pass a fiscal plan by mainly using the votes of Democrats, they didn’t need to do all of this negotiating. Only 85 House Republicans voted for the plan and 151 Republicans voted against it. So the plan lost in the Republican caucus by an almost 2-to-1 margin. But 172 House Democrats voted for the plan and only 16 Democrats voted against it. Once again it is as if Obama had
Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. The most interesting part of the House vote is that Boehner was one of the 85 who voted in favor of the compromise, but the number two House Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor, voted with the majority of Republicans against it. Members of the House are sworn in on Thursday and a new Congress takes over. This complete and utter defeat may mean that Boehner doesn’t have the votes to remain speaker, which would be a great thing for the Republican Party. As long as Boehner is in charge Obama knows he just has to wait him out and Boehner will blink.
,,, At the end of the day Obama said he would not negotiate the debt ceiling increase that will be needed in February. The government has already borrowed up to the $16.4 trillion limit and the ceiling will have to be raised in February for the government to continue to function. Obama says Congress has to pay the bills it has already run up and he isn’t negotiating. Obama knows that he doesn’t have to negotiate because in the end the Republicans will cave. So he’s right. He shouldn’t have to negotiate, unless the Republicans elect new leadership that is willing to let the government go into default on payments if Obama is not willing to make concessions.
,,, Once again the Republican Party manages to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt why it is called the Stupid Party.
,,, North Carolina Gov. Bev “Dumpling” Perdue is leaving the governor’s mansion as inauspiciously as she arrived. Unless she does something else her last week, her big move was to pardon the Wilmington 10. The Wilmington 10 had already had their sentences commuted, but they had not been fully pardoned, which means the state no longer believes they are guilty. It wasn’t a bad thing to do, but really, she has the power of the governor and that is what she chooses to do, pardon people who have been long forgotten by most. Looking back at her four years in office, it is hard to imagine why she ran for governor and why in the world anyone voted for her. Perdue’s greatest accomplishment as governor may have been staying out of jail herself.
,,, The head of Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) appointed by Perdue was allowed to step down and become an agent again. It was a political appointment. Having law enforcement in the state run by political appointments is and has been a recipe for disaster. When Pat McCrory is governor he would be wise to save the state some money and simply do away with the entire ALE.
By John Hammer We are not living in the days of moonshiners. The idea that the state has an agency charged with enforcing alcohol laws is not a good use of resources. We don’t need separate agencies for each offense. It would appear that having so many different state law enforcement agencies was just part of the put-every-Democratto-work program that the state has been operating under for 140 years. If you only have one state law enforcement agency then you only have one director’s job to give to the brother-inlaw of a big supporter. If you have five you can employ five brothers-in-law. So from a Democratic perspective it is five times better. Using the state government as an employment service for the Democratic Party should stop, and if the Republicans are smart they will end that whole aspect of state government and not just switch over from hiring every donkey in the state to hiring every elephant.
,,, The Benghazi attack, where the American ambassador and three other Americans were murdered by al Qaeda terrorists who overran the US compound, occurred on Sept. 11, 2012. It is now 2013 and Congress still has not been able to get Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify. She has been out of town, had colds, a concussion, and now has a blood clot. It is incredible that she can’t find the time and good health to testify. It would be interesting to know why days later she was still blaming a demonstration against a video when the intelligence said the attack was by a group associated with al Qaeda. Was the secretary of state out of the loop? These were her people who were killed. She is the first Secretary of State to have had an ambassador murdered since the 1970s. It would seem like she would want to know the truth about how it happened. The reports say that the compound didn’t have enough security. Has it really taken the federal government three months to figure out that if terrorists can just walk on to an American compound, start killing people and burning buildings without meeting resistance then it doesn’t have enough security? Why weren’t the security personnel who were there armed? Why did they have to run around and find their weapons after they were attacked? Why didn’t they fire back immediately, or if they did why did they report that they did not? The goal of the Obama administration is to sweep all of this under the rug and pretend that it never happened. What the Republicans have to do is keep chipping away at it. The American people have a right to know what happened and how it happened and what has been done to prevent it from happening next Sept. 11.
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