The Rhinoceros Times
Vol. XXIII No. 7
© Copyright 2013 The Rhinoceros Times
Greensboro, North Carolina
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Which One of These Doesn’t Comply?
Photos by John Hammer
The proposed good repair ordinance for downtown Greensboro is all about how things look, not whether buildings are safe or sturdy but just are they appealing to the eye. According to that ordinance the Hardee’s on the left complies and is the kind of development we want to encourage downtown.
The Masonic Temple on the right does not comply with the ordinance because of its grillwork. If the ordinance passed, this building would be fined or forced to make changes in order to come into compliance. So how do you want the downtown to look, like Hardee’s or the Masonic Temple?
Conservatives Angry Rhino Pool Rumors Costs with ‘Republican’ Shaw Drain Away by Scott D. Yost county editor
It didn’t take long after the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Thursday, Feb. 7 meeting for area conservatives to give Chairman Linda Shaw an earful. Conservatives who watched the meeting on television and read about it in the morning
From staff and wire reports
paper continued to let Shaw hear about it the next day when local conservatives were encouraged to call and email Shaw to inform her that, if she continues to vote the way she’s been voting, she’ll have a target on her back in the Republican primary in 2014, if she should choose to run for
reelection. At the Feb. 7 meeting, Shaw broke ranks with her four fellow Republican commissioners and cast the deciding vote to give $975,000 of taxpayer money to one of the world’s richest and most profitable companies. Shaw (Continued on page 26)
Kirkwood Plan Shot Down Hard By Zoners by john hammer editor
The Greater Kirkwood Neighborhood Conservation Overlay (NCO) District was shot down again. The Kirkwood NCO didn’t get a single vote on the Greensboro Zoning Commission. It was denied by an 8-to-0 vote at the Zoning Commission meeting on Monday, Feb. 11 in the council chambers at city hall. The only reason it wasn’t 9 to 0 is that one commissioner was absent. The Kirkwood NCO was
also defeated 8 to 0 when it came before the Zoning Commission in February 2012. The discussion at the 2012 meeting was how to send a strong message to the City Council that the Kirkwood NCO was a very bad idea. So the Kirkwood NCO has had two shots at the Zoning Commission and been unable to convince a single zoning commissioner that putting additional regulations on a large amount of property near
traditional Kirkwood was a good idea. After five years of working on the project, the Greensboro Planning and Community Development staff, with all the resources of the City of Greensboro at its disposal, was unable to win over one vote. The Kirkwood NCO is all about jobs. This project was about preserving jobs for staff in the planning department who have had nothing to do since the (Continued on page 32)
On Jan. 31, somehow the Sudoku puzzle fell off the page. So last week in the Feb. 7 issue we promised to run two Sudoku puzzles and instead we put two Sudoku answers in the paper but no puzzles. This week we are trying again. Our goal this week is to run all three Sudoku puzzles. We have tied them to the pages and hope that the rope holds, but we aren’t making any promises because we did so poorly last week. (Continued on page 25)
Inside this issue
High Point News............ 8 Entertainment Guide.....11 Uncle Orson Reviews... 12 Yost Column................ 13 Scott’s Night Out.......... 14 Rhino Real Estate........ 15 Letters to the Editor..... 23 Puzzles...... 24, 25, 26, 28 Editorial Cartoon.......... 34 under the hammer....... 35
by paul C. clark Staff Writer
The Grimsley High School Save Our Pool committee has met twice in a week, most recently on Monday, Feb. 11, with engineers, Greensboro officials and Guilford County Schools administrators in an effort to bring down the cost of saving the closed indoor pool at Grimsley. The group, organized by Don Gilchrist, president of the Greensboro Swimming Association and the parent of a Grimsley student, is trying to prevent the City of Greensboro from demolishing the pool by discrediting the cost estimates of high-dollar engineering firm Sutton-Kennerly & Associates Consulting Engineers Inc., which has estimated that it will cost up to $4.9 million to renovate the pool. Gilchrist, after Monday’s (Continued on page 25)
Thursday, February 14, 2013
City Confused By Public Information
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
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Last week we reported that Greensboro had given out confidential police reports to Yes! Weekly. This week we found that the city is not giving out public records to the public when they request them, and not notifying the public of City Council meetings as required by law. In other words, the city run by Mayor Robbie Perkins and City Manager Denise Roth is more opaque than transparent. Last week, Claire Stone made a request for the salary history of Board Chair of the Transportation Advocacy Center Elizabeth James, the director of the Greensboro Transit Authority – what most of us refer to as the bus system. The response that she received from the city Human Resources Department should be shocking, but it is just par for the course. This current administration doesn’t seem to be concerned with obeying the law. The reply that she received from Kevin Adcock, a compensation consultant with the Human Resources Department, states, “Re: your public information request, the current salary for Elizabeth James $91,544. Unfortunately, the salary history for the last 10 years is not a matter of public record. Only the current salary is a matter of public record. We regret (sic) are unable to complete your request in its entirety as submitted.” For most people that would have been the end of the conversation, but Stone sent the email to me and asked if I could help. I emailed her back a copy of the law governing personnel records in North Carolina that lists the parts of an employee’s personnel record that are public records. 160A-168 (b) “(7) Current salary (8) Date and amount of each increase or decrease in salary with that municipality.” So it isn’t a matter of interpretation; the complete salary history, not just for 10 years, is public record. But if Stone had not forwarded the email to me, or hired an attorney, she would have had no way to get the information since the person working for the city was either not kept up to date or perhaps doesn’t like to release salary information. The confidential information that was released to Yes was either another mistake or an attempt to embarrass Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter. It would appear that the city has very little regard for the law regarding public records. One would not expect every city employee to know which personnel records are public records, but you would expect the person with the responsibility to release those records to know. It makes you wonder how many other people have requested salary information about city employees and been turned down. Adcock did not return a telephone call to ask him why he wasn’t releasing records that by law he was required to release, but Assistant City Attorney Jamiah Waterman did call back and said that there was no question that salary history was a public record and should be released to anyone who asks for it. He also said that he didn’t know why the Human Resources Department was not releasing that information. He said, “It’s clearly public record. A mistake was made.” He noted that Stone had since been sent the information she had requested. It’s good that the city attorneys know the law, but if the people actually controlling the records are not aware that people have a right to public records then there is a huge problem. In one case the person handling a public records request for police information wasn’t
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
County park ‘savings’ evaporate like dew by Scott D. Yost county editor
All of the Guilford County commissioners have presumably heard the time-honored advice about being penny wise and pound foolish – but now they’re getting a real world lesson in the subject. Former County Manager Brenda Jones Fox told the board in early 2012 that Guilford County would see big savings if it took over the maintenance and operation of the county’s parks – a job that, for years and years, the county had outsourced to Greensboro, Gibsonville, Burlington and Jamestown. The parks takeover was supposed to save the county about $170,000 in fiscal 2012-2013, when it went into effect halfway through the fiscal year, and then save $250,000 or more each year after that, but it’s now becoming clear to the commissioners that, if anything, running the parks in-house is going to end up costing the county more, not less. At a Thursday, Feb. 7 work session, Guilford County Budget Director Michael Halford and Property and Parks Management Director Sandy Woodard gave a presentation on the parks takeover to county commissioners. Halford told the commissioners that the county did save money, but he added quickly that those “savings” were needed for additional maintenance and repairs at the parks. Halford said the commissioners could take some money out of the parks system and use it for other budget purposes, but he said that many parks projects really needed doing. At the work session, Halford reeled off a list of recommended current and future parks projects that would take the $170,000 and more. Halford said some of the repairs were to assure public safety while others were aesthetic in nature but still badly needed. In the past, some of the parks repairs and maintenance would have been handled by the cities and towns as part of the contracts. However, now anytime the slightest thing goes wrong it’s the county’s responsibility. Halford said existing funds would not
cover all the parks needs. “Everybody has needs, but we only have limited resources,” Halford said. After the work session, Commissioner Hank Henning said everyone should have seen this coming. “I love the way government sells things to the citizens,” Henning said. “First, they tell you, ‘Oh, this will save us a lot of money.’ Then they say, ‘Well, we’re going to break even’ – and then it’s, ‘Oh, we need more money to fund this.’” With the exception of a one remaining contract with Burlington, the county is no longer paying cities and towns to operate the parks, and the county is also no longer paying out an 8 to 10 percent administrative fee for the cities and towns to manage those parks.
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Parks Management Department’s payroll and three positions to the Facilities Department’s payroll. After the meeting, Halford said he doesn’t have an estimate yet of how much it will cost Guilford County to operate the parks in the upcoming 2013-2014 budget. During the work session, Woodard said the county had saved about $18,000 by purchasing equipment to replace cityleased equipment. She also said the county had saved about $6,500 by putting out a mowing contract for all the parks to the lowest bidder. “It’s nickels and dimes, but those nickels and dimes are going to add up for us,” Woodard said at the meeting. When Halford heard the commissioners (Continued on page 34)
Scandals Ruining County Image by Scott D. Yost county editor
On Monday, Feb. 11, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners met with county staff and others to discuss ways to counteract the negative publicity the county continually gets from The Rhinoceros Times. Actually, it isn’t just negative press from The Rhino Times that has county officials ready to take action – it’s all the bad press in recent years from numerous media outlets. However, at the Feb. 11 meeting, several speakers singled out The Rhino Times as a major purveyor of negative publicity for Guilford County. County staff who have been looking into the problem said the county needs to stop taking the bad press lying down and instead make proactive moves to get its side of the story out. A Guilford County staff committee has been working behind the scenes on the county’s image problem, and, at the Feb. 11 work session, the Board of Commissioners heard suggestions on how to fix that as well as how to improve transparency in Guilford
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Of course, the county now has 30 parks employees on its payroll, has created a new high-paying parks manager position that’s yet to be filled, and there are many maintenance and operating costs looming on the horizon. Guilford County is also having to handle all the payroll, insurance, benefits and other administrative costs for what is essentially a new county parks and recreation department. When the commissioners were first presented with the idea, Fox told the board there would big savings. She said the economies of scale created by running all the parks under one roof would bring costs down significantly. At the Feb. 7 work session, Halford said Guilford County had added 27 fulltime park positions to Property and
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County government and open up direct lines of communication with the citizens. Several speakers said that, as it is now, media outlets are the only place the public gets news about Guilford County, and those stories, they said, almost always have a negative slant. Suggestions from the committee include hiring a public relations specialist, using social media more aggressively, producing YouTube videos that explain the county’s side of news stories and expanding the county’s Citizen’s Academy. They also spoke of ways to enhance the county’s image by using the internet to increase transparency in government. At the meeting, Guilford County Board of Elections Deputy Director Charlie Collicutt, who will become the county’s elections director on Friday, March 1, spoke about some of the differences between Guilford County, the state’s third largest county, and Wake and Mecklenburg counties, the state’s two largest. Collicutt said Guilford County was the only one of the three that had no public
relations manager. He said Wake and Mecklenburg counties also had other tools for communicating with citizens that Guilford County does not have. For instance, he said, Mecklenburg and Wake have more advanced television production capabilities, and they create their own shows for local television and the web. In addition, Collicutt said, Wake County promotes financial transparency with a web portal called Wake Accountability Tax Check (WATCH). That tool makes highly detailed budget information available to any citizen with internet access. That way, citizens can go on the web and see how their tax dollars are being spent. Lisa Ashley, a committee member who works in the Department of Social Services, said Guilford County could communicate more effectively with its citizens through the use of Facebook and Twitter, and by increasing its public information efforts in other ways. “Other jurisdictions have more robust public relations,” she said. (Continued on page 24)
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Duke Energy Backpedals on Notification By Alex Jakubsen Staff Writer
Addressing tree preservation on both public and private property appears to be the plan of the Tree Ordinance Review Committee of the Greensboro City Council, which met again Monday, Feb. 11 at 3:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall to hear from the public. Speaking at that meeting, Emilie Sandin said that she wanted line clearance standards for primary lines to be different from the standards for secondary lines, which run directly to residences Sandin said she thought if different standards had been in place, “I think a lot of the trees that were actually cut down on Woodlawn would not have been cut down.” Duke Energy District Manager Davis Montgomery said that Duke Energy does not typically trim around secondary lines. Sandin presented a map of Westerwood from Duke Energy with both primary and secondary lines that were marked for clearing. After some checking, Montgomery determined that the legend on the map, which had been given to a neighborhood association by Duke Energy, was wrong. Instead, he said that the red and blue lines on the map represented different circuits, not different kinds of lines. Brian Higgins said that the utility company shouldn’t be the city’s only focus. He suggested requiring a street tree permit to “check the record to make sure you’re planting the right tree in the right spot.” Bill Markham, representing the Sierra Club, said the ordinance should address line clearance standards as well as issues like cleanup. “I think it is key that we not let this be defined as a communication problem,” he said. The fact that Chapel Hill’s tree ordinance once addressed line clearing, but now no longer does, was brought up at the meeting. Judy Stalder of Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (TREBIC) asked why the Chapel Hill ordinance no longer contained those provisions. Greensboro Urban Forrester Mike
Cusimano said that following a major ice storm that caused power outages in the area, the city decided, “It was in their best interest to allow Duke Energy to trim the trees as they felt was necessary.” Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter pointed out that Duke Energy’s subcontractor for tree cutting, Asplundh Tree Expert Co., had not been present in the discussions about line clearing. Abuzuaiter said there were questions about the way Asplundh carried out Duke Energy’s work that need to be answered. Councilmember Nancy Vaughan, chair of the committee, said, “Whatever we put on public property I would like to put on private property as well.” In other tree news, on Thursday, Feb. 7, Duke Energy held a “community
workshop” in the Lindley Park recreation center, complete with city security, less than a month after residents of Collier Drive received flyers telling them that line clearing activity would start in three business days. The Collier Drive work, which Duke Energy agreed last month to put off until Feb. 11, has since been put off indefinitely. The community workshop was about clearing trees around transmission lines, which Duke Energy has taken pains to emphasize are very different from the distribution lines that run along residential properties. Transmission lines are strung between those large metal towers, not on wooden telephone poles in people’s yards. There was no opportunity for residents as a group to question Duke Energy
personnel. Instead, members of Duke Energy’s transmission line team were set up at tables, each table with the same information and the same video clips of transmission lines catching trees on fire. The transmission line work is scheduled to start around the middle of February. Bill Eckard, a member of the Lindley Park Neighborhood Association, said, “This isn’t what I expected.” He and others said they had been expecting a chance to ask Duke Energy representatives questions about residential properties. Charlotte Oleynik, also a resident of Lindley Park, said the workshop was “like a cocktail party.” Gail Barger of the Westerwood Neighborhood Association said she (Continued on page 10)
Schools Say No to Free Lunch by paul C. clark Staff Writer
The amount of money Guilford County parents owe for school lunches has plummeted in the semester since the Guilford County Board of Education finally stopped letting parents run up limitless tabs. In June 2012, the school board, for the fourth year running, agonized at great length over the mystery of parents not paying their children’s lunch bills. The Rhino Times had to point out the obvious: Parents ran up bills because they could. There was no downside to not paying. After years of dithering and over-the-top rhetoric, the school board on June 28, 2012 adopted a simple policy to make it harder for deadbeat parents to avoid buying their children lunch: capping the amount a student could charge at $17.50. Other school systems have similar policies. The policy also requires the school system to provide students a cheaper meal once their parents charge more than $17.50 and to at least attempt to collect money from delinquent parents.
The predictable results, as reported at the school board’s Tuesday, Feb. 12 meeting? Despite four years of school board dithering and bizarre rants about starving students, more parents are paying for their children’s lunches now that it’s harder to run up a tab. The amount of money parents owed the school systems for meals was $497,000 at the end of the 2008-2009 school year, skyrocketed to $592,000 by the end of the 2010-2011 school year and settled down at the end of the 2011-2012 school year to $484,000. All of those figures were before the school board limited the amount parents could charge. Guilford County Schools has only a halfyear of experience with the new policy, but already the record is clear. After the school board changed its policy in June 2012, the amount parents owed the school system plummeted. At the end of December 2010, parents owed Guilford County Schools $375,000 for meals charged during the first half of
the school year. At the end of December 2011, they owed $283,000 for the first half of that school year. At the end of December 2012, parents owed only $122,000 for the first half of the year after five months under the new policy. New Guilford County Schools Child Nutrition Director Jim Faggione said parents owed $125,000 by the end of January. That means the monthly amount some Guilford County parents were stiffing the schools for dropped from $115,000 in September 2010 to $3,000 in January 2013. That doesn’t mean that Guilford County students are starving. The parents in question aren’t the parents of the 57 percent of Guilford County Schools students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. They’re just parents who didn’t send their kids to school with lunch money – and the families in the top 43 percent income bracket in the county. Despite that, the rhetoric over the unpaid (Continued on page 14)
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Thursday, February 14, 2013
Florida Street Opposition Solid By Alex Jakubsen Staff Writer
Not a single person expressed support for the proposed Florida Street extension at a “University and Community Town Hall Meeting” hosted by North Carolina A&T State University on Monday, Feb. 11 in the new academic building on the A&T campus. Those who argued vehemently against the extension included nearby residents, A&T alumni and students. Objections expressed by speakers focused on possible damage to the A&T farm, further loss of land owned by black people and possible ulterior motives for the extension, like access to an apartment complex on McConnell Road built by Roy Carroll, a major client of NAI Piedmont Triad, the commercial real estate company co-owned by Mayor Robbie Perkins. The proposed extension would connect McConnell Road and Lee Street by running through the A&T farm, which speakers argued could limit the ability of the farm to serve students as a research and teaching facility. Perkins has presented the extension as a way to increase access to the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering on Lee Street. A&T Chancellor Harold Martin gave a presentation on the proposal. “Keep in mind, just for the record, we are not going to give away our farm. It is an enormous asset to our community,” he said. Martin said that although there were some discussions about the project among A&T administrators in 2002 and 2003, there had been no more extensive talks about the Florida Street extension with the university until 2012. “The city, though, continued to plan a connecting road as part of its discussion,” he said. Martin said he was first brought into the discussion in January 2012, and found that there were already several proposals for a road cutting through the farm. “Imagine our surprise,” he said. He said that the road would take up 2.7 acres of the farm, could increase security problems and have an effect on the farm and the animals housed there. Martin said that A&T reviewed minutes of board meetings and other files to see what the university’s involvement had been over the years. “What we found was no evidence of any commitments of our university around the use of the farm to accommodate a connecting road,” he said. Martin said that access to the farm and the nanotech center is an important factor to consider, and that the proposed extension should be considered in the broader context of long-term transportation plans, including the urban loop. Members of the audience were given the opportunity to speak, and although members of A&T staff and Greensboro City Council were present to answer questions, mostly residents just spoke without interruption. Elon Kulii, an English Professor at A&T who lives in a neighborhood near the proposed extension, said he was concerned
that the project would increase traffic, which was already a problem for people living in the area. Allahquan Tate, the A&T Student Government Association president, said that maintaining the land was essential. “Minus 2.7 acres, you could potentially put one of my constituents out of a job in the future, and we already know the job market is suffering right now as it is.” Chuck Byrd questioned the road’s purpose as an economic driver. “I’m a CPA and I’m trying to grasp what the economic development impact is,” he said. He said that there is someone who sees an advantage for themselves, but whoever it is isn’t revealing it. Byrd also suggested making the extension a toll road, so that the people who use it would pay for it. Larry Morse, a retired A&T economics professor, said that communities become poor when assets are extracted from them, and that the university needs to hold on to the farm. “Keep it here. Don’t give it up for the economic interest of folks who live on the west side of Greensboro.” Sharon Hightower called the road “an urgent un-necessity.” She criticized Perkins for statements he made at a Jan. 28 City Council work session, suggesting that people making six figures shouldn’t have to drive through less desirable neighborhoods to get to the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. “What an admission of truth,” she said. Hightower accused Perkins of making the issue about class. “Why not work to improve those areas?” she said. “We’ve driven safely through those areas for years. Perkins also spoke, saying that what is good for A&T is good for Greensboro and that his job is to do what is best for all of Greensboro. “This institution has effected true change in our city, state and country,” he said. At the end of the meeting Martin said the public input had been informative. He said that regardless of what the City Council decides to do, the decision would be up to the A&T board of trustees. “We will resolve this very soon,” he said. The fact that there were more than five councilmembers at a meeting about official city business, the extension of a road, meant that the meeting was subject to the North Carolina open meetings law and would have needed to be announced by the city at least 48 hours in advance. However, the city sent out no notification of the meeting, and City Clerk Betsey Richardson said the following day that she was not aware that councilmembers had been invited to the meeting. According to North Carolina Press Association General Counsel Amanda Martin, the meeting on extending a road constituted official business, and as such the city was required to comply with the open meetings law and issue advanced notice of the meeting. Perkins disagreed with that interpretation.
He said it was the chancellor’s meeting and that the city had nothing to do with it aside from the council being there. He also said there was not a requirement for the council to attend the meeting. “I didn’t know who was going to show up at that meeting,” he said. Councilmember Jim Kee agreed, saying the meeting did not involve official business. “We just went to hear the opinion of the people,” he said. “It was just a meeting that councilmembers happened to show up at,” he said. Councilmember Nancy Vaughan said the councilmembers had coordinated going to the meeting, and that she did not have prior knowledge of which councilmembers would be there. Vaughan said she had learned about the meeting on a blog or Facebook post. Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said she felt comfortable with the meeting’s legality and would have left if she thought it was inappropriate. “I didn’t feel strange being invited by the chancellor,” she said. The city routinely gives notice of other events that councilmembers are invited to like the Greensboro Downtown Residents’ Association meeting on Feb. 20, the Greensboro district post master petition presentation on Feb. 8 and the D.H Griffin annual fish fry last October.
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Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro HIGH POINT
Council Revolts Against Sims’ Iron Gavel by paul C. clark Staff Writer
High Point Mayor Bernita Sims went into the High Point City Council’s Saturday, Feb. 9 retreat riding high. She left it having faced uprisings from councilmembers on several fronts, including opposition to her abolishment of City Council committees and her desire to avoid the reinstatement of primaries in City Council elections. At the Council’s reorganization meeting on Dec. 6, 2012, Sims did away with the council’s traditional committee system, leaving all meetings controlled by the mayor’s gavel. She said she did so because of the lack of experience of many first-time councilmembers, exempting former High Point Mayor Becky Smothers. She said she might reconsider the issue in a year. “I don’t want this council to come off looking like rubes,” she told The Rhino Times the next day. “Who, on this council, except Becky and maybe [new Ward 4 Councilmember] Jay [Wagner], could run a planning and zoning meeting?” Sims wound up having to reconsider the issue in considerably less than a year – on Saturday, in fact. And it took less time than that for some of the councilmembers to start grumbling about Sims’ power grab. Sims opened the discussion by saying she had heard there were complaints about abolishing the committee system. For a minute or so, there was silence. New Ward 6 Councilmember Jason Ewing broke the silence, saying that he at first thought changing the committee system was a good idea, but now that the City Council was moving forward with contentious issues, he was not satisfied with the new system. Saturday’s agenda included changing High Point’s election system and naming a street for Martin Luther King Jr. Ewing said, “We’ve got a lot of topics piling up and are not really having time to have a creative discussion around them.” Ewing suggested either going back to the committee system or adding another City Council work session – a suggestion that drew a few groans. Sims, in addition to abolishing the standing committees, added to the City Council schedule a Thursday Committee of the Whole meeting – a meeting of the full City Council acting as the committee considering all issues. She argued that the Committee of the Whole meeting was an adequate substitute for the committee system. She said the full City Council could study issues as well as a committee. She said, “That has always been on the table, to be able to move them into a committee structure as a Committee of the Whole, but not necessarily going back to having committees, because I don’t think that gets us where we want to go.” That argument didn’t play well – or maybe the new councilmembers just didn’t like the suggestion that giving them
committee chairmanships would make the City Council look like rubes. Even Ward 2 Councilmember Foster Douglas, who, until the November 2012 election, showed a casual disdain for the committee system, opposed Sims abolishing it. Now that Douglas has seniority over many other councilmembers, and has a stronger case for being named a committee chairman, having committees doesn’t seem all that bad to him. Douglas touted the virtues of spinning off council research and discussions into committee meetings and giving councilmembers a chance to build up expertise. He said, “Personally, I think you ought to be given the opportunity to be on one of those committees.” Sims shot back, “How did that work with
your time?” Meaning Douglas rarely found time to attend committee meetings, other than those of the Finance Committee. “With all due respect, Ms. Mayor, this is your first time being mayor,” Douglas replied. “There is something new for everybody.” Sims argued that, under the committee system, few councilmembers who were not on a committee showed up for its meetings. All councilmembers could attend committee meetings, but only the four councilmembers assigned to the committee by the mayor could vote. In practice, almost all of the councilmembers showed up at the Finance Committee meetings, which were held on Mondays before the City Council meeting. Attendance at other meetings was spotty.
The City Council had, under shifting names, committees for finance, public safety, planning and development, and at times other issues. Issues that came to the City Council and didn’t get an immediate vote were referred to the appropriate committee. The committee heard presentations from staff members, researched the issues and then voted to recommend that the City Council approve or reject the motion. Committee meetings were also useful places to quietly strangle proposals that the City Council didn’t want to kill in public, either because they had popular support or because doing so would alienate a councilmember’s core constituency. Douglas was hardly the only (Continued on page 33)
Mayor Loses Support for MLK by paul C. clark Staff Writer
High Point Mayor Bernita Sims, fresh from her election as High Point’s first black mayor, put a lot of political capital into one of her first announced goals, naming Kivett Drive after Martin Luther King Jr. Last week, it seemed as if she had a good chance of cutting a deal with other councilmembers on the still-controversial issue – but she overreached at the High Point City Council retreat on Saturday, Feb. 9 and the deal fell apart, leaving the issue unsettled. Sims made renaming a street for King one of her first goals after being sworn in as mayor on Dec. 6, 2012. She had the momentum of being the first new High Point mayor since 2003, when former mayor and current At-Large Councilmember Becky Smothers succeeded Arnold Koonce. Sims on Jan. 10 said she wanted to rename Kivett Drive for King. Smothers said she would support renaming the stretch of Kivett Drive between Business 85 and Centennial Street for King. That was the outline of the deal that seemed to be in place. Sims had the support of the other two black councilmembers, Ward 1 Councilmember Jeff Golden and Ward 2 Councilmember Foster Douglas. Former Mayor and Ward 3 Councilmember Judy Mendenhall seemed sympathetic, and the rest of the councilmembers – Ward 4 Councilmember Jay Wagner, Ward 5 Councilmember Jim Davis and Ward 6 Councilmember Jason Ewing – were first-termers and uncertain on their political feet. All Sims had to do was quietly cut a deal with Smothers and Mendenhall, and she would have had five votes. That might have attracted votes from some of the new councilmembers, and Sims would have crafted a political victory on a tough issue
quickly, and, as she keeps saying she wants to do, moved on to more important issues. The keys to such a deal were getting Smothers and Mendenhall on board and getting a vote on the issue through quickly, making concessions if necessary, before opposition could mount. Sims may have thought she was going to accomplish those two things at the retreat. She was wrong. Almost everything in the above scenario that could have gone wrong did go wrong. Smothers had sent a clear message on ending the renamed street at Centennial Street. That would have given the new Martin Luther King Jr. drive or boulevard marked exits at I-85 business and on the US 311 bypass and let it run all the way into downtown High Point, only a stone’s throw from Main Street and city hall. However, at the retreat, when Mendenhall asked what section of Kivett Drive was under discussion, Sims said the section from I-85 business to where Kivett Drive turns into Phillips Avenue at West English Road. Smothers said, sharply, “So, the whole thing?” Sims replied that it wouldn’t affect English Road. Smothers said, “I thought you were talking about Centennial.” Mendenhall said, “I did too.” Sims fended off the two former mayors by saying, “No, someone else was talking about Centennial.” That someone was Smothers. Smothers and Mendenhall must have thought Sims agreed with ending the part of Kivett Drive named after Martin Luther King Jr. at Centennial. When Smothers saw that Sims wanted to cross Centennial, the deal fell apart immediately. It can’t have helped that Sims sprung the change on Smothers in front of the other councilmembers.
Smothers said, “I can’t support that.” The problem with Smothers’ position was that, according to High Point City Manager Strib Boynton and Planning Director Lee Burnette, the North Carolina Department of Transportation doesn’t like splitting up roads into different names because it causes 911 emergency-response problems. “The problem that comes up if you name a segment of the street and leave segments of Kivett at either end, it raises communications issues,” Burnette said. “It’s very doubtful that state DOT would approve the scenario that a state-maintained road would have dual street names.” Kivett Drive is a state-maintained road, like many that have been suggested to be named after King over the years, including the US 311 bypass and different sections of what was then called the Intermediate Loop (now East Hartley Drive, North College Drive and South College Drive). The other political roadblock Sims struck head-on at the retreat was that at least one of the purportedly passive firstterm councilmembers, Jim Davis, turned out not to be all that passive. It was a given that most of the opposition to renaming Kivett Drive would come from Wards 4, 5 and 6, the wards with the smallest black populations. Of the councilmembers representing those three wards, Davis strongly opposed the proposal and Wagner and Ewing have not yet taken stands. “I realize I’m just one vote,” Davis said. “I’m not going to support this for two reasons. One, I’m not going to give them all of Kivett Drive because I’m a big believer in our city’s history. Also, I don’t think we have a majority of our citizens’ support.” Douglas argued that Davis’ historical (Continued on page 31)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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. I’ve been buying your paper for a long, long time. I truly enjoy it. I’ve laughed more than once every issue. But when there are little things you count on, you know, like the sun coming up and the Sudoku being in your paper, especially the Hyper Sudoku, which is more than the average person can deal with, and like, oh, I don’t know, 2,000 points ahead of the group from the Mensa group that does it every week. And you don’t put it in the paper, the Jan. 31, issue, it’s – maddening is the wrong word, because nothing should be maddening. But if you are going to do it, do it. If you’re not going to do it, then don’t do it one week, and don’t … %%% Didn’t finish my sentence, because I was trying to think of a word I could use that had less than eight letters in it so whoever made the decision not to put the Sudoku in the paper can understand it. I just, you know, if y’all are going to use that every week, and it’s very enjoyable. I would appreciate it if you would do it every week and not try to leave it out because somebody has got their gum in their ear, or writing some paper about some long extensive conversation that nobody cares about. Have a nice day. %%% Editor’s Note: We’ll do our best to get Sudoku in this week. But I am worried about you buying our paper. It’s free. Please stop paying for it. %%% Mrs. Bill Clinton, would you, please, tell us the truth about Vince Foster? %%% Yeah, I’m a little confused as to why the county settled on this death in the jail suit about the Armstrong family. There are many of us who have had sons who died in wars, or killed by drunken drivers, who never had criminal records, even suspected of criminal activity. That’s another thing I have a problem with concerning criminals’ rights. When you take someone else’s rights away, you pretty much give up your rights. This is just another example of extraneous and ridiculous lawsuits that go on in America. And why the county didn’t let it go to court is a real question in my mind. I would have let it go to court and let a jury decide it. %%% Please bring back the Sudoku puzzles. Yeah. %%% Barack Hussein Obama. This is what John Hammer continues to use for our president. And I’m just shocked. I mean I’m actually wowed at the venom of this guy and how anyone can take someone – I mean you cannot report accurately with the amount of venom and animosity this guy spits out. And the fact of the matter is, when you repeats that every time, it makes him look more and more ignorant, more and more dumb. I mean, does he think that we’re going to somehow believe he’s related to Saddam Hussein by doing that? Does he think that? Is that what he’s trying to get across? This guy, I can’t believe you really have him even in the paper, because everything he says – I mean he – that’s enough. I mean that guy is a joke. %%% Editor’s Note: When our president took the oath of office, he said, “I, Barack Hussein Obama” because that is his name. %%% Well, I guess Barry Obama will never be held accountable for Benghazi. It’s funny how no news media, terrorists, to hold him accountable for anything he does. As for Hillary, I guess her campaign slogan in 2016 will be: What does it matter? What a disgraceful bunch of fools. I believe he again took an oath of office to uphold our Constitution and enforce our laws, which he violates by refusing to enforce our immigration laws. By the way, we have heard 11 million illegal aliens in this country for 10 or 15 years. If this law is passed, when the numbers count, if they do come out, I will bet you it will be closer to 20 million. We cannot pay the cost endured in this country that we are held in giving these people citizenship. It will be in the trillions of dollars. I hope the people will call these people and tell them … (Continued on page 13)
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(Continued from page 2)
aware that not all police information is public record and in this case the person handling the public records request didn’t know that salary history was a public record. Then there is the problem with providing notice of meetings of the Greensboro City Council. It seems so simple. In cases where the City Council is invited to a function in their official capacity and it appears that a majority of the City Council might be present, for the past 20 years the
city has simply sent out a notice stating just that. People who are on the list to receive notices about meetings receive an email that states that the City Council has been invited to a luncheon hosted by the board of the Greensboro Historical Museum or the Chamber of Commerce, or that a groundbreaking will be held where the majority of the council might be present. But this year the city decided that having the entire council gathered in the council chambers for the official City Council photograph was not official business and
Free Lunch (Continued from page 6)
lunch bills has been ludicrous at times. “Is this communist Russia?” school board member Amos Quick said in 2008. “We are talking about children.” Former school board member Kris Cooke said in the same year, “My concern is that we’re going to have kids that aren’t going to be able to eat.” The number of families who had run up tabs in cafeterias was about the same at the end of 2012 as at the end of 2011 – 10,361 compared to 10,775 – but the average amount owed by each family was less, $11.80 compared to $26.29. In other words, parents are keeping their tabs under the $17.50 limit. So far this year, Guilford County school cafeterias have served 12,829 alternative meals to those of its 72,000 students whose parents hadn’t paid their bills. Alternative breakfasts are cheese toast and water and alternative lunches are up to four fruits or vegetables, a roll and water. In June 2012, former Guilford County Schools Chief Financial Officer Sharon Ozment told the school board that the school system had 9,888 accounts with outstanding balances. Accounts are families, which can have multiple children charging meals. Ozment said that 77 percent had charged less than $50. On the high side, 129 accounts had between $300 and $400 owed and 15 owed more than $400. Guilford County Schools meals cost between $2.30 and $2.50, meaning some parents were going all year without giving their children lunch money. The Rhino Times first reported on the growing hole in the Guilford County Schools budget from unpaid meal charges in 2008, when the school system had $77,000 in unpaid meals. The dollar amounts of unpaid school lunches at Guilford County Schools had grown from $27,000 in December 2005 to the $77,000 in December 2007 simply because the school system didn’t want to embarrass students. By March 2008, then-School Superintendent Terry Grier, who by that time was in the final months of his tenure, warned the school board that the cost of the unpaid lunches could increase greatly. Grier said, “We could easily wake up
one day and be $100,000 or more in debt.” Ozment replied, “I think it would be much more than that, frankly.” Even Ozment was overly optimistic, as two years later, the amount owed on unpaid lunches had skyrocketed to almost $600,000. In an Oct. 9, 2011 memo to principals, former Guilford County Schools Director of School Nutrition Services Cynthia Sevier wrote, “Since by law this account cannot end the year in the red, this means GCS had to use local dollars to make-up the difference – dollars that otherwise would go to support our students academically.” Faggione and Guilford County Schools Chief Financial Officer Angie Henry on Tuesday also emphasized that the large bills parents had run up have to be paid for from the Guilford County Schools general fund – taking as much as $600,000 away from education spending in a year. Guilford County Schools send ConnectEd calls and letters to parents who owe lunch bills – a fairly tame policy compared to some school systems. The Columbus, Ohio, school system in 2012 turned the names of more than 6,000 parents who owed more than $50 over to a collection agency. During the June 2012 discussion over changing the charged meals policy, former school board member Paul Daniels proposed emulating the Monadnock Regional School District in New Hampshire. That school system’s policy states that it is based on “the belief that every student deserves a nutritious lunch but that ultimately it is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to provide one unless the family qualifies for Federal free and reduced meal benefits.” The Monadnock system allows students to charge three lunches. After the third charged lunch, the student is given an alternate meal at a cost of $1. After three charges, the policy says the school principal should contact the New Hampshire Office of Youth Services if they feel this is a sign of abuse or neglect. At the time, some school board members considered Daniels’ proposal extreme – but it is not that different from the policy the school board adopted, except that the cap is a dollar amount, not a number of meals.
therefore did not constitute a meeting that had to be announced and open to the public. City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan said in his opinion it was not a meeting to conduct official council business and therefore the public could be excluded and no notice of the meeting was required. The definition in the North Carolina open meetings law is broad. It states. “’Official meeting’ means a meeting, assembly, or gathering together at any time or place or the simultaneous communication by conference telephone or other electronic means of a majority of the members of a public body for the purpose of conducting hearings, participating in deliberations, or voting upon or otherwise transacting the public business within the jurisdiction, real or apparent of the public body.” So according to the official ruling by Shah-Khan, having the official photograph of the City Council taken is not “otherwise transacting the public business.” On Monday, Feb. 11, the City Council was invited by North Carolina A&T State University to a discussion on extending Florida Street through the A&T farm. Extending a city street is certainly city business, and if the City Council decides to do it, the taxpayers will pay an estimated $3.2 million for this one quarter-mile of street. But the city determined that the City Council “gathering together” at a public hearing to discuss a street extension was not official city business and no notice of that meeting was required. The meeting was, of course, open to the public, but that was because of A&T not the City of Greensboro. Seven of the nine members of the Greensboro City Council were present. In one way the city is correct in its assessment of the situation: No one is going to sue the city because the meeting with A&T was not properly noticed. With the incident of the official photograph, they let me in because I was complaining to everyone that came through the door, and no one that was locked out hired an attorney and took the city to court. With the denial of the public records request for salary history, most people don’t know they should get in touch with The Rhino Times about such matters. Almost no one is going to hire an attorney and pay a couple of hundred dollars to have that attorney write the city attorney a letter to point out the obvious legal error. So although the laws are there to protect the public, the city staff, who is paid by the public, is not obeying the law because there really isn’t anyone around to make them. The City Council itself doesn’t seem to care whether the law is obeyed or not. It is a great example of why the open meetings law and the public records law need sanctions. If anyone violating the law could be fined even $50, it would be an incentive for government employees to follow the law. In the case of open meetings, Perkins doesn’t think the City Council should have
to make its decisions in public, and that attitude appears to have affected not only the rest of the City Council but the staff as well. This is an election year, and all the sitting members of the council who run for reelection are going to be talking about the need for transparency and openness in government. The city is far less transparent than it has been in the past and is moving in the wrong direction. If the councilmembers really want transparency they should start demanding it now.
(Continued from page 6)
was also surprised by the format of the workshop. She said she wasn’t concerned about clearing around transmission lines. Duke Energy employed a classic format that the City of Greensboro often uses to try to keep opposition to a project from coalescing. The purpose is to divide and conquer. It keeps people who oppose a project from finding out that others agree with them. Residents didn’t swarm city hall in December demanding the city take action against Duke Energy because of trimming around transmission lines, which typically doesn’t affect residential property. Montgomery said that Duke Energy has no immediate plans to go forward with cutting on Collier Drive, which is much more of a concern for residents than transmission lines running through Lindley Park – the park, not the neighborhood. Talking about Collier Drive, Montgomery said, “It’s not on our radar right now.” He said Duke Energy was working on their agreement with the city. Montgomery said before line clearing in a residential neighborhood Duke Energy would meet with city staff 60 days in advance. They would meet again 15 days later to discuss a more detailed plan. Then 30 days before the start of cutting they would offer opportunities for community meetings. That timeline represents a dramatic change from Duke Energy’s communication process just a few months ago. Residents in neighborhoods like Westerwood were given door hangers, with no contact information, just three days before the drastic cuttings started. Some residents said they didn’t get a door hanger. At a neighborhood meeting Dec. 13, following the Westerwood and Sunset Hills clear cutting, Duke Energy representatives refused to consider lengthening their notification time to even three weeks. But if representatives of Duke Energy think the controversy is going away because homeowners get 30 days’ notice instead of three days’ notice that their yards are going to be clear cut, they’ve missed the point. People want some kind of an appeals process, not just notification.
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Uncle Orson Reviews Everything
On Valentine’s Day And Every Day by orson scott card
Valentine’s Day is one of the strangest holidays. The origin is tied up with the concept of courtly love, which was always contradictory: adulterous but chaste, neverconsummated but eloquently expressed love for the unattainable lady. It may also, in its present form, be an English innovation. The earliest record of St. Valentine’s Day being a festival of love comes from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules, and while Chaucer writes as if this tradition were old, that is a common conceit in Renaissance writing. You introduce something new as if it had an ancient past. St. Valentine himself has a vague, contradictory and unreliable history, but nothing about any of the traditions would tie him to romantic love. Nor is there any apparent validity to the alternate explanation that the saint’s day of Feb. 14 led to using that day to supercede the pre-Christian holiday of Lupercalia, which celebrated fertility – but with wolf images that certainly don’t apply to any Valentine’s Day traditions. Instead, our image of naked baby archers comes from a different pagan tradition – that of Cupid (Roman) and Eros (Greek), the son of Venus/Aphrodite, and himself a
god of concupiscence. With Cupid/Eros there was no pretense of chastity or “loving from afar” – that was a Christian overlay. Even as a kid in grade school, when we used to put valentines into each other’s decorated paper bags, I thought it was weird that children were encouraged to take part in what was obviously an adult idea of romance. I mean, really, what were nine-yearolds saying when they gave each other valentines? The effect, though, was to utterly devastate the people – mostly the less-attractive or shyer girls – who got no valentines. What were the teachers thinking? Did we really need one more opportunity to get our feelings hurt at school? I remember two teachers, in two different years, who actually conducted a public count of how many valentines each person received, announcing a girl winner and a boy winner. One of them even announced the ones who received the least, though the other had the decency to conceal that information. Even now, as an adult, Valentine’s Day seems to serve two purposes. One is for shy people to have an excuse to venture some kind of offering of love; the other
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is for people to get their feelings hurt because somebody’s gift or card or idea of a date don’t measure up to unspoken expectations. And even the shy-person gambit is open for devastating hurt, since you never know when your offering of love, anonymous or not, will be taken as an intriguing possibility, or as a repulsive token from a weird stalker. Valentine’s Day complicates everything. When you’re not married, asking somebody out for a date on or near Valentine’s Day is likely to be taken as raising the relationship to the next level. Which is fine if you want the relationship level to be raised. If not, not so fine. In that case, do you decline the date? Only if you want to have a Valentine’s Day breakup – the absolute worst day, except for the birthday of the break-up-ee. Even Christmas is a better day for a break-up. Sometimes you feel like it’s better to make sure you’re out of town, or have the flu, or are working to complete a project by a deadline – any excuse to be unavailable for a date. The trouble is that if you really wish you had a date, all your pretend busyness only makes you sadder and lonelier. Loneliness is always hard. Why do we need holidays that call special attention to one’s lack of deep connection to other people, especially when it is tied up with the failure to find a reproductive partner, so that it’s linked to some of the deepest yearnings of the mammalian soul? Plants have the right idea. Just sit there and let the breezes or the bees carry your pollen where they may, or bring you pollen as it happens to be available. This year I’m exceptionally unprepared for Valentine’s Day. I haven’t made a reservation at a restaurant, because what’s the point? We eat out at nice restaurants whenever we feel like it – or whenever there isn’t time to cook. This means that nice restaurants are not particularly romantic to us. Nor do I have a Valentine’s Day gift picked out. I happened to marry a highly nonmaterialistic woman who, while she appreciates nice things, also prefers to pick them out herself. Which is fine – I enjoy those rare occasions when she actually sees something she likes and I can buy it for her. But me going out and picking something “nice” is a joke. She has no interest in items of high cost – it’s the artistry, not the price tag, she admires and wants to keep. She would not be comfortable wearing something that looked expensive; she doesn’t mind when other people do, but she would feel more than a little tacky wearing or displaying items whose primary function is to show off excess wealth. It’s a Christian thing: If we have the excess money to buy that kind of jewelry,
then shouldn’t we have given it, quietly and secretly, to the poor? That’s the problem with actually reading the words of Christ in the Gospels and taking them seriously – it makes it impossible to “say it with diamonds.” In past years, I would give her chocolates. Not that we ever have a shortage of them around the house, but I know her favorites and it is fun to receive a gift that shows that you are known by the person who loves you. But this year, she has sworn off chocolate for a season, and it would hardly show love for her if I did something to subvert her resolution. A book would be a nice Valentine’s gift – except that we generally pick out our own books, since the investment of time in reading is a matter of personal taste. Also, we regularly go to Barnes & Noble – our idea of a hot date – and pick our own. I find a book for her once every three years or so; she, for me, once every 10, only because I���m a more incessant book buyer, so that the chance of finding a book that I would like, which I haven’t already bought, is close to zero. What is left, then, for Valentine’s Day for old married lovers like my wife and me? My personal plan is to go out to someplace informal if she wants to (we eat early enough that we can almost always get a table, even on Valentine’s Day) or eat at home if she prefers that. Then we’ll either watch something – the new season of Downton Abbey? An old favorite movie? – or play Ticket to Ride till she needs to prepare the lesson she’ll teach to the high school students in the religion class that meets at our house every morning at 6:15. If that sounds boring and unromantic to you, just keep this in mind: The romance of old lovers who have been married since 1977 and dating since 1973, and who have raised children together, is nothing like the romance of strangers trying to decide whether to become something more. We already know so much about each other that “mystery” is no longer tantalizing – the areas of life where we don’t yet “get” each other are merely frustrating or annoying, not enticing or fascinating. Thirty-six years of marriage means, not romance, but endless forgiveness, forbearance and tolerance, along with the memory of the good bits. The holiday for old lovers is Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, rather than Valentine’s Day.
.... I have the perfect book for Valentine’s Day. It’s in the category of Extravagant Love Stories, like the movies Groundhog Day and Somewhere in Time, or the book The Time Traveler’s Wife. (Continued on page 28)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Apocalyptic Zombies Always Ring Twice by Scott D. Yost county editor
In recent years, there have been a lot of dire predictions about the impending collapse of civilization and/or the end of the world. In 2008, there was the collapse of the financial markets. That calamity – caused by the Wall Street fat cats and the bankers with their credit default swaps and other fancy financial instruments – was supposed to cast the world into an economic death spiral that would send us all back into cave life. But, it turns out, that “crisis” was easily manageable simply by giving trillions of dollars to the people who caused it. Then, in 2009, the Hadron collider started up, and, if you remember, that was supposedly going to create a planet-devouring black hole that would, well … devour the planet. But that too turned out to be a false alarm. Then, last summer, there was the start of the zombie apocalypse, where ordinary bath salts were turning human beings into flesh-eating carnivores with an intense craving for human flesh, and all the news reports at that time predicted that zombies were going to be everywhere. But then, after a great deal of hoopla, the zombie apocalypse died down. I think that problem was solved primarily by people switching from bathing with bath salts to bathing only with soap and water. Then, two months ago, the world was supposed to end at 12 minutes and 12 seconds after 12 noon on 12/12/12. And a week after that, right before Christmas, a giant asteroid was barreling toward the earth and was supposed to take the entire planet out, but the asteroid missed – which left the planet around to face The Big One. That, of course, was the infamous Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. Everyone just knew the world was going to end on that day because the calendar of the ancient Mayans only went up to Dec. 21, 2012. (Which, it turned out, was about 2,000 years more than the Mayans actually needed for their own use.) But Dec. 21, 2012 came and went and nothing happened. In my column over the years, in contrast with a lot of doomsayers out there, I’ve tried to ease people’s minds about all these supposed catastrophes. I’ve always preached calm and tried to encourage people to simply ignore all these preposterous nightmarish “end of the world” scenarios touted by these highly irresponsible doomsayers. Every time some new threat would show up on the horizon, and people feared the world was on the edge of collapse, or feared that civilization was unraveling, or that the world was falling apart financially or whatever, I was never worried because of one thing. I would always say: “How bad could things be – we still have this …” And then I would say the two words that made people realize everything would be OK. I mean, I would say, if things were truly bad, then there’s no way this would still be around. And as soon as I said those two words, reminding people about this, they would realize that what I was saying was true, and they would agree with me that that was a sign things were still OK. I mean, if civilization really were falling apart, if the government were truly running out of money and resources, if the zombie apocalypse really were so bad, if so on and so forth, insert your crisis here – well, then how could we still have this? You know, I would tell people, how can things be so bad if we have … Saturday mail. As long as you had a government stable enough to provide you with something as frivolous and unnecessary as Saturday mail – well, really, how bad could things be? If there were a real crisis – be it a financial one, or a large-scale zombie attack – there’s no way the people in charge would have enough wherewithal to continue bringing you mail on Saturdays. So, needless to say, I was greatly disturbed to pick up the paper recently and read the news. Now you have permission to start worrying: Saturday mail was the thing that stood between us and the abyss, and in August it will be gone. One Slate.com article titled, “The Postman Rings Every So Often,” had a subhead that told me something I already knew: “The end of Saturday mail is coming—and Friday mail might be next.” After the elimination of Saturday mail this August, the rest of the days will fall like dominoes. The next thing you know, there will be no Friday mail, and then no mail on Thursday. And then Wednesday mail will go away, followed by Tuesday mail – because, hey, the people in charge will try to convince you, one day of mail a week is enough mail for (Continued on page 14)
taylor theatre, UNcG
336-334-4849 or boxoffice.uncg.edu for tickets
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Beep (Continued from page 9) %%% Hello, Beep. The Chevrolet Aveo is made in Bogota, Columbia, and in Korea. The Chevrolet Equinox is made in Canada. The Chevrolet HHR is made in Ramos, Arizpe, Mexico. The Chevrolet Silverado, the Chevrolet Avalanche and the GMC Sierra are made in Silao, Mexico. Well, why am I just now learning about this? Since outsourcing is so bad, how come I’m just now hearing it? Why is the Chevrolet Silverado, the American icon, being made in Mexico? Who is trying to fool me here? And why am I just learning about this today? I mean, I’m just now heard about it. Columbia, Korea, Mexico. Are any Chevrolets still made in America? %%% Hello. This is High Point calling. Mr. Yost, your article on heaven was interesting. However, with all due respect, sir, I’m not trashing you or anything. The key to heaven is found on these pages of the Bible, King James Version, in the book of John 3:16, in the book of John 6:47, book of John 11:25-26, the book of John 20:2728, in the first book of John 5:11, and the book of Titus 3:4-6, and 2 Corinthians 5:17, and in Romans 6:23. And these are where the keys to heaven are found. And for all the corrupt political … %%% This is the second week in a row that you omitted the Sudoku puzzle even though you’re including the solutions, which is kind of weird. Thanks. %%% The Guilford Soil and Water Conservation District will be holding its annual tree seedling sale on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the Agricultural Center at 3309 Burlington Road. We’re selling hardwood tree seedlings for $1 a piece. And they include black walnut, persimmons and dogwood to name a few. And, then,
Scott’s Night Out I spend a lot of time at sports bars and I finally came across the city’s only other hockey fan (above), at KickBack Jack’s recently. She’s obviously a Capitals fan, whereas I prefer the Penguins. Speaking of marine life, below is a Rhinos Around the World from my brother Mark. This is Mark (middle) with his son, my nephew, Parker, deep sea fishing off of Costa Rica. The guy on the left is the boat’s captain. They caught 14 sailfish in four days. Fortunately, all the fish went back into the ocean and not on the dinner plate. Fish cannot live out of water for any length of time because they cannot breathe air like mammals do – such as, for instance, whales, which, despite a misconception that some have, are incapable of breathing underwater. – Scott D. Yost.
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anyone. And then, one day, not far in the future now, they will finally announce that they are stopping Monday mail. Even after the mail has stopped, you’ll still occasionally go out to your mailbox to check the mail out of habit, and when you open the mailbox and it’s empty once again, you’ll remember: Oh, yeah, there’s no mail anymore. And you will turn around to go back into your house and a zombie will grab you and begin eating you because, you know, there’s no more mail and no more civilization and you are doomed for sure unless you can make it to the secluded island because zombies can’t swim. Good luck and Godspeed – and may you make it to the island unharmed, uninfected and uneaten.
we’re also selling bundles of 25 pines for $6, which includes the white pine and loblolly. We’ll have wildflower seeds for sale, as well as bluebird boxes and feeders. To preorder, call (336) 375-5401, ext. 3. %%% At the end of the disaster that was also known as the Clinton administration, the Republican Party had a golden opportunity to do good things for America. Instead, eight years was squandered on an expensive, pointless war. American jobs continue to go overseas, and nothing was done about illegal immigration. Therefore, after Mitt Romney said he didn’t care about half the population and was found to shift jobs overseas, and to have put Americans out of work, it should come as a surprise to no one that Obama was reelected. Thank you. %%% Editor’s Note: It seems you have forgotten 9/11. %%% So, Linda Shaw thinks she is a conservative Republican? I think she is the best Democrat Guilford County has and has had for a couple of years. So, P&G promised the city 200 jobs for $965,000. And, also, they promised the county. My math says 200 to the city and 200 to the county is 400 jobs. Is this their thinking? Also, one other thing, please, stop calling Nora Carr chief of staff. It may be her title, but we all know she runs the school system. %%% Just read in the News & Record, city crime lowest since 1988. Gave a lot of good reasons but never mentioned handgun ownership in homes or concealed carry permits, which probably it’s a record number now. Maybe someone should investigate this. Guns are a deterrent to keep people from breaking and entering and inflicting serious bodily injury or death. %%% Hello. I would like to know if there is anyone out there that can tell me how to get rid of these telephone solicitors. I have already had three calls this morning, and it is only 10 a.m. These people are driving us crazy. You can sit down to eat your dinner at night, and they’re constantly calling. They’re selling security systems, earplugs, just one thing and another. It is driving us crazy from answering the phone. You can’t even get a chance to go to the bathroom but what the phone ain’t ringing and somebody is trying to sell you something. Help. Give me some information how to get rid of it. %%% News flash. Whales are fish. Read all about it. Whales are fish. %%% The performing arts center. We don’t need it. We’ve got the Coliseum’s auditorium. I think they should renovate it. Where are they going to park? And I think the people that get it ought to pay for it. I don’t think (Continued on page 34)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Letters to the Editor Who’s to blame for gun violence? Dear Editor, Many if not most of the arguments coming from the gun control crowd are long on sentiment and short on facts. They seem blissfully unaware that many of the measures they are pushing for have been law for many years now. The six page Federal Firearms Transaction Record (ATF Form 4473), which must be completed for every firearm sale, plainly states that any person who makes a false oral or written statement with respect to such a transaction is “a crime punishable as a felony under Federal law, and may also violate State and/or local law.” According to the Department of Justice, the subsequent background check performed after completion of the Federal Firearms Transaction Record uncovered over 72,000 people who had falsified information on that form in 2012 alone. However, only 44 of those were prosecuted. Under current law it is a felony to engage in buying or selling firearms or ammunition without possessing a federal firearms dealer’s license. It is a felony for a license holder to sell a firearm without performing a National Instant Criminal Background Check. (There is no exemption for gun show sales.) It is a felony for anyone to sell, loan, rent, give or provide a firearm to any person that is not legally allowed to possess such a weapon. Those who feel gun violence is truly a problem should not blame law-abiding gun owners, firearms manufacturers or civil rights groups such as the NRA. Instead, they should put the blame squarely where it belongs – on the shoulders of a government that flatly refuses to enforce its own laws. Tom Kirkman III
God, and his ownership/readership of the Bible tipping the scales in regard to one’s entrance into heaven. The belief that your performance grants you any standing with God is certainly not in the Bible. I hope dearly, that he did not learn this in Sunday school at Methodist church or Young Life, for I know that is not what those organizations intend to teach. In case he was taught that principle, or in case what he read in the Bible has been eclipsed by popular mythology, let me set the record straight. In any of the translations or paraphrases pictured/ mentioned it is very clear that entrance to heaven is by acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior, and that the reader is completely powerless to save himself. So your ownership of 57 Bibles or none is irrelevant to your standing with God. His love for you, and your acceptance of that love, is what gets you “in” or “out.” You may recall, from your reading in the New Testament, that the religious people of Jesus’ day had all the external trappings, and he called them among other names “whitewashed tombs” – looking good but rotting inside. For the heart that knows Christ and his saving grace, as I expect that Harris Teeter lady did, the Bible becomes a way to know him better, to understand his heart for yourself and for the world. It becomes transformative. Maybe you know all that already, having read the book. But, unfortunately, your jesting article emphasized an idea that is counter to the Bible, and that belief in the necessity of performance is a hindrance to many people who need a God who saves them by his goodness alone. Melanie Shores
Abstain from meat for Lent A 10 percent solution Dear Editor, Sequestration is back in the news again. I think that all government spending should be decreased by at least 10 percent. I think that all government salaries should be reduced by 10 percent. All government pensions should be reduced by 10 percent, or eliminated. All government borrowing should be reduced, or eliminated. In fact, I think that every government (city, county, state, federal, etc.) agency and program should be downsized by 10 percent. Big government is bad government. Chuck Mann
Faith, not works Dear Editor, I was curious about the opening paragraph of Scott Yost’s column in the Feb. 7 edition of The Rhino Times, so I read on. The Harris Teeter Bible lady presents a great image, and his point about reading the Bible, some Bible, is well taken. My purpose in writing is not to argue a translation versus a paraphrase, but to point out that, for a great portion of his article, he talks about getting points with
Dear Editor, This Wednesday, Feb. 13, marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, when Christians would abstain from meat and dairy products in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting before launching his ministry. Devout Christians who observe meatless Lent help reduce their risk of chronic disease, as well as environmental degradation and animal abuse. Dozens of medical reports have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer and other killer diseases. A 2007 UN report named meat production as the largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals being beaten, caged, crowded, deprived, mutilated and shocked. Lent offers a superb opportunity to honor Jesus’ powerful message of compassion and love by adopting a meat-free diet for Lent and beyond. It’s the diet mandated in Genesis 1:29 and observed in the Garden of Eden. Every supermarket offers a rich array of meat and dairy alternatives, as well as
the more traditional vegetables, fruits and grains. Entering “vegetarian” in your favorite search engine provides lots of meat replacement products, recipes and transition tips. Rick Harris
Double-speak not the answer Dear Editor, Where was Obama and what did he do, or fail to do, on 9-11-12? That same day, a US Army general and a US Navy admiral were relieved of their command. Unconfirmed reports said they were poised and ready to deploy military personnel to help stop the attacks on the embassy, but they received orders to “stand down.” When they refused, they were relieved of their command on orders from “higher ups” in the administration. Eastern and Western news sources reported this, but Western media never followed up on it. The attacks went on for seven hours. We had military forces within two hours of Benghazi. Why was help not deployed? Who told them to stand down, and why? The issue wasn’t who was mounting the attack and why. US spokespersons made a big deal over it being a spontaneous attack evolving out of a crowd of demonstrators mad about some stupid YouTube video. What difference did that make at the time?
We knew the embassy was under attack, and did nothing. The American public was deluged with media reports about the video and it being a spontaneous, unorganized attack. All this was nothing more than a diversionary tactic to take the focus off what it really was – a well-planned, wellorganized terrorist attack. Everything about this whole incident stinks. Present day intelligence and communications are instantaneous – “real time.” Our commander in chief is not leveling with us. He had to know what was going on. No matter where he was or what he was doing, his intel would have contacted him and kept him updated on everything as it was happening. America needs to demand an answer and an explanation. Eloquent speeches and political double-speak won’t get it this time. Ramon Bell
Police won’t fight fraud Dear Editor, During the Christmas holidays, somebody stole our money order for our rent for $400 from a drop box at a local reality company. We reported it to the fraud department of the Greensboro Police Department. The person in charge has not assigned anyone to the case. It is February (Continued on page 24)
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Letters (Continued from page 23)
The correct letter
and we still have not heard a word from the Police Department. Today we learned it has happened to another victim from the same reality company. Somebody stole another money order from the same reality company. They reported it the Greensboro Police Department. The police have not assigned anyone to the latest victim’s case. It seems like the fraud department does not care about the victims of these thefts, as the chief does not assign anyone to these cases. There needs to be new leadership at the fraud division of the Greensboro Police Department. After all, the taxpayers are the ones who pay their salaries to protect them and the citizens deserve somebody who will do their job and solve a crime when it is committed. It makes you wonder how many more victims throughout this city have had the same problems with the fraud division. Perhaps there needs to be some serious changes in this area of policing. Steven M. Shelton
Dear Editor, In Venezuela, civilians are not allowed to possess any of the following: machine guns, sub-machine guns, carbines, pistols and revolvers. Under the new law enacted last June, only the army, police and certain approved groups (security companies, bodyguards, etc.) are able to buy arms from the state-owned weapons manufacturer. Throughout history we have seen tyrants disarm their citizenry under the guise of “cleaning up the streets” or “eliminating violent crime.” Once “dissidents” are rendered impotent, the powers that be can squeeze, persecute and oppress. If you are looking for some “bright line” to correlate the Venezuelan gun ban with a rise in tyranny there, you might not find one, yet. Six months is a pretty short window of time to flip a switch on change. Although I cannot point to some sudden, dramatic rise in dictatorial behavior by Hugo Chavez, there are some reasons that such a flippant posture would be premature and ill-advised. Even post-ban, firearms in the hands of the people outnumber those of the military and police by three or four to one. Mr. Chavez knows he would be walking on thin ice. According to a working paper by Aaron Karp, “Surplus Arms in South America,” there are an estimated 1.1 million to 2.7 million illicit firearms in Venezuela. This large number says several things. It says that individuals are reticent to give up property that is rightfully their own and it says that pushback by the populous is a very real threat. Even a dictator knows that his position is tenuous if and when there are enough detractors, armed detractors, to topple his
The incorrect letter Dear Editor, On Feb 7, 2013, a letter to the editor appeared in The Rhinoceros Times entitled “Who is being protected”. That letter was attributed to me. Although it was a wellwritten and interesting letter, I cannot take credit for it. I did not write or submit it. I hope you credit the rightful author in an upcoming issue. Debra McCusker Editor’s Note: We apologize. But at least is was a good letter we put your name under.
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house of cards. It appears that Chavez is a bad actor, but a careful one. Democracies slouch toward dictatorship when the citizenry are emasculated. Disarming the populous is in every tyrant’s playbook. There is a pattern, if our eyes are open to see it. Debra McCusker
Clearing up a misconception Dear Editor, In his letter regarding homosexual adults being allowed to serve as Boy Scout leaders, writer Ramon Bell promotes a common but inaccurate notion that homosexuals are by nature sexual predators – pedophiles. As reported by researchers Kurt Freund and Robin Watson, pedophilia is more prevalent among heterosexuals than it is among homosexuals by a ratio of two to one. Pedophilia itself does not occur in more than 5 percent of either straight or gay individuals, which exposes the myth that by nature all homosexuals are pedophiles. Cosh Backer
Bullets versus balls Dear Editor, Funny. Actually it’s ludicrous the things you come up with to try to support your position on a subject. You equate a hundred bullets to one ball. Come on, depending upon the size of the bullets, a hand can hold 10 to 20 bullets.
Scandals (Continued from page 4) Ashley said Guilford County’s image could also benefit from branding its buildings and other facilities. “The county has no cohesive imaging when it comes to logos,” she said. Casey Smith, a budget analyst for the county who served on the committee, told the board that he used to work for Wake County and, he said, Wake County has consistent blue and white signage and prominent logos. Every time a citizen comes across a government building, Smith said, it’s obvious from the pronounced signage, color and logo scheme that it’s a county building. The key recommendation of the committee was for Guilford County to spend the money to hire a public relations director. Currently Guilford County has a public relations specialist for the Department of Public Health, and the county also has employees charged with those duties in the Emergency Services Department. The Guilford County Sheriff’s Department also has a robust public relations unit. However, the committee members and other speakers advocating for the new position said the county would benefit from having one public relations director who would be the
A fair comparison would be 10 to 20 golf, tennis or baseballs. You were told shooting a gun accurately in a real situation is a hundred or thousand times more difficult than shooting one on a range. Isn’t that an argument against having guns in the hands of those who hold them for “self defense,” just the opposite of the point you’re trying to make? Your anecdote of you freezing up to use a telephone (after using it thousands of times) does the same thing. Think of all the hundreds of thousands of people who own guns but have never had all the practice you say is necessary to properly handle them. You say you don’t want people running with guns who don’t know how to use them. Following your argument, the safe thing to do would be to require all gun owners to be certified every year based upon the amount of practice they had during the year. Think it will happen? Again, if the N&R printed such drivel, you’d fall all over yourself to write about it to ridicule them. So will you pint this letter in The Rhino Times? Anonymous Editor’s Note: You can shoot a basketball thousands of times. You can shoot a bullet once. I would be safer if every gun owner was required to take a gun safety class every year, and the roads would be safer if every driver took a driving class every year. When did you last take a safe driving class?
point person whenever the county had a message to convey. The pay range for the position was projected to be $61,000 to $76,000, and the additional annual costs for a public relations budget were expected to be between $40,000 and $100,000 annually. Committee members told the commissioners that the ability to communicate with consistent focus and high production quality would give the county much more control over its message. Lynne Gladstone, a recent graduate of the Guilford County Citizen’s Academy – a night course in county government begun and headed up by Commissioner Kay Cashion – said that, if the county doesn’t take control of its own message, The Rhinoceros Times would be the one that continues to tell the county’s story. “We are in a situation where no one person is telling a positive story,” Gladstone told the board. She said that, currently, much of the narrative about Guilford County comes from “the neighbors gossiping over fences,” and she added that most of those people “don’t know whether you are city councilmembers or county commissioners.” Another graduate of the Citizen’s (Continued on next page)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Pool (Continued from page 1) meeting, said that Sutton-Kennerly had backpedaled and come up with a plan to renovate the pool for $2.5 million with a metal roof and $2.7 million with a synthetic membrane roof. Save Our Pool estimates that it will cost about $1 million to fix the pool, which was closed on the afternoon of Dec. 7, 2011, after a windstorm sheared off part of the metal roof of the pool building – but the pool was maintained and useable, although unused, until three months ago, when the city ran out of water-purifying chemicals and stopped filtering the pool’s water. The pool building also has cracks in two walls, one of them load-bearing. The Grimsley pool is owned by the City of Greensboro, not Guilford County Schools. The deed to the land for the pool the school system sold to Greensboro for $10 in 1975, as well as the shared-use agreement drawn up the same year, gave the city the responsibility of maintaining the pool, apparently in perpetuity, since there is no end date for the agreement. The city hasn’t done so, although Guilford County Schools has maintained an indoor pool at Smith HIgh School built under the same agreement and owned by the schools. Sutton-Kennerly originally gave Greensboro four options on the pool: fixing it to extend its life for up to 15 years for $4.9 million; building a new pool on the site for $4.3 million; building a new pool on a different site for $4.4 million; or simply demolishing the building and pool
Scandals (Continued from previous page) Academy also singled out The Rhino Times when she was talking about the county’s image problems. No one at the meeting suggested putting an end to scandals in Guilford County government or curtailing the waste of tax dollars, but those would no doubt help the county’s image as well. Also, no one at the meeting pointed their finger at the News & Record or The High Point Enterprise, which also routinely cover Guilford County government. At the meeting, some commissioners on the board didn’t look too excited about adding a public relations specialist to the county’s payroll, but others were very open to the idea. Some commissioners said a better county image could lead to more economic growth because businesses would have a more positive view of the county. Commissioner Bruce Davis said he would support hiring a public relations specialist for the county. “In the long run it could save us millions,” Davis said, though he did not go into detail as to how that would be. Over the last decade, the biggest advancement in the county’s public relations efforts came about six years
Thursday, February 14, 2013
for $375,000. Save Our Pool, relying on a new boring study by S&ME Inc. environmental engineers of Raleigh, has had contractors estimate that the Grimsley pool could be repaired cheaply and put back into service quickly. The S&ME report supported the group’s plan to drive some compactedstone piers to support the southeast corner of the pool, which has sunk by four inches since 1976, patch up the walls, repair the roof and reopen the pool. Gilchrist said that the $2.5 million or $2.7 million estimates are still inflated. “That’s too much,” Gilchrist said. “It’s way too much. At least we’ve got them coming down in price.” Sutton-Kennerly presented the new plan at a noon meeting on Monday at the offices of the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department. Gilchrist said the sticking point is that Sutton-Kennerly insists on renovating the building, and renovations trigger a requirement that the pool building be brought up to current building codes. The original Sutton-Kennerly proposal included new locker rooms, a deeper pool, bringing the building into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a host of other improvements. “Our position was that they need to look at repairing this facility instead of renovating it and doing all the code upgrades associated with renovating the structure,” Gilchrist said. “They’re a million dollars off, at least, from what we’re proposing.” Guilford County Schools Director of
ago when former County Manager David McNeill found a podium in storage that had the Guilford County seal on it, and McNeill had staff dust it off, and he asked the commissioners to stand behind the official looking podium when they made media announcements.
Maintenance Gerald Greeson, who was at Monday’s meeting, said the school system’s understanding is that the city is responsible for fixing the building under the deed and the shared-use agreement. “You would certainly think so,��� Greeson said. “That would certainly be our stand. But the city may not take our view. They may say, ‘That’s it, we’re out of here.’ They haven’t said it, but it’s always an option open to them.” Under the shared-use agreement, if Greensboro doesn’t repair the pool, or if the property ceases being used for a pool, ownership of the property reverts to Guilford County Schools. Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins has supported tearing down the pool. If Greensboro does, Guilford County Schools will regain ownership of the property. Greeson said Guilford County Schools administrators were only recently given the information Gilchrist had gathered and will have to analyze it. Gilchrest said one option would be for Greensboro and Guilford County Schools to split the cost of repairing the building enough to make it useable. “We’ll come up with a final cost estimate, and it will be between the city and the county how much each will pay,” he said. “There is some interest from the county.” Save Our Pool members have met with Guilford County commissioners and members of the Guilford County Board of Education, as well as Greensboro city councilmembers. Greeson said the Guilford County Schools Facilities Department has not had instructions on the pool from the school board or from Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green. He said, “No, we haven’t, other than to listen very
The New York Times Hyper-Sudoku: 2 sudoku_351A Created by Peter Ritmeester/Presented by Will Shortz
(Continued from page 25) --My pope is resigning at the end of the month. Pope Benedict XVI is resigning because he says physically he’s not up to the demands of the office. Most people didn’t even realize a pope could resign since the last time it happened was before Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic. I thought the pope was pope for life and now I’m finding out that’s not true. But I’m worried because my mom is the same age as Pope Benedict and I’m hoping that she doesn’t decide to resign from being my mom. --(Continued on page 27)
carefully.” Greeson said that, if the Greensboro City Council does not repair the pool, it risks a political backlash. “I would certainly think so,” he said. “I think the community would be upset.” A Jan. 24 meeting in the media center of Grimsley High School drew about 100 representatives of the large community that uses Grimsley’s indoor pool. Those present on Jan. 24 included retired 30-year head swimming coach Durante Griffin, who manages the Smith pool and managed the Grimsley pool until it was closed; current head swimming coach Angelo Kontoulas; and representatives of other programs that formerly used the Grimsley pool, including Triad Masters Swimming and the Greensboro Swimming Association youth swim league. There were also parents and students from Page High School, which used the pool. Those at the Jan. 24 meeting made clear that the opposition to tearing down the pool comes not merely from Grimsley athletic supporters but from the many people and organizations that have regularly used the pool. Numerous people said that two generations of their family have used the pool for scout swimming training, private birthday parties, water aerobics and, of course, competitive swimming. Gilchrist said that Save Our Pool will continue to generate concrete plans to fix the pool. “We are going to reach out to some contractors and get some estimates,” he said. “We are pretty much going to avoid Sutton-Kennerly as much as possible and go to several of the city councilmembers. Part of the problem with the City Council was that they were seriously misinformed to begin with.”
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(Continued from page 1)
joined with Democratic Commissioners Carolyn Coleman, Bruce Davis, Ray Trapp and Kay Cashion to grant the incentives, while Republican Commissioners Jeff Phillips, Alan Branson, Hank Henning and Bill Bencini all voted no. The 5-to-4 vote handed $975,000 to Proctor & Gamble Manufacturing Company to expand its operations in Guilford County. The company has proposed a new $100 million investment in its existing plant in Greensboro and has promised to create at least 200 new full-time jobs over the next three years. Jodi Riddleberger, a co-founder of Conservatives for Guilford County (C4gc), shot an email to Shaw the night of the meeting and, the next day, Riddleberger was leading the charge for conservatives to call and email Shaw to let her know how they felt. “I don’t know of a true conservative Republican who would be comfortable promoting socialism by spreading the wealth around and giving away their constituents’ tax dollars, through blatant corporate welfare, to companies like Proctor & Gamble,” Riddleberger said this week. “Chairwoman Shaw doesn’t seem to understand that the government doesn’t create jobs; the private sector creates jobs. The purpose of the government in regards to jobs is to generate conditions within the community for all businesses to have the opportunity to thrive. The government should provide infrastructure that is focused on public safety, low tax rates and schools that produce an educated workforce.” At the Feb. 7 meeting, Shaw publicly predicted the backlash before she cast her vote to give the money away.
“The newspapers can jump on me all they want,” Shaw said moments before the vote. “I’m supporting jobs.” Shaw said Guilford County wasn’t handing out a grant or a rebate. She said that, instead, the $975,000 would pay for itself since the large investment by Proctor & Gamble would mean more jobs for the county, an increase in the county’s tax base and, subsequently, more tax revenues over time. One of the things Shaw and the other commissioners who consistently approve incentives fail to realize is that Proctor & Gamble – and the vast majority of other companies that come before the board requesting incentives – have already made the decision to expand or locate in Guilford County. Once the companies make that decision, they come to the county and other area governments to see if they can get paid to do something they were planning to do anyway. At the Feb. 7 meeting, Shannon Leonard, who said he’s a concerned citizen currently in a dispute with the county’s Tax Department, told the commissioners that Guilford County has been fighting him tooth and nail over the amount of taxes he should pay, but, he said, that same county is more than happy to give taxpayer money away to rich and thriving companies like Proctor & Gamble. “I’m being raked over the coals for $43,000,” Leonard told the board. He reeled off some financial stats for the giant worldwide manufacturer of such famous brands as Crest, Old Spice and Gillette. Leonard told the board that last year Proctor & Gamble had sales of $84 billion, and billions in net earnings. He also said the company had a 120-year uninterrupted track record of paying
The New York Times Hyper-Sudoku: 3 sudoku_351B Created by Peter Ritmeester/Presented by Will Shortz
8 2 1
4 3 8 6 2 7 5 4 4 5 9 9
Distributed by The New York Times syndicate
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
dividends to its stockholders. Leonard also gave some financial stats for Guilford County and said the company didn’t need a handout from the county. “They’re doing good,” he said. Don Wendelken, who ran in the 2012 primary for the board’s District 5 seat, which was won by Phillips, also spoke in the 20-minute period allotted to opponents of the incentives. “That’s a lot of money,” Wendelken said. He also said he thought there were a lot of questions in citizens’ minds as to how companies that get incentives are being held accountable. Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne explained the jobs verification process and said incentives contracts were drawn in a way that assured the companies only get the money if they create the promised jobs. In the past, Republican Commissioner Bencini has sometimes voted in favor of incentives. However, at the Feb. 7 meeting, he did not, which left Shaw as the only Republican to side with the Democrats. Henning does some research on the companies that request incentives from the county. In January, when The Qualicaps Group, a maker of gelatin capsules for pharmaceuticals, came before the board asking for $273,000 to create 123 jobs, Henning asked Qualicaps representatives about the fact that their company was being bought out by another company – something those representatives had failed to bring up when they were asking for the taxpayer money. And, at the Feb. 7 meeting, Henning asked Proctor & Gamble representatives about the 5,700 employees that had just been laid off by the company. Henning asked how those job losses might affect Guilford County and the proposed expansion. A representative of Proctor & Gamble said the company was cutting nonmanufacturing jobs, but he said the downsizing wouldn’t affect manufacturing jobs such as those in Greensboro. After Henning spoke, Branson said he couldn’t support handing over the taxpayer money. “Our tax rate is extremely high,” Branson said.
Crossword Solution From last week’s issue S P A R T A
T O U P E E S
A L M O N D S
S E T A T
S P L A S H
K A F F E E K L A T S C H
O B A M A
L E M U R S
R E P O T A C E D I T C A I N S H E
T S I L P E R N I R U P G R E E M I S S I N P U I N N E D A S H I E A V M I N E I T Y T B E R E M E N L A B E S U P D U K E A R E D
S E C R E T
A R K I N
L I E V
A L L E Y T W R E A P O L Y O D E L E X T O H E V O R E N G R E E E E R Y I M S S A S T R E A K I N O R T N E A
R E A L P O L I T I K R E D D O T
B A R T O V E R A E R I D U B S O N I N T M R E B E R A L S O R I P T R E Z A D K R R E S P I R U L E L I G L E M E R G A N T I E N
A B S V I E W A L L Y D E E D U C T E N T H E G R S O L R B I C O L A U M A N P A T A O N E L A C L E H O D D A W G A O R I R T E N L I N G A C T
Phillips also spoke in opposition to the move. He gave an eloquent explanation why he was going to vote no, while he simultaneously told Proctor & Gamble representatives that their facility in Greensboro was a much needed driver of the local economy. “We’re blessed to have you,” Phillips said. “We need you.” He also said the decision of which way to vote was “personally challenging,” but he added that Guilford County has many pressing needs. Phillips said the commissioners had to preserve money to pay for everything from education to public health to public safety. “We just can’t afford to do business in this manner,” he said. “What we’ve been doing has just not been working.” Phillips said that, if instead of awarding incentives, the board put a halt to the large payouts and found other ways to cut the tax rate, then, in the long run, Proctor & Gamble would save millions on its property taxes and all other taxpayers would save as well. Phillips said that cutting the tax rate 7 or 8 cents per $100 of property value would in the end mean a tremendous benefit to Proctor & Gamble as well as other companies and taxpayers in the county. “Proctor & Gamble wins in that scenario,” Phillips said. Eloquence aside, Shaw and the Democrats on the board weren’t swayed by Phillips’ speech. Davis said he appreciated the “philosophical beliefs” that Phillips was espousing, but Davis went on to add that incentives are a necessary evil, and, he said, Guilford County has to play the game just like other cities and counties if it’s going to attract new jobs. Trapp said he would vote to grant the incentives request. He said he couldn’t remember if the line was from Jerry Maguire or When Harry Met Sally, but he said to the Proctor & Gamble representatives, “You had me at hello.” That line of course is from Jerry Maguire. The line from When Harry Met Sally is, “I’ll have what she’s having.” At the Feb. 7 meeting, the commissioners heard an update on the proposed Carolina Field of Honor veterans’ memorial. Davis, a former Marine, spoke briefly on the effort to raise money for the $5 million project, which has been in the works for years. The Field of Honor, a joint effort between Guilford and Forsyth counties, calls for the construction of a memorial in Triad Park, which is jointly owned by both counties and operated by Forsyth County. Former Greensboro Mayor Bill Knight, a veteran of the US Coast Guard who’s now helping the fundraising efforts for the memorial, gave the commissioners an update Knight said that the board overseeing the project is made up entirely of veterans, and that good progress was being made. Knight didn’t announce how much money had been raised to date for the memorial, (Continued on next page)
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Rumors (Continued from page 25) I suppose I’m imagining things, but every time I look out the window this year it seems to be raining. According to the weather report, in a normal year we would have had 4 inches of rain so far this year and we’ve had 6 inches. Two inches of rain in a year isn’t much, but if you consider that we have had 50 percent more than normal that would explain why it seems like it’s raining every day. --One thing you can say about the Democrats in North Carolina, they have no shame. For the past 140 years the state government has operated as an employment agency for the Democratic Party – Republicans need not apply. Now that the Republicans have control of the state government, the Democrats are crying foul because the Republicans want to remove Democrats from appointed positions and replace them with their own people. It is certainly time to clean house, and if the Republicans don’t do a good job, the entire General Assembly is up for election in 2014. But for the Democrats to act like Republicans are doing something they never did is absurd. --I’d like to thank the Ancient Order of the Hibernians for inviting me to dinner on Saturday night. I thought it was the Order
Shaw (Continued from previous page) but he said that Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem had all chipped in a combined $250,000. “We’re on the way,” Knight said. “We’re excited.” Knight also brought a video on the project. The background music for the video was “The Star Spangled Banner,” and, when the song began, Henning, a former Marine who fought in Iraq – stood up from his seat at the dais, put his hand over his heart, and turned toward the American flag behind the commissioners. After a moment, other commissioners did the same. While it was a nice gesture, it meant that the commissioners all ended up staring at the flag and were therefore unable to see the video Knight had brought. Soon, the entire audience in the Old Guilford County Court House was standing and looking at the flag while the video played. At the Feb. 7 meeting, Commissioner Cashion gave a report on the progress of the Guilford County Building Naming Committee. Last year, the committee ran out of county buildings to name, so it’s now starting to name dirt trails and patches of land in county parks. Presumably, later in the year, the committee will begin naming the major trees and bushes in Guilford
of Ancient Hibernians but was corrected. My Irish grandmother would be proud. --The whole Sudoku problem reminds me of when we used to lay out the paper on paper and the ads were waxed on the back so they would stick to the page while it was being shot. Once we had a couple of ads fall off and our good friend, the late Jim Garrison, who at that time worked for The High Point Enterprise in commercial print, started using tape on any ad he thought was suspicious. After a few weeks some of our ads were so covered with layers of tape that the print was blurred. We finally convinced Jim we could take a chance on one ad falling off the page every now and then. But he would still slip a little tape on an ad when we weren’t looking. --Colon cancer is preventable, and in honor of Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Digestive Health Specialists is offering free colonoscopies in March. Eligible candidates must be 50 or older with no health insurance who have an annual income less than $25,000 and have never been screened before. The first 50 people to respond will receive the procedure. To sign up, visit www.digestivehealth.ws or call (336) 768-6211. ---
County. At the end of the commissioners meeting, the board held a long closed session to discuss the salary of the county’s next elections director, Charlie Collicutt, who’s now deputy director of elections. The Guilford County Board of Elections selected Collicutt to take the place of Guilford County Board of Elections Director George Gilbert, who will retire at the end of this month. Collicutt’s selection was approved by state election officials and the Board of Commissioners don’t get to hire him but do get to set his salary. Gilbert is suing the county for a retroactive pay increase that would go back three years and amount to about $42,000 in past wages and benefits. That lawsuit no doubt added some controversy and some length to the conversation the commissioners had over Collicutt’s salary. Collicutt was making $50,418 a year as the deputy director of elections. When the board came out of closed session, it voted unanimously to raise Collicutt’s salary to $80,000, effective March 1. The Board of Commissioners might have to raise that if Gilbert’s lawsuit is successful. Gilbert is currently making just over $99,000 a year. The next regular meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is on Thursday, Feb. 21.
Schedule CHECK US OUT ON THE OPEN HOUSE PAGE
NC Theatre for Young People UNCG’s Taylor Theatre • 406 Tate St.
The NC Theatre for Young People will spin the classic tale of Wilbur, a little pig who becomes famous with the help of his clever friend Charlotte. Lessons of friendship, loyalty and truth bind this story together and show that friends come in all shapes and sizes. Based on the book by E.B. White, the play will be performed at 9:30 a.m. and noon on Feb. 26, 27, 28 and March 1; and 2 p.m. on March 2 and 3. Tickets are $7 to $18. For more information, call (336) 334-4849 or visit www.uncg.edu/the.
Greensboro Natural Science Center 4301 Lawndale Drive
Daily at 11:30 a.m., 2 and 3:30 p.m., Keeper Talks are wonderful way to learn more about Animal Discovery residents from the experts. Keeper Talk schedules are posted daily at the entrance to Animal Discovery, which is subject to change during inclement weather or issues with animal health or safety. Talks are free with general admission. For information, call (336) 288-3769 or visit www.natsci.org.
Greensboro Children’s Museum 220 North Church St.
Cooking Together: Valentine’s Sweets
On Saturday, Feb 16 from 2 to 4 p.m., visit the Edible Schoolyard kitchen to make a few sweet treats as a family. All ages are welcome with parent. The cost is $45 for 1 parent and 1 child ticket, $10 for each additional parent or child.
High Point Museum 1859 E. Lexington Ave
On Monday, Feb. 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and again from 5 to 7 p.m., all parents of pre-schoolers are invited to meet with representatives from Guilford County Schools and other community pre-K resources to ask questions and get information to register and prepare their child for pre-school or kindergarten. This event is free and parents may drop-in at any time during either session. For more information, call (336) 885-1859 or visit highpointmuseum.org.
Children Are Our Future This schedule brought to you by your friends & neighbors at (336) 282-4414
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
The New York Times Crossword Puzzle
I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME By Patrick Berry / Edited by Will Shortz
1 Wa l l o p
49 Somewhat redundant size?
10 Cricket club
6 Gray piece
54 Roof projection
1 3 F a i r- m i n d e d
56 Bedtime preyer?
18 “Pity is for the living, ___ is for t h e d e a d ” : Tw a i n
60 Song featured in “Animal House”
17 “Funeral Blues” writer
1 9 K a p l a n o f “ We l c o m e Back, Kotter” 20 Info from a debriefing
22 Somewhat redundant 1965 country song? 26 Journalist Couric 27 ___ Lang, S u p e r b o y ’s l o v e
28 1951 Cooperstown inductee
29 Increases, with “up”
30 Somewhat redundant Milton Bradley game? 35 Show featuring the L . V. P. D . 38 Oktoberfest collectibles
RELEASE DATE: 2/10/2013
39 Cotillion attendee 40 Power in sci-fi
4 1 K n e e l e r ’s o ff e r i n g 43 Ambient musician Brian 4 4 O rg . t h a t f i n e s polluters
45 Chicken bred for its meat
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.
57 “Nick News” host Linda
61 Bakery array
62 Reacted to a bad call
6 3 M r. B i l l a p p e a r e d o n i t : A b b r.
64 Somewhat redundant 1960s spy series? 69 Sound of heartbreak 72 Picks up
73 Cartoon beagle 74 Hit the roof
78 Like some passages in a symphony 80 Elton John nickname
81 Deli appliance
8 2 O ’ N e i l l ’s “ _ _ _ Christie”
107 Clock face number
1 9 Wi l l G e e r ’s r o l e o n “ T h e Wa l t o n s ”
109 Core philosophy
1 0 6 G l i n d a ’s c r e a t o r
108 Repo justification
11 2 E x t r e m e l y redundant 1963 caper film?
24 Animal whose head d o e s n ’t m a k e a sound?
11 8 “ Ta - d a ! ”
11 9 P a t r o n s a i n t o f sailors
120 Cut and collect
121 128-character set 1 2 2 J o b t i t l e a b b r.
1 2 3 C o o p e r U n i o n ’s location, briefly
1 2 4 H a u t e c u i s i n e i t ’s not 125 Chews (out) Down
1 N o t l o o k p e r k y, s a y 2 Vi s i b i l i t y r e d u c e r
3 Skull session result 4 Comb row
5 Ancient Roman author Quintus ___
83 Somewhat redundant literary genre?
6 In accordance with
91 Brief laugh
8 A Wa u g h
92 Flamboyant stole 93 Machiavellian concerns
94 John of Salisbury
95 Pink lady ingredient 96 “The things I put up with!” 9 9 B u ff
100 Somewhat redundant theater production?
7 G o a l i e ’s j e r s e y n u m b e r, o f t e n 9 Human speech mimickers
10 Shearing shed sound 11 S w a l l o w, a s c o s t s 12 Clearly low on patience
13 Peter Pan rival 14 Not as content
15 Percussive dance troupe 1 6 M u s i c i a n ’s r a t e
25 Common check box on surveys 3 1 M T V ’s e a r l i e s t viewers, mostly
3 5 Ta n g y s a l a d l e a v e s
36 Amendment guaranteeing a speedy trial
46 R&D sites
4 8 Wa l k w h i l e d i z z y
5 0 Wi m b l e d o n c h a m p Gibson 51 Shakes up
5 2 Ve r y i m p r e s s e d
53 Crystal Cave is one 58 Common middle name 59 E Day debuts 6 1 E m e rg e n c y
62 Captain who says “ We l l , g e n t l e m e n , between ourselves and home are 27,000 sea miles” 65 Fill up on
8 4 A t h e n s ’s h o m e 85 1950s TV star Duncan
97 “Music for the Royal Fireworks” composer
8 7 O l d Wo r l d d e e r
100 End note?
75 Big East sch.
7 6 P r o u s t ’s “ À l a Recherche du Te m p s _ _ _ ” 77 Sweet meet?
86 Do as expected
98 Open conflict
89 Body blow reaction
1 0 1 N i c k n a m e o f j a z z ’s Earl Hines
9 0 Wo r l d c a p i t a l situated in what was once ancient Thrace
95 How bad news is often received
70 “What a calamity!”
79 Nabisco treats sold only seasonally
69 One way to go to a party
66 Perfume sampling spot
67 Roman calendar day
44 South Dakota Air Force base
45 Not on deck, maybe
37 Part of the front matter
4 2 M o s a i c i s t ’s s u p p l y
32 & 33 Plastic shields and such 34 Equal: Prefix
105 “___ Body?” (first L o r d P e t e r Wi m s e y novel) 11 0 M a r i n e t h r e a t 111 S k i n n y 11 3 S a t i s f i e d 11 4 “ B r e a k i n g B a d ” network
11 5 G r e a t L e a p Forward overseer
104 Slow on the uptake
11 7 S l a m
1 0 3 C h e n e y ’s f o l l o w e r
11 6 B l a c k B e r r y b u y
Uncle Orson (Continued from page 12) David Levithan’s novel Every Day is about a 16-year-old who wakes up every morning in a different body, in a different life. Each day, it’s a life that’s already in midflow. The person has parents and siblings (or not), loves and desires, hobbies and projects, assignments and jobs, and the hero of the story is given a single day in which his decisions and actions, using their body, their voice, their position in the world, will either enhance or subvert their lives. I say “he” but in fact he’s as likely to be in a girl’s body as a boy’s, with every kind of girl or boy, with every shading of desire. So when he wakes up in the body of a boy named Justin who has a girlfriend named Rhiannon, he doesn’t fall in love with her because she’s a girl, but because of the person she is. And so, for the first time in his life, he starts to take his host bodies on long jaunts to where he can find some way to
be with Rhiannon again. For a few days, he befriends her as a new person, falling in love with her more and more – but without her having a clue that he’s the same person she was with before. Yes, she remembers that she had that one perfect day with Justin, after which Justin returned to being the selfish jerk he has always been. And she really hit it off with Megan and Nathan. The one consistency is that the hero – who calls himself “A” instead of a name – is able to maintain an email account that he uses every day, making sure to erase his browser history. It’s through that email account that he is able to begin explaining things to Rhiannon. When he is able to persuade Rhiannon that he’s not insane, that his story is true – because he remembers details no one else could know about of her time with Justin, Megan and Nathan – the real complications begin. I’m not going to repeat the entire plot
to you; suffice it to say that A has evolved his own rules of morality. First, in other people’s bodies he tries to do no harm. He doesn’t want to leave them injured or ruin their friendships. And when he finds himself in a life that’s really a mess, he tries to do what he can, in a single day, to try to make things a little better. There are other rules that he has no choice about. He tends to go into bodies that are just about the same age as he is – so when he was 5, he was in a 5-yearold’s body every day, and now that he’s 16, he doesn’t pop up in a 90-year-old’s or a baby’s body. It means he’s always at about the right maturity level for the life he’s taking over for the day; except that, having truly lived inside so many lives, he has a degree of tolerance for differences that is quite extraordinary. I was sorry that Levithan, who is so careful to be fair even to jerks and
predators, makes it so that the one truly loathsome experience is to be in the life of a fat person. I wish that weren’t the one remaining bigotry that people who pride themselves on tolerance still indulge in. But it’s obvious that Levithan has never been fat, or he could not write that day’s experiences so uncompassionately. Weirdly, each day really does end at midnight – even if he’s not asleep, he is wrenched out of the body. This, of course, makes no sense at all – our clocks are set, not by any natural boundary, but by artificial time zones. One wonders if his cycle adjusts to daylight savings time. But the story is good enough that you can choose to overlook a few kludges in the mechanics of the world-creation. Another rule that A is forced to live by is geographical. Each day’s new body tends to be one that is only a few hours’ driving time from the place he went to sleep. This is convenient – it means that A really does (Continued on next page)
FEBRUARY 2013 | CAROLINA JOURNAL
Parting SHot Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Perdue Shares Uncle OrsonJob-Announcement Form With McCrory (a CJ Parody)
Yet this book could be used in high I care about, and I think you’ll like it, too.” genuinely Good People and do not take school. Even though A passes through Period. what they want when the cost is borne by Why, then, would you require students to lives of every shading of sexuality and others. RALEIGH read it at all? gender, and like any 16-year-old he is Was that a spoiler? Not when it’s the out so he can see Rhiannon, especially n one of her final acts as governor, Bev Perdue Because I think one of the primary goals susceptible to sexual desire along with the ending that is inevitable from the start; when she is cooperating with him. quietly transferred confidential Levithan follows the relentless logic desire for friendship and companionship of assigning books in school should be to But then there’s the boythe whose body he “Governor’s Jobswhose Announcement Template” to incoming Gov. and the characters he has and belonging, he never actually has sex instill a love of reading. of the world enters, family is going to Hawaii Pat McCrory. A Perdue official who wished to remain Most of the things teachers make students for a wedding. The flight is westward, created. Anything else, and I would not be with anybody. anonymous Journal from the this book so highly. do with books the opposite – they This book could be read by any intelligent recommending so they’ll get told thereCarolina before the clockthat, hits aside tion for a strong andachieve sustainable economic $____________ grant from the One North veto stamp, Perdue template more than convince students that if a book is “good,” teenager; the only thing that would wreck it Because I think this is one of the best midnight, but then he’llprized jump tothe someone Carolina Fund. future. any other official tool she possessed. is if a teacher required students to find “the they’ll hate it, and if they love a book, it the very best. else’s body in Hawaii, and how long will it novels of the year. MaybeSalaries will vary by job function, but INSTRUCTIONS Thehetemplate developed by Detheme”for or decode some hidden “meaning.” “isn’t good.” Because Levithanthe is anaverage excellentannual writer wage be before gets into originally a body that was is flying the new jobs Be sure to advise company officials partment Commerce officials topart makeofDemocratic Sometimes I think that’s half of what hiding his meaning. the kind that I admire. He does not call Levithan back to the of mainland, let alone to the will be $_________, plus isn’t benefits. The that any public statements must say the Gov. Hunt appear to have a direct role in creatIt’s about the wage persistence it’s English teachers mislearned in college: attention to himself as the author –County there are average of the Jim country where Rhiannon lives? _________ annual is of love; grant from the state was a deciding factor in ing all able positive economic Carolina. no prose passages that force you to admire about what virtue really is (strength to act that literature is “good” only to the degree He’s to solve that one,activity but it’sintheNorth $ _______. the company’s decision to locate or expand Hunt shared with successor, Gov. Mike Easley, desire); it’s about the moral choices that it is unenjoyable to read. them at the expense of the“This story. isInstead, central dilemmait of thehis story. What kind a major against step in providing serin North Carolina. This mustOver be emphasized and Easley passed it onhave to Perdue. The opposite is true. the long haul, why good is good and evil is evil; it’s inside the customers,” life, the andsaid of relationship can they when he is he keeps you always vice to our (name of comstrongly to the media. when academic interference is eliminated, sometwice, Democratic about honor and trust; it’s about loneliness lives, of were the characters. never CJ the learned same person when he insiders pany) President __________________. “We Remember to thank other government the books that remain as classics are those shocked when learned Perdue given theis absolutely and belonging; it’s about life. writing clear, and because can’t control who they or where he is from day had His are happy to be in North Carolina and thank agencies for theirthe assistance, even if their that reward reader with a story that can Which means it’s about all the important template to the new governor. “McCrory to withGov. he’sneeds not dealing time paradoxes – like to day? ______________ and the staff of the role was insignificant or nonexistent. Some be cared about and believed in. stuff that all fiction is about, whether come ownbody-switching job announcement form,” those in The Time Traveler’s Wife, which Thinkupofwith all his those North Carolina Department of good Commerce good areisthe TransporThat whatDepartment Every Day is –of a story to care the writer realizes it or not. And that ones made itDavid almost impossible to tell the story outgoing N.C. Party Chairman movies. They are Democratic sometimes pretty good, for making this announcement possible,” tation, the community college system, the about, a story full of human truth, a story means that a teacher who gave this to her order – he tells with a real Parker toldeffort CJ. to make the characters in any kind of coherent he/she said. Golden LEAF foundation, and the N.C. Rural that needs no intermediary to explain it, a high school students would serve them best this storyto in aperfect order,“Creating one thing after feel real. Thewitnessing best of them,Perdue Steve Martin’s After slip an envelope jobs is a top priority of Economic Development Center. story with power to awaken and enlighten by sitting back and listening to them talk another. A few flashbacks when they’re All of Me, is onebefore of the great love12 stories McCrory aide the Jan. inaugural ceremomine,” said Gov. ____________. “Our topabout continues it, adding nothing, to confuse the reader. in film.a CJ reporter asked the aide for a relevant, nies, copy ofbut thenothingnotch business climate to at-judging nothing, the reader. Will McCrory And if use you it? are thinking of what book grading nothing. In fact, Every Day is a model of clarity, But they always have consistency, and contents. tract companies to North Carolina. These you’d like to read yourself,Ricky for noDiaz better CJ asked McCrory spokesman if the This book will feel important to most of which means that it has an absolutely they always have a way to get things back It reads as follows: companies know our customized job trainreason than the pleasure of a good story, them; those who don’t respond to it are not new governor planned to use the jobs announcement that you don’t notice to normal. Levithan gives himself non brilliant style, so pure ing programs will provide a highly skilled this have may well be thatfor book. onlynow. 322 We wrong,tothey just aren’tinataa placeform. in their “I don’t an answer thatAt right it, and it tells its story so perfectly that you easy outs.Gov._____________ Funny as the events sometimes on (day of week) workforce that’s essential competing pages, with big type on a small page, it lives where they’re ready to receive it. A don’t need anyone to explain it to you. are,announced Every Day is not a comedy. It’s a story appreciate the cooperation that Gov. Perdue providthat (name of company), a (type global economy.” isn’t long at all. I read it in a single sitting, teacher wouldn’t assign this book with the In other words, there is no reason for of unrequited love. It does not deny its ed to us during the transition, and the jobs announceof company), will expand (or locate) its faNorth Carolina continues to have a grownups responsibilities that it’s a Great Gov. Book (though quite professor in the reading of idea premise the (location). end. ment form though was a big surprise.with The form is nearly 30 cilityat in The company aplans to to intervene top-ranked business climate. Through may have to divide it into several reading possibly it is); what the teacher would say this book. There is nothing for a teacher Even though an unexpected option years old, however, so the governor may wish to create _____ jobs and invest $_________ ________’s JobsNOW initiative, the state sessions. is, “I think this is a good story about things to add. is opened for A and Rhiannon, they are update the template so it reflects the job announcemillion over the next _________ years. The works aggressively to create jobs, train and CJ ments of the 21st century,” he said. project was made possible in part by a retrain its work force, and lay the founda(Continued By B.s. aRtiste from previous page) Corporate Welfare Correspondent have a chance, most days, of working things
Making governors look good for more than 20 years
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Thursday, February 14, 2013
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
(Continued from page 8) argument didn’t withstand scrutiny, because the city has wiped out the names of many streets given to High Point University during its current wave of expansion. He said, “Nobody said a word.” Kivett Drive was named for the farm and family of William Larkin Kivett (18641915), whose farm was once at the end of the road. In 1992, a proposal to name part of Kivett Drive for King was killed after objections from Kivett’s descendents. Davis said he would support renaming Kivett Drive if a majority of the property owners along the street say they want it and don’t mind the cost of changing their addresses. That’s highly unlikely to
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Thursday, February 14, 2013
happen. There are two ways to rename a street in High Point. Citizens can petition for a name change if two-thirds of the property owners on a street approve, or the City Council or the High Point Planning and Zoning Commission can propose the change, in which case the two-thirds approval by owners doesn’t apply. Sims is trying to get a City Council vote, but the body with the authority to rename streets is the Planning and Zoning Commission. She has a good chance of getting the commission to rename the street if she can get a favorable City Council vote. Several councilmembers suggested other options for memorializing King. Smothers
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suggested renaming city hall for him. “It doesn’t have a name,” Smothers said. “All it is now is city hall.” Mendenhall suggested renaming Market Center Drive. She said, “Market Center is not named after anyone, historically.” She also suggested the High Point Athletic Complex. Ewing asked, “What about the transportation terminal “Thank you very much,” Mendenhall replied, to laughter. “Yes, let’s change that name.” The space-age bus-and-cab terminal on Commerce Street is now named for Mendenhall. Sims said, if a petition by 67 percent of the property owners on Kivett Drive
is needed, so be it. She said, “I’m not budging on that.” That seems to paint Sims into a corner, if she sticks with that stand. Golden strongly supported Sims. “I actually am sort of shocked at some of the comments that came out last week,” he said. “I really don’t understand some of the opposition to the name change.” Some of the complaints about the name change are based on the cost to businesses of changing their addresses. Golden said that some of the cost arguments were “fabricated,” and that other cities had renamed streets without cost problems. Golden said, “Unless you bought more than a year of stationery, there’s going to be no cost.”
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Thursday, February 14, 2013
Kirkwood (Continued from page 1) bottom fell out of the housing market in 2008. It’s the same reason the city has a new Land Development Ordinance (LDO) that rezoned every piece of property in the city. And the same reason the city staff developed and tried to push through a Downtown Design and Compatibility Manual. For the past five years developers have been eking out a living – building a few houses, doing some remodeling, finishing up projects that were halted midway through – but property is not being rezoned for development like it was. The planning department has really been pushing the Kirkwood NCO. When in 2012 the proposal was defeated 8 to 0, the
staff got right back to work on modifying the standards and district, holding more public hearings and more meetings with the neighborhood association. After another year of work the Zoning Commission rightly assessed the proposal as making no sense from any angle. According to the figures that the city used, which are themselves highly suspect for a number of reasons, the petition to increase the zoning regulations with a NCO in the 186 acre area that they call “Greater Kirkwood” was signed by 53 percent of the property owners. This is the same petition that was used in 2012, but there have been huge changes made to the area and the zoning conditions have been revised. The city decided that it was OK for the
The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
home on Princess Ann Street was in Greater Kirkwood. However, this year the powers who make these determinations decided that the first block north of Cornwallis of the following streets – Princess Ann Street, Lafayette Avenue, Kirkpatrick Place, Colonial Avenue and Medford Lane – were not in Greater Kirkwood anymore. In 2012, Marc Isaacson, who is a real estate attorney and lives on Princess Ann Street, organized the opposition. The planning department didn’t want to get horsewhipped by Isaacson again and cut out the blocks that were zoned R-3. But that makes the map even more ludicrous than it was when it stretched from Lawndale to Medford Lane. Now the (Continued on on next page))
city to change the area and make major changes to the zoning conditions but use the petition from the old area, which was signed by people who were told that the old conditions would apply as well as the old boundaries. Even with all of that sleight of hand, that 53 percent stuck in the craw of the zoning commissioners. As noted by Zoning Commissioner Rick Pinto, it is akin to your neighbor rezoning your property. If everyone in the neighborhood except one or two people think it’s a good idea then maybe it should be done, but if the neighborhood is evenly split, how can you say that the 53 percent gets to rezone the property of the 47 percent. In the spirit of full disclosure, in 2012 our
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The Rhinoceros Times Greensboro
Revolt (Continued from page 8) councilmember to question Sims having quietly dispatched the committee system. At the Dec. 6 meeting, Sims killed the committee system in a vote to approve the ordinance establishing the City Council’s meeting schedule. Sims merely proposed a meeting schedule that did not include meetings of High Point’s traditional committees. Some of the new councilmembers may not even have realized they were voting to abolish the committee system. Some may not even have known it existed. If so, they did by Saturday. New Ward 5 Councilmember Jim Davis was one of the most vocal critics of the vanishing-committee trick. He didn’t take kindly to Sims’ statement that, “As a new councilmember, you need to be exposed to all things to bring you up to speed, in my opinion.” That was Sims’ rationale for replacing for the old committee system. “You’ve been on council,” Davis said. “You’ve had the opportunity to be on those committees to learn those leadership skills. With this new system, you’re taking that away from us.” Davis said that former High Point Mayor and new Ward 3 Councilmember Judy Mendenhall also opposes scrapping the committee system – although she did not say so at the retreat. Davis said he has voted on issues that he thought needed more discussion. He said, “I feel like we’re breezing through a lot of things, and we’re not getting the answers we need.” Davis decided the committee issue needed more thought, and made a motion to table it. Wagner, who attended by speakerphone, seconded the motion. That created a perfect opportunity to send the committee issue to committee – only there weren’t any anymore – just the City Council, which would have to reargue it on another day. “I’d just like to know who we’re tabling it to,” as Smothers put it. “I’m going to be against it if we’re just going to put it off.” The City Council voted down the motion to table the issue – after Sims had to shout, “We’re in the middle of voting!” twice to still the babble of arguing voices. A motion to create another Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesdays – theoretically to give the City Council more time for debate – passed on a 5-to-4 vote. Davis said, “I want to make a substitute motion.” Sims said, “You can’t, now that it’s passed.” Smothers said, “You can make another motion.” That’s one good argument for committees: they give councilmembers a chance to learn parliamentary procedure before they have to run City Council meetings. Davis asked what the City Council would do at the Tuesday meeting that it wasn’t theoretically already doing in the Thursday meeting. High Point City Manager Strib Boynton
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said that, in practice, the Tuesday meetings would replace the Thursday meetings, which would be canceled. So the only result of the heated debate was to cram the City Council’s work into the first two days of the week. That Sims had a revolt on her hands so soon over the committee system was surprising. That war broke out over the issue of High Point’s City Council election system was expected. High Point now holds City Council elections on even-numbered years, unlike other North Carolina cities, and has nonpartisan elections with no primaries, meaning councilmembers, including the mayor, can be elected with only a plurality of votes. Councilmembers serve concurrent two-year terms. Sims owes her election at least partly to the no-primary system. She went into the November 2012 election running against two white, Republican candidates – Councilmember Chris Whitley and developer Coy Williard – and they split the white Republican vote, leaving Sims, a black Democrat, with a clear path to the mayor’s chair with a plurality but nowhere near a majority of the vote. Sims, formerly the Ward 1 representative to the City Council, got 33 percent of the vote, beating Williard’s 27 percent and Whitley’s 18 percent. It was a solid win, but far from a strong mandate. A majority of those voting, 67 percent, voted against Sims. If there had only been two candidates for mayor, Sims would have had a harder time getting elected. So it’s unsurprising that Sims has said she won’t make restoring City Council primaries a priority. She has also said she doesn’t support moving City Council races back to odd-numbered years, which the Guilford County Board of Elections says is necessary to have the fall primaries High Point would want. The Board of Elections doesn’t have time to process municipal absentee ballots for High Point on even-numbered years. Sims argued that elections on even-numbered years has increased voting for City Council seats. Instead, Sims made her election-tinkering priority changing City Council terms from two years to four years. That debate, too, went disastrously for Sims at the retreat, although she didn’t take an explicit position there. A majority of the councilmembers told her their constituents want primaries back, and no four-year terms – the opposite of what Sims wants. “I think it’s pretty cut and dried,” said At-large Councilmember Britt Moore. “From the information I’m getting back, people want to see some kind of primary or runoff. And people want to see two-year terms.” Mendenhall agreed. She said, “That’s what I have heard concerns about more than anything else.” Sims grilled the councilmembers about how many people they had heard favor primaries and two-year terms. Davis said he had 19 calls in a week. Mendenhall
claimed that many of 50 to 60 people at a Kiwanis Club meeting asked her to help reinstate a primary. Smothers said many voters didn’t understand the consequences of eliminating primaries until they saw the chock-full general election ballot. “I think it went undetected, for lack of a better word,” she said. “I think we need a primary.” Sims, like some of the other councilmembers, called for public input. She said, in a jab at Mendenhall, “I don’t believe that 50 to 60 people need to drive the train.” She also said that people who don’t like the current system are controlling the debate. She said, “That’s troubling to
me.” Only Ward 1 Councilmember Jeff Golden said he has heard no calls for a primary, and that, when asked, his constituents say they don’t want to pay for two elections. “My phone hasn’t rang one single time,” he said. The City Council voted to put the question of what, if anything, should be changed in the electoral system out for public comment, then to hold a public hearing. Boynton said that hearing will probably be at the City Council’s March 4 meeting. He said, “We would probably anticipate a large number of people, so we will probably have to thin the agenda.”
Kirkwood (Continued from previous page) neighborhood according to the planning department doesn’t include the houses on Princess Ann or Lafayette, but does include the houses facing Cornwallis along those blocks. So you have according to the map, a neighborhood one lot wide along Cornwallis that skips a block and joins up with traditional Kirkwood. Only a seasoned bureaucrat could come up with such a silly map. This is supposed to be about a neighborhood. According to the map the people who live on the north side of Cornwallis are not in the same neighborhood as the people who live adjacent to them on Princess Ann or Lafayette, but they are in the same neighborhood with people who live seven blocks away on Colonial. So there are definite boundary problems. The tree preservation part of the ordinance would likely have the opposite effect. The ordinance basically requires someone building a new home to preserve 60 percent of the trees in the front yard, but a homeowner can clear his own lot at any time as long as he is not building a new home. What any sensible contractor would do would be to have the homeowner cut down the trees before he bought the lot or simply cut down as many trees as he wanted before getting a building permit. It would encourage contractors to cut down any tree that they thought might be in the way before getting started. Many of those who spoke in favor of the NCO talked about preserving the trees on Lawndale Drive. If that is the purpose of the NCO then they should cut it down to a couple of acres instead of 186 acres and see if they could get that passed. But it doesn’t appear the present ordinance would do much to preserve trees on Lawndale. One of the aspects of this that makes it so insidious is that even if you accept the 53 percent petition signers as a good number, the neighborhood is pretty evenly divided on this issue. Yet the city spent hundreds of man-hours and thousands of dollars helping those in favor of the NCO. Never
once did the city have a meeting for those opposed. Not once did the city send out a flyer giving reasons why the NCO was not a good idea. This was really a city project that had neighbors battling against neighbors. Is that what our city government is supposed to do? Zoning Commissioner Janet Mazzurco asked if the city staff had gone door to door in the neighborhood to try and drum up support. Planning Department Zoning Administrator Mike Kirkman said that was not true. He said they didn’t go door to door, but they did prepare the materials for those who did go door to door. Pinto said, “My thoughts are a property owner should be given a fair amount of latitude on what they can do with their own property.” He said in this case other property owners were forcing restrictions on some property owners who didn’t want them. Zoning Commissioner Russ Parmele said, “It seems to me to be very restrictive and very presumptive.” He noted that this overlay could not be changed except by going back through this process and, for all intents and purposes, really was “forever,” as one of the opponents had said. He said he just didn’t see how this was going to make the community better, not necessarily today but in 10 years or 20 years. Zoning Commissioner Paul Gilmer said, “I’m not in favor of supporting the overlay. We need to be a little more business friendly.” He also said what everybody knows: Sooner or later Lawndale is going to change. Several of the commissioners said that 53 percent was simply not enough to rezone the neighborhood. Zoning Commission Chair Mary Skenes went over some figures about the number of parcels near Lawndale that were not owner occupied. The Greater Kirkwood NCO is scheduled to go before the Greensboro City Council in March with a recommendation from the Zoning Commission that it be denied.
Savings (Continued from page 4) grumbling over the lack of savings, he told the board that running parks was always going to be a money losing endeavor. “We’re not going to break even running parks,” Halford said. “That’s how it was sold to us,” Commissioner Bill Bencini said. Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Linda Shaw also said the promised savings were nowhere to be found. “We were told it would save money,” Shaw said. The move for the county to begin operating the parks was part of the budget that passed unanimously last June. However, it passed only after former Commissioner Billy Yow added an amendment that instructed staff to come back to the board with specific details of how the supposed savings would come about. Staff did make a presentation on parks to the commissioners last August; however, several commissioners said at the time that it didn’t come close to being the detailed report they had asked for. On Jan. 1, the transfer took place and the county hired the 30 workers who had been employed by Greensboro, Gibsonville, Burlington and Jamestown. At the Feb. 7 work session, Henning said the takeover of the parks was a “knee jerk decision” by the previous board. Henning said that, even if the commissioners wanted to go back to outsourcing park maintenance and operations, the logistics and politics of the situation made that difficult if not impossible.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
“It’s hard to go back,” Henning said. Commissioner Ray Trapp said the cities and towns wouldn’t take over operation of the parks even if the commissioners decided that’s what they wanted. “I can guarantee you they’ll say no,” Trapp said. “I can tell you that.” Henning added, “What does that tell you?” Shaw asked, “Who’s going to run them, if we don’t and the city won’t do it?” At the meeting, Commissioner Jeff Phillips said staff has talked about savings, but now it has plans for that money. “Now we’re pretty much allocating it back,” Phillips said. “I’ve yet to see the real savings.” Phillips pointed out that staff was in the process of hiring a parks director and there were obviously other new costs coming as well. “It is what it is,” Phillips said. At the Feb. 7 meeting, Shaw said the commissioners would have the coming year to evaluate the situation. “We need to ask: Is it really saving us money? Are we better off going back to the city?” Shaw said. Several commissioners and other county staff have said the county has no option except to continue running the parks until at least Jan. 1, 2014. Commissioner Kay Cashion, who apparently was misguided on the nature of the conversation, seemed alarmed by the discussion. “Is the question if we are going to close the parks and sell the land?” Cashion asked.
Several commissioners said that wasn’t an option.Shaw said the board would address the parks issue at future meetings. The day after the work session, Bencini also said he is disappointed, if not surprised, by what he’s now hearing. All along, Bencini has expressed a great deal of skepticism over claims that the county would save money by running the parks – though, like all the commissioners on the board last summer, Bencini did vote for the budget that included the parks takeover in it. “The argument favoring expansion of Guilford parks and recreation into
Beep (Continued from page 14) the people that do not use it should have to pay for it. We’re going to be taxed enough for that $20 million. They should have thought about all that before. I hope that they know that there’s no parking. There are a lot of handicapped people in this town. How are they going to get there? They hadn’t thought about it. They don’t think any further than their nose, if that far. But I’m not going to be using the performing arts center. And I don’t want to have to pay for it. Somebody has got some screws loose and it’s all of the councilmembers, especially Robbie Perkins. %%% Well, let me get this straight. First, we have a bond referendum to raise taxes to pay for a new jail that now is completed and
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a full-blown department was based on efficiency,” Bencini wrote in an email. “That argument will disappear quickly as deferred maintenance and additional programming expenditures mount.” He said this week that he can already feel staff pushing for “a big expansive program” when it comes to the parks. Bencini said advocates of expanding parks services will cite quality of life as the rationale for pushing forward with increases for the “non-mandated program” – even though it comes at a time, he said, when the county is having trouble just paying for those services that are mandated.
half empty because the judges, magistrates are letting everybody go. Now the few inmates that are in jail are getting killed, and now the county is paying their family settlements, which means our tax is going to go up again. But, yet, The Rhino Times writes the article that is no way unfavorable to BJ Barnes. I mean it just doesn’t make any sense. %%% Worried. I’m sure a gala event was held for Brenda Jones Fox, and I’m sure it’s costing us big time. It was, of course, probably held in secret, and probably at Steve Arnold’s house. Much of what she did was, or ought to be, criminal. So, who is responsible for bringing people such as her to trial? Thank you. %%%
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If State of the Union speeches by President Barack Hussein Obama get any more mundane in this term, in 2014 Vice President Joe Biden will make a phone call and Speaker of the House John Boehner will fall dead asleep. When he launched into the second half of this one Obama himself looked completely bored. Biden fidgeted all through the speech like a little kid who has been told to sit in the corner. He took his glasses out. He put them back. He took them out and put them in his mouth. He tried to clap with glasses in one hand and that didn’t work. At one point he took a pen and paper out of his pocket and wrote something down. Boehner just sat there with that hangdog expression. It looked like Boehner clapped a few times just because he was bored and maybe his hands were falling asleep. Obama used to be able to give an emotional speech. I have never been a fan of his speaking style. His cadence drives me a little nuts. He read this one like he read it for the first time on the drive over from the White House. He got a little choked up at the point in the speech where it must have said: (GET A LITTLE CHOKED UP HERE). But he didn’t even try to pretend that he really cared. He rushed through the special visitors like it was as distasteful to him as to people who think that politics should be more than just stagecraft. Obama is a one trick pony. His trick is more federal government. But more government means more federal spending. Take a look at education before the federal government got so involved and see if you can make any argument that more federal spending will do anything other than put this country into more debt and make our schools worse. In 2009 when Obama said the stimulus money was going to be spent on “shovel ready” projects, and that was going to turn the economy around, he turned out to be wrong on both counts. Obama found out that there is no such thing as a shovel-ready project, which is something that someone who had been a governor, mayor or even a city councilmember or business owner would know. But Obama was never one of those things and evidently didn’t know. Now he is going to stimulate the economy by fixing bridges. If the past is any indication of what is actually going to happen, a lot of government agencies will get big piles of money. The economy in the private sector may be bad, but in government circles its about to get a whole lot better. Then, if there is actual work that needs to be done, the government types will hire some consultants. They have to hire consultants to do actual work. AND The consultants will tell them that you can’t just go out and build a bridge; it takes years of design and planning. It takes the government months to design a sidewalk. Imagine how long it will take to design a new bridge. So this will stimulate the economy the same way the stimulus money did: It will
Thursday, February 14, 2013
keep government employees working. It will give jobs to government consultants and, who knows, in a few years when they are ready to start work, a construction firm may get a few million. Since the bridges will be built with federal money, which local jurisdictions consider free, they will be more expensive than anyone can imagine. In Greensboro we have a $20 million bus repair garage because the federal government paid for it.
,,, If you think the problem with the country right now is that the federal government is not spending enough money then you probably loved Obama’s speech, because he promised to spend more on everything. He also claimed to have cut the deficit. Only in Washington can a president add over $1 trillion a year to the deficit and claim that it has been cut.
,,, Sen. Marco Rubio’s Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union was the best response I’ve ever heard. The response is an impossible speech to give. The president has just been in a room full of the most powerful people in the country with all the applause, energy and group charisma. The response is given from an empty room facing a camera. Rubio made the Republican case in 15 minutes far better than Mitt Romney did in his entire campaign. Rubio explained in understandable terms that the nation’s greatness doesn’t come from the government but from the people. And that the nation’s wealth doesn’t come from the government but from private enterprise being allowed to operate free from excessive government regulations. He made the point, which cannot be made often enough, that the financial crisis created by the collapse of the housing market was caused by government policies. But the best part of the speech was when he reached off camera to get a drink of water and never took his eyes off the camera. Rubio certainly looks like he is in line for a run in 2016, but a lot can happen in four years.
,,, We know what kind of coverage of the North Carolina General Assembly we’re going to get from the News & Record. Last week state Rep. Marcus Brandon was on the front page of the N&R two days in a row. At least they spelled his name right and Brandon is a likable guy, but Brandon is a Democrat. And despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth at the N&R, the Democrats are the minority party in Raleigh, which means writing about bills Brandon is introducing is writing about bills that won’t pass. Hundreds of bills will be introduced that don’t have a chance of passing and the N&R can write about them every day, but wouldn’t news about bills
that are going to pass be more pertinent? On Sunday, the N&R evidently figured that Brandon wasn’t enough, so they wrote about a bill that Brandon and fellow Democratic Rep. Pricey Harrison were supporting. It’s incredible that they can’t manage to write about some of the work that President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger is doing since his district includes a large chunk of Greensboro. Or how about a few articles about what Republican Reps. John Blust, Jon Hardister and John Faircloth and Sen. Trudy Wade are working on? What they support has a great chance of passing. Berger is one of the three most powerful men in Raleigh and he’s in our legislative delegation. But it appears that the N&R will continue to report on what the Democrats are doing. It made some sense to do that when the Democrats were in the majority. But now that the Democrats, who the N&R loves, are in the minority, reporting on them is ignoring the work of the legislature, which is being done by Republicans.
,,, First, Obama talked about finding out about the attack in Benghazi, Libya, during the night. But since 5 p.m. is not considered night in this part of the world, the story had to be revised. According to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, Obama found out that an American compound in Benghazi, with the US ambassador in residence, was under a fierce attack by a well-organized terrorist force, and Obama wasn’t even interested enough to say, “Keep me updated.” According to Panetta and Dempsey, they didn’t keep Obama updated nor did they stay in touch through the night with anyone at the White House. Evidently the powers-that-be decided that for Obama not to have known what was going on in Benghazi was a better defense than knowing what was going on and doing nothing. It somehow makes sense because Obama had Panetta and Dempsey to do nothing for him. Based on the testimony these two gave to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I wouldn’t hire them to run a lemonade stand because I don’t think they are capable of making a decision. Sen. Lindsey Graham finally got it out of them that during the seven hours of the attack on the American compound in Benghazi they did not move one ship, plane, helicopter, hummer, tank or individual soldier toward Benghazi to help the Americans under attack. It was noted that they didn’t know how long the attack would last and that it could have latest for days, but no military assets of any kind were sent to help. They said it was over before they could respond, but the attack lasted seven hours. I did hear the general say that they didn’t send jet fighters that were available because that wasn’t the best or the right asset to use
By John Hammer in that situation. The fact that we have people who are generals with that attitude is frightening. Using the right or the best asset is ideal, but the world is rarely ideal. I am not using the best asset to type this story and, once it is done, I will not use the best asset to send it to the printer or to print it. Once it is printed we won’t use the best asset to deliver wherever you picked it up. In every case we used what we had available, and that is life. If the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is so dense that he thinks you have to use the best possible asset then our problems are far more serious than having four men killed in Libya. But, of course, the general was doing what he has done for the past 30 years – following orders. He was repeating the lines that he was told to repeat. You don’t get to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by stepping out of line, even a little. When the commander in chief tells you to say something really stupid, you say it because he is the commander in chief. At least I hope that is the story because otherwise the country is in horrible shape. But wouldn’t it be a better world if Panetta and Dempsey, who cannot possibly be as inept as they appeared to be when testifying before the Senate, actually went to Capitol Hill and told the truth? It isn’t going to happen in this administration, but it could happen. Another excuse that Panetta and Dempsey gave was that they couldn’t send any military aid because they didn’t know exactly what was happening on the ground. Once again, you never know exactly what is happening. You take all the information you have, make your best assessment and act. It’s true in life as well as in the military. You can spend all your time collecting information and not making a decision or you can get all the available information at any given moment and make a decision. According to Panetta and Dempsey they were incapable of sending aid until they knew exactly what was happening. It is also shocking that although it was a State Department compound under attack, neither Panetta nor Dempsey ever spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about what was happening. You would think that there would have been a lot of communication and that Clinton would have been demanding that the military do something to save her people. But she did not contact Panetta or Dempsey and they did not contact her. It would appear from their testimony that neither the president nor the secretary of state cared much about what happened in Benghazi, or how many Americans were killed. The testimony of Panetta and Dempsey can do nothing but embolden terrorists because now they know that if they find a lightly defended American compound, the powerful American military is too bogged down in bureaucracy to get help there in less than a couple of days.
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