City, county officials face criticism in growing housing crisis â€” Part 2 GUILFORD EDUCATION
LESSONS OF MOB RULE
ROAN MOUNTAIN CHOIR P. 14
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There are three Black women on the city council— can they make decisions in the interest of other Black women?” Hate Out of Winston’s Miranda Jones asked at a protest in front of the Forsyth County Government Center on Dec. 11, 2020. “We aren’t asking for something that comes out of Utopia land; those are do-able, so why aren’t they doing them— if they are concerned about poverty?” Jones added. “I just want to know, what is the hold-up, what are they waiting on?” The protest was held on the last day for in-person EVICTION COURT HEARINGS before North Carolina’s Chief Justice Cheri Beasley closed the courts due to the state’s rapid rise in COVID-positive cases. Many have reopened last week under the newly-elected Chief Justice Paul Newby.
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On Jan. 12, the GUILFORD COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION voted 5 to 4 to delay middle and high school students’ return to in-person classes for at least three weeks. The decision was a reversal of the board’s previously announced intention of returning those students to classrooms this month. 5 “I am not a fact-checker,” responded Guilford County Board of Education representative ANITA SHARPE when YES! Weekly asked if she still believed a widelydebunked claim she shared on Facebook. On Jan. 10, Sharpe, a Republican representing District 2, publicly posted a YouTube video in which Thomas McInerney, a retired U.S. Airforce Lieutenant General, and former FOX News analyst who has advised the Trump campaign, made multiple false claims about the siege of the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. 6 Donald Trump stirred up a bunch of angry White people, asked them to storm the CAPITOL BUILDING, and disrupt a Constitutional proceeding. It was a sickening
sight to see as these Trump sycophants breached a secure area, yelling and creating chaos. No, I’m not describing the siege on January 6. I’m referring to the mob scene from October 2019, when scores of Republican Congressmen pushed their way into a closed hearing, in which testimony was being taken in the first impeachment of their maniac President. 7 Given that THE CROODS (2013) grossed nearly $600 million worldwide and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, it was only a matter of time before this “modern, stone-age family” would eventually return in a follow-up. 14 ROAN MOUNTAIN CHOIR released their new single, “Children of the Quarn,” with an accompanying video on Jan. 20. “Most of us have been active musicians for the majority of our lives,” said bassist Tim Coleman of their history. “This was a project we’d talked about doing for years, and it fell into place.”
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ATTORNEYS SEEK RELEASE OF GPD VIDEOS SHOWING PREVIOUS USE OF RESTRAINT THAT KILLED MARCUS SMITH BY IAN MCDOWELL
On January 15, attorneys representing Marcus Deon Smith’s family filed a motion to compel the City of Greensboro to release Body-Worn Camera (BWC) videos of prior instances of Greensboro police officers using the type of restraint device that killed Smith. The brief accompanying that motion states that several officers named as defendants in the Smith family’s federal civil rights lawsuit participated in numerous prior incidents in which the controversial device was used, including one that occurred hours before Smith’s death. As previously reported, Smith died after being hogtied by eight GPD officers who he approached and asked to take him to the hospital, an incident that occurred on Church Street in downtown Greensboro on Sept 8, 2018. YES! Weekly’s investigation revealed that the RIPP Hobble device used on Smith is typically packaged with instructions to “NEVER HOG-TIE” (all caps in original warning) a prisoner with it. Despite this warning, as seen in the body cam videos of Smith’s death that the city released on Nov. 30, 2018, the officers threw Smith to the pavement, held him there facedown, attached the RIPP Hobble to his ankles, forcibly raised his feet behind his back at a greater than a 90-degree angle, and attached his ankles to handcuffs, while Smith cried out in distress. Smith was left in the facedown position until the officers noticed that he had gone limp, unresponsive, and appeared to have stopped breathing. The EMTs on the scene did
not attempt CPR until several minutes later, after Smith was loaded onto their ambulance. The state medical examiner ruled Smith’s death a homicide, but the officers were never disciplined. The Federal Civil Rights lawsuit filed in April 2019 by Greensboro attorney Graham Holt and Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office of Chicago named as defendants the City of Greensboro; GPD officers Justin Payne, Robert Duncan, Michael Montalvo, Alfred Lewis, Christopher Bradshaw, Lee Andrews, Douglas Strader, and Jordan Bailey; and Guilford County EMS paramedics Ashley Abbott and Dylan Alling. As previously reported, Strader was fired last October for a later incident of excessive force, Andrews resigned, and Montalvo retired. The other five officers are still on the force. The motion to compel the release of other BWC videos depicting prior uses of the restraint is pursuant to the Plaintiff’s Monell claim against the City of Greensboro. The Monell doctrine states that a plaintiff can sue an officer’s municipal employer for policies or practices that precipitate unconstitutional misconduct by its officers. The Motion to Compel alleges that the City of Greensboro: . . . failed to adequately train its officers to use hogtie restraints, including that Greensboro failed to train its officers, pursuant to its own regulations, as to whether, under what circumstances, and/ or how to use hogtie restraint devices to bind a subject’s hands and feet together behind his back, particularly when in a
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Marcus Deon Smith prone position; and in the dangers of use of hogtie restraint devices, especially for people whose physical and mental state make them particularly vulnerable to the lethal effects of hogtie restraint devices. It also states “prior incidents in which GPD officers applied the RIPP Hobble device to subjects in a dangerous or unreasonable manner are clearly relevant to show notice and deliberate indifference as part of Plaintiffs’ failure to train Monell claim.” This motion contains evidence of how often GPD officers used the device,
which the department banned after Marcus Smith’s death, stating that in response to the Plaintiffs’ Request for Production, the City produced “thousands of police reports involving over 150 instances” of the device being used on individuals in GPD custody. It states that such reports are “of limited value,” as “none of them describe the manner in which the RIPP Hobble was applied (i.e., whether the subject was prone on the ground; whether the RIPP Hobble was used to link the subject’s handcuffed hands to their feet; and whether the subject’s legs were bent beyond a 90-degree angle toward their body).” It also states: The fact that GPD did not require its officers to document the manner in which they applied the RIPP Hobble device to restrain subjects in their custody is, in and of itself, evidence of deliberate indifference. Nevertheless, despite GPD’s deficiencies in this regard, evidence of the manner in which the RIPP Hobble was applied in prior incidents does exist in the form of the body-worn camera (BWC) footage from the officers who were involved in those incidents. Since the police reports do not describe how the RIPP Hobble was applied, the only way for Plaintiffs to discover this evidence is by obtaining this BWC footage. ! IAN MCDOWELL is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed of.
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Guilford middle/high school students won’t return for at least three weeks: Board chair wishes it were longer
n Jan. 12, the Guilford County Board of Education voted 5 to 4 to delay middle and high school students’ return to in-person classes for at least Ian McDowell three weeks. The decision was a reversal of the board’s previContributor ously announced intention of returning those students to classrooms this month. “It was a very difficult decision about our students,” said board chair Deena HayesGreene in closing remarks after the vote. After stating that the board “will continue to make the best efforts to strengthen our remote, the virtual and the in-person learning,” Hayes-Greene expressed her belief that “at this point, students shouldn’t
come back to school for the rest of the year, because this is moving so fast and so unpredictable.” That last statement was of personal opinion, rather than what the board voted to do. The successful motion introduced by Vice-Chair Winston McGregor stated: I move that we withhold any additional in-person instruction for middle and high school students for at least three weeks except at Learning Hub, and direct staff to present the board of education with a report satisfactory to the board regarding the availability of testing and report of completed and scheduled vaccinations. The other four Yes votes were HayesGreene, District 1’s T. Dianne BellamySmall, District 5’s Deborah Napper, and District 7’s Bettye T. Jenkins. Voting against were District 2’s Anita Sharpe, District 4’s Linda Welborn, District 6’s Khem Irby, and District 3’s Pat Tillman. Before voting on McGregor’s motion, the board considered a substitute one by Tillman that would have returned middle
school students to classrooms on Jan. 26 and high school students on Feb. 2. Tillman’s motion, seconded by Anita Sharpe, failed 3 to 6. Linda Welborn voted down both motions, stating that she supported returning high school seniors to classrooms to prepare for graduation but that Tillman’s substitute motion was “too fast, too far, and too much.” In her closing remarks, Anita Sharpe said the job of board members “is to support the education of our students” and pointed out that those students have been out of school for ten months. “We have yet to figure out how to return them to school safely, no matter how hard we have worked. The sad part of all of this is that our children probably will never recover no matter how much remediation we do. They will never recover educationally.” Deena Hayes-Greene called the board’s decision “very difficult,” but said, “I’m just as concerned about our students that were in school that we have failed for decades, that did not recover from what they did not receive, that they were entitled to in the district, that we just accepted as the norm because it’s always been that way.” She also spoke of the Capitol siege. “I just have to say that my heart and my head are still reeling from the events in this nation last Wednesday. As we sat and watched this violent attack on the United States Capitol, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and the violent way that his life
ended. I hope we take this very seriously. I think this is one of the clearest examples of where we stand as a nation, and if we don’t do something drastic, we are watching for another tipping point. So, I am sad, and I am hurt deeply over the loss of Officer Sicknick, the injuries that other people sustained, and the fear that was put into people’s hearts around this.” In a Thursday phone conversation, Hayes-Greene gave YES! Weekly the following statement about her fear that schools might need to remain closed for the rest of the year. “I believe the science, I believe the doctors, the pediatric, and infectious disease experts. I believe the Guilford County Public Health Department. I also believe the projections that it will be over-capacity. And I know none of us can say for sure the potential for exposure to families, and that is just a risk that is too big for me right now. My best friend and co-worker’s three-yearold grandson has COVID. So, I believe the people who are advising us and I support our superintendent. I just don’t want to pit all those things against each other. I am working very closely with the district. I am not here to be adversarial; I am here to be part of the district’s efforts to educate children.” ! IAN MCDOWELL is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed of.
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Sharpe Outcry: Community calls for school board member’s resignation “I am not a factchecker,” responded Guilford County Board of Education representative Anita Sharpe when YES! Weekly asked if she still believed a widely-debunked claim she shared on Ian McDowell Facebook. On Jan. 10, Sharpe, a Republican Contributor representing District 2, publicly posted a YouTube video in which Thomas McInerney, a retired U.S. Airforce Lieutenant General, and former FOX News analyst who has advised the Trump campaign, made multiple false claims about the siege of the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. In the video, which was later removed by both YouTube and Facebook, McInerney speaks to a group of eight un-masked people and makes the following statement about Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi: “They’re trying to get him out on the 25th Amendment or to impeach him. Why? Because on Wednesday, they took Pelosi’s laptop. She’s frantic. There were some people in there that were special forces, mixed with Antifa, and they took her laptop, and they have that data.” According to McInerney, the laptop contained compromising information, and that was why Pelosi was pushing to impeach Donald Trump. The claim that U.S. Special Forces seized Pelosi’s laptop has been debunked by PolitiFact and AFP Fact Check, among others. On Jan. 13, U.S. Special Forces Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw told USA TODAY that special forces had nothing to do with the missing laptop. The FBI has stated there is no basis for claims that the MAGA mob was “Antifa.” McInerney, who was fired from FOX News for making false statements about John McCain, has a history of promoting baseless claims, including that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. On Nov. 30, 2020, he called on Donald Trump to suspend habeas corpus, declare martial law, and suspend the Electoral College vote count and the Inauguration. In the video shared by Sharpe, McInerney also claimed that Democrats worked with the Chinese government to create COVID-19. As a result, he said, Trump is using the Capitol insurrection aftermath to pursue justice. The now-deleted video WWW.YESWEEKLY.COM
Anita Sharpe source is unclear, but the earliest known post to YouTube was on Jan. 8 by Ann Vandersteel. She previously promoted the previous version of QAnon, known as Pizzagate. Two days after it first appeared, Anita Sharpe shared it on Facebook. She was widely criticized, both in the comments on her post and by activists in Greensboro. On January 11, Cherizar Crippen, administrator of the Facebook group Black Lives Matter Greensboro, shared Sharpe’s post and commented: “Anita Sharpe is an open supporter of domestic terrorism. Ever wonder why our schools are underserved? Our children criminalized? When we say the WHOLE damn system is guilty as hell, we speak truth to power.” That same day, Rev. Greg Drumwright, pastor at the Citadel of Praise Church & Campus Ministry in Greensboro, publicly shared screenshots of Sharpe’s post with the following comment: “Members of the community call for School Board member Anita Sharpe to resign for promoting this. She actually DOUBLED DOWN ON HER SUPPORT IN THE COMMENTS TOO” This writer then searched for examples of the alleged “doubling-down” but found none. When questioned about this, Sharpe said she was neither aware of nor responsible for the deletion. “I guess Facebook removed it.” When asked about Drumwright’s call to resign, Sharpe tersely dismissed his criticism with “didn’t he lose?” referring to his unsuccessful 2018 campaign run to unseat her as the Board’s District 2 Representative.
“I have first amendment rights unless being elected changes that.” Sharpe echoed this statement in a Jan. 13 Facebook post, in which she wrote: “Question, does being an elected person bring an end to a person’s first amendment rights? Just askin.(sic)” This isn’t the first time Sharpe’s words have landed her in trouble. In the fall of 2017, community leaders from clergy and civil rights groups, including Rev. Laverne Carter and Rev. Cardes Brown, and Guilford County Commissioners Carlvena Foster, Skip Alston, and Carolyn Coleman, called for Sharpe’s resignation. The impetus was a leaked email Sharpe sent to a Guilford County employee, in which Sharpe urged the firing of Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras. In it, Sharpe wrote, “Unfortunately, we have four votes to fire the superintendent but cannot seem to get the 5th vote” and “I encourage you to delete this email on your end, and I intend to delete it on mine. (Against the law for me, but these are extenuating times).” In a later apology for this action, Sharpe stated: “There are not now, nor have there ever been, to my knowledge, four votes to fire
the superintendent.” But rather than explaining why she made a false statement, she then attempted to direct attention to the question of how the email had been leaked. Deena Hayes-Greene, Chair of the Guilford County Schools Board of Education, referred to both the 2017 controversy and this one when YES! Weekly asked her for comment on Sharpe’s actions. “I’m not commenting on board behavior as the chair of the board,” said Hayes-Greene in a Wednesday phone call. “That is something that the board would have to have some discussion about, but I am absolutely disappointed as an elected official.” Hayes-Greene stressed that, while elected officials are indeed protected by the First Amendment, “I think we are simultaneously expected to rise above some of our personal positions as we are considering how we are understood by the public.” She also said that a board position comes with “an enormous amount of accountability and responsibility” and that “there are things that are expected of us, and I expect that of us as board members.” Of the Board’s District 2 representative, Hayes-Greene said, “This Ms. Sharpe is not Ms. Sharpe I started on the school board with back in 2002.” Hayes-Greene stated that, over the years, “Anita has been, I’ll say, prickly, but she has been no-nonsense about things that have been a priority for her and has stuck with that. We know how she is, her background in bookkeeping and finance has shown up in her due diligence around the budget, school construction, and those type of things. And the Anita I knew in 2002 supported the African-American Male Initiative and how we worked that out and the analysis that we presented. As a matter of fact, I had a sign in my yard and supported Anita Sharpe over a Democrat in one of these elections. So, this Anita Sharpe is not the Anita Sharpe that I knew.” Hayes-Greene then referred to the 2017 incident in which Sharpe “engaged one of our employees in a discussion about getting rid of her boss,” adding “if it was just one thing, I would be disappointed, but this pattern of behavior and the demeanor and attitude she brings to meetings is, I think, unfortunate.” ! IAN MCDOWELL is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed of. JANUARY 20-26, 2021
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“The Lessons of Mob Rule”
onald Trump stirred up a bunch of angry White people, asked them to storm the Capitol building, and disrupt a Constitutional proceeding. It was Jim Longworth a sickening sight to see as these Trump sycophants breached Longworth a secure area, yelling at Large and creating chaos. No, I’m not describing the siege on January 6. I’m referring to the mob scene from October 2019, when scores of Republican Congressmen pushed their way into a closed hearing, in which testimony was being taken in the first impeachment of their maniac President. On that day, unhinged Florida representative Matt Gaetz (who had just recently been reprimanded for intimidating a witness) led the charge to disrupt the deposition of Laura Cooper, a Pentagon official who was sharing her knowledge of Trump’s quid pro quo call to the Ukrainian president. Gaetz and others had lied to the Trump base about the hearing, saying Republicans had been denied access to the secured room. Not true. In fact, GOP and Democratic lawmakers alike were questioning Ms. Cooper, and any Republican Congressman not involved in the questioning could have observed the proceedings. But Gaetz and company weren’t going to let facts get in the way of a good story, so they characterized the hearing as a “Soviet-style process”, in which they were denied access. Trump and his enablers lied about one thing or another for the past four years, always for the purpose of inciting their base, while also fleecing that base of hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. In that regard, the white-collar mob scene of 2019 was much like the Whitetrash mob scene of 2021, except for the violence. The 2019 breach should have informed us how easily Trump can snap his fingers and command others to do his bidding. It should have also warned us that a violent siege was not only possible but also probable. In an ironic twist of fate, some of those same Congressmen who once stormed a House hearing room got a taste of their own medicine when they had to flee from a mob that stormed
the Capitol. For the Gaetz clan (including Cruz and Hawley), it was a case of cowards running from the cowards they had helped to incite. In the aftermath of January 6, much has been written about how our Republic has suffered here at home and how our image abroad has been forever damaged. But over the past few days, my thoughts have turned to the children of America and what they must have thought about the images of our Capitol under siege. Dave Anderson, a clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute, told The Washington Post, “We need to assume our kids are internalizing their emotions after learning of the events at the Capitol…it’s affecting them, and making them think about ‘What does this mean about the world we live in?’” Of course, each parent must decide how best to deal with their child’s internalizing, but most experts agree that it’s always better to talk frankly about a disturbing event. Given that our President incited the recent Capitol riot, author Kate Messner suggests discussing stories from history and reminding kids, “what a good leader looks like.” Speaking with CNN.com, Ken Yeager, director of the Stress, Trauma, and Resilience Program at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, said, “There are many teachable moments from this (riot)…and how much you tell the child depends on their age and maturity level.” Meanwhile, after interviewing several educators, the AP’s Michael Melia and Carolyn Thompson, wrote that most high school teachers focused their lessons on the importance of the Capitol riot but also “pushed back against the creeping sense that violence is the inevitable end to political division.” Perhaps, though, Ms. Messner offered the most succinct civics lesson of the week, telling the Post’s Amy Joyce, “We’re raising kids, but we’re also raising citizens and voters and leaders. They need to be well prepared and informed and capable of critical thinking.” In other words, we need to teach our children to know the difference between fact and fiction and right from wrong. Sadly, those simple lessons were never taught to the Capitol insurgents, or to many of our elected officials. ! JIM LONGWORTH is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).
Jurassic lark: Croods, glorious Croods...
iven that The Croods (2013) grossed nearly $600 million worldwide and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, Mark Burger it was only a matter of time before this “modern, stoneContributor age family” would eventually return in a follow-up. It took longer than expected, but the Croods are back in The Croods: A New Age, a bubbly, colorful confection that will undoubtedly please the fans. The new film, which marks the feature debut of director Joel Crawford (who also provides the voice of Guy’s father), occasionally displays the attitude that bigger and louder are funnier, which is not necessarily the case, but it’s zippy enough to entertain the kids, with enough inspired sight gags and flip quips to keep the grown-ups interested. After a brief recap of the first film’s events, the action hits the ground running – and rarely lets up. Nicolas Cage returns to voice the gruff but lovable patriarch Grug, as does Catherine Keener as his faithful wife Ugga, Cloris Leachman as crusty Gran, Emma Stone as feisty daughter Eep, and Clark Duke as son Thunk. Ryan Reynolds, voicing the aforementioned Guy, who was essentially adopted by the Croods in the original film, remains smitten with Eep, sometimes to the displeasure of Grug. The clan’s ongoing search for a safe haven, repeatedly complicated by various encounters with all sorts of wild and weird prehistoric beasts, initially appears successful when they stumble across a hidden oasis surrounded by a giant wall. WWW.YESWEEKLY.COM
Once inside, the Croods encounter another familial clan: The Bettermans, voiced by Peter Dinklage (as father Phil), Leslie Mann (as mother Hope), and Kelly Marie Tran (as daughter Dawn). Guy had known the Bettermans as a child, so it’s a seemingly happy reunion – at first. But it’s not long before there’s trouble in paradise. The Bettermans, as befits their name, tend to look down their noses at the Croods, believing them to be, well, crude – especially when compared to their more “evolved” attitudes and demeanor. Rest assured, this light approach to “social commentary” doesn’t overwhelm or undercut the basic atmosphere of fun and frolic, but it adds a touch of satire. That the Bettermans have constructed a wall around themselves to keep out undesirables has, to say the least, some interesting relevance – a reflection of the real world in its “reel” world. The main themes, such as they are, are fairly predictable: Community, cooperation, and courage. The latter takes precedence when Grug, Guy, and Phil run afoul of a slew of simians known as “the Punch-Monkeys,” and are held captive to provide a sacrifice for the gigantic Spina Mandrilla, the biggest and baddest beast of all. Thus, it falls to the females to band together on a desperate rescue mission. Therefore, there’s even a feminist bent to the proceedings. Bursting with eye-popping effects, The Croods: A New Age doesn’t lack for visual splendor, and it’s interesting to note that the filmmakers had to complete the film at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the end result is seamless. No points for guessing how it all turns out, but further prehistoric jaunts with the Croods – and their new friends, the Bettermans – loom as a likely possibility. ! See MARK BURGER’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2021, Mark Burger.
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[NEWS OF THE WEIRD] THE CONTINUING CRISIS
Two Florida residents, Brian Montalvo Tolentino, 43, of Davenport and Juan BurgosLopez, 39, of Lake Wales, admitted to police they had removed four human skulls from tombs
they had robbed in Mount Dora, WKMGTV reported. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told local media on Jan. 8 that detectives serving a search warrant on Burgos-Lopez’s property found a shed containing a ritualistic shrine and seven skulls the men told authorities they used in the practice of the Palo Mayombe religion. Three of the four graves robbed were of members of the armed forces because, Judd said, Lopez told authorities “the spirit is much stronger
in a hero” and “it can protect you from evil.” Before vandalizing the graves, Judd added, the men drank rum and spit it on the ground, then smoked a cigar and exhaled the smoke “to protect them from the spirits.” DNA on the cigars led authorities to the suspects.
WHEN YOU CARE ENOUGH TO SEND THE VERY BEST
Romney Christopher Ellis, 57, of Indianapolis, was sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison on Jan. 5 by a federal court in Tampa, Florida, after waging a four-year-long campaign to harass and threaten his ex-wife, including at one point sending a package with a dead rat and a black rose to her home, according to court records. Ellis also threatened to decapitate her and set her on fire. Postal inspectors searched Ellis’ home in February, reported the Associated Press, uncovering evidence, and he pleaded guilty in April.
PEOPLE AND THEIR PETS
— The South Korean startup Petpuls Lab has announced it developed an AI dog collar that can help owners discern what emotions their pets are feeling based on how they bark. “This device gives a dog a voice so that humans can understand,” the company’s director of global marketing, Andrew Gil, told Reuters. The collar detects five emotions, and owners can find out through a smartphone app if their pets are happy, relaxed, anxious, angry or sad. Seoul National University tested the device and declared it has a 90% average accuracy rate. The collar sells for $99. — A couple in Sherbrooke, Quebec, were each fined $1,500 on Jan. 9, when police spotted the pair walking outside about an hour after the city’s 8 p.m. curfew, with the husband wearing a leash, CTV News reported. The city’s curfew allows for dog-walking after 8 p.m., but police rejected the couple’s claim they were following the rules. It was the first weekend under new province-wide restrictions imposed by Premier Francois Legault, and officers throughout Quebec handed out more than 750 tickets.
Police in the Japanese community of Funabashi City have arrested Ryusei Takada, 26, for allegedly stealing more than a dozen toilets from houses under construction. The Daily Mail reported the thefts began in October and continued, with local media dubbing the elusive thief the God of Toilets, until Takata flushed himself out by selling a brand-
JANUARY 20-26, 2021
new fixture to a secondhand store in the city. Takada, a construction company office worker, admitted to the thefts and said he did it “to cover my living expenses.”
An armed man wearing camouflage tactical gear approached a 23-yearold worker as she was leaving the Cranbourne West Lost Dogs Home in Melbourne, Australia, about 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 11 and demanded she turn over her cellphone, Detective Senior Sergeant Glen Cruse told the media. Victoria police said the man pointed his gun at the woman, then took her inside the shelter, tied her up and “asked where the cats were before he left the room and didn’t return,” the Daily Star reported. The woman freed herself and called for help; police are still looking for the man, and a motive.
WRONG PLACE, WRONG TIME
Veronica Gutierrez, 36, was arrested in Palm Springs, California, on Jan. 5 after allegedly carjacking an SUV that afternoon in Rosemead, an incident that was complicated by the fact that the car owner’s 84-year-old mother was in the passenger seat at the time, according to authorities. Police Sgt. Richard Lewis said the owner had left the SUV’s motor running with the heater on for her mother when the suspect drove off, eventually letting the mother go in Desert Hot Springs, more than 100 miles away. The East Bay Times reported the mother was unharmed, and Gutierrez was being held on suspicion of kidnapping for carjacking.
The European Food Safety Agency on Jan. 13 approved yellow grubs, aka mealworms, as its first insect “novel food,” to be used whole and dried in curries and as flour to make pastas and breads, Reuters reported. Mealworms are rich in protein, fat and fiber, according to agency food scientist Ermolaos Ververis, and “there is great interest ... in the edible insect sector.” But sociologists point out that “the so-called ‘yuck factor’ (may) make the thought of eating insects repellent to many Europeans,” said consumer researcher Giovanni Sogari of the University of Parma in Italy. “With time and exposure, such attitudes can change,” he added. !
© 2021 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate. Send your weird news items with subject line WEIRD NEWS to WeirdNewsTips@amuniversal.com.
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House of Excuses: City, county officials face criticism in growing housing crisis — Part 2
(*Correction: In the print edition of this series’ Part 1, it was misconstrued that Housing Justice Now members were the only ones collecting eviction data through the court watching Katie Murawski program. Forsyth Court Support was the organization Contributor that organized court watching and recorded the eviction data from court proceedings.) *Editor’s note: In the second part of this two-part series, YES! Weekly spoke with city and county officials to address these criticisms and ask if they intend to follow the policy recommendations set forth by researchers from Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest University, and the progressive think-tank New America in the recently released study called “Displaced in Forsyth.” This article was due to appear in our Dec. 23’s issue; however, it was helddue to limited spacing and a series of new events. With the impending moratorium on evictions lapsing on January 31, 2020, we felt it best to release it.
There are three Black women on the city council— can they make decisions in the interest of other Black women?” Hate Out of Winston’s Miranda Jones asked at a protest in front of the Forsyth County Government Center on Dec. 11, 2020. “We aren’t asking for something that comes out of Utopia land; those are do-able, so why aren’t they doing them— if they are concerned about poverty?” Jones added. “I just want to know, what is the hold-up, what are they waiting on?” The protest was held on the last day for in-person eviction court hearings before North Carolina’s Chief Justice Cheri Beasley closed the courts due to the state’s rapid rise in COVID-positive cases. Many have reopened last week under the newly-elected Chief Justice Paul Newby. “If [city and county officials] are concerned about violent crime, they should be concerned about evictions,” said Wake Forest University professor of sociology and Triad Abolition Project’s Dr. Brittany Battle. “If they think there is no correlaYES! WEEKLY
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tion between evictions and people being unhoused and violent crime— boy, January is going to be crazy.” For months, activists from Hate Out of Winston, Forsyth Court Support, Housing Justice Now, and Triad Abolition Project have criticized the Winston-Salem City Council and Forsyth County Commissioners for their alleged inaction and silence on the matter. Following the Dec. 7 city council meeting, TAP and Hate Out posted pictures on Instagram of some of the members of the city council appearing to be preoccupied during the public comment period, as activists demanded that $78 million in funding for the Winston-Salem Police Department be reallocated to address housing insecurity.
“Councilmember MacIntosh, interestingly enough, had a whole lot to say to the Journal but had nothing to say to us [during the public comments period],” Jones said. According to that article by WinstonSalem Journal writer Wes Young, “the comments directed against City police spending at council meetings come across as ‘having people scream at you,’ MacIntosh said.” “The fact that they get so upset and talk so negatively about activists that are calling for changes that will make people safe, that will keep people housed, that will keep people healthy, fed” is surprising for Battle, especially during a global pandemic. “He is more worried about somebody
yelling than about doing the things that need to be done for the constituents of this city. It is not going to continue to fly; it is going to become politically disadvantageous for them to continue to ignore us,” she added. “If that is the route they want to take, then we will just continue to do the work and continue to find more and more ways to get people educated about what’s going on to get people the information so they can make good decisions on who they vote for and keep in office. Things cannot continue to go the same way they have been going.” The CDC’s moratorium on rent has been extended in North Carolina until the end of the month, and according to the CDC’s website, “When the Order expires, consistent with the applicable landlord-
tenant or real-property laws, a covered person will owe their landlord any unpaid rent and any fees, penalties, or interest as a result of their failure to pay rent or make a timely housing payment during the period of the Order.” Celeste Holcomb of Forsyth Court Support wrote in a December 2020 email that the “overwhelming issue” with the CDC moratorium is that “tenants are required to become quasi-legal experts to assert their right to be covered by the CDC Declaration. Tenets are stuck defending themselves as uninformed lay-people against landlords or property managers and their lawyers, who after many eviction filings are quite familiar with the legal loopholes to the CDC Declaration. The magistrates have no incentive to help tenants through this process and they generally make the process easier on the landlords who they know well because they see them so often.” Holcomb wrote that it’s “immoral” that people in small claims court do not receive legal counsel. “I have been looking at eviction cases every day for the last year, and I still don’t understand the process completely,” Holcomb added. “It is crucial to recognize that the CDC Moratorium is just a halfmeasure and it makes tenant defense far more complicated and even sometimes makes it harder for them to receive rental assistance because organizations think ‘because you aren’t going to be evicted imminently then you don’t need our help with rent.’ There is no historical data that we know of to call upon to see if the declaration helped as a whole, but we do know that many cases have been continued rather than rejected, so there is still a large number of cases looming, and eviction filings are still occurring even with closures.” Holcomb noted that with cases being continued, each time the case comes through the courts, the tenant is responsible for taking off work, getting child care, coming up with gas money and going through other expenses to defend themselves, “while the landlord/property manager, their lawyer, the magistrate, the sheriff, the clerk, all do this as part of their job, so there is no incentive whatsoever for them to try to stop evictions. There’s a huge imbalance of class and power that creates this eviction crisis, and the CDC moratorium does not re-balance this situation in a way that supports tenants.” On top of that, for those in WinstonSalem and Forsyth County that have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the reality is that since March, rent has been accruing for them each month. The amount in unemployment benefits and federal COVwww.yesweekly.com
ID-19 relief assistance will not be enough to make their ends meet, especially since there has been no known local assistance for residents except via programs with local non-profits in the area. “Because rental assistance is always means-tested and takes so many resources to access, I don’t believe Forsyth County would provide enough funds to reach each tenant to shift the outcome of this crisis,” Holcomb wrote. “Forsyth County appears to be doing virtually nothing to support housing security on the community level, but I’d love to see this proven wrong.” Yet, down the interstate, Guilford County’s County Commissioners recently allocated $5 million in County funds for COVID-19 rental and housing assistance. City, County members’ response YES! Weekly spoke with Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts in early December 2020 to discuss the findings of “Displaced in Forsyth,” and address concerns of activists. Watts said that the County does not overstep in programs designed for the City of Winston-Salem because it gets federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “The City of Winston-Salem is about two-thirds of the voters and population in the County,” Watts said. “The rural areas— that are becoming less rural— wouldn’t necessarily participate— the City would take the lead on that. We do other things: health and human services, ambulance service, support the school system, courthouse properties; there is just a different set of county services. The [Displaced in Forsyth] report looked at Forsyth County as the jurisdiction, but the recommendations, some would be counties, and some would be cities.” Watts explained that rural areas tend to have little to no involvement in affordable housing initiatives. “Sometimes those are grant dollars around affordability or the first-time homebuyer asset-building approach, and then there are some community and economic development block grant funds from the state that can be used to renovate and revitalize areas and provide low-income housing,” Watts explained. “In this community, what you have got is the City of Winston, and it’s a large enough community to receive HUD dollars from the federal government, and they play a much more active role in housing initiatives here. The county’s role, which is a pretty small department [of] about five or six people, we do some grant work related to the urgent repair and housing upfits for low and moderate-income [areas]. We have a waiting list piece, but
Displaced in Forsyth policy recommendations Part of New America’s “Displaced in America” study, is a case study called “Displaced in Forsyth,” and was collaborated on by Winston-Salem State University and Wake Forest University. The study offers policy recommendations for county and city officials that help to address and mitigate the growing housing insecurity in the county, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the case study’s policy recommendations is to expand homeownership programs such as Forsyth County’s Housing and Community Development Home Ownership Program, which provides down payment assistance to lowincome families; and North Carolina’s Community Partners Loan Pool, a loan that provides down payments as a deferred second mortgage with no interest rate and is repaid at the end of the loan period or when the house is sold. The case study’s policy recommendations also include adopting forwardthinking development policies, and it posits, “Forsyth County should be more aggressive in buying land for future affordable housing development. Local governments often wait for market-driven redevelopment before addressing issues of affordability and displacement. This hesitation to purchase land is costly in the long term, as revitalized areas often have higher land costs. In downtown Winston-Salem, for example, land used to be cheaper.” Another policy recommendation is to promote affordable housing development as a catalyst for growth, which states that the county should “work to promote the development of mixed-income neighborhoods by supporting projects that rehabilitate blighted communities, similar to the Oneida Mills Loft Project in Graham, North Carolina. The affordable housing project was a catalyst for market-rate development in the area. Oneida Mills, now up and running, and the creation of new housing developments has spurred competition for tenants and incentivized other property managers to improve their offerings via lower rent or better housing. The last policy recommendation is to create neighborhoods of opportunity, and the study states that communities of opportunity promote social mobility. “Often, affordable housing is situated in neighborhoods that lack access to grocery stores, retail stores, and professional opportunities, making nutrition and employment difficult. Local decision-makers should work to improve the opportunities within these neighborhoods by expanding public transit to link these neighborhoods with grocery stores and employment opportunities. If expanding access to transportation is infeasible, bolstering community farmer’s markets and local employment should be considered. Finding creative solutions to improve the quality of life across the city benefits everyone, as no neighborhood should be left behind.”
we will do some repairs to homes; there is a grant program for that...The other thing that we do is work with a first-time homebuyer program that was originally grant funded— grant funds have been in and out of it from time to time— and we have kept the program going, and it really works with the nonprofit community to do financial education and awareness for first-time homebuyers. Then, there’s through that program, people who complete it get payment assistance to buy a home, and we’ve done a ton of those.” Watts noted that the other role of Forsyth County in affordable housing initiatives is that of a convener with the City of Winston-Salem and other partners for grant funding. “The Enclave was probably one of our biggest projects that we did— and we were pretty successful with that,” Watts added.
“Improving housing loss data would be a joint city/county agency (that information would be pulled through Map Forsyth, which would do that. Increase wages to keep up with increased housing costs and to keep up socioeconomic benefits to reduce other household expenditures, that would be a combination of health and human services roles, we do eligibility for food stamps, crisis, or work first and other federal programs through that,” Watts said. “Increase parity between landlords and tenets, that would probably mostly be a city-state thing, because the courts are run by the state. That is complicated. I am not sure about that one. That may be difficult even within the state of North Carolina’s legislative framework.” When asked about what the County could do to help mitigate evictions as the activists have been calling for since January 20-26, 2021
November 2020, Watts said, “That would be the sheriff, and he is basically enforcing state law. I think they are going to follow state law on all of that, so I don’t know the specifics of the ones they were referring to. I know Sheriff Kimbrough is absolutely committed to following the law in the state of North Carolina, good, bad, or indifferent; he is going to follow what the order is on that.” “The unfortunate part is, the county has always seen themselves as not a participant of housing, of any type, and that’s sad for all of us,” said Mayor Pro-Tem D.D. Adams (North Ward) in a joint Zoom interview with Councilman Jeff MacIntosh (Northwest Ward) on Dec. 14, 2020. “Everybody thinks that we get this big bucket of money from HUD, those days of that kind of money ended probably two decades or more ago— administrations changed, and that was not one of the important things that our government thought they needed to be still consistently working on. The amount of money that we get now for any type of housing for homeless veterans, crisis housing, affordable housing, bills, developers, all of that comes out of this small bucket that we get from these funds— whether it is from the fed or state or the taxpayers— the City has been very diligent on trying to make some kind of headway on this affordable housing crisis.” MacIntosh agreed with Adams that affordable housing is a big focus for the City; however, he noted that the most significant barrier that the City faces is not enough funding. “Our council is fairly unique because there is some expertise in the arena— D.D. was in the Housing Authority in WinstonSalem, there is a fair amount of expertise here, and yet we still struggle to make big gains,” said MacIntosh, who is a realtor. “The amount of money it takes to fix the problem, I mean, really to make a dent is massive. The study that DD was talking about said we needed an additional amount of 14,000 affordable housing units, and to figure, at $125,000 per unit, that is $1.75 billion— our annual budget in total is $210 million outside of utilities. So, that is like eight years of our budget spending no money on trash, no money on anything else. Our ability to do things to try to tweak some laws that we have to nibble at the edges and encourage, but the money has got to come from the state or Federal government to make a meaningful difference.” Regarding “forward-thinking development policies,” Adams noted that the City has several properties that they are sitting on but are waiting to get funds to develop to create community land trusts. YES! WEEKLY
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Triad Abolition Project and Housing Justice Now activists protesting the 60+ eviction hearings outside the Forsyth County Government Center on Dec. 11 “I can’t stop a family from selling grandma’s house. If they have never done anything with grandma’s house, it’s just sitting there going to hell in a handbasket, the community is mad about it, if somebody comes along and offers the family $60,000-$70,000 and they have never seen $60 or 70,000 what do you think they are going to do? They are going to sell grandma’s house and take that money and go buy a house and send their kid to college. They are not living in the neighborhood, it is an absentee homeowner, and properties that are in the historically black neighborhood areas. The properties that the city owns, and its a lot of properties, we have put a moratorium on them that nobody can do anything to them right now until we get to a place where we have a plan with the general assembly that we can start to create land trusts, work with nonprofits to build the housing we believe that the community has a right to a future of this community and this land and we are protecting it. But they think we are protecting it to give it to white people to go gentrify it or whatever. And that is not the case; that is fake news.”
She also noted that planning is in the works for a housing assessment testing area, “where the community gets trained on how to assess the houses in their own neighborhoods vs. somebody telling them,” Adams said. “We have TURN (transforming urban residential neighborhoods) we also have housing rehab laws and grants that people can get based on their incomes to fix up their homes. There are a lot of programs available, but as Jeff said, there isn’t enough money in the programs to feed everybody.” When asked what could be done about the ongoing evictions and hearings during the pandemic amid the newly expanded CDC Moratorium, Adams said that the County determines evictions, not the City. “When we have tried to facilitate with our legislatures’ policy, ordinances, and laws to help with that situation, we have basically gotten no response or no willingness to work on it,” Adams said. “We are working with two or three groups, we did have a housing assessment done, a consultant back in 2018 presented us with— we have also done some in
conjunction with the center for community progress— with how we can utilize vacant and abandoned properties here in Winston-Salem, the city owns property— we own lots, and when people can’t pay their taxes or foreclosures or whatever, we end up with it. Now, we are still in a position where we have lobbied and sent forth legislation to the general assembly to allow us to utilize that property to do affordable housing and mixed-use housing and work with developers with ways to increase our units, but that too has been kind of stalled in the General Assembly because there are those that feel like the way that property gets sold and bought in any city is whose got the money. The only way we can control this property is by owning it, and right now, we are still working with our legal department and state advocates to hopefully getting control of that in the next few months. We are hoping for that.” Adams also addressed something the City isn’t allowed to do despite activists calling for it: “People want us to create policies for landlords that require them to ensure that their dwellings are safe and habit-
able and their needs to be a list of bad landlords, the city cant do that. The state forbids us to do that.” She encourages activists to call their state legislators and push for that demand through the North Carolina General Assembly. “I have no issue with the council being held accountable every day, for everything, but you just can’t hold the city council accountable for everything,” Adams said. “Just like you show up at our committee meetings, council meetings, where is that same engagement at the county and the state-level? Why aren’t you asking the county commissioners why aren’t they lobbying or the residents, citizens to get the state to stop the eviction rates that they are going at? Why? It is one thing to say, what are y’all doing, what is the city doing? What we are doing is trying to help; we are the ones that try to engage with the county and the state and the federal people, we are the ones writing the letters and the phone calls to our legislative people, of what is going on here in the city and county of Forsyth. Again, until we start holding everyone accountable to the same rules, there is going to be an imbalance where the city council is trying to make end road.” Adams also responded to activists’ criticism calling out council members for allegedly not paying attention during the public comment period. “It’s virtual, everybody right now is all in a different place, we are frightened and scared and dealing with our mental bubbles, and we feel helpless, and we want somebody to talk to, to pay attention to us— I don’t think it is a fair assessment to say about us,” she said. “We are doing our job, and meanwhile, while we are doing our job, you have chatroom stuff going on, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t paying attention, so if I sat there and I looked at you intently, you probably would have a problem with that as well. All I can tell the people right now in Winston-Salem is, try to be patient. Try to be understanding but stay hopeful. We are going to get through this, but like I said in March, this a two or three-year run, and we have to get our minds right, and we can get through this together. We can make our feelings known, we can make our requests and engagement known, but we don’t have to tear each other up in conversation and discourse. We can agree to disagree. We don’t have to disrespect each other because that is the climate that we are in, but we can all learn to live, respect, and listen to each other. But we all have to stay hopeful that we are going to get through this. We are America. We can do anything.” WWW.YESWEEKLY.COM
MacIntosh also responded to this criticism: “It is not comfortable to sit there and have people accuse you of not paying attention or not caring not being involved or aware or whatever when they don’t see the work that goes on day-to-day, the meetings we attend— DD is on a national board, I am on the state board, you are talking about a dedicated group of people. But when you sit there and people question your commitment to the people of the city of Winston-Salem, it is hard to take.” MacIntosh described the council’s current approach to providing affordable housing as spending money where they are “getting the biggest bang for a buck and producing the most units possible with the dollars we have.” “We try to make it attractive for private developers to come in and provide a little bit of money that leverages their money to produce units— it is all about producing units, and we need to produce more units, and we need to save more units,” he added. “I think we have done a great job over the last decade or so of working with people on their houses when they fall into disrepair; we don’t want to tear them down. We only tear them down when we are forced to— when an owner will not participate with us— we try to give them every opportunity. We try to have our folks in the community development project to encourage and offer solutions to people that may not be able to find on their own, but in the end, what the City is able to do as far as housing, is either save or have built very few units. We ponied up $600,000, which sounds like a lot of money, for a project over on Peters Creek Parkway and Academy Street, and that was 62 units— it is still waiting on $8 million from the state to build. So, the scope is daunting to us. It is irritating that we can’t really move the wheel that much, where we can better directly impact housing is to work on workforce housing or little-a-affordable housing rather than Big-A-affordable housing that has to be paid for by the Federal government.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, MacIntosh said that the city had lost more than 50% of its tax revenue from tourism and the Carolina Classic Fair’s cancellation. “The first round of CARES act funding, the City got $3 or 4 million, and it doesn’t stretch very far when you look at how many people need the relief,” MacIntosh said. “If something doesn’t come out to cities and municipalities, and hospitality workers, then 2021 is going to be more painful than 2020.” The latest Federal COVID-19 relief bill did not include any allocation of funds
for municipalities. In the first round of CARES funds, Forsyth County received $6,470,065— $5,220,065 of that went to “payroll expenses,” and none of it went to subsidized housing. According to a press release, on Dec. 21, 2020, the Forsyth County Commissioners announced a surplus, as “the impact on sales tax revenue from the pandemic turned out to be far less than expected, resulting in $7.8 million allocated to the budget. The commissioners approved $5 million for budget restorations across various departments, which included restoring reductions in longevity and performance pay for county employees, as well as $2.9 million in funding to the WinstonSalem/Forsyth County School System. In addition to the $5 million restored to departmental budgets, the Board allocated an additional $2.4 million for additional spending. This included adding ten Social Services positions, a full-time sustainability manager, and two school nurse positions. There were also funds for a gang prevention program, a citizen survey, a lobbyist, and upfitting a space at Social Services for a WIC clinic. Many nonprofits also received additional special appropriations, including Second Harvest Food Bank, Crosby Scholars, SHARE Cooperative, Piedmont Land Conservancy, Korner’s Folly, Old Salem, Experiment in Self Reliance, Habitat for Humanity and the National Black Theater Festival.” iActivists have been calling for the City of Winston-Salem to reallocate money for the community, especially for those who are housing insecure, from the $78 million Winston-Salem Police Budget. The activists have recently formed a coalition called Forsyth County Police Accountability and Reallocation (FCPARC) and have started circulating a petition calling for actions such as reallocating the WSPD budget for community programs such as Youth Build and SOAR. “To fix the problem that people are asking for, you could wipe out the complete police budget and still not fix the problem because what we have to fix is poverty,” MacIntosh said. Adams agreed with MacIntosh that poverty is the root cause that needs to be addressed, adding that the Middle Class is disappearing in Winston-Salem, making homeownership for many just a “pipedream.” “Everything that you do in government is like a business. You have to look at it like how do you make it better and more efficient, what innovation are you coming up with to take it to the next level?” Adams said speaking on activists’ calls for reallocation. “In my lifetime, because of the world we live in, crime is going to be regardless of what you do— we are not
a utopia, it is not going to go away, but I feel like that we need to be innovative and we need to benchmark other cities as to how do we make community policing more at the forefront of being more connected to the community and the people. Again, nobody has to tell me that, yeah, a lot of the crime happens in the Black and Brown neighborhoods. Does that mean that we need more police than everybody? Not necessarily, because if you have an economic piece connected to the community to help these young folks see a way out of poverty, and the education system is broken, all of this is systemic, and it is all connected, and you can’t improve one without improving some of the others, you just can’t, and I believe that when it comes to public safety, the $78 million is not as much as Greensboro or Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, or any of the others for our population.” MacIntosh agreed and added that “in a city of 250,000 people, Raleigh in 2019, their Public Safety budget was $787 per person, ours is less than $400 per person, so we are pretty efficient with the use of our money— it just costs money to buy cars that get wrecked all the time. The cost of doing business is expensive.” “But I do believe that for me, we need to start looking at our police budget, as well as all of them and see where we can carve some monies out to give to programs for the community that they want to see,” Adams said. “That is the other piece— we can say what we think is best and see the big picture, but eventually, you have got to listen to the will of the people: right, wrong, and different, you can’t ignore them, and I am at a place now where I am not trying to ignore them. OK, folks, this is what you want, this is how much money (just like how the city manager tells the departments) when it is budget cycle time, you have to go to your department’s budget and find the money. Where can you cut is it on paper, is it on whatever, you have got to find it. I feel like with where we are now; we need to look at all the budgets across the city and try to find monies for the programs the people want, whether that is for training young people at a trade, providing free pre-K to children partnering with other agencies and services and other nonprofits. The cities cannot do it themselves; the world we live in right now has to be partnerships. Nobody can do that themselves.” ! KATIE MURAWSKI is the former editor-in-chief of YES! Weekly. Her alter egos include The Grimberlyn Reaper, skater/public relations’ board chair for Greensboro Roller Derby, and Roy Fahrenheit, drag entertainer and self-proclaimed King of Glamp.
JANUARY 20-26, 2021
Roan Mountain Choir releases “Children of the Quarn”
oan Mountain Choir released their new single, “Children of the Quarn,” with an accompanying video on Jan. 20. “Most of us have Katei Cranford been active musicians for the majority of our lives,” said Contributor bassist Tim Coleman of their history. “This was a project we’d talked about doing for years, and it fell into place.” He’s joined in the lineup by vocalist Luke Williams (from Born Hollow,) guitarist Daniel Holland (from Dreameater,) and drummer Kevin Metcalf. The hardcore quartet solidified in 2019 thanks to “a brainstorm, a couple of phone calls, and a garage.” While their influences run along with southern hardcore standards like: Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Every Time I Die, Norma Jean, Converge, and Pantera, they’d put the new single between Feverwar and Kaonashi. The song itself was written “piece by piece over this pandemic,” Coleman noted. “We tried out some sounds, but this was definitely one we felt proud of. Once it was recorded and mastered, we knew it was ready to be released.” Praising the trial-and-error process, Coleman kept their motivation simple: “we like to write gnarly riffs and play fast.” For Williams, songwriting provides more of an outlet. “I write based on how music makes me feel and what I’m dealing with in my personal life,” he said. “It’s a positive outlet for my negative energy.” Coleman agreed on the broadly applicable yet personal nature of their music. “It’s art; it’s open to personal interpretation.” In that interpretation, the group harkens lore surrounding their namesake. “When you listen to our music, you might hear an angel, or you might hear the devil,” Coleman noted, echoing the legends surrounding Roan Mountain and its supposed ghost choir—which witnesses have equally attributed to fairies, angels, and evil spirits. “We grew up around the mountain,” Coleman said. And it was to that mountain they returned to master their first single, “Drive By Baptism,” with Alex Ryan YES! WEEKLY
JANUARY 20-26, 2021
at the Sound Asylum in Johnson City, TN. “As a whole, we record, produce, and mix our own songs,” Coleman explained, reinforcing the group is an “entirely DIY” band. “We did it our way. We sat in our personal studio and taught ourselves how to record and mix our songs by ourselves.” For mastering the new single, they tapped Winston-Salem audio producer Jamie King, who’s known for working with the likes of Between the Buried and Me, Alesana, and He Is Legend. “We’ve worked with him on previous projects,” Coleman said of the relationship, “and he’s a long-time friend.” The group holds friendship in high regard, as they’ve employed an endorsement campaign to promote the single, with a Facebook page flooded with Cameo-style videos. “Be good to people, and they’ll be good to you,” Coleman explained of the support they’ve seen from bill mates and buds alike. “Those connections are lasting, and we love and appreciate all of them.” That appreciation extends beyond their
friend circles, with the group donating all proceeds from their releases to various charities. “We don’t do this to make money,” Coleman said. “We’d rather the funds go back to the community.” For “Children of the Quarn,” they’ve chosen national nonprofits, including To Write Love on Her Arms and the National Independent Venue Association’s “Giving Back Fund.” Locally, they’ll be donating to Leaders of the New School, a mentoring program that’s partnered with schools in eastern Greensboro, including Erwin Montessori and Falkener Elementary. Started by Coleman’s fellow alumni from North Carolina A&T State University, Demontra Cooper and Jamel Cobb, Lead-
ers of the New School works to “promote academic excellence, leadership, community service, and good behavior.” According to their website, “the overall purpose of the mentor relationship is to show students the real-world applicability of academics,” with aims to “draw connections between what’s being taught in the classroom and what our students will do in the future.” As for Roan Mountain Choir’s future, they’re taking it one step at a time—intending to continue their DIY recording technique and plans to release more singles. “We’ll put out songs as they come to us,” Coleman explained. “It’s a way to keep people engaged during a time when we can’t play shows.” As for a full record, “we’ll put together an album when it makes sense.” Otherwise, their future is vague and cryptic. “We’re always planning something wild,” they said. “Just watch.” For now, their second single, “Children of the Quarn,” dropped Jan. 20. ! KATEI CRANFORD is a Triad music nerd who hosts “Katei’s Thursday Triad Report,” a radio show that spotlights area artists and events. Thurs. 5:30-7 p.m. on WUAG 103.1FM. #ksttr
[THE ADVICE GODDESS] love • sex • dating • marriage • questions
I’m a woman in my late 20s in a happy, committed relationship. I had the idea of going to a therapist with my boyfriend so we can learn to communicate better, Amy Alkon etc. Friends I’ve told about this see it as Advice a sign of “trouble in paradise.” Is it posGoddess sible I’m in denial and there’s something wrong between my boyfriend and me? —Unsettled
Be glad your friends are not in charge of airplane maintenance. It’s annoying when a nonstop flight makes an unscheduled stop — especially when it involves going down in flames in a cornfield. We’re given training in how to read, write, and drive, and if you go on YouTube, somebody will teach you how to do magic tricks with your blender. Only in our romantic relationships are we expected to be untrained geniuses. Unfortunately, this expectation pairs poorly with therapist Albert Ellis’ realism on what it means to be a person (in language he suggested to a client): “I’m a human, fallible being who screwed up and may screw up in the future because (of) my fallibility.” So, though there’s a tendency to see therapy (for individuals or couples) as something you do only when you’re broken, it shouldn’t be that way. It can be a tuneup to help a good relationship be
even better. For example, when I do relationship mediations for couples, I help them see each other’s sometimes conflicting wants — he wants this/she wants that — not as threats but as mere facts to manage (with love and respect). You can find your partner’s request unreasonable or even crazy, but if it’s not a big deal for you to come through, maybe you do it simply because you love them and want them to feel good. (If it is a big deal, you can at least tell them lovingly why you wish you could but you can’t.) A relationships researcher I respect, psychologist John Gottman, gives weekend workshops for couples that can be attended online (gottman.com). Couples on a budget could just get Gottman’s book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” out of the library and read and discuss a section a week. Gottman’s workshop or book would also be a great wedding present. We find wedding vows romantic, but we tend not to consider that “till death do us part!” would have been a great T-shirt slogan for enemy soldiers trying to off each other in the Hundred Years’ War.
bird? Oh, good, because a diamond tennis bracelet would be super boring.” By human cleanliness standards, dogs are seriously disgusting. The “Merry Corpsemas!” gifts on the duvet and the love some breeds have for rolling around in the mud (immediately after you spend $75 at the groomer) aren’t the half of it. Dogs live to sniff poo; they’ll snub their water bowl to drink out of the toilet; and they have the lovely habit of using your Persian rug for toilet paper — especially when you’ve got company over for a chichi cocktail party. In other words, any minor foot dirt under a restaurant table is unlikely to be a problem for your dog. All that’s likely to be “really dirty” are the looks you might get from patrons with allergies or dog-in-dinery issues. From your dog’s perspective, it’ll be simply awesome to be at your feet. Anthrozoologist John W.S. Bradshaw explains that dogs co-evolved with humans, starting between 15,000 to 25,000 years ago, per archeological estimates. Over all those doggie-human generations ever since, dogs have been bred to find human contact extremely
I live in California, where there’s outdoor dining. My husband and I disagree about bringing our dog to restaurants. Our pooch has to sit under the table, and I think it’s really dirty and unkind to put him there. My husband thinks we should bring him. What do you think? —Concerned
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GOT A PROBLEM? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@ aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com). Follow her on Twitter @amyalkon. Order her latest “science-help” book, Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence. ©2021 Amy Alkon. Distributed by Creators.Com.
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rewarding. Bradshaw and his colleagues discovered that some dogs — Labs and border collies, for example — suffer intense “separation distress” when they’re apart from their human. “They find it difficult to cope without us,” writes Bradshaw. “Since we humans have programmed this vulnerability, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our dogs do not suffer as a result.” As I see it, we’re cruel to exclude dogs from so many areas of our lives. Take airline travel. Airlines require dogs over 20 pounds — no matter how well-behaved — to be put in a cage and stowed with the luggage in the hold of the plane. The airlines could easily adopt a more compassionate policy: Instead, give the cage space to that baby who’s sure to scream all the way from Dallas to St. Louis, trashing the mental health of everybody from 1A to 32E. !
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JANUARY 20-26, 2021
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