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Forsyth DA makes AG bid

Forsyth District Attorney Jim O’Neill made it official yesterday —-he is running for N.C. attorney general. O’Neill’s announcement comes the same day incumbent Attorney General Roy Cooper announced he is running for governor.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, O’Neill said his “top priority would be to fix the delays of the State Crime Lab, calling them ‘unconscionable.'” O’Neill also said he “would also carry out the will of the people in death penalty cases and direct resources to defending murder convictions so that victims’ families can have closure.”

What is the will of the people in death penalty cases? A recent poll by High Point University and —yes— the N&R— shows 72 percent of NC residents favor the death penalty for “some crimes.”

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Civil rights museum on stable ground. Trust us.

The ‘us’ being Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and City Manager Jim Westmoreland. Needless to say International Civil Rights Center Museum Deena Hayes-Greene and executive director John Swaine aren’t saying anything about the museum’s financial well-being—or lack thereof— so the N&R “asked Vaughan and Westmoreland — public officials with an obligation to transparency and accountability — to discuss the museum’s current financial situation and its long-term chance for success.”

What did Vaughan and Westmoreland tell the N&R?

They described a leadership less consumed with crises and more focused on making the museum financially self-sustaining. The city received the museum’s audit on time this summer, they said, and staffers are doing a good job of holding more programs that are open to the public.

“There hadn’t been a whole lot going on in the museum” in terms of special programs, exhibits and other events, Vaughan said.

“They’re making the museum more of a destination than it had been before.”

Vaughan said she’s “cautiously optimistic” about the museum’s future. She later added a caveat: “… based on information we are aware of.

“If there is information we are not aware of, that is subject to change.”

Key quote is ‘based on information we are not aware of.’ Given the tight reins on information Hayes-Greene and Swaine put on information, I’d be willing to bet there is quite a bit of information of which Vaughan and Westmoreland are not aware.

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Al Heggins ‘warned repeatedly’ before canned

News broke last week that the City of High fired Human Relations Director Al Heggins following months of controversy surrounding her tenure.

Deputy City Manager Randy McCaslin lowered the boom, writing to Heggins “you have been warned repeatedly regarding poor judgment, inefficiency, negligence and/or incompetence in your job performance duties and discourteous treatment of others in violation of Section 8.2 of the City of High Point Personnel Resolution…. (y)our performance and conduct has not improved.”

The fact that earlier this year Heggins claimed “she feared for her life over what she termed a climate of racial tension” probably didn’t help her standing with her employer. The fact that Heggins filed against the city with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also makes her termination prime for legal action.

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N&R logic

N&R is as surprised and shocked as Mayor Nancy Vaughan over the less 4 percent turnout for Greensboro’s City Council primary.

The local paper of records grasps at a few straws, including—you guessed it—- HB 263—-noting that Vaughan and District 3 incumbent Justin Outling —also a big winner— support the city’s legal challenge to the bill.

Maybe— again, turnout for the November general election should be higher, but probably 10-12 percent at most. The larger philosophical and political debate over how much the General Assembly micromanages local governments is one thing, but my hunch is the vast majority of Gboro residents could care less whether or not their City Council is a 5-3-1 system or eight districts and a mayor.

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Gboro’s Tuesday crime spree


Meet Isaiah Jurel Fox, who went on a wild crime spree literally from one end of Greensboro to the other, wreaking all kinds of havoc along the way before two GPD detectives capped him near McAdoo Avenue.

Fox is expected to be released from the hospital either today or tomorrow, after which he could face at least 20 charges including assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

During his little jaunt, Fox tried to rob a TJ Maxx, assaulted an elderly woman, ran over over an elderly man on the 18th tee at Starmount Country Club, crashed into another car on Market Street and Murrow Boulevard, grabbed a small child from his mother and threatened to kill him if the mother did not give him her keys and cellphone and beat the mother after she had given up the keys.

Let’s hope Fox goes away for a long time —-and preferably not to be let out again, unlike his getaway driver, who had previously spent time on death row before his sentence was vacated and he was allowed to plea down.


Gboro City Council primary (sigh)

Incumbent Mayor Nancy Vaughan dominated Greensboro’s City Council primary, tallying 88 percent of the vote—while incumbent District 3 council member Justin Outling got 60 percent of the vote in his three-way primary. This is Outling’s first campaign—he was appointed to the district 3 seat when Zack Matheny resigned to become president and chief executive officer of nonprofit Downtown Greensboro Inc.

Vaughan took Gboro residents to task for the low turnout—-under 4 percent:

“I’m extremely disappointed in the turnout,” Vaughan said. “Of the people you vote for, your City Council has the biggest effect on your day-to-day life. To have such a large percentage not voting is disappointing.”

The low turnout may be the result of having just two contests on the ballot.

“Usually we have an at-large primary,” Vaughan said. “So everyone in the city has a reason to come out and vote.”
Vaughan said she hopes to see higher turnout in the Nov. 3 general election. All but two council seats are contested then.

“I’d really like to see people more engaged,” she said.

Maybe Vaughan said it and the N&R didn’t print it, but anyone following Gboro politics this year might put two and two together and thing to themselves that the mayor led the charge against the HB 263 —the bill redistricting the City Council that is now stalled in court—- in the interest of Gboro citizens determining the makeup of their local government —and this is what she gets? A 4 percent turnout?

Fair enough—- mayor and District 3 were the only races warranting a primary. And the N&R will tell you the uncertainty surrounding redistricting is why so few candidates threw hats in the ring.

Hopefully turnout for the November general election will reach double digits –but we’re still only talking 10-12 percent. Otherwise the argument that the battle against redistricting is a fight for democracy will ring slightly hollow.

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Meanwhile, ICD-10

With the world seemingly going to hell around us comes news that has the potential to wreak some havoc with the healthcare system—-something we all need, right?—- the transition to ICD-10— which took effect Oct. 1.

For those who don’t know—can’t say I did —-ICD 10 is the new digital documentation system which is “is mandatory for entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA).” The change also “comes at a time when many health-care systems have only recently gained firm footing from the roll out of electronic health records, also a key part of the Affordable Care Act.”

Possible complications as a result of the transition include “backlogged insurance payments, cash flow problems and emergency bank loans” for healthcare providers. The addition of 141,000 new codes and terms won’t help matters any.

Fortunately —as the wire service story reports—-N.C. providers and insurers have been preparing for the transition to ICD-10 for years and at least feel confident that it will go (somewhat) smoothly.

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Say Yes weighs in on GCS budget

Interesting N&R dispatch from this weekend’s Guilford County Board of Education retreat— board members were briefed on a budget analysis paid for by—-get this —Say Yes to Education:

Thousands of classes at local middle and high schools have fewer than 20 students. More than 120 classes have fewer than 10 students, according to a budget analysis shared Saturday with the Guilford County Board of Education.

Reducing the number of those low enrollment classes alone might yield up to $11.4 million , according to recommendations based on that analysis. The savings could be put toward areas of needed improvement, such as marked disparities in student performance on the ACT.

In all, the budget analysis, paid for by Say Yes to Education, noted opportunities, not obligations, for Guilford County Schools leaders to make such changes as reconfiguring staff in certain departments and reallocating up to $24.6 million.

Anyone who has been following the selection of Guilford County as a Say Yes community knows supporters believe Say Yes is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel, while any public official who dared ask legitimate questions should feel the wrath of taxpayers, according to N&R columnist Susan Ladd.

So it’s interesting that Say Yes—barely two weeks after after so graciously selecting Guilford County—comes in with ideas

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Star Parker: Nutcracker

I did not attend the recent N&R forum on the plight of young black males moderated by ed page editor Allen Johnson and featuring conservative author and activist Star Parker and (my favorite—as you well know) liberal columnist Leornard Pitts.

But in yesterday’s Sunday Ideas section, the N&R invited members of its community editorial board to give their thoughts on the forum. While local conservative columnist Charles Davenport Jr. thought Parker “was not only thoughtful and articulate, but also, as a black female, courageously defiant,” fellow columnist Robin Adams Cheeley had a slightly different view.

Bad enough Parker “talked over and interrupted Pitts,” was “rude, dismissive and condescending” and “laughed at inappropriate times,” but:

Parker’s interaction with Pitts and Johnson mirrored that of how black men in America are often treated — with dismissal and disdain. She wasn’t just opinionated, sassy and expressive — traits I possess myself. Her behavior was more akin to that of Sapphire, Aunt Esther and Madea. She borders on having a case of the Angry, Black Woman Syndrome.

Ironic that at a forum examining the untapped potential of black men, you have a black woman on stage attempting to emasculate her male counterparts.

Personally I take offense to any negative comparisons to Aunt Esther—good God-fearing woman that she was. By the same token, anyone familiar with LaWanda Page’s career knows her standup tended to shade slightly blue.

Update: Correction from the N&R’s Doug Clark: “The moderator was Elon law professor George Johnson, not Allen Johnson.”


Re: Latest Gboro council redistricting twist

By now you’ve probably read in the N&R about the General Assembly’s last minute ‘technical correction’ to the law passed earlier this year redistricting the Greensboro City Council, which was later put on hold by a federal judge:

Senate Bill 119, a technical revisions bill, made changes to a long list of bills passed in the session. Among those changes: removing the most controversial and legally problematic part of the Greensboro redistricting law.

Legislators changed the text that called for permanently removing the city’s ability to redraw its own council district lines. That provision, which would have made Greensboro the only city in the state without that power, was at the center of federal Judge Catherine Eagles’ decision to enjoin the law.

The new language states that Greensboro can change its own lines — but must wait until after the 2020 census.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan says “obviously” legislators were “looking for a better position for trial.” While that may be true, the bigger story —which in my opinion should get more prominent play—is Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne —-representing the county’s Board of Elections–the defendant in the city’s lawsuit—is going to ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing “there was always a question as to whether we were the correct party in the suit.”

Rhino’s John Hammer adds “from a layman’s perspective it is hard to see how the Board of Elections can be sued for something it didn’t do and has no power to remedy.”

You would think a judge would see it the same way.

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