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Final piece of the Gboro-Randolph megasite puzzle?

N&R reports the N.C. Railroad Co. has agreed to buy 875 acres in Randolph County that could “virtually wrap up the land-buying phase” of the Greensboro-Randolph megasite:

The railroad said Tuesday that it will spend about $13 million to buy the land within the 1,450-acre site in Randolph County to help complete what local and regional leaders believe is the Triad’s best shot at landing a car manufacturer or other advanced industry.

Until Tuesday, Randolph County was the only owner of land designated for the megasite. Most of the remaining property was controlled by an organization called the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite Foundation, which had options to purchase that could expire.

This is enough for former Gboro Mayor and president of the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite Foundation Jim Melvin to proclaim the announcement to be “a big victory day for us” and the megasite’s “gonna happen.” Still a lot of moving parts, though.

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Re: GPD’s civil emergency unit

N&R follows up Triad City Beat’s reporting on the Greensboro Police Department’s newly-formed civil emergency unit:

Created more than a year ago, the CEU has a specific mission: to prevent or curtail violence when people take their right to free speech to the streets.

….Their mission is to use as little force as possible to control order, Wolfe said.
Sometimes, he said, that means allowing protesters to gather even if they don’t have a city-issued protest permit. Other times, it might mean officers’ standing stone-faced while protesters scream at them, he said.

And, he said, it might mean protecting the protesters themselves from being injured by counterprotesters.

“The last thing we want is for large groups of people to be fighting in the streets,” Wolfe said.

In today’s hyper-politicized world one’s reaction to this news kinda depends on who’s doing the protesting. It’s understandable the social justice guys over at Triad City Beat would be worried about the formation of such a unit, since it’s their clientele taking it to the streets these days. But what if–just imagine—a large crowd of unruly Trump supporters took to the streets? How long would liberals tolerate that before they’d either step themselves or expect the cops to step in?

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DBS and ‘Bishop Dean’ running for Guilford school board

I thought this would be bigger news—-maybe I missed it—but former controversial former Greensboro City Council member Dianne Bellamy-Small’s candidacy for the Guilford County Board of Education was mentioned matter-of-factly in today’s N&R front-pager.

The lede? District 7 candidate—running unopposed—-Byron Gladden, aka “Bishop Dean”:

Blame Tyler Perry, the well-known director and actor, for Gladden’s — or Dean’s — name change. One of Perry’s movies included a character named Byron. Another character in the movie frequently said Byron’s name, dragging out the “n.”

Even several years later, Dean said, people still pronounce his name like the character in the movie. Or they transpose the y and r.

Name annoyances aside, Dean. 30, said he has serious reasons for wanting to serve on the school board: a passion for education and a desire to empower and effect change in the community.

“Part of doing the work is knowing where the work is most effective,” Dean said. “We have a good school board. I saw the potential for it to be even better than what it is.”

Other notes from the school board’s upcoming partisan election—-board chairman Alan Duncan —a Democrat—is being challenged by Republican Alan Hawkes for the at-large seat; District 2 incumbent Jeff Belton–a Democrat– is being challenged by former school board member Anita Sharpe, a Republican; and last but not least no Republicans are running for the District 8 seat held by International Civil Rights Museum chair and Racial Equity Institute contributor Deena Hayes-Greene, although she is being challenged by Democrat Matthew Stafford.

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Kalvin Michael Smith’s latest appeal…

Kalvin Michael Smith—convicted in the brutal 1995 beating of Jill Marker at Winston-Salem’s Silk Plant Forest store—is working on yet another appeal.

Court papers filed in this latest appeal reveal that the lead Forsyth County police detective used a racial epithet to describe Smith:

Don Williams told his brother, Ricky Williams, in 2002 that he believed a white man who had been a suspect might have been involved in Marker’s assault Dec. 9, 1995, at the Silk Plant Forest store where she worked but that Smith, who is black, was likely guilty of something. Don Williams was referring to Kenneth Lamoureux, who had been a suspect early during the investigation. Witnesses said Lamoureux had been at the Silk Plant store the night of the attack. Lamoureux, who died in 2011, had a history of violence.

“If the nigger didn’t do this, he’s done something else,” Williams told his brother, according to court papers. Ricky Williams was interviewed by the SBI.

Ricky Williams told the SBI that Don Williams “took the ‘racist’ and shortcut way out of the case,” according to the court papers filed by Smith’s attorneys.

The court papers also reveal that Williams also referred to Smith as a “known crack dealer,” although—according to Smith’s attorney— there has never been any evidence that Smith sold crack cocaine.

Smith is still serving his 29-year sentence for Marker’s assault. His latest effort at appeal was shot down in 2014 when a Forsyth Superior Court judge denied a motion to vacate a previous denial of Smith’s appeal at the time.

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DOJ budget issues…..

Hard to believe that —of all things—the U.S. Department of Justice is having “budget issues.” How do we know this? It’s the excuse the department gave Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes when letting him know his office—and the Greensboro Police Department— would no longer receive forfeiture funds:

Barnes said it had been presented to him as a US Department of Justice budget issue. He said the justice department’s claims that it doesn’t have the money due to budget cuts makes no sense whatsoever. He said the program makes money rather than costs money, and he added that all funds should just sit in an account until they can be turned over to local law enforcement – whose hard work resulted in the confiscation of the money in the first place.

“My question is where is the money,” Barnes said. “We do all the work; we work hard and make the arrests. That 20 percent was supposed to be an administrative fee. So how can they be in the hole? That’s a program that’s supposed to pay for itself. They are supposed to hold it in an account. So I’d like to know where the money is. The only way they can be in the hole is if they have been using this money.”

Of course my gut reaction is DOJ is put all its resources into proving that Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson is a racist. Latest news there, however, is DOJ is in mediation with Johnson’s attorneys as it ponders whether to continue its appeal of the judge’s ruling in Johnson’s favor in its discrimination case.

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NBA D-League “Swarms” into Gboro

Greensboro’s new D-league team is branded—-the ‘Swarm.’

“It represented a different attitude,” said Seth Bennett, the Hornets’ senior vice president of marketing. “When we talked about competition and the fans and the type of energy we want in the arena. It has a lot of different applications.”

The Swarm will play games at the Greensboro Coliseum Pavilion, which is scheduled to be renovated into a 2,500-seat fieldhouse before the 2016-17 season. The current D-League season began Nov. 7.

I’ve been a sports fan most of my life and I’ve always had a problem with nicknames that didn’t have an ‘s’ at the end.

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Guilford EMS gets reimbursement for transporting mental patients

Twelve counties—including Guilford, Rockingham and Forsyth—-will be able to bill the state for transporting mental patients in an effort to get them proper care instead of treating such patients in hospital emergency rooms:

State lawmakers in this year’s budget allocated $225,000 for a yearlong pilot project to gather data on the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of direct transport.

DHHS officials found an additional $264,000 from federal mental-health and substance-abuse block grants to match those funds and next year will report back to the state with the results of its project.

As of Dec. 15, EMS agencies could submit bills for new transports but also retroactively bill for trips dating back to July 1. Agencies can request reimbursement from the state until funds run out, though neither the governor’s office nor DHHS specified the amount available.

Hopefully ER doctors will be able to make quick and accurate diagnoses of patients with mental problems.

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Phil Berger and Miller-Coors

Couple of viewpoints—not favorable—on Sen. Phil Berger and the shutdown of Rockingham County’s Miller-Coors brewing plant.

First—from Fayetteville Observer editorial page editor Tim White:

And do you suppose Berger might be a little worried about what his constituents will face when they’re laid off? He should be. All those families whose votes he counts on will be dumped into the unemployment system that he also gutted. They’ll be getting some of the smallest, shortest-duration unemployment checks in the country and won’t be eligible for long-term benefits. Berger and his colleagues slashed all of those benefits, suggesting they only inspired laziness. Sorry, folks, but it was the right thing to do for the state. So get out there and hustle for those jobs – which, unfortunately, may not even exist.

Next– from Greensboro resident Kurt Lauenstein, a far-left regular contributor to the N&R’s letters to the editor:

Although he is their senator, Berger has consistently sided with big business: eliminating regulation, fighting EPA guidelines, blocking studies of environmental change and dismantling social safety nets.

Now the people of Rockingham County have the triple whammy of an environmental disaster, big business double-dealing and no safety net. The people of Rockingham County voted for Berger, and they deserve nothing less (if, in fact, there is such a thing).

What can anyone say but….there’s an election next year…

Update: N&R reports Berger is unopposed in the 2016 election.

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Walker calls for DOJ reimburse in Terry Johnson case

Rep. Mark Walker—along with fellow Rep. Renee Ellmers—has called for the U.S. Department of Justice to repay the full costs of its unsuccessful racial discrimination case against Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson:

Ellmers and Walker released separate statements on their decisions to send the letter.
“The Alamance County Sheriff was elected by the people of Alamance County. Not only did they elect him, but they re-elected him in the midst of this witch hunt,” Ellmers said. “This trial was lengthy; it was time consuming; it was costly. It took Sheriff Johnson’s time and attention away from serving the people of Alamance County, and to ensure there is no additional, adverse impact on this community, Alamance County should be reimbursed in full immediately.”

“The DOJ has made an unwise decision by not reimbursing the total court costs incurred by Alamance County. This is money that could have been used to fund schools, pave roads, and provide critical services to their residents. The DOJ should reimburse Alamance County the full costs of successfully defending their lawsuit,” Walker said.

Mind you DOJ is appealing the U.S. District judge’s not guilty ruling.

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Richard Burr’s viewing habits

I guess it’s not so much that Sen. Richard Burr admitted he didn’t watch the Republican presidential debate–during which Sen. Ted Cruz may have revealed classified information —-but that he admitted he was watching “The Voice” instead.

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