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New PTIA authority chair

It’s Koury Corp. president and CFO Steve Showfety, who replaces attorney Henry Isaacson in a ‘rare split vote.’

Showfety was chosen over fellow airport authority member and Forsyth County Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt, who was seeking to become the first female chair in the authority’s 70-plus year history.

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DHHS food stamp mess

Department of Health and Human Services is requesting an an additional $4 million to cover the cost of the food stamp backlog. Cost include overtime and pay for temporary workers, which Guilford County employed as it pushed to clear out its who knows how many backlogged food stamp cases.

As for DHHS Secretary Dr. Aldona Wos taking heat from “several Democratic legislators for initially placing the blame for the backlog on county health officials,” that appears not to be the case here in Guilford County, at least based on the Rhino’s excellent reporting which said Wos was blindsided by Guilford’s backlog along with everyone else.

Surprise —NCFAST is a government program that’s running over budget and not keeping up with demand. What I kept noticing in the Journal’s write-up was demand for food stamps has increased since 2008 –the year of Hope and Change.

What’s the answer? There are two, as stated by Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange:

“Until DHHS and County DSS hire and train more staff – or the economy recovers and people don’t need food stamps or Medicaid – we will have periods of backlog. The state and some counties are trying to get along with a reduced workforce for the work they have to do.”

I’m personally hoping for choice ‘b.’ Either the president doesn’t want that or he’s totally incapable of making it reality. Again, I choose ‘b.’

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Carroll pulls the trigger on Dixie

Biz Journal reports high-profile developer and Rhino Times publisher Roy Carroll has officially purchased the Dixie apartment building, clearing the way for his proposed mixed-use development across Eugene Street from New Bridge Bank Park.

The N&R’s Jeri Rowe wrote about the Dixie last month amid speculation that Carroll was working on the deal. At that time, Carroll’s response when asked if he was going to buy the building was “Who knows?”

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Hagan breaks out the attack ads

Just now heard on Sen. Kay Hagan’s attack ad against House Speaker Thom Tillis.

The N&R’s Doug Clark pooh-poohed my conspiracy theory surrounding their endorsement of Jim Snyder for the Republican nomination, saying ‘we just like Snyder.’ If he says so, but is now any doubt about which candidate Hagan doesn’t want to face come November?

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Guilford County DSS: No management managing

The Rhino’s Scott Yost digs further into problems at Guilford County Department of Social Services, which came into full public view with last month’s food stamp backlog.

Interim DSS director Myra Thompson sounds like she’s doing her best to clean up the mess.

That said:

One Guilford County DSS employee told the Rhino Times this week that the problems in the department go very deep and this latest crisis is just one manifestation of those issues.

“No management manages,” the employee wrote in an email. “No policy is completely followed. People are authorized benefits that are not thoroughly evaluated. Workers have to keep authorizing clients that have not been reviewed fully. People aren’t denied automatically because they would appeal wrongful denials.”

The employee went on to state that in the past there has been favoritism in promotions and that some eligible clients for services have been denied and forgotten about, while other applicants weren’t vetted properly before receiving benefits. The employee also said that DSS employees have been instructed not to talk to the media.

County Manager Marty Lawing adds “we’re still trying to pinpoint exactly how things happened like they did.”

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N&R endorses Matheny in 6th District race

N&R says it should be Greensboro City Council member Zack Matheny vs. Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis come November:

Matheny’s top issue in this campaign isn’t repealing Obamacare, opposing same-sex marriage, banning abortion, denying climate change or impeaching the president — topics that occupy some of the other candidates. It’s finding ways to create more jobs. He wants to promote regional cooperation to strengthen the local economy. As an example: leverage federal transportation funds to continue development at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Interesting the N&R says not a word about Matheny’s hard line toward the International Civil Rights Museum loan, which provoked the museum into adding some political fuel to the fire.

The Rhino’s John Hammer follows the money race in the 6th District and so far Matheny is third in what’s shaping up as a four-man race.

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W-S prostitution ring

Winston-Salem Journal reports:

When Winston-Salem police and a federal agent searched a house in the 4300 block of Robinhood Road last March, they found a naked woman lying on a mattress, a federal court document shows.

The woman told the investigators that she was Mexican national and had entered the United States illegally. She said she was forced to work as a prostitute after she was fired from her job cleaning houses in Raleigh.

“She claimed to have provided commercial sexual services to numerous men throughout her stay,” the document says.

The woman said she had been at the house, which is between Shattalon Drive and Milhaven Road, for three days.

The Journal digs into the federal court records of the madame, Ondina Lizeht Alonso-Hernandez, who was charged with human trafficking in 2010:

A year later, Alonso-Hernandez pleaded guilty to that charge in U.S. District Court in Greensboro. Her attorney, Stacy Rubain of Winston-Salem told Judge Catherine Eagles that Alonso-Hernandez grew up in Honduras, where her father physically abused her, her mother and her brothers, according to another document.

“I am not proud of what I did,” Alonzo-Hernandez said, according to transcript of her court hearing. “I am truly repentant for it. We are all human beings, and I think as human beings, we all do make mistakes.”

Eagles then sentenced Alonso-Hernandez to serve three years in prison, put her on two years of supervised probation after she is released and ordered her to surrender to a federal immigration officer to be deported, a court record shows.

The way the Journal describes it I assume Alonso-Hernandez is still in jail, though that would mean she served her full three years. At any rate, she’s obviously still in the business and not overly concerned about supervised probation or surrendering to immigration officers to be deported.

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Can a school board sue the state?

That’s the central question as attorneys made their respective cases in court yesterday. The issue? The Guilford County Board of Education’s lawsuit challenging the state’s teacher tenure policy:

Attorneys for both sides appeared in court Wednesday for a hearing on whether to grant a preliminary injunction. An injunction would protect the plaintiffs until the broader complaints about the law are resolved.

Districts have until June 30 to award new contracts to certain teachers who agree to waive the extra layer of job protection.

The plaintiffs say the law’s wording is too vague and that implementing the law as written leaves school officials vulnerable to litigation.

They also argue revoking tenure from vested teachers violates the state and U.S. constitutions.

…The state, represented by Special Deputy Attorney General Melissa Trippe, wants the lawsuit dismissed.

For a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs have the burden of establishing that the law is unconstitutional, Trippe said. There is a high standard for doing that — one the plaintiffs did not meet, she said.

She also said school boards are not part of a protected class, like teachers, so they can’t sue.

Next week’s ruling from Special Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton will decide whether or not to grant a preliminary injunction which would allow GCS to further delay awarding new contracts to certain teachers who agree to waive tenure.

Stay tuned.

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Gboro council signs off on civil rights museum loan

N&R reports the Greensboro City Council last night approved the entire $1.5 million loan for the International Civil Rights Museum:

The status of the loan has been in limbo for the last two months.

The council’s 7-2 decision clears the way for the financially struggling museum to receive the remaining $750,000 of the loan, if it meets the city’s requirements, including submitting clean audits.

Councilmen Zack Matheny and Tony Wilkins voted no.

“It feels good,” Deena Hayes-Greene, the chairwoman of the museum’s board of directors, said after the vote. “We are moving on.”

At least until the next light bill comes due. Stay tuned—this is not the last time the museum will come to the city for money. And the museum’s leadership is more than willing to play hardball to get it.

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W-S 1-cent tax hike?

Winston-Salem city staff is prepping the City Council and the public for a possible 1-cent property tax hike. And that doesn’t include the additional 2.5 cents to cover debt should the public approve a proposed $175 million bond.

As for the city-owned BB&T Ballpark, which doesn’t help the property tax rate no matter how they spin it, the Journal says the new financing deal a)fits like a glove; b) is a home run; or c) fill in your own baseball cliche’.

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