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Talking Gboro political probabilities

What’s more likely to happen…

Warren Buffett accepts Rhino publisher Roy Carroll’s $16 million bid to buy the hard-left N&R?

Or former Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston —a supporter of Sen. Trudy Wade’s plan to restructure the Greensboro City Council—successfully convinces the Justice Department to have Gboro’s current council structure out of compliance?

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Thom Tillis, the FCC and muni broadband

Sen. Thom Tillis issues a statement following the FCC’s overrule of North Carolina law placing restrictions on municipal broadband, which was passed in 2011 when Tillis was state House speaker:

“It is disturbing, yet not surprising, that the FCC and Chairman (Tom) Wheeler are attempting to deny the sovereign right of states to make their own laws,” Tillis said in a statement. “After witnessing how some local governments wasted taxpayer dollars and accumulated millions in debt through poor decision-making, the legislatures of states like North Carolina and Tennessee passed commonsense, bipartisan laws that protect hardworking taxpayers and maintain the fairness of free-market competition.”

According to Tillis’ statement, Wilson lost money on the project: $2.1 million in 2008, $1.1 million in 2009. $1.4 million in 2010, $1.06 million in 2011, and $1.3 million in 2012.

It made a profit of $723,881 in 2013.

Tillis has also introduced draft legislation along with Rep. of Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, which also had its broadband law overturned when Chattanooga joined Wilson in the petition to the FCC.

Stay tuned— most of the coverage on this issue makes the assumption it will end up in court. But will N>C’s attorney general step up and go to bat for law passed by evil Republicans?

As for net neutarlity—5 things you need to know.

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Gboro co-op wants $600k

N&R reports Greensboro’s Renaissance Community Co-Op grocery store is shooting for 2105 opening, with a little help from both the city and Guilford County:

John Jones, the president of the co-op’s board of directors, said nearly 450 co-op memberships have been sold at $100 apiece and the co-op has commitments of $1.2 million for the project. But the group has requested $600,000 from the city of Greensboro — two-thirds as a loan, one-third as a grant — to get the store opened. Earlier this month, city staff members let the co-op know that the city may only be able to offer $100,000.

“It was disappointing to hear, but we kept talking and looking for a way to make this happen this year,” Jones said.

And we know how loans work with the City Council — just ask and it’s forgiven. County commissioners might be a tougher nut to crack. Interesting comment from Commissioner Ray Trapp—a Democrat –who said “people who run for public office are caring people…..we may have different philosophies, but ultimately that’s the reason you run for public office.”

Gee you’d never know that reading the N&R these days.

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W-S: Billion-dollar downtown investments

Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership announces more than $1.2 billion in downtown investment since 2000:

The nonprofit group listed 88 downtown investment projects since 2000 that have either been completed, are under way or for which a firm commitment has been made.

The combined capital investment value is $1.23 billion, topped by the $106 million spent on Wake Forest BioTech Place and the $100 million commitment by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center toward a major medical education facility. Both buildings are in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

The investment is divided into eight categories: health and technology (eight projects, total $445.4 million); infrastructure (10 projects, total $188.4 million); institutional and public development (15 projects, total $181.6 million); residential (15 projects, total $140 million); multiple use (eight projects, total $95.1 million); office (five projects, total $88.4 million); arts and entertainment (five projects, total $50.3 million); and commercial (22 projects, total $42.2 million).

Fair enough the report does break down the investments into categories, but it’s still signifivant to note how much of that investment is taxpayer subsidized —-notably BB&T Ballpark, Winston-Salem’s downtown baseball stadium.

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Two views of UNC Poverty Center

Surprise —the N&R and the John Locke Foundation have differing views on the UNC Board of Governors study group draft recommendation that the university’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity be shuttered.

Starting with the N&R:

The center was the brainchild of former senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, who made poverty his primary issue. He also needed a place to maintain his visibility until launching his next campaign, so the center had apparent political origins.

Its present director, Gene Nichol, is an academic — a former UNC law dean and president of William and Mary College. He has criticized policies of North Carolina’s Republican leaders that he says hurt the poor. In response, he’s been challenged by conservatives, including writers at the Civitas Institute, who have called for closing the center because of its “political activities.”

…Because the Poverty Center operates on an annual budget of just $120,000 raised from private sources, it does seem to have been targeted for political reasons. UNC Law Dean Jack Boger said: “The BOG special committee rests its recommendation on no genuine reason beyond a barely concealed desire to stifle the outspokenness of the center’s director, Professor Gene Nichol, who continues to talk about the state’s appalling poverty with unsparing candor.” Is that political?

JLF chair John Hood says the conspiracy on the part of eeevil Republicans to shutter the center might rank as “the most improbable, elaborate, and ineffective” in N.C. history:

the poverty center hasn’t exactly established itself as a bustling center of scholarship. I haven’t talked to the UNC board members who conducted the recent review. (I can also confirm that Art Pope, who chairs the board of the foundation I now run, had no involvement with it.) But the other day I went on the poverty center’s website. Most of the posted research appears to have been produced many years ago. Most of the listed events were showings of films, presentations by advocacy groups, or presentations on topics other than poverty.

Maybe the study simply concluded —as was its charge—was simply ineffective, ironically a point made by none than the N&R’s ultra-liberal columnist Susan Ladd, who recently described Greensboro as “a city where affordable housing is scarce, jobs are hard to come by and the working homeless are making minimum wage.”

Which —also ironically makes the case for City Council change, doesn’t it?

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Latest attempt to rehab War Memorial Stadium

N.C. A&T and the City of Greensboro are in negotiations over a potential partnership to rehab 89-year-old War Memorial Stadium:

“This discussion has been going on for years. It isn’t something new,” Greensboro City Councilman Jamal Fox said. “We’re still in discussions, but I plan to make something happen, and I’m committed to seeing this through.”

The stadium complex, constructed in 1926, sits on Yanceyville Street at the edge of A&T’s campus. The Greensboro Grasshoppers — during those days, named the Hornets, then the Bats — played in the stadium until 2005. Various tournaments are held there, but A&T’s baseball team uses the complex most often, Fox said.

The current negotiations are only the latest stage in years of discussions between the city and the university about the stadium.

City Manager Jim Westmoreland says if negotiations with A&T fall through —a March 6 deadline has been set– then the city “will continue to seek opportunities to improve the stadium through other potential partnerships.” Good luck with that —not a lot has panned out since Gboro’s minor league baseball team moved uptown a decade ago.

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Surprise headline of the day…..

…From the Winston-Salem Journal:

Price tag for Central Library could rise to $31 million

Original price tag is $28 million, but the extra $3 million “would just get the county closer to the vision of the designer,” according to Forsyth County Deputy Manager Damon Sanders-Pratt.

Note Commissioner Walter Marshall’s comment that he “didn’t think the $28 million would do what they said it would do.”

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Gboro council unanimously rejects Wade’s plan

The Greensboro City Council unanimously voted to oppose Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill that restructuring the council. Tony Wilkins, initially the lone council member who expressed support for Wade’s bill, joined the rest of the council in opposing the bill:

“I’ve said from the beginning there are some things I support about the bill and some things I don’t,” Wilkins said after the vote. “I support a referendum on it. I’m not going to sit up here and say that people shouldn’t have the right to vote on this. They should.”

Wilkins said he supports the portion of the bill that cuts the City Council from nine members to seven and a mayor who is elected at-large. He also supports those seven members coming from districts and doing away with the two at-large members who now serve on the board.

He opposes granting the mayor, who would otherwise vote only in the case of a tie, the power to veto actions of the council.

The council will hold a public meeting on Wade’s bill on March 3.

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HP Chamber of Commerce back from the brink….

…Of financial ruin, as the Enterprise reports:

Debt service on a $2 million loan that funded renovations and improvements to its N. Main Street headquarters nearly overwhelmed the organization in 2013.

The crisis was averted, expenses have been cut and revenues are growing to the point the chamber is “profitable,” according to its leaders.

“We want the community to see the High Point Chamber is back,” said Chief Operating Officer Rachel Moss Gauldin. “We have gotten through the recovery, and now we’re focused on doing what we do best. We feel like the community has confidence in us and so does the bank. The loan has not been an issue.”

Chamber’s first priority back from the brink? Renaming two city streets.

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Re: Fired UNCG employee reaches settlement

N&R reports fired UNCG employee Lyda Carpen jas reached a settlement with the university:

Carpen, one of the “UNCG 3,” will get about $29,000 in salary and $9,000 in legal bills paid under a settlement she has reached with the university after she appealed her firing.
Seth Cohen, Carpen’s attorney, confirmed Friday afternoon that Carpen and UNC-Greensboro Chancellor Linda Brady signed the agreement earlier in the day.

Three former university employees faced felony charges for allegedly falsifying time sheets.

Carpen, who was the manager and graphic artist in the University Relations Department, was fired and arrested in September for, UNCG said, using university equipment for freelance jobs.

With the settlement, a public hearing with the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings in Raleigh will be avoided, meaning we probably have heard the last of Paul Mason, the controversial vice chancellor in the middle of controversy surrounding the firing of Carpen and two photographers from University Relations. Mason worked his last day at UNCG Feb. 6.

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