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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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N&R: Hagan versus Snyder

I happen to know Lexington attorney and U.S. Senate candidate James Snyder. He is indeed a fine man and conscientious conservative, but is he the candidate with the best shot at defeating incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan?

The N&R thinks so:

Snyder also criticizes excessive executive authority by President Obama; the Affordable Care Act, which he says replaced a system in need of repair with a program that’s too complex and wasteful; unrestricted free trade; too much federal intervention in education; and an unsustainable retirement system. He proposes to replace Social Security for newborn Americans with a $1,500 grant to be invested at birth, which could grow to appropriately $1 million by the time the individual reaches age 65.

These ideas haven’t given Snyder much traction against better-financed opponents. But, while Thom Tillis and Greg Brannon, who are leading in the polls, and other Republicans contend for ground on the farthest right edge of the party, Snyder offers creative solutions to the nation’s problems. He also has a personal manner that would never embarrass North Carolinians.

Fair enough, the N&R endorsed Snyder for lieutenant governor when he ran in 2004 against eventual winner Bev Perdue. But our local paper of record is and always has been in the tank for Hagan, so I can’t help but think they’re endorsing the candidate who has the least chance of defeating her in November.


So a guy could bring 400 jobs tomorrow…

N&R reports on the ever-evolving $1 million economic development contest that council member Tony Wilkins described as a “mess.”

But more interesting was the unposted sidebar where council member and 6th District Congressional candidate Zack Matheny calls out county commissioners for Gboro’s lack of economic development:

And, Matheny said, a mostly conservative Guilford County Board of Commissioners is discouraging businesses that might ask for incentives.

A closer collaboration might change that, he said.

“I was with a guy last night who could bring 400 jobs here tomorrow,” Matheny said, but he won’t even talk to the county.”

I guess the question is if it were that simple, then —for the love of mite— why doesn’t Matheny’s guy just do it —bring 400 jobs here overnight —instead of complaining that county government is holding him back?

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Gboro’s MWBE quagmire

The Rhino’s Paul Clark says the City of Greensboro is getting sucked into Guilford County Schools’ MWBE quagmire:

It is a fact that there was discrimination against black people, and companies, in America. But another fact is that women, in American culture, rarely went into construction until recently. And why there would be a governmental interest in finding construction companies owned by, say, Samoans, is a mystery.

Contractors can show that they have made a good-faith effort to hire minorities, but that can be difficult. Councilmember Yvonne Johnson recently grilled the owner of a company that was chosen for a specialized project at the White Street Landfill. The project would have only two employees

Fellow council member Sharon Hightower so far has been the most vocal MWBE advocate. She held up a paving contract— not like the roads need it after this winter— because she wasn’t satisfied with Blythe Construction’s MWBE participation.

Hightower also questioned MWBE participation for a project whereupon the general contractor told her there weren’t that many companies who tackle water treatment plant incinerators —period— much less women and minority owned businesses.

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Meanwhile, in L.A.

Barely treading water:

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission presented a catalog of failings that it said were a unique burden to the city: widespread poverty and job stagnation, huge municipal pension obligations, a struggling port and tourism industry and paralyzing traffic that would not be eased even with a continuing multibillion-dollar mass transit initiative.

The mayor’s answer? Move the Late Show to L.A. when Stephen Colbert takes over.

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Grievance against HP city manager resolved

High Point Enterprise reports the grievance filed against HP City Manager Strib Boynton by human relations director Al Heggins as been resolved.

But —you guessed it —state personnel laws prevent personnel matters from public discussion:

City Council members said they were authorized to say nothing about the matter publicly other than that it had been “resolved.” Council has held multiple closed sessions to discuss personnel matters since the grievance was brought.

By law, any council vote in connection with the case would have to be taken publicly, in open session. Council has not taken any public action to date on the matter.

The employment status of Boynton and Heggins remains unchanged, according to the city.

Heggins also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has also been resolved.

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Zack Matheny’s campaign ad

Heard the 6th Congressional District candidate and Greensboro City Council member’s radio ad in the car; here’s his TV ad.

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New Dash stadium lease

Winston-Salem City Council unanimously approves a new financing deal for BB&T Ballpark, home of the Class-A Dash:

Under the deal’s provisions, the White Sox will pay $8 million to buy into the team. The new money will be used to pay off outstanding team loans as well as paying down part of a short-term $15 million construction loan that the team secured in 2009.

The team will use $2 million to reduce that debt to $13 million. The city will then pay off the short-term loan with new long-term financing. The team will pay the city $1.8 million annually, with the amount gradually increasing over 25 years to pay off that $13 million loan, plus $18 million in loans provided earlier.

The deal retains the city ownership of the ballpark, since the team’s $15 million construction loan had used the city-owned stadium as collateral.

While it’s a good thing that the stadium will no longer be collateralized, it’s uncertain how much the city will profit form the new deal. The earlier spin was the city would make $4 million(!) over the course of the deal, but now city officials are backing off that projection:

Although some city leaders had said recently that the city could actually net $4 million over the 25-year term of the new deal, Lisa Saunders, the city’s chief financial officer, sought to downplay that chance in a conversation last week.

“The $4 million is part of our projection, but the debt is a floating-rate debt,” Saunders said. “There are some projections about what the rate might be, but we don’t know what it might be for the next 25 years. The city’s intent was to break even and not make money one way or the other.”

…City Manager Lee Garrity said in an email that he sent to council members on Friday that under the existing agreement with the Dash, the city was projected to net about $1 million over 25 years – although Garrity, like Saunders, couched the figure in uncertainty by saying that too depended on actual interest rates.

“The city is not trying to make money off the team,” Garrity said.

Take into consideration the maintenance of the stadium over the course of 25 years, it seems to me that that city if anything will be losing money.

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