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Summer of SB 36

N&R update on Sen. Trudy Wade’s SB 36 (now HB 263) restructuring the Greensboro City Council. Looks like the bill will spend the summer in a joint House-Senate committee.

Meanwhile, Doug Clark lists the high and low points of House debate on the bill.

The high point, according to Clark? When Rep. John Blust quoted —-gasp—-the Bible!—–when stating his opposition.

Funny, seemed to me after reading all the debate —especially on social media —in the aftermath of Supreme Court decisions that the Bible was one of the big losers last week and definitely out of vogue among truly enlightened politicians.

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GCS salaries flat

Rhino analysis of Guilford County Schools salaries:

For one thing, the man at the top of the list, Guilford County School Superintendent Mo Green, has turned out to be a true public servant. In 2009, Green was hired at a salary of $250,000 a year, which made him by far the highest paid local government official. Six years later, in 2015, Green is still being paid $250,000 a year. The Guilford County Board of Education has repeatedly offered Green raises and he has consistently turned them down.

By comparison, in 2009, the highest paid Greensboro employee was Coliseum Director Matt Brown, who was being paid $212,000. In 2015, Brown has pulled way past Green and is now being paid $270,000 a year.

So the man who is in charge of running the largest entertainment facility in the county is now being paid more than the man who is in charge of educating the children of the county. If that doesn’t say a multitude about where our society places, or misplaces, its priorities, I can’t think of what would.

…Both the city and the county should look at the school salaries and realize that top employees don’t have to receive huge raises every year.

Complete list here.

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Innovation district. Cool. What’s an innovation district?

Big Winston-Salem Journal front-pager on the challenges facing downtown’s Innovation Quarter:

Its gradual shift from a research park to an innovation district in recent years has put Wake Forest Innovation Quarter on a path to developing a work, live, learn and play culture and community in Winston-Salem.

This hub of activity on about 200 acres is rising from old tobacco factories and warehouses in eastern downtown, creating a knowledge-based innovation ecosystem to include developers, people, product partners, technical and legal teams, workforce training, incubators, and capital and management for sustainability. It is a place for research, business and education in biomedical science, information technology and advanced materials.

“I think that the creation of this innovation ecosystem and the way people mix together and think together really has wonderful opportunity here for innovation, entrepreneurial behavior and the creation of high-value products,” said Eric Tomlinson, president of Innovation Quarter and the chief innovation officer for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Of course, you’ve got to mix that with the growth of education, which Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

No surprise the Journal holds up the N.C. Research Campus as an example, and not in an unfavorable way. More than a few interesting findings down at the campus in the seven or so years it’s been up and running, but unfortunately not a lot of return for the taxpayers.

Note the Journal’s “unscientific poll” on the right sidebar. Fair enough, a larger percentage of readers think Innovation Quarter is ‘the way to the future’ as opposed to ‘waste of taxpayers’ money.’ But what about the 32 percent that have ‘never heard of it’?

Front-page article in the Journal will get the word out.

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Carbon tax? Great idea.

Let’s count the ways —it will help the big energy companies, stunt economic growth, hurt the poor and –last but not least—have no positive impact on the environment.

Other than that—says CJ’s Roy Cordato—it’s a great idea.

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Your SB 36 -HB 263 update

Vote on Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill restructuring the Greensboro City Council —now folded into Rep. Pat Hurley’s bill restructuring the Trinity City Council —is delayed again.

N&R doesn’t like it, calling Wade’s bill the “Frankenstein bill”:

Interesting turn here is political intrigue, as N&R gets hold of correspondence from Hurley —noting that the council has just gone further to the left with the addition of District 3 representative Justin Outling to replace Zack Matheny —and a response from Rep. John Blust:

First of all, there is the claim that “referendums have not worked in Greensboro for 30 years because the Council does whatever they please.”

The referendums mentioned here were all held more than 30-40 years ago. The referendums were between going to districts instead of being all at-large. Voters like me favored at-large and I can still remember my mother remonstrating against the “ward system.” In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, voters of Greensboro chose to keep all at-large rather than go to all districts. The African-American community cried racism.

Finally, in 1983-1984, city leaders who favored at-large compromised with those who favored districts and passed the current hybrid system of three at-large, a mayor at large and five districts. There was a committee that worked out this compromise, which has been in place ever since. There was no outcry against it at the time and there hasn’t been appreciable agitation to change this until now. In fact, this issue did not come up until December, 2014.

Turns out it was High Point Rep. John Faircloth who —according to Hurley’s email–“presented at Caucus, referendums have not worked in Greensboro for 30 years because the Council does whatever they please.”

Best example of that I can conjure up is Gboro’s aquatic center—fair enough voters approved the recreation bond, funding for the aquatic center was not specifically on the ballot. The bond more than likely would have failed if it were.

Anyway what does Faircloth know about Gboro? But Blust missed a slam dunk when he took up argument of a referendum. That’s the point the Rhino’s John Hammer makes time and again— that the current council makeup wasn’t decided by referendum.

I prefer to be optimistic —should HB 263 pass, perhaps there will be no outcry for at least another 30 years.

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Obamacare ruling and North Carolina…

According to Sen. Phil Berger:

Berger said in a statement that “nothing has changed to address the multitude of concerns with Medicaid expansion. We cannot afford our current Medicaid system, much less an expanded one.”

Meanwhile Gov. Pat McCory says “we must build a North Carolina-based reform plan that focuses on healthier patients at a cost taxpayers can afford,” while DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos says she’s having “meaningful dialogue with federal health officials on what a North Carolina expansion of Medicaid would look like.”

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Talking about you, Mayor Pro Tem

High Point Enterprise reports City Human Relations Director Al Heggins in May filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the City of High Point.

While EEOC complaints can be broad —HPE explains people file complaints “to the federal government alleging discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information”—- exactly whom Heggins is complaining is not clear either, except for maybe one city official—Mayor Pro Tem Jim Davis:

“I don’t think she really named anybody, except the mayor pro tem,” Davis said. “She alluded to management, and a white male, and a black female, and things like that. Since I’m the current mayor pro tem, I assume she’s alluding to me.”

Reasonable assumption. What also isn’t clear is after Heggins claims she was assaulted—no details on the assault as of yet —- why she reported it to Deputy City Manager Randy McCaslin—who allegedly told her to let it go—– instead of directly to the police department.

Still a lot of questions here. Stay tuned.

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Gboro-Randolph megasite logo

gbororandolphmegasite-750xx599-336-0-162

Nearby residents don’t be alarmed as site work begins.

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Your man bites dog headline

As North Carolina’s tweaked voter ID law heads to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk, it’s a little surprising to see a newspaper —the Burlington Times-News specifically —editorialize on voter fraud:

Voter fraud while not widespread is also not imaginary. But labeling reasonable efforts to ensure that fraud doesn’t taint elections as voter suppression isn’t exactly accurate either. And loading the voter rolls with the names of people who don’t care enough about their civic duty to provide county officials with a name and correct address is an open invitation to fraud.

True the Times-News may be more conservative than your average daily newspaper, but still…..

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HP human relations dir. fears for her life

High Point Enterprise reports city human relations director Al Heggins has been place on paid administrative leave after the HPE obtained an email making allegations of institutional racism:

Heggins said her department is required by the city’s ordinance to deal with issues of race, and she’s tried to take a proactive position.

“I’ve been systematically attacked as an individual and the department has been publicly maligned, along with my name,” she wrote in the email. “Please understand that black people are being killed. I am a black woman.

Other allegations include police refusing to take action after she reported being assaulted and “unnamed City Council member” bringing her “literature about the history of the Confederacy that included a picture of the Confederate flag.”

Stay tuned.

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