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Archive for October 9th, 2009

Surprise —developers protecting their interests

Guilford County Commissioner Mike Winstead (did he add some highlights to his hair?) is again taking heat for being less than excited about fellow Commissioner Steve Arnold’s incentive plan because it doesn’t include tax breaks for building houses and apartment complexes. Fair enough —- I think tax breaks for building apartment complexes is about as good an idea as using federal stimulus money to build a hotel.

Which brings us to east Greensboro, where there’s been considerable discussion about District 2 City Council candidate Jim Kee’s development interests near the White Street landfill. I concede the point that Kee couldn’t expect to win the District 2 seat by advocating the reopening of the landfill. But the good doctor backs me up, based on comments by Mayor Yvonne Johnson at last night’s mayoral candidate forum:

At the tail end of the meeting, the Mayor spoke about a desire to evaluate the use of technology for waste disposal. But she also made what I consider to be a glaring error.

She said that if the White Street Landfill was to be opened to residential trash to a greater extent, it would jeopardize development that has taken place recently on that side of town; and would threaten future development there as well.

There are two problems with this statement. First, I am not sure it is correct. It is not clear why development would be threatened if the landfill is well managed, and utilizes state of the art practices for minimizing odors.

But her statement also suggests that development concerns should trump having waste disposal options that are cost-effective. Handling of trash is a fundamental, nuts-and-bolts activity of local government; and it is folly to suggest it should be rendered subordinate to protect development considerations. Those priorities, in my mind, are backward.

This is something to keep in mind as the City Council election heats up. On a side note, I realize it looks like I’m picking on Jim Kee while simultaneously cutting Robbie Perkins slack. Put it this way —should Kee get elected and provide stronger leadership than his predecessor Goldie Wells, I’ll be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, just like Perkins. Then again, how hard would it be to provide better leadership than Wells?

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Slipping a 747 through a toll booth

Democrats Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre join North Carolina Republicans in voting against hate crimes legislation attached to the defense appropriations bill.

Let me ask a question —- if Democrats can attach hate-crimes legislation to a defense bill, is it so hard to believe they’d attach health care reform to a totally unrelated piece bill?

Answer—–no.

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Get ready—- Dell plays hardball

The Winston-Salem Journal’s Scott Sexton warns taxpayers that Dell might put up a fight, citing Alleghany County’s experience in trying to recoup incentives from a manufacturing company that shuttered a pant.

Meanwhile, Richard Craver talks to Dell employees, who wished to remain anonymous because “they had been told by Dell officials that their severance package, ranging from eight to 12 weeks of pay and other benefits, would be terminated if they spoke with the media.”

Update: Gov. Bev Perdue has “made plain to Dell the state expects back every “red cent” it’s owed in tax breaks and other benefits because it didn’t meet job and investment performance standards.”

Again, why m I not reassured?

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Neighborhood association wants in the hotel biz

The Olde Asheboro Neighborhood Association wants to use $40 million in federal stimulus funds to build a hotel on the the corner of South Elm and Lee Streets that they would own and operate.

Here’s the money quote:

“B” Akins, president of the Ole Asheboro Neighborhood Association, said the project would generate an immeasurable wealth of pride.

“We’re teaching our young folk that Greensboro is the gateway to the future,” Akins said. “That’s what we tell them everyday, but then when you look at our community, you tell a different story.”

Akins knows that the site could be developed by a brand-name hotel, but the profits would go to that company, not into the hands of Ole Asheboro residents who would manage the hotel.

She and her colleagues have been working on the proposal for months, presenting it to the commission for the first time Thursday. They will meet with the commission to see the project through.

“They’re about the dollars,” she said. “We’re about the dollars, but we’re also about empowering our community.”

The redevelopment commission will meet in the next two weeks to discuss the project again.

I have no doubt the residents of Ole Asheboro are well-meaning people, but this has red flags all over it.

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Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

No joke. Now just sit back and wait for the reaction.

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