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Archive for February, 2010

Bailing out PTP

Pretty good article by the N&R’s Richard Barron on the corporate takeover of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, another one of those —-as commenter ‘Farmartist’ puts it —– ‘private bureaucracies’ that ‘market’ the Triad.

But I’ll cut to the chase: BB&T’s Kelly King and his gang are coming to the rescue after PTP ran through the $15 million federal WIRED grant that helped the region achieve double-digit unemployment.

But —to quote Dennis Miller — it’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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Privatizing the Greensboro Coliseum?

The N&R weighs in on more talk about privatizing the Greensboro Coliseum. Personally, I’ll believe it when I see it; there’s a reason —-which we probably can’t begin to comprehend —– why Matt Brown is the city’s highest-paid employee.

As for City Council member Robbie Perkins’ idea to create a coliseum authority, remember that an ‘authority’ is his answer to everything. Perkins’ idea during the White Street landfill controversy was to form a solid waste authority so the region could pool its trash disposal.

That idea was shot down by then-council member Mike Barber, who argued other Triad cities wouldn’t go for it because — what a concept—they added capacity to their landfills.

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Your Saturday morning roundup

*MJ buys the Bobcats; Heels head to Wake for another spanking a 2 o’clock tipoff; Update: See, I corrected my ‘foolisly premature prognostication.’ Give me credit for that;

*The Winston-Salem Journal has a big front-pager on Gerald Hege’s run for Davidson County sheriff:

Seven years after leaving the office in disgrace — removed after pleading guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice — Hege is back, making a bid for his old job.

This time, he is doing it without help from the party he helped build into the county’s dominant political force.

And he will be trying to defeat a popular Republican incumbent. Sheriff David Grice, who was appointed in 2004 to finish Hege’s unexpired term, is running for a second full term.

Hege said this week that he doesn’t need the support of Republican Party leaders to win.

*The N&R to McLeansville residents: Screw you. I simply don’t understand why the local paper of record —which is supposedly looking out for us —-is taking city government’s side, even if the judge’s ruling nullifying the annexation isn’t exactly clear;

*I ran into Tony Wilkins at Sushi Republic yesterday and he told me that Greensboro City Council member Trudy Wade had filed to run for Katie Dorsett’s state Senate seat. Then I read in this morning’s N&R that Dorsett will not seek reelection. My gut reaction was Dorsett is afraid to run against Wade, which may be true. Then again, I didn’t know that Dorsett is 77 years old;

*The North Carolina’s Marathon’s less than a month away, but there’s another race the same day that’s geared toward beer drinkers with a running habit —hence the name Beerrun. Guess which race I’m entering;

*I also have a mountain biking habit, so I’m heading here for some of the best single track in the Southeast. Same philosophy applies as above.

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Face it —Google already controls us

Let’s review —- the City of Greensboro gears up to land Google; I took my shots, at the very least providing an interesting article on Google’s ulterior motive to prod others into paying for infrastructure to run their applications; and –ta-da —- the local paper of record produces an editorial suggesting that Greensboro go into the broadband biz, holding two municipal broadband services up as examples.

Looks like Google’s plan is working perfectly.

You can probably imagine that Michael Sanera’s 2009 JLF report pretty much certifies Wilson’s Greenlight network a money loser, reasoning that the $28 million debt will have a longer life than the technology itself.

Even if new companies are attracted to Greensboro, city officials would certainly throw in more economic incentives, unable to resist hitting up the taxpayer yet again.

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Evidence that schools need SROs

The tension between Guilford County Board of Education member Amos Quick and Sheriff B.J. Barnes escalates after the sheriff’s office sends out a press release regarding three fights at Eastern Guilford High School that resulted in arrests.

Quick “questioned the timing of the sheriff’s news release when the debate about officers and Tasers in schools is under discussion.” However, fellow board member Garth Hebert, the topic of discussion earlier in the week between me and loyal commenter Kachina, defended Barnes, adding this is more than enough evidence that schools need SROs.

All I know is someone has to spread the word about what’s going on in schools. The GCS spinmeisters sure aren’t doing it, and the N&R sure wasn’t doing it. I fear now that the Rhino’s Paul Clark, who was doing a great job, is now too distracted by his duties covering High Point city government to keep on top of the education beat.

If my vote counts for anything, I say the Rhino scraps the HP beat. The Enterprise provides adequate coverage of the goings on in that town, which isn’t saying much, period.

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Dell plant gets life extension

Speak of the devil.

You may have picked up on the fact that the computer plant I referenced in this Google post was Dell, purchased by taxpayers a few years ago.

Turns out Dell gets yet another extension, as officials announce the plant will stay open through July.

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City planners will be city planners…

No matter the state of the economy.

The Rhino’s John Hammer notes the recession hasn’t hit the City of Greensboro’s planning department:

There are some departments where people have to be sitting around playing computer solitaire or researching their family tree on line. The home building industry has hit hard times. Some of the long-time, local homebuilders such as Sandra Anderson Builders and Kavanaugh Homes have gone out of business, and some of the national builders have closed up shop in the area. There is simply a lot less building going on, which means far fewer rezoning requests, and far fewer inspections are required by the Engineering and Inspections Department.

Yet, the Planning Department and the Engineering and Inspections Department are operating with the same staffs they had in the heyday of construction. The total number of employees in those departments is 168.5, and four positions have been cut, or about 2 percent. Considering what is going on in the housing and development market, this tiny level of reduction is ridiculous.

With this in mind, Winston-Salem city planners worry that the supply of developable land will run short in, oh, 50 or 60 years. It’s a familiar warning to help justify their plans for higher-density development. Personally, I’m not worried. Hopefully the economy will turn around before 2012, but I ‘m skeptical, given the direction government is heading right now.

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No borrowing for broadband

Today’s N&R lead editorial expresses reasonable skepticism about the City of Greensboro’s application as a Google test site, even mentioning possible ulterior motives behind Google’s desire to get into the broadband biz.

Then they write:

But losing may not be losing. Already, the gigabyte-per-second thinkers here are asking whether Greensboro could push for high-speed broadband even without Google. The small city of Wilson has done exactly that, borrowing $28 million to build a fiber-to-the-home network and start an entity called Greenlight to run it. It now offers high-speed Internet, cable TV and phone services, which customers can bundle for $100 a month. The city of Salisbury is moving in the same direction.

Nuh-uh. Greensboro simply can’t borrow more money, and the local paper of record should know this.

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No word from GSO hotel developers

I speculated last month it’s entirely possible that Greensboro’s proposed stimulus -financed downtown hotel could end up like many other grand front-page projects that just never happened.

Is it possible I could be right? Project developers are suddenly missing in action:

City staff members said they haven’t heard from the hotel developers in weeks and assume they are working on the project’s financing before they move forward.

“They have to have that to basically make the bonds marketable,” said John Shoffner, city economic development manager. “I don’t think that’s an easy task to accomplish.”

Potential bond projects have to be approved by the Local Government Commission by April 15 in order to take advantage of the program.

“The bonds are supposed to be issued by April 15,” Shoffner said. “The clock is ticking on these things.”

The bond market is still not good. Guilford County Schools is getting ready to find that out.

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Google’s motivations

google

Cute little crate the City of Greensboro is sending to Google, eh? Looks to me like the marketing handiwork of the usual suspects. The fact that assistant city manager Denise Turner is in charge of the application tells me this process is simply to give her something to do, because nobody really knows what she does.

Despite appearances, I’m honestly not trying to be Mr. Negative about our local government jumping through hoops for Google. I talked to a geek buddy of mine yesterday and he pointed out that —even if the city offers up incentives —– high-speed Internet is something everyone would purchase, as opposed to —for example —- a computer plant that would employ a small percentage of the population and would never pay enough property tax to cover government spending. Point taken.

Still, this interesting Computer World article questions Google’s motivations for getting into the broadband business.

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