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Archive for September, 2010

Skip cuts museum satff

Guilford County Commissioner and International Civil Rights Museum chair Skip Alston says he doesn’t “want people to think we are having a shortfall by any stretch of the imagination,” although the museum hasn’t reached attendance goals and is now cutting staff.

Interesting that the N&R article highlights executive director Bamidele Demerson’s experience as a curator and “museum veteran” when he’s been there for the better part of the year and now will simply take on the job of doing more with less. Still no word on what the museum will do to attract more and better exhibits, which will keep local residents coming back.

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Davidson illegal immigration debate

As Davidson County cheers on the announcement that TIMCO — with the help of economic incentives —- will bring 500 jobs to Wallburg, commissioners debate penalties for contract workers who employ illegal immigrants.

Commissioners eventually voted down Fred McClure’s proposal, which would include “a fine of $100 per day from the date that the noncompliance was discovered be paid to the county until such was corrected.” Opposing commissioners say the county already checks insurance documentation and I-9 forms. Besides, as Commissioner Sam Watford argued, employing undocumented workers “is already against the law to begin with.”

Needless to say that doesn’t settle the issue, and commissioners will review McClure’s proposal at a later date.

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Spending revolt makes stop in Triad

The Spending Revolt National Bus Tour made stops in Greensboro and Burlington over the past couple of days. While in Burlington, Americans for Prosperity state director Dallas Woodhouse called on Sen. Tony Foriest to refuse to support extending temporary increases in sales and income taxes.

Note Foriest is in a tough race for his District 24 seat against Republican Rick Gunn in a rematch of the 2008 election. Gunn –who’s running on a platform of fiscal conservatism —is already running TV ads.

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Downtown G’boro performance center talk

Funny, I thought about the existing downtown venue as I reading this morning’s N&R article about revived talk of a new downtown performance center. Sure enough:

Greensboro leaders say it’s time the city has a first-rate downtown performance space of its own.

“From a personal perspective, it is something that needs to happen and needed to happen for a long time,” said Walker Sanders, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.

….But Keith Holliday, president and CEO of the Carolina Theatre at 310 S. Greene St., has his own location in mind.

Holliday proposes a renovation to expand the historic theater from 1,075 to 1,500 or 1,600 seats, and adding a second building next door.

“I think that 1,500 to 1,600 seats would satisfy a majority of the needs for a performing arts center in the region and do it in the much more charming place of a historic theater,” Holliday said.

Former Mayor Holliday still has some pull in this city, eh?

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High speed rail fantasy

Amtrak announces its vision for East Coast high-speed rail, with Pennsylavania Gov. Ed Rendell declaring it “isn’t a dream, it isn’t a fantasy, it isn’t an illusion.” Funny, that’s exactly what it seems like to me.

JLF’s Michael Sanera takes a look at North Carolina’s proposed not-so-high-speed rail, which will top out at 75 miles per hour. When you can run 80mph easily from here to Wilmington, why would you take a train?

On a related note, Antiplanner notes the sharp drop in highway deaths, claiming “those who oppose construction of new highways can be blamed for the lack of any reduction in highway fatalities between 1991 and 2007.”

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Newsflash: Journal criticizes incentives

I have to admit I’m a little confused by today’s Winston-Salem Journal lead editorial criticizing economic incentives, considering the fact that the Journal cheerleads for every incentives package local leaders put together to lure companies. No doubt the Journal would back any package for a company that would occupy the soon to be abandoned Dell plant.

The Journal concludes that “(u)ntil Congress steps in and sets national policy against incentives, they won’t go away, and if they remain in use elsewhere, North Carolina will be handcuffed without them.”

Meanwhile, Forsyth County commissioners offer up $150k for Pepsi.

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Alcoa -River Trust hearing

CJ editor Rick Henderson —- who’s dominated coverage of the Alcoa-Yadkin River Trust story, makes an appearance in this Winston-Salem Journal write-up as the hearing to renew Alcoa’s dam permit gets underway:

Alcoa’s backers say the state’s plan amounts to a government takeover of a private business.

Rick Henderson, the managing editor of the Carolina Journal, a publication of the John Locke Foundation, said one advantage of having a business operate the dams is that it can be fined or penalized if it runs afoul of water-quality issues.

“If the state takes charge of those facilities then the taxpayers become responsible for that sort of thing,” Henderson said.

With that in mind, River Keeper’s Dean Naujoks sums up the case:

“It gets down to ‘Did the state use the full scope of its authority in protecting the water quality of the Yadkin River and protecting the public health?’ And we think we have a very strong argument to say, ‘No, they did not,’” Naujoks said.

In other words, the state didn’t do its job, so let’s turn the dams over to……. the state.

There’s lot of that logic going around these days.

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What to do with $14 million

The Guilford County Board of Education will meet later this week to decide what to do with $14 million in federal stimulus funding.

Superintendent Mo Green prefers spending most or all of the money next year when the schools will face an even harder budget crunch,” while board member Garth Hebert warns “the district may have to cut as many as 1,400 employees if the district uses the allocation this year and the federal government does not provide more stimulus funds during the next two years.”

I’ll believe the school system laying off that many employees when I see it.

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N&R boosterism

Here’s what jumped out at me when reading yesterday’s N&R follow up to the proposed downtown Greensboro ice skating rink:

Interest in the festival also has been expressed by local ice skaters.

Downtown Greensboro Inc. started a survey Thursday to determine whether area residents would use the rink. By the end of the day Saturday, DGI had received 99 responses. Nearly 89 percent said yes.

“(That) demonstrates overwhelming interest,” said Ed Wolverton, DGI’s president and CEO. “It gives me a greater sense of confidence that people would use the facility. It give me a greater sense of confidence that we can exceed the budget.”

Organizers say they would be operating on a budget of $165,000 to $175,000. After raising the initial $65,000, the rest of the money would come from admission fees and skate rentals.

I wouldn’t necessarily say those number indicate overwhelming interest in a city of more than 250,000. I don’t know why, but I somehow see the city getting involved in this deal at some point.

I’ll also note that today’s N&R short stack editorial endorses the skating rink, not to mention providing public relations for the taxpayer-funded aquatic center and the taxpayer-funded $20 million Natural Science Center upgrade.

Meanwhile, ed page editor Allen Johnson (unposted) rushes to the defense of the downtown luxury hotel, pointing to other downtown projects that have received taxpayer-assistance, concluding that “the idea of staring a major downtown investment in the face and saying no to what amounts more to philosophical reasons than real dollars and cents seems not only silly, but foolish.”

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Justice Dept. leans on Alamance

Burlington Times-News reports:

County Attorney Clyde Albright is engaging in “untenable demands and specious attacks” regarding a federal investigation into alleged racial profiling at the sheriff’s office, and Commissioner Chairwoman Linda Massey misrepresented a phone call she placed to a Justice Department attorney about the probe, federal officials say in letters sent to both this month.

Albright wants to know why county commissioners are involved in this investigation in the first place, and he’s telling the feds they’re not getting personnel records protected by state law.

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