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Archive for November, 2010

HP incentives for Polo Ralph Lauren

The High Point City Council last night approved $400,000 in economic incentives for Polo Ralph Lauren to set up shop in a vacated furniture facility. Another $600,000 in electric infrastructure improvements could follow.

The vote was 8-1:

Councilman Mike Pugh was the only vote against the incentives, saying he was philosophically opposed to providing taxpayer dollars to a multibillion dollar corporation. But other council members emphasized that the incentives would be paid back during a three- to four-year period, and after that the city would post a gain on Polo Ralph Lauren’s investment.

Polo Ralph Lauren says 400 new jobs could be created as a result of its expansion.

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Raises for G’boro city employees?

While federal workers will see a pay freeze over the next two years, City of Greensboro employees apparently will get a 5 percent pay increase next year. Council member Danny Thompson will ask why at next Tuesday’s meeting.

Rush Radio’s report is the first I’ve read about this, perhaps I’ve missed something.

Update: WFMY coverage.

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Bring back the Orange Blossom Special

Jack Betts’ column on a proposed “high speed” rail corridor through North Carolina illustrates the fundamental flaw in liberal support for rail: they believe the future rests in an outdated mode of transportation:

In 1960, passenger rail was being viewed by many railroads as a burden; some had already abandoned once-popular passenger train service in favor of more lucrative freight service; and the bankruptcy of the once powerful and later merged Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads was a decade away. That unhappy event heralded the end of the passenger train era in the United States and led a year later to the creation of Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. It operates many of the remaining passenger trains in this country.

Yet Betts doesn’t stop to ponder exactly why all those events occurred, instead waxing nostalgic ofr the Orange Blossom Special, which quit running in 1953.

As you can probably imagine, liberals claim it’s Republicans who want to take transportation policy back to the 1950s, a notion Antiplanner rejects. Antiplanner also notes all the crying from so-called progressives in the wake of the anti-train gubernatorial vote in Wisconsin.

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President Hunt?

The N&R’s Doug Clark (unposted) reviews Gary Pearce’s biography of longtime Gov. Jim Hunt.

Clark addresses the big question: Could Hunt have become president had he beaten Jesse Helms in the 1984 Senate race?

“If Hunt had beaten Helms, he might have become president,” Pearce muses. Hunt, not Bill Clinton, might have been the moderate Southerner elected to the White House.”

I’m sure he’s right. In fact, many years ago I wrote a column for the High Point Enterprise speculating that Hunt would have been the Democrats’ nominee in 1988 instead of Michael Dukakis —- and would have stood a much better chance of beating George H.W. Bush.

As we learned two years ago —or in 1992, for that matter —- anything’s possible, although Hunt has nothing on Bubba and Obama in the charisma department.

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Perkins: Protect that revenue

The N&R takes stock of the Greensboro City Council’s progress, just a couple of days after council member Nancy Vaughan says she won’t seek another term because she doesn’t think “we have accomplished a lot when you look back at the term.”

Pretty much what you’d expect to hear, although there was an interesting quote from Robbie Perkins, who said a goal for the remainder of the term was to “defend city revenue from state encroachment.” I’d like to hear exactly what Perkins means, although it won’t be harder to figure out once the upcoming mother of a budget year gets underway.

Maybe it’s just me, but I see irony in Perkins’ statement, considering the that he lobbies for every federal dollar the city can get its hands on, all of it with strings attached that will end up costing the city more in the long run. I wonder if he ever thinks about where that money comes from.

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Re: Fatal shooting on High Point Road

The N&R reports an 18-year-old Virginia woman died after being shot outside Club Plush early Sunday morning.

If I’m reading at the City Council district map right the club’s High Point Road address puts it in Trudy Wade’s district. Interesting that during the curfew debate Wade grilled Police Chief Ken Miller about the possibility of trouble coming to her district if the cops starting cracking down downtown.

Miller assured Wade that would not be the case —he is responsible for policing all of Greensboro.

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Hebert: Sitting out the storm

In what could be construed as sour grapes, outgoing Guilford County school board member Garth Hebert predicts incoming member Ed Price will last four years:

Hebert said he doubts that Price has the temperament to last on the school board.

“I don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into,” Hebert said. “I’ve had people who know Ed Price say there’s no way he’s going to last. He can’t sit still that long. We’ll see.”

The Rhino says Hebert is “actively lobbying to regain the seat he will lose on Dec. 7,” but perhaps Hebert should take on at-large member Sandra Alexander in 2012, opening the possibility of the Rhino’s win-win scenario where both Hebert and Price sit on the board.

I have little doubt Hebert would rather tackle GCS’ looming budget crisis head-on. But for now, he’s content to sit and watch:

Exactly why Hebert wants to get back onto the school board after Dec. 7, in the face of major funding cuts, isn’t clear. He acknowledged that 2011 and 2012 would be good years to be off the board.

“The next two years are probably the bleakest you’re going to see,” he said. “It’s going to take a heck of a lot of creativity. It’s the best time in the world not to be on the school board. If you’re ever going to create more enemies, it’s then. You will not be loved if you have to lay off 1,000 Guilford County Schools employees. If you’re going to lose $60 million in funding next year – and that’s optimistic – you’re going to lose about 200 administrators and about 1,000 teachers. You’re not going to be a well-loved person.

A dire prediction indeed. School systems are the best at pulling off budgetary sleights of hand, but I don’t see how they can possibly do it next year.

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Easley: Unprecedented

The N&O says if Mike Easley’s noon hearing “leads to a conviction, Easley would be the first governor in North Carolina’s history to be convicted in court of a crime related to his official service.”

“Unprecedented,” says retired Meredith College history professor William Price.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again —I’ll never forget the phone call I made to a liberal friend before the 2000 election telling him if he thought a vote for Easley was a vote for humanity’s greater good, then he’d better think again.

I don’t think he listened.

Update Note Tony Wilkins’ comment. So on a different but not unrelated subject, the N&O reports:

The proposals are just the first step in what is likely to be a long and winding political path as the Democratic governor considers her options and then the new Republican legislature enacts a budget, probably some time next summer. But the options are the clearest indications yet, that the lives of millions of North Carolinians will likely be touched by a new wave of austerity in state government that has not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

State park closures, cutting back on inmate labor crews, 1,000 layoffs.

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Randolph works toward regional landfill

The High Point Enterprise reports Randolph County “is working on acquiring the necessary permits for a regional landfill. Such a regional landfill could draw interest from municipalities such as Durham, High Point and, of course, Greensboro.

Interesting, especially now that Greensboro City Council member Jim Kee is suggesting—- no doubt with prompting from regular council speaker-from-the-floor Leon Nutez —- that the city locate CICO’s garbage disposal technology out at the former Guilford County prison farm. We know already that fellow council member Robbie Perkins champions the so-called regional solution.

CICO claims its manufacturing facility would provide 250 jobs. For some reason, I’m skeptical.

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A couple of reasons to be thankful

I read with interest and an open mind the N&R’s front-pager on Bryan Foundation president and former Mayor Jim Melvin. Here’s what jumped out at me:

“Did we make mistakes? Heck, yeah,” he said.

Pushing for a downtown convention center in 1979 was a mistake. Thankfully, he said, voters turned down the idea.

“It would have been too small,” he said. “It was just improperly done and improperly sold to the public.”

A project ‘that was improperly done and improperly sold to the public’ —imagine that. Yet downtown boosters like Melvin et. al keep coming up with them year after. Kinda like Randall Kaplan’s downtown hotel, which —thankfully —- appears to be dead.

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