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Archive for March, 2011

Reaping what you sow

I read with interest John Hammer’s latest Rhino installment on the confusion surrounding the Greensboro Parks and Recreation department’s RFP to run the Farmers’ Market. After sorting it all out, Hammer comes to this conclusion:

If the finances of every department are as messed up as parks and rec, the city shouldn’t have any trouble balancing its budget this year. It won’t need to make cuts. It can just hire some decent accountants who will figure out where all the money is going.

It seems to me like the Farmers’ Market was running just fine the way it is, until somebody suggested that city government get even more involved. Doesn’t seem like it’s going very well.

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Go Rayne Brown

Annexation was the issue as Rayne Brown took on and defeated House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman in the November election. Now the Davidson County representative taking on federal funding for rail projects, signing onto Rep. Ric Killian’s bill that just says no:

“This is the biggest waste,” Brown said. “This is the federal government’s way to push us in a direction that there’s no desire to go, that there’s no money for. They dangle this money in front of us, and we grab it. I know Lexington is all excited about having a depot, but we don’t have the money. Nothing the federal government gives us ever comes without strings attached. Ever.”

The Lexington Dispatch reports Davidson County would receive $44 million of fed money, which would not, however, go toward funding the proposed new train depot.

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Gov’t sleight of hand

Way to enforce the hiring freeze, Gov. Perdue:

Records kept at the Office of State Personnel catalog the exemptions that were deemed so essential they couldn’t be frozen. Among them:

A Wine & Grape Council marketing specialist was reclassified as a legislative research assistant, who will help the Department of Commerce “provide a more comprehensive focus on job creation legislation.”

A hire was authorized for the vacant position of communications director for the lieutenant governor. The job went to Schorr Johnson, who was out of a job as Sen. Marc Basnight’s communications director when Basnight resigned in January.

Hey, this sort of thing happens in the private sector, too, as commenter ‘Lockstep’ points out. His wife made him hire her idiot brother.

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I’m going back to bed

Today’s forecast—-cloudy, 48 degrees;

Neither Greensboro, nor Winston-Salem, nor Asheville, for that matter, get Google;

Living in the Triad isn’t so good for your health;

Looks as though one Jeffrey Dean Minton returned to Baptist Hospital to finish the job after cracking the 2-year-old girl’s skull somewhere in Wilkes County;

Two die after plane crashes into house in HP; fortunately residents escape unharmed.

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Rail upkeep: $41m per year

Former GDOT director Jim Westmoreland makes an appearance in this N&O article on state House committee debate over Rep. Ric Killian’s bill to kill federal funding for rail improvements.

Westmoreland confirmed Killian’s projection that maintenance and upkeep costs for an improved rail network would reach $41 million per year by 2037. Westmoreland maintained that passenger fares —- especially after more routes are added —- will help cut those costs.

I’m skeptical.

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HP skateboard park: Plot thickens

Guilford County school board member Ed Price pitches his idea for a skateboard park/amphitheater complex to the High Point City Council, saying his vision is “more of an economic thing than just a recreational sports center or skateboard park.”

Funding is an issue, and Price concedes that private funding won’t cover the cost. The $2 million in bond funds targeted for the last mile of the city’s greenway still lingers, and council member Chris Whitley says “it’s probably eligible” for the skateboard park because “it’s a parks and rec issue.”

Stay tuned —they want this bad.

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What is Tim Rice talking about?

I read with interest and an open mind the N&R editorial on Moses Cone Health System’s ‘healthy future.’ A couple of comments by CEO Tim Rice jumped out at me:

..Cone is investing more than $380 million in new facilities and resources. In addition to the new surgical center, its plans include an ongoing, $15 million expansion of the cancer center and a major technology upgrade that will manage patient records more efficiently. As for Cone Hospital, a new $200 million north tower will replace semiprivate patient rooms with private ones. “In this market we should not have semiprivate rooms,” Rice said.

But significant challenges remain, including the still-unsettled federal health care reform debate: “I think everybody is playing their role,” Rice said, “But if we don’t have broad-based insurance, insurance doesn’t work.” And if insurance doesn’t work, emergency rooms bear the burden. Cone totaled $146.1 million in unpaid medical bills and charity care in 2010, up from $96.8 million in 2007.

No elaboration on those comments, so the reader is left to determine for himself exactly what Rice meant. It seems to me on the one hand that Rice is preaching the free market while on the other hand preaching ‘broad-based insurance,’ which I (going out on limb) interpret to mean ‘universal coverage.’

Problem is we can’t have it both ways, and confusing the free market with universal coverage is where those supporting Obamacare lose credibility. Besides, it’s easy for Rice to talk competition, seeing as how Cone has no competition, at least not in Greensboro.

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Nissen Building: Double-dipping taxpayers

The Winston-Salem Journal reports:

The company that renovated the Nissen Building won the right Monday to refinance one of the bank loans it used to rehabilitate the building.

The approval came from the Winston-Salem City Council. The council’s approval was necessary for the refinancing because the city of Winston-Salem also loaned the company, Nissen Building LLC, $3 million to help with the rehabilitation in 2001. The building is one of the most popular apartment buildings downtown and is at 100 percent capacity.

What the article doesn’t say is the other ‘bank loan’ the developers are refinancing is —- you guessed it —– a HUD loan.

Lucky taxpayers, they get to subsidize the Nissen Building twice. I’ll say it again —- this is why we’re in this mess right now.

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Rockingham approves COG merger

The N&R print edition reports Rockingham County commissioners voted 4-0 to join the Piedmont Triad Regional Council.

Commissioner Craig Travis abstained, saying the soon-to-be-former Piedmont Triad Council of Governemnts “has provided great service to the county, but he isn’t comfortable with how dues are set.” I have wonder why Travis abstained instead simply casting a ‘no’ vote.

Meanwhile, the N&R editorializes on Guilford County’s pending decision whether or not to join the new council, concluding it’s “reasonable for commissioners to evaluate these programs and their costs, but quitting a regional organization that so many neighbors support would be unwise without a compelling reason.”

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Stan Kowalewski, really at large

Stan Kowalewski resigns as basketball coach at Oak Ridge Military Academy, just one day after yesterday’s N&R front-pager.

Never good when a benefactor is under investigation by the SEC.

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