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Archive for October, 2011

Homeless clash with Occupy protesters

Rush Limbaugh reported last week:

And this is from the New York Post: “The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a ‘counter’ revolution yesterday — because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for ‘professional homeless’ people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.” (laughing) That would be most of the protesters, right? (laughing) Aren’t you cooks being a little selfish here? After all, you have food and the homeless people don’t have food. Where’s the social justice in that? Of course, if you’ve got food in your kitchen and there are people that don’t have food and they show up and want food, aren’t you obligated to share your food with them?

….And, by the way, the story goes on to say the protesters organized a ten-member security force to confront the homeless people, to chase ‘em out from Occupy Wall Street. It’s a vigilante, they’re setting up their own police force. Now, who are more sacred to the left than the homeless? The homeless!

Turns out they have the same problem in Asheville, of all places.

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Trouble on G’boro’s main drags

Local TV stations report a fatal shooting on Tate Street next to UNCG. Perpetrators apparently are still on the loose.

Meanwhile, Ed Cone reports supporters of Latin gang leader and District 5 Greensboro City Council candidate Jorge Cornell are picketing outside the Green Bean coffee house on Elm St. after they were asked to leave “when they became disrespectful to other customers.”

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Did Bill Knight cost himself the election?

UNCG economics professor and local media source Don Jud endorses the incumbent conservative bloc in the upcoming City Council election:

At the local level, the most important thing leaders can do is to make sure that our local government functions as efficiently as possible, providing the highest quality services at the lowest possible price. Only in this way can they make Greensboro the most attractive it can be as a place to live and work, making it a magnet for enterprise and employment.

A strict focus on public-sector productivity means local leaders must resist programs that are wasteful and unproductive, like closing the landfill, funding wasteful local nonprofits, pushing unnecessary and expensive infrastructure, and needlessly raising water and sewer rates.

As you can probably imagine, I’m still having trouble with Mayor Bill Knight voting in favor of a pay raise for for interim City Manager Denise Turner Roth, and I can’t help but wonder how many conservatives are having trouble with it, too.

Face it, this is a hot-button issue, the type of gov’t cronyism conservatives have been calling out for four years now because they believe it’s responsible for the mess we’re now instead of corporate greed, although I would like to think even the Occupy Wall Street crowd would have trouble supporting a $38k raise for a gov’t official while the 99 percent continues to struggle.

Yet again I’m frustrated with Mayor Knight. I would expect him to speak out against this in order to reassure taxpayers he’s truly looking out for them, but he offered no comment why he voted the way he did. I can’t help but think this is a last-minute tactical error that could cost him the election. Voters sitting on the fence will think to themselves that it really doesn’t matter who’s mayor. They won’t vote for Robbie Perkins; they just won’t vote.

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‘Bus passes for Alzheimer’s patients?’

Guilford County Commissioners have pledged $394,000 to keep the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation from going broke, but the question is whether or not PART will be able to step in for the private company that’s bailing on the contract to provide county transportation services.

PART will have to adjust its operation somewhat to accommodate the riders with special needs (“Bus passes for Alzheimers’ patients? What can go wrong?” asks one source quoted by the Rhino.) I don’t doubt PART can do that, but the bottom line is public transportation is a money losing proposition —-that’s why the private contractor —-MV Transportation —is pulling out.

Commission Chair Skip Alston legitimately believes he’s crafted a win-win situation, but the reality is the county —and PART — will more than likely be traveling down this road again.

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G’boro interim city mgr: Nice work if you can get it

This fits right in with the Rhode Island pension crisis in the sense that it’s just the way gov’t works.

Greensboro interim City Manager Denise Turner Roth gets a nice raise to go along with her temporary title. The obvious question is whether or not Roth’s salary will be reduced accordingly if she does get the job permanently. I think we know the answer to that question.

The Rhino reports council member Danny Thompson and Mayor Bill Knight —“both running for reelection as conservatives, didn’t comment on why they thought it was necessary to give Roth a $38,000 a year raise to be interim city manager.”

Sigh.

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Rhode Island: Where we’re all heading?

Not local, but this NYT article on Rhode Island’s pension crisis is a must-read to understand why we are where we are and where we’re heading if drastic change doesn’t occur.

Key excerpt below.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Snapshot of my former life

I just now caught up with Scott Yost’s Rhino column celebrating his nine years as Guilford County beat reporter.

As Scott’s fellow reporter at the now-defunct Triad Business News, I noted with interest his description of our former employer:

I’ve been about 30 times happier at The Rhino than I ever was at that sad place that, to this day, reminds me of some sort of twisted combination of the work place in Office Space and the office Tom Hanks works in at the start of Joe Versus the Volcano.

OK, it wasn’t the New York Times, and Scott was certainly witness to a fair amount of my frustration over various working conditions, which —considering today’s state of the economy—seems somewhat immature and petty. What can I say—- I wasn’t quite as thankful just to have a job in those days.

Bottom line, however, is Triad Business News was an important stepping stone to where I am today. On that note, a word of gratitude is in order for the man who hired me— Tom Russell, then editor of TBN and frequent target of frustration.

I would also be remiss not to send a shout-out to JLF —-president John Hood, CJ publisher Jon Ham, former CJ editor Richard Wagner and current editor Rick Henderson —- for keeping me gainfully employed. And I don’t have to wear a tie, and I don’t have to be in my cubicle.

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Political advocacy on public access television

CJ’s Donna Martinez reports on the City of Durham’s public affairs TV show advocating for Durham County’s proposed half-cent sales tax increase, which would fund public transportation initiatives including —- you guessed it — a light rail system.

A Durham resident has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections over an installment of City Life, which cites traffic congestion, high gas prices, and the growing population before introducing guests advocating transportation projects that would benefit from the sales tax increase. CJ reports no opposing points of view were presented, which might state that a light rail system would be a money pit that would do little to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

The N&R’s Doug Clark draws a parallel between the situation in Durham the one here in Guilford County, where a member of a political action committee showed a video advocating for conservative candidates in the upcoming City Council election— including incumbent council members and Mayor Bill Knight —- during the public speaking portion of last Thursday’s county commissioners’ meeting.

The issue —as it is in Durham —is whether or not public access television should broadcast political endorsements. Clark draws the distinction between a citizen speaking at a public meeting and government advocacy:

Here in Guilford, it wasn’t the government but an individual representing a political action committee, Conservatives for Guilford County, who triggered similar concerns.

…..After checking on legalities, the city of Greensboro, which operates the public-access Channel 13 system, decided it was OK to rebroadcast the segment.

Now both Durham and Greensboro take the position that it isn’t illegal to air political advocacy programming on public-access TV.

Whether it’s good policy is another question. And it most definitely is not good policy.

I also understand —as Clark pointed out in an earlier post— that conservatives —myself included —would howl if a video advocating for liberal candidates like Robbie Perkins and Yvonne Johnson were shown during a public meeting.

But there’s still a huge difference between an individual speaking at a public meeting and government-orchestrated advocacy. Commissioners had no control over what a speaker says during the public comment period. And some commissioners wondered what the difference is between showing a video and simply speaking the words.

The other point is candidates for City Council routinely speak during council meetings. They don’t identify themselves as candidates or urge the public to vote for them; yet when they speak about a particular issue, they’re letting citizens know how they would vote on that particular issue should it come before council.

With all this in mind, I have to come down on the side of a citizen exercising his right to free speech.

Below is the aforementioned video, first posted over at Guarino’s.

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Edwards: ‘Washed-up capitalist’

John Edwards appeared in federal court here in Greensboro yesterday, seeking dismissal of charges that he violated campaign finance law in his effort to conceal his extramarital affair.

The N&R reports Edwards’ court appearance “drew few spectators to the daylong proceedings focused on technicalities of campaign-finance law.” However, Edwards did encounter some Occupation Greensboro protesters as he was leaving the courthouse:

Clad in a dark suit and red tie, former U.S. Sen. Edwards declined to comment after the hearing. But as he left the courthouse later, he attracted notice from a group of Occupy Greensboro protesters marching across the street. One man with a bullhorn called the former candidate, who made his fortune as a personal injury lawyer, a “washed-up capitalist.”

“I’m not a washed-up anything,” Edwards said.

Whether or not Edwards is a washed-up capitalist is an issue for debate, as is whether or not he is a washed-up anything.

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Lexington annexation battle

Members of Citizens United Against Forced Annexation have submitted almost 300 signatures on a petition to prevent annexation into the City of Lexington.

Residents have the General Assembly on their side; the city has the courts on its side. Meanwhile, the N&R reports (unposted):

City staff members floated a policy Tuesday that would limit what parts of Guilford County can get city and water services.

The revised policy —which is still in the discussion phase —–also would create deterrents for property owners to fight annexation after they get water services.

Deputy City Manager Bob Morgan conceded that changes in state law will make annexation “unpredictable, costly and difficult.”

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