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Archive for January, 2012

If this is global warming, bring it on

Based on this post, I’ll venture that N&R editorial writer Doug Clark was the author of the aforementioned editorial.

While I may disagree with Clark on Danny Hembree, I’ll give him a shout-out for this post calling out the ‘preplanned conclusions’ about to be reached by Piedmont Triad Sustainable Communities Regional Planning project:

“Without being able to work or bike as we shop, recreate or attend cultural events our health suffers.” How so? The convenience of driving to shopping, for example, leaves more time and energy for exercise and recreation of one’s choice.

I’m all for planning, and this planning process is seeking public input, which is good.

But let’s not start out with false assertions that are designed to lead to predetermined conclusions, i.e., we all should use public transportation or at least use bicycles for basic transportation.

According to the blurb in today’s print edition, the project is being funded with a $1.6 million HUD grant. Great—- more busywork for federal bureaucrats earning more money than the private sector.

All I’ll say is if this winter is global warming, bring it on. I’m loving my utility bills, as no doubt a lot of people are.

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Why is the N&R defending Danny Hembree?

Let me start by saying I am not rabidly pro-death penalty. I understand that in a country based on (ever diminishing) freedom, being locked away for the rest of your life is severe punishment.

That’s the concept behind today’s N&R editorial on Danny Hembree, the convicted murderer who recently described his life of leisure on Central Prison’s death row.

Here’s what jumped out at me (my emphasis):

So, what’s Hembree’s real punishment? It is to spend every day for the rest of his life in close confinement. He sleeps in a small, sparsely furnished cell. He has access to a day room with television but shares it with men who are all very bad characters. He is allowed outdoor exercise twice a week. He is allowed one visit a week with a maximum of two visitors. He can work inside the prison. He gets his meals.

Many would say it’s better than he deserves. Who could argue? He lives in humane conditions with his basic needs met.

Except the need for freedom.

As if those ‘very bad characters’ would somehow rub off on a guy convicted for strangling a 17-year-old girl and is accused of murdering two other women. I realize the N&R is rabidly anti-death penalty, and this editorial simply reiterating that stance as a counter point to the reaction Hembree’s letter sparked.

Still, Hembree’s letter was a cry for attention, nothing more, nothing less. The worst thing our local paper of record could do was give him that attention. If life in prison is —as the editorial states —- is “a slow death, one day after another,” then just let that be Hembree’s fate, with no fanfare attached.

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Trader Joe’s and the White Street landfill

In response to Ed Cone’s post on the Trader Joe’s situation, a couple of people evidently misread my earlier post. I’ll just take the high road and say people sometimes make mistakes.

I didn’t edit the post, and I did not provide any ‘anecdotal observations’ about yard signs for former Mayor Bill Knight or speculate how residents opposing the development voted for City Council. I merely pointed out that we now have a liberal NIMBY City Council, a reasonable description if indeed the proposed reopening of the White Street landfill was indeed the election’s driving issue.

I was in favor of reopening the landfill, and as far mixed-use development goes, I’m personally for it—-I’m lazy and I like my modern conveniences close by. But I hate the fact that mixed-use development has become a fad among city planners who haven’t really thought through the implications of having everyone and everything stacked on top of each other.

By the same token, I realize that having a Trader Joe’s in your backyard and a landfill in your backyard isn’t exactly the same thing. But that apparently doesn’t mean much to residents near Friendly and Hobbs Road who oppose the development. Trust me, I’ve watched enough rezoning meeting and I’ve seen citizens tells boards and councils how a seemingly innocent development would make their lives pure hell. I remember watching Lindley Park residents speaking out against a Dunkin Donuts on Holden Road and all I could think was hell yea I love having a Dunkin Donuts down the street.

All I’m saying is the City Council will most likely decide this case, and they’re in a very difficult position. Just like the previous conservative council, they could quickly gain the rep that they care more about one side of town than the other.

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Joines will not run for guv

The Winston-Salem Journal reports Mayor Allen Joines will not make a run for governor.

What’s he dishing up there? Sausage and sauerkraut?

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Will Bowles run?

JLF president John Hood ponders whether or not Greensboro native Erskine Bowles will throw his hat in the ring. The question is not so much if Bowles can win the general election, but if he would even make it out of the primary, especially if Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx jumps in:

I wonder if Bowles, who has already run and lost two statewide campaigns in the past, really wants to have to sprint through a competitive three-month primary followed by a tough general-election marathon against McCrory.

….If Foxx runs, he starts out with strong name ID in a major metro and money left over from his easy 2011 reelection. It is also possible that the marriage amendment on the May ballot will increase African-American turnout, a positive for Foxx. In a crowded primary, these factors could conspire to deny Bowles the nomination, regardless of what the general-election polls or campaign-spending figures show.

He knows this. He is a smart man. As much as he might like to cap off his career with a term as governor of the state, Bowles also does not want to end his career with an embarrassing primary loss. Does he strike you as a gambling man?

Bowles does not strike me as a gambling man.

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The performing arts center and Trader Joe’s

…Dominated the weekend news.

Prevailing opinion —-at least as stated in Saturday’s N&R front-pager— appears to be that the proposed performing arts center —funded with a bond on the November ballot —-should go downtown instead of at the Greensboro Coliseum complex. What jumped out at me was Downtown Greensboro CEO Ed Wolverton “definitely challenging” the conclusion that a downtown venue would be considerably more expensive than the coliseum site.

The coliseum site has officially been designated ‘Plan B’ and both Mayor Robbie Perkins and the N&R say we don’t need no Plan B. The N&R writes:

If downtown is Plan A, then leaders should make a firm commitment to it. Find a site and work to secure the private funding. If they fall short, they should not proceed to a bond referendum for Plan B, the coliseum complex location. Instead, they should delay until the private funding is in hand.

Winning a bond vote requires the best plan. Perkins and others offer a strong argument that a downtown GPAC will deliver the biggest bang for the buck — if private funding is part of the mix. Pledges must be secured before voters are asked to approve a proposal. If that happens this year, put Plan A to a vote. If not, voting on Plan B would be a terrible mistake. It would be more likely to fail, setting back GPAC fortunes for a long time. But even if it passed, it would give Greensboro a performing arts center at a location that’s only the second choice. That won’t make it another DPAC.

The N&R also addressed the Trader Joe’s issue in Sunday’s editorial, endorsing the proposed Friendly Avenue-Hobbs Road site that is drawing opposition from nearby residents:

Ideally, it would be nice if such a juicy retail plum would locate in an area of town that isn’t as blessed already with so many retail options. But Regency officials say they consciously target “best-in-class” shopping districts for their centers. The site has the strong regional profile and convenient access they seek.

The care taken in the conception of this project, its modest size and scope, the developer’s responsiveness to community concerns, and the potential arrival of a Trader Joe’s make this a project well worth considering.

“A Trader Joe’s brings with it good jobs, and its presence in your community is like an affirmation that you and your neighbors are worldly and smart,” writes Beth Knowlett in a 2010 Fortune magazine profile.

With a continued responsive ear toward neighbors, it would be “worldly and smart” to move forward with this proposal.

While the accompanying front-pager reports that Trader Joe’s has indeed placed stores in existing buildings as well as a “struggling area in East Dallas over a wealthier neighborhood to the north,” it seems to me that it’s Friendly Avenue site or nothing, in wich case it will be the City Council’s job to determine the interest of the neighborhood versus the desire for a Trader Joe’s. That’s why we elect them.

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Joines for governor?

My antenna was raised scrolling through this Twitter feed, but I thought surely not. But evidently it’s for real —Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines is pondering a run for governor.

Name recognition is a problem at this late date —no time to build a brand.

Little history lesson from the local paper of record —-Winston -Salem has given the state only one governor —-Robert B. Glenn, who served from 1905-1909.

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Heels trounce Pack —twice

On top of last night’s blowout comes news that Greensboro Page quarterback James Summers has forsaken the Wolfpack in favor of the Tar Heels.

Summer did it all in Page’s victory in the state championship game, but he’s not a classic pocket passer and rumor had it he would switch to receiver or defensive back at State. But —according the N&R —- new Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora can see Summers playing quarterback in the Heels’ new spread offense.

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Matt Brown doing double time

I was mentally shouting out a big —-pardon the pun —-yessss! as I read Yes!Weekly’s editorial letting Greensboro Coliseum Director Matt Brown hear it over his push for a $30-plus million bond to replace aging War Memorial Auditorium:

It’s important to remember that, though Brown is the city’s highest paid employee — by quite a bit last year, at $212,332 making more than $30,000 more than former City Manager Rashad Young and almost $75,000 more than police Chief Ken Miller — the coliseum is not as central to the city’s well being as its internal operations and police department, which could survive without the coliseum but without which the coliseum could not make it.

Brown seems to be acting like a favored child, who wants everything at the expense of his siblings, and we are here to tell him to share his toys.

So you can imagine the letdown —I was hoping they’d suggest shoving the bond— when the editorial went on to say that a new entertainment center belongs downtown, perhaps in the Ole Asheboro neighborhood, although in the end it did question the need “for such a thing.”

Far be it for me to defend Matt Brown, but when looked at objectively, his plan is cheaper —perhaps much cheaper depending on the numbers, which right now range between $32 million- $43 for a site at the coliseum complex to $49-$72 million for a downtown site.

Besides, what does Brown care where it goes, since Mayor Robbie Perkins has already let it be known that he wants Brown to run the new venue, no matter where it ends up. And if Brown has to split time between two different sites, the city would have to give him a raise, eh?

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The Short List

CJ reports on Gov. Perdue’s surprising announcement that she will not seek another term.

So who’s on the short list, besides Rep. Bill Faison?

Democratic consultant Joe Sinsheimer said the wild card in the primary fight would be whether Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx runs.

“Personally, I think he is the strongest nominee,” Sinsheimer said. “Dalton would suffer from Perdue baggage, because he comes from the same political machine as the governor, and Foxx would be the freshest face.”

Foxx, an African-American, won a second term as mayor of the Queen City in November, taking home two-thirds of the vote compared to his Republican opponent.

Another name being floated as a gubernatorial contender: U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, Democrat of North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, who announced Wednesday that he won’t seek re-election to Congress. Rumors had circulated that Miller would challenge fellow Democrat David Price to a primary in the 4th Congressional District.

Other names on the short list: Bob Etheridge, former congressman from North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District; Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Clinton and past president of the University of North Carolina system; and Heath Shuler, congressman from North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.

Sinsheimer adds “Perdue’s announcement is good news for Democrats, because the ‘focus in November can now be on the message as opposed to the messenger.'”

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