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Archive for March, 2012

Council of State debate

In case you didn’t know, the Triad has a few candidates primary bids for Council of State. Forsyth County Rep. Dale Folwell, is running for lieutenant governor, while UNCG professor Mike Beitler and Mt Airy businessman A.J. Daoud are running for Secretary of State.

Check out below the recent debate at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel. The Winston-Salem Journal notes that while only 5 people showed up to watch the debate live, more than 500 people watched it online.

Video streaming by Ustream

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WSFCS: Chocolate milk is better than no milk

Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Don Martin will ‘leave alone’ the idea of banning chocolate milk from school cafeterias, reasoning that chocolate milk is better than no milk.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports school board attorney Alison Tomberlin “advocated removing chocolate milk from the lunch lines.” Seems like a strange issue for the board attorney to become involved.

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Where high-quality human beings live, against all odds

That would be High Point.

The Rhino writes up New Urbanist planner Andres Duany’s visit, during he which he no doubt rubbed a few city planners wrong when he suggested they scrap regulations and building codes to help spark downtown development.

Turns out Duany isn’t your average New Urbanist, whatever you think a New Urbanist might be:

You might expect a New Urbanist to be a tree-hugging, green-space-advocating, downtown-building-code-proposing control freak when it comes to designing cities, but Duany turned out to be none of those things.

He attacked American environmentalism for worrying about minor species rather than humans in land planning. He attacked the American environmental movement – at least as has affected urban planning – for only having one tool in its toolbox: green space and more green space, most of it unusable.

He attacked most urban planners, city planning departments and the development codes they produce as “wildly romantic” because they think that, by mandating wide property setbacks and periodic trees, they can produce old-style downtowns.

He also attacked most downtown building codes as impediments to private development and especially to the development of old-school, or New Urban, downtowns, whichever you want to call them. He called for throwing out most of the rules generated by city planners.

But the money quote came after two days of wining and dining in High Point he concluded that “really high-quality humans live here – against all odds.”

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The N&R and Trayvon Martin

Just an objective observation, but it seems to me that new N&R editor Jeff Gauger is getting off to a bit of rough start here in G’boro.

Gauger’s first column took heat not only for its ‘patronizing hokum seed’ but for the failure to make it accessible ‘to most of its potential audience.’

Now in his most recent blog post, Gauger apologizes for publishing too little on the Trayvon Martin case. I realize Gauger is reacting to reader comments, but let’s be real here —if you’re reading this blog you probably feel the same way —- the N&R is the last place I’m going to turn for updates on that tragic situation. The story is simply moving too fast for a daily print newspaper; and while talk radio, cable news and blogs are all over the story, my media outlet of choice for updates is –you guessed it—Twitter.

Surely Gauger ‘got the memo’ about the N&R’s efforts to focus on covering local stories. Still, it seems to me the daily paper of record is consistently lagging in that effort. I realize I’ve been harsh on the N&R over the years; just for today I’ll express optimism situation will change.

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W-S streetcar line

I believe we had this conversation earlier in the week.

A consultant tells the City of Winston-Salem that a $60 million streetcar line would add “hundreds of millions to Forsyth County’s property tax base. HDR made a cool $700k —-funded by PART—- to pitch the same line –that developers like to build along rail lines, thus in effect making the rail line self-supporting.

Guess which city HDR held up as a model for light rail development. Two guesses here, but if guessed Portland, you’d be right. Look how that worked out.

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Re: Labor Dept. investigating AmEx

Several media outlets have reported that workers from American Express have petitioned the U.S. Department of Labor for more unemployment benefits because —as they allege— AmEx has sent jobs overseas. Workers here in G’boro were affected when AmEx closed its call center out by PTI, but the company maintains those jobs went to call centers in other U.S. cities.

AmEx CEO Kenneth Chenault serves on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which seeks to “ensure the competitiveness of the United States and on ways to create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for the American people.”

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Judge strikes down annexation petitions

Obviously all the focus has been on the Supreme court hearings on Obamacare, but closer to home a Superior Court judge has issued another significant ruling:

Wake County Superior Court Judge Shannon Joseph issued a written order Tuesday throwing out the petition process authorized last by the Republican-led General Assembly. The measure halted a municipality’s effort to expand its borders if enough property owners in the targeted area said no. The case is likely to be settled in the appellate courts.

The judge’s decision affects property owners near Lexington who have used the petition process to fight annexation. A spokesman for Sen. Phil Berger said he “will continue to protect property owners from tax-hungry municipalities,” probably through more legislation “to effectively cancel the pending involuntary annexations simply by repealing them altogether.”

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Denise Franklin out at WFDD

Longtime Triad TV and radio personality Denise Franklin is out as general manager of public radio station WFDD.

Nobody’s commenting, but it’s odd because Franklin has been at WFDD for 11 years and was behind the mike last week during the station’s fundraising drive, which incidentally “came in under,” according to interim station manager Molly Davis.

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Bring HP back to life –scrap regulations

High Point University president Nido Qubein says he ‘cringes when he hears a visitor to High Point refer to it as a ‘dying town.'” So he brings in urban architect Andres Duany to pitch some ideas about how to bring HP back to life.

Here’s one idea Duany pitched — the city “could scrap or significantly change regulations and building codes to allow the rehabilitation of older, now-vacant buildings in the city’s heart.”

What a concept. Anyone listening?

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Re: GSO, W-S noise issues

The Winston-Salem Journal reports the city Council has postponed a vote on a rezoning case that would have allowed residential space near Ziggy’s new downtown venue:

The rezoning request, from local artist Jonathan Waterbury, had prompted a debate about whether to allow homes near entertainment venues. Waterbury has been living in the building he asked to be rezoned for years; Ziggy’s opened last summer on Ninth Street.

Hank Perkins, the developer behind Ziggy’s and behind many of the new restaurants and clubs near the music venue, had asked the council to avoid allowing homes near the venue. Perkins had said he was concerned that people who live near the venue could complain about noise from the club.

Someone needs to tell Jonathan Waterbury the same thing Greensboro police told high-powered developer Roy Carroll when he was constantly calling them over noise on Greene Street’s roof top —- ‘if you move downtown, you should expect club noise.’

I’ll also note that Yes!Weekly had the story on Carroll’s e-mails to G’boro city officials a week ago; seems like the N&R is running further behind than usual these days.

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March 2012
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