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Archive for May, 2012

Re: Edwards verdict

Actually, this is about what you would expect. John Edwards walks with no definitive conclusion. Based on what we’ve been reading about the jury’s conduct, I can’t help but wonder if they were capable of reaching a verdict on more than one count. I don’t know what was up, but I’ll guess we’re about to find out.

I’d feel better if they’d unanimously let him walk, because, as he said himself, God’s not done with Johnny Reid Edwards. I’m just glad Market and Eugene streets are about to clear out.

Update: Three Edwards jurors appeared on the Today show. Note they’re raising their hands when Matt Lauer asked if they thought Edwards was guilty on some of the counts; when Lauer asked if they thought Edwards was a bad person, no one raised their hands.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Matt Brown: Still Top Dawg

My suggestion earlier this week—if candidates for Greensboro’s city manager job are still in town, hide all copies of this week’s Rhino, where they’ll note Coliseum Director Matt Brown is —and always will be –top dawg on the city’s salary list.

We’re always concerned about the ‘messages’ our city sends and whether or not those ‘messages’ will attract quality people to live and work here. So I have to wonder what kind of message it sends when the director of an entertainment venue makes more money than the city manager, the police chief, the city attorney….well, everybody.

By the same token, whoever gets the job can count on a fat raise after a while, given the trends:

The Greensboro city salary list is both shocking and upsetting. It is shocking to see how many high level city employees have received generous salary increases in the past year and upsetting to think that the City Council took money from people who are struggling to make ends meet in this economy and handed it over to people who were already being overpaid for the jobs they were doing.

In the private sector the economy is still really tough. People, through no fault of their own, are out of work or working at jobs far below the salary and status they held in 2008. Those in the private sector lucky enough to have jobs are not looking at huge raises. Many have seen either their salaries, their benefits or both reduced.

Three prime examples — Interim City Manager Denise Turner Roth — who is silent about whether not she’s applied for the position permanently—-got a $44k raise, while Assistant City Manager Mike Speedling got a $28k raise. Associate City Attorney Jamiah Waterman got a 50k bump for holding the reins while the City Council searched for a permanent replacement for Rita Danish, who left after she started taking heat for not having a North Carolina law license.

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Blust spikes G’boro ticket tax

Rep. John Blust spikes G’boro’s proposed ticket tax to help build a downtown performing arts center.

I guess what struck me when reading the N&R’s write-up is Mayor Robbie Perkins’ statement that “we’ll have to adapt to the reality in Raleigh.” Makes you wonder where he’s been the last year and half.

Update: John Hammer writes in today’s Rhino:

The ticket tax is a great example of Perkins and the Perkinettes going off half-cocked. The ticket tax was mentioned in passing by interim City Manager Denise Turner Roth at the budget work session held in the Atlantic Coast Conference Hall of Champions on Tuesday, May 22, but there was no discussion. It was just an idea thrown out there.

…Councilmembers Dianne Bellamy-Small and (Trudy) Wade voted against it. But everyone else fell in line with something that was obviously wrong and voted in favor. The council is supposed to vote to take action, not have the mayor take action and then vote to approve what he has already done.

Perkins has the votes for the next half-cocked idea…..

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Edwards jury shenanigans

All I know is when I attended the John Edwards trial anyone sitting facing the jury was admonished by Judge Catherine Eagles not to make eye contact with jurors.

So I can’t help wonder why she’s tolerating the actions of alternate jurors, including ca young woman who apparently is acting in a flirtatious manner toward Edwards.

It’s a crazy world, and an alternate could pressed into service any second. I don’t know how a juror who’s trying to make some sort of statement with his or her manner of dress –much less a juror who’s openly flirting with the defendant— can be counted on to help deliver a just verdict.

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Former FBI agent says Kalvin Smith deserves new trial

A former FBI agent has released a report stating Kalvin Michael Smith deserves a news trial for the brutal 1997 beating of Silk Plant Forest employee Jill Marker:

Chris Swecker, a former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, said at a news conference that Winston-Salem police detectives provided inaccurate court testimony, failed to document evidence that might have been favorable to Smith and did not thoroughly pursue two other suspects who had long criminal records and had been placed at the scene of the crime.

….Swecker was especially critical of Don Williams, the lead detective in the case, who he called disorganized and in “over his head.”

“It is clear that the Silk Plant Forest investigation was seriously flawed and woefully incomplete, thus calling into question whether the original trial jury rendered their verdict based on all the relevant and accurate facts of the case,” Swecker said in the report.

Here in G’boro we were reminded that police do indeed make mistakes, as evidenced by the ‘shortfalls’ in GPD’s investigation of the Ransom Hobbs murder case that resulted in the release of a suspect after a year in jail.

By the same token —it’s kinda (emphasis on kinda) like the recent consultant’s report on the proposed downtown performing arts center. Anyone think the Silk Plant Forest Truth Committee would pay Swecker $2,500 to conclude Smith doesn’t deserve a new trial?

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Re: Armed EPA agents

How does that sound? Certainly more “cryptic and concerning” than the e-mail Asheville businessman Larry Keller sent to an EPA official.

Keller contacted Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan –as well as Rep. Heath Shuler—- regarding the visit paid by above-mentioned armed EPA agents, who by the way were accompanied by an Asheville police officer. Surprise — only Burr’s office responded.

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Note to G’boro city manager candidates

The N&R has some advice for the seven finalists for Greensboro’s city manager position, who are interviewing today at the O. Henry Hotel:

Break away from your handlers when your interview is done, put your confidentiality at risk and tour the town. You’ll see it’s a busy place — especially around the federal courthouse. Greensboro gets all the trials of former presidential candidates who use laundered money to hide their pregnant mistresses.

But that’s just for diversion. Greensboro’s main business is sports. You just missed the ACC baseball tournament, which broke attendance records. We’re also known for golf, swimming, figure skating and a little bit of basketball. You can always get a good seat. You’d love it here.

Speaking of the coliseum, you should be aware that its director works for the city manager, not the other way around. Sure, he runs a winning operation over there, but it’s a city operation under city supervision.

On that last note, I won’t suggest picking up a copy of the Rhino, where candidates will learn that Greensboro Coliseum director Matt Brown has a higher salary than the city manager.

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G’boro council signs off on ticket tax

The Greensboro City Council voted 7-2 to seek legislative approval for a $3 tax on tickets sold at the proposed downtown performing arts center.

Highly doubtful the entire Guilford County delegation will support this.

Update: Meanwhile, down in Charlotte, hotel tax money for a downtown Uptown stadium for the Knights. No property tax rebate, though.

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What did Skip Alston know about county bonuses?

Letter to the editor in today’s N&R on controversial Guilford County retirement bonuses:

As I read with disgust about the new approved retirement bonus for county employees, I have two questions.

1) Who are the commissioners who voted in favor of this bonus? (The public should know who they are.)

2) How do commissioners not know what they are voting for? Most of us with regular jobs would be fired for the same excuse.

To also find out that Brenda Jones Fox was part of putting this on the consent agenda with no discussion, then retiring and taking a $61,000 bonus, boggles my mind. Most of us normal working people are lucky to keep a job for 30 years and get that nice watch when we retire. I guess that was not good enough for Ms. Fox and her co-workers (she took the money and ran). This story reads like an organized crime story.

Steve Eglowstein
Kernersville

In Saturday’s editorial calling for commissioners to rescind the bonuses, the N&R repeats the claim that Republican Commissioner Billy Yow will get some sort of satisfaction over this mess. Again, I don’t see it. But the bigger question is what Chairman Skip Alston did and didn’t know as the consent agenda with the bonuses was being put together.

As I posted over the weekend, Alston sure sounded apologetic, but now the story line is he knew what he was doing the whole time and will support the bonuses when the commission addresses the issue next month.

Seems to me Alston is taking less heat over this issue than Yow. By the same token, they’re both outta here come November……..

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Where will G’boro get the ticket tax?

From Greensboro Assistant City Attorney Tom Carruthers’ draft amendment upping the city’s ticket tax to help pay for the proposed downtown performing arts center:

The proposed revision would allow the City to assess a fee up to $3.00 per ticket for any City owned facility that seats more than 2,750 seats and less than 4,000 seats. This terminology was utilized to avoid including other City owned facilities in this expansion of the City’s levy authority. The War Memorial Auditorium seats 2,460; The Greensboro Aquatic Center seats 2,500; the Special Events Center seats 5,000; the White Oak Amphitheater seats 7,000 and the War Memorial Baseball Stadium seats 7,000.

Like they’re ever going to get 7,000 people inside War Memorial Stadium. Help me out here — maybe I don’t know the city in which I’ve lived for 25 years as well as I thought— but what other city-owned facilities would earn enough ticket revenue to build a performing arts center?

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