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Mediator finds ‘no credible threat’ to HP human relations dir.

High Point Enterprise reports a report by a Raleigh attorney and certified mediator ” found that no credible threats to the lives” of City of High Point Human Relations Director Al Heggins or her assistant Tony Lowe.

Heggins and Lowe have been on paid leave since claimed that she feared for her life stemming from “racial tensions and institutional racism” within the city.

The mediator’s report was presented to the City Council by City Manager Greg Demko:

“These allegations are very serious and immediate action was taken to investigate the authenticity of these claims,” Demko said. “The investigator found that no credible threats to the lives of Heggins or Lowe exist and, accordingly, there is no reason why they should not be returned to work.”

He said Heggins’ allegations “have caused public confidence in the city to come into question,” and the release of a summary of the investigation “is essential in maintaining the public’s confidence in the administration of city services.”

Heggins and Lowe declined to be interviewed by the investigator and could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

According to the Enterprise, still hanging out there is Heggins’ complaint against the city with U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the controversy surrounding anti-racism training for HP police officers and the city forum in which was involved that addressed the topic of white supremacy.

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A thought about defending HB 263 in court…

Since N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper will not not defend HB 263 in the Greensboro City Council’s lawsuit….how about none other than Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, an attorney in his own right?

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Keith Mabe busted for DWI —again

Rockingham County Commissioner Keith Mabe was arrested and charged with driving while impaired—-for the second time in seven months:

A spokesman for the Highway Patrol said Sunday that a trooper attempted to pull over Mabe at 9:21 p.m. at the intersection of Shady Grove and Meadowood roads in Eden. Mabe, however, didn’t stop until reaching his driveway at 254 Meadowood Road.

He refused a Breathalyzer test and was taken to the county jail in Wentworth.

Sheriff Sam Page said Mabe was released into someone else’s custody.

After the first DWI charge, Mabe stepped down as county commission chairman but remained on the board. Fellow commissioners say that in spite of the second DWI, they have no legal authority to remove Mabe from the board unless he is charged with a felony. Chairman Mark Richardson says Mabe’s conduct “doesn’t reflect how our county behaves as a whole.”

Update: Rockingham County Commission Chairman Craig Travis that Mabe did not voluntarily step down as chairman —the board voted 4-1 to remove Mabe as chairman and replace him with Mark Richardson.

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More questions about Gboro council lawsuit

At this point, more questions than answers regarding the Greensboro City Council’s redistricting lawsuit.

Aside from the main questions regarding who will defend the redistricting —-Guilford County attorney Mark Payne, representing the county Board of Elections–the defendant in the suit—says “he and the board will not take a position on the constitutionality of the new law, but will speak only to whether and how it can be implemented”—-prompts the question if someone else—perhaps Attorney General Roy Cooper—will step up to be vigorously defend (???) the law.

Another question, pointed out to me by a trusted and valuable source—does U.S. Middle District Court Judge Catherine Eagles —who has been assigned to hear the case– live in Greensboro?

Judge Eagles has had a long career here in Gboro—she was an attorney with the Greensboro firm Smith Moore Leatherwood before she became a a resident judge on the Guilford County Superior Court back in 1993, and a search of county tax rolls shows a Catherine Caldwell Eagles residing at a Greensboro address.

Look, I’m not trying to violate Judge Eagles’ privacy to make a political point. By the same token, if she is in fact one of the citizens that the City Council claims would be adversely affected by redistricting, is it not a conflict of interest for her to preside over the case?

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GCS tablet supplier going out of business?

High Point Enterprise —-citing a Bloomberg story- reports Amplify Education Inc., which provides Guilford County Schools with tablet computers, is getting out of the tablet business.

School board member Linda Welborn is taking the news in stride:

“With education dollars going down, and with Amplify being a fledgling company, so I’m not surprised,” Welborn said. “The Apples and the like are going to survive better, but with education dollars going down the tube, there’s not a market for that.”

Like the way Welborn frames the news in the context of “education dollars going down the tube,” never mind the $30 million Race to the Top grant that funded the initial rollout of the tablets, which was a disaster.

According to the HPE, Amplify will continue to service its contract with GCS, but you have to wonder where the plan to get out of the tablet business will leave the school system a couple of years and millions of dollars down the road.

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Here’s a Gboro ranking for you…

Lots of news lately about where Greensboro ranks in various polls —remember the hand-wringing about the Gate City being ranked as among the hungriest cities in the nation?

Here’s a ranking for you—-the city reports WalletHub.com ranks Gboro as the fourth best city—-drumroll please —–to be a driver:

The website compared the 100 most populated US cities’ average gas prices, average annual traffic delays, rates of car theft, parking rate and other metrics to determine the top “haven-like” cities for drivers for 2015. See specifics below:

Being a Driver in Greensboro (1=Best; 50=Average)

1st – Average parking rates
14th – Number of car washes per 100,000 residents
16th – Average annual hours of traffic delays
16th – Number of car dealerships per 100,000 residents
18th – Rate of car thefts
22nd – Accident likelihood compared with national average

Honestly I’d feel a lot better if the rate of car thefts were a lot lower, not to mention the accident likelihood. Maybe this shows the value of such rankings.

By the same token I have to wonder advocates for mulitmillion-dollar greenways, expanded public transportation, high density development and walkability would react to this ranking.

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Conflict issues in Gboro lawsuit against HB 263?

After receiving instruction from the Greensboro City Council to begin legal proceedings against HB 263 restructuring the council, City Attorney Tom Carruthers made a point to say that his office’s relationship with the law firm Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard—where District 3 representative Justin Outling is an associate — was limited to providing advice on constitutional issues and that the city had not retained litigation counsel to handle a (possible) lawsuit.

Well, guess who’s representing the city in the lawsuit filed earlier this week? And the first two guesses don’t count (seems I’ve saying that a lot lately).

How is this not a conflict of interest?

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No home, no garden in HP core city

High Point officials scratching their heads trying to figure out why nobody is taking advantage of a city program that provides up to $7,500 in city loans to help those purchasing homes in the 11-square-mile core city:

Councilman Jeff Golden said from what he hears, many in the community apparently don’t know about the program.

He and other city leaders find this perplexing because the loans are available to anyone who qualifies for a mortgage on a house in the core worth less than $200,000.

The committee discussed tweaking the program to encourage more city employees to move to the core city.

Options include offering no-interest, forgivable loans.

“We need to get more middle-income people living in the core city, coming back trying to renovate existing housing stock,” said Deputy City Manager Randy McCaslin. “There is a lot of good housing stock there that needs to be renovated, and this is one way of trying to encourage people to do that.”

Don’t worry HP officials —-the Obama administration is on this. As for addressing “food insecurity” within the core city— well, they’re trying to figure out just how much liability insurance a community garden should carry.

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Matheny to Wade: Please don’t take my budget away

WFDD interviews former Greensboro City Council member and new Downtown Greensboro Inc. president Zack Matheny:

Matheny is concerned that a recent bill redistricting the city has been divisive. In fact, the city has filed a lawsuit over HB 263, which restructured city government. But Matheny says right now he is more worried about HB 97. The bill sponsored by Sen. Trudy Wade would make it easier for municipalities to abolish certain local self-imposed taxes.

“Senator Wade and I had a conversation on my first day on the job at DGI. She was very nice and she said she’s pulling for me and she can’t wait to work with me to help downtown Greensboro,” says Matheny.

He adds his response was also polite and respectful:

“Then please don’t take my budget away.”

As it stands now, Wade’s bill provides for an initiative and referendum process for residents of special service districts. Imagine this –the N&R is skeptical, noting the bill “plainly states it applies to ‘any service district,’ not just historic districts, as Wade claims.

Keep in mind DGI has been under fire for a couple of years now as has been its method of funding—as Eric Robert pointed out that BID tax funding for “clean and green services downtown” is “far too much to spend on ‘getting gum off of the sidewalk.'”

Does Matheny’s plea to Wade to “please don’t take my budget away” mean he knows how it would go down should a referendum on the BID be held?

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Testimony continues in N.C. voter ID trial

More testimony in the federal trial on North Carolina’s voter ID law in Winston-Salem:

William Alexander Kittrell, 20, of Greensboro testified Tuesday that he attempted to cast a ballot during early voting in October 2014 but was told by election officials that his voter registration was not in the system. He had previously lived in Henderson and thought that if he were registered in North Carolina, he could vote anywhere. He had lived in Greensboro a year before going to vote in 2014, he said.

“I was disappointed and frustrated,” Kittrell said when he discovered he couldn’t vote.
Before the 2013 election law was passed, Kittrell would have been able to register to vote and cast a ballot at the same time during early voting. But the new election law eliminated same-day voter registration.

This is the second day of hard luck stories by witnesses on behalf of the plaintiffs, who obviously are taking the strategy of playing on the heartstrings.

Whether or not state attorneys will continue to do an effective job of picking apart these stories remains to be seen.

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