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Roy Carroll wants to close Lindsay Street

High-powered developer and Rhino Times publisher Roy Carroll wants to close a portion of Lindsay Street to accommodate his new $50 million mixed-use project across the street from New Bridge Bank Park.

The Greensboro Planning Board has unanimously approved Carroll’s request. Next up is the City Council, which would take the matter up at its Aug. 19 meeting.

It will be interesting to see which way the council goes on this issue, considering that former council member Florence Gatten raised the biggest question:

“Lindsay Street connects Elm Street to Eugene (Street),” Gatten said. “It connects Greene Street to Eugene. It’s a major connector for people coming into the city or leaving the city who want to avoid that weird, strange triangle where Eugene, Battleground (Avenue) and Smith (Street) all come together.

“So the question I think that’s before you today is are we considering closing a downtown street for the convenience of a for-profit developer and negatively impacting the public’s convenience?”

Carroll says he will make his case in today’s issue of the Rhino. Stay tuned.

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Primary perspective

When I read the N&R headline:

Sports vs. politics: Attendance trumps turnout in Walker-Berger race

I thought they were going to report more people went to last night’s Grasshoppers game than cast vote yesterday’s runoff.

Not the case but close —in Alamance County, where 3,642 votes were cast, while last night’s Hoppers game —which was competing with the MLB All-Star game on a rainy night –drew just over 3,000.

But attendance N.C. A&T’s football home opener did topped the number ballots in Guilford, Alamance and Rockingham counties.

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Mark Walker takes 6th District

Not Even close– 57 percent to opponent Phil Berger Jr.’s 43 percent.

Opponent Laura Fjeld comes out swinging:

“Mark Walker is a radical extremist who doesn’t share the values of North Carolinians. He wants to raise taxes on millions of working families. Walker believes that women who are the victim of rape or incest should be forced to carry the resulting pregnancy. Walker would even outlaw some forms of birth control. This is 2014, we should be talking about jobs, not banning birth control,” Fjeld’s statement reads.

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Commissioners delay vote on Rockingham sales tax hike

At last night’s meeting the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to table debate over a quarter-cent sales tax hike on the November ballot:

(I)n a meeting that lasted over two hours and was punctuated with occasional applause from residents, commissioners voted to not take that step just yet.

“I want people to understand school construction caused this,” Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Craig Travis said. “It’s time for the people of this county to hold the school board accountable.”

Audience members applauded.

Meanwhile, down in Mecklenburg County the push for the sales tax hike off to a rocky start.

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Breaking: Reynolds moving on Lorillard

After months in limbo, multiple media sources report Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American Inc. >will purchase Greensboro-based Lorillard Inc.

But —as Richard reports in the Winston-Salem Journal— “the purchase details have several twists that analysts and industry observers did not foresee.”

Though Reynolds is buying Lorillard and its top-selling Newport menthol brand, it is not taking with it blu eCigs, the top-selling electronic cigarette in the United States. That will go to Imperial, along with Reynolds’ cigarette brands Kool, Salem and Winston, and Lorillard’s Maverick brand, along with other unnamed assets.

Imperial also would gain Lorillard’s Greensboro manufacturing plant and research and development operations and take over Lorillard’s workforce of 2,900.

That development should hearten Triad economic officials because the deal avoids the likelihood of hundreds of jobs being eliminated if Reynolds was buying Lorillard’s operations.

Lorillard’s stock fell $3.62 to $63.60 in premarket trading. Reynolds’ stock fell $1.58 to $61.60.

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Laura Fjeld, waiting in the wings

High Point Enterprise catches up with 6th Congressional District Democratic nominee Laura Fjeld as she waits (not much longer) to see whether she will face Phil Berger Jr. or Mark Walker in the November election. Whoever she faces will be coming off a bare knuckles fight in the final days before tomorrow’s runoff.

Two big questions for Fjeld—1) does she have a preference as to whom she’d rather face and 2) would she campaign with President Obama if the opportunity arose?

Fjeld, a former vice president with the University of North Carolina system who lives in Orange County, said she doesn’t have a preference as to whom she’d rather face between Republican hopefuls Mark Walker and Phil Berger Jr. But Fjeld told The High Point Enterprise during a recent interview that she believes the acerbic runoff campaign between the two Republicans will help her chances in the Nov. 4 general election.

Walker and Berger have traded pointed accusations and questioned each other’s personal integrity since the May 6 primary.

“So many people I meet are fed up with the dysfunction in Washington,” she said. “When you engage people, they immediately say we’ve gotten too focused on extreme rhetoric.”

….Fjeld deflected a question from the Enterprise about whether she would campaign with Obama if the president were to visit North Carolina before the general election.
“I really haven’t considered who I might campaign with. I have been running, since last August, really my own race,” Fjeld said. “I want to deliver my message, not anyone else’s message.”

And for what it’s worth, it’s not just me and John Hammer who see a conspiracy in the N&R’s endorsement of Walker. Greensboro resident George Cole writes in this letter to the editor:

I would like to thank the News & Record for its endorsement of Mark Walker. This had made my choice much easier. Looking at the liberal tone in all of the editorials, I see this as just another way to support someone that they think would sway that way. This is one of the most liberal, left-wing papers in the state.

We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow evening.

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Rockingham County sales tax hike?

At tonight’s meeting, the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners will debate putting a quarter-cent sales tax hike on the November ballot. The projected $1.5 million in extra revenue would go toward closing a $1 million budget shortfall due to debt service toward school construction:

“We know right now due to paying for the debt of already built schools, we face a $1 million shortfall in the next fiscal year,” board Chairman Zane Cardwell said.

A sales-tax increase would generate $1.5 million in additional revenue.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners made this same move last month in an attempt to generate an additional $14 million annually for education.

State law doesn’t allow the ballot question to list where the money goes. It can only describe a sales-tax increase.

Tha last point cannot be emphasized enough, so just for good measure I’ll refer to CJ’s Michael Lowrey:

Such statements of intent aren’t binding, though. Money is fungible, and counties can move money around as they please. Thus, what Mecklenburg and Guilford counties would like to do is tax more to spend more. And that remains a questionable goal, regardless of the state of the economy.

Something to think about when heading to the polls come November.

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Rhino endorses Berger Jr.

The Rhino endorses Phil Berger Jr. in next week’s 6th District Congressional primary runoff. John Hammer has lots of reasons for endorsing Berger, but also (not unreasonably) questions the N&R’s logic behind its endorsement of Mark Walker:

There is another factor that places Berger head and shoulders above Walker in this race, and that is electability. In the runoff Berger has outpaced Walker in campaign contributions by more than a 2-to-1 margin. The general election is coming up in November, when the Republican nominee will face a well-funded Democratic opponent. Proof of who the Democrats want to run against can be found in the News & Record endorsement of Walker. The N&R doesn’t want Walker to win in November, but the editors there know that Walker, with his limited fundraising ability and his inability to connect with mainstream Republicans, is the easier candidate to beat.

If Berger wins the runoff he is almost assured a victory in November. If Walker wins then the Democrats are going to throw money at the campaign of the Democratic candidate, Laura Fjeld, and have a much better chance of winning. If you want to see a Republican representing the 6th District then you should vote for Berger.

Meanwhile, the N&R ponders the question I posed earlier this week: why Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page has not endorsed Berger, the longtime county district attorney.

For what it’s worth, Guilford County Sheriff B.J Barners —who has endorsed Walker –weighs in:

“I know the relationship they’ve got and I know he doesn’t talk to Sam,” said Barnes, a friend of Page’s. “And I’ve got an issue with that. That’s not the relationship I’ve got with my DA. I’ve got a very good working relationship. I’m a Republican, he’s a Democrat, but we talk all the time and we work well together.

“I think that tells you a lot about Berger,” Barnes said. “You want someone who is easy to work with because he’s approachable, he’ll talk, and he’ll listen. That’s why I’m supporting Mark Walker.”

Berger says just look at his record. According to the N&R, “Rockingham is the No. 1 county in the state for percentage of convictions that include sentences in the aggravated range.”

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Gboro homeless shelter ass’t director out

Interactive Resource Center director Will Howard — the focus of the N&R series on alleged abuse of the homeless —is out:

Executive Director Michelle Kennedy declined to say whether Howard quit or was fired, citing personnel policies, but she confirmed that Tuesday was Howard’s last day at the IRC.

In a series of articles published in June by the News & Record, many people associated with the IRC complained that Howard abused his power as assistant director to punish and reward clients and volunteers. Complaints also surfaced of inappropriate behavior and remarks toward women at the center.

Apparently the last straw was Howard’s request that a GTCC instructor who was teaching GED classes at the center be reassigned. The instructor was a source in the N&R series, and after he was reassigned, he contacted Kennedy, who he said was “furious” and would “handle this right now.”

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Berger Jr. makes his pitch

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The former Guilford College third baseman also shows pretty good form as he throws out the first pitch at last night’s Grasshoppers game:

“It’s going to the right,” Berger said. “Like everything I do.”

Mark Walker, Berger’s opponent in the GOP runoff for the 6th District seat, threw out the first pitch Monday night — but Berger said he wasn’t worried about how he’d compare.

“It comes naturally to me,” Berger said, whipping out a cellphone to show off a picture from his days as a third baseman at Guilford College. “That was 30 pounds ago, but I can still do it.”

N&R also reports Berger has received an endorsement from Tea Party Express, “the country’s largest Tea Party-inspired political action committee.”

On the subject of endorsements, Walker has received the endorsements of Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes and Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson —maybe not something to brag about. But remaining silent is Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page, which doesn’t necessarily speak well for Berger.

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