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New name for Aycock Auditorium?

Outgoing UNCG Chancellor Linda Brady has appointed a 12-member committee to study a possible name change for Aycock Auditorium, the 1,600- venue that has anchored the campus on the corner of Tate and Spring Garden streets since 1927.

The auditorium is named after Charles B. Aycock, who served as governor from 1901 to 1905. But Aycock’s name also carries a taint of North Carolina’s white supremacist past, giving many schools and neighborhoods reason to rethink bearing his name.

Brady, however, was surprisingly diplomatic:

“Governor Aycock has been widely recognized at UNCG and other institutions across North Carolina because of his leadership in supporting higher education,” Brady said. “Unfortunately, some beliefs regarding race that have been attributed to him were shared by many others during a very different era in our history.

“Today we reject such beliefs and would not support the naming of a building after an individual who would express them.”

Brady’s retiring July 31 and who knows whetehr the committee will have a recommendation to the Board of Trustees by then, even if the goal is early May. Following the controversy surrounding the fired UNCG employees —which hasn’t completely been resolved, at least in the case of Lyda Carpen —Brady might not be in the mood to wade into another hot topic.

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Slowing down fast-track school funding

Two Forsyth County Commissioners — Gloria Whisenhunt and Walter Marshall —say ‘hold up’ on a ‘fast track’ funding plan to replace two schools.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the request tonight—wonder how that will turn out — and county commission chairman Dave Plyler stated publicly last week that WSFCS will have “no problem” with the funding, even though Republicans have a 4-3 majority on the board. But two of those Republicans –Plyler and Don Martin —are considered “moderate” Republicans. In addition, Martin is also the former WSFCS school superintendent —wonder how he’ll vote.

So it’s significant that Whisenhunt —a Republican –and Marshall –a Democrat –are teaming up th slow down the fast track. Marshall is particularly disturbed after first hearing about the funding proposal by reading about it in the Winston-Salem Journal.

And with another election year coming up —2016 will be here before we know it— Whisenhunt wonders why not just put the funding on a bond referendum? Keep in mind that all W-S five bonds on the 2014 ballot passed.

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Another unsettled civil rights legacy

News regarding Greensboro’s controversial International Civil Rights Center and Museum has been on the back burner for a few days now, but stay tuned.

Much has been made —-with good reason —about how the museum’s financial and organizational structure tarnishes the legacy of the Greensboro Four’s crucial role in the civil rights movement.

With Gboro’s issues in mind, NYT reports on the seemingly endless litigation among the children of Dr. Martin Luther King “over the ownership of their father’s personal effects and the stewardship of his legacy.”

“It is hard to fathom how the important legacy that the competing parties claim to be seeking to protect will be well served by yet another very public airing of the disputes and squabbles that have sadly divided the King family in recent years,” Judge Robert McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court wrote in an order attached to one of the recent suits.

In a hearing Tuesday morning, Judge McBurney could rule on whether the annotated Bible and Nobel medal belong to the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc. In January, two of the three directors — the brothers Dexter King and Martin Luther King III — voted to sell the items. Their sister, Bernice King, the third director, opposed.

Judge McBurney could also delay a ruling or send the case to trial. A tentative trial date is Feb. 16.

Another lawsuit involves the estate vs. the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change. In that lawsuit, “lawyers for the estate claim that it had been the single largest financial contributor to the King Center over the past decade, but that the two entities had recently suffered “a total breakdown in communication and transparency.”

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With friends like Nancy Hoffmann….

Atlanta-based Halpern Development has asked the City of Greensboro for a 60-day delay on its request to rezone 6 acres at the corner of Friendly Avenue and Hobbs Road in order to come up with a plan more suitable to nearby residents. A revised plan would mix in some residential development, but I don’t see where that’s going to appease the neighborhood —many proposals for high-density residential development meet with opposition from neighborhoods concerned about increased traffic.

Meanwhile, the N&R editorializes, citing a Facebook post from City Council member Nancy Hoffmann, who has stated her opposition to Halpern’s current plan:

In a Facebook post, Hoffmann challenged the Atlanta-based developer to be more creative. “For decades, throughout Greensboro, we have settled for mediocre development projects, lackluster architectural design, pedestrian shopping options, and uninspiring retail experiences,” Hoffmann wrote. “ … Why do we continue to accept the merely mediocre?” Hoffmann prefers “a mixed-use development that would combine the best of all possible residential and retail worlds.”

Good point. The city should use its leverage to negotiate the best possible use of the site, especially one as coveted as this.

OK– the N&R’s big on naming names, as evidenced by its reporting on Sen. Trudy Wade’s proposed plan to shrink the City Council.

With that in mind, to which ‘mediocre development projects’ is Hoffmann referring? Friendly Center, or its next-door offspring the Shoppes at Friendly Center? The Village at North Elm? Greenway at Fisher Park Apartments?

I’m not taking the side of the developers here —residents certainly have the right to protest development encroaching upon their neighborhood. But for a City Council member for to say that Gboro for decades has been settling for mediocre development when all I’ve is developers bending over backwards to meet the city’s desire aesthetically pleasing high-density development strikes me as disingenuous.

Little wonder business leaders want to shrink the size of the City Council. As for business leaders afraid to speak up over their desire to shrink the council, high-powered developer and Rhino publisher Roy Carroll writes:

If the business community really supports restructuring the City Council, why aren’t more people willing to speak up for these ideas? The simple fact is that most business leaders are smart enough to avoid speaking up publically in support of something that the City Council may not like. These same business owners are concerned about retaliation by offended councilmembers against those that speak up. I can’t blame them, I am just too hardheaded to stay quiet given the significance of the crossroads we are facing as a community.

Translation—with friends like Nancy Hoffmann, who needs enemies?

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New York Life ACC Tournament

Surprised this isn’t bigger news –read about it first in N&R columnist Ed Hardin’s blog post but haven’t seen widely reported elsewhere —the Atlantic Coast Conference has sold naming rights to it’s men’s basketball tournament.

Is there a bigger meaning here, considering the ACC Tournament is sailing away from Greensboro for quite a while following this year’s tourney? You’re darn right, Hardin says:

The irony of it is what stings. Here in Greensboro, we’re about to lose the tournament after March for a long time, until 2020, and now we have to endure other people calling it by its NASCAR name for the foreseeable future, a future that includes a couple of tournaments in Brooklyn, of all places.

Check out the logo. Is that our old Pilot Life building? Is that the Empire State Building? Are we being too thin-skinned?

You’re darn right we are.

Gboro will get the tourney back in 2020. After that, who knows?

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Gboro: First in transgender bathrooms

Rhino’s John Hammer notes the big news from Tuesday’s Greensboro City Council meeting—-the unanimous vote making Gboro the the first city in North Carolina to pass a resolution in favor of transgender bathrooms in all city buildings. Just to make sure the world knows about this distinction, Hammer suggests signage:

Greensboro: First in Taxes and in Transgender Bathrooms

Yes, the council did deal with more important issues, one of which is which of the Elm Street site to place the first building in the proposed Union Square Campus. The council is waiting on a decision from the Redevelopment Commission, and there was confusion over whether or not the council could instruct City Manager Jim Westmoreland to proceed with due diligence work before it was determined where exactly the building would sit.

But here’s the bottom line:

The reason for moving the building across the street seems to be simply because the project is not developing exactly as planned. The size of the building was reduced from over 100,000 square feet to between 80,000 square feet and 90,000 square feet because Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners did not agree to pay $450,000 a year for 10 years. GTCC and Guilford County reduced that to $150,000 a year for 10 years.

….Another factor pushing this is that the project is not moving along as quickly as the proponents thought it would, and it now looks like this will be the only building built on the site for at least five years.

Again, anyone who has lived Gboro for any length of time knows the city has been desperately trying to develop the corner of South Elm and Lee Streets. This is yet idea that seems great in theory, but nobody knows where the funding will materialize.

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Re: Randolph might buy megasite land

Randolph County Commissioners have scheduled a public hearing to consider buying land for proposed megasite that would attract an automobile manufacturer.

Commissioners want to spend $4.2 million to purchase 258 acres of the proposed 1,200-acre site. A state grant would provide $1.5 million of the funding, but where the rest of the funding will come from is less clear, as least as the N&R reports —“some of the money” the county “received from Waste Management Inc. to buy the rights to operate the county landfill” was “set aside for economic development.

No doubt commissioners will get an earful from county residents who don’t see the numbers adding up.

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Mabe will not resign

In its first meeting of the new year, Rockingham County Board of Commissioners took no action toward asking Chairman Keith Mabe to resign following his DWI arrest Dec. 13.

The issue was addressed, as Eden resident Keith London —who lost both daughters in a 2012 drunk driving accident, told Mabe “you let me down, you let our young people down and you let Rockingham County down.”

According to the N&R, Mabe “fidgeted and shuffled papers while avoiding eye contact.” Mabe has steadfastly maintained he will not resign.

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Friendly-Hobbs rezoning heats up—again—and again….

N&R reports City of Greensboro planning staff has recommended rezoning 6 acres on the corner Friendly Avenue and Hobbs Road for retail use, which once again will draw protests from nearby residents.

Next up— the city’s Zoning Commission and then—if necessary— the City Council.

Tom Terrell, attorney for the Atlanta-based developer, says his client has “gone above and beyond” in appeasing neighbors with the offer to leave at least 115 feet of land undeveloped and build a 13-foot wall.

“There is no other development in the Piedmont Triad that I am aware of where a developer has offered to construct a 13-foot tall wall adjacent to a residential area,” Terrell tells the N&R.

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Some liberal logic….

(Sound sinister music) …The dark side of lower gas prices…..increased traffic fatalities.

You guessed it —the solution is…..higher gas prices. Anybody else remember the days when higher gas prices were making Bush-Cheney and their evil oil buddies rich?

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