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‘Republicans don’t give a damn about African Americans’

Hey, everybody already knows that, right? But I guess you have to give state Rep. Alma Adams credit for saying it out loud.

That said, I believe Adams’ opponent in 12th District Congressional race—former Charlotte journalist Vince Coakley— disagrees with that point of view. Coakley faces an uphill battle in the heavily Democratic 12th, but here’s to making the effort to discredit such outrageous statements by one of our elected officials.

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Mary Willingham’s UNCG thesis

Turns out that UNC athletics whistleblower Mary Willingham completed her master’s thesis —entitled “Academics & Athletics — A Clash of Cultures: Division I Football Programs”—- at UNCG. And now posters on Carolina’s athletics message board have picked apart Willingham’s thesis and are accusing her of plagiarism:

Posters at Inside Carolina, a UNC-CH sports fan site, found that several passages in the paper appeared to be cut and pasted from several published sources. Several of those sources were listed in the bibliography. At least one — a 2006 letter from then-U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas of California to Myles Brand, the NCAA president at the time — was not.

The News & Observer reported that it found several questionable passages when it examined Willingham’s paper with an online site called WriteCheck that can point out possible examples of plagiarism.

Willingham, a former athletics department tutor, blew the whistle in 2011 on lecture classes in the former African and Afro-American Studies department that didn’t actually meet. A UNC-CH investigation later found more than 200 no-show university classes over nearly two decades.

The Chronicle of Higher Education picks up the story, but only refers to UNCG as the “university’s Greensboro campus.”

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W-S $139m bond goes on the ballot

At last night’s meeting the Winston-Salem City Council voted unanimously to put five bond proposals totaling $139 million on the Nov. 4 ballot.

But the council also approved $60 million for improvements to the Benton Convention Center and –you guessed it —- Union Station —-”using a separate type of bond that does not require voter approval.”

Surely the City Council believed that a bond for improvements to Union Station –which would be the hub for the city’s long-range mass transit plan —-would still pass if it were on the ballot—- in their dreams.

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‘A well intentioned but costly decision’

That could describe a lot of things these days, but in this case we’re talking the ElectriCities deal:

Residents of these communities are often flummoxed by this odd system, in which municipalities in the ElectriCities network act as a middleman of sorts, buying power and then reselling it to customers. The concept is a product of the energy crisis of the late 1970s, when energy prices spiked. Communities looking for a long-term stability banded together and invested in power generating plants. The debt incurred when these cities invested in generating plants and built distribution systems is figured into residents’ power bills.

Meanwhile, energy prices stabilized. Residents of ElectriCities are now stuck paying off debt that won’t expire until 2026, while their counterparts with regional cooperatives and Duke Energy enjoy cheaper electricity. Over time, that additional cost can run into thousands of dollars per customer.

Closer to home —High Point’s ElectriCities legacy.

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Chieu di Vo’s autopsy

In his recent column N&R ed page editor Allen Johnson takes a parting shot at Greensboro Police Chief Ken Miller over the March police shooting of a knife-wielding citizen.

Probably due to Johnson’s column, Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Ron Neumann offers up some details on the incident, in which Officer T.D. Bloch shot Chieu Di Vo, 47, a Vietnamese immigrant who approached him with a knife and ignored his orders to stop. While this does not constitute an official release of investigative reports, the details—as least as reported by the N&R —appear to absolve Officer Bloch.

The N&R also reported the medical examiner released the autopsy report on Chieu and —reader alert—spared few details:

Chieu-di Vo’s body arrived at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner dressed in a dark blue hospital gown and wrapped in a blanket.

Numerous tubes and bandages remained attached to her body, according to the autopsy report. She had small incisions where catheters protruded from the skin of her groin, chest, neck and left wrist.

Surgeons had stapled her stomach, sutured her intestines and removed parts of her bowel.

“Fingernails and toenails are covered with flaking pink-red polish,” the autopsy report states.

Joe Gamm’s police reporting has come under fire in recent weeks for letting assertions stand for facts. This time he overdoes it, though I honestly suspect he’s just trying to fill the word count. All I know is if the N&R was trying to secure some semblance of dignity for this woman, they sure blew it.

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Joe Raymond: Not just another white guy

Rhino write-up on new Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services director Joe Raymond. Note Commissioner Ray Trapp’s initial reaction:

“When I found out, I was like, OK, here we go – another white guy,” said Trapp, who was openly in favor of naming Merle Green, who heads up the county’s public health services and who will now work for Raymond.

“But I looked at the resume and you can’t argue with that,” Trapp said. “Ivy League – Guilford College-educated with a degree from Harvard.”

Even more impressive than Raymond’s education is his handling of Forsyth County’s Medicaid backlog, as related by County Manager Dudley Watts:

Watts said that, when there were problems recently on the horizon in Forsyth County that were going to lead to a big Medicaid applications backlog, Raymond came to him and laid it all out in the open, telling Watts, “This is coming down the pipeline and it’s going to be ugly and it’s going to be written about in the media.”

That’s a stark contrast to how the Guilford County DSS handled the problem of its backlog earlier this year.

Stark contrast indeed, where no one seemed to know the number of backlogged food stamp application in Guilford County.

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Gboro performing arts center opening in ’17

N&R reports the Steven B. Tanger Center for the Performing Arts will open in 2017. That’s later than originally planned, but “city officials say the delay was worth it to make sure the financing was secure.”

At issue is the nonprofit Community Foundation’s portion of the $65 million center. The city’s kicking in $30 million with the rest coming from the Community Foundation, ostensibly through private donations.

Community Foundation president Walker Sanders said all along a loan would have to be secured to cover the donations and that the foundation alone would be responsible for the loan should the donations come up short. Hopefully everything will go as planned and the city will not end up picking up the other half of the funding as well.

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‘Insect-infected megalopolis’

Triangle Business Journal reports:

An insect-infested megalopolis will stretch from Raleigh to Atlanta by 2060.

That’s according to a new study by the Department of Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center and N.C. State University that calls for “significant” changes to land development in order to thwart what scientists fear could be an ecological nightmare.

“If we continue to develop urban areas in the Southeast the way we have for the past 60 years, we can expect natural areas will become increasingly fragmented,” says Adam Terando, the adjunct assistant professor at N.C. State who served as lead author for the study. “We could be looking at a seamless corridor of urban development running from Raleigh to Atlanta, and possibly as far as Birmingham, within the next 50 years.”

I marvel at people constantly telling me that guys like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are using fear to prey on the ignorant masses in order to advance their agenda. Darned if this isn’t using fear to advance an agenda—what makes it worse is we’re paying for it.

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Who is this Bob Bencini?

The Rhino’s John Hammer follows the Greensboro City Council’s email spat over city contract hires. One of those hires under scrutiny is local blogger Ben Holder, who was hired at a rate of $45 per hour “to help neighborhood improvement efforts.”

But there’s another deal on the table: former Guilford County planning and economic development director Rob Benicini, who would contract to “help the City Council develop some kind of comprehensive economic development plan.”

The plan to hire Bencini drew questions from council member Sharon Hightower:

Hightower responded, “Is this Bob Bencini who is running for the Mayor of High Point? If so, bad decision, we don’t need to be in the middle of politics in another city. Where did this recommendation come from? Who made this decision? What in the world is our problem?

No that would be Guilford County Board of Commissioners chair Bill Bencini, who indeed is making a run for HP mayor. I would hope a Greensboro City Council member would be more well-versed in local politics in order not to make such a mistake for the whole to see, but oh well.

The bigger problem is Rob Bencini is friends with fellow council member Mike Barber, going back to Barber’s days as a county commissioner. Another problem is Bencini’s brief —45-day— tenure as economic development director down in Washington County. Hammer says “there is a story there, but the folks in Eastern North Carolina have been tight-lipped and unwilling to talk to a newspaper named after a large, herbivorous, thick-skinned perissodactyl.”

But there’s one more issue —as Bencini has carved out a career as a consultant, he has written several op-eds giving his views on economic development, and they don’t necessarily jibe with the way the city thinks these days.

In a front-page N&R article late last year, Bencini said Gboro has experienced “a migration from pretty reasonable economic development practices to one that is led by sheer desperation,” which means that “every time someone suggests they want to do something, especially downtown, the check book opens up…”

Bencini also wrote there are times when “regionalism does a city wrong, and anybody who has followed Mike Barber’s political career knows he’s a big regionalism guy.

So should Bencini get the contract, it will be interesting to see what he produces and if it’s what the City Council wants to hear. Either way —as John Hammer put it –it’s nice to have friends in government.

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I’d like to thank the EPA…

…For ordering up such a beautiful week so that this doesn’t happen:

….Greg Andeck of the Environmental Defense Fund says that leaving climate change unchecked could hurt the economy, particularly in the Southeast, which is the region expected to be the most affected by increasing temperatures. Extremely hot days upwards of 95 degrees could cause a decrease in labor productivity in the construction, mining, utilities, transportation, and agricultural sectors, he said.

Not happening this week. If you’d like to thank the EPA, you can submit your public comment on global warming climate change between now and October.

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