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No answers yet on HP ‘dismantling white supremacy’ flier

Check that —-a city communications officer did provide an answer regarding the flier advertising a Human Relations Department forum on ‘dismantling white supremacy’ in High Point:

“The content and and language was taken directly from the presentation title,” said City Communications Officer Jeron Hollis.

Hard to believe Mr. Hollis did not see anything inflammatory about the language in the presentation, which was delivered by Guilford College professor Barbara Lawrence.

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Hardister, Blust want referendum on SB 36

N&R reports Greensboro Reps. Jon Hardister and John Blust are calling for a referendum to be added added to Sen. Trudy Wade’s Greensboro City Council redistricting bill:

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly negative. To be fair to the citizens, I can’t vote for this” without a referendum, Hardister said Thursday.

If Wade is correct that there is local support for the bill, a referendum would bear that out, Blust said.

“Given the controversy, it would be a mistake to mandate Greensboro’s form of government without having the public weigh in,” he said.

Interesting because —as the Rhino reports— Blust and Hardister stuck with the party when voting on other local bills such as the Wake County Board of Commissioners restructuring and the Trinity City Council restructuring. In the case of Wake County, there were strong calls for a referendum amendment to Sen. Chad Barefoot’s bill, but it was voted down. As the Rhino sees it, that bodes well for Wade’s bill in the House.

Yeah I know Hardister and Blust are elected to represent Greensboro —not Trinity or Raleigh — but certain political pressures are brought to bear, as Blust admitted when he said that going to odds with Senate leaders over Wade’s bill would “mean basically the session is over for me in realistic terms.”

Stay tuned–will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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Dismantling white supremacy in High Point

High Point City Council members are ‘taking issue’ with a flier promoting a Human Relations Department forum by —-you guessed it —a Guilford College professor that sets a “Framework for Dismantling White Supremacy and Establishing Real Justice in the 21st Century.”

Professor Barbara Lawrence has also chaired Greensboro’s interim police review committee.

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$50m in overpaid N.C. unemployment benefits

Winston-Salem Journal headline:

Audit finds issues at N.C. Division of Employment Security

That is if you call $50 million in overpaid benefits an “issue.” Division head and assistant Commerce Secretary Dale Folwell said “we are always appreciative of information from the State Auditor’s office that identifies weaknesses and potential solutions, and we are in the process of fixing them.”

And to think about all the howling over the evil Republicans refusal to extend unemployment benefits…

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Susan Ladd’s handy-dandy guide to fighting SB 36

OK the Greensboro citizenry is supposedly so fired up and so engaged in fighting Sen. Trudy Wade’s bill to restructure the City Council, yet they need N&R columnist Susan Ladd to hold their hands all the way to Raleigh to speak out against it in front of the House Elections Committee:

How to lobby in person

• Take a group, if you can. Visit legislators in groups of six or fewer, making each group as diverse as possible in terms of age, race and background.

• Make a plan. You might want to split into teams, with some teams assigned to representatives in the Legislative Building, and some teams assigned to representatives in the Legislative Office Building.

• Concentrate on Republican representatives, particularly those who have not declared a position either way. Democratic representatives are likely follow the lead of the Guilford Democratic representatives, who are solidly opposed to the bill.

• Note which county or counties they represent and use that as an icebreaker to make a personal connection.

• Give examples of grassroots support for your position, including the forums and hearings in Greensboro that drew hundreds of people who opposed the bill.

• Make your points concisely, because you probably won’t have much time.

• Bring a handout with your main points in writing to leave with each representative you visit.

• Thank them for their time, and follow up with an email.

Do not

• Overstate or misrepresent the facts.

• Talk down to a state representative.

• Display anger or be disrespectful.

• Call other legislators names.

Sometimes I wonder just how stupid our local paper of record thinks we are.* Apparently pretty stupid -publisher Jeff “Grits” Gauger didn’t pick up on one commenter’s sarcasm.

*On second thought, don’t answer that question— I just put my check in the mail to re-up my subscription.


Electricites ‘nominal’ $89 million debt restructure

High Point City Council member Latimer Alexander voted against Electricities Board of Directors’ plan to refinance its $1.35 billion debt:

ElectriCities projects that the cost of the restructuring would be $89 million, with High Point’s share of this about $20.4 million.

“(Other board members) continued to say the cost of the refinancing is nominal, and I said, ‘Are you telling me $89 million is nominal?’ And they said it was because it’s over 16 years,” said Alexander. “The cost to High Point is not nominal. Those are real numbers. The bottom line for High Point electric customers is, the refinancing costs you $21 million more.”

The debt restructuring plan is driven by other cities’ desire to lower their electric rates short-term. Alexander says the refinancing plan jeopardizes High Point’s projections for “a 5 percent rate increase this year, then no rate increase at all over the next five years, and then a very substantial, double-digit rate reduction five years from now.”

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GCS Title I tweak

Read the headline “Poverty stricken Guilford County schools face large cuts” on yesterday’s big N&R front-pager and you’ll think it’s the typical schools funding cuts story.

But read closely— the Board of Education tweaked the allocation of federal Title I funding to redirect to the highest-poverty schools. A noble gesture, no doubt –but now poor schools who will lose Title I designation under the new formula are asking ‘where’s the money?’

The school board plans to revisit the issue at its April 14 meeting.

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Megasite bills working way through legislature

N&R front-pager on competing House and Senate bills that in theory would help attract an automobile manufacturer to the proposed Randolph County megasite:

House Bill 117 would modify tax codes for companies that spend $1 billion to build a plant and would create a special $20 million fund to help a community run water lines, electricity or other major utilities to develop a site for such a company.

….The city of Greensboro has offered, but not approved, about $22 million to build water lines to the site.

Greensboro officials have hinted that the city would not ultimately foot the bill for that expense.
The $20 million state infrastructure fund would be one way to reimburse Greensboro if it’s available.

That’s a pretty big ‘if,’ especially considering the City Council’s battle with the legislature over SB 36. It’s all politics, remember.


Notes from the Guilford County education scene


*Education quote of the day—from Guilford Elementary School Spanish teacher Todd Warren regarding the Senate bill that would limit political activity by public school employees(emphasis mine):

“Teachers aren’t the most politically active people anyway, but right now there are a lot of people who are afraid for their jobs if they speak out on some of these issues. This could just make that worse.”

Really? Could have fooled me;

*Oops –Guilford County Board of Education member Chris Gillespie –who filled the District 1 seat after Carlvena Foster bolted for the Board of Commissioners —resigns after an anonymous caller gives him a hot tip —Gillespie actually lives in District 2. Now school officials have to review votes where the outcome would change without Gillespie’s vote;

*Locker Room’s Terry Stoops says that’s not cool; he also takes a closer look at Superintendent Mo Green’s requested $26 million budget hike:

…And don’t get me started on the fact that GCS employed 67 central office administrators and managers last year. Local dollars paid for 39 of them.

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Low levels of toxic vapors at Hanes-Lowrance…now what?

Winston-Salem Journal –which broke the story of groundwater contamination beneath Hanes and Lowrance middle schools —- reports test results by a Raleigh-based environmental consulting firm show toxic vapors are not present in significant levels:

Superintendent Beverly Emory said she hopes the report will be the starting point for deciding the property’s future.

“I’m hopeful the data gives us the power to discuss future possibilities” Emory said. “That’s a valuable piece of property.”

Board members who voted to move students mid-year said they did so out of an abundance of caution. It was a controversial decision, causing elation among some parents who aggressively advocated for closing the schools and angst among some in the community who thought it unnecessary.

“Some people are going to point to these tests and say you made the wrong decision,” said Carol Templeton, parent of an eighth-grader at Hanes. “You made the right decision.”

Board member Elisabeth Motsinger has been vocally opposed to moving the students and maintained the safety of the schools since the Winston-Salem Journal first reported on the groundwater contamination in January. The results supported that position, she said.

“It’s really important to me that children not spend the next decade of their life feeling like they were put at undue risk, because they were not,” Motsinger said.

Now WSFCS and its board have some tough decisions ahead. I can perfectly understand the sentiments of the parent quoted above, but should the decision to keep the students off the campus for the ’15-’16 school year not be revisited? And what about plans to build a new school on the site, for which Emory withdrew her support in light of the Journal’s reporting? Appears to me she’s already revisiting that decision.

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