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Dean Smith RIP

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Coverage is overwhelming –N&R devoted pretty much all of today’s paper to the legendary coach. But the best tribute I’ve read came from none other Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski in Smith’s NYT obit:

“I can’t think of a time I’ve ever heard him blame or degrade one of his own players, and in return his kids are fiercely loyal to him,” Krzyzewski told Sports Illustrated in 2005, adding: “He had a style that no one’s ever going to copy. To be that smart, to be that psychologically aware, that good with X’s and O’s — with that system, and to always take the high road — that just isn’t going to happen again.”

Pretty much says it all.

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WSFCS delays funding request for contaminated school site

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Beverly Emory met with the Board of Commissioners and successfully secured a delay for its $41 million funding request as it figures out what to do about contamination found beneath Hanes and Lowrance middle schools:

The school’s original request included $15.4 million to rebuild the aging Lowrance, which serves special needs students. The original plan was to build a new school on the same Indiana Avenue property it currently shares with Hanes Middle School. Some parents and community members took issue with that plan after the Journal reported that groundwater 35 to 80 feet beneath the property is contaminated with chemicals linked to cancer. Those chemicals can turn into vapor and seep into buildings. The new building was proposed to be built over areas with highest concentrations of groundwater contaminants.

The district has put its building project on hold and has ordered comprehensive soil-vapor and air-quality assessments for both Hanes and Lowrance. The tests, which will be conducted by Raleigh-based environmental engineering firm Mid-Atlantic, are expected to cost anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000. Results are not expected for at least three weeks.

Not sure if the school system can figure out what to do with Hanes and Lowrance —the WSFCS board meets Tuesday to ponder the option of moving students out for the rest of the year—in six weeks, given the chain reaction pulling the site for a new middle school would have on the system’s construction plans. The new schools might to wait for 2016 bond referendum.

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Golden LEAF ponies up for megasite

The Golden LEAF Foundation has pledged $50 million toward development of the Randolph County megasite. Earlier this week, the countuy’s Board of Commissioners voted to spend $4.1 million to purchase land that would be part of the megasite.

Hey why shouldn’t Golden LEAF pony up, given the pot of money they’ve been sitting on these many years. Not sure however how the megasite can fit into JLF chair John Hood’s earlier Resse’s Peanut Butter Cup analogy –chocolate and peanut butter, Golden LEAF and Global TransPark. Problem is those two have been “two of the worst tastes in North Carolina government over the past two decades.

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Wade’s shrinking City Council plan

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State Sen. Trudy Wade has introduced legislation that would restructure the Greensboro City Council:

Senate Bill 36 would shrink the size of the council, fundamentally change the role and powers of the mayor, lengthen council terms, and reduce the number of council members who are elected at-large.

The changes would mean that residents would vote for two council representatives — their district member and the mayor — instead of five.

The legislation also puts four current City Council members in the same newly drawn District 4. Council members Mike Barber, Marikay Abuzuaiter, Zack Matheny and Nancy Hoffmann would have to battle it out for a single seat.

Think the the N&R is fired up or what? Accompanying the banner headline is a front-page editorial calling Wade a “one-woman Nanny State” and residents to let local House members —the Senate “may pass anything that Wade and leader Phil Berger want”—know how they feel “through calls, letters, emails, and statements at council meetings and other public forums.”

I guess what gets me about our local paper of record is the concern about how Wade’s plan will dilute the power of voters while in the very same issue it praises the council for its 7-2 vote signing off a historical marker commemorating —-as the language was approved —-the “Greensboro Massacre.” With that vote, was the council taking into consideration the feeling of the majority of its citizens or caving to pressure from a fringe group that has held a grudge for last 36 years over an ugly incident that reflected well on nobody who was involved?

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Flipping Thom Tillis’ argument ad absurdum

Flipping Sen. Thom Tillis’ argument ad absurdum before everyone realizes the ridiculousness of the reporting on his comments regarding employee hand-washing practices and this whole “controversy” dies a quick death:

Even though it’s common sense, even though it’s basic hygiene, how many restaurant employees stare straight at the sign stuck to the bathroom mirror reminding them it’s the law to wash your hands after using the restroom and then don’t do it?

Something to think about right before the lunch hour.

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The Conspicuous Absence

Locker Room’s Julie Gilstrap bullet points Gov. Pat McCrory’s funding options for North Carolina’s transportation needs. Options include borrowed money, taxes, fees, etc. But something’s missing:

What’s conspicuous by its absence is almost any mention of saving money elsewhere, cutting spending in other parts of the budget, or reducing spending on transportation.

The Conspicuous Absence is hovers over pretty much every government spending debate, especially talk about how elimination of the business privilege tax is ‘big city hating.’

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Council approves ‘Gboro Massacre’ historical marker

With a 7-2 vote, the Greensboro City Council signed off on a historical marker commemorating the Nov. 3 1979 Klan-Nazi shootout. At issue was the language on the marker, which will identify that ugly incident in our city’s history as the “Greensboro Massacre.”

The ‘no’ voted were council members Tony Wilkins and Zack Matheny, who suggested alternate terminology such as ‘shootout’ or ‘tragedy’ instead of ‘massacre.’ As the N&R reports, some members of the audience –made up mostly of marker supporters — shouted shouted “Nazi” and “Klan supporter” at Matheny as he spoke.

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Thom Tillis and and hand washing

Fair enough, I didn’t get the joke a couple of weeks ago regarding Gboro’s ordinance banning photos in city parks.

So it’s good to see some people on Facebook—not to mention Daily Kos— taking to heart Sen. Thom Tillis’ suggestion that restaurants —he mentioned Starbucks specifically– be allowed to opt out of laws requiring employees to was their hands after using the bathroom.

Watch the video and you’ll see that Tillis’ comments were not meant to be taken literally.

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FCC blocking N.C. Internet law?

Toward the end of the last post I alluded to the N&R’s hands-off attitude toward the state legislature’s various moves affecting local government.

But I countered that the federal government sure doesn’t mind interfering in state affairs when they see the need. The latest example? The FCC’s move to overrule to North Carolina’s law preventing cities and towns from building out their own government-run Internet services.

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Super Bowl matchup–N&R vs. Rhino

Ok, not exactly the Super Bowl, but battles bewteen the daily N&R and the-alt-weekly Rhino have gone at it over the years but why not give a nod to today’s big game?provided quite a bit of entertainment over the years. (For what it’s worth, N&R sportswriters unanimously pick the Seahawks.)

This week Rhino editor John Hammer fired the first shot when he wrote he was “going to try and not write about News & Record columnist Susan Ladd every week, but her columns are so outrageous I can’t help myself.”

Hammer sure won’t able to help himself this week—in today’s column Ladd takes on Hammer’s boss—Rhino publisher and high-powered developer Roy Carroll —over Sen. Trudy Wade’s plan* to shrink the Greensboro City Council:

What he wants on the council, Carroll wrote, is a “diversified majority of business executives and owners.”

Really? Why not a majority of environmentalists? A majority of preservationists? A majority of educators?

A majority of any one constituency would unbalance the council. The council needs members from diverse backgrounds and different segments of the community to represent the people it serves. A council dominated by business owners might well make decisions that disenfranchise all the other groups, including homeowners and neighborhoods.

“The simple answer is that a business professional would rather be part of a smaller decision-making group in which that person could effect change,” Carroll wrote.

Is effecting change anything like getting your way? It sure sounds like that.

Maybe, for example, it would be easier to get the city to close a street to benefit your development.

Or to convince the city to enact a noise ordinance that placates your condo owners but hurts nightclub businesses.

Oh, wait. Carroll won both of those battles despite the objections of residents and other business owners.

How much more power does he need?

But Hammer might not find that as outrageous as Ladd’s claim that “aside from an occasional spat, is a high-functioning body that broadly represents the residents of Greensboro.”

Not sure how many City Council meetings Ladd has attended, but I’ll be it’s not as many as Hammer—maybe not as many as I’ve watched over the years on public access TV.

I guess it all depends on your definition of high-functioning—look as I’ve said Gboro’s a relatively mellow city where the living’s pretty easy, if that’s what you’re into —understand that the younger crowd finds it too boring.

In that sense, the council functions pretty well. But’s definitely right when he writes that the council allows itself to be “blindsided with controversial issues.” The security ordinance is a perfect example —the council passed the first version without adequate input from club and bar owners. So when club and bar owners started speaking out, the council made changes on the fly, and still nobody’s sure what kind of economic impact the ordinance will have.

Hammer adds (t)his council has a lot on which it doesn’t agree….. discussions on naming High Point Road “International Restaurant Row” were much more heated, as were the ones on giving a loan to Purpose Recycling and Bedex for recycling mattresses.”

But there’s no better example than a political blindside than this week’s debate over the proposed historical marker commemorating the Nov. 4 1979 Klan-Nazi shootout. I’ll go out on a limb and say that among a “broader representation of Greensboro residents,” the majority either want to forget about that ugly episode or don’t even know about it.

Odds are the council will sign off on the marker, and we won’t have to hear about the Klan-Nazi shootings again until maybe the 40th anniversary come 2019. But the debate won’t be pretty, and it certainly won’t reflect well on our elected representatives.

*Bonus observation— N&R’s attitude toward Wade’s plan —there is no legislation yet —is the legislature should keep its hand out of city matters. But Hammer did a little digging and discovered that none other than the U.S. Department of Justice dictated the current 5-3-1 representation.

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