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Get on the ball, N&R

Most interesting exchange (1:41 mark) during last week’s Greensboro City Council debate over Sen. Trudy Wade’s controversial bill was between council members Tony Wilkins —a supporter — and Mike Barber — an opponent.

Barber, when speaking in opposition, made the comment that Wade’s bill was stomping all over the rights of Gboro’s roughly 300,000 citizens, to which Wilkins replied that if that’s the case then why have only a grand total of 36 people spoken out in public against Wade’s bill? Barber replied that “maybe only 40-50 people are feeling it right now, but when this consistently hits our print media, when they’re made aware that their government is changing and that they have absolutely no control and that it’s being crammed down their throat, you’ll see more than 26 or 36.”

Interesting statement, considering the fact that the N&R has been all over this issue right from the beginning, whether it’s banner headlines, editorials opposing the bill from every angle, blog posts from editorial writer Doug Clark or tirades from ultra-lefty columnist Susan Ladd. Lest you think out local paper of record is falling down on the job, pick up today’s edition and note yet another editorial stating that Wade’s bill disrespects Gboro’s citizenry.

When you’re out and about today, ask someone what they think about Wade’s bill and see if they even know what you’re talking about. Given that voter turnout for municipal elections is what –roughly 10 percent (at most)— I’d be willing to bet they don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not sure if that says more about the number of people who care about city government or who read the N&R.

I guess the question is whether or not people who don’t exercise their rights can have those rights taken away from them.

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Save the Suburbs!

NPR story on Italian architect Renzo Piano, who believes the future of Europe’s cities is in the suburbs:

Whatever he calls them, Piano believes “the suburbs are the place where energy is in the city — in the good, in the bad. When you say Milan or Rome or Paris or London, you mean that 10 percent of people [living] in the real center. But the 90 percent live in the outskirts.”

And there’s too much prejudice about those outlying neighborhoods. “They were built not with love and affection,” the architect says. “They are like a symbol of disease, of suffering, of bad environment. And that is not true. There is a kind of beauty in the suburbs.”

If Europe is doing it, then the U.S. must surely follow suit, especially since some fledgling downtowns are starting to get a little cramped.

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Gboro, A&T reach stadium deal

N&R reports the City of Greensboro and N.C. A&T State University have reached a deal in principle for the university to take over 89-year-old War Memorial Stadium:

n a letter Monday from A&T Chancellor Harold Martin to Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland, the university agreed to pay the bulk of the costs to renovate the venerable ballpark. The city will contribute $1.5 million toward repairs.

The deal still must be approved by both City Council and A&T’s Board of Trustees. Martin in the letter said he hopes A&T can take over the stadium by June 30.

“Significant renovations to the stadium will allow it to continue to be home to our baseball team and provide the university with an additional venue to serve students, alumni and the community,” Martin wrote.

Renovations to the stadium’s grandstand, bathrooms and locker rooms are estimated to be “at least” $4 million.

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Megasite by 2 o’clock

N&R front-pager featuring Timmons Group economic developer Mike Solomon telling us just how incredibly incredible the proposed Randolph County megasite is, as if supporters didn’t make it clear enough when convincing the Greensboro City Council to start the process of laying pipe to the site.

Solomon’s search ultimate megasite took him to Surry County, which “didn’t make the cut.” But if someone comes to Surry looking for a development site, Solomon says he “could have it by 2 o’clock.”

Remember Solomon has a track record of telling us something is just too good to be true, namely the Triad’s effort to attract Major League Baseball back in the late ’90s. In that case it indeed was too good to be true, or at least that’s the way taxpayers saw it when they voted down the stadium tax referendum.

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Your Gboro Urban loop primer

Biz Journal tells us why Greensboro I-840 Urban Loop will change everything.

Read here; listen here.

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Gboro taps into megasite

At last night’s meeting the Greensboro City Council voted 7-2 to authorize city staff to search for and select a design company to run water and sewer lines to the proposed Randolph County megasite. Council members tony Wilkins and Marikay Abuzuaiter were the ‘no’ votes.

Estimated cost to run water and sewer into Randolph County is $22 million. Council members voting in support emphasized that this is merely the first step and that the council was spending no money at this time. As you’ve no doubt been reading, a lot can happen regarding the City Council as city staff works through the process of selecting a design firm —council member Sharon Hightower alone will slow the process when assuring MWBE compliance— but does anyone how this council —if left intact by surviving either the upcoming municipal election or Sen. Trudy Wade’s restructuring bill —would vote as the process moves forward?

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Best-laid New Urbanist plans

Quick dispatch from Raleigh, which has been pushing the New Urbanist dream for years now:

After months of rumblings, the Raleigh City Council has taken up the question of whether downtown Raleigh’s nightlife is going from “vibrant” to over-saturated.

Some downtown residents, most notably the downtown mogul Greg Hatem, have claimed that noise and alcohol are making the city’s core “unlivable,” as Hatem put it. On Tuesday, the City Council and city staff talked about public health, private business and safety.

“Is there some point at which having an unlimited supply of bars is going to preclude us from having those other kinds of retailers?” said Councilman Russ Stephenson, referring to the Fayetteville Street area.

You guessed it — one Raleigh City Council member wondered aloud “whether the city could lure more retail through some kind of government program.” But wait it gets better:

The city will spend an extra $12 million beyond original commitments on its Union Station plan, bringing its total price tag to about $79.8 million. That change will triple the city’s share of the overall cost, from $6 million to $18 million.

…The city will cover the budget gap through a combination of $8 million in savings from a Falls of Neuse project and $5 million in special bonds that don’t require voter approval. The extra $1 million will be held in reserve.

With this spending Raleigh taxpayers can best hope as many people ride the proposed light rail as ride the Burlington city buses.

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Burlington gets on the bus

At last night’s meeting the Burlington City Council approved a $5 vehicle tax its public transportation system.

Mayor Pro Tem Celo Faucette said “now we have this, let’s get people to ride it.” Burlington is surprisingly dense in places, so it is hard to imagine the city has never had a bus system in place. That said, I hope the mayor pro tem—and the rest of the council for that matter— has no illusions about just how many people will actually ride the bus.

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Mark Walker in Salon

OK it’s Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at the head of this Salon piece on “Why conservatives refuse to believe Obama is Christian,” but keep reading and you’ll run into our own 6th District Rep. Mark Walker:

On February 24, 2015, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) said on the House floor that his constituents “shared with me their frustration at the ambiguous language from this administration in describing the evils of radical Islamist terrorism,” and that he himself has “grown weary at the timidity” of Obama, who “continues to be defensive, at best.”

….Contrary to Walker’s statement, which echoes a claim circulating in conservative circles that Obama did not identify the Coptic victims of the Islamic State massacre as Christians, at last week’s summit on countering religious extremism, Obama noted that that Islamic State’s “slaughter of EgyptianChristians in Libya has shocked the world.” Notice, in Walker’s speech, the juxtaposition of the statement that Obama “seems to scoff at the belief that our country has been uniquely blessed by God” (i.e., he’s not a Christian) with his own remembrance of the murdered Egyptian Christians “who clearly died for their faith and their beliefs.”

Gist of the article is conservatives believe Obama is a Muslim as opposed to being a Christian. I do not believe the president is a Muslim, but I do not believe he is a man of faith, either. Like the majority of radical liberals, government is his deity.

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Feds seize Gate City Transportation property

Biz Journal follow-up on story originally reported by WGHP that Gboro-based Gate City Transportation is under investigation for allegedly defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of millions of dollars by billing for services it did not provide.

An affidavit by federal investigators claims Gate City billed for ambulance service for its patients when the patients were only transported in handicapped-accessible vans. Federal officials have secured warrants to “seize property from the company, including cash from bank accounts and vehicles used to transport patients” while conducting the investigation.

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