Author: John Hammer

About John Hammer

Here are my most recent posts

Two New Faces on Nine-Member City Council

For the next four years Greensboro will be run by a City Council made up of eight women and one man. Seven members of the current City Council won reelection easily on Tuesday, Nov. 7, but Michelle Kennedy defeated At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber and Tammi Thurm defeated District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins. Wilkins is the only Republican on the City Council and Barber is its most conservative Democrat, so although most of the City Council is returning, the two new councilmembers will definitely turn the City Council left.   Mayor Mayor Nancy Vaughan easily won her third...

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Under the Hammer: Nov. 9, 2017

It appears that special prosecutor Bob Mueller is doing what federal prosecutors do – they charge somebody at a relatively low level of an organization with a host of crimes and then make a deal to get more information and move up the ladder. Whether or not Paul Manafort plays this game is yet to be seen. But if this isn’t what Mueller is doing, why, when he is supposed to be investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, is he bothering with charges against Manafort for activities that happened long before there was a Trump campaign? And after all this investigating, where is the evidence that there was any collusion at all? The fact that someone associated with the Trump campaign met with a Russian doesn’t prove that there was any collusion to commit a criminal act; and if there was no crime, why is there an investigation? Someone should be asking why Manafort was charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) when John and Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group – who Manafort was working with and who committed the same crime – have not been arrested. Is this a case where when Republicans associated with the Trump campaign do something it is a crime and when Democrats associated with the Hillary Clinton campaign do the same thing it isn’t? Why hasn’t...

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People Vote, Council Shifts

Tuesday night, Nov. 7, Greensboro took a turn to the left, but not as sharp a turn as it appeared might happen in the primary when 38 candidates filed to run, including some of the most radical candidates Greensboro has ever seen in a City Council election. The newly elected City Council has no Republicans and is made up of eight women and one man, and, interestingly, not a single white male. The lone male on the City Council is District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling, who is black. It is certainly the first time Greensboro has not had a single white male on the City Council, and Greensboro may be the first major city in North Carolina not to have a white male on the City Council. Perhaps we’re out in front of everyone else. One consideration when looking at the outcome is that Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson and City Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Sharon Hightower, Goldie Wells, Justin Outling and Nancy Hoffmann didn’t face a serious challenge in their reelections. Hoffmann and Vaughan had the closest races and they both won with 67 percent of the vote, which is considered a landslide. So seven of nine members of the City Council were elected by large margins, indicating that the voters are very satisfied with them. But then the two who lost – At-large City...

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Rhino Shorts: Nov. 9, 2017

It wouldn’t be election day without a crisis. Early Tuesday afternoon, due to problems at the substation, two polling places – G04 at Genesis Baptist Church and G05 at Peeler Recreation Center – lost power for the rest of the day. Guilford County Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said that the polling places never closed because the voting machines can operate on battery power for several hours, and during the day it was light enough to work. Generators were rushed over to the precincts as darkness fell and, according to Collicutt, the poll workers were operating with the flashlights in their smart phones until the generators got going. They also brought in outdoor work lights to light up the parking lot. Collicutt said he wanted to have the outdoor lights so that people would know the polls were open when, not just the polling place, but everything in the area was dark. Collicutt said that although some people may have thought the polling place was not open, they had one voter come in who said he wasn’t planning on voting but, with his electricity off, he didn’t have anything better to do. ***** It’s interesting, for the first time News & Record Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson and I could remember, we endorsed almost exactly the same candidates in the City Council election. The only difference was in District 2...

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Under the Hammer: Nov. 2, 2017

How about starting with some good news. Consumer confidence is higher than it has been since 2000. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity. So if consumers are happy the economy clicks along. Economic growth is up over 3 percent for the second straight quarter. Home prices are up, unemployment is down and the stock market continues to hit new highs. But the really good news is that this is all before the major tax overhaul that the Republicans in Congress are promising to pass this year, which is projected to cause the economy to take off. One reason the Democrats are so apoplectic about President Donald John Trump is that they know presidents get reelected if the economy is doing well and lose if the economy is doing poorly. Trump has already done what former President Barack Obama was unable to do during his eight years in the White House, which is get the economy going again. Although it may seem like a lot longer, Trump has been in office for less than a year, and he came into office not knowing a whole lot about the job. Even presidents who have long experience in elected office and the federal government say the learning curve for being president is steep and there is nothing to really prepare you for it. Trump continues to learn more...

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Rhino Shorts: Nov. 2, 2017

They say that time flies when you’re having fun and I must be having a blast because I can’t believe it’s November. It seems like a few minutes ago it was May. Next week a new City Council will be elected and then I think the next day is Thanksgiving, Christmas, the next week and then its 2018. I remember when there were about five years between the start of school and Christmas. Now it seems like at most a couple of weeks. ***** The Muse was told that our local pharmacy is closing – the store that most people refer to as the Walgreens on the corner of Lawndale and Cornwallis. We call it Dru-Ace-Macy because at one time it was Drug Palace Pharmacy, and if the lights on all the letters were ever operating, it was on a day I wasn’t driving by. It seemed like the name changed daily as letters came on and off, but the one we liked the best was Dru-Ace-Macy, so that is what we have always called it. Although Rug-Lace-Harm ran a close second. Anyway, there are plenty of other drug stores around, which no doubt is why this one is closing, but it is always sad to see an old friend...

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Get Your City Council Endorsements Here

The 2017 City Council election is historic even before the votes are counted because, for the first time, the mayor and Greensboro city councilmembers will be elected for four-year terms. The next City Council election will be in 2021. Early voting will continue until Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m., and the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7 will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. If you want to vote in an election where your vote really counts, this is a good one because voter turnout in the primary was about 8 percent, and people who claim to...

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Vaughan Leaves Day Job on Eve of Election

The Guilford Green Foundation announced Tuesday, Oct. 31 that Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan would no longer be the Guilford Green executive director as of Wednesday, Nov. 1. It’s a little odd to announce one day that the executive director is leaving the next, but Vaughan said that she had actually stopped working full time about a month ago and the board had simply decided it was time to make the announcement. Vaughan said she had been asked to join the Guilford Green Foundation board as an indication that it was an amicable parting. Certainly, as director of the foundation,...

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Make Your Vote Count By Voting

Back in the summer it looked like this City Council election was going to be boring. A couple of names were popping up on the radar screen but nobody that sounded like they were going to mount much of a campaign. But that assessment turned out to be completely wrong. First of all, by the time filing was over, it seemed everybody in the city with a couple of extra dollars in their pocket had filed to run. The total was 38 candidates – the most ever. And then five dropped out before the primary. Why drop out? Your name is going to be on the ballot anyway. You might as well stay in there and see what happens. In the past, some candidates who refused to campaign have won because the voters didn’t know who they were but they knew they didn’t like that other guy. In the summer it looked like District 2 Councilmember Jamal Fox wouldn’t have any trouble getting reelected, but then love won out over political ambition and Fox decided to move to Portland, Oregon, and get married rather than stay in Greensboro and run for reelection. The City Council got to pick a replacement for Fox and chose former City Councilmember Goldie Wells, who had indicated she would finish out the term but not run for election. “Indicated” is the key word. Wells...

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Greensboro Needs a Barber on City Council

Candidates often say, “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” Which makes me think this may be the most important election of your lifetime for you, but not for me. However, the 2017 Greensboro City Council election is historic, and more important than most. The City Council terms for the first time are four years, which means if the voters believe they made a mistake, they don’t have the option of correcting that mistake in two years. The next City Council election will be in 2021, which sounds like a long way away. Greensboro is poised for a period of long overdue growth. Other cities in North Carolina have experienced far more growth than Greensboro in the past 10 years, but currently Greensboro has everything in place to take off, and what the city desperately needs is an engine to fuel that growth – and that means jobs. In this election, Greensboro can either choose to continue on the path we are on, which has a good chance of attracting the kind of industry Greensboro needs to provide that growth, or Greensboro can take a sharp turn to the left, which means taxes will skyrocket and industry will look elsewhere. Going forward, Greensboro needs At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber for four more years. The long term makes the reelection of Barber even more of a necessity for...

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Readers Digest Version of Candidates’ Forums

The City Council candidates have had a plethora of forums in the past week. Rather than write about each one, I’ve taken some of the comments made at three forums and combined them together.   Mayor In the mayor’s race, Mayor Nancy Vaughan talks about her service to the community as a city councilmember for eight years, then as mayor for four, as well as serving on a long list of civic boards and commissions including the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, which is of particular note with all the emphasis on development in the airport area. Mayoral candidate Diane...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 26, 2017

The “It’s Finally Fall” Schmoozefest is 6 to 8 p.m., Oct. 26 at Rue-Bar, 318 N. Elm St. in downtown Greensboro. For those who sign in and wear a name tag, there will be free beer, wine and snacks while they last. ***** Imagine for a moment you are trying to help a millennial who has been living in his parents’ basement since he graduated from college five years ago and has never worked. You ask him how his job hunt is going and he tells you that he heard Cone Health was looking for a new CEO, so he has applied for the job and is now waiting to hear if he got it. You ask, just to make certain, and find out that, no, he doesn’t have any background in medicine, administration or business. His degree is in sociology and his only job since college has been part-time, working for a caterer who is one of his mother’s friends. So you ask why he thinks he can start right at the top of one of the largest employers in Greensboro in a field that takes considerable expertise. He tells you that applying for the job was a good experience and he did a very neat job with the application. He filled in all the blanks and is pretty certain he will be considered because he is young,...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 26, 2017

After years of debate over creating the position, and months of looking for the right person to fill it, Guilford County has finally chosen a public relations specialist dedicated to handling the press, interacting with the public, making announcements for Guilford County – and, more generally, putting a positive spin on county actions and missteps. For that challenging job, Guilford County has selected Worley Smith. The county hired Smith away from the City of High Point, where he was serving as a communications specialist in the Communications & Public Engagement department. In his new position with Guilford County, Smith will have the same title – “communications specialist” – but he’ll have broader duties than he did at his previous job. Smith will work in the Guilford County clerk to the board’s office under Clerk to the Board Robin Keller at a starting salary of $60,000 a year. Worley said he’s delighted about the new opportunity and that he’s eager to explore ways for the county to enhance its communication with the public. “This is an opportunity to advance my career and, also, I am moving closer to home,” said Worley, who lives in Greensboro but has commuted to High Point for the last two years. He said Guilford County’s social media efforts will be one point of emphasis for him. “There is an opportunity to brush up on social...

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District 2 City Council Candidate Jim Kee Joins Republican Party Mid Campaign

Politics is full of surprises. District 2 Greensboro City Council candidate Jim Kee changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican on Wednesday, Oct. 18. The City Council races are nonpartisan, but the political affiliation of the candidates is considered a factor in the races. Kee said that the timing for his party switch may not have been the best, but he added, “Basically all my support has come from Republicans in every campaign I’ve run. I’ve been meeting with Republicans and they said, we’ve been supporting you and you have conservative views but you aren’t a Republican.” He...

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Candidates’ Forums Busting Out All Over

This is City Council candidates’ forum season, with four scheduled this week. Tuesday, Oct. 17, the League of Women Voters and the News & Record held a forum for mayoral and at-large candidates in the main hall and then held mini-forums for each district in separate rooms. A couple hundred people attended, which is a huge crowd for a candidates’ forum. Mayor Nancy Vaughan, who won the primary with over 61 percent of the vote, and Diane Moffett, who finished second with 22 percent, each answered questions from moderator Bill O’Neil of WXII 12 News. Vaughan talked about what...

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City Council Takes Up Uber, Sister Cities

At the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 17, representatives of Blue Bird Taxi complained about competition from Uber. The Washington Post on Wednesday, Oct. 18 ran a front-page article about the fight between Uber and London taxi companies. City Councilmember Mike Barber noted at the meeting that this was an issue that was not unique to Greensboro but was being raised all over the country. With Uber, the passenger uses an app on their smart phone to contact the company, giving them their location and the time they want to be picked up. Uber responds with an...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 19, 2017

The Rockingham County commissioners voted unanimously this week to ask the state to allow Rockingham County to place public notices on its own website instead of being forced by state law to buy ads in a paid circulation newspaper. The county commissioners said that over 95 percent of the people in Rockingham County had access to the internet, which was far higher than the number that subscribe to the newspapers. The commissioners also noted it would save them about $28,000 a year. The law recently passed by the state legislature allowing public notices to be placed on the county’s website, as well as in paid circulation newspapers, only applied to Guilford County. So our neighbor to the north liked what it saw and wants to join Guilford County in admitting that the way people get information has changed. County budgets are tight and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners supported the original bill to make the change to allow electronic notices statewide. It seems likely that other counties will also request the legislation. It will be an interesting fight to see how long the paid circulation newspaper lobby can keep its monopoly on public notices. ***** Maybe I’m not as smart as most people when it comes to signs and directions, but I don’t have any trouble getting to the airport in Charlotte, Raleigh or St. Louis, Missouri...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 19, 2017

It’s funny when the shoe is on the other foot. When former President Barack Obama used executive orders to implement policies that he couldn’t get through Congress, the Democrats and its public relations arm – the mainstream media – said it was a brilliant use of presidential power. The Republicans said that Obama thought he was a dictator and had overstepped his authority. Now President Donald John Trump is using executive orders to do what Congress won’t do. The Democrats and the mainstream media are apoplectic and accuse Trump of overstepping his power. The Republicans are, of course, divided. Some side with the Democrats that Trump is behaving irresponsibly, but others applaud his actions. With Obamacare, Trump gave Congress plenty of time to repeal or replace it and Congress failed to do anything, so Trump has now signed the death warrant for Obamacare. When Trump was elected he didn’t seem to realize that his biggest opposition in Washington would come from the Republican-controlled Congress. Trump seemed to assume, as did most people, that the Republicans would put the election, where they didn’t support Trump, behind them and work with the new Republican president. It took Trump about six months to realize that it was senseless to try and work with Congress because the incompetence level of the current Congress cannot be exaggerated. So Trump has forged a different path....

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Primary Thoughts

The Greensboro City Council faced challengers from the left and the right in the primary on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Democracy Greensboro, one of the increasing number of organizations that have been spawned by Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center, developed a platform, held a candidates’ forum and ranked candidates. Two of the candidates who ran work for Nelson Johnson, but neither made it through the primary. The Guilford County Republican Party, which in the past has largely stayed out of City Council elections, tried to get involved. The GOP didn’t recruit candidates, but it worked for the candidates who filed to run who registered as Republicans, and that didn’t work out too well. District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, who has won in the past without much help from the Republican Party, is the only Republican who made it through the primary and will be on the ballot in November. Democracy Greensboro faired slightly better. In the at-large race, both David Wils, who participated in the Democracy Greensboro forum, and Michelle Kennedy, who received its highest ranking from Democracy Greensboro in the at-large race, finished in the top six. In the District 4 race, Gary Kenton, one of the founders of Democracy Greensboro, made it through the primary but, because the third candidate dropped out of the race, the primary was a formality. In District 2, C.J. Brinson,...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 12, 2017

It seemed odd when Steve Bannon left the White House because he was President Donald John Trump’s idea man during the campaign. But now Bannon has revealed why he left the White House and went back to Breitbart. He says he’s putting together a coalition to go after every sitting Republican senator with the exception of Sen. Ted Cruz, and it appears he means it. Trump won with the support of people who wanted him to go to Washington and drain the swamp, meaning get rid of the entrenched bureaucracy that is there, including the elected officials whose loyalty is to Washington, not to their own constituents. The Senate controlled by Republicans has proven to be Trump’s biggest enemy. But if Alabama is any indication of what Trump supporters want, then the Republican senators should be worried about Bannon because usually when the big national committees get involved in a race they get what they want. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spearheaded sending $32 million to Sen. Luther Strange to get him elected to continue to serve in the Senate because McConnell knew that Strange was on his team and Roy Moore was not. Moore overwhelmingly won the Republican primary. The Republicans in the Senate should sit up and take notice because Trump knows, and Bannon knows, that there is more than one way to get a bill through...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 12, 2017

Tuesday night there was a good-sized crowd at the Old Guilford County Court House to watch the primary election returns come in, including seven of nine city councilmembers. Gathering at the courthouse for election returns is an old tradition and Guilford County is reportedly one of the few counties in the state where it is still alive. Not so very long ago, you had to be at the courthouse to get the latest returns, but today you can get real time election results on your phone wherever you happen to be. However, it’s a tradition I hope we keep alive in Guilford County because it is a great way to end a campaign season, with winning and losing factions in the same room. And although we live in a digital world, a handshake and congratulations is much more personal than a phone call or text. ***** In my years in the newspaper business, I have been called a lot of names, many of which cannot be printed in a family newspaper. But I’ll have to say that Sunday was the first time I’ve been called a “noted liberal, hippie, beatnik,” and I kind of like it. Margaret Moffett of the News & Record gave me that label in the Inside Scoop column on Sunday when she wrote about attacks on me by the Chairman of the Guilford County Republican...

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Dems Win All City Council Primary Races

All nine members of the City Council made it through the primary, where a total of 38 names were on the ballot. Some said that the number of candidates who filed to run indicated that the people of Greensboro were not pleased with the current City Council, but that’s not the message that was sent by the 8.4 percent who voted in the primary. The only incumbent who didn’t win his race was District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, who finished 80 votes behind challenger Tammi Thurm in the four-way primary. Thurm finished the night with 1,066 votes for...

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Elected Officials Like North Carolina-Style Tax Reform for the Federal Government

Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker and 13th District Congressman Ted Budd, who both represent parts of Greensboro, held a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 10, to talk about the Republican tax reform plan, and how tax reform plans, if done properly, will pay for themselves without spending cuts, as was done by the Republican-led General Assembly in North Carolina. The press conference was at the Piedmont Triad International Airport and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, state Sen. Rick Gunn from Alamance County and state House majority whip Rep. Jon Hardister all spoke. Walker and Budd talked about the...

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With Monopoly At Risk, N&R Lashes Out

The News & Record on Wednesday, Oct. 4 blamed state Sen. Trudy Wade for just about everything except the flu pandemic of 1918 and Hurricane Hazel. But that’s what happens when you mess with someone’s pocketbook, or in this case a newspaper’s state-mandated monopoly, which is exactly what the state is getting ready to do. State Sen. Trudy Wade sponsored a bill that originally would have taken away the monopoly that paid circulation newspapers have on advertising required by state law, such as notices about public hearings and, by attorneys, for foreclosures, divorces and such. During the legislative session, the area the bill would affect was reduced to a pilot program for Guilford County, and that was passed by the legislature but vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper. In this session the bill is on the agenda to be introduced as a local bill and the governor cannot veto local bills. The bill would allow Guilford County to establish a portion of its website for government required advertising and also make it legal to run ads in newspapers with a limited number of paid subscribers, like the Rhino Times. The N&R doesn’t bother to explain why the state should require attorneys and governments to advertise in paid circulation newspapers like their own. The N&R does make the claim that more people see ads placed by the government and attorneys in...

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Under the Hammer: Oct. 5, 2017

From what I’ve been reading, the Republicans in Congress don’t understand what kind of tax reform Americans want. Americans want the kind of tax reform where they pay less in total taxes, not more, or the same but divided up differently. For instance, if the rate is lowered but taxpayers don’t get to deduct state and local taxes, and they end up paying more, who cares that the rate is lower. The more I read about how the Republicans are lowering the taxes by raising the lowest rate from 10 percent to 12 percent, but increasing the standard deduction, the more I think they are simply playing with numbers. It’s beginning to sound more and more like Obamacare, which was going to lower the cost of healthcare insurance. Or how about the repeal of Obamacare, which Republicans talked about for seven years and then couldn’t find the votes to pass. If the Republicans were really talking about tax reform where the people paid less of their money to the government, then they would also have to be talking about spending cuts; but where are the spending cuts? If the rates are lowered so that the federal government starts borrowing more, that doesn’t sound like a good solution either. No one is going to understand this tax reform any more than the current tax code. It sounds like they are...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 5, 2017

In the article last week headlined “High Point Wanted Yes or No on Baseball Stadium Money, County Gave Strong Maybe,” we got some folks confused. A part of the article states that Grasshopper President Donald Moore had posted favorable comments about the High Point stadium project on Facebook. That is incorrect. Don Moore posted favorable comments on Facebook and Don Moore is no relation to Donald Moore, the president of the Grasshoppers. As far as we know, Donald Moore has not posted any comments about the proposed stadium project on Facebook. It was our mistake and we’d like to apologize to Donald Moore for the confusion. ***** As predicted, the new Rhino Times website did not go live without a few glitches. We hoped to get it up and running on Thursday. It was Monday before everything was worked out. But it’s up now and if you have any problems or suggestions, please let us know. We know there will be some problems but don’t know what they will be or we would have already fixed them. The current e-Edition will come up if you click on the front page below it, even though the front page is not the front page of the most recent edition. But we know about that problem, so it should be fixed soon. ***** President Donald J. Trump will be in Greensboro on...

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2017 City Council Primary Endorsements

Early voting for the Greensboro City Council primary ends on Saturday, Oct. 7 and the primary is Tuesday, Oct. 10. The Rhino Times is endorsing candidates in all the Greensboro City Council races. Regardless of where you live in Greensboro, you can vote in your district race, for three candidates in the at-large race and in the mayor’s race. There are 38 candidates on the ballot, but five candidates in district races dropped out too late to have their names removed from the ballot, so their names are on the ballot but they aren’t running. In District 4, this...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 28, 2017

President Donald John Trump is missing his advisors that Chief of Staff John Kelly ran off. He made a big political mistake in getting involved in the Republican Senate primary in Alabama where Roy Moore, who Trump opposed, won. He should have stayed out, but instead he got in on the wrong side and wasted his time and political capital campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange over Moore. Strange is one of the swamp creatures that Trump said he would run out of Washington. Moore is much more closely aligned with Trump politically. Trump needed the advice of a savvy political consultant who would have advised him that Moore was going to win and there was no good reason to support Strange. It appears that McConnell, or some of his people, talked Trump into it, because McConnell put millions of dollars into the campaign for Strange, who was appointed to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions. McConnell wanted Strange because Strange was on the McConnell team. Moore, like Trump, is a loose cannon. You have to hope that Trump struck a deal with McConnell before agreeing to campaign for Strange. Wouldn’t it be great if McConnell promised to resign if Trump campaigned for Strange and Moore won? A deal like that would make it worthwhile, but I haven’t seen any reports of McConnell packing his bags. If Trump supported Strange simply...

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City Council Race Takes Sharp Left

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks immersed in city politics. Usually I’m swimming in politics, but lately it’s been hard to keep my head above water. The City Council election has moved so far left that candidates who would normally be considered liberal are running as the more conservative candidate in the race. The challenge to most incumbent Democrats is coming from the left, not from the right. It seemed like things should be going the other way. The Democrats suffered a big defeat in 2016. They are supposed to spend a couple of years licking their wounds. And I think the Hillary Clinton supporters may be doing just that. But the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the left wing of the party, is energized and organized and they are running for office It took me a while to figure things out, but what has happened on the left is what happened on the right after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. On the right it was called the Tea Party Movement. It was the more conservative Republicans, joined by some who are so conservative they refuse to join the Republican Party. But the far right got organized, held meetings and ran a bunch of candidates for office. Following the 2008 election of Obama, the voters in the City Council elections of 2009 elected a Republican mayor,...

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Rhino Shorts: Sept. 28, 2017

Today we are launching an all new and improved website. For the past couple of years we have had an electronic page-turn edition, but not a functioning website. The new rhinotimes.com site has all the bells and whistles of an actual website, and we know that some of the bells won’t ring and some of the whistles won’t blow. Please let us know if the website isn’t working properly. I’ve never known a website where right out of the box everything worked perfectly, but maybe this will be a first. We’d like to thank Clever Robot for creating a great looking website for us and for putting up with all the changing requests we made during its development. The page-turn edition is now a part of this website. So if you became addicted to that, have no fear – it’s only one click away. ***** The first Schmoozefest of fall is Thursday, Sept. 28 from 6 to 8 at Lee’s Sports Bar at 2618 Lawndale Dr. in the shopping center across from Target. Free beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be available while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** People in High Point are so disappointed in the response from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners concerning funding for the proposed baseball stadium that discussions have been rekindled about High Point seceding...

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A Little About A Lot Of Candidates In One Of The More Atypical City Council Elections

In the City Council primary, early voting is underway and the primary is Tuesday, Oct. 10. This has been a different kind of election from the get-go. There are 38 names on the ballot but only 33 candidates – which means five candidates paid their filing fee and filled out the forms to run but then dropped out too late to get their names removed from the ballot. First, the five candidates who dropped out are District 1 Charles Patton, District 2 Felecia Angus and Tim Vincent, District 3 Payton McGarry and District 4 Andrew Belford. So if you...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 21, 2017

President Donald John Trump went to the United Nations and did what you are not supposed to do – he told the truth and he told it in plain, unvarnished language. At the UN, heads of state are supposed to speak in platitudes. The major point of all speeches at the UN is supposed to be about how great the UN is, how it has prevented World War III and made the world a better place. Trump did make some nice comments about the UN, but mostly about what it could be, not what it is, which is one of the most bureaucratic and inefficient organizations the world has ever seen. Trump said standing in front of the General Assembly what others have only said in private: What sense does a Human Rights Commission make if you put some of the world’s worst human rights violators on the commission to protect human rights? Calling North Korean president Kim Jong Un “Rocketman” in a speech at the UN, with the North Korean delegation sitting right there, was nothing short of brilliant. What Kim wants more than anything is legitimacy. He wants North Korea to be recognized as one of the world’s great powers because it has joined the club of nuclear nations. What he doesn’t want is to be belittled and made the butt of jokes at the UN. But...

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City Council Says: Just Because You Have a Deed, Doesn’t Mean You Own the Land

Just Because You Have a Deed, Doesn’t Mean You Own the Land By John Hammer The best part of the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, came at the end. It may not have been the most significant action taken, but it was certainly the most interesting, proving that even the most routine real estate transaction can be made interesting by people. The item on the agenda was the formal transfer of some open space and flood plain from the Starmount Company to the City of Greensboro. The 7.8 acres at 605 Way Cross Dr. in Starmount...

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Rhino Shorts: Sept. 21, 2017

The first Schmoozefest of fall is Thursday, Sept. 28 from 6 to 8 at Lee’s Sports Bar at 2618 Lawndale Dr. in the shopping center across from Target. Free beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be available while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** I watched the video online of the confrontation between the bike cops downtown and some young black men in 2016 that has caused a new controversy. My first reaction was, I don’t want to live in a city where a man can punch or slap a police officer in uniform doing his job and not be arrested. What I saw in the video was police officers being extremely patient with a bunch of unruly guys on the sidewalk in front of a bar where at least one of them had been thrown out. It appears that if one of the group had not decided to hit a police officer, the cops would have moved the group down the street and the whole thing would have been forgotten. In fact, even though the men were arrested, it appears to have been forgotten for a year. My guess is that the guys who were arrested saw people like the Scales brothers and Dejuan Yourse getting paid by the Greensboro City Council and decided to get in that line. ***** At-large...

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Even Behind Closed Doors, Attorneys Can’t Explain The City’s Case Against David Wray

By John Hammer Tuesday, Sept. 19, the Greensboro City Council met in closed session to discuss the lawsuit former Police Chief David Wray filed against the city for legal fees he incurred in defending himself in other lawsuits. Greensboro has a policy dating back to 1980 to pay the legal fees for employees who are sued for actions taken while employees, even if they were at fault. Wray and the city were sued by a number of police officers for racial discrimination. The city has refused to pay Wray’s legal fees because the city claimed he was acting outside...

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Guilford County May Get New Judge If State Legislature Redraws Judicial Districts

Changes may be coming to the Guilford County court districts according to state Rep. Jon Hardister, who is House majority whip and serves on the North Carolina House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting. He said, “In reviewing the judicial districts in North Carolina, it is clear that we need to update and streamline the system. My focus is on the judicial system in Guilford County, which desperately needs to be updated.” According to Hardister, the largest of the five judicial districts in Guilford County, 18 C, has 129,000 residents, and the smallest, 18 A, has 62,000. He said that...

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More About Money in City Council Races

Last week we wrote about the campaign finance reports for the Greensboro mayoral and City Council candidates. Since then, we have more than a couple of updates. District 2 City Council candidate Jim Kee was listed as not filing a pre-primary report and has, since then, filed one. Kee has raised a total of $1,600, and $1,500 was during the reporting period that began on July 1. Kee has spent $1,041 and, as of August 31, had $559 in his campaign account. At-large City Council candidate James Ingram originally filed a threshold statement that he would not raise or...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 14, 2017

Evidently Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thought President Donald Trump wouldn’t punch back. But when Trump joined with the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and provide emergency funds for Texas, he proved that he has a powerful counterpunch. Ryan has opposed Trump since back during the campaign when he refused to appear on the same stage with Trump. More recently Ryan was critical of Trump for the comments Trump made about Charlottesville. Trump’s comments were accurate and made sense but were not politically correct. Instead of defending his president from unwarranted attacks, Ryan joined with the attackers. McConnell is sneakier than Ryan, but everyone in Washington, including Trump, knows that McConnell told Republicans running last November to distance themselves from Trump. McConnell also failed to put together the votes to pass some kind of Obamacare reform bill. If McConnell had pushed anything through the Senate, the House and Senate would be in negotiations now about how the reform bill. But because the Senate didn’t pass anything there is nothing to negotiate, and repealing Obamacare – one of Trump’s main campaign promises – is dead in the water. Trump may have also noticed that the Republicans in Congress keep postponing funds for the wall. Trump was consistent in his campaign. He didn’t talk about a lot of issues but he talked about the...

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Council Adopts Congressional Schedule

Last November, the voters of Greensboro passed a $126 million bond referendum. At the time, one of the arguments in favor of passing the bonds was that this money would be spent quickly, in part to give the economy in Greensboro a boost. One reason taxes were raised this year was to pay for the bonds. But bonds don’t have to be paid for until they are sold, and they aren’t sold until the money is spent – or is about to be spent. So far the only money that has been spent was $3 million for the soccer fields at Bryan Park, and that was in order to have fields ready for a tournament. Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that meetings are being held on the bonds and plans made, and that for some of the housing bonds the city is looking for matching money. But it hasn’t reached the point yet where the City Council needs to vote on issuing bonds or spending money. You would hope that before approving bonds the City Council would spend some time discussing how the money will be spent, but then the City Council could treat the bonds like it treated the budget and accept the recommendations of staff. Which kind of proves our point from a year ago: One of the reasons this newspaper opposed the bonds is that the City...

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Rhino Shorts: Sept. 14, 2017

I won’t promise it but I will consider endorsing any City Council candidate who will sign an affadavit promising to finish the Downtown Greenway in my lifetime. I’m 63 and seem to be a good health, so that should give them enough time. This project began in 2001 and it is not even approaching completion. What is this vastly complicated project that has completely stumped the City of Greensboro? It is a wide sidewalk. That’s all it is. I walked on one of the very few completed portions and that was back when Denise Roth was city manager. This is an extra-wide sidewalk around the downtown – a little over four miles long – and in 16 years the city has not been able to complete 25 percent of it. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m predicting that the Tanger Center for the Performing Arts will be completed before the Downtown Greenway. In fact, based on its current rate of completion, The Tanger may have opened, been a wonderful venue for 30 years and been torn down by the time the Greenway is completed. ***** I’m not going to say that it was the strangest candidates’ forum I have ever attended, because I attended the forums when Jorge Cornell – a local gang leader who is currently serving a long prison sentence – was running for...

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Big Money Raised in City Council Races

Follow the money is always good advice in politics. If you are betting on political races, the safe bet is always on the candidate who raises the most money. There are exceptions – our current president is one – and a challenger usually has to raise considerably more money than the incumbent to unseat them. But all things being equal, the candidate who raises the most money usually wins. The pre-primary campaign financial reports for the Greensboro City Council candidates, which cover all the money raised through August 29, were due on Tuesday, Sept. 5. With the primary on...

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Under the Hammer: Sept. 7, 2017

President Donald J. Trump is learning the ways of Washington. If you are going to work in the swamp you have to get used to putting your waders on every morning, and Trump has done that with his decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). What he did was place the ball squarely in Congress’s court and, as we all know, Congress can’t hit a ball given 10 tries. Trump said the current DACA program created by executive order – which even President Barack Obama said was unconstitutional the year before he decided to implement it – would be abolished in six months. This decision gives Congress six months to pass a bill on an issue that has bipartisan support. Consider that Congress has had five years since Obama, by executive order, put DACA in place to take action to make it legal, what chance does Congress have of getting it done in six months? Speaker Paul Ryan said that DACA was unconstitutional, that it was the clear role of Congress not the executive branch to make laws regarding naturalization, but Congress hasn’t passed those laws. The question is, can Congress – which can’t repeal Obamacare, can’t reform the tax code, hasn’t yet raised the debt ceiling or dealt with the budget and can’t seem to tackle any large issue – come to an agreement on something as...

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Rhino Shorts: Sept. 7, 2017

The folks who live near the Shops at Friendly who managed to stop a Trader Joe’s from locating on the corner of Hobbs Road and Friendly Avenue might be interested in a report from Business Insider released last month. According to a study of home prices, those living near a Trader Joe’s saw their property values increase 67 percent over the past five years. Living near a Whole Foods, by comparison, resulted in a 52 percent increase and near an Aldi a 51 percent increase. So their property values would have increased and the rest of Greensboro would have had a Trader Joe’s if the protests had not been so vehement as to make Trader Joe’s decide it really didn’t want to do business in Greensboro. ***** The Greensboro City Council is made up of eight Democrats and one Republican, but it appears the current City Council is taking its lead from our current Republican Congress, which didn’t meet in August and is only meeting for 12 days in September. The Greensboro City Council only met once in July, once in August and is meeting once in September. In the old days, like earlier this year, the City Council met three times a month. It held two formal meetings and a more informal work session. Under the current leadership, the work sessions have been shortened from half-day sessions to...

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Why Labor Day Doesn’t Get a Parade

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Under the Hammer: August 31, 2017

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan publicly went after President Donald J. Trump for his pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. This doesn’t bode well for the Republican Party. Ryan didn’t go after President Barack Obama when he was granting clemency to thousands of drug dealers and putting dangerous criminals, some with long felony records, out on the streets. So Ryan evidently doesn’t feel the need to comment on every pardon the president grants. It is the prerogative of the president to grant pardons or commute sentences. He doesn’t need approval from anyone. So why would Ryan choose to pick a fight with Trump when he pardoned, not only a supporter, but someone who has a similar view on immigration? Is Ryan in favor of open borders? Or is it simply that Ryan has been in Washington too long and believes that what he reads in the far left mainstream media represents what most Americans believe. The Republican Party is a nonselective organization. Anyone can join, and they can’t be thrown out. Ryan probably thinks that Trump shouldn’t be a Republican, but maybe it’s Ryan who shouldn’t be a Republican. For years the Republican Party has stood for lowering taxes, reducing government spending, promoting capitalism over socialism and, in particular for the last seven years, ending Obamacare. Republicans have also favored a stricter interpretation of the Constitution, more rights for states and less...

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Rhino Shorts: August 31, 2017

It’s entertaining when the editorial department of the News & Recordchooses to write a column about an event that the news department didn’t see as significant enough to cover. This week, editorial writer Doug Clark chose to write his column about a dust up at the meeting of the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance last week over the proposed High Point baseball stadium. The Rhino Times did cover the meeting, so if you want to read more than a snippet about what happened, along with accurate reporting of what happened, check out Scott’s article on page 4. If the commissioners agree to give High Point the money it is requesting, you can bet Greensboro will be at the next meeting asking for its share. Former Rockingham County District Attorney Craig Blitzer has admitted he did it and made sworn statements that he conspired with former Person and Caswell County District Attorney Wallace Bradsher to steal a total of about $48,000 from the state in salaries for their wives. It’s a lot of money by men who had been entrusted to enforce the law and put people who break the law in jail. Yet the two were only charged with misdemeanors. What kind of legal system do we have that protects men who completely abuse the system from serious punishment? Sunday I needed to come to work for a couple...

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Hardister Says He Won’t Stay Double Bunked with Faircloth in New District

The new state legislative districts have now passed the state House and Senate. The governor doesn’t get to weigh in on redistricting, so the new districts became law when they passed. Or they became law at least until three federal judges decide whether to accept them or not. The three-judge panel had ruled 18 state House and nine state Senate districts illegal because, in the opinion of the judges, they were drawn with too much consideration given to race and diluted the votes of some black voters in those districts because the judges believed the districts contained too many...

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City Discovers Easements After Buying Downtown Parking Deck Land

The city has hit not a roadblock but a sizable bump in its effort to build a $30 million public parking deck downtown with a Westin Hotel on top of it. The problem is that an adjacent property owner, Rocky Scarfone, owns two easements through the current parking lot that is slated to be the ground floor of the proposed parking deck. Apparently the city was unaware that these easements existed when it purchased the land for the parking lot that stretches from East Market Street along Davie Street to February 1 Place. Scarfone owns the Cone Denim Entertainment Center...

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Under the Hammer: August 24, 2017

The politically incorrect but factually accurate statement by President Donald J. Trump about the demonstration in Charlottesville where a woman was killed is, according to many Trump deniers, the straw that broke the camel’s back. How many times are we going to hear this? Remember when Trump’s statement about Sen. John McCain was the one that was going to cost him the primary. And when the video of Trump talking with Billy Bush was going to cause him to drop out of the race and have Vice President Mike Pence run for president? The Trump deniers were wrong those times and all the others, and they are wrong again. Trump didn’t say what he was supposed to say, which was to denounce the white supremacists and agree with the mainstream media that the antifa people who came to fight with the white supremacists were doing the right thing. Trump is not politically correct, which is one of the big reasons he got elected. The mainstream media went ballistic over Trump’s statement, but then again they go ballistic over statements Trump makes all the time. The white supremacists are deplorable and sick people, but the anarchists who have been wreaking havoc in the streets for the past couple of years aren’t much better. The blame for Charlottesville should be placed on the city leadership that didn’t allow the police to maintain order. Whenever a...

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Eclipse Viewing Not Spoiled By Clouds

Everything was great about the solar eclipse in Greensboro, except the clouds. But even the clouds offered a moment of joy in Center City Park on Monday. Early on, the sky was clear, and with the eclipse glasses being handed out in Center City Park, you could see the moon biting into the edge of the sun. Then the clouds came, and with the eclipse glasses on you couldn’t see anything. So people sat on the grass and chatted or wandered around looking for people they knew. It was a lighthearted friendly crowd, biding their time, confident that the clouds...

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