Author: John Hammer

About John Hammer

Here are my most recent posts

Sale of Lake Jeanette, Buffalo Lake Goes Through

A lot of people were hoping it wouldn’t happen, but last week the sale of Lake Jeanette and Buffalo Lake closed and now JW Demolition is the new owner of the two lakes. At the Lake Jeanette Homeowners Association meeting on June 26 to announce that the lakes were under contract, the homeowners were united in their desire that Lake Jeannette not be changed, and it appears they will get most of what they wished for. According to Dixon Johnston, the president of the Lake Jeanette Homeowners Association board of directors, the new owners signed the lease that restricts the use...

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Politics Make Mountain Out of Molehill for Councilmember Outling

No one raised the issue of a potential conflict of interest when City Councilmember Justin Outling made the motion, and then voted in favor of ending the request for proposal (RFP) process for the city health insurance contract at the July 18 City Council meeting. The motion passed on a 6-to-3 vote with Outling voting in favor of his motion to end the RFP process and the City Council moved on. But Beloved Community Center activist and former attorney Lewis Pitts has filed a complaint with the North Carolina Bar Association alleging that Outling had a conflict of interest and should be sanctioned. Questions have...

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Guilford County Commissioners Support Public Notice Modernization

The majority of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners are in favor of not being required to pay to place public notices in paid circulation newspapers and voted in favor of the resolution in support of a bill that would allow the county to place public notices on its own website. House Bill 205 was passed by the Republican legislature and vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. If the state House and Senate override North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, then not only will Guilford County have the option of placing public notices on its own website rather than...

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Under the Hammer: August 3, 2017

Anyone blasting President Donald J. Trump for Anthony Scaramucci’s short reign of terror as White House communications director must not have been following Trump very closely. Trump isn’t afraid to try something different. Scaramucci is a friend who really wanted a job at the White House. Trump was clearly having problems with the White House staff, and the communications department in particular, and it appears he thought having a loyal friend who had his back in that department rather than people who supported him only because he was the Republican who won would work. It didn’t work. Trump is no dummy despite what the mainstream media would have you believe. He saw it didn’t work and fixed it by having a Marine general show Scaramucci the door. I don’t imagine Scaramucci had a lot to say to new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Scaramucci may have made a lot of money but Kelly spent a good part of his career leading men in war zones. Men like that have authority running through their veins. ***** One of the reasons Trump was elected is because he is not a professional politician and had never held elective office before defeating Hillary Clinton and becoming president. As a political novice, people have to expect him to make some mistakes. One of those was hiring Reince Priebus as chief of staff and his buddy Sean Spicer as White House...

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First Amendment Protects Speech, Not Monopolies

After reading the editorial in the News & Recordon Wednesday, August 2, about House Bill 205 – to open public notice and legal advertising to the free market system, which was passed by the legislature and vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper – I had to pull out my Constitution and read the First Amendment a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t forgotten a passage. The editorial begins, “We want to thank Gov. Roy Cooper for protecting the First Amendment rights of Guilford County newspapers – and by extension, the county’s citizens – by vetoing House Bill 205.” The News & Recordmust be talking about some other First Amendment because the First Amendment of the US Constitution has nothing in it about guaranteeing paid-circulation newspapers a monopoly on publishing public notices and legal advertising. The implication that eliminating a monopoly on public notices and legal advertising for paid circulation newspapers is somehow an infringement of freedom on the press is dishonest at best. The First Amendment gives Americans the right to publish a newspaper; it doesn’t say that the government will fund it. Further along, the editorial writer gets to the meat of the subject. This is all about money, not freedom of the press. The News & Recordand every other newspaper that has been feeding at the public trough because of a state mandated monopoly on public notice and legal...

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Downtown Needs Women … and Men

Not long after former City Councilmember Zack Matheny took over as president of Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) in the summer of 2015, I was in his office and he was showing me maps of the downtown.   He tends to flip through things pretty fast so you have to pay attention to keep up.  Zack was telling me that his plan was to get two new parking garages built in downtown Greensboro and pointing to possible locations on a map.   Then he said he was going to get developers to build the parking decks and in return the...

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Rhino Shorts: August 3, 2017

Why does Greensboro always seem to get dissed? A recent promotion by Visit North Carolina – a promotion paid for by the State of North Carolina called Project 543 – lists a whole bunch of attractions all over the state. But in Greensboro it only lists one – Replacements Ltd. Museums in other cities are promoted, but not the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro. Other golf tournaments get play but not the Wyndham Championship. Bryan Park has one of the best public golf courses in the state but it gets no mention. Nor does Grandover. The biggest Frying Pan in the state gets a post but not the Greensboro Science Center, LeBauer Park, the Greensboro Coliseum, the ACC Hall of Fame, Guilford Battlefield National Military Park or anything else in the city. Someone going to this site looking for things to do in the state would think the only thing Greensboro has to offer is china. It makes you wonder what Visit North Carolina has against our city. By the way, 543 is the number of miles from Murphy to Manteo and a pretty clever name.   Only in the crazy world of North Carolina politics would this happen. The State Board of Elections and Ethics – which exists only on paper – held a public hearing and people came and spoke. I haven’t seen any...

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Cooper Caved To Newspaper Lobby

The liberal mainstream newspapers like to attack lobbyists, except when the lobbyists are working for the mainstream newspapers. The mainstream newspapers successfully lobbied North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and convinced him to veto a bill sponsored by state Sen. Trudy Wade that took away a special exemption for newspaper carriers and a state-mandated monopoly on legally required advertising in paid circulation newspapers. If it were any other industry the mainstream media would be highly in favor of Wade’s bill. In fact, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer ran a series of articles about the abuse of independent contractors in the construction industry. The mainstream newspapers are opposed to other industries using independent contractors when the workers should be classified as employees, but the same newspapers lobbied hard to keep the special exemption for newspapers as state law. Why should newspaper carriers alone be singled out by the state government as not being employees? What Wade’s bill would have done is required newspapers to abide by the same laws as every other industry when determining whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor. Newspapers don’t have to be concerned about those laws when it comes to newspaper carriers. Even if a carrier meets all the requirements of an employee, because of a special exemption in state law that applies only to newspapers, carriers are not employees....

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Making a Man’s Home His Hassle

Every member of the Greensboro City Council should be required to attend a Board of Adjustment meeting. For some reason, these meetings are not televised, perhaps because the belief is that no one would voluntarily sit down and watch a Board of Adjustment meeting – the name alone makes your eyelids get heavy. But the reason the councilmembers should all have to attend a meeting is not to punish them, but for city councilmembers to see how they are punishing the people of Greensboro with outdated and nonsensical laws. The good news is that the current Board of Adjustment realizes that the zoning laws in Greensboro don’t make a lick of sense and regularly grants variances for those who pay the money and take the time to come to a meeting. Board of Adjustment member Chuck Truby often apologizes to people for the inconvenience of having to apply for and receive a variance for something like increasing the size of their front porch. In the past, the city staff has come to meetings to argue against a homeowner being able to add a porch, a closet or a carport, but that has stopped. Now the staff presents the issue, the property owner explains the problem, the Board of Adjustment votes to grant the variance and everybody goes home happy. The problem is the absurdity of the laws for which...

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Under the Hammer: July 27, 2017

White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, “Mooch” to his friends, has already shown why he is in and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer is out and why White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is probably on his way out the door. Scaramucci fired his first employee Tuesday and has said that if the leaks from the White House continue he will fire everyone in his office. The leaks have been a constant problem for this White House and it appeared that nothing was being done to stop them. Scaramucci won’t be able to stop all the leaks, but he can certainly take the White House from leaking like a sieve to something more reasonable. If an employee knows that if they are suspected of leaking they will get a stern talking to, that creates an entirely different environment from one where if an employee is suspected of leaking they find their personal belongings in a box outside the door of their former office and a security guard waiting to walk them to the parking lot. Scaramucci may be able to take care of the White House communications office, but somebody is going to have to handle the intelligence agencies, which are constantly leaking. As White House chief of staff, it would seem that would fall to Priebus, but maybe that’s above his pay grade. What President Donald J....

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Natty Greene’s Getting into the Spin of Things at Revolution Mill

Natty Greene’s Kitchen + Market – The Butcher, The Baker and the Beer Maker – opened this week and it lives up to its advance billing. From parking lot to mezzanine, it’s a really cool place. Kayne Fisher, who, along with Chris Lester, founded Natty Greene’s Brewing Co., said that he wasn’t interested in opening a new restaurant, but when the folks at Self Help, in charge of the massive redevelopment of Revolution Mill on Yanceyville Street, asked him to at least come look at the building, to be nice he agreed. Fisher said once he saw the space, which was the carpentry shop for Revolution Mill, built in 1898, he knew this was the place for a concept he had been working on for 20 years – which is the Kitchen and Market. The restaurant and market will have a full butcher shop, a bakery and, of course, since its Natty Greene’s, beer making. The market isn’t open yet, but the restaurant opened on Tuesday, July 25. Fisher described the restaurant concept as “cafeteria meets steak house.” He said you get to make your own meal with the old “meat and two sides” concept, with an up-to-date flavor, meaning the meat is from the butchery and include choices that you don’t find at old country restaurants. Fisher calls the decor “industrial warmth.” It’s wood and metal. The original...

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Council Raises Plus Four-Year Terms Equals 38 City Council Candidates

Filing for the Greensboro City Council election ended Friday, July 21 at noon, and 38 candidates have filed to run. That includes 15 running for the three at-large seats. It’s the most candidates who have ever filed to run in a City Council election. But don’t let that fool you. According to people that follow city politics, the most likely outcome of the election is that the same City Council will be seated at the dais in 2018 as in 2017. There is a primary in every race. The City Council races are nonpartisan, so the top two vote-getters in the mayor’s race and the five district races will face each other in the general election. In the at-large race the top six vote-getters will be in the general election, and out of those six, the top three will be elected to the City Council. In the at-large race voters can vote for three candidates in the primary and in the general election. But voters don’t have to vote for three and often a candidate will ask supporters to only vote for him or her. It’s called a single-shot vote and it gives that one vote more weight. This may come into play in the at-large primary with 15 candidates. All nine members of the City Council are running, including District 2 City Councilmember Goldie Wells, appointed to replace...

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Under the Hammer: July 20, 2017

Imagine that for one week President Donald J. Trump received the same kind of media coverage that former President Barack Obama received throughout his eight years in office. It would mean that for one week the mainstream media would write and talk about Trump being a great president and how all his ideas were wonderful. They would go on and on about Trump being a great speaker and communicator. His administration would be hailed as one of the most open and transparent in history. The assumption on everything Trump did for a week would be that it was the right thing to do and best for the country. It’s never going to happen because the starting point for any Obama action was that it was correct and he was doing it for all the right reasons. The mainstream media might find small flaws or things that could have been improved, but the starting point was always that Obama was right. With Trump it is the opposite; the starting point is always that he is wrong. He is doing whatever he is doing for all the wrong reasons. Take tweeting for instance. The mainstream media hates the fact that Trump tweets. They say it isn’t presidential, he shouldn’t do it, that his staff is trying to take his phone away from him and it is embarrassing. It is never even...

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Rhino Shorts: July 20, 2017

Just a reminder to our loyal cadre of schmoozers. The Schmoozefest is taking a well-deserved summer vacation. So there is no Schmoozefest on Thursday, July 27 or on Thursday, August 24. The Schmoozefest has promised to be back from the beach in time for the September event. ***** On Thursday, the News & Record ran a feel-good story about a bill the state legislature passed that fixed a problem with teacher bonuses. Third grade teachers get a bonus, but if the principal moves them to fourth grade they have to give up their bonus. The legislature fixed it so teachers who are moved by the administration, and not because they requested it, still get their bonus. But what the N&R didn’t report is that the entire bill came about because the principal at Peck Elementary School sent an email to state Sen. Trudy Wade asking if something could be done about the problem. Wade, President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger, who also represents Guilford County in the state legislature, and Sen. Kathy Harrington from Gaston County sponsored a bill to fix the problem. The bill passed and the problem, pointed out by a Guilford County Schools principal, was fixed with the help of two state senators from Guilford County. Doesn’t it seem like mentioning the people who were responsible for fixing the problem, since two of the...

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New City Resident Joins Mayor’s Race

With filing for the City Council elections closing on Friday, July 21 at noon, the mayor’s race is shaping up to be something a little different. Mayor Nancy Vaughan filed to run for reelection this week, and as of Wednesday, July 19, she will be facing two newcomers. Not simply newcomers to politics but newcomers to Greensboro. Diane Moffett, the pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church at 820 Ross Ave. in Greensboro, filed to run on Tuesday, July 17, but up until Tuesday, July 17, Moffett was registered to vote under the name Diane Givens Moffett in Jamestown, where she had been registered to vote since 2005, with Givens Moffett as a non-hyphenated double last name. She is now registered to vote as Diane Lenore Moffett. So we have someone who registered to vote from a Greensboro address and filed to run for mayor on the same day. Moffett is now registered to vote from the Hampshire Condominiums at 1101 N. Elm St. However, Diane Moffett’s husband, Mondre Moffett, is still registered to vote from their home at 103 Castleton Pl., Jamestown, the address that Diane Moffett listed as her residence on her voter registration form until July 17. It certainly appears that it is not improper for Diane Moffett to be registered to vote from an apartment in Greensboro and run for mayor, but the question that will...

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City Council Loses Fox, Gains Wells

The Greensboro City Council met on Tuesday, July 18, the first time since June 20, and the councilmembers paid for their long break with a seven-hour meeting in which they covered a lot of territory. It was the final meeting for District 2 City Councilmember Jamal Fox and the first meeting for his replacement, former and now current District 2 City Councilmember Goldie Wells. Fox resigned shortly before the meeting ended at 11 p.m., and Wells was the only person nominated by the City Council to replace him. She won the seat with an 8-to-0 vote. Jim Kee, a former District 2 city councilmember and a current candidate for the District 2 seat, spoke at the beginning of the meeting in favor of appointing Wells to serve out Fox’s term. District 2 City Council candidate Tim Vincent, who put his name up to be appointed to replace Fox, said he would have liked the appointment but understood why the City Council would want to select Wells since she has experience. Mebane Ham had also put her name in the mix for the appointment to the District 2 seat and spoke at the meeting. She said that she had lived in the district for 25 years and would like to serve. The two other candidates who nominated themselves to replace Fox until the new City Council takes office in December,...

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County Sued For Losing Lawsuit

Guilford County tried to be nice to the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) in 2015 when it found itself being sued over a law it had nothing to do with, but playing nice didn’t work. Guilford County is now being sued by the SCSJ for about $600,000 in legal bills from the case where the SCSJ and Greensboro sued the Guilford County Board of Elections over the Greensboro redistricting passed by the state legislature in 2015. If you think that sentence didn’t make any sense, it’s because it doesn’t, but it’s still accurate. Because of a weird court ruling, when the Greensboro City Council and the SCSJ didn’t agree with the way the North Carolina General Assembly had revised the Greensboro City Council districts and form of government, they sued the Guilford County Board of Elections, which had absolutely nothing to do with the new law. But due to a federal court ruling, because the Guilford County Board of Elections would administer the elections held under the new law, it could be sued and was. Greensboro and SCSJ won the lawsuit, which was hardly a surprise because Guilford County didn’t put up any defense. Imagine a basketball game where one team, in protest over a bad schedule, decides not to put a team on the court. The team is there, sitting on the bench, but when the referee...

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Under the Hammer: July 13, 2017

How can a legitimate news agency explain the fact that CNN was reporting, before President Donald John Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, that Trump was not going to bring up Russian interference in the presidential election? Anybody who has been paying even casual attention to Trump since he announced he was running for president knows that Trump says and does whatever he wants. It turned out that Trump did want to talk about the reports of Russian interference and a lot more. The meeting was supposed to last 30 minutes and lasted over two hours. Trump and Putin are not the kind of men to sit and chitchat for two hours. In the future we’ll probably find out more about what they discussed. ***** The European leaders are not supposed to be too happy with Trump. One thing that really has them miffed is that he was honest about the Paris climate accord, which was not a good deal for the US. Also, nobody likes the kid who points out that the emperor has no clothes, which is what Trump did. Trump, unlike former President Barack Obama, really does put America first, and they don’t like that either. Part of that is forcing them to pay their fair share for NATO and for the United Nations. There is no reason for the US to keep picking up...

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Hardister and Wade Address Fowl Attractive Nuisance at PTIA

“It’s dangerous for the airplanes and it’s dangerous for the birds too,” North Carolina Rep. Jon Hardister said of water retention ponds near airports. And, thanks to brand new state legislation that Hardister and State Sen. Trudy Wade helped push through in the final hours of state budget negotiations, Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) and other airports in the state won’t have to worry about that hazard. The new law is a big help to PTIA, especially where there’s major development underway – including a new taxiway bridge across I-73 that will allow runway access to a roughly 800-acre aviation megasite just across the interstate from the airport. These days, PTIA is laying down a lot of concrete, and usually projects of this sort require the construction of corresponding retention ponds to manage storm water runoff. That’s a fine plan for most projects – it helps protect the water supply – however, retention ponds near airports are a big problem since they attract geese and other fowl, which notoriously don’t mix well with aircraft. The new law pushed through by Hardister and Wade provides some relief from those watershed regulations, and PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker said this week that this change will help cut the red tape as the airport moves forward with its new projects. Since 2012, airports outside of watershed critical areas have had some exemptions...

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Opportunity to Replace Jamal Fox in District 2 City Council Seat Attracts Five

Five people filed before the deadline on Monday, July 10 to fill the District 2 seat on the City Council, which will be appointed by the City Council at its Tuesday, July 18 meeting to replace City Councilmember Jamal Fox, who announced in June he would be resigning. Fox is getting married next month and is reportedly moving to Portland, Oregon, where his soon-to-be wife lives. Those who have filed to be appointed to the District 2 council seat to serve until the current term ends in December are C.J. Brinson, Tim Vincent, Mebane Ham, Goldie Wells and Sherry Walker. Vincent and Brinson have both also filed to run for election to the District 2 seat in November, along with Felicia Angus, who did not apply for the appointment. Former District 2 City Councilmember Jim Kee has announced his intention to run for the District 2 seat, but Kee also did not apply for the appointment to the City Council. By far the best known of the five is Wells, who served as the District 2 councilmember from 2005 to 2009. Wells stepped down in 2009 and Kee was elected to represent District 2. Kee was defeated by Fox in 2013 and Fox won reelection in 2015. Fox has been an active and popular councilmember and, until he announced he was resigning, it appeared he had a good chance...

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First Week of Election Filing Indicates City Council May Be Moving Leftward

Republicans have been winning races all over the country, but they won’t be winning in the Greensboro City Council election. The elections are nominally nonpartisan, but there is no secret about the party affiliation of the candidates. The deadline for filing is Friday, July 21 at noon, so there is still time for things to change, but as of Wednesday, July 12, of the 15 candidates filing, only two are registered Republicans. John Brown, who has filed to run for mayor, and Tanner Lucas, who has filed to run in District 5. Lucas has been registered to vote since 2010, but the only time he has voted was in the 2016 primary and general election.   He has never voted in a City Council election. District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, the lone Republican on the City Council, has also announced he is running for reelection and plans to file this week. So of the three Republicans who have filed or have said they are planning on running, two are running for the same seat, which means the best the Republicans could come out of this election is with two seats instead of one, unless some more Republicans file to run in the final week. District 5 has also already attracted two Democratic candidates, Sal Leone and Tammi Thurm. Leone, who ran for mayor in 2015 and finished third in...

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Rhino Shorts: July 13, 2017

Here’s an idea that won’t cost the city a dime, but would be helpful to its citizens. First, list the Greensboro City Council meetings on the city meetings calendar on the city web page. The City Council meetings may not seem as important to staff as the TaiRoGa workout class, but a lot of people like to know when the governing body for the city meets. Second, in some easy to find location place a readable and printable list of what residents can put in their recycling containers. It appears that even the city is a little unsure on this, so it might force the city to find out exactly what is and isn’t recyclable and then they could tell the rest of us. ***** One of the most frightening maps imaginable for the future of our country can be found in the July 7 edition of the Triad Business Journal. It lists the wealthiest communities in the US and far and away the wealthiest place in the country is Washington, DC. Of course, Washington, DC, isn’t listed but out of the top 25 wealthiest communities eight are in the DC area. Chevy Chase, Maryland, is the wealthiest; Chevy Chase Village, Maryland, is number 15; next door Somerset, Maryland, is 12; and Chevy Chase (CDP) is number 20. In Virginia, Wolf Trap is number 4, Great Falls is number...

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City Council Health Insurance Redux

Judging from the number of comments we have received about the column “City Council Wants Health Care for Life,” I thought I’d go into more detail about exactly what the resolution the City Council passed at the June 20 meeting asked the North Carolina General Assembly to do. The bill the City Council sent to the legislature, seeking health care benefits from the city for councilmembers, wasn’t passed by the General Assembly, so the issue is on hold, at least for a while. But it will no doubt be something the Greensboro City Council will be pushing for next year, so it’s worth considering. When he introduced the idea at the City Council meeting, Councilmember Mike Barber said that there would be no expense to the city if the proposed bill passed the legislature, but that is not what City Manager Jim Westmoreland said at the meeting, and not what the resolution passed by the City Council states. Barber also said that the passage of the proposed bill would put the City Council on equal footing with the Guilford County commissioners, who, after serving 10 years, are eligible to receive health care paid for by the county when they leave office. The county can choose to pay all or part of that health insurance premium, but so far it has chosen to pay all. The resolution passed by the...

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And That’s How a Bill Becomes a Law

It appears that Greensboro will be getting a long awaited hotel on South Elm Street, but it wouldn’t be happening if not for the work of state Rep. Jon Hardister and state Sen. Trudy Wade, in the final hours of the legislative session in June. The last days the state legislature is in session are always a little crazy, and June 29 was no different. The bill Hardister and Wade pushed through in the final minutes of the session is relatively simple. State building codes required a wall between the portions of a planned parking garage built over property owned by the city and over property owned by the hotel. Since it is all to be one large parking garage building, a wall through the middle wouldn’t have worked. The bill gives Greensboro an exception to this particular regulation in the statewide building code, and in the same bill is an exception for airports, so they don’t have to build storm water retention ponds. This is particularly needed by the Piedmont Triad International Airport as it expands. Both items are simple and straight forward and should not have been a problem to pass. The building code issue is a unique situation and there were no protestors rallying in favor of a wall through the middle of a parking deck. Nor was anyone demanding that airports build more ponds to...

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Under the Hammer: July 6, 2017

According to the mainstream media, the president is evidently not supposed to send out funny tweets. I guess President Donald John Trump didn’t get the memo because the tweet he sent out of Trump pounding a person with a CNN logo for a head is funny. The mainstream media didn’t see it as humorous and claim that it promotes violence – like the network shows where people get beat-up and killed every few minutes don’t promote violence. But if the tweet promotes violence against people who have CNN logos for heads, I think that’s OK because there aren’t many of them. People who didn’t like the way former President Barack Obama ran the country often brought up the fact that he had been a community organizer. Americans should also consider that Trump is a dealmaker. Trump is always negotiating, even when the rest of the country and world might not realize it. ***** Here’s another thought on Trump’s tweets. Opponents say that tweeting is not “presidential.” Trump is the president, therefore by definition whatever he does is presidential. People can say they don’t like it. And they can say it isn’t presidential if they want, but they are wrong. ***** I have a very different opinion of Trump from most people. I don’t like or agree with everything he does, but overall I agree with his actions and I...

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Rhino Shorts: July 6, 2017

Sad news for fans of News of the Weird. Chuck Shepard, the inventor of News of the Weird, is retiring from the weird news business and this is his last column. No word yet on whether or not someone else will take up the weird news ball and run with it, but we’ll let you know what we hear. ***** Here’s an opportunity to enjoy barbecue in historic Jamestown and help raise money for a good cause. From 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, Potent Potables at 115 East Main St. in Jamestown is hosting the third annual Barbecue Cook-off to benefit JDRF, the leading organization funding type 1 diabetes research. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased at jdrfbbqcook-off.eventbrite.com. ***** The Fun Fourth Festival in downtown Greensboro was packed this year and there were a wealth of activities. Kids seem to enjoy the fountain in Center City Park where, technically, they aren’t supposed to play and the fountain at La Bauer Park where they are. But unnamed sources say the best water feature was the fire truck south of the railroad tracks that had a fire hose spraying down from the top of a ladder truck. ***** Now they’ve even taken away traditional Fourth of July fireworks. July Fourth fireworks are traditionally watched from a blanket in a...

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Two City Council Incumbents Reveal Their Plans To Run Again

Filing for the Greensboro City Council elections opens on Friday, July 7 at noon, and two city councilmembers ended months of speculation this week by announcing they would file to run for reelection. At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber and District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, the lone Republican on the council, announced this week they would run for reelection. One rumor was that Barber planned to challenge Mayor Nancy Vaughan in the mayor’s race. Another was that he wasn’t going to run at all. Both rumors proved false Wilkins had been urged by some to run for mayor and by others to run in the at large race, leaving the District 5 seat open for another Republican. District 5 in the western part of the city is the most conservative district in Greensboro and the thinking among some Republicans was that Wilkins could win an at-large seat and another Republican would win District 5. Of course, the other side of that would be that Wilkins could lose the at-large race and the unknown newcomer who would run in his place could also lose, leaving Republicans without a single city councilmember. Wilkins was appointed to replace Trudy Wade when she was elected to the state Senate in 2012. It’s hard to believe that in 2009, the voters elected six Republicans to the City Council including Mayor Bill Knight, and now...

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Audacious Council Wants Health Care for Life

Last year the Greensboro City Council gave itself a 60 percent raise. The average city worker got a 3 percent raise. So the City Council gave itself a raise 20 times greater than it gave city employees. Evidently that was not enough and, at the June 20 City Council meeting, the City Council voted to petition the state legislature for a special law to allow councilmembers to stay on the city health insurance policy after they are out of office. In some cases the former councilmember would have to pay for their own insurance, but with enough years under their belt, the taxpayers would foot the bill for their health insurance until the councilmember qualified for Medicare, and then the city would foot the bill for supplemental insurance as it does for other employees. You either have to laugh or cry at the audacity of the City Council. The current City Council meets less than past City Councils. It also does far less. There was a time, when the City Council was involved in the budget process, that two-day meetings were held to go over City Council priorities and the direction they wanted the city to take, and even mundane items like fund balances, tax rates and bond expenditures were discussed. This council held a shortened half-day meeting on the budget, and the “detailed directions” to City Manager Jim...

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Wade’s Newspaper Bill Causing Press to Howl

Paid circulation newspapers and their highly paid lobbyists are wailing and gnashing their teeth over the passage of a bill sponsored by state Sen. Trudy Wade that primarily does two things concerning newspapers. One, it removes a state statute for newspapers that decreed that people who deliver newspapers are not employees. Newspapers have a special exemption to the laws governing employees passed for their exclusive benefit and to the detriment of newspaper carriers. It prevents newspaper carriers from receiving the protections and benefits of employees, such as insurance and retirement plans. It also means that newspaper carriers don’t get half of their Social Security and Medicare tax paid for them by their employer but have to pay the full amount themselves as independent contractors. And it means that the newspapers don’t have to pay unemployment taxes on the newspaper carriers, so newspaper carriers, defined by law as independent contractors, cannot collect unemployment if they lost their jobs. In short, it is a great deal for newspapers and a bad deal for newspaper carriers. The bill, HB205, was passed by the legislature last week, but has not yet been signed into law by the governor, and some expect the governor will veto the bill. When newspapers were delivered by boys on bicycles, the special exemption may have made sense. But times have changed. Very few newspapers are delivered by boys...

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Rhino Shorts: Oct. 5, 2017

It appears television viewers will believe anything. The show was hyped as Michael Phelps swimming against a great white shark and viewers were disappointed that it turned out to be Phelps swimming against a computer generated shark, not a real shark. From the numerous comments, it appears that people actually thought Phelps was going to be in one lane and a shark in the other. Maybe they thought the shark would be standing on the blocks next to Phelps and both dive in the water at the same moment, who knows? Did they think someone had trained a great white shark to swim up and down a swimming pool staying in its lane, making a flip turn and coming back? But it appears many viewers were disappointed that Phelps and the shark were not swimming side by side. Did anyone worry about the safety of Phelps being in the water with a shark that is known to have no moral compunctions about attacking and eating human beings? ***** Weather like we have had the last week always makes me wonder about the wisdom of my ancestors who moved to North Carolina, not only before air conditioning but before fans and screens, and back when any hot meals were cooked on wood stoves. The house I grew up in wasn’t air conditioned, but we did have fans and screens. If...

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Rhino Shorts: June 29, 2017

Fun Fourth Festival in downtown Greensboro kicks off on Monday, July 3 with the Freedom 5K and 10K run; start time is 7:15 p.m. in the 300 block of South Greene Street. The American Block Party runs from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Elm Street and Greene Street parking lot (near Natty Greene’s) with music provided by Liquid Pleasure and Eric & the Chill Tones. Admission is free. Tuesday, July 4, the traditional Fun Fourth Festival will be held downtown from 1 to 8 p.m. The fireworks will be in the First National Bank Field beginning at 9 p.m. And that looks like a pretty full day at North Carolina’s largest Fourth of July festival. ***** The world famous Kirkwood Parade began in 1949 with four families marching around the neighborhood. In the intervening decades, the parade has grown, but not too much; it’s just more families marching, pedaling and driving around the neighborhood. The Kirkwood Parade begins promptly about 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4 on Independence Road between Princess Ann Street and Delaware Avenue. Anyone can join the parade or come and watch those who do. It’s a bona fide Greensboro experience. ***** This week, while North Eugene Street was still closed, the city closed North Elm. Reportedly, North Eugene opened back up to traffic on Wednesday. But it doesn’t appear the city has any consideration...

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Under the Hammer: June 29, 2017

What does it take to kill a story? It’s now six months since President Donald John Trump was inaugurated, and eight months after the election. So far no one has found any evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to affect the outcome of the election. But I heard another report on the ongoing investigation last week. CNN allowed three experienced journalists to resign because of a story linking a Trump supporter to a Russian investment fund that is being investigated. CNN had to retract the story, which like so many stories about Trump was based on one anonymous source, and has the additional problem of not being true. This certainly isn’t the first time the mainstream media have gone overboard on a story about Trump. The reporters hear something that they want to believe and, because they want it to be true, they ignore the usual journalistic practices and run with the story. In fact, the investment fund is not being investigated by Congress, which is the sort of thing that should be a red flag to a journalist. If the less important details from the one anonymous source are wrong, most likely the blockbuster part of the story is wrong also. But then there is the bigger question: Why was this a story at all? Was there some legal prohibition from anyone supporting Trump to...

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Driving While Black Shouldn’t Be Fatal

I watched the video of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by St. Anthony, Minnesota, Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez numerous times, read summaries of the testimony at the trial and read a transcript of the interview Yanez did with the two special agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension about 15 hours after the shooting, which was not introduced as evidence during the trial. I’ve also talked to law enforcement personnel who I respect and trust, but I disagree with them on this one. It appears to me that Castile was killed because he was a black man with dreadlocks and another black man with dreadlocks had robbed a convenience store in the area the week before. Yanez, who was fired as a police officer but found not guilty when he was tried for manslaughter, is Hispanic. Castile had no way of knowing that he was being stopped because Yanez thought he looked like one of the suspects in the armed robbery, because Yanez told him he was being pulled over because two of his three brakelights were out. The question I have is: What could Castile have done to keep from being shot and killed? He was polite. He obeyed all the commands of Yanez. And he did what he had been told to do as a gun owner with a concealed carry permit – he informed...

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Councilmember Jamal Fox To Resign and 2017 City Council Election Update

Filing for the 2017 Greensboro City Council races opens on Friday, July 7 at noon, and things are already starting to get interesting. District 2 City Councilmember Jamal Fox announced last week that he would not run for reelection, which was a surprise; and then this week, to top that surprise, Fox announced that he would be resigning from the City Council. Fox is getting married in August and reportedly will be moving to Portland, Oregon, where his future wife currently resides. Fox is scheduled to resign on at the next City Council meeting on July 18. According to the city press release, which was extremely confusing because the headline says it is about Fox resigning but the text is about Fox not running for reelection until the very last paragraph that states that the City Council will appoint someone to serve out Fox’s term at the next City Council meeting on July 18. City Council terms end in December. Fox was first elected in 2013 and won reelection in 2015 with 88 percent of the vote. Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “We wish him well. I think he has served District 2 extremely well.” It will only be for a couple of months, but appointing Fox’s replacement is big deal because even serving a short term gives a candidate some of the advantages of running as an incumbent. The...

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Rhino Shorts: June 22, 2017

The Rhino Times Only Schmoozefest of Summer is Thursday, June 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kickback Jack’s at 1600 Battleground Ave. The Schmoozefest is taking a well deserved summer vacation, so this will be the last Schmoozefest until September. Those who sign in and wear a name tag are welcome to enjoy free hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine (while supplies last). ***** It wasn’t much of a surprise, but Mayor Nancy Vaughan announced on Twitter that she would be running for reelection to her third term as mayor this fall. Vaughan was first elected in 2013 and followed three mayors who had served for one term each and were then defeated when they ran for reelection. City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson was elected mayor in 2007 and was defeated by Bill Knight in 2009, who was defeated by Robbie Perkins in 2011, and then Vaughan defeated Perkins in 2013. Vaughan won reelection in 2015 with 88 percent of the vote. John Brown, a newcomer to politics, has announced his intention of running for mayor and there are a number of other names floating around out there who reportedly are considering getting into the race. Filing for the City Council election opens Friday, July 7 and closes Friday, July 21 at noon. ***** The North Carolina General Assembly is passing the $23 billion state budget this week. The...

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Under the Hammer: June 22, 2017

The Republicans won another congressional race – this time in Georgia – that according to the mainstream media the Democrats were going to win, thereby demonstrating the unpopularity of President Donald John Trump. It’s the third race that the Democrats have targeted to win back and that the mainstream media have predicted the Democrats would win. The Democrats also lost races in Kansas and Montana after similar hype by the mainstream media. A Republican candidate also won a less high-profile congressional race in South Carolina. It’s like deja vue all over again. The mainstream media, which hate Trump with a passion, are utterly convinced that everyone in the nation feels like they do. The mainstream media are convinced that voters are going to turn out in droves to elect Democrats to prove to Trump that he is going in the wrong direction. The problem with the predictions by the mainstream media is the same problem the mainstream media had in the presidential election – they allow their own personal beliefs to blind them to reality. Even the polls show that the vast majority of Trump supporters still support Trump. But for some reason the mainstream media can’t get it through their liberal heads that there were enough Trump supporters in this country to elect Trump president, and if the overwhelming majority of those supporters continue to support Trump, there...

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Tanger To Save $1 Million

Greensboro announced Tuesday, June 20, that after rebidding the site work for the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, it was awarding the contract for Phase 1 to D.H. Griffin Co. at a cost of $1.2 million. It turns out Coliseum Director Matt Brown, who is in charge of the project, was right. That cost is about $1 million less than the price that Skanska Rentenbach had bid. Brown came under some sharp criticism when, after the groundbreaking for the Tanger on April 26, he cancelled the Phase 1 contract with Skanska and said he planned to rebid the project. Phase 1 involves some demolition, grading and other site work that has to be completed before construction on the site can begin. Brown at the time said that Skanska’s price was too high. The City Council had approved up to $2.5 million for the Phase 1 contract before the price was negotiated. Brown said at the time that he thought it would be worth delaying the project in order to rebid the contract for the grading and other work necessary to get the area ready to build, and he was right. Brown had negotiated the Phase 1 contract with Skanska down to $2.2 million, which turned out was $1 million too high. Skanska still has the contract to construct the Tanger, but one would think that Brown –...

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New Owners Plan Changes to Buffalo Lake and Lake Jeanette

Big changes may be coming to Buffalo Lake and Lake Jeanette. Both lakes were built and owned by Cone Mills, and when International Textile Group (ITG) bought Cone, it got the lakes as a bonus. Now the lakes are under contract to be sold to Jess Washburn, who lives on Buffalo Lake, and Will Dellinger from Charlotte. The price for the two lakes is reportedly $1 million, and they total about 462 acres.   But the question in everyone’s mind is: What do you do with a couple of lakes, particularly since the land around them has largely been developed? A lot of people are concerned that if the sale goes through, the new owners plan to drain and develop the lakes. When asked about that Washburn said, “Oh Man, heavens no. I’d get run out of town.” Washburn said that he and Dellinger had bought a number of abandoned industrial properties from ITG and had been successful in converting them to new uses, including selling water from one facility, which is how they got involved in buying two Greensboro lakes. He said, “Another reason why I bought it is I really didn’t want this property in someone’s hands that wasn’t a Greensboro person and all they want to do is make money.” He added that the lakes were too valuable an asset to go to an outsider who didn’t...

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City Council Raises Taxes, Discusses Major Wage Increases for Employees

The Greensboro City Council raised taxes 2.1 cents on Tuesday, June 20, with the passage of the 2017-2018 budget. However, most of the discussion was not about the tax increase but about raising wages for employees, both in this budget and in future budgets. Councilmember Tony Wilkins said, “Make no doubt about it, a yes vote for this budget is a yes vote to increase taxes.” Wilkins noted that he had heard from a number of his constitutes who were not in favor of a tax increase, and he said, “I won’t be voting for a tax increase and I won’t be voting for this budget.” The vote to pass the $534.6 million 2017-2018 fiscal year budget was 6 to 3, with Councilmembers Wilkins, Sharon Hightower and Jamal Fox voting no. (Councilmember Mike Barber is president of First Tee of the Triad, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth golf and First Tee has business relationship with Gillespie Golf Course, so Barber was recused from voting on the portion of the budget that deals with Gillespie Golf Course.) Hightower had a very different reason for voting no on the budget. Hightower opposed the budget because it included a 7.5 percent salary increase for police officers and firefighters and a 3 percent salary increase based on merit for the other city employees. Hightower said that no city employee was more important...

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Rhino Shorts: June 15, 2017

Sixth District Congressman Mark Walker was at that congressional baseball team practice where a man with a rifle opened fire. Walker said he was shaken but not hurt. The good news so far is that no one other than the shooter was killed. There is no good reason to shoot someone in cold blood, but shooting people because of their political party is proof that the political divisiveness has gone too far. We should all be able to disagree politically but get along socially. Perhaps this will serve as a wake-up call to all of us that there is much more to life than politics. ***** The Rhino Times First Schmoozefest of Summer is Thursday, June 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kickback Jack’s at 1600 Battleground Ave. Those who sign in and wear a name tag are welcome to enjoy free hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine (while supplies last). ***** It’s budget time, which means the schools are demanding more money and the Republican majority on the Board of Commissioners don’t want to raise taxes so they allocated more for the schools than they received last year, but not as much as the schools requested. Here’s a solution where they both would get some of what they want. The county budget that is slated to pass includes a 13 percent unappropriated fund balance – read savings...

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Under the Hammer: June 15, 2017

The bias of the news media against President Donald John Trump cannot be exaggerated. Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump, claims that Trump tried to get him to stop an ongoing investigation. Even if you take what Comey says as the gospel truth, it doesn’t sound like Trump ordered him to do anything. Comey doesn’t have a tape of the conversation or notes taken during the conversation, his proof are notes that he wrote down when he got back from the conversation and, to the best of his recollection, wrote down what Trump said. Trump says that’s not what he said at all. But the mainstream media act as if Comey had taped the meeting and that his interpretation of what was said is the only one that counts. It’s incredible but the mainstream media keep talking about impeachment. At best what you have is a he said, she said. First of all, there is no proof that Trump said what Comey says he said and, secondly, even if he did say it or something similar, there is no crime in what Trump supposedly said. But since Trump says that he didn’t say it, there is nothing there – except the testimony of a disgruntled former employee. ***** The mainstream media and the Democrats continue to ignore the fact that Trump was Comey’s boss until...

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What is the Point of Body-Cam Videos

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. It seems there is general agreement that in the case of police body-worn cameras, the technology has gotten ahead of the law. But there is a good argument to be made that the technology has gotten ahead of good sense. Whatever job you have, imagine that you have to wear a body-worn camera recording what you do all day for your boss to watch. Might you decide to transfer to a company that paid the same and where you didn’t have to wear a camera? I know I would. In Greensboro, the police don’t turn on the body-worn cameras all the time; actually, they do run all the time but they don’t record except when the record button is hit, and then it starts recording a few seconds before the button was pushed, which is pretty cool technology in itself. The police are supposed to record any interaction with a citizen other than polite greetings or something like giving directions. That’s still a lot of recording. The Greensboro Police Department recorded 32,820 hours of police body-worn camera videos last year. For the cameras to do any good, someone has to look at all that footage – and not just someone, but someone who knows police policies and protocols. But still, most of us don’t want our boss...

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Greensboro Uses Odd Economic Incentive to Steal Nano Company from High Point

The Greensboro City Council on Tuesday, June 6, unanimously voted to offer a $1.2 million economic incentive grant to Gateway University Research Park, a joint venture of North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The money will go toward the construction a new building at the Gateway University campus on Gate City Boulevard that will in part be leased to Nanotex, which will move its operation from High Point to Greensboro. The grant is unusual in several respects. One is that A&T and UNCG are both state universities, and it is abnormal for Greensboro to be giving money to the state. Usually the money flows the other way, from the state to the city. It’s also unusual to provide funding to build a building. Typically, if any help was coming from the city, it would be in the form of infrastructure – streets, sidewalks, extending water and sewer lines – that would also benefit the city, not just in handing out money for a new structure. Although the incentive is supposed to help entice Nanotex to move its operation from High Point to Greensboro, the grant is going to Gateway, not to Nanotex, which uses nanotechnology in creating products that make textiles water, odor, stain and wrinkle resistant. Nanotex is part of Crypton Inc., headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The name of the...

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City Tax Increase Fails to Ruffle Feathers

The Greensboro City Council will pass a $533 million budget next week that includes a sizable tax increase and that is, with only a couple of exceptions, the budget that was presented to the council by City Manager Jim Westmoreland on May 16. The City Council gave Westmoreland few directions on the budget before he prepared it. Mainly the council said it wanted to keep the tax rate the same – which actually results in a 2.1 cent tax increase – and that they wanted a raise for the Police and Fire departments. The City Council has made two significant changes; both came at the request of At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber and were supported by the majority of the City Council. Westmoreland’s budget included a 5 percent raise for police officers and firefighters. Barber said that the raise for sworn police officers and firefighters needed to be higher to allow Greensboro to recruit, train and keep public safety officers. Barber suggested a 7.5 percent increase and his suggestion was supported by the rest of the City Council, with the notable exception of Councilmembers Sharon Hightower and Jamal Fox. The Police Department was unable to fill its last training class and has also been losing police officers to other departments in the state that pay more and have less police controversy. At nearly every Greensboro City Council meeting, the...

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Rhino Shorts: June 8, 2017

The Rhino Times First Schmoozefest of Summer is Thursday, June 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kickback Jack’s at 1600 Battleground Ave. Those who sign in and wear a name tag are welcome to enjoy free hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine (while supplies last). ***** First Tee of the Triad is holding a big golf equipment sale on Saturday, June 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gillespie Golf Course at 306 E. Florida St. The sale includes gently used new clubs, bags, tees and balls at great prices. ***** During the budget season, the various agreements between Greensboro and Guilford County usually become a matter of debate on both sides of Governmental Plaza. The City Council found out this week that Greensboro has 36 different contracts with Guilford County covering everything from animal control to libraries. One often ignored factor that Mayor Vaughan kept bringing up is that when Greensboro and Guilford County both participate in a project, the people of Greensboro pay twice – once with their Greensboro taxes and once with Guilford County taxes. ***** I’m in 100 percent agreement with Mayor Nancy Vaughan about remaining in the Paris Accord global warming agreement with one caveat: In keeping with the theory that global warming is the biggest threat to the country, the city of Greensboro should not participate in burning fossil fuels to...

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Under the Hammer: June 8, 2017

President Donald John Trump is living and working in a building filled with Barack Obama supporters. It appears that since Trump took office there hasn’t been a single private conversation in the White House. Calling them leaks doesn’t do justice to the amount of information pouring out of the White House. It’s more like a flood. Trump cannot effectively operate as president if he cannot have a conversation that doesn’t end up on the front page of The Washington Post or The New York Times the next day. Trump will get reamed in the mainstream media for doing it, but he needs to clean house, and by cleaning house that means getting rid of everyone who worked in the White House during the Obama years and anyone else who he suspects is disloyal, not to Trump, but to the president of the United States. Obama did what outgoing chief executives do. Gov. Pat McCrory did the same thing in North Carolina. He turned political appointees into civil servants so that it’s nearly impossible to fire them. So Trump also has a lot of Obama political appointees in the White House who are now civil servants. It is far too difficult to fire them, but they can be transferred. He needs to go ahead and do that. Then he needs to be certain that none of the numerous intelligence agencies...

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Newspapers Fighting for Inequality

The News & Record has a long history of personal attacks on state Sen. Trudy Wade. Now the News & Observer in Raleigh has joined the party. The N&O apparently believes in the old lawyers adage: “When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, call the other lawyer names.” Wade (R-Guilford) has two bills making their way through the General Assembly to level the playing field. Both have passed the Senate and await their fate in the House. Both make a lot of sense, so the News & Observer, instead of writing an editorial about what is wrong with the laws, wrote one attacking Wade. Newspapers – years ago when the state government was completely controlled by their friends in the Democratic Party – had a law passed that exempted newspaper delivery drivers from being considered employees. One of Wade’s laws takes away this exemption and makes newspaper delivery drivers fall under the same laws that apply to other employers in the state. If the drivers meet the criteria to be considered employees, and not independent contractors, then they will be employees. Under the current law a delivery driver can meet all the criteria for employees and still be an independent contractor because newspapers have a special exemption. Back when the special exemption was...

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David Wray Files Slander Lawsuit, This Time It’s Personal

Former Greensboro Police Chief David Wray filed a slander lawsuit against Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and City Attorney Tom Carruthers last week. This lawsuit seems to be the result of the city forgetting why it refused to pay Wray’s legal fees, which is not as strange as it sounds. According to the lawsuit, filed by Wray’s attorney Ken Keller of Carruthers & Roth, when City Attorney Tom Carruthers was asked why the city was not paying Wray’s legal fees, Carruthers was quoted in the June 11, 2016 News & Record as saying that “four city managers have taken the position that David Wray’s actions were malicious.” The lawsuit also states that Vaughan was quoted in a N&R article on June 20, 2016 stating that “the city ‘felt there was maliciousness behind’ David Wray’s actions.” When Vaughan was asked why she used the word maliciousness, she said, “that is the word that the city attorney used and that is in the statute.” She said, “The way Tom [Carruthers] laid it out was that what Wray did was beyond the scope of his authority.” She added, “I am not a lawyer. I rely on the legal advice of our city attorney.” She noted that in her quote, where she used maliciousness, she was attempting to state the position of the city as she understood it at the time, and that both...

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Speakers Ignore Budget, Attack Council For Being Impolite

The Greensboro City Council held its annual public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, June 6 in a full Council Chambers. But the main topic of the evening was not the budget, it was more attacks on Councilmember Mike Barber and all white males by those associated with Nelson Johnson and his various organizations. For the speakers from the floor portion of the meeting, 23 speakers had signed up to speak. Regarding the $533 million 2017-2018 budget, two signed up and four spoke. A number of the speakers from the floor, including Nelson Johnson, took their three minutes from the floor to attack Barber for statements he made at the meeting on May 16 about the Jose Charles case, a juvenile who was arrested on July 4, 2016 near Center City Park, and Brian Watkins, a member of Nelson Johnson’s group who has been disrupting meetings for months and was escorted out of the meeting on May 16. At that meeting, before Watkins was escorted from the Council Chambers, Barber stated that Watkins was a registered sex offenders. He also noted that Watkins had attended a meeting at the YWCA and asked City Attorney Tom Carruthers to determine if it was legal for Watkins to attend a meeting at a facility frequented by children. He also asked Carruthers to find out if it was legal for Watkins to attend...

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Rhino Shorts: June 1, 2017

The city heard back from Trader Joe’s after sending a letter signed by all nine members of the City Council and some emails have been going around among those nine. Trader Joe’s was not impressed. They call the letter a “postcard” and the items that were sent with it “trinkets.” What the City Council clearly needs to do is what they do with many issues – appoint a committee to study why Greensboro would run off a red hot retail store that other cities across the country are lobbying to get. The idea of running off a grocery store that is a destination people will drive to from all over the area indicates a desire for failure. But in Greensboro we tend to think that committees are the solution to every problem, so it’s time for the City Council to appoint a “why did we insult Trader Joe’s?” committee with about 50 members. It could break out into work groups and in four or five years come up with an answer. ***** What do you do if you hold a meeting and nobody comes? City Manager Jim Westmoreland almost found out on Tuesday, May 30 at the public comment period on the 2017-2018 budget. When I arrived at shortly after the scheduled start at 6 p.m., there was one other person who doesn’t work for the city in the...

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