The First Rhino Times Schmoozefest of Spring is Thursday, March 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fresh. Local. Good. at 433 Spring Garden St. It will be in the Morehead Foundry, the first multiplex dining facility in Greensboro. Beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served gratis to those who sign in and wear a name tag.
It appears Gov. Roy Cooper is starting to find out just how powerful the governor of North Carolina is not.
The state House overrode Cooper’s veto of a bill to make judicial races partisan on Wednesday. The Senate is scheduled to follow on Thursday.
What Cooper is going to learn the hard way is that the governor, if he works with the legislature, can get things accomplished. If he chooses to work against the legislature and be completely disingenuous about his own behavior, as Cooper has done with House Bill 2, then the governor gets to cut ribbons and make speeches while the legislature makes laws.
Here’s a radical idea for Greensboro, not for the rest of the civilized world. If there really is an affordable housing shortage in Greensboro, why not allow single-family homes to have an ancillary dwelling on their lot? This is commonplace in many places. In Greensboro you can only build another dwelling unit if you have a pool and add a pool house or a garage that includes a garage apartment.
I saw one woman get turned down for a garage and garage apartment because the garage was not at the end of her driveway. The Planning Department made up the definition that it wasn’t a garage unless it was on the driveway, which prevented a property owner from doing what she wanted with her property.
I subscribed to The New York Times for about 20 years until the management at the paper decided that reporters’ opinions were more important than truth. So at least twice a week I get pleas from The Times to resubscribe at very low rates. The latest missive from the Old Gray Lady states, “The New York Times. Dedicated to story telling in all its forms …”
And that’s exactly why I’m not tempted by the offers. If I’m looking for “story telling,” I read fiction. What I’m looking for in a newspaper is news, and sadly The New York Times decided to get out of the news business.
I keep reading about how these new self-driving cars are coming. I think they’re already here because I was behind one recently. There was no head visible, only the headrest.
The car was traveling very slowly and appeared to be feeling its way down the street. It would travel, veering left for a little while and then veering back right for a few yards, always making forward progress but never going straight. I’m pretty sure it was one of those self-driving cars that was feeling for the curb on one side and then on the other.
I think they still have some bugs to be worked out because it would be better if the cars would go straight and not travel at 15 mph below the speed limit. Also I don’t know why these self-driving cars always have one turn signal blinker on unless it is to alert other drivers that it is a self-driving car.
The second session of Participatory Budgeting is kicking off this month.
City Councilmember Tony Wilkins said it should be called non-participatory budgeting because in his district of over 50,000 people, 70 people voted to buy two $10,000 outdoor chess tables. And you don’t have to be a registered voter to vote in Participatory Budgeting. In fact, you don’t have to be an adult. Anyone who says they live in the district who is over 14 years old is encouraged to vote.
It’s supposed to get people involved in their neighborhoods by giving the people in each district $100,000 to spend. In reality the city staff decides on the projects and what it really does is give relatively few people the illusion that they are participating in government when in reality it gives city staff a chance to get projects funded that they could never get through the city budget process.
This is done by an old but effective trick. The few voters who do vote only get to vote on projects nominated by the committee dominated by staff.
So, for example, the $10,000 chess tables may sound stupid, but what if the choices were a bus locator application so you could look at your smart phone and know where all the buses in the city were currently located – something that is completely useless to the vast majority of people in Greensboro who don’t ride buses and to quite a few who do ride buses but don’t have smart phones – painting a bridge you have never heard of, or buying $10,000 chess tables? You might vote for the chess tables as the least ridiculous of the three.
What Participatory Budgeting needs to be truly participatory is a way to vote against all the money-wasting projects and to put the $100,000 back in the budget.
The Participatory Budgeting people will never include that because they fear that those opposed to wasting money might vote and the Participatory Budgeting program would end.
I double dog dare the City Council to add a box to each Participatory Budgeting ballot that says, “None of the above.” If they think people support Participatory Budgeting, this should not be seen as a problem. Let people have a real voice. Let them vote for projects or against projects.
It won’t happen because those in favor of Participatory Budgeting don’t really want the people to participate, they want a program where they can give $100,000 to their supporters for pet projects in their district. It’s a great way to buy votes with tax dollars, which is all the current Participatory Budgeting process is.