Smelly Schools

Trash is a problem everywhere.

The Associated Press reported that In December 2003, two schools near a landfill in northeastern Pennsylvania temporarily shut down when an overwhelming stink made it impossible for students to concentrate in class. Investigators blamed the stench on decaying gypsum board.

The White Street Landfill will not be closed when household trash is diverted to the new city transfer station. Construction and Demolition Waste, which contains poisonous substances, will continue to be transported by large trucks to the landfill.

Greensboro, High Point, and all of Guilford County should be actively developing a long-term, regional solution to trash disposal. Hauling our household waste to a re-packaging facility and then paying to have it hauled away and become someone else's problem is not a good long-term solution. It is not even a good temporary solution.

We can reduce the volume of waste going into landfills by improved Recycling, Resue, and Resource Recovery and we should build a Waste to Energy program as soon as possible.

I have been gathering information for over five years about waste to energy programs. There are several options for plants that meet good environmental standards. Many facilities are more cost effective than conventional waste disposal methods in common use today.

I have approached city leaders several times and the negative thinking on this subject is unbelievable. Several years ago there was some talk. But even the talk was abandoned as soon as it was decided to stop receiving household trash at the White Street Landfill.

Other cities, both small and large, are looking at better energy sources and better ways of disposing of trash. Greensboro should be planning for the future, NOW ! !

Trash is a problem everywhere. Greensboro should deal with ours in smarter ways.

What do you think?

Moratorium on Dumps in NC sought

In addition to a bill concerning trash disposal introduced in the House (HB2192 Amend Solid Waste Franchise Statutes:) A bill asking for more study on landfills has been introduced in the NC Senate.

NC Senator Clark Jenkins (Edgecombe) has introduced a bill calling for a Moratorium Imposed on New Landfills. The bill (if made into law) would block the permitting of any new landfills for two years while the legislature studies current rules and decides how to strengthen them. The bill would also appropriate money to do a study of landfills in low-lying areas and other landfill hazards and how to strength current laws governing landfills in the state.

Courts have ruled that garbage is a commodity that states cannot stop from crossing their borders. That has led to the growth of interstate shipments to places with more open space. There are several applications for landfills pending in NC at this time. The largest one is proposed for Camden County. This massive dump could be over 200 feet high and would have the capacity to bury 3 million tons of trash a year for up to 27 years. It is proposed for a 490 to 704 acre site just 3,000 feet from Hwy, 17. This pile of garbage will probably be visible for quite a distance.

The Raleigh N&O reports that Gov. Mike Easley's budget proposal suggests a $2-per-ton statewide fee on solid waste, which would generate about $20 million. Part of the money generated by the fee would be used to help clean up about 700 inactive landfills and some abandoned polluted industrial sites across the state and provide grants to local governments for cleanups.
North Carolina currently charges no fee for trash disposal. Gov. Easley's fee proposal would include all trash disposal in North Carolina, not just imported trash.

An entire copy of the bill (S1575) can be found on the North Carolina Legislature web site.

Short Title: Moratorium Imposed on New Landfills/Funds.
Sponsors: Senators Jenkins; Albertson and Purcell.
Referred to: Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources.

S.1575 will block any new approvals until January 2008, providing time for a study commission to examine how to improve siting, bonding, and operations of landfills to prevent the degradation of rural communities and the natural environment. Of course there are some exceptions in the proposal.

. . . "SECTION 2.(b)  Exceptions. – The moratorium established by subsection (a) of this section shall not prohibit consideration of an application for or issuance of:
(1) A modification of a permit for an existing permitted landfill.
(2) A permit to expand an existing permitted landfill if the proposed facility boundary will provide no more than five years of disposal capacity.
(3) A modification of a permit to reflect a transfer of ownership of an existing permitted landfill.
(4) A modification of a permit to provide for a substantial change to the waste stream described in a permit in effect as of 1 May 2006 for an existing landfill.
(5) A permit for a sanitary landfill used only to dispose of waste generated by a coal?fired generating unit that is owned or operated by an investor?owned utility subject to the requirements of G.S. 143?215.107D.
(6) A permit for a sanitary landfill determined to be necessary by the Secretary in order to respond to an imminent hazard to public health or a natural disaster . . .

Should we allow North Carolina to become the dumping ground for garbage from the entire East Coast? North Carolina's location on the coast makes it an easy dumping place for trash traveling on barges and by rail up and down the Atlantic Coast.

Bio Refinery Facility coming to NC

Renewable Energy Access reports that Green Star Products will build two new biorefinery facilities. One will be located near Smithfield, North Carolina at the Selma Fuel Terminal on Hwy. US 70.

Greenstar (GSPI) plans to produce biodiesel and biomass ethanol at the facility. The biodiesel and ethanol plants will combine resources for economy. One part of the operation will use domestically produced vegetable oil to make biodiesel. Ethanol will be produced in the other from waste products from the plants such as stalks, etc.

Landfill Permits

Representative Pricey Harrison (e-mail: (D-Guilford) has introduced a bill about landfills in NC - HB2192 Amend Solid Waste Franchise Statutes:

This bill would require that local governments provide adequate public notice of award or renewal of franchise agreements governing proposed landfills.

Proposals to construct and operate a number of large landfills in the State are pending.

If these proposed landfills are permitted, North Carolina could become a net importer of trash.

See other post on this blog about trash disposal and traveling trash and more info about dumps.


Several people have asked why I have neglected my blog lately. I just haven't had the heart to or courage to do it. But here goes.

It just gets worse and worse. The newspaper wrote that the Police Academy training program run by the Greensboro Police Dept. has cheated and let unqualified cadets graduate and has not kept adequate records. It might not be accredited. The official investigation report is on-line. It might not be a bad idea to close it down. GTCC has a law enforcement training program that could be used. I am not sure of the cost of each program or how adequate the Guilford Technical Community College program is.

The Police Department is being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation , the FBI, and a private company on other charges of internal corruption and racism. The City Council Members are participating in a game of deceit by taking lie detector tests to prove that they have not given the press information about the police investigation. The Police Chief was fired and he and his lawyer have not been told the charges against him. The new City Manager says they are bad. He told the City Council, but warned them not to tell. Greensboro is being sued by some present and former police officers and citizens. This is a big secret that has not been kept very well.

The powerful Simpkin's PAC, which is run by black leaders and controls lots of votes of ignorant people, has been asking candidates running for office to contribute to their coffers in order to be endorsed by the group. This has been going on for years. This is the group run by several current or former members of the Guilford County Commission, the Greensboro City Council and the NC Legislature. This group helped Rev. King and his nonprofit building company bilk the city, state, feds and private donors out of millions of dollars. Although the group did much good by building housing for low income people here and elsewhere, they misappropriated and mixed funds illegally. Rev. King and Homestead did not go through city approved regular channels to get much of his funding.

The new APPOINTED, not elected, DA refuses to press any charges against the nonprofit builder Homestead, even as the local newspaper investigates the deal. He was backed by the Simpkin's PAC and won the Democratic Primary against a woman who has worked in the DA's office for, I think, 15 years. He fired her when she announced that she would run for DA.

The former city manager went to work for the Bryan Foundation (run by former mayor Jim Melvin and supported by Jefferson-Pilot). They were the primary backers of the Center City Park downtown which is across the street from the abandoned Wachovia High-Rise. The park is referred to as a 12 million dollar gift to the city. But; in reality, it is costing the city millions and will continue to do so because the city has raised taxes in the downtown area to maintain the park. The park was built (no matter what they say) to help make the building more attractive to potential purchasers. The city and county have agreed to give a developer over 2 million dollars to "help" him develop the building into a mixed-use office, retail, condo space where he will live in a pent house on the 17th floor and the mayor hinted at more help for tenants of the building.

Action Greensboro is losing its clout and has joined two other "economic development groups" to form a new group called The Greensboro Partnership. I think it will disband quietly very soon. Just as I said years ago, the whole thing was to build that stadium and sell the Wachovia Building for the friends of Jim Melvin and Jefferson-Pilot. BTW, Jefferson-Pilot Financial has been sold to a Pennsylvania company who will move the headquarters out of state. The executive director of Action Greensboro (the promoters of the new stadium and new park) will leave soon to be director of the nonprofit Cemala Foundation founded by the Cone family who have given money to Action Greensboro. The Cemala Foundation has temporarily suspended its grant program.

The state has made it possible for brewers to produce and sell beer with higher alcohol content. More bars are opening downtown and the ballpark promotes cheap beer more than it does baseball. Action Greensboro has sponsored an event downtown for the past several years where college students are given discounts on alcohol and rides back and forth from campus are provided for that one night to get their drunk selves home. The city provides policemen on bikes to ride around downtown, but can't afford to hire enough police for other areas of the city.

Several lawyers who represent big developers are almost never turned down when they ask for zoning and other changes in the laws governing development. A friend of mine is currently fighting a development on New Garden Road that includes a big box type Eckerd Drugstore and a bank building in a residential neighborhood. One of these high-powered lawyers, Henry Isaacson, is representing the developer. They have been turned down by the Greensboro Planning Department and the Zoning Commission. The City Council was scheduled to hear the case last Tuesday, but it was postponed until late June by the lawyers of the developer.

Greensboro is losing its tree canopy at an alarming rate due in part to bad development decisions. The city keeps annexing area for which it cannot provide adequate services. A bond issue will be on the ballot in November to help fix government properties which have NOT BEEN MAINTAINED PROPERLY for years. We are not taking care of what we have.

The director of the Planning Department retired with a city pension and went to work for the Sports Commission that is pushing for public money to build an ACC Museum in Greensboro next to the Coliseum. The city talked about plans to buy the old Canada Dry building which is next to the Coliseum. That plan has been put on hold for now. The newspaper thinks it is a good idea. The site is owned by the wife of the editor of the News and Record. State Senator Hagan is on the state appropriations committee and got (in closed session) the State of NC to appropriate 2 million dollars for the museum which promoters are calling The ACC Hall of Champions. The museum in Greensboro is a good idea, but not with government funds. (Like the ACC doesn't have enough money to build their own museum.) The Greensboro City Council requested that the legislative representatives from our area ask for this money. The Chamber or Commerce thinks it's a great idea.

A study committee made up of mostly non-users of public transportation has recommended increasing bus fares and handicapped transportation fees. Bus service will be improved with more routes and more frequent service. That is good. Greensboro has needed better transportation options for years. A federal grant will make all bus service free to college students, but poor working people will have to pay more to ride the bus.

And I don't even want to think about the ways GDOT and the Parks and Recreation Department are wasting money.

And I must mention bad decisions by the Guilford County School Board and Administration. And some of the increase in County taxes is, in part, due to bad decisions by the County Commissioners and the School Board. What a mess.

CITY PROPERTY TAXES WILL INCREASE to pay for the new TRASH TRANSFER STATION and for hauling trash to a dump in another county. Greensboro is on the verge of being banned from having new industry here because of air pollution. Duke Power and two other power companies have applied for permission to build nuclear plants near here and the old coal-fired plants are spewing mercury into the air every day.

The jail is overcrowded with inmates sleeping on the floor. Two men are running against the current sheriff saying that we don't need more jail space. The feds are considering taking over the Guilford County Jail and requiring it to be brought up to code or a new one built. They did that in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County had to build a new jail. To it's credit, The City Council changed the zoning rules so that the county can build a new jail close to the old one downtown. If the feds take over, it will cost the county (that's we taxpayers) more than if they go ahead and do it soon. Because of the condition of our jail, the county and individual commissioners are liable if inmates or employees decide to sue over conditions or if anyone is hurt because of the conditions that exist there. The court system needs more funding and better administrative oversight.

The City, County and State governments are throwing "economic development funds" around like confetti.

These are some things that I can think of right at this moment. I repeat -- It just gets worse and worse. I think that with good government and informed citizens, we can have a wonderful city. I keep trying. Sometimes I wonder why.

Truth, Lies and More

Some interesting stuff about Polygraph Tests and a free download called The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.

See comments on previous posts by George Maschke at Phillips on Polygraph

Who's Watching Contract 2005-060A?

City Council has approved $36,829 to be taken from the Storm Water Pipe Fund; Account No. 506-7005-01.6018 Act. No. 06074 to pay for a 16% increase in the contract amount with Action Greensboro, Inc. to construct the City's new streetscape abutting Center City Park.

The original agreement was to replace a failing storm sewer outfall for the purpose of providing storm water runoff for Elm Street and Friendly Ave.

I wonder just how bad that storm sewer was. Has anyone every notice water backing up at this intersection? I know that I am a big advocate of taking care of what we have; but, I think that this is one of those "iffy" projects.

This item was #26 on the May 2, 2006 Consent Agenda. This is the first change order on contract 2005-060A which was set up to track these expenditures. The reason given for this increase "The actual underground conditions encountered required a change in the original scope of work and additional costs."

Just thought someone should try to keep citizens informed about the amount of city money that is going into the privately-owned park at Friendly and Elm streets.

I think that since this amount is coming from the Storm Water Pipe Fund, it is in addition to the money already allocated from Greensboro City Funds for streetscaping around the park.

Is this the case? Is that why there had to be a separate vote on this allocation? The contact person at Greensboro Engineering & Inspections Department is Ted Kellam, 373-2302.

Tom Phillips on Bonds

In a Radio Interview this morning, City Councilman Tom Phillips was asked about the proposed bond issues to be included on the November 2006 ballot. The proposals presently being considered will apparently exceed $20 million.

Phillips said that there are lots of worthwhile projects being discussed, but the only one he feels is necessary is the one for building new fire stations. He said that he was "really disappointed," adding in jest that he had been pushing for a city council helicopter that has been talked about for many years.

An olympic size swimming pool has been proposed as part of a YWCA building project. This is the same pool that failed to pass in the last bond referendum. It has been moved from being a YMCA project to being a YWCA project. Mr. Phillips suggested that if the city is going to pay for the pool, and the citizens want the pool, it should be owned and managed by the city.

One place that has been suggested for the pool is close to the Coliseum. Phillips said, "Matt Brown knows a whole lot about swimming pools. He has experience and knows exactly how to make a project like this successful."

Phillips has apparently discussed this possibility with the Coliseum management and with Greensboro Parks and Recreation Dept. because he said that P&R does not want to manage a tournament-type pool, so the logical place for it is at the Coliseum with Coliseum management.(That is if the bond passes for $7 million to build the pool and $2 million for land, and if the citizens want to take on the cost of operation of the facility.)

Tom Phillips on Polygraph

Greensboro City Council Member Tom Phillips was interviewed this morning on the Dusty Dunn program with John Hammer of the Rhino Times on 1070 am radio (available daily at

Eight members of the City Council, including Mayor Holliday have taken a polygraph test in an attempt to find out who gave information about a report concerning misconduct in the Greensboro Police Department and the firing of Chief Ray by the City Manager. The lie-detector test was given by a retired FBI agent who is frequently used by RMA. Several council members have said that they passed the test. Others have not yet revealed the results of their tests.

Mr. Phillips was asked how long did the lie-detector test take. He answered that the whole thing took about an hour and a half. The first half hour was spent just talking, then a half hour telling how the test works and going over the questions to be asked. The final half hour was the actual test. Phillips said that they asked basic information questions and then a series of questions that were asked three different times in three different sequences. He said that you knew what they were going to be asking and eight council members have done it. Phillips said that questions asked covered these scenarios: Did you give access to other people? Did you leak it to the news media? Did you make copies of it?

Phillips said that he does not know how the staff was cleared, but very few people had access and the City Manager has assured the council that these staff people have been cleared. He also said that the polygraph test would not have been given if everyone on the council had signed the affidavit saying that they did not reveal the information in the report.

Who Cares ? ?

There were not many interesting races here in Guilford County yesterday. I was disappointed at the outcome of several. I especially wanted a new DA - Maybe in the general election. Only about 5 per cent of REGISTERED voters even bothered to go to the polls. Very few people took time to learn about the candidates. The media did a poor job of helping shed information on the election. Most of the same old people got re-elected by the same power bases that keep them there, the people who vote and the people who don't vote.

A question on Greensboro 101 asks "Did my vote count?' The real question here is how many non-votes counted?"

The City Council (most of them) are wasting time and money taking polygraph tests to prove to each other that they are not "leakers" while putting the public on hold until the next episode or until more information leaks out. Toyota is keeping secret plans for a new plant, maybe. The School Board voted to have no regular soft drinks at schools, only caffeine-free aspartame-loaded diet drinks and fruit juices in vending machines. The FDA is keeping the danger of aspartame from the public.

And here in the Gate City (or whatever we call it now) the front page of the N&R asks "WHO CARES ABOUT BASEBALL WHEN THE BEER'S JUST A BUCK?



I Wish Y'all Had Been There

Speakers for Law Day 2006 were very good. A special thanks to the panel members:
US Rep.Brad Miller (D-NC13)
NC State Sen. Philip E. Berger (R-Minority Leader)
NC Superior Court Judge John O. Craig, III
Margaret A. Dudley (Attorney and NCA&T Adjunct Professor)
Norman B. Smith (Practicing Attorney)
UNCG Professor David Lefkowitz,
Professor George R. Johnson, Jr. (Moderator)

Professor Johnson, the moderator, kept the debate informal and friendly and regulated the pace of the conversation very well. A little partisan politics crept into the presentation, as well it should have. But members of the forum and the audience were all well behaved and interesting. The conversation centered on this year's theme "Liberty Under Law: Separate Branches, Balanced Powers." NC State government was discussed, as well as National Issues about how the three branches of government interact.

Judge Craig mentioned that members of the NC Judicial Branch are somewhat restricted because they depend on the Legislative Branch for funding and that the NC Legislature regulates how the money in the Judicial Branch can be used. He suggested that the Judicial Branch is not just another agency of government. It is a separate branch and should be given equal status by the NC Legislature.

There will always be some friction between the branches and that is good. I think the Founding Fathers planned it that way. Anyway, I won't go into much of the conversation. I was busy helping with the program and did not take notes. The entire program was videotaped and I hope to review it soon. I wish all of you could have been there.

Maybe I will post some photos (when I figure out how to do it) of the student winners of the contest: Explaining "Separate Branches, Balanced Powers"

Elementary School Winners:
1st Place: Alex Bruno & Jack Sartore (Our Lady of Grace School)
2nd Place: Jonah Carmichael (Our Lady of Grace School)
3rd Place: Andy O'Brien (Stokesdale Elementary School)

Middle School Winners:
First Place: Mary Fontana & Cynthia Paniagua (Ferndale Middle School)
2nd Place: Anne Lucas (Canterbury School)
3rd Place: (tie) Jordan Cannon (Canterbury School) and Taylor Oots (Ferndale Middle School)

Thanks again to the committee who organized this program and to the sponsors: The Greensboro Bar Association, League of Women Voters of the Piedmont Triad, NC Court Watch, YWCA of Greensboro, American Association of University Women, Greensboro Public Library, A&T State University Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, and the Program on Constitutional and Legal Policy of the Open Society Institute.

Maybe I will post some photos of the student winners of the contest to explain "Separate Branches, Balanced Powers"