Re-Blogging

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.

15 comments:

D. Hoggard said...

"Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln... How did you like the play?"

Perhaps you should blog a little more often Diane... bottling it up is just not healthy.

Great litany showing Greensboro at its incestuous best.

Joe Guarino said...

Wow, what a post, Diane. I appreciate all the effort you put into it.

Cara Michele said...

Excellent post, Diane. This really ought to be published in the newspaper. Admitting the truth is the first step toward fixing the mess.

Dr. Mary Johnson said...

WOW! What a re-entry! Take breaks and "bottle up" any time you want Diane.

None of the rest of us are worthy.

This post should be published in the newspaper? Now THAT was good for a hearty chuckle.

Tom Phillips said...

Diane, Your blog reminded me of John Belushi in "Animal House" when he referred to the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor. No one corrected him because he was on a roll.

Ed Cone said...

Well said, Tom.

diane said...

Hey Tom,
Hey Ed,

Did I mention anything that is not factual except a couple of my opinions?

Gregg said...

Truth is a good dog; but always beware of barking too close to the heels of an error, lest you get your brains kicked out
-Francis Bacon

Watch out for those hooves Diane, your barking a little too close to where they reside.

On the other hand, can you name just one thing good about Greensboro? Maybe something that keeps you writing, that gives you hope of a better city in the future? Just so we know that you know, the ship is not lost!

diane said...

Hey Greg,

I love Greensboro. Check out some of my earlier post about living here. here
and here

Gregg said...

Diane,

Thank you for the links. Great things to love!

Beacons for those times when you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the feculent prestidigitation that can be local politics in the city which you love.

To address those who choose to rebuff your blog post as factually challenged, due to what they believe is, and might possibly be, a more intimate knowledge of the facts, I would pose this question. Why do so many in the local blogosphere, as too the streets of Greensboro and Guilford County, share this perfidiously corrupt view of their local government?

Abraham Lincoln wrote in his autobiography, "If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing on an average one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and grey eyes -- no other marks or brands recollected."

In application of Lincoln's observation on his personal appearance to others, to that of present day politics in Greensboro, Guilford County and beyond; in the public's eyes, you are what you appear to be.

In a Republic such as ours, how the public views government is crucial in its effectual application. "Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much." Abraham Lincoln

If elected officials find themselves uncomfortable or asynchronous with public opinion concerning their governance, then perhaps they should step back from what they may view as their intimate relationship with the machinations of local government; that the public may perceive as myopic or insulated, and seek to view from the public's vantage point. Councilman Phillips' deprecating response can only serve to enhance an "us against them" mentality that is sure to be counterproductive to the public's perception of an open, transparent, ethical and honest local government. Add to that Ed Cone's vacuous 'touché' and you have the appearance of an establishment serving itself, which in a bent stroke bolsters validity to Diane's case.

True leaders seek first to understand, then to be understood. When public servants no longer value public opinion; especially that which questions its direction, wisdom and integrity, then those servants have vacated their elected estate, which is to serve, and have mutated into that which is, to be served.

At times, leaders must make tough decisions and to be sure, those decisions will not make everyone happy all the time. There will always be those who disagree with any given decision but, in the midst of those difficult decisions, leaders must be servants as well. Servant leaders foster dialog, they listen to differing opinions and seek to understand the roots from which the differing opinions have sprang, they are open to questions, forthcoming with answers and transparent in their duties of office. Without the servant component and with every decision made, the portions of the electorate that are in disagreement with each decision will become alienated and distrustful of their elected leaders. The lack of a servant mentality for governance by elected leadership, compounded with the passage of time, results in the type scenario we see in Greensboro and Guilford County today, where those elected have a view of how they are performing that is diametrically opposed to that of its electorate's view of that same performance.

To quote from that great American classic "Cool Hand Luke" starring Paul Newman in the title role, "What we have here is a failure to communicate." In order to re-establish and preserve the public's good faith in the integrity of the government, that government must function daily with openness, honesty, transparency and the highest of ethical standards; seeking to serve. The responsibility of which lies squarely on the shoulders of elected officials.

Admin said...

Gregg, thanks for speaking the truth. The longer I live in Greensboro, the harder it is to remember what it sounds like.

It's sad that so many intelligent people comprise such a foolish citizenry. Instead of trying to break down the ugly walls that separate us, Greensboro spends year after year pasting on ever-prettier wallpaper.

The leadership sets the agenda and the tone, and though they serve us in small ways, they fail us in the critically important ones.

Diane, I look forward to more venting when you feel so moved. It's cathartic.

Ed Cone said...

Diane, you know I respect you, and your opinions. I like a good rant, and this was a good rant. I would have left it alone, but I thought Tom nailed it, and then you asked where I disagreed, so...

I disagree, strongly, with your premise that things are getting "worse and worse."

I think things are much better than they were in the recent past.

You identify some serious and well-known problems, including issues with the police department (worse now than Nov 3, 1979?) and the Homestead situation (worse now than when Homestead was still, y'know, in existence?) (are black voters really more "ignorant" than white ones, by the way?)

The trash transfer thing is bad (although not for people near the landfill), and developers are pushing into green space, yes.

After that, almost everything is opinion, and much of that opinion seems premised on the idea that anyone who is successful in this town is crooked and self-dealing, and that downtown Greensboro is not an incredible success story almost unimaginable in the dreary recent past, and is somehow worse off now than it was with empty storefronts and silent streets.

After a while you just throw in the kitchen sink. Two candidates for sheriff don't want to build a new jail to relieve overcrowding! (Yeah, but the guy who's going to win does want the new jail.)

Cemala stops grants! (Uh, yeah, they have a new director, they'll be right back.)

People like beer! (Prohibition ended in 1933.)

You manage to avoid any mention of the improved macroeconomic picture in the Triad, the great news from the Coliseum, the steady improvement of UNCG, or, really any good news at all.

So that's my beef: I see plenty of problems in this city, but I absolutely don't buy the argument -- in general or specifics - that things are getting "worse and worse."

diane said...

OK Ed,

Maybe I went overboard a bit. I respect your opinions too.

Much of the success and revitalization of Downtown Greensboro is due to the current trend of "back to the center city". This is true almost all over the US.

I don't really think that everyone is out for only himself. But there sure seems like lots of it. This is also true of many cities, not just ours.

And about beer - how much alcohol does it take to make a good beer? And does it make sense to push it constantly as being so much fun to get drunk. Alcohol and other drugs cause many social and health problems. Encouraging student to get drunk as a rite of passage is kind of foolish for everyone except the pub owners.

BTW: I wasn't drinking when I wrote the rant.

See ya,
diane

Gregg said...

Ah, I'm touched, communication is a wonderful thing.

Feeling a bit verklempt right now. Take a moment to discuss amongst yourselves, here's a topic, "Ain't communication grand, instead of quick little zingers?!"

There, I feel better now and in the spirit of that early 60's TV series, "Car 54, Where are you," Councilman Tom Phillips, Where are you?"

ed cone said...

Like I said, great rant.

And with truth in it.

Keep at it..