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.