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Rhino Times - 2017-03-16
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-03-16 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 11 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, March 16, 2017 plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com The Weekly Hammer THE WEEKLY Hammer State of Gov. by John Hammer Gov. Roy Cooper gave his State of the State address on Monday, March 13 in the legislative building in Raleigh. He smiled a lot, but it’s hard to believe he was enjoying himself. Both the state House and Senate have veto-proof Republican majorities and there was very little applause from the Republican legislators. Cooper said he wanted to work with the legislature, but he has already filed three lawsuits trying to use the courts to overturn action the legislature has taken. Suing people doesn’t usually lead to cooperation. Cooper’s State As state attorney general, Cooper also refused to defend some of the laws passed by the Republican legislature when they were challenged in court, even though that was his job. To top it off, there is the whole House Bill 2, “the bathroom bill,” issue. In particular, Cooper ordered the Democrats to vote against the repeal legislation that was before the legislature in a special session in December when Cooper was governor-elect but hadn’t been sworn into office. To say there is a lack of trust between the governor and the Republican-led legislature would be an understatement, and Cooper didn’t help his cause by coming to the floor of the House smiling like a possum and saying things the legislator knew weren’t true. Cooper said that if the legislature passed a straight repeal of HB2 he would sign it the same day. But what legislators know is that when a straight repeal of HB2 was on the floor of the Senate for a vote in December, Cooper ordered the Democrats to vote against it. Democratic state Sen. Joel Ford said that the Democrats in the Senate didn’t have a problem with the repeal, even when a moratorium was attached, but when Cooper told them to vote against it they did, even when the moratorium was taken off the bill and it was a straight repeal. If Cooper is actually in favor of the repeal of HB2, why did he order the Senate Democrats to vote against it? In December,16 Republican senators voted in favor of repealing HB2 and not a single Democrat. One thing it proves is that Cooper is definitely calling the shots for the Democrats in the legislature. The belief held by many Republicans is that Cooper doesn’t want HB2 repealed because, as long as the law is in place, he can raise campaign funds nationwide. Once HB2 is repealed the campaign donors in other parts of the country won’t have a good reason to send big bucks to North Carolina. According to Republicans, Cooper has killed all the attempts to repeal HB2 by lobbying against the various compromises when he was a gubernatorial candidate and by being more forceful after he was elected governor. It was kind of odd in his speech that Cooper didn’t give any credit to Republicans for the improvements in the state’s economy. But what was even stranger is that he didn’t mention his predecessor, former Gov. Pat McCrory. Cooper talked about the natural disasters and rebuilding Eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew, but he didn’t say anything about the work that McCrory did while that disaster was unfolding. He could have made a joke about it, since the hurricane plus the fires in the western part of the state kept McCrory off the campaign trail, or he could have simply thanked McCrory for the hard work he had done. McCrory and Cooper certainly had, and have, serious political (continued on page 11) 25,000 Barrels of Beer on the Wall by John Hammer The Rhino Times welcomes the News & Record into the club of those in support of allowing breweries some of the freedom that most other businesses have. For over 10 years, the Rhino Times has supported raising the cap on how much beer a brewery can produce and self-distribute. Maybe if a few more media outlets get on board this law can be fixed. The law is absurd. It puts a limit of 25,000 barrels a year on how much beer a brewery can produce and distribute without using a beer wholesaler or distributor. If you use a distributor then there is no limit on how much beer a brewery can produce. Can you imagine if this type of law was applied to other businesses? For example, if it applied to the newspaper industry, a newspaper would be allowed to deliver its own papers up to 25,000, but if a newspaper distributed more than 25,000 papers it would have to hire another company to deliver them. Or a farmer would be able to sell sell 10,000 bushels of produce at a farmers market, but if he sold more than 10,000 bushels, by law he would have to sell his produce to a wholesaler. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a business decision that the business owner should be allowed to make What it proves is the extent of political influence through lobbyig and campaign contributions in the alcohol business in North Carolina. We have a system of laws in North Carolina that gives beer distributors franchises from the state, which are basically licenses to make money. In each territory there is one beer distributor who can legally sell a particular brand of beer to retail outlets. By law these distributors have no competition in their territory for their brands of beer. These laws didn’t make any sense to me so I called state Rep. Jon Hardister, who is a vice chairman of the state House Alcohol Beverage Control Committee. I asked Hardister to explain to me how this law governing beer distribution benefitted the people of North Carolina. He said, “It doesn’t.” Hardister said, “Frankly, we have laws on the books that don’t make any sense at all.” Hardister said that the law limiting a brewery to 25,000 barrels of selfdistribution “was basically written to benefit the wholesalers.” He said that some states have no cap on self-distribution, that South Carolina had a cap of 100,000 barrels and for some states it’s higher. Hardister said there were 10 states that allowed no self-distribution. He said about raising the cap, “It’s not going to hurt the wholesalers.” Hardister said, “I don’t know why these laws exist.” He said that the laws had nothing to do with consumption – since that was controlled by other laws – but appeared to have been written to benefit the wholesalers who have a powerful lobby in Raleigh. He also agreed that it was difficult to get support to change the laws governing beer distribution because the lobby in Raleigh is so powerful. Hardister noted that the small breweries have formed an association and are starting to lobby themselves, so that might help level the playing field a little.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3

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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer Editor Here is one that is just unbelievable to me. A bill has passed the state Senate to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to limit the state income tax rate to 5.5 percent. Only two of the 16 Democratic senators voted for it. Who is in favor of higher taxes? I guess the answer is the Democrats, but most people I know would like to pay lower taxes and this bill doesn’t actually do anything except give the voters of the state the opportunity to make that decision. One survey showed that the state income tax cap is supported by 68 percent of North Carolina voters. When the Democrats were in charge of the state and raised the state income tax to over 8 percent, business recruitment and job growth stagnated. When the Republicans lowered the income tax rate, which is currently at 5.5 percent, the economy took off. Maybe Democrats believe that is just a coincidence. What I don’t understand is that if Democrats think the tax rate should be higher, why don’t they send more money to the government? The government does accept donations, so if Democrats think the state tax rate should be 10 percent, why not just pay 10 percent to the state government? If all the Democrats in favor of higher taxes would donate more of their money to the government, then the taxes on the rest of us who like to keep and spend our own money could be lowered. I think it’s a great idea. Allen Johnson’s editorial column in Sunday’s News & Record was, to no one’s surprise, against a bill introduced in the state House to allow concealed carry by people without concealed carry permits. What the column failed to note is that these people can already carry a gun in all the places that they could in the future carry a concealed weapon. The difference is that without a concealed carry permit the gun cannot be concealed. It doesn’t mean you can’t carry a gun, it just means you have to carry it openly. Periodically, the mainstream media will run an article about someone who chooses to carry a pistol on their belt, and as long as it isn’t concealed and they are in legal possession of the Photo by John Hammer Former Guilford County Republican Party Chairman Ernie Wittenborn (left) congratulates the new Guilford County Republican Party Chairman, Troy Lawson, on his election at the Guilford County Republican Party County Convention on Saturday at the Gate City Charter Academy in Greensboro. Lawson was elected at the convention by acclamation. pistol, it’s legal in North Carolina. The law in Texas used to be the opposite. Any legal gun owner could carry a concealed weapon but it was illegal to carry a gun openly. The theory in Texas was that carrying a gun openly was intimidating. 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. City Councilmember Tony Wilkins announced that he was running for a seat on the City Council this year at the Guilford County Republican Party County Convention on Saturday. Right now nobody really knows what the districts will be, so he didn’t say which seat. Under the current system, Wilkins could run for reelection in District 5, for an at-large seat or for mayor. If the new redistricting is upheld by the courts, Wilkins will be limited to running for election from his district or running for mayor. The new redistricting doesn’t have any at-large seats, and, until federal District Court Judge Catherine Eagles announces her decision in the lawsuit challenging those districts, nobody knows whether the city will have elections under the current system or the new eight-district system. We kinda, sorta got some free air time on Fox 8 recently. When Fox 8 anchor Neill McNeill gave the leadin for the Say Yes story, he used the headline from the front page of the Rhino Times, “Say Yes May Have to Say No,” almost word for word. Even though we broke the story about the financial difficulties of Say Yes to Education Guilford, McNeill didn’t give the Rhino Times credit. I’m sure it was simply an oversight on his part, but a shout-out would have been nice. When you win a big award year after year, it becomes kind of commonplace. The Greensboro Finance Department under Finance Director Rick Lusk has once again won the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. It’s admittedly not an Oscar, but it’s a pretty big deal in the world of government finance. The city has won the award every year since 1992, so it has a pretty good streak going. Congratulations to Rick Lusk, who also won an award for financial reporting achievement, which I suppose is like winning best picture and best director if you happen to be a finance director instead of a movie director. Back before I was forced to start attending school, my day always started by watching Captain Kangaroo. Or I thought my day should always start with Captain Kangaroo and was pretty upset on weekends when the show wasn’t on. So, with the magic of the internet, I watched a couple of episodes of Captain Kangaroo last week. I didn’t realize that the show ended with the Captain telling his audience not to forget to say their prayers. Can you imagine a network show with that kind of admonition today? The lawsuits would be instantaneous and no doubt Captain Kangaroo would end up in jail, even thought he didn’t advocate any particular religion.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 7 THE LITTLE TRAIN THAT COULDN’T MIGHT COULD FOR $62,000 BY SCOTT D. YOST 8 NO MEANS NO, BUT SOMETIMES SO DOES ‘SAY YES’ BY SCOTT D. YOST 10 TANGER CENTER HALF FULL OR EMPTY BY JOHN HAMMER 12 COUNTY GROOMING WORKFORCE FOR ATTRACTIVE SUITORS BY SCOTT D. YOST 15 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 17 REAL ESTATE 23 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 25 ASK CAROLYN BY CAROLYN WOODRUFF 35 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 16 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 21 THE SOUND OF THE BEEP 24 SUDOKU 26 PUZZLE ANSWERS 28 NEWS OF THE WEIRD 30 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Cover by Anthony Council PUBLISHER Roy Carroll EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL advertising consultants DONNA GOODWIN TYE SINGLETON 216 West Market Street, Greensboro NC 27401 P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro NC 27429 | (336) 763-4170 (336) 763-2585 fax | sales@rhinotimes.com | www.rhinotimes.com

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Benefiting Make-A-Wish ® Join us for the annual Kentucky Derby Classic presented by Ralph Lauren Saturday, May 6, 2017 | High Caliber Stables | Greensboro, NC The afternoon encompasses all things Kentucky Derby with traditional Mint Juleps, beer and wine, bourbon tastings, southern cuisine, live and silent auctions, a hat contest, and of course a live feed of the Kentucky Derby as the excitement happens at Churchill Downs. Most importantly, the Kentucky Derby Classic is an afternoon of charitable giving to fund the mission of Make-A-Wish ® . Purchase your tickets today at: KentuckyDerbyClassic.org

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 The Little Engine That Couldn’t Might Could For $62,000 by Scott D. Yost The sad Little Kiddie Train that Couldn’t that’s been stuck in a storage shed at Guilford County’s Northeast Park for over a year – and for almost all of its existence – may come chugging back to life if the Guilford County Board of Commissioners approves $62,000 in funds to fix the train at the Thursday, March 16 commissioners meeting. Over the last fi ve years, Guilford County has spent about a half-million dollars to get a working miniature passenger train as an attraction for children at Northeast Park, and there have been many attempts to repair it in the past. If the commissioners approve a new effort to get the train up and running, they will discover whether once again this is a case of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown – or whether it’s an instance where the old adage “The third time’s a charm” applies. Only, in this situation, it would be a little more like the 14th time’s a charm. Guilford County Facilities, Parks and Property Management Director Robert McNiece spoke at the Guilford County Parks and Recreation Commission meeting last month and asked for feedback on whether or not the county should repair the train. At that Tuesday, Feb. 14 meeting, McNiece said it would cost about $62,000 to get the train up and running: $47,000 for the train – mostly work on the axles – and $15,000 to repair the track. At that Valentine’s Day meeting, John Gladstone, an employee with the parks division of the county’s facilities department, spoke on the train, which facilities staff support repairing. After a lot of discussion, the Parks and Rec Commission voted to recommend fi xing the train and this week the commissioners will make the fi nal decision. The move doesn’t legally require a vote by the county commissioners; however, the train has become such a hot-potato matter that the staff decided it was wise to turn the item over to the Board of Commissioners. Northeast Park lies in Guilford County’s District 4, represented by Commissioner Alan Branson, who serves on the Parks and Recreation Commission. At that parks and rec meeting, Branson voted in favor of the recommendation to repair the train and the motion passed unanimously. However, the initiative might not have such an easy time of it when it comes before the Board of Commissioners. Branson will no doubt have some convincing to do. Commissioner Hank Henning, for one, said he wants to hear the discussion at the commissioners meeting before he makes up his mind, but he added that his fi rst inclination was to not go down that track again. County staff had initially put the train repair on the commissioners “consent agenda” – usually a list of routine housekeeping type matters that require little to no discussion. However, county commissioners realized this would be a controversial item, so they have now put it under “new business.” Several county offi cials say there are good arguments on both sides. On the one hand, there’s the question of “throwing good money after bad.” On the other, the county has invested six years and about $500,000 in getting a working train, so it’s tempting to take one more shot at making it operational for another $62,000. Guilford County has now consulted with some big guns when it comes to small trains – Tweetsie Railroad – and there’s optimism among the experts that the train can be saved. The motion presented to the commissioners will include some wiggle room since it asks the board to approve a project cost “not to exceed $68,000.” Information accompanying the motion that the commissioners will vote on reads: “The Northeast Park train requires repairs to the locomotive, cars and track system in order to be operable. It is a very attractive feature of the park and there have been numerous inquiries from citizens asking if it is in operation. Considerable effort has been expended diagnosing the problems with the train system, and experts from Burlington, NC, and Tweetsie Railroad were also consulted. A local vendor from Burlington, NC, who previously reconditioned the Burlington City Park train, has provided a proposal to perform all needed repairs on the train to get it back in operation. It will also be necessary to contract with another vendor to make needed repairs on the track. It is estimated to require approximately ninety days from contract award to complete the repairs with a total cost not to exceed $68,000 … [The] Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously recommended completion of this repair.” McNiece said this week that there were several things to consider. “We looked at ‘Do you fi x the train?’ We looked at ‘Do you replace it?’” he said, adding that staff also considered the consequences of giving up and getting rid of the train and the track. McNiece did not mention whether staff took into account the fact that the train is cursed. He said it would cost a good amount of money to tear up the tracks and he added that preliminary estimates are the train itself could only be sold “for scrap metal.” It’s hard to believe something the county paid $370,000 for six years ago would now only bring scrap metal prices. Perhaps they could sell it to some unsuspecting city or eBay buyer – there’s a sucker born every minute. Guilford County is likely to be able to secure a guarantee that the train will work for at least one year after the $47,000 repair is made. As it is now, the county has paid out about $500,000 for a month or so of operation. A less expensive plan might have been to provide all the kids who come to the park with Amtrak rides to Disneyland in California and give them a day pass. In 2011, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to purchase the amusement park ride that initially cost county taxpayers $370,000. The engine and cars cost about $170,000, while the track cost roughly $200,000. Back then, Guilford County held a competitive bid process and bought a new Katiland C.P. Huntington train – with the hope and expectation at the time of purchase that it would be operational in 2012. Now, in 2017, the ride is closed, as it has been for nearly all of the past six years. It was a very popular ride during the train’s brief life running in December 2015. When Northeast Park held a Festival of Lights celebration at that time, many kids rode the train and, along with the Christmas lights, it was the central attraction. It was up and running for the festival and for a matter of weeks after that, but then it broke down again and went back in the shed. Other than that time and a few others, however, the train has sat out in plain view, immobile, or in a shed, and has been on periodic practice runs while kids looked on longingly and wondered whether they would ever get to ride the train. This is one of a string of problems (continued on page 14)

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com No Means No, But Sometimes So Does ‘Say Yes’ by Scott D. Yost The huge financial fail of Say Yes Guilford – a program established to help Guilford County families pay college tuition for high school graduates – has sent a giant shockwave through the community and left confusion, questions, fingerpointing, potential lawsuits and hostility in its wake. The program was presented to the community in 2015 as a “winwin” initiative: an endowment-based scholarship program that would pay the “last dollars” of the cost of college after other fi nancial grants and loans were exhausted. But on Thursday, March 12, hours after the publication of a Rhino Times article on the large shortfall that would not allow the organization to continue operating as promised, Say Yes sent an email notifi cation to Guilford County school offi cials and posted a web announcement for disappointed parents and community contributors that stated that the Say Yes Guilford program was fi nancially unsustainable. By Thursday evening, Say Yes had posted an update on its web page and its Facebook page to that effect. “Say Yes Guilford is considering making changes to the requirements for scholarships to North Carolina public colleges and universities,” the statement read. The group had projected about $900,000 in payouts needed for the fi rst year of operation – the 2016- 2017 school year – but, instead, the actual cost of the fi rst year totaled $6.1 million, nearly seven times more than expected. That also meant that, instead of an expected needed endowment of $70 million, the program required about $550 million. So far, Say Yes has $42 million in pledges and commitments but only a part of that $42 million in hand. Say Yes will not say how much money it has in its possession and how much money has only been promised. Because of the giant shortfall, Say Yes announced it would be forced to make changes to the program and limit the scholarship offerings in some way. One way the program is expected to do that is by means testing families and offering the program only to needy ones rather than those at all income levels as was hyped for the last two years. “In communities that partner with Say Yes to Education, the independent local Scholarship Board approves the distribution of Say Yes scholarships, and conducts annual reviews of its policies and award formulas,” the Say Yes statement reads. “In carefully reviewing its scholarship model and policies, the Say Yes Guilford Scholarship Board is considering revisions to the income qualifications for the scholarships. While local and national leaders worked in good faith to create a scholarship program in the fall of 2015 that would be available to the class of 2016, the Scholarship Board’s review has determined that the current formulas for scholarship awards are not sustainable. The experience of our fi rst year in Guilford has far exceeded our expectations, as more than 2,000 recent Guilford County Schools graduates went off to colleges and other postsecondary programs with scholarships provided by, or arranged through, Say Yes Guilford. But to preserve the economic viability of the program, it is apparent that changes will be necessary.” Though some of the payments promised for students in the program for the 2017 spring semester have not been paid out yet, Say Yes state, “Payments for the spring semester are still being processed and students in the class of 2016 currently enrolled in college will continue to have their 2016-17 payments submitted. There will be no change in funding for this current school year.” It is good news for those families in the fi rst year of the program that they will at least get the funding they were expecting for the current year. However, with $5.2 million more costs than anticipated in the fi rst year, it’s not clear where that money is coming from. Say Yes has been very secretive about its fi nancial situation, and, presumably, most of the money donated to the nonprofi t organization is legally committed to funding the endowment and therefore can’t be used to pay costs for the fi rst-year of the program. Also, while the college freshmen enrolled in the Say Yes program will (continued on next page)

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    yes (continued from previous page) see aid from Say Yes for the 2017 spring semester, that may be the last money they see. The organization has announced that students will “not be grandfathered into” the program and details about how the coming changes to Say Yes will affect payment for current students are still being worked out. Many students are right now making their college decisions and financial arrangements for the 2017 school year or have made them already. The news of what will need to be radical changes to the program has left many parents and their kids who were counting on Say Yes very angry. Many students based their decision of where to attend college on the promise of Say Yes money for that institution. In some cases they chose higher-priced schools than they could have afforded without Say Yes funding, and they may have, for instance, chosen an in-state school largely or only because they had the promise that Say Yes would help cover the cost of their education while there. Some students are very upset because they gave up scholarships to out-of-state colleges to go to one of the in-state schools that has an agreement with Say Yes. If the parents and students in those situations had known the money wasn’t going to be available for the entire college career of that student, they might have chosen a different college. Also, in some cases, families who were planning to move to another county or state a year and a half ago have remained in Guilford County because of the promise of Say Yes money years down the line. In other cases, the highly touted Say Yes program was one of the main reasons families chose to move to Guilford County. As soon as Say Yes announced the changes, there was a string of angry posts on the Say Yes organization’s Facebook page, and most of those people clicked the “angry” emoji to accompany their post. A statement by Marian Steele was typical: “So basically it’s a BS program,” that post read. “It was one of the few ways my family could benefit as we earn too much for qualifying for need based financial aid yet we have nowhere near enough to pay out of pocket. Thanks a lot for nothing! And WHY is this not being loudly advertised www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 so that kids don’t have false hope?!?!? Super angry [about] this. If you are going to change the program you have the OBLIGATION to let people know!!!!!!!” Another expectant beneficiary of the program, Bonnie Thyer, posted, “Seniors needed to know this information last fall when applying to colleges! They have made decisions based on the promises of this program. For most it is too late to change or to apply to other colleges. Very disappointing!!” But it wasn’t just on Facebook where emotions ran high. One high-ranking Guilford County Schools official who asked not to be named said: “I am appalled that that organization would come in here and do that to our students. In the worst case, I would hope they could continue to fund the education of those in college now.” “How in the world could you miss it by that much?” the school official continued. “If I were a wealthy benefactor and you had come to me and said that that burden would be $500 million, I would say, ‘Forget it – you will never raise that much.” Among the many questions now filling the air are whether lawsuits might be filed by those affected families, as well as questions as to whether contributors who have promised money to Say Yes will be obligated to fulfill those pledges now that the program will be different from the one they initially agreed to fund. Say Yes currently has $42 million in pledges and commitments; however, that money was pledged to an organization committed to providing last-dollar funding to families of all income levels, and once Say Yes announces its new model at the end of the month, it will be a different program than the one that has secured the $42 million in commitments over the last two years. Paul Lessard, the founder and president of the High Point Community Foundation, said publicly this week that it is possible the new version of Say Yes will attract more money because of the change. Lessard said some people and businesses were reluctant to give money to a program that helped middle class and well off people. “I think we didn’t get some money because they saw the universality of it initially, so I’m very optimistic that I think this may bring in more gifts,” he said. Others, however, argue that many donors never would have given money in the first place if the actual numbers had been known, and now, of course, (continued on page 11)

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Tanger Center To Move Dirt in April by John Hammer Wednesday, March 15 it was announced that the groundbreaking for the Steven B. Tanger Center for the Performing Arts would be Wednesday, April 26. President of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro Walker Sanders said that he expected them to start moving dirt on April 27. So this is not a fake groundbreaking to buy time, but a real groundbreaking that marks the beginning of the construction phase of the project. Sanders said that the project was about three months behind schedule and that the permitting process had taken longer than anticipated. This is the same thing you hear from just about everyone involved in a major construction project in Greensboro. The City of Greensboro has, according to some developers, a permitting process that seems designed to discourage construction. HARDWOOD LAMINATE AREA RUGS What makes this entertaining is that the city’s own project has been caught in its own bureaucracy. At least it proves that no one gets special treatment. Sanders said part of the delay was because the building was so complex that what seemed to be a relatively small change would cause a ripple effect resulting in far more changes than anticipated. Carroll at Bellemeade, the $60 million hotel and apartment development currently being built on North Eugene Street, had the permits held up so long that city councilmembers had to get involved to get the project moving. The News & Record has run big stories about the delay in construction on the Tanger Center, implying that there were serious problems. It appears the News & Record folks have been reading and believing some bloggers in town who push the theory CARPET VINYL TILE 336-288-6643 336-288-6643 Mobile Showroom A + This sale can not be combined with any other offers. See store for details. Call Today & We’re On Our Way! Any Size Rooms! INCLUDES Installation! Pad! Moving Furniture! Take Up & Disposal! 1 Year Interest Free Financing! on approved credit Area’s Largest selection of Pet Friendly flooring 1yr INTEREST FREE financing on approved credit Greensboro • Wilmington • Myrtle Beach 336-288-6643 2837 Battleground Avenue, Greensboro • Mon-Fri 8am-6pm • Sat 10am-4pm that the entire Tanger Center project is some type of huge conspiracy – a conspiracy to do exactly what is a little sketchy, but evidently it’s bad. Even the announcement in the News & Record about the groundbreaking had a tone of disbelief and raised doubts about it being a real groundbreaking. It is true that the Tanger Center project, which was conceived in 2012, has not kept to the original timetable. But a lot of time was spent getting community input, and developing the financing strategy and governing model. Once that was done, another delay was caused by the fact that the donors – who have put up $38.5 million – didn’t think a $60 million building could be built for $40 million. Sanders said the donors didn’t want to compromise on quality and the city didn’t want to compromise on size. He said, “We reached a compromise where the city has the size it needs to have and we have maintained the quality that we need to have.” Sanders said, “It’s been a healthy partnership. But in any kind of partnership you’re going to have disagreements.” Sanders said that in December the goal was to have the groundbreaking by May, and it’s been moved up a month, which should be good news. He also said that the current goal was to open in the spring of 2019, and depending on delays during construction, such as bad weather, it looked like they were on schedule. Sanders said that the site work would be done while the state permitting process was taking place so that when the construction contracts were awarded the site would be ready for construction to start. It is interesting that, depending on how you look at it, the project is either three months behind schedule or two years behind schedule. When the whole idea for a downtown performing arts center was conceived in 2012, the talk had been of replacing the War Memorial Auditorium on the Greensboro Coliseum Complex despite the fact that two bond referendums to do that had failed. Robbie Perkins who was mayor at the time, suggested that the business community would be willing to pay the difference in the cost of building the new performing arts center if it were downtown instead of on land the city already owned at the Coliseum. At the time, the off-the-cuff estimate of what was needed to be raised was about $10 million. It turned out that a lot more than $10 million could be raised. Through the Greensboro Community Foundation more than $38.5 million has been raised. And because they are paying for half of the cost, those donors bought a seat at the table on planning the project. One holdup early on was that there were not the votes on the City Council to pay for the performing arts center with tax dollars. So the City Council came up with a plan to pay the city’s share, $39.6 million, with hotel-motel tax revenue and parking and ticket fees. So if it all works, the Tanger Center will be paid for with about half the money coming directly from donors and much of the rest coming from people who use the Tanger center in the form of parking fees and a ticket fee, with the remainder coming from people who visit the city, and none from city taxes. Coming up with the whole funding mechanism meant creating a partnership with competing interests. When the costs came in much higher than anticipated, the city wanted to reduce the quality of the building and the donors wanted keep the quality but reduce the seating capacity. It took a while to work that out so that each side was satisfied. Sanders said that he didn’t know of another 3,000-seat performing arts center with the flexibility that the Tanger Center will have. The City Council should finally realize that if the city can’t get its own projects approved in a timely manner, then the contractors and developers who have been complaining for years aren’t crying wolf, but have legitimate issues. The city employees who deal with permitting need an attitude adjustment and some simple changes could make a huge difference, but that is never going to happen unless the City Council gets involved and orders that changes be made. If the City Council doesn’t step in and establish a policy on permitting, the next big project that comes along will be delayed for months, not to anyone’s benefit but because the city has the power to do it.

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