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Rhino Times - 2017-10-12
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-10-12 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 41 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, October 12, 2017 Dems Win All City Council Primary Races Scott D. Yost High Point Trying to Get to Second Base with County plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer The Weekly Hammer by John Hammer The Greensboro City Council faced challengers from the left and the right in the primary on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Democracy Greensboro, one of the increasing number of organizations that have been spawned by Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center, developed a platform, held a candidates’ forum and ranked candidates. Two of the candidates who ran work for Nelson Johnson, but neither made it through the primary. The Guilford County Republican Party, which in the past has largely stayed out of City Council elections, tried to get involved. The GOP didn’t recruit candidates, but it worked for the candidates who filed to run who registered as Republicans, and that didn’t work out too well. District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, who has won in the past without much help from the Republican Party, is the only Republican who made it through the primary and will be on the ballot in November. Democracy Greensboro faired slightly better. In the at-large race, Primary Thoughts both David Wils, who participated in the Democracy Greensboro forum, and Michelle Kennedy, who received its highest ranking from Democracy Greensboro in the at-large race, finished in the top six. In the District 4 race, Gary Kenton, one of the founders of Democracy Greensboro, made it through the primary but, because the third candidate dropped out of the race, the primary was a formality. In District 2, C.J. Brinson, who works for Nelson Johnson, finished only 22 votes behind Jim Kee, but hundreds of votes behind Goldie Wells. So Brinson almost made it to the general election, but not quite. So for all of its time and effort, Democracy Greensboro didn’t have any big outright wins. If At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber can maintain his 6-vote lead and Wilkins can come back from an 80-point deficit, then you have the same City Council we have today. But it is just as likely that Barber will lose the 6-point lead if you look at the other candidates in the primary and divvy up their votes between the two. Barber would likely get the votes for Dan Jackson and James Ingram, about 4,200, but Kennedy would likely get the votes of Irving Allen, Lindy Perry-Garnette, Tijuana Hayes, Jodi Bennett-Bradshaw, and Sylvine Hill for about 6,000 votes. The votes from Andy Nelson and M.A. Bakie would probably split. But with that scenario, Barber starts out, not up 6, but down about 1,800. It’s going to be a really tough race for Barber to win, and Kennedy has already proven that she can raise money and make good use of it. By the same token, in the District 5 race, Wilkins should pick up the Tanner Lucas voters, and the Sal Leone votes should split. So you have essentially a tie starting out in the general election. But Tammi Thurm in the primary ran a winning race against a popular incumbent. Her supporters will be energized so there is a good chance Thurm will be able to do the same in the general election. If the votes fall so that Barber and Wilkins both are defeated in the general election, the City Council would lose its two most conservative members, replaced by Kennedy, who would be the most liberal member of an all-Democratic City Council, and Thurm, who would probably fit somewhere in the middle of the council on the liberal-conservative scale. However, Thurm did receive a perfect score at the Democracy Greensboro forum, so she may be more liberal than she would like people in District 5 to believe. That scenario, with two incumbents losing, would also mean that there would be no white males on a City Council made up of five white women, three black women and one black male, District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling, who with this setup would likely be the most conservative member of the City Council. It would completely change the dynamics of the City Council, making it far more liberal and less business friendly. Instead of having Wilkins and Barber constantly pushing against raising taxes and spending money on expensive social programs, you would have two councilmembers pushing to spend money on social programs – and that money has to come from somewhere. That council setup would make recruiting businesses to Greensboro – something the present City Council hasn’t done well – even more difficult, and doing business in Greensboro far more difficult. By endorsing and working for all six Republicans, regardless of their political stance or viability, the Republican Party may have shot itself in the foot and helped clear the path for a far more liberal City Council. If the Republican Party had stayed out of the race, it could not have done much worse. Endorsing candidates like Devin King in District 1, where King didn’t even fill out the required paperwork to legally run for office and didn’t campaign, doesn’t send a strong message. When M.A. Bakie filed to run, he was registered Democrat, but he switched over to the Republican Party during the primary season and got the full support of the Republican Party. Maybe Barber should consider doing the same in the general election. Then again, looking at how (continued on page 7)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3 table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 6 DEMS WIN ALL CITY COUNCIL PRIMARY RACES BY JOHN HAMMER 8 HIGH POINT TRYING TO GET TO SECOND BASE WITH COUNTY BY SCOTT D. YOST 10 LIKE DANGERFIELD, DHHS BOARD GETS NO RESPECT BY SCOTT D. YOST 13 ELECTED OFFICIALS LIKE NC-STYLE TAX REFORM FOR FEDS BY JOHN HAMMER 29 ASK CAROLYN BY CAROLYN WOODRUFF 39 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 17 REAL ESTATE 19 SUDOKU 22 NYT CROSSWORD 23 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 23 PUZZLE ANSWERS 25 SOUND OF THE BEEP 32 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 14 SOLVING THE MYSTERY OF THE GUILFORD CUP BY SCOTT D. YOST 15 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 27 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 12 Cover: Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann on their phones (from left) and Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter watching the returns come in at the Old Guilford County Court House on Tuesday night. Photo by John Hammer EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST PUBLISHER Roy Carroll GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL advertising consultant DONNA GOODWIN contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD 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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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer Tuesday night there was a goodsized crowd at the Old Guilford County Court House to watch the primary election returns come in, including seven of nine city councilmembers. Gathering at the courthouse for election returns is an old tradition and Guilford County is reportedly one of the few counties in the state where it is still alive. Not so very long ago, you had to be at the courthouse to get the latest returns, but today you can get real time election results on your phone wherever you happen to be. However, it’s a tradition I hope we keep alive in Guilford County because it is a great way to end a campaign season, with winning and losing factions in the same room. And although we live in a digital world, a handshake and congratulations is much more personal than a phone call or text. In my years in the newspaper business, I have been called a lot of names, many of which cannot be printed in a family newspaper. But I’ll have to say that Sunday was the first time I’ve been called a “noted liberal, hippie, beatnik,” and I kind of like it. Margaret Moffett of the News & Record gave me that label in the Inside Scoop column on Sunday when she wrote about attacks on me by the Chairman of the Guilford County Republican Party Troy Lawson because I endorsed Mayor Nancy Vaughan for mayor over Republican John Brown. At the Rhino Times, we like to endorse Republicans, but we endorse the person we believe is the best candidate in the race regardless of political affiliation. Over the course of a mayoral campaign lasting over a year, Brown has had a difficult time getting things right. The most glaring mistake of late was his statement that the City of Greensboro had purchased the News & Record building for $8.9 million. This is not a political opinion but an easily verifiable fact, and the fact is that it isn’t true. Because I pointed out errors like this and several others as a reason to support Vaughan over Brown, Lawson has labeled me as untrustworthy and liberal. Moffett did a great job writing about the squabble. Brown, by the way, finished third out of three in the mayor’s race and won’t be moving on to the general election in November. The Greensboro City Council is going to name part of Westover Terrace for Josephine Boyd (Bradley) who was the first black student to attend what was then Greensboro High School and is now Grimsley. (continued on next page) Photos by John Hammer Those attending the annual meeting of Downtown Greensboro Inc. on Thursday, Oct. 5, were greeted with an usual aerial display in the foyer before entering the large hall at the Cadillac Service Garage on East Market Street where the meeting was held.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 RHINOSHORTS (continued from previous page) Photo by Scott D. Yost The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has had a large number of guest speakers over the years, but it would be hard to find one more famous than the speaker they had last Thursday, Oct. 5. Former Greensboro City Councilmember and former state Rep. Earl Jones brought well known civil rights leader and former presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson to the meeting. Jackson spoke about the history of Greensboro as a leader in the civil rights movement. Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston had offered the invitation to Jackson to speak at the meeting. Boyd chose to transfer from Dudley High School to Grimsley. She wouldn’t be allowed to do that today because the current school board believes that it knows better than parents and students what school each and every student should attend. Back where Boyd singlehandedly integrated Grimsley, she and her parents got to make the choice on which school she would attend. Maybe the Guilford County Board of Education should give that some thought. When I pulled my News & Record out of the plastic bag last Sunday morning, I had a surprise: The New York Times was stuffed in the bag also. For about 20 years I regularly read the Sunday New York Times and quit when the Old Gray Lady decided that reporters could write anything they wanted about President Donald Trump, whether it was based on fact or not. But I have to admit, I do miss it. It may be a far left-wing liberal rag, but it is so well written. The writing is the reason I stuck with it long after the paper had moved way over in left field. The writing is still great and if they would hire a few conservative – not even conservative, how about moderate – editors, it could make a huge difference. What the place is in desperate need of is some diversity of opinion in the news division. Or else they should come clean and admit that the Gray Old Lady is a radical leftist and is not ashamed of it. But claiming to report the news when spreading liberal propaganda is too much.

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Dems Win All City Council Primary Races by John Hammer All nine members of the City Council made it through the primary, where a total of 38 names were on the ballot. Some said that the number of candidates who filed to run indicated that the people of Greensboro were not pleased with the current City Council, but that’s not the message that was sent by the 8.4 percent who voted in the primary. The only incumbent who didn’t win his race was District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, who finished 80 votes behind challenger Tammi Thurm in the four-way primary. Thurm finished the night with 1,066 votes for 46 percent. Wilkins had 986 for 43 percent. Perennial candidate Salvatore Leone had 169 for 7 percent and Tanner Lucas had 96 votes for 4 percent. Wilkins is the only Republican currently serving on the City Council, which made a challenge by Lucas, also a Republican, somewhat strange. Thurm, who is a Democrat, ran a well-funded, smart campaign and clearly connected with the voters in District 5. After all the precincts had reported, Wilkins said he had his work cut out for him. He said, “I hate being the only incumbent who didn’t win.” According to the latest campaign finance reports, Thurm had raised over $29,000 and Wilkins over $34,000. Both amounts are considered high for district City Council races, but, with the race so close, the folks in District 5 can expect to see a lot of campaigning in the next month. In the at-large race, the three incumbents – Councilmembers Yvonne Johnson, Marikay Abuzuaiter and Mike Barber – finished one, two and three, in the same order they did in 2015. But Barber who had 5,339 votes was only 6 votes ahead of Michelle Kennedy, who finished fourth with 5,333 votes; both had 11 percent. Dave Wils finished a little further back in fifth place with 3,750 votes for 8 percent and Guilford County Board of Education member and former District 1 City Councilmember T. Dianne Bellamy-Small finished sixth with 3,328 votes for 7 percent. Those six will be on the ballot for the general election on Nov. 7. Johnson was, as usual, way out in front with 10,616 votes for 22 percent and Abuzuaiter was comfortably in second place with 6,938 votes for 15 percent. First-time candidate Dan Jackson, who is a Republican, finished just out of the money in seventh place with 2,759 votes for 6 percent. The rest of the 15 running in the atlarge race, in the order they finished, were Irving David Allen, James Ingram, Lindy Perry-Garnette, M.A. Bakie, Tijuana B. Hayes, Jodi Bennett- Bradshaw, Andy Nelson and Sylvine Hill. Barber said, “I’m very happy to be in the top three. I believe my commitment to no tax increase over the next four years is important to the citizens of Greensboro as well as my strong commitment to public safety. Since I’m the only at-large candidate who has made a commitment to no tax increase, I hope the moderate and conservative voters who supported another candidate in the primary can support me in the general election.” Kennedy said, “Being only 6 votes back, I consider it a dead heat for third, and that says a lot.” She said that running in the general election with six candidates, instead of the 15 in the primary, would provide considerable variation in the election. Kennedy said, “We’re going to continue doing what we were doing, running a strong grassroots campaign.” It may be grassroots, but Kennedy was second only to Barber in the amount of money she has raised for the race; and despite what some people think, particularly if you are a challenger, you have to raise money to win. As of the last report, Barber had raised over $32,000 and Kennedy over $24,000. Wils said, “I do have some ground to make up.” He said he’d looked at some precinct totals and the precincts that he did worst in were ones where he hadn’t campaigned. He said he planned to get together with his campaign team and come up with a strategy to get to those precincts where he hadn’t campaigned in the primary. Being able to target precincts and knowing that your campaign is having an effect is good news for any candidate. Wils, who like Kennedy is a member of the Human Relations Commission, said that, win or lose, he plans to keep serving Greensboro. Johnson said she was pleased to once again be at the top of the list and added, “I just love people and I try to treat people like they are the wonderful human beings that they are.” Abuzuaiter said, “This means I still have to work hard and keep doing what I’ve been doing on council.” Jackson, who came close but didn’t quite make the cut, said he wouldn’t change anything about his campaign except the vote total. He said, “I’m proud and humbled by all the people that did vote for me.” He also said that, although he enjoyed the experience, he didn’t expect to ever run for office again. Mayor Nancy Vaughan, who was facing challengers from the left and the right, didn’t have any trouble beating both. She finished with 10,593 votes for 61 percent. Diane Moffett finished a distant second with 3,747 votes for 22 percent and Republican John Brown finished third with 2,909 votes for 17 percent. Vaughan and Moffett will run against each other in the general election, but coming back from a 39 percent deficit in the primary is going to be nearly impossible for Moffett, particularly Photo by John Hammer Councilmembers Goldie Wells, Sharon Hightower and Yvonne Johnson, Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter and Justin Outling (from left) at the Old Guilford County Court House Tuesday night to watch the election returns come in. considering that Vaughan is more likely to get the votes from third-place finisher Brown. When asked how she won by such a large margin in the primary, Vaughan said, “There are a lot of good things happening in the city.” She said, “I’m going to do more of what I’ve been doing because obviously it has worked to this point.” Vaughan is running for her third term, and in 2015, she was elected with 88 percent of the vote. She said the fact that she and most of the incumbents won by large margins against a host of challengers indicates, “The majority of the voters saw we were headed in the right direction.” In the district races, all the incumbents except Wilkins won by large margins, mainly against challenges from the left. District 1 Councilmember Sharon Hightower finished with 1,927 votes for 78 percent over Paula Ritter-Lipscomb who finished with 339 votes for 14 percent Republican Devin King, who received the support of the Guilford County Republican Party, finished with 114 votes for 5 percent. King has not filed any of the required campaign finance reports, has not returned calls during most of the campaign and was a no show at most campaign events. King ran for mayor against Vaughan in 2015 and received 11 percent of the vote. Charles Patton, who officially dropped out of the race but whose name was still on the ballot, received 82 votes for 3 percent. Hightower will face Ritter-Lipscomb in the general election. (continued on next page)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 dems (continued from previous page) District 2 City Councilmember Goldie Wells, who was appointed in July to fill the seat left vacant when Jamal Fox resigned to move to Portland, Oregon, won with 1,193 votes for 54 percent, but the really intriguing part of this race was for second place. As it stands, Wells will face former District 2 City Councilmember Jim Kee, who finished second with 456 votes for 21 percent. But Kee was just 22 votes ahead of C.J. Brinson who had 434 votes for 20 percent. With electronic voting, recounts don’t often result in much change, but in this case it is possible, but not likely, that Brinson could replace Kee in a recount. Felicia Angus, who dropped out, had 79 votes; and Tim Vincent, who also dropped out of the race, had 51 votes. Kee said, “It’s time for a full court press.” And if Kee is going to come back from the shellacking he took in the primary, it’s got to be a really effective full court press. District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling didn’t have any trouble winning his primary, finishing with 3,033 votes for 69 percent. He will face Craig Martin in November, who finished second with 956 votes for 22 percent. Antuan Marsh finished third with 259 votes for 6 percent. Payton McGarry, who dropped out but whose name was still on the ballot, received 144 votes for 3 percent. Outling is running for his second term and is the first Democrat to ever win the District 3 City Council seat. His challengers in the race were both from the left and the results are a clear indication that, while District 3 voters will vote for a Democrat, they don’t want a liberal Democrat representing them. District 4 City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann also had a challenger from the left and also won big. Hoffmann received 3,112 votes for 67 percent and will face Gary Kenton, who had 1,298 votes for 28 percent. Andrew Belford may or may not have dropped out of the race. Regardless of that, his name was on the ballot and he received 212 votes for 5 percent, so whether he dropped out before the primary or not, he is out of the race now. Hoffmann was clearly elated at the outcome of the primary and said she had been working hard for her constituents on the City Council and the vote indicated that she was doing what they wanted. The primary cut the field down from 38 names on the ballot to 18 for the general election, which will be far less confusing for everyone. City Council elections are nonpartisan, but this year the Republican Party chose to get involved and supported all six Republicans in the race. The only one to make it out of the primary was Wilkins. Judging from past elections, the voter turnout in the general election should be in the 15 percent to 20 percent range. It is incredible that, with all the complaints that are made about the City Council, the overwhelming majority of registered voters choose to let others decide who will lead the city. hammer (continued from page 2) the Republican candidates did in the primary, maybe that’s the last thing he should do. In District 5, the smart move for the Republican Party would have been to try and get Tanner Lucas to drop out, giving Wilkins a better shot at winning the primary. By supporting both Lucas, who did almost nothing in the way of campaigning, and Wilkins, who raised over $34,000 and has won the seat twice, the Republicans actually helped Thurm win the primary. And although candidates start from scratch in the general election, winning the primary has provided Thurm with a tremendous amount of momentum and a good narrative when she is out raising money. She proved Wilkins is vulnerable in District 5, which has been considered the lone bastion of conservatism in the city. The Republican Party wasted a lot of effort on promoting John Brown, who announced his candidacy in August 2016 and finished a distant third in the primary. If those efforts instead had gone to Dan Jackson and Wilkins, two more mainstream candidates, Jackson might have made it to the general election and Wilkins might have won his primary, setting up an entirely different scenario for the general election where Republicans would be in a position to gain a seat on the City Council, not lose the one seat they have. In the primary, the voters overall said they were happy with the City Council the way it is now, but the worry during the primary was that the City Council could take a sharp turn to the left and in the general election that may prove to be true. 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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com High Point Trying to Get to Second Base with County by Scott D. Yost High Point officials and business leaders who back a proposed baseball stadium and economic revitalization project in downtown High Point didn’t like it one bit last month when the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted 8 to 1 to delay a decision on whether Guilford County would help finance the $35-million stadium – and those same leaders have been getting even more frustrated in the three weeks following that vote as they now play the waiting game. Project proponents have been pleading with the Guilford County commissioners for nearly three months for the county to contribute about $11.1 million to build the stadium over the next 20 years – with the money coming from tax revenue brought about by an anticipated appreciation in property values in a 649-acre area around the stadium site. High Point has been very anxious to get started building the ballpark and, in fact, two recent High Point City Council votes moved the project forward by allocating funds for demolition of existing structures and the design of the stadium. The Guilford County commissioners say they’re considering High Point’s proposal for county funding, collecting information and vetting the plan, and they say that takes time to do it with care. The vote on Sept. 21 called for the Board of Commissioners to put off the decision for 60 to 90 days – with Commissioner Carlvena Foster, who is in favor of the funding, casting the only no vote – and it’s become pretty clear that the board is going to use most or all of that time to make a decision. At the Sept. 21 meeting, Commissioner Justin Conrad made a motion that the Board of Commissioners form a four-person committee to negotiate with High Point, and many High Point officials and others left the meeting that night with the impression the commissioners had done just that. In response, High Point immediately set up a committee consisting of four High Point city councilmembers to meet with the county’s committee. Only it turns out that Conrad’s proposal for the county to form a committee never ended up as part of the final motion passed by the board that night. Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller explained it in an email. “Our Board did not actually create any committee,” she wrote. “They discussed it but ended up not creating one. I think commissioners may be meeting individually with High Point folks.” High Point officials in the meantime were waiting eagerly for the county committee. On Monday, Oct. 2, a week and a half after the commissioners’ vote to delay a decision, Forward High Point Inc. Chairman Doyle Early sent an email to Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips. “Can you tell me when you are going to schedule the first meeting of the City and County Committees to discuss the Stadium financing issue?” the email asked. “Forward High Point, Inc. is obviously very interested in getting the dialog [sic] started in hopes of a possible compromise agreement as soon as possible.” The email also informed Phillips that the High Point committee had been formed and added, “I assume the county committee is set.” Leaders in High Point, who have been insisting the time-sensitive project move ahead as quickly as possible, were, to say the least, not thrilled by Phillips’ response. “There certainly may be further discussions by our board regarding the Catalyst Project in the months ahead,” Phillips wrote, “however, the date and time has yet to be determined. To my knowledge there has been no recent contact with any of the commissioners by High Point City Council members and/or the committee you are referring to. As such, I do not have a specific answer to your question at this time. “Our board will, however, continue to focus our efforts on critical county issues such as the possible expansion of the Guilford County Family Justice Center in High Point, significantly increasing the number of licensed foster care and adoption families for Guilford County children without a home, continuing our assessment of the utilization and growing maintenance needs of Guilford County Schools facilities, the limited water resource concerns of citizens in Northwest Guilford County, along with the design and construction of a new Guilford County Animal Shelter, to name a few. “Enjoy this beautiful fall weather and have a great week!” Business High Point Inc. Chairman Scott Tilley said he and others were very disappointed with Phillips’ response. “I don’t believe there is any interest in addressing it,” Tilley said. He said he was particularly frustrated with the commissioners who represent High Point. Like Foster, Commissioners Alan Perdue and Hank Henning have constituents in High Point. Commissioner Kay Cashion, the board’s at-large member, also represents people in High Point. “With the exception of Carlvena Foster, I am extremely disappointed in the lack of leadership and representation shown by the commissioners,” Tilley said. “I do not think the commissioners from High Point have represented us well.” He pointed out that High Point had put a committee together right after the Sept. 21 commissioners meeting to engage in talks, but it’s been three weeks since the Board of Commissioners vote and High Point leaders haven’t heard word one officially from the county and the county still has no committee in place to discuss the issue. Tilley said there’s a tremendous amount of support for the stadium project in High Point, yet the county commissioners, he said, have shown nothing but a willingness to delay. Some High Point officials say the strategy is to delay the issue to death. One said, “There are more ways to say no than saying no.” High Point leaders argue that the proposed downtown revitalization project has a great deal of support from citizens, has garnered $100 million in private development commitments and has the strong backing of business and political leaders across the county. They stress constantly that, under the proposal, Guilford County will only contribute money if the project is a success and property values in High Point’s downtown area increase from current levels. Many of the county commissioners say they understand that High Point has a desire to move the project along quickly but there are numerous issues to discuss: the type of financing the commissioners were asked to approve all along was changed just days before the board was asked to approve it; the numbers commissioners were given on the decline of property values in downtown High Point were incorrect; the commissioners were never consulted on which properties went into the 649- acre area or on other details of the plan before High Point put it together. Commissioners also complained they were given a “take it or leave it” deal with no room for negotiation. Commissioner Skip Alston said there’s been movement on the issue since Sept. 21. He said he still believes the Board of Commissioners can get to yes. “I think we need to get together first,” Alston said of the county commissioners. “We need to get together with staff and our attorney and manager.” Alston said he believes a majority of commissioners can get behind some sort of financial help for High Point’s baseball stadium project as long as High Point can get past the “all or nothing” attitude. Alston has had discussions with High Point Mayor Bill Bencini, and other commissioners have been talking (continued on next page)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 high point (continued from previous page) with some High Point leaders to see if a compromise can be reached. Foster said Guilford County has been moving too slow given that High Point must have the ballpark open by spring of 2019 to keep the team it has secured. “We haven’t established a committee,” Foster said. She said there had been talk that she, Alston, Phillips and Henning might be on a county committee but so far no county committee is in place. Committees of the board are usually appointed by the chairman and are subject to the open meetings law, which means all of those meetings would be open to the public and the media. “I think that is not a priority on Jeff’s list at this point,” Foster said. Several commissioners said High Point hasn’t seemed willing to compromise in any way, but Foster said the city is now clearly ready to talk. “I think they are open to negotiation,” Foster said. “My confidence level is that it’s going to be a hard sell. I can only be hopeful.” She said the outcome of those talks may be very different than the financing plan High Point first proposed. She added that she feels as though the project will get done eventually, with or without financial help from Guilford County. Henning said there’s been a lot of talk among various actors, but the key decision makers haven’t gotten together. “We’ve never had a sit-down conversation with the [High Point] City Council,” Henning said. He said one problem is that the county commissioners have been getting mixed messages from High Point leaders. “We were told it was not negotiable and told simultaneously, ‘We’re going to do it on our own,’” he said. Henning said High Point stadium backers have stated no new taxes will be used to pay for the project, but he added that no one has said how the loan will be paid back if the anticipated revenue streams don’t materialize. He said that, given the large up-front financial commitment from the city, he wants to know how the loan will be paid off if fans don’t show up and property values don’t increase. Henning said it makes sense for High Point to have a plan in writing that explains how the project will be paid for in that scenario – especially given High Point’s stated commitment not to raise taxes for that purpose. After the Sept. 21 vote, High Point leaders assigned staff the duty of finding alternative financing plans but they say they still want Guilford County to help fund the project. High Point officials constantly contend that this decision is a “nobrainer,” but Henning said there is in fact a great deal to think about. He said project proponents haven’t even considered a possibility it may fail to bring the expected development and he questions the impact on High Point taxpayers if it doesn’t. He said there have been promises of some development – such as an apartment complex and a hotel – but there’s no assurance property values across the entire 649-acre district will increase to the levels High Point is projecting. Henning also said commissioners had floated to High Point officials an idea for private investors to guarantee the stadium loan, but that hadn’t gotten any traction among proponents. “If there is a willingness to do that, then it’s a whole different ball game,” Henning said. Commissioner Alan Branson said that rush to open the stadium in May 2019 was very ambitious given that, in any major construction project, all sorts of surprises can come up. He said there could be environmental issues and he said the county had seen some unexpected problems when conducting paving and construction in downtown High Point on county property. “Hell, you might have a damn minefield out there, who knows?” Branson said. Branson said it could be “after the election” – speaking of the election in November that will include High Point City Council races – before any decision is made by Guilford County. “We will move at a snail’s pace; they want to move at a rabbits pace,” he added. Branson also said, “We’ve been told either we’re all in or nothing – that message has been sent pretty loud and clear.” He said he has no problems with the project and hopes it’s a major success, but he added that commissioners need to vet the plan carefully before they commit county funds for the next two decades. Project backers were hoping to get approval in early October from the Local Government Commission, a state oversight committee that vets large loans and other debt obligations of local governments. Now High Point officials are hoping to clear that hurdle in December.

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, October 12, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Like Dangerfield, DHHS Board Gets No Respect by Scott D. Yost Most people know about “the man without a country,” but few people know about the board without a county. Technically, the Guilford County Health and Human Services Advisory Board is a part of Guilford County government; however, three years into the existence of the board, it’s getting zero respect. The board is packed with prominent medical professionals as well as those with a great deal of social service experience – such as former Guilford County Commissioner Mary Rakestraw, who was on the Guilford County Board of Social Services for nine years – are all eager to contribute their expertise to county government. But a number of factors and events have severely marginalized that board and caused it to be almost entirely forgotten. At the advisory board’s Sept. 27 meeting, board members attempted to find a path to relevance and they also discussed ways to get the board back on the county’s radar. Health and Human Services Advisory Board Chairman Jean Douglas said at that meeting, “I think we need to be known in this county; it needs to be known that we exist.” When the Guilford County Board of Commissioners merged the county’s Department of Social Services with the Department of Public Health three years ago, the commissioners did away with both the Board of Social Services and the Board of Health and took direct control of the two departments, which were consolidated into the new Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Former DHHS Director Joe Raymond, the second most powerful administrator in Guilford County government when he held that position, attended DHHS board meetings and acted as a frequent line of communication between the commissioners and the DHHS board. But, in July 2015, Raymond resigned from his $160,000-a-year job with Guilford County – after holding it for one year – to take an even higher paying job with a think tank near Washington, DC. After Raymond left, no one seemed to miss having a high-paid DHHS director, and no doubt Guilford County Health Director Merle Green and Social Services Director Heather Skeens are still pleased as punch not to have any administrator over them other than Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing, who took over some of Raymond’s duties. Leaving that job vacant is one of the smartest cost saving moves the Board of Commissioners has ever made, but one thing Raymond did do was meet with the advisory board and convey their ideas to the commissioners. However, since he left there’s been no line of communication with the Board of Commissioners. The DHHS board eventually went from monthly meetings to quarterly meetings and, for the last two years, basically has been forgotten about. As evidence of that, consider the following … • The Guilford County clerk to the board’s office – the central depository of all county board meeting information – when asked the time and place of the advisory board meeting, had no idea about the time or location. (It turns out the meeting was at the county’s human services building on Maple Street in Greensboro on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 4:30 p.m. – a highly unusual start time for any county board meeting.) • Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, the Board of Commissioners’ liaison to the advisory board, showed up an hour and 10 minutes late for the Sept. 27 meeting – just as it was wrapping up. Alston stated he was unaware the meeting started at 4:30 p.m. He said he knew he would be 10 minutes late but had no idea he’d be an hour and 10 minutes late. • Even though the board meets only four times a year, it has a hard time getting a quorum at those meetings. A “quorum” is a minimum number of board members needed to be present for a board to hold an official meeting and take action as a board. • No one seems sure who is on the committee or what exactly is the number of members required for a quorum. The county’s website states there are currently no vacancies and there are six members of the board. Ten members showed up for the Sept. 27 meeting and there are 16 names of board members listed on a member sign-in sheet that was brought to the meeting. • The DHHS board asked for time to speak at the county commissioners retreat in February 2017 but wasn’t granted that request. At the Sept. 27 advisory board meeting, Douglas and other members spoke on the need for the board to get its house in order and make itself known to both county residents and the county commissioners. She said the board wants a presence on the county’s web page. “We would like a public face on the county website,” she said, adding that she was “passionate” about the advisory board gaining more relevance and having more exposure. The DHHS Advisory Board did take some actions at the Sept. 27 meeting. At the start of the meeting the group apparently did not have enough members for a quorum; however, as more people arrived, it was decided that by the end of the meeting they did. At the meeting, the board approved the minutes of its March and June meetings, heard a report on the health department’s five-point action plan to improve public health, and it voted to make recommendations to the Board of Commissioners for that board to make to state legislators regarding rabies, lead posing and sewage legislation. However, at the meeting, much of the discussion was about the purpose of the DHHS board itself and how Photo by Scott D. Yost Health and Human Services Advisory Board members County Commissioner Skip Alston, former County Commissioner Mary Rakestraw and the children of newly appointed advisory board member Pamela Green after a recent board meeting it should proceed. By law, Guilford County must have a DHHS Advisory Board, but beyond that, not much is clear at this point. DHHS Advisory Board Member Robin Lane stated that one key need was to determine how many members were on the board and how many constituted a quorum. “For me, I’ve never understood clearly what a quorum was because we have members who are not in good standing,” she said. “Are they counted as absent or is the count reduced?” Lane said the rules state that members who fail to attend at least 75 percent of the meetings shall be removed. “I would like to point out that our commissioner liaison has not been present for the last three meetings,” she said, adding that she hated to put that out publicly. When asked who that was, she said it was Commissioner Alston, and she pointed to his empty seat. Alston was (continued on next page)

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