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Rhino Times - 2017-04-06
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-04-06 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 14 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, April 6, 2017 HE’S BACK? plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE John Hammer Cooper Outfoxed on HB2

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com The Weekly Hammer THE WEEKLY Hammer Gov. Cooper by John Hammer The Republicans in Raleigh were celebrating after the House Bill 2 (HB2) repeal because they got a much better deal when Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 142 (HB142) than they thought possible. If you want to know who won that battle, just look at where the demonstrators were after the deal to repeal HB2 was announced. The protestors were in front of the governor’s mansion, not the legislative building. Nobody is going to go on the record about what happened behind the scenes – so don’t look for any quotes – but what happened was that North Outfoxed on HB2 Carolina’s President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Tim Moore gave Cooper a lesson in hardball politics. Cooper made an offer to Berger and Moore that Cooper didn’t think they would ever accept. Cooper’s plan was for the Republican leadership to reject the offer and then Cooper could talk about how he had made a great offer and the Republicans were intransigent. Berger and Moore, however, went to work lining up votes to accept Cooper’s offer, and last Tuesday, March 28, they held a press conference that was supposed to be to announce the issue had been settled. However, Cooper wasn’t prepared to accept his own offer and claimed he didn’t make it. One of the first rules of politics is that if you’re going to back out of a deal, make sure nothing is written down. At the press conference called to announce the deal, Berger held up and distributed copies of the proposal from Cooper’s office. The deal that Cooper’s attorney proposed was the one that was accepted. So Berger and Moore had Cooper backed into a corner. Cooper made the proposal and they accepted it and had the emails to prove it. After that press conference – which at the time seemed like a fiasco but was actually just some political theater – Cooper had to settle down and make a deal. Back in December, when a special session of the legislature was called to repeal HB2 and a six month moratorium was added to prevent cities from immediately passing a Charlotte-type ordinance, Cooper killed the deal. The Democrats in the state Senate said they didn’t have a problem with the repeal or the moratorium, but Cooper did and convinced all the Democrats in the Senate to vote against even the up-or-down vote on the straight repeal without the moratorium attached. So in December, Cooper was opposed to even a possibility of a moratorium, but after Berger and Moore called his bluff, Cooper agreed to a moratorium of almost four years. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) lobby – which had heavily supported Cooper in his race against former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory – are furious with Cooper for supposedly selling them out. HB2 was probably the deciding factor in the governor’s race, but not for the reason that most assume. HB2 allowed Cooper to raise money nationwide for his campaign that he would not have had access to if not for the HB2 issue. Because of HB2, Cooper was able to raise millions more for his campaign than McCrory and, in politics, usually the candidate with the most money wins. Now both the ACC and the NCAA have agreed to lift the boycott of North Carolina for championships. No word yet on whether Bruce Springsteen will agree to perform in Greensboro, but it seems the ACC and the NCAA are what really had North Carolinians upset. North Carolina is passionate about college basketball and the idea that Greensboro would never again host the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament turned some otherwise strong conservatives against HB2. They may be strong conservatives but they are rabid basketball fans. The bill that passed, HB142, passed with bipartisan support in both the state (continued on page 4) Council Gets a Win in Redistricting by John Hammer To no one’s surprise, federal District Court Judge Catherine Eagles ruled in favor of the City of Greensboro in its lawsuit against the Guilford County Board of Elections over the Greensboro redistricting law passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2015. This means that unless the legislature goes back and passes a new Greensboro redistricting bill that would meet the standards set by the court, which seems highly unlikely, the 2017 Greensboro City Council elections will be based on the same system it currently has, with three councilmembers elected at large, five councilmembers elected from districts and the mayor elected at large. Greensboro has spent over $250,000 on this lawsuit. It would have been a hard case for the city to lose because there was no opposition. The North Carolina attorney general – who at the time was Roy Cooper, now governor – declined to defend the state, even though it is the job of the attorney general to defend the state in court. The legislature could have intervened in the case but did not. At one point there was a group of citizens, led by former Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston and former City Councilmember and former state Rep. Earl Jones, that asked for and was granted permission to intervene on behalf of the state, but that group decided against pursuing the case. If Greensboro had lost it would be like if Gonzaga hadn’t bothered to put a team on the court and somehow Carolina had defeated themselves. The Guilford County Board of Elections was sued for a law passed by the North Carolina General Assembly, and despite the fact that both the legislature in Raleigh and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners have Republican majorities, the Board of Commissioners never admitted that they were being sued and evidently the legislature never asked for help. Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne attended the trial but he didn’t participate other than to say he didn’t think the Board of Elections should be the only party sued. It was a weird case all the way around. Leading questions, hearsay, opinions, irrelevant lines of questioning, all the things that attorneys usually object to in court were allowed. The ruling by Eagles is similar to the closing arguments made in the case, including some statements that while true are misleading. The opinion makes a point of the fact that the redistricting passed by the state placed Democratic councilmembers in the same district with other Democratic councilmembers, called “double bunking.” This is absolutely true. It is also nearly impossible to avoid. (continued on page 6)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3

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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer Editor Congratulations to the Carolina Tar Heels on winning the NCAA men’s basketball championship. It was an ugly game but Carolina played a great last minute. I do wish the referees had let the teams play. Maybe they would have found some rhythm and it would have been a better game. Then again, the right team won, so I think the refs did a great job. I’m a Dookie, but both my parents and two of my grandparents went to Carolina, so unlike some Duke fans I have no trouble pulling for Carolina as long as they’re not playing Duke. And even if you are an ABC (Anybody But Carolina) fan, you have to admit it’s good for the ACC to win another national championship. The News & Record reported that it reduced its workforce by 36 this HARDWOOD LAMINATE AREA RUGS week. I’ve heard nine people in the newsroom lost their jobs. The question people have been asking is, how long will it be before Warren Buffett decides that he doesn’t need separate newspapers in Winston- Salem and Greensboro and moves the operation to Winston-Salem. With these layoffs it appears sooner than most people thought. At the Tuesday night City Council meeting, the News & Record didn’t send a reporter and didn’t bother to write anything about the meeting in the Wednesday paper. This same paper, which apparently couldn’t afford to cover local government, could afford to have a reporter repeatedly contact numerous elected officials and ask them what they thought about Beyoncé and then gave that story the prime position in the paper, taking up about three-quarters of the front page. CARPET VINYL TILE 336-288-6643 336-288-6643 Any Size Rooms! Strange things are happening at Greensboro’s only daily newspaper. Perhaps they have moved so many people around to fill in the gaps and, not having enough people to cover both Beyoncé and the City Council, the editors chose Beyoncé. Street Level our column by a cop out on the streets is taking a well-deserved vacation. The column will be back in two weeks. Mayor Nancy Vaughan missed the City Council meeting on March 21, and on April 4 she missed the afternoon work session and participated in most of the evening meeting by phone. Vaughan said Wednesday that she was home but had been in the hospital for about a week with DKA, diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening disease. She said it was likely brought on by a virus and that she spent some time in intensive care. Vaughan said Wednesday that she is much better but still feels weak when she tries to do too much. But she said that she hopes to be at the next City Council meeting. With Mayor Vaughan out, Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson has had to take over at the last two meetings. After two meetings, Johnson said that she had no interest in being mayor again and would be glad when Vaughan was back. Johnson did say that she is planning to run for reelection to her at-large seat. Two years ago Johnson said she was running in her last City Council race, but Tuesday, Johnson said that she had changed her mind. Johnson said that she was healthy and she loves to serve. A lot of people talk about term limits, but the other side of that coin is that it is a great benefit to the city to have someone on the council who was first elected in 1993 and has seen it all. As I get older I find myself placing more importance on experience and less on youthful exuberance. The Rhino Times will hold its April Showers Schmoozefest on Thursday, April 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Blue Agave Mexican Bar & Grill at 3900 Battleground Ave. Those who sign in and wear a name tag are welcome to enjoy free hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine (while supplies last). (continued on page 48) Mobile Showroom A + This sale can not be combined with any other offers. See store for details. Call Today & We’re On Our Way! 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 hb2 (continued from page 2) House and Senate. The Republicans on the far right and the Democrats on the far left voted against it. The state would actually benefit if more bills passed with support from both parties, but don’t expect that to happen. What is far more likely to happen is for the Republicans to pass bills that Cooper vetoes and then the Republicans will override his veto. The really good news is that now that HB2 is off the table, the legislature can get down to more important issues then who goes in which bathroom. The HB2 repeal takes the state back to where it was before Charlotte passed an ordinance requiring gender-neutral bathrooms with statewide reach. Although the bathroom issue may be behind the state, the battle between cities and the state government is not likely to go away anytime soon, nor is the split in the state between rural and urban – which is becoming more divided. Despite the growth of Charlotte, Raleigh and other cities, the rural population is still larger in North Carolina than the urban population. It was one of the factors that made the repeal of HB2 difficult. Although it was a big issue in the major cities that were losing events and some new businesses, HB2 didn’t have much effect in rural areas, which made it difficult to get support from the elected officials representing those areas.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5 table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 7 HE’S BACK? SKIP ALSTON IN RUNNING FOR EX-COMMISSIONER TRAPP’S SEAT BY SCOTT D. YOST 8 SAY YES IF YOU MAKE LESS THAN $40,000 BY SCOTT D. YOST 10 CITY COUNCIL SHAKES THINGS UP: DECIDES TO DISCUSS TAXES, BONDS BY JOHN HAMMER 12 GUILFORD COUNTY FINALLY BAILS ON PROJECT HAYSTACK BY SCOTT D. YOST 42 13 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 19 39 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 51 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 35 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 37 THE SOUND OF THE BEEP 38 PUZZLE ANSWERS 44 NEWS OF THE WEIRD 45 SUDOKU 46 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Peripheral Neuropathy WARNING! Greensboro, NC – The most common method your doctor will recommend to treat your neuropathy is with prescription drugs that may temporarily reduce your symptoms. These drugs have names such as Gabapentin, Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Neurontin, and are primarily antidepressant or anti-seizure drugs. These drugs may cause you to feel uncomfortable and have a variety of harmful side effects. Figure 1: Notice the very small blood vessels surrounding each nerve. Peripheral neuropathy is a result of damage to the nerves often causing weakness, pain, numbness, tingling, and the most debilitating balance problems. This damage is commonly caused by a lack of blood flow to the nerves in the hands and feet which causes the nerves to begin to degenerate due to lack of nutrient flow. As you can see in Figure 2, as the blood vessels that surround the nerves become diseased they shrivel up which causes the nerves to not get the nutrients to continue to survive. When these nerves begin to “die” they cause you to have balance problems, pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and many additional symptoms. In order to effectively treat your neuropathy three factors must be determined. 1) What is the underlying cause? 2) How Much Nerve Damage Has Been Sustained. NOTE: Once you have sustained 85% nerve loss, there is likely nothing that we can do for you. 3) How much treatment will your condition require? The treatment that is provided at Advance Wellness has three main goals: 1) Increase blood flow 2) Stimulate small fiber nerves 3) Decrease brain-based pain The treatment to increase blood flow utilizes a specialized low level light therapy using light emitting diode technology. This technology was originally developed by NASA to assist in increasing blood flow. The low level light therapy is like watering a plant. The light therapy will allow the blood vessels to grow back around the peripheral nerves and provide them with the proper nutrients to heal and repair. It’s like adding water to a plant and seeing the roots grow deeper and deeper. Figure 3: The blood vessels will grow back around the nerves much like a plant’s roots grow when watered. Cover: Skip Alston. Photo by John Hammer EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD PUBLISHER Roy Carroll GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo 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 Figure 2: When these very small blood vessels become diseased they begin to shrivel up and the nerves begin to degenerate. The main problem is that your doctor has told you to just live with the problem or try the drugs which you don’t like taking because they make you feel uncomfortable. There is now a facility right here that offers you hope without taking those endless drugs with serious side effects. To learn more, attend the Peripheral Neuropathy Workshop. Details below. Have You Been Told You Have To “LIVE WITH THE PAIN?” Neuropathy Workshop Sat., April 22 nd 9:30 a.m. 515 College Road #11 Greensboro, NC 27410 FREE!! Refreshments provided. Call: (336) 316-0827 Call NOW! Seating is limited. Dr. Joe Draper, III, DC Advance Wellness is located near Guilford College.

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com redistricting (continued from page 2) The council currently has five members elected from districts and three elected at large. In effect you have three councilmembers who are currently double bunked. Since the at-large councilmembers were being eliminated, even if you didn’t draw new districts you’d have three districts with councilmembers doubled bunked in the current districts. At-large Councilmember Yvonne Johnson lives in District 2 along with District 2 Councilmember Jamal Fox. At-large Councilmembers Mike Barber and Marikay Abuzuaiter both live in District 4 along with District 4 Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann. So if the current districts were kept and the at-large councilmembers eliminated, you’d have councilmembers triple bunked in District 4 and double bunked in District 2. It’s a completely bogus argument to say that double bunking councilmembers somehow makes the new districts unconstitutional because it cannot reasonably be avoided. It is also noted in the opinion that At-large Councilmember Abuzuaiter was placed in a heavily Republican district that she could not win. In the last general election Abuzuaiter didn’t win her home precinct and only won two precincts in the citywide race. The fact that Abuzuaiter is not popular in her neighborhood can hardly be blamed on the Republican legislature. Abuzuaiter wins because she receives heavy support in east Greensboro, but she lives in northwest Greensboro. That makes it incredibly difficult to draw a district she could win, but the fact that she probably couldn’t win her district is one of the reasons the redistricting drawn by the state was declared unconstitutional. It was also noted that the lone Republican on the City Council, District 5 Councilmember Tony Wilkins, was drawn into a Republican area. Wilkins lives in a Republican district that has consistently elected Republicans to office. It might be possible to draw a Democratic district in that part of Greensboro, but it would not be simple and would no doubt be a really ugly looking district. It appears that because there was no one in court to challenge anything, everything said in court was accepted as absolutely factual. The “fact” that four out of eight districts leaned Republican was not based on voter registration because that likely would not have resulted in four Republican districts. It was based on the 2010 US Senate race between Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. If someone voted for Burr it was evidently assumed that they always voted Republican, as if there was no other possible reason that a person would vote for Burr. The fact that he was the incumbent, that he played football at Wake Forest or is a Methodist, none of those was considered. Also not considered was the fact that people, regardless of party or how they vote in other elections, might agree with some vote he made in Congress. The same goes for Marshall. The people who voted for Marshall, according to the reasoning that this decision was based on, could only have voted for her because she was a Democrat, not because she was a woman, had done a good job as secretary of state, they liked her name or she reminded them of someone they went to school with. The expert who testifi ed said that it was possible to draw four Republican districts if the districts were drawn completely at random, which seemed like it would have some signifi cance, but evidently it did not. Since Republicans drew the districts, the assumption was that the Republicans drew the districts to favor Republicans, and it seems like a pretty safe assumption. It seemed like a pretty flimsy argument to decide that the districts were unconstitutionally drawn based on how people voted in one statewide election where the voter turnout was signifi cantly higher than in a City Council election. The reason it is now considered unconstitutional to draw districts that favor one party is based on a federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. If that ruling stands, we are in for political chaos in this country because the vast majority of districts are drawn for the political advantage of the party drawing the districts. Currently in Congress, about 10 percent of the members are considered to be elected from competitive districts. So of the 435 seats, nearly 400 are either heavily Republican or heavily Democratic. Democratic legislatures draw as many Democratic districts as they can and Republican legislatures draw as many Republican districts as they can. It’s the reason in North Carolina we have 10 Republican congressmen and three Democrats. The legislature had to redraw the districts because the courts found racial gerrymandering, not political gerrymandering. If drawing districts to favor one party is now unconstitutional, most of the legislative districts in this country will have to be redrawn. It’s worth noting that when the Democrats controlled North Carolina and most of the legislatures in the country, drawing districts to give the Democrats a political advantage was considered legal. It’s only now that the Republicans control the legislature in North Carolina and most of the legislatures in the country that the liberal judges have decided that it is unconstitutional. Another aspect of the decision that just doesn’t seem to make sense is that the bill that eventually passed to redistrict Greensboro House Bill 263 didn’t pass the first time through the state House. If that is germane, does that mean that any bill that takes a tortuous path through the legislature is not valid? The legislature always seems to have a hard time passing the budget. Can someone challenge the state budget in court because it didn’t sail through both houses with signifi cant majorities the first time it was introduced? The idea that a bill is unconstitutional because it took some legislative muscle to pass it doesn’t appear to make any sense. But if it is not relevant why was it included in the opinion? It does make you wonder if the repeal of House Bill 2 (HB2) is legitimate since the repeal bills failed three times before fi nally passing last week. Perhaps the opponents of the HB2 repeal have a legitimate federal court case. One twist that is yet to be decided is whether Guilford County will have to pay the cost of the lawsuit. In a case such as this, if the plaintiffs win, they can request that the judge force the defendant to pay the legal costs of being sued. Eagles said she would hear the legal arguments on that issue at a later date, but it’s possible, and some say likely, that Guilford County could have to pay the bill for being sued. If the county is ordered to pay the legal costs, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners may wish they had put up more of a fi ght in the case, but it’s too late for that now.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 He’s Back? Skip Alston In Running For Ex-Commissioner Trapp’s Seat by Scott D. Yost District 8 Guilford County Commissioner Ray Trapp is stepping down from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and former Chairman of the Ray Trapp Skip Alston Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston may step in to fill Trapp’s seat. Trapp – a Democrat who was elected to the Board of Commissioners in November 2012 and who ran unopposed in 2016 – has taken a job as director of external affairs with NC A&T State University and his fi rst day on the job will be Thursday, April 6, which is also the day of the next Board of Commissioners meeting. In his new job with the university, Trapp will work to further A&T’s efforts with local, state and federal governments, which would create an obvious confl ict of interest with his duties as a county commissioner. Trapp was “hand-picked” to fi ll that District 8 seat fi ve years ago by Alston, who served for two decades on the board and was chairman fi ve times. Trapp said he’d like to see Alston fi ll his vacant seat. “Since we are going into budget time,” Trapp said, “I think we need someone with experience who can step in.” Trapp said he had spoken with Alston about Alston taking his place. The new commissioner must be a Democrat who lives in District 8 and Trapp said Alston, with his vast experience and knowledge of county government, was the obvious choice, and he expects Alston to be the choice of the local Democratic Party leaders. Alston said he was considering what to do. “I never say never,” Alston said of coming back to Guilford County government. If Alston does come back to the Board of Commissioners, it will be a new environment for him because this time he would be in the minority party on the board rather than in the majority party that often calls the shots. The Democrats held a majority on the Board of Commissioners from 1998 until 2012 and Alston is used to being part of the party in charge. Alston has plenty of experience working closely with Republicans, as he would have to do if he joins the current board. After the economic collapse of 2008, Alston was chairman for four years running and he served those years with a Republican vicechairman. Alston has said many times that he was proud of the way that, after the economic collapse, the Democrats on the board worked closely with the Republicans to keep costs down and prevent property tax increases in those lean years. Alston said that, with Trapp’s departure, the board was losing a great commissioner and a real champion for District 8. “Ray was my pick when I decided not to run and I wish he could have stayed longer on the board,” Alston said. “He has the qualities to be a great leader, not just at the county level but at the state and national level as well. I hope that at some point in the future he will run for office at a higher level. Trapp, who got his real estate license in 2009 and has been working for Allen Tate Realtors for the last year and a half, said he’ll greatly miss being a county commissioner, but he added that this new job opportunity was simply too good to pass up. Trapp said the job title at A&T – and at some other universities in the state – was recently changed from “director of government affairs” to “director of external affairs,” but he said that name change didn’t alter the fact that he would be working directly with governments, at times essentially as a lobbyist, so there was no way he could take the job and continue to serve as a county commissioner. “We tried to work it out,” Trapp said of both keeping his commissioners’ seat and taking the new job. “But there was just no way.” Trapp is also giving up his real estate practice. “This is 100 percent full time,” he said of the new job with the university. Trapp, one of the most dynamic, quotable and affable Guilford County commissioners, is also one of the board’s most left-leaning members. Since being elected, he has been a champion of liberal causes with an emphasis on social services, veterans’ affairs and mental health issues. Alston, who Trapp would like to see take his place, is also very liberal. If Alston is appointed to the new position, it would make an interesting dynamic to have the seasoned and at times feisty Alston on the same board with the relatively soft-spoken and less experienced Republican majority. In addition to serving on the Board of Commissioners, Trapp also serves on various other county boards that he will have to vacate. He’s a member of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee – and he previously served as chairman of that board. Trapp said it’s bittersweet leaving his commissioners job. “I loved it,” Trapp said of his four (continued on page 45)

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Say Yes If You Make Less Than $40,000 by Scott D. Yost Say Yes Guilford has been answering a lot of questions this week, but many people who previously expected to benefit from that program haven’t liked the answers they’ve been hearing. Say Yes Guilford Communications Director Donnie Turlington and Scholarship Board Chairman Chuck Cornelio were the bearers of bad news for many area families at a Thursday, March 30 press conference where the two presented the new criteria that limits which students will get aid from the highly touted scholarship program. When the Say Yes Guilford initiative was established in Guilford County two years ago, it promised to pay the “last dollar” education costs for families regardless of income level. That is, it would pay the tuition costs for students after all grants and loans were exhausted. The national Say Yes to Education program – started by billionaire George Weiss in Philadelphia to help 112 inner-city students pay for their college educations – now has chapters in three northeastern cities and in Guilford County, the program’s newest chapter. In its first year in effect, the 2016- 2017 school year, Say Yes Guilford projected that the Guilford County program would spend about $900,000. However, at the March 30 press conference, Cornelio announced the actual cost came to just under $6 million – which, he said, was the reason Say Yes Guilford was forced to cut back the scope of the program in Guilford County for the 2017-2018 school year. Before the press conference, the financial disparity for the program was widely reported, but what wasn’t known was the extent to which Say Yes Guilford would limit scholarships for Guilford County students. In the weeks leading up the press conference, Say Yes staff was crunching the numbers and exploring options, and, on March 30, the Say Yes Guilford Scholarship Board met at 2 p.m. at Advanced Home Care in High Point, where the group discussed two alternatives that were presented by staff. That private meeting was followed at 4:30 p.m. by a press conference at the Central Branch of the Greensboro Public Library after the Scholarship Board unanimously approved the new plan that Cornelio unveiled. Before the announcement, the question was whether Say Yes Guilford would limit its payouts by means testing the scholarships, increasing the requirement for years a student would have to be in Guilford County Schools or by limiting the amount paid. The answer, it turned out, was (D) All of the above. Cornelio announced a complex payout system depending on several factors, such as length of time in Guilford County Schools, family income and type of college attended. Here are some examples for students attending public colleges in North Carolina under the new more restrictive criteria. For the school year 2017-2018, students in families with an annual family income of $40,000 or less will receive 100 percent of the last-dollar tuition amounts, after financial aid – if those students have been enrolled in Guilford County Schools since the ninth grade. Those with an annual family income of between $40,001 and $75,000 will get up to $4,500 in Say Yes tuition assistance after other financial aid packages kick in – if those students have been enrolled in Guilford County Schools since the sixth grade. Eligible students with an annual family income of $75,001- $100,000 will get up to $2,250 in tuition assistance if they’ve been enrolled in Guilford County Schools since the fourth grade. Also, according to the new guidelines, any family with an annual income of more than $100,000 is no longer eligible for Say Yes tuition scholarship money. The program will no longer use a sliding scale for payouts. Turlington wrote in an email, “The new model is built on 100 percent eligibility if the student meets the requisite criteria for their family income bracket, so there’s no percentage scale any longer. Instead, there are enrollment criteria and scholarship caps attached to each income bracket. The higher the family income, the longer a student has to be continuously enrolled in GCS.” Turlington said after the meeting that Say Yes Guilford is confident that the math for the new payment model allows for a sustainable program. However, since the same group’s projections for this year were off by over 600 percent, it many be a while before many people have confidence in the new numbers. Say Yes Guilford states that the new numbers only apply for the upcoming school year and may change again in the following year. Cornelio said it’s possible Say Yes will adjust the program again in the future and the information released by the group states that the current policy may be in effect only for the 2017-2018 school year. Cornelio said that, to that end, the Say Yes Scholarship Board will review policies, models and funding levels each year. “If adjustments are needed, they will be announced to the classes,” he said. At the press conference, an apologetic Cornelio said Say Yes Guilford understood the anxiety surrounding the changes. He said (continued on next page)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 yes (continued from previous page) there was a profound understanding by the entire Scholarship Board that “many [Guilford County Schools] graduates and their families will have to identify new means to fund their college tuitions.” He added that the new structure was chosen to soften the impact on as many students as possible, “particularly on those who have limited resources for college.” “The board faced the reality that we can’t spend what we don’t have,” he told the dozen or so members of the media assembled in the Sternberger conference room of the Greensboro Central Library. Our challenge was, and continues to be, setting the stage for continued success in future years by seeking balance between expected program revenues and the annual payout for scholarships. The continued support we’re counting on from current and future donors will be needed for the revenue side of the equation, and the Scholarship Board will reevaluate the Say Yes scholarship eligibility policies every year to make sure the expenditure side of the balance is maintained.” Turlington and other Say Yes staff now have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks: Say Yes has scheduled 12 information sessions at libraries, churches and schools across Guilford County to answer questions regarding the new policy and to let people know which students are eligible and which ones are not. Now that the bad news is out, Say Yes officials are being much more open about other questions that have been flying around since early March when the public became aware there would be cuts in the program. For instance, Turlington confirmed that the national Say Yes to Education organization did kick in some money to help cover current scholarships recently, even though that wasn’t initially part of the plan. The group also released some information about those who benefited from the program in the 2016-2017 school year. Of 5,500 graduates of Guilford County Schools, 3,644 enrolled in colleges and universities. Of those, 2,493 received Say Yes money. A large majority of those – 2,045 – attended four-year public colleges and universities, while 448 attended two-year colleges. Of the “Say Yes scholars” – as the recipients are known – 131 attended private colleges and universities that participate in the program, and 28 of those students attended out-of-state private schools. Of the students receiving Say Yes benefits this school year, 55 percent were female and 45 percent male; 48 percent were white, 32 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic or Latino and 14 percent were “other” or didn’t specify a race. The most popular schools for those using the Say Yes program were, in order, Guilford Technical Community College, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Appalachian State University. The most popular private colleges for those benefiting from the Say Yes program were Greensboro College, Guilford College, High Point University, Bennett College and Salem College. At the press conference, Cornelio said the Scholarship Board had some tough choices to make but felt this was the right path forward. “This is a result we would have liked to have avoided,” he said, adding, “We are confident we arrived at the best possible solution to a situation where quite frankly there are no attractive alternatives.” He encouraged anyone with questions to visit the Say Yes website, Facebook page or to call or email with questions. He said Say Yes Guilford would need about $450 million to have a scholarship program that paid all last dollar tuition costs for everyone. That estimate was down about $100 million from the one Say Yes Guilford gave out a few weeks ago but it is still much higher than the $70 million mark Say Yes originally projected – a major mistake that is yet to be fully explained. Cornelio did give some additional (continued on page 11) RHINO TIMES BUSINESS AND SERVICE DIRECTORY For information to advertise in our Directory call (336) 763-4170 Reach over 50,000 in our Service Directory. Reserve your space by calling (336) 763-4170 or emailing sales@rhinotimes.com

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, April 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com City Council Shakes Things Up By Deciding To Discuss Taxes, Bonds by John Hammer Property tax increase or no property tax increase – the City Council will decide on Tuesday, April 18. At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 4, City Councilmember Justin Outling made a motion that the council hold a public hearing and decide on April 18 whether or not to raise taxes to pay for the bonds. The motion passed unanimously. This is a wide departure from the way this City Council has done business, which is to argue at great length about the little stuff and leave the big decisions like the budget, bonds and taxes up to staff. The City Council held a work session in the Plaza Level Conference Room beginning at 3:45 p.m. before the council meeting that was scheduled for 5:30, but started after 6 p.m. The work session was set up for the city staff to explain how the bond money would be spent. The city currently has bond money available from the 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2016 bond referendums. The 2006 bond money has to be spent this year because the authorization for bonds is limited to 10 years. What happened was unexpected. City Finance Director Rick Lusk said that simply to spend the 2006 and 2008 bond money would require a tax increase and more of a tax increase if some of the 2016 bonds were sold. The plan presented to the council was to allocate $50 million of the older bonds plus $30 million from the $126 million in 2016 bonds in 2017. Lusk said this would increase the debt service to the point where taxes would have to be raised in the 2017- 2018 fiscal year. Councilmember Mike Barber said, “In theory we could cut expenses drastically.” Outling said that he would like to see at least two budgets, one with a tax increase and one without. Outling suggested that the staff get a commitment from the council before going ahead with the budget, and that eventually led to his motion at the council meeting. At the work session, Councilmembers Outling, Barber and Tony Wilkins lined up against a tax increase and Councilmembers Sharon Hightower and Nancy Hoffmann expressed support for a tax increase. Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmember Jamal Fox were absent and the other councilmembers didn’t take a position. Fox has for the past few months talked about the need for the city to reduce spending. It appears that this year, unlike the other years since Vaughan has been mayor, the City Council is going to get involved in the budget process. Outling said that he didn’t see the point in the city manager developing a budget that was based on a tax increase if the City Council was opposed to a tax increase. On April 18, the City Council plans to hold a public hearing on a possible tax increase to pay for the bonds and then take a vote. It is likely the council will vote against a tax increase because this is an election year and politically it isn’t wise to vote for a tax increase in an election year. But the 2017 election is for four-year terms, and assuming most of this present council returns, it’s extremely likely that, not having to face the voters for four years, they will vote for a large tax increase next year. Greensboro currently has the highest property tax rate of any comparable city in the state, so a tax increase would put Greensboro at even more of a competitive disadvantage when recruiting industry. Bonds and taxes came up again at the City Council meeting in a different context – allocating $2 million in 2016 bond money for the completion of the Bryan Park soccer expansion. The City Council had originally approved the project in 2015 before the 2016 bond referendum was even considered. At the March 7 City Council work session, such support was expressed for the additional $2 million – which will take the complex from the current 18 fields to 20 fields and make it eligible to hold tournaments that are too large for an 18 field complex – that councilmembers asked if they could go ahead and approve the allocation in the work session. Votes can be taken in work session, but it is rare. After that was discouraged, councilmembers tried to get the item placed on the agenda of the regular council meeting that evening, but, since the resolution had not been written, the decision was made to vote on it at the March 22 council meeting. The vote at that meeting was continued largely because of confusion about an email asking that synthetic fields be lined for both soccer and lacrosse. Since the two fields at Bryan Park will be grass fields and not synthetic fields, the email didn’t apply to the Bryan Park soccer complex expansion. So the matter was once again before the City Council on April 4 and this time it met with opposition. Some of the opposition was difficult to understand. Hightower couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that (continued on page 43) After the City Council meeting Tuesday night had adjourned, two speakers from the floor pointed out they had been told they could speak at the end of the meeting. So Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson (center), who was sitting in for Mayor Nancy Vaughan, told them they could each have their three minutes at the podium. Councilmembers Tony Wilkins and Mike Barber (standing), who were on their way out the door, came back to listen but didn’t bother to sit down. The speakers said the same thing that numerous speakers before them had said about the Jose Charles situation. Why they waited to say what had repeatedly been said three hours earlier is a mystery. After listening to the speakers, the council re-adjourned the meeting.

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