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Rhino Times - 2017-11-2
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-11-02 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 44 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, November 2, 2017

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer The Weekly Hammer Make Your Vote Count By Voting by John Hammer Back in the summer it looked like this City Council election was going to be boring. A couple of names were popping up on the radar screen but nobody that sounded like they were going to mount much of a campaign. But that assessment turned out to be completely wrong. First of all, by the time filing was over, it seemed everybody in the city with a couple of extra dollars in their pocket had filed to run. The total was 38 candidates – the most ever. And then five dropped out before the primary. Why drop out? Your name is going to be on the ballot anyway. You might as well stay in there and see what happens. In the past, some candidates who refused to campaign have won because the voters didn’t know who they were but they knew they didn’t like that other guy. In the summer it looked like District 2 Councilmember Jamal Fox wouldn’t have any trouble getting reelected, but then love won out over political ambition and Fox decided to move to Portland, Oregon, and get married rather than stay in Greensboro and run for reelection. The City Council got to pick a replacement for Fox and chose former City Councilmember Goldie Wells, who had indicated she would finish out the term but not run for election. “Indicated” is the key word. Wells hadn’t made any promises, and once she received the appointment she filed as the incumbent to try and win back the seat she left in 2009, and it looks like she will. Up until Wells filed, it appeared former District 2 Councilmember Jim Kee would not have a hard time winning his old seat back, but Wells soundly defeated Kee in the primary and then Kee made a move that is hard to understand if he is trying to win the election – he switched parties. Kee became a Republican in a district that is only 8 percent Republican and 68 percent Democrat. No campaign advisor in his right mind would recommend a move like that, even though the race is nonpartisan. I believe the mayor’s race is also a first. At least as far I know this is the first time someone who doesn’t live in Greensboro is running for mayor of Greensboro. Diane Moffett is running against Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Moffett lives in Jamestown. She has a legal voting address in Greensboro, so it is perfectly legal for her to run, but she didn’t change her voting address until she filed to run for mayor. Even if she had moved to Greensboro six months earlier it would have been a stretch to run for mayor after six months in the city, but she didn’t. She changed her address at the last moment possible and people voted for her in the primary anyway. There are really only two competitive races on the ballot and next week we’ll find out how that affects voter turnout, because the only citywide competitive race is for the third seat in the at-large race between City Councilmember Mike Barber and Michelle Kennedy. And the only competitive district race is in District 5 where City Councilmember Tony Wilkins is being challenged by Tammi Thurm. Both are somewhat of a surprise. Barber is running for his fifth term on the City Council, and usually when someone has served that long they win reelection pretty easily. Open seats are where the close races usually emerge. But Barber only defeated Kennedy by six votes in the primary, so that race is up in the air. No doubt Barber will be a happy man (continued on page 18)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3

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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINO SHORTS by John Hammer They say that time fl ies when you’re having fun and I must be having a blast because I can’t believe it’s November. It seems like a few minutes ago it was May. Next week a new City Council will be elected and then I think the next day is Thanksgiving, Christmas, the next week and then its 2018. I remember when there were about fi ve years between the start of school and Christmas. Now it seems like at most a couple of weeks. The Muse was told that our local pharmacy is closing – the store that most people refer to as the Walgreens on the corner of Lawndale and Cornwallis. We call it Dru-Ace-Macy because at one time it was Drug Palace Pharmacy, and if the lights on all the letters were ever operating, it was on a day I wasn’t driving by. It seemed like the name changed daily as letters came on and off, but the one we liked the best was Dru-Ace-Macy, so that is what we have always called it. Although Rug-Lace- Harm ran a close second. Anyway, there are plenty of other drug stores around, which no doubt is why this one is closing, but it is always sad to see an old friend leave. Vaughan Leaves Day Job on Eve of Election table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 VAUGHAN LEAVES DAY JOB ON EVE OF ELECTION BY JOHN HAMMER 6 CITY COUNCIL ENDORSEMENTS BY JOHN HAMMER 8 COUNTY SAYS IT SHOULDN’T HAVE TO PAY $600K FOR CITY REDISTRICTING LAWSUIT BY SCOTT D. YOST 10 SAY YES CLEVELAND 2017: LOOKS A LOT LIKE SAY YES GUILFORD 2015 BY SCOTT D. YOST 15 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 21 CAROLINA J O U R N A L 41 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 55 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 RHINO SHORTS 18 SUDOKU 18, 50 PUZZLE ANSWERS 19 REAL ESTATE 37 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 38 NYT CROSSWORD 39 SOUND OF THE BEEP 46 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR by John Hammer The Guilford Green Foundation announced Tuesday, Oct. 31 that Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan would no longer be the Guilford Green executive director as of Wednesday, Nov. 1. It’s a little odd to announce one day that the executive director is leaving the next, but Vaughan said that she had actually stopped working full time about a month ago and the board had simply decided it was time to make the announcement. Vaughan said she had been asked to join the Guilford Green Foundation board as an indication that it was an amicable parting. Certainly, as director of the foundation, whether the announcement is made Oct. 31 or Nov. 8 doesn’t make much difference, but as a candidate for mayor it’s not necessarily the kind of announcement you want one week before the election. Vaughan was a somewhat controversial hire for Guilford Green, which raises money for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations and causes. Some in the LGBT community thought a member of that community should have the job and protested at a Greensboro City Council meeting after it had been announced that Vaughan was the new executive director in February 2016. Vaughan said she made the decision to leave because having two full-time jobs and trying to raise her daughter proved to be too much. She said that being mayor and executive director didn’t leave much time for family. She said the straw that broke the camel’s back was when her daughter Catherine had car trouble on the way to school and Vaughan was too busy to go help her. She said at that point she realized she was trying to do too much and needed to transition out of her job as executive director. Vaughan said she will get her real estate license in January and plans to work for her sister Amy Cook, who is a Realtor with Allen Tate Realtors. Vaughan said that job would allow her more fl exibility to spend time with her daughter, and her grandson, who she said she didn’t see nearly enough. 16 GCEDA AMAZON BID: PUTTING THE TRY IN TRIAD BY SCOTT D. YOST EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD 14 48 Cover by Anthony Council PUBLISHER Roy Carroll GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL advertising consultant DONNA GOODWIN 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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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Get Your City Council Endorsements Here by John Hammer The 2017 City Council election is historic even before the votes are counted because, for the first time, the mayor and Greensboro city councilmembers will be elected for four-year terms. The next City Council election will be in 2021. Early voting will continue until Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m., and the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7 will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. If you want to vote in an election where your vote really counts, this is a good one because voter turnout in the primary was about 8 percent, and people who claim to know such things are predicting between 15 percent and 20 percent for the general election. Each voter can vote for five candidates: one in their district, three at large and the mayor, who also runs at large. In the mayor’s race and the district City Council races, the candidate with the most votes wins. In the at-large City Council race, candidates with the top three vote totals all win. So the candidate who finishes third in the atlarge race wins and the candidate who finishes fourth loses. Although you can vote for three in the at-large race, you don’t have to vote for three. If there is one candidate you like a lot more than the other five, you can vote for one and statistically it should improve that candidate’s chances of winning. The Rhino Times is endorsing in every race and, for the first time in several years, we are not recommending that voters write-in the person of their choice in any races. Mayor Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan has served on the City Council for a total of 12 years – four as a district councilmember, four as an at-large councilmember and four as mayor. She is asking the voters to elect her for four more years as mayor and says she doesn’t plan to run for reelection. Vaughan is by far the best candidate in the race and the voters should give her four more years. This newspaper has been critical of Vaughan in the past two years, but overall she has done a good job as mayor. As she says, there are a lot of projects she would like to see completed, which means there are a lot of projects that she helped get started. One is the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts. Vaughan was instrumental in coming up with a financing plan for The Tanger that could get the support of the City Council. It is a project that will change the downtown. Vaughan is also responsible for straightening out the mess that Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) had become and turning it into an organization that is doing what it was always supposed to do – facilitate the development of the downtown. It used to be DGI talked about watering flowers and picking up trash, now the topics are new hotels, new parking decks and new office buildings. Vaughan was instrumental in putting together a bond package that the voters would approve and now that money needs to be spent. One of Vaughan’s biggest problems in the past two years has been allowing people to disrupt City Council meetings. But she listened to advice and started taking a firmer hand with people who had come to the meeting with the sole purpose of disrupting it. Some people have complained about Vaughan Nancy Vaughan joining a group and meeting with Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center every week. Vaughan said she tried that because she thought it might help end some of the divisiveness, and after a year, when it appeared to her not to have had any effect, she stopped attending the meetings. That seems to make a lot of sense. Vaughan’s opponent is first time candidate Diane Moffett. (continued on page 11)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com County Says It Shouldn’t Have to Pay $600K for City Redistricting Lawsuit by Scott D. Yost The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is attempting to collect more than $600,000 in legal fees from the Guilford County Board of Elections, but a new court filing from Guilford County in response to that suit argues that the lawsuit is completely baseless and it would be totally unjust for the Board of Elections to be forced to pay attorney’s fees for a 2015 redistricting case it wanted nothing to do with in the first place. Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne said that, in this case, the Board of Elections has just about the best defense anyone could ask for – the board wasn’t in any way responsible for the State of North Carolina’s redistricting of the City of Greensboro that brought about the initial suit for which the coalition is asking for a reimbursement of attorney’s fees. “To me, it’s manifestly obvious that it is not just to require an innocent party to pay for the sins of somebody else,” Payne said. Guilford County’s brief states that, in the current case, the Board of Elections is “faced with the almost unique circumstance where the Court and both parties have jointly acknowledged that Defendant GC BOE [Guilford County Board of Elections] violated no one’s civil rights, committed no unlawful acts, and, in fact, did not engage in any of the actions complained of in Plaintiffs’ Complaint and subsequent Amended Complaints.” The Southern Coalition’s suit against the Board of Elections calls for the board to pay the coalition $602,000 in legal fees and related costs that the coalition claims it incurred in the redistricting case that overturned the State of North Carolina’s redistricting of Greensboro. In that redistricting, which the coalition’s current lawsuit stems from, the state changed the number of Greensboro City Council districts from five to eight and eliminated the atlarge council seats – a change that, if implemented, would have made the Greensboro City Council similar to that of the City of Winston-Salem. Guilford County could have asked the state to step in and defend the lawsuit, but, instead, the county opted to mount no defense. In April 2017, in US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, District Court Judge Catherine Eagles found in favor of Greensboro and the coalition. Even though the real complaint was against the state, the coalition filed its suit against the Guilford County Board of Elections because that is the body that conducts and oversees elections in Guilford County. Four months ago, the coalition filed a new suit in an attempt to collect attorney’s fees the coalition incurred in that case. When the lawsuit to collect the fees from Guilford County was filed, some Guilford County commissioners were outraged. They called the suit “nuts” and “morally reprehensible” – however, soon the only important question will be what the court thinks about it. Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Education Alan Duncan, a high-profile Greensboro attorney, has been hired by Guilford County to aid in its defense. Duncan also signed the new court filing along with Payne. Payne said he believes the document lays out a highly compelling case of why the county shouldn’t have to pay the coalition’s costs. “The rule is the party that prevails in a civil rights case to protect citizens will get attorneys’ fees unless special (continued on next page) SAVVY SOCIAL SECURITY PLANNING What You Need to Know to Help Maximize Retirement Income Don’t Miss This VALUABLE WORKSHOP Presented by Jack Dubel, CFP ® , AIF ® Financial Advisor/Investment Managament Consultant YOU • When should I apply for Social Security? WANT • How much can I expect to receive? TO KNOW • How can I maximize my benefits? The decisions you make today can have a tremendous impact on the total amount of benefi ts you stand to receive over your lifetime. 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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 lawsuit (continued from previous page) circumstances would render such an award unjust,” the county attorney said, adding that, in this case, there are clearly special circumstances that make an award of fees unjust. The brief filed by Guilford County cites several cases where the courts have found special circumstances rendering an award of attorney’s fees unjust, and it states, “None of these cases present nearly as compelling a set of circumstances as the matter currently before this Court … Truly, if an award of attorney’s fees is not unjust in the current circumstance, then it can never be unjust and the often-cited exception to the statute is meaningless and the above cases are erroneous.” Payne’s written argument states that the county’s elections board played no role in any of the actions that the court found unlawful. One of the catchier lines in the brief states, “It cannot be said that Guilford County Board of Elections acted in good faith; it did not act at all.” The brief goes on to state, that if it’s ever possible to find special circumstances that make an award of attorney’s fees unjust, then “those circumstances certainly and unequivocally exist in this case. Where the courts have found a defendant to be innocent of any wrong-doing, they have consistently found that award of attorney’s fees to be unjust.” According to Payne, often the work of a lawyer has to do with statistical data or means he or she is dealing in legal minutia – but, in this case, he said, the question is about right and wrong, justice and injustice, and he said he believes, by that standard, it’s clearly wrong to make the Board of Elections pay the attorney’s fees. “I get to do something I don’t get to do very often as a lawyer – to talk about what’s just and unjust,” Payne said of the case he’s gearing up to argue in front of Eagles. The Southern Coalition was formed in 2007 with a stated mission of fighting against voter discrimination and other types of injustice. Southern Coalition for Social Justice Executive Director Anita Earls, who founded that organization, didn’t return calls from the Rhino Times this week. However, this summer when the coalition filed the case, Earls told the Rhino that the coalition does understand that the NC General Assembly was the party responsible for the redistricting, but she added that her group mounted a costly lawsuit that required attorneys and experts. She said that, legally, the proper place to seek reimbursement for those costs was from the defendant in that 2015 case – the Guilford County Board of Elections. On Friday, Oct. 27, Earls filed a response to Payne’s brief that claimed his filing “grossly misstates” aspects of the law and argues that “awards of fees and costs against neutral enforcement officials in redistricting cases are not unjust under federal precedent.” Earls offers instances where federal courts – ruling on somewhat similar redistricting cases – have found that it is just for the court to order compensation for attorney’s fees even in cases with a “neutral defendant” who’s actions were bound by law. Earls states some federal courts have found that it’s a greater injustice for an innocent party whose civil rights have been violated to be forced to bear the expense of the often costly litigation required to set things right. She cites a 1994 US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals case, Hastert v. Illinois State Board of Elections, which found that fee awards to plaintiffs in redistricting cases can be just, even if the body the fees are sought from did not play a role in the injustice. In that case, Earls wrote, “The Court went on to award fees against a state board of elections, finding that it was ‘of no consequence that the State Board of Elections played no active role in the proceedings and agreed to enforce whatever plan the district court adopted, since fees may be taxed even against entities whose role is limited to enforcement of regulations they played no role in promulgating.’” Earls wrote there would be a greater degree of unfairness in these instances “if a fee award were denied and the burden fell on the Individual Plaintiffs whose constitutional rights were violated.” In the brief, she also argues that not awarding fees in this case would constitute a deterrence for future injured parties who wished to fight for their civil rights. The very purpose of “fee-shifting statutes” in civil rights cases, Earls writes, is to “enable civil rights practitioners to make it economically feasible – as Congress hoped – to expend time and effort litigating civil rights claims.” Earls said the current case is an example of “responsible litigation brought by civil rights plaintiffs who because of fee-shifting statutes were able to retain counsel with specialized experience in voting rights litigation and successfully set new precedent in the Fourth Circuit.” Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Elections Kathryn Lindley (continued on page 18)

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, November 2, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Say Yes to Education Cleveland 2017 looks a lot like Say Yes to Education Guilford 2015 by Scott D. Yost Say Yes to Education in Guilford County had a very rocky 2017, but the program’s problems in Guilford County Schools haven’t dampened one iota the mass wave of enthusiasm accompanying the kickoff of a brand new Say Yes program 500 miles to the north – in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District in Ohio. Residents, educators and political leaders in Cleveland are – just like their Guilford County counterparts were two years ago – sky high over the rollout of the new Say Yes program. The celebratory events, ecstatic proclamations and abundant expressions of delight in Cleveland bear a remarkable similarity to the exuberance in Guilford County when the Say Yes Guilford program started with the official announcement two years ago. Since that confetti-laced kickoff on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 in the Ragsdale High School gymnasium packed with cheering students, a great deal of the enthusiasm for the program has evaporated in Guilford County. This spring, Say Yes Guilford officials announced that the program would have to go back on many of the promises it made to students and families who had tailored their educational careers and life choices around those promises. Say Yes stated that, due to a tremendous financial miscalculation, it could only provide college tuition aid to those from families in lower-income brackets rather than all students as initially promised. In recent media accounts in Cleveland, there’s been a lot of talk about the huge benefits of the program and the promise that it will help pay the college costs for families of all incomes. However, even with the celebration Affordable quality you can trust...for over 35 years Looking at Buying a Pre-Owned Car? Ask about our pre-purchase inspections! Synthetic Oil Change...$99 95 Includes up to 7 quarts Castrol Syntec 5w30, fi lter and labor Annual Brake Fluid Change..$99 95 Coolant Change...........$99 95 2629 Randleman Road | www.kormanautoworks.com 336.275.1494 over Say Yes coming to Cleveland, there is an awareness among some there of what happened here. And there’s an effort among some in that community to do everything possible to see that the program doesn’t get caught short of funding as it did in Guilford County. The Say Yes to Education program was founded by billionaire George Weiss 30 years ago in Philadelphia when Weiss promised to pay the college tuition costs of 112 inner-city sixth graders if they graduated from high school. Since then, Say Yes has expanded into other northeastern school systems in Syracuse, Buffalo and New York City as well as in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut. The programs take various forms but they all center on helping students afford a college education. The usual model calls for Say Yes to pay the “last dollar” tuition cost for all students – the portion of the college bill left after all other grants and loans are taken into account. Say Yes Guilford is for students attending selected participating colleges, including those in the University of North Carolina system. In other places, the selection of participating colleges is also limited. Despite an awareness of some in Cleveland of Guilford County’s plight, Cleveland’s Say Yes program is starting up with the same fanfare and balloons it did in Guilford County in 2015. In one story earlier this year, the Cleveland Plain Dealer even used a picture of cheering school kids from Guilford County. The caption read “Guilford County, N.C. – residents cheer the launch of Say Yes to Education in their community in 2015.” The headline for that Plain Dealer story was, “Cleveland schools edge closer to free college for every grad.” Like former Superintendent of Guilford County Schools Mo Green, top school officials in Cleveland are thrilled about the program. Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon gave his “State of the Schools” speech three weeks ago and he used the occasion to extol the promise of Say Yes and talk about how transformative it will be for the community. He said the program was a great fit for Cleveland. Gordon said that, with the help of Say Yes, school, political, faith and community leaders can “do together what no one can do alone.” He said the effects could be far reaching. “Getting schools right is, in the end, absolutely necessary for ensuring our city’s prosperity,” Gordon said. At online sites devoted to Cleveland news, there are naysayers who express general discontent and suspicions regarding Say Yes – though only rarely is there any mention of what happened in Guilford County. Most of the concerns are about this type of program in general, or about the effort to raise $100 million in that community. One poster wrote, in response to a Plain Dealer article on the prospects of Say Yes, “So how well has throwing tons of money at education done in Cleveland?” (continued on page 13)

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