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Rhino Times - 2017-07-06
Magazines / Newspapers | Government 2017-07-06 00:00:00
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    Vol. V No. 27 Greensboro, North Carolina www.rhinotimes.com Thursday, July 6, 2017 Search for Architect Locks Up Jail Renovation John Hammer Wades Newspaper Bill Causing Press to Howl plus Under The Hammer, Uncle Orson Reviews Everything AND MORE

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    2 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer The Weekly Hammer Wade’s Newspaper by John Hammer Paid circulation newspapers and their highly paid lobbyists are wailing and gnashing their teeth over the passage of a bill sponsored by state Sen. Trudy Wade that primarily does two things concerning newspapers. One, it removes a state statute for newspapers that decreed that people who deliver newspapers are not employees. Newspapers have a special exemption to the laws governing employees passed for their exclusive benefit and to the detriment of newspaper carriers. It prevents newspaper carriers from receiving the protections and benefits of employees, such as insurance and retirement plans. It also means that newspaper carriers don’t get half of their Social Security and Medicare tax paid for them by their employer but have to pay the full amount themselves as independent contractors. And it means that the newspapers don’t have to pay unemployment taxes Bill Causing Press to Howl on the newspaper carriers, so newspaper carriers, defined by law as independent contractors, cannot collect unemployment if they lost their jobs. In short, it is a great deal for newspapers and a bad deal for newspaper carriers. The bill, HB205, was passed by the legislature last week, but has not yet been signed into law by the governor, and some expect the governor will veto the bill. When newspapers were delivered by boys on bicycles, the special exemption may have made sense. But times have changed. Very few newspapers are delivered by boys on bicycles. They are delivered by men and women in cars who have far bigger routes than the newspaper boys ever had; and carriers don’t collect the subscription money anymore, that is mainly done by the newspaper. But newspapers want to keep their exemption from the employment laws that apply to every other business because it saves newspapers a lot of money. Wade said that she sponsored the legislation in part because of a series that ran in the Raleigh News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer on construction companies improperly classifying workers as independent contractors when they should have been classified as employees. The series was critical of this abuse of workers in the construction industry, but the same newspapers don’t feel the same way about their own industry. It appears to be a bad case of hypocrisy. While newspapers have in fact been obeying the law, it’s only because the newspaper lobby was strong enough to get a special law passed through the Democratic legislature 20 years ago that exempted newspapers, and only newspapers, from being required to comply with the laws governing employees. Because, well, because newspapers think they deserve special treatment and in the past the Democratic legislature was more than willing to give the newspapers, which routinely endorsed Democrats, that special treatment. Now with Republicans in control of the legislature, and mainstream newspapers continuing their liberal ways, it should be a new day in Raleigh, but the newspaper lobby is still immensely powerful. If HB205 is signed into law, newspapers will be treated like every other business – something newspapers and their lobbyists say is unfair. It’s also worth noting that these same newspapers are highly critical of the powerful lobbyists for other industries, but as far as their own powerful lobbyists, well, they think they are just fine. In addition, HB205 has a pilot program for Guilford County that would remove the state-mandated monopoly for paid circulation newspapers on legally required advertising, whether it is placed by the government or by an attorney. This bill removes that statemandated monopoly for legally required advertising in Guilford County and would allow governments and attorneys to place the ads on the Guilford County website. The law doesn’t require advertising on the Guilford County website but allows that option if Guilford County chooses to put the infrastructure in place to accept the advertising. It provides some competition for the advertising, something that is generally believed to be good, and results in lower prices, which is one reason monopolies are for the most part illegal. Guilford County will charge a fee of $10 for other governments, such as Greensboro, who choose to place legally required advertising for public hearings, zoning and economic development and other matters on its website. For legal advertising, such as foreclosures, the fee is set at $450, and other legally required advertising other than by the government the fee is $100. Greensboro could meet the legal requirement for advertising by placing an ad in the News & Record if it chose. Attorneys would have the (continued on page 4)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 3 table of CONTENTS 2 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 4 WEEKLY HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 7 TWO CITY COUNCIL INCUMBENTS REVEAL PLANS TO RUN AGAIN BY JOHN HAMMER 10 SEARCH FOR MWBE ARCHITECT LOCKS UP COUNTY JAIL RENOVATION BY SCOTT D. YOST 12 RHINO’S SCHOOL SALARY LIST LEADS TO JEWELL OF A DEBATE OVER CONFLICT OF INTEREST BY SCOTT D. YOST 14 THREE COMMISSIONERS FLY TO COLUMBUS FOR CANNABIS ROUND TABLE BY SCOTT D. YOST 15 UNCLE ORSON BY ORSON SCOTT CARD 39 YOST COLUMN BY SCOTT D. YOST 19 CAROLINA J O U R N A L 41 ASK CAROLYN BY CAROLYN WOODRUFF 51 UNDER THE HAMMER BY JOHN HAMMER 6 RHINO SHORTS 17 REAL ESTATE 18 NYT CROSSWORD 35 SUDOKU 35 CHILDREN’S SCHEDULE 37 SOUND OF THE BEEP 42 NEWS OF THE WEIRD 42, 44 PUZZLE ANSWERS 44 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR HARDWOOD LAMINATE AREA RUGS CARPET VINYL TILE 336-288-6643 336-288-6643 Any Size Rooms! Cover: “Redneck Hot Tub” fl oat at the Kirkwood July 4th Parade. Photo by John Hammer. More Fourth of July photos on pages 8, 9 and 46 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF John Hammer PUBLISHER Roy Carroll GENERAL MANAGER Joann Zollo INCLUDES Installation! Pad! Moving Furniture! Take Up & Disposal! managing editor ELAINE HAMMER county editor SCOTT D. YOST contributing editor ORSON SCOTT CARD creative director ANTHONY COUNCIL advertising consultants 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 Mobile Showroom A + This sale can not be combined with any other offers. See store for details. Call Today & We’re On Our Way! 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

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    4 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com THE WEEKLY Hammer The Weekly Hammer Audacious Council by John Hammer Last year the Greensboro City Council gave itself a 60 percent raise. The average city worker got a 3 percent raise. So the City Council gave itself a raise 20 times greater than it gave city employees. Evidently that was not enough and, at the June 20 City Council meeting, the City Council voted to petition the state legislature for a special law to allow councilmembers to stay on the city health insurance policy after they are out of office. In some cases the former councilmember would have to pay for their own insurance, but with enough years under their belt, the taxpayers would foot the bill for their health insurance until Wants Health Care for Life the councilmember qualified for Medicare, and then the city would foot the bill for supplemental insurance as it does for other employees. You either have to laugh or cry at the audacity of the City Council. The current City Council meets less than past City Councils. It also does far less. There was a time, when the City Council was involved in the budget process, that two-day meetings were held to go over City Council priorities and the direction they wanted the city to take, and even mundane items like fund balances, tax rates and bond expenditures were discussed. This council held a shortened halfday meeting on the budget, and the “detailed directions” to City Manager Jim Westmoreland were to not raise taxes above 63.25 cents and to give the police a raise. Most of the $534 million budget was left to the discretion of Westmoreland and his staff. Without City Councilmember Sharon Hightower, the business part of City Council meetings would last about 20 minutes. Just long enough to read the motions and vote. This council doesn’t even want to see the presentations from staff so they know what they are voting on. If it is recommended by staff, that is good enough for them. At times staff will insist on giving a short presentation. It seems city staff is more concerned with the City Council being informed about what they are doing than the members of the City Council are. Hightower mainly asks about how much money is going to black contractors. There is absolutely no concern for cost or quality of work, Hightower’s concern is the race of the contractor and she doesn’t care whether the contractor actually has a construction company or if what the licensed contractor has is a cell phone used to hire sub-contractors to do the work. There is a whole cottage industry now made up of black men and women who are licensed contractors, but they don’t do any more than sign forms and hire subcontractors. What the general contractor needs are black subcontractors to meet what are called Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) goals. Hightower and others see these goals as quotas of black sub-contractors on the job and these black subcontractors are happy to help out. It’s a racket, not that there aren’t plenty of other rackets that have grown up around the way that the government insists that work be done, but just because there are others doesn’t make this any better. But other than Hightower’s interest in the MWBE program, this City Council shows very little interest in the business of the city. And now, as a benefit for their “hard work,” the City Council wants free health insurance for life. The good news is that it was too late for the bill requested by the City Council to be passed by the General Assembly this term, which adjourned last week. In typical City Council fashion, nobody thought about it until the term was days from ending. But even so, the City Council jumped at this one trying to get its bill through in the last days of the legislature. No doubt it will be at the top of the list of the City Council legislative agenda for the short session of the legislature next year. And once that’s done, how about another pay increase for the City Council? It can’t be far behind. wade (continued from page 2) same choice, but they would have an option that is currently not available. Paid circulation newspapers are outraged at this proposed pilot program in Guilford County because they fear it will spread statewide, taking millions of dollars out of the pockets of newspapers and giving it back to the taxpayers. What the new law will do in Guilford County is introduce some competition in the legal advertising world, something paid circulation newspapers are adamantly against. The bill also requires that 50 percent of the money paid for advertising on the county website be allocated to the schools for teacher supplements. For instance, under the current law, if the City of Greensboro were holding a public hearing, which by law has to be advertised, it could place a notice in all the water bills that the city sends out each month, send a letter to every registered voter in the city, buy space on 20 billboards, advertise on all the local television and radio stations and buy full-page ads in all the free publications distributed in the city, but the public meeting would be illegal because the city had not met the legal advertising requirement. However, if it placed an advertisement in the News & Record, it would meet the legal requirement. If the idea is letting the public know – as the paid circulation newspapers are claiming – does that make any sense at all? Paid circulation newspapers are taking hypocrisy to new heights in their opposition to this part of the new law. Paid circulation newspapers claim that their concern is informing the public as far as legal and government notices go. Paid circulation newspapers, with no statistics to back them up, are claiming that more people see the legally required advertising in paid circulation newspapers than will see them on the Guilford County website. They state that not everyone has access to the internet, which is certainly true, but not everyone subscribes to the newspaper either. It would actually make more sense if the legal requirement could be met in free newspapers, but changing the state statute to allow that has never made it out of committee because the paid circulation newspaper lobby is so powerful. The original bill introduced by Wade was for this change, which allows legally required advertising to be on county websites, to be statewide, but the paid circulation newspaper lobby got that stopped. The lobbyists managed to scare away enough votes that the bill was reduced to a four-county pilot program, and even that was considered too radical, so that was reduced to one county. Guilford County was chosen because the bill was sponsored by Wade, who is from Guilford County. And it makes sense for the pilot program for a bill Wade sponsored to be in her home county. What reveals the truth about this issue is that Guilford County (continued on page 6)

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 5

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    6 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com RHINOSHORTS by John Hammer Sad news for fans of News of the Weird. Chuck Shepard, the inventor of News of the Weird, is retiring from the weird news business and this is his last column. No word yet on whether or not someone else will take up the weird news ball and run with it, but we’ll let you know what we hear. Here’s an opportunity to enjoy barbecue in historic Jamestown and help raise money for a good cause. From 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, Potent Potables at 115 East Main St. in Jamestown is hosting the third annual Barbecue Cook-off to benefit JDRF, the leading organization funding type 1 diabetes research. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Advance tickets may be purchased at jdrfbbqcook-off.eventbrite.com. The Fun Fourth Festival in downtown Greensboro was packed this year and there were a wealth of activities. Kids seem to enjoy the fountain in Center City Park where, technically, they aren’t supposed to play and the fountain at La Bauer Park where they are. But unnamed sources say the best water feature was the fire truck south of the railroad tracks that had a fire hose spraying down from the top of a ladder truck. Now they’ve even taken away traditional Fourth of July fireworks. July Fourth fireworks are traditionally watched from a blanket in a park or grassy field, or maybe from a convertible by the side of the road, or from a lawn chair in the back of a pickup truck, but not in Greensboro. Now in order to see the fireworks, which by the way the City of Greensboro pays for, you have to march into the First National Bank ballpark. (In a couple of years perhaps they’ll have assigned seats just like at a baseball game.) Maybe for those who followed orders and went to the stadium it was a fantastic show, but for those of us who wanted to watch the fireworks from somewhere other than where we were ordered to go, it was a big disappointment. Next year, couldn’t we have regular old traditional fireworks where people can gather in parks and fields with blankets and lawn chairs to watch the show, or next year will people be forced to pick up tickets in advance, show three forms of picture identification and pay a $5 handling fee for their free ticket? The Lake Jeanette Homeowners Association received a letter last week from Will Dellinger, one of the prospective buyers of Lake Jeanette and Buffalo Lake. The letter states, “We have no plans to drain the lake, open the lake up to the public, make drastic changes to the current buffer or damage the existing tranquility of the current landscape.” He also said that before the new owners make changes, they will (continued on page 37) wade (continued from page 4) Avid Rhino reader Jamie Williams and his grandson Dylan Williams exploring the cannons at The Battery (White Point Gardens) in Charleston, South Carolina. Send your Rhinos Around the World to letters@rhinotimes.com. currently runs much of its legally required advertising, not in the News & Record with a circulation of about 40,000, but in the Jamestown News, which doesn’t publish its circulation figures. But the total population of Jamestown is about 3,400 and the number of homes in Jamestown is 1,380. If every single homeowner in Jamestown subscribes to the paper, that would give it a circulation of 1,380, and everyone in Jamestown doesn’t subscribe. So being generous and assuming a circulation of 1,000, advertising in the Jamestown News meets the legal requirement for legally required advertising in a county of over 500,000. Guilford County for years ran pages of advertising in the News & Record to list people who had not paid their property taxes, as is required by law and the cost was about $90,000 a year. To save money and meet the legal requirement, Guilford County a few years ago started running the list in the Jamestown News at a cost of about $5,000 a year. The idea was not to inform the people of Guilford County but to meet the legal requirement, and the state statute is so out of date that advertising in the Jamestown News met the legal requirement. It’s all about money, as the publisher and owner of the Kernersville News, John Owensby, told the committee considering bill. He said that without this state mandated monopoly on legal and government advertising he could go out of business. The North Carolina League of Municipalities and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners support Wade’s bill. When the law requiring advertising was first passed decades ago, it made sense to require newspaper advertising. Television had not yet been invented. Today, not only do we have television, we have the internet, which is where more and more people are getting their news. Most people don’t read the foreclosure ads run by attorneys and few read the advertisements run by the governments. Those who are interested know to look for them in Guilford County in the Jamestown News or the News & Record. For most people it would be easier to simply to check the Guilford County website.

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 7 Two City Council Incumbents Reveal Their Plans To Run Again by John Hammer Filing for the Greensboro City Council elections opens on Friday, July 7 at noon, and two city councilmembers ended months of speculation this week by announcing they would file to run for reelection. At-large City Councilmember Mike Barber and District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins, the lone Republican on the council, announced this week they would run for reelection. One rumor was that Barber planned to challenge Mayor Nancy Vaughan in the mayor’s race. Another was that he wasn’t going to run at all. Both rumors proved false Wilkins had been urged by some to run for mayor and by others to run in the at large race, leaving the District 5 seat open for another Republican. District 5 in the western part of the city is the most conservative district in Greensboro and the thinking among some Republicans was that Wilkins could win an at-large seat and another Republican would win District 5. Of course, the other side of that would be that Wilkins could lose the at-large race and the unknown newcomer who would run in his place Mike Barber could also lose, leaving Republicans without a single city councilmember. Wilkins was appointed to replace Trudy Wade when she was elected to the state Senate in 2012. It’s hard to believe that in 2009, the voters elected six Republicans to the City Council including Mayor Bill Knight, and now the council is down to Wilkins. For years the voters elected at least one Republican to the three atlarge seats. But that has changed, and since 2011 all three at-large seats have been held by Democrats. It would have been a tough race for Wilkins to win in a citywide election and his odds of winning are much better in District 5, though he has already attracted one opponent, Tammi Thurm, a Democrat who has held a fundraiser, has a campaign website and all the appearances of running a legitimate campaign. Wilkins as the lone Republican serves as the council’s unofficial liaison to the state legislature, which has vetoproof Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. Wilkins has also gained something of a reputation on the City Council for asking tough questions. It was when Wilkins asked for a copy of the contract between the International Civil Rights Center & Museum and the city that the City Council discovered there was no signed contract. With Barber committing to run, it means that all three atlarge councilmembers are running for reelection. A few months ago it appeared there might be two open seats because Councilmember Yvonne Johnson had said in 2013 and 2015 that the 2015 race would be her last. Johnson changed her mind and now says that the 2017 race, which is for a fouryear term, will be her last. Johnson was first elected to the City Council in 1993 and was elected mayor in 2007. She lost he reelection bid in 2009 and then ran again for City Council in 2011. The at-large races are always confusing and contentious. It’s a tough race to run because the atlarge candidates are not like most political candidates running against another candidate, they are each running against everyone. It’s a lot like a basketball game we used to call “Taps,” where whoever got the rebound was on offense and everyone else on the court was on defense. It Tony Wilkins was one against all and all against one. That’s how the at-large City Council race works. It appears the at-large race will have a primary, where the top six finishers will move on to the general election and the three candidates with the most votes will be elected. In 2015, Barber finished solidly in third place behind Johnson who finished first and Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter who finished second. In 2013, Barber finished second and Abuzuaiter finished third. About his decision to run for reelection Barber said, “I’m excited about running again. I want to continue the work we’ve begun, supporting business investment in Greensboro and to continue to try to streamline the permitting process and developing a far better fast track program. We need to ensure that we have adequate welltrained inspectors that can move the permitting process forward quickly. But most importantly we need to continue to strongly support our police and fire department to move toward a safer Greensboro.” Barber is an attorney who currently (continued on page 16) RHINO TIMES BUSINESS AND SERVICE DIRECTORY For information to advertise in our Directory call (336) 763-4170 Have Medicare questions? I have answers. Bruce Bailer Licensed Sales Representative 425 Spring Garden Street Greensboro, NC 27401 336-275-2651, TTY 711 www.MyUHCagent.com/ bruce.bailer

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    8 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Fun Fourth Block Party and Freedom Run Photos by Sandy Groover

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    www.rhinotimes.com | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | RHINO TIMES 9 Greensboro’s Fun Fourth Festival Photos by Sandy Groover and John Hammer

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    10 RHINO TIMES | Thursday, July 6, 2017 | www.rhinotimes.com Search for MWBE Architect Locks Up County Jail Renovation Project by Scott D. Yost A kingdom was once lost for want of a nail, and now a big move planned by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department may be lost – well, at least delayed – for want of a black architect. In fact, if you’re a black architect who always wanted to do some county government work, now would be the time to apply. Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes said the major planned project to level the dilapidated Otto Zenke building at 400 W. Washington St., his current headquarters, build a parking lot there and move the Sheriff’s Department’s administrative offi ces into the old county jail at 401 W. Sycamore St. in downtown Greensboro, is now on hold due to a spat over the county’s use – or, rather, non-use – of minority architects. “Basically, it’s been put off due to the whole rigmarole,” Barnes said this week. “The architect they had was fi ne – they’d used him a hundred times before – but the whole thing is that they are trying to fi nd a black architect.” There’s money in the new 2017-2018 county budget for the large project, however, Democratic Guilford County Commissioners Carolyn Coleman and Skip Alston have been on a major quest lately to bring more diversity to major county construction contracts and they want to make absolutely sure facilities offi cials haven’t – as they say they suspect – overlooked black architects for the sheriff’s project, as well as for other county projects in Guilford County’s construction pipeline. Barnes said the project is now in limbo and added that he’s not sure when it will get underway because of the Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) debate taking place among the county commissioners and other county officials. “Nobody knows when it will start,” the sheriff said. The Otto Zenke building was experiencing structural and age issues even before a massive fl ood severely damaged the sheriff’s headquarters in 2009. There was talk of building a new Sheriff’s Department headquarters but last year the county commissioners voted to move Barnes into the old jail, an idea Barnes approves of. The Sheriff’s Department is really caught up in a larger, longstanding and ongoing battle between Coleman and the county’s facilities department. The contentious situation fi rst ignited at a county commissioners meeting nearly three years ago when Coleman publicly berated Guilford County Facilities, Parks and Property Management Director Robert McNiece because a list of architects he had brought to the board for various construction projects didn’t include any black architects. Coleman said the issue has never been resolved and this latest battle over the Sheriff’s Department project is a result of continued inattention to the matter by county staff. In a meeting last month, Coleman and Alston called McNiece to the carpet over the black architect issue again. McNiece told Coleman and the rest of the board that county staff had combed the area for minority architects who wanted to submit bids. The lack of applications for the job, he said, was not due to any lack in effort by the county. Coleman said this week that she is woefully disappointed with what she maintains is the county’s failure to adequately search for black architects. The county is not allowed to award contracts on the basis of race, but Coleman and others want to at least see some blacks competing for these major projects. “Three years ago I tried to get them to wait, but McNiece said it would hold up his work,” Coleman said of the projects back then. “He promised he would come back with some names but he hasn’t. This time I am asking the questions about it. I said this is unacceptable and I don’t know why you can’t fi nd any black architects. I know two or three. Nobody has come back to us and made a report.” Coleman said she knew that buildings on the North Carolina A&T State University campus and others around town were designed by black architects and she mentioned that Harvey Gantt, Charlotte’s fi rst black mayor, ran an architectural firm in that city. She said there were others in the state as well. Coleman added that recent MWBE reports from county staff were dismal. She said one report last year listed black participation at 2.7 percent and said that, more recently, that went up to 16 percent when Guilford County administrators started adding in categories the county hadn’t traditionally counted – such as contracts with foster care families. Now, whenever a minority family takes a foster care child, it ups the county’s minority contract percentages. Coleman said using numerical sleight of hand to increase the numbers doesn’t address the core problem. She said, instead, more large construction and supplier contracts should go to minority-based fi rms. One county offi cial involved with MWBE efforts, when asked about the current dispute, pointed out a Wikipedia page for “African-American architects,” (continued on next page)

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