Thursday, February 26, 2015

Press Release: Rep. Jon Hardister Files "Honest Lottery" Act

"This week Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) filed HB 109 - Lottery Act Clarified - along with Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) and Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland). The bill would require state lottery ads to be more clear and promote transparency in lottery operations.

The highlights of the bill are as follows:

Requires lottery advertising to list the value of the lowest prize and the odds of winning the largest prize.

Prohibits lottery advertising at high school events.

Requires state agencies to disclose receipts and usage of lottery proceeds.

Requires the state legislature to approve gaming techniques that are not scratch-off or draw-style games.

"The purpose of this bill is to ensure that the lottery is authentic and transparent in how it operates," Hardister said. "If we are going to have a state lottery, then we have a duty to ensure that it is operated responsibly. This bill would help to accomplish that goal."

http://jonhardister.blogspot.com/2015/02/press-release-rep-jon-hardister-files.html

Is City Council Passing The Buck On The RCC Co-op?

Darryl Baskerville, Chief Organizer of Greensboro for Justice and a USMC veteran bravely posted the following to his Facebook page:

"An argument for the City Council to fund the Ren CO-OP?
Christina Yongue, Goldie Wells, John Robert Kernodle III, Thessa Pickett

From section 3.61 of City Charter: https://www.municode.com/library/nc/greensboro/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=CH_CHIIIMACO_SUBCHAPTER_DCOPODUANOR_S3.61EXPOPOCO

"In addition to other powers conferred upon it by law, the council may adopt and provide for the execution of such ordinances, rules, and regulations, not inconsistent with this charter, as may be necessary or appropriate for the preservation and promotion of the health, comfort, convenience, good order, better government, and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants."

Here's the link to the code Darryl spoke of.

John Robert Kernodle III added:

 "I'd love to combine this very specific point from the charter with the four core values on the city website - especially 'respect'. http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=140 "

I've copied and pasted them for you so you don't have to click through:

"The  City of Greensboro’s four core values — honesty, integrity, stewardship and respect — existed long before they were ever written on paper. Our core values were not selected as ways to change our organization. Discovery of the core values was made through a series of exercises to identify what the priorities currently are for the organization. The core values attest to what we believe in.

Honesty
  • Being truthful, ethical and principled
  • Being authentic
  • Taking a stand on important principles
  • Disclosing the entire truth
Integrity
  • Firm adherence to a standard of values
  • Saying what we mean and constantly doing what we say
  • Honor
  • Trustworthiness and incorruptibility
Stewardship
  • Protection and care for community resources for positive purposes
  • Accountability for the current and future use of community resources
  • Responsibility without possessiveness
  • Placing the needs of the whole before one's own ends
Respect
  • Treating people with dignity and an attitude of caring and understanding
  • Showing genuine consideration for others
  • Valuing each individual as an individual"

Thessa Pickett and Christina Yongue made some great comments as well. I love the directness and lack of bullshit Greensboro's youth are showing-- so refreshing compared to the status quo. Like I wrote in How Greensboro Defines Economic Development:

"The truth is: real economic development is putting money in the pockets of the working class by providing them with good paying jobs. If you do that the tax revenue will follow and the cart will no longer be in front of the horse.

Anything else is an economic cost Greensboro must bear in the long run."

The RCC is putting jobs where they're needed most-- meets the criteria 100%.

I then added to the Facebook thread:


" Interesting, this is the same excuse the City is using to defer cost to fund the RCC to Guilford County. Mayor Nancy Barakat Vaughan, Marikay Abuzuaiter, Jamal Fox, Tony Wilkins, George Hartzman, perhaps you'd like to address this as well?"

As the old folks used to say, I'm tired of waiting on the come. We get our co-op this year or City Council doesn't get reelected-- period.

The Renaissance Community Co-op is over a year behind where we could have been because of the shenanigans of the Greensboro City Council, Skip Alston, the East Market Street Development Corporation and other political operatives here in Greensboro who conspired to steal it away from us. We've raised $1.2 Million Dollars on our own and would have raised more had City Government not been working to break us. Tell City Council to Fully Fund the Renaissance Community Co-op now! 

I'll update with their responses should they do so.

After all, this exact same Council had no problem giving away $2 Million Dollars for a downtown project based on a falsified feasibility study that none of them want to talk about publicly.

How Greensboro Defines Economic Development

A friend asked me to ask the City of Greensboro the following:

"Can you define economic development?" -or "What is your definition of economic development?" That is to say, the answer to the question is not one to be challenged, rather, the answer might provide volumes of information on their intentions based on how they define the concept."

My reply:

"Indeed, after sitting through numerous city meetings while they might not admit it publicly, their definition of economic development is what generates the most taxes and being that property tax is the only real means of taxation now left to the city the real answer is all too apparent. Even the East Market Street Development Corporation who is tasked with the economic development of the East Market Street Corridor never once mentioned economic development in their presentation on Tuesday but they did make mention of increasing property tax revenues hence their expressed desire to be given $100,000 to develop a property they don't own and the owner, United House of Prayer for All, has adamantly stated again and again they have no intention of selling."

The truth is: real economic development is putting money in the pockets of the working class by providing them with good paying jobs. If you do that the tax revenue will follow and the cart will no longer be in front of the horse.

Anything else is an economic cost Greensboro must bear in the long run.

Want Some Pi


pi day
            3.14.15 forge.png
When
Saturday, March 14th
9:26am to 12:00pm
Where
FORGE GREENSBORO
115 W Lewis Street, Greensboro, NC 27406
Join us for Pi Day as we host a Career Exploration event spotlighting math-intensive jobs. We will have employers in the workshop area focusing on aviation manufacturing, machining, and welding jobs. In the software space we will have employers looking for talent in IT and code-related jobs. If you know of an employer that would like to exhibit, please reach out to our event organizer at joel@skilltv.net.


qrcode.27770990 (1)
 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Yes Weekly; "Renaissance Co-Op: Make it Happen", Sam Simpson and Zack Matheny

"The divide between Big Government and community empowerment was on display again this week in the Gate City when it came to light that the city will breathlessly spend $2.2 million on engineering work for an estimated $23 million expansion of water and sewer lines into another county, while at the same time city leaders said they might not quite be able to find $600,000 in loans and grants to fully fund the Renaissance Co-Op grocery store out on Phillips Avenue.

The $2.2 million for Sam Simpson, 
brother of professional golfer Webb Simpson,
and former DGI President, 
where Zack Matheny is applying for a job, 
while a acting taxpayer funded city councilman and DGI liason,
who thinks there is no conflict of interest 
or abuse of power, by applying for a taxpayer paid DGI job, 
which John Hammer says in non-problematic
as the Rhino lobbies for taxpayer funded public notice money
after Roy took the city for a street
and millions more the local paper of record won't report.

The Renaissance Co-Op is a community-driven initiative to bring a grocery store to one of Greensboro’s largest food deserts in the city’s northeast quadrant. It’s planned for the site of the former Bessemer Center, a rundown shopping strip behind a modern city library on Phillips Avenue...

On 2/24/2015, John Hammer told me
he doesn't see a problem with Zack going after a taxpayer funded job
while holding an elected office, 
which funds the position.

Co-op supporters have secured $1.1 million of the $1.7 million needed to make the grocery store a reality. The co-op would be a for-profit enterprise that could bring jobs, profits and wealth building to a community often overlooked by the glitz of downtown development and the lure of megamillions for real estate developers out on the city’s greenfield fringe.

Zack and Sam appear to believe it's okay to fuck East Greensboro
while they feed at Greensboro's trough
with Roy Carroll and John Hammer's permission.

...we’ve watched the city dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars to stuffed suits for repetitive projects across the economic development spectrum.

Guess where Sam Simpson lives?

Guess who Sam hangs out with?

Guess where?

Guess who Sam Simpson contributed campaign cash to?

Developing a healthier community in one of the city’s oldest and most cohesive neighborhoods must be a priority..."

http://yesweekly.com/article-19500-renaissance-co-op-make-it-happen.html
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On the same day that former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was reported to have asked an FBI agent for illegal campaign contributions, I wrote within these pages “Some campaign contributions look like legal forms of extortion on the part of elected officials … donors appear to legally bribe legislators in exchange for artificially inflated taxpayer-funded profit.”

Most politicians prefer legal extortion and most special interests legal bribery, but it doesn't make it any less wrong.

...Very few Greensboro residents contribute money to Greensboro City Council campaigns, and few of those give more than $50. Even fewer give more than $50 to more than one candidate. I am unaware of a local taxpayer-funded organization whose last 20 board members, or their representatives, gave more to City Council candidates than DGI. I am also not aware of another organization whose board members or associates personally reaped more “economic incentive”, with the probable exception of totals for some on the Greensboro Partnership’s board, which has included some the same interests as on DGI’s.

...DGI Executive Board members Sam Simpson, Dawn Chaney and Gary Brame did not respond to requests for comment.

Are Sam Simpson and Zack Matheny
involved in lining each other's pockets?

Similar situations exist within a more direct political context in Greensboro.

...Greensboro’s former City Attorney said Sec. 4.131 of the City Charter “must be considered.” The text states “Any officer, department head or employee who has financial interest, direct or indirect, in any proposed contract with the city ... shall make known that interest and shall refrain from voting upon or otherwise participating in the making of such contract or sale. Violation of this Section with the knowledge expressed or implied of the person or corporation contracting with or making a sale to the city shall render the contract void.”

...Charlotte’s for-profit news industry seemed blindsided by Patrick Cannon’s indictment and arrest for public corruption. Reporters and news executives have told me something like “that’s just the way it is” after being asked why they chose not to report on ethics issues related to campaign contributions. As campaign contributions flow into the news industry as advertising revenue, I respectfully disagree.

http://yesweekly.com/article-18010-patrick-cannon-greensboro-and-the-news-industry.html
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Zack Matheny shoving an incentive for his friends and campaign contributors down Greensboro taxpayer's throats

http://hartzman.blogspot.com/2014/01/zack-matheny-shoving-incentive-for-his.html

On Zack Matheny's crooked incentive package for his friends in Downtown Greensboro   

Zack denies Sam Simpson making any money on the deal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw8JMDCFgOc

WTF Zack Matheny?

http://hartzman.blogspot.com/2013/10/wtf-zack-matheny.html

Did Zack Matheny sell Greensboro taxpayer money to run for congress?

http://hartzman.blogspot.com/2013/12/did-zack-matheny-sell-greensboro.html

The Miracle Never Came

In the past the EzGreensboro.com staff and I have told you of the 150 acres of new empty buildings built by UNCG and NC A&T at the areas 2 Gateway Centers North and South. Today the News & Record touts the opening of VF Corporations new Global Jeanswear Innovation Center in the Gateway University Research Center Park South later this year. From the article:

"The center will focus on innovation in VF Corp.'s jeanswear brands"

Like what, jeans for nanobots? Seriously, how many ways can you spin this major screw up?

You see, Gateway South is the home to the much touted nanoschool that was supposed to save our local economy bringing in lots of nanotechnology related industries and oodles of fresh faced students but instead we got ghost towns and a lab with only 10 students after 4 years.


Let's face reality here folks, the Gateway Center is a failed real estate venture on the part of UNCG, NC A&T, the UNC system and North Carolina's elite developers who had hoped their cart before the horse efforts which have failed to drive economic development for the last 30 plus years might pull off a miracle.

As usual, the miracle never came. Real estate development as economic development simply doesn't work. Greensboro is flooded with empty privately owned commercial properties but instead local and state tax dollars as well as education dollars, were used to build a building that is now going to be rented to a textile company that makes their actual products overseas.

East Market Street Pipe Dreams

I sat through the City Council business meeting yesterday. Councilman Mike Barber wasn't in attendance and Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann appeared to sleep through most of the meeting.

George Hartzman explained how city employees could add thousands to their retirement funds without increasing taxes by cutting out middle men and buying their retirement plans directly from the same folks the middle men buy the accounts from but it really appeared as if Tony Wilkins and Zack Matheny were the only ones on Council who really understood what Mr Hartzman was talking about. Councilman Wilkins expressed much concern (some will say I'm being overly nice) about the fact that no one was brought in from the City's current plan administrator to answer questions. Seems they've now wasted 4 meetings without calling in anyone from the other side.

In walking out with Mr Hartzman at the end of the meeting I could tell my friend was pretty bummed that Council and Staff had not yet taken the time to understand these things but later in the day George had let it roll off his back and was ready to fight again. I wish I could recover so quickly.

The folks from East Market Street Development Corporation gave their presentation. As Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter-- who wasn't sleeping-- pointed out: EMSDC had simply redone their previous presentations from the last 3 years and were asking for more money for the things they had yet to make any progress on what-so-ever.

Usually these presentations include the organizations recent successes but EMSDC presented no examples of their recent successes. As a matter of fact: EMSDC presented no examples of any successes at all-- ever. They talked about how bad East Market Street looks but showed pictures from other cities.

EMSDC seems to want to act as a master developer and home owners association all rolled into one talking about things like making the facades along East Market all look alike and wanting City money to do so. In my mind I kept picturing a 3 mile long strip mall where everything looks the same and the expression "can of worms" came to mind. I can't speak for all of east Greensboro but personally, the last thing I want is 3 miles of sameness.

East Market Street Development Corporation seems fixated on developing the 13 acres where the post office used to stand on East Market St but as Councilwoman Yvonne Johnson pointed out and this writer has long known, the owners of the property, the United House of Prayer for All, have no intentions of selling the property-- ever.

You see, while Councilwoman Johnson didn't express it, the church bought that property with the long term goal of building a bigger church there someday. And apparently they ain't hurting for money. Personally I think it's a waste of property that could be put to better uses but the church owns it and the church will damn sure do with it what they please and who am I to say different?

But EMSDC wants money from the City of Greensboro to develop property that can't be sold. Go figure, right? My guess is EMSDC simply wants money just to continue to exist.

Of course, probably the dumbest thing I heard came from Councilman Zack Matheny who suggested that the City set up East Market Street Development Corporation as a taxing authority and establish a Business Improvement District as was done with Downtown Greensboro Incorporated thereby imposing an extra tax on all the property owners. This includes the poor residential property owners Mr Matheny apparently doesn't know exist in Greensboro-- especially within the areas controlled by EMSDC.

This was especially ironic as EMSDC expressed a desire to begin doing business under an assumed name and take control of all of east Greensboro. That's right: Zack Matheny suggested taxing Greensboro's poorest residents at a higher rate than we tax the rich.

You see, they talk about development, retail, jobs, tax revenue... but no one actually has any idea how to do anything and no one knows enough to get out of the way. And when someone like George Hartzman stands before them and explains how to actually do something...  

Ever wonder why old trains had cow catchers on them despite the fact that the trains could be seen and heard from miles away and rarely ran faster than 30 miles per hour? Now you know.

Veterinary Science on the Skids: More Expensive Pet Care Saves You Money

“Cutting the Gas Tax, Giving Teachers a Tax Deduction

Raleigh, N.C. – Maintaining a strong transportation system is crucial to preserving a growing and productive economy. North Carolinians deserve roads and bridges that safely connect them to their jobs and families, and businesses need high quality infrastructure to move people and products and keep our economy thriving.

But the lack of certainty in North Carolina’s gas tax makes it very difficult for the state to plan and fund road projects. One of our state’s most volatile revenue streams, the gas tax, makes up nearly 70 percent of the fund to maintain roads and bridges and approximately 60 percent of the state Department of Transportation’s budget.

That’s why, with wide-ranging support, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to cut and freeze the gas tax to 35 cents per gallon effective March 1. The bill changes how the gas tax is calculated, providing much-needed funding stability to help protect critical transportation projects. It also provides a tax deduction for teachers who purchase classroom supplies out of their own pockets.

Members of the business and transportation communities – including the North Carolina Chamber and AAA Carolinas – along with local governments have all come out in support of the bill.

This balanced plan provides tax relief for all North Carolina drivers while helping ensure the state has the long-term resources necessary to build and maintain safe roadways, bridges and economic corridors.

A recent report released from NCDOH provided a list of projects in both the Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund that will be delayed if the gas tax drops to projected levels.

Potential project delays included in the list for Guilford County total $20,527,242 ($5,422,982 from Contract Resurfacing, $743,214 from Pavement Preservation, $412,060 from the Bridge Program, $6,550,490 from Primary and Secondary Maintenance Activities and $7,398,496 from the Powell Bill).”

District 27 Newsletter - Volume 2, Issue 2 - February 24, 2015‏

 
Senator Trudy Wade
300 N. Salisbury Street
Room 521
Raleigh, NC 27603-5925

 

 

Being an expert in one field by no means makes one an expert in another field. Hence Veterinary Science might just, maybe, be a stretch regarding public policy in the field of infrastructure and taxation thereof (public finance).

One might consider engaging in a public choice theory adventure and examine the above news release to see if one can indeed understand pet care more thoroughly:

 

“Maintaining a strong transportation system is crucial to preserving a growing and productive economy. North Carolinians deserve roads and bridges that safely connect them to their jobs and families, and businesses need high quality infrastructure to move people and products and keep our economy thriving.”

Got it, safety and economic growth are the main concern. Very warm and fuzzy stuff!

 

“But the lack of certainty in North Carolina’s gas tax makes it very difficult for the state to plan and fund road projects. One of our state’s most volatile revenue streams, the gas tax, makes up nearly 70 percent of the fund to maintain roads and bridges and approximately 60 percent of the state Department of Transportation’s budget.”

Ah, politicos don’t have enough money and said politicos need a steady stream of other people’s money. Go figure.

 

“That’s why, with wide-ranging support, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill to cut and freeze the gas tax to 35 cents per gallon effective March 1. The bill changes how the gas tax is calculated, providing much-needed funding stability to help protect critical transportation projects. It also provides a tax deduction for teachers who purchase classroom supplies out of their own pockets.”

Oh, new zeniths in rationalization of somehow and in some way all the James and Jane Goodfellow(s) across North Carolina wanted their gasoline tax raised. Yep, politicos just raised your gasoline tax:

Senate bill could push NC gas tax 7 cents higher in future years, news observer.com, 02/10/2015


http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/02/10/4545808_senate-bill-could-push-nc-gas.html?rh=1


 

“Members of the business and transportation communities – including the North Carolina Chamber and AAA Carolinas – along with local governments have all come out in support of the bill.”

That’s the ticket! When notorious special interests and other politicos support tax hikes that makes for good public policy...errr...politics!

 

“A recent report released from NCDOH provided a list of projects in both the Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund that will be delayed if the gas tax drops to projected levels.”

Great! Raise a regressive tax on the poor and have them build the bridges. Brilliant!

 

One should strongly consider that regardless of the letter appearing after the politician's name, be it D, R or I, they are politicos first and foremost. And as such, one would be well served to consider this quotation:

“So it’s no surprise that governments with vast powers routinely behave stupidly: they are attempting to do the impossible while being overseen by the ill-informed.” - Don Boudreaux

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two different stories, two different demographics, two different outcomes, two different worlds, two sets of rules

WTF? "City may come up short on Renaissance Co-op funding"

"Assistant City Manager Chris Wilson, who has been in regular talks with the Renaissance Co-op, said it looks like the significantly reduced figure is all the city can afford."

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/02/wtf-city-may-come-up-short-on.html
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Greensboro "Found" $2.2 Million To Give To Rich Developers

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/02/greensboro-found-22-million-to-give-to.html
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Congratulations Sam Simpson.
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On Crony Capitalism in Greensboro

Matheny received contributions from John Lomax and DGI Board Chairman and Real Estate Broker Sam Simpson, who both stood to benefit from the deal.

...The targeted company declined the incentives Matheny brought to City Council for Messrs. Lomax and Simpson, and is moving its headquarters to Greensboro anyway.

http://hartzman.blogspot.com/2014/05/on-crony-capitalism-in-greensboro-zack.html
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City Council offered John Lomax and Sam Simpson $150,000
to move Gerbing into John Lomax's building
with Sam recieving the commission on the incentive
and a percentage of the monthly rent.

Councilman Zack Matheny had brought the proposal to the table
while taking campaign cash from Lomax, Simpson and others

Mr. Matheny denied Sam Simpson was going to make any money on the deal on video at city council

"The incentive was worth six times what the city would normally provide for such a deal.
Greensboro will give Gerbing $6,000 for each job it plans to create instead of the $1,000 per job offered under Greensboro’s incentive policy guidelines."

http://hartzman.blogspot.com/2014/03/news-and-records-kelly-poe-on-gerbing.html

Greensboro "Found" $2.2 Million To Give To Rich Developers

From the Business Journal:

"Mayor Nancy Vaughan and City Councilman Zack Matheny said the council will consider a vote to support funding the engineering and environmental studies portion of the $22.5 million water and sewer project for the megasite at its March 3 meeting. The money would come from the city's water and sewer extension fund balance, which is part of Greensboro's water utility.

"This really fast-tracks this project, and time is of the essence," Vaughan said, adding that a separate motion would be needed to move forward with the work once a contract is approved."


I have railed against this for years. It feels as if no one was listening. No one cares. North Carolina has 18 Empty Megasites all measuring over 1000 acres each-- one of them located in Chatham County only 8 minutes south of the proposed Greensboro-Randolph Megasite. DH Griffin, the owner of the Chatham County megasite, has already started construction of another megasite in Ridgeway, Virginia just 45 minutes north of Greensboro on the NC/VA state lines.

Nationwide there are 180 or more empty megasites all vying for that 1 auto factory.

The Greensboro-High Point MSA is #4 in the nation for comparable MSAs in EMPTY industrial sites. And Greensboro's leaders think we need to build more. 


 There's also an empty megasite in Moore County. That's also in the Piedmont Triad. There's a megasite being built near Lexington in Davidson County. And Zack Matheny is pushing to use Greensboro tax dollars to expand an industrial park in Kernersville (Forsyth County) to make it a megasite as well.

We need to fill up what we've got before City Council fast tracks our working class into bankruptcy.