Friday, March 27, 2015

Steal This Book

My 10 grade school book fare at Greensboro's James B Dudley Sr High School, the last thing on my mind was stealing anything. We were told stealing would be impossible as they would check everyone coming and going and I wasn't one to steal, wasn't in my nature. Still isn't.

On one of the tables was a copy of Abby Hoffman's Steal This Book. I picked it up and thumbed through it. Suddenly being told stealing was impossible became a challenge-- something I had to show the people in charge they were wrong about. (Turns out showing leaders they're wrong is in my nature.) As I walked around the room with several books in my hands I pondered realizing that 1 day a week or so I sometimes showed up for a class in that very room. It was Spring, the heat had been turned off, I dropped Abby Hoffman behind one of the steam radiators, paid for the rest of my books and left.

A few days later I rescued Abby Hoffman. Steal This Book changed my life. I admit, a lot of what is in the book is useless today and much of it was BS then but it opened my mind to another world of possibilities. I carried that book across 48 states, Canada and Mexico for almost 3 decades until it fell completely apart.


I'm not saying Abby Hoffman's ideas are the direction this country needs to go. I mean, seriously, the dude tried to put LSD into the Chicago City water supply, he's probably not the type we need to be following. Hoffman was a Socialist, I'm a Capitalist who sincerely believes that Capitalism works best when shared. But the writings of Abby Hoffman taught me there are other ways of looking at things than what the status quo wants you to believe. I dismissed much of Hoffman's work at 15 years old but through Hoffman and others like him left and right, I learned the world wasn't what our leaders want us to believe it is. I learned it wasn't what Hoffman wanted us to believe.

Were it not for men like Abby Hoffman and their sometimes screwed up messages I might just be brainwashed by the system, unable to point out the corruption and the Fascism that has become our real enemies.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Forging Greensboro

Direct via press release:


INVENTOR’S LIFTOFF BRINGS TRIAD AREA START-UPS TOGETHER FOR COLLABORATION, EDUCATION AND RAPID BUSINESS LAUNCH

MARCH 26, 2015 GREENSBORO, NC
Inventors Liftoff, a collaboration between The Forge and the Greensboro Partnership Entrepreneur Connection, is an event to inspire, inform, and showcase inventors and innovators in Greensboro, NC and the Triad Region.

This free event will take place April 1-3 2015 at Gibbs Hundred Brewery and The Forge, and is open to the public. Registration is required.

“All inventors are called ‘fools’ until they make money, so we couldn't think of a better day to launch this support event than April Fools Day,” said Joel Leonard, Community Development Coordinator at The Forge.

Successful inventors will share their stories and inspire other promising inventors to transform their own ideas to actuality. Inventors at every stage will receive tactical advice from experts on topics including intellectual property protection, industrial design, prototyping, finding investment funding, as well as marketing and communication.

“We are excited to see what local innovators are working on, and to showcase the success of other local inventors,” Leonard added. “It’s time to raise awareness about the great start-ups and entrepreneurs coming out of the Triad.”

More information is available at inventorsliftoff.com

ABOUT THE SPONSORS:

The Greensboro Partnership Entrepreneur Connection encourages and supports an expanding pipeline of entrepreneurial innovation, the formation and growth of high potential entrepreneurial businesses and a vibrant entrepreneurial community with access to the necessary capital, mentors, networks and resources.www.greensboropartnership.com/entrepreneur-connection.com.

The Forge, Greensboro's Makerspace, provides the community with affordable access to a workshop area and a collaborative space with areas for advanced software development, digital design, electronics fabrication, meetings, and seminars. www.forgegreensboro.org.

TPP; "Could Supreme Court Alabama gerrymandering decision put GOP’s NC maps in jeopardy?"



"In a win for voting rights advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court today put the brakes on using explicit racial criteria in redistricting. The 5 to 4 decision constrained the cynical use of the Voting Rights Act to justify race-based redistricting that minimizes the voting strength of minority voters—a strategy employed by several Southern states in the 2010 redistricting cycle.

The Court ruled that race predominated in the Alabama legislature’s redistricting of state house and senate districts when it moved black voters into majority-minority districts in order to prevent the percentage of minority voters from declining.

Justice Breyer, for the majority, wrote “[t]hat Alabama expressly adopted and applied a policy of prioritizing mechanical racial targets above all other districting criteria (save one-person, one-vote) provides evidence that race motivated the drawing of particular lines in multiple districts in the State.”

..."[the Voting Rights Act] does not require a covered jurisdiction to maintain a particular numerical minority percentage. It requires the jurisdiction to maintain a minority’s ability to elect a preferred candidate of choice.”

Which makes Marykay Abuzuaiter, 
a minority supported elected official,
a minority preferred City Council member,
rendering Skip Alston's logic non legally operative
that there are three current minority Council Members,
but four including Marykay, by law.

...‘The decision in the Alabama case makes clear that the Voting Rights Act does not require, and the Constitution does not permit, the use of mechanical racial targets in redistricting, as was done in North Carolina’...

http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2015/03/26/gerrymandering-news-the-supreme-court-takes-a-baby-step-toward-justice/#sthash.KDEoGYFi.dpuf
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Costs To Repair Heritage House: $17 Million

I asked the City of Greensboro to provide me with a copy of a report/study on the costs of repairing/rehabbing Heritage House, the condominium project condemned last July and property owners--some of them residents-- locked out by the City of Greensboro for a myriad of changing excuses . SKA Consulting Engineers has estimated the total costs of repairing the building at $16, 962, 000.

Click on the link to read the entire 55 page study.

What I find interesting is that the City of Greensboro building inspections department passed the building in 2008 when 177 units were sold to individual homeowners. From perfectly safe structure to a building recommended for destruction at a cost of $1,056,100 to the taxpayers in just 6 years must surely be a world record in inept governance.

And an excellent example of well-to-do developers getting their way while building inspections personnel are told by their bosses to look the other way.

If this doesn't justify a Federal investigation I don't know what does. And just so you know, as of last week Heritage House homeowners reported to me they have yet to be paid anything for their properties. As a matter of fact: no one from the City of Greensboro has contacted them since last August.

Their properties have been stolen. Pee and dog poop did not destroy the structural integrity of a concrete and steel building or cause the roof to leak.



Greensboro Business Owners: Vote With Your Feet

Greensboro business owners, many of them who live outside of Greensboro and cannot vote here but do business here anyway, are outraged that the City of Greensboro has discovered a means to circumvent-- at least in part-- state laws prohibiting the collecting of business privilege taxes as reported by today's News & Record.

Apparently lobbying state lawmakers wasn't enough to get the Greedsboro City Council under control. What to do, oh what to do?

There's really only one answer and you know what that answer is: vote with your feet. Since you can't vote in Greensboro, cannot lobby the actions of the City Council and efforts at the state level have failed you are left with but one choice: abandon Greensboro and take your business somewhere else depriving the City of Greensboro of your tax dollars and the positive economic impact your business brings to our city. If enough of you do it they'll come 'round.

Do it as a group and you might get a nearby city to make concessions for your entire group to move to their city. That would teach the Greensboro City Council a thing or three.

Of course, Council is betting that all you'll do is sit on your fat butts and bitch on social media. You know, like you always do.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rhino Times Greensboro Coliseum Advertising

As I wrote in my article, Kill The Rhino Times last Friday it has long been common knowledge among local journalists and media outlets that Roy Carroll and before him, John Hammer, have long inflated their circulation numbers. In one instance the Rhino claims to have 70,000 readers, in another it's 166,500 readers. Even the Rhino can't make up it's mind.

But here at EzGreensboro.com we dig deeper and we decided to dig into the cozy little arrangement Matt Brown and the Greensboro Coliseum Complex has for advertizing in the Rhino Times. We asked the City of Greensboro to provide us with the Rhino Times Circulation Audit and Barter Agreement. Clicking on the link gives you the Barter Agreement.

Now at first glance $13,000 cash plus 6 high dollar seats might seem like a really good deal but that's assuming the City of Greensboro knows how many people actually read the Rhino Times. You see, the City of Greensboro was unable to provide us with the Rhino Times Circulation Audit, I'm assuming because no such audit exists.

Is the City of Greensboro paying a total of $27,000 a year ($13,000 cash plus $14,000 in barter) for readers that don't exist? And without a 3rd party audit like other newspapers provide how can we know? And how many of those readers are parakeets, lovebirds and finches reading from atop their perches?

I don't know about you but the next time someone from the Rhino comes calling trying to sell advertising I'd demand that smelly brute show me some 3rd party audits before I write a check or hand over a credit card.

And Matt Brown and the City of Greensboro should be doing the same as these good ol' boy arrangements are bleeding Greensboro dry.


What Kinds Of Jobs Can We Expect From The Greensboro-Randolph Megasite?


From today's Wall Street Journal: 

"U.S. Car-Making Boom? Not for Auto-Industry Workers

U.S. auto-industry wages have declined despite rise in output due to competition from foreign parts makers

    By JAMES R. HAGERTY and JEFF BENNETT March 23, 2015 7:50 p.m. ET

    THREE RIVERS, Mich.—U.S. auto production is nearing all-time highs on the back of strong domestic demand and steady export increases. But American-made cars and trucks are increasingly loaded with parts imported from Mexico, China and other nations.

    The U.S. imported a record $138 billion in car parts last year, equivalent to $12,135 of content in every American light vehicle built. That is up from $89 billion, or $10,536 per vehicle, in 2008—the first of two disastrous years for the car business. In 1990, only $31.7 billion in parts were imported.

    The trend casts a cloud over the celebrated comeback of one of the nation’s bedrock industries. As the inflow of low-cost foreign parts accelerates, wages at the entry level are drifting away from the generous compensation packages that made car-factory jobs the prize of American manufacturing.

    At an American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. car-parts factory in Three Rivers, some new hires are paid as little as about $10 an hour, roughly equivalent to what the local Wal-Mart will pay. John Childers, a 38-year-old assembly-line stocker, said he is grateful for the job but finds it tough to get by on the money he and his fiancée make at the plant.

    “Lower class is what we are,” he says. “Let’s be honest.”

    Mexico was by far the biggest supplier of car parts to the U.S. last year, accounting for 34% of the imports, followed by China with 13%. Imports from China have more than doubled since 2008. Those from Mexico are up 86%.

    The Ford Escape had 55% U.S. and Canadian content in the 2015 model year, down from 90% for 2010 models, according to government data. The U.S.-made Honda Accord slipped to 70% from 75%.

    “We’ve never produced so many cars in the U.S., but we’ve never made so few of the parts,” says Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research.

    Auto makers built 11.37 million light vehicles in the U.S. in 2014, among the higher output totals since the record of 12.59 million produced in 1999, according to WardsAuto.com.

    Exports of American-made vehicles topped 2 million for the first time in 2014, U.S. trade data show. However, the growth of parts imports has left the U.S. with a growing deficit in overall trade in cars and parts—$168.3 billion last year, compared with $156.2 billion in 2013.

    The shift of parts production to other countries has shrunk an industry that has long been one of the largest sources of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

    In 2014, employment at car-parts makers averaged about 537,000, down 36% from 2000. At manufacturers of completed vehicles, employment fell 32% over that period, despite the recent boom in output—a decline due in part to productivity improvements including automation.

    Bolstered by weaker currencies and other factors, foreign countries are tightening their grip on broad swaths of the car-parts industry, including making small and fairly inexpensive components that are easily shipped. Among those most likely to be imported are electrical connections, air bags and fuel injectors. Transmissions, engines and seats are more likely to be made in the U.S.

    To survive in an increasingly global market, the larger U.S. parts makers have implanted themselves abroad. Detroit-based American Axle, for example, has plants in Mexico, Brazil, the U.K., Poland, India, China and Thailand. Only about 30% of the company’s 12,820 employees are in the U.S.

    Wages are much lower for American workers at parts companies than at car manufacturers, though both have trended down. In 2014, the average hourly wage for production and other nonsupervisory workers at car-parts makers was $19.91, down 23% from a decade earlier in inflation-adjusted terms. That compares with a 22% decline to $27.83 at makers of motor vehicles, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Kevin Hobbs, president of the United Auto Workers local that represents workers at the American Axle plant where pay starts at $10 an hour, said members struggle to meet basic living expenses. One major consolation is that health-care benefits are excellent.

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently announced plans to boost pay for U.S. workers to at least $10 an hour next year. With retail wages rising, Mr. Hobbs said, “you’re going to have a hard time attracting folks into a manufacturing environment.”

    A spokesman for American Axle said the company’s benefit packages are better than those of other employers in the region.

    Mr. Childers and his fiancée, Chrystal Varty, work the overnight shift at the plant. Employed for two years, he earns $11.50 keeping the line stocked with parts; Ms. Varty is about a year into her job, making $11 driving a forklift.

    With overtime, bonus payments and profit-sharing, they figure their combined annual income is about $55,000—low enough to qualify for food stamps. It is hard for them to provide for themselves and five children from previous marriages, partly because much of their money goes into payments and repairs on their three-bedroom house, where some of the floorboards are rotting.

    The UAW will renegotiate with American Axle in 2017, and Cindy Estrada, a vice president with the union, says entry-level wages have to go up.

    For most of the sector, however, there is little the UAW can do about it. Once ubiquitous in American auto manufacturing, the union has lost its grip, particularly in the South, where Asian and European car companies have nonunion plants.

    Denise Barnett has worked nine years at the nonunion Lear Corp. plant in Selma, Ala., and sorts through bins of foam used in the production of car seats for the nearby Hyundai Motors Co. assembly plant. Earlier this month, she was given a 92-cent hourly raise to $12.25.

    Even with the bump, the 37-year-old single mother of two boys works a lot of overtime. “I am getting home just in time to put my kids on the school bus,” she says, noting she then pays someone to watch them. “So I am really losing out on both ends.”

    Thomas DiDonato, Lear’s human-resources chief, said the company pays competitive wages, gives regular raises and has turnover of less than 2%.

    “If our employees couldn’t make ends meet, they would demonstrate their dissatisfaction with their feet by leaving and getting a job elsewhere,” he said.

    Write to James R. Hagerty at bob.hagerty@wsj.com and Jeff Bennett at jeff.bennett@wsj.com"

Sadly we can't even get Greensboro's wealthiest investors to invest in Greensboro so expecting others to invest here is a really big leap.

Mr Thomas DiDonato, Lear’s human-resources chief states in the article, “If our employees couldn’t make ends meet, they would demonstrate their dissatisfaction with their feet by leaving and getting a job elsewhere,” but would they?  Does that hold true for American Axle as well?

Three Rivers is a small town with a population of only 7,811 people in a county of only 61,295 people with at least 2 empty industrial parks being pushed by the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce. Imaging that, empty industrial parks where they already have auto plants-- how could it be?

The unemployment rate for Three Rivers is said to be 5.2% (Better than Greensboro's official 5.7%)

The City of Three Rivers was forced to discontinue leaf and brush pick-up this Spring. Is that a sign of a thriving local economy? Or a town council worried about where the money is going to come from now that they blew it all helping to fund those empty industrial parks?

American Axle is the largest employer in the entire county-- perhaps there's few if any other places for American Axle workers to go.

As for Lear in Selma, Alabama? Despite the fact that the City of Selma is very well known it remains a small city with a population of only 20,756 people. And the unemployment rate in Selma currently stands at twice the national average at 11.7% as of January 2015 so I submit Mr Mr Thomas DiDonato, Lear’s human-resources chief is lying his ass off in order to keep his precious job. After all, people don't quit the only job they can get.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A comment left at "Private funders of NC’s new economic development group may get advisory board spots"

http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2015/03/20/perks-in-store-for-private-funders-of-ncs-privatized-economic-development-group/#comment-362769
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John Hammer; "Mayor Nancy Vaughan had said that Melvin didn't have any personal investment in the area that it was all Bryan Foundation money."

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/03/john-hammer-mayor-nancy-vaughan-had.html

Conflict of Interest Watch; "Next stage of megasite effort will be 'a different conversation'

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/03/conflict-of-interest-watch-next-stage.html

Greensboro-Liberty Megasite Ripoff; Former Mayor Robbie Perkins told Randolph County Greensboro was in

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/03/greensboro-liberty-megasite-ripoff.html

Compare Sam Simpson and Zack Matheny's current exploits to; 12/31/13; "Robbie Perkin's 9,000 acres, Project Haystack, "Incentives" and the Rhino Times"

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/02/compare-sam-simpson-and-zack-mathenys.html

Minutes from the "Public Hearing and Consideration of Purchase of Real Estate in Conjunction with the proposed Greensboro-Liberty Mega Site"

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/03/minutes-from-public-hearing-and.html

Zack Matheny and Mike Barber need to recuse themselves from the Megasite Water and Sewer 

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/03/zack-matheny-and-mike-barber-need-to.html

Updated; Who would be stupid enough to spend $22.5 million to get water and sewer to a Megasite, about 10 miles away from another that already has it?

http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2015/02/who-would-be-stupid-enough-to-spend-225.html

From an EZ Greensboro Fan on the Rhino Times Circulation/Reader Inflation Issue