Thursday, February 16, 2017

Good Bye Nancy Vaughan; Jessup Services' John Brown running for Mayor of Greensboro in 2017

"John Brown is ready to shake things up in his run for mayor. The 55 year-old entrepreneur is co-owner of Jessup Services Company in Greensboro, a plumbing, electrical, heating and air company. Brown holds 9 state professional licenses and is the inventor of a device that autonomously mows grass along highway guard rails 24 hours a day. He is high energy, full of ideas and eager to take a hands-on approach to the job of mayor. He says he wants to be “the voice of the taxpayer.”

Brown says economic development efforts are focused too much on the region and not enough on Greensboro itself. He wants to give preference to Greensboro companies on city contracts. He also wants to sit down with established local companies, find out who their suppliers are and then recruit those companies to Greensboro. He sees such an active approach as the job of the mayor.

Brown says he’d take an active role in other issues too. He says disparities in minority hiring for city contracts are less about race and more about a good ol’ boy network which he says he has experienced first hand. He says contractors try to help their buddies get work on projects even if they have promised to hire minority subcontractors. Brown says he would address this as mayor by personally making unannounced visits to city-funded projects to see if promised minority participation is actually happening.

...Brown too is big on transparency. For him, it’s a pragmatic necessity for citizens to understand what their government is doing and expose unwarranted secrecy. He cites an example where he had to fight bureaucratic red tape to learn that the city engages in a practice whereby taxpayers are lead to believe funds are being allocated to fire and police, but which really is a scheme to cycle money back into into the general fund for other purposes.

...Deception and Malfeasance

Brown explains what he says he discovered like this: He says the city buys vehicles it then “leases” to the police and fire departments at a rate above their cost. He says the police pay $92,000 into the general fund to lease a patrol car for five years. In this way, according to Brown, the public is deceived: Taxpayers are told money is being spent on public safety, but it is being passed through public safety budgets in the form of excessive vehicle charges collected from the police and fire departments only to be shunted to other expenditures, says Brown.

The upward spiraling cost of the downtown Performing Arts Center is another area where Brown thinks the public was misled. In addition to the escalating cost of the center itself, Brown finds it dishonest that concerns about parking were waived off as unimportant when the center was being debated and, now that we are committed, the city says it needs $30 million for a new parking deck next to the center. It was a “bait and switch,” Brown says of the project that was initially described as costing $55 million and is now over $108 million counting the new parking deck..."