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« Your liberal media | Main | More lip reading »

Mar 02, 2008

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keith brown

ed you are exactly right, time to ask Zack Matheny what makes Greensboro different, we all know the answer, time to probe just what makes Greensboro different.

keith brown

I would like everyone to check out Zack Matheny's campaign contributions under 2007 35 day primary report amendment. We all know why Greensboro is different just look at all the developers, lawyers and homemakers of zoning stud lawyers who give to the campaigns, check it out here

http://gcms0004.co.guilford.nc.us/elections_cms/reports_2007.htm

Guilford County Board of Elections

Stormy

What's different in Greensboro is that economic development interests have strong political control, wich they do not want to lose.

keith brown

it is not a matter of losing their power it is giving rights to the citizens of Greensboro who have been getting screwed for a long time but other cities have the power to protest just not Greensboro they are exempt.I am one who will be on this issue till I can see a happy ending even if it means taking on all these deep pocket developers and their lawyers.

hugh

http://gcms0004.co.guilford.nc.us/elections_cms/reports_2007.htm
Keith, the link got cut off in your post. Here's a partial list of names for those who don't want to download the PDF. Contributions range from $50-$500, most in the $250-500 range.

Spence Broadhurst-Banker
Stephen Klee- Attorney
Bejamin Sydnor- Financial Planner
Ricky Hopkins-Property Management
Robert Mcintosh-Lumber Importer
Preston Young- Attorney
Craig Ragsdale-Banker
Thomas White-Property Management
Thomas White Jr.- Prop.Management
Harold KernIII-Real Estate Broker
Kurt Kronfeld- Senn Dunn Insurors
Wiliam B Hayes-CF0, Lab Corp.
Charles Melvin- Jr, Attorney
Alexander Audilet- Attorney
Gregory Holland- Attorney
Dennis Quaintance- Hotel Magnate
Dwight Stone- Builder
Richard Montana,RealEstate Broker
Charles K. Blackmon- Attorney
Derek Allen - Attorney
Scott Bayer - He's a Developer
Rani Hussami - He's a Developer
James Melvin - Construction
Chester Brown III- Brown Investment Properties
Ralph Jones III - Broker
Arthur Samet- Samet Corp
Allen Sharpe - Real Estate/Develpment
Evan Bell- Property Management
Justin Conrad, Pres. Libby Hill
Ronald Nelson- Prop. Management
James Black- Commercial Property
Bradley Field- Timber Broker
James Lomax- Construction
Johnathan Bell- Prop. Management
Robin Tyler- Prop. Management
William Black,Jr. Mortgage Broker
Michael Winstead- Mega Builders
Steven D. Bell- Prop. Management
Scott Wyatt- Attorney
Jeffery Oleynick- Attorney
James Phillips- Attorney
Michael Shannon- Attorney
Joseph McKinney- Mega Builders
Frank Auman- "Self Employed" Ha!
Hardin Blackwell - Terminex
Carole Bruce- Attorney
Charles Hagan III - Attorney
Cooper Brantly Jr. - Real Estate
Bradford Deaton- Prop.Development
Three Lorillard Attorneys
George Aycock- Attorney
E.S. Melvin, Pres. Bryan Foundation
Derek Albright - Attorney

Perhaps another dozen or so "Self Employed" listed I did not include, A couple of which I'm pretty certain are develpers, or commercial real estate folks.

Bulk of address of contributors was from the Irving Park, New Irving Park and Latham Park neighborhoods.

Billy The Blogging Poet

Yep, it would appear that Zack What's-his-name is another bought and paid for politrickster.

Ryan

Keith,

Out of curiosity, did you donate to a candidate during the 2007 City Council race?

Not to take a jab at you, but if your answer is no then you (or anyone else) really can't be upset over the donor break down. Candidates have to raise money and if the general public isn't going to get involved... then they have to go where the money is.

I am sure you have a favorite council person and I am also sure that they will likely have developers and attorney's on their list of donors.

Ryan

Ed Cone

I think we should provide a respectful forum for an honest answer from the Councilman, rather than answering the question for him ahead of time.

A thought on the neighborhoods where his donors tend to live: IP and NIP are in his district.

Zack is obviously well-connected, or connected to people who are, and his campaign shook the money tree successfully and as far as we know within the rules and regs; before you string him up from that tree, why not give him a chance -- and a place -- to elaborate on his comment to the N&R?

Danny Wright

Also consider that his remark may have been taken out of context. We don't know what he said immediately after that comment because it was not included in the editorial. One would think that a good reporter / editor / interviewer would have asked Councilman Matheny a follow-up question for clarification of such a comment -- but since we don't know if that happened or what Matheny said if a follow-up was asked, then perhaps we should wait and see what he has to say.

People get rightfully emotional about their property rights -- I know I would be especially concerned if someone was about to do something "big" along my property line. I can't imagine that Matheny would be opposed to someone protecting her or his property interests through a process that has been guaranteed statewide for over 80 years. Interesting too how this exception for Greensboro works in the "reverse federalism" direction from a political science standpoint -- superseded entity opts out of superseding entity's legislation. Granted, it's not a state constitutional issue and all (so not a federalism issue per se), but the exception is rather striking considering that it is such an important issue.

Doug

When memogate broke, I emailed Zack out of emotion asking him to let me know when he might hold a public meeting in order to learn the thoughts of his constituents. He replied promptly that he would be glad to meet with my neighborhood association and to let him know when.

Well, my neighborhood (as far as I know) doesn't have an association, so I replied such to him, and apologized for my emotional request.

Then, 2 days before the "emergency" city council meeting, I emailed him again that I thought Mitch should be fired, but I never got a response from that email.

I now have a guess as to why.

Doug Clark

I interviewed Zack briefly for the editorial. I was trying to fit a lot of information into a limited space so only included a brief comment from him. I understood his meaning to be that Greensboro is different from Raleigh and Charlotte in that it isn't growing as fast, and that developers proposing beneficial projects for Greensboro could be put off by impediments to rezoning.

hugh

"I understood his meaning to be that Greensboro is different from Raleigh and Charlotte in that it isn't growing as fast, and that developers proposing beneficial projects for Greensboro could be put off by impediments to rezoning."

Yet towns like Statesville, Fayetteville, Sanford, Roxboro, Reidsville, etc. that lack the economic success of Greensboro still respect their citizens rights.

keith brown

Thanks Hugh for the postings of the contributions to Zack Matheny's campaign. If there was a shred of ethics in Zack Matheny he would have recused himself from the Mega Builders case off of friendly avenue. Hugh you are exactly right every small and big city abides by North Carolina General Statute 160a-385 and 386. I would like to get Zack Matheny's side of the story please let him know, what we are doing. All i am doing in this whole process is to let the citizens know about Protest Petitions , what Protest Petitions are about, and how much injustice that the city of Greensboro has done because of not allowing Protest Petitions in this major North Carolina City. Thats all.From Yes Weekly, to editorials in Greensboro News and Record, hopefully i can try to get the Rhino out of their cave on this issue. Have a great day.

Zack Matheny

Ed - you being a reporter/columnist should recognize that not all of the open discussion Doug and I had was printed in the article. This is simply blown out of proportion. Greensboro is different than Raleigh and Charlotte based on the amount of development and jobs that those areas have experienced versus our city. Doug and I had a conversation that lasted approximatley 15 minutes. For anyone to sit back and say that I do not respect the citizens of Greensboro's rights because Doug quoted me as saying "Greensboro is a different city" doesn't know me and just wants to be a negative part of Greensboro.

The are many reasons why Greensboro is different than Raleigh and Charlotte, and there are many reasons why I chose to live here over our sister cities. It is also a reason why I wanted to serve on our City Council. As far as my campaign contributors, I will not apologize for working hard in our community and having the support that many people I have volunteered with shared with me.

Billy The Blogging Poet

Ed said, "I think we should provide a respectful forum for an honest answer from the Councilman, rather than answering the question for him ahead of time."

Then why bother posting the question without first asking Zach What's-his-name what he meant by his statement?

Politicians need to have thick skin, remember?

The post was my way of asking the question. That's why it's titled "A question for Zack Matheny."

I think it's preferable to converse with the man rather than chasing him out of the forum by yelling for blood; this is a good moment, in which an elected official is engaging in a public discussion, let's not screw it up, huh? --EC

Billy The Blogging Poet

Zack What's-his-name said, "...Greensboro is different than Raleigh and Charlotte based on the amount of development and jobs that those areas have experienced versus our city."

But as Hugh has already stated, "Yet towns like Statesville, Fayetteville, Sanford, Roxboro, Reidsville, etc. that lack the economic success of Greensboro still respect their citizens rights."

So Zach, your answer still doesn't carry the mail.

keith brown

If you want to add another wrinkle to Zack Matheny , it also shows that he gave the George Simkins PAC $200.00, It is fun to see the roundtable of givers and shakers.

Roger Greene

Sorry Zach, but Greensboro is not so different in that the average citizen knows what a proper code of ethics should include. If you take money from someone to get elected you should recuse yourself when they come before you. You think they gave money to you just because you're such a great guy? I don't care what the wording of current city council ethics rules state, common sense and doing the right thing mean a lot to MOST of Greensboro's citizens. We'd hoped you had a concept of that, but instead you're the status quo that's rapidly running afoul of enough voters to cause a great shift in Greensboro politics.

Ed Cone

Zack, thanks for the response (not to mention the pointer on what I, endowed as I am with magic journalist telepathy powers, should know about a conversation in which I was in no way involved).

The fact is, the article cited you as a skeptic on protest petitions for Greensboro, and quoted you as saying "Greensboro is a different town."

I asked a simple question: what did you mean by that? In what way is Greensboro different from other North Carolina cities?

You have given an answer: "Greensboro is different than Raleigh and Charlotte based on the amount of development and jobs that those areas have experienced versus our city."

I appreciate the response, although I don't find it compelling. Raleigh and Charlotte are not the models of urban livability to which I hope GSO aspires. GSO seems to suffer from no shortage of real estate development projects, and its citizens should not be denied rights granted to citizens of other cities because of an alleged threat to further development; good projects should make it through the process.

And, to follow your logic, at what point do the citizens of Greeensboro deserve to have this right restored? Three years into a strong local economy? Five years? Never? We're 37 years in now, and I don't think people are thrilled with the status quo.

I have encouraged commenters here to offer a respectful environment for this conversation. I don't think it's productive to accuse you of not valuing the rights of GSO citizens, and I hope the conversation can continue on a somewhat elevated plane.

Remarks about your campaign contributors are not out of bounds, in my view, but the point has been made -- Zack has the support of a good chunk of the GSO business establishment. Got it.

A note to commenters: I'm NOT inviting the guy in here to be lynched. Let's stay on topic, tough but fair, etc.

If we want elected officials to take the time to enter these conversations -- and props to Zack for giving it a shot -- then let's not ruin it before it gets going.

Now, about those protest petitions...even some supporters acknowledge that they can be a two-edged sword. Do we trust the people of Greensboro to wield that sword responsibly, or are we truly a special case, unlike our sister cities in some fundamental ways?

keith brown

Question to Zack Matheny.
Is it fair that Greensboro is exempt from Protest Petitions and will you support a bill being passed to make Greensboro abide by North Carolina General Statute 160a-385 and 386?

jimcaserta

If the idea is that the exemption will aid growth, and not having the exmpetion will hurt growth, isn't that somewhat countered by the fact that Raleigh & Charlotte have grown faster than Greensboro over the time period the exemption has been in effect?

Cyndy Hayworth

Not ALL candidates accept questionable contributions. When I ran for City Council (2007) I received contributions from several attorneys who come before me on the Zoning Commission. I promptly returned their contributions with a personal, hand-written note, explaining that I felt it would be a conflict of interest for me to accept their donations. I did accept contributions from several attorney's that I have never seen come before the zoning commission. I can assure you that if the circumstance ever arises that I need to recuse myself from a vote, I will not hesitate to do so.

Cyndy Hayworth

Roch10

Precisely, Jimcaserta. Thanks for weighing in, Zack, but Jim points out a crucial fallacy in your logic that you might want to re-examine.

keith brown

Dear Mrs. Hayworth,
Could you please let other people that are on Boards and City Councils know that ethics and doing the right thing is a good thing.Thanks for serving on the Zoning Commission.I would have liked to see you on Greensboro City Council maybe next time we can let the voters of Greensboro just what you said about sending back contributions for conflict of interest.

David Hoggard

I agree with Ed, Zack. Your response is much appreciated but woefully lacking.

When I read the editorial I took your quoted quip to mean something like this: (not to put words in your mouth... it was just my reaction): I know Greensboro as well as the next guy and am aware of our world famous proclivity to be an obstinant bunch when it comes to some efforts at development. I've even heard it said that some citizens had some heartache over allowing a "free" baseball stadium to get built. Some have even called it the Greensboro Disease.

I took your "different" comment to obliquely warn of the possible worsening of this "disease" and the ensuing problems that might arise for developers if the citizens regain their petitioning rights.

(And for the record, on the subtext of this post... I think the idea of recusing one's self from voting on an issue because of a donation connection is ludicrous. The commenter above got it right by asking those doing the accusing about how much money they donated to which candidates. Their non responsiveness to the question is telling. Campaigns cost money.)

Billy The Blogging Poet

Jim said, "If the idea is that the exemption will aid growth, and not having the exmpetion will hurt growth, isn't that somewhat countered by the fact that Raleigh & Charlotte have grown faster than Greensboro over the time period the exemption has been in effect?"

Exactly the point and the reason Zack's answers simply don't hold any weight.

As for lynching... I own lots of rope but it appears Zack has hung himself without our help.

Spag

Ed, that was the most non-sensical non-answer to the question you posed. Really, what is the logical relationship between the ability to have a protest petition and the fact that Raleigh and Charlotte have grown faster than Greensboro? It simply does not follow.

Jim's logic is right on point.

I also am baffled as to what part of the protest petition statute is predicated upon rates of growth. The point was never to allow protest petitions only when they don't interfere with growth. In fact, logic dictates that the petition provision existed for the purpose of checking unwanted growth. If Mr. Matheny can point out where I am wrong, I hope he will do so.

I doubt you will ever get a straight answer because Greensboro is controlled by developers and that overshadows nearly everything of controversy that has happened in the past few years. The answer will always be whatever allows developers to run amok and make more money. Land is unique, which is why the appetite is never quenched. If they were as disinterested and pure in motive as they all claim, why are so many of them dominating local governments across the state?

I am not anti-development per se, but some honest answers and transparency in motives would be nice. Unfortunately, it almost always comes back to "follow the money". Mr. Matheny isn't going to tell you that he opposes the protest petition because it could stop development even if that is the truth. None of them will.

keith brown

ryan and david go to the guilford county web site and check out the contributions, all i was saying is that Mega Builders mike winstead and joseph mckinney both gave well over and i do mean well over the average donation to one candidate with that being $1,000 please show me how many other city council members got $2,000 from 2 people who had a very contentious rezoning case off of friendly avenue. It would have been a great time for him to recuse himself from the case like mike barber did , not vote like he did on the issue. Take Cyndy Hayworth for example, she sends them a note saying thanks but no thanks it is a conflict of interest. We need more cyndy's on boards and commissions.All i am doing is trying to get the people of greensboro to wake up and quit getting screwed by this exemption. Bring back PROTEST PETITION!

David Hoggard

This keeps cropping up almost every time a local official tries to try their voice in the blogging world...

If the idea is to try an convince someone to go along with your way of thinking, it usually counter-productive to beat them over the head first.

However, if the idea is to let everyone know that you are as close-minded as the object of your ire and only interested in telling someone off, then beat away.

It is no wonder that few elected officials venture out where the angels fear to tread: aka, the local blogosphere.

Ed Cone

A pile-on leading to a bail-out happened here, when Sandra Anderson-Groat confirmed that (as reported here) the City Council did hear information at a February closed session that was "not complimentary to Chief Wray."

We are not going to do that in this thread, to which elected officials have been invited, and which is about protest petitions, not Everything You Hate.

keith brown

i would love to get some comments on the Protest petition blog, please opine. I would like all views on this issue.Not many people in Greensboro are aware of this issue. This exemption for Greensboro on allowing the Protest Petition was a better kept secret that Prince Harry.
http://protestpetitiongreensboro.blogspot.com/

David Hoggard

Keith,

As much as I admire and respect Cindy, you must realize the irony you raise: namely that she didn't get elected. And it probably had to do with a lack name recognition... usually brought on by a lack of money.

A local candidate can stand on principle all they want on this issue, and I will admire them for their stance. But unless a candidate raises enough money from those who offer it, it isn't likely that I will ever call them "councilman/woman".

keith brown

david,
i see your point but i am one who likes ethics, principles, judgement and open meetings. Greensboro needs to see that there is a injustice on the part ofnot having Protest Petitions and if you read jordan green from yes weekly you would see that 37 years ago the rights of citizens of Greensboro were taken away. It is my duty to point out this injustice and to see a resolution. Which to me is a bill passing in the state legislature either in short or long session. David do you agree with me on this? If yes please help , i need everyone on board on this issue.

David Hoggard

Yes I do. I strongly support the reinstatement of the protest petition.

But you won't positively affect the eventual vote by pointing out legal campaign contributions that are distasteful to you... Let's try some reasoning and logic first (ala Jim Caserta's above) before the beatings begin.

Keith

Keith,

Thanks for taking the time to get involved in this discussion. You stated that "Greensboro is controlled by developers." If that statement were true (and I am not saying it is) then it would also be true to say that residents of Greensboro, that vote, are fine with this.

I should also point out that Milton Kern, a man who has done a ton of development in this town, lost his bid to be Mayor in 2007.

Also, I have in fact looked at many campaign finance reports and they can all be scrutinized in some way or another... but unfortunately raising money is crucial to ones success in politics.

Did you happen to donate to any of the individuals who ran for council in 2007?

Ryan

keith brown

Yes i see your point on the LEGAL campaign contributions. It is just one apsect of how blogs like these can help people understand a lot of aspects of local politics, that also means to show who gave to who's campaign . To me it do not see the Greensboro City Council ever wanting to even talk about Protest Petitions. It is my calling to try to get them to put it on the table. The only time i can see that happening is when they all get together to answer questions from citizens where the state and local politicians get together. Does anyone know when that will occur ?I remember that they had a Q and A at sometime last year.

keith brown

no

keith brown

ryan, if you would read the editorial from sunday you would see that i live in High Point

Spag

Hoggard, I think you are being a bit naive about the role that campaign contributions make in policy formulation. Maybe you don't think it is very important, but I strongly disagree.

You also wrote "It is no wonder that few elected officials venture out where the angels fear to tread: aka, the local blogosphere." In my opinion, an elected official who can't handle criticisms in the blogosphere should have picked another profession. Unless someone is actually lying about you, there is no reason an elected official should not be able to answer the concerns of other people posted in the blogs.

Do we really want transparency in elected officials or is that simply subjective? Crying about getting beat up in the blogosphere should only bother those who are beat up unjustly, and even then, that is politics and blogs are no different than any other medium in that game.

Ryan

You can still donate, no matter where you live. The point is, is that these individuals have to raise money.

This is getting a bit to much off topic and I don't want to take over Ed's thread.

Ryan

keith brown

thanks spag, i feel like i got ganged up on the campaign aspect of this issue.

Jim Rosenberg

This is a familiar crossroads. There are enough reasons to support the right to protest petitions for proponents to win the issue on its merits. It should be persuasive to say to elected officials like Zack Metheny, "Here are the valid reasons we support the right to petition, what do you say?" Instead, you can feel the momentum veering to "Here are the invalid reasons we think you aren't supporting the right, no matter what you say." It is a strategic mistake to organize this campaign around the negative proposition that developers rule Greensboro with an iron fist when the positive benefits of the petition are a winning hand. The recent Haw River debate is an encouraging example of how to get a win without polarizing the entire playing field, and should serve as an exemplar going forward for advocacy groups. I don't think it's a good sign that the current post on the protest petition blog is already implying that politicians have been bought. Why not make the argument on its merits first?

keith brown

Yes , Jim that is valid point but please tell the powers to be in Greensboro to come to the table on this issue . Either at a meeting, council time or in a timely matter. If you take the e mails from Dick Hails from the planning department and if you heard the jerk off Bill Ruska on a phone conversation on this issue of Protest Petition, you would feel like i do on this matter.

Ed Cone

What Jim said.

Also, on a side note, it's not just a question of elected officials having thick enough skin to brave the blogosphere.

It's a matter of investing time and effort in a good-will effort to have a conversation, and then being expected to fight through all kinds of gang-ups and tag-teams and side issues. If you don't respond, you look weak. If you do respond to every tangent, you'll never do anything else.

It's a matter of focus, and common respect. If we want our elected officials to join us, let's not dare them to come, let's invite them to come.

And in this case, the host is making it the rule.

People can run their own blogs as they see fit.

keith brown

all right guys thanks it has been fun and interesting. Have a good night. Talk soon

Jim Rosenberg

Keith - Fair enough; it's easy for me to talk strategy when you're on point and have been working hard. Still, I think the initiative is most likely to be successful if your express some frustration over Council's failure to take it up, but stop short of questioning their ethics. What the Haw River group did well was spend a whole lot of time and effort simply making the case for their point of view. I don't think that is anything close to being accomplished for the protest petition movement. Spend a little time explaining why it is a good idea and knocking down potential concerns.

James

Spag wrote:

I doubt you will ever get a straight answer because Greensboro is controlled by developers and that overshadows nearly everything of controversy that has happened in the past few years. The answer will always be whatever allows developers to run amok and make more money. Land is unique, which is why the appetite is never quenched. If they were as disinterested and pure in motive as they all claim, why are so many of them dominating local governments across the state?

I can't agree more. The closer I look into government choices - taxation, highway construction, environmental risks, waterfront management - the more clear it gets that Realtors and their supply chains are calling WAY too many of the shots in our state. And it's at every level. Town, city, county, region, state. Across the board, the development lobby has far too much clout.

David Hoggard

True, Sam. Donations certainly buy access, even (especially) at a local level. But I'll stop short of automatically assuming they change a person's proclivities toward favoring one position or another. In Zack's case, his record on the zoning commission indicates he leaned pro-development before he was elected. If he adopts and anti-petition stance (and I haven't hear that from him, yet), no one should be especially surprised.

There are 8 other votes in play on this. Where are they on it? My gut says the majority will side with restoring the petition. If Zack goes the other way... there is another election coming in a scant 1 1/2 years.

Ed Cone

The power of developers in GSO is not really news -- the Miami anecdote in my link ran in a newspaper column I wrote maybe ten years ago -- and it's one reason the protest petition conversation is important.

That said, I think Jim is right: we should focus on the merits -- and the possible downside -- of these petitions. That's the productive conversation at hand, and the one that seems most likely to advance the issue in the public sphere.

I think the state legislature actually votes on the change to the charter. Not sure what the role of the Council is, although having the Council on board would have to be a positive.

David Wharton

This has been an interesting discussion ... and I really would like to hear more detail from councilman Matheny.

I've had some experience with developers over the past two years, working with them on the Land Development Ordinance committee. Even though there's a wide perception that they run the city and always get their way, my impression is that they don't see it that way at all. And they've lost a number of big zoning battles recently.

In any case, I don't think that restoring the petition power will lead us into a promised land of controlled and planned growth, if Raleigh and Charlotte are any indication. As I think I commented on an earlier thread, petition power may have the effect of pushing more development out into the county where there aren't so many neighbors to protest.

And as much as I'm a believer in neighborhood activism, I've also seen neighborhoods oppose good infill development out of sheer NIMBY-ism and unwarranted fear of denser development. If you're for green development, there are grounds to oppose the petition power because it promotes sprawl.

I also wonder what the libertarians among us think about this (John Hood, are you listening?)-- after all, the petition gives neighborhoods extra power over the disposition of other people's property.

Myself, I haven't yet decided what I think about the petition power, but I don't think it's as big a deal as some would make out.

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