We need to face up to needed structural changes, and place them into
law. To do less will simply mean ultimate failure — failure to accept
responsibility for learning from the lessons of the past and
anticipating the needs of the future.
Another bit of dull visual abstraction to plug another gap now before the report segues gracefully into a bit of human interest courtesy of some dowdy man opening letters in a kitchen and explaining how he's been affected by the issue.
Thanks to alert reader PLN (who notes, accurately, that this piece is not as good as Truth in Advertising, which I can remember being passed around via email back in the dark ages before the YouTubes changed our lives 4evah).
Eight days ago, I asked about the hotel deal, "Who vets that $12.5 million valuation on the property put up as equity?"
I'm still looking for an answer to that question.
People who know about downtown real estate keep telling me that $12.5 million looks like a whole lot of money for that property.
Mike Weaver says in the Rhino that the tax value of Elm Street Center is $5.5 million, adding, "I don't know of any properties that have sold for nearly three times tax value. They can pay more for the property than it is worth because it is not their money. It's other people's money."
The equity figure would seem important in setting Skip Alston's payday as a broker.
The deal includes $30 million from the bonds.
Subtract the $1 million the Kaplan group wants for its office building (which I'm told last sold for a few hundred thousand dollars -- this is not verified information see valuations here and discussion in comments below -- thnx to Roch and alert emailer J for info). Take out whatever portion of Chisholm's $2 million fee that she gets up front, and perhaps also Alston's fee, and whatever other costs are associated with this big project.
How much will it cost to actually build the hotel? If that number is less than $30 million minus non-construction costs, what happens to the rest of the bond money?
One other issue generating buzz: will the hotel get a sweetheart deal on parking spaces in the proposed city deck? That possibility is irritating other downtown business owners.
My father introduced me to Holst's "The Planets" after hearing something in the Led Zeppelin song "Friends" (he had probably come upstairs to tell me to turn it down) that reminded him of that earlier work.
[W]hen a venerable European central banker, a man whose very bearing
connotes the old capitalist values, told me privately that he is now
convinced that the financial system is too important to be left to the
free market, I knew we were wandering into new territory.
Democrats and good-government advocates have been quick to warn of a
flood of new corporate money entering American politics. But with
campaigns already awash in corporate cash, some Democratic political
pros doubt we'll notice much difference.
Widely overlooked in the hotel hoopla (and obscured behind the Biz Journal paywall) is Steve Ivey's article about the bonds that would finance the project: "[I]nvestors are likely to have a healthy appetite for the tax-exempt notes," Ivey reports. Institutions assembling big bond portfolios will include some risky stuff in the mix.
If there's a market, there will be a seller. And that would seem to meet the state's threshold for approval.
So if the developers can find a way to finesse the HVS report -- another document too-much ignored amidst the noise -- it looks like we're going to get a new hotel downtown.
Bridget Chisholm knows how to work the system. She got her plan for a plan into the machine on deadline, outfoxing some smart local hoteliers in the process.
She partnered with local businessmen who will use bond money to goose an ailing investment and take cash out in the bargain. She gets paid. Skip Alston gets paid.
Who laughs last?
UPDATE: I forgot another masterstroke by Chisholm: she purchased local political clout by giving an equity stake in the as-yet-unbuilt project to a neighborhood group that represents a neighborhood in which the building will not be built. Will the Ole Asheboro group be able to take cash out of the deal, too?
"Tax credits are one of those things that lots of people talk about but only a few people understand," writes John Hammer, who should have just walked downstairs to Hoggard's shop for a simple explanation.
Scrutinizing the Pentagon budget: "$382 billion has nothing directly to do with the wars we're fighting
right now. That doesn't mean it's unnecessary or unjustified; maybe
some of it is, maybe some of it isn't. But it's not the stuff of life
and death, like the other parts of the budget—Social Security,
Medicare, and Medicaid—that Obama wants to exclude from the freeze. It
should be subject to the same discipline—the same line-by-line,
page-by-page analysis—as the rest of the budget."
"That depresses the hell out of me," my dad used to say, and when I finally figured out that he sounded like Holden Caulfield he said, "Where do you think I got it?," and I realized that my sensitive, phony-phobic father had been 18 when Catcher in the Rye came out, and it made me feel kind of tender and protective of him.
Don't worry, his favorite book was Catch-22.
Special thanks to Tex Wood, who taught his students much that was not on the curriculum, for introducing me to Seymour Glass.
Here's the rub: this is a math problem, not a racial issue.
Last time I checked, Randall Kaplan and George House were white. I'm a lot more interested in finding out how much cash they can pull out of this deal than I am in their skin tone.
Anybody who begrudges Alston and Hayes their economic interest in the hotel project on the basis of race is an asshole.
Objecting to Alston and Hayes playing the race card to obscure their economic interests in the project, and to Alston using his political muscle to advance a project for which he gets paid, is fair game.
Everyone understands that Quaintance and Weaver have an economic interest in this debate. Pointing that out is not racist, either, but it doesn't undermine their request for transparency.
As I've said before, I'd love to see a great new downtown hotel. Show me the numbers that justify this project, and I'm a cheerleader.
Black ownership? Great.
From my upcoming column: "[The issue of] economic justice for all people is very real, and one that became a major concern of Martin Luther King, Jr., as basic civil rights became law."
But: "Unfounded charges of racism are not just unfair, they give cover to racists and people who want to pretend for political reasons that race is no longer a factor in American life."
The City Council plans to reconsider Stratton Development’s rezoning request for the corner of North Elm and Cornwalls on Tuesday, February 2; the revised plan will include 14 townhouses.
Some key points from the neighborhood group's latest update:
*Rental homes may have been bought in anticipation of further rezoning along Elm and in the Wrenn/Newlyn neighborhood. There is
concern that approval of this rezoning could lead to further spot
*Neighbors are working on a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay (NCO) to prevent ad hoc zoning changes and guide future development. An NCO can give developers and residents confidence in the future.
*Because protests petitions are in force, a three-quarters
majority of voting council persons will be required to approve rezoning. Perkins cannot vote because of his interest
in the property. Vaughan cannot vote
because of her husband’s representation of the neighborhoods. With only seven Council people voting, two voting in the negative would defeat the project. If defeated, developers cannot ask for the
same rezoning for one calendar year.
*The Council must reconsider the rezoning
conditions which were defeated last December...It is not clear that Council can or will approve substituting the new conditions for the ones defeated in December.
Doug Clark blasts Skip Alston, invoking Easley henchman Ruffin Poole as "a lesson of what can happen when a government official lets greed overtake his duty to give honest service to the public."
The only recall that needs to occur here is for the other members of
the board of commissioners to recall Alston as their chairman. They
should be ashamed to leave him in that position.
Jordan Green reports that Deena Hayes is looking for white supporters in her battle with hoteliers and "the media."
Joe Killian reports from the bond authority meeting, where the board said, Show us the money, and the hotel developer's lawyer said, nah, you don't need to know the details, and hotel investor George House got irked at Mike Weaver. UPDATE: The print headline, "Bond authority wants to see letter of credit for hotel," overstates the news in the article itself; the online hed has been changed.
N&R also follows Jordan's scoop on Alston's alleged back-room tough talk, quoting Nancy Vaughan: "I think that they are strong-arming us to try to endorse a project that they are personally going to make money on."
Pope Benedict XVI: "Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis."
I enjoyed his short story collection, Tales of Manhattan, and found evidence therein for the arguments advanced by both Vidal ("Auchincloss is the only one who tells us how our rulers behave in their
banks and their boardrooms, their law offices and their clubs")and Kakutani ("his narrative lacks a necessary density and texture").
Jordan Green says two councilmembers, including an on-the-record Danny Thompson, tell him the Council will not reconsider its vote to authorize access to the funding process for projects approved last month.
Got her! Er, him: "Ellie Light, the ubiquitous letter writer whose name appeared in newspapers nationwide praising President Barack Obama, appears to really be a male health care worker from California."
So Basnight’s been President of a company for fifteen years – but he now says hasn’t had anything to do with it; and he told the press he resigned before the company bid on building the pier – but now it turns out his company got the contract months before he resigned.
"As elected officials, I would expect that Skip and Deena would appreciate the scrutiny that we have to give this."
Nancy Vaughan, master of the ironic jab, in Jordan Green's must-read Yes! Weekly article. That's some serious back-room strong-arming, there.
From my upcoming newspaper column, written after the protest march was canceled:
Alston took credit for defusing the situation, saying he knew it was about business, and that Quaintance and Weaver are stand-up guys on matters of race.
What really happened? Maybe Alston didn't want to mar the long-delayed opening of the museum. Maybe he just wanted to do the right thing. Maybe, as William Chafe, author of the book "Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom," said at the same Elon Law event where Romallus Murphy spoke about forgotten heroes, this is a town where the green of a dollar bill tends to trump black and white, and Alston, a successful businessman, recognizes that his own hard-earned place in the power structure gives him as much in common with the hoteliers as with Deena Hayes.
A French parliamentary panel recommended on Tuesday moves to curb the
wearing of Muslim veils in certain public facilities and suggested that
lawmakers should pass a resolution condemning the garments.
The first part is okay with Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of a group of French Muslim organizations, but the second part is pretty hostile.
Elsewhere: "Danish prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, said last week that his
government was also considering restricting the burqa and niqab. And in
November, Swiss voters supported a referendum to ban the building of
minarets on mosques."
guessing there will be plenty of evaluation of how and why this process
got so bungled and why on earth our commissioners and council didn't
understand the process, didn't take the time to understand the process
nor why they didn't pressure city staff to provide better information.
I know, I know, plenty of blame to go around, but I would like to hear
our council own up to their part rather than just pointing fingers at
To be fair, Linda Shaw has said she and her follow commissioners bear responsibility. On the other hand, Mike Weaver says staff really screwed up, and a smart lawyer told me that city and county attorneys should have been crystal clear on the issues before they were discussed.
The spending freeze would affect only about one-eighth of the nation's
$3.5 trillion budget, the bulk of which is devoted to entitlement
programs...It would not
restrain funding for the $787 billion economic stimulus package [...] nor would it apply to a new
bill aimed at creating jobs...It is also unlikely to affect the approximately $900 billion
[T]he recent Supreme Court decision gives foreigners basically an unfettered right to spend money on US elections -- China, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Russia, take your pick. The majority tried to paper over this. But now foreign corporations, foreign individuals and even foreign governments can use corporations as pass-throughs to spend millions or tens of millions of dollars supporting their candidate of choice in a US election.