In 2007 I finally got around to reading The Quiet American and then devoted a newspaper column to the similarities between Graham Greene's prescient view of Vietnam and our then-ongoing misadventures in Iraq.
Now we're up to the part of the story where Fowler, the jaded Brit, sees the next disaster coming:
"We go and invade the country; the local tribes support us: we are victorious: but like you Americans we weren't colonialists in those days. Oh no, we made peace with the king and we handed him back his province and left our allies to be crucified and sawn in two...We shall do the same thing here. Encourage them and leave them with a little equipment...
It was so much more fun when we were being greeted as liberators.
So, obviously this map of the "most liberal and most conservative towns In each state" is click-bait and includes odd methodological choices like comparing major cities and small towns, but, still, beyond the fact that any North Carolinian is bound to say, "really? Not Chapel Hill?", I think they probably got it close to right on dear old GSO.
In contrast to today, Americans in the Gilded Age openly recognized the connection between monopoly power and inequality. They enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, and the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act in 1914, to safeguard themselves from concentrated economic power, which they believed posed a threat akin to political autocracy.
Political power is not the only power to be feared, and sometimes it's a necessary bulwark against corporate power. This is a deeply American idea --Jefferson understood it -- from which we've veered in a radical direction.
Another angle, this one with a surprising local connection: "The decisions culminate a thirty-year trend during which the judiciary, including initially some prominent liberal jurists, has moved to eliminate courts as a means for ordinary Americans to uphold their rights against companies."
[L]egislators in North Carolina — whose $86 billion public pension fund is the 7th largest in America – are proposing to statutorily bar the public from seeing details of the state’s Wall Street transactions for at least a decade. That time frame is significant: according to experts, it would conceal the terms of the investment agreements for longer than the statute of limitations of various securities laws.
The whole shadow banking thing worked out well in 2008, didn't it?
Your state’s decision not to expand health coverage is creating two Americas: one where millions are benefiting from preventive care and covered treatments while local economies get stronger and healthier by the day; and another where patients continue to show up to emergency rooms without a way to pay and the local economies are falling further and further behind.
Kay Hagan signs a letter to governors, including our own, from states that have not accepted Medicaid expansion.
The letter is about Medicaid, but refers directly to the ACA. Hagan needs to hammer home the message that burgeoning healthcare coverage = ACA = Obamacare = no exclusion for pre-existing conditions etc.
And she should emphasize the importance of personal stories and personal responsibility. As long as people are going to get healthcare in some way -- and they are, and they should -- they should have some way of paying for it.
Related: "Ms. Marks had a hole in her tooth this winter, she said, and went to the emergency room. They gave her a painkiller and a bill for $600, which she has ignored. The tooth remains so damaged that she can chew on only one side of her mouth."
Our system -- and those of us with private insurance -- are paying for this kind of inadequate care already. Rationalizing payment and delivery is the smart and humane way to go.
Councilman Tony Wilkins wants the city to consider creating a year-round International Restaurant Row to promote existing and future restaurants on High Point Road in Greensboro.
Makes sense to me to recognize and support one of the good things already happening in GSO, improve our brand in the process.
Best to do it in a way that addresses concerns raised by Luck Davidson in the article, and is respectful of work already underway on this front and mindful of business owners in other parts of the city.
Annie Penn Hospital president Mickey Foster and vp of nursing & patient services Debbie Green gave a presentation at this huge Cleveland Clinic conference on the topic of "99th Percentile in Employee Engagement and Its Impact on Clinical Quality."
If I worked in the local paid media I'd think about using that national recognition to set up a story about the Reidsville hospital and the good things happening there.
Periodic reminder: Typepad's spam filter occasionally gushes spam, and then gets overly restrictive; it's in the latter phase again now, so apologies if your comment got hung up while I was doing Things Other Than Blogging TM over the long weekend. Commenter Hugh wins the Memorial Day prize for most wrongly-held comments, although over time the machine seems to hate my comments most of all.
Martin tells Sykes he plans to keep a low profile until the settlement is final. His current post at a new blog takes aim at a prominent local developer with the headline "Marty Kotis: Dumbass."
More from the kinder, gentler Martin here (do not click the link to the Fecund Stench blog in Gauger's post -- it's an abandoned and unsafe address).
If the goal of the legal action was to limit conversation about the business dealings and past transgressions of prominent local Tea Partiers, it was a failure. Even some of the content the plaintiffs deemed most offensive, although disappeared from Martin's blog, lives on in the public sphere via the lawsuit.
Typepad has been a reliable host for this blog for many years, but yesterday's prolonged outage was the second in about a month. Not good. Neither was the company's communication with customers. Would hate to leave you, Typepad, but will if I must.
Jeff Gauger nails it in this morning's column about the defamation suit against local blogger Jeff Martin, aka Fecund Stench, by founders of a local Tea Party group: The core issue is the right of Americans to say terrible things, not the terribleness of the things Martin writes.
Gauger makes a good case that the plaintiffs are public figures. He necessarily rehashes the backstory about strip clubs and sex offenses, facts the controversy has enshrined in Google searches forever.
And he cites some posts the plaintiffs claim to be over the legal line, including a prize-worthy line about Jodi Riddleberger founding Conservatives for Guilford County with “wads of bills still damp from the garters of strippers” and a reference to the imaginary malady of "erectile narcolepsy." These quotes presumably are cribbed from the lawsuit, through which at least some of Fec's material will live on long after the blog itself is gone.
Bonus points to the N&R editor/publisher for including as an example of Martin's scabrous tone his own on-site nickname, "Wet Fart Gauger."
One reader who thought less of the column than I did: Martin, as explained at his new blog.
As part of the settlement terms, Martin would have to agree not to speak publicly about Douglas or Isabella Adkins, or C4GC co-founder, Jodi Riddleberger.
Riddleberger contributes a column to the local daily. Could Martin write an LTE about it? Join a comment thread someone else started about it? Jodi is very active in local politics -- if she said or did something on behalf of CFGC, is that off-limits?
Both Jodi Riddleberger and Isabella Adkins have public Facebook profiles and post frequent photos of themselves, often dressed up in costumes or in formal attire...The settlement terms require that Martin not publish photographs that might be considered private.
"Might be considered private" by whom? Is a photo published on a public profile private?
This thing's got more holes than that book about the kid who had to dig all those holes (it was called Holes).
At issue in the lawsuit: satirical blog posts in which Martin mocked the fact that members and financial backers of Conservatives for Guilford County, a Tea Party-inspired political action committee, include the owner of area strip clubs and a convicted sex offender.
Analysis: "[T]he lawsuit’s real damage could be to political candidates associated with the group."
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, who herself has been mocked by Martin’s blog in the past, said he can be crude and insulting — but that’s sometimes the cost of free speech.
“Jeff Martin’s style is parody. It’s satire,” Vaughan said. “Sometimes it’s very funny. Sometimes it’s not. But people didn’t take the things he wrote seriously. This group is only hurting itself with this lawsuit. It’s very ill-advised, just silly really.
Martin, who blogs under the pseudonym, Fecund Stench, lampooned Isabella Adkins and the group Conservatives for Guilford County often using a fictional character to relay experiences from the Greensboro strip-club scene.
The character, Tami Tightenloud, was described as a "dwarf, transvestite Hooters waitress" who would often find herself at strip clubs in Greensboro after hours. It was during these fictional encounters that Martin often wrote about members of C4GC.
The plaintiffs' lawyer on his clients:
“They are quiet people,” attorney Culbertson said. "They are not trumpeters of a lot of negativity, unlike other people around here."
The first thing I said to Jeff Martin when he told me he was being sued was that his discomfort, expenses, marriage and livelihood were not my own, and so any advice I might have for him about fighting the suit was of limited value compared to his own needs and feelings.
Still true. So I have to respect his decision to settle and, as I understand it, shutter the Fecund Stench blog and refrain from writing about the Adkins and Riddlebergers in the future.
But, still, dammit.
I hate to see a writer get bullied into silence, especially when his case seems so winnable, and he has ample legal resources and offers of funding at his disposal.
All that said, it's hard to see how this ends up as a win for the plaintiffs and CFGC.
The details of their personal lives and business that have percolated in the blogosphere for some time now will be in the N&R and Yes! Weekly tomorrow, and the damage to CFGC will be real.
The candidate they championed, Mark Walker, will be backing away quickly from their embrace, even as he's asked to explain his financial support of the organization and his relationship to the litigants; it's hard to imagine that attack ads leveraging those relationships are not on the way.
So, lose-lose. Fitting, in a way, but kind of a drag.
Jeff Martin has contacted attorney Ron Coleman of the Media Bloggers Association, which provides pro bono legal aid to bloggers; Coleman has written the plaintiffs' attorney, Krispen Culbertson, urging him to agree to a swift, cooperative resolution.
The suit can't be welcome news to Mark Walker, who just forced a surprise runoff against Phil Berger Jr. in the 6th congressional district GOP primary. Walker, a former pastor from GSO, recently praised CFGC for its role in his campaign: "The endorsement of Conservatives for Guilford County helped his campaign, Walker said, both in the organization’s approval and in the shoe leather invested by its members on his behalf."
The N&R weighs in with a pop-gun report that manages not to link the Yes! Weekly article that broke the news, or to the lawsuit itself, or to make the connection to its own article about Walker. No link necessary.
"The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable."
Fortunately, our state is totally prepared: "After promoters of coastal development attacked a science panel’s prediction that the sea would rise 39 inches higher in North Carolina by the end of this century, the General Assembly passed a law in 2012 to put a four-year moratorium on any state rules, plans or policies based on expected changes in the sea level."
I'm not a lawyer, but I've seen the lawsuit and this looks like a very heavy lift for the plaintiffs.
Fec's stuff is often scabrous (even when it's not written in the voice of fictional transvestite Hooter's waitress Tami Tightenloud, as I believe to have been the case for at least some of the offending posts) but that doesn't mean public figures can shut him up.
At his best, Fecund Stench is Guilford County's own, digital H.L. Mencken (and like Mencken, his use of racial and religious stereotypes can be an issue). At his not-best, duck.
Unfortunately, he disappeared his blog when the suit was served. I hope it can be reconstructed.
I'd expect a legal defense fund to be established for Martin if this goes on much further.
Owning it at last, and taking the fight to Tillis.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) used her time to trumpet the benefits of Medicaid expansion -- and emphasize the downside of not expanding.
Left unsaid, but strongly implied, was that her opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, who locked up the GOP nomination earlier this week, had been instrumental in stopping the state from expanding Medicaid under the law.
"Last year in North Carolina, our state legislature and governor decided against expanding the state's Medicaid program," Hagan said as she started her questioning, "and as a result, about 500,000 people who would have qualified for coverage through Medicaid are not now able to do so."
Meanwhile, the Tillis campaign this morning sent out a rambling email about Hagan and Obamacare and how Tillis doesn't think Obamacare is a great idea even though Hagan said he does and Hagan is running away from it anyway.
That last part may no longer be the case, which would be great.
Ten years ago I wrote that "gay people can already have religious services to celebrate their unions at amenable houses of worship, with everything but the ;by the power vested in me by the State...' part. They can enjoy the ceremonial consecration of their relationship..."
One of the heinous things about Amendment One is that it took away that religious freedom, too.
Thanks, United Church of Christ, for taking this to court: "In a novel legal attack on a state’s same-sex marriage ban, a liberal Protestant denomination on Monday filed a lawsuit arguing that North Carolina is unconstitutionally restricting religious freedom by barring clergy members from blessing gay and lesbian couples."
Number-crunching without context is of limited value.
The voter-turnout analysis certainly looks grim for Hagan -- but the article ignores some key factors that might influence turnout.
Like, say, the long-running and highly-visible protest movement against the GOP regime in Raleigh, and the underlying ire upon which that movement is built. Hagan could well have a more motivated base in 2014 than is typical of off-year elections, and a sophisticated GOTV machine to activate it.
Writer Nate Cohn seems to be looking at statistics in a vaccum (he also ignores factors like the extreme dysfunction of the NCDP, and the influence of outside money). The raw numbers tell a story, but they don't tell the whole story.
Following on yesterday's post about GSO's opportunity to be a part of AT&T's new broadband rollout -- and the importance of that infrastructure to our economic development -- the last I heard is that AT&T is "interested in working with communities that appreciate the value of the most advanced technologies and are willing to encourage investment by offering solid investment cases and policies," and that "Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said Monday she hasn’t heard from AT&T."
I assume she's picked up the phone since then.
Beyond that, what's the plan?
GSO actually did a pretty good job of courting Google during the national contest to host its big fiber network.
That courtship generated serious, sustained attention across the community, with organization at the highest level and energy from the grassroots. A key consideration then was not focusing on what Google could do for us, but what we could do for Google -- and letting the company know, in detail.
Time to get the band back together again.
I didn't see anything about this in Friday's report from the City Manager. That was disappointing.
Madame Mayor, please let us know your plan, and what we can do to help bring this necessary project to town.
This is a potentially tragic turning point in American politics and policy. We are on the verge of turning over the internet – the most important communications system ever invented– to telecoms that grew huge through the government granting them monopoly status. Barring a genuine shift in policy or a court stepping in to ensure fair treatment of captive customers – or better yet, genuine competition – companies like Verizon and Comcast will have staggering power to decide what bits of information reach your devices and mine, in what order and at what speed. That is, assuming we're permitted to get that information at all.
Do we want an open internet? Do we want digital innovation and free speech to thrive? If we continue down the regulatory road pursued by the former cable and wireless industry lobbyist [and FCC chair] Tom Wheeler, all of those good things will be in serious jeopardy.
Worse, when Dan says "the telecom cartel has frantically worked to get state legislatures to prevent [communiity broadband networks] from existing," well, that frantic work was effective in North Carolina. Our econ dev and political leadership in GSO missed an opportunity to build out some rare and important infrastructure while they could.
But we are where we are. And where we are looks somewhat better than it did just few days ago, because we are maybe in line for some serious broadband service from AT&T (caveat: "Before anyone gets too excited, AT&T isn't promising that it will actually build in any or all of these cities.")
And AT&T is making nice noises about competition with the cable giants. So, good.
Kay Hagan needs a really good Get Out The Vote effort to hold onto her seat.
More than a year ago, she assured me her campaign would build on the formidable GOTV machine built by Obama in 2008. That seems to be happening.
But the GOP has put a lot of resources into catching up with the Democrats in terms of technology. While I'm sure the Democrats have not been standing still, closing tech gaps -- or even leap-frogging them, as the Democrats did between 2000 and 2008 -- is very doable.
And the best GOTV tech won't overcome a lack of enthusiasm.
Here's where Hagan has an advantage some of her Senatorial peers may lack. North Carolina progressives are highly pissed off at the GOP regime in Raleigh. They're looking for reasons to love the moderate Hagan.
The plan was that states would expand Medicaid coverage to more uninsured people, and hospitals would offset some of their reduced revenue through the increased volume of patients paid for by Medicaid. But North Carolina has not expanded Medicaid coverage, which means Cone Health and others are being paid less while still caring for the nearly 80,000 uninsured in Guilford County alone.
This has had an impact on access to health care in our immediate area. For example, Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine closed a major clinic that provided care for adults and reduced services for infants and children. Our response to the loss of this vital service was to partner with our pediatric teaching service to open Cone Health Center for Children, which will help care for nearly 40,000 uninsured children in our community. We plan to open a facility for adults later this spring. Still, the numbers are daunting. Cone Health provided $245 million last year in care for which we didn’t get paid. That’s nearly $60 million more than the year before. How can we keep that up?
And of course the human costs are even higher than the financial ones.
Greensboro is fortunate to have a strong, locally-controlled health system (disclosure: I am still on its board) and to have had Tim Rice running the show during tumultuous times.
Read the whole article for a sense of the issues facing hospitals -- the two-midnight rule is another tough one -- and some of the local responses to them.
The numbers aren't just better than they were this winter, they're better than many supporters of the ACA allowed themselves to hope they would be.
The law is far from perfect. The rollout has not been flawless, either, even beyond the deliberate sabotage inflicted upon it in many states.
But at this point, the unreconstructed failure narrative -- the essential GOP talking point of the past few years, rising in volume with the website fiasco late last year -- sounds like a press conference conducted by Baghdad Bob.
None of which necessarily gets Kay Hagan reelected.
But the good news on ACA -- which is to say, good news on healthcare and good news for millions of Americans -- doesn't just give Kay the green light on those Hal Riney-esque ads I've been pitching.
It creates a nasty wedge issue to use against her eventual opponent.
As noted here, "GOP [...] strategists have started to hint that flat opposition - repeal with no alternative that provides something like the same range of benefits - may no longer be viable from a political standpoint."
My guess is that a lot of hardcore Obamacare-haters in NC are not ready for that reality. So if Tillis is the nominee and mouths some ACA-lite platitudes, the base will be furious; if he tries a harder line, he risks his credibility with the rest of the voters.
And if Tillis is not the nominee, Hagan's chances look better from the start.
Kay Hagan owns Obamacare in this year's Senate campaign, so she should make the most of it.
In February, I wrote that "Obamacare will need to maintain the momentum it's gained for this campaign to work, so pushback ads probably can't run until April."
So, April, and the numbers look pretty good. I'd start running ads now. Feel-good stories about the stuff even GOP strategists know they can't roll back -- families with insurance, people with pre-existing conditions who got coverage, and so on. Positive positive positive. Like an old Hal Riney spot for Reagan, or a Coke commercial.
Meanwhile, Hagan's eventual opponent is about to be the victim of some serious elephant-on-elephant violence, If she's lucky, this will continue into an ugly and expensive run-off. If the GOP survivor is an unrepentant ACA repealer, the changing healthcare narrative presents a problem; if the nominee is more in the Richard Burr Obamacare-lite mold, the base will be furious. (A local version of this drama is reviewed here.)
Last time around, Hagan surprised much of the country by winning a race she was supposed to lose, but it wasn't such a shock if you paid attention along the way. Early days, but it looks like it could happen again.
When Brian Clarey raided his former employer to staff his new paper, Yes! Weekly seemed destined to become a listings rag supported by strip-club ads. Instead, publisher Charles Womack brought in the thoughtful and web-savvy Jeff Sykes to run editorial, and suddenly GSO has three alt-weeklies. None are great right now, but maybe as they find their voices and sharpen their foci we'll see them push each other to new heights. Certainly Uncle Warren's daily could benefit from the competition.
Anyway, Sykes followed up the fight over disclosing salaries at City-funded non-profits with some details on the compensation of Mike Barber, who opposed the transparency proposal. I don't think there's any real a-ha in the relationship between the City, the Wyndham golf tourney, Barber's golf charity, and the proposed Wyndham hotel downtown, but the whole package gives off a whiff of cozy old-boyism (for example, tourney director Mark Brazil is listed as treasurer of Barber's organization on the 2012 IRS form).
It does look like our local chapter of The First Tee spends an awfully high percentage of the money it raises on salaries. Maybe the value the organization delivers justfies the expense ratio; Barber says as much here.
In that same email, Barber makes allegations about public drunkeness by Yes! contributor George Hartzman, which Barber says explains Hartzman's hostility to him. But ol' BS George has been playing this game for years. In fact, he's done some sloppy work re Barber's non-profit at his blog.
First, he words his headline to make it apppear that the total executive compensation listed on the 990 is Barber's personal compensation, although you can see clearly on p. 8 that the total includes compensation for both Barber and his executive director. Worse, his headline number is twice as big as it should be, because he's adding the total compensation to its three sub-components listed in the columns next to it on p. 10 (when he says "$121,458 + $54,041 + $37,230 + $30,187 = $242,916," he really means "$121,458 = $54,041 + $37,230 + $30,187") and, as just noted, he implies that this wrong number goes to one person instead of two. (Mr. Transparency has now edited the post without comment to remove some of his more embarrassing errors, but fortunately the screen-cap above shows his work.)
This incorrect analysis has been parroted already by at least one local blogger, so it would be good to shut it down quickly. Hartzman makes much of his skill at reading financal documents, but any such abilities are not on display here.
Joe Guarino comes out swinging against outside money in the NC Senate race, calling the massive infusion of cash "profoundly wrong and unjust on several levels."
The 17th Amendment to the constitution clearly intends that the people of North Carolina choose their United States Senator. Our extraconstitutional party system determines who the major nominees will be. It is terribly wrong that out-of-state, wiser-than-thou national party bosses have such a disproportionate influence on choosing the state's nominee. This is supposed to be for Carolinians to decide.
To be clear, Joe is pissed about Karl Rove funding Thom Tillis, but I'm sure the same logic applies to those Koch-financed anti-Hagan ads and the general election. (Sidenote: I rarely see North Carolinians refer to themselves as "Carolinians.")
Joe's a Brannon man. I've seen Brannon supporters, like Palin fans before them, say Democrats pay so much attention to their favorites because they fear them. Trust me on this one: North Carolina Democrats are rooting for Brannon just as hard as Joe is. This GOP primary is Kay Hagan's dream scenario; combined with her ability to run against Raleigh and the improving ACA story, her seat looks a lot safer than it did a few months back.
I don’t understand the arguments against Tony Wilkins’ request for more transparency into executive compensation at non-profits that receive money from the City. I know the City already gets reports on total salaries for these organizations, and that it’s easy enough to access individual salary info that’s already public via IRS form 990. I just don’t see how those facts make the request for further data unreasonable.
Does Wilkins know something embarrassing about non-profit pay in GSO, or is he just fishing? Are his colleagues worried about him exposing something in particular, or are they reacting to what they perceive as grandstanding by Wilkins? Neither possibility is a good reason to limit information. If it's really not good policy, someone should be able to make that case.
Not unrelated: Eric Robert has become a valuable advocate for transparency on the DGI board while going beyond showboating to outright hostility toward the downtown Old Guard he seems to perceive as personal enemies. His proposed sunlight measures should be discussed openly (some guidelines for non-profit transparency here and here). Meanwhile, kicking him off the board would make DGI look thin-skinned and uninterested in change, no matter how obnoxious he’s been in meetings and on his blog. And it may be what he wants, in which case making him serve out his term without giving him the thrill of martyrdom looks like an even better plan.
The High Point University chapter of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity had its charter revoked by the board of directors of the national fraternity.
This is the chapter where HPU student Robert Eugene Tipton Jr. was a pledge when he died two years ago. That terrible event led to a recently-filed lawsuit, but national Executive Director Patrick F. Jessee tells me "the decision to revoke the charter was not related to the tragic death of Mr. Tipton or any threats of litigation." Jessee says the board acted on March 17, 2014, prior to the filing of the lawsuit by Tipton's mother, and informed the Delta Zeta chapter six days later.
Other sources close to the HPU chapter say the revocation followed a raucous recent party, which came after multiple warnings to the chapter about unsanctioned activities.
Note re the Tipton case that lawsuits are one-sided documents. That's not a judgement of the suit's merits, just the nature of the beast.
The News & Record runs a feature at its website billed as an "Online Poll." Although it appears to be part of the news coverage, the tool is unscientific: The sample population is self-selected (that is, anyone who shows up can participate) but also limited to people who use computers and visit that particular site at a given time. And it's easy to manipulate: I just voted several times, raising the dark green bar in the image at left, and a coordinated group effort to direct voting could dictate outcomes. This is not a robust method of measuring public opinion, it's infotainment.
So, not great. But things get worse when the results of these pretend polls are touted by the paper's reporters via social media, without any caveats. Now the infotainment is granted a new layer of legitimacy. When veteran journalist Lorraine Ahearn and I said so to N&R reporter Amanda Lehmert on Facebook, re a recent question about GSO's panhandling laws, Amanda and another commenter replied that it's understood that these things aren't scientific. Ahearn's response: "Then stop calling it a poll!"
In fact, I doubt that some readers are quite so numerate as claimed, or that they think much about methodology when they see a paper put its brand on this feature. People do cite the results without any sort of health warnings attached. Meanwhile, the N&R participates in some actual polling, in partnership with High Point University. The casual reader may not differentiate between the two.
All of this is more than inside baseball. It raises questions of accuracy, influence, and ethics. An issue like the panhandling law deserves respectful treatment, as Donna Newtwon and Sharon Hightower said in that same FB thread. By billing this online popularity contest as a poll and having its news reporters pass it along with a straight face, the News & Record risks skewing the public opinion it purports to measure, and in the process it afflicts the afflicted.
Lots of papers run stuff like horoscopes for fun, but you don't see that content in the news hole, or find reporters promoting it to readers. Jeff Gauger should label his pretend poll accurately at the N&R site, and discourage his reporters from treating it as news.
UPDATE: Alert reader Nancy points to the BizJournal, which runs a similar poll but at least adds a note saying, "This survey is not a scientific sampling, but offers a quick view of what readers are thinking." More accurate to say "some readers," but still better than the N&R.
Tonight the Greensboro city council heard nearly a dozen speakers from the floor debate a toothless resolution urging the state to expand Medicaid under the ACA. Then the council members themselves each held forth briefly on the topic before passing it by a predictable 7-2 margin, whence it was dispatched to a circular file in Raleigh.
Former mayor Bill Knight and State Rep. John Blust, both congenial as always, speak in opposition. It’s expensive. No such thing as free money. We have a lot of debt already. Hmm. That’s all true! George Hartzman makes some good points about pricing transparency, negotiated rates, and insurance companies, and also takes an odd little side trip into the economics of abortion and says something inscrutable about the price and value of human life, so, you know, George. And a nice man whose name I miss says the council shouldn’t address the issue because it’s a partisan issue.
Next come a bunch of speakers in favor of the resolution. Rabbi Guttman says non-expansion is hurting people, shutting down clinics and hospitals. Wayne Abraham makes a broad economic argument, Andy Brod a specific one (expansion will help, not hurt, the state budget). Sober words from the League of Women Voters, passionate ones from Rev. Peeples (she follows one sometimes called the great healer). Jay Poole (UNCG, social work) says vulnerable people are forced to use expensive emergency services.
Nice work, speakers from the floor.
Councilmembers speak concisely and well.
Hoffmann: “No sensible or justifiable argument" against helping the working poor.
Fox: “Morally right.”
Barber: So many of us are very fortunate, it’s hard to contemplate having to choose between the necessities of life, I support this resolution.
Johnson: Against! LOL jk.
Matheny: This is a tough one. He wants to help others. He wants a true plan for citizens in need and hopes his retired healthcare CEO friend Dennis can whip one up. But, no. (Translation: “Normally I would vote for this, but I’m running for Congress as a Republican, so I can’t. Duh.”)
Wilkins: Tough call for him, too. Appreciates the comments he’s gotten. Reads news brief saying GOP leadership in Raleigh has a plan of its own, pretends to believe that might work, and, out.
Abuzuaiter: Yes we should be involved in state issues. Let’s fix this. The perfect time to help the poor.
Hightower: Not a partisan issue, a human issue. We talk all the time about quality of life, live work and play, hard to do when you're not well. Current system "absolutely absurd."
Mayor Vaughan: We talk a lot about the at-risk population here. We're financing other states. This will save businesses money and also save hospitals and clinics. Many GOP govs have accepted, and in case you don’t believe me I will now read their names. Jan freaking Brewer, amirite?
Jeff Gauger says "many" people wanted a Trader Joe's on Friendly, while rezoning opponents were "few."
If he has any evidence to support these contentions about the relative size of the two groups, he does not offer it in this column.
He also says most rezoning opponents live near the site. Really? Opposition leaders may live nearby, but what evidence does Gauger have for his broad assertion about the demographics of this story? I don't live near the site, and I doubted the wisdom of the plan, as I did the previous attempt to spread retail development west of its current boundary.
Likewise, Gauger says there are many "fans of Trader Joe’s who don’t live close enough to Friendly Avenue and Hobbs Road to care much about more commercial development in that area." So he thinks all oppostion to sprawl is based on selfish NIMBYism and nobody has serious questions about land-use or GSO's profusion of unused retail space unless they can see it out their windows?
Here's an idea: Lots of folks from across the city would welcome Trader Joe's to town, but not at any cost or in any location. Contrary to Gauger's argument, the dispute really was not about the chain, except in the case of passionate advocates of that chain.
Which leads to another problem with the column: Gauger's roster of participants in this drama leaves out one interested party: The N&R itself. He acknowledges criticism of the paper's ludicrous front-page cheerleading for TJ, but makes no effort to justify the embarrassing article.
It's been two years since Gauger's cringe-inducing first column, which he quickly followed with something much worse. Back then, it seemed sporting to give him a bit of credit for being new to the area and not really having his bearings.