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« Helmets | Main | Endorsement »

Jul 30, 2009


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Fec the Terrible

Good point. I will stop when I see fetching realtors by the side of the road with their skirts hiked up.

I'm just a mean dog on a chain. KB is the one to really fear. He may not know everything, but he damn sure knows someone who does.


nope not far enough for me.

Fec the Terrible

This is just nuts, Ed. Talk to us again when all the incumbent developers have been returned to office.

Fec the Jihadist

If words mean things, jihad was a strange one to use. KB wants transparent governance and I want developers voted out as elected officials.

Stop being cute and get to what's really bothering you: my treatment of SAG.

Give us a history lesson as to why she's special.

Ed Cone

Just using jihad in its vernacular form to mean "spirited campaign," Fec.

As I said in my email to you, I objected to the language you used to describe any woman, not just Anderson-Groat. Also, I thought it made your post less likely to be taken seriously, and I thought it should be taken seriously.

We agree that developers have wielded too much power around here, and that their prevalence on elected boards is problematic.

I'm asking, in all sincerity, how much pushback against real estate interests is enough? This is a question for all my readers, and, I hope, for all voters. No developers on the council or commission? Some, but not as many?

I linked to your blog, and to Keith's, because I think you guys are raising some important issues that people around here have been slow to grasp. Not sure how my post came across otherwise to you, but then again I'm reminded frequently of my limitations as a communicator.

David Wharton

If you think the city council should be representative of the economy, then consider that the building and real estate industry accounts for about 5% of the NC economy.

So that metric would yield less than half a developer on the council.

Ed Cone

I think the issue tends more toward potential conflicts of interest than some sort of representative formula.

I've told it many times before: my friend, a real estate investor, visited town and said, wow, in most places developers just put their pawns in place, here they serve openly.

Fec the Jihadist

I'm cool. My only concern it that KB doesn't get painted with the same brush as me. We use totally different tactics.

Ed Cone

Fair enough. But it says something that two different bloggers have come to something close to the same conclusion, with others, including me, agreeing with at least some of your agendae.

I want to help take this issue mainstream, and get people talking about it.

Fec the Jihadist

Politics ain't easy. I, for instance, have no problem with Jim Kee or any other black developer. KB is completely unbiased.

As to going mainstream, good luck with that. Nobody cares.

Ed Cone

Nobody cared about protest petitions, either, until they did.

The organizational muscle developed in various zoning fights might be utilized again. Issues like the urban loop get attention, too.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.


well jordan green from yes weekly has chimed in as well with a article out this week,


YOu should see the comments at triadwatch and the first time since the blog has been in on since summer of last year , i have had to delete comments.

It has struck a nerve and it needs to .

We will see what happens this fall and if anyone of the incumbents can be defeated or will it be business as usual. There are some campaign platforms for some to take with and as we saw back in January there was not one sitting council member who wanted to be on the side of denying the citizens of greensboro the right to protest petition.

Fec the Jihadist

We're definitely the shock troops.

Gandhi. Ouch.


It's not just the developers, it is the incumbents, period. I mean, I had to keep my food down when I heard Robbie P. toss Rocco Scarfone's name into the hat for a candidate for the planning board. There is so little leadership, creativity or innovation coming from anyone on the council.


"Nobody cared about protest petitions, either, until they did. "

Out on a limb but I'd bet the grass roots pushing the protest petition live closer to downtown and are more worried about Walgreens(I just saw the Golden Gate monstrosity for the first time last night) and other retail or high density urban housing than the folks who live in outlying areas, in particular newer areas that have been developed (past 15 years or so) Point is, people only care when it potentially affects them in a significant manner.

Steve Harrison

"most places developers just put their pawns in place, here they serve openly."

Not trying to draw the focus away from Greensboro/Guilford, but this really is a state-wide problem. Regardless of their "declared" occupation, a whole bunch of General Assembly members are (also) developers. They might be partners in a condo project or a single-family "Glen" somewhere, or they're holding a half-dozen parcels of land, or their spouse is an attorney that specializes in development partnerships and/or closings, etc.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, there's Developers and developers, and getting the big "D" types out of office isn't going to (necessarily) improve land use practices or private property concerns.


The pagan fatalism model indicates that if you guys go through the wash/rinse hegemon/oligarch/pathocrat cycle one more time, the beehive will be productive and happy with what they have. The heroes of the last bull market are always the scapegoats for the current bear market. ~ Guy de Mo'feau

Ed Cone

Hugh, I think you're right that a lot of folks care about (or focus on) stuff that hits close to home.

The urban loop hits a lot of people close to home, and the situation is big news across the city. And I think the general mood toward developers has soured of late.

One thing the web has done is connect people in different parts of the city, letting them know that they aren't alone in their neighborhood zoning fights. Throw in good government activists and various other motivations, and you might have the makings of a movement.

I'm not predicting the defeat of all developers, and in fact I'm uncertain that they all need to go -- there are some talented folks out there. But I think this is emerging as a campaign issue, now and into the future.


The web is changing the face of everything. Folks that once had the "good ole' boy" business model locked up and were once able to pull the wool over folks eyes whom had a legitimate right to file grievances on issues that were slid under the table or filed at the last minute; processes that are legal but traditionally performed at the last minute to limit opposition are now under the microscope by the citizenry and brought to light using legal remedies.

It's the demise of their antiquated business model that is the source of their squealing whine.


It seems like people want developers to fail. I'm just wondering what the reasons for the general feel I get from reading this blog and several others. We should be encouraging responsible development. A system is only as good as those who operate it. We want good officials and good developers.


Keith Brown knows nothing.


Hugh, your right. If its not a developer, its a wallstreet "fat cat". The fact of the matter is that we will sacrifice anyone who's in the public eye, albeit a developer or a public official. Reality is that we need both public leaders and developers alike. As I see it, the burden is always going to be on the public official rather than the private business. Pubic officials represent the public, while businesses represent their own interest. If the officials give business an inch, they will take; who wouldn't? After all, businesses' eye is on the bottom dollar, public officials' eye is supposed to be on the public.

Steve Harrison

"If the officials give business an inch, they will take; who wouldn't?"

Right, but when a businessman is also a public official, he might be tempted to give himself more than just an inch.

Fec the Jihadist

Welcome to the TREBIC members. Developers are going to fail no matter what we wish. Actually, developers aren't the enemy. They have the motive to get sausage-making done. It's the apathetic and thus ignorant electorate who are to blame. And no one can say that the absence of developers will result in better governance. What we want instead is more transparency.

Ed Cone

I don't want developers to fail, nor do I see the need to demonize an entire industry.

I do see problems with too much control of the political process by the real estate industry.

My questions in the post are meant seriously: how much rollback is needed, and how much might be too much?

Seems like a healthy conversation to me.


seems like a healthy conversation to me too but as you can see by alex , i don't know crap.Thank you alex.

Ed Cone

We could all use thicker skins and softer voices.

Steve Harrison

"I do see problems with too much control of the political process by the real estate industry."

You got that right. Largest source of campaign contributions statewide, not to mention the tens of millions they spent defeating transfer tax initiatives. But they get their money's worth. In the middle of a huge budget deficit, while the GA and Gov's office are battling over cutting and taxing, a tax break for realtors sails through the General Assembly with a 106-8 vote.

I don't want to demonize the entire industry either, Ed. But we started taking a real close look at the magnitude and dangers associated with non-source point pollution from development-related stormwater runoff, and came up with some really good ideas to abate it, almost forty fricking years ago, and developers have been ignoring or fighting those techniques all along. And now many of our lakes (including Jordan) are distressed, and they're still fighting to keep from having to develop properly.

I may be off on a tangent, bitching about things that may be of little (or no) concern to many reading this, but that in itself is a shame.


Eddy: Good and evil is close. But most 16 year olds who are homeschooled across the country recognise the model. Why it's not taught in government schools..who knows. This is the model: When government injects money into what they call the economy, it causes changes. The initial change is called a hot spot or Deliberate Cone. This is a region or group receiving money from central planning. The other change is the Accidental Cone(yes, both have your name in it). This is the region and group who receive the spurious benefits. Sometimes this could be because of a trend. These trends change. Prediction is difficult. The Deliberate Cones are usually more stable. The Accidental Cones are more swollen but produce quick profits. Savvy investors know these develop, but they don't know why. They guess at where to put new industrial sites, strip malls, equipment and kiosks in expectation of the new economy, new bull market or whatever term they favor and wait on the new demand. If they were correct, they construct the 3rd evil triplet, the Filled Cone. Money flows through the new enterprise like Epsom Salts through a widow if they guess right, for as long as the money lasts. If the investor is wrong, it becomes a Hollow Cone and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Hollow Cone itself can create an Accidental Cone such as bankruptcy attorneys and repo men. This is the injection effect in the Austrian model. New models will popping up in the next several months to replace the failed Keynesian model.

Ed Cone

You are operating on a macro level, Beez.

The question at hand is whether the people who build and benefit from those strip malls etc should be allowed to make the decisions on public policy that determine where and whether they can be built, and influence as well the chances for success of any such projects.


The problem is that the mindset of the developer is too narrow to properly consider impact on neighborhoods, aesthetics, right project for right place, improving the public space to which it is attached and the long term impacts of the project. We let the developers build crap because we give them such low expectations - we come across as desperate and thankful for developers even thinking about developing a project in Greensboro. How else to explain the 192-unit apt. complex on VanStory as profiled in last week's Yes Weekly? Zoning Commission said no. Planning staff said no. City Council unanimously said - Yes, please! This, folks is why we need tougher development standards (see Downtown Design Guidelines) because in the end, WE are the ones that live with the long term consequences of poor development, not the people who are asking our permission to build it. We are trading the short-term impacts of construction jobs over improving the quality of life in Greensboro. I'll tell you a little secret...Ordinances and regulations don't keep developers from making a profit...and in fact, they will CREATE JOBS for people who are intelligent and creative enough to help them navigte these ordinances and regulations (they're called architects, landscape architects, engineers, environmental consults, historic preservation consultants, you know that creative class we all want). Developers will continue to build to the lowest common denominator unless we raise the bar for them. Now, where is that 500+ page Draft LD) document...


eddy: in some models, the macro is the level that contains the shift that you mention. The shift from greed and ebullience to fear and loathing. The shift where developers, banksters, industrialists and their cadre go from the front float with the pretty girls to being dragged by chains, ridiculed and impaled on blog posts. How much rollback and how far is determined by social mood. All the social planners with all the best intentions will ask the wrong questions as long as they believe the "economy" is a machine that constantly needs an adjustment or injection. The underwear stealing gnomes determine these things while we sleep.

Roger Greene

Alex said:

"Pubic officials represent the public, while businesses represent their own interest." " After all, businesses' eye is on the bottom dollar, public officials' eye is supposed to be on the public. "

Steve said:

"If the officials give business an inch, they will take; who wouldn't?"

"Right, but when a businessman is also a public official, he might be tempted to give himself more than just an inch."

The problem is that when the businessman becomes a public official all too often the case then becomes a public official trying to keep the public eye off his business. Development is more wrapped up in local government than most any other industry and therefore prone to a lot of foxes running for election as henhouse guardians. I'm not against development per se, but in Greensboro we long ago crossed a point where the playing field was remotely level. It's not necessary to make wholesale changes to the way we develop to still recognize that the current setup is not in our best interest.

Ethical considerations are the first item to address in my opinion. It is simple ethics 101 to recuse yourself when a contributor comes before you in a quasi judicial hearing like a zoning request, etc. We won't get that with the current makeup of the boards and elected officials. That's the tilted playing field effect.

And Alex, attacking Keith is punkish.


The council should be representative of the population, as Mr. Wharton points out, but his 5% is a fallacy. Real estate encompasses100%% of the the market. It's the place we go to work and or run our businesses out of, from mom and pop stores, to fortune 500 companies and the place where we feed our families and sleep at night. It's the roads we drive on, the sidewalks we walk on, the parks we stroll through and places we call home. In a population where nearly 100% of the people rely on a healthy real estate market, we need representation on the Council that can continue stimulating and protecting the real estate market that everyone depends on. Who better than a person with extensive development experience?


Glenwood, I doubt you have read the Design Manual. No where in it does it provide for the creation of jobs. Rather, as you may have seen, many interested and or invested developers will not bring their business here if the Manual passes in its current form. There is a point that we have to balance the scales between letting a developer decide what his or her customers desire rather than what his neighbor wants. I don't tell you what color to paint your house, but if the Design Manual passes, I will be able to. Actually, I can tell you exactly what it must look like. Take a look at every fortune 500 building, Keep looking, cause the Manual would prevent all of the cutting edge design concepts from being a part of our downtown. Preservation of the historic core is one thing, but a city dictating that it knows my customer base better than I, impossible. Youth drives cities. We need to be able to get post grads here with new jobs. Successful businesses will not be able to design conceptual structures that fit their needs under this manual. No Goggenheim museums, no GE, and as a matter of fact, no building over five stories currently existing in Greensboro or Charlotte would be able to exists under the current Design Manual. It will completely hinder and thwart progression and divert development opportunities to other cities who are more open to working with a business' vision of success.

Ed Cone

Teller, you are correct that we all have an interest in healthy and sensible real estate development and use. That's the point I was trying to make in my post about this not being good vs evil, and also what I said in my newspaper column about the growing awareness of community power to react to development proposals.

However, you have not addressed the more specific question at hand, which deals with the inclusion of real estate interests on boards that directly decide zoning and other development-related matters.

This is about understanding and avoiding conflicts of interest and the gaming of the political process.

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