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« World-class | Main | Keep at it »

May 30, 2012

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Ron

I think its very difficult to compete for jobs and opportunity without comparing ourselves with our peer cities. We can't pretend Charlotte, Durham or Raleigh don't exist. But you are right Ed, sometimes coming in last is better because you can take what one city has done and do it better here for our citizens. But we do have to be careful about ignoring what other cities are doing. Living in a bubble is what got Greensboro in trouble when the textile jobs left.

The truth is Greensboro is doing some amazing things. The downtown greenway is one of them. It may not be a sexy as brand new downtown performing arts center but its unique to Greensboro. I can't think of any sizable city that has a greenway that loops around it's downtown. The greenway is showcasing public art and its connecting all the neighborhoods. Now the greenway is a forward thinking idea.

Billy Jones

Ron, I couldn't agree more. So why don't we talk about building an Uptown Greensboro Greenway too? Unless, of course, only downtown is allowed nice things.

Spag

North Carolina has had a chip on its shoulder for as long as I can remember that I have never understood. It permeates down to the city level where people are paranoid about what everyone else thinks about them.

People are leaving the big cities and moving to places in the south like Greensboro for a reason.

The obsession with being seen as "big time" has always puzzled me. I've lived in Cleveland and Dallas, and you just don't see that kind of inferiority complex in those places. That's right, even in CLEVELAND.

The Edwards trial must be intoxicating for some. "Look mom, they mentioned US on the NATIONAL News!!".

If Greensboro is too small time for you, then move. You have plenty of options. Some right down the road. The simple truth is that municipal boundaries are largely irrelevant for most people these days. MSA's like the Triad and the Triangle function more like one big city instead of individual towns. Driving from Greensboro to Winston-Salem is no different than driving from Arlington to Garland, Texas. Call it what you want to, but it's still all Dallas.

Ron

Spag if that's true, why are people moving to Charlotte in droves? Charlotte has over 700,000 people so I'd say technically that makes them a big city. I know there is some debate about whether Charlotte is a major city. I think its more than just being bigger and better than your neighbor. Its about the amenities, excitement and all the things that attracts people to urban cities. But we should focus on smart growth and learn from the mistakes bigger cities have made which has led to higher crime, traffic nightmares, ect. If Greensboro gets too large for you then you reserve the right to move as well. There are plenty of quiet small rural towns spread out all across the state. The choices are endless. You certainly have more options than me.

Ed Cone

Most places have some self-image that residents wish to burnish, and most people want to like the place they live. A lot of big cities have complexes about bigger cities, and even though NYC is the alpha New Yorkers can't shut up about it.

But, anyway, back to my hometown. To whatever degree people who have moved to Greensboro over the past half-century or more have had a choice in the matter, they've chosen an small city with a fairly robust cultural infrastructure. They didn't move to Mount Airy, or Atlanta, they chose Greensboro.

Maintaining the level of amenities enjoyed by generations of people here, and building wisely on what we've got, is not the same thing as advocating growth for growth's sake, or trying to be something we're not.

sittinginthemiddle

Looks like the Tix Tax will not be heard in this session, let's see what the elitist real estate developers have up their sleeve next. They will never be agreeable to waiting for the next session so it will be interesting to see how they try to hang this boondoggle on the taxpayers.

Brian

Spag is right to point out that there are many reasons people are looking at North Carolina. It's not any single reason - low taxes, PAC's, weather, access to mountains and beach, etc. (Aside: which is why talking about taxes as a primary indicator of business location is a red herring, but I digress.) Spag is also right about the chip on its shoulder, part too. There is a sense of civic low self-esteem that I have never experienced anywhere else - and a lack of a can-do attitude that I've also seen elsewhere.

But, that being said, making the PAC happen is important, and Ed is right to point out that there is merely a replacement for an underused and deteriorating existing facility. As such, it is an important capital investment. There is no way the process of getting the PAC will appease everyone and there will be those who condemn the process, but good leaders will understand the importance of this to our community and find a way to get it done. I think it would be wise to continue to find a way to build it in a way that does not depend on a public vote. There will be too many reasons people will find to vote against it, including my own reason for voting against it.

I hope leaders will continue to think out of the box not just on the funding issue, but also the operations. While many can argue that Matt Brown has done a great job running a facility at an operational deficit for (how many?) years now, running a PAC requires a different mindset. I want to see open consideration of other options and a critical evaluation of those. I'm not impressed by the booking and use of the White Oak Amphitheatre. (Where is the big public announcement of the great summer lineup awaiting us?)

And Billy, familiarize yourself with the Bi-Ped Plan.

Ron

We have to face the facts that Greensboro isn't going to be small forever. Remember cities like Atlanta and Charlotte use to be small too. People moved to those cities for their small town charm. But times change, people change and yes cities do change. The sooner we accept that the better. But Ed when a city starts adding many of the amenities you are referring to, they help attract people, jobs, opportunity and naturally the city is going to grow. Jobs, opportunity and quality of life are the reasons cities grow.

sittinginthemiddle

"The truth is Greensboro is doing some amazing things. The downtown greenway is one of them. It may not be a sexy as brand new downtown performing arts center but its unique to Greensboro. I can't think of any sizable city that has a greenway that loops around it's downtown. The greenway is showcasing public art and its connecting all the neighborhoods. Now the greenway is a forward thinking idea."- Ron

Hmmm, lets see, how many jobs were created by this greenway thing? What exactly is the positive economic impact after you deduct the ridiculous amount of many to construct and maintain this money pit? Please tell me of the thousands who will relocate to Greensboro just to be in a city with a walking path around the downtown, like they did when we built the new ampitheatre, acc hall of champions, civil rights museum and aquatic center.
I am quite sure we will have to have mass transit cater to the abundance of people who will want to go to a new performing arts center. Now all you have to figure out is how to get your little fantasy land built without any money. Good luck with that.

Ron

we will see the economic impact of the greenway in the years to come. You can't say the greenway failed in stimulating economic growth less than a year after one small leg of it opened. I think we are seeing how the Aquatic Center is benefiting Greensboro. Its attracting some high profile events to the city. That means people from out of town will come and spend money in our city and help the local economy.

Roch

Ron, can I borrow your copy of the manifesto now that you have it memorized?

One thing Ed has learned and that I struggle with is to think about theses things on their own merits and not resent them for the absurd nonsense or smarmy tactics supporters may deploy.

Billy Jones

Brian,
I think the Bi-ped plan you speak of pretty much mirrors the route I spoke of. My concern is that like so many things promised to Greensboro communities, it will never come true. What I would be interested to know is the actual schedule and how far down Greensboro's most depressed neighborhoods are on the list. After all, shouldn't those neighborhoods with the most need be the first serviced?

And then there's Ron who still thinks Greensboro's working class aspires to wait tables, sweep floors and clean toilets for rich out of town visitors... As Buggs Bunny so often said, "What a maroon!"

Don Moore

Looks like GPAC will have a few years to win over voters. Hopefully, one of its supporters will win the Powerball or MegaMillions during the break and solve the problem.

Spag

What Greensboro needs is a super speedway. Concord has one. Or a monorail ! Shelbyville built one.

Are there a lack of venues for the performing arts in Greensboro ? If so, who is buying all of those ads in YES! Weekly and GoTriad ?

Billy Jones

Spag, Greensboro had a race track. They tore it down to build the coliseum. ;-)

Ed Cone

Greensboro's existing performance space for larger theatrical and musical shows is overdue for replacement.

That's one thing that makes the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses meme a non-starter -- we're talking about maintaining our existing level of infrastructure and continuing GSO's own long tradition in this realm, not just doing what others have done.

Billy Jones

Maybe the Community Foundation of Greensboro will pitch in just like they did for the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Arlington, VA.

Spag

I heard that ticket taxes are regressive.

I guess all of that ideology goes out the window when the arts and croissants are at stake.

I'm still waiting for someone to explain why this is a good expenditure of funds in the middle of "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."

I guess if we don't build it now, we will fall out of the top ten. Then we really would be like Raleigh and Charlotte.

Brian

Billy, sometimes you have to work WITH the powers to make good things happen, rather than against them. And, for the record, the first segment of the Downtown Greenway was built in Warnersville...not Fisher Park. Trust me, I get that things happen slowly - more slowly than I would like in many cases. (It took our neighborhood 9 years to get a burned house torn down.) On the plus side, there is a plan in place for a NE Greensboro connector to the Greennway. Whose job is it to make that happen? Its the neighborhoods, the city, and likely the private sector working together. If you always wait for the government to make good on "promises", then you will wait along time. Much of the anxiety on the DPAC is that it has been on the table/drawing boards for years and is only now seeing serious discussion. Things happen slowly.

Brian

Spag - I guess you didn't look at this, the last time I posted it:

http://www.nga.org/cms/home/nga-center-for-best-practices/center-publications/page-ehsw-publications/col2-content/main-content-list/new-engines-of-growth-five-roles.html
From the National Governor's Association:

With concerns over job creation and business growth holding a prominent—and persistent—position on policy agendas today, governors are increasingly finding innovative ways to support economic growth, according to a new report from the National Governors Association.

New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture, and Design focuses on the role that arts, culture and design can play in governors’ policies to create jobs and boost their economies in the short run and transition to an innovation-based economy in the long run.

In particular, arts, culture and design can assist states with economic growth because they can serve the following roles:

Provide a fast-growth, dynamic industry cluster;
Help mature industries become more competitive;
Provide the critical ingredients for innovative places;
Catalyze community revitalization; and
Deliver a better-prepared workforce.

Billy Jones

Brian wrote: "Billy, sometimes you have to work WITH the powers to make good things happen, rather than against them. And, for the record, the first segment of the Downtown Greenway was built in Warnersville...not Fisher Park. Trust me, I get that things happen slowly - more slowly than I would like in many cases. (It took our neighborhood 9 years to get a burned house torn down.) On the plus side, there is a plan in place for a NE Greensboro connector to the Greennway. Whose job is it to make that happen? Its the neighborhoods, the city, and likely the private sector working together. If you always wait for the government to make good on "promises", then you will wait along time. Much of the anxiety on the DPAC is that it has been on the table/drawing boards for years and is only now seeing serious discussion. Things happen slowly."

I get what you're saying but when this is how you've been treated for over 50 years it's really hard to believe that anyone is going to work with you. Working with the people who did these things is not an option I should be expected to do.

Andrew Brod

It's interesting that opponents of the PAC can argue simultaneously that it'd be a plaything of the rich and that ticket taxes would be regressives.

The mind is an impressive thing.

Andrew Brod

Also interesting: Why would a conservative object to a ticket tax, which after all would put the financing burden on the allegedly rich fancy-pants who actually attend PAC events instead of the taxpayers? Depending on recourse, it sounds like the market would be taking care of things. Don't conservatives favor that sort of thing?

As for the other aspect of Blust insinuating himself in city affairs, I guess that's no surprise. We've seen how little the Repubs in Raleigh actually favor decentralized decision-making.

polifrog

Andrew Brod:

Why would a conservative object to a ticket tax, which after all would put the financing burden on the allegedly rich fancy-pants who actually attend PAC events instead of the taxpayers?

It would depend on the degree to which a ticket tax is used as a fig leaf to cover for far larger public expenditures -- which is the case here.

Spag

"It's interesting that opponents of the PAC can argue simultaneously that it'd be a plaything of the rich and that ticket taxes would be regressive."

Not really. Those who can least afford it are the least likely to go. The ticket tax is simply another burden.

I thought liberals didn't like regressive taxes. That's why I pointed it out. What is it that Ed always says ? Oh yeah, "if you want nice things, you have to pay for them". I didn't realize that the "worst economic crisis since the Great Depression" allowed us the comfort of buying "nice things" especially when so many people can't afford them.

Billy Jones

I find it interesting that the City already has the legal right to add a ticket tax to Greensboro Coliseum events but has so far refused to do so. Had city leaders been progressive thinkers we would have had a bought and paid for PAC years ago paid for by Coliseum ticket taxes.

The only problem I have with a tic tax is that it might not go where it's supposed to go. You know, like so many other taxes we pay.

bubba

"Maybe the Community Foundation of Greensboro will pitch in just like they did for the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Arlington, VA."

Has the Potomac River somehow shifted course lately to cause that change in location for the JFK? Did the adjacent Watergate complex change its address too? Was it a result of an Obama stimulus plan project? Or did it come about because of all that eeeeeeevil fracking underneath the nation's capital?

Spag

The ticket tax is an opportunity cost, Billy. That's why I question the use of such a device for the stated purpose during such dismal economic times. As a general rule, taxes should be for necessities not luxuries, especially in the current economic climate.

ron

Bottom line, this is not being rammed down anyone's throats. The people will have their say in November and we need to respect the outcome no matter which way it goes. If it fails, then supporters of the PAC is just going to have to figure out how to build this thing completely with private funds. If the taxpayers vote for it, Opponents need to move on and respect the democratic process. Why are opponents so riled up about it. If they are sure the bond will fail in November, they have nothing to worry about.

Andrew Brod

True, liberals don't like regressive taxes. They also don't like bogus claims that fees for service, allegedly to be paid by rich people, are regressive taxes.

bubba

"Oh yeah, 'if you want nice things, you have to pay for them'."

That obviously needs to be modified in this case to "If you want nice things, you have to get other people to pay for them, even though they'll never use them".

Thanks to the good common sense of John Blust, it's likely this thing won't happen anytime soon.

Spag

It's either regressive or it's not, Andrew. I take it that you support this regressive tax, then?

I suppose that the service the grocery store provides in selling you a loaf or bread which carries a food tax is also a "bogus claim" regarding a fee for service that isn't regressive.

On the other hand, if non-rich people do attend the PAC, they would be paying more as a percentage of their income, wouldn't they ? Isn't that anathema to the Left ?

polifrog

Spag:

Not really. Those who can least afford it are the least likely to go. The ticket tax is simply another burden.

Good point, Spag.

But, I don't think that is so much a bug as a perk for much of this crowd.

When one considers the fact that the ticket tax will not cover expenses and said expenses will necessarily fall to general public expenses, the ticket tax will have only served to filter the unwashed from those who wish to enjoy all that others pay for.

Andrew Brod

Besides, the regressive-tax issue was introduced thusly:

"I heard that ticket taxes are regressive."

That should be off the table until someone can do better than "hear" it.

And it'll be an uphill climb, because simple economics shows that ticket taxes are not regressive per se. Yes, they can be regressive, depending on what kind of ticket is being taxed, the range of ticket prices, and whether it's a flat tax or a percentage of the ticket price. But if structured properly, they can be proportional or even progressive.

Andrew Brod

In view of Spag's latest claim, let me rephrase: It's not true that a ticket tax is either regressive or not regressive. It depends. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

In view of Spag's latest question, let me sigh and explain: Analyzing something is not the same as supporting it.

ron

I wonder if John Blust and Trudy Wade had a secret closed door meeting ;)

Andrew Brod

And no, Frog, Spag did not make a good point. A surcharge to pay off capital costs is no different than a business pricing its product to factor in debt service.

But it is true, as Frog noted a few comments earlier, that the rationale for a ticket tax depends on how much of the burden remains on the taxpayer.

Brian

I still think supporters should be emphasizing this as an economic development project at least as much, if not more, than the arts aspect.

Spag

So raising taxes on the non-rich is okay because it's just a surcharge to service debt?

A regressive tax is a tax that disproportionately affects lower incomes. Thus, an 8% "surcharge" regardless of its purpose will adversely affect a person with a lower income more than it would a person with a higher income.

In his ongoing quest to discredit me, Andrew Brod plays antics with semantics and glosses over a point that is often made by liberals when ideas such as a flat income tax are discussed. No foe is worth sacrificing your professional reputation.

By the way, It's been a few weeks since A1 passed. Have any of those parade of horrors come to pass yet?

Above all else, be true to what you know.

Triadwatch

Has anyone seen their Greensboro coliseum handling fees lately, they are outrageous . I like how freshman council member Hoffman call this a service fee which it is not service but a tax.

Billy Jones

Well they could pay for the PAC the same way most cities pay for PACs

Billy Jones

Bubba asked, "Has the Potomac River somehow shifted course lately to cause that change in location for the JFK? Did the adjacent Watergate complex change its address too? Was it a result of an Obama stimulus plan project? Or did it come about because of all that eeeeeeevil fracking underneath the nation's capital?"

All I know is what I read in the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro's Federal Tax Returns

polifrog

Andrew Brod:

It's not true that a ticket tax is either regressive or not regressive. It depends. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

All one needs to understand is that the data necessary as proof is dependent on the outcome desired.

But never argue with the data.

michele

Simple question, to which I'd like a real answer: Why does Greensboro need a performing arts center?

Ginia Zenke

One word that has not been used in this whole discussion is "excellence".

Greensboro does two bad things really well: It can't/won't identify its assets and maximize them, build upon them or around them, nor identify its liabilities and minimize them, make them better or make sure the same old mistakes aren't repeated. The other thing it does really well, is go off on far-flung fact-finding missions to find out how other cities "do it better" and come back and do it in a way that is totally inauthentic. The classic example was the trip to Chattanooga and the folks came back proclaiming that we should build a mile long river front through Greensboro, when all we have is Buffalo Creek, and its not downtown. If anything cautioned me about the wisdom to be found in our our newspaper, it was the enormous amount of printed inches - and therefore validity and approval - it gave to this idea. You could send a group on a Grand Tour of Europe with all the attractions thrown in, and these folks would come back with the cultural epiphany that we should/could serve beer at McDonald's. ("We can turn beans into peas!" from Time Bandits)

I love bluegrass, beer & barbeque as much as the next North Carolinian, but a steady diet of that is as bad for us, and our reputation, as too many French films with flute music in the foreground or too many performances of Wagner's Ring Cycle in post-war Germany. Let's not step in our own negative stereotypes, folks, its tiresome. Call it diversity of the arts. A vital part of a good education is exposure to the arts, performing and visual, and making a variety available to all is a worthy goal of any community. Reluctant husbands and complaining kids being dragged to Madame Butterfly are but one of the prices we pay for its availability, to remind people of the artistic excellence possible by individuals and groups that have been scattered across time, and to create and pass on inspiration.

We don't have to make it bigger; Charlotte's Bluementhal Theatre is smaller, and a jewel. Make it as excellent as we can afford, or try later when we can. As Tracy said of Hepburn, "T'ain't much there, but what's there's cherce". (Choice.) And it's managed by someone who has an impressive and focused resume, and loves what he does. And it shows.

Roch

"Why does Greensboro need a performing arts center?" -- Michele

The wrong answer is "to keep up with Charlotte and Raleigh."

The best answer, although I'm still undecided is, to riff on Ed's idea, that Greensboro has a tradition of providing public venues for the symphony, other hometown performing arts organizations and traveling shows. Doing so enriches us culturally, inspires our children and contributes to our quality of life. The primary venue for sustaining this tradition is wearing out. Putting a new venue downtown would not only assure the survival of this tradition but it would contribute to the positive trajectory of making downtown an economic force.

There are reasons to think we don't need this particular facility or that there are other ways to do the same things it would do, but that's the case for it, as I see it.

Billy Jones

Ron, do you work for, represent, are reimbursed by, contract to or receive any funds from any of the principals in the effort to build any downtown Greensboro performing arts center?

Andrew Brod

I'd add that it feels odd to frame this in terms of need. In other words, Michele's question is simple but the answer may not be.

On one level, of course we don't need a PAC. The issue is whether we want one and can find a reasonable way to pay for it. Sure, there'd be an economic impact, but it wouldn't be huge, and as such the chief benefit would be cultural and communitarian.

But on another level is Roch's characterization of the pro-PAC argument, which can be restated as: All work and no play makes Greensboro a dull city. Subject to affordability, I certainly think we need to avoid being a dull place. It's hardly an exotic notion for a community to build facilities for cultural arts. The economic benefits of a vibrant civic culture are significant, but they emanate from the city's collection of amenities, not any given facility. The nicer we make Greensboro as a place to live and work, the better off we'll be, regardless of how many businesses we attract.

So let the conversation continue. There's a lot of gray here.

Ed Cone

"It's hardly an exotic notion for a community to build facilities for cultural arts."

And, again, it's not exotic for this community to do so -- we're talking about replacing a worn-out structure that has served this niche for decades.

Some folks may feel we never needed one, but a performing arts facility and the larger cultural community have long been part of Greensboro life and identity.

Andrew Brod

In a way, this reminds me of investing in one's house. The way I see that, my enjoyment of my house is more important than the price I can sell it for in a few years. Of course both are important, but I'd rather make my house the best one for my family, and if doing something I want and can afford also bumps up the price the house commands in a few years, then great.

Perhaps Greensboro should look at a PAC in the same way. If it's affordable and something we want (or need or whatever) for our current enjoyment and cultural enrichment, then it's a good idea. If it also confers the secondary benefit of helping to attract businesses down the road, then great.

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