Archive for July, 2011

Two reports are out and cited in the Winston-Salem Journal this week state it will be three to four years before unemployment in the Triad area returns to pre-recession levels. I won’t repeat the quoted findings The Journal quotes, you can read them here, but I do question any such report. There is a clear exodus from the Winston-Salem area. This exodus may help lower unemployment rates by simple adjusting the numbers of employable workers but it is a major drain on the pool of skilled employees. This in turn reduces the area’s outlook for generating new jobs as businesses look elsewhere with lower taxes as well as a better educated and trained work force. If you don’t think that is what happens then look at this quote I will take from the paper by a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities.

"We believe a large proportion of today’s high unemployment is structural in nature, resulting from a huge skill mismatch between the jobs being created and the existing skill sets of jobseekers," said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities.

Winston-Salem Journal, July 15, 2011

As I have stated in the past with a shrinking business climate and fewer worker bees you will see a general drop in revenue generated for the local governments. This will result in those governments being required to drastically cut budgets and that means laying off more workers, granted we could do with some trimming of public employees around here. Those cuts however won’t be enough to meet deferred cost on expenses the city of Winston-Salem has taken on such as the Baseball stadium and surrounding obligations or plans for a downtown rail line. As the city will have to meet those obligations the only way to do it in a generally smaller and smaller revenue pool is to raise tax rates. Raising taxes on a workforce that is already leaving the area due to high unemployment will just exacerbate the situation in my opinion and in general delay but not solve the problem. As people are taxed more, see fewer opportunities there is a delay in the ultimate leaving of those workers for other areas of the state or country but it is only a delay as they make those plans, it does not stop the migration or the ultimate result.

Maybe it’s time for The Chamber, The Mayor, Winston-Salem Business Inc., Winston-Salem Alliance to stop chasing “Boys of summer” dreams and start wondering why small business after small business is moving outside of the Winston-Salem area or how a almost 43,000 square foot building set empty for TWO YEARS in a prime retail location? By the way I am speaking of the old Circuit City building on Hanes Mall which finally sold in May to a developer who plans to repartition the location into a multi-tenant space.

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I have stumbled on an interesting story taking place in Lincoln County, North Carolina and while it is interesting I would hope most readers would be aware that it’s not likely an isolated case. The issue it seems is a Sheriff’s Office that disagrees with Free Speech, Freedom of the Press or apparently following the intent of the law but rather their interpretation of “the letter of the law.”

The first I heard about this was in reference to a article in the Charlotte Observer concerning Lincoln County Sheriff Carpenter plans to skirt the new public records law Governor Purdue signed by not providing dismissed employees with anything written down about their dismissal but to inform them verbally. The law that was passed opened up public officials records and soon after it was passed papers like the Charlotte Observer made multiple request to law enforcement agencies such as the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and apparently of the Lincoln County Sheriff for various personnel files. In what can only be viewed as the powerful protecting their own we have the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, Charlotte’s city attorneys as well as N.C. School Boards Association to name a few all coming out condemning the new law and saying they should not be required to provide such information. Some of those same groups sought an opinion by the N.C. State Attorney General’s Office on the reach of the new law and specifically if it was retroactive and apparently were not happy with the answer they received which was that yes the law was retroactive and yes the law required the written dismissal letters for terminated employees for all state and local agencies.

One would think that makes it pretty clear however per the Charlotte Observer, Sheriff David Carpenter of Lincoln County has no plans to issue any written dismissal letters. The exact quote from the Observer is below as it certainly appears to say the Sheriff doesn’t agree with the State Attorney General’s interpretation of the law and clearly says the Sheriff goes on to say he does not believe the public should have any access to personnel records.

Carpenter, who took office last week, promised to comply with the records law, but said "we’re not going to generate" new documents to satisfy requests by the public.

Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/12/13/1907291/lincoln-county-sheriff-finds-end.html#storylink=misearch#ixzz1RdNOwIdQ

Now this on it’s surface this might not seem so bad but then we have State Senator Pete Brunstetter, a Winston-Salem Republican, submitting a new bill which would reverse the law Perdue signed just last year. Senator Brunstetter’s bill would deny the release of dismissal letters prior to the laws enactment as well as remove any requirement that dismissal letters be written for government employees, thoroughly castrating the open public records law Gov. Purdue signed sending North Carolina back to the time it was considered one of the most closed access Governments.

If the disciplinary action under subdivision (11) of this subsection was a dismissal, a copy of the written notice notice, if created, of the final decision of the head of the department setting forth the specific acts or omissions that are the basis of the dismissal. This subdivision does not require the creation of a notice of dismissal if the creation of the notice is not otherwise required by law.

SENATE BILL 554, § 126‑23, (11a)

Aside from that diversion into the powerful wanting to make sure the powerful stay protected let’s get back to Lincoln County for some more of what appears to be abuse of power. It appears there is or was a criminal case going on between the Sheriff’s spokesman and a local Blogger/News Reporter. I would point you to the post at the News & Observer however they seem to have pulled the post, interesting. So I would point you to the post at [email protected] but hmmm, it’s been pulled as well so let’s try the link to the story at The Carolina Scoop but well guess what, it’s missing as well not to mention Google’s cache has no direct hits to the story. It’s almost like somebody has sent DMCA compliant letters to any source of the story so let me see if I can find some more information, ah here we go, “Sheriff’s spokesman charges journalist with harassment.”

Ken Fortenberry, editor and publisher of the Denver-based weekly newspaper [email protected], has threatened to sue TheCarolinaScoop, a Lincolnton Web site, for libel.

Scoop publisher and editor Jon Mayhew, who has also been the sheriff’s publication information officer since June, responded Friday by issuing a criminal summons against Fortenberry for alleged harassment.

The key here is Jon Mayhew acts as the spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department yet runs a website which competes for readers and one would assume advertising dollars with sites such as the [email protected] . Unfortunately other than this single news source it is near impossible to find anything else about what is going on in Lincoln County especially concerning Ken Fortenberry, Jon Mayhew and Sheriff Carpenter. There’s a good number of stories about the prior sheriff’s problems but try to find anything about the above story and it’s a brick wall.

This is why open records and a free press are so important yet North Carolina seems determined to stay an old boys club with the elite protecting the elites and law enforcement doing whatever they want to do, legal or not. Here’s hopping this post doesn’t spark some search warrant…

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Looks like a group is trying to repeat the game plan of PACE Airlines in applying to bring a charter jet service to Greensboro. Interestingly enough several PACE executives have signed on with the new company called Victory Jet LLC. The primary’s of the new company are Jeff Erickson and Christopher Barnes however word is a number of former PACE employees have joined on. Those listed were Eric Winberg, Herman Gillis III, Tom Cartwright, Michele Burdick, Ellis Nelson, Barry Blumquist, and James Brown.

The company objective is to take various jets, and outfit them for VIP charter services. The current jet listed is a single 737 outfitted with 64 First Class seats and plans to add a second 737.

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