A City of Two Tales

by Ben Holder

Two of Greensboro’s weekly newspapers, The Rhino Times and Triad City Beat, covered the last board meeting of the not for profit Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI). The main purpose of DGI is to promote downtown Greensboro so it may become a vibrant area that people would want to invest in.The Rhino Times article presented an uneventful meeting of relatively happy people. The main focus of the Rhino’s article was DGI’s new chairman, Gary Brame. The Rhino reported that Brame owns an antique shop and has a lot of time on his hands. The Rhino reported that Brame gets about one customer every four hours. The Rhino added that Brame told Rhino reporters that he actually gets a little more customers than one every four hours. He obviously was joshing, kidding, being folksy and the Rhino seemed to love it.When we take a look at Triad City Beat’s version of the same meeting, it doesn’t seem like the Rhino and Triad City Beat attended the same meeting. Triad City Beat’s article was focused on the controversial removal of two board members. Triad City Beat reported that Eric Robert and Simonne McClinton were kicked off the board.Triad City Beat focuses on Robert and McClinton being critical of DGI’s board. According to the article, Robert and McClinton see the board as ” … just window dressing. All the real power lies with the executive committee.”The terms for Robert and McClinton had expired but they were eligible to return to the board and they both wanted to do so. But the board obviously doesn’t want those two troublemakers around. According to Triad City Beat, Robert and McClinton were not disliked by everyone and several people were quoted in the article giving their support for the two ousted members. The Rhino doesn’t mention one word about the controversial ousting of Robert and McClinton. How can two papers cover the same meeting and come up with such a different view? Politics, what else? When Robert was asked about the differences in the two articles he said, “It’s not surprising, considering the Rhino’s new ownership.” The Rhino Times was once a decent watch dog for local government. However, John Hammer failed at keeping the Rhino in business. Due to owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to several different companies, Hammer ultimately went bankrupt. In the last Rhino issue John Hammer published, he was reduced to begging people to send him $20. Robert added, “I think it is very much hypocritical of The Rhino and its ownership to be so indignant, critical and righteous about our city council while ignoring the fact that DGI’s current president and CEO Jason Cannon committed fraud by falsifying his resume and misrepresenting his education … perhaps it is to protect an organization that is now only serving the paper’s publisher Mr. Carroll … or perhaps it is to protect the former Mayor Robbie Perkins who covered up the fact that Jason Cannon was in fact a liar. It takes one to cover up for one. Either way you look at it, it is a sad story all the way around … Downtown Greensboro is worse off for it.”Greensboro developer Roy Carroll bought the Rhino and the building the Rhino had lost to the banks. Carroll brought John Hammer and much of his staff back and everything was back to normal. At least that’s what they told their readers.