Around the water cooler

by Eric Ginsburg

We don’t have a water cooler in our office — instead a lot of our shoptalk happens out front, when Brian tells one of us to come outside with him while he burns down a cigarette. Today’s contemporary version of the water cooler is the Facebook news feed, and if I had a more obnoxious internet presence, these are the things I would be talking about this week.

The Community Foundation announced that it’s planning to use a “substantial” donation it received to create a public park in conjunction with the proposed Greensboro Performing Arts Center, which has been suggested for the former YWCA site across the street. Residents’ feedback in the center’s design process strongly favored an outdoor element, foundation President Walker Sanders said, making this move a win-win.

“In essence, it gives the performing arts center an Elm Street address,” he said, describing how the park would act as a plaza. “It creates a grand sense of place.”

It was puzzling at first that the park seemed to be going practically on top of the existing Festival Park, but Sanders said Festival Park might be reworked as part of the performing arts center design. It all seems bizarre, however, given that neither the city council nor voters have approved the performing arts center yet. A park will be built regardless and isn’t contingent on the center, Sanders said. But aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves?

The applications to replace Trudy Wade for District 5 on Greensboro City Council (after her successful race for state senate) are in, and even though the decision hasn’t been handed down as of this writing, we’re pretty confident that Tony Wilkins will be chosen to replace her.

Based on his credentials, particularly as executive director of the Guilford County GOP, council is likely to pick him as Wade’s successor in the city’s most conservative district. It’s all a bit humorous to us, because we endorsed Wilkins for the seat in the 2011 election even though he wasn’t running.

Speaking of predicting the future, it’s almost time for the world to end, according to the Mayan calendar. Well, no, not really at all, according to nearly everyone who understands what they’re talking about. Nevertheless, I am enthralled by the idea that Dec. 21 is the beginning of the end, but I can’t decide whether to prepare for fast or slow-moving zombies, or whether its going to look more like Hurricane Sandy on performance-enhancing steroids.

The best bet is probably to stock up on clean water, warm/waterproof clothing, non-perishables and something to take down zombies with, but a prep list really deserves its own column. I plan to go down in style, hosting an allday Apocalyptic Film Fest the weekend prior, because why not? Y2K may have been a dud, but I still remember celebrating our survival.

Back to reality — well, no, not really at all.

The infamous Roy Carroll, who failed to almost singlehandedly win a new noise ordinance, has now vowed to take his campaign to the polling place by bankrolling candidates, the News & Record reports.

While it may be Carroll’s right to make some noise about noise and fund candidates he likes, it’s a mystery why he doesn’t understand that he is likely doing a gigantic disservice to whomever he ends up backing. He may be stoking a popular backlash not only to the ordinance, but against what some perceive as a whiny elitist who thinks everything should go his way.

Whether the perception is accurate will have little to do with how people cast their ballots, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many punished Carroll’s picks at the polls regardless of who they run against. This may be the best get-out-the-vote strategy for young disenfranchised voters we’ve seen yet.

I could probably go on forever, but let’s cut to one final observation that you’d likely miss otherwise: A state law took effect on Dec. 1, allowing people with nonviolent misdemeanors and low-level felonies to have their records expunged.

To be eligible, people must maintain a clean record for 15 years after finishing their sentences and demonstrate “good moral character.” According to the NC Justice Center, tens of thousands of residents in the state are eligible, and expunction will make it easier for people who have long since paid their debt to society to find employment and housing.

Only a handful of other states allow for expunction of crimes committed by adults, and it’s nice to be a little ahead of the curve for once.