ITEMS FROM ACROSS THE TRIAD AND BEYOND BY JORDAN GREEN
Winston-Salem council members losing patience with train station occupant
Winston-Salem City Council members signaled in a 5-4 vote on Monday night that they’re running out of patience with Harvey Davis, the owner of a garage near Winston- Salem State University who is being forced out through eminent domain to allow the city to redevelop the once and future Union Station as a transit hub.
The division was more procedural than substantive: Mayor Allen Joines broke a tie to support a motion by Southwest Ward Councilman Dan Besse to postpone the vote until November to give Davis time to come back with an acceptable plan.
Carol Davis, executive director of the SG Atkins Community Development Corp., urged council to deny Harvey Davis’ request for an extension.
“The location that he has is the eastern gateway to the city, and it’s the gateway to Winston-Salem State University,” she said. “And it’s an eyesore in its current condition, and it’s been so for a long time. It’s just going to be difficult for economic development to pick up along that corridor without that site being addressed. Multimodal transportation is definitely coming for that purpose that will draw further economic development around the area. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”
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Kernersville lawmaker Larry Brown dies
Larry Brown, a Republican state lawmaker from Kernersville, died of a heart attack in Pinehurst on Aug. 16. He was 69. John Wolfe, town attorney for Kernersville, said he learned of Brown’s death through a phone call from the lawmaker’s sister.
Brown served as mayor of Kernersville before winning a seat in the NC House representing a district in eastern Forsyth County in 2004. He was loved by many for his dedication to Kernersville. In recent years, he drew condemnation for comments considered derogatory towards gays, but treated political opponents and reporters on the campaign trail with civility and respect.
Brown’s legislative district was eliminated during a redistricting process controlled by his own party last year. Brown ran for reelection in the new district, but lost his primary to Forsyth County Commissioner Debra Conrad.
Wolfe said that although Brown had experienced some health challenges in recent years, his death came as a shock. He had seemed to be doing well when the two had dinner about three weeks ago.
Wolfe said bringing the Triad Industrial Park to the town should be considered one of Brown’s greatest accomplishments.
“That has been good for Kernersville, with FedEx coming in,” Wolfe said. “That’s been a big coup for Kernersville. We worked on it many years.”
Wolfe and Brown had a good working relationship as counselor and mayor.
“He and I shared the same political philosophy, however we differed on a lot of things,” Wolfe said. “He and I would have our times of fighting with each other so to speak, but we respected each other.”
When Brown believed in something, he committed to it completely.
“Back in the mid-seventies,” Wolfe recalled, “when Kernersville’s water supply was contaminated by a company called Destructo — it wasn’t the company’s fault, someone broke in and let loose contaminated chemicals — we had a lot of discussions about, what’s Kernersville going to do? Are we going to ask Winston-Salem for emergency assistance? [Brown] said he didn’t believe the water was contaminated. He drank from a big jug from the lake. I have to laugh, but he really believed in what he was doing.”
Council member Adams explains position on Kalvin Michael Smith When the public safety committee of the Winston-Salem City Council met in July, it appeared that a majority of members were on board with a request by the Silk Plant Forest Truth Committee to file an amicus brief requesting a new trial for Kalvin Michael Smith.
Derwin Montgomery and James Taylor Jr., who respectively represent the city’s East and Southeast wards, said they supported they supported the idea of the city filing an amicus, or “friend of the court” brief.
Denise D. Adams, their colleague from the North Ward made a statement that, at least on its face, appeared to align with Montgomery and Taylor’s position.
“There comes a time when we must do what is just and right,” she said. “We have to use our political will to always right injustice.”
Others who made statements suggesting an inclination to intervene on Smith’s behalf included Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke and South Ward Councilwoman Molly Leight.
Montgomery and Taylor stood firm, but the majority eroded. The council ultimately decided in closed session against filing an amicus brief and issued a statement from City Attorney Angela Carmon articulating that “the city council’s opinion on the merits of Kalvin Michael Smith’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus would not be legally relevant to the federal court’s review of the petition.”
Adams said in an interview on Monday that she decided to follow the city attorney’s advice.
“As a city we have done several things such as in the process of this whole ordeal one of them was adopting the resolution in ’07 in establishing the Silk Plant Forest Citizens Review Committee,” said Adams, who was elected to the council in 2009. “That was a milestone. We hired two detectives to open up the case. We used our investigative authority to compel Detective DR Williams to present testimony to the council.”
Adams said she believes her support for the decision by the majority of council in closed session is consistent with her previous statement advocating using “our political will to always right injustice” during an open meeting of the public safety committee.
“I can quantify reports, and there were several things that we’ve done to assist the justice process,” she said. “It’s not like we locked down the door and said, ‘We are not going to do anything.’… We’re providing all these pertinent pieces of documentation. What does that say about us that we’re doing nothing and we don’t care? Mr. Christopher Swecker [the retired FBI consultant] said that we implemented investigative techniques that exceed the FBI.”