by the YES! Staff

dirt. SCUTTLEBUTT Developments across the Triad and beyond, compiled by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

Besse considering run for mayor

Southwest Ward Winston-Salem Councilman Dan Besse said he plans to run for reelection to council next year, and might consider a run for mayor if Allen Joines were to step aside. “If Allen should happen to take advantage of some other leadership opportunity such as a state level cabinet position — which I’m not aware that he’s been offered — and he should elect to not run again, I would look very seriously at mayor,” Besse said. “I’m not ready to make that announcement.” Besse ran for lieutenant governor this year and placed last among four candidates in his Democratic primary. He showed up at the NC Progressive Democrats’ convention in Greensboro on Dec. 6 to give a post-election analysis of his failed run because, he said, he won the group’s endorsement. Among his troubles, he said, was that he split the progressive vote with Hampton Dellinger and Pat Smathers while Walter Dalton — who went on to win the November general election — was the sole business Democrat to enter the race. Besse concluded from a post-primary poll of 583 Democratic voters that “the Obama/Clinton primary produced a huge turnout; and only Dalton and Dellinger had the money to reach the large number of relatively uninformed voters.” — JG

Troublemaker meets Nature Boy

Blogger Ben Holder, part of the faction intent on ousting Greensboro City Manager Mitchell Johnson and an ardent critic of the manager’s supporters on council, managed to unite erstwhile foes behind a common cause on Dec. 2. The Greensboro City Council approved a motion by acclamation to present the key to the city to professional wrestler Ric Flair during an appearance three days later at Proehlific Park. “On Nov. 24, 1983 in the Greensboro Coliseum, Ric Flair won the World Heavyweight Championship by defeating the legendary Harley Race,” Holder said. “The significance of that match is that it was the first-ever pay-per-view wrestling in the history of our country. Greensboro, North Carolina was an important location in the history of professional wrestling. People from all over the Carolinas came to Greensboro from the seventies through the eighties to watch Ric Flair.” District 3 Councilman Zack Matheny said he was at that 1983 match. Matheny deferred to Holder when it came time to decide who would actually present the key to Flair. When at-large Councilman Robbie Perkins suggested that Holder should hold the honor, the blogger replied with a triumphant “Woooooo!” — JG

Apartment association director angling for District 2 seat

With Goldie Wells’ announcement that she plans to step down from her District 2 seat on Greensboro City Council at the end of her term next year, several contenders are likely to step forward. A likely candidate is Ray Trapp, interim executive director of the Triad Apartment Association, chairman of the county Young Democrats and a member of the Greensboro Zoning Commission. “I would love to serve the community in any way that was needed,” Trapp said Monday. “The city council would probably be a great step. I’m still mulling out the possibility. As of now, I’m probably 90-percent sure.” Trapp said he has not had a formal meeting with Wells. “If I did try to seek the office, I would want to talk to her and would want to get support. I wouldn’t even think about taking that step unless I had an okay from her.” Wells said Monday that two other people have approached her about running, but neither has the same level of experience as Trapp. “I feel like Ray’s been out there for awhile,” she said. “He seems to have that political interest and didn’t just pop up.” — JG

UNCG hoops to play at coliseum

UNCG’s men’s basketball program will move to the Greensboro Coliseum, where the team will play its home games, starting with the 2009-2010 season, the university and coliseum have announced. The university said former Atlantic Coast Conference administrator Fred Barakat and Winston-Salem-based ISP Collegiate Services Vice President Jerry Reckerd will assist in marketing the Spartans. “UNCG officials are taking a vigorous approach in order to elevate the status of the athletics program and raise the university’s profile in the state and across the nation,” university spokesman Steve Gilliam wrote.

“Other benefits to competition with ACC and other men’s basketball teams include creating a larger community fanbase, heightening partnerships and loyalty in the community, stimulating the economy, and enhancing the student experience.” — JG

W-S council to hear testimony 

The Winston-Salem City Council has set a date and time to question former police detective Donald R. Williams about police procedure in the Jill Marker-Silk Plant Forest assault. Deputy City Manager Derwick Paige saidthe council plans to ask Williams, the lead detective in the 1995assault case, specifically about how police procedures were followed inhis investigation during a closed session on Dec. 17 at City Hall. Thecouncil subpoenaed Williams last month after he refused to cooperatewith the Silk Plant Forest Citizen Review Committee. Williamswas served the subpoena on Nov. 28, Paige said. The city council is notlooking into the guilt or innocence of Kalvin Michael Smith, who wasconvicted of assault with intent to kill in the Marker case 11 yearsago, Paige said. Smith is currently serving a 28year sentence at theAlexander Correctional Institution in Taylorsville. He has steadfastlyproclaimed his innocence. Duke law student volunteers, working onbehalf of the Innocence Project, are reviewing his case. — KB

Would-be state Dems chair pledges to strip racist governor

Isaac Coleman, outreach chair of the Progressive Democrats of North Carolina,asked candidates for chair of the state Democratic Party during a panelat the group’s convention in Greensboro on Dec. 6 if they would supportrenaming the annual Aycock-Vance Dinner in Asheville, which is theparty’s major fundraising event. The event’s namesakes areformer Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock, an avowed white supremacist who iswidely regarded as the founder of the modern North Carolina Democratic Party, and former Gov. Zebulon Baird Vance, who held office during the Civil War. Candidates Dannie Montgomery and Luke Hyde said they would appoint a task force to study the issue. A third member of the panel, Statesville lawyer David Parker, whois expected to announce his candidacy, said if elected he would removeAycock’s name from the fundraiser. “I strike Aycock,” he said. “Mygrandfather changed registration from Democratic to Republican becausehe was a populist. Aycock — boom, gone. Vance, I don’t know. You couldmaybe argue he was a product of his time.” — JG

Greensboro to spend $6.1 million making buildings energy efficient

The GreensboroCity Council approved a $6.1 million contract with Potomac ElectricPower Co. to retrofit more than a dozen city buildings to improveenergy efficiency through such means as installing solar water heatersand installing new light fixtures. Joe Christie of PotomacElectric Power Co. said the measures would reduce the buildings’ energyuse by 28.1 percent, and save the city $484,350 per year. The annualsavings would pay down the investment over a 13year period, andChristie said any additional savings in the performance contract wouldbe pocketed by the city. Christie added that he expected at least 80percent of the work to be performed by local subcontractors. — JG

Guilford gets fit

WashingtonState fitness equipment manufacturer Precor announced on Dec. 3 that itplans to open a new Southeast manufacturing, assembly and distributionfacility at Rock Creek Center in eastern Guilford County. The companyhas stated intentions of hiring about 142 employees by 2011 at anaverage wage of $38,456 — slightly higher than the county’s averagewage. The office of Gov. Mike Easley took credit for the company locating in Guilford, noting that Precor received a $142,000 incentive grant from the One North CarolinaFund. The Guilford County Commission voted 9-1 on Nov. 6 to approve$294,000 in tax incentives, to be paid to the company over three years. District 5 Commissioner Billy Yow, who cast the lone dissenting vote, called the incentives deal “extortion at its best.” Chairman Kirk Perkins, who has since relinquished leadership of the commission to Skip Alston, said Precor had also considered locating in Columbia, SC and Nashville, Tenn. — JG

Jordan Lake Rules to be reviewed

The NC Rules Review Commission approved the extensive JordanLake Rules from June through November 2008. That doesn’t mean therules, which are designed to reduced the nutrient load dumped from theHaw River watershed into JordanLake in eastern Chatham County, are anywhere near the point ofimplementation. Because of the number of objection letters received bythe Rules Review Commission, Jason Robinson of the NC Division of WaterQuality said that the rules will be reviewed by the NC General Assemblywhen it reconvenes in January. Expect municipalities, along withdevelopers and manufacturers to make a full-press lobbying effort todefeat the rules. Greensboro Mayor Yvonne Johnson promised as muchduring a city council meeting on Dec. 2. “We’ve got to influence ourlegislators to get this put aside so our taxpayers aren’t saddled withmillions and billions of dollars,” she said. “And there’s no proof thatthis will help [clean up the lake].” — JG

Greensboro progressive on run

Joel Landau, considereda progressive standard-bearer in Greensboro politics, said Sunday thathe is still deciding whether to run for city council next year, andwill likely decide in January. As co-chair of the Greensboro CommunitySustainability Council and member of the city’s planning board, Landauhas achieved a measure of name recognition. He’s lost two successivebids for an at-large seat on city council, and made no comment onwhether he might try for a district seat this time around. He wasredistricted into District 4 early this year. If he decided to run forthe district seat, he would have to take on conservative Mike Barber,unless Barber decides to challenge Yvonne Johnson for mayor. — JG

McCrory’s post-defeat analysis David Parker, a Statesville lawyer who serves on the Democratic National Committee, sat three seats away from Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory at the Davidson-NC State men’s basketball game in Charlotteon Dec. 6 (Davidson won, 72- 67). McCrory lost his race for governor toDemocrat Bev Perdue. Parker, who has not announced his candidacy forchairman of the NC Democratic Party but took part in a candidate’sforum, told attendees of the NC Progressive Democrats convention in Greensborothat the Charlotte mayor was “whining” about his defeat. “He says, ‘Icouldn’t even carry my own county; I don’t know why,’” Parkerrecounted. “I said, ‘Pat, you know exactly why.’ He said, ‘The Obamacampaign. I’ve never seen anything like it.’” — JG

GPD reaccredited

TheGreensboro Police Department has been reaccredited by the Commission onAccreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. The department received itsinitial accreditation in 1986 and has been reaccredited every threeyears since then. The accrediting agency reviews 400 professionalstandards that, according to a city press release, are designed to“help strengthen crime prevention, improve service delivery and boostcitizen and staff confidence in law enforcement.” The city acknowledgedthat its police department will be required to submit to review of twoof those standards next year ahead of schedule. Steve Mitchell, aprogram manager for the commission said the police department wasinitially found deficient on standards for annual analysis of policevehicle pursuits and its multi-year plan. — JG

Johnsons awarded for truth

SanFrancisco-based Civic Ventures, an agency dedicated to harnessing thecapacity of baby boomers to tackle social problems, has named the Rev. Nelson Johnson and his wife, Joyce Johnson, ofGreensboro as one of 15 winners of its Purpose Prize. The Johnsons,both survivors of the 1979 Klan-Nazi shootings and leaders within theBeloved Community Center, will receive $10,000 in recognition for theirwork to launch the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission andto support the Almighty Latin King & Queen Nation, an organizationlabeled as a gang by the Greensboro Police Department. A description ofthe Johnsons’ work posted on Civic Venture’s website proposes that“vitriol” against Johnson during the truth process “was paradoxicalproof of the idea’s importance, and the aftermath has proved it: Othercities have contacted the Johnsons for advice in creating their owntruth and reconciliation projects. They recently traveled to Mississippi and Alabamato consult with project organizers there. Greensboro institutions likethe Beloved Community Center now have more access to and dialogue witharea power centers, they say.” The 23-member panel of judges thatselected the 15 winners included actor Sidney Poitier, former presidential advisor David Gergen and National Public Radio reporter Cokie Roberts. — JG