Scuttlebutt: Developments across the Triad and Beyond

by YES! Weekly staff

NC DOJ: Undocumented students okay TheNC Department of Justice cracked the door open ever so slightly on thepossibility of undocumented immigrants attending North Carolinacommunity colleges on July 24 when department lawyer JB Kelly wrote to NC Community College System lawyer Shante Martin thatfederal law does not prohibit the students from attending publiclysupported colleges and universities. In the absence of a state statute,the college system is free to devise its own policy. “Theindividual states must decide for themselves whether or not to admitillegal aliens into their public post-secondary institutions,” wrote Jim Pendergraph, executivedirector of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Stateand Local Coordination on July 9. As sheriff of Mecklenburg County,Pendergraph oversaw the state’s first 287(g) program, which coordinateswith federal government to identify and deport offenders who are in theUnited States illegally. He concluded, “In the absence of any statepolicy or legislation addressing this issue, it is up to the schools todecide whether or not to enroll illegal aliens, and the schools mustsimilarly use federal immigration status standards to identify illegalalien applicants.” — JG

Stop loss Charlotte-based Wachovia Corp. showed Chief Financial Officer Tim Wurtz thedoor last week after the bank announced net losses of $8.9 billion forthe second quarter of 2008. The bank, which was headquartered inWinston- Salem until its 2001 merger with First Union, still keeps itswealth management division in the Camel City. The company hasn’tannounced any layoffs in the Winston-Salem offices, but the recent runof bad news still has some city leaders worried about the health of oneof their largest corporate citizens. Councilman Dan Besse saidthe body is watching the developments closely to see whether localoperations will take a hit. “That’s why you want a corporateheadquarters in the city,” he said. “It’s less expendable.” — AK

New cops on the block Thirtypolice cadets graduated from GTCC’s police basic introductory course onJuly 25 in a ceremony that included Greensboro notables such as policeChief Tim Bellamy, Mayor Yvonne Johnson and City Manager Mitchell Johnson. Thecourse encompasses 1,000 hours of training, nearly double the 618 hoursrequired by state law, and the new officers will work with policetraining officers in the fields for the next 14 weeks, after which,pending an evaluation, they will be full-fledged Greensboro policeofficers. GTCC’s next police basic introductory course, which is full,begins in August; applications are being accepted for another sessionbeginning in March 2009. — BC

He’s Mo Green TheGuilford County School Board voted on July 24 to hire a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administrator and former federal judicial clerk asGuilford County Schools next superintendent. Mo Green replacesTerry Grier, who left Guilford County in February to lead the publicschools in San Diego. Green will be Guilford County Schools’ firstblack superintendent. “This is a great day for Guilford County,” saidChairman Alan Duncan in a written statement. “In Mo Green, wewill have a superintendent who demonstrates tremendous educationalleadership and empowers others by instilling confidence in those aroundhim. His extraordinary intellectual abilities are well suited to thedynamic academic climate of this school system.” — JG

Money for trucking Ina 9-2 vote, the Guilford County Commission decided to grant FedExGround $952,500 in property-tax incentives over three years to build atrucking hub near Kernersville, a separate facility from the air hubthat comes to fruition at Piedmont Triad International Airport in 2009.FedEx Ground now must decide between this site, at the Triad BusinessPark, and two others, in Tennessee and South Carolina. If constructed,the 415,000 square-foot facility — a $100 million investment — wouldemploy 80 people in the first year, with the number swelling to 259over the next five years. The jobs average $40,000 a year. The dealapproved by the commission requires FedEx to pay property taxes thefirst three years — about $1.5 million — before the incentives

kick in. FedEx spokesperson William F. Conner said the company will choose a location in the next two months. — BC

Your government at work

TheNC General Assembly adjourned without passing the School ViolencePrevention Act. Gay-rights advocates and their allies mobilizedsignificant pressure to dissuade Democratic members of the House fromsupporting a Senate version of the bill that stripped language offeringspecific protection against bullying based on sexual orientation.Christian right activists responded in kind and bills supported byeither side went nowhere. Likewise, legislation pushed byHouse Republican leadership — that would have urged Congress to givethe state the authority to determine whether offshore oil drillingshould take place off the coast of North Carolina — died after gettingsent to the Committee on Rules, Calendar and Operations. Among thebill’s primary sponsors were Minority Whip Bill McGee and Joint Caucus Leader Dale R. Folwell, bothof Forsyth. Likewise, the Open Government Act, which would have allowedcitizens who prevail against government in public records lawsuits torecover attorney fees and would have mandated that the NC Department of Justice provide legal opinions on public records requests, died in committee. Offshoredrilling and open government may have hit the skids, but help forhomeowners facing foreclosure sailed through the Democratic-dominatedGeneral Assembly. The bill, which awaits the signature of Gov. Mike Easley, requiresmortgage servicers to provide borrowers with detailed information suchas an itemization of past due amounts and added charges at least 45days before filing for a foreclosure hearing. The legislation alsoappropriates $600,000 for a program to be administered by the BankingCommission to make grants for housing counseling for homeowners tryingto avoid foreclosure. And one piece of legislation that’s a done deal:Easley signed a bill entitled Community Colleges/Tobacco Free,co-sponsored by Sen. Katie Dorsett (D-Guilford), gives localcommunity college boards of trustees the authority to ban tobacco useon campus. GTCC becomes a tobacco free campus effective Friday. Asdefined by statute, that includes products such as cigarettes, cigars,blunts, bidis, pipes, chewing tobacco, snus and snuff. — JG