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scuttlebutt

by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

scuttlebutt

Democratic hopefuls pick up endorsements

Cal Cunningham, Ken Lewis and Elaine Marshall — three leading Democratic candidates looking to unseat Republican Us sen.

Richard Burr this fall — all secured major endorsements last week. Harvey Gantt endorsed lewis’ candidacy on March 29. Gantt, a former mayor of Charlotte, waged two unsuccessful campaigns against Republican stalwart Jesse Helms in the 1990s. Gantt was the last African American to win the Democratic nomination. If elected, lewis would become the first African American to represent the state in the Us senate. Gantt said the key to unseating an incumbent senator is building a campaign that attracts political and financial support and inspires grassroots activism. lewis has also won the endorsements of a number of national and state political figures, including Us Reps. Mel Watt and GK Butterfield, Durham Mayor Bill Bell, former Durham mayor and NC senator Wib Gulley and former Chapel Hill mayor Kevin Foy.

Marshall, the first woman elected to executive office in North Carolina, announced March 29 that Durham businessman Maceo Sloan and the Durham’s People’s Alliance have endorsed her candidacy. Cal Cunningham, a former judge advocate general in the Us Army Reserves, received the endorsement of retired four-star Army Gen. Wesley Clark on March 29. Clark, a presidential candidate in 2004, stated in a letter that Cunningham is “beyond a doubt the best candidate” to challenge Burr. Clark added that Cunningham’s time in the military would help him bring “a veteran’s unique perspective to policy making in Washington,” according to a press release. — KTB

City begins search for new policechief as protests continue overmayor’s remarkThe city of Greensboro has chosen DHRInternational of Cincinnati as a search firm tohelp select the city’s next police chief, followingChief Tim Bellamy’s announcement that hewill retire this summer. Representatives of thecompany will meet with residents, city staff, thecity council, the current chief and members ofthe police department, City Manager RashadYoung said in a recent memo to council members.Young added that “an intense assessmentprocess designed to highlight the strengthsand skill sets required to fill this critical position”might include public meetings if finalists arecomfortable with that process.last week, the Greensboro NAACP reiterateda call for Mayor Bill Knight to apologizefor a remark made during a league of WomenVoters candidate forum at Holy Trinity episcopalChurch in september in which knight said, “Wehave a chief today who, in my opinion, is thereprimarily because of race.”knight had prefaced his remark by saying,“I would like to be sure going forward that aswe select new administration into the policedepartment command group that we’re doingit based on ability and qualifications.”Public objections to knight’s remark wereraised only after he was sworn in as mayor inDecember.“some would say that hindsight is 20/20,”said the Rev. Cardes Brown, president of theGreensboro NAACP. “There are many regrets asit relates to things that have happened and thatcould have happened.”The NAACP and a handful of other groupsissued a formal statement, declaring that “thelanguage Mayor knight used is not only divisiveand offensive, it misrepresents the truth; andwhenever falsehoods are declared they shouldbe recanted and those who have been injuredby them should receive an apology.” — JGMidday passenger service addedon rail line between raleigh andcharlotteAmtrak will begin running two additionalpassenger trains from Raleigh to Charlotte onJune 5. The new midday service will includea southbound train and a northbound one.Passengers can already catch morning andevening trains from both Raleigh and Charlotte.starting on June 5, passengers may alsoembark on the northbound train to Raleighfrom High Point at 1:45 p.m., from Greensboroat 2:06 p.m. and from Burlington at 2:27 p.m.The midday train to Charlotte leaves Burlingtonat 12:58 p.m., Greensboro at 1:23 p.m. and HighPoint at 1:40 p.m.“As our population continues to grow, wemust provide people with travel alternatives,”NC Transportation secretary Gene Conti saidin a prepared statement. “Train travel alsoprovides environmental and energy benefitsthrough reduced congestion and improved airquality.” — JG Burr appears to backtrack onvow to repeal healthcare reformUs sen. Richard Burr sounded as if he mightbe equivocating on the central plank of hiscampaign platform during a radio interviewon March 31. last month, Burr told a groupof students at Wake Forest University that thefoundation of his re-election effort would bethe Republican Party’s effort to repeal thehealthcare reform bill passed by the Us Houseof Representatives on March 21. “I think this is adevastating direction for the American healthcaresystem,” Burr had said during the March 19event. However, during the radio interview withChris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch, Burr toneddown his rhetoric. “It may not be total repealat the end of the day,” Burr said. “It may be aseries of fixes over the course of this bill gettingenacted that enable us to possibly changeand bend that cost curve down.” last May, Burrand sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introducedthe Patients’ Choice Act in the senate. The billpromises to “give every American the opportunityto choose the health care plan that bestmeets their individual needs.” However, Burracknowledged the bill’s provisions left millionsof Americans uninsured. Democratic candidateCal Cunningham’s campaign issued a pressrelease responding to Burr’s “flip-flopping” onthe issue. “While Burr continues to play sillypolitical games, North Carolinians need toknow where he stands,” the press release states.— KTBCitizens invited to provide inputon white street landfillResidents and former residents of northeastGreensboro, along with business owners andland developers, are invited to attend a hearingheld by the Greensboro Human RelationsCommission at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday tovoice concerns about the White street landfill.The commission is also accepting writtenstatements about the landfill. City ManagerRashad Young said a second meeting, yet tobe scheduled, will include the Guilford CountyDepartment of Public Health and the NCDepartment of Health and Human services. —JGGreensboro farmers marketunder investigation’Greensboro City Manager Rashad Youngtold members of city council in an April 1memo that “staff has identified improprieties inthe handling of vendor receipts at the Farmer’sCurb Market.” Young said in the memo that “theappropriate staff has been placed on unpaidadministrative leave until the investigation iscomplete,” but the person to whom the citymanager appears to have been referring isreported to have put in his last day on March31.Parks and Recreation Director Greg Jacksonsaid on Monday that market manager LarrySmith was placed on administrative leavewithout pay last until all investigations arecomplete.The city’s internal audit division is currentlyconducting an investigation that is being monitoredby the Greensboro Police Department.City spokesman Jim Collins said it would bestandard procedure for the police to initiate acriminal investigation once the audit is completedif funds are found to be missing.explaining a recommendation by the parksand recreation commission against allowingthe market manager to also be a vendor,Commissioner Carl Brower said during ameeting last month: “The manager said he hadbroken the rules, so to speak, to help anotherfarmer get a space…. That substantiated whythere were concerns.”Vendors found a letter on their tables onMarch 27 indicating that March 31 would besmith’s last day.“We met with larry and explained to himthat he was not going to be able to continue asa vendor and a market manager,” Jackson said.“larry said, ‘That’s fine.’ He wanted to continueas a vendor. We put him on administrative leavebefore March 31, so we would continue withthe investigation and call him in to explainthings.” !

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