Items from across the Triad and beyond by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green
Council veteran comes out of retirement to run for mayor
Tom Phillips, a former Greensboro City Council member, has announced he will run for mayor this year, joining a race that already includes incumbent Bill Knight and at-large Councilman Robbie Perkins.
“I haven’t liked the way I’ve seen things done handled on not only this council but other councils,” he said on Monday. “I think I have the knowledge and leadership skills to bring the council together and work constructively on issues. We’re going to have some difficult budget decisions, and we need to make sure there’s good communication on council. It falls on the mayor to make sure that happens.”
Phillips, who distinguished himself as a fiscal conservative during his tenure on council, said several of the city’s mayors, including Knight, have committed the error of failing to communicate with and consult fellow council members.
Challenging budget projections require a council that can demonstrate some cohesion.
“With the federal government intending to cut and the state government forced to cut, that’s going to fall to the city,” Phillips said. “We’re going to do some serious thinking about what we’re going to do going forward. We need to focus on the basics and use some common sense.” — JG
Frye sworn in as clerk of court for third time
Chief District Court Judge William Reingold administered the oath of office to Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court Susan Speaks Frye during a ceremony at the Forsyth County Hall of Justice on Jan. 5 that marked the third such occasion in less than a month. On Dec. 17, the Forsyth County Board of Elections dismissed a protest by Jeff Polston, the Republican candidate for Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court, and ruled that Frye — who defeated Polston by 551 votes in the Nov. 2 election — should be sworn in immediately as the new clerk of court. Shortly thereafter, District Court Judge Denise Hartsfield administered the oath of office to Frye. Then, on Dec. 28, Frye took the oath of office again.
“After Mr. Polston exhausted his protests and didn’t file an appeal with the State Board of Elections, the attorneys in Raleigh wanted me to be sworn in on Dec. 28 since that was my first official day,” Frye explained. “The reason we had the swearing in on Jan. 5 was to swear in the deputy clerks and assistant clerks. It was really a formality.”
After Judge Reingold administered the oath of office to the assistant and deputy clerks, Frye acknowledged her supporters as pivotal to her hard fought victory.
“We go through life and we pick our battles,” Frye said. “I picked the battle to campaign and become the clerk of court in Forsyth County, and it’s really been a battle but it’s been worth everything I put into it and worth every effort that everyone in this room put into it.” — KTB
City of Greensboro settles age discrimination lawsuit
In the same week that a judicial order on discrimination claims by dozens of black Greensboro police officers grabbed headlines, the city quietly settled an age discrimination lawsuit with Terry Pearson.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, took legal action against the city in 2009, alleging that the city refused to hire Pearson, who was 58 at the time, because of his age and that the city failed to preserve personnel records related to Pearson’s charge of discrimination.
The city has agreed to pay Pearson $91,000, to provide an annual training program for all managers and supervisors in its Guilford Metro 911 Division explaining the requirements of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, to regularly report to the EEOC on age discrimination complaints and to provide training for hiring officials on the preservation of records. The terms are outlined in a consent decree entered on Jan. 7. The consent decree had not been signed by a judge at press time, but City Attorney Julia McNeil Danish said, “There’s been a meeting of the minds.”
The city admits no fault in the agreeing to the settlement. The city council met in closed session on Jan. 4 to discuss the case, which had been scheduled for trial later this month. — JG
City revises capital improvement numbers in 10-year review
Greensboro city staff has revised an analysis of capital improvement project spending by city council district that was initially prompted by a request from District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade, who has been embroiled in a spat over distribution equity with District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small.
The revised analysis, based on a review of about a thousand projects over the past decade, finds that District 2 leads in capital spending, at $123.7 million; followed by District 3, at $107.9 million; then District 1, at $92.9 million; then District 4, with $51.2 million; and finally District 5, with $47.6 million. The city’s original analysis had ranked District 1 first in spending, at $110.5 million; followed by District 2, with $82.4 million; then District 4, with $45.4 million; then District 3, with $42.1 million; and finally District 5, with $33.2 million. In the original study, the city itemized $83.5 million under the category of “various,” but distributed those funds across the five district in its revised analysis.
A YES! Weekly analysis last month that examined similar data arrived at a different break down:
District 3, $68.4 million; District 4, $58.9 million; District 2, $52.4 million; District 5, $37.7 million; District 1, $37.4 million; and citywide impact, $171.8 million.
As an example of the kind of project that adds up in the capital improvement spending across the city, the council approved a $4.5 million contract with KRG Utility on Jan. 4 to rehab deteriorating sewer lines in Glenwood that were originally installed in the 1930s and 1940s. The neighborhood is located in District 1. — JG
Service project targets energy efficiency in Warnersville
Let’s Raise a Million, a student-led initiative to switch out conventional light bulbs with energyefficient compact fluorescent light bulbs in low-income communities, will be in Greensboro on Jan. 17 for Martin Luther King Day. Working with local partners the Warnersville Historical & Beautification Society, Ignite Greensboro, Face to Face GSO, the Beloved Community Center, Democracy at Home and Campus Progress, Let’s Raise a Million plans to deploy hundreds of college students in the Warnersville neighborhood.
The event launches at 1 p.m. at the Warnersville Recreation Center, located at 601 Doak St. Last year, Let’s Raise a Million and a similar consortium of local organizations installed compact fluorescent light bulbs in homes in Greensboro’s East White Oak neighborhood. To volunteer or learn more about the project, contact Ashley Watkins at 336.402.1873 or visit www.letsraiseamillion.org.
Meanwhile, Greensboro College students plan to sort products at the distribution center of the Welfare Reform Liaison Project, assist with a memorial service and lunch at the Interactive Resource Center, cut and tie no-sew blankets at Bennett College for Project Linus, and sort and pack groceries at Food Assistance, along with participating in the Let’s Raise a Million project. — JG