by Jordan Green

Tea party and ‘establishment’ contend for control of Guilford GOP

Tensions between the tea-party insurgents and what’s called the party “establishment” from last year’s election have cropped up in the Guilford County GOP contest for party chair, scheduled for March 14.

Theresa Yon, who unsuccessfully challenged Democratic incumbent Maggie Jeffus in NC House District 59 last year, is seeking the position of chair as part of a slate that also includes Al Bouldin for vice chair, Hallie Jessup for treasurer and Nancy Bishop for secretary. Should the slate be elected, Yon said she plans to appoint Mike Picarelli as executive director.

“I won’t interfere in policy as chair,” Yon told YES! Weekly. “My job would be to raise money, organize precincts, recruit candidates and make sure the candidates have what they need to try and win. Nothing more, nothing less. Legislators and PACs can influence policy. I can’t. It isn’t glamorous, and hopefully no one will be seeing me on YouTube, in the paper very often or anywhere else. I like behind the scenes just fine. Our team has already been hard at work planning for months how to do those things.”

Also vying for the position of chair is Jeff Hyde, a cofounder of Conservatives for Guilford County and an unsuccessful candidate for the NC Senate seat currently occupied by Democrat Don Vaughan. In a public letter announcing his candidacy, Hyde pledged to steer the Guilford County Republican Party in a more rightward direction in line with the politics of conservative “champions” Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

Hyde said his role in setting policy for the local party will be primarily focused on recruiting candidates whose positions align with conservative principles of limited government, low taxes and reducing regulation of business.

“As far as recruitment goes, doesn’t it make sense that if your body believes one principle that your party would want to go out and recruit candidates that share those same goals?” he asked. “If the candidates’ beliefs are different than the general membership’s, then it’s hard to get volunteers to volunteer.”

Hyde has some detractors, among them Tony Wilkins, who is winding up his tenure as executive director under current chair Bill Wright.

“One only need to go back to last year’s election to see the stark contrast in character of the two candidates vying for chair,” Wilkins told YES! Weekly, who qualified that his statement should not be construed as reflecting the party. “Not once did Theresa Yon run a cloudy and questionable raffle, misquote the Speaker of the House without adequate explanation, or plagiarize a speech…. Theresa and her slate of officers would bring a leadership chemistry of energy and experience and would serve the party in an honorable fashion.”

Hyde responded, “Tony Wilkins can do whatever he wants to. If he wants to say that I’m not a man of character in your paper then that’s fine. I think he’s a delegate to the convention. I think he gets a vote.”

Hyde added that he believes Wilkins and Don Vaughan, along with wife Nancy Vaughan, instigated controversy over a fundraising raffle by his campaign and noted that the State Board of Elections found no wrongdoing at the conclusion of its investigation into the matter.

Hyde questioned why Wilkins did not express opprobrium about the State Board of Elections toward Don Vaughan when the State Board of Elections assessed a fine for a campaign finance reporting violation. The campaign has appealed the fine.

Conservatives for Guilford County members were miffed when, in recent months, Wilkins received an endorsement for Greensboro City Council from Nancy Vaughan, who is registered as an unaffiliated voter and serves as mayor pro tem.

Fired police captain considering run for mayor

A former police captain who was fired from the Greensboro Police Department last year after assisting other officers in filing grievances alleging discrimination and retaliation and making his own complaints is considering a run for mayor.

Charles Cherry told a group assembled for a Black History Service of Justice program tonight at an east Greensboro church that he is considering running for mayor and will make a decision in the next couple weeks.

“If I am blessed enough to be elected, I promise you accountability,” he said.

Cherry would be the fourth candidate for mayor in an already crowded field. Mayor Bill Knight has announced plans to run for reelection. At-large Councilman Robbie Perkins and former Councilman Tom Phillips have also indicated plans to seek the seat.

Cherry took sitting council members Mary Rakestraw and Zack Matheny to task for making disparaging remarks about James Hinson, an officer who was recently promoted to captain, in The Rhinoceros Times, asserting that the statements were slanderous and increase the city’s liability in a number of discrimination claims that are working their way through the courts.

He also condemned racial profiling incidents reported by citizens, including an anecdote provided by Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small about a man who reported being repeatedly asked to show ID in downtown Greensboro as a part of youth curfew enforcement that went into effect at the beginning of this year.

Cherry said council should “look at every other alternative” for disposing of its solid waste short of reopening the White Street Landfill. He criticized the council for raising objections last year to acceptance of a $5 million energy-efficiency stimulus grant and then approving it only on condition that it be used throughout the city instead of in targeted, low-income areas in east Greensboro.

“When we got that $5 million, it was for a specific purpose: It was for the less fortunate individuals in this community to give to upgrade their homes — the poor people,” Cherry said. “The first thing the city council wanted to do was send the money back. Why would you want to send $5 million in stimulus money back? Those are questions that we need to ask. And we need to ask them publicly. Finally, they decided to keep the money, and they didn’t utilize it the way the grant asked for. So people who really didn’t need the money were able to have the money, so the poor and working people weren’t the ones who got the money — or all the money.”

Winston-Salem claims sister city in Liberia A decision by the Winston-Salem City Council will establish a sister cities partnership with Buchanan, Liberia, the nation’s thirdlargest city. Residents of Salem emigrated to Liberia through the American Colonization Society as far back as 1836, according to a city press release, and at the end of the Civil War the Moravian church established a neighborhood for freed slaves called Liberia. Originally part of the Schumann plantation, the area is now known as the Happy Hills community. The press release states that the Liberian Organization of the Piedmont advocated for the partnership with Buchanan, which is named after Thomas Buchanan, the first governor of Liberia and cousin of US President James Buchanan.

Items for Greensboro council’s information

City of Greensboro “staff is exploring a process called Bid-to-Goal (BTG), which is a strategic alternative to full privatization,” allowing public sector competition for services considered for privatization, City Manager Rashad Young tells council members in a recent memo.

An analysis by Nelsie Smith, assistant to the city manager, finds that Greensboro has the highest tax burden of any city in the state when considering property tax rate alone. Yet when service fees are included, Smith concluded that Greensboro falls in the middle of the cohort, behind Charlotte and Durham. Smith writes, “The analysis shows that Greensboro’s tax base is growing the slowest among our peers and it takes a higher rate to generate the same amount of property tax revenue in Greensboro than in Raleigh and Charlotte.”

A report commissioned by Downtown Greensboro Inc. takes a dim view of the idea of closing South Elm Street to car traffic as a strategy to manage crowds.

“Several notable cases exist of this strategy creating a negative impact on the hospitality zone, such as in Austin, TX and Tampa, FL,” the report by the Responsible Hospitality Institute states. “In both cases, the street became a ‘party’ for late-night revelers, and noise levels tend to increase.” The report recommends, “Greensboro stakeholders should weigh this option carefully.”