by Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond

Voter ID skirmish touches off in Forsyth

The Forsyth County Commission’s 4-3 vote to endorse state legislation requiring voters to show photo ID before exercising their franchise on Monday was not the last word on the issue; nor was it intended to be. The commission has no authority on the matter, and the motion’s only practical effect was to force the commissioners to go on record on a politically divisive issue.

“This is 2012,” said Republican Commissioner Bill Whiteheart, who made the motion. “Picture IDs are a way of life. 9-11 has brought us to this, along with many other things. This is a reasonable requests, and it’s fair.”

Democratic Commissioner Everette Witherspoon charged, “This is just a ploy by Commissioner Whiteheart to get some attention for his state House campaign, and to give the Republican Party some motivation going into [an election]. But when you talk about the most sacred right of a US citizen, the most sacred right of a North Carolina citizen, we shouldn’t be playing politics with these rights.”

Whiteheart is challenging Rep. Julia Howard in NC House District 79. Witherspoon is running for the open House District 71 seat.

The NC NAACP has warned county commissions against seeking local legislation allowing counties to implement piecemeal voter ID restrictions, citing opinions by the executive director of the NC Institute for Constitutional Law and a state chief deputy attorney general.

Daphne Holmes-Johnson, assistant treasurer for the NC NAACP, said in an interview on Tuesday that the organization will be closely monitoring the General Assembly when it convenes for a short session in April for attempts to pass either statewide or local voter ID measures.

“We will fight and we will sue to block any attempts at voter suppression,” she said.

Greensboro police chief proposes ban on ‘amplified voice’

In the latest development in Greensboro’s noise wars, police Chief Ken Miller has proposed a set of recommendations to interim City Manager Denise Turner Roth to resolve the dispute. Miller proposes banning “amplified voice” after 11 p.m., which he characterizes as “a specific factor of numerous complaints.”

The March 21 memo does not define “amplified voice” or clarify whether it refers to singing, rapping or emceeing, poetry, spoken-word or comedy performances. Also left unexplained is whether any of these categories of entertainment have legally meaningful definitions and whether police officers are qualified to distinguish among them.

Miller also proposes measuring outdoor sound from commercial establishments at 25 feet from the source or the wall of the venue and raising the acceptable decibel level from 65 to 70 between 11 p.m. and 2 p.m. — prime clubbing hours. Amplified sound would be banned after 2 a.m., when bars and clubs stop serving alcohol, and civil penalties would be added to give the ordinance more teeth.

Linville: Forsyth tax rate will remain the same this year

Forsyth County Commission Chairman Richard Linville told a Republican gathering at Golden Corral last night that he has instructed County Manager Dudley Watts to present a budget with no tax increase after consulting with a majority of his fellow commissioners. The county is anticipating a $7.5 million budget shortfall this year, and the county manager told commissioners in February that the 2014 revaluation could result in a loss of $11.4 million in revenue. Linville and two other Republican incumbents, including Gloria Whisenhunt and Dave Plyler, face five primary challengers. The May 8 primary will determine which three Republicans go on to the general election with Democratic candidate Gail McNeill. The district favors Republicans by registration and voting history.

Some of the challengers are promoting their willingness to make tough decisions in pursuing fiscal and social conservative goals. Mark Baker, a Tobaccoville town councilman, pledges to reduce taxes. Jimmie Boyd charges that too many candidates are promoting tax-raising agendas. And Gene Lowder told Republican regulars last night: “As a Republican, I’ve always believed in lower taxes, fewer services and fewer entitlements.”