by Jordan Green

Winston-Salem council tables marriage amendment resolution

Items from across the Triad and beyond

The Winston-Salem City Council took a pass on a proposed resolution to oppose the marriage amendment on Monday after West Ward Councilman Robert Clark voted against allowing the item on the meeting agenda. City ordinance requires a unanimous vote for council to consider an item that has not been previously approved by a committee.

The council will discuss the proposed motion to oppose the marriage amendment on April 23 at 5:30 p.m. during what is known as a committee of the whole meeting. The council will also consider whether to put a $100 million bond issue before voters in November at that meeting in spite of City Manager Lee Garrity’s recommendation that council not pursue the investment this year.

South Ward Councilwoman Molly Leight proposed the resolution against the marriage amendment.

“Anything that concerns the citizens of Winston- Salem, anything that concerns discrimination against citizens of Winston-Salem is the business of the city council,” Leight said after the decision to postpone the vote. “I think it’s going to give us a bad rap. I hate that we’re last again.” Other city councils across the state including Greensboro have already gone on record against the amendment.

Four council members, including Leight, Southwest Ward Councilman Dan Besse, East Ward Councilman Derwin Montgomery and Southeast Ward Councilman James Taylor Jr. have signed the resolution.

The council heard from upwards of a dozen residents, including Wake Forest University law professor Suzanne Reynolds and Assistant District Attorney Mike Silver, who said they are concerned the amendment could invalidate domestic-violence protection orders for victims who are in unmarried relationships with their abusers. — JG

Regional transit faces a crunch

The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation, or PART, is proposing service reductions in the midst of a $1.2 million budget shortfall as a result in a reduction in car rentals, which provides the regional transit service’s sole stream of revenue through taxes. The governing bodies of the services member counties declined last year to consider a vehicle license fee, which would provide a more stable funding source.

The inevitable proposed service reductions include scaling back half-hour service from Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point peak hours before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m. and reduction of service in some rural routes to twice a day.

Executive Director Brent McKinney confirmed that evening service between Greensboro and Winston- Salem, which has the highest ridership rates, has been falling behind schedule. The delays, he said, result from increased ridership as gas prices have risen. The funding limitations imposed on the authority prevent service enhancements that would encourage ridership and allow greater cost efficiencies.

A public hearing on the proposed service reductions is scheduled for May 9 at 8:30 a.m. at the authority’s offices at 7800 Airport Drive in Greensboro. — JG

Protesters say jail shouldn’t be filled

Drawing comparisons between the new Guilford County jail and Weaver Academy across the street, residents criticized the role jails play in our society last week. Over 50 people held signs, marched and listened to speakers, saying the new jail may be nearing completion, but it shouldn’t be filled.

“To me, this building symbolizes our failure as a society,” the Rev. Frank Dew told the crowd outside the jail. Dew said there should be bonds to eliminate homelessness or to deal with poverty and hunger instead of for a $115 million jail. Speakers from different community groups, like Occupy Greensboro, said families and neighborhoods were destroyed by imprisonment, and that other countries have far fewer people in prison and preventative programs to reduce crime. Protesters said incarceration has a ripple effect that is often not considered.

“I can’t get housing because of my criminal record,” said GTCC student Timothy X.

Sheriff BJ Barnes originally planned to move inmates into the facility May 1, but the date has been pushed back because the building hasn’t received a certificate of occupancy yet. No opening date has been set. — EG

From rival to surrogate

Winston-Salem City Councilman Dan Besse might have been the last person expected to campaign for gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton. After all, the two ran against each other for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 2008, not to mention that Besse is an avowed progressive and Dalton holds a reputation for centrism.

But Besse found himself stumping for Dalton at the Forsyth County Democratic Convention on April 14.

Besse said later that during the 2008 campaign he got to know Dalton and found him to be a good listener, a committed public servant and someone willing to change his mind on human-rights issues such as marriage equality. “In terms of education, that’s one of the things all candidates talk about because it’s broadly popular, but Dalton is one of those political leaders who has made a priority of doing the work,” Besse said. “This is a time in political history where our public education from top to bottom is under concerted attack from the far right. I think it’s important to have someone leading the state ticket who has a depth of understanding on these issues and has a record of working on these issues.”. — JG