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The Heart and Soul of Greensboro

May 15, 2012

The Greensboro city council has approved the beginning of a process to put a $30M bond referendum on the November ballot for the construction of a downtown performing art center, after a presentation from the task force assigned to conduct citizen awareness activities. Trudy Wade and Marikay Abuzuaiter voted against beginning the process as being premature and Zack Matheny indicated he has grave concerns as to whether the bond referendum should occur.

Mayor Robbie Perkins gave an impassioned speech in support of the effort just prior to the vote. He began by saying downtown was the heart and soul of Greensboro. I take issue with that contention. I could easily spend the rest of my life in this city and never again visit downtown. There is not a restaurant, bar or retail establishment downtown which I consider essential to my quality of life.

Additionally, Perkins and his developer friends have built shopping centers all over this city as far as ten miles from downtown. Many of them have stood partially empty since the day they were built. Worse, shopping centers such as The Village at North Elm have been directly responsible for the demise of other established neighborhood shopping centers such as Golden Gate.

Greensboro’s developers cannot worship sprawl for generations and then suddenly pretend a new commitment to urban living. For Perkins to suggest such a thing is political hypocrisy.

The reality is Greensboro’s wine and cheese crowd are and have been a bunch of rank amateurs. It is their fault we are in no position to compete with the other major cities in our region. This is an ambition held only by members of Starmount, Sedgefield, Grandover and Greensboro Country Club. The rest of us could care less how we compare to Durham, Raleigh or Charlotte.

The citizens who must bear the cost of these bonds have sent an unmistakable message by their failure to participate in this predetermined outcome driven process that they will not approve bonds and will oust any council which spends public funds otherwise for this ludicrous notion. Spend the money to maintain and improve the Coliseum if you will, but a compelling case has not been made for the establishment of a downtown performing arts center.

Greensboro citizens who desire to see a Broadway show are welcome to avail themselves of other nearby venues or fly to NYC. It appears most of our council members are quite aware of voter sentiment on this issue. If Perkins wishes to stake his political career tilting at this windmill, so be it. We will retire him at the next opportunity for those who seek elective office by listening to their constituents who truly are the heart and soul of this city.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2012 2:15 am

    I like to see the arts center and hope it is done right. The city needs a spark in our tourism department. I hope if possible that it can be done like Durham on a private operation and still making money for the city. The time sucks because of the state of the city but that’s life. I just hop that the report is as fair as possible because if it can not pay itself off then I say wait but if we can make money then go for it. I just want it done right.

  2. May 16, 2012 3:15 am

    I also like to see other venues go private and less government. I think with less government that these entertainment venues can make money. I also like to see a police merger and the end to GPD. The merger will save money, more cops on the street, the sheriff can fire at will problem childs. The police chief is managed by 9 people where the sheriff is elected by all the people. This will solve a lot of issues with our public safety, it has worked in other cities, no more lawsuits.

  3. May 16, 2012 9:33 am

    Let’s, the Arts Center is projected to be profitable in as little as 3 years. Great, it can help out the International Civil Rights Museum and ACC Hall of Champions; both were predicted to be profitable in a short period.

    • May 16, 2012 10:28 am

      John Hammer has done a great job of exposing the insincerity of this process. But it’s not as though I’m against everything. I think maintaining and improving the Coliseum is a good idea. And I’d love to hear the plan which exists to expand the Carolina Theater. The dog and pony show we witnessed last night is a relic of old style politics. Even if we don’t have a dispassionate daily newspaper, we do have blogs and lots more engaged citizens. This kind of pretended public inquiry to support a venue we cannot afford will not stand.

      • May 16, 2012 9:40 pm

        In the next year or 2, the Coliseum Improvement Bonds will be paid in full. That frees up the Hotel/Motel Tax (nearly $3 Million). If we gave Matt Brown that cash, he could make almost all the improvements he recently proposed in his $24 Million Bond Pitch.

        Now, he would have to budget carefully, as that $3 Million would cover any operating losses as well as any capitol improvements. He would also need to prioritize as well.

  4. May 16, 2012 1:03 pm

    I like to know more on the company doing the report for the arts center. Their report is in favor of it but I like to know if they have ever been wrong. I would love to see an Arts Center that is unmatched in this state but we got to be able to support it and not make another mony pit.

  5. May 16, 2012 9:28 pm

    “…we are in no position to compete with the other major cities in our region. This is an ambition held only by members of Starmount, Sedgefield, Grandover and Greensboro Country Club. The rest of us could care less how we compare to Durham, Raleigh or Charlotte.”

    Amen to that.

    • May 16, 2012 9:31 pm

      Strange. I didn’t expect you to have a strong opinion on this issue. Of course, dealing with the homeless seems like a much better ambition.

      • May 17, 2012 8:55 am

        Consigning individuals to a group, based on a single alleged characteristic, for the purposes of dismissing them and the thing you actually oppose is weak beer.

        It also seems snobby to assume that only a certain group of the haute bourgeoisie might enjoy the performing arts, or want good facilities for same.

        Like it or not, Greensboro is a good-sized city for this state, and the market town for a large region. Pursuing amenities just because other places have them is foolish, but not pursuing them for that reason is even more foolish. Do we need this? Do we want this? Can we afford this? Those are the relevant questions.

  6. May 16, 2012 9:58 pm

    I have a strong opinion about Greensboro. This is my town, my home, and I love it here. If I wanted to live in Durham, Raleigh or Charlotte, then I’d live there. But I choose to live here.

    We are a great small city. A big town. A great place to live. I’d like to see us nurture what we have — invest our money wisely into our existing community, rather than trying to become the next… whatever.

    My 2¢. FWIW. ;)

    • May 16, 2012 10:55 pm

      Yeah, Robbie has a history of delusions of grandeur. I mistook it for a well-defined sense of vision when what he really wants is the Robert V. Perkins Performing Arts Center. Despite what those afflicted with Perkins Derangement Syndrome allege, he has neither the organizational ability nor the charisma to pull it off. What I witnessed last night was a virtual mutiny of council members who’ve come to realize the emperor has no clothes. It may well be that by showing his hand so brazenly with this process, he’s exhausted whatever political capital he may have had. At this point, I think it’s a foregone conclusion the PAC deal is dead and we’ll have a new mayor next election.

  7. May 16, 2012 10:58 pm

    Don, I think reasonable people agree Matt and Robbie are welcome to improve the Coliseum, but the PAC is a project too far, politically. My take is there is a disconnect of perception between the lack of impact the laboring economy is having on them and the rest of us.

  8. Hamztran permalink
    May 16, 2012 10:58 pm

    “In the next year or 2, the Coliseum Improvement Bonds will be paid in full. That frees up the Hotel/Motel Tax (nearly $3 Million). If we gave Matt Brown that cash, he could make almost all the improvements he recently proposed in his $24 Million Bond Pitch.”

    I wonder if that is why they went with a variable rate until 2015.

    Is that when they can sell more GO’s?

    If that is the case, they are taking a big interest rate risk
    with a variable rate longer than a year
    after the Bernank said he would hold rates still.

    They may have to lock in at a much higher interest rate.

    If the municipal market does what some believe,
    we could get kicked in the nuts with this.

    • May 16, 2012 11:06 pm

      I thought you did a much better job last night speaking to council and made some critical points. It was a bad night for Robbie and by getting in his face you made it worse.

      Congrats.

      Part of the problem is over $100M of bonds have already been approved. They need to exhaust those commitments to the citizens before considering new projects like the PAC.

  9. Hamztran permalink
    May 16, 2012 11:24 pm

    Thanks,

    What I found interesting is the consultant who came in with an economic impact of $7 million, compared to the far out numbers from the Coliseum crowd.

    • May 16, 2012 11:56 pm

      Whatever numbers are fetched up, the N&R can be counted on to repeat them without question.

  10. May 17, 2012 1:19 am

    I still think that the coliseum complex should go into an authority and taken out of city control. This will allow the board to stop wasting money because they dont have an open check book from the city. I would love the arts center but I do have some concerns, the speed of the thing, the company handling the report and the timing with our economy. I say go for it if the report is truthful and money can be made.

    As per caramichele I see her point and understand her concern, not sure if she works with the homeless and if she does that is cool. I did some work back in the day with the group and I like to see government help the poor but I was not elected to council in 2011 so I could not execute my plan to help.

  11. May 17, 2012 1:21 am

    just a note

    I like you FEC, you good people, great website.

  12. May 17, 2012 9:13 am

    Ed, like I said at your place: I’m less concerned with my feelings or Perkins comments. It’s the process I have problems with. However, if I can make the country club set the poster children for this mess in order to assign blame, I feel no remorse.

    BTW, I addressed your concerns with this post in the subsequent one on the issue.

  13. May 17, 2012 6:36 pm

    I think real country clubbers are a lot more interested in golf, tennis, and social butt-sniffing than urban dong-measuring, and the real rich people get their Broadway on Broadway.

    To whatever extent this is about something other than building a nice thing that would be great for GSO, it’s about real estate, like everything else in this town.

    Sure, the real estate players may also be CC members, but it seems unfair to damn perfectly nice and utterly clueless seersucker-wearing whist players of such unseemly behavior. And I was surprised to see Michele join the chorus.

    • May 17, 2012 8:06 pm

      Ed, what I’m reacting to (and I realized, after the fact, that you can’t read my mind) is comments like Ron’s at your blog about “some folks want[ing] Greensboro to be just an over sized Mayberry” and others in Facebook threads (for example, one about Greensboro being a “K&W” kind of town) that seem to imply that if you’re not in favor of the PAC, then you’re kind of a hick.

      I’m all for the arts and nice things and I have nothing against country clubbers. But I do agree that there are a lot of us who “could care less how we compare to Durham, Raleigh or Charlotte.” I don’t mean that in a negative way, just that we’re different and I like who we [as a city and community] are. I should have been more clear about that. My apologies.

      So, to clarify, I “joined the chorus” on that comment not as a commentary on the PAC or country clubbers, but simply to say, I’m one of those people who doesn’t care how we compare to those other cities. I already know we’re better! :)

    • May 17, 2012 8:23 pm

      Ed, I understand your linking to this post caused some trouble for you in your social set. While the reality may be they are perfectly nice people with little to no interest in a downtown PAC, for my purposes in damning the effort, it is necessary that I allude to the stereotypical country club such as the one depicted in Caddy Shack. If Bendover and Sludgefield are ill used, so be it. Politics often has little use for the truth, as we are witnessing from the opposition. My aim is not to be nice or even fair, but to win.

  14. May 17, 2012 8:19 pm

    I want us to be a great Greensboro. Not sure we’ve done as good a job of that in our down years as we might have. A great Greensboro might have a nice downtown PAC, even if such exist elsewhere.

    • May 17, 2012 8:24 pm

      I think we can agree the process up to now has been grievously flawed.

    • May 17, 2012 8:46 pm

      “I want us to be a great Greensboro.”

      I think it’s all a matter of perspective and what “a great Greensboro” means to each of us.

  15. Curtains permalink
    May 18, 2012 8:02 am

    “My aim is not to be nice or even fair, but to win.”

    Fec

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