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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ulysses Long - America's Got Talent - My extended family

I call him Ulysses S. Long - U.S. Long. He was the entertainer at my Aunt's restaurant on weekends, mainly Saturday Evenings, until she closed last August. Ulysses sang "How Great Thou Art" at my Uncle Alex Moore's and my Grandmother Martha Shell's funerals. He has been like an extended member of my family since around 1987 when he began playing regularly at 1859 Cafe.

Ulysses lives in Statesville, but has been a big part of the Hickory music scene. I think this community should fully embrace Ulysses and his talent in this quest to make a name for himself on the national scene. Ulysses is amazing with the amount of material that he has memorized and that memorization does not come across as being mechanical. Ask him a pop or religious song and he probably knows it. He sang "On The Road Again" at my Uncle's funeral in his honor, because Alex loved Willie Nelson.

I know that his hobby is collecting old television programs and other events that have cultural significance. He loves old Ed Sullivan shows. I think that is where the whole Love Boat theme came from. He has an archive of old shows that a lot of people would envy and he can talk to you about specific episodes of old shows. He also can tell you all kinds of rare facts about music. If Ulysses is given a chance to succeed he will surprise these pop culture icons and you will find out how amazing someone from our community truly is.

Stuff like this makes life worth it. It puts life in perspective. It shows that we all have got a chance to do great things if we put ourselves forward. Thank You Ulysses... I needed the inspiration. We all could use a little inspiration!

I have created a Facebook Fan Club Page for Ulysses - please feel free to join and show your support.

Ulysses on America's Got Talent

Ulysses performing Rollin on a River at 1859 Cafe

Ulysses sings How Great Thou Art at my Grandmother's Funeral

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Mayor on Hal Row's show from April 2, 2012 about Larry Pope

The information presented here is part of the pattern that I discussed with you on Saturday. I don't think that anyone's goal is to  slander or libel the Mayor as he stated that Larry Pope had gone right up to the edge of doing related to his address of the City Council on March 6, 2012. That subject came up in the Hal Row show interview below and Larry calls in to defend himself. Then there is the Mayor's submission to the HDR this past weekend (May 26, 2012) where he states that there are "inaccuracies, errone­ous conclusions and misquotes" in Harry Hipps' presentation from two weeks prior in relation to comments made on Hal's Monday May 7, 2012 interview with the Mayor.

Mayor Wright doesn't seem to want to have any back and forth discussion with anyone about city issues. He has told Rebecca Inglefield to call him on his cell phone, but mainly refuses to engage her in discussions at City Council meetings in relation to her concerns. People have tried to engage the Mayor at City Council to no avail. The Mayor tells people "This is not a debate" when they request to be heard. It makes people feel like the Mayor and City Council could care less about their concerns. Hal offers the Mayor a chance to respond to Larry's comments made during that April show and the Mayor states that he isn't going to respond to (Larry's comments), because he has responded time and again... and then goes on to say that Larry's comments aren't worthy of response.

I don't think anyone wants to have this kind of public relationship with Mayor Wright. They want to understand where he is coming from. They want to understand his decision making process. That is what would happen with open processes and engagement. The Mayor constantly tells us we are wrong, but never gives us reasons why we are wrong.

One suggestion that I have made is to have Town Hall meetings. Another idea is that we move Citizens Requesting to be heard to the beginning of City Council meetings, instead of at the end where eveyone is looking to wrap up the session. This would correlate perfectly with the problems we have seen with the Consent Agenda. People could voice concerns about issues with the Meeting Agenda before the items are voted upon. This would be the best move towards open engagement and full disclosure relating to pertinent city issues.

Like I have said, I don't think anyone is purposefully mischaracterizing the positions of the Mayor, Hickory City Council or Administration. And personally, I don't feel like they have been mischaracterized. I don't think we are on the wrong path. If we don't have the facts, figures, and information, then open the books and give us the facts that might sway our opinion. If we don't have the information, then whose fault is that? Superfluous propaganda isn't going to cut it though. We need substance, not rhetoric.

Mayor Wright on Hal Row's Show in which Larry Pope calls in

Larry Pope's address of City Council on March 6, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- May 27, 2012

Number of the Week: Half of U.S. Lives in Household Getting Benefits - Wall Street Journal - Phil Izzo - May 26, 2012 - 49.1%: Percent of the population that lives in a household where at least one member received some type of government benefit in the first quarter of 2011.                  Cutting government spending is no easy task, and it’s made more complicated by recent Census Bureau data showing that nearly half of the people in the U.S. live in a household that receives at least one government benefit, and many likely received more than one.               The 49.1% of the population in a household that gets benefits is up from 30% in the early 1980s and 44.4% as recently as the third quarter of 2008.                         The increase in recent years is likely due in large part to the lingering effects of the recession. As of early 2011, 15% of people lived in a household that received food stamps, 26% had someone enrolled in Medicaid and 2% had a member receiving unemployment benefits. Families doubling up to save money or pool expenses also is likely leading to more multigenerational households. But even without the effects of the recession, there would be a larger reliance on government.

JPMorgan sued over employee retirement plan losses - Reuters - Jonathan Stempel - May 22, 2012 - JPMorgan Chase & Co has been hit with a lawsuit brought on behalf of employees whose retirement holdings fell in value after the largest U.S. bank revealed a surprise $2 billion trading loss earlier this month.               The complaint, filed late Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, also names individual defendants, including Chief Executive Jamie Dimon and Ina Drew, who stepped down last week as head of JPMorgan's chief investment office, where the loss occurred.           The defendants were accused of violating their duties to 401(k) and other retirement plan participants by including company stock as an investment option, hiding the stock's risk, and failing to move participants to safer choices.

JP Morgan 'faces £4bn loss' from trading blunders in one of Square Mile's worst catastrophes - The Daily Mail (London) - Ruth Sutherland - May 22, 2012 - British losses at the JP Morgan bank could double initial estimates and top £4billion – making it one of the worst trading catastrophes ever to hit the Square Mile.                The warning came as details emerged of bitter rows between the firm’s offices on Wall Street and in London, where the ill-fated deals took place.                 The bank chief executive Jamie Dimon admitted earlier this month that the losses racked up by a team of traders in London amounted to around £1.25billion and could rise to £1.875billion.                But rival dealers now believe the black hole could swell to as much as £4.4billion as the bank struggles to unravel the highly complex deals amid turmoil in the eurozone....

CBO: 'Fiscal Cliff' Could Push US Back Into Recession - Money - May 23, 2012 - A stalemate over how to tackle a series of fiscal deadlines at year's end would likely push the United States economy into recession in the first half of next year, the Congressional Budget Office warned.              A wave of U.S. tax hikes and automatic spending cuts — dubbed the "fiscal cliff" — are set to take effect in January unless Congress and the White House agree on ways to delay or revise at least some of them.                  The CBO, the official budget and economic analyst for lawmakers, said the U.S. economy would contract at an annual rate of 1.3 percent for the first half of 2013 if lawmakers take no action to prevent the looming tax hikes and spending cuts.

Marc Faber: 100% Chance of Global Recession - CNBC - Lee Brodie - May 25, 2012 - a live interview on CNBC’s Fast Money Halftime Report, Faber again warned that economies of the world may be on the brink of a serious slowdown.                Faber indicated that while investors remain focused on Greece and Europe – other issues, bigger issues are looming. And they’re more threatening.                           “As an observer of markets – whenever everyone focuses on one thing – like Greece and Europe – maybe they miss issues that are far more important – such as a meaningful slowdown in India and China.”                      The latest reports from Beijing would support Faber's assertion.  The HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers Index, slipped to 48.7 in May from 49.3 in April. That marks the seventh straight month that the index has been below 50, a level which indicates economic activity is contracting.....                     “I think we could have a global recession either in Q4 or early 2013." When asked what were the odds, Faber replied, "100%."

Peter Schiff: The Worst Has Yet To Come - 
- The Business Insider - William Wei - May 24, 2012
- While we experienced a devastating crash in 2009, it was just a preview for the catastrophe that's coming next, says perma-bear Peter Schiff.                  The real crash will come from the "government's phony cure" for the economic troubles that have swept our nation, Schiff details in his new book The Real Crash: How To Save Yourself And Your Country.                   Find out what the crash will look like and why it could have been avoided in the interview with Business Insider editor-in-chief Henry Blodget:

PETER SCHIFF: The Housing Bust Was Just A Preview For The Coming Catastrophe
- Euro Pacific Capital - Peter Schiff - May 23, 2012 - I first came to national attention back in 2008 and 2009 when the housing and credit markets imploded. I became known as the guy that other market “experts” laughed at when I warned of trouble brewing in the seemingly indestructible American economy. After the wheels ground to a halt in mid-2008, people noticed that my book Crash Proof, originally released in early 2007, read like a detailed preview of many of the events that eventually unfolded.                       Three years later I am now catching heat from many who assume that my predictions actually fell short. They argue that I was able to anticipate the crash but that I severely underestimated the resiliency of the American economy. They admit that we took an “unexpected” blow to the chin, and that it left a lingering bruise, but they argue that we never hit the canvas like I predicted we would.                      However, they mistakenly assumed that the crash I was warning about was solely a housing led credit bubble. While that was part of it, I never saw it ending there. The crash that most concerned me was the one that would result from the government’s response to the initial crisis. My concern was not that our economy would succumb to the disease that I had diagnosed, but instead would be taken down by the “cure” that the government unleashed to combat it.....

HP prepares to announce mass layoffs - CNN Money - David Goldman and Michal Lev-Ram - May 23, 2012 -  Hewlett-Packard will announce another round of substantial job cuts Wednesday afternoon in an effort to streamline its teetering PC and services businesses, a source familiar with the plans told Fortune.               The layoffs will be "in the ballpark" of 25,000 workers, the source said, which would amount to about 7% of HP's global workforce. The nation's largest technology company by revenue currently employs 349,600 people worldwide, according to its latest regulatory filing.                      CEO Meg Whitman is trying to reorganize the tech giant into a leaner, more efficient powerhouse, but she faces a massively uphill battle.                    The overall PC industry is stuck in neutral, but HP (HPQ, Fortune 500), the world's largest computer maker, is traveling in reverse at high speed. The company's PC sales fell 15% during the holiday season, with consumer computer sales tumbling 25%.....                  HP has deep problems in the market. It missed the boat on tablets and failed to produce a viable smartphone. As the world goes mobile and leaves PCs behind, HP is struggling to stay relevant.
It's not alone. Dell (DELL, Fortune 500), which faces similar struggles, reported Tuesday that the company's lackluster PC sales dragged on its overall profit and revenue last quarter. Its stock fell more than 12% in after-hours trading.                    Whitman can trim some of HP's fat, realign the organization and make other iterative improvements, but there's not much she can do to significantly alter the company's prospects without making some drastic -- and painful -- changes.                      HP's past attempts to cut its way to better health haven't worked.  Then-CEO Mark Hurd axed 9,000 positions in June 2010. HP shed another 275 workers in February after the company discontinued the webOS lineup that it purchased from Palm.

Fake Chinese Parts 'Found In US Planes' - Sky News - May 22, 2012 - More than a million fake electronic parts from China have been found in US military aircraft, posing a risk to national security, an investigation has revealed.                        A report by the US Senate uncovered 1,800 cases of bogus parts - including some in special operations helicopters and the US Air Force's largest cargo plane. The total number of individual components involved in these cases exceeded one million, the Committee on Armed Services publication said.                          "This flood of counterfeit parts, overwhelmingly from China, threatens national security, the safety of our troops and American jobs," committee chairman Senator Carl Levin said."It underscores China's failure to police the blatant market in counterfeit parts - a failure China should rectify," he added....

Buffett Says Free News Unsustainable, May Add More Papers
- Bloomberg - Zachary Tracer - May 24, 2012Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) struck a deal this month to acquire 63 newspapers, said he may buy more publications as the industry rethinks whether to offer free content on the Internet.                     “This is an unsustainable model and certain of our papers are already making progress in moving to something that makes more sense,” Buffett wrote in a letter to editors and publishers of Berkshire’s daily newspapers. “We want your best thinking as we work out the blend of digital and print that will attract both the audience and the revenue we need.”.....                            While circulation may slip, papers only fail when there are dailies competing in the same town, a publication forfeits its position as the primary source of locally important information or the market doesn’t have a sense of identity, he said.                    “We don’t face those problems,” Buffett, 81, wrote in the letter dated yesterday and posted on the website of Berkshire’s Omaha World-Herald, which is in the Nebraska town where Buffett’s company is based. “Berkshire will probably purchase more papers in the next few years. We will favor towns and cities with a strong sense of community.”                 The billionaire investor said that editors should focus on making the papers “indispensable” to local communities.     “Our future depends on remaining the primary source of information in certain subjects of great importance to our readers,” Buffett wrote. “Technological change has caused us to lose primacy in various key areas, including national news, national sports, stock quotations and employment opportunities. So be it. Our job is to reign supreme in matters of local importance.”

Center of gravity in oil world shifts to Americas - Washington Post - Juan Forero - May 25, 2012 - ... From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005...            Since 2006, exports to the United States have fallen from all but one major member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the net decline adding up to nearly 1.8 million barrels a day. Canada, Brazil and Colombia have increased exports to the United States by 700,000 barrels daily in that time and now provide nearly 3.4 million barrels a day.                       Six Persian Gulf suppliers provide just 22 percent of all U.S. imports, the nonpartisan U.S. Energy Information Administration said this month. The United States’ neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, meanwhile, provide more than half — a figure that has held steady for years because, as production has fallen in the oil powers of Venezuela and Mexico, it has gone up elsewhere.                          Production has risen strikingly fast in places such as the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and the “tight” rock formations of North Dakota and Texas — basins with resources so hard to refine or reach that they were not considered economically viable until recently. Oil is gushing in once-dangerous regions of Colombia and far off the coast of Brazil, under thick salt beds thousands of feet below the surface.

Oil boom strikes Kansas - CNN Money - Blake Ellis - May 23, 2012

How Alcatel-Lucent made the Internet 5 times faster
- CNN Money - David Goldman - May 22, 2012

Americans concerned about Bank Runs

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mayor Rudy Wright takes on Harry Hipps in the HDR - May 26, 2012

Mayor Wright's article in the Hickory Daily Record today - May 26, 2012:

In a recent Letter to the Editor, Mr. Harry Hipps asserted that I “stated that there is a partisanship in Hickory politics that hasn’t been there before and is ‘a shame’.”

The comment that I made that he so badly misquoted was actually, “Until very recently I have not seen partisan politics brought into City Council, but recently we are seeing that and it’s shameful.” There is a big difference.

I am not going to go into a rebuttal of the rest of the letter, but there are many other inaccuracies, errone­ous conclusions and misquotes. I hope that when people try to quote me, they will make an effort to get it right.

Harry Hipps article in the Hickory Daily Record on May 11, 2012:

Monday morning Mayor Wright stated that there is a partisanship in Hickory politics that hasn’t been there before and is “a shame”. The Mayor may have been referring to the fact that more people are looking at Council’s actions and not liking what they see. Well, grow up. Competition of ideas and aspirations are usually present in a healthy democracy, and it’s long past due in Hickory. For too long the Council has done whatever they wanted with virtually no checks on their actions. There’s too much public apathy and little media scrutiny. It’s time people start taking notice and speaking up.

The City was embarrassed at the Council meeting by not knowing about the instructions for citizens removing items from the consent agenda THAT HAS BEEN THERE FOR YEARS. Why’s it just now an issue? Because no one has spoken up before. Council runs partly on autopilot and they obviously don’t read their own publications. Citizen’s awareness is a positive development. The Mayor has stated that they are reviewing the issue and will make it more democratic. I hope so.

We should also have televised meetings like other municipalities. Public documents should be on the internet within days and citizens shouldn’t have to travel to City Hall and grovel for staff to access a document for them. The agenda should be published on the internet with enough time for citizens to review it and plan to comment if desired.

The City has a history of not listening to the public and showing citizens disrespect. Surveys, committee recommendations, and individuals have been ignored when it doesn’t fit their predetermined agenda. So it’s not a surprise that there is not unanimity of opinion on City issues.

These projects seem to come off the cuff. We need a strategic, long term plan to get Hickory back to good health again. We are just drifting and hoping something will turn up if we just put more money into downtown. There is no cost/benefit analysis done, little or no public vetting or input, and no review after the fact to see if public dollars did lead to a return on investment. A little more professionalism and public dialogue would go a long way to getting the public to buy in without acrimony. Partisanship is not the problem, a government that is not adapting to the 21st century is. (Link to Harry's Unedited version as presented on the Hickory Hound)

The following is where I believe the Mayor is saying that "Partisan" politics were brought into the hallowed bastion of non-partisanship that is the Hickory City Council Chambers:

Two Resolutions were brought forward by the Catawba County Democrat Party and their Chairman Elizabeth Glenn at the City Council Meeting of May 3, 2011:

Recognition of Persons Requesting To Be Heard
Ms. Elizabeth Glynn, Chairman of the Catawba County Democratic Committee desires to present to City Council two (2) resolutions that have been adopted by the Democratic Party Committee


WHEREAS, the Catawba County Democratic Party's VISION declares that we are to be an "advocate for the people of this county who share” and

WHEREAS, that same Statement also declares that we will work to build a community which respects diversity…" and

WHEREAS, furthermore, it is a goal of the Party to "hold government 1eaders accountable for their political actions and policies by insisting upon openness" in government; and

WHEREAS, recent actions by the Hickory City Council with regard to closing and demolishing community pools in Ridgeview and Longview were taken in a sudden and somewhat high-handed manner without sufficient concern for community input; and

WHEREAS, the poor and minority community in Hickory has no effective voice in city government due to a lack of representation on the City Council;

THEREFORE: BE IT RESOLVED that the Catawba County Democratic Party declares its support for the Ridgeview Citizens for Equity in Government in their efforts to address the various issues facing the poor and minority communities in Ridgeview and throughout the City of

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Catawba County Democratic Party respectfully requests the Hickory City Council to seek and implement ways to show greater sensitivity for the legitimate concerns of under-represented minorities in this community.

Passed unanimously by delegates at the Catawba County Democratic Party annual convention on April 16. 2011.

Elizabeth Glynn, Chair, Catawba County Democratic Party


WHEREAS, in 1970, the City of Hickory changed from a pure ward system to a modified at-large system for electing City Council members; and

WHEREAS, this change created an electoral system which has eventually led to the under-representation of poor and minority citizens in elected positions; and

WHEREAS, for there to be a truly representative democracy in city government, it is essential for these under-represented minorities to have an effective voice in civic affairs; and

WHEREAS, the modified at-large electoral system now in place essentially denies that possibility and thus insures that representative democracy is diminished in our community;

THEREFORE: BE IT RESOLVED that the Catawba County Democratic Party urges the City of Hickory to act to either return to the pure ward electoral system or during the upcoming redistricting from the 2010 Census, re-establish a Majority/Minority Ward in Hickory to assure just representation for all on the Hickory City Council.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be presented to City Council at the earliest possible date following its approval by the Catawba County Democratic Party.

Passed unanimously by delegates at the Catawba County Democratic Party annual convention on April 16, 2011.

Elizabeth Glynn, Chair, Catawba County Democratic Party

The Hound: As one can see, these documents are hardly politically partisan documents. The Democrats are only representing their constituents on an issue of interest to their constituents. This would be no different than the American Medical Association or the American Dental Association bringing forward a resolution in the interest of Dentists or Doctors or another constituency to the City Council. Ms. Glynn did not say anything about Republicans so I don't see how this could be labeled as bringing "partisan politics" into the City Council chambers in anything other than a superfluous manner by the Mayor. 

When the folks with the Catawba Valley Wildlife Club brought their issue forward to City Council on December 6, 2012 related to the City looking to ban guns in City Parks, the Mayor did not fuss about "Partisan Politics" being brought before the City Council; but if one is going to look towards issues of advocacy as being partisan, then this is also a divisive issue is it not? 

I believe that Cliff Moone was blocked from being appointed to Hickory's  Community Relations Council because of his connection to the Democrat Party and the Presentation of Ms. Glynn above. Mr. Moone addressed this issue at the City Council meeting on October 18, 2011.

All I'm doing here is helping you put the pieces of the puzzle together. The Mayor and other Powers That Be in Hickory hope that you will compartmentalize issues and not put two and two together. The Mayor does not address Harry's concerns. There is a pattern here and I will show that in my next article related to this subject. The Mayor seems to desire being the center of all things Hickory, but when he is confronted on the issues at hand, he doesn't wish to address those issues and most times he is the one who has introduced the subject, then ducks and dodges any retorts.

The Mayor says that Harry misquoted him. I am not speaking for Harry, but I personally believe that this is nitpicky to say that Harry misquoted him. Harry even states "more people are looking at Council’s actions." How could this even be questioned that Harry is referring to the City Council? I think Harry fairly paraphrases the Mayor in this submission. The Mayor doesn't even explain himself or his position in this submission.

It is ridiculous if the Mayor is saying that you can separate Hickory as a City/Community from the Legislative Body that is supposed to represent Hickory and what is the point anyway? The Mayor got nowhere near the HDR's 400 word limit for submissions to the "Letters to the Editor," which limited Harry's presentation in the HDR forum, and the Mayor does nothing to address the issues at hand. Why does this mayor think that the public should accept what he decrees/says without question? What are those "other inaccuracies, errone­ous conclusions and misquotes." Why does he refuse to discuss issues with the public? Who is being evasive here? What is Mayor Wright afraid of?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Between a Rock and Duke Energy

I would like to tell you about my dealings with my electric bill over the last several months. It might serve to teach you a valuable lesson about dealing with the electric company. When I got my bill at the end of January, I found it to be extraordinarily high for the amount of usage that I felt was taking place.

That bill was a little bit over $150. As I have told you over the past year, my life has changed substantially. My grandmother lived in this house with me since I bought it in in late 2005. She passed away on August 6 of last year. She moved out at the beginning of June into a Nursing Home where she passed away two months later. I agreed a few years ago to let my grandmother keep the house any temperature that she wanted and agreed to let her use the electricity in any manner that she wanted, because she told me that she was willing to pay the electric bill. She was here all the time, and I work and am gone just like any average person would be from their home.

When we moved into the house. I was talked into having the level payment plan by Duke Energy. In September 2005, when we received our first bill, that level payment with $75 a month. By last year that payment had grown to over $150 per month. I constantly told my grandmother that her usage of electricity was going come back to bite me in my (you know where) and in the end I was right. My grandmother liked to keep the temperature at 75° in the Winter time and that 70° in the Summer. Well, you know what that can do to a power bill. She only paid attention to that level payment cost and didn't look at what the real kilowatt usage was every month and what the payment would be if we were paying a regular bill. There were months in the Winter when our power bill, would've been $200 a month under a regular bill.

When my grandmother moved out, I switched back to the regular payment system, and it reduced my cost drastically. My power bill has gone from being $150 per month to where it is substantially less than $100 per month. In October, the bill was a little bit more than $60, because no heating or air conditioning was used.

I've had to be frugal about how I budget my money over the last several years. I'm not making a killing. Over the winter, I kept one room at 70° and the rest of the house basically went unheated except for my main bathroom. I didn't use my heat pump at all. At the end of January, I noticed that my power bill was a little bit over $150, and I thought this was a little exorbitant for the lifestyle in which I've been leading. Frankly, I was wondering how the power bill could be this high. At the end of February, I received the next power bill, which showed that my bill had dropped to just over $51. Then, at the end of March, I received a bill that showed a little over $11.

When I received the bill at the end of February, I thought that they had misread the meter in January and the bill was balancing out. When I received the bill at the end of March I knew that something was wrong, but I really didn't do anything about it and figured it would all get taken care of. Well it did, but not in a positive way.

At the end of April, a couple of guys who I assumed worked for the power company came by and asked if I had noticed that my meter had stopped. I told him that I had noticed that the power bill had wildly fluctuated over the last few months and I figured something was wrong, but I hadn't looked at my power meter. How many people do look at their power meter on regular basis? That day they changed the power meter.

A week later I checked out my bill on the Internet and it showed over a $400 charge. I immediately called Duke Energy and asked what was up with this. They told me under North Carolina regulations that they can go back to the past year, and extrapolate and estimate your bill for the six-month period prior to the current month of the previous year. This blew my mind. I had never heard of this. Have you ever heard of this?

I explained to the billing representative at Duke Energy my situation and it basically fell on deaf ears, because the regulations in the State of North Carolina allow them to do this and there's basically nothing that you can do about it. I'm not one that cusses out operators or Managers over a telephone, but I did give them an earful. This just does not make any sense. If you remember last year, it was a cold winter. Not only that, but my grandmother was living here and our priority was her comfort. She was 96 years old, and you aren't going to tell some 96-year-old lady that she had to be uncomfortable for the sake of something that I didn't know existed or would come to bear in the future. I told the people with Duke Energy that they were comparing apples to oranges, and they agreed to reduce my bill by 15%, but in the end this is going to take $200 out of my pocket for energy that I never consumed.

I am basically having to pay $200 extra, because their equipment broke. I told the account manager the other day that I was being penalized because their equipment broke. She told me that I wasn't being penalized... that I wouldn't have to make any late payments and if I need to that I can go on a payment plan and yada yada yada; but she completely misses the point. If I have to pay for energy that I didn't consume, then I'm being penalized. There are no two ways about it. And my goal is to stay out of debt as much as possible, not make payments on extorted robbery. And then she pointed out about the regulations and said that Duke Energy had nothing to do with those regulations. They are regulations set up by the Utilities Commission. Duke's lobbyists, I guarantee, are the people who got that regulation passed and implemented; so the people with Duke Energy are fully accountable for this. The Utilities Commission, just like all of the other commissions, represent business interests and not the people.

And I never really thought that I was getting away with anything. I knew that in some way that I was going to have to pay for the energy that had been consumed, when I received that bill in March, but this was totally over the top. I have no choice but to pay the bill, if I want to maintain my credit rating and use electricity in my house. What a wonderful world we live in with all of these monopolies where they have you over a barrel.

I just wanted to convey this issue, so that the people who read this information will know that this can happen to them. Duke Energy's equipment breaks, and you're going to pay for it one way or another, whether you owe it or not. If you notice your meter has broken, then you better get your monies' worth.

I don't know what kind of a good lesson was learned here. I guess to try and figure out a way to get off the electric grid as soon as possible. When something like this happens, you feel like you've been robbed. If I was making a bunch of money, and not having to live as frugally as I have been, I know that this wouldn't bother me as much as it does. But when you're doing everything that you can to survive and you keep getting kicked while you're down, it sure is frustrating.

Peace be with you all and I hope that nothing like this ever happens to any of you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chris Washburn's Comeback story from WGHP News - Channel 8 - High Point

The following is a story that was presented about Chris Washburn on High Point Channel 8 WGHP News. Since most of us in Hickory don't get Channel 8 on our televisions, I thought I would make this available here. I think that everyone in our community is glad to see that Chris is doing good things with his life. It is also good to see what he has done with that former Tasty Fried Chicken. We should all help support his store.

Chris is showing people that as low as a person can get, they can always redeem themselves. It is always hard to give up the thoughts of what could have been with Chris, but in the end it is Chris's life, not our own, and it is about what Chris had to go through. Basketball is just a sport. Chris has made a comeback in the biggest sport of all - LIFE!!! This is an inspirational story.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ward Specific Voting - You can Be the Difference!!!

The numbers are getting close on having enough signatures to bring about a special election, which would allow the community to have a say in how the City Council is elected. That process was not allowed to occur when the current system was manipulated into existence by the City Council in 1967 and implemented in 1970. This change would directly impact how Council Members represent their ward. We think it would positively impact the big picture and city wide governance.

What is clear from the issues that we have seen over the last several years is that the current system does not encourage accountability. What it does is encourage Bloc Voting constituencies that allow certain wards to dictate policy in other wards and we believe that it causes ambivalence towards development in certain wards thereby harming the viability of the City as a whole. And as Hickory goes so goes the Metro regional area.

So if you want to do something that will create a major impact on the area, then print out and fill out the petition linked below. Once you have done this contact me at and tell me where I can pick up this signed petition or dial 828-612-8448 so that we can move forward. We are getting close to having enough signatures and your signature could be the one that puts us over the top.

You can be the person that makes a difference in our future by doing this today. You can help bring government back to the people. Peace be with you and may this cause be blessed.
  • In a true ward system, voters in each ward choose their own representative; it’s more democratic because local voters have a bigger say in who represents their wards.
  • A true ward system allows more citizens to consider running for office because it is less expensive to run an election in one ward than to run city-wide; we’ll get some new perspectives and fresh ideas on city council.
  • A true ward system makes representatives more accountable because they live and work in the same community where their constituents live so they have daily contact with their voters.
  • True ward system elections are less expensive for taxpayers because only half the polls have to be open each election year.
The City Council could make this change simply with their vote, but they are happy with the status quo. We think the voters should decide how they want their elections run, and that's where we need your help.

Will you print out and sign the attached petition and mail back to us? It will take you less than 5 minutes and will make a HUGE improvement in future elections.

Click here to download the petition.

Other registered voters in your house and neighborhood can also sign the petition. If you prefer, I can mail you a petition and a stamped envelope to return it in - just reply to my email ( with your request.

I know you believe in fair and representative government; if you have questions about how the true ward system will make that happen, please call me any time at 828-612-8448.

1961 -- A lesson in Hickory's History

1967 - How we got where we are today

The History of At-Large voting in Hickory - The HDR articles and Council Minutes Documents

Hal Row's First Talk - CEG discussion about Ward Specific Voting - The Interview

Help Bring Fair Representation Back to the City of Hickory

Mayor Wright - Hal Row - Ward Specific Elections

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- May 20, 2012

$12,984--Increase in Debt Per Household Since First 2011 Bipartisan Spending Deal - CNS - Terence P. Jeffrey - May 18, 2012 - The White House and the congressional leaders of both parties in Congress have begun maneuvering this week over the issue of the federal debt and what to do when the government hits the latest statutory limit on that debt--$16.394 trillion—which Congress and the president agreed to when they cut a deal on the debt limit last August. The federal debt is currently $15.709 trillion, or about $685 billion below the limit.                   The first spending deal the White House and leaders of both parties in Congress made last year was on March 2. On that day, the president signed a continuing resolution to keep the government funded past March 4, when the previous continuing resolution, passed by a lame-duck Congress in late 2010, expired.

John Williams: The Real Unemployment Rate: 22% – Not 8.1% - The coming fiscal cliff: hyperinflation on track for 2014 - Lew - James J. Puplava - May 16, 2012 -    JIM: Joining me on the program today is John Williams of Shadow Government  Statistics.                     And John, before we get into a real big issue that’s going to hit the economy January 2013, I want to talk about the front page of your website. And you have two graphs that are available publicly and one is the unemployment rate where you have U3, U6 and then SGS, which is your own. Let’s talk about those numbers, what they mean for our listeners and the differences between them. [1:11]

JOHN: Sure. I’ve been a consulting economist for 30 years. What I’ve found over the decades is that the government’s reporting has moved further and further away from common experience, and really, the average guy has got a pretty good sense of what’s going on. If you feel the economy is not as strong as the government is saying or that inflation might be higher than what they’re reporting, you’re most likely right because you’re dealing with the real world.                  The numbers use to deal much closer to real world experience.                    And with the unemployment number, if you, let’s say, went around the entire country and asked everyone whether he or she was unemployed, you’d get an immediate answer. Most people have a pretty strong opinion as to what’s up, they have a job; they know what’s going on. But if you put all those numbers together, you’d come up with a much higher unemployment rate than the government reports, or at least the headline government number to date. So that’s all due to definition.                  In order to be counted in the headline unemployment rate – and keep in mind, the government actually publishes six levels of unemployment. The third level they call U3 is the headline number – you have to obviously be out of work and willing and able to take a job, but you have to have actively looked for work in the last four weeks. There are people who’ve stopped looking for work after a period of time when there are just no jobs to be had, yet they’d take a job if it were available, and they otherwise consider themselves unemployed. They want a job; they are willing and able to work. And again, they’d take it as soon as it was offered. If you haven't been looking in the last four weeks, the government will count you as a discouraged worker so long as you've looked for work in the last year.                     If you haven't actively looked for work in the last year, they don’t count you at all.                       Before 1994, anybody who was a discouraged worker, irrespective of the period of time, was counted as a discouraged worker. So that where you have the U3 unemployment rate at, I believe it’s 8.2% in March, the government’s broadest number U6 (which includes what I call the short term discouraged workers, those who have given up looking for work, but not for more than a year) and also includes people who work part-time for economic reasons (they can’t get a full-time job, they want a full-time job but you know, no full-time job is available) that’s running up somewhat over 14%.                          And what I do is I add to that my estimate of the longer term discouraged workers – those who have been discouraged more than a year. That puts you up over 22%.                    What happens here is the people who are unemployed roll out of the U3 level; they become discouraged because there are no jobs to be had, and so they go into the U6 level.                 And after a year, they roll out of the U6 level in terms of going into another world that the government does not count. I still estimate them, so my number is broader than the government’s number. So when you see the unemployment rate dropping, yet the broader measures are rising or staying at near historic levels, you do not have an economic recovery and that’s what we’re showing. [4:26]

There Are 100 Million Working Age Americans That Do Not Have Jobs - The Economic Collapse Blog - The unemployment crisis in America is much worse than you are being told. Did you know that there are 100 million working age Americans that do not get up in the morning and go to work? No wonder why it seems like there are so many people that do not have jobs! According to the federal government, there are 12.6 million working age Americans that are considered to be "officially" unemployed, but there are another 87.8 million working age Americans that are not working either. The federal government considers those Americans to be "not in the labor force" so they are not included in the unemployment rate. In fact, this is one of the key ways that the government manipulates the unemployment numbers. The Obama administration would have us believe that the unemployment rate is going down and that that since the start of the last recession about as many Americans have left the labor force as we saw during the entire decades of the 1980s and 1990s combined. Of course that is a bunch of nonsense, but that is what the Obama administration would have us believe. The truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed is just about the same right now as it was two years ago. It was incredibly difficult to get a job back then and it is incredibly difficult to get a job right now. So don't believe the hype that things are getting much better. If you still do have a good job, you might want to hold on to it tightly, because there is not much hope that things are going to improve significantly any time soon.                       The first chart that I have posted below shows the total number of "officially" unemployed workers in America. According to the Federal Reserve, that number is currently 12,673,000. This chart makes it look like the employment picture in America is getting significantly better....

But if you dig deeper into the numbers you quickly see that this is not true. A lot of those workers that were formerly classified as "unemployed" have now been moved into the "not in labor force" category. Since the start of the last recession, the number of Americans not in the labor force has risen by more than 8 million according to the Obama administration. The total number of working age Americans not in the labor force now stands at 87,897,000....

So when you add 12,673,000 and 87,897,000, you get a total of 100,570,000 working age Americans that do not have jobs.                  Yes, there are certainly millions upon millions of working age Americans that do not have jobs and that do not want jobs.                      But you have to be delusional to believe that there are nearly 88 million working age Americans that do not have jobs and that do not want jobs.

The wrecking ball of hidden inflation and Fed based strategies – food inflation far outpacing overall inflation and eating away at the purchasing power of 46,000,000 Americans on food stamps. - My Budget - The Federal Reserve has openly called for a steady growth of inflation. This almost dogmatic view on inflation is problematic because it is detached to the lack of wage growth being experienced by working and middle class families. What you do not hear articulated from the Fed is that they would like to encourage wage inflation as well. The inflation growth is really a shadow bailout of the banking sector in our economy that still requires billions and billions of dollars for horrible bets and poorly placed gambles. If the beat of inflation marches on, these debts can be washed away simply because purchasing power is lost moving forward. Yet this is bad policy for the vast majority of Americans. Inflation has crept into the daily lives of Americans because of this policy. Food prices have increased steadily while energy remains expensive. The cost to go to college still continues to increase in spite of a bubble in student debt. Inflation is a double-edged sword and the Fed is aggressively pursuing this option largely to aid their banking allies.

Inflation is already here for working and middle class Americans

Inflation is already hitting the wallets of most Americans. - After the liquidity crisis and trillions of dollars infused into the system, inflation is now on an upward march:

Since 2010 the inflation rate in food has far outpaced the rate of inflation overall. With so many Americans struggling to get by this is being felt in many ways on a daily basis. Anyone shopping at the store realizes how much more expensive food items have become. You also see disinflation where you pay the same price but get less because of creative packaging:

“(Country Consultant) Tropicana orange juice: 64 oz. container is now 59 oz. – a 7.8 percent reduction.

Ivory dish detergent: 30 oz. bottle is now 24 oz. – 20 percent reduction

Kraft American cheese: 24 slice package now holds 22 slices – 8.3 percent reduction

Scott toilet tissue: 115.2 sq. ft. now 104.8 sq. ft. – 9 percent reduction

Chicken of the Sea salmon: 3 oz. can now 2.6 oz. – 13.3 percent reduction”

JPMorgan’s Trading Loss Is Said to Rise at Least 50% - - NELSON D. SCHWARTZ and JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG - May 16, 2012 - The trading losses suffered by JPMorgan Chase have surged in recent days, surpassing the bank’s initial $2 billion estimate by at least $1 billion, according to people with knowledge of the losses.                When Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, announced the losses last Thursday, he indicated they could double within the next few quarters. But that process has been compressed into four trading days as hedge funds and other investors take advantage of JPMorgan’s distress, fueling faster deterioration in the underlying credit market positions held by the bank.                     A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment, although Mr. Dimon has said the total paper trading losses will be volatile depending on day-to-day market fluctuations.

JPMorgan unit has $100bn of risky bonds - Financial Times of London - Sam Jones in London and Tracy Alloway and Tom Braithwaite in New York - May 18, 2012 - The unit at the centre of JPMorgan Chase’s $2bn trading loss has built up positions totalling more than $100bn in asset-backed securities and structured products – the complex, risky bonds at the centre of the financial crisis in 2008.                 These holdings are in addition to those in credit derivatives which led to the losses and have mired the bank in regulatory investigations and criticism.            The unit, the chief investment office (CIO), has been the biggest buyer of European mortgage-backed bonds and other complex debt securities such as collateralised loan obligations in all markets for three years, more than a dozen senior traders and credit experts have told the Financial Times.            The bank has said its derivative activities were intended primarily to help balance risks on its overall balance sheet, but the revelation that it has built up other large, risky positions is likely to raise further questions about the CIO’s remit.

The Obama Economy Is Wrecking NASCAR - According to a new study - The Weekly Standard - Michael Warren - May 15, 2012 - The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has been considered America’s fastest growing sport, quickly becoming a national phenomenon. But a new economic study shows even NASCAR’s powerful engines haven’t been able to keep up with the Obama-era economy.               The study, from the pro-market think tank Public Notice and Race Fans 4 Freedom, finds that the economic downturn of the last several years has directly affected how NASCAR fans watch and enjoy their sport. Since 2009, race attendance per year has fallen below 4 million people, and the number has been declining severely as the unemployment rate has skyrocketed. The cost of attending—with higher gas prices, less disposable income, and diminished financial security—has increased.                       According to the study, the value of the sport, too, is threatened by the poor economy, with the stock prices of racing team companies plummeting in the last five years and sponsors pulling back on funding cars.

Paul Krugman admits to the Depression - He is a Democrat Party extremist, but the message is clear that we aren't in a recovery. We are in a Depression. He sloshes through the interview with Democrat Dogma and ideology, but his viewpoint is worthwhile.  Krugman is quick to cut Obama slack and call Republicans liars and. Folks, we have to meet somewhere in the middle. Say no to Austerity. Say no to Cronyism. Say yes to targeted spending on infrastructure and human capital and rein in "Free for All" trade and the Gambleholic Banksters.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Millenium Dome - A lesson to be learned

(The Hound) : The following is what happens when projects are implemented in a closed process with decision making kept within bureaucratic structures. The process goes from an idea that hasn't been properly vetted to a project that has to be rethought and redeveloped on the fly to a process that revolves around political face saving, instead of the project itself. And it ends up costing a lot more than the initial estimates. A whole lot more in reassessed and unintended consequences and costs. This does not mean that the public doesn't want progress or to nitpick every project. It means that the public wants to be included in open and transparent processes. When Government includes the people in a forthright process you will still have a few detractors, but you will also have invested in legitimacy from the masses.

 (From Wikipedia) - The Millennium Dome, colloquially referred to simply as The Dome, is the original name of a large dome-shaped building, originally used to house the Millennium Experience, a major exhibition celebrating the beginning of the third millennium. Located on the Greenwich Peninsula in South East London, England, the exhibition was open to the public from 1 January to 31 December 2000. The project and exhibition was the subject of considerable political controversy as it failed to attract the number of visitors anticipated, with recurring financial problems. All of the original exhibition and associated complex has since been demolished. The dome still exists, and it is now a key exterior feature of The O2. The Prime Meridian passes the western edge of the Dome and the nearest London Underground station is North Greenwich on the Jubilee Line.

Dome disaster has swallowed millions - The Telegraph - September 6, 2000

Millennium Dome -

What Should Have Gone Into the Millennium Dome? British History - Wall Street Journal - Iain Martin - August 27, 2010

5 Ways Process Is Killing Your Productivity - - Lisa Bodell May 15, 2012

Here are five ways process can kill production: 
  1. Empowering with permission--but without action:It’s not empowering when people are given more responsibility, yet must still obtain an unreasonable number of approvals and sign-offs to get anything done. This signals a lack of trust.
  2. Leaders focused on process instead of people: In an effort to standardize and sanitize everything we do, nothing at work is personal anymore. Leaders look to processes, not people, to solve problems--and it doesn’t work. Where’s the inspiration, the vision? This signals a lack of humanity.
  3. Overdependence on meetings: “Collaborative” and “inclusive” are corporate buzzwords, but productive teamwork does not require meetings for every single action or decision. People become overwhelmed and ineffective when they are always stuck in meetings. This signals that politics have taken precedence over productivity.
  4. Lack of (clear) vision: Great companies need a grand vision and important goals. Too often, companies have vision or mission statements laden with jargon but devoid of meaning. This signals a lack of purpose.
  5. Management acts as judge, not jury: If the purpose of a meeting is to think, create, or build, management has to stop tearing people down when they propose new ideas or question the status quo. This signals a lack of perspective and openness.

When people’s jobs depend on meeting metrics and maintaining the status quo, can you fault them for their reluctance to expend any energy toward creation and invention?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 15, 2012

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

You will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 5/15/2012 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties

Invocation by Rev. Paul Birkedal, Chaplain, Lutheran Homes

Special Presentations:
A. Proclamation Regarding Charlotte Motor Speedway’s May Race to Education and Declaring May 19-27, 2012 as Kurt Busch Week in the City of Hickory

B. Presentation of Proclamation to Scott Caskaddon in recognition of his bravery and quick thinking at a car fire on May 3, 2012

C. Presentation of Proclamation to Chief of Police Tom Adkins Declaring the Week of May 13-19, 2012 as National Police Week in the City of Hickory

* Chief Adkins accepted the award and mentioned Gerald Wayne Maynard who passed away in 1977. 163 officers dies last year in the line of duty. One every 53 hours. He stated that each day these officers go out they are the line between those who abide by the law and those who commit crimes and disorder in our community.

D. Proclamation Declaring May 14-20, 2012 as “National Tourism Week” in the City of Hickory

* Bebe stated that citizens in our area save on average $117 in taxes each year, because of this industry.

E. Hickory Downtown Development Association’s “Community Vision for Downtown Hickory 2017” (Presentation by Rodney Swink, former Director of the North Carolina Main Street Program) - Four point approach of organization, promotion, design, and economic restructuring. Participating communities saw an increase of $800 million as a result. Communities without direction are like businesses without a plan. They are doomed to waste time, money, and effort. This is a shared effort between downtown and neighborhoods, business and civic interests.

F. Council Policy Regarding Consent Agenda Procedure -
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 15, 2012 -- Addendum on Consent Agenda Policies & Public Participation

Consent Agenda: All items below are considered to be routine by the City Council and will be enacted by one motion. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless a Council Member so requests. In which event, the item will be removed from the Consent Agenda and considered under Item VIII.

** At this point in the meeting, Larry Pope, a citizen of Hickory, approached the podium and began speaking regarding his request that Council Members discuss every item on the consent agenda before voting individually on each item. Mr. Pope stated that he asked for reasonable accommodations as outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mayor Wright declared Mr. Pope out of order several times, and Mr. Pope continued speaking. Council voted unanimously to recess the meeting, and after approximately 10 minutes, the meeting was reconvened. Mr. Pope continued, and Mayor Wright again declared Mr. Pope out of order, and informed Mr. Pope that the meeting was not the place to discuss the issue, and that Mr. Pope had legal recourse through the courts. City Attorney Crone then stated that disrupting a public meeting is a misdemeanor, and that Mr. Pope had been given ample time to speak and ruled out of order several times. Mr. Pope stated that he wanted a tape of the meeting, and he returned to his seat.

A. Call for Public Hearing on the City Manager’s FY2012-2013 Recommended Budget (Authorize Public Hearing for June 5, 2012) The 2012-2013 Recommended Budget has been distributed to City Council as required by law and is available for review in the Office of the City Clerk, Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Library. *Alderman Lail moved, it was seconded and unanimously resolved, that Item A. be removed for discussion. City Manager Berry explained that this was simply a call for a public hearing on the budget. A public hearing will be held at the June 5th Council Meeting, at which time citizens may make public comment.

B. Future Annexation Agreement – Jimmy and Joyce Scott – 3131 7th Avenue SE – Forest Heights Subdivision (Catawba County PIN 3722-15-63-0572) - Jimmy and Joyce Scott have requested connection to the City’s water and sewer system without being annexed. They have agreed to be annexed at some time in the future when the City finds it economically feasible to do so. The property is located at 3131 7th Avenue SE, which is just off of Tate Boulevard behind Catawba Valley Medical Center in the Forest Heights Subdivision. None of the other properties in the subdivision have been annexed into the city limits. While the property is adjacent to the city limits, access to the property is through two streets not located within the city limits. Annexing one property of the subdivision is not economically feasible at this time. Staff recommends approval of the future annexation agreement.

C. Future Annexation Agreement - Joseph and Grace Vaught – 2906 Springs Road NE – Part of the E. H. Killian Property Division (Catawba County PIN 3723-06-48-8144) - Joseph and Grace Vaught have requested connection to the City’s water and sewer system without being annexed. They have agreed to be annexed at some time in the future when the City finds it economically feasible to do so. The subject property is somewhat isolated from other portions of the corporate boundary of Hickory. Small satellite annexations are located across Springs Road NE and further to the north and south of the property. Water and sewer services are available to serve the property, but do to its proximity to the principal corporate boundary, Staff does not recommend immediate annexation. Staff recommends approval of the future annexation agreement.

D. Proclamation Declaring May 20 – 26, 2012 as “National American Public Works Week” in the City of Hickory

E. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following request was considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their regular meeting on May 3, 2012:
 Marcia Taylor, 3333 Blue Sky Court SE, Newton, was awarded a City of Hickory Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $7,000 for repairs to her home. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 10 year period. Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2009 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of the above request.

F. Amendment to NC DOT/Division of Aviation Block Grant/VISION 100 Grant No. 36237.66.3.1 for Construction of New Aviation Fuel Farm at Hickory Regional Airport With this amendment, the City will accept $474,918 in grant funds and commit to a city match of $52,768 - The City of Hickory received an e-mail on March 19, 2012 from the NC DOT Airport Project Manager that states that the Division of Aviation approves Hickory Regional Airport to use the airport’s non-primary entitlement (VISION 100) funds to construct the new aviation fuel farm. This funding includes existing and future VISION 100 funds consistent with the grant modification requested today which will be made available to the City as they are received from the FAA fund allocations as long as all current programs continue. The next fund allocation from the FAA is anticipated to be in the August, 2012 timeframe. The new fuel farm will allow the airport to have additional fuel storage capacity enabling the City to extend lower and more competitive fuel prices to its customers. Staff recommends approval.

G. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 22
1. To budget $800 of Unity Fair donations in the Unity Fair expenditure line item. The Unity Fair is part of the International Spring Fest.
2. To budget $185 of Library donations from several donors in the Library Books line item.
3. To appropriate $18,066 of Miscellaneous Insurance Claim Payment from Trident Insurance Company and budget in the Fleet Maintenance-Maintenance and Repair of Vehicles line item.
4. To appropriate $52,768 of Transportation Fund Balance and transfer to the Hickory Regional Airport Fuel Farm Project. $52,768 represents the 10% City grant match required by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

H. Grant Project Ordinance Amendment No. 11
1. To accept and appropriate $474,918 in FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) grant revenue and to transfer $82,558 in existing FAA grant revenue to be utilized for the construction phase of the Hickory Regional Airport Fuel Farm Project. A City grant match of $52,768 is also required. Once this Grant Project Ordinance Amendment is approved, construction can begin.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 23
This budget ordinance amendment budgets $900,000 for Jet A and 100 Low Lead wholesale bulk fuel purchases which are then resold through the Hickory Regional Airport’s retail fueling operation. This budget amendment is required to keep the revenues and expenditures of the Airport's fuel inventory in compliance with statutory budget requirements. This budget amendment was not done earlier in the year due to uncertainty about the volume of fuel the Airport would be purchasing/selling on a monthly basis. We now have 5 months of financial history which allows us to make this budgetary projection.

Assistant City manager Warren Wood presented the information. The City took over rthe FBO on December 9, 2012. The City had to move fast to make sure there were no disruptions. Moved fast to set up funds to operate the airport. Start up enterprise...  Not a whole lot of data to go on. Knew personnel and some operational numbers, didn't have financial numbers. Have been building a financial history. Using this for budget projections for this year and next year. Did not budget the purchase of wholesale aviation fuel that will be resold as part of the aviation fueling operation. They had a projection that they could back into, but they weren't sure because they had never done it before and weren't sure that they could rely on the previous FBO's numbers.

Historic responsibilities of the city include runway, ground, building, tenants, control tower, and fire station no. 4. FBO responsibilities are service related and include fuel and hangar management. They will contract out maintenance. They are providing red carpet service for base and transient customers. Customer service is a big emphasis.

Currently have two fuel farms. North Ramp has 100 low lead (12,000 gallons) and Jet A fuel (12,000 gallons).  South Ramp has just Jet A fuel (12,000 gallons). Action tonight creates a new fuel system that will even accept credit card purchases. It will be 100,000 gallons of 100 Low Lead and 12,000 gallons of Jet A fuel.  This will help with after hour purchases that were not available before. This gives a third option.

They are selling between 30,000 and 40,000 gallons of fuel per month. This mis self funding because you are buying wholesales and selling retail. They have to agree with this or they can't sell the fuel. Alderman Guess and Alder Patton both stated that they have heard nothing but good things from people that utilize the airport. The mayor concurred.

The Hound has heard nothing but good things about the city's operation of the airport and is glad that the city finally took over the FBO and believes that this will help with its future viability.

2. Resolution of Support – NC Main Street Solutions Grant Application for Redevelopment of Hollar Hosiery Property Located at 883 Highland Ave SE, Hickory - The Main Street Solutions Fund Program is administered by the NC Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance, and its purpose is to provide maximum support to small businesses in designated North Carolina Main Street Communities. The program is intended to strengthen the economy of the municipality and its role as a regional growth and employment hub. This is accomplished by leveraging the state’s resources for small business development spurring private investment, and by providing economic development planning assistance and coordinated grant support. The City of Hickory must be the recipient of the grant funds and must administer the grant. A total of $200,000 is available, and it is a 2 to 1 match – 2 local/private dollars for every dollar of grant funding. In order to apply for the entire amount, the Hollar Project will need to show a minimum of $400,000 in local and private funds. In addition, the project will need to maintain 8 full time jobs. The vacant building grant match funds ($30,000) can be used towards the local match as the City’s contribution, as well as all of the private funds put into the project by the project partners and the tax credit investors. City Staff must attend a mandatory workshop in Raleigh in order to apply for the grant. The grant application is due before the end of May. Staff requests approval of the resolution in support of submitting Hollar Hosiery for the Main Street Solutions Grant.

Andrea Surratt presentation. Will create a key destination point on LR Boulevard in traveling to the LR Campus. Owner Equity around $500,000, bank loan is $2.9 million, and investor proceeds will be around $2.1 Million. Total project is $6.4 million.

Skull Coast to Dock in Hickory - NC Brewing.orp - April 20, 2012 
New Brewery on Tap - Observer News Enterprise - Michael Willard - April 27, 2012 - (Good Article explains the vision) 
Old Hosiery Building behind the Granary - Houndvision on Youtube - September 13, 2009

Recognition of Persons Requesting To Be Heard
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 15, 2012 -- Addendum on Consent Agenda Policies & Public Participation

A. Jody Inglefield spoke regarding the Mayor’s comments on a morning radio show and stated that he is disappointed that the opportunity for a citizen to remove an item from the consent agenda is not more democratic and open. He also asked that Council Members speak into the speakers because it is hard for citizens to hear. He further he didn’t think it would be difficult to put the proposed budget on the internet so that citizens can view it.

B. Rebecca Inglefield also spoke on the Mayor’s comments on the morning radio show and hoped that the process regarding the consent agenda can be clarified. She discussed the need for a public pool, and continued by discussing other very real needs in the city.

C. Walter Witherspoon spoke about the cost of the downtown structure and the need for a swimming pool. He discussed a document whereby the City Manager stated that the City will save $825,000 by not operating the pools, with the downtown structure costing a million and a half dollars.

D. Jimmy Davis commented about two general ways of looking at city government – how it is set up and how it functions. He stated that the citizens elected Council Members to serve their interests and to take care of business. The citizens gave Council Members their votes and trust them; therefore, they want to look at the official action.

General Comments
A. Alderman Seaver invited everyone to attend the Kiwanis Pancake Feast this weekend at St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Viewmont and support the children of Catawba County.

B. Alderman Guess invited everyone to attend the event at the Zahra Baker Playground on Saturday at 11:00 am. Mayor Wright added that he looks forward to the benefits that the playground will provide for young people in the future.