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Saturday, June 30, 2012



Mission #1 - Check

Thursday, June 28, 2012

July will not be boring

I know that most people go on vacation in July. Well, they all can go on vay-kay, but we aren't going anywhere. There are going to be some awesome developments taking place over the next few weeks that are going to make you start paying closer attention. So stay tuned...

Now the world is getting older
There´s a few things to be said
Do you believe the things they told you
Do you believe the things you´ve read

There´s a rumour on the corner
But it´s always been denied
Cause they don´t want you any wiser
You´re just toeing the party line

From the west side to the east side
From the north side to the south
You´ll never get bad information
If you believe in the word of mouth

Look out for those who still want to hang on
Look out for those who live in the past
Get out and listen to the whisper
Because the times are changing fast

From the west side to the east side
From the north side to the south
You´ll never get bad information
If you believe in the word of mouth

You don´t believe the information
You don´t believe it when it´s denied
So when you´re reading explanations
You have to read between the lines

From the west side to the east side
Through the windows I´m looking out
You´ll never get bad information
If you believe in the word of mouth

From the west side to the east side
From the north side to the south
You´ll never get bad information
If you believe in the word of mouth
"Word of Mouth" by Mike and the Mechanics -  © 1991 Hidden Pun Music, Inc (BMI)/63 Songs Ltd.
 [  From: ]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Congratulations Ulysses Long on your way to New York City - America's Got Talent - June 26, 2012

Ulysses My Man, we are so proud of you. Ulysses is on his way to New York City to perform further on America's Got Talent. I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes when they announced that you had made it. You made it a little closer than it needed to be.

Thank you for inspiring us and showing America that you have got it. Wish they had given you some more time and can't wait to see a segment devoted to you again.

You have been given an opportunity and now it is time to go make the most of it. Put a suit and tie on, because I have seen you dressed to the nines and I think you need to throw a little more body language into your presentation. I know you can do this, like so many others, because we are witnesses. We can testify!!!

We love you Ulysses and we've got your back. Go make it happen. Give us some of that bravado, confidence, and swagger. We have never seen you nervous. Now is surely not the time to go getting nervous.

Go Ulysses!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Middle Out Economics

Over the last several days Barack Obama has pushed a notion that we need to have bottom up economics. Without mincing words, I think he is a little off. He does talk about the middle class, but the middle class isn't the bottom. It is the middle. The problem is that it is shrinking.

Trickle Down or Bottom Up, these are both notions of Democrats. Neither is a sustainable economic theory. They are just simple slogans. What we have to do is reinvigorate the Middle Class. There is really only one way to do that. We need to regain the sovereignty of our nation by putting corporations back in their box.

Currently, we don't have a Capitalist system. There is a notion pushed by Democrats that we do. The Bail Outs have sheared the vestiges of capitalism back to nothing. Capitalism is an idea and ideas don't die, but the system that is currently in place is a Corporate centered Neo-Feudalistic model.

The Neo-Feudalistic model basically centers itself around having no middle class. There will be an elite class who control the Mega-Corporations and include those who revolve in and out of the government and then there will be the peasant class.

In Romney's latest commercial, the ad says that he wants to cut taxes to create jobs. Well, we've had taxes cut and stimulus ad nauseum. The plan has been very successful and created millions of jobs. The problem is that those jobs have been created in China and other third world countries. Last week I spoke with associates about our need to push back Free For All trade. They said that we need to work on issues that we can influence. The problem that I have is that any issues we work on are irrelevant until we address the 800 pound guerrilla in the room.

So you want to grow the economy, then you are going to have to get the real middle class back on track. How do we do this? By investing money in our nation's physical infrastructure. Where does this money come from? By getting Wall Street back under control with a tax on high frequency algorithm computer trading  and bringing labor price parity into the Free Trade equation.

Will there be unintended consequences? Yes, we can't avoid consequences whether we act upon this or not. Will increased domestic labor costs cause prices to rise? Yes, but people will have jobs and without this prices will rise anyway, but there will be a continued deterioration of our job market. Without people having money, then there is no marketplace and that is where we are steaming towards. We have fundamental flaws in the marketplace/economy.

So the political contenders can continue bobbing and weaving on the real issues and ducking and dodging the real questions, but at the core of this lack of growth in our economy is the issue of job growth (both capacity and wages). Without good paying jobs, we will not have a middle class. Competing against people making pennies to our dollars is not going to grow wages. Wages have not kept up with costs. People have less and spend less and the economy naturally shrinks.

What has the average American gotten out of this current system? The Wealthy class isn't assuming the risk they did in the past. If they fail, then one of their set up cronies will be along shortly to bail them out. If they succeed, then they get millions in stock options and other benefits that aren't afforded to the working class. And while this continues, our nation's future outlook continues to deteriorate.

20 years down the road, please tell me how this Free Trade World is working?

The Race to the Bottom

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- June 24, 2012

Obama's Approval in Freefall on Stagnant Economy - - Paul Scicchitano - June 22, 2012 - Just 33 percent of Americans now believe the president is doing a “good” or “excellent” job when it comes to the economy, according to a Rasmussen poll.             That’s down from 41 percent at the beginning of May, which could be yet another sign that the president’s re-election chances are tied more to the economy than to any other political issue.                 “This election is more than just a referendum on President Obama. It is a referendum on his handling of the economy,” declares Political analyst and Democratic pollster Doug Schoen in an exclusive interview with Newsmax on Friday.                 ... U.S. manufacturing grew at its slowest pace in 11 months in June and the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment aid fell only slightly last week.               “With more than 8 percent out of work and an equal number under employed or discouraged workers, the American people are hurting and the fall in president Obama’s approval rating, vote share, and ratings on the economy reflect just that,” Schoen explained.            Most Americans already believe that the United States is in a recession, observed Towery.                “People don’t have any money in their pocket and they can’t borrow any money. They don’t qualify for loans,” he said. “The banks will only loan to people who have money in the first place and so we are basically at a complete stalemate in terms of our economy. There’s nothing that anyone can think of that will spur it to go forward.”                ....“If the election were a personality contest there’s every reason to believe president Obama would have a very good chance of getting re-elected, but since it’s a referendum on the economy it makes for a much more difficult and uphill climb for President Obama than anyone would have expected just a few short months ago,” Schoen said.

Analysts: Moody’s Bank Downgrade Will Hurt Recovery, Consumers - - Jim Meyers - June 22, 2012 - The decision by Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday to downgrade the credit ratings of 15 global banks and securities firms will have a negative impact on borrowers as well as the banks themselves.                  The downgrades of financial institutions such as Citigroup, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Barclays, and Goldman Sachs reflect Moody's concern over the ability of the banks to repay their debts during times of crisis.                  The result: Credit could become costlier and/or harder to obtain.                   Since the cost of doing business for these giant financial institutions will go up as a result of having their rating lowered, the banks could pass along their higher costs — such as the higher interest rates they will have to pay to borrow money.               Or the institutions will have lower profits, which will inhibit their ability to lend.

Job Growth: Why US Remains Stuck in Neutral - CNBC via Yahoo - Mark Koba | CNBC – June 22, 2012 -... The lack of job growth in the U.S. should not be a surprise. Even before the Great Recession of 2007-2009, the number of jobs created tapered off significantly from the Internet boom in the 1990s, leaving the economy very little cushion when the downturn slammed the country with the loss of some 7.5 million jobs....                 The numbers show that as bad as the unemployment rate is for college graduates-around 19.1 percent-the jobless rate for high school graduates is near 54 percent......                  And the skills gap could get worse. Nearly 17 percent of high school graduates had no job or were not enrolled in college in 2011, up from 13.7 in 2007, according to the Economic Policy Institute.......                  The shortage of high tech workers has created a demand for the right skills and a jobless rate for the sector at half the national rate. With more seniors retiring than ever before, health care related positions are expected to grow at a rate of 35 percent in the next eight years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Professional and business services are also expected to see job growth as well as green energy sectors and even construction.               Many areas of the country are seeing fewer job losses if not some minimal job growth. Some 32 states, including Minnesota as well as Texas, New Hampshire and New Mexico are below the national average on jobless rates, according to the BLS. Ohio has seen its rate drop 10 months in a row to a current 7.3 percent.                       If the projections of job growth don't match the current reality, it shows the instability of the moment and beyond, say experts.                      Coupled with the sluggish economy are upcoming political battles: ending or extending the Bush era tax cuts, scheduled payroll tax increases, as well as another showdown over the government's ability to borrow money.

Bernanke 'prepared' to do more - CNN Money - Annalyn Censky - June 20, 2012 - Could more stimulus be on the way?             Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke certainly left the option on the table Wednesday, making perfectly clear that he stands ready to do more should the U.S. economy take a turn for the worse.                 Could more stimulus be on the way?                     Indeed, the job market remains one of Bernanke's top concerns. The unemployment rate is still uncomfortably high at 8.2%, and the government's latest jobs report showed employers added only 69,000 jobs in May-- the weakest hiring in a year.                    Amid those concerns, the Fed extended its existing policy known as Operation Twist, and lowered its expectations for the job market and the broader U.S. economy this year.The central bank predicts the unemployment rate will end the year between 8% and 8.2%. Just two months ago, it was more optimistic, predicting the jobless rate could fall as low as 7.8%.                       "Growth in employment has slowed in recent months, and the unemployment rate remains elevated," the Fed said in an official statement.                   The Fed also sees broader weakness ahead, predicting the economy will grow between 1.9% and 2.4% this year. When the Fed met back in April, it had forecasted that the economy would grow as much as 2.9%.                  That weaker outlook prompted the Fed to extend Operation Twist by $267 billion.                  The program swaps short-term bonds for ones with longer durations, thereby pushing interest rates lower on mortgages and business loans. The hope is that cheaper credit will reach consumers and business, who will then boost the economy by spending more.                  The effect on Main Street has been questionable though. Mortgage rates are at record lows, but even so, new home sales have been choppy and banks are still unwilling to lend to anyone with less-than-perfect credit. Small business owners are also struggling to get loans. To top of page

Lost in Recession, Toll on Underemployed and Underpaid - New York Times - Michael Cooper - June 18, 2012 - Throughout the Great Recession and the not-so-great recovery, the most commonly discussed measure of misery has been unemployment. But many middle-class and working-class people who are fortunate enough to have work are struggling as well,....                             These are anxious days for American workers. Many, like Ms. Woods, are underemployed. Others find pay that is simply not keeping up with their expenses: adjusted for inflation, the median hourly wage was lower in 2011 than it was a decade earlier, according to data from a forthcoming book by the Economic Policy Institute, “The State of Working America, 12th Edition.” Good benefits are harder to come by, and people are staying longer in jobs that they want to leave, afraid that they will not be able to find something better. Only 2.1 million people quit their jobs in March, down from the 2.9 million people who quit in December 2007, the first month of the recession.                “Unfortunately, the wage problems brought on by the recession pile on top of a three-decade stagnation of wages for low- and middle-wage workers,” said Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, a research group in Washington that studies the labor market. “In the aftermath of the financial crisis, there has been persistent high unemployment as households reduced debt and scaled back purchases. The consequence for wages has been substantially slower growth across the board, including white-collar and college-educated workers.”                   And household wealth is dropping. The Federal Reserve reported last week that the economic crisis left the median American family in 2010 with no more wealth than in the early 1990s, wiping away two decades of gains. With stocks too risky for many small investors and savings accounts paying little interest, building up a nest egg is a challenge even for those who can afford to sock away some of their money.                    People with college degrees still get jobs with better pay and benefits than those without, but many recent college graduates are finding it hard to land the kinds of jobs they had envisioned. David Thande, 27, who graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, five years ago, works part time as a clerk in an Apple Store.                         Things are much worse for people without college degrees, though. The real entry-level hourly wage for men who recently graduated from high school fell to $11.68 last year, from $15.64 in 1979, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute. And the percentage of those jobs that offer health insurance has plummeted to 22.8 percent, from 63.3 percent in 1979.                       Though inflation has stayed relatively low in recent years, it has remained high for some of the most important things: college, health care and even, recently, food. The price of food in the home rose by 4.8 percent last year, one of the biggest jumps in the last two decades. 

Turns Out China IS Lying About Everything - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - June 23, 2012 - Even that lonely indicator that some, even us, had considered somewhat realistic: electric output, is a mirage.               Electricity production and consumption have been considered a telltale sign of a wide variety of economic activity. They are widely viewed by foreign investors and even some Chinese officials as the gold standard for measuring what is really happening in the country’s economy, because the gathering and reporting of data in China is not considered as reliable as it is in many countries.             But an economist with ties to the agency said that officials had begun making inquiries after detecting signs that electricity numbers may have been overstated.               Another top corporate executive in China with access to electricity grid data from two provinces in east-central China that are centers of heavy industry, Shandong and Jiangsu, said that electricity consumption in both provinces had dropped more than 10 percent in May from a year earlier. Electricity consumption has also fallen in parts of western China. Yet, the economist with ties to the statistical agency said that cities and provinces across the country had reported flat or only slightly rising electricity consumption.

War On The American Middle Class - Fifteen Steps to Corporate Feudalism author Dennis Marker provides a step-by- step account of how and why the US middle class has been working harder than ever and is still losing ground . There are fifteen steps to corporate feudalism outlined in Dennis Marker's new book.If you are an American citizen, and you hear this report, and it doesn't make you either upset or angry, then you are in denial. The American Worker has been utterly forgotten and screwed up by everyone in power .We need to downsize the Federal Government and give more power to the States and each other. As a Nation we could stand without the Government ruling our every move.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Trends - June 23, 2012

Three Trends Leading ECONOMY DOWNWARD - DEMCAD from Flint, Michigan

Trends to look at in the Hickory Area:
In some of the conversation I had with my colleagues this week, we looked at a few issues being pushed forward in our community and the unintended consequences of the way certain information is being marketed and spun to what we see as a detriment.

Over the last year in driving down Highway 70 in the Hickory Furniture Mart area, there is a sign that markets real estate by showing the number of foreclosures that this real estate company has available. The number was over 100 the last time I looked.

Now, this blog has been railed against as being negative from the get-go when all we have done is provide what we feel is relevant information to educate the public. We will readily admit that we have an agenda. If you are breathing you have an agenda. Our agenda is to spur economic growth in the area for the masses.

When we look at this sign sitting at one of the highest traffic areas in Hickory, we are amazed that a company would look to market itself in this fashion. This sign sticks out like a sore thumb and I really don't understand what this company is trying to accomplish. Let's say I'm an out of towner looking to move to Hickory and I come off of I-40 Exit 125 and head towards Valley Hills Mall. Is that sign going to spur my interest in moving to the area? And if I have already chosen to move to the area and I go to this company to inquire about real estate, then I am going to lowball any quote they give me, because you have already shown me that you have 119 properties that you are desperate to unload. What does this do for the value of the property of those of us meeting our monthly mortgage in a timely fashion?

Another issue that I have spoken of in the past is marketing ourselves as a low labor cost/low cost of doing business area. I don't believe that this is a positive. It says a couple things. It says that we don't have highly skilled labor in the area and that people are ripe for the taking. Also, what does this say to younger people looking to possibly move to the area, when the people marketing the area talk about how low the labor cost is? Would you want to move to that area? How much income can a  youngster look to make here in an entry level position?

I have also addressed the obsession with the tax rate in the area and how it isn't a realistic indication of setting the area up for future growth. This is always pushed at the middle class as the local government looking out for their interests. Well, if you own/have a mortgage on a $100,000 evaluated home for each 1-cent/$100 evaluation the property tax is raised it costs you $10. The Real Estate moguls around here have a lot more to lose. If they control $10 million in property, then each 1-cent raise in property tax costs them an additional $1,000 in property tax. Who do you think the local government is looking out for and answering to?

I'm not arguing for higher taxes. I'm just pointing to the obvious. If money is needed for economic growth and infrastructure, don't let the the government tell you that property taxes need to be continued to be held in check for your benefit. They will be held in check for those who own and control substantial amounts of property. Another hint is to keep an eye on tax assessments on industrial and commercial properties versus residential properties.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 19, 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 6/19/2012 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. Reggie Longcrier, Exodus Missionary Outreach Church

Presentation of Interim City Clerk Debbie Miller and Administration of Oath of Office

Consent Agenda:

A. Request from Hickory Police Department to Award Police Badge and Service Weapon to Retiring Master Police Officer Powell Hildebrand - By authority of NC General Statute §20-187.2, City Council may award the service weapon and police badge to retiring Master Police Officer Powell Hildebrand upon his retirement from Hickory Police Department on July 1, 2012 after completing over 20 years of service with Hickory Police Department. Upon approval from City Council, the police badge and service weapon will be declared surplus and removed from the city’s fixed asset inventory.

B. Request from Hickory Police Department to Award Police Badge and Service Weapon to Retiring Lieutenant Bobby Grace - By authority of NC General Statute §20-187.2, City Council may award the service weapon and police badge to retiring Lieutenant Bobby Grace upon his retirement from Hickory Police Department on July 1, 2012 after completing 30 years of service with Hickory Police Department. Upon approval from City Council, the police badge and service weapon will be declared surplus and removed from the city’s fixed asset inventory.

C. Request from Hickory Police Department to Award Police Badge and Service Weapon to Retiring MPO Paul Murphy. - By authority of NC General Statute §20-187.2, City Council may award the service weapon and police badge to retiring MPO Paul Murphy upon his retirement from Hickory Police Department on July 1, 2012 after completing 27 years of service with Hickory Police Department. Upon approval from City Council, the police badge and service weapon will be declared surplus and removed from the city’s fixed asset inventory.

D. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from City of Hickory to David Lee Britt in Oakwood Cemetery

E. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from Ruth R. Suther and husband, Jack K. Suther to David L.
Johnson and wife, Jacqueline S. Johnson in Oakwood Cemetery

F. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following requests were considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their
regular meeting on June 7, 2012:
 Elizabeth Avery, 3350 Treadwell Lane SE, Newton, (Blue Sky Court Subdivision is in Hickory City Limits) was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $7,500 for repairs to her home. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 10 year period.
 Gregory J. Beucler was approved for recommendation to City Council for the Police Officers homebuyer’s assistance to purchase a house located at 1023 3rd Street Drive NE, Hickory. He has requested $10,000 for assistance with down payment and closing costs. Police Officers Homebuyers Assistance Loan is Zero interest, no payments and repaid upon sale, refinance or payoff of first mortgage
 Vanessa Hoyle, 402 4th Street SE, Hickory, was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $10,000 for repairs to her home. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 10 year period.
 Hung & Yen Le, 645 29th Avenue NE, Hickory, were awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $5,000 for repairs to her home. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 10 year period.
 Amanda C. Niehoff, 1325 20th Street Drive NE, Hickory, was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $5,000 for repairs to her home. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 20 year period.
 Ollie M. Rhinehardt, 417 3rd Avenue SE, Hickory, was awarded a City of Hickory’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan. The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval for assistance not to exceed $10,000 for repairs to her home. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 10 year period.
 Judy B. Smith, 1328 5th Street NE, Hickory, was approved for Loan Subordination. The loan for Ms. Smith was done under First-Time Homebuyers Assistance. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommended this subordination to help her do a loan modification to lower her monthly payment and make it more affordable. She will not be taking any money out for personal use.

H. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding Agreement with City of Refuge For FY2012-2013 in the Amount of $3,696 - After a public hearing during its April 3, 2012 meeting, City Council unanimously approved the CDBG Annual Action Plan which included funding of $3,696 for City of Refuge. Staff recommends approval of the formal agreement with City of Refuge for FY 2012-13 funding and service delivery.

I. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding Agreement with Exodus Outreach Foundation, Inc. for FY2012-2013 in the Amount of $11,000 - After a public hearing during its April 3, 2012 meeting, City Council unanimously approved the CDBG Annual Action Plan which included funding of $11,000 for Exodus Outreach Foundation, Inc. Staff recommends approval of the formal agreement with Exodus Outreach Foundation, Inc. for FY 2012-13 funding and service delivery.

J. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding Agreement with Hickory Soup Kitchen, Inc. for FY2012-2013 in the amount of $12,500 - After a public hearing during its April 3, 2012 meeting, City Council unanimously approved the CDBG Annual Action Plan which included funding of $12,500 for Hickory Soup Kitchen, Inc. Staff recommends approval of the formal agreement with Hickory Soup Kitchen Inc. for FY 2012-13 funding and service delivery.

K. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funding Agreement with Inter-Faith Housing Development Corporation for FY2012-2013 in the amount of $30,000 - After a public hearing during its April 3, 2012 meeting, City Council unanimously approved the CDBG Annual Action Plan which included funding of $30,000 for Inter-Faith Housing Development Corporation. Staff recommends approval of the formal agreement with Inter-Faith Housing Development Corporation for FY 2012-13 funding and service

L. Change Order No. 3 to the agreement dated June 15, 2010 with McGill Associates, P.A. for the NEWWTP Upgrade Project in the amount of $3,500 - This construction administration services Change Order 3 consists of three items related to additional services required by the Public Utilities Department. The first item Included in this change order in the amount of $2,100 is related to modifications to the plans necessary to comply with NC Building Code regarding emergency exit lighting (Task Order 12). This modification is necessary to modify the plans and detail the location necessary for emergency battery ballast light fixtures to comply with NC Building Code. The second item, oxidation ditch walkways expansion joint modifications (Task Order 13) in the amount of $750 and item number three, thickened sludge transfer piping modifications (Task Order 14) in the amount of $650. There will be no additional construction costs related to these plan modifications.

M. Special Events/Activities Application for Together We Stand by Terry J. Dickerson Jr., on Saturday, September 29, 2012 on Union Square from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm, Christian music by various churches in the area.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Resolution delegating the authority to the City Manager to award Commercial Use Permits for commercial activities at the Hickory Regional Airport. From time to time aircraft owners and operators with aircraft based at the Airport as well as itinerant aircraft operators have the need for services that the City does not provide. Examples are aircraft maintenance repair and servicing, aircraft cleaning and other activities. In order to make these services available to its aircraft patrons, the City needs to grant formal, but short-term and nonleasehold approval to approved businesses to enter onto the Airport and provide the requested services to their HKY customers. The Manager, acting through the Airport Director, will entertain proposals from aviation businesses wishing to provide these types of commercial activities at the Airport and will recommend that those proposals he finds to be in the best interest of the Airport, its customers and the City be approved with uniform and standard financial and other requirements. Staff recommends City Council delegate by resolution authority to the City Manager to issue Commercial Use Permits at the Airport.

Assistant City Manager Andrea Surratt made the presentation in place of Terry Clark (Airport Director). This is similar to a special use permit. This is for temporary or short notice legitimate business. Maintenance and Airplane washing are examples of services that the city will not provide. The airport Attorney Frank Newton advised the staff on this issue and other business operations at the airport. Alderman Lail asked about the guiding principal with City management in relation to revenues from the permittees. Ms. Surratt and City Manager Berry stated that the City will earn a percentage of gross revenues. Council gave Unanimous Consent.

2. Presentation from Louise Humphrey, Library Director – Libraries Three Year Strategic Plan - The mission is to encourage exploration of new ideas, support local education, enhance the economic vitality of the region, strengthen a sense of community and enrich the quality of life for all.  Services for Youth, Adults, Senior Adults, as a community center, and as a supporter of economic development. In the area of economic development, the library looks to provide resources that enable preparation for life and work in times of rapid change. Technology is a key towards meeting this goal. The Library has created a Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) system. 12 additional PCs are available for a total of 36. 30 computer classes are taught per year at Ridgeview.

Ms. Humphrey went over events that the Library participates in throughout the year. She talked about the new coffee bar to soon open in the Library. The large print collection has 6,500 items. The goal is to add 80 items per year and a total of 240 per 3 years and the Library has exceeded that by adding 1,843 items. She talked about the North Carolina Digital Library, which allows for access to other books. Senior Information Resources (SIR) is a new program that will be geared towards seniors which coordinates senior services. The Beginning Reader/Green Dot reader program has grown for the benefit of youth and has been expanded by 20%. These services include access at 16 Senior resident facilities and Home Bound Citizens. The Library is promoted on WHKY, Hickory Daily Record, and through social media sites. This year's kickoff summer reading program at Patrick Beaver had 250 attendees and at Ridgeview had 230 attendees.

Citizen Requesting to Be Heard - Larry Pope on Respect
Addendum - Larry Pope - Respect

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 19, 2012 - Addendum - Larry Pope - Respect

Larry Pope addresses the Hickory City Council on the issue of respect. He talks about how he brought his concerns to the City of Hickory and they dismissed his concerns. He doesn't feel that he was given proper respect and felt like he was wasting his time. He went back to the Housing Board, but they acted as a rubber stamp for what the Director wanted to do. He also went into past issues of lack of respect. And he spoke about the funding that HUD can take away from the City.

The Mayor responded and said a meeting was scheduled with Mr. Pope and they asked him to submit specific questions in relation to HUD. He says that they were never given the questions. There are questions that the Housing Authority is going to have to address. The Mayor inferred by stating figures that Mr. Pope's brother was a major beneficiary of subject monies awarded.

Mr. Pope came back to the podium and further retorted the Mayor's rebuttal, because he stated that he didn't want anyone in the city to misconstrue what had happened. Mr. Pope stated that he had recused himself in the issues involving the awarding of contracts involving his brother. He says he did what he thought he was supposed to do. The director said she didn't know (understand these issues involving Larry's Brother). Larry further talked about the contacts between the Mayor and the Director, the hiring of the director's husband, the misappropriation of funds related to bonuses and falsifying records... He says the issue could have been settled locally and didn't have to go to HUD and the Federal Government. The Housing Authority was established through the City Charter and Mayor doesn't know what he should know. He asked that in the future the Mayor please listen to Citizens when they come forward.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


In relation to discussions of societal trends, we look towards today's realities and where we envision current realities heading in the future. The path between today's reality and what we envision for the future is called a trajectory. Trajectories related to societal trends look at the path to future realities and describe an object (Tangible or Intangible) moving through time under the influence of variable social and economic forces such as capital, supply, demand, barriers to entry, competition, regulation, and innovation. I am sure that I haven't mentioned something and most certainly welcome your input. 

I feel like I am more open minded than most, but realize that is debatable and depends upon personal realities. What it all boils down to is perspectives.

Perspectives deal with ones point of view and/or ones outlook on life. Those characteristics are determined by traits such as gender, race, age, wealth and a multitude of other variable demographic factors. A 67 year old who is retired/semi-retired and just started receiving Social Security is going to look at something completely differently than a 22 year old who just graduated college, has student loans, and needs a job. They are said to have different perspectives/views of reality. It doesn't mean that anyone is right or wrong about reality. It is what makes us complex beings.

Each one of us are unique individuals assimilated into a culture that seeks to homogenize and thus minimize our unique characteristic traits. The Powers That Be throughout this planet have an agenda that seeks to control the populace through various programs that dull society and take away its capabilities to strive towards excellence. This is done as a method to shapeshift society towards the Powers That Be's personal profit portfolio. This is what I mean by the consolidation of society. A game of Monopoly on a World scale. You may disagree, but this is what I truly believe. It is my perspective. It is what I see.

I understand that as a society that we should not paralyze our ability to act through over analysis, but see big problems when decisions are left to the devices of a handful of people with no input from the public. I believe in open processes and debates without the end desires being established before the process of critical discussion takes place. Once consensus is established, then I believe that you make a decision to move forward and do it.

Failure isn't a big deal. Failure is part of the solution. Even though failure is frustrating, we learn from failure. By failing to take action, we ensure continued failure. If we choose to take another path, which fails, then we can always go back to the familiarity of experience; but success in life comes from learning to adapt to the unfamiliar. The one constant in life in change. Adaption towards change in inherent toward success.

There is really nothing in life that we should be afraid of. Many of us are conditioned towards fear early in life. We accept being bullied. Like an abused dog, we can either choose to go to the corner and quiver in fear or we can choose to bite. I have said it before and will say it again; ain't none of us gettin' outta here alive. So there is really nothing to fear.

Getting back to trajectories. I don't think there are many of us out here that think we are currently on the right path. I know there are some people out here that are helping move us towards getting on the right path. I just think we need to expedite the process. The only way to do that is by cutting to the chase and saying what is on your mind and taking action within ethical constructs... Verbal Resistance and Non-Violent Protest.

Words and Actions mean something. There is a reason why the First Amendment to the Constitution is Freedom of Speech and Expression. Yes, there are inherent responsibilities towards those expressions, but they aren't bound by law and they should not be. I fear that we are headed towards the Powers That Be brazenly attempting to curtail our freedom to express ourselves. We are already seeing more and more attempts to regulate these expressions.

I look back to where we have been in our American society and would have never fathomed what I have seen over the last decade-plus. It has nothing to do with culture or wealth classification. It has everything to do with control through fear and intimidation... The Bogie Man's coming to getcha... We have seen billions of dollars spent on "security," while the infrastructure in our country continues to crumble and no steps are being taken to fix major issues. What is more important?

Do you know what the difference is between the Rich people and Poor people in our society? Money.

Money does not separate the intelligent or those with class. I know as many people who are dumber than a box of rocks who have money as I do who are poor. I know as many people who have money who have zero manners as I do poor people. I know as many poor people who are greedy as I do rich people. The only difference is that there are a lot more people who don't have money than those who do. And there are getting to be a lot more poor people, because we have seen obstacles creating a path of destruction of commerce in the U.S. and that is destroying the middle class and the ability to climb the socio-economic ladder.

So do me a favor and disassociate your personal desires from where you hope we are headed and look at the realities of where we are and draw a line of conclusions from where we were 10 years ago and where we are at today and truly think about where that will have us in 5 to 10 years. Put yourself in someone else's shoes. That is reality.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- June 17, 2012

Private Jobs Down 4.6 Million From January 2008; Federal Jobs Up 11.4% - - Ed Carson - June 8, 2012 - Private-sector jobs are still down by 4.6 million, or 4%, from January 2008, when overall employment peaked. Meanwhile government jobs are down just 407,000, or 1.8%. Federal employment actually is 225,000 jobs above its January 2008 level, an 11.4% increase.          That’s right, up 11.4%.        Private payrolls have been trending higher in the last couple of years while government has been shedding staff. But that’s because governments did not cut jobs right away. Overall government employment didn’t peak until April 2009, 16 months after the recession started. It didn’t fall below their January 2008 level until September 2010. The recession was boomtime for federal employment, especially after Obama took office. Federal jobs kept rising (excluding a temporary Census surge in early 2010) until March 2011 — more than three years after overall payrolls peaked.        Obama’s 2009 stimulus did little to revive private jobs, but did funnel massive funding to state and local governments. That, however, only delayed the day of reckoning for states and cities to curb spending. They finally did significantly slash jobs in 2010 and 2011. But those layoffs have slowed to a crawl in recent months — averaging less than 3,500 job cuts a month since November.

20 Reasons Why America's Next Bank Holiday Will Be a Nightmare - Survival - The world is on now on the brink of a global credit crisis that could be far worse than the tumultuous events of 2008. The ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the southern reaches of the Eurozone indicate that bank runs in the region will continue, and that more bank closure "holidays" will be declared. Under a bank holiday, virtually all deposits could be frozen and irredeemable for days, weeks, or even months. The key question is: Will this crisis spread to the rest of Europe and then even to the United States? I urge SurvivalBlog readers--particularly those in Europe--to be proactive, to stay "ahead of the power curve." While the Generally Dumb Public (GDP) wakes up some morning to hear news of a bank holiday, you will have long hence prepared yourself.

Federal Reserve Board Members Gave Their Own Banks $4 Trillion in Bailouts - - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - Following the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve provided more than $4 trillion in near zero-interest loans and other help to banks and businesses whose executives also served as directors for the national bank.                           At least 18 current and former Fed regional bank directors had a direct stake in the trillion-dollar bailout given to teetering institutions, according to a report produced by the Government Accountability Office, but released by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).                    “This report reveals the inherent conflicts of interest that exist at the Federal Reserve,” Sanders said in a prepared statement. “At a time when small businesses could not get affordable loans to create jobs, the Fed was providing trillions in secret loans to some of the largest banks and corporations in America that were well represented on the boards of the Federal Reserve Banks.”            Sanders wants to end the potential conflicts of interest that come with having bank executives serving on the Fed’s boards. The senator introduced legislation in May that would prohibit banking industry and business executives from serving as directors of the Fed’s 12 regional banks.

Americans saw wealth plummet 40 percent from 2007 to 2010, Federal Reserve says - Washongton Post - Ylan Q. Mui, June 11, 2012 -  The recent recession wiped out nearly two decades of Americans’ wealth, according to government data released Monday, with ­middle-class families bearing the brunt of the decline.                      The Federal Reserve said the median net worth of families plunged by 39 percent in just three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. That puts Americans roughly on par with where they were in 1992.                      The data represent one of the most detailed looks at how the economic downturn altered the landscape of family finance. Over a span of three years, Americans watched progress that took almost a generation to accumulate evaporate. The promise of retirement built on the inevitable rise of the stock market proved illusory for most. Homeownership, once heralded as a pathway to wealth, became an albatross......

A Global Recession? - The warning signs are everywhere - National Review - Larry Kudlow - June 14, 2012 - Is it possible that we are already in a global recession but just don’t know it yet? And is the U.S. itself — still the epicenter of the world economy — standing on the front edge of another recession? I sincerely hope I’m wrong. But warning signs are everywhere....                              Here at home, ex-Clinton strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg sent a memo to President Obama telling him that his campaign message of slow and steady recovery progress is out of touch with Main Street America. They’re right. Of course, Obama’s “private sector is doing just fine” statement is part and parcel of his disconnect from economic reality.                  And the reality isn’t good. Whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, take a look at the numbers:                 Job growth has been slipping badly for three months. Retail sales and factory orders are down two straight months. Real incomes are flat. Household wealth is way underwater from the housing collapse, dropping nearly 40 percent in the last three measured years. And GDP was an anemic 1.9 percent in the first quarter. Nearly all leading Wall Street economists are marking down their second-quarter estimates to 2 percent or less.                But here’s the key point: 2 percent growth is not a recovery. Many economists would call it a growth recession. When you get that low there’s little margin for error. A shock from Europe, an inventory selloff in the U.S., or almost any unexpected event could push us back into negative territory for an official double-dip recession.

Looming Repossession Spike Threatens Housing Recovery - Newsmax - - June 14, 2012 - Lenders initiated foreclosure proceedings against more U.S. homeowners in May, setting the stage for increases in home repossessions and short sales — scenarios that could further weigh down home values in coming months.                         Default or scheduled-home-auction notices were filed for the first time against 109,051 homes last month. That's an increase of 12 percent from April and up 16 percent versus May last year, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday....               Some 8.7 million U.S. homes entered the foreclosure process between January 2007 and last month, RealtyTrac said. Out of those, 4.3 million properties ended up foreclosed-upon.....                 Banks took back 54,844 properties last month, up 7 percent from April, the firm said.....               All told, foreclosure-related notices were reported on 205,990 U.S. properties last month, an increase of 9 percent from April and down 4 percent versus May last year, RealtyTrac said.....

Skousen: Much of U.S. Recovery Has Been ‘Artificial’- Newsmax - - June 15, 2012 - Forrest Jones and Paul Scicchitano - The U.S. recovery has been largely artificial in nature, the product of Federal Reserve meddling that is actually preventing the country from achieving lasting economic growth, economist and author Mark Skousen tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview. Since the downturn, the Federal Reserve has done all it can to juice recovery. On top of cutting interest rates to near zero, the Fed has rolled out two rounds of bond buybacks, officially known as quantitative easing (QE), with the aim of spurring recovery. QE1 saw the Fed buy $1.7 trillion in assets from banks, mainly mortgage securities, while QE2 saw the central bank snap up $600 billion of Treasury bonds, the latter of which wrapped up on June 30, 2011. The move, also called balance-sheet expansion, aims to push long-term interest rates lower and encourage investment and hiring. After QE2, the Fed announced a policy of selling short-term government bonds and buying longer-term debt in tandem to further ensure long-term interest rates stay low, a move dubbed Operation Twist by the markets since it twists the numbers around on the yield curve. In reality, it's all just printing money out of thin air or temporarily propping up the economy, and it's definitely not the right medicine for the economy even though more such policies are likely on the way, says Skousen, a columnist for Franklin Prosperity Report, published by Newsmax.

Beef: It’s What’s (Expensive) for Dinner - Yahoo Finance - Lisa Scherzer, The Exchange – June 14, 2012 -  The average retail price of beef from January through April this year is 7.7% higher than the same period a year ago, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service data, while it's remained steady over the past few months, says John Michael Riley, an assistant professor in Mississippi State University's department of agricultural economics. And the average price in 2011 was 9.8% higher than in 2010.              Higher Prices Will Continue - Shoppers are going to continue to see higher prices at the meat counter — and not just for beef. Chris Hurt, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, says he expects the average price of beef to rise to about $5.30 a pound next year. So far this year through May, retail prices have averaged $5.03 a pound — a record high for this time period (it was $4.72 a pound for January-May 2011 and $4.83 for all of 2011). The latest Consumer Price Index for all food is projected to increase 2.5% to 3.5% in 2012.               Two main factors have contributed to the rise: a drought that devastated parts of the U.S. last year and a shrinking supply of cattle.             

New rules make it harder to get unemployment benefits - CNN Money - Tami Luhby @CNNMoney - June 15, 2012 - Millions of jobless Americans now have another hurdle to pass before collecting federal unemployment benefits.               New rules passed by Congress this year require that the jobless go to their local One-Stop Career Center for an in-person assessment if they want to receive federal unemployment checks.                This means the unemployed now have to trek to these centers, which has left some states scrambling to find space and personnel to handle all these one-on-one meetings. Some 9 million people are expected to go through these assessments by year's end.           Plus, in order to comply with the new federal rules, some states are ramping up their requirements on documentation of the jobless' attempts to return to the workforce.

Fear & Greed Index beta - What emotion is driving the market now? - CNN Money

Banks & People's Deposits - Max Keiser & Nomi Prins - June 15, 2012 - In this edition of the show Max interviews Nomi Prins from It is the size of a bank holding company's deposits that dictates the extent of the risk it takes, risk 'models' not withstanding: the more deposits, the more risk, the more potential loss. And the more access to other people's money, the greater the gambling incentive. The largest banks hold deposits (people's deposits) hostage in the global game of financial warfare. Related access to capital and bailouts are enabling weaponry in the fight for worldwide institutional supremacy.


Friday, June 15, 2012

The Bear

Souled Out

I really don't see how anyone can get excited about the upcoming Presidential election. I am not going to speak for others, but speaking for myself, if I decide to vote for a candidate it will be to vote against the other guy and not to support someone.

I do support healthcare reform, but not what has come to be known as Obamacare. I do not support the unfunded mandate. I don't believe in penalizing people for not buying something they can't afford. I don't support businesses being involved in their employees' healthcare plan. We need to totally rethink how healthcare is financed and delivered in this country. Wrapping it up in a nice little bow for corporate interests is not the solution. It will create a major fiasco.

Why do I support healthcare reform. I have seen so many middle class people basically ruined by the current system. They cannot afford the system. I know that healthcare professionals, for the most part, don't want to hear that, but it is rooted in fact. If you are earning $20,000 to $30,000 per year, most people cannot afford $100,000 bills when they don't have health insurance and when they do have insurance what good is it when they have their coverage dropped after having a catastrophic issue. I know three people who are currently in this boat and another who is only not there because they now qualify for medicare.

Then there is the energy issue. It is an and/both issue. We need to continue to seek out alternatives, but we have to build a bridge to that future with what we have today. This nation has cut back on foreign imports over the last four years, but much of that has been attributable to the Economic Depression.

(Reuters - May 30, 2012) - U.S. crude oil imports fell in March, dropping 266,000 barrels per day from a year earlier, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. Crude imports averaged 8.767 million bpd in March, the second year-over-year drop since October. The drop coincided with a larger-than-expected decrease in March oil demand,with consumption down 6.38 percent from a year earlier.
I don't see a compromise coming from the two party system. One lives in a fantasy land of "Alternatives today" and the other believe in "Alternatives will never happen." Yes they will never happen if we don't strive to make them happen and if you think magical fairy dust will make them happen, then you are defeating the cause before you even get started. We need compromise on this issue.

Then there is our current military projection. What is the plan? What is the end game? Obama comes into office and we are in worse shape on this front. Romney seems to want to go foot to the floor board in the Middle East. We can't afford this and check out the above petroleum issue and see where those issues are closely tied. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on this military projection and it is obvious that we aren't seeing a return on our investment and it doesn't look like we will see one any time in the future under current guidance.

Then there is the Domestic Security apparatus. "Homeland Security" has projected itself into every facet of our lives in less than a decade. Does this make you feel safer? Does it not make you fear government authority more? And once again, what about the costs? What is the price on our privacy and liberty? You can't place a monetary value on that, but you certainly can on the technology that is being used to administer this tyrannical apparatus! And look at where the candidates stand on this issue. Four years from now do you believe it will be more or less cumbersome under the direction we are headed?

Neither one of these men can relate to the average citizen. Neither support Federal Reserve reform. Neither support reining in Free for All trade. Neither are looking at substantial cuts in the size of the government. Neither wants to tax the Super Wealthy. Neither has proposed rethinking the current tax system. Both seem to be looking towards more International participation in Governance over our national interests and sovereignty.

We have two parties, but on issues that matter we have one system. Everyone's still participating in World Wrestling Politics and the event is sold out. Too bad the American people won't wake up or do they even have a choice. Does it even matter? Are we too far down the path with our fate already decided? What is your soul, your inner being, telling you? I know what mine is telling me.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Dragon

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's in your face

It is plain as day to see that we have been in a crisis for a long time. The Politicos keep buying time with their Ponzi Economy. Sometimes all of this is very overwhelming because we keep being attacked on every level of our lives.

There is a purpose behind my Sunday links entitled "Economic Stories of Relevance." Last week I had a comment that I was a cut and paste king with no original thought. My mother has something she always says that cuts to the chase, about subterfuge - WHATEVER!

There is a weekly connection to those economically relevant links that point to patterns and attempt to educate and reenforce the issues we face. They aren't thrown up there willy-nilly. It is up to you to see the pattern and I think the patterns are obvious. We are being lied to about many aspects of the economy through propagandized information (spin) by the press in conjunction with government incorporated. It is up to people to read between the lines to understand current realities; but many are too busy, while others are too brainwashed, to see this.

Now I know why this person has posted negative comments about what I have said about local governance. It is a petty issue that this person has a friendly association with the local government and the local Republican Party and they can't stand that I am looking to shake up the status quo and this person is fully entrenched in hanging on to the coattails of the local Republican party.

Hey, the comments made by this person are fully their right to make. I do agree that I don't participate in the manner that this person does. As it is this person's right to chastise me for not participating in their system, it is my right not to participate in their system. But, people "in the know" know that I participate more than all but a handful of the people in this community.

Those of us who have aims to shake up the status quo are many times labeled as radicals or trouble makers by the establishment, but in the end the radicals are the people who deflect accountability, obfuscate issues, and seek to keep information out of the public eye in the name of maintaining power and the status quo. These people are as much in the minority as I am. They just don't realize it.

Larry Pope has been one of those individuals that has been labeled negatively by the local Powers That Be. He went to Hickory Inc. with his concerns about the Housing authority and they shut him down. Seems like after reading the article in the Hickory Daily Record on Sunday that his concerns were justified and Hickory Inc. unjustifiably shut down a whistle blower.

We read about the abuse of whistle blowers all the time in National Publications and most of the public in our area seems to be under a delusion that things like that don't happen in Hickory. Make no mistake that this is a serious issue and we have seen several issues along these lines spin out of control over the last several years. There is a common thread there.

How can the public continue to ignore these issues, one right after the other, that hit so close to home? How can the public allow issues of poor management to continue with no accountability towards process.

The characterization of the quintessential used car salesmen is, "Let's get you in the car today and we'll worry about that other stuff tomorrow." By the time the issues arise it is too late. We need to know costs up front. We need to know and understand the issues and concerns we are facing. We need a plan to attack issues and not people. We need to be able to look the people who are leading us in the eye and know that they have control of the reins to lead us somewhere, not nowhere.

I am told that we don't need to worry about these impediments; that we need to go around them. We need to do both. We will most certainly attempt to go around the impediments; but if time is money and money is time and the closest path between two points is a straight line, then it is obvious that the sooner we remove obstacles the better off we are going to be.

(If you don't agree with this context and would like specific quotes about the parameters of this article, then you provide a relevant comment and we will discuss this further in the comments section.)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 5, 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 6/5/2012 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. Dale Sneed, Pastor, Hartzell Memorial and McQueens Chapel United Methodist Churches

Special Presentations:

A. Presentation By Dr. Dave Hamilton and Dr. William Litaker Regarding Missions of Mercy, a Free Dental Clinic to be held on July 27 and 28, 2012 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center.

North Carolina Missions of Mercy Dental Clinic - Volunteers and Sponsors Needed for event on July 27 & 28

B. Presentation of the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the Fiscal Year Beginning July 1, 2011. This is the seventeenth consecutive year the City Has received this recognition.

C. Presentation by Communications Department Staff of a video showcasing the ribbon cutting and opening day of the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground at Kiwanis Park

Consent Agenda

A. Resolution – Cancellation of July 3, 2012 City Council Meeting Be it resolved by the City Council of the City of Hickory that the regularly scheduled City Council Meeting for July 3, 2012 be cancelled due to the annual tradition of canceling the first City Council Meeting in July because of the possibility of not having a quorum of Council as a result of the July 4th holiday and vacations. (This meeting in July has traditionally been cancelled by the City Council.)

B. Proclamation Recognizing Hickory Crawdads Manager Bill Richardson for Becoming the All-Time Winning Manager in Hickory Crawdads History

C. Proclamation Recognizing National HIV Testing Day on June 27, 2012

D. Request From Hickory Jaycees for Use of City Hall Parking Lot for Hickory Alive on June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

The Hound is glad to see Hickory Inc. saw that they were off base and backed off where they were headed with this issue. The two articles below are a reminder of where we were at last year when it comes to this issue. There are still people that would put an end to this event if the opportunity arises. Those who think this issue has been permanently solved are mistaken. Events like Hickory Alive are important to this area and should not be taken for granted.

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 3, 2011 -- Addendum on "The Future of Hickory Alive" - May 4, 2011

Hal Row Show - The Mayor - Hickory Alive - A lack of tolerance for Younger Generations - June 27, 2011

E. Request From Catawba Valley Pride Inc. for Use of L. P. Frans Stadium for Catawba Valley Pride Celebration to be held on Saturday, September 29, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Revisiting the Issue from last September

F. Request For Funding By Community Relations Council (CRC) – Spring 2012 Grant Recommendations in the Amount of $6,000.00 - As part of the Community Relations Council work plan and annual budget process, the CRC receives funds to disperse during the fiscal year through the CRC grant process. Non-profit agencies working with diverse populations in Hickory are eligible for grant funding. The grant proposal must show how the program under consideration fits into the CRC goals and mission and how the program will serve to improve human relations in the Hickory area. A total of $12,000.00 is available for grant funding in FY 2011-12. For the spring grant cycle, the CRC received grant requests totaling $15,834.80. The CRC reviewed the applications and recommends funding on five (5) of the grant requests received:
1. Outright Youth of Catawba Valley 1,500.00
2. Exodus Homes 984.80
3. Dr. Neal Gray – Diabetes Support Group 1,015.20
4. Girls on the Run of Catawba Valley 1,000.00
5. Restored Generation Inc. 1,500.00
Total $6,000.00

G. Resolution Accepting the Offer of Dedication by Habitat For Humanity of Catawba Valley of Lands and Improvements as Shown in Plat Book 71 at Page 135 of the Catawba County Registry on 5th Avenue SW - This request is for consideration of a resolution accepting an offer of dedication of street right-of-way by Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley, which involves a newlyconstructed segment of 5th Avenue SW. Habitat For Humanity of Catawba Valley recently completed what was known as the Green Park Subdivision in southwest Hickory. Upon completion of new subdivisions, the plat will contain an offer of dedication for areas deemed public. The offer of dedication stands as the owner’s intention to transfer the area shown from private ownership to public ownership; however, NCGS §160A-374 stipulates that the offer can only be accepted by resolution of City Council. Staff recommends approval.

H. Request for Approval to Purchase Approximately 0.7 Acres of Property Adjacent to the Northeast WWTP from Clay H. and Jennifer Gosnell Located on 1st Street Place, NE in the Amount of $30,500.00, with Estimated Closing Costs of $3,000.00 – The Public Utilities Department Staff was approached by Clay and Jennifer Gosnell, the property owners, about purchasing this property which is located adjacent to the Northeast WWTP. The 0.7-acre property is immediately south of the existing WWTP property on the western end and would provide a beneficial buffer area between the facility and the adjacent community. The property could also be beneficial as the future site of a water resources education building. Purchase of the property will be paid from the Northeast WWTP Upgrade Project Contingency Fund. Staff recommends approval.

I. Tax Refund, as Recommended by Catawba County Tax Office, to Moore’s Ferry Associates, LLC in the Amount of $610.44 - Due to an error in land pricing amount and incorrect allocation between the City of Hickory and the Hickory Rural Fire District for property located at 4331 North Center Street, Moore’s Ferry was subsequently billed for an additional value of $122,087.00 for the City. The error was corrected for the 2012 bill. Moore’s Ferry Associates LLC is requesting a refund for tax year 2011 for overpayment. This has been verified by the Tax Collector’s Office. Staff recommends approval.

J. Resolution Declaring Surplus 1,440 Library Books and Authorizing Materials be Given to Friends of the Library for Their Fourth Saturday Book Sales – January – June, 2012 - The Friends of the Library collected donated books and other materials throughout the year for their book sales, the proceeds providing funds for library programming and other special activities. For many years, the library has given Friends of the Library materials that have been removed from the collection because they are out of date, in poor condition, or no longer needed to meet the collection development goals of the library. There are 1,440 discarded library materials to be donated. Staff recommends approval.

K. Amendment to Lease Agreement with Hickory Christian Academy to Allow for the Lease of Additional Classroom Space at Neill W. Clark Jr. Recreation Park - Hickory Christian Academy (HCA) is located adjacent to Neill W. Clark, Jr. Recreation Park. Due to school facility constraints, representatives of HCA approached the City Staff about the possibility of leasing facility space beginning with the 2011-2012 school year, and a lease agreement was signed on August 16, 2011 leasing three classroom spaces and an office/conference room for a total of 1,851 square feet. The first amendment to the lease provides for: (1) The City agrees to lease an additional room (No. 13), which totals 508 square feet, at a rate of $1.00 per square foot per month. Effective July 1, 2012, the monthly lease payment increases from $1,851.00 to $2,359.00; (2) HCA will also be allowed to use the common mall area for lunch provided a written request is provided seven days prior to the requested use. Should unexpected weather conditions occur, a request may be submitted without the seven day notice requirement. All previously scheduled events in this area will take precedent over any use request by HCA. (3) The lease amendment also provides for the issuance of additional facility keys. Leasing of the additional classroom space will have no adverse affect on any current or future programs offered and conducted by the Parks and Recreation Department. Staff recommends approval of the first amendment to the lease agreement.

L. Write Offs for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 in the Amount $198,299.15 (FY 2011) and $234,986.84(FY 2012) - North Carolina General Statutes establish all Street Assessments and Property Taxes that are over ten (10) years old are no longer collectable and should be written off in conjunction with the annual audit. For the current fiscal year (FY 11-12), there are no Street Assessments to be written off, but there is $127,119.28 in Property Taxes. The City of Hickory’s Accounting Division requires all other accounts that are over eighteen (18) months in arrears be written off to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in order to more fairly represent financial assets of the City on the balance sheet. For the current fiscal year, this amounts to $107,867.56. Current fiscal year writeoffs total $234,986.84, compared to $198,299.15 for FY 10-11. Even though these accounts will be written off, the Finance Division will continue to pursue collection of the debts. All accounts over $50.00 that are eligible are submitted to the North Carolina Debt Setoff Program for collection. Staff recommends approval to write-off uncollectable
accounts for Fiscal Year 2011-2012.

M. Request from Grace Chapel Fire Department in Caldwell County for Transfer from City of Hickory of a Surplus Radio Tower Frame Currently Stored at Fire Station No. 7 for Public Safety Radio Communication Use - During 2003-04, the City demolished the former police department and city jail building that was located on 1st Street NE. During the demolition phase, a radio tower was removed from the side of the building and moved to Fire Station No. 7 for storage. Since that time, there has been no designated use of the radio tower frame. The Grace Chapel Fire Dept. is currently building a new fire station in Caldwell County and has a need for a radio tower for fire and rescue radio communications. Staff recommends approval.

N. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 24
1. To budget a $50 Library donation (Shirley and Ralph Cunningham) in the LibraryBooks line item.
2. To budget a total of $606 ($100-Quest Book Club and $506-Ridgeview High School Class of 1962) Library donations.
3. To transfer $9,000 from the Street Division Construction line item to the Stormwater Fund Departmental Supplies. This transfer is necessary to provide funds in the Stormwater budget to purchase construction materials needed for storm drain related projects.
4. To budget $1,215 of Miscellaneous Revenue in the Fire Department Maintenance and Repair of Vehicles line item. These funds were received from Mountain Recycling, Inc. for the sale of scrap metal from surplus Engine 14.
5. To budget a $2,000 donation from the Kiwanis Foundation in the Parks and Recreation Maintenance and Repair of Grounds line item. This donation is for landscaping at the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground at Kiwanis Park.
6. To budget a $300 donation in the Parks and Recreation Departmental Supplies line item. This donation is for the Zahra Baker Community Build.
7. To budget $140 of Parks and Recreation Special Activities Revenue in the Recreation Supplies line item. These funds are designated for Lacrosse supplies (uniforms).
8. To budget $2,460 of Parks and Recreation revenue in the Parks and Recreation Special Events line item. These funds are for the June SOAP (Summer Outdoor Adventure Program) offered by the Parks and Recreation Department.
9. To budget $7,633 of Parks and Recreation revenue in the Parks and Recreation Special Events line item. These funds are for the Senior Games.
10. To appropriate $9,400 of Miscellaneous TDA revenue and to transfer an additional $4,821 of Contingency to the Finance Departments Banking Services line item. These funds are necessary to cover the refinancing fees for the General Fund debts which was paid for out of the Finance Department’s
operational budget.
11. To budget $285,000 of additional Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax revenues for FY11-12. Per State statute Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax revenues are collected by the City and remitted directly to the Hickory-Conover Tourism Development Authority.
12. To appropriate $22,474 of Insurance Fund Balance (General Liability) to the FBO (Fixed Base Operations) Other Professional Services line item for legal expenses related to the FBO Bankruptcy.
13. To transfer $263,500 ($162,500 General Fund, $98,000 Solid Waste Fund, $3,000 Transportation Fund) of designated Fuel Reserve funds to several departments fuel and motor oil operational line items. This transfer is necessary to cover the projected overages in fuel costs in the current fiscal year. These funds are a portion of the $1 million previously set aside by City Council to meet the rising cost of fuel. Any remaining funds at year end will be transferred back to the Fuel Reserve for future needs.
14. To transfer $10,553 of Appropriated Transportation Fund Balance to several Airport operational line items. This amendment is necessary to complete the fiscal year.

New Business - Public Hearings
1. City Manager’s Recommended Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Budget Ordinance - Pursuant to NC General Statutes §159-12(b), a public hearing shall be held before adopting the budget ordinance. This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on May 17, 2012. Copies of the budget ordinance were filed for public inspection in the Office of the City Clerk, Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Library. The recommended budget is also posted on the City’s web page, Pursuant to NC General Statutes §159-13(a), the City Council is required to adopt a balanced budget before July 1, making the appropriations and levying taxes for the budget year. The City Manager recommends adoption of the attached budget ordinance for Fiscal Year 2012-13.

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of June 5, 2012 - Addendum on the Hickory City Budget 2012-13

Recognition of Persons Requesting To Be Heard
Martha Boston, 123 10th Avenue SE, requests to speak to Council regarding: 1. Code enforcement and slumlords; and  2. Ridgeview Library. - Ms. Boston prefers the name Blitzie. The matter concerns Slumlords throughout the city. She spoke about issues surrounding her house.... people in and out... neighbors with stolen cars. There are issues with trees on other properties and their limbs  overhanging and damaging her property. The roots from the trees have torn up her driveway. The bottom line is that nothing had been done for seven years until Code Enforcement got involved three  months ago. She believes that we need more code enforcers, because they can't possibly oversee all of the slumlords that don't live in the area. A fence has been placed on her property and she will have to pay money to have it removed. She has been advised that she will have to go to small claims court to get the tree issue resolved. She commended the police for doing a good job. She talked about that kids in the Ridgeview are having kids and the police shouldn't be expected to take care of the kids. She said she believes the City Council has done as much as they can at this time, but believes that the Council should be more visible in Ridgeview. She next spoke about the Ridgeview Library and thanked former City manager McGee and Alderman Lyerly for saving the old library. She talked about how Hickory ois more diversified now and saving this building benefits the entire community. She was informed that the old library will be used as a museum. She would like for it also to be used as a resource. The building has been placed on the national Registry. She thanked Interfaith Board members. She did state that she hasn't heard much from Interfaith (Morningstar Baptist Church and Friendship Church are the board members) in Ridgeviews. She stated that preachers come and go, but the Church will always be there.

Alderman Guess talked about a policy on slumlord properties in Charlotte. He would like to take a look at what Charlotte has done with Rental Properties. Alder Patton stated that they have expanded there policy to all Rental properties. Alder Fox stated that the article was in the Charlotte Observer. Alderman Guess stated that this continues to be an issue.

General Comments: The Mayor did a very good thing when he asked that staff look to help kids in need attend the Swimming program sponsored by the City at the YMCA this summer, He stated that he would like to see this done without a stigma attached.

The Hound believes that the Mayor deserves kudos for this initiative. The Mayor should be commended for making an effort, but we still believe that we need a community pool in Hickory and the Y should not be the community pool.

Alder Patton spoke about the Hickory Community Theater and events at the Library in citing all of the things there are to do in Hickory. The Mayor added Swinging Under the Stars and Hickory Alive as successful events.