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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Richard Garrison speaks about his Mother's Passing and Grace Hospital

Richard Garrison needed an outlet to speak about his mother's death and the dealings he had with Grace Hospital, in Morganton, in relation to their billing practice in lieu of her passing. I am passing this story along to you and I hope that Grace Hospital will rethink such a practice, and its propriety, during a man's time of mourning.

After a recent experience involving Grace Hospital in Morganton, I am left with dissatisfaction and the loss both of my mom and my ability to grieve that loss. My mom was transported from our home on May 5th, 2012, to Grace Hospital where she was treated for about two hours. Mom later passed away at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

CMC sent a "regular" bill for the leftover amount due after mom was treated, and DID NOT contact the Mecklenburg County Clerk of Court, if anyone had the reason to they did, but CMC acted in a compassionate manner, as well as sending a sympathy card to me for the grief I was going through.

Grace Hospital wasn't HAPPY with over 9-thousand dollars, they really needed the additional 3-hundred dollars by whatever means they had to get it. Grace Hospital billed Medicare and State Health Plan more than $9500.00 dollars, and received over $9200.00 dollars. Without taking a breath, Grace Hospital FORGOT to send an ordinary, regular bill for what they say was an amount due of $320.31. Instead they ran down to the Burke County Clerk of Court's office and obtained a "claim" against my mom's estate.

The "official" document was delivered to me during the time I was dealing with the loss, mom had been gone only a short period then, and I was trying to organize affairs. I was forced to "STOP" thinking about the loss of my mom, and deal with this issue and when I did, I was further
surprised when an employee at Grace Hospital told me by phone that "She had placed a LIEN against the estate, and I could not close it until the balance was paid" I told her this was not true, and she was stating incorrect information. I confirmed what I told her was true with the local clerk of court the next day.

Since Grace Hospital has a 'KNOWN' reputation of 'selling out' debts to bill collecters before the ink has dried, I went to the hospital and asked to pay the balance. I realize this was not my debt; but I didn't want any additional unnecessary embarrassment. I was told by a cashier that the balance was ONLY $248.61 which is even LESS IMPORTANT than the $320.31 - OR - the loss of a mom or a dad.

I have filed this with the NC Attorney General's Consumer Protection, and I received a response from Grace Hospital by Associate Counsel David Pope, in which he states "this is our policy" The Attorney General's Office says it cannot help me, so now I ask, How can anyone, especially
a community non-profit hospital, act in such a careless and reckless manner, and then justify what they are doing as being acceptable ? On the surface, from a common sense standpoint, is this anywhere near fair, when considering that Grace Hospital is a non-profit community hospital ?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ode to the Good Ole Boys of NC

Set to the theme of the Dukes of Hazzard - Good Ol' Boys - Waylon Jennings

Just them good ol' boys,
Don't care who they harm,
Beats all you've never saw, been finaglin' with the law since the day they was born.

Helpin themselves,
Laughin' at the shills.
Someday karma might get 'em, but the law never will.

Makin' their way,
The only way they know how,
That's even a little bit more than the law will allow.

You know what it's about,
It's like milk and honey,
Sellin' their soul to the Devil for the love of money,

Just the good ol' boys,
Wouldn't change if they could,
Breakin the system like we knew eventually they would

Monday, October 29, 2012

10 questions with Cliff Moone - Candidate NC 96th District House Seat

Cliff Moone is a candidate for the North Carolina 96th District House Seat. Cliff is one of the original founding members of the Citizen's for Equity in Government and he is one of the original eight people who met at the coffee shop in Viewmont with the goal  of reaching across political and cultural lines to form an alliance to work towards making local government more responsive towards all of Hickory's Citizens. He is the leading Diplomatic member of the CEG. I first became aware of Cliff at a Hickory City Council meeting when he attended a Hickory City Council meeting in 2010 and participated in a Proclamation celebrating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Cliff continues to play a vital role in moving forward with the CEG's concerns, issues, and message for the interest of all of Hickory's citizenry and the people of the Hickory metro. In the beginning of the Hickory Hound I attempted to get local leaders to participate in this 10 Questions series so that we could get to know them better, but I met resistance, because most people are reticent to go on the record about issues in a constructive and thorough manner. I believe that they deem it risky. These questions are the same for everyone who participates in this series and there is no critique of the answers. I am very grateful to Mr. Moone for participating in this series. I believe that it helps us to get to know local leadership better. Anyone who wants to participate is free to do so. Please feel free to contact me at

1) Can you give us some background and a history of yourself? (Where were you born? What is your educational background? Why did you come to or stay in Hickory? Tell us about your professional accomplishments?   I was born in 1949 and grew up in Durham, NC, attending Charles E. Jordan HS where I was Senior Class President and President of my HS Band. I also ran track in HS was in the National Honor Society, the Student Council and Key Club. After HS, I attended UNC-CH from 1967-1971, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Education. In 1975, I earned a Masters in Education Administration, also from UNC. In 1972 I married Gaye Sawyer of Lenoir, my wife of 40 years. We have 3 grown children, David, Amy, and Sarah. After the birth of our son in 1976, I left teaching for awhile to work as an insurance agent and small businessman. I returned to teaching in 1980 after we moved to Lenoir due to my wife’s father’s failing health. I directed Hibriten High School’s In-School-Suspension Program for 3 years. 

In 1983, I responded to the call to the Christian ministry and entered seminary. I graduated from Southeastern Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1986 with a M.Div. After pastoring for 2 years in Virginia, I accepted a call to Church of the Master UCC in Hickory in 1988. I pastored there for 7 years, then decided to plant a non-denominational church here in 1995. In 2003, we merged that church New Gate Covenant with Shekinah Glory Fellowship, led by Pastor Kathy Johnson. This was, I believe, the first merger between a predominately Caucasian and predominately African-American church in Hickory. I retired from the pastoral ministry in 2005.

Prior to this, from 1996-2001, I served as the first Headmaster at Hickory Christian Academy. From 2001-2007, I also taught as an adjunct instructor in English and religion at CVCC. From 2005-2010, I was employed as the Director of Education for Sylvan Learning Center here in Hickory. After retiring in 2010, I have returned to teach part-time again at CVCC.

Hickory and Catawba County have now been our home for almost 25 years. After retiring, I decided to renew my involvement in politics and civic affairs from before entering the ministry out of a desire to give back to this community which has blessed me and my family in so many ways.

2) Tell us about the accomplishments you are proudest of achieving in your life?   What’s the most exciting thing you saw/did/experienced/were a part of in your personal life? In your professional life?   Of my accomplishments, certainly being blessed to serve as a Christian pastor and lead a sizeable number of people to faith in Christ over the years stands out the most. My marriage and raising our children are also accomplishments that are significant. Additionally, getting to use my school administration credentials and to serve almost 5 years at Hickory Christian Academy during its formative years was especially gratifying. In politics, I am proud to have served as the Chair of two County Young Democrats Clubs in my younger years and particularly to be elected as the 10th Congressional District Democratic Chair in 2011. Running for the NC House has been one of the most exciting and interesting things I have ever done. I have enjoyed every minute of being involved in the campaign, meeting so many fantastic people, and discussing how we can improve the quality of life here in Catawba County for all our citizens.

3) If I were to ask people that know you to describe you what would they say?  That I am an energetic, passionate and sincere person who enjoys collaborating with as well as leading people to solve problems and accomplish mutual goals in the groups and organizations with which I have been involved. I am very loyal, a hard worker, who loves people, learning, and talking. I am a very verbal individual, sometimes too wordy and detail oriented, but I also tend to see the larger picture and am a good listener/learner. My biggest fault in leadership roles is sometimes getting too far out in front of those I am attempting to lead.

4) How much bearing do the opinions of the people around you have on your decisions?  I am old enough(63) and comfortable enough in “my own skin” at this point in my life that I almost always seek the advice of others in making important decisions, but I do not think that I allow those opinions or views influence me unduly, particularly where a principle is at stake. I have always tended to be somewhat too trusting of other people, although I think as I have grown older, I have become more discerning in this regard.

5) Can you tell us of a professional mistake that you have made that may have had an impact on who you are today? In 2001, at HCA, the school board changed personnel and leadership. I believe I misread the style and operating philosophy of the chair of that board. This ultimately led to a series of misunderstandings and to my “clinging” stubbornly to what I then viewed as “principled” positions. While this is not the whole story, my responses to this situation were unproductive and eventually led to my termination at HCA. I actually believe that my responses, in this and several other employer-employee situations over my early career, were conditioned from my elementary school years and a willingness to rarely but definitely” stand up to those in authority” if I believed their actions were either wrong or unjust to others. I believe I have learned over the years to better judge the difference between a principled stand and a stubborn recalcitrance. Today, I know that in most of these situations, I would have been better served by not creating a “win-lose” scenario and by seeking real reconciliation and understanding with those with whom I was in conflict at the time.

6) If you were given enough money to tackle one project (think nearly unlimited) that you felt was important to the Hickory Area, what would that issue be?   Hickory and Catawba County are strategically located between Charlotte, Winston Salem Asheville and Boone. Hickory is the last city of some size on I-40 before Asheville, and with the expansions of Hwy 16 and 321, within less than 45 minutes to Charlotte. We need to find ways to utilize this strategic location to develop even greater cooperative and collaborative business, educational, and cultural relationships in this greater Charlotte metropolitan area. With the right investments in education and emerging technologies, as well as transportation corridors and means of transportation, this area is well situated to link vital industries, educational opportunities, and entrepreneurial enterprises in a way that will encourage managed growth while maintaining a small-city quality of life. This could potentially enable us to quench the “youth drain” from our area while allowing us to continue development as a “non-mountain,” more moderate climate retirement haven.

7) Let’s say there is no money available for the foreseeable future. What one project (priority) would you push as part of your agenda that can be done with little or no money? As a candidate for the legislature, the first thing that comes to mind is my proposal that the Legislature, with input from all State agencies and departments, put true “sunset” provisions in place for all governmental regulations. This would require an ongoing evaluations and necessitate that every regulation be “justified” on a recurring basis. This will hopefully avoid politicizing deregulation, re-regulation, or the establishment of new regulations and put in place standards and time-frames by which regulatory effectiveness can be appropriately assessed. I am aware there is some cost associated with implementing this proposal, but everything else I can think of will probably cost more.

8) What is your overall philosophy of the development of this area? Where would you like to see us in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?  I think I answered this question in number 6. That is probably a 10 year and 20 year vision.

9) If you could define your Personal Legacy what would you like it to be? What would you like to be remembered for? To be remembered as a person who loved God and his neighbor, who lived a life of integrity, with passion and commitment to making the world and the lives of others better because I was here. That I was loyal and trustworthy to both my family and my friends; that I was respected by those who disagreed with me; that I had the courage of my convictions and the wisdom to not have taken myself too seriously.

10) How do you define Leadership? Leadership is that quality of character which comes from the willingness of a person to take personal responsibility: for one’s beliefs, one’s words, and one’s actions. Thus, leadership requires decision and action in concert with others or at times over against them and the prevailing view of the moment. Leaders may lead from in front or from behind, but the defining feature of leadership is that if one is leading, others choose to follow.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- October 28, 2012

Food Stamp Nation: What a Modern Day Bread Line Looks Like (Infographic) - - Mac Slavo - October 25th, 2012

Russian General: “The USSR Collapsed and the Same Fate Has Been Prepared for the USA” - - Mac Slavo - October 2nd, 2012

Army Suicides This Year Exceed 2012 Combat Deaths in Afghanistan - - Patrick Burke - October 23, 2012 - The number of suicides among U.S. Army active duty and reserve personnel in 2012 is higher than the total combined military fatalities from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan over the same timeframe.                         Even without Army data for October, the number of deaths believed to be suicides among U.S. Army personnel from January through September still surpass the combined military combat deaths in Afghanistan from January up to October 22.                     In 2012, there have been a total of 247 suspected suicides among Army active and reserve duty personnel. Of those, 158 have been confirmed as suicides and 89 remain under investigation.                    According to the Afghanistan Index database maintained by the Brookings Institution, there have been 222 combined military deaths in 2012 among active and reserve components from “hostile causes,” as of Sept. 28...

Will Frustrated Homeowners And Armed Posses Take Matters Into Their Own Hands As Home Invasions Rise? - The End of the American Dream Blog - Michael - October 22nd, 2012 - Violent crime is on the rise in the United States, and many Americans are totally fed up.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of household burglaries rose by 14 percent last year, and the overall rate of violent crime in the United States increased by 18 percent during 2011.  Based on what we have seen so far this year, we will almost certainly see another huge increase once the statistics for 2012 are released.  All over the country criminals are becoming bolder.  Meanwhile, police budgets are being slashed from coast to coast.  Things have gotten so bad in some communities that police are openly admitting that crime is completely and totally out of control.  For example, police in Detroit recently handed out flyers with this message: "Enter Detroit at your own risk".  Sadly, you can't even escape the crime and the violence by staying in your own home these days.  Home invasions are becoming increasingly common, and many police departments seem powerless to stop them.  If many of the poorer areas of America today, if you are a victim of a home invasion you will be really lucky to get a police officer to show up a couple of hours later to fill out a report.  A lot of frustrated home owners have had enough and have started to arm themselves to the teeth.  Some have even begun to form armed posses to patrol their own neighborhoods.  We are watching America change right in front of our eyes, and it is frightening to think about what is coming next...

Will The Bottom Fall Out? 15 Signs That Layoffs And Job Losses Are Skyrocketing
-  The economic Collapse Blog
- If you still have a good job, you might want to hold on to it very tightly because there are a whole bunch of signs that unemployment in the United States is about to start getting worse again.  Over the past several weeks, a substantial number of large corporations have announced disappointing earnings for the third quarter.  Many of those large corporations are also loaded up with huge amounts of debt.  So what is the solution?  Well, the favorite solution on Wall Street these days seems to be to lay off workers.  In fact, it is almost turning into a feeding frenzy.  Since September 1st, we have seen more job cuts announced than during any other two month period since the start of 2010.  These announcements represent future layoffs and job losses which are not even showing up in the unemployment numbers yet.  So needless to say, things don't look very promising for the end of 2012 or for the beginning of 2013.  If this race to eliminate jobs becomes a stampede, will we see the bottom fall out of the employment market?                           If you are concerned about whether or not you will still have a job 12 months from now, you might find the numbers posted below to be quite alarming.  We have not seen layoff announcements come this fast and this furious since the gloomy days of the last recession....

GDP - The Warning Signs From Exports - Street Talk Live - Lance Roberts - October 27, 2012 - Over the past several months we have been discussing that this is no longer your "father's economy."  What we have meant by this is the economic environment today is vastly different than that which most of our parents grew up in.  We recently discussed in "Debt: Driving Our Economy Since 1980" that: "From the 1950’s through the late 1970’s...the U.S. was the manufacturing and production powerhouse of the entire global economy post the wide spread devastation of Europe, Germany and Japan during WWII.  The rebuilding of Europe and Japan, combined with the years of pent up demand for goods domestically, led to a strongly growing economy and increased personal savings.  However, beginning in 1980 the world changed.  The development of communications shrank the global marketplace while the rise of technology allowed the U.S. to embark upon a massive shift to export manufacturing to the lowest cost provider in order to import cheaper goods."             The importance of this shift in the U.S. from away from being the epicenter of global production and manufacturing to a service and finance based economy should not be overlooked.  This transition is responsible for the issues that are impeding economic growth in the U.S. today from structural unemployment, declining wage growth and lower economic prosperity.  The four-panel chart below gives you a visualization of this transition showing the year-over-year change in the data, with the exception of the personal savings rate which is linear, prior and post-1980... 

Derivative Meltdown and Dollar Collapse - Daily Business Report James Hall - October 17, 2012

The frightening prospects from a derivative meltdown, well known for years, seem to deepen with every measure to prop up a failing international financial system. The essay Greed is Good, but Derivatives are Better, characterizes the gamble game in this fashion:
"The elegance of derivatives is that the rules that defy nature are not involved in intangible swaps. The basic value in the payment from the risk is always dumped on the back of the taxpayer. Ponzi schemes are legal when government croupiers spin loaded balls on their fudged roulette tables."
Under conventional international trading settlement, the world reserve currency is the Dollar. The loss of confidence in the Federal Reserve System causes a corresponding decline in value in U. S Treasury obligations. Add into this risk equation, derivative instruments that are deadly threats that can well destroy national currencies. One such response to this unchecked danger can be found in a Bloomberg Businessweek perceptive article, A Shortage of Bonds to Back Derivatives Bets, makes a stark forecast.
"Starting next year, new rules will force banks, hedge funds, and other traders to back up more of their bets in the $648 trillion derivatives market by posting collateral. While the rules are designed to prevent another financial meltdown, a shortage of Treasury bonds and other top-rated debt to use as collateral may undermine the effort to make the system safer."
However, what happens when buyers of Treasury notes abandon the reoccurring cycle of rollover debt and stop buying new T-Bonds? Take the Chinese example as a template for things to come. China's yuan hits record high amid US pressure, "The Yuan touched an intraday high of nearly 6.2640 to $1.0, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System, marking the highest level since 1994 when the country launched its modern foreign exchange market."

Friday, October 26, 2012

10 questions with Dr. Joseph Inglefield - Candidate NC 42nd District Senate Seat 2012 - Candidate for Hickory Mayor 2013

Dr. Joseph (Jody) Inglefield is a candidate for the North Carolina 42nd District Senate Seat. He has become a friend over the last 4 years and is one of the original mailing list members of the Hickory Hound. He sent me letters of support and encouragement from the beginning. Dr. Inglefield took a leading role in bringing attention to the loss of the Public Swimming Pools here in Hickory that we believe are important parts of the fabric of the lower socio-economic communities. He and his wife Rebecca are fellow participants in the Citizens for Equity in Government. In the beginning of the Hickory Hound I attempted to get local leaders to participate in this 10 Questions series so that we could get to know them better, but I met resistance, because most people are reticent to go on the record about issues in a constructive and thorough manner. I believe that they deem it risky. These questions are the same for everyone who participates in this series and there is no critique of the answers. I am very grateful to Dr. Inglefield for participating in this series. Anyone who wants to participate is free to do so. Please feel free to contact me at
1) Can you give us some background and a history of yourself? (Where were you born? What is your educational background? Why did you come to or stay in Hickory? Tell us about your professional accomplishments?  My family came from England, Germany, and Wales to Pittsburg, Pa. where both my parents were born in Duquesne, Pa. My paternal grandfather was a bricklayer and maternal grandfather a machinist. My paternal grandmother was a pianist, organist and kindergarten teacher. My parents were high school sweethearts, married before my father went to medical school, the first male college graduate in our family.

I was born in Rochester, NY. where my father was in school, and subsequently he served in the US Army, taking us all over the country: Texas, Hawaii, New Mexico. We ended up in Danville, Pa., where my father was a pediatrician at Geisinger Medical Center, for most of my elementary and junior high school years. As the oldest brother of six, we moved to Arlington, Va. where I began high school. I was a competitive swimmer from age eight onward, state champion in several events in Pennsylvania YMCA swimming. Swimming and then water polo were big parts of my life and still are important to me. 

I attended Washington-Lee high school in Arlington, then Langley High School (yes, right next to the CIA) in McLean, finishing my high school years at St. Albans School on the National Cathedral grounds in Washington, DC. St. Albans was an incredible experience for me, changing my life and leading me in directions I would only later realize were so important. I was surrounded by politics, watching the Watergate hearings, having classes with sons and daughters of Congress members. Chapel every morning, football and swim practices in the afternoon all shaped my discipline and work ethic. The academic challenges and competition prepared me for the future. I thrived in that place, was elected Senior class president, despite starting as a junior, leading to a nomination for the Morehead-Cain scholarship to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Before classes started freshman year I met my future wife Rebecca thanks to a water polo friend who had met her roommate. I fell in love with her and North Carolina. 

At UNC, I swam for the varsity team and was an NCAA championship qualifier. I started the UNC water polo club, which is still active. Now my son Thacher plays as a junior. As a Morehead-Cain Scholar I spent a summer with the police department in Charlotte, getting an inside look at the criminal justice system. I was a history major with a special interest in European and American history. My pre-medical studies helped me receive early admission to Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, part of Virginia Commonwealth University. It was a great place to be a medical student and I decided to head to San Antonio Texas for my Pediatric and Allergy training. 

In Texas, I felt at home with the Arneson family; Rebecca's mother had grown up in San Antonio, with relatives at hand, the hard work whisked by for 5 years. The Riverwalk was a reminder of the Works Projects Administration, and its importance to our nation with projects like this and the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC. The Arneson River Theatre is named for Rebecca's grandfather. Rebecca switched from writing code for computers to law school where she excelled at St. Mary's University, making law review, and being offered a clerkship with a federal judge in Norfolk, Va. I was then able to pass the tests and verbal exam to be double boarded in Pediatrics and Allergy and Immunology. 

Soon after we moved to Virginia, Dr. Millie Hancock called with an offer to take over her practice. Shortly after my visit with her in Hickory, Dr. Hancock called to see if I could work the next day for her because her husband had suffered a heart attack. I drove through the night to arrive and see patients the next morning. It is rare to get to "test drive" a medical practice, which is what happened, and I was convinced this was the right place to move. Rebecca was offered a position in Statesville so we moved to her home town to begin our work. After ten years commuting to Hickory, we decided to move and built our home in Hickory. Son Thacher started first grade at Viewmont elementary; daughter Park preschool at the new YMCA child care center. 

My practice has grown from three employees to twenty which has allowed the Hickory Allergy Asthma Sinus Clinic and Cough Center to be one of the best known practices in the area. We do our best to offer the personalized care our patients and their families deserve. 

2) Tell us about the accomplishments you are proudest of achieving in your life? The development of my practice into one that is respected and one of the most influential in the Southeast USA. The use and development of "Rush Immunotherapy" in our practice makes us unique and far ahead in terms of patient satisfaction. "Rush" allows a patient to reach a safe and effective level of treatment for their allergies faster than traditional methods. We are able to innovate and be quick to change our approaches as newer medications and technology become available. We have an in-office CT scanner for sinuses that is fully credentialed, and I believe we are the only allergy practice in NC that has this to offer. 

What’s the most exciting thing you saw/did/experienced/were a part of in your personal life?
Playing water polo in the FINA World Championships in 2004, 2006, 2010(Silver medal) and 2012. Beating the UNC club team at their own tournament in 2011. Winning Master's national championship in our age-group in 2011 and 2008, with KAOS our club team made up of players from all over the country and world. Getting to swim at Greensboro's Master's swimming national championship this year with friends and a teammate from college on two relays that placed 6th in the country. Learning to ski two years ago, great challenge and exercise.

In your professional life?
Presenting papers on the use of "Rush Immunotherapy" at national meetings and being elected as governor of the South East region, for the state and local allergy societies(RSLs). Serving as President of the NC Allergy society for many years. 

Being called and elected to Session at my church, Northminster Presbyterian Church, and as the Clerk of Session. It was a very important opportunity that I will value in many ways both spiritually and in all the decisions I make as time moves forward. Attending bible study weekly, worshipping at church and Sunday school have helped me strengthen my beliefs and direction in life.

3) If I were to ask people that know you to describe you what would they say?
"He's a fun guy"

4) How much bearing do the opinions of the people around you have on your decisions?
I am a listener, so what other people say and think are very important to me and are part of my decision making process. I value opinions and look for guidance from others. I like to think carefully throughout the process of making a decision, by gathering data, brainstorming with others , and then I try to make the best decision with the information that is available.

5) Can you tell us of a professional mistake that you have made that may have had an impact on who you are today?  I have been fortunate and have not had any major devastating error. It is a constant worry and takes vigilance on a minute to minute basis to avoid. Minor errors have happened but by grace only, nothing became a terrible outcome. 

Does it still bother you? Yes, but I don't let this stop me or paralyze me. I come to grips with all errors by looking for the reasons, so the problem won't happen again. Most errors or irritations are completely my own fault, and I can spend time to make things better or more precisely change the system that resulted in the error. Being flexible and learning from mistakes helps prevent future problems. Questioning why we do things and the impact of changing those old habits or processes is how I try to improve and guard against errors.

6) If you were given enough money to tackle one project (think nearly unlimited) that you felt was important to the Hickory Area, what would that issue be? Make things more fun! Obesity, and all the reasons it happens, and the way a community with the right approach could make a difference for most people through good public health initiatives, healthy eating, education, and recreation. For me a big part of this would be swimming and aquatics which can be a lifetime activity. I want to prevent all drowning, and give everyone the pleasure of swimming and playing safely in water. Sustainable programming for the prevention of disease and maintenance of health is important to the local economy and will attract jobs. Public transportation, wide sidewalks, safe cycling, light rail to Charlotte, Raleigh and Asheville would be a part of the plan to get out and walk more. It has to be fun to be sustainable.

7) Let’s say there is no money available for the foreseeable future. What one project (priority) would you push as part of your agenda that can be done with little or no money?
Provide fun and better programming for the facilities we already possess. Collaborate with the resources we have to make the most of what is here like the Recreation department, YMCA, CVCC, and LRU.

8) What is your overall philosophy of the development of this area? Where would you like to see us in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
(5 years) - More jobs! due to a resurgence of manufacturing in the area. July 2012 we had only 65,621 employed people in Catawba county, 2005 we had 72,470 after the dot com recovery, 2000 we had 78514 at our boom peak, and 1990 we had 68829. We have fewer jobs now than 22 years ago!! Who has been in office from our area? This is a disgrace and lack of leadership. I don't think this a Republican or Democratic issue, this is a lack of leadership on behalf of the citizens of Catawba county. 

(10 years) - Better paying high skill jobs that require less manual, repetitive, mind-dulling labor but involve technical skills and thinking to solve problems and make things work. Regional airlines at our airport. Why not Southwest, it would draw everyone here from Charlotte. 

(20 years) - Mature community with a wealth of life-supporting jobs, spectacular recreation facilities, and equality with level playing field for all the kids and families. Young people wanting to stay and raise their families here.

9) If you could define your Personal Legacy what would you like it to be?
To leave things better than I found them.
What would you like to be remembered for?
That I was a good doctor, I had good friends and family, that I cared and stood up for all people.

10) How do you define Leadership?
Leadership is like respect, it needs to be earned. You need to listen, get the best information you can, surround yourself with smart, talented people and with their help, show up and make a difference. Be willing to be courageous, and expect to be attacked, but be willing to be persistent and uncompromising of your true values. Questioning and speaking up when it is hard to do is a necessity of good leadership. Being ready to admit your own mistakes and not blaming others will engender loyalty and respect of those who follow you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cliff Moone's Campaign Podcasts

Cliff Moone Campaign Podcast Ep 1 - First Campaign podcast for the Cliff Moone for NC House 96

Cliff Moone Campaign Podcast Ep 2 - Cliff Moone Campaign Podcast- Who is Cliff Moone?

Cliff Moone Campaign Podcast Ep 3 - "Coercive Surveys"

Cliff Moone Campaign Podcast Ep 4 - What type of future do we want for the 96th district?

Cliff Moone Campaign Podcast Ep 5 - The Bottom line of a Land Deal

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I've been sick and needed to slow down - The Election

Got the sinus funk like so many others. Thought I could ward it off, but in the end wasn't able to. Really felt rough yesterday. Tried to rest the last couple of days... probably slept 13 hours yesterday. Feeling better today. Going to go drink some coffee and try and get back at it.

Not much to report heading into the election. On the Presidential ticket I will be supporting Romney. Not enthralled with many of his policies, but we know what we are getting with Obama, which is four more years of nothing. The man doesn't understand leadership. The man doesn't understand economics.

For Governor, I will take Pat McCrory. He should have been Governor four years ago. He was the Mayor of Charlotte when it was booming. I also think it is time that we have a Governor from the Western side of North Carolina, who will look out for some western interests instead of sending everything down east. How many times has Bev Purdue ventured to this side of the state. How many times did her predecessors come this way. It is time for a change.

I will be voting for Congressman McHenry, he is my representative, but it is insane the way that these congressional districts are drawn here in Hickory. Mr. McHenry has voted the way that I would on most every issue. I just hope that he will take a look at getting us out of Afghanistan and the Middle East, because those are untenable situations. And it is time to reel the Mega-Banks and Wall Street in because they do not represent our nations interests and/or sovereignty.

Where I will break from the Republicans is on the local level. I have gotten to know Jody Inglefield and Cliff Moone and they are men of principle and integrity. They aren't some kind of bug eyed Liberals. They are actually quite conservative when it comes to fiscal policy, but folks we have to have growth. We have to invest in the future.

I haven't heard much about Mr. Wells policies and I haven't even really seen him run any sort of campaign. As for Mr. Allran, if you are going to spend half your life doing something, shouldn't you have a record of accomplishments to stand on? It is time for a reality check here in our area. We have been taken for granted that the Republican will automatically be elected for too long, especially when the Republican isn't doing anything to support the growth of the people in our area.

I am a proud Constitutional Republican - Over and Out!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- October 21, 2012

U.S. News: Middle-Class Decline Saps the Future - Newsmax - John Morgan - October 18, 2012 -  The decline of the middle class is fundamentally reshaping the U.S. economy, with unwanted repercussions for higher education, government and the future, according to an analysis by U.S. News & World Report.                     Even the middle class’s health has suffered, U.S. News said.             “Their economic future isn’t very bright,” said Timothy Smeeding, director of a poverty research center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Wages and income are flat. Transportation, childcare costs and healthcare costs are going up, and your income isn’t.”                   The definition of “middle class” varies. The New York Times reported that the Tax Policy Center placed the median household income at $42,000 in 2011, while the Census Bureau tagged it at $50,000.                  “These people live on earnings,” Smeeding said. “They’re working on not great wages and their jobs are threatened. They don’t see any hope in the future of things getting better.”                      A recent survey of self-described middle-class adults by the Pew Research Center found 85 percent of them believed it was more difficult now than a decade ago to maintain their standard of living. Most of them (62 percent) said “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54 percent said banks and financial institutions were to blame, 47 percent blamed large corporations and 34 percent blamed the Obama administration.                          The middle class shrank from 61 percent of the population in 1971 to 51 percent by 2011, the Pew report said. U.S. News said the income declines have led to higher levels of household debt from expenditures such as college.

Ahead of Election, Obama Stops Releasing ‘Stimulus’ Reports
- The Weekly Standard - JEFFREY H. ANDERSON - October 19, 2012
- The $831,000,000,000 economic “stimulus” that President Obama spearheaded and signed into law requires his administration to release quarterly reports on its effects. But “the most transparent administration in the history of our country” is now four reports behind schedule and has so far not released any reports whatsoever in 2012. Its most recent quarterly report is for the quarter than ended on June 30, 2011....                     Section 1513 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “stimulus”) explicitly states, “In consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers shall submit quarterly reports to the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives that detail the impact of programs funded through covered funds on employment, estimated economic growth, and other key economic indicators.”...                 In other words, the Obama administration is required by law to submit quarterly reports on the “stimulus” through the third quarter of 2013.  Yet the administration has apparently found it more convenient to stop after the second quarter of 2011 — more than two years early.  Or perhaps it has just decided to put the release of these reports on hold until after the election.  Either way, the Obama administration is now in violation of the president’s most prominent piece of legislation this side of Obamacare.

Obama: ‘We Got Back Every Dime’ of Bailout; CBO: Bailout Will Lose $24 Billion - CNS News - Matt Cover - October 15, 2012 - President Barack Obama said on Thursday that “we got back every dime we used to rescue the financial system."                    According to the Congressional Budget Office, however, the government will lose about $24 billion on the bailout.                    “We got back every dime we used to rescue the financial system, but we also passed a historic law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good,” Obama said in Miami Thursday.                 The Congressional Budget Office--based on figures from Obama’s own Office of Management and Budget---gives a different assessment.                  "The cost to the federal government of the TARP’s transactions (also referred to as the subsidy cost), including grants for mortgage programs that have not yet been made, will amount to $24 billion,” said the CBO report, which was released on the same day Obama spoke.

Report: Welfare government’s single largest budget item in FY 2011 at approx. $1.03 trillion  - The Daily Caller - Caroline May - October 18, 2012 - The government spent approximately $1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone — a price tag that makes welfare that year the government’s largest expenditure, according to new data released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.                      The total sum taxpayers spent on federal welfare programs was derived from a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report on federal welfare spending — which topped out at $745.84 billion for fiscal year 2011 — combined with an analysis from the Republican Senate Budget Committee staff of state spending on federal welfare programs (based on “The Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government Finance”), which reached $282.7 billion in fiscal year 2011.                     The data excludes spending on Social Security, Medicare, means-tested health care for veterans without service-connected disabilities, and the means-tested veterans pension program.               According to the CRS report, which focused solely on federal spending for federal welfare programs, spending on federal welfare programs increased $563.413 billion in fiscal year 2008 to $745.84 billion in fiscal year 2011 — a 32 percent increase.

55 Facts About The Debt And U.S. Government Finances That Every American Voter Should Know -  The Economic Collapse Blog - The future of the United States of America is being systematically destroyed by our politicians, but unfortunately most Americans don't really grasp exactly what is happening. 30 years ago, our national debt had just crossed the one trillion dollar mark. Just recently, it crossed the 16 trillion dollar mark. Prior to every election, politicians from both parties swear up and down that they will do something about our exploding debt, but it never happens. Once again this year, our politicians are making all kinds of grand promises about getting U.S. government finances under control. But they are also promising all kinds of new plans and programs which are going to cost a lot more money on top of what we are already spending. For the average American, all of this can be incredibly confusing. That is why I have put together a list of facts about the debt and U.S. government finances below. These are things that every voter should know. The federal government is stealing more than a trillion dollars a year from our children and our grandchildren, and they are spending that money in some of the most foolish ways that you could ever imagine. We have accumulated the largest mountain of debt in the history of the world, but our politicians just can't help themselves - they appear to be absolutely addicted to spending money. If we continue on the path that we are currently on, our entire financial system and our entire economy will be destroyed by all of this debt. Time is running out and urgent action is needed to address this crisis...

There Is A Staggering Amount Of Feces In Our Food - The End of the American Dream Blog - Michael Snyder - October 15th, 2012 - Most Americans are eating significant amounts of feces on a regular basis without even realizing it.  You might not mind this, but most people out there would not willingly eat feces if they could avoid it.  Not only is it disgusting, but feces is also a breeding ground for all kinds of dangerous diseases.  Unfortunately, as a result of the never ending quest to cut prices even lower more of our food is being imported from overseas than ever before.  Many of those countries do not have the same health standards that we do in the United States.  In fact, many farmers in those countries actually feed feces to their fish and to their animals since it is so inexpensive.  If you are eating seafood that was imported from Asia, there is a very good chance that it was raised on pig feces.  Not only that, the truth is that a lot of the poultry that comes from Southeast Asia is also raised on pig feces.  The FDA has rejected thousands of food shipments from Asia in recent years due to fecal contamination, but the FDA inspects less than 3 percent of all imported food.  So what are we to conclude about the other 97 percent of all food imports that the FDA did not inspect?                   A recent Bloomberg article entitled "Asian Seafood Raised on Pig Feces Approved for U.S. Consumers" explained that much of the seafood that is imported to the United States from Asia is actually raised on pig feces.               A lot of people were grossed out by that article, but there have been no calls for a congressional investigation.  There have been no calls to cut off food imports from Asia.  Most people will forget about all of this in a few weeks and will continue to consume large amounts of imported crap.                    The Bloomberg article also talked about the fact that less than 3 percent of all imported food is inspected by the FDA...

Brookings Institute - Brookings Institute On Looming Fiscal Cliff: Little Room for Optimism
- Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis - October 18, 2012


Jim Rogers: Watch out for 2013-14 - We can't avoid Recession - October 20, 2012        

Ron Paul: The Real Bear Market Started in 2000


Saturday, October 20, 2012

North Carolina Representative Walter Jones has common sense

I like Walter Jones. I support Walter Jones. He thinks we need to pull back from the Middle East and Afghanistan. I don't think most people on either side think about why or why we shouldn't be over there any more. If you don't have a clear thought as to why we should be there, then it is time to get out of there. We can't afford this any more. We are broke. Which part of that are people having a hard time understanding.

We are making the same mistakes that the Soviets made in Afghanistand. We don't need World War 3. I have a feeling that it would eventually turn nuclear in some form or fashion. Are you prepared for that?

Max Keiser talks about the Banking Mafia that rules the World

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of October 16, 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 10/16/2012 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.

All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link:  City Council Agenda - October 16, 2012 - (14MB Document)

Invocation by Rev. Jeff Stewart, Pastor Java Journey Coffee House Ministry

Special Presentations
(1:35) Presentation of the 2012 Beautification Awards by Community Appearance Commission Chair, Leroy Harris - 1) Colette Dowell - 318 3rd St SE   2) The Village Corner - 121 NC 127 South   3) Gavin Mitchell - 15 2nd Ave NW  4) Hickory High School  5) Zhara Baker Playground  6) Morningstar Baptist Church   7) Adelaide Shuford Award - Paul Ohle - the corner of 14th St NE & 8th St Dr NE

Citizens Requesting to be Heard about Items on the Agenda

*** After the Special Presentation, the Mayor was supposed to ask if anyone had anything they wanted to say about Items on the Agenda. He did not and it was his proposal from the last City Council meeting and it was passed with Unanimous Consent and it was not adhered to. The Hickory Daily Record gave the Mayor kudos for the proposal and then at the subsequent meeting it is completely dismissed and I don't know if they are even aware of this. 

During an item that was Removed from the Consent Agenda, the Mayor then made a motion to allow people to come forward about items on the agenda.  I don't think people are comfortable with "fly by the seat of your pants" protocols. We don't need arbitrary rules. The above needs to be placed on the Agenda if it to be a part of the meeting. We need people to do what they say they are going to do.

Proposal introduced by the Mayor outside of the constructs of the agenda 
Newsletter about the City Council meeting of October 2, 2012 - Addendum on the CEG proposals - Proposal introduced by the Mayor outside of the constructs of the agenda

Consent Agenda:
A. Approval of proclamation for Toastmasters Week, October 29 through November 4, 2012.

B. Approval of proclamation for Pinecrest Retirement Day, October 20, 2012

C. Community Appearance Commission request for approval of a Landscape Grant for nonresidential property owned by Hollar Hosiery Landlord LLC located at 882 Highland Avenue SE in the amount of $2,500. - The applicant owns the property located at 882 Highland Avenue SE, which is currently being redeveloped into a mixed-use facility. The proposed site and landscape renovations include mulching and planting of juniper along the embankment adjacent to the railway. The overall project will also include the installation of additional landscaping materials as required by the City’s Land Development Code for redevelopment projects. The applicant has provided two bids for the proposed eligible improvements, which total $7,889 and $7,200; both quotes are greater than $5,000 therefore the applicant qualifies for the full grant of $2,500.

D. Community Appearance Commission requests approval of a Landscape Grant for nonresidential property owned by The Salvation Army located at 248 and 320 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard SE, in the amount of $2,500. - The applicant owns the properties at 248 and 320 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard SE, which are part of The Salvation Army’s campus. The intention of the proposal is to create an entrance feature that signifies the existence of the campus, and which also works to improve the appearance of the corridor. The applicant has provided two bids for the proposed improvements, which total $13,088 and $5,280, both bids are greater than $5,000 therefore the applicant qualifies for the full grant of $2,500.

E. (15:50) Community Appearance Commission requests approval of an Appearance Grant for nonresidential property owned by the Joe Jackson Mitchell Estate located at 808 Old Lenoir Road, NW, in the amount of $5,000. - The proposal involves the replacement of the doors and windows of a vacant building located at 808 Old Lenoir Road NW. The applicant has two bids for the improvements, which total $11,080.47 and $14,425, both quotes exceed $10,000; therefore the proposal qualifies for the full $5,000 grant. Item pulled from the Consent Agenda. Alderman Guess had the item removed - asked if it would have not better qualified for a Vacant Building Grant. Brian Frazier stated that they could look into tweaking this, but he isn't sure it fits the criteria - size and square footage -- for the vacant building program.  Gavin Mitchell addressed the Council about questions as to whether he had an intended use for the property. He stated that he did not. Council votes 7-0 Unanimous Consent on this issue. 

The Hound has been told that Mr. Mitchell constantly applies for grants and many times is awarded them. The rule should be no more than one grant be given to an entity over a specific period of time and that in my opinion should be 5 years.  Mr. Mitchell talked about his track record. He said that he needed windows to make the property habitable/marketable.  The Mayor talked about potential of the property. Isn't this picking winners and losers again? Also for the Council to arbitrarily have a dialogue with Mr. Mitchell after several times stating that they would not do so raises a lot of questions.  Are there going to now be back and forth discussions between the Public and the Council going forward. I think that is a good thing if it is done across the board. Inquiring minds want to know?

F. Approval of closing Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Branch Library at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2012 for a training workshop. - Request to allow both locations of Hickory Public Library to close at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2012 so full time and part time staff can participate in an afternoon workshop on customer service, ethics, and security issues. The training will be conducted by Lori Special of the State Library of North Carolina, Yaidee Fox, Assistant to the City Manager, and a representative of the Hickory Police Department.

G. Approval of Lease Agreement and Aviation Fuels Contract with Eastern Aviation Fuels Inc. (EAF) as the Hickory Regional Airport’s supplier of aviation fuels. - Under the proposed contracts, Eastern Aviation Fuels, Inc. will supply the Airport’s requirement of JetA and AvGas and lease to the Airport two refueler trucks for a period of five (5) years. The cost of JetA fuel is to be based on the previous week’s average of the published Platt’s US Gulf Coast Pipeline Mean average (“Plats Index”) plus a differential, while the cost of AvGas will be Eastern’s posted dealer price. The Airport will have the option to purchase the fuel trucks at the end of the five year term.

H. Adoption of the Municipal Records and Disposition Schedule in accordance with the provision of Chapters 121 and 132 of the General Statues of North Carolina regarding public records. - It has been the practice of the City of Hickory to adopt the Municipal Records and Retention Schedule in order for the City to legally and properly dispose of records pertaining to the terms of the schedule. The North Carolina Municipal Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, prepared by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, has been updated in accordance with the provisions of Chapters 121 and 132 of the North Carolina General Statues. This schedule was last updated and approved by City Council on June 16, 2009.

I. Approval of resolution of support for the creation of the Lovelady Rescue District. - Request from Caldwell County Board of Commissioners that the City of Hickory, Town of Granite Falls, and the Town of Rhodhiss (all jurisdictions with corporate limits in southern Caldwell County) approve resolutions of support for the creation of the Lovelady Rescue District in southern Caldwell County. The creation of the Lovelady Rescue Service District would allow revenue that is raised in the District to be returned directly back to the Lovelady Rescue Squad. The tax rate for the Lovelady Rescue District would remain at the current $0.0085, so taxpayers would not see a change in their current tax rate. The City of Hickory, Town of Granite Falls, and the Town of Rhodhiss all have corporate limits within the proposed Lovelady Rescue District. With that being the case, NCGS 153A-302 (a)(1) requires that these jurisdictions approve Resolutions of Support.

J. 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 October 4, 2012:
Martha & Frederick Boston, 123 10th Avenue SE, 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 their home. Assistance would be in the form of a 3% interest loan for a 5 year period. Funds are budgeted for this item through the City of Hickory’s Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2010 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

K. Budget Ordinance Amendments
1. To budget $105 of Library donations from several donors in the Library Books line item ($80) and in the Audio Visual line item ($25).

2. To budget a $1,000 donation to the Hickory Kiwanis Foundation in the Parks and Recreation Non-Asset Inventory line item. This donation is for the purchase of an additional piece of playground equipment for the Zahra Baker All Children's Playground.

3. To budget a $2,978 insurance claim check from Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company in the Police Department Maintenance and Repair of Equipment line item. This insurance claim check is payment for lightening damage to the Police Department Radio System.

4. To appropriate $2,833 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Street Division Contracted Services line item. $2,833 represents a portion of the Carolina Investment Fund donation that rolled into General Fund Balance. This appropriation is necessary to fund the relocation of a Duke Energy Pole that is in the way of the installation of new guard rail along Grace Chapel Road for the US 321S to Grace Chapel Road Connector. The municipal agreement between the NCDOT and the City states that NCDOT will fund building of the road project but the City will be responsible for relocation of utilities. The Duke Energy pole in conflict is a public utility and this one pole was not known to be a conflict until detail field surveying and construction layout was performed. Duke Energy will actually relocate the pole.

New Business - Public Hearing
(26:45) - 1. Petition No. 12-01, Rezoning of the property of MRCC Properties, LLC located at 205 29th Avenue NE from Medium Density Residential (R-2) to Office and Institutional (OI) - This public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on October 5, 2012 and October 12, 2012. Notices were mailed to adjoining property owners on October 1, 2012. The rezoning was considered by the Hickory Regional Planning Commission on September 26, 2012, at which time they adopted a statement confirming the petition’s consistency with Hickory by Choice 2030, and unanimously voted to forward a recommendation of approval to the Hickory City Council. Staff concurs with the findings and recommendation of the Planning Commission. Brian Frazier presentation.

Mr. Frazier and the Mayor talked about how the O&I designation has helped the immediately adjacent properties in the area. Mr. Frazier said they have had several properties inquire about the O&I designation. The Council gave unanimous consent.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1.  (33:00) Award bid to Midstate Contractors, Inc., in the amount of $35,880 for paving in the 400 block of South Center Street, a new parking lot to serve the Old Ridgeview Library. - City Staff is partnering with Interfaith to refurbish the Old Ridgeview Library. City Staff evaluated the existing off-road parking conditions on and near the 400 block of South Center Street in the vicinity of the Old Ridgeview Library and determined a sufficient need to warrant construction of a new parking lot on two City-owned lots along South Center Street. Staff recommends Midstate Contractors, Inc., be awarded the bid in the amount of $35,880 for construction of a new parking lot to serve the Old Ridgeview Library in the 400 block of South Center Street. Chuck Hanson presentation.

Alder Fox had several questions in relation to the parking lot and the building. She asked bout the trees and the open space as it now exists. Landscaping will be in house labor. This building will be used as a museum and re-creation of the old library.  Alder Patton asked about the time frame on construction.  Manager Berry stated that there currently isn't one. Alderman Lail asked about Lighting and was told by Mr. Hanson there would be lighting. Alder Fox's stated that she wanted to be on the record as stating that the old library should have been kept on the original site. Old buildings lose structural and historical integrity when they are moved. The Council gave unanimous consent.

2. (45:18) Community Appearance Commission request approval of an Appearance Grant for non-residential property owned by Hollar Hosiery Landlord LLC located at 883 Highland Avenue SE in the amount of $10,000. - The proposal involves the renovation of the existing building. The proposed renovations include the following: 1) cleaning and repainting of exterior brick work, 2) new exterior doors/storefront, 3) repair and repainting of window frames, 4) replacement and glazing of window frames, 5) replacement of exterior retaining walls, loading docks and exterior concrete and 6) renovation of dilapidated connector building into a plaza area. The applicants have provided two bids for the improvements, which both amount to approximately $225,000. The applicant has requested a grant in the amount of $10,000 which is twice the amount normally provided by Appearance Grants. The Community Appearance Commission finds the project is of significant economic scale and exceptional architectural merit and unanimously recommends that City Council provide grant funding in the amount of $10,000. In the event that City Council does not approve this recommendation, they would like City Council to consider funding the grant at the standard $5,000.

Brian Frazier presentation. There were questions of precedent related to granting $10,000 instead of $5,000.  It was stated that the Community Appearance Commission's annual budget is $55,000. The Assessed value of this building will be $3.5 million. This has been done on one other occasion. Mr. Frazier stated that it was not of this magnitude. The Council gave unanimous consent.

The Hound thinks this is an excellent project, but what kind of precedent is being set by giving the multiple awards to an investor. Just like the situation above with Mr. Mitchell. We should not be giving multiple grants or arbitrarily granting certain projects more money than others.

3. (50:50) Approval of the Cooperative Agreement with US Environmental Protection Agency and the acceptance of two Community-wide Brownfield Assessments Grants. - The City of Hickory applied for two Community-wide Brownfield Assessment Grants from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in November of 2011. These grants can be used to assess environmental contamination at identified Brownfield sites, which are defined as vacant or under-utilized commercial and industrial properties whose redevelopment is hindered by either real or perceived environmental contamination. In May 2012 the City of Hickory received notice that it had been selected to receive two $200,000 grants to assess petroleum and hazardous materials contamination at Brownfield sites. The total amount of funding is $400,000. There is no required city match. The funds received from EPA will be used to perform Phase I and II environmental site assessments along with cleanup and redevelopment planning at selected sites. Sites will be selected with input from staff, citizens, local developers, and the City’s Brownfield Advisory Group. The grant will last from October 2012 through September 2015.

Brian Frazier presentation. He stated that the city is batting 500 the projects that have been awarded these grants. He pointed to Hollar Hosiery, Lyerly Mill, Moretz Mill, Piedmont Wagon,  S&W Chemical - needs remediation, Piedmont Wagon, Regal Manufacturing, the old Hutto's now Verizon on Hwy 127n... The Council gave unanimous consent.

The Hound - These grants have helped out a lot and Mr. Frazier and his staff should be congratulated for the work they have done here.

4. (1:00:00) Acceptance of the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility low bid award with Jimmy R. Lynch & Sons, Inc. in the amount of $10,219,657. - Upgrades to the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility began in 2006. This upgrade is vital to the continued mission and goal of Hickory Public Utilities to protect the area’s natural resources. The existing facility was purchased by the City of Hickory from the Town of Catawba in 2003. The last upgrade to this facility occurred in 1956 to expand to 0.225 MGD. Portion of this facility are between 50 and 60 years old and are becoming very cost prohibitive to operate.

Kevin Greer presentation. Facility up a 1/2 mile on Lyle Creek on Lake Norman. Manager Berry made several statements about the positive economic impact this project will have on the area. Several questions were asked about the contracting of this plant. The operators of this facility will be determined at a later date. The Council gave unanimous consent.

Recognition of Persons Requesting To Be Heard
A. A member of Citizens for Equity in Government (Jesse McArthur) request to speak to Council regarding a request for City Council meetings to be televised on the government channel. Mr. McArthur and the CEG want the meetings recorded and broadcast on Charter Cable and the Internet to enhance the city council's goal for transparency and accountability by city government to its citizens. For those Citizen's unable to attend, they would be able to keep up with the work pof city council and to also see their ward representatives at work. Many cities and towns are broadcasting their meetings - Greensboro, Wilson, Boone, Morganton, and Mooresville to name a few. We ask that this request be given your utmost attention.

B. Larry Pope spoke about being blind and being lost on the city streets while traveling from his residence, near the Police Department,  to Ridgeview Plaza. This happened when he was traveling Sunday, a week ago, while the Brett's Ride event was taking place. He wanted to thank Alder Sally Fox for helping him when he had become disoriented while walking around the city. She was the only person that had stopped to help him. She gave him a ride to his destination. Larry thanked her for being a person that put behind differences to help a fellow citizen. He stated that she is an example of what we should all be like, when we have differences, that is what we all should do to move the city forward.  He once again thanked her and said keep the good work up.

Matters Not On Agenda (requires majority vote of Council to consider)
Alderman Lail moved that the matter of broadcasting meetings be discussed as a matter not on the agenda. Alderman Meisner said there were figures and Manager Berry said they were outdated. Alder Lail presumed there is local authority to program on the government channel and he stated that the issue should be studied. Alderman Seaver made statements about more and more cities doing this. It was decided that city staff should move forward on this issue.

The Hound is glad we are moving forward on this issue. The meetings are going to be recorded. It is just a matter of whether Hickory Inc. wants to take responsibility for that recording or they would prefer an outside agent move forward with the recording and broadcast of the meetings. This is something that I have specifically asked for in the public arena for 4+ years. Although I have not formally done so at City Council, I have talked about it here and the Citizens for Equity in Government have taken up the cause in the interest of all of the Citizens of Hickory. This is in the best interests of the Citizens of Hickory. We have not asked that it be broadcast live. We have not asked that it be broadcast in 3-D video or audio quality. All we ask is that it do justice to the meeting as it plays out. As Jesse states, this will go a long way in improving (the perception) of transparency and accountability and the relationship that citizens have with their council representative(s).

General Comments By Members of Council, City Manager or City Attorney of a Non-Business Nature
Alder Patton made mention Of Ulysses Long performing at the structure on Union Square this Saturday evening - Sails on the Square Entertainment:
Ulysses Long
Saturday, October 20
6:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Presentation to Ulysses Long at 7 p.m.

Free event! Bring a lawn chair and grab some food at one of the local restaurants and enjoy the musical entertainment! Ulysses Long's most recent appearance was on America's Got Talent!
Alder Patton will present Ulysses with a proclomation and a key to the City.

Mayor Wright talked about a meeting of the League of Municipalities this weekend.

Alderman Guess talked about the success of Octoberfest and Mayor Wright added about the success of the Greater Hickory Classic and appreciation for the volunteers and the great exposure for the area.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- October 14, 2012

Middle Out Economics - The Hickory Hound - June 26, 2012 - 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.

I noticed that people all over the country have been coming to the Hound to read this article. It is related to another article that I wrote in April 2010 entitled the Race to the Bottom that received a lot of attention. Both of the articles center around the notion that we cannot attain growth in this nation until we address the negative issues that face the middle class. We have heard this issue bandied about by both the Obama and Romney campaigns, but the problem is that these men and their campaigns can't relate to the plight of the middle class, because they are privileged. It seems that you have to be a part of this struggle to truly understand it. People at the upper end of the business strata and the government don't have a clue. They think they do, but they don't. Let's take them having to make choices about the necessities of life -- Food, Clothing, Shelter, Health, Transportation and Energy. Let's put them on a real budget and have them have to make decisions, not about what they would like, but about what is most vital to their survival and then maybe they might start to understand what many of us are facing today.

Forget Class-Warfare; It's Age-Warfare We Should Worry About - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - October 10, 2012 - As class-warfare implicitly breaks out - trumpeted by our political leaders - it seems that there is another, much more relevant, trend that is occurring that strikes at the heart of our nation. With Friday's jobs number still fresh in our minds, Citi's Steve Englander takes a look at one small slice of the demographics subject and found a rather concerning and little discussed fact. Employment-to-population ratios among older individuals have gone up in recent years, in contrast to the so-called prime-aged 25-54 cohort, where employment-to-population is much lower than earlier. It seems the real divide in this nation is not between rich and poor but old and young - as the 55-plus (and even more 65-plus) are forced to stay in the workplace as retirement remains a dream (thanks to ZIRP and Keynesianism's excess crises from boom-to-bust leave median wealth well down - even if the rich are 'ok')

Wholesale Prices in U.S. Rise More Than Forecast on Fuel - Bloomberg - Alex Kowalski - October 12, 2012 - Wholesale prices in the U.S. rose more than forecast in September, reflecting a jump in fuel costs that failed to trickle down to other goods.                          The producer price index climbed 1.1 percent after a 1.7 percent gain in August, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 76 economists called for a 0.8 percent increase. So-called core producer inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, was unchanged, the first time it didn’t increase since October 2011.

Food Inflation To Surge, Goldman Warns - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - October 10, 2012 - We have been very active in our discussions of the impact of the pending rise in food prices around the world (from central bank largesse to weather-related chaos). As Goldman notes, food inflation has been one of the most significant sources of headline inflation variation in emerging markets (EM) over the past few years. Since June, international prices for agricultural commodities have risen almost 30%, increasing the risk of fresh, food-related increases to EM headline inflation. We, like Goldman, expect EM headline inflation to start to reflect the relevant pressures more broadly in the October prints at the latest. While the effects, for now, are expected to be less extreme than the 2010-2011 episode, the timing as the US enters its fiscal-cliff-prone malaise, could mean a further round of easing will reignite this critical inflationary concern.

High-tech job openings in N.C. plunge 12% in September - WRAL Techwire - Rick Smith - October 12, 2012 - Research Triangle Park, N.C. — Just in time for the holidays, the jobs picture is getting worse across North Carolina for employment in information technology,                        High-tech job seekers are facing a toughening environment across North Carolina, a new report shows. Advertised IT open positions plunged 12 percent in September and have fallen for three consecutive months.                      In fact the daily average fell to below the same month total in 2010 and is only 250 higher than a year ago.                    Nationally, the news is somewhat better as job openings fell 1.1 percent.                    "Employers are pulling back," warns the North Carolina Technology Association in its latest IT Job Trends report.                       After openings surged to nearly 6,000 in March, the job market has fallen sharply with the monthly opportunities falling in five of the ensuing six months.                    Budget woes and the presidential campaign apparently are convincing firms to hold off on hiring, at least for now.                     "We believe that employers are correcting their outlook for engaging this year with job seekers close to a level last seen before the recession," the report says. "This resulted in a bump of employment this year.                   "The current trend suggests that we will not seen an improvement until after the presidential election.                "With the federal budget uncertainties for next year in mind employers may want to restrain themselves until decisions have been made in Washington."

UPDATE 2-Fed's Bullard-Banks should be smaller to manage failure - Reuters - October 11, 2012 - Big U.S. banks should become smaller to make any failure more manageable, a senior Federal Reserve official said on Thursday, supporting a suggestion that the size of banks be limited to a specific percentage of U.S. gross domestic product.                        "I'm very much of a view that 'too-big-to-fail' remains alive and well and the only way to really make progress on this issue is to get firms down to a smaller size where you'd feel comfortable letting them fail if the situation arose," St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told reporters.                         Bullard was referring to a situation in which a bank gets so big that it is too costly to let it fail if it gets into trouble. This is a competitive advantage a big bank can exploit through access to cheaper capital, which allows it to grow even larger compared with their rivals.                   Some Fed officials advocate simply breaking apart the biggest banks and Bullard has aligned himself with that camp.                     "I do not think that we need firms that are so large and complicated in order to have a healthy intermediation sector in the U.S.," he said. "We would be better served by a setup that had smaller firms in a competitive landscape across the sector."                Fed Board Governor Daniel Tarullo suggested in a speech on Wednesday that Congress might want to think about new laws to cap the size of banks relative to the size of the U.S. economy. He argued this would tie their growth to the county's own growth and consequent ability to absorb the shock if they got into trouble. Bullard said that the suggestion had merit.

Plant that got $150M in taxpayer money to make Volt batteries furloughs workers - Fox News - Perry Chiaramonte - October 8, 2012 - President Obama touted it in 2010 as evidence "manufacturing jobs are coming back to the United States,” but two years later, a Michigan hybrid battery plant built with $150 million in taxpayer funds is putting workers on furlough before a single battery has been produced.                  Workers at the Compact Power manufacturing facilities in Holland, Mich., run by LG Chem, have been placed on rotating furloughs, working only three weeks per month based on lack of demand for lithium-ion cells.                    The facility, which was opened in July 2010 with a groundbreaking attended by Obama, has yet to produce a single battery for the Chevrolet Volt, the troubled electric car from General Motors. The plant's batteries also were intended to be used in Ford's electric Focus.                     Production of the taxpayer-subsidized Volt has been plagued by work stoppages, and the effect has trickled down to companies and plants that build parts for it -- including the batteries.                     “Considering the lack of demand for electric vehicles, despite billions of dollars from the Obama administration that were supposed to stimulate it, it’s not surprising what has happened with LG Chem. Just because a ton of money is poured into a product does not mean that people will buy it,” Paul Chesser, an associate fellow with the National Legal and Policy Center, told                 The 650,000-square-foot, $300 million facility was slated to produce 15,000 batteries per year, while creating hundreds of new jobs. But to date, only 200 workers are employed at the plant by by the South Korean company. Batteries for the Chevy Volts that have been produced have been made by an LG plant in South Korea.                     The factory was partly funded by a $150 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. LG also received sizeable tax breaks from the local government, saving nearly $50 million in property taxes over 15 years and another $2.5 million annually in business taxes. Landing the factory was hailed as a coup when shovels first hit the ground.

U.S. Files Civil Mortgage Fraud Suit Against Wells Fargo - Bloomberg - Chris Dolmetsch and Dakin Campbell - October 10, 2012 - Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) was sued by the U.S. for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over claims the bank made reckless mortgage loans that caused losses for a federal insurance program when they defaulted. The complaint filed yesterday in federal court in New York, which alleges misconduct spanning more than a decade related to the bank’s participation in a Federal Housing Administration program, follows similar cases against other lenders, including Citigroup Inc. (C) and Deutsche Bank AG. (DBK)... Yesterday’s lawsuit undermines San Francisco-based Wells Fargo’s reputation as a lender that avoided some of the industry’s worst underwriting practices and threatens to compound the bank’s costs as the government completes probes of the housing bubble’s collapse. The firm, now the largest U.S. home lender, paid $125 million and set up a $50 million assistance fund to settle federal claims in July that it discriminated against minority borrowers. The settlement was the second-largest fair-lending accord reached by the Justice Department at the time. Wells Fargo originated 33.1 percent of all U.S. mortgages in the first six months of the year, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry publication. JPMorgan, the second- busiest, originated 11.1 percent.

Eatery in Asheville closes, another plans to shut
- Asheville Citizen Times - October 10, 2012
Restaurant Solace closing - Asheville Scene - October 10, 2012

The End of the Petrodollar Means The End of America as We Know it

The Petrodollar is really the only thing we have left ..... industries are leaving, the banks are BANKrupt and our resources pillage.d The biggest crash in financial markets history will be the end of the petrodollar.China and Russia are trying to strip the dollar of its dominant role in world trade, especially of Middle Eastern oil. So before they can boot the US military out of Asia and Eastern Europe, they have to strip the dollar of its dominant role in world trade, especially of Middle Eastern oil . The US military are not the world police for humanity, the US Military are the Police of Forced Free Trade via the US Petrol Dollar. As fast as the world can burn oil, the US can spend & print money. Tax dollars are subsidizing the price of gas at the pumps via the US Military in blood of the nations that have the oil . Al Qaeda is just another branch of the US government. Most people that think they really know what's going on, haven't figured that out yet.

Visualizing America's Economic Freedom Plunge
- Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - October 12, 2012