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Thursday, November 29, 2012

You Own Your Life

I have asked you to wake up and now its too late. The exit ramps are all passed and the fuel gauge is passed empty and pretty soon the vehicle will be sputtering and it will be time to get out and walk.

You have chosen to stew in your pidity, because of blissful pride and the rest of us who have been forced to rely upon you to get us to our destination are going to also be forced to deal with the consequences of your lack of direction.

You know life is fleeting and when we put you in a position of leadership and you willfully fritter away opportunity, then there are consequences; people are affected. You say people are "Monday Morning Quarterbacking"... That you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. Well, I disagree.

If you aspire to excellence and you fall short, then you fall within the grasp of excellence. If you aspire to nothing of substance and are directionless in your cause, flying by the seat of your pants, then those who pay attention know the difference and the straight shooters in life, those who choose not to stew in the pidity, are going to call you out on it... And in the end that is what bothers you isn't it?

But let me tender you this. It is not those of us that have offered you care and guidance that you have to lament. It is those who have willfully sipped the Kool-Aid. Those who you have held their head up and said, "Take another sip... it'll make you feel better." When they realize what foolishness this all has been, then you will see the problem. The problem of Us (Me) versus Them...

There is one thing that you should think about. In the end you will answer for your time here on Earth. When you leave this life and enter eternity, what will those last moments be. Will there be peace in knowing that you did what you could to help others (humanity) or will those last thoughts be of dread... remember that you and you alone own your life in the end.

Explorers - Muse - Matthew Bellamy - 2012

Once I hoped
To seek the new and unknown
This planet's overrun
There's nothing left for you or for me
Don't give in
We can walk through the fields
And feeling nature's glow
But all the land is owned
There's none left for you or for me
Who will win?
‘Cause I concede

Free me Free me
Free me from this world
I don't belong here
It was a mistake imprisoning my soul
Can you free me
Free me from this world

A world lush and blue
With rivers running wild
They'll be re-routed south
With none left for you or for me
Don't give in
Hear the engines roar
And save our crops from drought
But when the black gold's in doubt
There's none left for you or me
Fuse helium-3, our last hope

Free me
Free me
Free me from this world
We don't belong here
It was a mistake imprisoning our souls
Can you free me
And free me from this world?

Free me
I’ll free you
Free us from this world
We don't belong here
It was a mistake imprisoning our souls
Can you free me
And free me from this world?
Running around in circles feeling caged by endless rules
Can you free me
Free me from this world?
Shh, go to sleep

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- November 25, 2012

Are Black Friday Riots A Preview Of The Civil Unrest That Is Coming When Society Breaks Down? - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael - November 23rd, 2012 -  If Americans will trample one another just to save a few dollars on a television, what will they do when society breaks down and the survival of their families is at stake?  Once in a while an event comes along that gives us a peek into what life could be like when the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is stripped away.  For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey there was rampant looting and within days people were digging around in supermarket dumpsters looking for food.  Sadly, "Black Friday" also gives us a look at how crazed the American people can be when given the opportunity.  This year was no exception.  Once again we saw large crowds of frenzied shoppers push, shove, scratch, claw, bite and trample one another just to save a few bucks on cheap foreign-made goods.  And of course most retailers seem to be encouraging this type of behavior.  Most of them actually want people frothing at the mouth and willing to fight one another to buy their goods.  But is this kind of "me first" mentality really something that we want to foster as a society?  If people are willing to riot to save money on a cell phone, what would they be willing to do to feed their families?  Are the Black Friday riots a very small preview of the civil unrest that is coming when society eventually breaks down?                       Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was not really a commercial holiday.  It was a time to get together with family and friends, eat turkey and express thanks for the blessings that we have been given.                    But in recent years Black Friday has started to become even a bigger event than Thanksgiving itself.                   Millions of Americans have become convinced that it is fun to wait in long lines outside retail stores in freezing cold weather in the middle of the night to spend money that they do not have on things that they do not need.                    And of course very, very few "Black Friday deals" are actually made in America.  So these frenzied shoppers are actually killing American jobs and destroying the U.S. economy as well.                      The absurdity of Black Friday was summed up very well recently in a statement that has already been retweeted on Twitter more than 1,000 times...               "Black Friday: because only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have."                    It has gotten to the point where it is now expected that there will be mini-riots all over the country early on Black Friday morning each year.  The following are a few examples of the craziness that we saw this year...            -"Fights break out when stores open on Black Friday"

Shipping Containers to Become Condos in Detroit - ABC News - Karin Halperin - November 23, 2012 - The first U.S. multi-family condo built of used shipping containers is slated to break ground in Detroit early next year.                    Strong, durable and portable, shipping containers stack easily and link together like Legos. About 25 million of these 20-by-40 feet multicolored boxes move through U.S. container ports a year, hauling children's toys, flat-screen TVs, computers, car parts, sneakers and sweaters.                     But so much travel takes its toll, and eventually the containers wear out and are retired. That's when architects and designers, especially those with a "green" bent, step in to turn these cast-off boxes into student housing in Amsterdam, artists' studios, emergency shelters, health clinics, office buildings.                      Despite an oft-reported glut of unused cargo containers lying idle around U.S. ports and ship yards - estimates have ranged from 700,000 to 2 million - the Intermodal Steel Building Units and Container Homes Association puts the number closer to 12,000, including what's sold on Craigslist and eBay.                 Joel Egan, co-founder of HyBrid Architecture in Seattle, which has built cottages and office buildings from shipping containers for close to a decade and coined the term " cargotecture" to describe this method of construction, warns that although containers can be bought for as little as $2,500, they shouldn't be seen as a low-cost housing solution.                    "Ninety-five percent of the cost still remains," he says.                        Here's a few recent North American projects - including the new condo complex - where the shipping container takes center stage:

Asheville's Craggie Brewing closing Dec. 1 - Asheville Citizen Times - John Coutlakis - November 19, 2012 - The rough economy is claiming one of Asheville’s popular craft breweries. Craggie Brewing will close on Dec. 1, owner Bill Drew has announced.                Craggie, which opened in 2009, was unable to reach profitablity, Drew said in a statement. The space at 197 Hilliard Ave. may be reborn as a brewery, Drew said.                 “Negotiations are currently being made for a new brewery to take over the space,” which would employee two of Craggie’s workers, he said.

Craggie becomes the first Asheville brewery to fail in what has become a very competitive scene for making craft beer here. With its closing, Asheville and Buncombe County will temporarily drop to nine breweries. The new Wicked Weed brewery and restaurant on Biltmore Avenue is set to open on Dec. 21.                 Meanwhile, work continues on the new Oskar Blues east coast brewery in Brevard, Sierra Nevada’s brewery in Mills River and New Belgium’s expansion in Asheville, which together will bring hundreds of brewery jobs to Western North Carolina.

Jim Rogers - The Bubble

Friday, November 23, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of November 20, 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 11/20/2012 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 - November 20, 2012

Invocation by Rev. Whit Malone, Pastor First Presbyterian Church

Consent Agenda:
A. Transfer of a Cemetery Deed from Judy K. Eldridge, unmarried to Billy Dean Buckner in Fairview Cemetery

B. Transfer of a Cemetery Deed from Judy K. Eldridge, unmarried to Annie Sue Hicks in Fairview Cemetery

C. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from Judy K. Eldridge, unmarried to Charles Ray Buckner in Fairview Cemetery

D. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from Judy K. Eldridge, unmarried to Jack Wayne Buckner in Fairview Cemetery

E. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from Judy K. Eldridge, unmarried to Judy K. Eldridge in Fairview Cemetery

F. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from Judy K. Eldridge, unmarried to Elvis Ray Darrin Buckner in Fairview Cemetery

G. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from City of Hickory to Geraldine Propst and Cindy Propst in Southside Cemetery

H. Special Joint Meeting of Hickory City Council and the Advisory Committee for Inspiring Spaces, Tuesday, November 27, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Mike Johnson’s Hickory Toyota Board Room. - A special joint meeting of Hickory City Council and the Advisory Committee for Inspiring
Spaces to be held on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Mike Johnson’s Toyota Board Room at 435 US Highway 70 SE. The purpose of this special joint meeting is to update and receive input from City Council and the Advisory Committee on Inspiring Spaces.

I. Approval of a Proclamation for Small Business Saturday, November 24, 2012.

J. Certificate of Sufficiency and Preliminary Resolution Relative to Street Improvements Along a portion of 304 and 336 10th Avenue NE – No. 02-12 (Authorize Public Hearing for December 18, 2012)

K. Certificate of Sufficiency and Preliminary Resolution Relative to Street Improvements Along a portion of 304 10th Avenue NE – No. 03-12 (Authorize Public Hearing for December 18, 2012)

L. Resolution of Intent for Petition of Robert Lee Combs Jr., Cynthia C. Combs; Kenneth R. Abernethy, Linda Yvonne McCall Abernethy; Patricia Abernethy Bolch and Alan C. Bolch to Close an Unopened Portion of 10th Avenue Place NE. (Authorize Public Hearing for December 18, 2012)

M. Call for Public Hearing – Amendments to Hickory City Code Chapter 16 – Junk and Secondhand Dealers, Regarding how Pawnbrokers, Precious Metal Dealers and Secondary Metals Recyclers record and report their purchases from the general public. (Authorize Public Hearing for December 4, 2012)

N. Consideration of a Contract of Services with AMEC Environmental and Infrastructure, Inc., for environmental engineering services, pursuant to the USEPA Brownfield Assessment Grant. - The City of Hickory was awarded two Brownfield Assessment Grants, each in the amount of $200,000. As part of the federal cooperative agreement, the City of Hickory is required by the USEPA to contract environmental assessment services with a licensed environmental engineering firm. AMEC is a well-known and respected regional environmental firm, with a wealth of experience with both the USEPA and NCDENR brownfield programs. AMEC was selected after the review of nine consultant qualification statements. Professional contractual services will be provided by AMEC in an amount not to exceed $370,000 which is fully covered under the USEPA Brownfield Assessment Grant. No City monies will be expended pursuant to this contractual service.

O. Approval of a Quitclaim Deed for Recombination of Properties to be known as the Hickory-Catawba Wastewater Treatment Facility (HCWWTF).- Additional property was purchased by the City of Hickory from the adjoining property owners in December of 2010 for the proposed HCWWTF Upgrade and Expansion. In accordance with the Town of Catawba Planning regulations, the City of Hickory is required to recombine the properties since the property is required for the purposes of constructing and operating the proposed HCWWTF.

P. Special Event/Activities Application, applicant Connie Kincaid, Hickory Downtown Development Association, for Downtown Hickory Art Crawls 2013, Thursday, May 16, 2013 and Thursday, September 19, 2013, from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Union Square, 3rd St NW, 2nd St NW, 1st Avenue NW, 1st Avenue SW and Government Avenue SW.

Q. Special Event/Activities Application, applicant Connie Kincaid, Hickory Downtown Development Association, for Swinging Under the Stars, Sunday, May 26, 2013, from 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the Union Square Flag Court.

R. Grant Project Ordinance No. 5
1. To budget a 2012 Urgent Repair Program Grant awarded to the City of Hickory by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency in the amount of $37,500 with a local required match of $3,750. The required match is provided by the Consortium HOME Program Income.

S. Grant Project Ordinance Amendment No. 3
1. To transfer $3,750 of Consortium HOME Program income to the 2012 Urgent Repair Program Grant. This transfer provides the funds necessary for the required local match for the 2012 Urgent Repair Program Grant.

T. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 7
1. To budget $828 of General Fund 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 the shop.
2. To budget a $55,000 check from the State of North Carolina Department of Commerce (One North Carolina Fund Disbursement to Turbocoating Corporation) in the Economic and Community Development Incentives line item. A grant was approved by the Department of Commerce One North Carolina Fund in the amount of $110,000. This budget amendment represents the first partial grant disbursement.
3. To appropriate $4,696 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Residential Sanitation Non Asset Inventory line item. This amendment is to budget a $4,696 insurance claim check from Trident Insurance Company for a truck radio replacement which rolled into General Fund Balance at year end.

Informational Items
1. (4:10) Filming City Council Meetings - Per City Council directive, City Staff is exploring the feasibility and cost of filming Council meetings. The City Manager will update the council on the findings thus far.
● Current lighting in Council chambers is inadequate and will need to be augmented.
● Current audio does not provide for output to a video camera. The system also has adequacy issues both at the dais and the podium.
● Live feed of the meeting would require a fiber optic cable run from Council chambers to Charter Communications head end. Staff and equipment would also be required to manage a live feed. Costs for this option are not currently being explored. As these items are defined and costs estimated, staff will provide Council with a recommendation for implementation.

The recorded meetings will be available on Charter Channel 3 and on the Hickory City Website. Manager Berry talked about wanting to have dual feeds to show presentations, display names, and the feed of Council Members at the dais. Alderman Lail brought up the subject of promoting the televised council meetings. Manager Berry said they are looking into the promotion of these meetings... They would likely have meetings ready for showing on Thursdays. They should be back in December with recommendations to the council unless technical issues cause this to be delayed until January.

The Hound is glad to see this moving forward. This is one of the five requests made by the Citizens for Equity in Government. The CEG has never asked that these meetings be Broadcast Live. The point of this process is to make meetings more accessible to the community. Having a live feed isn't going to create better access for people who are busy at work or doing other activities at 7pm on 1st and 3rd Tuesdays. One of the major reasons for doing this is the same as time with a DVR. It is all about time shifting so that people can pay attention to community issues when time is available for them to do so. It is our contention that the CEG has not made any unreasonable requests and the CEG does not intend to ever make any unreasonable requests. We believe that once this is implemented that the community will wonder why it took so long.

New Business - Public Hearing
1. Approve Revised Sewer Use Ordinance - The City of Hickory is required to operate under a NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources (NCDENR) approved Sewer Use Ordinance due to the size of the Wastewater Treatment Facilities and the presence of Industrial customers on the City of Hickory wastewater system. The adoption of an approved Sewer Use Ordinance is a requirement of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and subsequent revisions. The proposed revisions to the existing City of Hickory Sewer Use Ordinance are to address recent environmental regulation changes. This version of the City of Hickory Sewer Use Ordinance is intended to ensure that the City of Hickory Pretreatment Program operates in compliance with the appropriate State and Federal regulations, A NCAC 2H.0900 and 40 CFR 403 respectively. This public hearing was advertised on November 9, 2012 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area.

Matters not on the Agenda

(26:55) - Mayor Wright spoke about the League of Municipalities meeting he attended last week. He talked about transportation cost issues in the State and problems with revenues. Because of the recession and efficiencies the amount of money has gone down. There is a mention of taxes on tires and toll roads. He talked about the possibilities of stickers being sold to allow people to use HOV lanes (High Occupancy Vehicle). He next talked about 50 agenda items from a League Board meeting. Governor Elect McCrory is talking about modernizing the tax structure.. He talked about the Inter-Basin transfer issue.

(30:30) - Alder Sally Fox had several comments about the community Inspiring Spaces meetings. She said it was exciting to see the new faces and at every meetings she found out new information and it was a learning experience. She next talked about the Christmas tree downtown and that it was the most beautiful tree and this year's activities were the most wholesome in a long time.

Citizens Requesting to be Heard

(34:00) - Jesse McArthur - speaking about videotaping meetings - he said that in light of the discussion at this meeting that he did not feel it necesary not to speak at this time.

(34:45) - Cliff Moone - Spoke about his request and the City's granting of a Bill of Right's Proclamation and this year he would like a Human Rights proclamation given to the library.

He addressed the issue of Citizens being allowed the question items on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. He discussed what occurred at the City Council meeting on October 2, 2012.

Cliff went into Alderman Lail's proposal from the end of that meeting to study the issue of allowing Citizen's Requesting to be heard back to the beginning of the meeting. Alderman Lail saw potential problems with what had been passed earlier in that meeting. Alderman Lail's motion and proposal failed for lack of a second motion.

At the following City Council meeting of October 16, 2012, the opportunity for Citizens to speak as provided for in the motion passed unanimously on October 2, 2012 was not extended. Later in the meeting, a citizen with a specific grant proposal was allowed to speak.  Cliff then spoke of the Council meeting of November 6, 2012, which was chaired by Alderman Seaver and during that meeting he asked if anyone would like specific items removed from the Consent Agenda, when the Council has previously determined that Citizens do not have such a right. This was confusing and was not in keeping with the Council's motion of October 2.

Cliff wants the Council to address Alderman Seaver's point made at the October 2 meeting about arranging or tweaking the agenda so that the action can be appropriately implemented so that citizens will find it consistent and fair and clear in all future meetings so that they can operate within the Council's rules of Decorum. Cliff said he didn't want to be picky, but the motion was not part of the agenda should have been a motion (matter) not on the agenda. Staff Attorney Crone apologized saying that that night he had something else on his mind and he should have jumped in. Mayor Wright said there are capital R rules and little R rules. Cliff said he wasn't sure what the Mayor meant by that. Cliff stated that he would like to somehow or another see this be on the agenda. When you make a motion and pass something on the Agenda.. that that was a continuing thing. Now you can undo that as y'all so rightly said when, as you said, this is not a good exercise in Democracy... but would this not just continue from meeting to meeting? Attorney Crone began an answer, I don't understand.. I don't understand..." and Mayor Wright expressly cut him off saying, "We will get back with you at the next meeting Mr. Moone."

The Hound: Like Cliff, I do not want to nit pick about this. Why is the Council insistent on these contortions? Why not just put this on the Public Agenda and take all of the motioning per meeting out of this process? This all goes back to the Consent Agenda issue and us paying attention to what the rules on the agenda stated and allowed us to do.

So far no one has had an agenda item to inquire-ask about, but it is a matter of time until this will occur and the ambiguity should be taken out of the process. Look at the tent issue. I might be wrong, but I don't think Hickory Inc. is going to be putting multi-hundred thousand dollar projects in the Consent Agenda any more, so hopefully we won't have to travel back down that road again -- Hopefully (fingers crossed). 

I don't agree with the Mayor about his Big R - Little R statement when it comes to rules. Rules are rules and they should apply to everyone. They should apply to Council, City Staff, and everyone participating in City processes equally -- across the board. If they expect us to follow "decorum," then they should follow decorum and quit making things up on the fly to suit their own fancy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!- 11/22/2012


How Six International Banks Control the World 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- November 18, 2012

Economists cut U.S. Q4 growth forecasts: survey - Reuters - November 8, 2012 - Forecasters cut their expectations for U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter, though the labor market was seen holding on to recent improvement, a survey released on Friday showed.                  Economists expect the economy to grow at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the current quarter, down from the previous estimate of 2.2 percent growth, according to the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's fourth-quarter survey of 39 forecasters.                      While that left estimates for gross domestic product for the year unchanged at 2.2 percent, growth in 2013 looked modestly weaker with economists forecasting 2 percent, down from 2.1 percent.

The Worst Economic Numbers In More Than A Year - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael - November 15th, 2012 - With everything else that is going on in the world, a lot of people have failed to notice that we are seeing some of the worst economic numbers that we have seen in more than a year.  For example, it was announced on Thursday that initial claims for unemployment benefits have hit their highest level in a year and a half.  Hopefully this is just a temporary blip in the data, because initial unemployment claims tend to have a very strong correlation with the overall performance of the economy.  We also continue to see poverty statistics rise.  According to government statistics released earlier this month, the number of Americans living in poverty and the number of Americans on food stamps are both at all-time record highs.  Meanwhile, the Dow and the S&P 500 are both down more than 5 percent since the election and the U.S. government rolled up 22 billion dollars more debt in October 2012 than it did in October 2011.  The unfortunate truth is that things are not getting better.  The U.S. economy continues to become weaker and more unstable, and there are a whole lot of reasons to be very pessimistic about our economic situation as we move into the winter months.                       Let's take a closer look at some of the troubling economic numbers that have been released in recent days...

Warren Buffett Guts the News - Manassas News & Messenger and, top Prince William news sources, closing down - Washington Post Local - Tom Jackman - November 14, 2012 - When investor and newspaper fan Warren Buffett bought the Media General newspaper chain last year, there was hope for all of them, including the Manassas News & Messenger and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.But Buffett’s company announced today it is shutting down the News & Messenger after 143 years, as well as its highly informative Web site, It is the only paper in the Media General chain being shuttered by World Media Enterprises, a division of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.                    This is horrendous news for everyone in Prince William County and those who care about Prince William news. The News & Messenger and InsideNoVA are the definitive source of news in Prince William. Their reporters and editors work extremely hard to cover government, breaking news, high school sports, the latest lottery winners, everything.               InsideNoVA also has a Facebook page with more than 26,000 followers, and when they post stories there they get plenty of reaction . Reaction that isn’t standard anonymous-crazy comments because people must use their Facebook accounts to post, which makes a lot of sense.                        World Media chairman Terry Kroeger told me this morning there was ”a lot of competition for the ad dollars.” I whined and complained about losing the biggest news source in a county of 400,000 people. “It is too bad,” Kroeger said. “We didn’t see a way to take the negative financial momentum and turn it positive. We didn’t take this lightly. We worked very hard to develop their plans, and we just could not get there.”                     I pointed out that InsideNoVA had a large following on Facebook and seemed to be working well in the digital world. “They put a lot of emphasis on their digital products,” Kroeger said, “so their print circulation fell even further.” The print circulation is about 10,000.                        When Buffett bought the 63 papers in the Media General chain, he said: “In towns and cities where there is a strong sense of community, there is no more important institution than the local paper. The many locales served by the newspapers we are acquiring fall firmly in this mold and we are delighted they have found a permanent home with Berkshire Hathaway.”                     This is actually the closing of two newspapers, since the Potomac News and the Manassas Journal Messenger merged in 2008. World Media said all 33 people working for the paper and Web site would lose their jobs, along with 72 others in the Media General corporate structure.                        There are a lot of talented and hard-working journalists at the News & Messenger and InsideNoVA and they deserve our respect and thanks. They didn’t deserve to be shut down after 143 years of public service.

Feds gave battery firm $1M on day of bankruptcy filing
- USA Today - By Nathan Bomey, Detroit Free Press - November 17, 2012 - Electric car battery maker A123 Systems received a $946,830 check from the U.S. Energy Department on the day it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month -- providing more ammunition for critics who say the Obama administration is blindly funding failed clean energy companies.                     The Waltham, Mass.-based company also told two U.S. senators in a letter this week that it may seek more money from the $249.1-million Energy Department stimulus award it won in 2009. A123's Oct. 16 check was the latest payment as part of the original grant, which is distributed incrementally as the company meets certain benchmarks. A123 has received $133.3 million of the grant so far based on its investments in new battery plants in Livonia and Romulus, Mich....                       Meanwhile, A123 also came under scrutiny from a federal trustee charged with providing oversight in bankruptcy cases for the size of its proposed performance bonuses for senior executives. The original bonuses, priced at a total of $2.4 million to $4.2 million for 10 employees, were reduced by 12.5% by a bankruptcy judge.               A123, formed a decade ago with intellectual property from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, promised to add thousands of jobs in Michigan after winning the federal grant -- as well as more than $125 million in tax credits and grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in 2008 and 2009.

Is The 29 Hour Work Week Coming As Employers Seek To Escape The Obamacare Mandate? - CNSNews - Craig Bannister - November 12, 2012 - Businesses with 50 or more employees who average at least 30 hours of work a week will be subject to the Obamacare insurance coverage mandate.                Companies are reportedly planning large layoffs due to the implementation of Obamacare.                   But, companies can potentially avoid being subject to Obamacare's insurance requirements by limiting employees’ weekly hours to less than the 30 hour level defined by Obamacare as “full-time.”               A little-known section in the ObamaCare health reform law defines “full-time” work as averaging only 30 hours per week, a definition that will affect some employers who utilize part-time workers to trim the cost of complying with the ObamaCare rule that says businesses with 50 or more full-time workers must provide health insurance or pay a fine.                 “The term ‘full-time employee’ means, with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week,” section 1513 of the law reads.  (Scroll down to section 4, paragraph A.)                     That section, known as the employer mandate, requires any business with 50 or more full-time employees to provide at least the minimum level of government-defined health coverage to those employees. In other words, a business must provide insurance if it has 50 or more employees working an average of just 30 hours per week, which is 10 hours per week fewer than the traditional 40-hour work week.                     Thus, by cutting employees’ hours to ensure they average less than the 30 per week, employers could potentially avoid the cost of providing the minimum insurance levels mandated by Obamacare.

Job Cuts Announced At Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center - WFMY (Greensboro, NC) - November 14, 2012  - Cost-cutting at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center will cause 950 full-time positions to be eliminated by June 30, 2013, the healthcare provider announced Wednesday.            In a news release, WFBMC said about half of the layoffs will come from "vacant, temporary and contract labor positions, as well as normal attrition and retirements." As many as 475 current employees -- about 3.5 percent of the company's workforce -- will get pink slips.               While the staff reductions won't be complete until next summer, 76 employees are being laid off this week. WFBMC says those workers will still get their full pay and benefits through Jan. 4, 2013. Everyone who is being laid off will get severance pay.             The medical center says the job cuts "will not affect nurse-to-patient ratios [or] the quality of patient care."

Banks told by Fed to test for 12% unemployment - Marketwatch - Ronald D. Orol - November 15, 2012 - The Federal Reserve is asking 30 big banks to make sure their capital can withstand a deep recession in which the unemployment rate rises to 12%.               The Fed, which first required big banks to conduct “stress tests” in 2009, laid out three scenarios lenders have to test against. The goal is to ensure that the firms have enough capital to continue operations during stressful economic times.             The Fed stressed they were not making economic forecasts “but rather hypothetical scenarios designed to assess the strength of financial institutions in stressful economic environments.”                   In addition to considering an unemployment rate of roughly 12% — up from 7.9% in October — in the most severe recession scenario, banks must evaluate how their capital buffers would withstand real GDP declining by around 5%.                 Banks will also have to test for equity prices that would fall by more than 50% over the course of the recession, with house prices declining more than 20% and with commercial real estate prices falling by a similar amount.                     While harsh, the Fed stress test isn’t necessarily as bad as conditions actually were during the so-called Great Recession from late 2007 to 2009. The unemployment rate rose from 4.7% before the recession started in Nov. 2007 to as high as 10%, the economy shrank as much as 8.9% during one quarter, and home prices have tumbled by roughly a third from their peak....

ROUBINI: Perfect Storm Or Not, 2013 Looks Awful
- Business Insider - Lucas Kawa - November 16, 2012 -
...The perfect storm is not my baseline scenario. My baseline scenario is one of low economic growth in advanced economies and recession in some of them, like the euro zone, like the U.K., like Japan but not recession in the U.S., slower economic growth in emerging markets; that’s the baseline.                 But there could be a situation in which you could have a perfect storm that would happen if there is a fiscal cliff in the United States that tips the US into a recession, if the euro zone crisis gets worse and there is an exit of Greece that is disorderly, if the landing of China becomes a hard landing of China, and four, if we really had a war in the Middle East between Israel and Iran and oil prices go to $200/barrel...

Census: U.S. Poverty Rate Spikes, Nearly 50 Million Americans Affected - CBS News/AP - November 15, 2012 - As President Barack Obama is set to begin his second term, new statistics on America’s poverty rate indicate that nearly 50 million Americans, more than 16 percent of the population, are struggling to survive.                New figures released by the Census Bureau this week found a spike in poverty numbers last year, going from 49 million in 2010 to 49.7 million last year. The numbers may come as a surprise to Congress, which estimated in September that the poverty rate would drop to 46.2 million. One of the most startling findings showed that almost 20 percent of American children continue to live in poverty.                   The Associated Press reports that the new figures are based on an updated formula devised by the Census Bureau to help give the government a better understanding for how to use safety-net programs.                 The numbers found that Hispanics and people living in urban areas had a higher chance of struggling to make it financially. Poverty among full-time and part-time workers also saw a jump from its 2010 number...

Ceilings, Cliffs and TAG - 3 Immediate Risks - - Lance Roberts - November 16, 2012 -

1 in 7 people now on Food Stamps in America

Friday, November 16, 2012

City Meetings this week... Inspiring Spaces & the Airport

Went to a couple of City meetings this week. One was for "Inspiring Spaces" on Tuesday night at Highland Rec. Let's say that most of the people who I spoke with that attended those meetings were Uninspired. The meeting was basically a rehash of the presentation made to the City Council a few weeks ago. There is a feeling amongst most people who pay attention that the city has made up it's mind about what it is going to do. It is obvious to most that they have decided that they want to do something along Main Avenue Northeast from the area where it splits off to around City Hall. And on the map that was shown, areas 1 and 2 on the map were (tada) Union Square and the SALT block. In my Yoda voice, "I think that not to be a coincidence."

I really don't think that Hickory Inc. is looking at these cities that they visited properly. They are saying that they invested in their cities and this caused industry to come to those areas and that simply is not the case. They are looking at Greenville, SC and Chattanooga. Those cities development looks great because they landed a couple of auto manufacturers (BMW and Volkswagen respectfully). They have seen major investment in their area's at all levels from the federal and state level associated with these plants and from local businesses.  Those plants are highly valuable because they are employment intense industries. In articles about Volkswagen and Chattanooga they state that they came there because of the wage structure.

It is my opinion that the investments that have been made in Hickory of late are not going to resurrect our fortunes and there is really nothing to talk about when it comes to these issues until we start dealing with the run down areas. I am not talking about the look when I say rundown. That is the most superficial aspect of rundown and throwing up some bushes and slapping some paint on those areas is not going to change the dynamics. It is about the marketplace.

There is hope for that old Hollar Hosiery Mill, not because of the renovation, but because of its location and the fact that there are businesses already lined up to move in there. Will it make an earth shattering impact? No, because it only rearranges the deck chairs. People that go there to eat or shop or see a band will be people who go to other restaurants, bars, and stores in the area. So, it will pull customers from those other local existing venues, but no one is going to flock to Hickory to visit those shops. And if it doesn't increase the economic impact on the dynamics of our residents, then it isn't going to make a dent on the overall Economics of the area. But, I will say that it is a feel good effort and it does look better and it is a very good investment, if we do get some labor intense industries in the area that can give people disposable income to spend.

I also went to the airport for the city's special session there. Again in my opinion, there really wasn't a need for a special session there. It was another feel good story and the one thing that I came away with is a feeling that the airport is in very good hands with Terry Clark out there running the show.

As has been pointed out here, and because of actual conversations we have had with people who utilize the airport and its services, the moves that have occurred at the airport are great and they are long overdue. For the most part, they were moves that were recommended by the Airport Taskforce back in 2006. If Hickory Inc. would have followed the recommendations at the time, they would have reaped millions of dollars in revenue through the fuel sales and other operations plus they wouldn't have lost the revenues they did related to airplane owners not wanting their planes parked at the airport. There were also costs associated with the way the previous FBO mismanaged the airport's maintenance and didn't pay their bills in a timely fashion and/or didn't pay bills due to their bankruptcy.

Now, that is all I have to say today. I haven't written as much about the local scene, because really there isn't much going on with the local scene as far as the subjects we delve into here on the Hickory Hound. Now behind the scenes there are developments, but as we wind down 2012, we aren't going to see much coming from the city. It is all under the radar waiting for 2013.

We are, however, interested in seeing what Hickory Inc. is going to try to sneak in at the last City Council meeting before Christmas and the New Year. Remember demolishing the pools and the tent on Union Square both took place at those City Council meetings in 2010 and 2011. We wonder if something that has been kept under the radar related to Inspiring Spaces will occur at those meetings.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gerald Celente dealing with Impostors

In the past I have used the Gerald Celente Blogspot site for the info that is passed along. I did not realize the implications of all of this. I even had the site in my New Media Bibliography. After receiving the information from Mr. Celente below, I have decided to take down that link and certainly won't link to their articles in the future.

Mr. Celente is the World's leading trend forecaster and his information is highly sought. That is how I first happened upon this Blogspot site as I am sure with many others. This is certainly an issue that Google needs to deal with. One can certainly see how this can affect a person's life and their finances.

 Celente Sues Google For Allowing Impostors
To Steal His Identity

KINGSTON, NY, 12 November 2012 — After numerous attempts to deactivate impostor blogs through Google’s “Enforcement of Blogger’s Content Policy,” Gerald Celente has taken action. Last week he filed a federal lawsuit against Google and those running the impostor blogs.   

This case could be precedent-setting and have wide implications for the Internet giant who owns the blog hosting service where the impostors flourish with impunity. The lawsuit, filed in New York last Wednesday, claims that malicious bloggers are exploiting Celente's name and trademarks in order to generate revenue for themselves through advertising.

The suit further states that the impostors post inaccurate and offensive information that viewers are led to mistakenly believe comes from Celente, thus doing irreparable harm to his reputation while damaging his business.   

Commenting on his lawsuit, Celente observed, “When Google acquired Blogger last April it represented a departure from its business model. Indeed, Google admitted, ‘truth is, we're still figuring a lot of it out.’

“A year later, since Google persists in refusing to act upon its own clearly stated anti-impostor policy, it would appear that either they are ‘still figuring a lot of it out,’ or they’re making so much money from impostor blogs on their AdSense "click-through" advertisements that they just don't care about the extensive and ongoing damage being done,” said Celente.

“Maybe The Google Blogger Team doesn’t actually know what the word ‘impostor’ means,” mused Celente. “The multiple complaints addressed to Google provided detailed information to substantiate my claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition and impersonation, but we receive only evasive, inane responses that fail to address the impostor issue:”


Thanks for Your reply.

Blogger is a provider of content creation tools, not a mediator of that content. We allow our users to create blogs, but we don’t make any claims about the URLs or content of these pages. In cases involving trademark, if a contact email address is listed on the blog, we recommend you working directly with the author to have the information in question removed or changed.
The Blogger Team
Celente suggested that the Google Blogger Team should consult a dictionary for the definition of ‘impostor:’ One who imposes upon others for the purpose of deception; a pretender.

“You don’t need a Philadelphia lawyer to tell you what the word means. Maybe Google would do well to contact Facebook for a lesson in how to address the impostor policy it claims to have but refuses to enforce,” Celente added. “When I complained to the corporation about an impostor site hosted on Facebook, it replied swiftly and responsibly:” 
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We have removed or disabled access to the third-party or user-generated content you have reported to us for violating our Statement of Rights & Responsibilities.  

Celente contends that Google is one of the few social networking sites that has not yet developed a means for brand owners to protect their trademarks. “I continually read how Google aggressively protects its own intellectual property, why aren’t they applying the same standards when it comes to protecting my intellectual property?” he concluded.

Note: The case is Celente et al. v. Google Inc. et al., case number 1:12-cv-08083, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Celente is seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages for unfair competition, cybersquatting and violations of privacy and publicity rights.

©MMXII The Trends Research Institute®

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- November 11, 2012

Share This Massive List Of Post-Election Firings And Layoffs With Everyone You Can - Economic Collapse Blog  - Michael - November 9th, 2012 - The victory by Barack Obama on election night has resulted in a huge wave of firings and layoffs all over America. A large number of businesses seem to have suddenly shifted into panic mode. The number of layoff announcements that we have seen in the last 48 hours has been absolutely shocking. So why is this happening? Well, the truth is that the federal government is absolutely suffocating small businesses all over America with rules, regulations and taxes. If you have never tried to run a small business, then you have no idea how oppressive this system actually is for people that are trying to run small businesses successfully. It has steadily gotten worse over the years no matter who has been in the White House and no matter who has controlled Congress. So we shouldn't put 100% of the blame on Obama. Bush massively expanded government and made things harder on small business people too. But what many small business people were looking for on this election day was just a little bit of help. Many were desperately holding out hope that Obamacare would be repealed so that they would not have to get rid of some of their employees. Many were hoping to get a little bit of relief from the crippling regulations and taxes that are absolutely crushing them. But now that Barack Obama has been given another four years, they understand that there is no hope on the horizon and that things are only going to get worse. So they are making the hard decisions that they feel are necessary in order to survive in this economic environment.                     And I certainly don't blame them. You only want to have employees if you can make a profit on them. And in this environment it is getting harder than ever to make a profit on an employee. You see, the truth is that what you cost your employer goes far beyond your salary or your hourly wage. I think many of you would be absolutely shocked if you learned how much it actually costs your employer to employ you. And now thanks to Obamacare, that cost is going to go up even more.                 Many businesses are not even feasible at all in this economic environment. Many small businesses had been holding out hope that somehow this election might turn things around and make it possible for them to keep going, but when Obama won it was kind of like the straw that broke the camel's back.                 You can't do what the federal government and the state governments are doing to us and expect to have a thriving economy. They are choking the life out of us.                     New businesses and small businesses are supposed to be at the heart of our economic system. Unfortunately, the environment that has been created is absolutely killing them. This is a recipe for disaster.                  In a previous article, I noted that the number of jobs created at new businesses in 2010 in the United States was less than half of what it was back in the year 2000.                 Now we can expect that number to get even worse and we can expect large numbers of small businesses to shrink in size or close their doors completely.                The following is a list of some of the post-election firings and layoffs that we have seen since Tuesday night...

How Many Businesses Have Announced Closings or Layoffs Since Obama Won A Second Term? - The Blaze - November 8, 2012 - Do elections have consequences? If you have been paying attention to the financial markets, you might think so. Wall Street has had two horrible days since President Obama won a second term.               However, stock prices are not the only thing taking a hit. It appears that the job market is also suffering. In the last 48 hours, the following major corporations have announced layoffs in America (links take you to news stories about the layoffs – with details from the companies): Energizer, Exide Technologies, Westinghouse, Research in Motion Limited, Lightyear Network Solutions, Providence Journal, Hawker Beechcraft, Boeing (30% of their management staff), CVPH Medical Center, US Cellular, Momentive Performance Materials, Rocketdyne, Brake Parts, Vestas Wind Systems, Husqvarna, Center for Hospice New York, Bristol-Meyers, OCE North America Darden Restaurants, West Ridge Mine, United Blood Services Gulf

America Has Shifted To The Left And The Culture War Is Over - End of the American Dream Blog - Election day 2012 showed once again that America is moving steadily to the left.  Yes, Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney, but the underlying dynamics run much deeper than that – especially when you take a look at social issues.  Older voters are more conservative when it comes to social issues, but they are slowly dying off and being replaced by younger voters that tend to be much more liberal.  So on a whole host of controversial social issues including gay marriage, abortion, immigration and drug legalization we are seeing a dramatic shift take place.  The American people as a whole are rejecting traditional values and are embracing a more “progressive” view of morality that is being promoted by our education system, the entertainment industry and the federal government.  Those that want to cling to the morality of the past are being told that they “are on the wrong side of history” and that they need to come into the 21st century.  On election night I spent a lot of time watching CNN, and even their “conservative pundits” were trashing those that still believe in traditional values.  Sadly, it is likely that those that believe in traditional values are going to have a harder and harder time trying to win national elections.  It is much easier to get people to change their minds about economic issues or foreign policy issues than it is about fundamental questions of right and wrong.  The demographic tidal wave that is pushing America to the left is not going to stop, and it would literally take a miracle to see this country start to move back in the direction of traditional values. (Read More.....)

Fed Report: 100% Chance of Recession - - Mac Slavo - November 7th, 2012 - Now that the election is over, the propaganda media can back off the burying of those critical stories that they couldn’t be bothered to report in the lead up to the re-election of President Obama.                What are we talking about?                    For starters, the Federal Reserve’s recent report, which received nary a comment from the political and financial pundits on television.                   While the economy was on the minds of most voters last night, what they didn’t know may have very well swung the election to one candidate over another.                 And this particular tidbit of data is as important as it gets when we’re talking about economic health:

Moreover, if you look at the real numbers behind the numbers, like the rate of real inflation, and bounce those against this purported economic growth you may be surprised to find that we never exited the recession!                           Look at the chart below. You see that red line? That’s the government’s official GDP, a measure for economic growth. The government shows it in positive territory and its been heralded without question by the mainstream machine as the proof for an economic recovery.                   Now look at the blue line. That’s the unofficial GDP as calculated by economist John Williams using algorithms that account for distortions in the way government calculates inflation.

FEMA Disaster Centers Shut Doors 'Due to Weather' - DNA Info New York - November 7, 2012 - TOTTENVILLE — They fly into disaster areas, but flee from raindrops.                   FEMA disaster recovery centers in Hurricane Sandy-ravaged sections of the city that were supposed to provide assistance to hurricane victims went MIA Wednesday morning, posting signs saying that they were closed due to the approaching Nor'easter.                   The temporary shuttering of the facilities, which help victims register for disaster relief, as well as city food distribution centers come even as many of those still reeling from the monster storm were not told that they had to leave the battered areas.            On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that residents in the low-lying portions of Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn were advised to leave ahead of the nor'easter, which could hit the city with 60 mph gusts and several inches of rain Wednesday afternoon, but that the evacuation was not mandatory like the one issued for all of Zone A ahead of Sandy.              “We do not believe that it’s necessary to evacuate people,” said the mayor Wednesday.                      The move left residents of the storm-ravaged areas fuming.                    "The storm is coming. We don't know how hard it's going to hit us," said Jenny Cartagena, 46, who found the FEMA center in Coney Island closed Wednesday when she went there looking for food. "I need some help now."                  Because the FEMA centers were located with food distribution and warming services, some residents who arrived there were confused by the closed centers.

Fed QE3 May Hit $1 Trillion as Fiscal Deadlock Persists - Bloomberg - Caroline Salas Gage and Jeff Kearns - Nov 8, 2012 - The Federal Reserve stands as the only source of policy support for a U.S. economy burdened by 7.9 percent unemployment after the presidential election preserved the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans.         “If you’re going to get stimulus, it’s got to come from the Fed,” said Paul Edelstein, the director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. “They’re the only game in town.”...                           fiscal boost to the economy is probably off the table as President Barack Obama negotiates revenue increases and spending cuts with leaders of a Democratic-controlled Senate and a House of Representatives led by Republicans, Edelstein said. That may leave only the Fed in the position of trying to boost the economy, and its third round of quantitative easing may extend through next year and climb past $1 trillion, said economists at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Pierpont Securities LLC.        

Foodstamps Surge By Most In One Year To New All Time Record - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - November 10, 2012 - While there had been speculation that the BLS may delay the release of its October nonfarm payroll number until after the election, it turned out there was no reason to worry. Perhaps this is because the number, while at stall speed, was not quite as horrible as some had expected (even if the change in average hourly earnings did tumble to new all time lows) and so boosted Obama's reelection chances. There was, however, another closely tracked number which perhaps is far more indicative of the economic "growth" in the past 4 years, which certainly had a delayed release. The number of course is that showing how many Americans are on foodstamps, and usually is released at the end of the month, or the first day or two of the next month. This time the USDA delayed its release nine days past the semi-official deadline, far past the election, and until Friday night to report August foodstamp data. One glance at the number reveals why: at 47.1 million, this was not only a new all time record, but the monthly increase of 420,947 from July was the biggest monthly increase in one year. One can see why a reported surge in foodstamps ahead of the elections is something the USDA, and the administration may not have been too keen on disclosing.

Chart Of The Day: When $0.99 Becomes Unaffordable, We Have A Problem - Tyler Durden - November 8, 2012 - Earlier today, fast food juggernaut McDonalds reported same store sales for the month October. At -1.8%, this number was well below expectations of -1.1%, and a drop from September's 1.9%. It was driven by a 2%+ drop in comp store sales across all locations: US, Europea and APMEA, with the US performing just as bad as Europe. Most importantly, this was the first monthly drop in MCD comp sales since March 2003! So our question is: at what point does the perpetually self-deluded US population finally admit to itself that when even 99 cent meals are no longer affordable, that this country has a problem? Charting the last 4 years of McD sales, and eagerly looking forward to 4 more years.

US employers post fewest job openings in 5 months in September; layoffs also fall - AP through Fox News - November 06, 2012 - U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in September after advertising more in August than first estimated. The report suggests hiring will likely remain modest in the coming months.                   The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings dropped by 100,000 to 3.56 million, the fewest in five months. August's openings were revised up to 3.66 million.                    The number of available jobs has jumped about 63 percent since July 2009, one month after the recession ended. It remains well below the more than 4 million jobs a month advertised before the recession began in December 2007.                    The job market remains very competitive. With 12.1 million people unemployed in September, there were 3.4 unemployed people, on average, competing for each open job. In a healthy economy, that ratio is roughly 2 to 1.                      Employers filled fewer available positions in September than in August. And the number of people who quit fell to the lowest level in 10 months. That's a bad sign for the job market, because it suggests workers see fewer opportunities to move to a better job. Workers tend to quit when they have other job offers.                      One positive sign in the report: Layoffs fell.
Hiring looked a little better in October, according to the Labor Department's employment report released Friday. Employers added 171,000 jobs last month and hiring in August and September was better than first estimated.

Fiscal Cliff Explained by Mike Maloney
- (Words from the Gerald Celente Blog) - Peter Schiff and Ron Paul have been calling this "fiscal cliff" for years and years. But general public are too oblivious to heed the advice. Mike gets lost in details that have nothing to do with the fundamentals of money. What is money & how money is created and traded. The trap was set in the wee hours of Dec night in 1913 with passage of the Federal Reserve Act. That trap was sprung when Nixon, w/o any Constitutionally granted authority, reneged on international trade agreements to tie US Dollars to gold reserves. The ability to create money from nothing was thus borne and the collapse of economies around the globe begun.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of November 6, 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 11/6/2012 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 - November 6, 2012

Invocation by Rev. Mark Andrews, Pastor St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

Alderman Seaver acted as Mayor Pro Tem due to Mayor Wright's absence.

Special Presentations
A. (2:45) Presentation of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Proclamation to Austin Pierce, Executive Director for the Hickory Soup Kitchen and Teena Willis, Housing Coordinator for Partners Behavioral Health Management and Chair of the Housing Visions Continuum of Care.

B. (8:10) Recognition of Master Police Officer Danny Crump for completing his year as President of the NC Law Enforcement Officers Association. Presentation by Police Chief Adkinson.

C. (11:00) Recognition of Investigator David Rockett who was recognized by the National Insurance Crime Bureau at their annual meeting for his work on a theft ring. Presentation by Police Chief Adkinson.

D. (15:50) Presentation of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2012.

Unqualified Opinion on financial statements and compliance
Cooperative Staff - very successful transition year
General Fund - fund balance increased $3,654,835 after transfers and long term debt issued

The General Fund Summary shows that Expenses increased by $368,055 during the fiscal year (to $39,822,538 in 2012 from $39,454,483 in 2011).

The Fund Balance has increased to $31,882,614 for 2011-12 from $28,227,779 in 2010-11 and $25,165,923 in 2009-10.

Ad Valorem Tax Revenues actually decreased by $355,939 during the fiscal year (to $23,228,814 in 2012 from $23,584,753 in 2011).

Other Tax Revenues actually increased by $262,173 during the fiscal year (to $12,656,894 in 2012 from $12,394,721 in 2011).

Sales and Service Revenues increased by $39,708 during the fiscal year (to  $1,670,625 in 2012 from $1,630,917 in 2011).

Transportation Expenses increased by $95,572 during the fiscal year (to  $4,839,106 in 2012 from $4,743,534 in 2011).

 Cultural and Recreational Expenses increased by $406,541 during the fiscal year (to  $5,657,529 in 2012 from $5,250,988 in 2011).

Assistant City Manager Warren Wood's statements about last year's financial numbers. General Fund's unassigned balance increased by $288,000. This brings the Fund balance to $11.9 million, which is 27% of the total operating budget. The Water & Sewer fund decreased slightly by $16,000. The city can go 268 days without any additional revenues, which is an 11 day increase over the last year. The city's assets increased by $2 million. The City's collection rate fell 96.5% to 95.9%. This has been a consistent negative trend. The City has 10 years to collect this money.

 Consent Agenda - (25:20)

A. Approval of Community Relations Council Grant Recommendations for Fall 2012 Agency Project Title Amount Requested Amount Recommended by CRC
Organization - Amount Requested - Amount Budgeted 
Java Journey Recovery Project $1,500 - $0
Council on Adolescence Reproductive Health and Safety Education $1,365 - $1,000
CVCC Multicultural Series Multicultural Program - $1,500 - $1,000
Hickory Community Theatre Bridgeview Project 2013 - $2,500 - $1,000
Women’s Resource Center Women’s Life Transition Services $1,500 - $1,500
Young People of Integrity Making Hickory Home - $2,000 - $1,000
Total Requested by all agencies - $10,365
Total Recommended for funding by CRC - $5,500

B. Call for Public Hearing of required updates to the City of Hickory Sewer Use Ordinance - (Authorize Public Hearing for November 20, 2012) - The City of Hickory is required to operate under a NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources (NCDENR) approved Sewer Use Ordinance due to the size of the Wastewater Treatment Facilities and the presence of Industrial customers on the City of Hickory wastewater system. The adoption of an approved Sewer Use Ordinance is a requirement of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and subsequent revisions. The proposed revisions to the existing City of Hickory Sewer Use Ordinance are to address recent environmental regulation changes. This version of the City of Hickory Sewer Use Ordinance is intended to ensure that the City of Hickory Pretreatment Program operates in compliance with the appropriate State and Federal regulations, A NCAC 2H.0900 and 40 CFR 403 respectively.

C. Approval of “Food for Fines” Amnesty Week at the Library, December 3 – 8, 2012 - Approval of the waiver of overdue fines for library customers who donate canned food items at either Patrick Beaver Memorial Library or Ridgeview Branch Library during the week of December 3-8, 2012. One can or box of food will cancel $1.00 in overdue fines, and donated items will be given to Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry.

*** Removed from the Consent Agenda discussed and voted upon to extend the dates from December 3 through December 8 to December 3 to December 15.

D. Offer to Purchase Property from Lenoir Rhyne University to City of Hickory to purchase approximately .06 +/- acre located at 10 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard NE, PIN 3713-17-01-3455) in the amount of $2,000. - Lenoir Rhyne University (LRU) has presented an offer to purchase approximately .06 +/- acre owned by the City and located at 10 Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard NE. The tract is too small to build upon by the City and it would complete the parcel grouping for LRU if allowed to purchase it. Staff recommends acceptance of the offer to purchase from LRU and authorization to advertise for upset bids. Once the property is advertised, other parties will have ten (10) days to submit upset bids.

E. Special Meeting of Hickory City Council, Wednesday, November 14, 2012 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Hickory Regional Airport. - A special meeting of Hickory City Council to be held on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Hickory Regional Airport Terminal Building Community Room at 3101 9th Ave Drive NW. The purpose of this special meeting is to update City Council on Airport activities in 2012.

F. Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 6
1. To budget a $250 donation in the Parks and Recreation-Recreational Supplies line item. This donation is for the first annual "Bark Bash" event held at Stanford Park.
2. To budget a $5,000 insurance claim check from Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company in the Parks and Recreation Maintenance and Repair of Buildings line item. This insurance claim check is payment less deductible for damage to the Air Conditioning unit on Neil Clark Recreation Center.
3. To budget $762 of General Fund Miscellaneous Revenue in the Fire Department Departmental Supply line item. These funds were received from Mountain Recycling, Inc. for the sale of scrap metal from the shop.
4. To appropriate $206 for the month of September 2012 of Local Government Revenue and budget in the Police Department Overtime line item. This revenue is payment from Catawba County Mental Health for a portion of an Officers time spent when accompanying involuntary commitment patients.
5. To appropriate $54,910 of General Fund Balance (Funds reserved from the State of North Carolina Un-Authorized Substance Tax revenue) and budget in the Police Department's Capital Vehicles line item ($50,850) and Maintenance and Repair of Vehicles line item ($4,060). This amendment is necessary to purchase 10 new in-car cameras to replace obsolete existing in-car cameras. Parts cannot be found and the software is no longer supported. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the State and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.
6. To appropriate $75,000 of General Fund Balance (Funds reserved from the US Department of Treasury) and budget in the Police Department's Capital Improvements line item. This amendment is necessary to pay for the first phase of the renovation on the home located at 222 3rd Street SW, (Contiguous to HPD Headquarters property) which was purchased by the City in 2011. The first phase includes grading, concrete, tree removal, siding of the home, removal of the awning, dormer addition, porch columns replacement, interior cosmetic work, electrical additions, roof replacement, phone and other low voltage wiring, lighting, exit exterior stair replacement, landscaping and fence. Renovations will allow more office space for the Police Department and could have an occupancy of 10-15 personnel. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the US Department of Treasury and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.
7. To budget a $308 transfer of unused revenue from the Vision 100 Block Grant Project to the General Fund-Appropriated Fund Balance. This amendment is necessary to close the capital project and return $308 of unspent monies to the General Fund.
8. To budget a $200,000 check from the State of North Carolina Department of Commerce (One North Carolina Fund) in the Economic and Community Development Incentives line item. This check is the second and final payment to CheckFree Services Corporation (Fiserv). A grant was approved by the Department of Commerce One North Carolina Fund in the amount of $800,000. CheckFree Services Corporation has previously met requirements to receive payments in the amount of $600,000. This payment represents the final grant disbursement.
G. Grant Project Ordinance Amendment No. 2
1. To budget $301 of Retained Earnings in the Vision 100 Block Grant Project and to transfer a total of $308 ($301 Retained Earnings and $7 in Miscellaneous Capital) to the General Fund. This transfer is necessary to close the Vision Block Grant Project and return the remaining $308 of unexpended funds to the original funding source.
H. Grant Project Ordinance No. 4
1. To budget $400,000 for two ($200,000) Community-wide Brownfield Assessment Grants through the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 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. The funds will be used to perform Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments along with cleanup, redevelopment planning at selected sites and may be used for public outreach and community involvement. The grants will last from October 2012 through September 2015.

Informational Items
A. Report of Mayor Rudy Wright travel to North Carolina League of Municipalities, Charlotte, NC on October 22, 2012 (registration - $330.00, gas and parking - $80.38)

B. Report of City Manager Mick Berry travel to ICMA Annual Conference, Phoenix, Arizona on October 7 -10, 2012 (room - $727.20, per diem - $247.50, airfare - $302.00, parking and cabs - $125.50, registration fee - $620.00)

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Quarterly Financial Report (30:30) - Warren Wood Presentation. Part of Warren's presentation is laid out above in relation to the 2011-12 Financial Statements.
Approval of a Resolution to the North Carolina General Assembly in support of the extension of Transitional Hold Harmless Revenues from the State of North Carolina to negatively affected local governments.

*** Property tax collections are $500,000 less than they should be. Bills went out late from the county and that may have caused this issue. The City is down $2.2 million versus the 5 year average of just over $1 million. some of this is thrown off by the missing $500,000, but the revenues are definitely off.

Loss of $84 million in tax base 1.8%, which translates to $421,000 in lost revenue.

Consistent losses in building permits.

A resolution was passed Unanimously by the City Council to ask the State legislature to extended this "Hold Harmless" transitional money. Cities with the largest Industrial bases were hit hardest. This is the 10th year and Hickory stands to lose $300,000 of budgeted revenues. Warren stated that we can not afford to lose this money. They tried to do this last year and it was unsuccessful. Hickory has joined other Municipalities in lobbying to extend these payments.

Matters not on the Agenda
*** Manager Berry asked the City Council to approve 8 days (3 - 1 day and 1 - 5 day) of vacation time to be raffled off at the City's Annual Employee Appreciation day. This was unanimously approved by City Council.

*** Alderman Lail spoke about a situation related to demolitions and surrounding properties. He talked about the dynamics with the county waving tipping fees and the city encouraging demolitions. He said it might be something as simple as wetting down the site. Manager Berry stated that he would direct staff to look into the matter. These demolitions cited were private demolitions and there are no ordinances related to this. If the city demolishes structures he stated that the city (administratively has decided that they will take care of this. The City is currently researching the issue. Council unanimously voted to direct the staff to look into this issue.