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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- April 28, 2013

Volkswagen layoffs (500) in Chattanooga marked by surprise, regret - - Mike Pare - April 19th, 2013 - Jason Hamilton, a contract worker at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant for the past 20 months, said Thursday he had quit a higher-paying job so he could assemble cars at the factory.                   "I thought it was going to be a better opportunity," said Hamilton, who learned he is one of about 500 VW plant employees being laid off.                  The automaker told contract employees supplied by Aerotek that it is cutting 15 percent of the workforce. VW uses the staffing agency to screen, hire and provide temporary production jobs in the plant.                 VW executives blamed slower-than-expected growth in Passat sales and said they're doing away with a third production shift at the factory.                "We had too high expectations," said Frank Fischer, who heads VW in Chattanooga.                  The layoffs are set to start at the end of May.                      Fischer said the Passat exceeded sales targets for eight to 12 months after the factory started assembly in 2011. A little more than a year ago, plant officials said they planned to add 800 employees to keep up with demand for the Passat.                He said that projecting sales and production is "always like looking in a crystal ball."                   Still, he said, the company expects 2013 Passat sales to exceed last year's by about 5 percent. The company sold more than 117,000 Chattanooga-made Passats last year, and it set an all-time record for the vehicle in the U.S. The plant produced 150,000 cars in 2012.                   But, Fischer said, officials saw a trend of slowing growth in Passat sales late in 2012 and tried to avoid layoffs by reducing the number of production days.                    In the end, though, it wasn't enough.                     "We were very hesitant to lay off anyone," he said. But, "we have to adjust."

America The Fallen: 24 Signs That Our Once Proud Cities Are Turning Into Poverty-Stricken Hellholes - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael - April 23rd, 2013 - What is happening to you America?  Once upon a time, the United States was a place where free enterprise thrived and the greatest cities that the world had ever seen sprouted up from coast to coast.  Good jobs were plentiful and a manufacturing boom helped fuel the rise of the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet.  Cities such as Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Baltimore were all teeming with economic activity and the rest of the globe looked on our economic miracle with a mixture of wonder and envy.  But now look at us.  Our once proud cities are being transformed into poverty-stricken hellholes.  Did you know that the city of Detroit once actually had the highest per-capita income in the United States?  Looking at Detroit today, it is hard to imagine that it was once one of the most prosperous cities in the world.  In fact, as you will read about later in this article, tourists now travel to Detroit from all over the globe just to see the ruins of Detroit.  Sadly, the exact same thing that is happening to Detroit is happening to cities all over America.  Detroit is just ahead of the curve.  We are in the midst of a long-term economic collapse that is eating away at us like cancer, and things are going to get a lot worse than this.  So if you still live in a prosperous area of the country, don't laugh at what is happening to others.  What is happening to them will be coming to your area soon enough.                The following are 24 signs that our once proud cities are turning into poverty-stricken hellholes...

America: #1 In Fear, Stress, Anger, Divorce, Obesity, Anti-Depressants, Etc. - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael, on April 22nd, 2013 - The United States is a deeply unhappy place.  We are a nation that is absolutely consumed by fear, stress, anger and depression.  It isn't just our economy that is falling apart - the very fabric of society is starting to come apart at the seams and it is because of what is happening to us on the inside.  The facts and statistics that I am going to share with you in this article are quite startling.  They are clear evidence that America is a nation that is an advanced state of decline.  We are overwhelmed by fear, stress and anxiety, and much of the time the ways that we choose to deal with those emotions lead to some very self-destructive behaviors.  Americans have experienced a standard of living far beyond the wildest dreams of most societies throughout human history, and yet we are an absolutely miserable people.  Why is this?  Why is America #1 in so many negative categories?  Why are we constantly looking for ways to escape the pain of our own lives?  Why are our families falling apart?  There is vast material wealth all around us.  So why can't we be happy?                  Just look around you.  Are most of the people around you teeming with happiness and joy?  Sadly, the truth is that most Americans are terribly stressed out.  Yeah, many of them may be able to manage to come up with a smile when they greet you, but most of the time they are consumed by internal struggles that are eating away at them like cancer.                    So why is this happening?  Is modern life structured in a way that is fundamentally unhealthy?                Below I have posted a short excerpt from a message that one of Charles Hugh Smith's readers named Kenneth Daigle recently sent to him.  I think that it does a good job of describing the incredible stress that many people contend with on a daily basis...

Doctor: 'I gave up on health care in America' - CNN Money - Parija Kavilanz - April 26, 2013 - ...   "Primary care is highly respected here. That's not the case anymore in America," said Snyder. "In the United States, health care has become more about the business of making money. The personal side of medicine is going away."                     In fact, Snyder said he wouldn't be surprised if more primary care doctors in the U.S. look for opportunities elsewhere. His own contract expires at the end of June but he's renewing it for another two years..

Rich got richer during the recovery, and rest got poorer, study says - Life Inc. on Today - Allison Linn - April 24, 2013 - The nation’s richest American households generally gained wealth during the first two years of the economic recovery, a new research report finds, while most American households saw their net worth drop.                The report, released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, found that the mean net worth for the 7 percent of American households at the top of the wealth distribution rose by 28 percent between 2009 and 2011, the most recent data available.                    Meanwhile, the mean net worth for the other 93 percent of American households fell by 4 percent during that period, according to Pew’s analysis of Census data.           Overall, the aggregate net worth for all American households rose between 2009 and 2011. But Pew’s more detailed analysis showed that the gains were concentrated among the wealthiest Americans, and the wealth gap increased during that time.

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever - The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There's no price the big banks can't fix - Rolling Stone - Matt Taibbi - APRIL 25, 2013 -
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world's largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.               You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets."                           That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.                Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It's about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.                       It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture....

JPMorgan Accounts For 99.3% Of The COMEX Gold Sales In The Last Three Months - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden - April 26, 2013 - Submitted by Mark McHugh from Across The Street  - Jamie Dimon Has Issues - When just one firm accounts for 99.3% of the physical gold sales at the COMEX in the last three months it’s not what most of us on this side of the rainbow would consider “broad-based” selling.  Of course discovering this kind of relevant information requires an internet connection, 2nd grade math and reading skills, and the desire to do a teeny-weeny bit of reporting.  Sadly they’ve wandered so far down the rabbit hole that the concept of “physical demand” (i.e. people actually wanting to take possession of the stuff) is puzzling to them because the vast majority of the world’s so-called “gold-trading” takes place in the realm of make believe (which is their natural habitat).  It’s all fun and games until somebody loses their metal and “somebody” has lost one hell of a lot of metal in the last 90 days.                        This is the CME Group’s COMEX metals issues and stops year-to-date report, which can be found here everyday for free.  It chronicles the physical delivery notices of various metals, including gold.  Let’s have a look:




Thursday, April 25, 2013

CEG seeks answers from the City of Hickory in relation to Rebecca Inglefield vs. Hickory Inc.

Rebecca Inglefield gets deferred prosecution with No Admission of Guilt

No Admission of Guilt. Prohibited from Whitener Building for one year. And has to do 24 hours of community service.

The City tried to force her to admit guilt and wanted her disbarred as an Attorney in North Carolina.

More to come including statements from the Inglefields and the Citizens for Equity in Government.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rebecca Inglefield Trial Tomorrow Morning at 9am - (4/25/2013)

Attorney Rebecca Inglefield's trial vs Hickory Inc. will be in the morning at 9am in Hickory District Court Room A. Rebecca's supporters will be gathering at 8:30am at the Courthouse. We'd like for you to be there if you can.

Statement by Rebecca Inglefield about her arrest at City Hall - September 13, 2012

They gonna Arrest you!!!

Rebecca Inglefield had the audacity to follow the rules!!!

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 1, 2012 -- Rebecca Inglefield requests items F & G be removed from the Agenda

Monday, April 22, 2013

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- April 21, 2013

10 Signs The Takedown Of Paper Gold Has Unleashed An Unprecedented Global Run On Physical Gold And Silver - Economic Collapse Blog - Michael - April 18th, 2013 - The crash of the price of paper gold on Monday has unleashed an unprecedented global frenzy to buy physical gold and silver.  All over the planet, people are recognizing that this is a unique opportunity to be able to acquire large amounts of gold and silver at a bargain price.  So precious metals dealers now find themselves being overwhelmed with orders in the United States, in Canada, in Europe and over in Asia.  Will this massive run on physical gold and silver soon lead to widespread shortages of those metals?  Instead of frightening people away from gold and silver, the takedown of paper gold seems to have had just the opposite effect.  People just can't seem to get enough physical gold and silver right now.  Those that wish that they had gotten into gold when it was less than $1400 an ounce are able to do so now, and it is absolutely insane that silver is sitting at about $23 an ounce.  If the big banks continue to play games with the price of gold, we are going to see existing supplies of physical gold and silver dry up very quickly.  And once reports of physical shortages of gold and silver become widespread, it is going to absolutely rock the financial world.  But this is what happens when you manipulate free markets - it often has unintended consequences far beyond anything that you ever imagined.                         The following are 10 signs that the takedown of paper gold has unleashed an unprecedented global run on physical gold and silver...

History Tells Us That A Gold Crash + An Oil Crash
- Guaranteed Recession - Michael - April 17th, 2013

eBay Starts Massive Push Against Sales Tax
- CNBC - April 21, 2013 - EBay Chief Executive John Donahoe began emailing millions of users of the company's online marketplace on Sunday in an unprecedented lobbying effort to change looming Federal sales tax legislation.                        The e-commerce giant plans to send emails from Donahoe to at least 40 million eBay users, including most sellers on the marketplace. The first messages were sent out Sunday morning.                    In the emails, Donahoe said the legislation, known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, unfairly burdens small online merchants and asked eBay users to send an email message to members of Congress asking for changes.                     The legislation, due to be voted on by the Senate in coming days, gives states the power to compel retailers outside their borders to collect online sales tax. Currently, states can only require merchants with a physical presence within their borders to collect.                    The legislation includes an exemption for merchants that generate less than $1 million in annual out-of-state revenue.                  Donahoe argued in the emails that merchants with less than $10 million in annual out-of-state sales, or fewer than 50 employees, should be exempt. Reuters viewed copies of the emails.                        In emails to eBay sellers, Donahoe singled out, eBay's main rival, which supports the current legislation.                       "This legislation treats you and big multi-billion dollar online retailers - such as Amazon - exactly the same," Donahoe wrote. "Those fighting for this change refuse to acknowledge that the burden on businesses like yours is far greater than for a big national retailer."                       Amazon generates more than $10 million in sales every 90 minutes, giving the world's largest Internet retailer more resources than a typical small merchant to collect sales tax in all states, Donahoe argued....

GM to add four more plants in China by 2015: executive - Reuters through Yahoo - Bernie Woodall and Norihiko Shirouzu - April 20, 2013 - SHANGHAI (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) will add four new plants in the next three years in China to bring its production capacity to 5 million vehicles a year, the head of GM China said on Saturday at the Shanghai auto show.                 Bob Socia, head of GM China, said that the company and its joint venture partners will invest $11 billion in China by 2016, but did not break out the cost of the new plants.

3 reasons the housing recovery may not last - CNN Money - Les Christie - April 18, 2013 - The housing market has made a big comeback over the past year; home prices have surged some 8% and homebuyers can't seem to buy up properties fast enough.                 But just as quickly as the market is gaining ground, some industry experts worry it will come crashing back to Earth. Here are three reasons the housing market recovery may not last:
1. The housing recovery is being led by investors...
2. The economic recovery is just not strong enough yet...
3. Government cuts will hurt homeowners...

Google Fiber to launch in Provo, Utah - CNN Money - Julianne Pepitone - April 17, 2013 - Google Fiber is branching out yet again. Google's ultra-high-speed network is slated to come to Provo, Utah.                     Google Fiber offers Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, which Google says is 100 times faster than the average American Internet user's service. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) also offers a Fiber TV service that lets customers watch all shows in HD, record up to eight shows at once and store up to 500 hours of HD video in the cloud. Customers can watch across several devices, including cell phones and PCs.                                 The Google-Provo deal isn't finalized quite yet. Google said in a blog post that the company has signed an agreement to buy iProvo, an existing fiber-optic network owned by the city.                         Provo's city council will vote on Google's iProvo purchase next Tuesday. If it's approved, Google said it will "upgrade the network to gigabit technology and finish network construction so that every home along the existing iProvo network would have the opportunity to connect to Google Fiber."                    Assuming that the iProvo purchase passes, Provo will be the third location to get Google Fiber. It will technically be the fourth city to receive access, after Google launched the service last summer in select neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. Earlier this month, Google announced Fiber is also coming to Austin, Texas.

Intel offers more evidence of PC decline - CNN Money - James O'Toole - April 16, 2013 - In the midst of plunging PC sales, chipmaker Intel is doing its best to remain optimistic.               Intel reported another decline in chip sales for PCs as part of its first-quarter results on Tuesday, with revenue from that business falling 6% compared to a year ago. The news comes just a few days after research firm IDC reported that worldwide PC sales plunged 14% last quarter -- the worst yearly decline since IDC began tracking the data in 1994.               Intel's overall revenue fell 2.5% compared to last year, to $12.6 billion, and its net income dropped 25%, to $2 billion.
The company tried to draw investors' attention toward one of its bright spots: its growing in its data center business, where sales rose nearly 8% from last year, to $2.5 billion. Intel (INTC, Fortune 500) also offered solid guidance for the upcoming quarter. Shares rose slightly in after-hours trading Tuesday.                       Intel's results come as the PC industry continues to struggle against the rise of tablets like Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPad and other mobile devices. Intel and its rivals have tried to innovate their way out of their sales slump, but so far to little avail..

CEOs earn 354 times more than average worker - CNN Money - Jennifer Liberto - April 15, 2013 - Chief executives of the nation's largest companies earned an average of $12.3 million in total pay last year -- 354 times more than a typical American worker, according to the AFL-CIO.                 The average worker made $34,645 last year, according to the group that represents over 50 trade unions.                       Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) CEO Larry Ellison's $96.1 million pay package topped the list, followed by $54.3 million earned by Credit Acceptance Corp (CACC).'s Brett Roberts and Discovery Communications (DISCA) CEO David Zaslav's $50 million, according to the union's pay project.                     The one stand out was Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) CEO Timothy Cook, whose pay dropped to $4.2 million from $376 million in 2011, when his compensation package got a boost from long-term stock awards.                      The dip in Cook's pay was enough to lower the overall average for CEOs of top companies by 5% from 2011.                         Related: 20 top-paid CEOS                   The discrepancy in pay between CEOs and the average worker has skyrocketed over the years, peaking in 2000, when the gap was 525 times. In 1980, CEO pay was 42 times that of the average worker.

Fewer businesses provide health insurance - CNN Money - Jose Pagliery - April 15, 2013 -

Employee health insurance is on the decline, and for small businesses, it's gone from bad to worse.                  The share of small companies providing insurance plummeted from 47% to 38% between the years 2000 and 2011, according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.                     The proportion of all companies offering insurance slid from 59% to 52%.                            Annual premiums paid by individuals doubled from $2,490 to $5,081, while family premiums rose even more, from $6,415 to $14,447.                    As a result, fewer companies are offering health insurance, and fewer employees are taking it.                        The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation defined a small business along new health reform guidelines: those with fewer than 50 employees. The organization is a long-time supporter of health care reform.

US desperately hides rising Poverty

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of April 16, 2013

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 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.

City Website has changed - Here is a link to the City of Hickory Document Center

All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link:

City Council Meeting Agenda -April 16, 2013 (7MB)

Invocation by Rev. Whit Malone, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church

Special Presentations
A. (2:40) - Business Well Crafted Award to Skipper Smith, Catawba Paper Box - Alan Jackson Presentation from the Business Development Committee -

Persons Requesting to Be Heard

(11:10) Cliff Moone - Speaks about the video taping of meetings and speaks about already being recorded in relation to expanding knowledge of City Council. He also asked that bathrooms be opened to the public for the "Bloody Sunday" March taking place on April 20, 2013.

(13:00) Angela Hurd - City of Refuge Community Development Center, which is a Mission for Children in the community. Utilizes Ridgeview Parks and Recreation Building. It is an after school and summer program that has helped 250 children since its inception.

(16:25) Steve Ivester - Speaking on the State changing Economic Development Regions and Zones. Endorses City Council's Consent Agenda A, which is a Resolution Recommended by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments Policy Board Regarding the State Designation of Regions for Provision of Services. (If you care about Economic Development in the area, then this is an excellent summary of the crossroads that Hickory is at when it relates to Economic Development).

(22:25) Larry Pope - He spoke about his involvement in reporting and the actions taken relating to the materials illegally sold to recycling centers from the demolished city swimming pools a couple years ago. He would like to see a Citizen's Review Board instituted in Hickory.  He also asked that the bathrooms be opened to the public for the "Bloody Sunday" March taking place on April 20, 2013. Another group has been allowed to utilize City facilities for Church, he wants all groups to be treated equally.

Consent Agenda: (30:40)
A. Approval of a Resolution Recommended by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments Policy Board Regarding the State Designation of Regions for Provision of Services.  - Proposed legislation (Senate Bill 127 and House Bill 356) divides our region and many of the other Council of Government (COG) regions in the State. Any division of the State should utilize the COG regions. Since only seven State regions are proposed, the new State regions should include multiple COG regions but not divide any COG regions.

B. Approval of a Resolution in Support of the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. -  The proposed state budget reduces the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) to $15.5 million from $27.5 million and also removes its dedicated source of funding. The North Carolina Recreation and Park Association has requested that all local governments consider and approve a resolution in support of continued and dedicated funding of the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and, that a copy of the resolution be sent to each of the members of the General Assembly representing the citizens of Hickory.

C. Call for a Public Hearing – Voluntary Satellite Annexation of 2.67 Acres of property located at 3254 South NC Hwy 127, Hickory (Authorize Public Hearing for May 7, 2013)

 D. Approval to Apply for a Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant to Purchase Twenty (20) In-Car Digital Cameras at a Cost of $120,000. - A standard marked Hickory Police Vehicle is equipped with a specialized Mobile Video In-Car Camera for all new police vehicles. Life expectancy will be five (5) to ten (10) years on the in-car cameras. These cameras can be reinstalled in new vehicles as required. The digital video recording system is to be installed in police vehicles at an estimated cost of $6,000 per in-car camera. If awarded the grant for twenty (20) digital video in car cameras at a cost of $120,000 the portion Governor’s Highway Safety Grant would match is $60,000. The City portion would be $60,000. Along with installing in-car cameras in new police vehicles, these cameras will replace any camera no longer working or supported by a vendor.

E. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 17
1. To budget a $1,500 donation from the Hickory Elks Lodge in the Parks and Recreation-Recreation Supplies line item for the 2013 Easter Egg Hunt. The City of Hickory's Park and Recreation Department coordinates this annual event.
2. To budget $6,200 of Parks and Recreation donations in the Parks and Recreation Departmental Supplies line item. These donations are Senior Games Sponsorships.
3. To appropriate $2,128 of Community Block Grant reimbursement revenues and transfer to the General Fund-Capital Improvements line item. These funds are necessary to pay for the permits, lighting and curb mix needed for the 400 Block of South Center Street paving project.
4. To appropriate $31,364 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 Improvements line item. This amendment is necessary to purchase the materials, including asphalt and concrete, for the parking lot located at 222 3rd St. SW, (Contiguous to HPD Headquarters property). The materials are necessary to grade, shape, pave, curb and gutter, storm drains, catch basins, trenching for data and phone lines, lighting and pole, fencing and repair disturbed areas of landscaping. The parking area will provide 48 additional spaces for parking and will connect to the existing parking lot of HPD. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the State and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.

Informational Items (30:55)
A. Report of Mayor Wright’s travel to Town Hall Day in Raleigh, NC on March 26-27, 2013 (Meals - $61.50; Mileage Reimbursement $189.84; Lodging - $101.48; Registration $35)

New Business -  Public Hearings
1. (31:40) Consideration of the City of Hickory’s 2013 Community Development Block Grant Budget and Action Plan. - The City of Hickory will receive approximately $272,574 in 2013 through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and approximately $160,400 in program income for a total of $432,974. Funds will be used to develop stronger communities by providing decent housing, creating suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities, principally for people of low and moderate incomes. The Annual Action Plan is a yearly update to the City of Hickory's 5 Year Consolidated Plan. The Consolidated Plan is a 5-year strategic vision for housing and community development needs within the City. The Annual Action Plan sets priorities among these needs and sets out the action plan for use of available funds on a yearly basis. This provides for flexibility in determining priorities as the needs of the community change from year to year. The Annual Action Plan will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on May 15, 2013 as the City's strategy for administering 2013 federal funds for community development and housing. This public hearing was advertised on April 5, 2013 and April 16, 2013 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area.


*** Steve Ivester asked about the numbers above not adding up and it was eventually stated bu Brian Frazier that the numbers for the Bathroom Facility at Kiwanis had been accidentally omitted.

*** Larry Pope spoke and stated that he is concerned about the same groups constantly getting grants from the city. He specifically spoke about Exodus Homes and said that groups receive money at their inception, but eventually they should be weened. He has spoken about this over the last few years.

The Hound agrees with Larry Pope and many other Citizens in this community that the same groups should not be constantly receiving this Federal money year after year. I do think that there are many worthy groups in the community and many don't receive any funding. There needs to be a discussion a thorough discussion about this issue in this community.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. (44:55) Quarterly Financial Report -Presentation by Assistant City manager Warren Wood

* Will avoid third straight year of tax base decline
* Most other revenues are stable Multiple opportunities for financial partnerships to improve and/or upgrade City owned facilities
* General Fund Debt Free in 8 years = capacity
* Water and Sewer Fund on solid financial footing
* Airport Self Supporting

The Hound thinks that the city needs to look from a perspective of the citizenry every once in a while, in contrast to the effects on Hickory Inc.'s bottom line. Let's look at all of this in relation to the citizen's cost of living and a business's cost of doing business. I understand the need to look at aggregate revenues and related growth, but the city's financial health has very little to do with its tax base and a whole lot more to do with income growth and wealth (profits) of its citizenry and its businesses and its citizens' ability to pay taxes.  Income - Expenses = wealth (profit). Expenses are continuing to increase, while revenues have flatlined and wealth is shrinking.

As far as Hickory Inc.'s worries in relation to the State's proposed tax changes, This City Council seems to believe that a North Carolina State Sales Tax Increase is Regressive and Unfair? But then this same City Council believes a Hickory City Sales Tax instituted upon prepared foods is Good and Progressive? You know that doesn't make sense. I can't wait to hear them try to explain their way out of that one.

Mrs. Fox is correct about consumption being down and those effects upon these Sales Tax revenues. Increasing sales taxes (a regressive tax) in a bad economy will not increase revenues. They also need to look at citizen's opting out through a barter economy and black market activities. We cannot move towards eliminating taxes upon the wealthy with hopes that it will make us more competitive. The key should be to broaden the base, make taxes more equitable percentage wise, take the loopholes out of the system, and get it to where people have skin in the game in relation to how they benefit from the system. Whenever people look for someone else to pay besides themselves, then you land exactly where we are today.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- April 14, 2013

Assault On Gold Update — Paul Craig Roberts - April 13, 2013 - I was the first to point out that the Federal Reserve was rigging all markets, not merely bond prices and interest rates, and that the Fed is rigging the bullion market in order to protect the US dollar’s exchange value, which is threatened by the Fed’s quantitative easing. With the Fed adding to the supply of dollars faster than the demand for dollars is increasing, the price or exchange value of the dollar is set up to fall.                        A fall in the dollar’s exchange rate would push up import prices and, thereby, domestic inflation, and the Fed would lose control over interest rates. The bond market would collapse and with it the values of debt-related derivatives on the “banks too big too fail” balance sheets. The financial system would be in turmoil, and panic would reign.                                 Rapidly rising bullion prices were an indication of loss of confidence in the dollar and were signaling a drop in the dollar’s exchange rate. The Fed used naked shorts in the paper gold market to offset the price effect of a rising demand for bullion possession. Short sales that drive down the price trigger stop-loss orders that automatically lead to individual sales of bullion holdings once their loss limits are reached.                             According to Andrew Maguire, on Friday, April 12, the Fed’s agents hit the market with 500 tons of naked shorts. Normally, a short is when an investor thinks the price of a stock or commodity is going to fall. He wants to sell the item in advance of the fall, pocket the money, and then buy the item back after it falls in price, thus making money on the short sale. If he doesn’t have the item, he borrows it from someone who does, putting up cash collateral equal to the current market price. Then he sells the item, waits for it to fall in price, buys it back at the lower price and returns it to the owner who returns his collateral. If enough shorts are sold, the result can be to drive down the market price.                               A naked short is when the short seller does not have or borrow the item that he shorts, but sells shorts regardless. In the paper gold market, the participants are betting on gold prices and are content with the monetary payment. Therefore, generally, as participants are not interested in taking delivery of the gold, naked shorts do not need to be covered with the physical metal.                         In other words, with naked shorts, no physical metal is actually sold.

Why Are The Banksters Telling Us To Sell Our Gold When They Are Hoarding Gold Like Crazy? - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael - April 10th, 2013 

100 Years Old And Still Killing Us: America Was Much Better Off Before The Income Tax - Michael - April 14th, 2013 -  Did you know that the greatest period of economic growth in American history was during a time when there was absolutely no federal income tax?  Between the end of the Civil War and 1913, there was an explosion of economic activity in the United States unlike anything ever seen before or since.  Unfortunately, a federal income tax was instituted in 1913, and this year it turned 100 years old.  But there was no fanfare, was there?  There was no celebration because the federal income tax is universally hated.  Sadly, most Americans just assume that there is no other option to an income tax.  Most Americans just assume that it has always been with us and that it will always be with us.  This year, the American people will shell out approximately $4.22 trillion in state and federal income taxes.  That amount is equivalent to approximately 29.4 percent of all income that Americans will bring in this year, and that does not even take into account the dozens of other taxes that Americans pay each year.  At this point, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long, and those that are honest and pay their taxes every year are being absolutely shredded by this system.  But wouldn't the federal government go broke if we didn't have a federal income tax?  No, actually the truth is that the federal government did just fine before there was an income tax.  In fact, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger since the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve were created by Congress back in 1913.  As I have written about previously, the Federal Reserve system was actually designed to trap the United States in a debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape, and the federal income tax was needed to greatly expand the size of the federal government and to soak the American people of the funds necessary to service that debt.  But it doesn't have to be this way.  America was once much better off before the income tax and the Federal Reserve were created, and we could easily go to such a system again...

Fed doves play down threat of U.S. inflation - Reuters - Jonathan Spicer and Alister Bull - April 13, 2013 - Federal Reserve policymakers went out of their way on Saturday to play down the risk that aggressive measures to bolster the U.S. economy would lead to inflation in the future, in a clear signal of support for its ongoing actions to spur growth.                    The U.S. central bank last month maintained a controversial program of buying $85 billion of bonds a month, while pledging to keep interest rates near zero until unemployment hits at least 6.5 percent, so long as inflation stays under 2.5 percent.                          Two of the central bank's most dovish officials - Chicago Federal Reserve boss Charles Evans and Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota - pushed back against recent signals from Fed hawks who want to taper those bond purchases.                   "Without signs of actual inflation, many inflation-risk discussions ultimately raise this specter of ... unlocking the long-ago-vanquished inflation demons from the dungeon," said Evans, a voting member of the Fed's policy committee this year.

Producer prices post biggest drop in 10 months - Reuters - April 12, 2013 -  Producer prices recorded their biggest drop in 10 months in March as the cost of gasoline tumbled, according to a government report on Friday that supported the case for the Federal Reserve to maintain its very accommodative monetary policy.                             The Labor Department said its seasonally adjusted producer price index fell 0.6 percent last month, the largest drop since May, after increasing 0.7 percent in February.                             Economists polled by Reuters had expected prices received by the nation's farms, factories and refineries to fall only 0.2 percent.

US STOCKS-Wall St retreats from record on retail data, bank results - Reuters - April 12, 2013 -  U.S. stocks fell on Friday from the previous session's record levels after an unexpected drop in retail sales last month and lackluster results from two major banks.                             The rally that has taken the S&P 500 index more than 11 percent higher this year has made stocks vulnerable to a pullback...                           Data showed retail sales fell 0.4 percent in March, while February's strong gain was revised down slightly. Consumer spending plays a key role in the U.S. economy, accounting for two-thirds of activity.                           Another report showed consumer sentiment fell to a nine-month low in early April amid gloom about the long-term health prospects for the U.S. economy.                             Investors have been rattled by indications economic growth could be softening, particularly after last week's disappointing jobs number, though that has not derailed the market rally so far.                       The advance in equities in recent months was partly buoyed by the Federal Reserve's economic stimulus efforts, and analysts are viewing the first-quarter earnings season as a test for whether those gains are justified by corporate performance.

12 Banks Got the Fed Minutes a Day Early - CNBC - John Carney - April 10, 2013
- It wasn't just Capitol Hill staffers and trade groups that received the Federal Reserve minutes a day early. Many banks and other financial institutions also got an early look at the minutes.                         The U.S. Federal Reserve building is seen in Washington. A list of recipients obtained by CNBC reveals that at least 12 banks, a Wall Street law firm, a hedge fund, and a private equity fund were on the distribution list that got the minutes early.                         The banks included Fifth Third, Citigroup (NYSE:C), UBS, Barclays, U.S.Bank, Goldman Sachs (GS), Wells Fargo (WFC), HSBC, BNP Paribas, BB&T, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and PNC.                    Sullivan & Cromwell, one of the most powerful Wall Street law firms, also got the email.

JC Penney: Can this company be saved? - AP through USA Today - Anne D'Innocenzio - April 9, 2013 - J.C. Penney late Monday brought back former CEO Mike Ullman after Ron Johnson's risky turnaround strategy backfired and led to massive losses and steep sales declines.                 But will Ullman try to save the struggling retailer or just keep the seat warm until the board hires a fireballing successor?                          Penney's board of directors ousted Johnson as CEO Monday after only 17 months on the job and rehired Ullman, 66, who was CEO of the department store chain for seven years until November 2011.                        The announcement came after a growing chorus of critics, including a former Penney CEO, Allen Questrom, called for Johnson's resignation as they lost faith in an aggressive overhaul that included getting rid of most discounts in favor of everyday low prices and bringing in new brands.                        The biggest blow came Friday from Ullman's strongest supporter, activist investor and board member Bill Ackman. Ackman had pushed the board in the summer of 2011 to hire Johnson to shake up the retailer's dowdy image. Ackman, whose Pershing Square Capital Management is Penney's biggest shareholder, reportedly told investors that Penney's execution "has been something very close to a disaster."

J.C. Penney can sell Martha Stewart goods
- AP through USA Today - April 12, 2013

Consumer Confidence Plummets To Nine Month Low, Biggest Miss To Consensus On Record - Tyler Durden - April 12, 2013 - Well if this doesn't send the market into all-time record high territory, nothing ever will: seconds ago the UMich Consumer Confidence plummeted from 78.6 to 72.3, on expectations of an unchanged 78.6 print. This was not only a 9 month low in the index, but more importantly the biggest miss to expectations in recorded history! Both conditions (84.8, Exp 89.5, Last 90.7) and expectations (64.2, Exp.70.0, Last 70.8), imploded, with the current conditions number the worst print since July and posting the biggest drop since August 2011. Surely if retail sales was not a sufficient Conviction Buy signal for the Fed, then Consumer Confidence should send Kevin Henry, who is now mainlining a trail mix cocktail of Redbull, Caffeine and Meth, into F5 overdrive. And if that doesn't do it, the final economic miss of the day, Business Inventories which also missed expectations of a 0.4% print, and dropped from 0.9% to 0.1%, the lowest since September 2011 and biggest miss since September 2012, should certainly cement today's 1600+ S&P close.

Clinic For Uninsured Shuts Down Updated - WLOS - Mario Boone - Asheville, NC - April 9, 2013  -  A healtOSh care center that serves uninsured people in Buncombe County is closing. Three Streams Family Health Center has been in operation for 12 years. The clinic's founder, Father Chris Newcomb, tells News 13 that dwindling donations, increasing deficits and ballooning costs forced the closure. Long time patients say they're saddened to see the clinic go. The clinic will remain open on limited hours for the next four weeks to help patients with medical records and prescriptions.

Word of the Day: Unemployment (U3 and U6)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of April 2, 2013

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 4/2/2012 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.

City Website has changed - Here is a link to the City of Hickory Document Center

All materials and maps for this meeting are provide at this link: 

City Council Meeting Agenda -April 2, 2013 (13MB)

Invocation by Cliff Moone

Special Presentations
A.Presentation for National Public Safety Telecommunications Week Presented to Shelley Davis and Nicole Sain, Telecommunicator Supervisors for Hickory Police Department.

B. Proclamation for Fair Housing Month Presented to Lois Leonard from the Board of Realtors.

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
Several people spoke during Citizens Requesting to be Heard on a wide array of topics.

1) (11:30) - Bob Anderson speaks about televising City Council

2) (14:10) - Dr Joseph Inglefield - The need for an Aquatics facility (Link to Transcipt)

3) (19:00) - Slade Kosova - The need for an Aquatics facility

4) (22:35) - James Thomas Shell - Unfair Assessments and Unethical Practices
(Link to Transcipt)

5) (30:05) - David Zagaroli - Public Arts - World Renowned Studio of Clay Structures designed by John Hare

6) (31:40) - John Hare - Official Sculptor for the Olympics in the past and he wants to create a sculpture park here in Hickory.

7) (36:05) - Cliff Moone - Speaks about Video Taping the meetings and speaks about North Carolina House Bill 150. We need to have an educated citizenry. The Legislature is moving towards usurping local government authority.

8) (40:25) - J. Franklin Davis - Speaks about the Gallup-Healthway study and other studies and obesity and health in this community.

Consent Agenda:  
A. Approval of Proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month, April 2013.

B. Approval of Proclamation for Arbor Day, April 20, 2013.

C. Request Approval to Submit a Grant to the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company and the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC), in the amount of $5,000. The City of Hickory Fire Department requests approval to submit a grant to the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company and the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina (IIANC) grant process for acquiring a multi-as detector, an electrical exhaust fan for firefighting operations, and digital camera equipment for fire investigations. The grant request is for $5,000, of which there is no matching fund requirement.

D. Approval of a Partnering Agreement between Catawba County and the City of Hickory for
the Disposal of Household and Commercial Solid Waste. This Agreement states the City will bring all its household and commercial waste it collects within the City limits to the Catawba County landfill for an initial period of five (5) years and automatically renews for one additional five (5) year period unless either party notifies the other to terminate the agreement after the first five (5) year period. Catawba County guarantees the current tipping fees will not increase in any one year by more than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the fees may only be adjusted annually effective July 1 of each year. This Agreement allows for the City to continue to dispose or sell any recycled products as
it deems necessary. The County agrees to receive yard waste from the City at no cost and the City is eligible to receive back from the County ground mulch up to 50% by weight of yard waste delivered to the Coun ty. This partnering agreement gives the County more secure source of waste and it
gives the City a more secure and stable tipping fee structure for the future.

E. Special Event/Activities Application for Music Under the Sails on the Square, Mandy Pitts,
Communications Director and Brand Manager, for May 3, May 10, May 17, May 24, May 31, June 7, June 14, June 21, and June 28, 2013, from 4:00 p.m. To 8:30 p.m. at the Sails on the Square in Downtown Hickory.

F. Special Event/Activities Application for Symphony Under the Sails “A Patriotic Celebration”, Reggie Helton, Western Piedmont Symphony, for June 30, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Sails on the Square in Downtown Hickory.

G. Special Event/Activities - Application for Kontras Under the Sails, Mandy Pitts, Communications Director and Brand Manager, for April 19, 2013 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Sails on the Square in Downtown Hickory.

H. Special Event/Activities Application for Hickory Alive, Amber B. Detter, Hickory Jaycees, for May 31, June 7, June 14, June 21, June 28 and July 5, 2013 from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30p.m. at the City Hall Parking Lot.

I. Request Approval to Close Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Branch Library on Monday, May 20, 2013 and Tuesday, Many 21, 2013. Request approval to close both locations of Hickory Public Library to the public on Monday, May 20, 2013 and Tuesday, May 21, 2013 to provide training for all library staff in all aspects of the new integrated library system (ILS) with The Library Corporation (TLC). The intense training will be conducted by staff of TLC as part
of the contract that City Council approved on February 15, 2013. The new system should launch to the public on May 22, 2013.

J. Capital Project Ordinance Number 1.
1. To accept and budget a $44,000 appropriation from General Fund Balance and to budget $176,000 of Federal Miscellaneous Revenue in the Falling Creek Bridge 3 replacement project. This budget amendment provides a total of $220,000 of funding, 80% at the Federal level and 20% at the Local level, for the projects initial preliminary Engineering work.

K. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 16.
1. To appropriate $88,636 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 Improvements line item. This amendment is necessary to pay for the second phase of the renovation to property located at 222 3rd St. SW, (Contiguous to HPD Headquarters property) which was purchased by the City in 2011. The second phase is to provide additional parking for the renovated HPD office space. The scope of work includes grading and shaping, paving, curb and gutter, storm drains, catch basins, trenching for data and phone lines, lighting and poles for lighting, fencing, and landscaping disturbed areas. The parking area will provide 48 additional spaces for parking and will connect to the existing parking lot of HPD. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the State and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated.

2. To appropriate $202 of General Fund Balance (Funds reserved from the State of North Carolina Un-Authorized Substance Tax revenue) and budget in the Police Department's Non-Inventory line item. This appropriation is to budget necessary funds to cover shipping charges for the Special Operations Team vests and armor plates. Funds are made available to the Police Department from the State and remain in General Fund Balance until appropriated. This amendment is also necessary to decrease the Hickory Police Department’s operational budget by $3,863 of unspent Unauthorized Substances Tax funds and return to General Fund Appropriated Fund Balance.

3. To appropriate $44,000 of General Fund Balance and budget in the Falling Creek Bridge Capital project. This represents the required local matching funds for the initial preliminary engineering project budget for the replacement of Bridge No. 327 located on Falling Creek Road. The North Carolina Department of Transportation agreement provides 80% Federal funding in the amount of $176,000 and requires a 20% Local match of $44,000 for a total of $220,000.

New Business - Public Hearings1. Consider Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and Plan to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing. As an entitlement recipient of Community Development Block Grant Funds, the City of Hickory is required to affirmatively further fair housing in the community. The majority of the actions described in the plan relate to increasing the awareness and education in the community to ensure that all citizens are aware of their rights to fair housing. In addition, the City will take  actions to protect the City’s stock of affordable housing and ensure that all citizens are able to access affordable housing. The public hearing was advertised in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area on March 23, and April 2, 2013.

2. Consider Amendment to the City’s Community Development Block Grant Budget and Action Plan.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Consideration and Approval of a Facility Lease Agreement with Hickory Music Factory, Inc. - The Hickory Music Factory, Inc. is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization for students, teachers, artists and patrons to learn, create and experience all things music. The mission of the Hickory Music Factory is to provide and help preserve music in the community through lessons, performances and outreach programs. The leased facility is a building within Jaycee Park; located at 1515 12th Street Drive NW, which formerly housed the primary administrative offices for the Parks and Recreation Department. The leased facility will be used by the Hickory Music Factory to house its business headquarters and operations. The lease agreement will be for an initial period of five (5) years, with an option to renew for an additional five (5) years. In consideration of the lease, Hickory Music Factory will pay to the City of Hickory an annual rental fee of one dollar per year, payable by January 31st of each year. Hickory Music Factory will have use of the facility daily between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., along with use of the existing parking lot during the same hours. Any alterations, additions and improvements to the leased premises are at the sole expense of Hickory Music Factory. The City of Hickory will be responsible for all structural maintenance and building systems repairs and replacements.

* Hickory Music Factory will have use of the existing parking at the leased premises during operating hours.
* Will be allowed to install an identification sign on the building.

* Any alterations, additions, and improvements to the leased premises aree at the sole expense of Hickory Music Factory.


* Rental Fee is $1.00 per year
* The leased premises will be used by Hickory Music Factory to House is Headquarters and Operations
* Operating Hours will be 7am to 9pm

2. Settlement Offer in the HUD Housing Discrimination Complaints,
Billy Sudderth et. al. vs City of Hickory. - In February of 2013, nine complaints were served electronically on the City from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmeSnt (HUD). All of these complaints allege the City of Hickory, the Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Citizens Advisory Committee engaged in discriminatory housing practices against the complainants on the basis of race. Specifically the complaints allege the following occurred: “Discriminatory terms, conditions, privileges or services and facilities and refusing to provide municipal services. These discriminatory practices allegedly happened when the City demolished the Ridgeview and West Hickory swimming pools despite opposition from the African American community.”

The Hound: Below are the Power Point  Story Boards related to the proceedings regarding this case. Since this case is proceeding forward, we should allow this to play out without much commentary at this time. There are a few items related to the city's response where they have their facts/assumptions wrong. Also, the city has asked frequently how this has anything to do with a Housing case; conveniently, it seems, forgetting HUD's mission related to Urban Development. The issue is that the city is taking Federal funds and they aren't allowing the public to play a role in how those funds are dispersed. The local bureaucracy has its own agenda.