Google Groups
Join To Get Blog Update Notices
Visit the Hickory Hound Group

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Agenda about the City Council meeting of December 3, 2013

This Agenda is about the Hickory City Council meeting that took place on the date listed above. 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. You can also look in the upper right hand corner of the front page of the Hickory Hound and (will soon) find the link to the past history of Hickory City Newsletters.

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
City Council Agenda - December 3, 2013

Invocation by Rev. John Duncan, Pastor Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Senior Chaplain – Hickory
Fire Department

Oaths of Office Ceremony

Recognition of Retiring Ward 5 Alderwoman Sally Fox

Election of Mayor Pro Tempore for Calendar Year 2014 Pursuant to NC General Statute §260A-
70 and Section 2-54 of the Hickory City Code.

Appointment of a City Attorney for Calendar Year 2014 Pursuant to the Hickory City Code, Section 4.151 of the Charter.

Special Presentations
A. Community Appearance Commission’s 2013 Beautification Awards Presentation

Persons Requesting to Be Heard

Consent Agenda:
A. Resolution Certificate of Appreciation Suzette Bradshaw, Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority.

B. Proclamation for Bill of Rights Day, December 15, 2013.

C. Approval to Accept a Grant to Assist in Funding the Purchase of Bulletproof Vests for Police Officers. - Since 1999, the BVP program has reimbursed more than 13,000 jurisdictions, a total of $277 million in federal funds for the purchase of over one million vests. BVP is a critical resource for state and local jurisdictions that saves lives. The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998 was signed as law (Public Law 105-181). The purpose of this act is to save the lives of law enforcement officers by helping States and units of local government equip their law enforcement officer with armor vests. The U.S. Department of Justice is committed to improving officer safety and has undertaken research to review and analyze violent encounters and law enforcement officer deaths and injuries. Due to the increase in the number of law enforcement officer deaths, coupled with our renewed efforts to improve officer safety, beginning with FY 2011, in order to receive BVP funds, jurisdictions must certify, during the application process, that all law enforcement agencies benefitting from the BVP Program have a written "mandatory wear" policy in effect. Hickory Police Department has a mandatory wear policy. This grant will pay 37.10% Federal cost of NIJ approved vests and the City of Hickory portion will be 62.90%. Monies are placed in the police department budget annually to purchase vests for police officers. Life expectancy of each vest is approximately five (5) years. Hickory Police Department requests permission to accept a grant to assist in funding the purchase of bulletproof vests for police officers. The federal share of this grant is $9,350 and the City’s share is $15,850. 

D. Community Relations Council (CRC) Requests Approval for Fall 2013 Grant Recommendations in the Amount of $5,828. - As part of the Community Relations Council work plan and annual budget process, CRC receives funds to disperse during the fiscal year through the CRC grant process. Nonprofit agencies working with diverse populations in Hickory are eligible for grant funding. The grant proposal must show how the program under consideration fits into the CRC goals and mission and how the program will serve to improve human relations in the Hickory area. The Community Relations Council recommends funding of four grants totaling $5,828.00 Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, dental care for those in need, $1,500; Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, “What do I do now?” A bi-lingual guide tolocal services for families with a child with learning disabilities, $1,500; Family Care Center of Catawba Valley, Life Skills Workshops for homeless in shelters, $1,500; and Council on Adolescents, Lunch Buddy Mentoring Program, $1,328.

E. Approval of a Renewal of Agreement between the Western Piedmont Council of Governments and the City of Hickory to Support the Western Piedmont Stormwater Partnership for Phase II Public Education. - The City was issued an NPDES Phase II Stormwater Permit by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources on July 1, 2005. One of the requirements of the permit in the Public Education and Outreach Minimum Measure is that the City develop and implement a pubic education and outreach program to raise public awareness on the causes and impacts of stormwater pollution. This renewal agreement is the result of the establishment of a regionally focused and municipally supported Phase II public education and outreach coalition, the Western Piedmont Stormwater Partnership, which is administered by the Western Piedmont  Council of Government (WPCOG). The activities in this agreement will meet the public education and outreach minimum measures of this section of the NEDES Phase II permit. This agreement would be for the period of October 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. Payment would be in quarterly installments of $2,581.75. Funding for this agreement is available from the current stormwater budget.

F. Acceptance of Offers to Purchase and Contract for Properties Located at 1742, 1743, and 1746 Whitewater Court, in the Waterford Hills Subdivision. - Staff requests consideration of Offers to Purchase and Contract for properties located at 1742, 1743, and 1746 Whitewater Court, in the Waterford Hills Subdivision. The properties were originally purchased by the City because they were on the route of the proposed Southern Cross-Town. The route for the future thoroughfare has since been amended, and the properties are no longer needed. Vale Traian Vasiu and Gelu Vasiu are interested in purchasing these lots in order to construct singe family dwellings. They are offering $15,000 per lot. Notice of Upset Bid was advertised on November 8, 2013 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area. No upset bids were received for the properties.

G. Call for Public Hearing - For the Consideration of Rezoning Petition 13-15 for Property Located at the Northeast Corner of Cloninger Mill Road and North Center Street (NC 127 North).

H. Call for Public Hearing – For the Consideration of Amending Chapter 16 of the Hickory Code of Ordinances of the City of Hickory by Amending Section 16-43. 
Here is the Ordinance to be addressed: 
Sec. 16-43. - Use of unlicensed premises prohibited; exception.permanent link to this piece of content
No secondhand precious metal business shall make use of any property or premises not included within the premises designated in or by the license required by this article for the display of any secondhand article made, in whole or in part, of gold, silver, or platinum or for the conduct of a secondhand precious metal business. This article does not prohibit the storage or safekeeping of any such secondhand article off of the licensed premises.
(Code 1981, § 16-15)

I. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 10.
1. To budget a $400 Friends of the Hickory Library donation in the Programming line item for Senior Programming Supplies.
2. To budget a $4,999 insurance claim payment from Argonaut Great Central Insurance Company in the Parks and Recreation Department Specialized Equipment line item. This payment is for a stolen Club Car from the Field House and will apply towards the cost of a replacement.
3. To transfer $15,850 from the Police Departments Uniform line item to the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant (BVP) budget. The United States Department of Justice awarded the City of Hickory a Federal Grant to pay up to $9,350 (37.10%) of the costs of National Institute of Justice approved vests. The Grant awarded by the Department of Justice requires a local match of $15,850. This Grant will allow the City to purchase 40 vests at $625 and includes shipping costs.
4. To transfer $10,256 of General Fund Contingency to the Economic Incentive line item to fund a total of $45,256 incentives payment to Turbocoating Corporation. The joint economic development agreement between the City of Hickory and Turbocoating Corporation specified improvements to machinery, equipment and fixtures, and the creation and maintaining of specified jobs. Turbocoating Corporation has met the conditions of the agreement.
5. To appropriate $5,500 of Transportation Fund-Appropriated Fund Balance and budget in the Airports Other Professional Services line item. These funds are the remainder of the $20,000 grant from Eastern Aviation and will be used towards covering costs in the Other Professional Services line item.
6. To transfer $605,750 to the appropriate expenditure codes for the purchase of 3 Solid Waste Heavy Equipment Replacement Vehicles which were approved by City Council in the FY13-14 Annual Budget.

J. Grant Project Ordinance Number 4.
1. To accept and budget a $15,850 transfer from the Police Departments Uniforms line item and to budget a $9,350 Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant (BVP) for a total of $25,200. The United States Department of Justice awarded the City of Hickory a Federal Grant to pay up to $9,350 (37.10%) of the costs of National Institute of Justice approved vests and requires a local match of $15,850. This Grant will allow the City to purchase 40 vests at $625 and includes the shipping costs.

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Inspiring Spaces Update - Staff will review the last Inspiring Spaces Steering Committee discussions and outline the next steps.

2. Approval of a Recommendation from Parks and Recreation Commission Establishing a Tobacco Free Parks Policy. - There is a current initiative underway between the Catawba County Public Health Department and the North Carolina Community Transformation Grant Project in a unified effort that would establish tobacco free parks in all local governments within Catawba County. Municipalities in the county currently have smoke free policies in place for buildings. All City of Hickory buildings have been smoke free since 1993. Additionally, discussions have been underway for several years to establish tobacco free grounds policies across the county as well. Staff presented two (2) tobacco free parks policies to the Parks and Recreation Commission for consideration at their October 8, 2013 meeting. The first policy option would prohibit the use of tobacco products in all park areas. The second policy option stipulates that tobacco products may be used only in the paved parking lots located in the parks. Whichever policy is adopted would become effective January 1, 2014.

3. Analysis of City Manager’s Employment Agreement - At the November 19, 2013 City Council meeting, Mayor Wright asked that at the next meeting staff provide explanation of how the City Manager’s pay is determined. The manager will review the employment agreement and salary
history since his employment in August 2004.

Friday, November 29, 2013

We all have to eat a little S***

Today is Corporatocracy Day here in America. Black Friday is a day when people run out to buy things that they don't need... made in countries that support poor labor practices... by people making a couple bucks a day... for Multi-National Corporations paying huge bucks to senior management, while sending the jobs of the vary people who buy their products to those countries that are more than willing to allow them to carry out this treason against the United States.

These corporations have done as much, if not more, damage to the United States as any military could. Look at the infrastructure crumbling. It doesn't necessarily take a bomb to destroy property... and the gullible follow right along.

Please watch the clip below. It is from a movie I enjoyed a lot that came out 7 years ago. The movie is Fast Food Nation (2006) and it is adapted from a book entitled Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (2001). The movie has an All Star cast and though quirky I believe the story is told well.

In this clip, the Bruce Willis character (Harry Rydell) admits to the Greg Kinnear character (Don Anderson) knowing there is fecal matter in the Ground Chuck used to produce the company's top selling burger "The Big One."

How many times do we run across this mindset in our everyday lives. At the end watch as Bruce Willis slaps his belly as if to say, 'I'm full (fat, dumb, and happy). Don't rock the boat Don. I'm on your side until it hits the fan. Then I'll sell you out. Be careful where you tread Donnie Boy.'  He doesn't care if people get sick or what effects this could have on the company. All he cares is that today he gets to be fat, dumb, and happy.

This is the mindset that is killing this country.

***  Had to take the video down due to copyright issues.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - November 28, 2013

How US Picked Date for Thanksgiving - - Cathy Burke - November 27, 2013 - President George Washington was the first to set an official date for Americans to give thanks, but it took politicians 152 years more to get it right.                It wasn't until October 1777 that all 13 colonies celebrated Thanksgiving, but its official commemoration came in 1789, when Washington proclaimed Thursday, Nov. 26 "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer," especially for the chance to form a new nation and its constitution.                        The timing varied in subsequent years, with other presidents trying to switch things to their own liking.                    In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln set a date for Thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, and that worked for the next 75 years.                       In 1939, however, when the last Thursday was also the last day of November, President Franklin D. Roosevelt decided that was too close to Christmas, so he moved the day of thanks to the second Thursday in November.                      Thirty-two states followed suit, but 16 others held out, and for the next two years, the United States celebrated Thanksgiving at two different times.                 Congress stepped in to end the confusion in 1941, passing a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November as the legal day for Thanksgiving.                    The Senate, mindful of the 1939 debacle, amended the resolution to say the fourth Thursday in November, accommodating those years when November has five.                      Roosevelt signed the bill into law on Dec. 26, 1941.

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation - October 3, 1789

Abraham Lincoln, father of the Thanksgiving holiday - USA Today - David Jackson - November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Prayer
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving - Wikipedia - This was a tradition when I was a kid.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Wikipedia - was another Thanksgiving tradition.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Health Care Fiasco on a personal level

Three years ago I went to a Catawba County Chamber of Commerce event about the upcoming "Affordable Care Act". It was more than obvious that people like myself weren't even an afterthought when it came to all of this so called reform. We don't even register.This has never been about affordability. That was a bait and switch for the gullible.

I work in the restaurant business. No owners of such small businesses can afford to furnish health care to their workers. They would have to raise prices by 33 to 50% and people already complain about prices as it is.

When I worked at one of the local Clubs at the turn of the 2000s, we were given full Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, but that all ended after 9/11 when everyone's premiums spiked. So we started paying around 25% of our premium as I recall and dropped a tier in our coverage.

After a couple of years, I decided I wanted to go back to work for my aunt and so I was going to have to get a personal policy. Basically if you work in a small business you are a contract employee without a contract here in North Carolina. Labor laws are a one way street here. My Insurance premium was $107 per month with a $1,000 deductible in 2003.

I am a chef by trade and so I have stayed in the restaurant business and I am pretty much locked into this area because I bought a house back in 2005. The premium amounts on my health insurance have gone up by double digits every year and so to keep it affordable, I eventually had to have the deductible raised to $2,500 and then to $3,500 -- I also have higher out of pocket expenses.

In 2010, my premium had risen to $210/month and that is when I changed the deductible to $3,500. That lowered my premium/month to $138/month for 2011, but the 2012 premium rose to $161/month, and in 2013 I have been paying $181/month. I pay that in after tax dollars, although I do get to take it off my taxes, which probably gets me back about a month's premium. I don't consider putting out over 10% of my income on a product I can't afford to use as being affordable.

Having a degree in finance and twice passing the State Health Insurance Licensing test, I know a thing or two about the Ponzi Scheme/Multi-level Marketing scheme that is the Insurance industry. The Insurance industry is one of the main culprits in this mess. Their lobbyists had major input on writing this legislation. You can thank our bought and paid for legislators, on both sides of the aisle, for the mess we find ourselves in today. They took the money, but of course they don't think they should take any blame.

On September 30, 2013 I received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield in the mail informing me that if I wanted to keep my current policy I could. Oh how fortunate you must think I am after hearing about people losing their current policies. Well I could keep my current policy at.?.?.?.......... $424 per month. Oh, but I could get subsidies... whoopee, everything's gonna be alright. If I'd only pay over $5,000 up front, then they'd send me around $3,500 back with my taxes in **2015**. These people are freaking nuts. Does any of this even make sense?

Now, I received a letter in the mail today informing me, "We understand what you are facing. Now, you can keep your current plan."

What is even funnier is that I had planned on taking care of this today and making a decision whether or not I was going to have health insurance. This has been seeping around in the back of my mind for a couple of months and I didn't want to wait until the very last minute. Well that isn't happening, because when I went to the BCBS website it is under maintenance and says it won't be up until the beginning of December. I will have until December 15 to decide what I want to do.

Where was this understanding a couple months ago when these idiots had to have known that there weren't just glitches, that this is a wholesale fiasco with dead end stops and people's health will truly be in peril as a result of all of this. They took a system of bureaucratic red tape and coated it with super glue.

I'm to the point where I'm most likely going to do without insurance next year. I'm not going to participate in their convolutions. I saw where the "Exchange" policy for me would be $295 per month. I pay that up front and they reimburse me on the backside -- or will that be in the backside bwahahaha! I ain't doing that. I'll just have to gamble and not go to the doctor. Frankly, I think we should all walk away from the system. We need to break these people, because they evidently don't care if they break us. No good businessman treats their customer like this!

And for you Republicans running around peeing in your pants with glee, the status quo isn't working either. If this fiasco were to be repealed, you have offered nothing that will help working class Americans. Health savings accounts do nothing for people like me. Nothing has been done to curtail costs and help with affordability, which businesses can't afford and doesn't allow them to compete against your globalist corporate buddies. Premium costs are going to keep escalating out of site just as they have.

Thank You, but no Thank You for all of this.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Crony Socialism is destroying our society

(from Wikipedia) Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of dirigisme.[1] Crony capitalism is believed to arise when political cronyism spills over into the business world; self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals...       In many cases, the term is used interchangeably with corporate welfare.   

You who support "'friendship' capitalism" are giving critics of capitalism, including socialists and other anti-capitalists, the ammunition that they need to help destroy the free market. You cannot sustain manipulating supply and demand economics. Everything will eventually come back to equilibrium. It will happen outside of existing market dynamics and past history shows that this is what happens. It happened in the Soviet Union with black markets, when people didn't want to wait in lines to get rationed essentials. It happened during the Nixon administration when they tried to institute price and wage controls and inflation started spinning out of control. It is happening now with the gyrations of the housing market and most commodities as the "Too Big to Fail" Banks have been given trillions for virtually free to invest and manipulate markets and are causing our economy to fail.

There are these people in our American society that sit on the fringe of the Republican party who are very intolerant of others. They want to fight everyone and everything. They don't want to personally fight. They seek to have vulnerable people do their fighting. They aren't going to negotiate and build a consensus about anything. They seem to believe that they are 100% in the right and somehow moderating their position to try to move issues forward is always deemed to be a taboo "Compromising of Principles".

At the same time these self described "Patriots" complain about the cultural division in society, they go right along with creating these labels. Real Patriots don't beat their chest. They act. These simplistic labels play right along with those who want to divide and conquer our society. These people are the ones who want to label any Democrat as a socialist. Of course that kind of rhetoric is non-constructive and keeps anything political from moving forward. They are so blinded by their prejudice that they fail to recognize that there is socialism on both sides of the political spectrum.

The leftist socialist paradigm is communism. The rightist socialist paradigm is fascism.  The Communist ideal focuses socialism upon the worker, while the Fascist ideal focuses a social agenda upon  Consolidated Corporate structures being controlled by and through the governmental structure. In a Fascist system, those who control the corporations control the government. A government of, by, and for the corporations.

Communism doesn't work for the same reason that Pure Democracy doesn't work. There has to be some form of representation of the people (workers) and that leads to power structures, so then the reality becomes about those in the power structure and not the workers. Those on the extreme right dismiss any of the marriage between the State and Corporations as just good business and they allow it to run a muck through their perverted ideal of laissez faire economics, which is not, never has been and never will be the reality.

I believe in the free market (free enterprise), but there cannot be a free market without rules. The rules have to be instituted and obeyed by everyone. This might seem to be conflicting, because any rule making/enforcing organization is governmental by nature and the ideal free market system has as few rules as possible.  Rules need to be as simple as possible and wholly enforced. We need to be as Libertarian as possible, while understanding that rules and justice ensure trust.

What we see now is a completely convoluted system of rules that are arbitrarily enforced. There is a lack of trust in our economic structure. We have become a nation where "the elite" take precedence over the law. Those in power have created barriers to entry through this complexity of regulations that keep start-up entrepreneurs from entering the system. This is the reason we have seen a stifling of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. These Corporate socialists want to limit competition and filter everything through their system of control. This is what keeps them in power and the rest of us under their thumbs.

If we are to move forward there has to be a leveling of the playing field. We are operating in a culture of corruption. If we don't immediately institute rules to bring back a system based upon merit, then we are going to see a complete economic collapse. Look! the signs of this implosion are all around you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- November 24, 2013

Fake Employment Numbers – And 5 More Massive Economic Lies The Government Is Telling You - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - November 19th, 2013 - According to a whistleblower that has recently come forward, Census employees have been faking and manipulating U.S. employment numbers for years.  In fact, it is being alleged that this manipulation was a significant reason for why the official unemployment rate dipped sharply just before the last presidential election.  What you are about to read is incredibly disturbing.  The numbers that the American people depend upon to make important decisions are being faked.  But should we be surprised by this?  After all, Barack Obama has been caught telling dozens of major lies over the past five years.  At this point it is incredible that there are any Americans that still trust anything that comes out of his mouth.  And of course it is not just Obama that has been lying to us.  Corruption and deception are rampant throughout the entire federal government, and this has been the case for years.  Now that some light is being shed on this, hopefully the American people will respond with overwhelming outrage and disgust.                              The whistleblower that I mentioned above has been speaking to John Crudele of the New York Post.  In his new article entitled "Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report", he says that the huge decline in the unemployment rate in September 2012 was "manipulated"...

“This Is Really A Symbol Of What’s Going On In This Whole Country. We’re Losing Middle-Class Jobs” - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden's - November 21, 2013 - We wish we could say we didn't warn Boeing's machinists about the key trend taking place in the US economy under the Obama "recovery" but unfortunately we did. Three years ago, to be specific, when we wrote: "Charting America's Transformation To A Part-Time Worker Society" and followed it up with "A "Quality Assessment" Of US Jobs Reveals The Ugliest Picture Yet" in which we explained that while the propaganda machine was fixated on numeric, quantitative, job additions every month, what has subversively going on, was the constant deterioration in the quality of jobs - and specifically the declining wages - available to those Americans who had not rotated outside of the labor force permanently (currently at a record 91.5 million). We say "alas" because it once again took several years before our cautions to be felt by the broader population, in this case the Boeing machinist union struggling to extract a wage increase from its employer: Boeing, whose stock keeps hitting new record highs with every passing day.                   The machinists' lament is well-known to virtually everyone who relies on labor instead of capital to exist: pay us more. Bloomberg reports:
“We need to focus on how many jobs there are that give an adult a chance to earn a decent living,” said Gordon Lafer, an associate professor at the University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center in Eugene. “Too much of the discussion has been about the number of jobs, and that’s obviously important, but there’s also a crisis in the quality of jobs.”
That's ironic: when we said it first three years ago, the mainstream media mocked it. Curious how things change when that hope you once believed in becomes a "zero balance" nightmare at the ATM machine, eh?                       Blame it on the Fed, blame it on globalization, blame it on corporations who have a virtually unlimited labor, cheap and global pool to pick from, but the bottom line is US workers have zero leverage.

Not a genuine housing market recovery - Fox News - David Stockman - Neil Cavuto - November 18, 2013 

The Race to the Bottom - The Hickory Hound - April 29, 2010

Rand Paul: Janet Yellen 'Will Be a Disaster for the Economy' - November 24, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Messages relevant to today - November 23, 2013

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - attributed to Muhatma Gandhi

The Art of Subtlety - difficult to detect or analyze, often through being delicate or highly refined... not immediately obvious or comprehensible.

John Connally speaks about the intolerance and hatred that lead to President Kennedy's death 5 days before. This interview was given on November 27, 1963. (Link to video)

Gerald Celente: Founder & Director of the Trends Research Institute gives an interview to King World News and a sneak peek into his upcoming Autumn Trends Journal. 
(King World News Interview with Gerald Celente - November 20, 2013)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of November 19, 2013

I began recording the City Council late last year, because of my desire that the City do it on their own as any modern 21st century community began doing long ago. I had people tell me that they couldn't make it to the meetings, but they would like to see what is going on. I was also told by some council members that my summaries did not truly reflect the record, so having a video/audio recording cannot be misinterpreted.

So below is the City Council meeting. With each agenda item, you can click on the links and it will take you to that specific point in the meeting. You can always drag the marker on the video display to the point in the broadcast that you are interested in seeing.

Agenda about the City Council meeting of November 19, 2013 

Highlighted Links below take you straight to that point in the video.

Special Presentations
A. (1:55) Presentation of the Business Well Crafted Award by David Gissy of the Business Development Committee, to Dan Causey, President and Doyle Keever, Vice President of Keever’s Key and Repair Service.                      (From City Action Agenda Minutes) -   Mr. David Gissy of the Business Development Committee discussed the purpose of the Business Development Committee. He gave background information on Keever’s Key and Repair Service, which started in 1920 as Hickory Nut Shop on Union Square. He presented the Business Well Crafted Award to Mr. Dan Causey, President of Keever’s Key and Repair Service.                             Mr. Causey thanked everyone for the recognition and the Committee for recognizing Businesses that have been in business for more than 75 years.                 

B. (14:15) Neighborhood College Class Graduation - (From City Action Agenda Minutes) - Mrs. Dana Kaminske, Communications Specialist spoke briefly about Neighborhood College and asked some of the graduates to the podium to speak.                      Mrs. Erin Jones and Mrs. Alicia Hubbard, both City Employees; Ms. Bonita Hawkins, a new resident of the City; and Ms. Peggy Fullwood, a long time resident of the City, shared their experiences with Neighborhood College.                 Mrs. Kaminske, the Mayor, and City Council presented diplomas to the Neighborhood College Class of 2013: Jeff Bartlett, Bari Cooper, Jerisha Farrer, Peggy Fullwood, Juliet Good, Ardellia Hawkins, Bonita Hawkins, Alicia Hubbard, Erin Jones, William Kanupp, Donald Lewis, Reverend Logan, Phil McCaul, Ken O’Neill, Tracy Ray, John Robson, Rebecca Simpson, and Walter Smith.

Persons Requesting to Be Heard (33:45)
Mr. T. Anthony Spearman addressed Council on a Resolution regarding the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He asked the members of the Hickory Branch of the NAACP to the podium to stand with him. He appealed to Hickory City Council, on behalf of the Hickory Branch NAACP, for support of the Resolution and any other action that would prevent the upset of decades of well established practices that help to make sure that voting is fair, and that Council would stand publicly against any act that appears to abridge voting rights and disproportionately affect the voting ability of any minority by encouraging the Congress of the United States of America to fully restore and reactivate the Voting Rights Act of  1965.

The Hound: Always good to see people stand up for their rights... don't expect any of the requested action from this Council. 

Consent Agenda:  
Item A removed from the Consent Agenda and briefly discussed

A. Approval of Resolution to Surplus Library CD/DVD Display Case and to Donate the Case to the Hickory Music Factory, a Local Non-Profit Organization. -  The Library requests approval to surplus a CD/DVD display case that is no longer in use or needed by the Library and to donate the display case to the Hickory Music Factory, a local non-profit organization. Public Notice advertised on November 8, 2013 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area.

Consent Agenda approved Unanimously.

New Business - Public Hearings
1. (47:20) Rezoning Petition 13-12 for Property Located at 1024 and 1030 4th Street NE, as well as Two Vacant Lots - Presentation by Cal Overby. Video shows the Powerpoint presentation

New Business -  Departmental Reports: Presentation by Warren Wood, Asst City Manager - Video shows the Powerpoint presentation

1. a. (57:10) Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Hickory and Hickory Baseball, Inc. regarding Additional Projects to be Under-taken at L.P. Frans. Stadium. - Staff will outline what these projects are and who has responsibility for them. Additionally, there will be a budget amendment to fund the City’s additional projects in the amount of $391,000.

b. (1:13:05) Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 9.  - To provide funding for additional improvement projects at L.P. Frans Stadium as described in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Hickory and Hickory Baseball, Inc. Therefore a $391,000 appropriation of General Fund balance to the L. P. Frans Stadium Capital Improvements line item is necessary.

The Hound: I appreciate having baseball in Hickory. I think having a sports team is good for the city. I don't know what the profitability picture is for the City or for Don Beaver. I've been to a couple of games in the past few years and the attendance definitely isn't what it used to be.

As part of the agreement with the Crawdads, I would have liked to have seen the city secure a certain number of tickets. These tickets could be given to kids that make good grades so that their families could go enjoy a game. Whay not have a couple of games dedicated and promoted as being kid friendly? Kids go to High School football games on Friday nights. Why not have some Young Fridays and/or Saturdays during the summer while school is out? This would be a whole lot better than kids out cruising all night long on the weekends. Have a concert after the game. End it all around midnight.

The Crawdads wouldn't make money off of such an exchange, but it would help to boost awareness of their product and create some enthusiasm. I remember when that stadium was first built that there were concerts there. I'd like to see some more concerts brought to the venue. Thinking outside the box, I wonder if there could be a way to hold a high school football game there. It certainly would be a bigger venue than Hickory High. You could hold the Hickory vs Newton- Conover or Maiden games there and I believe it most certainly would fill the place. I don't know about sodding the infield portion and the expense of that, but it certainly would be nice to see the venue used for more than it is.

I just think we need to look at all of the possibilities. We also need to look at getting some kind of a Return on Investment from this facility to mitigate some of its costs.

General Comments
(1:17:35) Mayor Wright comments about the election.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

John F. Kennedy... a man not saddled by ideology

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered 50 years ago tomorrow. He is looked upon as being a President of distinction and significance even though he served just 1,036 days in office. His death has had a resonance in this country, because he is viewed upon as being struck down in the prime of his life.

Young people related very well with this man. His Presidency was viewed upon as a new era in this country and upon his death we went from an inspirational leader backwards to a hard man, and some would even say a crass man, in Lyndon Johnson who stole hope and ushered in years of fear, control and paranoia that still grip the Presidential office to this day. Six revolutionary seconds in Dallas changed the world forever.

John Kennedy died 966 days before I was born, but he has had a significant impact on my generation -- Generation X. You see we were born into a world of shock. Twenty years after the Greatest World War. Born into a world that could now destroy humankind in hours through the use of Atomic weaponry. We were born amongst the tumult and surrounded by the mayhem of great and significant people being murdered, because "they didn't think right." Think about Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King being murdered, just like JFK, in the prime of their lives.  Think about the lost contributions. Think about how they weren't able to put their own stamp on their own works. Think about what we missed out on.

The public didn't see the Zapruder film until 1975. We see any and every form of video of every situation in life these days. The world now changes so rapidly every day. Many say that the United States lost its innocence after that day in Dallas. I think what they mean to say is that the people lost their naivete after that event and the subsequent events that followed, including the murders, Vietnam, the 1968 Chicago Democrat Convention, and Nixon's Presidency ending in Watergate.

Kennedy wasn't stuck in the old conventions. He wanted to move the country forward. I can't get into all of the non-conventional stances that he took without introducing the controversial subjects surrounding his assassination. No! I do not think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, if he even fired a shot. Kennedy had made many enemies by standing up to and against the establishment of the time. His assassination brought the establishment back into absolute power and no one has stood against accepted conventions, to the degree that Kennedy did, since that time.

As I wrote nearly five years ago in The Hottest Places in Hell - December 30, 2008:

I watched a documentary about President John F. Kennedy this week. The man was an enigma. He wasn't stuck within a political party mindset. I truly believe that he wanted to represent all of the people and if that meant making controversial decisions, then so be it. That is most assuredly what got him killed. But, he did not live a life in fear.

JFK was a leader, who never stuck his finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing. He also didn't play the blame game. He was a visionary with a mind set towards accomplishing goals. He realized and communicated time and time again, through words and actions, that those who do not take a stand in life are relegated to a life of insignificance. He road tall and proud on that fateful day in Dallas, because he believed in his cause.

From the JFK Library online:

One of President Kennedy's favorite quotations was based upon an interpretation of Dante's Inferno. As Robert Kennedy explained in 1964, "President Kennedy's favorite quote was really from Dante, 'The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.'" This supposed quotation is not actually in Dante's work, but is based upon a similiar one. In the Inferno, Dante and his guide Virgil, on their way to Hell, pass by a group of dead souls outside the entrance to Hell. These individuals, when alive, remained neutral at a time of great moral decision. Virgil explains to Dante that these souls cannot enter either Heaven or Hell because they did not choose one side or another. They are therefore worse than the greatest sinners in Hell because they are repugnant to both God and Satan alike, and have been left to mourn their fate as insignificant beings neither hailed nor cursed in life or death, endlessly travailing below Heaven but outside of Hell. This scene occurs in the third canto of the Inferno.

In this era of Tumult, does this fit you? For all who espouse themselves to be followers of the Kennedy Ideal, how do you defend your inaction?

There is hope. Today is a new day. You can shed your neutrality today and strive for a life of significance. Ambivalence won't change anything. Contributing to our community can change everything!!!

When I think of Kennedy, I always think about the speech below. This is the John Kennedy that represents me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Statistical Analysis of the 2013 Hickory Mayoral Election

Rudy Wright won a fourth term with right at 55% of the vote. His strong showings were in the North Side precincts that we have come to expect to be represented well for the establishment in Hickory Elections. The Mayor got strong showings in Oakwood, Viewmont 1, and the Northwest Precinct. He had solid showings in College Park, Springs, Viewmont 2, and Falling Creek. He carried Mountain View and Sandy Ridge, but these precincts had smaller vote counts.

Dr. Inglefield's solid showings came from the 4th ward precincts in contiguous Hickory. He basically walloped the Mayor in Kenworth, Ridgeview, and Greenmont 577 to 121, which is 82.7% of the vote. He also solidly won Brookford. Highland and St. Stephens were toss-ups and he actually fared pretty well in Falling Creek.

In looking at these results we see momentum with several areas that could start to come into play very soon in local municipal elections. Highland is already a toss-up and will likely flip in the next election. Oakland Heights, Falling Creek, and Sandy Ridge could easily flip away from the status quo candidates. You can see that the blue collar areas of town and the areas further away from the city center are much more likely to vote against the status quo candidate. A little bit better turnout in these elections and the local establishment could get overturned easily.

If we look at this election compared to the referendum, we see that Dr. Inglefield lost about 200 votes somewhere and Mayor Wright gained about 160 somewhere. I don't think that this was a flip. The Mayor has always had a coordinated vote effort involving the people living in the assisted living centers in the community. Some of this also is due to a concerted effort to paint Dr. Inglefield as basically being a Communist -- the McCarthy effect like Harry Hipps pointed to in his comment the other day. I also think that a good many of those people that voted yes on the referendum just didn't show up and some of the people who voted for Mayor Wright hadn't shown up to vote in the referendum.

If this city council doesn't immediately work to move some issues forward for the whole of the city, then the three seats up in two years will be completely up in the air. This divided city is teetering away from the status quo due to the stagnation in the economy and other aspects of quality of life issues. There are some variables that are currently masking some of this to a certain degree, but the reality lies under a very thin skin. North Hickory is tapped out. They can't turn out much more than they have, but there is growth to be had in the disenfranchised areas of Hickory. If there is growth to be had it will come from non-traditional areas. We are going to see some very interesting local politics moving forward. Those who look to control the uncontrollable are losing their grip. They would be much better off if they would move away from the monopoly and the bullying and attempt to work and play nice with others. But as I was listening to someone say the other day, "Southern politics is all about raw power... and raw power is ugly to its core."

I wish we could move away from that, because raw power is destructive and growth comes from being constructive.

The Electoral Reality of Ward 4 in Hickory

A Statistical Analysis of the Hickory Ward 5 Election

A Statistical Analysis of the Hickory Ward 6 Election

Agenda about the City Council meeting of November 19, 2013

 This Agenda is about the Hickory City Council meeting that will take place on the date listed above. 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. You can also look in the upper right hand corner of the front page of the Hickory Hound and (will soon) find the link to the past history of Hickory City Newsletters.

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

 City Council Agenda - November 19, 2013

Invocation by Rev. Karla Woggon, Rector, Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Special Presentations
A. Presentation of the Business Well Crafted Award by David Gissy of the Business Development Committee, to Dan Causey, President and Doyle Keever, Vice President of Keever’s Key and Repair Service
B. Neighborhood College Class Graduation

Persons Requesting to Be Heard

Consent Agenda:
A. Approval of Resolution to Surplus Library CD/DVD Display Case and to Donate the Case to the Hickory Music Factory, a Local Non-Profit Organization. -  The Library requests approval to surplus a CD/DVD display case that is no longer in use or needed by the Library and to donate the display case to the Hickory Music Factory, a local non-profit organization. Public Notice advertised on November 8, 2013 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area.

B. Approval to Revise the Hickory Public Library’s Meeting and Conference Room Policy. - The information contained in the current Meeting and Conference Room Policy is mostly
valid; however, to avoid confusion and clarify intent, it is necessary to update the language in some areas and to eliminate a rule that no long applies. Staff requests approval of the revisions for the purpose of eliminating, revising or replacing language or rules that are no longer relevant, may be redundant, or no longer reflect the library’s actual practice.

C. Approval of “Food for Fines” Amnesty Week at the Library, December 2 – 14, 2013.  -  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 two-week period of December 2-14, 2013. 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.

D. Approval to Amend Lease Agreement for the Property Located at 304 3rd Street SW, Hickory. - Hickory Police Department requests approval to amend the lease agreement for the property located at 304 3rd Street SW, Hickory, leased to Ronald Andrew Jones and Jennie Nicole Frye. The original lease agreement was approved by City Council on October 1, 2013. After further review of the lease agreement it was noted that several changes were needed. The Agreement is hereby amended by correcting the name of the Landlord from the “City of Hickory Police Department” to the “City of Hickory.” Paragraph 5 of the Lease entitled RENT DUE DATE is hereby amended by deleting the paragraph in its entirety and substituting the following paragraph: RENT DUE DATE: Tenants hereby acknowledged that late payment will cause Landlord to incur costs not contemplated by this Rental Agreement. We allow for a 3 day grace period. In the event rent is not received prior to the 10th of the month, Tenant agrees to pay a $30 late fee. Neither ill health, loss of job, financial emergency or other excuses will be accepted for late payment.

E. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs. The following requests were considered by the Citizens’ Advisory Committee at their regular meeting on November 7, 2013:
 Bobby & Angela Cowans were approved for recommendation to City Council for firsttime homebuyer’s assistance to purchase a house located at 828 5th Avenue SW, Hickory. They have requested $7,500 for assistance with down payment and closing costs. The First-Time Homebuyers Assistance Loan is zero interest, no payments and repaid upon sale, refinance or payoff of first mortgage.
 Kisha Shuford was approved for recommendation to City Council for first-time homebuyer’s assistance to purchase a house located at 824 5th Avenue SW, Hickory. She has requested $7,500 for assistance with down payment and closing costs. The First-Time Homebuyers Assistance Loan is zero interest, no payments and repaid upon sale, refinance or payoff of first mortgage.
 Habitat for Humanity, 1615 8th Street Drive SE, Hickory, was recommended to subordinate City’s 2nd mortgage to Peoples Bank due to refinance of 1st Mortgage. Applicant was approved, provided that the mortgage loan is no more than what is owed on the property. They are refinancing for a lower interest rate and lower payment. Funds are budgeted for these items through the City of Hickory’s former Rental Rehabilitation Program income received in FY 2012 and/or program income received through the City of Hickory’s Community Development Block Grant Program. Each of the following applicants is being recommended for approval for assistance under the City of Hickory’s 2012-2013 Urgent Repair Program. This program provides qualified low income citizens with assistance for emergency-related repairs not to exceed $5,400.
 Phyllis Chester, 1526 20th Street Drive NE, Hickory,
 Edward Cunningham, 61 5th Street SE, Hickory,
 Polly Brotherton, 63 16th Street SE, Hickory,
 Lois Tse, 339 11th Street Place SW, Hickory,
 Timothy Rhodes, 923 South Center Street, Hickory,
The Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommends approval of the aforementioned requests for assistance through the City of Hickory’s housing assistance programs.

F. Approval of a Joint Resolution Approving a Memorandum of Understanding between the Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority and the City of Hickory. -  City Council previously approved the conveyance of the Piedmont Bus Transfer Station property from the City to the Western Piedmont Regional Transit Authority (WPRTA). The deed was recorded in Deed Book 3199 Page 375 on July 12, 2013 with the Catawba County Register of Deeds. After the deed was recorded, City staff and WPRTA staff were informed that that the parties needed to follow additional procedures with the conveyance in accordance with FTA guidelines. Specifically, FTA would not approve the deed’s reverter clause which states the bus transfer station (the “property”) will revert to the City in the event WPRTA ceased to operate as an entity or if WPRTA ceased using the property as a bus transfer station. Because a portion of the project was funded with federal grant dollars, the FTA has an interest or share in the remaining useful life of the property. This interest would not be automatically extinguished if the property reverted to the City. Instead the value of its share or interest would depreciate over a period of time. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishes that for a period of forty years from the date of completion of the project, the City and WPRTA agree that no transfer or disposition of the property can take place without the approval of the FTA. In the event WPRTA ceases providing public transportation services, WPRTA would need to obtain the FTA’s approval before conveying the property back to the City. The MOU also establishes that the property will be used as a bus transfer station or related ancillary use.

G. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 8
1. To budget $17,792 of North Carolina League of Municipalities (NCLM) contributions in the NCLM Conference expenditure line item. These funds are to help pay expenses associated with hosting the conference. Contributions include $15,000 from the North Carolina League of Municipalities and $2,792 from the Hickory Metro Convention Center.
2. In FY12-13 the City's "Parking Rental" revenue exceeded budget by $10,952 and the "Parking Fines" revenue exceeded budget by $4,783. This budget amendment moves these excess funds to the "Parking Capital Reserve Fund".
 3. To budget $39,840 of Library Foundation Endowment Funds in the Library’s
operational budget to purchase literacy stations, furniture for the children and teen
area, programs for adult, children and nonfiction books.
4. To transfer $6,150 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to the
project fund for the renovation of the former Ridgeview Public Library for use as a
meeting space and history center. The North Carolina Historic Preservation Fund is
contributing $9,000 and the InterFaith Housing Development Corporation is providing
the $6,000 required match; however the single quote came in $6,150 above the
budget; therefore the overage will be covered with Community Development Block
Grant Funds.

H. Grant Project Ordinance Amendment Number 3.
1. To accept a $6,150 transfer of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and budget in the renovation of the former Ridgeview Public Library project. The North Carolina Historic Preservation Fund is contributing $9,000 and the InterFaith Housing Development Corporation is providing the $6,000 required match toward the project; however the single quote came in $6,150 above the budget. The overage will be covered with Community Development Block Grant Funds; therefore a budget amendment is necessary
Informational Item
A. Report of Mayor Wright’s travel to North Carolina League of Municipalities Executive Director Search Committee, Raleigh, North Carolina on November 1, 2013. (Parking Expense - $12; Mileage Reimbursement - $194.36)

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Rezoning Petition 13-12 for Property Located at 1024 and 1030 4th Street NE, as well as Two Vacant Lots. - Petitioner Robert Lee Combs Jr. has petitioned for the rezoning of .51 acres of property located along 4th Street NE. This property includes 1024 and 1030 4th Street NE, as well as two vacant lots. The petition is to rezone the property from High Density Residential – 4 (R-4) to General Business (C-2). This public hearing was advertised on November 8, 2013 and November 15, 2013 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area.

New Business -  Departmental Reports:
1. a. Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Hickory and Hickory Baseball, Inc. regarding Additional Projects to be Under-taken at L.P. Frans. Stadium. - Staff will outline what these projects are and who has responsibility for them. Additionally, there will be a budget amendment to fund the City’s additional projects in the amount of $391,000.
b. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 9.  - To provide funding for additional improvement projects at L.P. Frans Stadium as described in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Hickory and Hickory Baseball, Inc. Therefore a $391,000 appropriation of General Fund balance to the L. P. Frans Stadium Capital Improvements line item is necessary.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Statistical Analysis of the Hickory Ward 6 Election

Jill Patton ran unopposed in this race. She received 88% of the vote in her election and 70.61% of all ballots cast in the election.

About a week before election day Mike Huttman decided he was going to run a write-in campaign. Other than friends, most people don't know who Mike Huttman is. The vast majority of people who voted for Mike are people who have had contact with him. He received 330 votes (7% of the votes cast), which is pretty impressive for such a low profile campaign. Besides Mr. Huttman, there were 95 other write-in votes. So in total you see that there were 425 write-in votes in this race, which is 8.9% of all votes cast.

What is very interesting about the voting in this ward is the number of people who did not vote. Over 20% of the people, 982 no-votes, in the at-large election did not vote in this particular election. In Ridgeview over 50% of the people did not vote; in Brookford over 30% of the people did not vote; in College Park, Kenworth, Highland, Longview north and south, and St. Stephens 1 and 2 over 20% of the people did not vote in this election. In every other precinct, except a couple where fewer than ten people voted, there were at least 10% of the people who did not cast a vote in this particular ward election.

The Electoral Reality of Ward 4 in Hickory

A Statistical Analysis of the Hickory Ward 5 Election

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- November 17, 2013

10 Facts About The Growing Unemployment Crisis In America That Will Blow Your Mind - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - November 10th, 2013 - Did you know that there are more than 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job? Yes, I know that number sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true. Right now, there are more than 11 million Americans that are considered to be "officially unemployed", and there are more than 91 million Americans that are not employed and that are considered to be "not in the labor force". When you add those two numbers together, the total is more than 102 million. Overall, the number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by about 27 million since the year 2000. But aren't things getting better? After all, the mainstream media is full of headlines about how "good" the jobs numbers for October were. Sadly, the truth is that the mainstream media is not being straight with the American people. As you will see below, we are in the midst of a long-term unemployment crisis in America, and things got even worse last month.                    In this day and age, it is absolutely imperative that people start thinking for themselves. Just because the media tells you that something is true does not mean that it actually is. If unemployment was actually going down, the percentage of the working age population that has a job should actually be going up. As you are about to see, that is simply not the case. The following are 10 facts about the growing unemployment crisis in America that will blow your mind...                  #1 The percentage of working age Americans with a job fell to 58.3 percent in October. The lowest that number has been at any point since the year 2000 is 58.2 percent. In other words, there has been absolutely no "jobs recovery". During the last recession, the civilian employment-population ratio dropped from about 63 percent to below 59 percent and it has stayed there for 50 months in a row. Will the percentage of working age Americans with a job soon drop below the 58 percent mark?...

Americans’ Participation in Labor Force Hits 35-Year Low - CNSnews - November 12, 2013 - The percentage of American civilians 16 or older who have a job or are actively seeking one dropped to a 35-year low in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Federal Reserve Is Monetizing A Staggering Amount Of U.S. Government Debt - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - November 14th, 2013 - The Federal Reserve is creating hundreds of billions of dollars out of thin air and using that money to buy U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities and take them out of circulation.  Since the middle of 2008, these purchases have caused the Fed's balance sheet to balloon from under a trillion dollars to nearly four trillion dollars.  This represents the greatest central bank intervention in the history of the planet, and Janet Yellen says that she does not anticipate that it will end any time soon because "the recovery is still fragile".  Of course, as I showed the other day, the truth is that quantitative easing has done essentially nothing for the average person on the street.  But what QE has done is that it has sent stocks soaring to record highs.  Unfortunately, this stock market bubble is completely and totally divorced from economic reality, and when the easy money is taken away the bubble will collapse.  Just look at what happened a few months ago when Ben Bernanke suggested that the Fed may begin to "taper" the amount of quantitative easing that it was doing.  The mere suggestion that the flow of easy money would start to slow down a little bit was enough to send the market into deep convulsions.  This is why the Federal Reserve cannot stop monetizing debt.  The moment the Fed stops, it could throw our financial markets into a crisis even worse than what we saw back in 2008.
The problems that plagued our financial system back in 2008 have never been fixed.  They have just been papered over temporarily by trillions of easy dollars from the Federal Reserve.  All of this easy money is keeping stocks artificially high and interest rates artificially low.                     Right now, the Federal Reserve is buying approximately 85 billion dollars worth of U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities each month.  We are told that the portion going to buy U.S. government debt each month is approximately 45 billion dollars, but who knows what the Fed is actually doing behind the scenes.  In any event, by creating money out of thin air and using it to remove U.S. Treasury securities out of circulation, the Federal Reserve is essentially monetizing U.S. government debt at a staggering rate.                  But Federal Reserve officials continue to repeatedly deny that what they are doing is monetizing debt.   For instance, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart strongly denied this back in April: "I object to the view that the Fed is monetizing the debt".                        How in the world can Fed officials possibly deny that they are monetizing the debt?                  Well, because the Fed is promising that it is going to eventually sell back all of the securities that it is currently buying.                  Since the Fed does not plan to keep all of this government debt on its balance sheet indefinitely, that means that they are not actually monetizing it according to their twisted logic.

Federal Reserve Whistleblower Tells America The REAL Reason For Quantitative Easing - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder, on November 12th, 2013 

Spot The Striking Similarity - Zero Hedge - Tyler Durden November 16, 2013

As young people hunker down, homeownership dips - CBS Moneywatch - Erik Sherman - November 15, 2013 - Americans are changing their housing habits in ways that could affect the U.S. economy. Younger people are becoming less mobile and are less inclined to buy a place to live, while broader homeownership numbers are down, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.                  An Associated Press analysis found that percentage of young adults who move to a new locale has hit a 50-year low. Only just over 23 percent of people ages 25 to 29 moved in the past year, down from roughly 25 percent the previous year and the lowest figure since 1963.                  Why are younger adults passing on buying a home? Likely because the weak job market, stagnant wages and high levels of college loan debt are keeping them in existing apartments with roommates or living with their parents.                       The homeownership rate between 2010 and 2012 was nearly 65 percent, a 1.7 percent decline from the 2007 to 2009 period, according to the Census Bureau. It is difficult to tell how much of the drop is due to young adults not purchasing homes or to other factors. The time range coincided with the economic recession, a rash of property foreclosures that followed the housing crash and a significant tightening of credit. All three factors likely contributed to people being unable to afford homes or to losing the homes that they already had.                  Another finding in the Census Bureau analysis was that the median home value in the U.S. decreased between 2007 and 2012. What is surprising is that some areas weathered the decline, and a few even saw an increase in medium home values: 28 states saw a decline in median home value, but 19 states actually experienced an increase.

Why hardly anyone signed up for Obamacare - Hint: It has nothing to do with tech glitches at - Marketwatch - Jonnelle Marte - November 17, 2013 - It may seem surprising that just 106,000 Americans managed to enroll in Obamacare, choosing a health plan through the new state or federally run insurance exchanges. That is, until one considers human nature.                    Though the enrollment is about 1.5% of the 7 million people expected to buy coverage through the exchanges next year, and well below expectations for the first month, experts say there’s reason to think our procrastination may be as much to blame as bad programming. People typically approach healthcare open enrollment in waves, with a burst of people, usually about 15% of participants, signing up at the start of the enrollment period and then a huge rush of purchases happening toward the end of the period, says Tony DeNucci, a managing director with Towers Watson, a professional services company. “There are people who aren’t paying attention and don’t want to deal with it until the last minute,” says DeNucci.                         The type of person who enrolls in next year’s insurance plan six weeks in advance is also the type of person who files their tax return in January. About 22% of people make insurance decisions in the last two days of open enrollment periods, health officials said during a media call Wednesday. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, also attributed some of the delay to the idea that consumers often take their time making health insurance decisions. “Insurance is very different than buying a toaster,” Sebelius said during the call. “As more people shop and talk things over with their families we expect these numbers to rise.”                      ALSO SEE: Should you keep your health insurance plan?
Even people who signed up for insurance on Oct.1—to the extent that they were able to given technical setbacks on and some of the state-run exchanges—won’t be covered until Jan. 1, and won’t have a premium payment until roughly Dec. 15. It wouldn’t be surprising, financial experts say, if many people were waiting to get closer to that moment of gratification to take action. “People are often reactive rather than proactive,” says Taylor Gang, a principal at Evensky & Katz, a wealth management firm based in Coral Gables, Fla.

Obamacare rollout: Doctors concerned about patients, care, fees - CBS News - Wyatt Andrews - November 11, 2013

You may need to prepare for higher gasoline prices - CNBC Market Insider - Sharon Epperson - November 13, 2013 - The slide in gasoline prices has finally stalled.                  Nationally, gasoline prices rose for the first time in nearly two weeks on Wednesday. The national average price for regular gasoline jumped nearly a penny overnight to $3.19 a gallon, according to AAA, marking its biggest one-day gain since Oct. 16 and first increase in 12 days. This bounce comes just after prices around the nation had fallen to their lowest levels since February 2011.               Abundant supplies and sluggish demand contributed to the sharp fall in gas prices recently—and prices are still declining in some parts of the country. In 10 states in the South Central region, the average price of gasoline statewide is below $3 a gallon, according to

Retailers brace for a tough holiday season - CNN Money = Hibah Yousuf - November 11, 2013 - The holidays may not be so merry and bright this year ... for retailers.                     Sales growth during the fourth quarter is shaping up to be the weakest since 2008, according to predictions from Morgan Stanley.                       Same-store sales, a key metric that measures sales at store locations open at least a year, are expected to grow a mere 1.6% from a year ago during the fourth quarter, Morgan Stanley estimates. Last year's holiday sales were up 3.5% from the fourth quarter of 2011.           The 1.6% figure excludes sales at troubled J.C. Penney (JCP, Fortune 500). That's because J.C. Penney is expected to offer deep discounts to try and get back on track after a disastrous drop in sales last year. As a result, J.C. Penney may not have that tough a time beating last year's low bar. And its results could skew the overall sales figures for the industry.                   Related: Outrage over Kmart's Thanksgiving decision                           Why will sales be sluggish this year? The culprit appears to be weak consumer confidence. While Americans have more to spend thanks to a rising stock market, higher home values and low gas prices, they're not so willing to part with their cash..

US consumers tapped out as holidays approach - CNBC - John W. Schoen - Novemner 8, 2013 - American shoppers have a way of rallying when the holidays roll around. But years after the Great Recession, consumers' budgets remain badly squeezed by flat wages, higher payroll taxes and a weak job market.                         "It's been a tough year for consumers overall," said Target Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan. "They started the year with the payroll tax increase, and lower and middle-income consumers bore the brunt of that. They were already stressed. The economy has improved slowly over time, but it's been a choppy recovery for sure."                       Choppy indeed. With the economy growing at just 2.2 percent since the recession ended in June 2009, there aren't enough good-paying jobs for the millions of Americans out of work or looking for more hours.                 Much of the growth in new jobs is in relatively low-wage, low-skilled industries such as retailing and restaurants. Even with the growth in those sectors, there aren't enough jobs to go around—and won't be until overall growth picks up.

Have We Lost Our Common-Sense? - - Charles Hugh Smith - November 16, 2013 The only way to keep the status quo from imploding is to banish common-sense.                  I was surprised to find that many people took my satire/parody last month seriously: Obama Administration Proposes 2,300-Page "New Constitution"(October 10, 2013). A number of people wrote me asking for the source of the story, and others chastized me for not labeling the essay "satire/parody," as so many others didn't seem to get the joke. (The permanent link was constitution-parody10-13.)

NC drug manufacturing plant closing - AP through Bloomberg - November 12, 2013 -
LINCOLNTON, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina pharmaceutical plant will be closing, putting about 310 people out of work.                        Actavis PLC said Monday it will take until the middle of 2015 to close the plant in Lincoln County, which makes creams and ointments.                 The prescription drug manufacturing will be moved to the company's plant in Salt Lake City. Manufacturing of over-the-counter drugs including creams, children's ibuprofen and analgesic suppositories, will be switched to a third-party contractor.

King World News Interview with David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan Administration and an implementer of Supply side Economics. -  David Stockman Interview link 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Statistical Analysis of the Hickory Ward 5 Election

Below is the statistical spreadsheet analysis of Ward 5. David Zagaroli won big and was going to win big all along. There obviously was no discussion of city issues in a public forum. I won't get into further analysis related to Joe Brannock due to his legal issues. The interesting thing you will see here is that around a quarter or more of the people in the South and West Hickory Precincts (Ward 4) did not vote in this election.You will see this pattern carry forward. North Hickory, in large numbers votes in South Hickory ward elections. South Hickory, in large numbers (a statistical anomaly compared to the whole), does not vote in North Hickory wards. You still do see throughout that many people obviously choose not to vote in wards other than their own. Otherwise you would have 90%+ participation in every precinct in every election.

The Electoral Reality of Ward 4 in Hickory

Friday, November 15, 2013

What a sad state of affairs Hickory

This morning's Hickory Daily Record... what a sad state of affairs. I wouldn't trust you know who as far as I could throw him. And y'all know that wouldn't be very far.

The other day I had three people send me a copy of a post on facebook where "He Who's Name Shall Not Be Spoken (HWNSNBS)" was saying that someone (he didn't express a name) who didn't even live in Hickory and blamed all of their life's problems on him was behind the Tumblr account, so I messaged him.

Would any of you like to see that correspondence? In which HWNSNBS says, "Who said I was talking about you?"

I do believe that the Tumblr account was over the top in the beginning, but the subject matter of late has been very relevant. He pointed to several issues, including money spent on sod for "the Sails" project that couldn't have possibly all been used for the Sails Project.  He showed where they have a $12,000 camera pointed at a mural on Union Square, but they say they can't afford to record and televise City Council meetings on the local public access channel. He points to several issues involving their little "Hickory United" Political Action Committee... And in general the guy has really toned down the profanity.

As far as the discriminating against Mormon Claims, it shows how far HWNSNBS will go to justify anything and everything that goes on at City Hall. In twelve years, he apparently believes he and Hickory Inc. haven't made a mistake yet. 

I pointed Mr. Tinkelenberg towards some very relevant topics, such as the misappropriation of parking fund money to build those "Sails". I pointed out that the past editor of the HDR had sat on the naming committee and that seemed like a Conflict of Interest to me. That to me seemed to slant the paper's opinion and reporting on that project.

Let's talk about that "Southern Desk" property over in west Hickory. You know, that building that was talked about a couple years ago. They seem to have forgotten all about that property. There has been a lot of crime that has ramped up over there. There was a woman attacked over there a couple weeks ago and left for dead. It was reported in the HDR. The guy that robbed the Mayor's wife lived a couple blocks from there. The person who robbed the Community One Bank last year. He lived a couple blocks from there. That is just naming a few of the many incidents in that vicinity. Why do I pay attention to this??? Because I have a family member that lives over there and I am sick and tired of seeing that area put on the backburner, because they aren't viewed as having any political clout. Hickory Inc. doesn't give a d*** about the people that live over there.

Let's talk about the $25,000 spent on Graffiti removal a few years ago where they said they would report back to the public and they never did.

This wouldn't even be in the paper if it wasn't about HWNSNBS's feelings. Is the goal to form a Posse against me? I feel sorry for those who have allowed themselves to be duped. Where are the priorities???  He's the guy who is going to get everyone to start pulling in the same direction?  This guy is the person who is going to lead us forward???

HWNSNBS thinks I'm behind all of this? I guess that simplifies things into something he can deal with. He needs to go sit in front of a mirror and reflect on life and get real.

Food for thought
"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." - Jimmy Dean