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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Midnight has struck for the UNC Board of Governors

Unfortunately the University of North Carolina Board of Governors have chosen not to take the bull by the horns and act on the transgressions at UNC-Chapel Hill, where sports rules over academics, and now all sorts of information is coming together about who did what and eventually we will know the origins of the Athletic-Academic fraud that has been going on there for years.

This has been embarrassing for a while now. The PTB hoped to keep a lid on this corruption by utilizing the web created to keep the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the De Facto absolute dictator of political power in our State, but now we have a national event that is exposing the conflicts of interest that run rampant on many levels in North Carolina.

Not only is this taking a huge toll on the Academic Integrity of the Oldest University in our State Higher Educational System, when it all comes out it is going to expose the real state of politics and corruption in our government. For you who do not know, that is what happened with the Southern Methodist University Football scandal back in the 1980s, which led to what was called the "Death Penalty" for SMU football.
Report: Texas Governor Ordered Pay For Smu Players - United Press International - June 20, 1987

I have nothing to do with this information that is coming out, but since I am reading the source material as it comes forward, fast and furious, I will attempt to document it and help those providing the information to get it out to the public utilizing this little ole blog as one outlet.

What is clear is that there needs to be a thorough cleansing of the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors and the playing field needs to be leveled. There should be more equal representation amongst the 17 schools in the system. It defies logic to believe that the current Governors of the Higher Education system haven't known what was going on here. They could have reined this in long ago, but this is what you get with a stacked deck. They have been too busy worrying about the image of UNC-CH, the University overwhelmingly represented by the BoG, instead of getting to the root of these issues of corruption. It is obvious there has been a lot of "Don't ask.. Don't tell" going on here.

These transgressions are not broad based at all 17 campuses in the UNC system. These transgressions are rooted at Chapel Hill. It is clear that there has been a cover-up of these corrupt athletic schemes going on for years. It is clear that the mission of that place is out of whack.

Who is going to stand up and be the adult. The transgressors should not be allowed to make the decisions about the remedies. They have been allowed to manipulate the situation for far too long and they have always tilted everything in their favor. Only fools believe these people have been cooperative. It is time for the lessons to be learned here. Stop rewarding corruption.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of January 21, 2014

I began video recording the City Council in 2012, 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 January 21, 2014
- Go to this link if you would like more information about the Agenda items.

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

Special Presentations
A. Ryan Lovern, Business Development Committee, Presentation of the Business Well Crafted Award to Bisanar Company Jewelers
B. Unveiling the Ceremonial Key to the City and Presentation to Hickory Chair

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
Ms. Catherine Scott, Regarding Hunting in between Geitner and Glenn Hilton Parks - Ms. Scott is worried about Domesticated Ducks being hunted in this area and asks that ordinances be established to stop this from an area apparently not covered by the city's codes and ordinances.

Consent Agenda

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Public Hearing – for the Consideration of an Economic Development Agreement between the City of Hickory and Hickory Springs Manufacturing Solutions (HSM Solutions)

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Presentation by Architect Scott Mitchell to Show Plans for the Convention Center Parking Deck
2. Quarterly Financial Report
3. Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Hound's Comment: This was a fairly routine meeting. A couple of Ceremonial "Feel Good" awards were handed out to Bisanar's Jewelers and Hickory Chair. Hickory Springs is getting a kick back for the taxes they will pay in relation to some jobs and commerce they are bringing to Hickory, which seems to be the status quo for economic development on the l;ocal front these days.

Mrs. Scott's presentation about the ducks along Lake Hickory was interesting. I don't think it is a safety issue as Mr. Guess believes, but Ms. Scott has a valid point about the ducks basically being baited and domesticated at this point, because people are hand feeding them. They are basically pets and deserve sanctuary in this particular area.

The presentation about the Convention Center Parking Deck was not very informative. It was hard to follow along and would have been much better as a Power Point presentation with better renderings. It didn't seem like anything was ironed down moving forward, but I could be wrong, because as I said, I couldn't follow the presentation.

Warren Wood's presentation about the Quarterly Financial report seemed to show that the city is in a holding pattern as far as the Economics of the area goes. There seems to be some growth in activity with new building permits showing a dramatic rise in comparison to the non-activity that has taken place over the last several years, but much of this could be attributable to necessary pent up growth from the non-activity of the past several years. I am sure we will be finding out in short order, one way or the other, over the next few quarters. All other growth can be attributed to inflation. Sales tax income is one example where we are still below where we were seven years ago. That is right, we are earning less per quarter in sales tax revenue than we were in 2007.

Other issues that Warren addressed were Privilege License fees that may be changing due to NC State legislation and the delivery of a ladder truck that has not occurred, because the company American LaFrance is having financial difficulty. The Council has started a legal process of default notifying the Insurance Bonding company that American LaFrance is in default. The City will receive the truck or be reimbursed and have to purchase a truck elsewhere. The City hopes to receive the order. If delivered, a third party will stand behind the warranty. Operationally we need the truck.

What happened to fire-engine icon American LaFrance? - The Post and Courier of Charleston, SC - John McDermott - January 26, 2014

American LaFrance - Google Search

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- January 26, 2014

20 Early Warning Signs That We Are Approaching A Global Economic Meltdown - The Economic Collapse Blog - January 24, 2014 - Have you been paying attention to what has been happening in Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, Ukraine, Turkey and China?  If you are like most Americans, you have not been.  Most Americans don't seem to really care too much about what is happening in the rest of the world, but they should.  In major cities all over the globe right now, there is looting, violence, shortages of basic supplies, and runs on the banks.  We are not at a "global crisis" stage yet, but things are getting worse with each passing day.  For a while, I have felt that 2014 would turn out to be a major "turning point" for the global economy, and so far that is exactly what it is turning out to be.  The following are 20 early warning signs that we are rapidly approaching a global economic meltdown...                        #1 The looting, violence and economic chaos that is happening in Argentina right now is a perfect example of what can happen when you print too much money...

7 setbacks for the middle class - CNN Money - Annalyn Kurtz - January 24, 2014 - Five years into his presidency, Barack Obama is still falling short of his number one goal: to fix the economy for the middle class.                Sure, a recovery has been underway for most of his presidency, but it's still slow and uneven. And despite Obama's focus on the middle class, the improvement so far has largely benefited corporations and the ultra-rich.                      Whether you blame Obama or a dysfunctional Congress, either way the recovery is hardly a middle-class success story.
1. Workers are taking home their smallest slice of U.S. income on record:
2. Inequality has widened:
3. The job market still faces a gaping hole:
4. The poverty rate remains high:
5. Record number of Americans are on food stamps:
6. The manufacturing revival was a mirage:
7. Global trade isn't helping much:

How Economists and Policymakers Murdered Our Economy — Paul Craig Roberts - January 25, 2014 - The economy has been debilitated by the offshoring of middle class jobs for the benefit of corporate profits and by the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing in order to support a few oversized banks that the government protects from market discipline. Not only does QE distort bond and stock markets, it threatens the value of the dollar and has resulted in manipulation of the gold price. See
                        When US corporations send jobs offshore, the GDP, consumer income, tax base, and careers associated with the jobs go abroad with the jobs. Corporations gain the additional profits at large costs to the economy in terms of less employment, less economic growth, reduced state, local and federal tax revenues, wider deficits, and impairments of social services.                   When policymakers permitted banks to become independent of market discipline, they made the banks an unresolved burden on the economy. Authorities have provided no honest report on the condition of the banks. It remains to be seen if the Federal Reserve can create enough money to monetize enough debt to rescue the banks without collapsing the US dollar. It would have been far cheaper to let the banks fail and be reorganized.                      US policymakers and their echo chamber in the economics profession have let the country down badly. They claimed that there was a “New Economy” to take the place of the “old economy” jobs that were moved offshore. As I have pointed out for a decade, US jobs statistics show no sign of the promised “New Economy.”                                       The same policymakers and economists who told us that “markets are self-regulating” and that the financial sector could safely be deregulated also confused jobs offshoring with free trade. Hyped “studies” were put together designed to prove that jobs offshoring was good for the US economy. It is difficult to fathom how such destructive errors could consistently be made by policymakers and economists for more than a decade. Were these mistakes or cover for a narrow and selfish agenda?                               In June, 2009 happy talk appeared about “the recovery,” now 4.5 years old. As John Williams ( has made clear, “the recovery” is entirely the artifact of the understated measure of inflation used to deflate nominal GDP. By under-measuring inflation, the government can show low, but positive, rates of real GDP growth. No other indicator supports the claim of economic recovery.                              John Williams writes that consumer inflation, if properly measured, is running around 9%, far above the 2% figure that is the Fed’s target and more in line with what consumers are actually experiencing. We have just had a 6.5% annual increase in the cost of a postage stamp.                              The Fed’s target inflation rate is said to be low, but Simon Black points out that the result of a lifetime of 2% annual inflation is the loss of 75% of the purchasing power of the currency. He uses the cost of sending a postcard to illustrate the decline in the purchasing power of median household income today compared to 1951. That year it cost one cent to send a post card. As household income was $4,237, the household could send 423,700 postcards. Today the comparable income figure is $51,017. As it costs 34 cents to send one postcard, today’s household can only afford to send 150,050 postcards. Nominal income rose 12 times, and the cost of sending a postcard rose 34 times....

Gerald Celente Interview on King World news - January 25, 2014 - Speaks about current tends including the economy and the Federal Reserve. You Kool-Aid drinkers might want to listen to this reality. (Gerald Celente Listen)

Stocks End Broadly Lower - Weak China Data Sparks Selloff in Riskier Assets - Wall Street Journal - Tomi Kilgore - January 23, 2014 - Stocks suffered broad declines as weak data out of China spooked investors, triggering a flight out of riskier assets.                          The increase in market volatility, which included sharp selloffs in emerging markets and the biggest tumble in Argentina's currency in over a decade, came as U.S. stocks has struggled in recent weeks to regain the upward momentum seen at the end of 2013.
On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 175.99 points, or 1.1%, to 16197.35, the lowest close since Dec. 19.                       The S&P 500 index shed 16.40 points, or 0.9%, to 1828.46, and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 24.13 points, or 0.6%, to 4218.87. Materials and financials led declines in all 10 of the S&P 500 sectors.                           The S&P 500 ended the session 1.1% below its Jan. 15 record-high close.                         Data showing China's manufacturing activity contracted in January sparked worries that the recent slowing momentum in the world's second-largest economy is carrying over into the new year.                      That triggered a selloff in riskier emerging-market shares and currencies, and helped bolster prices of Treasurys and gold, which are viewed as safe-haven assets.

The $23 Trillion Credit Bubble In China Is Starting To Collapse – Global Financial Crisis Next? - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - January 20th, 2014

“Need Room to Grow?” - Marijuana-friendly real estate agents and other enterprising businesspeople looking to make a bundle from Colorado’s weed industry - - Sam Kamin and Joel Warner - hanuary 25, 2014Real estate agent Rona Hanson walks around a suburban home west of Denver that was recently put on the market by another realtor, liking what she sees. The 3,000-square-foot midcentury brick bungalow is in fine shape, with a picturesque horse farm across the street and front-porch views of the snow-topped Colorado foothills. But what most excites Hanson about it, why she’s eager to show it to her clients, is the 50-square-foot bedroom in the far corner of the basement, a bland space with small windows near the ceiling and a basic attached bathroom. Not your typical selling point for a house, but to Hanson, it’s perfect—a perfect grow room for a dozen recreational marijuana plants, the maximum Colorado residents are now allowed to cultivate per household.                       The room offers high enough ceilings to accommodate grow lights, has easy access to water and drainage via the bathroom, and the small windows mean minimal aromas attracting nosy neighbors. This is the sort of stuff Hanson looks for. Since Colorado’s legalized marijuana rules went into effect on Jan. 1, Hanson has advertised her services on Craigslist and in the alt-weekly Westword as a marijuana-friendly realtor, helping people find the perfect property to grow marijuana for personal use, under the tag line “Need room to grow?”...

NFL Commish Makes $29.5 Mil a Year – 15 Times More Than Tax Free Org Gives to Charity, More than CEOs of Ford, Heinz, FedEx - Showbiz 411 - Roger Friedman - January 21, 2014 - As the Super Bowl approaches New York much like a blizzard, here are some things to think about: in 2012, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was paid $29.5 million to run the organization. And that’s not all. The NFL, if you didn’t realize it, exists as a 501 c 6 organization. It’s not for profit!                         In order to have that status, the NFL must be run as a charitable foundation. In 2012, they gave away a meager $2.3 million. Almost all of it–$2.1 million– went to the NFL Hall of Fame.                        Goodell made 15 times what the group donated to other charities.                           More crazy: Goodell’s salary is 1/10th of what the NFL claimed in total assets for 2012– $255 million.
Or even crazier: the NFL only made charitable donations equaling one-one hundredth of their annual income.                    Here are the stats: The NFL’s most recent Form 990 filed with the IRS ended on March 31, 2012. They claimed revenue of $255 million, up from $240 million in 2011. So, if you were concerned, things are good. The NFL has assets of over $822 million...

After the Collapse: Six Likely Events That Will Follow an Economic Crash - - Mac Slavo - January 20th, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- January 19, 2014

What Recovery? Sears And J.C. Penney Are DYING - The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - January 16th, 2014 - Two of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy.  Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape.  Once upon a time, Sears was actually the largest retailer in the United States, and even today Sears and J.C. Penney are "anchor stores" in malls all over the country.  When I was growing up, my mother would take me to the mall when it was time to go clothes shopping, and there were usually just two options: Sears or J.C. Penney.  When I got older, I actually worked for Sears for a little while.  At the time, nobody would have ever imagined that Sears or J.C. Penney could go out of business someday.  But that is precisely what is happening.  They are both shutting down unprofitable stores and laying off employees in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, but everyone knows that they are just delaying the inevitable.  These two great retail giants are dying, and they certainly won't be the last to fall.  This is just the beginning...                            The Death Of Sears - Sales have declined at Sears for 27 quarters in a row, and the legendary retailer has been closing hundreds of stores and selling off property in a frantic attempt to turn things around.                   Unfortunately for Sears, it is not working.  In fact, Sears has announced that it expects to lose "between $250 million to $360 million" for the quarter that will end on February 1st.                      Things have gotten so bad that Sears is even making commercials that openly acknowledge how badly it is struggling.  For example, consider the following bit of dialogue from a recent Sears television commercial featuring two young women...                      The Death Of J.C. Penney - J.C. Penny has been a dead man walking for a long time.  In some ways, it is in even worse shape than Sears.                     If you can believe it, J.C. Penney actually lost 586 million dollars during the second quarter of 2013 alone.
How in the world do you lose 586 million dollars in three months?                   Are they paying employees to flush giant piles of cash down the toilets?                  This week J.C. Penney announced that it is eliminating 2,000 jobs and closing 33 stores.  The following is a list of the store closings that was released to the public...

THE RETAIL DEATH RATTLE- Washingtons Blog - Jim Q - January 19, 2014 - If ever a chart provided unequivocal proof the economic recovery storyline is a fraud, the one below is the smoking gun. November and December retail sales account for 20% to 40% of annual retail sales for most retailers. The number of visits to retail stores has plummeted by 50% since 2010. Please note this was during a supposed economic recovery. Also note consumer spending accounts for 70% of GDP. Also note credit card debt outstanding is 7% lower than its level in 2010 and 16% below its peak in 2008. Retailers like J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Sears, Radio Shack and Barnes & Noble continue to report appalling sales and profit results, along with listings of store closings. Even the heavyweights like Wal-Mart and Target continue to report negative comp store sales. How can the government and mainstream media be reporting an economic recovery when the industry that accounts for 70% of GDP is in free fall? The answer is that 99% of America has not had an economic recovery. Only Bernanke’s 1% owner class have benefited from his QE/ZIRP induced stock market levitation.                                    The entire economic recovery storyline is a sham built upon easy money funneled by the Fed to the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks so they can use their HFT supercomputers to drive the stock market higher, buy up the millions of homes they foreclosed upon to artificially drive up home prices, and generate profits through rigging commodity, currency, and bond markets, while reducing loan loss reserves because they are free to value their toxic assets at anything they please – compliments of the spineless nerds at the FASB. GDP has been artificially propped up by the Federal government through the magic of EBT cards, SSDI for the depressed and downtrodden, never ending extensions of unemployment benefits, billions in student loans to University of Phoenix prodigies, and subprime auto loans to deadbeats from the Government Motors financing arm – Ally Financial (85% owned by you the taxpayer). The country is being kept afloat on an ocean of debt and delusional belief in the power of central bankers to steer this ship through a sea of icebergs just below the surface...

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”Aldous Huxley

47% Of All Jobs Will Be Automated By 2034, And 'No Government Is Prepared' Says Economist - Huffington Post - Michael Rundle - January 17, 2014 - Almost half of all jobs could be automated by computers within two decades and "no government is prepared" for the tsunami of social change that will follow, according to the Economist.                               The magazine's 2014 analysis of the impact of technology paints a pretty bleak picture of the future.                 It says that while innovation (aka "the elixir of progress") has always resulted in job losses, usually economies have eventually been able to develop new roles for those workers to compensate, such as in the industrial revolution of the 19th century, or the food production revolution of the 20th century.                    But the pace of change this time around appears to be unprecedented, its leader column claims. And the result is a huge amount of uncertainty for both developed and under-developed economies about where the next 'lost generation' is going to find work.                     It quotes a 2013 Oxford Martin School study that estimates 47% of all jobs could be automated in the next 20 years...              The Economist also points out that current unemployment levels are startlingly high, but that "this wave of technological disruption to the job market has only just started".                              Specifically the Economist points to new tech like driverless cars, improved household gadgets, faster and more efficient online communications and 'big data' analysis to areas that humans are quickly being superceded. And while new start-ups are raising billions, they employ few people - Instagram, sold to Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion, employed just 30 people at the time....

John Williams interview - USA - Greg Hunter - January 5, 2014 - John Williams of has a grim view of 2014
. He says, "It's really going to be a currency panic . . . when the fundamental selling pressure really starts to pick up, when the selling gets heavy . . . in turn, the weakness will be seen in a spike in oil prices and a spike in gasoline prices." Williams says there will be a panic out of the dollar and he predicts, "Once you see a massive sell-off here, I see the game as being over." Join Greg Hunter of as he goes One-on-One with economist John Williams.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Agenda about the City Council meeting of January 21, 2014

 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 - January 21, 2014

Invocation by Rev. Bob Thompson, Pastor, Corinth Reformed Church

Special Presentations
A. Ryan Lovern, Business Development Committee, Presentation of the Business Well Crafted Award to Bisanar Company Jewelers
B. Unveiling the Ceremonial Key to the City and Presentation to Hickory Chair

Persons Requesting to Be Heard
Ms. Catherine Scott, Regarding Hunting in between Geitner and Glenn Hilton Parks

Consent Agenda
A. Hickory Police Department Requests Approval to Accept the Donation of Canine Ballistic Vests from Viewmont Animal Hospital. - Viewmont Animal Hospital would like to donate K9 vests for Hickory Police Department’s K9 Unit. The vest cost is approximately $1,000 each. Total donation is approximately $3,000 for three vests. This was a community campaign organized by Kelly Essam, a Veterinarian Technician with Viewmont Animal Hospital. This campaign started during the 50th year Anniversary of the Viewmont Animal Hospital. The vests will offer more protection for the canines as they pursue suspects.

B. Special Event/Activities Application for 2014 ALFA Hike for Hope & 5K, Michael L. Bookout, Event Chairperson, for April 12, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Union Square.

C. Special Event/Activities Application for Crawdad’s All-Star Bash, Connie Kincaid, Executive Director of Hickory Downtown Development Association, for June 16, 2014 1:00 pm to 11:30 p.m. on Union Square.

D. Approval to Purchase Rescue Equipment to be assigned to all Front-line Emergency Apparatus. - The Hickory Fire Department requests approval of the invitation to bid and contract to Newton’s Fire & Safety Equipment, Inc., in the amount of $168,780 for the purchase of rescue equipment. Any rescue equipment that is replaced will be evaluated for use in reserve apparatus, and the remaining equipment will either be issued into surplus or soldto local fire departments. Funds are budgeted in the FY2013/2014 budget.

E. Resolution Authorizing Preparation of Assessment Rolls and Public Hearing on Preliminary Assessment Roll for Street Improvements Petition Number 02-12 (Curb and Gutter). A petition was submitted on October 11, 2012, approved by City Council on December 18, 2012, and the project was completed on June 24, 2013. (Authorize Public Hearing for February 18, 2014)

F. Approval to Apply for a No-Match Library Services and Technology Act Grant (LSTA) through the State Library of North Carolina in the amount of $20,000. - Library staff requests approval to apply for a no-match Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant through the State Library of North Carolina to hire a consultant to assist with a new strategic planning process in FY 2014/2015.
G. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 13.
1. To budget a total of $55 in memorial donations for Elizabeth Birrell in the children’s books at Ridgeview Library.
2. To budget a $16,041 insurance claim payment in the Traffic Division M&R Traffic Signals line item ($8,536) and the Police Department M&R of Equipment line item ($7,505). This insurance claim payment is for lightning damage to a traffic light signal camera and radio equipment that occurred on August 10, 2014.
3. To budget an additional $24,858 of General Fund Contingency in the Stormwater Capital Improvements line item to cover additional costs to the storm drainage repair at F. Avenue Drive SE. The July 27 flooding washed out part of F. Ave. SE and more of the 42" pipe. This required additional work that was not included in the original estimate. FEMA will not pay towards the cost of the additional work; therefore a budget amendment is necessary to make funds available to complete this project.

H. Grant Project Ordinance Number 6. 
1. To budget $152,800 of Federal and State Revenue in the Windridge Bridge replacement project design line item. The engineering agreement with McGill Associates, P.A. in the amount of $152,800 is for the design of a replacement bridge on 46th Ave Drive NE over Snow Creek at Windridge subdivision. Damage was caused by flood waters on 07/27/13. The City of Hickory has been approved for Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency 75% Public Assistance ($114,600) and 25% State Disaster Assistance/NC Department of Public Safety Emergency Management ($38,200).

I. Proclamation for “Dale Jarrett Day”, Wednesday, January 29, 2014.

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Public Hearing – for the Consideration of an Economic Development Agreement between the City of Hickory and Hickory Springs Manufacturing Solutions (HSM Solutions) 

New Business - Departmental Reports:
1. Presentation by Architect Scott Mitchell to Show Plans for the Convention Center Parking Deck
2. Quarterly Financial Report
3. Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Thursday, January 16, 2014

UNC Chapel Hill Criminal Fraud exposed in Athletics and Academics

Nearly four years ago this June, many of us in this State were left wondering what in the heck is going on at this State's oldest University. Well, here we are these four long years later after Marvin Austin, the former Defensive Lineman for the Tar Heel football program, forwarded what has now become known as the Tweet heard round the world.

At the time that Austin sent out that Tweet on Twitter, I am sure that he didn't think it was a biggie. After all he was a proud and confident 21 year old who believed in the next year he would be headed to fame and riches in the National Football League. Why not show everybody how cool he was.

It is the opinion now of many people, who have paid attention since this scandal began, that what that Tweet did was lift back the veil on a system of corruption at UNC-Chapel Hill that has exposed a multi-layered racket used to recruit athletes through unfair advantages of illegal benefits and keep them academically eligible through means such as non-existent classes, fraudulent classwork, and grade fixing.

An academic adviser and learning specialist Mary Willingham who works for UNC-Chapel Hill has stepped forward in the last week and spoken clearly about the schemes that have taken place to keep athletes academically eligible at the University. She made a statement in an ESPN "Outside the Lines" interview that, " I recommend they have some statisticians and some independent professionals take a look at it although if you're familiar with our story here, we (UNC) hire people who tend to whitewash anything that's negative against the university and against the brand."

Ms. Willingham's statement speaks to the heart of the matter in the State of North Carolina where UNC-Chapel Hill's tentacles reach far, wide and deep into every crack and crevice of the economics, culture, and governance of the State. UNC-Chapel Hill owns the halls of power in this State. Look where the School of Government is located. It is not a coincidence. UNC-Chapel Hill has not been a benevolent dictator when it comes to the governance of our State. They have clearly operated purely in their own self interest over the past 200 years.

Nearly four years ago, I was blown away to see that no system of accountability was going to be brought forward in relation to this situation. Every act has been defensive and short sighted without regard to the long term ramifications and damage that is being done to the asset that is our State's University system.

State of North Carolina University System -- We've Got a Problem Here!!!  - September 18, 2010

Where are the UNC Board of Governors?!?!? - UNC-Chapel Hill athletic scandal - October 1, 2010

Where are the UNC Board of Governors? - (Part 2) - Everybody knows "The Carolina Way"  - July 1, 2011

My letter to the UNC Board of Governors about the UNC-CH Football Scandal  - July 7, 2011

Where are the UNC Board of Governors? -- 3 years later - PJ Hairston's 2013 Yukon: renter identified - July 1, 2013

In September 2010, I asked that the UNC Board of Governors set aside their biases and take action and get to the heart of this matter and the illegal activities that had taken place. If you don't expose and route out the corruption, then you aren't going to ensure it is going to get cleaned up.

The Marvin Austin experience had opened up a can of worms in which we saw that agents and their runners were in contact with the football team. You actually had one of the runners, who was a former member of the UNC-CH football team, that was utilizing school facilities. It defies logic to believe that the Football coaches didn't have a clue what was going on. We also saw a situation where parking tickets were written for cars football players were using. Clearly, someone attached on the university side of the football team had to know that these players couldn't afford to be driving some of these cars and nothing was done to stop the parking activity. Now, in the past six months, we have seen the same revelations come forward about the basketball team. Hey, the Basketball Cars situation has happened while the athletic department is already in the middle of a 5 year probation.

It is also clear that UNC-CH covered up the parking situation, since the Raleigh News and Observer made requests related to those parking tickets that were never fulfilled. News sources have made several requests that have never been fulfilled. Again, look at the judicial system here in North Carolina that is loaded with UNC-CH Law School graduates. Many of these UNC-CH Law School alumni are members of the Rams Club (Athletic Booster Club). Very few of them are going to hold the university's feet to the fire on anything.

Truly, I can't believe that this has gone this far, but the writing was on the wall when I wrote in September 2010:
The Bottom Line is that there is no way out for UNC-Chapel Hill. They should do the right thing and plead mea culpa and throw themselves at the mercy of the NCAA, but is there a pervasive arrogance that makes them think that they are going to get away with this? Can they not see the shadow of the hammer coming down upon them. Are they willing to get themselves fried?!?

I love sports, but when it comes to sports it has been obvious that the tail has been wagging the dog for a long, long time down in Chapel Hill. The pushing the limits and win at all costs mindset has been fully exposed. People have gotten their identity wrapped up and intertwined in the success and failure of the athletic program to the extent that they forget the purpose of the university is to educate our future leaders, do vital research that will improve the quality of our lives, and act as an economic driver that progresses the vitality and sustainability of our State’s economy. Those priorities should never take a backseat to Athletic Entertainment.

This is not going to go away until some real action is taken. It is time to do just that.
People like former UNC system Presidents Bill Friday and Erskine Bowles, former UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorpe, and former Governor Jim Martin tell us that UNC-CH has been cooperating and at every turn new and old public figures tell us that we are supposed to let the investigations play out and how the university is on top of the situation. They say that we should trust all of the public officials involved and how they are trying to get to the bottom of the scandal of the day. It is obvious that if there had been all of this "cooperation", then there would not be this constant drumbeat of further corrupt practices exposed, that we have seen over the past four years.

Through all of this, we have seen new scandals and revelations revealed on a constant and consistent basis, while trying to lay the blame on everyone but the university itself. We have seen shenanigans abound and constant road blocks and obfuscation as the media attempted to gather public documents while investigating allegations. Football coaches, who looked guilty, left the university with severance checks and seem to still be in good standing with the university. They certainly haven't been forced to come forward with the facts of the ill begotten activities that took place.

All of the "one day at a time" crowd said that this was just about Football. They don't want people to look at the totality of mounting evidence that certainly seems to show that this was a planned out racket involving the Powers That Be associated with the University and it cuts across all of the revenue sports at UNC-CH. While no one would believe that everyone is involved in the most egregious of the activities, they have been complicit in turning a blind eye and allowing these activities to carry on and not remedying what has taken place.

There is a term that the NCAA uses when major infractions occur with a university. It is called "Lack of Institutional Control". It means that if a school doesn't have a plan in place for preventing boosters from committing violations, or does not provide corrective action when learning of illegal acts, then the NCAA considers there to be a lack of institutional control.

With UNC-CH, and its athletic program, what we are seeing is a major systemic problem. The University, by proxy it's employees, is and has been in control of this scheme on multiple levels. As members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, they are supposed to self monitor their program. The NCAA does not have mechanisms in place to be a full force investigative body. They have no legal jurisdiction or subpoena powers. UNC-CH knows this and they have been gaming the system. The Powers That Be here in North Carolina seem to apparently have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of this corruption. The UNC Board of Governors and the NC Legislature that has appointed them have done nothing and it is(n't) funny how everything always tilts in the direction of Chapel Hill at everyone else's expense.

This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue. This corruption cuts fully across all political and social lines. I have never liked the haughty nature and overindulgent pride associated with Chapel Hill, but as a born and bred citizen of the State of North Carolina what bothers me most is to see the damage being done to one of the greatest assets in our state; our ability to educate our citizens at the highest level and have those certifications recognized and respected as prestigious by people around the world. I've implored you people to clean up this mess. I hope you will prove me wrong, because the empirical evidence is showing that you are incapable of doing that. History will not look kindly upon people who placed frivolities above integrity.

Former UNC player ties counselors to no-show classes
- Raleigh News and Observer - Dan Kane - January 15, 2014
Letter to the Editor - Daily Tar Heel - UNC disrespecting Bill Friday’s legacy - 1/15/14
Outside The Lines examines the allegations of academic fraud at the University of North Carolina - ESPN - January 14, 2014
Higher education, lower standards: Column - USA Today - Glenn Harlan Reynolds - January 14, 2014
Death threats and denial for woman who showed college athletes struggle to read - CNN - Sara Ganim - January 14, 2014
Willingham courageous in speaking out about UNC athletes - Raleigh News and Observer - January 13, 2014
UNC Athletics: Over to You, Carol (Folt) - Dart Blog (Dartmouth University) - Joseph Asch '79 - January 13, 2014
UNC is a stark example of colleges’ warped priorities - New York Post - Phil Mushnick - January 11, 2014
Barnett: Time to come clean at UNC-CH - Raleigh News and Observer - Ned Barnett - January 11, 2014
UNC scandal isn’t going away any time soon - Rocky Mount Telegram - Scott Mooneyham - January 10, 2014
CNN analysis: Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders - CNN - Sara Ganim - January 8, 2014
Academic Fraud for College Jocks Reaches Across the Country - Bloomberg - Paul M. Barrett - January 8, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of January 7, 2014

This Newsletter and 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 top of the page under Quick Links you can pull down and 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 public 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 to the right under The Hound Groups and you will find the link to the past history of Hickory City Newsletters.

Below 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 Action Agenda - January 7, 2014

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 of interest, 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.

Invocation by Alderman Danny Seaver

Consent Agenda:
A. Transfer of Cemetery Deed from City of Hickory to Tillis E. Rendleman Sr. and wife, Lucille Rendleman in Southside Cemetery

B. Approval of Application for Funding through the 2014 Urgent Repair Program (URP14) and Approval for Submission to the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. - The City of Hickory Community Development Department will apply for Urgent Repair Program funds for funding through the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Urgent Repair Program. The City of Hickory will apply for $50,000.00 through this program in order to assist approximately 12 eligible homes with urgently needed repairs in an amount not to exceed $5,400 per housing unit. The City of Hickory will provide $5,000 in matching funds, available from Rental Rehabilitation program income.

C. Call for Public Hearing - For the Consideration of a Street Closing Petition for a portion of E Avenue SE, Hickory.

D. Budget Ordinance Amendment Number 12.
1. To budget a $100 Library Memorial donation in the children’s books line item.
2. To budget $47,142 of General Fund Contingency in the Stormwater Capital Improvements line item to cover additional costs to the storm drainage repair at

F. Avenue Drive SE. $124,005 was initially budgeted for the repair work however the July 27 flooding washed out part of F. Ave. SE and more of the 42" pipe. This required additional work that was not included in the original estimate. FEMA will not pay towards the cost of the additional work; therefore a budget amendment is necessary to make funds available to complete this project.

E. Grant Project Ordinance Number 5.
 1. To budget a 2013 Urgent Repair Program Grant awarded to the City of Hickory by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency in the amount of $37,500 with a local required match of $3,750. The required match is provided by the First Time Homebuyers program income.

Informational Item
A. Report of Mayor Wright’s travel to North Carolina League of Municipalities Meeting December 12, 2013 (Mileage Reimbursement $194.36)

New Business - Public Hearings
1. Public Hearing - For the Consideration of Rezoning Petition 13-13 for Property Located at 730 5th Ave NE, Hickory. Express Business Systems request the property located at 730 5th Ave NE be rezoned from Medium Density Residential (R-3) to General Business (C-2). -  The subject property is currently a vacant lot. The Hickory Regional Planning Commission voted 6-2 to forward a recommendation of approval to the Hickory City Council. A valid protest petition was received by the Clerk’s Office on December 31, 2013. The protest petition will require a favorable vote of at least 75% of all the members of City Council to amend the zoning map. This public hearing was advertised on December 27, 2013 and January 3, 2014 in a newspaper having a general circulation in the Hickory area.

The Hound's Comment - It was good to see a neighborhood take action on an issue of interest to their community. There was a stark contrast in how the Claremont neighborhood families were received as compared to how we have seen some others received in the past. They made good points, but the points of contention they made were no more or less relevant than issues we have heard from other neighborhoods that have been summarily dismissed. This Council shows where their votes come from. I did find it discourteous how they noisily filed out without regard to the meeting continuing as soon as their issue was heard and voted upon in their favor. The issue was discussed for over an hour and a half. 

2. Public Hearing - For the Consideration of Rezoning Petition 13-14 for Property Located at 32 22nd Avenue NE, Hickory. - The City of Hickory has submitted a petition to rezone .88 acres of property located at 32 22nd Avenue NE, as well as an adjacent vacant lot. The petition is to rezone the properties from High Density Residential – 4 (R-4) to Office and Institutional (OI). The Hickory Regional Planning Commission voted unanimously to forward a recommendation of approval to the Hickory City Council. This public hearing was advertised on December 27, 2013 and January 3, 2014 in a newspaper having general circulation in the Hickory area.

General Comments
Alderman Seaver stated that he would not be present at the next Council meeting, he would be
out of town.

Mayor Wright commented that he found it interesting that when he drove to the meeting tonight
he went by the YMCA. The parking lot was full; they were parked all along Center Street, on both
sides of the street. Do you think New Year’s Resolutions has anything to do with that? Alderwoman Patton commented wait another month.

Mr. Berry stated that there was a swim meet.

The Hound Comments
Other than the item about the Claremont neighborhood and EDS system and the rezoning issue this was a routine meeting that would have been one of the shortest meetings.

It took me a while to get this out because my Internet connection was acting up, but it is now fixed. I also had work and other personal obligations including a family member who is in bad health, but I will not divulge that issue to the public at this time. May God Bless You All and we will keep moving forward.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- January 12, 2014

No Jobs For Americans - Paul Craig Roberts - January 10, 2014 - The alleged recovery took a direct hit from Friday’s payroll jobs report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy created 74,000 net new jobs in December.                       Wholesale and retail trade accounted for 70,700 of these jobs or 95.5%. It is likely that the December wholesale and retail hires were temporary for the Christmas shopping season, which doesn’t seem to have been very exuberant, especially in light of Macy’s decision to close five stores and lay off 2,500 employees. It is a good bet that these December hires have already been laid off.                       A job gain of 74,000, even if it is real, is about half of what is needed to keep the unemployment rate even with population growth. Yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate fell from 7.0% to 6.7%. Clearly, this decline in unemployment was not caused by the reported 74,000 jobs gain. The unemployment rate fell, because Americans unable to find jobs ceased looking for employment and, thereby, ceased to be counted as unemployed.                        In America the unemployment rate is a deception just like everything else. The rate of American unemployment fell, because people can’t find jobs. The fewer the jobs, the lower the unemployment rate.                        I noticed today that the financial media presstitutes were a bit hesitant to hype the drop in the rate of unemployment when there was no jobs growth to account for it. The Wall Street and bank economists did their best to disbelieve the jobs report as did some of the bought-and-paid-for academic economists. Too many interests have a stake in the non-existent recovery declared 4.5 years ago to be able to admit that it is not really there.                    I have been examining the monthly jobs reports for a decade or longer. I must say that I am struck by the December report. Normally, a mainstay of jobs gain is the category “education and health services,” with “ambulatory health care services” adding thousands of jobs. In December the net contribution of “education and health services” was zero, with “ambulatory health care services” losing 4,100 jobs and health care losing 6,000 jobs. If memory serves, this is a first. Perhaps it reflects adverse impacts of the ripoff known as Obamacare, possibly the worst piece of domestic legislation passed in decades.                      I was also struck by the report that the gain in employment of waitresses and bartenders, normally a large percentage of the job gain, was down to 9,400 jobs, which were offset by declines elsewhere, such as the layoff of local school teachers...

More of the jobless are giving up on finding work - CNN Money - Chris Isidore - January 10, 2014 - The unemployment rate fell to 6.7% in December -- the first time it's been below 7% in five years. But the drop was for all the wrong reasons.                    The rate fell because many people got fed up, stopped looking for work and dropped out of the labor force altogether. (The jobless have to be actively looking for work in order to be counted as unemployed by the Labor Department.)                  In December, 347,000 people dropped out of the workforce. That pushed the participation rate, which is the percentage of the population in the labor force, down to 62.8%. That's the lowest it's been since early 1978.

The percentage of the population with a job or looking for work has fallen from a record high in early 2000 to the lowest level in 35 years in December.

What Caused the Crash In the Labor Participation Rate? - WashingtonsBlog - January 11, 2014 - What’s causing the crash in labor participation?                        Initially, the number of women not in the labor force climbed to a new high.  This is significant because the labor force skyrocketed in the 1960s when feminism encouraged women to work outside of the home:                        The Urban Institute notes [that] what’s happening is that workers aren’t entering the labor force at the same rates they used to. That’s especially true for women, who are much less likely to enter the labor force today than they were in 2002 and 2003. Many of them, the paper notes, appear to be enrolling in school instead or deciding to start families.                          Washington Post notes:         Americans over the age of 65 are much less likely to work than prime-age Americans. And since that subset of Americans is expanding its ranks, that drives the labor-force participation rate down.                    
Economists disagree, however, on exactly how much demographics are responsible for the current fall in the participation rate. The Chicago Fed estimated in 2012 that retirements accounted for one-fourth of the drop in labor force participation since the recession began. Other analysts, including Barclays, have suggested that aging Boomers could account for a bigger slice of the drop.
Meanwhile, a recent paper by Shigeru Fujita of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia staked out a more nuanced view: Demographics, he argued, didn’t play a huge role in the labor-force drop between 2007 and 2011. But since then, retirements are responsible for basically the entire fall of the participation rate. One possible reason is that many older Americans postponed retirement immediately after the financial crisis to rebuild their battered 401(k)s. By 2012 or so, they began retiring en masse.                 However, Zero Hedge and Bloomberg show that there are countervailing trends:

20,000 Fewer Women Held Jobs in December - CNSnews - Ali Meyer - January 10, 2014 - The number of employed women 16 and over declined by 20,000 from November to December, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.               The number of women employed dropped from 67,882,000 in November to 67,862,000 in December.                  Additionally, the number of women who are not in the labor force climbed to a record high of 55,028,000 last month. That was up slightly from the 55,026,000 women who were not in the labor force in October, and up 203,000 from 54,825,000 women who were not in the labor force in November.                        In December, according to BLS, the labor force participation rate for women was 56.9 percent, marginally down from 57.0 percent in November but up from 56.8 percent in October. The unemployment rate for women also decreased from 6.7 percent in November to 6.5 percent in December.

Employment Recovery? 1,600 Workers Apply For Just 36 Jobs At An Ice Cream Plant In Maryland
- The Economic Collapse Blog - Michael Snyder - January 7th, 2014
- The stock market may be soaring to unprecedented heights, but things just continue to get even tougher for the middle class.  In this economic environment, there is intense competition for virtually all kinds of jobs.  For example, more than 1,600 applications were recently submitted for just 36 jobs at an ice cream plant in Hagerstown, Maryland.  That means that those applying have about a 2 percent chance of being hired.  About 98 percent of the applicants will be turned away.  That is how tough things are in many areas of the country today.  It is now more than five years after the great financial crash of 2008, and the level of employment in the United States is still almost exactly where it was at during the worst moments of the last recession.  And this is just the beginning.  The next major financial crash is rapidly approaching, and once it strikes our employment crisis is going to get much, much worse.                        Working at an ice cream plant does not pay very well.  But at least it beats flipping burgers or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart.  And in this economy, there is no shortage of desperate workers that are willing to take just about any job that they can find.  The following is how a Breitbart article described the flood of applications that were received for just 36 positions at an ice cream plant owned by Shenandoah Family Farms in Hagerstown, Maryland...                      Anyone that believes that the economic crisis is "over" is just being delusional.  It may be "over" for the boys and girls that work on Wall Street, but even their good times are only temporary.                         Of course most Americans are not fooled by the propaganda being put out by the mainstream media.  According to a recent CNN poll, 70 percent of all Americans believe that "the economy is generally in poor shape".                          And according to another survey, the economy is still the #1 concern for American voters by a good margin and unemployment is still the #2 concern for American voters by a good margin.                         In other words, "It's the economy, stupid!"                             The American people can see that mid-wage jobs are disappearing and that the middle class is being systematically eviscerated.  The following is a short excerpt from a recent Business Insider article...

David Stockman Interview on King World News -  January 11, 2014 - David A. Stockman is Former Director of the US Office of Management and Budget (USOMB), Economic Policy Maker, Politician, Financier & Acclaimed Author - After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street where he joined Salomon Bros. He later became one of the original partners at New York-based private equity firm, The Blackstone Group and in 1999 started his own private equity fund based in Greenwich, Connecticut. Defying right- and left-wing boxes, his latest book a New York Times best-seller, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America (2013), Stockman lays out how the U.S. has devolved from a free market economy into one fatally deformed by Washington’s endless fiscal largesse, K-street lobbies and Fed sponsored bailouts and printing press money.
(Link to Interview)

From Non-GAAP To Non-Sense: David Stockman Slams The "Earnings Ex-Items" Smoke-Screen - Zero Hedge -Tyler Durden - January 11, 2014  - (Talks about manipulation of Earning Per Share through charge offs to create the illusion that P/E multiples aren't overvalued).

As traffic slumps and teen-oriented stores struggle, retailers suffer worst holiday season since 2009 - Marketwatch - Wall Street Journal - Andria Chang - January 9, 2014 - With the exception of a few bright spots, such as Costco Wholesale Corp., the downbeat forecasts for the holiday season have turned out to be a prophecy fulfilled.              A slew of retailers across a wide variety of industry segments, including American Eagle Outfitters Inc. AEO , Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands Inc. LB , Pier 1 Imports Inc. PIR , Family Dollar Stores Inc. FDO , Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY and Hhgregg HGG , have given disappointing forecasts for the quarter after ringing up disappointing holiday-season sales.                      American Eagle said strong  traffic and sales over the Thanksgiving weekend were not sustained, with results through Christmas week missing internal expectations and forcing the chain to offer profit-eroding discounts.                   A late surge in shopping in the week ended Dec. 28 also failed to stop industrywide holiday sales from seeing their slowest growth since 2009.

JP Morgan Pays $2 Billion to Avoid Prosecution for Its Involvement In Madoff Ponzi Scheme - WashingtonsBlog - Bernie Madoff has said all along that JP Morgan knew about – and knowingly profited from – his Ponzi schemes.                              So JP Morgan has agreed to pay the government $2 billion to avoid investigation and prosecution.                        While this may sound like a lot of money, it is spare sofa change for a big bank like JP Morgan.                         It’s not just the Madoff scheme.                    As shown below, the big banks – including JP Morgan – are  manipulating virtually every market – both in the financial sector and the real economy – and breaking virtually every law on the books.

Who gets your digital fortune when you die? - Marketwatch - Wall Street Journal - Andrea Coombes - January 10, 2014 - Do you have a vast iTunes library? Maybe some e-books stashed on a Kindle or Nook? Do you sell items on eBay or use PayPal? Bitcoins? Got an online-only bank account? Email and Facebook?                         Americans value their digital assets at more than $54,000 on average, according to a 2011 survey conducted for McAfee, a security technology company — but few people take the time create an estate plan for their digital assets.                  Without a plan in place, you risk burying your family in red tape as they try to get access to and deal with your online accounts that may have sentimental, practical or monetary value.                      If you have, say, a Yahoo email account, your emails might be deleted before your family has a chance to review them. In other cases, maybe your family gains access to emails that you’d rather they didn’t see.                      Or, maybe you’ve been blogging for years, and your family wants to maintain your online writing as a sort of memorial. Without access to the accounts through which you manage that blog, it might be deleted before your family can act, or spammers might take over the comments section.                        These are the sorts of problems that a digital estate plan — one that details your online assets — can help prevent. Keep in mind that, given the legal complexities, a digital estate plan won’t guarantee your wishes are met. But it will help your executor as he or she attempts to manage and distribute your assets.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Internet Issues will cause delays

Will take a couple days to get the Newsletter about City Council out. Been having Internet issues, where signal comes and goes. Hard to upload and download under the conditions. Will have Newsletter up ASAP.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- January 5, 2014

The Case of the Missing Recovery - Paul Craig Roberts - January 3, 2014 - Have you seen the economic recovery? I haven’t either. But it is bound to be around here somewhere, because the National Bureau of Economic Research spotted it in June 2009, four and one-half years ago.                It is a shy and reclusive recovery, like the “New Economy” and all those promised new economy jobs. I haven’t seen them either, but we know they are here, somewhere, because the economists said so.                    Congress must have seen all those jobs before they went home for Christmas, because our representatives let extended unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million unemployed Americans, who have not yet met up with those new economy jobs, or even with an old economy job for that matter.                     By letting extended unemployment benefits expire, Congress figures that they saved 1.3 million Americans from becoming lifelong bums of the nanny state and living off the public purse. After all, who do those unemployed Americans think they are? A bank too big to fail? The military-security complex? Israel?                       What the unemployed need to do is to form a lobby organization and make campaign contributions.              Just as economists don’t recognize facts that are inconsistent with corporate grants, career ambitions, and being on the speaking circuit, our representatives don’t recognize facts inconsistent with campaign contributions....

Tipped workers often face different minimum wages - USA Today - Brian Tumulty - December 30, 2013 - ... "It obviously only works for a certain type of lifestyle — if you don't have kids or a mortgage,'' said Leidy, 35, a Cornell graduate who is single. "We have to pay for gas and insurance before we even start work.''                          Advocates for low-wage workers say minimum-wage laws shortchange employees such as Leidy.                        The federal minimum wage for tipped workers hasn't increased since 1991.                   Tipped workers — who wait on tables in restaurants, serve guests at hotels, cut hair in salons and park cars at garages — also have been overlooked at the state level.                    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn't acted on a recommendation the state Legislature made in the spring to convene a minimum wage board to hold hearings on tipped wages, according to Mark Dunlea, executive director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State.
"They are just stalling on it, and we're not happy,'' Dunlea said.                         New York sets different hourly minimums for various types of tipped workers, including $4.90 an hour for workers at resort hotels, $5 for food service workers and $5.65 for service employees.                         "The idea then is you are supposed to make tips on top of that to make the minimum wage that everyone else has,'' said Joann Lum with the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops based in Manhattan. "But as every bicycle delivery worker will tell you, you never know how much you are going to make in tips. On top of that, there are some restaurant owners who will take a portion of the tips, which is illegal, and they are left with even less."

Gov SWAT Teams Target “Rugged Individuals” Who Grow Their Own Food, Produce Their Own Electricity - - Mac Slavo - January 3rd, 2014 - The dream of many Americans is to get out of the hustle and bustle of the daily city grind. And what better dream to have then to move your family outside of city limits to the countryside so that you can grow your own food, produce your own electricity with solar power, and live outside the purview of an ever expanding government apparatus?                          That was the goal for hundreds of residents living on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Many own their land outright and have been living on it for decades without so much as a peep from their local government. They’ve built their homes using whatever means they had available to them. They planted their own fruits and vegetables. They even set up their own personal power production stations using solar panels and miniature wind farms.                          And they’ve lived peacefully without violating the rights of those around them and leaving a very small “carbon footprint” to boot. For all intents and purposes, they achieved a life of independence and freedom.                  But the tentacles of tyranny are everywhere and no one is protected from their grasp.              Recently, agents of the Los Angeles county government started paying visits to these rugged individualists. They claimed they were “here to help,” as one resident puts it. But, as is generally the case when the government comes knocking, they were there for exactly the opposite.                 That was once a dream come true for many quickly turned into the new American nightmare.                   Code enforcement agents for the county showed up in droves. But they didn’t come alone. Along with them came heavily armed “Nuisance Abatement Teams” who raided the homes and land of these peaceful residents as they would those of a terrorist.

Arthur Laffer speaks about the United States Economy for 2014 - Economy will change because of politics