Thursday, April 28, 2016

NC Republicans, Are You Ready for a Purge?

It may be spring in North Carolina, but this is the winter of Hasan Harnett's discontent.

He's about to be the first chair of the North Carolina Republican Party ever ousted from his post (not even a full year after he was elected to it). The NCGOP leaders are meeting in Raleigh this Saturday for an "impeachment-like trial" of Harnett (or a kangaroo court?). Harnett himself says he's out of the country and won't attend. That'll certainly make it easier to take away his title.

The tea party wing of the NCGOP, which put Harnett into his job, has lost the power struggle with Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the state party. The only question that remains after Saturday's auto-da-fé: can/will the NCGOP pull itself together in time to save Governor Squishy's ass this fall?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Toxic Legacy of Commissioners Miller, Hodges, Yates, and Blust

While Watauga County Commissioners Jimmy Hodges, Perry Yates, and David Blust were turning a deaf ear to the pleas of citizens to appeal the Maymead asphalt decision to Superior Court -- because it would cost too much -- they were paying out to Eggers Eggers Eggers & Eggers over $47,000 to intervene in the Boone ETJ lawsuit.

[Above: the accounting of what's been paid to Eggers x 4 in the matter of the Boone ETJ lawsuit intervention]

Priorities? Yeah, both the Maymead decision and the ETJ lawsuit intervention reveal very clear priorities. If Boone loses its ETJ, there goes any zoning restrictions that would keep an asphalt plant, a cement facility, a race track from imposing their charms on a Boone ETJ residential neighborhood.

That's where commissioners Hodges, Yates, and Blust stand.

To be fair, the decision to intervene in the Boone ETJ lawsuit was initiated by then Commission Chair Nathan Miller (who's also represented both the fairgrounds race track and the cement plant in their efforts to subvert Boone's land-use regs). Both Yates and Blust went along with Miller. They share the blame. They must also now share the fall-out.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Fact-Checking Claims on Both Sides RE HB2

We should thank God for PolitiFact for keeping politicians honest. Or for sweeping up after the elephant parade has gone by. You can read full discussions of these fact-checks here.

1. "There are 31 other states and 10,000 other cities that have the same type of policies that we just passed."
-- Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, N.C. House Speaker pro tem

Rated Half True.

2. "We have not taken away any rights that have currently existed in any city in North Carolina."
-- N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

Rated False

3. "Towns, cities and counties in North Carolina are still allowed to set stricter non-discrimination policies for their own employees if they choose."
-- N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

Rated Half True.

4. "Will [HB2] threaten federal funding for public schools under Title IX? No, according to a federal court which has looked at a similar issue."
-- N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

Rated Half True.

5. Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance would have "opened all bathrooms to all sexes at all times" if it hadn’t been overturned by HB2.
-- N.C. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

Rated False.

6. "The city of Charlotte passed a bathroom ordinance mandate on every private-sector employer in Charlotte."
-- N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

Rated Mostly False.

7. North Carolina spent "almost as much as it spends on government rape crisis programs in a year" to convene a special session for HB2.
-- LGBT Progress

Rated Mostly False.

8. "There have not been any public safety issues" in cities that allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify as.
-- Equality NC Director Chris Sgro

Rated Mostly True.

9. "Attorney General Roy Cooper refuses to do his job" by not defending House Bill 2 in a lawsuit.
-- N.C. Senate President pro tem Phil Berger

Rated Half True.

10. The Human Rights Campaign is "more powerful than the NRA."
-- N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

Rated False.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Henion Family Raising Money to Take Maymead Asphalt Case to Superior Court

Randall & Carolyn Henion, who are neighbors to the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Highway and to the Maymead asphalt plant (set down squat on that highway), are raising money through GoFundMe to appeal the Watauga Board of Adjustment's decision to reinstate Maymead's permit to make asphalt and ruin the neighborhood.

The Henions are going forward with an appeal because the Republican majority on the Watauga County Commission would not.

Visit their GoFundMe page and give if you can.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Boone Town Council Does Not Approve High-Rise Student Housing in Downtown But Also Does Not Reject It

Go figure.

At their regular monthly meeting this evening, the Boone Town Council didn't have much good to say about the proposed Rivers Walk development at the corner of Rivers Street and Water Street. Too huge. Too "rent-by-the-bedroom" and aimed at students. Too out of character with the rest of downtown Boone. Too little parking. Too big a building, which will run for over 700 linear feet next to two-lane Poplar Grove Rd. and tower over it, creating a kind of experiential "tunnel."

Yet, on the motion of Councilwoman Loretta Clawson, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Lynne Mason, to reject the proposal, only Clawson voted in the affirmative. Even Lynne Mason would not vote for the motion she seconded.

Then what? It's frankly unclear, but the bottom-line is that the Council majority couldn't bring itself to say no. There'll be more meetings between the developers, their lawyer Jim Deal, and the Council, or between the developers, their lawyer Jim Deal, the Council, and the Planning Commission (which last week voted in favor of the project with provisions that town attorney Allison Meade said this evening were unenforceable).

Negotiation with the developer, we guess. Interesting concept in this context ... negotiation. Especially considering that the out-of-town owner of that property shouted out in the meeting, when it was clear he wasn't going to get an affirmative vote, "We're trying to negotiate with you, but you don't know how to negotiate!"

I'd have to agree with that assessment.

"A Special Kind of Ignorance" Infects the Ashe County Commission

On Monday night, the Ashe County Commission, which apparently didn't want The Guv and the General Assembly to feel lonely in their quest to become the laughing stock of the nation, unanimously passed a resolution of support for HB2. The meeting was full of the kind of "out there" statements that Phil Berger, Roy McCrory, and other supporters of HB2 have spread around -- that somehow grown men, a.k.a. "sexual predators," were by the grace of God and the passage of HB2 now being prevented from going into women's rooms to molest small girls.

That fantasy is so far off the known gravitational pull of earth as to be laughable, but the Ashe Commissioners were eating it up, and the preachers were slopping the hogs.

We wouldn't necessarily have noticed the overwhelming aroma of self-righteousness and self-induced hysteria emanating from Ashe County had not a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel took pen to paper and sent in a letter to the Jefferson Post blasting the "special kind of ignorance" that had propelled the Ashe elected officials into the netherworld of the culture wars.

"It takes a special kind of ignorance to waste time on a frivolous resolution rather than focusing on improving the lives of their fellow Ashe Countians," Ken Lynn wrote. "It takes a special kind of ignorance to inflict this craziness on fellow citizens. How do the county commissioners intend to enforce this law? Will we be required to carry a copy of our birth certificate? Will a new Bathroom Compliance Officer position be created so body parts can be checked against our birth certificate before we enter the restroom?"

Having known a few dozen preachers in my time, I feel fairly certain that self-reflection will fail them yet again, and Mr. Lynn is more likely to be the subject of their sermons this Sunday, rather than their own ignorant and destructive crusade against some of their fellow citizens.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Justice Is Coming for You, North Carolina!

Phil Berger
Yesterday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that bathroom restrictions against transgender people are unconstitutional. Governor Squishy and the Republican leaders in the NC General Assembly ought to grab their waders and rush through the door the court just opened: "Oops, sorry! We take back HB2!" But of course they won't

Phil Berger, the Republican leader in the NC Senate reacted as only a bunkered and blinkered culture warrior could: he essentially denied that transgender people even exist and made it clear that if they do exist, they're not welcome in North Carolina.

Berger's published statement after the 4th Circuit's ruling came down: “People need to wake up: Roy Cooper, Barack Obama and two unelected federal judges are on the verge of completing their radical social re-engineering of our society by forcing middle school-aged girls to share school locker rooms with boys."

There's the language guaranteed to stir up the church folks: teenaged girls sharing the locker room with a boy. Not "a transgender boy who looks and acts like any other teenage girl," which is the reality of that situation. Berger's willful misuse of language amounts to denying the existence of people who have changed gender identities.

This is a transgender woman. She used to be a man. To Phil Berger, she doesn't exist, but if she did, by Gawd, Berger would make her go to the men's room.

The continual fallback to the meme of bathroom sexual assault -- that the threat of forced sex is what HB2 is all about -- is both ignorant and prejudicial, but since when did Berger and the preachers shy away from ignorance and prejudice?

They will cling to their prejudices and take as many others down with them as they can. Meanwhile, the mills of justice are grinding. The 4th Circuit's ruling is coming to North Carolina.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Economic Downside of Bigotry

Our Republican Overlords in the NC General Assembly (along with Governor Squishy) don't just talk about economic development. They do something about it, as in drive it the hell away from North Carolina. Chad Nance did a little toting up of lost dollar amounts just since Squishy signed HB2:
The numbers are extremely grim:
PayPal: $44 million
Deutsche Bank: $21.4 million
Unnamed tech company expansion in Buncombe County: $14.3 million
Lionsgate: $3 million
Bruce Springsteen concert: $0.7 million
Charlotte hotel revenue lost from canceled or relocated events: $2.2 million
Five canceled, relocated, or scaled-back events in Raleigh: $0.7 million
That doesn't even count the canceled Pearl Jam appearance and Gawd knows how many other economic expansions that were scuttled without alerting the press, let alone the canceled vacations.

Chad Nance addressed his rage at those who passed HB2 or who support it now from pulpits and other armored bunkers of self-righteousness:
For years, and currently with HB2, y’all have been happy to shame anyone you wanted, from single mothers to the gay kid down the street. Now the shame has rightly been directed back at the people who have spent years using it as a weapon. No longer is it socially acceptable to behave this way, and it is eating some of you up to such an extent that you feel obligated to act out publicly. It is those who live their lives in a state of reactionary bigotry that should feel shame. Y’all be embarrassed when you go out of your house. You should feel like people are watching you and silently judging you because of who you are. It’s your turn, folks….
They should feel shame, but I've watched those obsessives long enough to know that they're incapable of shame.

Rank Nepotism, the Berger Family Way

Daddy Berger
When the "Retention Elections for Judges" bill was filed in the North Carolina General Assembly in March 2015, the law was going to apply to all judges at the appellate level -- judges on the NC Supreme Court and the NC Court of Appeals. That law, as it was finally passed, was recently ruled unconstitutional by a three-judge panel.

That decision is on appeal to the NC Supreme Court (which has a glaring conflict of interest, but let that go for the moment). Justice Bob Edmunds has recused himself from the decision, since he is the only current justice whose longevity on the bench depends directly on whether "retention elections" go forward.

By the time that law was passed, the NC Court of Appeals judges had been removed from the bill, leaving just Supreme Court judges impervious to election challengers, which (just incidentally) left Republican Justice Bob Edmunds the sole judge in the entire state who could not be challenged by another candidate in 2016 because Justice Bob Edmunds is the only justice whose term is expiring this year.

Why were Court of Appeals judges deleted from the law, and when did that happen? It happened in the NC Senate. The Senate took out the Court of Appeals from coverage, and the House went along with that. Why? Inquiring minds think it's because the Boss of the Senate, Phil Berger, was paving the path for his son, Phil Berger Junior, to run (and win, perhaps) a seat on the NC Court of Appeals.

Sonny Boy
Had the House version of the "retention election" bill passed, no judge on the NC Court of Appeals could have been challenged in the 2016 elections by another candidate. Phil Berger Jr. wanted to be a candidate. In fact, he currently is a candidate for the NC Court of Appeals, running against Justice Linda Stephens, a Democrat. If the "retention election" law had applied to the Court of Appeals, neither Phil Berger Jr. nor anyone else could have filed to challenge an incumbent.

It sure looks like Daddy Phil made sure Sonny Boy got his shot. In the process, Daddy destroyed the logic of "retention elections," that they should apply to all of the appellate level, and he signaled to anyone watching just how partisan the motivations were behind the entire "retention election" scheme.

Berger Senior has been trying to facilitate his son's ambitions. In 2014, the father pushed the son as the best replacement for retiring Congressman Howard Coble. Junior ended up losing a primary run-off to current sitting Congressman Mark Walker. After that defeat, Junior was promptly appointed to an Administrative Law Judgeship, earning just over $100,000 per annum.

Monday, April 18, 2016

HB2, "Breathtaking Incompetence"

Wanna know how the miasma of bad policy which passed the NC General Assembly as HB2, and was then signed by Governor Squishy in minutes, came about? It all started in the early fall of 2015, well before Charlotte ever passed LGBT protections. Ned Barnett has unraveled the threads, and it makes for an enlightening primer on how not to run government.

Bottomline: McCrory is even more clueless and weak than we thought.

Friday, April 15, 2016

NC Supremes Find Another GOP Law Unconstitutional

Unanimous decision! The NC Supreme Court just issued its ruling that the 2013 law passed by the new Republican majority in the General Assembly, which took away "career status" (tenure) from veteran school teachers, violated the contracts clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Republican Justice Bob Edmunds, who's up for "retention" this year -- or reelection, depending -- wrote the opinion.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

When They Say "We've Lowered Taxes," This Is What They're Hiding

  • New tax hikes passed by the Republican General Assembly and approved by Gov. McCrory:
    • Doubling the electricity tax
    • Eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit
    • Eliminating the medical expenses deduction
    • Sales tax hike on mobile homes
    • Sales tax hike on entertainment
    • Sales tax hike on auto repair contracts
    • Eliminating the small business deduction
    • Eliminating the back-to-school sales tax holiday
    • Increasing the gas tax by $1.2 Billion
    • Eliminating the student tuition deduction
    • Eliminating the mortgage forgiveness deduction
    • New tax on college meal plans
    • Eliminating child care tax credits
    • Eliminating the deduction for college savings plans
    • Reducing tax credits for farm machinery

Other sales tax hikes passed by the Republican General Assembly and approved by Gov. McCrory:
  • Household appliances
  • Doors, windows, cabinets, flooring, roofing, fences, etc.
  • Cars, motorcycles, bicycles, modular homes
  • Office Equipment
  • Clothing and shoe repair
  • Watch and jewelry repair
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Video programming
  • Tire repairs and oil changes
  • Reloading bullets and shells
New or increased “fees” passed by the Republican General Assembly and approved by Gov. McCrory:
  • Doubled annual inspection fee for ice cream shop owners
  • Increasing the fee for the newborn screening program
  • Increased criminal court costs
  • Allowed for more toll road projects
  • Increased drivers license restoration fee
  • Raised learner’s permit fee
  • Raised fee for obtaining a duplicate license
  • Increased fee for driver improvement clinics
  • Increased fees for obtaining copies of license records.
  • Increased fee for initial driver’s license application
  • Raised taxes on car and truck rentals
  • Raised fees for private passenger vehicles
  • Increased fee on private passenger motorcycles
  • Increased fee on house trailers
  • Increased fee for plug-in electric vehicles
  • New fees for late vehicle registration
  • Raised fees on “wreckers”
  • Raised fees for semitrailers and trailers
  • Increased fees on motor carriers

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What Happens to Sand Castles?

Gov. Squishy tried to put lipstick on his HB2 pig yesterday -- issuing an "executive order" that did precisely nothing but signal to Republicans just how squishy he is. Revealingly, the real dictator in Raleigh -- Republican Senate leader Phil Berger -- immediately jumped in and said that McCrory’s order “put to rest the left’s lies” about the new law ... so that was all coordinated to look like someone somewhere was backing down, while HB2 remains exactly what it was.

Fact: The governor can't change a state law passed through the General Assembly and signed by him, cannot change it by "executive order" or by magical thinking. Can't change a bit of it. What he did was suggest that the General Assembly come back and change some provisions (though not the most offensive ones).

Rep. Paul Stam, the speaker pro tempore of the NC House, wrote in an email to the NYTimes yesterday: “A governor can’t repeal a law, and he did not. He did ask for one sentence in the law to be modified.” Stam, another powerful conservative in the General Assembly, added that he wasn't in the least bit interested in changing the law.

That the governor is now frantic to get this monkey off his back -- after repeatedly claiming that HB2 did not take away anyone's rights who had them previously -- and the fact that Phil Berger didn't stomp on his waffling shows just how spooked the entire Republican leadership has become by the reaction of the business community nationwide.

And the courts haven't even gotten their shot yet at HB2.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Match Made in Hades

What could possibly go wrong when this...

meets this...?

The woman in the pearls, who makes $750,000 per annum running a large assembly of institutions of higher education because she's a famous Republican and not because she has any experience, will be at Appalachian State University this week to view her loyal subjects. In advance of that visit, she managed to get the attention of students by issuing a decree that they'd all better follow the HB2 law.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Pat McCrory, Margaret Spellings ... Nosing Out Non-Existent Dangers

Kevin Siers, in the Charlotte Observer.

Meanwhile in South Carolina, conservative Republican Governor Nikki Haley told her state that a similar "bathroom bill" was not needed in the Palmetto State.

Haley was reacting to the introduction of another one of those "save the women and children" fear-mongering bills, introduced in the South Carolina legislature by a Republican running scared for reelection (he has three primary opponents, and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is actively campaigning against him).

It's sobering, O my children, when South Carolina looks and acts much saner than the Tar Heel State. (I can't believe the words that are about to come out of my keyboard:) Nikki Haley appears to be the only rational Republican governor left in the nation.

Catching up on some other HB2 news: Newly installed, pearl-wearing president of the University of North Carolina, Margaret Spellings, the hunting dog who follows the whistles from the Republican leadership in the NC General Assembly, has issued a letter to all UNC constituent chancellors that they must follow the letter of the HB2 law.

We can't be surprised that the lackey jumps when the masters crack the whip.

It's all quite ridiculous, as only political grandstanding can be, since no one -- no one -- has suggested exactly how such a pile of HB2 doodoo could ever be enforced.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Does Boone Have "Character" and Is This Compatible With It?

Proposed "Marketplace" development at King & Water streets
This proposed new development is a big toad on a little lily pad.

But it's also a large parking deck wrapped (and disguised) as an apartment building.

Boone needs downtown parking, and this large building will offer 333 parking places. So there's that.  It will be commercial, for-profit parking, but what would we expect when the town of Boone cannot build its own parking deck?

The developers have limited the apartments to 100 1-bedroom, 31 2-bedroom, and six 3-bedroom units. No 4-bedroom units, which is what most new student housing in Boone has offered for lease. So there's that too. The housing concept would seem to appeal more to older, quieter students. However, every apartment has an open balcony, which might give neighbors up the hill pause in contemplating a summer "party night" at The Marketplace.

That the developers are open about marketing to Appalachian State University undergraduates is a likely downside for downtown Boone, as is the out-of-all-proportion size of this proposed development. Is it to be a high-rise dormitory smack in the middle of town? Or a genuine shopping destination with restaurants and shops on the ground floor with convenient parking?

This development, like "Rivers Walk" two blocks away at the corner of Water and Poplar Grove Rd., is on a whole new permitting track, a "planned development," established by the Boone Town Council. The process puts much more power in the hands of the developers and cuts out the Board of Adjustment altogether, which means it cuts out the public's ability to present substantial, material, and relevant evidence in opposition.

The "community meeting" held Tuesday evening, when the developers laid out their plans and heard comments from the public, is now mandated for the planned development process, but the developers are not obliged to follow any of the objections or suggestions they heard. The final up-or-down approval for a planned development falls to the Town Council, which has been extremely compliant recently and enamored of high-rise, rent-by-the-bedroom developments. (We're waiting to see how the Council votes on "Rivers Walk" on March 21.)

Members of the community had numerous criticisms and suggestions on Tuesday night. Among the most substantive were those offered by Eric Plaag, chair of the Boone Historic Preservation Commission, who worried that the building as pictured was simply an out-of-character massive intrusion and would dwarf the historic Watauga Democrat building next door and the Wilcox Emporium on the back street. (Unfortunately, Plaag's comments were left out of the High Country Press coverage but was touched on by the Watauga Democrat.)

So much now depends on if and how the developers ask their architect to redesign the exterior to lessen the impression that a large toad has moved onto a very small lily pad.

The title above alludes to something attorney Jim Deal, who represents the developers, said at the beginning of the community meeting. Mr. Deal asked, rhetorically, if Boone has a definable "character," indicating, I thought, that he very much doubted that it did and was therefore not at all concerned that The Marketplace might be out of keeping with it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest Disparages PayPal But Uses PayPal

The North Carolina Republican Party is having a nervous breakdown in public over the decision by PayPal to cancel a 400-job expansion into Charlotte. PayPal announced it had changed its mind because the NC General Assembly passed, and Governor Squishy signed, HB2.

In the last 24 hours or so, Republican leaders have used all ten fingers to point in every direction. Republican Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore decided to blame Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts for the PayPal debacle, with this astounding logic: If the mayor and Charlotte city council had not been so effing lib'rul, the General Assembly wouldn't have been obliged to be so effing dickish. It's the classic rapist excuse: She was asking for it.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, one of the chief drivers of HB2, came up with a bizarre rationale for disparaging PayPal: “If a corporation wanting to do business in North Carolina does not see the worth of our children in the same light then I wish them well as they do business somewhere else.”

Interestingly, Dan Forest's exclusive "men only," "by invitation only," super-Christian "Black Mountain Weekend" uses the services of PayPal for your ease in paying the $250 cost (wildly appreciative hat tip to Greg Flynn for this find):

A Sign of the Times in Marion, NC?

"Holy cow!" (as someone tweeted minutes ago in response to the following news item:
The Marion City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a resolution calling for the repeal of HB 2. Even though the resolution has not been drafted, city council members unanimously voted to support the repeal of House Bill 2, which critics say discriminates against the LGBT community and limits local government control. Councilman Don Ramsey said the legislation should be repealed and he brought this matter before City Council. "It's discriminatory," he said. "It's an economic disaster to our state. We didn't elect state legislators to micromanage local governments." He added there was no transparency or public hearings. Mayor Steve Little said he is not able to vote on matters unless there is a tie. But he added he would've voted in favor of the resolution.
And as someone else pointed out, the Marion City Council in 2012 overwhelmingly supported Amendment One.

Black Day in Watauga County

The Watauga County Commissioners came out of a closed session yesterday morning -- where they were discussing their own Board of Adjustment's decision in the Maymead asphalt case on the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway -- and voted along party lines, 3-2, not to appeal the BOA decision to Superior Court.

Republicans Jimmy Hodges, David Blust, and Perry Yates voted no. Democrats Billy Kennedy and John Welch voted yes.

Blust and Yates will now have to answer for that in the November elections, as they are running for reelection. May we suggest an appropriate campaign slogan: "Keep Good Ole Boy Politics Alive in Watauga!"

The fix was in for Maymead. Perry Yates wouldn't meet with community members who had organized against the asphalt plant in their neighborhood -- saying repeatedly that he hadn't yet read the order issued by the BOA (the order was released March 22) -- though he had no problem at all meeting with Maymead president Wiley Roark prior to yesterday's vote. Apparently, Yates didn't get around to reading the BOA order until he voted, which is good enough if you're keeping good ole boy politics alive in Watauga. (Incidentally, Maymead president Wiley Roark made the rounds to all the elected commissioners.)

The attorney for High Country Watch, the citizens group opposing Maymead, wrote extensive analysis of the BOA decision and strongly recommended that the County Commission appeal the BOA decision. After all, the High Country Watch lawyers were on the same side with the county's special counsel during the several very long BOA hearings, arguing that County Planning Director Joe Furman had been correct to revoke the asphalt plant permit originally given to Johnny Hampton.

That attorney's analysis was shared with the County Commission (but we won't take bets on whether Perry Yates even read it). You can bet that County Attorney Stacy C. "Four" Eggers read it and persuaded the Republican commissioners in their closed session yesterday morning to ignore it. Where Good Ole Boy politics reign, the squint-eyed man is king!

Here's some of what attorney James Whitlock wrote:
...Fundamentally, the BOA Order suffers from an erroneous application of the doctrine of common law vested rights as established/interpreted by North Carolina courts, resulting in a decision that is based on errors of law, is not supported by substantial evidence, and is arbitrary and capricious. In particular, it is my opinion that the BOA's finding of common law vested rights based on substantial expenditures by JW Hampton Company and Maymead would result in reversal by the Superior Court because neither of these entities are the HILU [High Impact Land Use] Permit holder. Under North Carolina law, a party's common law right to develop and/or construct vests when the following four elements are met: (1) the owner has made substantial expenditures; (2) the expenditures were made in good faith; (3) the expenditures were made in reliance on a valid government approval authorizing the use requested by the owner; and (4) the owner would be harmed without a vested right [case citations omitted].... In regards to (1) above, the North Carolina Supreme Court has expressly held that only expenditures by the permit holder are pertinent to a common law vested rights analysis [case citations omitted].
The BOA Order, while expressly finding that Johnny Hampton was the HILU permit holder, has no factual findings related to any expenditures by Mr. Hampton in reliance on the HILU Permit, because there was no evidence of any such expenditures. Further, the BOA Order has no finding, because there was no evidence to support such a finding, that Mr. Hampton ever legally transferred the HILU Permit to either JW Hampton Company or Maymead. As a result, based on the North Carolina Supreme Court's decision in Town of Hillbsborough v Smith, any expenditures made by JW Hampton Company and/or Maymead are irrelevant to a common law vested rights analysis, and the BOA findings in this regard are erroneous as a matter of law and should be overturned....
Yesterday was a black day for legal procedure but more importantly a black day for the health and well being of hundreds of citizens who looked to Watauga County government to put the interests of voters above the continued practice of good ole boy politics.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Wells-Fargo to McCrory: Can You Spell "One-Term Pat"?

Wells-Fargo not only signed the open letter to Governor McCrory demanding the repeal of North Carolina's new anti-LBGT law (HB2), but the huge corporation also recently lit the 48-story Duke Energy Tower in Charlotte in pink, white, and blue, the colors of the transgender solidarity movement.

After Charlotte passed an ordinance that provided public accommodations protections for transgender people, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and House Speaker Tim Moore called an emergency session of state lawmakers. Within 24 hours, legislators from both chambers passed the vehemently discriminatory HB2 law, and Governor Squishy signed it late that same night.

PayPal, which just last month was announcing a plan to expand into Charlotte with 400 jobs at a global operations center, has reversed course because of HB2. Said PayPal in a prepared statement, “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture. As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.”

Read more here:

More High-Density Rent-by-the-Bedroom Housing in Downtown Boone?

Last night, the combined Boone Town Council and the Boone Area Planning Commission held a special public hearing about the proposed development at the corner of Water Street and Poplar Grove Road, "Rivers Walk," on the site of the former Southern States feed 'n' seed store.

The high-rise would exceed Boone's height limit for downtown properties of 35 feet by about 16 feet, contain 380 bedrooms, and a parking deck with a swimming pool on top. The developer promised to rent bedrooms at the top end of the market, and lease those rooms almost exclusively to Appalachian State University students.

"Rent-by-the-bedroom, yes, that's what it is," admitted the prime developer during his presentation of the project to the Council and Planning Commission.

The required "commercial space," primarily on the first floor, said the developer, would rent in the mid $20-per-square-foot range. The developer envisions at least one 2,500 sq. ft. restaurant and several other "personal service" establishments.

But parking? The parking deck and another small surface lot would accommodate 164 spaces for those 380 bedrooms. Designated parking for the commercial space would be minuscule (if available at all in reality, given the fierce competition among the projected residents).

Like "The Standard," now going up on Blowing Rock Road, the high-rise would be built almost from the street-side, with practically no setbacks (though there would be a sidewalk, to get all those commercial customers from the parking deck, further up Poplar Grove Rd., to their destination).

Two people spoke against the development. One person -- the out-of-town owner of the property -- spoke for it. The Planning Commission will reach a recommendation on the project next Monday evening, which they will forward to the Town Council for a vote on Thursday the 21st.