Thursday, June 27, 2024

The Corruption Destroying the Town of Summerfield


A tweet from NC House member Pricey Harrison (Guilford Co.) last night caught my eye, because it reveals so much about the pay-to-play corruption of the North Carolina General Assembly under its current Republican super-majority:

#ncga votes to strip #Summerfield of a significant portion of its town at the behest of a developer who happens to be a large campaign donor. The largest deannexation in #NC history. Coming to a community near you soon. The best Legislature money can buy. #ncpol

The bill is H 909, "Various Local Provisions."  "Local" bills are convenient cover for the big hand of Raleigh meddling in local municipalities, usually for the sake and profit of special interests who want things the local city won't otherwise give them. The Summerfield deannexation is contained in Section 10 of H 909 and is shocking in its thoroughness of removing a huge portion of the town from control of the town.

Summerfield may ring a bell, if you followed last year's attempt by Senate boss Phil Berger to get new gambling casinos in the state. Turns out H 909 is the second attempt to deannex much of Summerfield, as it was part of Berger's original plan to help out the casino gambling industry. I wrote this last September:

Look what else Berger's got up to because of that casino:

So Wednesday (this week), Phil Berger gets the Senate to vote to de-annex almost 1,000 acres of the little town of Summerfield in Guilford County, pop. 11,000, a bedroom community suburb of Greensboro that has stringent zoning laws about development. Berger takes the land away from Summerfield and gives it to Guilford County. "The de-annexation bill was requested by developer David Couch, who wants to build apartments and other housing" on at least some of those 1,000 acres. The track happens to lie 10 miles from the casino site. Who wouldn't notice it was going to be high-density housing for the hundreds of low-wage workers a gambling casino will need -- the dealers, floor-walkers, servers, security, and maintenance workers. Exactly the kind of development that an upscale suburban bedroom community like Summerfield would reject -- and, yes, it's a class thing. (NOTE: Berger has constantly pumped up the idea of the casino as a great job-creator for local people. But it's sobering to know that the "Average Casino Dealer Salary" in North Carolina -- Eastern Band Cherokee casino and the Catawba Two Kings casino -- currently: $27,429 per annum, or $13.79 an hour.)

Pricey Harrison doesn't say so, but David Couch was "the large campaign donor" she speaks of. He gave some $11,000 to Phil Berger's campaign.

Whatever else you call it, it's government corruption in plain sight.

Local news coverage by WGHP, wherein Mr. Berger figures prominently:


Wolf's Head said...

While I am totally opposed to state casinos, I am totally for the deindexation of incorporated areas if voted on by the people.

It would be a great check on tin god assholes such as the Boone Town Council, who had their ETJ taken away because of egregious, capricious and arrogant ordinances.

As for legislation favoring corporations both sides are guilty, and as Nigel Farage has stated we are now in a post capitalism period of Corporatism, where governments and corporations are best butt buddies, and both screw the people.

Anonymous said...

Wolf’s Head, I appreciate your attempt to recast Boone losing their ETJ as some kind of righteous response to local tyranny, but the tyrants were the ones that pushed it through. Dan Soucek straight up lied to the State Legislature about “walking the neighborhoods of the ETJ” and getting their feedback. He lied for property developers that didn’t want zoning, steep slope rules, or anything else to protect local neighborhoods. After Soucek himself had this local passed and left his term early under a cloud of financial reporting irregularities, he got in on the real estate rental game on his own street - which his old neighbors don’t appreciate. There was no justice in Boone losing their ETJ. It was just another case of a politician and local businessman enriching themselves at the expense of the people that live here.