Gastonia

Palenick and Council Cronies to use strong arm tactics

Over in the county seat, Gastonia citizens are experiencing yet another turn from the litigious-minded city manager, Jim “Big Plan” Palenick.

 

Why not force a business to GIVE their land to the city through the eminent domain process granted to public entities? The issue is the bank building and land within “Big Plan” Palenick’s downtown renovation. The city wants the land for the “public good”, the bank wants fair market value for the property. The city says the fair market is only UP TO $600,000, the bank disagrees. Three members of city council have sided with the government – well, that’s all it takes – now it appears the citizens of Gastonia will be headed for court.

What a great use of taxpayer money! Something continues to stink in Gas-town.

 

 

Gaston: No ICE detention facility

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No Doubt!

Both the papers are now reporting that a 1,500 bed federal detention center most likely will not be built in Gaston County.

We kinda wonder why our county officials had to travel to Washington “for discussions” about this project? Wouldn’t have been a bit cheaper for Sue Myrick and former Mecklenburg Sheriff, Jim Pendergraff to have visited Gaston?

 The Gazette, ever hopeful for downtown revitalization, expressed an interest for an “ala carte” project that would be less expensive.

Seems to us that the project tab of $150 million fits into “Big Plan” Palenick’s vision for Gaston — right along with the laundry list of a “conference center/hotel”, restaurants, a hidden homeless shelter, and an $18 million baseball field.

This is leaving us wondering what sort of earmarks that Ms. Myrick is planning to dangle for us as her re-election campaign gears up. Our schools who qualify for Title I funding are shrinking even when the number of poor students grows. The estimated $1.6 Billion (yes, billion) “Garden Parkway” is still an apple of David Hoyle’s eye, but without federal funding and passage of a Toll Authority from the state, that will be out of his lifetime. Maybe he and Ms. Myrick could talk – surely there is still a bit of money at the bottom of the pork barrel for good ‘ol Gaston.

   

Headlines sell papers, content brings them back

Often, we are stirred to emotional response by the headlines of a “news” article, opinion page, and yes, even a blog headline.

A current article in today’s Gazette makes us chuckle a bit: “How Liquor Stores Stack Up in Gaston County”.

At first glance, without reading the article, one would think (even the simpletons who edit these pages), that we have stacks of ABC stores in our backwoods lovin’ neighborhoods.

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You could have a stack of books, a stack of boxes, or a stack of pallets, but stacking up liquor stores?

Of course it made us look — you did too if you clicked on the link or read it in the paper.

The content of the story is trying to make a case to combine all the community’s ABC boards into one (Re: Gastonia), and to point out that the smaller towns don’t know how to market their local operations. And of course, the Gastonia ABC general manager points out that people want to shop at larger, well lit stores. (Re: Gastonia –Cox Road or Long Avenue).

Well, we haven’t seen either dirty or poorly lit stores in either Cramerton or Mt. Holly. Yes, the selection of product is smaller, and as most retail outlets will demonstrate, product offerings tend to follow local consumer demand. Certain items that sell well at Cox Road might not do well or even be offered at Mt. Holly. We get a kick out of the fact that a Harris Teeter is nearby the Cox Road store, and “Always Low Prices” Food Lion is next to the Cramerton and Mt. Holly stores.

Hmmm…

Mt. Holly and Cramerton have Belmont’s business depending on which side of town you are coming from. It certainly is more convenient most of the time to shop locally.

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Good for the Gazette trying to imply that the yokels outside of Gastonia don’t know what they are doing. It certainly sold a couple of papers.

Crowded house in Gastown watches council commit millions

“Big Plan” Palenick had his vision and confirmation of at least 3 more years of job security voted in by the Gastonia City Council last night, 5-1. Even tenacious city-cheerleader/mayor Jennie raised her hand in the vote. We wondered about that, was she worried about a tie?

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In the so-called Downtown Revitalization plan, the former First Union building will be torn down to build a parking deck. That surely must be a good first step. Can’t find parking for the Thursday night summer events at the Rotary Pavilion and on the 4th of July, so it must be able to alleviate that mess. It is certainly very close to the other “Gastonia” destination hot-spots of the DS Botanical Gardens (11.51 miles), the Schiele (2 miles, ok 1.98 miles), and the always jumping Franklin Square 1 (4.51 miles).

It is really doubtful that the other voting members of the Gastonia City Council get it. Business markets develop over time. Government interventions to jump-start private investment have very mixed results. One key is the local community support through pride of the the financial committment, and “boots on the ground”. Many of the downtown property owners know that, have waited for the “free” money (i.e. your taxpayer $$) to flow their way and ultimately allow them to cash out.

We have no problem with property owners wanting to get the best deal for themselves, or for a community to “profit” by investment in the downtown areas. But when a plan “elbows” its way into the process, with little discussion and the spectre of class warfare below the surface, it becomes a fairness discussion.

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Moving the Salvation Army Shelter and administrative functions out of downtown, to “…hide your brothers and sisters…”, as Captain Stan Colbert has commented, is one way to rid the appearance of blight and depression. Ok, so 5 million privately contributed dollars later, the shelter is moved across the tracks and the homeless cross the Marietta Street bridge and hang out in front of the new downtown Microtel Inn and Convention Center?

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It is just a shame that this proposal also chooses to ignore the already committed investments that the city has made to renovate the Webb Theater and the private investment plans that are slowly turning.

A downtown investment is not a quick fix. Mr. Kirlin knows that. The city of Belmont knows that as well. Our downtown “beautification” is certainly taking on a life of its own, but remember, it was a decade ago and commitments by PRIVATE property owners to work together to make it all happen. The city just dealt with the streetscape and made an investment into the park area. The Belmont downtown development group (underwritten by Stowe Mills), and the revitalized downtown merchants association (re-formed when the chamber was struggling with membership), worked very hard to work on a mix of business types to hopefully balance a purpose to visit the downtown area.

That result is an apparently vibrant downtown at 9:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. Of course, that commitment also cost a visionary mayor his elected seat, and brought several more years of obstructionist cronyism before we could seriously address the need for nurturing our community soul.

Gastonia has to suffer the throes of similar tribulation – it will all work out in the end, that of which, we are hopeful.

To comment on the event last night itself:  

The Belmont Front Porch’s intrepid editors, taking pages from the political science playbooks, stationed people at the council meeting and watched the drivel unfold on television last night. The exit polls by the “watchers” definitely indicate an uprising brewing among the Gastonia electorate. As far as television is concerned, it would seem that both city council members and staff should learn to dress for the low-tech cameras that are trained on their every  utterance of  “uh”, “yeah”, “okay”, and our collective favorite,  “um”.

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Gaston College offers public speaking classes, Toastmasters International has at least two area chapters, and there are a host of community consultants that for a fee could help these elected public officials and hired staff stand before a mic and camera. Please invest your training dollars wisely if you hire or elect mumble-mouths.

Bankruptcy Lists – Fair or Foul?

Well, our beloved editors over at the Gastonia Gazette must have really run out of news to publish.

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On Friday, the Gazette began publishing bankruptcy filings as listed by the court system. What once was a required public notice posting through classified ad listing of the legal filing, now has been distilled to the basics: name, address, type of filing, and case number.

In the interest of public service, the Gazette allocated in-house resources to distill the information to the “gentle” reading public. In the Gazette’s eyes, why subject readers to the mind-numbing review of legalese that accompany the court documents? Let’s get down to the chase – just the facts: name, address, type of filing, and case number.

The outlash was immediate and very negative from the readers, a sample:

“I have been fortunate that I have not had to file bankruptcy, but I very much resent the fact that any person or family that has fallen on hard times must be exposed to further embarrassment. Does the Gazette not realize that a lot of these folks may have worked hard all their lives, lost their job due to textiles closing or possibly a family member taking ill? As a paralegal I can tell you that everyone has problems, but for the Gazette to zero in on this is sickening. Surely the paper can find a more note worthy way to fill up its extra space. I for one did not read those names listed and I encourage others not too. Shame on the Gazette for their lack of compassion” – Maryann

“I realize that this information IS public record, but how about using a little bit of good judgement here?” – Disappointed

“At best this is dumb, at worst it is a horrific attempt by the Gazette to embarrass folks already hit by heartache. You telling me news is so slow in Gastonia today that we need to publicly humiliate these folks? Really, this is in poor taste guys.” – Gouranga

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We agree with the majority on this one – keep the listing where it is required. There is no need to distill the public record further in this type of circumstance. if they wish to pursue these types of records, why not fully investigate the failure of certain businesses or even industries? Usually, the well-connected Gazette/Chamber link glosses over business closings, and then only if they impact 50 or more people. There are hundreds of small businesses established every year, and there are hundreds of failures. 

The Chamber makes a big deal out of groundbreakings, ribbon-cuttings, and position announcements. How about mentoring, monitoring, and rewarding the small privately owned businesses, rather than focusing on a family’s failure or circumstances which are sometimes beyond their own control.

The Consumer Credit Counseling program of Family Service, Inc, has a tremendous process to help families overcome mounting debt-related issues. One or twice a year the Gazette does an article about this critical community nonprofit. The bully pulpit opportunity that the Gazette wields in this case could be used for much more good than to embarass people in this manner.

Gazette, instead of the full-page ads touting your “community service” and “sponsorships”, why not do more to encourage the financial education and mentoring that is needed to gain true freedom. The very freedom that is expressed as your mission.

   

Downtown stakeholders get the skinny on Gastonia’s big plan

At this morning’s First Friday Focus, a Gaston Regional Chamber, regular event, “Big Plan” Palenick, Gastonia’s city manager/chief litigator, presented HIS big plan for Gastonia.

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Speaking before a good sized crowd of chamber members and interested others, “BP” noted that many downtown business owners supported the plan “enthusiastically”.

We already know that the city council has swallowed the kool-aid in its desperate attempt to revive a city that lost its relevance when I-85 was completed, and then again when Wal-Mart took over at both ends of town.

It now appears that the libertarian mouthpiece, the Gaston Gazette, is certainly looking more favorably on these plans as well. Their tone and style of writing is disappointing considering their distain for the TIF laws as passed in 2004.

Good luck Gastonia.

Really, we mean it…

  

Gastonia’s city manager suing former employer in New Mexico

Does THIS surprise anybody?  

He did it in Bay City, He is doing it in Rio Rancho, He will probably do it in Gastonia.

Not IF it happens, but when…

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