Dec 29, 2008

Greensboro News and Record Trifecta on Protest Petitions

Protest Petitions for Greensboro was front and center in the Greensboro News and Record on Sunday December 29, 2008. The Trifecta consisted of an interview with Keith Brown, Mark Binker front page article and lead editorial .

Below is what was written about Protest Petitions for Greensboro

10 questions with Keith Brown here is the link CLICKHERE

Greensboro News and Record Capital Beat Reporter Mark Binker here is the link CLICKHERE

Below is the quote in paper

"Outside the budget, legislators will find themselves dealing with a number of issues of particular importance to Greensboro and the area.

Two of the most high-profile: Greensboro politicians are discussing returning the power of protest petitions to the city. Such petitions allow neighbors to make it more difficult to develop or redevelop a piece of property by forcing a super-majority of the City Council to approve land-use changes.Vaughan and Rep. Pricey Harrison have expressed interest and have said they would work to return the power to Greensboro's citizens. " Note the other issue is called Jordan Lakes Rules.

Then Lead Editorial with the title called " Editorial: An early line on 2009" , had this to say

" The legislature restores Greensboro citizens' right to file protest petitions in rezoning cases -- but it turns out that all proposed new development projects please everyone."

Now that is funny about the proposed development. Go ask the neighborhood near Elm Street and Cornwallis about pleasing them on that zoning case.

Here is the link to that article CLICKHERE

Dec 28, 2008

Greensboro News and Record 10 Questions Article on Protest Petition for Greensboro and Keith Brown

In today's local section of the Greensboro News and Record Sunday December 28, 2008 they have a segment called "10 Questions" CLICKHERE where they interview local citizens and ask them questions.

I was asked to come in for an interview to talk about the issues and how I got started on my local blogs . It is with great thanks that I want everyone who has helped me along the way on these 2 blogs Triadwatch and Protest Petitions for Greensboro .

Below is the whole article for all to see.


If you are thinking about running for office in Guilford County, you might want to start reading Keith Brown's blogs. That's because the Greensboro native and current High Point resident has made it his business to investigate area power brokers.In his blog Triad Watch, he has taken on developers and uncovered incomplete campaign finance reports from local pols. His other blog, Protest Petition for Greensboro, advocates for a statute that requires a super majority to approve zoning cases when abutters don't approve.Brown sat down with reporter Amanda Lehmert to talk about his work as a watchdog.

Q. Why did you start blogging?

A. There was a rezoning case off Friendly Avenue. It was such a controversial case, I think it barely passed City Council, and Robbie Perkins was the deciding vote on that case. I said, "Listen, this is unfair to the citizens of Greensboro. They need to have the right to have a protest petition like everyone else." A lot of the bloggers started to get into it. That was the next avenue. You need to get a blog.

Q. When did you start

A. I started the protest petition blog back in February 2008.

Q. What about your other blog,

A. Triad Watch came about because I pigeonholed myself into the protest petition blog. So if I ever wanted to write about any other avenue - for example transparency in government, Heart of the Triad, rezoning cases - I couldn't write about it on a protest petition blog.

Q. What makes blogging a good format for you?

A. I think there are a lot of issues out there that places like the Greensboro News & Record won't write about. For example, the campaign contributions is the big thing I am into. I look at the lax reporting of a lot of people from Guilford County on their campaign contributions.

Q. How do you research campaign contributions?

A. You can go on the Guilford County Board of Elections Web site and actually see who is giving campaign contributions. You can really see who are the movers and the shakers in town and who is giving money to who. That's what I really want to report about.

Q. Right now you have a letter out to the state Board of Elections questioning a local campaign finance report. How did that come about? What were you looking for and what did you find?

A. I was just looking at the Simkins PAC (political action committee). ... One of the things I noticed was there was a $5,000 contribution from Action Greensboro, and that was reported under individual contributions in the Sim kins PAC.You have to wonder, why do they give a $5,000 contribution to the Sim kins PAC? It was because they wanted all those (Greensboro 2008) bonds to pass, I'm sure. That was one of those things that I thought, this isn't right because it was under individual contributions. I am trying to figure out , can Action Greensboro, as a nonprofit, give money to a political action committee? Second of all, I would like to know, why was that labeled under individual contributions?

Q. What other kinds of issues have you uncovered in the campaign finance reports?

A. (County Commissioner Skip Alston's second quarter report) had nine contributions and they had nothing underneath for job profession or where they worked. Some didn't even have an address under there. The North Carolina general statute states that you have to have name, address and who their employer is. It's called transparency in government. We have to know who these people are and who they are giving to. Do they have a zoning case in front of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners? It's not just Skip Alston . Larry Proctor (who ran for at-large commissioner) is another. (County Commissioner) Paul Gibson was another one.

Q. Who has done a good job filling out their paperwork?

A. Kirk Perkins was a gold star Guilford County commissioner. He had everything. There was not one thing wrong with his campaign contributions. I don't see why they can't do the same thing Kirk Perkins did. He's his own campaign treasurer. So if anyone wants to learn, learn from him.

Q. How did you become interested in doing this kind of investigative work?

A. There was that (Society of Professional Journalists) Citizen Journalism Academy. I did go to that. One of the main things I got out of it was (learning about) the Freedom of Information Act.

Q. As a High Point resident, why are you so interested in things that happen in Greensboro?

A. I have lived here my whole life. I grew up here. There are things I want to do in High Point, too. I want to see a city like High Point, which is in the top 10 in the state, actually come into the year 2009 and start videotaping their City Council meetings.High Point needs that because nobody goes to the meetings.

Dec 2, 2008

GREENSBORO CITIZENS Mark Your Calender for January 21, 2009 PROTEST PETITIONS is on the Agenda

Mayor Yvonne Johnson made a motion even before the agenda started to delay talk on bringing back PROTEST PETITIONS to Greensboro till the January 21, 2009 Greensboro City Council Meeting. If you want to see what the Mayor had to say CLICKHERE then proceed to December 2, 2008 at the 13:45 minute mark on video. Then at 2 hours and 25 minute mark they passed a motion to continue Protest Petitions to January 21, 2009 with a 9-0 vote for item #25.

Here is what Mayor Johnson had to say,"There has been several calls about Protest Petition and a lot of people thought it would be on in January and I would like to know if you had a problem having it on the agenda for January 21, 2009.Is that all right that we do that a number of people had called and I got the message that many of them thought that it would be on in January and I think we need the time to really get a good history of how this started, what's different,what we are doing is it marketability different etc. etc.. All in favor say I and nobody was opposed."

If you as citizens of Greensboro don't think you need Protest Petitions , all you need to do is know that the special interest group Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition are fighting this issue tooth and nail on bringing back Protest Petitions to the zoning process and deny you as a citizen the right to a Protest Petition in the zoning process.

As a Triad resident it is amazing to know that there is a North Carolina General Statute 160a-385 and 386 where every city in the state of North Carolina abides by this city general statute except Greensboro . This means that if you want to fight a zoning case and are none too happy with the case brought before the city council that every other city can bring to the council a valid Protest Petition from High Point to Summerfield to Jamestown to Pleasant Garden to Kernersville to Raleigh to Charlotte and let's add Murphy to Manteo but not Greensboro.

You might not think or know much about Protest Petitions or how they effect me in the zoning process until it happens to your neighborhood. There has been plenty of rezoning cases just in the past year and the past month and even next month where it seems like neighbors in Grensboro and Greensboro only where having a Protest Petition would have been warranted and used for numerous reasons.

For example it looks like neighbors off of cornwallis and elm streets are none too happy with this rezoning case coming in front of the zoning commission CLICKHERE , and a local blogger by the name of David Wharton had this to say at Ed Cone's blog, "And yes, Keith, I do support the protest petition, and think it would be very useful in this situation!"Thanks Mr. Wharton for the endorsement of bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro.

This blog cannot stress enough how important it is to show up in force at the Greensboro City Council meeting on January 21, 2009 to show support and speak to the council how you feel.

But if you can't show up please either e-mail the Greensboro City Council CLICKHERE , or call Mayor Yvonne Johnson at 336-373-2396 or CLICKHERE for the Mayor's information.