Rep. Brad Miller, the Democrat who represents North Carolina’s 13th District in the US House, introduced legislation on July 16 asking for a special prosecutor to pursue criminal contempt of Congress charges against Bush administration officials. In February, the House approved contempt citations against White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers for ignoring subpoenas in the investigation of the firings of US attorneys for political reasons. Under the proposed legislation, a special advocate appointed by a federal court to a two-year fixed term would be employed by the executive branch but would be granted independence to investigate administration officials. “The law explicitly requires the Justice Department to present contempt of Congress charges to the grand jury, but the Bush administration claims Congress cannot compel a US attorney to pros ecute contempt cases where the White House claims executive privilege,” Miller said. “Other presidents have made bodacious claims about their powers, but always compromised in the end. No president, not even Nixon, has gone this far before.” — JG
Rep. Howard Coble, who represents North Carolina’s 6th District, was feted by his colleague from Concord, Rep. Robin Hayes on July 15 for becoming the longest- serving Republican in the history of the North Carolina delegation. “The dean and the daddy of the delegation is not known as the rich and famous in Washington, DC, but the most eligible bachelor on the Hill,” said Hayes, who is also a Republican. “Having said that, I yield to my daddy.” The 77-year-old Coble responded, “A gentleman came up to me in Pinehurst, North Carolina and said, ‘Are you planning on retiring this year?’ Madame Speaker, I told him I was not planning on voluntarily retiring, but I did say to him that I would not try to emulate Strom Thurmond’s record.” Coble faces Greensboro Democrat Teresa Sue Bratton in the November election. The late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) holds the record as the longest serving and oldest senator, having served 48 years and retiring at the age of 100. On the same day Coble set his record, the International Foodservice Distributors Association honored him for a commitment to “reducing government regulation through [his] votes on issues such as reducing taxes, workplace regulations and other economic matters.” — JG
Where two or more are gathered
The Greensboro City Council has tabled a decision on a café ordinance amendment requested by District 4 Councilman Mike Barber on behalf of Elm Street club owner Rocco Scarfone. If passed, the new ordinance would allow restaurants to extend their hours of side walk services from 10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays to last call at 2 a.m. Council members Dianne Bellamy-Small and Goldie Wells, who respectively represent districts 1 and 2, are decidedly against it because of concerns about alcohol-fueled violence, but Barber indicated he’d like to see the good times roll. “I want that vibrant downtown and this or dinance makes sense to me,” he said. “We want people to drink downtown. We want them to drink.” At-large Councilman Robbie Perkins suggested a fact-finding field trip on Saturday from midnight to 3 a.m. so council members can check out the scene for themselves. City Attorney Terry Wood warned, “I would just advise you if you get a group of two or more to go downtown and circulate and come back and report this to council what you have found, you have created a public committee and you’re subject to the open meetings law.” He added, “It would be a public meeting and the press can follow you wherever you go.” — JG
Tax break for senior home
The Greensboro City Council voted 7-1 on July 15 to give Kisco Senior Living $1 million in economic incentives to defray the cost of extending water and sewer lines to a new community at the old Pilot-Life campus on High Point Road. The grant amounts to a 74 percent tax rebate over the community’s first four years of operation.
Executive Vice President Mitchell Brown told council that fears about the company using nonprofit status to evade taxation were unfounded: “We are and have always been a family-owned business for many years. We’ve never built anything in a 501(c)(3) forma.
We would let the legal minds try to figure out how we would not take the incentive and turn it around to be a nonprofit and avoid paying taxes. That’s certainly not what our intention is.” At-large Councilman Robbie Perkins abstained from the vote because his real estate company, NAI Piedmont Triad, represents property owner Lincoln National in the deal. The lone dissent ing vote was cast by at-large Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw. The company plans to invest $107 million in the retirement community and hire for 125 positions at an average salary of $30,600. Interim Assistant City Manager Jim Westmoreland indicated that only 27 of 83 full-time positions would exceed the Guilford County standard. Salaries range from $99,800 at the top for an executive director to $20,800 for dishwashers, servers, nutritional aides, laundry workers, drivers and receptionists. — JG
Greensboro officers face firing
The Greensboro Police Department recommended that Sgt. AS Wallace and Officer JO LeGrand of the Tactical Special Enforcement Team be fired following the conclusion of professional standards investigation, according to an announcement by the city released on July 18. Both are accused of sexually assaulting a female police officer in December 2007. The Guilford County District Attorney Doug Henderson declined to press criminal charges against the two officers.
Wallace and LeGrand have the option of appealing the decision to Chief Tim Bellamy or requesting a hearing that includes both peers and members of command staff. Final decisions in the police department may also
be overturned by the City Manager’s Office. A third officer investigated in connection with the incident, CS Stevens, remains employed by the department. — JG
PGA tourney returns to Sedgefield
The PGA Tour Wyndham Championship returns to Sedgefield Country Club outside of Greensboro on Aug. 11-17 for the first time since 1976, when it was named the Greater Greensboro Open. The event will be broad cast on the Golf Channel and CBS Sports, according to a recent letter to Sedgefield residents from the Wyndham championship. Residents who live within a planned secure perimeter will be issued hand tags to get to and from their houses the week of the tournament. — JG
Abolishing auto lawn displays
The Greensboro City Council voted 8-1 on July 15 to impose new parking guidelines on single- and two family residences, requiring them to delineate parking areas in their front yards that would comprise no more than 40 percent of the area. In other words, there will be no more parking on the grass where the neighbors can see. District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade said the practice has the potential to cause neighboring property values to depreciate. Riffing on a city ordinance that requires cars to be moved from curbside parking places once a week, District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small, who voted against the amendment, said, “Somebody’s going to have to end up playing musical cars every seven days if they don’t have enough room.” The city of Winston-Salem is considering a similar change. - JG