City Council Candidates

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Robbie Perkins

This candidate has filed to run for office but did not respond to multiple invitations to add their information for free to this website.

Nancy Vaughan Nancy Vaughan (D), 52

Message to Voters
I have a history of fighting for what I believe in. I have never taken the easy way out. I am prepared and focused to move Greensboro in a positive direction.

Top Issues
Jobs & Economic Development: Greensboro is a resilient City. We are transitioning from our legacy employers to more diverse industry clusters. We must make sure that we have a prepared workforce and the infrastructure in place to support economic growth.

Neighborhood Stabilization We must invest in strong neighborhoods. Neighborhoods across the city deserve the same level of service and attention. Safe affordable housing, access to resources, safety and economic development.

Solid Waste Management We must find a long-term cost effective solution for our solid waste disposal. We must create and implement a plan for long-term sustainable waste management, waste reduction and recycling.

What have you done, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
I think we should revisit the Council Financial Disclosure form. Use a form similar to what is used at the state level, modified for Council business and extended to Board and Commission members.
Nancy Vaughan
Occupation: Community Volunteer
Education: Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT (1979-1981) Local interest: Impact Greensboro and Undoing Racism
Age: 52
Affiliation: Democratic

Phone: 336-215-0192
Nancy Vaughan on FacebookNancy Vaughan on Twitter

Marikay Abuzuaiter Marikay Abuzuaiter (D), 59

Message to Voters
My voting record proves that I have kept my promise to listen to ALL citizens & to have all stakeholders "at the table" on issues/concerns.

Top Issues
Economic development: Council can not CREATE jobs, but creating the proper environment to attract employers should be our top priority. Site-ready acres are important, but I also believe that addressing small business concerns will, in turn, attract larger businesses.

Infrastructure and maintenance New infrastructure may attract economic development, but our current infrastructure (roads, water system, buildings) is crumbling. We MUST prioritize the maintenance for what we have before we pursue new initiatives. Businesses DO notice!

Poverty/wants and needs 20% of our children live in poverty. While we are able to raise millions for what some citizens "want" it appears to me that we should be raising millions for what we NEED. In these economic times we need to listen to what our citizens NEED!

What have you done, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
When a citizen requests information from me I have supplied it! Many times it has only been an answer to a question or direction on where to find an answer. I have never ignored a citizen request.
Marikay Abuzuaiter
Occupation: Owner, Mahi's Restaurant
Education: Graduate of Greensboro College, Impact Greensboro, Greensboro Citizens Academy, Greensboro Citizens Police Academy
Age: 59
Affiliation: Democratic

Phone: 336-314-9620
Marikay Abuzuaiter on FacebookMarikay Abuzuaiter on Twitter

Mike Barber Mike Barber (D), 51

Message to Voters

Top Issues
Job Growth: It is important that we create, and market, a Greensboro that is attractive for job growth, relocation, and local investment.

Community Safety: Closely examine the metrics that reflect crime clusters and incidents and reallocate resources to address issues. Identify the top 7 or 8 commercial and entertainment districts, not simply Downtown, and provide adequate policing.

Fiscal Management: Develop monthly, simple to understand, snapshots of the metrics that measure our city's financial health. Identify and examine our unfunded future debt, such as pensions, retirements and some debt obligations. Create and implement an employee suggestion program rewarding employees monetarily for finding cost savings, as opposed to feeling obligated to spend annual budgets to receive funding the following year.

What will you do, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
Recommend utilizing key word software that places most emails on a server and available to the public, which will also reduce the high volume of public record requests and cost. Create a panel to review other correspondence and flagged emails. Create a 3rd public monthly meeting for speakers which actually allows for discussion between council members and public.
Mike Barber
Occupation: Attorney/CEO The First Tee of the Triad
Education: Grimsley High School.....UNC/UNC-G B.A. Economics/ Juris Doctorate-Campbell University5
Age: 51
Affiliation: Democratic

Phone: 336-580-4241

Jean Brown Jean Brown (R), 73

Message to Voters
I will represent all the citizens but especially those who believe that they do not have a voice in city government.

Top Issues
unnecessary spending The budget needs to be balanced and all expenditures that are not necessary for our city needs to be eliminated.

foolish regulations We should look at the many regulations that have taken control of our lives and brought us under government control.

Arts center We should not help finance anything that a majority of our citizens are against.

What will you do, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
Meet more directly with citizens at town meetings and listen to the advice and complaints of the people we represent
Joseph Landis
Occupation: retired
Education: Graduated from Sumner School and Rockingham Community College where I majored in Travel and Tourism. Took additional classes at GTCC where I studied Spanish.
Age: 73
Affiliation: Republican

Phone: 919 904 8222

Ben Holder Ben Holder (D), 42

Message to Voters
People should vote for me because of my track record and what I have gotten accomplished. I have continuously been a positive force.

Top Issues
Hire Police Chief: According to my sources, Miller told his command staff that he was leaving on Feb 1, 2014. The incoming GPD rookie class is the last one Miller will bring in. Hiring a chief is priority 1. We need a dynamic search for a great chief.

Hire City Manager Denise Turner Roth should not be our city manager. She has had a horrendous time since she obtained the position. She has lost the trust of many staff members and is not looked favorably upon in the publics eye. Greensboro must do better.

Hire City Attorney If there is one department in the city that operates at the lowest form possible, it's the legal staff. The current attorney well, here:

What will you do, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
I have been the guiding light for Greensboro for a decade. Nobody in this city, not the media or the government, has fought for transparency and uncovered lies as successfully as I have. I do it.
Ben Holder
Occupation: Property Manager
Education: BA Salem College
Age: 42
Affiliation: Democratic

Phone: 336-988-9857
Ben Holder's blog Ben Holder on Twitter

Yvonne Johnson Yvonne Johnson (D), 70

Message to Voters
I love this city, and its people. I have served them with commitment, vision, and a deep sense of caring.

Top Issues
Jobs & Economic Development The city council should support economic development and job growth, by making sure we have site ready tracks of land, and infrastructure in place to attract new businesses to the city. We also need to continue to support our small businesses.

Good Quality of Life We need to maintain a good balance of activities ie., Arts, culture, and recreation, so the quality of life in Greensboro remains viable for our residents and others considering moving here.

Improve Public Transportation TA needs assessment should be conducted to see what is needed, and what people are not using, as well as to learn how we can better serve those who use public transportation.

What have you done, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
I have always tried to provide vital information when asked. Unless there is a personnel issue, I answer questions and share information.
Yvonne Johnson
Occupation: Non-Profit Executive Director
Education: Master\'s Degree in Counseling from NC A&T State University Honorary Doctorate from Bennett College BA in Psychology from Bennett College
Age: 70
Affiliation: Democratic

Phone: 336-255-3060
Yvonne Johnson website

Chris Lawyer Chris Lawyer (R), 34

Message to Voters
I want to help ensure that Greensboro is maximizing the vast potential that we have right here in our city in order to be the best we can be.

Top Issues
Budgets: We need to ensure that our budgets are focused on the needs of our city and not wants. Our budgets need to maximize efficiency in as many areas as possible. Being responsible with tax payer dollars is of the utmost importance.

Business/Jobs We need to focus on creating a business environment that is friendly and as seamless as possible for both large and small businesses. City Council can't create jobs, but it can make the environment for business as conducive as possible.

Public safety and Infrastructure. These two areas are a bedrock of city government. These are high priority areas that are a need and not a want. We must be sure that these are areas of focus rather than just another item in a budget.

What will you do, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
When we are addressing an issue there must be full disclosure available at all times. We need to be as inclusive as possible of all citizens in the governing process.
Chris Lawyer
Occupation: Physician Assistant
Education: BS in Exercise and Sports Science, James Madison University '03 Master of Physician Assistant Studies King's College '05
Age: 34
Affiliation: Republican

Phone: 324-9472
Chris Lawyer websiteChris Lawyer on FacebookChris Lawyer on Twitter

T. Dianne Bellamy-Small

This candidate has filed to run for office but did not respond to multiple invitations to add their information for free to this website.

Sharon Hightower

This candidate has filed to run for office but did not respond to multiple invitations to add their information for free to this website.

Jamal Fox Jamal Fox (D), 25

Message to Voters
To become an innovative forward thinking city we must have the right blend of knowledge, experience, skills, and ideas to sustain our city.

Top Issues
Community Greensboro neighborhoods should reflect the needs of our citizens. It is critical that our community knows we care. We will strengthen our relationship, educate, and empower our citizens in hope to provide a sense of pride in their community.

Economic Development The City of Greensboro must be fiscally responsible. A responsible balanced budget is not a limitation but it is a road map to sustainable future with spending priorities established rationally and available funds allocated accordingly.

Public Safety The City of Greensboro must have a professional police force with sufficient personnel and resources to not only respond to crime in the area but also work to reduce crime in Greensboro.

What will you do, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
I will strengthen the communication between the city and community i.e. town halls.I will work hard and be accessible to hear concerns, work with the community to find solutions and build trust.
Jamal Fox
Occupation: Adjunct Professor
Education: MPA, Capella University BA in Political Science, NC A&T State University
Age: 25
Affiliation: Democratic

Phone: 336-612-3653
Jamal Fox websiteJamal Fox on FacebookJamal Fox on Twitter

Jim Kee Jim Kee (D), 55

Message to Voters
When I was elected to city council in 2009, district two had two million dollars of economic development investment going on. Today, district two has over three hundred million dollars of economic dev

Top Issues
Economic Development Greensboro is the third largest city in North Carolina in size but ranks seventh in median income. City leaders have to give primary focus to providing ways of creating and sustaining small businesses, while attracting medium to large businesses

Public Safety We have done a good job keeping crime low and providing public safety for our citizens. However, there is always room for improvement. GPD has kept crime low and is currently down nine percent year over year. Our fire department continues to be

Infrastructure Providing new infrastructure in the right areas is key to growing and sustaining this city. We have to concentrate on areas of expected growth within our city limits and adjacent to our city limits that do not have annexation constraints or where

What have you done, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
I continue to keep the citizens informed regarding proposed investments such as the performing arts center and the Florida street extension. I encourage citizen participation on all items.
Jim Kee
Occupation: Developer and property manager
Education: Bachelor of Science in Economics from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Age: 55
Affiliation: Democratic

Phone: 336-285-8378
Jim Kee website

Zack Matheny Zack Matheny (R), 40

Message to Voters
My hope is that the citizens of Greensboro recognize my strength as a leader on City Council, my ability to rationalize and bring common sense to issues, and asking important questions in striving us to move forward.

Top Issues
Economic development/job creatin Our region lost 90k jobs from 2000-2010, we have to do what we can in ED. I currently chair the first ever City Economic Development Task Force, where we are actively working to create solutions for our City.

Public safety Our Police and Fire departments are a major backbone for our community. We continue to work diligently to tackle issues and maintain proper levels of safety in our City. I work with the Chief's to ensure they have the tools to do the job.

Fiscal Responsibility Throughout my tenure on Council we have never raised taxes (actually we had a decrease albeit small) and we continue to make solid investments in out community. I promise to continue to be a good steward of our taxpayer dollars.

What have you done, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
Over my years on council I have gotten closed meetings taped so at sometime they can be released for public and I have argued for meetings to be open to all. I am accessible and open with all topics.
Zack Matheny
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Education: North Carolina State University
Age: 40
Affiliation: Republican

Phone: 336-686-1336
Zack Matheny on Facebook Zack Matheny on Twitter

Wendell Roth Wendell Roth (R), 47

Message to Voters
Greensboro is an awesome place to live and work and I am confident we can make it even better. If elected, I will always be approachable

Top Issues
Jobs Job creation must be placed back at the top of the City Council's priorities. We need to award more city contracts to existing Greensboro based businesses, creating local jobs and revenues. As an entrepreneur, I have learned first-hand that start

Fiscal Responsibility Greensboro has the highest tax rate and highest unemployment rate of any city in North Carolina. Greensboro's tax rate is 65% higher than Raleigh's and our unemployment rate is about 30% higher. Higher taxes mean fewer companies which mean fewer

Term Limits The best way for a city to continuously improve is to ensure a constant influx of new ideas. I will promote an extension of the city council term to four years COUPLED with a three-term limit. Serving as Mayor would also count as one of the three

What will you do, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
We need to conduct the public's business in front of the public. In addition, we need to simplify the city's accounting methods and require transparency for city funded initiatives and entities
Wendell Roth
Occupation: Entrepreneur and Consultant
Education: Bachelor of Industrial Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Age: 47
Affiliation: Republican

Phone: 336.508.1981
Wendell Roth website Wendell Roth on Facebook

Nancy Hoffman

This candidate has filed to run for office but did not respond to multiple invitations to add their information for free to this website.

Bill Knight

This candidate has filed to run for office but did not respond to multiple invitations to add their information for free to this website.

Sal Leone Sal Leone (D), 41

Message to Voters
I am like my voters, a working and tax paying citizen.

Top Issues
The people must come first: The concept of the people first is simple but is it practiced in council. The council seems to give who they want loans. There always seems to be a conflict with council and anyone in real estate. The council needs to listen more often.

Unemployment: I am not sure council is aware of the unemployment rate. The number seems to stay in the same range for years.

Poverty : The rate is high in the Greensboro area but all I hear is talk. There are some lost council people. The council wants to spend millions on GPAC, millions on forgiveable loans, but children go hungry, the IRC is under funded.

What will you do, specifically, to increase transparency in city government?
The answer is to involve the community in major votes, community meetings for public feedback.
Sal Leone
Occupation: Law Enforcement
Education: AAS degree, over a 120 credits total. I have over 600 hours in FEMA traing, hundreds of other hours in law enforcement training, Advance law enforcement certification, general instructor for law enforcement.
Age: 41
Affiliation: Democratic

Phone: 336 554-5555
Sal Leone website

Tony Wilkins

This candidate has filed to run for office but did not respond to multiple invitations to add their information for free to this website.

Blogs & News

Candidates in the news and local blogs

council photo with edit 012215--News&Record Greensboro Alt
January 22nd, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Greensboro's City Council is structurally well-balanced. It consists of an elected mayor, three at-large members and five district representatives.

Greensboro City Council selects site for downtown Union Square campus--Yahoo News
January 20th, 2015 -- 8:09 PM

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It may be one of the last steps before construction of a downtown Greensboro college campus. Tonight the Greensboro City Council voted 8-1 to select a two-acre site at the corner Lee and Arlington streets as the location for the new Union Square Campus. The campus would be shared by UNCG, NC A&T, […]

Greensboro City Council selects site for downtown Union Square
January 20th, 2015 -- 7:58 PM

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It may be one of the last steps before construction of a downtown Greensboro college campus. Tonight the Greensboro City Council voted 8-1 to select a two-acre site at the corner Lee and Arlington streets as the location for the new Union Square Campus. The campus would be shared by UNCG, NC A&T, […]

Greensboro College Art Exhibition Featuring Jody Servon Opens Friday, Feb. 6--Yes!Weekly
January 20th, 2015 -- 4:07 PM

"Greensboro College's Department of Art presents "Seen, Heard, and Remembered," an exhibition of collaborative art projects by North Carolina artist Jody Servon, Feb. 6-27 in the Anne Rudd Galyon Gallery in Cowan Humanities Building on campus.

An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6. The exhibit will be on display during regular gallery hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays. The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.

Among the projects included in the exhibition is "Saved," an elegantly executed series of photographs and prose poems that candidly embraces a topic Americans avoid talking about even though it is an experience we all share: the death of a loved one.

A stirring photographic and lyric exploration of life, loss, and memory, "Saved" challenges the American taboo surrounding death and immerses readers in its relics. This thought-provoking collaborative work is intimate, spare, funny, and disturbing; it pulls audiences in through the emblematic objects that transport memories to the living and keep relationships alive.

Selections from this series by Jody Servon and Lorene Delany-Ullman include  full-color images of familiar objects, ranging from a Boy Scout shirt to a kitchen colander, photographed on a white background to show the wear apparent on each surface.

From interviews with the object owners, short prose poems were composed to correspond with each image. The prose poems evoke the relationships between the objects, the relatives or friends who saved them, and the original owners.

Servon also will debut "Seen," a new work created with Greenboro College students. Servon borrowed books from the campus library, selected images for students to study, and asked students to write what they saw in the images. Both the library books and student writings will be on display.

Jody Servon's art projects include installations, drawings, photographs, sculptures, video, and social experiments. Her work has appeared in exhibitions and screenings and as public projects in the U.S., Canada, and China and is included in the 2015 exhibition "Collective Actions" at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston Salem.

Servon has participated in residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Contemporary Artists Center, and Super G Experiential Residency and was a conceptual artist in residence for the Town of Clayton in North Carolina in 2012.

She has received multiple awards including two fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council. Articles about and reviews of her work have appeared in: The New York Times, The Sun Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post, The Miami Herald, the Arizona Daily Star and The Winston Salem Journal. Servon's work was featured in New American Paintings Issue 70 and Artful Dodge issue 50/51. Selections from "Saved" appeared in Issue 74 of AGNI Magazine and in the Winter/Spring 2014 edition of Lunch Ticket.

She currently serves as an associate professor and gallery director at Appalachian State University.

Greensboro College's Department of Art offers the B.A. or B.S. in Art and the B.A. in Art Education. The program, with individual attention to students, combines classic art principles with the liberal-arts foundations of diverse branches of inquiry, including both science and the humanities, so that students can incorporate as much of the world as possible into their own art-making.

For more information, contact Prof. Jim Langer, department chair, at 336-272-7102, ext. 5361, or email

Greensboro College provides a liberal arts education grounded in the traditions of the United Methodist Church and fosters the intellectual, social, and, spiritual development of all students while supporting their individual needs.

Founded in 1838 and located near downtown Greensboro, the college enrolls about 1,150 students from 26 states, the District of Columbia and 10 nations in its undergraduate liberal-arts program and four master's degree programs. In addition to rigorous academics and a well-supported Honors program, the school features a 17-sport NCAA Division III athletic program and dozens of service and recreational opportunities."

- A Press Release

Mayor's Husband Guilty Of Accepting Illegal Campaign Contributions--East Greensboro Performing Arts Center
January 13th, 2015 -- 10:46 AM

Folks say you are known by who you keep company with. If that's true then Greensboro Mayor Nancy Barakat Vaughan sure has herself in a pickle doing photo shoots for the Triad Business Journal with known gangster Rocky Scarfone and being married to North Carolina State Senator Don Vaughan who recently paid fines for illegal campaign contributions. As a matter of fact, according to the State Board

On Roy Carroll and "Business Professionals" for Greensboro City Council, from Ed Cone, Jun 30, 2009--East Greensboro Performing Arts Center
January 10th, 2015 -- 9:46 AM

"Mayor Yvonne Johnson, along with Guilford County Commission chair Skip Alston, Community Foundation president Walker Sanders, and a representative from the school board, will fly to Washington this week to lobby elected officials for federal money for an education-based redevelopment project at the corner of South Elm and Lee. The request for $15 million will be made to Senators Burr and Hagan,

John Hammer's use of "liberal" is pejoritave and a sweeping generalization--East Greensboro Performing Arts Center
January 8th, 2015 -- 11:46 AM

The rhino has always had a subtle racist agenda ricky  "I love the fact that so many liberals now believe that changing the number of elected officials on an elected board should require a referendum. Should we hate, slur, scapegoat, resent, envy, stigmatize or stereotypically generalize? The system that we have for electing the City Council currently was not the result of a referendum.

New and Record's Allen Johnson "challenge to Trudy Wade"--East Greensboro Performing Arts Center
January 5th, 2015 -- 2:46 PM

"State Sen. Trudy Wade won’t say much about her interest in pruning the size of the Greensboro City Council from nine to seven members.   Nor will she say whose water she is carrying by suggesting such a change, though Roy Carroll appears to be one of the parties involved. As an elected public official, Wade is neither leading nor being very public. Nor are those unnamed business leaders whom

Stuff--Abner's Inquisition
December 14th, 2014 -- 11:45 PM

The email;

From: George Hartzman
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2014 7:56 AM
Subject: Seven International City/County Management Association (ICMA) 457 Retirement Plan Fee Comparisons

Per ICMA's Plan Service Reports;

San Antonio's $254,097,157 Q2 2014 Plan Service Report (page 83) states;

"As of June 30, 2014, the estimated annual cost to your plan is... (0.82% of plan assets)"
Orlando's $141,985,619 Q1 2014 Plan Service Report (page 105) states;

"As of March 31, 2014, the estimated annual cost to your plan is... (0.64% of plan assets)"
The City of Durham's $25,531,109 Q2 2014 Plan Service Report (page 87) states;

"As of June 30, 2014, the estimated annual cost to your plan is... (1.06% of plan assets)"
The City of Greensboro's $87,898,314 Q1 2014 Plan Service Report (page 66) states;

"As of March 31, 2014, the estimated annual cost to your plan is... (0.84% of plan assets)"
The City of Wilmington's $26,047,983 Q1 2014 Plan Service Report (page 68) states;

"As of March 31, 2014, the estimated annual cost to your plan is... (0.81% of plan assets)"
The City of Charlotte's $44,774,547 Q1 2014 Plan Service Report (page 78) states;

"As of March 31, 2014, the estimated annual cost to your plan is... (0.80% of plan assets)"
The City of Winston Salem's $19,933,124 Q1 2014 Plan Service Report (page 49) states;

"As of March 31, 2014, the estimated annual cost to your plan is... (0.47% of plan assets)"
Please ask ICMA to match Winston Salem's fee structure or better to leave more money in employee accounts or fire them.


George Hartzman
From: George Hartzman 
Date: October 7, 2014 at 1:23:23 PM EDT
Subject: This evening's 3 minutes.

George Hartzman,

I teach financial ethics, foresaw the 2008 financial crises, after which I became a whistleblower against Wells Fargo, and I have found the financial industry engages in profit skimming via limited transparency that provides little to no value to investors who pay the fees.

...In the fall of 2013, I analyzed Greensboro's 457 retirement plan to see if the City's employees were being overcharged for administration and investment management.

Greensboro’s 457 plan provider is the Washington DC based “non-profit” International City/County Management Association, or ICMA whose CEO made more $2 million in 2012.

I found that;

North Carolina's 231,000 plan participants pay about $217 each for recordkeeping per year.

Greensboro's 2,781 ICMA 457 participants pay about $266 each for recordkeeping per year.

But Winston Salem, who rolled over their plan's 1,029 ICMA 457 participant balances in 2012, pay about $91 each per year.

I wrote about Greensboro's plan on April 23, 2014 for Yes Weekly and met again with city staff a couple of months back.

Greensboro's employees are getting fleeced by the state and ICMA and no one seems to want to do anything about it.

Lowering the costs your employees are paying within these plans can create higher levels of economic impact after retirement, as more money would be available to be spent locally.

I can explain how to lower these costs for Greensboro's employees in about 15 minutes.

Please invite me to a City Council work session to look into increasing the values of our community's retirement accounts.
From: Vigue, Mary
Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2014 1:26 PM
To: Hammond, Connie; Blackburn, Joan
Subject: Fwd: This evening's 3 minutes.

Can I please get something to respond to this tonight?

From: Westmoreland, Jim
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2014 12:11 PM
To: Department Heads
Subject: Contact(s) from Geroge Hartzman

I’ve been made aware that Mr. Hartzman may be calling around to some
of you (and possibly some of your employees) to ask questions about our
457 plan. If he calls you, please refer him to Mary Vigue for follow-up.


Jim Westmoreland, PE, City Manager
City of Greensboro
300 W. Washington Street
Greensboro, NC 27402-3136
On Oct 14, 2014, at 11:38 AM, "Zack Matheny"

Mary -

I spent over 8 years in this industry as a professional and have invested in mutual
funds since I was in high school.

I would like to set a meeting with you, and anyone else that oversees this

There are some changes that could be made and their response was

Please, let me know when you can meet.

From: Vigue, Mary
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 12:46 PM
To: Matheny, Zack
Cc: Hammond, Connie; Carruthers, Tom; Lusk, Rick
Subject: Re: Council Request- ICMA-RC

I am having a conference call with ICMA-RC on Monday if you want to meet prior to that so
staff can share your concerns and possible changes.

After today I am available the rest of the week and I will pull the appropriate staff. Let me
know a time that would work for you.

From: Hammond, Connie
To: Vigue, Mary
Subject: RE: Council Request- ICMA-RC
Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 8:57:35 AM

Thanks.. Will share further thoughts when we take a break.

Thanks for all you do......

Connie D. Hammond
Human Resources
City of Greensboro

From: Blackburn, Joan
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 6:02 PM
To: Weight, James
Subject: FW: This evening's 3 minutes.

Joan A. Blackburn
Total Compensation Benefits Supervisor
Human Resources Department
From: Blackburn, Joan
To: "Weight, James"
Subject: FW: Recent PIRT responses sent to Mr. Hartzman
Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 6:01:18 PM
Attachments: 457 Plan statement 12-31-13 for PIRT.pdf
457 Plan Financial Statment 2009 for PIRT 33694.pdf
457 Plan 2010 Financial Statement - PIRT 3694 .pdf
457 Plan 2011 Financial Statement PIRT 3694 (2).pdf
Fund Performance 6-30-14.pdf
Fee Disclosure Statement.pdf
Service Agreement with Greensboro to 2018 signed.pdf
PIRT 3890_9-17-14.pdf
457 Plan Document Trust 11 06.pdf
From: Weight, James []
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 8:48 AM
To: Blackburn, Joan
Subject: RE: This evening's 3 minutes.

Hi Joan,

I can call you mid-day today, ok?

James Weight, CFP®
Director, Relationship Management
Mid-Atlantic Region
From: Blackburn, Joan
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 09:30 AM
To: Weight, James
Subject: RE: This evening's 3 minutes.

How’s 12:30?

Joan A. Blackburn
Total Compensation Benefits Supervisor
Human Resources Department
From: Weight, James
To: Blackburn, Joan
Subject: Re: This evening"s 3 minutes.
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:44:16 AM

12:30 should be a good time for me.

I will call you in your office then, ok?

James Weight, CFP
Director, Relationship Management
Mid-Atlantic Region
From: Gaylord, Shani
To: Westmoreland, Jim; Vigue, Mary
Cc: McCollough, Mary
Subject: RE: Contact(s) from Geroge Hartzman
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:45:40 AM

Good morning Jim and Mary,

George Hartzman recently called to provide the information that he will be downtown today,
so feel free to contact him if you’d like to schedule a brief, 15 minute meeting to go over the
457 plan before today’s Work Session. He mentioned that he also went over this information
with Jeff, Marikay and Zack.

He can be reached via phone at...

From: Vigue, Mary
To: Gaylord, Shani
Subject: Re: Contact(s) from Geroge Hartzman
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:46:26 AM


Mary Vigue
Interim Assistant City Manager
City Manager's Office
City of Greensboro
From: Gaylord, Shani
To: Vigue, Mary
Subject: RE: Contact(s) from Geroge Hartzman
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:47:35 AM

Jeff Gawger.

Please excuse my spelling he did not spell out the name.
From: Vigue, Mary
To: Hammond, Connie
Subject: Fwd: Contact(s) from Geroge Hartzman
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:52:06 AM

Have we heard anything from ICMA-RC?

The Jeff below is with the media... This makes Councilmember Matheny's email make sense.

Mary Vigue
Interim Assistant City Manager
City Manager's Office
City of Greensboro
The Thursday, October 16, 2014 9:52:06 AM message from Mary Vigue was forwarded;

From: Hammond, Connie
To: Marro, Joseph; Blackburn, Joan
Subject: FW: Contact(s) from Geroge Hartzman
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:09:17 AM
From: Hammond, Connie
To: Vigue, Mary
Subject: RE: Contact(s) from Geroge Hartzman
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:16:44 AM

Yes… I got a copy of a proposed letter yesterday from Weight. We can discuss. Over phone or in
From: Hammond, Connie
To: Marro, Joseph; Blackburn, Joan; ""
Subject: Hartzman"s
Date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 10:52:50 AM

This link may give you further insights (?) into the thinking. See side panel "457 proposal..

From: George Hartzman
To: Vigue, Mary
Subject: Re: See you at about 2:45 tomorrow
Date: Monday, October 20, 2014 12:41:18 PM

Looks like I am meeting with Nancy Vaughan alone at 2 tomorrow, if you would like to join...
From: George Hartzman
Subject: Thanks for your time.
Date: Monday, October 20, 2014 2:30:50 PM
Attachments: 10 10 2014 TSP Presentation Book.doc
Information request for the North Carolina Treasurer.doc

If possible, please forward the information request to North Carolina's Treasurer's office as a

I call to ICMA with mention that you spoke to me and took a look at how Winston Salem is
doing business may bring down your fees rather very quickly.

Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing spoke with ICMA last Friday, and Greensboro
Assistant City Manager Mary Vigue is meeting with them
From: Tony Wilkins
To: "George Hartzman"; Westmoreland, Jim; Lusk, Rick; Hammond, Connie; Vigue, Mary
Cc: Vaughan, Nancy (Mayor); Johnson, Yvonne; Barber, Mike; Abuzuaiter, Marikay; Hightower,

Sharon; Fox, Jamal;
Matheny, Zack; Hoffmann, Nancy; Wilkins, Tony
Subject: RE: On October 21, 2014"s ICMA 457 plan meeting with Mayor Vaughan and Mary

Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 1:57:41 PM

Jim Westmoreland,

Please tell me, in language that I can understand, if George Hartzman’s claims in this e-mail are



Tony Wilkins
Greensboro City Council
From: Hammond, Connie
To: "Carmen Caruth"
Subject: FW: Hartzman"s
Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 3:04:30 PM


As discussed.....

This link may give you further insights (?) into the thinking. See side panel "457 proposal..
From: Cooper, Larry []
Sent: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 3:43 PM
To: Weight, James
Cc: Flattich, Art; Blackburn, Joan
Subject: FW: On October 21, 2014's ICMA 457 plan meeting with Mayor Vaughan and Mary


HI James,

See the information below I referred to in my voice message. This email blast is the result of
George’s meeting with the Mayor and Mary Vigue yesterday. He is trying to make contact with
Winston-Salem regarding 34 basis point issue.
From: Weight, James
To: Cooper, Larry
Cc: Flattich, Art; Blackburn, Joan
Subject: RE: On October 21, 2014"s ICMA 457 plan meeting with Mayor Vaughan and Mary

Date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 4:41:51 PM
Attachments: ICMA-RC Letter Regarding Hartzman Fee Comparison - Greensboro - 10 16


Hi Larry,

Thanks again for the heads up yesterday.

Would it be helpful for us to meet with the City Manager and/or the Mayor and/or any City

Council members?

Also, my staff thought it would be a good idea for you folks to have the attached letter in your


It is the same as we sent previously, but addressed to Joan.

James Weight, CFP®
Director, Relationship Management
Mid-Atlantic Region
From: Grayson, Greg
To: Fire Leadership
Subject: Notes from Department Director Meeting
Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 11:56:36 AM

...Hartzman information in public domain on 457 plan costs
Direct questions to Mary Vigue, do NOT engage with Hartzman
His data is not comparing apples to apples
ICMA charges variable fees based upon the funds employees choose
From: George Hartzman
To: Westmoreland, Jim; Lusk, Rick; Hammond, Connie; Vigue, Mary
Subject: On October 21, 2014"s ICMA 457 plan meeting with Mayor Vaughan and Mary Vigue
Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 9:24:12 AM
Attachments: Greensboro fee pages.pdf
Winston Salem Fee Pages.pdf

On Tuesday, I met with Greensboro Assistant City Manager Mary Vigue and Nancy Vaughan in

the Mayor's office.

Mary, a member of ICMA, had met with a representative of ICMA-RC on Monday.

Mary became confrontational from the outset of the meeting, and seemed to be advocating for
ICMA's justifications of Greensboro's current 457 plan fees as opposed to what's in the best
interests of Greensboro's employees invested in the plan.

Mary cited a hidden asset based fee in Winston Salem's fee structure to assert Winston Salem
doesn't pay less than Greensboro.

After adding in the $55,417 on the fifth page (53) of the attached Winston Salem PDF, which
is clearly misleading on the part of ICMA, as the total at the bottom of the page doesn't reflect
the top number, to the $94,097 on the first (49), I came up with
$94,097 + $55,417 = $149,514 total annual fees all participants are paying.

There are 1,029 participants in Winston.

$149,514 / 1,029 = $145.30 per participant for Winston Salem.
Both the attached 5 and 6 page Greensboro and Winston Salem fee document extracts are as of
the first quarter of 2014.

Greensboro's plan is charged annualized total of $741,132 on the first page of the attached
"Greensboro fee pages".

$741,132 total annual fees participants are paying.

There are 2,781 participants in Greensboro.

$741,132 / 2,781 = $266.50 per participant for Greensboro.
$266.50 per participant for Greensboro is more than $145.30 per participant for Winston

$121.20 more per participant in Greensboro than Winston.

Mary Vigue objected to the idea of considering the plan's fees per participant and asserted that
Winston paid more during the meeting on several occasions.
Greensboro's VT Vantagepoint Equity Income "Large Value Fund" (page 67), which ICMA
owns, which is inherently a conflict of interest, charges a total of 0.78% on $1,609,652 in
Greensboro's plan.

Winston Salem's Vanguard Equity Income Admiral "Large Value Fund" (page 50), which is
essentially the same thing Greensboro's Equity Income Large Value Fund only different,
charges a total of 0.21% on $2,011,041. Adding in the 0.34% ICMA charges Winston on the
back end, I found the total annual charge for Winston's participants to be 0.55%.

Greensboro's 0.78% is larger than Winston's 0.55%.
Winston Salem's Mid and Small Cap index funds (page 50), where most of the participant's
money is invested, is charged a total of 0.44% by ICMA. (0.10% + 0.34%)

Greensboro's Mid and Small Cap funds total annual ICMA charges (pages 67 and 8) are
1.20%, 1.14%, 1.09%, 1.05%, 1.27%, 0.82%, 1.02%, 1.24% and 1.45%.
It's my understanding Mary did not ask for or inquire about any possible fee reductions during
her meeting with ICMA-RC's representative on Monday, but instead appears to have
consumed a great deal of ICMA cool aid to regurgitate to the benefit of ICMA, as opposed to
proactively looking out for what the best course of action was for Greensboro's employees.

Mary asserted that nothing needed fixing in Tuesday's meeting with Mayor Vaughan and I.

Mary cited Rick Lusk, Connie Hammond, Larry Cooper and herself as experts who agreed
that nothing needed to be done with the ICMA 457 plan's fee structure and fund line up in the
face of an opportunity to leave more money in the retirement accounts of City of Greensboro

Please confirm Mary's assertion that Rick Lusk, Connie Hammond and Larry Cooper found no
need to look into potential savings in Greensboro's 457 plan fees.

Trying to do the right thing in this case has become much more difficult than it should have

Inaction has occurred for more than 12 months since these issues were initially raised.

Let's give Greensboro's 457 participants a raise and more money to spend locally in retirement
by lowering their fees, which are demonstrably too high and retarding the prospect of wealth
creation for 2,781 employees.

This email should not have been necessary.

George Hartzman

From: Flattich, Art
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2014 9:43 AM
To: Lisa Saunders; Brian Hubbell
Cc: Carmen Caruth
Subject: Recent Public Information Requests

Lisa and Brian, I hope all is well. I wanted to give you both a heads up that the same gentlemen

that made a public information request from the City of Winston Salem several weeks ago is now
sending the email below. Please note that he incorrectly states the total costs to employees at the
City of Winston Salem. I wanted to give you a heads up for two reasons. First, this particular
individual has sent this out to many employers and employees in the State of North Carolina and
specifically names the City of Winston Salem. Secondly, we have just released a written response
that details the many factors that go into plan pricing and that the total cost to the City of Winston
Salem’s employees is understated and misrepresented in his email. I have attached our written
response for your information (please note that we addressed the letter to Lisa but it is written as

a response to those employers who have received the email below which the City, presumably, did

Please let me know if you need any additional information.

Thank you and have a great week.

ICMA Retirement Corporation
Art Flattich, Vice President, Southeast Region
From: Carmen Caruth
To: Hammond, Connie
Subject: FW: Recent Public Information Requests
Date: Monday, October 27, 2014 9:50:48 AM

Attachments: ICMA-RC Letter Regarding Hartzman Fee Comparison - Winston Salem - 10



Mr. Hartzman had requested information from our Finance Department and plan consultant
(Hubbell Consulting).

See correspondence from Art Flattich with ICMA.
From: George Hartzman []
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 11:50 AM
To: Healy, Sarah
Subject: Information request
Please provide all communications between Mary Vigue and ICMA for the last 90 days.
From: George Hartzman []
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2014 9:42 AM
To: Healy, Sarah
Subject: Re: Response to PIRT # 4002

Please provide any communications over the last 90 days to or from ICMA RC and Mary
Vigue, Connie Hammond and Jim Westmorland.

From: Healy, Sarah
To: Vigue, Mary; Hammond, Connie; Westmoreland, Jim
Subject: PIRT request
Date: Friday, October 31, 2014 10:18:34 AM

Jim, Mary and Connie:

Sending as an FYI – it is PIRT # 4006. Will keep you posted.

From: George Hartzman
Date: Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Subject: Re: Information request for the City of Charlotte
To: "Ellis, Anna"
Cc: "Darby, Nakyhia"

Please pass the attached proposal along to the Willis of North Carolina.

The proposed fees should save Charlotte employees about $1,318,584 over five years, as the
City is overpaying rather dramatically for services from ICMA.

The problem I have run into with the consultants who looked at 457 plan providers in
Greensboro is they appeared to only review more expensive plans to the detriment of
Greensboro's employees, as in this case as with many others along with the Nationwide
provided plan via the North Carolina Association of Counties.

It seems a few Municipal Management oriented employee associations have cornered the
market via influence with decision makers at the expense of many employed under members
of the same associations.

Please provide the last Willis of North Carolina's provider assessment and the report of their
last RFP produced for the City of Charlotte in an electronic format...
From: Healy, Sarah
To: Vigue, Mary
Subject: FW: PIRT request
Date: Friday, October 31, 2014 1:32:47 PM

Mary – wanted to let you know that only 7 emails were produced from the search and no emails
were to/from you.

From: Vigue, Mary
To: Healy, Sarah
Subject: Re: PIRT request
Date: Friday, October 31, 2014 1:35:22 PM

Thanks! :)
From: Healy, Sarah
Sent: Monday, November 03, 2014 1:13 PM
To: Westmoreland, Jim
Subject: FW: Response to PIRT # 4006

Jim – I wanted to send you a copy of my reply to Mr. Hartzman regarding his recent PIRT # 4006
request. Only 2 of the 7 emails produced were not sent to Mr. Hartzman b/c one was your

personal quarterly statement and the other was Connie’s personal quarterly statement. Neither are

public record.

Just wanted to let you know.

Thank you.
From: Westmoreland, Jim
To: Healy, Sarah
Subject: RE: Response to PIRT # 4006
Date: Monday, November 03, 2014 3:07:14 PM

From: George Hartzman
To: Westmoreland, Jim; Vigue, Mary; Hammond, Connie; Nancy Vaughan;; Matheny,
Zack; Lusk, Rick
Subject: Fwd: Response to PIRT # 4006
Date: Wednesday, November 05, 2014 10:34:28 PM
Attachments: PIRT 4006.pdf

Mary told me on Monday night, after telling both Nancy Vaughan and myself on October 21st
that Mary would personally contact ICMA-RC, that she had been in touch with HR about
getting the fund list of alternative investments with lower costs from ICMA-RC.

I spoke with ICMA-RC Deputy General Counsel Angela C. Montez this afternoon, who told
me municipalities have the lattitude to negotiate fees and switch funds as fiduciaries deem
prudent and in the best interests of participants.

Mary said otherwise. Jim doesn't seem to have a problem with it, or he doesn't know and

ICMA members Mary and Jim appear to be acting in the best interests of ICMA-RC.

Mary incorrectly informed both Mayor Vaughan and I that Winston Salem was paying less per
participant on October 21st, acting as an overt advocate for ICMA-RC after meeting with an
ICMA-RC rep the day before.

It's been about two weeks since Mary said she would personally get with ICMA-RC on the
fund list, and two days since she said she directed HR to do so.

The information request attached suggests otherwise.

Nancy Hoffmann and Zack know what a fund list is.

To my knowledge, no one at the City has made any effort to save Greensboro's employees money

within the 457 plan, despite more than a year's worth of effort on my part.

ICMA members Mary and Jim don't seem to mind ICMA-RC skimming off of Greensboro's

It seems ICMA members Mary and Jim are acting in the best interests of ICMA-RC.

I would like to hear some good news on saving Greensboro's 457 plan participants some
money by the close of business tomorrow.

Those names above are the only recipients of this email.

At this point, ICMA members Mary and Jim are involved in a betrayal of 2871 Greensboro
457 participants, in my view.

At this point, I believe ICMA members Mary and Jim have violated ICMA's ethics code
conflict of interest rules, and probably the City's ethics code as well, as if either really means

I am trying to do the right thing.

It appears ICMA members Mary and Jim are not only impeding my efforts, they are helping
ICMA-RC maintain and increase profits at the expense of thier non-ICMA co-workers.

I have tried to get this done relatively quietly.

That period of time is coming to a close.

By doing nothing, I believe those involved in non-action are actively stealing from other
people's kid's futures.

From: George Hartzman []
Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2014 6:21 PM
To: Healy, Sarah
Subject: Info

All communications to or from for The last 30 days

Jim Westmoreland
Mary Vigue
David Parrish
Chris Wilson
Nancy Vaughan
From: Westmoreland, Jim
To: Turlington, Donnie; Healy, Sarah
Subject: FW: Info
Date: Thursday, November 06, 2014 7:44:53 PM

It would be good to ask Mr. Hartzman if he could more specifically define what he is looking for with this request?

Why the mystery?--Roch101
December 11th, 2014 -- 9:45 AM

GREENSBORO, NC -- On the mysterious genesis of state legislator Trudy Wade's idea to monkey around with the make up of Greensboro's city council, News & Record reporter Amanda Lehmert writes:
"Council members, former elected leaders and political wonks have been left to speculate which one of them poked the bear."
Add to the list of those left to speculate News & Record readers — which is not where a news organization should want to leave its audience.

A few days ago, Lehmert reported:
"Wade said she was prompted to consider the issue by local business owners, who she said asked not to be identified."
That's fine and dandy, but a reporter should not acquiesce to a preference for such secrecy; in fact, a reporter should challenge it vociferously. Who are the people pushing these proposed changes to city government and what are their motives? If only we had some kind of person whose job it was to challenge authority, to investigate and uncover information for the public benefit.

Communications with Wade on this matter would be public record. They would likely end the "speculation" and fill the gaping hole in this story. A professional reporter covering this should not hesitate to ask for them.

City and County Prepare for Basketball Game on December 13--Yes!Weekly
December 8th, 2014 -- 12:51 PM

"Employees and elected officials representing the City of Greensboro and Guilford County meet at 2 pm Saturday, December 13 at Griffin Recreation Center, 5301 Hilltop Rd., for fun, fellowship, and a basketball game. The basketball game is the second of three sporting events between the two government entities in the battle for the Guilford Cup. A charitable component will be included in all of the games. Attendees of the December 13 event are encouraged to bring canned food items for Greensboro Urban Ministries.

Teams comprised of employees and Council/Commission members met on the gridiron in September for a flag football game, with the City emerging victorious, 18-12. In addition to the basketball and football games, the teams will meet on the diamond for a softball game in the spring of 2015. A points system is being developed based on winners of the athletic events and volume of donations to the selected nonprofits that will receive charitable contributions. The government team with the most points will be awarded the Guilford Cup. 

For more information, please visit"

- A Press Release

ArtsGreensboro Appoints Local Director for The National Folk Festival --Yes!Weekly
December 5th, 2014 -- 10:59 AM

"After an extensive nationwide search, ArtsGreensboro has appointed seasoned festival administrator Amy Grossmann as the Local Director for the National Folk Festival, President and CEO Thomas Philion announced today. Working out of ArtsGreensboro’s offices in the Cultural Center, Grossmann will begin her work on January 2, 2015.

In this role, Grossmann will work directly for ArtsGreensboro and in close cooperation with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the organizations co-presenting the “National” for its three-year residency in Greensboro beginning September 11 – 13, 2015. Grossmann will oversee all administrative and logistical elements of the festival, and will also play a leadership role in managing local operations—from vendor relationships to volunteer needs.

Grossmann brings a wealth of national festival management experience with her to her new position here. From 2001 through 2006, she was the Program Manager/Logistics Coordinator for the NCTA, where she worked with several host communities presenting National Folk Festivals as well as former National host cities producing legacy festivals.

Currently, Grossmann is a Program Director for the Maryland State Arts Council, where she oversees general operating and touring grant programs. Previously, she was the Community Events Director at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto, California, from 2007 to 2012.

“Many strong candidates applied for this position from around North Carolina and across the Southeast,” Philion said. “With Amy’s unique background—including her experience with the National Folk Festival—we’re thrilled that she’ll be joining our local National Folk Festival team.”
Celebrating its 75th anniversary in Greensboro in 2015, the “National” is a FREE, three-day outdoor event celebrating the diversity and vibrancy of American culture through music, dance, storytelling, traditional crafts, food, and more. It will feature more than 30 performing groups on seven stages with continuous music and dance performances, along with children’s activities, a North Carolina folklife area, a festival marketplace, and regional and ethnic foods. The festival is expected to draw up to 175,000 visitors—many from across the United States—to Greensboro by its third year in 2017.
ArtsGreensboro and the NCTA will co-produce the free festival in cooperation with the City of Greensboro, the Greensboro Convention & Visitors Bureau, Action Greensboro, DGI, and other local groups. Looking ahead, the National Folk Festival will be held September 9 – 11 in 2016, and September 8 – 10 in 2017.
About ArtsGreensboro (
With an annual budget of over $2.9 million, ArtsGreensboro is a catalyst for innovation to build recognition and support for the arts. Through the 17DAYS Arts & Culture Festival, power2give, and other opportunities like the National Folk Festival, ArtsGreensboro is driving the health and vitality of our community by supporting arts education, celebrating the diversity of Greensboro, and driving economic impact through excellence in arts programming.
About the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) (
The National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) is one of the nation’s premier non-profit cultural organizations dedicated to the presentation and documentation of folk, tribal, and ethnic arts in the United States. Founded in 1933, it is the nation’s oldest producing and presenting organization with such a focus. Its programs celebrate and honor deeply rooted cultural expressions—music, crafts, stories, and dance passed on through time by families, communities, tribal, ethnic, and occupational groups. The NCTA stresses excellence and authenticity in presenting artists to the public in festivals, tours, concerts, media programs, exhibitions, recordings, and other activities, and works in partnership with communities across American to establish new, sustainable traditional arts events that bring lasting social, cultural, and economic benefits.
About the National Folk Festival
Since it was first presented in St. Louis in 1934, the National Folk Festival has celebrated the roots, richness, and variety of American culture. Championed in its early years by Eleanor Roosevelt, it was the first event of national stature to present the arts of many nations, races, and languages on equal footing. It was also the first to present to the public musical forms such as the blues, Cajun music, a polka band, Tex-Mex conjunto, Peking Opera, and many others. An exuberant traveling festival that embraces the diverse cultural expressions that define the American people in the 21st century, the National Folk Festival is produced by the NCTA in partnership with communities around the country."

- A Press Release

Greensboro, North Carolina Considers Electric Motorcycles--Wackemall, Billy's Two Wheeled Musings and More!
December 3rd, 2014 -- 8:46 AM

The Greensboro City Council is voting tonight on whether or not the City will spend $20,155 to go along with  $41,550 in grants from the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University to buy 2 electric motorcycles for the Greensboro Police Department.

I'm not privy as to what brands or models of electric motorcycles they are considering but for those of you who haven't kept up with the technology in recent years, at least 2 American companies Brammo and Zero are now making great bikes that would have no issues doing what police departments need motorcycles to do. After all, it's not like the next chief of police will be sending officers cross country depending on batteries.

As a matter of fact, several brands of modern electric motorcycles are quite capable of exceeding 100 miles per hour and traveling over 100 miles between charging the batteries. And considering that maintenance and operating costs for these new bikes are far lower than for conventional motorcycles it just makes scene.

Already US Special Forces are employing electric motorcycles made by Zero and the Brammo 6 speed electric motorcycle changed the way electric motorcycles are built.

Of course, nothing will ever replace Harley Davidsons leading the parade in the minds of most American motorcycle enthusiasts, even those of us who would like to own an electric motorcycle.

Yes Weekly Editorial on Greensboro City Council District changes proposed by Roy Carroll via the Rhino's John Hammer--East Greensboro Performing Arts Center
December 1st, 2014 -- 9:47 AM

"There is a move afoot, it seems, to redraw Greensboro’s city council districts next year. Such a move was recently reported and sourced to unnamed business interests in the city [who own the Rhino Times] who think it’s bad that regular folks, as opposed to the business elite, deigned to get themselves elected to city council. It’s likely a pushback against two of the newest council members,

Dear Greensboro City Council:--Abner's Inquisition
November 19th, 2014 -- 10:46 AM

Please stop soliciting campaign cash
from those with business coming up with Greensboro City Council.

Just because City Council may vote to give incentive money to X,
doesn't mean X should be asked for money.

Please stop.


Robbie Perkins, Roy Carroll, TREBIC, RUCO and Downtown Noise--Abner's Inquisition
November 19th, 2014 -- 10:46 AM

"Perkins made his announcement surrounded by friends in the real-estate industry,
including developer Roy Carroll and lawyer Henry Isaacson.

“The realtors and the builders have been my base for my candidacy for 17-18 years,” Perkins said.

“In fact, before I even got into politics,
Trip Brown and I worked to get an organization together
that was the precursor of TREBIC way back when.

And we started that because we wanted better communication with the city and the county
because we knew that we were creating jobs doing what we were doing for a living
and we needed to communicate with the city and the county
as to what they were doing with their regulations.”

"Communicate," as in reduce "regulations"?

Chester “Trip” Brown Jr. is the chairman of the board of Brown Investment Properties.

The organization they helped establish,
the Triad Real Estate and Building Industries Coalition, or TREBIC,
is a prominent player in city-county politics
and has been involved with virtually every aspect of city policy concerning land use and housing.

Didn't TREBIC argue against having one tree per new lower income home?

Where does Robbie stand on the one tree rule?

Despite the close relationship,
Perkins has become a vocal supporter of the city’s proactive rental housing inspection program,
which TREBIC has attempted to dismantle.

Doesn't the RUCO advisory board meet at TREBIC headquarters?

Perkins is the president of NAI Piedmont Triad, a commercial real estate company.

“If you’ve got a conflict, you disclose the conflict and you abstain,”
the candidate told a reporter after the press conference,
adding that he believes the benefits of being involved in the real estate industry outweigh the negatives."

How about the conflict of taking a Guilford County Tax Break
for a shopping center?


Pornography, Porno, Porn, XXX in Greensboro, North Carolina--Abner's Inquisition
November 19th, 2014 -- 10:46 AM

If pictures of women in tennis attire is pornographic,
should all Greensboro women’s tennis programs be cancelled?

Should all children in public school
be taught that evil is compatible with an omnipotent and benevolent God?

If some believe pictures of women and men in bathing suits is pornographic,
should public swimming pools will be closed?

Are members of a church more likely to give campaign contributions
to a "pious" Council Member who attends the same church,
after said church’s preacher gives a sermon on the dangers of pornography?

If pictures of women and men wearing dancing tights is pornographic,
should all publicly funded dance groups be disbanded?

If all men not wearing shirts in any pictures on the internet is pornographic…?

Should public schools should be segregated by sex?

Should dancing be prohibited?

Should Roman statues be covered?

If a Catholic Priest says it’s OK for him to touch you wherever he wants,
should you believe him?

Should public employees using phones with internet access
be denied access to pornographic web sites?

Should clergy who support political grandstanding
receive privileged access to Greensboro’s political and municipal executives?

Does the government always act in the majority’s best interests?

Should a married pregnant unemployed high school drop out
who knows the child will have AIDS and autism
have to receive permission from her husband to get an abortion
after being raped by her schizophrenic brother-in-law?

Should “abstinence-until-marriage” education
replace explicit sex-education programs,
school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?

Should contraceptive measures for raped woman be outlawed?

What is the likelihood that the God of rectangle shaped people has four sides?

Should school curriculums teach Creationism,
and have a disclaimer before any evolutionary topics,
like biology, or chemistry, or geology, or platectonics,
or world history, or dinosaurs, or physics?

Should morning prayers be instituted in public schools
and end with “in Jesus’ name we pray”?

Should Jewish children be prohibited from dating Christian children?

Can an atheist be superstitious?

Should no mosque on American soil
be within a mile of an elementary school?

Should religious and/or alternative sexual orientation
be a required disclosure on all public identification?

Are all Muslims terrorists?

Can a robot be one of God’s children,
and if so, is it OK to enslave intelligent machines?

Should all children be taught at the earliest ages
that their parents are obligated to give 10% of their families income
to their religious leaders?

Should Biblical dietary and punishment laws be strictly enforced?

Do you get to wear clothes in heaven
but not in hell?

Are all men who look for porn at the library child molesters?

Should special police in charge of monitoring moral behavior
be given the right to use corporal punishment on anyone under the age of 21?

Should elected lawmakers seek to avoid imposing their religious views
upon the communities in which they reside?

Should the United States of America officially declare war on Islam?

If the government arrests a citizen for pornography,
should the accused be publicly humiliated before trial,
unless they are related to or are good friends with a public official?

What do you believe that you can’t prove?

Are all women who look at porn at the library lesbians?

Are communities who lean towards religion infused government
more or less likely to pass religious based legislation
like alcohol prohibition, dancing, female submission, book burning,
what could be unnecessary pornography restrictions,
public school curriculums, abortion or homosexuality?

Why are weak governments and/or fringe political movements
more likely to embrace religion or nationalism
in times of economic and social instability
and/or when distractions appear helpful to bury other more important issues?

Should any man caught "sexually" looking at women in public libraries be removed?

Should all sexually active homeless persons within the city limits be removed?

Should all those of a religion other than those sanctioned by government,
wear an insignia stating their religion on their garments at all times in public?

Should anyone who disagrees with the will of a majority of a minority,
be prohibited in engaging in public discourse?

If sentient beings on another planet played chess with Earthlings
would God would be on our side, as long as the player is a white, not gay, Christian American?

Are you a robot?

Were we all predestined to have free will?

If I knew you were a robot,
would you want me to tell you?

Greensboro, North Carolina Considers Electric Motorcycles--Wackemall, Billy's Two Wheeled Musings and More!
November 19th, 2014 -- 10:45 AM

The Greensboro City Council is voting tonight on whether or not the City will spend $20,155 to go along with  $41,550 in grants from the North Carolina Solar Center at North Carolina State University to buy 2 electric motorcycles for the Greensboro Police Department.

I'm not privy as to what brands or models of electric motorcycles they are considering but for those of you who haven't kept up with the technology in recent years, at least 2 American companies Brammo and Zero are now making great bikes that would have no issues doing what police departments need motorcycles to do. After all, it's not like the next chief of police will be sending officers cross country depending on batteries.

As a matter of fact, several brands of modern electric motorcycles are quite capable of exceeding 100 miles per hour and traveling over 100 miles between charging the batteries. And considering that maintenance and operating costs for these new bikes are far lower than for conventional motorcycles it just makes scene.

Already US Special Forces are employing electric motorcycles made by Zero and the Brammo 6 speed electric motorcycle changed the way electric motorcycles are built.

Of course, nothing will ever replace Harley Davidsons leading the parade in the minds of most American motorcycle enthusiasts, even those of us who would like to own an electric motorcycle.

November 19th, 2014 -- 10:45 AM

I can't sleep--I got my eyes wide open

I can feel the radiation
Vertical lines on video
It's three a.m., there's no distractions
Can't sleep 'cause all the stars are on now
Should I move to change the station
Having fun watching my tv
It's the center of attraction

When I was a lad, I was obsessed with attempting to stay up all night long. This act of adolescent willpower entailed watching plenty of after hours television, an action that scarcely distinguished me from other young knuckleheads. I spent Friday evenings with my grandmother, who gave my hardworking parents a well-earned respite from my usual mischief and prepared for me delicious tv dinners that took a now-almost-inconceivable thirty minutes to cook in those pre-microwave wonder years. Grandmother Pagan also allowed me to watch The CBS Late Movie, a memorable series that formed a substantial part of my film education. Sometimes she watched, too, though more often than not she fell asleep. Those weekend viewings included everything from Elvis Presley extravaganzas (a word I use very loosely) to Hammer horrors. Occasionally I fell asleep myself while watching the pictures--I remember being bitterly disappointed, out of all reasonable proportion, after dozing off mere minutes into Jacques Tourneur's The Comedy of Terrors (1964), which I would not encounter again for decades--but, more often than not, I remained wide awake and wanting more, more, more. There was something liberatory, and not a little addictive, about being up while everybody else was in bed.

CBS was the first American network to devote its late-night programming to cinema. For several years, it had aired The Merv Griffin Show after the 11 o'clock news, but on Valentine's Day 1972 it switched to film broadcasts, often running what the series' Wikipedia entry politely describes as "movies not well-suited for prime time due to content." In other words, my type of entertainment. A February 28 screening that year of a heavily-edited version of Luchino Visconti's originally-X-rated The Damned (1969) was vigorously protested by bluenoses from the Christian Life Commission and the Southern Baptist Convention, and actually resulted in CBS' then-president John A. Scheider's appearance before a Senate subcommittee. Alas, I missed that particular broadcast (it was on a school night, curse the luck), but Visconti's Nazi epic was undoubtedly emasculated for the protection of delicate viewers. The Late Movie also featured plenty, and I do mean plenty, of public service announcements during its interminable commercial breaks, perhaps most memorably the Ad Council's "Keep America Beautiful" anti-pollution spot in which the bogus Indian Iron Eyes Cody emerges from his canoe just in time for some litterbug to toss trash from a speeding vehicle at his beaded moccasins, which the actor reportedly wore on almost all occasions. Cody was actually Italian-American, and not, as he insisted, Cherokee/Cree; the tear he wept at this ecologically-incorrect indignity was in reality glycerine. To my knowledge, though, he never had to appear before a Senate subcommittee. Grandmother Pagan, bless her heart, called him "Crying Eyes Coyote."

The Friday Late Movie schedule was, for several years at least, especially enticing, and had me drooling in anticipation as I scrutinized the newest number of my family's TV Guide. Here CBS screened such warped wonders as Barry Shears' dystopian Wild in the Streets (1965), Roy Ward Baker's gender bending Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971), and Kinji Fukasaku's surreally schlocky The Green Slime (1968). The show's theme, Morton Stevens' haunting horn-driven "So Old, So Young," combined with the multicolored pentagram graphics (were the Christian Life Commissioners and Southern Baptist Conventioneers still watching?) to promise amazing things to come. Unfortunately, in 1976 the network began broadcasting, in addition to its film library, NBC Mystery Movie reruns (McCloud, McMillan and Wife), as well as repeats of such series as Hawaii Five-O (whose celebrated theme Stevens also composed) and The Rockford Files. Although these were fine programs, I was less than enthusiastic about the change, but, during the summer break, I could always switch over to NBC's Tonight Show and watch Johnny Carson or one of his numerous guest hosts, followed by Tom Snyder's Tomorrow hour. CBS later, as if in atonement for these unwelcome changes, enlivened Friday evenings with rebroadcasts of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, as well as terrific British series (both The Avengers and The New Avengers). Here's a reconstruction of the Late Movie's opening from 1975, when the network ran Edward Ludwig's riveting ecological revenge epic The Black Scorpion (1957). I watched this exact broadcast.

Our local CBS affiliate, WFMY, was already airing Friday double features when the Late Movie premiered, and for a year or so afterwards, the station continued to schedule a 1 or 1:30 a.m. film. This was WFMY's Late Late Movie, which recycled Stevens' theme. Although it was sometimes difficult for me to stay awake until the very end, I vividly remember three of the pictures I saw during that time slot: William Castle's The Night Walker (1964), which scared the bejeezus out of me (I was actually afraid to turn off the television, lest Hayden Rorke's disfigured specter molest me in the dark), and two Hammer chillers: John Gilling's Shadow of the Cat (1961), which as a young ailurophile I greatly appreciated, and Terence Fisher's 1962 remake of The Phantom of the Opera--the first version of Gaston Leroux's classic novel I ever saw; it starred my favorite Phantom, Herbert Lom, whose soulful torment and subterranean style enchanted me. This cinematic double shot lasted until between 2:30 and 3 a.m. It wasn't all night, but by Jove it was close enough. WFMY would then sign off with the national anthem and switch not to a test pattern, but to static.

It was into the arms of Morpheus that I reluctantly went, fantasizing about what secret messages might be hidden in that static, what mysterious images were being beamed into the homes of those souls stalwart enough to watch. This must have been a relatively common curiosity for those of us nursing at the glass teat, as witness the haunted television set in Tobe Hooper's Poltergeist (1982), or the snuff film channel materializing on wee hours cable in David Cronenberg's same-year Videodrome. Sometimes--this was several years later--when one station went off the air, I could dial in another channel from far away, painstakingly manipulating my parents' antenna clicker as if it were a magic wand. During the summer of 1978, I distinctly remember viewing a snowy-but-watchable broadcast of Jean Negulesco's The Rains of Ranchipur (1955) one Sunday overnight; the station, if I recall correctly, was based somewhere in Virginia, and may well have been Charlottesville's NBC affilliate WVIR. I imagined I was receiving an occult transmission from the gods of late night.

Inevitably, The CBS Late Movie's Friday programming became less adventurous over time. The network did, however, screen Michelangelo Antonioni's fascinating metapolitical misfire, Zabriskie Point (1970), which, like, blew my adolescent mind, man. The Late Movie was also where I originally encountered, on other evenings, Mario Bava's Baron Blood (1972), Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945), and Brian G. Hutton's Where Eagles Dare (1968). As the Eighties era of cable and satellite encroached, the program offered thanks-but-no-thanks reruns of Lou Grant and The Jeffersons, as well as feature films edited with a chainsaw to fit into an eighty-minute time slot. (I shudder to recall a severely-abbreviated version of Boris Sagal's The Omega Man [1972]; now, there was literally "no phone ringing, damnit!" for machine-gun-wielding star Charlton Heston.) The series had become an utter joke, and was regularly mocked by David Letterman during his tenure at NBC. In 1985 the program's title was changed to CBS Late Night, but I had tuned out by then. Here, astonishingly enough, is a complete episode guide. And I thought I was obsessive....

ABC's Wide World of Entertainment premiered in the same time period on January 8, 1973, offering a rotating selection of made-for-television mystery movies, talk shows, concerts, and comedy specials. The movies were shot on videotape and, if my memory serves me correctly, seemed like oddball soap operas; it's doubtful that many of these photoplays have been preserved. The program was retooled three years later as ABC Late Night, offering reruns of such wrist-slitters as Starsky and Hutch and The Love Boat, as well as The Tuesday Movie of the Week. The only programming that really stands out in my mind are a 1975 Monty Python's Flying Circus compilation that resulted in litigation from member Terry Gilliam, and the 1978 broadcasting, over several evenings, of a five-part 1975 English-Italian Mafia miniseries called The Legend of the Black Hand. But, thank the stars, there was always local programming to fire, quite generously, my imagination.

Saturday nights in particular were full of mystery. Our local ABC affiliate, WGHP, aired Shock Theater from the mid-Sixties until sometime around 1981. This series was originally emceed by horror host Dr. Paul Bearer (impersonated by the legendary Dick Bennick), but he was long gone by the time I watched my first installment in 1974. The station now resorted to an animated opening, which featured the pounding of a human heartbeat, represented onscreen by pulsing blue blobs. As cemetery gates creaked open, an offscreen announcer intoned "Channel Eight presents--SHOCK THEATER!" Cartoon bats flapped their wings while damned souls wailed for all they were worth. Deplorably, I can find no trace of this opening online; for all I know, it's not even in the video vaults of WGHP, which became a Fox affiliate in the mid-Nineties. The first film I saw on this program was Ray Harryhausen's giant octopus classic It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), which thrilled me to no end even though the creature possessed, as a budgetary constraint, a mere six tentacles. My parents did not normally permit me to stay up past eleven on Saturday nights, so convincing them to let me watch this thriller (stills of which I'd seen in Famous Monsters of Filmland) was--to my small brain--a substantial achievement.

The second movie I saw on the program, perhaps a month later, was Laszlo Kardos' The Man Who Turned to Stone (1957), which centered around a women's prison whose staff stays eternally young by electrically sucking the life out of its inmates. (As I age, that no longer seems like such an appalling idea.) Shock Theater aired double features off and on during the Bad Doctor's tenure, but reverted to a single film when he departed; it would return to its twofer format in 1975, at which point my parents kindly allowed me to stay up late more frequently. My favorite of all those double bills was a May 1976 screening of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong and Son of Kong (both 1933). The local fishwrap advertised the event in its tv section with a photo of the giant ape atop the Empire State Building, and I and many other children could scarcely wait for 11:30 to roll around. Would those imbecile newscasters ever stop gabbing about weather and sports! The following Monday morning, almost every boy in my fifth grade class was rhapsodizing about this incredible broadcast and ignoring our schoolwork. The Eighth Wonder of the World and his albino offspring were infinitely more important than the multiplication of fractions.

My mother told me how much Howard Hawks' The Thing From Another World (1951) had spooked her when she was a girl, so I proceeded with caution when the film aired several months later, watching this Cold War masterpiece with an icepick I removed from a kitchen drawer. I didn't really expect James Arness' "intellectual carrot" to come out of the screen and kill me, of course, but I thought it wise to have a little, shall we say, insurance. Shock Theater usually ended somewhere between 2:30 and 3 a.m. All the other stations were off the air by that time, but WGHP would follow the fright flicks with a Community Bulletin Board and the obligatory national anthem. Then it was (sigh) bedtime.

Fortunately, the local NBC affiliate, WXII, came to my rescue with Nitelite Theatre. This program, which aired from June 1976 to November 1979, appeared at 2:30 a.m. after The Midnight Special. Johnny Carson was on for ninety minutes in those years, as was Burt Sugarman's weekly musical program. Nitelite originally ran until seven in the morning, but was later cut back to 6 a.m., the hour relinquished to For You, Black Woman and Big Blue Marble. WXII had whetted my appetite the week before with an all-night, four-film festival which began at 1 a.m., preempting the Special. That weekend I watched rapt from the bed in my grandmother's guest room as Joseph Adler's Revenge Is My Destiny (1971), George Montgomery's Ride the Tiger (1970), Robert Day's The Big Game (1972), and Jean Yarbrough's The Devil Bat (1940) unreeled. I'd previously seen the last movie on the station's classic Bob Gordon Theater, which aired on weekend afternoons, but it's a picture I never get tired of. At long last, all-night television had arrived.

WFMY had in fact set things in motion a few months earlier with its own all-night Friday film festival, which preempted The CBS Late Movie. Unforgivably, I passed out during the first picture, Abraham Polonsky's Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969), sleeping straight through the other four features, so Nitelite was a welcome presence, indeed. The series was originally hosted by Art Neal and Zachary Gibson, who performed groan-inducing skits, but they were soon gone, and, like Shock Theater, the program now had no emcees. Its theme music was an instrumental ditty somewhere between Julius Fucik's Entrance of the Gladiators and John Williams' "Cantina Band" tune from George Lucas' Star Wars (1977); however, try as I might, I've not yet been able to track down this piece online. The program always kicked off with a movie, followed by episodes of old tv shows (The Twilight Zone, I Spy, The Invaders), followed by (in its early days, at least) yet another feature. The program officially debuted with Harry Horner's eschatological talkfest Red Planet Mars (1952) and Guiliano Montano's 1967 caper classic Ad Ogni Costo ("At Any Cost," retitled Grand Slam for English-speaking audiences); over the years, it screened such treasures as Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent (1941), Samuel Fuller's Run of the Arrow (1957), and Theodore J. Flicker's paranoid masterwork The President's Analyst (1967). I particularly remember one 1979 broadcast of Frank Capra's Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), in which the feature was presented without commercial interruptions--a rare delight. The series came to a quiet end, possibly because I was the only fool who stayed up to watch it, and even I fell asleep from time to time. That was it for all night television until the fall of 1980, when WFMY became a twenty-four-hour station.

When my family moved across our small town in 1976 into a new home, we were finally able to pick up--usually only at night--WBTV, a CBS affiliate in Charlotte, and WRAL, an ABC affiliate in Raleigh. In lieu of Friday's edition of The CBS Late Movie, which must not have generated much of a local audience, WBTV ran a terrific program at 11:30 called Those Were the Years. This show was hosted by the station's then-weatherman Mike McCay (who later wound up spinning classical discs at WDAV 89.9), and aired episodes of old tv series like The Outer Limits, Love That Bob, and The Cisco Kid. The station also screened Flash Gordon serials, as well as occasional films. Its original theme was Singin' Sam's "Reminiscing," but that song was replaced by Steely Dan's more contemporary, and certainly more ironic, "Reelin' in the Years." WBTV aired a feature after the show, and it was here that I received further introductions, along with occasional Shock Theater selections, to the European Cult Cinema: Claudio Guerin's entrancingly bizarre A Bell from Hell (1973), Carlos Aured's Horror Rises From the Tomb (1973), and so forth. Here's a 1976 news item on the program:

In the Seventies, WRAL scheduled an annual all-night, horror-hosted fright film festival on the Friday before Halloween. The first Spook Spectacular I dialed in was also in 1976; it began with Benjamin Stoloff's Night of Terror (1933), a preposterous old-dark-house thriller with a truly outrageous ending which I won't reveal for fear the Maniac will climb into my bedroom window tonight and tear me limb from limb. The station later aired a program on Friday evenings called Chiller Theatre, which had an impressive opening: a POV shot of someone racing fearfully and breathlessly through a cemetery. (Once I dreamed I finally saw the face of the person running, and--shiver me timbers!--the shock was enough to wake me in the middle of the night.) Screenings that particularly stood out for me were Edward Ludwig's The Man Who Reclaimed His Head (1934) and Edward Dmytryk's Captive Wild Woman (1943). With so much amazing programming, it was sometimes difficult to settle on one particular station--and nobody around those remote parts had VCRs. The best we could come up with were audio cassettes.

I later experienced the same cultural dilemma on Saturdays. As I grew older and became aware of Saturday Night Live, Shock Theater had some serious competition, especially when the program featured such musical magicians as Devo, Blondie, David Bowie, and Gary Numan. WXII ran Don Kirshner's Rock Concert immediately after SNL; Kirshner's robotic introductions to the various acts were always highly amusing, especially given Paul Shaeffer's marvelous impersonation of the impresario. Often I would watch SNL, switching to WGHP during commercial breaks for my weekly dose of horror. When the comedy show wrapped up, I would then catch the second creature feature, but by the decade's end, Shock Theater was reduced to merely one picture, followed by an episode of Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected, a series I adored.

Rock Concert moved to Sunday nights before being cancelled a year later. For too brief a while, WXII aired its own version of Shock Theater after SNL from May to November 1982. The program's opening was a white screen, down which stage blood trickled while Giorgio Moroder's "The Myth" composition, with Bowie humming ominously, played. (Paul Schrader's remake of Cat People had recently been released.) The series' writer and host, Paul Iacono, was a bearded gentleman in a black suit and black wraparounds who would be startled by the screams--and, later, organ music--that sounded whenever he uttered the name of the show. At one point, he went in search of the studio's organist to permanently silence the maestro. The program's director, Tim Whitt, began to appear midway through the series' run, and the two men performed amusing sketches. During a screening of George Mendeluk's Stone Cold Dead (1980)--an admittedly odd selection--they appeared from time to time discussing the picture a la Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on Sneak Previews. Another sketch involved a stand-up gynecologist. It wasn't Evelyn Waugh by any stretch of the imagination, but I emitted my fair share of teenage chuckles.

Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention USA's Night Flight, which aired from 1981 to 1988. (Cable ultimately arrived, better late than never, in my hometown in summer 1982.) This program ran from 11pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights, then repeated from 3 to 7am. The series aired episodes of New Wave Theatre (hosted by the late, great Peter Ivers, who was murdered in 1983; the crime remains unsolved), as well as music profiles, concerts, and cult films (some of which were ruinously edited, among them Andy Warhol's Frankenstein [1973] and Dracula [1974]). My all-time favorite presentation was a half-hour British documentary, Posers, on England's New Romantic movement. Like those painted peacocks across the pond, I had nostalgia for the future as well as the past.

Always talking to me
My tv's got personality
Maybe it is watching me
Eye to eye with my tv


Allow me, if you will, to return to the subject of commercial interruptions before I conclude this interminable exercise in nostalgiazing. I didn't care for the spots, of course, but there was nothing I could do about them, and they did allow me time to refill my soda and grab another fudge round. But commercial-free public television was off the air by 11:30 p.m. at the latest, so I was stuck with the infernal ads. Plus there were other pains to endure: panning and scanning or just plain old dead centering for widescreen features, cropping half the bleeding image, as well as censored prints for more recent films. Because cable for my rural county was still a few years away, Home Box Office's uncut features did me absolutely no good at all. I never thought I'd be able to see widescreen pictures in their original aspect ratios in the privacy of my family's living room, but these days almost everyone has that option. The landscape has completely changed. As cable found its way into more homes, there was correspondingly less use for overnight film programming; videocassettes, of course, changed the game entirely. Once I earned my driver's license, I was soon substituting the big for the small screen, attending midnight movies at local cinemas, and once I procured a VCR, I found myself settling less and less for what television movie broadcasts (late night or otherwise) had to offer.

Today's all night television, with the exception of Turner Classic Movies, is depressing stuff, indeed, consisting as it does of C.S.I. reruns, inane chat shows, and infomercial scams with convicted felon Kevin Trudeau. (Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas referred in a spot-on recent editorial to "the tyranny of Paid Programming.") Rebroadcasts of Today, of all the confounded things, occupy WXII's old Nitelite Theatre time slot. TCM Underground premiered in 2006 with an admirable selection of cult favorites, but the program's underwhelming host, Rob Zombie, was soon gone. I had high hopes for the hellbilly rocker, but he never seemed entirely comfortable introducing the movies; the series now opens with footage of a grungy, dreadlocked Zombie surrogate running around some nameless city, but mercifully he never opens his mouth.

Mr. Zombie didn't last long on TCM.

There's very little sense of discovery these days, I fear--at least on the small screen. Lucas suggests using YouTube to while away the wee hours on DirectTV. I did exactly that over the holidays, viewing some old Nitelite Theatre selections (William Cameron Menzies' Drums in the Deep South [1952] and Bob Wynn's The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler [1971]) and a ton of Tomorrow clips on my in-laws' humongous television. Back here at home, some of my recent DVD double bills have included Frank Perry's Rancho Deluxe (1975) and Michael Ritchie's Prime Cut (1972). I don't stay up all evening any more, but late enough to satisfy my after hours fix. These nights I, rather than some local programmer, supply the pictures in my head. Once upon a time our late show revelations were communal--we were, after all, part of the great confraternity of night owls--but today that sense of community has, as with far too many traditions, all but evaporated. The cinematic underworld of my youth was a special one, and I frankly miss that world and all its mysterious gods, whose secret messages to me ran the gamut from black scorpions and devil bats to green slime and men who reclaimed their heads.

Holding horizontal
Static lines in one dimension
Late show revelations
My tv stays on forever
--3-D, "All Night Television" (1980)

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