City Council Candidates

Voters: Find your district | Candidates: Add your information

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

Tillis Fails to Answer Important Question on NC Family Policy Council Questionnaire--Triad Conservative
October 20th, 2014 -- 9:47 PM

The North Carolina Family Policy Council has released its Voter Guide that includes questionnaire responses received from political candidates. The questionnaire for U.S. Senate candidates included 15 questions. Kay Hagan and Sean Haugh did not respond at all. Thom Tillis did not respond to four of the questions. But there...

In Depth: Charlotte mayor Dan Clodfelter--News 14 - TOP STORIES
October 20th, 2014 -- 1:43 PM

Election day is quickly approaching. Here to talk Charlotte mayor Dan Clodfelter.

So glad to see our Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan at...--#soGSO
October 17th, 2014 -- 2:04 PM

So glad to see our Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan at #ConvergeSouth sharing experiences and reflections on Social Media and Elected Officials. Go Mayor Vaughan! #soGSO

#convergeSouth #nancyVaughan #mayorVaughan #greensboro #winstonSalem #triadNC #electedOfficials #mayor #cityOfGreensboro #honorable #creativeDirector #agencyLife#loveMyJob #politics #socialMedia #gso #gsoNC #greensboroNC #nc #northCarolina #loveNC Photo by madmonkjoe

Bencini for High Point Mayor Among PTAA Recommendations for Upcoming Election--PTAA Blog Spot
October 16th, 2014 -- 1:13 PM

Representatives of the Piedmont Triad Apartment Association interviewed candidates for the offices of High Point mayor and city council and based on those interviews feel that the following candidates would be the best for the future development of High Point: Mayor Bill Bencini City Council At-Large (two seats) – Latimer Alexander and Britt Moore Ward 1 […]

Most positive of pair gets my Senate vote--News&Record Greensboro Alt
October 9th, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

For many years, I have listened to candidates debate for public office. They range from City Council, mayor and all the way to the presidency of the United States. Many things have changed; there’s mo

Most positive of pair gets my Senate vote--News&Record Greensboro
October 9th, 2014 -- 12:00 AM

For many years, I have listened to candidates debate for public office. They range from City Council, mayor and all the way to the presidency of the United States. Many things have changed; there’s mo

Greensboro man sues Wells Fargo for $31.1 million--Yahoo News
September 25th, 2014 -- 3:10 AM

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A Greensboro blogger and former mayoral candidate sued Wells Fargo on Monday, claiming the bank hid charges on investments from hundreds of thousands of clients.

Greensboro blogger sues Wells Fargo--News&Record
September 23rd, 2014 -- 2:51 PM

A former Greensboro mayoral candidate who has been critical of city government on Monday sued Wells Fargo, claiming among other things that the bank hid charges on investments from hundreds of thousan

Greensboro blogger sues Wells Fargo--News&Record Greensboro Alt
September 23rd, 2014 -- 2:51 PM

A former Greensboro mayoral candidate who has been critical of city government on Monday sued Wells Fargo, claiming among other things that the bank hid charges on investments from hundreds of thousan

Greensboro blogger sues Wells Fargo--News&Record Greensboro
September 23rd, 2014 -- 2:51 PM

A former Greensboro mayoral candidate who has been critical of city government on Monday sued Wells Fargo, claiming among other things that the bank hid charges on investments from hundreds of thousan

GYC Seeks Models for Third Annual Fashion Show--Yes!Weekly
September 19th, 2014 -- 2:40 PM

  "The Greensboro Youth Council (GYC) is seeking a diverse group of teens to model in the 2015 GYC Fashion Show. A model casting or audition will be held on Thursday, September 25 from 6-7pm at the Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie Street. No previous modeling experience is necessary. Sessions will be held for those selected to help them bring out their confidence and build their skills.
The purpose of the GYC Fashion Show is to promote a positive self image and body image in young men and women by showcasing fashions that fit all body types. Each year the show also focuses on a topic teens are facing such as bullying. The 2015 GYC Fashion Show is scheduled for February 6.

For more information, questions, or concerns please call the Greensboro Youth Council at 373-2738 or check out our website"

- A Press Release

City and County Set for Gridiron Battle--Yes!Weekly
August 29th, 2014 -- 7:10 PM

"Employees and elected officials representing the City of Greensboro and Guilford County will meet at 11 am Saturday, September 20 at Jaycee Park, 3802 Jaycee Park Dr., for fun, fellowship, and football. The gridiron meeting will be the first of three sporting events between the two government entities in the battle for the Guilford Cup.

Greensboro City Councilman Jamal Fox and Guilford County Commissioner Ray Trapp developed the idea of bringing representatives from the two organizations together on the athletic field. “This is a way of breaking down the walls and barriers, perceived or real, that exist between the two governments,” says Fox. “It’s also a fun way to network, provides some excitement for employees, and gives residents a chance to cheer on their governmental leaders.”

“Sports have a way of bringing people together and that’s what the Guilford Cup idea is really about, finding some common ground and spending time with one another,” says Trapp. “I believe that the fellowship we have on the playing field will translate into the workplace. A good-natured rivalry may lead to stronger working ties which will benefit our community in numerous ways.”

Teams comprised of employees and Council/Commission members will kick off the Guilford Cup with the flag football game September 20. That event will be followed by a basketball game later in the fall and 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 in lieu of entry to the events. The government team with the most points will be awarded the Guilford Cup.

Residents and spectators interested in attending September’s football game are asked to bring donations for the Teachers’ Supply Warehouse. A list of items requested by Teachers’ Supply Warehouse and information about the game is online at"

- A Press Release

Greensboro Partnership Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. Mayor...--#soGSO
August 27th, 2014 -- 1:35 PM

Greensboro Partnership Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. Mayor Vaughan and Action Gso announce launch of new social media campaign. #soGSO Photo by myfox8

Robbie Perkins, Roy Carroll, TREBIC, RUCO and Downtown Noise--Abner's Inquisition
August 23rd, 2014 -- 7:46 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?


Dear Greensboro City Council:--Abner's Inquisition
August 23rd, 2014 -- 7:46 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.


Pornography, Porno, Porn, XXX in Greensboro, North Carolina--Abner's Inquisition
August 23rd, 2014 -- 7:46 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?

August 23rd, 2014 -- 7:45 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)

For local elected officials (and the News & Record)--Roch101
August 23rd, 2014 -- 7:45 AM

GREENSBORO, NC -- To our local elected officials who insist on planting their online presence exclusively on Facebook (usually with a mandatory log in, no less): I'm sure the ability to be able to "block" people who ask inconvenient questions has its appeal, but you should think about what the guy in this video has to say and the implications of requiring your constituents to use Facebook as the online conduit to you.

What are you asking us to acquiesce to to be able to connect with you? This applies too to the News & Record too, who not only requires a FB log in to post comments, but requires that users accept the FB tracking cookie just to be able to even see comments.

Special entitlement--Roch101
August 23rd, 2014 -- 7:45 AM

GREENSBORO, NC -- Joe Killian of the News & Record writes of city council woman Nancy Hoffman's downtown properties being cited for code violations. Specifically for violations of the downtown "good repair" ordinance, an ordinance approved with the intention of keeping downtown properties from becoming eyesores.
"City Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann’s company, South End Properties LLC, was cited by the city on Wednesday for violating the Good Repair ordinance — a regulation she helped craft and pass." [emphasis added]
"The citation said Hoffmann’s company received a warning about violations such as broken windows and boarded-up areas last July." [note: According to county records, Hoffman's company purchased both buildings in October of last year.]
"Hoffmann said she bought the buildings last year and has been working toward a renovation of them using historic tax credits."
Hoffman also was quoted as saying:  "These things don’t happen overnight."

Here's the problem, Hoffman not only voted for the ordinance she is violating, she helped craft a more-stringent version (that did not pass) and was unmoved by concerns expressed at the time by fellow council person T. Dianne Bellamy-Small about "expediting improvements versus compassionate treatment of property owners."

Now Hoffman is pleading that these kinds of repairs take time and for some compassionate understanding. She may have a good point. However, if Hoffman is finding the ordinance under which her properties were cited is too demanding, she should go back to council and, with her experience as a guide, suggest loosening the requirements of the ordinance. What she cannot do is remain in support of the ordinance while she makes excuses for why she is not complying with it. That kind of self-serving double standard is not desirable in elected officials.
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