Calling out the N&R’s editorial board

When I express an opinion here, readers who disagree with my take are free and welcome to engage me in the comments below.  Usually a conversation ensues causing me to defend my position.  It happens all the time.

When the N&R’s editorial department expresses an opinion in print, readers who disagree write letters and ‘counterpoint’ pieces that get published, sometimes, and then… nothing.  Conversation stops and the N&R’s editorial writers move on to the next thing, never having the opportunity to defend their opinion.  Well, I’m here to help them out.

Much has been written about the N&R’s non-endorsement of the $5.5M bond to renovate War Memorial Stadium.  Some have called them hypocritical.  I have suggested they appear to be illogical naysayers.  Others promisebreakers.  A piece in yesterday’s paper suggests that they simply don’t understand the issue very well.

So, Robin Saul, Allen Johnson, Doug Clark, Tracie Fellers, and Ken Irons (aka the N&R editorial board), here’s your opportunity.

During the baseball debates of 2003, you, collectively, were of the opinion that WMS should be and would be taken care of once the new downtown stadium was built.  You, collectively, supported the new stadium factions who said the old stadium will be preserved and improved to become “N.C.’s premier amateur baseball venue” and intimated that opinions and fears to the contrary were unfounded.

Now, after a group of citizens (from both sides of the 2003 stadium debate) got together at the behest of city council and developed a renovation plan for WMS and got the measure placed on the ballot, you are urging voters to reject the measure.

What changed your minds?  One at a time, please.

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36 Comments

  1. Posted October 30, 2006 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I don’t want to preempt the answers that your question deserves, David, and that will be rightly forthcoming from a newspaper truly interesting in engaging the community — answers that deserve to come from from each member of the editorial team. However, let me interject that it’s not too late for the N&R editorial staff to change their minds (again).

  2. Posted October 30, 2006 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    they have not responded Hogg. I am very dissapointed!

  3. Madmax
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I’ve almost stop reading the Fish Wrap Editorials because they are so one sided and most times do not make a lot of sense. You are correct when you say they type it and walk away – what a great job!
    I would love to see their response but why would they do that? They are two or three editorials down the road by now and I am sure do not want to revisit the past or expalin their positions or why it has or has not changed.
    Good luck on getting a response.

  4. hugh
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Makes me wonder if some city execs influenced the N&R to poo-poo the stadium. After all, it’s a few blocks in the wrong direction from Downtown where the money could be better spent for the South Elm st. projects. /action greensboro mode.

  5. David Wharton
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    A lot of the people involved in Action Greensboro have also worked to support and promote the baseball stadium bond. Skip Moore in particular, who worked hard for the new stadium, reached out to the Memorial Stadium supporters and invited them to work on the joint bond campaign.

    So, whatever the thinking of the N&R editorial staff, I don’t think Action Greensboro had anything to do with it.

    The South Elm stuff, by the way, hasn’t been significantly funded by Action Greensboro; I believe most of the work there is funded from federal community development block grants.

  6. Mr. Sun
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Interesting moment. Everyone’s in the Town Square waiting for the responsive, competitive, reactive, proactive and accountable leader of the revolution to show up.

  7. Posted October 30, 2006 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    David, I’ve enjoyed reading about this issue on your blog and applaud your effort to get dead-tree journalists to come out of their Chip ‘n Dale cubby holes. Doesn’t seem to be working though.

  8. Posted October 30, 2006 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The N&R editorial staff is famous for sleeping late and working late, so even at 1:30 in the afternoon, I have faith that they will eventually read and respond.

    I’m a patient guy, but Sun is right – it is an interesting moment in the Town Square.

  9. John Robinson
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Allen knows about it and he’s told me he intends to respond. Doug’s on jury duty so Allen’s doing the work of two. He has a history of being responsive; he’ll chime in when he has a second.

  10. Posted October 30, 2006 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    And Fellers, Irons and Saul too?

  11. Posted October 30, 2006 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    David I’ll gladly take you up on your challenge.

    But it’ll have to come a little bit later tonight or early tomorrow. Since you refer to previous editorials in the paper (we’ve written a ton of them about the stadium) I’d like to go back and have a good look myself.

    As for each member of the editorial board responding separately, it’s not necessary. The editorials summarize our collective opinion. As the editor of the editorial pages, I’m more than happy to be the spokesman.

    See you all soon.

  12. Mr. Sun
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    The timing isn’t important, although it does matter a little bit if you are talkin’ ’bout a revolution. What matters to me is the moment. Is it possible that it could be used to change minds, or if not — at least advance the cause of an alternate use for War Memorial Stadium? I was moved by the Op-Ed piece by David and his collaborators. I know I can’t be the only one. I love the new stadium, and am glad it exists. The election is around the corner. These articles have been written and they have raised a sense of inequity about this situation that I don’t believe will ever be as acutely felt. There is this online forum in its infancy. Will it be used here to bicker and preen, or something more? I hope the bond passes. I hope the N&R reverses its endorsement. If not, I want something to do with my feelings of inequity over the situation and goodwill for the stadium. What do I do with it? Davids? Allen? Or, will I just be watching some clever people be clever?

  13. John Robinson
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I ‘spect it’ll just be the editorial page editor…he does speak for the page.

  14. Posted October 30, 2006 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    “he does speak for the page.”

    Yeah, we get that. David’s compelling invitation was for the people to speak for themselves though. We understand that they come to a collective opinion, an explaination of the thoughts and contributions of each individual towards that collective opinion would be welcomed. Why not?

  15. David Wharton
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    “I want something to do with my feelings of inequity over the situation and goodwill for the stadium.”

    This week, tell all your friends to vote in favor of the bond.

    After the vote … well, let’s hope you can take the flares to a ballgame there. If things go badly, though, let’s talk.

  16. Posted October 30, 2006 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Roch is right, Allen. There are five of you and it took three to do the deed and one to write it.

    I’m looking for a little more than a consensus explanation. What’s more, I’d really like to know if Robin Saul actually exists and how what his personal opinion is on this one small matter that means a whole lot to me, and, I think, Greensboro.

    I can hear the “we can’t set a precedent” arguments from here, but they don’t wash if things are really supposed to be changing down there.

  17. Mr. Sun
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Veteran’s Day is November 11, and it falls in the aftermath of whatever the election brings. Whatever happens, that’s an emotional touchstone we shouldn’t fail to notice. If I had a reason to be at War Memorial on November 11 — if something was asked of me by veterans, I’d make it my business to be there. I’m sure I’m not alone.

  18. Jim Scott
    Posted October 30, 2006 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    David,

    If you and your bloggards will excuse me for deflecting this from a News and Record issue to a War Memorial Stadium one, I just wanted you to know that I, duly vested city property owner, am going to vote in the affirmative for the WMS bonds. I am going to put mental pictures of Charlie Harville, Crash Davis, two bronze plaques full of regrettably racially-segregated heroes, your mop haired mug and a swarm of other faces and families from the 9 great seasons of Bats baseball that I was privileged to be a part of squarely between my eyes and happily pen that box.
    But, let’s not forget the context of this vote. And let’s go deeper than three years. In 1997, despite Bill Collins’ pledge of matching funds, the War Memorial bond issue was soundly defeated, but only after the Bats’ owners were subjected to rhetoric insisting they pay for all the improvements themselves and leave the taxpayers out of it. The prevailing sentiment seemed to be, “if those rich Bats owners want a nice stadium so bad, they should go build one themselvesâ€?. Kind of like asking a renter to pay for the landlord’s leaky roof. And bathrooms. And kitchen. I’ll stop there.
    And in 2004, some of those same people were the ones racing to the defense of the old ballyard and casting every brickbat they could find at the new owners after they proposed, heaven forfend, that the naysayers of ’97 had a point.
    I guess I should have left that water to swim merrily under the bridge, in fact I’m sure I should have, but I thought I’d let you know there are many of us, inclusive of current Grasshoppers’ staff, who enjoy the new ballpark and also still support the Grand Lady of Yanceyville Street.
    One person, one vote, one yes, tons of memories, let’s make more.

  19. Posted October 30, 2006 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Jim, (for those who don’t know, Jim is the announcer for the Bats/Grasshoppers)

    Thanks for the memories and the context and the vote.

    Having not been involved in the boosterism for WMS in ’97 (but I did vote for that bond, green as I was), I will accept your description of how things were and, as it turns out, the hypocrisy of some folks in ensuing years. The only thing I can attest to is that if WMS was bad then (and I’m sure it was), it is even worse now.

    That place is special. It holds every bit as much history as does the Woolworth building downtown and I would hate for all of us to look back in thirty years and wonder what happened to “the old ball yard” and wondering if we could have done more to save an important piece of Greensboro.

    Urge your friends to vote ‘yes’ along with this mop haired kid and let’s preserve the place for eighty more years worth of memories.

  20. Posted October 31, 2006 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Hogg,

    I hope the stadium falls down and is hauled off in a fleet of dump trucks.

  21. Posted October 31, 2006 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Ben.

  22. Mick Riggs
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    There are no such things as collective opinions. I suppose they do need to show a unified front on these issue. Would have been kind of cool to see a scorecard and why on each separate issue. I am behind the old stadium and it needs to get done for many reasons. Heres one. The city owns, maintains and keeps building (Carolyn Allen Park) numerous low level baseball and softball facilities. Lets have one showcase facility for regional and/or local events. If it can serve as a small/medium venue for outdoor music, etc… all the better. It is already there for goodness sakes. Lets renovate and maintain this historical feature. Vote YES!

    Pool too!

  23. Jim Scott
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    You’re absolutely right, David. War Memorial Stadium is a treasure and you’ve done a great job defending it.
    The folks in 1926 could have built a statue and called it quits, but they wanted a living memorial. And they succeeded. Unfortunately, they made it a public facility, subject to the whims of voters who, 80 years later, don’t see what the big deal is. I do. You do. Most of Aycock does, but beyond that, voters turn their back on the place and it’s frustrating. It belongs to the city and you’d think we’d have a higher sense of duty than allowing it to crumble. Maybe we figure, in 1000 years, Greeks will come here to visit our ruin, instead of vice/versa.
    I once had a radical suggestion: cede the stadium to the state, if they’d have take it, with particular use covenants.

  24. Madmax
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I too think a vote for the WMS is the right thing to do – any way we can add a pool and hangs some plaques for the Civil Rights Museum and combine it all in one, just kidding. This bond is something we can be proud of – not like some of the issues on the slate. I will urge my friends to vote for WMS but the Pool and Civil Rights Museum are on their own. Taxes are too high now and these sound like good private enterprises. The pool will run a deficit from day one and the management of the Civil Rights Museum has been questionable. As a white voter, taxpayer, I am tired of being called a racist anytime a question is raised with tax funds to these and other projects.

  25. Mick Riggs
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Across the country. Pools of this nature are not private enterprises…. Period. Fact.

    As to the deficit… please take into account that, like the rest of the CVM complex, much of the monetary benefit to the city do not go to the bottom line of the pool. The taxes that go to the city from the monies spent at hotels, restaraunts, etc more than cover the operating defecit of the building itself. The CVM actually brings millions of dollars to the city coffers but the building runs on an annual deficit. The pool will be much the same situation. It is more complex than you make it out to be. Pools lose money so vote NO! Well then there will be no more parks because our city parks lose millions per year… $$MILLIONS$$. Employees, upkeep, etc plus zero income.

    On one hand you say a pool sounds like a good private enterprise. Yet your very next remark is to how it is estimated to lose money. Come again on the good private enterprise. Pools of this nature simply cannot be built w/o municipal involvement. The city benefits from the influx of people and their money throughout the community. Private enterprise does not have that advantage. Greensboro is very well situated regionally to support a pool with an adequate tax base, adequate population, good local clients (clubs, high schools, parks and rec, etc) and great location within the state. Dont be short sighted folks. Vote yes!

  26. Mebane
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    It is now 3:52, Tuesday afternoon, no longer late Monday or early Tuesday as promised by N&R Allen Johnson. I realize that “things” can get in the way but I would really like to hear N&R’s official answer.

  27. Posted October 31, 2006 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I’m game for a debate, guys. But I would have hoped for more civil discourse. Some of you guys are starting to to sound like county commissioners. But, at last, I’ve responded at my blog. Sorry for the delay. It’s been an unreal day. OK, let’s talk about the ballpark.

  28. Spyderbonez
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    So Mick, we build the pool.

    What makes you so sure that the city will upkeep this pool and not let it fall into ruins as the stadium has?

  29. Mr. Sun
    Posted October 31, 2006 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    The shocker for me in Allen’s post was:

    In fact, War Memorial proponent have mentioned bonds in the past as only one option for stadium renovation. They also proposed using federal historic tax credits. I don’t know where that idea is now.

    Please tell me that this doesn’t mean the newspaper made an endorsement on this bond without even bothering to check-in with the stakeholders to learn the status of all the discussed initiatives. With all the history to this debate, the promises made, the long lead time between announcement of the bonds and the endorsement, and the existence of an Editorial Board for precisely that purpose — is it really the case that the paper never even bothered to talk to all the relevant parties and find out what was going on with the stadium? Davids: were you contacted by the editorial department subsequent to the announcement of the bond but prior to the non-endorsement to provide information about the status of stadium plans?

  30. Posted October 31, 2006 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Sun, they didn’t contact me, and I think the N&R did a very poor job of research on this issue.

    I’ve posted my thoughts about this at my own blog.

  31. Posted November 1, 2006 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I was not contacted either.

  32. Mick Riggs
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    As we have all learned maintenance and upkeep are not one of The City’s strongest points. But given that train of thought, why would we ever build or even renovate any city owned structures? I cannot speak for The City in this regard.

  33. Madmax
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I understand that some are reallllly for the pool and think that it is ok to build something that brings revenue to the city but continually run a deficit- the old trickle down effect. I said earlier looks like a good private enterprise – this of course was facetious – no private enterprise in their right mind would take on this venture or the Coliseum as it stands today. Once again I state that this sounds good to the folks that want a pool but to the average tax payer, that makes up all the deficits, then it is not such a great deal. If this and the coliseum are such great revenue makers then let the benefactors – the one that make the profits from these ventures pick up the tab. As far as parks go – yes they may run a deficit but at least the tax payer has some direct benefit for their tax dollar.

    I urge everyone to Vote No for the Pool & Civil Rights Museum.

  34. Mick Riggs
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Again, I state that the pool will not run a true deficit. You mention the deficit at the CVM. It is on paper only! The CVM generates millions of real dollars to the city coffers through taxes on hotels, food, etc. These tax dollars do go to the City but do not go to the bottom line of the CVM. This is not trickle down economics. It is simply how it works. The City reaps real tax dollars generated by the tourism.

    I also believe that any business man would take on the CVM if he were able to collect on the City tax structure. Who wouldnt lose 500K here in order to make 6 million there? Sounds like good business to me.

    As to the benefactors being businesses, hotels and restaurants…. that is where the millions in tax revenue is channeled through so they indeed are doing their part.

    As to parks and the direct benefits, I assume you are referring to usage. How is one person’s use of a city park any differant from another’s use of the pool? Same/Same. Just because you wouldnt go to a pool doesnt mean no one will. Outside of everyday public usage there are numerous probable user groups. The thought that this facility will be a private club for rich, suburban, white kids and their swim clubs (dont deny it) is just flat out wrong.

    Check out http://www.greensboroswimmingcenter.com and http://www.gsobonds.com for more info.

    Its worth a few clicks. At least get the facts and opinions from all sides of the issues.

  35. Madmax
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Mick – Thanks for your perspective – I am just tired of everybody with a “Great Cause” sticking their hand in my pocket. The parks probably get the most bang for the buck for the general public (tax payer) but to be honest I do not want to pay for them either. I have been to the Forward Greensboro website and was turned off because they want you to vote for All the bonds – no distinction – just vote for all the bonds. I am also tired of paying taxes to a group that wants to call me a racist evertime something does not go their way – Skip & Earl have their hand in the Museum and it is on the Forward Greensboro site as a Vote for Bond.
    The Swim center sounds like a great facility – I just do not want to pay for it. I am sorry to say but with all the incentives given by our friends in city hall, I am not sure how we balance out with the flow of tax money back into these facilities. I am sure I am not the only person in Greensboro that feels this way, I guess the final word will be at the polls.

  36. Mick Riggs
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough. At least you are making an informed choice.

    As to a city with no parks, museums, CVM, fair grounds, pools, baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, green spaces, football fields, soccer facilities, sportsplexes, music venues, etc I say no thanks.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Piedmont Publius » Blog Archive » Sunset? on October 30, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    [...] As the clock ticks toward War Memorial Stadium’s ultimate fate, Hoggard keeps bringing the heat on the N&R editorial board. [...]

  2. By Thinking Out Loud on October 31, 2006 at 7:31 pm

    Go ahead … I dare ya!…

    My friend David Hoggard is understandably exercised that the News & Record did not endorse the War Memorial Stadium bonds. “Understandably,” I say, because David sees the stadium as a vital key to revitalizing of the Aycock neighborhood on the……

  3. By Hogg’s Blog » on November 1, 2006 at 6:58 am

    [...] I share Mr. Sun’s concerns (in the comments) on how much that latter point influenced the N&R’s non-endorsement… “Please tell me that this doesn’t mean the newspaper made an endorsement on this bond without even bothering to check-in with the stakeholders to learn the status of all the discussed initiatives.”  Yes… please… assure us all. [...]