Suggestion to the N&R: Research first, then endorse

Update: Wharton asks, “… is this the level of research they did for the rest of the bonds?”. 

Everyone makes mistakes, and the N&R isn’t exempt from that rule.  It is how mistakes are corrected that makes all the difference.

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Allen Johnson, I assume, has spoken for all five members of the N&R’s editorial board and answered my ‘call out’ about why they changed their minds and decided not to endorse the upcoming WMS renovation bond.  David Wharton is neither impressed nor persuaded.  Neither am I.

After encouraging Greensboro voters to ignore preservationists’ fears and warnings in 2003 about what would likely become of War Memorial Stadium when the new downtown stadium was ultimately built, the N&R is now encouraging voters to reject the funding that would spare the historic structure from the very fate predicted by the ‘naysayers’ of ’03. 

A “facelift” would have been fine with them, says Allen, but actually fixing the crumbling 80 year-old concrete that holds the place together? (which is the high-dollar problem), No way, no how.  There are just too many other priorities right now.  And besides, says he, wasn’t there some talk about utilizing federal historic tax credits for the renovation?  What ever happened to that?

Well, a large and earnest group of people labored for months and discovered that a “facelift” would do for WMS what duct tape would have accomplished for the sinking Titanic.  And, if they had asked – and they didn’t ask me or Wharton – the five of them would have discovered that federal tax credits were explored by the WMS Taskforce and found to be unworkable for the stadium. 

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.

If the War Memorial Stadium bond is rejected by the voters this coming Tuesday, the N&R will have been complicit in one of the greatest architectural calamities ever to befall Greensboro. 

But hey, at least they’re all for spending a couple thousand dollars once the stadium, which is first and foremost a war memorial, finally gets demolished due to further neglect and deterioration.  Or, as they put it… ”A monument preserved at that location or some other prominent place can serve the purpose just as well.â€?  Sure it can, guys… sure it can.

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6 Comments

  1. Mr. Sun
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    As I learn all the facts, I think it’s fair to say that at the time of the N&R endorsement decision, the highly relevant line items below were known by WMS stakeholders, but the failure of the N&R editorial team to simply ask about them meant they were not fully taken into account in the endorsement decision or communicated to voters. Do I have that right?The status of alternate funding initiatives. (Known, and literally flagged by Allen as a question.)The substantive reasons for setting the bond issue amount over lower cost alternatives. (Known, and literally raised in the non-endorsement editorial in a way that suggests the chosen amount was excessive.)The details of possible renovation scenarios that serve as hard stops on renovation options and their cost. (Known, and at a level of detail that makes tossing around words like “facelift” frustrating.)The extraordinary level of city and citizen expense and involvement in the tailoring of the WMS bond. (Known, and a potentially powerful reassurance to frugal voters that has either not been communicated, or not communicated in great detail.)I’m sure I’ve left something out or gotten something wrong, but this seems like a useful list to build and when you take a step back even now at this early stage, it sure looks like the WMS bond was ill-served by the N&R editorial page.

  2. Wayne R.
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Since I don’t live in Greensboro anymore but still work here, I’m sorta out of the loop, but let me ask all the stakeholders in this process: what have you been doing to get the public on your side? I know David, bless his heart, has kept this up on his blog, but have all the WMS boosters been working hard to educate the voting public?

    I’m pretty sure a large number of the active “Naysayers” knew from the start that the N&R NEVER intended to support this bond. All their talk and blather was aimed at getting the Melvin Stadium built, not trying to preserve the old one. There’s no political incentive for them to do that in this town.

    Maybe it’s not too late, but are there poll workers ready to go out on Tuesday and hand out leaflets, and ask voters to vote YES on the WORLD WAR MEMORIAL STADIUM BOND??? There wont be that many voters Tuesday, most likely, so you don’t have to print up that much material.

    Just a thought. And maybe next time, everybody can get behind the effort from the Get-Go.

  3. Mick Riggs
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    They are circling the wagons at this point. We will not get anything out of em now. AJs response is half @##ed at best. He even managed a swipe at the pool bond! They dont appear to have done sufficient legwork on many of these issues and that is being exposed. I know there were misleading comments about the stadium as well as the pool in the anti-endorsements and therefore I assume the entire series to be flawed. Looks to me “they” went about some of this backwards by deciding first then backing into their reasonings. Some of their reasoning appears to be flawed and/or misinformed and therefore the opions are invalid. Garbage in = Garbage out.

    The WMS supporters have every right to feel betrayed by the N&R. These folks above all the others have put in real money, real time and real research to find what they feel is the best solution to the issue. This is the N&Rs “Bay of Pigs”.

    If folks want to vote down any of these bonds as luxuries, etc then so be it but GOOD REPORTING would have helped all in the decision making process by layimg out ACCURATELY each issue. It simply wasnt done.

    Sorry for the rant but AJ called out the pool supporters with his completely unnecessary, cheap shot in his response to the WMS folks.

  4. David Wharton
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Wayne, in response to your question about what the WWMS supporters have been doing to get the word out: we’ve been working closely with the Citizens’ Committee for Greensboro to publicize the bond, handing out flyers, going to public events, speaking at city council meetings, appearing on TV and radio, putting up yard signs, talking to our friends, writing newspaper editorials, and writing on our blogs.

    I wish we could do more … but I, at least, have 3 active teenagers, and both my wife & I have full-time jobs, as well as other civic obligations. The other heavy-lifters on this project like Betsey Baun, Tracy Lamothe, Greg Woodard, and Benjamin Briggs, also have a lot on their plates.

  5. Posted November 1, 2006 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    The WMStadium folks have done yeoman’s (and yeowoman’s) work getting the word out. David Hoggard cut a video, paid for by the Citizens’ Committee, and that same video is on YouTube. The group has received very positive editorials on WFMY, supporting the need for the bond, and the group has played according to all the rules on an issue of important historic preservation.

    I think the N&R’s lack of endorsement is simply stunning, runs contrary to what I hope is popular opinion, and smacks of a little bit of carrot and stickism.

    All the bonds are important. This particular bond tells a great deal about what we will be able to tell our children of our stewardship of Greensboro’s history.

  6. Wayne R.
    Posted November 1, 2006 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Thank you David. Good to know the WWMS supporters are working as hard as they can. Without the bully pulpit of the N&R, and their endorsement, it’s hard to see voters approving the issue. but who knows? Maybe the public will recognize the shell game the paper and the power structure played to get us to where we are now, and vote to approve the bonds.

    It’s just a shame. The comment by the editorial board that there will be time afterward to save WWMS is just plain b.s.

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