Joe Wilson: “This city is for sale”

District 3 City Council candidate Joe Wilson, on his blog… (links added by me)

“Margeret (sic) Banks, unofficial cheerleader for several  insider candidates in the race placed a link on her blog to Zack Metheny’s  fundraiser . It had a list of sponsors that looked like a roster of everyone that had ever appeared in front of  him on the Zoning Commission. NO conflict there . Once again it proves that this city is for sale.”

Those are some pretty strong words when he says that a sponsor list , “…proves this city is for sale“, but I get his point. 

And…. Margaret?  A cheerleader? …for “insider candidates”?  JR, did you know about this?  What do the uniforms look like?  I ADORE cheerleader uniforms.

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  1. Margaret Banks
    Posted August 2, 2007 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Well you know, people always say I have nice pom-poms. (Oh, sorry. Thought this was the Unbuttoned blog).

    By the way, Joe and I had a really nice conversation on the phone today. He wanted to assure me that he meant nothing personal about his comments. And I assured him I took no offense.

  2. John Robinson
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Zack Metheny? He’s an insider? Who knew? And I thought I was an insider.

  3. Tom Phillips
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I guess we should only elect people who don’t no anyone and have never gotten involved in the community.

  4. Tom Phillips
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I can’t spell. “Don’t know anyone”

  5. The CA
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Still waiting for JR to answer whether it is appropriate for his paper to provide links to politcal fundraisers. If so, I think Newt Gingrich has one coming up that I would like the N&R to link to.

  6. Margaret Banks
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Sam, like I said on Inside Scoop, if it’s a local fundraiser for Gingrich, send it to me and I’ll post it.

    Also, I’ve got a standing invitation to candidates to send me information about fundraisers and appearances. I hope to receive something from all 33 candidates.

  7. The CA
    Posted August 5, 2007 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Fair enough.

  8. Posted August 6, 2007 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    JR, Are you saying that he is an insider or not an insider .Look at his list of supporters there couldn’t be a bigger insider.Please clarify what you meant.

  9. Posted August 6, 2007 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Tom, There are plenty of people who serve the community who are not a part of the inner circle.Are they not worthy to hold elected office in your opinion.

    Unfortunately the people who (no) know people don’t talk about the fact that four out of the last five murders were gang related,that six out of the last 7 shootings were gang related.

    Why don’t the people who know people do something pro-active about our real problems, instead of re-zoning us into oblivion while our children become murderers,drug dealers and targets?

  10. Posted August 6, 2007 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Joe: My bailiwick is state government and politics now, but I used to cover city government.

    I just took a look at your web-page, which says you are a real estate developer, a member of the Jaycee’s Old-Timers, N.C. Association of Realtors, TREBIC and a delegate to the state GOP convention. Plus you’re a member of the appointed county transportation planning board.

    A mid-career professional with ties to civic and professional groups and a local government board appointment is a pretty classic – one might say insider – profile for a city council candidate in my mind.

    So don’t count yourself short.

    My own take is that “insider status,” however you define it, will probably be more meaningful in the general election.

    The primary, with so many candidates, is going to be about who can turn out a base and (favorable) name recognition among that cohort of voters. It seems like you’re certainly well on your way to building that.

  11. John Robinson
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    It was a joke, Joe. I thought that was what the tone of Hogg’s post called for. I don’t know Zach Metheny and have never been to his Website. I haven’t thought much about “insiders” and “outsiders” but off the top of my head, I think it’s a false dichotomy. I’ve also seen no evidence that Margaret is an unofficial (or official) cheerleader for anyone or any group. A link off the blog, which as she says will be provided any candidate, ain’t it.

  12. Posted August 6, 2007 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    JR ,thanks for clearing that up .Margaret and I have covered the “cheerleader” comment, I believe you to be correct on the matter.

  13. Posted August 6, 2007 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Binker seems to underscore Joe’s point in his reply to Phillips: one can be very active in the community without being a real insider.

    Look at the list of folks who signed that letter for Metheny and tell me there’s not a self-perpetuating power structure.

    I’m not arguing that this inner circle is malevolent — it may be a natural product of the way people network, and it may sometimes produce effective and honest government — but it damn sure exists.

  14. Posted August 6, 2007 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    So, where might you fit in there, Ed?

  15. Posted August 6, 2007 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Before moving on to the ever-fascinating topic of me, Mark, are you agreeing that some group, however loosely defined and incomplete (given the existence of other power centers), can be identified as an inner circle of power in Greensboro politics, and that Matheny’s invitation gives us some insight into the composition of that circle, or a subset of that circle?

  16. Posted August 6, 2007 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    This will sound naive, but I believe the subset of people who control Greensboro politics are those that show up to vote. Within that group, those who swing the elections are those who organize and deploy good campaigns, whether they be GOTV efforts, direct mail or whatnot.

    Are there people who have mastered that and have more money to do it than others, yes. Are a certain group of those folks disproportionately represented on Matheny’s invitation? You bet. They’re very much an echo of the old North-Greensboro business titans who played heavy handed in city elections during the 50s, 60s and 70s. What y’all are really describing is a traditional power base, a constituency that is generous with its time and money. They may not agree so much on policy but on the profile of those they believe can be trusted with policy … a fine line, I know, but there is a difference.

    So a candidate for city council seems to have been bright enough to go and court people with money to give campaigns who also seem to have some influence? Why, that’s so crazy it just might work.

    But is every power broker or network of people who hold sway over city election on the list? Not by a long shot. And does their endorsement mean Matheny will win the campaign. Not necessarily. In fact, I bet someone could make some hay running as a change candidate who hangs those donors around a candidate’s neck like a lead weight if they wanted to do so.

    My point earlier with Joe was that he’s not exactly devoid of community connections upon which a campaign could be built. In fact, my two cents is that by use of some online tools and a good real-world campaign he can build the kind of network he needs to win.

    My point with you was that I find it a bit of stretch for someone with your family and business connections to be railing against “the inner-circle” of Greensboro politics. I’m sorry if you think that puts too fine a point on it.

    The larger point is that the argument about an “inner circle” is a little simplistic.
    It discounts competing interests among political/financial elites as well as the checks on those elites by other social and political networks within the city.

    Money, influence and connections will get you so far. At the end of the day, people have to go in the voting booth and pull the lever/push the button/jab the touch screen for you. In a city of 235,000 or so people where municipal election turnout over 20 percent is considered a good day, there’s lots of room for people to run and win from outside.

    To buy into what you are selling with the “inner circle” theory either requires that you throw up your hands and cry into your beer about the inevitability of it all or that those who want to see a different outcome put some skin in the game and go after it. Either way, neither Margaret nor the paper is going to have any favorites.

  17. John Robinson
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    How have you cleared it up with Margaret, Joe? Best I can tell, the statement about her role as unofficial cheerleader still stands on your blog.

  18. Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Mark says: “I bet someone could make some hay running as a change candidate who hangs those donors around a candidate’s neck like a lead weight if they wanted to do so.”

    Isn’t that what Joe Wilson is trying to do?

    Mark also distorts what I’ve written, saying I’ve been “railing against ‘the inner-circle’ of Greensboro politics.”

    He says this right after I say, “I’m not arguing that this inner circle is malevolent — it may be a natural product of the way people network, and it may sometimes produce effective and honest government.”

    Mark himself spends a lot of pixels describing this same power structure — by his definition, I guess that’s a tirade against it?

    Finally, and least important: I doubt Mark knows much of anything about my “family and business connections,” or their influence or lack thereof on my opinion-writing about local politics.

  19. Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    First off, give JR a break Ed. You describe his initial comment as “flippant” on your blog- and it was – but my post asked for such flippancy and I appreciated the humor.

    Next. I agree with Binker’s take on the way things are and what it takes to get elected.

    I have spent many long hours among the “insiders” – aka movers and shakers – who mostly hail from Greensboro’s ’08 zip code. It is not that I sought the ’08′s out, it is just that if you are going to be involved in the moving and shaking hereabouts, ’08 is where it’s at.


    You want to adopt some “anti ’08″ attitude. Which means, as a someone who is looking to get elected, you will need to listen to those around the ’05′s… which is my zip code… which is East Greensboro… which is where several members of the Simpkins PAC hold sway. East Greensboro’s issues are much different than those found north of Cornwallis. And East Greensboro VOTES.

    As a candidate, one can get derided for ambling up to either the ’08′s or the ’05′s. But the truth is, if you are looking to get elected, a candidate has to amble up to something. Might as well go where the votes are.

    I can tell you that I feel as much of an “outsider” among the monied ’08′s as I do among the mostly black establishment found in ’05 and surrounds. But to me, if I were totally comfortable in either, I don’t think I would have a very good picture of the kind of leadership Greensboro needs to overcome the divisions inherent among the various zip codes.

    I am looking for people who can move between the two main Greensboro power bases with semi-ease. They will be the ones that get things done and the ones that will get my support.

  20. Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    As I said, identifying the traditional business community power center doesn’t preclude noticing that it is “loosely defined and incomplete (given the existence of other power centers).”

    Other than the definition of “railing against,” seems like we’re all pretty much on the same page: there is an inner circle of business and civic leaders, they do matter in elections, they are not omnipotent or necessarily a bad thing.

  21. Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:54 pm | Permalink


  22. Mark Binker
    Posted August 6, 2007 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know Ed, but “Look at the list of folks who signed that letter for Metheny and tell me there’s not a self-perpetuating power structure.” You can come back and say it may not be malevolent, but it sure sounds like you don’t like it.

    And yes, the bit about your family and business connections was a cheap shot and I appologize. But Ed, you’re more the insider that you’d care to admit in this conversation I think.

    But there’s a larger problem with this talk of “inner ciricle,” which is lets bad candidates write off (for them) bad outcomes. It lets people off the hook for not putting in the effort or having positions that run contrary to the electorate. (Let me say, before anyone jumps to an adverse conclusion, that Hoggard ran a fine and well done campaign and had he not been up against three incumbents would have, in all likelyhood, won.)

    Sometimes people lose campaigns because they’re up against bigger and more organized guns than they can cope with. And sometimes they lose because they shoot themselves in the foot.

  23. Posted August 6, 2007 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I don’t know how you can read something negative into the simple statement that the business power structure exists, but somehow decide to discount my explicit statement that it’s not malevolent and that it may be natural and produce effective and honest government. For that matter, I don’t know how anyone can look at our City Council and our development history and doubt that real estate interests are tremendously powerful in this city.

    I didn’t say I’m not connected to that business power structure. I just asked that we agree on its existence before boring people with my connections to it, which are many and varied and generally positive.

    It’s true that the influence of this group, or other power centers, can be overstated, and that people sometimes blame it for the wrong things. But in your zeal to put it into context you are over-correcting in my case.

  24. Mark Binker
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    Fair enough.

  25. Posted August 7, 2007 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    This is good stuff. We have identified at least two of the power centers.

    So, how much influence do they wield, separately and together?

    Are there lessons on that front from Tom’s campaign for mayor?

    How important is direct mail, mailing lists, and other things that cost money, and how important is the business/real estate group in providing that money to favored candidates, and how hard is it for other candidates to raise similar amounts?

    Finally, I’d guess that the relative influence of the folks backing Matheny is higher in District 3, where he and Wilson (and others) are running than in the city at large.

  26. Posted August 7, 2007 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I am looking for people who can move between the two main Greensboro power bases with semi-ease. They will be the ones that get things done and the ones that will get my support.
    Good thought, I can’t wait to see who you think can do that without giving away their soul.

  27. Brenda Bowers
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Much enjoyed and gained information from this thread. I ditto Diane’s comment as it seems to me from my research of records and newspapers the pols in Greensboro/Guilford have been “selling their souls” for decades. BB

  28. latinmer
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    ….speaking of candidates, fundraisers and sponsors (as y’all were): I invite you to participate in all three simultaneously (along with the big cheese that accompanies the wines we‘ll be serving) at an event the GGRWC will be hosting on Sunday, August 26th. Learn more (thanks, again, to Tony) at the following link:
    - Maria Barton

  29. Posted August 16, 2007 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Still waiting on that response from Tom Phillips.I think I asked valid question among the rhetoric , it deserves an answer.

  30. Posted September 10, 2007 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I am now more sure than ever that WE need sweeping changes in the City Council.

    It’s time for a revolution in Greensboro after all, we are famous for it . I know I am not the only one who wants it to change.

    The time is at hand to wake up and rally .We have less than 30 days to do it. Let me hear from you if you still believe in Greensboro and want to help me .