The People’s Business: Week of September 9, 2019

Monday

W-S City Council, Finance Committee: 4:30 p.m. in the Committee Room, City Hall, Room 239, 101 N. Main Street. View/Download Agenda

W-S City Council, Public Safety: 6:00 p.m. in the Committee Room, City Hall, Room 239, 101 N. Main Street. View/Download Agenda

Tuesday

W-S City Council, Community Development/Housing/General Gov. Committee, 4:30 p.m. in the Committee Room, City Hall, Room 239, 101 N. Main Street. View/Download Agenda

W-S City Council, Public Works Committee, 6:00 p.m. in the Committee Room, City Hall, Room 239, 101 N. Main Street. View/Download Agenda

WSFCS Board of Education, 6:30 p.m. in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Education Building, 4801 Bethania Station Rd.

Disunion Station

“Union Station is a project without a purpose.” -Robert Clark

Winston’s Union Station closed in 1970. After decades operating as Davis Garage, and years spent acquiring and rehabilitating the property, Union Station is finally open to the public. After spending a mere $20 million on the project, the City of Winston-Salem now owns a marvelous, historic building. But what exactly the City is going to do with Union Station is still anyone’s guess. Sadly, after yesterday’s grand opening, the building closed and won’t be open to the public for a while longer.

The Winston-Salem City Council’s Dixie Debate Word-For-Word

Monday night’s Winston-Salem City Council meeting was one for the history books. The resolution to rename the Dixie Classic Fair passed by a 4-2 margin, with one abstention, effectively the resolution passed 5-2. Denise Adams, Dan Besse, Vivian Burke, and Annette Scippio voted yes. John Larson and Jeff MacIntosh voted no. And James Taylor, who was the first politician to suggest that the Dixie Classic Fair’s name should be changed in 2015, abstained.

One Morning In Court…

Monday I went to court to support a friend who was recently issued a citation for panhandling. It was interesting to see how justice is made in the basement of the Forsyth County Hall of Justice. Once the courtroom doors opened at 9:00 am, defendants flooded in. The gallery was comprised of average looking joes and janes, disproportionately low-income and people of color. I didn’t see anyone in the crowd that looked like they had money.

Aggressive Panhandling Or Aggressive Policing?

Earlier this week the City of Winston-Salem held its monthly Public Safety News Conference. Chief Catrina A. Thompson announced when and where the WSPD’s backpack program and Cookies With A Cop events would be held. Assistant Chief, Wilson Weaver II announced that this year’s Dixie Classic Fair would have added security measures: bag checks and electronic scanners, to deter weapons from coming into the fairgrounds. Weaver ended his comments by asking the City’s residents to “please continue to attend our events and have fun. We will be there to keep you safe.”

Breaking Crystal: What We’ve Learned In The Year Since HAWS Announced Plans To Sell Crystal Towers

It was one year ago to the day that the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem (HAWS) announced that it was putting Crystal Towers up for sale. The 11-story high-rise located at 625 West Sixth Street in downtown Winston-Salem, opened in 1970 and is home to approximately 200 residents.* According to Heather Fearnbach, the woman who wrote the book on Winston’s architectural heritage, Crystal Towers was the city’s first high-rise dwelling erected since the late 1920s. Crystal Towers, (along with its sister high-rise, Sunrise Towers) was designed to serve as housing for the elderly. Today, one hundred percent of Crystal Towers’ residents are elderly and or people with disabilities. These are the last folks that the Housing Authority should be evicting.

The People’s Business: August 12, 2019

The Winston-Salem City Council will be back in their old form this week. After taking July off, the Council eased their way back last Monday, with a City Council meeting that lasted a mere 16 minutes. With a full slate of committee meetings this week, the Council is back in business. The murder of Julius Sampson continues to be the topic that’s on everyone’s mind. The Mayor held a press conference this morning to address concerns regarding the case.

Remember Darryl Hunt: Keep Fighting To Overturn Wrongful Convictions

Despite the fact that Darryl Hunt is an internationally known advocate for justice, there are no memorials in Winston honoring Darryl Eugene Hunt. You won’t find his name on Winston’s new Walk of Fame or his image on any mural. The last substantive piece written on Hunt didn’t exactly do Hunt any favors; it examined his death through the lens of addiction and in some ways tainted his legacy. Winston seems content to allow Hunt to fade from popular memory because so many of the city’s ills are present in the hell that Darryl Hunt endured. When the City christened the Lawrance Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in 1989, it was supposed to be an example of racial progress in the city.

Coverage Of Julius Sampson’s Murder Raises The Question: When Should The Media Use The Term Racism?

Tuesday’s fatal shooting at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, outside of Hanes Mall, was a senseless act of violence. Because a young white man pulled a trigger, three children are without their father and a wife without her husband. In the wake of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, the shooting on Hanes Mall Circle reinforces what we already knew; gun possession leads to gun violence. No space in our nation is safe until gun control laws are passed. The Journal reported that nearly 150 people gathered in the parking lot of BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse yesterday to remember Julius “Juice” Sampson, a beloved member of the community.

The People’s Business: August 5, 2019

It’s August, and you know what that means? It’s time for Forsyth County to mail out property tax bills to property owners. Those bills are a good reminder of one reason why you should participate in local government-YOU ARE PAYING FOR IT (directly or indirectly). There isn’t much on the Winston-Salem City Council’s agenda this week. The same is true of the Forsyth County Commissioners’ agenda.

When The Salem Band Played Dixie

Nearly five months ago, the Confederate statue that stood in downtown Winston-Salem since 1905 was removed by the City of Winston-Salem. That statue was erected, four decades after the Civil War ended to cement Jim Crow segregation. It was an illegitimate participation trophy, meant to terrorize African Americans. Anyone who is uncertain of the purpose of the former statue located at Fourth and Liberty should remember that Alfred Moore Waddell, the racist terrorist who led a bloody coup that ousted Wilmington’s elected government in 1898, spoke at the statue’s dedication. The City of Winston-Salem currently has the unrepentant rebel stored at an undisclosed location.

New Out-Of-State Owner Of Greenway Village Apartments Is Evicting Tenants With Records

“Mass evictions are taking place at the Greenway Village Apartments.” That’s what a friend of mine with Housing Justice Now told me on Saturday.* I stopped by Greenway Village Monday afternoon to see if I could verify what I had been told and to encourage anyone facing eviction to fight back. The Greenway Village Apartments are located just behind the former St. Phillips Moravian Church. The one-story frame apartments were built in the late 1940s to address a severe housing shortage after World War II.

Union Station Cheat Sheet

The City of Winston-Salem describes the soon-to-open Union Station as a “inter-modal transportation facility” that will serve “as a regional and local bus terminal and later expanding to include regional and long-distance passenger rail service.” When the City took Union Station from Harvey Davis, via eminent domain they were mandated to use Union Station for public transportation. Thus, Union Station will be a bus station for the foreseeable future and perhaps one day a train station. But not any time soon. Though Council Members have assured us that Union Station won’t replace Clark Campbell, that’s cleary what some downtown leaders desire.