Winston-Salem City Council Meeting Merry-Go-Round: January 4, 2021, Gunshot Detection, Belview Rec Center, Affordable Parking + Union Station!

The Winston-Salem City Council started the year off with a rather dull meeting. They met remotely, as they have done since Covid-19 emergency orders were implemented last March. The Council, led by W-S Alliance President and WSNC Mayor Allen Joines, did not allow public comments. For some months now, local activists with the Triad Abolition Project, Housing Justice Now, and Hate Out of Winston have offered a blistering critique of the Council’s priorities (funding the WSPD, not funding affordable housing, inaction in the midst of an eviction tsunami). By consent, without any discussion, the WSNC City Council approved a new Gunshot Detection System.

The People’s Business: December 14, 2020, WS/FC’s Last Public Meetings Of 2020

This year has been a challenging one. But there is a feeling, amongst some that when we get to 2021, everything will get better; Covid-19 vaccines will be distributed, the pandemic will finally be over, and we can return to normal. In actuality, with the federal eviction moratorium set to expire at the end of the year, cold weather, and Covid spikes crippling small businesses, the darkest days of the pandemic are right around the corner. A case can be made for a small business bailout, but what we really need is an extension of the eviction moratorium. We need an eviction moratorium 2.0 that forgives back rent tenants owe their landlords.

Gangs In Winston-Salem

Last Monday’s Public Safety Committee meeting was brief. The only item of note was the WSPD’s Gang Unit presentation. The most destructive gang in Winston’s history is R.J. Reynold’s participation in the Big Tobacco Cartel. That cartel has sent millions of its consumers to an early grave in order to profit from the most deadly consumer product ever invented. It’s also worth noting that shortly before Wachovia’s collapse in 2008, it was caught laundering money for an infamous Mexican drug cartel.

It’s About To Get A Little Easier For Crystal Towers’ Residents To Cross Sixth Street

Crystal Towers is conveniently located in the heart of Downtown Winston-Salem, at 625 W Sixth St. The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem had a buyer lined up to redevelop Crystal Towers, but HUD wouldn’t let them sell Crystal during a pandemic. Crystal Towers’ residents are just a short walk from the Central Library (when it reopens), restaurants, and the modest amenities that DTWS has to offer. But crossing Sixth Street is no easy task for many of Crystal’s approximately 200 residents, slowed down by age and/or various medical conditions. Often motorists in a hurry to get in or out of downtown exceed the speed limit on Sixth Street on their way to Trade or Broad Street.

Winston-Salem City Council Meeting Merry-Go-Round: Front Street Capital And Industry Hill Move Forward, Purple Crow Gets $200,000

Monday’s meeting of the Winston-Salem City Council was a good example of how our City Council serves Winston’s wealthiest, well-connected few. All of the items on the City Council’s agenda were approved unanimously, without any dissenting votes. Think about that; not a single dissenting vote was cast in a meeting that lasted well over an hour. One could argue that the mayor and councilmembers were simply agreeing on zoning measures and a relatively modest incentive deal with a local manufacturer. But Allen Joines and his compliant councilmembers were rubber-stamping developer’s prerogatives, while largely ignoring the concerns of the working class.

Budgetary Shenanigans Are No Substitute For Police Reform

It’s official if you trust our local media, Winston-Salem is part of a nationwide defund (or abolish) the police debate ignited by the murder of George Floyd and so many Black victims before him. But if last Monday’s Public Safety meeting was any indication, our Council isn’t prepared to address how the WSPD polices Black communities in Winston or institute actual community control of the WSPD. And defunding and or abolishing the police is not even on the Winston-Salem City Council’s radar. The Journal’s front-page headline last Tuesday read, “City may pull $1M from the police.” But that headline gives the wrong impression.

COVID-19 Update: Bus Riders Will Get Fare-Free Service, The Homeless Might Get Hotel Rooms…

Mayor and Winston-Salem Alliance leader, Allen Joines, just announced that he will extend his Emergency Stay At Home Order for three additional weeks. The previous emergency order ran through Thursday, April 16. The new emergency order runs until May 7. Joines also announced that some federal funds were beginning to trickle down to the city. Specifically, $1.3 million in Community Block Grants and $660,00 to help the homeless “in a temporary situation.”

Winston-Salem Braces For COVID19

The City of Winston-Salem recently announced that it was closing public facilities and suspending meetings in an effort to address the looming Coronavirus/COVID19 crisis. All recreation centers will be closed until further notice. All public assembly facilities including the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, the Benton Convention Center, BB&T Ballpark and Bowman Gray Stadium are closed. City Hall and the Bryce A. Stuart Municipal Building will operate under normal business hours for critical city business only that cannot be done online or over the phone. Previously planned City of Winston-Salem meetings and events have been canceled.

“The City Is A Business, A Big Business.”

“With this vote, the four hard-working members of the Finance Committee just saved the City $11 million. That’s about three million each. That’s pretty good for a day’s work.” Those were Finance Committee chairman Robert Clark’s comments on refinancing water and sewer revenue bonds. Total debt load, water and sewer revenue bonds outstanding are about $400 million.

City Funds New Walkertown Road Project

Last night a two-vehicle accident occurred at the intersection of Cameron Ave and E. 14th St. One vehicle hit the side of Titanic Food Mart but didn’t appear to do much damage. On the other side of that building, there is an impressive mural honoring East Winston’s history. I don’t know what possessed anyone to change the 14th Street Discount Store to Titanic Food Mart. A building that reads Titanic on one side and displays a mural of East Winston’s history on the other side, sends the message that East Winston is a sinking ship.