Tom Blount: Market, PART, hoods, Ms. Fixit get focus
It was gratifying to see/hear Gov. Pat McCrory return to his senses and direct the Department of Commerce and Department of Transportation secretaries to restore full funding for High Point Market in his state budget proposal. Originally, the governor’s $20.6 billion budget proposal would have cut market funding from $1.65 million to $800,000 by the middle of 2014.
It’s also gratifying that so many people (including the “42 presidents and chief executive officers of furniture companies employing more than 9,000 North Carolina breadwinners”) continue working to convince legislators not only to maintain market funding but boldly seek restoration of the $2 million in support allocated three years ago. With market (the world’s premier furniture industry events) having an annual economic impact in North Carolina of $1.2 billion combined with the $8 billion impact the furniture industry annually has on the state’s economy, General Assembly support would appear to be a no-brainer.
Logic doesn’t always work with lawmakers, however, so as local citizens, even those with no direct or even indirect ties to market, we as well need to keep pressure on our state representatives and senators. We must encourage them, perhaps demand, to spread the word to fellow legislators, many of whom have been elected only recently and who probably know little, if anything, about the twice-a-year events. Those lawmakers need to learn how market benefits the entire state. If you think economic conditions in the greater High Point area have been bad since 2007, consider what impact weakening of the market would have.
Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation, founded in 1998, always is looking for additional funding for its 14 routes in 10 Triad counties. PART officials should monitor their park-and-ride lots (some which have fewer than six vehicles parked on them during the week) on weekends. PART could/should charge drivers who park trucks there. The lot at the intersection of Old Plank Road and N. Main Street, just two weekends ago, had six 18-wheelers and a trailer and a 6-wheel truck parked there. Even during the week, that lot often has more tractors, trailers and other freight-hauling trucks on it than cars and pickups left there by park-and-ride patrons.
Have you noticed, as I have, that in many of the shootings reported – in the Triad and across the nation – at least one of the parties involved is wearing a hoodie. Perhaps lawmakers could/should include elimination of hoodies as part of gun-control reform legislation. Of course, as with other items the gun-control folks would like to ban, criminals still would get hoodies on the black market.
With so many important issues, such as jobs, the economy, government debt and budget woes topping priority lists, elected officials should concentrate on those items rather than attempting to stir up mischief with mostly waste-of-time measures designed to give one political party an advantage over the other. Politicians should pay close attention to the axiom “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” SB 317, which would redistrict Guilford County’s school districts, make county school board elections partisan and make member terms two years, is just one example.
Speaking to Rotary Club of High Point on Thursday, Charles Edwards, who has been engaged in the commercial aviation and logistics industry since 1970, pointed out we need to support improvements in education – so the transportation and logistics “industry” can find qualified people for the thousands of jobs it now has available and the thousands more it can have available by the end of this decade. Recognize that needless tinkering with the school board election process isn’t something we should support.
Tom Blount retired as editor of The High Point Enterprise in 2012.