Mailer targets High Point candidates associated with ‘street dieting’

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save main streetA shadowy group calling itself the Citizens’ Coalition to Save Our Main Street has hit High Point voters with a mailer attacking the nonprofit City Project and the citizens group We Heart High Point over their advocacy for a proposal to reduce lanes on North Main Street.

The idea of reducing lanes while adding on-street parking and beautifying North Main Street so that it becomes more appealing to pedestrians was part of the Ignite High Point master plan submitted by renowned urban planner Andres Duany and local architect Peter Freeman. The plan was commissioned by City Project, whose executive director Wendy Fuscoe received her salary from the city of High Point. By majority vote, the city council reassigned Fuscoe earlier this year to a new position as coordinator of revitalization efforts in the Core City.

A slate of candidates, including Ward 4 incumbent Jay Wagner, and Alyce Hill and Roger Sims — challengers respectively in wards 3 and 5 — have embraced street dieting and the overall thrust of the revitalization proposal by Ignite High Point. David Rosen, an at-large candidate, is an organizer of We Heart High Point, which has been promoting street dieting on its Facebook page.

The mailer does not include a phone number or any other type of contact information. Brenda Wallace with the Guilford County Board of Elections said the board has no information about the group behind the mailer. No campaign filings are posted on the website of the State Board of Elections, and no one from the state agency could be reached for comment as to whether the organization has formally filed as a political action committee, as required by law.

The mailer argues that the proposed dieting initiative would “benefit a handful of wealthy property owners” while leaving businesses on the street “devastated.” The mailer doesn’t explain how businesses would be devastated while their presumable lessors become enriched.

The mailer also argues that “a massive bond package” would have to be approved by voters to pay for the project, even though city council has yet to approve the plan, much less determine whether it will be a limited undertaking with repainted lines or an ambitious project with tree plantings and buried electrical lines.

UPDATE: Josh Lawson, a spokesman for the State Board of Elections, said there is no group by the name of the Citizens’ Coalition to Save Our Main Street registered with the state agency. Lawson said the State Board of Elections opened an inquiry into the matter after it was brought to their attention by the Guilford County Board of Elections.

Lawson said there are many factors that determine whether disclosure is required and whether the law is being broken, including whether the purpose is to elect certain candidates or to advocate for an issue, and whether aggregate spending in the effort exceeds $5,000.

He added that only the State Board of Elections has the authority and resources to investigate election matters and potentially refer a matter for criminal prosecution. He also said that it would be premature for anyone to comment on whether the law has been broken in this case or not.

CLARIFICATION: The original version of this story quoted Brenda Wallace of the Guilford County Board of Elections as saying that it is illegal for any organization to carry out electioneering activities without registering with either the local or state board of elections. While the story accurately quoted Wallace, she subsequently added that since the mailer “didn’t mention any specific candidates, then they were okay.”

 

  • Ben Stuart

    I don’t see anything that in false about the flyer. In addition you won’t snap your fingers and the street diet is done. There will be a ton of construction, traffic backups and the road will be closed in one direction or another at points during the construction. Businesses will suffer and some will close. But the groups that are pushing this don’t really care about the business owner that is making a living and will be hurt by this.

    • Ben Stuart

      Anyone could have made up the flyer. If you are desperate and have little support I would not out it past any of the groups that support dieting the road to make this up. Even the writer of the story could have made it up. You never know.

      • Observer

        Interesting that the local grass roots folks are spending their own money in the face of all of the tax funding that the council and it’s insiders have spent to promote this very bad and expensive idea.
        If true, it may be notice that the average tax payers in High Cost Point are tired of being number one in municipal caused cost of living, and ready to start to reverse the very long term trend.
        This diet plan is only one symptom of a city headed down the “wrong road”.

        • Observer

          BTW, where is the “political” aspect here?
          Shown flyer mentions no candidates pro or con: appears to be an issue based item, and last we heard folks had the right to openly oppose issues that they don’t agree with in this country.
          The “pros” have certainly spent enough public funds in favor of this whole thing, and the public’s permission was never even asked.
          Trying to drag the Board of Elections in just because an election is near is a panic move by those for this thing, obviously, and they shouldn’t allow themselves to be used in such a manner.

      • taxpayerone

        Why does the author here call the group behind the mailing “shadowy?” At least these folks are using their own money to call attention to the matter. Conversely, City Project is using my money; the taxpayer’s money, to force someone upon that most of the people in High Point do not want.

        If anyone is “shadowy,” it’s City Project and Heart High Point, who have stacked the election ballot with first time candidates whose only goal is to raid our city treasury for the benefit of a few.

    • Observer

      Go buy a Q sandwich at Kepley’s . and sign the petition.

  • LR Creed

    There is no “electioneering” going on here. The mailer does not target nor endorse any specific candidate for office.

    A little objectivity please, instead of just spoon fed opinion from CP and Heart HP. Your reporting has their thumbprint all over it.

    I’d also suggest you consult with the good people in Carolina Beach, who just reversed such a street diet, which did indeed devastate businesses along the dieted street. Practical experience in a similar town should be of great value.

    One last thing – Andres Duany may be “renowned,” but not for any practical success. He bilked us out of $450,000 for $2 worth of ideas.

  • taxpayerone

    The folks in Carolina Beach were given the same reasons why a street diet would be good for them. Turns out, the promises made failed to materialize. See for yourself…

    http://www.wwaytv3.com/2012/03/13/carolina-beach-town-manager-says-road-diet-reversal-track-for-memorial-day-weekend

  • Jordan Green

    Shadowy because the person(s) behind this mailer are unknown. If anyone involved with the mailer is reading this, I would love the opportunity to talk to you about some of the points made in the campaign material. You know how to reach me.

  • taxpayerone

    Actually, there have been initial cost estimates on implementing the street diet than run from 10 to 12 million dollars. By their own admission, City Project opines that under the best case scenario there will only be a 2.3 million dollar property tax increase over the subsequent 15 year period, thus requiring roughly 80 years before the city would break even on the infrastructure changes.

    While the current council has not voted to implement the street diet, it is fairly obvious that several of the new names on this year’s election roster are there for the purpose of stacking the deck on the upcoming council so that the street diet can be approved.

    I have personally spoken to over a dozen of the larger businesses on the section of Main Street being considered the for the diet. Every single one of those owners expects to see their business damaged if the street is dieted to two lanes.

    Neither City Project nor Heart High Point has identified the pedestrians who will supposedly come out of the shadows to walk the dieted street, nor where they will park when they get there or even whey they would come in the first place.

    • Observer

      Apparently those same businesses have no right at all to express opinions and spread the word about things that directly affect their own future, just like the rest of us average naysayers in High Cost Point. For them it’s obviously not politics but survival that is of concern, and we should support their right to have a say on the issue.
      Showing up at council meetings , if the recent past is any indication will only get them ignoredy our leaders,insulted by the movers and shakers, and probably not even be reported on. Understandable to try a more proactive approach.

  • Frank Swatson

    Because a group wants to save their businesses and our city’s Main Street they’re being threatened with a criminal offense?

    They are spending their own money to bring attention to a matter while City Project uses my tax dollars to promote their personal agenda. It anyone is guilty of anything, it’s City Project. They are a PAC by every definition of the moniker and they have one hell of a lot of nerve in trying to silence another group, a true grass roots group it appears. Do these people have no shame?

  • LR Creed

    The taxpayer funded bullies at City Project indeed have no shame. They refused to accept the fact that their street diet idea was flawed and refused to accept council’s “NO” vote. So they went back and recruited persons to run for council that would agree to push their special interest agenda. Worst of all, OUR money pays the handsome salary of their director, plus additional tax monies are used to fund a portion of their activities.

    And now they’re upset that a group has formed to represent the citizens of High Point and that group is using its own money to fight City Project madness and waste. I hope by your printing this article you will open the eyes of those in High Point who are not aware of what City Project is trying to do us. Let’s whip them at the polls and save our city from their nonsensical, far fetched, expensive, special interest “vision.”

  • It is hard to believe the ignorance of the post card and many of the responses here. They must be driving on a N Main St in an alternate universe. What we have now is pretty much an ugly wasteland. There really isn’t that much traffic. I work downtown and drive the Johnson, Wrenn/Hamilton corridor twice a day. Many days I leave work shortly after 5pm and see no moving cars for 5 or more blocks. We have tremendous capacity on side streets to handle any overflow from “dieting”. I’m not sure dieting is the answer, but we have to try some things as the “Market” cannot sustain us forever. Most of the manufacturing is gone, never to return. If you don’t want dieting, that’s fine. However, you have to come up with some ideas and solutions. You can’t just keep sticking your head in the sand.