Morning News Report; June 22, 2011

BILL ELLIS TO TAKE OVER AS INTERIM CITY MANAGER

In an interesting twist at Monday night’s City Council meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Bill Ellis was named Kinston’s interim city manager.

My take: An interesting twist — but a solid one. Bill, in my opinion, is arguably the biggest reason Kinston hasn’t totally gone to hell in the past decade. He, along with Thurman Pate and Tim Knobeloch, bring untold millions of dollars into our area with tournaments. They also provide hundreds and thousands of our youth with recreation opportunities. If those didn’t exist, Kinston would be in a hell of a lot worse shape.

David’s article didn’t mention whether Bill wanted the job long-term — but I think the city would be hard-pressed to find someone who loves Kinston more or who could do the job better.

NFL OWNERS NEAR AGREEMENT

Or so says the Chicago Sun-Times. Once they finish it, they’ll have to sell it to the players.

My take: With the NBA and NHL seasons complete and the long dog days of MLB ahead of us (although we do have the college world series with the Cavahoos and Tar Heels in it), it’s in the NFL’s best interest to get its stuff together.

SPRINGSTEEN EULOGIZES CLEMONS AT SERVICE

Bruce Springsteen helped deliver a eulogy at his E Street Bandmate Clarence Clemons’  memorial service yesterday.

My take: Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Boss fan, but I always appreciated Clemons’ talent. I know this — the E Street Band will never be the same.

The iPod shuffle

Jet — Paul McCartney & Wings

Broken Wings — Mr. Mister

Black And Yellow — Wiz Khalifa

Lonely Ol’ Night — John Mellancamp

Respectable — The Rolling Stones

P.S.: Check out FOB and Freedom ENC Desk Chief Richard Clark’s take on the increased crime in our area.

Morning News Report; June 21, 2011

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER HOMICIDE IN KINSTON

Monday was another incredibly sad day in our town as the seventh homicide of 2011 occurred. Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy and Kinston Department of Public Safety Chief Bill Johnson held a presser at City Hall to address the sudden wave of homicides, which have numbered four in the past three weeks.

The mayor and I were also interviewed by WNCT CBS-9′s Andrea Blanford in this well-produced piece on the matter:

My take: First, great job by the mayor to jump on this issue — he’s showing excellent leadership in a time when our town really needs it.

And I truly appreciate everyone who has called, emailed and Facebooked me with ideas following my Sunday column on this matter. I am culling those responses at the moment and am getting some excellent ideas. I will be hitting you guys — and Free Press readers — with those ideas soon.

Finally, thanks to Andrea for the interview and her concern about Kinston. This is something we — the residents, citizens, leaders, media and law enforcement — are going to have to solve.

KINSTON FOOTBALL COACH CATCHES WORLD RECORD CATFISH

And here’s something you don’t read about everyday: Kinston football coach Nick Anderson now has a world record to his credit — he caught the world’s biggest blue catfish over Father’s Day weekend.

My take: Kudos to Coach Anderson for that 143-pounder! And a great story by our Ryan Herman.

NEW CIGARETTE WARNING LABELS UNVEILED

The federal government has unveiled nine new cigarette warning labels designed to scare the bejesus out of potential smokers.

Here’s a couple of them:

My take: It’s this simple — if someone is going to smoke, they’re going to smoke. It doesn’t matter if you put tiny bits of cancerous lungs on the package, they’re still going to get their smoke on. Nice effort, but ain’t going to help.

The solution? Make cigarettes $20 a pack. Most smokers I know who have stopped have ceased their behavior because they can’t afford to smoke.

The iPod shuffle

Pride (In The Name Of Love) — U2

Freedom For My People — U2

Sugar, We’re Going Down — Fall Out Boy

The Man Who Sold The World — Nirvana

Praise You (Radio Edit) — Fatboy Slim

Morning News Report; June 20, 2011

SUNDAY COLUMN FOLLOW-UP

Thanks to everyone who read my Sunday column and the many responses it’s received on the Kinston.com site. I’ve also received quite a few emails and Facebook messages — but it still doesn’t solve the problem we have.

Do I know what the solution is? No — but I’m willing to work towards something that will solve the problem. We are losing our kids and we are losing our town. If we care about either, something needs to be done immediately or Kinston is going to become more of a ghost town than it is already becoming.

As I said in the column — I (and The Free Press) are willing to do whatever it takes to turn this mess around. Hit me up in comments, call me (252-559-1074) or email me (bhanks@freedomenc.com) with your ideas and thoughts.

And no … I’m tired of the “just blow up the east side of town and start over” BS I’ve seen. It’s easy to pick out the racists in our midst — they are the ones who drop that crap. These are children we are trying to rescue here.

Now, the wanna-be animal gangsters? Blow their asses up — I don’t give one shiny damn for them. And I’ll let you know when one of their cowardly bunch comes to my office, although I can go ahead and tell you — it ain’t going to happen. As one astute commenter on the story said, there’s not a “real” gang in Kinston, just a bunch of wanna-be’s who are mimicking what they see in rap music videos. They have no honor, no code and don’t give a crap for anything other than getting a few dollars.

While we’re talking about gangs — thanks to old friend and journalistic colleague Jon Jimison of the Wilson Times for sharing this story from the mother of the 31-year-old who was gunned down three weeks ago. Well-written story.

WHERE ARE THE CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES?

With less than two weeks to go before filing begins for three Kinston City Council seats, there are only two declared candidates — unaffiliated John Nix and Republican Lennie Peterson.

Although there are no declared Democrats for the seats, current councilman Joe Tyson has said if there are no Dem candidates, he’ll throw his hat back in the ring.

My take: I am really, really surprised no Democrats have stepped up, although I think they might be just waiting for July 1 to get here to make the announcement. The Lenoir County Democratic chief said she’s got three candidates committed to run, but decided not to reveal their names.

I’ll be really interested to see who they are. If Tyson runs, he’s a shoo-in — although I don’t agree with everything he stands for politically, I have found him to be an honorable man and a solid councilman.

But who are the other two Democrats? I’ve heard a few names bandied about — including former Kinston Department of Public Safety Chief Greg Smith (who has denied any interest in running) and Real-O Drugs President Rob Bizzell — but no solid commitments.

As for Nix and Peterson, I think Nix is very electable. He’s a successful businessman with a strong personality and an equally strong spouse. Nix has been out in the community quite a bit since declaring his intent to run and hasn’t been afraid to get his name out there — unlike his Democratic counterparts, who are confident that just having that (D) beside their names will get them elected (they might’ve forgotten what happened in 2009?).

Peterson? Might be a good guy, but I don’t know the first thing about him except for what our David Anderson has written about him. I haven’t seen the first sign or heard him speak in public.

Stay tuned: it should be interesting in a couple of weeks.

80-YEAR-OLD MCKEON TO REJOIN MARLINS?

With the sudden resignation of Edwin Rodriguez, the Florida Marlins are expected to name 80-year-young Jack McKeon as their interim manager.

My take: I am a huge fan of McKeon and would absolutely love to see the Fish make this move. It’s a reason why baseball is so timeless — what other sport could you see an octogenarian take over a team … and get better (as I anticipate the Marlins will do)?

Also, check out one of the best writers in Freedom Communications — Burlington Times-News Executive Editor Madison Taylor — and his take on McKeon coming back to the Marlins. Madison is one of the most talented journalists in my company and his blog is one of my must-check-out places on the Web on a daily basis. And he’s also funny as hell on Facebook, too; send him a friend request and tell him I sent you.

I don’t know what McKeon’s potential move means for Kinston native Chris Hatcher, who is at Florida’s Double-A Jacksonville Suns and is set to appear in the Southern League All-Star Game tomorrow night in Jackson, Tenn., as a pitcher who is leading the league in ERA. But how sweet would it be to see Hatch play for McKeon as a pitcher later this season?

RORY > TIGER (AND HISTORY, TOO)?

Rory McIlroy, a 22-year-old from Northern Ireland, won the U.S. Open in historic fashion, finishing 16-under-par for the tournament, breaking Tiger Woods’ record by four strokes. McIlroy finished eight strokes ahead of second-place Jason Day.

My take: And the inevitable comparisons between Rory and Tiger have become. Is Rory better than Tiger? When he’s passed Tiger in majors titles, maybe. But it’s going to be a while before THAT happens.

But is he better than Tiger right now? I think the answer to that is yes. I just hope Tiger has some more in his tank when he heals so we can see some good battles between the two.

The iPod shuffle

Call On Me — Chicago

Slow Ride — Beastie Boys

Lay Down Sally — Eric Clapton

Along Comes Mary — The Bloodhound Gang

Mad World — Michael Andrews & Gary Jules