Letter-to-the-Editor: Reviewing the RFP Editor’s Uncanny 2016 Predictions for Salisbury, N.C.

Posted on January 1, 2017

Rabbi Will McCubbins, China Grove, N.C.

♦ I will go on record that the Editor of the Rowan Free Press Steve Mensing is remarkable individual who no doubt knows more about Rowan County and Salisbury than any other person on Earth.  I’m not kidding.  People who know him tell me his IQ is somewhere in the 190 range, but his feet are planted on the ground. He doesn’t lord his natural born talents over anyone.  He is honest and empathetic to a fault, never betraying confidences.  Almost every day he speaks on his budget “flip” phone to people in Rowan County and Salisbury gathering information from city employees, Salisbury Police past and present, Sheriff’s deputies, county employees, city council people past and present, and citizens in the community.  If someone tells him something off the record, it stays off the record.  Salisbury is extremely lucky to have the “Editor” on their case. Salisbury can no longer hide its awful D rated schools schools, high-ranking violent crime, its lack of a police force, the utter financial debacle that Fibrant is, the vacant Downtown Store Fronts and lack of traffic, few if any decent paying jobs, and the super bad economic development climate that forced the EDC’s Robert Van Geons to Fayetteville. FAYETTEVILLE!

The RFP “Editor” lives simply and humbly.  I visited Steve many times when he lived on West Bank Street in Salisbury’s Historic District.  His office in the back was a PC on a desk piled with papers and notes, overflowing bookcases and books stacked on the floor.  His interests in the world around him are broad and eclectic.  His life experiences are even broader.  He took on the crooked city government of Salisbury and is mopping the floor with them.  His $100 a year Rowan Free Press is read by many thousands in Rowan County and Salisbury.  He outed the Fibrant debacle back in 2011 and told the world it was losing a ton of money, wasn’t turning the corner, and was melting down city services and the police force. Now everyone knows Steve Mensing was dead on.  Now Salisbury is a violent crime ridden wreck with zero foreseeable future. Residents, when they can dump their houses at a loss or just abandon ship, are swarming out of Dodge City.

Ok, let’s cut to the chase.  Let’s check out the RFP Editor’s Uncanny 2016 Predictions for Salisbury, N.C.:


The RFP Editor’s Uncanny 2015 Predictions for Salisbury, N.C.:


“The Editor’s Predictions for Salisbury, N.C. in 2016” published back on January 7th 2016:

“Much like our predictions for 2015, I see little headway being made in our statistical projections for Salisbury. I suspect some additional “lost ground” may be in order with Salisbury’s “big 3” statistics: Poor FBI violent crime and murder stats, abysmal public school letter grades from the State Department of Education (in 2015 the public schools in Salisbury got nothing higher than Ds and Fs) and a 27.2% poverty rate. The public education statistics are likely to remain static because working class folks of all races are moving out of Salisbury with their children and Salisbury’s deadening U.S. Census Bureau poverty statistics will likely hover around its current 27% or so.  A recession or a downturn in the areas economy could add to the city’s poverty woes.

The “big 3” statistics make it extremely difficult to do economic development and to keep the working class and upper income people here or attract new persons the city. Those three statistics are devastating and they impact Rowan County’s statistics, dragging it down as well. Salisbury, N.C. Statistics:


In the late fall of 2016 the latest FBI crime statistics for 2015 will appear. Murders, rapes, assaults, shootings, and armed robbery stats will likely surpass 2014. Break-ins and car thefts will no doubt show a spike. The city will have to respond by paying police a competitive wage, recruiting more experienced police and investigators, and fielding more patrolmen. This is a must do. In the city’s current financial condition it will be forced to substantially raise taxes and fees to meet its public safety obligation or else face more residents packing up and leaving for safer communities elsewhere.

Predictions for the City of Salisbury 2016:

• The city of Salisbury government will run a series of community meetings throughout Salisbury where they will allegedly “listen” to their residents. The city government has their own agenda and any “listening” they do is generally feigned. Their “listening” is to pacify folks’ anger and frustration. Their “listening” seldom passes the action test. They will give you the Salisbury runaround and do nothing actively to respond to your concerns and requests unless it fits their agenda. They will say: “We’re taking your requests seriously” or “You made a good point –we will give it full consideration and get back to you.” “Excellent ideas–we’re studying this very carefully.” But taking action on it? Nada. They may even get you to form small groups at different tables and use divide and conquer techniques with city staffers altering your ideas on paper or leaving them out entirely. Or they may pack the meeting with their friends. But actual listening? Not really.

• Better homes in Salisbury will continue to tumble in price as more people move away for safer less impoverished places and decent public education. The working class is melting away. Good paying jobs are scarce in the Bury. If a recession or downturn occurs, more people will abandon Salisbury for higher ground. By the end of 2016 Salisbury’s better homes will likely be unloaded at prices 40% to 60% what they sold for back in 2007. Be prepared to take the loss and never look back.

• There are plans to construct 14 luxury apartments on Brick Street.  Can they rent or sell them?  Doubtful.  Keep in mind Downtown already has a huge surplus of vacant apartments and office spaces gone empty for quite sometime.  Downtown Salisbury is not immune to violent crime.  People have been mugged, stabbed, and robbed at gunpoint.  Someone was shot in the neck around November in the alley between “Go Burrito” and the First United Methodist parking lot. Luckily the victim didn’t bleed out.

• The Empire Hotel, last opened as a flophouse in 1963, now a decrepit eye-sore waits patiently for demolition in the South Main Badlands and for the alleged hordes of interested developers who never materialize. The great expense of gutting the moldy interior and abating the Empire are prohibitive. Perhaps in 2016 they will give up on this albatross and bring in a fleet of bulldozers.

• Downtown will continue to be a hodgepodge of vacant store fronts, musical chair businesses (2 close and one takes their place), little parking, an excessive municipal Service District tax, and few people venturing into the ghostly confines. Vibrant? The motion detectors aren’t picking up any lifeforms. No attractions and a lack of safety means no people. And sadly when the new Wallace Forum opens up with its observatory dome, there will be no one shopping and dining downtown to the tune of $5,000 per person per annum. They’ll be out in the field or lunch bagging it. A few might drift over to Richard’s BBQ.

The closing of Uncle Buck’s and Romo’s Pizzeria were chilling reminders about Downtown’s restaurant survival rate.

• Fibrant is an unqualified debacle as the city audit again shows it suffers more losses.  No need to beat this dead horse.  TWC stepped up their residential speeds to 300 Mbps at prices less expensive than Fibrant and better marketed.  Want a gig?  AT&T Gigapower offers their gig at $70 a month while Fibrant offers theirs at $105.  A no brainer choice.  Fibrant TV is blown away by AT&T U-verse, DirecTV, TWC, and DISH.  VOIP phone?  Fibrant is non competitive in price with most VOIP phone providers and the reality that many people just use their smartphones.  Fibrant has virtually no marketing while the incumbents flood every possible medium.  Fibrant is eating the City of Salisbury alive and has greatly harmed the city’s ability to provide basic services and police.  Fibrant has borrowed $7.6 million dollars from the water and sewer funds and not paid it back.  This puts them in a tenuous position with the bond raters.

• The traffic calming and bike lane project on East Innes appears to have ground to a halt.  Two barriers were constructed to turning into Christos’ Restaurant and the Waffle House (As if the Waffle House requires a barrier since someone “possibly” shot out a window).  Those barriers surely hurt those two businesses.

• Salisbury will continue to suffer under a major epidemic of meth, heroin, crack, hillbilly heroin, and alcohol.  This epidemic fuels much of the city’s crime.

• The city will continue to experience massive retail leakage to the internet and to the brick and mortar chain stores in Afton Ridge, Concord Mills, Huntersville, Winston-Salem, and Mooresville.”

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