May 2006


The title of my post will be no surprise to those of you have read any of my many comments on OrangePolitics about the NC lottery.

The lottery was birthed by trickery, (more…)

We’re probably going to replace one of our vehicles in the near future. Hybrid or bio-diesel?

My brother has a Honda he gets great mileage out of… Toyota has the new Camry (a car I can comfortably sit in) and the established Prius. Consumer Reports, among others, have published reports showing that the advertised MPGs don’t always add up to a substantial savings.

Xan, over at FORTH GO, reports on his Prius experience, including mileage, covering the first 8 months of Prius ownership.

Thanks for the field report Xan.

[ UPDATE: ]

One of the best forums I’ve attended in the last 6 years!

Kudos to Laurin for organizing the program, Casey, Lynda, Ray, Chad and Shannon! They all did fantastic presentations covering a broad range of muni-networking issues – NPO-model, governmental operational efficiencies, collaboration, school and community usage, etc.
[ Original Post: ]

The municipal networking forum has kicked off.

Casey Lide, of Baller Herbst , has started out with a broad overview of business models, technologies and reasons for municipal networking.

Casey brings up the “holy grail” of FTTH (fibre-to-the-home). It’s capital intensive, but as he says, “Fibre is future proof.”

Amen!

Plenty of room and plenty of time if you want to come down….

Kudos to the folks running our NC Utilities Commission!

When the USA Today story fingering Bellsouth’s complicity in the NSA scandal broke I called our North Carolina Utilities Commission to lodge a complaint. The receptionist told me a “consumer specialist” would call within the hour to get details about my case. “Sure,” I said, pretty much expecting I’d have to call back over several days to reach the right person – that’s what we’ve grown to expect from all levels of government, right?

Within the hour, I got that call. The gentleman was direct, knowledgeable and filed the complaint without hesitation. He also said he’d follow up with any developments.

Today he did.

The case has been forwarded to the FCC, which is acting as a clearinghouse for a number of states. In addition, my case will continue at the State level until resolved by the FCC investigation.

This level of competence and service by the Utility Commission folks gives me confidence that they’ll be able to handle any fastballs the communications monopolists throw Chapel Hill’s way as the community forges ahead on the municipal network project.

Town IT lead Bob Avery and I constituted the sole attendance at tonight’s Technology Board swan song.

During the recently well-attended dissolution of the Horace-William’s Committee, the committee members wrangled out some excellent final advisory language for Council.

Tonight, the tech board was supposed to discuss and pass on 8 final recommendations/observations to Council. Most folks had already expressed their concerns about the “lame duckness” of our final efforts, but I thought we had a consensus on, as one member put it, “a way to wrap up things nice and neat.”

Maybe, as some suggested, it wasn’t worth the effort to advise, one last time, a Council that has generally failed to follow through on our recommendations they approved.

Maybe our Mayor’s recent dismissal of the importance of technology in the new town manager selection process doused the membership’s spirits.

Maybe it was just “board fatigue”.

While I don’t have a quorum to endorse those final thoughts, I’ll present them here for completeness when I get a copy.

X-Posted from OrangePolitics:

Town Forum on Municipal Networking

On Thursday May 18 the Chapel Hill Town Council will host a public forum on Municipal Wireless Networking. The event will be from 7 to 9PM and be held at Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. All are invited to attend.

The event will be moderated by Shannon Schelin, Ph.D. of the Institute of Government at UNC. She will also make a presentation. Other speakers include Casey Lide of Baller Herbst in Washington, DC; Lynda Goff, Executive Director of WinstonNet in Winston-Salem, NC; Ray Reitz, Chief Technology Officer of Chapel Hill Carrboro School System; and Chad Johnston, Executive Director of The People’s Channel. For more information about the speakers please see the Town event webpage.

There will be time at the end of the event for questions and answers.

If you can’t make it in person you can watch the event on Public Access channel 18.

Bellsouth denies USA Today charge, claims no sharing of records.

According to CNN and other news sources, Bellsouth denies USA Today’s claim that it participated in the massive NSA privacy breach.

In several reports, Bellsouth spokesman Jeff Battcher claims

Battcher said BellSouth’s customer service department had received only 26 complaints about reports that private phone records may have been relayed to the government.

26 sounds quite low, especially since I know 5 folk, including myself, that called when the story broke.

[ UPDATE: ] Bellsouth denies USA Today charge, claims no sharing of records.

(more…)

[ UPDATE: ] Bellsouth denies USA Today charge, claims no sharing of records.

According to CNN and other news sources, Bellsouth denies USA Today’s claim that it participated in the massive NSA privacy breach.

In several reports, Bellsouth spokesman Jeff Battcher claims

Battcher said BellSouth’s customer service department had received only 26 complaints about reports that private phone records may have been relayed to the government.

26 sounds quite low, especially since I know 5 folk, including myself, that called when the story broke.

Verizon and ATT are still on the hook.
(more…)

If you’re concerned about the widespread domestic surveillance telephone companies, like Bellsouth, have performed on innocent Americans for the last five years, please contact the following folk:

These companies violated not only their published privacy policies and federal statutes but are complicit in one the largest violations of our Constitutional rights in our history.

[ UPDATE #2: ] Bellsouth denies USA Today charge, claims no sharing of records.

According to CNN and other news sources, Bellsouth denies USA Today’s claim that it participated in the massive NSA privacy breach.

In several reports, Bellsouth spokesman Jeff Battcher claims

Battcher said BellSouth’s customer service department had received only 26 complaints about reports that private phone records may have been relayed to the government.

26 sounds quite low, especially since I know 5 folk, including myself, that called when the story broke.

Verizon and ATT are still on the hook.[ UPDATE: ]

Call 404-249-2000, Bellsouth’s CEO Duane Ackerman’s office. Report Bellsouth’s violations of both their own corporate integrity, privacy and ethics policies AND their FCC regulatory and legal requirement to safeguard customer records.

From CNN and the AP via AudioActivism and Daily Wireless.

X-posted from Brian Russel’s AudioActivism

Domestic spying inquiry killed

AP is reporting that the US Department of Justice has stopped its investigation of the warrantless phone spying done by the NSA at the approval of George Bush.

“We have been unable to make any meaningful progress in our investigation because OPR [Office of Professional Responsibility] has been denied security clearances for access to information about the NSA program,” OPR counsel H. Marshall Jarrett wrote to Hinchey. Hinchey’s office shared the letter with The Associated Press.

We can’t depend on our Federal government’s law enforcers to corral Constitutional abuses.

(more…)

I like to keep it local on Concerned Citizen, but this report does have a local angle.

(more…)

I wanted to add the following to the HWCC’s final memorandum to Council.

We remind the Council of the scope of work proposed by the HWCC in January and suggest that the Council recognize the necessary lead time required to reconstitute a citizen’s group to explore the issues in that proposal.

The decision-making apparatus of the Town is already becoming more insular. If Council has to recreate, rapidly, a citizen’s committee to evaluate Carolina North, it seems to me they’ll choose from a small pool of the “usual suspects”.

[ UPDATE: ] Via WRAL-TV, the NC Supreme Court has issued a stay pending DNA tests in the case.

May 12th, the State of North Carolina is poised to practice justice Law & Order style.

Law & Order, a popular television franchise using stories “ripped from today’s headlines”, combines 22 minutes of heavy-handed police work (suspects slammed against walls) with 22 minutes of legal maneuvering (often crossing Constitutional boundaries) to deliver, usually in some surprising twist, a satisfying dramatic conclusion.

As the screen fades to black, the audience is assured that justice, as practiced by the over zealous police and prosecution, has been fairly meted out.

Surpassing Law & Order in popularity, CSI, a franchise about criminal scene investigators, follows chief investigator Gil Grissom and his crack forensic team as they use real, but not readily available, technology and techniques to ferret out the truth behind a crime. Quite often, what seems to be the truth is revealed to be wrong. The show’s writers often proffer an initial red-herring suspect – vociferously declaring his or her innocence – whose claims are vindicated in an equally satisfying dramatic conclusion.

Justice, often meted out on the end of a DNA probe, is not perverted by zealous prosecutorial misconduct.

Jerry Conner, a death row inmate,is scheduled to die May 12th in spite of the real possibility of his innocence.

Exculpatory DNA evidence – evidence not conclusive using the original 1991 DNA technology – is available to be tested. It will definitively rule, one way or another, on Conner’s claims.

Our State Bureau of Investigation’s lab, like the lab in CSI, has the new DNA technology. Yet the State, on our behalf, refuses to test the evidence.

I don’t know if Conner is guilty or not.

  • He originally confessed, but 1 out of 4 persons exonerated by DNA evidence have also confessed.
  • He’s on death row, but in the last 23 years 25 states have released 123 death row inmates on grounds of innocence.
  • He had a juror that lied about her knowledge of the case, but two of three U.S 4th Circuit Court of Appeals judges ruled against Conner, to the strong dissension of the third, Judge Michael Luttig, who wrote that the behavior of the juror clearly “constitute[d] a quintessential instance of actual juror bias.”

I know this.

  • I know it took less than a week to test 46 Duke lacrosse players DNA in a recent Durham rape case.
  • I know the Federal government has pledged $1 billion to assist DNA evaluations, leading to post-conviction exonerations like that of Kirk Bloodsworth.
  • I know we only have to look slightly westward, to Winston-Salem’s Darryl Hunt case, to see how an individual, 18 years proclaiming his innocence, was wrongly convicted but eventually exonerated because of DNA evidence.

There’s a reason CSI is so popular. Folks, like the good citizens of North Carolina, want to bring every technique and technology to bear in order to prove innocence.

Let’s call on our State to stand firm for real justice and demand a DNA test before killing a potentially innocent man.

Contact Governor Easley
Contact Attorney General Roy Cooper
Contact Your North Carolina Legislators

More on what you can do to help at the Jerry Conner ‘blog.

From today’s eventually-to-be-paywalled HeraldSun

The town of Chapel Hill figures it spent about $134,700 on hosting this year’s Apple Chill street fair and handling events both during and after the official hours of the festival.

That total includes about $85,700 in costs for police, although Town Manager Cal Horton said the figure for police costs still could change.

That’s a chunk of change.

Surely we can “recover” some the arts events that have slipped Carrboro-way with an investment of just $65K?

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