October 2006


I’m once again on the hot seat tomorrow as pro-referendum Orange County Commissioner Moses Carey (and legions of staffers) try to counter my pro-democracy arguments against local election redistricting ;-)

Seriously, if folks walk away understanding how this redistricting actually diminishes “small d” democracy, distorts voter-power, potentially overweights rural influence and that other, better, alternatives were not adequately entertained, I’ll be satisfied.

Since the last “debate”, Commissioner Carey has reversed his previous assertion that the expansion of the board to seven members and the districting must be done together – it doesn’t. He did assert, evidence to the contrary (look southward to Chatham for instance), that districting isn’t divisive and that this referendum is the best way to promote minority representation. Again, alternatives, like cumulative voting, do a much better job promoting minority voices without sacrificing “small d” democracy.

Finally, based on this WCHL1360 [MP3] interview, Moses appears to have no idea or desire to carry forward with increasing local democratic access to our government if this referendum should fail.

Hey, at least he didn’t use the NC legislature as bogeyman argument.

ELECTION FORUM — The League of Women Voters-ODC will host an educational forum on the November referendum on district elections for Orange County commissioners at 7 p.m. in the Orange Water and Sewer Authority conference room, 400 Jones Ferry Road in Carrboro. A second forum is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom, 106 E. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.

Map to tomorrow’s meeting.

5:33pm, Tuesday, Oct. 31st, 2006, Halloween in downtown Chapel Hill means helicopters.

As I stepped out of my building at the corner of Church and Franklin streets, the first portent of tonight’s Chapel Hill-o-ween was the thrumming beat of helicopter blades. Two of the beast hovered high above downtown’s Franklin in a vain attempt to suss out the scope of tonight’s festivities. Why vain? Downtown was fairly quiet as the clouds continue to roll in and a very light drizzle falls.

Farther from town center, several apartment complexes appeared to be charging for parking. Town staff were busy setting out barrels. And the large portable traffic signs were positioned for action.

In years past the hubbub of Halloween is clearly audible from my home. With tonight’s anticipated record crowds the best way to see the action is to take the bus.

Realtime bus information available HERE.

On Tuesday, October 31, 2006, Tar Heel Express service will be provided to support the Halloween event. Buses will run from the following locations:

* Friday Center parking lot
* Jones Ferry park-n-ride lot
* Southern Village park-n-ride lot
* University Mall parking lot

Trips will begin at 9:00 PM and run until 2:30 AM. The cost is $5.00 per round trip, $3.00 one-way.
Chapel Hill Transit will also operate a modified service for the following night routes: D, J, NU, & TG

* D will end at 8:51 pm at Franklin @ Estes
* J will end at 8:56pm at Rock Creek Apts.
* NU will end at 8:56 pm at Carolina Coffee Shop
* TG will end at 9:20 pm University Mall.

For service concerning any of the information, please contact Chapel Hill Transit at (919) 968 – 2769.

Chapel Hill on Halloween is quite a sight. Please take your time, take care and, if you think of it, post some pics on Flickr using the tags “halloween”, “chapel hill”, “2006″.

I’m quite interested in the fortunes of our southern neighbors in Chatham County.

As reported in today’s N&O, local Chatham activist Mark Barroso has put together a great little youTube video on the outgoing Commissioner’s ill-deeds.

By the way, the Chatham redistricting proposal, which everyone should vote NO on, serves well as an example of the divisive nature of districting. Orange County residents should vote NO on our referendum to preclude such inanity.

Via Dan Coleman on OrangePolitics.

Spoke with the local Board of Elections candidates Alice Gordon, Jamie Daniel and Barry Jacobs reports are in.

I just spoke with candidate Mike Nelson about his report and he assured me it was “in the mail”.

[UPDATE:] Former (and future?) Carrboro Board of Alderman candidate Katrina Ryan has volunteered to scan the latest reports. I’ll post them on Commissioners.wordpress.com when they become available.

WRAL5 reports …state lottery officials are in the Christmas spirit.

Excuse me while I puke.

Merry Money, the first $10 instant-ticket game in North Carolina, began appearing in stores Tuesday. The new game is part of a trend in the lottery industry toward holiday-themed scratch-off games, which officials hope will boost sales.

The new game features a colorful Christmas tree with gift boxes below. Six tickets out of more than 2 million for sale will be worth the top prize of $200,000. Another new game in stores is called Carolina Greetings, which costs $2 to play.

Lottery director Tom Shaheen says more games at $10 or above are expected, including the possibility of a $20 instant ticket game, which Shaheen says may be attractive to people who don’t always play the lottery.

Is nothing sacred? The ever increasing number of shrill advertisements for the failing NC lottery is bad enough, but to encourage folks to play the lottery in the “spirit of Christmas” is just about as crass as you can get…

Tip to Chad Adams over at the Locker Room.

Superior Court 15B candidates Judge Baddour and Attorney Stein are first out of the blocks with their 3rd quarter campaign reports.

  • Judge Baddour’s report (as data, image to follow) is here.
  • Attorney Stein’s [amended] report (again, as data) is here.

[UPDATE: 1] Leon Bryant is Baddour’s grandfather.

[UPDATE: 2] As of 1PM, Nov.2nd neither Fox’s or Anderson’s reports are posted at the SBOE.

  • Judge Anderson’s report will appear here.
  • Judge Fox’s report here.

The promptness of Stein and Baddour (and possibly Fox and Anderson) is quite encouraging.

I hope that since the Oct. 22nd – Nov. 7th reports will be in too late to matter, the candidates will consider pre-releasing their contributions leading into Nov. 7th on the 6th.

Breakdown of 3rd quarter reports:

Judge Baddour’s

Expenditures of: $55248.77 (of $105506.85 overall).

Contributions based on the summary report for the 3rd quarter: $76144.50 which includes $25,000 loan from the candidate, a $4000 loan from his father and $1150 from Baddour relatives (might be more relatives).

Based on the detailed receipts report, $85885.19, of which $55589.50 was individual contributions, came in over the period in amounts and numbers of:

$8.19           1       loan
$10.00          1
$20.00          2
$25.00          21
$30.00          6
$35.00          1
$40.00          2
$45.00          1
$50.00          39
$60.00          3
$75.00          9
$97.50          1
$100.00         160
$150.00         8
$187.50         1       loan
$200.00         9
$250.00         21
$280.00         1
$300.00         2
$442.00         1
$450.00         1
$500.00         19
$700.00         1
$750.00         1
$800.00         1
$1000.00        8
$1100.00        1       loan
$2000.00        1
$4000.00        1       loan
$4000.00        1       contribution from Leon Bryant [UPDATE:] Baddour's grandfather.

Individual contributions came in amounts over time as:

$2015 in March
$2100 in April
$230 in May
$100 in June
$850 in July
$13255 in August
$17270 in September
$19769.50 in October

Contributions to-date: $139626.76 which includes a total of $30599.86 in loans.

Attorney Stein's

Expenditures of $36864.34 (of $93877.54).

Contributions based on the summary report for the 3rd quarter:  $42652.00, no loan proceeds.

Based on the detailed receipts report $51742 came in over the period of which $5000 was a loan from the candidate, $46793 were individual contributions.  The amount and number of contributions break down as:
$10.00          3
$15.00          1
$20.00          5
$25.00          38
$35.00          3
$40.00          1
$50.00          56
$60.00          1
$75.00          7
$90.00          1
$99.00          1
$100.00         130
$125.00         10
$150.00         10
$200.00         11
$250.00         41
$300.00         3
$500.00         14
$828.00         1
$1000.00        3
$2000.00        1   from David Byrd
$5000.00        1   loan

Contributions came in over time as:

$500 in February
$2500 in March
$5840 in April ($5000 loan)
$100 in May
$150 in June
$9019 in July
$11253 in August
$15015 in September
$7365 in October

Contributions to-date: $125084.00 which includes a total of $5000 in loans.

What does this all mean? Further analysis to follow…

…whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me…

While I was in Boston last week, the DPC’s (Downtown Partnership) Kiosk Giving Task Force morphed into the Downtown Outreach Work Group.

As the next step, the Downtown Outreach Work Group recommends a public-private partnership effort amongst the Town of Chapel Hill, the University of North Carolina, the Downtown Partnership, the human service agencies, the downtown property and business owners, religious organizations, the media and others, to jointly develop “the message” to request that citizens not give money to panhandlers in downtown Chapel Hill but to encourage them to give to the agencies that address the human service needs of downtown.

Once the message is clearly articulated, then the means and materials needed to address the target audiences will be identified. This is similar to efforts across the country typically called Real Change Not Spare Change campaigns. Raleigh is our closest neighbor that has adopted this program.  In Denver, they have adopted the Give A Better Way campaign, www.giveabetterway.com; and there are a number of other variations on this type of educational initiative.

Though encouraging on the face of it, I’m a bit troubled that this Town-sponsored group has taken on the “official” mantle of managing downtown’s homeless population issue with very little discussion.

The DPC’s charter is business-oriented, their issues business-directed. Panhandling is antithetical to their core directives. I’m concerned that this in-built bias won’t result in further draconian efforts to drive “undesirables” from downtown.

Today’s thoughtful analysis by Council member Sally Greene highlights the potential pitfalls in her excellent post Panhandling and Community Values.

Not all approaches are appropriate as Malcolm Gladwell’s recent New Yorker article “MILLION-DOLLAR MURRAY:Why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than to manage.” points out.

Sure, I doubt our community would stand for criminalizing homeless support programs ala Las Vegas’ criminalizing feeding the hungry but it might blindly accept the recommendations of an important sounding group, like the Downtown Partnership, whose make-up and charter are not representative of the town as a whole.

Local ‘blogger Mark Kleinschmidt (and fellow 2005 Council candidate) alerts Chapel Hillian’s to an upgrade (?) in our image.

Quick update for the special adventurers I left behind. Botolph’s Stone’s weather was beautiful this evening – 51 and clear. Had a nice walk, mostly after dark as we worked through ’til almost 6pm. Here’s some slideshow highlights:




Mr. E, be sure to click here [Google Earth] to see where I walked.


October is Energy Month

October is Energy Month


Five After Six

Five After Six

HiFi World

HiFi World



No Right Turn

No Right Turn

Ghostwalk

Ghostwalk

WCHL1360 caught a small taste [MP3] of Wednesday’s “debate”.

I’ve since heard the radio ad promoting,to some small extent (and, hopefully, unintentionally), the referendum. Besides surmounting all the advertising – radio, print – the layout of the ballot will probably prove to be the hardest obstacle to overcome. As someone (thanks) pointed out to me, most folks will read the first sentence describing the expansion of the board to seven members – something I agree with – and skip all the rest of the legalese. My concern? That on this strategic layout alone will the referendum be decided.

As I’ve mentioned a few times before, I’m hooked on the ‘blog CreditSlips, “A blog on all things about credit and bankruptcy. We are seven academics who will use this space to do what we like to do when we get together–discussing and debating what does happen and what should happen when consumers and businesses borrow money.”

Local UNC law professor, Japanese internment expert and battler of the Malkinator, Eric Muller (isThatLegal.org), turned me on to these wild-n-wacky debt analysts last year.

One of their more interesting and disturbing threads involves Judge Leif Clark, a man of conscience, driven to criticize the precipitous dissipation of our civil liberties. Turns out that the Judge exposed himself to censure for practicing his First Amendment right to declaim the Bush madministration’s actions.

Over the past two weeks, I have been following a story about Leif Clark, a bankruptcy judge in San Antonio (see here and here). As regular Credit Slips readers will remember, Judge Clark wrote a letter to National Public Radio responding to an interview. In the letter, Judge Clark made remarks highly critical of the Bush Administration’s attitude toward civil liberties. At the time, I thought we had the proverbial tempest in a teapot about whether Judge Clark’s comments violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics which forbid judges from engaging in “political activity.” The San Antonio News-Express has reported that Judge Clark’s comments are now “under review by the chief judge of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the tribunal that disciplines federal judicial misconduct in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.”

Further commentary over on CreditSlips.

More on this issue later.

Here’s the text of my Oct. 19th WCHL1360 commentary:

This week, I am asking candidates for this years Superior Court and Board of Commissioner races to voluntarily report their campaign finances by Wednesday, October 24th.

The last we heard about campaign fund-raising was June 30th.

At that time we discovered that one of our commissioner candidates was well on track to nearly double or more the previous record for election contributions. And much of that money came from out of the county.

Four months ago we also discovered that another local campaign record was in jeopardy as a couple of our Superior Court candidates raced towards the $100,000 mark.

Judge’s Anderson and Fox had raised and spent roughly the same amount of money. $25K for Anderson, $28K for Fox.

Judge Baddour, campaigning hard to retain his appointment to the bench, had raised $56K – $150 from myself.

But beyond all the candidates, celebrated Attorney Adam Stein, with a steady flow of $100 or more contributions, had raised $82K.

What has happened since? October 24th we can find out.

3 days after the end of the 3rd quarter reporting period.
6 days prior to the date the reports must be post-marked.
14 days before the election.

A voluntary disclosure of campaign finance activities will enhance our publics confidence in our election process

A voluntary disclosure also measures our candidates willingness to promote greater transparency in our justice and political systems.

Oct. 24th, our local voters deserve a timely report of our candidates campaign finances.

And here’s my “breathy” delivery [MP3]..

It sounds like I delivered my statement after chugging up a couple flights of stairs, which in a sense, I did (ran in during my lunch break from work – and tried to squeeze too much content into too little time).

Thanks Ron Stutts for the opportunity to raise a general election issue.

Homestead Road is becoming quite the corridor. Stretching roughly east-west along the Chapel Hill/Carrboro urban boundary, the road, already servicing several developments and schools, will become a vital connector to UNC’s Carolina North (whether we want it to or not).

Tonight the Town Council and Orange County Commissioners will hold a rare joint zoning hearing to review a proposed development, Homestead Twins, on the corner of Seawell School Rd. and Homestead. While the development, with its 72 “twin” townhouses – some sized over 2000 sq./ft. – will obviously add to the traffic load on Homestead, the applicant has made a fairly decent case for pedestrian transit. The Town’s Comprehensive Plan emphasizes walkability, and with nearby schools, Homestead Park and the new Senior center, residents should have plenty to do within a quick jaunt.

Further pluses are the developers commitment to set aside %20 of the units for affordable housing and preservation of over %60 of the 21.5 acres as open space.

Further information for tonights 7:30pm hearing is here, background on the application is here [PDF].

I’m on the hot seat tomorrow as pro-referendum Orange County Commissioner Moses Carey (and legions of staffers) try to counter my pro-democracy arguments against local election redistricting ;-)

Seriously, if folks walk away understanding how this redistricting actually diminishes “small d” democracy, distorts voter-power, potentially overweights rural influence and that other, better, alternatives were not adequately entertained, I’ll be satisfied.

ELECTION FORUM — The League of Women Voters-ODC will host an educational forum on the November referendum on district elections for Orange County commissioners at 7 p.m. in the Orange Water and Sewer Authority conference room, 400 Jones Ferry Road in Carrboro. A second forum is scheduled for Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom, 106 E. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.

I’ll be the long-haired, bleary-eyed, referendum rebuker.

BTW, I might not be able to make the Nov. 1st meeting. Anyone else interested in publicly countering the referendum?

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