Campaign


I play golf.

Yes, I once regularly played – pretty darn well – a game once generally synonymous with elitism, bigotry and wealth.

My father is a great golfer. Coming from a blue collar family,his opportunity to hone his skills came when he picked up a second job caddying clubs for the Akron country club folks. He worked making tires during the week, went to school at night and, between client’s rounds, took advantage of his new job’s major perk – free golf on great courses.

Caddying, for the uninitiated, involves hauling a set of heavy clubs around the course on behalf of the player. A good caddy does more than ferry woods and irons – often playing the role of coach, lookout, scout and adjunct conscience.

My Dad was a great golf mentor.

I first picked up a club when I was five years-old, though it was until I was almost seven that I began to play on an actual golf course. Well, “course” is a bit of a stretch. It was nine-holes strategically allocated on a few acres of unusable Oklahoma farm land not far from home. The fairways were permanently hardened, the one creek regularly mosquito ridden, the hazards ranging from the traditional sand traps to timber rattlers coiled tightly round a green’s flag.

Incredibly, the adults generally courteously accommodated struggling kid golfers.

For the next 4 years I played hundreds of rounds. From any location could pick the best club. Knew every hole like the back of my hand.

I also learned quite a bit about human nature.

Folks are usually surprised when I tell them I can golf. Fairly often, once the cognitive dissonance settles, I’m asked why business folks congregate on the courses. There are a lot of obvious reasons: getting out of the office for hours, bonding with your new golfing buddies, drinking (few sports, beyond bowling, allow that!).

But the best reason, at least the one I think the most canny of business folks innately understand, is that golf is a great judge of character.

Do they shave their strokes? Do they adjust their lie (the ball’s position) when no one is looking? Do they pitch their clubs into a pond if they play poorly on a few holes?

Are they humble in victory? Are they gracious in defeat? How desperate are they to win?

As a candidate for office two times running, I’ve discovered that politics is like golf.

How a candidate acquits themselves on the political playing field says quite a bit about their character.

In 2005, I learned that an incumbent can be so desperate to win they’d shave their record and adjust voter perception with misleading signs. What kind of desperation leads to that level of behavior?

I’m not desperate for the Council job.

I’m running because I have a perspective on fiscal responsibility, public accountability, diversity and open governance that is at odds with those of the incumbents. I’m prepared for Town Council but not preparing to be Mayor or Board of Commissioner or State Senator or any of the other offices that Council membership is used as a stepping stone for.

I want the job but I don’t need the job to fulfill my life or some other ambition.

I’ve had an enjoyable opportunity observing the other non-incumbent candidates – Matt Czajkowski and Penny Rich – play the Chapel Hill political course. I don’t believe they’re motivated by some hole in their life or their schedule.

Desperation is a strange creature.

Most of the incumbents I’m running against, at least at the beginning of this years race, claimed they didn’t want to exacerbate the campaign money problem, yet their actions belie their statements.

I’ve had Cam Hill suggest I’m a Republican though he knows quite well that I’m not (and have invested many years of sweat equity helping the Dems with GOTV efforts, poll sitting, literature distribution).

I’ve had Bill Strom characterizing informed dissent as “tossing bricks through windows” – a dismissive statement implying indiscriminate criticism. He well knows that the criticism that Penny and I have leveled at his actions comes from careful research, deliberative thought backed by our broad and successful experience.

Maybe the worst of the desperate criticisms comes from the incumbents shepherd – Kevin Foy. The incumbent Mayor, responding to criticism of the Council’s handling of the Rogers Road mess – trying to protect his incumbent friends – suggested Matt’s proffered recourse was illegal. Illegal? Desperate.

Incumbency is an awesome advantage. Chapel Hill, for all its growth, is a small town. What is said behind the scenes – whether its characterizing your Council colleagues less than charitably or mis-characterizing the current round of challengers – has a way of leaking out.

If you toss the golf ball out of the woods to avoid a penalty stroke, you might – on your paper scorecard – win the match. But how desperate must one be to be satisfied with such a hollow victory?

Are you honest or do you shave strokes? How do you behave when you think no one is listening? How desperate are you to win?

Politics is like golf.

Hey folks. I’ve had a number of supporters contact me about the omission of my comments on Downtown in Sunday’s Chapel Hill News.

It was completely my fault.

Even though I was prepared, I submitted my answers too late for inclusion in the print edition. I did post the answers several days ago here (Chapel Hill News questionnaire).

Unlike the incumbents at the recent WCHL forum, I’m well aware of the mistakes I’ve made in my activism and campaigning over the years. As a Council member, I won’t downplay my responsibility for errors in policy. And, if elected, you won’t have to wait four years to hear me grope around trying to recall where I went astray.

Folks, I’ll make mistakes.

Unlike some of the incumbents, though, I’ll promise to work with our talented community to correct them instead of trying to dodge culpability.

Thanks for your concern.

Here’s my answers to the Chapel Hill News candidate questionnaire. If the answers seem a bit terse, it’s because brevity was required.

POLITICAL PARTY AND EXPERIENCE:

  • 2005 Candidate for Town Council
  • Town Advisory Boards: Horace-William’s Citizen Comm., Downtown Parking Task Force, Technology Board
  • Other: Community Independent Expansion Comm. , Friends of Lincoln Arts Center

While I’ve collaborated with the Orange County Democratic Party for many years on GOTV efforts, been a poll sitter, literature distributor and have supported local Democrats, usually with sweat equity, in their runs, I am an
independent voter.

Until the party realistically deals with state mandated torture, the two on-going wars, the shredding of the Constitution and begins to address key domestic issues such as health care and the increasing split between segments of our citizenry, I will remain unaffiliated.


CIVIC ACTIVITIES AND OTHER AFFILIATIONS:

– Member of Electronic Frontier Foundation

WHY SHOULD YOU BE ELECTED?

Chapel Hill is at a crossroads.

Do we want a diverse community that honors the contributions of our eldest residents, where young couples and working folks can get their foot in the door or is Chapel Hill reserved for those buying publicly underwritten million-dollar condos?

Good intentions have to be backed by sound fiscal policy and real public accountability.

Borrowing millions from the rainy day fund, engaging in a risky Downtown project whose cost has escalated $500,000 to $8.5 million, when our debt payment is tripling is not responsible.

I will work to return Chapel Hill’s sound foundation so all of us can flourish.

1) Please describe your vision for downtown Chapel Hill and assess the council’s current approach to revitalization.

We need to build on the uniqueness of our Downtown by preserving and improving its human-scale charm.

Let’s invest in simple, cost effective, traditional amenities over risky, costly investments with poorly understood and unmeasured returns.

Let’s start with a family friendly pocket park, decent bathrooms, a water fountain and repaired sidewalks. Simple “you are here” directories to assist visitors in finding public and commercial services would make Downtown more inviting.

Let’s take up the low and no-cost Downtown parking improvements the Downtown Parking Task force suggested instead of raising parking rates as Hill and Foy argued for.

The current revitalization effort is open-ended, too expensive – rising from $500K to $8.5M in one year with no end in sight – and puts all our development “eggs” in one basket. The incumbents have resisted efforts to set measurable goals and make timely reports of successes or failures.

If possible, we need to restart the process using measurable goals, an appropriate and fiscally sound commitment of public resources and an approach that doesn’t risk all for an unknown return.

2) Please describe your vision for Carolina North, noting any disagreements with the university’s announced plans.

For many years I have called on UNC to use its incredible research savvy to build a world-class campus pioneering the best in “green” technologies.

To conform to that vision, UNC had to design a campus that was transit-oriented, partially housed its workforce and worked within some serious self-imposed constraints – few parking spaces, a defined energy budget, minimum footprint, cohesive infrastructure, monitored off-site noise, water, air, light impacts.

To achieve these goals, UNC must build within an established master plan.

Further, building upon the successes of the University’s Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC), I suggested we work to create a new, sustained framework for further dialog and negotiation. That framework should incorporate the diverse interests of our community within an open, transparent process to work through the next 15 years of issues.

Doing incremental build-outs, like the recently proposed Innovation Center, without a master plan or a framework for further discussion is untenable.

3) How would you respond to persistent complaints about panhandling?

As the only candidate who works Downtown, I’ve experienced the problems first-hand.

I’ve also seen a troubling shift in our community’s attitude – troublemakers all, seems one current perception. Worse, for a few citizens, the face of that population is always a minority one.

My observation? Aggressive panhandling has taken a backseat to the loutish, aggressive behavior. Concrete steps – focusing on those bad behaviors, policing the worst offenders – should come first. Structural changes – moving benches, increasing police presence in a few places, better lighting – should reduce this sometimes frightening Downtown backdrop.

Practical approaches like “Real Change from Spare Change”, will soon shift the economics of begging – reducing panhandlers’ revenue – while bolstering our other efforts to help the homeless.

Finally, the majority of the folks hanging out Downtown are not causing problems. Some are odd but harmless. Our Downtown policy must be focused, goals-oriented – not broadly punitive if we are to succeed.

I’m a longtime watchdog of the UNC development process.

UNC, with Carolina North, started off as they had with many of their main campus projects – discounting our community’s concerns and dispensing with residents input.

I knew there had to be a better way to work towards a satisfactory conclusion for both our University and our community. So, in 2005, I renewed my call to UNC and the Town to create a more stable framework for dealing both with our common concerns and our disagreements.

I’m not sure how much my encouragement helped but UNC, by late 2005, did create a new kind of community effort. UNC’s Leadership Advisory Committee – the LAC – was created to try to find common ground among all the participants in the Carolina North process.



I threw my support behind the process, seeing the LAC as a good first start at building a more stable framework for Town and Gown relations. Both Council members, now incumbents running for office, showed little confidence in the process from the start.

Even though I supported UNC’s new effort – praising their success where appropriate – critical when they backslid into old habits – I also kept a close eye towards the eventual product – a master plan for Carolina North.

There were some initial missteps I thought needed some quick attention. One, inattention to the public input. Two, a missing commitment to measure the environmental baseline of Carolina North.

As you can see from this Aug. 24th, 2006 video, as a citizen I appeared before UNC’s LAC calling for a real environmental assay of Carolina North and making substantive improvements in their community outreach.

Finding champion species would help identify critical areas to preserve. Doing a thorough flora and fauna survey would help us establish a baseline to determine if conditions improve or diminish 10, 20 or 50 years out. Committing to measuring off-site air, noise and light pollution impacts could help build confidence in UNC’s commitment to maintaining the neighboring environment throughout our community.

What is different from UNC’s past performance is they actually integrated that criticism into their process and improved upon the overall plan.

A big thank you to the local chapter of the League of Women Voters for an excellent forum this evening. Vicki Boyer, who occasionally posts on OrangePolitics kept the show moving along with a variety of audience questions.

Unlike the Sierra Club forum, the environmental and social justice issues surrounding our neighbors out on Rogers Road (of which I have spoken about numerous times) got a fairly decent airing. The $8 million Downtown Development boondoggle merited one round.

The forum’s format, a round of answers with some opportunity for give-and-take, suited tonight’s questions. I hope the public and the local media take some time to mull over our responses.

There were a few surprises from the non-incumbents: Kevin Wolff bringing up voter-owned elections, Penny Rich suggesting punishing Downtown landlords who wouldn’t fill their storefronts, Matt Czajkowski’s excellent point that Chapel Hill has become introverted.

Of course, the incumbents tried to take credit for all the successes over the last four years while trying to dodge any responsibility or account for any of the mistakes.

Some of the successes – hiring an economic development officer, developing a strategic economic development plan, the Town’s new fiber network – were issues I brought forward first.

As far as surprises from the incumbents, I appreciated Mayor Foy’s complementary observation that I have an eye for efficiency.

Jim Ward’s bit of criticism (Incumbency Is Not Enough or Nineteen Seconds Is Too Long) about the 19 seconds I went over my time on one response provided some humor.

And Cam Hill, one of the negotiators on Lot #5, quoting a citizen outlay about $1 million short of the actual figure (CHN). I’ve been up since 6am and can understand a fumble –
hope fatigue explains his sloppy accounting.

The League graciously allowed me to assist them in posting tonight’s video on the web.

I’m preparing for upload now and expect the full video to be available by tomorrow evening (I’ll post a new article when it’s done).

Oh, and the Sierra Club has since declined my offer to post their forum on the Internet. They plan to do it themselves. I’ll keep an eye on their progress and will announce its availability.

Recycle and reuse are two environmental principles our local community follows fairly well. In that spirit, I believe our citizens will appreciate my putting frugality over novelty.

Signs are sprouting up around Town. Several of mine, it appears, were saved by some of my 2005 supporters and trotted out a little early. Thanks folks for showing some early enthusiasm.

My specialty, since 2001, is to round-up campaign signs after the election. No reason to clutter our road-sides after the deed is done.

In 2005, as I wrote here, I managed to pickup all but two signs of my signs by 7:21 am the day after the election – the final two by 9:30am.

I said then:

Why the quick pickup?

I said early on in my campaign, win or lose, my signs would not linger throughout our Town.

If there’s one discriminator the electorate takes away from this election, I hope they recall that I said it, then I did it.

I said it and then I did it. If you look at my activism on behalf of our community, you’ll see a clear track record of “walking my own talk”.

In 2006 I managed to pick-up over 2,000 signs (and several bags of adjacent litter – unfortunately, I’ve already filled two this year!).

Every year I offer to pickup any candidate’s sign and, once again extend that offer to everyone – my colleagues in the Town Council race – Carrboro races – the school board (contact signs AT citizenwill.org ).

It’s a fun way to do my part to keep our community attractive.

A common question I get is “Who designed your sign?”

I actually did, using a variety of free software tools – including GImp (Gnu Image Program) and OpenOffice. These are the kind of tools I’ve been asking our Town to adopt for the last six years. Using OpenOffice, for instance, would save hundreds of thousands in Microsoft licensing fees, something our Council is well aware of, something our Town continues to drag its feet doing.

X-Posted from Will Raymond for Town Council 2007:

The local Orange-Chatham Sierra Club participates in the local election process two ways: endorsing candidates and sponsoring a forum.

Last Sunday, Chairman Bernadette Pelissier, Political Chair Loren Hintz and member Matthew Scheer interviewed me on behalf of the Sierra Club to determine if I qualified for an endorsement.

Questions spanned local zoning policy, a discussion of good and bad infill, personal commitment to environmental protection and Carolina North.

Folks that read CitizenWill already have a good idea about where I stand on many of these issues.

Surprisingly some issues, like local waste management, the trash transfer station and Rogers Road community’s complaints, our storm water utility policy or in-town open space preservation didn’t make the list. Of course, you can only fit so much into a 45 minute interview.

I appreciate these members taking the time to review my thoughts on Carolina North, zoning policy, pragmatic carbon reduction strategies, transit, etc. (I tried to cram way too much into my answers and digressions).

The Chapel Hill forum takes place next Tuesday, September 25th, 7-9pm at the Chapel Hill Town Hall. The event will be broadcast on our local public access channel.

In 2005 I did secure the local club’s enthusiastic endorsement. Here’s what they said two years ago:

Will Raymond has been one of the most outspoken and effective citizen activists in Chapel Hill in recent years. We look forward to him using his talents to advocate for the environment as a member of Town Council. In particular we are excited about his initiatives to promote energy efficiency in town buildings. He will also work to protect lesser known creeks in the Chapel Hill area and to minimize the number of single occupancy vehicles causing air pollution and traffic congestion at Carolina North.

We strongly encourage Sierra Club members and any residents of Chapel Hill who care about the environment to support these four candidates in the November 8th election. They are the best hope for a Town Council that will always make reducing environmental impact a top priority as Chapel Hill grows bigger.

We’ll know by mid-October if the work I’ve done since – on Carolina North, as a member of the Horace-William’s Citizen Committee sub-committee on environment, tracking and publicizing the landfill/transfer site problems on Rogers Road – will secure an endorsement in 2007.

X-Posted from my 2007 Campaign web site.

Even though the Chamber made it clear that extended replies where not welcomed in the 2007 questionnaire ( Election 2007: The Chamber’s Yes, No, Unsure – Again!), I took the opportunity to answer each of their questions beyond the constraints of “yes, no, unsure”.

The questions are broad, open to interpretation and, on occasion, leading. How would you answer the Chamber’s questions?

In case the Director omits my business background, as he did in 2005, I worked for Northern Telecom for many years, winning a couple President’s Awards and a Chairman’s Award for Innovation (the first IT person to do so). I have been a CIO/CTO of a couple successful startups, including Reged.com which sold to FiServ for millions. As an entrepreneur I was part of the crew that guided those companies to multi-million dollar revenues. I currently work for Tibco, an enterprise application integration company, specializing in XML technology and distributed Java application architectures.

Here is the questionnaire and my extended answers. You’ll note I wasn’t unsure at all:

4. Is increasing the commercial tax base in Chapel Hill an important priority for you?

YES

Even before my run for office in 2005 I was agitating for a Economic Development Officer to help develop strategic and tactical approaches to increasing our commercial tax base. Council finally hired an officer, now we need leadership with business acumen to make the best use of his services.

(more…)

As some of the more “critical” of you readers have noted elsewhere, CitizenWill is certifiable – and here’s the proof.



I zipped down yesterday to Raleigh for the 2 hour campaign treasurer training session to comply with the new NC election statutes. Though I’ve been filing reports since 2005, and a lot of the material was old hat, the session, held at the tucked away State Board of Elections (SBOE) was still interesting.

Here’s a few observations.

Of the 24 folks attending, PACs and candidates were equally represented. I sat next to Linda Stevens treasurer. Time-Warner’s PAC was there. Some very spiffy dressed folks – election newbies – helping run Rocky Mount’s mayoral and sheriff elections attended.

Only one other candidate, former or otherwise, came – a man running for Zebulon council and his wife. He said that election campaign rules were being prolifically broken in Zebulon.

As a side note, Mike Nelson told me I was foolish to be my own treasurer – which, given all the “complex” contributions he received in 2006 😉 – I can appreciate. He also said he didn’t review the reports, something I think is a bit foolish. Mike’s pushing for some reforms at the county level – non-partisan elections, unfortunately, is not one of them.

A long lead up to mentioning that the training I received will be online and available in May.

I suggest every candidate – even those like Mike with the luxury of a campaign treasurers – go through the self-paced tutorial. In the end, the buck stops with the candidate.

Some confusion was introduced by the SBOE this year as the reports are now based on an election cycle – which starts the day after the election – instead of current method, which tracks the years. The gap between Nov. 8th to Dec 31st has to be handled differently. Several PAC folks whinged on about the delta.

In the toothless election law reforms department, county party executive committees can give unlimited funds and receive unlimited funds. Chapel Hill municipal elections are non-partisan (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) so this wide open avenue to funding doesn’t pertain but what a major gap.

Also in the toothless vein, folks can give $50 per day in cash up to $4000. Why toothless? Cash is fungible and hard to track – like a check. Bundling contributions appears to be a problem.

Business contributions, which are illegal, continue to be an issue.

Lots of time spent talking about in-kind from folks who are self-employed – are they acting as an individual or a business? For those folks, if you receive a check on their business letterhead, a “business statement” must be filed by the campaign asserting that the individual commingles personal/business funds and only has a single account for everything…

Using administrative staff or even your business phone for campaign activities is verbotten.

The trainer underlined that contributions from out-of-state require all info be reported (too bad the same couldn’t be said for out-of-county).

That said, records of all contributions must contain complete info though complete reports are only necessary if the aggregate contributions are over $50.

In-kind contributions require a receipt – including candidate in-kinds. Receipts are not reported.

Another common mistake: loan proceeds plus contributions from an individual cannot exceed $4000 per individual unless one of the excepted groups – (candidate, spouse, party committee). My total campaign was a little more than $3300…

Any amount of postage can be paid in cash.

Expenditures. Vendor expenses must be itemized. I’ve seen local reports that didn’t itemize.

Designation of Committee Funds form needs to be filled out to dictate
the fund transfer if you should die/etc. Leaving funds to a 501c3 allowed.

NCS: 163-278.16B “Use of contributions for certain purposes.” [PDF] was the biggy.

(a) A candidate or candidate campaign committee may use contributions only for the following purposes:
(1) Expenditures resulting from the campaign for public office by the candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.
(2) Expenditures resulting from holding public office.
(3) Contributions to an organization described in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. § 170(c)), provided that the candidate or the candidate’s spouse, children, parents, brothers, or sisters are not employed by the organization.
(4) Contributions to a national, State, or district or county committee of a political party or a caucus of the political party.
(5) Contributions to another candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.
(6) To return all or a portion of a contribution to the contributor.
(7) Payment of any penalties against the candidate or candidate’s campaign committee for violation of this Article imposed by a board of elections or a court of competent jurisdiction.
(8) Payment to the Escheat Fund established by Chapter 116B of the General Statutes.
(b) As used in this section, the term “candidate campaign committee” means the same as in G.S. 163-278.38Z(3).
(c) Contributions made to a candidate or candidate campaign committee do not become a part of the personal estate of the individual candidate. A candidate or the candidate who directs the candidate campaign committee may file with the board a written designation of those funds that directs to which of the permitted uses in subsection (a) of this section they shall be paid in the event of the death or incapacity of the candidate. After the payment of permitted outstanding debts of the account, the candidate’s filed written designation shall control. If the candidate files no such written designation, the funds after payment of permitted outstanding debts shall be distributed in accordance with subdivision (a)(8) of this section. (2006-161, s. 1.)

The update of this statute was prompted by the Speaker Black debacle.

Interesting point raised on the fashion front. Under the new regulations a candidate can’t purchase a new suit to campaign in and pay for it with campaign funds. Since the suit has a lifetime beyond the campaign, it’s considered a personal expenditure.

Websites and email are not addressed in media regulations. Personal website can be used for campaign purposes without a disclaimer if no new costs associated otherwise it might possibly be considered an in-kind. The law is silent on “new media”.

Another major problem (that the crew over at BlueNC are well aware of), independent media buys with a “Not Authorized by…” can be bought in unlimited amounts. That is, if someone, like Anglico’s Puppetmaster, wants to purchase unlimited media for a candidate and states “This ad is not authorized by my toady to be…”, then it’s alright.

I was astonished by this loophole and had the trainer clarify my understanding. Amazing!

Printed disclosures no less than 12pts, for newspaper 28pts. I threw one of the SBOE staff a curve when I pointed out that different fonts have different sizes at 12 pts.

Interestingly , in television, if you mention opposition candidate the candidate must speak the disclaimer. Not sure about radio.

youTube is not covered.

Over and over, the SBOE emphasized yo need to keep records of every contribution no matter how small. And look for edge cases. Example – sell $20 t-shirt + $30 contribution, you trigger the $50 reporting limit.

Any committee can use the SBOE’s software for managing reports.

That’s about it. I’m now a qualified campaign treasurer for the next 4 years.

If anyone needs a hand forming their committee, I’ll be happy to help: campaign AT willraymond.org

I missed the exact vote but the Council has not only authorized the Lot #5 development but put it on a fast-track.

Talk about compounding a mistake. What’s clear, especially after this evening, is the bulk of Council does not comprehend the consequences of their decision. From my understanding, the SUP (special use permit) gives the Council little leverage to modify building requirements peripheral to the issues specified in the SUP.

To wit, any leverage to mitigate the hazardous waste liability, to make the %20 ASHRAE and AIA 2030 energy goals requirements, is gone.

Below is the liability language Laurin Easthom and Jim Ward referred to:

3.5 Town’s Obligation to Remediate.

In the event that any Hazardous Substance is found on Lot 5, the Town shall be responsible for adopting a remediation plan reasonably acceptable to Developer and the Town’s environmental engineer to remediate such Hazardous Substances in accordance with Environmental Laws. The parties agree that any remediation required will be undertaken by the Developer on behalf of the Town and the Town will reimburse the Developer for the actual cost thereof or, at Developer’s option, the Town will pay such cost on a direct basis, it being agreed that the Developer has no obligation to fund on an advanced basis the Town’s Remediation Cost. For purposes hereof the actual cost of the remediation shall be the incremental increase in construction costs directly relating to any required remediation (the “Town’s Remediation Cost.”) For example, in the event that the soil on Lot 5 is contaminated by a Hazardous Substance and must be removed, the cost of any excavation to remove the same shall not be treated as a remediation cost allocable to the Town if such excavation was otherwise required in connection with the construction of the Project.

However, if the soil excavated and removed must be treated under the remediation plan, then the cost of such treatment (but not the excavation) shall be borne by the Town. The Developer shall submit to the Town on a monthly basis the cost associated with any required remediation and the Town shall reimburse the Developer therefore, or pay such costs on a direct basis, within thirty (30) days of the receipt of an invoice.

Page 27, January Agreement

Prepare to bend over Chapel Hill.

The League of Women Voters has asked me to speak at two forums in the coming weeks as “the opponent” to this referendum (because of my Sept. 2006 Chapel Hill News column “All Quiet on the Election Front”).

Moses Carey will argue for the referendum and I’m supposed to do 5 minutes on my opposition. Of course, I don’t have either the gravitas or the months of background Moses brings to this issue so it’ll be a bit of David and Goliath.

I’m trying to bend my schedule so I can make at least the first forum. More when I know.

Until then, here’s a press release (via Mark Peters and SqueezeThePulp) on the initial education efforts:

October 11, 2006

With upcoming discussions on the District Election Referendum, a web page has been created on the Orange County website to provide basic information. You may wish to consider this as a research source.

The page contains links to the following:
– Simplified wording of the issue
– Questions and Answers
– Maps
– Links to sample ballots (for the exact wording of the referendum)
– Information on educational sessions

The page can be found under “What’s New” from the main Orange County web page or the link below.

http://www.co.orange.nc.us/OCCLERKS/DistElectWeb.htm

This link will be updated as additional information arrives.

Within the next week, brochures with much of the same information will be distributed to many public locations.

I know, short notice of tonight’s (Wed. Oct. 11th, 2006) forum for Superior Court 15B candidates. The forum is sponsored by UNC’s Young Dems.

From Matt Liles OrangePoltics notice:

The Orange County Young Democrats will hold a forum with all four candidates for Superior Court on Wednesday, Oct 11th at 7pm in Room 4085 of the UNC School of Law.

Directions to the Law School are available at www.law.unc.edu. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the law school after 5pm and additional parking is also available in the School of Government lot.

The candidates are:

I hope a few issues come up this evening:

  • Mr. Stein’s inability to serve all but a fraction of a term (covered here and here by Duncan Murrell).
  • Practical ideas for streamlining the court process (and maybe whack some of the costs out).
  • Restoring some humanity to the justice system.
  • The incredible amount of monies raised for this race (Stein is on track to beat $100K mark) and the distorting influence that has on future races.

Carl Fox, everyone tells me, has a lock. It certainly looks that way when you he spent the least, $26K, and raised the least, $28K, but was the top vote getter in the primary. That means a 3-way race among Baddour, Anderson and Stein.

Adam Stein has a quite respectable background, a solid list of endorsements, but when I talk to his supporters it always seems like they’re awarding a sinecure for a life of solid and praiseworthy work rather than enlisting someone with a strong vision for the courts future and the wherewithal to carry out the tasks before them.

This is an eight year job. Stein’s problem of a predictably foreshortened career on the bench should be addressed.

I’ve learned a bit about the work of a Superior Court district 15B judge over the last year. It is a tough job.

Our courts system is being battered, unfortunately, by rising demands. Hopefully this evening we’ll hear some innovative, practical ideas for addressing foreseeable stresses on our local court system.

Or are we waiting on the real battles to begin?  This election season I have two goals: to squash the mediocre Orange County districting referendum and to get Judge Baddour elected.

Here’s my latest Chapel Hill News column “Election referendum doesn’t fly”:

How much does it cost to unload a real turkey? This month, our county commissioners are struggling with that question as they try to sell their foul bird of representational reform to local voters.

Reform? Over the last few months, with little public involvement, they have cobbled together an ill-tasting electoral melange — two geographical districts, two distinct primaries, district and at-large seats — that owes more to satisfying short-term political goals than to promoting democratic ideals.

Not a surprising outcome given the coercive genesis of the reform project.

In a March 29 guest column in The Chapel Hill Herald, ironically headlined “Give voters the power of choice,” state Rep. Bill Faison wrote how proposed legislation would carve our county into new electoral districts that would recognize the ” the distinct diversity of our county” and “provide for district representation to reflect that diversity.”

Yet, rather than strengthening our community’s bonds, Faison’s bill promoted a brittle, mediocre, contentious reapportionment scheme codifying one of the worst of political practices, divisiveness.

By favoring a small constituency unhappy with its current rural representatives, County Commissioners Stephen Halkiotis and Barry Jacobs, Faison’s plan invited disenfranchisement of other geographically, economically and socially distinct voting blocks.

Fortunately, because of state Rep. Joe Hackney’s command of the legislative process, Faison’s attempt to weaken one person/one vote died, though the impetus to continue with some type of representational reform remained.

Yes, some inequity exists under the current system, but the measure now before voters on the November ballot is no remedy.

Possibly lulled by spring’s promise of renewal, I asked the Board of Commissioners March 21 to accelerate the roll out of super precincts, to listen to Faison’s call to broaden their membership to seven and to make two major changes in our current voting process: non-partisan elections and cumulative or proportional voting.

I frequently help Orange County Democrats with their get- out-the-vote drives, usually support their candidates and am generally sympathetic to their goals. I’m not troubled by the board’s current political composition.

I am against rigging the game so that near perpetual control rests in their party’s hands.

Have you noticed how quiet the commissioners race is? This time last year, during my non-partisan run for Town Council, I was incredibly busy getting my policy message out through forums, neighborhood meetings, personal outreach and media events.

Considering the county commissioners’ taxing authority, responsibility for schools and other duties, you would think the race for the Board of Commissioners would raise twice the hullabaloo of a simple municipal race.

Yet, nothing. Political calm. Why?

Of the currently 88,944 registered voters, 47,152 Democrats and 19,629 Republicans can nominate candidates, hold primaries, turn out a small percentage of party loyalists and, in this strongly Democratic county, fill the seats.

May’s primaries are a Democratic “fait accompli.” Some 22,163 citizens, Independents, are limited to participating from the sidelines.

That’s not healthy for our local democracy.

Non-partisan elections would solve at least three of our electoral problems: ease independent candidacies, reduce the chance a party will “game” the system early in the cycle and force candidates to reach out to a broader spectrum of voters (and maybe work a bit harder for their votes).

Unlike the current “winner-take-all” system, where numerically disadvantaged voting blocks cannot influence outcomes, proportional voting systems amplify minority input — but only if disparate groups truly collaborate.

Simply, united we stand, united we win.

The cumulative system, a system suggested by a 1993 Orange County advisory group to redress voting disparities, gives each voter as many votes as there are seats. Four seats up for grabs? Cast all four votes for one candidate or cast one vote for each.

The strength of this system lies in collaboration. For example, a natural coalition, based on a common interest in sustainable agricultural policy, could be built between feared southern Carrboro liberal elites and supposedly conservative northern Orange County farmers. Each group could cast two of its four votes for the candidate most supportive of their single-issue goal. Their remaining two votes could be cast quite differently.

United they stand, united they win.

Faison, absent adequate study or effort to legislate, said proportional representation was “not viable in any way.” I disagree.

What is not equitable, not acceptable and definitely not viable is November’s representation reform referendum.

Over the last year, I’ve written about 300 posts now split between campaign.willraymond.org and blog.willraymond.org

Covering my 2005 Town Council campaign, I started with WillRaymond.org, a hopefully memorable Internet location for the local electorate to find both my platform and analysis of relevant issues.

November 2005, I rebranded the site as Concerned Citizen, shifted the campaign rhetoric to campaign.willraymond.org and continued with a focus primarily on local issues, events, governance and politics.

Along the way I’ve added ruminations and digressions covering volcanoes, 2006’s SouthBySouthwest Interactive (SxSWi), the dissolution of our Constitution, our country’s unexamined rush to build an Orwellian surveillance society and a slew of guest editorials from the Daily Tar Heel and Chapel Hill News.

It’s been a wild year for this netizen who originally built a reputation in the blogverse as the prolific commenter WillR (to the extent of getting a Koufax Award nomination!).

A recent Pew Internet and American Life study claims %76 of ‘bloggers concentrate on documenting their personal life with only %11 on government and politics.

I have no interest in publicly documenting my personal life.

Two years ago I asked erudite ‘blogger and local Councilmember Sally Greene, then new to the blog-o-sphere, her thoughts on managing her “personal” and “public” voices.

What about schizophrenic bloggers, like Sally, who have a political blog and a personal blog?

She answered:

That’s a fascinating question, Will. Last year I ran for office; I had never run before, although I had been on the Planning Board. I knew that I needed to get my message out and I too knew that I couldn’t count on the media to do it. It may seem strange since I’m married to one of the gods of the internet, Paul Jones, but I just didn’t know anything about blogs…..While most campaign sites fold after the election, I have maintained mine and I continue to update it with content and links to town-related news stories (which I selectively pick)….Now, for a couple of months I’ve been blogging. But it is separate from my Town Council web site. Each is linked to the other, but they are separate….But on the other hand—and this is something that I haven’t consciously thought about very much, until Will’s question—I think I do want to keep some space that is just my own, my “greenespace.” I mean, there is a difference, although of course they overlap.

Like Sally, I have generally distinct, though sometimes overlapping, concerns. Based on an analysis of a years worth of site visits, so does my readership.

During my March 2006 sojourn to Austin’s SxSWi, following Sally’s lead, I purchased the Citizen Will sites (.org,.com,.net). Why Citizen Will? This punster (yep, sorry about that) couldn’t pass up a small play on “the Will of the People”, “will power” and this citizen’s will for progressive change.

It’s finally time to split my personal, professional and public “brands”:

  • WillRaymond.org will serve as a gateway to the Will-verse.
  • with CitizenWill , I will continue my activist focus. I’ll also put reprints of my “real world” columns, editorials and letters-to-the-Editor.
  • And blog.willraymond.org will serve as a convenient dumping ground for my occassional ruminations on orthogonal concerns – technology, travel tips and other personal digressions.

Not wishing to confuse my growing audience, not willing to kill my old “brand” and trying to be a good netizen by maintaining my permalinks (the long tail of a years worth of net-based local activism) – I’m mirroring all sites for the next 90 days (roughly until the Nov. elections are over).

Over that time, each site will begin to take on a more distinctive, unique character reflective of their end purposes.

Thank you for your feedback, thank you for your readership and thank you for bearing with me as I make this slow “tri-cameral” transition.

Chapel Hill’s Downtown Partnership is looking for some folks to help welcome UNC students, especially the class of 2010, back to town.

UNC Move-In Weekend will take place August 18-20th. Many downtown businesses offer discounts to students and their families during this weekend and throughout the year, and the Downtown Partnership would like to let students know of these offers. We are creating a flyer that highlights available discounts and are looking for volunteers to hand them out to students during Move-In Weekend. This is a great opportunity for us to show some Southern hospitality to new students in the area as well as an excellent time to support and showcase our downtown businesses! In addition to handing out discount flyers, volunteers will be able to help newcomers find their way around downtown and to learn the great restaurants, retail and services we offer!

We need volunteers for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Shifts are from 11am-2pm and 4pm-7pm. Please contact Laura Griest at the Downtown Partnership as soon as possible if you are available to help. Thanks for helping us highlight the many wonderful attributes of Downtown Chapel Hill to our incoming UNC students and their families.

Laura Griest
Communications Manager
Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership
308 West Rosemary Street, Suite 202
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

(919) 967-9440 office
Laura@downtownchapelhill.com

If you end up volunteering, along with passing on your tips on the best place to eat (like Bon’s for great BBQ or Bada Wings for the best char-broiled burger) , let us help get them started on, hopefully, a life long habit of local activism.

Would you please suggest to the students to change their voter registration to Orange County?

The simple process is outlined here.

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