November 2006

Went to an interesting Downtown Partnership sponsored Safety Forum this morning, the notes of which I’ll post later…

While there I had the pleasure of meeting the Herald-Sun’s Robert Ashley.

Poor guy. He probably wouldn’t have sat next to me if he’d known I was going to give him an earful about the Herald-Sun’s on-line linking policy.

As I recently wrote, cutting the community off from their historical narrative is not only selfish, it is bad business. Robert disputed my “bad business” assertion, telling me the HS makes plenty from their archival content.

Ouch! I’ll bet whatever paltry sum they’re making from paywalling, the ill will they’re generating amongst both their on-line readership and those, like myself, that are FREELY steering customers (“eyeballs”) their way far outweighs the traditional business value of hiding content from the greater ‘net-world.

Already folks who want to reference HS articles are either, one, skirting fair-use provisions excerpting enough of the content to bolster their points or two, turning to other media outlets with far friendlier community-service oriented policies.

Doc Searls, always an entertaining and insightful commentator on new media, wrote recently about the cracks forming in the paywall and why, sans community service, paywalling is dumb business:

That’s why I’ve tried to limit the argument to the real trade-offs involved. This has nothing to do with “citizenship.” It has everything to do with the facts of publishing life, where the Web is a larger and larger context. Newspapers and magazines make some money by selling old stories through Lexis-Nexis and Dialog. But they make most of their money from advertising and subscriptions, which might both increase if archives are exposed to the Web.

Robert, if you’re reading this, I want to emphasize that I’m your ally.

I want to strengthen all our local journalistic enterprises – to help your institution make the leap from a manufacturer of paper and ink products to a valued community service provider. But you need to make the move soon…new media is moving at Internet speeds and it won’t be long before your backwards policy is irrelevant.

At the end of it all, if the Herald-Suns and News Observers of the world want to cut off their “long tail”, so be it…

My Nov. 4th Chapel Hill News column was kind of choppy this week. I guess one of the “nots” I can add to the list is a paragon of brevity. Some folks use the term “citizen journalist” to describe what I’m doing on CitizenWill – a description that hasn’t quite jelled into a term of art.

Whatever I’m doing, both the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation are working hard to protect my right to do it, please consider
Support Bloggers' Rights!supporting Bloggers’ rights.


I am not a journalist.

Sure, I’ve written guest columns for the Herald Sun, the Daily Tar Heel, and now, full circle, for the Chapel Hill News. But that does not make me a journalist.

Self-published, some of my online work falls under the rubric of “citizen journalist.” Yet that loosely applied classification carries little gravitas in the world of politics and governance.

My ruminations require primary research, occasional interviews, analysis – behaviors associated with trained journalists. But my posts, though sometimes grist for the news, lack the institutional news outlet imprimatur.

And, always, I bring my acknowledged point of view. Not crafted by publishers, editors, advertisers, media marketers — my interests and passion dictate my content.

At Greensboro’s recent unconference ConvergeSouth, professional journalists, online activists, performers and readers, discussed the current consequences of new media enterprises — the corrosive, even subversive, effects of the personal printing press on the venerable Fourth Estate – and speculated on what is yet to come.

Made a quick 18 mile cycle through the major municipal precincts, along major roads, ramps and intersections last night to pick up some signs for a few candidates plus my Honest Abe NO on the referendum.

Baddour’s supporters, considering the incredible number of his signs, seemed to have done an excellent first pass. (more…)

Bit of a shocker this evening in Carrboro

Tonight I made the rounds of the major municipal precincts to pick up my Honest Abe “A house divided…” referendum signs. Beyond recovering those and some for various candidates, I also made numerous stops along the way to retrieve others. By the time I hit Carrboro’s Town Hall, I’d already visited 12 polling stations – covered 16 miles – almost filled the bed of my truck.

Some signs were drooping from the rain, some had come loose from their staples, some were leaning precariously, some had blown off their stakes but NOT ONE – Republican or Democrat, popular or not – had been maliciously mangled.

And then came Carrboro’s Town Hall. Carrboro, “always one degree cooler” as WCHL’s Ron Stutts says. Carrboro, the Paris of the Piedmont. Carrboro, advertised as a bastion of liberal idealism and progressive profoundity. Carrboro, the only precinct to get two of my homemade signs – placed prominently front-and-center.

Carrboro, where the only signs mangled, torn and completely destroyed were mine.

It was quite a rainy day. Some of the races were close – some were not. Judge Baddour’s Superior Court 15B run is still undecided though Allen is 70 votes ahead as of Nov. 8th.

Here’s a Flickr slideshow of some of the folks that reported, supported, volunteered and ran yesterday.


District referendum won 18703 (68.52%) to 8593 (31.48%). The negative consequences of this decision will not be fully apparent until 2010 and beyond.

With reform in the air, with winning candidates Nelson and Gordon both saying there’s more to be done, with every media endorsement suggesting further action, the next phase of broadening electoral participation should be easy to initiate.

When the new Orange County BOC first meets, I’ll be there asking for:

  • Non-partisan elections
  • Cumulative voting
  • Super-precincts, especially for campus, NOW
  • Voter-owned elections (to mute the money problem)
  • Caps on contributions
  • Adoption of standards and procedures to incorporate the widest citizen counsel on district realignments

With a good year to hash out the details, passage of these key reforms should take some of the sting out of the divisive districting scheme.

Covered Hogan Farms from 6:45am to 9:45am. BOCC candidate Jamie Daniels was handing out material until roughly 9am. Stein supporters covered the precinct from 7ish on. The Democrats staffed a table handing out sample ballots the whole time I was there…

As of 9:35am, 300 confirmed voters with another 10-15 milling about waiting to go. When I called in to report the numbers to O.C. Democratic headquarters, was told the 10am figure was 369.

Hogan Farms has a nice setup – including hot coffee. A welcome bit of hospitality considering the temperature and rain began falling in earnest as I left. Judge Baddour was getting some good support. So to folks voting NO on the districting referendum. A welcome surprise.

2AM Chapel Hill Library – Prepping Signs

[UPDATE: ] Moved the rest of the photos here.

The rain has let up a bit. I’m hoping most of it has swept through by 4:30pm when Elijah and I start working Chapel Hill library (Estes Hills – my home precinct).

I will be poll sitting at Hogan Farms from 6:30am until 9am, the Library from 4:30pm until polls close at 7:30pm. If I can still stand I plan to whip on by a few local election soirees. If you have any suggestions where a tired volunteer should end the day, please add a comment.

For my RSS reading readers ;-)!

Find your precinct HERE .

Please vote Tuesday, Nov. 7th. Polls are open 6:30AM until 7:30PM.

  • Vote NO, NO, NO on either of the divisive Orange and Chatham county districting referendums.
  • Vote YES for Baddour and Anderson Superior Court District 15B.
  • Vote YES for Vanderbeck commissioner Chatham District 4.
  • US Congress District 4: Wish I could write-in Kanoy
  • State Supreme Court Chief Justice: Parker
  • State Supreme Court Associates: Timmons-Goodson, Martin and Robin Hudson (over Calabria based on tenor towards capital cases)
  • State Court of Appeals: Bob Hunter and Stephens
  • State Senate: Kinnaird
  • Orange County Sheriff: Pendergrass (like Parker’s emphasis on reducing turnover and using technology but unsure about other issues)
  • Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor: Snipes and Shooter

Precinct locations for Orange County and SAMPLE BALLOT
Precinct locations for Chatham County and SAMPLE BALLOT

Note precinct changes: More information here.

  • Battle Park precinct votes at the Chapel Hill Senior Center 400-A S. Elliott Road Chapel Hill for the November 7, 2006 Election only.
  • Coles Store precinct have been split into two precincts.
    The School Districts divider line determines your precinct and voting location:

    • If you live in the Orange County School District (to be known as Coles Store 1 Precinct), you will continue to vote at the Union Grove Methodist Church, 6407 Union Grove Church Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.
    • If you live in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro School District (to be known as Hogan Farms Precinct), you will now vote at the Lake Hogan Farms Clubhouse, 101 Commons Way Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

The Superior Court District 15B candidates are:

Baddour and Stein 3rd Quarter campaign finance reports.

Fox’s 3rd quarter report [PDF] was available by Friday.
Anderson’s 3rd quarter [PDF] just today (Nov. 6th) [UPDATE:] Tom Jensen on OP informs us that the report was available Saturday.

Videos and commentary on Oct. 11th’s Superior Court District 15B UNC Young Democrats forum.

Videos and commentary on Oct. 16th’s Superior Court District 15B Bar members forum.

This time last year I was catching 14 winks in preparation for election day.

Earlier in the evening I had made the rounds collecting my outlying signs for redeployment. About 3 hours from now, I was leaping out of bed to fill some balloons, say a hasty goodbye to the family and rush to pick up local activist Tom Jensen ( thanks again Tom for kindly assisting with the last round of sign deployments at every municipal polling station).

It was the start of one of the longest days in my life. Exhilerating, enjoyable, extraordinary, engaging – the hospitality and good cheer of the citizens of Chapel Hill made the long hours fly by.

The beautiful fall weather was an incredible bonus.

Maintaining election signs feels like an art form.

During the 2005 election season, I plotted various energy saving routes to “care and feed” for my signs as I drove around town on regular errands. Two birds with one stone, so to speak.

I didn’t just fix my own signs. Heck, at one point I’d repaired or reset more of Ed Harrison’s signs than mine and every other candidates combined! Why? While to some the signs are just so much roadside rubbish, to me they represent not only a major campaign investment ($2-$8 per sign) but a valuable, if limited, form of communication.

Folks gained name recognition from my catchy slogan, read various intended and unintended meanings into my “daisy” design and followed my website URL ( now ) to find out more about my positions (and to get a real-time report on my finances).

Election 2005

Every candidate, as long as they follow the generally reasonable rules of signage, deserves the courtesy of publishing that limited message without interference. Sure, the “message” is sometimes lost due to poor implementation – like Ed’s short-staked slanted signs that easily tilted and wilted and fell under the merest of pressure – but, unfortunately, the weather doesn’t account for all sign damage.

While focusing on sites with Judge Baddour’s and Anderson’s signs, I’ve continued to repair all candidates’ signs – whether I support them – like Ellie Kinnaird – or don’t – like Steve Acuff. Baddour’s signs, some up for the whole duration, have weathered well. To date, my worst problem has been keeping ones up both on the corner of Estes/MLK and at the end of Mt. Bolus Rd. Those signs, unlike others I find in the woods or ditches, vanish. Anderson’s have done fairly well, though the cardboard they’re made of seems to get awful droopy in the wet.


A resounding NO from former Orange County Democratic Party chair Barry Katz in his Oct. 28th LTE to the Chapel Hill News:

I will vote no on the ballot referendum to restructure the Orange County commissioners.

First, there hasn’t been enough public debate on the merits of change, and I oppose change without voters’ understanding its consequences. Second, since the mid-1930s, The Chapel Hill News has reported countywide contests between candidates in favor of funding schools, health clinics, etc., and candidates who oppose raising taxes to fund such services. Most years the pro-funding candidates win and they do it with support from all parts of the county, albeit with greater support in southern Orange. So this is an old story.

Third, my six years on the county Planning Board suggests to me that underlying the push to change how county commissioners are elected are residents who are concerned about “restrictive” land-use planning and the rights of landowners to do what they want with their land. I joined the board as a skeptic regarding land-use planning and left a confirmed proponent of strategic land-use planning. We have only to look at Wake County to see how unregulated growth leads to urban sprawl, a lack of public transportation and too little public open space.

Orange County has been in a decades-long urban-suburbanizing transition that will continue past my lifetime. Agriculture now accounts for about 1 percent of the county’s economy, but the value of agricultural land has skyrocketed in recent decades due to residential housing demand. “Recent residents,” i.e., people whose grandparents weren’t born in Orange County, constitute a strong majority of voters and now determine the outcome of local elections, as is only proper. Not only would new and future Orange residents benefit from planning, but agricultural landowners would enjoy sustained maximum land values if the quality of life stays high in the county, as would occur under a thoughtful land use plan.

I hope landowners recognize the practical truth in this notion. — Barry Katz, Chapel Hill

Thank you Orange County League of Women Voters for sponsoring tonight’s forum.

There were 15-20 folks in the audience this evening, including former BOCC candidate Artie Franklin, current BOCC candidate Jamie Daniel and Superior Court District 15B candidate Chuck Anderson.

Fright-night, referendum style, came a day late as Moses Carey pretty much reprized his earlier “debate” performance pulling out the legislature as bogeyman. In Moses’ scenario, the legislative demons will swoop in if the referendum dies, reject the voters will and steal our ability to choose alternatives.

Backing off an earlier claim that independent runs would be easier, tonight he just claimed it would be slightly easier. It won’t be. Technically it’ll take %5 of 88944 registered voter signatures to even get on the ballot. Strangely enough, that’s more signatures than it would’ve taken to win a District 2 spot in this year’s primary.

Once again, he asserted the best way to unite the county is to divide it, contrary to the lunacy our southern neighbors in Chatham county are going through…

Though he acknowledged helping craft a 1993 recommendation to use this alternative voting method, he characterized my claim that cumulative voting opens doors to minority voices as pure speculation. Further, he rejected my claim, once again saying it was pure speculation, that evidence to the contrary and in spite of wide usage throughout the world – our country – in corporate governance, the method is better than districting in apportioning representation.

He did recant and admit that the expansion of the board and districting could be voted on separately.

He also agreed that the “1 person, 1 vote” didn’t accurately capture the real exercise of voting power – a side-effect which allows fewer voters in District 2 to elect a candidate than candidates in District 1 (this given that winning the Democratic primary is “de facto” winning the general election).

Moses did surprise me with his suggestion that Orange County citizens weren’t up to understanding cumulative voting – that it was too confusing – and that they couldn’t be educated.

After presenting the only option in defeat as sticking with what we have, I asked him directly what would stop the BOCC, 24 hours after the referendum’s defeat, from starting over and incorporating the best ideas for selecting and electing a diverse slate of candidates.

He ducked that direct question and a subsequent one from the audience: “What will you do if the referendum is defeated?”

When asked the same question I made the following pledge:

If the referendum is defeated I will appear at the first BOCC meeting after the election and ask for:

  • Expansion of the board to seven members
  • Non-partisan elections
  • Cumulative voting
  • Immediate implementation of rural and urban super-precincts

If we pass this referendum, additional reforms will not be implemented. If we pass this referendum, rejecting proven and practical alternatives which emphasize coalition building, then we’ll have consciously created a house divided.

Please don’t be fooled by the sugar-coating, board expansion, around this bitter pill, institutionalized divisiveness and disenfranchisement.

Vote NO on the Orange County districting referendum.

From todays New & Record (11/01/06):

An independent political organization called FairJudges.Net began airing the ad this week. By promoting four Supreme Court candidates, it upsets a system meant to create a level playing field in judicial contests. Watchdog groups are up in arms.

“Democracy North Carolina believes the activities of FairJudges.Net are a disturbing and unhealthy development for judicial elections in North Carolina,” director Bob Hall said.

The N.C. Center for Voter Education called on “those responsible to stop airing these advertisements,” executive director Chris Heagarty said.

Even a beneficiary, Chief Justice Sarah Parker, wasn’t pleased. “If I had my druthers, I’d prefer to run my own campaign and plan my own strategy without unsolicited help from outside parties,” she said. “It would suit me fine if the ads did not run.”

The ad promotes “fair judges,” naming Parker, Mark Martin, Patricia Timmons-Goodson and Robin Hudson.

Judge Calabria is so far the only judge to respond to my email on the possible deceptive campaigning practices over at Morehead Planetarium.

The injection of big money in judicial races is a concern – that’s why NC switched to “voter-owned” judicial elections (at least for some judicial positions).

The complaint puts a major test on the state’s public financing system, adopted two years ago and touted as a way to remove partisan and big money influence from the courts.

Participants in public financing are allowed to raise a maximum of about $70,000 in contributions. The state then chips in, giving candidates for Court of Appeals about $144,000 and Supreme Court chief justice hopefuls about $217,000.

WRAL5, 11/01/06

The end-run, legal though it may be, around these limits is troubling – something acknowledged by the chair of the organization former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell:

FairJudges.Net, chaired by former N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, says its mission is to provide “positive, accurate, bipartisan information about judges.”

That isn’t how Levinson sees it. In asking the state for additional funds, he protested that 527 spending bypasses “public financing restrictions and guidelines …”

He’s right. The playing field has tilted. This also pushes judicial politics into a potentially troubling realm, where special-interest groups can spend millions to sway voters.

In West Virginia two years ago, a 527 group funded with more than $2 million from a coal company executive helped defeat a Supreme Court justice. It prompted the legislature to enact tougher restrictions. North Carolina might have to do the same, at least barring 527s from pouring money into last-minute ad campaigns.

Mitchell conceded Wednesday that “527s generally should be of concern to people” but defended the ad as “nothing but positive.”

It may be, but the prospect of big-money, special-interest influence in judicial elections should raise a hue and cry every time.

N&R, 11/02/06

From Jack Evans concerning housing at Carolina North.

At the LAC meeting on October 19, we agreed that the University would draft some thoughts for the continuation of our discussion regarding housing at Carolina North. The attached file is our response to that request. As you will see, we found a number of issues and questions that we think are worthy of further discussion within the LAC. We don’t believe that our discussions to this point have reached a stage that
would permit the formulation of consensus principles, but we hope our discussion tomorrow afternoon will move us in the direction.

This follows on Mayor Mark Chilton’s (Carrboro) discussion of Oct. 19th (documented on OrangePolitics)

The Leadership Advisory Committee on Carolina North had an interesting discussion about housing as a part of Carolina North this afternoon.

Here are some prepared comments that I presented as a way of launching the discussion:

The housing problem at Carolina North is, in short, that the new workers at Carolina North will either live at Carolina North or they will live elsewhere and need to commute to the campus. There is not a great deal of vacant housing currently available within the Chapel Hill Transit service area (although there is some), so new employees will either have to occupy housing that is to be built in the Chapel Hill Transit service area, or they will have to live outside that service area and commute. Let’s take a look at the scale of the problem…

I suggest you read the extended discussion. UNC’s issues and discussion follow:

Discussion Issues and Questions Related to
Housing at Carolina North

Prepared for the LAC discussion on November 2, 2006

We believe that housing at Carolina North is a critical aspect of attracting employees, both faculty and staff, to the University, and helping existing employees find housing closer to campus. However, we believe that many issues will require further discussion within the LAC in the process of formulating specific planning principles that will be used to guide planning related to housing.

We envision the housing at Carolina North as a mixed-income community. That is, the housing will be a mixture of market, work force, and affordable housing. We need clear understandings regarding the definitions of these three categories. And we do not yet have enough information to set percentages for these three categories, but we will commit to study the issues.

The housing planned for Carolina North must be financially feasible, financially sustainable, and market driven. Although the University will likely retain ownership of the land, we anticipate that a large portion of the housing will be privately developed, thus adding values to local tax rolls. On that premise, the housing must provide opportunities for a reasonable return to prospective developers.

While housing at Carolina North will not solve all of the housing problems of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro community, UNC-Chapel Hill has a commitment to finding the right mix of market, work force, and affordable housing that will avoid making those problems worse. In this regard the University will maintain the goal that each stage of development at Carolina North will contain some level of each of the three types of housing. It may be appropriate to think of the first stage (approximately 10 years) as a test market that will provide valuable information about housing and will inform planning for subsequent stages.

As discussed in the LAC meeting on October19, we do not anticipate undergraduate instruction at Carolina North. Consequently, we do not foresee the need to build undergraduate housing at Carolina North. We do, however, anticipate some level of housing at Carolina North for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. These groups of residents are likely to be married with children. Since housing at Carolina North is likely to be multi-family construction, this could also assist the University’s efforts to attract the best graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. For this type of housing it is possible, though not necessarily certain, that the University would be the developer and operator of the housing.

The discussion of housing during the LAC meeting of October 19 explored linking overall employment at Carolina North and the planned supply of housing. We consider it to be difficult to define and implement a linkage of this sort in advance. A number of questions deserve consideration. For example, what restrictions should apply to housing at Carolina North?. Should CN housing be primarily or exclusively for employees of the University or UNC Health Care System, or should it serve a broader population? What issues related to social and cultural diversity in CN housing should we consider? If work force and affordable housing involve some form of subsidy or constrained appreciation in the form of price caps or restrictions on sale, what issues are raised if some of this housing is occupied by non-University employees?

To the extent that University employees occupy housing at Carolina North, use of SOVs would be favorably affected. Similarly, to the extent that University employees living anywhere make use of transit (whether within the service area of the Chapel Hill transit system or not) use of SOVs would be favorably affected.

One of the inputs that we need for this and subsequent discussions is information that incorporates our best estimates, stage by stage, of the level of employment to be anticipated at Carolina North. Although we will not be able to formulate these estimates with great precision, it is important to get the order of magnitude approximately correct so that our discussions about housing, transportation, and fiscal impact will be as realistic as we can be at this stage or our work.


BTW, here’s Mr. Evan’s contact information:

John P. Evans
Executive Director, Carolina North

Hettleman Professor of Business
304 South Building, CB 4000
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

« Previous PageNext Page »