By 7:21AM, my signs were out of almost every precinct (Frank Porter Graham/Scroggs were the last two I got after dropping E. at school) and off most of the roads. By 9:30AM, every sign I knew about (and I kept a log!) was safely retrieved.

If you have a sign or see a sign waving around out there, please send me an email or give me a call 932-1380 – I’d like to hang on to them.

Oh, 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.


Continue reading 7:21AM

Wrap up….

At this point, with 38 precincts reporting, it appears I’m headed for a solid 5th place. If the trend of a vote for Thorpe is a vote for Harrison continues, I imagine that by the end count I’ll still be out of the running. Of course, it isn’t over until it’s over – 45 of 45 reporting.

Win or lose, the campaign has been great. I’ve had an opportunity to express some ideas and viewpoints not generally found in our races. I’ve also had an opportunity to see some interesting character emerge in our candidate field.

I also made the unprecedented move of releasing all my financial and contributor information prior to the election. I hope this is something the current candidates will do ASAP and that the next slate of candidates will do as a matter of course.

To the 2005 SPCH endorsement class; Laurin and Mark, great top of the ticket. Jason, good experience for your next run. And thanks for all the Pit sits.

I’m sure there will some great post-analysis: Was turnout a factor? Did more money equal more votes? What was the role of all the signage?

That will all be interesting but in the end the Town will have spoken.

Thank you to all my supporters, the folk that voted for me and all the folk that turned out to vote on one of the loveliest election days I’ve ever experienced.

Finally, thanks to my great family – E. and Ellie. Without your support I would’ve never gotten as far as I have….

Goodnight folks, it has been a long day.

Two Neighborhoods


I spoke with some of the folk working at Aveda today and got a clearer picture of the situation. The manager was pleased that a police officer came by to ask about the problems and to clarify what the Town could do to protect our Downtown business folk.


I work in downtown Chapel Hill above a company called Aveda.

I’ve worked in that location for nearly five years. I’ve wandered those downtown streets for over two decades.

You might be able to tell from my picture that I’m a big, bear-like guy. In all my years around downtown, I’ve experienced a minimum of hassling or attempted intimidation.

My neighbors don’t appear as lucky:

From the News and Observer

CHAPEL HILL — Some Franklin Street business owners warned a downtown group Monday that if safety doesn’t improve, they may take their businesses elsewhere.

Though reported crime in Chapel Hill’s downtown business district is down this fiscal year over last, those working downtown say their employees and customers don’t feel safe.

Patrick Thompson, owner of the Aveda Institute at 200 W. Franklin St., said that his students and clientele, mostly women, are frequently harassed and that one employee was assaulted downtown.

“If one of those students gets attacked, our business is done,” he told the board of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, formerly known as the Downtown Economic Development Corp.

and the HeraldSun

CHAPEL HILL — Members of a downtown booster group heard repeated charges Monday that the town needs to do a lot more to enhance public safety in the downtown business district.

Both downtown business owners and those who work in the area complained vociferously about crime in the town’s commercial center, and spoke of a “deep-seated fear” of violence against customers and employees.

Patrick Thompson, owner of the Aveda cosmetology school and retail shop on West Franklin and Church streets, said his director had been assaulted and three students harassed in the downtown since the business opened last year.

Speaking to the board of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, Thompson said most of his students and customers were women, and that many had a certain “deep-seated fear” about the possibility of attacks that was real but hard to express.

“If one of these students gets attacked, our business is done,” said Thompson. “It’s that simple.

“I want to speak the truth,” he added. “I hope everyone here gets committed around putting more police on the streets. There is no police presence on the streets, at least in my experience, and I’ve been here fairly regularly.”

Though separated by mere inches in the same building and navigating the same geography, we work in two neighborhoods.

In their neighborhood, the owner tells us of his women student’s, customer’s and employee’s real “deep-seated fear” of possible attacks.

In my neighborhood, I enjoyably amble about from West End to Downtown day in, day out.

In their neighborhood, their local and out-of-town students have been harassed and an employee assaulted.

In my neighborhood, whether day or night, I walk bear-like along their dangerous avenues, recognizing the reclining regulars, rarely hassled even for change.

And though the fear is about the possibility of attacks – the perception of impending danger instead of the danger itself – the results can be equivalent. As candidate Jason Baker pointed out during tonight’s forum, if we lose a business to reality or to a misperception of reality, we’ve still lost a business.

And while the loss of a business is bad, worse is the thought that we can’t build a bridge from their dark Downtown-scape to the safe and vibrant Downtown my family and I enjoy.

I’ll see if I can walk the streets as a visiting Aveda student instead of a longtime Chapel Hillian. I’ll visit their neighborhood. Then, maybe, I’ll understand how to bring our two neighborhoods back to one.

Corralling the Community

For those readers that can take a looong lunch or want to skip the Daily Tarheel forum Oct. 6th, UNC will be presenting their current Master plan for campus.

Last May I had the opportunity to ask why they had quietly removed 3 residential halls from the plan and what that meant for the promise of a “bed for every head”. Of the few citizens attending, only a handful were prepared with detailed questions – like Diana Steele’s about “why had UNC sited buildings on top of her house on Mason Farm Rd.?” – quite possibly because there was no real lead time to evaluate the materials presented. Continue reading Corralling the Community

You can’t say what?

One of the incumbents in our campaign is very adept at dodging issues.

While it is wise to take counsel, to study an issue and weigh alternative resolutions, at some point, as an elected official and leader, you must take a stand. Maybe it will upset your neighbors, maybe it will generate bad press, maybe it will hurt your long term political prospects – but you must eventually form and express an opinion. In the bureaucratic world, when pressed to answer, you might be able to dodge by endlessly shuffling paper or invoking important sounding harrumphs – such as our incumbent – about his quasi-judicial standing.

There is such a thing as quasi-judicial standing. As a Councilmember you must weigh all sworn evidence and testimony entered at a public hearing before making a “ruling” on an issue. Until the hearings are closed, due process demands that you can’t make a fixed decision.

But, as Chapel Hill’s Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos pointed out in this 1995 memo, and in every subsequent election year, that doesn’t preclude an incumbent from commenting on open issues that have quasi-judicial standing.

When asked about the merits of…[a] pending quasi-judicial application, preface your response with some comment to the effect that:

1. “This is a matter which is pending before the Council…
2. the evidence has not all been presented…


Having so prefaced your remarks, I think it would be reasonable and acceptable to proceed with your comments on the merits…

The memo is very clear on how an incumbent can bracket their statements and still use their First Amendment right to speak and be heard.

So, fellow citizens, it’s time to pull that quasi-judicial veil aside and talk to the man behind the curtain.

He has every Right and responsibility to answer.

“Leather-seated SUVs”

Is it true that effective conservation almost needs to become a reflexive act?

I’m lucky I had adults in my life – my parents, my friend’s parents, relatives, neighbors – that internalized the lessons of economy and reflexive conservation. Maybe they were like my father, who hailed from a large family whose generosity never flagged though they were more than pinched by the Depression. Maybe they were like my next door neighbor, a Cherokee, that grew up not only in severe circumstances but suffered the privations of a second-class citizen. Maybe they were farm folk, like the Finleys, that understood you saved this years bounty because next year might be a bust.
Continue reading “Leather-seated SUVs”

Life, the universe, everything…

Wikipedia is an open source encyclopedia that represents a “public works” project of the first-order. Jimmy Wales, the founder of the effort, realized there’s a lot of smarts in the world community – all he needed to do was to tap into that creativity and talent and then step out of the way. In a sense, he created an ecosystem where freely contributed collaborative works could live and flourish.

Smart guy.

In the computer world, we say “there’s intelligence in the network”. In open source software development, we say “the more eyes on the code, the better”. In other words, “many hands make light (and smart) work” and the more folk that review an issue, the better chance for finding the underlying problem and really fixing it.

I’d like our Town to start building an institutional memory using technology like Wikipedia. We need to publish as much detail as possible, lower the costs of accessing this detail (make it easy to search, manipulate, aggregate) and trust the “more eyes” of our incredible community to find issues and suggest innovative solutions.

There’s the windup, here’s the pitch (via ibiblio’s Paul Jones [another “smart guy”]).

ibiblio.org Speakers Series
Who: Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales
When: 3:30 Wednesday October 5
Where: Freedom Forum Conference Room
305 Carroll Hall UNC-CH
What: A talk about the world’s most popular encyclopedia and news source,
Wikipedia and Wikinews by the man who invented and sustains them.

More here.