Election Day 2006: Hogan Farms and Beyond…

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

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).

Vote No on Orange County Districting Referendum, Another No from Katz

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

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

Vote No on Orange County Districting Referendum

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

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.

Halloween means Helicopters

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

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 รขโ‚ฌโ€œ 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”.

Soundbite: Carey, CitizenWill and the 2006 Redistricting Referendum

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

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.

ConvergeSouth 2006 – Wrap Up

Saturday, October 14th, 2006


Back from a great meal at Ganache. Fantastic conversations with quite a few participants, GerryC, Anglico, SouthernDem, MisterSugar, Josh, Zabouti, Pam, AE, DB, Ed Cone, Anonymoses and so many others. A highpoint of the day was hearing during dinner the incredible backstory of local ‘blogger Serbian Bora Coturnix – Red-State Serbian Jewish atheist liberal PhD student posting on BlogAroundTheClock. It started with his narrow escape just one week from pre-war Yugoslavia. Bora’s story was initiated by Philly.com’s Daniel Rubin Blinq tale of high journalistic adventure following the fall of Milosovich.

It also appears the GSO “secret report” on police chief Wray’s discharge is out in the public domain. A very interesting story in civic discourse. Dave Hoggard says “What I can tell you is the report is complete, disturbing and damning and city manager Mitch Johnson did what had to be done.” Wow! Strong stuff.

More starting here.


Ed Cone starts by announcing that the “confidential” report floating around Greensboro about their police force will surface on a ‘blog sometime today. A special add-on session is being proposed for after the wrap-up to discuss the release.

As far as ConvergeSouth (and I haven’t eaten yet), it’s been fun but there are a couple criticisms I’ve heard from more than a few folks – criticisms I share of what was basically a good conference.

One, that there wasn’t enough “UN” in this unconference. Folks, including myself, were surprised that room wasn’t made for more ad hoc sessions (at BarcampRDU – time and space was allocated for sessions that each person had to pitch to the whole group).

Two, that while last year there were too many interesting sessions concurrently scheduled, this year it felt a bit threadbare.

There was some excellent give-n-take during the sessions, so some of the “UN” was restored.

If one thing comes out of this years ConvergeSouth, I hope it’s the bit of “social networking” I facilitated during the MySpace session results in an under-served GSO community getting free gear and free access.

Now, off to some beer and then dinner. I’ll follow up with any interesting tidbits coming out of our dinner with Ed Cone.

My dinner partners:

ConvergeSouth 2006 – Social Networking, MySpace

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Walked in on Bora Coturnix ( BlogAroundTheClock ) discussing his use of MySpace to identify folk by common Yugoslavian last names and then reach out through th “Add to Friend” function of MySpace to contact them…

Nearly every one contacted joined. He goes on to describe, given the youth of those folks responding, how his profile makes it absolutely clear he’s 40 years-old, a parent, a husband and not some freakish MySpace stalker.

OK, this post got lost in the ether. I’m reconstructing from memory.

Several comments on privacy on social networks. Jen – “as soon as you put your private information in it becomes public…”

Ed Cone – taught kids to treat the ‘net like the local mall – your kids know not to wander off with strangers – real problem is folks don’t understand that interacting on the ‘net is just like the “real” world…

Audience member – it isn’t like the “real” world…when someone is reviewing a college grads history they probably know there’s a good chance that person had been drunk once or twice – that’s OK – it doesn’t disqualify them – BUT if a picture of them drunk shows up on MySpace – that’s it….

Moderator starts a digression on rural Internet access up Edenton way…”there should be an effort like rural electrification to bring Internet to everyone” – I point out that the telcos have been collecting surcharges since 1996 (specified in the 1996 Telecommunications Act) but that they hadn’t fulfilled their obligation and squandered 100’s of billion dollars. I mentioned our Chapel Hill effort to create a muni-network – to bridge the digital divide. A professor at NC A&T asks “what about computers?” I mention that it’s connectivity not computers that we’re short of – that we’re awash in cast-off computers. She says “I want those computers”. Turns out she was part of an organization of 90 GSO churches trying to get computers into the community. They’d tried everything.

Cool thing happens. Several GSO tech people jump in and offer to coordinate getting free gear and free access for her group! There’s about a 10 minute side-bar where various GSO folk do a quick ad hoc plan to make things happen.

I kid the group saying “for the young folk, what you just saw was some old-style social networking”. I really hope the GSO folk rise to the challenge.

Moderator steers the discussion back to social networks. Anonymity, privacy and identity discussion ensues.

Moderator: as soon as everyone can log into MySpace a bunch of “illegal immigrants will flood the MySpace nation” . Audience picks up on dilutive effect of opening flood gates – diminishment of special quality of MySpace.

Student: While she was working with Turner (? Broadcasting) this summer they had their interns search MySpace to report back on prospective employment candidates. They farmed out the job to students because the company didn’t have direct access to MySpace [kind of sleazy, ethically questionable on the company’s part].

Pretty good session. I had more notes that got truncated. Hopefully someone else took good notes.

ConvergeSouth 2006 – Building a Media Culture within the News Organization

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

A room chock-full of “real” journalists. Followed by media/PR consultants and then a sprinkling of citizen activists.

So far, introductions.

Local political whiz, former Council member, Gerry C is here – I look forward to meeting him face to face.

Anglico (Jim Protzman) and SouthernDem are here for BlueNC. SouthernDem is a great, citizen journalist.

Zabouti (George Entemann) , Kirk Ross (ExileOnJonesStreet), GSO’s Lex Alexander, Dave Hoggard (Hogg’s Blog) – former GSO Council candidate and now general pain-in-the-side of the current GSO political apparatchik.

It’ll be interesting to see if the conversations are dominated by the producer-side (media/journalism side of the house) or the consumer-side (folks like myself, the BlueNC’rs, etc.)

Ed Cone – the people that own news organizations are not interested in putting out high-quality journalism – the people working there want the highest quality product but are stymied by the “business”-side of journalism

WillR – “not here to kill traditional journalism” – want to strengthen journalistic institutions. I added my rant on how limiting the community’s access to their story – access to the “long tail” (i.e. paywalled archives of former articles) only serves to weaken the institution.

Jim P. (Anglico) – who watches the watchers – he jumps in on the benefit of ‘blogs as watchdogs of the journalistic institution.

Allen Robinson (N&R) – on managing comments on the N&R – starts with story on how the SBI contacted him ecause a commenter had threatened to blow up the civil rights memorial – moves on to comments in general – Mr. Sun argues they have an overly bureaucratic approach to managing comments – Allen argues that it requires too much staff time to weed out vulgarities or “name calling” – Mr. Sun can’t believe that they spend as much time – that they need to open up comments

The audience joins in an speaks about “wisdom of crowds” type solutions to the comment problem.

Democratic Underground approach of putting a “think button” on their blog to let the community notify the admins of questionable content. Allen says their email would overflow. I think of Slashcode that runs Slashdot – it allows the community to vote comments up-or-down based on the community’s own standards (and also a peppering of “special” designated users). I suggested this to John Hood of the John Locke Foundation last year when he expressed concern about allowing folks to call out his Pope supported think-tank on their own website. I suggested that the critical mass of their “type” readers could squelch dissent quite fine ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kirk Ross – the business of journalism is not willing to fund R&D – every other type business invests money in developing new technology and strategies to meet change head-on – traditional media organizations, especially print, is not willing to invest money or time in developing methods to deal with new trends.

Killian –

Doug Fisher – newsrooms are manufacturing operations – Allen is talking cost not profit – the big hump is to understand they’re in a service business not a manufacturing business….journalism is a cottage industry…
newspapers as aggregators…

Audience – comments as profit centers – some newspapers take the LTE’s and online comments – put them on paper – wrap them in ads and turn them into profit centers

Fisher – let’s change the term from newspaper to newsroom – newspaper implies manufacturing

Wendy – driving attention to your site – do a stunt – get on Romanesko – get A-listers to jump in – “money,stroking,money,stroking” – when the hits go through the roof your publisher might pay attention [ I think it might take the ‘blog-o-sphere breaking a story and making lucre on it time after time before they’ll pay attention]

Gerry – he knows that politicos read ‘blog entries, comments, etc. and send them on to their staff to find out about – that this new medium is having current and direct influence on the political sphere…

Audience – “we’ve been dealing with this since the days of Compuserve” – there’s been this tension with commenting for a long time – moderated vs. unmoderated discussion groups – the group that would succeed was the one with the highest “signal-to-noise” ratio.

John Hall – John Locke rep. – newspapers aren’t interested in local content – reporting what the community wants – instead they report/print what the editor wants…

Roche – problem with purchasing ads online – email Roanoke Rapids paper publisher couldn’t get a rate card, took weeks to get rate cards from others, Charlotte.com turned it around right away – someone in the audience comments “they must like making money” – utility of ‘net escapes folks that are interested in profit but don’t how to understand monetization…

ConvergeSouth 2006 – Elizabeth Edwards

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

First session of ConvergeSouth just wrapped. So far the “UN” part of conference hasn’t really kicked in…probably too early on a Saturday morning to do total engagement.

I had the opportunity to be the first non-“Ed Cone” questioner of Elizabeth. I put a tough one to her, asking if she had had a conversation with her communities on the “monetization” problem. Specifically, with her book, etc. , had she discussed with her online communities the fine line between commercialization/monetization and activating her community.

I believe her motives online have been “pure and true” , as I told her, but it surprised me that she hadn’t thought to broach the subject – especially considering her high-profile book campaign – with her communities.

More thoughts later – moving on to “Creating a NORG” – a new news organization staffed mainly with News Record journalist.

ConvergeSouth 2006

Friday, October 13th, 2006

I really enjoyed Greensboro’s first ‘blog-con ConvergeSouth, an “unconference” that attracted quite a few interesting and/or notorious folks. Good conversation (no surprise as Anton “Mr. Sugar” points out that ‘bloggers are usually good conversationalist), good food and a chance to learn by interaction.

Tomorrow’s promises to be even better.

Elizabeth Edwards will keynote on “Building On-line Communities”. I imagine she’ll be talking about her just released book Saving Graces and her experiences ‘blogging on One America Committee‘s ‘blog.

Beyond that, there’s an interesting list of other “known” guests.

I plan to get some feedback from the news-oriented folk on how to break the perma-link mess our local ‘blog community has with the HeraldSun and News Observer.


Friday, September 8th, 2006

Fresh in from Kirk Ross’ ExileOnJonesStreet.

Today’s UNC Board of Governors meeting yielded significant raises for the Chancellors in the UNC system, including a hefty $32,000 increase for UNC-Chapel Hill’s Chancellor James Moeser.

T.J. Bryan

Fayetteville State University’s T.J. Bryan(t) [sic: they even misspelled her name] must be bumming as her “paltry” %3.8 increase was not enough to surmount the $208+ K we’re paying Moeser’s latest Carolina North quarterback Jack Evans.

More from Exile…


And that $32,000 bump was in addition to the 2005’s %13 $31,500 increase – which at the time drew some deserved ire. The BOG’s taxpayer-financed two-year largesse has landed Moeser $63,500 or just a few thousand dollars shy of the current regional average salary of $69K.

Here’s the list of current UNC Chancellors if you’re interested in their demographics.

Whining at the cows…

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

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

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

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

May 2nd: Chatham? Baddour, Lucier, Vanderbeck, Thompson!

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

[UPDATE:] Lucier, Vanderbeck and Thompson sweep the board! Baddour still in contention.

Chatham, the tidal wave of development is overwhelming county services, driving taxes sky high (and we haven’t seen the end yet) and leading to a brittle service economy built on shaky ground.

When you mark your ballot, take a moment to think about this ode to Briar Chapel’s sewage spray system. It’s a good metaphor of how Bunkey and company have treated the county, the environment and the community.

Want to restore sanity, honesty and integrity to the Board of Commissioners? Vote:

  • George Lucier – Commissioner, District 3
  • Tom Vanderbeck – Commissioner, District 4
  • Carl E. Thompson – Commissioner, District 5

More information at The Chatham Coalition.

  • Allen Baddour – Superior Court.

Allen, arguably, is even a better choice for Chatham than Orange county.



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