Make That A Flood of Tax Payers

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Following up on my earlier post, it appears that appeals to the tax assessors office this year will be at least triple the norm.

More from the Herald’s Lisa Young.

Raleigh LEDs the Way

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

Comparison in life, I guess, is inevitable.

Hey, even if there’s a tiny bit of vanity bragging about Chapel Hill – “look how smart I am to live in the Southern slice of Heaven” – I probably indulge in it as much as anyone else. Folks brag about how progressive, sensitive to civil liberties, environmentally conscious our Town is in spite of examples to the contrary.

For instance, not too long ago Council member Kleinschmidt suggested Wilson and Rocky Mount were not quite up to Chapel Hill standards yet those communities underwrite more than a hundred hands-on arts programs and have built facilities to support the arts in general. On the other hand, progressive Chapel Hill’s one hands-on arts program teeters on the brink of extinction.

Civil liberties? Chapel Hill leads the way much of the time with the occasional incredible lapse.

Environmentally conscious? Many times with, again, some unfortunate glaring exceptions.

Besides noting Council’s leadership faux pas, Jim Ward recently pointed that even the simplest of energy saving efforts – using efficient light fixtures at Town Hall – never get very far.

Raleigh, though, is making a bold commitment to reduce energy and save some bucks in the process

Last week, the City of Raleigh announced a plan to possibly use light emitting diodes (LED’s) to light city streets throughout Raleigh.

Although more expensive initially, compared with regular lights, LED’s last much longer and use much less electricity. According to city, some LED’s may last as much as 20 times longer than regular incandescent lights.

At a city hall news conference on Friday, Mayor Meeker and the CEO of Triangle-based LED maker Cree, Inc. announced a partnership to perform a cost-benefit analysis to possibly replace as many city lights as possible with LED’s.

The city says that the mayor hopes that the “LED City” initiative will serve as a model for other cities that are considering implementing energy-efficient measures.

“The City of Raleigh is willing to set the pace and invite other municipalities to join in developing energy-efficient civic centers,” Cree CEO Swoboda said. “This leading edge effort is undoubtedly an important driver in LED adoption within the United States.”

Raleigh Chronicle, February 19, 2007

I own shares in Cree. That said, they have a great product that, at least I think, will shake up the world one day.

Raleigh Mayor Meeker said that it is “sound fiscal and environmental stewardship” to investigate the application of LED’s “as broadly as possible.”

The analysis on how LED’s can be used will be performed over the next 18 months, says the city.

In his comments, Mayor Meeker said that there may be “substantial potential savings from converting the City’s more than 33,000 streetlights to LEDs.”

According to the city, Raleigh spends more than $4.2 million annually for electricity to power the streetlights and estimates that 30 percent of its energy costs are for lighting.

According to the city, Raleigh electric provider Progress Energy says the floor equipped with LED lights will use over 40 percent less energy than the standard lighting system and will actually provide better lighting.

Raleigh Chronicle, February 19, 2007

Fixing Chapel Hill’s policy of using inefficient, poorly sited, streetlight fixtures kick started my life as a local concerned citizen. Six years ago, and occasionally since, I’ve asked Council to revise our current lighting policies, direct Duke Power to install more efficient fixtures and adopt the standards developed by light pollution experts for the International Dark-Sky Association.

Better, longer lasting lighting that operates much more efficiently at a cheaper cost when amortized over its extended lifetime.

Seems like an easy decision to me. We should take Raleigh’s invitation to participate.

Pork-o-polis? Federal largesse in NC District 4

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Wonder what federal monies wend their ways back to North Carolina? To local District 4?

The new online database of federal transactions, FedSpending.org, is now open for business.

A collaboration between the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), Zephyr Teachout’s Sunlight Foundation and the conservative OMB Watch, the idea is to promote greater access for persnickety citizens like CitizenWill.

The Sunlight Foundation covers our Dollarocracy.

Let’s turn first to the subject of government contracts and grants. The new database, compiled and put on the web by OMB Watch at fedspending.org, covers all federal contracts and grants issued between the years 2000 and 2005. Just how much money are we talking about here? More than $12 trillion in taxpayer money – that’s trillion with a T, not billion with a B. Not even Bill Gates has that kind of money (though naturally his company did get its share of the pie).

You can search through the millions of records by recipient name, by government agency – even by congressional district. And once you’ve zeroed in on a particular contractor, you can see at a glance which goods and services they provided to the government, and what proportion of the contracts they won were through full and open competition versus no-bid awards.

Here’s District 4 2000-2005 federal contracts.

Sample:

Parent Company Name Contractor Name(s) Total Amount (for this search)
RESEARCH TRIANGLE INSTITUTE RESEARCH TRIANGLE INSTITUTE; RESEARCH TRIANGLE INSTITUTE IN; RTI; SCI APPLIC INTERNATL CORP.; RESEARCH TRIANGLE INSTITUTE (DUNS 004868105); RESEARCH TRIANGLE INSTITUTE I $186,718,197
DUKE UNIVERSITY DUKE UNIVERSITY; DUKE UNIV; DUKE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER; OTA DAVID; DUKE UNIVERSITY (6541); DUKE UNIVERSITY CHPRE; DUKE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CTR.; TSI MASON LABORATORIES; DUKE UNIVERSITY (0000) $40,865,839
UNIV OF NORTH CAROLINA SYSTEM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA A; UNIVERSITY NC AT CHAPEL HILL; UNIVERSITY NC AT WILMINGTON; UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL; UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL (1393); OFFICE OF SP $15,158,037
RHO, INC. RHO FEDERAL SYSTEMS DIVISION $13,486,940
MCKESSON CORPORATION MCKESSON HBOC INCORPORATED; MCKESSON CORPORATION; MC KESSON HBOC, INC; Mckesson Pharmaceutical; MCKESSON CORPORATION (7296); MCKESSON CORPORATION DELAWARE; MCKESSON AUTOMATION SYSTEMS IN; MCKESSON MED $9,920,196
CONSTELLA GROUP, INC ANALYTICAL SCIENCES INC; CONSTELLA GROUP, LLC; UNITED INFORMATION SYSTEMS, IN; CONSTELLA GROUP LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY; CONSTELLO GROUP, INC. FORMERLY; SSC LARGE BUSINESS-NORTH CAROL; GYMR, LLC.; CO $9,299,292
PARADIGM GENETICS, INC. ICORIA INCORPORATED; PARADIGM GENETICS, INC $6,883,656
CODA RESEARCH INC CODA RESEARCH INC.; CODA, INC. $6,041,000
DUKE ENERGY CORP. DUKE ENERGY CORPORATION; AMERESCOSOLUTIONS, INC; DUKE ENERGY CORPROATION; Ameresco Solutions, Inc.; DUKE SOLUTIONS INC $5,234,898
HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. HEWLETT PACKARD COMPANY (3067); HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY; HEWLETT PACKARD COMPANY (1436); COMPAQ COMPUTER CORPORATION; COMPAQ FEDERAL LLC; DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORPORATION; COMPUSA INC; AGILENT TECHNOLOGI $4,451,695
ALION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ALION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; ALION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY C; Alion Science & Techn.; IIT RESEARCH INSTITUTE $4,079,767
LIBERTY ANALYTICAL CORPORATION LIBERTY ANALYTICAL CORPORATION $3,613,559
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIV NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIV; NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSIT; NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY; NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY (0756); N C STATE UNIVERSITY; ITRE/NC STATE UNIVERSITY; NORTH CAROLINA STATE $3,401,233
MCNEIL TECHNOLOGIES, INC. MC NEIL TECHNOLOGIES, INC; MC NEIL TECHNOLOGIES INCORPORATED (5583); MCNEIL TECHNOLOGIES, INC; Research and Evaluation Associates, Inc. $3,052,046
TRC COMPANIES INC MARIAH TRC ASSOCIATES INC; TRC ENVIRONMENTAL CORPORATION; LOWNEY ASSOCIATES; TRC MARIAH ASSOCIATES INC. $2,979,438
RAO ENTERPRISES INC INTEGRATED LABORATORY SYSTEMS,; ILS $2,912,453
HEALTH DECISIONS, INC. HEALTH DECISIONS, INC. $2,452,978


By the way, OMBWatch might disagree with my characterization of their organization.

It does bill itself as “a nonprofit government watchdog organization located in Washington, DC. Our mission is to promote open government, accountability and citizen participation” yet the first squib on their sidebar shouts “Save the Estate Tax! Let your senators know you don’t want them to take the bait–keep the estate tax intact.”

Come on!

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