Democrats No Longer

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

I’m a registered Independent.

OK, OK. I know there is no such thing as an Independent designation, just unaffiliated.

Unaffiliated. Indecisive. Indifferent. Uncommitted. Uninvolved. Fence-sitter. Don’t care.

A truly perverse bit of political framing.

I hope my occasional contributions to the local debate (CitizenWill , OrangePolitics, SqueezeThePulp, the Daily Tar Heel, the Chapel Hill News) and my willingness to take principled, though sometimes unpopular, stands on local issues demonstrates a small measure of care and commitment.

For years I’ve worked to elect Democrats. Dropped a few bucks here and there for a few of their more worthwhile national candidates. Sat polls for the local Orange County party. Contributed oodles of time to their and other affiliated organizations’ efforts to Get Out The Vote (GOTV). No plans to stop those efforts anytime soon.

But I am no Democrat (I was once). And I am no Republican (never have, never will be).

Heck, don’t try to graph my position on the one dimensional line passing through the Democrats Right to Republicans…. I, like many other local folks, exist outside these parties calculus.

I don’t know why three folks chose this week, from the many other recent weeks of Democratic disappointment, to ask me how to switch their party affiliation.

Maybe it was the recent reversal on Iraq or just the steady dissipation of last November’s promise.

Why me? I’m certainly not trying to “recruit” Independents. Sure, I haven’t been reserved in expressing my dissatisfaction with our local Democrat US Representative. They each knew of my efforts to open the local political scene to Independents via non-partisan elections and other voting reforms.

And I’ve been quite open about my status.

When, during my 2005 run for Town Council, a few local political operators counseled quiet discretion – suggesting talk of my non-affiliation would lead to a loss of stalwart Dem votes – I countered that to do so would not only be against my own tenets but promulgate the ruinous myth that folks are only capable of selecting representatives that fall along a one-dimensional political axis.

They might’ve been right. I did lose.

There is safety in numbers. Yet change springs from the outliers. And in today’s United States, it isn’t too far from “united we stand, divided we fall” to “deru kugi wa utareru”.

If you would like to lose your affiliation, either Republican or Democrat, or register to vote under any flag, the procedure is easy:

  • Review the instructions here.

    If you wish to change your party affiliation, you must complete either a Voter Registration Application Form (downloaded from address above) or complete the reverse side of a Voter Registration Card that has been mailed to you and return to the Board of Elections. All changes must be either postmarked or received in the Board of Election’s office at least 25 days before the election.

  • Download the registration form here [PDF].
  • Emancipate yourself from either of the two currently recognized parties.

Scared? You don’t have to go totally “cold turkey”. You will still be able to play some of the old game, for instance voting in either party’s primary. Initially, in many ways both large and small, you’ll feel stuck on the sidelines – constrained to vote for choices you wouldn’t have made, for flavors as close as Pepsi to Coke.

At first you might feel a little light-headed drifting above our current political Flatland. Navigating the multi-dimensional political reality we all currently occupy, whether we appreciate it or not, without the constant tether of partisan loyalty is heady stuff. Don’t panic! After a while, the relief of free agency sets in.

Still, though shorn of your party’s old baggage, paralyzed by its intransigence no longer, you leave one burden for another.

Sorry. Independence doesn’t mean “indecisive”. It doesn’t mean “uncommitted” And it certainly doesn’t mean “don’t care”.

Carolina North: Location! Location! Relocation?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

If there was a theme to yesterday’s third community outreach on UNC’s Carolina North project it was “more of the same”. Same dearth of detail. Same soft sell of the economic benefits. Same back “peddling” (as in wheeling-n-dealing) on their functional commitments.

UNC Chancellor Moeser’s “quarterback”, Jack Evans, presented the major recalibration of Carolina North’s raison d’etre as a small side note during the revelation of the first increment of development.

According to Evans, the new plan projects that half the 2,550,000 million sq./ft. of development being done over the next 15 years will house extant initiatives already located on main campus, other UNC properties or rented facilities.

Prior to yesterday, Carolina North was touted as a catalyst for new jobs (“UNC-CH has plans for a state-of-the-art research campus that would bring as many as 20,000 new jobs to Chapel Hill over the next 50 years.” UNC seeks $25 million to start Carolina North N&O Nov. 16th, 2006).

Now, as far as employment, Carolina North has become a convenient place to site their currently dispersed workforce. Having said that, Evans cautioned that the balance between academic and economic development might change dramatically over time – tilting more towards academics as the necessity for moving folks off main campus increases.

In other words, Carolina North has morphed from Chancellor Moeser’s “catalyst for the economic transformation of our state” to what is really an overflow campus….

A video used to be embedded here but the service that it was hosted on has shut down.

Video of Evans and companies May 29th, 2007 3:30pm Carolina North presentation.

Ho, Ho, Ho, North Carolina’s Lottery Pimps Christmas

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

WRAL5 reports …state lottery officials are in the Christmas spirit.

Excuse me while I puke.

Merry Money, the first $10 instant-ticket game in North Carolina, began appearing in stores Tuesday. The new game is part of a trend in the lottery industry toward holiday-themed scratch-off games, which officials hope will boost sales.

The new game features a colorful Christmas tree with gift boxes below. Six tickets out of more than 2 million for sale will be worth the top prize of $200,000. Another new game in stores is called Carolina Greetings, which costs $2 to play.

Lottery director Tom Shaheen says more games at $10 or above are expected, including the possibility of a $20 instant ticket game, which Shaheen says may be attractive to people who don’t always play the lottery.

Is nothing sacred? The ever increasing number of shrill advertisements for the failing NC lottery is bad enough, but to encourage folks to play the lottery in the “spirit of Christmas” is just about as crass as you can get…

Tip to Chad Adams over at the Locker Room.

Licensed for the Lawn: Dance session will not be “tolerated”

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Ironically titled article in today’s Herald-Sun “‘Dancing man’ gets go-ahead to go back on lawn“.

Goes on to mention that it’s only 1 hour, 1 day once a week (of course with preapproval).

Few comments I hadn’t heard before:

“Milian said Thomas’ dancing set a bad example; other performers would think they could use the lawn similarly and the place could become overrun with jugglers, magicians and other entertainers.”

“Apparently Vivian Spiral, who brings the hoops, is the exception to the new rule. Milian said as long as she is not selling the hoops, she may perform at official Weaver Street Market events. He declined to comment how Spiral’s activities differed from Thomas’ dancing. ”

“The new program will be effective Sept. 15; no performances on the lawn will be tolerated before then.”

I wonder how tolerant Carr Mill management’s reaction will be to today’s dance dissension?

Robin Cutson Drops a Feather

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

Robin Cutson, a fellow 2005 candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council and, more recently, a candidate for Orange County Board of Commissioners, has decided to spur local change outside of the “established system”.

She say’s she’s frustrated with the inability of our local elected folk to solve problems in a common sensical fashion:

…it appears that citizens are being asked to provide services and functions that once were provided by local governments—in essence, citizens are acting as their own ad hoc unfunded local government—-while at the same time existing local governments are expanding and becoming bloated bureaucracies—adding more government positions and seemingly semi-permanent consultants.

SqueezeThePulp, Aug. 7th, 2006

She doesn’t think the current political process is too effective:

Is there anything that can be done? Well we could vote in responsible elected officials. . .but from the consistently low voter turnout and the continual re-election of incumbents it appears that the majority of people either don’t care, or that the majority of people like the way things are going—or that the majority have simply given up. Or maybe people are too busy trying to lead their private lives and fulfill their duties as an ad hoc citizen government to get organized and effect change.


and has suggested a “fun” alternative:

So maybe its time for a new approach. Not just more guest columns and letters and blogging trying to push change or the election of a common sense political candidate—this obviously didn’t help in the last election cycle. And not just another citizen group or task force—there are so many of these now that no one pays attention anymore.

Maybe it’s time for something more fun. . .something designed to get the notice of busy average citizens who are disenfranchised and disillusioned with politics as usual. Maybe we should start a media campaign to elect a Mayor and council for an ad hoc unofficial citizen government and let them represent our interests and needs to the dysfunctional existing government bodies. It could be fun. . .


Robin and I share some common concerns; preserving our local environment, shepherding local resources wisely, the troubling direction UNC’s Carolina North development is taking, the course our stormwater management utility is charting, the lack of progress in forging ahead on real budget reforms.

We also disagree on causitive factors and suggested solutions.

And that’s OK.

For me, running for Council was an enjoyable and exhilarating experience. I delighted in every opportunity I had to meet with citizens and discuss my vision of Chapel Hill’s future.

Robin, your style of running, of getting your message out, was distinctive – fairly full on – and, I’m guessing, a bit rocky at times. I believe I understand why you “only half” jest in suggesting an ersatz governmental body to “sensibly” rule the local roost.

But you have folks that share your point of view. You have been a strong advocate on their behalf.

Why disengage from the current political process?

…I have personally sworn off ever running again for any office real or imagined and feel my casting a vote in existing local elections and hoping for change is like dropping a feather down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo…

Engagement, Robin.

Hands-on engagement. Discovering, discussing, debating the issues – fighting for Chapel Hill’s better future.

Isn’t that why we ran?



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