Jason Baker's blog

Chapel Hill Advisory Board Reorganization Moves Forward

Up on Monday's Town Council agenda is the next iteration of the advisory board reorganization process. I have generally supported reworking the advisory board structure to ensure that the work of citizen board members is meaningful and provides Council with the type of input they need in order to make decisions. Making advisory boards' role in development review clearer for developers, and citizens, isn't a bad idea either. But the proposal the Town Council is considering Monday night isn't ready for adoption yet. While I think the committee descriptions are reasonably sound in a broad sense, it isn't clear to me that the proposals have been fully vetted by the existing town boards to be sure that all current board responsibilities have been captured and assigned.

OP upgrade work is underway

Although it may be down the totem pole in your interest list given the number of interesting political happenings of late, I just wanted to give everyone a quick update about the OP upgrade currently underway. I have been working with Ruby over the past several months to implement a much-needed upgrade of this site from Drupal 5 to Drupal 7.

State Senator Ellie Kinnaird Resigns

From an email just received:

Dear Friends,

This is my last newsletter to you. After a great deal of thought, I have decided to resign my position in the North Carolina Senate. It has been a great privilege and I have been honored to be chosen to represent the people of this district. Thank you for the opportunity to serve in this way, thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas and for your support over the years.

County names new CIO: what do you hope is on his todo list?

We've had several discussions lately about what some of us would like to see from county government in terms of communications and information technology. Perhaps the county naming a new Chief Information Officer will be an opportunity for a new focus in the county on open data, open standards, and information access. What do you think? The first item on my wishlist (half jokingly) would be to have him work with Public Affairs to find a better solution than using Microsoft Office to format emailed press releases. Why? Because Microsoft's use of proprietary stylesheets makes the formatting of documents break when text is copied into other programs, unless I go through and manually edit the code.

I know the folks in county government are hard working people with a lot on their plate, so I hope any suggestion is given (and received, too) as well-meaning constructive feedback. From an Orange County press release:

Intentionally disenfranchising students (and others)

It’s about to get a lot harder to vote in Orange County, at least for some of us.

The Republican majority in the General Assembly clearly feels that the racist, anti-woman, anti-urban, and very anti-liberal redistricting which took place last year didn’t do enough to solidify their entrenched majority. Now they’re hard at work systematically disenfranchising people who are unlikely to vote for them. Stringent voter identification requirements, shortened early voting, and other impediments to voting have been proposed in the General Assembly and are all likely to pass.

But of particular note to us in Orange County is the aptly-numbered Senate Bill 666. The most significant change in SB 666 isn’t in chapter 163 which governs elections; rather, it’s a change to the tax code:

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