Let the Games Begin

The filing period is now closed and we definitely have an interesting primary ahead of us. Thanks to Chapel Hill Herald Editor Ray Gronberg for pointing out that the list of candidates is already available on the Orange County Board of Elections website (which, by the way has made no noticeable improvement since the last election day debacle).

So... who you like and why or why not?



So I looked at Pam Hemminger's website. She has a good looking family and has certainly been involved with an impressive array of civic groups.

But why is there no platform or agenda on the site? It seems to me that knowing what she wants to do in office is a fair request of any voter.

-John Sanford

I just checked out Foushee's web-site and there is absolutely nothing about specific policies she supports. She lists goals without any substantive info on how to specifically achieve them.


Fuzzy Wuzzy, there is so much more to Valerie Foushee than being able to speak clearly and eloquently. Please check out her web site to learn all about her. WWW.Val4orange.com. She really would be a FANTASTIC addition to the BOCC. While you're at it, please learn about another FANTASTIC BOCC candidate, Pam Hemminger, WWW.Pamhemminger.com. We REALLY need a change on the commissioners board. We need people who will respect their constituents as well as the other board members (including both school boards) and who will make decisions and get things done (ie spending bond monies)

Fuzzy Wuzzy, There is soooo much more to Valerie Foushee than being able to "think clearly and speak eloquently". I encourage you to visit her web site, WWW.Val4orange, to learn what this FANTASTIC candidate has to offer Orange County. Also, I invite you to visit the web site of Pam Hemminger, another EXCELLENT candidate for BOCC, to learn more about her. WWW.Pamhemminger.com. It is time for a change at the BOCC and these two candidates are just we need on the county commissioners board. They will listen and respect their constituents (and both school boards) as well as work to move forwad in our community. (ie spending bond monies)

Merger is the *only* strategy that has been proposed to achieve funding equity between our two local school systems. Claiming that everyone who wants funding equity is pro-merger is just simplistic. Are you saying that students in Orange Co shouldn't have access to the same quality and quantity of resources as CHCCS students have? Something is awry in school funding here and I don't understand the dissembling through use of emotional tactics, such as claims that CHCCS will suffer from long bus rides based on the assumption that merger equals redistricting.

The problem that needs to be discussed is funding inequity not merger. Should OCS be funded at the same per pupil rate as CHCCS? That's the primary question I will be asking of anyone running for either school board or county commissioner. Focusing on the means (merger being the only proposed means to date) to accomplishing something that hasn't even been agreed upon as a problem is just a smoke screen for maintaining the status quo.

Does this community believe that all Orange Co. children should have equal access to educational resources? Mr. Hartkopf?

Another letter in support of Foushee. Now we know she can "think clearly and speak eloquently". She is reported to be "sensitive" and "sensible". Her platform is filling in nicely. I have also heard that she always tips fairly at restaurants and rarely puts her elbows on the table. How refreshing!



Thank you for your follow-up post. I'm sorry that my post concerned you. Let me just say that those numbers were quoted in the press at the time and since by Kathy, myself and others and have never been questioned. Going strictly by the math, I certainly see your concern. More factored into the numbers and my decision. While we were actually engaged in the 2001 cycle, we were fairly new to Orange County politics and had the council of long-time Orange County residents that had seen bonds advertised to the public for one thing, yet spent on another or not spent at all. Evidence the bond for Efland water and sewer which has yet to be put in, but was approved years ago. Within the 2001 bonds there were promises of parks and senior centers for Northern Orange that have yet to even be planned. There were many who believed that the 16.4 million earmarked for a 3rd Orange County Middle School would end up being spent for a 3rd Chapel Hill/Carrboro High School. There was a belief that we did not need a 3rd middle school and one of the County Commisioners had been quoted as saying that the middle school was "simply a dangling carrot to get the people of Norther Orange to vote for the Bonds." Removing the 3rd middle shool would have taken the part of the bond referendum targeted for Orange County Schools down to 900,000 for Hillsborough Elementary. That's the school my daughters go to and they needed 900,000 so bad it hurt.

We have all come so far since then. Looking back and knowing what I know now, working against those bonds might not have been the wisest thing I ever did, but on principle was the right thing for me to do.

It also bears mentioning that the vast majority of those involved in the main group opposed to the 2001 Bond Package were life-long Democrats. At the time, I knew the Chairman of the Republican Party and had attended an Orange County GOP picnic, but that's about it. Since then Kathy, our friends, and I have tried to make a difference in the Orange County GOP. We have done so not because we want to be Grand Pubahs and Lord-God-King Republicans. We certainly did not do it because we blindly accept GOP dogma. I believe that better government results when the political parties compete.

From our limited discussions, I hope you will know that I believe in quality education. We have just lost our year-around middle school program, although year-around programs have proven to foster academic excellence. I want to restart and expand that and I have specific plans to do so. We have started the International Baccalaureate Program, but need to allocate more funds for it. We tried to get our system audited so we could free-up unused or ill-used resources, but only our administrative costs were included. The whole "Spanish Teachers" thing has left a bad taste in my mouth. It was the reason given by the pro-merger activists for their position and, frankly, it seemed ill-advised to chuck the whole system for about 30 contact minutes per week. That said, I don't believe in permanence or irreversibility. A segment of our population wants elementary Spanish, so we ought to meet that desire. We need to do something to keep our teachers teaching AND keep them in our community. Many of our teachers live in other counties. I would like to make it easier for them to live in Orange County. I have specific proposals for that too. As for Leandro and NCLB, I am very happy with Leandro. It makes clear that systems can no longer hold on to children they are failing. It permits the closest thing to choice in public education that I know of. NCLB is another matter. Frankly, I am having some difficulty getting beyond the hyperbole to find out if it really is doing what it is intended to do and whether or not that is something that I think should be done. I will say that I certainly have some concerns regarding NCLB. On taxes, let me be clear. I believe, and virtually every poll ever taken on the subject shows, that citizens will open their pocketbooks for education IF they believe the money will make a positive difference in our children's schools.

I believe that I am the only non-incumbent who is not pro-merger. Liz Brown's record stands on its own and one needs look no further than the FFICS literature she authored and the minutes of the merger hearings at which she spoke. I could go on, and boy would I like to, but why belabor the point. The other non-incumbent candidates have used the same code words, "address the funding disparity", that Ms. Brown, Ms. Hough, Ms. Thompson, Ms. Porco, and all the other FFICS members used throughout the merger hearings. They have been seen together at Board Watch Meetings (a Dana Thompson created group) and other both private and public meetings. Given that Ms. Brown called them together to come to the Board of Election on the last day of filing and that they stood on the sidewalk, together, scrambling to decide who should file and for what, casts serious concern about their motivations for me as a parent dependent upon OCS for my children's education. Add the fact that they will not directly say they are opposed to merger and ........... They huddled together talking and periodically embracing outside the Board of Elections after filing. They are intelligent people and obviously know that to win their respective seats, they must not be openly pro-merger. Liz has recently been quoted as saying "it was never about merger" and that "she never really wanted merger". Sure. We all just got pulled through the wringer for the fun of it. Sorry, but its not a ride I want to go on again.


I may have been insensitive to Al Hartkopf's feelings when I posted last night, so I will say that both he and his wife do have a record of participating in PTA, etc, in support of excellent public education. I think he ought to post his full position in a clearer statement than what he recently posted. Rather than focussing on the past, how about telling us what he would like to see in the future. Does he support funding a Spanish teacher at every elementary school? Where is he on the No Child Left Behind mandates, which have been undergoing national scrutiny due to the micro-groupings which must be managed? Would he support or oppose future bond issues to eliminate over-crowding or fix maintenance problems?

On a related topic, are any of the OCS School Board candidates besides Elizabeth Brown openly pro-merger? And how many of them actually have or had children in the public schools? Where do they stand on long bus rides, and 20% tax increases? I know I tread on dangerously thin ice here, since Ms. Halkiotis lambasted me for sticking my nose into OCS business, but I have a great deal of curiosity!

Regardless of one’s political party affiliation, the upcoming July 25th Democratic Primary is the important decision date! The last County Commission election saw the Democratic Primary winners easily sweep all opposing candidates.

This year, there are two refreshing Democratic candidates, Valerie FOUSHEE and Pam HEMMINGER. They should not be seen as one-issue candidates as they are not. Both have clear policy platforms, and I agree that links to their web sites would be helpful to informing voters.


You should add Mrs. Foushee's and Mrs. Hemminger's websites to the candidate notebook. Also, your link above has a period in it. Tip: I usually add a space after website and before the period when emailing and posting to blogs/forums. I know it's not grammatically correct, but it works. :-)





I posted a county-provided informational spreadsheet which shows the truth about the fairness of distribution of county bond funding, to the INFORM email list back in Nov, 2003. Anyone who wants it can get it from me, or from Donna Dean of the county finance office. Just ask for "Recap of CIP funding since 1988 for sharing.xls". It clearly shows that the 1997 bond monies were earmarked about 1:1, and 2001 bonds were about 3:2, as OCS vs CHCCS districts. This is a pretty fair match based on the total population at the time, although I know that the OCS district has ended up with a higher amount of CIP funding per pupil. This fairness is true looking at either the schools construction/renovation piece of the pie, or the park money. Why is Al claiming it was a 3:1 ratio? Could it be he never looked at the actual numbers, just took his opinion from the Republican party committee, or is he afraid to admit that he really was against any bond funding for the desperately over-crowded CHCCS district? This is the kind of anti-tax, anti-public-services approach which makes many parents in CHCCS scared to death of a school merger. Merger still is a big issue in this election, and opposition to merger is about the only issue I know for sure that both Al and I agree on.

Al--I argued against using voting records as the only means for making decisions about John Kerry in another thread. You've provided a great example to reinforce that point--for all candidates. We need more direct contact with our candidates in order to understand the 'whys' of a particular position. I hope other candidates will make themselves available on this forum as you have done. Given the current state of the corporate media, direct contact with candidates and elected officials is the only way I see to save our democracy.


The political committee of the local chapter of the

Sierra Club is looking for additional members to help

evaluate the candidates for the local upcoming

races. The process is well-regulated and (I believe)

fair, but due to the extremely tight schedule this

year, we need extra help. You must be a member

of the Sierra Club to serve on the committee. If you

are interested, please send a letter to Joe Capowski

at capowski@email.unc.edu

Whoops! My apologies to Mark, Ray, and Neil.

Thanks for the correction. I need to lay off the twinkies or something. :}

Hello all,

I thought that here, on a blog dedicated to Orange County, and now, on the leading edge of a campaign, would be a good opportunity to decloak. There is going to be a lot said and done between now and July 20 and it's going to be quite a ride. I look forward to it. My positions are pretty clear. My web site carries most of them, although it is under construction and contains a lot of information from last cycle. I'm working on updating it now. Let's get some dialog going, although I realize most of you cannot vote in the OCSB race. You are, however, persons of some opinion and that matters. You deserve respect for that. I have been active in the community and I expect I have made some enemies (shock, shock). One does not get much of anything accomplished and not upset somebody. It's likely that for every person upset on one side of a decision, there is somebody else upset on the other side of it. Sad, but true. But I'm really one heck of a nice guy and if you don't believe it, just ask me. I've made a lot of friends and gathered the respect of people I think pretty highly of and have really made a positive difference in peoples' lives. So what ever you want to talk about, let's get to it. Things are going to get real busy real fast and so I may not circle this blog waiting for the next post, but I or my Kitchen Cabinet will visit from time to time. As always, feel free to contact me directly. It's a public service thing and you are the public (Used to be the web was a counter-culture. My how things change. Anybody else remember BBs and usenet?)

There is one thing I would like to put out there from the outset. I was misrepresented by the "Independent" last cycle and I want to be clear on this issue: the bonds I opposed 3 years ago. The Indy sent me a questionnaire which I found pretty reasonable and germane so I completed and returned it. It did not ask about the bonds in any way. Later, when they published their voting guide. ". . . candidates we can't endorse? Al Hartkopf, who campaigned against a school bond issue last year . . . " It was like they never read any of my answers, but had formed an opinion and published it without allowing me to address it. Had they asked me about this item, I would have given the answer I gave at a public forum some days after. It went a lot like this: I worked against and voted against those bonds because they were unjust. They distributed money unfairly. Chapel Hill and Carrboro outnumber the rest of Orange County by 2 to 1, but the proceeds of those bonds went to Chapel Hill and Carrboro at a rate of over 3 to 1. That is not equitable, fair, or just. I wanted that money in the community as bad as anyone else. My daughter was going to a school that was in terrible need of repairs. We had schools that had no playground equipment. We needed parks. It simply was not an equitable distribution and that is why I opposed them. I would have thought that the Indy, what with their mission of "building a just community" would have been interested in the justness ofthe bonds and remaining just in their treatment of candidates. We'll see how they manage this cycle.

A very wise old man told me, "Son, don't ever pick a fight with a man that orders his ink by the truckload." I'm not looking for a fight, simply a just community. Now you know the rest of the story and I will dismount my soapbox. There are voters to go see!

Have fun and remember, every day above ground is a good day!


Actually, it was fellow commenter Mark Peters who noted the availability of the candidates list from Orange County. Had it occurred to me, I would instead have pointed folks to the Herald-Sun's VoteBook site. The Orange listings are available there at http://www.heraldsun.com/votebook/races.cfm?County=Orange. As July 20 nears, you'll find basic data about each candidate linked to their name, along with the candidate's answers to an extensive and very helpful questionnaire.

And just for clarification, I'm the assistant editor. I appreciate the implied compliment, but I'm happy playing Robin to Neil's Batman.


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