Catch me up (open thread)

So what did I miss? :-)

Total votes: 370

Comments

OK, biting my tongue, but a bit more from the HeraldSun

CHAPEL HILL -- A revised redevelopment plan for downtown would postpone the construction of a building complex on East Rosemary Street and would cut the cost of the project to $75 million.
....
Because of rising costs in the construction industry, a town negotiating committee had to re-evaluate an earlier proposal from Ram Development Co. That proposal would have transformed the town's parking Lot 5 and the area around the Wallace parking deck into a mixture of condominiums, retail businesses, and public and private parking.
....
The new proposal, which would focus only on the parking lot, would keep the cost at the original $75 million estimate. The developer would commit to invest $12.5 million of equity in the project.

Terri, I've said I'll hold my tongue on the plans until we see the final proposal - which is this Monday. That said, what was reported today is not very encouraging:

The complex would be located on Parking Lot No. 5 between Franklin and Rosemary streets along the east side of Church Street. It would include:

* Three attached buildings, 104 feet tall at their highest point;
* 28,540 square feet of commercial space;
* A public plaza approximately two-thirds of an acre in size;
* 137 residential condominiums, including 21 designated as affordable; and
* 330 underground parking spaces.

Town's PR here.

And the initiative's home:

Downtown Economic Development Initiative
Last Modified: 2/28/2006 11:32:28 AM
(how's that for keeping us in the loop ;-l )

Apparently the town's contribution to the construction on the Lot 5 redevelopment project has grown from $500,000 to $7.5 million. Now THAT is inflation.

Guess I haven't been paying attention, was the Wallace Deck project taken off the table before the latest round of negotiations? It was the only part of the project that I really liked.

I had a wonderful time at the event on Friday. As you can see from the pic, I waited patiently for J. Grisham and the Coach to finish. I had a short, but very pleasant conversation with Mr. Grisham. I told him about my work and the organization I recently joined. I added a bit about my work under my picture on my blog. I hope you all check it out. Unlike CDPL where I worked the last 6 years, the Fair Trial Initiative operates much more closely to the ground and relies on the support of people like you. I hope you'll click on the link. Our website is not up to date. A whole new design is being created as I write and should be launched soon. Nonethless, the old site still has some good information about the organization, as well as a way you can contribute to our work.

:) Please forgive the plug, I promise not to do it again.

It was chilling listening to Grisham relate how he came to write his first nonfiction work. Usually at these things, people start fidgeting a couple of minutes into the remarks, but Grisham held people spellbound. He was also gracious enough to let people take pictures with him, especially the young people who were working the party.

Mark K. observed after the remarks that the Williamson story is just one of many. Thankfully, there are people like him who fight the death penalty.

PS: In the print version of the CHN, Mark K. is cropped out but another Mark on his left - Mark Bayles of the CHPL is shown. The print version just wouldn't go far enough to the left! :-)

Yeah, but John F-ing Grisham, baby! He dislikes the death penalty as much as I do, and so he goes and writes about a wrongful conviction, using his celebrity to draw attention to injustice in a thoughtful and very public way. He's one of the good guys. And "A Time to Kill" was a legitimately excellent work of fiction. He's on my lawyer-writer hall of fame wall, next to Scott Turow and Patricia Bryan (along with husband Tom Wolfe, not a lawyer but a great writer).

I couldn't find another good open thread to post this, so I'm using this one:

Nice photo of Mark K. with John Grisham and Roy Williams in today's News. I'd have liked to have been listening in on that conversation. I never meet anyone famous.

Duncan-

You don't need to meet anyone famous because you yourself are! That was drummed into me last Christmas when I picked up a magazine on my parents' coffee table in Michigan with a foot of snow outside and opened it up to an article of yours. I told them, 'hey, I blog with that guy!'

Can't remember what it was, but I thought that was cool.

Ruby,

Here's some exciting news about one of our frequent contributors. I heard this morning from Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos that last week the North Carolina Municipal Attorneys' Association awarded Gerry Cohen, a former Chapel Hill Alderman and current director of Legislative Drafting, the Ernest H. Ball Award for Outstanding Contribution and Service in the field of Municipal Law. Notably, this isn't an award that's handed out annually. It's only presented when outstanding candidates emerge and distinguish themselves above a crowd of very competent peers.

Congratulations Gerry on receiving this well deserved honor.

Congratulations, Gerry!!

Ruby,

Any chance we can start a new thread for Gerry? I'm sure there will be others who will want to congratulate him AND bring you up to speed on what's happening.

since this is an open thread, let me use this space to congatulate the dem voters in conn. for choosing ned lamont as their senatorial candidate. they showed great courage in sacrificing their place at the trough and voting their conscience. their collective act may very well hasten the return of our soldiers and save thousands of american families the horror of losing a loved one for an unholy cause.

thank you conn. dems for rekindling my hope that change will come sooner rather than later !

kent

Just a quick note on some changes on Concerned Citizen.

First, a small digression and a big thank you.

Most netizens met me first as a commenter on other peoples blogs (usually, but not always, as WillR). In the last 3 years, in a testament to Ruby's patience, over 1300 comments alone on OP - over %6 of OP's total comments.

Thank you for your forebearance Ruby. And thank you OP readership for your generally welcoming acceptance ;-).

I created a site for my 2005 Town Council run - primarily as an alternative to the local media (whom, with the exception of the Daily Tar Heel, generally didn't cover the race). WillRaymond.org was a memorable 'net locale for the electorate to check-in on my platform and my analysis of local issues.

After the election, I "rebranded" the site as Concerned Citizen and continued my focus on local issues not covered elsewhere (notably here on OP , SqueezeThePulp or a slew of other local 'blogs [Sally's, Mark's, Jason's, etc.]).

During March's SxSW Interactive I realized I needed to bifurcate my voice and my sites. I wasn't interested in documenting my life (something it appears most bloggers do) but I did want to comment on some issues - technology, national problems, volcanoes, SxSW - orthogonal to my local activism. With that in mind, I purchased the CitizenWill domains.

Why CitizenWill? It's kind of a play on "will power","the Will of the People", the name of this concerned citizen, etc.

OK, that's a long wind up for a brief announcement.

I'm finally splitting my sites. ConcernedCitizen continues as CitizenWill at CitizenWill.org. The rest of my crufty material is split between Will Raymond Stands and Delivers in 2005, my ironically named 2005 campaign site and Will Raymond.org.

As I struggled to publish on my own 'blogs, I've commented, probably to the relief of some OP'ers, much less frequently. I imagine with the demands of managing three sites, other writing commitments, family, work, hands-on activism and "real life", my flow comments to OP will diminish further.

Don't worry though, I'll continue reading everything you folks write and jump in when necessary ;-).

Kent, I hope it stiffens the resolve of "you know who" to stand firm NOW and demand a real plan for withdrawal, demand that our Constitutional rights be restored, demand that the abuses and corruption of the Administration be investigated, demand that we set a new course for our country.

Unfortunately, I believe the Dems will piffle around until after November, using the "play it safe" strategy that lost both Kerry and Gore their elections, while more than 100 Iraqii's die daily, while another 200 or 300 of our citizens perish for no good reason.

well, I'll combine two parts of this thread -- thanks for the congratulations on the Ernie Ball/Municipal Law award. About 50% of my job since I started at the General Assembly in 1977 relates to municipal (city and county) law, another 25% to election law. Ralph Karpinos was the award presenter and introduced me at the ceremony in Asheville Saturday nigtht!

And I'm also glad about the Lamont victory, though it's bittersweet. I first met Joe Lieberman in 1970 when we both worked in the same US Senate campaign in Connecticut -- a campaign that arose out of the anti-Vietnam war movement that both of us were involved in.

While I greatly appreciate the significance of the Lamont victory over Lieberman in terms of a strong expression of disapproval over our presence in Iraq, can anyone who has followed this more closely than me discuss the likelihood of Lieberman splitting the Democratic vote in November and allowing a Republican to gain that Senate seat?

It's deja vu all over again.

In the 1970 Connecticut US Senate campaign, incumbent Democrat Tom Dodd, knowing he would lose the primary, had his own party on the fall ballot. Joe Duffey (who Lieberman and I worked for), won the August Democratic primary in a 3-way race, but Dodd and Duffey split the Democratic vote in November, allowing Republican Lowell Weicker to win the US Senate seat.

The Democratic parimary in August was a 3-way race, Duffey (a minister), Ed Marcus (a state senator from new Haven) and Al Donohue. The legislative primaries were in mid September, and when Marcus lost the US Senate primary, the next morning he filed papers to run for his old State senate seat, just hours before the deadline. His opponent? Joe Lieberman, who handily trounced Marcus four weeks after Marcus' first loss.

One of the supporters of Lieberman in the September State Senate primary in 1970 -- Yale Law student Bill Clinton. (who had also worked in the Duffey campaign)

George-

The Republican candidate, who would have been pretty weak to begin with, has been beset by report after report of personal issues, largely relating to his gambling problem.

At one point the GOP was trying to force him off the ballot so they could choose a new nominee but he has adamantly refused.

Now there are reports that the White House will do what it can to help Lieberman, most importantly by ceasing the effort to swap Republican nominees.

So it is unlikely Schlesinger will pull more than 25-30% of the vote and even that is a stretch. Lamont and Lieberman should both outpace him so it's no problem.

I still think Lieberman will end up dropping out, although he was certainly being feisty last night.

Well, we just all missed the arrest of a teacher at Phillips Middle School for solicitation of a minor for an unlawful sex act. I just got a call from the school system. WRAL.com has more details.

Dang, Anita! The specific story is here: http://www.wral.com/news/9656049/detail.html

It's notable that he was soliciting on the Internet, not at school. But still... yuck!

My best friend, my former college roomate, moved to England a couple of years ago (to be closer to his wife's (an Englishwoman) parents. He likes to refer to himself (kiddingly, I think) as a Luddite. I've been his technical guru(if you saw me type you'd realize what a joke that is) for setting up and using e-mail and now, with a new business venture of his (a daylily nursery), for setting up and using PayPal and E-Bay.

Unfortunately, when I read stories like the one that just appeared (concerning a CH teacher soliciting sex from minors on the internet) I sometimes begin to wonder whether we've let the genie out of the bottle. I'm asking all of you technically-gifted digital gurus out there in OP Land: how do we keep this wonderfully effective and productive technology from being used and abused to the point that the conservatives decide that shutting it down makes the most sense?

George, it's important to remember that abuse of children, in whatever manor, existed well before the advent of the Internet. It's a new tool, perhaps, but not a new crime. Outlawing the Internet to eliminate child sexual abuse would be like banning beer steins to eliminate alcoholism.

For what it's worth, the American Library Association is one of the best national advocates I know for keeping information free and accessible via the web. They have worked hard, for example, to fight bogus filters they don't work. Right now they are working against the dreadful DOPA ("Deleting Online Predators Act") bill passed by the House. This bill, if law, would basically make libraries who receive federal funds remove access to chat rooms and "social networking sites" from the Internet in the library. (It bears noting that OP is one example, I think, of a "social networking site.)

CBS news can explain this much better than I can:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/01/scitech/pcanswer/main1853357.s...

So the question is how can we protect kids? Well, it's up to parents to watch what their kids are doing online. Too many parents cede technology-related activity to their kids and give up control. I think you could make an argument to conservatives that rather than limiting the Internet, what we really need are closer families. How could they argue with that?

And, it bears noting that these same technologies give students so much access to great information they haven't had otherwise. I used to work at a reference desk at a library at UNC, and we would sometimes get instant messaging questions from local high school students, whom we were glad to help.

Joan,

Thank you for your comments and information. I certainly don't want to see the internet censored or outlawed - quite the contrary. In my line of work (medical research) it has opened up utilization of information on an exponential scale. What I am concerned about is the backlash that might (perhaps inevitably) will occur as more and more instances of child sex abuse (and identify theft, etc) are ascribed to this relatively new medium of communication.

I think that your suggestion that parents need to be more involved is certainly aimed in the right direction. But how to do that? How do we convince parents that the digital age offers them and their children wonderful opportunities but, at the same time, cautioning them that these opportunities have the potential to do serious harm to their children? We can't expect them (the parents) to necessarily come up with the solutions on their own. We need to help them maximize their and their children's use of these technologies while maintaining their children's safety and preserving the rights of all the citizens. I don't, for a minute, think that this is an easy task. But we are very fortunate to have a wonderfully intelligent and creative group of tech-savvy people in this community who probably have already committed a great deal of thought to this problem. And while this is a national problem, I see no reason that we can't begin to try to solve it on a local basis first.

A friend named Andy Carvin wrote an interesting article called A Virtual ID Card for Kids: Will It Keep Them Safe?. Its basically about a man in Glasgow who created a system to protect children online called NetIDme. it sounds good. Not sure how well it will do because it is new. I really recommend Andy's blog called learning.now over at the PBS website.

I agree with Joan. Parental involvement is key. But to be truly effective parents need to learn more about the Internet. (ex. how the Internet works, what is easy to do and what is not, how to be a good netizen, etc.) To me its a matter of raising technical literacy among adults. Also fostering the desire to learn new things.

IMHO, To learn more about technology you really have to get excited and have a reason. What reason is more important to a parent than their children's safety? Then you can learn ALL you need to know about the Internet ON the Internet. But asking a friend to show you around can certainly help.

One way to do that is by attending one of our regular blogger meetups. They'll start up again soon. Check the website Blogtogether.org. We love to talk about the Internet. I promise many of us are able to answer questions with out being complete nerds. :)

Brian,

I really appreciate the value of your ideas and suggestions. But I don't think that suggesting that parents attend blogger meetings is the solution - or certainly not the only one. Not that this wouldn't help, but you're asking the parents to reach out for help in a way that assumes they can justify their expenditure of time and energy in terms of the problem it solves. But that requires that they believe and accept that such blogger meetings will indeed provide the help they need. Rather than waiting for the parents to come to you I would suggest that you try to come up with a way to take your solutions to the parents (I'm not necessarily trying to put the burden on you as an individual but you and your compeers have skill sets that many [most] of us will never lay claim to). And while the easy response to this suggestion might be to say that the parents, with their vested interests (i.e., their children) have the responsibility for taking the initiative, I think that we all have a strongly-vested interest in securing the future for the generations that follow us. I think that we've become increasingly aware of that responsibility as it pertains to the physical environment so why not as it pertains to the digital (informational?) environment?

I think you are right George C. I don't expect parents to come to us computer geeks. It was only a invitation to coffee with those who can help. :)

I really believe in the importance of adult education. There're as many different kinds as there are people but... one i see is technical literacy. Tech stuff can be baffling and complicated. I just want to encourage techies to be nurturing and caring enough to say, "Hey! I finds stuff complicated too. How can we learn together?" If parents understand the Internet they will be MUCH better prepared to protect their children.

how weak is the pub senatorial candidate in conn? during an interview last night ken mehlman(national gop party leader) refused to endorse the pub candidate. couple that with the abc news report that karl rove has contacted the liberman campaign to offer support, and it becomes ever more clear that the "kiss" was quite sincere.

i wonder how paul feels today knowing that he supported(supports ? ) karl rove's favorite dem. ?

One thing we did that really seemed to make a difference was to put our computer right in the middle of the family room, where we gather to talk, watch TV or read. That way no computer surfing goes on behind closed doors. Our kids spend less time on it too.

We did the same Anita, back in the early days of the web. I think too many parents see the internet the same way that they saw their TV - as a cheap babysitter. Way too many kids now have high speed Internet connected computers in their rooms and their parents have no idea where they go when online. Many of these parents are also in denial when it comes to what their kids might be curious about. Educating them about the technical aspects of the Internet is great, but they first need a healthy dose of common sense. I hope that more will have their eyes opened to this issue.

Kent, I'm assuming I am the "Paul" you refered to above, since I posted in response to a question several weeks ago from Marc Marcapolos that I hoped Lieberman would win.

And I did. But since I gave him no money and couldn't vote for him, I don't see how I "supported" him.

He has never been one of my favorites, but I thought he had experience and "gravitas" and has personal integrity.
Nothing against Lamont, who seems a fine fellow.

But I said all along that he needed to abide by the will of the Democratic voters and he now needs to drop his Indy run and help Ned Lamont get elected.

One interesting aspect of the Connecticut race is that Lamont's victory was slim and the largest voting block in the state are independents. With a good number of them and some Republican and Democrat supporting him, Lieberman could win. If he does, he is in a good bargining position when it comes to committee assignments, etc. in the next Congress, irrespective of who controls the Senate.

With Karl Rove's offers of help (which has been reported) - plus the help of Big Energy (Lieberman was a big water-carrier for Enron) and the War Profiteers - Mr. Integrity will at least have a solid war chest, so to speak.

And I heard that Lieberman has been claiming that Lamont's victory aids the terrorists. What's a Progressive Democrat to do?

paul, like many dem regulars(eg. hillary,kerry,price)you are late to the party, but better late than never. welcome aboard !

and as fred comments, i think that lieberman will be the frontrunner when the next poll comes out. can the rove machine orchestrate a lieberman victory ? stay tuned...

mark, i read lieberman's comments about lamont's victory aiding the terrorists in today's durham paper. does that have rove's fingerprints all over it or what ?

Kent, thanks for the welcome, but I have always been "aboard." As a long-time party activist who votes in every election, I have always believed that, despite my personal choice in a Democratic primary, the will of my fellow Democrats is the important thing. The only exception would be if the Democratic candidate was not credible, i.e., a Lyndon LaRouche supporter; he is nominally a Democrat and they have a small core in the party everywhere, it appears, several of their members at the NC Democratic State convention, which I attended as a delegate.

I read Tom Jensen's column about David Price in today's CH Herald & didn't see any mention of his stance on the merciless Israeli war. I was out of town for the last few weeks - does anybody know if Price had the common political decency to speak out against this tragic carnage?

Mark, I'm really curious. What is your suggested response to a terrorist attack on a nation by a terrorist group? Isreal told them what their response would be and then did what they said they would.

What sould Rep. Price do, say they have no right to defend themselves?

Mark, so you believe Hezbollah has no blame here? I find that difficult to believe. Please clarify your position.

Enquiring minds want to know!

On the subject of online sexual predators, a new study showed that the frequency of young people being approached sexually online has gone down 25%. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060809/wr_nm/crime_sex_dc_1

Ruby,

That reported decrease (it was actually greater than 31%) is certainly welcome news but the article reports that 13% of the 1500 young people surveyed last year still reported sexual adavances. When you extrapolate this figure to all of the young children using the internet today it becomes a staggering figure. And perhaps even more alarming is that the article states that 4% of the children were approached aggressively, i.e., with suggestions of meeting offline.

The bottom line, from this survey, is that 3 out of every 1000 children approached online wnt on to meet with their sexual predator offline. I don't know what that number would be on an absolute basis but I know that it is very large and I think every responsible citizen should be alarmed and angered. Unfortunately this wonderful medium is being used and abused by some of the most unsavory elements of today's society.

Don't forget to give a lot of credit to the boy's father for discovering the solicitation and contacting the authorities. This shows how important it is to communicate with your child and monitor their internet access!

laurad,

I agree that the boy's father should be commended for being vigilant in this matter. But those statistics from the article Ruby provided the link to suggest that we have a more than serious problem. To put those numbers in perspective (3 out of 1000 children contacted meeting their predator): for those who drive regularly, it is safe to say that you get in your cars at least 4 times/day or 1400 times per year. Would 4 serious accidents per year be acceptable? I'm sure it would be acceptable to neither your families nor your insurance company nor DMV. But that's the same percentage as that of children meeting their predators offline. Likewise, the FDA would never approve a drug that had 3 serious adverse events per 1000 uses. And I could go on and on.

Although it is encouraging that the overall numbers decreased in the last 5 years I would have to assume that the predators, like other criminals that choose to use the internet, will refine their techniques and approaches. The sophistication that is now routinely being used by the phishers is one example. I can't help but think that the use of more sophisticated techniques by the predators will make their detection ever more difficult. Thus I hope the industry will make it one of their goals to develop even more sophisticated techniques for detecting and blocking these predators and that it will increase its campaign to warn parents, educators and law enforcement of the dangers.

The particular case in mind (the local allegation) is an interesting case because we're all forgetting here that this person (whether guilty or not) had access to kids all day, every day at work. So while the internet perhaps opened up new possibilities, it doesn't change the fact that people who want to exploit children can find other avenues to do so--like teaching and coaching at a middle school.

Joan,

I still think that the internet offers more opportunities for such predators to look for victims while minimizing the chances that they'll be observed. I believe that you said earlier in this thread that such predators have always been around and I agree. But I also believe that the internet has emboldened many predators who would have thought twice about approaching a child in a public place.

George, you might be right--I'm not going to dig for them, but I'm sure there are statistics out there about known incidences of child sexual abuse and how that's changed over the years. Then again, maybe the reason we are hearing more about this is because there are more arrests and more people being caught. Maybe you're more likely to get caught as an online predator than as, say, a family priest or school teacher. I don't mean to suggest I'm not concerned about all this. But I also know that hearing something in the news a lot doesn't necessarily mean it's happening more.

Paul & Fred,

If you get your news straight from the usual mainstream sources, you would miss what the rest of the world knows well & can be found in a variety of places - that Israel has used its superior military (supplied primarily by the U.S.) to kill way more Palestinians, Lebanese, etc. than Israelis have been killed. Fox, NPR, CNN, etc. would have you believe that Israelis are the target of random deranged terrorists that just have no rational explanation.

Most recently, Israel has been provoking Hezbollah with military strikes since last May (at the behest of the U.S.) and finally got what they wanted - a minor and predictable incident in response that they could use as cover for the planned attack.

Price knows this - as do most of the Congress - yet they endorse the killing.

So Mark, again I ask: you believe that Hezbollah is entirely blameless? By your answer I would say you do, but perhaps you could clarify your clarification, as you didn't mention it one way or the other.

Paul,

I forwarded your question to my Red Herring Department and they responded by quoting my mother when she told me that "it takes two to tango". They then also reminded me that when my sister hit me with a baseball bat after I had repeatedly shoved her, that my mother did not consider her to be innocent but she was appalled when I expressed my desire to retaliate by wiring up explosives to blow up her bedroom while she and several friends were having a sleepover.

Thanks for that nugget of Marcoplos family history Mark, but it would have been nice if you answered my question.

But that's your decision

Paul, Mark's entitled to his opinion and you are not required to share it or even understand it. Unless you have something new to add, let's move on.

Ruby, did I not post that it was Mark's decision not to answer directly if he wishes?

And of course he is entitled his opinion, but what exactly is his opinion anyway?

And how can I agree or disagree when I don't know what his opinion is?

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