An open invitation to Orange County candidates

Last night, I sent the following e-mail to all of the declared candidates in 2009 municipal and school board races:

Hello, candidates. Congratulations on your decision to stand for election in Orange County this year!  In case you are not aware of it, I'd like to introduce you to the progressive local politics blog OrangePolitics and ask you to contribute to this online community of people interested in Orange County issues. (If you already know about OP, or even are a regular participant (or a regular critic), please excuse the generic e-mail. I thought it would be most fair to send the exact same information to all the candidates regardless of their disposition to the site.)

I started OrangePolitics in an attempt to make municipal, school, and county issues more engaging. Since 2003, we have shared breaking news, foisted both expert and novice opinions, live-blogged public meetings, hosted hot debates, and influenced many a news story. Our specialty has been highlighting local problems that might otherwise be forgotten and putting them on public agenda, but our primary goal is to get progressive Orange County residents to focus on local issues where they can really have an impact.  You can learn more about OP at .

Each year, we post a special section of non-partisan election information, such as , but the rest of the site is opinion-based blog entries. For example here is the talk about last year's municipal elections: . Thousands of local residents visit the site around election time to get more information about candidates and issues, so it's a great way to reach out to potential voters while also getting to know (and be known by) the influential activists, journalists, and community leaders who are often active on the site.

There are several ways that you can get involved on OP to promote yourself and your issues, and also help Orange County voters be better informed:

1. Participate! Create an account on the site at and start commenting.  You can also post blog entries without moderation at, so you will have your own blog at as well as a profile at (Learn more at and .)

2. Add events. Post calendar items at The campaign season is so busy, and there is no comprehensive list of events where voters can meet and learn about the candidates. User-contributed events are displayed at, and upcoming events are shown on the bottom of every page on the site.

3. Keep OP in the loop. Add me to your media list. Many candidates send announcements to local reporters, local bloggers are interested too!  We love to break news as soon it's available but will also respect any reasonable requests to embargo information for a limited time.

If enough candidates participate, I will set-up a special way to highlight you and your profiles on the site.

Thank you for your willingness to serve the public. I know quite well what a thankless and tiring job it is, and campaigning is as difficult as serving!  Please let me know if you have any questions about me or OrangePolitics. I look forward to seeing you on the site!

= Ruby

Ruby Sinreich
Founder, editor, Blogger-in-Chief


I should have also added that I welcome URLs to add to our election info. One candidate already sent me her web site address. A couple responded just to say they were "declining" my offer to get involved on OP, which I think was intended as a way to declare themselves in opposition to me, my positions, or the members of OP in general. That's fine with me, I never intended or claimed to represent every person or every view in the County.



It should be public knowledge.

Mark,If Ruby sent her email to an elected official's email address and that official responded from such then I think it would be OK to publish their response since they are using public facilities.  However, if it was sent to a private email address I think the issue of publishing the candidate's response is one that Ruby should decide for herself but I don't see that she is necessarily obligated in any way to do so.

your thinking on this?  Public knowledge to participate or not on a person's private Blog?  What's your logic on this.  Won't we know the answer by default?

Is it Ruby's playspace or community-"owned"? 

Bill Strom is getting hung out to dry becaue he is in the public arena. The candidates are in the public arena. Plus, if they don't have what it takes to go public with their decisions about communicating withg local media, then voters need to know. This is not a private blog - Fred, that's absurd.

Where does the funding come from?  How is oversight exercised?  Not bad criteria to use to sort through this.

Ruby is a Chinese triple agent.  I think I heard Limbaugh say that yesterday. This blog is coated in lead paint.  Wash your hands after visiting.

Not me.  I love my heated discussions with Fred Black on OP.

Ruby wrote this about those candidates who declined to become involved with OP: A couple responded just to say they were "declining" my offer to get involved on OP, which I think was intended as a way to declare themselves in opposition to me, my positions, or the members of OP in general. That's fine with me, I never intended or claimed to represent every person or every view in the County.Ruby, unless they told you why they declined, you simply don't know why.  To assume that they have declared themselves in opposition to you is ridiculous.  There are many reasons why they may have declined, and the reasons may have nothing to do with their positions on the progressive-to-conservative spectrum.    

invitation.  I get a lot of my insights into orange politics from, and would love to see more candidate participation.  I think online participation is especially important in this day & age, and especially in a town with so many young people.

 I did not decline.  I support OP and always have.  It's an excellent source of discourse and information.  I am an elected official, so consider that "official".Since I'm an elected official, I receive emails that are of the public record. So if you were to "search" my official town emails you would see that Will Raymond declined, as did Brian Voyce.   They "replied to all" in their declinations, so it really isn't private, at least now. Laurin  

I would not have predicted less from the "Braying Voice". However, I would have expected Will Raymond, a true public warrior,  to embrace full public debate. Now Matt Cz - he's new to town and from a bonafide Wall Street perspective. He's bound to have a different perspective.

Needless to say, I did not decline.

I will not do it because Ruby has a history of heavily editing what other people write.  I can't trust that what I say will be translated correctly in this forum.  Because of that, it is better not to say anything at all, than it is to risk being mis-quoted.

OK, whoever-you-are, please point to any instance of me editing the content of a registered OP user. When stuff is problematic, I discuss with the author or take it down. Once or twice I thought an anonymous comment had a good point combined with some unacceptable* remarks. I edited out the problematic parts so that I could publish the comment.  Again: this has never happened when users register and put an authenticated identity behind their words.* Definition of unacceptable, in this context:

Given what you are saying here, do you agree that this is a private blog? (Not to be confused with the great public purposes that it serves)

Is OrangeChat a private blog?  How about the comments on the Herald-Sun Website?  Are they 'private blogs?'  I fail to see the difference - except that the editorial bias of this site is stated plainly: Progressive perspectives on Orange County, NC.

OP is owned and operated by Ruby and she is the decider - the deciber of the rules and their interpretation.  She can let people join or not, block ttheir content or not, and edit as she desires.  The only public accountability is what she desires it to be.  When papers got into this arena, they worried about these issues, but like their print versions, they say they have a degree of public accountability for their products.  I think it's fine if folks don't like the distinctions that I'm making, but the real issue is that becaus OP exists, no candidate should feel compelled to participate, especially given the playground-like taunt that Mark M tosses out:  if you don't play, yyou have some kind of problem.  Joe C has it right; I also hope that he applies for the Council seat.

I didn't understand what your point was in asking this until you posted the above, Fred. Let me state plainly that I have never felt that ANYONE has an obligation to participate on OP. I think you'll recall that the following statement has been part of the site's guidelines for many years:

Please do not demand responses (from elected officials, local media, the editors, or others) to your comments. No-one has any official obligation to read or respond to what is written.

As for your question of whether the blog is public, I do see it as similar to other local media. It's privately owned and so I do set and enforce the rules (by default), but I maintain it for what I see as a public purpose so I follow policies that I think best serve the greater good (as I understand it), not just myself personally. For example, I think it is more useful to have a gently moderated platform that requires authenticated identities than a pure free speech zone where anything goes.  I offer moderated anonymous comments to allow for more voices, but people aren't entitled to a soapbox here if they're not willing to validate an e-mail address. There are other websites that are less stringent about identity and manners, and I still believe the more the merrier with regard to local online discussion (as long as no-one gets hurt). Really, I don't even see HOW a private institution COULD require participation by anyone. I simply wanted to be as fair as possible by sending the same invitation to all of the candidates so that everyone has the same opportunity to jump in if they like.  I don't assume that they all know what OP is or how they can use it.

Just guessing - but I'll bet he doesn't have the cajones to venture into authentic public debate.

With all due respect, I notice that Mark objected to speculation regarding Bill Strom's particularly timed resignation, but has no problem speculating about Matt C's cajones or lack thereof..... Regarding Bill Strom's timing he wrote:  "Since no-one knows the truthful answer to that question, how does encouraging speculation about it help to clarify the issue? (Or is the goal here to muddy the issue...)"Speculation is a knife that cuts both ways.  

An invitation was issued and it's been interpreted as a public debate. Perhaps its that mixed message that has prevented some candidates from feeling  this is an environment where minds will be open to differing points of view.

Matt C has plenty of cajones, he's shown that by going against the grain when the rest of council was rubber stamping. And Mark M, you should be respectul about the way you speak about Chapel Hill's next mayor.

I asked this question 2 years ago and I ask it again today. Why not sign in? Why be {Submitted by Anonymous}


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