Sierra Club Endorsements

Laurin Easthom has posted the list of Sierra Club endorsees on her blog.

They are:

-Mark Kleinschmidt for Mayor

-Laurin, Ed Harrison, Penny Rich, and Jim Merritt for Town Council.

Particular congratulations here should go to Harrison and Rich, each of whom were not endorsed by the organization in their last campaigns but earned the nod this time and are well deserving.  Will Raymond received the endorsement over Ed in 2005 but has not in 2007 or this year.

How much do all of these endorsements matter?  I'm doing a scientific poll of Chapel Hill voters the weekend before the election and will ask respondents if they care about the Sierra Club, Independent, and Chapel Hill News endorsements and if so whether it moves them in a positive or negative direction.  It will be interesting to see some hard data on something we have always just speculated about.

Sierra Club/Independent endorsees do tend to win, but I think that's largely a function of the strongest candidates earning the endorsements rather than the endorsements making them the strongest candidates.

Issues: 

Total votes: 202

Comments

Tom, your point about the change from the Sierra Club's 2005 and 2007 endorsements is interesting. I would guess it mostly has to with having 4 years to get to know these repeat candidates better, as well as just the changing context from year to year.

Also, I think you're right that endorsements generally indicate who has the strongest campaigns, not that they make the campaigns stronger themselves. Although there is definitely momentum to be had.

I don't understand why people pay any attention to endorsements.  If I knew someone personally and I generally agreed with them politically then I'd heed their endorsement of a candidate but otherwise, no way.I don't know anything about the Sierra Club other than that they claim to advocate for the environment.  Then again, lots of times people that advocate for the environment promote things that simple common sense tells me isn't good for the environment.  So a Sierra Club endorsement doesn't affect me one way or the other. The Independent?  Are you kidding me?  AFAIK, the Independent has done exactly one story on the Bill Strom situation.  That renowned investigative reporting source WCHL beat them to the story on Strom buying a condo in Manhattan.  And oh, by the way, Strom's wife worked for the Independent and according to what I read, Bill Strom was  managing editor of the Indepdenent until a couple years ago at least, if not more recently.  Voting for whoever the Independent endorses is like voting for who Fox News endorses.  You know beforehand how they're going to slant, both in coverage and in endorsement.  You're going to vote for or not vote for whoever they're going to endorse before they ever endorse them, and regardless of whether they endorse them.  What's the point?  Well, probably the point is that some people that don't follow things closely will think "Say, the Independent endorses Candidate Y, that must mean Candidate Y is good, I think I'll vote for Candidate Y."  But that's just more following what others say instead of thinking for yourself.  And the Chapel Hill News...I like the paper but why should I care who they endorse?  Just cover the issues and then let me decide. And you're going to do a scientific poll the weekend before the election?  I'd like to know how you're going to do that.  There's a lot more to that than just standing on Franklin St and asking questions of passers by.  But, if you're going to do that, you might as well as a few more questions.  How about also asking if the town of CH has a Town Operations Center.  And if they say "yes" then ask them if they know where the Town Operations Center is located.  And then if they answer "yes" to that questions, ask them if they know there is a $420,000 single piece of art there paid for by CH taxpayers.  If you get more than 10% of your original sample answering "yes" to the last question I'd be shocked.

Tom Jensen works for Public Policy Polling and I frequently see him quoted in the national media on opinion polling issues.  So I don't think he is planning on "just standing on Franklin St and asking questions of passers by."Bill Strom was never managing editor at the Independent.  His wife worked there, but he did not.

Here is where I got that Bill Strom was managing editor of the Independent.  After reading it further, I misread it and it says his wife was managing editor.  I thought his wife was food critic, or something like that, but apparently she was that recently but earlier she was managing editor. www.wral.com/news/local/politics/pages/1743373 Anyway, I wonder if the Independent recused themselves from endorsements in CH TC elections in which Bill Strom was running.  I don't know because although at one time I was a reader and follower of the Independent, I've long since gotten off that bandwagon.And if Tom Jensen is conducting a scientific poll then I truly would like to know how he's doing it.  It would take some work and I don't know how one person could do it in one weekend.  And if he's going to the trouble of doing it, then he might as well ask some more questions while he's at it.  In addition to the questions about the $420,000 piece of art, I'd like to have him ask if CH built an aquatics center in recent years and if people say yes, then ask them where it is.  I suspect most people in this town have no idea it exists or where it is.

Jose,Tom is a nationally recognized pollster who works for a polling firm which often produces the most accurate results of any firm in the country.  They have a sophisticated phone system to conduct wide reaching polls in a short period of time.

I am planning to stand on Franklin Street the next time Carolina wins a national championship and take a poll to see what Chapel Hillians think about bonfires.

If they are going to do a real poll on whether the endorsements of various papers influence how people vote, while they're at it they also ought to try to determine how much the people know about the various publications.  I mean, if a person is voting for Candidate X becuase Publiciation Y says they ought to, it would be interesting to know how much or how little that person knows about Publication Y.

well, finally a chance to put some use to the Masters degree I collected in Political Science.While there are many voters who are fiercely independent and make up their own minds, there are many others who take cues from persons and organizations they agree with.  Those cues often take the form of endorsements, personal, organizational and in the media. Whether following cues is following what others say rather than thinking for oneself may be true. Most people, however, do not have the level of political knowledge than the average poster or lurker on a political blog.  I know from working for the board of elections in three elections at a near campus early voting site in Raleigh that HUNDREDS of people bring in the clipped out Independent Weekly ballot and are clearly voting based on that.  This is especially true down ballot. The Indy editorial probably did not affect anyone on the presidential race.  As to political cueing in Chapel Hill, Joe Herzenberg and I tried that out in East Franklin precinct in the 1974 Democratic primary.  We did a letter signed by ten precinct residents and put it on every doorstep in the precinct Sunday before election, endorsing a slate including Henry Hall Wilson for US Senate. Who was Henry Hall Wilson? Safe to say almost no one knew anything about him (He was a marginal candidate from Union County) He was endorsed solely to see if it made any difference.  Henry Hall Wilson carried East Franklin precinct. I do not believe he carried any other precint in the state outside of MAYBE some in Union County,

Jose,To correct the record, the N&O broke the condo story. And a further correction: As editor, I would know who the managing editor was, and it was not Bill Strom. Secondly, unless Bill Strom speaks to us—and he has indicated that he won't—all that we can do is add to speculation, which is not productive, and as a result, diverts reporting resources away from stories that really matter, like a black man being needlessly stopped on Rosemary Street.Where Bill Strom chooses to move is not, in my opinion, not an important story, given the many other stories that need covering in the Triangle. Who will fill the seat is an important story that we will be covering. Chapel Hill faces greater issues than the home-buying minutiae of an ex-councilman.

I posted the links to the NYC property records on ORANGECHAT.  Jesse used those links to do his story.  It's a stretch to say he "broke" the story.  You can verify this by going to the site and look at the dates of my post and the later date of his story.And Lisa, to be fair, "the home-buying minutiae of an ex-councilman" was important because of the impact on CH of the timing of his decision.

but clearly the council members who ran with Bill as a slate 2 years ago are still on the council.  And if one of those folks committed shenanigans in the timing of their resignation, isn't it worthwhile to find out who else knew what and when?  Like Kevin Foy resigning and Mark K announcing he was running the same day -- not a coincidence, don't you think?  And would Mark have announced if Bill was a possibility?  Therefore, did Mark (and Kevin) know Bill was resigning?  This isn't just "an important story we *will* be covering".  This is an important story that you haven't covered yet.

Like Kevin Foy resigning and Mark K announcing he was running the same day -- not a coincidence, don't you think?

I missed the Kevin Foy resignation. Bill Strom must have used his clout at the Indy to spike that story. 

You're mistaken GerCohen. As long as I've been editor and even while I was a staff writer, Bill Strom didn't have clout at the Indy. In fact, we went to great lengths to distance ourselves from him. And a correction in someone else's earlier post: the Indy didn't recuse itself from endorsing in CH Town Council elections. Jen Strom did recuse herself, for obvious ethical reasons. We disclosed that relationship and her recusal every time there was an CH endorsement.The reason the Indy didn't cover CH much until recently is because we did not have the staff to do it. Then we hired Joe Schwartz and now we do. No conspiracies, folks, really. 

Lisa, my mention of Bill was a joke. I'm an Indy stockholder and am well aware of who the staff is and was. Steve Schewel convinced me to fork over some money 20+ years ago.In any case Bill Strom could not have spiked the Kevin Foy resignation story because he did not resign. i was trying to respond by conflating an innacurate post about Bill being Managing Editor with an inartfulpost saying Kevin had resigned.

sorry for my mistake.  "inartfulpost" should be 2 words and "unartful" if we're being that picky now

Are you saying you only cover stories when the potential bad guy in the story agrees to talk to you?  Because if so, I'm skeptical, and I'm also very confident that if that's the case then the new strategy of potential bad guys will be simply to not talk to you since that would ensure their bad acts would not be covered in your paper. There is a spectrum of being able to prove something with an absolute certainty on one end to wild speculation on the other.   The nature of political discussions is such that the former is rare.  Demanding absolute certianty in political discussions is usually what people on the defensive do since they know the nature of the issue is such that absolute proof won't be available.  Barring reading Bill Strom's mind, which of course is impossible, how could anyone possibly prove anything with regard to his move?  They couldn't, nor could they prove many other things barring mind reading ability.  Nevertheless, discussion and analysis and investigation of local politics based on logic and reasoning and circumstantial evidence goes on all the time.   You say that when Bill Strom chooses to move is not an important story?  That's a Colonel Klink line if I've ever heard one.  I know nothing, I see nothing.  Willfull blindness.  Of course, usually a story about where Bill Strom lives is irrelevant, but if that information is in service of manipulating local elections then it's very important.  I read the original Joe Schwartz piece in the The Independent a few days after the article was published...or maybe several days, I don't remember...but not weeks for sure...but I read it a few days or perhaps a week at most after it appeared.  Immediately after I read it I did some simple online reseach and found the CH TC page for Bill Strom that said his address was Banbury Lane in CH, ie, not the house he sold a couple months previous. One possibility is that that info wasn't available at the time JS wrote his piece.  If that was true then why and how did it suddenly show up on the CH TC page shortly after the JS article?  Another possibility is that that info was available at the time JS wrote his piece.  That's important too, considering the piece said that The Independetnt didn't know where Strom was living even though info would have been easily available under that scenario.  But how about this.  The piece said it didn't know where Strom was living and then at the end it had a disclaimer that said that Strom's wife was food editor for The Indepdendent.  If you want to know where a person is living and if his wife works for the same paper as you, then how about just asking her?  After all, if she works at the same place as you do, you obviously can contact her, right?  After seeing online at that time that Strom lived on Banbury Ln, I drove there.  I was greeted with a road sign on Banbury Ln that said something like (I can't remember the exact wording) "Private Road."  It was a pretty clear message of "Stay Out!"  Are you allowed to go onto such property?  I don't know, so I didn't try.  I'm not an investigative journalist.  And neither are the people at The Indpendent when it comes to investigating potential shennanigans of someone whose politics align with their own.

So you say there's no point in a second story on the Bill Strom issue because Bill Strom won't speak to you.  And in the  same post you mention the incident where the black guy was stopped on Rosemary St.  The equivalent people to Bill Strom in that incident would be the policemen that stopped the guy.  Those policemen haven't spoken to you.  And yet you've done two stories (that I know of) on that incident. But of course, there are ways to gather information and do legitmiate stories that  involve neither speculating nor speaking personally to all the people involved.  It can be, and is, done all the time.  And it could have been done by The Independent with respect to the Bill Strom story too.  

Jose:I don't know that I have ever seen such a cogent, comprehensive and correct critical analysis of the coverage of local news in this area. I think you asked every question that I have had on my mind for the last few months. It would be a very good idea for our local papers to do a full investigative piece so that we can finally put this to bed. My hunch is that it is something much more mundane than any conspiracy, but conspiracies do tend to fill information vacuums.The Dragnet, just the facts, approach works.

Why people pay attention to XYZ endorsements, because they are too lazy to think for themselves. Just like voting for the political party vs. the person. If you haven't studied the candidates then skip the race. When I worked the primary last May voters took longer because they were reading from the stuff that was handed to them or mailed to their house.

ah for the good old days of poll taxes and literacy tests. Kept the riffraff away from the polls entirely.

Carrboro and Hillsborough endorsements?

First, to anonymous, Loren Hintz of the Sierra Club informed me this morning that a press release is coming out today on all of the Orange endorsements. Second, jcb, to address the question of if Mark knew Bill was resigning. I was in Mark's Durham office the day that Bill's resignation was made public, and he expressed surprise: http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A399022Sitting in his downtown Durham office as the news of Chapel Hill Town Councilman Bill Strom's resignation became public, his colleague, and Chapel Hill mayoral hopeful, Mark Kleinschmidt, admitted his surprise."I always believed that Bill would run for mayor," said Kleinschmidt, who served alongside Strom for eight years. "I never had a dialogue with him about it, but I wasn't sure until the 17th (the filing deadline)."  You can argue if we have covered this story enough, and some of you are making those points, but to say we have not covered it at all is just not true.  

It doesn't fit the "facts" of Strom's nefarious plotting.

it may be a lie.  Certainly I cannot imagine that with all the rumors here well before the 17th of July that Mark was surprised.

Thanks Laurin for posting the sierra club endorsements for chapel hill. I don't think all the candidates have been contacted for carrboro or hillsoborough so that may be why their endorsements have not been posted. The sierra club press release, of course, is going to the media and I look forward to reading them.  I think endorsements do matter and do help.Over the years most progressive groups (and I include Sierra Club in that category) have had similar endorsements.  Of course, the best thing is to attend all the forums and talk to the candidates your self. I believe over the last 6 years 2002-2008  all or all but one of the candidates endorsed by the sierra club for chatham or orange county and town races won during each election cycle. I hope that record continues.Loren Hintz

this is one of the stranger threads I've seen on OP in a while 

We aim to entertain! Oh wait, no we don't.

A few months ago I had to buy a new washing machine, dammit.  And two months ago I bought a digital camera.  As a non-expert in these two gadgets, I asked people whom I respected for their experiences and studied Consumer Reports.  I actually took the CR ratings on washing machines to the appliance stores I visited.   Endorsements are just like CR, the opinions of people who have more knowledge about a subject than I do.  It's not laziness; it's lack of time to become an expert on everything.An interesting aside was the action of one salesman who was trying to sell me a washing machine that CR rated poorly.  He tried every argument, not to promote his washing machine, but rather to degrade CR.  I didn't buy his machine; instead I bought the machine of the "loneliest man in town".

If you haven't studied the washing machines yourself then wash the clothes by hand, it was good enough for your grandmother.  Or hire someone to wash the clothes for you, that's how it used to be in Chapel Hill. When I was at Best Buy last May shoppers took longer because they were reading from the stuff that was handed to them by the salesperson or mailed to their house.

The difference is that CR rates objects whose quality is much more objective than are political opinions.  People may disagree on which washer is the best, but they usually don't disagree on what differentiates a good washer from a bad one.  OTOH, people study politics for years on end and still come to opposite conclusions on what is best. The point of voting is to express _your_ opinion.  A newspaper can't tell you what your opinion is.  Only you know that.  You base your opinion on information you gather.  The newspaper is supposed to provide you with the information.   

Jose can you see that endorsements which contain actual information are useful?  

An endorsement is a conclusion.  Some newspaper board comes to a conclusion on who they would vote for if they had one joint vote.  But your vote should be based on conclusions you make, not conclusions a newspaper board makes or anyone else makes.  After all, it's your vote.If we were talking about something objective then I could understand accepting the conclusion of some panel of experts.  But in voting there is no objectivity and no experts.  It's all opinion.  There is only one expert on your opinion and that's you. Now if you've consistently read a certain paper and you generally agree with its editorial opinions and then come election time you haven't followed things closely then I can see simply following that papers endorsements under the assumption that since the reflected your opinion in the past, they'll probably also reflect your opinion now.  But that's a somewhat lazy way and based on assumption.  If someone did that once then fine.  If they did it twice then, well, okay, I guess.  If someone did that over and over then they're just shuttng off their brain,

Carrboro

 Mark Chilton for Mayor

Jacquie Gist, Randee Haven-O'Donnell, and Sammie Slade for Alderman.

Four strong choices for the Boro, way to go Sierra Club

The Sierra Club has issued endorsements in all races now. It's the incumbents, Penny Rich and Sammy Slade. http://www.indyweekblogs.com/triangulator/2009/10/08/sierra-club-endorse... 

Totally predictable endorsements, and another year without any criteria outlined for how selections were made. So as counterbalance in Carrboro, I submit that anyone who cares about the environment should vote for Sharon Cook and her record of environmental activism. Sharon led the coalition to get sidewalks installed along Homestead Road so that high schoolers can walk to school safely. She's been a member of Friends of Bolin Creek since that group's inception and has been a driving force on the Planning Board to ensure that Carolina Commons does no harm to the creek. She's also been an active member of the Coalition to End Environmental Racism, as well as an advocate for protecting both the needs of farmers living in Carrboro's ETJ and the University Lake watershed. These aren't accomplishments that she has just voted on in a public meeting; they are actions she has taken as a private citizen; energy she has devoted for the betterment of the community.

not paying attention would really think these endoresments are just about the suppot of environmental concers.

Tom Stevens for Mayo.

Frances Dancy and Mike Gering to keep their seats on the Town Board.

   It is fitting that the Sierra Club's announcement of its endorsements arrived on the same day as news that the North Carolina League of Municipalities has recognized Carrboro as a Green Challenge Advanced Level municipality "for choosing actions that can save energy, money, and natural resources."    This recognition results largely from a long history, going back to the election of Mayor Kinnaird in 1987, of Carrboro electing strong environmentalists as mayor and aldermen. Today, Carrboro has the rare status that each of it's elected officials was supported for election by the Sierra Club.    I want to express my appreciation to the Sierra Club for supporting my fine board colleagues (fine, even when I disagree with them) and for once again offering the voters an excellent set of recommendations.     I would be remiss in not mentioning how important the hard work and commitment of Carrboro staff is to our attaining the NCLM recognition. The board may set the priorities but it takes a smart, dedicated staff to bring them to fruition. The strong support of the Carrboro citizens is essential as well.

Do you have a list of the things Carrboro has done?

 

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