January 2004

Funny Math

An effort to tally the number of homeless people in Orange County came up with the magic number of 236. While it's certainly a good idea to measure this, the methodology sounds pretty weak to me. Law enforcement literally went around and counted people. How can they possibly have seen and talked to every one? According to the Chapel Hill News:

The Chapel Hill police found six people without any shelter and 20 in doubled-up housing. Carrboro police found 24 with no shelter, Hillsborough police 10, and UNC police 10. The count also found one homeless person sheltered at Club Nova, a psychiatric rehabilitation center, 143 at the IFC's Community House, and 42 at the IFC's HomeStart facility.

Vote Locally, Think Globally

With the state redistricting in limbo, the NC Dem Party has posted a contingency plan just in case the primaries can't be held on time www.ncdp.org. Everyone needs to check out this plan and comment before the public review process is over. If the primaries don't happen (likely at this point) then caucuses would be held by county. Since the caucuses are county caucuses and the final delegate selection is by senate district (I think), then Orange and Durham votes will be added to create a grand total for the 4th district. This makes it important that Dems (registered independents won't be able to vote) show up for the caucuses if they are held. Whichever candidate -Dean- turns out the people -Dean- will win the nomi-Dean-nation.

Any thoughts on the contingency plan and its effects on our local input into the process?

She's Got a Ticket to Ride

Better late than never, TTA has developed a website, GoTriangle.org, that will help a user get from any spot to any other spot in the Triangle using the wide array of transit systems we have here.

I was skeptical it would work, but I entered my home address (on a street not served by transit), and it asked me a few more questions and was eventually able to figure out where I was. It even offered two routes, one with less transfers and the other presumably faster. It even tells you what the fare will be, which is useful with multiple systems.

The interface could be a bit smoother and the software is a bit buggy, but I'm quite impressed with the features. You can jump to an earlier or later itinerary, and save locations and connections. There's even a version for mobile handheld computers (how many transit riders have these?). I wonder how well it prints.

Activist Facing Jail for Speaking Out

Some of you may recall the news from almost a year ago when four people ran out onto to the court with anti-war signs during a break in a game at the Dean Dome. All four were arrested, but two were later acquitted. One of the two who was found guilty is Andrew Pearson. Andrew has been an asset to the community since his days as a UNC student organizing around environmental amd social justice issues about ten years ago.

This case is an opportunity for our community to send a message about the preservation of the free speech that is absolutely fundamental to the functioning of our democratic system of government. Here are excerpts of a letter he just sent out to the local peace and justice community:

MLK Day - Jan. 19

The Chapel Hill Herald reports that our local Martin Luther King Day festivies this year will focus on voting. The timing couldn't be better.

"If all we do is get together and talk big in January, all the work of Dr. King and those of us who worked with him will be in vain," said Fred Battle, the president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in a statement. "We must visit our neighbors with registration forms. After they register, we must make sure they know which politicians will do something about our problems -- not just talk big before elections.

"I plan to celebrate Dr. King's birthday twice this year; first in January and again in November on Election Day," he said.

Red Light Camera Petition

It's not up on the Town website yet, but here's the press coverage: Chapel Hill Herald, News & Observer, and Daily Tarheel.

And here's the text of my petition on red-light cameras that is on the Town Council agenda for Monday:

To: Town Council Members
From: Council Member Kleinschmidt
Re: Petition to terminate the Town of Chapel Hill contract with ACS, Inc.
Date: January 12, 2004

Locke Up the Trains

Yesterday, the John Locke Foundation sponsored a conference whose aim was apparently to trash rail plans for the Triangle. You can read about it in the Herald.

Some interesting excerpts:
The American dream is being challenged by "misguided planning policies" and doctrines "that call for greater government control over development, housing, transportation and consumer choice."

"mass-transit is a dollar-gulping failure"

"the cost of each passenger mile in an average car was 20 cents, compared to 60 cents for each mass-transit passenger mile. In most U.S. locations, each new rider could be provided with a leased car for his or her entire lifetime for the cost of building a mass-transit system,"

It sounds like this conference could just as well have been planned by the highway industry. The comments above reflect a glaring failure to understand federal and state transportation subsidies, the incredible success of transit in many major cities in the US and around the world, and American history.

Just Say No To Trolls

Lots of conversations naturally stray off of the original topic. We have a problem when people intentionally try to disrupt conversations, incite flame wars, or generally aggravate readers. These people are trolls. Personally, I try to ignore posts if they're not on-topic or at least interesting. I encourage others to do the same. This is the best way to fight trolls.

In my continuing effort to improve the quality of discourse at this site, I am experimenting with a system to test the addresses of people who post comments. If the address given is fake, the post will be removed. Your addresses will not be used for any other purpose, in fact they will not even be stored anywhere.

Martin Luther King Boulevard

In addition to a number of other good ideas on the Chapel Hill Town Council's agenda, I'm told they will hear a proposal tonight to rename Airport Road to Martin Luther King Boulevard. When I was first exposed to this idea (at a candidate forum last fall), I was taken aback. I've known that road for a long time by only one name.

But actually, it makes a lot more sense to me than naming the road after an aiport that hardly anyone uses, and most people expect to be closed within a few years. And It's especially appropriate that the street that will be the future grand entrance to Carolina North should be named after such a great American. I hope it will serve as a daily reminder to all of us to do whatever we can to live up to the moral challenges of our times (of which there are many).

DTH on Carolina North

With permission of the Daily Tarheel, we are reprinting a collection of viewpoints they published yesterday about Carolina North. The final essay was by me, and I am including my original, undedited version. The collection also included am editorial cartoon featuring a statue of "Silent Cam."

Carolina North -Elliott Dube, Editorial Page Editor
Another stage has begun in the long history of relations between UNC and the two towns that co-exist with the University. At the center of the action is the Horace Williams tract, a significant portion of which has been earmarked as the foundation for Carolina North: UNC's future satellite campus. From a University standpoint, Carolina North represents progress. It is a giant, 240-acre symbol of UNC's drive to expand its academic...



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