April 2005

Avoiding the abortion controversy

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Carolina Women's Center's annual Women's Week, which concluded Saturday, covered a lot of topics: violence against women, gender-bending, women and war and mentoring, to pick but a few. The topic that stands out for its exclusion is abortion. This omission represents a significant decision by the Women's Center given the importance of reproductive freedom for college-age women.

Abortion has not always been kept off the program. In 2003, for example, there was a Women's Week forum on "The Abortion Pill: The Clash of Science and Politics."

This year, however, the desire to avoid controversy has left the issue entirely off the agenda.

The problem with this policy of avoidance was well-expressed by geography professor Altha Cravey: "Questions of choice should be front and center; women's control over their own bodies should be front and center.

The center should not alienate women, but the center should stand for something, and those two things are very different." Cravey also serves on the Women's Center's advisory board.

How to host a really big party

Let's all give a big pat on the back to the Police Chief and Manager of the Town of Chapel Hill for an excellent public celebration on Monday night. I was among the approximately 45,000 people who came to Franklin Street to celebrate the men's basketball championship, and I saw a few of you readers there too.

I saw some things that I wouldn't brag about (like women climbing light poles in flip flops and men shouting "show us your t*ts"), but we certainly behaved ourselves better than the party in East Lansing which ended with tear gas and 43 arrests after Michigan State lost to UNC on Saturday. Wonder what they do if they win?

We did it again

For the second year in a row, we have have won "Best Blog" from the Independent Weekly!

Last year, there was no reader pick for Best Blog so the Indy staff bestowed this honor upon Orange Politics. This year, the people have spoken and we are once again named the Best Local Blog!

Being chosen by the readers is an even bigger honor, and I'm very flattered and grateful. I especially appreciate Dan Coleman and the other OP contributors who create this site every day by sharing their knowledge and opinions. I also appreciate all the folks who read the site and comment regularly. There are many more who visit and don't comment, and that's just fine. If you are getting useful information and ideas, then we are doing our job. Please keep reading this and other local blogs!

Blogging the Championship

Quite a number of locals blogged about the Tarheels victory last Monday night. Permeating our unity in support of this team is quite a lot of diversity in our reactions. Here is a collection of blog posts on everything from the players to the politics:

• • •
On the partying:

Town Council Member Sally Greene: "Fire chief Dan Jones came up with this: why not have an official bonfire somewhere on campus? But UNC hasn't warmed to the idea, and the police chief isn't so sure about it either, thinking shades of Texas A&M."

Sally was also guest blogging at Is That Legal? where she posted the police report and my picture of two women climbing a pole at the corner of Franklin and Columbia. Sally's husband Paul Jones posted pictures of the victory celebration at the Dean Dome when the team returned.

Affirmative Action for Republicans?

You may have seen the news reports on the so-called "academic bill of rights" proposed in the legislature a couple of weeks ago. This legislation, similar to bills now in vogue in conservative circles across the country, aims to end so-called liberal bias in academia.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Andrew Brock said that as written, the bill would protect the "conservative train of thought."

The chairman of UNC Chapel Hill's College Republicans acknowledged that "Not everyone's out to get conservatives. That's just part of the partisan rhetoric But there are some out there, and that's what the Academic Bill of Rights is for -- to create guidelines."

In particular, the right is concerned about studies that show professors are more likely to be registered as Democrats than as Republicans. They suggest that this reflects a bias in academia.

Bill Faison's legislative theatrics

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday April 09, 2005

It is odd to find a Democratic state legislator who, among his first prominent acts in office, would seek the means to elect a Republican to the Orange County Commission. Freshman Rep. Bill Faison has done just that by proposing a district representation scheme that would create a district in which Republican Jamie Daniel was the top vote-getter in 2004.

Odder still is the fact that Faison promotes this legislation without even an attempt at collaboration with the commissioners or with the other legislators representing Orange County, all fellow Democrats.

Faison has been called many things over the past few weeks but "team player" is not among them.

What Faison is up to is pure politics. Faison is well aware that Barry Jacobs won the Orange County vote in last summer's Democratic primary. Faison's margin in Caswell County was enough to give him a scant 647 votes victory overall. To win, he spent three times as much as Jacobs, over $100,000 more, an astounding $39 per vote (the state average is $12.94).

Live from Chapel Hill... it's Wednesday afternoon!

The Al Franken Show on Air America will be broadcast live from Chapel Hill from noon to 3pm today! You can go and see it for free in the Auditorium of the UNC Student Union, or listen in on WCHL 1360 AM or online.

I have it on good authority that some of our local elected officals will be making appearances on the show. Check it out!

Open letter to UNC students

The Daily Tarheel ran a pretty good article on Wednesday about student involvement (or lack thereof) in town issues. In 1991, I got appointed to the Chapel Hill Transportation Board and I helped get a fellow undergrad, Mark Chilton, get elected to the Town Council. Ever since, I have been advocating for a greater student voice in local politics. There can be no doubt that students are impacted by town policies (transit, sidewalks, housing, downtown businesses, University development, just to start.).

But many people forget how very much students have to offer the rest of the town. Students created what would later become the municipal bus system in in the 1970's. Students have brought many important social causes to the community's attention, from apartheid and sweatshops far way, to housekeepers and cafeteria workers and the civil rights movement here at home.

Council treads carefully on keg law

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday April 16, 2005

The Town Council adopted the prudent course in its response to the keg registration bill. The feeling was that, with or without Chapel Hill's encouragement, this bill was gaining traction elsewhere in the state. Thus, the town and its legislative delegation can best safeguard the privacy of consumers by adding strong language to that effect to Joe Hackney's and Verla Insko's House Bill 855.

A unanimous council was concerned about the need for keg purchasers to obtain a permit from the ABC board, the provision for criminal background checks, potential unintended consequences of requiring identification of where the keg would be consumed and the unnecessary intrusion into individual privacy from maintaining keg permits as public records.

Still, it was an odd process for Chapel Hill. Support for keg registration was proposed for a council legislative request by Jim Ward back in February. For most proposals, the town gets a report back from staff and receives citizen comment before taking action. Ward's timing pre-empted such input.

Dreams on display

Chapel Hill's Community Art Project this year invited us to to share our dreams. The result is a very broad range of objects, from children's drawings to mature poems, on display all over town. You can view the community's dreams in this online gallery (hosted by Andrew Ross), or on Thursday April 29 when the "dream tour" will be held in all venues hosting parts of the exhibit. DREAM runs until May 27.



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