July 2005

State election reform needed

Guest Post by Katrina Ryan

While in Washington DC about a month ago, I attended a seminar that was sponsored in part by the 21st century democrats
http://www.21stcenturydems.org/ . It was a talk given by three mathematicians.

Davis Annick, an associate from MIT, Sam Wang of Princeton, and David Dill of Stanford took several factors including exit poll variances, early vote pattern variances, historical undecided voter patterns and new voter registration statistics into consideration. The conclusion was absolutely astounding to me. They calculated the odds against last year's federal elections being accurate at 247 million to 1. (Disclaimer Math is not my forte, but I do know that odds like that make the lottery look good. I'd link to the research for specifics, but it's under peer review.)

Dr. Dill mentioned, as he has before, that North Carolina has one of the most severe election problems in the country, citing, amongst other things, the 4400 votes that "disappeared" in Carteret County.

It's official

I went up to Hillsborough at lunchtime today and I saw Jacquie Gist, Mark Chilton, Mark Kleinschmidt, and challenger Laurin Easthom file for Carrboro Alderman, Carrboro Mayor, and Chapel Hill Town Council respectively. I understand Kevin Foy came by and filed for Chapel Hill Mayor shortly afterward, and Ed Harrison also dropped his hat in the ring a little later.

The Board of Elections has a nice little chart to help you keep track, check it out: http://www.co.orange.nc.us/elect/CandJuly05.htm

Wal-Mart at the gates

Starpoint The closest you can get to Chapel Hill and Carrboro while still being in Chatham County is Starpoint. The intersection of Smith Level Road and 15-501 is at the county line. Starpoint is also the proposed location of a new Wal-Mart.

Elected officials in Chapel Hill and Carrboro have already asked Chatham County to allow them to conduct a courtesy review. This would allow them to formally have input, although it is not binding. According to the News & Observer "This is the first I've heard about that," Morgan said when asked about Chapel Hill's plans to request a review. "I didn't know they did that type of stuff."

Which is exactly why we should be very worried.

Hillsborough issues

The race for the Town Board in Hillsborough has one candidate so far, incumbent Michael Gering.

Gering is a software engineer at IBM. He first ran for office in 2001 as a critic of "big-box" retail stores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

He said the board's focus in the coming four years should be on continuing the town's economic development, improving the town government's financial position, and on continuing to improve the town's infrastructure and cultural resources.

He singled out sidewalks as a key concern.
- Chapel Hill Herald, 7/6/05

What do you think the issues in Hillsborough are? I'd especially like to hear from people who live north of I-40.

NC House defunds fire protection

No discussion of UNC's role in our community is complete without addressing the topic of fiscal equity. There are many way in which the University affects us financially, both positive and negative, and the town's provision of fire services to the campus is just one of the most obvious examples.

So it's pretty disappointing to hear that the NC House budget fails to fund the municipalities that provide fire fighting to state institutions!

While funding for fire protection for state-owned properties - a request that was included in Chapel Hill's legislative agenda - made it into the governor's budget and N.C. Senate's proposed budget for 2005-06, it was left out of the House budget...

"In Chapel Hill, our fire chief said that we need 18 new firefighters in order to be able to provide the level of service that is necessary," [Mayor Kevin Foy] said.

Foy noted that though the University is putting millions of dollars into construction projects, no extra funds are being allotted to support fire protection.
- Daily Tarheel, 7/7/05

Talk fast

To keep the conversation moving forward here, all posts will now expire after a certain number of days. I propose 90 days, but I'm open to suggestions.

This change will take effect on Monday so you can get any last words in over the weekend.

Bridge Building, Chamber Style

According to Chapel Hill News Editor, Mark Schultz, Chamber of Commerce Director Aaron Nelson told him that our community is “a place where many people still think if you're a successful business person you're exploiting someone or destroying the environment.” (quote is Schultz paraphrasing Nelson)

Now, according to the Herald editors, I'm the farthest left person they know (a debatable point I suppose) and I don't think that. Nor am I aware of any who hold this belief.

So my question to Aaron is: do you really believe what you said to Schultz? if so, who are some of these "many people" you refer to? Or, did you, like Ed Harrison, inadvertently mislead Schultz and it's not your fault?

My question to Chamber members is: does it really serve your interests and your organization when your director makes such hyperbolic and divisive statements?

Liz Brown wins 2005 Sheldon Award

I just got this news from my friends at Internationalist Books & Community Center. It's great to see they are continuing to address important local issues with this award.

Each year, Internationalist Books and Community Center of Chapel Hill recognizes a member of the Triangle community who carries on their deceased founder Bob Sheldon's work and breathes life into his legacy by being gentle and persistent, being radical and free-thinking, being playful and patient, and leading by example.

This year, Internationalist Books is happy to announce that Orange County Board of Education member Liz Brown will receive the 2005 “Bob Sheldon" Award. Liz will receive this award for her ongoing efforts to bring forth equality in Orange County's educational system.

Liz Brown will receive the Award on Friday, July 15, 2005 at the Internationalist Bookstore's annual member party. The party and award ceremony, open to the public, will begin at 7:00 PM at The Skylight Exchange & Nightlight located at 405 ½ Rosemary St. in Chapel Hill.

Aldermen face off in Carrboro

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday July 09, 2005

To hear Carrboro mayoral candid ates and incumbent Aldermen Mark Chilton and Alex Zaffron tell it, the election of one or the other will greatly influence the path Carrboro takes with certain key issues in the coming years.

For example, last week Chilton announced his campaign with the assertion that Carrboro's Northwest Small Area Plan needs to be rewritten. He said the plan does "not adequately protect Bolin Creek and it has attracted the most expensive sort of development." Chilton refers to a planning document that is closely identified with Zaffron, one of his signature achievements on the Board of Aldermen.

Zaffron, not showing any strong attachment to his work, agreed that it should be "updated, simplified, and strengthened."

Or, to take another case, Chilton wants "to rewrite a number of rules related to affordable housing," some of which are his opponent's handiwork.

Zaffron identifies no such rewriting but does want to "add new strategies to our toolbox" for affordable housing.

Neither of these are exactly headline grabbing disagreements.

Tell Rep. Price to oppose CAFTA

Here's an alert from our friends at the Carolina Interfaith TaskForce On Central America:

Public Citizen is phoning members to ask them to phone [Congressman] David Price. He is undecided about how to vote on CAFTA, which will come before the house next week. Call the congressional switchboard at 1-866-340-9281 and ask to speak to him. You can email him at http://www.house.gov/formprice/email.htm .

For information on CAFTA:

According to Public Citizen:



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