Dan Coleman's blog

The Spirit of Campaign Contribution Limits: a bit of history

In today's Chapel Hill Herald, Ed Harrison defends his acceptance of $1400 in campaign contributions from his parents by saying:

"Neither my parents nor I are interested in flouting the spirit of the [limit]"

Both Jason Baker and Laurin Easthom made reference to this "spirit" in explaining why they have not accepted such large contributions and, in Jason's case, object to Ed doing so.

Given Harrison's long association with the Sierra Club, one might expect him to know that, in 1995, the Sierra Club along with the Orange County Greens initiated a program of voluntary contribution limits. They asked Chapel Hill and Carrboro candidates that year to accept no more than $100 from any individual or PAC. Since that was a voluntary limit, there were no exceptions such as those provide for under state law. 10 of 18 candidates took the pledge. Several others expressed agreement with it in part.

Herrera to announce "yellow bike" proposal

This Saturday morning at 10:30 at Carrboro Town Hall, John Herrera will present a proposal to develop a “yellow bike” program that has proven very successful in many communities in the US and around the world.

Yellow bike projects provide free access to bicycles for municipal transportation. The objective is to reduce the use of short auto trips, cut down on congestion and pollution, and increase mobility. It is called yellow bike because the bikes are usually painted a bright yellow color to clearly identify them as belonging to the program.

Herrera will be joinedby members of Critical Mass, a bicyclist rights organization, and the Recylcery, which repairs and gives away old bikes.

After the presentation Carrboro bicyclists are invited to join Herrera and supporters for a bike tour around Carrboro. A more detailed statement and information will be available at the event.

Campaign News Coverage Falls Short

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday October 29, 2005

Judging by the news coverage, this year's municipal elections have been a pretty dull affair. The papers have provided an outlet for candidates to express their views through guest columns, web profiles, and articles on forums. But there is a lot more that could have been reported on their backgrounds and positions and on campaign events.

Let's start with Will Raymond. He claims to be a dotcom success story, promising to bring strong business and financial management skills to the Town Council. The news media could have looked into Raymond's background and informed voters of the reality behind these claims.

Robin Cutson has called into question the adequacy of our water supply to meet the needs of growth. OWASA chair Mark Marcoplos has rebutted some of her charges on orangepolitics.org. This too could have led to an informative news story.

Alderman candidate Katrina Ryan has spoken of her intention to help launch a private company that will take advantage of energy tax credits to promote solar energy in Carrboro. Is that a flaky idea or a good one? You'd have to know the details to decide.

Race, ecology and campaigns

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday October 22, 2005

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was a brief moment in which the long-neglected problem of environmental racism received some attention. Katrina exposed the racism in state and national efforts to aid victims, in who lives near Superfund sites, in who lives in the most vulnerable areas and in who has the means to evacuate.

It also laid bare the difficulty in disentangling questions of race and class particularly in a city like New Orleans. In the flooded Lower Ninth Ward, more than 98 percent of residents are black and more than a third live in poverty.

Katrina made manifest the nature of American poverty. Suddenly, we could see, as Duke professor Mark Anthony Neal put it, that the poor are "already dying a slow death, brought on by a concentration of financial limits, inferior housing, dilapidated educational structures, violence, environmental decay and systematic state neglect."

Thinking Globally...

Monday night, Jim Protzman, Mark Marcoplos, and I will present the following resolution to the Town Council. We plan to bring it subsequently to Carrboro and Orange County.

A Resolution Calling for New Federal Priorities



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