OP Happy Hour & Candidate Coming Out Party


Friday, July 15, 2011 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm


246 S Nash St, Hillsborough, NC 27278 (The Depot at Hillsborough Station)

The next OP Happy Hour will be held in Hillsborough on July 15 to coincide with the last day of candidate filing for the 2011 elections.


Just wanted to remind people that happy hour is TOMORROW! I've heard from quite a lot of candiates and elected officials that they'll be attending. (Damon has been inviting every single one as they file to run.) This is a great chance for voters to get a first look at the field. Hope to see lots of you there! 


 Here is a quote Donna Bell from chapelboro.com in her recent announcement that she's running for election (or, as chapeboro.com calls it, reelection). "I really wanted people to see that you don't have to have thousands and thousands of dollars and be connected to the most powerful people." One powerful person, Bill Strom, decided to wait until after the deadline so that his seat would be filled by TC instead of the voters.Considering that Bill Strom sold...not came to a decision to try to sell, but sold...his house 6-8 weeks before the deadline and then bought...not decided to think about buying, but bought...a new house out of state just 2-3 weeks after the deadline, it's likely that other powerful people, including those on TC, knew that Bill Strom was leaving the area and had decided to wait until after the deadline to announce his departure so that his seat would be filled by TC instead of the voters.  Those powerful people remained silent.Then after the announced resignation, the powerful people on TC, led by then-mayor Kevin Foy, tried to fill his seat quickly, before the election, so that not only would voters not get to decide who got the seat but it would be the 2007 TC that decided instead of the 2009 TC. After some voter outcry, Foy conceded to let it be the powerful people on the 2009 TC that decided who would get the seat instead of the powerful peope on the 2007 TC.The powerful people on the 2009 TC could have asked for a common decency pledge by candidates applying for the Strom seat of "I'll fill out the term and then quit, leaving voters unbiased by incumbency to fill the seat in 2011," as a criteria in their choice, but instead they decided not to do so.  (I'm not certain there wasn't a single TC member that did so, so I can't speak for absolutely all of them, but I do know that at least most of them didn't ask for such a pledge.)Now it's 2011 and Donna Bell is running for election (or as chapelboro.com calls it, reelection) with the advantage of incumbency and name recognition as a direct result of actions by the poweful TC member Bill Strom, and then the powerful rest of 2007 TC and then the powerful 2009 TC, including powerful then-TC member and now mayor Mark K, on whose campaign Donna Bell WORKED!   Now, I give you again the Donna Bell quote with caps added sice I don't know how to do italics. "I really wanted people to see that you DON'T HAVE TO have thousands  and thousands of dollars and BE CONNECTED TO THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE." The next time people who don't protest such shennanigans (which as far as I can tell is most people here) see Republicans in the state legislature doing something sleazy like gerrymandering districts to give themselves an unfair advantage, stop to think to yourself that you're not looking at Republicans per se but rather are looking in the mirror. 

Can you remind me who you are again? It's hard for me to read your post without really knowing who you are.Do you know Donna Bell? Have you ever have a conversation with her?   

Ratherr than answer several posts I'll put it into one.If you think that post was solely anti-Bill Strom then look at it again.  It also takes to task the 2007 and 2009 TCs and anyone else who knew what he was up to and remained silent or else didn't try to remedy things once the matter became public.  From the time Bill Strom closed on his home sale until the time TC appointed a new TC member it was six months and for the last four months of that time Bill Strom did nothing.  It's not like it was a one time, one minute action by one person that began a series of events that everybody else was subsequently powerless to prevent.  And it's not like the long term conseuqences weren't predictable.  The outcry back then wasn't because an unelected person would be on TC from 2009 to 2011 but rather because getting onto TC without being elected confers that person a permanent advantage.  Everybody knew it then.  Donna Bell looks to be fairly young.  She could be on TC for the next 30 years and all because the powers that be in CH decided that the powers that be in CH should be the ones to determine who would get the advantages of incumbency rather than the voters of CH.  If you don't think that is so then ask yourself why Bill Strom would go to the trouble of knocking over the first domino to begin with instead of just telling everybody before the deadline that he was planning to move away. It would have been simple...simple...for someone with some authoritah, official or unofficial, to say "Look, considering the circumstances, let's just ask for applicants for the seat to finish the 2009-2011 term and then step down and  then have the voters elect the next person from scratch."  I can't remember if anyone in such a position did say that or not but if so it wasn't many people because if it were then things would be different today.  And whoever would have won the seat in 2011 would likely have been Donna Bell-like anyway or perhaps even Donna Bell herself.  But no, there is a 2% chance that somebody that differs a bit from the status quo will get some political power so let's make sure it doesn't happen even if it means possibly thwarting public will in the process.As far as service goes, if there's is a position that people furiously campaign for, all the way from POTUS down to TC of a small town, I don't consider that service.  If it's service then if someone offers to do it for you then you say "Gladly, well thank you" instead of fighting them for the position.  Otherwise the holding the position is just an exercise in political power.  OTOH, service is going out on your own to clean up the trash along a stretch of road that isn't named after you. I will agree completely though with the notion that I need to let it go.  Not because it deserves to let go of but rather because my options right now are (a) let it go and the way things work around here won't change or (b) don't let it go, get aggravated, and the way things work around here won't change.  Yes, the former is definitely the better option.  I will try hard.But someone that gained power because of their connections to powerful people announcing their run by saying "I really wanted people to see you don't have to be connected to the most powerful people" makes it difficult.  I don't have a problem with Donna Bell per se, beyond the way she got her seat, but saying that was a blatant thumb in the eye.  If not for that I could have let it pass.

1) The Strom narrative that his opponents love to keep flaming up is based on speculation and incomplete information. Folks simply do not know enough details of his situation and decision-making process to make the case for a conspiracy.2) Incumbency has some power, but to say that it confers a lock on future elections is both false and demeaning to voters. One example that comes to mind is one-term Carrboro Alderman Allen Spalt.

I want to respond to this but in the interest of forum peace I am gonig to let is pass.

Another good example of the non-ominipotence of incumbency is Jim Merritt, who lost his (appointed) seat in 2009 which did more to pave the way for Donna's appointment than Bill Strom's pompous manoeuvring.One only has to look  beyond their own nose to see the truth of the situation, but some people prefer the much more dramatic soap opera they've already written for us.

Jose, I think it's time to let it go. You have made your opinion on this matter known repeatedly on this blog, to the point where I think you are beating a dead horse.Donna Bell had nothing to do with Strom's departure, and nothing to do with the string of events that led to the opening of the seat she now fills. She applied for an open position and was granted the opportunity to serve. It is not only unfair, but ridiculous, to hold something against her that was completely out of her control. 

Jose, I agree with everything Brooks has said but I'll go a little further.  I'm sick and tired of hearing you bad-mouthing Bill Strom for one, regrettable action.  I and probably most of the posters on this board would agree that Bill's actions were wrong and indefensible.  Nonetheless he provided this Town with many years of service which is apparently more than you can say.  If I remember correctly from one of your earlier posts you didn't even bother to vote in municipal elections until a couple of years ago.  So maybe after you can tell us that you've served this community through public service as an elected official or as a volunteer on a Town advisory board or as a volunteer for some social service non-profit we can attach some significance to your rants.

Let's face it. The Bill Strom thing was disgusting. It made me throw up in my mouth a little. 

But what does it have to do with Donna's current campaign? Is the argument that she should not have stepped up to serve her community because of the circumstances under which the vacant seat was vacated? Or is the argument that she should not run in this coming election because her advantage of incumbency was somehow dishonestly acquired?  

But Brooks, you can't get rid of the cloud of her appointment. You are very political, clever, and amoral political animal. I respect that. Nice attempt to frame the argument. Bottom line, she is benefiting from something that was corrupt and something that violates my Liberal values. I believe in fairness and open-government, not backroom deals and appointments.You believe in, if you feel you're right, it's okay to be abusive and win at all costs.But that's cool. This is going to be a fun election.  

It's lovely weather we are having, no? 

As George knows, I don't agree with Jose's position. But I have to wonder how either one of you would feel if someone told you that you were not welcome to share your strongly held positions on something. Volunteerism is not a condition of citizenship. The fact that Jose has begun to pay attention and to vote should work in his favor, not as leverage against his opinions. 

Of course he can share his opinion, but is it necessary to share it over and over and over again, on threads that have nothing to do with the subject matter? Is it okay to use that opinion to attack people who had nothing to do with the issue about which he is complaining? 


You certainly do.

Steve, you are cyber bullying me. I don't abide bullies, so rather than get worked up because you called me names behind the safety of your computer screen, I am extending an invitation to lunch. Let's meet and talk about non-political things and then perhaps when I am not just a thumbnail picture and a dissenting opinion to you, you will think twice before typing that I am "amoral" and then hitting "Post Comment." And I would love the opportunity to form a better opinion of you as well. I'm sure we have more in common than we think.Lunch or coffee. My treat. Call me at 919.923.6215 or email me at brooksraineypearson@gmail.com. Perhaps we can invite Jose to come as well.

If you guys can get Jose to be a real person, I'll pay for all of you!  Anywhere you want.

how do you define 'real person'?

Good question.  That reminds me of a column in the CHN this past Sunday about "real food."  Food that the columnist approved of was "real food."  Other food was not "real food."  Never mind that people routinely eat what she considers "not real food" for decades on end whereas if someone didn't eat real food in the real world they'd be real dead in a matter of weeks or months at the most.  If you don't like something, re-define it as non-existent.  So maybe that means I don't exist to some on here.More common though is defining the position you do support in a way such that people are don't hold the position are by definition bad.  Are you in favor of abortion being illegal?  Call yourself "pro-life" so that people that don't hold your position are against life.  Are you in favor of abortion being legal?  Call yourself "pro-choice" so that people that don't hold your position are against choice.  See how it works?  Economic justice, fair tax, fair trade, family values, moral majority, etc.  If you're against those then you're against justice, fairness, fairness, family, values, and morality.

Don't even start to tell me that keeping water off my neck is proof of being against rain.

Problem Solved

Apparently you can't edit posts that have been replied to, but Steve and I have talked through our misunderstandings and planned to delete the comments that led to there being a difference of opinion. In that I cannot, I will simply leave this as an explanation and wish you all a lovely day.

I want to be sure that everyone understands that I now understand her point of view and perspective and that she is a very Reasonable person who has the patience to listen. I am glad she took the time to reach out. I do request that OP Editors delete my comments that led to this as they are inaccurate and in my opinion, add nothing to this debate.So I also wish everyone a lovely day as well and hope that the OP Editors will honor my request. I am saying this publicly, so anyone who reads it knows that it was my request.Thank you.   

Brooks and Steve:OK, here's the deal. Your request that the editors remove several of your comments from the discussion thread has us in a bind. We're hesisant to remove the comments, because by doing so we would set a precedent without first establishing some principled reason for doing it that could be applied consistently in future cases. At this point, we feel inclined to leave things as they are. However, if you want to offer some thoughts about other ways to proceed (here, privately, or at our next editors meeting), we're willing to be convinced.I'm glad you two found some common ground.

Terri,Jose doesn't share opinions, he trashes people and I know damn well you know the difference.  And yes, I'll readily share my opinion - I value input from someone who takes the time to get involved (and vote in more than one municipal election in 10 years) a lot more than from someone who sits at a keyboard attacking folks who are trying to accomplish something.  As far as I'm concerned Jose's actions (nil!) speak a heck of a lot louder than his words!

What Bill Strom did showed a lack of ethics. What Council did by not selecting the candidate the Voters chose showed a lack of leadership. What you are doing is attacking an individual for expressing himself. So I would like you to start talking about the issues and stop attacking Jose. George, I don't really like how you express yourself on here and I haven't really pointed that out. But since you brought it up, quit trashing people for being ill-informed just because you don't like what they say.And when Brooks said that my comments "made her throw up a little in her mouth" once. Where was your defense then. So step back and let the conversation flow rather than shout it down.  

"by not selecting the candidate the voters chose"  I know I am being hypertechnical, but I recall the voters chose that the candidate LOST the election.

The majority of the voters chose who they wanted to elect, not who they wanted to lose. "the minority possess their equal rights which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. "


i stand corrected. That candidate did not win. The voters chose the winners, those that did not win lost.

Steve,If Jose chooses to express his dissatisfaction with Bill Strom that's his right.  If he chooses to express his dissatisfaction with the 2007 and 2009 TCs, that OK as well.  And if he chose to express his satisfaction with how Donna Bell has performed as a Council member or the positions she is proposing for the future I could live with that.  But he chose to attack her for whom she is friends with and that to me represents a personal attack.And Steve, if you don't like how I express myself here, that's OK because that's your right as well.  I'm sorry that I rub you the wrong way.

Oh please!  Not only did I not personally attack DB for who she is friends with I didn't personally attack DB at all.  Read it again.  I did say that it bugged me that in her announcement for re-election, er, I mean election, she said she wanted to show that you didn't have to be connected to powerful people when the only reason she's on council is becuase she's connected to powerful people and I stand by that.  I don't want all this to start up again so I won't say more but when someone says I personally attacked someone I couldn't let it pass without any comment at all.

Maybe Jose can join us .

Kevin Wolff is running for Mayor Chapel Hill.

Thank you, Damon, for the invitation [Wed, July 13, 2011 4:55 pm] Looking forward to the event


I think everyone who attended agreed - that was the best OP Happy Hour to date. The Depot and Hillsborough in general was a great venue (and we were warmly welcomed by the mayor). There were about 20 candidates (including all 3 mayors in the county), as well as a number other elected officials. Oh and there were some voters too! ;-)We plan to do one more event like this close to the election, and the editors are unanimous that we will host Candidate Coming Out Parties on every last day of filing in the future.Thanks to the OP Posse - Erin, Molly, and Damon (and Jason too, before he was a candidate) who helped make this such a success! 

Here's a pic I snapped at the event.  While I've met and know many OPers I believe this was my first happy hour event.  Kudos to Jason on the map idea, it was great to see where everyone was from (Booker Creek represent!).  And happy (upcoming) birthday to Donna!

It really was fun.One of the best parts was meeting some people I'd never met in person before (Michelle, Brooks) who always show up on the "you might be friends" list in Facebook.  Don't know how I missed you, Jake, in that regard because you're on the same list often.


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