Sunday Morning Open Thread

Friday was the first day of filing for municipal offices. There was a line to file in Mecklenburg County. Who filed in your area? Are there any hot races on the radar yet?

The man who started the petition to put the transit tax on the ballot is running for school board. Hmmmmmm. It could hurt him as much as help him since a majority of the people support the transit tax. I guess it just depends on whether folks in that majority head to the polls on election day.

Sorry for all the open threads. This is about as detailed as I'm able to get with my writing for the next week or so.



Open threads are our friends

So I'm told.

Speaking of friends . . . I'm getting to know Bob Orr a little, and I'm finding him to be a perfectly sane moderate. Not at all the extremist one might expect from a person who worked in an Art Pope-funded organization. It's a puzzlement.

Looking at the Republican gubernatorial field, Orr will definitely be outflanked on the right by Fred Smith and Bill Graham. That'll make it hard for him to win the Republican primary unless Graham and Smith split the lunatic fringe vote, leaving Orr with a majority in the muddled middle.

Should be interesting.


They're real!


He was a great Supreme Court justice. Sane. Thoughtful and (importantly for the practice of law) predictable in his assessment of precedent.

But never forget who has been paying the bills at his think tank for the last several years.

"85% of Republicans are Democrats who don't know what's going on." -Robert Kennedy, Jr.

"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be." -Voltaire

The winning ticket is a secret tax! Because I said so!

He was a great Supreme Court justice. Sane. Thoughtful and (importantly for the practice of law) predictable in his assessment of precedent. *DrFrankLives

Really! I didn't know there was a hall of fame for Supreme Court justices who still think that the lottary was a tax.?

Durham races

Durham's got a mayor's election and three city council seats up for grabs this year, along with a couple other minor races I'm sure I'm forgetting.

The one that probably interests folks around here the most is the mayor's election, because it pits our existing mayor, Bill Bell, against the vice president of, you guessed it, the Civitas Foundation, named Thomas Stith. Stith is currently a city councilor, but is expected to not run for re-election in favor of the mayor's race. He won his council seat four years ago by playing some very cute insider games to get the endorsement of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, on of the three PACs whose endorsements largely control city politics. (The other two are the pro-business/small government conservative Friends of Durham, and the progressive Durham People's Alliance.)

I admit I have some mixed feelings about Stith. Unlike John Best, the conservative nutcase bartender we threw off the council two years ago, or Howard Clement, a Republican member of DCABP who's getting old and senile, Stith serves a purpose. As a Democrat-dominated town, Durham's willingness to accept high taxes in order to fund social programs has left us with some actual government waste (unlike the phantom stuff Republicans are usually blaming everything on), and now that he's largely isolated on the council, his attempts to cut the fat out of Durham government are moderated to the point that they're mostly productive, since he's not allowed to run amok. That said, his recent association with the Popes is nauseating, of course, and I have no interest in letting him ascend to the mayor's seat.

Fortunately, that's highly unlikely to happen. Bell is likely to run again, and while he's occasionally more swamped in the cronyism that hovers around city government than I'd like, he's largely been a very good mayor. He should get the DCABP and PA endorsements, which should be enough to hold the seat.

In the other council races, Eugene Brown, a centrist progressive, should coast to re-election, as should Dianne Catotti, the progressive superstar of the council. In a race that comes down to the top three vote-getters, three other people I know very little about have already filed for the seat. A few people have approached yours truly about running, but unless those other folks are really zeros, I'm sitting this one out. I just don't have the time or money to do this thing right.

Stith and Pope

Every time I see that guy in the Civitas propaganda, it feels like tokenism in the extreme.

(Are the Durham races partisan?)


At least at the council level. It's too bad -- at the County level, for commissioners, sheriff, DA, and such, the only race is at the primary level. Whoever wins the Dem primary gets elected. The only contest I can remember where it was actually close was the last DA election, and well, I probably don't need to tell you about the extenuating circumstances in that one...

As for Stith and Pope, it might be tokenism, but I will say this for the guy -- he's a true believer, and has been since he was small potatoes at the local level. He's not just up there Clarence Thomasing it.

Oh -


I keep thinking it's sith. I don't know why I get these images confused.


Coffee! Keyboard! They don't mix!!!! BWAHAHAAHA!


I wouldn't get them confused if I actually saw the movies.

But then again - it might make it worse.

What do you think?

Mayor Bill Bell of Durham

is CEO of a non-profit called UDI, which receives money from the City of Durham. Despite this apparent conflict of interest, Bell never sits out any votes on city contracts that benefit UDI. I have a problem with that.

Bell also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Mutual Community Savings Bank, which is under pressure from the FDIC to change its management due to "unsafe and unsound banking practices."

That's not a ringing endorsement of his leadership and business skills.

Bell has also voted in favor of awarding several design contracts to a local architect -George Williams - who is a former (fired) county manager and who also happens to be the brother-in-law of City Council member Howard Clement. This has happened despite Williams not being the low bidder or best qualified one either.

Durham is a great place to live, but has some big problems, and I have found Bell's leadership lacking. Not enough is done to solve crime problems and direct the Police Dept, and Bell has been heavily involved in choosing the past 2 police chiefs.

The N&O reported Saturday that a comparison of street conditions in the Triangle found the percentage of streets rated in "good" or "very good" in Durham was 60%, Chapel Hill was 85%, and Raleigh was 90%. In 1995, Durham was at 79%. Down 19% in 10 years - that's not progress. Bell has been Mayor since 1996.

In contrast, streets rated "poor" or "very poor" in Durham were 23%, Chapel Hill 4%, and Raleigh 3%.

Durham tax rates are higher than Raleigh's but lower that Chapel Hill's, so it's not a simple matter of hiking the tax rate. At current funding levels, Durham streets get resurfaced every 80 years. 20 years is supposedly the standard.

I don't know that Stith is a better candidate for Mayor, but Bill Bell is hardly the best Democrat for the job. Stith has been on the City Council almost as long as Bell and also bears responsibility for the issues I have listed, but he also is often on the losing end of votes.

I don't like my choices so far in this race, but I doubt there will be any more. Bell was essentially unopposed the previous 3 elections.

No Wonder

No wonder Durham's in the shape it's in. Poor thing.

Yo... Step off...

Enough with the "shape it's in." Don't step to the Bull City, you here?

oddly enough, you could be asking if she is there or whether she


Either way, I enjoyed my years in Durham, although certainly there are bad, bad, bad sections of Durham. I lived near the forest and golf course and loved my walkable, hikeable lifestyle.

John Edwards is great!
- Sam Spencer, BlueNC, 7/3/07

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I Hear -

your reputation proceeds itself...or something like that.


Been blogging too much today... Getting sloppy... But yes, the incorrect form almost works too...

As far as the "bad, bad, bad" sections of Durham, that's true, but it's been improving by quite a bit. The Hope VI program did wonders for the area around the old Few Gardens project. East-Central Durham in general is still more dangerous than the rest of town, but it's way better than it used to be. (Did my masters thesis in geography on this very topic.)

When I was growing up in Asheville, downtown was considered a scary place where you "didn't go." City government was widely derided as wasteful and incompetent, and the conventional wisdom was that the best idea was to just move out of the city. I'm enjoying watching similar things happen in Durham as happened out there.

Not really thrilled with Bell, but...

I have a lot of problems with Bell and the cronyism that seems to hover around him, but I think he's been a pretty good mayor for the most part. Being a political leader in Durham for the past decade has been a pretty thankless job, as there was a huge amount of mess left over that needed cleaning up. There's still a fair bit of mess, but I'd say it's getting better. One of the biggest problems with the bloated city budget, I'd say, is the number of patronage jobs that are still sitting around. City Hall runs pretty well for the most part, but it could really be tightened up a good bit.

The roads issue is a real killer. The big problem is that Durham's road network is much bigger than a city of its population should have. the big problem here is that the city annexed like mad during the late 80s and early 90s to stretch itself down to I-40, which meant that it was in position to do things like Woodcroft and Southpoint. However, those are largely recent projects, and the space created by the great leap south still hasn't filled in completely (although it's more full than it used to be). Two recent bonds should help us catch up, but I think roads are going to be a big problem.

In any case, I think eventually, Mike Woodard or maybe Eugene Brown may decide to step up and run, but I don't think it's going to happen this year. At least the terms are only two years. I can take another two years of Bell, but after that, I might have to run myself. It looks like we're going to be left with Bell and Stith this year. If that's the choice, I have no trouble whatsoever backing Bell.

Bell & UDI

Todd is incorrect. Bell never votes on UDI contracts that come before the City Council. In fact, when these come up on the agenda, he turns the meeting over to the Mayor Pro Tem and leaves the room. A search of City Council minutes will confirm this. Further, Bell does not work on any UDI projects with the City.

Thanks . . .

and god bless the blogosphere.


Mike, is there ANY remotely Durham-related blog or newsgroup you don't lurk on? ;)

(Ladies and gentlemen, that would be Mike Woodard of the Durham City Council.)

RE: Heh



North Mecklenburg

The three northern towns have three open mayoral seats. That could mean a lot for light rail, since Char-Meck's Metropolitan Transit Comm. is the only one of the three or four transit boards that has any hard power, and all the seats are held by municipal mayors. We have a lot of open town board seats in Davidson as well ... and no Democratic mayoral candidate in Crown Town.

Also, I'm trying to find a new name for Charlotte, since Creative Loafing used "Crown Town" for the first time recently, and it's my job as a hip youngster to stay ahead of the game.

1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

Crown Town....never heard it...kinda funny

Queen City is old and lots of other cities use it.

It is really sad that we don't have a Dem coming forward to run for Mayor. For a Republican McCrory really hasn't been a terrible, horrible Mayor......and that's really hard for me to say.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I wouldn't have voted for a Dem candidate for Charlotte mayor

since Mrs. Ella ran.

1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks


I didn't vote for her either. I like what a good friend in Greenville called the QC, "CarLotte." I guess in the wake of extreme prideful museum hoo-johnnyism, we can extend that to "NASCARlotte"

Straw Bales Help Insulate House in Moore County

Nice story in The Pilot today. :)

Don't even think about pulling the "Three Little Pigs" joke on Terri Holt. She has heard it before.

Holt owns the first straw bale house near Robbins -- its stuccoed walls are insulated by about 400 bales of straw. The unorthodox home, finished last September, has attracted its fair share of commentary.

According to the article, the Sandhills are a little behind the rest of the world in worrying about the environment. Golf Courses aren't exactly the most environmentally friendly places, and many of the folks moving to be near them are more "concerned about amenities than the environment".

There's an organization here, though, Sustainable Sandhills, doing a great job promoting, well, sustainability.

Hi everybody

Im back from DC, but only long enough to do laundry and sleep. While there someone I met came up with a fantastic idea.

Put together a living wage amendment in every red state and call it the "Matthew 25" Amendment.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Love it.

Most excellent.

When people ask why I'm a Democrat I think instead of saying, "Because I'm for Individual Rights, Accountability, Fair wages and the Common Good" I'll just say,

Matthew 25.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Asheville City Council

We've got three Democratic incumbents - one who may not seek reelection and one who was appointed to his seat when Terry Bellamy was elevated to Mayor. We've got an ongoing battle regarding partisan voting having been instituted by a 4-3 margin. This may end up being a referendum matter if the group Let Asheville Vote can get enough signatures to get it on the ballot.

We've got incumbent Brownie Newman, who's been an excellent progressive voice on the council. We've got Elaine Lite running. Elaine was instrumental in the fight against the oil-burning power plant proposal. She's got a great head for growth and development issues, and she can weather the interminable meetings. I'm excited for her.

Scrutiny Hooligans -

Sounds great, Screwy

When is the deadline for them to get all the signatures?

I'm moving into a county that has all Republican county commissioners. Ugh.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

The Deadline

The Deadline is July 14, and there will be a public comment on July 10 at City Council meeting regarding a possible referendum.

The issue has really energized an odd alliance of independents, unaffiliateds, Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians. The city council folks (all progressives) who rushed the new partisan guidelines into being are taking a beating in the local press for it. It may end up costing one or more of them their seats.

Scrutiny Hooligans -

It's Not Sunday but Check This Out

Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi complained that "talk radio is running America."

Lott suggested a remedy that immediately got talk-show hosts talking: He suggested bringing back the Fairness Doctrine

Will wonders never cease?


Got ya suckas.