Dependable Erection

Friday, March 30, 2007

Are you an American? Well, Rush Limbaugh thinks you're an idiot

In fact, USA Today's got a poll: "Do you think something's wrong about the firing of eight US attorneys?" 72% said yes. 72% of the American people, a bunch of blithering idiots who have no idea what they're talking about, but yet they voted, so these polls matter . . .


Oh, and the title of Rush's entry:

it's been up all morning.

I guess Rush's staff is composed of members of the 72% of the American people who are "blithering idiots."


Continue reading Are you an American? Well, Rush Limbaugh thinks you're an idiot

Friday flower blogging

Redbud on bark, Trinity Ave., Durham NC

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Continue reading Friday flower blogging

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Duke Park bathhouse update

The most recent correspondence between the neighborhood association and the city (actually the City/County Planning Department) has been summarized and posted to the DPNA listserv by Dan Read, current association president.

Apparently, the Planning Department is concerned that the number of parking spaces may be inadequate if the bathhouse is renovated and put back into use.

Let me see if i understand this. The city of Durham ran a swimming pool at Duke Park, for which the bathhouse structure was the entrance/changing area, for over 60 years. It shut down in 1993 after a series of insurmountable structural problems.

During that time hundreds of people from around the city used the pool without parking being an issue. (There were of course other issues about the pool, including its being a segregated facility for much of its use. But that's another post.) Currently, the city has built within Duke Park one of the most modern and attractive playgrounds for the under 12 crowd for miles around. As many as 200 people will be using the playground on a weekend afternoon, most of them arriving in cars. There is no place to park within two blocks of the park. Part of the problem is that the city Parks and Recreation Department has closed off the parking lot in the north end of the park and converted it into a storage area.

Now, the Planning Department is raising a red flag about parking for a building which it has allowed to sit abandoned and deteriorating for nearly 14 years?

You've got to be kidding me.

On edit: Let me clarify. When i say there is no place to park within two blocks of the park, what i mean is that with 200 people in the park, all 45 or so parking spaces around the park have already been taken.

Continue reading Duke Park bathhouse update

Bears repeating

The tragic death of Jason Ray, the UNC-Chapel Hill senior who played Tar Heel team mascot Rameses, is the latest reminder of the senseless danger of pedestrian-unfriendly roadways. Reports say that Ray was walking along New Jersey's Route 4, returning to his hotel room from a convenience store at about 4 p.m., when he was hit by an SUV. The driver wasn't drunk, according to police. It was just an accident on a road designed for cars, not for people. Sad to say, such an accident might have happened on Raleigh's Capital Boulevard, where eight people have been killed along a 10-mile stretch since 2002. Or it might have happened on U.S. 15-501 between Durham and Chapel Hill—in fact, a similar incident did happen there in 1999, when two lacrosse players from George Mason University, in town for a match with UNC-Chapel Hill, were struck by a car while trying to get from a shopping center to their hotel room. And last year, UNC Emeritus Psychology Professor David Galinsky was killed trying to cross Fordham Boulevard on his way to a Tar Heels game and Arthur McClean was killed the same day, trying to cross U.S. 15-501 near Southern Village.

Makeshift memorials are scattered across the Triangle's dangerous intersections, even as more hotels, restaurants and shopping centers are built there. Many of those intersections are under the purview of the state Department of Transportation, for which pedestrian safety continues to be among the lowest priorities. How long will traffic engineers continue to ignore these deaths?

Independent Weekly

Continue reading Bears repeating

Didn't see that coming

From the Charlotte Observer:

Despite sagging lottery revenue, Senate Democrats say they won't support Gov. Mike Easley's proposal to make more money available for prizes.

Easley's idea: More prizes equals more players, adding up to a bigger jackpot for education.

He sees it as a way to spark interest in the N.C. Education Lottery, which began to great fanfare a year ago this week. Passed by a single vote in 2005, the lottery has generated $220 million for education.

But overall, it has raised just $883 million -- well below the $1.2 billion once projected.

Easley's proposal appears to have little legislative support.

"I don't think we want to do anything with the lottery because you might see an amendment that would repeal it," said Sen. David Hoyle, a Gaston County Democrat. "We better just leave it well enough alone."

Supporters have called the lottery's initial projections unrealistic. Skeptics say they're not surprised by its less-than-stellar performance.

"What we're seeing from the lottery is what those people who opposed (it) said all along -- that the amount raised would not meet the rosy projections," said Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. "It's an unreliable source of revenue."

Actually, i did see that coming. Along with a whole lot of other folks.

I don't really care if the State wants to be in the gambling business. People should be allowed to make their own decisions whether or not they want to participate in these kinds of games. But don't bet the educational system on the lottery. It's a losing proposition.

(h/t to Blue NC)


Continue reading Didn't see that coming

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Today in the Herald-Sun

the Herald-Sun this morning has a notice on its news pages stating that registration will be required to read the paper online effective mid-April.

One assumes that this will enable the paper to better identify its readers, and provide more targeted advertising, with the goal of increasing both ad rates and revenues.

With luck, they'll use the increased revenues to install some spell-checking software.

Continue reading Today in the Herald-Sun

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Real journalism

This is pretty obvious, but sometimes the obvious never gets said or noticed. Josh Marshall is the I.F.Stone of the 21st Century. Everyday he's got something new showing the utter depravation of our current administration. We're lucky to have him.


Continue reading Real journalism

East Durham

I hope everyone who stops by here has taken the opportunity to read Gary's photo essay on East Durham, and the continuing loss of historically significant properties there. Especially check out the comments section for insight into why Durham is such a remarkable place to live in the early 21st century.

Gary's post and the ensuing comments provoke a couple of thoughts. First, i'm fascinated by the revelation that the Trinity Park Neighborhood Association has contested elections for its Board of Directors. In my neighborhood, we're lucky if we can get a quorum on election night so that our unopposed slate is considered duly elected.

Second, though, is the revelation that the problem with Neighborhood Improvement Services in East Durham is that they're too active. My experience in trying to get NIS to deal with absentee and negligent landlords has been exactly the opposite. Pit bull breeders, auto repair shops, committers of domestic violence, have all been my neighbors over the past couple of years. And i can say in all honesty that the landlords of these properties, despite numerous attempts at dialog, don't give a shit about what happens on them, so long as the rent is paid.

Fortunately, this class of tenant tends to move out fairly quickly. Unfortunately, there seems to be a nearly endless supply of them. And one of the results of allowing this kind of behavior is that good neighbors disappear, and more houses become vacant. And this can happen anywhere, not just East Durham. Take a walk through the 1600 and 1700 block of Avondale Drive and you'll see what i mean.

I'd be happy to see a little bit of proactive enforcement from NIS, as well as the Planning Department which also has some responsibilities in this area, before we reach the point of deciding what to do with a host of condemned buildings.


Continue reading East Durham

Monday, March 26, 2007

I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like . . .

So sang Syd Barrett 40 some years ago.

In Durham, we've now got a bike co-op, and you can join it if you'd like.

Kudos to Alison, Phillip, and everyone else involved in getting the Durham Bike Co-op up and running. There was a great turnout on Sunday, including a crew who had ridden up from, wait for it, Raleigh. And arrived in one piece.

The co-op will set up shop on Sundays at the Bull City Headquarters, offering group rides and instruction in bicycle repair and maintenance. Memberships are reasonable, and, like every other co-op you've ever heard of, they're looking for volunteers. And donations.

Almost everyone's got an old bike that could use a new home, right?

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Continue reading I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like . . .

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

S. Roxboro St., Durham, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

The feel good story of the week

From the AssPress:

Jeb Bush denied honor at U. of Florida

University of Florida President Bernie Machen says he was "tremendously disappointed" with the school's Faculty Senate vote to deny former Gov. Jeb Bush an honorary degree.

The Senate voted 38-28 Thursday against giving the honorary degree to Bush, who left office in January.

. . .

University officials said they could not recall any precedent for the Senate rejecting the nominees put forth by the Faculty Senate's Honorary Degrees, Distinguished Alumnus Awards and Memorials Committee. The committee determines whether nominees deserve consideration according to standards that include "eminent distinction in scholarship or high distinction in public service."

"The committee endorsed him," Machen said. "It is unheard of that a faculty committee would look at candidates, make recommendations and then (those candidates) be overturned by the Senate."

Bernie, i'm afraid i have some rather bad news for you.

It ain't unheard of any more.

And when it comes to all things Bush Family, i suspect you're going to be hearing a lot more for the next generation or so, as a majority of Americans not only realizes how much damage this dynasty has done to our country, but also realizes how much power remains, as a result of the democratic foundation of our Constitution, in the hands of the people.

It may be marginally unfair to Jeb, who is after all not the complete nation wrecker that his brother is, but if that's the price of restoring democracy to the US, he needs to get ready to pay it.

I'm sure there are universities in Argentina or Uzbekistan that would be happy to grant the Governor an honorary degree. Perhaps he'll enjoy his visit so much that he'll bring his extended family along for permanent residence.


Continue reading The feel good story of the week

Friday, March 23, 2007

More from Steve Buckley

Oh sweet Jesus, now they've done it. Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley (see the post below) has accepted the Durham Bulls' invitation to come down on June 30 and partake of the "minor league experience" of a game against the Toledo Mud Hens.

Our boy really gets in to the spirit of the thing too:

That any media outlet in North Carolina would even touch this thing only hammers home the original point: With Duke having gone up in flames in the first round of the NCAA tourney, there really isn’t anything going on in Durham these days.


The Bulls would like me to enjoy a “Complete Durham Bulls Experience,” including the following: Dragging the infield with the grounds crew, working an inning as the public address announcer, working an inning as a hot dog vendor, and “sumo wrestling a local sports columnist.”

I’ll pass on that last one, owing both to a bad back and, having met many North Carolina sportswriters, my unwillingness to come away from the experience with tobacco spittle and beef jerky all over my hands.

I don’t know much about the new park in which the Bulls play, other than that there is a Blue Monster in left field and that the oversized bull that was used as a prop in “Bull Durham” is now on display on the concourse level of the new yard.

The Bulls no doubt assumed my response to their press release would be to write some kind of column ripping their team, their ballpark, their city.

They were wrong. Instead, they tricked my editor into assigning me to attend a Durham Bulls game this season.

Steve, maybe you'll be a better person for coming down to Durham and enjoying our hospitality, maybe you won't. Come down a day early and catch the free music at the Friday night Warehouse Blues series in West Village. Have a beer at a sidewalk table on one of our fine dining establishments on Main St. Shoot a game of pool at the Green Room. Buy a condo downtown for what a parking space costs up in Beantown.

Quite frankly, i don't really care what you do when you're in Durham. I'll be too busy enjoying myself.

Sorry about the Bruins, though.

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Continue reading More from Steve Buckley

"This isn’t a swipe at Duke, or at Durham."

So says Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley in a piece published earlier in the week upon the occasion of the Boston College Eagles being knocked out of the NCAA tournament.

Seems that some Eagles boosters are upset that their plucky little team isn't more like Duke, their plucky little arena isn't more like Cameron, and their plucky little coach doesn't make as many cheesy commercials as Coach K. So Buckley puts on his civic booster hat to remind his readers that they live in Boston, and they've got a major league baseball team. You know, and they play against the Yankees sixteen times a year. Whereas Durham is "just another minor league tank town." And we get to play against Cpl. Klinger's beloved Toledo Mud Hens.

So there.

I've got two words for Mr. Buckley.


And Bruins.

Now talk to me about minor league towns.

Seriously, what would Mr. Buckley's analyst think about his need to defend Boston's sports quotient against Durham? We know that Durham wasn't even on the map when Paul Revere was riding through town at midnight. We're OK with that.

Just like most of us are resigned to the fact that Duke football's never gonna be a contender. It's just not that big a deal.

More concerning, though, is the response of the Durham Bulls, which have put out a press release inviting Mr. Buckley to come to a Bulls - Mud Hens game in June to get the "full Minor League Baseball experience." Work the scoreboard for an inning. Drag the infield. Race Wool E. Bull around the bases. (That might be worth the price of admission, to see Wool E.'s 10 year losing streak come to an end.)

What good can possibly come of this invitation? Do they think that Buckley might have a good time, see the error of his ways, and apologize? Do we need Buckley's apology to validate ourselves?

I like the minor league experience. I like not having to plan my trip to the ballpark in February, and not having to raid my retirement account to pay for it. I like not having to pay 7 bucks for a parking spot two miles away from the gate. I could do without the sumo wrestling, to be honest, but some folks find it charming.

No, better that the Steve Buckley's of the world stay smug in their press boxes in Boston and Detroit, and New York. If they come down here and realize how likable the minor league experience is, next thing you know, they'll be bringing their friends and relations. And that means i'll have to start buying my tickets in February.

And paying the big bucks to park.

No thanks.

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Continue reading "This isn’t a swipe at Duke, or at Durham."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

This is going to be interesting . . .

Ray Gronberg reports in the Herald-Sun this morning that as many as "seven people have emerged as prospective candidates to replace the late state Sen. Jeanne Lucas, including a former County Commissioners chairwoman, Durham's mayor pro tem and the chairman of the county Democratic Party."

As it turns out, the Durham County Democratic Party Executive Committee will get to select a nominee, although i'm pretty sure the Governor is one who actually ends up submitting the name to the state Senate.

For most of my adult life, i've looked askance at party politics. Sure, i've got opinions (you know the story on opinions, right? Everybody's got one), i've got expectations, often unmet, about candidates and policies and office holders. I've voted in every election, local and national and primary, since 1980. But when it comes to the sausage-making part of the political process, my preference has been to stay home and tend to the garden.

So i'm probably more surprised than anyone to find myself the chair of Precinct 19 Democratic Party in Durham County, with a vote in the selection of a nominee to replace Senator Lucas.

I'm looking forward to a very educational experience.

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Continue reading This is going to be interesting . . .

Monday, March 19, 2007

An (all too) familiar scene

Brightleaf Square, Durham, NC, 4 years after the US invasion "to disarm Iraq."

People still gather here every Saturday to express their dismay over the war. To me, it seems surreal. Two thirds of the American people oppose the war. Three quarters of us believe we're headed in the wrong direction. The burden of sacrifice is carried by an almost minuscule portion of the populace. Our elected officials are too chickenshit to carry out their constitutional obligations.

Leave it to the kids to cut through the bullshit.


Continue reading An (all too) familiar scene

Shorter John Locke Foundation

Pave the whole city. Widening I-40 the last time worked so well, we need to expand the program to all of Durham.

UPDATE: Kevin has a more sophisticated analysis here.


Continue reading Shorter John Locke Foundation

Today's traffic update

Via Kevin, i learned today that i live in a traffic monitoring zone.

Check out the screen grab from WTVD-11 this morning last week, as the newscaster gives the traffic update on the Roxboro/Mangum corridor.

Come on, people, these are residential streets. We're jogging and walking our dogs on these streets at 7:30 in the morning. We shouldn't be dodging goddamned commuter traffic too.

Oh, and if anyone from NCDOT drops in. The Duke Park neighborhood, like most of Durham's urban neighborhoods, was built long before your interstate highway. We didn't grow up around your roads; you built your roads through our neighborhoods.


Continue reading Today's traffic update

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Polling funnies

Duncan links to a Newsweek poll which shows Bush's overall approval rating at 30%. (Question 2). That's not unexpected, as it fits in with other national surveys.

I like the response to Question 23 best, myself.

23. Are you currently married, living with a partner, or neither?

Total Evangelical Republicans

59% 78% - Married

6% 0% - Living with a partner

34% 22% - Single/Not married

1% 0% - Don't know

If you're having trouble parsing the table, let me explain. When asked the question "Are you currently married, living with a partner, or neither?", one percent of respondents answered "I don't know."

I can only hope that this was due to rounding error.


Continue reading Polling funnies

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Highway 70, Hillsborough, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pace Cars

Spend any time reading any of Durham's lively neighborhood listservs, or even just talking to your neighbor for a few minutes following your team's elimination from the NCAA tournament, and the problem of speeding, especially on Durham's neighborhood streets, is going to come up. If i happen to be the person you're speaking with, it'll come up rather quickly, but regardless, sooner or later, someone will mention that they were out walking the dog and some idiot blew by them at 55 miles an hour in a 25 mph zone, possibly getting airborne over a speed hump down the street which was installed precisely for the purpose of encouraging aforementioned idiot to maintain a reasonable speed.

It's a problem with multiple causes, and hence, multiple solutions. In some cases there's a conflict over what the purpose of the road is. North Duke St. and Guess Road, for example, are five lanes wide, with unbroken center left turn lanes. NCDOT designed those roads to move as many people as possible between North Durham and I-85 during rush hour. The rest of the time, all that wide open asphalt, with few traffic lights and fewer crosswalks, is an invitation to cruise at 50 mph and higher, despite the posted 35 limit. The one-way pairs of Duke and Gregson, and Roxboro and Mangum, serve a similar function between I-85 and the Durham Freeway. The proposed design for the widened Alston Ave looks very much like the recently widened Guess Rd. and one imagines that traffic will function similarly should this design actually be built.

But even on roads which might appear to be less inviting to speeders, like Club Blvd., or Markham Ave, which are narrower and lined with parked cars, speeding is an issue. At last Monday's Coffee with Council for District 2, traffic calming and pedestrian safety was the single most discussed issue, raised by more than half a dozen speakers from as many different neighborhoods.

Bad road design can only be blamed for so much of our speeding problems. Lax enforcement of existing laws is also a factor. Community tolerance of speeding is another. Combine all of these, and you end up with a local environment in which a high percentage of people behind the wheel have no qualms about cutting through your neighborhood surface streets at freeway speeds.

That's what makes the new Durham Pace Car program so interesting. Durham drivers participating in the program slap a yellow magnet on their cars, like the one above. They agree to drive the speed limit (and not run red lights or stop signs, yield to pedestrians, etc.), especially on neighborhood streets. They have no enforcement capabilities, and there's no hot line to the police department when someone passes you on Gregson at 50. But, as people make a commitment to drive at safe speeds in Durham's neighborhoods, and a decision to be visible about it, steps are taken to change the culture which allows a relative handful of idiots to force the city to spend scarce resources on physical traffic calming measures.

I've heard some stories from Pace Car drivers of other people getting pissed off when stuck behind them, pulling alongside at the next light and flipping them off. I haven't seen anything like that in my first week with the sticker on my car.

Hopefully, we'll be seeing a lot more of these around town in the coming months. It would be helpful if the Durham Police would make the program a little more prominent on their website. Right now you have to download the pdf, or call and ask to have a copy of the brochure mailed to you. Fill it out, return it to Officer Hester, and wait for your magnet to arrive in the mail.

Sticking a copy of the brochure in the next round of water bills would be a good thing. Contacting neighborhood associations and making sure articles run in neighborhood newsletters would help, too.

I've long said that changing the culture in which speeding is OK will take a decade or so. I recall living in Phoenix, AZ, seeing police at every elementary school during drop-off and pick-up hours, enforcing the 15 mph limit ruthlessly. I remember being shocked while, standing on the curb, traffic in both directions stopped and waved me across Van Buren street. The Pace Car program is a good first step.

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Continue reading Pace Cars

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Redbud day

Curiously, the warm weather we had back in early to mid-January prompted the maples to bloom a month or so ahead of schedule, and they're just so much shabbier than they were last year:

Not so the redbud, whose blooms were visible for the first time this season along US 70 on the way to work this morning.

With luck, i'll have some pictures up by the weekend.


Continue reading Redbud day

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sununu calls for Gonzales to be fired

The first Republican Senator has called for the President to fire Alberto Gonzales from his position as Attorney General.

Just thought i'd take this opportunity to remind everyone that barely two years ago, every Republican in the Senate, including Sununu, voted to confirm Mr. Gonzales. Six Democrats joined them:

Democrat Senators Supporting Gonzalez
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Joe Lieberman (D-CT)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Ken Salazar (D-CO)


Continue reading Sununu calls for Gonzales to be fired

Betty Hutton

Christa's one of my favorite radio hosts. Betty Hutton's her favorite performer.

Betty died this week. Christa talks about what Betty meant to her.

You can listen to Christa's show on Sunday, from 3 - 5 pm, here. She'll be doing a two hour tribute to Betty Hutton. I'm sure it will be worth your time.

Continue reading Betty Hutton

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Some more Carolina Chocolate Drops

Haven't mentioned the Chocolate Drops in a while. But via a conversation on the Cowboy Junkies message board, i was introduced to Michael Johnathan's Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour webcasts.

Check out the archives for show number 430, featuring the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Kruger Brothers. Some great performances and interviews with these local music heroes.

Other bands of local note with performances in the archives include Chatham County Line (#411) and Tres Chicas (#400). Well worth a listen.

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Continue reading Some more Carolina Chocolate Drops

Duke Park bathhouse followup

So i had a conversation with a DP&R staffer last night after the Coffee with Council session. The way i understand it, the Duke Park bathhouse has deteriorated to the point where city inspectors cannot give it a Certificate of Occupancy (CO), meaning that the city cannot legally lease it to the neighborhood association.

The city of Durham, of course, has no plans to bring the building into compliance, and no money to do so even if it had the plans.

The neighborhood association believes that we can raise the funds and attract the volunteer efforts needed to rehab the building, but we can't do so until it has a CO.

Can you say Catch-22? I knew you could.

If i had any faith in the city's ability to, ahem, erect a replacement facility within my lifetime, i wouldn't have that much of a problem with tearing the old bathhouse down. But, alas, the city's demonstrated erection capabilities are not so dependable. Much as i like preserving the past, my main interest here is functionality. Working bathrooms, for a starter. Meeting space for the neighborhood. Educational and cultural programs for the larger community. As a practical matter, we're not going to get a new building to meet those needs, and the only reason we can't get the existing building to meet them is a lack of imagination.

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Continue reading Duke Park bathhouse followup

Monday, March 12, 2007

Duke Park bathhouse

I'll be speaking to City Council tonight at an informal session called "Coffee with Council." I'll try to cram as much of the recent history of the Duke Park bathhouse into the few minutes that i'll be allotted, so i've gone ahead and made some visual aids to accompany my little talk.

Here's a condensed version of the recent history. If needed, i'll post a more detailed account later in the week.

In 1993 following irremediable maintenance issues, the city shut down the old Duke Park pool. Since the bathhouse served the pool, it too was shut down. Duke Park neighbors could not reach consensus on whether or not the pool should re-open, and the city didn't have the money to renovate it anyway, so it was left in a state of decay and disrepair for years.

Durham voters approved a park renovation bond in 1996. Durham Parks and Rec folks began meeting with DPNA and other neighbors in 97/98, in a series of charettes, to discuss what the nature of renovations in Duke Park might look like. During those meetings, a tentative budget of $850k was mentioned.

In early 2001, DP&R met with the neighborhood to unveil a very ambitious, $1.6M park renovation design. At the same meeting, they also announced that the final budget for the renovations would be $425k. Duke Park residents were asked to prioritze which of the renovations we'd like to see first.

The renovation design called for razing the bathhouse, and replacing it with a formal, but useless, park entrance structure. Neighbors decided the bathhouse was not worth tearing down. Eventually, what got done in Duke Park was a state of the art playground to replace much (but not all) of the existing 1950s era swings and slides. This structure was completed in 2005, and has become enormously popular with the under 10 crowd.

After a very lengthy process, we eventually managed to get the city to remove the decrepit and hazardous swimming pool, but the bathhouse always seemed like a structure worth saving. In 2005, a DP&R representative let us know that they would not be averse to renting the bathhouse to the neighborhood association, if DPNA would be willing to maintain it. In March 2006, we came very close to signing a lease with the city to do so. The last sticking point to be negotiated was whic party woudl retain the option to renew the lease.

Alas, in the year since we reached that point, negotiations have been fruitless; it appears that the person we originally spoke with had no authority to sign a lease, and city legal people are not at all sure that the bathhouse is worth saving. We've had a couple of engineers and architects look at the building ourselves, and their opinions have consistently been that it is worth it.

In the meantime, the City of Durham has allowed a 3,000 square foot structure to deteriorate for fourteen years, while a community groups has not been allowed to try to save it. Numerous arts and cutural groups have expressed interest in using the bathhouse space for performance, exhibition, and educational activities. The city? Well, who knows what the city's plans for this structure are.

Anyway, below are jpegs of the 4 page handout i'm presenting tonight. Click on an image to see a larger, more legible version.I'd love to hear some feedback from anyone who has worked with the city on anything similar in the recent past.

UPDATE: Had a nice chat with Kevin of Bull City Rising after the meeting tonight. And he got quite the shout-out from Councilperson Woodard about putting out the best blog in Durham. We'll see how much love Mr. Woodard gets in these pages in the future.

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Continue reading Duke Park bathhouse

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Highway 43, Greenville, NC


Continue reading Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Saturday, March 10, 2007

From the folks who brought you I-40 and other highway fiascos

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is unable to produce documentation showing that the materials it uses to build highways have been adequately tested, according to a financial audit conducted by State Auditor Les Merritt's office.

The report, released Thursday afternoon by the state auditor's office, recommended that the DOT enhance internal controls and monitor compliance with state regulations to ensure that testing information is accurately documented and that the required number of tests is conducted.

The auditor's findings come on the heels of a report detailing errors that contributed to a concrete failure on Interstate 40 in Durham that cost millions to repair. State Highway Administrator Len Sanderson resigned in November following the report.

The article, in this week's Triangle Business Journal, does go on to note that DOT "performed the required Roadway Quality Assurance tests on all but two of the 15 contracts reviewed." Which is somewhat at odds with the earlier paragraphs, which, to me at least, suggest that DOT was unable to show in writing that the RQAs had in fact been completed. Maybe the auditor's office took them at their word?

See, the problem (well, one of the problems) with the NCDOT is that their engineering staff is under the impression that they are the only folks in North Carolina capable of making decisions regarding traffic flow and other transportation needs. When any of the rabble has some ideas about how things might be safer or more environmentally benign, and has the temerity to make such a suggestion in public, NCDOT's response is always to point out that they have the expertise, and their decisions are in accord with some higher Transportation God standard that the little folk simply cannot comprehend.

That, of course, has been bullshit since day one.

Unfortunately, as Durham has learned over the past couple of years, until someone actually gets killed as a result of NCDOT's expertise, their decisions will stand.

Now we learn that they can't even follow their own documented procedures for building the kind of massive highway projects that they claim to be the best at.

I wish i were surprised.


Continue reading From the folks who brought you I-40 and other highway fiascos

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Today's recommended daily allowance of hypocrisy

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against
President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, he acknowledged in an interview with a conservative Christian group.

"The honest answer is yes," Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to be aired Friday, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press. "There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards."

Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity.

"The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge," the former Georgia congressman said of Clinton's 1998 House impeachment on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. "I drew a line in my mind that said, 'Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept ... perjury in your highest officials."

What else can you say? These people have the balls to invoke god and family values and think they can sit in judgement of the likes of you or me? Fuck Newt Gingrich. Why should anyone consider anything the man has to say about moral values, let alone consider him a a potential President of the United States?

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Continue reading Today's recommended daily allowance of hypocrisy

East End Connector

Kevin at Bull City Rising gets it.

Is this the Durham Freeway all over again, as Rev. Sylvester Williams and other East End Avenue community leaders would like to portray? Not exactly. The way I see it, the EEC is actually a key step in saving Durham's historically black neighborhoods, especially many that are historically less-advantaged than East End, along Alston, Avondale, and Holloway in eastern Durham.

It's no secret that some of Durham's more revitalized downtown neighborhoods, like Old North Durham, Duke Park, and Trinity Park, have been some of the main boosters of the East End Connector. Currently, roads like Mangum, Roxboro, Duke and Gregson are the only accessible "through streets" between North Durham and the commercial centers of downtown Durham and especially Research Triangle Park. I-85 is now a twelve-lane "wonderland" of expressway bliss (or automotive excess, take your pick), but unless you start out way west of Cole Mill Rd. towards Hillsborough, there's no direct link to the Durham Freeway. Everyone traipsing in from North Durham or from Granville County has to take the city streets, start and stop, to get to NC 147.

Does this mean that the road only serves "white privilege," as was implied during the February City Council meeting? Hardly. Yes, today's traffic problem impacts many white neighborhoods in Durham (though it's worth noting that Mangum and Roxboro also pass through areas with more diverse populations.) But Alston Ave. and Avondale Dr., both of which divide majority-black East Durham, also suffer from the same problems as their north-south neighbors to the west: too much traffic cutting between NC 147 and I-85; cars travelling at high rates of speed, making life dangerous for pedestrians and kids; noise and air pollution; and depressed property values.

Interestingly, many of the same voices who've supported the East End Connector are among the loudest in opposition to NCDOT's misconceived plans to widen Alston Avenue. What urban neighborhoods in Durham need -- be they east or west, historically privileged or disadvantaged -- are calm, low-traffic roads, not high-speed thoroughfares.

Let's echo that call for a rethinking of the Alston Ave. project. NCDOT's Guess Road widening, which the Alston Ave. project resembles in a not inconsequential way, has already taken the life of one Riverside high school student who tried to cross in the early morning hours. We really need a Department of Transportation that is able to balance priorities other than moving as many cars through our neighborhoods as possible.


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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

News Roundup


Libby found guilty in CIA leak case


Libby found guilty in CIA leak trial


White House official Libby guilty


Libby Guilty of Lying in C.I.A. Leak Case


Jurors convict Libby on four of five charges

Fox News:

via NewsCorpse

UPDATE: Jesus Christ, someone's got way too much time on their hands. Check out this collection of Fox Noise screengrabs.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hail, and farewell

Any number of world cities boast superhero residents, at least on the big screen or in the brightly colored pages of comic books. But in the world of potholes, broken glass, and unsafe crosswalks, Durham has stood alone as the home town of a real live superhero.

Day job and secret identity? Check.

Cape and costume? Check.

Mission? Saving the world with rock and roll.

Super powers? Have you ever seen the Torch Marauder? If you've been to a Torch show, you don't have to ask about the man's powers.

Alas, all things must pass, and the blue-faced wonder is packing up the video screen and the action figures,
and moving on to the next phase, saving the world with heavy metal.

Let it always be remembered: "As the Spiderman is amazing, as the Hulk is incredible, as the Four are fantastic, so is, the Torch Marauder!"

Thanks, Torch, and keep watching the skies.


Continue reading Hail, and farewell

Sunday morning church marquee blogging

Highway 264, Greenville, NC


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