Dependable Erection

Friday, October 30, 2009

Should have just bought the damn land

Unsurprisingly, the ruling that the petition presented by opponents of the 751 Assemblage development in south Durham was invalid, has been challenged. Petitioners claimed that their documented represented more than 20% of the property owners involved; the county originally ruled that it did not. At stake was a Board of County Commissioners vote allowing for a redrawing of the boundaries of Jordan Lake.

Had the petition been declared valid, a supermajority of Commissioners would have been required to approve the new boundaries. According to news reports, County Manager Mike Ruffin is claiming that even if the petition is ultimately upheld, it won't affect the already taken vote, unless a court rules it invalid. Others seem to think that the vote will be automatically rendered invalid if the petition is ultimately upheld.

What a waste of time and resources this is all turning out to be, and as far as i'm concerned the blame sits squarely on the shoulders of former Planning Department Director Frank Duke. Everyone seems to agree that Duke overstepped his authority by agreeing to accept the new boundaries, as drawn by a survey paid for by the developer, in a unilateral move before he packed up and headed to Virginia Beach. All the legal maneuvering and shenanigans since then stem from that decision.

The burden, of course, is going to be on the petitioners to come up with the money to keep the process going. The developers, who stand to turn their $18 million investment into a whole lot more than that should they ever actually build this thing, will have no money problems.

All of which reinforces the point i made a couple of weeks ago. The only sure way to fight unwanted development is to own the land yourself. The government's vested interest is not in parkland or undeveloped property. I'm somewhat agnostic on this development myself; i don't really see a high density development out in the middle of nowhere in a county with no regional transit system as doing a whole lot of good, especially when it comes to creating jobs that might be filled by low income residents who probably lack the transportation necessary to get to them in the first place. On the other hand, more low density suburbia is the last thing we need next to Jordan lake. So consider me a casual observer of the process.

One thing i'll say, though. I'm much more likely to donate money for an effort to actually acquire the land than i am for continued legal challenges.


Continue reading Should have just bought the damn land

Thursday, October 29, 2009

WTF is up with this headline?

Obama girls' vaccine: Favoritism or good example?

I'm not even going to read the article. I mean, he's the fucking president. He's got some things on his mind more important than worrying about whether his kids are going to catch swine flu.

Did the AP run one single article in 8 years asking whether or not Bush's kids got favorable treatment for anything? Or was it just accepted that they would because they came from America's royal family?


Continue reading WTF is up with this headline?

Dear Senator Hagan

You have correctly identified the problem. Why are you so afraid to implement the solution?
Premiums for employer-provided coverage have doubled in the past nine years, growing three times faster than wages. Health insurance costs for self-employed workers, many of whom own small businesses, have risen 74 percent since 2001. On our current trajectory, health care premiums for the average family will rise to nearly $25,000 by the year 2016. North Carolinians are struggling to afford health insurance coverage, and one in five North Carolinians has no health insurance. Our nation's unprecedented economic crisis has made it even more difficult for working families to manage medical costs while making ends meet. Without a doubt, our health care system is in dire need of repair.

. . .

In order to ensure that the Community Health Insurance Option competes on a level playing field, I insisted that it meet federal and state solvency requirements, that payment rates be negotiated, rather than tied to Medicare as some suggested, and that doctors and hospitals be free to choose whether to participate.

You see, for Kay Hagan, the important thing is that the playing field be level for the insurance companies that have been fucking us over for the past 20 years. Not that all Americans have equal access to high quality health care, but that the insurance companies, who along with Major League Baseball enjoy exemption from US anti-trust laws, not be forced to compete with a large insurance pool managed by the government in a not-for-profit fashion.

Thank you Senator Hagan for so clearly stating your priorities.

While I support the Community Health Insurance Option as a backstop insurance option for individuals who do not otherwise have access to affordable coverage, some have suggested alternative plans that may acheive the same goals. In particular, there has been a lot of discussion regarding establishment of non-profit health insurance co-ops or withholding the establishment of a public option unless health insurance costs meet specified reduction targets. I believe these ideas deserve full consideration as possible solutions.

What the fuck does that even mean? Withholding the establishment of a public option unless health insurance costs meet specified reduction targets? In a year where Social Security has announced no cost-of-living increases, NC BCBS has already announced an 11% rate increase. I'll be hearing from my insurance carrier at work within the next 3 weeks how much my premiums will be increasing next year. I can't imagine it'll be less than 10%, and possibly another 20%. I've been at my current job 13 years. When i started, all of my premiums were included in my benefits, and i only had to pay to cover my kids. Was about 100 bucks a month. My current premiums, for myself only, are $160/month, or just under $2k a year. Figure at least another 25 bucks a month this go 'round. Health insurance is a license to print money for the insurers. Kay Hagan sees no reason to change this arrangement. And she's a Democrat. One of 60 in the Senate.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. It is truly an honor to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate, and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me in the future should you have any further questions or concerns.

Well, if you don't start, you know, representing, you won't be having this opportunity after your first time expires.

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Continue reading Dear Senator Hagan

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

9 1/2 weeks

Until Durham County's ordinance against dog tethering takes effect.

In theory, this year has been an "educational" year in which the county has been informing its resident dog owners about the upcoming changes in the law. Beginning January 1 through June 30, dog owners who keep their dogs tethered while unattended will receive warning citations from the county Animal Control Department. July 1 will see those citations start to carry financial penalties.

Orange County's warning period for a similar law actually begins in November of this year, and runs through May, after which violations will be punishable by a fine.

I'm not holding my breath that the serial dog abusers who keep renting the house behind mine will ever receive a citation, but maybe, just maybe, their dogs will get lucky and get to spend a little time not tied up. I have a hunch that the complaint i file on January 1 will be the first received by the AC Department.


Continue reading 9 1/2 weeks

Monday, October 26, 2009


So, now that the bulk of the renovation projects are finished, i sat down tonight to install the new 802.11n wireless router that i bought last month.

The first box i bought was a PoS from a company called TrendNET. Spec'd out nice, and i bought the router and 3 USB wireless N adapters to go with it. One of the adapters was DOA, the other two worked sporadically, and the router could not use DHCP properly, and constantly assigned IP addresses out of the specified range. It went back to the vendor after 3 days.

I bought the D-Link cause i've been using an 802.11g router from them for the past 3 years, and it's been flawless.

First problem was that the D-Link adapters didn't run on Macs. So they went back.

Then, the software for the router was bad on the supplied CD. No quality control whatsoever. When you download the corrected software from the D-Link site, you also get another version of the corrupted software as well, in addition to a version that works. Install problems occur when the router acts as though it's rebooting to apply the changes in settings you've just made, though it really isn't. So you've got to manually reboot the router to get those changes to take effect. Once i figured all that out, getting all the computers in the house to connect to the internet was fairly straightforward.

Here's the deal, though.

I bought this device because it comes with "SharePort" software which allows you to "Share a USB printer or storage device on your network."

That's what i need. It's called network attached storage. I want a single hard drive with all of my music in one central location that can feed iTunes on the 3 computers that are hooked up to speakers for listening anywhere in the house. Network attached storage. The copy on the box reads "With SharePort technology you can connect a USB printer or storage device to your router and allow users to access them from anywhere on the network. Conveniently turn your existing USB printers and storage devices into network devices for everyone to share."

What a surprise to discover that only one computer at a time can actually "share" a device using "SharePort." Seriously. I must have read a hundred pages of documentation, reviews, and hype about this device before i bought it without encountering that limitation written down anywhere.

Why bother?

Probably too late to return this sucker for a full refund, since i bought it 6 weeks ago, and just got around to installing it tonight.

Now, i will say that i've been listening to streaming music for the past 2 hours running through my computer from the hard drive upstairs. So it works, and does that much pretty well. But that one connection at a time limitation is a deal breaker.

And it should have been mentioned somewhere.

UPDATE: D-Link tech support confirms the one user at a time limitation with the SharePort software.

Linksys tech support says their competing products offer multiple simultaneous connections to attached USB drives.

Guess what i'll be doing today?


Continue reading D-Link

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Blue Cross Blue Shield

Those fucks.

Looks like they're spamming their mailing list with pre-printed, pre-paid postcards (hey, it's not a bad technique. I've used it before) to Senator Kay Hagan, urging her to oppose meaningful health care reform. There's some suspicion that if they are indeed using their customer base as a mailing list, they're in violation of some law or other. But they run the risk, as the NCGOP did the other day, of giving the other side a means of getting their message across.

>Here's Mrs. D's response to BCBS:

Did you get one of these? How did you respond?


Continue reading Blue Cross Blue Shield

Friday, October 23, 2009

First family

Official White House portrait of America's first family. Pat Buchanan must be gagging.


Continue reading First family

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Whatever it takes

TPM has this story about State Senator Phil Berger (R- Guilford) delivering a wheelbarrow of surveys to Gov. Perdue's office today. The surveys were supposed to represent pro-GOP views, but it looks like Senator Berger got his bad self punk'd.

Loved this question:
"Do you support sending the North Carolina National Guard to help secure our southern border?"

Actually, yes. Anything to keep those South Carolinians where they belong. As the saying goes, too small for a republic, too big for an insane asylum.


Continue reading Whatever it takes

Rutting season

Awfully glad it's not my job to clean up the road kill on I-85 this week.


Continue reading Rutting season

At last

Someone figured out a way to shut Steve Phillips up.

Although, as i recall, ESPN fired Harold Reynolds on the spot when a staffer accused him of sexual harassment a few years ago (a charge which Reynolds continues to deny.) Phillips is merely suspended, which isn't much of a big deal as ESPN is pretty much done with baseball except for highlight shows until April.

The scary thing? Omar Minaya is making Phillips' tenure as the Mets GM look like the golden age.

UPDATE: He's gone.


Continue reading At last

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chase scene

Some folks on my neighborhood listserv witnessed what appeared to be a high speed chase through a school zone yesterday afternoon. At least one person is adamant that the pursuing vehicle was a Durham PD cruiser. DPD says they weren't involved, their guidelines prohibit chases through school zones, it was probably one of the other law enforcement agencies operating in town.

Anybody else see this? Mid-afternoon pickup time at Club Blvd. school?


Continue reading Chase scene

Congratulations, it's a deck

One project mostly completed, one more to finish up.


Continue reading Congratulations, it's a deck

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Affirmative action

I do not think those words mean what Richard Herman thinks they mean.
In e-mails released by the university and in news reports since May, it became clear that Herman played a key role in what the university called its Category I list — a list of student with political connections whose applications for places at the flagship Urbana-Champaign campus were closely tracked. Some of those applicants were admitted over more qualified ones.

In some e-mails, Herman pushed for the admission of underqualified applicants to the university's law school and agreed to provide scholarship money in exchange.


Continue reading Affirmative action


I do not think that word means what Edwin Murwin, Jr., thinks it does:
"I have always abhorred in the past, and shall continue to do so in the future, anti-Semitism in any form whatsoever. I ... beg that any and all who were offended will accept my deep felt apology."

Bet he thinks Sammy Davis, Jr. was a pretty good dancer, too.

But wait, there's more:
The State newspaper, in Columbia, S.C., reported that Mr. Ulmer e-mailed a statement explaining that the comment was one he had “heard many times in my life, truly in admiration for a method of bettering one’s lot in life.”

Bet he never Jewed down a car salesman for a better price.


Continue reading Anti-Semitism

Deep thought

I still watch my pennies, but my dollars have never taken care of themselves.

Continue reading Deep thought

Monday, October 19, 2009


How sad is it that i've been reduced to rooting for two teams from Los Angeles?


Continue reading Sad

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Be you

Just wanted to take a moment to thank Dorian over at the Beyú Caffe for the tour the other night. If he's even 50% successful in realizing his vision for this new coffeehouse, this will be a great addition to downtown culture.

And very nice of him to conduct his renovations without papering over the windows. Don't see that every day.

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Continue reading Be you

Friday, October 16, 2009

Americans for Prosperity

You may recall that last year, in the run-up to the vote on a prepared meals tax for Durham, revenues raised by which would have been used to fund art and cultural activities, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People found an ally in the North Carolina chapter of Americans For Prosperity in opposing the tax. I thought it was somewhat of a strange pairing, but hadn't realized that Art Pope was one of the players in AfP. I fully expect that next year, when the city of Durham starts contemplating a new sales tax to raise revenues for a regional transit system, that we'll see more of the same from DCABP and NCAFP. Would love to be proven wrong on this, though.

So here's a video of Rachel Maddow and national AFP president Tim Phillips, for your enlightenment. Pretty amazing that a local group headed by member of the North Carolina Democratic Party State Executive Committee can find a way to make common cause with this group.

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Continue reading Americans for Prosperity

And the word is . . .


On the radio last night, Kevin and i got sidetracked a bit into a discussion of the sun, started by my observation that last night's show was the first of the season to start after it was completely dark outside.

I knew that the path the sun travels in the sky throughout the year is roughly figure 8 shaped (actually more like the infinity sign, with one end larger than the other, but couldn't recall the word for this.

And that word is analemma. You can read all about it here.

And look at a pretty amazing analemma image at the NASA site. What's remarkable about this one is that one of the exposures of the sun was taken during a total eclipse.

Maybe i read about analemmas here.

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Continue reading And the word is . . .

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

AP, via TPM.

He goes on, of course, to say that he's not a racist. I have my own opinion on that, but either way, he's about as ignorant as all get out.


Continue reading WTF?!

Deep thought

It's amazing how much of the project consists of surface preparation.


Continue reading Deep thought

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great moments in marketing


It's like lemonade, only colon-y.


Continue reading Great moments in marketing

Cap'n Lou

Lou Albano 1933 - 2009


Continue reading Cap'n Lou


There's an AP article this morning talking about the town of Albert Lea, MN, where apparently many of the residents have collectively gone on a diet and exercise kick. Kids are walking to school, adults are walking to work, etc.

With organizers' help, the city crammed five years of sidewalk and bike trail construction into a year to make exercise easier for its 18,000 residents.

Durham still hasn't met the promises of the 1996 sidewalk bond, and every new sidewalk project has to be monitored closely by its advocates to make sure it doesn't slip off the schedule and get pushed into the next budget cycle.

Backwards way of doing the city's business, if you ask me.

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Continue reading Ass-backwards

Minority opinion

I think Rush Limbaugh should be allowed to buy any damn sports franchise he can afford.

Sometimes that boil needs to lanced, not hidden away.

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Continue reading Minority opinion

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Things that don't make sense - part 2

A month or so ago, lots of people got their knickers all in a twist because someone in my neighborhood posted a couple of signs claiming that our 25 mph speed limit would be enforced by "angry neighbors with paintball guns." Sensationalist reporting ensured the story was picked up by media outlets as far away as Texas, Cleveland, and Colorado, not to mention by the Drudge report and CNN. Police Chief Jose "Overtime" Lopez had a few choice things to say about how dangerous it might be to drive through a neighborhood while you're keeping an eye out for people with paintball guns. All of this within 4 hours of the first sighting of one of three signs that were posted.

Meanwhile, on the PAC 2 listserv, we learn that three people have in fact had their windshields blown out, while driving, by someone throwing rocks at moving cars on Club Blvd., right across the street from the elementary school. Haven't seen a word about this in the papers, or heard a comment from our Police Chief, even though it's been 48 hours since the first incident. People have been killed by rocks thrown through car windshields, including in Durham.

Guess it's easier to respond to imaginary threats than actual life threatening actions.


Continue reading Things that don't make sense - part 2

Things that don't make sense - part 1

Just spent 20 minutes standing on line at the north Durham Post Office on Roxboro next to Food Lion. Still 20 people on line when i got finished at 4:15 pm.

Why does the downtown Post Office close at 2 pm? Lack of customers? Seriously?


Continue reading Things that don't make sense - part 1

Jordan Lake update

So apparently last night's BoCC vote was not actually to rezone the land around Jordan Lake, but merely to remove it from the watershed buffer protected area, so that the Board can come back at some near future date, and rezone it for the density desired by the developers of the so-called 751 Assemblage project.

As predicted, though, the vote was 3-2 in favor of the developer.

Ray Gronberg in the Herald-Sun has an excellent report up.
One can predict that when the development is actually approved, it will be the worst case scenario, lacking public transit access, and adding far fewer jobs to the local economy than its supporters hope. In fact, i'll predict that most of the jobs that end up there will go to people who don't even live in Durham.

My head hurts.

my favorite part of the HS story: "Page added that he resents claims that the commissioners are allowing more pollution in the lake."

Resent away, sir. Doesn't make it any less true.

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Continue reading Jordan Lake update

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jordan Lake

I wish i could get more worked up over this whole Jordan Lake rezoning case, which moves to its more or less inevitable conclusion tonight when the Durham County Board of Commissioners will, by a 3-2 vote*, approve Southern Durham Development, Inc.'s request to rezone 165 or acres near the lake for high-density, mixed use development.

The shenanigans surrounding this rezoning, beginning with then Planning Department Director Frank Duke unilaterally accepting a developer funded survey of the site when he appeared to have no legal basis for doing so, to the latest, in which current Planning Department Director Steve Medlin ruled that petitions submitted by opponents of the rezoning only represented 17% of the neighboring property owners, rather than the 63% claimed, confirm what should be conventional wisdom among environmental activists by now: if you want to see environmentally sensitive land protected from development, you need to own it. The Eno River Association successfully learned that lesson more than 25 years ago, and the entire community benefits from the decisions made then. Buy land, then preserve it. Don't waste your time lobbying your government to preserve it. Governments have as much a vested interest in development as developers do.

The 63% vs 17% petition is significant. Had the number of property owners on the petition exceeded the 20% threshold, then the rezoning would have needed 4 votes out of 5 on the BoCC to be approved. According to the Herald Sun, petitioners are unable to explain away the difference in methodologies used in calculating whether the threshold was met, since none of the signatures was deemed invalid.

Wonder what will happen if the board approves the rezoning 3-2, and then some weeks down the road, an appeal on the validity of the petition proves successful? Will the rezoning end up back in court again, or will it be a done deal?

More importantly, will i care?

*No inside information claimed here. In fact, i'll be happy to be proven wrong after the vote is taken.

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Continue reading Jordan Lake

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Deep thought

What Durham really needs is more pawn shops on North Roxboro Street.


Continue reading Deep thought

Friday, October 09, 2009

A few random musings

Bev Perdue - Leadership personified!

US - Honduras world cup qualifier tomorrow on Pay-Per-View? WTF? That'll build interest in US soccer.

Robert Lowry - What is the matter with these people?

Happy birthday, John Lennon.

Continue reading A few random musings

Waking up

. . . and reading that the President has won the Nobel Peace Prize is a pretty good way to start the day.

Bet he feels even better about it.

And, it provides us with today's best entertainment value - the commenters at the N&O.


Continue reading Waking up

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Let's eat!

Great article on my favorite Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver, in this week's NY Times magazine.

Maybe a trip to West Virginia is in my future.


Continue reading Let's eat!


I'm polishing my journalism cred by reprinting this press release from the city.

What: Downtown Durham Loop Two-Way Traffic Feasibility Study

Who: City of Durham Department of Public Works, Transportation and Engineering Divisions

When: Thursday, October 15, 2009, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Where: Durham City Hall

Committee Room, Second Floor

101 City Hall Plaza

Durham, N.C. 27701

Fast Facts:

* The City’s Department of Public Works is ready to present conceptual designs showing two alternatives for converting the downtown loop into two-way traffic. This workshop is in direct response to the growing interest to convert the streets that comprise the “downtown loop” (Roxboro Street, Morgan Street, Great Jones Street, and Ramseur Street) from one-way to two-way traffic to improve vehicular access to the downtown core and potentially facilitate economic redevelopment.

* During the past 12 months, Kimley-Horn has been working with the Transportation and Engineering Divisions of the City’s Department of Public Works on the feasibility study for converting these downtown streets to two-way traffic operation. Kimley-Horn studied the existing and projected year 2025 traffic conditions and has developed functional roadway/pavement marking plans for two conversion alternatives.

* City staff will be on hand to discuss the project, present the conceptual designs, answer questions, and take note of any comments and concerns at this early phase in the project.

* Additional information, including project maps of the proposed two-way conversion alternatives, is available on the City’s Web site at

* For additional information or to submit comments on the conceptual designs, contact Tim Jackson, project manager with the City’s Department of Public Works, at (919) 560-4326, ext. 30255 or via e-mail at

* The City will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who wish to participate in this information meeting. Anyone requiring special services should contact Jackson as early as possible so that arrangements can be made accordingly.

Neighborhood, bike, and pedestrian listservs are already urging people to attend the session to weigh in on the need for the city to make this project one that serves other needs than improving "improve vehicular access to the downtown core."

Looks to me like once this is done, making Roxboro and Mangum two way between downtown and I-85 is not only easy, but pretty much a necessity.


Continue reading Feasibility

20's plenty?

Via the bike and ped listserv, i learned about this UK campaign:
20's Plenty For Us was formed in order to campaign for the implementation of 20 mph as the default speed limit on residential roads in the UK.

Research has shown that the vast majority of the public would like 20 mph on residential roads. Recent changes in Dept of Transport guidelines have relaxed the recommendations and in many residential areas 20 mph limits may be set without any physical measures at all.

Portsmouth have taken the initiative and implemented a default 20 mph speed limit throughout their town in all except main arterial routes.

This site aims to provide the arguments for 20's Plenty in a coherent understood form with links to other material that shows how 20's Plenty saves lives and makes very little difference to actual journey times.

Whaddaya think? Any chance of something like that here? Hell, i'd settle for an enforced 30 mph limit on our residential thoroughfares like Roxboro & Alston. Too bad NCDOT is involved, though.

BTW - nice to see Durham police cars on I-85 monitoring traffic speeds. Would be nicer if they actually pulled people over at 75 in the 60 mph zone between exits 173 and 177. Yeah, i'm talking to you, Chevy Suburban, plate $WEL$PNT


Continue reading 20's plenty?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Deep thought

What ever happened to Wonderful Monds?


Continue reading Deep thought

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Win Twins!

Can you believe this Twins/Tigers game?


Continue reading Win Twins!


Today's primary election day in the city of Durham. Two city council seats attracted 3 or more candidates, so about 8% 4.25% of all Durham voters will make the trek to the polls to winnow the candidates down to 2 in Ward 1 and Ward 2.

Kevin took a lot of time and wrote a lot of words to explain why he's voting for the incumbents, both in the primary and the general election next month.

I go back and forth, actually.

I've come to realize that City Council is a lot of show about a lot of things that matter very little in what it actually means to live in Durham. And the question is, do you want an entertaining show, or a boring show.

There's a couple of challengers on the ballot who will certainly make the show more entertaining. And some mornings when i wake up, i think i'll vote for them.

Not this morning, though.

I was voter number nine (get it? Number 9?) at the American Legion Hall on E. Trinity Ave. at 8 o'clock. I voted for the two incumbents.

I do wonder, though, just how long we're going to be saddled with this stupid misnamed Ward system. Our Ward representatives don't actually represent a ward. They run, and represent constituencies, city wide. They have to live within the boundaries of the ward they theoretically represent, but they're voted on by voters across the entire city. What this does, if you ask me, is continue to keep our three major political action committees (People's Alliance, Friends of Durham, Committee on the Affairs of Black People) in business, and prevents a candidate from running on a neighborhood centric platform and building a coalition from the inside out, as it were.

Long past time to change that.

UPDATE: Cora Cole-McFadden . . . . . . . 4,075 69.41
Donald A. Hughes . . . . . . . . 1,035 17.63
John Tarantino. . . . . . . . . 761 12.96

Howard Clement III . . . . . . . 3,480 60.19
Matt Drew . . . . . . . . . . 714 12.35
Sylvester Williams . . . . . . . 630 10.90
Darius M. Little . . . . . . . . 627 10.84
Sandra Howell . . . . . . . . . 331 5.72

Clement -


Continue reading Vote?

Monday, October 05, 2009

How did I know?

Saw this headline, and i just knew that our own Bev Perdue would be on this list.
Six Dem Governors Hold Out On Health Care Letter

Damned if i give the Democrats another minute of my time or nickel of my money.


Continue reading How did I know?

"New expenditures"

Bob Ashley over at the Herald-Sun climbs aboard the pedestrian safety train:
But until we get serious about improving the miles of roads and streets in or city that all but repel walkers and riders, we'll be stuck with pedestrian routes that are not only discouraging, but also fatal.

He also, alas, betrays his new to the area status with this:
The city has a pedestrian plan, and hearts are in the right place. Unfortunately, this is not an environment to talk about new expenditures.

Bob missed out on the 1996 bond issue. The sidewalk portion of the bond was sold to Durham voters with the promise that those funds would provide at least one sidewalk along every major thoroughfare in Durham.

Leaving aside for the moment that this barely begins to create a safe pedestrian environment, the number of major thoroughfares in Durham that still, thirteen years later, lack sidewalks is mind-boggling. This isn't a new expense. This is a commitment that the city of Durham made to its citizens thirteen years ago. Wouldn't be too late to keep it.


Continue reading "New expenditures"

Duke Park bathhouse

I don't blog about the old bathhouse in Duke Park very often despite that it's consumed a disproportionate amount of my waking hours the past 6 years. Long time readers know the story - the old pool sat on top of a culverted branch of the Ellerbe Creek. The culvert, built probably back in the 1910s, didn't always do it's job. Sinkholes under the pool cracked it and forced its relining several times over the years. After the 1993 season, the city decided it would be ineffective to reline the pool yet again, and probably too expensive to replace the pool. So they shut it down to think about what to do with it.

For 11 years.

It wasn't until 2004 that the city, after a fairly lengthy effort on the part of neighbors, finally removed the pool and replaced it with the meadow which now hosts the annual Beaver Queen Pageant. (They didn't do such a hot job with the meadow either. After 5 years of complaining about the piss poor job of filling the hole and the drainage problems created by the substandard work, it looks like the city will be getting around to redoing the meadow sometime in the current fiscal year. Yay.)

The bathhouse, a structure that dates back to the Great Depression, was shuttered when the pool closed. We (meaning both the Duke Park Neighborhood Association and the Duke Park Preservation Initiative, a small 501(c)3 based in the neighborhood) have been attempting to negotiate a lease with the city since 2004, in order to renovate the bathhouse and turn it into a community center. So far, we've been unsuccessful.

Gary ran a particularly great post on the pool and the bathhouse early this year. Go read it if you have few minutes.

So, why write about the bathhouse today?

Sometime over the weekend, the building was broken into. Two members of Citizens On Patrol noticed some damage to the Acadia Street side of the building on Sunday, and upon closer inspection determined that someone had pried off the wooden slats in one of the windows, and then busted two of the doors in the back of the building.

This was the first time i'd been in the building since, i think 2004. At that time, it was being used by the city of Durham as a warehouse for old parking tickets. Probably 2 dozen boxes of them, maybe more. No idea if they had been paid or not. We did indicate to the Parks and Recreation Department that this probably wasn't the best use of a historic structure. We were told they'd be removed promptly.

Apparently they were. Although we have no way of knowing for sure that they weren't carted away by whoever broke in to the building.

I got to inspect the damage with some other DPNA board members when the police responded to the report of the break-in. Here's what we found:

Busted bathroom fixtures.

The remains of a swimming pool test kit and first aid kit. Note the GTE phonebook in the background.

A City of Durham "Counter Deposit" from 2002 for $20, 033.50. There's some identifying information if anyone wants to try some identity theft on the city. Assuming they're still using the same bank account.

Some utility bills from 1996. (Names blurred out in Photoshop.)

Actually, a lot of old utility bills.

Not sure if this is just mold, or if someone tried to use this as kindling at one point in time.

So, now we know why the city hasn't wanted to lease the bathhouse to a community non-profit in order to have a community center. They've been using it for overflow file storage. I think we can all agree that storing 13 year old water bill receipts and 7 year old bank deposit receipts constitutes the best possible use of one of Durham's few (and possibly only) surviving WPA projects.

I will bow to the superior knowledge of our city administrators, and withdraw from the process of trying to build a community center in the old bathhouse. I am clearly barking up the wrong tree in wanting to do something like that.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Beer Fest!

Favorite beer - New Holland Smoked Rye Doppelbock

Favorite pourers - Front St. Brewery, Wilmington, NC.

Also had a good time checking out the homebrews at Fullsteam Brewery's new space. Hopefully we'll be drinking some of Sean and Chris's brews in less than 6 months.

If you're going to the evening session, enjoy.


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Friday, October 02, 2009

Not here, not now

Looks like the US will not be hosting the 2016 Olympics, after all.

I hear Madrid's a pretty nice town.

. . . and the winner is

Rio de Janeiro!

time to start saving my pennies for my South American trip.

: Josh notes that conservatives are absolutely gleeful. Even Reuters headlined their story "IOC Rebuffs Obama."

Guess nobody noticed who the President of Brazil is.


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Mmmmm . . . beer

Tents went up at the old ballpark last night for tomorrow's Beer Festival. Yay!

Weather looks pretty perfect too.

I'll be walking there and back. Wish me luck.

Speaking of beer, they Sweetwater Girls were at the bar last night giving away samples of 420 pale ale. Has there ever been a blander micro brew on the market?


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A dimension not only of sight and sound . . .

Happy Birthday, Twilight Zone!


Continue reading A dimension not only of sight and sound . . .

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Didn't see that coming

The commander of the Durham Police Department's patrol officers and detectives has put in her retirement papers, after auditors determined that she personally approved a subordinate's hefty overtime claims.

Deputy Police Chief Beverly "B.J." Council will depart the payroll Dec. 31.

She will go on leave early next week and spend the next few days working with Police Chief Jose Lopez and other senior officials in the department "to ensure an orderly transition," City Manager Tom Bonfield said.

Council as of Wednesday remained in charge of the department's Operations Bureau, Lopez said, contradicting other sources who'd said she'd been relieved on Tuesday.

The announcement came a couple of hours after officials released a report saying that top-level commanders in the department, from Lopez on down, had been aware of and "enabled" an officer's abuse of the city's payroll system.

Had a couple of email exchanges with BJ over the past month which got a little testy. Wonder if this had anything to do with it?

Also, i think this marks Chief Lopez' first serious misstep in his tenure. A lot of stuff can be forgiven if you're doing the main job of keeping bad guys off the street. Pissing away the taxpayers' money ain't one of them.


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Your best entertainment value

Commenters over at Bull City Rising.

Pass the popcorn, this could be fun. (Full disclosure: one of them is me!)

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