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Thursday, September 30, 2010
He's out, he's in, he's out, he's, who knows?
Roy Taylor, who said Tuesday he planned to withdraw from the race for Durham County sheriff, said on Wednesday he's reconsidering that decision while his attorneys research the residency requirements for candidates.
Taylor said he's "weighing options to make sure what I was told is accurate" by the Durham County Board of Elections. N.C. General Statute 162-2 requires that candidates for sheriff be residents of the county for a year immediately prior to the election, according to Mike Ashe, director of the elections board. Taylor lived in Wake County for five months during the past year.
Are you with me so far?
Then maybe you can explain this part to me:
Ashe said he doesn't believe he gave Taylor incorrect information, but didn't want to offer a legal opinion on the 163-57 statute. But Ashe did say that Taylor transferred his voter registration from Durham County to Dinwiddie County, Va., on March 12, 2009, then re-registered in Durham County on Feb. 3, 2010.
Dinwiddie County, Virginia?
Virginia? How did that get thrown in the mix?
Look, i'd like to have a Sheriff Taylor to give me a ride home from the barber shop as much as anyone in Durham, but i'm pretty sure the original Sheriff Taylor had one house that he kept with his Aunt Bea for an awful long time, and didn't live this wandering vagabond life taking him to at least 3 counties in a year. What's up with that part of the story, anyway?
Labels: local politics
Continue reading He's out, he's in, he's out, he's, who knows?
Hey Joe - I stopped whining
Maybe the DNC and the DSCC could do the same?
Or you could help pick up the slack. Washington Democratic Part leaders supported Cal Cunningham. Nothing wrong with that, that's why we have primaries. But after Elaine defeated Cal twice, they have been less than enthusiastic about her candidacy. Why?
Beats me. Republicans rally around their candidates, even when they're batshit crazy and have no chance in hell of winning.
Elaine's won 4 statewide races in NC, and has been an effective administrator in Raleigh. She can beat do-nothing incumbent Richard Burr.
Throw her some spare change.
Continue reading Hey Joe - I stopped whining
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
If i had a vote
But where the hell is Sir Douglas Sahm on that list?
Labels: pop culture
Continue reading If i had a vote
Rubber stamp commission
The Durham County Board of Commissioners approved a rezoning request last night to allow up to 33,500 square feet of commercial development on nearly 10 acres on Glenn School Road.
Commissioners Joe Bowser, Brenda Howerton and Chairman Michael Page voted in favor of the rezoning, which changes the zoning from rural residential to allow for a yet-to-be defined commercial development between Glenn Road and Interstate 85.
Commissioners Ellen Reckhow and Becky Heron voted against the change, saying they wanted more details about the development that would be a gateway to East Durham.
Development representative Ronald Horvath said property owners couldn’t provide specific details because they are talking to different potential buyers and exploring three or four possible uses. Those uses include a small hotel, a sit-down restaurant, a gas station, and a fast food restaurant, all intended to serve I-85 traffic, he said.
Is it too damn much to ask of our elected officials that they at least find out what the hell it is they're approving when they approve rezoning requests like this? Do we really need another Quickie Mart with a Subway off the freeway in east Durham? Is this really what passes for economic development in the minds of our county commissioners?
Continue reading Rubber stamp commission
Fun while it lasted
Roy Taylor, Republican candidate for Durham County sheriff, has withdrawn from the race because of questions about his eligibility.
According to election rules, candidates must live in the county for at least one year. Taylor moved from Wake to Durham County in December 2009.
Oh, well. Maybe he can help stimulate the economy by hiring some of the underemployed to take down his campaign signs.
Labels: local politics
Continue reading Fun while it lasted
Monday, September 27, 2010
MUCH OF CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA HAS RECEIVED BETWEEN ONE AND THREE INCHES OF RAIN SINCE LATE SUNDAY MORNING. AN ADDITIONAL TWO TO THREE INCHES OF RAIN WITH LOCALLY HEAVIER AMOUNTS MAY OCCUR TODAY THROUGH TONIGHT...MOST OF IT FALLING IN A RELATIVELY SHORT TIME FRAME. THIS ADDITIONAL RAINFALL WILL QUICKLY RUN OFF FILLING CREEKS AND STREAMS TO BANKFUL OR POSSIBLY OUT OF THEIR BANKS. ALSO THE POTENTIAL EXIST FOR WIDESPREAD HEAVY RAINFALL. IF THIS OCCURS OVER AN URBAN AREA...FLASH FLOODING WILL QUICKLY OCCUR.
* WHILE MUCH OF THE REGION HAS EXPERIENCED A SIGNIFICANT DROUGHT...THIS AMOUNT OF RAINFALL...ESSENTIALLY A MONTH S WORTH...IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME...WILL QUICKLY RUN OFF. SOME OF THE HEAVIEST RAINFALL MAY OCCUR EARLY THIS MORNING...MAINLY ACROSS THE SOUTH AND EAST...AND AGAIN TONIGHT AS STRONG THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO CROSS THE REGION. SOME OF OUR MOST RECENT FLASH FLOOD DEATHS HAVE OCCURRED WITH HEAVY RAIN EVENTS
IMMEDIATELY AFTER A PROLONG PERIOD OF DRY WEATHER. MOTORISTS SHOULD AVOID KNOWN AREAS THAT FLOOD DURING HEAVY RAIN EVENTS WHILE OUT AND ABOUT TODAY AND TONIGHT.
The would-be developers of a massive, Meadowmont-plus-sized residential and commercial development on the eastern edge of Durham want the City Council to exempt their project from a pending move to widen required stream buffers.
. . .
Construction has yet to begin, but Zumwalt and his clients are worried that Durham officials could throw a kink in the plan by doubling the size of the buffers they require around many streams.
That would come as part of an effort to beef up the environmental-protection standards of Durham's "unified development ordinance."
Simplifying the matter somewhat, officials now require a 50-foot-wide buffer strip along each edge of the streams in and around the project site. A proposal to widen that to 100 feet is making its way through the drafting and review process.
The change is supposed to leave more vegetation intact to help filter pollutants out of runoff, and bring Durham's standards for protected so-called "perennial streams" more in line with those of other communities in the area.
Zumwalt's clients, however, maintain that the change would undermine their plans. They want a five-year exemption so they can go ahead under existing buffer standards.
Widened buffers and other changes officials are considering "will result in a considerable loss of developable land," translating "directly into a greatly reduced number of residential units as well as reduced commercial and office floor space," Zumwalt said in a letter explaining his clients' request.
It's a pretty simple equation - more impervious surface = more runoff = more pollution.
In economic terms, it's an unpriced externality that developers pass on to the community, or as we like to say around the Dependable Ranch, socialize the costs, privatize the profits. Adding "$500 Million" to the tax base increases municipal revenues by about $5.5 million a year or so, nowhere near enough to meet Durham's existing financial responsibilities for cleaning up Jordan and Falls Lakes.
I have no doubts, though, that most of our current crop of elected officials, especially the clown show that is our County Commission, are incapable of seeing past that "$500 Million" figure.
Also worth noting is the continuing trend, first commented upon a couple of years ago during the extended drought, toward wet and dry seasons in North Carolina and the southeast region. It appears to this casual observer that that's becoming the norm rather than the exception.
Continue reading Synchronicity
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Back in town
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
OK, not really. But Jupiter is making it's closest pass to us in almost 50 years. So go look at it over the next week or two.
The best part?
There's more to see in the heavens right now than just Jupiter. The giant planet is lined up almost perfectly with Uranus at the moment.
Uranus is five times farther away and almost 3,000 times dimmer than Jupiter, so it's invisible to the unaided eye. But binoculars or a telescope — as well as access to a detailed chart — will show Uranus less than 1 degree from Jupiter now through Sept. 24, Sky and Telescope said. (A fist held at arm's length covers about 10 degrees of the sky.)
So, when someone asks if that's Uranus? You can say, why yes, yes it is.
Continue reading By Jupiter!
I think Abbie would have approved
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tonight, the bridge was officially dedicated to Durham treasure R. Kelly Bryant.
I guess sometimes plans really do come together. Everyone involved deserves a hug.
Continue reading Kelly Bryant
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Damn SNL for not making any of his guest appearances available, cause they showed a very different side of the man.
Here's part 1 of an interview from the mid-60s with Marshall McLuhan. Newman had a show called "Speaking Freely," which ran for an uninterrupted hour on, i think, Sunday mornings. The remaining segments are available for viewing (or listening, rather, as it appears that there's no real video of the program) on YouTube. It makes me lament what short attention spans have done to our discourse.
Continue reading Edwin Newman
My first reaction was that i must be living on the wrong side of town, because i felt far safer cycling in Brooklyn than i ever did in Durham. But i've been chatting with a few of my friends and they tell me that things are definitely getting better on the roads for cyclists, and this designation is well deserved.
So keep up the good work, and share the road, OK?
UPDATE: One of my grouchy friends agrees with my original thoughts, via FB:
It is nice to see slightly more people cycling in Durham, but someone has been hitting the pipe a little too hard if they think Durham is worthy of award and recognition on this front.
Continue reading Bikes
This is the cake-topper, if you ask me:
Regrettably, Calvin College has decided to rescind its invitation to the band, The New Pornographers, slated to perform on Friday, October 15, 2010, in the Fieldhouse Complex on campus. We believe that the decision to invite the band fit our rubric of engaging culture through a Christian lens. The band makes good, thoughtful music, and we invited them here based on their artistic merit. However, after weeks of discussion and consideration, the irony of the band's name was impossible to explain to many. The band's name, to some, is mistakenly associated with pornography. Consequently, Calvin, to some, was mistakenly associated with pornography. Neither the college nor the band endorses pornography. The Student Activities Office regrets the way this has happened. We regret the message we have sent to the band and their fans with this cancellation, and any confusion this has caused generally. We have been in contact with the band to explain this regret and the breakdown in our own processes that led us to first invite them and then withdraw that invitation. Calvin College remains committed to the difficult, yet important work at faithfully engaging popular culture.
Since i've never been a Christian, i have no inside information. But is there something about deciding to "engage culture through a Christian lens" that flips the stupid switch in your brain? It's a big, wide, wonderful world and we're only in it for a short time, too short a time to be freaking out about whether or not a band's name is appropriate, or if 14 year olds are touching themselves.
Continue reading (New) Pornographers
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Quick baseball note
UPDATE: Whaddaya know! Elias Sports Bureau says it's the first time it's ever happened.
Continue reading Quick baseball note
Monday, September 13, 2010
Continue reading Even Josh
That's 'cause Joe Bowser is a rebel who's beholden to no one, don'tcha know.
UPDATE: Kevin breaks the news that Fairway has withdrawn their request for a vote on the amendment tonight. I don't know what that means, but John Schelp seems to think it's good news.
If i recall, their defeat in City Council was accompanied by some discussion that they had to wait at least a year before bringing it up again. I assume that by not having a vote tonight at the Commission, they can come back to that body at a time of their own choosing?
UPDATE: Over at the N&O Jim Wise writes "(T)o raise the issue again would require a formal request, paying fees and going through the review process from square one."
Obviously, the money's not going to be an issue for an outfit like Fairway, but the whole formal request and review process is going to take a lot of time. They've invested two years in this so far, so it's hard to see this as anything other than throwing in the towel.
Chalk up one for the good guys.
Continue reading Vote?
Death of a strip mall
This particular shopping center is called Hillsborough Commons. This one is before my time, but judging by the architecture, i'd guess it was built in the early-to-mid 80s, during one of Wal-Mart's big expansion phases. I'm sure it was sold to the county as a job creation engine, enough so that Hillsborough eventually annexed it into the town. Wal-Mart built their big new job creation engine about 2 miles away on the other side of I-85 (i'm guessing outside of town limits again) a couple years ago. The center has been slowly losing customers while the old Wal-Mart sat empty. Earlier this year, Orange County social Services became the new occupant of most of the Wal-Mart space.
Last week, employees and patrons of Lowe's food store were surprised to discover the store locked up tight when they showed up to work and shop. Sonny's, one of the relative handful of lunch spots in Hillsborough, packed it in the next day.
I don't know what the net gain/loss of jobs is now between the new and old Wal-Mart centers, and i don't know what the eventual cost to the taxpayer is going to be to either decommission the center, or just keep it from deteriorating until someone figures out how to make that land profitable, or what the environmental costs of having about 10 acres of more or less useless impervious surface in the watershed is, but i know that whatever those numbers are, they weren't used by any decision makers when it came to approving the new Wal-Mart location.
Which is a valuable lesson for Durham, and its empty big box stores on Roxboro (Wal-Mart and K-Mart) and 15-501 (Circuit City and Ashley).
Continue reading Death of a strip mall
The next time some moron talks to me about the free market . . .
12. Public Hearing to Consider Allocating Economic Development Investment Funds to Cree
The Board is requested to hold a public hearing to consider allocating economic development investment funds to Cree, a leading developer and manufacturer of LED lighting, and semiconductor solutions for wireless and power applications. Cree’s products are used in backlighting for electronics and vehicles, general illumination, electronic signs and signals, variable speed motors and wireless communications. The company is dedicated to designing and producing products which are energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
Cree, a homegrown Durham company since 1987, operates in a highly competitive global market driven by rapidly changing technology, short product life and a competitive pricing environment. Currently Cree is evaluating a substantial investment in a new production line to launch a new generation LED chip. Cree is considering several locations for the project, including China, Malaysia, and Durham. The capital investment for this project is expected to be approximately $392 million, with $135 million dedicated to machinery for the new production line. Cree would also create 244 new jobs in Durham by the end of 2013 to operate the production center. Company officials have stated that incentives from the local government are a key consideration in its final decision on locating the expansion, particularly in light of the cost of labor in the overseas market.
Staff is recommending that the county participate in this economic development project by providing up to two million ($2,000,000.00) for the $392 million project. Eight hundred and twenty five thousand ($825,000) of those funds would be reserved to pay for training expenses of new employees hired who are Durham residents. Funds would be furnished over a seven year period through an economic development incentive fund performance contract.
This public hearing was advertised on Friday, September 3, 2010 as required by law.
One of the other items on tonight's County Commissioners' agenda.
So you got that, right? Cree is holding a proposed $392 M investment project ransom, and threatening to take it overseas, unless they get $2 million from the county.
That's the same Cree, "a homegrown Durham company since 1987," whose owner also owns the 751 South development project, which is going to be bringing new jobs to Durham County Real Soon Now®. funny how the agenda item doesn't mention that connection. I suppose that's because it's impartial.
Thanks, bud. Maybe if we spent that 2 million on our public schools, you wouldn't need to retrain new hires who are Durham residents?
UPDATE: Cree doesn't even need the money.
Cree has been consistently profitable and is sitting on nearly $1 billion cash. The company plans to use the money for expansion, hiring and research, and plans to spend more than $250 million this year on factories and equipment in Durham and China.
Continue reading The next time some moron talks to me about the free market . . .
Crowning achievements in journalism
Mark Silk, director of the Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Connecticut, said the experience of Japanese Americans in World War II more closely parallels the current plight of Muslims. After the Pearl Harbor bombing, Silk said Americans asked, "Are our Japanese different from those Japanese?"
"I don't think we're about to round up all the Muslims and put them in concentration camps," Silk said. "But I don't think we've ever seen the degree of legitimacy given by people in positions of authority to straight-up, anti-Islamic expression."
One can only assume that the writer is auditioning for a job with MiniTrue.
Continue reading Crowning achievements in journalism
Sunday, September 12, 2010
A growing number of developers and builders have been quietly slipping “resale fee” covenants into sales agreements of newly built homes in some subdivisions. In the Dupaix contract, the clause was in a separate 13-page document — called the declaration of covenants, conditions and restrictions — that wasn’t even included in the closing papers and did not require a signature.
The fee, sometimes called a capital recovery fee or private transfer fee, has been gaining popularity among companies that have been frantically searching for new ways to gain access to cash in the depressed housing market.
The article notes that developers claim that the fee allows them to "spread out the cost of building the roads, utilities and other infrastructure across all homeowners in a subdivision, rather than just the initial buyers."
Here's the money quote:
Someone selling a home for $500,000, for example, would have to pay the original developer $5,000. If the home sold again two years later for $750,000, the second seller would have to pony up $7,500 to the developer, and so on. Even if a home declines in value, the seller still must pay the 1 percent fee. Freehold gets a cut of the resale fee; if the fees are securitized, it retains a percentage of the cash generated from the securitization.
Freehold’s principals and lawyers have been aggressive in sales pitches to developers, but have declined to give details on their clients, securitization efforts or the company itself. Freehold moved its corporate office from Round Rock, Tex., to New York this year as it stepped up efforts to securitize the resale fees.
Remember three years ago, when adding a quarter cent to the "transfer tax" rate was going to be enough to put the home resale market out of business in Durham?
Now, i have no idea which, if any, Durham developments have this sell-on fee clause in their contracts. The article notes that they're appearing in developments in 43 states. But if developers think it's OK to tack on a 1% charge, essentially in perpetuity, to home resales, how can they, or their partners in the real estate industry, make the argument that a county tax would be so damaging to the market?
Basically, they just want to keep the money for themselves, and not for the common good. They need to be a bit more honest about that.
UPDATE - commenter Steve points out that the NC legislators last year passed a law banning this type of transfer fee. Good on them for being pro-active about this.
I'd like to see the lobbying reports that accompanied the debate.
Continue reading Developers
Friday, September 10, 2010
This is a joke, right?
Your best entertainment value
Thursday, September 09, 2010
I suppose it's a better idea than paintball guns
The image of the phantom girl has been put onto a busy road near a West Vancouver, B.C., elementary school. It has been deemed "creepy" and "scary" by some bloggers and Internet posters and downright dangerous by a traffic expert, but a spokesman for the organization that designed speed bump stands by the effect.
"It's not meant to shock and alarm the driver," said David Dunne, director of Road Safety Strategy for the British Columbia Automobile Association. "It's meant to get the driver's attention."
Noted on the PAC 2 list last night, some concerns about whether the equipment installed on East Trinity to measure speeding on that road is in itself causing people to slow down, thereby skewing the data collected.
Here's an idea - if people are slowing down because they think they're being watched or recorded, then keep watching and recording them. They know they're driving too fast for the neighborhood and road conditions, they just don't give a shit because they assume there will be no consequences. Start creating consequences (ie - speeding tickets on a regular basis) and they'll start slowing down.
Labels: Traffic calming
Continue reading I suppose it's a better idea than paintball guns
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Is the fix in?
So far it's working.
But what does the fine print mean?
*Leader Board rankings and related Food Truck Grand Prize award subject to change based on independent judging organization final tallies at conclusion of Promotion Period.
So if they think the Portland or LA trucks will do better in the ratings, they'll push 'em to the top?
I have my own thoughts about these kinds of scams, in particular the one Pepsi is running right now where you get to vote on worthy charity projects, but i'll share those at another time. Just remember that your name, email address, and web surfing habits have intrinsic value to many people out there.
Continue reading Is the fix in?
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Friday, September 03, 2010
More Durham goodness
Civilty - still overrated
Do you love Durham?
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Continue reading Just wondering
What could possibly go wrong?
GRAND ISLE, La. (AP) -- An offshore petroleum platform exploded and was burning Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico about 80 miles off the Louisiana coast, west of the site where BP's undersea well spilled after a rig explosion.
UPDATE: ThinkProgress notes:
A Coast Guard spokesperson said the platform, Vermilion Oil Rig 360, is an oil and gas platform in 2,500 feet of water and is owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy.
. . .
Just yesterday, however, the Financial Times reported that employees from Apache and Mariner, along with thousands of oil industry workers, rallied in Houston to protest the Obama administration’s offshore drilling moratorium that was designed as a safety precaution after BP’s disastrous Gulf oil spill. A Mariner Energy employee chastised the Obama administration for its drilling moratorium, which would not have affected the rig that exploded today:
Companies ranging from Chevron to Apache bussed in up to 5,000 employees to the Houston convention centre to underline to Washington the industry’s contribution to the country. [...]
“I have been in the oil and gas industry for 40 years, and this administration is trying to break us,” said Barbara Dianne Hagood, senior landman for Mariner Energy, a small company. “The moratorium they imposed is going to be a financial disaster for the gulf coast, gulf coast employees and gulf coast residents.”
Continue reading What could possibly go wrong?
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
This made my day
The database does not include information about injuries, fatalities, damages, etc., and appears to only include vehicle/vehicle interactions, not vehicle/pedestrian.
Here's the data for Roxboro St.
If you don't want to follow the link, here's some tidbits.
Club & Roxboro - 116
I-85 & Roxboro - 93
I-85 & Avondale - 63
Avondale & Foushee - 63
Avondale & Roxboro - 61
Roxboro & Roxboro - 24 (Yeah, i don't know where that is either.)
Avondale & Markham - 24
Markham & Roxboro - 20
I-85B & Roxboro - 17
I-85B & Avondale - 15
Avondale & Camden - 13
Avondale & Avondale - 10
If you're keeping track, that's a total of 519 reported motor vehicle accidents over a 3 year period, just in this section of the map. I chose it not only because i live pretty much in the middle of this mess, but because, around 4 or 5 years ago, NCDOT finished their "improvements" of the I-85 corridor, including "upgrades" to Roxboro and Avondale. (If you head further north up Roxboro, say as far as Infinity, add a couple of hundred more wrecks to the list at various intersections.) It's also the part of the city where i spend the most time on foot, with the least feeling of safety. Speed limits of 35 mph, already too high for residential & retail streets, are routinely ignored. 80th percentile speeds are well above 40, and speeds over 50 were clocked every hour of every day when we've had the radar counter out. A high speed of over 90 was recorded on Avondale near Camden a couple of years ago.
To put things in perspective, 3 of the top 4 intersections for wrecks in Durham County are on Roxboro St., and all 5 of the I-85 interchanges in town (Avondale, Roxboro, Duke, Geuss & Hillandale) make the top 20. Only 3 of the I-40 interchanges are in the top 20, despite I-40 carrying much more traffic than I-85, although I-40 and Fayetteville is the worst intersection in Durham in absolute numbers. I'd like to see the traffic volume counts for that intersection (138 collisions) compared to Club and Roxboro with 116 collisions. I suspect Fayetteville at 1-40 carries twice as many vehicles per day as Roxboro at Club/Foushee/I-85.
I wonder which of our city leaders has looked at the article, and what, if any, policy changes might come from this data? Better enforcement of traffic laws, perhaps? Some transit decisions to reduce the volume of traffic along the length of Roxboro to make it safer and more pedestrian friendly? Or just a shoulder shrug, same old same old, and hope for the best?
* I'm not a big fan of the term "accident" when it comes to motor vehicle collisions. Most of the time, there's something preventable that took place, whether it's speeding, driving while distracted, driving while impaired, or general stupidity behind the wheel of a 3000 pound machine moving at 40 mph or faster.
h/t to Durham/Orange Friends of Transit
Continue reading This made my day