Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Downtown summit? First things first

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

The News and Observer wrote an editorial about the need for a downtown summit. I’ve been pondering it for a while and have a few comments.

Revitalization has been a success, to be sure. But with that success comes challenges the city now must address. Yes, the City Council is doing so in working on a “downtown plan,” but a broader effort is needed, because the boom has brought up some issues.

Therefore, council members can lead the way in calling for a downtown summit of sorts, bringing in not just the dedicated advocates from places like the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, but residents from North, South, East and West Raleigh, people who perhaps, even now, don’t come downtown all that much. Even with all the hoopla, it’s still not uncommon to meet North Raleighites who have never been downtown, period.

Actually, some people will never visit downtown and it doesn’t matter what you try to do to change this. There are suburbanites who don’t “get” downtown and likely won’t ever. And you know what? That’s okay. Raleigh is a big city now and offers something for everyone – for downtown fans and others. You can get by just fine if you never go downtown.

One Parks board meeting left

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Raleigh's Parks board at the Fred Fletcher awards, May 2014.

Raleigh’s Parks board at the Fred Fletcher awards, May 2014.

At last week’s Parks board meeting, I did some calculations and realized I have exactly one meeting left: July 17th. Has it been six years already? Where does the time go?

So much has been accomplished during my time with the board. I recall how contentious my early board meetings were, with lots of strong opinions and little sense of compromise. I contrast that to the last few years, where my fellow boardmembers have voted unanimously on nearly every issue. I don’t think that all votes should necessarily be unanimous but I’m so glad to have been on a board where the members try to work together.

I’m working up a speech to give for my two minutes of member comments at the end of every meeting. There’s a lot to cover for these six years so I’ll have to choose my words carefully.

While July 17th will be my last meeting, my term doesn’t officially end until September 5th. Thus I have one more dedication left to attend: the Mount Hope Cemetery dedication on September 4th. After that, who knows where life will lead me?

Having it both ways on Jones Street

Friday, June 20th, 2014

By BigBuzzMedia

By BigBuzzMedia

I learned yesterday that there is some consternation in the North Carolina General Assembly over the City of Raleigh’s decision to allow two-way traffic on Jones Street. The street is one of four that the city is converting from one-way to two-way traffic.

One-way streets have been the bane of downtowns everywhere, turning streets which should be serving the businesses and homes around them into miniature highways. One-way streets prioritize commuter traffic over local traffic and that’s not how our modern-day downtown works. My only complaint with this decision is that the city didn’t fix the rest of the one-way streets along with these four.

Why is the General Assembly so up in arms? Who knows? Could it be that two-way streets threaten their cushy, legislators-only on-street parking on Jones? Could it be their worry about the schoolchildren who cross Jones at the front of the Legislative Building? Could it be that our right-wing state leaders don’t want Jones Street ever moving to the left? Or could this simply be our legislators’ desire to micromanage every goddamn municipality in the state?

Here’s an idea, legislators: why not let the experts be the experts and not try to butt in on every decision anyone in the state makes? Let professional educators decide how education should be run and let the traffic engineers decide how traffic should work. While we’re at it, how about letting Charlotte leaders run Charlotte and Raleigh leaders run Raleigh? You can focus on important stuff like legalizing opossum abuse and denying climate change.

Trust me. You’ll feel better. And we’ll be much happier when we drive past the Legislative Building. Both ways.

Paul O’Connor: Big government from Raleigh | Salisbury Post

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Well said.

RALEIGH – The true conservatives were all in a lather about federal intrusion into states’ rights during Tuesday’s House Education Committee.

First they complained about the federal courts and their attacks on God, then about federal intrusion into education and then about the lack of judicial and congressional attention to the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The true conservatives, you see, believe that local folks know best how to govern locally and that this big, bad government in Washington should just stop interfering in the affairs of North Carolina.

What was most amazing about the prolonged committee meeting, or you might call it a rant, was that no audience member stood up and shouted: “Pot, kettle. Pot, kettle. Pot, kettle.”

via Paul O’Connor: Big government from Raleigh | Salisbury Post.

Green Tie Awards

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Our family attended the Green Tie Awards and dinner of the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters as guests of Bill and Bett Padgett. It was great seeing so many familiar faces in the crowd, so many I couldn’t possibly talk to them all.

The highlight, though, was the speech Hallie gave to the crowd at the end of the program. She marched right up to the podium and gave a heartfelt speech on why conservation matters to her. Kelly and I were justifiably proud of her and her speech generated a lot of positive comments from the attendees.

Afterwards, I had to chuckle at the spectacle. When I was Hallie’s age, there wasn’t enough money in the world to get me to speak in front of a crowd. I would have died on the spot, or nervously mumbled my way through it yet our daughter can belt out a passionate speech to a roomful of strangers without even breaking a sweat. That’s a pretty powerful skill for a kid. It took me until the age of 30 to even get close to that.

So, even though my attention is drawn in dozens of directions right now, it’s great to have the opportunity to cheer the accomplishments of our kids.

Doing away with generators at Raleigh’s street festivals

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Noisy, smelly generators are bad, mmmkay?

Noisy, smelly generators are bad, mmmkay?

I’ve long thought that Raleigh’s Moore Square is a poor place to hold festivals. The foot traffic, lack of infrastructure, damage to trees, poor sight lines (from the aforementioned trees), and other aspects make it a tough place for large crowds. However, there is one thing that Moore Square offers that Fayetteville Street cannot: silence. Vendors working in Moore Square went about their business without one thing you almost always find in other festival areas: generators. The Moore Square vendors didn’t need generators because Moore Square provides power facilities vendors can plug into.

Teacher attrition

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Yesterday morning I was voted in as the new PTA President of Ligon Middle School, succeeding Vickie Adamson. Vickie leaves big shoes to fill since one parent said “that woman is everywhere.” I’m looking forward to the challenge, though, and really appreciate how I’ll be at the front lines during a difficult time in North Carolina education.

I was looking forward to my election, thinking what a happy moment it would be, but the party was quickly spoiled when Ms. Dula, the principal announced to the PTA members that one of her star teachers is leaving the classroom. I will never forget the look of dejection on her face.

It makes me furious how disrespectful and dismissive our Republican state legislature is of our public school teachers. Their shortsightedness is destroying our state’s future. These kids will grow up to one day lead our state. They will educate future generations. They will build the companies that will power our state’s economy. They will take care of us when we’re old and frail. And we’re dooming them to a mediocre education, loading them down with needless tests, and hurting ourselves in the process. Education is an investment in our future and these screwups in the General Assembly are mortgaging that future away.


Council to vote on Frank St. sidewalk Tuesday

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Frank Street Sidewalk
The City Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee recommended approving the Frank Street sidewalk 2-1. It now goes before Council on Tuesday afternoon and then, if approved, the normal sidewalk planning process.

Once it gets to Council there won’t be the opportunity for public comment but a strong showing of sidewalk supporters in the Council audience would go a long way. Everyone wear their Conn T-shirts!

I have worked to get a sidewalk here for many years. I hope it will soon be a reality!

Below are the minutes of the committee meeting:

Item# 13-04 Sidewalk/Crosswalk – Frank Street.

Chairperson Baldwin asked Staff to give an update on this item.

Assistant City Manager Howe gave a brief introduction on this item.

Assessment Supervisor Upchurch stated Mr. Turner requested a City initiated sidewalk on the south side of Frank Street between Norris and Brookside. He has attempted twice through petition process and has been unsuccessful. There are only two properties on the street. He pointed out the property owner most affected by this is not supportive.

Mr. Upchurch pointed out Ms. Harris’s daughter lives in New York and has indicated her mother does not want a sidewalk. He stated the daughter has indicated that the crosswalk across Brookside to the school be relocated to north side of intersection and then kids would use sidewalk on the other side of the street on Frank Street. He pointed out citizens are definitely using the south side of the street. In Mr. Turner’s video he has shown numerous pictures of the children utilizing that side of the street. He pointed out Staff is not necessarily not in favor of putting the sidewalk there but wanted to make sure the Council knew all of the facts and all of the information. He stated Mr. Niffenegger will address the crosswalk issue because Ms. Harris’s daughter was very concerned that if the City could look at relocating the crosswalk this would resolve the whole issue.

Mr. Niffenegger stated they have studied Conn Elementary many times. He pointed out this school has a crossing guard. They have studied this 3 times. Highest score of any one they have done. He stated it had 128 students crossing in the a.m. and 200 students crossing in the p.m. Staff does not recommend changing the location of the crosswalk. He feels the sidewalk would be a big benefit here.

Retreat on Common Core

Friday, April 25th, 2014

I get nervous when politicians who can’t look farther than their next election begin meddling with education. Short-sighted NC lawmakers now want to retreat on Common Core:

Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina would begin walking away from the Common Core standards for math and English in public schools under proposed legislation that a student committee approved Thursday.

“Common Core is gone July 1 if this passes,” said Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, one of the measure’s leading proponents.

The full General Assembly will take up the measure when it returns to session in mid-May.

Although the bill does delete legislative language referencing Common Core standards, it does not take them out of play right away. Rather, the measure would create an Academic Standards Review Commission to develop standards “tailored to the needs of North Carolina’s students.”


Saffron Technology moving headquarters to Silicon Valley after raising $7 million | Technology |

Monday, March 24th, 2014

As if to prove my earlier point, the N&O reports local startup Saffron Technology is packing up for the West Coast – not for more favorable taxes but for the West Coast’s “wealth of talent.”

Wrong again, governor.

Saffron Technology, a homegrown big data analytics software company, plans to shift its headquarters from Cary to the Silicon Valley after raising $7 million in new funding.

Despite the move, CEO Gayle Sheppard said she expects the company’s 12-person Cary office to double in size by the end of the year. That would keep pace with the growth of the overall company, which she anticipates swelling from 20 to 40 employees in 2014 thanks to the new round of funding.

“We should not think of this as leaving Cary behind by any means,” Sheppard said. “I see that operation as an important part of our future. Terrific talent there.”

Nonetheless, Sheppard said that moving Saffron’s headquarters to Silicon Valley was designed to help it recruit the “wealth of talent” on the West Coast.

via Saffron Technology moving headquarters to Silicon Valley after raising $7 million | Technology |