Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Cuban relations

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

President Obama caused quite a stir yesterday when he announced the normalization of relations with Cuba. Of course, Republicans quickly went ape-shit at this announcement and are already lining up to oppose it. Being that it’s the President’s constitutional prerogative to conduct foreign affairs, I’m not sure what whiny Congressmembers can do.

As for ditching restrictions on Cuba, I say good riddance! I’ve never understood the continuing economic embargo against Cuba. Yes, Cuba is a communist country but for decades we’ve had no trouble doing business with communist (and nuclear-armed) China. Hell, China actively spies on us, conducts provocative naval maneuvers, and is actively working to diminish the stature of the United States in the Pacific region. I suppose if Cuba had a population of a billion potential consumers like China we be falling all over ourselves to put aside our differences.

Hallie to appear in HBO documentary

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
Hallie, Travis, and Nora on the HBO website

Hallie and Travis on the HBO website

Hallie’s climate change work last year with iMatterYouthNC.Org was filmed by HBO as part of a documentary they made about kids and climate change. We found out that documentary is airing Monday, December 15th at 7 PM on HBO. The film, called Saving My Tomorrow, features kids from all over, speaking about their planet. It’s really inspiring!

We don’t know how much of Hallie will appear in the film but the image the producers chose for their HBO webpage is a shot from Hallie’s march through downtown Raleigh, flanked by Travis and Hallie’s friend (and co-organizer), Nora. I’m hopeful we might see Hallie’s speech from the rally but we’re not sure what they used or not.

I’m hoping I can finagle a way to record the film as we don’t have cable. Any assistance out there would be greatly appreciated!

Putin’s failures leave Russia reeling | MSNBC

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Great, quick read on Putin’s failures.

It was poised to be the biggest arms deal ever between a NATO country and Russia. France had a deal worth more than 1 billion euros to deliver a warship to Russia, and given Europe’s economy and the number of jobs involved, French President Francois Hollande really wanted the deal to go forward. But it did not. President Obama urged Hollande to leave Vladimir Putin isolated and the French president agreed, announcing last week that the warship delivery was off “until further notice” in light of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine. Late yesterday, Putin suffered yet another failure.

“President Vladimir V. Putin said Monday that he would scrap Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline, a grandiose project that was once intended to establish the country’s dominance in southeastern Europe but instead fell victim to Russia’s increasingly toxic relationship with the West.”

The New York Times characterized this as a “rare diplomatic defeat” for Putin, though I’m not sure why. Indeed, diplomatic defeats appear to be the only thing the Russian president has accomplished lately.

via Putin's failures leave Russia reeling | MSNBC.

Don’t blame the voter

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

It’s been about two weeks since the last election and I’m about as tired now of the Monday morning quarterbacking from my fellow Democrats as I was of the campaign mudslinging. I keep hearing “if only so and so group had voted.” “I don’t understand why this group didn’t vote.”

Can I ask a favor? Can we please stop blaming the voter? If a voter wasn’t moved by our message it’s not the voter that needs fixing, it’s the message. We Democrats have to either sell what people are buying or convince them to buy what we’re selling. If our product isn’t compelling then we need to come up with either a better product (a.k.a., candidates or platform) or better marketing (a.k.a. spin).

This really isn’t rocket science. It starts with knowing the voter, knowing what it takes to get her off the couch and into the polling place. If you don’t understand why a particular voter doesn’t vote that sure ain’t the voter’s fault.

Bridging the rural gap

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Last week’s election overall didn’t look good for North Carolina Democrats. I have been reflecting on the Raleigh Elites post I wrote two years ago. Looking at the map where Tillis won versus where Hagan won, there is still a huge divide between urban versus rural voters.

The upside this time around is that Democrats did exceedingly well in Wake County, which was the source of frustration in my post from two years ago. The difference, I think, is messaging. The combined campaigns of Hutchinson, Burns, Holmes, and Calabria offered a coherent plan. They articulated why they should be elected and I think that helped cross the divide. It looked like they were competent, at least, and I think that is valued more now in political leaders.

Did Kay Hagan offer a compelling reason to vote for her? When I listened to her stump speeches, all I seem to remember is “Koch Brothers this” and “Koch Brothers that.” I cringed when I heard it. Most of the electorate has no clue who the Koch brothers are. If you’re going to run a campaign based on a boogeyman, at least make it one everyone is frightened of.

These are the challenges that face whomever opts to rebuild the state Democratic party. I hope we find someone who can inspire voters because that’s what we seem to be missing.

Parks bond passes

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Election night was sweet for me for one uncommon reason. You see I, along with a few dozen other citizens, served on the citizen’s advocacy committee for Raleigh’s recent $92 million parks bond. As co-chair I was tasked with marketing and PR, including social media. My friend Jeff Tippett was chair of the overall effort and as he has an actual marketing background he was able to fill in for my lack of marketing background. I came up with the fun “I flip for parks” social media campaign and enjoyed posting pictures of notable Raleigh personalities as they “flipped for parks.”

The bond passed with 68% support. I was hoping to beat the 2007 bond’s numbers but considering the political landscape and that it was the largest bond ever floated by the city, I’m pretty happy with 68%.

Starmount does NOT flip for parks

Starmount does NOT flip for parks

Post-election I was reviewing the poll results and noticed there was one precinct that voted decidedly against the bond: the Starmount neighborhood just east of Capital Boulevard. This precinct, 17-10, voted 216 no to 184 yes, or 54% no.

Neither me nor parks staff are entirely sure why Starmount doesn’t flip for parks. The guess is that this is an older population which is averse to taxes but that’s just a guess. It would be interesting to interview a few of these citizens to find out why they voted the way they did.

Advocating vs. complaining

Friday, November 7th, 2014

In September we learned that the Wake County Public School System was considering shifting our neighborhood’s school assignment away from nearby Enloe High School and to Millbrook High School. Millbrook is a great school, don’t get me wrong, it’s just much farther away than Enloe. What’s more, this was the sixth proposed or actual reassignment we’ve had since we’ve been here (six years). Hearing of the plans gave me whiplash.

Kelly and I worked to rally the neighborhood to advocate for our cause. We reached out on the mailing lists, explaining the situation and providing links to the resources so our neighbors could see for themselves. With a good understanding of the guiding principles of the reassignment (proximity, stability, operational efficiency, and student achievement), we suggested our neighbors politely point out how these points were not being supported by the change. A number of neighbors followed our lead, repeating the points we offered on the school system’s feedback site. We also suggested polite emails be sent to the board members. I heard back from some boardmembers that they had received quite a bit of feedback on the issue, which is a good sign.

Bottom line? The school system opted not to shift our neighborhood, we got what we wanted, and everything stayed civil.

I thought of this when I came across a friend’s Facebook post, showing how she was working to change her reassignment:

Ebola and hysteria

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Over the past few days debate has popped up about what to do about healthcare workers returning from fighting Ebola in West Africa. Politicians vow to quarantine anyone returning from the affected areas, regardless of whether they show symptoms or not. Asymptomatic healthcare workers who are being “voluntarily” quarantined are rebelling against the restrictions placed on their activity. Nurse Kaci Hickox blasted politicians for falling for hysteria rather than following science.

“I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based,” she said.

She’s right, of course. The only thing scarier than Ebola is succumbing to mob rule and hysteria.

The most worthless news items, though, are the polls being touted. The latest one says that 80 percent of respondents favor quarantining travelers to West Africa. Well, if polling had taken place during Galileo’s time, the majority would’ve favored the Earth as the center of the universe. What the majority wants, of course, does not make it so.

It does not matter what 80% of those polled think about Ebola if those 80% are not experts. When it comes to Ebola, disregarding science is a good way to get us all killed.

Weekend update

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

It’s been a busy weekend. Friday morning was the press conference and the official kickoff of the Parks bond campaign. NFL stars Torrence and Terry Holt joined other city officials to urge passage of the bond. As the marketing co-chair of the bond committee, I helped plan the press conference and some of the talking points used. The location of the Chavis carousel was perfect, the weather was perfect, the messaging was perfect, and it all just came together. What’s more, I was able to collect the photographs of many attendees, all to add to our “I Flip 4 Parks” social media campaign. Oh, and the official website,, was unveiled as well. Marketing has been a group effort, with the Raleigh Chamber pitching in as well as committee members Jeff Tippett (committee chair), myself, and Patrick Buffkin (speakers chair). The website was designed by Scott Reston with video provided by Napoleon Wright. Everyone did a super job!

Friday afternoon was the visitation for Thomas Crowder, held in the lobby of Meymandi auditorium. There was a huge turnout of people paying their respects. I was glad to meet many of Thomas’s family and say hello to those I’ve already met.

Thomas Crowder

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Thomas Crowder wrote the first “What I’ve Learned” column for NCModernist in 2008. Here it is again with some of his words of wisdom.

Raleigh native Thomas Crowder began his career as a draftsman with Holloway and Reeves Architects in 1973. In 1976 he moved to Bartholomew and Wakeham Architects until forming his own firm ARCHITEKTUR in 1993.

Crowder was one, if not the last, of North Carolina’s architects to become registered without formal architecture education, grandfathered under NCARB’s apprenticeship program which was abolished in 1984.

In the early 1980s he worked with Harwell Hamilton Harris on additions and renovations to a house for Kathy and Norman Bartholomew, which Harris originally designed for NCSU Professor Duncan Stuart.Crowder served multiple terms on the Raleigh Planning Commission and the Raleigh City Council.

Crowder wrote the very first article in NCMH’s What I’ve Learned series in March 2008:

via Thomas Crowder.