Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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.

Thomas Crowder

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

I began this post back on 25 September, the day Thomas Crowder resigned from the Raleigh City Council. I had to stop writing because it felt like an obituary and it was too soon for that. Thomas passed away this afternoon.

Thomas Crowder

Thomas Crowder

I’ve been in a funk for the past few days after hearing that the health of my friend Thomas Crowder has taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

I first met Thomas in person during the 2007 election when he appeared at the League of Women Voters candidate forum. He reminded me a bit of John Wayne, larger than life.

The last time I saw him was about a year ago. We were outside the Raleigh Times one morning when he suddenly stopped speaking and stared at me.

Love wins

Sunday, October 12th, 2014
Deputy Biggs asks the crowd of supporters to move upstairs

Deputy Biggs asks the crowd of supporters to move upstairs

As I get older, but especially once I became a father, I started to really wonder why our world is so full of death and destruction, of war and greed. Though I am a veteran of the Navy I no longer take lightly willingly doing something that might make another suffer or die, “enemy” or not. I’m fortunate to have never seen that kind of action; I’ve seen enough of others’, though, to know how pointless it all is. The world could use a little less hate and a little more love.

This thought is always on my mind when the topic of what was once called “gay marriage” comes up. I’m a live-and-let-live kind of guy. If two adults want to commit to each other in marriage, what the hell does my opinion matter? Isn’t America about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Is there nothing that better embodies those ideals than the right to wed the person you love?

My fellow Americans, please stop being idiots

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

I agree.

Look, I’ve said it before and I still believe every word. ISIS represents no threat to the United States. None.

Are there terrorists in this world who would like to give us a bloody nose? Absolutely. You know what? You’ve already surrendered an astounding amount of your personal privacy in the name of enabling agencies to reduce that threat. Stop being so eager to bend over and give the little that remains. You’re already going through ridiculous rituals at airports and government offices and museums and bus stations and football stadiums and probably at the local Gymboree, all designed to give you the illusion of safety at an immense cost in both time and money. You’ve already given up everything from the privacy of your phone calls and emails to the ability to take some shampoo on the road. Don’t get out the checkbook to buy more nonsense.

via My fellow Americans, please stop being idiots.