Friday, December 28, 2012

2012: The Year of the Mecklenburg Activist

This past year saw several victories for grassroots activism and activists in Mecklenburg County.  Yes, there were defeats, and if you are a conservative some of those defeats are hard to swallow.  But here are a few of the victories which owe their success in large part to citizen activism.  Remember them.  Use them when a challenge seems too big to overcome.  You just might win.

  • Dan Forest Lieutenant Governor Campaign - This campaign is now the model for how North Carolina statewide elections can be won by harnessing the power of local activists. Here locally, activists with CAUTION (Common Americans United to Inspire Our Nation) formed a core of campaign supporters working tirelessly to get out the campaign's message. If it wasn't for these activists here and across the state it's hard to see how Dan Forrest would have become only the 2nd Republican Lt Governor in modern state history.

  • Mecklenburg County Revaluation - Every Mecklenburg County resident owes former Cornelius Commissioner Jim Bensman and his fellow activists in Cornelius a big thank you for their relentless efforts in pushing for an audit and review of the botched 2010 revaluation.  Together with SMART (South Mecklenburg Alliance for Responsible Taxpayers) they kept the pressure on county staff and our elected officials.  Without that pressure nothing would have happened.

  • 4-Year Terms Defeated in Davidson  - This year, the Town of Davidson in North Mecklenburg saw the reemergence of the topic of 4-year terms for Town elected officials.  There can be little doubt that commissioners would have unilaterally made this change back in 2011 if not for local activism against it.  When the issue resurfaced this year, activism from aShortChronicle blog and other locals once again helped ensure it did not happen - protecting the voters' voice at the ballot box.

  • Activists Rise to Positions of Influence - Matthew Ridenhour, a leader in the Charlotte Tea Party movement, and Claire Fallon, a former community activist with the Northeast Coalition in the University City area, have begun making their respective marks as elected officials.  Ridenhour becomes the first person elected to office in Mecklenburg County directly associated with the Tea Party, and Fallon has achieved the status of "Chief Fly in the Ointment" of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx's dreams of an expanded Streetcar.

From Statewide to hyper-local, Mecklenburg activists shaped and influenced many of the most important debates in our communities this past year.  It is an exhausting and often thankless effort, but one that is needed.  I'll leave you with a quote I heard from Don Reid years ago at one of his famous Thursday breakfast meetings in South Charlotte.  To many, Don is the godfather of Mecklenburg conservative activism.  If you think a challenge is too big to tackle, remember these words.

"To achieve great things, attempt something where only divine intervention will allow you to succeed."


Update: Christian Hine over at PunditHouse.com reminded me that the North Mecklenburg Republican Women also did an amazing amount of work this last political season.  Apologies for not mentioning them in the initial post.

Here are a couple of numbers that I could hardly believe. I had to double check them to make sure they were correct. One NMRW volunteer made over 30,000 calls during this campaign season from the Republican Victory Centers. You read that right. 30,000 calls. Another knocked on 3000 doors.

That’s a level of dedication you won’t see too often but is required if you want to win.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Noel for Neighbors Brings Record Donations

Bradford Neighborhood
This year's "Noel for Neighbors" brought in a record haul for the Davidson Housing Coalition. 

Over $24,000 was donated as part of the luminary event that lights up the town.  That's a 50% increase over last year which was also a record.  This event is a great example of citizens helping each other and a beautiful addition to the holiday season here in  Davidson.

For more information see DavidsonNews.net coverage.

Noel for Neighbors: big night for festive lights - 12/09/12

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Hug the little ones a bit tighter this year for those who can't.  Think of our military serving far from home and away from family.  Take a moment to remember the true meaning of this season.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Davidson Community Garden Reaches 1-Ton Goal!

The Harvest that Reached the 1-Ton Goal
On Thursday, The Davidson Community Garden harvested the final pounds needed to reach its annual goal - a ton of food donated to Loaves and Fishes at Ada Jenkins - just in time for Christmas.  Starting in early spring the garden has produced all year long bringing in dozens of new volunteers as well as the many pounds of fresh produce.  The largest harvest in a single weekend was 112lbs in early September.

The credit for all this really goes to Connie and Eddie Beach of South Street.  They have been tireless in their devotion to this worthy cause.  The below is an exerpt from a nomination letter submitted for them for Davidson's "Jack Burney Award" for community service.  While they were not selected this year, with results like this they should be contenders in years to come.

"This nomination is for Connie and Eddie Beach of South Street for their efforts launching the Davidson Community Garden. Connie and Eddie founded the Davidson Community Garden 3 years ago and have worked tirelessly ever since to make the project a success. In three short years the garden has gone from an empty lot by the railroad tracks to a productive garden that will donate nearly a ton of food this year.

Located on Potts street behind Fuel Pizza the garden has quickly become a landmark in the town. This endeavor embodies everything that makes Davidson a wonderful place. The weekly gardening sessions are open to all. It is one of the few places where people from River Run to the West Side regularly congregate. The garden provides educational and service opportunities for students from elementary school up through Davidson College. The garden itself is a form of public art when in full bloom, and it also has numerous stepping stones handcrafted by local elementary school students. The garden feeds the needy through the food pantry at Ada Jenkins with thousands of pounds of fresh produce donated to date. Recently, Summit Coffee has started trying to compost all of its coffee grounds - an effort that started with Eddie regularly taking 5 gallon buckets of grounds to the garden. Connie is constantly thinking of the next thing the garden can do and how it can be improved. She has reached out to every possible resource to gain donated equipment, supplies and seed - even getting several loads of transplants from the North Mecklenburg jail's greenhouse. She also regularly coordinates groups such as the Boy Scouts and High Schoolers from CSD to come out for workdays. Starting this Fall 8th grade classes from CSD will come to the garden regularly to participate.

It is really quite impressive what the two of them have done in a short time with very limited resources. Their leadership has created one of the true gems in Davidson."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Expected Response to Unspeakable Tragedy

As the father to small children, the thoughts of what happened in Newtown are too horrible to contemplate.  The thought that it can happen anywhere shatters one's sense of security.  When you live in a town like Davidson which sounds so similar to Newtown, it hits particularly close to home.  What those families and that community are going through is unthinkable. 

Then the emails started.  That's something I wish we as a nation could have avoided.

Urbanlegends.About.com
First, I received a copy of a speech by Darrell Scott given before Congress in 1999. Mr Scott is a parent of one of the Columbine victims.  He has a second child who is a survivor  His speech went viral when it was originally given, and it has done so again in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  The gist of the email is that guns and the NRA are not to blame for these horrible events.

Later on Saturday came MoveOn.org with its national push for vigils to End Gun Violence.  Lori Haas, a leading anti-gun activist whose daughter survived the Virginia Tech attack called for the vigils around the country.



Within 24 hours of the Sandy Hook tragedy, two different emails from two different parents of children involved in two different similar tragedies espousing two different heartfelt political views.

Then came the expected hoax email.  This one from "Morgan Freeman" blaming the media for creating the monsters who commit these crimes by giving them too much attention.  Yes, it was a hoax, but the media response in some quarters was not.  Before being revealed as not Morgan Freeman's words the email elicited some defensive responses.

All of those emails raise points that have some merit.  All of those points will get their hearing in the near future.

I just wish those emails could have waited a few days.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Davidson Wants You! Really???

"The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one."

It appears that the Davidson Board may have done just that Tuesday night in what was a reported discussion about the lack of diversity in interested volunteers for Town advisory boards.  Having had similar discussions with multiple Board members in the past, I don't doubt the sincerity of the concern.  However, I don't have much confidence the Town will be able to truly remedy this situation without also accepting the major source of the problem - themselves.

In this case I'm using "Town" to include elected officials, staff, and their associated supporters active in the local political scene.  Together, this group creates a nexus of interested parties who vigorously protect the status quo. 

Diversity of opinion is not all that welcome.  Dissent is discouraged.  Dissenters are targeted.

One has to look no further than last year's political campaigns for local office to see this dynamic in action.

In late summer of 2011, the Davidson Coalition for Fiscal Responsibility (DCFR) formed to express concern about certain Town policies - primarily around spending.  The group was also focused on transparency in Town affairs.  (Full disclosure alert:  I was a founding member of the DCFR.)

The response was swift and concerted.  The wagons were circled. 

Almost, immediately a group formed calling itself "Positively Davidson".  (See Davidson defenders organize new group HuntersvilleHerald.com 10/13/11.)  The leaders of this group make up the core line of Town defense.  Its email distribution doubled as a campaign contact list.

Letters to the editor of various local papers were written disparaging the DCFR.  The word "divisive" was used repeatedly to describe anyone who disagreed with anything done by the Town.  People who attended DCFR meetings were labeled as somehow not loving this town we all call home.

Emails were circulated - many, many, emails.  Some on those emails serve on the advisory boards already.  Some were appointed this week.  Some work for the Town itself.

...and the Town wonders why they have difficulty attracting new blood from across the entire town and not mostly from the town center?  Really???

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Day the Transparency Died...in Davidson

"I’d like to emphasize that once we have a clear plan in place, we will communicate to our citizens via multiple methods, to ensure they are aware of our plans."

Those are the words of our town's Public Information Officer, Christina Shaul, regarding the $6.3 million Capital Improvement Program which passed unanimously Tuesday night. (The actual long-term number will be even higher as the Town still didn't include over $2 million for a new fire station.) Ms Shaul's comment was in an email I received back on October 22nd - plenty of time to get the word out about how much money the Town would spend prior to the vote.

Here is the agenda item for the CIP from the Town Board meeting where it was passed. The below was posted up through late Tuesday morning without even the attachment of the details. The link now has the attachment - added just hours prior to the meeting.





Normally, agenda items have a detailed summary. Normally, there are attachments giving the details. Normally, this information is available to the public before the meeting.

Normally, local governments possess a sense of obligation to keep their citizens informed about important decisions.

The Town has spent considerable time and expense upgrading it's communications infrastructure in the past few years. However, this infrastructure was not used to distribute detailed information for this most expensive decision since the Mi-Connection purchase. Not an email blast, not a Facebook post, not a Twitter tweet on the final details or cost. There was not a public hearing. There was not a PSA over the Town's phone messaging system.

There were 50+ emails from the Town over the past three months. Dozens of Facebook posts and Tweets sent. Not a single one of them was dedicated to giving the public any details about the financial impacts of this decision or the assumptions behind it.

Now, here's the truly sad part.

After last year's election cycle where transparency was a campaign issue, one would have hoped the Town and elected officials would do better to see that this type of thing does not happen. Several candidates who are now elected officials even stated their support for putting large expenditures to a vote of the public. While the CIP does not require a public vote, the level of spending is significant. One would have hoped it might have reminded those officials that clear communication to the public about spending has an impact on public trust in government.

Those hopes were dashed Tuesday night.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Trifecta of Transit Tales Tucked in Today's Tabloids

First of all, no offense intended to the serious news outlets that posted these stories.  Tabloids you are not, but when the lead is buried as deep as it is in these stories, I couldn't resist the 6-word alliteration.

From DavidsonNews.net ... Student leaders give commissioners a wish list - Apparently one of the wishes of Davidson College students does not appear to be improved mass transit to Uptown Charlotte. 

"Commissioner Brian Jenest asked if students might head to Charlotte more often if better mass transit were available. He noted that downtown Charlotte streets are filled with young people on weekends. He got a lukewarm response, at best, with a couple of students saying they go to Charlotte for special events, such as concerts. And one student said he’s concerned about safety in Charlotte: “I wouldn’t go if you choked me.”

I am sure that must have come as a surprise to those on the Davidson Board who have been staunch supporters of the proposed Red Line. Of all the things mentioned in the meeting with Davidson College students, the Red Line has arguably been the largest focus of Town effort for the past year or two.  At Thursday's meeting, it was roundly snubbed by one of the groups (students) that would presumably make up a significant segment of the local Davidson ridership.

From Charlotte Business Journal ... Andy Dulin rules out mayoral run - Buried behind a diversionary headline is the real story about Charlotte Democrats being willing to go after their own at the ballot box over the Charlotte Streetcar.

"Whether Dulin seeks re-election is one of several questions swirling around council. This week, Fox affiliate WCCB-TV reported that Mayor Foxx wants District 2 councilman James Mitchell to run for an at-large seat as part of a bid to unseat Democrats Claire Fallon and Beth Pickering. The reason: Foxx is frustrated with their opposition to the streetcar extension, a political football that killed the Capital Investment Program proposal this year."

I used to know Claire Fallon when I lived in the University Area.  She was a supporter of Anthony Foxx during his initial bid for Mayor in 2008. To think the good Mayor would turn so quickly on someone for something as unpopular as the streetcar shows how far the pro-transit folks are willing to go in support of these projects.  It is sad and should be somewhat frightening to Charlotte voters.

Also from the CBJ ... Bank of America to sell 24-acre site near UNC Charlotte - What's not even mentioned in this article are the past mentions of site's location near what had been the full length of the Blue Line Extension - past its now terminus at UNCC.  Now that the BLE will never reach its full original length due to the exorbitant costs of the project, the property mentioned in this article won't be able to connect to the Uptown banking hub - certainly making it less useful.  That probably has as much to do with selling the property as does its reference to the bank's telecommuting program.

Transit. The gift that keeps on giving new and intersting twists in the local political scene this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

History Repeating Itself in Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

The White House position on the Fiscal Cliff negotiations goes something like this...

"President Obama campaigned on higher taxes for the wealthy, and he won.  As a result that's what he now demands." 

To me, that sounds eerily like what happens in the semi-famous quote by Alexander Tytler from the 1700s on why democracies fail.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."

Of course, it's unfair to pin the current situation completely on President Obama and the last election.  We've been voting this way for quite some time at all levels of government.  Maybe the only difference is that he's being more up front about the consequences.  Unfortunately, his hardball response today to the most recent Republican offer seems to indicate he also buys into the last part of Tytler's prediction.

Tytler was talking about the democracies of ancient Greece and Rome.  I wonder what the history books will say about us?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bring Back Partisan Judicial Races or Can the Races All Together

Many people who live in states with appointed judges are appalled when they learn some states like North Carolina actually elect our judges.  Honestly, I can't say I disagree with them.  To me, electing judges somehow just doesn't feel right.  Judges should be above the political fray as much as possible.  That's why Federal judges are appointed for life in most cases.  It removes them from the election cycle pressures of changing administrations.

However, an elected judiciary is the system we live with here in North Carolina.  That being the case citizens should be allowed to know the general philosophy they are voting for when selecting a candidate.  That option was taken away from citizens by the Democrats back in the late1990s and early 2000s - not out of any sense of fairness, but because too many Republicans were winning despite the large Democratic registration advantage. 

The result of making the races non-partisan was to obscure who the judges are philosophically by removing information available to the voters - hardly a very small-d democratic thing to do.  As pointed out in this piece from NC Civitas - Will Republicans Become a Lasting Majority in North Carolina? - voting in judicial races plummeted after this change because people no longer knew anything about these races.

While I am not an advocate of straight party voting, I do think people should be given all information available to make their decisions and partisan affiliation can be a critical piece of information.  To know that is true, look no further than both parties' voter guides.  They include conservative or progressive judges in the guides and ironically it is often this non-partisan information that causes people to take the partisan guides.  I can't count the number of times I've tried to hand out Republican voter guides and initially been told "no thanks, I know who I am voting for" then when I say the guide has information about conservative judges people readily and thankfully take them.

End result?  We now seem to have a system that leaves the information distribution on non-partisan races up to the system's most partisan elements.

Now that the Republican Party is firmly in charge in State Government, it has a choice - return to partisan judicial races and let the chips fall where they may or even consider moving to a judicial appointment system (something the NC Bar Association wants).  One would truly put the voters back in charge.  The other would help remove some of the politics from judicial decision making.

The least best option is to keep the system we have.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Davidson CIP Discussion Winds Down to December Vote

Tuesday, the Davidson Board will finalize discussions on millions in proposed new spending - $6.5 million to be exact. See details here.  This is all leading up to what will likely be a unanimous vote, in true Davidson style, in favor of opening the spending fire hose at the December meeting.

Due to previous commitments I won't be able to make this one.  However, in what is sure to be an exciting and well attended public meeting (sarcasm intended), here are some things you likely won't hear if you happen to be there.

You won't hear a single commissioner question the assumption that this spending plan requires the tax rate remain at its current artificially high rate as Mi-Connection subsidies are project to decline.  No tax relief is likely even in the event Mi-Connection improves.

You won't hear a single commissioner question the need for spending to increase Public Works to "Level B" service even when the latest, highly touted Community Survey shows Davidson residents are happy with the current service level.  Instead, the Town will continue to polish the apple.

You won't hear a single commissioner question if there is a fallback plan once commitments are made in the early years of the CIP if Mi-Connection does not continue to show improvement or the other revenue projections don't pan out.  Only time will tell if the economy improves and if the company's string of missed projections will be broken.

If this turns badly down the road, it's what you won't hear tomorrow which will be the reasons why.

Bonus Observation: Tomorrow also will see Commissioner's reports on their assigned special interestes.  Listen for Mayor Woods to provide an update on the Red Line and the discussions with Norfolk Southern on the proposed feasibility study.  How this study proceeds will determine the project's fate.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posting has been light recently due to catching up with other obligations post election, but I wanted to take a quick moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

We'll be back at full speed soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Republican Reboot - 8 Year Countdown

Republicans will say it was the media. They will say it was Hurricane Sandy. They will say Romney was too liberal or that he was too conservative. Some will blame the Establishment. Some will blame the Tea Party. All of that is true, and none of that is true.

Few will accept that the world changed in Election 2012, that the political ground shifted in a way that requires a fundamental reevaluation of the overall approach for conservatives - a transformation.  However if we don't accept that, then we better get used to more nights like this past election night.

Does that sound too radical? Does that sound like panic? If so, then look at the Senate races that were lost and come to a different conclusion. Akin and Mourdock (Tea Party), Allen and Thompson (Establishment), Brown (the ultimate moderate), Mandel (a conservative statewide elected official). All could have won in their respective Senate races. All lost. They only had one thing in common, the R behind their name.

The Republican brand has a problem.  That problem is deep, and it is complex.

But what about our very own state of North Carolina you may be asking? That proves that Republicans can win and win big.  Doesn't it?

Here's the irony of that.  As much as Establishment Republicans may want to think otherwise, the party won in North Carolina this year primarily because of the Tea Party tsunami two years ago.  That and the fact that Pat McCrory was running a 4-year campaign flush with cash against one of the most unpopular governors in the country.  The Legislative and Congressional victories were primarily a result of last year's redistricting.  Democrats actually received many more total votes in the combined Congressional races than Republicans.  They won three seats in overwhelming landslides skewing the results for several of the others. However, in other statewide races the Democrats still locked down most of the Council of State with the only other partisan statewide race, Lieutenant Governor, still locked in a recount.  It's hard to say Republicans won a landslide popularity contest in the state when redistricting is taken out of the equation.

Eight short years from now, we redistrict again.

The question is will Republicans recognize what needs to be done prior to that.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Davidson "Needs" list to pass tomorrow...

The Davidson Town Board will vote Tuesday to approve $223k in "needs"

Only $55k of the $223k that will be approved Tuesday are in fact needs by most commonly accepted definitions of the word.  $40k goes to immediate public safety needs for police and fire equipment.  An additional $15k is for needed computer equipment.  Public safety is the primary responsibility of government and the computers are required to actually run the government.  Those are needs.

Also considered "needs":

1. $10,000 for greenway easement acquisition when during the last public discussion on the subject there was no project underway 'need'ing anything.  However, based on those discussions this one will likely turn into an annual payment.

2. $1,200 for the Red Line trail - not the Red Line train - the Red Line trail - a planned bikeway roughly paralleling the proposed Red Line train.  At the last presentation on this project, the usage of the trail was based on the existence of the train which is at best many, many years off.  Tomorrow it will qualify as a "need".

3. $5,500 for a Town newsletter.  While potentially useful, the town has numerous other mechanisms to distribute this information including email, twitter, facebook, posting it on the website and using the Town phone broadcast to drive traffic.

4. $8,000 for a grant match for a "pedestrian plan".  How about spending that money on fixing more sidewalks?  Considering there were dozens of projects around town that need that money when Public Works made its presentation that would seem like a better "pedestrian plan".

5. $50,000 for updated Parks and Rec and Community Wellness Master Plan - The reason this is designated a "need" is that when applying for grants a more current plan is needed in addition to additional matching funds.  The Town is spending money as a "need" so that it can apply for more projects to spend more money.

6. $4,380 for audio visual aids for Town Hall.  iPads are simply not enough.

7. $33,000 for bathrooms at Ada Jenkins gym to allow for more Town use.  See number #4 about the sidewalks.

8. $40,000 for a public safety staffing study.  The travesty here is that it was relegated to the unfunded needs list when the Town was finalizing it's budget a few short months ago.  Back in June the Town funded a $75,000 re-write of its planning ordinance.  That made the cut but ensuring public safety runs efficiently did not.

It's about priorities, and "wants" rather than "needs" would be a better description for most of tomorrow's list.

Update: After months of discussion when it came time to voter on the first of multiple spending plans, there was no discussion.  No questions asked.  The $223k in "needs" passed unanimously.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What doomed Republicans on election night? Demographics and Mechanics

"Something is off. These numbers can't be right!"

Those must have been words bouncing around the heads of Karl Rove and Michael Barone on election night. Just day's before the election they predicted a solid Romney victory based on the "numbers".  Those words or something like them were definitely being spoken by the Romney campaign as they watched the night unfold. "Shellshocked" was the word reported by CBSNews.com.

Others in the prediction game got it right.  Nate Silver of the NYTimes 538 blog and Josh Putnam  of our very own Davidson College had been predicting the eventual outcome correctly for months.

They were all looking at the same data, but they had come to distinctly different answers as to what it meant.  How did that happen?  How can very smart people on both sides come to such different conclusions?  The answer is in their different assumptions about the "fundamentals" at work in this election.

Republicans believed the fundamentals at work were the traditional ones.  High unemployment, a sluggish economy, and massive deficits were the primary issues.  Romney-Ryan was the dream team to address them.  Obama's newness had worn off.  He was no longer the rockstar of 2008.  Romney had the greater momentum.  It showed in the his large crowds while Obama sometimes struggled to fill smaller venues.  Republicans also had a better machine this time around after being caught by surprise in 2008 by the Obama Campaign's high-tech approach.  They had evened the playing field enough.

Those were reasonable assumptions.  Were being the operative word - as in past tense. 

Democrats believed the primary fundamental at work was demographics.  Specifically, the changing demographics of the United States.

The Democrats were right.

Just as importantly, they built an even better machine to exploit that assumption.

Demographics and Mechanics made for a lethal combination.

It's a combination that Republicans must address, and the clock is ticking.  The only question is will we run out of time.

UPDATE: From last week Breitbart.com, no better explanation of why Republican's lost the Mechanics of this race.  As an Information Technology professional for almost 20 years, I can say with confidence that "haribrained scheme" is a polite description of what they were trying to do.  (More on mechanics in a later post.)

Exclusive - Inside Orca: How the Romney Campaign Suppressed Its Own Vote

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This is it! Go vote!

Polls open in North Carolina momentarily...

...if you don't vote, don't complain.

...if you don't vote, accept what you get.

Go vote so your opinion matters!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Will Davidson Turn Wildcat Red on Tuesday?

Cornelius Town Hall Early Voting, Sat 11/3.
The early vote stats for 2012 in Davidson are in the books, and at this point it appears to be a Republican advantage when compared to the basically even early vote contest in 2008.

As of the Friday before election day four years ago, Democrats cast 39 more votes than Republicans.  This year Republicans have 342 more votes in the books.  In both years Unaffiliated voters came in 3rd even though they are the largest block of registered voters.

However, what may be the biggest difference between the two cycles is the overall early voting turnout.  Over 1200 more Davidson voters have already turned out this cycle compared to 2008.  That means there are fewer votes remaining to be cast. 

If the trends continue on election day, Davidson could be an unexpected Wildcat Red this election cycle.

Related coverage...Davidson Village...Last Bastion for Democrats in the LKN Area

Help Spread the Word...Hurricane Sandy Relief from Bradford Neighborhood

Sabrina Hicks of Poetry Way is collecting donations for a trip that will leave early Wednesday morning for New Jersey.   If you are interested in donating, please drop items at the moving truck on Poetry Way in Davidson.


Here is a DavidsonNews.net article about the effort.   Drive collects supplies for N.J. victims of Hurricane Sandy. They also got a mention in this web version of a story by WSOC-TV.  Locals collect donations to help those impacted by Sandy 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Davidson CIP answers coming in...decision should be delayed until data is complete.

Here are some answers to yesterday's questions.  Thanks to the Town Staff for responding quickly.  The below is compiled from direct answers from the Town as well as other bits of information available. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Questions for Tonight's Commissioners Chat

The below email was sent to the Town for tonight's chat.  This may be the only time there is a public forum for people to speak on the proposed millions in CIP spending.  Hopefully, the public will be provided this information before any votes occur...



From: Rick Short <rick_clt@yahoo.com>
To: "townboard@townofdavidson.org" <townboard@townofdavidson.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 6:51 AM
Subject: Questions for tonight's chat...




Members of the Board and Staff,
 
Do you think answers will be available to the below at tonight's chat? In light of the good news from MiC I'm hopeful some of these can now be answered before you decide to go forward. In my opinion, these are questions the Board should answer for the public before voting on the CIP. Without answers to these it is very difficult for citizens to have the necessary parameters to judge the impact of the CIP decision.
 
1. How much debt is Davidson willing to owe Mooresville as part of this spending plan? What is the expected debt for the current fiscal year and is this based on the new 30% ownership level?
 
2. What are the growth projections and timelines provided and supported by Mi-Connection management which will result in lower annual subsidies from Davidson? Based on the MiC presentation last week, these should be available.
 
3. Based on the combined proposed spending and the debt payoff to Mooresville, when can Davidson citizens possibly expect to see any lowering of tax rates and/or fees which have been kept artificially high due to the years of Mi-Connection subsidies? If the answer is “never” or “we don’t know”, that’s fine. However, the public has expected all along that some relief would be coming when the subsidies were lowered.
 
4. What is the total cost of the proposed new personnel extrapolated out for the life of this spending plan? Specifically, I’m interested in the plans to move from a level C to level B service for Public Works and the costs to operate the proposed new fire station.
 
5. If the Red Line goes forward, will the Board commit to requiring the Red Line pay for whatever costs are not covered by the federal grant for the proposed Beaty St corridor project within the CIP? If not, why not? The Red Line project plans published to date indicate roughly $1.3 million for this same corridor. Not requiring this payment as a precondition for Town approval of the Red Line will effectively be leaving a portion of this money on the table.
 
I've asked some of these questions over the past few weeks, but the answers were not certain. I'm hoping they can be made public before you vote.
 
Thanks,
 
Rick Short

 
Follow on Twitter @Rick_Clt

Friend on Facebook "Rick Short"

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Canary in the coal mine in NC-9?

During the Republican Primary for NC-9, hardly a week went by without getting a mailer from the Pittenger Campaign - most of them negative.  Saturday, saw the arrival of the first Pittenger mailer in my mailbox for the General Election.  After spending more of his own money than all but one other candidate in the country I was surprised that it took that long.  Unfortunately, I wasn't surprised that it was another negative add.  While not the offensive "negative" of the primary, this was more the expected "negative" of partisan differentiation.  The piece was about Jennifer Roberts supporting higher energy taxes.

That type of partisan differentiation would seem to make more of a difference if you are concerned about the seat going Democratic and handing the gavel back to Nancy Pelosi, but few are worried about that anymore.  See  "House elections spell a Republican story and victory". That kind of red meat tax issue is the kind of thing you use to get people to vote against someone.  But in a district where you have such a registration advantage, there should be no need to really press that issue.  All you need for victory is for your people to vote for you.

I've got to wonder, why wait until now and why go negative again?  There should be no real contest in this race - right?  At this late date, does the Pittenger Campaign really sense they need to give their people a reason to pull the lever for them?

After a week of early voting, is this mailer a canary in the coal mine for NC-9?

Update: The last paragraph of this story points out a similar dynamic in the Presidential race.  The Two Polls That Have Chicago Terrified - NationalReviewOnline

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Early Voting Mid-Point...Who's winning NC?

The "Under the Dome" blog at the Raleigh News and Observer posted the following piece, Democrats lead early voting; Republicans think they're winning the race, which seems to say Democrats are on pace to repeat their early voting success from 2008 which put the state in President Obama's column.  During that election the Obama campaign enjoyed a 300k lead after early voting on their way to a razor thin final margin of just 14k.

This appears to be an oversimplification of what's going on so far.

Read more here: http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/democrats_lead_early_voting_but_are_republicans_winning_the_race#storylink=cpy

Monday, October 22, 2012

3 Questions for Davidson's CIP Discussion

Posted as a comment over at DavidsonNews.net Board resumes discussion of capital projects Tuesday.

In my opinion, there are three questions the Board should answer for the public before continuing with the CIP discussions. Without answers to these it is very difficult for citizens to have the necessary parameters to judge if these discussions are even starting from a sound footing.

1. How much debt is Davidson willing to owe Mooresville as part of this spending plan? Any spending at this point will effectively be on the Mooresville credit card. That being the case, only absolutely critical items should be considered.

2. What are the growth projections and timelines provided and supported by Mi-Connection management which will result in lower annual subsidies from Davidson? Only when these annual subsidies fall below $1 million will Davidson begin to pay down our accumulated debt to Mooresville.

3. Based on the combined proposed spending and the debt payoff to Mooresville, when can Davidson citizens possibly expect to see any lowering of tax rates and/or fees which have been kept artificially high due to the years of Mi-Connection subsidies? If the answer is “never” or “we don’t know”, that’s fine. However, the public has expected all along that some relief would be coming when the subsidies were lowered.

Having attended several of these meetings, I have yet to hear these items publicly discussed. Admittedly, I may have missed it, but if these critical items have been made public it would be useful information for the Town to publish at this point.

More to come after tomorrow's meeting...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Backdoor Spending for Red Line in the Near Future?

With the Red Line in limbo, a couple of proposed spending items in the near future could give the project a little wiggle room on the spending side if Davidson and Huntersville planners get their way.  As part of the Red Line plans on the table, the towns were supposed to get local improvements paid for by the rail project if it goes forward.  However, it looks like both Davidson and Huntersville will pick up the tab themselves for their most expensive Red Line related items if the Huntersville transportation bond passes in November and Davidson moves forward on one of the items being discussed as part of a new Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

The entire list of station area improvements found at the Red Line site lists $6.9 million for a " Huntersville Main Street upgrade" and $1.38 million for a "Potts-Sloan Connection" in Davidson.  The Huntersville Herald reported back in August that $10.275 million of the Huntersville transportation bond currently on the ballot would go to "N.C. 115/Main Street upgrades" - by far the biggest chunk of money spent from this $17.85 million portion of the bond offerings.  On the Davidson side, the Town's current CIP proposal has its largest item the Potts-Beaty corridor project which contains the the "Potts-Sloan Connection" mentioned as part of the Red Line effort.

Both of these projects would receive Federal funds if underway by 2015 according to the towns, and the argument goes that they would be leaving money on the table if they don't get started.  However, it sure looks like they will be leaving Red Line money on the table if they go ahead.  In Huntersville's case there has at least been an acknowledgement that this spending will increase taxes.  No such acknowledgement has come from Davidson at this point.

One thing seems for sure, if the towns spend their own money on these projects (subsidized by the Feds), the Red Line project would not have to if it goes forward.

Friday, October 19, 2012

With Strong Move to Romney North Carolina's Moment in the Spotlight Ends


On 10/18 North Carolina moved to the "leans Romney" category in the RealClearPolitics.com Electoral College projections effectively bringing to an end the Tarheel State's moment in the national political spotlight.   Its original "Firewall in Ruins", national attention will move elsewhere as the Obama Campaign redraws its lines of defense around more traditional Democratic Party strongholds including the union heavy states of Ohio and Nevada.  Punctuating these events, the Romney Campaign is now reportedly pulling senior campaign workers out of NC to carry the battle for the Presidency to states needing more support.

It's a rather ignominious end to a political season which started with such high hopes - one where Charlotte hosted the DNC enjoying some global attention only to have the host committee end up millions in debt and the State's ultimate impact on the election relegated to being a footnote of election history - it being the state that put the Romney-Ryan ticket into the lead in the RCP Electoral College projections for the first time.

Of course, that factoid will only be important if there is ultimately a Republican win.  Less than three weeks until we all find out.






Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Davidson Village...Last Bastion for Democrats in the LKN Area

I came across the below post a while ago on WFAE.org and asked Dr Bitzer to repost on his blog NC-Politics. In light of last night's rather raucous Presidential debate, I thought it was a pertinent topic for the eve of early voting in this year's State and Federal elections and food for thought on local elections to come.  Regardless of what election cycle we're navigating, this is a good depiction of why there is the saying "all politics is local".

Sorting Our Polarized Politics - Dr Michael Bitzer

Looking at the map of Mecklenburg county in the above link, one thing that jumped out at me was how Davidson's Precinct 206 sits like a spot of Carolina Blue in a sea of NC State Red at the county's northern edge.  (I could have used Duke Blue Devil blue, but according to Dr Bitzer's analysis, the Davidson Village isn't even that blue anymore.)  It is especially interesting considering Davidson's other town precinct, PCT 127, is just as red as all the other precincts in the area.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Davidson CIP: Shell Game or Just a Lack of Caution?

UPDATE 10/26: The latest Mi-Connection results posted at DavidsonNews.net look promising and could reduce considerably the Davison subsidy payments outlined below if the trend continues. However, the significant improvement was primarily driven by operational savings from bringing the daily operations under local contol. This is a one-time event, and going forward continued improvement will have to be driven by customer growth.

Over the past couple of months, the Davidson Town Board and Staff have been discussing a new Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for the town. The CIP will also be the main topic of conversation at the Board's upcoming "retreat" in Statesville. Since the renegotiation of the Mi-Connection interlocal agreement with Mooresville earlier this spring, Davidson's cash flow problems have eased considerably. After years of postponed spending due to the large Mi-Connection subsidies, the Town appears ready to open the spending spigot - at least a little - for now.

However, achieving better cash flow is not the same as finding new money, and opening the spigot a little can quickly become like drinking from a fire hose.

Here are some numbers everyone should keep an eye on...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Red Line Chronicle - Chapter 8 - Red Line Task Force Back in Action

After taking a couple of months off from meeting, the Red Line Task Force chaired by Davidson Mayor Woods met on Wednesday to get an update on the project. 

The task force efforts to push the finance plan have been on hold since Norfolk Southern (NSRC) sent a series of letters this past spring that raised a number of serious questions.  In response, the involved parties are planning a capacity study of the NSRC O-line - the railroad's name for the line where the commuter rail project would take place.

Representatives of NCDOT and CATS met with NSRC earlier this month to begin that planning, but it will take a couple more months before that is ready.  Deputy Secretary for Transportation, Paul Morris, stated that executing the study is fairly "straight forward and predictable", but the important part is getting agreement on the assumptions and scope of the study itself.  That's the work that will take place over the next couple of months.  It was mentioned that the study could possibly evaluate traffic and capacity requirements from "New York to New Orleans", or it could be much smaller.  That is all driven by the assumptions and scope.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Davidson Spending Plans from the Twitterverse

From Tuesday night's Davidson Town Board work session...

@TownOfDavidson Sept work session underway at #Davidson Town Hall. - 6:13 PM

@TownOfDavidson Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) discussion underway. #Davidson - 6:30 PM

@TownOfDavidson has $461k Brd could spend on projects for #Davidson. - 6:34 PM

@TownOfDavidson $461k potential spend would mean no tax break for #Davidson residents. - 6:37 PM

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Breaking Down the Roberts Campaign Poll on NC-9

The Jennifer Roberts Campaign released a poll last week that shows this race to be much closer than conventional wisdom predicts.  The published results show the race at Pittenger(R) 38%, Roberts(D) 37%, Campbell(L) 3%, and a whopping 22% still undecided.

Very little polling data is available in the typical Congressional House race, so when anything is made public it warrants taking a look.  At the same time, any data released by a campaign should be taken with a wheelbarrow full of salt.

There are three basic possibilities with a poll like this:

  1. It's a legitimate poll based on reasonable assumptions.
     2.  It's a manipulated poll to get the desired result.

     3.  The campaign just made up the numbers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An example of a true activist...

The below piece from my friend Linda Angele was originally intended for the River Talk newsletter in River Run, but because of its political nature it was deemed as possibly "offensive".  How being an active member of your community could be offensive seems a bit hyper-sensitive to me, but these are the times in which we live.

Linda is one of the most sincere and dedicated activists I have ever met.  If you are interested in getting involved in local Republican politics, she can certainly point you in the right direction.

From Linda in italics below...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Capital Improvement Plan Preview...this one could sting a little.

Tuesday evening, Davidson Commissioners will dig into the proposed Capital Improvement Plan now that Mi-Connection will require less annual subsidy.

Here are some highlights from the docs posted on the agenda (errors corrected):

  • Over $10 million of projects including $2.5 million for the Potts Rd connector ($500k in Town money $2m in Federal dollars) and $2.9 million for a new fire station.

  • About $1.5 million more is on the Town wishlist for smaller items.

  • Most of the proposed spending is front-loaded to be spent by 2015.  That's well before the Town will know if there is any real and lasting improvment with Mi-Connection.

  • Staffing proposals could add hundreds of thousands in recurring expenses to the Town budget.

Taxpayers watch out.  This one could leave a mark.

Correction: The Town is looking at $10 million in new projects, not $8 million.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Is Pittenger in Trouble in NC-9?

Today, I did a little precinct walking in a heavily Republican precint, and one thing seemed rather clear to me.   Robert Pittenger's hyper-negative primary campaign against Jim Pendergraph may very well come back to haunt him. If the totally unscientific results from the many conversationss I had this afternoon hold anywhere close to the actual results, Pittenger's primary victory could turn out to be of the pyrrhic variety.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go...DNC Downsizes...Again

The DNC and its "boon" to Charlotte's economy took another hit today with the move of President Obama's nomination acceptance speech from the Panthers' 74,000 seat stadium to the Bobcats' 20,000 seat arena.

Officially, the reason was the weather.  Unofficially, one has seriously consider that they just couldn't put enough warm bodies in the seats. There is ample evidence that the latter was likely the real truth.

First, the DNC cut the convention from four days to three back in January.  Then came the elimination of what was supposed to be a big event at the Speedway. Now, downsizing the President's Thursday night speech effectively cuts a reason for many thousands of people to make the trek to Charlotte for Thursday's event - cutting two nights off of many hotel stays.  I heard this evening from one University Area hotel worker that hotel rooms all across town are being canceled due to this change - over 20 at this person's establishment alone.

But maybe more tellingly for why the event was moved...the delegates staying at that same hotel were trying to give hotel workers tickets to the event Thursday night as late as this morning - before it was downsized to something more fitting. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Davidson Eyes Spending Money From Mi-C New Agreement

Last night, the Davidson Town Board began a series of discussions on how to spend the money freed up by the renegotiated interlocal agreement with Mooresville on Mi-Connection. 

Here's a prediction.  Lower taxes or fees will not be on the agenda. 

Instead, the Town appears to be ready to start spending again (at least for a while) as if the Mi-C problem has been solved.  Unfortunately, that's not at all the case. 

The new Mi-C agreement caps Davidson's annual payment on the subsidy at $1,000,000.  However, it does not absolve Davidson of the Town's debt in any way.  Any amount Davidson would owe above $1m becomes an interest free loan owed to Mooresville.  That debt will increase every year Davidson Commissioners choose to spend this money on anything other than socking it away to pay back that debt later.  This makes these spending decisions the equivalent of putting them on the Town credit card.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Post 100...what have I learned?

Things have been slow on the local politics front the past couple of weeks affording me the opportunity to think about what I've learned since writing that first post back in February.  It has been quite a ride, and for post 100 it seems fitting to reflect on what I've learned.

Writing about Davidson town events as well as the regional happenings on the local political landscape has certainly brought me closer to this place I call home.  It has taken me to places I would not have gone otherwise and introduced me to people whose paths I would not have crossed.  Interesting, rewarding, and enlightening are words that come to mind.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Is the clock ticking on the Red Line in Raleigh?

The boat rockers over at the Daily Haymaker are at it again reporting on discord in certain corners of the GOP in North Carolina.   This time though, they're talking about our backyard here in Mecklenburg County, and they specifically mention the $452 million Red Line as a bone of contention between the conservative base and the GOP establishment.

This sentiment was on full display in a recent Red Line discussion on the North Mecklenburg Republican Women's Facebook page.  The opposition to the project among the Republican grassroots was crystal clear.  In a surprising signal the message may be getting through to the establishment several posters also make comments indicating they've heard from various elected officials that the Red Line is dead in Raleigh.  Most interestingly, the MeckGOP Precinct Chair, Bob Diamond, states that he got that distinct impression from none other than gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory. 

If that's true, that would be a sea change in the status of the project.  I say if because Pat McCrory has been a long-time champion of rail projects both as Mayor of Charlotte and since leaving Duke Energy.  That includes buying into the shaky economic development arguments behind these projects.  See How to sell transit? Dumb it down, says Pat McCrory from 12/10/2011.

The recent primary season was nasty, and it will take a while to mend some of those fences.  Some may never be mended in fact.  The question I have is will some of our elected officials and candidates recognize they need mending in time for this November?  If there's one good thing that could come out of it all, that would be to ring the bell on the Red Line.

Doing that clearly and loudly from the campaign trail rather than just insinuating that it will be dealt with next year would be a clear way to let people know they are serious and not just playing election year politics.

UPDATE: Word of the Red Line's troubles with NC pols has reached Atlanta where a transportation tax increase was recently shot down. Former MeckDeck blogger Jeff Taylor comments here at his new blog The Free Lance... Pat McCrory Already Lost an Election

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why the "Ryan Pick" is Important

The "Overflow" Crowd
Sunday's RomneyRyan2012 event in Mooresville showed very clearly why picking Paul Ryan (or somebody like him) was very much needed by the Romney campaign.  Thousands showed up and many of those would not have been there (myself included) if Romney had followed conventional wisdom and played it "safe".  The selection rejuvinated the race for the Presidency.  That in itself is important for a Romney campaign that can't seem to pull away from President Obama in any meaningful way - even with a lagging economy and unemployment stuck at stubbornly high rates.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Davidson's Revaluation Alternate Reality

Former Cornelius Commissioner and Revaluation Crusader Jim Bensman's recent open letter to the elected officials of North Mecklenburg is getting some attention around town.  One reader of this blog asked me and others via email what we thought about it.

One reader's response...

"The simple fact is that Davidson cannot afford to protest revaluation. Take a look at the current budget and then subtract the revenue gains associated with revaluation, looks pretty ugly. That would mean several hundred thousand more dollars in cuts! This is why you will hear nothing from Town leadership. They are counting on revaluation to get them out of the terrible financial crisis some of them helped create!"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Norfolk Southern Train Derailment - Bullet Dodged, Disaster Averted

Residents of the Town of Cramerton are still dealing with the fallout from a Norfolk Southern train derailment Monday afternoon.  Story here from the Gaston Gazette.

Fortunately, nothing catostrophic happened when over 30 train cars derailed in town - including highly flamable petrolium tankers.  The small town of a little more than 4000 in Gaston County has a train line running through the middle of it - a setup that should sound familiar to Davidson residents.

Something to considder as supporters continue pursuing the Red Line Regional Rail project with its proposed increased freight traffic through the towns of North Mecklenburg.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Town Welcomes MSC from Main Street to YouTube

You may have noticed the banners on Main St welcoming MSC to Town, and you might have seen the sales signs welcoming potential homebuyers in Bailey Springs, River Run and other neighborhoods.  However, you might not have seen the Welcome Video up on the Town's Youtube Channel posted under ExploreDavidsonNC.


In case you were wondering who put together the video, per Cristina Shaul, Town Public Information Officer, it was a combined effort of the PIO with volunteer help from rising 9th grader and Boy Scout Jeremy Collier .  The video will be presented at the next Town meeting on August 14th. 

Per the email from Ms Shaul, "MSC, through their relocation company, has been sending large groups of employees down to the area to help them learn more about the region, in order to determine whether or not they will relocate.  We created this video to welcome them to Davidson, share some key aspects of our wonderful community, and highlight our neighborhoods and schools, to help them get the 'lay of the land.'  One of the main reasons MSC picked Davidson is because of our wonderful community, and they are looking forward to being part of it."





Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Affordable Housing Rules Ignored or Irrelevant to a Revaluation?

Over at DavidsonNews.net there is a piece that poses the question Is assessor ignoring Davidson affordable housing rules?  In an unfortunate situation, there are Davidson homeowners in the Town's affordable housing program who after the last revaluation now have homes assessed for more than they can legally sell them according to the rules that keep the homes "affordable".

The question that should probably be asked is why shouldn't the assessor ignore those rules?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Davidson 4-Year Terms Proposal Withdrawn

In what may seem to be an ironic victory for small-d democracy, during Tuesday's "special meeting" the Davidson Town Board withdrew the resolution that would have put the 4 year terms charter amendment on the ballot this November. 

The Town's current format of two year elected terms for both the Board and Mayor in an at-large setup is the most "democratic" form of government allowed by state law.  The Town's proposal to go to 4-year staggered terms would have reduced the level of small-d democracy by reducing the frequency when an elected official had to face the voters.  It also would have ensured a majority of the board was only on the ballot at one time every 4 years.  In my opinion, neither of these things would be preferable for a small town like Davidson with an active and engaged citizenry.

Without going into the gory details of the arguments for and against this issue that were presented at tonight's meeting, I'll just say I'm glad they made the decision they did.  It was the right thing to do.

DavidsonNews.net article on the meeting.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

THIS TUESDAY: Special Meeting on 4 Year Terms & Proposed Ballot Language

Tuesday evening at 5pm the Davidson Board will meet at Townhall to once again discuss 4-year terms.  This meeting came out of the issues posted here last week on this blog.  In an ideal world, the Board would drop this issue.  Between the missed procedural steps and the below examples of proposed ballot language, it is obvious this idea has not been fully thought out.


Initial ballot language received from Town Manager Brice.

Should the ordinance establishing four year staggered terms for the Mayor and Town Board of Commissioners of the Town of Davidson be approved?  ___yes   ___no


Follow-up language from Town Attorney Kline to clarify that this was an actual charter amendment (which indicates that the initial draft language may not have been fully vetted before sending to the Mecklenburg Board of Elections).

Shall the ordinance amending the Charter of the Town of Davidson to change the term of the Board of Commissioners from two year terms to four year staggered terms and changing the term for the Mayor from two years to four years be approved?  ___yes  ___no



Of course, neither one of these allows for separate questions for the Mayor and Board, so ultimately, neither of the above could be the language voters will see in November if this goes forward.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Is Davidson Using Correct Procedure for 4 Year Terms Charter Amendment?

Last year when the issue of 4 Year Staggered Terms was tabled, a big part of rationale for doing so was to get it right.  Unfortunately, with the "resolution of intent" passed at last week's July meeting, the process appears to have gotten off on the wrong foot.

As was reported in DavidsonNews.net last week, questions are still outstanding on "whether the votes for the Mayor’s term and the Commissioners’ terms will be separate, and also how they will determine who gets the first 4-year terms."  Those questions were raised by Commissioners Venzon and Graham about other options on the table other than the one in the resolution of intent presented at the meeting.  When the question was asked of town staff if changes could be made later to consider those other options, the answer was "yes".

The UNC School of Government seems to think otherwise and that may have the proposal in a bind.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Election Fallout Part 2 - NC Senate 41

Watching the election night returns in the new NC Senate 41 district was like watching a train bearing down on a car trapped on the tracks.  You could sense the outcome before it hit even as you hoped it was not going to happen.

John Aneralla held a solid lead in early voting showing strong support among the party faithful, and as precinct after iprecinct reported their results, he held onto that lead.  However, the precincts in Cornelius were holding out until the end.  Then came the crunch.  When the Cornelius vote finally posted, it put Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte over the top.  The Aneralla campaign was not able to get off the tracks to safety.

For state taxpayers, this train analogy could be a recurring theme.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Election Fallout Part 1 - NC 9

On the last day before the runoff election, I received two pieces of mail from the PAC "Citizens for Conservative Leadership, Inc" parroting the tone of Robert Pittenger's attack adds.  More on the PAC here.  One was a repeat of an earlier mailing that accused Pendergraph of not doing enough to protect children as sheriff.  The other was an attack about same sex benefits.  It was pink with two male figurines on top of a wedding cake.

"Enough already!", I thought. 

The next day, Pittenger wins and Jennifer Roberts sees an opening. 

"What? No! That's not possible!" most staunch Republicans would say. This district is too conservative for Jennifer Roberts to ever have a chance.  You may be right.  You probably are right. 

But then, there's this...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vote "NO" on Davidson 4-Year Terms

Tuesday night, July 17th, the Davidson Town Board took the first step towards what could be an historic change to our town charter.  The Board voted 4-1 on a resolution starting the process to put a charter amendment on the November ballot.  If passed as-is, this amendment will create 4-year terms for our Board and Mayor and stagger the elections with only 3 positions on the ballot every two years. 

In response, the Vote "NO" Davidson 4-Year Terms Facebook page has been launched to provide the public with information on why this change would not be the right thing to do for our town.

This is a follow-on effort to the "Let Davidson Vote" initiative last year which encouraged the previous Board to not make this change unilaterally.  If it is to be done at all, it should be put it before the people for a vote.  Now, it looks like we will get that chance.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pendergraph vs Pittenger...last minute hail mary

The Pendergraph campaign just emailed this story about Robert Pittenger (published Sunday) by World Net Daily on the NC-9 runoff.

'Damaged' GOP candidate to hand Dems safe seat? -WND 7/15/2012

Glad to see others are finally catching on that choosing the wrong GOP candidate could open this seat up and make it competitive - something that was said here  and here back in May on this blog.

It's too bad some of Pendergraph's own actions could just as well bring the same result if not the same investigations. 

But, these are the choices we've left ourselves on Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For many NC-9 runoff reduced to this...

The below comments from the Observer article on the Monday's NC-9 debate paint a stark picture on how many unfortunately see the choices in this runoff.  All three posters are regulars and conservative standard bearers on the Observer message boards.

I myself am leaning towards Pendergraph, but not because I think he's the best candidate.  I don't.  However, giving Pittenger the power of incumbency in addition to the power of his personal wealth is too scary a proposition to simply sit this one out.

It's hard to believe that what should have been an easy election has come to this, but here we are.

From Accusations fly in feisty debate for 9th District

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/07/10/3372040/pendergraph-pittenger-spar-in.html#storylink=cpy



Monday, July 9, 2012

Legislature Silently Deals Potentially Fatal Blow to Red Line

When the NC State Legislature adjourned last week it appears to have done so without extending the sunset provision in legislation critical to the finance plan for the Red Line.  This legislation authorizes the Special Assessment District (SAD) financing mechanism targeted for the project, and it expires on July 1, 2013.

Edition 3 of Senate Bill 426 from May of 2011 contained a provision to extend this sunset date until 2016.  The bill sat quietly in the House Finance committee for over a year.  On June 19, 2012, this provision was removed by the House committee in Edition 4 and returned to the Senate for final approval where the bill passed without the sunset extension.  The bill was ratified on June 28th.

Without this extension, a Red Line financing plan does not exist.  Even more interesting is that this requested extension, so critical to the project, was never mentioned at any of the public meetings over the past six months.  Now, the project must count on the new Legislature passing this extension as one of the first orders of business in the next session - a risky proposition.

Bonus Observation:

At the NC Senate 41 runoff debate in June, John Aneralla mentioned recognizing a lack of support for the project in the Legislature.  Jeff Tarte responded that he thought it was a good project as long as a financing plan could be worked out.  Looks like that plan just took a serious hit, and Mr Aneralla looks like he has his finger on the pulse of what's really going on in Raleigh.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Red Line Chronicle - Chapter 7 - Project Goes Under the Knife

Photo by Michael Drummond

Like a thoroughbred that has run its last race and ended short of the finish line with two broken legs, the Red Line Regional Rail project is about to go into surgery with Norfolk Southern as the surgeon.  Whether the project makes it back to the track or is put out to pasture is what's at stake.

Red Line supporters don't seem ready to admit the project is on its last legs, but make no mistake this is going to be one expensive doctor's visit for taxpayers.