Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Money Well Spent

At tonight's Board work session there was a presentation on the new "victim's advocate" program Davidson participates in with the other towns of North Mecklenburg. For $15,000/year paid by each municipality, victims of domestic violence receive additional support at a time when they are most vulnerable. Importantly, this advocate also frees up up officers to focus on the crime while the vicitims receive the support they need. United Family Services which administers the program says it has been so successful that they would like to promote this model in other counties.

During the budget debate last summer, funding this program actually came up briefly. Davidson commissioners questioned the equal funding committment from all the towns wondering if it was equitable for each town to pay the same since they include such different populations. To date, 66 cases have received support from the victims advocate office with 15 coming from Davidson. This type of non-traditional program which supports our community and our public safety officers in doing their jobs clearly represents money well spent.

More on this program from last year.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Davidson Moves to New Congressional Home - Says Goodbye to NC-12

This year Davidson moves to its new congressional district after the redistricting effort last year in the state legislature based on the 2010 Census.  What does this mean for the average Davidson voter? Well if you are one of the growing number of Republican or conservative independent voters in town it means you'll likely be able to elect a candidate to your liking for the first time in a long time.  (See new map at right from, old map below from

Friday, February 24, 2012

Red Line Chronicle - Chapter 4 - A Forced Interlude and Alternatives

With the Red Line hitting a few bumps this past week, it appears the proposed schedule may be coming back to some semblance of reality. That's a good thing.  Regardless of where this project goes from here, slowing down will give the public a chance to digest what is about to happen to them if this project does eventually go forward.  Over the past several weeks I've been surprised at how many average citizens still don't know that anything is going on with the project.  Most say something along the lines of "oh that train will never happen" - usually accompanied by an eye-roll.

At least now, more people will get the opportunity to let this project sink in a little bit before next steps are taken.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 Meets Mecklenburg Politics

A funny thing happened last night when I got home from Dr Kathleen Jamieson's lecture at Davidson College on ugly campaign tactics. Waiting right there in my inbox was an email that made me think "does this qualify?"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Norfolk Southern Flexes Its Muscle

Tomorrow's MTC Red Line Task Force Meeting should be very interesting.

With a second scathing letter as many months, Norfolk Southern exposed some serious issues with the whole Red Line plan and approach.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Picking a Candidate in a Primary

This primary season is already shaping up to be one of the most interesting in recent memory, and the filing period is only one week old. Voters will have more choices to make between members of the same party than in many past election cycles.  Since many districts are "safe" for one party or the other, the primary is the real race, but sizing up the differences between candidates of the same party can be difficult.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Red Line Chronicle - Chapter 3 - Why Even Progressives Should Oppose the Red Line

The debate around rail transit projects often depicts Conservatives being against it and Progressives being for it.  To some degree, I think that's true.  However, Progressives in my opinion have many reasons why they should oppose these projects.  In fact, it is really just a small slice of Progressivism that pushes for these things - the New Urbanist/Smart Growth crowd.  With strong connections in planning departments, an uncanny ability to control the debate, and some serious motivation, this group of activists often carries the day in these decisions.

I believe the Red Line offers some great examples why your average run-of-the-mill Progressive with different priorities might think otherwise.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Randall O'Toole Visit Follow-up - Troubadour Galore

More articles this week as Red Line conversation continues. 

Supporters bring in their own "troubadour" at the Huntersville Herald AND the Lake Norman Citizen - a troubadour indeed!!! 

Mr O'Toole posts a crushing response.

More can be found on the meetings that generated this back and forth here.

UPDATE: Missed one...the troubadour Mr Lind also was printed in this week's Charlotte Business Journal

Local Media Takes Potshot at Legislator Serving in War Zone

Last night, WSOC-TV aired a piece that went after Charlotte area legislators who have missed votes.  See the clip here.

Some legislators undoubtedly deserved the uncomfortable spotlight, but pointing out that South Charlotte legislator (and US NC-09 candidate) Ric Killian has missed a number of votes without providing more detail as to why is a classic example of a media hit piece that biases the story by leaving out some important details.

So, as Paul Harvey used to say..."and now, for the rest of the story."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Will everyone who supports the Red Line please raise your hand?

NC Speaker Thom Tillis spoke at the North Mecklenburg Republican Women's meeting on Monday night.  One of the more interesting moments occurred when someone asked if he supported the Red Line.

His initial response was to ask all RLRR supporters to raise their hands.  Not a single hand shot up.  Then a few sort of inched up - a little.  None of the candidates for office who were in the room put their hands up.  None.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Can a shrinking Lowes HQ anchor the Red Line?

Since the Red Line full court press started a month ago, the beacon of an ever expanding Lowes corporate HQ in Mount Mourne has been one of the justifications for the finance plan built around Tax Increment Financing revenues and Special Assessment District fees.  An ever growing corporate campus would spin off higher tax revenues for the TIF, and SAD fees would go up as well when as the campus builds out.  Today's announcement should have the Red Line consultants scratching their heads:

"Lowes offers buyouts to corporate staff"

What has me scratching my head are these questions.  What variables did the consultants have built into their models for the Lowes campus build out?  How long were they assuming this would take?  How much density and total square footage were they calculating?

After today's announcement, whatever assumptions the Red Line consultants started with, they should now be recalculated with the qualifiers "longer" and "not as much".

Red Line Chronicle Chapter 2 - "Why the rush?"

As far as transportation projects go, the Red Line is moving like a Japanese bullet train.  In a few short months it has gone from being DOA in the emergency room, to the project sucking up all the oxygen in town halls, boardrooms, and public hearings across the land.

How did this happen and why the rush all of a sudden?  The answer…as always…is money.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Republicans Put Themselves in a Pickle Over Gay Marriage Amendment

With Beverly Perdue's exit from the governor's race this fall, the proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage just got interesting.  Passage of the controversial amendment on the May 8th primary ballot was a foregone conclusion when the only big race on the ticket was the Republican presidential primary.  Now, with a Democratic primary for governor on the ticket as well, the Republicans in the Legislature have a problem.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stand Up North Carolina Draws Republicans Looking to Bolster Conservative Credentials

Seen an Stand Up North Carolina in Mooresville on Wednesday night, Charlotte City Councilman Andy Dulin and Mayor Jeff Tarte of Cornelius.  Both are eyeing higher office and looking to burnish conservative cred in North Meck / South Iredell. 

Will it work?  Will their records appeal to the Tea Party crowd?

From Twitter...

@JeffTarteNc..."Thank you to the members of @StandUpNC for having me last night. Great group of super folks..."

@LawShaheenJr..."At @StandUpNC @adulin says he is going through his checkoff list for #nc09. He would be shocked if he doesn't run. His wife is 90%"

Red Line Chronicle - Chapter 1 - "Why This is Important"

All Aboooaaard!!!

Welcome to the "Red Line Chronicle” – a series of commentaries on Davidson’s looming decision regarding the Red Line Regional Rail project.

This series intends to ask some probing questions about the RLRR endeavor with the hope of inspiring some spirited debate.  Now, I know how this works. Asking questions about a project where many people feel passionately is likely to not sit well with some. In fact, I can already hear the accusations of being “divisive and negative” and see at least a few shaking heads as I’m writing this. So, why am I doing it? The answer is simple. This is too important. This project is too big and will impact Davidson too much to not ask some hard questions.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Randall O'Toole Comes to Town - Red Line Plan Gets Knocked Around

Most people don't know the name Randall O'Toole.  Frankly, you'd have no reason to unless you are in the train planning, building, or lobbying industry.  If you are in one of those industries however, then Randall O'Toole is akin to Public Enemy #1.  He's "persona non grata".  He's the guy who rains on your parade.  He came to town today.

Sue Myrick bails...NC-9 Fiscal Conservatives Go From Frying Pan into Fire?

Sue Myrick's choice to leave Congress at the end of this term, gives NC voters a chance to put a real fiscal conservative in that seat. I'm not sure they'll get the chance though.

Sue Myrick is certainly a strong foreign policy conservative, and she may be a good social conservative too.  However, I stopped seeing her as any sort of fiscal conservative when she supported the Charlotte Streetcar project back in 2010 to the tune of #$25M.  See her letter of support here.  This letter came in late in the project's application process for Federal grant money and likely put the project over the top by rounding out support from our local congressional delegation.  (The line doesn't even go into her old 9th district by the way.)  It was the last nail in the coffin for any effort to prevent what will surely be a huge waste of money.

Here's a link about Democrat Jim Pendergraph running for Sue Myrick's seat.  No, you didn't misread that.

That link is from 2007 when speculation was rampant that then Democrat Pendergraph was planning to run for the 9th District seat even back then.  Pendergraph was leaving Mecklenburg County for what turned out to be a short-lived Washington job at Homeland Security.  While in DC working under the Bush administration, he switched parties to become a Republican.

Now that he's thrown his hat in the ring for the newly redrawn NC-9, we'll get to see how far that conversion from Democrat to Republican has truly come.  My guess is not far enough for some in the GOP.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

And so it begins...

That initial post to a new blog...a blank page asking the question "Why am I writing this?"

I've dabbled in political activism for a while now. Been a precinct judge, volunteered on campaigns, participated in the verbal jousting of news site comment boards and worked with different activist groups over the years. But when I moved to Davidson, I thought I'd put that behind me and gotten it out of my system.

What I found out though is that politics is like malaria. Once it's in your blood it's difficult to cure. It often comes back with unexpected vigor, and if you live in a swamp it's almost impossible to be rid of it permanently. Davidson is that "swamp" for a political junkie like me.

Davidson is a fascinating (and wonderful) place. If you are into local politics and want to be involved, it has everything you need - a highly educated population, truly interesting characters, a college, a spirit of community like no other, and enough small-town intrigue to keep things interesting. All of that and a few chance meetings reignited my fever - to the chagrin of my dear wife.

In my short time here, I've been fortunate enough to meet people of all political stripes. Many, I now call good friends. Others, may wish I never showed up. All of them interesting.

So to answer that question..."Why am I writing this?"

That's easy. Davidson is a community. I'm part of it. This is my contribution.

This next year will be interesting to say the least. On the horizon we have the Red Line, a State marriage amendment, a national convention, Legislative and Federal elections, numerous other Town decisions, and certainly a few unexpected surprises.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.

Starting later this week, the Red Line Chronicle.