Chapel Hill will be the home of one of thirteen rallies going on simultaneously across North Carolina on Wednesday. Join us in rising up against the immoral attempts to drag our state back to the bad old days!
Although it may be down the totem pole in your interest list given the number of interesting political happenings of late, I just wanted to give everyone a quick update about the OP upgrade currently underway. I have been working with Ruby over the past several months to implement a much-needed upgrade of this site from Drupal 5 to Drupal 7.
From an email just received:
This is my last newsletter to you. After a great deal of thought, I have decided to resign my position in the North Carolina Senate. It has been a great privilege and I have been honored to be chosen to represent the people of this district. Thank you for the opportunity to serve in this way, thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas and for your support over the years.
After reading about changes made in Watauga County, I was prompted to write a letter to the Orange County Board of Elections after several constituents voiced concerns about decision making in other counties. Below is that letter.
Dear Members of the Orange County Board of Elections,
I am writing in response to concerns voiced to me by constituents in the Orange County community after actions taken by the Watauga County Board of Elections and the Pasquotank County Board of Elections.
This week the Watauga County Board of Elections took action, which consolidated three precincts into one large precinct numbering nearly 10,000 voters and where the polling place has only 35 parking spaces. They then took action to reduce early voting to four days and eliminated early voting at the Appalachian State University campus. All of these actions were made in secret and not shared with the Democratic member of the Board, yet the Watauga County GOP chairwoman was fully aware of the coming actions. To add insult to injury, the Board did not allow verbal comment from the public, instead opting for written comment only.
On June 20th a hearing was held at a Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education meeting about the need to address racial inequities in how students are disciplined. As we gear up for another school year, I hope that efforts continue to be made to eliminate these inequities. Some activities have already begun. More and more of our neighbors are attending Undoing/Anti-Racism/Dismantling Racism workshops, and the CHCCS this summer held one of these workshops specifically for students and another that many staff attended. (Workshops will be held in the fall and are open to the public. For more information: Undoing Racism/Racial Equity Workshops in Chapel Hill; Dismantling Racism Workshops in Durham.)
A number of folks spoke at that June 20th hearing, including public defender James Williams, who shared these remarks:
Over the next two weeks, Orange County will be holding public outreach sessions to get feedback from central and rural Orange County residents about the Orange County Bus and Rail Investment Plan. Residents are invited to discuss options for new, expanded and existing bus services under the plan. Bus routes to be brought for public input will include rural service routes, regional service routes, and the Hillsborough Circulator.
Four meetings will be held throughout northern Orange County in August. The dates and locations are as follows, and can also be found on the OP calendar.
The Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force continues its work but has a new barrier to contend with that may preclude the Orange County Board of Commissioners from taking action. As reported in this story by Chapelboro, an EPA complaint filed by the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association in 2007 alleges the Orange County Planning and Inspections Department (OCPID) "intentionally discriminated on the basis of race by denying water and sewer service to the African American residents of the Rogers Road Community." The full letter from the EPA to the OCPID can be read here.
A recent column by Kirk Ross in the Chapel Hill News makes very clear how increasingly relevant the N.C. General Assembly's shenanigans are to us here at the local level. In the past, many have debated the utility of municipal and county governments weighing in with symbolic resoluitions about state and national issues. Well pardon my French, but sh*t just got real in Raleigh this summer.
Last week, Chapelboro's Elizabeth Friend took a look into how Orange County agencies are (not) enforcing the countywide smoking ban (PDF) enacted by the Orange County Board of Health last October. I think this piece raises a few concerns worth discussion. For context, the ban officially took effect on January 1, 2013, but enforcement measures were not scheduled to begin until a few weeks ago on July 1.
I was happy to see the county enact a smoking ban back in October. This policy decision to promote better public health for all of Orange County's citizens is one that should be applauded -- I just wish the enforcement efforts were worthy of applause, too.