Duncan Murrell's blog

Citizen Investigator

For some time I've been thinking about a project to develop something you might call an "open-source" clearinghouse for records, public and private, available on the web.

Dude, Who Crashed My ATV?

While I'm fiddling with the where-are-they-now machine on this, the last day of 2003, a day when the grownups seem to have disappeared leaving us nothing substantive to chew on, I thought I should call your attention to the situation of former UNC-Chapel Hill Executive Vice Chancellor Elson Floyd, now the president of the University of Missouri system.


It's too complicated to summarize, but it involves a basketball player/girlfriend beater named Ricky Clemons, NCAA violations, secretly taped conversations, a crashed ATV, and that scion of the Evil Empire, Quin Snyder. In my experience, Floyd was an honorable, honest, and candid vice chancellor when he was at UNC, and I'm surprised he's landed in this mess.

Teresa Chambers and Her Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This is a national story, but I thought some folks around here might be interested in what was happening to former Durham Police Chief Teresa Chambers. It seems that Chambers is about to be fired from her job as the chief of the National Park Police because she went on the record with a Washington Post reporter describing very specifically how her agency was underfunded, and what that meant on the ground.


I commend her on her courage and forthrightness, but I hope I'm not the only one who's struck by the irony. In Durham, Chambers was not known as someone who was forthright with the press. Indeed, she did everything she could to manage the department's image, which in her mind meant choking off the local press's access to police officers and police documents. Her feud with the Herald-Sun was particularly nasty and personal.

Then she goes to Washington and suddenly she's a whistleblower and a friend of the press? Better late than never, I suppose.

Local Media and the "B" word

Bias is a loaded word that gets thrown around indiscriminately now to characterize the purveyors of news we don't like, and to express frustration with the news choices of editors and program directors whose jobs are little-understood by most, and who can't be voted out of office when they piss us off.

That is to say, I don't think much of the word "bias" as a term of media criticism, and I tend to think of people who use it as folks who, well-meaning enough, don't really understand how the news business works.

But, someone asked for a thread on local media -- ahem -- bias, and so let's pick that one apart. A few thoughts and questions:

Is This What's Meant By 'State of the Art'?

The Chapel Hill Herald had this take on the Chapel Hill Town Council's discussion of TTA merger last night.

Consider this a thread for the general discussion of regional transit, with special emphasis on what merger with TTA would mean for Chapel Hill. Would it mean greater interconnectivity with the other transit systems? (That is, would it be easier for me to take the bus to Durham?) Would it be not much of a change at all? Would it be easier or harder for TTA to implement some of it's long-term plans (guideways, light rail, etc.) if the region's bus systems were joined, or would it not make much of a difference?

What's more progressive: regional transportation that works but isn't free and may be less "flexible"; or local public transportation that's free, reliable, convenient, but doesn't get you very far outside the town?



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