Dan Coleman's blog

Locke Up the Trains

Yesterday, the John Locke Foundation sponsored a conference whose aim was apparently to trash rail plans for the Triangle. You can read about it in the Herald.

Some interesting excerpts:
The American dream is being challenged by "misguided planning policies" and doctrines "that call for greater government control over development, housing, transportation and consumer choice."

"mass-transit is a dollar-gulping failure"

"the cost of each passenger mile in an average car was 20 cents, compared to 60 cents for each mass-transit passenger mile. In most U.S. locations, each new rider could be provided with a leased car for his or her entire lifetime for the cost of building a mass-transit system,"

It sounds like this conference could just as well have been planned by the highway industry. The comments above reflect a glaring failure to understand federal and state transportation subsidies, the incredible success of transit in many major cities in the US and around the world, and American history.

Is this journalism?

For those of you who may have missed it, orangepolitics made page B1 in today's News & Observer

Intrepid reporter Anne Blythe draws generalizations from comments made here without any specific attribution and characterizes her anonymous source as "the town's political insiders."

Does Blythe know that A Voter, Winston Smith, or Coyote, to name a few, are political insiders? If so, how?

Surely there is a long tradition of anonymous attribution in the news business but I think it used to go like this: a reporter tries to find someone to go on the record on a story. She can't but she finds a potent statement from someone who wishes to remain anonymous and is called something like "an informed source" in the article. The readers then place as much confidence in that quote as they have in the writer's and editor's ability to find and vet a credible source.

Does Campaign Spending Matter?

To move away from the heat of the recent campaign but keep the focus on the relevance of campaign spending on local races, I’d like to look back at 1995. After that election, the Herald did an analysis of spending per vote for all the candidates. The results are pretty instructive. (Note: we can’t do that analysis for this year until February when the final spending reports are in.)

First and third place Chapel Hill finishers, Capowski and Andresen, spent almost the same amount per vote: $1.34 and $1.32 respectively

Second place finisher Chilton was low-spender among the winners at only $0.46 per vote. That helps explain his reputation as a savvy campaigner. (Chilton was also a strong proponent of the voluntary spending limits initiated that year by the Greens and Sierra Club).


Enfranchisement and its dissing is an interesting problem. Consult the Federalist Papers and you will learn that the Founding Fathers were concerned about the "tyranny of the majority" under a pure democracy which might lord it over (or disenfranchise) a minority that nonetheless had the vote. Of course, the minority they were concerned with were the wealthy people who owned the country ("The people who own the country ought to govern it"--Hamilton). Today, we see that they crafted the system very well as 215 years later the wealthy remain firmly in charge.

The situation in Carrboro could be very similar to that feared by the Federalists in terms of the nature of the majority and who it is tyrannizing over.



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