Jason Baker's blog

Sierra Club County Commissioner Forum

It's that time of year again, the sweet smell of campaigns are starting to fill the air. The Sierra Club will be hosting a forum on environmental issues for Orange County Commissioner candidates on Monday, March 17th at 7pm in Carrboro Town Hall. Members of the public are invited to attend, though it will be televised if you are unable to make it.

Because I get a number of questions regarding the process the Sierra Club takes to endorse local candidates, I wanted to explain exactly what it is we do to make our decisions. Rather than put you to sleep with a long written explanation, I took to my webcam and tried to describe the process as best I could. Enjoy by clicking "read more" below.



Your Daily Commute

A few weeks ago, I was asked to take a look at my daily commute and examine it in terms of the physical factors that affect my journey. Below is a video that represents the route I travel (almost) every day and the hurdles I encounter. Because I walk a pretty short distance most days, it's a very microscopic view of pedestrian travel issues in downtown Chapel Hill. I want to turn the question around to the Orange Politics community, and see what you think of your commute. What problems do you have to deal with every day on your way to work/school/where ever, and what do you see as the solution?



It's going to cost how much?

Note: The DTH source article was incorrect; read Bob Hall's comment below. Thanks, Bob. -JB

Did anyone else read the article in today's Daily Tar Heel about the meeting of the Mayor's Committee on Campaign Finance on Monday? Below is an excerpt, which concerns me a bit..

The committee decided to include rescue funds as a separate provision despite concerns about complicating the campaign process, financing the fund and enforcing the necessary spending reports.

Benchmarks for matching candidates' spending with public funding also were also established.

Candidates for council office will receive $3,000 in public funds if they can raise $750 from personal contributions and $2,250 from other local avenues.

Mayoral candidates must raise $1,500 in personal contributions and an additional $4,500 from community sources to be matched with $6,000 in public funds.

"It does open up the field to more citizens who do have a real base in the community but may not necessarily have access to a lot of money," said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a Durham-based nonprofit that advocates for campaign reform.

Do Student Body Elections Matter?

Students are voting today in this year's student body elections. You can't walk through the main part of campus without being assailed by a horde of shouting, sign-bearing, leaflet-handing campaign workers. But, if you don't spend time on campus or read the DTH, you probably had no idea. While some local elected officials have certainly benefitted from their experience with student government (I'm looking to you, Mark Kleinschmidt), one might wonder just how much influence the student body president and congress has on the larger issues affecting the town and university.  I worked my butt off for Tom Jensen's unsuccessful 2005 student body president campaign, which was the first and only time I recall sitting council members weighing in (Tom was endorsed by Bill Strom and Sally Greene).  Other than that, do town folk care?

Below are excerpts from each Student Body President candidate's town relations platform...

J.J. Raynor:

Sunny Side Up?

There's been something floating around in my head since Monday night's council meeting. One item from the consent agenda entitled "Resolution Authorizing the Mayor to Request a Fee Waiver from Duke Energy for Town Solar Energy Projects with 'Buy All/Sell All' Metering," sparked a mini-feud between Matt Czajkowski and Mayor Foy. Apparently, Duke Energy charges a rate for two-way metering that is significantly more than the rate they charge for a meter box on a typical usage-only application. As in, perhaps several times more. The exorbitant fee is putting a damper on the rate of return on the town's experimental panels on top of the fire station, and the mayor wanted to ask Duke if they could provide a more reasonable rate, whereas this is a rather experimental project, and is benefiting both Duke (who is getting the energy at peak usage hours, aka daylight hours), and the entire community, as per environmental benefits.



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