I hear tell John Tedesco's Student Assignment Committee has been hard at work today, and the result is a decision to move forward with this staff-prepared map of 16 assignments zones as the "shell" from which to produce a final map. The 16 zones are drawn around the existing high schools. A few are grouped: Enloe & Southeast Raleigh ... Millbrook & Sanderson ... Green Hope & Panther Creek ... Wake Forest-Rolesville & the new Heritage & new H6 [Rolesville]. The rest are solos.
Staff figured out how many students live in each of these hypothetical zones vs. the available capacity in each zone (as of 2012) for elementary, middle school and high school students. Click here for that information.
[WRAL has a good story up emphasizing that the zones should be considered "fluid" since no actual boundaries have been drawn.]
What about diversity, you ask? Someone who was there (I wasn't) tells me the percentage of students in the Enloe/Southeast Raleigh zone who would be eligible for the free and reduced lunch program (F&R) is 68%; in the Green Hope/Panther Creek zone, it would be 7%, and 11% in the Apex zone. Keith Sutton, who represents Southeast Raleigh on the board, expressed alarm at the concentration of low-income kids in one zone — his, essentially.
Tedesco's answer: Staff should also create five super-zones ("regions"). Kids at the middle-school and high-school levels would apparently be allowed to apply to schools in their super-zone as well as their zones, and to magnet programs wherever they are. (Good luck getting into programs that don't exist, however.)
That's pretty much been JT's idea from the get-go. The F&R percentages in five possible super-zones ranged from 14% in the West to 52% in the Central, where Enloe/Southeast Raleigh would be.
Thus, problem solved! my source says. The super-zones help to mask the segregation in the zones!
This 16-zones/5 super-zones plan should come as no surprise to us. Tedesco described it in January; not sure why it's taken him so long to move from what was a general description then to the current, uh, general description. Politics, maybe?
In fact, if I do say so myself, my map from that January story of 14 zones — which I designed to illustrate what Tedesco was thinking — is slightly better and less segregating than the map Tedesco seems to like now. I assumed he would at least try to off-set the segregating effects of a zones plan by logically grouping the schools in Raleigh. (Thus, I put Broughton HS and Athens Drive HS together in a single zone, and Wakefield and Millbrook together in another zone. All four are solo zones in Tedesco's plan.)
Why Tedesco is so determined to pack every poor minority kid he can into a single Southeast Raleigh zone, I don't quite get, unless it's for the purpose of keeping "those kids" out of other, suburban zones. And I just know it couldn't be that.
Here's my map, by the way, for reference — the yellow lines mark the zones; the red indicates concentrations of low-income kids (the redder, the higher the concentration). If you click here, you'll find a list of the elementary and middle schools included in each of my 14 hypothetical Tedesco-style zones.
Proliferating "No on NC3" signs in the Five Points neighborhoods list a 5 p.m. start tonight (Tuesday night). That's actually the time of a pre-meeting rally in Nash Square — right in front of City Hall — called by neighborhood organizers. The organizers also have a website with good information.
The Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will take the form of a public hearing at which residents are invited to make their views known. Thus far, the Council has taken no formal position of any of the proposed high-speed rail routes, and it's unclear whether it will do so before the official comment period on the HSR project closes September 10.
NC1/NC2-A.A. is essentially a hybrid, combining the benign parts of NC1/NC2 — the parts north of Peace Street — with the benign part of NC3 — the part south of Peace Street. A 1.200 foot railroad viaduct (bridge) would connect the two disparate sides, crossing over Capital Boulevard. The x-outs above are the problematic parts of the original NC1/NC2 alignments for which the bridge would be the replacement. The idea is explained in greater detail in this document: Waters_NC1_2_NC3_Avoidance_Alignment_FivePager.pdf
City Councilor Russ Stephenson has taken the lead on exploring the NC1/2-A.A. route, pushing to have the Council hear a report on it from city staff. Once that report was added to the agenda — city transportation staffer Eric Lamb will do the honors — suddenly the Rail Division of NC DOT wanted to be heard too, and they will be. They sent around an analysis tonight pooh-poohing 1/2-A.A.; but at first glance — to me, anyone — what DOT's engineer said seemed no more definitive about its shortcomings than the shortcomings already revealed re: NC1, NC2, and NC3.
In other words, every one of the three official HSR alignments has problems, and if one is chosen, the problems would need to be overcome. So guess what? 1-2-A.A., whose authors were still tweaking it last night, has problems too that would also need to be overcome.
Here's the DOT document: 2010-08-30_JTO-MH_Rekeweg_1_.pdf
Stephenson's point when I talked to him yesterday was that DOT and Raleigh are attempting the make "a 100-year decision" about rail transit and should take the time — and do the study — to get it right. Instead, he said, "It seems like this has been a tremendous rush to judgment so far."
A big question mark for him, Stephenson said, is how each of the proposed HSR alignments would work, or not work, in harmony with any TTA light-rail system. The Triangle Transit Authority is continuing to study its own alternative alignments through the center of Raleigh, but most of its plans would put some kind of local transit — either light-rail or diesel locomotives — on the NC1/NC2 corridor. "The question from my perspective," Stephenson said, "is whether we want to call a timeout" while city staffers do as complete an analysis as possible of the DOT's alternative routes, the TTA's alternatives, and how to get them working as a package.
He didn't answer his own question — tonight's hearing will help clarify the issues and whether more study is needed, he said.
Such a timeout could push the high-speed rail project back six months or more, Stephenson said. On the other hand, there's no funding available for it yet, and a six-month study might well not cost anything in terms of a buildout that could be many years away.
In the it's-about-time category, Raleigh launches its first African-American Cultural Festival next weekend, just before Labor Day. This should help make up for the loss of the CIAA basketball tournament to Charlotte. (The less said about efforts to replace it with the MEAC tournament, the better.) Raleigh's got a long way to go in putting its rich black history and culture forward. Hopefully this event is a step in that direction.
Anyway, the program sounds good:
Inaugural African-American Cultural Festival Set For Sept. 3-5
Raleigh residents are invited to enjoy their Labor Day weekend at the first ever African American Cultural Festival. The festival will be a celebration of African-American art and culture and will be held on City Plaza, Charter Square and the 400 block of Fayetteville Street September 3 through September 5.
After a welcome reception on Friday, September 3, Saturday and Sunday will feature African-American arts and crafts, specialty items and food vendors. At City Plaza, the "main stage" will be filled with local, regional, and nationally recognized acts. Scheduled performers include Chuck Davis and the African-American Dance Ensemble, the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, the Soul Rebels Brass Band, and others. The headline act for the day will be Chuck Brown and His Large band.
Located adjacent to City Plaza at Charter Square will be the site of a family-friendly "village" featuring entertainers and performances. The day also will include educational and interactive programming for children highlighted by a performance by "Magic of African Rhythm."
For a complete list of performances and additional information, visit www.aacfralwake.org
A little history. The state DOT picked a general route for the Southeast High-Speed Rail line from Richmond to Raleigh eight years ago, when nobody was paying any attention and there was no prospect of it being funded in anybody's lifetime. The general route: Right through Raleigh; details to follow (or they don't matter).
So two years ago DOT showed up at City Hall and said the specific routes they had in mind would requiring closing and/or screwing up the streets that connect Raleigh's first successfully revitalized downtown neighborhood — Glenwood South — to the second revitalizing downtown neighborhood, which is the downtown itself.
These were the so-called NC-1 and NC-2 routes, both of which followed — with slight variations — the CSX rail corridor.
No, no, no said the city planning staff, the City Council and Mayor Charles Meeker. PLEEZE consider going through Raleigh another way. They wrote an official letter to that effect.
So DOT went away and studied the city's proposed alternative, now known as the NC-3 route. It follows the Norfolk-Southern rail corridor.
A few weeks ago, DOT was back with NC-1, NC-2 and NC-3, putting Raleigh officialdom in a box. Everybody in Raleigh is "for" high-speed rail. But almost nobody's in favor of the only three options for HSR that DOT has thus far presented.
All of which is prelude to the City Council's hearing on the subject next Tuesday, Aug. 31, 6:30 pm at City Hall.
Remember, the city has already, in effect, said no to NC-1 and NC-2.
Well, last night the vote at the Five Points CAC meeting on NC-3 was 0-81, meaning zero in favor and all 81 of the folks still there three-plus hours after the start of the meeting opposed. (About 150 opponents were there altogether; everybody who left signed anti-NC-3 petitions on the way out, it seems.)
NC-3 may be better than NC-1 or NC-2 in the Glenwood South area, you see, but north of Peace Street NC-1 and NC-2 are rather benign, while NC-3 would do real damage to the neighborhoods in the Five Points area. Or so the residents there believe — and they believe it unanimously.
(Just to be polite, Five Points also voted 65-27 in favor of HSR "being constructed in the Raleigh-Triangle area." But, of course, that assumes DOT can come up with an acceptable route somewhere in the Raleigh-Triangle area. Nobody wants to be against progress, after all.)
From a standing start three weeks ago, when all of Five Points was still blissfully unaware of what DOT and the city had in mind for them, an opposition campaign has arisen and is gaining steam. And, oh, it may be worth mentioning that it's in no way partisan — it's riled-up Democrats and riled-up Republicans joining hands and wondering why the city has forsaken them.
So what will Mayor Meeker and the Council do? They've already said they don't like NC-1 or NC-2.
Will they now:
1) Relent on NC-1/NC-2, while perhaps asking DOT to consider tunneling the project or, if it stays at-grade, to let the cross streets remain open?
2) Endorse NC-3 over the growing chorus of opponents in the Five Points, Roanoke Park and Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhoods?
3) Telll DOT that none of the three alternatives are acceptable, and that unless a better way through town can be found, either the HSR line should go around Raleigh or the city will be forced to advocate for the "no-build alternative" that, as Planning Director Mitch Silver told the CAC last night, is inherent in any transportation alternatives process.
On the periphery of the meeting, meanwhile, an unofficial "NC-4" idea was floating around in the form of a map showing HSR coming into Raleigh from the north on the CSX tracks but then cutting over to the N-S tracks via a railroad bridge/rail platform that would span Capital Boulevard. Like this:
(Or, to see it in all its glory: FINAL_TheMap_FivePager_Option1SEHSR.pdf)
If you're following along at home, the best way to get such an NC-4 alternative on the table now, it seems, would be to suggest that NC-1 or NC-2 could be acceptable if "mitigated" — that's government-speak
for why didn't we think of this in the first place? — by the addition of a cross-Capital Boulevard RR bridge.
What's interesting to me is that nobody on the city planning staff seems to know whether Raleigh took a position for, against or neutral eight years ago when DOT made the call to punch the HSR project through the center of town. Nine alternatives were studied back in 2001-2, we're told, before the "go through the middle" alignment was picked instead of, for example, using the current Amtrak route that comes to Raleigh via Rocky Mount. I'm trying to find out more about that, not that it matters much now.
It's an online voting thing, which is where we come in.
At last count, according to my very good source, Willow Springs was 32nd in the nation, and the top 20 schools get the dough.
So, though I hate these things in general — nothing against Kohl's, but it is a publicity stunt — the time has come for all good folks in Wake to go online and vote for Willow Springs Elementary. Click here to get to the voting place
The voting ends September 3, so, uh, do it now?
By the way, it's pretty simple, but do take a moment to be sure you're voting for Willow Springs in the Wake County system. If it doesn't say Wake County, it's either the elementary school in the Willow Springs area of Johnston County (Dixon Elementary) or else one of the many other Willow Springs schools in America.
And for some reason, you get 20 votes — and YOU CAN CAST FIVE (5) OF THEM FOR THE SAME SCHOOL.
Best strategy: Five votes for Willow Springs and don't cast the other 15. Then tweet it, share it, whatever.
Nichols has his own campaign for Wake County Commissioner ahead and no time to focus on the needs of the many and various Democratic candidates for other state and local offices in Wake. At the Wake Democratic Men's Club meeting a couple of weeks back, it was announced that he'd resigned and a replacement would be chosen at an executive committee meeting of the party Sept. 14. Mack Paul, who was there, was presented as Nichols' replacement. Paul didn't say much, neither did Nichols, but they didn't need to; everyone there already knew that Nichols asked Paul to take over.
Paul is a real estate lawyer with the giant K & L Gates firm; he's based in the Raleigh office. He's had some stinkers for clients. I'm sure he's had some good ones too that weren't so controversial. (I try not to judge a lawyer by his/her clients. But for my full disclosure, Mack's's doing the lawyering for the FMW rezoning case I wrote about recently that I still don't think is so hot.) He's a former counsel and lobbyist for Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker and for Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC.
[Emergency Update ... second transmission received ... garbled —
... click here to unscramble.]
This transmission just received from the planet Apex:
Democrats have taken the Capitol. The situation is dire.
Leaders in the pro-diversity movement who are battling the Wake school board majority to stop resegregation of the county's school system, have called a prayer meeting for Monday, August 30 at 7 p.m. in Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. The church is located at 1801 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, near the NCSU Bell Tower. Its senior pastor is the Rev. Nancy Petty, who along with the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP, has led the protests at school board meetings. Petty and Barber have each been arrested on two occasions for acts of civil disobedience.
This is the message sent by the organizers:
Clergy to Hold Day of Prayer, Clergy Summit and Prayer Meeting in Raleigh, NC to Promote Schools Excellence and Stop Resegregation.
Rev. Dr. Nancy Petty of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and Rev. Dr. Earl Johnson of Martin Street Baptist Church will lead a steering committee of clergy which include: Rev. Portia Rochelle, President, Raleigh/Apex NAACP Branch; Rev. Anthony Davis, AME Zion Church; Rev. Lorraine Ljunggren, Pastor, St. Mark's Episcopal Church; Father Michael Hunn, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina; Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Pastor, Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church Hickory, NC and Religious Chair of the NC NAACP; Rev. Paul Anderson, Pastor, Fountain of Life Church; and David LaMotte, Program Associate for Peace, NC Council of Churches.
Our purpose is to open our churches for prayer, hold a Clergy Summit and a Mass Public Prayer Meeting on August 30, 2010. The Clergy summit will be held at Martin Street Baptist Church at 3:00 p.m. and the Mass Public Prayer Meeting at 7:00 p.m. at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.
August 30th is a historic day in Wake County. While there had been modest steps towards desegregation, on August 30, 1971, following the Supreme Court decision in Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Raleigh students began more intentional and broader steps towards desgregation of public schools 17 years after Brown vs. Board of Education.
Rev. Dr. Nancy Petty notes that the reason for calling this Day of Prayer and Clergy Summit is to be clear that the issues we are dealing with around public education have enormous moral, ethical, and spiritual implications. For people of faith, prayer has always been crucial to the work of social justice. Now, more than ever, we must be faithful in not only working for justice but praying for justice. And so we gather on August 30 to pray that our community and our elected leaders will stand up and speak out for ALL our children.
It's going on four years since our Indy cover story, "Imagine Dix," about the potential for a Raleigh Central Park on what remains of the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus — about 306 acres of land. I see, within that story, the subhead, "Decision in '07?" No, there was no decision in '07, or '08, or '09, and there won't be one in '10 either, because Dorothea Dix Hospital is not yet closed and won't be — shouldn't be — as long as the state's mental health programs remain screwed up to the max.
But someday, we trust, mental health services will be community-based and the old state mental hospitals like Dix and Broughton (in Morganton) will be mothballed in North Carolina just as they have been in many other states. Then the question will be whether Dix is used for state offices (the Department of Health and Human Services is on Dix Hill now, with no plans to vacate) ... or be developed (For Discriminating Buyers: The Glade at Dix Hill!) or will be preserved as parkland for all time.
With ???? located in the park? That's what "Imagine Dix" was about — parks can take many forms.
Anyway, today's news is that Greg Poole's Dix Visionaries organization abides, and they've launched a new website, DixLegacyPark.com to remind everybody that when the hospital closes, the Dix legacy can go on.
RALEIGH, N.C. (August 11, 2010) — The Dix Visionaries unveiled DixLegacyPark.com today as the group continues its push in declaring the Dix Campus a Destination Park when the hospital there closes. The website is part of the Visionaries’ ongoing effort to educate the public on the importance of preserving the campus.
“These 306 acres represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create an untold wonder for all North Carolinians,” commented Greg Poole Jr, chair of the Dix Visionaries. “This lasting monument to Dorothea Dix will serve as a place of relaxation and recreation for countless generations, while spurring economic development around the park by attracting businesses and visitors to North Carolina.”
Sponsored by Harris Teeter, DixLegacyPark.com is part of the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility and building a sustainable future.
"Harris Teeter is proud to be part of a project that offers North Carolinians a Destination Park in our state's capital," said Catherine Reuhl, communication specialist for Harris Teeter. "As an industry leader, we are committed to implementing sound environmental practices in all areas of our company and are pleased to support the preservation efforts in Dix Park."
Visitors to DixLegacyPark.com can learn more about the history of Dix Campus, the legacy of Dorothea Dix, the attributes of a Destination Park and the rare opportunity the land presents. Added social media channels such as the group’s Facebook and YouTube pages contain many hi-res photos, videos and news articles of North Carolina’s soon-to-be Central Park.
About the Dix Visionaries
Dix Visionaries are a group of North Carolina business and community leaders from across North Carolina working together to raise awareness and funds from the private sector. Their mission is to support community leaders from across the state in the preservation of a Destination Park on the 306 acres, the only remaining acreage of the original 2,000 acre tract on the Dorothea Dix Mental Hospital property. The group’s plan has been endorsed by the N.C. Council of State, Mayor Charles Meeker and the Wake County Mayor’s Association, Governors Hunt, Holshouser and Martin and community, political and business leaders from across the state.
Following up on our story about UNC-TV's serially embarrassing decisions to 1) run away from the Alcoa story that its reporter, Ezster Vadja, was putting together; 2) cave in to a legislative subpoena for Vadja's unfinished work; and then 3) rush her unfinished work to air with a disclaimer that it wasn't finished nor had it been vetted for editorial quality or fairness —
UNC-TV, the public television station licensed to the University of North Carolina, asked the UNC School of Journalism to review its handiwork. Tom Howe, the station's general manager, made the request, and a team of three J-School folks was duly empaneled. But apparently their thoroughly negative conclusions weren't what Howe was hoping for. Anyway, he didn't release their report. So Alcoa, of all things, made a public records request and now Alcoa has put the J-School's report out..
You can read it here: UNC_JOMC_-_Draft_Memorandum_Re_UNC-TV_Series_on_Alcoa.pdf
It ain't pretty.
The report's conclusion is unambiguous. The team from the J School was asked, they said, whether the UNC-TV coverage met "universally accepted standards of journalism" and was therefore properly broadcast. "Simply put," the team said, "our answer is a collective no." [Emphasis in the original.]
Strangely, UNC-TV seems unembarrassed and certainly unrepentant about its actions. Had it taken the time to edit the Alcoa story properly before it went on the air, its statement says, the station's managers might've been accused of "suppressing" the story:
An editorial review and the resulting changes that would have been dictated by such a review would have prevented these North Carolina Now reports from airing in a timely way and precluded the public from having immediate access to the information, provoking additional allegations that UNC-TV was suppressing the story.
The full UNC-TV statement is reprinted below.
I asked Steve Volstad, UNC-TV's spokesman, whether the station's board of trustees has met to consider how this matter was handled, or mishandled. He said it has not. The next board meeting is scheduled for September 7. One assumes Tom Howe will be asked to account for himself. That'll be interesting.