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INDY Week columnist Bob Geary's Raleigh news & politics blog

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Friday, September 24, 2010

A new Lightner Center plan — this one in Southeast Raleigh?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 1:47 PM

The new public safety center in LA You'll recall that the idea of building a new 17-story Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center on the site of the current police headquarters (on the north side of Nash Square) ran into a 4-4 City Council deadlock. Questions were raised about the wisdom of putting all of the city's public safety functions into a single high-rise building; the cost of making such a building ultra-secure; the additional security costs associated with putting public spaces — a cafe, e.g. — on the first floor; and whether there might not be a better place...

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Raleigh City Council: A battle for James West's seat?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 6:02 PM

There's no betting line on this (that I know of), but the reported coronation of Eugene Weeks as District C's new representative on the Raleigh City Council isn't the absolutely sure thing it's been made out to be. The reason: Women in Southeast Raleigh are stirring with the complaint that Weeks is just the latest in a long line of "Old Guard" men from the African-American community who've held office in the city to the exclusion of the other sex. Younger, female talent should be considered, they're saying. At least one other candidate has emerged: The Rev. Sheila Jones, who's...

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Monday, September 20, 2010

The U. S. Senate on Tuesday: DADT is 1st test, then the DREAM Act

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 6:17 PM

I think I have this straight. The Senate will vote Tuesday on whether to break a Republican filibuster aimed at blocking consideration of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act. The Republicans have turned against defense spending? No, they're against a provision of the bill that would start to repeal the military's anti-gay Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. [2nd Update, later on Tuesday afternoon: ThinkProgress has an excellent summary of the Republican smackdown, including Sen. Susan Collins' tortured logic.] [Update, Tuesday afternoon: 43 senators, including all 41 Republicans, voted to filibuster the bill as long as it contains the anti-DADT provision....

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N.C. Blue Cross to refund $155 million in premiums: "It's the right thing to do."

Posted By on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Adam Searing of the N.C. Justice Center calls it historic, and indeed it is: Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC is reaching into its well-stuffed coffers and refunding $155.8 million to 215,000 policyholders. Why? The short answer is federal health care reform. Under the new law, N.C. Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is empowered to vet what health insurers charge in North Carolina (up to now, the Insurance Department has merely "received" insurers' rates). And, of course, Goodwin started with BCBSNC, which controls more than half of the health insurance market in North Carolina and remains — against its wishes...

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Call Hagan & Burr: The DREAM Act is heading for a vote in the Senate

Posted By on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 1:26 PM

If you're in the mood to call your U.S. senators — they'd be Kay Hagan and Richard Burr, respectively — and urge them to cast a vote or three for progress in the world, the N.C. Council of Churches' David LaMotte issued a urgent call this morning [it's copied below] on behalf of three bills: The new START treaty, a criminal justice measure to curb prison abuses, and a favorite of ours, the DREAM Act. Indy photo by D.L. AndersonRaleigh's DREAM Act hunger strikers in June[You'll recall that, in June, three young women — the children of undocumented immigrants who...

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"Legal strategies for challenging resegregation" on tap at NAACP-led gathering in Raleigh next Saturday (Sept. 25)

Posted By on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Civil rights groups have promised to take the Wake County Board of Education to court if its new student assignment plan — still a work in progress, if progress is the right word — would result in resegregation of the school system. They'll start to flesh out that promise with their specific legal strategies at a meeting next Saturday, Sept. 25, 9 a.m., at Christian Faith Baptist Church, 509 Hilltop Drive, Raleigh. State NAACP President the Rev. William Barber and national NAACP President Ben Jealous will participate along with the leaders of the UNC Center for Civil Rights, the Southern...

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wake school wars: Alves will return, and Goldman is listening (i.e., some good news)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 1:20 PM

The take-home from this morning's press conference on Wake school issues: First, the business community — the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership — is bringing Michael Alves back into the process of creating a new student assignment plan for the schools; and second, Wake school board vice chair Debra Goldman attended, welcomed Alves' return and used the word "compromise" in discussing what she hopes Alves will help to accomplish. Both are good news. [Update: By popular demand, I will attempt to answer briefly the question: What did Goldman say? She said: She's "thrilled" the Chamber...

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Human Rights Coalition of NC: Nominations are in order for 2010 award

Posted By on Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Gail Phares. Joe Straley. Evelyn Mattern. Rania Masri. Lonna and Richard Harkrader. John Paar. Mary-Lou Leiser Smith. David Potorti. Ray Buchanan. Ann Ross. Mark Gilney. Paul Luebke. Margaret Misch. Jerry Markotos. That's the list of winners of the HRC-NC's International Human Rights Award since 1996. The group will recognize the 2010 award recipient at a dinner in December. Nominations are open through September 21 — next Tuesday — so your assignment between now and then is: Who's missing from that list? That's part 1. Part 2 is a written nomination citing your nominee's work and activities; their impact; biographical...

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Monday, September 13, 2010

SPARKcon: 5 years old this week and very precocious

Posted By on Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 9:52 AM

I remember little SPARKcon when it was just a gleam in the eyes of Aly & Beth Khalifa and the rest of the Designbox gang. Goodness, gracious, now it's 5 years old and it's grown so much! It really is "igniting the creative hub of the South" — this part of the South, anyway — from the arts to music to fashion and design and, this year, a new CircusSPARK. [A note: SPARKcon 2010 is the 5th annual. Upon consuming my fifth cup of coffee, I realize that the first one was in 2006, which would make 2010 its...

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wake Commissioner Harold Webb resigning; Dems to pick replacement next week

Posted By on Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 8:42 AM

Democratic Party sources forwarded Commissioner Harold Webb's letter of resignation, sent yesterday to the Wake County Clerk. Webb suffered a stroke last October. Although his health has improved, he wrote, his constituents need someone representing them full-time. Webb's term doesn't expire for two more years. His replacement will be chosen by a committee of the Wake County Democratic Party, which was already scheduled to meet next week — on Tuesday, Sept. 14 — to select a successor for ex-Chair Jack Nichols. Nichols resigned after becoming a candidate for Wake Commissioner in the 2010 elections in November. He's taking on Republican...

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Crowder Plan: Use the High-Speed Rail project to remake the Capital Boulevard "Valley"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 11:31 AM

Photocomposition by Warren GentryImage courtesy of Don't Railroad Historic Five Points What's the next big thing in Raleigh? Try this: We put together the Dan Douglas plan for an urban (even European) Capital Boulevard with TTA light-rail and one of the hybrid routes for the DOT's Southeast High-Speed Rail project, then add the plan so many have talked about for a greenway "riverwalk" on the it-doesn't-have-to-be-fetid Pigeon House Branch creek north of downtown. It all adds up to City Councilor Thomas Crowder's proposal yesterday to "think big" about high-speed rail and the possibilities for Raleigh if we get it right...

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The future of school zones: Uh, oh.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Wait, wasn't the whole idea of junking the diversity policy that it would put an end to "massive reshuffling" in the Wake school system? But as Charlotte-Mecklenburg foretells, when you create GOOD SCHOOLS and BAD SCHOOLS, guess what? People with money move to where the good schools are, and the bad schools empty out. What happens next? "Massive reshuffling," as the Charlotte Observer reports. The conservatives in Charlotte-Meck got rid of diversity seven years ago. They've been paying for it ever since. And paying for it in more ways than just higher taxes....

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

High-speed rail: Residents' "hybrid" plan gains with City Council, DOT

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 9:18 AM

The big news out of last night's City Council hearing on the Southeast High-Speed Rail Project: The hybrid plan put forward by a citizens group — variously called NC4 and the NC1/NC2 Avoidance Alternative — will be given serious consideration by the Department of Transportation's Rail Division. Pat Simmons, head of the rail division, told the Council that his staff will work with the city's transportation staff to see whether the hybrid idea can be made to work and if so, exactly where that cross-Capital Boulevard railroad viaduct could be located and what its impacts would be. Before the hearing,...

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