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

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Monday, May 2, 2011

(Update): Wake Commissioner Stan Norwalk is resigning

Posted By on Mon, May 2, 2011 at 6:37 PM

[Update: 5/2 — According to the N&O, Wake Commissioner Stan Norwalk just announced that today's meeting of the Board of Commissioners will be his last. Re-reading this post from five weeks ago, the only other update is that Cary Town Councilor Erv Portman is on the list of those "mentioned" as a possible replacement for Norwalk. Two prominent Democrats mentioned Portman to me privately on Saturday at the Jefferson-Jackson breakfast in Cary hosted by the Democratic Women of Wake.] What follows is from the 4/23 post: Wake Commissioner Stan Norwalk, the one forceful progressive voice remaining on the Republican-majority...

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

That voodoo that UDO so well (with thanks to Phil Poe, apologies to Cole Porter)

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 6:44 PM

On the homepage of RaleighUDO.com Phil Poe, inveterate citizen that he is, has a new blog up about the UDO — the Unified Development Ordinance. (Like its subject, Poe's blog is a work in progress.) Never heard of the UDO? That's Poe's point in creating his website. Raleigh's planning department & its consultants from Code Studio have been writing this thing, this UDO, for more than a year and guess what, it's a whole new zoning code for the city ... ... pretty exciting, except ... ... City Council has allotted all of 60 days for the interested public to...

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Cary, a Republican jumps into the mayor's race

Posted By on Thu, Mar 24, 2011 at 12:04 PM

Michelle MuirMichelle Muir has a campaign website and a Twitter (@MKMuir) account. She's a registered Republican with a excellent voting history, according to county election board records. From Muir: Cary deserves a visionary leader and ambassador who will drive job creation, promote solid planning locally and regionally, keep tax rates low, and ensure citizens are not only heard, but responded to. Citizens have a right to expect someone with the time and talent to provide real solutions so that we can all be sure that tomorrow is going to be better than today. There is important work to be done...

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First look: A (maybe) light-rail bridge over Boylan Avenue

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM

photo illustrations courtesy of TTA Triangle Transit planners launched a new round of "alternatives analysis" workshops last night at Triangle Town Center. Subject: Rail transit — now proposed to be a hybrid commuter-rail and light-rail system — for the region. Another workshop is slated this evening, 4-7 p.m., in Durham and a third is tomorrow, same time, in Chapel Hill. Two more Raleigh sessions are scheduled next week along with one in Cary and one in RTP. For locations and times, see the project website. I wrote an article for the printed Indy this week. I'll put a link in...

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Meeker won't run again — I think. If he doesn't, McFarlane will.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Mayor Charles MeekerDemocrats ask me. Republicans ask me. (That's right, I know some Republicans.) Is Mayor Meeker going to run again? They ask me this not because I know — I don't — but because Meeker isn't saying, and they want to check their own lack of knowledge about his plans against mine. So about every other day, I tell somebody, I don't think he's going to run; he sure doesn't look like he's going to run; he acts like he's not going to run; but then — two years, he all but told me he wasn't going to run...

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan disaster reminds us: Storing spent fuel rods in pools poses a major nuke-plant danger

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Picture courtesy of Progress Energy Following up on my story in the Indy this week about whether Duke Energy, soon (?) to be merged with Progress Energy, should be spending hundreds of millions of $$$ of customers' money on maybe building another nuclear plant (estimated pricetag, pre-Japan disaster, $11 billion) ... ... as The New York Times is reporting, the danger posed by the loss of cooling water in the pools containing spent fuel rods is almost as bad as from a reactor core meltdown. Indeed, a better term than "spent" for these retired fuel rods would be "partially used...

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wake schools retain accreditation for now, but the report is blistering

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Whew, the AdvancED team didn't think much of the "governance" provided — since Dec. 2009 — by the Wake school board majority. The full report is 15 pages and well worth reading. It is absolutely blistering, especially regarding Chairman Ron Margiotta and his sidekick John Tedesco, on the subject of how the board majority abused the student assignment process. It concludes: “Since December 1, 2009 the actions and decisions of the Wake County Board of Education have resulted in creating a climate of uncertainty, suspicion, and mistrust throughout the community. It is critical that the Board of Education and the...

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We got your transit stops right here — and your poll

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Light rail, Houston-style The poll was taken for the Regional Transportation Alliance — judge accordingly, but the questions seem reasonably straightforward. Traffic congestion is NOT the number one concern in the Triangle. That said, three out of four favor a rail-transit system for commuting and/or a combination of rail and better-bus transit. More than half are even prepared to pay for it via a 1/2-cent sales tax for transit. (That last figure dropped from almost 57 percent to barely 51 percent when the ante was upped to 3/4-cent for better transit AND schools.) ‘‘Nearly 60% of voters in the western...

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Check it out: Assembly-line education is so not working

Posted By on Sun, Mar 13, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Very cool use of animation tool, courtesy of RSA Animate: Visualize our 18th century model of public education and how it's worked, and not worked, over the ages. In just 11 minutes. (!) Here's your homework: Organize a NEW system of public education for our state, pre-K to ??? using the paradigm of divergent thinking and creativity explained (with the animation overlay) by Sir Ken Robinson....

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Pay now, get new nuke plants in distant future — maybe?

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Duke Energy and Progress Energy want to merge, and one reason is, neither can really afford to build a new nuclear plant(s) by itself. But if combining their financial power is the point of the merger, why is it that their current customers — not their shareholders, not their bankers — would be asked to finance, i.e., supply all the money in advance of construction and bear all the risk, said nuke plants? [The day after, the threat of a meltdown in Japan tells us part of the answer.] Peter Bradford, former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will...

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Billboards: The good ol' days

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Hmmm, billboards. Raleigh folks are passing around some reminder pix from pre-Raleigh sign ordinance days — this beauty was taken on Wake Forest Road. [And came my way from Will Allen, chair of my neighborhood Citizens Advisory Council.] If you like billboards, you're gonna love the billboard industry's SB-183....

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Go, go & maybe someday: Durham, Orange and Wake on 1/2-cent tax for transit

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Word on the prospects for a 1/2-cent sales tax for transit in the Triangle after the Regional Transportation Alliance breakfast meeting this morning: * Durham and Orange counties are looking seriously at asking voters this fall to approve a different sales tax increase — the 1/4-cent tax hike authorized by the legislature to support schools or other needs. * Durham and Orange may wind up asking voters to approve a package — the 1/4-cent tax for schools and the 1/2-cent tax for transit. This, according to Michael Page, chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners and Bernadette Pelissier,...

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Campaign cranks up to stop billboard blight, a.k.a. Senate Bill 183

Posted By on Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 11:57 AM

In LA, there's a Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight As one Democratic legislator said to me recently, another day, another outrage from the Republicans in control of the General Assembly. This time it's a bill — Senate Bill 183 — written for (and no doubt by) the billboard industry. The idea is to override local sign ordinances that, in Raleigh anyway (and Durham too), have stopped the proliferation of visual billboard blight. SB-183's chief sponsor is Sen. Harry Brown, a Jacksonville Republican who is the Senate Majority Leader. In other words, this is not some inconsequential bill. (Among the co-sponsors:...

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Perdue vetoes the Republican health-care nullification bill

Posted By on Sat, Mar 5, 2011 at 3:09 PM

This just in from the Governor's office: She's put the kibosh on the Republican bill attempting to nullify President Obama's health care reforms (the Affordable Care Act). [Update: Progressive coalition likes this. Statement is copied after the one from the Gov. Also, you can't veto a bill nowadays and not make a video record of it — also below.] From Perdue's press secretary — This afternoon, just before 2 p.m., Gov. Perdue vetoed House Bill 2, "Protect Health Care Freedom." In signing the veto, the governor made the following statement: "I'm vetoing HB 2 for three reasons: first of all,...

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Turning up the NC HEAT on Art Pope's stores

Posted By on Sat, Mar 5, 2011 at 2:37 PM

NC HEAT members picket the Maxway store Saturday "Pope is Poison," was the theme of the NC HEAT leaflets. "Our aim is to hit Pope where he can feel it — in his wallet." So today a small group of students — NC HEAT members — picketed the Maxway store on Poole Road in Southeast Raleigh, attempting to dissuade customers from buying there if they don't like what Art Pope's been doing with the profits. (Including helping to install Ron Margiotta as Wake school board chair.) In the first 45 minutes, organizer Elena Everett said, the protesters succeeded with eight...

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tata: "Am I gonna value diversity? Of course."

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Tony Tata at Martin Street Baptist ChurchWake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata is out talking up his commitment to diverse schools. And last night at Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh — where for almost two hours he was asked every possible variation of the question whether his new school assignment plan will foster diversity or kill it — Tata made his strongest statements yet that he will be a friend of diversity, not its foe. I captured a bit of the Q & A on my cellphone camera (see below). It's Tata talking about "living diversity," and specifically about being...

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Census: Raleigh pop. is 403,892, up 46% since 2000

Posted By on Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 4:38 PM

At 403,892, Raleigh is the state's second largest city, behind Charlotte (731,424), but it's also the fastest growing: Raleigh's population is up 46 percent since 2000, while Charlotte gained 35 percent ... according to official U.S. Census data released today. So it isn't just your imagination that Raleigh's roads — essentially unchanged in a decade — are twice as crowded as they used to be. Wake County, by the way, will soon overtake Mecklenburg as North Carolina's biggest. Wake's population was pegged at 900,993, slightly behind Meck's 919,628. But Wake grew 43 percent over the decade vs. Meck's 32...

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