All week, environmentalists have peppered us with their appeals: Tell Gov. Perdue to veto that awful Senate Bill 781 ("return of the Hardison Amendment") and that other awful Senate Bill 709 ("drill, baby — or frack").
Well, today, they're back with big props for the Governor, who did indeed send both of these bad boys to the showers.
Here's their statement:
Environmental Coalition Praises Governor Perdue For Vetoing GOP-Backed Bills That Would Have Hurt North Carolina's Environment and Economy
Coalition includes: Clean Water for North Carolina, Environment North Carolina, Environmental Defense Fund, North Carolina Coastal Federation, NC Conservation Network, NC League of Conservation Voters, NC Sierra Club, NC Wildlife Federation, Southern Environmental Law Center, Western North Carolina Alliance and others.
Governor Perdue’s historic vetoes of S 781 and S 709 are to be commended. The 2011 session of the N.C. General Assembly has carried out a relentless assault on the environment, and Governor Perdue understands that. The legislature has attacked environmental safeguards, land conservation, financial incentives for the wise management of our natural heritage, and even environmental education. We applaud the Governor for standing up to these assaults.
S 781, Regulatory Reform Act of 2011, would have handcuffed state agencies from creating environmental protections for North Carolina’s air and water. By vetoing S 781, the Governor recognizes that North Carolinians overwhelmingly support keeping or strengthening N.C.’s environmental safeguards.
S 709, Energy Jobs Act, would have put North Carolina’s thriving coastal tourism economy at risk, in search of elusive offshore drilling revenues. The bill would have also pushed North Carolina to begin hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas, a dangerous process which contaminates groundwater and has caused devastation in other eastern states.
Further, taking a more proactive approach on alternative energy, Governor Perdue hassigned two new Executive Orders. Executive Orders 96 and 97 will put the appropriate panels and task forces in place to thoroughly study the State’s onshore and offshore energy resources. These entities will not be limited to focusing on conventional sources of energy but will also explore offshore wind energy and other forms of renewable energy, that have environmental benefits, utilize the State’s own resources, and will also result in positive economic benefits to the State. By signing these Executive Orders, Governor Perdue has offered the possibility of a more hopeful and beautiful future to the state of North Carolina, instead of rushing headlong into destructive practices.
Also, a copy of the letter submitted to the Governor asking for the veto of anti-environmental bills, which contains a complete listing of all 33 groups, can be found at: http://www.wral.com/asset/news/state/nccapitol/2011/06/21/9758002/Env_veto.PDF
And you thought we'd have to wait another decade at least to get rail-transit service in Raleigh. Not at all. In fact, we already have rail-transit service — didn't you know? You can jump on a train to Durham three times a day, and three times a day you can jump on a train in Durham that'll take you back to Raleigh. With stops in between at the Cary train station.
It's called Amtrak, and it costs $6 or $7 one-way. Scheduled trip times run 35 minutes, plus or minus. (Not counting waiting times if your train is late arriving in Durham from Charlotte or in Raleigh from Washington, DC.)
Which is what the story ("Building Could Save Rail Hub") in the N&O this morning was all about. It's about a building for Amtrak and, prospectively, for some future Raleigh-to-Durham trains that would be similar in operation to Amtrak's trains.
Now, if that kind of service is NOT what you had in mind for rail-transit ... if you were thinking instead of a light-rail/streetcar system with lots of station stops in lots of places between downtown Raleigh, downtown Cary and downtown Durham, then yes, such a thing is still a decade off or two — or more. This building: Not relevant.
But commuter-rail, as opposed to light-rail, is here now, sort of. Three round-trips a day with a fourth planned. And that's just Amtrak.
An additional four Amtrak-style round trips between Raleigh and Durham are in our not-too-distant future if the DOT and the Triangle Transit Authority can get them organized using that 1/2-cent sales tax for transit we've dreamed of for so long — and maybe some federal $$$ as well.
If the 1/2-cent transit tax were in place, the money would flow to the Triangle Transit Authority, which might operate these additional trains itself or contract with someone else for their operation — perhaps the N.C. Roadroad Corp., a state-controlled entity which owns the tracks on which the Amtrak trains (and some freight trains) run.
That's all a pretty big "if" because, of course, the 1/2-cent tax must be approved by the voters in Wake County before any money can flow to the TTA for use in Raleigh, Cary or on the Wake County side of RTP. And the voters can't approve it unless the Wake County Commissioners agree to put the question to a ballot referendum. And the Republican-led commissioners board so far has shown zero interest in taking that step.
Durham County voters, on the other hand, will decide this fall on the question of a 1/2-cent sales tax for transit in Durham. Approval there could light a fire in Wake for improved service. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Even without the additional commuter-rail trains to Durham, Raleigh's passenger-rail station — the Amtrak station on West Cabarrus Street — is woefully inadequate. No amenities for the waiting passengers. Not nearly enough parking. Far too small for a city of 400,000. Amtrak, which leases the station from the N.C. Railroad Corp., desperately wants something better so it can serve more riders. DOT wants it too. Ditto Raleigh.
A year ago, the Raleigh planning department rolled out an ambitious scheme (I'm tempted to say pie-in-the-sky, but I believe the point was to get everybody dreaming a little) for a new "Union Station" big enough to serve ALL of our future rail needs in downtown Raleigh — Amtrak, commuter-rail, high-speed rail, light-rail, any kind of rail you want — at a cost of, oh, who knows? Guesses ranged upwards from $150 million.
Just as light-rail is a distant hope, however, so too is any such Union Station scheme. (So is high-speed rail, for that matter.)
Meanwhile, Amtrak needs a station now. And if we do get a 1/2-cent sales tax approved in Wake, the additional commuter-rail trains between Raleigh and Durham could be up and running in a few years, in which case they'd need a station too.
Enter, yesterday, NC DOT with a more realistic station plan that, at least at first blush, may be feasible in the foreseeable future and, in the long run, be not incompatible with a Union Station idea, though it doesn't square exactly with the Union Station scheme as unveiled in April, 2010.
DOT's idea is an adaptive reuse, at a guesstimated cost of $20 million, of one of the old Dillon Supply buildings in the warehouse district of Raleigh, one you may not have even realized was there. Most of us are familiar with the Dillon Buildings on West Street, which were purchased by the TTA six years ago in connection with its original light-rail plans. But there's another Dillon building not on West Street. It's actually located in the railroad wye, hidden behind a small non-Dillon building that TTA also purchased. Right next to it is a pretty good-sized parking lot, which sits behind the Flanders Art Gallery building.
The Dillon building in question is the one in the distance in the photo below, looking west on West Martin Street. It's a big old steel-and-brick building located behind the little building with the Capital City Sedan sign on it. In the DOT plan, the little building would be torn down, creating the chance for a nifty plaza in front of the big old building, which would become Raleigh's new Amtrak/commuter-rail station — with plenty of room for shoppes and such.
At this point, the DOT idea is just that — for the next couple of months, DOT is studying whether the Dillon building is structurally sound. If it is, a search for federal, state or other dollars would follow. Raleigh would be asked to pay 10 percent — about $2 million — which Will Allen, co-chair of the city's passenger rail advisory task force reckoned would be a pretty good bargain.
Until the new Contemporary Art Museum opened a few weeks ago, I'd never been in the Flanders gallery, let alone behind it. But my search for a parking space one night led me back to the parking lot and, for the first time, I paid attention to the building back there with it. This map from DOT shows its location. For contrast, the planning department's Union Station would've occupied two full blocks on the west side of West Street between West Morgan and West Martin:
[Pdf of the map — bigger, easier to see, is here: RaleighstationDOTplanmap.pdf
The way this would work, based on what the DOT Rail Division's Allan Paul said yesterday in a walk-through with members of the City Council's passenger rail advisory task force, is:
1) The existing Amtrak station would be converted to some other use by its owner, the N.C. Railroad Corp. (it used to be a restaurant).
2) A new Amtrak station would be set up in the designated Dillon Supply building, the one marked "Proposed Raleigh Train Station."
3) The station would also have room for TTA commuter-rail trains if and when they come along.
4) The Amtrak and TTA trains would each use the existing NCRR rail corridor. But an extra set of tracks, and platforms, would be built to bring them into and out of the rail station. Passengers would walk out the front door of the rail station to reach the platforms.
5) Inside the rail station would be a waiting area, shoppes, restaurants; it's a huge building.
6) In front of the rail station, a plaza could welcome visitors to a great view down West Martin Street, with the new CAM and Designbox on their right and Nash Square just two blocks ahead.
7) The same plaza could serve as the front door for a shopping area in the Dillon buildings going north, all of which are sitting empty and await adaptive re-use (or, ugh, teardown).
8) A future high-speed rail platform is pencilled in ("Proposed S-Line Platform"). It needs to be r-e-a-l long, so you see it extending north from West Hargett Street all the way into the Glenwood South district, going under both West Morgan Street and Hillsborough Street en route.
9) A future light-rail line may well come into downtown Raleigh on West Morgani Street, with a station stop somewhere between Boylan Avenue and West Street.
10) Planners and architects, get busy: We need a people-mover system of some kind to get folks from the rail station to the light-rail station to the high-speed station — and put a roof over it all, OK?
Now, bottom line on this idea. It doesn't advance light-rail much, if at all. What it does advance is the potential for commuter-rail that comes into Raleigh from Garner, Clayton, and Johnston County and then departs for Cary and Durham.
The whole idea of light-rail stations, remember, is to transform development patterns in Raleigh and the Triangle by fostering dense, mixed-used developments around each station ... thus curbing sprawl in areas not near a station.
This is almost the opposite — it's rail designed to serve the sprawl out to Johnston County in much the same way commuter rail into New York City supported the sprawling development of New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut in the 1950s, back when gasoline cost 30 cents a gallon.
Future commuter-rail connections could run north out of Raleigh to Wake Forest and Franklin County, other places where sprawl can find a home.
Politically speaking, it would be grand if we were ready to build light-rail and say no to commuter-rail — or, at least, no to only building commuter-rail.
I'm afraid, though, that where we actually are politically — at least in Wake County — is under a Republican regime that is fundamentally opposed to any sort of transit, but which may be willing to swallow commuter-rail transit because their developer friends (funders) want it.
Maybe Durham, with its 1/2-cent sales tax, will lead the way to light-rail in the Triangle with a system that goes west to Chapel Hill — leaving Raleigh with a goose egg ... and light-rail envy?
Raleigh is No. 1, Charlotte 22, Asheville 24 and Durham 31 on the 2011 Forbes list of best cities to do business. It just proves what the Republicans have been saying, that years of one-party government by the Democrats have led the state's economy to ... oh, never mind.
Raleigh returns to its accustomed No. 1 rank after a year in third place. We are the only East Coast city in the top 10. Our lofty status is due to the low cost of doing business here combined our highly educated labor force, according to Forbes. Which must be why the GOP-led General Assembly has chosen to reduce taxes and slash education spending.
What, the logic of that escapes you?
Its purpose: Interfere with a woman's constitutional rights. Gov. Perdue's response: She vetoed House Bill 854, the so-called "Women's Right to Know Act." It would've required women to delay having an abortion until they'd sat through a spiel about why they shouldn't, thought about it for 24 hours — and paid for an ultrasound.
From the Governor's office:
Gov. Perdue today vetoed H.B. 854 and issued the following statement:
“This bill is a dangerous intrusion into the confidential relationship that exists between women and their doctors. The bill contains provisions that are the most extreme in the nation in terms of interfering with that relationship. Physicians must be free to advise and treat their patients based on their medical knowledge and expertise and not have their advice overridden by elected officials seeking to impose their own ideological agenda on others.”
Reaction from Planned Parenthood of Central NC:
Planned Parenthood applauds Governor Perdue for vetoing HB 854, which would impose medically unnecessary delays and biased counseling on women seeking abortion care.
It’s clear that Governor Perdue, unlike North Carolina’s current House and Senate leadership, trusts women to make personal, private health decisions without government interference. She understands that women think very seriously about their options when faced with an unintended pregnancy. They consult their families and trusted medical professionals and make a decision based on their own personal circumstances, needs and beliefs.
Planned Parenthood urges legislators to sustain the Governor’s veto and stop the divisive attacks on access to healthcare that characterized this legislative session.
About that override: The bill passed both houses by wide margins; but in both the House and Senate, it was one vote short of the three-fifths majority leaded to override Perdue's veto. In other words, to override her, the Republicans need to find another vote in each of the two chambers.
Tata has so far guesstimated that "about 20 percent" of seats in the A-schools should be reserved for kids coming from to them as a result of the Achievement-related goal in the Blue plan. I'd question whether that's actually enough.
Yesterday, on WPTF-680, School Board Chair Ron Margiotta made it clear he isn't all that interested in the Blue plan's Achievement goal. To the contrary, he said, Blue's other goals of Proximity, Stability and Choice "have always been our goals," Margiotta said.
Margiotta's interview with Bill LuMaye is worth a 9-minute listen. (h/t to the N&O's Keung Hui for posting it first.) Margiotta comes right out and says the Blue plan must be changed ("tweaked") to make it "as close to a neighborhood schools plan as possible."
In the interview, Margiotta differed with Tata over how many seats to reserve in the designated high-achievement schools for kids coming for reasons of low-achievement.
Margiotta also questioned a basic tenet of Tata's Blue plan to move kids from areas of concentrated low-achievement — most of which are closely packed into Southeast Raleigh — to a variety of Achievement schools, some of which are in Cary and western Wake County.
Tata and his staff have made it crystal-clear: You can't just offer such students a "choice" of a few nearby "A-schools" and pretend that they're being offered a meaningful set of options. The reason: We're talking about at least 11,000 students coming from magnet-school base areas — which means they won't all fit in a handful of close-by A schools.
Ergo, offering thousands of students the chance to "choose" from the same hundreds of seats would amount to a "false choice" for most of them.
False choice or not, Margiotta said busing kids longer distances to a variety of A schools would amount to "going back to the old ways," a notion he flatly rejected. And "reserving a high percentage of seats" for incoming kids won't do either, Margiotta said, because it would mean "denying these seats to people who live in the immediate neighborhood."
Margiotta said the Blue plan must be changed and the school board majority will change it. "We'll get there," he said, but it may not be until October — that is, until after the next round of school board elections. Before then, it's doubtful Margiotta will want to be seen as undermining Tata, the superintendent his side brought to town.
But do listen to what he says: Crippling Tata's Blue plan is exactly what Margiotta intends to do.
Thus far, Margiotta's allies have been far more circumspect about Tata's plan, though — as I said in the Indy — John Tedesco did question Tata at one point about travel distances; and Debra Goldman did ask whether there could be some sort of carve-out by which Cary kids could be assured of attending Cary schools (unless they opt to go somewhere else).
Protecting municipal boundaries, Goldman called it.
It put me in mind of nothing so much as Syracuse University expert Gerald Grant's book, "Hope and despair in the American city: Why there are no bad schools in Raleigh." Most American cities are divided from their suburbs by hard boundaries that prevent school integration. Hence, the urban schools are awful — as in Syracuse, NY. There are no bad schools in Raleigh because there are no hard municipal boundaries splitting the Wake County school system.
Not yet, anyway.
And not under Tata's Blue plan.
Tata's Blue plan tries to find a middle ground between the "neighborhood schools" side of which Margiotta is the ringleader and the pro-diversity side which kept the Wake school system healthy for 30 years prior to the '09 elections.
Margiotta yesterday rejected the idea of finding a middle ground.
That middle ground requires that the Margiotta goals, which would give you pure neighborhood schools, be balanced with an "X" factor that prevents the schools in low-income neighborhoods from becoming second-class schools in a "rich kids, poor kids" system.
For 30 years, the "X" factor was a combination of magnet schools in the low-income neighborhoods AND the relocation of about half the kids from those neighborhoods to other schools in more prosperous parts of Raleigh and suburban Wake County. (The latter, of course, was needed to make room in the magnet schools for kids coming to them — by choice — from outside the base neighborhoods.)
At first, these relocations were done on the basis of race — in order to correct for a long history of racially segregated schools under Jim Crow.
Later, they were done based on socioeconomic data, i.e., the level of poverty in a given neighborhood.
But after the '09 elections, Margiotta's majority-bloc of 5 Republicans abolished the socioeconomics factor.
So now, in an effort to follow the Republicans' lead while not creating high-poverty schools, Tata has proposed to make low student achievement the new "X" factor.
Margiotta's take yesterday, though, was that the "X" factor is okay only if it's given little weight in a plan that emphasizes Proximity and Stability.
In other words, she said, weight the factors so they produce "as close to a neighborhood-schools plan as possible."
House Bill 351: Possibly the worst bill sent to her by the Republicans in the General Assembly, and this afternoon Gov. Perdue sent it right back to them. It didn't pass by a veto-proof majority in the House, incidentally — the 51 "no" votes give Perdue a couple to spare.
“The right to choose our leaders is among the most precious freedoms we have — both as Americans and North Carolinians. North Carolinians who are eligible to vote have a constitutionally guaranteed right to cast their ballots, and no one should put up obstacles to citizens exercising that right.
“We must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections. But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it. This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters. The legislature should pass a less extreme bill that allows for other forms of identification, such as those permitted under federal law.
“There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it.
“Therefore, I veto this bill.”
The N.C. Center for Voter Education was among the good-government groups which thought this bill was all about obstructing legitimate voters, not — as the Republicans insisted — anything to do with protecting the integrity of ballots. All over the country, Republicans have a long history of trying to suppress low-income and minority voters. That didn't help them when they tried to argue that this wasn't just the latest in their hits parade.
Redmond's claim to the job: She'll be the best salesperson the city could have. Off a very successful career in real estate, she does know how to make a sales pitch. Her announcement this morning drew a big crowd — maybe 200? — to the Occidental Building on Wade Avenue, which she bought and renovated as part of the deal for the property where the ill-fated Coker Towers project would've been. Redmond's a Republican, and she was surrounded by same: City Councilor John Odom, County Commissioner Joe Bryan, Wake school board candidate Heather Losurdo and Wake GOP Chair Susan Bryant were among the notables, along with the Chamber of Commerce crowd of bankers and builders.
Redmond's entry into the race makes two announced candidates, both women, both energetic business owners and neither a Democrat. Redmond's bio we went over in a previous blog post. Her campaign website is a work in progress. City Councilor Nancy McFarlane, who is registered as an independent, is a pharmacist and the owner, with her husband, of MedPro Rx, Inc., a "specialty infusion pharmacy that provides medications and services to clients with chronic illnesses." According to her campaign bio, MedPro Rx did $54 million in revenue in 2010.
Seth Keel, a 16-year high school student, is also running but isn't old enough to hold the office and won't be listed on the ballot. Rumors of other Democrats getting in are just that right now. I still don't know of any.
Raleigh's had one previous woman mayor, the late Isabella Cannon. She was a feisty neighborhoods advocate, the always interesting "little old lady in tennis shoes." Redmond, who is diminutive for sure ("about 4' 11," she said after cracking a couple of jokes about her "short speeches") is roughly Cannon's height. Not at all the same politically, however, nor is McFarlane — both would rather be known as moderate, whereas the very progressive Mayor Cannon was never moderate about anything.
Redmond said the election will be about jobs and leadership. If I remember correctly, McFarlane said the same thing. Both promise to offer a vision for Raleigh's future growth. No doubt, a vision is what's needed. Transit? Housing? Community development? Raleigh has succeeded, over the past decade, in executing some visionary plans made in the '80s. (In the '90s, courtesy of Republicans Tom Fetzer and Paul Coble, neither of whom attended Redmond's announcement, by the way, no plans were made.) Time for some new plans. The upcoming campaign offers a good chance to get started on some.
[Update: Now that I'm home and drinking a beer, one final, summary post. For more than two hours, the school board majority held out for John Tedesco to be elected vice chair and Ron Margiotta's heir apparent as chair. The majority, that is, minus Debra Goldman. Through 55 ballots, Republican Goldman refused to vote with her Republican allies — Chris Malone, Deborah Prickett and Margiotta — for fellow Republican Tedesco. But Goldman also refused to reach across the aisle and cast her vote for Keith Sutton. At the end, as much as Goldman didn't want to help with Tedesco's elevation, she proved even less willing to break with her Republican mates. After 56 ballots, the leadership of the school board is in Margiotta's and Tedesco's hands.]
This was post No. 4 —
I'll begin again, for the 4th time, when our school board returns. However, as near as I can determine, the code of conduct for live-bloggers does not require me to remain past the three-hour mark when there is so little at stake. Not to say being vice chair of the school board is so little. No, it's less than little.
There's been some byplay during the recess that maybe the vice chair becomes acting chair when Margiotta's term as chairman ends, as it will, in December. But no. According to Ann Majestic, the board attorney, the vice chair does not move up in that circumstance. Margiotta's term will end, and it would require six votes (a two-thirds vote) to waive policy and keep him in office. But if that doesn't happen, the post of chair would be vacant and a new election would be held to fill it.
Now, they're back from their recess. Their second recess.
51st ballot: Sorry, we all yakked and missed the announcement.
52nd ballot: Sutton 4, Tedesco 3, Goldman 1. Didn't miss anything, obviously.
Goldman's not smiling any more.
53rd ballot: Same as 52.
It's after 8 p.m. I give this 30 more minutes.
54th: Same as 53.
Crowd now beginning to notice how many school officials, guards — 25, at least — who are cooling their heels, not counting those guarding the doors and the parking lot. How much are they costing the taxpayers?
55th ballot: Same as 54. McLaurin asks whether there could be joint vice chairs. Majestic says no.
Long pause. Now Goldman says she's changing her vote because '56 is the year her parents were married. The vote on the 56th ballot is 4 Sutton, 4 Tedesco. Margiotta breaks the tie, and by a 5-4 vote, Tedesco becomes vice chair.
Goldman and Tedesco hug and the N&O's photographer is all over it with his motordrive. Film at 11. Wait. More hugs.
And begin their 6 p.m. meeting.
And this was post No. 3 —
OK, I'm starting over — at 7:02. It's been one hour and 30 minutes since we began and the school board cannot choose a vice chair ... that's right, a vice chair ... because John Tedesco wants it and Debra Goldman wants it and neither will budge, nor will they get behind someone else.
So, 34th ballot is 4 for Keith Sutton, 3 for John Tedesco, 1 for Debra Goldman. Same as the last five ballots.
Ron Margiotta was re-elected chair on a 5-4 vote. He cast the tie-breaking vote in his own favor, which he was able to do because there was a tie vote at 4-4.
But for an hour-plus, there's been a 4-3-1 deadlock, with 4 for Keith Sutton (from the Minority Four), and a shifting vote otherwise ... but never rising to 4 on the other side for either Goldman or Tedesco. It's clear, JT ain't voting for DG, and DG ain't voting for JT.
35th ballot: Same as 34. 36th ballot: Same as 35. 4 for Sutton, 3 Tedesco, 1 for Goldman.
37th ballot: Same as 36, and 35, and for that matter, all the way back to the 27th ballot.
Quiet as a funeral in here, except that Tedesco and Goldman are yukking at each other.
38th ballot: Same 4-3-1.
(I'm checking now on my responsibilities as a live-blogger. As this position has no importance whatsoever, do I have to stay here just because I started this? The bloggers association will have to rule.)
39th: 4-3, with the 1 now for Prickett. Start of a move? Goldman signals that she's willing to vote for someone besides herself.. As long as it isn't Tedesco.
40th: 4-3-1, the one shifts back to Goldman.
A dozen school officials, including Tony Tata, are here and having their time wasted by this exercise. There is, after all, an actual school board meeting to conduct once the vice chair vote is settled. But if I understand correctly, the business of the reorganization meeting must be concluded before the regular board meeting can begin.
41st ballot: 4 Sutton, 3 Tedesco, 1 for Malone.
42nd: 4 Sutton, 2 Tedesco, 1 Malone, 1 Goldman.
43rd: Same as 40 ... 44th: Same ... 45th: Same ...
Talk about a dysfunctional board. Not only is there no movement, there's no discussion ... nobody even offers a thought about how to break this deadlock.
46th ballot: Same as 45. It's going on 7:30 — two hours at this. :(
47th: Same as 46. 48th: 4 Sutton, 3 Tedesco, 1 Malone.
Not to mention the 8 journalists whose time is being wasted. Oh, the humanity.
49th: 4-3-1, back to Goldman.
50th: 4 Sutton, 3 Tedesco, 1 Prickett.
Margiotta calls another "brief recess." The audience is restive — this was funny, but now, not so much.
Earlier, post No. 2 —
(For those not scoring at home, it's been an hour-plus and we are still deadlocked on the crucial issue of, uh, vice chair. I am live-blogging, which seemed like a good idea when I started — at 5:30. Tedesco won't vote for Goldman, and the feeling is mutual. But why don't they both get over it and get behind Prickett or Malone — which would let Margiotta break a 4-4 tie between one of those two and Keith Sutton, who gets 4 votes every time. Unbelievable.)
And this is how it began, post No. 1 — :
Anne McLaurin nominates Kevin Hill for chairman. Deborah Prickett nominates Ron Margiotta. Drum roll, please. It's a paper ballot — secret? They give their ballots to Ann Majestic, the board attorney. 5-4, Margiotta wins.
"Absolute power is short," he laughs.
Vice chair? Morrison nominates Keith Sutton. Kevin Hill nominates Debra Goldman. Prickett nominates John Tedesco.
Whoa. Is the majority reading Debra Goldman out of the leadership? (With Hill rising to her defense?)
The vote is 4-3-1, Sutton, Tedesco, Goldman. Without a tie, Margiotta doesn't get a vote.
So another ballot is needed. Now it's 3-3-2, Sutton, Tedesco and Goldman.
Majestic says she was asked a lot of questions before the voting. "Many," Margiotta says.
One was, can you add to the nominations? No, she says, but you can write in anyone who's eligible.
Third ballot: 4 for Sutton, 2 for Tedesco, 1 for Goldman, 1 for Malone.
Fourth: Still deadlocked. Fifth: Ditto.
Still 1 for Malone, 1 for Goldman, 2 for Tedesco, 4 for Sutton, says Majestic.
(OK, this is fun, but I can't tweet and blog at the same time while also chewing gum. Especially with Majestic misstating the vote and correcting herself every other time.)
Sixth ballot: Same result, she says. (Good. Saves time in the reading.)
There's a pause. Since Hill nominated Goldman, is he still voting for her? Apparently not, as Sutton is up to 4 votes. Meanwhile, the Majority Five are split among Tedesco (2), Goldman (1) and Malone (1). Remember, Margiotta still can't vote.
Seventh ballot: The same.
Margiotta: Anyone have a suggestion?
I have a suggestion: The minority 4 could make a deal. But maybe they tried that already — anyway, who could they back?
Eighth ballot: 4 for Sutton, 1 each for Goldman, Tedesco, Malone and Prickett.
"We can go all night long," Margiotta says.
Ninth ballot: Same result.
Tenth ballot: 4 for Sutton, 2 for Tedsco, Goldman and Malone 1 each.
Margiotta: Does everyone realize this job ends in December?
Majestic: No. Your term ends in December, she tells Margiotta, unless it's extended by [correcting this from earlier] a policy change, which would require a two-thirds vote. But the vice chair serves for two years. (Margiotta ousted Hill in mid-term after the 2009 elections, so he's on a different timetable.)
11th ballot: 4 for Sutton, 1 for Malone, 1 for Goldman, 1 for Carolyn Morrison, 1 for Tedesco.
McLaurin laughs, I'm the only one who hasn't gotten a vote.
12th ballot: 4 for Sutton, 1 each for the same four others.
Crowd behind me (it's actually Yevonne Brannon) is calling for Tedesco to back Sutton and get it over with.
13th: 4 for Sutton, four others are split — but one of them is for McLaurin, who gasps with delight!
14th: 4 for Sutton, 1, 1, 1, 1. Does it really matter who gets 1?
15th: (Now Goldman is whispering in Margiotta's ear.) 4 for Sutton, 3 for Tedesco, 1 for Goldman. Back to where we started.
16th: (Will Goldman now vote for Tedesco? She's whispering to Margiotta again. The Minority 4 is holding firm.) 4 for Sutton, 2 for Tedesco, 1 for Goldman, 1 for Malone.
Margiotta calls for a brief recess.
And they're back after 15 minutes.
17th ballot: 4 for Sutton, 2 for Tedesco, 1 for Malone, 1 for Goldman.
Well, that didn't help.
18th: 4 for Sutton, 2 for Tedesco, 1 Morrison, 1 for ??? (gotta pay attention)
19th: Majestic confused, announces 4 for Sutton is a majority. Nope, 4 for Sutton, 2 for Tedesco, 1 Malone, 1 Goldman. Still stuck.
20th: 4 for Sutton, 3 for Tedesco, 1 for Goldman.
Assuming that's Goldman voting for herself and not her old friend JT, if she switched to Tedesco, it would be 4-4 and Margiotta could break the tie.
21st: 4 Sutton, 3 Tedesco, 1 Morrison. (Morrison is not running for re-election and will be replaced in December. Ditto McLaurin.)
22nd: 4 for Sutton, 2 Tedesco, 1 for ?? 1 for Goldman.
(There's no discussion. Just go from one ballot to the next.
23rd: 4 Sutton, 3 Tedesco, 1 Morrison.
(Now Tedesco and Goldman are exchanging hand gestures; can't hear what they're saying.)
24th: 4 for Sutton, 3 Tedesco, 1 Sutton.
(Can we order pizza? a voice asks. I laugh out loud, which is not what you want to do in this ghost-quiet room. Sorry.)
25th: Same as 24.
26th: 4-3-1, the one is for Morrison.
Has it occurred to anyone that this could go on until someone dies —
27th: 4-3-1, the one switches back to Goldman.
As long as JT won't vote for Goldman, and Goldman won't vote for JT, the only out is a bye from the Majority Five, which would make Sutton a 4-3 winner ... or someone from the Majority Five switches to Sutton and he wins 5-3.
28th: Same as 27.
And we keep voting.
29th: Same as 28.
I'm going to shift and simply list the ballots unless something changes:
30th ballot ... 31st ... 32nd ... 33rd ...
A quick update on this story from last week: The City Council voted 7-1 today to let the Southwest Raleigh economic development study go forward at a cost of $150,000 (plus $40,000 from N.C. State University).
The lone no vote today, as she was at the Budget and Economic Development Committee a week ago, was at-large Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin.
This is the study that many Southwest Raleigh-ites hope will result in the branding of their part of the city as the Creative District — together with some creative approaches to transit, housing and other programs to spur economic growth.
Councilor Thomas Crowder, whose District D spans SW Raleigh, has been pushing for the study for more than a year.
This sounds like fun: Show up at Crabtree Valley Mall Saturday morning and, at 11:38, proceed to kiss. Best to bring a partner. (I don't know that eligible kiss-ee's will be hanging around. Maybe.) Your partner's gender is, of course, up to you. Why wouldn't it be?
Has it really been eight months since we last visited the non-issue issue of gay couples smootching at a mall? Last October, it was at Cameron Village and we were pleased to learn that CV is cool with it. This time, the kiss-in is at Crabtree Valley Mall, it's planned in advance, it's a definite publicity stunt, but then, try to draw that line ... publicity stunts are in the eye of the beholder ... anyway, y'all are invited to kiss up in front of the LUSH cosmetics store at 11:38 a.m.
Why 11:38? LUSH is glad you asked. It's because, according to their count, 1,138 civil rights that attach to marriage in this country are denied to gay folks via the so-called Defense of Marriage (DOMA) acts (federal and state).
Thus, LUSH is ramping up a a Freedom to Marry campaign to combat the forces of DOMA, and not a bit too soon. The DOMA forces in North Carolina, not content with a discriminatory law (and no doubt worried that a state court will someday rule that a discriminatory law is, well, discriminatory), are fixing to write DOMA into the state constitution by referendum in November, 2012. That is, if the voters go along with it.
But if enough people start kissing and telling ...
As at CV, I'd say decorum should prevail tomorrow. So, in other words, none of this:
Although ... never mind.
Per LUSH, you're supposed to do this:
NATIONWIDE KISS AND TELL TO WIN MARRIAGE
FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES
Saturday, June 18th
WHO: LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics
WHAT: Gay and straight couples in Raleigh will pucker up for a purpose
on June 18th as part of a nationwide ŒKiss and Tell¹ protest at LUSH
Cosmetics. LUSH is inviting the public and their pouts down to their
stores to kiss in support of marriage for same-sex couples and sign
postcards telling the federal government to end the ongoing
discrimination against tens of thousands of couples and families across
The nationwide ŒKiss and Tell¹ will be taking place at LUSH stores at
exactly 11:38 a.m. to signify the number of protections, responsibilities
and rights that are currently denied to same-sex couples and their
families under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
WHERE: Outside LUSH Cosmetics, Crabtree Valley Mall
WHEN: Saturday, June 18th 11:38 a.m. sharp
WHY: Exclusion from the freedom to marry unfairly punishes committed
same-sex couples and their families by depriving them of critical
support, security, and obligations in virtually every area of life,
including death and taxes. Under DOMA, same-sex couples are excluded from
1,138 rights tied to marriage because the federal government does not
recognize their marriages. The denial of marriage is one of the harshest
inequalities inflicted on lesbian and gay Americans and their families,
and it¹s a discrimination enacted by our own government.