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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The WWW comes to Raleigh. (No, the other one.)

Posted by on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 3:51 PM

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  • Photo: Mark Turner
Looking for "web-critical thought leadership"? Or "business-changing" ideas for your, uh, business? Then the 19th annual International World Wide Web Conference, or WWW2010, may be for you.

And for the first time ever, ever, it'll be held in the southeastern U.S., where WWW traditionally stood for wrestling until Raleigh, NC become the center of the creative universe. (Thanks, Sparkcon!)

That's right, the WWW2010 will be in Raleigh at the Convention Center starting Monday, April 26 through Friday, April 30.

With Google, Yahoo, Lulu and all your other favorite internet characters.

See more below or check the website.

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    No wrestling. Except about "web-critical thought leadership."

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Live, from New York, it's -- well, see for yourself ...

Posted by on Wed, Mar 3, 2010 at 2:18 PM

You can rely on the wisdom of Elizabeth Warren, I suppose, when it comes to the subject of banking reforms. Or you listen to Slick Willie, W. and ol' 41 himself:  "We gotta regulate that thing or we're gonna get more bubbles, then pop -- money goes to the weasels."

It's reform presented by all your favorite  current and ex- presidents from Saturday Night Live, with a cameo by the late, great Gipper himself.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lightner: It's a loser. Plan B?

Posted by on Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 4:16 PM

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That was one unhappy Mayor Charles Meeker today when he called for a vote on the proposed Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center ... knowing it would lose. And lose it did, 4-4, as Councilor John Odom joined the trio (Thomas Crowder, Bonner Gaylord, Russ Stephenson) who've questioned it for weeks. So the Lightner plan stalls. But Meeker refused to call it dead; it goes on the shelf, he said, until one of the opponents changes his mind or there's a new Council.

And just to be sure no one puts a stake in it, Meeker blocked any consideration of the trio's ideas for a Plan B, which could be better and/or cheaper than Lightner, who knows? But Meeker knows, and just to be sure he's not wrong, nobody's going to price any alternatives if he has anything to say about it.

The idea of a Plan B: Split the Lightner project into two parts:

Part 1, the Emergency Operations part, is the one that's needed immediately, requires expensive "armoring" to protect critical equipment and personnel against any and all threats, and should therefore be in a remote location, probably underground. It's also the much smaller part, at about 34,000 sf out of the 300,000-sf total included in the Lightner plan. It's needed immediately because the existing EO facilities are (I'm told, and no one on either side of this debate says anything else) ridiculously old and inadequate.

Part 2, the Administrative Part, is needed as well, everyone says, though not with the urgency of Part 1. It would house the police and fire departments' top brass. The police have already departed their old building on Nash Square in anticipation of Lightner replacing it. But in the interim, they've moved into two other buildings--one downtown, one on Six Forks Road--that are not bad given the fact that they've been extensively renovated for the purpose. It may be that Part 2, whittled down to say, 10 stories instead of Lightner's 17, should be built on the Nash Square site in the near future. It may be that a better site can be found, and the Nash Square land put to a different, more active use. Postponing it allows time to consider the alternatives.

I'm not saying Plan B is better than the Lightner plan. What I would say is that enough good questions were asked about the Lightner project that it made sense to pull back and answer them and weigh the alternatives. Meeker didn't want that when it was still possible that Lightner would be approved. OK. But now that's it been voted down, what's the harm in thinking about a different approach? It would seem, from what everyone's saying, that moving ahead on Part 1 is imperative.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

Council trio: Two pegs (one is round) a bad fit for tall, square Lightner building

Posted by on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 4:59 PM

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Updating the debate over the proposed Clarence E. Lighner Public Safety Center since our Indy story 12 days ago. That the proposal's rollout was bungled is now a given; but the question remains, who bungled it? Was it City Manager Russell Allen's fault? Or Mayor Charles Meeker's? Or both?

It was Allen's job to shepherd the Lightner plan through the bureaucracy. But it was Meeker, along with Allen, who decided the plan ready for the City Council's rubber stamp of approval when clearly it wasn't.

Since the rollout, a trio of City Council members has pushed back against the Meeker-Allen combo and their hurry-up-and-vote approach, raising a series of questions that go not just to the details of the building  (e.g., the fitness center, the circular stairway) but also to its basic premises -- i.e., its scale, function(s) and location.

Councilors Crowder, Gaylord and Stephenson are asking why this ought to be a single, 17-story tower when it appears that it contains two quite different functions, one of which (emergency operations and technology) requires a very expensive, "hardened" building while the other (police and fire deparment administration) doesn't.

Moreover, the police/fire administrative part of the building is envisioned as a public-friendly space, with easy access -- and a cafe -- for anyone who wants to enter. That's exactly the opposite of what's described for the other, emergency-center portion of the building, which is that it's supposed to be secure -- i.e., difficult to enter or attack.

So, the councilors observe, while the public-friendly space should certainly be located on an accessible downtown site, the secure-from-attack space should probably be somewhere else.

Good point.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hillsborough Street bike lanes are looking good. (!)

Posted by on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM

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The City Council's public works committee held its long-awaited meeting on the issue last night. The verdict, by unanimous decision: There should be bike lanes on all of Hillsborough Street from downtown to the Fairgrounds. No exception for the Hillsborough Street Project (Phase 1, remember) in front of N.C. State. For a city trying to move from car-dominated sprawldom to walkable-bikeable metro, it's a huge step forward -- assuming it holds. Hillsborough Street has great symbolic importance for Raleigh. It's also a place where bikes could one day be the dominant form of transportation if given a chance.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

There it is: Wake GOP wants public vote on 17-story Raleigh police tower

Posted by on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 3:51 PM

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What took them so long? But today, the Wake Republican Party chairman, Claude Pope, called on the Raleigh City Council to hold a referendum on the proposed $205 million, 17-story public safety center. (There's a nice gallery of the architect's renderings up on the N&O's website.) Bonner Gaylord and John Odom, the two new (or in Odom's case, renewed) Council members, have questioned the project since taking office in December. Odom's a Republican; Gaylord, officially unaffiliated, came in with a lot of Republican backing. There are a bunch of issues surrounding the plan -- the cost, the location, the wisdom of tearing down an existing building so it can be replaced with a giant tower on-site -- but whether the Council should decide them or let the public in iit hasn't been part of the equation until now.

No one, to my knowledge, is doubting the need to replace the old public safety center -- including Claude Pope. Still, it never hurts to check with the voters on big-ticket projects, if only just to show them you care. If borrowing $205 million is such a good idea -- as City Manager Russell Allen and Mayor Charles Meeker say it is now that interest rates are at historic lows -- surely the voters will see its wisdom too, no? Or maybe it isn't such a good idea, and not because a new center isn't needed, but rather that it's the wrong building or it's in the wrong place or it's just the wrong year to be reaching into the public pocket.

If the city planned to issue general obligation bonds to pay for the project, under the state constitution it would need the voters' OK. Instead, however, it plans to issue "certificates of participation," which are just like G.O. bonds except that they're not due to a legalistic fatuity dreamed up by the bond lawyers and their good friends in the various legislatures of America. The theory of a C.O.P. is that if Raleigh should fail some day to pay on the bonds, rather than go bankrupt, Raleigh would turn the building over to the bondholders -- the "participants," as it were. Yeah, right.

The real purpose of C.O.P's, back in the day, was to avoid the voters while drawing on their credit anyway, albeit at a slightly higher interest rate for them to repay. Yes, I know everybody does it; but you know what your mother said about that.

Assuming, as I believe is the case, that Gaylord and Odom support a referendum, and Meeker and fellow Democrats Mary-Ann Baldwin and James West don't, and are ready to approve the tower, that means two of the three other Council members would have to join the Gaylord-Odom bandwagon to force the question to the ballot.

(Or it may be that if four Council members insist on a public vote, the project will be postponed or relocated out of fear the voters would say no.)

Thoughts?

The GOP press release is below the fold.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

October 24: Raleigh Wide Open 4

Posted by on Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 1:13 PM

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Raleigh Wide Open 4 will be the first time all of Fayetteville Street really is wide open all the way from the Capitol to Memorial Auditorium.

For previous RWOs, only the four blocks closest to the Capitol were open. The rest were under construction some way of other. But with the underground parking for the Convention Center completed and City Plaza completed -- it's getting there; not to worry -- the construction fences can come down. A 10 a.m. parade will mark the event.

What does everybody think of the Jim Gallucci-designed light towers? I was downtown last night and saw them with the LED lighting switched on -- one tower's red, one blue, one green, one yellow. They do make an impression. (The renderings always showed them as pale yellow.)

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RWO 4 will be City Plaza's debut, with its four glass-box shops (donuts, a sub shop), lights, lighted water-fountain and so on -- I'm curious to see how it works. (And RWO, with its swarming masses, won't be the test of that question.)

And yes, there will be fireworks -- at 10:45 pm.

The schedule:

10:00 am - Parade down Fayetteville Street

11:00 am - Festival opens, food and art vendors, street performers

Fireworks Main Stage – City Plaza

7:30 – 8:30 – Tao Rodriguez-Seeger

9:00 – 10:30 – Delbert McClinton

Cherry Bounce Stage – Hargett Street

12:00 – 3:30 – TBA

4:00 – 4:45 – Schooner

5:15 – 6:00 – Peggy Sue

6:30 – 7:30 – TBA

8:00 – 9:00 – Man Man

Acoustic Stage – City Plaza

11:30 – 12:45 – Chuck Phillips Duo

1:15 – 2:30 – th’ Bullfrog

3:00 – 4:15 – Eric Scholtz

4:45 – 6:00 – Chuck Phillips Duo

Raleigh Rocks – Davie Street

12:00 – 1:00 – The Shucks

1:30 – 2:30 – The Design

3:00 – 4:00 – Adam Pitts

4:30 – 5:30 – River City Ransom

6:00 – 7:00 – Airiel Down

10:45 pm - Fireworks

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Obama rally brings change -- now it's at Progress Energy Center, Thursday 5-7 pm

Posted by on Wed, Sep 2, 2009 at 11:29 AM

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The big pro-Obama health care reform rally you're going to read about in the printed Indy today when it hits a coffee shop near you -- the Let's Get It Done: Raleigh National Bus Tour Stop (Health Insurance Reform Now) rally that was scheduled for Thursday night, 5-7 pm at the WakeMed North campus -- well, they've changed the venue. No, really. I just talked to Lindsay Siler, who is state coordinator for Obama's Organizing for America operation. (She's in Greensboro today, btw, delivering petitions to Sen. Hagan. She's got a lot on her plate.) The WakeMed site fell through at the last minute, she said. OFA will have people out there re-directing folks to the new site, which is:

The Progress Energy Center plaza (in front of Memorial Auditorium)

2 East South St. (south end of Fayetteville Street)

5-7 pm

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So now it's downtown, not in North Raleigh. And it's in front of a symphony hall, not a hospital. Congressman David Price is still on the bill, as is Rhonda Robinson, featured in our July 15 story "A Face of the Uninsured, A State of Denial."

The HCAN website, incidentally, lists the location as "steps of the State House," wherever that is. Pay no attention to that listing. HCAN -- Health Care for America NOW -- is the coalition of labor and activist groups pushing hard for reform with a "robust" public option. OFA, reflecting President Obama's diffident p.o. stance, is for a public option, but not that insistent, if you get my drift. But ... they're allies ... same rally ... somebody tell HCAN Central where the Progress Energy Center is.

Let's Get It Done: Raleigh National Bus Tour Stop (Health Insurance Reform Now)

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Pro-health care reform rally at the Capitol this Saturday, Aug. 29

Posted by on Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 12:20 PM

HCAN is holding rallies around the country, including in Raleigh.

Can HCAN's North Carolina organizers turn out the troops?

How many equals "big"? (Or, "huge"?)

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Time for some zip (cars) in Raleigh?

Posted by on Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 11:06 AM

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If they've got them at UNC and Duke, can N.C. State be far behind?

(OK -- stop it.)

Better question: Is the Triangle's big city big enough for car-sharing a la zipcars?

(Update: Per the comment below, there's more than one car-sharing vendor in the land, not just the zippy one.)

Topic's on tap June 18, 1 pm, at the Urban Design Center. (h/t: Urban Planet.)

Downtown Raleigh Alliance and Triangle Transit also involved: Details below.

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Comments

The mayor can and should point to Dix Park as a tangible accomplishment that will have lasting ramifications for Raleigh. …

by Protect Falls on McFarlane fundraiser kicks off 2015 Raleigh election year (Citizen)

As is Chavis Park, Doug. But both are relatively small compared to Umstead, NCMA and, when it happens, Dix Park.

by Bob Geary, INDY Opinion Columnist on Dix Park: The Deal is Done (Citizen)

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