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Sunday, May 30, 2010

BP prohibited workers from speaking with media

Posted By on Sun, May 30, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Several journalists from UNC-Chapel Hill have obtained BP's agreement with at least one of its contractors that show workers were forbidden to speak with the media until the company reversed its policy last week. BP required workers employed in the Vessels of Opportunity program to sign a contract that included a clause prohibiting them and their deckhands from making "news releases, marketing presentation, or any other public statements" while working on the cleanup . Fishermen who violated the contract could have lost their jobs. The UNC journalists are part of a team working on Powering a Nation, that investigates...

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Lottery funds ray of hope for Durham schools?

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 6:12 PM

N.C. General AssemblyMichaux As community activists, parents, teachers and local elected leaders met to talk budget cuts Friday afternoon, N.C. Rep. H.M. "Mickey" Michaux (D-Durham) offered a bit of hopeful news—that in its proposed budget, the N.C. House would allow for $126 million in lottery funds to go to save teacher jobs across the state. That could help restore 237 teacher jobs in Durham currently threatened by funding cuts. The House still has to vote on the budget, and will do that next week, said Michaux, one of several state legislators, Durham county commissioners and school board members who attended...

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Franklin Street has a bigger cigarette butt problem; we cannot lie

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 12:51 PM

While health department officials are quick to celebrate the obvious benefits of an indoor-smoking ban, smokers have been pushed outside, their butts now flapping in the wind. Photo courtesy of TRUStudents display their bags of butts.Chapel Hill High School student volunteers of Orange County Tobacco.Reality.Unflitered bagged and tagged 5,866 discarded filters on the town’s man thoroughfare on May 6 and May 13. Members of the Downtown Partnership used to same method to collect 5,784 butts in 2008, but they saw that number drop to just 3.538 four months later after ashtray receptacles were provided to smoke-heavy locations. Students found only...

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Caswell County enters broadband brouhaha with its own Internet bill

Posted By on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 7:36 PM

Bill Faison Caswell County Commissioners have taken a stand against Sen. David Hoyle's anti-municipality broadband bill (S 1209), by proposing H 2067. Introduced by Bill Faison, a Democrat representing Orange and Caswell counties, the bill allows Caswell County to enter the Internet marketplace and potentially build its own network. State Rep. Faison says Caswell County Commissioners decided they needed to expand on North Carolina law, which allows municipalities to build their own broadband systems. In 2005, an state appeals court ruled that towns and cities had the right to offer high-speed Internet to their residents. In making his case for...

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Municipal broadband bill takes a time out

Posted By on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 4:23 PM

D.L. Anderson Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, is working on a compromise between local governments and cable companies over the highly controversial broadband bill, S1209, that would sharply limit local governments that want to build their own broadband or fiber-optic network or need to expand or repair a current network. The bill was pulled from the Senate Finance Committee meeting Wednesday; it is scheduled to be heard Tuesday, June 1 at 1 p.m. Introduced by state Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, at the Revenue Laws Study Committee meeting on May 5, the bill quickly sparked concern over its requirement...

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chancellor's Ridge resident takes issue with neighborhood board's support of protest petition

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Proposed location of 751 South development Chancellor's Ridge resident Rob Lentchitsky, who lives on Education Avenue, sent an e-mail this afternoon to the Board of Directors in the Chancellor's Ridge neighborhood, Planning Director Steve Medlin and the Durham Board of County Commissioners stating he takes issue with the board's signing a petition protesting the proposed 751 South development, thereby representing the whole neighborhood. He asks that the board remove its signature from the petition. From Lentchitsky's statement, "I recently learned that the protest petition filed against 751 South included the signature of the Board on behalf of the common areas...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

UNC pays $16,000 fine; answers questions from feds

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 6:30 PM

UNC has paid a $16,000 fine levied by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources related to the Bingham Facility’s illegal discharge of treated wastewater into Collins Creek last fall. Read the letter from UNC to DENR: UNC_response_to_DENR_penalty.pdf. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health, which awarded UNC a $14.5 million construction grant for an expansion of the Bingham Facility, has peppered the university with questions about a series of problems with the wastewater treatment system at the site. In a letter to UNC, NIH Grants Management Specialist Christy Leake noted that the site “has had a few wastewater...

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What's next? Schools to lobby legislators and eye more cuts to keep teachers

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Jeremy M. LangeSchool board member Steve Martin talks to the Board of County Commissioners during a budget work session Tuesday, May 25. County Manager Mike Ruffin may have set some minds at ease last night when he proposed a budget that would restore 111 teaching jobs Durham Public Schools feared it would have to cut to balance its budget for the coming year. But there are 126 remaining teachers who have been notified they'll be losing their jobs, and the school system still needs $6.9 million to keep them, school board members said in a meeting Tuesday morning, where they...

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After memo from developer's attorney and withdraw of appeal, 751 Assemblage public hearing scheduled for June 23

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Durham's county commissioners finalized the date today: they'll hold a public hearing on the controversial 751 Assemblage rezoning case at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23. The 167 acres to be rezoned is in the watershed of Jordan Lake and at the center of a long-brewing controversy about whether to build a dense community of homes, offices and shopping areas there. Much to the suspicions of critics, the commissioners have scheduled and rescheduled the public hearing twice in the past two weeks. Attempting to settle the matter last night, commissioners couldn't choose a date due to scheduling conflicts. Other obstacles...

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Durham manager's budget proposal: give schools $6m, restore 111 teachers, raise tax rate 4.29 cents

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 7:27 PM

Photo from county presentationProtesters outside the Durham County administrative building. NOTE: This post will be updated throughout Monday evening as the county manager presents his budget.Durham County Manager Mike Ruffin released his proposed budget to the Board of County Commissioners late Monday. In it, he proposed a tax rate increase of 4.29 cents, which would help the Durham Public Schools restore 111 teaching jobs—about 47 percent of the teachers they notified last week they would no longer have jobs. In their request to the county, members of the Durham school board had asked the county for $13 million more than...

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Residents file protest petition in 751 South case in preparation for June 1 public hearing

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Map of location for proposed development, 751 South UPDATE, 10 p.m., May 24: Commissioners decided at a meeting Monday night they no longer needed to hold a closed session on the Board of Adjustment appeal, since Rooney withdrew it. Attorneys representing the developer had sent a memo to the Board of Commissioners requesting the public hearing be held on the latest possible date, June 24. Commissioners couldn't hold the hearing the night of June 24, and initially appeared to settle on June 23 with much protest from Commissioner Becky Heron. However, the board didn't take a final vote and said...

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Sen. Hoyle's municipal broadband bill goes to Senate Finance Committee

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 2:37 PM

The Senate Finance Committee will hear state Sen. David Hoyle's anti-municipal broadband bill S1209 Wednesday at 1 p.m. in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building. If you can't make it to the legislature, you can listen to the proceedings online. Triangle legislators on the committee include: Sens. Bob Atwater, Ellie Kinnaird, Floyd McKissick, Dan Blue, Josh Stein, Neal Hunt and Richard Stevens. Read the Indy's coverage of the issue and the bill which would effectively kill local governments' ability to build their own broadband networks....

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Public hearing for 751 rezoning still at issue; commissioners to hold closed session on matter tonight

Posted By on Mon, May 24, 2010 at 12:59 PM

Map of location for proposed development, 751 South Last week, it appeared that a public hearing for June 1 on the controversial 751 South development would be postponed until the Board of Adjustment heard an appeal in the matter. (This came from Planning Director Steve Medlin.) This might not be the case. Durham's Board of County Commissioners will discuss the issue in a closed session tonight, and could decide to hold the public hearing on June 1, despite an appeal on the matter, said Durham County Commissioner Michael Page, chairman of the board. "The board scheduled this public hearing, so...

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Neville backs Beyer in Durham school board runoff

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 1:19 PM

Shea Neville, the third-place finisher in the recent election for school board district 4B, announced Thursday he's supporting candidate Natalie Beyer when the county holds a runoff for the seat on June 22. Beyer is facing two-term incumbent school board member Steve Martin. Beyer requested the runoff on May 5, the day after the school board elections, in which Martin earned just under 37 percent of the votes and Beyer finished with 34 percent. In order to win the seat, one candidate must have earned "substantial plurality," or 40 percent of the vote, so Beyer had the option to request...

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Public hearing for 751 rezoning postponed to fall (at the earliest)

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Map of location for proposed development, 751 South UPDATE: This post was updated at 3:30 p.m. with a quote from Melissa Rooney.Melissa Rooney, a South Durham resident and opponent of the proposed 751 South development near Jordan Lake, filed an appeal (PDF) to the Board of Adjustment Wednesday morning. The appeal means an upcoming public hearing on the controversial 751 South development is now postponed until the Board of Adjustment meets and rules on the matter, which will be in July, or even later, according to Durham Planning Director Steve Medlin. "Until the [Board of Adjustment] renders a final decision...

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Icarus employees receive overdue paychecks

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 12:13 PM

Icarus Studios, which laid off three-quarters of its workforce April 30, has paid the back wages of its employees. As the Indy reported two weeks ago, at the time of the layoff employees received only one-third of one paycheck and were still owed another week's pay.Several employees have contacted the Indy to say they have been paid in full.The Cary-based gaming company laid off 75 people as part of a restructuring after a large investor pulled its funding. Icarus produces the online game Fallen Earth and game engines....

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UNC gets hit with $16,000 fine

Posted By on Thu, May 20, 2010 at 11:14 AM

UNC's Bingham Facility has been fined $16,612.48 by the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources related to last fall's illegal discharge of 630 gallons of treated wastewater from a storage pond into Collins Creek. The discharge continued for more than a month until UNC conducted a dye trace and discovered the source and path of the leak. DENR issued a notice of violation in December for the discharge. According to the penalty letter, the lagoon liner had more than 100 places that needed to be patched because there were deep cuts, perforations or seam damage. penaltyletter.pdf Jay Zimmerman,...

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Good news for Bruce Thomas

Posted By on Tue, May 18, 2010 at 2:48 PM

D.L. Anderson Endings like this remind us of why we do what we do: As a result of the Indy article published March 3, Bruce and his family are reuniting after losing touch many years ago. One of his siblings discovered the story and passed it along to other family members who have contacted Bruce. In an email to the Indy, one of his brothers wrote: "We can not thank you enough for what you have given us with your article. Our search is over and a new chapter in our lives has begun."...

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Bonfield pitches 1.19-cent property tax increase, 15 layoffs and no raises for city employees

Posted By on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Tom Bonfield In tonight's meeting of the Durham City Council, City Manager Tom Bonfield pitched a 1.19-cent property tax increase to balance this year's budget. Under Bonfield's proposal, the budget would increase by $7.7 million (about two percent) to $353.4 million. If the City Council adopts this budget later this summer, the increase would mean an additional $23.80 in the annual property tax bill for a $200,000 home for city-assessed taxes. (County taxes are assessed separately. County Manager Mike Ruffin will present his budget in one week on May 24). Under Bonfield's plan, city employees, including firefighters and police officers,...

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Site offers free stickers protesting Arizona's controversial immigration law

Posted By on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Presente.org is giving away free stickers Presente.org, in partnership with MoveOn.org, is giving away stickers protesting Arizona's recent immigration law (SB1070) that many see as an attempt to legalize racial profiling in efforts to identify, prosecute and deport residents who are in the U.S. illegally. By signing up for Presente.org and MoveOn.org political action committee mailing lists, visitors will get a free 3.5-inch by 7.5-inch sticker (pictured above) with free shipping. Read a recent NY Times piece about challenges to Arizona's new immigration law >>...

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Police arrest one, seek second man in shooting of police chief's car

Posted By on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Tony Person Lebron Brown Durham police have charged one man in the April 29 shooting at South Roxboro and Dillard streets that injured a man and left Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez with a hole in the windshield of his unmarked car. Lopez happened to be driving near the scene of an apparent shootout on Roxboro Street between the occupants of two vehicles. One shot struck the victim, whose condition is unknown. Lopez was not injured. According to an update issued late Friday: Police tracked down one suspect, Lebron “Gutta” Brown, 21, of Fidelity Drive, in Lynn, Mass., on Tuesday....

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A look at local legislation for the short session

Posted By on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 2:30 PM

If you haven't yet read the Indy's preview of this year's legislative short session, visit the story to learn about the challenges with this year's budget and the cuts that will affect schools, corrections and other important state and local services. We wanted to include information about local legislation, but we ran out of room. In Durham, city and county leaders want tougher penalties on witness intimidation and to rewrite somewhat ambiguous guidelines on development protest petitions that last year resulted in a lawsuit against the county. Tougher charges in witness intimidation The week before a prominent armed robbery trial...

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A Great Unleashing in Carrboro

Posted By on Fri, May 14, 2010 at 10:40 AM

Chapel Hill and Carrboro are among 278 towns whose residents are working toward becoming self-sustainable without using fossil fuels, especially coal and oil. Mimi Kelly reports for the Indy on the "Great unleashing" Known as the Transition movement, resilience is at its core. “Resilience is a system,” Rob Hopkins who founded Transitions in England in 2005, says on YouTube, “which, when it experiences shock from outside, it doesn’t fall to pieces. It has built into it the ability to adapt and change to meet circumstances.” Transition of Chapel Hill and Carrboro will celebrate resilience at a daylong community gathering called...

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

DPS board could ask commissioners for $13 million to save teacher jobs, wants to cut own stipends to set example

Posted By on Thu, May 6, 2010 at 11:37 PM

Click to visit Durham Public Schools budget website For more budget documents, view the Durham Public Schools budget website.Several members of the Durham school board made it clear Thursday night they saw fit to “share in the spirit of sacrifice” when it comes to the heavy budget cuts and even layoffs that might be looming as they consider next year’s budget, taking on cuts to their own stipends and other gestures of good faith. The board heard public comments, then decided on five matters to that will help solidify the budget package, and inevitable cuts, they’ll send to county officials...

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Durham Rocks, Durham Love Yourself merch available online

Posted By on Thu, May 6, 2010 at 4:50 PM

For all those Durhamites who take great pride in the Bull City, who love equally its grit and glamour, you can still get your "Durham Rocks" and "Durham Love Yourself" stickers, tees and other merch online. James and Michelle Lee, former purveyors of the now-defunct Untidy Museum and 305 South Anti-Mall, announced today on Durham's arts e-mail list that the items are available through Cafe Press. This is not meant as a commercial endorsement, but to many, the initial introduction of the "Durham Love Yourself" tees and stickers years ago spurred a larger, more vocal and collective movement toward...

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