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Friday, April 30, 2010

Simple: Vote for Lanya Shapiro — today

Posted by on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Click here to cast your vote for Durham's own Lanya Shapiro. You'll see why. (It's not a primary—and online voting ends tonight.)

Never heard of her? (That hurts. She was an Indy Citizen Award winner.)

Here's a precis:

Lanya Shapiro is a social entrepreneur, a tireless activist and organizer, and part of the vanguard of the modern progressive movement. Her most recent cutting-edge endeavor is Traction, a Durham, N.C.-based offline social network designed to turn young voters into energized and engaged activists who will, over time, power the progressive movement as volunteers, donors, board members and elected officials. By putting a creative spin on classic progressive issues, Traction helps the forward-thinking nonprofits with whom it collaborates to reach and engage a younger audience. During the three years before she started Traction, her political organizing in the Howard Dean grassroots earned her the respect of Democracy For America staff; when Bush brought his Social Security privatization tour to Raleigh in 2005, Lanya organized the counter-rally. Lanya served on Durham's Citizens' Advisory Committee, which advises local elected officials on Community Development Block Grant allocations and helped transform the advisory committee into a force that elected officials are aware of and actually listen to.

There's more below the fold from her fellow Tractivist, Celeste Richie:

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    Voting ends tonight. Click. Vote. Easy.

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Teachers, students, activists speak out about possible DPS budget cuts

Posted by on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 at 11:58 AM

A number of community members, teachers and students turned up at the Durham school board meeting Thursday night to air their concerns about the possible loss next year of 323 school employees, including 237 teachers, due to proposed budget cuts.

Among them, many decried cuts of teaching positions that will increase class sizes, and asked board members to look at the budget again to find different cuts that will keep classrooms smaller. Some even urged the board to put $13 million back into the budget and try to persuade the county manager and commissioners to fund it anyway.

"In order for me to be an "A" teacher, I need "A" resources," said Bryan Proffitt, a social studies teacher at Hillside High School. "I'm being constantly asked to do more with less." A Hillside junior, Elisa Benitez, also spoke, asking board members to submit a fully-funded budget to county commissioners.

Northern High School teacher Deborah Alcorn also spoke, letting the board know that she's worked in classrooms of 35 to 40 students, and it doesn't bode well for student achievement and classroom management.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Durham schools to cut more than 300 positions, including 237 classroom teachers

Posted by on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 5:36 PM

Visit the Durham Public Schools budget website.
  • Visit the Durham Public Schools budget website.

At the end of next month, Durham Public Schools will be letting go of at least 323 positions, including laying off 237 classroom teachers, according to a budget proposal to be presented to the Durham school board tonight.

The budget anticipates more than $20 million less in funding from state and local sources, meaning class sizes will increase, old textbooks will be doled out for another year and professional development for teachers and other faculty will continue to be on hold. The total operating budget for 2010-11 is projected to be $383.4 million, with $98.5 million coming from local sources, primarily the county.

Many of the reductions come from the state level, including the elimination of funds for textbooks and technology for schools, which trims almost $2 million off Durham’s spending. But this year and next, the cuts are forcing those who remain to learn how to do without resources they've come to depend on.

“We’ve trained our teachers to use technology, and now with these state cuts, we can’t even buy bulbs for our projectors,” said Hank Hurd, interim superintendent for Durham Public Schools. (The bulbs cost about $300 apiece, he said.) These are simple projectors that connect to laptops, not fancy SMART Boards, he pointed out.

“It’s going to be impossible to maintain our upward momentum without instructional staples—when you start talking about textbooks, technology and remedial funds,” Hurd added.

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UNC task force says campus should end use of coal by 2020

Posted by on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 5:16 PM

CHAPEL HILL — UNC should go coal-free by 2020, 30 years earlier than the school’s current carbon-neutral target, according to a preliminary report adopted Wednesday by the Energy Task Force appointed by Chancellor Holden Thorp to identify ways to curb campus carbon emissions.

“What we’re saying is 2020 is as long as this should continue at a university,” Task Force Chairman Tim Toben said. “Coal is the big offender in the energy sector. The message from this task force is clear and unequivocal.”

The report, approved 8-0 with two members abstaining, offered six interim recommendations:
1) End all use of coal by May 1, 2020 with an aspirational target of May 1, 2015.
2) Accelerate the conversion from coal using some biomass, including wood pellets.
3) Source the biomass from certified sustainable forests
4) Make “best efforts” to use a third-party consultant to certify that the coal UNC uses is deep-mined only
5) Use more natural gas in the current boilers
6) Analyze solar thermal and solar photovoltaic possibilities every two years

Clean energy proponents celebrated the interim report, while realizing that they’ll now need to lobby Thorp to adopt it.

“We’re all pleased that something concrete happened, but we’re going to keep working,” said Stewart Boss, coordinator of Coal-Free UNC.

Namely, Boss wants to see a 2015 target and stronger language opposing mountaintop removal.

The task force, established in January, will spend its next four meetings tackling the question of increasing building efficiency and reducing energy consumption. To date, the group has focused on coal use at UNC's Cogeneration Plant on Cameron Avenue because it's responsible for 60 percent of campus greenhouse gas emissions.

Toben plans to offer a final report to Thorp in September.

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Downtown Durham shootout leaves one injured, bullet hole in police chief's car

Posted by on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 2:46 PM

The gray sedan had six bullet holes in it.
  • The gray sedan had six bullet holes in it.

This post was updated at 4 p.m.

We don't often post breaking crime news to Triangulator, but this was close to home.

At about 2 p.m. this afternoon, shots were fired in downtown Durham at the intersection of Roxboro and Dillard streets (which happens to be right outside the Indy office, Somerhill Gallery and Thomas & Howard). Several staffers in third-floor offices of the Venable building heard several shots and saw a gray Hyundai Elantra with a tinted back windshield come to a halt on the right side of Dillard Street. (see photo).

According to a police statement, people inside two cars were firing at each other while driving north on South Roxboro Street when an occupant in one of the cars was shot. Eyewitnesses said a man from the Elantra, which had five bullet holes in the rear windshield, was taken away by ambulance.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez also happened to be driving his unmarked car near the intersection when the commotion occurred. According to a Durham police news release, Lopez's police cruiser was hit. The front windshield of Lopez's car was damaged, but he was not injured.

An hour after the incident, traffic was still blocked on Roxboro Street at Morehead Avenue, north to Pettigrew Street.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New DPS Superintendent has served in Guilford, Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools

Posted by on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 9:44 PM

Dr. Eric Becoats begins his new job as Durham Public Schools superintendent on July 1.
  • Dr. Eric Becoats begins his new job as Durham Public Schools superintendent on July 1.

The Durham school board met in closed session Wednesday night, then convened in public view to formally hire Dr. Eric J. Becoats as the new superintendent for Durham Public Schools. Becoats replaces Carl Harris, who left in December to take a job with the U.S. Department of Education.

Becoats has worked as a top schools administrator in Guilford County for the past five years, and prior to that worked in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and also in the city of Baltimore. View his full résumé here.

Becoats has also presented papers at national conferences that touch on some subjects very pertinent to Durham: dropout prevention and teacher retention. He starts his job right after the start of the new fiscal year, on July 1.

From the press release:

"Durham has such a wonderful and well-deserved reputation for being strongly committed to public education. That is what attracted me to this role,” said Dr. Becoats. “I will spend the next several months listening, observing and learning about what is important to this district, its teachers, parents and supportive community. I plan to meet with many of you, and to develop strong working relationships.”

Durham County Sheriff ahead in campaign funds; plus, a look at other first-quarter reports

Posted by on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 2:14 PM

First-quarter campaign finance reports were due Monday across the state. In a quick look at Durham's candidates in races for school board and sheriff, incumbent Sheriff Worth Hill is ahead in fundraising compared to primary opponent Tony Butler and Republican candidate Roy Taylor.

(View all reports here or read on for a summary.)

Taylor has raised $4,025, including a personal loan of almost $3,500. Butler has loaned himself $1,000 this quarter, adding to about $1,900 he already had in campaign funding.

Hill has raised $8,300 in the first quarter, bringing his total campaign fund to $8,700, including $500 from Durham architect John Atkins III of O'Brien/Atkins Associates, $200 from Cardinal State Bank VP Charles Sanders, $250 from Robert D. Teer Jr. of Teer Construction Company, $75 from the NCCU Foundation and $350 from the People's Alliance. Hill spent $240 this quarter advertising in the Triangle Tribune, a weekly community newspaper targeted to a black audience.

Even though he is running unopposed for re-election, Clerk of Court Archie Smith raised $3,400 this quarter to add to the $9,000 he already had in his campaign account. Recent contributions include $200 from retired Durham County Sheriff Roland Leary, checks from George Beischer, Frank Ward and Rick Soles who head Durham real estate groups, a long list of attorneys, and Bill Shore, who is director of U.S. community partnerships for GlaxoSmithKline.

In the race for four chairs on the Durham school board, incumbents Omega Curtis Parker and Steve Martin filed threshold reports stating they intended to raise or spend less than $1,000 in their current campaigns.

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First quarter campaign contributions in Chatham County

Posted by on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 9:53 AM

If you really want to know who's behind a candidate, campaign finance reports can give you a clue.

In Chatham County, the District 3 Board of Commissioners race is generating the most interest—and money.

On May 4, the GOP primary face-off between lifelong Chatham resident Cadle Cooper and newcomer Brian Bock will determine who will run against Democratic incumbent George Lucier in the fall.

In the first quarter of this year, Bock has raised $5,390.66, including a $500 contribution from the Build Political Action Committee of the National Association of Home Builders. Bock listed $3,048.94 in expenditures.

Cooper raised $6,619.50, between Feb. 11 and March 17, spending $4,057.85 of that sum; his donors include retirees and farmers.

Lucier, who does not have a primary election opponent, has raised $3,920.77 and spent $2,383.85.

In District 4, Democratic incumbent Tom Vanderbeck has raised $2,070 and spent $930.75.

Vanderbeck's Republican challenger in the general election, Pamela Stewart, has raised $150 and spent $30.61.

In District 5, Democratic incumbent Carl Thompson, who does not have a primary opponent, has received $932 in contributions and recorded $860 in expenditures in the first quarter.

GOP challengers for the seat include Kim Beal who did not file a report, he is under the threshold, and Walter Petty who has raised only $55 of cash taking a loan for $2,325, with expenditures totaling $2,443.45.
Reports can be viewed at

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Magistrate rules in favor of Children's University teachers

Posted by on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 8:02 PM

HILLSBOROUGH — The seven Children’s University of Chapel Hill teachers who sued owner Lisa McEntyre for unpaid wages won rulings in their favor Tuesday. Whether they’ll receive money is an entirely different story.

“A judgment is a piece of paper; it means nothing other than it a piece of paper saying she owes the money. It doesn’t force her to pay a dime. It’s there; it’s on the record,” said Magistrate John Woodson, who presided over the Small Claims Court.

“What you’ve told me gives me rise to believe you might want to talk about a criminal action. You might want to talk with the police department.”

Childrens University closed March 18 and the Legion Road property is up for sale.
  • Photo by Joe Schwartz
  • Children's University closed March 18 and the property is up for sale.

Neither McEntyre, who closed the day care suddenly on March 18, nor her attorney, Greg DeWitt, attended court. Defendants are not required to be present at civil court, and the case can go on without them. She now has 10 days to appeal the rulings, which range from $980 to $5,000 each. If she does, a District Court judge will hear the cases.

Teachers sat side by side, filling the first three left side benches as they faced the magistrate. The right side of the courtroom was barren by the time their cases were heard, an hour and a half into the Small Claims Court session.

After addressing six other matters ranging from a dispute on home care to a cracked bumper, Woodson looked to the teachers.

“And that brings me to the other half of my docket,” he said.

They erupted in nervous laughter. Woodson put his face in his palms.

“Ms. McEntyre does not see fit to avail herself of being here,” he said, stating the obvious.

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    Children's University of Chapel Hill, Lisa McEntyre, Orange County Small Claims Court, John Woodson, day care

Monday, April 26, 2010

After controversy and continuation, commissioners appoint new planning board member

Posted by on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 8:46 PM

A seemingly simple appointment to Durham's Planning Commission has been steeped in controversy for the past month, and was expected to come to an end Monday night at a meeting of the Durham County Commissioners, but for another unexpected twist.

Because of problems with previously-appointed candidate Darius Little, the board had to reconsider who should fill a seat reserved for an Oak Grove/Carr Township community member on the Durham Planning Commission, an advisory board that reviews city and county development proposals.

The board Monday appointed candidate-in-waiting Antonio Jones, but only after Commissioner Joe Bowser asked his fellow board members to consider Planning Commission member Linda Huff-Smith, a single-term member who recently applied to continue in her current seat. Her term expires in June. Bowser, apparently at the urging of some citizens who had contacted him, suggested that Huff-Smith could be considered for the Oak Grove seat because she lives in that community, he said.

Commissioners weren't sure it was legal to take Huff-Smith and shift her to a different seat, considering she had applied for a second term and was denied earlier this month when commissioners appointed Teiji Kimball. But legal or not, Commissioner Michael Page said, it wasn't fair to Jones, who had applied for the seat and then waited patiently as commissioners first appointed his opponent Little, then recalled that appointment. Jones was in the audience Monday night, Page pointed out.

"We have a process," said Page, who is chairman of the board of commissioners. "We have qualified candidates who have applied for the seat. How do you disregard that? That’s blatant disrespect."

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They need to lock that pig cop up!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Very surprised you did a follow-up on this very lightweight story. Have you no journalistic shame??

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