Time to reassess light rail
At what point does a good idea become a bad idea?
DOLRT started at $1.35B and now sits at $1.87B. Local funding was supposed to be 25% or $337M, now the local funding exposure is 40% or $748M.
Orange County additional liability is approaching another $172M (Durham $576M) over 10 years. When does this become a bad idea? Perhaps when:
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▪ funding sources like foundation / endowments, etc proposed by GoTriangle do not come to fruition?
▪ state funding drops from a maximum of 10% to zero?
▪ the new Trump administration slashes federal funding to 40% or even zero?
▪ the interest rates double from these historically low rates?
▪ DOLRT ridership estimates are slashed due to low energy prices?
▪ cost over-runs push the project up another 38%
Who is assessing these (and other) risks? At what point do you say enough already "this isn't what we thought originally"?
Or is this DOLRT myth so blindingly ideologue driven that no matter the facts or costs, our Commissioners will mortgage away everyone's future at the cost of our other community needs (schools, affordable housing, etc)?
We need an independent review of the DOLRT project by a non-vested party, before any letter-of-intent gets signed!
A wink and a thumbs up
I formerly worked as the assistant vice president for federal relations at the UNC System (general administration). I remember so clearly the day Dr. Saunders-White was introduced to the UNC System Board of Governors as the next chancellor of my alma mater.
Dressed in maroon and gray she came forward to give her introductory remarks and wowed the room with her vision for the institution. As one of only two African-American women at UNC-GA who had vice president in their title at that time, a graduate of NCCU, and a member of the same sorority as Dr. White, it was one of my proudest moments to see her ascend to this role.
When I left the UNC system, I kept in touch with Dr. White. She attended AGB’s National Conference on Trusteeship last April and sat in on a session I moderated. As she left she gave me a wink, a thumbs up and her brilliant smile. I knew I had made her proud. Shortly thereafter, she sent me the attached note. I have kept it on my desk right near my monitor since then.
Emily M. Dickens
The writer is the vice president for public policy and the executive director of the Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
Courage and determination
I join the North Carolina Central University and Durham communities in mourning the passing of Debra Saunders-White, who set the university on a path toward a bright future with her wise stewardship and strategic vision.
I always enjoyed working with Chancellor Saunders-White, and I look forward to completion of the student center and opening of the business school as major components of her legacy.
I especially admired her courage and determination in continuing to provide leadership throughout her battle with cancer. My thoughts are with her family, her many friends, and the students, faculty, and staff of NCCU.
U.S. Rep. David Price
Camelot students impress
Cyan Pell was breathless about clouds. Did you know that contrails are clouds? That they form instantly around the exhaust of high-flying jets? Or that certain bacteria that grow on crops cause clouds to form over them?!
Hardly any of the people in the crowded ballroom knew this, or that film star Heddy Larmarr was a spy as well as an inventor, or, perhaps most surprising, How the Electoral College works!
The occasion was Camelot Academy’s annual Academic Fair at the Durham Convention Center on Nov. 18. Every year students are asked to chose a topic that interests them, research it, write a paper, create a visual illustration of the main points and and prepare an “elevator speech” that hits all the highlights in two minutes or less.
The results were beyond even their teacher’s expectations. “I’m so proud of these guys,” said Matt Wilhelm, a social studies teacher at the school. “They put more into these projects than we could ever ask.” The range of topics alone was staggering, everything from Entomophagy and the Huygens Probe to the History of the English Language and The Great Wall of China.
“The trick,” said Thelma De Carlo-Glynn, founding director of Camelot Academy, is getting them to find a topic that truly interests them or that they care deeply about. Once they have that, our job becomes guiding them through the process.”
Over 100 projects were presented in four shifts with musical interludes by the school’s performing ensembles. Moving renditions of “Closer to Fine” by Abby Weber, “Somebody to Love” by Richard Carruthers and “Soul Man” by the 6th Period Instrumental Group were among the highlights.
The writer is the director of admission for Camelot Academy
The Facebook problem
According to legitimate news agencies, up to 62 percent of adults get their news from Facebook – a problem Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg recently addressed, admitting that the website is awash in fake news reports. Some speculate that this situation contributed to the election of Donald Trump.
As a Facebook follower, I believe this is true. During the last 18 months, the site has posted numerous false stories, the majority of which falsely trashed Hillary Clinton and lauded Donald Trump. For instance, a headline told me that Pope Francis was endorsing Trump for president. While any moderately-informed person should easily recognize this claim as false, I’m guessing that many of the aforementioned 62 percent believed it. It undoubtedly influenced some people’s vote. Some other interesting headlines were:
▪ Hillary’s Arrest Is Imminent
▪ The Clintons Are Tied To 26 Murders
▪ Voter Fraud is Rampant
▪ Anthony Scalia Was Assassinated
▪ China Created The Climate Change Hoax
▪ President Obama Created Isis
▪ The Main Stream Media Is Lying To You (anyone see the irony here?)
What a shame that so many voters were too lazy to properly educate themselves so as to make an informed decision when voting.
Time to #ProtectThyNeighbor
Donald Trump and Mike Pence are the most divisive and threatening US leaders in to be elected in my lifetime. The campaign Trump ran promising to deport Mexicans, register Muslims, and ignore the Constitution of the United States caused me to be physically ill on November 9th. Pence is even worse. In Indiana he passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Super-RFRA) otherwise known as the “Wedding Cake Law” that codifies discrimination against LGBTQ people. But the time to grieve is over. We must form the Resistance because religion should never be used as an excuse to harm others.
#ProtectThyNeighbor is a campaign launched by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. AU is a national organization dedicated to fighting the religious right and the agenda of using religion as a basis for any legislation. We are committed to religious freedom – true religious freedom for individuals to worship anyway they choose or not at all. We fight to keep the wall of separation intact. By keeping the two separate, each can strive for its own lofty goals. We oppose:any registry for religious minorities; any discrimination based on religion such as denying services to same-sex couples; any denial of medical services such as abortion or birth control based on religious views; any religious organization receiving government funds such as school vouchers.
Unfortunately, our newly elected President and Vice-President are against these principles. They have vowed to repeal the Johnson Amendment, the law that prevents non-profits from making campaign donation or endorsing political candidates. Repealing this amendment would turn every single church or place of worship into a potential laundry-machine for political donations. Bake sales for candidates in the church parking lot? Does that sound appealing? Aren’t political fund-raisers bad enough without bringing them to our houses of worship?
Trump has toned down his rhetoric post-election, but he has made a number of extreme right wing political appointments. The worst is Steve Bannon, a vocal anti-Semite. Trump himself has stoked fears about Muslims as extremists and terrorists. Though we don’t know what Trump might actually do, we do know Pence’s record, and so we are wasting no time in getting organized. We will use the local, state, and national stage to draw attention to the un-American acts of discrimination. We will fight to keep religion and politics separate. We will do whatever it takes to protect our neighbors. Will you #ProtectThyNeighbor?
We are meeting on Sunday, December 4 at 4 p.m. in the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill. The meeting is open to the public.
President, Orange-Durham Chapter
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
Equality and dginity for all
Last week’s open “Letter to the people of the city of Durham” from local elected leaders generated several comments, including:
Sarah Marion: So very proud of the leaders in Durham and Chapel Hill, as well as the majority of the community. We have come so far as a nation, and we do not need to go backward. Keep standing for equality and dignity for all.
Marty Grimson: Well-said and sincere. Glad to see this statement in light of the recent political scene, nationally and state. I think it is a needed reassurance to all Durham’s citizens.
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