No commitment yet
Please don’t be misled by Sunday’s TDN article on the vote by the majority of Orange County commissioners to seek more money for light rail.
The board did not vote to commit more county funds to the project. We adopted a motion respecting the public’s 2012 vote to enact a half-cent sales tax to advance bus and rail service. We also reiterated our support for light rail.
But we declared, “the MOU (memorandum of understanding) does not express an obligation, moral or implied, to fund the Durham-Orange Light Rail project beyond currently authorized levels if further investigation proves the financial burden to taxpayers would, in our judgment, compromise Orange County’s ability to reasonably fund other, more critical goals and functions of government.”
In a separate vote, we directed the manager to seek an independent analysis of the financial assumptions underlying the plan and to pursue the sort of cost-cutting value engineering that GoTriangle promises but has yet to publicly deliver.
And I repeated a challenge to GoTriangle to be specific about prospective contributions from outside entities, which inexplicably grew in size from one meeting to the next.
We further directed the manager to initiate discussions to renegotiate the rail-funding split with Durham, given that more track, more costs and more economic development opportunity are added within our partner county’s jurisdiction by sensibly extending the service to NCCU.
The board resolved to visit our own, county transportation priorities ahead of making an April decision about committing more funding to the D-OLR or other public transit projects. We will not take any further action on light rail until we have more clarity on the facts – an obligation GoTriangle must do better to help us achieve – within a shifting state and federal funding landscape that is uncertain at best.
The writer is a member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Help replace hate with something beautiful
JC’s Kitchen in Durham was the target of a racist, hate-filled act following the presidential election. Part of the restaurant was spray-painted with “Black Lives Don’t Matter and Neither Does Your Votes [sic].” Our community was saddened and outraged. But we have chosen to respond with an act of unity and peace. Join us!
Restaurant owner Phyllis Terry is a kind and loving person. As the news spread nationwide of the hateful act, Phyllis was amazed and touched by how the community came together to cover up and partially remove the graffiti. Now, let’s take it a step further, together.
Not only does Phyllis support the idea of painting a beautiful mural on the wall, but she desires that the community to do it together. She wants the wall to inspire unity and strength among black, white, Hispanic, poor, wealthy, the young, and old. Our community is strongest when we choose to inspire and pick each other up.
We are seeking $12,000 in donations to commission a beautiful mural for the wall. The funds will pay for the materials as well as an artist to lead the community effort. The goal is to create a mural that all of us can paint small portions of to collectively create something truly special and unique to Durham.
We came to that figure by assessing all of the steps, effort and process involved to complete an art project and event of this size. The figure is our best guess at the complete cost based on estimates for wall repairs, priming for longecity of the mral, the artist’s fee, material and supplies, and maintenance.
If there are any remaining funds after the mural and community event are complete, the donations will be used to fund other mural projects where hate can be replaced with something beautiful.
This project is not about politics, it’s about what’s right and wrong. It’s about coming together as a community. This is a time to be inspired to do more. Let’s show our children what unity looks like by putting a paintbrush in their hands. Together, we can take this act of hate and overpower it with love, by affirming our community with unity.
Once the outline of the mural is complete, you – the community – will be invited to join and help paint in the mural to create something special. This will most likely take place over one weekend at a date we will announce and share publicly.
Remember, where there is hate, love will outshine it! Let’s do this!
Duke addition appalls
Regarding the news story “Durham City Council approves 13-story Duke Hospital addition” (TDN, Dec. 6):
I am appalled to see that Duke is building another hospital tower.
There are already significant parking, traffic and accessibility problems in the area of the Medicine Pavilion and the Cancer Center. Now they want to stick another building for patients in the same general area. That will make these problems worse.
Recounts damage faith in democracy
Last week the state election board voted on partisan lines to overrule a local election board in Durham County and the President-elect made baseless claims of massive voter fraud in an election he won. The Durham recount request presented no substantial evidence of fraud or miscounting, which is the legal standard in North Carolina.
When politicians like the governor and the President-elect cast aspersions on our electoral process without evidence, there are real costs. It is estimated the Durham recount has cost taxpayers $35,000.
The recount has produced virtually no change in the numbers. The bigger damage is to our institutions and faith in our democracy.
Baseless charges of voter fraud must not be used as an excuse for voting restrictions or recounts.
Reforms including better voting machines, nonpartisan election boards and a reversal of the ridiculous level of gerrymandering are now urgently in order. These will benefit all North Carolina voters.
Redistricting not brain surgery
The designing of voting districts should not be political but simply decided by the number of eligible voters.
In this day of computers it should be easy to have voting districts that are roughly square or rectangular (5 percent variation) and contain roughly the same number of eligible voters (again 5 percent variation) regardless of previous voting records, race or whatever. This would truly reflect the will of the people and be true democracy. Am I dreaming?
Trump’s fine idea
I was a Bernie supporter till the bitter end. I voted for Hillary. I would not have voted for Trump had he been running unopposed.
However, Trump’s questioning of Boeing’s potential multi-billion dollar price tag for Air Force One seems like a fine idea to me. Why not?
Runaway government spending has been a problem for decades and the Boeing deal was no-bid.
It’s about time someone had the brass to ask a few questions.
Media substance matters
We must all support media that are willing to question President-elect Donald Trump. With his election, "he said, he said" journalism is no longer useful. The President-elect persistently denies reality on a level this country has never seen, and we risk losing our own grasp on reality if our media outlets simply report what he says and does.
David Folenflick of NPR wrote, "His administration will require an unusually robust, muscular form of accountability reporting - tethered to fact and fairness, independent of political pressure."
We must support the media that has already shown a willingness to hold the president-elect accountable, such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal. We must demand more responsible journalism from the members of the media who fail to do their due diligence.
And we must help reporters exercise their First Amendment rights by subscribing to newspapers. In an era dominated by clicks, we must prove that substance and accountability matter.
Let’s hear from you
Please send up to 300 words to email@example.com. All submissions, online comments and posts to editor Mark Schultz’s Facebook page may be edited for space and clarity.