Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Re: Discussion: Reconsidering 9/11

Here are some upcoming events by UNC Students for a Democratic Society, Student Action with Workers, and Triangle Socialist Forum. 
I forgot two more things to say about the 27th in Smithfield.  I heard the counter-protesters had at least one counter-counter-protester at the march, who was apparently not with the rest of the STN event.  At the 3:30 event, we marched down to the gates in widely spaced rows of eight, with a calm chant that I can't remember at the moment.  The Gathering of Eagles sang a 60's song as we started marching back, something like '...na nah nah nah na nah nah goodbye...'  Before that it was pretty quiet, despite everyone being there on the road in front of the gate.  I don't remember seeing the deputies, but they must have been there, and many must have been hidden, because they were many more cars and vans than officers that I could see.   
UNC Student Action with Workers:
SAW meets on Tuesdays at 7pm in Alumni 313.  The meeting is earlier this Tuesday and there will be a workshop, but I'm not sure if they want it widely publicized.  The group has Facebook and I think United Students Against Sweatshops pages, and its website is www.uncsolidarity.org
Students for a Democratic Society presents:

Iraq: Eyewitness to Occupation
with Jason Hurd of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW)

6pm Thursday November 1
Bingham 103, UNC-Chapel Hill

"[T]here is a direct correlation between the violence in Iraq and our presence there. ... I intend to do everything in my power to put an end to the massive suffering brought about by U.S. intervention in Iraq." - Jason Hurd, IVAW

Join us for an evening with Jason Hurd, president of the newly-formed Asheville chapter of IVAW. Jason served as an Army medic for 10 years – 4 years on active duty followed by 6 years in the Tennessee National Guard. He deployed to Iraq in November 2004, serving a year in central Baghdad with his unit from Bristol, Tennessee. Jason will share his experiences in occupied Iraq and explain why he is opposed to the war, what IVAW does, and how students can participate to help stop the occupation of Iraq. The presentation will be followed by questions and answers.

Donations are appreciated! Contact unc.sds at gmail dot com for more information.
Iraq Body Count
Thursday November 1 - All day
Polk Place, UNC-Chapel Hill

A large visual display to bring home the casualties of war.
The display will be up in Polk Place all day on Thursday November 1. Please stop by for a few minutes to reflect on the realities of occupation and honor those who have died in the course of the U.S. war on Iraq. IVAW member Jason Hurd will speak at noon.

Students for a Democratic Society
unc.sds at gmail dot com | chapelhillsds.org
Triangle Socialist Forum for November:

Wednesday, November 7th, at 7pm, the Triangle
Socialist Forum is showing a lecture by David Ray Griffin
on the problems with the 9/11 Commission's explanation
for the terrorist attacks.  Griffin is a leading
writer in the 9/11 truth movement (www.911truth.org), professor of
religion and theology, emeritus, at the Claremont
School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University
in California, and co-director of the Center for
Process Studies.  9/11 is a pivotal event to
understand and, whether you accept the official story
or not, Griffin raises interesting questions on the
background to 9/11 and the terrible events on that

Monday, October 29, 2007

More on Smithfield

My blog post apparently drew some notice and I left out some things, and I am prompted to write after seeing what other participants are saying, so I will say more here before I write something up for Alliance!.  
"Warning:  Troop Hating, Anti-Patriot, Commie Traitors" (if that means I am against the current use of the US military, against wrapping imperialism and fascism in American patriotism, and a true communist, than thanks a lot; I'm certainly not a liberal, and STN is certainly not red)
Unfortunately I remember more about the counter-protesters than our speakers.  I'll say more about the speakers in an article.  The counter-protesters, apparently mostly with the Gathering of Eagles, posted an account at www.gatheringofeaglesnc.org/smithfield_102707a.html.  Their perception that the protesters were afraid and impossible to reason with doesn't match reality.  I am not afraid to say I did not relish walking up to this verbally abusive and possibly violent group at the end, but I did anyway, as did everyone else, from kids to silver haired people.  They did have some children with them and were a relatively old group themselves.  Two bitterly opposed groups confronting each other, with lots of police wagons around, is not a situation for complacency.   
They took the prayer, etc. before the event for mustering of courage, but I'm sure they know about praying before important events and setting the tone before doing anything symbolic.  According to the site, they think they "stalled" us there, but I believe it was planned to start that way.  The writer calls this "the battle of October 27, 2007" on a day "the Home Insurgency planned attacks in multiple cities."  To compare this explicitly non-violent action to the (I would say justified) armed resistance to US occupation overseas is to invite violence against Stop Torture Now.  If one thinks STN is the same as the Iraqi Resistance, that means one would think of responding in the same way, and maybe someone would.  Otherwise it is lying rhetoric, which I hope it is.  They also think they "severely opposed" we "Moonbats."  As I said, I expected worse.  They calling hanging signs and trying to lower the flag at Aero at other demonstrations "vandalism."  They seem to have missed that there was a US flag on a pole to the stage's right at the rally, if I am not mistaken, and I and possible others did have US flags (I had them as pins).  If it will make them happy, STN might want to consider bringing more flags in the future.  On the other side, Gathering of Eagles was trying to wrap itself in the flag, as if it belongs only to them.  The right should consider what will happen if the flag ever does belong solely to them - then fascism and revolution won't be far behind.     
Some other insults at the demonstration - apparently they tried to take the picture from the speaker I mentioned in my prior post and insulted the guy before he got it back, I think with the help of a deputy.  They said we would run if a plane brought back terrorists to run free (the old RPG through the kitchen window scenario.  Besides the small size of such group, I can tell you that communists, at least, should and would fight a real foreign invasion, and communists of various kinds have been fighting violent fundamentalists for more than a century.  Most liberals would fight.  Besides, why bring in Islamists when we have the violent wing of the Christian Right and paramilitary groups here already?  If I am willing to oppose the might of the US, why should I fear foreign nationalists and criminal terrorists?  Note my defense of the right to bear arms in a previous post.  Not using violence is best, and I hope the Gathering of Eagles is serious about not using violence, despite their rhetoric.  Before that, someone had a taunt like 'I'll let you put panties on my head, if I can saw your head off,' etc., to say that the US doesn't torture.  Try saying that when you are a prisoner who is being mistreated and doesn't know if he will be killed, or rendered to a third country to be tortured severely or killed.  Then you might be worried despite the realtively low level of torture the US uses.  I imagine that goes through the mind of many US detainees.       
Despite all of this, I am not very worried about what the Gathering of Eagles thinks about the 27th.  Maybe I missed worse abuse at the march.  At least they don't glorify Bush a lot and some of them seem reasonable.  At least there was not violence.  The patches on the jackets of the motorcycle group looked good, but maybe I shouldn't praise those after hearing that one had something like a "Moonbat Hunting Patrol" patch.  It is good that the opposition veterans were willing to serve their country, but I am not going to praise the purpose of their service, such as serving imperialism in Vietnam.  I don't think they had as much community support as they think, at least not explicitly so that I could hear or see it, and I expect the police are glad we are all out of there.  The Gathering of Eagles group for the most part missed out on a chance to have real dialogue with the other side.  On the other hand, the few discussions I heard afterward didn't seem as heated as some of the STN people seem to think, but I was only a bystander.  I said hello to some people who might have been counterprotesters as I was going to the rally.  For the most part we are all working people, and should not fight amongst ourselves.       
I like the exuberance of some of the CodePink ladies and I like political pins and expression.  
Apparently I greatly overestimated the size of the rally, and maybe the size of the counterprotest at the gates of Aero too.  It was more equal than at Fayetteville, but the protest as always outnumbered the counterprotest.  Most of us were locals, some or many from Johnston County.  One counter said yankees go home.  I didn't meet anyone but Southerners there.               
STN will post pictures, and someone on our side posted many at www.stalberg.net/smithfield_oct272007.  A rightwing blogger posted videos at katysconservativecorner.typepad.com (I think that is the address).  Maybe that was one of the independent media I saw at the rally.     
Finally, compare what happened at the rally to the national Gathering of Eagles mission statement.  Looks a little like hypocrisy after what I heard. 
1. Gathering of Eagles is non-partisan. While each member has his or her own political beliefs, our common love and respect for America and her heroes is what brings us together.

2. We are a non-violent, non-confrontational group. We look to defend, not attack. Our focus is guarding our memorials and their grounds.

3. We believe that the war memorials are sacred ground; as such, we will not allow them to be desecrated, used as props for political statements, or treated with anything less than the solemn and heartfelt respect they–and the heroes they honor–deserve.

4. We are wholly and forever committed to our brothers and sisters in uniform. As veterans, we understand their incredible and noble sacrifices, made of their own accord for a nation they love more than life itself. As family members, we stand by them, and as Americans, we thank God for them.

5. We believe in and would give our lives for the precious freedoms found in our Constitution. We believe that our freedom of speech is one of the greatest things our country espouses, and we absolutely hold that any American citizen has the right to express his or her approval or disapproval with any policy, law, or action of our nation and her government in a peaceful manner as afforded by the laws of our land.

6. However, we are adamantly opposed to the use of violence, vandalism, physical or verbal assaults on our veterans, and the destruction or desecration of our memorials. By defending and honoring these sacred places, we defend and honor those whose blood gave all of us the right to speak as freely as our minds think.

7. We vehemently oppose the notion that it is possible to "support the troops but not the war." We are opposed to those groups who would claim support for the troops yet engage in behavior that is demeaning and abusive to the men and women who wear our nation's uniform.

8. We believe in freedom at all costs, including our own lives. We served to protect the freedoms Americans enjoy, and we agree with Thomas Jefferson's assertion that "From time to time, the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

9. We will accept nothing less than total, unqualified victory in the current conflict. Surrender is not an option, nor is defeat.

10. We stand to challenge any group that seeks the destruction of our nation, its founding precepts of liberty and freedom, or those who have given of themselves to secure those things for another generation. We will be silent no more.

Kit Lange @ February 15, 2007

I have new things to post soon, on the next Triangle Socialist Forum, Dennis Kucinich, and upcoming SDS events at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

Signed by your local, proud "commie traitor" --

Sunday, October 28, 2007

October 27th in Smithfield

Stop Torture Now (www.ncstoptorturenow.net) organized three main events in Smithfield as part of the October 27th United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) national day of action against the Iraq War  www.oct27.org).  In this case, the focus was anti-war, anti-rendition, and anti-torture.  The schedule was for people to gather at 12:30, march 1-2 to the rally site in a small park beside the Neuse River and Business 70/Market Street, and meet again from 3 to 5 at Aero's hangar at the Johnston County Airport, a few miles away going west on 70.  I heard that the march started late, at about 1:15.  I was planning to arrive in time to at least see it, but I got there for the rally.  There were a few counter-protesters with large flags at the first intersection as I came in to downtown Smithfield, and I slipped by a large group across Front St. from the rally.  They were making some catcalls, but they were relatively quiet despite their numbers, and they left early, possibly half way through the rally, which went a little late.  The roads were blocked off, but the police didn't mind me parking closer to the rally, and there was not a large police presence.  I was told that for some reason (intimidation is the only explanation that comes to my mind, other than a kneejerk reaction), the police wanted the addresses of the tablers, so they could run background checks.  The lawn was the only town property tablers could have damaged, so I don't see why the would target the tablers for legitimate reasons.  The rally seemed to have several hundred to 1000 people.  I didn't look carefully, but there seemed to be 50 or fewer counter-protesters, and fewer than 10 police at the site.  I mainly remember the counter-protesters making childish insults, but they were politer than those in Fayetteville, although I assume that many of the same people were there too.  I heard that a woman put her hands on a counter-protester's face, in a gesture for calm, but was accused of slapping him.  I don't know if she was arrested.   
Alliance ML had a table and people took half of the impeachment pamphlets and also some of the reprints of the summer 2006 articles on Aero and NC public worker organizing.  GRIM, Peace Action, CodePink, the Socialist Workers Party, the Green Party, Peace !st (I think), Stop Torture Now, BORDC, and a few others were tabling.  I talked to an SWP woman from Georgia, who said her group was also going to a Greensboro event that afternoon, and some other people.  The SWP seems to emphasize Cuban socialism, and I think it is a long standing Trotskyist group.  A local couple stopped by and I talked for a while with the woman, who was amn army veteran at the time of the Gulf War.  She was probably feigning ignorance in asking what my sickle-and-hammer pin stood for and whether Russia was still communist (I thought only people like Rush had trouble telling the difference), yet seemed to know that China is very capitalist, but I can't be sure.  She seemed sympathetic, despite apparently being a Hillary Clinton supporter (of course, some conservatives say she was/is a communist, which is an insult to us...).  It could be better, but that was one of Alliance's most effective tablings here, and I see it as partially making up for our absence earlier this year at the Fayetteville event.   
I went to the Aero Contractors event as it was starting.  There were lots of cars parked across the street from Aero's driveway, which is named after a pilot from the Vietnam War period.   There was an NC Council of Churches sign and a prayer and some remarks.  I didn't know what the plan was, other than that we were not planning to do civil disobedience.  Two counter-protesters started slowly walking from their group, at the gates of Aero, to us, maybe 150 feet away.  The group had bullhorns and were talking about Daniel Pearl having his head sawed off (they didn't mention the connection to Pakistani military intelligence), the US methods aren't torture (there can be worse torture, but I still think it is torture and the people doing it could be charged for it someday), the jihadis are going to get us, etc. Three more marched down, and the first two were not as disruptive as they could have been, but yelled about us indoctrinating our kids (there were several there).  We marched in rows of 8, at long intervals, carrying black posters with pictures of torture victims or the disappeared, from around the world.  I did not envy the first row to go down, though the counter-protesters said they were non-violent and welcomed us to touch the fence and be arrested.  
As my group came up the counter demonstration, I thought they were blocking us out, but actually that was the gate.  Aero has a large, dull blue hanger (I thought it would be darker), surrounded by young pine forest on the right and towards the road, and brownish lawn to the left.  We hung our signs on the fence, stayed a while, somewhat mingled with the now quieter counter-protesters, and then left. The counter-protesters had lots of flags, a few airhorns, a truck that periodically made bull sounds (?), and there were 12-15 motorcycles parked nearby.  Most of their insults were childish, like offering tissue for us 'whiners' and they said FIST's sign was not worth being in college.  I expected worse from them.  I heard that they told the children of a woman who went down early that their mother had troubles, but the counter-protesters were fighting for the children's freedom, or something like that.  There wasn't cursing though, and there were some actual discussions (theological?).  There weren't any troubles, other than a protester dropping one of the proferred tissues and being accused of littering, and I think counter-protesters not letting an organizer retrieve the picture of a relative, I think tortured or killed by the Nazis.  There could have been less than 50 in our group and less than 30 in theirs at the gates of Aero.  The Stop Torture Now group was almost all white, but younger than what you would see at a Chapel Hill impeachment event.  There seemed to be a few south Asians, people from the Middle East, or Latinos though.  The counter-protesters were mostly men and middle-aged.  There were only a few people from the Sheriff's department, yet there were three big vans and lots of patrol cars, and the officers were relatively heavily armed.  I wondered if  a few of the cars that went by were trying to disrupt us, but there weren't loud motorcycles like at Fayetteville.   
Out at the main road there were a few conversations with counter-protesters that showed that they are human and seemingly reasonable people.  They will be in our face, they said, but they won't be violent or threaten us at home, as one accused an anonymous CodePink member of doing.  One said he would find eyewitnesses more compelling.  Most of the counter-protesters stayed back at Aero.  They think the US doesn't torture, so I guess they don't feel like they were protesting for torture, which seems odder to me than protesting for Bush's wars.  This was more confrontational than I am use to, and I was wondering what the deputies might do, but it was not a very dangerous situation it seems.      
I haven't looked for coverage, but it was briefly on WTVD (ABC).  I'm not sure that even stated our purpose, I only saw a picture of a couple counter-protesters, and they had a view of Aero from a different road.  I did not see any TV crews, and I assumed the few journalists I saw were from alternate media or small media.  There should be a writeup in an upcoming issue of  Alliance!, and it might be time for an article on new discoveries about Aero.     
Note:  GRIM is actually meeting for the month Sunday evening.  I thought it met last Sunday.        

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The drought, water restrictions, and lawns

The drought doesn't seem to be getting worse faster, but the authorities have been getting more concerned this month.  It will probably be hard to reduce water consumption by half, as Governor Easley requested this week.  According to news stories, water managers think even 20% reduction would require major sacrifices at this point.  Cities like Durham might need to take more drastic steps, since we have less than 70 days of water left in the main reservoirs (I'm not sure if this counts unused reserves), but I think some areas have little drought and is the State expecting a dry winter?  I could use a lot less water, but I might be more dirty, since I already follow many of the water saving guidelines, like using graywater for watering plants, reducing the amount of water I use for washing, I never washed my car or watered the grass to begin with, and I already had jugs in the toilet tanks to reduce water usage and I don't flush much.  NPR had a story last Tuesday afternoon about how one Japanese family saves water by using dishwater to wash clothes, reusing bath water (which I think is, or was, common in Japan), and not washing dishes.  That is admirable (and possibly unhealthy), but I'm not sure if we are at that point yet, and using graywater extensively would require plumbing work so we don't have to carry buckets around.  Desalination plants, already in use on the coast, are a possible long-term solution we might eventually have to use, but they have drawbacks, and we should conserve before we look for new sources of water to waste.  We should oppose any plans for large new reservoirs on rivers for environmental reasons and communities that would be uprooted.      
I sympathize with wanting to save drought-stricken garden plants and trees, but I don't quite understanding watering of lawns.  They have good qualities, like being 'healthy' green, uniform, probably safe to walk on barefoot, and we probably prefer savanna habitat as a species generally, but lawns are also ugly, and most Americans don't seem to see that ugliness. For the best, or orthodox, appearance, lawns usually require hazardous chemicals and the chemical and oil industries that make them, are not biologically diverse and don't support much wildlife, are planted with non-native and invasive plants, require mowing, mostly by mowers that directly or indirectly pollute the air, lawns don't help reduce heating and cooling costs like trees do, and I think lawns evolved from the mass of people emulating the European rich.  Fertilizer put on lawns runs off and causes algae blooms and fish kills, and globally we are adding more biologically available nitrogen to the biosphere than it had naturally, with uncertain results (note that adding nutrients to a system has been shown to decrease biodiversity).  The atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, but it has to be fixed for organisms to use it, but now we can fix it for use in fertilizer, explosives, etc.  There have been reports that many subdivisions are requiring people to maintain their lawns, even as we are running out of water to drink.  Maybe I am underestimating how long it takes to regrow a lawn (especially in moonscaped new subdivisions, like the one at the corner of Herndon and Scott King roads, or Southpoint Mall), and it probably is a costly loss to lose fresh sod.  If a lawn were allowed to dry out, I assume it would go dormant and eventually develop deeper roots, though.     
The place where I live has some lawn, but I am not in charge of how it is managed.  It isn't watered and is mostly weeds other than grass, and is mowed with an electric mower, but if I were in charge, I would reduce the sward and add some more useful plants to the mix, though that might include warm-season or mixed grass seed and non-native plants, like white clover (which I think is better looking than grass during the cool season, and it is edible and useful to wildlife).  Most lawn plants are non-native, because they are weeds that thrive in that kind of disturbed and sunny habitat, and native plants evolved for a mostly forested landscape, although there were large savannas here when the Europeans arrived.  I think Penny's Bend on the Eno River is a surviving fragment of natural savanna.  
An unrelated note:
Alliance Marxist-Leninist is one of the many local and national co-sponsors (such as the local BORDCs, GRIM, and the Durham People's Alliance) of NC Stop Torture Now's demonstration against rendition, torture, and the war this Saturday in Smithfield and will probably table at the rally.       

Monday, October 22, 2007

BOCC meeting tonight - why support RTI?

The County Commissioners are meeting tonight, in fact right about now, and the agenda is below.  Some things I am most concerned about are the proclamations (all of which seem constructive) on adoption, homelessness, local efforts to combat climate change, the apparently good performance of the Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant, green buildings in the Library system, and County support for the Research Triangle Institute. 
I think that RTI was the subject of a protest against war profiteers a few years ago.  If that is true, why should the County supporting them?  People should know that that protest was very effective in the short term.  I heard that the demonstration was at a distance from the facility, but the target of the protest actually feared terrorism and shut down for the rest of the day.  The warmongers might pause if enough businesses and government offices are paralyzed indefinitely.  This is something to consider since it seems increasingly like the Bush Administration will expand its global war of aggression to Iran.  There should be plans to respond to an unjustified attack, ideally with much more impact than the many but ultimately ineffective actions when the Iraq War started.  There are several powerful anti-war groups in the Triangle, but I'm not sure if they have started making plans, and it is possible that "preemptive" war with Iran, or some other country, will start with little notice, and the US is still occupying Iraq, Afghanistan, and I think also Haiti.  Kosovo is an occupation left over from Clinton, though it might be accepted by all sides.       
I am also concerned about any land use decisions, but it is up to people living near Treyburn Village site to comment.
1.     Opening of Regular Session—Pledge of Allegiance                                                                    5 min.


2.     Agenda Adjustments                                                                                                                   5 min.


3.     Announcements                                                                                                                           5 min.


The Greater Durham Mentoring Alliance will host its 2007 Fall Mentoring Fair on October 23, 2007, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon, at the American Tobacco Campus, 318 Blackwell Street, Bay 7, in Downtown Durham.   The public is encouraged to attend to learn about the wide variety of mentoring programs Durham has to offer.   Volunteers may sign up to become a mentor at the Fair.  Refreshments will be served.


4.     Minutes                                                                                                                                        5 min.


a.  August 19, 2007 BOCC/City Council

b.  October 1, 2007 Worksession

c.  October 8, 2007 Regular Session


5.     Adoption Month Proclamation

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

National Adoption Awareness Month is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the 118,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families.   For the last seven years, National Adoption Month has made the dreams of thousands of children come true by working with courts, judges, attorneys, and advocates to finalize adoptions and find permanent, loving homes for children in foster care.


In North Carolina, there are more than 10,000 children in foster care, but not all of them are available for adoption.   These children are in the custody of the local Department of Social Services because of abuse, neglect, or because their parents voluntarily placed them for adoption.   Most are in custody temporarily while social work professionals attempt to safely reunite them with their families or place them with relatives.  Some may be adopted by foster parents.   Approximately one-third of the children in foster care will be adopted.  Court action to terminate parental rights is necessary before they are available for adoption.  


In Durham County, there are more 244 children in foster care and 23 children are available for adoption but are not currently in an adoptive placement.   Since last November, 25 foster children have been adopted in Durham. 


The children most in need of safe, loving, permanent homes include those who are over age 10, are in sibling groups and do not want to be separated, minority children, and special needs children (those with medical, behavioral, emotional, or physical problems).   Most foster children have special needs simply because they have undergone the trauma of abuse, neglect, and separation from their birth families.  Some have physical disabilities and medical problems.  Many children need to be placed with a sibling or siblings.


Resource Person(s): Janice Williams, Adoption Supervisor, and Jovetta Whitfield, Child Placement and Supportive Services Program Manager, Department of Social Services


County Manager's Recommendation : The Manager recommends approval of the proclamation declaring Adoption Month in Durham County to raise community awareness of the many ways to support our children who are waiting for a loving, permanent family.


6.     Proclamation for Project Homeless Connect

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

Through public and private collaboration, Project Homeless Connect (PHC) is a one-day, one-stop, on-site center designed to link homeless people with a broad range of needed services.   PHC will work to end homelessness in Durham by providing valuable community-wide services in one location for free.  The event is planned for October 25, 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the Urban Ministries Center.  Sponsors have requested a proclamation observing the day.


Edy Thompson, Director of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Durham, will discuss the events and receive the proclamation.


County Manager's Recommendation : Approve the proclamation and present to Edy Thompson, Director of the 10-Year Pan to End Homelessness in Durham.

7.     Proclamation for National Home and Hospice Care Month

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

November is National Home Care and Hospice Month.  Home care agencies across the nation are working to raise awareness about home care and hospice.   More than
11 million Americans prefer to be treated in the comfort of their own homes when they are ill, rather than a hospital, nursing home, or outside health care facility.   Modern home care succeeds because of diligent home care providers who provide comprehensive services to keep Americans where they belong—in their own homes.


Duke HomeCare and Hospice officials have requested that a proclamation be prepared to recognize the vital role of home care in the healthcare continuum.


County Manager 's Recommendation: Approve the proclamation and present to
Ms. Carol Ann Mullis, Program Manager of Duke HomeCare and Hospice.


8.     Resolution to Reduce the Risks of Climate Change

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

The National Association of Counties (NACO) recently launched a "County Climate Protection Program" to encourage counties to assume the role of "agents of change" in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.   NACo's program will support counties as they work to reduce emissions by providing best practices, tools, and resources to assist in developing and implementing successful climate change programs.


On September 19, the Durham Board of County Commissioners and the Durham City Council adopted a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases by 30% by the year 2030.  In so doing, the City of Durham and Durham County are the first in the state to adopt such a plan.  A key goal of the plan is to set an example for the rest of the community by using resources more efficiently and reducing energy costs.


County Manager 's Recommendation: Approve the resolution and forward a copy of the resolution and the Local Action Plan for Emissions Reduction to the National Association of Counties for inclusion in its database.


9.     Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant—Performance Gold Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

Each year the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) recognizes wastewater utilities that achieve 100% compliance with their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for an entire calendar year.   Durham County's Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant received a Peak Performance Gold Award from NACWA for 2006.  More than 2,500 tests are conducted on the treatment plant effluent each year to demonstrate permit compliance.


This accomplishment is a tribute to the efforts of the Utility Division staff and United Water, the County's operating contractor, and their commitment to maintain a high level of environmental compliance in day to day operation of the Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant.


Resource Person(s): Glen Whisler, County Engineer


County Manager's Recommendation: The Manager recommends that the Board recognize and congratulate the Utility Division staff and United Water for this award.


10.   East & North Regional Libraries LEED Certification

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

The Board is hereby requested to recognize the project team for achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification on the recently completed East & North Regional Libraries.   The East Regional Library achieved LEED Certification on February 1, 2007 and the North Regional Library achieved LEED Certified "Silver" on June 22, 2007.  


The United States Green Building Council recognizes projects that achieve LEED certification based on the LEED Green Building Rating System.   The Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.   LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings' performance.  LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:  sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.  This comprehensive approach is the reason LEED-certified buildings have reduced operating costs, have healthier and more productive occupants, and conserve our natural resources.  


On December 9, 2002, the Board of County Commissioners approved the design contract agreement with The Freelon Group, P.A. to provide architectural services to develop a prototype regional branch library to be located in the eastern and northern parts of Durham County.  All design and construction efforts have been successfully completed.  The 25,000-square-foot East Branch Library was opened to the public on June 16, 2006; the public opening for the North Branch was held on January 30, 2007.  The execution of both projects was within the budget.   The projects were the County's second and third LEED certified facilities along with the Triangle Wastewater Treatment Plant Administrative Building which obtained LEED Certification in April 2005.  


Resource Person(s): Glen Whisler, P.E., County Engineer, Engineering Department; Skip Auld, Director of Library Services; Peri Manns, Assoc. ASLA, Interim Sr. Project Manager, Engineering Department; and Zena Howard, AIA, The Freelon Group


County Manager 's Recommendation: The Manager recommends that the Board recognize the project team for obtaining LEED Certification on both the East & North Regional Libraries.


11.   Consent Agenda                                                                                                                           15 min.


a.   Property Tax Releases and Refunds for Fiscal Year 2007-2008 (accept the property tax release and refund report for September 2007 as presented and authorize the Tax Assessor to adjust the tax records as outlined by the report);

b.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000013—Appropriate Reserved Funds in the amount of $1,158,166 for the Tax Department, Sheriff's Office, Fire Marshal's Office, CJRC, Cooperative Extension, DSS, Cultural Arts Master Plan, and the County Vehicle and Equipment Loan;

c.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000014—Appropriate Reserved Funds for Open Space and Active Recreation in the General Fund and Transfer the Funds to the County Contribution Fund; Capital Project Ordinance Amendment
No. 08CPA000006 (DC083) Open Space and Farmland Preservation—Appropriate Payment-Lieu-Revenue Transferred from the General Fund (appropriate reserved fund balance in the amount of $47,589 to increase the DC083 Open Space and Farmland Preservation Capital Project from $6,507,243 to $6,554,832);

d.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC00015— Social Services—Recognize Additional Revenue in the Amount of $89,408 for Adult Care Home Case Management ($7,062), Crisis Intervention Prevention ($52,842), and State Adult Day Care ($29,504);

e.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000016—Cooperative Extension—Welcome Baby (recognize 2 nd Year Grant Revenue in the amount of $53,783 from the US Health and Human Services Department through the University of North Carolina School of Social Work to Establish a .75 FTE Position and to Continue the Strong Couples Strong Children [SCSC] Project);

f.    Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000017— Cooperative Extension—Welcome Baby Grant Funds for Incredible Years Basic Parent Training (recognize $21,374 in grant funding and approve an additional .53 FTE);

g.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000018—Cooperative Extension—Recognize $5,000 in Grant Funding from the North Carolina Department of Insurance for the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP);

h.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000019—Cooperative Extension—Durham Kids Voting Administration Grant (appropriate an additional $8,129 from Kids Voting North Carolina for the purpose of administering the Durham Kids Voting program in cooperation with the program's partners and increase the FTE for the community consultant position from .40 FTE to .53 FTE);

i.    Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000020—Technical Adjustment to Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000010—Office of the Sheriff and City of Durham Police Department Acceptance of 2007 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant (JAG) (approve in the amount of $107,139, which combined with Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000010 approved in the amount of $107,139, will budget this grant at the correct total of $214,278; in addition, approve the establishment of 1.0 FTE in the Criminal Justice Resource Center for the
grant-funded case worker for the period of one year);

j.    Request to Execute a Non-Exclusive Revocable License Agreement with NC National Guard at the Durham County Memorial Stadium (approve the Revocable License Agreement Between the County of Durham, the Stadium Authority, and the North Carolina National Guard for use of the Stadium's South Side Parking Lot for Overflow Personal Vehicle Parking for Guardsmen Participating in Weekend NC National Guard Drills at the Armory);

k.   Approve the Sale of County Surplus Property —1327 Clinton Road to Bruno Rodriguez for $15,905; 1412 N. Hyde Park Avenue to P.A.P's Custom Home Building for $6,300; 2300 Fitzgerald Street to William Bright for $4,000; and
10037 Rougemont Road to Cynthia Klenke for $1,730;

l.    Triangle Transit Authority Appointment (approve the reappointment of Commission Chairman Ellen W. Reckhow to the Triangle Transit Authority Board of Trustees in the Durham County representative position; the term is December 1, 2007 to November 30, 2011); and

m.  Terminate the contract by and among the County, Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Durham County Superior Clerk of Court to fund the cost of five deputy clerks; the Clerk of Court has received funding from the State and no longer needs the funding from the County.


12.   Public Hearing for Industrial Revenue Bonds – RTI Inc.

                                                                                                                                                             20 min.

The Board of Commissioners is requested to hold a public hearing concerning the issuance and sale by The Durham County Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority of its Revenue Bonds in an amount not to exceed $42,000,000.   The proceeds will be loaned to Research Triangle Institute ("RTI"), a North Carolina non profit corporation, and used to: 1) finance the construction of a new approximately 120,000-square-foot office building and approximately 490-space parking deck at a cost of approximately $28,000,000, and 2) to refinance an existing loan from SunTrust Bank of approximately $12,500,000 (the proceeds of which were used to finance the construction of an approximately 78,000-square-foot office and laboratory building known as the Earl Johnson Jr. Building).   RTI is solely responsible for the repayment of the bonds.  Neither the County nor the Authority has any financial responsibility for the debt.   The Project is located at 3040 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, and will be owned and operated by RTI.


Representatives from RTI will be present at the public hearing to explain further the Project.


Resource Person(s): Carol Hammett, Assistant County Attorney, and Mary Nash-Rusher, Hunton & Williams, Bond Counsel


        County Manager's Recommendation: Hold the public hearing on the issuance of the bonds for the expansion of Research Triangle Institute whose operations are currently located in Research Triangle Park in Durham County, and approve the issuance, if appropriate.


13.   Public Hearing—Plan Amendment—Treyburn Village (A06-13)

                                                                                                                                                             15 min.

To conduct a public hearing on a plan amendment for Treyburn Village (A06-13); and to approve the requested change to the land use designation on the Future Land Use Map of the Durham Comprehensive Plan from Commercial to Low Density Residential
(4 DU/Acre or less)


Planning Department Recommendation: Approval, based on the justification and meeting the four criteria for plan amendments.


Planning Commission Recommendation: Approval, 12-0, July 11, 2006, based on information provided in the staff report, the justification, and meeting the four criteria for plan amendments.


Resource Person(s): Steven L. Medlin, AICP, Interim City-County Planning Director


       County Manager's Recommendation: The Manager recommends that the Board conduct a public hearing and, if appropriate based on the comments received, approve Plan Amendment A06-13.


14.    Public Hearing—Zoning Map Change—Treyburn Village (Z06-39)

                                                                                                                                                             15 min.

To approve a request for a zoning map change for a 71.60-acre site located on the south side of Vintage Hill Parkway, east of Sawmill Creek Parkway.


Request: CN (42.689 acres) and CC (28.911 acres); F/J-B to PDR 2.240; F/J-B


To adopt as support for its action on the proposed zoning map change the determinations that the action is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and is reasonable and in the public interest in light of information presented in the public hearing and in the agenda materials; or, alternatively, in the event that a motion to approve the item fails, the Commissioners adopt as support for their actions on the proposed zoning map change the determination that, notwithstanding its consistency with the Comprehensive Plan, the request is neither reasonable nor in the public interest in light of information presented in the public hearing and in the agenda materials.


Staff Recommendation: Staff recommends approval, subject to approval of the plan amendment, based on consistency with the Comprehensive Plan and considering the information provided in this report.


Planning Commission Recommendation and Vote: Approval, 13-0, on August 14, 2007.  The Planning Commission finds that the ordinance request is not consistent with the adopted Comprehensive Plan.   However, should the governing body approve the pending plan amendment, the ordinance request would then be in compliance with the revised comprehensive Plan.  The Commission believes the request is reasonable and in the public interest and recommends approval based on the information in the staff report, comments received during the public hearing, and additional committed elements proffered by the applicant at the meeting.


Resource Person(s): Steven L. Medlin, AICP, Interim City-County Planning Director


County Manager's Recommendation: The Manager recommends that the Board conduct a public hearing on the proposed zoning map change and approve it, if appropriate, based on the comments received.


15.   Board and Commission Appointments

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

Vonda Sessoms, Clerk to the Board, will distribute ballots to the Board to make appointments to the following boards and commissions:


·     Animal Control Review Board 

·     Design District Review Team

·     Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau

·     Durham County Hospital Corporation

·     Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee

·     Raleigh-Durham Noise Abatement

·     Transportation Advisory Board


Resource Person(s): Vonda Sessoms


County Manager 's Recommendation: The Manager recommends that the Board of County Commissioners vote to appoint members to the above-mentioned boards/commissions.


16.   Closed Session

                                                                                                                                                             30 min.

The Board is requested to adjourn to closed session to consider the conditions of initial appointment of a public officer and to preserve the attorney-client privilege and to discuss In Re Fayette Place LLC, 05 PTC 687, pursuant to N. C. Gen. Stat. § 143-318.11(a)(3) & (6).