Sunday, January 27, 2008

BOCC Monday - final 'panhandling ban' vote

The Herald-Sun reported on the library fee abolition (for all rooms, for non-profit users) today, and there are already new signs at the libraries, though I'm not sure all of the librarians know about the change. 

      [Please contact the Clerk to the Board at (919) 560-0025 for information related to items on the agenda.]


(Deleted Consent Agenda Item No. 8m)





Monday, January 28, 2008


County Commissioners' Chambers

200 East Main Street, Durham, North Carolina




"Public Charge"


The Board of Commissioners asks its members and citizens to conduct themselves in a respectful, courteous manner, both with the Board and fellow citizens.  At any time, should any member of the Board or any citizen fail to observe this public charge, the Chairman will ask the offending person to leave the meeting until that individual regains personal control.  Should decorum fail to be restored, the Chairman will recess the meeting until such time that a genuine commitment to the public charge is observed.


As a courtesy to others, please turn off cell phones during the meeting.



7:00 P.M. Regular Session


1.    Opening of Regular Session—Pledge of Allegiance                                                                     5 min.


2.    State of the County Address                                                                                                      30 min.


       County Commission Chairman Ellen Reckhow will deliver the County's Annual State of the County Address chronicling the accomplishments of County Government in 2007.


3.    Agenda Adjustments                                                                                                                     5 min.


4.    Announcements                                                                                                                             5 min.


5.    Minutes


        January 7, 2008 Worksession


6.    Recognition of Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for FY2007-2008 Durham County Budget Document

                                                                                                                                                              5 min.

In August 2007, the Budget & Management Services Department submitted Durham County's FY2007-2008 Budget document for consideration to GFOA for its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.  In order to receive the award, a governmental unit must publish a budget document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan, and as a communications device.


Durham County received notification at the end of December that a panel of independent reviewers had completed their examination of Durham County's budget document and voted to award to Durham County the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.  This is the fourth year in a row that Durham County has applied for and received this award, which is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting.


Congratulations to the entire Budget & Management Services staff which includes: Kimberly Connally, Kevin Etheridge, Gene Hodges, Keith Lane, Minora Sharpe, and Pam Meyer.


Resource Person(s): Mike Ruffin, County Manager


County Manager's Recommendation: The County Manager recommends that the Board of County Commissioners acknowledge the receipt of the GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the current Fiscal Year 2007-2008.


7.     Recognition of 5 years of service by Kenneth Joyner

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

Durham County Board of Commissioners will recognize former Tax Administrator Kenneth Joyner for his five years of outstanding service to Durham County.  He is credited with achieving record-setting collection rates and for making customer service in the office a priority.  Joyner joined the faculty of the UNC School of Government earlier this month following his outstanding tenure with Durham County. 


County Manager's Recommendation:  The Manager's recommendation is that the Board present Mr. Joyner with a recognition plaque in honor of this visionary leadership while serving as Durham County's Tax Administrator.


8.     Consent Agenda                                                                                                                          20 min.


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

b.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000051—Public Health—Recognize $12,000 in Grant Funding from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, Office of Healthy Carolinians, to Support the Work of the Partnership for a Healthy Durham;

c.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000052—Public Health—Recognize $112,647 in Revenue from the Epidemiology, HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch (recognize revenue for the Lincoln Community Health Center—Ryan White Part C, Early Intervention Clinic);

d.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000053—Public Health—Recognize One-Time Funding from the NC Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, in the amount of $20,000 for the Local Public Health Preparedness Program;

e.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000054—Public Health—Recognize One-Time Family Planning Title X Bonus Funds in the Amount of $833 from the NC Department of Health and Human Services to purchase miscellaneous supplies for the Family Planning Clinic;

f.    Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000055—Public Health—Recognize $10,000 in Grant Funding from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to support the initial phase of the strategic outreach campaign planned by the Partnership for a Healthy Durham;

g.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000056—Public Health—Recognize $4,080 in Grant Funding from the Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission to Support the Work of Teens Against Consuming Tobacco;

h.   Budget Ordinance Amendment No. 08BCC000057—Turner Business Appraisers Inc.—Contract Amendment (recognize additional tax revenue in the amount $650,000);

i.    Capital Project Amendment No. 08CPA000013—Decreasing Seven Completed Durham Public School Projects and Closing Six Completed DPS Projects (decreasing $234,412 of 2003 GO Bond funds from seven projects, officially closing six projects, and reserving the unspent bond proceeds of $234,412 as Reserved Fund Balance for future appropriations to DPS Capital Projects);

j.    Ambulance Replacement (authorize the Manager to enter into a contract with Southeastern Specialty Vehicles in the amount of $227,753 for the purchase of a replacement vehicle for Redwood Volunteer Fire Department and Durham County EMS, and one remount for Durham County EMS);

k.   Execution of Consulting Service Contract Amendment with ECS Carolinas LLP for Additional Services for the Geotechnical Evaluation at the Proposed Durham County Justice Center—Project No.: DC066 (authorize the execution of a design contract amendment for $18,394.70, thus increasing the total compensation for the consulting services to $65,134.70);

l.    Execution of Design Contract Amendment with Cherry Huffman Architects, P.A. for the Expansion and Renovation of the Durham County Southwest Branch Library.  RFQ 07-005 Project No.: DC075-67 (authorize the execution of a contract amendment in the amount of $18,000, thus increasing the total compensation for the basic design services, additional services, and reimbursement to $392,150);

m.  Execution of Architectural Design Service Contract with Swanson + Stewart Architects for the Renovation of the EMS Area and Space Planning Evaluation of the Lincoln Community Health Center.  Project No.: DC095-69 (authorize the execution of a contract with Swanson + Stewart Architects, P.A., in the amount $30,672.00, plus additional services and reimbursable expenses estimated at $3,000 for a combined total of $33,672);

n.   Durham City-County HOME Consortium Agreement Extension (execute the Joint Cooperation Agreement Extension for the Durham City-County HOME Consortium having an effective period ending June 30, 2010);

o.   Professional Services for the Architectural Programming and Master-Planning for the Detention Center Expansion: Project No: DC086 (authorize execution of a contract with O'Brien/Atkins Associates, P.A. to provide professional services for the programming and master planning of the Detention Center Expansion, in the amount of $226,970, plus a reimbursable amount of $2,500, thus totaling $229,470 and execution of any other related contracts, if necessary, not to exceed the estimated budget of $300,000);

p.   Johnston Ambulance Service Franchise Renewal accept the three-year ambulance franchise renewal request, and schedule the request for a second and final approval on February 11, 2008); and

q.   Approval of Resolution for Exemption of Architectural, Engineering, and Surveying Services when the Estimated Professional Fee is less than $30,000 (approve the resolution and authorize the County Manager to negotiate and sign contracts).


9.     Advance Public Comments on the FY2008-2009 Budget

                                                                                                                                                             15 min.

On this date, the Board will hold an Advance Public Comment session to receive public comments for the FY2008-2009 Budget.  As county staff begins the preparation of the fiscal year 2008-2009 budget, public input is being solicited on issues which may need to be addressed during the budget process.  


The County Manager's Recommended FY2009 Budget will be presented to the Board of Commissioners on May 27, 2008, with individual budget worksessions with the Board to be scheduled for the period May 22-June 13, 2008.  Final adoption of the FY2008-09 Budget Ordinance is scheduled for Monday, June 23, 2008. 


Additionally, comments can also be e-mailed to


Resource Person(s): Pam Meyer, Director of Budget and Management Services


County Manager's Recommendation: The Manager recommends that the Board hold the Advance Public Comment session on the Fiscal Year 2008-2009 Budget.


10.   FY 2008-2009 Annual Action Plan "Needs" Public Hearing

                                                                                                                                                             15 min.

The Citizen Participation Plan contained in the adopted 2005-2010 Consolidated Plan requires that two public hearings be held prior to the submission of the Annual Action Plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The purpose of the first public hearing is to receive citizen comments on housing and community development needs.  The purpose of the second public hearing is to receive citizen comments on the draft Annual Action Plan, which specifies the allocation of CDBG, HOME and ESG funds.  The City of Durham will hold its "Needs" public hearing on January 22, 2008.


As an entitlement city, Durham has been the recipient of CDBG funds since 1975 and HOME Consortium funds since 1992.  CDBG funds have primarily been used for housing activities, public services, code enforcement, and public infrastructure.  HOME Consortium funds have been used for affordable housing activities as required by HOME program regulations.  Durham has also been a recipient of Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funds from HUD, which have been used to provide assistance to individuals and households who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.


       The Annual Action Plan is Durham's application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the upcoming fiscal year's funding and outlines the actions Durham is taking with HUD-awarded funds to meet the goals as described in the 2005-2010 Five Year Consolidated Plan.  Comments received from the "Needs" public hearing will be incorporated into the draft FY 2008-2009 Annual Action Plan that will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners for adoption in April 2008.


Mike Barros, Director of the City of Durham Department of Community Development, has reviewed this request and recommends that the Board of County Commissioners hold a public hearing on January 28, 2007 to receive comments related to Community Development needs.  Mr. Barros and/or Associate Director Larry Jarvis will attend the meeting to answer questions.


Resource Person(s): Mike Barros, Director of the City of Durham Department of Community Development


County Manager's Recommendation: Hold a public hearing on January 28, 2008 to receive citizen comments on housing and community development needs.


11.   Public Hearing—Plan Amendment, Epcon Neighborhood (A07-13)

                                                                                                                                                             20 min.

To conduct a public hearing on a plan amendment for Epcon Neighborhood (A07-13); and to approve the requested change to the land use designation on the Future Land Use Map of the Durham Comprehensive Plan from Low-Medium Density Residential (4-8 DU/Ac.) to Low Density Residential (4 DU/Ac. or Less).


City-County Planning Department Recommendation: Denial, based on the request not being justified and not meeting one of the four criteria for plan amendments.


Planning Commission Recommendation: Denial, 5-6, November 13, 2007, based on information provided in the staff report, the request not being justified and not meeting one of 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 A07-13.


12.    Public Hearing—Zoning Map Change—Epcon Neighborhood (Z07-26)

                                                                                                                                                             15 min.

To approve a request for a zoning map change for a 32.84-acre site located on the west side of Farrington Road, south of Ephesus Church Road, and north of Wendell Road.


Request: RS-20 to PDR 4.500.


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 denial, based on inconsistency with the Comprehensive Plan and considering the information contained in this report.


Planning Commission Recommendation and Vote: Denial, 5-7 on December 11, 2007.  The Planning Commission finds that the ordinance request is not consistent with the adopted Comprehensive Plan.  The Commission does not believe this request is reasonable or in the public interest in light of the information in the staff report and comments received during the public hearing.  The Commission recommends denial based on problems with traffic congestion and inadequate transportation infrastructure.


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


13.   Public Hearing—Plan Amendment—Angier Haven II (A07-10)

                                                                                                                                                             10 min.

To conduct a public hearing on a plan amendment for Angier Haven II (A07-10); 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-Medium Density Residential (4-8 DU/Ac.).


City-County Planning Department Recommendation: Approval based on the justification and meeting the criteria for plan amendments


Planning Commission Recommendation: Approval, 9-3, November 13, 2007, based on information provided in the staff report, the justification, and meeting the 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 A07-10.



14.  Public Hearing—Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Text Change—Conservation Subdivision Technical Change (TC07-16)

                                                                                                                                                               5 min.

Receive public comments on Text Change—Conservation Subdivision Technical Change (TC07-16) and adopt an ordinance amending the Unified Development Ordinance, incorporating revisions to Article 6, District Intensity Standards.


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


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


15.   NCDOT Public Hearing for the FY 2008-2009 Community Transportation Grant—Application Request

                                                                                                                                                            10 min.

The Board authorizes the submission of the FY2008-2009 Community Transportation Program grant to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).  Durham County's Community Transportation Program provides transportation services for elderly and disabled citizens and for transitional Work First and general public employment transportation needs for Durham County.


The revenue from this grant and expenditures required of the County will be budgeted in the FY2008-2009 budget for Coordinated Transportation.  Cooperative Extension has applied for these grant funds annually through NCDOT since 1999 to purchase vehicles and to subsidize the administrative costs associated with the Community Transportation Program.  A public hearing is required for this application. 


The Community Transportation Program grant application requests $215,751 from NCDOT.  The Department of Transportation requires a local match of $26,498 to be appropriated in FY 2008-2009 budget.  This represents a $4600 increase from fiscal year 2007-2008.

      Requested Budget

·     Administrative                                       $98,451

Transportation Coordinator, Administrative Assistant and administrative supplies and support

·     Capital Expenditures                             $117,300        

Three Vehicles

Total                                                         $215,751


Resource Person(s): Delphine Sellars, Cooperative Extension Service Director; and Johnny Ford, Transportation Access Coordinator


County Manager's Recommendation:  Approve the resolution authorizing Durham County Cooperative Extension to submit the FY2008-2009 Community Transportation Program Grant to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.  The Board of Commissioners commits $26,498 for inclusion in the County's FY2008-2009 budget to meet local match requirements.


16.   Regulation of Solicitation on the Streets and Highways of Durham County

                                                                                                                                                             10 min.

After receiving information regarding the possible adoption of an ordinance regulating solicitation in the rights-of-way outside the municipal limits of cities in Durham County, the Board passed on January 14, 2007 an ordinance regulating solicitation on a 4-1 vote.  As the ordinance was not passed by a unanimous vote of the Board, the ordinance is required to be passed on a second vote.


        Resource Person(s): Chuck Kitchen, County Attorney


County Manager's Recommendation: Adopt the Ordinance as presented. 


17.   Closed Session

                                                                                                                                                             20 min.

The Board is requested to adjourn to closed session pursuant to G.S. § 143-318.11(a)(5) to instruct the staff on the position to be taken concerning the acquisition of real properties.  The properties and owners are Roger and Patti McClendon, owners 7408 Big Horn Drive; Neil and Catherine Frank, owners of 2306 Moores Mill Road; Roger and Lisa Tilley, owners of 1811 Tilley Farm Road; and the Aids Community Residence, owners of 4404 Guess Road.



                                                                                                                                                    3 hrs.

UNC Palestine Week: 1/28 - 2/2

     -- Please distribute widely --

palestine · week
        jan 28 - feb 2, 2008 

          at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Monday, Jan 28 · 7:00 pm · Hamilton 100
"Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People"
Reel Bad Arabs takes a devastating tour of the American cinematic landscape,
revealing an astonishing pattern of slanderous Arab stereotyping, and inspires us to
reflect crtically on Hollywoods love affair with Arab villainy and buffoonery. Discussion
to follow with Joseph Palis and Murat Es from Geography, and Srinath Jayaram from
Communication Studies.

Tuesday, Jan 29 · 7:30 pm · Student Union 3205
Israel and Palestine for Beginners
Always confused when people begin talking about Israel and Palestine?
Professor Sarah Shields from the Department of History will summarize the
development of this century-old conflict.

Wednesday, Jan 30 · 7:30 pm · Bingham 103
Tar Heels in Palestine
UNC students Sam Dolbee, Sarah Grossblatt, Shai Tamari, Hudson Vaughan, Haley
Koch, and Clayton Pfannenstiel reflect on their recent visits to the West Bank by
sharing their experiences, photographs, and evolving perspectives on Palestine.
Bring your questions and participate in what promises to be an often heartwarming,
sometimes heartbreaking, and always enlightening dialogue.

Thursday, Jan 31 · 5:00 pm · Student Union 3205
Apartheid, Anti-Semitism, Social Justice, Activism
Join in on a lively discussion with scholars and activists who will address current
critiques of Israeli policy with intellectual honesty. History professor Christopher F. Lee
will trace the origins of 'apartheid' in the context of South Africa and examine
whether its application in Israel/Palestine is analytically and politically useful; Duke
University's Rebecca Stein asks that we consider the question: "Is criticizing Israel
anti-semitic?"; and Rotary Peace Scholar Shai Tamari and Coalition for Peace With Justice's Mary Lou Leiser Smith will highlight effective and ineffective ways to serve as
advocates for a true peace with justice among both Palestinians and Israelis.

Saturday, Feb 2 · 8:00 pm · Great Hall
CONCERT: Hip-Hop for Palestine
When MC's have something to say, it is powerful. Hip-Hop and spoken word artists
from all corners -- from D.C. to Detroit, from Baltimore to Oakland -- are coming
through to perform for the Triangle community. As progressive artists, they bring
lyricism and story-telling to Palestinian solidarity. See these traveled MC's rhyme
about Palestine and connect it to other places and cases.

Sponsoring Organizations:

Solidarity with Palestine through Education and Action at Carolina   ·    
Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations    ·   
Middle East Student Forum    · 
Center for Global Initiatives Student Research Circle: Migration and the Media    ·   
ScreenArts    ·   
National Cinema Film Series    ·    
Graduate Association of Geography Students   ·   
Student Action with Workers    ·   
Psi Sigma Phi Multicultural Fraternity    ·   
Arab Student Organization    ·   
Persian Cultural Society    ·
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions - USA    ·    
Triangle Tikkun    ·   
Coalition for Peace With Justice    ·    
Muslim Organization of Students  Actively Integrating Carolina    ·   
Muslim Student Association    ·      
Students United for a Responsible Global Environment    ·   
Students for a Democratic Society    ·    
Carolina Production Guild   ·   
Media Resources Center    ·    
Women in Geography   ·

All events are free and enthusiastically open to the public. For additional information, please keep checking our updates on:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Help the Khamala family in Durham

The Khamala family needs help, having lost their home and possessions in a fire last Sunday.  Lori Khamala, expecting a baby soon and until recently the head of the NC branch of the National Farm Worker Ministry and very involved in campaigns by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the Justice @ Smithfield campaign of UFCW, was not at home at the time, but her husband was severely burned and last I heard their pets escaped the fire but some are lost.  Below is a letter and address for condolences and donations. 
Dear Friends and Colleagues:

A dear friend of mine and the past director of the NC Office of the National Farm Worker Ministry, Lori Khamala, suffered a terrible tragedy this morning when her house in Durham burned to the ground. If you don't know Lori personally, you'll likely remember her from being very active on the FLOC and Justice at Smithfield campaigns, someone deeply committed to workers rights and social justice.
Lori was out of town when the fire happened and was not hurt but her estranged husband, Khamala, is at the UNC Burn Center suffering from serious smoke inhalation and second and third degree burns. According to a neighbor with whom I spoke, there was a huge explosion at the house around 9:30 this morning. Apparently, Khamala took the animals out of the house shortly before the explosion. The dog is fine but the cats have not yet been located.
As you may know, Lori is nearly 8 months pregnant, due to have a baby girl on March 1. We just had a baby shower for her last weekend where over 40 people were in attendance and she was literally overwhelmed with love and gifts for her little girl. [ ]
Lori had just the other day finished organizing the nursery in preparation for her little one and now she's left with nothing. Her home and all her personal belongings are gone. And from what I understand, her husband Khamala is in very serious condition.
I want to take up a collection for Lori to help her get back on her feet. She's got many friends offering places to stay but she's going to need to find long-term housing since her baby is due in just a few weeks. She's going to need to replace all the baby items she lost in the fire, not to mention her own clothes, furniture, etc. But most of all, she's going to need lots of love and support during this incredibly difficult time.
Lori is one of the most generous, caring and genuinely positive people I know. Let's come together, as her friends and colleagues to help her make a fresh start. If you'd like to send a card or a check, please send it care of Libby Manly, 205 W. Trinity Avenue, Durham, NC 27701 Checks should be made payable to Lori Khamala. Please put attention Lori somewhere on the envelope.

Libby Manly

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kucinich to drop out today + local updates

Kucinch to drop out of presidential race
In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich said he will officially leave the race Friday, and will not endorse another Democratic candidate.  Our local NPR station reported this, saying he added "color" to the (very few) debates he was allowed to participate in, because he admitted to seeing a UFO (and we know how NPR reports about UFO reports, based on their story a week or two ago about the Texas UFO), wants a Department of Peace, and voted against the Iraq War, in that order.  The BBC was more straightforward. The Black Agenda Report has a good article on how the media has treated Kucinch and his real progressive message, online at     
I'm surprised and disappointed about the end of the campaign, though he has not done very well so far and I've heard that he has several contenders for his seat in the House.  Since he is left-liberal on many issues, and has been for a long time, he was my obvious choice since I am willing to vote in the Democratic primary, and maybe I will vote for him anyway.  I will look at the other candidates again, but I think I rejected Mike Gravel because he is for a national sales tax and is against undocumented immigrants, if I remember his positions correctly.  I like John Edwards' populism, but I doubt he has changed that much and he could be an opportunist.  His opposition to the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository doesn't appeal to me, since I would prefer more nuclear reactors if the alternative is burning fossil fuels and building large hydroelectric dams.  I haven't heard much specific from Barack Obama and "change we can believe in" is an empty slogan with him.  The only change I really believe in is socialism, and the left of the Democratic Party offers more reforms than Obama, who I see as only more of the same.  Hillary Clinton is definitely an establishment warmonger, pro-Iraq War, pro-Israel, opportunist, etc.  I expect she will continue many of Bush's policies and possibly get us into a war with Iran if she wins.  Obama is for war in his statements about intervening in Sudan and Pakistan.  Edwards has apologized for his vote for the Iraq War when he was NC's Senator, but would he have done so if the Iraqis had not put up a fight?  I doubt it, in which case he is not a convert to anti-imperialism.  
I like some of what Ron Paul says, but I'm not planning to register as a Republican to vote for him.  I would consider supporting him in the general election, but a capitalist left party like the Greens is both anti-war and better on domestic issues, from my point of view, than Paul, and there are anti-capitalist parties competing (though they are non-Marxist, Trotskyist, or revisionist).    
I should emphasize that I think the US needs a real working class party, embodying working class demands, and even the left of the Democratic Party is a prop for capitalism and imperialism.  I vote because I have the opportunity, if the election is fair, to support small changes in the system and an administration less enamored of committing war crimes, but I would prefer a better choice.  Even if Kucinich won, he would not bring the changes we need, though I think his administration would offer us better bread crumbs from the table of capitalism than Clinton, Obama, Edwards, or any of the Republicans.  US workers are the majority and the source of America's wealth, so we should not settle for crumbs, and imperialism is against our democratic values and self-interest.      
Unfortunately many Marxist parties boycott elections or are too weak to run candidates from state or national office.  Boycotting elections is a legitimate tactic, but I think communists should run for office, starting at the local, state, and Congressional levels. The electoral process is biased in favor of the Democrats and Republicans though, and it would be foolish to assume the capitalist establishment would allow a socialist government to be elected.  They could use biased rules, dirty tricks, paramilitaries, a fascist takeover, or a coup to stop a revolution through the ballot box (or flawed electronic voting machine).  They already use the first two techniques in the USA.  But I think it is also foolish to not participate in a process most Americans still trust and which would be ideal if it were done without bias.  It would also be wrong to identify too closely with a Democratic or any other capitalist party candidate.      
Weekly peace rally starting in Raleigh 
Every Friday there will be a permitted protest at the Federal building in downtown Raleigh, on the 300 block of New Bern Avenue, from 4-6pm.  There is or was a regular vigil at NC State's Bell Tower around that time every Friday.  For more information, contact williamhcooley84 at yahoo dot com. 
Durham BORDC meeting Saturday
BORDC is meeting at 3pm at the North Branch Library Saturday. 
Video from the anti-torture protest in Smithfield
Independent Voices will be showing its report this Sunday at 6:30pm at the Raleigh Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. 

Articles of impeachment against Bush on the 28th

Dennis Kucinich is going to introduce articles of impeachment against Bush on the 28th, when Bush will be giving the State of the Union speech.  This is similar to the articles against Cheney the Congressman introduced in November, which the Republicans voted to bring to a vote in the House, but the Democrats (including Rep. Price) won in the end and sent the bill to the House Judiciary, where it languishes.  Unfortunately Kucinich is going to officially give up his presidential campaign Friday and faces a fight to retain his seat in the House.   
Below is an article from the New York Times, reposted at

Kucinich Starts New Impeachment Drive

by David M. Herszenhorn

Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio may get excluded from Democratic presidential debates, as he has been recently, but no one can deny him the floor in the House. 0124 03

And today Mr. Kucinich took to the floor to fire off his latest salvo at the Bush administration: his plans to introduce Articles of Impeachment against President Bush on Jan. 28 - the day of Mr. Bush's State of the Union speech.

Accusing the administration of lying about the need for the war in Iraq, Mr. Kucinich said he did not need to hear the president's assessment. "We know the State of the Union," he declared. "It's a lie."

He also fired a volley at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California
who has maintained that impeaching Mr. Bush is not on the table for Congressional Democrats. "If impeachment is off the table," Mr. Kucinich said, "truth is off the table. If truth is off the table
then this body is living a lie."

Mr. Kucinich introduced Articles of Impeachment against Vice
President Dick Cheney last April and in November, with the surprise help of Republicans seeking to embarrass the Democrats, he nearly succeeded in securing an hour of debate on the House floor. House Democratic leaders blocked that, however, by referring the impeachment effort back to the Judiciary Committee.

Anti-Bush groups have been urging Mr. Kucinich to undertake an
effort to impeach the president.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

South Regional Library Community Forum Thursday

Very soon, I think within 1 or 2 years, the Parkwood Branch Library is going to be replaced by a new South Regional Library to be built at the site of the old Lowes Grove Elementary School. That site will put it close to several schools and workers in RTP, and the building will be brand new and specifically designed for a library, unlike the current location, but I am sad to see it go. It is a fixture of its community and seems more walkable and bicycle friendly for more people currently than it will be on Alston Avenue. One can walk or ride along 54 to the new site, but the road is high-speed and often congested, the shoulders are small or non-existent, and there is not a sidewalk most places. 54 west of Barbee Rd. is an accident waiting to happen because of narrow shoulders, lack of sidewalks, and a lot of pedestrian traffic. The Library system might not have a choice about this, because I have heard that the church that owns the current building plans to get rid of all of the tenants in the Parkwood Shopping Center. Nonetheless, again the County is contributing to over-reliance on cars, but at least the site will not be carved out of an undeveloped area and is close to TTA and DATA bus lines.

[Apparently the flyer below did not translate on to the blog. The forum is Thursday, the 24th, I think at 7pm, at the Parkwood Branch Library.]

Wednesday: Is Iran a Threat to Peace?

Balance & Accuracy in Journalism (BAJ) is hosting a panel discussion on Iran in Chapel Hill Wednesday evening.  UNC Palestine Week is next week, but more on that later. 
Wednesday January 23rd, 7:30 pm at
The Community Church, 106 Purefoy Road Chapel Hill
-  see below for directions
Balance & Accuracy in Journalism, with co-sponsors:
UNC  Middle East Student Forum
Carolina Interfaith Taskforce Connecting the Americas
and the Charles Jones Peace and Justice Committee
IS  I R A N   A   T H R E A T   T O   P E A C E ??

Three peace advocates offer their perspectives on the
current international crisis between the United States and Iran.
Rostam Pourzal
an independent researcher and organizer for human rights,
Pourzal has been a frequent guest commentator on Iran for US
news media. He is president of the organization,
Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran.
Simin Royanian
member of DC Labor Committee on Peace and Justice, and also
the Northeast Feminist Scholars. Royanian is co-founder of
Women for Peace and Justice in Iran, and has been an active
advocate for peace and women's rights in Iran since 1967.
She most recently visited Iran in July/2007 (
Phil Wilayto
community and anti-war organizer in Richmond, Va. Wilayto is a
longtime activist, whose involvement includes helping organize
anti-war GIs during the Vietnam War. In July 2007, he toured Iran
for 11 days meeting with students, clerics, peace activists & others
to build peace between Americans and Iranians.
Some materials, including a DVD on related issues will be
for sale at the program.
Tour organized by American Friends Service Committee.

Directions to the Community Church:
106 Purefoy Road, in Chapel Hill
take 15-501 [or 54] to the 15-501 Pittsboro exit
As you exit, TURN at the traffic light toward Chapel Hill.
Almost immediately, TURN RIGHT just short of the convenience store.
That's PUREFOY ROAD, and you take it almost a half mile,
passing side streets and curving left up the hill past speed bumps and
extra stop signs,
until you can just see the stop sign at the end of the street.
At that point, there is a driveway on the left
with a white-painted curb and a subtle sign for the church.
that driveway takes you to the parking lot and the Community Church.

We will also share CD copies of a talk by Stephen Kinzer on his book,
"All the Shah's Men" which gives a colorful account of the Mossadegh
government's path to democratic self-determination, and its overthrow
by the US in 1953.  This is shared by permission from the producer
of Alternative Radio, which airs weekly on WCOM (Tue morning 9-10 am
at 103.5 FM and streamed at
The Fayetteville State University station, WFSS, airs the program 3pm Sunday,
and all programs are available at for
a modest download fee.  AR is supported entirely by sale of programs
and transcripts to listeners.  Your purchase helps make "unimbedded"
perspectives available to public media, which get the program for free.