Hey parents, it’s time to play the DPS lottery!

That’s right, the DPS Magnet lottery is back! Registration runs through January 30th, and you can do it all on that there web site.

This is my first time actually playing the lottery, although I did write a bit about it last year. The long and short of it is that Durham has a number of pretty well regarded magnet schools with limited space, and for most people the only way to get in is via a lottery process (the most notable exception to this is for students who live in a “walk zone” near certain schools, who get either priority or automatic enrollment depending on the school).

The most coveted prize of all is free preschool, which is available at Watts and Morehead. If you happen to get into one of these schools, your preschooler wins taxpayer subsidized child care for 9 months (a prize which, I can tell you from personal experience, is valued at upwards of $10k).

Some people are interested in changing this, and personally I’d like to see some kind of needs based test to determine how much (if any) subsidy kids should be getting. The current system effectively creates incentives for parents to move into the “walk zones” near these magnet schools, and I’d argue that many e.g. Trinity Park residents aren’t so hard up for cash that they need taxpayers to foot their day care bills.

Welcome to the world of tomorrow!

So, hey, it’s 2015! Congratulations everybody, another successful orbit in the bag!

After a much needed break, durham.io is back and better than ever [read: basically the same as ever], and we’re resuming normal business hours this week. First, though, I want to quickly mention a couple of noteworthy stories that happened while I was off the clock:

  • It looks like the protesters took a vacation too. Obviously the grand jury decisions are still on peoples’ minds throughout the country, but Durham has been fairly calm; whether or not that’s just due to the holidays is unclear.
  • Although the protesters stayed home, there were still some troubling developments related to the DPD. Two officers were shot at, although neither was injured. One officer was off duty and somebody shot into his home, while the other was on duty in the projects near NCCU. Although Lopez claims one of the attacks was “an attempted assassination,” I haven’t seen any evidence to back up that claim yet.
  • Councilman Steve Schewel wrote a lengthy and well considered response to the recent protests, and I’d urge everybody to give it a read.

Also: I’m looking for ideas on whether to do another podcast and what it should be. I’ve got a couple ideas I’m kicking around for longer, single topics rather than the odds and ends, which I’m not sure worked so well. Just hit me up with a reply on the blog or shoot me a tweet if you’ve got any thoughts.

Durham news odds and ends, Durham.io podcast episode one edition

OK gang, this is a very special DNO&E: it includes the durham.io podcast episode one!

If you want to subscribe to the podcast, you can put this URL into your telephone.

This happens to be the last DNO&E of 2014, and possibly my last post period until after the holidays, so I hope you guys have a good Christmas or whatever.

And that’s that! Enjoy your holidays, people, the DNO&E sure will.

More protests, more arrests

In what’s becoming so frequent that it hardly deserves comment, protesters from Durham and elsewhere marched through town in response to recent grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson.

The only notable difference in last night’s actions was that the DPD actually managed to stop protesters from blocking the freeway altogether when they attempted to enter near Swift Avenue. Eleven people were arrested.

Earlier this week, the protesters headed south, disrupting traffic around Southpoint mall.

The Durham Fresh Market is now open!

I mentioned The Fresh Market briefly before, and now I’ll mention it briefly again: according to the Herald, the store is open for business:

The 23,400 square-foot store opened in Parkway Plaza Wednesday morning with a variety of activities, including chef demonstrations, food samplings, coffee giveaways and drawings for gift cards.

Parkway Plaza is the shopping center off University near MLK, one block south of the Super Target (which is on the former site of South Square Mall). The Fresh Market promises to be the new anchor for the strip mall, which fell upon somewhat hard times following the loss of its anchors Food Lion and K-Mart.

I can’t find any mention of the opening on The Fresh Market’s own web site, and I’ve seen coverage only in the Herald-Sun so far, so I don’t know if they’re operating at full capacity / hours yet. If you get a chance to check it out, let me know about your experiences in the comments section.

Durham’s grocery store situation seems to really be on the upswing; this is at least the third grocery store to open since last fall (along with the Ninth Street Teeter and Compare Foods on Miami). The Durham Co-Op Market on West Chapel Hill St. is also slated to open in January.

Protesters hit up downtown, block the Durham Freeway again (Updated)

[NB: this post has been and may continue to be substantially updated as new information is made available]

Protesters of the recent grand jury decisions, in addition to Chapel Hill anarchist groups, rallied in Durham on Friday night. After gathering in the CCB plaza, they eventually moved on to block the freeway, marching through the streets near the DPAC and the police station for hours before some thirty people were arrested following vandalism and failure to disperse. There was only minor vandalism and property damage, but after the events were over the DPD did find an unused Molotov cocktail near Foster and Geer.

I happened to spot a group of protesters from the lobby of the DPAC (John Oliver was pretty great, for the record, although apparently he re-used a lot of material from his last visit):

Note that the particular crowd in this photo appears to include the Chapel Hill groups I talked about previously, easily identified by their signature “cops are liars” banner.

It seems as if a group of Durham residents gathered at the CCB plaza early in the night, showing solidarity in response to recent events elsewhere in the country. They were joined by the Chapel Hill anarchists, and the two groups commingled. Following that, the combined group started marching, eventually blocking traffic and causing minor property damage.

I think it’s worth pointing out here that the Council has been really aggressive in addressing some of the systemic biases that have been identified in the DPD over the past year, and the new policy requiring written consent for vehicular searches is a powerful reaction to the problems in the department. The events following Huerta’s death really brought the issue of racial profiling to the forefront, and there’s been a pretty solid response to the concerns brought to the Council by community leaders, which you can read about in none other than the New York Times.

Oh, and I really dig the bike cop representation here. Way to stay fit and mobile at the same time, DPD.