Possum drop legal bill dropped on the state

Hey, do you remember the possum drop saga, in which McCrory kicked off his legislative agenda by allowing permits for everybody’s favorite hillbilly passtime?

It’s amazingly back in the news, as WRAL reports that PETA has won its bid to have the Wildlife Resource Commission pay its attorney fees:

“This decision backs up PETA’s position that the Wildlife Resources Commission issued the permit for this crude and cruel activity illegally in the first place,” PETA general counsel Jeffrey Kerr said in a statement. “The WRC compounded its unlawful conduct by filing a baseless appeal and sticking taxpayers with the bill.”

This ruling dates back to the original court case, which PETA won, but since McCrory later signed the possum drop legalization bill into law that victory has no bearing on the current or future legality of dropping possums.

So yeah, possum drops? We still cool.

751 South forced annexation clears first vote in the Senate

There actually are two surprises about this outcome: one, that it took so long (I lost count at six delays before it finally got to a vote).

And two? A big supporter of the bill is none other than one of Durham’s own Senators, Floyd McKissick:

But Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, backed the proposal, saying the developer has promised to abide by existing pollution regulations. Durham also would benefit from the economic development, he said.

McKissick is a Democrat (which is redundant, since I already told you he’s from Durham) who agrees with his GOP pals that Durham is best governed by a central bureaucracy rather than by its locally elected officials. I wonder, does he also have “friends” involved in the development project (as chief sponsor in the House Tim Moore does)?

Prior to a rewrite in the House, this bill was originally a completely different piece of legislation sponsored by Mike Woodard, who is now ironically among the few to speak out against it:

“Isn’t this what we have city councils for?” Woodard asked. “If you want to become the planning office or zoning commission for the whole state of North Carolina, vote for this bill.”

Expect the bill to pass its second, and final, Senate vote on Friday before it moves to McCrory for final approval.

Slow news week in Durham, big news week in Raleigh

Not much to write about in Durham this week, but If you’re interested in state politics, things are pretty nutso right now:

It’s time to fix the crime problem on the ATT

Dear city:

You need to fix this.

What has the city actually done about the crime on the ATT, anyway? We now have one camera on the entirety of the trail, and that is owned and operated by Capital Broadcasting. And what police efforts have helped make the trail safer? That’s a legitimate question, because I’m not aware of any. Lopez’s metric for success is pretty low:

“We’re still working on the trail,” Lopez said. “But all in all, I think it’s a lot safer than it had been by virtue of the fact that we’ve had less incidents.”

A lot safer? Really? And which of your programs specifically contributed to this outcome? After a couple of good crime months (in the winter and/or torrential rain season, I’d add) it’s what, mission accomplished time?

I don’t understand the city’s philosophy with respect to crime on the ATT. This isn’t just about stopping these specific incidents – it’s about allowing the trail to be a centerpiece rather than a mark of shame on the city’s reputation.

The ATT should be something the citizens of Durham can take pride in, because it really is a wonderful achievement and a defining feature of the city. But I guarantee, if you mention the ATT to anybody right now, the first response will be about the crime problem. It’s not “wow, you have that great bike and ped commuter artery running all the way through town!” It’s “wow, Durham sure has a lot of crime!”

Here’s the other thing: every time this happens, more people are scared away from the trail, and that makes things even worse. It’s the tragedy of the commons, because the rational choice for an individual person is to avoid the trail, even though every set of eyes on the trail would make it safer. Every time there’s a headline like this, the trail’s safety is further endangered.

Bell’s statement specifically frustrates me, because it shows he completely fails to grok the significance of making the trail safer:

“It’s unfortunate that it happened there, but I don’t want to differentiate where crimes occur in our community,” Bell said. “[The victim] could have been attacked on Fayetteville Street or University Drive. I would take that just as seriously. To me, a crime is a crime, and where it occurs isn’t as important as the fact that it occurred.”

But Bill, where crime occurs does matter. The trail is important for Durham, and making it safe enough that people use it now will pay off down the road, as increased usage deters future crime.

It’s time to stop messing around. Put up the cameras. You can use my tax money – don’t wait for CBC to do it out of desperation at your failure to deal with the situation. Put bike cops out there in the hours surrounding dusk. Hell, you only need a couple of them, so you can specifically target the really bad areas (like where the recent events happened).

Make the ATT a point of pride, as it deserves to be. Don’t let this garbage continue to drag Durham down.

Gotriangle’s “bike to the ballpark” event was pretty sweet

This past Sunday (July 14), Gotriangle hosted an event called “bike to the ballpark” which encouraged cyclists to ride to the Bull’s game. I went with the family, and it was pretty fun.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since we live quite close to the park, we decided to take the opportunity to swing by the Museum of Life and Science first to get a bit more time out on the road. Our route to the museum took us via Ellerbe and was essentially the first half of the route we used to get to the Eno a few weeks ago. The setup was pretty similar, but this weekend I towed the kid in the Burley Honey Bee behind my brand new Jamis Bosanova (from Durham Cycles) and the wife rode her Trek road bike rather than the hybrid.

I will point out that skinny tires suck on Ellerbe due to some root issues. The hybrid probably would’ve been smarter for my wife. There was also a ton of standing water and mud from the recent rain, which my fenders deflected from the trailer quite nicely.

On the way back to the park, I decided to specifically follow Durham’s posted bicycle route signage. Ellerbe ends at Trinity, and from there you can follow “bike path” signs which zig-zag around Washington, Corporation, etc and cut through Central Park on some sidewalks. I was left with a decidedly “meh” feeling about this – you only avoid a couple blocks of relatively low traffic roads this way. Next time I think I’ll skip the sidewalk tour and stick to the streets, even with the kiddie trailer.

We got to the park about twenty minutes before the first pitch, and it took a solid thirty minutes to get our bikes valet parked and get to our seats. I don’t know whether the turnout was greater than anticipated, but the workers were struggling to keep up with the influx of cyclists (I had read that there were 500 seats reserved for this particular event). It was really cool to see so many cyclists going to the game, though! I always love checking out some of the more interesting rides at events like this – at least one recumbent, an electric assist cargo bike, other funky things I want to own.

As part of the event, you could purchase special tickets which included a “goodie bag” – a gotriangle branded bell and a light, and some water bottles and such provided by retail partners. I always seem to need more of those safety lights, so I’ll put them to good use.

The actual tickets were the “cheap seats” in the outfield. In Sunday’s blazing hot sun, I found myself wishing for some shade, especially with the kid. Next time I’m thinking we should spring for the upgrade and sit behind the plate.

We left around the 7th inning, since the kid-o needs to be in bed by 8 or… bad things happen. On the way back home we ran into a couple of other cyclists who we followed all the way back to the house, and we were surprised to find out that they lived right down the street from us. As usual I was dragging a bit on the uphills with the trailer behind me, and the bratwurst and beer from the ballpark sure wasn’t helping anything.

At the end of the day it was a really nice evening on the bikes, and I really applaud the organizers for coming up with this event which seemed especially important in light of last week’s tragedy. A key component to making the roads safer for cyclists is to have more cyclists on the roads – the more we’re out there, the more drivers will be aware of us.

751 South forced annexation bill delayed… and delayed… and delayed…

Well, if you’ve been anxiously waiting to learn the fate of the 751 South forced annexation bill (and who hasn’t?), this has been a rough week for you. Originally scheduled for a Senate vote on July 10th, the bill has now been pushed back four times (as the Senate gets on with more important matters, such as the tax overhaul) and is presently scheduled for a vote tomorrow, July 17.

(Details on the 751 South saga can be found under the 751 South category)

The Herald-Sun posted an article about one of the earlier delays, which included the following from Durham senator Floyd McKissick:

“It’s not unusual this time of year where one chamber will set back or release some bills the other is concerned about, before they all end up on the calendar together,” he said. “It’s traditional horse trading.”

What are they trading? Who knows, but I’d expect this one to get done sooner or later, since removing local autonomy is what all the cool kids are doing in Raleigh these days. For example, the bill which will strip Charlotte’s control of its airport and hand it over to Raleigh-appointed bureaucrats just passed the House.

EDIT July 17:

Hey, guess what? Hope you weren’t expecting this to happen today either, as the vote was delayed for the fifth time. It’s now scheduled for tomorrow (July 18).

Stop! Hammer time

There’s an old saying: never bring a knife to a gun fight. But what about a hammer?

In two separate incidents over the past 24 hours, two victims were approached by suspects wielding a hammer a few blocks from Duke West Campus, according to Durham police….

The Durham Police Department is investigating if the incidents are related, which is unknown at this time.

Now, I know the DPD needs to be careful about making any kind of statements of certainty when talking to the media here, but… investigating if the incidents are related? I’m no Columbo or anything, but I can’t imagine there are roving bands of carpenter criminals scouring Durham.

Perhaps it’s a sign of how tough the economy is, when even criminals are forced to do without proper weapons.

Still, a hammer can be really dangerous, and if somebody tries to rob you with a hammer you pretty much already know he’s desperate and unpredictable from the get-go. Be safe out there, people.