Saturday, May 24, 2008


As we begin the unofficial start of summer, please take a moment to pause from your normal activities and honor those brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation.

The "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution, passed on Dec 2000, asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."

In case you want to see some data, here are the numbers through 2006.

Since that report, we have lost another 997 of our men and women, as of May 23d.

Taking a moment or two to remember is the least that we can do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Yes, we should vote, but should we subsidize the campaigns of those asking us for our votes?

On Wednesday evening, May 14, our Chapel Hill Town Council will hold a public hearing on a proposal to fund a voter owned elections. The details are here on the Town page. The idea is that candidates who voluntarily participate and qualify can receive a $3000 public grant as a council candidate and a $9000 public grant as a mayoral candidate. The Council proposal recommends allocating funding of $50,000 in the 2008-09 Recommended Budget that’s also being considered.

This is the same budget where our Manager recommends an 11% increase in our taxes. I won’t be to attend Wednesday evening, but if I were, I would raise several questions. Are we fixing a problem that really exists? Is campaign spending corrupting our local electoral process? In our last council election, the number one vote getter spent the least amount of money! If this isn’t one of our most pressing problems, should we raise taxes and fund political candidates, or should we address many other pressing needs like maybe using our dollars to add another firefighter or police officer?

We also should know how this program would keep someone from independently spending unlimited funds in support of, or opposition to a candidate or group of candidates. Our recent experience with opposition spending for the transfer tax ballot item shows the power of such dollars.

Finally, will this program result in more people running for office? I believe that our real problem is not raising funds, but folks having the time to serve and still meet their work, family and other obligations. Our Council should study this before implementing taxpayer-subsidized campaigns in Chapel Hill.

What do you think?

Monday, May 12, 2008


My wife and I attended our 40th Class Reunion at Howard University last weekend. A major topic of conversation was the announcement of our new president. The current president, H. Patrick Swygert (1994-2008) was a student when our class was in residence, earning a BA in 1965 and receiving his law degree with us in 1968, so he was a "friend" of many of us.

The debate was familiar - the Trustees ratified the recommendation of the selection committee chaired by Gen. Colin Powell and Richard Parsons, Chair of the Time Warner Board. The new president is Dr. Sidney Ribeau, currently the president of Bowling Green State University. Some were bothered that he had no prior connection with Howard and it would take him a long while to ramp up. Sound familiar? I guess many institutions and organizations have this debate.

The institution has only had two of the 15 former presidents receive degrees there. The current president has been there 13 years and has been president of two other schools. The first graduate president was there only four years and had many problems before leaving.

So back and forth it went, with no resolution on what model worked best. One classmate who is a dean elsewhere observed that after the long tenure of an "insider," an "outsider" has some definite advantages. I tend to agree. Is the reverse true as well?

The other topic of discussion was the absence of three of our more "well known/highly placed" classmates: The Prime Minister of Bermuda, the Mayor of Atlanta, and The Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Could have gotten real interesting!

I guess the 50th will be here before we know it!