Latest reader comments

  • Reply to: Tuesday Twitter roundup   3 days 15 hours ago

    That is horrible... :)

  • Reply to: MLK, Jr.: The Other America   4 days 49 min ago

    "...in many areas of the South."

    This is the crux of our current struggle to enact voting rights legislation. Make no mistake, when Republicans opine about "states' rights," especially when it comes to the running of elections, it is an effort to reassert their power over minority voting. Make it harder, in any way they can, for African Americans and other minorities to have their voice heard in the choosing of our leaders.

    The white backlash must not be allowed to succeed.

  • Reply to: Sunday News: From the Editorial pages   4 days 21 hours ago

    About affordable housing, planning, and growth:

    Ryan Allen directs the Urban and Regional Planning program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, a city where the Metropolitan Council guides growth across the Twin Cities region. “The kinds of challenges that accompany rapid growth – transportation congestion, rising prices, those sorts of challenges – are not things municipalities can tackle in a siloed fashion,” he said. “They need a cooperative approach.”

    That approach is absent in North Carolina and unlikely to ever be put in place. Local governments don’t want to give up any of their control over land use. The state government is pouring out tax incentives to lure companies. And the Republican-led General Assembly is a fully owned subsidiary of corporate and development interests.

    It needs to be understood that local governments are not monolithic entities, and they have much less control over land use than (seemingly everybody) believes they do. But even more important than that, they are subject to a voting population that can't decide whether it wants powerful local government or a toothless one. They vacillate between the two constantly, and local elections are just as confusing and scatter-shot.

    In other words, even if municipal governments did want to regionalize, they would be voted out of office and said partnership dissolved, with the quickness.

    Last week in the Triangle offered an example of how growth is getting crazy. An investment group announced it would build a $1 billion bio-tech campus next to Research Triangle Park in Morrisville, a town already awash in high-paying tech and life science businesses. A few days later,a semiconductor manufacturer was reported to be eyeing the Triangle Innovation Point megasite in Chatham County to build what WRAL-Tv called “a project that could be worth as much as $30 billion and create as many as 10,000 jobs.”

    This comes after a year in which the Triangle landed a new Apple campus that will bring 1,000 jobs at an average salary of $187,000 and two major life science companies announced plans to spend a total of $2.55 billion to build or expand manufacturing operations in the Triangle.

    And that is the fulfillment of long-term planning put in place decades ago. Let that sink in, especially those of you who whine about the alleged lack of long-term planning.

    But those already here may not be so enthused about the growth if it’s not better managed. As it is, land use planning is Balkanized between counties and municipalities who see only their own interests in padding their tax base.

    As I've tried to explain to dozens of angry villagers during rezoning hearings, we only have a couple of tools in the toolbox for increasing revenue. And we must increase revenue, because inflation alone pushes our budgets up, every single year. Expanding (not "padding") the property tax base is critical, and so is increasing the number of houses/condos/apartments to meet market demand. I know that sounds like blasphemy to some, but it's the only way to keep prices affordable. Or less unaffordable.

    The late Anthony Downs, a visionary economist and expert on “smart growth,” predicted the toll of rapid growth in his 1992 book “Stuck in Traffic” and his 2004 follow up “Still Stuck in Traffic.” He foresaw the need for regional growth control and what happens when local governments resist it.

    “Adopting an effective strategy for regional growth management will require abandoning some politically sacred cows— particularly the untouchable sanctity of ‘local autonomy’ over land-use planning,” he wrote. ”But localities have no real power over traffic congestion, air pollution, overall open-space absorption, and shortages of affordable housing, which all occur regionally. In fact, leaving the solutions entirely to localities makes the problems worse.”

    He's not wrong. You're not wrong. But this simply cannot be accomplished. Even if local voters agreed to a regional approach (they most certainly wouldn't), Republicans in the NC General Assembly would block it. Unless they could claim control over such an entity, and that would be much worse. Planning would disappear completely, public input would be non-existent, and developers would have carte blanche.

    Back to the drawing board...

  • Reply to: Saturday News: Wayne to the rescue   5 days 11 hours ago

    is what we've heard for fusion power for a heck of a lot longer than 20 years. Fusion power is one of those pipe-dreams that will keep dazzling engineers and enthusiasts (not unlike the long-promised brilliance of AI, which also still hasn't actually materialized) well into our future. What we really need to concentrate on (and spend those billions of euros/dollars on) is expanding grid storage and site storage (think Tesla Powerwalls and similar technologies) of electricity and known, reliable renewable energy production (wind, solar, etc.) that will enable us to combat climate change and break our energy systems free of both fossil fuels and large, monopolistic energy corporations.

  • Reply to: Courts are for justice   1 week 19 hours ago

    As Deb Butler said on Twitter ...

    I don't know about the partisan hack part, but the rest is right on the money. It's as though the judges said, "Not my job" and then ducked for cover.