Sunday, September 30, 2007

October 10th: What happened to government by the people?

The next Triangle Socialist Forum discussion, on electoral reform issues, will be Wednesday, October 10th at 7pm at the Chapel Hill Public Library (100 Library Dr.).  Why does the political system favor business interests and what can be done to give the public more control and choice? I'm hoping that someone from the Triangle Greens can participate to talk about how the system is rigged against third parties, especially in this state.  Possibly Democracy NC, a non-partisan election reform advocacy organization, will take up our invitation, and I also let the Bill of Rights Defense Committees know about the forum.  As with the discussion of class in America last month, this is a huge topic and we can only scratch the surface, so we will probably be revisiting this topic again soon.     

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Library fee update

Apparently the room fees have been changed again.  According to an article on the front of the Herald-Sun Metro section Wednesday, the fees are now $25 dollars for non-profit use of larger meeting rooms (but $50 for the Main Library's Auditorium), and double that for for-profit use. I think the rooms covered are the same as what was in the original press release I posted, and there will be free rooms at the Main, East, North, Parkwood, and Stanford L Warren libraries (but not at Southwest).  Refreshments are prohibited in the free rooms now.  As I said before, I think the County Commissioners need to explain why this is being done and the aim should be to make services as cheap or free as possible for the public.  It is an improvement for some relatively large rooms to remain free for use, and the reduced fee is also better.  I am posting this on both of my blogs because it is relevant for people in Durham and it affects the impeachment movement in Durham, which meets at a library.  
On a different note, I blogged about the new State amphibian a while back (on Durham Spark), and the NC Herpetological Society now has an online poll soliciting opinions on the State frog and salamander, at 

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Durham Library fee update

I have received more information about the Durham Library
room fees, which were implemented September 4th.  The 
Durham People's Alliance contacted the County
Commissioners and the Library Board of Trustees asking
about the policy and why they think fees are necessary.  
The PA might do more after its next
coordinating committee meeting later this month.  The
Library's advisory Board seems to be in favor of free use, but
the County Commissioners, or some of them, seem to
feel that the fees are needed for expenses associated
with the rooms, and the Commissioners originated this
idea.  There might be further changes, and there
was a working meeting on the 4th.  
Some rooms are still free.  I still think this
is a bad idea and cannot be justified by the charges
to use spaces in the Durham Public Schools, but it is an
improvement to leave smaller spaces free (at least for
now). A press release was sent out August 7th, but
irresponsibly ignored by the media.  The part below is on
 the room fee:

       # # #

       News Release

       Date:  Aug. 7, 2007


       CONTACT:  Jana A. Alexander

       560-0151 or jalexander at durhamcountync dot gov

       Durham County Library Policies Change Sept. 4

       . . . Meeting Rooms
During the process to create the library's
2007-2008 budget, the Durham Board of County
Commissioners directed the library to implement fees
for meeting rooms.  In the past, community
organizations could use meeting rooms free of charge
if they were not serving refreshments.  The library
charged a nominal fee of $25 for meeting room use if
the organization served refreshments; the fee was for
facilities maintenance.

Durham County Library will continue providing some
free meeting rooms.  However, effective Sept. 4, 2007,
the library will charge nonprofit organizations a flat
rate of $50 for booking one of the library system's
large meeting rooms for up to four hours.  The fee for
commercial enterprises and for-profit organizations
will be $100 for meetings that last four hours or
less.  There will not be a separate fee for

The meeting spaces that will require a fee include
the Main Library auditorium (capacity 150) and the
meeting rooms at North and East regional libraries
(capacity 100), Parkwood Branch Library (capacity 40),
Southwest Branch Library (capacity 50) and Stanford L.
Warren Branch (capacity 75).

The spaces that will remain available to the community
free of charge include Main Library's third-floor
conference room (capacity 40); and the study/tutoring
rooms at East and North regional libraries (capacity
8), Parkwood Branch Library (capacity 12); and
Stanford L. Warren Branch Library (three rooms, with
capacities of 2, 2 and 6).

"Throughout its history, Durham County Library
facilities have been popular meeting places for a
number of community organizations," said [Skip] Auld.  "The
new fee will help us to better maintain our

Late breaking information:  The City Council seems to
be considering changes to its position (stated in a 2003 resolution) of ignoring
immigration status except for those charged with serious crimes,
but the consensus is said to be to modify it, not repeal it. 
This might have come up at the Council meeting earlier in the evening.