This is it for my weekly column.
Bottom of the ninth, last licks. Which is awkward, because I never got around to writing about the next round of roundabouts planned for Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Never said what I think about the "Connect NC" bond issue on our March primary ballots. Didn't say that N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds, to preserve what's left of his integrity, should drop out as a candidate for re-election—or "retention"—in 2016.
The next three roundabouts, if built as designed, will be too big. They should fit within the existing intersections, not bulge out into adjoining properties. Like so much else that's been done on Hillsborough Street, the concept is fine, but the execution—the scale—is supersized. Here's hoping that when the bids come in, the price will also be too big, and the city council will put the roundabouts on a diet.
"Connect NC" is like a bond-issue parody. Does anyone seriously believe that this $2 billion grab bag of local goodies tossed together by Republican legislators are North Carolina's highest capital spending priorities? It's called Connect NC because, when Governor McCrory first proposed it, it was a transportation bond. Now, not one dollar for transportation. I'm voting no.
How desperate are the Republicans to retain their 4–3 majority on the state Supreme Court? So desperate that they changed the law so that Edmunds, a Republican whose term expires in December, could run against nobody in a so-called retention election. Oops, a three-judge panel just ruled that this Soviet-style election violates the state constitution. That ruling will be appealed to—LOL—the state Supreme Court. Bob Edmunds, do the right thing. Uphold the constitution. But first, remove the conflict of interest, and the stink on your judicial seat, by withdrawing as a candidate.
I've been writing for the INDY since the nineties as a freelancer, a staff writer for thirteen years, and for three-plus years as a columnist. I didn't keep count, but that's at least two thousand stories, essays, columns, and blog posts, as well as a poem or two. I've had my say. And it's been a privilege.
This was my second go-round as a journalist, interrupted by some years in politics and public relations. My first time, I worked for a daily newspaper and in public broadcasting and learned that it's not what you know, it's what your sources know. That's still the case.
But here's the difference between a traditional newspaper and the INDY. In the former, your sources tend to be elected officials, business leaders, and the PR flacks who tell you how well it's all going. Sure, he said, she said. But everyone, if he or she is in the know, says it's a great city, honest government, the businesses are growing, and the leaders far-seeing. Look, this one's even written a book!
At the INDY, we listen to those people. But we give equal consideration to the critics, the protesters, and those who dream of what never was and ask—as Bobby Kennedy famously did—why not.
So, from my earliest days at the INDY, we asked why not equal rights—and dignity—for our LGBT friends. I didn't start it. I was happy to get in on it. I was proud when we stated that we wouldn't treat the despicable Amendment 1 as "he said, she said," but would plant our flag on the side of seeing the people it would harm.
I'm proud that in 2002, when this country—and the mainstream media—couldn't wait to invade Iraq, we gave voice to the antiwar movement. I went to New York City in 2004 when five hundred thousand protesters marched at the Republican National Convention. I've never been more disgusted with the Democratic Party than when John Kerry, the 2004 presidential nominee, reminded everyone that he voted for the war before he voted against it—or was it the other way around?
We—I—haven't always been right. Over my objection, we endorsed John Edwards for Senate in the 1998 Democratic primary. But I myself was an Edwards enthusiast the second time he ran for president, in 2008. My mistake.
On the other hand, we were all over Occupy Raleigh in 2011, when the national Occupy movement defined the 1 percent and how they're screwing the rest of us. Occupy folks, who camped on the streets for weeks, will forever have my admiration. Likewise, the N.C. Stop Torture Now folks, who refuse to accept what the government has done in our name. Ditto the anti–death penalty groups. They fought for justice. I got to write about them.
Raleigh development? Finally, twenty years after my first story about transit-oriented development, Raleigh selected its first four transit routes—five if you count the rail corridor. Hallelujah! In 2006, I wrote a cover story, "Imagine Dix." Today, Raleigh owns the entire Dorothea Dix Hospital tract, with plans to make it a destination park.
You do win some.
This column is ending, but I'll be writing some longer stories for the INDY periodically, starting next month. The first one is on adjunct college faculty. Send me a note if you want to be a source.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Parting shots"