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Hopkins blasts PA, Reckhow

On the eve of Tuesday's elections, county commissioner candidate Steve Hopkins fired a verbal broadside at the People's Alliance and Commissioner Ellen Reckhow.

Accusing the PA of "Tea Party-like tactics," Hopkins accused the liberal political-action group of making race an issue in the commissioners race and making "wild accusations" about incumbent commissioners Joe Bowser, Brenda Howerton and Michael Page.

Durham's 751 South developers form a PAC of their own

Prospective developers of the controversial 751 South subdivision have created a political action committee of their own in time for the county commissioner elections.

On Friday, The Durham Partnership for Progress registered with the Durham County Board of Elections as an "independent expenditure political committee."

Treasurer is Rhonda Hall Sisk of 9222 N.C. 751, a residence owned by Southern Durham Development at the 751 South site that is also the company's registered office. Assistant treasurer is Tyler Morris, a partner in Southern Durham Development.

The filing forms list a $100 cash donation from Southern Durham Development as well as the company's in-kind contribution of $2,500 for services of Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh survey and robocall company.

In a formal statement, Southern Durham President Alex Mitchell said the PAC will make candidate endorsements "in the near future."

Three incumbent county commissioners running for re-election have been strong 751 South supporters and have said during the campaign that they would continue that support: Joe Bowser, Brenda Howerton and Michael Page. Candidate Rickey Padgett has said he supports the project "100 percent."

Mitchell's statement described the Partnership for Progress's purpose: "to foster a political environment in Durham that encourages equal opportunity, job creation, smart growth, new business and industry, affordable housing and education while protecting property rights."

It also alluded to "an alternate political action committee" that has made opposition to 751 South "their primary election issue." The Durham People's Alliance endorsed four candidates who oppose the project – Fred Foster Jr., Wendy Jacobs, Will Wilson and incumbent Ellen Reckhow" and listed candidates' positions on the project among the factors considered in making the PA's endorsements – along with "tax fairness, remedies for homelessness ... responsible government and the Constitutional Amendment."

INC sponsors Durham commissioner forums

The InterNeighborhood Council announced Thursday that it is holding two public forums for county commissioner candidates: one for Democrats March 28, one for Republicans March 29.

Durham holds a partisan primary for all five seats on the Board of County Commissioners May 8. Winners face off in the Nov. 6 general election.

Both forums will be held at the N.C. Central University School of Education Auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., candidate introductions at 6:45, forums 7 to 9.

Preservation Durham Director Bob Ashley will moderate, asking prepared questions and questions submitted from the audience. Information: Don Lebkes,, 919-403-0370; or Dick Ford,, 617-619-9994.

Track coach Beasley joins field for Durham County commissioner

Track coach and bail bondsman Omar Beasley (left) has put himself in contention for a seat on the Durham Board of County Commissioners.

Beasley registered his Committee to Elect Omar Beasley with the Durham County Board of Elections on Monday. He also has a campaign Facebook page at

A registered Democrat, Beasley is a former officer of the Durham Bail Bond Alliance and an assistant track coach at Jordan High School. He also coaches the Carolina Elite Track & Field Club.

Candidate filing for Durham's 2012 elections opens Feb. 13.

Wendy Jacobs starts run for Durham County commissioner

Former Durham Planning Commissioner Wendy Jacobs has registered a campaign committee with the Board of Elections, confirming expectations she would run for county commissioner.

"I have officially done that," Jacobs said Tuesday.

Durham Commissioner Bowser admits making job recommendations

Submitted by correspondent Virginia Bridges

Durham County Commissioner Joe Bowser reversed course this week and said he recalled making job candidate recommendations to at least three county supervisors

Last week, Bowser denied making such recommendations, beyond introducing a candidate to former Department of Social Services Director Gerri Robinson. 

Bowser's denial came after the county’s internal auditor, Richard Edwards, said two supervisors indicated Bowser recommended candidates for open job positions in their respective departments. 

Butler, Taylor seeking sheriff's job

Two unsuccessful former candidates have joined the incumbent's anointed in the running to be Durham County's next sheriff.

Tony Butler (right) and Roy Taylor (below left) have submitted written statements of intent to the Durham County Board of Commissioners, along with Chief Deputy Mike Andrews. Retiring Sheriff Worth Hill named Andrews as his successor of choice when he announced his resignation last week.

Butler, a minister who is a former deputy sheriff and state patrol officer, has run against Hill four times, most recently in 2010.

Taylor, who owns a private security firm, ran in 2010.

Andrews (right) joined the sheriff's office in 1979 and was appointed major in charge of day-to-day operations in 1999. Hill appointed him chief deputy in 2008.

Like Hill, all three candidates are registered Democrats, though Taylor ran as a Republican last year.

State law empowers county commissioners to appoint a successor to serve out the term of a sheriff who leaves office. Hill's term runs until December 2014.

Anyone interested in the job has until 8:30 a.m. Monday to submit a written statement of interest to Michelle Parker-Evans, clerk to the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

Candidates are also expected to speak during the commissioners' Monday morning work session.

Hill announced last week that he is retiring after 17 years as sheriff at the end of this year, citing concern for his wife's health.

County report advises no 751 South sewers

A Durham County staff evaluation has recommended denial of the 751 South developers' request for county wastewater treatment.

The county Board of Commissioners asked for an evaluation when Southern Durham Developers' design firm, Coulter Jewell Thames, made the request Sept. 1.

The report recommends denial because:

The proposed project, on N.C. 751 near the Chatham County line, is outside the county's current sewer service area and the county has no plans to extend sewer service to the area.

Providing service beyond the established area would probably disrupt the planning process for other property near the county's service area.

The county commissioners were expected to vote on the 751 South request at their Monday-night meeting. However, Dhamian Blue, attorney for a group of property owners opposing the development, has requested a temporary restraining order to block any county vote.

Blue's clients are suing Durham County, claiming that their protest petition against a 2010 rezoning for 751 South was improperly ruled invalid. The suit is currently on schedule for November trial.

Southern Durham had previously asked the City of Durham for connection to the city's water and sewer systems. The city denied any action until the lawsuit is settled.

No ruling today in 751 South lawsuit

Superior Court Judge G. Wayne Abernathy said today he hopes to render a decision in the 751 lawsuit "by the end of next week."

Abernathy said he needed time to study the cases attorneys had cited in their arguments over a motion for summary judgment filed by attorneys for Durham County and Southern Durham Development Inc. A group of southern-Durham property owners brought the suit against the county in 2010 over a ruling that invalidated their petition opposing Southern Durham's town-sized 751 South project.

The plaintiffs' attorneys oppose the summary-judgment motion, by which the defendants  acknowledge that they do not contest facts and request it be decideed as a matter of law.

Before adjourning this morning, Abernathy quoted a legal proverb: "Bad facts make bad cases."

"This case is replete with bad facts," he said. "I'd better leave it at that."

Woodard wants 'counterpunch' on Falls Lake perceptions

Durham officials aren't too happy about the image they think they have where the Falls Lake Rules are concerned. With some reason.

Some water-quality sampling, according to city and county reports, indicate that nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is actually declining in the lake. Some environmentalists, though, claim that Durham is only trying to weaken the regulations and cover up the dire condition in which it has put the drinking-water supply for 450,000 residents of Wake County.

"I worry that we're losing the perception battle with the public," City Councilman Mike Woodard said, at a meeting of council members and county commissioners this week. "We need to be able to counterpunch at all times."


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