Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finding the Naked City

To answer Karina, who wrote:

"I sure wish this blog would attract some less nasty folk. (Why is it not listed under blogs on the website by the way?)."

You can find the blog if, upon opening CharlotteObserver.com, you click on the tab at the top labeled "Opinion" and then on blogs/columnists. Or click on the regular "Opinion" page and you'll see a listing for my Saturday op-ed column, and a teeny link to the Naked City blog.

I'm trying to convince the Web page designers to give this (and other blogs) more visibility. But for now, try bookmarking it, or or set up an RSS feed.

As to the tenor of the comments, let me remind everyone I police the comments and remove insulting or crude ones. If you disagree with me or with anyone else, that's fine. It helps provoke discussion. If you insult me or others or use profanity (even with ** for letters) or discuss the uses of corncobs or call people hillbillies or rednecks or other insults, your comments will be deleted. Stay civil and we'll all have a better time.

Finally, another reminder that one day soon, this blog will migrate from blogger.com onto a CharlotteObserver.com platform and you'll have to register and provide a name for your comments. So no more comments from "anonymous."

11 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Well you obviously have no sense of humor at all. All i have to say to that is *** **** * ** ******** ** * ***** *** ***** ***!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Our posts may no longer be anonymous, but I can guarantee you I won't be using my actual name to post here.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

For Pete's sake people, finding the Naked City is not rocket science stuff.

If all fails, just go to Google and search for "Mary Newsom Naked City". Yeah, I realize you may have to expend a little bit of energy with all that typing, but it will never fail to get you here.

Anonymous said...

Let's all be lovey-dovey, hug old buildings and hate cars & yards. Otherwise, Mary will censor you.

Marc Hanes said...

"Our posts may no longer be anonymous, but I can guarantee you I won't be using my actual name to post here."

This is completely true and why, in my opinion, blogging does not foster any true, lasting sense of "community." Who has the time to slog through innumerable childish posts by outliers with an axe to grind posting under anonymous?

Beyond that, the inherent value of blog-inspired discussion is dimmed by not providing "cover" for those with valuable input who may put themselves at risk by revealing their identity. This is why investigative journalism protects their sources.

I am new to the Charlotte area and, yes, from the north. I am reading blogs such as this one to glean some sense of what's happening "on the ground." But, and forgive the untoward language, "opinions are like assholes, everybody has one." As my very presence here attests, Charlotte is a place very much in flux and, as such, it will galvanize the opinions of the extreme opposite poles. I hope that the voice of the center will speak out to be heard and do so with something substantive to add. I suspect that it will be many years before today's Charlotte finds its true self and direction, perhaps a decade or more. Well considered thought may go a long way towards getting there.

Anonymous said...

Mary, your Urban Outlook column in today’s printed Observer was spot on as regards the means – often inequitable and unprincipled – by which rezoning decisions are made locally. (By the way, and this may have been pointed out earlier, your Saturday column is difficult to find online at CharlotteObserver.com.)

Yet I’m surprised that you didn’t mention the ethical problem that taints many of these decisions. The only hint that something shady could be going on is when you quoted your source as saying “[Developers] know who on City Council they can count on.”

I’m not saying that something shady IS going on. I’m saying that it’s a fact that developers often make contributions to city council political campaigns. The records are available at the Board of Elections for all to examine – including Observer reporters from whom we’ve heard too little on this subject. When one goes through them and tallies up the money given to individual councilpersons, and then looks back at how they voted in some recent controversial rezoning decisions, something is amiss.

Sure, developers can make contributions same as you or me, as long as they stay within the rules. And a vote for a development by a councilperson doesn’t necessarily mean their decision was based on largess. But more importantly, city council also has written ethics rules, which they are supposed to follow.

These require a councilperson to recuse themselves from a vote on a public matter if a conflict of interest exists, or could be perceived as existing. If I were a councilperson, I certainly wouldn’t want to give the appearance that my vote may be linked to the fact that the developer in the particular rezoning petition contributed thousands of dollars to my campaign. Yet in one such rezoning vote last year, officials who had recently received campaign cash from the developer cast votes either pro or con (but predominantly pro developer), without a mention of a possible conflict. Surely this wasn’t an isolated case.

I don't know what the effect of recusing 4 or 5 councilpersons from a rezoning vote will be. I do wonder if timely discovery of such an undisclosed vote would be grounds for a neighborhood to appeal, and possibly overturn, such a decision?

In any event, neighborhoods seldom have the resources to investigate the possibility of wrongdoing. Presumably the Observer does. Just where are those investigative reporters?

Anonymous said...

Marc Hanes,

As a Charlotte resident of 36 years, I wanted to let you know that my wife and I will sleep a lot sounder tonight, knowing that this city is attracting intelligent, responsible,and involved people like you.

I'm a transplanted Northerner married to a native Charlottean. My wife says she doesn't need to know which church, synagogue or mosque you attend, or don't attend. She just asks that you participate as fully in possible in civic life. We need people like you.

Jumper said...

"It's my property and I ought to be able to do with it what I want!"

There are a few exceptions to this rule, and some easily illustratable reasons why regulation sometimes supercedes lawsuits.

Property owner "a" builds an addition to his house right up to his property line. No problem, right? But property owner "b" adjacent, decides to build a pool two feet away, on his side, next to a's addition. In the course of digging the hole, a's new addition slides over and down into b's pool excavation. Who pays for a's damages? a or b? Answer: regulations were put in place after generations of these idiots kept clogging up the court system with cases like these, unanswerable by "common sense" or common law instincts. (If anyone thinks common sense is the only kind of sense they need, then they don't have any.)

Over the years ground water flows faster or slower beneath "a", "b", "c", and everyone else including "z"s properties. "m" decides to put a well in on his property and pump out water under his property. Unfortunately for everyone else, their wells dry up. "m" claims he only pumped water from his own property. What's wrong with "m"'s logic?

You and your neighbors want to get as many years out of your city's sewage plant as you can. After all, you paid taxes for years and managed to at least almost balance your city's budget. Now a carpetbagger wants to come in and hook 2,000 more homes to the city sewer system. He says you have no right to complain and that he is the victim in the situation. You don't really see him as the aggrieved victim, although you note that he is indeed aggrieved. Downright hateful, in fact. Who's right?

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