November 14, 2014

Had a kind of disappointing series of emails with a member of Durham City Council, someone who is by most markers a progressive, but who at one point said the following:

 I’d say that people who can convince others that they are a good bet get access to capital. Some get access to a whole lot of capital, because they convince a whole lot of others–or at least some with who have access to a lot of capital.

At no point in that email (or any other) did he acknowledge the fact that race, gender or social class might in any way affect people’s access to capital. 

In his original response to my email (the one posted to Tumblr yesterday), he said:

The incentives for large scale developers are based on what the developers will do–jobs, tax base increases and more. To get any incentive money, they have to perform. If they don’t, they get nothing. If they do perform, the incentive is paid for by a portion of their property tax. They don’t get the incentive until they’ve finished their improvements, increased the tax base and started paying increased taxes. Large scale developers are, in a way, funding their own incentives.

My question back to him, and to the rest of the City Council, to which I have still not received a response, was as follows:

I’ll confess that I don’t know as much as I should about how business taxes are structured in the city of Durham. So does every successful business get a discount on their taxes as a function of the value they’ve added back to the city? Does one’s tax rate go down for every new employee hired? Does one’s base rate go down in proportion to every dollar of additional taxable value one’s improvements add to a piece of property?
Because that actually sounds like a pretty interesting system, especially inasmuch as it could be used to incent people who are sitting on empty structures to actually put them to use. So is it applied across the board?
I’ll absolutely post followups here if/when I get an answer to that question.
In case these posts haven’t made it crystal clear: I believe that handing out millions of dollars in incentives to out-of-state developers now, at this point in Durham’s growth, is a terrible idea.
The city’s success thus far has been achieved, to a remarkable degree, by people and companies who are heavily locally invested. The out-of-towners are showing up now because they want to capitalize on all of that hard work done by others. Which is fine, up to a point, but I see no reason to promise them additional incentives for doing so.
It was really cold after the sun went down. We walked to Toast for dinner & the chill (not to mention the freezing wind) was undeniably wintry. Walking back home, we noticed a couple of folks sleeping rough in the doorway of the Bargain Furniture building. 
It’s never a good time to be homeless, y’all, but winter is a real killer. If you’re not already, please donate to Urban Ministries of Durham. They work tirelessly to feed, clothe & house Durham’s homeless (and unlike some other groups, they don’t lay an explicitly religious trip on people as a condition of receiving help).

November 14, 2014

November 12-13, 2014

I don’t intend to keep doing these double entries, and then fall back to triple entries, and then just give up entirely. But I have interesting days & thoughts, and less-interesting days & thoughts.

To wit: Wednesday the 12th I went to the dentist. I love my dentist, and will recommend her heartily to anyone who is looking for a dentist. Her name is Amy Gadol and she’s just absurdly enthusiastic about teeth.

But that’s not really something that I need to journal about at length.

Likewise the multiple hours I wasted on the phone Wednesday afternoon with AT&T trying, idiot that I am, to order a new phone. They have this program wherein you pay about half the price of a new phone in monthly installments spread out over a year, and then you can get a new phone every year. It’s a complete ripoff unless you’re an unbearable dork who wants to play with new toys every year.

Which apparently I am. AND I’m that unbearable dork who is still on the grandfathered “unlimited data” plan & thus it’s necessary to speak to a human at AT&T – and not just any human, but specifically one of the select subsets of humans who have access to the magic override codes.

All this despite the fact that I have never used more than 3GB of data in a month, and I could actually pay less if I just agreed to give up my unlimited plan & go with the 3GB plan. But I am a stubborn idiot.

See, none of this is worth writing a diary entry about. LIFE this week isn’t worth writing about.

Other things not worth writing a diary entry about:

  • Finally deciding to revert back to Linux for most of the backoffice machines at WXDU, and putting together an order for some sweet Lenovo small-biz servers. I’m a little sad I won’t get to play with one of the new black trashcan Mac Pros, but those things are absurdly expensive & are outfitted entirely to be graphics workstations (Two GPUs standard, when I’d be using exactly zero of them). I’ve disliked many things about using OSX as a server OS, so I’m moderately happy, even though I’ll have to rewrite a bunch of custom scripts and all the documentation.
  • Going back to the dentist Thursday morning to have impressions made of my teeth so that I can get one of those custom night guards that all the cool overstressed middle-aged people use.
  • Health coverage renewal time!

I’d write about how obnoxious that dude from the ESA is, with his stupid hideous lingerie-model shirt, but that’s been covered amply on Twitter & elsewhere already, and I have nothing much to add, other than to say “thanks for undercutting my excitement at your legit scientific achievement, douchebag.”

I’d write about TIME magazine putting “feminist” on a reader’s poll of words to ban, but I’m already stressed out & angry about stuff and it’s just them trying to emulate Buzzfeed or whatever anyway. They’ll be dead by the end of the decade, so enjoy the downward spiral while it lasts, dudes.

Other things not changing lately:

  • No grand jury outcome in Ferguson yet. 1000 cops being armed & trained to crack some protester skulls when the time comes.
  • Women on the internet being threatened, belittled & abused for speaking up about how difficult it can be to be a woman on the internet.

I tweet & RT about that stuff on the regular, so I feel like it’s not as necessary to recap it here. Follow me there if you want the daily blow-by-blow.

November 12-13, 2014