The morning after

Dear Friends,

Yesterday Deb McManus won the Democratic primary race in NC House District 54. We have sent her our congratulations and wishes for success in the fall general election contest.

With your help we ran a positive grassroots campaign that focused on critical issues. But we underestimated our opponent’s powerful political and financial resources. The McManus campaign raised half of its funding from large donors we didn’t have access to, including Lillian’s List (for women candidates only) and gambling proceeds from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (of which she is a registered member).  Her campaign hired a professional political consultant and had under-the-radar support from well-connected district party leaders, who shifted her get-out-the-vote campaign into high gear at the eleventh hour.

I have no regrets about our efforts.  We do not know exactly what role Amendment One played in the results, except that an unprecedented surge of voters came to the polls with no knowledge of our race or the distinct differences between the candidates.  I have never experienced anything like this before.

I am forever grateful to everyone who supported our efforts through personal contributions, volunteer hours and votes. The most rewarding aspect of the campaign was the opportunity to work with an extraordinary team of friends, and to meet so many new people, who share a commitment to strengthen our community through progressive and forward-thinking policies.

We attracted early support from a slew of current and former elected officials, and won endorsements from all the major organizations that compared both primary candidates. And we received generous support from more than 150 individuals.

We put together a talented team of volunteers who did amazing work. Together, we produced excellent materials, and executed effective strategies. We knocked on hundreds of doors and got tremendous responses.  And we had a series of inspiring neighborhood gatherings where I had a chance to listen to our supporters’ hopes, dreams and concerns.

My family made many sacrifices to support my candidacy. That starts with Dee, whose love kept me going and whose effective communication skills strengthened every message.  I’m proud of my daughter Emily Tinervin, who turned out to be a formidable campaigner. She and her husband Scott, and our granddaughters Ryan and Emery, inspired us every step of the way.  As always, among our most generous volunteers and supporters, I’m pleased to count Linda Starkweather and her husband Ned Kelly. And my parents’ values, support and love influenced this campaign throughout.

The last eight years of grassroots political campaigning have been rewarding in many ways but most of all because of the opportunity to get to know and work with so many selfless citizens. Now I look forward to quality time with family and friends, and enjoying life in this special place, while we figure out what the next adventure will be.  I am deeply honored to have taken this journey with all of you.

With warm regards,

Jeff

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Progress Dems endorse Jeff Starkweather

News Release/Progressive Democrats of NC endorse Jeff Starkweather for NC House District 54:

The Progressive Democrats of North Carolina (PDNC) are pleased to announce the endorsement of Jeff Starkweather for NC House District 54. Jeff Starkweather’s platform is solidly progressive, and his long history in Chatham County politics and community organizing supports his claim to be THE progressive candidate in this primary. His passionate commitment to sustainable growth policies that are solidly rooted in the community, his tireless efforts for clean renewable energy and green building practices, his forceful and informed voice against the dangerous practice of fracking, his unwavering support for public education and strong schools for all, and his decades-long record on human and civil rights make Jeff Starkweather a candidate the Progressive Democrats of North Carolina can whole-heartedly support.

The Progressive Democrats of North Carolina are committed to the development and implementation of progressive ideals based on human and civil rights, peace, justice and environmental sustainability in North Carolina, the nation, and the world.

www.progressivedemocratsnc.org

Join me at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Jeff and Siglinda at the Goathouse Refuge

I had a delightful and informative tour of multi-talented Siglinda Scarpa’s amazing Goathouse Refuge and Gallery this week.

What an incredibly designed and staffed cat and kittens rescue operations she designed at her home off Highway 87 on Alton Alston Road about five miles north of Pittsboro. It was more like a complete cat city than what I imagined.  Given her passion and compassion for caring for unwanted cats of all ages, medical needs or temperament,  I was not surprised to read on her web site that this was her childhood dream.

I had such an enjoyable visit that I plan to return this Saturday April 28 sometime between 2 and 5 pm for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party fundraiser. I have already had some of Siglinda’s natural herbal tea.  Please join me to help this worthy cause and enjoy lively music, larger-than-life Jan Filer puppets and your fill of Cheshire Puss Tea, Jabberwocky wine and Alice’s favorite desserts. Ticket price is $50 but will be deducted from the purchase of a Siglinda Scarpa teapot.

However, I was there for was for more serious cat business.  Siglinda asked me to look into two possible legislative initiatives: abolishing euthanasia for cats via carbon monoxide and providing free spaying and neutering for low-income cat owners. I told Siglinda that her initiatives sound reasonable and that I would try to learn what other progressive and animal welfare supportive states have adopted to see what appropriate policies might look like.

I have learned that  a large number of states prohibit carbon monoxide gas chambers, in large part, because it causes a slow and painful death. It can take up to 25 minutes before a cat expires.  Most states authorize injection of sodium pentobarbital or a similar agent. This is quick and painless.   I would certainly be willing to pursue this further if I am elected to the legislature.

As to the issue of spaying and neutering, it appears that most of the states have extensive community based non-profit run free spaying and neutering . It was not clear to me if these were financed by state or local government. So, I agree with Siglinda that the best way to prevent euthanasia of unwanted and abused cats is to promote spaying and neutering programs that are free or affordable to all.  I am committed to exploring how to provide free spaying and neutering services through the cooperative efforts of state and local government and the non-profit animal welfare organizations.

Sierra Club endorses Jeff Starkweather for State House

The N.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed Jeff Starkweather for NC House District 54 because of his lengthy track record promoting environmental protection, renewable energy and sustainability, and his opposition to fracking.

Jeff Starkweather is a strong environmental advocate who has a long history of working for environmental causes in Chatham County and North Carolina as a whole. His key environmental positions include promoting alternative energy and its use in North Carolina, strengthening North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Standards, opposing changes in laws to allow fracking for natural gas until its economic benefits are proven to outweigh its environmental costs, and searching for ways to collaborate with citizens and environmental experts to make North Carolina a model of sustainability,” the Sierra Club stated in its announcement.

Jeff has now received endorsements from every major organization that has compared his positions and track record with his opponent’s. He is endorsed by: The Independent Weekly, the State Employees Association of NC, the Sierra Club and the NC AFL-CIO.

He is also endorsed by 17 current and former elected officials on county, municipal and school boards in Chatham and Lee counties.

And he has the support of Women for Jeff, a campaign advisory committee comprised of more than40 active women in Chatham and Lee counties.

Vote Early April 19-May 5

You can register and vote at the same time, during the one-stop early voting period at the following locations:

Chatham County

  • Pittsboro:  Board of Elections, 984 Thompson St. (in the office complex on US 64 Business across from the Post Office): M-F 8 am–7 pm, Sat. 10 am–3 pm
  •  N. Chatham: at Chatham Downs, near the Harris Teeter: M-F 10 am–7 pm, Sat. 10 am–3 pm
  • Siler City: Earl B Fitts Center, 111 S. Third Ave:M-F 10 am–7 pm, Sat. 10 am–3 pm

*For more info: Chatham Board of Elections 919-545-8500

Lee County

  • Lee County Board of Elections,  225 S. Steele St, Sanford: M-F 8am-5 pm; Sat. May 5, 8 am-1 pm
  • McSwain Agricultural Center, 2420 Tramway Road, Sanford: M-F 8-5; Sat May 5, 8 am-1 pm

*For more info: Lee County Board of Elections 919-718-4646

On Election Day, Tues. May 8, you must vote at your precinct polling place*.

State Employees endorse Jeff Starkweather for State House

EMPAC, the political arm of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, announced that it is endorsing Jeff Starkweather in the State House District 54 Democratic primary contest.

Starkweather was among fourteen Democratic and four Republican state house candidates across North Carolina endorsed by EMPAC, along with five Democratic and five Republican State Senate candidates.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of the state employees, especially since I had the pleasure of representing many state employees as an employment and civil rights attorney,” Starkweather said.  “It is particularly important at this time when state employees rights and compensation are under severe attack from state legislative leaders to have a representative who understands the importance of their work to our state’s well-being and economic prosperity.”

The endorsements resulted from recommendations from SEANC members at the district level, which were then confirmed by a statewide committee.  Both Starkweather and his Democratic primary opponent submitted answers to an EMPAC questionnaire and were interviewed by a district level committee of SEANC members.

“SEANC has no permanent friends or no permanent enemies, only permanent issues,” said state EMPAC  Chair Wayne Fish. “We chose to support these candidates because we feel they understand the importance of the valuable services our members provide.”

SEANC, SEIU Local 2008, is the South’s leading state employee association, 55,000 members strong. With 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North Carolina and includes over one million public employees who have united to improve their lives and the services they provide.

Vote por Jeff Starkweather para la Cámara Estatal de Representantes Distrito 54 en la elección demócrata preliminar el martes, 8 de mayo

Jeff y sus nietas

Mi nombre es Jeff y soy candidato para la Cámara Estatal para representar al Condado de Chatham y parte de la ciudad de Sanford. Quiero usar mis años de experiencia como abogado y periodista para luchar por los derechos de todos los residentes de nuestro distrito, incluso los de los inmigrantes.

Excelentes Escuelas / Proyecto de ley DREAM Act: Debemos invertir en la educación pública, desde los programas pre-escolares hasta el sistema de colegios y universidades, y promover la educación bilingüe. Yo apoyo la Ley DREAM y el acceso al estudio superior para todos los estudiantes, sin importar su estado migratorio.

Buenos Trabajos: Debemos apoyar a los negocios locales y atraer buenos trabajos para todos. Los inmigrantes contribuyen a la prosperidad de nuestro estado y merecen documentos legales para obtener empleos.

Cooperación de las Agencias de la Ley: Todos merecen la protección policíaca y ser tratados con respeto por los oficiales de la ley. Nadie debería de vivir con miedo de la policía o ser discriminado a causa de su raza o etnicidad. Yo creo en el acceso a las licencias e identificaciones para todos, de este modo nuestras comunidades y carreteras serían más seguras.

Reforma Inmigratoria: Somos una nación de inmigrantes y debemos apoyar un proceso para obtener la ciudadanía para los inmigrantes que ya se encuentran en el país. Éste es un asunto que el gobierno federal tiene el deber de solucionar.

Unidos podremos restaurar una sociedad justa y próspera para todos. ¡Su voto es su voz, hágase contar! ¡Espero contar con usted el 8 de mayo!

“Yo confío en Jeff por su compromiso hacia la justicia y derechos humanos para todos. Jeff me ha apoyado mucho a mí y a nuestra comunidad. Yo votaré por él y espero que usted también” –Ilana Dubester, fundadora y previa directora de El Vínculo Hispano.

Ilana and Jeff

La votación temprana será del 19 de abril hasta el 5 de mayo, puede registrarse y votar a la misma vez. Las elecciones preliminares serán el 8 de mayo. Para mayor información en inglés, llame a la Junta de Elecciones de Chatham al 919-545-8500 o del Condado de Lee al 919-718-4646. Para español, visite a http://veyvota.yaeshora.info.

Y NC State Board of Elections, Carlos Casallas,919-715-9206, carlos.casallas@ncsbe.gov

Este anuncio fue patrocinado por Jeff Starkweather para la Cámara Estatal.

* * * * * * *

Vote for Jeff Starkweather for NC House of Representatives District 54

In the Primary Democratic Elections on Tuesday, May 8


My name is Jeff and I’m a candidate for the N.C. House to represent all of Chatham County and part of Sanford. I want to use my years of experience as an attorney and journalist to fight for the rights of everyone in our district, including immigrants.

Great Schools/ DREAM Act:  We must invest in public education from pre-school through the college and university systems, and promote bilingual education. I support the DREAM Act and in-state tuition for all students, regardless of immigration status.

Good Jobs:  We must support local businesses and attract good jobs for everyone.  Immigrants contribute to the prosperity of our state and deserve legal documents to secure employment.

Cooperative Law Enforcement: Everyone deserves police protection and to be treated respectfully by law enforcement. No one should live in fear of the police or be discriminated based on race or ethnicity. I believe in access to Drivers Licenses and IDs for everyone, this will ensure that our communities and roadways are safer.

Immigration Reform: We are a nation of immigrants and we must support a path to citizenship for immigrants who are already here. This is an issue that the Federal government must resolve.

United we can restore a just and prosperous society for all. Your vote is your voice! Make your voice count. I hope to count on you on May 8th!

“I trust Jeff because of his commitment to justice and equal opportunity for all. Jeff has helped me and our community a lot. I will vote for him and hope that you will too.” –Ilana Dubester, founder and former executive director, El Vínculo Hispano.

Early voting will be from April 19 to May 5. You can register and vote at the same time! The primary elections will be on Tuesday, May 8. For election information, contact the Chatham Board of Elections at 919-545-8500 or Lee County at 919-718-4646. For Spanish, visit http://veyvota.yaeshora.info.

And, NC State Board of Elections, Carlos Casallas, 919-715-9206, carlos.casallas@ncsbe.gov

Paid for by Jeff Starkweather for State House

What I wanted to say

I was so impressed and moved by the statements made by so many local people testifying at the fracking hearing at Fearrington last night.  They did their homework and they spoke from the heart and the head. And the message was heard loud and clear all the way to Raleigh.

I wasn’t permitted to speak at the hearing last night because I had already spoken at the Sanford hearing ( in fact, I’ve been speaking out about this at every opportunity for months). But here’s what I had planned to say.

First, I want to thank my friend Chatham Commissioner Sally Kost, who pushed and prodded DENR to have a fracking meeting in Chatham County.  And of course I want to acknowledge former House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senator Bob Atwater for assisting Sally in making this happen.

I also want to thank the DENR staff who worked so hard on this report with so little time and so little staff resources.

Finally, I want to “thank” the DENR administrator, who gave us an unexpected gift by ignoring the substance of the report, and writing the now famous conclusion from nowhere.

Despite the fact that:

●  methane gas  has been found in nearby fracking wells;

● EPA recently found fracking fluid in nearby wells;

● no significant longitudinal studies, laboratory,  or animal studies have been conducted about water contamination by fracking;

● the shale gas deposits in North Carolina are significantly shallower than those in other states whose experience DENR was relying upon;

●  the consumer protection section was blank;

● the Department of Commerce declined to conclude that fracking would have a positive impact on our economy;

● and on, on, on…

Nevertheless, the conclusion said that fracking could be conducted in North Carolina safely IF it was properly regulated.

That insulting finding clearly did not fool anyone.

The only thing the conclusion accomplished is to help energize what is clearly the largest grass-roots environmental movement in this area in a long time.

I want to thank  leaders like Elaine Chiosso of the Haw River Assembly and Colleen Kendrick of the Deep River Clean Water Society, among many others, who have spearheaded this awesome grassroots movement here in Chatham County. I feel fortunate to have been able to play a small role in this movement and to be able work with and listen to such amazingly intelligent, diligent, passionate, poignant and humorous allies.

Clearly, the case has not been made in this report or anywhere else that economic benefits of allowing fracking for shale gas in North Carolina outweigh its costs.  Given Speaker Tillis’s statement that those proposing or opposing legislation must make the “business case,” I do not see why North Carolina should waste any more time and resources to determine if fracking can be done safely with the proper regulatory regulations and resources, unless and until the economic case can be made.

Based on my experience and research over the last eight years on community economic development strategies, I sincerely doubt that this case can be made in Chatham or anywhere else in the Triassic basin.

All this was predicted when energy experts said some time back that we had reached peak oil – the point where more than half of the total supply of potential oil has been exploited. Those experts predicted that the attempts to extract hard to reach oil and gas deposits would be more expensive and  require new experimental  and risky technologies.  Does the 5-mile-deep BP oil spill ring a bell?  Recall that oil engineers and federal regulators assured us this technology was incredibly sophisticated and safe. Fracking presents the same risky story.

We need move to away from fantasy of energy technological utopias and toward a more pragmatic and sustainable energy strategy – energy conservation and alternative energy. This is where the jobs of the future are, not  in the temporary positions filled mostly by outsiders that fracking might provide.

This is the energy strategy the people of Chatham and Lee are telling me they prefer.  And like my friends Joe Hackney and Bob Atwater, I will listen primarily to people who live in these communities, not the outsiders who just want to exploit us.

–Jeff Starkweather

State fracking study does not support its conclusion

There’s a significant disconnect between state officials who claim fracking can be conducted safely in North Carolina and the evidence, or lack thereof, contained in their own recently released 350-page study of the issue.

I have just read the “N.C. Oil and Gas Study” conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Commerce.  Regarding their findings, I can only say, with apologies to Gertrude Stein, “There’s no there there.”

In fact, the page dedicated to answering the troubling question of how to protect the rights of rural landowners is actually blank, except for one sentence. It states: “This section has not yet been provided by the Department of Justice.”

Never mind that the industry has already leased a significant amount of land in Lee county without any regulatory protections in place.   The blank page in the report says it all: It’s as if someone expects answers to fall out of the sky at some convenient point in the future, apparently after the state legislature decides to make fracking legal in North Carolina.

What’s more, on the environmental safety questions, the report shows that DENR, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, does not have sufficient information at this stage about the use of this new technology to make any claims about its safety.

Yet, despite these inconvenient information gaps, the report concludes: “DENR believes hydraulic fracturing can be done safely as long as the right protections are in place.”

The problem is,  DENR did not provide the scientific evidence required to support this belief. As this report acknowledged, “[T]his analysis is constrained by the limited information available at this time.”

I thought DENR was a fact-based, not a “belief-based,” organization. EPA, with considerably more scientific resources at its disposal, will not even complete its study of just one issue regarding fracking – water quality – until 2014. Yet with $100,000 spent over a few months of internet “research,” DENR is willing to express its “belief” about areas the EPA has yet to address.

I recall House Speaker Thom Tillis responding to my question about fracking at a forum in Pittsboro, saying that he was open to hearing “the business case” for or against fracking.  Yet, the Department of Commerce, in its section of the state report, was not able to make a case one way or the other.

The report’s economics review section reads:  This analysis is not intended to indicate a position by the North Carolina Department of Commerce (Commerce) for or against…”

Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought the whole point of this study was to determine whether it was prudent for the state to authorize hydraulic fracturing, based on conclusions about likely economic, environmental and health impacts.

The problem, of course, as Commerce concluded, is: “Until the industry is more developed, and economic and multiplier relationships are better represented in the data, model outputs will not be robust.”  In other words, they do not have enough information to predict economic impacts.

At best, Commerce projected that fracking might result in an additional 858 jobs statewide after six years. That’s not much of an economic benefit considering the unknown potential economic costs. In addition to the concerns about groundwater pollution, the other unknowns not taken up in the study include impacts on competing industries (such as local farms, wineries and other tourist attractions) and state and local costs for impacts to other infrastructure (especially roads) and services (law enforcement, schools, etc.).

I appreciate the hard work DENR and Commerce employees put into this rushed and underfinanced study. But it’s an affront to all North Carolinians that the objective contents of the study were ignored or distorted to reach an unsupported conclusion.

The only real conclusion one can draw from this study is that we still don’t know enough about the true economic, environmental and health costs to authorize hydraulic fracturing for gas anywhere in North Carolina.

–Jeff Starkweather, prepared for DENR Public Hearing on Fracking Study, March 20, 2012 in Sanford.

Pittsboro urges legislature to say ‘no’ to fracking

Thumbs up to the Pittsboro Town Board for passing a resolution tonight that urges the North Carolina General Assembly to  maintain current laws saying no to fracking anywhere in our state. The Board voted 5-0 after hearing from more than half a dozen local residents, including me, who expressed concerns about the negative impacts fracking could have on Pittsboro’s environment, groundwater, public health, economic development, sustainable agriculture and unique quality of life.

Citizens testifying about the dangers of fracking included Gary Simpson from Chatham Citizens for Effective Communities, Haw Riverkeeper Elaine Chiosso,  Colleen Kendrick of the Deep River Clean Water Society, John Wegner, Barb Tessa and others.

Here’s the resolution:

“Whereas hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ is a method of extracting natural gas that involves injecting at an extremely high pressure, an undisclosed mixture of water, sand, and toxic chemicals to break up shale or other rock formations otherwise impermeable to the flow of gas;

“Whereas, North Carolina does not currently allow either horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing, and the current North Carolina study of in-state shale gas resources and of the potential impacts of reversing this ban and allowing drilling and fracking to extract these resources is being undertaken without adequate funding and without adequate time;

“Now Therefore Be It Resolved that we, the members of the Town of Pittsboro Board of Commissioners urge the North Carolina General Assembly to maintain current laws in North Carolina that prevent hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the State and to take no action that would weaken these laws before it is fully demonstrated that North Carolina public health, waters, land, air, economy and qualify of life can be fully protected from impacts of allowing shale gas development in the state.”

–Jeff