Saturday, September 27, 2008

Week in Review 9/22/08 - 9/27/08

As always this was a very busy week. I spent a good amount of time answering email from citizens, visiting sites and reviewing reports in preparation for council's worksessions on Tuesday and Thursday night's council meeting.

My week started off by attending the Western Wake Republican Club’s monthly meeting at Bentley’s Restaurant at Crossroads. This month’s featured guest was Robert Hunter who is running for the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Council held two worksessions on Tuesday evening to discuss the downtown Cary streetscape project and aquatics. The aquatics worksession was very positive. We received a presentation from Triangle Aquatics Center President Mike Curran on a proposal to partner with their existing facility to provide recreational and leisure aquatics for Cary citizens. Council directed staff to work with TAC to develop a proposal to bring back to council for decision. The streetscape worksession was for council to review the final plan, give direction on any changes we feel necessary, and vote on whether or not to accept the plan. I am pleased to report that council approved the streetscape plan by a vote of 6-1.

Wednesday was a really fun day. I attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s candidates forum at McGregor Downs Country Club. I really enjoy political events such as these – especially when it isn’t me in the hot seat! ;-) Afterwards Mayor Weinbrecht and I met at town hall to tape the October edition of the Cary Matters TV Show. It turned out pretty well….I think. ;-) Tune in to Cary Channel 11 to learn more about changes to our boards and commissions appointment process, guano, and trick or treating….seriously. You’re dying to watch now aren’t you??? ;-)

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Highlights include approving the comprehensive transportation plan, approving the transportation improvement waiver request at the Dry and Harrison Ave intersection (see previous post for more info on this), denying changes to the Walnut Street Corridor Transition Zoning District, and denying redistricting of council districts at this time.

I already spoke to the need to redistrict in an earlier post so I’ll spare you the details. We all showed up to the council meeting knowing the decision to redistrict now would fail by a vote of 4-3. No surprises there. What was surprising to me however was council didn’t vote to redistrict after the 2009 election either. The majority of council instead prefers to redistrict after the 2010 census - prior to the 2011 elections. Let me tell you why I think this to be a bad idea. Cary will not receive the results from the 2010 census until April/May of 2011. Council will then have to review the data, decide on new district boundaries, hold the required public hearings, and then notify the board of elections and our citizens of the changes….all before the election in October. To me, redistricting 2 years before the 2011 election makes much more sense than a few months before the election as it gives us a full two years to inform and educate our citizens of the change. Cary’s population data is just as accurate as that of the federal government (after the last census it was within 1%) - and considering how well our federal government is doing these days - I actually have more faith in our town government to get it right. ;-)

Another interesting thing that happened at our council meeting was I learned how stupid six of us are – I mean, Councilman Portman told us so, so therefore it must be true right? (Sarcasm off now) You see, everyone on council except Councilman Portman voted against the Walnut Street Corridor Transition Zoning District Amendments. Well, after he lost 6-1 he commenced to hopping on that soapbox of his (again) and berated council for not seeing things his way – that we “didn’t understand”. Now I respect the opinions of all my colleagues, and we have agreed to disagree on many occasions, but I won’t continue to bite my tongue during his rants much longer. It is long past time Councilman Portman realized there are seven members of council – not one.

On Friday Mayor Weinbrecht, Councilman Jack Smith and myself attended the Cary High School IMP Club Hall of Fame Banquet. This was very special for me as the Cary High School family is our extended family. My wife, and five of our children have attended Cary High School. We presented Proclamations honoring the inductees into the Cary High School IMP Club Hall of Fame.

Afterwards I attended a fundraiser for NC House Member and candidate Nelson Dollar at the Mathews House in Cary. This was a very fun event, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of my friends is an incredible piano player!

That's about it for this week. As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, September 22, 2008

How soon the media forgets

From the New York Times:

September 11, 2003

New Agency Proposed to Oversee Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago. Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

Significant details must still be worked out before Congress can approve a bill. Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

Read the rest of the story HERE

And then there is Senator John McCain's speech on the Senate floor in May of 2006:

Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae's regulator reported that the company's quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were "illusions deliberately and systematically created" by the company's senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight's report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae's former chief executive officer, OFHEO's report shows that over half of Mr. Raines' compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.

The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator's examination of the company's accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs--and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO's report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO's report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole. I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.

It's amazing you aren't hearing anything about this in the mainstream media isn't it?
Oh, and as an fyi - Senator Elizabeth Dole was also a cosponsor of S.190.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Week in Review 9/14/08 - 9/20/08

Usually I don’t meet or participate in any functions on Sundays as I try to reserve this day for family, faith, and NASCAR races ;-) – but this past Sunday my wife and I were honored to attend BJ Lawson’s Freedom Rally at the VFW on Reedy Creek Road. BJ is a candidate for the US House of Representatives in the 4th Congressional District. BJ is running for Congress to advance a constitutional federal government that lives up to the ideals of our Declaration of Independence. A proud father of three, BJ strongly believes we must stop catering to corporate and special interests and instead focus on our nation’s constitutional responsibilities. If you live in the 4th district and are looking for a change in business as usual in Washington, give BJ Lawson a try – his opponent has been part of the problem in Washington for over 20 years.

My first meeting of the week was a follow up discussion with the downtown steering committee. We discussed what each of us took away from our downtown visits to Clayton, Smithfield, Salisbury, Raleigh and Greenville, what initiatives those municipalities have implemented that we believe might work well here in Cary, The different ways in which those municipalities structured their downtown economic development departments and partnerships with non-profit organizations, and how Cary should move forward from here. It was a very good discussion and I believe we are headed in the right direction. Staff will now be preparing a recommendation for council review and action in the near future.

Wednesday evening nearly the entire council attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Banquet. Three awards were presented that evening. Cindy Smith won the Ambassador of the Year Award, Crescent State Bank won The Business of the Year Award, and Michael Curran of Triangle Aquatics Center won the Citizen of the Year Award. Congratulations to everyone above for your commitment to making Cary a better place for all to live, work, and play! Town Manager Bill Coleman, who is retiring next month, was also recognized for the over 20 years of service he has given the Town of Cary. He will surely be missed.

Thursday was a double-header. Staff and I first met with a downtown resident regarding concerns she is experiencing in her neighborhood as a result of the increase in rental properties and the Cary Convenience Center (more commonly referred to as the “dump”). Many of the concerns we can address quickly – other issues will take time, and some Cary is, and has already been working on. It was a good meeting for both sides - we all left better informed.

Afterwards was our Planning and Development Committee meeting, and I must say I am really beginning to get irritated with the lack of respect and support for downtown from our committee chair. This time it was a roadway improvement waiver request from an applicant who owns a corner house at the Dry and Harrison Avenue intersection in downtown - the old Heater House to be exact. Simply put the homeowner wishes to convert the home to a small office use, and make thousands of dollars worth of improvements to the property in the process. This is EXACTLY the type of redevelopment/reinvestment we should be encouraging downtown. Along with the numerous code improvements being made, our ordinance requires the applicant also install a sidewalk - which they are, and install the required parking and landscaping - which they are. Our ordinance also requires the applicant make roadway improvements that include modifying the radius of the corner (reconstruct curb, gutter, and road to remove 90 degree angle), install a crosswalk and signal heads, and relocate traffic signal utilities/pole resulting in the removal of a very established tree. The applicant requested a waiver for the roadway improvements.

Four very nice historic homes share this intersection. Requiring the roadway improvements be constructed would simply ruin the character and charm of this historic community. It would also bring a road 10 feet closer to a historic home, create an intersection where 3 corners have 90 degree radius' and one does not (looks stupid), and cause such an economic burden on the applicant that it just might kill this project. Yet for some reason this is not going to council on consent. Our chair believes this request warrants the entire council weigh in. Funny - I wonder why we didn't feel this way regarding the other five roadway waiver requests P+D approved this year? Because they weren't downtown - that's why.

I ended my week with a meeting with with Michael Curran of Triangle Aquatics Center to discuss a potential partnership between Triangle Aquatics Center and the Town of Cary to provide recreational aquatics for Cary citizens. Yes it seems like this has been going on forever - but hopefully we can bring closure to the issue soon. Council has a worksession coming up on this topic next week.

I spent a good amount of time this week responding to emails from citizens in the west Cary area after a very misleading email was sent out by a member of the Davis and High House Organization regarding redistricting in which they accused the town of gerrymandering and deliberating in secrecy. Nothing could be farther from the truth and quite frankly I was offended by those accusations. Council will discuss the redistricting issue at Thursday's council meeting.

That's about it for now - as always thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Week in Review 9/8/08 - 9/13/08

I gotta be honest – it’s taken me all week to get back to normal after the RNC in Minneapolis – St. Paul. I’m not as young as I used to be that’s for sure. ;-) While I had a great time in Minnesota, It sure is good to be back in Cary.

My first meeting back in the saddle was with town staff regarding a proposed site plan in the downtown Cary area. The applicant and I had a few concerns regarding required site modifications, and I needed more information before deciding how to further address the matter. We have to be sensitive regarding redevelopment in our downtown as not to create any unfair hardships on property owners who choose to invest in their property or business.

Tuesday evening council had a worksession regarding the boards and commission selection and application process. Our goal is to make the process more open and transparent while also ensuring that those who choose to apply to serve on one of our town boards are treated with the dignity and respect they so deserve. In the past council had sometimes debated candidates and their qualifications at the council meeting, which is televised. Council instead agreed to debate applicants and their qualifications at a worksession prior to the council meeting – which is open to the public – and then announce the newly selected board members at the council meeting.

Wednesday evening I attended the Town of Cary’s School of Government kick off ceremony with Mayor Weinbrecht and Councilman Jack Smith. It was a great to meet this year’s class and welcome them proper. I spoke briefly (as I always do) ;-) about how I became involved in our town’s government years ago, and encouraged everyone to apply for a town board or commission after they completed the class.

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Some of the highlights included a presentation from the Animal Issues Task Force by Chairman David Forvendel, council’s decision to conduct a national search for our new town manager, and council’s approval to direct town staff to create an amendment to our town’s land development ordinance that would prohibit front lawn vehicle parking, and then bring that back to council for public hearing and possible adoption.

I must say I was very impressed with the presentation from the animals issue task force. It was clear that they had spent a tremendous amount of time on their work, and came back with some great recommendations that Cary can implement to ultimately limit the amount of animals that are euthanized. This issue is best addressed on the front end. The more animals we can keep from ending up at the shelter in the first place, the less that will be killed.

Friday I visited the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple currently under construction off of Highway 54 in Cary. It was an honor to be invited and witness Vishwa Shanthi Yagam, a religious ceremony to foster peace, health, and prosperity in the community and throughout the world. I was also given a tour of the construction site. This will be a very beautiful facility once completed, and I look forward to coming back to celebrate their grand opening next year.

Saturday I worked on the script for next month’s Cary Matters TV show – Mayor Weinbrecht and I split up writing duties. I also spent much of the day answering email - council gets lots of email - and I work as hard as I can to answer every single one.

That's it for now - Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Photos

A lot of folks have asked to see more photos of the RNC. Unfortunately numerous photos are difficult to post here, but you can see plenty on my facebook page. If you don't have a facebook account, well, get one. ;-) It is the 21st century after all.

RNC update #8 Final Night


The 2008 Republican National Convention wrapped up late last night. All good things must come to an end I guess. The RNC has been the experience of as lifetime, and as much as I wish it could go on for another 4 days, I am really looking forward to getting back home to Cary. I really miss Lisa and the kids. Heck, I even miss the cat. ;-)

I must admit I was a little nervous going into the fourth and final day of the RNC. The blow out performances of Mike Huckabee, Rudy Guiliani, and Sarah Palin the previous day were going to be a tough act to follow. It would not be good for our convention to peak a day early, nor would it be good for our vice presidential nominee outperform our presidential nominee. And John McCain isn’t exactly known for his eloquent and motivational speeches after all.

John McCain laid my concerns to rest early in his speech. He didn’t disappoint at all – in fact he inspired and energized me. His speech was honestly the best I have ever heard him deliver. It was a conversation with the American people – not just words read from a teleprompter. His plea to Americans to join his campaign to help him fight for our country was passionate and real. His speech was full of emotion, and he spoke from the heart. He spoke to his real life experiences as a public servant both in the US Navy, and in Congress, as well as his captivity as a POW for 5 years. He spoke about his hate for war, and his belief that having a strong and powerful military is the best way to avoid war. He talked about family, character, reform, change, and putting his country first. It was a great speech, and I was honored to be there to hear him give it.

Unfortunately his speech was interrupted one time by a Code Pink kook, but the crowd quickly took care of that. Before she could finish screaming some crazy bumper sticker slogan at the top of her lungs, her shrill voice was quickly drowned out by the chants of “USA!…USA!…USA!” from the crowd. Once security finally arrived she was given a police escort to someplace I am sure she didn’t want to be.

Other noteworthy speakers were Hall of Fame football coach and championship winning NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, US Senators Mel Martinez, Sam Brownback, and Lindsey Graham, Governors Tim Pawlenty and Tom Ridge, and Cindy McCain. Oh, and I almost forgot - Trace Adkins sang the National Anthem! I also had the pleasure of meeting former US Senator Trent Lott.

The balloon drop at the end was really cool. You never saw so many balloons in your life! I feel sorry for whomever it was that got stuck blowing them all up. ;-)
It was an honor to attend the RNC as a delegate, but more so an honor to be a part of history. Sarah Palin is the first woman ever be nominated as the Republican’s Vice Presidential Candidate. I am confident that come November 4 she will be the first woman Vice President in the history of our great nation.

I’m sad it’s over – but as I write this at 35,000 feet I can’t wait to get home. It’s been a 4 day adrenaline rush and I’m exhausted. Many thanks to everyone involved for making this past week the huge success that it was. Do we really have to wait four more years to do it again??? ;-)

McCain - Palin 2008!

Drill Baby Drill!

RNC update #7- Sarah's Night


Wow….I’m speechless… and I am sure those of you who know me know that doesn’t happen very often. ;-) I am at a total loss to even begin to attempt to describe Wednesday evening at the convention. How does one find the words to describe the level of energy and excitement in the building after the speeches of Mike Huckabee, Rudy Guiliani, and especially that of VP nominee Sarah Palin anyways? How do I begin to put into words the emotions of 40,000 convention goers who were screaming and cheering at the top of their lungs for hours? And how do I even begin to describe how proud I am to be an American right now? Is there even a single word that can sum this up?

At first I thought “awesome” might work, but that doesn’t come close to describing the electricity and excitement in the room. “Unbelievable” maybe? Nope, I was there – I saw it – and I believe it. Maybe“historic”then? No, even that falls short. The only word I can begin to come up with is…

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

I am sure those of you have at least heard excerpts of Sarah Palin’s speech by now so I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that she knocked it out of the park, rocked the house, and wiped the floor with her critics in the media - she even made it a point to wave at the media as she left the stage, as if to say, “you aint seen nothin’ yet”. Sarah is a fighter, and she made it clear – crystal clear that no one will stand in her way of bringing reform to Washington. I almost feel sorry for the good ol’ boy network….NOT!

In my opinion McCain could not have selected a better person to serve as his VP. She’s fresh, exciting, and, as she herself put it; a “pitbull with lipstick”. She brings energy, new ideas, and a proven record of reform. She resonates with working women and mothers, and she understands the issues that average families experience each and every day.

The next 60 some days are going to be fun to watch. Hold on to your hats folks!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

RNC update #6


I’m getting behind in my updates – sorry!

Tuesday’s convention activities were by far the most memorable yet.

The day started off with all NC Delegates heading to the LoTo Life Café in St. Paul for a lunch reception sponsored by Crumley and Associates. This was a wonderful event and a good opportunity for NC Delegates to get to know each other better.

Afterwards it was off to the photographer to have our NC Delegation photo taken. Finding the photographer however was easier said than done. ;-) The maze of buildings and security fencing we had to navigate was a bit challenging to say the least. There was one bright spot however; along our “journey” we ran into none other than former Texas Congressman Tom Delay.

After we took our photograph we returned to the Excel Center just in time for the start of the convention. And what a convention it was!

While there were a number of memorable speeches – the highlight for me was the tribute to fallen Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor and other national heros including former POWs and Medal of Honor recipients. Michael Monsoor’s sister was in attendance - and like everyone else in the building, she was clearly moved by the tribute to her brother. Many, included myself, cried. Now I say “most everyone” because there was one individual that clearly did not appear to appreciate the ultimate price paid by these American heros; MSNBC News correspondent David Gregory. Throughout standing ovation after standing ovation he continued to sit casually in his chair, appearing disinterested, and almost disgusted. Sad.

First Lady Laura Bush introduced President George Bush who spoke to the convention via satellite from the White House. Unfortunately the President could not attend the convention in person as he is tending to the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav; clearly a more important use of his time. The President did say however that since Laura Bush was there to stand in for him that we traded up. ;-)

Former Senator Fred Thompson spoke next. Now I have been a fan of Thompson for years and have heard him give a number of speeches, but NEVER have I heard him deliver as dynamite a speech as he did last night. It was a 468 foot drive over the center field fence! He accurately and in no uncertain terms identified the clear differences between Senator McCain and Obama.

Senator Joe Lieberman batted clean up and spoke to McCain’s character, and the importance of electing a proven leader during these trying times in our nation’s history. My favorite line was when Lieberman, speaking to John McCain’s ability to work across party lines said, “If John McCain is just another partisan Republican, then I am Michael Moore’s favorite Democrat. ;-) Kudos to Joe for taking a stand and supporting who he believes is best for our country – not who his party (or should I say former party?) says he should support. Joe will be punished for his speech and he knows it, yet the future of our country is more important to him than his political future. While I don’t agree with Joe all the time, he is a man of integrity and has my utmost respect.


What a night!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

RNC update #5 Sept 1,2008


This morning began with a delegate breakfast followed by our caucus meeting where we received updates on the amended convention schedule as a result of Hurricane Gustav, delegate instructions, and a security update. Afterwards we were honored to hear from a number of featured guests including US Senator Richard Burr, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, former Agricultural Secretary John Block, and former POW Lee Ellis. Mr. Ellis was held captive along with Senator John McCain and spoke to our delegation about their horrific experiences as a guest in the Hanoi Hilton. I am so very thankful for heros like Mr. Ellis who sacrifice so much so others may live free.

We then loaded up and headed to the Excel Center for day one of our abbreviated convention. After the presentation of our nation's colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and our National Anthem GOP Chairman Mike Duncan banged the gavel and our convention was underway.

The first order of business was to inform the convention about a number of disaster relief initiatives the party has implemented to aid the folks in the Gulf Area after the devastation caused by Hurricane Gustav. I am very proud of my party for putting our country first, and our convention second. John McCain said it best; "We will act as Americans - not Republicans - to help our fellow citizens in need". Please do what you can to help by visiting http://www.causegreater.com/

Next was committee business. The Credentials, Permanent Organizations, Resolutions, and Platform and Rules Committees all gathered together to finalize and approve their respective party responsibilities, then presented their recommendations to the convention for final vote and adoption.

Afterwards the convention heard from none other than First Lady Laura Bush. The First Lady stood in for President Bush who could not attend as he was overseeing hurricane relief efforts. Her message to the convention was simple; our mission is to protect and aid those living in the gulf region. Cindy McCain then joined the First Lady on stage and also urged convention attendees to help the victims of Hurricane Gustav.

Following speeches by the First Lady and Mrs. McCain convention business for the day was finished and a motion was made to adjourn. The rest of the convention schedule is still up in the air at this time. We'll know more tomorrow morning.


RNC update #4 - Protesters Turn Violent


GOP delegates attacked by protesters
Police wielding pepper spray arrest at least 56 as protest turns violent

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Protesters attacked delegates, smashed windows, punctured car tires and threw bottles Monday, a violent counterpoint to an otherwise peaceful anti-war march at the Republican National Convention. Police wielding pepper spray arrested at least 56 people.

....One 80-year-old member of the delegation had to be treated for injuries, and several other delegates had to rinse their eyes and clothing, the station reported.

....Terry Butts, a former Alabama Supreme Court justice who is a convention delegate, was on a bus taking delegates to the arena when a brick through the window sprayed glass on him and two others.

Read the entire story HERE


Monday, September 1, 2008

RNC update #3

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - At the recommendation of Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican National Convention announced substantial changes to the convention’s program and actions being taken to help with Hurricane Gustav relief efforts. On Monday, all program activities beyond the official business that must be conducted in accordance with party rules will be cancelled. Among the other actions announced today are the formation of the Affected States Working Group, the establishment of an Affected States Information Center, and the chartering of a DC-9 to transport affected delegates.

Rick Davis, campaign manager for McCain 2008, announced that the upcoming Republican National Nominating Convention is making serious revisions to the convention program and surrounding activities. Davis said, "We are deeply concerned about the safety and welfare of the residents of the Gulf State region. Our top priority is to assist those who will be affected by Hurricane Gustav. This is not a time for politics or celebration; it is a time for us to come together as Americans and assist the residents of the Gulf States."

Davis also discussed what the changes in the program will mean for the nomination process. "In order for the Republican Party to officially exist and for Senator McCain to qualify for the ballot, we are - by law - required to conduct specific official business. At this point, our program on Monday has been scaled back and will only include what party rules governing the nomination of our candidates for president and vice president require. We will perform the official business as required. In addition, we have set aside time to make delegates and Americans watching our proceedings at home aware of what they can do to assist in relief efforts designed to help those who will be affected by Hurricane Gustav."

Davis concluded: "At some point between Monday and Thursday evening, we will convene once again to complete the activities needed to qualify Senator McCain and Governor Palin for the ballot in all 50 states. Beyond that, all we can say is that we will monitor what is happening and make decisions about other convention business as details become available."

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Robert M. "Mike" Duncan added, "The safety and well-being of the people of the Gulf States remains our top concern. We are doing everything we can on the ground in Minneapolis-Saint Paul to ensure that the delegations affected by this storm have the resources and information that they need. As Senator McCain said this morning, we must redirect our attention and efforts. We will act as Americans - not Republicans - to help our fellow citizens in need."

RNC update #2


After breakfast and credentials pick up a number of delegates from North Carolina decided to do a little sight seeing. Where did we go? Well the mall of course! But not just any mall; we went to The Mall of America - the largest mall in the nation. I have never seen anything like this place in my life. The mall has an indoor amuesment park - complete with roller coasters, ferris wheel, and even a log ride - seriously! And these aren't little wussie rides or cheap loose bolt state fair contraptions either - these are quality rides like you would find at a Six Flags theme park.

Afterwards all delegates and guests attended Civic Fest at the Minneapolis - St. Paul Convention Center. We had a blast. Civic Fest was designed to showcase history through memorabilia and models - there was even a mock up of Air Force One, a model of the White House, Ronald Reagan and FDR's limosines, and authentic gowns from nearly every first lady. I really love learning more about history so this was a real treat for me. Afterwards we went to Preston's Urban Pub for dinner. Tommorow the convention begins!