And Dan S., if you’re reading this, thanks for the sly hat tip.
Wed 29 Nov 2006
And Dan S., if you’re reading this, thanks for the sly hat tip.
Tue 28 Nov 2006
[UPDATE:] WCHL1360 with the audio [MP3]. President Friday expands on his concerns about salary inequities in the UNC system with WCHL’s Jon Hill. Last week a survey was published showing disproportionate wage inflation at the highest levels.
That is the reality, and while it may not be terribly palatable at an academic institution, it’s not likely to change — despite repeated concerns expressed by faculty, denunciations by university leaders or moaning by newspaper editorialists.
But what should be a concern are some of the terms of that contact. Apparently, the towering salary is not enough. In addition to his nearly $2 million a year, Davis also could receive thousands more in bonuses.
There are bonuses written into his contract that call for more money if he stays to the end of his contract. More money if he takes the football team to a bowl game. And more money each time the team’s graduation rate equals that of the overall student body.
Isn’t all that what the university is paying for already?
When you’re doling out so much money, shouldn’t the expectations be, for instance, that you will honor your legal contract, win more games than you lose and maintain a reasonable semblance of academic integrity?
Nearly $2 million per year for UNC’s new football coach? Yikes!
And I thought Jack Evans, UNC’s Carolina North quarterback, at $208+ K, was overpaid.
Luckily it’s not all coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets but that’s beside the point.
What does it say about UNC’s priorities that the same week UNC ditched all those loyal Dental School technicians due to “budgetary” constraints and floated a $4,000 tuition bump their new athletic “silver bullet” is hired on with a salary more than 100 times some support folks salary?
Former UNC President Bill Friday also thinks the current Moeser administration has its priorities out of whack:
The new coach will make an average of $1.8 million a year and Bill Friday who was president of the University for 30-years is calling a foul. “Any time an institution pays a coach tens more than a distinguished professorship, it’s making a statement.” Friday add, “We are out of control. We aren’t running our own destiny.”
Friday also served 15-years as co-chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Sports which pressed for reforms inside the big business of college sports. Friday says UNC is taking a step back by throwing big money for an entertainment enterprise. “We teach, we carry forward research, we serve the public. That’s the public trust we hold. We are not an entertainment industry.”
Tue 28 Nov 2006
Robert Poitras, representing the West-End business community announce this evening at the Downtown Partnership forum that the West End business community plans to field a “business candidate” for Council in 2007.
Has election 2007 already begun?
Tue 28 Nov 2006
Posted these individual citizen comments from the Nov. 20th Public Hearing on the Downtown Development
Tue 28 Nov 2006
There’s a nice calendar widget, some news of the day, list of eats and drinks, services, shops, fun, etc. that are both fairly extensive and accurate.
Way to go Liz and company.
Today the CHDP is presenting their “State of the [Downtown] Union”:
CHAPEL HILL, NC, November 15, 2006: The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership (CHDP) is hosting an Annual Meeting and Public Forum on November 28, 2006 from 4:30pm to 6:45pm at the historic Varsity Theatre, 123 East Franklin Street.
During the meeting, the Downtown Partnership will share the progress made in downtown and by the nonprofit organization over the past year.
“The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership began our work last fall with a series of surveys designed to better understand the needs and concerns of the downtown businesses, property owners and consumers. We’ve spent the past year focusing on four of their top concerns: safety, cleanliness, panhandling, and parking,” explained Downtown Partnership Executive Director, Liz Parham. “We’ve incorporated the methodology of the Main Street Program to build partnerships and bring people together to find new solutions to some old problems. We look forward to reporting on our initiatives.”
After CHDP highlights the progress of the past year, facilitators Andy Sachs and Peter Filene with the Dispute Settlement Center will encourage attendees to express their ideas and concerns that they feel should be addressed. The Downtown Partnership will use this information to develop the 2007 Plan of Work at the CHDP Board of Directors Annual Retreat on December 6th.
Ruby, over on OrangePolitics, notes that the CHDP has sponsored several forums with problematic start times and locations.
Other than catering to the Downtown merchants, who else is supposed to attend what amounts to a public forum put on by a taxpayer funded organization? A 4:30pm start time is tough for a Chapel Hill citizen working in RTP, but, I have to admit, great for me.
The last update forum was well attended, so I hope to see a similar turnout today.
Tue 28 Nov 2006
From the Chapel Hill Fire Department website:
The primary mission of the Chapel Hill Fire Department is to protect life, property and the community environment from the destructive effects of fire, disasters or other life hazards by providing public education, incident prevention and emergency response services.
Thank you folks for all the long hours and hard work.
If for some reason you missed the official announcement , our Town graduated its first class of firefighters Aug.11th.
Lucky for us, youTube’s RyanJef recently posted this movie to celebrate
7/28/2006 – The Chapel Hill Fire Department will graduate its first Fire Academy in 13 years at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, in the Council Chambers at Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The graduation will include a badge pinning ceremony and presentation of awards.
To attract more candidates and improve workforce diversity, the Fire Department has begun to provide training; previously, new hires were already-certified firefighters. Candidates are selected through a multi-step process of testing, including physical exams, agility tests, interviews, background checks, and application reviews. The academy, which began April 18, included 16 weeks of training in areas including basic firefighting, hazardous materials, emergency medical response, basic rescue, child safety seat installation and physical fitness. Graduates will be North Carolina-certified Level II Firefighters.
The graduating class includes 10 Chapel Hill firefighters, one Efland firefighter and one Parkwood firefighter. Four of the new firefighters will replace current vacancies, and six will fill new positions that were authorized by the Town Council in 2005. Three will be assigned to Fire Station 2, and three will be assigned to Station 3.
The Town Council has authorized an additional six new firefighters in the coming year, and the next academy will take place in April 2007. Applications will be accepted beginning in November 2006. To find out more, visit the Town website at www.townofchapelhill.org/fire,or contact the Chapel Hill Fire Department at (919) 968-2781 or email@example.com.
Mon 27 Nov 2006
Early in the evening, downtown resident Don Stanford spoke of “magic bullets”, the promises of NCNB Plaza (“remains one of the eyesores of Franklin Street…”) and the progression from it to Rosemary Square to Granville Towers (“…high rises in a sea of asphalt…”) to Wallace Deck.
During his presentation I noticed some eye-rolling but it’s hard to dispute his observation about Lot 5’s character:
This design doesn’t have anything to do with Chapel Hill. It doesn’t have anything to do with North Carolina. It doesn’t have anything to do with the South. I defy you to find anything [about the external design to] determine in any manner anything about it that says Chapel Hill or college town.
Mon 27 Nov 2006
Chris Culbreth, a second term member of the Town’s Community Design Commission (CDC), stayed late Monday, Nov. 20th, to comment to Council on the proposed revisions for the Process for Revision of the Comprehensive Plan
Interestingly enough, he spent more of his limited time counseling Council on the Downtown Development Initiative (DDI) juggernaut than the process revisions – including this digression on how developers are already factoring in Council’s temperament:
[Lot #5] is going to be a key building because the people who see that are going to come and build things following – and some of those people were here tonight – all the guys who bring us their plans of what their going to develop were sitting in the audience tonight to see what Lot 5 went over – so they can figure out “what we can get approved next”…
He then held up another RAM Development proposal, 425 Hillsborough St., of which I’ve been somewhat critical of for a few reasons, as an example of a kind of urban density at odds with our Town’s stated goals of walkability, livability and sustainability before turning back to the Lot #5 precedent:
…this building, Lot 5, and how it’s going to be built, and how it looks, will be a precedent for these others that will be developed. And I don’t want it to turn out to be like Rosemary Village, for example, it was built and it’s all students and sold in less than a year. No professional is going to want to live there. And the way it was built – it doesn;t even communicate to the neighborhood [Northside] behind it..that’s a transitional neighborhood…we want those neighborhoods to come into Town…
The other developments that come into place, they’re going to use that [Lot #5 density and design] as an example and our concern is the massing of these buildings and how it’s going to function…
As Chris pointed out, the CDC reviews development projects and provides feedback to developers prior to Council. Chris has long familiarity with many of the projects coming before this Council – projects the Council has generally been satisfied with, at least as far as general design goals.
Council should weigh this members counsel in light of that experience.
The Community Design Commission is charged with the following:
To initiate, promote and assist in the implementation of programs of general community beautification in Chapel Hill and its environs;
To seek to coordinate the activities of individuals, agencies, organizations and groups, public and private, whose plans, activities and programs bear upon the appearance of Chapel Hill and its environs;
To provide leadership and guidance in matters of design and appearance to individuals, organizations and groups, public and private;
To make studies of the visual assets and liabilities of the community, including surveys and inventories of an appropriate nature, and to suggest standards and policies of design for the entire community, or any individual project to be undertaken therein;
To prepare both general and specific plans for the improved appearance of the Town of Chapel Hill and its environs…
Mon 20 Nov 2006
On November 13, 2006, an exploratory meeting was held at the Town of Chapel Hill to discuss the Town’s interest in pursuing a wireless strategy. The goal of the meeting was to determine a strategy for investigating the broad issues related to a wireless initiative in the Town, as well as to seek the in-kind support and expert guidance of the University of North Carolina (UNC), the UNC School of Government (UNC SOG), and the NC League of Municipalities (NCLM). External participants participating in the meeting included John Streck, UNC, Shannon Schelin, UNC SOG, and Lee Mandell, NCLM. Internal staff members participating in the meeting included Roger Stancil, Flo Miller, Bob Avery and Arek Kempinski.
The preliminary minutes and associated outcomes of the meeting are offered for your review and comment.
The external participants were briefed on the interest of Town Council and citizen advocates in pursuing a wireless strategy for Chapel Hill. The majority of the conversation centered on the “why” question—as in “why is Chapel Hill interested in undertaking such an effort?” The drivers for the wireless strategy were articulated as follows:
- 1. Addressing the digital divide;
- 2. Increasing citizen access (in-home service)
- 3. Increasing mobility (ubiquitous access in public areas—i.e. downtown);
- 4. Improving governmental operations (public safety and public service); and,
- 5. Economic development.
Based on the conversation, the following suggestions and commitments were made by UNC, UNC SOG, and NCLM
- 1. The interest of the Town Council and citizen advocates does not specifically presume a “wireless” solution, but rather, a “connectivity” solution of which wireless is one component.
- 2. The “why” question is multi-faceted and each component needs to be studied individually in order to create a comprehensive connectivity plan.
- a. For example, licensed radio frequency (4.9 GHz, etc) is a robust, 802.16 alternative that is specifically designed for public safety and public service but is unavailable for citizen use. However, the lack of interference that is provided by the licensed spectrum creates significant advantages in data speed, accuracy, reliability, and security—all of which are vital to the development of any mobile government applications.
- b. Another example is the extension of a wireless network into low-wealth communities without the provision of equipment used to access the network will not have the desired impact upon the community.
- 3. The external participants, UNC, UNC SOG, and NCLM, agreed to work as a team, with the involvement of the Town staff, to examine the components and drivers of the “connectivity” request that has been generated by Town Council and citizen advocates. The outcome of this work will be a comprehensive listing of the drivers and requisite solution alternatives for each issue.
- 4. The request to identify additional drivers associated with the connectivity request was made at the close of the meeting and will be gathered by Town staff through conversations with Council Members.
- 5. The team will convene to begin its work after the Thanksgiving break.
- 6. In addition, upon completion of the plan, the team will advise the Town Council and staff on the technological, financial, and legal issues surrounding the various solutions that will compose the Connectivity Plan.
Additional feedback or comments on this meeting or the steps outlined for proceeding are appreciated.
Originally tonight’s Council agenda seemed to indicate a discussion on forming a broader task force was on the docket. Now the item is “informational”.
A shame, as I was planning to make a few comments about the lack of citizen advocates within the current discussion and trumpet the continuing successes of other locales, like St. Cloud Florida’s comprehensive effort or Minnesota’s St. Louis Park educational outreach.
Mon 20 Nov 2006
Tonight’s agenda starts with this gem
The 2000 Comprehensive Plan’s goal for downtown is to “enhance the downtown’s role as the center of the community, with a pedestrian orientation and a human scale.”
I consider the 104′ multi-building development on lot #5 to be a stake through downtown’s heart. I’m not alone. Many residents find the scale of this development anything but “human”.
The developer has put too much building on these two small parcels. The nine-story building on lot 5 is out of scale with the existing downtown streetscape and soars above the 90-foot height allowed in the town center 2 district of the Chapel Hill zoning ordinance.
Scale aside, why else is the Downtown Initiative failing?
The deal with RAM Development was never very good, at least for the Town. RAM’s payment of $7.9 million ($4,750,000 to lease Lot 5, a one time lease payment of $3,150,000 for the air rights over the Wallace Deck and the Rosemary/Henderson street lot) was a steal of a deal.
$7.9 million for 99 years of use of citizen-owned, prime downtown real-estate? Incredible.
$99 for 99 years? Impossible!
Several folks pointed out that RAM’s original projected rate of return, less than %3, was financially infeasible and would have to be “re-traded”. Last year I publicly stated that RAM had over-promised and would under-deliver – that dramatic renegotiation upwards, more inline with Grubb’s competing bid, was an inevitable result.
For instance, I work on the corner across Church St. and remember well the Devil’s own time the construction crew had digging my building’s basement. I never bought into the idea the Town would only pony up $500,000 to build underground parking structures in the granite ladened Lot #5 – and I sure as heck found it difficult to believe that RAM, our Council members or any other longtime residents would buy this malarkey.
When I brought this and similar issues up with our leadership, both then and since, I was told “not to worry” and “the deal is the deal”.
Why should the citizens of Chapel Hill pay the piper? Remember how “thrilled” RAM was to get a piece of Chapel Hill’s action?
In the most stark example, Grubb’s financing model would produce a 21.77 percent return on its $10.5 million investment in condominiums on the Wallace Deck site. Ram sees only a 2.98 percent return on its $23 million investment there.
“If they’re willing to do it for that,” Harris said, “God bless ’em.”
Even if the company wanted to, Grubb couldn’t make a counteroffer, Stainback said, explaining that the proposals are considered “best and final offers.”
Two council members asked Cummings whether Ram’s financial model was too good to be true.
He said no projection ever is exactly right but that his company hopes to ride the growing trend of people returning to downtown.
After the meeting, Ivy Greaner, Ram’s managing partner, said the profit margins are healthy enough to sustain the project.
But Ram also is seeking a foothold in North Carolina. The company is willing to make less money in Chapel Hill to get a centerpiece project in the Triangle.
“This is a special town,” Greaner said, in a suitor’s tone. “We love Chapel Hill.”
Guess the Chapel Thrill has worn off for RAM. We’re special, just not $7.3 million special.
The Town and Ram claim costs have unforeseeably skyrocketed in the last year
In the time that has elapsed since the Developer formulated the development plan for Lot 5 and the Wallace Deck sites and the Town negotiated the October 24, 2005 MOU with the Developer, construction costs have increased by as much as 30 percent and interest rates have increased significantly.
yet we’re supposed to accept that the other rosy projections, like a %5 borrowing rate and an above average return on parking fees, retail and property taxes will pan out?
Since the original deal was inked, the national average cost of building materials hasn’t exceeded %11, with a recent flattening (due to lower energy, aggregate and raw material costs) of an annualized increase between %5 and %7.
Worse, last October, after closing the deal (N&O), Keith Cummings, president of Ram,
…personally guaranteed with his own money that the project will be completed as planned, according to the document signed Monday. Any increased costs — because of issues such as the rising price of construction materials — are to be borne by Ram.
Come on, I feel like the Town’s citizens are being taken to the cleaners on this deal.
Until I see the specifics of the %30 increase, I must assume it was part of the “shell game” of under-bidding to win the contract.
If this turns out to be the case, what must we expect of RAM’s projections (“guarantees”) concerning their luxury, mega-condo development – the largest in Town’s history – at 425 Hillsborough Street?
And once we’re hip deep into this development, what restricts RAM from coming back to the well? Quite frankly, while I’d hate to “throw away” any taxpayer investment, it certainly would be easier to back out of a $500K losing proposition than a $7.3 million boondoggle. The modest protections of paying on delivery don’t seem sufficient.
The return of the public’s investment better be phenomenal to justify this private-public partnership. With this project’s current fiscal track record, financial prudence, above all, should steer our leader’s decision, especially when we go against our Town’s tradition of letting the voters decide to take on such massive financial obligations.
Speaking of prudence, beyond the $7.3 million demanded by RAM, the Council is supposed to approve a major chunk of debt tonight for the Homestead Park Aquatic Center. As today’s HeraldSun reports
The next key step comes tonight, when the Town Council will consider approving a contract with the Resolute Building Co. to build the Homestead Park Aquatic Center. The contract on the table is for $5,238,000, although the town manager would be authorized to approve up to $530,000 in change orders if necessary, as the work proceeded.
In the town’s 2006-07 budget, the council authorized borrowing another $750,000 for the Homestead project. That’s in addition to the bond funds the town and Orange County both are allocating for it.
Orange County is putting about $4.3 million into the project in bond funds approved by voters across the county, and Chapel Hill is contributing about $1.2 million in bond funds.
That’s nearly $2 million of debt we’re taking on – with a possible upward tick already projected. Strange that the citizenry had a voice in taking on that $2 million obligation, but we’re left out of directly approving an amount 4 times as large.
I’m going this evening with my concerns, fully expecting Council to answer each issue fully before moving forward. Hopefully the missing issues of public access, accommodations and facilities will be covered.
Here’s the “new deal” being proposed this evening.
Mon 20 Nov 2006
[UPDATE] As of November 20 2006 4:45 pm, we’ve had two questions and two comments by “site admin”.
Hi, I haven’t seen anything lately that lays out the architectural vision of Carolina North. Could you point me towards any current plans? Thank you.
November 20 2006 9:46 am by Robert Peterson
Is UNC still planning to realign Estes Drive as part of Carolina North development? Shouldn’t changes so potentially disruptive be discussed with the community that depends on that road as a major arterial connection?
November 20 2006 9:28 am by Ruby Sinreich
The comments referred to the “Attendee Comments Received at the Ecological Assessment Listening Group Meeting With Biohabitats Inc., Nov. 6, 2006” and “two maps created by Biohabitats of Raleigh. The maps were marked up in the Ecology Listening Session on November 6.”
Good notes that haven’t been previously published on UNC’s Carolina North site or on the UNC-LAC mailing list (at least the one I’m a member of).
Not exactly answers to either of the questions or to my earlier third question on forum rules but a response all the same.
Did you know that UNC has created an online discussion forum?
Hey, I wouldn’t have known but for this email:
I’m writing to let you know that the public discussion forum for Carolina North is now accessible online at http://research.unc.edu/cn/view_comments.php. If you would like to post a comment, click the “leave a comment” link at the bottom of the page, and you’ll be asked to register your name and e-mail address. Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail, after which you can post comments.
Office of Information and Communications
which didn’t appear on the normal UNC Carolina North LAC (Leadership Advisory group) email list – a list, by the way, which you can get on ONLY by contacting UNC here (no “self-subscribing”).
UNC’s Carolina North group has done a fairly decent job on their, admittedly biased, main website, including posting timely videos and minutes of the Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee (UNC-LAC) meetings.
Creating a discussion forum is a bold step for the development folks in Moeser’s administration, so points for trying, but 8am to 5pm EST moderation kind of misses the mark.
Please be aware that we only add new comments to the discussion forum during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST).
Given that, I still wanted to heap credit on UNC for this apparent e-democracy effort but the lousy advertising and the the lack of forum rules (possibly undercutting open debate) really make that difficult.
Disappointing. Mustn’t let Moeser’s “freelance dissenters” engage in free form discussion ;-)!
Hey, I registered,
Your registration was submitted successfully. You will receive an email from “HTTPD Daemon” containing a URL that will allow you to view and participate in the Carolina North public discussion forum.
and added this question, “What rules of moderation will you be applying to this forum?”
Wonder how long after 8am, Monday, Nov. 20th, 2006 I’ll find out…
Sun 19 Nov 2006
CountryCrats RobertP has an excellent recommendation for keeping Joe Lieberman in line
There really is only one thing the Senate Democrats, with their old-fashioned Senate rulebook, can do
[about Lieberman siding with the Republicans]. Promise him, in private, that if he switches they will pocket every bill he ever proposes, interrupt every speech he ever seeks to give, force him to read the text of every amendment he offers, and make him dance the hula in his underwear. I believe that is actually possible under current Senate rules.
Let Joe know that there won’t be one penny of pork coming to CT, there won’t be any saved sub bases, there won’t be any bills with the Lieberman (CFL) name on them passed in this Senate if he caucuses with the Republicans. None. Ever. No matter what.
Faintly reminiscent of the Corbomite Maneuver
Kirk:“Our respect for other life forms requires that we give you this… warning. One item not recorded in any ship’s tapes is… Corbomite. It is a substance and a device that prevents… attack on us. Should any destructive energy touch the ship, an energy of equal or greater strength is returned, destroying –”
Kirk:“– destroying the attacker. It may interest you to know that since the introduction of Corbomite, more than two of our centuries ago, no attacking vessel has survived the attempt. Death has little meaning to us… if it has none to you, then attack us now. We grow annoyed at your foolishness.”
Looks like the stratagem will have to be applied sooner than later – Lieberman stands firm on Iraq war…Connecticut Post.
Thu 16 Nov 2006
Say what you will of “Chapel Hill values”, but it can be quite nice when you’re on the receiving end.
This morning I watched the driver of Bus 734 pull over for a moment to let a young man, already wheezing from running up MLK to the Kron Building stop, jog the next 20 yards to clamber on. Sure, the driver could’ve kept on going – answering to the demands of the clock – like many drivers do in other jurisdictions. But, hey, this is Chapel Hill.
Thank you Bus 734, for your act of kindness.
Thu 16 Nov 2006
Usually politicians will attempt to sell a policy by claiming “if not adopted we’re gambling with our children’s future.”
The corrosive affects of NC’s lottery continue to spread, as demonstrated by this report in today’s N&O:
In August and September, teens under age 18 were paired with state agents and made visits to 348 lottery sales outlets across North Carolina.
At each store, the minor tried to purchase a $1 scratch-off ticket — in violation of state law, which prohibits sales of lottery games to anyone under 18. They were successful in making the purchase 98 times, or in more than one of every four attempts.
With the escalating barrage of NC lottery advertising, including the plan to pimp Christmas, is it any wonder our kids are falling prey to the “money for nothing” ethic?
Heck, you’d think with the stench of our corrupt short-tenured former NC lottery commissioner Geddings still lingering, the commission would be more than proactive in maintaining high ethical standards:
The state lottery commission this month adopted for the first time a policy on sales to minors. It put in place a three strikes process.
THIS MONTH! What a predicable load of manure the lottery is turning out to be…
Yep, the lottery is turning out to be quite Educational as gambling now becomes a part of our children’s future.
Tue 14 Nov 2006
Drat! Guess I’ll have to eat out again for dinner ;-)! This time I’ll choose from this list of participants.
Hat tip to Paul.
On Tuesday, November 14, 2006, area restaurants will donate 10% of their breakfast, lunch and dinner proceeds to help alleviate hunger in the Triangle. It’s simple. We advertise. The public eats out (or gets take-out). The restaurant makes a donation. Everyone gets a meal. Restaurants sharing V(5) + V(5) percent (5+5=10%), or RSVVP, has raised more than $425,000 to fight hunger since its inception in 1989. The fundraiser will be advertised extensively on TV, radio, newspapers, direct mail, and posters. Our major sponsors include SunTrust Bank, ABC 11, The Herald-Sun and The Chapel Hill Herald, Money Mailer Durham-Orange, Curtis Media and 1360 WCHL. Posters will be displayed throughout the Triangle asking the public to “eat locally, feed locally” on our designated RSVVP day.
List of Carrboro/Chapel Hill participants below the fold (more…)