June 2007


As we wind down the planning for this fiscal year, Council’s deliberations take on a bit more gravitas, thus demand even more attention by the public.

As one might observe listening to last year’s Lot #5 closed negotiations ( “Downtown Development Initiative: Listen and Learn How Negotiations Went Awry”), going too long or waiting until to an eve of a decision without public participation or oversight does not serve the public interest.

Looking back through my recent notes, I didn’t find a reference to the purpose of this Wednesdays closed door Council session.

With the Lot #5 deal still a bit wobbly (now up 17 fold from $500K to $8.4M), disclosure that our just hired economic development officer was charged with embezzlement in 2003 (charges subsequently dropped), a probable $0.02 hike in town taxes and a raft of other issues before them, I would hope the Council takes more counsel and welcomes more public oversight as the year closes than try to wrestle with their problems out-of-sight.

With that in mind, I’ve asked for a clarification on the purpose of this Wednesday’s meeting.

Catherine, Roger,

Excuse me for asking both of you the same question, but I wasn’t quite sure whom to address
this question to.

What statutory reason is Council using to hold a closed session June 6th?

Our town’s website suggests it must be one of the following:

# Confidential information
# Consultations with an attorney
# Business location or expansion
# Real property acquisition
# Employment contracts
# Certain personnel matters
# Investigations

and that the specific reason for going to closed session have been adopted in an open session.

Quoting from our town’s website:

“The statute provides that a closed session may be held only on a motion adopted in open session by a majority of those present and voting. The motion must state the purpose set out in the statute that permits the closed session, such as “to consider matters relating to the location or expansion of industry.” In addition, two of the purposes require a more detailed motion. First, if the purpose is to discuss some matter that is confidential by law, the motion must cite the law that makes the matter confidential. For example, if an area authority meets to consider matters relating to a specific patient, the motion to go into closed session would have to cite G.S. 122C-52, the statute that makes patient information confidential. Second, if the purpose is to discuss pending litigation, the motion must identify the parties to the litigation.”

I couldn’t find a reference in my recent notes to indicate for what purpose this particular
closed session was being held, any information you can provide would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Will

If you’re interested in open meetings and the free flow of information from the governing to the governed, check out NC Open Government, an organization sponsored by some of the top press outlets in our state.

Here’s their two cents on closed meetings.

A reader dropped me an email (thanks K.A.) alerting me to Technorati’s laggard pace in indexing links to CitizenWill. Technorati is supposed to keep track of how many folks link to your ‘blogs content.

According to their service, I haven’t posted anything new in 298 days! I’m not the only person with Technorati ping problems Topic: does everyone have to post here to get the ping to work?

I’m not much for tracking links and that whole SEO (search engine optimization) bit (there are more than a few cautionary tales of bloggers, consumed with “incoming link counts” and other falderal, losing their way).

That said, I guess I should be a little miffed that the supposedly premier service for tracking interest in ones ‘blog can’t even recognize I’ve posted content a little fresher than a year-old (hmmm, maybe they use some algorithm to evaluate the worth of that content – uh oh!).

In any case, they did collect, serendipitously it appears, related content from youTube and flickr.

I especially like this Technorati collage of some of my videos:


Civil Dance Disobedience

Feb 20 2007 Carrboro BOA Rogers Rd. Trash -  Tracy Coleman

Allen Baddour Opening Statement

Experimental Chapel Hill RAM Development Flybys

Videos View all »

Thanks K.A. for the heads-up. Oh, and when I was checking out Technorati I happened to notice CitizenWill.org has been nominated for a Koufax award in the “Best Coverage of State of Local Issues” (??). I was previously nominated for a Koufax in the commenting category (I used to comment prolifically before I had a ‘blog ;-) ).

Other local ‘blogs nominated for your consideration:

A fantastic crew to be associated with… Thank you, whomever you are, for the nomination.

Local activists Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth are holding a forum this evening to discuss their and other local folks views of UNC’s Carolina North project:

In cooperation with a series of sponsors and collaborators, NRG will host a community forum on Carolina North, the proposed UNC research campus planned for the Horace Williams tract in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The forum will take place the evening of June 4, 2007, at the Chapel Hill Town Council Chambers at 7:00 p.m. Forum topics will include a review of the most recent discussions and developments, and what these might mean for our community. Our panel will consist of community leaders who have been involved in the Leadership Advisory Committee discussions and other activities concerning this issue. The forum will include presentations from the panel and a question and answer session for citizens.

Click here for forum details.

Groups sponsoring tonight’s forum include:

What? No Chamber of Commerce sustainability folks?

Mike Collins, the NRG’s “go to guy” wrote a column on tonight’s event for the Chapel Hill News

Imagine…

Imagine a thriving research community in the heart of Chapel Hill — a home for innovative technologies and business opportunities, a model of sustainability, self-sufficient, self-powered, a place of the future on a footprint small enough to preserve the surrounding 700 acres of woodlands and streams. One that merges seamlessly into the surrounding community, accessible by a number of transit modes, and with green spaces and amenities that draw citizens from everywhere.

Or…imagine a development the size of five Southpoint shopping malls, traditional buildings with massive parking lots, gridlock as people fill the roads on their way home to northern Orange, Alamance, and Chatham counties. Imagine more and more days with air pollution advisories. Imagine water shortages and increased taxes brought on by poor planning and lack of foresight.

There’s a fairly developed thread discussing the forum, its participants and other ephemera over here on OrangePolitics.

This will be a great opportunity to hear different perspectives on Carolina North.

Thank you folks for sticking with CitizenWill through thick and thin (including a major outage May 15th, 2007).

A little history. January 31st, 2006 I relaunched my 2005 Town Council campaign website (Concerned Citizen) claiming I’d

be posting some articles on last year’s election – including an analysis of campaign finances, my ideas on what to do to bootstrap Chapel Hill’s municipal networking initiative, comments on my new appointment to the Town’s Horace-William’s Citizen’s committee and other issues I’m concerned about…

More than year later, with 412 published posts under the Concerned Citizen/CitizenWill banner, I still haven’t gotten around to a full debrief on election 2005 ;-)

I have managed to cover a few other issues, Carolina North, RAM Development’s conquest of Downtown, election reform and more than a few odds-n-ends.

I’ve also started, then left as drafts, about 100 other posts. What to do with them?

Like a diary, part of the reason I have a ‘blog is to jog the old memory – to remind myself of how and why our Town, University, local organizations, citizens have arrived at our current destination.

Another part, to make my research available for others – local or remote, now or many years hence – to build-on, deconstruct, dispute, debate, etc. As I’ve posted on before, I’m creating a long tail documenting the issues before my local community in the small hope that others will find a kernel of benefit.

I never expected hundreds of folks to check in daily and, I imagine, my digressive style easily reflects that expectation…

Long windup. Just wanted to provide some context on the tumult I’m about to inflict on you, my readership.

Do I think every word I dribble out is a gem worth preserving? Hell no.

These bits do represent, to some extent, a distributed memory store for me (and possibly others) to lean on. So, rather than discard all those partially constructed pieces, I going to clean house, polish my notes/video/audio off as best as possible and publish the morass – out of order, sometimes out-of-context – labeled [SPRING CLEANING].

I won’t be publishing all the drafts. I won’t be posting many in their entirety. And I will certainly try to do a better job of keeping up from now on ;-)!

So, to use a phrase I’m seeing posted more and more along Franklin St.: “Please excuse the mess….”

[SPRING CLEANING]

I asked Town Manager Roger Stancil May 17th how the CCTV (closed-circuit TV) packaged in the Town’s first steps towards municipal networking (Municipal Networking:Could We Have a Little Less Big Brother?).

Roger and Kumar Neppalli, our Town’s traffic (and now streetlight) point person, both clarified the bullet item. The CCTVs will be used strictly for monitoring traffic flows.

Roger apologizes for taking 3 days to respond – which might seem strange if you dealt with Townhall before – but Roger has set a goal of improving the flow of information into the community, a refreshing change.

Thank you Roger and Kumar for a quick turnaround (now, if we can just get a 7 day warning on those Council agendas).

From: Roger Stancil
Sent: Mon 5/21/2007 4:27 PM
Subject: RE: Clarification on CCTV usage

I apologize for the delay in responding to you. The cameras are generally for monitoring intersections for traffic management purposes. I am sure it will be done in accordance with this community’s concern for privacy and policies that ensure privacy is not invaded. Thank you for your questions. By copy of this email, I will ask Kumar if he has additional information.

Roger

Roger L. Stancil
Town Manager
Town Manager’s Office
Town of Chapel Hill
405 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-5705

Phone: (919) 968-2743
Fax: (919) 969-2063

Note: Mail sent to or received from the Town Manager is subject to publication under the provisions of the North Carolina public records law.

—-

Mr. Raymond,

Mr. Stancil is correct and the cameras are used strictly for the purpose of monitoring traffic and provide guidance to motorists using variable message signs. These cameras are similar to the traffic monitoring cameras on I-40. Privacy of the motorists and passengers are protected and the cameras will not be used for enforcement of traffic regulations such as speeding, signal violations.

I will find the State Policy for use of these cameras and will e-mail you. Thanks.

Kumar Neppalli
Engineering Services Manager
Ph: (919)969-5093

—–Original Message—–

Subject: Clarification on CCTV usage

Roger,

I notice that the use of CCTV was mentioned in this resolution: http://townhall.townofchapelhill.org/agendas/2007/05/21/4f/

Could you clarify where and for what use closed-circuit surveillance will be deployed in Chapel Hill?

I’m thrilled we’re making a smart tactical move to improve our information infrastructure. I’m
hoping that deployment and usage of CCTV, for whatever purpose, will be guided by a policy grounded in transparency and informed by a strong commitment to preserve our residents
privacy.

Thank you,

Will