August 2007


The NRG is sponsoring a follow up forum on Carolina North August 29th, 7-8:30pm at the Chapel Hill Library.

The CHPL meeting space is quite a bit tighter so get there early.

Dear Fellow Citizens:

Please join us for a public meeting on Carolina North Wednesday night, August 29, from 7:00-8:30, in the large meeting room downstairs at the Chapel Hill Public Library. This meeting will focus on the political and
regulatory process surrounding Carolina North, and how citizens can effectively give input.

UNC will propose a plan for Carolina North this October. Come learn how you can act to achieve the outcome that is best for our community. Our panel will include Town Manager Roger Stancil, Planning Department Head
J.B. Culpepper, a Chapel Hill Town Council member, and citizens experienced in public action.

As at our June 4 forum sponsored by NRG, we plan to reserve a large amount of time for questions and discussion.

See you there!

-Mike Collins, co-chair, Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth

The earlier forum was well-attended, as it appears Carolina North is about to get started, I hope our fellow citizens attention is as well focused.

Being in government has its advantages.

Concerned citizens trying to get a good baseline on the cost of adding a bus route through the Rogers Road community didn’t net a response in 2005 (I know, I took a stab at it 2 years ago when I ran for Town Council).

Ahh, but if you’re a Carrboro Board of Alderman member, like Dan Coleman, running for office – presto, cost estimates nice and tidy.

From today’s emails, this interesting analysis from our Transportation department’s Steve Spade:

We have looked at the 2 options to serve Rogers Road via the HS Route that we discussed.

Option 1 – Extend existing bus

If we continue to run 1 bus but extend it north on Rogers Road 15 minutes travel time would be added to the route. Service frequency would drop to 45 minutes. Daily platform hours would be 5.9 hours daily. There would be no change in the current operating cost.

Option 2 – Add a second bus

When a second bus is added and the route is extended to Rogers Road the service frequency improves to 20 minutes. Platform hours would increase to 9.3 hours daily. The additional 3.4 hours would cost $202 daily or $52,800 annually.

Further analysis here [XLS: FIXED LINK, thanks Terri].

In 2005 I wanted to see service not only passing through the Rogers Road community but work as an element of a greater plan, sans annexation, to integrate the northern reaches of our greater community into Chapel Hill/Carrboro’s economic, social and educational life.

Since then, we’ve spent $949,025 of Federal monies on the digital notification NextBus system (which is reported to expand this Fall at a cost of ???).

Wouldn’t $53,000 , if that’s an accurate estimate, spent servicing Rogers Road and adjoining areas be a better investment in our wider community’s future?

I’ve been pushing for our local government to invest in community-owned networking as necessary infrastructure for the 21st century. Communities that provide neutral and widely accessible communications infrastructures will reap the benefits of greater economic activity, level the playing field vis-a-vis the digital divide and help create a new Town commons open to all our citizens irrespective of their political or other views.

To date, the Town has ear-marked $500,000 to tag-along with NC DOT’s traffic signalization upgrade project.

One argument in favor of a municipal network is that the community has direct oversight and input into its operating policies.

So, unlike a mega-corp telco like AT&T, our local community can adopt policies which don’t siphon off our emails without due legal process and protect our 4th Amendment freedoms. Or, again unlike AT&T, can sustain network neutrality, repudiate online censorship and preserve our ability to exercise freedom of speech.

AT&T did their part this weekend to make the abstract threat of mega-corporation censorship little more concrete:

After concluding our Sunday night show at Lollapalooza, fans informed us that portions of that performance were missing and may have been censored by AT&T during the “Blue Room” Live Lollapalooza Webcast. When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them. During the performance of “Daughter” the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” but were cut from the webcast:

- “George Bush, leave this world alone.” (the second time it was sung);
- “George Bush find yourself another home.”

This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media. AT&T’s actions strike at the heart of the public’s concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media. Aspects of censorship, consolidation, and preferential treatment of the internet are now being debated under the umbrella of “NetNeutrality.”

Check out The Future of Music or Save the Internet for more information on this issue.

Pearl Jam News, Aug. 8th, 2007

Pearl Jam? Hey, whatever you think of their music or RIAA issues, they have a point. If their performance can be censored in real-time by the only conduit carrying their message, well, it can happen in pretty much any other venue.

AT&T was caught this time. What of the next when, say, they are tempted to prune a few unflattering comments made about their monopolistic practices during the telecast of a Congressional oversight hearing?

I’ve taken a break from pushing the community owned networking agenda for a short while. Folks like fellow ‘blogger and net-activist BrianR have picked up my slack and moved forward.

I have a post coming up singing the praises of these local activists who have striven to protect our community’s ability to deploy a counter to the AT&T communications monopoly.

Until then, please hop over to Brian Russell’s Yesh ‘blog to catch up on what has been happening on the local scene.

It appears that Progress Energy has prevailed against local concerns the fire safety and overall security of their Shearon-Harris facility is less than adequate:

Progress Energy has cleared a hurdle in its bid to extend the operating license of the Shearon Harris nuclear plant by 20 years.

The Raleigh utility persuaded administrative law judges to reject safety concerns raised by nuclear critics who are challenging the license extension.

The groups want to litigate safety issues that the atomic board said fall outside the scope of a relicensing proceeding. Such proceedings are limited by law to reviewing a nuclear plant’s safety components and environmental impacts as the plant ages, the atomic board said.

N&O

I commented on NC Warn’s efforts in this recent post.

I’ve been following the mess at Shearon-Harris before the facility opened. Locally, our governments have to be concerned that this facility maintains the highest safety standards. For nearby communities – Pittsboro, Apex, Cary – the consequences of an accidental release present a devastating prospect. Closer to home, the economic and environmental reverberations would be significant.

The troubled NRCs role in this – their continued lack of oversight and willingness to bend what is in the best business interest of companies like Progress Energy – does not bode will for our community.

Luckily, local Representative David Price is aware of the fire safety issue and has promised to have the GAO look into the process to make sure the public good is well-served.

The July 31st Carolina North community outreach meeting was supposed to cover the same ground as last week’s presentation to UNC’s Board of Trustees. While Jack Evans might have presented the same material, my guess is the community’s reception was somewhat less excepting than the BOTs.

The 4pm session ran to 5:30 and was well attended by more than the “usual suspects”. I’ve attended every session on Carolina North these last few years but understand outside demands and the funky scheduling can make attending a burden so it was nice to see most every candidate – Cam, Sally, Jim, Penny – for Town Council show up.

Some of the answers to the community’s questions were quite telling – in a sense more informative than the session itself.

The disposition of Horace-Williams is going to influence the next 50 years of our Town’s development. We need leadership that is not only aware of the issues but can negotiate well on behalf of the citizenry.

Here’s the complete video I made of the session:

Towards the end of the video you might have some difficulty understanding the questions from folks in the upper bleachers but forge ahead as Jack Evans did a good job of reiterating and responding.

Preserving Chapel Hill’s Charm because Our Past Informs Our Future

  • Community
  • Diversity
  • Open Governance
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Public Accountability

These are some of the core values that drive my local activism.

These were core values of my 2005 campaign.

They are core values for 2007.