October 2007


I do know that the Sierra Club, in 2005, thought I was a candidate well-suited for addressing our Town’s environmental issues.

Will Raymond has been one of the most outspoken and effective citizen activists in Chapel Hill in recent years. We look forward to him using his talents to advocate for the environment as a member of Town Council. In particular we are excited about his initiatives to promote energy efficiency in town buildings. He will also work to protect lesser known creeks in the Chapel Hill area and to minimize the number of single occupancy vehicles causing air pollution and traffic congestion at Carolina North.

We strongly encourage Sierra Club members and any residents of Chapel Hill who care about the environment to support these four candidates in the November 8th election. They are the best hope for a Town Council that will always make reducing environmental impact a top priority as Chapel Hill grows bigger.

With two years of additional activism – on Carolina North, energy efficiency, open space and environmental protections, Roger Road, environmental standards – by the very measure the Club used in 2005, one might expect a 2007 endorsement.

Over the last two years, I knew I had built a solid reputation for putting our environment front and center. I brought to the table a number of established innovative solutions for reducing environmental impacts, promoting sustainable alternatives and reusing/recycling wasted resources.

Above all, I kept it simple: “Walk the talk.”

As recently as this Spring, when our Council wavered on eco-friendly standards for their Downtown development, I was there making the case for measurable goals. Three of the incumbents, Hill, Strom and Greene, voted for their public-private project even though the developer refused to be held to a goal of %20 energy reduction as measured by acceptable standards.

On the same project, I was there first on the hazardous waste remediation – sizing our obligation, funding the effort accordingly. The same three incumbents downplayed the costs to our Town’s open-ended obligation to clean up that environmental mess.

I’ve supported mandating ASHRAE and AIA 2030 environmental standards for energy efficient buildings, well beyond what some of the incumbents have called for.Beyond that, over the last two years I’ve lobbied (and successfully got) the Town to purchase bio-fuels for its fleet, though I’ve yet to get the majority to agree to targeted reductions in fuel use.

I’ve called for a stronger emphasis on reducing noise and light pollution, including adopting the precepts of the Dark Skies Initiative

As part of the Horace-William’s Citizens Committee (HWCC), I brought metrics to the environmental assay process – setting goals, discussing methodologies for measuring achievement of those goals.

Unfortunately, that necessary additional work was canceled when the Mayor pulled the plug on the HWCC. Fortunately, UNC’s Leadership Advisory Committee on Carolina North did listen and made a serious environmental assay of the Horace-William’s property a key requirement for moving forward.

On other issues, preserving open space, using the wasted landfill gas (LFG) for Town operations, teaming with the County on bio-fuels production, I have been at the forefront – calling for specific measures that would not only improve our local ecology but recycle/reuse wasted resources (two bangs for the same buck).

Whether it was right-sizing our Town’s vehicle fleet (still not done after a commitment to do so over 4 years ago), calling for the Town to get Duke Energy to use much more efficient light fixtures in our street lights (6 years now without action by Council), using technology to reduce car trips to the new Town Operations Center (ignored, and no longer championed by the dissolved Technology Board) – my efforts have been backed by solid, detailed, research and marked by a pragmatic, practical approach to solving problems.

Throughout, I’ve called on our Town to “walk the talk.”

Where was the concern for tree protection, for instance, when Southern Park was clear cut? Where was the commitment to carbon reduction (CRED) by reducing our Town’s fuel use or replanting appropriately at the new Town Operations center?

Lots of talk, but very poor follow through. Deeds, in the case of our incumbents, don’t always follow the words.

But it hasn’t just been about the environment. What about social justice?

Strangely ignored by our local Sierra Club, the environmental consequences of siting the landfill, and, now, the trash transfer station in the Rogers Road community have been well known for years. I remember two of the neighborhoods representatives, Fred Battle and Rev. Campbell, asking for relief at a Council meeting nearly eight years ago (and many times since).

They were asking Chapel Hill to make good on promises made a decade prior – to show some basic, decent, human concern.

The burden has only increased over the years but our elected folks have just not responded adequately to our neighbors just concerns. Many of their concerns – slowing down traffic, picking up spilled litter, improving the safety along Rogers Road – could be addressed by low cost means. Our Town, which has dumped trash in their backyards, could certainly allocate some funds to deal with the sewer and water problems.

Yet, two of our incumbents, Jim Ward and Bill Strom, over eight years, have moved slowly, if at all, to address this case of obvious environmental injustice. In spite of escalating requests, over the last four years, Cam Hill and Sally Greene joined Bill and Jim in mostly ignoring the pleas of our neighbors.

Yes, there was murmured concern but when it came to making measurable progress – the results were anemic – and quite unsatisfying to the Rogers Road community.

Not only have I spoken out on behalf of our neighbors, I’ve documented their case and have made specific proposals for addressing some of their concerns.

Why the Sierra Club refuses to address this environmental injustice in their own backyard I don’t know.

I do know that when I asked their political committee why I wasn’t asked about this glaring issue during my interview, two of the members told me that they thought it wasn’t part of the Club’s or Chapel Hill’s docket. I pointed out that the next Council will definitely be ruling on the County’s solid-waste plans and Rogers Road – even if we dispense with common neighborly courtesy – is squarely our Town’s concern.

In the recent League forum you can compare my response to those of the incumbents (40 minutes in).

Once you review the footage, I’d ask, “Who would you want standing in your corner?”

In 2005, the Sierra Club said I was a candidate well-suited for addressing our Town’s environmental issues:

Will Raymond has been one of the most outspoken and effective citizen activists in Chapel Hill in recent years. We look forward to him using his talents to advocate for the environment as a member of Town Council. In particular we are excited about his initiatives to promote energy efficiency in town buildings. He will also work to protect lesser known creeks in the Chapel Hill area and to minimize the number of single occupancy vehicles causing air pollution and traffic congestion at Carolina North.

Yes, these last two years, I built upon that activism – on Carolina North, energy efficiency, open space and environmental protection – the Sierra Club endorsed.

But I knew this year, because of Sierra Club politics at the State level, and because of my repeated calls to the Sierra Club’s leadership to take a principled stand on a number of environmental issues, I had very little chance to secure an endorsement. I had some small hope that the Club would surmount the politics and select the candidates that have shown the courage to “do” over those that have had the opportunity to “do more” and haven’t.

So, a small hope but little expectation. Given the Club’s assurance that they would carefully review my record, I did expect they would get my name right:

Dear Ray,
One great thing about Chapel Hill is that fact we have so many candidates with positive ideas about the environment and who have contributed to the community. Based upon the interviews, forum, voting records and other information we made our recomendation to the state Sierra Club. I’m glad to hear about your concerns about carrying capicity for Chapel Hill and hope you will continute to pursue them, however we decided to endorse other
candidates who had more experience. Thank you for spending time with us to share your ideas and thoughts and of
course, please keep on talking them up.
I was unable to post the forum. I am having copies made. If you contact me after Tuesday I can lend you a copy of the DVD.

Sincerely,
Loren Hintz

Voting records? I’ll have to wait for that opportunity. On every other 2005 Club expectation, I delivered.

As far as sharing my ideas and “talking them up” to promote a sustainable community that lives within the limits of its “carrying capacity” Loren, you can count on that.

Sincerely.

What! Chapel Hill isn’t the only election this year?

The League kindly allowed me to post Carrboro’s forum to googleVideo. Interesting overlap in themes this year….



Mia Burroughs is reminding folks that they have until October 31st to help name the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools (CHCCS) newest elementary school out on Eubanks Road, near the Rogers Road neighborhood

The newest school is located adjacent to the former Morris Grove elementary school, a school created to serve the educational needs of the local black community.

The Morris Grove school was created in the late 1800s by Morris Hogan, son of a female slave and her owner. A farmer and local statesman, Hogan put his own land and money into the one-room wooden schoolhouse. The state paid the salaries of two instructors, who, depending on the decade, taught six, seven or three grades.

Patrick Winn, Chapel Hill News, Feb. 10th, 2007

Morris also had a long-standing passion for education as a passport to a better life for his own and other black children. Yet in the late 1800s, the Orange County school board had few funds for school construction and operation. To fill the void, the board sanctioned the opening of many simple, usually one-room, segregated schools that were built and operated by local individuals or groups.

Morris won permission to create the Morris Grove Elementary School, using his own land and funds, at what is now 402 Eubanks Road. It is remembered as a simple frame structure with only pump water, outdoor toilets and a Spartan interior heated by a wood stove in cold weather. Instruction for six grades was taught by one teacher. The school probably stayed in operation from the 1880s to the 1920s, until tax-based public schools took over. All of the Hogan children and some of the grandchildren attended it.

Doug Eyre, Chapel Hill News, Nov. 17th, 2006

Naming the new school Morris Grove would not only honor a slice of our community’s history but serve as an excellent educational reference point for students. Even in the supposedly progressive environs of Chapel Hill, we’re still working to bridge historical divides.

And only knowing where you’ve been can you get where you are going.

Please cast your vote in favor of Morris Grove by answering this CHCCS online survey.

In keeping with their charter to “encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government” and “influence public policy through education and advocacy”, the the League of Women Voters of Orange-Durham-Chatham held a forum for Chapel Hill Town Council Oct. 1st. Also, in keeping with that charter, they provided me the raw footage so I could “webify” it for wider distribution.




The local Sierra Club, so far at least, has decided not to accept my offer of assistance. They plan to post their forum sometime soon. I’ll post a link when it goes live.

A big thank you to the local chapter of the League of Women Voters for an excellent forum this evening. Vicki Boyer, who occasionally posts on OrangePolitics kept the show moving along with a variety of audience questions.

Unlike the Sierra Club forum, the environmental and social justice issues surrounding our neighbors out on Rogers Road (of which I have spoken about numerous times) got a fairly decent airing. The $8 million Downtown Development boondoggle merited one round.

The forum’s format, a round of answers with some opportunity for give-and-take, suited tonight’s questions. I hope the public and the local media take some time to mull over our responses.

There were a few surprises from the non-incumbents: Kevin Wolff bringing up voter-owned elections, Penny Rich suggesting punishing Downtown landlords who wouldn’t fill their storefronts, Matt Czajkowski’s excellent point that Chapel Hill has become introverted.

Of course, the incumbents tried to take credit for all the successes over the last four years while trying to dodge any responsibility or account for any of the mistakes.

Some of the successes – hiring an economic development officer, developing a strategic economic development plan, the Town’s new fiber network – were issues I brought forward first.

As far as surprises from the incumbents, I appreciated Mayor Foy’s complementary observation that I have an eye for efficiency.

Jim Ward’s bit of criticism (Incumbency Is Not Enough or Nineteen Seconds Is Too Long) about the 19 seconds I went over my time on one response provided some humor.

And Cam Hill, one of the negotiators on Lot #5, quoting a citizen outlay about $1 million short of the actual figure (CHN). I’ve been up since 6am and can understand a fumble –
hope fatigue explains his sloppy accounting.

The League graciously allowed me to assist them in posting tonight’s video on the web.

I’m preparing for upload now and expect the full video to be available by tomorrow evening (I’ll post a new article when it’s done).

Oh, and the Sierra Club has since declined my offer to post their forum on the Internet. They plan to do it themselves. I’ll keep an eye on their progress and will announce its availability.

I was recently asked by a close observer of the local political scene what I thought of the power of incumbency.

I mentioned the rather obvious. Watching the incumbents appear at gatherings “bearing gifts”. The several months of the election cycle the incumbents appear, in their official capacity, regularly before the public reminding folks of “gifts” yet to be given. The near impossibility for new candidates, like Penny and Matt, to get a column inch (for me, merely difficult). The incumbents’ meanderings – part of the ongoing story – inserted freely.

That’s why Jim Ward’s complaint, that I ran over 19 seconds on one of my answers at the League of Women Voters forum this evening, seemed a trifling stingy. I didn’t mean to go over, Jim (heck, I even apologized) but you are an incumbent and already bring so many advantages of incumbency to the table! Why begrudge me a few extra seconds to try to complete my thought.

[flashvideo width=”320″ height=”240″ filename=”http://citizenwill.org/campaign/video/NineteenSecondsTooLong_320x240.flv” /]

Funny thing. Ater giving me a bit of “what for”, Jim spent 44 seconds, a full 14 seconds more than he was supposed to, just 5 seconds short of my trespass, answering the same question. Another advantage of incumbency – that moderators defer to already elected folk and will let them plow on – I learned of the hard way in 2005.

[flashvideo width=”320″ height=”240″ filename=”http://citizenwill.org/campaign/video/JimWardsComplaint_320x240.flv” /]

Thanks Matt for offering up your time.

And even though we have very few remaining opportunities to talk to the public during this election cycle, I’ll continue to practice brevity so I won’t have to take you up on your kind offer. Maybe by Nov. 6th I’ll be able to compress my message down to a length suitable for even the most discerning of the incumbents.

Last night there was an unfortunate and possibly gang-related incident at Rosemary Street’s Visions nightclub.

At approximately 1:00 a.m. this morning officers responded to a report of gun shots at Visions Night Club located at 136 E. Rosemary Street. Multiple shots were reportedly fired from a handgun by an unidentified black male suspect after a fight occurred inside. Six victims were treated for non-life threatening gunshot wounds at area hospitals. Some of the victims identified have known gang affiliations. Due to the low lighting and the confusion associated with the large crowd, the suspect exited the night club shortly after firing the shots.

Lt. Kevin Gunter, CHPD

I was relieved to hear no one suffered grave injury.

I was also struck by the timing – it was just one year ago that then Police Chief Jarvies issued this memo [PDF] enumerating the reasons for closing Avalon, a similar venue on Rosemary St. I work close to Avalon and saw the escalation of minor problems into what became the culminating event leading to its closure – the July 30th, 2006 fatal shooting of Kevdrian Swan.

This was not the first incident at Avalon or, as Chief Jarvies noted, 136 East Rosemary St., the then location of Player’s, the current location of Visions.

My first thought was: “What should we have learned from the Avalon mess? Why didn’t our Town do more to prevent another outbreak of violence?”

Chief Jarvies pointed out the Players had the second highest incidence of serious offenses. The plan was to meet with the owners of that club and try to prevent another Avalon type outcome.

Why, a year later, are we dealing at the same location with what could have been a worse tragedy? Couldn’t the Town intervene earlier? Why didn’t it?

Both citizens and the media report that problems – including violent behavior – had been escalating at Visions (and spilling over into the nearby neighborhoods). The pattern was established but the Town failed to act.

As a University town, night clubs are a act of life. The Town should be able to foresee, especially with the growing influence of gangs in the Triangle, that venues like Visions can attract a dangerous crowd. Why don’t we have a standard mechanism for working with club owners to forestall these issues? Why aren’t we monitoring these flash points?

As far as Visions, I’d like to hear more about the incident. The knee-jerk response is to call for its closure – to go into reactive mode – something our Council is quite adept at.

Since we apparently missed an opportunity to learn some lessons from Avalon, I’m asking Council to make an effort to learn from Visions. If these venues are going to be allowed to operate, we should damn well be proactive and be ready to clamp down when we see a pattern of problems developing.

I’ve supported the CHPD’s efforts to become more “gang savvy” (here’s what I said about funding on WCHL).
I called on Council to provide a little “helper” funding to help make the recent Governor’s Crime Commission grant a bit more effective (didn’t happen).

Whether I’m elected or not, I will be asking Council again to support adequate gang education for both our police force and our community. And, as I said one year ago, we need to do more than deploy officers Downtown. We need to re-balance our force to nip issues before they escalate.

That is why I’m encouraged by an objective our Town Manager set our new new police chief, Chief Curran, to “expand the community policing efforts of the department so that community policing becomes a belief system within our department”.

Finally, Office Gunter asks:

Anyone with information about the shooting, please call either the Chapel Hill Police Department at 968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 942-7515. Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and anonymous, and the caller may be eligible for a cash reward up to $1,200 for information that leads to arrest.

Forewarned, supposedly, is forearmed. We obviously missed a few lessons from the Avalon mess, hopefully we won’t miss the lessons of Visions.

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