October 2008


Quick reminder that there is another joint meeting between Council and UNC’s BOT representatives tonight (Oct. 22nd) from 7 – 9:30 pm at the Chapel Hill Public Library (no agenda online – boo!).

Tonight’s meeting continues to flesh out the policy surrounding use of a development agreement for Carolina North (previous posts here and here).

More on the nuances of development agreements here: Exactions, Dedications and Development Agreements Nationally and in California: When and How Do the Dolan/Nollan Rules Apply [PDF] and Development Agreements: Bargained for Zoning That is Neither Illegal Contract or Conditional Zoning [PDF]. Description of some possible legal pitfalls here:

  1. NJ Supreme Court Holds that a Development Company Cannot be Required to Pay More than its Fair Share of Off-Site Improvements, Irrespective of Development Agreement
  2. Zoning Requires Uniformity and CA Appeals Court Says Developer Agreement is Not a Substitute for Rezoning
  3. DURAND V. IDC BELLINGHAM, LLC:TOWNS FORSALE?

The Durand case is interesting. The development agreement between Bellingham and a developer was set aside by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court because “rezoning action was tainted and improperly influenced by the presence of a large cash gift from a developer”. In that case, an $8 million payment to the municipality for “general use” in return for zoning consideration was considered improper.

Here’s a brief outline of my comments to Council at the Oct. 15th Public Hearing on Guiding Development at Carolina North (video of the meeting here).

Tonight you are being asked to approve a resolution that does three things: start the development agreement process, create a base zone for Carolina North and agree to a timetable.

I endorse moving forward with this resolution
  - flexibility and predictability
    - caution: flexibility is a double-edge sword - make sure requests comply with:
        + LUMO, comprehensive plan 
    - exactions outside normal zoning law
    - secondary agreements - lease, easement, contract extending reach of 
    - mechanism to extend beyond term of team members
      - process must live outside of tenure of negotiators 
         + not an agreement between Mayor Foy and Chairman Perry but current
           and future Councils/UNC BOTs
      - "escape hatch" - resolution doesn't bind us to development
         agreement

CONCERNS

-- process
   - transparency
     - ex parte communications - no side comments like Barry Jacobs/UNC airport
   - evidentiary process 
     - apply to some part of the process
     - establish factual basis for agreement within a couple quasi-judicial proceedings
   - public hearings/outreach
     - multiple checkpoints in process - let public know of progress
     - website FAQ/all questions asked by public, answers online
     - "bang drum loudly" - seek out neighborhoods, don't expect folks at public 
       hearings

-- other questions
   - impact fees not normally assessed elsewhere, how does this
     fit with fiscal equity
   - "freeze" rules, most examples compatible underlying zone
      new zone - explain flexibility
   - application of general development philosophy, requirements to out-parcels...
     - Airport Dr.
     - Duke Energy parcel
     - method to incorporate other parcels under guiding philosophy

-- schedule - aggressive - huge undertaking - lots of moving parts
   - number of concerns need to be resolved ASAP
     - clear list of UNC "will and will nots"
       + LAC process has already high-lighted a few/formalize

-- new zone
   - developed outside of but in cooperation with planning board, highly public
   - OI-4 controls a built-out footprint, new zone more open ended
   - new zone needs to go beyond "base"
     + zone will act as safety net
     + effectively manage unanticipated edge cases, etc.

-- fiscal, transportation, other studies not ready
   - need to merge their schedules into dev. agreement schedule

-- requirements complimenting/exceeding zone and LUMO guidelines
   - new task force
     - HWCC environmental elements - light pollution, air particulate
       + measurable goals parking ratios, noise, particulates, light, etc.

-- specific metrics - "best in class"
   - Arizona/Hawaii light pollution
   - air particulates 
     - energy budget/carbon footprint
     - AIA 2030

-- enforcement provisions - look at "best practice"
   - loose enough to manage mistakes, tight enough to control growth

-- secondary legal agreements 
   - usually implement elements outside zoning requirements
   - who will develop - lawyers from Town or UNC or both?
   - who pays?

-- multi-governmental negotiations/agreements
   -  Is there adequate time for multi-governmental cooperation?

-- cost management
  - defray costs to Town
    - building permit fees won't cover upfront planning dept. costs
     + chip away good idea 

One suspicion raised by the local organization Preserve Rural Orange is that the newly proposed UNC airport has more to do with private desire than the public good.

UNC’s lead on the formation of an Airport Authority, Kevin Fitzgerald, was already hard-pressed to justify the recent fabulous (as in: “almost impossible to believe; incredible”) claims made by UNC’s consultants that the airport would generate $40M to $53M in yearly economic activity.

Those claims are utter balderdash (read the draft report [PDF]).

Now it appears, as the Chapel Hill News’ Mark Schultz reports over on OrangeChat, that the report had some private backing – to the tune of $30,000.

According to public records, two prominent businessmen — Jim Heavner and J. Adam Abram, contributed $15,000 each toward $100,000 paid to Talbert & Bright. The money helped retain the consulting firm and fund its working paper, according to Kevin Fitzgerald, associate dean of the medical school, which contributed $20,000.

The remaining $50,000 came from the university, and both the med school and university contributions were not from state appropriations, UNC spokesman Mike McFarland said in an e-mail.

I’ve met Jim a few times. He has always been cordial. He owns WCHL 1360 (wonder if they’ll report the link?) and was nice enough to invite me to one of his radio round-tables. I’ve known that he has opposed moving Horace-Williams for years. I assumed that was why WCHL news seemed to be less than critical of the report than other local media outlets. I’m surprised that he is comfortable underwriting this draft report which makes some rather tenuous extrapolations in justifying the $40M figure.

It is great to see Mark tear into a local story. As much as I like the Carrboro Citizen (Happy First Birthday!), I don’t want Chapel Hill to be a one-horse town.

By the way, Preserve Rural Orange is having another community meeting. Laura Streitfeld sends this:

Since our first meeting in late September, news and letters about UNC’s airport plans have generated increasing interest from the wider community. Committees have begun to work on research, outreach, speaking with officials and continuing to gather petition signatures to build our case against building an airport in rural Orange County. At last count, there were 1980 signatures– that’s 180 more people who signed during the week and a half after we presented petitions to county commissioners. While the petitions came out of our community’s concerns over being a likely site, we stand with all of rural Orange County in urging UNC to move its operations permanently to RDU or another existing airport.

This organization is still in its early formation and there will be many opportunities for those who wish to be more involved. If you know of people who don’t use email but would like to be included in our communications, please send us their names and phone numbers. Our website is almost complete and we’ll let you know within the next day or two when it’s ready
for you to log on and get more information. The web address is:

preserveruralorange.org

At our next meeting we’ll hear from local residents who would be affected if an airport were built. We’ll also hear from others including elected officials and community leaders, who will speak of the potential impacts on the environment, our health, and the economy that would result from building an airport. There will be time for questions and answers afterward.

Attached is a flyer with the meeting announcement. We anticipate a large turnout, so please bring your folding chairs just in case!

Please come and be part of the discussion, and spread the word. Here are the details:

Monday, October 27th 7:00 pm

White Cross Recreation Center 1800 White Cross Road, Chapel Hill [MAP]

Speakers will include:

  1. Senator Ellie Kinnaird
  2. Bernadette Pelissier, Candidate for Orange County Commissioner
  3. Mitch Renkow, NC State Economist
  4. Elaine Chiosso, Executive Director, Haw River Assembly
  5. Jutta Kuenzler, Kuenzler Wildlife Habitat Preserve
  6. Nancy Holt, Carolina Concerned Citizens
  7. Local Land Owners

Even though local environmentalist have talked about our county’s responsibility to manage its waste stream responsibly – not dumping the problem on another community – I couldn’t find a recent request to the Board of Commissioners by either a organization or an individual to start the process of developing either a new landfill or a sound alternative. With the missteps selecting the trash transfer site fresh in our community’s mind, I thought that starting that search now would give our community plenty of time to come to terms with what I think is a civic responsibility.

Why? Simply because it will take years to build community consensus on, one, whether we do have an obligation to manage our waste locally and two, what kind of facility is most appropriate.

Earlier this year, the Board of Commissioners did direct the Solid Waste Advisory Board to research alternative waste management technologies with an eye to the future. Their Oct. 7th report on Solid Waste Process Technology Assessment [PDF-huge] and September minutes [PDF] sketches out both the advantages and pitfalls of existing technologies.

Their comments also reveal that the greatest hurdle is political, not technical.

For instance, one promising, though expensive, alternative is to use of waste to produce energy. The only financially feasible way to implement incineration, at least at Orange County’s current level of waste production, is to develop a regional approach in cooperation with surrounding counties and the University (one concern is that there is a “secret plan” to build this type of a facility or a new landfill on the excess acres purchased for the new transfer site).

Incineration can be done in an environmentally friendly fashion and appears, at least using state of the art techniques, not to have as large of a carbon footprint as transporting waste 90 miles to a landfill that doesn’t capture its methane by-products.

Incineration, of course, is even less politically popular than landfills.

In either case, the search for a reasonable and supported solution will take time. Selling the public, probably years. Developing the political will (and backbone) probably even longer.

Shipping waste out-of-county was NEVER going to be a longterm solution (unless fuel cost stay constant and other communities willingness to host our garbage continues ad infinitum). Recognizing the built-in limitation of the transfer process now and acting accordingly is the responsible course to take.

After this evening’s solid waste transfer site meeting, I took a second to ask Alice why she said delaying the final site selection would lead to “garbage piling up”. She had made that statement earlier, in an effort to encourage her colleagues to make a decision by mid-November.

Orange County’s landfill is slated to close in 2011 (Trash Talk: The Ticking Clock). Our solid waste management folks say it’ll take 18 months to get the new transfer site up and running. The BOCC has to figure out the financial impacts, find the revenue and let the contracts sometime early next year to make that date.

But if the County doesn’t make that date, will trash really pile up?

No, as Alice should know. Even though the local municipalities supposedly balked at shipping their waste to Durham’s transfer station ($42/ton + fuel), I’m fairly sure that Orange County can negotiate a temporary use of that facility while a new one in Orange County is built. If a delay of a few months buys community consensus and confidence, the temporary financial inconvenience will be well worth it.

The Orange County Board of Commissioner’s narrowed the possible trash transfer sites to three – 779, 759 and 056 – this evening during their special working session [agenda].
All three are along Hwy 54.

While I’m quite happy that the Rogers Road community is off the hook, at least for now, I’m troubled by the process used in narrowing the field.

As I said to the BOCC several months ago, the process must be more than seem to be fair, it must be measurably fair. This reiterated my March 2007 call (Trash Talk: Systematic is the New Watchword) to junk Orange County’s Solid Waste Advisory Board’s subjective analysis and replace it with the more objective decision-matrix process.

Beyond objective metrics, I added that the criteria used must be understandable and equitably applied in order to build confidence within our community that the end-result – placing an unwelcome solid waste transfer facility in someones backyard – was fair.

I was quite pleased that the BOCC did adopt a matrix approach and had their consultant, Olver [Orange County site], rank sites based on three broad sets of criteria: exclusionary – which removed sites, technical – which ranked sites by their suitability and community – which introduced community values, like environmental justice, into the process.

The rub is in applying the criteria correctly, objectively and equitably. As once again demonstrated this evening, the BOCC and their consultant still are having difficulties with application.

I’m fairly sure that a number of citizens attending this evening – including those who dodged the bullet – were concerned that necessary criterion – cost, transportation, environmental, infrastructure – were either missing or not applied correctly.

For instance, in re-checking my Mar. 9th, 2007 analysis of the county’s projected “centroid of waste production” (2035 Orange County’s Garbage Center of Gravity?) – incorporating additional data from Mebane, Durham County and extrapolating growth at the newly approved developments like Buckhorn – I’m remain convinced that Olver’s calculations are off. This is critical as sites are excluded if they lie 12 miles or more beyond the center of waste production. I informally suggested the County have UNC’s relevant academic departments do a quick review – there’s still time.

I attended the meeting this evening to reiterate my concern that the public outreach portion of the process is “designed for failure”.

As I cautioned the BOCC before, this cannot become a matter of “Us and Them” – neighbor against neighbor. So far, building bridges between folks has been left to the community – with the Rogers Road coalition leading the way.

In spite of professing their desire for community input, there has been a failure to incorporate citizen contributions from previous meetings. Worse Barry Jacobs confusing behavior this evening – “running out the clock” to limit community comments – left more than a few citizens new to this issue dismayed (I spoke to several after the meeting – they all thought Barry did it deliberately).

Considering the problems in applying the technical and exclusionary principles, Olver’s confusing “draft” community input document, the severe self-imposed time-line and other similar issues, I’m worried that the BOCC will arrive at a decision that doesn’t account for community concerns.

[UPDATE] Herald-Sun story (sorry, they still don’t get it – registration required).

Councilmember Laurin Easthom sketches out the scope of work required to diligently discharge a Council member’s civic responsibilities.

As she notes, agendas can weigh in at 11 lbs. Meetings are more frequently going until 1am. Preparation takes hours and hours. And the work expands well beyond what most folks usually see – liaising with other community groups and governmental entities, special sessions, representing the Town in all sorts of contexts, meetings with concerned citizens – much of which can be scheduled at most inopportune times.

Laurin has done a great service not only outlining the amount of work, but also how prepared a new member must be, as Mayor Foy has said the Council wants, to “hit the ground running”.

Beyond that, she suggests a new member must be ready to forge ahead with their own agenda:

Decide what you want to do in a proactive way on the council. It would be easy to sit up there and just vote on things as they come along in reactive mode, but most council members have areas that they really want to work on making changes and spend extra time on those issues that are important to them. These are not always items on the agenda and things the public might see every day.

Laurin is right. Not all the issues our community faces appear on the Council’s agenda. Serving the community as a qualified Council member requires more than a passive approval of the status quo. Active engagement is a necessity – an applicant should consider if they have the fortitude to take the lead where none is currently offered.

That said, Council is appointing a new member for six months. If I’m appointed, I expect the lion-share of my effort going towards reducing our Town’s financial exposure, supporting and improving the on-going Carolina North negotiation process and a handful of issues I’ve contributed to over the years like economic development, environmental metrics, Downtown’s revitalization, human services and teaming up with our existing internal technology team to rework our Town’s Internet strategy. There are also Town and County boards I wish to serve on (more on that in my formal application).

Realistically, though, there is a mountain of work to be done in a very short time. An applicant wishing to excel needs to understand that. I also hope that an applicant is willing to put aside their near-term political ambitions and concentrate exclusively on the tasks at hand.

In any case, I well understand and respect the amount of work – those many hours it takes – to discharge ones Council duties at a level that our community deserves.

I spend upwards of 30 or more hours a week reading and researching UNC, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County agenda items. I attend board meetings, UNC community outreach events and other community functions to better understand the context in which policy is formed. My opinion on many issues evolves as input from our talented community pours in, as time reveals nuances not immediately obvious, as debate (yes, some issues get public debate) deepens my understanding.

I also try to engage our community, here on CitizenWill and elsewhere, by providing not only a particular, hopefully informed, opinion but links to or copies of the primary source materials I used to arrive at a particular policy endorsement.

I applied for the position knowing that I’ll miss dinners, start early and go late, in order to perform my civic duty at a level our community deserves. Luckily, I have a very, very understanding family, a flexible work schedule (as a full-time software engineer working Downtown) and nearly a decade of practice wedging civic activities into a pretty full life.

Laurin, I wish you posted more often. Providing an insiders viewpoint is a great assist to any citizen thinking about applying.

Dr. David Owens, Gladys Hall Coates Professor of Public Law and Government at UNC and advisor to Council on the development agreement process, has responded to my Oct. 14th.

Will,

Roger Stancil passed your queries along to me.

You asked if the Council is in some way bound to follow this approach should they determine to start on this path. They are not. The Council can at any time decide that the process is not working and needs to be modified or abandoned. All existing options remain open until the Council actually adopts a development agreement (with that accompanying LUMO text and zoning map amendment).

The issue of how to set measurable performance goals — what they are and how they are monitored — is essentially the same for all of the tools available to the town. For each approach the Town has the difficult task of addressing the substantive question of what those goals and standards are and how they are monitored. While I will discuss the enforcement question in more detail with the Council tonight, the short answer is that the Town retains all of its existing enforcement tools and a development agreement, to the extent it changes things at all, enhances enforcement options.

The scope of provisions in a development agreement is subject to negotiation and can be as broad or narrow as the parties agree to make it. One significant advantage to a development agreement is that it allows a broader range of issues to be addressed in binding approval requirements than most any other regulatory approach. As one would expect, the scope of the provisions is frequently a significant point of negotiation between local governments and applicants. The question of how long an agreement runs and how much development is approved is often related to the range and scope of mitigation measures applicants are willing to commit to. But the ultimate answer to this query is that it is for the most part whatever there is mutual agreement on.

I hope this helps.

It certainly does.

Since a development agreement provides a legal framework for requiring adherence to standards above and beyond existing zoning requirements, I am exploring how the Town can negotiate “best in class” environmental expectations somewhat along the lines of the work proposed by the Horace-Williams Citizens Committee sub-committee on environment.

Those requirements, which I set the stage for (May 26th, 2006’s The Last Horace Williams Citizen’s Committee. Hurrah?), would set the “greeness” bar moderately high for UNC. Of course, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I wouldn’t ask, though, if I didn’t know that our world-class University has the capability, if not the will, to meet environmental standards typically applied in other jurisdictions.

Thank you Dr. Owens for the quick reply.

I will be attending this evening’s meeting I’m glad to hear your going to explore some of these issues in greater depth. Before the Horace-Williams Citizens Committee was decommissioned, the environmental sub-group had started to create a framework for establishing specific “best in class” environmental benchmarks for Carolina North. We also discussed how to monitor compliance – so many candlepower per square foot for light pollution, so many gallons of runoff, so much particulate pollution, etc. – and possible enforcement procedures. This is the context behind some of my questions.

Since your Sept. 25th meeting I’ve had an opportunity to research several other states adoption of this process. While the basic theme is the same, it’s interesting to see how different jurisdictions bind community needs to developer requirements. One issue, though, that I haven’t found much material on is the public hearing process. You might recall from the Sept. 25th meeting my concern about evidentiary procedure. It appears many communities dispense with a quasi-judicial framework and defer to an informal process.

I’m going to lobby Council for the greatest transparency in adopting the development agreement: no ex parte discussions, minutes of all meetings, some formal evidentiary proceedings and informal – though open, documented – discussion. I know Council has indicated they want the community to have a full opportunity to weigh in but given the tight timetable, I’m afraid that the public might be shortchanged as the process concludes. This is not an abstract concern, as this has happened several times recently. Any suggestion on how to build in this transparency from day one?

Thank you again for work on behalf of Chapel Hill.

I appreciate Dr. Owens rapid response.

I’m not afraid to ask questions – dumb or not – in order to zero in on the relevant issues. I have a number of updates from recent requests on everything from the County’s e-waste management to the Police department’s “eyes on the community” plan in the pipeline. I hope to share soon – keep an eye out.

John McCain really stepped in it out West. When he suggested sending more of Colorado’s precious water south to Arizona, a broad spectrum of citizens rose up to condemn him.

Water, it appears, is precious, no matter what a Coloradan’s political stripe.

Our own multi-governmental OWASA (Orange Water and Sewer Authority) has suggested we borrow additional water from the Haw River, either from the Town of Haw River, or directly, via a pipeline as suggested by this 2008 Stage 3 drought emergency plan.

A Stage Three declaration will also highlight our preparations for a worst case drought response that will provide for temporarily pumping water from the Haw River to the Cane Creek Reservoir. Unless supplementary water is available from neighboring communities, this will be the most viable option for ensuring that we do not run out of water under worst case conditions. Cost estimates for the temporary system are under development, but will likely be in the $4.5 million to $8 million range, depending on the duration and volume of pumping. Specific funding source(s) have not yet been identified, but any supplemental revenue from the Stage Three surcharges will offset a portion of those costs

$4.5 to $8 million sounds outrageous but pales in comparison to the estimated cost of $50 million to cooperatively tap the ever filthier Lake Jordan.

Over the next few years, Chapel Hill’s citizens have to decide whether they have a firm commitment to “live within our means”, to bound development based on our local carrying capacity or to continue expanding to the extent we have to take other folks vital resources (and further diminish the viability of our natural environments, such as the Haw River corridor). There’s little will to substantively take on the long term consequences of our current trajectory. Even with the incredible conservation efforts our local citizenry and institutions have demonstrated, what was once a Stage 3 emergency will become a daily necessity.

Shipping waste 90 miles or pumping water 30 doesn’t jibe with our responsibility to maintain our community’s footprint within what resources are available. Living within that footprint, especially as energy costs increase, makes great economic sense. But for all the teeth gnashing some local politicos and a few green-washed foundations like to engage in, we have taken too few practical and effective steps to realize that commitment.

Talking about commitment (mental?), I was just looking over some old and new requests I have made of our local elective bodies these last eight years.

From my newest one to the Orange County Board of Commissioners – asking them to begin the process to either site a new landfill or develop an in-county alternative for waste management – to one of my oldest to Chapel Hill’s Town Council – setting a goal to reduce fuel use by %5-10, measuring progress and rewarding folks that exceed our expectations – I’ve tried to push a proactive approach to living within our community’s “means”. Water use, available land, even the ability of a wide cross-section of our residents to pay their property taxes, should all play a part in our decision to expand. The current local love affair with high-density, mixed-use developments has obscured this central concern: there are limits to responsible growth – growth that doesn’t demand “borrowing” (to use a development euphemism) resources from far-afield – and Chapel Hill is quickly nearing those limits.

Still haven’t sold our Council on that concept.

Who needs to wait, though, for a popular uprising? Is the plan to schlep on, continue to rely on a comprehensive plan that lacks the nuance to account for carrying capacity, and build until the taps run dry? Do we dump garbage in someone else’s community until it becomes prohibitively expensive to transport it from ours? Do we limit home ownership to those making well-above our Town and University staff’s median income?

Or do we just wait and wait and wait until our own John McCains “step in it”?

Tomorrow the Town Council will hold a public hearing describing the basic framework for managing Carolina North’s development over the next couple decades. This is the second meeting discussing the framework. The first was Sept. 25th. Unfortunately, I was the only citizen not directly involved – as either a representative of the Town, UNC or the media – there. Here are my [remarks [VIDEO]].

The proposal couples two legal strategies – zoning and a North Carolina development agreement (authorized by NC Statute 160A-400.20 [DOC]) – to set conditions for the proper build-out of the 250+ acre Carolina North project. Under a development agreement, a developer can be bound to conditions – like fiscal equity – that lie well outside the purview of the zoning process. In return for being bound to what is hopefully measurable performance based goals that have specific remedies for non-compliance, the developer can be confident that the rules of the game won’t change mid-stream.

Other benefits and concerns are covered by Prof. David Owens’ excellent Sept. 25th overview.

The development agreement process is new to North Carolina but has been used extensively elsewhere to create a flexible approach in dealing with large projects instead of insisting on piecewise approvals – a process which tends to introduce uncertainty. If I’ve learned one thing about local development in the last ten years, it is developers – and the University is a major developer – want more certitude in Chapel Hill’s approval process. We’ve had folks willing to jump through as many hoops as necessary to push their project forward but, in the end, have decided on a more mediocre approach because of inconsistency in the current process.

A Carolina North development agreement coupled with one or more potentially new zones could be quite effective and mutually beneficial in managing growth of this 50 year project.

Still, there are questions surrounding the application of this process to UNC’s Carolina North project that must be answered before firmly committing the Town to this approach:

For example, here’s a couple from an email I sent Town Manager Roger Stancil and Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos today:

Hello Roger and Ralph,

I have a few quick questions about tomorrow’s meeting and the proposed resolution the Council is being asked to adopt.

First, will citizen comments on the development agreement framework be taken?

Second, as far as the language of the resolution, does proposing the agreement as the “preferred tool” give the Council some wiggle room if they decide the process isn’t working out? In other words, does this mean there is a built-in “escape clause” or will the Council be bound to follow this approach?

Using a development agreement coupled with a new base zone (or zones) seems like a good and equitable strategy but there are some issues – for instance, how one sets measurable performance goals linked to specific remedies for noncompliance or establishing long-term requirements, like green space preservation, beyond the agreements term – that I would like see resolved before the Town commits whole-heartedly to this approach.

Finally, has anyone considered extending the coverage of the development agreement beyond the borders of HWA?

Along those lines, has anyone explored the legality of including a project approved outside of the Carolina North process, like the Innovation Center, into the agreement? The University is developing the Duke Energy property. Last night, UNC described putting a small power generation center on that property to support their Airport Dr. facility. Any discussion on incorporating the development of that property or of the anticipated modifications at the Airport Dr. facility that will support the Carolina North project into the agreement?

Basically, my concern is that once the physical dimensions of the development agreement are established, any supplementary development in support of the Carolina North project outside of the described property cannot be included under that agreement’s provisions. Because various performance goals, like mitigating water runoff, controlling air/light/noise pollution, managing traffic impacts, etc. are expected to be defined as part of the agreement, I want to understand how these secondary projects can be brought under the same umbrella. If these secondary projects don’t require a SUP or zoning change, I don’t see how the Town has any leverage to encourage a voluntary assumption of the development agreement’s obligations.

I know you both are quite busy but it would be great to have an answer prior to tomorrow’s meeting.

Take care,

Will

encl: Resolution language

“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the Council establish the development agreement, with a base zone, as the preferred tool for guiding development at Carolina North; and concurs with the Trustees’ request that June 2009 is a reasonable target date for having established the process for guiding development at Carolina North; and sets the next joint work session with the representatives of the University Trusts for Wednesday, October, 22, 2008.”

http://townhall.townofchapelhill.org/agendas/2008/10/15/1/2008-10-15_r1.htm

I’ll let you know what they have to say. I also have planning to pull together my notes and remarks from the Sept. 25th Special Carolina North Meeting – I’ve got a backlog of posts but I’ll try to get them out ASAP.

One problem I’ve had in trying to change the way our Town does business is that the issues I’m trying to address – higher energy costs, revenues drying up, development policy that drives diversity from our community, financial instability – haven’t reached a level of concern for the greater community.

I’m a proactive guy, work in an industry that rewards innovation and leading not trailing the pack, so it just makes sense to me to work an issue before it rises to a level requiring crisis management. Trying to raise folks concerns about %10-20 tax increases two or more years before they are implemented is a tough task – doubly so when tricks are used by our elected officials to postpone the inevitable. Trying to prepare folks for the impact of $4/gallon gasoline on the Town’s budget when gas in $2/gallon is a tough sell – doubly so when Council members publicly discount prudent measures in spite of obvious trends.

In any case, I’m just dumb enough to keep trying to work issues prior to a crisis point – it just makes good financial and social sense.

A case in point. I asked former Town Manager Cal Horton 4 years ago for public records documenting fuel use by Chapel Hill’s staff. About the same time, I asked for information on electricity use at each of the Town’s facilities. My idea was to identify specific problem areas, measure policy changes to see how effective our Town’s “green” goals were being met, to look at rewarding staff for impressive reductions in their energy use and basically get prepared for the anticipated increase in energy costs.

This was four years ago when gas was under $2 a gallon.

Four years later, after numerous requests, a new Town Manager, I still haven’t received any of those records. I’m going to make another run at doing that analysis – now in retrospect – to see not only see how we can pare down the cost of operating our Town but to understand if the policies so far adopted have had any direct effect.

Here’s what I asked for Sept. 26, 2005:

3a(10). Will Raymond, regarding Agenda Item #5b, Fuel Supply, Cost and Budget Issues for the Town’s General Municipal Fleet and Transit Bus Fleet.

Mr. Raymond petitioned the Council regarding Agenda Item #5b, Fuel Supply, Cost and Budget Issues for the Town’s General Municipal Fleet and Transit Bus Fleet. He noted he had sent the Council an email regarding the purchase of bio-diesel fuel, and was pleased that shortly after that the Town had purchased 1,000 gallons. Mr. Raymond said that was a “fantastic” first step and hoped the Town would follow up on that, noting that at the present time bio-diesel fuel was 20 to 30 cents a gallon cheaper than diesel or kerosene.

Mr. Raymond said there appeared to be some confusion in the agenda item, noting there had been some discussion that they could burn bio-diesel fuel in their buses, and now they were saying that maybe they could not. So, he said, he had called Detroit Engine that made the engines for the buses, and they were recommending to their customers that a 20 percent blend was “perfectly suitable” for those engines. Mr. Raymond said that Detroit Engine had indicated they would be happy to work with the Town and could possibly get that blend higher. He encouraged the Town to contact them and take that action.

Mr. Raymond also suggested that since they were running at a deficit within the fuel budget that they today start with targeted reductions in the amount of fuel they were using. He said they still have vehicles that idle wastefully, and that yesterday he had observed a Town vehicle left idling for two hours. Mr. Raymond said with the price of gasoline that was unacceptable behavior. He asked that the Council take immediate action to conserve fuel.

THE COUNCIL AGREED BY CONSENSUS TO REFER MR. RAYMOND’S COMMENTS TO AGENDA ITEM #5b.

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Robert Kennedy

Robert Kennedy’s presidential run is the first political race I vividly remember. Even though I was young, nearly seven when he died, the enthusiasm my mother showed, some snippets of what he said, the way folks drew courage from his words have stuck with me through the years.

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous, about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”

Robert Kennedy

My mother’s enthusiastic support for George McGovern, apparently the candidate of “amnesty, abortion and acid” (Novak), in 1972 was another watershed moment in my political life. McGovern was not a popular choice in our small, conservative, rural town. Nixon was still popular, though his war, which even touched this small community, wasn’t. His landslide victory, powered by dirty tricks and nasty innuendo, taught me that a well-intentioned, courageous run for office is vulnerable to those willing to use the basest means.

That ’72 race was the first time, though unfortunately not the last time, I felt keen disappointment in an electoral defeat.

At the end of a long campaign, I believe I know our people as well as anyone. Based on this knowledge of Georgians North and South, Rural and Urban, liberal and conservative, I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over. Our people have already made this major and difficult decision, but we cannot underestimate the challenge of hundreds of minor decisions yet to be made.

Governor Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Address – January 12, 1971

I certainly didn’t know who Jimmy Carter was in 1971 (who did outside of Georgia?) but by his 1980 campaign, the first national election I could vote in, I was an admiring supporter. My first year at college, I volunteered to drum up votes for Jimmy “down East” Carolina (east of I-95). On campus, the “progressive” students were throwing their support behind Anderson. While Anderson’s economic policies, including his effort to invest in energy development, had some appeal, Carter, especially in that hell year of ’79, had demonstrated political courage in talking straight about our country’s problems (including race).

Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.

Jimmy Carters, 1979 “malaise” speech to the nation.

Reagan won North Carolina by a hair in 1980 (less than Anderson’s %2.85) but had a landslide in the electoral college. I knew that electing Reagan, a harbinger of style over substance in the Imperial Presidency, was a mistake. His many errors, both foreign and domestic, should have ended his presidency in ’84. Sadly, his incredible popularity with young voters, my peers, over those years made me a bit worried about our country’s future. In spite of Reagan’s formation of an illegal shadow “arms for drugs” government to support his Iran/Contra operation, numerous illegalities and other similar anti-democratic initiatives, his version of a “new day in America” wasn’t antithetical enough to cause a populist uprising.

George “I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing! about Iran/Contra” Bush’s win in 1988, after Reagan’s debilitating tenure was more than disappointing.

Worse, the Democrats inability to field a credible defense throughout the 1980’s led me, and others, to realize that our political process had lost the necessary vitality to meet our country’s escalating challenges. Where was the “loyal opposition”? Heck, where was the “opposition”? If I had known that “Mr. Deregulation’s” administration would father the “Smirking Chimp’s” “torture-r-us” madministration that has plague our nation these last 8 years, I would have worked harder in 1988 to oust him. Daddy Bush’s administration became a breeding ground for all the worst war-loving, Orwellian 1984 emulating, Constitution hating champions of kleptocracy that his son let run roughshod over our citizenry.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that we don’t as a general community want to talk about it [racial issues]. We don’t want to talk about it in political campaigns. I’m guilty of that. We don’t talk about it in social settings. WE don’t talk about it in the work place. We used to talk about race a lot more often back when desegregation was being introduced to our society. There were more interracia l groups that said, “What is this going to mean? What is this going to be all about?” Then we quit talking about 1970 and we really haven’t talked since the so-called demise of desegregation laws. And the fact is that need to do more talking to each other, more bluntly, more commonly.

Harvey Gantt, 1996 PBS Black Issues Forum

While the Democrats followed their defeat in 1988 by shedding the best elements of a populist and progressive agenda, finally stumbling upon a charming winner in Clinton, the general level of political discourse continued to devolve. Pioneered by race-baiting weasels, like North Carolina’s own Senator Helm’s protege Lee Atwater, the new politics introduced a mass-marketed vileness that continues to be repugnant to the proper functioning of popular democracy.

In 1990, I threw myself into the campaign to elect Harvey Gantt to the United States Senate. Harvey was a welcome antidote to Jesse Helms. Jesse’s antics were notorious. When my family moved to North Carolina in the late ’70’s I wondered how representative he was of the state as a whole. The only other Senator from North Carolina I knew was Sam Ervin. Ervin, I thought, didn’t want to desegregate the South but stood against calls to infringe upon our basic civil rights. While I grew to respect Ervin during the Watergate hearings, I wondered how the same North Carolinians that elected him could support a demagogue like Helms.

In the ’90 campaign, I had a chance to work directly on reforming North Carolina’s Helmsian reputation. Gantt was a stand-up candidate who spoke directly on North Carolina’s continuing socio-economic divide. As the first African-American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, his win would be historic. We could replace the race-baiting caricature Helms with a candidate that represented a progressive South.

But 1990 wasn’t Harvey’s, North Carolina’s or my year for progressive reform. The problem? Harvey Gantt is black.

Helms’ Rovian brigade accused the Gantt campaign of running “black only” radio ads, tarred Gantt’s initiatives as communist, claimed Gantt’s support of equal rights for all – including homosexuals (gasp!) – anti-American and capped off their river of crap with this famous “white hands” ad



You needed that job. You were the best qualified, but they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.

I put a lot of heart and soul into that Gantt campaign. In a way working for Gantt was an opportunity for a catharsis – channeling the disappointment I felt from years of Reaganism and Reaganism-lite – into a positive attempt to help set a new path for North Carolina.

I wouldn’t come close to putting that kind of effort into a campaign until Gore’s 2000 run. With Bush’s and the neo-cons fortunes rising within the Republican party, I knew that 2000 was a game-changer of an election. It was obvious that the Cheney/Norquist wing of the GOP was salivating over the buffet a new Bush administration promised. Their reckless, anti-democratic, Orwellian policies might have a fighting chance to flourish with the smirking chimp as figurehead. I hoped that Republican stalwarts, like the then apparently honorable Senator John McCain, would temper these radicals agenda.

Not the case, as recent history has borne out.

The Republican Party in North Carolina said Wednesday it’s launching a television ad calling Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama too extreme for the state, despite the objections of GOP presumptive nominee John McCain. In an e-mail to state GOP chairwoman Linda Daves, McCain said the advertisement was “offensive” and urged party leaders to withhold the ad.

“I don’t know why they do it,” McCain told reporters on his campaign bus Wednesday in Kentucky. “Obviously, I don’t control them, but I’m making it very clear, as I have a couple of times in the past, that there’s no place for that kind of campaigning, and the American people don’t want it.”

McCain said he hasn’t seen the ad but it has been described to him, “and I hope that I don’t see it.” The advertisement raises the specter of Obama’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright, beginning with a photo of Obama and Wright together and a clip of Wright’s contentious remarks about America.

News & Record, Apr. 23, 2008

Which brings us to today, a short 30 days from our country deciding whether it will be four more years (or more) of a disastrous Bush plus agenda or the promise, but by no stretch an iron-clad guarantee, of real, substantive change.

“Evidently there’s been a lot of interest in what I read lately,” she [McCain’s VP pick Sarah Palin] said. “I was reading today a copy of the New York Times. And I was really interested to read in there about Barack Obama’s friends from Chicago. Turns out one of his earliest supporters is a man who, according to the New York Times, was a domestic terrorist, that quote ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and the United States Capitol.'”

Saturday’s New York Times story, an investigation into whether Obama had a relationship with Ayers, concluded that the men were never close and that Obama has denounced Ayers’ radical past, which occurred when Obama, who was born in 1961, was a child. It also found that he has downplayed their contacts.

“This is not a man who sees America as you and I see America,” Palin said of Obama. “We see America as a force for good in this world. We see America as a force for exceptionalism. … Our opponents see America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who would bomb their own country.”

Mercury News, Oct. 4th, 2008

Pal around with terrorists? Unconscionable though not unbelievable coming from the well-oiled Republican smear apparatchik.

The children of Helms, notably Rove, casually display such villainy as part-and-parcel of their practice of politics. That McCain, who was on the receiving end of similar Rovian sponsored lies during his 2000 South Carolina primary (“Would you vote for McCain if you knew he fathered an illegitimate black child?”), is so desperate to win should be caution enough to reject his run but I know better.

Nearly forty years of my own personal history of American politics has taught me that the tactics of smear, the strategies of the non-answer answer, the closing of the ranks, the avoidance of the media, the “big lies” (here’s 107 from McCain), backdoor racism (Bobby May[PDF]) can work their magic on the ill-informed, detached, jaded, cynical, prejudiced and selfish parts of our American electorate.

Yes, Obama’s prospects appear to be on the rise. The day for change, at least in the presidency, might be upon us. But nothing is sure (still time for our own Gulf of Tonkin in the Hormuz Straits).

And if Obama wins, the battles – as the recent $850 billion Wall St. giveaway Democatic cave-in demonstrates (read Keillor’s “They’re Stealing from You and Me — Where’s the Outrage?” or listen to Kucinich on following the bull) – will continue. The war to wrest control of the Congress from the hands of the powerful to those of the people will be hard fought. To win we need a strength of character from our elected officials that we haven’t generally seen this last decade.

If the battle be won, I’m not as confident as I was when I started voting in 1980, that the governed are that interested in the quality of their governance. Recent Chapel Hill politics have provided a few examples of Carter’s malaise.

Then again, I don’t plan to withdraw or cede ground. And I certainly won’t give up either nationally or locally on a citizen-led democracy.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Robert Kennedy, Day of Affirmation Address, University of Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966

The exercise of current politics seems to be a matter of shading or ignoring facts while often obfuscating the truth with misleading rhetoric. Whether as blatant as claiming Obama voted for tax increase 94 times or subtly slick as suggesting prioritizing a delay in building a local library expansion over a pet Downtown development project, the pros no how to manipulate reality to the detriment of our citizenry.

We expect our media to shed light on policy debates (that is when debate isn’t shutdown as a bloc campaign tactic – as we sadly observed in our last local municipal election) but that isn’t always the case.

Luckily, there are some excellent resources for checking the factual basis of this years presidential race with various organizations fact-checking both politician and media statements for accuracy. Examples?

From the Annenberg folk’s FactCheck.org

Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount, but a family of four would not have been affected unless they made at least $90,000 a year.

Biden wrongly claimed that McCain had said “he wouldn’t even sit down” with the government of Spain. Actually, McCain didn’t reject a meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview.

From the Congressional Quarterly and St. Petersburg Times PolitiFact.com

Palin wrongly characterized Barack Obama’s health plan when she said it would be “government-run.”

From Media Matters

National Public Radio senior news analyst Cokie Roberts responded that Sen. Joe Biden “talked about the Bosniaks.” Roberts later said: “[I]f [Gov. Sarah Palin] had said ‘Bosniak,’ everybody would be making a big deal of it, you know.” In fact, Biden correctly referred to certain residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina as Bosniaks. According to the U.S. State Department, as of 2002, the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina consisted of the following ethnic groups: “Bosniak 48.3%, Serb 34.0%, Croat 15.4%, others 2.3%.”

There are more resources than ever to pierce the veil of political spin (BS) that has become the working currency of national politicians. Unfortunately, and especially with our local media in flux, there are far fewer resources to untangle the web some of our local leaders like to spin.

A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

Aesop, 6th Century BC

Had an opportunity tonight to listen in on a group of concerned Hillsborough and southwest Orange County citizens discuss the potential siting of the trash transfer facility in their neighborhoods (Eno River Economic Zone – 2 sites and Hwy. 54 corridor – 3 sites).

A number of issues were raised at the meeting: apparent bias in site selection, the “surprise” announcement of the sites on Hwy. 54 and the Hillsborough zone, weighting of access to water and sewer hookups sans cost of making those connections, inadequate traffic studies, confusing or misapplied scoring of technical criteria, whether the BOCC would implement the more costly enclosed transfer site design previously proposed for Eubanks or shave some costs by going with an open pavilion, concern that Chapel Hill’s/Carrboro’s increased transportation costs were improperly used to justify removing Durham County’s transfer site from consideration, underestimation of water use (500 gals. a day!), possible “hidden” reasons for acquiring 82 acres ($7.5 million the current asking price) instead of a smaller tract, if incineration and ultimate in-county disposal got due attention and a slew of others which I’m sure the Rogers Road community are well acquainted with.

Nathan Robinson, the environmental engineer I wrote about Sept. 16th, a founding member of Orange County Community Awareness, gave the clearest deconstruction of the current solid waste transfer site selection mess that I’ve seen. Orange County’s consultant, Olver, should review his presentation to improve their own dog-n-pony show.

Nathan quickly out-lined the dimensions of the issue, discussing what a solid waste transfer site does, how it is laid out, managed and maintained before launching into an analysis, from his professional viewpoint as an environmental engineer, of the problems associated with the current siting process.

Nathan’s concerns mirror a number of mine, especially in terms of the weighting of the selection criteria, the incredibly confusing community criteria feedback procedure, biased scoring of the technical criteria, analysis of environmental consequences and the evaluation of Orange County’s waste creation “center of gravity” (my Mar. 9th, 2007 post on that issue: 2035 Orange County’s Garbage Center of Gravity? ).

As folks that have read my ‘blog know (or have heard me whinge on about local issues elsewhere), I promote reality-based decision-making using measurable criteria. Not all issues are amenable to this approach. Sometimes you have to make a subjective call – say as to the weighting of the importance of environmental justice in the current transfer site process. As I noted a couple years ago, the previous decision by Orange County’s Solid Waste Advisory Board to plop this new facility back on Eubanks sorely lacked rigor, objectivity and transparency.

I questioned SWAB’s ability to make a sound decision because they didn’t generally use objective, understandable, measurable criteria – technical or otherwise – and what criteria they did use were inequitably evaluated differently depending on context and perceived necessity.

Because of that disconnect, I lobbied the Board of Commissioners (BOCC) to create a more thoughtful process grounded by sound engineering principles, guided by community standards. I was encouraged by the process they adopted, but, just as the BOCC themselves admitted on return from their summer break, greatly concerned by Olver’s implementation.

The folks of Rogers Road shared my concerns and expressed their uneasiness at the BOCC’s Sept. 16th meeting.

Of the concerns expressed and the comments made at the meeting, two need serious highlighting.

First is the statements by Hillsborough’s elective folks – like Mayor Stevens and Commissioner Gering – to this community that “they didn’t know” about the process or potential siting of the solid waste facility near Hillsborough. I attended several Assembly of Orange County Governments meetings where these issues got a thorough airing. As a quick Google of minutes of these meetings document, Hillsborough’s reps had to know that these sites were in-play.

Second, and really the most encouraging of all the comments, was Nathan’s call to adopt a united and collaborative approach in dealing with these outstanding issues.

He said, clearly, that he has come to understand the depth of Rogers Roads concerns, their 36 year struggle to simply have promises made – promises completed. He said, clearly, that equitable environmental justice was a relevant criteria and that this was not a battle between neighbors. When a few comments from the folks assembled veered into the “us versus them” realm, Nathan and some of the other organizers rose to say that their emphasis was on the overall process – their focus to get an reliably objective analysis within the established criteria and remove the confusion around the more subjective components of Olver’s mission.

Finally, and the most heartening of all, Nathan said he was meeting with Rogers Road resident (and champion) Rev. Campbell today to see how they could work together. I well remember the landfill expansion fight – which pitted neighbor against neighbor. An attempt to avoid that rancor from the outset gives hope the community won’t fracture. Interestingly, the folks around the county starting to deal with UNC’s new airport authority, already recognize that a united approach is a better approach.

My hope? That the BOCC improves the process. That they realize that the solid waste transfer decision is a beginning. And they work knowing how these issues are resolved will set the template for the new landfill selection process.

If you’re just stumbling upon my site and want some background, here’s a few posts and links to get you up to speed:

Additional posts on the issue are available by doing a search on “trash” from the sidebar.

Due to the unfortunate passing of Councilmember Bill Thorpe a seat has opened on the Town Council.

I met Bill when we ran for Council in 2005. Many folks who knew Bill have lovingly weighed in on his work on behalf of our community, his wry sense of humor, his particular practice of governance. Fellow colleague Laurin Easthom, for one, had this to say about our friend Bill.

Today’s Herald-Sun reports that the Council will select the next member.

The council will have to try. According to Section 2.3 of the Chapel Hill Town Ordinances, Thorpe’s seat “shall be filled by appointment of the town council for the remainder of the unexpired term.”

Voters won’t have an opportunity to weigh in on the occupant of that seat until next fall, when Thorpe’s place along with three other council positions will go be on the ballot. The winners of the next town council election will taking their seats in December 2009.

The town ordinance leaves council members a lot of room to create a framework for making the appointment. Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos said the language in the ordinance is as specific as is available.

“[The appointment process] is something that they would have to decide, it’s not prescribed,” Town Manager Roger Stancil said.

The last time the Chapel Hill Town Council appointed a new member to fill a vacancy was January 1998 after six-year Councilman Mark Chilton had resigned the previous month. Council members invited citizens to apply for the vacant seat during December and held a special meeting on Jan. 5 at which applicants presented their case for the appointment.

But if I’m reading the Town’s ordinance 2.3 correctly, it leans towards a democratic option:

Sec. 2.3. Vacancies in elected offices.

If any elected town officer shall fail or refuse to be qualified, or if there is a vacancy in any elective town office after qualification, or if the holder of any such office be unable to discharge the duties of the office, then such vacancy shall be provided in the following manner:

(1) A vacancy occurring in the office of mayor, which occurs on or before the fortieth day prior to the 1981 town election shall be filled by the town council only until that election, at which time a mayor shall be elected to serve the remainder of the unexpired term. A vacancy occurring in the office of mayor which occurs at any other time shall be filled by appointment of the town council for the remainder of the unexpired term.

(2) A vacancy occurring on the council, which occurs during the period beginning with the first day of the four year term of office and ending on the fortieth day prior to the next regular biennial town election shall be filled by appointment of the town council only until the next general municipal election at which time a member shall be elected to the remainder of said unexpired term. The candidate receiving the fifth highest number of votes (and if necessary the 6th, 7th and 8th highest number) following those elected for full four-year terms, shall be declared elected for the remainder of the unexpired term. A vacancy occurring on the council, which occurs at any other time shall be filled by appointment of the town council for the remainder of the unexpired term.

(Acts 1979, Ch. 1107, § 1; Acts 1981, Ch. 911, § 7)

If I recall correctly, while Carrboro struggled to fill the vacancy left by Mark Chilton becoming Mayor, a position later given to Dan Coleman, various elected folks from Chapel Hill said we wouldn’t suffer the same fate as the position would most probably go to the candidate “next in line”.

If the Council does appoint a successor using a different yardstick than the 2007 election, I would call upon them to defer towards direct democracy and hold a special election concurrent with the national race.

Having gone through the municipal election cycle twice, it seems within the realm of possibility to mount an abbreviated campaign for this office in the next 35 days.

If the Council dispenses with that direct democracy option, I hope that they do so without regard to gender, political party or ethnicity, as was further suggested by the article and, rather, give due consideration to those folks that ran in 2007.

For background, here’s the Council minutes of the 1998 interview process.

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