December 2009

Chapel Hill’s government is finally doing the survey that the Town’s (now defunct) Technology Board recommended more than 5 years ago.

As you might expect, I have a few questions about the survey, including the cost, why it was done by an out-of-state company, how it was constructed, who it was targeted at initially (online version coming soon), how the data will be analyzed and how transparent the process will be among others.

Don Evans, over on Chapel Hill Watch has already started a thread discussing the survey here (“Survey Says” ).

Here’s the scanned in survey if you’re curious about the questions:

ChapelHillSurvey2009.PDF (4M)
Chapel Hill Cover Page
Chapel Hill Survey Page 1
Chapel Hill Survey Page 2
Chapel Hill Survey Page 3
Chapel Hill Survey Page 4
Chapel Hill Survey Page 5
Chapel Hill Survey Page 6
Chapel Hill Survey Page 7

Here’s each of the interested applicants for the current Council vacancy.

That vacancy will be discussed and probably filled at tonight’s special Council meeting.

Over the last 8 years I’ve served this community mainly as a citizen activist and volunteer. Over the last 4 years I ran 3 times for Council in order to serve our community more effectively.

Though I’ve only garnered 5,000+ votes the 3 times I ran, I still felt that those citizens supporting my platform deserved to have a fair airing of their issues and a call for those issues to be addressed by whomever the Council decides to seat.

This election year was marked by polarization of candidates into two clear aggregates (as it appears from Xan Gregg’s excellent analysis), neither of which I was a member.

I was a truly independent candidate raising a different set of issues, addressing a broader range of concerns and bringing a long history of taking on some of the least popular and toughest problems our community faced.

Even though I lost, I do believe I ran the best campaign to-date. I gave my honest appraisal of where the Town is, I didn’t dodge any questions and I always answered as fully and thoughtfully as practical.

The following is a youTube playlist of the presentations made by: Will Raymond, Donna Bell, Aaron Shah, Matt Pohlman, H. Brock Page, Joe Capowski and Jason Baker.

The Town’s video is posted here but is restricted to those platforms supporting Microsoft’s proprietary Silverlight spyware-laden technology.

Just back from this evening’s Orange County Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

Tonight’s big agenda item, “What to do about the waste transfer station?”

New County Manager Frank Clifton’s extensively reviewed the three proposed options: use the County’s Payfadar property (originally slated for a park) on Millhouse Road, pursue the ill-suited (and ever more expensive) Howell property on Hwy. 54 or “punt” (as Barry Jacobs put it) and temporarily ship our County’s waste to the existing Durham County facility (“Plan B”).

After an excellent set of balanced community presentations from Preserve Rural Orange County (PRO), Orange County Voice and the Rogers Road Coalition (CEER) – many of which covered not just the problems with the proposed sites but posited responsible alternatives – the Board voted 6-1 to not only use “Plan B” but to permanently take the Millhouse-Eubanks-Rogers Road community off the table.

Mal de M.E.R. no more.

I’ve been involved in one way or another on this issue for 5 years. Really pushed to get, and had some success, in creating a transparent community-based process for siting the transfer facility. Proposed using “Plan B” a couple years ago (here and here) to give the Board and community sufficient time to explore a wide range of alternatives.

And, as of this evening, seen the great work from a wide spectrum of County citizens, the thoughtful consideration of our Commissioners finally come to fruition in this decision.

Of course, the work is far from over. I believe that we must eventually managed our waste locally (for instance, like my 2006 suggestion to create an eco-industrial center on the Eno River Economic Development zone to sort, reuse and minimize the waste stream). I also believe that Chapel Hill must step up and bear a greater responsibility in dealing with our contribution to that waste stream. I also believe we must coordinate with our neighboring communities to create an environmentally responsible end-point for our waste.

That work has yet to begin.