Campaign


I did a recent WCHL 1360 commentary reiterating my reasons for voting NO this year for Orange County’s .25% sales tax bump.

Basically, it comes down to a lack of fairness and skewed spending priorities.

For some odd technical reason, my commentary isn’t posted on WCHL’s website. I have a copy here (MP3) for readers who have requested one.

This Nov. 8th, I will be voting NO on Orange County’s ¼ cent sales tax.

Promoters promise us increased jobs, better schools and possibly even a deferred property tax increase.

But we know that any positive impact on jobs or revenues from improved County economic zones will take time – it is a real stretch to claim near term benefits in this down economy.

Suggesting the quality of local education is at risk and linking the tax benefits to our popular schools is certainly a clever sales tactic. But lets be honest, the $600,000 going to the schools is a raindrop in a sea of spending.

On the other hand, if 2/3rds had been dedicated to restoring prenatal and dental care services – to back-filling State cuts in mental health, housing and hospice care – the impact of that $1.6M would have been tremendous. Not a drop but a bucket of help.

As a parent, I understand that the example you set is more important than the words you use – that do as I say and not as I do – is a sure path to undercutting trust.

It’s a lesson so many candidates and local officials seem to have forgotten.

Holding this costly single issue vote during an off-year election was a calculated divisive tactic to minimize the impact of our rural neighbors who have already demonstrated a distaste for further taxes.

As the Chapel Hill News noted, the County’s effort to get the message out appears to have gone over the line from legally allowed education into outright advocacy.

Both undercut our democratic principles.

This is why even if all the revenue raised from this sales tax went to human services, I would still vote NO this year.

Because, as we teach our kids, the ends do not justify the means.

To summarize:

Targeting revenues to human services should have been priority. If defeated, I will ask the Board of Commissioners to consider changing the mix of funds to 1/3 economic development and 2/3 critical human services.

The campaign to “sell” increase wasn’t conducted properly.

Scheduling referendum vote in off-year election instead of county-wide election amounts to “gaming” the democratic system. The County Commissioners were clearly “vote shopping”, recognizing that if they got the same level of support in the municipalities as 2010 and if rural voter turnout was 25% less than May’s primary – which is what the local Board of Elections predicted – they would get their way.

I’ve consistently supported access to the vote – super-precincts, same-day registration, early voting – and defended voter rights – fighting Voter ID Act, etc.

I’m not going tacitly support an attempt to disenfranchise our rural voters this year.

The “education” campaign has clearly over-stepped legal bounds and strayed into clear advocacy.

  • Improper school district endorsements: fliers sent home with students essentially endorsing referendum, website promotion.
  • Video ad which over-emphasized benefits of tax and downplayed negative impact of tax was certainly not even-handed.
  • Assistant County Manager suggesting only choice was either pass sales tax or suffer a $.02 bump in the property tax rate to fund plans (there are other options to finding funds).
  • BOCC members, who have every right to support the referendum personally, not distinguishing “official” from “personal” support – including comments during public meetings.

I spoke before the Commissioners this year about the advocacy vs. education issue when they were discussing a plan to try the referendum once again. They acknowledged the problems with last year’s “education” campaign – stumbling into advocacy (which is not allowed under NC law) and said they would do better this round. I suggested they invite a wide spectrum of folks who had both promoted and opposed the previous referendum to review County “education” materials and evaluate their balance. Unfortunately, the County not only didn’t try to do an initial “sniff” test of those materials but went way beyond the trespasses of last cycle.

In the end, each voter will have to decide if they are willing to support the “ends” despite the clearly inappropriate “means” to get there.

I’m not, which is why I will vote NO this year for the referendum.

As of 6pm Lincoln Center was at 241 voters, a better than expected turnout for this year’s mid-term.

As of 6:35pm the Library weighed in at 647 voters, lagging Caldwell. Considering that Estes Hills precinct had a large early voting contingent, the numbers on the ground there are not necessarily indicative of voter disinterest. I expect a very robust final number.

Quick update on Caldwell precinct located in north Orange County near Rougemont.

I handed out Democratic party voter guides from 9:30am until 4:00pm to a steady and heavy stream of voters. With over 680 voters clocking in by 4pm, the precinct was trending towards a very healthy showing – a possible total for today of over 900+ folks. Add in the nearly 30% of early voters and the totals will be approaching 2008′s general election.

Well done Caldwell!

I’m headed to Lincoln Center in Chapel Hill for the 5-6pm shift After that it is a quick stop at the Library to vote.

If you haven’t voted yet there is still plenty of time Get out and make a difference.

In case there’s any confusion, Morgan Freeman had nothing to do with this post!

I’ll be helping the Orange County Democratic Party over at the Caldwell precinct in northern Orange County from 9:30am to 4:00pm. Drop by if you’re in the area.

Over the last week I’ve received emails asking my recommendations for the judicial races. Here’s who I’m voting for:

US SenateElaine Marshall

I know, Elaine isn’t running for the bench but since I have your attention….

A lot has been made of the apparent Democratic electorate malaise this year. We are still involved in the longest war of our country’s history. We still haven’t punished the use of torture or kidnapping as tools of war. Affronts to our Constitution, to basic human rights continue to be promulgated. Backroom deals derail chances of improving our populaces health and welfare. Billions are bilked and the public coffers milked. Spying and lying are now commonplace insults to our country’s democratic well-being. So much of the same old, same old with nary a peep from so many Democratic “yes we can change” Congress folks.

I understand that immense lethargic unease the folks that turned out in 2008 must feel. Does that mean we need to suffer with a Burr under our saddles another 4 years? Hell no.

Elaine is more than the anti-Burr choice. She wasn’t supported by the torpor inducing national Democratic apparatchik, a real win in my book. She will work to bring real change on behalf of all North Carolinians if elected. Do your part today to make that happen.

Supreme Court – Bob Hunter

Both candidates have a strong record on governmental transparency, solid experience and track records of reasonable judicial advocacy. While Jackson served as counsel under Labor Secretary Cherrie Berry during a period of time when that office was less than proactive on a slate of labor related issues, it’s not clear to me if her role allowed her to advocate for better outcomes. Hunter has the edge in experience, great endorsements and, as a Democrat, the background to work towards an equitable decision on Congressional redistricting should it land in the Court’s hands.

Court of Appeals – Gray,Elmore,Geer.

Gray and Geer, Democrats, have solid reputations, been unequivocal that politics will play no role in their courts. Elmore is a solid choice.

Court of Appeals – Instant Runoff version: Thigpen – 1st. Hammer – 2nd. Payne or Middleton or Vesper -3rd.

In other races:

Board of Commissioners – Earl McKee.

I’ve been watching Earl as he has taken on a few County issues these last 18 months. He spent 6 months attending BOCC meetings to get a feel of the office before ever standing up and speaking his piece. His first issue, challenging the expensive remodeling of an office space to serve as a Commissioners chamber, demonstrated the type of leadership he plans to bring to the Commission: he did his research, spoke sincerely and directly to the issue, stood firm on his principles while pursuing the best policy for both his rural district (District 2) and the County as a whole.

Sales Tax Referendum – AGAINST

This is a lousy year to raise any taxes – no matter how small the bite – but that is not the main reason I stand so firmly opposed to this referendum.

Poverty is on a steep uptick in Orange County. Demand for health and welfare services is at an all time high. Long needed structural shifts – from fully staffing our community health system to shifting the emergency homeless shelter burden off the IFC – are not occurring supposedly due to fiscal difficulties at the County level. Yet, when presented with $2.3M from a sales tax or $4.6M windfall from refinancing the County’s debt, the BOCC chose areas outside those vital needs.

I lobbied them to put the lions share towards addressing the needs of those struggling the most – for the 1 in 5 Orange County residents in poverty and other residents who are just treading water. $2+ M new revenue targeted effectively represents more than a life jacket – it would lift folks out of the deep end of the pool and move them on to firm ground.

Again, I appreciate the BOCC making a somewhat firm commitment to spending priorities – I just don’t support the same set of priorities.

The BOCC has been clear, as they should be, that this revenue sharing plan is a firm commitment over the next 5 years and will not change – period. The BOCC has also reaffirmed their stance that this new revenue will not replace existing revenue or cover existing expenses – it is new money for a new purpose )funds will not be freed up elsewhere that could be redirected to human services).

Given that, tomorrow, I’m voting NO for the sales tax in hopes that we will get another chance to set the priorities for that spending, that the new priority will be waited heavily towards addressing human service needs and that core needs – like improved emergency medical services(EMS) and required school facility repairs – be paid out of core budget.

More of my reasoning on voting against the sales tax below:
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I generally don’t say much on CitizenWill about Federal officeholders but since there’s been a lot of blather about Elaine Marshall’s chances of overcoming Richard Burr I thought I would submit one way she can challenge Burr’s reputation of supporting our troops.

Elaine, as part of her Senate campaign, started a petition calling on Burr to support a Consumer Finance Protection Agency.

Burr, so far, and his Republican colleagues have been less than supportive (to put it mildly) of the initiative.

In fact, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.),

ranking Republican on the Senate banking committee on Monday [June 21st, 2010] told a group of N.C. bankers that a proposed consumer financial protection agency is the “worst” part of an industry overhaul making its way through Congress.

“They will decide what products you can put out, to whom and probably at what price,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said in remarks at the N.C. Bankers Association’s annual meeting, held at a University-area hotel. “Can you imagine all this?”

Charlotte Observer, June 22nd, 2010

Senator Shelby, after Wall St. gamblers pissed billions of investor dollars down the drain, threw the economy into a historic tailspin and bamboozled American citizens into picking up the tab, I can well imagine having more oversight. For instance, “visualizing” restoration of the kind of protections we once enjoyed under the Glass-Steagall Act.

Shelby was visiting the Old North State “at a breakfast fundraiser for Burr attended by about 70 bankers”.

What does the Consumer Finance Protection Agency have to do with our military families?

The Department of Defense’s Office of Personal Finance specifically endorsed the creation of the CFPA [PDF] because, as Director Julian said, “DOD firmly believes that the financial readiness of their troops and families equates to mission readiness and anything that we can do to help our families be financially ready, we will support the family and the mission.”

That letter of endorsement starts by highlighting the effects predatory and unscrupulous lending practices by some automobile dealers have on our military families.

The excellent academic consumer credit ‘blog Credit Slips has posted a good overview of those reprehensible tactics:

So what are the problems in the auto lending world?  Here are some.  I’m guessing I’ll learn of some new ones in the comments.  I’m also guessing that auto leasing has its own bag of tricks.  

Bait and Switch.   There are lots of variations on bait-and-switch with auto dealers.  Here’s one: the dealer gives the consumer a quote on a particular model and says that it is in stock.  The consumer comes in and guess what–that model is still in stock, but only with a bunch of dealer-added features (hubcap locks, pinstripe, fog lights, etc.) that raise the cost of the car by more than the value given.  Want to guess why I’m driving a Honda Odyssey with a “racing pinstripe” on it?   

Hidden Fees.  This is sort of self-explanatory, and is another bait-and-switch variation.  The consumer bargains with the dealer over the price of the car and the financing and thinks that a deal has been reached.  Then the consumer gets the final bill for the car and it has a bunch of previously unmentioned fees.  The dealer says don’t worry, we’ll just increase the amount financed.  

Dealer reserve kickbacks.  These are the yield spread premiums of the auto world. The dealer often acts as a broker for a financing company that will finance the car purchase.  The dealer is compensated for this service by getting a slice of the interest on the loan.  The higher the loan rate, the larger the kickback.  So the consumer qualifies for a loan at 10%, but the dealer steers the consumer into a 14% loan in order to get a larger dealer reserve payment.  (One way to avoid being steered due to dealer reserve is to go in with a direct financing offer lined-up from an independent finance company; I wonder how many consumers do this, though.)  

Loan packing.  Overpriced and underused or frankly unnecessary products like credit life insurance and GAP insurance and rust-proofing get bundled in to the deal.  

Overselling.  Dealer’s cuts on loans can give them an incentive to steer consumers into larger loans.  One way to do that is to sell the consumer a more expensive car, which requires more financing.  Of course the consumer still has to be qualified for the loan, and there have been problems in auto lending, just as with mortgages, of dealers (and borrowers) fudging the numbers on the paperwork to make borrowers look more creditworthy.  

Spot delivery yo-yos.  This is one of the sleaziest moves.  The consumer buys a car with financing arranged through the dealer.  The financing includes a nonrefundable deposit.  The consumer takes the car home thinking that everything is in order.  The dealer then calls the consumer the next day to say that the financing was denied in the end and the consumer has to return the car.  And the dealer keeps the deposit. 

Binding mandatory arbitration.  This is a generic consumer finance problem.  

Such practices are familiar to folks who live in North Carolina’s host communities.

Unfortunately, the protections DoD asked for have been gutted by both Republican and Democratic (BOO!) House members.

Elaine can differentiate her candidacy not only from Burr’s but of her own Party by coming out strongly for specific remedies to this loophole.

Thanks to Loren Hintz. Matt Scheer, Jason Baker (2005 candidate for Town Council), May Becker, Judith Ferster and the rest of the membership of the Orange-Chatham Sierra Club for both sponsoring the recent candidate forum and making the following video available to the wider community.

Also thanks to my fellow colleague on the Sustainability Task Force Matthew Scheer for moderating the event and James Carnahan for keeping time.


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Thanks to Madeline Jefferson, Bob Henshaw, Julie McClintock, Janet Smith, Alan Snavely, Mickey Jo Sorrel and the rest of the membership of Neighborhoods For Responsible Growth (NRG) for both sponsoring the recent candidate forum and making the following video available to the wider community.

Also thanks to my neighbor (and former Chapel Hill Mayor) Jonathon Howes for moderating the event.


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Quick technical note: the current video doesn’t support “quick search” but will start streaming right away.

Last night I got an invite from Ruby Sinreich to engage other candidates on her local ‘blog OrangePolitics. Though I was an avid contributor to her ‘blog for several years, contributing a significant portion of the content, I have declined to participate in building her readership or commercial “brand” during this year’s election cycle.

My reasons for not participating are varied, many of which persist as covered in this “swan song” post from December, 2007.

  • an escalating and stifling intolerance of valid though different viewpoints,
  • the site’s authors acting as surrogates for political allies who didn’t have the courage to engage the community directly in an honest, fact-based and open manner
  • and an unwillingness on my part to work hard in “building the brand” of a site that advertised one thing – engaging the wider community in an informative discussion of local “progressive” issues – and delivering another.

I haven’t read much of OP since then, mainly looking in when someone sends me a link of interest (like my “winning” a very unscientific straw poll for whom should be appointed to Bill Thorpe’s vacant seat). From what I’ve seen, Ruby has taken to heart some of my critique, including opening up authorship to folks she used to vehemently chastise. Good for her.

It is clear, though, that Ruby regularly continues breaking her own editorial rules when my name arises. I prefer to engage directly with other candidates rather than their surrogates. It is a more honest, open and transparent process – a process I cherish and that Chapel Hill voters deserve.

I wish that there was another local alternative to OP for political wonks, like myself, to engage in broad, open, inclusive discussion of the many serious issues facing our community. Unfortunately, the closest we have come is the Chapel Hill News’ OrangeChat, a ‘blog whose posts sometimes spur a genuine discussion of issues.

As a candidate who has engaged a broad spectrum of constituencies, has never turned down an opportunity to solicit our community for their ideas or discuss the realities of living in Chapel Hill, I regret that I might miss out on a great conversation.

That said, I will continue to maintain my “web presence” here on CitizenWill, post all my responses to the varied community election questionnaires, feature (hopefully) video of election forums, etc. I will seek out every opportunity to meet our citizens (send invites to campaign@willraymond.org)to listen and respond to their concerns.

And, if there’s a ‘blog you think I should be posting on, please post the link in the comments section.

See you on the campaign trail!

A big thank you to all the folks who contacted and encouraged me to run.

Below is my formal announcement, more posts to follow:

Will Raymond Announces Run for Chapel Hill Town Council 2009

Chapel Hill, NC – July 17th, 2009

I am taking the next step in my eight year continuum of public service to Chapel Hill by announcing my candidacy for Town Council.

After listening to hundreds of my fellow citizens during the Sustainability Task Force’s nine recent public forums, it is clear that Chapel Hill’s residents want to move forward on a different path for the next decade.

Moving Chapel Hill forward will require common sense leadership that is innovative, experienced, tested and prepared to follow our citizens’ mandate to change course.

Successfully working with a variety of community organizations, advisory boards, the Town Council and Orange County Board of Commissioners in the past, I have taken on some of the thorniest, toughest and, occasionally, most controversial issues facing our community.

Listening to the community, gathering the best advice, with conviction and thoughtful fortitude, I have been unwavering in my support of reasonable growth policies, fiscal prudence, environmental protection and transparent government operations.

As my understanding of these challenges deepened, so has my sense of responsibility for making sure our community thrives when meeting them.
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Seems like the municipal elections are officially on. Kevin bowed out as mayor. Mark bowed in. Laurin, not surprisingly, ready to go again. And now Penny.

I ran with Penny in 2007 and welcome her 2009 run.

She did her homework, was firm in her convictions, eloquent and handled some rather nasty rebukes by two of the incumbents with grace and good cheer.

I’m hoping that this year, unlike the 2007 campaign where the incumbents orchestrated an issues shut out, will be a year in which the rather substantial problems before our community get not only a fair hearing but elicit specific proposed remedies by the candidates.

Here’s Penny’s announcement:

I am proud to announce my candidacy for Chapel Hill Town Council. While running in the 2007 council race I was honored to meet many folks that live and work in Chapel Hill who share my love for this beautiful town. Chapel Hill has a bright future, and I believe I would be a positive addition to the Town Council as they guide us through the next phase of growth. As a small business owner raising a family in Chapel Hill, I represent the unique perspective of the average everyday citizen. In the coming months I look forward to talking to the people of Chapel Hill to gain an understanding of their priorities, needs, and concerns. I can best represent Chapel Hill by ensuring that everyone has the chance for their voice to be heard as we shape the future of our town.

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.

Barack Obama swung by Chapel Hill tonight in his on-going attempt to clinch his party’s nomination. As David Price noted, for the first time in decades North Carolina is relevant – and we have an opportunity to push Obama over the top.

As with many political events, the rally, scheduled for 9:30pm kicked off promptly at 10:19pm. The Dean Dome was 3/4′s full – the crowd a mix of college students and locals (with a smattering of notable politicos – Mel Watt, David Price, Hampton Dellinger, Alice Gordon).

If you’ve seen Obama speak before, the stump he gave was fairly familiar – tweaked a bit for both the Tar Heel college and North Carolina “blue” crowd. He butchered Chancellor Moeser’s name (quickly corrected with some input from the crowd). He made a small reference to RTP – proposed cloning its success (I suggest better research by his crew). Spoke of mitigating college tuitions using a Americorp type program ($12K per annum -whew!). Talked about off-shoring of jobs and closing of mills. But mostly it was a speech targeted towards a national audience.

He riffed on McCain – “25 years in Congress” and a $25 gas tax refund “is the best he can do”.

After pummeling McCain a bit, he carefully highlighted the differences between him and Hillary.

Obama painted Hillary as the candidate of lobbyists, special interests and the back room party apparatchik. Contrasting his trip to Wall Street to inform CEOs that their personal tax bills were headed up, that under his administration Federal subsidies for their cash cows would dry up and windfall profits (literally highway robbery) were going to be taxed with Hillary’s Union hall pandering, he made the case for his political courage. And, he noted subtlety, she hasn’t been quite honest.

Which brings me back to our local Board of Commissioners race.

Between the two at-large candidates that I know and have seen in action at close range, Neloa Jones is the hands down best candidate.

She’s united her community, built coalitions and been honest and up-front with her concerns. She’s demonstrated her political courage.

She is no creature of the local “rah rah growth at any cost” political clique.

Neloa has not been missing in action and she hasn’t, like her opponent laid claim to positions she hasn’t fought for – kind of our own homegrown Obama. Sharp, with a real sense of purpose, Neloa is the kind of leader we need for Orange County.

Please, when you go to vote for Obama (or Hillary) cast a vote for Neloa.

Here’s some action from tonight’s rally. All photos compliments of my son Elijah.

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As I wrote recently, it’s been quite interesting to see how folks respond to the challenge of campaigning.

I know it’s not conventional to salute your campaign opponents – which explains why the incumbents don’t mention my role in hiring an economic development officer, green fleets, re-balancing the size of affordable housing on Lot #5, etc. – but, as I imagine most folks have figured out, I’m not big on following the status quo, especially when it means passing up an opportunity to improve our community.

Which brings me back to Penny’s and Matt’s well-deserved recognition and endorsement by the Daily Tar Heel.

I’ve gotten to know these folks and they’re both the real deal. They’re not running to be the next Mayor or position themselves to run for State office – ego building is just not part of their portfolio.

Instead, Penny and Matt are quite concerned about our community and have presented solid, pragmatic proposals for addressing some of the tasks left undone these many years.

This year, they also were the only two folks, other than myself, willing to engage in a real debate – an exploration if you will – of the ways we could realistically address many of the challenges still before us. As Matt notes, the incumbent monologue might have been an effective campaign tool but it was a miserable strategy for educating and engaging the wider community.

Here’s what the DTH had to say about Penny:
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I called Jennifer Strom last week to see if the Indy would provide me the courtesy of a response to their endorsement comments. She said they would. Here’s my response:

I’m baffled by the Indy’s comments on my and Mike Kelley’s candidacies.

I’m mystified by your endorsement of Indy editor Jennifer Strom’s husband Bill Strom, incumbents Sally Greene and Cam Hill, all who voted to build extensively into the Booker Creek resource conservation district.

I’m perplexed. I haven’t called for environmentally insensitive development on Booker Creek let alone authorized it.

And I’m disappointed. How do you chastise Chapel Hill School Board candidate Mike Kelley’s attendance record given his personal circumstances? Beyond insensitive, it was ill-informed.

Where was the balanced investigative journalism we have come to expect from the Indy?

I used to give the Indy’s endorsements automatic credence. Any readers who do so this year will be misled.

I’ve written here and here why I think the Indy missed the boat on my candidacy.

As far as Mike, here’s what happened February, 2006 (N&O)

Police charged an elderly driver they say injured a mother and daughter selling Girl Scout cookies when she backed into a troop’s cookie booth outside a grocery store over the weekend.

Chapel Hill police charged Thelma McBride Holloway, 77, of 105 Elizabeth St., Chapel Hill, with failure to reduce speed to avoid collision.

Holloway was backing her 1991 Lincoln out of a parking spot Saturday afternoon in front of the Harris Teeter at University Mall when her foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator, according to a police report.

The car ran up the sidewalk and hit Elise Michelle Hoffman, 44, and her daughter Anne Katherine Kelley, 11. Both were taken to UNC Hospitals. The hospital would not release their conditions Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, Lt. Leo Vereen said the accident broke both of Hoffman’s legs, and Anne’s collar bone and one of her legs.

Hoffman and Anne are the wife and daughter of Mike Kelley, a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education.

Since reading the Indy’s strange comments on Mike I’ve had some time to talk to folks I know and trust about his candidacy. Overwhelmingly they say he’s meticulous, has responded to folks concerns and, even with a family tragedy, discharged his responsibilities in full.

Here’s what one of his opponents, and Indy endorsee, Jamezetta Bedford, said on the Indy’s website:

…I feel compelled to disagree with the statement that Mike Kelley’s job “has prevented him from attending many forums and activities beyond his basic duties.” Each board member volunteers to serve as liaison to two or three school improvement teams (SITs) and various district committees. Some are scheduled during the work day, some in the early morning and some in the evening. We divide them up at our first December meeting each year based upon the interests and schedules of our board members.

Mike has faithfully attended the SIT meetings most months (board members are only expected to attend once a semester) and has served on our technology advisory group, one of the health advisory committees, as well as liaison to the Special Needs Advisory Council this past year. I would not want a board composed of only retired or unemployed members. By the way, our board will receive an award next week from the NC School Boards Association to recognize that all of our members completed at least 12 hours of board development training this past year, again showing the investment of time each makes to this service.

I like her point about a balance board with more than “retired or unemployed members”.

There are many more statements of support here.

Here’s what UNC Law professor Eric Muller said Are the Indy’s Endorsements Heartless or Worthless? It’s One or the Other over on his ‘blog Is That Legal?.

Bill Strom, at the recent Democrat Candidate Forum, used a quote attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan to try to make some point “…you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Maybe he could share that quote with the Indy’s editor (and his wife) Jennifer Strom.

The Indy is free to express an opinion but it shouldn’t ignore the facts – which, in my case, I did the opposite of what their endorsed candidates did and in Mike’s, that he had an obvious and completely understandable reason for his actions.

X-posted from my campaign website.

The Indy found fault with my style of dissent. I’m a big guy, have a deep voice and am passionate about my well-researched issues. I believe I’m respectful in my appearances before Council (example). Folks have told me that I’m tough but fair. The Indy’s criticism, no matter how emotionally worded, is, in the end, subjective – their job, to shape opinion.

The Indy’s suggestion that I wanted to despoil Booker Creek further is not supported by either the facts or any reasonable inference (as I discuss here).

What inference could the Indy draw about the incumbents – Sally Greene’s, Cam Hill’s, Bill Strom’s – willingness to put development above the health of Booker Creek?

Well, no inference is required as the record clearly shows that all three were willing to contribute to Booker Creek’s ills for the sake of economic development.

I’ve attended many Council meetings over the last 6 1/2 years. Once there, I usually stay to learn about the issues before our Town. That’s why I know that Bill, Cam and Sally voted June 30th, 2004 to approve Eastern Federal’s 10 screen, 38,000 square foot, nearly 200 parking space theater directly adjacent to Booker Creek.

As noted in these minutes from Jan. 27th, 2003′s SUP (special use permit) approval that details this project’s variances:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Council finds, in this particular case, that the following modifications satisfy public purposes to an equivalent or greater degree:

1. Modification of Subsection 13.11.1 and 5.5.2.1 to allow a minimum of 154,242 square feet of livability space.

2. Modification of Subsection 14.6.6 (a) to allow less than a five-foot landscaped strip between portions of the buildings and adjacent parking areas.

3. Modification of Subsection 14.6.7 to allow a minimum of 490 parking spaces.

4. Modification of Subsection 5.5.2.2 to allow impervious surface areas associated with this development to encumber 24% of the Resource Conservation District.

Said public purposes being (1) the provision of higher intensity infill development, (2) the promotion of greater pedestrian mobility, (3) the provision of increased landscaping in the parking lot, (4) the provision of less impervious surface area, and (5) the provision of improved quality with Best Management Practices.

The resource conservation district was established by Chapel Hill

To protect streams and to reduce the frequency and amount of flood damage to property, the Town enacted the Resource Conservation District (RCD) ordinance in 1984, with revisions in 2003. This ordinance and other measures taken to reduce flooding and flood damage, are necessary for the Town to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

RCD provisions severely limit or eliminate structures and development in areas likely to flood. These measures pertain in areas including FEMA’s 100-year Floodzones, (areas that have a 1% chance of flooding every year, or in other terms, properties that have a 26% chance of flooding within a 30-year period), as well as smaller streams which have not been rated by FEMA. RCDs also protect or improve the water quality of streams by reserving vegetated areas to slow and infiltrate stormwater runoff and to remove pollutants from runoff.

Yet, in this case, the incumbents Greene, Hill and Strom voted a rather large exception for a movie theater.

Now, you didn’t have to be at these meetings, as I was, to know about the series of votes these three made to build on Booker Creek. A simple Google will quickly turn up that fact.

Speaking of facts, why would the Indy try to extrapolate, without evidence, that I wanted to despoil Booker Creek further when three of the incumbents the Indy endorsed – Greene, Hill and Strom – actually voted several times to reduce critical RCD protections to build a 10 screen theater?

Maybe because the facts shouldn’t get in the way of a good story – and the story the Indy is selling is “don’t vote for Raymond in 2007″. The reasons were superfluous to the ends.

What about Jim Ward, who consistently voted against the proposal, as I recall, based on environmental concerns? The Indy thought he was too soft on the environment in 2003, but now he has “proven his meddle”.

Wonder if they considered Jim’s concern for Booker Creek as part of that proof?

More on the history of Eastern Federal’s development woes.

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