CitizenWill


“…lift up your hearts, all will come right. Out of depths of sorrow and sacrifice will be born again the glory of mankind…”

PRIME MINISTER WINSTON CHURCHILL’S SPEECH TO THE ALLIED DELEGATES
St. James’s Place, London, June 12, 1941

I’ve been thinking about my Libyan friend Ish’s family the last couple weeks. Finally, a promise of freedom from oppression but at a steep price. As the daily death toll mounts in the Libyan countryside I can only hope that they come through unscathed.
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I admire Senator Russ Feingold’s tenacious defense of our basic civil liberties and Rights.

This evening Russ, a progressive visionary with backbone and real moxy, lost his seat as the flood gates he help build to control the untraceable torrent of money into our election process fell before the onslaught unleashed by the Supreme Courts ruling in “Citizens United”.

The lesson this year is “cash is king”, the easiest way to undermine progressive policy is to whip out the corporate Visa and run a tab.

Courtesy of the US Chamber of Commerce and corporate cut-outs like the American Action Network, not only has Wisconsin lost a champion of the working man but we all have lost a vigilant defender of our Constitutional freedoms.

I ended up talking about the troubling aspects of both East54 and the Lot $5 with a native Chapel Hillian after a recent community meeting. While introducing myself they exclaimed “you’re Will Raymond? I saw you speak several years ago about the Town’s Downtown project” but, they went on, I “looked different”, even younger than they recalled.

During the recent WCHL1360 “Who’s Talking” interview (140West: RAM Development’s Money Tree, Chapel Hill Taxpayers Moneypit), I had commented to Fred Black that I was a bit older and a bit grayer but still flogging the same old issues of sustainability, diversity, fiscal responsibility, community input, etc. I started with nearly a decade ago.

Turns out, though, while I might be a bit older (and heavier), I don’t look as gray without the huge beard.

Here’s a sample from Feb. 12th, 2007, the night that version of our Town Council decided to plunge ahead with the broken Lot $5 deal.



[UPDATE:] Ellie, at 3:00pm, was #143. Analysis of turnout is coming in but it’s clear Elaine has won with apparently 2/3rds of the vote.

Just back from the Library. I was #112 in one of the voting-est precincts in Town. Given the early voting trend this year, that doesn’t bode well for overall turnout.

In a funny coincidence, I was talking with one of the long term poll workers about how crazy mad my Mount Bolus neighbors are to vote when Judy B., who lives down the lane, dropped by to be #113. I’m proud to live in a neighborhood that so consistently turns out to vote.

I’ve voted, with the exception of one 2nd primary, every election from 1980 on. I heard it suggested by some folks that those who wanted to keep their voting streak alive but didn’t like Cal or Elaine drop a blank ballot in the box (I’m talking about you G-man!).

I believe that you can always make an affirmative choice, that not to do so doesn’t help move our democracy forward, and so I cast my vote today.

Search engine providers like Google are making cash by building detailed profiles of your web surfing habits.

There is a slew of technologies they use to track usage, following folks as the hop-skip-and-jump across the world wide web. In this “social networking” world it seems like many people wait until an inevitable crisis before taking even the most rudimentary precautions.

Even then it isn’t always obvious who is prying or how much snooping is going on.

I am not a member (and never plan to be) of many social networking sites, like FaceBook, because of the aggressively antagonistic approach they’ve taken towards maintaining a balance between exposing folks personal data and commercial gain. I vehemently disagree with FaceBook’s Zuckerberg that “the age of privacy is over” and that users should just suck it up and let him and his ilk commoditize our private lives for his personal gain (FaceBook certainly doesn’t offer a compelling enough value proposition for me to willingly trade away more of my privacy).

Even the simplest of activities, asking “questions” of the ‘net, can be used as fodder for the anti-privacy grist mill. For every move to secure folks basic right to that privacy, the industry counters – sometimes with the full complicity of the companies that develop surfing technology (think Micro$loth).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to maintaining individual rights online, has teamed with the Tor project (software to “defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security”), to roll out a new Mozilla Firefox browser extension that encrypts your communication to a variety of services.

click here to encrypt the web

Encrypting communication with Google isn’t the same as eliminating their ability to build a profile of you based on your questions. Instead, encryption will make sure that your ISP (in my case ATT) and any other internet service provider between you and the end-service provider can’t snoop on your traffic and build their own profile of your activities.

Other than Tor, which anonymizes interactions with web-based services, there are a wide variety of additional extensions to Firefox available to combat Google and other service providers snooping.

  • BetterPrivacy – removes “super-cookies” which allow sites to track your wandering across the ‘net
  • Redirect Cleaner – new websites can’t discover what site you linked in from
  • AdBlock Plus – the king of ad blocking extensions
  • NoScript – limits sites use of JavaScript and other technologies to work-around privacy protections.
  • Ghostery – actively blocks tracking by a wide range of advertising tracking companies
  • Tor Button – manages use of TOR network which confounds network-based tracking of ‘net usage

While I expect CitizenWill readers are the kind of folks who wouldn’t casually give away financial or personal information to a complete stranger on the street, it isn’t always obvious how what we do online leaves tracks in the wider world – technology can help protect your privacy, the best protection remains a healthy dose of common sense and “eternal vigilance”.

There are no consistent set of laws that dictate basic privacy protections online, especially when it comes to commercial harvesting of what many of us consider personal information. The minimal expectation is that the “contract” between you and the service provider is clearly posted, easily understood and has provisions for terminating access gracefully.

Read sites TOS (terms of service) and privacy policies – including how they manage and protect your personal information – before entering into that “contract”. Understand what 3rd parties have access to your details, how you can opt out or eliminate what you share online. Determine if the benefits of the service are commensurate with the value you receive (you best know the value of your life’s details).

Finally, even though the rules that govern commercial entities are far from complete and our ability to demand fair treatment quite limited, we can demand basic protections on websites our own government provides.

For instance, Chapel Hill’s (now defunct) Technology Advisory Board, strongly recommended 5 years ago that the Town’s own website had a clear and easily accessible terms of service/privacy policy. As of 2010, that more than reasonable request is not part of the Town’s commitment to serve the public’s interest.

Of the few ways one can “exercise” citizenship directly, being chosen as a sitting juror seems most capricious.

Ever since I turned 18 I’ve waited for the call.

Master jury lists in North Carolina are randomly drawn from voter rolls and driver license records. Having been a licensed driver and voting maniac (all elections except one 2nd primary) for over 30 years, I expected to have been selected at least once before now, yet it was only last month I was notified of my first opportunity to serve.

Given my activist background, I imagined that being selected to serve in court was a long shot. Still, getting my chance to discharge this citizen obligation was rewarding enough. Yes, I know it might sound a bit crazy to many folks, especially those who have tried and possibly succeeded in ducking the call, but I was excited my turn finally arrived.

Orange County has a fairly efficient system. You get a letter a month beforehand. You’re instructed to call a particular phone number (919-644-4516 in Orange County should you happen to Google this post) the night before to check your status.

After returning from this evening’s Board of Commissioner’s meeting I made that call.

The disappointing recorded message was short, to the point – “All jurors are excused. This concludes your jury service.”

Excused, yes. Concluded? Just doesn’t feel that way.

Education and our own private “rabbit-proof” fencing seems to be the extent of Chapel Hill’s plan to deal with its exploding dear population.

The Town is responding to my Mount Bolus neighbor’s Oct. 12th petition this evening with a proposal [PDF] to educate folks on how to deter expansion of the deer population.

Unfortunately, rather than expanding on the petition’s intent – to manage deer population in a safe and humane fashion – some on Council immediately responded negatively to the suggestion of urban archery and acted as if it was the sole proposed solution. Though I know urban archery has been safely and successfully used elsewhere I also can understand how it might not fit here. Surely, though, there are more possibilities than outlined in tonight’s staff memo (I wonder why the Town didn’t reach out to UNC and Duke – who is managing deer populations in Duke Forest – for relevant expertise).

I’m also troubled by some of the assertions made in the report, including the implication that populations are increasing due to increased food supplies made available by urban landscaping.

I’ve lived on Mt. Bolus for over a decade and have seen the steps my neighbors have taken to limit access to food (we’ve put an 8′ high fence around our garden, for instance).

In my Mt. Bolus neighborhood, I believe the problem owes more to limiting natural corridors than increased food supply. I also know that this year we’ve observed that the number of deer has nearly doubled from just last year – something that can’t be explained by the simple assertion that folks yards are providing a greater buffet than before.

Tonight’s recommendation?

Based on the limited portions of Town on which an urban hunt could be safely conducted, combined with the issues outlined above, we do not believe that an urban hunt is a viable option for the Town. We recommend that the Council adopt the attached Resolution, which authorizes the Manager to develop an information packet for residents interested in protecting their landscaping and gardens from deer.

I’m hoping that this isn’t considered an endpoint in the process and that Council will hold the public forum recommended by the Sustainability Committee. Ideally, the forum should be held by late Spring to give adequate time to developing a realistic deer population management plan for Fall (further recommendations from the committee here [PDF].

It appears, though, that tonight’s recommendation is seen as an end-point by at least one commercial organization. Every mailbox I passed this afternoon on Mt. Bolus had the following brochure attached:

Deerbusters? I know we aren’t going to invest in an 8 foot high eyesore and I hope my neighbors don’t either….

Lot’s of discussion about Chapel Hill’s deer problem including these posts on the Chapel Hill News (Hunters Take 86 Deer in Duke Forest,Chapel Hill Rejects Deer Hunt) , Chapel Hill Watch (Passing the Buck), WRAL (Chapel Hill Council to consider ways to reduce deer population)

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Even after 40 years the Moon landing remains one of the touchstones of my life.

I am fascinated by science. Growing up I, like many other kids of the ’60′s, dreamed of traveling to space. I wanted to join NASA and help make those dreams reality. It seemed a given that rational investigation and thoughtful scientific debate would lead this country forward to greater horizons.

My enthusiasm led me along a course of science fairs, contests, advanced physics/chemistry/biology/math classes and, eventually, degrees in math and computer science. From that a career in engineering and technology.

That “can do” optimism our country showed, even when mired in the midst of the Vietnam war – on the heels of other national tragedies, is something we should recall today as we face numerous adversities.

“Ad astra per aspera — “to the stars through difficulties” – has never been truer.

On the cusp of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11′s Moon landing, I remain optimistic that this country, our citizens, can surmount any challenge – from closest to home to furthest in space – with equal fortitude.

Walter Cronkite, a solid and trusted presence in my youth (for example), was as excited about space as I was – and he wasn’t afraid to show it either (he also wasn’t afraid to put his reputation on the line and call it like it is).



Cronkite, 92, died July 18th. In this day of media dominated by shouting heads, gotcha, personality over perspective, his passing marks more than the end of one admired journalist life.

Neil Armstrong Statement on the Death of Walter Cronkite

The following is a statement issued by Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong on the death of Walter Cronkite.

“For a news analyst and reporter of the happenings of the day to be successful, he or she needs three things: accuracy, timeliness, and the trust of the audience. Many are fortunate to have the first two. The trust of the audience must be earned.

“Walter Cronkite seemed to enjoy the highest of ratings. He had a passion for human space exploration, an enthusiasm that was contagious, and the trust of his audience. He will be missed.”

Hey folks, thank you for reading my ‘blog.

I was getting a ton of comment spam over the last six months,so I had to restrict comments to those folks who registered. The latest WordPress has additional controls that should help throttle that nonsense.

I’m now relaxing CitizenWill’s commenting policy to encourage more reader involvement.

To comment, simply select a name and use a legitimate email address.

If you are new to CitizenWill, your first comment will require approval. After that, your comments will appear directly on the site.

Not a great day for local tech companies in RTP. Nortel (Northern Telecom) is shedding another 1,300 jobs in an effort to stay afloat.

I worked at Northern for nearly seven years (I started at Team10 for any old-timers out there). Back then it was an incredibly vibrant can-do company with a really nice and committed workforce.

In the late ’80′s, early ’90′s Northern had a lock on digital telephone switching equipment. Profits bulged as management got fat and sassy. Profligate spending on some rather ridiculous ego-driven projects became the norm.

Unfortunately, upper management’s vision couldn’t keep up with that of the folks cranking out telco gear. Their top-of-the-heap attitude blinded them to what could and eventually would happen. I remember meeting with the top-dogs in RTP in ’91 trying to convince them that one of Nortel’s bread-n-butter products, the DMS-10, would be replaced within years by cheap, rack-mounted computers using commodity components.

That day eventually came to pass finding Nortel poorly prepared. By that time, I had moved on to help bootstrap a couple startups.

The lessons of Nortel – especially what missteps to avoid – have stayed with me all these years. Those lessons aren’t particularly grounded in Nortel’s culture but are more reflective of common attitudes found in many institutions (“too big to fail” for one).

If the Council does follow up on my call for a Citizen’s Budget Board, I will volunteer and apply the lessons of Nortel, my successful entrepreneurial experience and my diligent efforts to help set the Town’s finances on a firm grounding to bear.

To any remaining Nortel folks that stumble on this entry – good luck and god-speed.

In my application for Bill’s seat on Council, I mentioned my concern (“Walking is not a crime.”) that the recently announced Orange County Community Safety Partnership program, which trains Town staff and the general public to identify and report criminal activity or other public safety related issues, needs to be careful in discriminating what is and what isn’t considered “suspicious”.

When the Police Department announced the Orange County Community Safety Partnership, I was concerned because it sounded like the roundly criticized Homeland Security TIPS program. It wasn’t clear what kind of oversight, training or civil protections were part of the program. Pat Burns, our representative, walked me through the program and provided some insight on its operation. The training presentation has a few items I would like see addressed and I believe the community would be well-served by having Pat run Council through the process to solicit feedback. For me, the part about reporting “persons walking through yards of residential areas or seeming out of place” needs to be clarified. You might recall a recent embarrassing incident when a young man using his cell on his street corner had the police called because he “seemed out of place.”

The incident I’m referring to was reported throughout Town and on BlueNC.

Dear Lake Forest neighbors,

My name is Allen Buansi. I am 21 years old. I’m 5-11, weigh around 190 pounds and I am a black man. More often than not, you may see me in the neighborhood on a bicycle and wearing a backpack. I’ve lived in Chapel Hill for about 10 years and have lived in the Lake Forest neighborhood for much of that time. I attend Dartmouth College, and I head back up to school on September 14. I work at the local YMCA. I am in Chapel Hill for the summer, and I am an assistant football coach for East Chapel Hill High School, the school from which I graduated.

You may see me on the corner of Tadley Drive and Ridgecrest during the day or at night talking on a cell-phone to my girlfriend who lives in Texas. Or you may see me there talking on a cell-phone with my mother who lives in Richmond, Virginia and is a Ph.D student at UNC. You may even see me on a cell-phone talking to one of my best friends, Andres, who also lives in Texas. You may see me there on my bike because I have just ridden back from football practice at the high school. The reason why I am on that corner in the first place? I do not get a good signal back at the house, which is in Avalon Court, a block down from Tadley Drive. And so the only places I get a good signal at are at the corners of Avalon Court and Ridgecrest Drive and of Ridgecrest Drive and Tadley Drive.

…..

A neighbor had called the police department saying that there was a suspicious man standing on the corner. “There have been robbers in the area, and we came check out the situation,” one of the officers said to me. “I see,” I say. “So can I not talk here on my cell-phone? I get a pretty bad signal back at the house.”

The officer then recommended that I go down half a mile to the parking lot of Whole Foods to talk on my cell-phone. He recommended that I leave the neighborhood in which I live and have stayed for the past 10 years, so I could talk on the phone to my loved ones. “Otherwise if we get more calls, we’re going to keep coming down here.”

Last year we had a few day time break-ins at the end of the street. Pretty surprising given that the Police Department is only a block away. Our neighborhood got together and reviewed our community policing options.

During that meeting, a young black woman who lived on our road told us a similar story. She was walking home when a police cruiser slowly pulled-up. She was stopped, asked for ID and told to be “more cautious”. More cautious?

Anyway, it turns out her neighbor had called the police. The neighbor was quite embarrassed, apologized profusely.

I spoke with Pat Burns at length and he provided a copy of the training PowerPoint (here). While the language could be tightened up – “persons walking through yards of residential areas or seeming out of place” – this is the PowerPoint and not the actual training session. Obviously the class-setting provides an opportunity to flesh out what constitutes “suspicious” and provide guidelines on where the bar is set for calling in law enforcement.

Pat understood my concerns, said there was some provision to weed out false reports on ex-lovers, etc. He also offered to let me attend a session to see what kind of safeguards exist for myself (it is open to the public, space available).

If I get the chance, I’ll attend and report back my findings.

Someone sent me an email saying one local pundit doesn’t think my service on the Horace-Williams Citizens Committee deserves recognition.

Three comments.

First, while I was appointed in January, 2006 and the HWCC provided its final report May 22nd, 2006 (report here), I definitely hit the ground running. While I wasn’t a member of the HWCC very long, I had already attended many of the Phase II (post production of the HWCC principles) and a few of the HWCC Phase I meetings. I had contributed some ideas during the early phase and, when I ran for Council in 2005, had pushed for inclusion of additional environmental guidelines.

Second, the second phase of the HWCC, under new Chair Julie McClintock, pushed an agenda that included the “fleshing” out of the top level principles.

I must have had the group’s confidence as they let me draft the original response to Chancellor Moeser’s January 25th letter (I was a new member), a letter Julie, Joe Capowski and I further refined and presented to Council in May (here).

They also ignore the work of my version of the HWCC sub-committee in developing a framework for using “best in class” environmental protections, including processes for verifying compliance, for Carolina North.

Third comment?

I’ve worked hard to bring interested citizens into the decision-making process. Questioning volunteers’ commitment – especially without reviewing what they have done – is not very inclusive.

We need more helping hands to lift our community up. I believe the best public policy arises from measured debate. If I ever have the honor of serving our community on Council, I assure you that I will measure a candidate by their ability and interest not by whom the cliquish political in-crowd deems fit.

And I will never, ever dismiss a citizen’s contribution but rather honor and celebrate their civic concern.

I was Downtown about 8pm this evening. Some folks were gathering but it was generally quiet. It appeared Chapel Hill’s attempt to “scare” off visitors might have worked.

Starting 9:30pm though I began to wonder.

We live close to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and the Police Station. Starting 10pm there was the constant thrum of helicopters overhead and the nearly continuous whine of sirens moving. Then, as 11:30pm approached, the helicopters moved off and the sirens quieted.

Tomorrow we’ll get to see if we achieved a Homegrown Halloween.

Here is my formal application to fill Bill’s seat.

I agree with recent Council comments that their new colleague must be “ready to hit the road running”. To do so, an applicant should be prepared, involved and experienced.

Council already has a demanding workload. Over the next 7 months two major challenges – troubled finances and the Carolina North development agreement – along with a number of demanding development,technology and operational issues will strain Council’s capacity to deliberate and decide with the due diligence Chapel Hill’s citizens expect.

I am prepared to take on both the substance of issues – mundane or otherwise – and the time demands (280 hours alone over the next 7 months) necessary to do the job at a level our community deserves. On many issues I’m prepared and already up to speed with no steep learning curve to climb.

Over the last 7 years Council has become familiar with my work ethic: creative, hard-working, dedicated.

I have been an entrepreneur, a consultant, a manager, an executive officer of successful startups. My experience balancing budgets, managing employees, collaborating with customers, finding pragmatic solutions and meeting tough time constraints will assist me in fulfilling Council’s requirement that an applicant be ready – day-one – to serve.

I’m involved with a broad spectrum of local issues: protecting the environment, community outreach, increasing diversity, Town finances and fiscal responsibility, economic development, Downtown revitalization, UNC growth on main campus and Carolina North, civil liberties, affordable housing, treatment of the homeless, building a framework for mutually beneficial negotiation between Town and Gown, hands-on arts, infrastructure enhancements, election reforms, solid waste management, airport relocation and more.

I’ve attended hundreds of meetings, researched deeply, developed informed opinions and offered innovative improvements on many of the issues a new Council member will face.

I have also fought, irrespective of concerns of popularity and political consequence, to bring the best policy to the table. My allegiance is to my conscience. I have no hidden agenda and will continue to fight for solutions that are fair and just for all residents.

Tapping Chapel Hill’s creativity is a cornerstone of my activism these last seven years. I will continue my efforts to draw in the wisest public counsel, to temper Council desires with wide-ranging public input. Without a seat on Council I have helped folks shape this Town for the better. With a seat – tapping staff resources, liaising with advisory boards, shaping Council decisions – my effectiveness serving will only improve.

My experience with UNC and the Carolina North plan, my advocacy on improving the Town’s financial condition and my record of promoting the broadest community outreach meshes well with the leadership requirements of the next 13 months.

I will focus on non-controversial goals: setting Chapel Hill on a firm financial foundation, preserving those Chapel Hill qualities we cherish, creating new economic opportunities and promoting the broadest of public participation.

There are many ways to serve ones community. I’ve done quite a few – hands-on volunteering, advisory board member, community organizer, activist. Like Flicka with her neighborhood sewer problem, I started out with a small issue and now, like her, find myself asking Council to let me serve our fine community as their colleague.

Finally, I can’t fill Bill’s shoes, but I will honor his memory by working-hard to improve Chapel Hill for all our diverse residents.

That is my pledge.

Further background: what I’ve done lately, where I would serve and what I would do.

What would I do the next 13 months? If you look back through the hundreds of posts on local issues I’ve made since September 2005, you will see I’m not short of ideas for positive change. I also have two election platforms (2005 and 2007) and many election questionnaires that contain specific proposals addressing Town finances, economic development, managing UNC’s growth, environmental protection and remediation, carrying capacity, improving operational efficiency and on and on.

For all that, the next seven months are going to be quite busy.

My main role is to fill in the gaps, put my shoulder to the wheel and work on those bread-n-butter issues that are already in the pipeline. I’ll add value where I can, manpower when its needed and innovative solutions as required but for the most part I fully expect that my agenda for building a pocket park Downtown or implementing the Dark Skies initiative will have to wait.

Here’s what I sent to Council:

Laurin suggested on her ‘blog “Decide what you want to do in a proactive way on the council”. Noting “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.”

As you well know, I have brought many issues before Council these last seven years. Over the next 12 months, most of the work I expect to do is to fill in the gaps, add my shoulder to yours, to push forward on known Council business. I do have a few ideas, old and new, that I would like to pursue. Most have to do with improving operations, environmental and resource management, technology and process enhancements, the budget, economic and Downtown development, managing growth, etc. Some, like adopting lighting guidelines as per the International Dark Skies initiative, can be grafted into current work. Others, like beginning the process of creating a new hands-on arts center, will probably have to wait.

Here’s a list of items I’d like to work on in order to give you some context:

Finances.

Financial report card.

It’s nice that we have maintained, even tenuously, our AAA bond rating but that cannot be the only metric we use to indicate financial health. I would like to work with Council and staff to develop and publish other metrics indicative of the Town’s overall financial health.

Rebuilding our reserves.

The next few years are going to be tough. We need to start rebuilding our reserves beyond what is needed to maintain our yearly credit-rating. The recent and continuing financial crisis proves the need for prudent reserve planning.

Cutting costs.

We need to prioritize spending now, cap some expenditures and freeze some outlays. We must control costs – especially energy – and prepare staff for low or no salary growth. I’ll take the heat for putting all discretionary spending options – library bond, Lot #5, etc. – on the table. We need to aggressively pursue operational efficiencies – I will ask Council to form a small tiger team to work with staff to seek “low hanging fruit” that will cut short-term costs.

We can’t do it alone.

I will call for a new Citizen Budget Advisory Board. I believe this needs to be short-term appointment and that Council needs to actively recruit citizens with professional credentials to assist in formulating our budget.

Carolina North.

Development agreement. Community benefit at every step.

I’ve already expressed some of my concerns on scheduling, the need for a more robust underlying zone, the necessity of negotiating with other entities and how to make the agreement successfully outlast its creators. I will continue to work those and other issues, one of which is community benefit. While Roger Perry suggested 3 million square feet as a good starting point, an investment by the University which justified significant returns – like a $45 million transit plan – to the community I believe that the Council should set goals that benefit the community at smaller increments. For example, I would like to see the bus stop south of the Innovation Center site replaced with a multi-modal facility as part of the next step. Sidewalks should provide safe access to this facility where bicycles and scooters can be securely stored as folks switch to the bus system.

Development agreement. Standards above and beyond.

As a member of the HWCC environmental sub-group, I helped create a framework for making sure the negative environmental consequences of Carolina North were minimized. I and others proposed applying “best in class” lighting, air particulate, ground water, emission standards that are above and beyond those required under the comprehensive plan, LUMO or other statutory instruments. Since a development agreement provides the flexibility to mandate standards outside current zoning requirements, I will ask Council to revisit this framework, add additional provisions for incorporating future “best in class” energy and environmental standards.

“Bang the drum loudly”

As I’ve suggested with other large-scale development projects, I believe that our duty goes beyond inviting folks to Council hearings. We need to pursue public input. We need to use all the tools at our disposal – notably the Internet – to give our citizens an informed perspective on the various impacts these projects bring. I would like to team with the Planning and Technology departments and use Carolina North as a pilot project for developing a public outreach plan which can be extended to other facets of the development process.

Council meetings, discussions and transparency.

As the creation of the development agreement progresses the demand on Council time will also increase. I’ve already put a lot of time into Carolina North and am ready to pour even more effort into creating a framework for Carolina North’s development our community and the University can appreciate. That said, it strikes me that Council could use some new tools to both keep the public informed and to communicate openly with various stake-holders. Council has already called for a new Carolina North website. I’ve asked for a FAQ, glossary of terms and a record of every citizen question with attendant answer. I believe we can do even better and am prepared to make specific suggestions to improve our e-governance.

Safety

“We’re not Mayberry”

Chapel Hill doesn’t exist in a bubble. I have been concerned about increased gang-related violence for several years. I would like Council to revisit Chief Jarvies proposals drafted after the Avalon incident. We need to make sure that Chief Curran and Captain Blue have adequate resources to train our force to meet organized violence.

Downtown

I spend a lot of time Downtown. Handicap accessibility, lighting, signage, and cleanliness continue to be problems. I would like to work with the relevant staff and boards to address some specific issues that seem to be raised over and over.

“Walking is not a crime.”

When the Police Department announced the Orange County Community Safety Partnership, I was concerned because it sounded like the roundly criticized Homeland Security TIPS program. It wasn’t clear what kind of oversight, training or civil protections were part of the program. Pat Burns, our representative, walked me through the program and provided some insight on its operation. The training presentation has a few items I would like see addressed and I believe the community would be well-served by having Pat run Council through the process to solicit feedback. For me, the part about reporting “persons walking through yards of residential areas or seeming out of place” needs to be clarified. You might recall a recent embarrassing incident when a young man using his cell on his street corner had the police called because he “seemed out of place.”

Extending neighborhood contacts

As part of the new website revamp, I would like to provide my professional expertise in improving public safety communications between neighbors and neighborhoods.

Civil rights/civil liberties

We have a well-trained police force. We try to hire the best. Chapel Hill has prided itself on maintaining the highest standards protecting civil rights and civil liberties. I want to work with Council and Chief Curran to make sure we can maintain our citizens confidence that we consistently honor our duty to protect our citizens rights, privacy and liberty.

Downtown revitalization

Parking recommendations implementation.

As a former member of the Downtown Parking Task Force I’m quite familiar with the competent suggestions made by staff and task force. One, the new parking assessment I called for, is near completion. We should see this as the starting point for addressing our longterm parking needs. As Dwight Bassett scrambles to backfill the spaces being lost on Lot #5 and plans move forward for more on-street slots, now is the time to form a small implementation task force to make sure the best, practical (low-cost) recommendations are carried out expeditiously. I volunteer for that new team.

Security

I would like to be part of the team that improves Downtown’s security.

Friendly experience.

There are a number of short and long term improvements that would improve folks Downtown experience. Water fountains, a decent bathroom, a family-friendly pocket park, way-signs and other amenities which don’t have to be expensive could greatly improve visitors and residents Downtown experience. I will work with the Downtown Partnership, the Downtown business community, the Chamber, staff and relevant advisory boards to bring these straight-forward improvements to Downtown.

Development and growth

How high, how dense?

Last Spring, Council decided to end their pursuit of high density development zones. We need to restart that discussion. We should take the recent work on twisting RSSC into a palatable high density zone and start fresh with the density discussion. Our community might not embrace high density, but if we’re going to allow high-density development to go forward civic duty demands we have a clear, honest and open discussion among not only Council and those developers wishing to use a new zone but the wider community.

What just happened?

We need to make the development and inspections process easier to understand, easier to deal with and easier to track. We can use the Carolina North process as a pilot for community outreach. We can pursue NRG’s (Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth) request for a straight-forward progress reporting system.

University Square, how does it fit?

The UNC Foundation is moving forward on their plans for University Square. One challenge, in the next few months, will be how to seize this opportunity to reshape one of the more troublesome aspects of Downtown. Also, incorporating the University Square redevelopment into a broader Downtown development plan is necessary if all the components of revitalization currently on the table are to work complementary.

The Foundation has already expressed an interest in building a parking deck, which could elegantly solve some of Downtown’s parking issues, but Council needs to work from day one to make sure that their parking solution has a wider public utility.

Measure twice…

For several years I’ve suggested we use more metrics-based goals in our planning process. Compliance, by necessity, requires measurement but many times the goals under which a project is approved are not measured on delivery.

Carrying capacity

Along with measurable goals, we need to establish the longterm growth limits of Chapel Hill. We only have so much water. We can only ship so much trash cost effectively to some other community. Now is the time, as the available land for development is nearly gone, and as discussions of in-fill and density begin, to start a community discussion on what are the resource limits to Chapel Hill’s growth.

Evergreen process.

As we review our development plans and modify LUMO, I believe we need to revisit the process we use to keep these instruments current and firmly based on the best understanding at the time.

Rogers Road, our neighbors and future residents.

As the Rogers Road Small Area Task Force’s efforts draw to a close, we need to look at resolving some nuisances that have long plagued this community. In next years tight budget, adequate planning must go on to deal with these long neglected items.

Miscellaneous items I would want to work on:

  • Technology
    • Website refresh
    • Technology upgrades including more use of open source and open document standards.
    • The DOT fiber optic project
    • Better community outreach
    • Leverage the Internet
    • Put Council email on-line
    • Trouble ticket system
    • Specialty sites for Carolina North and Hillsborough425
    • Complete Council agendas on-line a full 7 days before meetings
    • Council and Planning Board video on-line. Audio of all advisory board meetings.
  • International Dark Skies Initiative
  • Waste management
    • Our part in managing waste – setting long term goals – in-county or not
    • Siting transfer site – our role
  • Storm Water Utility
    • Effective coordination between SWU, OWASA and Bolin Creek restoration
    • Effective oversight
  • Open space
    • Preserve creeks leading to Bolin Creek watershed
    • Identify and preserve natural corridors connecting through Carolina North
  • Arts
    • Hands-on arts in Chapel Hill
    • %1 Art funding to more local artists

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