Robin Cutson Drops a Feather

Robin Cutson, a fellow 2005 candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council and, more recently, a candidate for Orange County Board of Commissioners, has decided to spur local change outside of the “established system”.

She say’s she’s frustrated with the inability of our local elected folk to solve problems in a common sensical fashion:

…it appears that citizens are being asked to provide services and functions that once were provided by local governments—in essence, citizens are acting as their own ad hoc unfunded local government—-while at the same time existing local governments are expanding and becoming bloated bureaucracies—adding more government positions and seemingly semi-permanent consultants.

SqueezeThePulp, Aug. 7th, 2006

She doesn’t think the current political process is too effective:

Is there anything that can be done? Well we could vote in responsible elected officials. . .but from the consistently low voter turnout and the continual re-election of incumbents it appears that the majority of people either don’t care, or that the majority of people like the way things are going—or that the majority have simply given up. Or maybe people are too busy trying to lead their private lives and fulfill their duties as an ad hoc citizen government to get organized and effect change.


and has suggested a “fun” alternative:

So maybe its time for a new approach. Not just more guest columns and letters and blogging trying to push change or the election of a common sense political candidate—this obviously didn’t help in the last election cycle. And not just another citizen group or task force—there are so many of these now that no one pays attention anymore.

Maybe it’s time for something more fun. . .something designed to get the notice of busy average citizens who are disenfranchised and disillusioned with politics as usual. Maybe we should start a media campaign to elect a Mayor and council for an ad hoc unofficial citizen government and let them represent our interests and needs to the dysfunctional existing government bodies. It could be fun. . .


Robin and I share some common concerns; preserving our local environment, shepherding local resources wisely, the troubling direction UNC’s Carolina North development is taking, the course our stormwater management utility is charting, the lack of progress in forging ahead on real budget reforms.

We also disagree on causitive factors and suggested solutions.

And that’s OK.

For me, running for Council was an enjoyable and exhilarating experience. I delighted in every opportunity I had to meet with citizens and discuss my vision of Chapel Hill’s future.

Robin, your style of running, of getting your message out, was distinctive – fairly full on – and, I’m guessing, a bit rocky at times. I believe I understand why you “only half” jest in suggesting an ersatz governmental body to “sensibly” rule the local roost.

But you have folks that share your point of view. You have been a strong advocate on their behalf.

Why disengage from the current political process?

…I have personally sworn off ever running again for any office real or imagined and feel my casting a vote in existing local elections and hoping for change is like dropping a feather down the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo…

Engagement, Robin.

Hands-on engagement. Discovering, discussing, debating the issues – fighting for Chapel Hill’s better future.

Isn’t that why we ran?


One response to “Robin Cutson Drops a Feather”

  1. Robin Cutson Avatar


    As to my faith in changing the system from within it is my opinion that no one wins an elected office in this town without supporting policies that cater to the new and “improved” wealthy corporate UNC . . .

    This means catering to developers pushing high density residential housing and discouraging private business—-as one builder said during a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce—UNC needs housing, not businesses—it doesn’t need the competition since it has its own for profit businesses and it doesn’t pay taxes so it doesn’t need the taxes businesses generate to help ease the tax burden on property owners. . .

    Of course, the push for more housing without the proper balance of businesses is causing the burden of taxes to fall on renters and homeowners. . . but as one woman told me during my run for council–she likes the high taxes and land valuations–said it kept the “riff raff” out of Chapel Hill.

    And, of course, those seeking office should never mention that the policies in place for “affordable” housing such as the inclusionary housing which merely justifies an increased push for upscale condos and developments with a few token affordable units tacked on is gentrifying the poor and rank and file workers out of Chapel Hill.

    Catering to corporate UNC also means keeping the focus off impaired waterways and playing up air pollution/public transit instead—this enables a push for even more high density development (which impairs waterways even more) . . .and since pharmaceutical/biotech research and development creates water pollution that is not removed through normal treatment processes (and UNC is increasingly pursuing these corporate for profit interests) it means it is even more critical to keep everyone talking about air pollution/public transit and not water pollution . .

    It also means not mentioning water supply issues—after all in 2002 it was reported UNC used 30% of all the water supplied by OWASA—and with expansion this will increase. . .along with the cost of water to citizens who will subsidize UNC’s cheaper reclaimed water. . .

    And, of course, catering to corporate UNC means supporting UNC’s planned biotech research park, Carolina North, and keeping the focus on cutting parking and more housing and not mentioning the fact that UNC is engaged in biological warfare “defense” research and that this will probably escalate since UNC’s Carolina North biotech research park will also involve government work . . .nor is the local media going to publicize this. . .as one media official told me. . .there just too much money invloved to go against it. . .

    But heck, why worry about water pollution, biological warfare research or rank and file workers being priced out of the area as long as we have lots of public art from pricey nationally aclaimed artists. . .

    I think Leonard Cohen sums up my feelings best:

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
    Everybody knows that the war is over
    Everybody knows the good guys lost
    Everybody knows the fight was fixed
    The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
    That’s how it goes
    Everybody knows

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