The troubled News and Observer posted this reminder:

The Chapel Hill Historical Society will present The History of Print Media in Chapel Hill and Carrboro on Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m.

The featured speakers will be Don Evans, an editor and writer at The Chapel Hill News for three decades, and Kirk Ross, former managing editor of the Independent Weekly and co-founder of The Carrboro Citizen.

“Our event will look at the history of newspapers and print media in our towns and will surely spark a discussion about the future of newspapers here,” said Chapel Hill Historical Society Chairman Terry Barnett.

The program is free and open to the public and will be held in the lower level of the Chapel Hill Museum, 523 East Franklin St. Parking is available in the museum lot [MAP].

Chapel Hill has been blessed over the years with a variety of media outlets. Their evolutions and declines, reformations and restorations a harbinger of what comes next in journalism in the on-line age. Don’s (and formerly Kirk’s) Chapel Hill News has a ‘net presence via OrangeChat. Kirk is a pioneer – creating a newspaper, the Carrboro Citizen, on-line first then moving its content to the quaint dead tree distribution network.

Unfortunately I have a previous engagement on Sunday. This should be an interesting presentation where, I’m fairly sure, some curious back-stories of Chapel Hill will emerge.

I wasn’t able to attend the spoken-word event concerning the corrosive effects of Greenbridge on Northside last evening, but according to the Daily Tar Heel, it stirred some sharp discussion.

UNC junior Kane Smego, who performed slam poetry at the event, described the project as two towers, “one 10 stories, the other seven — like a middle finger to the Northside.”

The Greenbridge promotional video added some controversy:

The video features interviews with black Northside residents recounting family history intermixed with narration about the proposed Greenbridge site.

Many of those featured in the video now say their words were taken out of context and misconstrued to seem as they were in full support of the project.

“I didn’t realize what I said was going to be used in that manner,” said Dolores Bailey, a Northside resident who was featured in the promotional video. “So that bothers me a lot.”

Delores (not Dolores) did support Greenbridge’s zoning application though she also wanted to carve out a better deal for the neighborhood:

Delores Bailey, a Northside resident, pointed out that Greenbridge could help but would not solve all of the problems in that area of Chapel Hill and/or Northside. She said the notion that preserving downtown is more important than preserving a neighborhood makes her “shudder.” Ms. Bailey said there were people in the neighborhood who did not understand that Greenbridge would be 10 stories high. She proposed putting half of the affordable units in the neighborhood, adding that this would address more needs. Ms. Bailey said that developers had listened, and that even though she had problems with the project she supports it because it is an attempt to work with the neighborhood and an understanding that some people will be living in its shadow. She stressed the importance of Greenbridge being respectful of the neighborhood and not making it feel shut out.

As far as that shadow, I argued that the socio-economic shadow this throws across Rosemary was not adequately discussed or evaluated (the physical shadow is pretty large also).

Alum08 at the DTH said:

It’s truly unclear what NOW is hoping to accomplish. This organization’s sole achievement has been complaining about something it does not fully understand. Additionally, this is all final and in the past. Why, as bright Carolina students, are we focusing on this instead of the future?

The future Downtown, at least as it is constituted by our current leadership, is high – high cost, high density, high buildings. The consequences, especially the long-term cumulative consequences, have not been adequately evaluated by our community.

Here’s a comment I left at the DTH:

It’s a shame that this dialog didn’t happen when the project was going through the approval process. I was one of the very few folks that stood up to challenge the project. I took a lot of heat for pointing out that this project would accelerate the gentrification going on not only into Northside but spreading South to Cameron, West to Pine Knolls, etc.

There are other shoes to drop here: the commercialization of Rosemary to the North, the cumulative impact of the Town’s Lot $5 project/Short Brothers project/University Square redevelopment on the nearby neighborhoods, the gentrification of nearby local businesses (how long will unsubsidized local business last as their rents rise or landlords redevelop to attract boutique shops?) and other corrosive effects of the high-priced/high-density vision our Council maintains.

Delores, as well as did other local leaders from organizations like the Hank Anderson Breakfast club, supported the project wholeheartedly. It was quite difficult to contest the social justice issue in the face of their support.

There’s a lot to like about Greenbridge, even as it sheds some of its “green” cred. I argued it was in the wrong place and that it would exacerbate the community displacements seen in Northside, Cameron and Pine Knoll.

Again, while Greenbridge is a “done deal”, there is still an incredible need to explore these other issues. I’m glad some other folks are taking up the challenge.

Characterizing Delores’ acquiescence as wholehearted is maybe too strong a sentiment but as I recall, in the end, there wasn’t a lot of struggle to get the final approval.

If there’s one lesson to be learned from last night’s event it is that our Town needs to look at improving our community outreach effort, get creative and more expansive, in order to build a broad consensus.

Early voting is moving at a breakneck pace this year with large turnouts from day one.

Unfortunately, NC’s “straight party” ballot option continues to confuse.

Even if you vote “straight party”, you MUST vote for President separately!! Luckily, our new local BOE Director Tracy Reams made sure this year’s poll-workers were well trained to notify voters of this peculiar situation.

Ellie, Elijah and I usually go to the polls on election day – it is a family tradition.

I’ve voted in every major election and nearly every primary (especially since independent voters had the option) since 1980 and have usually seen my top of the ticket choice for naught but this year is different.

Change, I dearly hope, is on the way.

There are a few more days to early vote. This year, same-day registration is available (details here).

No excuse for not getting out to vote!

Early Voting Locations and Hours

Monday – Friday, October 27th – 31st, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1st, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

MOREHEAD PLANETARIUM, 250 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill [MAP]
CARRBORO TOWN HALL, 301 West Main Street, Carrboro [MAP]
ORANGE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY, 300 West Tryon Street, Hillsborough [MAP]

Monday – Friday, October 27th – October 31st, 12:00 Noon – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1st, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

SEYMOUR SENIOR CENTER, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill [MAP]
NORTHERN HUMAN SERVICES CENTER, 5800 NC Hwy 86 North, Hillsborough [MAP]

Nov. 4th Voting Locations

Orange County Board of Elections website has more information, including a search tool to identify your particular precinct.

Can’t wait to cast my vote for a guy who unapologetically wears sandals 😉

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.

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,


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.”

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.

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

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.

As probably most readers of CitizenWill know, I decided to stop posting on locally owned OrangePolitics (OP) for many reasons:

  • 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 (what I said below the fold).

In many ways, my disappointment in OP comes from the narrowing of that initial promise – to engage the wider community – into a sometimes almost reflexively dismissive platform pushing a particular agenda.

I have no problem with OP’s owner pushing a particular agenda – that is what my site – – does. I do have a problem with any claim to being an open and transparent forum for community-wide discussion.

For all that, the site, its owner and commentators have sometimes broadened the discussion of local issues. On occasion, “leakage” – the coverage of particular issues by the local media – occurred because of those discussions. These basic contributions not only informed but stirred debate and even action.

But those wins don’t justify the failures. In November I said I hoped that the next generation – OrangePolitics 3.0 – would represent a change of course –

“Reform is in order and I truly hope that the promise of 2003 becomes the reality of 2008.”

Today, Ruby and company will meet to presumably chart out that new course for “OrangePolitics 3.0” at a “Winter Happy Hour” ( 6:30pm, FUSE).

Following up on my previous comment, I suggest one topic of discussion be how to stick with a reality-based perspective.

Unfortunately, if this recent post by Ruby is any indication of 3.0’s direction, well, the new OP is already off to a poor start:

Here’s a preview of the new “Hall of Fame” function that makes a bunch of stats public on OP 3.0:

Top 10 commenters of all time:
Ruby Sinreich 1359 items
WillR 821 items
Dan Coleman 609 items
Tom Jensen 380 items
Mark Chilton 344 items
jehb 161 items
Mary Rabinowitz 154 items
johnk 125 items
ethan 50 items
admin 42 items

In my “farewell to OP” message, I mentioned the almost 3,000 comments/posts I made over the lifetime of OP. That estimate was based on a dump of the current OP website – showing roughly 2263 comments from 2003-2007 plus some notes I made in 2004 of missing comments from an early accidental purge of OP.

While I made a wide “guesstimate” of those early days, I’m comfortable with what OP currently reports – that I made thousands of comments.

In fact, based on my analysis of OP circa Nov. 5th, it appears I made :

  • 28 comments on stories posted in 2003
  • 178 comments on stories posted in 2004
  • 520 comments on stories posted in 2005
  • 876 comments on stories posted in 2006
  • 661 comments on stories posted in 2007 (slacking off?)

Or 2263 comments over 459 posts (threads of discussion). The particulars are listed below my “farewell”.

When someone contacted me about Ruby’s comment (a longtime OP lurker that thought there was an “undercount”) I notified Ruby of this striking discrepancy.

Why? Not because I felt any personal slight but because I thought Ruby would want to analyze the delta and fix her software. I’m sure an analysis of other commentators would show a similar miscount. Unfortunately, to date, there’s been no comment on those erroneous numbers.

Does it matter if my or any other posters contributions were off by a factor of two or more?

Not if this was just a software glitch but if this is an attempt to shape the past to forge the future, well, probably not the best start for a reformed OP. I’ll wait to see if the number of comments carried forward into 3.0 are reflective of the actual discussion carried out on OP over these last 4 years,

As I said before, I hope OP 3.0 sheds the mistakes of OP 2.0 and evolves into its initial promise – an open, honest, informative and inviting forum for discussion of local issues.

I’ll be on the sidelines encouraging the success of 3.0. Good luck folks! And do yourselves proud – try to hit one out if the ballpark.


I’ve said I understand why UNC feels compelled to push forward it plans for the Carolina North Innovation Center but I still want to see a master plan that incorporates this project, its supplementary infrastructure and the results of the on-going transit, fiscal equity and environmental studies before one concrete block is laid.

Timing is important as is soliciting continued community input.

My hope is that UNC, the three local government entities, other local stakeholders and the wider community will use the Innovation Center approval process as an opportunity to create a structured framework for further sustained negotiations on Carolina North. While committees like the Horace-Williams Citizens group have helped define some of the principles we want to see the project adhere to, an intermittent process, whose existence is subject to the whims of the Mayor, will not serve our citizens well.

From the outset, we need to create a flexible framework for open and inclusive discussions on Carolina North. As opportunities and obstacles arise over the first fifteen years of Carolina North’s development, how else will we address these challenges?

UNC is giving the community a chance to meet with both their staff and that of their developers, Alexandria Real Estate Equities (whose on-line presence could use a serious upgrade) to see how innovative their cornerstone project – the Innovation Center – will be.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The University and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. are planning the Carolina Innovation Center on the Carolina North property at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and the former Municipal Drive. The Innovation Center will provide an environment where innovation-based companies affiliated with the University can turn laboratory concepts into viable businesses.

The design process for this building is in its early stages. I hope that you can join us on Thursday evening, November 29, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Robert and Pearl Seymour Center at 2551 Homestead Road for a community meeting on the Innovation Center. Representatives from UNC, Alexandria and the architect for the building will present preliminary sketches of the building design.

We have submitted a concept plan for the Innovation Center to the Town of Chapel Hill. The Town Council is currently scheduled to consider that concept plan at its January 23, 2008 meeting.

We look forward to meeting with neighbors and community members to answer your questions and to listen to your ideas. You can learn more about the Innovation Center in an article from the University Gazette here .

We hope to see you on November 29. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If you are a neighborhood or community contact, please forward this to your group or others who may be interested.



Linda Convissor, Director of Local Relations
Office of University Relations
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
CB# 6225
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-6225
919-843-5966 (fax)

Following up on last week’s panel discussion of John Ehle’s 1965 book “The Free Men,” Terri B. is concerned about the direction Chapel Hill is headed:

I do not believe that building luxury housing surrounding the remaining historically black neighborhoods in downtown is an acceptable solution.

Thanks Terri for the link to photographer Jim Wallace’s snap in UNC’s News Service press release.

Orange County Commissioner Mike Nelson on Marty Ravellette.

He was, perhaps, the most impressive individual I’ve ever met. The world was a richer place because he walked amongst us.

[UPDATE] The Chape l Hill News reports on Marty’s service:

There will be a graveside service for Marty Ravellette at Maplewood Cemetery Thursday at 2 pm. The cemetery is located at 1621 Duke University Road in Durham.

There will also be a memorial service for Marty at the University Presbyterian Church Thursday at 7:15. The church is located at 209 East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill right across from UNC campus. There is plenty of parking in lots and decks on Rosemary Street, which is one road behind Franklin Street.

What! Chapel Hill isn’t the only election this year?

The League kindly allowed me to post Carrboro’s forum to googleVideo. Interesting overlap in themes this year….

Mia Burroughs is reminding folks that they have until October 31st to help name the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools (CHCCS) newest elementary school out on Eubanks Road, near the Rogers Road neighborhood

The newest school is located adjacent to the former Morris Grove elementary school, a school created to serve the educational needs of the local black community.

The Morris Grove school was created in the late 1800s by Morris Hogan, son of a female slave and her owner. A farmer and local statesman, Hogan put his own land and money into the one-room wooden schoolhouse. The state paid the salaries of two instructors, who, depending on the decade, taught six, seven or three grades.

Patrick Winn, Chapel Hill News, Feb. 10th, 2007

Morris also had a long-standing passion for education as a passport to a better life for his own and other black children. Yet in the late 1800s, the Orange County school board had few funds for school construction and operation. To fill the void, the board sanctioned the opening of many simple, usually one-room, segregated schools that were built and operated by local individuals or groups.

Morris won permission to create the Morris Grove Elementary School, using his own land and funds, at what is now 402 Eubanks Road. It is remembered as a simple frame structure with only pump water, outdoor toilets and a Spartan interior heated by a wood stove in cold weather. Instruction for six grades was taught by one teacher. The school probably stayed in operation from the 1880s to the 1920s, until tax-based public schools took over. All of the Hogan children and some of the grandchildren attended it.

Doug Eyre, Chapel Hill News, Nov. 17th, 2006

Naming the new school Morris Grove would not only honor a slice of our community’s history but serve as an excellent educational reference point for students. Even in the supposedly progressive environs of Chapel Hill, we’re still working to bridge historical divides.

And only knowing where you’ve been can you get where you are going.

Please cast your vote in favor of Morris Grove by answering this CHCCS online survey.

Recycle and reuse are two environmental principles our local community follows fairly well. In that spirit, I believe our citizens will appreciate my putting frugality over novelty.

Signs are sprouting up around Town. Several of mine, it appears, were saved by some of my 2005 supporters and trotted out a little early. Thanks folks for showing some early enthusiasm.

My specialty, since 2001, is to round-up campaign signs after the election. No reason to clutter our road-sides after the deed is done.

In 2005, as I wrote here, I managed to pickup all but two signs of my signs by 7:21 am the day after the election – the final two by 9:30am.

I said then:

Why the quick pickup?

I said early on in my campaign, win or lose, my signs would not linger throughout our Town.

If there’s one discriminator the electorate takes away from this election, I hope they recall that I said it, then I did it.

I said it and then I did it. If you look at my activism on behalf of our community, you’ll see a clear track record of “walking my own talk”.

In 2006 I managed to pick-up over 2,000 signs (and several bags of adjacent litter – unfortunately, I’ve already filled two this year!).

Every year I offer to pickup any candidate’s sign and, once again extend that offer to everyone – my colleagues in the Town Council race – Carrboro races – the school board (contact signs AT ).

It’s a fun way to do my part to keep our community attractive.

A common question I get is “Who designed your sign?”

I actually did, using a variety of free software tools – including GImp (Gnu Image Program) and OpenOffice. These are the kind of tools I’ve been asking our Town to adopt for the last six years. Using OpenOffice, for instance, would save hundreds of thousands in Microsoft licensing fees, something our Council is well aware of, something our Town continues to drag its feet doing.

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