Ruminations


[UPDATE 5:31pm] Over at the impromptu memorial behind the “Y”, WTVD 11 is reporting that the SUV has been found and is currently being processed by the CHPD crime unit.

[UPDATE 5:50] Further coverage from 1360 WCHL.

[UPDATE: 6:16PM] The Chancellor’s remarks via 1360WCHL.com here [MP3].

ORIGINAL POST

The young woman found fatally shot on the corner of Hillcrest Road and Hillcrest Circle [MAP + street view] around 5 a.m. Wednesday, Mar. 5th as Eve Carson, UNC’s 2008 Student Body President.

I had the pleasure of meeting Eve during last Fall’s election, she seemed to be a real champion of the “Carolina Way”.

Photo: DTH

This afternoon Chancellor Moeser and a crowd stretching from the North end of Polk Place nearly to Wilson Library paid their respects to this will liked and highly praised member of UNC’s student body. After the Chancellor’s remarks, one of the largest, quietest crowds I’ve ever seen assembled at UNC gave more than the asked for minute of silent contemplation. A few moments later the UNC bell tower played “Hark the Sound”, a song Chancellor Moeser described as “Eve’s favorite”. [MP3]

An informal memorial is setup next to the rear of the Y fronting Polk Place [MAP].

The Chapel Hill Police Department (CHPD) have said that Ms. Carson was driving “a blue 2005 Toyota Highlander with a Georgia license plate AIV-6690.” (CHPD Press Release)

Yesterday morning at approximately 5:00 am, Chapel Hill Police responded to reported gunshots in the area of Davie Circle. Officers checked the area and located an unidentified female 18-25 years of age lying in the intersection of Hillcrest Drive and Hillcrest Circle.

This morning at approximately 9:00 am a positive identification of the victim was made by police investigators and the office of the medical examiner. The victim has been identified as Eve Carson age 22, a UNC senior and current UNC student body president. Eve was a resident of Chapel Hill and a highly regarded member of the university community. Our condolences go out to the Carson family and the entire university community that knew Eve.

The police department has issued a BOLO for the victim’s vehicle that is believed to have been taken during the crime. The description of the vehicle is as follows: A blue 2005 Toyota Highlander with Georgia plate AIV-6690.

This investigation is on-going and the Police Department are seeking leads and continuing to urge anyone with information about this crime to call the Chapel Hill Police Department at 968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at (919) 942-7515.

We will have another update scheduled for 5:30 to discuss any new developments.

Here is a copy of the current standard Georgia license plate (the style wasn’t described by the police, here are other possible versions).

The standard 2005 Highlander looks something like this:

Here’s a 2005 blue Highlander on Craig’s List with some better angles. Further images available via Google images.

The Daily Tar Heel is leading the coverage here, here, this video of the news conference and information on this evening’s Pit memorial.

The Herald Sun has this update.

The Chapel Hill News’ ‘blog Orange Chat has this from Chancellor Moeser.

Dear Carolina Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am so sorry to tell you that Chapel Hill Police have identified the victim of this week’s shooting as Eve Carson, our student body president, trustee, wonderful person and great friend. We are deeply
saddened and numb with grief.

I would like for us all to gather this afternoon on Polk Place at 3 p.m. to remember Eve and to grieve together. We will plan a full memorial service at a later time. For now, it is important that we pause,
contemplate our loss and give each other support.

We encourage students, faculty or staff who feel they need assistance to contact the Office of the Dean of Students (966-4042) or Counseling and Wellness Services (966-3658). Counselors will be available at the Upendo Lounge at the Student Academic Services Building and Room 2518 A/B in
the new addition at the Carolina Union until 11 p.m. this evening (Thursday, March 6, 2008). Resident advisors in campus housing and Granville Towers are also available to be of assistance and support.

I know how difficult it will be to begin to comprehend something so tragic. Please, as you gather your thoughts and prayers, think of Eve’s parents, family and friends.

I hope you will join us this afternoon on Polk Place.

I’m confident that Chief Curran will give our police department’s full attention to this tragic crime.

Yes, this event appears to be a random act and, thus, not easily prevented but, with two murders and a violent robbery [Pine Knolls] a few weeks apart, we are reminded, once again, that the complexion of crime in Chapel Hill is changing.

I’m concerned that attention today’s and these other recent incidents, just like the attention brought by the club shootings Downtown, will fade with time and that our community would have missed an opportunity to discuss how we best address a growing problem.

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 – CitizenWill.org – 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.

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Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.

You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting, after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

Marge Piercy, “Seven of Pentacles”

I wasn’t familiar with Piercy’s poem before today’s memorial service for Joe Herzenberg – a great way to illuminate the influence Joe had on our community. Great remembrances from folks like Gerry Cohen, Leonard Rogoff, Jon Courtland, Ellie Kinnaird and Kathie Young (who did an incredible job keeping Joe going over the last year).

Joe could be mischievous, cantankerous and real curmudgeon. He also was a passionate defender of what he believed in – including our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. In fact, as Ellie noted, Joe was an inveterate cheerleader for Dec. 15th’s Bill of Rights Day event on the old Post Office’s steps – a role she feared would not be taken up by someone new.

Speaking of roles unfilled, Franklin St. used to be the home to many unorthodox citizens – folks like Joe and Marty – but as the old generation disappears the number of new folks stepping into those roles seems diminished. Sure, even today, there are unusual folks that are being woven into our community’s fabric but it seems at a lesser and lesser rate.

Then again, maybe it just seems that way to me as I’ve taken on my own role that has swept me away from the undercurrents of our local creative culture.

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.

Heck of a month for Chapel Hill legends.

Photo AlderMedia

I met Marty many years ago, used to run into him down at 501 Diner and on Franklin Street. He was an industrious guy, grinning away as he worked. Willing to take a minute and meet new folks – talk to them openly about his unusual situation.

Just as always, Marty Ravellette took his seat Monday morning at the Sutton’s Drug Store counter and swung his bare foot up to grip a waiting coffee cup.

Neither the Chapel Hill legend nor the many people who loved and admired him knew it would be for the last time.

Ravellette, who was born without arms but learned to use his feet to do everything from eating breakfast to cutting down trees, was killed Monday morning in a car accident. He was 67.

N&O, Nov. 12th, 2007

Another friendly Franklin Street presence I’ll miss.


Figure 8 Films “No Arms Needed”

Long time residents probably remember Marty pulling a woman clear of her car wreck on 15-501 back in 1998. The N&O reported on the Discovery Channel documentary covering his life back in 2004.

Marty told them the story (which I’ve heard him retell) of meeting Chuck Stone and being invited to talk to UNC students.

Q. How did you start speaking to students at UNC-Chapel Hill?

My wife is African-American and she works at Shoney’s. One day we were there eating and Professor Chuck Stone came up and said, “Here is this beautiful African-American woman and she’s not only with a white man but a white man with no arms. What’s going on here?” He just couldn’t figure it out. He sat down and we talked. After three or four months he invited me to his journalism class to speak to his students. That was six years ago.

Q. What do you tell the students in your talk with them?

I talk about nobility and how mankind is noble. It just doesn’t know it yet. No man has the right to look down on another human being because of the color of his skin. I also tell them that they can do the same things I’ve done. You don’t have to be handicapped to have an impact.

Right on Marty.

From the Carrboro Citizen

Joe Herzenberg, longtime Chapel Hill Town Council member, Democratic Party stalwart, Greenways champion and an astute historian of local politics died today from complications of diabetes.

He left this world, we are told, surrounded by friends. Details of memorials to follow.

I met Joe way back in ’81 when my brother Steve and my friend Bill helped him run for Council. I remember sorting piles of literature in his Cobb Terrace home. Back then I was a visitor in Chapel Hill, didn’t really know much about Council or local politics. Joe struck me as a gentle soul – someone I generally didn’t associate with Town politics.

Over the years I’d run into Joe Downtown or at various community events. We’d talk about the changes going on in Chapel Hill, the weather, the latest from UNC. His presence was a predictable backdrop to the memories I accumulated the last couple decades in Chapel Hill.

In recent years, he’d come to Council in the role of Town historian, often gently reminding our leaders that our past informs our future. He was an echo of an earlier Chapel Hill – a Chapel Hill more liberal, more progressive and more neighborly than today.

Now he’s gone.

Five years ago, I attended, as a citizen, my first Technology Board meeting. I had prepared a 5 item technology checklist I thought the Town should be addressing. Some items, the municipal networking/WIFI initiative, a technology assessment, broadening civic engagement online our Council has finally started to move on. Others, like moving to non-proprietary software, open document standards, self-service kiosks, we’re still lagging on.

About a year ago, I began to experiment with using video posted to youTube and googleVideo to cover local issues that were getting short shrift.

One of my first experiments involved covering the local Superior Court race. While I supported two solid candidates – Chuck Anderson and Allen Baddour – for the office, I felt it important to give the wider community the option to see all the folks – Carl, Adam, Allen and Chuck – explain their positions in their own words.


I knew I’d never get that level of coverage from WRAL or NBC17, so I took on the challenge to cover all the forums as best as I could (with the now famous wobbly Will-cam).

Since then, I’ve branched out from my own efforts and began converting existing footage from various sources for redistribution on the Internet.

League of Women Voters Forum Sierra Club Forum

I think my passion for civic engagement and drawing the community into policy discussions explains why no one has asked me “Why do you do it?” Over the year, though, I’ve had a few folks ask me “How do you do that?”

Here’s a quick overview of how I currently convert the DVD’s produced by Chapel Hill and Carrboro into a format suitable for youTube or googleVideo. The same process should apply to most other video formats.

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I’m a longtime watchdog of the UNC development process.

UNC, with Carolina North, started off as they had with many of their main campus projects – discounting our community’s concerns and dispensing with residents input.

I knew there had to be a better way to work towards a satisfactory conclusion for both our University and our community. So, in 2005, I renewed my call to UNC and the Town to create a more stable framework for dealing both with our common concerns and our disagreements.

I’m not sure how much my encouragement helped but UNC, by late 2005, did create a new kind of community effort. UNC’s Leadership Advisory Committee – the LAC – was created to try to find common ground among all the participants in the Carolina North process.



I threw my support behind the process, seeing the LAC as a good first start at building a more stable framework for Town and Gown relations. Both Council members, now incumbents running for office, showed little confidence in the process from the start.

Even though I supported UNC’s new effort – praising their success where appropriate – critical when they backslid into old habits – I also kept a close eye towards the eventual product – a master plan for Carolina North.

There were some initial missteps I thought needed some quick attention. One, inattention to the public input. Two, a missing commitment to measure the environmental baseline of Carolina North.

As you can see from this Aug. 24th, 2006 video, as a citizen I appeared before UNC’s LAC calling for a real environmental assay of Carolina North and making substantive improvements in their community outreach.

Finding champion species would help identify critical areas to preserve. Doing a thorough flora and fauna survey would help us establish a baseline to determine if conditions improve or diminish 10, 20 or 50 years out. Committing to measuring off-site air, noise and light pollution impacts could help build confidence in UNC’s commitment to maintaining the neighboring environment throughout our community.

What is different from UNC’s past performance is they actually integrated that criticism into their process and improved upon the overall plan.

I do know that the Sierra Club, in 2005, thought I was a candidate well-suited for addressing our Town’s environmental issues.

Will Raymond has been one of the most outspoken and effective citizen activists in Chapel Hill in recent years. We look forward to him using his talents to advocate for the environment as a member of Town Council. In particular we are excited about his initiatives to promote energy efficiency in town buildings. He will also work to protect lesser known creeks in the Chapel Hill area and to minimize the number of single occupancy vehicles causing air pollution and traffic congestion at Carolina North.

We strongly encourage Sierra Club members and any residents of Chapel Hill who care about the environment to support these four candidates in the November 8th election. They are the best hope for a Town Council that will always make reducing environmental impact a top priority as Chapel Hill grows bigger.

With two years of additional activism – on Carolina North, energy efficiency, open space and environmental protections, Roger Road, environmental standards – by the very measure the Club used in 2005, one might expect a 2007 endorsement.

Over the last two years, I knew I had built a solid reputation for putting our environment front and center. I brought to the table a number of established innovative solutions for reducing environmental impacts, promoting sustainable alternatives and reusing/recycling wasted resources.

Above all, I kept it simple: “Walk the talk.”

As recently as this Spring, when our Council wavered on eco-friendly standards for their Downtown development, I was there making the case for measurable goals. Three of the incumbents, Hill, Strom and Greene, voted for their public-private project even though the developer refused to be held to a goal of %20 energy reduction as measured by acceptable standards.

On the same project, I was there first on the hazardous waste remediation – sizing our obligation, funding the effort accordingly. The same three incumbents downplayed the costs to our Town’s open-ended obligation to clean up that environmental mess.

I’ve supported mandating ASHRAE and AIA 2030 environmental standards for energy efficient buildings, well beyond what some of the incumbents have called for.Beyond that, over the last two years I’ve lobbied (and successfully got) the Town to purchase bio-fuels for its fleet, though I’ve yet to get the majority to agree to targeted reductions in fuel use.

I’ve called for a stronger emphasis on reducing noise and light pollution, including adopting the precepts of the Dark Skies Initiative

As part of the Horace-William’s Citizens Committee (HWCC), I brought metrics to the environmental assay process – setting goals, discussing methodologies for measuring achievement of those goals.

Unfortunately, that necessary additional work was canceled when the Mayor pulled the plug on the HWCC. Fortunately, UNC’s Leadership Advisory Committee on Carolina North did listen and made a serious environmental assay of the Horace-William’s property a key requirement for moving forward.

On other issues, preserving open space, using the wasted landfill gas (LFG) for Town operations, teaming with the County on bio-fuels production, I have been at the forefront – calling for specific measures that would not only improve our local ecology but recycle/reuse wasted resources (two bangs for the same buck).

Whether it was right-sizing our Town’s vehicle fleet (still not done after a commitment to do so over 4 years ago), calling for the Town to get Duke Energy to use much more efficient light fixtures in our street lights (6 years now without action by Council), using technology to reduce car trips to the new Town Operations Center (ignored, and no longer championed by the dissolved Technology Board) – my efforts have been backed by solid, detailed, research and marked by a pragmatic, practical approach to solving problems.

Throughout, I’ve called on our Town to “walk the talk.”

Where was the concern for tree protection, for instance, when Southern Park was clear cut? Where was the commitment to carbon reduction (CRED) by reducing our Town’s fuel use or replanting appropriately at the new Town Operations center?

Lots of talk, but very poor follow through. Deeds, in the case of our incumbents, don’t always follow the words.

But it hasn’t just been about the environment. What about social justice?

Strangely ignored by our local Sierra Club, the environmental consequences of siting the landfill, and, now, the trash transfer station in the Rogers Road community have been well known for years. I remember two of the neighborhoods representatives, Fred Battle and Rev. Campbell, asking for relief at a Council meeting nearly eight years ago (and many times since).

They were asking Chapel Hill to make good on promises made a decade prior – to show some basic, decent, human concern.

The burden has only increased over the years but our elected folks have just not responded adequately to our neighbors just concerns. Many of their concerns – slowing down traffic, picking up spilled litter, improving the safety along Rogers Road – could be addressed by low cost means. Our Town, which has dumped trash in their backyards, could certainly allocate some funds to deal with the sewer and water problems.

Yet, two of our incumbents, Jim Ward and Bill Strom, over eight years, have moved slowly, if at all, to address this case of obvious environmental injustice. In spite of escalating requests, over the last four years, Cam Hill and Sally Greene joined Bill and Jim in mostly ignoring the pleas of our neighbors.

Yes, there was murmured concern but when it came to making measurable progress – the results were anemic – and quite unsatisfying to the Rogers Road community.

Not only have I spoken out on behalf of our neighbors, I’ve documented their case and have made specific proposals for addressing some of their concerns.

Why the Sierra Club refuses to address this environmental injustice in their own backyard I don’t know.

I do know that when I asked their political committee why I wasn’t asked about this glaring issue during my interview, two of the members told me that they thought it wasn’t part of the Club’s or Chapel Hill’s docket. I pointed out that the next Council will definitely be ruling on the County’s solid-waste plans and Rogers Road – even if we dispense with common neighborly courtesy – is squarely our Town’s concern.

In the recent League forum you can compare my response to those of the incumbents (40 minutes in).

Once you review the footage, I’d ask, “Who would you want standing in your corner?”

In 2005, the Sierra Club said I was a candidate well-suited for addressing our Town’s environmental issues:

Will Raymond has been one of the most outspoken and effective citizen activists in Chapel Hill in recent years. We look forward to him using his talents to advocate for the environment as a member of Town Council. In particular we are excited about his initiatives to promote energy efficiency in town buildings. He will also work to protect lesser known creeks in the Chapel Hill area and to minimize the number of single occupancy vehicles causing air pollution and traffic congestion at Carolina North.

Yes, these last two years, I built upon that activism – on Carolina North, energy efficiency, open space and environmental protection – the Sierra Club endorsed.

But I knew this year, because of Sierra Club politics at the State level, and because of my repeated calls to the Sierra Club’s leadership to take a principled stand on a number of environmental issues, I had very little chance to secure an endorsement. I had some small hope that the Club would surmount the politics and select the candidates that have shown the courage to “do” over those that have had the opportunity to “do more” and haven’t.

So, a small hope but little expectation. Given the Club’s assurance that they would carefully review my record, I did expect they would get my name right:

Dear Ray,
One great thing about Chapel Hill is that fact we have so many candidates with positive ideas about the environment and who have contributed to the community. Based upon the interviews, forum, voting records and other information we made our recomendation to the state Sierra Club. I’m glad to hear about your concerns about carrying capicity for Chapel Hill and hope you will continute to pursue them, however we decided to endorse other
candidates who had more experience. Thank you for spending time with us to share your ideas and thoughts and of
course, please keep on talking them up.
I was unable to post the forum. I am having copies made. If you contact me after Tuesday I can lend you a copy of the DVD.

Sincerely,
Loren Hintz

Voting records? I’ll have to wait for that opportunity. On every other 2005 Club expectation, I delivered.

As far as sharing my ideas and “talking them up” to promote a sustainable community that lives within the limits of its “carrying capacity” Loren, you can count on that.

Sincerely.

In keeping with their charter to “encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government” and “influence public policy through education and advocacy”, the the League of Women Voters of Orange-Durham-Chatham held a forum for Chapel Hill Town Council Oct. 1st. Also, in keeping with that charter, they provided me the raw footage so I could “webify” it for wider distribution.




The local Sierra Club, so far at least, has decided not to accept my offer of assistance. They plan to post their forum sometime soon. I’ll post a link when it goes live.

I was recently asked by a close observer of the local political scene what I thought of the power of incumbency.

I mentioned the rather obvious. Watching the incumbents appear at gatherings “bearing gifts”. The several months of the election cycle the incumbents appear, in their official capacity, regularly before the public reminding folks of “gifts” yet to be given. The near impossibility for new candidates, like Penny and Matt, to get a column inch (for me, merely difficult). The incumbents’ meanderings – part of the ongoing story – inserted freely.

That’s why Jim Ward’s complaint, that I ran over 19 seconds on one of my answers at the League of Women Voters forum this evening, seemed a trifling stingy. I didn’t mean to go over, Jim (heck, I even apologized) but you are an incumbent and already bring so many advantages of incumbency to the table! Why begrudge me a few extra seconds to try to complete my thought.

[flashvideo width=”320″ height=”240″ filename=”http://citizenwill.org/campaign/video/NineteenSecondsTooLong_320x240.flv” /]

Funny thing. Ater giving me a bit of “what for”, Jim spent 44 seconds, a full 14 seconds more than he was supposed to, just 5 seconds short of my trespass, answering the same question. Another advantage of incumbency – that moderators defer to already elected folk and will let them plow on – I learned of the hard way in 2005.

[flashvideo width=”320″ height=”240″ filename=”http://citizenwill.org/campaign/video/JimWardsComplaint_320x240.flv” /]

Thanks Matt for offering up your time.

And even though we have very few remaining opportunities to talk to the public during this election cycle, I’ll continue to practice brevity so I won’t have to take you up on your kind offer. Maybe by Nov. 6th I’ll be able to compress my message down to a length suitable for even the most discerning of the incumbents.

Last night there was an unfortunate and possibly gang-related incident at Rosemary Street’s Visions nightclub.

At approximately 1:00 a.m. this morning officers responded to a report of gun shots at Visions Night Club located at 136 E. Rosemary Street. Multiple shots were reportedly fired from a handgun by an unidentified black male suspect after a fight occurred inside. Six victims were treated for non-life threatening gunshot wounds at area hospitals. Some of the victims identified have known gang affiliations. Due to the low lighting and the confusion associated with the large crowd, the suspect exited the night club shortly after firing the shots.

Lt. Kevin Gunter, CHPD

I was relieved to hear no one suffered grave injury.

I was also struck by the timing – it was just one year ago that then Police Chief Jarvies issued this memo [PDF] enumerating the reasons for closing Avalon, a similar venue on Rosemary St. I work close to Avalon and saw the escalation of minor problems into what became the culminating event leading to its closure – the July 30th, 2006 fatal shooting of Kevdrian Swan.

This was not the first incident at Avalon or, as Chief Jarvies noted, 136 East Rosemary St., the then location of Player’s, the current location of Visions.

My first thought was: “What should we have learned from the Avalon mess? Why didn’t our Town do more to prevent another outbreak of violence?”

Chief Jarvies pointed out the Players had the second highest incidence of serious offenses. The plan was to meet with the owners of that club and try to prevent another Avalon type outcome.

Why, a year later, are we dealing at the same location with what could have been a worse tragedy? Couldn’t the Town intervene earlier? Why didn’t it?

Both citizens and the media report that problems – including violent behavior – had been escalating at Visions (and spilling over into the nearby neighborhoods). The pattern was established but the Town failed to act.

As a University town, night clubs are a act of life. The Town should be able to foresee, especially with the growing influence of gangs in the Triangle, that venues like Visions can attract a dangerous crowd. Why don’t we have a standard mechanism for working with club owners to forestall these issues? Why aren’t we monitoring these flash points?

As far as Visions, I’d like to hear more about the incident. The knee-jerk response is to call for its closure – to go into reactive mode – something our Council is quite adept at.

Since we apparently missed an opportunity to learn some lessons from Avalon, I’m asking Council to make an effort to learn from Visions. If these venues are going to be allowed to operate, we should damn well be proactive and be ready to clamp down when we see a pattern of problems developing.

I’ve supported the CHPD’s efforts to become more “gang savvy” (here’s what I said about funding on WCHL).
I called on Council to provide a little “helper” funding to help make the recent Governor’s Crime Commission grant a bit more effective (didn’t happen).

Whether I’m elected or not, I will be asking Council again to support adequate gang education for both our police force and our community. And, as I said one year ago, we need to do more than deploy officers Downtown. We need to re-balance our force to nip issues before they escalate.

That is why I’m encouraged by an objective our Town Manager set our new new police chief, Chief Curran, to “expand the community policing efforts of the department so that community policing becomes a belief system within our department”.

Finally, Office Gunter asks:

Anyone with information about the shooting, please call either the Chapel Hill Police Department at 968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 942-7515. Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and anonymous, and the caller may be eligible for a cash reward up to $1,200 for information that leads to arrest.

Forewarned, supposedly, is forearmed. We obviously missed a few lessons from the Avalon mess, hopefully we won’t miss the lessons of Visions.

[UPDATE:] Not 15 minutes went by before I got the chance to congratulate Chief Curran in person. He was making his rounds through the Northside neighborhood (I noticed him rolling around Town before – he doesn’t seem to be much of a desk jockey).

[ORIGINAL]

I’ve had an opportunity to meet Brian in a few different venues these last few months and my initial impression that he was a talented officer capable of leading our department through transitional times has only been strengthened.

When he was initially appointed to take Chief Jarvies position I did a little research and was impressed by the commitment he has shown our Town.

When Town Manager Roger Stancil cast a wide net seeking a new Chief, I was hoping that our own law enforcement folks would be considered fully. With the failure to secure Roger’s first choice (due to the candidate’s failure to pass a health exam), I was looking forward to a re-evaluation of our home team bench.

Today Roger announced the permanent appointment of Brian to Chief.

Concurrently, Roger set some specific goals that will keep Brian busy over the next couple years.

To: Mayor and Town Council
From: Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager
CC: Senior Management Team

Date: September 24, 2007

Subject: Appointment of Brian Curran as Police Chief

I am proud to appoint Brian Curran as the Chief of Police of the Town of Chapel Hill. This appointment is effective immediately.

Since April 1, 2006, when Chief Gregg Jarvies retired, Brian Curran has served as our Interim Chief. During that time, he has exhibited the qualities that our community said they wanted in a chief during a series of community focus groups. As I made my decision, I reviewed the notes of those focus groups carefully. The words they used describe the behaviors and characteristics I have seen in Brian: Fair, honest, well-rounded law enforcement experience, understanding Chapel Hill, experience with University relations, understanding of neighborhood needs and concerns, leads by example, decisive, team player, experience with managing large gatherings of people, ability to relate to everyone in the community, good manager, approachable.

Having seen those behaviors, I have decided Brian is the best person to lead our Police Department and become a part of the Town’s Senior Management Team as we work collaboratively to make Chapel Hill an even better place to live.

Brian has worked for the Town of Chapel Hill since 1982. He began work in the Parks and Recreation department. He then served as a non-sworn communications specialist with the Police Department before becoming a Public Safety Officer in 1987. He has served in various roles in the department that give him a broad view and an understanding of the department and the community. I have attached his resume for your information.

The process.

As stated above, I carefully reviewed the characteristics of a chief of police as stated by the various community, employee, management team and Town Council focus groups earlier this year. I also reviewed the matrix of leadership characteristics that evolved from those focus groups. I reviewed the remaining finalists in the original round of applications as well as the applications received since we readvertised the position in July. I assessed the behavior of Chief Curran since he became interim chief in April. I asked the interview panel from our assessment center, supplemented by other assessors, to interview him and provide feedback. Based on the behavior I observed in his interim role and the feedback from the interview panel, I determined that Brian has demonstrated the characteristics sought by our community and is the best person to lead our police department.

The charge.

I have charged Brian with the following goals:

  • Assess the department, involving our employees and the community to tell us what we are doing well and where we have opportunities for improvement.
  • Create a leadership development program for our officers and our non-sworn employees to develop our future leaders internally.
  • Take positive steps to create a diverse command and supervisory structure that represents the various cultural faces of Chapel Hill.
  • Expand the community policing efforts of the department so that community policing becomes a belief system within our department.
  • Take the lead in innovation and teamwork to find solutions to community issues.

I look forward to working with Chief Curran.

As so do I, Roger. I especially like the goals Roger has set our new chief. Community policing needs to be a reflexive ethic of our department. Developing AND RETAINING our young turks will serve the Town well over the next few decades. And working to encompass the diversity of our community should make our law enforcement officers task smoother.

Congratulations Chief Curran.

X-Posted from Will Raymond for Town Council 2007:

The local Orange-Chatham Sierra Club participates in the local election process two ways: endorsing candidates and sponsoring a forum.

Last Sunday, Chairman Bernadette Pelissier, Political Chair Loren Hintz and member Matthew Scheer interviewed me on behalf of the Sierra Club to determine if I qualified for an endorsement.

Questions spanned local zoning policy, a discussion of good and bad infill, personal commitment to environmental protection and Carolina North.

Folks that read CitizenWill already have a good idea about where I stand on many of these issues.

Surprisingly some issues, like local waste management, the trash transfer station and Rogers Road community’s complaints, our storm water utility policy or in-town open space preservation didn’t make the list. Of course, you can only fit so much into a 45 minute interview.

I appreciate these members taking the time to review my thoughts on Carolina North, zoning policy, pragmatic carbon reduction strategies, transit, etc. (I tried to cram way too much into my answers and digressions).

The Chapel Hill forum takes place next Tuesday, September 25th, 7-9pm at the Chapel Hill Town Hall. The event will be broadcast on our local public access channel.

In 2005 I did secure the local club’s enthusiastic endorsement. Here’s what they said two years ago:

Will Raymond has been one of the most outspoken and effective citizen activists in Chapel Hill in recent years. We look forward to him using his talents to advocate for the environment as a member of Town Council. In particular we are excited about his initiatives to promote energy efficiency in town buildings. He will also work to protect lesser known creeks in the Chapel Hill area and to minimize the number of single occupancy vehicles causing air pollution and traffic congestion at Carolina North.

We strongly encourage Sierra Club members and any residents of Chapel Hill who care about the environment to support these four candidates in the November 8th election. They are the best hope for a Town Council that will always make reducing environmental impact a top priority as Chapel Hill grows bigger.

We’ll know by mid-October if the work I’ve done since – on Carolina North, as a member of the Horace-William’s Citizen Committee sub-committee on environment, tracking and publicizing the landfill/transfer site problems on Rogers Road – will secure an endorsement in 2007.


Rev. Campbell

David Richter

Tracy Coleman

Jeff Kingman

Jeanne Stroud

Nancy Ignia

Sharon Cook

The Rogers-Eubanks Coalition to End Environmental Racism, a coalition of the

  • Chapel Hill -Carrboro Branch of the NAACP
  • Environmental Justice Network
  • West End Revitalization Association
  • Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom
  • Orange County Progressive Democrats
  • and members of UNC-CH Faculty, Students, and Staff

are calling for folks to turn out at the Thursday, Sept. 20th Joint Assembly of Governments Meeting, 7:30pm at the Southern Human Services Center [MAP]

Support the Residents of the Landfill Neighborhoods*

at the Joint Assembly of Governments Meeting (Orange Co., Hillsborough, Carrboro and Chapel Hill)

• No to the proposed transfer station
• Shut down the stinking landfills
• Safe water hookups
• Safe and cheap sewer services

Improve the quality of life for Landfill Neighborhoods.*

Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 7:30 p.m.
Southern Human Services Center
2501 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill

*The predominantly Black neighborhoods along Rogers Road and parts of Eubanks Road were seen as politically impotent to stop the placement of stinking landfills and other waste products of the more powerful white residents in the recent past. This is called Environmental Racism.

For more information: camko@bellsouth.net

What issues does the Rogers Road community want addressed?

Here’s a quick overview from some of my posts covering our neighbors continuing plight:

Hat tip to OrangePolitics.

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