Richly Deserved: Czajkowski and Rich Get The Daily Tar Heel Endorsement

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what the DTH had to say about Penny:
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Indy Endorsement: Letter to Editor Strom

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are many more statements of support here.

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

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

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

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

Election 2007: IndyWeek Endorsement,Booker Creek and the Incumbents

Friday, October 26th, 2007

X-posted from my campaign website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The resource conservation district was established by Chapel Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golf and Politics

Monday, October 15th, 2007

I play golf.

Yes, I once regularly played – pretty darn well – a game once generally synonymous with elitism, bigotry and wealth.

My father is a great golfer. Coming from a blue collar family,his opportunity to hone his skills came when he picked up a second job caddying clubs for the Akron country club folks. He worked making tires during the week, went to school at night and, between client’s rounds, took advantage of his new job’s major perk – free golf on great courses.

Caddying, for the uninitiated, involves hauling a set of heavy clubs around the course on behalf of the player. A good caddy does more than ferry woods and irons – often playing the role of coach, lookout, scout and adjunct conscience.

My Dad was a great golf mentor.

I first picked up a club when I was five years-old, though it was until I was almost seven that I began to play on an actual golf course. Well, “course” is a bit of a stretch. It was nine-holes strategically allocated on a few acres of unusable Oklahoma farm land not far from home. The fairways were permanently hardened, the one creek regularly mosquito ridden, the hazards ranging from the traditional sand traps to timber rattlers coiled tightly round a green’s flag.

Incredibly, the adults generally courteously accommodated struggling kid golfers.

For the next 4 years I played hundreds of rounds. From any location could pick the best club. Knew every hole like the back of my hand.

I also learned quite a bit about human nature.

Folks are usually surprised when I tell them I can golf. Fairly often, once the cognitive dissonance settles, I’m asked why business folks congregate on the courses. There are a lot of obvious reasons: getting out of the office for hours, bonding with your new golfing buddies, drinking (few sports, beyond bowling, allow that!).

But the best reason, at least the one I think the most canny of business folks innately understand, is that golf is a great judge of character.

Do they shave their strokes? Do they adjust their lie (the ball’s position) when no one is looking? Do they pitch their clubs into a pond if they play poorly on a few holes?

Are they humble in victory? Are they gracious in defeat? How desperate are they to win?

As a candidate for office two times running, I’ve discovered that politics is like golf.

How a candidate acquits themselves on the political playing field says quite a bit about their character.

In 2005, I learned that an incumbent can be so desperate to win they’d shave their record and adjust voter perception with misleading signs. What kind of desperation leads to that level of behavior?

I’m not desperate for the Council job.

I’m running because I have a perspective on fiscal responsibility, public accountability, diversity and open governance that is at odds with those of the incumbents. I’m prepared for Town Council but not preparing to be Mayor or Board of Commissioner or State Senator or any of the other offices that Council membership is used as a stepping stone for.

I want the job but I don’t need the job to fulfill my life or some other ambition.

I’ve had an enjoyable opportunity observing the other non-incumbent candidates – Matt Czajkowski and Penny Rich – play the Chapel Hill political course. I don’t believe they’re motivated by some hole in their life or their schedule.

Desperation is a strange creature.

Most of the incumbents I’m running against, at least at the beginning of this years race, claimed they didn’t want to exacerbate the campaign money problem, yet their actions belie their statements.

I’ve had Cam Hill suggest I’m a Republican though he knows quite well that I’m not (and have invested many years of sweat equity helping the Dems with GOTV efforts, poll sitting, literature distribution).

I’ve had Bill Strom characterizing informed dissent as “tossing bricks through windows” – a dismissive statement implying indiscriminate criticism. He well knows that the criticism that Penny and I have leveled at his actions comes from careful research, deliberative thought backed by our broad and successful experience.

Maybe the worst of the desperate criticisms comes from the incumbents shepherd – Kevin Foy. The incumbent Mayor, responding to criticism of the Council’s handling of the Rogers Road mess – trying to protect his incumbent friends – suggested Matt’s proffered recourse was illegal. Illegal? Desperate.

Incumbency is an awesome advantage. Chapel Hill, for all its growth, is a small town. What is said behind the scenes – whether its characterizing your Council colleagues less than charitably or mis-characterizing the current round of challengers – has a way of leaking out.

If you toss the golf ball out of the woods to avoid a penalty stroke, you might – on your paper scorecard – win the match. But how desperate must one be to be satisfied with such a hollow victory?

Are you honest or do you shave strokes? How do you behave when you think no one is listening? How desperate are you to win?

Politics is like golf.

Chapel Hill News: My Mistake, Not Theirs

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Hey folks. I’ve had a number of supporters contact me about the omission of my comments on Downtown in Sunday’s Chapel Hill News.

It was completely my fault.

Even though I was prepared, I submitted my answers too late for inclusion in the print edition. I did post the answers several days ago here (Chapel Hill News questionnaire).

Unlike the incumbents at the recent WCHL forum, I’m well aware of the mistakes I’ve made in my activism and campaigning over the years. As a Council member, I won’t downplay my responsibility for errors in policy. And, if elected, you won’t have to wait four years to hear me grope around trying to recall where I went astray.

Folks, I’ll make mistakes.

Unlike some of the incumbents, though, I’ll promise to work with our talented community to correct them instead of trying to dodge culpability.

Thanks for your concern.

Election 2007: Chapel Hill News Candidate Questionnaire

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

Here’s my answers to the Chapel Hill News candidate questionnaire. If the answers seem a bit terse, it’s because brevity was required.

POLITICAL PARTY AND EXPERIENCE:

  • 2005 Candidate for Town Council
  • Town Advisory Boards: Horace-William’s Citizen Comm., Downtown Parking Task Force, Technology Board
  • Other: Community Independent Expansion Comm. , Friends of Lincoln Arts Center

While I’ve collaborated with the Orange County Democratic Party for many years on GOTV efforts, been a poll sitter, literature distributor and have supported local Democrats, usually with sweat equity, in their runs, I am an
independent voter.

Until the party realistically deals with state mandated torture, the two on-going wars, the shredding of the Constitution and begins to address key domestic issues such as health care and the increasing split between segments of our citizenry, I will remain unaffiliated.


CIVIC ACTIVITIES AND OTHER AFFILIATIONS:

– Member of Electronic Frontier Foundation

WHY SHOULD YOU BE ELECTED?

Chapel Hill is at a crossroads.

Do we want a diverse community that honors the contributions of our eldest residents, where young couples and working folks can get their foot in the door or is Chapel Hill reserved for those buying publicly underwritten million-dollar condos?

Good intentions have to be backed by sound fiscal policy and real public accountability.

Borrowing millions from the rainy day fund, engaging in a risky Downtown project whose cost has escalated $500,000 to $8.5 million, when our debt payment is tripling is not responsible.

I will work to return Chapel Hill’s sound foundation so all of us can flourish.

1) Please describe your vision for downtown Chapel Hill and assess the council’s current approach to revitalization.

We need to build on the uniqueness of our Downtown by preserving and improving its human-scale charm.

Let’s invest in simple, cost effective, traditional amenities over risky, costly investments with poorly understood and unmeasured returns.

Let’s start with a family friendly pocket park, decent bathrooms, a water fountain and repaired sidewalks. Simple “you are here” directories to assist visitors in finding public and commercial services would make Downtown more inviting.

Let’s take up the low and no-cost Downtown parking improvements the Downtown Parking Task force suggested instead of raising parking rates as Hill and Foy argued for.

The current revitalization effort is open-ended, too expensive – rising from $500K to $8.5M in one year with no end in sight – and puts all our development “eggs” in one basket. The incumbents have resisted efforts to set measurable goals and make timely reports of successes or failures.

If possible, we need to restart the process using measurable goals, an appropriate and fiscally sound commitment of public resources and an approach that doesn’t risk all for an unknown return.

2) Please describe your vision for Carolina North, noting any disagreements with the university’s announced plans.

For many years I have called on UNC to use its incredible research savvy to build a world-class campus pioneering the best in “green” technologies.

To conform to that vision, UNC had to design a campus that was transit-oriented, partially housed its workforce and worked within some serious self-imposed constraints – few parking spaces, a defined energy budget, minimum footprint, cohesive infrastructure, monitored off-site noise, water, air, light impacts.

To achieve these goals, UNC must build within an established master plan.

Further, building upon the successes of the University’s Carolina North Leadership Advisory Committee (LAC), I suggested we work to create a new, sustained framework for further dialog and negotiation. That framework should incorporate the diverse interests of our community within an open, transparent process to work through the next 15 years of issues.

Doing incremental build-outs, like the recently proposed Innovation Center, without a master plan or a framework for further discussion is untenable.

3) How would you respond to persistent complaints about panhandling?

As the only candidate who works Downtown, I’ve experienced the problems first-hand.

I’ve also seen a troubling shift in our community’s attitude – troublemakers all, seems one current perception. Worse, for a few citizens, the face of that population is always a minority one.

My observation? Aggressive panhandling has taken a backseat to the loutish, aggressive behavior. Concrete steps – focusing on those bad behaviors, policing the worst offenders – should come first. Structural changes – moving benches, increasing police presence in a few places, better lighting – should reduce this sometimes frightening Downtown backdrop.

Practical approaches like “Real Change from Spare Change”, will soon shift the economics of begging – reducing panhandlers’ revenue – while bolstering our other efforts to help the homeless.

Finally, the majority of the folks hanging out Downtown are not causing problems. Some are odd but harmless. Our Downtown policy must be focused, goals-oriented – not broadly punitive if we are to succeed.

Election 2007: On Environment, Early to the Carolina North Party

Sunday, October 7th, 2007

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.

Election 2007: League Of Women Voters Forum

Monday, October 1st, 2007

A big thank you to the local chapter of the League of Women Voters for an excellent forum this evening. Vicki Boyer, who occasionally posts on OrangePolitics kept the show moving along with a variety of audience questions.

Unlike the Sierra Club forum, the environmental and social justice issues surrounding our neighbors out on Rogers Road (of which I have spoken about numerous times) got a fairly decent airing. The $8 million Downtown Development boondoggle merited one round.

The forum’s format, a round of answers with some opportunity for give-and-take, suited tonight’s questions. I hope the public and the local media take some time to mull over our responses.

There were a few surprises from the non-incumbents: Kevin Wolff bringing up voter-owned elections, Penny Rich suggesting punishing Downtown landlords who wouldn’t fill their storefronts, Matt Czajkowski’s excellent point that Chapel Hill has become introverted.

Of course, the incumbents tried to take credit for all the successes over the last four years while trying to dodge any responsibility or account for any of the mistakes.

Some of the successes – hiring an economic development officer, developing a strategic economic development plan, the Town’s new fiber network – were issues I brought forward first.

As far as surprises from the incumbents, I appreciated Mayor Foy’s complementary observation that I have an eye for efficiency.

Jim Ward’s bit of criticism (Incumbency Is Not Enough or Nineteen Seconds Is Too Long) about the 19 seconds I went over my time on one response provided some humor.

And Cam Hill, one of the negotiators on Lot #5, quoting a citizen outlay about $1 million short of the actual figure (CHN). I’ve been up since 6am and can understand a fumble –
hope fatigue explains his sloppy accounting.

The League graciously allowed me to assist them in posting tonight’s video on the web.

I’m preparing for upload now and expect the full video to be available by tomorrow evening (I’ll post a new article when it’s done).

Oh, and the Sierra Club has since declined my offer to post their forum on the Internet. They plan to do it themselves. I’ll keep an eye on their progress and will announce its availability.

Election 2007: Recycle, Reuse

Monday, September 24th, 2007

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 citizenwill.org ).

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.

Election 2007: Sierra Club Interview

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

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.

Election 2007: The Chamber’s Yes, No and Unsure Questionnaire

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

X-Posted from my 2007 Campaign web site.

Even though the Chamber made it clear that extended replies where not welcomed in the 2007 questionnaire ( Election 2007: The Chamber’s Yes, No, Unsure – Again!), I took the opportunity to answer each of their questions beyond the constraints of “yes, no, unsure”.

The questions are broad, open to interpretation and, on occasion, leading. How would you answer the Chamber’s questions?

In case the Director omits my business background, as he did in 2005, I worked for Northern Telecom for many years, winning a couple President’s Awards and a Chairman’s Award for Innovation (the first IT person to do so). I have been a CIO/CTO of a couple successful startups, including Reged.com which sold to FiServ for millions. As an entrepreneur I was part of the crew that guided those companies to multi-million dollar revenues. I currently work for Tibco, an enterprise application integration company, specializing in XML technology and distributed Java application architectures.

Here is the questionnaire and my extended answers. You’ll note I wasn’t unsure at all:

4. Is increasing the commercial tax base in Chapel Hill an important priority for you?

YES

Even before my run for office in 2005 I was agitating for a Economic Development Officer to help develop strategic and tactical approaches to increasing our commercial tax base. Council finally hired an officer, now we need leadership with business acumen to make the best use of his services.

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The Climate Heats Up AND The Mayor Has A Website?

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Was looking for some information on October 4th’s National Conversation on Climate Action when I stumbled upon what appears to be the Mayor’s own, new website: www.chapelhillmayorsoffice.com.

A quick Google of “www.chapelhillmayorsoffice.com” only turned up the site itself and this reference from today’s Herald-Sun:

CHAPEL HILL — The town will be part of the National Conversation on Climate Action, and will host an event at the Chapel Hill Public Library on Oct. 4 to discuss the science of climate change and what can be done locally to deal with global warming.

Chapel Hill joins local government leaders from across the country in hosting an event, which will be part education and part interactive community-wide discussion.

For more information on the National Conversation on Climate Action, including a current list of participating cities, go to www.climateconversation.org. For more information about the Chapel Hill event, go to www.chapelhillmayorsoffice.com/climatechange.html.

“I’m glad we have this opportunity to talk about climate change, and I hope this event helps citizens learn about local efforts to address global warming. The Town Council wants people in our community to think and work together on this issue, which is important both nationally and locally,” said Mayor Kevin Foy.

The network registration record indicates the domain was secured 2007-08-10 10:38:58 and registered as a DOT.COM. The first content appeared Aug. 29th, 2007.

I’m dropping an email to the Town Manager to see if this site is owned and maintained by our Town and, if not, does he know who does?

‘Blogs and websites are de rigeur of current campaigns, if this part of a Mayor Foy’s campaign or associated with the local Chamber of Commerce it might explain the .COM.

Hopefully this is the beginning of a more interactive conversation between our Mayor, whomever that is, and the public – an event to celebrate.

More information when I get it….

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CitizenWill is Certifiable

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

As some of the more “critical” of you readers have noted elsewhere, CitizenWill is certifiable – and here’s the proof.



I zipped down yesterday to Raleigh for the 2 hour campaign treasurer training session to comply with the new NC election statutes. Though I’ve been filing reports since 2005, and a lot of the material was old hat, the session, held at the tucked away State Board of Elections (SBOE) was still interesting.

Here’s a few observations.

Of the 24 folks attending, PACs and candidates were equally represented. I sat next to Linda Stevens treasurer. Time-Warner’s PAC was there. Some very spiffy dressed folks – election newbies – helping run Rocky Mount’s mayoral and sheriff elections attended.

Only one other candidate, former or otherwise, came – a man running for Zebulon council and his wife. He said that election campaign rules were being prolifically broken in Zebulon.

As a side note, Mike Nelson told me I was foolish to be my own treasurer – which, given all the “complex” contributions he received in 2006 😉 – I can appreciate. He also said he didn’t review the reports, something I think is a bit foolish. Mike’s pushing for some reforms at the county level – non-partisan elections, unfortunately, is not one of them.

A long lead up to mentioning that the training I received will be online and available in May.

I suggest every candidate – even those like Mike with the luxury of a campaign treasurers – go through the self-paced tutorial. In the end, the buck stops with the candidate.

Some confusion was introduced by the SBOE this year as the reports are now based on an election cycle – which starts the day after the election – instead of current method, which tracks the years. The gap between Nov. 8th to Dec 31st has to be handled differently. Several PAC folks whinged on about the delta.

In the toothless election law reforms department, county party executive committees can give unlimited funds and receive unlimited funds. Chapel Hill municipal elections are non-partisan (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) so this wide open avenue to funding doesn’t pertain but what a major gap.

Also in the toothless vein, folks can give $50 per day in cash up to $4000. Why toothless? Cash is fungible and hard to track – like a check. Bundling contributions appears to be a problem.

Business contributions, which are illegal, continue to be an issue.

Lots of time spent talking about in-kind from folks who are self-employed – are they acting as an individual or a business? For those folks, if you receive a check on their business letterhead, a “business statement” must be filed by the campaign asserting that the individual commingles personal/business funds and only has a single account for everything…

Using administrative staff or even your business phone for campaign activities is verbotten.

The trainer underlined that contributions from out-of-state require all info be reported (too bad the same couldn’t be said for out-of-county).

That said, records of all contributions must contain complete info though complete reports are only necessary if the aggregate contributions are over $50.

In-kind contributions require a receipt – including candidate in-kinds. Receipts are not reported.

Another common mistake: loan proceeds plus contributions from an individual cannot exceed $4000 per individual unless one of the excepted groups – (candidate, spouse, party committee). My total campaign was a little more than $3300…

Any amount of postage can be paid in cash.

Expenditures. Vendor expenses must be itemized. I’ve seen local reports that didn’t itemize.

Designation of Committee Funds form needs to be filled out to dictate
the fund transfer if you should die/etc. Leaving funds to a 501c3 allowed.

NCS: 163-278.16B “Use of contributions for certain purposes.” [PDF] was the biggy.

(a) A candidate or candidate campaign committee may use contributions only for the following purposes:
(1) Expenditures resulting from the campaign for public office by the candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.
(2) Expenditures resulting from holding public office.
(3) Contributions to an organization described in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. § 170(c)), provided that the candidate or the candidate’s spouse, children, parents, brothers, or sisters are not employed by the organization.
(4) Contributions to a national, State, or district or county committee of a political party or a caucus of the political party.
(5) Contributions to another candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.
(6) To return all or a portion of a contribution to the contributor.
(7) Payment of any penalties against the candidate or candidate’s campaign committee for violation of this Article imposed by a board of elections or a court of competent jurisdiction.
(8) Payment to the Escheat Fund established by Chapter 116B of the General Statutes.
(b) As used in this section, the term “candidate campaign committee” means the same as in G.S. 163-278.38Z(3).
(c) Contributions made to a candidate or candidate campaign committee do not become a part of the personal estate of the individual candidate. A candidate or the candidate who directs the candidate campaign committee may file with the board a written designation of those funds that directs to which of the permitted uses in subsection (a) of this section they shall be paid in the event of the death or incapacity of the candidate. After the payment of permitted outstanding debts of the account, the candidate’s filed written designation shall control. If the candidate files no such written designation, the funds after payment of permitted outstanding debts shall be distributed in accordance with subdivision (a)(8) of this section. (2006-161, s. 1.)

The update of this statute was prompted by the Speaker Black debacle.

Interesting point raised on the fashion front. Under the new regulations a candidate can’t purchase a new suit to campaign in and pay for it with campaign funds. Since the suit has a lifetime beyond the campaign, it’s considered a personal expenditure.

Websites and email are not addressed in media regulations. Personal website can be used for campaign purposes without a disclaimer if no new costs associated otherwise it might possibly be considered an in-kind. The law is silent on “new media”.

Another major problem (that the crew over at BlueNC are well aware of), independent media buys with a “Not Authorized by…” can be bought in unlimited amounts. That is, if someone, like Anglico’s Puppetmaster, wants to purchase unlimited media for a candidate and states “This ad is not authorized by my toady to be…”, then it’s alright.

I was astonished by this loophole and had the trainer clarify my understanding. Amazing!

Printed disclosures no less than 12pts, for newspaper 28pts. I threw one of the SBOE staff a curve when I pointed out that different fonts have different sizes at 12 pts.

Interestingly , in television, if you mention opposition candidate the candidate must speak the disclaimer. Not sure about radio.

youTube is not covered.

Over and over, the SBOE emphasized yo need to keep records of every contribution no matter how small. And look for edge cases. Example – sell $20 t-shirt + $30 contribution, you trigger the $50 reporting limit.

Any committee can use the SBOE’s software for managing reports.

That’s about it. I’m now a qualified campaign treasurer for the next 4 years.

If anyone needs a hand forming their committee, I’ll be happy to help: campaign AT willraymond.org

Downtown Development Intiative: Thank you Sir, May I Have Another?

Monday, February 12th, 2007

I missed the exact vote but the Council has not only authorized the Lot #5 development but put it on a fast-track.

Talk about compounding a mistake. What’s clear, especially after this evening, is the bulk of Council does not comprehend the consequences of their decision. From my understanding, the SUP (special use permit) gives the Council little leverage to modify building requirements peripheral to the issues specified in the SUP.

To wit, any leverage to mitigate the hazardous waste liability, to make the %20 ASHRAE and AIA 2030 energy goals requirements, is gone.

Below is the liability language Laurin Easthom and Jim Ward referred to:

3.5 Town’s Obligation to Remediate.

In the event that any Hazardous Substance is found on Lot 5, the Town shall be responsible for adopting a remediation plan reasonably acceptable to Developer and the Town’s environmental engineer to remediate such Hazardous Substances in accordance with Environmental Laws. The parties agree that any remediation required will be undertaken by the Developer on behalf of the Town and the Town will reimburse the Developer for the actual cost thereof or, at Developer’s option, the Town will pay such cost on a direct basis, it being agreed that the Developer has no obligation to fund on an advanced basis the Town’s Remediation Cost. For purposes hereof the actual cost of the remediation shall be the incremental increase in construction costs directly relating to any required remediation (the “Town’s Remediation Cost.”) For example, in the event that the soil on Lot 5 is contaminated by a Hazardous Substance and must be removed, the cost of any excavation to remove the same shall not be treated as a remediation cost allocable to the Town if such excavation was otherwise required in connection with the construction of the Project.

However, if the soil excavated and removed must be treated under the remediation plan, then the cost of such treatment (but not the excavation) shall be borne by the Town. The Developer shall submit to the Town on a monthly basis the cost associated with any required remediation and the Town shall reimburse the Developer therefore, or pay such costs on a direct basis, within thirty (30) days of the receipt of an invoice.

Page 27, January Agreement

Prepare to bend over Chapel Hill.

Redistricting Referendum: Is Education Enough?

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

The League of Women Voters has asked me to speak at two forums in the coming weeks as “the opponent” to this referendum (because of my Sept. 2006 Chapel Hill News column “All Quiet on the Election Front”).

Moses Carey will argue for the referendum and I’m supposed to do 5 minutes on my opposition. Of course, I don’t have either the gravitas or the months of background Moses brings to this issue so it’ll be a bit of David and Goliath.

I’m trying to bend my schedule so I can make at least the first forum. More when I know.

Until then, here’s a press release (via Mark Peters and SqueezeThePulp) on the initial education efforts:

October 11, 2006

With upcoming discussions on the District Election Referendum, a web page has been created on the Orange County website to provide basic information. You may wish to consider this as a research source.

The page contains links to the following:
– Simplified wording of the issue
– Questions and Answers
– Maps
– Links to sample ballots (for the exact wording of the referendum)
– Information on educational sessions

The page can be found under “What’s New” from the main Orange County web page or the link below.

http://www.co.orange.nc.us/OCCLERKS/DistElectWeb.htm

This link will be updated as additional information arrives.

Within the next week, brochures with much of the same information will be distributed to many public locations.

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