Election 2007: Friends of Affordable Housing Questionnaire

Monday, October 15th, 2007

X-Posted from my campaign website.

I hadn’t heard of this organization prior to this election but they appear to have been active for the last 10 years.

Friends of Affordable Housing is a non-partisan Political Action Committee that has been active in selective elections within Orange County during the last 10 year. The organization was first organized to support the Orange ballot for Affordable Housing Bond Money. The committee has also periodically sent questionnaires to candidates running for Orange County Commissioner and Chapel Hill Town Council.

Core members of the committee felt the residents of Chapel Hill should have the opportunity to know the positions of the various candidates running in 2007 for Chapel Hill Town Council. The Committee felt the relocation of the IFC, the transition to more attached multi-story housing, the opportunity for more affordable housing in Carolina North, and the possibility of selective use of “payment in lieu” of affordable housing units were issues of significant concern for Chapel Hill residents. The committee members are all long standing residents of Chapel Hill. The four review committee members have extensive executive committee experience in non-profit boards including the IFC, Habitat for Humanity, Dispute Settlement Center, YMCA and various Orange County boards including the Commissioners Committee on Affordable Housing. Committee members have also consulted with staff members of several of the Affordable Housing providers.

The NC Board of Elections has informed us that Friends of Affordable Housing does not have to register as a formal PAC for the 2007 election because we will not be raising money to support a specific candidate or issue.

They weren’t active in the 2005 race even though there was a slew of known affordable housing related issues before the Council.

Dear Candidate:

As you know, initiatives to increase the stock of all types of affordable housing in Chapel Hill have been an election issue for many years. In order to give Chapel Hill residents a better understanding of your position on this critical subject, Friends of Affordable Housing has developed a 7-item questionnaire asking you to address some of the current issues.

A review committee of the Friends of Affordable Housing will review your responses and may endorse specific candidates prior to the November election. Your comments will also be made available to the general public.

Thank you for your cooperation; we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

The review committee: Natalie Ammarell, Rev. Richard Edens, Susan Harvin ,Richard Leber

They obviously understand that maintaining and expanding affordable housing opportunities will require even more attention of the new Council than the last two years.

Here are my answers to their questions.


Friends of Affordable Housing Questions for Chapel Hill Mayor and Town Council Candidates

1. Please describe your commitment to creation of affordable housing initiatives in Chapel Hill.

I’m dedicated to continuing our Town’s commitment to providing affordable housing in Chapel Hill.

We need to re-evaluate, though, our current initiatives, our capability to manage our affordable housing stock and to rebalance the types of housing we’re currently providing.

With that, we also need to adopt fiscal policy that helps folks keep the most affordable housing they have – their current homes. We’re already seeing a trend of long-term residents, after decades of contributing to our community, being “shown the door”.

Those just starting out, can’t even get their foot in the door without substantial incomes.

Finally, we need to make sure our Town’s growth policies align with our housing goals.

RAM Development, the Town’s private partner on the Lot #5 boondoggle, is proposing to replace the somewhat affordable apartments with hundreds of big-ticket condos. Developments that displace existing affordable housing stock, like Hillsborough 425, are part of Chapel Hill’s future.

We need to make sure, though, that we anticipate the consequences of those displacements.

2. Please give your opinion about the actions taken by Town Council in the last 4 years to increase the stock of affordable housing in Chapel Hill.

I commend the Council for their intent. I applaud their successes. But, we could’ve done better.

Too much in lieu money, not enough square footage. Necessary reform in managing our housing stock or being able to adapt to changing conditions left undone for too long. Opportunities like Roger Perry’s %30 offer at East 54 or Greenbridge’s Northside neighborhood in-fill proposal missed. Rebalancing the kind of housing we offer, not adequately addressed.


3. Given the current impasse with the County, what would you do as a Town Council member to proactively advance the effort to find a new site for the IFC Men’s Residential Facility?

a. Would you oppose locating the facility in certain parts of town (e.g., downtown; near Seymour Center)?

I would like to see the IFC split the food service and the shelter functions. As far as the Men’s Shelter, our Town – if a leadership vacuum exists at the county level – has a responsibility to manage this process. I believe the Town should work with the IFC, proactively, along four basic thrusts.

One, develop criteria that incorporates both the IFC’s requirements for just the shelter component and our Town’s goals for development, transit and neighborhood preservation.

Transit opportunities, accessibility to health and other social services are a few of the criteria I would suggest.

Two, once we have the mutually developed criteria, find the site that best suits our joint needs. Our community needs to be involved in both the development of relevant criteria and the selection of the site.

Locating on Homestead makes sense, especially over Eubanks or Millhouse but there might be better sites based on the decision matrix the IFC, other interested parties and the Town develops.

Three, our Town could provide some logistical support to the IFC in developing a task list to move the shelter.

The Chamber asked me if I’d support pulling the IFC’s lease on the existing shelter location. No way I did say that our Town should help develop a punch list of items with specific performance goals and a timeline to hold the IFC to – but taking a punitory tack is – in my estimation – a poor strategy.

Four, we need to bring our community into the process early, educate the public on the relevant issues and, proactively, publish a guide on how the Council will measure the success of this project. If Council affirms, as I believe we’ll be able to do, that the population at the Men’s Shelter will not increase criminal activity in surrounding neighborhoods, we should already be prepared to assess that activity and report back if reality matched our projections.

4. What new programs do you envision to increase the stock of affordable homes in Chapel Hill?

a. Do you think priority should be given to one type of affordable housing (e.g., transitional housing, special needs, rentals, small condo’s, larger owner occupied detached homes) over another?

We need to rebalance our housing stock based on a few criteria. First, what is the most diverse kind of stock we can reasonably manage using existing resources? Second, look at partnering on denser developments like Raleigh’s Carlton Place (I wrote about this development here: http://citizenwill.org/2007/03/21/raleighs-carlton-place-a-downtown-affordable-housing-commitment-worth-emulating/ ). Third, like Carlton Place, re-evaluate rental housing within our current mix.

b. What type of affordable housing should be built in Carolina North and on the Greene Tract?

I would like to see affordable housing developed on the Greene Tract that is akin to that of the Homestead Park neighborhoods. I would also like the housing to be on the eastern side of the tract to integrate into those neighborhoods, take advantage of existing and new amenities, be closer to existing transit, take advantage of new transit capabilities (depending on what happens at Carolina North) and avoid damaging some of the more ecologically sensitive areas.

The University has suggested that housing on Carolina North will be market driven. I would like to see a mix of units that parallels the stock that UNC commissions.


5. In the last year, Town Council has approved three mixed-use developments: 54 West, Greenbridge and Ram’s Lot 5. Under Chapel Hill’s Inclusionary housing policies these developments will generate almost 100 affordable one and two bedroom condo units. However, these units will not serve lower income families with children.

a. In your opinion, do current policies provide the types of affordable housing that are really needed? If not, what should be changed?

As you might be aware, I’ve been critical of the Town’s Lot #5 development for a number of reasons. The project is fiscally irresponsible, the original affordable housing stock was not family friendly, the affordable housing parking was off-site (second class citizens), the condo fees were steep and not capped, the condo units – especially the larger ones – will most probably server the student community, measurable energy efficiency and environmental standards were dropped, and on and on. You can read my web site – citizenwill.org – for a detailed discussion on these and other Lot #5 ills.

For all my criticism of the majority of the Council’s decision to take on this money pit, I am happy that Cam Hill did accept my recommendation to resize some of the affordable units to accommodate families. Will families find them inviting? I’m not sure.

Considering Lot #5’s location, I’m quite concerned that the Council never took my call to look at affordable living as well as affordable housing seriously. What is the cost of living in one of these units if you should be on the lowest economic rung of those that can purchase a unit? Will the economics of that location end up making this housing more transitional in nature than was originally anticipated?

The units at East54 strike me as being more family friendly. I was encouraged, at least until the Harris-Teeter moved, that a mix of services were within easy reach. I was discouraged though by the Landtrust’s assessment that these units would be transitional in nature. And, of course, continue to be concerned we couldn’t take advantage of the developers offer to build %30 affordable housing.

With Greenbridge, I believe our philosophy of integrative units, a good goal, interfered with an excellent opportunity to acquire more square footage. The rejection of the proposal to build family units within an existing adjacent neighborhood was disappointing. Our Town policy should be flexible enough to adapt to exceptional opportunities that don’t diverge greatly from our housing goals.

b. Can Chapel Hill’s Inclusionary housing policies be utilized to generate affordable rental housing? If you think so, please explain how such rental housing would be managed and maintained.

From my understanding, the existing inclusionary policies don’t align with encouraging development of rental housing. As the inclusionary zoning process continues, we need to make sure rental becomes more of an option.


6. Many affordable homes are “aging” and will require significant maintenance. Is it appropriate for public funds to be used for long-term maintenance? If so, what sources of funds should be used?

I’m interested in the proposal for a rotating loan fund to assist folks in maintaining their properties. This loan fund, if created, needs to come from monies outside the general fund. I would not support additional Town debt – via bonds or other mechanisms – to fund this loan program.


7. Do you think “payment in lieu” of affordable housing construction should be accepted from builders? If so, what guidelines should be used and how should these funds be used?

Over the last five years, my sense is the Council is accepting way too much in lieu monies over square footage. We’re asking developers to create housing. Housing built now will not only help relieve some of our current demand but also be cheaper than housing built 5, 10 , 20 years out.

If we ask for housing, we should get housing.

Delay is not our friend. Easy money also erodes are discipline. Square footage over in lieu money should be our guiding principle.

Morris Grove Elementary School

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

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.

Hail to Our New Chief: Brian Curran Takes the Helm

Monday, September 24th, 2007

[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.

Rogers Road Community’s Petition for Redress

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Kirk Ross posted Neloa Jone’s request for governmental redress (“the setting right of what is wrong”) over on the Carrboro Citizen’s ‘blog:

The Rogers-Eubanks “Coalition to End Environmental Racism” (CEER)

Background

For nearly one hundred and fifty years, African-American families have lived in what is now known as the Rogers-Eubanks Community. In the late 1800s, Rogers Road was a wagon-track through black-owned family farmland and sawmills that stretched from Homestead to Eubanks and Millhouse Roads. There was once a school on Eubanks Road, Morris Grove, founded by a former slave, for black children not allowed to attend school elsewhere. As decades passed, this land was passed down to children, to grandchildren, to great-grandchildren, and in some cases, to great-great grandchildren. Some land was lost to debt, some simply sold. However, African Americans continued migrating to this community; they purchased land and established homes. Today, this community is a predominantly low-income neighborhood, but it remains socially cohesive and culturally rich in spite of the solid waste facilities that have worked to destroy it.

In 1972, when the Town of Chapel Hill decided to use 120 acres of land on Eubanks Road for the first landfill—this was a thriving community, and it was strongly opposed to having a landfill near them. However, Mayor Howard Lee convinced this community to accept the landfill for ten years, promising that afterwards no other landfills would be opened near them and a park and other basic amenities would be provided when the landfill closed.

That was 35 years ago.

And inspite of the fact that Orange County prides itself on being aggressively opposed to social and environmental injustice, it has refused to honor decades of broken promises made to the Rogers-Eubanks Community. Local governments continue to expand solid waste facilities in this area: since 1972, two municipal solid waste landfills have been opened; two industrial waste landfills have been opened. We have yard and hazardous waste collection sites, recycling and garbage drop-off centers, a Materials Recovery landfill (MRF), and let’s not forget about that toxic, smelly leachate pond (1/3 of an acre) right next to Mrs. Gertrude Nunn’s property. The newest proposed addition to these ever-expanding solid waste facilities is the transfer station. And even though some people believe that closing the landfill and building a transfer station will improve conditions in the community, WE contend that it will not. Along with the transfer station, garbage collection trucks, and 18-wheelers we will still have the vermin, the stench, more air pollutants, and more noise. We will also have increased traffic that poses increased danger to our children and other citizens.

So our question tonight is this: why are low-income communities and communities where people of color live always the most vulnerable to solid waste facilities?

The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council has concluded that “WTS are sited disproportionately in areas adjacent to poor communities and communities of color.” The New York Times recently reported that “low-income communities . . . shelter most of America’s polluting facilities”; African Americans are “79 percent more likely than whites to live in areas where air-pollution levels pose health risks.” Professor Robert Bullard of Clark Atlanta University contends that “the people who live closest” to waste facilities are those “who have the fewest resources,” but that “doesn’t mean [they] should be dumped on.”

On March 3, 2006, the Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB) passed a resolution recommending that the transfer station be located on Eubanks Road. Why? Because Eubanks Road is convenient, because the County can put the transfer station here cheaply, because the County will be saved the hassle of having to search for another site, AND because there was a GOOD chance that THIS community that has been dumped on for 35 years would not object TOO LOUDLY. On March 27, 2007, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to accept this recommendation from SWAB to locate the transfer station on Eubanks Road.

What we are asking for tonight?

This community wants Orange County to stop dumping garbage and toxic waste in their backyard.

The Rogers-Eubanks “Coalition to End Environmental Racism” (CEER) supports this community in its demands for environmental justice. And these are our demands:

• We want you to eliminate immediately the Rogers-Eubanks Road Community as a site for the proposed solid waste transfer station.

• We want you to halt all solid waste activities in this community no later than November 2009.

• We want you to honor the promises made to this community over the past 35 years for having endured the negative impacts of having garbage dumped in our backyard.

• We want you to address quality of life issues immediately by providing this community with municipal water and sewer services and other community enhancements to ensure the health and safety of the residents.

All of us here tonight have a lot of work to do, and we are certain that having heard us tonight, you will do what’s right and bring environmental justice to the Rogers-Eubanks Community. Thank you.

Rogers Road Community: Honor the Promises!

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Speaking on behalf of her neighbors, Neloa Jones made an unprecedented plea to the Orange County Assembly of Governments to “honor the promises!”



Direct link to video.

I cannot do justice to Ms. Jones passionate eloquence in trying to condense her statements but if I was forced to summarize, I would simply say her and her neighbors are demanding deeds and not words.

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.

(more…)

Rogers Road Community: A Unified Front

Tuesday, September 18th, 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.

Election 2007: Update on Early Voting On The Move

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Following up on my post “Election 2007: Early Voting on the Move”, BOE Director Barry Garner responded with lightning speed to my request for further information:

Nothing has been decided yet however the Seymour Senior Center is an option. The board will meet on August 7, 2007 to discuss this. UNC has offered us the student union to hold one-stop early voting but my board was split on the decision at the last meeting. Since the last meeting, we have two new board members so I will have to present to options to them again.

I do not think I can justify the cost of having two sites in Chapel Hill for the municipal election. It is not our goal to undercut the GOTV efforts, however we must find a place that is accessible to all citizens of Orange County.

Due to our current voting equipment, we are unable to have super precincts. Our voting equipment PCMCIA cards can only hold 10 ballot styles and 10 precincts therefore we cannot hold super precincts until the technology is updated.

Encouraging news on the early voting front. A bit disappointing on the super-precinct issue.

Last year I went to Hillsborough to evaluate, from both the technical and “small d” democracy angles, the new models of voting equipment our county was thinking of buying (“May 2nd: Don’t Fear the Reaper, Get Out and Vote”).

I sketched out the composition of precincts in Chapel Hill/Carrboro to the salesman. Would their optical scan equipment would support a super-precinct covering those precincts? No problem, he said.

Maybe we needed to buy the super-deluxe package? In any case, I’ve offered to provide some rabble rousing to get the necessary funds to upgrade the equipment to support a super-precinct for UNC students. If you would like to join the “villagers with pitchforks”, here’s how to contact our local BOE:

Email Director of Elections Barry Garner here.

Or call or mail.

Board of Elections
110 E. King St
P.O. Box 220
Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278

Telephone: (919) 245-2350
Fax Number: 919-644-3318

Broadcast Localism: More Fun To Be Had…

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Chad Johnston just posted this over on OrangePolitics.org about this weekend’s Peoples Channel fundraiser (July 21st, Horace-William’s House, 6-8pm):

Hey folks,

Just wanted to give an update on this really cool event! Food and drink will be provided by:

  • Benjamin Vineyard, Anathoth Community Garden from Cedar Grove,
  • Cane Creek Farm Pork,
  • Yugela’s treats,
  • Matthew’s artisan chocolates,
  • Sari Sari Sweets,
  • The Farmer’s Daughter,
  • Curryblossom Creations (Vimala’s food) [Vimala’s food!!!! Absolutely delightful Indian].

Now if food wasn’t enough to entice you, check this out!

Local artist Tama Hochbaum will be present to talk about her work, “The Way I See Us: Family Portraits” currently hanging in the Horace Williams house.

AND, Alan Toda-Ambaras will be playing cello…if you don’t know Alan, you’re in for a surprise! Here’s a bit from his bio:

“Alan’s performances have gained enthusiastic reviews. In Paris, he “touched the public and the jury” (musique.france2.fr). The Washington Post noted that Alan “has the poise of a seasoned performer” and “showed off his strengths convincingly in the demanding repertoire.” And another critic declared that Alan’s playing “proved remarkable by any standard. . . . Toda-Ambaras is worth seeking out and hearing.”

And I might add, he’s only 16!

So come on…eat some great food, drink some wonderful wine, and support local media and arts!

Hope to see you there!

Chad Johnston
The Peoples Channel

For directions and more information, look at my Friday the 13th post “Broadcasting Localism: A Peoples Channel Fundraiser”.

Cindy Sheehan: This is NOT a Rally

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

[UPDATE:] More from the CarrboroCitizen.

[UPDATEx2:] Some photos of the event..

Peggy Misch wants to make sure everyone knows, in spite of what the local press says, there is no Sheehan rally at Carr Mill Mall. Just a simple lunch with Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and some folks from GRIM ( Grassroots Impeachment Movement).

It appears Cindy is interested in lending her weight to the movement to boot Bush out of office.

The original scuttle-butt suggested there would be a rally on the Weaver St. lawn, but fears of another backlash quashed those plans.

How sad that a visitor of Sheehan’s nature can’t stand under the broad branches of the sheltering trees of the Weave’s lawn to tell her story and make a call for action.

This is NOT a rally on the privately held Carr Mill parking lots.

Peggy Misch, not attending a protest rally.


Other non-protesters at a non-rally on Carr Mill’s private property.

Cindy Sheehan, welcome to Carrboro/Chapel Hill

Maybe there was no room under the tree? Whoops, doesn’t appear so…

Broadcasting Localism, a People’s Channel Fundraiser

Friday, July 13th, 2007

As many of you know, I have a particular interest in employing technology to boost our citizens’ voices cost-effectively and in ways not otherwise possible. I met a kindred spirit in the The Peoples Channel’s director Chad Johnston many years ago when we both started attending the Town’s now defunct Technology Advisory Board to encourage facilitating democracy from the grassroots level.

As our Town’s “ONLY public access channel”, the Peoples Channel is dedicated to an informed, involved electorate.

For a democratic society to function properly, citizens must participate in their government, be educated to think critically and be able to freely communicate their ideas.The Peoples Channel’s mission is to advance democratic ideals by ensuring that people have access to electronic media and by promoting effective communication through community uses of media. Through this mission, we aim to provide the means and promote the opportunity for area citizens to exercise free speech through media production, education and distribution of cable television programming.

Cost-effective doesn’t quite capture how hard Chad and his fellow citizen media producers have done to squeeze value from the small allocation of funds their organization receives. And I’d be hard challenged to identify another local activist that has worked as diligently as Chad to forestall corporate efforts (IndyWeek’s 2005 “Big cable wants public access denied”) at the State and Federal levels to strangle avenues of citizen discourse.

One example is the Orwellian-name “Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act” which the Technology Advisory board discussed in 2005 (side note: Whom, now that the Mayor and Council disbanded that group, within our local government is spear-heading that discussion?).

That is why I was pleased to see today’s announcement over on OrangePolitics of a joint celebration of localism and fund-raiser for the Peoples Channel.

Co-sponsored by both the Preservation Society and OrangePolitics, the July 21st event will bring folks together to “learn about the importance of keeping it local”.

When: July 21st, 6-8pm,
Where: Horace-Williams House [MAP] (parking available on-site or take an easy stroll from Downtown),
What: Fundraiser for the Peoples Channel and gathering to discuss “keeping it local”. $15 donation suggested.

The Power of Sorry

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

It’s been nearly a year since the General Assembly’s 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission released their 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Report.

Tonight, NPR’s Laura Leslie, over on Isaac Hunter’s Tavern reports:

State lawmakers made history today by unanimously (both chambers!) passing a resolution apologizing for their predecessors’ role in promulgating slavery in North Carolina.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle spent two and a half hours speaking in support of the apology…about their personal experiences with discrimination, about the bigger social issues at play in this apology, and about the hostile feedback they’ve received from some constituents who see the apology as a waste of time or worse.

House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman delivered a simple but jaw-dropping history lesson — three minutes on what the state should apologize for. You can hear it here.  It’s well worth the download time. 

One of the follow ups was from our eloquent North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber:

…repentance doesn’t mean much unless you’re willing to back it up. 

You can read the NAACP’s full reaction here.

One of the State’s more powerful media outlets, the News and Observer, began to experience the “power of sorry” more than a year ago when they started to unravel former editor Josephus Daniels complicity (“1898 riot designed to disfranchise blacks”) in Wilmington’s terrible tragedy.

The paper’s Nov. 17th, 2006 coverage,The Ghosts of 1898 ,helmed by Oxford native Tim Tyson ( “Blood Done Sign My Name”) extended the amends.

In a week with several reminders of how far we’ve yet to go, the legislature’s unanimous “mea culpa” for their predecessors’ actions (or inactions) is more than welcomed.

iRack

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Another back and forth between Orange County Democrats over the Iraq debacle, local Representative Price’s efforts to scale it back and the party’s local leadership communicating that effectively (OrangePolitics Art on Weaver and Nudge Price, No More War Funding).

On the cusp of Bush’s Iraq “surge” the moment has come for the Democratic Party, and our local Representative David Price (contact), to make a stand.

This far and no farther, if for no other reason than the selfish desire to preserve what shred of credibility remains with their party’s leadership.

As I noted, Iraq 2007 has been quite bloody for civilians as exemplified by these individual incidents:

  • 01/16/07 100 killed, 245 wounded
  • 01/22/07 75 killed, 160 wounded
  • 01/30/07 38 killed, 100 wounded
  • 02/01/07 60 killed, 150 wounded
  • 02/03/07 120 killed, 340 wounded
  • 02/12/07 90 killed, 190 wounded
  • 02/18/07 60 killed
  • 03/06/07 120 killed, 200 wounded

The coalition casualties continue to mount.

In Iraq:

There have been 3,451 coalition deaths — 3,193 Americans, two Australians, 134 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, six Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, one Hungarian, 32 Italians, one Kazakh, three Latvian, 19 Poles, two Romanians, five Salvadoran, four Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians — in the war in Iraq as of March 12, 2007, according to a CNN count.

CNN

In Afghanistan:

There have been 536 coalition deaths — 367 Americans, one Australian, 52 Britons, 45 Canadians, three Danes, three Dutch, nine French, 18 Germans, nine Italians, one Norwegian, one Portuguese, four Romanians, one South Korean, 20 Spaniards, two Swedes — in the war on terror as of March 12, 2007, according to a CNN count. Below are the names of the soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors whose deaths have been reported by their country’s governments. The troops died in support of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom or were part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

CNN

Compromised beyond reason, the vastly weakened Democrat-sponsored legislation creeps through Congress.

Pelosi also fielded criticism from lawmakers for removing language from the bill barring military action against Iran without congressional approval. She said the issue would be addressed in future legislation.

“We’re having folks expressing every doubt, every reservation, every aspiration they have for this bill,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., another supporter.

In a bid to broaden its appeal, leaders stripped the Iran requirement and omitted language favored by several liberal members that would have specifically prohibited funding of military operations after fall 2008.

While the liberals said this threat would help enforce the deadline, Democratic leaders viewed the politically charged language as unnecessary.

The measure provides nearly $100 billion for two wars, including more money than Bush had requested for operations in Afghanistan, and to address what Democrats called training and equipment shortages. House Republicans say they will work to sink the measure, and the White House threatens a veto.

USA Today

No withdrawal by 2008. No restrictions on an Iranian adventure. $100 billion for “readiness training and equipment” on top of the $540+ billion already ear-marked for 2007/2008 (this with the US already accounting for 48% of 2006’s total military spending).

Price should say “No deal”.

Trash Talk: Aarne Vesilind’s History

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

I mentioned this before, but on the cusp of tonight’s meeting I’d like to remind folks of Aarne Vesilind excellent overview in the Chapel Hill News (Feb. 21, 2007) of some of the history of the Eubanks landfill.

Before the early 1970s, Chapel Hill was using a small landfill owned by the university for the disposal of its solid waste. This landfill was rapidly running out of space and the university wanted to close it, so a search commenced for a new landfill site. The Town Council decided to buy a piece of land to the north of town for the new landfill.

Abutting this land was a vibrant black community, the Rogers Road neighborhood. They did not want the landfill so close to their homes and went to Mayor Howard Lee for help. The mayor talked them into accepting the decision and promised them that this would be the one and only landfill that would be located near their neighborhood, and if they could endure this affront for 10 years the finished landfill would be made into a neighborhood park.

Most importantly, they were told that the next solid waste landfill for Chapel Hill would be somewhere else and that their area would not become a permanent dumping site. The citizens of the Rogers Road neighborhood grudgingly accepted this deal and promise and then watched as the Orange County Regional Landfill was built near their community.

Although Lee acknowledged making this promise, this was never found on any written document. In addition, the people who lived in the Rogers Road neighborhood were told that the LSC was not bound by promises made by former elected officials.

The fact that the Greene tract was too small to afford a long-term solution continued to be a source of encouragement to the Rogers Road neighborhood, but late in the process and well after the public hearings, Eddie Mann introduced a new site, named OC-17. This site abutted the Greene tract and the Rogers Road neighborhood and included a large tract of land in Duke Forest. The LSC quickly approved OC-3 and OC-17 as the new landfill site and the decision went to the LOG for its approval.

The vote in the LOG was 6-3 in favor of the selected site. Two of the negative votes were by the representatives from Carrboro. Even though Carrboro ought to have had a clear, selfish motive for choosing this site, the two Carrboro representatives, Mayor Mike Nelson and Alderman Jacquelyn Gist, argued that the promise made by Howard Lee to the Rogers Road neighborhood should be kept.

He closes with this observation:

The question in front of the people in Orange County now is whether to continue along their path of least resistance and least cost and place yet another solid waste processing facility in the Rogers Road neighborhood, or to thank these people for all the years that they have had to endure the presence of the landfill in their community, and to tell them once and for all that they have indeed done their part.

Complete column here.

2035 Orange County’s Garbage Center of Gravity?

Friday, March 9th, 2007

I was struck by a conjunction between the following image from the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan Socio-Economic projections I mentioned earlier and the debate currently raging over siting a trash transfer station on Eubanks Road.

35 years ago the Orange County landfill currently blighting the Rogers Road community was sited close to Chapel Hill/Carrboro communities because they constituted the predominant source of garbage.

Now, with projections of dramatic population shifts 30 years hence, it seems like the center of gravity for Orange County’s trash production (creation?) is shifting North.

I did a quick review of the Orange County Board of Commissioners agenda items covering the Rogers Road issue and couldn’t find a discussion of a new “trash axis”.

Maybe those more mathematically inclined could weigh in on how to calculate this new centroid which, it would seem, help locate the most effective transfer site.

Potential site for transfer station at the Hwy 70/I-85 split (within the Eno Economic Development District):


Eno Economic
Development District

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