Election 2007: The Arrows in My Back ;-)!

Monday, November 5th, 2007

To all the folks that have sent me emails of support in the face of a dramatic surge in negative, personal attacks, I thank you.

It has been a strange election season.

I didn’t expect the Sierra Club or the IndyWeek to endorse me, for political or personal reasons. But I never expected the Indy to create a “red herring” or the Sierra Club to get my record – which was to support 5 of their environmental causes that the incumbents shot down – and my name wrong.

I knew that two local incumbents would go negative when one of their common advisors tipped his hand months before I even signed up – bullying me about how I planned to run – but I never expected the virulence or disingenuous of the latest attacks. Youch!

Again, thanks folks for trying to stem the tide.

Part of this negativity, I’ve come to believe, goes beyond mean-spirited politics to political strategy. There must be a fear that votes for Raymond will lead to the election of Penny Rich – at least that appears to be part of the calculus.

Maybe they’re right – maybe you should vote for me AND Penny if you want Penny ;-).

I hope the voters realize that the challengers – Penny, Matt and I – are the only candidates this year that engaged in substantive discussions of the issues before our Town.

I hope the voters recognize I’ve been trying to take the opportunity of this election to engage and educate the wider public on key problems facing our community.

And I hope they understand that personal attacks, character assassination, trying to diminish a candidates public service, is not just a sign of desperation but also an indicator of the sponsoring person’s fitness to lead.

That said, I’m at a bit of loss at what to do. I’m going to stick with my original plan, which was focus on the issues before us, to work to promote positive strategies to improve our community and to ignore issues lacking substance.

What about the arrows sticking in my back?

I’m a big guy, passionate about my causes, have tried to do what’s best by the community – and that helps take the sting out but I am saddened that instead of engaging in an open discussion of policy a few of the incumbent candidates feel going negative is their best strategy.

What a wasted opportunity! For now, I forge on with my portfolio of issues and solutions – campaigning straight through until 7:30pm tomorrow.

The citizens of Chapel Hill deserve no less.

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: Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

This year the NRG decided to vet the candidates via email. In 2005 they held interviews and presented the audio responses. Trying to be thorough, I went a bit overboard this year. Figuring no one would want to wade through 10 pages of answers, I tried to boil down this final response to the NRG.

In its Comprehensive Plan, Chapel Hill is committed both to denser urban development and to protection of existing neighborhoods. Do you see any conflict between these goals and what do you feel is the best way to achieve them?

There are trade-offs, thus conflicts between the goals of high density and neighborhood protection.

To start, in any discussion of density we need to establish the limits of growth. I’ve been using the concept of “carrying capacity” as a guide.

Carrying capacity is a multi-dimensional evaluation of an ecosystems ability to maintain a particular population. In biology, this usually means water, food and habitat. In Town, we need to add, for instance, the ability for to maintain a diverse and healthy socio-economic balance within our community. We all can’t live in million dollar condos or pay an extra couple hundred bucks in taxes each year.

We don’t currently assess density to that level of detail. I believe we should at least start thinking within those terms as it will help us create a more sustainable outcome.

Another general problem with our comprehensive plan is that our process for upgrading our goals as our understanding improves is broken.

We need to implement a continuous review process, as suggested by the former chair of the Planning Board, to review our goals in light of achievements to-date, successes and failures. Not only do we need to be more nimble in managing our Town’s comprehensive plan, we need to be much more inclusive in drawing upon our community’s expertise.

Three recent omissions in our planning process provide examples of where we need to improve.

(more…)

Election 2007: Chapel Hill Sierra Club Forum

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Here’s the Chapel Hill Sierra Club forum. I’ll be adding some commentary about clear contrasts in environmental policy between the incumbents and the non-incumbents, how we should “walk the talk” on environmental protections – making both large and incremental improvements in our Town’s commitment, and how current policy sets goals the Council never plans to revisit (I guess that’s politics – which explains why I’m just not a political creature).

Election 2007: Carrboro’s League of Women Voters Forum

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

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

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



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: 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…)

NC Senate Race: And Then There Were Three…

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

As reported on the Chapel Hill News ‘blog OrangeChat, a new candidate, Carrboro Alderman John Herrera, has joined the field to replace State Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (whom hasn’t announced she isn’t running yet…).

Herrera joins former Carrboro Mayor/current Orange County Commissioner Mike Nelson and OC Commissioner Moses Carey in the race. The race essentially will be decided in May by the Democratic Primary (unless it gets moved sooner) which might explain the head start they’re all making.

Each candidate will be bringing their own unique baggage to the party so it should be interesting to see how the political jockeying will play out.

Election 2007: Keeping it Simple

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Preserving Chapel Hill’s Charm because Our Past Informs Our Future

  • Community
  • Diversity
  • Open Governance
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Public Accountability

These are some of the core values that drive my local activism.

These were core values of my 2005 campaign.

They are core values for 2007.

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

Election 2007: Early Voting On The Move

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Orange County Commissioner Mike Nelson reports that:

I have just been told that the Director of the Orange County Board of Elections is recommending that the one-stop, early voting site in Chapel Hill be moved from UNC to the Senior Center.

I’ll be checking into this. If true, this decision needs to be revisited. In the recent past, the UNC site has been extraordinarily popular with students, staff and folks who live and work near downtown Chapel Hill. It would be a real shame to make it harder for these folks to vote.

Mike, it would be more than a shame.

Since the early ’90’s I’ve concentrated my Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts on campus and the student population (not always so successful as evidenced by the municipal turnouts in ’99, ’01, ’03, ’05). The Morehead Planetarium has been a great location servicing not only the student community but folks working/living on and around campus.

The polling location at Morehead won’t be available due to construction but surely the Board of Elections and UNC can work out an alternative – maybe the lobby of UNC’s Memorial Hall? Besides being centrally located, like Morehead Planetarium, most everyone knows where Memorial Hall is located, some parking is available and folks working Downtown will still have easy access.

If not Memorial Hall, maybe the Student Center, the dining hall or some other public and well-trafficked area.

Unfortunately, the campus super-precinct I’ve long lobbied for will not be available this year either. Another shame it seems as if the bulk of my pre-election GOTV effort goes into identifying which of many precincts a person has to vote at…

The Elections Board

  • Billie J. Cox – Chair
  • Henry (Hank) Elkins, Jr. – Secretary
  • John J. Felten – Member

will be meeting next Tuesday, 4pm 4:00 pm at the board of election office 110 E. King Street in Hillsborough [MAP]
if you would like to personally weigh in.

You can contact Director of Elections Barry Garner here.

Or call or mail.

BOE contact information:

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

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

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Election 2007: Why I’m Running For Council

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Two years ago I ran for Town Council on a platform emphasizing innovation, creativity, responsibility and community involvement ( Campaign 2005 ). In the two years since, I’ve continued to participate in local affairs – praising the good and working to prevent the bad in process and policy.

But today’s campaign platform, like that of two years ago, isn’t built on correcting our current Council’s mistakes but upon a foundation of specific, measurable, verifiable measures to enhance our residents future and preserve the charm that has made Chapel Hill a “Southern Part of Heaven”.

Why run? As a member of several Town advisory boards, a close observer of our governmental process and an activist interested in improving upon our Town’s successes, I have become more and more concerned as our leadership strayed from some bedrock principles of good governance.

As a member of Council, I will promote policies that speed the wheels of progress, that increase the level of citizen participation and that will set a new course for Chapel Hill’s Council.

What, specifically?

In the next four years I will work hard to make sure our Town’s fiscal policy doesn’t continue to be dictated by political expediency. Transparency, openness and inclusiveness will be first and foremost in developing our Town’s budget.

We can’t borrow from tomorrow’s seed corn to pay today’s debt. We can’t dip into our children’s college fund because we’re not willing to tighten our belts. We must build our financial foundations on sturdier grounds than the expectation that next year will always be better than this year – that housing values will forever escalate, that sales tax surprises are right around the corner.

We are entrusted with our citizen’s hard-won dollars, not “units” to be extracted as needed, and every action we take must reflect that recognition. When we negotiate and then take on a new burden on our citizens behalf we owe them a regular and accurate accounting. We should err on the side of caution and not become so obsessed with grand dreams so as to dispense with good sense and good policy.

Affordable housing should mean housing – square footage on the ground. We cannot continue our Town’s addiction to payments in lieu. We must be prepared to accept housing when it becomes available – to be nimble and flexible in adapting to current conditions.

And while affordable housing is important, affordable living must be our first and foremost goal.

Our town has adopted policies that are driving diversity from our community. In our rush to support gold-plated condos and a caviar lifestyle we’ve forgotten that our Town’s historical constitution and strength is born of a wide cross-section of interests and means.

Affordable living necessitates policies that encourage folks to stay awhile. We need a new attitude that supports our long term residents in keeping their homes and our newest residents in their desire to move from transitional housing to homes.

Leadership does not mean going it alone. Our community is blessed by many resources, our citizens being a source of strength and talent we cannot continue to ignore. We must not wait for them to come forth but nurture their involvement – and take their counsel even when it goes against our initial impetus.

Finally, when we call on others to do what’s best – environmentally, social justice, human services – we must lead by example and not resort to “do as I say, not as I do”.

Why boot the incumbents?

In the last 18 months, we’ve seen some of our Council become so enamored, even obsessed, with their Downtown development plans, that they’ve wavered from their obligation to maintain our Town’s sound fiscal foundations.

Delay is a matter of course for this Council. Just two weeks ago the Council received an independently conducted technology assessment that called for a number of innovative, cost reducing, improvements that I, other concerned citizens and our now disbanded citizen-led Technology Advisory Board had made more than 5 years ago.

And rather than make key structural and organizational changes in the way our Town functions, they pushed off to tomorrow what needs to be done today.

As we know, delay costs. In some cases, delay costs dearly.

Over the last few years, while the Council has maintained their policy of citizen comment on the issues before them, they have become partially deaf to critiques of their plans. Nothing sounds so sweet as the chorus of “yes, yes, yes” but paying attention to the “nayes” can strengthen any policy. Add to that recent examples of political gamesmanship and imprudent streamlining of public hearings to see how citizen discourse and debate has taken a backseat to winning their way. Public policy has suffered.

Though potentially ego bruising, integrating citizen feedback can only make our government work better.

Beyond ignoring professional assessments from the professors of UNC’s Kenan-Flagler business school on the Lot #5 development debacle, this Council has stood quietly by while the Mayor dispensed with the Horace-Williams Citizen Committee (HWCC). The HWCC, of which I was a member, stood poised to make additional, substantive, contributions, from am informed citizens perspective, on UNC’s Carolina North project.

Some Council members appeared worried, that they couldn’t control the outcome of this committee’s work.

Certainly an independent and non-political analysis might yield answers that this Council didn’t want to hear but, again, that leads to poor results. Results, for instance, like the Lot #5 money-pit, underwritten by our residents, carrying a quickly escalating citizen borne commitment of $20 million – a project whose primary beneficiary is a private development company.

Yes, the Council does sometime listen. Candidate Hill took my suggestion to make Lot #5’s affordable housing more family friendly and ran with it. And the Council, after years of lobbying by folks like myself, did decide to invest in community-owned networking infrastructure to meet the economic and social demands of a new century. Yet, in-spite of assurances to the contrary, they have yet to involve the community in this vital community serving project.

What of the Downtown Parking Task Force, on which I served? Trying to resolve some of the parking misery in our Downtown district, this committee did some of the best work I’ve ever seen any board perform over the 7 years I’ve closely participated in Town affairs. Members of this task force were eager to continue – to help with the implementation of a number of no-cost or low-cost improvements to make our Town center more inviting, more friendly.

While this groups practical advice was put aside (for now we hear), the committee’s recommendations to reduce the cost of parking became, perversely, a call to raise parking rates Downtown.

“What’s the matter with raising prices by ‘two units’?” as one Council member asked. “Units”, it appears, is how the current Council sees our citizens and visitors hard-earned dollars.

Again, political gamesmanship, closing ranks, trying to bolster this year’s incumbent candidates prospects, overrode good and fair public policy. At least the work of that committee hasn’t been added, as one long time resident and board participant commented, to the “stack of dusty reports” generated by our advisory boards that litter Townhall.

One incumbent Councilmember, Bill Strom, recently complained that he couldn’t work with the Orange County Board of Commissioners to set policy.

He has had eight years to work on that issue, and so many more, how would eight more years of Bill or four more of Cam and Sally, benefit our community? I expect a flurry of proposals this Summer from our incumbents and my question to them will be simply “Why are we just now hearing about this? Why wait?”

The trend is set. These few of many examples show a Council that has lost their way.

Over the next few months I look forward to, once again, meeting with our citizenry, to discuss how our Town can maintain its charm while becoming not only an even better place to live but a sustainable, growing, vital and creative community that will lead others by example.

Jacobs to Strom: The Homeless Shelter Remains A Spasm in Chapel Hill’s Lower Back-side

Friday, July 13th, 2007

“The communication between the two governments within the same community has been spasmodic and not effective.”

— Orange County Commissioner Barry Jacobs after Chapel Hill Town Council member Bill Strom criticized the county this week for not working more closely with the town on finding new locations for a children’s museum, men’s homeless shelter and District Court.

Via the Chapel Hill News.

Bill kind of rattled on, as you can see [Granicus WMV], about the lack of coordination between the Town and the County – notably, in this case, working to re-site the Men’s Homeless Shelter.

What could’ve Bill done over his last eight years to make sure we don’t “spin our wheels” with the Orange County Board of Commissioners when the Town needs their help? Or that Council doesn’t end up with the BOCC using their “75 years” of collective political experience to “bury us 25 feet under in process and procedure” when we call for assistance?

His complaints about “burying” folks under “25 years of procedural manipulation” is ironic given Mayor Pro Tem Strom’s shelving of a request for real accountability on the Lot $$$5 development project.

Given the sad state of communications and cooperation between this Council and our current Board of Commissioners, Bill is right to call upon the Town and our Town Manager to create a Plan B for the Men’s Shelter’s relocation.

Eight, maybe ten years into the discussion, the BOCC continues to reject Homestead Road’s Southern Human Services Center as a viable location and we still don’t know where to site this necessary shelter. Yes, maybe we can wedge in a facility at the Town’s new Operation Center but, at least to me, that begins to verge on “warehousing” these folks out-of-sight in lieu of attacking the underlying problem head on.

By the way, Bill might have been a little testy because it was late and I had just reminded him that his grand obsession with the white elephant that is the Downtown Development Initiative’s Lot $$$5 project was going to hurt our community in order to bolster RAM Development’s bottom-line.

Whatever the reason, he’s had eight years to improve the lines of communications. I’ll be interested to hear how he proposes to improve the situation if he’s given another 4 years on Council.

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