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.

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: Councilmember Laurin Easthom’s Thoughts…

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Laurin, you beat me to the punch!

About a year ago, with some encouragement from RobertP (CountryCrats), I started a few posts on my experience running for Chapel Hill Town Council in 2005.

I wanted

  • to cover the mechanics – signs, fund-raising, forums, endorsements, election day management – of running for local office
  • to touch upon my considerations and justifications for running
  • to give, from my outside perspective, a sense of the hours and effort within Council I thought it would take to do justice to by our citizenry
  • to suggest strategies for dealing with the awesome power of incumbency
  • to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various “endorsing” organizations
  • to pass on what I learned about interacting with the media and getting wider exposure via neighborhood/organizational meetings
  • to highlight my campaign failures (I did lose!)
  • and modest successes.

All with an eye towards encouraging a new generation of Council leadership.

What happened to that series? Well, besides being a bit premature, I got bogged down with a few other projects.

Today, Councilmember Laurin Easthom (Easthom Page) has posted (“Tis’ the Season”) some excellent advice on getting started on the campaign trail:

There hasn’t been much talk around town yet, but election season is coming, or is in fact here. I am talking about my area of course, Chapel Hill Town Council. For those of you that would be interested in running, I have some advice and perspective.

Thanks Laurin for the kick-in-the-pants.

You’re absolutely right. For a non-incumbent with little current political exposure – now is the time to start thinking about running. I’m going to dust-off those old posts and publish my comments in an attempt to help generate some interest, broaden the field and do my bit to increase the participation in what De’Tocqueville thought was the finest aspect of our American participatory democracy – local government.

Here comes the judge, and the judge and the judge and the potential judge

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

I know, short notice of tonight’s (Wed. Oct. 11th, 2006) forum for Superior Court 15B candidates. The forum is sponsored by UNC’s Young Dems.

From Matt Liles OrangePoltics notice:

The Orange County Young Democrats will hold a forum with all four candidates for Superior Court on Wednesday, Oct 11th at 7pm in Room 4085 of the UNC School of Law.

Directions to the Law School are available at www.law.unc.edu. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the law school after 5pm and additional parking is also available in the School of Government lot.

The candidates are:

I hope a few issues come up this evening:

  • Mr. Stein’s inability to serve all but a fraction of a term (covered here and here by Duncan Murrell).
  • Practical ideas for streamlining the court process (and maybe whack some of the costs out).
  • Restoring some humanity to the justice system.
  • The incredible amount of monies raised for this race (Stein is on track to beat $100K mark) and the distorting influence that has on future races.

Carl Fox, everyone tells me, has a lock. It certainly looks that way when you he spent the least, $26K, and raised the least, $28K, but was the top vote getter in the primary. That means a 3-way race among Baddour, Anderson and Stein.

Adam Stein has a quite respectable background, a solid list of endorsements, but when I talk to his supporters it always seems like they’re awarding a sinecure for a life of solid and praiseworthy work rather than enlisting someone with a strong vision for the courts future and the wherewithal to carry out the tasks before them.

This is an eight year job. Stein’s problem of a predictably foreshortened career on the bench should be addressed.

I’ve learned a bit about the work of a Superior Court district 15B judge over the last year. It is a tough job.

Our courts system is being battered, unfortunately, by rising demands. Hopefully this evening we’ll hear some innovative, practical ideas for addressing foreseeable stresses on our local court system.

Unlucky %13

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Early primary day I read online reports of low turnout in Hillsborough, Efland, Carrboro and Chapel Hill.

Having done a bit of research on local elections, I realized that my vote, 222, that late in the day, at the Chapel Hill Library, home of Estes Hills precinct, a precinct which traditionally turns out heavily, was a harbinger of worse to come.

I speculated we’d end up with turnout somewhere between %12-14.

Actual turnout? %13.2.

Only 11,738 of 88944 registered voters, 9,450 Democrats (%20 of D’s), 1202 Republicans (%6 of R’s) and 1234 Independents (%5.5 of I’s) showed up.

Carol Woods, once again, led the pack: %81 of Democrats (262/323), %48 of Independents (29/60) and %0 (!!!) of Republicans (0/67) or %65 of all registered voters. My neighborhood at least, based on my count, did well by their civic duty.

Even the most pessimistic estimates put the last Iraqii election turnout at over %55.

Maybe the tide will turn in November.

May 2nd: Chatham? Baddour, Lucier, Vanderbeck, Thompson!

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

[UPDATE:] Lucier, Vanderbeck and Thompson sweep the board! Baddour still in contention.

Chatham, the tidal wave of development is overwhelming county services, driving taxes sky high (and we haven’t seen the end yet) and leading to a brittle service economy built on shaky ground.

When you mark your ballot, take a moment to think about this ode to Briar Chapel’s sewage spray system. It’s a good metaphor of how Bunkey and company have treated the county, the environment and the community.

Want to restore sanity, honesty and integrity to the Board of Commissioners? Vote:

  • George Lucier – Commissioner, District 3
  • Tom Vanderbeck – Commissioner, District 4
  • Carl E. Thompson – Commissioner, District 5

More information at The Chatham Coalition.

  • Allen Baddour – Superior Court.

Allen, arguably, is even a better choice for Chatham than Orange county.

May 2nd: Don’t fear the reaper, get out and vote!

Monday, May 1st, 2006

Several months ago I went to Hillsborough for a demonstration of the ESS voting equipment. I saw the tried and true, paper ballot optical scan code machine and the fancy, complex and, I think, easy-to-tamper-with, touch screen unit. Wisely, the Board of Elections recommended the optical scan over the touch screen.

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