A Healthy Sign, Robert Seymour Appointed to UNC Health Care Board

Saturday, October 14th, 2006

From Kirk Ross’ ExileOnJonesStreet, the fabulous news that UNC Health Care is beginning to take action to live within their charter and restore some humanity to their service delivery mission:

This morning, the UNC Board of Governors approved the appointment of Rev. Bob Seymour, who served as minister of Binkley Baptist for 30 years, to the UNC Health Care board. Seymour was picked for the post by UNC President Erskine Bowles after complaints about the hospital system’s treatment of elderly patients and agressive collection tactics. Bowles agreed with petitioners that a citizen rep was needed on the board.

You might remember Bob’s comments on the aging of Orange County from my recent post Robert Seymour on Our Community’s Fit, Frail and Fragile

More from Kirk.


Kind of a bookend to this report from today’s N&O Under the Dome:

Much to the chagrin of the state-supported UNC Health Care system’s critics, the budget year that ended June 30, 2006, yielded a financial windfall for health system managers.

The UNC system paid out more than $2.5 million in bonuses based on financial performance, achievement of quality benchmarks and employee and patient satisfaction.

Health system chief executive Dr. William L. Roper led the pack with a bonus of $110,010. UNC Hospitals CEO Gary Park wasn’t far behind with a $103,632 bonus. Dr. Marschall Runge, president of the UNC physician practice, received a bonus of $101,246.

Scores of lower level managers received bonuses ranging from about $1,300 to awards in the tens of thousands of dollars. Bonuses are based partly on the health system’s financial performance, partly on quality and partly on employee and patient satisfaction.

How about this? Let’s keep the mega-bonuses down for the top administrators while folks are going without health care and the pay for the average UNC Health Care worker underwhelms.

Robert Seymour on Our Community’s Fit, Frail and Fragile

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

The fit 80+ year-old Robert Seymour has a short WCHL commentary [*MP3] on the Human Services Advisory Council’s 5-year master aging plan to help manage the greying of Orange County. He notes our county already has more than 18,000 residents over 60 years old – a figure sure to explode as the “baby boomers come on-line.”

More from Robert’s commentary [*MP3], tha Aging Advisory Board, the Orange County Human Services Advisory Council and county department on Aging.

There are numerous vacancies on the various aging related advisory boards. Please consider getting involved.

Applications for these and other County advisory boards are here.

*MP3 with the kind permission of WCHL 1360AM

Chapel Hill Transit: A %1 Solution

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

Local transit activist Ellen Perry posted a heads up Car Free Day 09/22 on local ‘blog OrangePolitics.

On Friday, September 22, residents of Carrboro and Chapel Hill will for the third straight year join millions of others around the world in celebrating World Car Free Day, leaving their cars at home and using other means of transportation instead.

Residents of Orange County who formally pledge to go Car Free or at least Car Lite (reduced car use) for September 22 will be entered into a drawing for prizes that include Amtrak tickets to Washington, DC & New York, a new bicycle, gift certificates for Squid’s, Spanky’s or 411 West, and more. Anyone can pledge on-line at www.gocarfree.com pledge forms that can be mailed will also be available in the Chapel Hill News and Chapel Hill Herald over the next three weeks.

Prizes will be drawn at a Car Free Day celebration to be held on the lawn of Weaver Street Market from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm on Friday, September 22. Celebrants will find information about public transportation, local biking and walking opportunities, and how to create communities that are less dependent on cars. The Village Project will show their designs and models for transit-oriented, walkable communities on the lawn, and Chapel Hill Transit will demonstrate how to load bikes and wheelchairs onto buses at the Fitch Lumber parking lot (309 North Greensboro St.).

The post spawned an interesting thread, including this comment by GeorgeC (George Cianciolo – former Chair of Chapel Hill’s Transportation Board, current member of UNC’s Carolina North LAC, the Planning Board, Design Commission and probably a few others 😉 ) on how to increase our transit resources:

Current contribution to CHT:

CH (taxes): $2,583,000 21%
UNC: 4,674,000 38%
Carrboro: 861,000 7%
sub-total: $8,118,000
add another $4,200,000 in federal & state monies, etc.
total: $12,318,000

CH’s contribution of $2,583,000 from taxes is 9.7% of what it collects in property taxes ($2,583,000 / 26,631,000). If we increased the transportation tax portion of property taxes by 10% we would increase the total property tax bill by 0.1 X 9.7% = 0.97%. Since CH taxes amount to roughly 1/3 of a citizen’s total tax bill (county taxes & school taxes comprising the other 2/3) this increase would amount to about a 1/3 of one-percent increase in CH property taxes. Thus, on a $3000 property tax bill the increase would amount to about $9.60.

Now, if all the transit partners increased their contributions by 10% as well, we would realize:

CH: $258,000
UNC: 467,000
Carrboro: 86,000
$811,000 new funds

This $811,000 would buy us an additional 14,000 hours of service. On existing routes we could add 4 hr/day for 12 routes for 6 days/week for 50 weeks. Or a number of different scenarios. But remember, you could only increase service on nights & weekends unless you spring for additional buses for use during the day when equipment is currently maxed out.

By the way, the town’s Transportation Board has two vacancies, application and more information on joining here.

Greene on Ending Chronic Homelessness in Orange County

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

Council member Sally Greene is passionately pursuing a ten year plan to end local homelessness. Her participation, along with other valiant volunteers, gives me hope that the goal is achievable.

Tonight, she reports on the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness’ efforts.

Of note, they’ve agreed to “emphasize the chronically homeless in our planning (but not at the expense of current efforts to help all the homeless).”

As documented by Sally, folks chronically homeless account for the lionshare of service consumption. Dealing compassionately with this key segment of the homeless population not only honors our better angels but makes excellent fiscal sense – strained resources can be freed up to address the larger population.

There’s more work for the OCPEH but this difficult decision has significantly advanced their cause.

Shell Game? Transfer Development Rights

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

[UPDATE:] Some good coverage of the initial steps towards TDRs in today’s soon-to-be-paywalled HeraldSun.

6:30pm Tuesday, May 9th, Battle Courtroom on Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, NC

The county is starting a dialogue on a transfer of development rights program (TDR) for Orange County.

Last year, the county recruited local citizens to the TDR taskforce. The membership is comprised of a who’s who of folk interested in local development.

Overly touted by some, the program essentially trades your right to develop one piece of property (say your farm) for the right to (over?) develop another.

The real estate industry has prepared a summary that covers TDRs fairly well from their perspective.

Locally, Nick Tennyson,executive vice president for the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties weighed in observing “TDR is a concept that in the abstract people find interesting, but when you really start working on where it’s going to apply, it has fizzled many times in the past.” (via today’s HeraldSun).

Though troubled a bit by the eminent domain issues around TDRs, I’m interested in the concept as a potentially valuable planning and zoning tool.

Tonight Orange County will present their first pass analysis of using TDRs – I look forward to seeing the proposal.

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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