Farewell Chief!

Monday, October 18th, 2010

I rushed back from Asheville this evening and missed the announcement (WCHL1360 and Daily Tar Heel) that Chief Brian Curran is resigning effective Nov. 30th.

I posted Sept. 24, 2007 when Brian was appointed.

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.

I’ve gotten to know Brian a bit more since then and, more importantly, seen him in action – facing some rather stiff challenges over the last 3 years.

At the time Roger had 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.

Brian has definitely made progress on these goals – as exemplified by the most recent community outreach effort and development of set of measurable strategic goals (two more chances to attend – information here).

It appears from WCHL’s report that Roger will be trying to fill the position from within – good news as one of Brian’s achievements was to strengthen our internal leadership while creating a more innovative command structure that can deal with Chapel Hill’s issues in a Chapel Hill way.

If Roger reaches out beyond our staff, I expect him to pull some expertise and advice from our community in finding a candidate.

Congratulations Chief. Thank you for your service. And thank you for shepherding us through one more Halloween!

“You Are Excused”

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Of the few ways one can “exercise” citizenship directly, being chosen as a sitting juror seems most capricious.

Ever since I turned 18 I’ve waited for the call.

Master jury lists in North Carolina are randomly drawn from voter rolls and driver license records. Having been a licensed driver and voting maniac (all elections except one 2nd primary) for over 30 years, I expected to have been selected at least once before now, yet it was only last month I was notified of my first opportunity to serve.

Given my activist background, I imagined that being selected to serve in court was a long shot. Still, getting my chance to discharge this citizen obligation was rewarding enough. Yes, I know it might sound a bit crazy to many folks, especially those who have tried and possibly succeeded in ducking the call, but I was excited my turn finally arrived.

Orange County has a fairly efficient system. You get a letter a month beforehand. You’re instructed to call a particular phone number (919-644-4516 in Orange County should you happen to Google this post) the night before to check your status.

After returning from this evening’s Board of Commissioner’s meeting I made that call.

The disappointing recorded message was short, to the point – “All jurors are excused. This concludes your jury service.”

Excused, yes. Concluded? Just doesn’t feel that way.

Somewhere I Read….

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Forty years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. As you might guess, I’ve been encouraged by his words and his actions for more than four decades.

The night before his death Dr. King observed a nation in distress:

The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.

He rejected the quelling of dissent:

All we say to America is, “Be true to what you said on paper.” If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren’t going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on.

But, in the end, he was silenced.

Though it seems we’ve come a long way from the days of Crow, recent reminders, like the racist subtext flowing through the local blog-o-sphere after Eve Carson’s murder or the continued government supported gentrification of Chapel Hill demonstrates how far we’ve yet to go…

What would Martin make of our world today? Principled dissent is no longer an American bedrock principle. Surveillance, wiretapping, water boarding part of our everyday experience. “Incarceration over education” ( 1 in 9 young black males according to the recent Pew report), poverty surging and a war even more ridiculously off-kilter than Vietnam ever was…

Martin said that night (I’ve been to the mountaintop) that we should “develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness”, to help folks not questioning “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” but rather “If I do no stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question.

That is the question, as ever, before us this tragic fortieth anniversary.


Parking Downtown: Water, Water Everywhere, Nary a Drop to Drink

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

I served on Chapel Hill’s Downtown Parking Taskforce, which wrapped up its business two weeks ago and which will be presenting its findings formally on Feb. 26th [AGENDA].

I meant to comment more frequently on our work but circumstances and some cautionary notes from staff intervened. It’s an interesting issue – how much of the preliminary work of a committee you serve on do you want to expose?

I wouldn’t want to shut down the free expression of the wildest of ideas. And, though the process was open to the public, like so many of our citizen’s groups rarely covered by the media – hardly attended by those outside the relevant committee.

I certainly commented frequently (and vociferously) on my and others participation in the Horace Williams Citizens’ Committee. I went into the issues discussed within the Technology Board, but didn’t speak to the internal and external tensions that contributed to its dissolution.

Reporting on my next committee (if I’m ever appointed to one after my vocal opposition to Lot #5) will probably be dependent on a number of factors…of which I hope to get some feedback on from my readers…

The Parking Taskforce was pretty effective – and ranks up there with the HWCC for citizen participation.

The meetings usually stayed on point – had some humorous commentaries (including a prominent local comparing University Square to Cabrini Green) – and generated a slew of good ideas.

Here is the cover letter [DOC] and finalized [DOC] report that will be presented on Feb. 26th.

I’ll be adding my support and a little commentary that night – please send me any comments (campaign AT willraymond.org ) or add them to this post.

I appreciate that my central themes of cooperation/collaboration in terms of parking resource allocation made it into the final report.

Unfortunately, the section on using modeling and metrics to manage parking policy – a section I promoted – was excised. Maybe too business-like an approach – but I believe any implementation plan that doesn’t incorporate targets, a methodology to measure progress and actual timely measurements is flawed. We should have time to repair this omission as staff fleshes out the recommendations.

The guidelines I drew up on behalf of the committee were also not included, partially because they were redundant, partially because they didn’t fit into the report structure and partially because we ran out of time to discuss/elaborate/refine on them.

I present them here for completeness.

1. Parking is provided for the public good by the citizens of our community. The public, irrespective of economic, social or other status, will come first. Parking policy, to the greatest extent possible, shall not be discriminatory.

2. Public and private parking is an important and strategic common resource for our Downtown’s success. Parking policy will cultivate private-public management policies to successfully conserve and cultivate this common resource.

3. Fees collected from public parking will not be seen as a revenue generator for the general fund.

4. Fees from public parking are to be utilized for parking and other transit oriented infrastructure support and improvement.

5. While productive public parking policy furthers the social and environmental goals of our town, the primary focus of downtown parking is economic development.

6. Public parking policy will be driven by timely metrics. An “evergreen” process based on measured utilization will be used to adapt to changing conditions.

7. The public’s ability to understand novel parking strategies is not to be underestimated.

8. Parking strategies will be based on “best in class” flexible approaches. Parking requirements fluctuate by time of day and year, location and special activities. “One size, fits all” policy is not appropriate.

9. Failure to abide by commitments to utilize transit in lieu of providing required parking facilities has consequences. [update: this applies to businesses that made commitments to use transit in lieu of building lots]

Additional documents used during our discussions:

I have some additional resources I used that I’ll try to post sometime soon…



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