Thanks to Loren Hintz. Matt Scheer, Jason Baker (2005 candidate for Town Council), May Becker, Judith Ferster and the rest of the membership of the Orange-Chatham Sierra Club for both sponsoring the recent candidate forum and making the following video available to the wider community.
Also thanks to my fellow colleague on the Sustainability Task Force Matthew Scheer for moderating the event and James Carnahan for keeping time.
Quick technical note: the current video doesn’t support “quick search” but will start streaming right away.
I’ve been clear – our Town’s ability to negotiate with UNC and other developers on environmental standards (or pretty much any other issue) is directly related to how well we practice what we preach.
Southern Park is a great example. The Mayor and the incumbents (sans Jim Ward) thought the difficult decision was to authorize the removal of half the trees at Southern Park to build soccer fields. I like soccer fields, but it is clear to me that the difficult decision was really one of how to align their commitment to carbon reduction (CRED) with the gross reduction of trees.
Along those lines, I’ve had a number of folks email me about the Sierra Club endorsement process. These folks know that, besides Jim Ward, I’ve called for stronger protections – protections within a measurable framework – than the incumbents I’m challenging. The talk, it appears, doesn’t always follow the walk.
I hope to enumerate those discrepancies (fuel usage, light and noise pollution, tree replacement, etc.) but, until then, here’s an example from this Spring where Jim Ward took up my call to bolster our Town’s credibility by implementing measurable energy efficiency goals at a project WE THE PEOPLE are paying for…
X-Posted from my campaign site:
A common theme of both my activism and my campaign is that if we don’t measure the results of our policies then we can’t tell if we’re achieving our goals. Worse, if we’re trying various strategies to solve an issue, without proper oversight, we can’t select the most effective – cost-wise and goal-wise – solution to run with.
I’ve asked the Council many times over the last few years for a proper accounting on a number of issues – how much the citizens have spent on Lot #5, costs over-runs for the Town’s new Operation Center, fuel usage, reducing our street light electricity bill, etc. – but those requests have been uniformly batted down by the majority – which, this year, is most of the incumbents I’m running against.
I’ve argued that to be good stewards of the publics money, we must accurately report our failures and successes.
And to bolster our credibility, we have to “walk the talk”.
Take energy efficiency. While all the incumbents pay lip service to the concept, Jim and I were the only two folks running this year that called for specific, measurable energy reduction goals for the Lot #5 project. Yes, the LEEDs certification process can be expensive and flawed, but relying on a developer that has already demonstrated a consistent pattern of failing to follow through on initial expectations (the promise to keep the citizens cost to $500K, for instance) to police themselves is foolhardy.
If not LEEDs, then some other objective standard was called for – a specific methodology that an independent consultant could verify.
How else do we bolster the credibility of our environmental stewardship?
As you can see from this video, Jim makes a good case for why not “walking the talk” in one sphere can directly diminish your leverage in another.
Just as I said many times prior to Jim’s statement, how can we call on UNC or any other developer to adhere to the highest standards if our Town practices “do as I say, not do as I do”?
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.
Mike Collins (pictured above with Julie McClintock), the Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth’s (NRG) â€œgo to guyâ€, wrote a a nice column outlining that nightâ€™s goals for the Chapel Hill News
Imagine a thriving research community in the heart of Chapel Hill â€” a home for innovative technologies and business opportunities, a model of sustainability, self-sufficient, self-powered, a place of the future on a footprint small enough to preserve the surrounding 700 acres of woodlands and streams. One that merges seamlessly into the surrounding community, accessible by a number of transit modes, and with green spaces and amenities that draw citizens from everywhere.
Orâ€¦imagine a development the size of five Southpoint shopping malls, traditional buildings with massive parking lots, gridlock as people fill the roads on their way home to northern Orange, Alamance, and Chatham counties. Imagine more and more days with air pollution advisories. Imagine water shortages and increased taxes brought on by poor planning and lack of foresight.
I appreciate the following sponsoring organizations letting me lend a small hand to broadcast this interesting and informative forum to a wider audience.