Whose House? Cam's House.

Well some folks are starting to get pretty worked up over the story of Cam trading property with the University. So let's discuss. I know emotions are high around this issue, please keep it civil!

The Chapel Hill News reports today that Town Council Member-Elect Cam Hill made a deal with the University to trade his house on Cameron Avenue for a nicer one on Rosemary Street. I think there are two issues here (correct me if I'm wrong). (1) Is Cam being hypocritical for criticizing the University and it's associates, and then cutting a deal with them? And (2) should this deal have been disclosed before the election?

Many folks, including Eric Muller at IsThatLegal.org, have taken issue with the fact that this deal was kept quiet for six weeks leading up to the election. However, I'm not convinced that this constitutes a "conflict of interest." (And yes Eric, there is a recall provision, ask Joe Herzenberg about it.)

I do agree that this should have been disclosed before the election. In fact, not only do I not think this relevation would have hurt his chances, I think it might have served to make Cam look more "reasonable" (or at least less one-dimensional) in his willingness to negotiate with the University.

According to the News:

Hill said Tuesday that the university's plans to turn the property on either side of his house into parking lots made moving the only reasonable choice. If the exchange were completed, the university would own all of the land on the north side of Cameron Avenue between Graham Street and Merritt Mill Road.

I think this is a pretty good explanation for why Cam made this deal. (And further fuel for our fears that UNC is taking over.) Would any of you handle it differently?



I can't help but notice that Anne Blythe's motor vehicle taxes were due last Monday December 1, 2003. That's a week over due! Run her out of town! Ray Gronberg appears to be all paid up. There is someone named David Hart who has overdue taxes, but I can't tell if it is the CHN reporter or not. Can you recall a reporter?

I suspect that the Ministry of Truth may have missed my point in signing my post as A Real Jerk. But the Ministry of Truth is indeed correct about tax due dates, of course.

As Mr. Smith has correctly pointed out, there is a distinction between those who have taxes due and those who are delinquent. Although the postings of prominent citizens above indicate taxes due, they are not delinquent until the end of the year.

Mr. Hill's taxes owed were for 2002 and were delinquent.

According to the press, Mr. Hill excused his deliquency because of poverty.


This, like so many of Mr. Hill's responses during his recent controversies, seems duplicious, well calculated to draw sympathy.

First, unless the Truth Minister can conjure up a citation from our compassionate legislature to prove me wrong, poverty, alas, does not excuse the responsibility to pay taxes.

Second, why was a man mired in impoversihment spending his meager resources constructing a substantial addition to his property? If completed, it would have increased his already overburdensome tax burden while consuming funds that could have satisfied his current tax obligation.

Poverty may be a convenient excuse today, but last year it appears Mr. Hill made a choice. He spent money on improving his property in lieu of paying his taxes.

The most serious indictment of Mr. Hill through these sagas is his lack of candor. Perhaps we should expect half truths from a man living in a half finished house. But Chapel Hill deserves better than that.

F. Ames

I have just been referred to this site and have been perusing the rantings. Apparently Cam must be future presidential material to have evoked such heated debate. But I digress.......

I live in Denver but in 1989-1991 I lived in Chapel Hill (a town I spent my first 18 years in, but that was prior to '89) My husband and I spent part of that time renting Cam's house from him. It was awesome. It was a nice house with lots of room for the 2 of us. The bathroom was extremely spacious and there was a hot water heater ahead of its time which heated on demand so it could never run out. The yard was huge and had many perfect garden spots. And of course there was location--easy walking access to downtown and easy driving to almost anywhere. I could go on. It is I assure you a valuable house and lot.

So you all sit there and act like Cam has won something over on UNC. I assure you he has not. I know for a fact he loves that house and property and would prefer if UNC and its concrete had never come along. But he got elected to town council and you have all decided it's a free for all to criticise him. Shame on you. He's being forced to leave a place he'd prefer to stay. You only have half facts since you are getting them from the media. I find that I am not missing my home town as much as I used to.

What a tempest in a teapot!

Did NC get rid of math in their various and sundry curricula?

My guess is when the University did a cost analysis on alternatives to this parking site, they crapped their drawers and were glad to offer the Rosemary St. house + $100K deal. By the math reported (I don't remember which paper, but y'all can go look), the University still comes out of this with more than $50k above an even swap, while Cam apparently assumes some level of the University's debt or carries a prior debt with him to Rosemary Street. Essentially the University comes out about $126K ahead (not counting the savings on the cost of acquiring other property if this deal fell through). Cam gets a nice neighborhood for his kids. If the parties to the deal are happy, what's the beef?

Bet those Profs are really pissed at getting tossed. The lesson here is that it is better to be the landlord than the tenant. Anybody know if some of these lazy, half-witted reporters are buddies with those two?

Some of you folks have thoughtful comments.

Some of you folks happily splash in the filth of rumour and innuendo. Whisperers and amateur muckrakers. For what purpose I wonder?

I am so glad to read that Cam was able to pay his taxes! This is very good news. Have a great weekend all you political insiders.

I think Eric has hit the nail on the head. These things wouldn't be scandals if the reporters covered them when the readers wanted to know, ie: before the election.

Which leads me to this - I'm starting a new thread on the media issue! http://www.orangepolitics.org/archives/000105.html

The Watchdog and Ministry of Truth have been been dozing.

Which is why this blog is so greatly welcome.

I hope you're all spreading the word. And givng money.

Don't worry, contributuions don't buy influence. I happily attest to that.

Anyway, thanks for all the tax links. Whew.

The Ministry of Truth feels that we must tell you that the taxes of land are billed as due on 09/01/03 but almost no one pays them until close to the end of the penalty free deadline of 12/31/03.

I think people are missing the point of this property tax search engine and its relevance to the campaign.

To me, the main point is that the information about Cam Hill's tax delinquency was readily available during the campaign. No need to wait for him to release it piecemeal over a period of months. It was all right there, available to anyone who took a moment to run a search.

Which leads me (back) to the question: what was the local press doing during this election?

Who's talking recall? I haven't heard a ground swell of support for it. And, what, specifically, would be the legal grounds for the recall? Would it be that Cam is past due on some taxes? Some of

our most illustrious citizens haven't ponied up yet http://server1.co.orange.nc.us/cgi-bin2/mvi.exe/TAXINQ?INQTYPE=BILL&INQVALUE=200346934

Is it all innuendo? The rhetoric is straight from Republican play book. If you don't like the candidate, damn them with faint praise, smear them with ominous sounding allegations and then scream for recall. Where's the substance?

Jim P will appreciate this one


The Ministry of Truth loves the Tax site. We even found ourselves due soon!

Anonymity has its advantages!

First ... Ruby, I love this site and am so appreciative that you came up with the idea, did all the work to get it going, and moderate it so fairly. The last thing I want to do is to sound disrespectful, but I have wondered all day what you meant above when you said you would have removed Jim's original post on the recall topic if it had been anonymous.

Do you not think this is a worthy topic for discussion? I got that feeling, and yet half the town is talking about it.

I'm not totally informed about Cam's delinquent tax situation. I don't know whether he worked out a deal with the town or what. I'd like to know. It seems to me that there are many people who can no longer afford Chapel Hill taxes, and thus, can't live in town, as much as they'd like to. I don't think it occurs to most responsible people that an alternative is just not to pay the taxes. Certainly most of those people wouldn't consider moving to a more expensive house in CH where they would owe even MORE taxes that they couldn't pay. How is Cam planning to handle that? I'd be curious.

Until I know more, I can't form much of an opinion on whether he should hold office, but I do think CH citizens have the right to some answers about the whole situation.

I must be missing something. When you run for office you place yourself in the glare of public scrunity, and for some it's pubic scrunity. Having to dribble out a story about the "house swap" interview after interview, then having it revealed that you are in the arrears on your taxes suggests that one misunderstands the meaning of assuming a public trust. Yes, it is a big deal, especially when you are going to be spending money from the pot that is light on your share. I sincerely hope that family and friends will make this issue go away before Monday's Council meeting.

Eric, here's the short version on Joe so hopfeully we can move on. I don't think this has much relevance today.

1993, I think. Joe was the first openly gay elected official ever to serve the State of North Carolina. As such, he was a bit of a lightning rod for conservatives. He was Mayor Pro Tem of the Council, I think it was his second term (ie: he was elected and then re-elected). It was discovered that for some period in the past, that Joe had not paid some taxes, although he had been paying them in full in recent years. Some citizens initiated a recal petition against him. They got enough signatures, and a special election was to be held. Joe was criticized by his detractors for the fact thet this election would cost the Town $12,000. He resigned before the election rather than continue dragging the Town through the mud. By the way, Joe continues to serve the community in a variety of ways including municipal boards, philanthropic support, and Democratic party organizing.

My memory is not that great, corrections are welcome.

Golly. It definitely doesn't pay to get on the wrong side of a blog owner.

That's said, I'd like to make a four respectful points.

First, I don't know Cam Hill or anything about him other than what I've read on this blog and in the papers. From what I can see he is a creative voice and a person who thinks way outside the lines. I admire that greatly and I wish there were more people like that on the Chapel Hill Town Council. I also wish he had paid his taxes when he was supposed to.

Second, the heavy burden of personal property taxes in Chapel Hill has nothing to do with this issue -- although it's definitely worth discussing on some other thread. By Ruby's logic, Cam could steal a car if he needed one and didn't have the money right now -- and pay for it later. Or is it only okay if you're stealing from your fellow citizens?

Everyone I've talked to agrees with Ruby's assessment that Cam screwed up. The only question is whether this particular screw-up is tolerable in an elected official. She seems to think it's okay. I'm skeptical, but I'd be interested in hearing what others think.

Third, I retract my comment about the cost of any potential recall election. It was inappropriate to link that cost to Cam in any way and I am sorry I did that. If Cam believes he deserves to represent the people of Chapel Hill, then he should get sworn in on Monday night. That's his decision and his alone. After that, if roughly 3000 people think Chapel Hill should have a recall election, well, that's their decision.

Fourth, kindly leave my granny out of this. She's too dead to be robbed blind.

Always a pleasure.

Jim, I don't think this merits it's own thread, there are already a couple about Cam so let's take it there:


Posted by: Ruby Sinreich at 9:47 AM 12/05/03

Good enough, Ruby! As a Luddite when it comes to blogging protocol, I happily follow your direction. Though I suspect the CAM'S HOUSE heading may need to evolve into REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION as the story unfolds.


I've only lived in Chapel Hill for 6 years, and therefore don't know about the prior recall campaign against Joe Herzenberg. I'd appreciate it if somebody would post a brief, neutral account of what happened then for the benefit of those of us who don't know about it. Thanks.

Does ANYONE seriously think that a parking lot is what the University wants on that land 20 years from now? Anyone? Bueller?

Whatever the plan is (and for all I know it's a fine one), it will be a great deal easier to sell a long-term use of the land if it is "just a parking lot". How much influence will the Town have when that day comes?

The trouble with negotiations between institutions and individuals is that institutions don't get cold in the winter, or have to get their kids through college, or retire. Institutions don't blink. When the end really does justify the means (or not), those who found the means may be long gone.

There is potentially real news here, not just "scandal". Those who can't tell the difference should read more widely. If Cam had paid a publicist or a consultant or whatever, he could have played scandal against the University through the whole campaign. He tested it out and discovered that people wanted to hear about their own problems more than about his.

The real news (IMHO) is more than the deal -- which is manifestly a lose-lose propsition. The news is more than that the University uses strongarm tactics (or nearly so) to meet its agenda. That's old hat in any college town.

The news is that the University has an agenda that's important enough to make hardball seem worthwhile, and that the agenda concerns a plot west of downtown that nobody else had cared about. When (or if) the land comes back on the tax rolls, it will be worth at least as much as Cam and Ms. Clark together received. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

By the way, is anyone else amused that the land between 606 and Ms. Clark's property was deeded to the University by Horace Williams?

Caught on their way to the Memory Hole. Today's press recaps of Cam's press conference:

NandO story by Anne Blythe


Chapel Hill Herald story by Rob Shapard


Your harmless press-watching drudge at the Ministry of Truth,


(no relation to Barry who seems to have his names in reverse)

This discussion is relocated from another thread. In response to Jim Protzman's post ( http://www.orangepolitics.org/archives/000001.html#000839 ). If it was anonymous, I would probably have deleted it. You and Hmmm both need to take a deep breath.

You might not, but many of us can imagine Chapel Hill's property taxes as a very heavy load. I can sympathize with the crappy financial situation Cam was put in by the University buying up all the land around his house. This doesn't make the tax gaffe OK, but it's hardly like he's some kind of criminal out to rob your granny blind, which your tone suggests.

Because Cam is accused of being a year behind on his property taxes, you question "his ability to understand and follow the law." If I speed regularly, does this also mean I don't understand the law, or does it mean that that I had a lapse in judgement one time? (In fact, I have them a lot more often.) There's no doubt in my mind that Cam screwed up. And as I've said elsewhere, public figures are subject to greater scrutiny. He should have anticipated that. (Maybe he didn't think he would win?)

The tactic you employ of blaming the victim for the cost of possibly being recalled is absurd. The people who initiated the recall campaign against Joe Herzenberg did the same thing, even though it was they who demanded the "expensive" recall election. Their attacks smacked of homophobia. To me it was degrading to social and political discourse in Chapel Hill at the time. Would you like to re-live that experience?

It seems that there hasn't been a distinction between a possible on-going conflict of interest and a possible one-time conflict of interest.

I wouldn't have had a problem with Dianne Bachman doing a one-time land swap with UNC. I can't see how you infer those here that had problems with her candidacy wouldn't feel the same . I did have a problem with her not being specific in how she differed from UNC and the pro-development community . Of course, working within the same department that makes land-use decisions obviously could put her in potential conflict, why deny it? Instead, she could have defused those concerns by being specific instead of coy.

If you look at Cam Hill's campaign, if the UNC deal caused him to mute his rhetoric it was hard to tell. He didn't seem to pull any punches. Suggesting that his platform of "vigorous defense of neighborhoods" was just an attempt to improve his bargaining position is really out there. All the campaigning, all the forums, just to get a better deal?

You only have to look back a couple years to see how agressive UNC can be in acquiring land for parking lots. Does anyone remember the great old house next to the Art building? It took them 10 years, but they finally got it. What about the land over by ACC? Or any other of the numerous examples over the last 20 years?

But what of Cam Hill's future decisions on UNC issues before the council? Someone thinks that this one deal will call in to question every pro-UNC position vote he makes. Are they for real? Do they think that he's going to be culling favors from UNC in order to facilitate his next house swap?


Alex Z. spread the word about this lovely site at an Arts Center dance party Saturday night. I spent much of the weekend sifting through the discussion, and make the following observations.

1. It's reassuring to find so much predictability among the postings. Once a neighborhood evangelist, always a neighborhood evangelist. Some folks seem willing to tolerate unspeakably bad judgment to avoid the agonies of congnitive dissonance. (The theory that by disclosing his backdoor dealings, Hill might have actually deluded more voters is my favorite revisionist fantasy.)

2. Imagine if Dianne Bachmann had secretly done a sweetheart swap with UNC and been elected. The dark side would be up in its sanctimonious arms demanding a recall!

3. Speaking of which, a dozen people have asked if I know what's required to recall a council member-elect for either ineptitude or hypocrisy. I don't know the law, but will gladly sign any petitions that are circulating.


What has gotten lost in this nastiness about Cam Hill's real estate swap was the original oddity of Cam's assertions that a UNC-employed candidate shouldn't be on the Council because that presents an insurmountable conflict of interest. I say "oddity" because it's still clear to me that Cam Hill had a conflict of his own.

I said at the outset that if it turned out that Cam had actually disclosed his negotiations and the press hadn't reported on it, then my criticism of Cam wouldn't apply. It looks like that's true, so far as I can tell. So in my view, if Cam mentioned the negotiations, then he did all that one could have expected.

The puzzle, to me, is why (a) the press didn't report on this situation, and (b) why none of Cam's opponents made anything of it. It's especially odd that Dianne Bachman didn't make anything of it, since she was the target of Cam's conflict-of-interest theory.


I tend to agree with your take, Eric, but with qualification. Just like what was and wasn't said about UNC employees and conflict of interest, a lot to me rests on just what Cam said and when he said it. If he said he "sold" his home to UNC back in October, there might be a reason the press ignored a done deal. If he said he was in negotiations with UNC to swap properties, then I can't understand the media ignoring that.

UNC does not emerge from all of this looking very good, and if the same applies to the media, Cam or both, it still isn't satisfactorily answered in my mind.

And finally, for one who has said a lot about how UNC deals with people, I find it hard to understand how Cam could be a party (knowingly or not) to the shabby treatment the then current occupants of the house experienced. I would have hoped that at some point the question was asked, "are the current occupants OK with us looking at the house?" There's the law, and then there's what right, and this just doesn't strike me a the right way to treat people. Shame on UNC and any others that deserve it!

So now we learn that it's not just a swap for a nicer house in a better neighborhood, but also $100,000 in cash!

See http://www.chapelhillnews.com/front/story/949030p-6791135c.html

Cam Hill has told us that he disclosed the swap back in October. Did he also disclose that he was demanding cash from the university to sweeten the deal? (Joe Henderson "said the university originally had hoped to do a strict property swap, but that Hill negotiated for more.")

Can anyone now maintain that his run for Council didn't enhance his bargaining power? That he was under no obligation to disclose to voters that he was demanding not just a property swap but also a $100,000 payment from the university? (Actually, if they settled on $100,000, then you can assume that he initially demanded more.)

I look forward to the explanation of the $100,000 payment -- and the rationale for not disclosing it.

Am I reading this correctly in today's News: Cam is telling the press that the value of the 412 E Rosemary House is $242,000???

Unless there is nuclear waste buried under the front porch, which we didn't know about, he is understating the value of that house (to the press and reading public) by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Does anyone know what the laws are around a potential buyer speaking to a tenant of the property? It is my uneducated understanding that talking to the tenant when you are in legal negotiations with the landlord is a big no-no -- "interfering with the landlord-tenant relationship" or something like that.

Anyone know if that is true?


Mr. Hill's side of this transaction doesn't bother me with respect to his serving on the Town Council. He has done what he considers best for his circumstances, and I don't think it compromises his ability to serve me as an independently minded representative.

However, this situation has highlighted some concerns that I have about the Town of Chapel Hill's tax assessment procedures and the University's acquisition process.

1. The property tax valuation attributed to Mr. Hill's house seems awfully low to me based upon the anecdotal evidence of property values around campus. I realize the value is 3 years out of date, but my question is how does that value compare to what property actually sold for arond that time around that area? There has been some concern in the past that the Town of Chapel Hill systematically undervalues houses in some areas of town and overvalues them in others. I'd like to see the Town Council at least look at this matter and be sure that all property owners in Chapel Hill are paying taxes on a fair assessment of their property's value.

2. As a taxpayer, I am very concerned about the financial negotiations by UNC. The University's money belongs to us, the taxpayers, and I am concerned about how seriously they take their fiduciary responsibility to protect the taxpayer's assets. It seems on its face that UNC overpaid for Mr. Hill's property, as well as adjacent property acquired earlier. It also seems that UNC doesn't have a good understanding of the value of the assets it already owns, based upon its own "guesstimate" of the value of the Rosemary Street property. I'm concerned that UNC is not getting more favorable terms in these types of negotiations. UNC may think that this deal was essentially "an even swap" but the numbers published so far don't support that assertion.

Sorry, Alex, no sale on the theory that this family is part of the oppressed underclass. They are both professors at UNC. And I am aware of no state that requires any better treatment for tenants than was afforded Mr. Richardson. He has a lease which calls for 60 days notice (or so i read) and I haven't heard of any suggestion that they were not given due notice before terminating their lease.

I grant you that common courtesy would have called for UNC to be more forthright, but I am just saying please don't try to make that Cam Hill's fault. (That's not directed at you Alex.)

Cam drove a hard bargain and got a good deal. He didn't cheat anybody. He was not below board. And he hasn't done anything wrong.

My apologies if I am just being nasty (in your words, Alex) to Mr. Richardson. I feel like he is the one who is being nasty to Cam Hill - and for no real reason except an overall frustration with the situation. Seriously I apologize if I am making it worse for the folks who are losing their home. Please direct your anger at the people who have created this situation (they are in South Building; not on Cameron Avenue).

Okay. I swear I am going to shut up about this now. Really.

-A Voter

Man, this is getting nasty. While I think most of the hubbub and to-do criticizing Cam's role in all of this is largely unwarranted, as he appears to have been open and forthright about the transaction, I am baffled by the fact that some feel the need to personally excoriate Mr. Richardson for being upset that he and his family were unceremoniously thrown out of their home after being stonewalled by their landlord, after finding a parade of strangers traipsing through their house virtually unnanounced (The 'inspector' dodge doesn't cut it, in my view).

This is the sort of shabby treatment by landlords that tenants-rights activists are constantly fighting. In many places outside North Carolina, such behavior would not be permitted, but alas, NC statutes are heavily tilted in favor of landlords, rendering local governments largely impotent in this field.

One wonders if such blithe dismissal of these concerns arises from the perspective of those who have the luxury of being immune to the vicissitudes of the grossly unequal landlord-tenant dynamic. --How would YOU feel?



I agree that they were probably paying something less than what the market would bear, but I'm not sure it was so much less to constitute a "gravy train" -- that was my point. And, that I thought there was no way you could get $3,500 a month in rent at that property, unless C.D. Spangler decided he was sick of owning. E-mail me off line and we can continue this -- it's actually pretty interesting, but I don't think it fits this thread.

-- Duncan

Duncan, fair enough points on the valuation of rental property. I see in the Herald that David pays $1300 per month. Rent multiples as high as 200 are not so unusual in Chapel Hill for the reasons cited above. V=NOI/R is another way to look at the same issue. Regardless, $1300 per month does not imply a valuation of $350,000 by any stretch of the imagination. It implies either a) subsidized rent or b) a value below $350,000. I am sure that the situation is in reality A. David was being subsidized by UNC. And as for my point in saying so, I just think that David's real issue is that his gravy train is over.

And David, I am sure you would like us to believe that this is about the relative values of the properties, but if so then how does the fact that Cam did not talk to your crying wife factor into it? What exactly would you say if you went to see a house for sale and the tenant was there crying because the landlord hadn't told her about the house being for sale? I am sure it was a stressful experience all the way around.

Finally, I am sure that the University did what was best for UNC (ar anyway South Building's version of what's best for UNC). These guys are not dumb. Insensitive, strategically challenged, and heavy handed they are. But not dumb.

-A Voter

Voter, My posts had nothing to do with your comments, in particular 'it ain't your house....' I never implied or stated that it was.

My first post clarified two issues. Firstly, given the discussion of this topic on this website, I recounted the sequence of events as I experienced and perceived them. I stated that I was unhappy with both the University's and Cam's lack of communication with us, given our position as current occupants of the house and a family with a new baby. I stated that both parties had opportunities to communicate with us. I hope that I made it clear that the University was the party primarily responsible for being open with us and I did not feel that they were.

Secondly, I stated that comments about the property value of 412 E. Rosemary (e.g., $350,000) were way off base, in my opinion given my familiarity with the home and the area. The opinions that I got yesterday suggested that the house would be on the maret for something closer to $650,000.

My second post asked only for clarification on two issues. Firstly, I may not properly understand the tax map database; secondly, at our open house (at which I tried to increase the transparency of this transaction) there was quite a bit of discussion about the reported square footage of the property on Cameron being traded for the house on Rosemary. Again, I do not claim to know the proper response to these points, but rather asked that somebody clarify the discussion of these issues.

Thanks for response, nonetheless.


David, how much rent do you pay UNC to live there? If it is worth $350,000 you should be paying $3,500 per month or so. I bet you pay less than that. Why? Is UNC buying your influence? Of course not.

UNC makes financial decisions that make no sense to me - and they do it all the time. Obviously, it suits them more to have the land on Cameron Ave. So what? Your posts and your feigned indignation are inspired by the fact that you are losing your (almost) free ride living in the historic district.

You are losing UNC's largesse to Cam and you are mad. But why are you mad at Cam? UNC is the entity that sold you out. Even if you were more correctly focusing your hostility on UNC, I would still be fairly unsympathetic. It ain't your house and it never was.

-A Voter

Hey Voter,

Rents in this area -- across the board -- can't be figured by taking 10% of the value of the house. Historically, the expected rate of return on rentals has lagged property value by quite a bit. (This typically happens when you've had a boom in housing prices, which we've had.)

The typical way real estate investors calculate value based on rental income is to use a valuation formula, the most basic of which is:

V = NOI / R , where V= the value of the house, NOI = net operating income (gross rents minus operating expenses like maintenance, utilities, management fees, propertly and liability insurance, etc.), and R = capitalization rate, aka the prevailiing rate of return for a given locale and property type. If you want to figure out (roughly) what they should have been charged in rent, you need to figure out R by looking at other rental houses in the neighborhood and calculating their rate of return.

Get back to us when you've done the calculations. Have a nice day!

Could anyone clarify the following two points.

1) The orange county online database lists the 2002 tax valuation of cam hill's property at 606 Cameron Ave at $120,873; from where did the higher figure reported in the paper come (refer to http://gis.co.orange.nc.us/gisdisclaimer.htm)?

It has been put forth that the house on that parcel was, until recently, a small home of less than 1000 square feet. Onto this Cam has at some point recently framed a large (roughly 3000 square foot) structure sheathed in plywood or particle board which was open to the elements.

2) How much of the 3500 square feet reported is livable space (i.e., plumbed baths, finished rooms that are wired, windows, sheet rocked, etc.)?

Wow, David, all of that seems to me like important information. Has the local press contacted you about this story? Is this just a case of the local press not being able to handle investigative reporting?

Incidentally, Cam Hill has said here that he did mention this deal publicly back in October. If that's so, then that tells me that the real scandal here is not Cam Hill's potential conflicts of interest, but an incompetent local press.

Four points to make:

1. If UNC owns or owned the Rosemary St. property, we North Carolina taxpayers own or owned it; we paid for it and we deserve a straight story.

2. The only positive spin on this I can make is that Cam Hill learned how to negotiate very successfully with UNC and I hope the experience stands him in good stead once he begins his tenure on the Council.

3. The perspective shared by the current renter of the Rosemary St. property is instructive ref: process and content. Why the secrecy is what we need to hear more about from UNC. The timing of the swap, so called, is also of interest.

4. A house in the middle of a parking lot, across the street from the power plant, and in a high crime area isn't worth diddly unless the property is destined for an alternative use. This is reality, and we need only to look at Pittsboro St., and formerly rural farmlands. Or Cary.


Wow, David. I had no idea about this side of it. That sucks! I don't really know what to think about that except that obviously this deal had a higher priority for UNC than your family's well-being. Sadly, not very surprising.

(Have y'all found a place to move? If not, you should call Community Realty.)

1) Concerning whether discussion about the house swap between UNC and Cam was open or closed-- here is my perspective. I called the University's property office a half dozen times to ask what was going on? Were they intending to sell the house that we were living in? I was repeatedly told that they were not able to tell me what was going on. The University took the position that this deal would not be discussed; and, although we have a newborn and were clearly concerned, the Property office would not give me any information about whether we could stay in the house outside the terms of the lease (they had a sixty day notice period to terminate the lease). Cam certainly did not provide us with any information about the deal either. It should have been made clear to him that we did not know what was going on from the day that my wife arrived home with our baby to find him, his children, and a realtor inside our house. It turns out that the property office had left a message on our answering machine stating that the University was sending an inspector (I assumed a HVAC or fire extinguisher inspector), and that 'we didn't need to be there.' When my wife asked what was going on Cam did not respond (as, he has noted is his procedural right during real estate transactions) and the realtor gave her the familiar line from the University 'they were not able to tell us what was going on.' While she was crying and phoning me, Cam and his children went upstairs to finish by touring our bedrooms. The realtor apologized on the way out; my wife says that Cam did not speak to her. The survey crew that arrived a short time later delivered the same message. At this point, we started looking to move since it seemed that the house was being sold in some apparently secret deal. Cam may have made this public at some meeting, I don't know about that. He certainly had the oportunity to communicate something to us about what was going on; and, as he was standing with the realtor who delivered that line about 'we can't tell you...' he must have been aware that the university viewed this as a closed (rather than public) deal involving a swap of state property for private land.

In my view both parties had opportunities to talk with us about this deal since it potentially involved our losing our house. Neither did. It is not clear why, if the negotiations are fair, they should be conducted in this closed manner (refusing to answer direct questions about the subject, misleading tenants when showing the property).

2) Concerning property values: the comments above about the house being worth $350,000 are off base. That would probably not buy the land the house sits on. This is a 1932 house with hardwood floors, 2 fireplaces, 4 bedrooms, in good shape. As someone who has recently been house hunting in town, I can tell you that homes in the historic district (literally a four minute walk to the center of town) are selling for much more than that. I would say that Cam got a very good deal. His stated reason for the swap was concerns about crime and state construction projects surrounding his property. It would seem that those would work against the market value of his current home, if he were to have put his home on the market. In contrast, if in a few years time Cam puts the Rosemary on the market, I suspect it will bring him a very very good price. He is correct that the University wanted it, and he has likely profitted handsomely by it.


Hey folks, can we please talk about the ISSUES instead of EACH OTHER?

Granted, people who post anonymously (ie: most of you) don't have much a of leg to stand on when they attack people's credibility. And telling people what you think they think gets boring. So let's move on.

Looks like Cam's deal was approved by the BOT yesterday: http://herald-sun.com/orange/10-415805.html

"Hill's current house was described as having seven bedrooms and four bathrooms, with a total of 3,511 square feet of living space, on about one-fifth of an acre. However, those numbers apparently were based on the unfinished addition. The East Rosemary house has 1,716 square feet on about one-fourth of an acre, according to UNC. The house has been rented out [for] around $1,300 a month."

Looks like Rebecca Clark got a pretty good deal from UNC as well, she got $520,000 for two houses whose combined tax valuation was $297,000 and appraised at $480,000.

Wow! Who would have thunk it! This issue seems to bring out the emotions, doesn't it. I think I can see both sides of this, and it does show what happens when "labeling" is so prominate in a campaign and then people have reason to question some of the labels. I'll stand by my earlier comment and "advice" to Cam and I'll even be more direct: Cam, you can't be naive about what can become qrist for the political mill - be on guard and protect yourself!

e-p-u, to answer your questions, you are the one who suggested that it was a secret. You said it was "after-the-fact news" (see post above 6:11 PM 11/19/03) which is your disingenuous way of suggesting that it was a secret. You also introduced the word 'leak' into this discussion - for the same reason. You would like people like Eric Muller to continue to (ignorantly) fly off the handle about the supposed non-disclosure.

Mr. Hill completed negotiations some time ago. The BOT always has to ratify UNC's land purchase/sale contracts. That is why they are now considering the matter.

You would like to pretend that there is an issue here because it suits you to cause discontent. If you can sucker Chapel Hillians into believing you, then you can undermine the authority of the Council that we just elected. All very much to your liking.

This so-called 'after the fact news' doesn't change your opinion in the slightest. Neither you nor Mr. Muller voted for Mr. Hill in the first place. You say that some see it as a credibility issue, but the fact is that you HOPE some will see it that way. You are willing to be dishonest about what was in fact revealed in order to mislead people into seeing it as a credibility issue.

The negotiations were NOT on-going during the campaign and a final ratification by the BOT was all that was required. So give us a break, e-p-u. You lost the election. Get over it.

-A Voter

Dear "-A Voter,"

Good luck on your name guessing game, but that's not the issue here.

1. Who said the info was concealed?

2. Who said the info was leaked?

3. Who said it was a "secret deal?"

Cam hill indicated that on Oct. 10 he said at a press conference that he sold his property to UNC. That turned out not to be the case. Some obviously think that the ongoing negotiations rather than an agreement before the election matter as a credibility issue. If you don't, that's fine.

Also, I have no direct or indirect relationship with UNC, sold them no land, bought nothing from them other than a soccer ticket.

As someone involved in another campaign committee, I knew that Cam sold his property to the university long before the election. I also know that the press knew about it. Cam wasn't trying to dupe anyone; however, it's hard to deny that the press "ignored" it until after the election. This is an issue that the papers have a clear expection of exploring. Maybe there wasn't enough "evidence" to report on before the election, but I think the newspapers showed they were biased throughout the campaign. Maybe we could make a thread about how objective Chapel Hill media really is.

e-p-u, how about, in the interest of disclosure, you tell us your name?

Did UNC 'leak' this 'secret' about Mr. Hill to you? Or did you hear about it from Mr. Hill and company? If it was 'concealed' then how did you hear about this 'secret?' Obviously you were privy to the fact of this deal between UNC and Mr. Hill. So how exactly was it a secret?

Let's face it, lots of people knew about it and your complaint is that it was not an issue in the race. It was within your power to bring the matter up.

In fact, your 'advance knowledge' of this 'secret' deal can only mean one of two things, e-p-u. Either 1) you are Bruce Runberg or some other such UNC insider and are too chicken to identify yourself or 2) this deal was no secret outside of South Building.

I think it is the latter. You are probably Nancy Gabriel, Fred Black, Rosemary Waldorf, Jim Protzman or someone close to CAN. You knew about this deal a long time ago and did nothing more to raise the issue with the voters than Mr. Hill did. Am I right? I am.

- A Voter

ps I'll post my name whe you post yours e-p-u . . .

I can vouch for the fact that Cam was upfront about his negotiations with UNC. I heard him say this back in September.

As for the price UNC is paying, I think it is high, but it is consistent with the price they paid Rebecca Clark for each of the adjacent properties last year.

Your chief complaint seems to be that CAM did not make a big deal about it. Why would he have?

I am on the board of a corporation that negotiated to sell land to UNC this year as well. Sorry for not revealing that earlier.

-Mark Chilton



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