Commissioner Race Gets Going

Finally! I tell you this July primary business is tough on us political junkies. It was sad to watch May 4, which should have been the date of our primary, come and go with only the thought of an election in the air.

A few newcomers will be challenging the two incumbent members of the Orange County Commision this year. Since this is such a "liberal" community (ha ha) most of the excitement will be played out in the primary election since the Democrats always win the general race in November. (Anyone know how long this consistency dates back? Have I asked that before?)

However, we usually have one brave Republican (or Indepdendent/Green) attempt to challenge the hegemony, and this year is no exception. Jamie Daniels will be making his second attempt for this office. So far he has no primary opposition for the Republican nomination. Here is what I know about him so far (thanks, Google): he is 32; ran for commisioner in 2002; lives at 617 Sinai Circle, Hillsborough, 27278, 919-225-6795; served on the Technology Plan Committee in 2000 for Orange County Schools; practices Ninjitsu (The Art of the Ninja) at Hillsborough Bujinkan Dojo; and has almost no chance of being elected to the Orange County Commissioners. (That wasn't so hard was it? Ask yourself why this is more information than you get from paid journalists.)

Another recently-announced challenger is Democrat Pam Hemminger. According to the Chapel Hill Herald: Pam is 44, married to a UNC professor, has four children in the city school system, opposes merger (shock!), is an advocate of parks and of more public input regarding them, is a member of the board of Rainbow Soccer and of the Ephesus Elementary School Governance Council.

And the third challenger so far is Valerie Foushee, a CHPD employee and Chapel Hill-Carboro School Board Member who we have already been chatting about for a while now. She has not yet officially filed for office.

There are five members of the Orange County Commission, but the seats are staggered so that only 2 or 3 are elected every two years to their four-year terms. This year both incumbents - Margaret Brown and Moses Carey - intend to run to to keep their seats. I'm sure we'll hear lots more about them later.

Again, the Democratic primary on July 20 is the one to watch. We will have at least four candidates vying for two nominations. Candidate filing is open until this Friday so this could get even more interesting.

P.S.: You must register by June 25 to vote in the primary. Contact the Orange County Board of Elections.

Issues: 

Total votes: 406

Comments

no disagreement there Terri ---- no one should be excluded but don't forget the heaviest users...

Should perhaps the panels and commissions be limited to parents who actually intend to remain in a district after their child(ren) gradutate(s)? Parents with a long-term interest in the community, and not those who swoop in, want the best for their own kids for 4 years, and to hell with the district and the other kids once their own have a diploma and they hightail it out of the tax district?

"for the children" almost invariably means "for my children" come election time.

Believe it or not, there are many people with no children at all who have more interest in the long term status of the school districts (yes, plural, who the heck decided I was pro-merger? I am just pro-Orange County, thanks) than those who are parents in that system, particularly the Chapel Hill system swoop-in and bail types.

If I have said anything to "show disregard for certain members of the public or maybe a lack of understanding of the daily life of working parents with kids in the home" I apologize. I never intended to say that parents shouldn't be included on panels/commissions, but I do think a broader view on the impact of educational decisions have on the full community is needed as well.

This whole dialogue should have been started out differently and framed in a different way from the beginning.

I still disagree Terri -- I believe parents in both districts, particularly the heavily involved ones with multiple kids in and having gone through the experience should be on all panels, commissions and tasks forces. (not that this excludes anyone else from being on it -- just to exclude heavy users of any public facility is silly -- whether it be schools, soccer facilities, or affordable housing -- people who use them should be sought for any policy decisions. This ties into personality styles, governance, and how people feel... (and actually effects outcome - something we all care about.)

I guess I put a value on people who have first hand recent experience with the process. I guess Mr. Clapps frustration partially comes from things that are said by either the public or the incumbents that either show disregard for certain members of the public or maybe a lack of understanding of the daily life of working parents with kids in the home.

I hope liz brown is right -- "there aren't 4 people in the County who support merger" and "responsible politicians should be able to figure out a better solution than merger."

Matt--Thank you. Mr. Clapp started my day off on a negative note, but your support has cancelled out anything he had to say.

Mr Clapp--I don't see education as something extraneous to my life. I've worked in education for 15 years now and it is a real, breathing force in my life--not a social science experiment.

Normally, I would have sent this response to you via email because I do not feel this is the type of personal discussion that the group should be subjected to. But in this case, I wanted to publicly state that I feel people without children should and must have a voice in educational decision making. Education is not just about individual children/families--it's about the future of our community. Sorry if that sounds authoritative.

Mr. Clapp:

I've been away from this board for awhile, so I don't know how long you've been a part of this little community, but if you've spent any time here at all, you'll know that Terri is one of (if not the most) level-headed and resonable personalities who visit OP.org.

I think if you read Terri's post critically, you'll find the same to be true in this thread. More than anything else, Terri asks questions that need to be answered. I don't know of any reasonable standard that qualifies posing questions about policy as posing as an expect unjustifiably.

Further, I think you'll find Terri's comment about waking up on the wrong side of the bed had more to do with your attitude than the time of your post.

Just take a deep breath and relax a little bit...

-Matt

Mr. Clapp:

I've been away from this board for awhile, so I don't know how long you've been a part of this little community, but if you've spent any time here at all, you'll know that Terri is one of (if not the most) level-headed and resonable personalities who visit OP.org.

I think if you read Terri's post critically, you'll find the same to be true in this thread. More than anything else, Terri asks questions that need to be answered. I don't know of any reasonable standard that qualifies posing questions about policy as posing as an expect unjustifiably.

Further, I think you'll find Terri's comment about waking up on the wrong side of the bed had more to do with your attitude than the time of your post.

Just take a deep breath and relax a little bit...

-Matt

Mr. Clapp,

YOU are asking someone not to sound authoritative? What a laugh. I have stated repeatedly that I do not have children--in any school. I met Margaret Brown once and talked to her about something totally different from the schools. Why not go back to bed and get back up on the right side?

Terri

What a laugh? - - - Ha? Huh?

Authoritative, as in "expert," is how you've come across throughout this dialogue on school merger.

Your critical circular arguments contrast from Gloria's knowledgable assessment, and sound similar to the type of theoretical viewpoints Margaret Brown might herself express; representative of someone who has no stake in the real impact this merger threat has had on families. Instead, seeing our community as a sight for social science experimentation.

I'm pretty simple minded, which was been reflected in my posting on your criticism of Gloria's view. I'm hardly an expert (authority) on school merger and I don't act it. But I know the schools. And, I know the kids and teachers, in part because of my 'yes' answers neither you nor Margaret can answer in the affirmative.

I'm posting from China, so my posting was actually 5:45pm my time here; I am not nocturnal. It's 11:00pm here - Good Night...Good Day...

Terri -

It would sure be helpful if you would not post as though you are an authority on the implications of school merger in Orange County. Additionally, it would nice if you actually thought about what Gloria has posted, instead of looking for some form of intellectual arguement to support school system merger. Gloria actually know what she is talking about in this context, and I'm sure she is tired of explaining it over and over to you.

A few questions for Terri, the "authoritative one" (aka Margaret Brown apologist).

1.Do you currently have kids of your own in the school system?

2.Haved you ever had kids of your own in the Orange Co. school system?

3.Are you under retainer with Margaret Brown to provide reasons to justify school system merger?

You have made a point, Informed Voter.

I had been reading about things that Brown said that she did for schools and parks/rec. I figure d she did what she said. But, I kept wondering if she did all those things, how come a school board chair and park/rec chair was running against her.

You call "defining" as fluff. Some of us who work for living think "definition" is a pretty important part of getting the job done. Did you build your house without an architectural drawing? Ever hear of a project plan.

You say that you can stop working on something that was important enough to bring people/staff because it had to "do with the members of the committee". I thought public officials are supposed to work together with members of the public. So, if they don't like the members of the committee, they "take their ball and go home". So, why did they do it to begin with. Can't you call that other committee that Brown just called together is "a delay". Now, I know why these two people are running.

You are talking about 3 miles difference. I drove out to the site from Timberlyne. I took I40. I checked my odometer. Are you looking at your odometer or your gas mileage. I can't tell by your comments. My car showed 19.28 miles one way. So, now which number do we use. Does your car have wings?

Your circular arguments have convinced me where one of my votes is not going. Hint: the color is brown.

Just reporting the distance I measured, as I said I would.

As to a parks/rec/school board person running so therefore Brown has not done anything for parks/rec, that is the most perfect example of a circular argument I have ever seen. Perhaps you need to re-evaluate your criteria, as Brown's record on parks and rec and schools is outstanding.

Of course blueprints plans are important; but did your architect form a committee and get together with you 6 other people and define "carpentry" and "foundation" and "pilings" and "electrical"?

Had the committee taken longer, the argument would be that nothing got done fast enough. It's a catch-22. When the commissioners take the time to research impact, people whine that things take too long and the "will of the people is being ignored." If they don't stop to define terms, see above.

I am not quite clear on what you are saying about the committee, though - I was just pointing out that we have one person telling us what happened there, and it's clearly someone with a personal problem with Brown and prone to take the worst possible explanation and offer that as fact, as she did with her mileage.

I have a sneaking suspicion that you'd perhaps already made up your mind on the election, based on what's best for your personal grievances, but thanks for the conceit that I influenced you.

Ms. Faley -

I was just pointing out that perhaps an estimate of your two drives would be more accurate than the number that best serves your argument. Your highest-number-possible result is like everything involved in this race from nomerger - inflated, designed to distract from real concerns of the county, exaggerated, and wrong. Nice dodge on the question about whether you took 40, by the way.

Maybe the reason your committee neglected to complete its work had nothing to do with Brown and everything to do with the members of the committee? Or perhaps fluffy "defining" was deemed a waste of time that would - wait for it - result in a delay (which you could then bring up as a reason to dump the incumbents). As I pointed out above, that is a no-win situation.

You seem to have missed the point that what you raised were not facts.

Dear Informed Voter

I am not going to debate you about your car and its mileage with my car and my mileage. We have wasted two much gas on the issue. I suggest that we pass an ordiance that requires everyone who is driving there that they should drive your car, since it appears to be the way to go.

Just to let you know about the "Twin Creeks" thing. I was on the committee. I walked the land. I studied the topography maps. Listen to the land use reports. You can't fit a round peg in a square hole. As much as you try. The site is a very good location for a nature trail (in the hardwood forest area). The site could hold some excellant active recreation areas (as Pam has stated). The site could hold a middle school and elementary school. The site could also hold an school facility that might be a common facility for both OCS and CHCS. All of these ideas (actively talked about in the committee) would hold some very good value for the entire county. But, the site is not going to fit high school without negatively affecting the active parks and recreation areas. The high school is well placed in the southern area rather than 5 minutes from another high school in the northern area.

It was too bad that Commissioner Brown didn't want to complete the work of the facilities taskforce comittee. Another committee that I was a member of. Had that committe been allowed complete it works, we could have had a definition for "what is a urban school", "what is Smarth Growth standards", "what is efficient, "green friendly" building", "what is schools interlocked with public transporation planning". We could have had a clear and consistant agreement. Too bad.

So, understand that I am not just raising this facts out of speculation. I am raising these facts because I was in the room discussing them.

Oh please understand, Terri. I am not saying that you want to resegreation. However, I do want you to understand the historic perspective of what has occured in other counties when the concept of balancing schools (which would require movement of students) is not adddress and considered. When the candidates ignore that fact, I believe that they are not giving all the information to the public. But, I apologize if I infer that of you.

There is a issue that we do agree with and that is that neither you or I want to levy a large tax on OCS citizens. Placing 20 cents or 17 cents immediately (and that is what merger would mean) would signficantly impact many of the citizens in Orange County. That is why I believe that merger and equal funding should be seperated.

I only wish that the committee on studying school funding and the funding efficiency (which I noticed was mentioned by Commissioner Brown in one of the forums) was really happening. Sadly, it is not.

Thank you for your compliment, but please understand that I want to protect and promote the students in both CHCCS district and OCS district. This is exactly why I was working on two committees (right before the election) dealing with the issue of curriculumn collaboration.

I believe that there are very clear ways that both school systems can collaborate. There are ways that the two system collaborate now. We could build on those areas. But, I believe that this type of in-dept collaboration will not occur until we define a clear collaboration model, improve communication, define a definition of outcomes, and have OCS, CHCCS as well as BOC at the table. Sadly, the BOC did not fund that type of "nuts, bolts, and guts" discussion.

I agree that education is an important issue. But, you are right there are other issues in this county. I understand that issue very clearly since I served on the County's Human Relationship commission several years before I was on the school board. This is also why I believe that we need to step out of depending on a tax base that in rooted in a "surburb, bedroom" system. But, that can be or should be a topic at a later time.

I respect your decision on Tuesday. And I wish you well. Voting is a very personal decision. I support my candidate because I want the best for the county not just what is best for CHCCS. We each have our views on what is best. That's what make democracy a beautiful and magical thing (even when you lose an election).

One more point... when you are determining student projections you are not taking into account building or new development, you taking into a lot of factors including things like birth and survival rates. If you just depended on new development, then you would be incorrect because there is something called the regeneration of neighborhoods. This is when families with older children move out and families with younger children move in. This is why the projections use 5 different models for determine school capacity. It is not just simply looking at new houses.

This process was carefully considered in the land use planning committee that met to define SAPFO.

Regarding "quality of life" and busing, I again ask you look at the study from UNC and UNCC about the resegreation of public schools. If you look at Mecklenburg (after their merger occurred), you will find that clearly there was a creation of "poor schools and rich schools" that was defined across race lines.

I hope that you are not advocating for any school board not have "balanced" schools. I suggest that you read the report. It contains a number of individual studies from across the south that were presented at a two day conference at the Bill Friday Center in 2002. The evidence was alarming and distressing for the educational equality of students.

Gloria--I understand that merger could take place quickly, but that assumes a worse case scenario. You ask if I want to see the schools re-segregated. I think you know enough about me to know that I don't. What I want to see is equity between the two districts. I've said before and I will state for the final time that I am not convinced that financial equity is the same as equal access to opportunity. I don't know if merger is the best answer to assuring equal opportunity for OCS students.

What I do know for sure is that I am not willing to support a district tax being levied against the residents of Orange Co equal to what the much wealthier Chapel Hill pays without a great deal more investigation of the impact such a tax would have--both on the residents and for the students. Does all the additional funding CHCCS receives make a difference? No one knows that although many seem to think they do. Will such a steep district tax have a negative influence on environmental protection in Orange Co.? No one knows although many seem to think this isn't an issue. In the long run, will this tax bring about equal opportunity for students in both districts? Again, no one knows.

When I vote on Tuesday it will not be for candidates who support merger. It will be against candidates who have displayed, IMHO, a lack of understanding of the complex issues facing this county by failing to acknowledge that equity is needed and offer suggestions for how that equity could be achieved. A simple "no merger" platform is just too simplistic for a county commissioner. Education is an important issue, but so is protection of the elderly, the poor, those with mental disabilities, water quality, etc. I'm very sorry that this election did not generate a healthy discussion of alternatives to a district tax for solving the problem of inequity.

I appreciate all the information you have shared here and your passion for protecting the students in the CHCCS district.

Terri

It is not true that it will take 2-3 years for the merger to be complete. Merger can and has (in other counties) occured within an 18 months period. You might want to look at the historical evidence held on the DPI website about merger.

The commissioners can appointed an interium board that does not have to have equal or ratio based representation from both parts of the county. The interium board is not elected, it is appointed. At the time, the other sitting board are "lame duck". They can decide on hiring/firing, deal with moderate funding issues, but they can not really address long term planning issue of any nature.

Regarding the current capital powerpoints that you are directing us towards is not a definition of what projects have been actually approved for funding. In fact, Terri, that is why those slides say "funded and unfunded". If you refer the minutes of the minutes where the plan was discussed, you will find that John Link stated "this is planning, not a proposal for funding".

Yes, Terri the BOC has approved plans for elemenatry #10 construction (not road connection and water) in CHCCS, high school #3 in CHCCS, and the new OCS middle at Efland Cheeks. It has not funded the upcoming need for a new middle schools in CHCCS. Also, remember in looking at this chart that each of the project (not yet built) must be approved at each particular stage according the school construction policy set out by the BOC. This means that a school construction ordiance must be reviewed and passed. That affects all of the schools that I just discussed above. So, what you see as funded, those funds are not completed until each stage has been processed. What we all hope for is that the two boards have reasoned and logical discussion at each stage. Since I have been present at some of those discussions, they have not always been either reasoned or logical.

I will remind you that in the merged discussion (see website) that the general comment from county staff found in the merger document states very clearly that construction in CHCCS can reduced in a merged system to use any unused seats in OCS.

Regarding growth, a pattern of OCS's increasing growth over the growth in CHCCS is not found in either the growth projections out of Craig's office and Steve's office. If you would care to provide definitive evidence different from what has been already documented in both the OC planning office and CHCCS facilities office, please feel free. I will point that both of those documents which are defined as "10 year school projections" (for both OCS and CHCCS) are processed and reviewed every year by both school and county staff. Those documents must be defined and reviewed annually according to the definition in SAPFO.

Ms. Faley -

Interesting. But wrong, or simply misleading. Let's indeed talk about facts.

Stand by that driving estimate if you'd like, but why not at least average it out for the endless times you seem to post it rather then take the high number and only use that? Seems standard practice for this election to go to extremes. You did try and take I-40, I assume? It runs directly there. I drove the same car there twice and did average out the trip - to 11.3. And that's what I used, not just the lower estimate for maximum impact despite being inaccurate and misleading.

There has been absolutely no plan examined that includes any bussing at all. Shocking that two someones who are rabidly anti-merger - one of whom stands to lose a job if it ever happened - would claim otherwise. That report is nebulous at best - "based on recent experience" "probably" - no indicators that conditions would remain the same. Next, let's consult Pat Robertson for an unbiased report on prayer in schools, shall we?

This Twin Creeks thing? Who the heck knows; I certainly don't. Sounds more like an honest mistake that some willful obfuscation to me. But I guarantee that Brown would know exactly what you were talking about and could explain. Based on forum performance, I bet at least 4 other candidates would have to look it up...

As to the parks, I stand by my original post. I said this would happen. If an elected group takes too long in order to get information and facts, they get in trouble for delay! If they move too quickly, the cry goes out that no one was consulted and studies were neglected!

Let's review:

Driving estimate: one car says 15, other says 18 : you run with 18. Even typing it in all caps will not make this a FACT.

Bussing: two anti-merger people say maybe: nomerger screams 1600 bussed from chapel hill to smithfield!!! Lie, false conjecture, no basis in any relevant report. Nope, not a FACT. Not even an unbiased relevant conjecture.

Parks "delay": It's not a FACT. It's a red herring issue transparently designed to make people with no concept of how county government works cranky.

Your "FACTS" are fudged estimates and conjectures by folks who are extremely biased.

Did anyone else notice that all of a sudden Hemminger's brochure says "Does not support merger - at this time"? That "at this time" certainly leaves a lot of wiggle room for this "no merger" candidate...perhaps she thinks it might be a good idea down the road. If I were in the business of handing out FACTs, I would say "Hemminger wants merger in the future!" But of course, I know that would be mere conjecture derived from vague language.

Gloria,

I suggest that you drive that car that showed 15 miles and not the one that showed 18 miles for the trip to the soccer fields. It's got to result in better gas mileage and, as a fringe benfit, if the Sierra Club asks you what car you drive youare stting in the environmental cat-bird seat.

Gloria--isn't it also true that if the two systems were merged that it would take 2-3 years for the merger to be complete and that a new board of education would be formed? Isn't it also true that it's the board of ed rather than the commissioners who handle school redistricting lines? I've heard that within the next 10 years, OCS is expected to grow much more rapidly than CHCCS (based on the fact that the towns of Chapel Hill/Carrboro are nearly built out). If that's true then by the time merger was implemented, with a newly established board of ed, the bussing estimates everyone is getting all worked up over will be grossly out of date. Those numbers also assume that the only factor used to determine districting lines are raw numbers. I assume (but don't know for sure) that a new board of ed could decide to create 'quality of life' factors to use as part of any redistricting formulas.

Were the delays in using the bond money caused by the commissioners? When I talked to the CH Parks & Rec guy last week, he said it takes at least 18 months to get a special use permit. He also said the project cost was being shared between the county (whose money was available) and the town (who didn't have the money yet). I don't know anything about the other projects, but I think the issue of using the bond money is a little bit more complex than just passing the bond and going to work on the project.

For anyone interested, the current capital investment budget for the county is available at:

http://www.co.orange.nc.us/budget/CIP0405.PDF (unfortunately, it's PowerPoint slides)

Informed Voter

I have driven two different cars to that site starting from Northside entrance. One car said 15 miles one way. Onc car said 18 mies one way. I will stand by my statement.

Let talk about facts.

FACT/RUMOR: The incumbents claim: No bussing

Both school superintendents estimated that in a merged system the number of students to be moved from the Chapel Hill Carrboro school district to the Orange County school district would come to a total of 1400 students. The three schools already planned for contruction are included in that calculation.

Dr. Carraway stated that this information was based solely on available seat and did not consider other factors such as student balance (such as social economic class). Dr. Pederson stated that the recent experience in CHCCS indicates that for every student moved another is moved by the domino effect. "Therefore, the number of students reported here are being redistricted is probably about one-half of the total number of students who would be reassigned" The students will be moved from CHCCS to OCS because that district will have the empty seats.

SOURCE: Orange County government web site, POSSIBLE SCHOOL MERGER Entry for 10/17/2004.

Please reference the need for balancing school UNC Study on "Resegregation of Public Schools" and reference WRAL investigation report on "Equality in Education" July 6th.

FACT/MYTH:No projects delayed

Back in September 2002 the commissioner approved a bond funding plan for eight different parks and open spaces project, plus money for affordable housing and senior centers. The past May 2004 the commssioners canceled all the planned bond financing for fiscal year 2003-2004 because the projects had not progressed sufficiently. The bond sales scheduled in 2002 showed the commissioners timetable for the bond projcts because bond sales are scheduled just prior to the need for the funds. Cancellation of the bond sales meant that ther was a missed chance for getting historically low interest rates. Included in the 2002 parks plan were three projects which have not yet been approved for construction, even though they have been discussed for some time: Twin Creeks Park, Fairview, and Northern Human Services Center.

SOURCE: Orange County government web site... Adgenda for May 5th 2004 and June 21st.

FACT/MYTH: Commissioner Brown's statement to VoterBook that 109 acres at Twin Creeks could be used for a high school.

Only 52 acres was reserved for school space. The rest was either a park or for future disposition. The future disposition site was found to contain a significant hard wood forest, high elevation, and rock. Therefore that site was deemed unusable for a school site. The school site was broken into three seperate smaller area by Bolin Creek runoffs area that criss-crossed the area. This mean nothing could be built in this area or within in a 100 foot zone of that area. This ordinance is meant to protect Bolin Creek.

SOURCE: CHATPEC planning report to County Commissioners

Just giving you some real facts, informed voter

Just so everyone knows, the above "informed voter" isn't the original, from earlier this month. The recent posts are probably some kind of clever (!) ploy to denigrate someone who disagrees with 95% of this blog with insane remarks. Nice of them to take my moniker...but I am taking it back. And yes, this one supports the living heck out of the incumbents...

Ms. Faley - I drove the "18 miles" to the new soccer fields from Northern Chapel Hill. You were absolutely correct; it is not 18 miles round trip.

It is 22.6 miles round trip. It is 11.3 miles from Val Foushee's home in northern Chapel Hill to the new soccer complex. Thank you for pointing out that that was incorrect.

It's still not 18 miles one way, as some candidates would mislead people into thinking. Some candidates = Hemminger, as quoted from the Sierra Club forum. It's another No Merger.org lie, like the "1600 students BUSSED!" and all the rest.

Just wanted to get back here with that information as I said I would.

-The real and original and actually informed voter...

I don't know why you think there is a connection between being pro or anti development and the question of double taxation by the County. So I still don't get what you are saying. There is double taxation and therefor residential construction is good?

I wasn't commenting on residential construction. I was just commenting on the double taxation issue. It is much, much more complicated than the way you presented it in your first post.

To be fair to you:

You are right about the park fee in the county. It is not a payment-in-lieu system. It's just a fee.

Also, I am not at all sure that the Powell Bill funds that the towns get are really enough for all the cost of road maintenance.

BUT

I think you can show lots of ways in which we are taxed for services that we don't get. Some people never fly through RDU, but I can't imagine that all of that construction out there is really being paid for exclusively by airport customers. Likewise, the majority of all local people never go to any of the libraries in the county, yet we all have to pay for them. So what?

Mr. Geek

sorry i wasn't real clear on my points.I really didn't mean to upset you because I have somewhat of a different viewpoint on some of the issues. I'll try to clear them up and take time to comment on yours. You make some good points but I think I'll add to some of your statements.

Park fee. I didn't realize that the county had a payment in lieu for parkland. I'm under the impression that a developer has to have a certain percentage of open space. I think each time a lot is created in the county there has to be a fee paid which I think is around $500. If I'm wrong I'll admit it but check with the Planning dept. and I don't think there is an option.

My point on the sheriff's dept was that all city residents pay the same rate of county tax as the county resident. The sheriff's dept does not have to patrol inside the city limits. I think that's where most of the expense for the sheriff's budget is. Your absolutely right that the sheriff serves court papers but I thought that a fee was paid to the sheriff when they served such?? That brings up another question. For the schools inside the city limits doesn't the city has to patrol and respond if there is a problem instead of the county?

What you say about the landfill is right but I may add that again the town residents pay the same amount of tax but the towns pick up their trash and carry to the landfill then the towns are charged to be able to dump there. On the other hand as you say anyone can go for free to the landfill if you live anywhere in the county. It just seems like the county is double charging the people who happen to live inside the city limits.

About the roads.

I think you're partially correct . I think the money from the Powell Bill actually come from the gas tax and not the property owners so that could be from whomever buys gas in North Carolina. If you don't buy gas you don't pay any tax. And I think you're right about the Powell Bill money. I think it just helps pay for the maintenance

of the city streets. I guess those city residents pay for the rest.

It seems you and a few others are against any new houses in the county or city.You may be right that all these houses that have been built in OC really cost the taxpayers a lot of money. So what year do we want to go back to and not let anyone else into OC?

If we didn't have all these houses built in the past 50 years then we wouldn't have to worry about these tax problems. But then some other county would have all us to worry about and how to fund schools and tax rates.But personally I'd rather live here and try to figure out how we do this instead of saying that "ok I got my house in OC so we don't need to let anyone else into the county". This is otherwise known as I'm closing the door behind me.

Most candidates mention that we need additional commerical ,industrial and retail tax base in the county. If a company or business wants to locate here probably one of the first things they look at is if there are enough rooftops to justify there move here. My point Mr. Geek is a new house probably contributes more than just a tax bill. It could be your parents so you can help take care of them or maybe your children will want to live near you so you will be able to see your grandkids grow up.

I'm sorry if someone doesn't know what the hell I'm talking about but I'll be glad to try and explain further

Hope you have a good evening

Voter

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce has just posted the responses candidates gave to a questionnaire we put together and sent out. You can see the information here:

http://www.carolinachamber.org/news/full_story.html?id=46

We posted the responses unedited in the interests of giving the candidates an open a forum as possible to express their views more fully on the issues we raised.

Refutations of the notion that residential development, absent concurrent development in industrial and commercial sectors, pays its own way:

Wake-COCS http://www.ils.unc.edu/parkproject/maint/obj/WAKE-COCS.pdf

Chatham-COCS http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/wq/LandPreservationNotebook/PDFDocuments/chathamCOCS.PDF

thanks voter helper

Just a few other points. i do realize the figures you report but there are other points to consider. Not only do the new residents pay property taxes there is an impact fee for each new house.There is a parkland fee for each new lot also. In addition to property taxes new residents pay a fire tax in the county also.Something for those living in the city limits paying the same amount of county tax as others. The sheriff does not have to patrol inside the city limits but taxes are collected.The towns pay a tipping fee to the county for the trash they dump that they have picked up from city residents. The county residents don't pay any dump fee. The county does not have to spend money on the roads but the cities have to keep up their roads. And again all city residents pay that same amount of county tax. Does that sound fair? I agree strong commerical base helps support our services but the county has made it so hard for someone new to come in that they don't even try.

On top of collecting money from property taxes a new resident could spend money in the county resulting in reimbusiments from the state. Also for each new resident the county gets more money back from the state.I think they get kickbacks from other utilities also.

Another thought.When a person sells an old house and they have no kids then someone new could move in with 3 kids. Whoops we're in the hole on that deal. Maybe new residents and even currents residents should pay an additional user fee for their kids to go to public school. taxpayers with no kids are probably paying enough to the public school system in OC.

I don't claim to have all the answers but I believe we need new ideas from new people to tackle these problems we have. Everytime someone questions the current board they act like that person is crazy. They think they have all the answers and nobody else has any creditable thoughts.

We need to wake up. thanks for all those newcomers that are running.

Voter

As I read the many unflattering comments about a candidate on this thread, it occurs to me that something is amiss. Normal people ( and I know that I am assuming too much when I assume that all of the people responding on this site are of sound mental health) are pretty good at spotting a problematic personality in leadership. They cannot always put a finger on what is amiss with the leader, but on a visceral level they know the person has lost sight of the greater good. Read more...http://ceres.ca.gov/tcsf/pathways/chapter12.html#introduction

Informed Voter, what the hell is your point?

Many of the things you said are false or misleading.

“There is a parkland fee for each new lot also. “

MISLEADING: But, Chapel Hill and Carrboro have park payment-in-lieu programs which are similar to the County’s program.

“In addition to property taxes new residents pay a fire tax in the county also. Something for those living in the city limits paying the same amount of county tax as others. “

FALSE: Town residents do not pay the special County Fire district taxes and therefore do not pay for fire protection in rural areas.

“The sheriff does not have to patrol inside the city limits but taxes are collected.”

MISLEADING: The Sherriff’s department performs a number of law enforcement functions within town limits including carrying out Court orders such as evictions, judicial sales, serving court summonses (sp?) et cetera.

“The towns pay a tipping fee to the county for the trash they dump that they have picked up from city residents. The county residents don't pay any dump fee.”

FALSE. All waste haulers in the county pay tip fees when they take their trash to the landfill. Some waste haulers are towns, others are private companies. All county households may take their waste to the Solid Waste Convenience Center at no charge – whether you live in town or not.

“The county does not have to spend money on the roads but the cities have to keep up their roads.”

MISLEADING: The towns receive Powell Bill grant funds to help with the cost of public street maintenance. Powell Bill funds come from tax payers all over the state.

hey wait wasn't that one of the candidates that the INDY endorsed. Hasn't Liz Brown written a letter to the editor supporting Margeret?

See any pattern?

Did you read their statement "highly critical of the county commissioners, and her statements sometimes verge on personal attacks"? That means don't be critical of the wrong commissioner, Liz.

There has been a good deal of discussion about commissioners supporting the building of soccer fields in Mebane vs. Chapel Hill. So I called CH Parks and Rec to ask what their plans are. Here's what was said:

By Fall 2005 (possibly earlier) there will be a new regulation sized field available for public use at Rashkis elementary school in Meadowmont. There will also be a half-sized practice field next to it. The fields were built by the developer as part of the building permit. Both fields have been seeded but it will take about 1 year for the turf to be strong enough for play. CH Parks and Rec will take possession once they are ready for use.

There is a new park being built called Southern Community Park that is scheduled for 3 full sized soccer fields. A special use permit for the park will be applied for next week. CH Parks & Rec is hoping to build the soccer fields as part of phase I of the park development. Land for the park was provided by the town and development money is being provided by the county. It will take about 3 years for the fields to be ready for use. Turf takes at least one year to grow before it can be played upon.

Parks & Rec is expecting it will cost about $20,000 per year to maintain the 3 fields they already manage.

I know that this won't answer all the questions about the Mebane fields, but clearly CH is not being shortchanged. Haven't had a chance to talk with Carrboro Parks & Rec about their plans.

"Informed voter,"

Notwithstanding my voting intentions posted above, I can elaborate on IVH's comments about how local governments get stuck with the bill for growth costs. In two words: school construction. I don't know what share of this is borne by local governments, but it's enough that those annual taxes plus impact fees still don't cover it. Landowners and developers make a lot of money on residential developments; preexisting homeowners pay much of the cost to accommodate the new homes.

I just wanted this quote archived on Ruby's site...... for AFTER the election......

News Of Orange

'One candidate who has been labeled pro-merger by some people in the community and the press is Liz Brown.

"I am not pro-merger," she said, "I am pro-funding."

"I don't know four people in Orange County who are pro-merger," she said, which, she added, would make it difficult for four members of the school board to hold that position.

"I think a responsible politician would say, 'This is unpopular, let's find another way to do it,'" she said.' so any one for merger is an irresponsible politician according to Liz Brown.....

Jay--as I said, I am not voting for anyone who has formed a definite opinion on what should be done about merger. I'm glad to hear you agree there needs to be a more thorough investigation to the impact inequitable funding/merger can have upon our community.

Happy voting to you too.

Terri, I apologize for my disrespect.

I was quite angry at what I find to be the evasive stance of Brown. You have a complete right to your opinion. but, when you say that "fear is running an election", I respectfully disagree.

I read Brown's flyer on my doorstep yesterday. She touted "Initiated Smart Growth in Schools". What Smart Growth? Her committee didn't come out with anything except a memo from Craig Benidicit saying something about "parking spaces". There were no standard, no vision, no plan. This isn't speculation. It is factual information from the county. And nothing for guidance to the new Orange County middle school. Her statement was a lie. It is one of many lies.

She tells you that she is gathering information from the Excellence in School committee. But, the commissioner (including her) told that committee that they should not address merger AT ALL. It's in the minutes. So, what she told you was a LIE.

She tell you that she is gathering information about efficiency in the funding the schools. She tells that someone or a committee is doing this work and it will be done in November. But, if you ask the staff about such a work, you find out that there is NO work, there is NO committee. So, what she told you was a LIE.

People are tired of lies, People are tired of misrepresentation.

You said to research for yourself. I did. What I found shocked me. I found that a person that we are supposed to trust - lies. Lies about her car, lies about what she has done, lies about what she does for living (a farmer... a farmer raising what ). Okay, you met her for 5 minutes and you believed her. Okay, that is your right.

I don't care about merger. I care about truthful politicians. Frankly, if Brown is re-elected on July 20th (which she probably will be), I will have hard time going to sleep that night.

Terri -

are you sure you will not vote for someone who has a "definite opinion on merger"... Moses had the first and strongest opinion on merger of any candidate running for office as far as I can tell. He said he doesn't need to know all the answers publicly.. He would seem the least likely person to vote for if your logic is applied equally and consistently. Instead of the means to and ends approach he advocates I'd suggest people who want to take a 50 year out view of this situation think about the long term consequences of SAPFO with 2 districts versus one, what building boom on cheap flat land in the county might or might not be spurned by merger. What merger will do to opportunity for future first time buyers or low income buyers in the county etc...

The study that REALLY needs to be done is a side by side comparison of a county wide supplemental tax approved by the voters versus forced merger... considering non-tax impacts but environment and quality of life - like potential impacts on growth, suburban sprawl, air quality, the rural buffer etc.... What happens with the joint planning agreement expires? I would think the more kids that get bused to cheap flat land built schools across this someday will lead to its extinction if you take a generational view instead of a getting elected view.

sometimes the means to the ends do matter.

Happy Voting,

Jay

Informed voter --

Growth is actually a losing proposition for local government and will actually become more and more of one as DC and raleigh shift more and more funding to the local level.

if you do some back of the envelope calculations on property tax in the county - let's say .88 Cents rate on a 250,000 house that is only 2,200$ a year in property tax. Local school expenditure is about 1,500 per pupil plus, fire service, sheriffs, garbage, roads, mental health seniors etc..... homes do not pay for their urban or rural services. Strong commercial tax base helps more.

That is why things like growth are important for any long term planning decisions. This must be included in any fiscally sound decisions (as well as educational ones) I might add. One candidate said per pupil funding has only increased 2$ per pupil despite what sounds like a big increase for education when adjusted for the growth of the school systems it is actually very very small.

Ron--I have tried to be respectful of your opinions but evidently you don't feel a similar obligation. I have not been bought by Margaret Brown; I met her once and talked to her for about 5 minutes. As Jeff Vanke says, I think this election is about merger. Not because merger is an issue that awaits some kind of imminent decision, but because it has been blown out of proportion. I'm afraid fear is now running our local election, in much the same way it is running our national election. From what I can tell, any decision on school funding/merger is going to have impact on other local issues such as growth and environmental protection. While I prefer to vote for someone, in this case I have decided to vote against those who profess a definite opinion on merger. I want my public officials to study issues, to collect diverse opinions and all available data.

I just watched the forum on cable. For the incumbents to have the knowledge advantage over the challengers they have I didn't think the incumbents did that much better. I also thought the incumbents had a little of a look down attitude toward the challengers. Moses and margaret have served the county well but sometime there needs to be some new ideas from different people. I'm actually surprised we have as many qualified candidates as we do since the job is almost a thankless one.

One of the things that Margaret and Moses stated is that new reidential development does not pay its way. That is totally incorrect. There are just as many groups and studies that state that new growth does pay its way as there are ones that state otherwise. Look at all expensive the new houses around CH and the stunning high prices of some of the new subdivisions around the county and I think a reasonable answer is right there. There are many new properties in the past 2 years that are assessed at 300,000 dollars and higher. There is no way possible that these properties do not pay there way.In fact in the past few years if we had not had new growth our taxes would probably be even higher.

It didn't seem like the incumbents were willing to try new approaches to old problems. The challengers may not do much better but I think its time to give someone new a chance.

Voter

"Why does anybody care about what cars people drive?"

Gee, Alex. Why don't you ask that question of Sierra Club? They asked the question. Maybe they are concerned about the effect on the environment that some cars might have.

I thought that the Carrboro Alderman has had an extended conversations about reducing parking spaces, supporting public transporation, creating bike lanes, and reducing traffic.

Test - I cannot read the recent postings.

I view the rural buffer zone as incompatible with schools merger, for the social and environmental issues at stake in busing across the buffer. (More on that below, and on why pro-merger people in the County might reconsider what busing would do to school crowding and redistricting there.)

Here's my algorathim for how I'm voting on Tuesday (or Saturday).

1. Last November, Moses Carey referred to his candidacy as a referendum on merger. Notwithstanding his more recent attempts to recast the whole campaign as more multi-issued, he positioned himself last November to claim a mandate for merger if he wins.

2. Do I care about merger? Yes. (If not, proceed to vote based on other issues.)

3. Do I think that the candidates are close enough on other positions, or that their other positions reinforce my merger preference, so that those other positions do not change my merger-determined vote? Yes. (If not, proceed to vote based on other issues.)

4. What is my merger position? Opposed.

5. Why? Because money and circumstantial evidence (the third CHCSS high school location) point to growth solutions that will bus many kids out of town, across the sparesly populated buffer, to distant schools on cheaper land. More from me on this today at:

http://www.wchl1360.com/commentators.jsp

Corollary 1: With merger, OCS would import the growing pains of CHCSS -- more overcrowded schools, with construction tending to lag behind population growth, AND more frequent redistricting, as population growth occurs in clusters, not evenly across the county.

Corollary 2: For families in OCS but closer to CHCSS on the map, we might let them vote in an assembly of school-age families whether they would like to bring their respective developments & streets into CHCSS.

I understand and respect the arguments on the other side. But this is why I'm voting for Foushee & Hemminger.

Hey Terri

That "someone to audit both school districts in terms of programming, staffing, etc" you said existed. Or maybe it was a committee. It DOESN'T EXIST. I dare you to call up the office and find. I just did. I don't you will because you are bought and sold by Brown. After a LOT of runaround, I found IT DOESN'T EXIST.

There is the truth in politics that your friend BROWN has. I'lll bet she has swamp poperty that you would just love to buy. You can put a SMARTH GROWTH condo on it.

Wake up, Orange County. You want to keep believing a lie or want to believe in little truth. It's hard to swallow, I know.

This just in...The Chapel Hill News endorses Hemminger(!!!) and Carey.

I don't care what they drive but I do care about their sense of ethics. Why lie about it? If it was not a big deal then why not be truthful about it? Even to saying both vehicles if that is what she drove. And if she will lie so easily about something trivial what else does she lie about? Similar to the recent plagarizing mess with the Orange County School Board. Its a matter of ethics - simple right and wrong.

Alex -

I honestly (emphasis on HONESTLY) don't give a rat's a** where Margaret Brown lives, or what car she drives. However, I do expect, as most in the public expect, that elected officials will be straight and honest. Not instead, as seems to be a pattern with Margaret, to be someone who re-frames matters to suit the way she wants people to see her, regardless of the facts. Margaret appears to have a problem with the facts, or maybe she just doesn't like answering certain question. This pattern is a reflection of how she governs (i.e. defensive...non-receptive to the public...).

Consipiracy theory? Don't belittle the questions others have made by making light of what prompted the issue of honesty.

Lets review:

"Car-Gate" - At the Sierra Club forum (a reputable group), ALL candidates were asked what car they drove to the forum. Margaret Brown answered something to the effect of ..."being a farmer I drove my truck." WRONG - she drove a Lincoln Continental. Evidently, she thought that her answer would sit better with the Sierra Club audience than the truth. The question did not impress me, but someone in the audience thought is was important, and the Moderator for the Sierra Club delivered the question.

"Chamber-Gate" - In the Chamber of Commerce Newsletter submission, Margaret Brown stated that she lives in Chapel Hill, for 35 years! Impressive, but not true. She does not live in Chapel Hill.

Although my "Ken Starr" investigatory team had the night off, what Margaret submitted to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber Newsletter just stood out to me when I read it today. Remember, like the Sierra Club forum, which was on television, the dialogue in the Chamber Newsletter was HER DIRECT SUBMISSION. The statement of where she lived just raised a question with me, especially coming on the heels of the Sierra Club "Car-gate" dialogue she was involved in.

What gives? What should folks expect from a government servant? I'm least concerned with where she lives and what she drives.

You are a politician. How many stupid questions do you get asked by the public? The correct answer is, NONE. If someone asked you what kind of car you drove or where you lived, what would your answer be if the Mebane Sierra Club asked it of you? Maybe it would be: "that's a stupid question and I won't answer it..." But, it's not likely to be: "I live in Mebane and drive a Honda Hybrid."

PIN#: 9777615033

Property Owner:

BROWN ROBERT VN

& MARGARET W

Owner's Mailing Address:

1509 SMITH LEVEL RD

CHAPEL HILL

NC, 27516-3229

Legal Description:

#1 JANE H HUMM P83/20

Tax Account#: 231562

Assessed Land Size: A2.5

Land Value: $79025

Buildings Value: $17331 (built in 1938; 1103 sq ft)

Total Valuation: $96356

Prior Owners:HUMM JANE HARRISON

Date Sold: 04/19/1999

Tax Stamps: 57.00 (purchase price about $28,500)

Deed Reference: 1908/583

http://www.co.orange.nc.us/gis/

Alex -

I quite honestly (emphasis on HONESTY) I don't care where Margaret lives or what vehicle she drives. I do give a rat's a** about straight open talk and honesty by elected officials. Margaret has a problem with giving a straight answer it appears, and it reflects in the way she governs the County...mixed messages, confusion, animosity toward dissension...

From experience, you know that candidates and politicians get all sorts of questions, and generally they should answer the questions truthfully and patiently. After all, dialogue such as that at the Sierra Club forum and in the Chamber of Commerce publication are very credible. Hardly conspiracy venues.

Lets review:

At the Sierra Club forum, ALL candidates were asked what kind of car they drove to the forum...simple, right? Margaret said: "a pick-up truck"...WRONG. Evidently, she did not want to give the true answer because she wanted to make a better "impression" on the audience than saying "I drove a Lincoln Contenental." She could have even said "I drove an ancient continental." It would have been the truth, and a fine answer. And yes, it was a silly question in my mind, but evdiently someone thought it was important to ask, and the Sierra Club Moderator delivered the question.

Again, check it out. In the just released issue of Business Today from the Chapel-Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, Margaret very specifically states in her own submission, that she lives in Chapel Hill, for 35 years even. Sounds impressive. Now I understand from you that she DOES NOT live in Chapel Hill. Again, by saying what she did, she wanted to appeal (I guess) to the publication's audience by referencing Chapel Hill as her address.

What gives? I only raised the question of where she lives because I noticed it was a pretty obvious miss-statement. I had given my "Ken Starr" staff the night off, so lucky I picked-up on it. Someone else noted the car thing.

Don't make this out to be some sort of "conspiracy thing."

People expect straight talk. They're not stupid.

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