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.



Why does anybody give a rat's a** about what cars people drive? The level of this conversation has descended into something as petty and nonsensical as the dialogue in a Bunuel film.

Having said that: For those who feel the need to care about such trivia, Margaret, and her husband Bob have both an ancient Continental AND a pick-up that they use on their farm--which is located on the southern edge of the county a couple of miles outside Chapel Hill.

I hope that satisfies any bush league Kenneth Starr aspirants looking for something nefarious in such minutiae. Krikey!



How big does a farm have to be in CH?

According to OC tax office margaret has a little over 2 acres.

I don't think that's a farm by anyone's standard. I have heard she does something with a farm in Chatham county. Anybody know anything about that? That's OK but where's that info been? What does she raise on her farm? If it's horses then she should be concerned about the runoff into the creek near her. Does she have enough buffer? Everyone in the race thinks they are farmers or have been. Now some can make that claim but if Margaret is making that claim I'd be interested in what she is raising on 2 acres. Maybe she should have been at Barry's ag summit to help the farmers survive on that amount of land.That's all can respond to about Alex. I'm a real farmer and we don't know what all those fancy words mean.

Curious farmer

so Moses has raised the most money through June 30th.

How many contributors was this?? Isn't that a level of support not just total amount. While foushee had over 100 contributors no number was listed for moses -- why not?

The herald article in a very burried way pointed out that of the June 30th total almost 25% of his non-personal contributions came from just 2 people (2 $1000 dollar checks) who live outside the county and are apparently not relatives but business associates. What percentage of his total contributions are from business associates. What happened to grass roots?

Also, omitted from this article was the major donation from a well known local developer......

A question...does Margaret Brown know where she lives, or is it me who is the confused one?

I had always thought that Margaret Brown did NOT live in Chapel Hill, rather lived outside of the town as an Orange County resident; at least, that's the impression she gives (I mean the whole farm thing she talks about and many farms are there in Chapel Hill anyway?). She lists Hillsborough as her address in terms of the County's web site bio information. But in the recent Chamber of Commerce statement she released, Margaret Brown stated "...I've lived in CHAPEL HILL with my husband at the same farm for 35 years..."

Not that I want to know where she lives actually, but I was worried she might be confused or something. This is the same person who evidently can't keep track of what vehicle she drives. I mean, is it a pick-up truck or a Lincoln Continental; hard to get the two confused.

Most important is how she presents herself, which seems to vary depending on the audience, or perhaps the question.

Gloria, as usual you are a great resource. Thank you very much for that information and I will check out the GIS map. I just like to have as much information as possible to intelligently discuss the issues.

The Chapel Hill Herald's forum for the would-be Orange County Commissioners is coming up this Wednesday, July 14. We'll be in the council chamber at Town Hall in Chapel Hill and will start at 7 p.m. The forum should be broadcast on WCHL and Time Warner Cable. Folks in the audience at Town Hall will have a chance to submit questions to the moderator for prospective use. We hope all of you who follow this blog regularly attend, and will see you there!

Ms. Faley fails to point out that some of the property is privately owned and may not be for sale or if it is may be priced too high for the government.

Ms. Faley also points out available land at A.L. Stanback Middle School. Let me refresh everyones memory that the neighbors around Stanback raise all kind of noise when the Commissioners wanted to light those fields and the Commissioners backed down. In recent history neighbors complaimed about HYAA early (8 am) baseball practice on Saturdays and that was stopped.

On a related note both school systems and the governments have agreenments to use the school sites during non school hours. Even with an agreenment in place there are still hurdles that are offen times too diffcult to master.

Anita, if you look back at an earlier post I had on June 26th I speak of a missed opportunity for soccer fields at Fairview Park in Hillsborough back in the mid 90's.

Why do the people in Chapel Hill not want playing fields any where but there. How many blasted parks have ORANGE county tax dollars paid for and what public parks are near Hillsboro? They play ball on borrowed fields late into the night and drive way out of town. Are you only allowed to play ball or soccer if you live in Chapel Hill? Maybe more would play in Hillsboro if they had a place to go? The flea market is close to the new middle school and has many Hispanic supporting it. Maybe they will support the new fields.Where can you go shoot a few hoops around Hillsboro? The schools are locked up except 1. Fairview has issues with safety and drugs. Efland had a bounty hunter run thru with a gun. Northern Rec has carpet inside the gym and tainted drinking water at times. How many of you have ever been in the County Rec Centers? They keep building Chapel Hill Parks and what does the county get? More green space. Dedicated open land. Why not put park on part of the land the county bought near 40 and 86? Not so far for the snobs in Chapel Hill in huge expensive houses to drive. Terrible that they have to buy a little gas and spend a little time talking with their kids. Oops - I forgot those fancy SUVs come with DVD players to keep the kids quiet.

Why fuss about a few fields in the county when Chapel Hill will have plenty more by the time it is build. Sounds like the haves and the have-nots.

Good question, Anita. I have a few suggestions.

If you look at the county's GIS map, you will find several (smaller than 100 acres tracts) just slightly south of Chapel Hill/Carrboro. Land that is not in Urban Service boundary and does not have water (land that fits this criteria is significantly less). Some of that land could be on the J route (the highest used transporation route in the town). You can have parks without development by strengthing the UBS agreement.

I would suggest you are going to see the BOC come up with such an idea in the near future (because of the flack raised over the Mebane/Efland park... but, then there will be the problem of what will be left in the soccer fund after the money and work needed for complex in Mebane)

There is also land connected to the new school sites (both Rockhaven and Twin Creeks). Twin Creeks already has some fields planned, but why not expand on that idea. This was a suggestion made in the school subcommittee of CHAPTEC (planning committee for Twin Creeks park).

There is several areas of land in Hillsborough (that is closer to housing developments in both Hillsborough and CH)... Look at GIS map with land off old 86. Why not expand the land owned around Stanback? Adding those fields with the Twin Creeks Park could more easily fit into a new public transporation route that followed a denser population than Mebane.

Did any of you see today's Chapel Hill Herald? Mebane was discussed. New businesses (that provides tax dollars and jobs) are being built (but on the Alamance County side). Does this remind you of New Hope Commons? It makes one wonder why the Mebane/Efland site could not have been used for "green friendly" economic development (like it was slated to be). It would bring tax dollars to pay for things like public trasnporation that serves northern Orange County with a shuttle between CH and Hillsborogh. It could also provide jobs with a livable wage for citizens.

It might require a complete GIS survey with the coordination of several boards working together. Interesting concept. But, I am not a commissioner. But, I think this is what Val Foushee means by "work, shop, play, and live in Orange County".

Can I interject a question here about the soccer fields? The County Commissioners have to use a limited resource (money) to meet a lot of competing needs in the community. How much would the same facility cost in Chapel Hill/Carrboro? Is there even enough contiguous, affordable land available in CH/C to buy for this purpose? I've heard a lot of criticism about the soccer fields, but I haven't heard any information that another viable tract of land was available closer to CH/C and could be developed for the money allocated to the project. Can anyone steer me toward that information?

Trust me Patrick Mulkey's point was not that he wants to defend the current county commissioners.

Yes, Mr. Mulkey. I pay taxes (have for over 10 years). Yes, I voted for the bonds both times they were on the ballot. Just because I have a tiny used ugly Japanese car does not mean that I need to drive it everywhere I need to go. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Let's stand up for Mr. Mulkey. This is a man of conviction.

Here is a proud Republican who likes the placement of the soccer fields. He thinks that Brown did a great job placing those 6 or more socceer fields way out where they are. He sees no reason to have public facilities on public transporation routes. He wants to use more gas so that I can have more bike lanes. He is very kind. He drives his car with contentment anywhere he wants to go(including to those socceer fields). He will probably be out there every weekend after they are built. He might even play baseball on them.

I have been all wrong. Those socceer fields will be used with all of those SUVs in the 120 car parking lot We can turn on those lights at night to show off those SUVs. Think of the wonderful glow in the night sky over Mebane. We don't have to worry about the pollution to the envirnoment. What pollution? What "green house" gases? We have a socceer complex in Efland/Mebane area. Everybody wants it. Everybody will enjoy the drive.

I have been just been a foolish little city boy. I will put back on my "dorky" bike helmet, drink my snobby cafe latte, give my tax dollars to the businesses in the other counties, and shut up. Brown and Mulkey are just smarter than me. They are smarter than all of the other citizens who objected to this complex. I thought that I was worried about Bush's policies.

This entire interchange has been so enlightening. Thank you so much.

Chapel Hill/Carrboro are the only communities in this county that have public transporation. If public facilities are only built on bus lines, then everyone from Hillsborough, Efland, Mebane, and south Orange will have to drive their SUVs to Chapel Hill. If you believe that we need to reduce drive times to recreational facilities, then why not support the distribution of such facilities throughout the county? I really don't understand what this hubbub over the soccer fields is about other than the sense of privilege held by Chapel Hill/Carrboro residents. Like Ron, I have found this discussion to be most enlightening.

Another concern about busing from the commissioners.

I think if you check back when all the current county commissioners were pushing for the passage of SAPFO Commissioner Brown along with others made the point that some schools are not full now in the northern part and the passage of SAPFO would help because they wouldn't have to build new schools as soon. How would this help? I think the propsosal was that some of the children in the southern part of the county could travel across the county to fill the vacanies in those schools. And by the way SAPFO passed. So the commissioners may not need merger to accomplish some of their desires. SAPFO and merger may be close kin to each other. Just another thought for those concerned about the travel time for their children.


Yes Ron, I am that Republican who ran on 96. There are some who would like to see me become a democrat from both sides I expect. I have told a number of people that I think the commissioner's race will be decided in the rural precints. I expect the race to be tight coming out of the city and the turnout will be up in the rural area due to Keith Cook's plagiarize and lying. Then again what do I know I am only a misguided republican. The numbers will tell on July 21st.

I don't know where you got the idea I supported the incumbents. I believe in terms limits (two terms) therefore both should go including Dr.H., Alice, and Barry in 2 years. You see I think there are plenty of good folks with common sense who can be commissioner, school board member, and town coucilperson.

Question Ron, do you pay property tax on a house or vehicle? You speak of riding your bike but do you ride the bus that is free and is taxpayers supported? That bike lane you are on is paid for by those us who buy gas, so thank M. Brown next time you see her.

If you use that premise, then you must count what Hillsborough is building as well as Chapel Hill (both using orange country money and town money)

Next, you count up how many parks were built using Orange County bond money by region.

Finally, you compare population with number of fields in each region.

Just asking them if they have plans to build additional fields, does not answer the question. Just asking them are they are planning to build, does not mean they have the money to do it.

The numbers don't add up.

Mostly, I ride my bike (yes, a 42 year old man can ride a bike in one of the towns bike lanes) to work, shopping, and yes, the farmers market. I have even been known to ride my bike to Mapleview. I would suggest that SUVs are bad for your cardiac health.

But, a lot of folks dont have access to a car and might have a health problems that prevents them from biking. Would you mind telling me why public facilities being on a bus route is a bad thing. Public transporation is what of the shining aspect of Europe. Europe is where gas is sold by the liter. But, I guess you don't like public transporation.

Your name Patrick Mulkey sounds familar. Didn't you run for commissioner as a Republican candidate? That would be interesting since you defending a Democratic incumbent candidate.

But, maybe this city boy got it wrong. After all, don't we city boys just sit around and act like elistist.

There's an assumption in this discussion that the county commissioners alone fund and build recreation facilities. While in fact, the towns also fund and build facilities, including soccer fields. Just because Mebane is getting new fields doesn't mean that there aren't any planned for Chapel Hill, Carrboro or Hillsborough. According to Mayor Foy, there are two Chapel Hill/Carrboro parks scheduled to add on soccer fields before the Mebane fields are ready for use. Before everyone getts themselves more riled up over the poor environmental decision to build soccer fields away from the city bus routes, why not contact the Chapel Hill Parks and Rec department and find out if they have plans to build additional fields? (I tried this afternoon but the person who would know isn't in--in Orange Co or in Chapel Hill.)

Ron, you sound like one of those greedy selfish city boy who wants everything built on a bus route. Do you ride the bus to the mall, downtown, and to the farmers market?

Here's an idea why don't Chapel Hill and Carrboro turn their recreation and parks dept. over to the County then the arguement for these soccer fields in the city may hold some water. The Commissioners are elected to represent all of us including you and I. It doesn't mean we have to agree with them, because I don't.

Speaking of water the reason why the sportplex is doing so poorly is becasue of the pool. Anyone with knowledge about acquatic center will tell you they are a money pit. Oh, didn't Chapel Hill pass two bonds for the acquatic center and has yet to build it? The sportplex is privately run and the fees are higher for that reason. Yes, it does receive $400,000 dollars a year currently, and the commissioners are discussing buying it now. If they do buy it then you get to bitch about something else.

Hey, SD

All information in a public meeting is public record (according to state law) Also, why would one board hide it and another provide it. I think it speaks to "open information" and "keep the public informed". Here is something interesting I can even get hold of minutes from the Smart Growth committee. That was public meeting. HMMM!! wonder if we will ever be able to get minutes from the Excellance in Education committee.

About the soccer fields, baseball fields, and county offices, I would not be so irrated if the county had not spent a money on a "Smart Growth" committee that had NO definitive policy or outcome. After spending lots of money on a "Smart Growth" committee, they decide to put the bulk of the NEW soccer fields for the county out in the middle of nowhere on NO public transporation route. I see it as Brown speaking out of both sides of her month.

By the way, we do have county offices in Chapel Hill... Don't you know where the Southern Human services building is? Don't you think that all those folks that you already mentioned already drive down there? Brown was on the board when they decide to put it down there. So, if Brown is envirnoment friendly, explain to me what made that building a "green friendly" building.

So, SD you define why the Sportplex is failing. Why Chapel Hill is asking for an acquatic center? Why are people going to the Sportplex? This is NOT one or two fields. This is not like Fairfield. This is SIX fields. This is a socceer complex. Can I say that more clearly. I don't care about one or two fields in Mebane with a school. And yeah, a school that sits on 40 acres... 40 acres... and Brown complained during the Twin Creeks Park discussion because there wasn't enough schools there (3 schools on 40 acres.

Come meet me out at the 6 large empty fields in Mebane as we lament "gee, why isn't anyone here... it has sidewalks, lightening, and a soccer complex". Come join me and we can ride public transporation out to the soccer field just like we can ride public transporation to the SportPlex.

As we wait for the non-existent bus to the non-existent crowds, all that money will be gone and we can have another bond to put bulk of the fields where they should have been in the first place.

Some of that land could have been used for other purposes. How about providing jobs for Orange County citizens with a "green friendly" business complex? Those poor people that you talk about could use jobs that pay a livable wages. Oh that's right, Orange County is a "bedroom" community. Sorry, I forgot. Maybe Alamance can put up the business complex so that Orange County resident can give their tax dollars to Alamance or drive to Alamance to get a job. After working in Alamance, they can play a game of socceer. Oh now I understand the vision here.

You are right, Ruby. You pick people whose values you trust and people that you trust. "Trust" being the important word here. If they tell you conflicting information too many times, with Brown "trust" is no longer applicable.

I don't think I said anything about poverty. I also didn't make up Mark Peters address which is listed on as being in Southern Village.

And I think elitism is elitism. And having a special tax district to fund Scroggs extra would clearly be rejected by the great majority of people in Chapel Hill. So why isn't the same thing true for the entire County? I'll tell you why. It is because the majority of the voters are in the special tax district and they desperately want to keep it that way. But people never want to give up their race/class/ethnic privilege . . . in this case it is class privilege . . .

The state is responsible for funding schools and so are the counties. And I have criticisms of both. I won't vote for Mike Easley, if that is your point.

You guys can't argue that the public is unaware about merger. You have absolutely whipped people into a fury about it, so don't give me that. Also, if 85% of the voters do stay home, then what does that mean as far as Merger is concerned? Nothing at all except that none of the candidates are very exciting and/or that most people are satisfied with the way the government is run (or at least not SO dis-satisfied that they care to do anything about it). And I am afraid that will be the case whether the incumbents win or lose. So why do people say this race is a referendum on Merger? Because they wish it were a referendum on Merger.

But there are many other issues at stake. It's just that doesn't really give a crap about anything else . . .

I hate to do it, but I gotta weigh in here. "IncumbentsConfusingThePublic," you forgot one other reason the incumbents might win: people think they're doing a good job and they don't agree with the current throw-the-bums-out hysteria.

Personally, I guess I come down somewhere in between as I am voting for one incumbent and one challenger. Even if I thought merger was the end of the world, as many here seem to believe, I don't think the issue has been formally discussed or developed enough to know how people will or should vote about it. I'd rather pick people whose values I trust and hope they'll make the right decision at the appropriate time.

Is videotape of a meeting considered "public record" and fall under thoses guidelines? They also used to audiotape the meeting in order to be in compliance with ADA guidelines for the visually impaired. You may be able to listen to the audiotape of that May meeting. (but you probably will need lots of coffee)

Interesting that to some the focus of the Commissioner Race is primarily merger and the Soccer Fields at West-Ten.(why no baseball fields with the soccer fields) By some of the school of thinking here the next push will be to move the county offices, etc to Chapel Hill because that is where most of the population is and the public transportation. Then the citizens of Cedar Grove and Caldwell can just drive to Chapel Hill to take care of business with the county and to play soccer. Maybe they can park there car at the county office and even ride a city bus to the soccer field. (j/k)

wow - making up where people live?

That's high level debate...

Unfortunately out of 117 schools OCS is funded NUMBER 4 in local funding out of the entire state.

Take your arguments about poverty to another county they aren't true in this one.

A beautfful article about the OCS Superintendent in todays N&O about what a great job she is doing.

Why not take your argument to the governor - he is responsible for funding education it is a state charge.....However, there is nothing wrong with citizens voting to tax themselves more if the state doesn't do it well..

Actually I care -

If the incumbents win it will be for 2 reasons more or less of each.

1. deception -

neither incumbent mentions the word Merger in any of their campaign literature - nor have I seen 1 letter to the editor for either saying vote for me because I will merge the schools..

big beautiful ads don't mention, merger, funding or even equal funding. Moses' ad is paritucalrly notiecable for all these ommissions.

Now apparently merger was never on the table or off the table or whatever that means...

2. low voter turnout 15% or less of the people determine the election is good for incumbents

but yes people will complain any Casual observer who just tunes into the elections in the last week will have no idea merger even was discussed if left to the incumbents to publicize it.

The point is not where Mark Peters lives (but there is decidedly a Mark Peters who lives in Southern Village. My comments definitely deserve a response; you just don't have one.

Here's a thought for you: How about if (with voter approval) we impose a special tax district on Mark Peters's neighborhood (Southern Village) and spend the extra money on making Scroggs Elementary superior to other elementary schools in Chapel Hill. Because the special tax is supported by Southern Village residents, it is just democracy that they get better schools. Southern Village would deserve a better school because they would have voted to implement a tax on themselves. Does that seem like it would be okay to you? It probably does seem okay to you. Personally, I see that as elitism intended to ensure that one rich neighborhood doesn't have to help pay for improving all of our schools. And you would justify it by saying it is democracy.

Meanwhile you try to make this County Commissioner race into a referendum on merger, but what will you have to say for yourself if the incumbents win? You will say that it is unfair because it is in July and only Democratic party activists vote in the primary and the Republicans don't get to vote and blah blah blah. But it seems like democracy to me . . .

That's quite a plan, I care. The only problem is that Mark Peters doesn't live in Southern Village and his children don't attend Scroggs! As for the rest of your comments, they don't justify a response.

Fair enough Ron. I hadn't made up my mind about who to vote for until last night, so I appreciate all the effort you have put into getting the information you feel comfortable with. Sounds like you are a good citizen even if we don't interpret the situation in the same way. Since you have put so much effort into your decision, I would be curious to know who you think will do a better job than Brown and why.

Since I am a Democrat, I will vote for the Democrat challengers based on:

1) concerte governmental experience including working well with other agencies (such as town, park/rec, APS, and state)

2) good platforms on several issues

a)economic development

b)defining a clear definitive governmental process

c) creating a more cohensive community

3)their actions/words at the forums.

4) reputation of serving the common good rather than special interests.

I may vote for two or only one. I have completed that decision at this point. As I have describe above, these important items have been failures on the part of Brown.

Regarding actions/words at the forum, it is important in the forums that a candiate listen to question, treat the audience with respect, and answer the question in a forthright manner. Answers should not be clouded with conflicting messages. Answers should be backed up with definitive factual evidence.

So far I have not been disappointed by two specific Democrat challengers.

I hope that answers your question.

Interesting that you say to contact county office about more information. I did call the staff about some of this information. I am not foolish enough to depend on a website. But, thanks for the suggestion.

I even asked for the video tape from one of the May meetings.

It appears that there have been some items that Brown said that were not captured in the minutes.

The answer that I recieved was that we don't give that out to the public. I was amazed ....This is public information. As I understand it there are other boards that provides the public to their video taped meeting. It made me wonder even more what was behind the curtain.

Your " investigate the access students have in each district to elements that constitute a quality education" definition is not applied anywhere in the country documentation that I can see. Are these committees so poorly defined that anyone and everyone can interrupt it any way that they want? Okay, let's accept your definition (sounds like it is as good as any in the shifting sand). What does that definition have to do with investigating merger or not merger? Why does Brown keep saying I am waiting for this committee to give its report before I decide? Aren't the school board supposed to be doing the job of that committee? Don't the school boards and commissioners ever talk about what happening?

The definition of another committee that "audit both school districts in terms of programming" should be a regular process for a county commissioner on a regular basis. What they are deciding to do that now like it is some new idea? Why did merger give them the bright idea to do that? Was their heads in the sand? Don't they talk to other commissioners about proper process?

Like I said, I don't know, don't care about or or The information does not match up and the process and definition of the process moves every hour. I hope that the committee will be forthright in exactly what they found out. Like I said, I still can't find anything that came out of the "Smarth Growth" committee that was reported about in the paper last year.

Regarding fields, I am not debating that there are fields being built in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. I am talking about the difference in the numbers (you say Efland/Mebane are the only fields in the North, that's not true), cost, and location. Didn't you read the recent Chapel Hill Herald editorial about the problem with Sportplex was that it was "too car dependent". So, it "could not survive". Brown didn't learn from that mistake, so she is going to support putting a lot of money into the same bad idea. Are we going to order all socceer players to use that field whether they like it or not?

But, I should vote for a candidate that moves defintions and data like "peas under a pot". Thank you... no.

You guess you can stand by your candidates, Terri. Some of us were not sure about who to vote for. I am glad that "nearly everyone has already made up their mind". Some of us take more time by reading, listening, and asking questions. But, I guess you are right. Now after watching this, I did make up my mind that I am not voting for Brown. I deal with facts every day and I hate facts being confused with fiction.

Ron--I think it's great you did so much investigation, but what you are reporting back on merger is not accurate as I understand it. What the current commission (not just Margaret and Moses) have done over the past two years in terms of equalizing funding was stimulated by Moses Carey throwing down the gauntlet and saying that the inequity could not be overlooked any longer. He used merger as the gauntlet to stimulate action. It was perhaps a drastic threat, but the problem had been known and not acted up for nearly 20 years. Since that retreat, the commissioners have taken the following actions:

1. Ask the county staff to come up with a *plan* for what it would take to equalize funding through a district tax. There are a couple of scenarios provided by staff.

2. Hold three public hearings to get citizen input on the concept of merger.

3. Contract with someone to audit both school districts in terms of programming, staffing, etc. (I believe this is due in November)

4. Contract with the UNC School of Ed to investigate the access students have in each district to elements that constitute a quality education. This is due in November.

From my perspectives, this looks like a triangulation of data upon which the commissioners can then decide if they have sufficient data to move forward or whether they need more and if so, what. As someone said, merger is a complex decision and shouldn't be moved on without thorough investigation. I would add that creating a new and steep tax is equally complex and before jumping into that, we need to know whether or not it will make a difference in the quality of education Orange County children will receive. I personally am thankful to those commissioners who did not vote to pursue the district tax last year--an action I would have seen as equally drastic to the threat of merger that Carey threw out. However, you should keep in mind that the commissioners also didn't take the easy way out and reduce the city tax for CHCCS which would have also helped to equalize funding. Instead of taking direct action, they decided to gather data on the issue (which should have been done 15 years ago, but that's another story).

Looks to me like the commissioners are looking at the issue of how to equalize funding from multiple perspectives (taxation, equity, access, legal requirements of merger, parental and staff input). You're absolutely correct to say that the dates for all these reports are too late to help citizens make voting decisions on July 20, but from listening to the contributors to this forum, nearly everyone has already made their decisions anyway.

Basically, it's my perception after asking a lot of questions and reading as much as I can that the heat around the threat of merger is being kept alive by groups such as NoMerger.Org rather than as an imminent political move by any of the commissioners.

The only reason I asked Margaret Brown about the Mebane soccer fields when I met her last night was to find out if the reports posted here were accurate. At best what has been written here is incomplete. For example, based on what I read in this forum it sounded like Mebane would be the only site for any new soccer fields. From Margaret (and Kevin Foy) I learned that multiple new fields will be built in Chapel Hill/Carrboro, before the Mebane field is completed. I don't really care about soccer fields to be honest, so I didn't question either politician any further. I would suggest that you contact someone in Parks & Rec or the county managers office directly if you want more details rather than relying exclusively on the Orange Co website. I know the IT staff in Orange Co are doing their best with the website but it isn't always up to date. I would also suggest that you ask for additional information about the $500,000 figure for clearly the Mebane field site--that sounds more like the total cost of clearing for the entire school/services site to me. I apologize for any inaccuracies in my numbers--my interest in the soccer fields, as I said earlier, is in the accuracy of the reporting rather than in the details of the plan.

What a plan--let's add a new tax to the Orange Co residents without having any idea whether the additional $13 million going to CHCCS is being used efficiently/effectively. Margaret Brown has taken the initiative to get details about what is happening in the schools before taking the reactionary step to raising taxes. Democrats are always being accused of raising taxes needlessly. Here's one who is trying to be thoughtful and considerate of the low to moderate income residents of this county while still fulfilling her obligation to the children of the county.


The motion by Gordon would have much more benefit to the OCS district, and minimal benefit to CHCCS. Brown stated in a letter published in the Chapel Hill Herald on July 7th, “Everyone agrees that there is inequity in funding” and yet would not second the motion.

According to the county (BOC) website, Brown's comittee "to get details on merger" is defined as "find areas of collaboration between the school that would benefit students in the town and the county". There is no mention of merger in either its goal or its charge. In the website, you will find no mention of how this committee is investigating the details of merger. According to the website, there is no timetable for gathering information about merger or the presentation of information about merger. According to the BOC website, there are no consultants or members of the committee that can provide research and academic information on the affects of the merger on either economics or education (specifically historical data from other areas.. which to me would be valuable).

According to the BOC website (that contains signficant merger information gathered in 2003) about a proposed merger, there must be an immediate equalization of funding between the two districts. According to state law, funding must be set at the higher level (whether that money is being used efficiently or not). Yes... the merger would create a immediate increase in tax for county residents. According to the BOC website, there is no timetable for Brown's committee to receive, digest, or discuss the merger information gathered in 2003 or 1985. So, where is this compassionate study of merger for the sake of Orange County residents?

According to the BOC website, the committee starts in June and ends in November. How is that time to study merger not to mention how is that time to find out how to collaborate? According to the BOCC website, no school board members are on the committee (that is just plain insane... talk about no conversation between interested parties).

I do research for a living. This committee's structure, timetable, or definition appears to have nothing to do with gather sound information to "make a decision about merger". Frankly, as a voter I am insulted. Does Brown think I'm stupid?

But, you know I read the information about Smarth Growth on the BOC website and also from NC website. Brown puts together a committee to "define guidelines about Smarth Growth" in 2003. In 2004, all I find that Brown ever did was to define number of parking spaces at one school. I don't see any comprehensive guidlines for the country anywhere.

Terri, you said Brown told you that "merger is not on the table". According to the BOC website, they did a LOT more than what you claim that Margeret told you in 2003. You say she is doing this study. Are you talking about the "Education in Excellance" study? Are you saying that she is doing the study to investigate merger or not? She is certainly saying that in the newspapers.

According to the BOC website, the Mebane/Efland park is 100 acres (40 acres need for the middle school - much more than any other middle school built in the town, 60 acres for the park - much more than any other socceer fields built in the town). According to the BOC and planning committee documentation, the park will contain between at least 5 to 6 socceer fields. Terri, you said "A field". Terri, this is a LOT more than "A field".

According to the BOC website, there are additional practice fields planned for Hillsborough (see FairField Park planning). According to the BOC website, checking the number of fields at FairField and Mebane/Efland to the number of fields placed at Southern Communty and Smith Middle School parks, there are more fields planned to placed in the county. According to BOC and Planning committee documentation, the estimated clearing cost for the Mebane/Efland fields will cost over a half of million. According to the BOC website, those fields will include 120 parking spaces, sidewalks, and lighting for night games.

I am a voter. I don't have children. I didn't really care about merger. Merger is not an issue for voting for me. I investigated and studied the facts from the county documentation. I don't like politicians who shift to the left and shift to the right. Thanks for telling me to investigate, Terri. Now, I am not voting for Brown. I don't like double talk. I don't like shifting politics. I don't like being played for a fool. I get that enough with Bush.

> What I find incredible is that the people most upset with the funding

> disparity are the same people who support Brown and Carey, even

> though those commissioners (not the Chapel Hill residents) are the ones

> directly responsible for this discrepency.

And on June 21st, Margaret Brown and Moses Carey would not second a motion by Alice Gordon which would have started to address this funding disparity by slightly raising the property tax and slightly lowering the city district tax. This was one of three alternatives outlined by John Link in which the commissioners can immediately start addressing the funding differences in the county. The tax impact was a fiscally responsible, minimal first step, especially compared with the immediate 25% tax increase which would be required in the OCS district with merger without a public referendum which is customary with far smaller tax increases.

History repeats itself.


In a Herald article and letter today, Brown states that the busing figures are being made by anti-merger folks. Yet the busing figures are clearly documented in reports which can also be found on the county website with the document titles “Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Response to BOCC follow-up questions” ( and Orange County Schools Response to BOCC follow-up questions ( )

I listened very carefully last night to Moses Carey and Margaret Brown's explanation of the history of the funding discrepency at a forum. As they explain it, in 1986 when the School Merger Study Report was completed, the difference in funding, due to the district tax, was about 3 million dollars. During the next 18 years the property values grew faster in Chapel Hill rapidly, causing the district tax revenue to grow as well. It skyrocked in the past 7-8 years, causing the almost $13 million difference we see today. That means that the funding disparity exploded during Carey and Brown's terms in office while they sat back and did NOTHING to increase OCS funding! What I find incredible is that the people most upset with the funding disparity are the same people who support Brown and Carey, even though those commissioners (not the Chapel Hill residents) are the ones directly responsible for this discrepency. This doesn't make sense to me. It's time for a change on the BOCC. Hemminger and Foushee will work hard to increase the funding for OCS, where Brown and Carey have failed.

I asked Margaret Brown directly about two issues this evening. First, what did she mean that "merger is not on the table?" She replied that there is no motion, no nothing for the commissioners to act upon. Moses Carey made the proposal to investigate merger as part of a planning meeting and so the commissioners sponsored the three public meetings and they contracted for the finance study (of both districts) and the access study (UNC SOE). That's it. There is nothing to vote on, no action required.

I also asked her why the commissioners funded a soccer field in Mebane instead of closer to the more populated portions of the county. It appears there have been a number of fields funded right here in Chapel Hill/Carrboro (Southern Park and one other place) that will be built before the Mebane fields. The Mebane field was planned as part of the new middle school, so there will be some economies of scale in building it. Seems like soccer fields can cost up to $50,000 if the terrain requires a lot of leveling, deforestation, etc.

I found Margaret to be someone who believes in the value of studying a problem rather than jumping to a solution before the problem is clearly delineated.


The June 9th forum for Orange County Commissioners that

was sponsored by the Sierra Club will be rebroadcast

on the People's Channel, Channel 8 in Chapel Hill The times are

8pm on Weds, July 14th, and twice on the following day

at 8am and 2pm. I'm not certain if or how the broadcast

reaches Carrboro or the rest of the county.

I'm looking for margaret brown's credibility has anyone seen it?

"on the table" is a very confusing phrase. In American parliamentary law, being "on the table" means something is DEAD, while in British Parliamentary law it means it is ALIVE. (there is a story from WWII that at a British-American military meeting about LendLease, the Americans brought up a proposal, the British delegation moved to "place the item on the table", and then the American delegation stormed out in anger.) But even in America, when you say an item is "on the table" for negotiations or discussion, it means it is alive. Have I confused everyone enough?

teacher/mom asked:

> Could someone define what it means to be "on the table"? defines "on the table" as "able to be negotiated or arranged by compromise". Most citizens likely consider "on the table" to mean that an item is being considered. Certainly, by this definition, calling 3 public hearings would certainly qualify as being "on the table".

However, Roberts Rules of order defines "on the table" as a formal motion was made. This is the technicality being used to make it sound like possible merger was never brought before the public for discussion. I find the recent usage of "on the table" to be a disingenuous use of semantics.

Moses and Margaret stated last night at a forum that "merger was not on the table and has never been on the table". Could someone define what it means to be "on the table"? They've had 3 public hearings on the subject, John link has compiled pages and pages on information on the matter, both school systems were ask to compile a boatload of information on the subject, several commissioners have put forth proposals. Moses called for a commissioners vote on Feb 12 in his Nov. 11 proposal and requested merger be put on the ballot in his Dec. 9 proposal If that's not "on the table" than what is?

Ms Bolduc

Just a comment about what you said about Steve Halkiotis and his upcoming retirement. Mnay reporters and writers along with many other people make the statement about someone "giving their career or professional career"to something or somebody.

That is totally incorrect and very misleading in making that claim..

In Steve Halkotis's case he probably gave some of his time while on the Board of County Commissioners even though he is compensated to some degree. But Halkiotis while employed by the school sytem he has maded a comfortable salary first as prinicpal, then as a supervisor?? The last I heard he was making over 90,000 dollars a year plus benefits.A little different from "giving". His choice like others are to be employed by someone and I'm not critizing Steve for his work but many times things are written just like you did and say they gave when that's totally inaccurate.


For the record, I am not "employed" by either Margaret Brown or Steve Halkiotis. I have agreed to donate web space to Margaret Brown for her campaign and will do so for ANY Orange County political candidate, regardless of party. My son designed the look of Margaret's site, but the content is all hers. I made this contribution before the Herald-Sun set up the candidate blogs. Frankly, I think that's a much better tool and easier for the candidates to use.

Steve Halkiotis' site is also donated and is not a political site ... it is established to collect commemorative letters for his upcoming retirement after giving his entire professional career (over 30 years) to the Orange County School district. I respect that. Sue me.

I am confident, by the way, that either Susan or Steve Halkiotis would easily tell you of the many times I have criticized either or both of them in my column. I think Margaret has been a good public servant, though I don't always agree with her. So what? That's politics. I had an interesting interview with the Halkiotises in an upcoming edition of "The Special Hour" on WCHL. It will air sometime this month. There's no yelling or chair throwing, so perhaps it will disappoint my anonymous critic. Naturally, I don't care much about disappointing those who take anonymous shots from the cheap seats.

The Herald is aware of the donation to the Brown campaign and I have agreed to not write about her campaign or positions. I'm not a reporter and not on staff. There is nothing unethical about donating this service anymore than there would be in allowing a politician to use your photocopier. Effectively, I'm providing toner and paper. That's all.

And one more thing ... it's Pen & Inc, not Pen & Ink

Thank you for the clarification, Terri.

I can only say that I have observed Valerie for a long time as she has worked with other governmental bodies and I can simply tell you that she is thoughtful, calm, respectful to feedback/conversation, and works very hard to find common ground.

Please know that I appreciate this interchange.

Clarification: I never said "you can not inprove communication because the issue is too complex." I said it's going to take more than 2 new commissioners to make a change. I do not agree with your implication that two individuals are to blame for poor communications from an elected board. I also said that the communications from the CHCCS school board is not very effective so I'm not sure why Foushee would make that one of her agenda points.

To look a little deeper into the issue of communications, I think we all need to take responsibility when communications fail. Citizens are responsible for asking good, probing questions rather than jumping to conclusions or jumping onto bandwagons without the facts. That's been my spiel on this board for months. We also need to hold our elected officials responsible for answering those questions and for making strategic decisions. Why did the soccer fields get placed so far away from the major residential areas of Orange Co? Were the commissioners simply being arbitrary or did they have a rationale that is not acceptable to you? I have no interest in soccer fields to be honest so I haven't followed the discussion. I do recall one discussion from this forum in which land prices were discussed.

> The web sites of two candidates were registered by the same individual ...

All this tells me is that in the best grassroots tradition, a citizen was able to personally support 2 candidates on his own $7.50/month hosting account which allows a handful of domains to be hosted at no extra charge.

Clearly I registered those domains knowing that the records are open and that the's IP address could be correlated. The candidates were so advised. Also, the candidates are reporting the trivial gift-in-kind.

After all, I have been getting spam from spammers who harvested my whois-specific email addresses for domains I registered since about the time Al Gore invented the internet! ;-)

Paul Jones said...

> Glad someone can use whois ;-> But seriously this seems

> to be no secret, at home page, both

> sites as well as several schools sites are listed as being

> there with nice links. Obviously Mark Peters has a

> position in the race and candidates he supports. His

> postings here and his site hardly attempt to keep that

> hidden.

right on.


After reading about the exchange between house 50 candidates I'm not sure if we should succeed or not. Faison accused Jacobs of a push poll. Jacobs denied that he did it but then turned around and asked where was it untrue. Jacobs even accused Faison of doing the push poll himself. Now that's an interesting approach.Jacobs has critized Faison of being a successful lawyer. I thought that's what we were trying to do for the kids. To teach them to be successful. But isn't Jacobs wife an attorney also. Maybe she's just not as successful. It seems to be OK to be an attorney just not a real good one.

Wonder what next will transpire in this race?


Clarification for Terri

1) Collaboration between the school system stared long before 2 years ago. There was increased conversations/work about different types of collaboration over the past 5 years. Those conversations were initiated by the school boards.

2) The commissioner did not support the initiative that I mentioned earlier (that includes funding). Remember the school system has no funding on its own, it only has what the commissioners give them. Also, as stated previously, the request was to establash a communication model and collaboration plan. This request included the participation of the commissioners in conversation with the school boards. Why would that be a bad thing? Good question to ask them.

3) You are right. Moses show political courage to stand by his stand on merger. I find Margeret's position to be evasive and lacking in political courage. But, as you stated this election to me is and should be more than one issue. It is about a lot of issues. One of them is communication and good government. I am supporting candidates that address a number of needed issues. I ask you to look at my earlier posts (which were much more than just about merger).

I respectfully disagree with idea that you can not inprove communication because the issue is too complex. If the commssioners' have a history of having difficult communication with other governmental bodies as well as citizens, that is the issue that falls on the shoulders of the incumbents. Any incumbent on any board is responsible for communication. This is a fact that I know very well. Good communication and a good working relationship between boards is a two way street. I have this sense that you only blame one side (forgive me, I am incorrect in my assumption of your statements).

Besides the school system, the next example is to look at the item that I raised earlier dealilng with developing parks.

Let's look at the Socceer Park in Mebane (Terri, you stated that merger should not be the only reason for voting for a candidate and I agree as you can see in my earlier posts). The incumbents have placed the soccer park in an area that had been designated as an area for economic development—that is, an area to develop businesses and thereby create jobs.

According to Smart Growth Initiatives developed by state-wide environmental groups , the recommendation is to “develop school and recreational areas near densely populated areas on public transportation routes.”

So, why have the two incumbents selected an isolated site for a soccer complex? Are they assuming “If we build it, they will come”? That assumption would drain $2 million from the soccer fund. The Commissioners made that assumption with the Triangle SportsPlex and it’s been struggling to survive ever since. As the Chapel Hill Herald stated "it is car dependent". Did they not learn from their previous mistake?

Many individuals (including member of the Parks/Recreation committee) asked for a soccer parks and practive fields to be located near a populated area. Do the incumbents want citizens to waste gas driving 18 miles one-way for an hour’s worth of play? Why not define a “green-friendly” plan in an economic development area rather than waste soccer money on a location that requires water or has no public transportation? Why not create a plan to create jobs with livable wages for all the citizens of the county. That’s a fresh idea that “serves the entire county.” Why not find and define a network of soccer parks and practice field near developements and spread around the country?

As Bobby stated, we need to look at candidates who begin to work to improve communication, willing to develop a multi-level collaboration models, and develop a better governmental process. That is not a single issue reason to vote for a candidate. To me it is the best reason to vote for a particular candidate.

Thanks for listening. I also apologize for taking too much space and too much time.



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