2005 Forum on the air Thursday

WCHL will hold its third annual Forum tomorrow, putting folks from around the community on the radio for a marathon of local issue discussion. Last year's forum was pretty interesting, especially the hand-to-hand combat between UNC administrators and local elected officials.

While I have to repeat my now-annual complaint about not publishing the forum schedule on the website in advance, I will give WCHL kudos for putting the entire 2004 forum audio archive online after the broadcast.

Here is this year's schedule as it was relayed to me in the mail:

8:00 Town-Gown Relations10:00 Suburban Growth11:00 Civil Rights & Equality noon Carrboro 1:00 Downtown Chapel Hill 2:00 Violence & Crime 3:00 Affordable Housing 4:00 Education 5:00 Young Adults

While it is an honor to be invited to participate in the forum (I'll be on during the 11:00 hour), my perpetual frustration is that I am actually very interested in all of these issues. It's a bummer to have to pick only one, and I think it may also stunt the discussion a little bit to only hear from the designated experts instead of cross-pollinating.

What do you think? Did you listen to the Forum last year? What do you hope for or expect from this one?

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Total votes: 152

Comments

Sorry, I missed a few: Fred Royal, Mark Marcoplos, and one other guy in the room.

So now they're up to 16 guests and 1 woman. Unfortunately I will not able to help with this ratio as I am not feeling well. I will try to keep listening, though. And if my headache goes away I will try to call in.

I listened last year and found some of the discussion quite interesting (especially Town-n-Gown). Unfortunately, the attempts to steer some of the later segment's discussions created a more stilted "trialog".

Ruby, I'm glad you've been invited to participate, maybe it means we'll have fewer of the same old suspects (some of last year's panels had that Star Chamber feel).

I wish they'd have a discussion on Chapel Hill economic development (lose the perennial focus on downtown) and maybe expand the discussion on developing an infrastructure (like a municipally-owned fibre/Wifi network) to attract non-service type cottage industry to town (like Carrboro is aggressively doing). My vision for Chapel Hill is to develop a high tech economic base where you can work where you live - no long commutes to RTP or North Raleigh. I doubt that one of tomorrow's guests will present a similar vision during the Downtown development discussion.

The downtown discussion is about the development of lots 2 & 5.

Thanks Andrea for the clarification. So, the lot #2/#5 egg-baskets are the focus - kind of a disappointment.

Are you scheduled to speak? If so, can you ask the participants why the prelim plans for the lot developments leave out adequate publicly accessible facilities like lawns, drinking fountains and restrooms? Wouldn't it be nice if as part of the development of these lots and the current downtown sidewalk revamp the Town could provide a decent place to sit down, downtown restrooms and maybe a 8 or 10 public drinking fountains?

I listen to the WCHL Forums and appreciate the opportunity for unmediated comment. I agree with the thoughts expressed by Ruby and Will: it would be wonderful to introduce new voices as well as to look forward toward our goals rather than retrospectively from where we came.

That said, I applaud the station for dedicating a day's programming to focus on these topics. Maybe next time there could be two-hour blocks (over the course of a week) that would bring together different areas of concern or focus with the objective of trying to reach a new convergence or way to think about a situation, such as jobs and downtown, or public art and transit, or government and education.

Where can one find a list of the panelists scheduled for tomorrow?

Janet

10:00 Suburban Growth

Code for "annexation policy discussion?"
Code for "what to do about Briar Chapel?"
Code for "that thing that might get built across 15-501 South from Southern Village?"

Very curious to hear this.

noon Carrboro

Somehow the topical organization of this event strikes me as funny, particularly the isolation of "Carrboro"- as if it's a problem to be solved. It's also scheduled during lunch hour...Coincidence?

So many of these issues, especially affordable housing/growth/education are shared by Chapel Hill and Carrboro, not to mention Orange County.

That said, three cheers to WCHL for putting the event on, and to everyone who shows up to participate. I enjoyed hearing it last year and will listen in again if possible.

Looked on 'CHL's website for a list and couldn't find one. Steve Stewart and I just got invites to participate today, so it might be a work in progress 'til the end. For those who haven't tired of my semi-coherent rantings, I'll be participating on the 'progressive Carrboro' panel at noon. I think Diana and Joal'll be there as well--That's all I know.

Cheers,
Alex

And the forum begins! Listeners can call in with questions at 929-9245.

If you are listening to the Forum, please post your thoughts here.

The "Town-Gown" panel includes:

Fred Black, Community Action Network
Laurin Easthom, C.H. Transportation Board
Kevin Foy, Mayor of Chapel Hill
Jonathan Howes, UNC local relations
John Hewer (sp?), UNC architect
James Moeser, UNC chancellor
Roger Perry, UNC trustee & WCHL underwriter
Bill Strom, C.H. Town Council Member

I'm not crazy about how this is stacking up. I hate to reinforce the impression of there being "sides," on this issue, but that's how the discussion usually goes (See last year).

You have some very heavy hitters from UNC on this panel, but not as much magnitude advocating for the locals. How about some of the current and former elected officials who serve on the Horace Williams Citizens Committee?

I can't believe Mayor Foy is continuing to champion OI-4 as a success. For who? Yes, it contained good environmental controls and the University has been a good neighbor for innovating in storm water control, BUT...

The OI-4 process is one in which the Town is expected to approve large projects in 1/2 to 1/4 of the time it would normally spend analyzing and evaluating similar proposals. Applications under OI-4 have led to some of the biggest recent disagreements between the Town and the University and much hostility and fear for UNC's neighbors.

To me, OI-4 represents the ultimate steamrolling of the Town's interests, and it raises my blood pressure every time I hear the Mayor tout it as a success and something to be imitated. Please don't!

Started listening at 8:45.

What a crazy dichotomy, we can either have a "bucolic" community or a world-class university. Laurin Easthom is taking some flak as she's trying to explain the difference between monitoring UNC's development and being "suspicious" of UNC. Seems like Jim Heavner is following up on Fred Black's comments on recent elections - his highlighting "a candidate that said we must say no to UNC" and Cam's supposed stance to roll Town backwards (Fred, Fred, Fred) - to hammer Laurin's position on Town-Gown relations. He must know she's running for Council, even though he characterized her, seemingly, as just a citizen.

If they think Cam's election was so damn important to this issue, why didn't they put him on the panel? I suspect it's because they fear his ideas will sound reasonable.

He's a popular punching bag for UNC administrators, but all Cam has said is that negotiating with the University can't mean saying 'yes' all the time.

Putting Fred on the panel makes 5 people who consistently support University development (if you don't count Kevin). You only have Bill and Laurin to stand up for the entire community that thinks that maybe we shouldn't do every single thing the Chancellor says.

Chapel Hill Planning Board Chair Tim Dempsey is calling in the to show. He says that most UNC proposals are approved easily at the Planning Board. He says that the Town uses the same process for ALL developers, even itself, and is not treating the University differently.

And no-one from UNC even has a response to him! Oh well.

Ooops, I forgot to count Ray Gronberg from the Herald. Make that 6 consistent voices against any moderation in UNC development. They seem to support anything, any place, any time.

Laurin makes an excellent point: the HWCC completed a report a year ago and has put a lot of energy into trying to engage productively on this issue. The University said it would not respond to the community report.

UNC's response: it's OUR responsibility to bring forth a proposal. The HWCC report was "premature." This is outrageous!

I am trying to call in right now, but I keep getting WCHL answering machine. :(

I have to stop listening now. This show is really upsetting me and I have to get to work.

Someone else please keep listening and report. I can't handle any more of this.

Moeser's "we all remember the town that never was", what an incredibly divisive comment. As he holds up UNC/North as a way to return to those days when UNC faculty and staff could live here by building housing on UNC/North, I'm reminded of UNC's unfulfilled commitment to improve the conditions of those employees that fill the lower rungs of UNC's support staff. Last time I looked, the cookie cutter housing proposed by UNC will not house the numbers of UNC workers he's seeming to imply is within the putative plan.

Chancellor Moeser obviously wants to devalue those citizens and local leadership that refer to the "of so far away days" when, for instance, there wasn't a big mud-hole across the road on Mason Farm or the "of so far away days" when you could safely traverse South Columbia or the "of so far away days" when UNC didn't charge citizens for parking on campus adjacent to downtown or the "of so far away days" when UNC and the Town had a more trusting relationship as some kind of revisionist, knuckle-scraping, troglodytes.

It's not revisionist to expect that when Moeser's administration makes an agreement that they stick to it. It's not revisionist to expect that UNC act as a "good neighbor" instead of their recent history of trying to steamroll (literally) the Town.

I'm disappointed that in the 5 years Chancellor Moeser been at the helm that he seems to have forgotten his pledge to appreciate what has been built here.

"With tremendous humility and great appreciation for you and what you have built here, I relish becoming a North Carolinian," Moeser told the board.

One of the things he should've appreciated was the relationship Town and the University had built over many years. Finally, on Moeser, as he becomes a North Carolinian he might want to review the State's motto, Esse Quam Videri, "to be rather than to seem". When UNC starts living up to its previous commitments - "to be" - rather than continuing to blather on about their commitments - I think the trust will be restored.

Wow, talk about treading water. Laurin Easthom was dead on point - "What happened to the Horace Williams Committees report?" I'm glad she brought up that the report was an alternative plan to UNC's but instead a set of guiding principles.

Not all Town-Gown issues boil down to transportation. I've lived within spitting distance of Horace Williams for about 12 years, there's many issues beyond transportation I'm concerned about - light, noise and water pollution, the creation of a bifurcated town, etc.

Moeser's push to wait until there's a plan to address those issues raised in Horace Williams is one reason that we need to carefully monitor what "they do, not what they say". Why can't they clearly say what elements of the report are acceptable and what elements are not - that way we can move beyond the current "loggerhead".

The question is not whether UNC has internally constituted democratic organizations - the question is "how much does the Moeser administration use that democratically arrived upon advice?"

Too bad CHL doesn't stream as I have to, as Ruby's done, move on to work. I hope someone picks up the baton during the suburban sprawl discussion.

Not sure if I caught all the names, but the "suburban growth" panel includes:

Craig Bennedict, Orange County Planning Director
James Carnahan, The Village Project
Mark Chilton, Carrboro Board of Aldermen & Community Realty
Nick Tennyson, Orange-Durham Homebuilders' Association & former Durham Mayor
Roger Waldon, Chapel Hill Planning Director

I just noticed that out of 13 guests so far, I think there has been one woman and one person of color.

The civil rights panel is beginning with host D.G. Martin. "Are we really as tolerant as we say?" D.G. says the MLK Blvd re-naming showed how much work there is left to do.

The guests are:
Fred Battle, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NACCP president
Rebecca Clark
Mark Kleinschmidt, Chapel Hill Town Council
Al McSurely, civil rights lawyer
Elizabeth Waugh-Stewart, The Women's Center
Mark Royster, former school board member

I had been invited to be on this panel, but it's clearly full of plenty of qualified people. I don't feel like they are missing anything due to my absence.

Also Ron Stutts of WCHL and Fiona Morgan from The Independent Weekly are in the studio.

I appreciate that WCHL is doing a community service in presenting these forums, but I wish they wouldn't try so hard to shape the outcome.

I'm listening to the summary show right now and was surprised to hear them use Roger Perry's comment that, to paraphrase, 'all the Town and Gown development problems are those of transportation". DG Martin shaped the ensuing conversation to imply that "wasn't that it" - as if there weren't other relevant issues - as if no one disagreed. Weird considering I called in about three or four minutes after the Perry comment was made and said "Not all Town and Gown problems are transportation." I went on to describe additional issues and tried to pin UNC's Moeser and Perry down on those parts of HWCC they agreed with - since they'd just said they'd incorporated parts of it in their new plans.

Shortly after my comment, Laurin Easthom amplified on the issues that UNC/North raised, so I don't get why Martin couldn't have simply said (after the Perry comment) "that some citizens disagree that all the conflicts boil down to transportation".

Did anyone else get a chance to listen after the 11am hour? I'd be interested in an unfiltered, un-shaped review.

Hopefully the raw "text" will be posted soon on the 'net so we can all draw our own conclusions.

I participated in the 5:00 - 6:00 hour discussion on "youth" and was on D.G. Martin's program following (the "wrap-up").

My concern about the day's programming is the sense of collecting the usual suspects and re-hashing the same old stuff, but I'm glad the station is placing it all out there.

As for the web site, my observation is that it died last October amid all the programming changes ... viturally nothing's been updated -- a cost-saving thing it would seem, but I don't have any inside dope on that.

We will have the audio from all the Forum hours posted on our website just as soon as we can get it done. We will also present replays of all 10 hours, starting next week. These will be during the 7pm hour, but there are some conflicts with our coverage of Carolina Baseball, so we will work all that out and announce it in the next few days. There will be plenty of opportunities to hear anything you may have missed. Listen to the radio. Thanks for your interest in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro-Orange County Forum and thanks for listening to News Talk 1360 WCHL.

WillR,
I listened all day yesterday. I'm still in a coma. All I remember about the Carrboro hour was Ellie and Jackie aren't big on change. They want Carrboro to stay simple. Ellie doesn't like modern day roundabouts-- thinks they aren't pedestrian safe. Jackie will be an old hippie in one of Alex's high rises some day. Dave Hart thinks Carrboro is the greatest beat in the county. Hostile caller wants to know if Jackie took the bus to WCHL. No, she didn't have time. Very feel-good hour. No elaboration on much of anything. No talk of pesky things. Had the feeling they'd all rather be outside having lunch...

Good critique, Mary---We did get hung up on details, and rehashing the economic development strategy discussion, and didn't really get to some of the more thorny issues that have arisen lately. I, for one, plead guilty---I wasn't at my best.

Cheers,
Alex

I love round-a-bouts! Maybe even more after Councilwoman Verkerk explained that they might be to confusing for a the average driver several years ago.

I was in Australia a couple years ago and they use round-a-bouts almost exclusively for rural roads and quite frequently in town. It took me longer to get the hang of driving on the left, which was about 5 minutes, as it did to get used to the round-a-bouts. I asked Sally Greene if a round-a-bout had been considered for the Church St. / Franklin St. / Lot #5 / University Square area when the lot is developed. I think she indicated that it didn't appear on the radar. A real shame.

I will attribute your misquote of my comment to you not feeling well Ruby. Nor does it appear that you grasped the context of the comment. The context mattered.

Unfortunately, you continue to label people (“Putting Fred on the panel makes 5 people who consistently support University development (if you don't count Kevin).”) without any support for such statements. What did you use to draw that conclusion?

As you have stated here on more than one occasion, you have issues with UNC and it leadership, hence your judgment seems clouded to me. It seems hard for you to accept as legitimate my desire to see a cooperative and rigorous process that is civil and professional, as both the Town and UNC work to resolve these complex issues.

The title of the 8:00 to 10:00 o'clock block asked the right question: “Town & Gown Relations: How to grow in step, not at odds, with each other?” Again, the process is important and good communications is a must. It won't work any other way, and it seems to me that both institutions have made enough mistakes over the years to negate any advantages from finger pointing and name-calling. It seems that the answer to the question for many is just do it their way, but I doubt that's going to happen. Thus, we need other approaches and solutions.

And once again, as I have said in print, I will react to a Carolina North plan when there is one to react to. As my wife and I share a property border with UNC, what happens will directly affect us. So, if you believe that I consistently support University development, I can only tell you that I support sound, thoughtful, and planned development in my back yard that we can all live with. Right now, there is an airport and the PR Lot back there, and who knows about 10 to 15 years from now.

As both the Mayor and the Chancellor stated, much progress has been made. Building on that should give us the opportunity to grow in step.

What comment are you referring to, Fred? I don't see where I quoted you as saying anything at all. I drew my conclusion about "people who consistently support University development" based on past experience, but I'm not omniscient so let me know if I missed something.

I have never said I had issues with my alma mater (in fact, I vote in their favor more often than not on the Planning Board), but I do have huge issues with it's current leadership. I think if they got their way they would run the town, and consequently the University, into the ground. I don't want that to happen. If that makes my judgment cloudy, then expect rain for the next few years...

I very much share your "desire to see a cooperative and rigorous process that is civil and professional," and I think the Town has worked hard to try to make it happen. It seems to me that the University has controlled the process wherever possible, and subverted it wherever not.

UNC has still refused to look at or respond to the Town's Horace Williams Citizens Report, which lays out a vision for how the tract can be developed in a way that enhances rather than overloads the Town. Many people put a lot of work into that report, in hopes of beginning a constructive, pro-active dialog. In response, the Town has been accused of trying to Stonewall the University by not engaging in discussion.

Fred, to underline Ruby's final point, you heard me ask Chancellor Moeser to tell us specifically what parts of the HWCC report they agreed with and which ones they didn't. I have to imagine what it looked like, but it sounded like Moeser was doing a quick reprise of the WXYC dance marathon. UNC's top dogs have the report, Roger Perry and the BOT have the report, Moeser and Perry both said they've discussed the report in committee (and actually liked some parts),so, in the spirit of glasnost and perostroika, why doesn't Mr. Moeser "tear that wall down" and produce a markup of the report showing where UNC agrees with the town?

Until then, Moeser has very little credibility.

I am referring to what you placed inside the quote marks: [Seems like Jim Heavner is following up on Fred Black's comments on recent elections - his highlighting “a candidate that said we must say no to UNC” and Cam's supposed stance to roll Town backwards (Fred, Fred, Fred)]

Maybe you had stopped listening when this came up, but you are wrong when you say that UNC has still refused to look at the report. In response to Laurin's question, I believe, both the Chancellor and Jonathan Howes indicated that UNC has studied the Town's committee report and had found suggestions that they thought was useful (have to wait for the audio file for the exact wording). They also indicated that they didn't think it was appropriate for the University to respond to the report at this time.

Since I don't know about the "past experience" involving me that you refer to, I guess that I don't know what you missed.

Scroll back up, Fred. The comment you are referring to was WillR.

If the Chancellor said he "didn't think it was appropriate for the University to respond to the report at this time," then my point is made. When is it is appropriate for the University to respond to the Town's concerns? After millions are invested in plans? After it's built?

My mistake on the quote comment, but what about the other items?

Fred, to make my previous comment even more opaque....

You said something that triggered someone else to say something to the effect “a candidate that said we must [always] say no to UNC”.

I typed this in roughly "realtime" so I it's somewhat stream of consciousness - the comment "(Fred, Fred, Fred)" was somewhat of a (tsk, tsk , tsk) for your comment that triggered the succeeding comments. I'll try to reconstruct the exact sequence once the tape is online.

Ruby, I'm sorry that Fred thinks I sound too much like you to draw a distinction, I'll try to make my voice more distinctive next time ;-)!

Everything I just wrote was in response to the other items, Fred.

Will, I don't think your style sounds much like me at all, so don't worry about it.

Guess we have an answer. There's a cold wind blowing from the South:

UNC is willing to back off its protest of rezoning parts of the Horace Williams/Carolina North land -- but with conditions.

For one, the university wants the Town Council to make it clear the rezonings would be "temporary," with the understanding that UNC eventually would seek another rezoning for Carolina North.

I hope the Council adopts the zoning maintaining the maximum control of the situation and unambiguously disuades UNC from pursuing some other

A third condition was for the council to agree to work with the university in crafting a completely new zoning district for the property -- a la the creation of O/I-4 in 2001.

type of zoning district ala OI-4.

The above was from Rob Shapard's article University: Will drop protests if rezonings clearly temporary published in today's CHH.

 

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