DTH encourages Student Participation

I was very pleased this morning to read an editorial encouraging student participation and voting in municipal elections. But I was astonished at the misunderstanding of the keg registration issue. Did the editors actually read the proposal we sent to our legislative delegation? Did they listen to the discussion? Did they read the DTH or any newspaper coverage of the issue?

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but it seems to me readers are being left with the impression that the Council was seeking Big Brother status by pushing for such a law and that the Council was responsible for “versions of that legislation [that] would have allowed authorities to know exactly who was buying kegs and when they were doing it.” Such conclusions are entirely unreasonable. In fact, as I remember it, and as I'm sure the record reflects, Council discussion on the issue focused almost exclusively on limiting Big Brother tactics, and explicitly questioned the nexus of such a strategy to the problem of underage drinking. The recommendation to the legislature reserved judgment on keg registration support until we could be sure the strategy was reasonable and there was an articulated connection between the proposed policy and a real ill.

Although, as the editorial points out, student participation in municipal elections has historically been miserably low, it has been a rare occasion indeed that student complaints “only fall on deaf ears.” While there is still a great deal of work to do, and of course we must continually remain vigilant on this, this Council has done a fine job of encouraging and expecting wide-based participation in the development of public policy – and this has included invitations to the student body.

During my seven disjointed years as a student (ending as recently as 2000), there hasn't been a Council as responsive to student input. It had gotten so bad by 2001, that when I approached the then sitting SBP and SBVP (who were friends I had worked with in student government just the year before) to encourage them to register students and get involved in local government, the offer was dismissed out-of-hand with the excuse that students just didn't care about Town issues. That said, I am understandably thrilled at the promise of a high level of involvement this year.

Issues: 

Total votes: 176

Comments

Thanks for posting this link, Mark. You highlight only one of the DTH's problems with this editorial and editorially in general.

To take the most basic example, they encourage students to vote (fine as far as it goes) when they really need to be encouraged to get involved in town affairs. When students engage in the issues they care about they will vote and get their friends to as well. They focus on the keg issue: how many students contacted the council or organized around that issue? Not many as far as I can recall.

But more egregious is their repeating the canard about a "university-friendly" town council as if there is any other kind. The vast majority of those being encouraged to vote are by implication undergraduats. What does university expansion have to do with undergraduate education? Precious little. Other than in the hard sciences, undergraduates get the short end of growth plans that are focussed on corporate spin-offs and high-level research. The editors was poetic about the Old Well and Davie Poplar. If you want to see anything like that at Carolina North, you'd be much better off with someone like Sally Greene (and you too Mark, of course!) calling the shots rather than the uninspired Waldrop and Moeser.

Finally, they raise the question of parking. Let's set aside the fact that town parking lots are consistently underutilized. The DTH editors are speaking for a generation that will live a life time with the impact of global warming as well as problems of congestion, sprawl, and air pollution. You'd think they would embrace the free bus system that eliminates the need for driving (and therefore parking) [yes, the bus system can be improved!] and praise the council that has brought it into being and sustained it (along with Carrboro and UNC).

It's very sad, considering the pulpit they occupy, that their vision is so constrained.

That said, I commend these young people for their interest in civic affairs.

To the best of my knowledge, the DTH's official opinions stance has always been one against beer keg registration on the grounds that such a law could not possibly be done without encroaching on the privacy or citizens, as well as it's questionable effectiveness.

And the Town Council did indeed suggest that keg registration would be a good idea back in March of this year. I believe Council Member Ward was the one who brought it up in February, and Council Member Kleinschmidt has always been one of the members opposing a registration policy.

For those interested I refer you to the edtorial and news story below which illustrate both Editorial Board opinion in the past and the somewhat hesitant push for keg registration:

http://www.dailytarheel.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/03/10/423041300c87b...

http://www.dailytarheel.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/04/12/425bb43989792...

As a side note, I feel the need to point out to Mr. Coleman that the bus system is not really free. It is largely paid for by students at UNC. Also, it is my understanding that the recent $1.25 million in federal grants from the US DOT is going to be used to develop a the bus system in the southern edge of town along 15-501, which won't exactly help University staff and students up at Carolina North. While maybe not an eternal emergency, parking seems likely to be an issue for a long time, at least for students. As for staff, it is also my understanding (and correct me if I'm wrong) that efforts to increase the number of spaces allocated to staff in the new Ram's Head is subject to the town's approval.

Chris Cameron
DTH Associate Opinions Editor

Mark, I can understand a bit of the confusion on the keg registration as Jim Ward asked for a blanket endorsement of an unwritten keg registration bill.
It probably didn't help that local pol Verla Insko was the torchbearer for the regulation.

As you and other OP readers are aware of, I was the first person to publicly raise objections to keg registration both because of its inherent rights infringing nature and its emphasis on a "feel good, do nothing" approach. It was nice to see these concerns "percolate" into the local media but even after they covered the issue I found some students were still confused about the Council's role in the mess. It might help if you highlight that the Council, beyond Jim Ward's complaints, decided to wait

During the Council's discussion of its legislative agenda on March 7, 2005, the Council declined to give a general endorsement to legislation requiring keg registration until it had an opportunity to consider the specific language proposed.

before leaping.

I like that they mention "traffic laws", I wonder if that's a hint about the RLCs (which I believe especially enticed ACS because of the large student population).

It's a bit hard to understand the following though

That's especially true because the University's marquee development, the satellite campus Carolina North, could break ground inside of three years. The decisions made between then and now will be vital to UNC's future.

as the current plans for UNC/North are distinguished only by their troubling intent. Where's an eco-friendly approach? Where's the signature architecture? Right now we have a plan for paved madness mixed with the worst blase stylings of RTP. They're right about the decisions being critical, but I imagine, contrary to the current UNC administration's assertions, that neither the State's or UNC's vitality will be affected by taking the time to create an innovative campus over a rehash of Centennial Campus or a new variant of the Transpark boondoggle.

I will be making an exciting challenge to UNC on UNC/North during the campaign, I hope the DTH editorial staff will find something positive to say about it.

As a few of you might remember, I spent quite a bit of time and effort last election cycle trying to get students involved in the municipal elections. I was interested, at that point, in, first, getting candidates opposed to the RLCs elected, and, second, to help a progressive slate of candidates take their place on Council. I became a bit of a fixture at the Pit, Downtown and along Franklin St. handing out literature in support of this slate. I also spent Election Day beating the bushes for votes. I tried to make the same case that today's DTH editorial is making, "decisions made by Council can have a major impact on your lives". It was a hard sell. I helped students find their polling places, transported a few to the doorstep, but, in spite of my and others efforts, generally, there was very little interest in voting.

Disappointing, moreso, because of the concurrent 2003 Student Legislature election which resulted in thousands of votes over a "hotly" contested race.

In 2004, the student electorate was definitely charged by the national campaign. If my conversations during last Friday's celebratory voter registration drive are indicative, many students are already locally registered. That's one obstacle down. If the County's Commissioners will heed my recent call for super-precincts, the confusion and inconvenience factors will be eliminated. That's another obstacle down (BTW, the second BOCC meeting that might result in super-precincts is Weds. in Hillsborough - a great time for students to get involved) .

Now, it's a matter of turnout.

Finally, it might seem

if they don't head to the polls, their complaints will only fall on deaf ears.

but I know that among this cycles candidates student criticisms will be accounted for whether the students turn out to vote or not. It's part of those Chapel Hill values that some have so much fun denigrating.

I, like Mark, Laurin, Jason and many of the other candidates, look forward to increased student participation.

I hope this year's cycle is significant for student participation from campaigning to voting, but let's hope we all can build this electorates enthusiasm in a positive manner, accentuating participation, innovation, creativity and vigor over straw men like supposed eventual Council indifference.

Well, thanks, y'all, for keeping up with us. Too bad this thread dropped like a rock.

To address your concerns, Councilman Kleinschmidt: We recognize that Council reserved recommendation on a keg registration. If that's not made clear in the editorial, that's a flaw of the writing; we were merely trying to highlight a way in which Council _could_ have had a serious impact on students' lives if the preliminary talks had proceeded in a different direction. I don't think it's a matter of you reading too much into it -- I think it's a matter of us not being as clear as we should have been (which, unfortunately, is a problem that plagues journalists much, much older than us as well).

As far as saying student concerns will fall on deaf ears, well, that wasn't really a critique of the current council so much as an admonition for our peers to vote. Maybe we should've added "on Election Night" or a similar phrase; that would've cleared up the confusion. If we really thought council members or aldermen were indifferent to student concerns, trust me, we wouldn't be writing about them on the back page. What would be the point?

Mr. Coleman: There can be a University-friendly Town Council that still questions Unversity growth. I do believe Carolina North is key to UNC's future. But I also believe, like you, that there's room for improvement, and I look forward to adding to that dialogue in the months to come. I just don't think any of that ought to be the crux of a 550-word editorial encouraging students to vote; it's an entirely separate beast altogether.

At any rate, I'm finally back in town (obviously) and raring to actually meet some of y'all. Look for me at some local meetings in the neat future -- and keep an eye out for the funny-looking, pudgy kid at the election forums. I look forward to getting to know the candidates well (you ladies and gentlemen should keep an eye on your inboxes); hopefully, we can all work to get students as active in local affairs as they ought to be.

Finally, I encourage everyone here to write in. Posting on OP is, of course, great, but save some of it for the kids!

Chris Cameron stated "As a side note, I feel the need to point out to Mr. Coleman that the bus system is not really free. It is largely paid for by students at UNC."

While it is true that UNC pays for more than half (about 55-60%) of the cost of CHT (mostly or entirely from student fees), more than 90% of the riders are UNC students or employees. Thus both CH and Carrboro are providing significant support to this system which obviously directly benefits UNC but I believe also benefits the entire community.

Chris also stated "Also, it is my understanding that the recent $1.25 million in federal grants from the US DOT is going to be used to develop a the bus system in the southern edge of town along 15-501, which won't exactly help University staff and students up at Carolina North."

Until more definite plans for Carolina North are developed which meet both the University's and the community's needs, it is neither advisable nor possible to spend money on parking or transit options to support a plan that may or may not exist several years from now. Of course, if UNC wants to begin to acquire the land to the north of I-40 that will undoubtedly be needed for park & ride lots to support such a massive project as CN, it should be encouraged to do so.

Mark K. states, “Although, as the editorial points out, student participation in municipal elections has historically been miserably low, it has been a rare occasion indeed that student complaints “only fall on deaf ears.” While there is still a great deal of work to do, and of course we must continually remain vigilant on this, this Council has done a fine job of encouraging and expecting wide-based participation in the development of public policy – and this has included invitations to the student body.”

In general political leaders and political insiders are always saying they encourage participation and input—but many times this input is only considered if it supports the goals and programs the political leaders want. This is not only true of student input, but citizen input in general. In fact, many times those who don't agree with the political insiders' party line are simply dismissed, ignored (after compliments for their input) or even insulted—this, of course, doesn't exactly encourage political participation but does breed distrust and disdain for politics, and political leaders, in general.

For example the DTH editorial stated, “The council, for example, is in charge of parking allocation around town — and the lack of parking is a headache all students surely have bemoaned.” The DTH editorial is correct—students have bemoaned the lack of parking—so have a large number of Chapel Hill citizens, business owners and out-of-town visitors. But the political leaders seemed resolved to dismiss this concern in favor of public transit and "hoofing it." Dan Coleman goes even further and actually insults students who desire parking stating, “It's very sad, considering the pulpit they occupy, that their vision is so constrained.”

Not a way to encourage participation. And BTW, the majority of students, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE are not going to give up driving their cars—they are busy and they need the flexibility of their own transportation and they like the independence and privacy. Should they be made to feel guilty over auto emissions? Guess what, due to advances in technology, car emissions are becoming cleaner and cleaner and hybrid cars are becoming more plentiful and affordable. Of course the major cause of air pollution in the Southeast is coal-burning power plants but politicians have traditionally granted them breaks, extensions and loopholes to get around putting those advanced pollution control devices on smokestacks. So instead of lobbying against these heavy hitting industry polluters local political leaders seem fixated on cutting parking, pushing more public transit and forcing individuals to feel guilty for driving their cars. The real question is why? Is it because public transit isn't viable without high density development and so it's a way to cater to increased development under the guise of environmentalism? (Oh, and BTW anyone catch the article stating that air quality in our area had improved dramatically and that the improvement was attributed to cleaner car emissions as well as some improved smokestack pollution control?)

Coleman further states, “You'd think they (the students) would embrace the free bus system that eliminates the need for driving (and therefore parking) [yes, the bus system can be improved!] and praise the council that has brought it into being and sustained it (along with Carrboro and UNC).”
Chris Cameron states, “As a side note, I feel the need to point out to Mr. Coleman that the bus system is not really free. It is largely paid for by students at UNC.” This is correct; the cost is passed on to the students. And the bus service isn't really “free” for citizens either because they are paying for it in federal, state and local taxes. For example, according to the Town's 2003-2004 adopted budget: the Feds kick in a little from citizens' federal taxes ($932,000); the State kicks in over a million and a half from citizens' state taxes ($1,573,708); Carrboro kicks in $857,715; and Chapel Hill residents pay over two million from their property taxes ($2,306,500) each and every year for the “free” bus service.

With that said, I do support the “free” bus service for UNC students and workers and recommend it be increased in the mornings when and where the buses are overcrowded from students and workers trying to reach campus due to the lack of campus parking.

As for the keg registration—the bill as written was flawed and intrusive and it is doubtful that keg registration is going to make a difference in underage drinking or binge drinking anyway. The council sending up the statement to the General Assembly that they “support” keg registration but “have concerns” over language is a typical politician move of trying to placate all factions---for conservatives they are on record as “supporting it” and for liberals they are on record as having “concerns.”

One more point, although to most people in the 18 to 21 age group local politics can seem about as interesting as tracking the flight of dust motes (hey, you're young, you're supposed to be having fun, and trash collection, budget issues and sidewalk repairs just aren't that exciting—heck, even many older citizens' eyes glaze over after an hour or two of discussion on these issues), students may want to vote in the upcoming election simply because there are issues that hit close to home such as parking, high costs of off campus housing, downtown development (students' stomping ground) and environmental policies that are really just catering to development interests under the guise of environmentalism.

Oh, and students should not forget to check out squeezethepulp.com the new website where anyone can post an article on a topic of concern and read and comment on more local issues.

Cheers, Robin Cutson

Sorry to come in late. Up near the beginning, Chris Cameron wrote, "I believe Council Member Ward was the one who brought it up in February...."

I would just like to say that I remember it that way, too (I would have read about it in the CHN). I remember this because I vowed never to vote for Jim Ward again.

-- ge

P.S. Yes, I could change my mind.

It's interesting how quick conservatives are to point out that the bus system "isn't really free" yet somehow overlook the vast subsidies for auto travel. Roads are paid for with tax dollars, gas is vastly subsidized, and there are enormous costs from externalities in public health, loss of productivity, and the onset of global warming which may already have begun to kick us in the ass.

The world of corporate sponsored transportation that beckons to us is just as toxic as the corporate meal offered at your nearby fast food joint. "Here kids, have some parking, a Biggie Space for your SUV. And, for a limited time only, it's a Wheel Deal! We'll throw in some asthma, a bit of gridlock, a war or two, and some whopping big hurricanes. Will you have fries with that?"

Yes, I think it's a pretty sad state of affairs.

Dan -

my head is going to fall off watching the coverage of the Katrina hurricane.

None of the corporate media even mentions the costs of the Iraq war at 1 billion a week could do a lot of good in Louissiana or Mississippi.

And I have yet to hear about the 75,000 national guard troops in Iraq and how they should be in the south providing law and order and clean up help.

Nor has the media mentioned the MIT (best science in the world) publication stating that increases in hurrican number and strength is a consequence of global warming.

there seems to be a complete lack of cause and effect in the main stream media coverage...

Robin Cutson states: "(Oh, and BTW anyone catch the article stating that air quality in our area had improved dramatically and that the improvement was attributed to cleaner car emissions as well as some improved smokestack pollution control?)"

Air quality may have improved dramatically but the fact that the Triangle area has been listed as non-compliant with the EPA clean air guidelines and risks losing federal transportation grants unless it comes into compliance within three years (now about 2 years) should be a wake-up call to everyone that our air needs help. Unfortunately, there is little we can do to improve the emissions emanating from areas outside of our control other than to sue (as NC is doing) or to lobby the state harder. We can do something about the areas we do control, however, and minimizing parking (where appropriate) and maximizing public transit are two viable options.

"So instead of lobbying against these heavy hitting industry polluters local political leaders seem fixated on cutting parking, pushing more public transit and forcing individuals to feel guilty for driving their cars. The real question is why? Is it because public transit isn't viable without high density development and so it's a way to cater to increased development under the guise of environmentalism?"

This is probably the first time I've seen someone accuse the local political leaders of being 'pro-development'. They should cut this out and save it so that they can point to this label the next time a developer complains about the long approval process that typically accompanies most projects in CH.

Dan-

Gas isn't subsidized. We pay 45 cents a galloon in state taxes alone.

Subsidies for gas are well-documented. See this report from the International Center for Technology Assessment for one example:

The Real Price Of Gas Executive Summary

This report by the International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA) identifies and quantifies the many external costs of using motor vehicles and the internal combustion engine that are not reflected in the retail price Americans pay for gasoline. These are costs that consumers pay indirectly by way of increased taxes, insurance costs, and retail prices in other sectors.

The report divides the external costs of gasoline usage into five primary areas:

(1) Tax Subsidization of the Oil Industry; (2) Government Program Subsidies;
(3) Protection Costs Involved in Oil Shipment and Motor Vehicle Services;
(4) Environmental, Health, and Social Costs of Gasoline Usage; and
(5) Other Important Externalities of Motor Vehicle Use.

Together, these external costs total $558.7 billion to $1.69 trillion per year, which, when added to the retail price of gasoline, result in a per gallon price of $5.60 to $15.14.

Dan,

I agree that few people realize the true cost of filling their tank with gas.

In fact, I consider the authors of The Real Price Of Gas Report too conservative in their estimates. While they have properly addressed so-called "Protection Subsidies" as inclusive of Department of Defense efforts to secure oil production and transportation, they completely fail to account for the amount of money that has gone into, and continues to be spent on, the war effort in Iraq.

Have we stopped believing that at least a significant element of the decision matrix to fight Saddam was to secure the supply, production, and transportation of oil?

This I believe is the largest externality in the equation.

Dan- I stand corrected.

David- When will people stop crying blood for oil? If that were true to you think we would be paying what we do in gas? No, I don't think so....

Chris Cameron, the DTH Associate Opinions Editor writes above:
"the bus system is not really free. It is largely paid for by students at UNC."

Come on Chris, get some facts to back up such a statement!
From the 2005 town budget (on the web) we read that the
town transportation budget is $ 11.8 M and that UNC pays 4.5 M
of this through its contract. But how much of this comes
from the students? A couple years ago the students voted
to levy a fee on themselves of about $9 per student per
semester to help fund the bus system. 25K students at
$18 per year is about $450K. And while all of us in town
and on campus are delighted that the students see the value of the bus system and are willing to ante up, $450K does
not largely pay for the bus system. The bulk of the UNC
contribution, about $4.0M, comes from some portion of
the UNC budget, but not from the students.

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Nancy
Suttenfield noted UNC's reliance on the bus system a
few years ago when she stated that UNC could not function
without it, to get the faculty, staff, and students to
campus every day -- hence UNC''s major contribution
in support of all members of the university community.

Joe C. states,
"Come on Chris, get some facts to back up such a statement! A couple years ago the students voted to levy a fee on themselves of about $9 per student per semester to help fund the bus system. 25K students at $18 per year is about $450K.. . $450K does not largely pay for the bus system. The bulk of the UNC contribution, about $4.0M, comes from some portion of the UNC budget, but not from the students."

It is correct that the student fee the students generously voted to levy on themselves "to help fund" the bus system would not pay "the bulk" of the UNC contribution of about $4 million. But as Joe notes, the bulk comes from "some portion of the UNC budget" and it could very well be that this "some portion" partially comes from student tuition payments, expensive required textbooks, and other student fees----so Joe C.'s statement that the bulk of the funds for the bus system doesn't come from students is not backed by any "facts" either.

In fact, when you're dealing with large institutions with multiple funding sources, it generally is impossible to really track exact sources and expenditures. Want an example?

In 2001, UNC administrators launched a “full-scale” lobbying effort to hold on to “overhead receipts.” Overhead receipts are funds included in federal research grants (funded by all taxpayers in the America through federal income taxes) intended to help pay for the cost of labs and utilities and other tangential expenses. Many times this money is not used because the facilities already exist and the tab for operating expenses is already picked up by state taxpayers----such in the case of a state school like UNC.

Since the overhead receipts weren't really needed for the purpose they were granted and were basically extra money---the General Assembly wanted to reduce UNC's funding by all or even just a portion of those extra dollars in order to provide relief to the state's citizens since the state had a $800 million dollar deficit. The amount of UNC's overhead receipts? $75 million. Moeser objected saying ALL of the extra money was critical to fund research.

So in 2002 when North Carolina found it was facing a possible 2 billion dollar deficit the state cut funding to local governments. Local governments were then forced to cut services and put freezes on the hiring of public employees. Most state workers, including rank and file university employees, received pay increases of $625, which was the amount authorized by the General Assembly. However Moeser granted his administrators in South Building at UNC 14% pay increases meaning some administrators' salaries increased by $ 15,000 dollars. Moeser justified this outrageous action by stating some of the pay increases did not come from state taxpayers but from “overhead receipts,” (Chapel Hill News May 29, 2002 ). Yes---the same overhead receipts he formerly claimed were all needed to fund research.

So, in short, maybe the students aren't funding the bulk of the cost of the bus system--maybe they are funding administrator's salaries and the bus system is paid for by overhead receipts. We probably will never really know. But what we do know is that when it comes to the bus service----no one's really getting a "free" ride.

Dan Coleman states,

"It's interesting how quick conservatives are to point out that the bus system “isn't really free” yet somehow overlook the vast subsidies for auto travel. Roads are paid for with tax dollars, gas is vastly subsidized, and there are enormous costs from externalities in public health, loss of productivity, and the onset of global warming which may already have begun to kick us in the ass."

Hey, Dan
1.) we know the roads aren't free and that we pay for them in taxes--but no one goes around touting the joys of free roads like "free" bus service. And the majority of people prefer their own cars over public transit; so they don't mind paying for the roads.
2.) The buses also run on those roads--they are not gliding around on butterfly wings.
3.) No one is a "conservative" just because they point out facts and reveal fallacies---just because you may not like the facts, calling someone names isn't going to change the facts---it's an tactic used frequently by political manipulators but most people are wise to it
4.) there are enormous costs from externalities in public health, loss of productivity and global warming from coal-burning power plants (the major cause of air pollution in the Southeast) as well as medical waste incinerators and the radioactive and toxic waste produced by biotech and medical research---never hear you complaining about this----quite frankly it would appear that you prefer to push penalizing the average citizen for driving their car and curtailing their freedom of choice in transportation while letting big industry off the hook of your verbal badgering---isn't this what conservatives are generally accused of doing?

You would think that the news that car emissions are cleaner, that hybrid cars are becoming cheaper and more plentiful, and that the air quality in our area is becoming cleaner would be greeted as GOOD news---the fact that it ISN'T makes one wonder if the "car haters" are really concerned about cleaner air or just catering to development interests who see big money in high density development and public transit. Or, heck, maybe the "car haters" just want to control people---obviously people have more independence with their own car and can be herded and constrained more by public transit---and the Durham buses do have those cameras on them to monitor everyone, don't they?

GeorgeC states,

"Air quality may have improved dramatically but the fact that the Triangle area has been listed as non-compliant with the EPA clean air guidelines and risks losing federal transportation grants unless it comes into compliance within three years (now about 2 years) should be a wake-up call to everyone that our air needs help."

Well, hey, the air is getting better and we may well end up being compliant---and this IS about air quality isn't it---not just scoring some more $money$ from federal transportation grants.

GeorgeC also states,
"Unfortunately, there is little we can do to improve the emissions emanating from areas outside of our control other than to sue (as NC is doing) or to lobby the state harder. We can do something about the areas we do control, however, and minimizing parking (where appropriate) and maximizing public transit are two viable options."

Yep, no point in lobbying the state harder to reign in big industry---it's easier just to go after the little guy and his car---wait---isn't that the thinking of conservatives? Hit the little guy and let big industry off the hook?

Oh, and getting a non-compliant rating on air quality doesn't just mean a loss of transportation grant money---it ALSO means the area cannot build any new industrial facility that has a high level of pollution output--such as power plants or medical waste incinerators--whoops--could this mean UNC couldn't build another power plant or medical waste incinerator at Carolina North unless we all stop driving our cars and use public transit? Or does Orange County's economic development plan to add 5,000 jobs in five years somehow involve a factory or industrial plant?

In response to my speculating whether local political leaders are fixated on cutting parking, pushing more public transit and forcing individuals to feel guilty for driving their cars in order to cater to increased development under the guise of environmentalism (since it is well established that public transit isn't viable without high density development),George C states, "This is probably the first time I've seen someone accuse the local political leaders of being ‘pro-development'"

Well, you must have missed the article and the headline in the Chapel Hill News last year by Ted Vaden entitled, "Town Council froths for development---its own."

I don't know what's more frustrating and depressing---listening to local political pundits frothing for high density development and public transit (i.e. let's make the Town of Chapel Hill an urban city under the guise of environmentalism) or listening to national political pundits say the rescue and relief effort in New Orleans was not slow or disorganized.

Robin states "I don't know what's more frustrating and depressing—listening to local political pundits frothing for high density development and public transit (i.e. let's make the Town of Chapel Hill an urban city under the guise of environmentalism) or listening to national political pundits say the rescue and relief effort in New Orleans was not slow or disorganized."

Well, hell must have frozen over because I found one thing that Robin has said that I can agree with - her frustration and depression "listening to national political pundits say the rescue and relief effort in New Orleans was not slow or disorganized."

According to this morning's DTH, UNC-CH will receive $4.7 million in tuition revenues this year. Clearly, the students are contributing to the transit service above and beyond their $18 a year voluntarily imposed fee.

According to the Southern Environmental Law Center, with the impacts of new legislation such as the NC Clean Smokestacks law, by 2007, the largest source of NOx pollution in the Triangle, about 55%- will be "On-road mobile" sources, or as most people know them, our vehicles.

Stationary, "point" or smokestack sources, while a larger portion of the emissions pie today, will be reduced to roughly 25% of all NOx in the Triangle region.

Please see page 19 of the following report for details.
http://www.southernenvironment.org/Cases/air_reports/triangle_report/tri...

Why does this happen even though cars are getting better at emitting less? Simple- people keep driving more and Vehicle Miles Travled (VMT) per capita is going up.

Regarding people proclaiming the joys of free roads, I recommend:

1. All the car commercials on TV.
2. The half of the Beach Boys catalog which doesn't have anything to do with surfing.
3. Rascal Flatts' current Top Ten Country Hit "Fast Cars and Freedom."
http://www.acctop40.com/thisweekschart.asp?pv=1

 

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