Chapel Hill may disband two boards

I was pretty shocked to read today that Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy has written a memo to the Town Council proposing that they should end the Horace Williams Citizen's Committee (old web site, new web site). Just a few months ago, I helped to draft a plan for how the HWCC would proceed in the next year or two to study some of the issues surrounding Carolina North and to make recommendations on them to the Town Council.

In all of the discussion of Ken Broun's new committee to advise UNC's leaders, it has always been made clear that the HWCC would still exist to advise Chapel Hill's leaders. I have not seen any change in situation that would mean we don't need this service any longer. This decision would be a major reversal and it deserves more explanation than the Mayor has given.

At the same time, I was less surprised to read that the Mayor also proposes the end of town's Technology Advisory Board. The Tech Board has been struggling with both policy and personality issues and seems to be in a bit of a quagmire. The board's chair recently resigned with no notice and with no thought to how the committee might effectively continue its work.

Like the Horace Williams committee, there is a persistent and growing need for thoughtful advice in the area of this board's expertise. I sincerely hope that the Town's plan is to establish a new Tech Board that will be better structured and more oriented toward community issues. For example, the new body could be staffed primarily by the Town Information Officer (who reports to the Manager) instead of by the IT Director.

Will Raymond serves on both of these committees and has quite a lot to say about the Mayor's proposal at his Concerned Citizen blog.

The memo was sent out by e-mail but does not appear to available on the Town web site yet. :( So I am also including it below for your information.

AGENDA #13a(2)

MEMORANDUM

TO: Town Council
FROM: Kevin Foy, Mayor
SUBJECT: Conclusion of Service: Horace Williams Citizens Committee and Technology Committee
DATE: April 10, 2006

The Horace Williams Citizens Committee was established in October 2002 to assist the Council in preparing for deliberations with the University of North Carolina regarding the development of the Horace Williams property.”

The Technology Committee was formed in 1998 and charged with advising the Council on the formation of a technology plan, including the formation of a town-wide network.

Both Committees have benefited from the work of dozens of citizens, council members, and town staff, and have put countless hours into their work. The Horace Williams Citizens Committee Report and the recent presentation on Wireless Internet from the Technology Committee are evidence of the time and effort involved.

Having completed their missions, I petition the Council that we thank all existing and former committee members for their dedication and public service, and that we now conclude the service of the Technology and Horace Williams Citizens Committees, effective June 30, 2006.

Adoption of the attached resolutions would extend the Council's appreciation to these two committees and conclude their services effective June 30, 2006.

Issues: 

Total votes: 433

Comments

Would it be possible for existing committees to manage/study Carolina North issues? I know it's a huge project, but in smaller chunks, the Planning, Transportation, etc. boards might be able to sort through the requests like they do for other developments. However, the same arguement, I think, does not apply to the technology committee. Is there any speculation that UNC IT staff are making a greater contribution to the town's IT development? Will there be additional town IT staff hired?

Sent just a few moments ago...

April 6, 2006
Mayor Kevin Foy
Town Hall
405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-5705

Subject: Status of Technology and Horace Williams Citizens Committees (R-10, R-11)

Dear Mr. Mayor:

It has come to my attention that you have brought forth a proposal to conclude the service of the Horace Williams Citizens Committee and the Technology Committee to the Town of Chapel Hill. Though I serve on neither of these committees, I consider their areas of focus to be among the most important to the future of our community. The continued existence of these committees in some form is absolutely essential in order to tackle issues in the respective realms.

While there have been new developments in the past several months which lend additional input to the both committees, namely the new UNC-based committee on Carolina North led by Ken Broun, and Laurin Eastom's request for a public forum on the issue of a municipal network in Chapel Hill, I hope it is recognized that neither of these supplant the purposes of their respective boards.

Neither the HWCC nor the Technology Committee have “completed their mission,” as there will continue to be new developments in both arenas for decades to come.

Until the Carolina North project has reached its final stage of completion, there will continue to be a need for citizen input to ensure that not just the planning but the execution of the development are done in a way that conform to the strict environmental and neighborhood standards which are core to our community. The creation of a separate committee by the University does not negate the need for the town to continue to receive citizen input to influence their own decision making.

Likewise, Chapel Hill is visibly behind on their technology infrastructure. We are in desperate need of continued work in the areas of technology acquisition, a unified security policy, a useable and complete town website, and the integration of new technological advances into nearly every town department. Additionally, the consideration of a town-wide municipal wireless network, the hopeful eventual switch from proprietary to open source software, and the use of technology to better promote openness in local government present a number of challenges for which citizens' input will continue to be valuable for many years ahead.

I ask that you do not consider dismissing the service of two of Chapel Hill's most important committees without first developing a plan, in conjunction with the membership of both committees, to ensure that their goals will continue to be met with citizen input. If there is not an alternate plan in place for accepting citizen input in these two areas, I can only feel puzzled at a request to cease their existence.

Respectfully yours,
Jason Baker
Chapel Hill

This strikes me as the kind of move that has to have a "behind-the-scenes" rationale. Seems pretty precipitous to me. Anyone know, or care to speculate?

The lack of vision for how technology can support town services beyond email and word processing is the problem the council needs to deal with. Yes, the tech committeee has problems, but the biggest problem is the lack of responsiveness of town staff to efforts to move beyond the technology stone age.

Universities and corporations of any size have a chief information officer (CIO) reports directly to the CEO/Chancellor. I'd like to see a county-wide CIO who would report to the 4 elected bodies instead of to the town/county managers. That wouldn't change the town staffing needs because current staff would continue to manage the website and tech support.

The other benefit I see to having a countywide CIO is the economies of scale that can be achieved for growing the infrastructure. In defense of town IT staff, they must always compete for funding with other vital services such as police. Because of the small scale operations of the towns, the costs to upgrade/create infrastructure to a level where it can be effectively built upon for the future is simply too expensive. By going to a countywide infrastructure, we can bring access to rural areas and improved access to the urban areas while maintaining support staff at local level.

Then I think Ruby's suggestion for the newly reconstituted technology committee to report to the town's information officer makes a lot of sense because its purpose becomes how to use technology rather than how to build an infrastructure without any funding or political support.

Marc, that could work except the Council has already assigned a lot of extraordinary to advisory boards. For exmaple the Planning Board is responsible for the entire process of creating Neighborhood Conservation Districts (except for final approval) and they have recently asked us to create and implement a process for taking feedback on revising the town's Comprehensive Plan! This is all in addition to our regular duties of long-range planning and development review.

Terri, I completly agree with your comments. I can't believe it. There is a real lack of vision both on the Council and on the staff for how technology could be used to serve the community.

Ruby,
Thanks for the information. I was wondering 'out loud' if that was a possible intent of terminating the HWCC.

Terri,
A county wide position for IT sounds like a good idea.

I wonder how town council members will react to the proposed termination of the committees.

Marc

The most striking aspect of this, to me, is that lack of an attached plan for restructuring in order to continue to receive citizen input in these two areas.

Certainly there is room for improvement in the way we approach technology as a town, but abandoning the current committee without first deciding on an alternate plan for structuring input is ludicrous. Who better to enumerate the barriers towards progress in the current structure and means for sidestepping these problems than those who are currently facing them, the Tech Committee?

As for the HWCC, I feel strongly that we should take advantage of this opportunity to approach a development with a committee which considers all aspects of the process simultaneously. Placing it solely under the jurisdiction of the Planning Board, for example, is to place upon them an enormous burden outside of their specified focus. While I have confidence in the Planning Board's ability to explore aspects beyond just land use planning, I think it would be more appropriate to continue a separate committee which considers transportation, land use planning, environmental concerns, affordable housing opportunities, public accessibility, neighborhood concerns, integration with existing bicycle and pedestrian plans, design issues, water usage, and any number of other concerns in a contiguous and integrated manner. Carolina North is a huge project - perhaps the biggest impact of a project we've seen in Chapel Hill since the university was first constructed. Should we not treat something that big with an appropriate response?

As far as the Tech Comm. It's had its problems but, without it or some analogue, I'm fairly sure that real technological innovation in our Town's governance will slow to a snails crawl, that the approved enhancements will stall, that all the proposals on the table (for open document standards, usability, F/OSS pilot, etc.) will vaporize.

Marc, the HWCC gathered together a variety of citizen stakeholders with various expertise to help advise the Town on the multitude of issues CN presents. One committee focused on just the specifics of HWA's development while, hopefully, at the same time being agile enough to respond the UNC's new committee in near realtime.

I'm a strong believer in tapping into the citizenry's talent, innovation, imagination and expertise.

I work in a field where we say "the more eyes on the problem, the better".

I'm biased towards a process with the greatest possible citizen participation, the greatest possible transparency - one that leverages the unique composition of citizenry skills - to get the job done.

Maybe that's just the problem with keeping the board. It might generate advice/recommendations at odds with the political agenda of a few of our elected folk. Hey, it'll definitely be easier to ignore advice you never get instead of explaining why you're dismissing the researched findings of a citizen's panel.

Town Information Officer Catherine Lazorko's role is primarily public relations, which has little to do with technology strategy or assessment. While one might easily observe that the Town has no strategic technology vision, the solution would likely not come from the office of public relations. The suggestion that a County CIO position might serve some useful purpose for the Town is also unappealing.

However, a combination of UNC technology strategic vision with our Town strategic vision could produce beneficial results for the ENTIRE town, as well as substantial leadership on the Carolina North initiative. The County would certainly benefit from this in numerous ways.

The University has enough world-class resources to help the Town Council craft and execute a strategic vision. I don't believe the Town Council could do the same for the University.

I don't understand, Gregg. Are you saying UNC should guide the town's technology vision? Why? How does CN fit in to that?

Just making the point about the University's significant pool of resources available to the Town Council (and all other local governments in the State). Our Town Council might call upon those resources to help craft and execute a strategic technology vision. CN will be a part of the Town's future, and deserves to be considered as an element of any strategic technology collaboration.

Council just voted 8-1 to eliminate each of the Boards, Laurin Easthom dissenting.

Yep.

Kevin made it seem like the HWCC was casting about for work when it actually had submitted reccs. on reformation in Jan. Also, last year, it was the committee that talked of subdividing into various groups and this year, they did: transportation, environment, etc.

I don't know about the general committee malaise Kevin refered to, I do know that the folk on the environmental committee seemed quite jazzed. And we've already scoped out a years worth of work.

On the tech board justification, I didn't get the to cost savings issue - critical during this budget season. Without some kind of oversight, we're poised to waste another couple hundred thousand dollars on inappropriate technology decisions.

So, in the end, "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED", but the work far from done.

BTW, Laurin did a good job but it was obvious that this was a done deal.

The big loser, though, is probably UNC.

The HWCC is far from a complete policy document on CN's development. The environmental group was fleshing out/filling in the missing pieces.

Without an advisory board proactively filling in these gaps and reflecting on UNC's proposals in realtime, UNC will have to wait (unless the Mayor plans to rush CN through).

Will,

There are a few good active environmentalists at UNC so I don't think you should expect to see a complete disregard for the environment in the absence of HWCC. :)

Terri

Terri, one of the great things about UNC's recent rhetoric is how they've move much more towards using the university's own unique talents to design CN. I'm glad they're finally on beam with that idea.

Still, "the more eyes the better". The HWCC represented an organized voice of the citizens.

Now there's a vacuum.

I think you mean an organized voice of SOME citizens.

Are committees, boards and commissions labels that can be used interchangeably?

I don't see the vacuum Will but perhaps that's because from everything I've read and been told about the Ken Broun committee, it's purpose is to set out a list of design requirements for CN. You've worked on enough software design projects to understand the importance of such requirements. And you know that what you start out to accomplish is always mediated by practical reality. Those practical realities are well represented on the Board IMHO. OWASA is there to keep everyone aware of water and sewer capacity. The Chamber is there to keep everyone aware of the business realities. The towns are there to keep everyone aware of fiscal equity. The university's own staff is there, in the form of Doug Crawford Brown and others, to keep everyone aware of the environmental limitations.

So to me, the large size and extensive representation will ensure that the design requirements coming out of the committee are grounded in both ideals and realities. That process is being done in full sunshine so there will be plenty of opportunities for dissenting opinions from within and outside the committee.

Terri

Terri, I think you're a bit confused on the Broun committee.

Let's forget the "sunshine" hiding missteps of the last couple weeks and concentrate on public comment. It's 2 minutes. What about Q & A? It's my understanding that in the upcoming presentations, the governments will entertain 10 minutes of questions and answers while UNC is being cagey on whether they'll allow interogatories.

The UNC committee doesn't fill the "vacuum". It's UNC's beast, made up of UNC reps, not a 17+ citizen member group - a group made up of neighborhood reps, technical experts, town stakeholders. Oh, and most of them live and vote in Chapel Hill.

You can be sure that the Broun Committee is backed by UNC staff that can be called on to make or analyze proposals, while the Town has just shed itself of incredible asset for doing the same work from a citizen perspective.

Kevin was full of poppycock when he said the Council and UNC committee was "bound by the HWCC principles". Those principles are incomplete unto themselves, inconsistent at points and lack sufficient coverage (think light pollution, downstream site impacts, idling traffic pollution, etc.).

And that's your major confusion on the role of the Broun committee. I don't believe it's in their charter to create "design requirements" but more to discuss general principles.

The HWCC sub-committees (at least the jazzed up environmental group) was working to flesh out real requirements, to speak to specific environmental metrics, to layout an "evergreen" process for annual/bi-annual reviews of baselines, measurements and future possibilites.

The UNC LAC won't be doing that and I doubt UNC will call for such a thing from a citizen's perspective.

I could go on and on but I'll leave it there for this evening.


Broun Statement on the Leadership Advisory Committee for Carolina North

The purpose of the committee is to get community input on Carolina North from as broad a range of interests as possible. The process is intended to produce a set of principles that will guide the University in its preparation of plans that will be submitted to the local governing bodies in their regulatory functions. It is a University committee, to be appointed by the Chancellor, because it is formed for the purpose of giving information to the University, not for the purpose of reaching any decisions, final or tentative, by the community's governing bodies.

Carolina North planning process emphasizes collaboration By Chancellor James Moeser

Until recently, these visions for Carolina North were just that – visions. Today, we are ready to begin the transition from vision to reality. The first and most important step in that transition is to engage the people of our community and the citizens of our state in a dialogue about the guiding principles for Carolina North.

Though, Moeser also says:

This committee will include representation from the university, the local communities and the state and will address issues including fiscal equity, housing, transportation and zoning. The committee also may form subcommittees to tackle issues with more specificity.

The reformulated HWCC created sub-groups that exploring the same issues - with more specificity - with an eye towards doing that in parallel with UNC's CN-LAC.

Finally, from UNC's Mark Cowell's presentation:

Principles are touchstones. They are high level in nature and not measurable.
Principles guide a process; they are not specifications.
Think of planning for Polk Place in 1920s; principles guided last building (Dey Hall) completed in 1964.
Some details may have changed over time, but plans still adhered to guiding principles.

The HWCC (at least my sub-group) was delving into specific methodologies and metrics - in other words - "the measurable".

Mark Crowell's presentation.

Four months ago, the HWCC sent the following memo to the Council. Does this sound like a group with nothing to do?

I finally found the Mayor's real explanation for this in today's DTH: "The council likely will form another committee, with a different charge relating to the Horace Williams property as development progresses, Foy said."

MEMORANDUM

To: Mayor and Town Council
From: Horace Williams Advisory Committee
Subject: Process for the Development of the Horace Williams Property (Carolina North)
Date: January 6, 2006

The Council requested the Horace Williams Advisory Committee (HWAC) to develop recommendations on a process for the development of the Horace William Property, specifically on how to involve the public at all stages. Here are our recommendations for your discussion. To a large degree we used the attached December 6, 2005 Culpepper as a starting point for thinking about how a process involving the public should be approached.

Since zoning authority resides with the Town, we think it appropriate for Chapel Hill to take the initiative to develop the framework for achieving a new zone, while seeking advice and counsel from its partners. We think the Town is in the best position to seek broad community input. Indeed the present Horace Williams Advisory Committee represents a broad spectrum of the community and has provided the Council with important input from the community already. The Committee's work is the January 28, 2004 report, “Principles, Goals and Strategies for guiding Development of the Horace Williams Property,” which you accepted and forwarded to the UNC trustees in April, 2004. This report has informed us and provides a basis for these recommendations. We invite the soon-to-be-formed UNC Committee chaired by Ken Broun to meet with our committee to review and comment on our report. We are eager to hear UNC's comments which then could elicit further input from HWAC or the Council. We also recommend that the Council clarify with UNC the role and process of the UNC committee, so as not to waste more citizen and staff hours.

We agree the Horace Williams property will need a "redesigned" zone to ensure an integrated and cohesive development. However, we think the unique characteristics of this undeveloped property and its location in the community require the Town, in cooperation with UNC, to undertake several basic foundation studies – referred in the Culpepper memo as “key considerations”. Ideally, all parties, UNC, the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and Orange County would agree on a framework for next steps. In fact UNC and Chapel Hill (and Carrboro?) have already begun one foundation element, a transportation study. We see the development process as following this sequence:

A. The Town(s) and UNC agree on total process. If no agreement reached, Chapel
Hill invites input and proceeds with next step of foundation studies.
B. Chapel Hill develops basic foundation elements with UNC and citizen input:
transportation, land use, conservation, and basic principles.
C. In collaboration with UNC, the Town creates a new zone, inviting input from
public, County and Carrboro.
D. Town reviews UNC master plans using foundation studies as a guide.
E. Development review stage: detailed development plans are submitted for each
phase of the project, ensuring sufficient review time by staff and public.

Here follows more detailed descriptions of each stage and suggested methods for ensuring public participation at each step:

A. Agree on basic process

Recommendation: Town Council develops a framework for getting input from UNC, Carrboro and Orange County decision makers for a development process. If no agreement is reached, Chapel Hill moves ahead with foundations elements, inviting comment at appropriate stages from UNC, Carrboro, and Orange County.

B. Foundation Elements and Principles

We recommend that the Council begin the foundation studies right away. Previous UNC and Town studies already point to the need for their development. Unlike the structure of the OI-4 district zone adopted in 2001 for the central campus, the development of this property requires basic infrastructure not presently in place. To prevent the new campus from overwhelming northern Chapel Hill, careful planning needs to occur for all the elements (also described in the Culpepper memorandum.) We've added land use as an additional foundation element.

Transportation: develop a Transit Plan to establish transportation capacity needs up front with UNC and Carrboro.

We recommend the Council expedite the Long Range Transit Plan and convene the Public Transit Committee in February 06, and invite Carrboro to be part of this effort. This is a key element and needs to be in place before the zoning step is undertaken.

Public input: Transit Committee holds several public forums and small group discussions, take surveys for feedback, and provide web site materials.

Land Conservation and protection: Our Horace Williams committee document, “Principles, Goals and Strategies” recommends preserving “in perpetuity the maximum amount of open space possible with a goal of preserving 75% of the Horace Williams property as stated by the University.” The first step is for UNC to share their consultant studies with the Town and the HW Committee.
Recommendation #1: (1) UNC prepares a Conservation Map of the area indicating areas to be conserved. (2) HW Committee or an especially appointed Town conservation committee reviews the map with staff. (Review will include Orange County experts, previous County studies, and experts on DENHR's Little Creek Watershed Study describing sensitive habitat areas along Bolin Creek). (3) Town and UNC recommendations are reviewed at a public forum. (4) UNC staff (and Trustees?) meet jointly with the Town to agree on areas to be conserved.
Recommendation #2: UNC submits Remediation plan for landfill. Town staff asks outside technical expert to review results, community input.

Land Use: Land use decisions depend on UNC objectives and on the identified principles in the 2004 Report to Council. For example, the Transit plan will indicate capacity limitations.
Recommendation: The Mayor and Council request UNC to submit a list of desired land uses and land use intensities desired for the project. The Council could then request the HW Advisory Committee to review the types of land uses [ie. residential, commercial, office, lab, research, recreational, parking, etc.], and the intensity of each use [ie. square footage of buildings, height of improvements, number of residential units, number of parking spaces, amount of impervious cover, etc.] to assess they are within parameters defined by Transit Plan, the Conservation Map, and the 2004 principles.

Public Input: public hearings, community input through discussion groups, joint meetings between Council and Advisory Committees.

Fiscal Equity: The Town has requested that UNC as the future developer pay an independent consultant to develop a fiscal equity model to estimate direct revenue and cost from the development.
Recommendation: Town seeks agreement to develop a fiscal equity model with UNC. Town initiates a Fiscal review committee (could be a subset of HW Advisory Committee) to review fiscal impacts findings.
Include public by holding a public hearing requesting comment on UNC study results.
Principles: Our 2004 Horace Williams committee document, “Principles, Goals and Strategies” describes a number of principles and recommendations.
Recommendation: Ask HW Advisory Committee to develop measures and visual depictions for each principle identified in the 2004 Report.
Note: We recommend that each report principle is placed at the appropriate place in this process. For example, developing a remediation plan for landfill is in Conservation section, noise abatement plan would fit in under permit stage. HW Council Advisory Committee would share results with UNC Committee inviting discussion.
Public input: public hearings, discussion groups chaired by Council or HW Advisory Committee.
C. Create zone Creating a new zone will involve determining land uses, intensity of development, transportation issues, conservation areas, and all the rest. UNC is only the entity that can decide when to begin the development process on this land. Therefore, it would be wise to begin this step only when UNC is ready to move forward. If we start before, we could waste an enormous amount of time and energy, in much the same way as the MX-150 situation.
Recommendations:
a. Once UNC agrees to move forward, bring Trustees into process early. This might be appropriate stage to hold joint visualization exercise or “Charette”with trustees. For example, HW Committee could tweak Village Project and ask for input from public first, then hold a special session with trustees. UNC input would be communicated to everyone, including Council and HW Committee.
b. Public involvement: Form Community advisory committee or use existing HR Committee to give input during negotiation at designated stages.
c. During negotiation of zone, build in phased development percentages tied to capacity to ensure development plans on ground do not exceed capacity.
d. Agree in principle that outside experts can offer object analysis about appearance, functions, and land uses and what are the appropriate stages to employ them.
i. Conservation expert
ii. Storm water expert: Rich McLauglin, NC State
iii. At development plan stage, employ critique by outside architect on building appearance, use of space and function.
e. UNC and Town negotiate enforcement provisions
Public input: public hearings

D. Review concept development plans (Master Plan stage)
Recommendations: We recommend the following sequence:
a. UNC submits concept plans
b. Town reviews concept plans using foundation studies as a guide
c. UNC and Town employ “Visualization of plans” so public can interact with UNC proposals: use charettes open to the public
d. Include experts at this stage, e.g. storm water controls needed given intensity, water quality impacts, architect to critique appearance and functions
Public input: public hearings, charettes

E. Development review stage – detailed development plans
Recommendations:
a. Build in adequate review time for staff to review plans and to make comments; allow time for public input
b. Noise abatement plan, and other applicable principles from 2004 Report

Thanks for underlining that January "reformulation" presentation Ruby.

When I brought that up last night, I got no traction (but a few blank stares) from Council. Kevin continued to "bury" our report by claiming over-and-over that the Council shouldn't "make work" for a committee, that the members were in the grip of some kind of malaise and hadn't suggested any new work, etc.

What I was hoping for last night was a firm commitment on a new citizen's board with a specific outline and timeline of their duties. Surely, if Kevin plans to bring forward a new kind of group, he could've let us in on some of the details.

BTW, it'll be interesting to see how the membership of both committees behave as "lame ducks". My guess is that they'll both keep on plowing ahead until the clock runs out.

I wish I could have been there last night to speak on this, but I had another event scheduled that turned out not to interfere anyway...

Meanwhile, lacking a direct avenue for citizen input, I guess the easiest way for us to bring our thoughts on CN and Technology issues to the council is to do so directly. Perhaps they'd better feel the importance of having a commitee if I showed up and briefed them on a technology issue at every meeting, especially if you joined me.

"Lacking a technology committee to receive citizen input and develop a vision for technology use throughout the town, I'd like to take this opportunity tonight to brief the council on the importance of ... " might drive the point through after a few months if enough people showed up to do it every meeting. :)

As a member of the former CH Tech Board I am all for the boards retirement. I hope that the town council will be very careful in who it appoints to future boards.

I recommend that the council direct the Town staff to create new citizens board/committee training. This training could be a one day event about how local government works. A copy of Roberts Rules of Order for each new board member would be useful too. This could go a LONG way towards helping new committee members work together effectively.

In my opinion any new CH town board involving technology needs to have a small number of members and be laser focused on specific issues. ex. municipal networking (aka wifi), open electronic democracy, etc.

A requirement of meeting times needs to be made. Meetings for board/committee need to be held more than once a month. Subcommittees should meet more often than regular committees. All of these requirements can be stated and agreed too before board/committee members are appointed.

All Chapel Hill town boards/committees need to have a technology subcommittee. Technology permeates our lives and overlaps many aspects of our Towns life. Ex. Planning board should consider recommending to the Town Council the creating of ordinance that allows for wiring and antenna right-away for the creation of municipal networks.

Terri Buckner has stated there's no reason to be concerned about the lack of a citizen committee to address Carolina North.

Many citizens have noted that UNC is fast becoming more of a mega corporation pursuing “big money” biotech/pharmaceutical interests than an institution of learning. And Carolina North is slated to be a massive biotech research park involved in “government” work.

And not only is UNC now involved in biological warfare defense research but UNC is also one of six universities that will be part of biological warfare research consortium hosted by Duke University—which means an escalation of biological warfare defense research in our area (including courier trucks delivering pathogens).

And across the nation doctors, scientists, citizens and other elected officials (including Hillary Clinton) have protested and signed petitions against this type of research being conducted in populated areas due to the risks of biocontainment leaks from accidents or deliberate release stemming from terrorists or just mentally disturbed individuals.

Increasingly our elected officials and appointed committee members and local board officials are those who cater to the wants and needs of the new biotech/pharmaceutical “corporate” UNC.

UNC needs water supply in order to continue to expand—especially since UNC is focusing on biotech/pharmaceutical research. Biotech/pharmaceutical research involves solvents, chemicals, dangerous pathogens, animal experimentation (and suffering). . .and also uses more water than traditional classroom instruction (wet labs) and entails more water pollution.

Ms. Buckner assures us that “OWASA is there to keep everyone aware of water and sewer capacity.”

At a recent presentation of OWASA before the Chapel Hill Town Council, Mac Clarke, OWASA board member who retired in 1991 from his job as director of business development with Pfizer Pharmaceutical Corporation reassured council that water capacity and future proposed development was no problem based on past use and future projects of use coupled with conservation measures---but even Mayor Foy noted that OWASA could not predict the future extent and severity of droughts.

Terri Buckner assures us that, “The university's own staff is there, in the form of Doug Crawford Brown and others, to keep everyone aware of the environmental limitations.”

Douglas Crawford-Brown pushed the Town to join the CRed program calling for reduced air pollution but specifically said UNC would NOT join the program. Before Council, Mr. Crawford-Brown stated that less focus should be placed on pollution from industry (like coal-burning power plants) and more on pollution from individuals and other sources. And shortly after the Town joined the CRed program and pledged to reduce their air pollution, UNC petitioned to expand the capacity of their coal-burning power plant. In the face of public concern over this move UNC officials said the increased capacity would not involve increased coal use as they would utilize cleaner natural gas—then shortly after this statement they changed position and said they WOULD be burning more coal and also stated they didn't need the Town's permission to do so.

Terri Buckner assures us that “The Chamber is there to keep everyone aware of the business realities.”

During my candidate interview with the Chamber, Aaron Nelson stated that people who were concerned about the health and environmental risks of nuclear power plants and biological warfare defense research were just being NIMBY's.

The Chamber has given Mike Nelson a glowing assessment/endorsement and also posted that:
“Nelson will lead efforts to develop cooperative relationships with UNC and Duke University to attract university spin-off and technology transfer businesses. He stresses this will require working with the private sector to develop adequate wet lab space and other facilities for these businesses.”

Terri Buckner assures us that the newly formed UNC committee will conduct their process “in full sunshine so there will be plenty of opportunities for dissenting opinions from within and outside the committee.”

In full sunshine????? In 2005 the News & Observer reported that UNC was pushing for legislation that would allow the university to sue citizens who requested access to public meetings and public documents under Sunshine Laws.

Biotech/pharmaceutical corporations are wealthy, well-organized and have repeatedly come under fire for price gouging on prescription drugs: for environmental pollution of waterways; and for hiding test results showing the dangers of new drugs and GMO's in the pursuit of profits. And due to the lure of lucrative patents and million dollar research grants our local universities are increasingly wanting to become a part of the biotech/pharmaceutical corporate machine.

Do we need citizen committees to address issues involving Carolina North—absolutely! In fact we need a citizen committee to address the 21rst Century threats to Orange County—nuclear power; biological warfare defense research and GMO's—and UNC is engaged in biological warfare defense research and genetic engineering research.

BTW, I recently spearheaded a resolution addressing the risks of biological warfare defense research in populated areas that was passed at the Orange County Democratic Convention April 8th. I also spoke before the Chapel Hill Town Council advising that the budget needs to include more funding for the specialized equipment and training firefighters and emergency personnel will need to deal with potential biocontamination from dangerous pathogens as biological warfare defense research escalates in our area. I have more on this issue posted on my website www.robincutson.com

 

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