Since the start-up of BlueNC, I haven't paid a lot of attention to local politics. So imagine my surprise to find that the Chapel Hill Town Council voted on Monday to give its members health insurance for life. I can't find the story covered here, so I apologize if this is old news to everyone besides me.

But old news or not, I have to say, I'm stunned.


Effective July 1, Town Council members who have left office after at least two full terms (eight years) can receive the same level of continued coverage as retired full-time employees who have worked 15 to 20 consecutive years. The town would pick up 75 percent of the premium; the council member, 25 percent.

A former council member also may purchase continued dependent coverage after leaving office, and must pay 100 percent of the premium.
Even more disturbing, the motion passed 8 to 1, with all but one new council member voting in their own self interest.

One of the members who voted for this bill needs to bring it up for reconsideration. With the benefit of citizen input, I'm confident council members will see the error of their ways and repeal this ridiculous action.

Hat tip to Progressive Pulse



I don't think one can say they have "an individual say in the value of the services [one] receives" when a) there's no option to refuse those services and costs short of literally leaving and b) the valuation and demands are made by a group. To call that an "individual say" is a contradiction in terms. If my personal values disagree with the values of Wal-Mart, for instance, I can simply choose not to spend money there. And if my neighbors decide that I should shop at Wal-Mart, allow me to participate in their vote, and then enforce their decision so long as I live near them, I'd hesitate to say I had an "individual say". Your previous post was framed as a value proposition, but there's really no proposition being offered beyond "put out or get out"

I absolutely agree with the problem you describe. Complaining about taxes without understanding that a reduction in services will likely come with a reduction in taxes is silly. I'm absolutely willing to accept such a reduction in educational, aging, or waste services. Do I think all three are important, valuable services that I'm willing to contribute to? Absolutely. Given your value proposition approach above, however, do I feel like I'm getting a good deal? Not at all. You listed a number of expenditures that I would not have chosen to individually support, if I was actually being presented with the option.

To answer your questions directly, I would certainly like structures to be built that present a greater long term value. However, I would like the purposes of those structures to be considered in the value calculation to begin with and, if individual values are actually being considered, proportional-izing those costs to the individuals who benefit most and can suffer the burden. I absolutely would forgo public art if the cost of having that public art exceeded its value. I do not want to continue paying extra school taxes as I'm already paying school taxes with only indirect benefits. I would love to continue to contribute to the OCLT. But these individual opinions aren't even really relevant. I can't simply forgo or reduce those expenditures without breaking the law or leaving my home, my job and my friends.

Why do you expect people to "identify the services they value" and to "determine what they can live without" when you're not actually providing them that kind of choice? If I take $10 to the grocery store expecting to feed a family for a week, I'm going to have to make some tough choices. But if the grocery store simply takes $10 from me every week without suggesting my $10 is linked to what I can take out in groceries, I'm headed with a wheelbarrow straight for the produce aisle.

Certainly it is an unfortunate reality that people want everything cheaply. But the fact of the matter is that value propositions without actual propositions contribute greatly to that dynamic. If  we gave better control of use and expense to the individuals involved, you'd find out quickly what people are willing to forego. Instead, money is simply collected, regardless of use, and everyone is asked to demand what they think is best.

Of course you can't simply forego or reduce expenditures you don't agree with. But you present a picture in which you/citizens are a victim of elected officials who won't listen to you or who impose their values on the community. While it may not be direct control of each dollar of your tax bill, you do make choices by who you vote for and by not standing up to oppose decisions that are inconsistent with your values. 

It's been my experience that the elected officials in this community do listen and try to balance the differing opinions of those who take the time and trouble to share their thoughts and concerns. They also listen to their citizen's advisory boards (most times). If you want to have a say in how your tax dollars are spent, get actively involved. Learn about the conflicting positions within the community and help others understand your concerns. 

Look what just happened with health insurance--the community spoke and the council listened. It's not perfect and you will never have budgetary control over your tax dollars. But the community is not as helpless as you are trying to paint it. 

The N&O is reporting that Council will rescind the health care vote tonight:


The Council voted last night unanimously to rescind their June 9th vote and that's good. I was a little surprised at the anger showed by Mayor Foy in his response to Gregg Gerdau, who started the petition. If you haven't looked at the over 460 names/comments, it's worth doing so. Some of those who signed it are interesting too, as they are known supporters of many of those on the Council.

 I don't know why the Mayor would call the online campaign "nasty," but he did. I would say that the anger of folks in the last week was genuine and heart-felt, but I didn't see nasty. Did I miss what the Mayor is referring to?

Answer to your question, Fred....Yes, you missed because this council received very very negative emails and phone calls of which many went beyond your usual "we don't agree", and were more personal and attacking in nature.  I completely understand the Mayor's response. 



Thanks for sharing that, Laurin.  Maybe it would have helped if the Mayor had said that. 

Maybe it would have also helped if he had apologized for it being on the consent agenda in the first place.  Who put it there, or is that a Council secret?

Laurin, on the question of the nastiness of the tone of some calls and emails, I take your word for it.

And I understand the mayor's response too.

What I'm curious about is this, though:  what do you think accounts for the public outcry, the nastiness of some of the calls and emails, and the presence among the critics of even some of the Council's most ardent supporters?

This was, in my view gathered over 10 years here, a pretty unusual political moment.  What do you think underlies the intensity of the reaction? 

For that matter, what do others think? 

Thanks Ruby - I'll paraphrase, including a rewording of my first, probably confusing, line...

Cursing, threatening, personal attacks - not appropriate.

True emotion which includes pointing out that someone may have done something selfish, narcissistic, etc... is ok with me.

Perhaps it is because I come from Western New York, or that I come from a loud  Italian family, but I think showing emotion, good or bad, is a wonderful thing. It encourages dialogue. If the citizens of Chapel Hill had been lukewarm, this inappropriate vote would have stuck. It was the unleashing of pure anger that moved the Council to rescind.


And I forgot to thank the Council for doing the right thing, so thank listened to the people and I commend you for that...



Dave, I accidentally deleted your previous comment when I trying to remove the anonymous duplicate. I apologize. Please repost if you like..
Did they rescind it unanimously?  The N&O report doesn't say. 
Herald says yes.

 Eric, I don't begin to put words in others' mouths but I'm sure the timing of this issue along with local matters that were controversial to some, in addition to national problems of gas prices, unemployment, etc.  It has been quite too much to bear.  That's my guess but I'm sure there are others with different opinions.






I offer without comment at this time the discussion in the minutes of the budget meetings of April 21, 2003 and April 28, 2004 when health care for the Council was considered.  Note who said what and the various perspectives offered:

April21, 2003:


Mayor pro tem Evans explained that she felt the same way about this as she had about a Council pay increase.  She stated that she would agree to making health insurance available to Council members to purchase on their own.  Mayor pro tem Evans explained that she had run for public office because she wanted to give back to the community.  She expressed concern that providing pay and health benefits might induce people to run for monetary reasons instead.  Mayor pro tem Evans repeated that she would not support a request to have the Town pay for Council members' health insurance.



BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the following policy will apply:

(1)     Effective immediately, the Manager is authorized to notify the Town’s current health insurance carrier that the Mayor and members of the Town Council will be eligible for participation in the Town group health insurance plan on the same basis as full-time employees.

(2)     Funds to implement this change will be included in the Manager’s Recommended Budget. 

(3)     This policy is subject to modification by Council at the time any budget is adopted or at other times as determined by the Council.

Previous policies or resolutions in conflict with this resolution are hereby repealed.

This the 21st day of May, 2003.

April 28, 2004:

With regard to health care benefits, Mayor Foy explained that he had always supported that for Council members, whom he described as unique in the structure of the Town. This full-time categorization was purely for the benefit of an insurance company's eligibility requirements and had nothing to do with how the Council views itself, he said. "We are anomalies, and so this is an anomaly. And I don't see it as us making the choice. I see it as an insurance company making us categorize people," said Mayor Foy.

Council Member Hill agreed that this was just a category that did not reflect how much time the Council puts in or how they compare to full-time employees. It's a way to make serving on the Council more attractive to people, he said. Council Member Hill argued that unless the Town wants a Council composed only of people who are independently able to do the job without any compensation, it needs to make arrangements such as this. He pointed out that he was the only single person with children on the Council. The increase in this benefit would make it easier for others like him to run for Council, he said. This is a way of making a Council position more inclusive and more open to people, said Council Member Hill.

Council Member Kleinschmidt stated that tonight's discussion had reflected why it was so important to have diverse perspectives on the Council. Council Member Ward replied that he had heard all the rationalizations and did not agree with them. "To me, it's a classic case of feathering your own nest at a time when it just economically makes no sense," he said. Council Member Ward argued that increasing the tax rate and refusing positions but then asking that Council members be treated as full time employees with benefits was the wrong message to send to the community. There was significant interest in running for Council, he said, adding that this was not the way to encourage a more diverse group of candidates.

Council Member Hill pointed out that those who ran for Council had all come from neighborhoods that bordered Carolina North, and several were independently wealthy, he said. Council Member Hill noted that a third of the candidates had completely funded their own campaigns. He pointed out that no candidate had come out of Northside in years. Council Member Hill stated that the Campaign Finance Reform Committee would be looking at ways to draw more people into candidacy. This is one thing that would do that, he said. Council Member Hill described obtaining health insurance benefits as getting a raise. It did not mean that the Council was trying to put itself in line with full time employees, he said.

Council Member Verkerk described offering something to the Council that is not offered to part-time employees as an "unfair labor practice."

Council Member Kleinschmidt explained that he would not take full time benefits from the Town because he already had that from his professional life. But, for others, "that is the absolute barrier to candidacy," he said. Council Member Kleinschmidt stated that many people cannot leave their full time jobs to run for the Council because they would lose their health insurance benefits if they did.

Council Member Verkerk remarked that the health insurance issue was not what was keeping people away. It is the long hours and the meetings that start before 5:00 p.m., she said. Council Member Verkerk commented that the Town might get more diversity of they offered daycare during Council meetings.


Well I have a comment about that: Pat Evans is a perfect example of the independently wealthy, full-time volunteer that doesn't need benefits. I believe she was retired or supported by her husband Jack Evans (current quarterback of Carolina North and former head of the UNC business school) while she was on the Council.

There are a lot of full-time jobs that are not compatible with Council service - and it takes more and more time every year. I certainly don't want the need to earn a living to keep any qualified candidates from running or serving as an elected official in our community!

Ruby, as one who did not appreciate those folks on that other blog characterizing your financial history and status, I wonder why you would do the same to Pat Evans.  Do you know that she is "independently wealthy?"  Do you know their support relationships?  Do you know her benefit situation?  You are making assumptions and I think your comments are in poor taste and are ill advised.

As for your statement, "I certainly don't want the need to earn a living to keep any qualified candidates from running or serving as an elected official in our community!", I am puzzled as to what you want.  I can find no towns of our size where councils are full-time paid positions.  So if we need to work to earn a living, we have to make choices.

Some of us travel a good bit and that makes it difficult to serve.  Some may have employers who are not supportive of public service and therefore will not cut some slack on meeting the commitments that come with the office. Some are just in situations where they are not able to balance the demands of elective office and therefore just can't run.

So what are we to do?  I'm against making these full-time jobs.  One way to manage, however,  is to reduce the scope of the job.  I firmly believe that some of the growth in the time demands is the Council's doing.  Without some changes, it might only get worse, so only those who are able to spend the time, have independent means, and/or are not encumbered by a job will serve.

I don't want to see that but I don't think we should put all of this on the need to earn a living.  Some of that ball is in the Council's court.

Fred, something about your comment here makes me very uncomfortable.  What are you insenuating that Council drop from their schedules to make for time allowances?  I think if anything, I personally would like to see Council do more, not less, and that it's worth pursuing the necessary actions to ensure that this is possible.  If the time commitment on an individual level is too daunting, I'd like to see us explore other options like expanding the size of the board, dividing more activities into town boards, allowing them ample time examine and take appropriate action on issues, etc.  If the foul-up with health benefits illustrates anything, it's that we need provide the resources to allow our Council members to spend more time on agenda items and have better input from staff and boards, not less.

The limitations on holding office coming from an unsupportive employer or choosing to travel excessively are not on par with the limitations of being financially unable to make such a commitment.  I would guess that most people are more able to seek a different employer or change their travel situation to run for office than are able change their entire socioeconomic status.

Jason, I think that if it's so difficult for people who hold jobs to also serve in elected office, then something has to give. I reject making these positions full-time jobs. Therefore, we must change the demands on the positions if we want those with jobs, families and other interests to be able to serve. (See this Dec 2006 piece on this.)

What I think changed is that the Council moved from the essence of the council-manager design. When the manager movement hit the US in the early 1900s, it was to add professional expertise and executive stability to compliment the political perspectives of the elected legislative officials. The majority of governments in communities over 25K now use the council-manager form and seem to believe in its benefits.

Should we re-evaluate the model and go to a different one? I would say no. Or, should we expect the council to let the manager and the professional staff execute the policy they make? Some, including me, believe that we have a council spending too much time trying to be the "professional staff."

Some of that is surely political but some of it is now habit. Thus, I guess it would make sense to some that they should be entitled to the benefits that were designed for the staff and not the elected officials.

I, for one, would much rather have elected officials who take the time to fully understand the projects and issues they are voting on than to merely rely on staff's assessment.  We have a great town staff, and I am continually impressed with the hard work of the many people I've encountered in every department.  But our manager and departments are not politically accountable for the decisions they make.  It's impossible to hold a regular employee responsible to the same level that it is to hold an elected official.  If a Council member continually makes decisions in a way that is unacceptable to the people of Chapel Hill, the people have a mechanism for ending their service and setting a new direction.

At the same time, if we want to respect the professional judgment of the town staff, we've got to have elected officials who are knowledgeable and just as importantly, take the time to examine various options with appropriate rigor. In many ways, the role of town support staff are to take decisions and boil them down to something that elected officials can understand.  The more engaged your elected officials are, the more able they will be to operate in the gray areas between what might otherwise be black and white decisions. Chapel Hill and Orange County in general have a very well educated and very creative population. It would be a shame not to harness as much of that knowledge and creativity as we can in our decision making processes.

What trade-off are you willing to make if you want a council that requires a lot of time and people who have to work want to serve on it?  How is it other entities seem to manage this? Not every council has retirees, those living on trust funds, those supported by a spouse or those of other independent means. Lots of people with jobs serve all over this nation.  Maybe we should stop seeing Chapel Hill as the only case of its kind.

And yes, managers are politically accountable to the people who appoint them.

The trade-offs I'm willing to make are those that we have in place in terms of stipends and benefits, and have recently implemented in terms of campaign finance.  Please read my previous comments. If a person simply cannot find the time to meet the requirements of a representative position, we're not doing ourselves a service by asking the entire board to do less. While I'm not saying we should make it any harder to serve on Council, restricting busy people doesn't categorically deny a population in the same way that restricting those without money does. But I'm getting tired of playing into the notion that this is a simple dichotomy without other solutions.

To address your second comment, managers aren't, and shouldn't be, accountable in the same way that Council members are.  In order to hold them accountable, Council members need to be adequately informed of how policies are being implemented, and this, as we seem to keep going back to, requires time.

I think if a town the size of Chapel Hill has full time politicians running it then that's a sign that we're asking/expecting them to do too much.  Also it creates the vocation locally of full time politician, which isn't good IMO.  If you're a full time politician in office then the stakes in an election become a lot higher because if  you lose then you're unemployed.  If you're a private citizen then deciding to run for mayor becomes a much bigger deal because it means if you win the election you have to quit your regular job.


Fred - I couldn't agree more. The following is only my opinion, so please don't maul me...

How much time and money did we spend to change the name of Airport Road to MLK boulevard? I'm not trying to beat a horse skeleton, but was it really necessary  in the scope of what we need our town government to focus on? Think about what we really need vs. what we want, especially in this economic climate.

Take a look at this -

Now, I can't stand Bush. I would have preferred the overripe melon I purchased today as president. But is this what TOWN government is supposed to spend its time doing? Really?  You may say that the Council was speaking for the people, but believe it or not, there are citizens in Chapel Hill that support Bush; they just aren't the loudest voices...And do you really think Bush is going to stop doing what Bush does because he opens the paper one day and sees that the liberal Chapel Hill town council doesn't like him? Come on. It might feel good, but what does it REALLY accomplish?

I would prefer Council spend time on parks, trash, fixing functional problems with roads, land use, water and sewer issues - ie, practical issues relating to Chapel Hill directly. This would decrease the service load and therefore time spent.

Remember, it's just my opinion so don't hurt me...





In the instance you refer to, the Council was acting in response to a petition from a group of citizens. A majority of Council actions are in response to citizens' petitions. Would you prefer that the Council just say "that's not worth anyone's time" and dismiss further action on these petitions? I think it's great that we have a Council that ANY CITIZEN can petition regarding any issue and that this Council does not dismiss those petitions with a wave of the hand but refers them to the Town Manager and Staff for further consideration. Yes, this type of governing requires much more time on the part of everyone involved but in the end I believe that it is probably much more responsive than most of the municipal governments in this area. They may sometimes seem like minor or frivolous issues to you or me but they aren't necessarily viewed that way by the citizens who bring them to Council. If I have to err, I'd rather err by having a Council that is more responsive rather than less.

George - if some citizens of Chapel Hill had a problem with Bush, could they not have constructed a letter themselves without wasting (my opinion) the time of the town government and passed this on to Bush (who could care less anyway what you think)?

Let me tell you a story - I had something expensive stolen from my backyard when I lived in Hillsborough. Our neighborhood was terrible. The police were very familiar with the criminals that continued to break into houses/carports and take things. The police said there wasn't much they could do to help. The blamed the courts for continuing to let these people out of jail, if they indeed were given jail. So, I went to the Orange County Commissioners for help. All of them but one would not even entertain listening to me. They said the problem was not under their purview. Steve Halkiotis did speak with me and didn't even speak of "purview". He wanted to help. (The cops told me to protect myself (get a gun). A lawyer told me to keep my powder dry (get a gun). A Chapel Hill magistrate told me "...if I see a snake coming down my driveway, I would chop it's head off".)  

So George, if helping me wasn't "under the purview" of the majority of the commisioners, it seems as though elected officials can and do make judgements as to what they should or should not spend their time on. I don't believe that castigating President Bush (although, as I said, I can't stand  him) falls under the purview of Town government. I just don't...

And just because a citizen or group of citizens has a concern doesn't mean it warrants Council time - it may not be all that important (or a relevant governmental issue) in the grand scheme of things. That's where judgement comes in...



There's a distinction here.  In Washington, we have politicians, people who push their own agenda and are often unwilling to even acknowledge the concerns of others.  Locally, I like to think that we can have elected officials, those who serve all people regardless of political alignment.  An elected official is there to listen to everyone, not just those who (s)he feels are most important.  It would be a disservice not to listen and respond to the primary concerns of a segment of our population, even if they might not be a top priority to everyone.  I don't have an opinion on every action Council takes, but someone does, and I'm happy that our town is taking the time to address the concerns of everyone.  It is possible to hear citizen grievances about federal policies and still have the trash picked up once a week.  I can't imagine us being any more responsive or more democratic if local governments addressed fewer of the public's concerns.


i could only get one local elected official to listen to me when horrible things were happening in my neighborhood in Hillsborough.

 And don't you think the Chapel Hill town Council was pushing its own agenda with this lifetime health issue?

I agree town government should listen to everyone, but they do have to make judgements concerning what they spend their time on...If conservative republicans started coming out of the woodwork in Chapel Hill with their issues, do you think the Council and Mayor would be as receptive?

For instance, how much time would be allotted if I asked the Council to draw up some kind of proclamation supporting President Bush? Of course, I would never do that, and it would never happen, but would I even be listened to?

 jus'  askin...


"how much time would be allotted if I asked the Council to draw up some kind of proclamation supporting President Bush? "

Three minutes, according to the Town Council's procedures.


I think you confirmed the point I was trying to make. When you went to the County Commissioners with your problem the response was, in your words " All of them but one would not even entertain listening to me.". I believe that the difference in Chapel Hill, the one I appreciate, is that you would have been listened to by the Council and they would then refer it to the Town Manager and his Staff to be looked into further. They don't judge the "worthiness" of a citizen's petition before hearing it. They hear it and then refer it for further consideration. Does that amount to wasting the taxpayers' time?  Certainly not if you happen to be the petitioner. So my point was that this Council takes the time to at least listen to its citizens. It may not always act the way that some would prefer but at least they give everyone a chance to be heard. As you pointed out, this doesn't occur everywhere.

Count me as one that thinks the Chapel Hill town council should not spend time and effort on citizen petitions about things like impeaching the President of the US.  Is everything connected to everything else?  In the broadest sense, yes.  But so what?  Does that mean every politician or public servant everywhere must have a publicly held opinion on every issue?  Imagine what the town council election campaigns would be like if in addition to candidates giving their views on what should be done in Chapel Hill they also had to give their views on every other topic in the world.


The Bush impeachment issue is one issue but really it consists of a hundred others.  Should he have pushed war?  Should he have pushed ethanol subsidies?  And on and on.  But we also have to address all of these issues with regard to David Price and our US Senators.  And since everything affects everything else we need to know how all the other US Representatives and Senators vote.  And that goes for NC state officials too.  Abortion.  Gay marriage.  National fiscal policy.  Mideast policy.  NATO strategy.  Should we drill for more oil or invest in alternative energies or both?  There is no end to the questions. 


But the larger point is, practically speaking, what does any of this really have to do with issues like whether Chapel Hill should build a new aquatics center?  If we should ask the Chapel Hill town council to determine whether they think Bush should be impeached then should someone ask Bush at his next press conference whether he thinks Chapel Hill should build a new aquatics center?


We live in a town and we need a council of people to run it.  The purpose of the town council is to run the town well so that the citizens of the town can do whatever they want, whether that is trying to impeach George Bush or something else.  In the broadest sense I care what Kevin Foy thinks of George Bush but not more so than what my next door neighbor or anyone else thinks.  There are an almost unlimited number of outlets for expressing views on George Bush and a myriad of other issues but there are few entities, such as the Chapel Hill town council, devoted solely to the welfare of the town of Chapel Hill.

is that humans are fortunately blessed with brains capable of viewing the world simultaneously on many levels. And discriminating between a silly idea such as asking Bush about our local swimming pool and voicing concern that funding for local needs is being compromised by ill-advised military spending. I believe we should think as big and as complex as we can. In fact, our future may depend on it.  

I think each of us should think as big and as complex as we want to.  I generally like to think big and complex, which is how I came to the conclusion that it is best to address Chapel Hill issues through Chapel Hill tools and national issues through national issue tools, of which there are very many, unlike Chapel Hill tools.

 What are we going to do if someone presents a petition on Issue X and the council endorses it one week and then the next week someone else presents a petition on Issue X taking the opposite position?  Does the council endorse it only if the latter petition has more signatures than the former?  Do the signatures have to be validated as those of registered Chapel Hill voters?  If the number of signatures doesn't matter then do the council members make their decision purely on their own opinion?  If so then aren't town council candidates open to every conceivable question during their campaign?  What if a council member agrees with my views perfectly on local issues but then someone brings a petition involving a national or international issue and that council member votes opposite of my views?  Do I  vote against him/her in the next election even though his/her views on local issues mimic mine closely?  Why do I even have to make such a decision, especially since there are a thousand other avenues for the petitioners to express themselves politically that don't require forcing each Chapel Hil town coundil member to divulge his/her personal opinion?

 And meanwhile we're debating whether Chapel Hill town council members should get health benefits after a couple terms because their job is so time consuming.  One way to make it less time consuming is to let them concentrate on matters directly related to Chapel Hill, leaving both them and us more time to concentrate on whatever other matters interest us. 

Orange Chat has a perfect Carrboro example of Dave's point. Apparently because one alderman stepped in dog poop, the town's staff and elected officials will now be wasting time looking into possible solutions control measures. It's not just the elected officials who have more work than they can finish. For everything they put on themselves, they put as much, if not more, on their staffs.
The Board of Aldermen has been petitioned by the public on this matter twice.  And I receive one-on-one inquiries from the public about a pooper scooper law at least once a year.
It's not the poop that's the problem. It's the lack of respect some people have for others. That isn't a problem that can be fixed through law. Some problems need to be addressed by citizens themselves, using social structures rather than ordinances.

Terri, I could not have said it better. Amen.



I totally disagree with the notion that a local government should not concern itself with other levels of government. Local governance is inextricably linked to other levels of government. When a corrupt state and/or federal government goes unchallenged, we bear the brunt on the local level.In fact, I think it is essential that local governments communicate their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with other linked governments.

We need a 'foreign policy" on the local level, just as every other level of government needs to communicate beyond its parochial concerns.

Finally, in these days of extreme corruption and criminal behavior by the Bush administration, to stand by and act as if it is of no concern to us locally is self-destructive and immoral. Messages from local governments could play a key role in reining in this monster that we have allowed to grow. We are living in low-grade fascism and local communities should absolutely use whatever power resides within local government to counter this cancerous trend.


How is a silly statement from the town council a "challenge" to our corrupt federal government? That's the most self-aggrandizing thing I've heard in quite a while.

Messages from local governments will not pay any role in "reining in this monster", particularly when those local governments continue to conduct business as usual with the federal government while making such vociferous "challenges".

I agree with what a previous poster said on this issue -- if town practice allows for a petition process to dictate council matters and this issue was petitioned, then I'm fine with the council respecting that process and acting on it. But to defend this as if it was some kind of brave act that will lead to any kind of change is, well, unfathomable.

I suppose that plenty of nice, moderate or even liberal local governmental figures stood by and quietly allowed the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco etc. to destroy democratic institutions/personal freedoms in their countries under the theory that they were not in charge of that level of government.

I think the Board of Aldermen took a stand against the Patriot Act because we believe that the Patriot Act is un-American.  Whatever evils are being perpetrated under the auspices of that law are not being done with any tacit support from us.

Does that mean we need to weigh in on every federal or state issue?  No.  But it is absurd to think that there is no relationship between Federal tax/war policy and the rising cost of living in Carrboro.


local government wouldn't/couldn't help me when criminals were breaking into houses in our neighborhood. Mark - Don't you find that somewhat "funny?" At all?

 Again -it was not under their purview...It seemed to be under no one's purview.  

We will have to agree to disagree on this one.

By the way - may I respectfully ask that we not compare George Bush to Hitler, even by subtle implication? Hitler turned 12 of my relatives into soap and lampshades, so I have a dog in this fight. He may be a dolt, and yes, his actions have led to many deaths, but he is not a homicidal dictator.

We have been in many wars that people feel we don't belong, and certainly the federal government has overstepped in areas, but to compare the US to a fascist state, even a "creeping fascist state" seems a "bit" too much... 


I tried to think of a way of making my point without implying anything about Pres. Bush.  But I don't think your point there takes anything away from mine.  I was very concerned about the state of democracy in the United States.  Congress was reducing our privacy and freedoms and the 2000 election was, at best, dubious.  Now that George Bush's days in office are numbered, it is easy to say that such concerns were overstated, but I don't think they were at the time.

All that said, obviously not many episodes in modern history (the Rwandan genocide and Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge) can seriously be compared to the Holocaust.

When people ask how is council going, they also say things like, "that must take a lot of time".  I think people who might run for office might hold back because of the amount of perceived time spent.  It is a lot of time, and Ruby is right that not all full time jobs are compatible with council service.  Try council service, a full time job,  2 small kids and a very understanding spouse who has limits....   Doesn't work so well.  I had to adjust.



For two reasons, I would not want the town council job to become full-time, whether with professional pay and perks or not


First, if it were a full-time job, the council would become homogenized, primarily staffed by people with training in law, public administration, and government.  I think that it is important that the council represent a cross-section of the citizens, drawn from the mix of citizens that they represent.  Without that, a town council would suffer the same fate and criticism as the U.S. Congress, that it is out of touch with those whom it serves.  I wish that there were some blue-collar councilmembers, because the town government employs primarily blue-collar workers, and there are many such workers in town.


The second reason is that citizen participation would suffer because many more meetings would be held during business hours, when the bulk of the people in town could not attend and participate.  We saw that after the 1995 elections when, for the first time, the majority of the councilmembers did not work for a living.  Mayor Waldorf, wanting to be home for dinner with her family (a worthy goal)  scheduled full council meetings (but not the Monday night ones) during weekday daytime, and the bare majority agreed.

It caused a tension within the council and harmed citizen input.

Well put, Jose, although I like living in a town where the council/aldermen  express a world view.  Certain resolutions passed in recent years have little or no value, really.  But I can certainly get behind local elected officials who vote the same way I do in other elections. 
I remember the Carrboro BOA passing an anti-war Iraq resolution last year that had no political consequence locally or influence nationally, but could not pass a resolution against locating the transfer station on Eubanks. That would have been a resolution that might have carried some weight, but the BOA punted. There was a personal letter by Mayor Chilton but no Carrboro position.

In today's Chapel Hill Herald, Ms. Eastholm notes that she looks at her service on the council as "community service" and "public service"

 So, my question is: what is community service?  What should the expectations be of community service?

Ms. Eastholm -- if this is community service for you, then why do you expect fringe benefits?   "Community service" is service provided to the community without the expectation of compensation.  Community service is done for the betterment of the community at large and not for personal gain.

It is not that most people do not appreciate what the town council does.  It is not even a liberal/conservative/communist/whatever-else-people-want-to-label-it issue.  It could be construed as an equality issue: no other employees receive such benefits after 8 years of service.  It could be construed as an issue of the Council members' arrogance -- giving themselves such costly benefits without a proper financial study  and without the input of the citizens they claim to serve.  It could also be construed as a class issue -- an "us versus them" issue -- the the local political elite (many of whom have money) granting themselves benefits that the "others" who work for the same organization do not get.

If I were a politician or elected official (use whatever term you want), I would not want my constituents to perceive any of the aforementioned scenarios as true.  Our Council members are supposed to be leaders, but how can a community support leaders that vote themselves special, costly, perks without proper public discussion?



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