What's Going On

This is just plain wrong. It's impossible to say whether the minor arson attack at Orange County Commissioner Margaret Brown's house was political or random. The fact that she believes it was intentionally directed at her makes me seriously concerned about the state of political discourse in our community.

"I've been getting a lot of e-mails," she said. "They're very aggressive with a lot of emotion behind them."

The e-mails have been mostly about school merger, Brown said. They have said things like, "You'd better not do this or you'd better think before you do this," Brown said.

Who would think this was an appropriate (or effective) form of expression?

This leads me to two major thoughts about OrangePoltics.org:

Separate, but Equal?

In a move that could have surprised only those residents who live under rocks, The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board voted last night against discussing a merger with the county schools. According to the Chapel Hill Herald:

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro city school board approved a resolution Thursday night that supports collaboration with the Orange County Schools instead of merger.

The resolution -- which passed unanimously -- also calls for a special district tax in the county schools, similar to the one currently paid by city school district residents. It also asks that the county school board meet with the city school board to discuss ways in which they can collaborate, and how the process should be supported financially.

Board members barely discussed the resolution, which city schools Superintendent Neil Pedersen presented at a meeting earlier this month. Instead, they talked about three proposals that the Orange County Commissioners brought forth last week.

Local Media and the "B" word

Bias is a loaded word that gets thrown around indiscriminately now to characterize the purveyors of news we don't like, and to express frustration with the news choices of editors and program directors whose jobs are little-understood by most, and who can't be voted out of office when they piss us off.

That is to say, I don't think much of the word "bias" as a term of media criticism, and I tend to think of people who use it as folks who, well-meaning enough, don't really understand how the news business works.

But, someone asked for a thread on local media -- ahem -- bias, and so let's pick that one apart. A few thoughts and questions:

Cleaning up at Carolina North

Breaking news! UNC has announced that they will begin an 8-year clean-up process for the former chemical waste dump at the future site of Carolina North. I would suggest we should take this announcement (below) with a grain of salt since it comes straight from the horse's mouth.

From a UNC press release:

The university’s consultants, Arcadis Inc., will plan and manage the soil clean-up efforts – expected to take up to eight years and cost an estimated $10.4 million – as part of the Registered Environmental Consultant (REC) Program managed by DENR’s Inactive Hazardous Site Branch. Under the program, the university and DENR enter into a three-part administrative agreement with Arcadis, which supervises the clean-up according to state standards.

Whose House? Cam's House.

Well some folks are starting to get pretty worked up over the story of Cam trading property with the University. So let's discuss. I know emotions are high around this issue, please keep it civil!

The Chapel Hill News reports today that Town Council Member-Elect Cam Hill made a deal with the University to trade his house on Cameron Avenue for a nicer one on Rosemary Street. I think there are two issues here (correct me if I'm wrong). (1) Is Cam being hypocritical for criticizing the University and it's associates, and then cutting a deal with them? And (2) should this deal have been disclosed before the election?

Many folks, including Eric Muller at IsThatLegal.org, have taken issue with the fact that this deal was kept quiet for six weeks leading up to the election. However, I'm not convinced that this constitutes a "conflict of interest." (And yes Eric, there is a recall provision, ask Joe Herzenberg about it.)



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