December 2003

All Things in Moderation

The increasing amount of participation on this site is wonderful. The site has only been up for two months, and already so many more people are engaged in this dialogue than I expected. However, with the increased traffic there are also new challenges.

I am commited to remaining an open forum, and in making room for all kinds of voices. Anonymity often degrades the quality of our discussion, but it also allows more people to speak their minds than might otherwise do so. Anonymity will stay for now, but we may need to step up moderation of the site to ensure that conversations are safe, sane, and productive.

Orange Approves Benefits for Employee Partners

Bit of a no-brainer, really. The Orange County Commissioners voted last week to extend benefits to domestic parters of County employees. According to the Chapel Hill Herald, Commissioner Alice Gordon says they had wanted to do it before but couldn't afford it. The extra charge from the insurance company is gone, so they did it. It's nice to see the trickle-down effect of progressive social policies at big corporations.

Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro already do it, although Durham only offers the benefit to same-sex couples. What about straight cohabitators? Apparently less than 1% of the employees in these municipalities use the domestic partner benefit. The social impact on the community of doing this is an added value. This is an inexpensive way to do something good.

Super Campus

Faster than a eigth-year senior. More powerful than an 800-pound gorilla. Able to leap over local government in a single bound. Look, up on Airport Road... It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Carolina North!

Yes, tonight UNC officially unveiled it's long-awaited "draft" plans for a gigantic new campus to be built on the Horace Williams property. I have a cold and I'm tired so I'll try to be brief. Pardon any goofyness, typos, etc.

Gonna Make a Few Changes 'Round Here

Hey folks, I have made a few changes to commenting, and I will probably make some more. The biggest difference is that the e-mail address field must be filled in to submit your comment. (This doesn't actually limit anonymity since you can put anything there you like. Shhh, don't tell.) Also, there are new and improved guidlines on the comment form. Please read them.

Also, I am going to experiment with just editing or deleting the text from problem posts instead of the whole thing. I will continue to e-mail the author whenever possible (hint, hint). You'll see an editor's message, like "[DELETED:OFF-TOPIC]," instead of the post. I hope not to have to do this often.

I invite anyone who feels this restricts what they have to say to get your own blog. Blogging is fun! But this site is taking up much more of my time than it should this week.

Carrboro Mayor to Retire

I've heard this before so I'll believe this when I see it. The Chapel Hill Herald reports that Mike Nelson began his fifth term as Mayor of Carrboro by announcing it would be his last.

The reporter gives more free press to Jeff Vanke, who had already pledged to run in 2005, but apparently she couldn't be bothered to get the opinion of anyone else in town about who else might be a candidate. Maybe this go-round Vanke will file in time to get his name on the ballot, but he certainly won't be the only one.

Who you would you like to see on that ballot?

Is This Journalism? (part 2)

Today's Chapel Hill Herald has a story about Cam paying his taxes. Actually, the Chapel Hill News covered it too in a cursory headline story. But halfway through the Herald article, we read this paragraph:

Some political activists, unaware that Hill had settled up his tax bill, said that talk has been brewing about a possible recall of Hill, once he takes office. And at least one resident has called the Orange County Board of Elections in recent days and asked, in general, about the local recall procedure.

What "polticial activists?" Someone we should listen to? Why no names? The entire rest of the article is dedicated to this so-called issue about a recall. I'll say again: Cam made a mistake. But unnamed "activists" complaining about people they don't like... that's not news.

It's Happenning on Rosemary Street

Drive down West Rosemary Street and you will now see a huge pile of rubble where several buildings used to be. Tom Tucker's "Rosemary Village" development is finally underway. I'm both scared and excited.

To me, this represents a new era for Chapel Hill, especially downtown. Tucker's development will be compact but dense, and truly mixed-use. Street-level retail with upscale condos (and a few token affordable rentals) on top. The plan has some flaws, but that's no surpise since we've only done one or two things like this before (ie: The Fountains). It's decidely urban, and I like that.

If it's done wrong, this could be a huge drag to Northside. If done right, it could jumpstart healthy revitalization of West Rosemary Street. I like Tom Tucker, and I trust that he wants to help the community (as long as he still makes money). Still, it's so tall!

The public transit and planning nightmare that is our region.

Having lived in other parts of the country and visited other parts of the world that have livable, walkable, dense communities, it's sometimes hard to come home and be too positive about the state of affairs in this area. Just as grand old Durham always seems to be on the cusp of something big and grand and wonderful before plunging off the precipice into bad planning and disastrously bad governing decisions, the region as a whole seems to have good ideas and good people and decent governance but just can't seem to quite get it on track (pardon the pun) with planning and public transport. on the Radio!

Tomorrow on WUNC's The State of Things, they will be discussing politics and the Internet (blogging, in particular). The guests will be Zephyr Teachout of Howard Dean's Blog for America, Greensboro uber-blogger Ed Cone, and... me! Of! Wooo!

You can listen at noon and 8 pm tomorrow (Thursday 12/11) on WUNC, 91.5 FM.

What's in a Research Park

It's no secret that UNC plans for Carolina North (CN) to be a research park, along the lines of NCSU's Centennial Campus (CC). In fact, the guys in charge of creating Carolina North specialize in it, which I think is sort of unfairly stacking the deck for research, when earlier plans for CN indicated there would a be significant academic (ie: teaching) activity there.

Associate Vice Chancellor Mark Crowell was recruited by UNC directly after working with CC at State. (He's quoted as saying "We don't give away football tickets, why should we give away technology?" Doesn't that just warm your cockles?) And the leader of development of Carolina North is Vice Chancellor (and UNC alumn) Tony Waldrop, who came to UNC after building a similar institution at the University of Illinois.



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