March 2004

Why Not?

Guest posts from two readers
Two readers suggested this topic and framed it well, so I am including both of their suggestions. -Ed.

How about gay marriage in Carrboro and/or Chapel Hill? Surely we can't let San Francisco and New Paltz get ahead of us in ensuring basic rights for minorities. It's not only the decent thing to do--it would also give some positive publicity to our area (how many people had heard of New Paltz until this weekend?). The more communities that are doing this, the harder it will be to impose a reactionary, disgraceful constitutional amendment to ban it.
- Steve Sherman

Another Busy Night

Activists, start your engines! There are three great events tonight, addressing development of Carolina North, workers' rights on campus, and homophobia in the classroom. (All pertaining to UNC, hmmm.) Which one are you going to?

1. Town Council Public Hearing on the Horace Williams Citizen's Commitee Report and on OI-4. Starts at 7pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall. There are lots and lots of meetings relating to UNC's development plans, but this Monday is one not to miss. The Chapel Hill Town Council will hold public hearings on two issues that will define the future deliberations about Carolina North. I'll be there.

2. The Workers Solidarity Coalition teach-in about the history of workers struggles at UNC. Starts at 7pm, Greenlaw 101, UNC-CH. Sounds great! Panelists include: Fred Battle, leaders of the 1969 Lenoir strike, Keith Edwards, leaders of the Housekeepers Movement and UE 150. I hate that I will be missing this.

All Kids Are Gifted

Guest Post by Alan McSurely
Originally published as "School board right to end ‘segregation,'" a letter to the editor of the Chapel Hill News.

Several letters and at least one News & Observer column by Rick Martinez have explicitly attacked the NAACP and, by implication, Valerie Foushee and Elizabeth Carter of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board, for our efforts to provide equal educational opportunities for each differentiated (and gifted) learner in our schools. These attacks suggest an organized effort to racialize this initiative.

Ya Basta!

If you have been following this site (3/1/04 & 2/27/04), you know that on Monday, the Chapel Hill Town Council stated clearly that they felt the 90-day review period for UNC Development Plan Modifications is way too short. In fact, it amounts to little more than a rubber stamping of UNC projects. UNC Administrators' insistence on the lighting-round review is a clear indicator of their negligent attitude toward the Town. Chapel Hill would never make a decision that would affect UNC this much without extensive hemming and hawing and making sure everyone was happy.

Payday Lending in Carrboro

Many readers of may be aware of the major state and national movements afoot to reign in the activities of predatory lenders – lending institutions that specialize in products for low-income people and that charge exorbitant interest rates. While a battle rages between the cutting edge laws that have been adopted in NC and the federal government’s efforts to prevent state regulation, the cruel reality of payday lending goes on right here in Carrboro.

Domestic Violence

For the eighth time this decade a man has shot a woman or child in a domestic dispute in Orange County. Hopefully the victim, the girlfriend of Mark Wade Gentry (nephew of the man convicted in three other domestic violence murders), will survive. (She is in critical condition at UNC.) The previous seven died. It seems pointless to wax on about this subject on a forum like I say that because I assume that the gentle readers of this site are not the sort of people who do this. Indeed any sort of public outcry seems unlikely to reach that kind of scoundrel.

Still, here's hoping that it does some kind of good somehow. Domestic violence is not some kind of theoretical issue. It is something that is killing real people in our community.

Tragically, domestic violence is something that runs in families. Children grow up in abusive households and begin to think that Daddy hitting Mommy is somehow normal. And these same people think that it is okay when they are adults as well.

Can We Just Bus Them to Durham?

The Town is considering locating the homeless shelter in rural Orange County. That's a pretty strong statement about how we see poverty. More than 5 miles from the economic center of town, half a mile from the landfill, and outside the town limits.

I'm not surprised, but I'm disappointed (again) at the approach that seems to treat homelessness as an unsightly blemish on our community rather than a systemic problem for which we all bear some responsibility.

Important, But Not Above Reproach

Guest Post by Nick Eberlein

Now that UNC and Chapel Hill are prepping for new discussions over zoning and campus expansion, it seems like the editorial pages in the local papers have been handed their collective wet dream: "contentious negotiations," always ripe fodder for the opinion pages.

Woe is me, however, when I read rants like yesterday's editorial in The Daily Tar Heel entitled "Hostile Intention." I'm now convinced that what hampers both UNC and the town the most during these times of critical decision-making and long-term planning is the tendency of some in our community to blindly hop to one side of the fence or the other in reaction to either side's "hostility."

As both a UNC student and town native, I take strong issue with the DTH editorial board's assertion that "town residents would ideally like to live in a college town without the students." Nothing is further from the truth.

Foushee Running for Commissioner

You want some merger debate, I got yer merger debate right here: The Chapel Hill Herald reports that Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board Member Valerie Foushee will run for County Commissioner this year. I have to say, it will be a loss for the school board where I think Valerie has been a strong advocate for disadvantaged kids.

Sunrise Plans Emerge

During the elections last fall, part of suburban north Chapel Hill was up in arms about a proposal from Habitat For Humanity to build some homes off of Sunrise Road. Habitat managed to quell the unrest for a few months by establishing a public process including a charette (community planning meeting) and proposals from 4 different designers.

The designers who participated are Josh Gurlitz, Gary Giles, Scott Radway, and James Carnahan. Theirs ideas range from 42 to 56 total units, with various mixes of single-family and townhouse units. No matter what Habitat does, I doubt that it will be few enough for the neighbors. It seems they will be happy with nothing more than zero townhouses and one or two detached houses on the 17-acre tract.

Members of the Sunrise Coalition, which includes residents of the nearby Chandler's Green subdivision and neighborhoods in the area, remain concerned about Habitat's plans.



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