May 2004

War Over Water

Guest Post by Matt Compton

With all the trouble between the Town and the University lately, it seems funny that storm-water runoff would be the controversy that puts the two entities in court, facing off against each other, but that seems as if it will be precisely what happens unless either University Administrators or the Town Council decide to back down from a fight over the issue.

As for me, while I think the University is being unduly stubborn about this, the layman in me believes that Carolina has a case for going it alone. If UNC has a separate pipe system and a separate permit from the town, then it would not seem reasonable to ask the University to make a significant contribution to the Town's plan. And it is certainly wrongheaded for the Town to pursue Councilman Ward's plan to include projections including a University contribution into a budget for the Town's storm-water plan before any sort of agreement is reached.

But the question I'm really interested in getting answers to is this: How does this current dispute fit into the greater context of Town-Gown relations?

Nepotism or Politics?

The Orange County School Board just appointed a former board member, Susan Halkiotis, to fill a vacated seat until the next election. Halkiotis says she has no intention of running to keep the seat after the fall election. Sounds like an example of good government in action, right?

Problem is, Susan is married to Steve Halkiotis, who is the Director of Auxiliary Services for the school system, plus he's an Orange County Commissioner (they fund the schools). This means she could be in a position to vote on her husband's salary, among other uncomfortable situations.

Board member Randy Copeland reminded the board of the nepotism policy they recently put into place.

The policy, he said, should not allow husband and wife to hold positions so closely dependent on each other. "I believe we're placing ourselves in a position of saying, 'don't do as I do, do as I say do,'" he said. "I would be strongly opposed to seeking Susan, even though she's experienced."

Commissioner Race Gets Going

Finally! I tell you this July primary business is tough on us political junkies. It was sad to watch May 4, which should have been the date of our primary, come and go with only the thought of an election in the air.

A few newcomers will be challenging the two incumbent members of the Orange County Commision this year. Since this is such a "liberal" community (ha ha) most of the excitement will be played out in the primary election since the Democrats always win the general race in November. (Anyone know how long this consistency dates back? Have I asked that before?)

Not-Quite-Live Coverage

This is my attempt to blog the University's presentation to the Chapel Hill Town Council about their plans for Carolina North. It may be a little rough, I want to get the ideas up here as close to real-time as possible so I am writing things as they happen while I watch this meeting on cable.

It's 9:30pm and I just got home from a meeting to flip on the Town Council Meeting where they are listening to a presentation from UNC about plans for Carolina North. I was encouraged to see they were talking about how to forge a better relationship and work together to go forward. But this meeting does not look terribly friendly.

Now at the podium is Doug from UNC who is going over the same old crap we've heard about CN for a year.

OK, ViceChancellorforR&D Tony Waldroup is up. He is presenting 8 changes to the previous version of the CN plan:

1. He has good news about the school site: The CHCSS picked out a site for an elementary, and UNC is giving it to them.

Back Atcha

According to our favorite local Republican wingnut blogger, Chapel Hill Tire owner Marc Pons is pulling his sponsorship of WCHL due to their broadcast of Air America programming.

I was a customer for many years, and all that time they never told me I was morally unacceptable! Good thing there are tons of garages in walking distance of my house; I will not be patronizing Chapel Hill Tire any more.

Let the Games Begin

The filing period is now closed and we definitely have an interesting primary ahead of us. Thanks to Chapel Hill Herald Editor Ray Gronberg for pointing out that the list of candidates is already available on the Orange County Board of Elections website (which, by the way has made no noticeable improvement since the last election day debacle).

So... who you like and why or why not?

This is What an Independent Bookstore Looks Like

Last Monday, the Chapel Hill Herald ran yet another gushing story about Branch's Bookstore in Chapel Hill, continuing their pointed avoidance of the fact of the Internationalist's very existence! In the caption for the adorable photo of Kate Branch it said "...Branch's Chapel Hill Bookshop, which is Chapel Hill's only independent bookstore."

The first time the Herald made this mistake (about a year ago, when Branch's opened), I thought they were just stupid, but now it appears they are willfully promoting Branch's business while ignoring one of Chapel Hill's most longstanding progressive institutions! Here's what I wrote to the editor five days ago. They still haven't published it, so I'm resorting to posting here.

What's Up In Carrboro?

I feel like we've been neglecting Carrboro lately. What's been going on there besides the proposed tax hike, the the great Hanger debate, and random shootings?

Compare and Contrast

Today the Chapel Hill Herald reports that the Town Commitee on Lots 2 and 5 (or whatever awkward name it has) will be meeting to continue the ongoing conversation about how to best utilize these two parking lots in prime locations downtown.

I participated in a "charrette" several years ago that I thought came up with some good initial thoughts about how this land could be used creatively to meet the community's social needs as well as provide other services like a transportation hub, or some truly mixed-use buildings. After going through this and also sitting on the Downtown Small Area Plan Committee, I guess I OD'ed on ideas for downtown. Can someone tell me concisely what is really going to happen there? And who is going to pay for it?

In the same issue, the Herald also tells us that:

Scott Kovens and Eric Chupp of Capkov Ventures have their sights on about 150 acres of land right across the road from Southern Village, on the northeastern side of U.S. 15-501...

The West Bank Connection

Most folks in this area are pretty informed about Middle East issues. Although it's a global issue, the Palestinian crisis affects our community because of our strong academic, friendship, and sometimes cultural global ties in this college town. Well, now's your chance to listen to and talk to people who have lived in the West Bank and have some insight on the crisis. Just FYI, this presentation is geared towards the Christian faith community. However, I've heard Marthame and Elizabeth speak and have really gained some new insights into Palestinian human rights issues through their work.

Here's the announcement:



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