December 2004

The future of public wireless

Recently the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has been working on rolling out what could be the largest public wireless network in the USA. That momentum was interrupted when Pennsylvania house bill 30, a.k.a. the "Verizon Bill," was introduced to the Pennsylvania legislature in Harrisburg.

Simply, Verizon doesn't want competition from the Wireless Philadelphia Initiative on providing wireless internet access. The key part of Verizon's argument is that the City of Philadelphia would be charging the citizens to construct the wireless network, pay for its long term maintenance, and supposedly for access to the wireless network itself. Verizon claims it would not charge citizens for the CREATION of a wireless network. But it is clear they would have to charge for ACCESS to the network once this future private network was constructed.

Carrboro Transportation Forum is Thursday

The Town of Carrboro is holding a forum for the discussion of the Carrboro Downtown Transportation Study. This is a great chance for folks to hear about different options that the Town is looking at. Possibilities include limiting cars on Weaver Street, installing roundabouts on Main Street, bigger sidewalks and more on-street parking. Come check it out Thursday Dec. 2 at 6:30 at the Century Center.

Here's the invite on the Town website (

Please plan to attend a community forum on the draft Carrboro Downtown Transportation Study, to be held on Thursday, December 2 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Century Hall of the Carrboro Century Center, located at the corner of Greensboro and Weaver streets in downtown Carrboro.

Neighborhood sidewalks needed

Guest Post by Joan Petit

Last year, Carrboro residents wisely voted in favor of a bond referendum for the construction of sidewalks and greenways. Now, however, some Carrboro residents, including my neighbors on Oak Street, are fighting sidewalk installation on their own streets.

If 75% of property owners on any given street formally oppose sidewalks, then the question goes to the Sidewalk Review Committee, who has the final say on whether sidewalks are built.

More media (im)morality

Following right on the heels of WUNC bowing to the fear of government punishment of acknowledging reproductive rights (which followed the Sinclair and Private Ryan flaps), CBS and NBC are refusing to air an ad by the United Church of Christ because it fails to condemn homosexuality.

Again, they use the same argument as WUNC: it's too "controversial." Again, they are shut down not for advocating but simply stating their own mission in commonly-understood terms. Our local UCC has taken the lead in condemning this cowardly abdication of media responsibility. Here is their press release:

Turned Away

UNC needs to say ‘no' to funding offer

from: Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday, December 04, 2004

For most of us, it would be hard to say no to $500,000 a year, especially if it promises to be followed by a gift of $12 million. But "no" is just what UNC should say to the Pope Foundation in response to its generous yet tainted offer to fund a Western civilization minor for undergraduates.

Much of the controversy surrounding the proposed donation is over the Pope family's association with the Pope Center for Higher Education, an aggressive critic of those areas of the UNC curriculum that suggest the scope of undergraduate education might be broader than the traditional Western canon.

Local colors

This week on OP we have discussed issues related to the physical center of our community such as transit, sidewalks, redevelopment, realignment, Carrboro's wireless internet, and Chapel Hill's downtown development corporation. All of these "downtown" issues truly affect our entire community. I have been thinking a lot lately about the politics of place, on a neighborhood level.

Is your vote counted?

Guest Post by Paul Jones

Christian Stallberg, who founded the local Computer Professional for Social Responsibility chapter, sends this announcement:

Is Your Vote Counted?
Panel Presentation and Community Speak-Out on the Question of Voter Integrity
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 7-9pm
Chapel Hill Town Hall, 306 North Columbia St.

Introduction by Joyce McCloy, Founder, NC Coalition for Verified Voting

David Price, US Congressman: 4th District

David Allen, Systems Engineer, publisher and tech consultant "Black Box Voting:
Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century"

Justin Moore, Computer Scientist, member National Committee for Voting Integrity

Lewis Pitts, Legal Aid Attorney, Advocates for Children's Services

Moderator, Christian Stalberg, founder, RTP Chapter of Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility

Workers struggle in Orange County

Guest Post by Steven Sherman

On Saturday, December 4th, community members heard powerful, disturbing testimony about why North Carolina needs collective bargaining for public sector workers. The context was a public hearing (the third in the state) held by the International Worker Justice Campaign at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

Orange County Femicide

Guest Post by Janeen Gingrich

In response to the November 29th domestic violence homicide of Shennel McKendall, 37, on UNC's campus, the Family Violence Prevention Center of Orange County and Family Violence & Rape Crisis of Chatham County are hosting a vigil tonight at 5:30pm at the Franklin Street Post Office. For further details about the homicide, please see the Raleigh News and Observer articles entitled “Man kills wife, self” from November 30th, 2004 and “Murder-suicide prompts focus on prevention” on December 2nd, 2004.

In light of these events, please join us in sending the message that domestic violence will not be tolerated in our community.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004
5:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine
Franklin Street Post Office, Chapel Hill

For additional information, please call (919) 929-3872.

Organized by the Family Violence Prevention Center of Orange County and Family Violence and Rape Crisis of Chatham County

One more road renaming to go

The Chapel Hill Town Council finally bit the bullet and made this name change. Seems like this was not a great process no matter how you slice it. Next question: What should they rename Martin Luther King Street over off of Legion Road?

I'm serious. The previous MLK Street in the Public Housing neighborhood off Legion Road will need to be renamed now that Airport Road is to have the MLK moniker. I have a suggestion, though some might feel that it fails to get away from our history of naming Public Housing streets after African Americans: How about naming the street for late Councilmember Barbara Booth Powell.

Many of you may not remember Councilmember Powell, but she served in the mid 1990's until her untimely death from cancer. Barbara served on the Council with me and was an outstanding advocate for affordable housing and public housing. Her leadership was critical to the development of the Rainbow Heights public housing in Chapel Hill. Her career was spent working for the state of North Carolina in the Department of Commerce investing in affordable housing and economic development projects across North Carolina.



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