January 2006

Ken Broun to lead new Carolina North committee

Why are the University's community relations people so tight-lipped about their new Carolina North committee? The town's Horace Williams Citizens Committee (HWCC) first learned about it in the paper in October. But at our last several meetings we have asked our University representative, Linda Convissor (UNC Director of Local Relations) for any news and she had none. When I ran into Jonathan Howes (UNC Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Local Affairs) he asked me why we keep hounding Linda for information.

Perhaps it's because we can't collaborate with a partner that doesn't share critical information? It's also because "UNC news" is a standing item on the HWCC's agenda, and we can't do much of anything without it.

The chairman of a new "leadership advisory committee" being set up by UNC to get input on Carolina North planning will be Kenneth Broun, a former mayor of Chapel Hill and former dean of the UNC School of Law.

It's transit time

Thanks to dent (The Independent Weekly's excellent politics blog) for pointing to a new web site that articulates the plans and the need for serious regional transit in the Triangle.

TransitTime.com highlights the current proposal for a rail line from downtown Raleigh, through Cary and RTP, ending in downtown Durham. It has the first credible explanation I've seen for why the airport is not in phase one, and it shows all the great additional lines that can extend the system in the future, including ones from Chapel Hill to Durham and from Chapel Hill to RTP.

The site even includes a handy form to e-mail a whole bunch of elected officials whose support is crucial to the project.

Serious sustainability at OWASA

Sustainability - it's the buzzword that gets used and abused but somehow a useful replacement word is never found. It gets bandied about constantly as corporations, governments, and other agencies seek to position themselves for a future of inevitable resource scarcity, increasing energy costs, and pollution blowback. It gets hard to tell the greenwashers from those authentically committed to adaptation and innovation.

The Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) recently published its first Sustainability Report (download PDF). It reports on many aspects of providing water and sewer services in an environmentally sound manner such as strategies for maintaining high water quality, a commitment to water conservation, the partnership with UNC for the utilization of wastewater for non-potable uses, energy efficiency, green design features at the new Operations Center, hiring a Sustainability Administrator, and recycling – to name a few.

Talk talk talk

The DTH reports renewed saber-rattling from Katrina Ryan over Carrboro's vacant Board of Aldermen seat, but no application yet. So far the applicants are: Dan Coleman, Catherine Devine, Lydia Lavelle, and John Marold (whose web site says he lives in Chapel Hill - oops! - but also that he speaks Spanish and serves on the Carrboro Human Services Committee Advisory Board). Applications are due tomorrow, so don't delay, folks...

While Ryan said she thinks the aldermen are not likely to select her after they declined to appoint her in December, she added that she will try a final time for her neighbors' sake.

Her application will include a letter of recommendation from former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, for whom Ryan campaigned, and a petition from 525 fellow annexees in favor of her appointment.
- The Daily Tar Heel - Ryan to pursue Carrboro fourth seat

MLK day events

This announcement via e-mail from Al McSurely:

I hope you will post an open invitation to everyone about the 23rd Annual Martin Luther King Service at First Baptist on Monday, January 16th at 11 am. Dr. William Joseph Barber, Jr. will be speaking on War and Poverty. He recently won the Presidency of the State Conference of the NAACP, ousting the sitting President, Skip Alston, from Greensboro in October 2005.

Dr. Barber held the Statewide Directorship of the N.C. Human Relations Commission in the early l990's. He is an outspoken opponent against the War in Iraq, and takes most of his scriptural texts from the Old Testament prophets, like Dr. King. The State Conference of the NAACP has over 80 Branches, over 15,000 members.

Dr. Barber was strongly supported by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Branch 5689, under the leadership of Fred Battle, and the Northern Orange Branch, under the leadership of Keith Cook. Dr. Barber has named Al McSurely, local civil rights attorney, as the Chair of the Legal Redress Committee.

No Weaver Street for Hillsborough?

The Hillsborough Board of Adjustment rejected a very good site plan for Weaver Street Market in downtown Hillsborough last night, voting 3-2 in favor. A 4-1 vote was required in order to pass the plan. Paul Newton and Al Hartkopf cast the two votes against Weaver Street. It is not at all clear why they voted as they did. It doesn't make sense. I think there will be a lot of people in Hillsborough who will want to know why, and who will want to know how to correct this mistake.

Cheaper by the dozen

The Daily Tar Heel had a nice summary of the twelve candidates vying for Carrboro's vacant Board of Aldermen seat. Unfortunately the list was illegible online, and now isn't online at all. The applicants are: Alena Callimanis, David Beck, James Carnahan, Stephen Clossick, Dan Coleman, Catherine DeVine, Robert Kirschner, Lydia Lavelle, John Marold, David Marshall, Katrina Ryan, Albert Vickers.

They include three candidates from last fall, and four residents of the annexation area. Does anyone know these folks and want to give us some more information that we might not have on some of the relative new comers?

Carrboro's staff also plans to have all of the applications online... um any time now. I'll add a link to that when it becomes available.

Next step: the Aldermen will publicly interview the candidates a week from yesterday on Thursday, 1/19/06, and plan to vote on the appointment at their meeting on Tuesday, 1/31/06. There is some discussion of adjusting the process in light of the very large number of applicants.

Selecting the grand jury in 2006

Guest post by Alan McSurely

Discussion on Impeachment of George Bush Town Meeting
7 PM, January 27, Carrboro Town Hall
Panel to include Dan Pollitt, Diana McDuffee, Lucy Lewis, Al McSurely
- dent : Impeach Who?
When we vote in May and again in November 2006 in the Congressional primary and general election, the most important issue facing us is to select strong members for the impeachment grand jury. The House of Representatives has three main constitutional duties: to spend our money wisely; to declare war when the U.S. is in real danger; and to impeach (that is, charge) the President and the Vice President with high crimes and misdemeanors. The Senate then sits as a criminal jury, and decides whether to convict and remove them from office.

Solar Forum TONIGHT

co-sponsored by Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth (NRG) and the Town of Chapel Hill


The goal of the forum is to investigate ways to protect our neighborhoods and quality of life by promoting clean, renewable, and affordable building technologies. These technologies, if applied in future developments like town buildings, schools, development on UNC's Horace Williams property, other UNC buildings, etc., can cut the greenhouse gases being produced by coal- and gas-generated electricity, and reduce our dependence on these and on costly nuclear power. Our region should continue to lead in this direction toward a better future.


Live blogging the Carrboro interviews

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen are interviewing candidates to fill their vacant seat and join them. The fun starts at 6:30. You can watch it in person at Town Hall, on public access cable, or listen on WCOM. You can download the twelve applications at the town web site.

Please post your reactions here during and after the interviews.



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