January 2007

N&O Names Jensen one of "Seven Who Will Matter"

From "Seven who will matter in 2007" (News & Observer, 1/1/2007):

Tom Jensen has worked on two dozen political campaigns. He writes weekly columns for a local newspaper. He helps edit a local political blog. He's on Chapel Hill's planning board.

And he is 23.

Jensen's latest project is to persuade North Carolina cities to sign a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.

The effort, based on a climate protection agreement by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, amounts to sort of a local government version of the international Kyoto Protocol, Jensen said.

Five cities have already signed up. The N.C. Sierra Club's goal is 12 by the end of 2007, although Jensen confided that he is hoping far more will commit. Jensen said he isn't interested in only the biggest cities.

"There's no reason small cities shouldn't be environmental leaders, too," said Jensen, who rides the bus from Chapel Hill to Raleigh for work each day.

Your chief wish list

It looks like Chapel Hill may end up being more deliberate in hiring a new police chief than they were hiring a new manager last year. From a recent Chapel Hill town news notice:

What qualities do you want in a new police chief? This is the question to be posed in a series of focus groups for citizens, the Council, staff and the police department.

The focus groups are being held to gather early input that will help develop community criteria for the police chief. Those criteria will be used to assess the skills of candidates for the position.

Interested citizens may attend any of the following meetings to be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, at Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, at the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive; and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Hargraves Community Center, 216 N. Roberson St.
- Public Input Sought on Police Chief Search

300 East Main Project

The Herald-Sun reports,

Developers of the 300 East Main Street project in Carrboro have rearranged and resubmitted their application to town staff members in hopes of hastening the project's approval and possibly beginning construction toward the end of 2007.

The development, which will include a hotel, office space, retail shops and restaurants, has been broken into two separate conditional use applications, said Laura Van Sant of Main Street Properties, the company that owns the strip mall and surrounding properties.

Read the full story here.

Van Sant also said the hotel interested is a "mid-priced national chain." I'm eager to see a hotel in Carrboro, but I hope it doesn't come with huge, tacky signs.

What are other folks thinking about this project? Are there still concerns? Or are we ready for this?

Full steam ahead in northwest Chapel Hill

Yesterday's Chapel Hill News looked at the rapid pace of new development in northwestern Chapel Hill, as originally blogged by Del Snow here on OP last November.

Developers have plans for at least 1,400 new housing units — more than half as many as in the entire town of Hillsborough — all within a 2.5-mile radius of the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Weaver Dairy Road.
Town traffic engineer Kumar Neppalli said the town already considers multiple projects whenever they're relevant to any one proposal, but the town cannot include projects that have not been officially proposed.

Kudos to Carolina North committee

As printed in the Chapel Hill Herald on January 6th, 2007:

Around this time last year, I was extremely skeptical about UNC's plans for a "Leadership Advisory Committee" on Carolina North. It seemed like just the latest in a series of bureaucratic bodies, at best another pointless waste of time and at worst a cooptation technique designed as an end run around substantive public input on one of the most important issues our area has ever faced.

Twelve months later, I am pleasantly surprised with the work it has done and cautiously optimistic about the direction we are heading in. Folks are engaging in a constructive dialogue about town/gown issues in a way that we have not often seen.

Culture Shock

Wow, it's been quiet around here this week!

I was simultaneously pleased and annoyed to learn about "Culture Shock," an effort to promote local arts and artists.

"We want to make this a grass-roots movement to create a more symbiotic relationship between business and the arts," said Jon Wilner, director of Carrboro's ArtsCenter.

"Culture Shock" is a push to brand what many already know: the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area is replete with nightlife, music, museums, book readings, performances and all things artistic.

At a public meeting Tuesday night, roughly 100 people met in the ArtsCenter to figure out how to make "Culture Shock" work.
-newsobserver.com | Area wants to cash in on arts assets, 1/10/07

Pardon the inconvenience

I have just added a feature that should help to reduce the amount of time required to run OrangePolitics. We currently get about 100-200 spam comments each day, and they all go into the same moderation queue as comments from new users who simply have to be verified and approved.

On the comment form you will now find an extra field where you can type in the numbers and letters that appear next to it to prove that you are a human and not a spam-bot (a captcha). Please let me know if you have any problems!

I know there are a few other broken things around here. I haven't addressed all of the problems as I am hoping to move the site to a whole new platform later this year. More about that later, but if you have any suggestions for hosted drupal solutions, do let me know. ;-)

Congratulations Speaker Hackney!

Joe Hackney, who represents Orange, Chatham, and Moore Counties was chosen by the Democratic caucus as its choice for Speaker of the House tonight. Barring some sketchy dealing making with Republicans, he'll be elected Speaker when the House convenes in two weeks.

I'm thrilled! Here's a column I wrote on the topic two months ago.

As printed in the Chapel Hill Herald on November 18th, 2006:

With Democrats increasing their majority in the legislature and Jim Black's re-election status still unclear as a recount looms in Mecklenburg County, it seems pretty clear that a new speaker of the House will need to be selected.

It's a decision not to be taken lightly for members of the Democratic caucus. I think hardly anyone is exactly sure what's been going on in Raleigh over the past few years but it sure doesn't smell right.

So the first attribute I want in a new speaker is that he or she be absolutely beyond reproach. The individual needs to be of impeccable integrity. Whether it's fair or not, the House doesn't have a very good image right now, and its new leader will need to inspire confidence among peers and the state's citizenry.

Baby step for Horace Williams zoning

The Herald reports that the Chapel Hill Town Council has voted to authorize the mayor to start discussing zoning for the 900-acre property in the middle of town that is slated to become UNC's satellite campus Carolina North. If it's true (as the article below states) that this process will be similar to how the Town developed the OI-4 zone that now applies to all of UNC's main campus then I am very afraid.

OI-4 was developed by a small negotiating committee including the Mayor and two Council members who met with the Chancellor and other UNC leaders in private meetings, and led to a process that allows UNC to push through through huge projects (the latest was over 1 million square feet) in just 4 months - a fraction of the time the town usually needs to review a simple Special Use Permit.

Mayor Kevin Foy has gotten the go-ahead from the Town Council to start talking with UNC Chancellor James Moeser about a vital aspect of Carolina North -- a new zoning district for the property where UNC wants to build its envisioned research campus.

Rally against escalation tonight!

Just got this from MoveOn.org:
Emergency Rally to Stop Escalation in Iraq
Where: Across the from the Franklin Street Post Office
When: Thursday, Jan 11 2007, 5:30 PM

Find other local events at http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2307&search_zip=27516



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