February 2007

Snow day

As you probably already know if you have kids, both city and county schools are closed today.

The Town of Chapel Hill says everything is pretty much under control with the following exceptions:

Government Meetings: Chapel Hill Town Hall is open. Canceled meetings today include the Rogers Road Small Area Plan Task Force (rescheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 15) and the Continuing Concerns Committee (tentatively rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 15).

Chapel Hill Transit: Buses are expected to operate on a regular schedule for the remainder of the day. Transit supervisors are circulating throughout the community to check for potential trouble spots. For service information, call 968-2769.

Petition Process

Can anyone help me find documentation on the formal petition process in Carrboro and Chapel Hill?

I've looked at the town websites and must be missing something obvious (or not so.....)


UNC Gets a "C" in Sustainability

There has been a lot of good news coming from UNC on the sustainability front, including energy and water conservation efforts, partnering with OWASA on a water re-use system, stormwater collection projects, and staff dedicated to sustainability.

So why does UNC only rate a "C" in the report called the Sustainability Report Card issued by the Sustainable Endowment Institute?

As the name indicates, this organization has a primary focus on how endowment money is handled and what the ramifications of a university's investments are on overall sustainability issues. It's an interesting and important angle that I have not heard addressed locally, probably because UNC's commitment to this side of the sustainability equation apparently does not match their accomplishments in other areas.

UNC's grades are explained on page 90 of the report which can be accessed from the Institute's home page. What do you think? Should there be more accountability from UNC on this aspect of their environmental impact?

Breaking: blogs impact local politics

Thanks to the News & Observer for reporting that "Blogs are changing politics." I know that's a real newsflash for all you OP readers.

This story raised two questions for me:

1. Didn't Tom Jensen already write an informative column about this exact same subject (elected officials blogging)? Ah yes, here it is: "Blogs keep us plugged in on politics," 12/16/06.

2. How many of the people in this article had blogs before OrangePolitics started?

Pearce said the Triangle's political bloggers are centered in Orange County because its politics tend to be more liberal.
- newsobserver.com | Blogs are changing politics, 2/2/07

Hmm, yeah that's probably it. There's no other reason Orange County would have a disproportionate number of political bloggers.

Open thread for Lot 5

Tonight the Chapel Hill Town Council approved General Development Agreement between the Town of Chapel Hill and the Ram Development Company to build some tall buildings on the town-owned Parking lot 5 as well as a request for expedited review of the development.

Here's an open thread to share our opinions about it so we don't have to take over other topics. Have at it!

Tax break for Carolina Inn guests

After a grueling 90-minute discussion and approval of the downtown redevelopment project on Lot 5, the Chapel Hill Town Council addressed UNC's 3rd request to modify their overarching campus development plan. The Council approved most of the modification at a previous meeting, but held up a portion related to the Carolina Inn to address fiscal equity issued raised by Councilmember Cam Hill. (See tonight's agenda.)

There was discussion of whether guests staying at the Carolina Inn to are subject to the Town's hotel occupancy tax. Apparently guests are not charged if they are on University business. Councilmember Mark Kleinschmidt asked if this includes UNC sporting events, and Vice Chancellor Carolyn Efland replied that their official opinion is that such guests would not be paying the tax. Kleinschmidt said this should grab the headlines tomorrow rather than the Lot 5 approval.

Sima update

I read on two blogs (but not in the papers, hmmm) that Sima Fallahi is expected to be released very soon. The Mill said on 2/1/07 that it could be "any day now" and Orange Chat wrote the same on Monday:

An attorney for Sima Fallahi, the Carrboro resident facing deportation to her native Iran, confirms that she could released soon. We'll know in roughly two weeks whether her failed attempt at asylum status will be reopened, said attorney Randall Stroud.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement are considering Fallahi for "low flight risk" status. That means she could come back to Carrboro and check in periodically with immigration agents as the courts are reviewing her case.
- newsobserver.com |Orange Chat - Sima's lawyer: She could be out 'any day now', 2/12/07

Nudge price: no more war funding

I got the announcement below by e-mail, and I really debated whether to post it. Recent discussions on OP have turned into polemic debates about the war in general, with nothing specific to Orange County.

So let's try to limit our discussion to our community and our representative. Although our personal opinions about congressional strategy are also pertinent since we are all local people! ;-)

WHAT: Picket and protest outside David Price's Chapel Hill office

WHERE: 88 Vilcom Center Suite 140 Chapel Hill, NC 27514

WHEN: Friday February 16th at 3 PM



Is that a trick question?

I just got the following announcement from the Town of Chapel Hill's news list. The Council has apparently decided that it is now interested in beginning to maybe start thinking about possibly utilizing communication technology in the service of local government. It's about time.

Do you have comments or suggestions on ways the Town of Chapel Hill can use information technology to provide more effective and efficient services to the community?

The public is invited to provide input on government information technology issues at a community focus group meeting to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in the meeting room of the Chapel Hill Public Library, 100 Library Drive.

The purpose of the focus group is to provide citizens an opportunity to comment on the components of an information technology environment that would assist Town government operations to provide for the effective and efficient delivery of services to the community. Receiving public input is a part of the process of developing a needs assessment, which is being developed by RHJ Associates Inc. under contract with the Town.

Share Your Chapel Hill Story

Over on the Open thread for Lot 5 entry, Gerry shared a really cool story about one of Chapel Hill's unique citizens. I found it really educational and very funny. So do you have one that could top it? Come on help a guy out and impress us with your stories of days gone by.

In case you missed it here is Gerry's story:



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