May 2007

What we can learn from John McCormick

In addition to being a fascinating drama, the John McCormick saga is also a cautionary tale for us. I never met the man, but I was long aware that something was not right with him. I knew for a fact that he was a slum lord with properties in my neighborhood, and I had also heard rumors that he was involved with the crack trade.

Now of course these were just rumors, and I was in no position to do anything about them. But if I knew a little, I have to think the Chapel Hill Carrboro Board of Education knew a lot more. It's hard to believe that this man, now known for shady real estate deals and thought to be living the life of a fugitive drug kingpin on the lam, was responsible for legally advising our school system. That concerns me. I always wondered why the school board did not take action to remove this questionable character. In hindsight I can now say they absolutely should have done something, and that they may have been putting our schools at risk by continuing to work with him for many years.

Carrboro mural destroyed

This is just terrible. Carrboro's mural between Weaver and Main Street is gone. The work was originally created as a fund raiser for Club Nova in 2002 and found new life as a poem by Carrboro's first Poet Laureate in 2003. Now it's a blank slate.

On Tuesday, the mural on the side wall of the Jade Palace Chinese restaurant became a blanket of sea-foam green after three men said a man offered them money to paint over it.

"One part of it was something my nephew painted, and that meant so much to me," restaurant co-owner Jenny Chan said. "It breaks my heart. It's so sad to see it all destroyed so quickly."
- | Carrboro mural painted over

Even sadder is how it was done:

Weaver St. Move

I recently learned from the Weaver St. Newsletter that they plan on moving their bread and pastry bakery, kitchen, and offices to Hillsborough. This seems like a big loss for Carrboro. The Chapel Hill News printed the following letter I wrote and I set up the blog to discuss the move.

The scheduled move of Weaver Street Market's "food production facilities" and offices to Hillsborough will result in a loss of around 80 jobs for Carrboro and have a detrimental effect on the town and the environment.

The environment impacts are the most obvious: 80 workers driving 24 miles each workday equals around 2,000 miles a day. That is a lot of carbon emission, and it doesn't include the added distribution miles of having a non-centrally located "production and office facility."

Community Forum on Carolina North

Although a lot has been said about UNC's planned research campus, Carolina North, there have not been enough opportunities for citizens to hear and ask about issues and potential impacts, and to hear these addressed from a community perspective.

That's why the grassroots citizens group Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth (NRG), with the generous cooperation of several local organizations, is holding a public forum on Monday, June 4, at 7:00 p.m., in the Chapel Hill Town Council Chambers. This forum, entitled "Carolina North: A Community Perspective", will feature a panel of speakers who have long involvement with this topic. They will be giving short presentations on salient issues, and answering questions from a moderator and from the audience.

Why yet another meeting? Because most of the information that has been disseminated thus far has been coordinated by UNC. That's not a criticism - it's their job. And it's our job as citizens to ask tough questions and demand clear answers to the potential impacts of this, the largest development we will face in our lifetimes, on our community.

Watch out for those side effects

A funny thing happened today. I was driving along El Camino Real (which runs through Silicon Valley where I'm attending a conference) and listening to the college radio station from Stanford University in Palo Alto. A show called The Lunch Special came on in which they interview a professor or community leader while playing music selected by the guest. Today's guest was Palo Alto Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto. I turned up the volume, fascinated to get glimpse into local politics on the other side of the country.



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