July 2007

Cam Hill's take on Carolina North

Cam Hill asked me to post his guest column in the Herald today about Carolina North:

For several years UNC has been talking about developing a research campus, Carolina North, which is slated to contain as many as eight million square feet of buildings. UNC owns the Horace Williams tract, some 900 acres that currently is the home of the Horace Williams Airport, a couple of toxic dump sites and the old town of Chapel Hill public works and transit facility locations. UNC wants to put Carolina North there. Because the property is largely undeveloped (with the above exceptions), surrounded by existing neighborhoods and not served by any existing (or planned) transit or large-scale utility infrastructure, and because this is Chapel Hill; there has been some considerable discussion about this. Oh yeah, and the airport is still open.

One less excuse not to use TTA

I got to watch the Simpsons last night!

On the rare occasions when I can go straight home after work I like to watch the Simpsons, which is on from 6-7 PM every week night.

But in the past the earliest bus I could get from Raleigh to Chapel Hill when I finished work was at 5:40. By the time the bus got to downtown Chapel Hill and I walked to my apartment it was usually 6:50. No Simpsons for me.

Well TTA has now added two extra routes in the morning and afternoon to give folks who work in Raleigh and live in Orange County more flexibility with their daily schedules.

The bus already left at 6, 7, and 8 AM. There are now 7:30 and 8:30 departures as well.

The old afternoon routes set off from Moore Square in downtown Raleigh at 4:30, 5:40, and 6:40. The new times are 4:40, 5:10, 5:40, 6:10, and 6:50.

What does this mean for me? Took the 5:10 bus home last night, walked in at 6:15 and got 45 minutes of Simpsons watching in!

Nelson frustated with County budget proccess

Ouch. The N & O blog has published some strongly-worded comments from Orange County Commissioner Mike Nelson about this year's budget process, as well as an admission from Moses Carey that he planned it that way. On the one hand, this is Mike's first year on the Board of Commissioners, so maybe he just hasn't gotten the hang of how they do business. On the other hand, if he didn't have access to the budget in advance, how is the public supposed to be informed about what's going on?

After being told that Chairman Moses Carey and Vice Chairman Barry Jacobs were reviewing a draft work session for that night's meeting and that handouts on some of the topics would be distributed that night, Nelson wrote to Blackmon, Coffey and his fellow commissioners:

"With all due respect, we needed this information before now. I don't understand why I've had to ask for it. The public expects us to know what's going on and to come to these meetings prepared. How the hell can I come to this meeting prepared if I don't get the agenda until now?"

We were lucky to know Lisa Garmon

I learned on Tuesday that our community lost a great warrior for justice and equality. Ever since I met her nearly 20 years ago, Lisa Garmon was a festive rabble-rouser and a tireless worker for what's right. She died of cancer on Tuesday.

I worked with Lisa on environmental issues, on making local media, on organizing peace and justice protests, on keeping Internationalist Books afloat, and on countless other causes. I remember her amazing energy and dependability. She was great for things like coming through with a last-minute food donation for your fundraising event. She was there for you.

Lisa was mostly a face-to-face grassroots organizer, so there's not much of an online legacy to show her work. One great testament to her is the early archives of HA!, a feirce feminist 'zine that she founded in the mid-90's. I remember working on the first issue only to hear that the printer had refused to publish it because it included penis graphics! Never mind all those female body parts, right?

Let the games begin!

Reports indicate that all three of our Mayors and all four members of the Chapel Hill Town Council will file for re-election sometime after the filing period opens at noon today. Zzzzz. So what's up in Carrboro and Hillsborough? How about the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board?

To recap, a list of the seats that are up this year is at http://orangepolitics.org/elections-2007. We'll be watching the filings page at the Board of Elections and report any updates here. I'll probably wait until the end of the day to update the OP elections page. Anyone plan to watch the action in Hillsborough first-hand?

Hearing on Proposed Jordan Lake Rules

Those interested in water quality may want to attend a Public Hearing for the Proposed Water Supply Nutrient Strategy for B. Everett Jordan Reservoir. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June July 12, at The Century Center.

This is one of three hearings being held by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality. A good overview can be found in their public notice.

The proposed rules call for much more stringent discharge limits for phosphorus and nitrogen. As well as the regulations themselves, a major concern for local government is who pays for the improvements. As Mayor Chilton pointed out at a recent board meeting, the Corps of Engineers laid out the lake to take significant run off from more densely populated areas, those areas are already ahead of the curve on controlling run-off (as compared to others in the watershed), and we will not consume Jordan Lake water.

The proposed rules are here.

GAO to Study Nuke Fire Safety

This just in from David Price's office:

GAO to Study Nuclear Fire Safety

Study Requested by Congressmen Price and Visclosky

WASHINGTON – Congressman David Price (D-NC) announced today that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has accepted his request to conduct a review of the enforcement of fire safety standards at nuclear power plants throughout the country.

Price requested the study in May after hearing from local officials in his district who were concerned about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) vigilance in enforcing fire safety regulations. Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN), who is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, concurred with Price that the GAO should undertake such a study, and he seconded Price's request in a letter to the agency in June.

Celebrate localism !

As you intelligent readers know, free and fair media is essential to a funtioning democracy, and self-expression is essential to a healthy society. We are fortunate to have The People's Channel here in Chapel Hill who have been doing a great job with minimal resources to keep the airwaves open to residents for whatever we might need to say and do.

That's why I am thrilled to support their upcoming event "A Celebration of Localism" which will highlight the importance of "keeping it local" and also raise badly needed funds for The People's Channel. TPC's Director Chad Johnston has been a strong voice for independent and locally-produced media both here and at the state and national level. We're lucky to have a resources like him in our community.

I think it's great that the event being done with the support (and hosting!) of the Preservation Society. They are also about localism, but in a different way than many of us think of it. I hope to see you there!

Historic Rogers Road Community Enhancement Plan Development and Monitoring Task Force

The next meeting of the Historic Rogers Road Community Enhancement Plan Development and Monitoring Task Force (not to be confused with the Rogers Road Small Area Plan Task Force) has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m., July 17 at Faith Tabernacle Oasis of Love on Rogers Road. Our favorite people will be there: County Commissioner Moses Carey and Solid Waste Director Gayle Wilson.

As a Rogers Road resident new to local government task forces, it quickly became clear to me that Moses Carey expected the members of this task force to "yes" all the issues put before them. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised since "yes-sing" the county's agenda (and fabricating reports) is what happens at SWAB meetings. Hey! Not on this task force . . .

Carrboro Film Fest Calls for Submissions

It was a huge hit last year. Now it's time for... the Second Annual Carrboro Film Festival. We want your films!

The 2nd annual Carrboro Film Festival is seeking submissions from filmmakers who have breathed in the good, local air of Orange County.

Nic Beery & Jackie Helvey, the festival's founders, say, “The creativity in this region is wonderful with artists, musicians and writers. Last year's Carrboro Film Festival showed that there are amazing filmmakers as well. This festival is a celebration of local filmmakers' work and an outlet to get their films shown to a large, receptive audience. We encourage everyone to submit their work for the possibility of their film to be shown this year.”

The deadline for submissions is August 30th, $15 per submission. Late deadline is September 20th, $30.

The only requirements are that the filmmaker at one time in life had a brush with Orange County and that the film is no longer than 20 minutes. Films can be in any format: film, video or even digital photos.

Submission forms are on www.carrborofilmfestival.com.



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