January 2008

Town and UNC plan a 4-hour chat on Carolina North

As part of their annual planning retreat this weekend, the Chapel Hill Town Council will be holding a special planning session with UINC officials to discuss Carolina North. The meeting is open to the public, although no public comment will be allowed. I haven't been able to find an agenda or list of attendees, all I know is that it's from 1 to 5pm Sunday at the Southern Orange Human Services Center on Homestead Road.

From the Town eNews (which isn't archived online, grr):

Stated goals for the Sunday meeting are to engage Town and University representatives in a shared discussion about Carolina North. They will identify common interests and decide how to address those interests.

Annual Planning Retreat, C.H. Town Council

From Town eNews:

Town Planning Retreat Scheduled Jan. 11-13

The Chapel Hill Town Council has set an ambitious planning weekend for Jan. 11-13 to discuss strategic goals for the community organized around priorities established in last year's planning retreat: Steward the Organizational Change, Champion Downtown, Plan Ahead for Carolina North, Continue Focus on Land Use and Development, Maintain and Improve Community Facilities and Services, and Improve the Town's Fiscal Condition.

The Town Planning Retreat begins with a Friday dinner and launches into detailed discussions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Siena Hotel, 1505 E. Franklin St. Representatives of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees will meet with the Council from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Orange County Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Road, to discuss the proposed development project Carolina North. Dr. Phil Boyle will facilitate the discussions each day.

The purpose of the Town Planning Retreat is to determine the Town's current and future priorities and create shared commitments among the Council, manager, staff, and residents regarding the goals and strategies required to appropriately address priorities.

The retreat has been planned by Mayor Kevin C. Foy, Council Member Laurin Easthom, Town Manager Roger L. Stancil, Deputy Town Manager Flo Miller, and Parks and Recreation Director Butch Kisiah.

Stated goals for the Sunday meeting are to engage Town and University representatives in a shared discussion about Carolina North. They will identify common interests and decide how to address those interests.

"This is the policymakers sitting down together, for the first time, in an informal setting, and discussing things," Mayor Foy said. "It indicates our willingness to talk, exchange perceptions, ideas and goals. It's good for the community, and it's an open meeting like all Council meetings, so we encourage people to attend and listen, and to help the Council work through the process in the future."

The Council changed its process for strategic planning last year when it looked to the Town's senior management team to provide earlier and fuller participation in planning goals and priorities for the community. The new process shifts from a financial-based review of revenues and expenditures to a broader conversation of goals and values. These discussions will lay the groundwork for developing the budget and help to prioritize how the Town will use current and future resources to achieve identified goals.

"As the Council considers priorities for the future, it has invited input from the Town management team," Stancil said. "We now have a more action-oriented planning process that requires broader participation to address past and present successes, anticipate the future, examine trends and assess current capabilities."

Discussion on Saturday will focus on the following topics: Champion Downtown; Continue Focus on Land Use and Development; Maintain and Improve Community Facilities and Services; and Improve the Town's Fiscal Condition. The Council and department directors have exchanged lists of their perceived Town successes, trends and priorities. Although the data was collected independently, the lists show many synergies.

For more information about the Town Planning Retreat, contact Town Manager Roger L. Stancil at (919) 968-2743 or manager@townofchapelhill.org.



Friday, January 11, 2008 - 12:00pm to Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 12:00pm

Friends of Downtown Meeting

Am I the only person who thinks it's funny that they expect the friends of downtown to drive to this meeting?

Friends of Downtown Meeting
Thursday, January 31
10:00 am
The Franklin Hotel
The Franklin Hotel is located at 311 West Franklin Street. Parking is available behind the hotel. Please get a tag for your car from the front desk.


Thursday, January 31, 2008 - 5:00am to 6:00am

Something is wrong

The site is having some very strange problems I discovered today. For some reason, tons of content is disappearing for some users. Please bear with me as I try to figure out what is going on!

Also feel free to post comments (if you can!) about any problems you might have experienced here this week. Thanks.

UPDATE: I think I've fixed it. Please let me know if you're still having any issues accessing content.

Get your crime by e-mail

Here's a cool idea:

The Hillsborough Police Department has started issuing crime reports by e-mail, giving a snapshot of the significant reports made in the past 24 or 48 hours.

- News & Observer: "Police post reports of crime by e-mail" 1/9/08

When I lived in Northside, the police sometimes brought a print our of the crimes reported in the area for the last month to our Community Watch meetings. I think more immediate information could be very helpful, especially if we need to be on guard for specific people or recurring problems. On the other hand, some people are already too paranoid as it is...

Cellulosic Ethanol Advances

On January 8, 2008, Scientific American published this article:


which describes the outcome of a study done on switchgrass culture by the Department of Energy.  The results of the study were encouraging, demonstrating that switchgrass is capable of delivering as much as 540% of the energy required to grow, harvest and refine it into ethanol.  This compares with about 25% for corn.

Where's my profile?

I'm making some changes to how profiles are handled to (hopefully) make them easier to use, and to require a bit of info such as name and precinct. You can see any user's profile by clicking on the name associated with a comment, event, or blog entry.

If you previously created a profile (information beyond your username and e-mail), I will be copying it over to the new profile shortly, so you probably won't even notice the difference. You can always edit your profile by clicking on the 'My account' link under your username in the sidebar.

Human Relations Month Kick-off Event

At the Carrboro Century Center.

February is Human Relations Month. The Orange County Human Relations Commission, the Orange County Department of Human Rights & Relations and the Orange County Board of Commissioners will host a kick-off ceremony to acknowledge Human Relations Month in Orange County. The Human Relations Month Kick-Off will take place at the Carrboro Century Center on Sunday, January 27, 200 8 from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM.

As Orange County accepts its cultural and ethnic diversity, the ideology that all human beings should have the right to equitable health care will be the theme of this year’s Human Relations Month Kick-Off Event.

The Kick-Off will include musical entertainment by the band, Big Much and a performance by the Chuck Davis African-American Dance Ensemble.

The key speakers will be Shannon Fleg and Anthony Fleg. Ms. Fleg is a proud Dine (Navajo) woman from Arizona who serves as a coordinator for the Native Health Initiative. She is a social research associate for the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Mr. Fleg serves as a coordinator for the Native Health Initiative. He recently earned a Masters in Public Health from UNC and will graduate from medical school in May 2008.

Come and help celebrate Orange County’s diverse cultures. The event is free and open to the public.

For additional information contact the Orange County Office of Human Rights and Relations, 919-960-3875.


Sunday, January 27, 2008 - 9:30am

George Lakoff

Received this email today:

Thanks to special support from interested donors, and the enthusiasm of at least 22 sponsoring organizations, including NCCADV the Triangle progressive community will host Dr. George Lakoff of Berkeley, CA at 6:30 PM on Saturday, March 1, 2008 at the Hilton Garden Airport-RDU.

We thought you would want to know! There will be a cash bar, dinner, and address by Dr. Lakoff--whose style is entertaining, stimulating, and highly informative.

George Lakoff is one of the most highly recognized thinkers and teachers on language and public discourse today. His popular 2004 book, Don't Think of an Elephant, helped progressive Americans understand how to avoid common language traps when talking about our civic enterprise. His new work, Thinking Points, is available on-line through the Rockridge Institute, where Dr. Lakoff serves as senior fellow. A linguistics professor at the University of California-Berkeley for the last 35 years, Dr. Lakoff's theories of how people communicate have created new ways of thinking about human interaction.

The dinner will be at the Hilton Garden Airport-RDU, and ticket prices will be set as low as possible, just to cover the cost of the meal and acility. The bar will open at 6:30, and dinner will be at 7.

Having Dr. Lakoff come to North Carolina is an exciting opportunity to learn from and be energized by one of the premier progressive thinkers of our time.

Join us on the evening of Saturday, March 1st, for this exciting presentation. If you know someone who would like to attend this event, please email Senseney Marshall at senseney@ncjustice.org so we can send an invitation.


Saturday, March 1, 2008 - 1:30pm

Web traffic comparison

Wow. So I have been very concerned that this whole web site transition stuff was giving OP visitors fatigue and that we were losing traffic. So I just looked up our site stats for the past month and compared them to the same time range on year ago.

The resemblance between the two is uncanny! The blue line is this year, the green is last year.

Click to enlarge.



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