May 2008

Selected 2008 Primary Maps: President, NC Senate 23, and the Transfer Tax

With limited time and so many races to choose from, we selected the 3 ballot items that most interested us: the Democratic presidential primary, the Democratic NC Senate district 23 primary, and the land transfer tax referendum. The numbers are based on unofficial results from the Orange County Board of Elections and do not include early, absentee, and provisional votes. A Google Maps view of Orange County voter precincts is available here.

Local governments withhold public access TV funds

It seems like Chapel Hill and Orange County are giving our local public access provider quite the run around, when they should be giving them money! The programming on The Peoples Channel includes a wide variety of creative output and civic endeavors by local residents, plus they also carry the essential Democracy Now! If you don't find what you want on channel 8, you can march right in to the station, get low-cost training, and fill that gap. This nonprofit TV station is a tremendous asset to our community, and it deserves to be fully funded by our local governments.

Both Chapel Hill and Orange County received money for Chapel Hill channel 8, on which The People's Channel broadcasts.

Yet neither government has passed that money on to The People's Channel. The law says local governments must spend the supplemental money on PEG channels, but it doesn't specify which channels.

Public Hearing on Public Financing in Chapel Hill

Press release:


Wednesday, May 14, 7pm, Chapel Hill Town Hall

Last year, the town of Chapel Hill became the first municipality in the state authorized to create a Voter-Owned Elections program for local races

Now, the town of Chapel Hill is introducing such a proposal. It would allow grassroots candidates to run for mayor of town council while raising only $5 and $10, and $20 contributions from local residents

The town has put together draft legislation and will solicit feedback from Chapel Hillians at a public hearing on Wednesday, May 14th at 7pm. The meeting will be held at the Chapel Hill Town Hall located 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (Note: The Voter-Owned Elections section starts right at 7pm, so try and get there by 6:45. We’ll have talking points you can use).

NC Voters for Clean Elections has been working with the town of Chapel Hill for years to make this reform possible. Now that the proposal is being considered, it’s very important that we demonstrate public support.

If you are a resident of Chapel Hill or Orange County, please come to the public hearing and speak out in support of the Voter-Owned Elections initiative.

To read the proposed ordinance click here.

More about Voter Owned Elections: The proposed Chapel Hill program would allow community-supported candidates without access to wealth to competitively run for town office. It would invigorate small dollar participation by encouraging candidates to run solely with contributions between $5 and $20. It would provide a check on the campaign money chase and the escalating cost of elections by allowing candidates to spend more time listening to voters and less time fundraising from big donors. And it would reduce the influence of money and special interest groups, by giving candidates a meaningful way to run without these groups’ support. Finally, it would allow the public to have more ownership of the process, by turning campaigns and campaign financing into a public good.

For more information about the meeting, or if you have comments or suggestions on the proposal, please call Chase Foster at (919)521-4121 or contact him by email at


Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 3:00pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

An Expensive Democracy?

North Carolina law says that you win in a primary election if you take down more votes than your opponents, but you must have at least 40% in order to avoid a run-off between the top two finishers.  Last week the first place finisher in the Orange County Commissioner - District 2 race, Steve Yuhasz came up short of the 40% threshold, so runner-up Leo Allison requested to proceed with a run-off.

The News and Observer reports that Yuhasz feels 37% of the vote ought to be good enough to walk away with the nomination :

"I find it unfortunate that Mr. Allison has chosen to reject the clear result of the largest primary turnout in Orange County history," Steve Yuhasz wrote in a news release. Yuhasz also said the new election would be expensive for the county.

Meanwhile Yuhasz's opponent Allison responded:

"I understand Mr. Yuhasz wants to go ahead and have a free ride, but I don't think it's fair to the voters to have only 37 percent of them pick the candidate for this next seat," Allison said.

Public Hearing on proposed comprehensive plan for Orange County

Do you live, work or own land in Orange County? Are you concerned the increasing cost of housing? Do you want farmland and natural areas to be protected? Would you like the county’s commercial tax base grow? Do you want the soon-to-be-updated comprehensive plan to address climate change?

If so, you may want to attend the Public Hearing next Monday, May 19 (7:30 p.m., Gordon Battle Courtroom, Hillsborough) and express your views. County staff and planning board members will present a proposed update of the 1981 comprehensive land use plan.

The Comprehensive Plan update will direct how Orange County will develop through the year 2030. It guides decisions for a wide range of local issues: housing, economic development, transportation, land use, environment, parks & recreation, and community services & utilities. The draft comprehensive plan is available on line at Hard copies can be viewed at the public libraries in Carrboro, Cedar Grove, and Hillsborough.

While comments are best submitted on or before May 19th, the county planning board is likely to take written comments until at least its June 4 meeting.

Making public comments is easy and can be done in several ways.
* You can submit written and/or verbal comments at the Public Hearing.
* You can email comments to County staff at
* You can call county staff with your comments at (919) 245-2575, or you can mail written comments to the Orange County Department of Planning and Inspections, 306-F Revere Road, PO Box 8181, Hillsborough, NC 27278.

For more information on the planning process visit the Orange County Comprehensive Plan website:

To learn about the Orange County Comprehensive Plan Coalition, visit


Monday, May 19, 2008 - 3:30pm


Gordon Battle Courtroom, Hillsborough

Public Hearing on County Plan - May 19

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD AT THE PUBLIC HEARING for the Orange County Comprehensive Plan Update

Do you live, work or own land in Orange County? Are you concerned about whether you and your children can find work here and afford a home? Do you want farmland and natural areas to be protected? Then you should have a voice in the future development of Orange County.

What: The Orange County Comprehensive Plan serves to guide the County's growth and development through the year 2030. By setting goals and objectives, County officials can use the document to guide policy decisions that effectively provide a high quality of life for residents. The upcoming public hearing is the last public forum for the County to gather public input on the draft plan prior to adoption.

When: Monday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Gordon Battle Courtroom, 106 E. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough

You can have your voice heard in one of the following ways:

Carey in 2010

Did anyone else see the Moses Carey ad in Sunday's Chapel Hill News? (Pictured below.) It says "Please consider supporting me again in 2010."

Yes, he did just say that. By announcing his intent to run in 2 years, I assume that Moses hopes to scare off any other potential challengers. This will certainly put a crimp in Ellie's plans to recruit a woman to run for the seat. Even though Moses only got about a third of the vote this time, I think he would still be a strong candidate against a potential non-incumbent opponent.

Do I detect a Clinton-esque determination? 

Tax proposals: Hillsborough up 8%, Carrboro up 4.9%

Hillsborough budget proposal calls for tax rate increase of nearly 8%

Proposed $18.5 million budget would raise Carrboro tax rate 4.9%

notable quotes:

"The economy has really made it difficult," said Peterson, who noted that Chapel Hill and Carrboro also are facing local property tax-rate increases.

 -- Hillsborough Town Manager Eric Peterson

"I don't recall, at least in recent history, a more dim outlook in terms of revenue projections," -- Carrboro Town Manager Steve Stewart.

the blurry line between Orange and Alamance

Who would have thought that in 2008 there would be any question about where the county lines between Alamance and Orange are? Turns out the exact line is in dispute to the tune of several hundred acres.

Results in the at-large Commissioner race

Elect either one

I still can't get over the race for the at-large seat on the County Commissioners. I'm sure no-one was surprised that Bernadette Pelissier won the primary handily. She was a well-qualified and well-organized candidate, and I think she'll be a great addition to the Board. Neloa Jones had very little name recognition, and even less resources to back up her campaign. I was quite impressed with her 20% showing. It demonstrated some real voter concern about the landfill and the racial justice issues that she raised.

But what really shocked me was the nearly 30% voting for Mary Wolff. This was a candidate that had almost no visible campaign other than the ambigious yard signs that will presumably be recycled in the fall for her husband's Republican run for the same seat. Having never heard of her before, and knowing that the Wolffs just moved to the community 3 years ago, I wrote her candidacy off. My expectations were quite wrong, so I decided to dig deeper into these results...



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