Dan Coleman's blog

Glimmers of a more positive chamber

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday August 27, 2005

Last Wednesday, the Chamber of Commerce hosted an event to allow members to react to Chapel Hill's recent increase in the fees for privilege licenses for business. In the face of a crowd that was varyingly confused, frustrated or angry, chamber director Aaron Nelson rose to the occasion and showed some real leadership.

Typical of the comments in the early part of the discussion was the notion that "the town is not friendly to small business" or that "to suggest that this wasn't noticed [by Town Council members] is a bit naïve." But when one business owner asked, "Why were no business leaders part of this decision?" Nelson spoke up.

Nelson acknowledged that he was part of the budget committee that met 20 times over several months and worked with the town's budget consultant. He told attendees that he was an author of the committee's final report which he described as "very sensitive to the business community," adding that "he has never felt better about business interests being represented."

Gauging Carrboro political races

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday August 20, 2005

Political observers appear baffled by Carrboro's mayoral race. None seems willing to go out on a limb to characterize how the race may play out. But all agree that it will be tough to find clear-cut political differences between aldermen Mark Chilton and Alex Zaffron.

Current Mayor Mike Nelson told a reporter recently that he could not recall any time that Chilton and Zaffron were on opposite sides of the issue. He characterized their opposing votes on the northeast area annexation as a disagreement on timing and procedure rather than on outcome. Alderman Jacquie Gist, herself seeking re-election, said "they both come from the same progressive base."

Chapel Hill political veteran Joe Herzenberg concurred, offering that, "As far as the issues are concerned, there is not a great deal of difference between the two. It has a great deal more to do with style and what kind of person you want as your mayor." Nelson added that "as aldermen, their role is different from what their role as mayor would be."

An unusual group of candidates

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday August 13, 2005

Now that the candidates are known, Chapel Hillians can expect a different kind of Town Council campaign this year. The old green/green split that has marked town politics for the past decade has not emerged in this year's field. By "green/green," I mean environment vs. profits.

Among this year's challengers, only Laurin Easthom is explicitly running on bread-and-butter environmental and neighborhood protection issues (although her campaign Web site lists a raft of other concerns). At this juncture, no candidate is clearly identified with a business constituency.

Another difference in this year's race is the weakness of the field. Along with 2001, when only one incumbent sought re-election, this is the least experienced group of candidates in many years. Only two incumbents are on the ballot and, among the challengers only Easthom and Will Raymond currently serve on town advisory boards.

Lessons from Einstein 60 years later

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday August 06, 2005

Today is the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. This is a somber moment for humanity to reflect on the destructive potential of our weapons and on the apparent inability of our political systems to render those weapons obsolete.

Albert Einstein, Time Magazine's "Man of the 20th Century," was the author of a 1939 letter to President Roosevelt that spurred America's search for atomic weapons. Later, he wrote again to Roosevelt urging that he not drop the bomb on Japanese cities. After the war, Einstein became a leading proponent of nuclear disarmament.

On May 24, 1946, Einstein sent a telegram to prominent Americans saying "the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe."

Einstein was clear that the bomb itself did not represent a fundamentally new problem for mankind, only one which unalterably raised the stakes. "The release of atomic energy," he wrote, "has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an 'existing one.'"

Reasons not to shop at Wal-Mart

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday July 30, 2005

The prospect of a Wal-Mart in northern Chatham County provides an opportunity to reflect on questions of economics, workers rights and the future of our society. Most importantly, it allows us to contemplate our own ethical responsibilities.

Consider the following: Sexist discrimination is business as usual at Fortune's "most admired corporation." In her book "Selling Women Short," Liza Featherstone documents rampant sexism at Wal-Mart, denial of promotion opportunities to women, underpayment of female employees and the prevalence of exclusive, men-only meetings.

Rather than pay a living wage, Wal-Mart encourages its employees to make ends meet via public assistance programs. Along with their paltry paychecks, Wal-Mart employees receive instruction on how to apply for food stamps, state health insurance for the poor and other welfare programs.

A congressional report found that a 200-employee Wal-Mart costs federal taxpayers $420,000 a year, an average of $2,103 per employee.



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.