Tom Jensen's blog

Media Mention Scoreboard

I was thinking in Omaha over the weekend about the upcoming local elections and the media. It got me to wondering how often the various local elected officials appear in the newspaper, be it quotes in stories, op/eds they wrote, letters to the editor that mentioned them, etc.

So I decided to run a search to come up with those numbers for the Orange County Commissioners, Chapel Hill Town Council, and Carrboro Board of Aldermen. For the Orange County Commissioners the search ran from December 5th, 2006 when Mike Nelson took office through today. For the Chapel Hill Town Council it ran from December 5th, 2005 when Bill Thorpe and Laurin Easthom took office through today. For the Aldermen it ran from February 15th, 2006 (shortly after Dan Coleman was appointed) through today.

Here are the results:

Chapel Hill Herald/Durham Herald-Sun

Moses Carey 56
Barry Jacobs 31
Alice Gordon 25
Mike Nelson 24
Valerie Foushee 11

No Chapel Hill Tax Increase!

At the May 7th Town Council meeting, Roger Stancil proposed a 1.9% tax increase for the next fiscal year.

This seemed like a pretty good figure, considering other local governments were asking for more. Durham County has a proposed 3.9% tax hike, Wake County is looking at a 3.6% proposed increase, Carrboro has a proposed 2.9% increase. Orange County is proposing a 3.7% increase, and many folks would like for it to be more.

At a Council meeting two weeks later, Mayor Pro Tem Bill Strom pointed out:

"We're getting remarkably close to being able to get to a no-tax-increase budget," said Strom. "I would like to see a flat budget."

He asked for staff to come back with a proposed budget that would not raise taxes.

Last night, that proposal received unanimous support from the entire Council.

Northern Area Task Force begins meeting

Growth in the northwest part of town has been one of the most discussed issues in Chapel Hill during this Council business year.

I expect that the Council will approve a six month moratorium on development in this part of town at its meeting on Monday night. During this time the newly appointed Northern Area Task Force will craft a new vision for the area.

I am serving on this task force as are fellow OP'ers George Cianciolo, Marc ter Horst and Laurin Easthom. It is being ably chaired by Del Snow.

We had our first meeting last night, and I was pretty happy with it.

A few key goals that folks enumerated:

-Taking measures to make the area more friendly for bicycle and pedestrian uses.

-Ensuring that as redevelopment occures in this quadrant, folks are not priced out of town.

-Taking a direction with new development that emphasizes transit more.

Making the Community Garden grow

As published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Saturday, May 12th:

Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman recently told me that his town is always looking for programs that combine a grassroots economy, community building and environmental stewardship.
The new Carrboro community garden, which will be at Martin Luther King Jr. Park for at least the next few years, certainly fits the bill. This project is a natural for a town that is already home to a cooperative grocery, a community radio station and a housing cooperative.

I recently chatted with Sammy Slade, April McGreger and Jay Hamm of the Carrboro Community Garden Coalition about their plans for this new town initiative.

Hamm told me that they plan to plant basic Southern vegetables, things like squash, tomatoes, okra, beans, peppers, melons and sweet potatoes. They're committed to making sure that nothing they grow goes to waste and will distribute their yield in a variety of ways, including distributing fresh fruits and vegetables to needy people in the community.

Folks gotta be more open minded

As printed in the Chapel Hill Herald on Saturday, April 28th:

Last week a number of neighbors of Freedom House, an addiction and mental illness treatment center in northern Chapel Hill, came out to speak against a proposed expansion of the facility.
Most of their concerns centered on safety. One neighbor, Cingai Chen, summed up the rhetoric pretty well by saying, "We are very worried about some day those patients will create a safety concern for our community."

The operative words in that statement are "some day." The reality is that Freedom House has been in our community for more than three decades and there have never been problems. It's a well-run place with tremendous success stories and has never created anything resembling a crime problem. There's no reason to believe expanding the facility would change that.



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