I remember the disappointing results in key elections in 1993, when Democrats, fresh off a tremendous Presidential victory in 1992 became complacent and Republican activists got upset and activated.  New Jersey’s incumbent Democratic Governor, Jim Florio was knocked out of office.  That same year, Republicans seized control of the Virginia Governor’s Mansion, bringing us George “Macaca” Allen. The following year, Democrats crapped out in a horrendous way giving up US Senate and House seats across the country, including many ‘safe’ seats such as Rep. David Price’s NC-4 seat.  I remember well seeing David just days before the elections in the Pit and saying, “Well, David, you should be fine.”  He said, “The thing that worries me is when people say that.”  He wasn’t being rude, but I could tell he wasn’t kidding.  And I was absolutely floored when he was defeated a few days later by the hopelessly incompetent former Raleigh Police Chief Fred Heineman (the man who said his $100,000+ salary made him ‘lower-middle’ class). Hopefully you all remember those dark days as well as I do.  And I have to tell you, I am getting that sinking 1993 feeling right about now.  The results in the Wake County School Board election earlier this week are appalling.  A clean sweep for those who want to end the Wake County school diversity program (Hello, 1971!)  How did these Constitutionally-challenged candidates carry the day?  By tapping into parent outrage over bussing?  Maybe, but I think it was much more a matter of Democrats thinking that they have already won all the battles and complacently sitting at home on election day. Bellwether races across the United States are trending Republican right now.  The incumbent Democratic Governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine is on the ropes.  And things also look bad for Virginia’s Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, Creigh Deeds, despite being up against a man who says he wants to put women back in the kitchen.  How can this be?  Where is the new America that President Obama’s election heralded?  I’ll tell you where it is:  Sitting on its butt at home thinking how much better things are now than they were under President Bush. People, now is not the time to be sitting back taking it easy.  Progressive voters of Orange County need to stand up and be counted – this November 3 as well as in the congressional and legislative elections next year.  The sum total of results in hundreds of races across America this November will define our mood as a nation, and set the stage for holding our own in the 2010 Congressional midterm elections, or suffering a 1994 style crushing defeat, leaving President Obama paralyzed by a Republican Congress. So let’s all get off our behinds and get to work – to show that progressive voters are proud of what we did in 2008 and are ready to carry forward that momentum through 2009 and into 2010.  If you aren't involved in a campaign for Mayor, Alderman, Town Council, or School Board right now, you need to get involved RIGHT NOW!  If you think everything is going to turn out fine in November, just because this is Orange County, then think again.  And call your favorite candidate today to ask how you can get involved.



Mark, I'm so glad you posted this. I think there's a real danger in sitting on our tushes, and this goes on at several levels. One is that folks may think that now that they've elected some Democrats to state and federal offices, they don't need to keep campaigning any more.  As many OP readers know, LOCAL is where it's really at. How long did it take Obama to disappoint his legions of supporters on Iraq, civil liberties, health care, etc.  Locally we can actually hold elected officials accountable, and they're more likely to REALLY represent us anyway.For example, if Mark Kleinschmidt is elected Mayor, we can expect him to actually advocate for the causes we care about, not just give lip service. Plus we can challenge him here on OP and he might even come and engage with us on the issues.Another problem with odd-year complacency is that there really does seem to be an increasingly organized conservative backlash. As right-wing coalitions are starting to collapse, their activists are feeling as desperate as ever to fight against the tide of Obamaism (whatever that means to them). Even here in Chapel Hill, a candidate as qualified s Mark Kleinschmidt might have just had a cake walk in other years, but this year he's facing a very strong challenge from the right.It's hard for me to believe that someone who has behaved as Matt Czajkoswski has could turn around and be considered a serious contender for Mayor.  It reminds me of the Republicans who want to destroy government while simultaneously running for elected office. I just don't believe that Matt cares about the values that make Chapel Hill the wonderful place that I love, I also think he willfully misleads voters, and we've all seen him actively work against the Council Members that he now aspires to lead. Even his would-be ally Kevin Wolff has noted it. (And by the way, where did this meme that Matt is "moderate" come from? Maybe in another part of the state...)I don't know if I really need to "disclaim" my comments, but I am a big supporter of Mark Kleinschmidt for Mayor. I think he'll do a great job. I'm voting for him and I hope others do too.  I'm writing out of concern that this election will be way tougher for him than many folks think.

The is no blackladh from the right but there is a blacklash from good people who have concerns that have not been heard.We don't know what council the new mayor will lead.  I am on the side of change.It would be helpful to spell out your claims against Matt.

You don't need to disclaim it, but he seems to be pretty consistent in a Centrist agenda. Voting against Health Care for Life for ex-council members and for retail development that would take some of the tax burden off of homeowners.I don't feel misled. He seems to have done exactly what he said he would do which is be different from the people he replaced. My property taxes have gone up $2,000 in 10 years and I do not have an expanded library, but I do have a new Senior Center, which does me no good at 40. I have art from California Artists instead of local ones and I don't really think that spending money on art instead of fixing the lights at Cedar Falls Park was a great use of money.My values include a Parks program that takes care of the kids safety before art (the poles had been condemned for years and banned by Little League). So who is representing my values of safe parks, money spent on local artists or scaling that program back to pay for a bigger library? Right now, it's no one.  

I don't have a scorecard or anything, but what exactly have Matt and Mark voted differently on during the last 2 years?  We know the health-insurance-for-life issue (that Matt was 100% right on to the shame of 8 other council members).  But overall are we talking rhetoric here or actual votes? I also hesitate a lot to call the push towards "no change" as "progressive".  As I've said before, pushing development out beyond the rural buffer because Chapel Hill won't allow business and residential growth in the buffer is hardly environmentally correct.  Even Ed Harrison says the development process in Chapel Hill is a "crapshoot".  That must mean he recognizes a need to change what we have yet who has given us this process?  Certainly not some non-existent conservative block on the council.

is a need for new regulations at this point. Some of you may remember the movie theater that was demolished, the one that used to be around the corner from Whole Foods. The owner wanted to replace the old theater (with its two or three larger screens) with four or five smaller screens. With the new sidewalks and bike paths leading to and from the shopping center, it would have allowed people in surrounding neighborhoods to attend movies and not get there by car. I remember the final council meeting where they were to vote yea or nay. Just before the vote, Ed Harrison raised his hand and from out of left field proposed that the movie owners hire an off duty Chapel Hill police officer to direct traffic when every single movie let out for some period of time - six months, a year, whatever. They were to count cars and measure traffic so that someone could make some final recommendation as to what the theater would need to do to mitigate traffic. To be fair, Ed must have heard from some constituents on the subject. Watching the meeting on TV, I knew at that moment that the project was dead. In front of the council, the developer and architect were forced to decide there and then whether they agreed to this stipulation or not and then and only then the council would vote. They agreed to the proposal after some whispering. I knew that when they returned to their own office and ran the numbers, that that stipulation probably put the project out of reach. My guess is that a traffic study had already been done. Now it's been a while, so I may have a few of the details wrong, but I believe the just of the story is correct. That kind of last minute shenanigans goes on all the time. By that point in the permitting process, all of those details should have been already agreed upon. The problem with the development process is that it is impossible to predict and that makes it sometimes unfair and expensive. As for that one project, the developer spent tens of thousands of dollars (probably more), whatever sales tax revenue that used to accrue from that operation is gone, and Chapel Hill has a fenced-in vacant lot where we used to have a movie theater within walking and biking distance of some modest established neighborhoods. I could go on with other examples.Believe it or not, I treasure the things that make Chapel Hill unique. We lived here in the 1970's, moved away and returned.I remember the flower ladies. I support green construction, urban planning, the rural buffer, historic preservation, to name a few. a town, we need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. The idea of a sustainable Chapel Hill needs to include fiscal sustainability too. 

Barbara, I'm sorry but there was no stipulation that "put this project out of reach" for some innocent developer. In fact, what happened was that there was a stipulation that the theater developer improve the main driveway that would be used for their business, but they couldn't agree with the property owner about access to that entry. There were a lot of lawyers involved, so it's hard to tell what really happened, but I remember thinking that both sides sounded like jerks to me.I could also go on with examples of developer shenanigans, like when Scott Kovens misccounted the amount of heated space in a development and only came to the Town to rectify it when the development was half-built and he had already reached the limit of allowed square footage. Not exactly acting on good faith! The Town has worked to make the process more predictable (especially by introducing early Concept Plan reviews), but it needs to continue to be deliberate. And there are plenty of times when it's the developer that brings a last minute change (to advisory boards or the Council) and doesn't have updated maps or analysis. Predictability is a need on both sides.

I do remember the driveway issue now that you mention it. The town made a stipulation about the driveway when the the movie theater did not own the driveway. At the time, I thought the town only learned that the developer did not own the driveway after the stipulation was put forth, but I could be wrong about that.I do agree that there are plenty examples of developer shenanigans. Don't know about Scott Kovens, but I'll take your word for that. I also agree that the town has worked to make things more predictable, and you are quite right, the Concept Plan review came after that. But my point was that only part of that can be legislated. The other part is a willingness not to see all development as bad. I'm not pro development, but I do believe there was a missed opportunity for a project that spoke to a lot, not all perhaps, but a lot of the community goals as put forth by the town itself. The developer may have been difficult, the setting may have been difficult, but the town was difficult too. You may not have thought the stipulation put the project out of reach and you are entitled to your opinion. Right or wrong, I saw it as the final tiny straw that broke the camel's back. Just my opinion.

I don't know the details of that issue but it seems fairly ridiculous to me that that prime piece of real estate has gone completely unused for a dozen years or however long it's been. Also, why didn't they get clear on what they were going to build there before they tore down the old building?  Presumably if they knew they wouldn't be allowed to put the new building up in the style they wanted they wouldn't have bothered to tear the old building down.

to anyone that perhaps one of the reasons they didn't build the theater was that they crunched their numbers and decided that the market wouldn't support a multi-screen theater at that site with the rent necessary for that site?  Theater admissions were 1.4 billion in 2008, down 2.6% over 2007. Admissions have stayed relatively flat in the past ten years, with the exception of 2002’s high of 1.6 billion admissions. Over the past three years, the number of theaters classified as miniplexes (2-7 screens) has declined 6.2%, while the number of megaplex theaters (16 or more screens) has increased by virtually the same percentage. As a result, the number of screens around the country increased to 40,194 in 2008. Multiplex and megaplex theater screens now represent 74% of all domestic screens.What was proposed at the Elliot Road site was a miniplex and perhaps the owners had the foresight to see where the market was going and realized they would have difficulty competing with the likes of the megaplex theater at Streets of Southpoint.

This is exactly why this election is so hard. I know a little about the developer in question here. Let's just say that the law of unintended consequences (change for change's sake) can be worse than the status quo.That's why this election is so tough for me. What I really want to know is that one of the candidates will take principled actions instead of just telling me what they believe.It is a common trick to change the development at the last minute to limit debate. Ruby's dead on about this one. 

Ruby, Thank you for the public service you provide running this blog. It's a place where reasonable people can disagree. I would ask you this, in what way did Matt Cz willfully mislead voters in your opinion? Do you infer from council votes where Matt is a minority of 1 that he is actively working against the other Council members? Voting differently is not the same as working against, but perhaps you mean something else that I'm missing.

The topic of the thread is complacency and encouraging people to find a candidate they can support. I heartily agree with that sentiment and am glad to see it expressed by others. However, there's a certain degree of irony in seeing the first response complaining about people supporting a candidate she doesn't support. To me that's the problem we have locally and nationally. Reasonable people can disagree. Reasonable people can see qualities in one candidate they prefer over the qualities of another candidate. Reasonable people can have different visions for the future. That doesn't mean the other candidates are nefarious or dishonest. Perhaps the way for progressives to reduce the amount of voter complacency is to learn how to advocate for their candidates instead of engaging in negative (and frequently false) complaints against competing candidates. Representative democracy only works when diverse views are represented. Respecting diversity of thought and political perspective should be a progressive value. 

I have written 3 different responses and deleted them all.As someone who has spent most of my life having my Liberal values questioned. I am offended that the term, "values" is now being used by Progressives.As a straight-man working for causes like gay rights in the 1990s, my values were questioned everyday. My own family rejected me for shaking my HIV+ crossdressing cousin's hand at a funeral.I haven't heard enough from either candidate to make an informed decision about the issues I care about. But I don't really care about their values. I care about their actions. I have seen a lot of people with good "values" do some horrible things to my friends over the years.My values are a public debate of the issues - like the unbridled growth in the Northwest part of the Town and whether locating a Homeless Shelter next to a Park and away from downton (where the people it serves are) is a good idea. Most places don't think having the Homeless next to a Park is such a good idea.The bottom line, is that no one should ever question the others values. That is a meaningless statement. I question their actions.Supporting a candidate does not reflect my "values." It reflects my opinion of what that candidate will do. My value of open debate (even if I disagree), dissent and fighting for what you believe is right (even if I disagree) through this discussion remain unchanged.

"We are all victims," he said. "We're all captives of our current health-care system. ... It's a very difficult challenge, but it's one we have to face head-on." (From the N&O)In the world according to former pharmaceutical executive, Matt Cz, the citizens of Chapel Hill are being victimized by a health care system that is too expensive and the solution is to cut the benefits of town employees.

Mark:He also was the sole dissenter in Health Care for Life, which thankfully was overturned when there was a public backlash.The Health Care issue is a mess and I don't want to see anyone's benefits cut, especially considering there are so many other places they could cut. However, it should also be noted that many people who pay taxes in this town do not have any health care. This would be a non-issue if the Federal Government would step up and provide a public option.Sorry, off-topic. Soap Box is put back under desk.

Health care for life from conception to grave is a right that all local government employees, elected officials along with all Americans should have.  However, this is not an issue that can be solved at the local level.  If the fundamentals of our health care systems are not changed at the national level, the providing of health care benifits by our local governments will eventually cause the local governments to either continually reduce benefits, increase taxes, or face bankruptcy.

is elected officials are teated as "employees" and declared eligible for participation in the Town's health policy. Were other part-tome employees treated the same?Some people do have a problem with elected officials being eligible as "employees" and other employees not.  Note that it appears when you have policy differences you must be "on the right."

A more reasoned approach would be to commit to a serious renegotiation of insurance costs for employees - shop around, gather proposals, and get a better deal. That would cut costs for the taxpayer without harming employees and eroding the morale of town employees, many of which are being called upon to do a little extra in these recessionary times. This ill-conceived proposal reveals the type of solutions that Matt Cz would favor.

Those lucky enough to have a job with health benefits when so many people are without work probably have better morale than the millions of uninsured.Let's be honest here, if that $221 Million  that went to Dell had went to health care we would be a lot better off.As for health care, it is being cut everywhere. Benefits are being cut by every employer at this point. I seriously doubt that Town employees will find better benefits in most private sector jobs.My benefits have gotten worse every year for the last 10 years.

The town shops the plan around almost every year and takes the best possible deal it can get--that is one of the fundamental jobs of the HR staff and the Finance dept, , because it does represent a signficant part of the town budget.   The current costs are as low as they're getting without changing the benefit structure itself.   Options are to keep it the same,  require an employee contribution--currently  the town pays the full cost of the employee and (I think) 50% of dependent costs---or change the program.Just trying to get the facts straight.  A debate on one's philosophical stance is fine, but the town staff from the manager on down are aggressively trying to keep the costs in line on both salaries and benefits.  They put a lot of time and effort into this matter and we should not mischaracterize their work. 

My main point is that how a controversial idea is presented is of utmost importance when you are the leader of a large organization such as the CH town government. An issue like this needs to be approached with care and very well explained. It is always difficult for someone to accept that their job benefits or pay could be cut. A good leader knows this and takes the time to explain the nuances of the issue, speak about the high cost of insurance, explain that the Town staff has done everything they could (if this is in fact true) to find less expensive plans, and engage directly with the workers themselves on the issue.Matt Cz seems to have taken a decidedly un-nuanced approach which seems to signal an insensitivity and recklessness which could cause potential problems. Leadership involves collaboration, anticipation of reaction to proposals, and embrace of democratic participation. I may have missed him making this proposal in a detailed and cogent manner, but it seemed like he just tossed it out without appropriate framing and contemplation.

in your assessment is how the government works.  All of the employees except the attorney and assistant to the mayor work for the manager. The manager brings the budget to the council to review, revise and approve.  What you appear to be reacting too is the comment Czajkowski made about the cost of benefits in relation to other jurisdictions.  Sure, framing and contemplation are important, which is why he is not the first to make the observation.  That's exactly what I want council members to do, look at situations and call it like they see it.  We have a very generous plan for full timers but what about part timers?  I'd be surprised if the manager, human resources chief and finance director aren't worried night and day about how they can possibly continue this benefit, especially when so many of the bill payers have nothing close.Leaders have to make tough decisions.  They also organize efforts and goals around a common vision.  Where should the vision come from?

To restate my point, leadership requires more than simply "calling it like you see it". How a proposal is communicated, how the involvement of affected groups is factored in, and knowledge & communication of the complexity of the issue has much to do with the success of the proposal. Ready, fire, aim may excite the base, but effective leadership is more nuanced.


that's why it takes a majority of the Council to make a decision, not one member. I do applaud you interest and concern for our employees.  I hope all balance it with interest and concern for those paying the bills.

Effective leadership also includes a willingness to ask hard questions. No one can lead in the absence of information. So asking about the possibility of cutting benefits as a cost savings measure is leadership, in my opinion. Implementing a decision, including determining how much of a benefits cut could be tolerated and communicating decisions, follows. If it's not acceptable to ask hard questions, the no one is leading--everyone is just following the status quo.

Honestly--your subject lines read like it. So here's another progressive value I believe in--research and addressing the fine details. It's true that Matt proposed lowering the benefits of town employees. I made a similar proposal when I was on the OWASA board. Health care costs are out of control. As an individual citizen, I pay fees to OWASA & the other utilities, and taxes to the county/state/federal governments to ensure that those staff have health care benefits. But as a state employee receiving the service of my own tax dollars, I believe that I bear some of the responsibility for my own coverage. What Matt proposed was downsizing the pure Cadillac standard of coverage provided to town staff to be more equivalent to that provided to state workers in the name of managing the town budget. Personally, as someone who has a very intimate relationship with the health care system right now, I think it's a very reasonable suggestion. I don't expect the people of this state to pay for every penny of my health care. Just being part of the state plan ensures that I have better coverage than I could receive through an individual policy. I don't mind paying my co-pays for doctor visits and pharmaceuticals, any more than I mind paying my taxes. Everyone of the mayoral candidates has expressed the need to make Chapel Hill more affordable for citizens. If ideas can't be put on the table as a means of achieving that goal without those ideas being used as a bludgeon or turned into an Inquirer style headline, all we have is empty rhetoric. Ideas are a good starting place, but, as Steve Wells notes, what we need are solutions. We should welcome having solutions laid out for public debate. We should select our elected officials based on the solutions they propose, not based on who they are friends with. And those who want to debate the pros and cons of the solution should assume it as their responsibility to understand the details of each proposal, instead of distorting the dialogue through innuendo and misleading subject lines.

I'd like to respond to a couple of things that MarkC said:1) The 1994 general election was unusual in that it was the "blue moon", every 12 years in North Carolina US House of Representatives is the top of the ticket -- no partisan statewide races to boost turnout in counties like Orange where national races are big motivators. Orange County turnout was abysmal that year -- but it blindsided everyone.  Everyone took things for granted.  2) The Wake County school board election was extremely complicated. First of all, only four of the nine districts seats were on the ballots, and all four of them were in Republican districts in the edge of the county, not one of the 50 heavily Democratic Raleigh Township precincts voted in the school board races, those four seats are on the ballot in 2011.  It was an uphill fight for progressive candidates in all of those districts on the ballot this year anyway. My district had a Republican progressive incumbent who did not seek reelection and was replaced by a conservative Republican. The school board was widely viewed by most parents that I knew as arrogant and did not listen to parents. Some key decisions (too many to go into) the past two years were by a tone deaf school board.  I live in one of those Republican districts and met with the progressive candidate in my district for 30 minutes to talk about one of the issues of concern (having NOTHING to do with diversity) to try to talk her into opposing the school board policy and found her parroting the school administration line that a decision that inconvenienced 100% of the parents was superior to one that would have inconvenienced only 70% because the alternative "still would inconvenience a lot of people", she did not appear to understand anything I was talking about.  Her website was littered with grammatical errors. Her literature listed two college degrees but never said where they were from, etc, etc, etc.  A number of active Democrats (including according to a listserve I read some Obama activists in Cary) supported the conservative candidates because they were completely disgusted with the school board.  Personally, I wrote in the incumbent school board member who was not running (a majority was required so it was a harmless protest) 

Basically, it sounds like Wake voted to replace people who put ideals in front of the needs of their constituents. Sadly, I think the law of unintended consequences (remember George W. Bush was going to bring "values" back to the White House) may end up with Wake teaching Creationism and Abstinence.You do raise the question of whether it was voter complacency, the complacency of elected officials in ignoring the needs of the majority of their constituents or some combination of both.Similarly, artists from California do not vote in Chapel Hill, but people with children who play Little League at Cedar Falls Park do.

Gerry, I've read every word (no, page) that the N&O has published about the Wake County School Board Election, always wondering if a similar result could occur in the CH mayoral and council races.  Call me complacent if you like, but I don't think it will.  The biggest issue that everyone who is against the current council cites is the "Health care for life" issue, and as we know, the council rescinded it after many people, including myself, boldly proclaimed that the council had gone too far.  The Wake School equivilant would be the school board increasing busing for diversity and assigning more kids to year-round schools, then when Wake parents revolted, rescinding the new busing and assignments.  But the Wake school board did not rescind.  The point is that, unlike in Wake, the CH council did listen, and changed its collective mind.  Of course during a campaign, candidates have to separate themselves from their opponents, and to do so, Matt Cz promotes that he alone voted against the health insurance originally, but the final result is that everyone voted against it. None of the issues in the 2009 CH campaign is new.  Solid waste, smart growth, revitalize downtown, lower the residential property tax burden, town-gown relations, downtown panhandling and parking, affordable housing, library location/expansion/funding, light rail and other public transportation, lack of bike paths on DOT roads, lack of a downtown supermarket, etc. have been around since the 1980s or before.  They're chronic issues because they're tough issues without practical solutions.  It's not that the council hasn't tried; look at Greenbridge and lot 5 to encourage people to live downtown.I think what changed in Wake was that many more conservative new people moved in.  CH has had only a small population increase.  To my knowledge, no one has ever run a successful negative campaign in CH, and I don't see that changing this time.   Anyone agree or disagree? 

Joe, I think you've done an excellent analysis.  I believe that the people who are willing to go to the polls to vote also take the time to look at the issues.  And from my point of view the problems that are being described by candidates are, as you have pointed out, already known.  But as you have also pointed out, very few are offering real solutions with well-defined plans.  Some of the "solutions" I've heard offered remind me of Nixon's "I have a secret plan to end the war".  But unless CH voters are actually shown a plan which has enough details to be carefully evaluated I think they'll be more comfortable staying with that which they already know.

Part of the health care issue in my mind is that the 8-person majority of the Council had no idea what their vote would cost the Town.  They were unwilling to take the time to learn what they didn't know so it appeared that if Matt C. was opposed, they had to be for it.  This was an issue of judgment and group think, as the impression is constantly given that there is only one point of view that will be considered.  This is also a result of a "we all run together" election campaign. Saying "we made a mistake" after the fact rang hollow - they had a chance to get it right the first time.Judgment should matter to voters.  It wasn't on the consent agenda by accident.  But when they had the chance to do the right thing, they went ahead and voted for it anyway. I really doubt that many voters understand the impact of the Town's health plan on our budget and how we can't continue down that road without massive tax increases OR reductions somewhere else.  What do we ever cut?  This is what should be discussed during the campaign rather than some of the silly stuff out there. Doing the right thing will not be popular but if a candidate can't commit to doing the hard work, they should not be running.  Let's stop with the middle school popularity contest approach.

Fred:Thank you for saying what I was thinking. I have a son in Middle School and thank God for Carrboro's Parks and Rec Department or his options would be so limited in Chapel Hill. We have a new Parks Director with some very good ideas, but he needs Council to step up and support him. It's really cool to weigh in on National Issues, but I would like to hear local candidates talk about local issues.For those of you who have any doubts about the State of our parks and fields, take a look at the field over at Phillips Middle. There is a hole in the outfield that teams put a pylon up to avoid. There is grass on the infield - the only problem is that there isn't supposed to be grass there.It doesn't take much money to solve these problems, but our focus on lofty goals that don't really affect us day-to-day has left very few non-private opportunities for teenagers in Chapel Hill. It took kicking and screaming for us to get a decent youth football program. Which candidate is going to talk about something as mundane as athletic and arts opportunities for our youth?  

I don't necessarily disagree with your analysis Joe, but I disagree with some of the underlying assumptions you are basing your analysis upon.

First, I believe there are many long-term residents like myself who are unhappy with the direction the council has taken in recent years. For example, I was an active advocate for a public private partnership as a way to bring new, affordable housing into downtown. But instead of achieving that goal, we got extra density and non-affordable sales prices. Lot 5 (nor Greenbridge) meet the most important criteria of successful infill as far as I'm concerned.

Second, while you are correct in that the issues are tough and have been around for a long time, some have become critical. Franklin Street, for example, has been in trouble since the early 1990s. And from my perspective, the council has not only not done much to help the situation, they have in many ways made it worse. So when I hear incumbents claiming that they've been actively involved in economic
development, it sounds like lies, damn lies to me.

Third, when you say there have been no successful negative campaigns, I would say that the self-proclaimed progressive community has run several successful negative campaigns by throwing around the label of conservative (for evidence look at all the discussions here on OP and notice how they all attack Matt C as a conservative). Apparently, among the self-proclaimed progressives, conservative means anyone who is not aligned with their particular way of thinking, as if
"progressive" is a very narrowly defined philosophy. As an
old-fashioned liberal, I continue to find the overuse and misuse of the conservative label offensive and seriously hope that the complacency we have seen in past local elections is overcome by other liberals who are equally offended.

If you want other recent examples of negative campaigns, there was a very concerted effort by Tom Jensen and Dan Coleman against Ed Harrison 6 (?) years ago; there was Tom Jensen's attack on Will Raymond the past 2 elections; and if you included Carrboro we could easily double the number.

When people start questioning other people's "values" and labeling that is going negative. So this campaign has already gone negative.I think there are parts of the town - mainly those that aren't Franklin Street - that want someone to talk about the Parks, the Library, traffic and taxes. Issues that really affect our day-to-day lives.I don't really care about Wake County and don't think it is a reflection of Chapel Hill. All of this talk of values does not address why we would consider cutting the library, but not eliminating the art requirement for public buildings.Does a sculpture really provide more to the community than a library? Seriously. Especially, when local artists are ignored in favor of out of town ones.  I still don't know exactly who I am going to vote for. I need to hear and see some principled stands, not just principled talk. Our parks are an embarrasment, with the exception of Homestead which is about to get a Homeless Shelter so we can expect the Homeless not in the shelter to destroy it, we have serious traffic problems and the Northwest Corner of town is beginning to look more like a downtown than downtown. So, I would really like to hear some positive solutions from any candidate so I  know who to vote for.I used to have a button - Think Globally. Act Locally. I am still waiting for some local action.

Lot 5 (nor Greenbridge) does not meet the most important criteria of successful infill as far as I'm concerned.

The Elliot Road movie theatre fiasco wasn't the town's fault.  I don't understand how any developer thought he could build a nine-screen theatre at that sight and get the cars in and out without taking over all the parking for the customers of the adjacent  businesses.  The town did insist on good driveways, but the theatre owner couldn't make a deal with the other property owners.  There was also a legal error about the ownership of the piece of land on which the enhanced driveway would be put.  The whole issue fomented a feud between the Memphis BBQ restaurant, Whole foods, and the movie theatre company.The shame of it is that the lot still sits vacant, serving no purpose to all of us except to be an eyesore, and serving as a money pit to the owner.  But this has happened a number of times, to wit:   Wicked Burrito, one of the Exxon stations on West Franklin, Univ Chrysler, the Fountains condos, the Hector's building, Brendles, and probably more that I can't think of right this second.  Hillsborough's Colonial Inn must be a poster child.  The philosophic point here is that the land use laws of the towns and county all assume that the developer wants to act is his own best interest, which is usually to make money.  If he/she is willing to lose big bucks, there is little the local governments can do.  A special use permit is a permit to build, not an order to build.

as I have learned a bit in the course of the discussion. I give you some points, but watching that meeting, it still looked to me, as an outsider who was not privy to inside information, that up until that moment, there was an agreement between the town and developer to move forward. The mayor was looking around ready to call for the vote. After that stipulation there wasn't. Maybe it wasn't the stipulation for an off duty CH police officer but it sure looked like it from where I sat. And yes, lately, movie theaters have not done well, but I believe this development was proposed well before the downturn in the market cited by George. However, I do take George's larger point that it is possible there was some other reason the project went south. Perhaps if it had been built, it would have gone under in the current economy. Don't know.

In regards to Mark Chilton's first entry of this thread - I see no difference in the Wake County parents who voted anti-busing school board members into office (hello 1971) from the parents in Chapel Hill who feared busing of their kids to Orange County Schools. I see no difference in the 'liberal' Chapel Hill politicians who aren't forthcoming to provide a solution to dealing with their waste, but are quick to say 'not here', from conservative antienvironmentalists, pro big business advocates. Look in the mirror, Chapel Hill. Are you really the liberal community you'd like to be?? I've lived in this community for over 20 years after living in San Francisco and Ma. My gut feel is that Chapel Hill is conservative. Hey, I like a lot of things about Chapel Hill, but I just think 'liberals' need to practice what they preach here. I think the break down is that most residents are newcomers, here temporarily for the schools and such, for self serving reasons,... That's just how I see things here. Thanks, from one liberal Orange County resident



The OC/CHCCS schools issue is strongly felt on both sides.  It is a question of one community that has continually expressed support for paying higher taxes to support education than another.  If there were equal funding and support of quality education, there wouldn't be an issue.  But because one side is adamently opposed to paying for highest quality schools, the other side is quite angry over the suggestion that they get dragged down to the same level (and while the law says they must make the funding at the higher level, there's nothing to say that they won't freeze funding for 5 years to make the new level after that more like the current lower one). Non-CH/C parts of the county have made it clear what priority they put on education with how they vote for (and protest) taxes.  Why would you want to merge another part of the county which also has a clear priority? My wife went to Wake County schools when they were first integrated.  And she's appalled at the vote last week.  And she's opposed to the merger in OC.  Sorry you don't see the difference.

The OC and Chapel Hill School systems are different systems. They both have separate operational budgets but where it gets muddy is that Orange County residents pay for a share of the bonds that build CHCC buildings yet they have no right to access their investment in those buldings. Some kids in South Orange County are faced with massive bus rides to OC schools when they are miles closer to CHCC schools that they helped pay for the buildings. CHCC building demand far exceeds OC. Maybe a solution would be to allow OC kid to attend Chapel Hill schools if there parents would like to take on the CHCC school district tax.

I know that Chapel Hill High is jammed and the county schools generally have more openings. Don't know about East CHH. The county schools have space I think. So offering an option for county kids to attend city schools has a hurdle. 

Actually, the same is true for Orange for me. This was a State mandated and created problem.Actually, my son will never get to access any of the investments in schools other than Glenwood, Smith and Chapel Hill, because he is not assigned to those schools. That is just the way it is. Focusing on the buildings is misguided. The kids who go to Orange High get screwed, because they lavish everything on Cedar Ridge.  According to some until recently Cedar Ridge was spending Orange's uniform budget. No one student ever gets access to every building in a school system for their education. Now, there are some program issues - No IB in Chapel Hill and a lack of other programs in Orange.So the issue is not and has never been the buildings, it's the programs. The buildings are a smoke screen.

IB is offered, but the student needs to spend part of the day at Cedar Ridge. IB stands for International Bacculareate - a great program that is oriented toward college study and does not spend time teaching for tests in the bullshit No Child Left Behind model.

As for No Child Left Behind - No Child is Left Behind - They are all kicked to the curb

I remember watching the meeting where Ed made the stipulation and thinking it was terribly capricious and arbitrary. I still do. This was not what deep sixed the deal. The deal was pooched by the cross easement agreements that were never finalized between the property owners (as Joe pointed out). The council has taken a lot of heat for something that was not their fault. The reality is that this property, University Chrysler and the Wicked Burrito (in the past) have sat unutilized because the property owners think they can make more money on the appreciation of the market price of the land than they can by developing the property themselves. Essentially they view it as money in the bank that is earning interest with acceptable carrying costs (property taxes, insurance, etc.) So Chapel Hill's rising real estate values have worked to create a situation where these properties are worth more (in the eyes of their owners) unused.Three years ago I chaired a committee that explored the employee benefits at town hall. I was interested in trying to curb the rising costs of employee benefits and also free up some cash to increase the employees' take home pay. This could have been done by going to a higher deductible lower premium plan. I got no traction with the idea. I don't remember the specifics of why not. The reality is that Matt has as much chance of freezing property taxes for two years or cutting benefits as a council member as he would as Mayor. He is still only one vote. Why hasn't he made his proposals already?The idea of a two year budget has been around for a while and that would do essentially the same thing.....Campaign rhetoric often is simple minded and disingenuous. Claims of fiscal responsibility are easy to make but difficult to implement. Calling for an increase in commercial tax base is all well and good but do the math: often candidates say they would like to see our Commercial tax base increase from it's present 17% (i'm guessing) to a Raleighesque-28 to 35%. This would require an approximately 40% increase in commercial space. That would be something like 4 new Franklin St.s. At the same time the same people decry the empty spaces downtown; so how do the two ideas jibe? YET year after year candidates have been trotting out the same exact rhetoric. That being said increasing commercial tax base is a good idea but being realistic is desirable......  

Apparently I was sitting next to Ed when he made that motion (I thought I was in the audience, as yet unelected). Ed says he talked to lots of people about the motion before he made it just not me. I still don't like last minute amendments on almost done deals but this one didn't really have an effect on  the project.Cam

I appreciate your confirmation of the "impression" and the additional information from Ruby, you, and everyone else. 

Seems odd for anyone running for office in Chapel Hill.

Like one couldn't figure out who they would endorse before turning in a questionnaire?  Why bother?

Fred,I agree with you that their endorsement was predictable. The Independent attempts to  represent  the progressive side of politics in the Triangle. I don't always agree with their endorsements but, in this case I think they offered a strong argument for endorsing Kleinschmidt.Beyond that, a candidate who respects the process, respects the electorate, and respects the local media has many practical, political reasons to answer the questionnaire and not just blow them off. For one thing, if a candidate who doesn't ultimately get their endorsement raises some good points in the questionnaire, then there is likely to be a positive mention. They did just that with Gene Pease. Secondly, a smart candidate would never burn bridges with the local media. If elected, he will benefit from being able to communicate well with the Independent. It seems like another example of Matt's inability to understand the nuances of good leadership. He could take a tip from Gene in this regard.Thirdly, Mattt seems to have won over some borderline progressive voters that are highly likely to be Independent readers. It would have been savvy of him to present his case strongly to the Independent. The divisive nature of his campaign and political presence is only highlighted by his decision to blow off the Independent. Again, it calls into question his judgment and his commitment to be a mayor that tries to serve all the constituents. One can only conclude that he has an us vs. them attitude, which would be clearly problematic. 



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