The election is not about money

Last Wednesday, Oct 28, Henry Lister did a commentary on WCHL about the upcoming election for Chapel Hill mayor and council.  He named no candidates; rather he described the election as a choice.  The choice is between our legacy, i.e., two centures of conscious decisions that have resulted in our becoming a world-class center of education and health care, versus those who are primarily concerned with lowering property taxes.  I think Henry did a great job. Here is his commentary:
The upcoming election in Chapel Hill is NOT about money.  We face a dangerous election next week.  Several vocal and well-funded candidates are running platforms promising to reduce homeowner taxes by developing more commercial taxes, some just because they think that’s what voters want to hear.  But framing this election about money does us all a dis-service and shifts the focus from our real goal, which is to continue Chapel Hill’s legacy.
Our town’s legacy was fostered through two centuries of progressive action within our town and across the state, and is now in danger of being lost here forever. Say it up and say it down, Chapel Hill is a progressive town.  Progressive thinking is not a liberal or conservative construct but best characterized by dynamic leadership based on sound principles.  As a town, our heritage lies within the heart of the mission of UNC, which to paraphrase and quote is to educate the state’s children such that they “contribute to the solution of societal problems and enrich the quality of life in the State.”  Chapel Hill’s role, as a town, is about fostering learning and providing opportunities for students to apply their knowledge through public service.  It’s not about money. It’s about creating and fostering an environment where serious study, deep thinking, passionate investigation and exuberate action for the social good can occur.  As a Town are about learning, leadership and acting on beliefs that come from serious study.  The commerce that is here is in place to support the University. Let me repeat, none of that is about money.
Because UNC and the UNC Hospital run the “company store,” we have become and likely will remain a predominantly residential community.  This Town became wealthy because of progressive politics and economics that attracted newcomers, many of whom have little or no association with the University. We are a community where housing is costly because it is desirable to live in one of the nation’s best residential towns, with outstanding schools and a progressive university at its core.  Good schools, a lively downtown commercial center, and a strong University are legacies that was given to us. Town politics concerning development has rarely targeted building lots of offices and commercial interests. So to frame our current election as one that will correct a tax imbalance with a new commercial tax base is spurious.
The danger in this election is that our community conversation may forever shift from the ethos of the love of learning to the love of money.  We as citizens are proud to pay our taxes because we can see they are well spent and support those values that are important to us.  This is not a time for us as citizens to be swayed by empty promises of lower taxes. We must vote for candidates that will continue the legacy we inherited and enjoy.  This election vote with your heart and soul, not your pocket book.



I don't think I know anyone who values Chapel Hill any more than you do Joe.  Thanks for a great post.

I heard this on the radio the other day (I think it was Wednesday?) and I thought it was was a good point and well-made. Thanks for posting, Joe.

I agree with the "values" (sorry Fred) that Mr. Lister represents here, but he's missing a crucial fact. Many of us who work for the University, the health care system, and/or the school system, the ones who share his values, can't afford to live in (either) town. And those who come here to take advantage of the school system and the cultural riches offered by the University complex don't work here, don't shop here, and probably don't even play here. All systems exist around a series of feedback loops, which correct imbalances and maintain equilibrium. This election is about correcting an imbalance. The imbalance was created when the approval of million dollar development properties took precedence over providing a home for those work to make the University the heart of the town. There's a place here for the uber-rich, for those who were fortunate enough to purchase their homes prior to the boom, and to some extent the working poor. Those of us in the middle are SOL.So forget the nice sentiments and the false dichtomy of the term "progressive." This election is about money, and it is about maintaining the nature of Chapel Hill as a diverse community.  We can have both, but we have to correct the imbalance first rather than continuing on in the belief that high density, high priced homes will preserve what many of us remember as a socially, economically, and culturally diverse community.

absolutely correct -- I love the diversity of CH (have for 32 years).  And I don't think the current direction enhances that in any way.

To characterize the election as a choice between "an ethos of the love of learning to the love of money" is flat out wrong and it's that holier-than-thou attitude that just riles a lot of people of modest means like me up. I expect to pay my fair share of taxes and if I didn't, I would have fled Chapel Hill to go live outside its city limits years ago. We are talking about financial stewardship and that is a very different thing than the love of money. Financial stewardship allows people to nurture and enrich an environment of learning. It allows a community to do more with what it has. But my other point is that the election is about other things as well. There are good reasons to vote for both candidates (and I'm assuming that really it's just between Matt and Mark). I understand the sentiment of the above commentary and agree with it up until the point where the fear mongering sets in "a la Glen Beck." The Wednesday after the election, we will all need to join hands as a community to work together. This kind of hyperbole just makes that a bit harder. 

Constructing false dichotomies is a long cherished political strategy.  What is so sad is that the techniques we see being used, and even the rhetoric, is similar to that used by those our "progressive values" folks claim to dislike so much.  why use their methods and initiate all of this fear mongering?And you are right again when you talk about the difficult healing process we face.

The point about people in the middle is a good one and I don't know why so many miss it.  The place where I work at UNC is mostly doctors and support staff.  The doctors  and the old support staff that bought a home a long time ago live and own in Chapel Hill.  The younger and middle age supports staff either rent in Chapel Hill or own elsewhere.  Briar Chapel might as well be named UNC South Chapel Hill Employee Housing Center.  It has some higher priced homes but compared to CH/C it's cheap.  The big chunk of people in the middle are squeezed out in CH/C, which is ironic since so many people around there pretend their populist.The editorial says people are proud to pay taxes because they see that it is well spent.  The only people proud to pay taxes are those that pay more than they have to and nobody does that. And well spent?  Should we start listing ways in which money has been wasted?  Look, Chapel Hill is a nice place, but it's not like it's Shangra-La and everyplace else in the world is the Ninth Circle of Hell.  You can't tell me that Chapell Hill couldn't be even nicer than it is now and yet have much lower property taxes.   It's offensive to pay outrageously high property taxes and don't get nearly ehough in return and then when you say something about it people insinuate you're a greedy, money hungry pig and not a real Chapel Hillian, as that editorial does.

Even putting the election aside, this is an important discussion.I suppose all elections blow smoke, even here in paradise. Sometimes our candidates help us rosy-up our feelings for this town and further mitigate our awareness of our flaws. Affording to live in Chapel Hill is one of our flaws.I am one of those who got here early. I bought two homes while being a public school teacher ($4,200 a year!!) and still live in the 2nd one. The Orange Assessor now has our property value 10 times what we paid for it.Young faculty and staff could buy a home here in the 60's but the young doctor I saw yesterday at the UNC Hospital cannot. What happened? No mystery, demand for living here exploded with the growth of the University and RTP, fueled by a reputation based on our schools and, embarrassing, our exclusiveness. There you have it.Our Town Council has shepherded us through the sturm und drang of growth, maintaining Chapel Hill's positive reputation and sowing inevitable unintended consequences. Want to live here for under $300k? There might be a few units in one of these high rise condo projects coming on board.And now we can most clearly see that our University is really a business. I dream of Henry's view but I see associate vice chancellors when I wake up.Right now we have benefited from a very talented and caring Mayor, Kevin Foy, and trying Council, and a very promising Chancellor Thorp. And we've been very lucky with our town managers and staff, we get very good service for our tax dollar.Lower our taxes? Lower our quality? Lower our expectations? If there is an enemy, it is us. I'm voting for experience and the person who will build consensus after putting truth on the table. I am voting for the person who will face those scared by the homeless and educate them about their brothers and sisters and whom we value in Chapel Hill.  

The comments about people being squeezed out of home ownership in Chapel Hill are all true. The reality is that the popularity of the school system has brought in folks willing to pay a lot to live here. It has all been said may times. BUT the idea that Matt and company will reverse this is ridiculous. The board of realtors advertises far and wide the desirability of the CH/C school system which encourages people to move here, which drives up prices. Taxes are too high, that is by definition. It is campaign BS pure and simple to suggest that these people are gonna make any more difference than anyone else in this area. The idea that three elitist candidates ( a retired CFO, a banker and an accountant) supported by realtors and developers are going to make Chapel Hill more affordable is a non sequitor.  Cam

At least some of the candidates are talking about fiscal responsibility.  If they get elected and don't deliver, I'll vote those bums out as well.  But at least they are willing to discuss the possibility.  I don't see anything in Mark's campaign that even acknowledge's we have a problem (with spending on public art in tough times, for example).  If you can't acknowledge there's a problem, why would I expect you to fix it?  the other side may not be able to fix it, but they deserve credit for bringing the issue to the table.  I voted for you, Cam, because of the fresh voice needed on the council.  I will vote similarly this time, especially for mayor.

In Chapel Hill, ignoring the county recycling and town stormwater fees (very small, together less than 3 pct), a property tax bill breaks down to 32 pct town and 68 pct county, regardless of home value.  Let's assume that Matt is elected, and further assume that four conservatives follow him onto the council, thereby changing the majority to fiscal conservative.A town is primarily a blue-collar service industry, with 70 pct of its budget paying for salaries and benefits.  Let's assume that the new council majority commands the town manager to reduce the town budget by ten percent.  This can only be achieved through layoffs, reduction of staff salaries and benefits, with consequent cuts to services. Let's assume this happens.Our property tax bills go down by 3.2 pct.  Is it worth it? The bang for the buck to reduce property taxes is at the county level, where half of the operating budget pays for schools.  Here the mayor and town council have no input. 

I agree Joe. No one politician is going to lower the overall cost of running a town like Chapel Hill. I am supporting Matt and Will, not because I expect either to reduce taxes but because I believe they will shift the burden of the taxes from residential to business. Not wholesale--no one that I've talked to wants row after row of shopping malls. But growing residential in the absence of commercial growth has created this problem for those of us in the middle so we've got to do something. The correction we need, IMHO, is to make the town more appealing to businesses that are appropriate for our community. Just because Matt and the others have business backgrounds shouldn't set them up for this false image of money-grubbing profiteers. They all came here to live because they like what we have. It would not be in their best interests or that of their families to promote fast foods joints and outlet malls. But they can help us attract businesses, like Carrboro is doing, that are spin-offs from the university, arts related, etc. And like James, if they don't, then I'll vote differently next time. Mark K has said that he's proud of his role on the economic development committee. I'm glad he's found it rewarding, but I'd be less adamant about supporting Matt if he or his supporters would provide concrete evidence of what that committee has achieved, what role Mark has had in those achievements, and where they are going in the future. So far, I have not heard anyone make any statements of support for Mark other than "incumbents good--new guys bad." Pursuing the status quo, simply on the basis of friendship, is not (I hope) a progressive value although I still haven't figured out what progressive means.


I agree with some of what you say. But I haven't seen anything specific to suggest that Matt would do a better job bringing more businesses to Chapel Hill in a way that comports with the fabric of the town, not just developing more islands of retail surrounded by roads and disconnected from any residential community. It's easy to say it needs to be done and that we need "change," but it's another thing to give specific examples of how you'd do things differently.

I'm not sure why you haven't seen any specific reasons of support for Mark, but I can say that one of the reasons I support Mark is that one of his goals is to bring more compatible businesses to Chapel Hill. He supported and continues to support East 54, and in my view that's a good example where he's brought commercial development to Chapel Hill. There also are, of course, other reasons to support him beyond just that.

That said, I don't think Matt would be a disaster as mayor; from what I've heard, he seems to be a smart and reasonable fellow, and I'm sure he has the potential to be an effective mayor. (Of course, I thought that about Mitt Romney in 2002, and even voted for him. Big mistake.) I just think Mark is the better choice.

You're right Geoff. No one has provided any specific examples of what will be done. And even if they did, I wouldn't believe them, would you? But I've talked to Matt, and at least on the surface, he and I are in agreement on the issue of over-development of residential and under-development of a commercial base. I haven't seen any figures, but I would be surprised if East 54 generates more taxes than it uses. I'm pretty sure Meadowmont and Southern Village have not yet achieved that milestone. And that's another of the problems. No one on council is willing to question their commitment to mixed use long enough to ask if it is working. We should be using hard cold data to inform policy rather than using the nice theories that may not apply in total to our community. Matt's frequent requests that for level of evidence prior to making decisions has been a source of contention on council, but is a breath of fresh air for me. Mark has been on council for 8 years. During that time, the council has 1) ignored their own zoning ordinances by making every new development an SUP, 2) turned "affordable housing" into a concept that applies only to the working poor, 3) thrown away a perfectly good design to redevelop Ram Parking Deck into artists studios and condos, and then given the property away for free, 4) spent a small fortune on the Lot 5 development when there does not look to be any return on investment, 5) ignored the pleas for downtown parking by residents and business owners, 6) implemented a 1% for art program with no stipulation for local artists to have first shot, 7) built a town services facility without an emergency response center but with a $500,000 piece of public art.......should I go on?These are the reasons I would vote for Matt (and Will). I don't believe either will fundamentally change the nature of our town government, but I do believe they both have a more data-driven approach to policy making that I, for one, believe is desperately needed. The challenge for Matt, should he be elected, is to figure out how to bring the council together after the most contentious election I remember for this town. It won't be easy.  

Thanks for your response, Terri. Regarding this "No one has provided any specific examples of what will be done. And even if they did, I wouldn't believe them, would you?" I think that's kind of a cop out, not by you but by the candidate who's calling for a new way of doing things. I think on a local level you can be much more specific than you could be in a national election, and it's easier to keep the promises because it's a smaller scale with fewer constituencies to satisfy.

If the town needs more and better commercial development, it'd be great if Matt could give suggestions regarding *where* and in what form. Without that, there's not much to go on other than platitudes from a guy who sold his house then bought it back 18 months later for a loss of $100,000. (Yes, I think that's at least somewhat relevant if he's being touted as someone who'll bring fiscal responsibility to Chapel Hill.)

Regarding East 54, I doubt that it will attract as many families as a Southern Village or a Meadowmont, reducing the potential impact on the school system. And because of its location, compact and "green" design and inclusion of nonresidential components, its impact on town services will be less than a development built on the outskirts of town or which covers a much broader piece of land. It's probably too early to tell though.

Regarding Southern Village and Meadowmont, the development of both predate me. But one of the problems with those two mixed-use communities is that the mix isn't right, and the commercial and retail portions are much smaller than they need to be both for revenue purposes and to maintain the viability of those areas as retail destinations. Now, are the business portions smaller than they would be because of opposition from residents to the inclusion of any residential & retail? If that's the case, then it's hard to say that the current council's responsiveness to the residents of the town is wrongheaded, misguided though it may have been.

As for data, there's nothing wrong with using data to guide decisionmaking. But data has its limitations, because it'll tell you that a Southpoint is much more fiscally responsible than a smaller development which fits in with the fabric of the town.

You're right Geoff, we should have discussions, not on the specific businesses that could
be brought in, but on where new commercial development can be located. But since Mark agrees with Matt on the issue of needing more commercial development, I don't think it would be fair to think Matt alone should provide specific suggestions. I don't remember the exact ratio but I think there is something like a 1:4 ratio of taxes generated and services used between residential and commercial in Orange County/Chapel Hill. So for mixed use to be successful (defined as paying for itself), there would need to be much more commercial than either SV or Meadowmont currently support. One of the problems Meadowmont businesses have complained about is their inability to put signage on Hwy 54. That issue has been before council on more than one occasion, and they have decided against modifying current signage ordinances to support those businesses. It's great to see a new resident getting up to speed on these issues. One of things you need to understand is that fiscal issues will never stand alone in Chapel Hill. Not for Matt or for me or Fred Black or any of the others I know who support Matt. So while Southpoint may bring in more sales tax revenues than it costs in urban services (including stormwater management and the other required environmental controls--a fact which I would be leery of accepting), there is no chance that Matt or anyone else would seriously support that type of large scale development. All those who are blowing that warning around are running a needlessly negative campaign--afraid to accept the possibility of moderate change. 

This has been productive, Terry. And I wasn't seriously considering that any of the current candidates would support a Southpoint, especially given there's really nowhere to put such a behemoth. Nevertheless, I maintain that I would like to see what sorts of commercial developments Matt would support -- if the current council isn't being sufficiently receptive, then name some specific changes. That's all.

As for signage, I can understand the reluctance, though without knowing the details I can't comment. It was a mistake hiding Meadowmont from the road for that reason.

I actually can't say that Matt would support all of these ideas, but I have heard him speak of some (maybe all of the following). Some comes from my own experience:Better signage towards commercial centers and parking. It can be tasteful. This really wouldn't cost much.Validate parking downtown for people who frequent those businesses.Make the permitting process more predictable, less capricious, less of a crap shoot, if you will. We have what we have now because virtually everything has become a SUP. Zoning rules don't apply to an SUP. I am FOR neighbor input. I am FOR regulation. We have gone so far in the other direction we have made construction or renovation projects very, very expensive for smaller organizations.Stop calling everyone who applies for a permit a "developer" instead of an "applicant." I have personal experience with this as regards a nonprofit organization. It was silly to equate someone who is doing one project to something on the order of Meadowmont or Southern Village. It predisposes everyone against the applicant. Possible development: the plaza theater empty lot, redo University Mall, and downtown. These are all currently zoned commercial. I have heard Matt speak on these issues. Missed opportunities by the current council: 1) the plaza theater fiasco (they were difficult, the site had challenges, but the town only made matters worse instead of better - they were difficult too). Maybe things turned out for the best, but not because of the town's process.2) the Zinn development. 3) Downtown, downtown, downtown. In order to create a vibrant pedestrian community, you need enough foot traffic to support a variety of businesses so you need a certain amount of parking which needs to be clearly marked and easy to access. OK, that's it for now. Happy Halloween! 

As I pointed out recently, I'm new here. Could someone let me know what happened with the plaza theater (and where that is)?FWIW,  Mark K. has talked at some length about University Mall. And downtown, obviously. (Although, it's odd, I really dislike malls, but I like University Mall. Something about the small scale and eclectic mix of retailers, I suppose.) I think Greenbridge and the U. Square redevelopment will help in making downtown busier, but we'll see. And a Happy Halloween to everyone as well. Sorry, out of candy! 

Kind of a minefield there, Geoff.  There has been some recent discussion of this on OP elsewhere (with differing interpretations).  Rather than rehash the whole thing, let me see if I can post some links to the differing views recently posted here.

Geoff, I finally found the recent discussion about the Plaza Theater issue: Crockett's comment is followed by several other comments and they should probably all be taken together in order to develop a fairly complete view of the situation.

Geoff, for someone who just moved here you have a lot of insight about how large-scale development has been treated in Chapel Hill! You pretty much hit the nail on the head right here:

Regarding Southern Village and Meadowmont, the development of both predate me. But one of the problems with those two mixed-use communities is that the mix isn't right, and the commercial and retail portions are much smaller than they need to be both for revenue purposes and to maintain the viability of those areas as retail destinations. Now, are the business portions smaller than they would be because of opposition from residents to the inclusion of any residential & retail? If that's the case, then it's hard to say that the current council's responsiveness to the residents of the town is wrongheaded, misguided though it may have been.

And then all these "pro-business" folks who harp about the commercial tax base go and oppose East 54, which has a better mix and a much better site plan than its predecessors. I wonder if the problem really isn't that a lot of folks just fear change. It sometimes seems to be the people who've lived here the shortest who least want to see things change.

"I haven't seen any figures, but I would be surprised if East 54 generates more taxes than it uses. I'm pretty sure Meadowmont and Southern Village have not yet achieved that milestone."Sure, I'd be happy to see the city perform this analysis, as long as it didn't cost too much.  In the meantime all the studies I've read point to an overall municipal cost savings in neighborhoods like Southern Village and Meadowmont.  The closer buildings cost less to put in water and sewer, and cost less to cover with police, fire, trash removal, postal service and public transportation. "... the city of Franklin, a Milwaukee suburb of 25,000, conducted a careful cost analysis in 1992.  It found that a new single family home in the suburbs paid less than $5,000 in property taxes but costs the city more than $10,000 to service".  Suburban Nation by  Duany, Plater, Zyberk and Speck. "In Minneapolis - St. Paul, the central city pays $6M more in annual sewer fees than it incurs in costs, to finance expansion of sewer lines into the shrinking farm belt."  Metropolitics by Myron OrfieldEvery study I've read says that the traditional cul-de-sac neighborhoods that have been and are being built in Chapel Hill cost the city more in taxes than new urbanist, mixed-use developments.  If you have any sources to the contrary, please let me know, as I delight in reading contrarian materials.  If you're interested in reading about this subject I can pass along book recommendations from some current town council members: How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and The Roads Not Taken The Death and Life of Great American CitiesSuburban Nation   

how hard a good number of Mark Kleinschmidt's supporters fought to keep Meadowmont and Southern Village from being built?

Fred,Which is that last statement?

This is kind of absurd. How many Matt C supporters fought Meadowmont, Fred? Don't a lot of them live in The Oaks? And aren't a lot of them opposed to dense developments? You're not even oversimplifying the facts, you're practically contorting them.Is this the kind of rationalization that is supposed to convince people to support Matt? Pretty weak.

I was away in grad school when Meadowmont went before council. Friends kept me informed of the community outrage, and those friends do not live in The Oaks. The battle I was informed of sounded like the arguments I would have expected around any development the size of Meadowmont. Too much pavement, spoiled the entrance to town, destroyed beautiful rolling hills of farm land. Why can't everyone just admit that while these large developments achieve the goal of high density for transit purposes, they create problems too. Do you remember how pastoral Chapel Hill appeared to be when you entered from 54 before Meadowmont? How could any environmentalist not have mixed feelings about it?

I think Meadowmont has flaws, Terri.  The alternative at the time was not leaving it as a pastoral landscape.  The alternative was a traditional cul de sac subdivision (which is what the property was then zoned for).  We decided to go for a different vision for the future of Chapel Hill.  It's not perfect, but it is less flawed than what would otherwise have been built.

George and Ruby challenged Fred's claim that some of Mark's supporters opposed Meadowmont. My point is that people feel conflicted about these large scale developments. It's unrealistic to believe that some of Mark's supporters didn't oppose it. Same for Southern Village; same for East 45. I know for positive that many in Chapel Hill/Carrboro oppose Briar Chapel in Chatham. All of these developments present a radical shift in the way many of us think about the town. Those who support them need to be more understanding and patient with those of us who don't share the same vision. Maybe we'll find a reality that we can all share and love as much as we did the long-past village of yesteryear.

Terri,What I was challenging in Fred's comment was his statement"...a good number of Mark Kleinschmidt's supporters fought to keep Meadowmont and Southern Village from being built."What constitutes a good number?  5?  50?  500?  5000?  Was it 1% of his supporters?  or was it 50% of his supporters?I'm sure that some of Mark's supporters didn't like Meadowmont and I'm equally sure that some of Matt's didn't either.  But I'm not sure that anyone knows that it was a good number since that is relative and a 'good number' means different things to different people.  I challenged Fred's statement because it is unlike him to use such an abstract characterization of peoples' positions.  Fred is usually pretty good about sticking to the facts. 

This is exactly what has been done to Matt during this campaign, max on abstract characterizations.  Of course I have no idea how many opposed it, but it was no small number.  Were not Council members McClintock ans Capowski leaders on the opposition?

Painting all or most of anyone supporters with such a broad brush can be a stretch, but in this case it was nonsensical. I was just pointing out how illogical it is to even make such a statement.

And all of Matt's supporters are not conservatives, they are not rich,
they are not Republicans, and all of the ones I know care a great deal
about the social issues, like homelessness and environmental protection.

is the Plaza Theater space.  Instead of putting roadblock after roadblock in front of the redevelopment, the TC could have gone out of its way to get something other than an empty lot there.  It already was commercial, so there's no impact.  But that's not the path Mark and the council chose.

My fresh voice wasn't lying to you, these voices is an old trick-using populist promises to advance an elitist agenda.Cam

I'm not sure to whom you're responding, but please stop the name calling. I acknowledge your passion and your courage to speak your mind. The candidates you despise are no more elitist than those endorsed by the traditional Chapel HIll political establishment: the Sierra Club, the Independent and the Democratic Party. There is a traditional "in" group in Chapel Hill politics, the "popular kids" and those who are not a member of the club don't stand a chance. So from where I sit, I see Chapel Hill as elitist in a way that you don't. Let's move beyond this. The fact of the matter is that some of the old guard likely will be reelected along with some new faces. But even if it's a clean sweep one way or the other, we are all going to have to live and play together. 

I can't find the correct thread on this one, but someone posted earlier today that crediting Kevin Foy wth part of the credit for free fare transit and tripling transit ridership was ridiculous because various entities helped subsidize the free fare. The poster even suggested that the money should have been used to subsidize free frare transit in a more congested city. As someone who works about 1/3 of my time on transit issues, and fancies myself an expert, I will admit that for 30 years I opposed free fare because I thought it would mean a reduction in service and a downward spiral. I was totally wrong, because I did not foresee that Chapel Hill, Carrboro and the University (including a student fee increase referendum in 2002) stepped up to the plate and increased service at the same time.  Free fare is enormously more productive in boarding as well. As an outsider (and not making any endorsements) I will say that if Kevin's legacy was JUST free fare and increased service it would be enough for me to give him an A+.  To suggest this money be spent in some other city is ludicrous.  UNC students are not going to send their student fees to make the DC subway fare free. If I was voting in Chapel Hill, I would give a LOT of weight to Kevin's endorsement. The suggestion in one post that endorsements are somehow undemocratic strikes me as ridiculous.  Without free fare Chapel Hill would be totally gridlocked. It was in UNC's interest because it allowed more development in campus and more jobs to be housed rather than parking spaces. EVERYONE benefitted.  That's just an outsider's view, but I will say that Chapel Hill's transit efforts are widely admired in the rest of the state and nationally.  Get your heads out of the sand.

His post also underscores the importance of Chapel Hill re-electing Ed Harrison. With Foy and Strom departed, Harrison remains (with Ward) as the most knowledgeable on transit issues. None of the challengers bring much to the table in this regard.

"I can't find the correct thread on this one, but someone posted earlier
today that crediting Kevin Foy wth part of the credit for free fare
transit and tripling transit ridership was ridiculous because various
entities helped subsidize the free fare."What I said was in response to Dan Coleman's claim that Kevin Foy single-handledly tripled ridership. Kevin deserves all the kudos or A+'s anyone wants to award him for his very positive and successful advocacy for public transit. But he didn't do it alone. Without UNC students' agreeing to pay the fee, we still wouldn't have fare free transit."The poster even suggested that
the money should have been used to subsidize free frare transit in a
more congested city."No idea where you got that. I didn't say it as part of my post of Kevin, and I can't find where anyone else here did either. Perhaps another blog?

Not only did I never say "Kevin Foy single-handedly tripled ridership," I explicitly credited all three partners with supporting the fare free program.In addition, I gave extra credit to Chapel Hill for actually managing the transit system in a manner that controls costs as ridership increases and for hiring Steve Spade (and credit also goes to Roger Stancil and Flo Miller for their role as stewards of Chapel Hill govt including transit).

My sophistry? Way to go over the top. However, you are correct that you attributed the tripling of ridership to the Foy Council, not just Kevin, under the subject heading of "The accomplishments of the Foy Council are outstanding." However, no where in that post (the one I responded to and Gerry referenced) did you give any credit for that accomplishment to UNC or anyone other than the Foy Council. After being challenged, you did spread the attributions around quite generously.

Here's the  announcement of the livability award from No mention of Carrbor or UNC but we understand the credit Chapel Hill earns from being lead agency and operating Chapel Hill Transit:
On June 15th,
the Town of Chapel Hill was awarded first place for the City Livability Award
during the 2009 Mayors' City Livability Awards Program. Mayor Kevin C. Foy was
in attendance and accepted the award on the town's behalf.

Hill was one of over 200 cities from around the country considered for the
award, which is based on three criteria: mayoral leadership, creativity and
innovation, and broad impact on the quality of life for residents. The Town won
top honors for cities with populations under 100,000 for creating the fare-free
transit program. Since its inception in 2002, the fare-free Chapel Hill Transit
has increased its ridership from 3 million riders to over 7 million riders
annually! The increased ridership has led Chapel Hill Transit to become the
second largest transit system in North Carolina!  The award recognizes the great
effort the community has made to encourage the use of public transportation and
reduce the dependency on automobiles. 

"rick" said at

 What has not been addressed is whether or not that subsidy would have been put to better use some other way. Even sticking within the realm of public transit, would those millions have been more effective allowing free transit in a larger, more congested city?" (emphasis added by Gerry)

Barbara, I did not say that YOU had said this


The question is not how much credit Foy should get for fare-free transit.  The question is whether Kleinshmidt or Czajkowski would have done likewise.  Cleary Kleinschmidt did support fare-free transit, as he was a member of the Council that made it happen.  Czajkowski would plainly not have supported fare-free transit.

You are supposing a vote. How about looking at the facts. You can't assume a vote. So the question is moot.

Well, so tell us, does he support fare-free transit?  Or is that the kind of thing we can expect to see on the budget chopping block?

One voting member can only encourage his or her colleagues to join with them to obtain a majority decision.  "That's why that "CHC" illegal flier is so silly when it implies that Czajkowski is responsible for the Town staff not getting a cost of living increase.  What a crock.

I find the thread of comments interesting. And while I don't know many of you who have commented here, I do know that most of you did not turn out to speak when East 54 was proposed, when Woodmont was proposed, or when Ayden Court was proposed.  I was there and am disturbed at the type of development that is allowed and the lack of forward thinking.

 One commenter here pointed out that there is little housing being built for the middle - support staff level folks. This was the primary focus of one of my presentations against Woodmont. Instead of following the dictates of the Comprehensive Plan, Council ignored the current zoning that would have allowed for nearly 200 mid-level homes to be built. Instead, local "carpet-baggers" won a proposal for Class A office space, in effect, East 54 clones. This was a very sad day.

Fault me for pointing out a "course change?" Making a dichotomous political statement? Think I'm holier-than-thou? Come visit me in my low to mid-value home in Chapel Hill, paying CH AND Durham taxes, and yes, I am very well informed as to how our tax dollars are spent. Think there's no difference between Matt, Mark and Augustus?  Then you don't know Matt like I do.

Rick KennedyFor sake of clarity, here is my referenced post from another blog in its entirety.Excuse me for interjecting, but I am compelled to do so, with much
of the commentary above going unchallenged.  These days OP seems to
often slip into little more than a daisy chain of mutual affirmation,
the same few folks affirming the same contentions, some healthy
exceptions noted and appreciated.
When it comes the upcoming election, vote for whoever you wish, but
to crow about Foy's accomplishments and the need to continue on his
path is a joke.
Consider several items on Foy's list of "accomplishments."
1.  "No Tax Increases" - Already one of the heaviest tax burdens in
the state, prohibitively expensive and exclusionary for most people in
North Carolina, if not the U.S.
2.  "Increased transit ridership"- 75% of the transit fund come from
outside Chapel Hill (Carrboro 6%.)  With about 70% of the $16 million
budget coming from someone else, allowing folks to ride free, of course
ridership would go up.  What has not been addressed is whether or not
that subsidy would have been put to better use some other way. Even
sticking within the realm of public transit, would those millions have
been more effective allowing free transit in a larger, more congested
3.  "Aquatics Center" - As I recall it, at the very end of a
laborious process pushing for a bond referendum for construction of
soccer fields, this item was tacked on after the bulk of work had been
done, a "me too" ploy a la "Little Red Hen."
4.  "Southern Park" - Funded by Orange County and bumped to the top
of the list at the expense of other projects.  Bingham Township has
been waiting 25 years for a community park, a need identified and put
on the county list in its parks and recreation assessment way back in
the 1980's.  They are still waiting, and Southern Village, which didn't
even exist back then, is all set.
5. and 6.  "Public Works" and "Transit Center" - Wonderful
facilities, but too bad they are not in Chapel Hill.  What a shame they
aren't centrally located in the area that they serve.  Foy also did his
best to give us folks out in Orange County/Orange County school
district the waste transfer station and the Chapel Hill men's homeless
shelter.  If it wasn't for the kindness/consideration of others, we
would have those too.  Remember too that 3 out of 4 of these sites are
in the Rural Buffer.  So much for the sanctity of that.
7.  "Economic Development Director" - With 30,000 captive consumers
and millions upon millions of dollars infused into the community by
UNC, how can anyone complain about how tough it is for economic
development in town?  Go to Northhampton County where you can't find
even a restaurant or ATM.
8.  "Affordable Housing" - Even with subsidized/ regulated housing,
affordable housing is still expensive here, or incredibly small, or
both.  Further, the average cost of a new home in Chapel Hill is
several hundred thousand dollars, excluding 95% of American families
from considering the thought of home purchase within its limits.  The
diversity that is held up as a prize here ignores the financial
apartheid of Chapel Hill and its environs.
9.  "Town- Gown Relations" - If Chapel Hill gets its way, then
relations are considered good.  The University of North Carolina,
though, has the duty of educating the young people of North Carolina,
and keeping Chapel Hill happy should have no sway if it were to
conflict withthe fundamental duty of the University.  The tail should
not wag the dog, and a university town should not dictate to its
university how it should grow.
10.  "Liveable City" - That's great, but the cost of that is put upon others in the ways noted above.
Good luck to whoever becomes the next mayor.  I hope they choose a
path oftheir own making, one a little more considerate, and less
arrogant, than the one chosen by Foy.



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