Racial & Economic Justice

Homeless people to be relocated to the moon

Apparently a home for people without one "just doesn't belong in a residential area." So says Lynne Kane (a 5-year resident of The Meadows, a 56-home subdivision) about the homeless shelter in the Chapel Hill Herald today. I have two questions for Lynne:

1. Where should these people live, if not in a residential area?

2. What part of town isn't a residential area?

You'll recall Lynn's neighbors in the Legion Road road area also opposed the construction of 14 affordable townhomes 5 years ago, as well as a charter school more recently.

I actually think the shelter should be located in my residential area, that is: downtown. Folks need access to jobs and transportation and this is where it's at.

Collective bargaining testimonials

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday, December 18, 2004

Two weeks ago, the International Worker Justice Campaign and UE-150, the N.C. Public Service Workers Union, sponsored a public hearing on the need for collective bargaining rights for public sector employees. The testimony at that event, from numerous university and Chapel Hill employees, was unsettling to say the least.

It has been pretty well established that certain blue collar job categories both at UNC and with the town have historically had a disproportionate number of African-American workers. These workers have suffered under difficult working conditions, poor pay, discriminatory promotion policies and grievance procedures that are often stacked against them.

Those were some of the topics discussed by workers at the recent hearing. Particularly harrowing were the descriptions of the effect of some of the chemicals that cleaning crews are required to use at the hospital. Exposure to these chemicals has caused respiratory problems, nosebleeds and other health problems. Some workers were coughing up blood.

News roundup

Good news: The end of the Bell Award at UNC. Congrats to Yonni Chapman and others who have been working on this for years!

Bad news: Carrboro cops lie and cheat to catch accused murderer. Is it OK if he's really guilty?

More bad news: New landlord evicts dozens of poor latino families right before Christmas. Now that's real christian of him.

Talk amongst yourselves, I'm going on vacation...

Leadership foibles obstruct process

Chapel Hill Herald
Saturday, December 11, 2004

On Monday night the Chapel Hill Town Council once again grabbed division from the jaws of unity. As was the case with the Airport Road renaming six months ago, the council seemed largely in agreement about the repairs that are needed for the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery. Disagreements arose on how to schedule and pay for them. Somehow, once again, a 5-4 vote resulted.

Political observers who make a fetish of looking for divisions on the council tend to overlook the fact that this council usually operates near consensus. Monday night, after the cemetery vote, they went on to consider a number of issues including some potentially thorny questions regarding the university. The votes were unanimous.

Those fostering incivility, name-calling, and divisiveness on the council should have been called on it by Mayor Kevin Foy. The mayor is supposed to run the meetings in an effective, inclusive, and deliberative manner. Usually, he does a better job.

Piling the $$$ on Cemetery Repairs

According to the right, liberals love to throw money at things. This is just what Dorothy Verkerk and Edith Wiggins did with the cemetery repair issue last Monday night. There was controversy over how to spend the $150,000 allocated to the repairs, so they came up with the idea of spending another $70,000. And, thanks to Mayor Foy's readiness to bang the gavel, a $40,000 cost savings proposed by Cam Hill was not even discussed.

Here's how Cam Hill described the problem in a letter to Foy:

I had met with Gaines Steer (of the Last Unicorn) and Bill Wyatt (an associated welder) and they had assured me of two things:

#1. That the Di/Phi fences are in no immediate danger of irredeemable deterioration. We need not be in any hurry to restore these fences; we can explore all possible options.
#2. There are lower cost alternatives to the proposed $52,000 restoration proposal.



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