Tuesday, December 30, 2008

GOODBYE 2008, HELLO 2009!

One of the most often repeated comments in our Christmas cards and letters this year was, “Where did 2008 go?” It did seem to fly bye at a record pace, except towards the end when the those annoying and unhelpful campaign commercials at all levels made me think November 4th would never arrive!

But it was still a fast year, and we even had an extra day because like all presidential election years, it was a leap year. Now we are told that we even have to add an additional second to the year. As The Associated Press reports,

The custodians of time will ring in the New Year by tacking a "leap second" onto the clock Wednesday to account for the minute slowing of the Earth's rotation.
The leap second has been used sporadically at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich
since 1972, an adjustment that has kept Greenwich Mean Time the internationally
agreed time standard.

OK. It was a longer year because of the extra day and extra second, but it still flew by. Maybe the speed is related to all of the things that happened at the local, state and national levels. The elections, the wars and the economic crisis loomed large and it’s a certainty that 2009 will see more of the same. We will have our municipal elections in November and I suspect the "early" campaigning will begin shortly, meaning that we could see a longer than usual campaign season.

It will be interesting in Chapel Hill because for the first time we will have public financing. How this will shape the field or even the outcome is of course unknown, but it’s clear that this is big. In July, the General Assembly passed a bill that allowed Chapel Hill to do a pilot program for public financing in municipal elections. I personally believe this violates our First Amendment rights, even though there is a lot of disagreement on this. I guess we might see more court action on this in 2009.

Another major focus in 2009 will be on UNC --- breaking ground at Carolina North, closing Horace Williams Airport, and efforts to secure a new field somewhere in Orange County. Sometime in the first quarter, the authority for the airport will be appointed. According to the legislation enacted last summer by the North Carolina General Assembly, the panel will have four members each picked by the UNC Board of Trustees and the UNC Health Care system, two by the legislature, three by the county, one by Chapel Hill and one by Carrboro and Hillsborough on a rotating basis.

This process of appointing and then their studying and identifying potential sites will be interesting to say the least, but so will the Board of County Commissioners final selection of a site for the transfer station somewhere in Orange County. All of the growth, development and land use issues, as well as implementing the County’s newly approved Comprehensive Plan means that the plate is full, even before we add an extra second to bring 2008 to an end.

We can only hope that we will pull together to face all of these challenges. I can see no other way to resolve successfully the many issues that confront us in our area, the nation, and the world. Good luck to all of our leaders, elected and to be elected, and to those who work hard for the common good. With decreasing economic resources that will make their tasks even harder, they really do need a lot of help!

I guess in 12 months we can reflect on how that went. Go ahead, scratch off the days right here!