Monday, April 12, 2010

THEY! (A WCHL Commentary)

All over the US and even at our local level, there appears to be a lot of disgruntlement with government these days. Some think governments are doing things they shouldn’t be doing and other are unhappy that governments aren’t doing some other things. Lots of finger pointing, heated debates and passionate anger. What’s interesting about all of this is that no matter what side is making their case, it’s clear who’s to blame for every single thing; it is “THEY.” Yes, “THEY” did it or didn’t do it, “THEY” are responsible.

I checked the phonebook, the voter rolls and even Google, and nobody named “THEY” pops up. So just who is “THEY?” Well, “THEY” are the ones who will have another opportunity to maintain or take control of things because “THEY” will vote in the election coming up. Sadly, primary elections in the spring don’t bring out many voters. In the 2006 primary, an election most like this year’s, a whopping 13% participated.

Never mind that in these primaries, we are choosing party candidates for the US senate and house, state officials, county commissioners, county sheriff, county school board members and other county positions as well as nonpartisan judges. One-Stop Early Voting Begins Thursday April 15th and ends Saturday May 1st. Primary Election day is Tuesday May 4th.

If you don’t vote, is it really fair to blame the “THEY” who did vote? Let’s face it; “THEY” should be “US.” If not, “THEY” will always be making the decisions for US.

Friday, April 2, 2010


On March 22d the Chapel Hill Town Council had a meeting. Nothing surprising with that, but this was a long meeting, a really long meeting. It went on for five and one-half hours. That’s right, it started at 7pm on Monday and ended at 12:35 am on Tuesday. That’s 335 minutes, or 20,100 seconds.

In other words, it went on for a long time! Why? Because there were lots of major things to discuss packed into the agenda, not to mention petitions and reports to the Council. There’s plenty wrong with meeting this long – any meeting over three hours is just wrong! The council members are not at their best, the staff has to still come to work in the morning, presenters have to sit through these things and waste a lot of their time, citizens tune out before the meeting is over, and worst of all, there may be some terrible decisions made by tired people.

I would encourage the Council and manager to take a hard look at their meeting agendas and work hard to keep them to three hours max, or better yet, two hours if possible. Sad to say, long meetings are real barriers --- a barrier for people who might want to serve on the council and still have a job, have a family or even want to have other activities in their lives. And it’s also a barrier to the public who wants to watch the process in real-time. We can and must do better!