Wednesday, January 16, 2013

OBEY CREEK (A WCHL Commentary)

Let’s take a survey.  If you are against the current plan for the development of the parcel known as Obey Creek, shout out, I’m Against It!  OK, I hear some of you shouting, and that’s interesting because my commentary today is about that fact that there is no current plan to be against.  In March 2010 an Initial Concept plan presented to the Town Council.  It went nowhere.  In September 2012, a 2nd Concept plan was presented to Town Council; significantly, scaling back the initial proposal to correspond to the Chapel Hill 2020 recommendations. 

The Council referred the plan back to staff to begin working on a review process.  And in November, the staff came back to Council asking for approval to initiate a Development Agreement process by hiring a consultant. The Council granted approval and stipulated that there must be further dialogue and information gathering before any formal process may begin.  Clearly, large developments attract diverse opinions, but I think it is only fair that a developer should expect guidance and direction from the Town staff and Council in a timely fashion.  Three years is not only too long, but it is also very expensive.  

 I have no opinion on any Obey Creek proposal at this point, but I do believe that we can and should do better. Somehow, other jurisdictions not only ace us out but they seem to have a development process that works and serve the interests of multiple stakeholders; why can’t we? 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Happy New Year to all!  I think it’s only natural that when the new year arrives, we look with some anticipation and even anxiety towards what’s ahead of us and if at the end of the year, we will be able to pronounce it a good year or not.   We know for sure that the new year will bring change, for change is a constant, and we hope it will be change for the better.  Since this is an odd-numbered year, we know we will have municipal election.  But before we get to them, we have some vacancies to fill.   

The Carrboro Board of Alderman must decide whether to call for a special election to fill their open seat or wait until the November election to fill it.  Holding a special election may cost around $18,000, so the decision has real consequences.  In Chapel Hill, we are nearing the deadline to apply for the open seat that the Town Council will fill, as we don’t have the same ordinance covering filling vacancies.  I am already on record saying that the decision should be driven by who is the best qualifies and not be based on gender or other demographic factors; select who can do the best job, woman or man and of any ethnic origin and skin color.   

Yes, decisions have consequences and soon we will know some of the important ones for early 2013.  I hope that each of you has a great 2013 and that our local decision makers exercise good judgment in reaching their decisions that affect us all, and help to make this the great new year we aspire to have!  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CHARITY (A WCHL Commentary)

Thanksgiving has come and gone and of course, we witnessed even more hype this year over holiday shopping with some stores opening on Thanksgiving Day.  Apparently, the economy is picking up, as we read about record sales supporting what we now call the “season of giving.”  Yes, ‘tis the season to give and yes, we are very giving people.  But I think there are some who give all year long who we don’t thank enough and that is our local businesses.    

We are truly blessed in our community with businesses small and large who give back in ways that many of us simply take for granted.  The support to the community by businesses may not be well known to all but the recipients of their largess are truly appreciative.  From hotels and restaurants to small family businesses, they, and all those in between support the schools, churches, charity groups and even individuals in need.  Of course, they do charitable giving to groups and causes because they care about their community, and are able to do so because of the support they receive from us consumers.  

 So in this season of giving and throughout the year, let’s remember our local businesses, and what they do for our community.  And we can help them by remembering that they need our support for them to continue to support us. Yes, let’s be thankful that we have such generous and caring businesses in our community and show that we care by acting like we care. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

THORP (A WCHL Commentary)

On September 21st, we went up to campus to attend the noon rally that was billed as an effort to persuade Holden Thorp to stay on as chancellor.  We didn’t go thinking that a grand plea had any chance of getting him to change his mind, but we went because we felt the show of support would lift his spirits and let the entire Thorp family know how so many felt. 

We stood there with our “Thank-You Chancellor Thorp” stickers among hundreds and hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alums and townsfolk, and we felt a lot of excitement, enthusiasm, and energy that came from the crowd that surrounded us.  There were people leaving messages on a roll of butcher paper that ran down the sidewalk, people with signs like the clever one that said “Keep Holden On,” and most impressive of all, the speakers from all sectors of the university and community who made the case why the resignation was wrong for Carolina.  

 I respect Chancellor Thorp’s decision and I accept his rationale.  Moreover, I also understand that leaders have to make the decisions that are best from them and their family.  I now wonder, given the environment that Chancellor Thorp had to operate in over the last couple of years, who we will find to lead UNC in this new normal and under the conditions that seem toxic enough to challenge the very best and most talented leaders.  

 I’m hopeful that we will find the right woman or man to lead us forward, and if we’ve learned nothing else, we know that the leader we get will not be able do it alone.Who will help?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


We were recently on Interstate 40 East, returning to Chapel Hill from the Hendersonville-Ashville area. About the time we started to climb up into the Pisgah National Park, the sky opened up and a torrential rain peppered us.  I had the wipers on the fastest setting and even so, it quickly grew difficult to see.  I noticed that at least a quarter of the cars going west and those passing me had no lights on, creating an even more unsafe situation.   

About the time we reached the bottom of the mountain the rain let up, but my anger didn’t.  Just what is the problem with these drivers who put others at risk?  Is it a case of not knowing that the law requires you to turn your lights on when operating your wipers?  Common sense ought to tell you that!  But what about those who know and for whatever reasons, just don’t do it?  But worse yet, what about those who really don’t know or don’t remember the rules required to get their driver’s license?  Those who just don’t know things like the “lights on” rule might also be unaware of other important things that they should know, and their ignorance can affect not just them, but the rest of us too.   

I’m not sure how we upgrade our civic education and do better to enhance the transmission of critical information in this information age, but clearly, there’s enough antidotal evidence that we have a lot of work to do to ensure people are aware of just basic stuff, not to mention the nice to know stuff. Just drive around Chapel Hill when it’s raining and note the lights that are out! Love to hear some solutions!  

NOTE: After this commentary was recorded, the N&O did a piece on this topic and offered some reasons why the law isn't working. Read it here.