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Carrboro supports religious and political bus ads

By correspondent Sarah Mansur

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday to affirm a bus policy that supports the use of bus advertisements as a public forum, including religious and political ads.

This discussion was prompted by an ad by the Church of Reconciliation on Chapel Hill Transit buses calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel. Alderman Dan Coleman, a member of the Transit Partners Committee, presented the resolution. Alderman Sammy Slade proposed an amendment to the resolution that would differentiate between commercial and non-commercial advertising, but the board voted against his amendment

The board agreed on the importance of a public forum, even if controversial issues are involved.

"The enemy is those who believe in justice, but don't stand up for what they believe in," said Mayor Mark Chilton, citing a speech from Martin Luther King, Jr. "There is a lot of value to being confronted with things we don't agree with."

Board of Aldermen interviews: Dan Coleman

Dan Coleman

1. What do you see as the town’s major issues over the next 10 years? What are your ideas for dealing with those issues?

The key immediate issue for the board is hiring a town manager. A skilled town manager is essential to the smooth delivery of town services as well as staffing, planning, and budgeting. In addition, Carrboro needs a well-qualified manager who understands our commitments to sustainability, economic localism, and to community. I am committed to careful review of applications and to working closely with the new manager as he or she comes up to speed. Ideally, we will hire someone who will grow to love Carrboro and stick around for the next 10 years and more.

The on-going financial crisis will be a big challenge. Although we have held the line on tax increases for the past three years, state and federal cutbacks will continue to squeeze municipalities. The current “soft” hiring freeze for open staff positions increases the work load on town employees which is a concern in terms of job satisfaction and retention. Upcoming budgets will be challenging for the board, for the new town manager, and for the community. My goal is to protect town jobs and programs to the extent possible while I hear from citizens on the advisability of program cuts should a tax increase seem otherwise unavoidable.

The town must continue its emphasis on economic development, providing the support mechanisms (like the Revolving Loan Fund) to help local businesses through tough times and to help entrepreneurs establish new businesses in Carrboro. I will continue to work closely with the town’s Economic Sustainability Commission to improve the town’s capabilities in this regard. The emphasis on commercial development must be continued. I have pushed for increased commercial space while on the board and will continue to do so.

Wells Fargo to wrap first Chapel Hill Transit buses

The first bus advertisements on Chapel Hill Transit could be seen in Chapel Hill and Carrboro this week.

A few months ago, Wells Fargo ordered two full bus wraps and about 12 smaller signs for one month of advertisement. The ads cost $1,500 a month for each of the full-wraps and between $160 to $220 for each of the other signs on the sides and rear, according to Chapel Hill Transit.

While the new revenue may help prevent further cuts to the free service, some local leaders see the Wells Fargo ads as contrary to their goal of encouraging people to shop locally.

“It’s unfortunate that the first advertisement is going to be a big, corporate giant that’s not local,” said Carrboro Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle.

“It is disappointing to the extent that we were really hoping that this advertising program would primarily support local businesses in Chapel Hill and Carrboro and certainly this doesn’t mean it’s not going to do that, but...out of the gate (this is) a step in the direction that we don’t want to emphasize,” said Alderman Dan Coleman.

Look for more on this story and a photo of the Wells Fargo ad coming Sunday in The Chapel Hill News.

Carrboro candidates discuss growth, environment

From correspondent Tammy Grubb
Carrboro can balance its need for more commercial development with its desire to protect the environment, Board of Aldermen and mayoral candidates said in a forum sponsored by the Sierra Club and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s deeply engrained in Carrboro’s culture,” incumbent Alderman Dan Coleman said.
Northern Carrboro is ideal for commercial growth, the candidates said at the Friday night forum. Mayor Mark Chilton said the town regularly encourages developers to include a commercial component of 20 percent to 30 percent in any new project.
Incumbent Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle and Chilton said the town also must continue to help existing small businesses thrive and expand. Community and Economic Development director
Annette Stone will continue to be important in that effort, they said.
Newcomer Michelle Johnson said the focus also should be on creating places to work and live in the downtown core, while building the town’s reputation as a place for tourists to enjoy arts and music.
The candidates agreed the town’s Energy Wise revolving loan program for green improvements, local business and government leaders’ dedication to making eco-friendly changes, and passage of the county’s quarter-cent sales tax will advance the town’s goals. In addition, regional cooperation and lobbying for state and federal funding will secure light rail and improved bus service, they said.
In a response to questions about parking, the candidates said Carrboro’s fee-free lots are an
important part of economic growth, although any UNC move to charge for park-and-ride lots could force the town to consider changes. Board challenger Braxton Foushee also wondered how much revenue the town is missing out on by keeping parking free.

Carrboro Alderwoman Joal Hall Broun will not seek re-election

Carrboro Alderwoman Joal Hall Broun will not seek re-election. She released this statement this morning: 

"Thank you to all of my supporters, the voters and the people of Carrboro.  I enjoyed serving the citizens of Carrboro for the past twelve years.  I will continue to be engaged and involved in my community in Carrboro and Orange County.  However, I will not be seeking re-election to the Board of Aldermen at this time."

Three seats on the board, plus the mayor, are up this fall. Mayor Mark Chilton, Alderman Dan Coleman and Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle filed Friday, along with newcomer Michelle Johnson. The filing period ends July 15.

Coleman seeks water dialogue

Carrboro Alderman Dan Coleman wants to make sure there is an adequate local water supply for growth until OWASA's Quarry Reservoir comes online in 2035. 

The Board of Aldermen and Chapel Hill Town Council want Jordan Lake used for future emergencies only. OWASA, which wants its Jordan Lake allocation available for future droughts that may not rise to the level of an emergency, wants to amend a local agreement to allow easier water transfers.

In an e-mail to his fellow board members, Coleman says:

1) I believe that we should engage with OWASA and Chapel Hill to look at growth between now and the availability of the quarry 20 years hence. I suggest that we ask planning staff to meet with CH planning and OWASA planning to look at the OWASA water supply projection so as to comment on whether any particular planning for growth in the interim might be warranted to ensure that adequate water supplies continue to be available.
2) given that we have asserted that we support access to J Lake only as an emergency measure and given that OWASA is concerned that we might lose the allocation on that basis, I suggest we engage actively in support of that point. What I have in mind is that we and CH each designate a point person on this issue. Those people would become fully informed on the allocation process and stay in touch with OWASA as matters progress. It may be that, at some point, it would be helpful to have contact from elected leaders to the members of the Environmental Management Commission (decision-makers on the allocation) and I would like us to be prepared for that eventuality. Clearly, it would be more effective for the mayors to play any lobbying role but they do not necessarily need to be the point people prior to that time.


Carrboro alderman wants stronger condemnation of Arizona shootings

The Pittsboro Town Board has condemned Saturday's assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the Arizona shootings that killed six people. An alderman in Carrboro, which may consider a similar resolution, says Pittsboro's resolution does not go far enough.

The resolution from the Chatham County seat supports the safety of public officials in open forums that are safe for civil debate.

"Now therefore be it resolved," the Monday resolution states, "the town of Pittsboro offers support for Congresswoman Giffords and its deepest sympathy for the victims of this attack. And further resolves to condemn the violence that was expressed in this attack ... as such actions have no place in a civil society."

In Carrboro, Mayor Mark Chilton asked his board members by e-mail if they would like to consider a similar statement at a future meeting.  

"Absolutely," Alderman Randee Haven-O'Donnell wrote back, "civil discourse is to be respected and upheld, all violence condemned."

Alderman Dan Coleman suggested Carrboro consider a more strongly worded resolution.  
"I would not vote against this, but I do not particularly support it. It strikes me as a fairly bland response," he wrote. "If we are to have a resolution, I prefer one that does not just single out he who pulled the trigger but also those who put the gun in his hand and aimed it."

The weekend shootings have got people asking whether political rhetoric has contributed to a breakdown in civil discourse. Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin posted a video on her Facebook page today, accusing journalists and political analysts of inciting hatred in the wake of the  Arizona shootings.  Last spring, Palin targeted Giffords' district as one of 20 that the GOP should take back, each marked with the cross hairs of a gun sight, according to the Associated Press.


Grilling John Tedesco and Dan Coleman at the RWCA meeting

It would be an understatement to say that Wake County school board member John Tedesco and Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association President Dan Coleman faced a largely hostile crowd Thursday night.

As noted in today's article, both men faced sharp questions and were repeatedly interrupted by the crowd of around 100 people at the RWCA meeting. Coleman faced calls for a no confidence vote while Tedesco was accused of not being able to prove that the new community-based assignment plan would improve academics.

"You don't know me but I know you," said Montica Talmadge, an RWCA member, to Tedesco. "The program that you want to implement is crap."

Obama, doing his part, and this and that

Perhaps these are more musings than letters. Here are four offerings from readers: one on President Obama, one on a recent Paul Krugman column on the economy, one on the state of things in America and one a reminiscence on the N.C. State University bell tower.

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