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Donahue to screen war doc at UNC Oct. 21

Tags: OrangeChat

UNC's Scholar Program will host talk show host and now producer Phil Donahue next week.  

Donahue will be on campus for a screening of "Body of War," which he directed and produced with Ellen Spiro. The screening will take place on Tuesday, October 21, in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium located in the FedEx Global Education Center at 5:30 p.m. Following the screening, Donahue will take questions from the audience.

The website for the movie states that "Body of War is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. Meet Tomas Young, 25 years old, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine - wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week."

For more information on the movie, go to

Raymond running for Chapel Hill Town Council

Tags: OrangeChat

Will Raymond, local activist and two-time candidate for Chapel Hil Town Council, announced today he is applying for the late council member Bill Thorpe's seat.

Raymond has served on the town's Horace-Williams Citizens Committee, the Downtown Parking Task Force and the Technology Advisory Board. He also maintains the 'blog CitizenWill ( centered on local issues.

Two issues will dominate the council's attention over the next seven months, Raymond says: dramatically improving the town's financial health and establishing an equitable framework for managing the next two decades of UNC's Carolina North development.

“We have a wonderful community that is facing tough financial times,” Raymond says. “Living in the present, my focus will be on reducing expenditures and avoiding sharp tax increases in 2009. Looking to the future, I will work to make new financial policy that sets our Town on a long term path of fiscal responsibility.

“While I know UNC's broadening development could unintentionally harm those qualities Chapel Hill's residents hold dear, “good faith” should guide our discussions over the next seven months as we focus on creating an equitable framework for managing Carolina North's development. The past's soap opera, making political hay of Town-and-Gown frictions, has got to be replaced by direct and honest discussion.”

The council has not decided on a process for filling Thorp’s seat. Mayor Kevin Foy has said he thinks the council will want to appoint a black person. Thorpe was the nine-member council’s only black representative.

Carrboro concerned about cats

I'm pretty sure the Carrboro aldermen passed that ordinance prohibiting dog owners from letting their pets defecate on private property (except the dog owner's private property). We attended another local government meeting that same night, so if someone knows, please fill us in.

But the discussion is not over yet. Alderman Randee Haven O'Donnell e-mailed the town manager asking for more information on the town's response to these situations, which appear to concern cats.

a) Habitually or repeatedly defecates or urinates in children’s sandboxes, gardens, flower beds or other private property without the permission of the property owner;
b) Habitually or repeatedly injures or kills animals or birds, whether domesticated or not.

The latter's something most outdoor cat owners don't think about, but it's a big problem. I remember watching a PBS special a few years back that said in some parts of England, house cats are the biggest threat to native songbirds.     

I'll try to give Randee a call next week to ask what's up. 


Should Chapel Hill, Orange County offer economic incentives?

Tags: OrangeChat

If you thought the debate  over publicly funded elections got testy, you may want to watch the coming discussion over the next use of public money into a previously private sphere: economic development.

The town of Chapel Hill is beginning to consider the use of incentives to encourage small and local businesses to locate and grow here. The issue came up very briefly at the chamber's development briefing a couple of weeks ago.

A map on the screen at the Friday Center showed an enormous amont of approved retail and office (and residential) space. Former mayor Rosemary Waldorf, a now a developer with connections to Southern Village, Chapel Hil 40 (the old VilCom campus) and Buckhorn Village got up to ask, How are we going to fill it?

We'll have more on this in Sunday's Chapel Hill News. Not all incentives involve handing cash to private enterprise.

In the meantime here is a link to the town's new economic development strategy.  Incentives pop up under items 3 and 5.

Bad men with chainsaws on the loose

Police are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of two men who stole five STIHL chainsaws from the new ACE Hardware Store next to Trader Joe's in Eastgate Shopping Center. The theft occured around 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday. The suspects fled in a late-model Chrysler Town & Country with the right front hubcap missing.

Anyone with information should contact the Chapel Hill Police Department at 968-2760 or Crime Stoppers at 942-7515. Calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential and anonymous.


A new higher education blog

To our readers: I'd like to draw your attention to the newest News & Observer blog, which debuted this week. It is called Campus Notes and is devoted entirely to higher education. You can find it here.

We will still use Orange Chat to blog information related to UNC, particularly those town/gown issues - like the ongoing airport conversation - that are particularly important to folks in Orange County. The new blog will look more broadly at higher education issues at UNC and all over the place.

Please give each a moment of your attention. Thanks very much. 


Holding batterers accountable

Tags: OrangeChat

Social worker Caroline Pence, vice-president of the Board of Directors at the Family Violence Prevention Center of Orange County, e-mailed in response to Monday's article on Brandon Greene, one of the suspects in the Josh Bailey murder case. Greene avoided an attempted first-degree murder charge last year after police responded to his girlfriend's apartment where she was having difficulty breathing. Police say he tried to strangle her, but the prosecutor dropped the charges because the woman would not testify against him.

"Most batterers do not perpetrate violent crimes against individuals other than their spouse or intimate partner," Pence wrote. "However, reporting previous domestic violence charges in a case of this significance draws attention to the prevalence of domestic violence and the potential costs to the community when batterers are not held accountable by the criminal justice system."

Greene, of course, was and remains innocent until proven guilty, but if he had been convicted, he may have been in prison at the time of Bailey's murder.

Raises for some UNC workers


UNC's lowest-paid workers are getting a pay raise. It takes effect Nov. 21.

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp announced the raises this week in a letter to the 290 employees affected by the change. 

2 groups now fighting airport

Tags: OrangeChat

Sitting here at the Orange County commissioners meeting. Tight Triangle section in the N&O tomorrow, so we've posted a short story online with a "refer" line in the paper sending readers to the website.

Preserve Rural Orange, concerned about Site H in White Cross, told the commissioners they have 1,800 signatures on their petition. (That's up from 1,100 when I spoke to them Friday.) A second citizens group, Orange County Voice, is mobilizing rural residents countywide against an airport.

And former Carrboro alderman Jay Bryan, now county planning board chairman, said his group is concerned about an airport's environmental impact. It wants an official role in advising the county on the matter.

Commissioners Chairman Barry Jacobs told the speakers -- there were only a handful; the groups say the commissioners are already sensitive to their concerns -- that the county is still trying to learn more about the airport authority. 

We have an interview in tomorrow's Chapel Hill News with state Rep. Bill Faison. He amended the airport authority bill to limit the scope of the next sites search to Orange County and has some strong remarks about why. But he also doesn't want to see or think that a future airport needs to go in White Cross.

What questions do you have about the airport story? Tell us here and we'll try to get answers.

Nice Glasses, Chancellor Thorp

Okay. This, I cannot resist. Click here and scroll down to get a look at what UNC's current chancellor looked like way back when.

I'd feel bad about doing this except that the photo is on Thorp's own blog.

Wondering what the deal is with the Rubik's Cube? Click here. The info box to the right of the story has all the information you need.