Three cheers for transparency

Carrboro's new Official Correspondence e-mail archive shows how easy it is to make the public's business actually available to the public. If you do it as Mayor Chilton did - with a Google Group - it's even free. Chapel Hill News editor Mark Schultz says the new system serves the community better than paper archives used by other governments, and it makes reporters' job easier which leads to better coverage in the papers.  It's also very easy for officials to use as they just forward or CC e-mails to get them into the archive.

What's keeping Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and Orange County from following suit?  Sometimes I wonder if they wouldn't prefer that we just let them govern in peace instead of sticking our noses into the public business all the time.

UNC Board rejects Innovation Center design

Kudos to the UNC-CH Board of Trustees for rejecting a recent architectural plan for the inaugural building at Carolina North. It seems they felt the proposed design of the Innovation Center was not innovative enough to mark the entrance to the modern new campus which they plan to build in the northern heart of Chapel Hill. I was glad to see that the BOT has such high expectations for the building, but was a bit concerned about administrators' refusal to consider locating the building anywhere other than the grand entrance.

I still don't understand the logic behind UNC doing construction before completing the plan for the larger campus into which this building must fit. I really don't feel I can support any thing on that site until we see that it will be part of a commitment to use Carolina North to enhance Chapel Hill and not just UNC's bottom line.

Is It Time that We Got Serious About This Problem?

The news regarding the two armed robberies yesterday, one in the alley between the Rosemary & Columbia Street lot and Franklin Street, and the other at the ATM at the Wachovia at University Mall, got me to asking myself: Am I comfortable when my wife goes out to run errands on her own? And, for the first time that I can remember, the answer is a solid no.

OP Happy Hour (no longer tentative)

Sorry for the short notice, but I don't want to postpone again. It's going to be way too hot to be outside, so my original plan to go to WSM or OSCSC are out of the question. How about F*use or Skylight Exchange (no booze)?

I thought about hosting at it my house so you can all try to get here from Carrboro with that big, ugly fence in the way, but I thought better of it...


Wednesday, July 23, 2008 - 1:30pm


506 Oak Avenue, Carrboro

Abbey Court residents speak out against harrassment

[Abbey Court] I just learned that there was a rally this morning at Carrboro Town Hall where residents of Abbey Court called for the town to do more to protect them from the increasingly-discriminatory policies of their collective landlord. In short: the owners have begun towing residents' cars if they don't meet a certain aesthetic standard. It really is that ridiculous. And probably quite racist, in my opinion.

Thanks to the Town of Carrboro's new Official Correspondence archive (kudos for openness!) I can offer some background about the situation.

From: Carolyn A. Hutchison [Carrboro Police Chief]
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2008 3:50 PM
To: Steven Stewart [Carrboro Town Manager]
Subject: FW: Towing today
Importance: High


Management at Abbey Court apartments is actively towing vehicles from
their lots today.  We do not have any authority on their property;
however, we are dealing with this situation to the extent that we are
able.  Officers are concerned that Management is towing vehicles that
belong to their own residents.  Many of the residents are trying to make
ends meet and need the vehicles to get to and from work, etc.
Apparently, Management is towing cars that do not "look good."  In other
words, if your vehicle has dents, needs paint, or has a cracked
windshield, Management will not issue a permit to park and Management
will tow the vehicle.  As you might imagine, Abbey Court residents may
not have the means to drive a pristine vehicle, but many are paying
their rent, and now are unable to get a permit to park in their own home
parking lot.  Then, their vehicles are towed from the lot; they're
responsible for the towing fees; and they have no car to get to work,



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