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Making the most of OP

Now that the election is over (mostly) I'm turning some attention back to some nagging issues here on OP.  This site is never going to be gorgeous or as easy to use as one with a full-time staff dedicated to making it so, but I think there are ways to make some small changes that can have a big impact.

For example, I already added "more" links to some of the featured posts in the left hand sidebar of the front page, so that now you can get a bigger picture of the active conversations on the site, and you can browse all of the top-rated posts of the week (and see which ones are at the bottom, too).  In addition, there are still site stats available to registered users which show you which members and which posts are the most active (for better or worse).

Chapel Hillians on Growth

Most voters in Chapel Hill are happy with the rate at which the community is growing.

57% of respondents on our recent poll said that it is growing at 'about the right pace' while 37% think it is growing too fast and only 3% think it is growing too slow.

Interestingly this does not seem to have been an issue that created a big split among voters in the Mayoral contest.  59% of Czajkowski voters said the current rate of growth is fine, as did 54% of Kleinschmidt supporters.

Conservatives were more likely than liberals or moderates to say the community is growing too fast, a finding at odds with the usual assumptions about who supports higher rates of growth.

Most of those polled would like the community to stay roughly at its current size.  41% of respondents said that 25 years from now they would still like the town's population to be between 50-60,000.  25% said they'd like to see modest growth to the 60-70,000 range and 15% said they'd like to see it contract to the 40-50,000 range.  10% would like to see the population expand to 70,000 or more and 9% would like to see it drop even further back to the 30-40,000 range. 

How Authentic is the Campaign Issue of Controlling Spending?

In every election, there are candidates who focus primarily on the issue of controlling government spending. These candidates often have backgrounds in business and tell us that their expertise is essential to curb the excesses of government.

This raises a few questions:

1) Given that government staff work with the uniqueness of municipal budgets constantly and that this is one of the key areas of governing that they study, do private sector business people generally contribute the knowledge that can make a major difference?

2) Given that government staff deal with budgetary issues every day and generally keep the Council informed on the state of the budget and how policies under consideration will affect the budget, does a business person have a substantial advantage over council members with other backgrounds when it comes to making policy decisions?

Election 2009 Maps: Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board

The maps in this post show the precinct-level results of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board election.

Will VOE = VOA?

During the election season we heard a lot about why Voter Owned Elections (VOE) were needed in Chapel Hill and how it would put power in the hands of the voters instead of some unnamed "big money forces." We now have had the election and the next test is the appointment to fill the Strom seat.

So for those who say the voters should have control, will they now re-frame their arguments to preclude the voters from engaging in a Voter Owned Appointment (VOA)? The facts are simple; there has not only been a debate over when to have the Council make their decision but also who should be appointed.  Some wanted the newly elected Council to make the decision.  Some want the candidate on the ballot who came in fifth to be appointed.

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