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Future of the Town Council Without Broad Representation

By Michelle Cotton Laws, President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP
(Also submitted to Mayor Kevin Foy.)

On behalf of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, I am writing to express our concerns over what appears to be some post-election jockeying about who the Council should appoint to the vacant seat left by Bill Strom. Buttressing our concerns is the outcome of the recent elections which have resulted in what will be a racially homogeneous Council that does not reflect the broader Chapel Hill community. While some Council members (and their constituents) may feel comfortable with this outcome and argue that “the people” spoke through the casting of their votes, there are others—including the NAACP—who believe that the results of the election have left us in a similar place where the “Founding” American colonists were when they protested against the British Crown through the historical Boston Tea party -- “taxation without representation” for many Chapel Hill residents in particularly a relatively large and deeply rooted African American community.

NC Can Do Better Than First in Flight

My work as a Daytonian in NC is never finished: 

http://www.chapelhillnews.com/opinion/story/53508.html

 

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?

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