DTH Endorses in Chapel Hill... and Carrboro

The DTH has announced its endorsements in the Chapel Hill Town Council Election. They are: Kevin Foy for Mayor, and Laurin Easthom, Mark Kleinschmidt, Will Raymond, and Bill Thorpe for Council.

You can read the endorsements here.

UPDATE: Carrboro endorsements announced.




You know as well as anybody that endorsing a candidate doesn't mean endorsing everything that person stands for. As for as the Farmers Market and merger, if those specific issues stay in the public eye, I imagine we'll be writing about 'em.

(I, personally, support the funding and don't support any sort of merger. The 7-member board might feel differently if we took a formal vote on the matters.)

My thanks to Chris, and the DTH Editorial Board for their vote of confidence.

I too was initially puzzled by being on the same endorsement slate with Katrina, given our near -diametric opposition on many issues (particularly, given the examples Dan has cited above).

But, to give a bit of historical perspective, Our old friend and colleague Hilliard Caldwell and I ran in the same cycle my first (and Hilliard's last) time out, and if memory serves me correctly, we were both endorsed by all of the major news outlets, despite our clear differences on many issues. In this cycle, much of the same could be said of Jackie and me, as well (while our duking tends to take place in this little corner on the left side of the mat).

Ah, the mysterious ways of Editorial Boards.

As a final note: David, you have shown yourself throughout this campaign to be truly a class act. Whatever the outcome, it will have been a pleasure and a privilege campaigning with you. Keep it up!


First of all, I am very proud to have the DTH endorsement. I think they recognize that town government can do a better job. They also have invested more editorial man-hours in coverage of Carrboro than any other media.

On the subject of town merger, I think it's beyond irresponsible not to explore the actual financial realities.

With the eye of a business person, it looks like a pretty good idea.

I would never support merger without a complete study followed by public hearings and a referendum on the ballot during a general election, but people should know how much more they're paying in taxes to support the redundencies of two governments, when the towns have physically merged. If they vote to support two seperate towns, so be it.

At the very least, I believe we should investigate merging fire and police services. It would both facilitate operations and save money.

So, Katrina, are you now disavowing your earlier statement that "There's really no reason not to merge the towns"?

Dan, you have a gift for pulling a single sentence out of a long discussion, don't you ?

Financially speaking, there is no reason not to merge the towns. If residents of both towns are willing to pay a premium to remain seperate gov't entities, then I happily respect their wishes. I think the discussion deserves to be had. It is the responsible thing to do.

And on the topic of the Farmer's Market, while we're at it, I never said we should abolish it. I said it should be revenue neutral to the town.
Mayor Mike used the cost of the Farmer's Market as a justification for annexation.

Well folks,

Congrats to all the Carrboro endorsees. Like David, I feel inclined to respond to the DTH's reasoning. This regards my lack of "fresh ideas." I've said in every interview that I have no new initiatives on my immediate agenda, preferring as a non-incumbent to address action-items the newly elected Aldermen will inherit very soon.

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to get past my initial concerns over Katrina's negativity toward Carrboro and tried to listen to her without a negative bias. She does have good ideas, many of which I think would benefit Carrboro. Then I took a look at her website. It's a visually attractive and well organized site, and she's done a better than average job of addressing substantive issues which I applaud her for. However, she has also chosen to do a little fear mongering on it as well. She and I have communicated privately about my concerns so nothing I write here will come as a surprise to her.

Specifically, I object to a paragraph under her Q&A section on Rogers Road/Annexation in which she says:

"And then there's the matter of the looming OWASA liens. Virtually all of Area B has individual well and septic systems, and each property owner is responsible for his/her own water supply. Upon annexation, the city becomes responsible for making safe water and adequate sewer available. Once again, without getting into a long legal explanation, the Board's plans for increasing commercial development and raising density in the Northern Transition Area virtually guarantee that Area B residents are going to have OWASA digging in their yards. No big deal, you say? Well, if OWASA drops a water line on your property, you pay for it, even if you don't hook up. It's considered an improvement to your property and they place a lien on your house. The annexation report estimates between $29,000 and $40,000 per home. Add that extra mortgage to the increased property taxes, and those policemen and firemen, nurse and teachers are packing up and heading for Durham and Hillsborough."

I will concede that there is nothing technically infeasible in her suppositions, but there is also no established practice in OWASA's 20 year history to support her claims either.

Katrina says: "the Board's plans for increasing commercial development and raising density in the Northern Transition Area virtually guarantee that Area B residents are going to have OWASA digging in their yards."
Response: there is no commercial zoning in the NTA/annexation area so while candidates have discussed the need to increase commercial development in the area it is not currently allowable. When the NTA was established, the county commissioners were not willing to support commercial zoning for that area either and as far as I know, there has been no formal discussion about such a change. So any commercial development beyond that which is allowable under mixed use is not imminent. Plus, OWASA policy is to add service to existing neighborhoods ONLY when a majority of the property owners petition for it.

Katrina says: "if OWASA drops a water line on your property, you pay for it, even if you don't hook up. It's considered an improvement to your property and they place a lien on your house. The annexation report estimates between $29,000 and $40,000 per home."
Response: not to be redundant, but OWASA's practice is to only "drop a water line on your property" if the majority of your neighbors have requested it. Should that occur, under North Carolina law, the assessment will automatically become a lien on each property that benefits from line as of the date and time when the assessment roll is adopted. However, OWASA has rarely (only once or twice I believe) found it necessary to pursue formal collection of an unpaid assessment through the lien. They typically allow property owners 10 years to pay assessments in annual installments (with interest) as allowed by law. I've been assured that OWASA staff make multiple contacts to achieve payments and foreclosure is a last resort. PLUS, there is a difference between the assessment for an improvement and actually connecting to the service. Even if the line is laid and the property owner is assessed, they are not required to connect to the service (additional fee). I don't have the time right now to search through the annexation document to determine if the figures Katrina quotes cover laying the main pipelines OR piplines & connection so I cannot verify/challenge her numbers. Perhaps someone else knows that detail. I will not deny that it would be a significant impact on middle to low income property owners. But I also know that it can be recovered as an improvement when the property is sold.

Actually, Katrina, in this case I pulled many single sentences out of a long discussion. Together they provide compelling evidence of your actual views.

To me, the key phrase of them all is that "Carrboro be the funky neighborhood in Chapel Hill." After all, people in your neighborhood expressed a preference for being annexed into Chapel Hill (Herald, 11/28/05). Your husband (Herald, 1/25/05) threatened a lawsuit to fight the annexation. He also said "We shall transform the city of carrboro if you force us to be part of it." (Herald, 11/17/04)

Apparently, your candidacy is part of that agenda which includes the demise of Carrboro as an independent political entity.

Voters deserve to understand that this is your agenda and, yes, the DTH editors should have taken this radical goal into consideration in their endorsement deliberations.

Terri and I have had a long e-mail conversation about this matter, and I've told her, and will happily say any time I'm asked that the problem is not OWASA.

The stated position of the town attorney is that " if one resident requests a service available to the town, then the town is obliged to supply it". So we're no longer talking about a majority petition.

If one homeowner's septic system fails, and they request water and sewer, will the BOA then request that OWASA drop sewer lines ?

If the BOA requests water lines, would OWASA refuse absent a majority petition?

The annexation puts the water issue in play in a way it wasn't before the town took the area over.

For most of the residents of the area, it's not a question of being able to "recovering" the cost of the water lines. It would be a financial hardship that would force them to move.

Anyone who would like to see the entire thread of my OWASA conversation with Terri can e-mail me. I'll happily forward it.


You are aware that my husband and I are not politically aligned, aren't you ? He is a self proclaimed Libertarian. I'm a a loyal Democrat.

You are also aware, I'm sure, that I didn't sign a petition requesting annexation into Chapel Hill even though my neighbors did.

Are you basing your entire arguement on the "birds of a feather" theory?

If fiscal responsiblity is a "radical agenda", then buy me a beret and call me Che.

Katrina ought to check what's in the public record before she makes rash and misleading statements. It turns out she's not on such a different page from her husband on this matter. The Chapel Hill News reported:

"There is a group of residents who have an attorney reviewing our legal arguments, and when it's appropriate I expect legal action to go forward," said Katrina Ryan, Randolph Ryan's wife. "There are a number of grounds for challenging the aldermen's decision."

Another avenue for dissent lies in politics, she said -- even though the residents of the annexed areas won't be able to run for office or vote in the 2005 Carrboro elections. She said she thinks candidates from some of the other northern town neighborhoods agree with residents of the annexed areas on the issue. "That is definitely on our to-do list," she said of mobilizing political campaigns in coming elections

Like her husband (cited above), Katrina was promoting the idea of a lawsuit. She was also looking for a candidate to express dissent over and possibly in some manner challenge the annexation. It does look like she found one.

As Katrina says we did have a long, productive and respectful, discussion about the water/sewer extension into annexation areas. While I question some of Katrina's interpretations of the annexation law, I also greatly admire her ardent support for the Rogers Road neighborhood. As a community, we need to come together to support those families and make sure they have access to town services.

While I don't support merging the two towns, I think Katrina's idea of merging local police and fire protection is worth considering and I'd add stormwater management to the list for collaboration.

Read the quote more carefully, Dan. I said "There is a group of residents..." and "There are a number of grounds..." I acknowledged their existence without advocating a position.

If you'll note, I did say that political action was on the "to-do" list. And I did it. I've worked very hard this election cycle, and am proud of my campaign. I will forever maintain that the timing of the annexation was morally wrong. There is no justification for taxing people for two full years without allowing them to vote. Every voter I've talked to in Carrboro is shocked and dismayed by this action by the Board of Aldermen.

I believe I have a unique voice which resonates with many Carrboro residents. It's not about challenging the annexation. It's about creating a Carrboro that ALL town residents are happy with. It's about bringing the perspective of those who moved here for the school system, not the poetry festival, to town government. It's about running the goverment as a idealist, not an idealogue.

Ok, Katrina. No matter how many times the facts have been pointed out, you continue to repeat the misinformation about the timing of the annexation. Again, state law---not the Board of Aldermen--requires that a municipality wait a year after voting to annex an area to finalize that annexation. The Board of Aldermen, by making the annexation effective this winter, was merely following state law.

I'm a little surprised that you continue to misinterpret the facts. At this point, after state law has been repeatedly explained in the media and in public meetings, there is no choice but to assume that your misrepresentation of the facts is intentional. It might make for effective campaigning, Katrina, but is it tells us a little bit more about your values than you might intend.


That's just not true. I'm not sure what facts you're talking about. There are a number of ways to annex an area. By announcing the annexation with a resolution of consideration when they first "considered" it ( Feb 2004), rather than as a resolution of intent in September, they set up a schedule that derived the maximum revenue benefit with minimal political fallout.

Anyone who'd like an outline of how a responsible municipality annexes new neighborhoods need only look at Charlotte, who announces its annexation plans at least two years in advance.

BTW, I'd be happy to forward anyone who is interested the legal opinion of the attorney who reviewed the infomation for my website to make sure MY facts are correct.

There are technically correct facts and then there is the practice of the implementing agency/locality, each of which has their own culture and traditions for applying those facts. If you want to tell the whole story fairly and accurately, you need to go beyond just the facts.

Two months ago I had some thoughts about Katrina: http://orangepolitics.org/2005/08/gauging-carrboro-political-races/
Comment at 9:29am 8/31/2005
My thoughts are unchanged.

I still do not believe Katrina is ready for elected office.

I genuinely have a very hard time with Katrina's confrontational style. My experience of Katrina is that she is not a good listener and that she is quick to question the intelligence of those who offer differing points of view. Furthermore, I experience Katrina as doing more than her fair share of fear mongering.

In general, I think Katrina is a great talker, but not a great listener. Katrina's commitment to Carrboro does not come through to me.

At one point, Katrina did identify herself as a respectful ‘Big Tent' Democrat. Unfortunately, I have seen very little of that respectful person in this race. Mostly, I have seen Katrina, the combative insurgent. I have grave concerns about having anyone on the BOA who generates the kind of negativity that Katrina generates.

That said, Katrina is a hard-worker. She's very organized. She pays attention to detail. She follows through. She has boundless energy. She's personable. She's out-going. We'll see...

I'm confused. Are we talking about OWASA or voting rights ?

In matters of law, I am most comfortable with "technically correct" facts.


It's funny that you mention "the mysterious ways of editorial boards" -- that's exactly the sort of comment I'm trying to dispel by posting on OP! Newspapers, to survive in the 21st century, must move toward transparency in an ever-more-transparent world; and though I speak only for myself when I post on OP and on my blog, I can still try to demystify our process.

So, in that vein: Why _would_ an editorial board endorse an Alex Zaffron and a Katrina Ryan at the same time?

The bottom line is that it's impossible for seven people -- six with votes -- to agree with every candidate on every issue. That's particularly true about our editorial board, which represents a wide range of viewpoints and political affiliations -- probably moreso than at most professional newspapers. We've got faithful lefties, faithful righties and people who fall somewhere in between. We've got fiercely independent thinkers who challenge traditional party ideology (much to my exasperation, oftentimes).

At the same time, you have Chapel Hill and Carrboro, two complex and vibrant towns with scores of problems and (potentially) scores of solutions. That means different people with differen areas of expertise will be the most effective in dealing with different problems. Perhaps Candidate A might be the best to solve Problems X, Y, and Z; Candidate B might be best for Problems P, Q, and R; Candidate C might be lousy on P, Q, R, X, Y, and Z but solid on Problem S.

The idea is to reach the best possible consensus on the _slate_ of candidates who can take care of the most issues in the best possible way. There are certain things we trust Alex will get done; there are other, much different things we trust Katrina will get done. And that's a lot more difficult to figure out than it might sound. And it's why I think people ought to think of our endorsements as our best suggestions, not as gospel -- a flippant comment in Monday's editorial aside.

If anything, I'm forced to admit that it makes the Indy's endorsements -- where you know most of the people are coming at things with a strong liberal viewpoint -- a little more valuable. If you tend to agree with them, you take their suggestions rather seriously; if you don't, you can blow it off. With the DTH, and even the Herald and News, you've got to think a little more about where everyone is coming from.

That said, I of course hope students and others find our endorsements helpful.


Since you are most comfortable with technical facts, you might want to check further on your warning that Carrboro will require OWASA to install new water/sewer whether residents want it or not. OWASA serves Carrboro and Chapel Hill but unlike every other utility in the state OWASA has a unique and independent organizational structure per the charter signed with the university and the towns when it was created in the 1970s. Carrboro cannot require OWASA to install new lines. There is a colloborative but indepedent relationship between the towns, the county, and OWASA. Therefore while your lawyer's technical advise may be correct in Durham or Pittsboro, here in southern Orange County practice is a better guide to what will happen. I can't imagine Carrboro would ever try to break the legal charter.

Mike states 'But real estate agents lie (er, I mean, “are selective which facts they talk about). That's what they do."'

I'm not a big fan of real estate agents but, in their defense, unless they are acting as a Buyer's Broker, they, by law, represent the seller. Thus, as in so many things, it is a case of "buyer beware". The potential for future annexation should, as in unconnected stub-outs, be a question that wise consumers should be asking before they sign a contract and not one that the answer is taken for granted.

one of the purposes behind the annexation agreement statutes (of which the Orange County joint planning agreement is simply the most complicated) is not to SPEED annexation, but to slow it down, by ending an arms race between municipalities to see who can annex first. With an annexation agreement, certain areas are designated as available for annexation ONLY to the municipality designated in the agreement. Prior to the emergence of the agreements (first by local act, later by statewide law), towns would rush to gobble up tax base in fear that another closeby town would strike first. Areas were being annexed that towns were really not in good position to provide services to. The agreement does not make it any EASIER to annex the property, all the same standards, timetables, etc, must be met in the regular annexation laws. ( I drafted most of the annexation agreement laws, and reviewed the 1987 Orange County joint planning legislation). So Mike's comment to Katrina that "By my figuring, that's 17 years warning your neighborhood got that you'd be annexed. 17 years! Now, THAT's responsible government." is not correct. They area did not have 17 years of notice that they would be annexed by Carrboro, they had 17 years of notice they would NOT be annexed by Chapel Hill.

As Terri often reminds us, should we be looking at this within the broader scope of local practice.

Given the full scope of the joint planning agreement that also defines the rural buffer, and generally stands for the principle of restricting sprawling growth, I've always read our local agreement as one that says to those living inside the buffer, but outside the municipal lines "you will one day be annexed into this town." I think its a reasonable assumption that would be made by anyone looking at a map of area.

Given that, you're right that it means you will NOT be annexed into Chapel Hill, but its BECAUSE you WILL BE annexed into Carrboro.

Mark, many of the areas inside the buffer will never reach the urban density and development requirements to be eligible for involuntary annexation, so it is not necessarily true that everyone inside the buffer WILL BE annexed. In addition over the last 20 years the General Assembly has twice increased the density and development requirements for annexation, so any assumptions made in 1988 based on the annexation laws at that time may no longer be valid anyway. (I spend about 10% of my work time on annexation issues, including local legislation, reworking the annexation laws, handling local bills to legislatively annex property, etc)

I understand that Gerry, but again, in the context of local practice --- the Towns have been approving developments in their Extraterritorial Jurisdiction with the intention they be annexed into the Town. We apply our town development standards in order to make sure development in the ETJ will be Town-like, not rural buffer-like and will be ready for annexation at the earliest opportunity.

No one has been hiding the ball on this issue. And, I think its because local officials have been quite open about their intentions for annexation over the years that you are hearing them strongly defending their decision to annex.

Clearly many of the soon to be new residents of Carrboro feel they've been caught off-guard by this. My point is that they're directing their hostility in unproductive ways. I don't think the BOA were villians here. There doesn't always have to be a villian. It seems to me that everyone was initially working in good-faith. Then their good-faith was questioned. Defensive postures were assumed. And, a mess was created.

OH, I didn't mean to suggest that the Carrboro BoA had done anything wrong, and I am sure that new developments are designed so as to be eligible for annexation.



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