A warning for all
The reaction of our political leaders to the announcement of a 148,000 square-foot Chatham Walmart evokes the memory of Casablanca and Capt. Renault’s famous "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here." The glacier process of approvals betrays this false pretense. Further along this tragicomedy, allow me to posit more curious and curiouser questions of our government:
• How does the Chapel Hill Town Council (with the exception of Matt Czajkowski) led by its mayor allow all at-risk shelters to be swept into the highest Asian concentrated census tract in all of North Carolina?
• How can our political leaders suffer defeat on their sales-tax proposal and then subsequently and cleverly maneuver election dates to effectively ensure lower turnout in the more rural and most opposed areas?
• How do our political leaders allow a slow-simmer protest movement to boil into a gun-pointing national-headline-grabbing embarrassment?
Chapel Hill residents can race east, west and now south to help fund out-of-county schools while living in what is perhaps the only college town in America that profits not one dollar on “freshman move-in day.” Mark Zimmerman’s recent My View column (CHN March 4, http://bit.ly/GQgcN0) that “new and increased costs are unavoidable” should sound a warning for all. Must we again be the defenseless victims of leadership inadequacy? Not unlike towns, counties and yes even large cities, across the nation, our leaders should escape the “learned helplessness” more common in toddlers and puppies and actually lead. More vigorous studying and pro forma modeling of the privatization of non-essential services would be a far more productive venture to repair our balance sheet and secure the confidence of our citizens than the hand wringing practiced so well and so often.
A tenured disenfranchised electorate, a bloated bureaucracy, an unheard and abused minority group, a certain punitive property tax increase, a visionless and helpless leadership ... town and county leaders, “your winnings.” D.Thomas Cronin Chapel Hill More diversity needed
Many thanks to Katelyn Ferral for reporting on the March 21 “Southern Area Discussion Group” meeting. The purpose of my letter is to provide context and clarification to comments attributed to me in the article.
While there was a brief discussion of the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), most of the time was spent discussing growth in southern Chapel Hill during the past 30 years and reviewing conclusions drawn from Chapel Hill 2020’s Future Focus map exercises.
As part of a discussion, CH2020 co-chair George Cianciolo explained that the makeup of the discussion group is based on previous task groups and includes representation from the advisory boards and the business community as well as three area residents. Fortunately for the southern area, one of the advisory board members is a southern area resident so there are four southern area residents on the panel – three from Southern Village and one from the ETJ.
As area residents pointed out, there are many neighborhoods in southern Chapel Hill – some are within town limits (South Bridge and Hundred Oaks were mentioned) and others lie in the ETJ (Dogwood Acres was mentioned).
Ms. Ferral accurately captured the spirit of the conversation when she wrote “The pocket neighborhoods that surround Southern Village will feel the impact of development, traffic and population growth in a different way than Southern Village residents.” As one might imagine, experiences and concerns differ depending on whether the neighborhood is on the east or west side of 15-501, is adjacent to large undeveloped tracts of land or lies along the rural feeder and connector roads that serve this area.
It is important that all of these points of view are represented fairly in the discussion group.Jeanne Brown Chapel Hill Another perspective
I ride John O'Sullivan's bus. The details in your story (CHN, March 18, http://bit.ly/GKSG2s) aren't the whole story.
I am in sixth grade at Smith Middle School, and I have been riding the bus since the beginning of the school year. I am lucky to call my bus driver a friend. When someone tells him that someone's running late for the bus, he will stop and wait for them. He always smiles and tells us to have a nice day. He wakes up every day at 3:30 a.m. to go to work and doesn't get back till 7 at night. Yet he is the kindest, most considerate bus driver that I've ever had. When anyone stands up on the bus, or talks too loud, he will reprimand them, or write them up. But everyone still respects him, and likes him a lot.
My bus driver is very careful about rules and disciplinary measures. He was no different with John, and John kept pushing him and pushing him. John was being very disrespectful, and also raising his voice, two major details not included in the story. I myself do not understand autistic behaviors to the full extent, though I have an autistic peer in my own grade. I do however wish that you would acknowledge that this story cannot be reliably told with only the “victim” and his mother's opinion, because I can stand for the fact that John has exaggerated and mistold the story. For one, it was a girl in the front seat. He also wasn't suspended simply for standing up on the bus. He was suspended for continuously arguing with the bus driver, and failing to cooperate. The bus-driver was given good reason to be upset. Frances I. O'Grady, age 12
Chapel HillUnwelcome behavior
I support the Occupy Movement locally, because I have spent my life fighting against arbitrary authority, and for social and economic justice.
I do not, however, find favor with Carrboro Commune (CHN, March 25, http://bit.ly/H71f8Y). They focus on issues which have little relevance to ordinary Carrborites and do so in a way that brings Occupy into disrepute.
Commune members rail against the arbitrary authority of corporate America. Yet, they employ a similar arbitrary authority to impose unwelcome behavior on a community from which they have received no permission.
They complain about the police response to their alleged civil disobedience, quite forgetting the incivility of their screaming match with the mayor only a few weeks before, after they had equally uncivilly broken into an empty office building.
I was present at the Carrboro Commune protest. I saw no harassment. What I saw was a police department properly and carefully exercising thoughtful concern with regards to a group which has a history of breaking the law in an uncivil fashion.
This in contrast to the response of the Chapel Hill Police last November to the break-in at the Yates building. And I would point out that I remain pretty much the last man standing and still actively calling for an independent investigation of that police reaction.
I have the greatest of respect for our Board of Aldermen. But they are sworn to uphold the law, so long as it remains the law.
Provided our police force operates within the policy guidelines monitored by the board, then aldermen have no business publicly criticizing police officers whose professionalism does not allow them to respond.
And my greatest problem with Carrboro Commune and its supporters is that they are shifting focus away from the issues which are central to the fight for social and economic justice in our community. The concerns that are of real concern to ordinary folk, struggling to make ends meet. And we are letting them do so, way too passively.Geoff Gilson Carrboro
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