Roses and Raspberries, June 12

June 11, 2013 

Roses to former Chapel Hill Town Council member Joe Capowski for his advocacy of Chapel Hill’s planned ban on cell-phone use while driving.

Capowski marshaled convincing evidence and had strong support from then Councilwoman Penny Rich and others to pass the controversial ban on both handheld and hands-free communication behind the wheel.

The council passed the ban on the advice of Town Attorney Ralph Karpinos, who said his research showed it would be the most comprehensive ban in the country but also advised that it would be up the courts to decide if the town could actually do it.

Last week, after a local judge said no, the state Court of Appeals said yes.

A three-judge panel overruled the judge, who had upheld a challenge by George’s Towing. The towing company had sued the town, saying the ban and new towing rules overstepped the council’s authority.

Let’s remember the cell phone rule will be a secondary charge; you’ll only be cited if you’re found using the phone while committing another violation. The emphasis is on education. The goal is to change behavior.

The attorney for George’s Towing says the company will appeal the appellate court’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.

In the meantime, we would discourage the Town Council from revisiting the ban on hands-free communication, as Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt wants to do.

The ban already exempts emergency calls. Capowski has made clear that studies show any phone calls while operating a moving vehicle reduce your full attention from objects on the road. In fact, as the call diverts brain function from conscious driving you may not even “see” another vehicle, person or pet in your path.

In this case, those who argue otherwise really don’t know what they’re missing.

Roses from former Chapel Hill Town Councilwoman Julie McClintock to Wendy Smith, Trish D’Arconte and Michele Drostin for pulling together an amazing "Stream Team" event Saturday, May 11 on Bolin Creek.

“This intrepid trio of teachers from Chapel Hill and UNC brought together local volunteers to teach how to monitor the heath of the streams in our backyards,” McClintock writes. “It’s the start of a pilot program to do seasonal habitat assessments on our changing living streams.”

Roses to farmer Bob Strayhorn for opening his pasture to thousands of children and their families over the years for the county’s annual youth fishing rodeo.

The weather was picture perfect for this year’s event June 1. Anglers fanned out across the banks of Strayhorn’s pond, located just past New Hope Elementary School between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough.

Strayhorn, astride his John Deere, road up and down the flanks and stopped to watch as the crowd reeled bream, catfish and a few bass from the water.

Of course, Strayhorn took no credit for the day.

He built the pond for his Angus herd after years of drought forced him to bring in water, he explained. The herd was up in the shade June 1 as visitors took to the field.

“We’re here today at the courtesy of the cows,” he said.

And, the cow farmer, no matter what he says.

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