The hypocrisy can pile up only so far before it starts impeding progress.

Take this In-the-Pockets-of-Developers misdirection on Tuesday at the election forum co-sponsored by Neighbors for Responsible Growth: The moderator ominously asked Matt Czajkowski, Jon DeHart and Laney Dale whether they had taken campaign contributions from developers. As if this were the McCarthy hearings and answering yes would be tantamount to treason.

The moderator chose to ignore the fact that candidate Donna Bell has done the same thing – taken a contribution from developer Roger Perry. I can only assume the moderator ignored that because Bell has the Sierra Club endorsement and it would look bad for that organization to endorse candidates who take money from developers. Only the NRG folks want to make it look like candidates who do so do not toe the environmental line in Chapel Hill.

What a crock!

The Chapel Hill Town Council has for 30 years or more been pretty pro-development — about as pro-development as you can get without actually grabbing a shovel and a hard-hat. The council has approved project after project, some with more modifications than others, but if it gets proposed in Chapel Hill, it gets built – unless the developer is Carol Ann Zinn, but that’s another story.

Despite that clear record of supporting development, when election time comes around, some candidates drone along with the Sierra Club mantra of saving the environment as a cynical way to get votes. Just look at the Green Belt if you need proof of that – or the lack of a green belt. After any election, the council members go back to scrambling all over themselves to approve the next development.

This environmental hypocrisy is why we have such god-awful developments as East 54, Chapel Hill North, Chapelridge, Charterwood and the Coming-Soon-to-a-Southern-Village-Backyard-Near-You-Because-Roger-Perry-Says-So Obey Creek.

Perry hands out a few donations to council members every election. To attack one council member for accepting the money while ignoring another council member who accepted similar money is two-faced. Any political organization that touts itself as “preserving quality of life in Chapel Hill” ought to understand that such a hypocritical stance also affects the quality of life for all of us and does nothing to move the community forward together.
–Don Evans

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  1. John Kramer

     /  October 14, 2011

    Excellent job! Very well said. Thanks.

  2. George C

     /  October 14, 2011

    How were the candidates selected for each question at this forum? My recollection is that in previous years, where the question was asked to only 3 candidates at a time, the candidates were selected by a randomization process. Do you know that these three candidates were specifically chosen to respond to that question or could it have been just the ‘luck of the draw’? If the former then I agree it was inappropriate. If the latter, I would suggest that this might be an argument for a process in which all candidates are asked the same question.

  3. Nancy Oates

     /  October 14, 2011

    George , I’ve been to only one forum so far this election cycle, but in that forum, the audience members wrote questions on cards and specified which candidates they wanted to answer them.

    Granted, my life has been quite hectic recently, but I’ve seen no publicity on forums. If it weren’t for candidates emailing me about ones they’ve been invited to, I wouldn’t even have known about the one forum I did attend. That is a real failing of the for-profit media.

  4. George C

     /  October 14, 2011

    I agree that getting info out to the public has become a real problem. For the Chapel hill 2020 process we try a lot of different ways but a lot of folks don’t go to the Town’s website, a lot of folks don’t blog regularly, and a lot of folks don’t listen to the local radio regularly. The for-profit print media used to be a reliable method of getting information out but with that rapidly disappearing it is getting harder & harder. I think at least half of the forums I heard about after they occurred because either I was unaware to begin with or I forgot (most likely) to put on my calendar.

  5. Nancy mentioned in an email to me that she’s not impressed with Facebook and Twitter followers, but that is one way I’ve been getting the word out about events I have in the campaign. I’ve told forum organizers I’m not doing press releases for them, but I know some have tried and still not been able to get any traction from media at all. So I try to let my supporters know what is coming and let the organizers worry about broader public notice. If anyone is interested, you can see all my events (except those I forget to put both places, which I’m working on fixing now) at or

  6. Mark Marcoplos

     /  October 14, 2011

    From an architectural & design standpoint, I’m curious what projects in the greater area that folks think we should emulate? The example of East 54 as an abomination is one I can’t understand. I think it looks good, does a great job of buffering the parking lots, has helped add businesses to the tax base, and has a very nice interior courtyard for concerts and other events. So I’m wondering what completed project in the Triangle area is head & shoulders above East 54?