New team

Recently I spent a day in a room full of one-percenters who were serving on an advisory board for an organization that does good works globally. I was not on the board, but I wished I could make a training video of the discussion process.

Board members all had degrees from top universities and were quite accomplished in their fields. As the presentation by the organization’s leadership moved forward, board members interrupted with questions that showed they saw things that certainly my well-intentioned but average mind didn’t. They worked as a team. If a presenter danced around an issue without answering a question, another board member would jump in and say, “I agree with [So-and-So],” and ask the question again, and continue until the presenter had given the information or understood that the information was needed to make a good decision.

Nobody bullied or jockeyed for power. They were adamant about getting the information to give advice that would help the organization thrive.

Chapel Hillians are lucky to have such a mind on Town Council in Matt Czajkowski, who will be sworn in tonight to serve a second term. Though I doubt he is a one-percenter, Czajkowski does have degrees from a top university, is accomplished in his field and approaches council meetings understanding council’s role as an advisory board charged with making good decisions so that the town continues to thrive.

Mark Kleinschmidt also will be sworn in for a second term as mayor. He’s off to a good start. Since the election, he has shown excellent leadership, and he’s dressing the part, too.

Donna Bell, after winning her first election, will be sworn in as a council member. She seems to have some interesting insights, when you can find them underneath all the layers of social-worker-speak. Often after she says her piece on an issue, I don’t know where she stands until the council votes. I’m hoping that now that the election is over, she’ll have the confidence to express her opinions on topics without needing to validate the feelings of everyone else on the dais.

Jim Ward returns, too, for his fourth term. Now that he has prevailed in the election once again, I hope he will resume treating council members who disagree with him with respect. He had been getting kind of churlish earlier in the fall.

Lee Storrow joins the club tonight. What he will bring to Sally Greene’s former seat remains to be seen. With his youth, he should have energy and a perspective that may shake up the “we’ve always done it this way” crowd. I’m hoping he has the maturity to pay attention, even during those dry PowerPoint presentations, and will keep his smartphone in his pocket, waiting to tweet after the meeting has adjourned.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. Terri Buckner

     /  December 5, 2011

    My hope for the new council is that they always remember they were elected to serve the entire community, not just those who share their personal ideologies. I also hope they will remember that staff and elected officials have different responsibilities. Staff have more of a technical charge–to do things by the book. Elected officials need to consider social and political impacts against the technical. It’s a tough and delicate balancing act. We are fortunate to have well educated, dedicated citizens willing to take on the challenge.

  2. Jon DeHart

     /  December 5, 2011

    Storrow says he’ll concentrate heavily on issues such as food trucks and cell phone use in Chapel Hill.–Storrow-Ready-To-Take-CH-Council-Seat/11642399

  3. George C

     /  December 5, 2011

    I’m not sure why you chose to use that one particular sentence from Lee’s interview, especially given that the next sentence was “He says the town’s budget is one of the most crucial issues in tough economic times.”
    Some might mistake your choice as being indicative of a case of “sour grapes” although I suspect you were just trying for a little good-natured fun at Lee’s unfortunate choice of words.

  4. Terri Buckner

     /  December 5, 2011

    I’d like to see citizens take a vow alongside the newly elected town officials. Let’s all agree, not to rubber stamp all decisions, but to keep in mind that these elected officials are doing their best. They may overlook issues that you think are important, but that doesn’t mean they are stupid, lazy, or biased. We can present our counter-views civilly, without attacking the individual people. We can disagree and criticize without being offensive (to each other as well as to the elected).

  5. Jon DeHart

     /  December 5, 2011

    I was having fun . I got to know Lee fairly well during the forums, he is a good guy who will work hard . I expect great things from him . If he works half as hard as a council member as he campaigned we will all be well served .

    In all seriousness, we have already spent way too much time talking about a law that can not be enforced . I agree that people should hang and up drive . I think most people do .

    Penny should spend her time lobbying our legislators as opposed to making a law that can not be enforced . I would like to see a chart or time spent discussing leaf blowers , food trucks, and cell phone usage vs. budget and needed services or economic develpoment ….

    I can not promise not to offend . Some people are more sensitive than others . I will keep talking about how I think elected officials should serve . They are there to help all the citizens , not just the ones who agree with their political ideology .

  6. Terri Buckner

     /  December 5, 2011

    Jon–I would never ask for a promise not to offend. I offend on a regular basis. My point was that we should focus on issues, not personalities.

  7. Mark Marcoplos

     /  December 5, 2011

    I just hope we all get along. And endorse Mat Cz’s ideas. Although we’re all all waiting for his panacea-inducing thoughts on the Yates police action – I mean where is his wisdom when we need it? However, we all know that ducking down during tough issues is politically expedient – come on now , share the wisdom.

  8. Terri Buckner

     /  December 5, 2011

    Behave Mark or I’m going to send Freddie over to wash your face.

  9. Linda Convissor

     /  December 5, 2011

    I had the pleasure of attending Council tonight. I had my usual seat in the back on media row but the crowd was not usual at all. Not counting staff and parents of the candidates being sworn in, the crowd appeared to be mostly under-30. After hearing Mitch Silver’s talk on our changing demographics two weeks ago, it was great to see the Gen Y’ers (hope I have that right) showing up in Council chambers. Pairing that with Carl Fox and then Mark Chilton/Gerry Cohen presiding for the oaths of office made for a heartwarming evening.

    There were many good one-liners tonight, but my favorite was from Judge Fox who said, after Donna’s daughter, Olivia, stole the show , “I used to have hair like that”. Good to have some humor in Council Chambers.

  10. Nancy Oates

     /  December 5, 2011

    Linda — Were the Gen Y-ers sitting in the back row texting and tweeting? Or were they paying attention in real-time?

  11. Linda Convissor

     /  December 5, 2011

    Good question. The only tweets I saw were from Paul Jones, Will Raymond, Ruby, me and one from Jeff de Luca. Several had their phones out to take pictures, but from what I could see, they were focused on the front of the room.

  12. Jon DeHart

     /  December 6, 2011

    The issues are exactly my point .

    I want our leaders to be discussing budget issues and ways to improve basic services . I think making laws that the police can not enforce is an issue . Especially one, where when someone receives a ticket for this infraction, there is a good chance that one would sue the town .

    All 9 candidates talked about economic development in one way shape of form during the forums , let’s see some action and leadership.

  13. Road Warrior

     /  December 8, 2011

    I propose an Occupy Food Truck movement. Preferably within walking distance of my house. Perhaps instead of staying in place, they could go neighborhood to neighborhood like the ice cream man. As for Lee Storrow. I remember being young – Food Trucks are a very important issue.

    As for this cell phone nonsense, in tight times we don’t have the luxury of wasting money on studies to ban something. I’d rather that go to Social Services or expanded bus routes.