Chapel Hill’s Arab Spring?

More than five years ago, a few weeks after the Tunisian Revolution that launched the Arab Spring, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad told The Wall Street Journal: “When there is divergence between your policy and the people’s beliefs and interests, you will have this vacuum that creates disturbance.” I hope we won’t someday look back on […]

Powering through

Have we learned nothing? Last week a female student at UNC held a news conference to claim that a classmate, a member of the football team, raped her. She was pursuing misdemeanor charges against him because the campus police had refused to file charges, and the district attorney’s office declined as well (though after the […]

How much is that rent, really?

Trying to find an apartment in Chapel Hill affordable to your typical Chapel Hill worker takes diligence and a roommate. An apartment complex may advertise rent at one price, but by the time the management adds up all the additional mandatory fees — valet garbage pick-up, package delivery acceptance, weight room access, and Internet and […]

Don’t let Google be lonely

Google unveiled its new sign last week. The tasteful, illuminated logo on the Church Street side of 200 W. Franklin St. perhaps quelled fears that the town’s new sign ordinance would result in a wave of garishness overpowering our downtown’s charm. Chapel Hill has been Google’s home for the past decade, but few people knew […]

Think of the possibilities, then plan

How many times have we heard, usually from people who make money by developing or selling real estate, that affordable housing is not possible in Chapel Hill? That we might as well admit defeat and build only luxury apartments in town, thus forcing out the modestly paid and the middle class? Yet towns similar to […]

Best practices, best officers

In North Carolina, a barber needs 1,000 hours of training to get licensed. A law enforcement officer receives 616 hours. As society and circumstances change — think the closing of mental health facilities at the turn of this century that left law enforcement officers to intervene when a mentally ill person posed harm to the […]

What, me worry?

I’m at that age where I repeat myself. For more than a year and a half, I’ve been nagging Town Council members to fix the Ephesus-Fordham form-based code so that we can repay the $10 million loan we took out for improvements to the area. Bear in mind, we put up Town Hall as collateral. […]

The Deciders

Recently I asked the town manager for an organizational flow chart of town staff that would show who was in charge of what. I received 18 pages of charts in response, most of which broke out the hierarchy of positions in each department. The collection led off, however, with a master chart of management levels. […]

Launched

You might expect a low turnout for an event scheduled at the end of a hot day, toward the end of a week of hundred-degree days, in a warehouse venue with only a hint of air-conditioning. But as Thomas Edison said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Last Thursday, the anteroom of TOPO Distillery […]

Cultural Arts comes off the bench

With the burgeoning list of needs for our town — sidewalks, buses, housing options for people who work in some of the lower-paid jobs in town — spending taxpayer money on art seemed a low priority to me. Then I sat next to Jeffrey York, the town’s public and cultural arts administrator, at the advisory […]