All posts in category Ethics


Years ago, Chapel Hill adopted a campaign contribution policy to encourage voter-owned elections and make it harder for donors to “buy” elections. Individual campaign donations were limited to $336, a sharp contrast to the $5,100 limit for county commissioner, U.S. president and other partisan elections. Given the recent news about campaign finances of council member […]

HB-2 & You & Me & Us & Them

I wish our state lawmakers would do something useful like pass legislation to quell the sex life of trees. My allergies tell me pollen season has started with a vengeance. Instead, the N.C. General Assembly that wants to see a driver’s license before you vote, now wants to see a birth certificate before you use […]

Crossing over

Come Wednesday, I will cross over, moving from the spectator side of the council dais to Participant Row. And that means Chapel Hill Watch must undergo a metamorphosis of its own. No longer will I be able to critique content after the fact. If I disagree with a colleague or hear a council member behaving […]

Getting to No*

Town Council doesn’t have the option of remaining silent in uncomfortable situations. Sometimes saying “no” can be extraordinarily difficult, far harder than not saying “yes.” Saying “no” can be more difficult still when you have a relationship or connection with the other party. What are the expectations? The personal responsibility? The implied agreement? What are […]

We need a hero

It looks like the UNC Board of Governors may be celebrating Black History Month by closing down UNC’s Center for Poverty, Work and Opportunity. The 27% of blacks in North Carolina who live below the poverty line is more than twice the 12% of poverty-stricken whites in our state, which makes the timing of the […]

Fix schools now, or later?

I stopped by the Orange County Commissioners retreat Friday afternoon to hear how commissioners planned to prioritize and pay for expenses on their wish list. As the discussion about whether to put a $125 million bond referendum on the ballot versus what’s called “pay-as-you-go” unfolded, I realized some commissioners took the “retreat” literally. The county […]

The price of doing right

Art Pope tried to buy his way into the university and failed. So Pope, the Dick Cheney of the McCrory administration, took another tack: He pressed the N.C. General Assembly, which has appointed several Republican cronies to the UNC System Board of Governors, to push out the system president, a man revered for his integrity, […]

Insurers hold cards

Don and I received an extortion letter last month. It came from our insurance company. If we did not sign a letter authorizing the company to increase our homeowners’ insurance premium by as much as 250 percent, the company would not renew our coverage. And if our insurance lapsed, our lender could call in our […]

Bully pulpit

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt is scheduled to moderate a panel discussion on bullying, following the screening of the documentary “Bully” at East Chapel Hill High School on Oct. 13. As Town Council doesn’t meet that Monday night, I hope many council members will attend. After watching recent Town Council public hearings, particularly on the controversial Ephesus-Fordham […]

Who wins?

You can’t make this stuff up. The Urban Land Institute of the Triangle lists Timber Hollow Apartments as a nominee to win an award for affordable housing. Ron Strom of Blue Heron Asset Management self-nominated his project, which Blue Heron sold to Eller Capital (after pocketing nearly $6 million profit from his $12.6 million investment […]