All posts in category Town staff

Sitting on the Historic District Commission

In an interview aired on National Public Radio recently, Magazine Editor Hall-of-Famer Tina Brown described her desk-on-a-treadmill, noting, “Sitting is the new smoking.” That shot a little dart of fear in my heart, because my role as a Town Council member requires me to sit a lot. Council meetings, work sessions, committees, task forces and […]

Economics of affordability

A council member told of going to dinner at a new restaurant in town and having to wait a half-hour for a table. Initially, he took that as a good sign of how well the new business was faring. But once he was seated, he noticed that several tables had been removed since the last […]

Fighting back for DACA

Donald Trump seems to delight in causing chaos, regardless of the consequences. Like a toddler in the throes of a temper-tantrum, breaking everything he can get his little hands on, Trump gets attention through the disruption he creates. And Congress, the only authority figure that can put him in time out, instead stands to the […]

Season Premiere

Some of the candidates for Town Council attended our season opener on Wednesday. I hope those who stayed through the development agreement discussion do not rue their decision to run. The Sept. 6 council meeting gave candidates an accurate picture of some of the tortuous discussions we get ourselves into. Council is beta testing holding […]

Better planning for affordability

Last year, when Orange County commissioners proposed a $5 million bond to be used for affordable housing, I pushed for a plan. The county commissioners instead offered a slogan — 1,065 homes for $5 million — that was so unlikely to be achieved that it didn’t rise to the level of a goal. Trying to […]

Paying our bills, and extras

You can craft a budget by starting with the money you expect to have in the coming year and determining how to spend it. Or you can envision the lifestyle you want and figure out how to afford it. Chapel Hill’s budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which starts July 1 of this year, does a […]

Historic professionalism

Days after the Historic District Commission meeting last week, the unsettling exchanges have stayed with me. Once again — and this happens routinely — an applicant requesting a Certificate of Approval treated the commissioners with disdain, as though they were something that must be scraped off the bottom of a shoe. I’ve been to meetings […]

Chapel Hill’s Central Park?

Dream first; set your sights; then figure out what you have to do to get there. That philosophy has worked for me over the years, and town staff used it, too, last Saturday by hosting a charrette to find out what value taxpayers believe the 36-acre parcel we bought from the American Legion could add […]

Bargaining Power

People love to feel special. Sales agents make a living by understanding the power of “just for you”: “I don’t usually do this, but just for you, I’ll …” It closes the deal and mitigates buyer’s remorse. But “just for you” would lose its value if there were no standards or rules to push back […]

I have a dream; do you?

Chapel Hill’s town manager Roger Stancil nailed it in his remarks at the close of the town employees’ celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The event took place at Hargraves Center just before lunch last Friday. The program included a dramatic re-enactment of Rosa Park’s story, starring Myra Evans of Parking Services; a musical […]