Sunday, October 26, 2008

Week in Review 10/19/08 - 10/25/08

Wow, you’d think with all the politicians I hung out with this week there would have been enough hot air to keep me warm – I’m freezing! ;-) Just kidding!

Apex town councilman Bryan Gossage, Morrisville town councilman Tom Murry, and yours truly hosted a Regional Issues Forum Monday evening at the Cedar Fork Community Center in Morrisville. The goal of this forum was to provide an opportunity for area residents to speak with local officials regarding opportunities and challenges facing our region, so it was no surprise that transportation, schools, and regional partnerships dominated the discussion. It is our hope to host a number of these “idea raisers” in the future. Government works best when everyone is involved.

On Tuesday I met with representatives from the Cary Farmers Market and the Heart of Cary Association to discuss alternative site locations for the market. The train depot - the Farmers Market’s current location – is experiencing significant increases in ridership largely due to increasing fuel prices, and has plans to expand their services resulting in a greater need of their parking. We identified a number of potential alternative sites downtown that may work and have begun discussions with property owners. Eventually the Farmers Market will be located on Park Street when the downtown park is completed, but unfortunately that is years away.

Afterwards I attended a Republican Party precinct meeting on behalf of House Member Nelson Dollar. This was the first time I had ever served as a campaign surrogate for a candidate. It was an honor to speak on Nelson’s behalf. Nelson is a good man; a man of principle and integrity who fights hard for the little guy. I can’t say this about most politicians these days, but Nelson has earned another term in office.

Let’s get ready to rumble!!!! Bright and early Wednesday morning was the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Congressional Candidates Forum for districts 4 and 13. David Price vs. BJ Lawson and Brad Miller vs. Hugh Webster. The most impressive candidate award goes to BJ Lawson. BJ was confident, articulate, and demonstrated a clear understanding of the issues facing our state and nation. The most unimpressive candidate award goes to Brad Miller. After 6 years in congress you would think the guy could answer a question regarding transportation, yet when asked one he said, “I wish David could have gotten this question first” before struggling to provide his answer. Throughout the debate it became clear who pulls Congressman Miller’s strings.

The Town of Cary’s School of Government Graduation was Wednesday evening and I wouldn’t have missed this for anything. It was truly an honor to present the graduates their diplomas and I hope all of them apply to serve on one of our town boards or commissions. Increased citizen involvement is very important to council. The more involved our citizens become in our government the more our government works to serve our citizens.

Our Planning and Development Committee meeting was Thursday afternoon. The only topic of discussion was whether or not to issue RFPs for consulting services for the town’s community visioning project. This initiative is an extensive community visioning project to engage our citizens in defining the long term future of Cary. While a worthwhile project, it is my sincere hope that staff’s cost estimate is high, or else we just may have more discussion by the time this comes back to council for final approval.

Afterwards I attended the Western Wake Republican Club's Annual Pre-election Jitters Party at the Bass Lake Retreat House in Holly Springs. This was a huge success with nearly 200 people in attendance. Good food, drink, and candidates making stump speeches – where would you rather be? ;-)

Friday evening we went to the Cary High School / Apex football game at Cooper Field. It was a good game with Apex coming out on top 24-17. Ok…almost a good game. ;-) Saturday afternoon I had two events. The first was another campaign rally in Apex. While I had a good time, I think I can speak for nearly everyone (especially the candidates) when I say I will be so glad when November 4th finally comes and goes.

Later that evening my daughter Elizabeth and I had the honor of attending the Deepavali / Diwali Celebration at Sri Venkateswara Temple in Cary. While I was invited as a member of the town council, I elected to bring Elizabeth along so she – a seven year old – could experience and learn more about Indian culture. As parents it is very important that we teach our children tolerance and respect, and I can’t think of a better way for our children to learn about other cultures and religions than by experiencing them firsthand. We both had a great time, and I can’t thank the folks at Sri Venkateswara enough for having us.

Well, that’s about it for this week. I’m gonna finish watching the Penn State game…they should win this one easy. Hi Brent! ;-) Until next week, thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

News Advisory - Regional Issues Forum

NEWS ADVISORY

October 17, 2008

For Immediate Release

Area councilmen invite public to issues forum MORRISVILLE, NC – Understanding the regional nature of many issues that confront western Wake County, Apex Councilman Bryan Gossage, Cary Councilman Don Frantz, and Morrisville Councilman Tom Murry invite the public to a Regional Issues Forum at the Cedar Fork Community Center in Morrisville on Monday, October 20th, at 7pm.

The council members plan to discuss issues such as resource management, transportation planning, and economic growth.

Citizens of Apex, Cary, and Morrisville are encouraged to participate in the discussion, and share their own ideas on how to best address opportunities and challenges facing our region.

Area residents can RSVP to Apex Councilman Bryan Gossage at Bryan.Gossage@apexnc.org or (919) 249-3303.

# # #

Councilmen Bryan Gossage and Tom Murry serve on the Triangle “J” Council of Governments

Councilmen Murry and Don Frantz serve on Wake County’s Growth Issues Task Force.

Week in Review 10/13/08 - 10/18/08

Highlights of my work week as a member of the Cary Town Council included meetings with WCPSS and our public art advisory board, as well as meetings with town staff and our town council meeting. Lots of meetings! :-)

Members of council met with the Wake County Public School Board and staff on Tuesday. WCPSS presented an update regarding current and future building construction and renovations, and how the deteriorating economy factors into future construction plans, land acquisition and student assignment.

After WCPSS's presentation there was a good amount of time for open discussion between the board and council. Most of my comments/questions centered around curriculum - specifically vocational education. In my opinion, the best way to address the ever increasing drop out rate is through increased opportunities in vocational education. Let's face it, the majority of high school drop outs are not college bound kids to start with. They don't care about learning a foreign language or advanced level math. School is boring for them, and they would much rather enter the workforce. While we would like to believe every child should go to college, the reality is that isn't reality. Expanding vocational education (courses such as auto shop, construction, welding, or plumbing) in our high schools will give non college bound students a reason to want to come to school - they will be learning a trade that will ultimately lead to a good career instead of a job behind the counter at Burger King.

How many of you reading this realize a automotive technician (mechanic) can earn anywhere from $40,000 - $100,000 a year? Yet there is a shortage of automotive technicians in the workforce. Why? Kids aren't exposed to trades as a possible career path that's why. This needs to change or before too long there won't be anyone to fix your car, or your plumbing, or your air conditioning, or....

On Wednesday I attended the Public Art Advisory Board's monthly meeting to learn more about the proposed art for the fly tower and lobby area at Cary Elementary. It is my hope to avoid another scenario like we saw with a certain art tower a couple of months ago. I believe there to be a problem with process. Currently the council isn't periodically updated on projects as they move along through the process to ensure that council approves of the direction in which the board is heading. This is what happened with the art tower. By the time council was made aware of the project, it was 3 weeks until final approval and design was completed. I believe that council will be addressing the process issue in the near future, but in the meantime I felt that attending the Public Art Advisory Board's meeting would be wise in case it turned out I had any concerns...which I do. At our council meeting I recommended council table this project until such time that council and the Public Art Advisory can schedule a worksession to give everyone a chance to learn more about the projects and provide direction. It is better for all parties involved that council give input sooner than later.

Thursday evening was our council meeting, preceded by a reception for outgoing town manager Bill Coleman. The reception was a great time as many councilors and staff members both past and present were in attendance. It was good to see everyone and the amount of people in attendance was indicative of the amount of respect folks have for Bill.

The council meeting was an up and downer however. During the meeting everyone was given the opportunity to say their goodbyes to Bill and for me that was difficult. I have only worked with Bill as a member of council since December, but I have known him for years. He's not only a great leader but also a friend. I will miss him. Council did however honor his service by presenting him with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine from Governor Easley, as well as a proclamation naming the main baseball field at USA Baseball the William B. Coleman, Jr. Field. Bill is a huge baseball fan - he seemed pretty stoked with that one. :-)

I also spent a good amount of time this week working with town staff and communicating with residents in the Silverton area regarding a proposed commercial/office development at Cary Parkway, Winfair, and Evans Road. Residents in the area and myself have asked a number of questions and have expressed concerns over the project and our town staff is working diligently to address all of them.

I also want to let folks know about an upcoming Regional Issues Forum hosted by Apex Councilman Bryan Gossage, Morrisville Councilman Tom Murray, and myself. This will take place this Monday the 20th at 7:00 pm at the Cedar Fork Community Center in Morrisville. We plan to discuss issues such as resource management, transportation, and economic development. Please feel free to come and share your ideas about how to best deal with opportunities and issues facing our region.

That's about it for this week. As always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Week in Review 10/6/08 - 10/11/08


This week was relatively light in regards to council responsibilities - and after our east coast tour last week I needed some downtime! :-) Along with answering loads of email and a few meetings, I also had the pleasure of meeting Mary Jean Eisenhower, granddaughter of our 34th President Dwight D. Eisenhower. I was also privileged to attend the 8th Annual Diwali Festival at Koka Booth Amphitheater.

Most folks typically hate Mondays -and I am no exception. That's why I decided to shake it up a bit and do something fun for a change. I went to go visit my good friends at the dentist. I mean, nothing says "fun" like sitting upside down in a chair while two lovely ladies with power tools rearrange the inside of your mouth right? I even got a new toothbrush after it was all said and done - how cool is that??? :-(

On Tuesday - when I could finally feel the left side of my face and could control the drooling - I met with long time Cary resident and businessman Roy Mashburn. This was an informal meeting in which he presented his thoughts and concerns on Cary's future - especially relating to issues with the condition of our nation's economy. I in turn spoke to his concerns, as well as my vision for the future of Cary. It was a good meeting.

That evening I watched the Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. I can sum up my thoughts on this debate in one word: BORING. I learned nothing new about either candidate or their positions, and quite frankly after their pathetic performances I now think LESS about the both of them than I did before the debate. I want a refund. :-) Seriously - can we have a "do over" with the primaries or something?

On Thursday Mayor Weinbrecht, Councilor Adcock and myself, along with key members of our town staff met with business owners in the downtown area regarding parking issues pertaining to the downtown streetscape project. It was a very productive meeting and I am optimistic that we are much closer to a solution than we have been in the past.

On Friday I met for lunch with Cary's Sister Cities Commission and Mary Jean Eisenhower at the Page Walker Hotel. Mrs. Eisenhower is the President and CEO of People to People International (PTPI), an organization founded by her grandfather President Dwight D. Eisenhower over 50 years ago. The purpose of PTPI is to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural, and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences directly among peoples of different countries and diverse cultures. They cooperate with any and all organizations of similar nature and purpose. Our Sister Cities Commission is one of those organizations. Being a history buff, the highlight for me was listening to Mrs. Eisenhower speak about her life experiences growing up the granddaughter of a President. It also reminded me of my time as a child with my grandfather - a career Marine and WWII veteran. I could listen to him tell stories for hours, and as soon as he would finish one we would beg for another.

Friday afternoon I met with members of the Cary PD and a concerned resident over issues they are experiencing in their neighborhood.

On Saturday I had the honor of officially beginning the Diwali Festival by reading a proclamation designating October 11, 2008 as the 8th Cary Diwali Celebration. Diwali is the Indian celebration of good versus evil. It is a festive occasion celebrated in almost all regions of India and it is looked upon as the beginning of the new year. Over 10,000 people attended this day long event at Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheater. The folks from Hum Sub were very gracious hosts and spent a great deal of time educating me on India's history, the meaning behind Diwali, and even convinced me to sample some of the food...which I did...which was great! This was a beautiful event, and all the performances were wonderful. I can't wait until next year's event!

Well that's about it for this week in review and as always, thanks for reading. Tune in again next week - same bat time, same bat channel! :-)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Week in Review 9/29/08 - 10/5/08 - ;-)

Good evening Cary! And welcome to Don Frantz’ Cary Town Council Journal coming to you live from Interstate 95 near Manning, South Carolina. We’ve decided to take this show on the road on an east coast state to state tour – beginning in Cary, North Carolina and finishing up in sunny Orlando Florida. Why? Because confidence in government is at an all time low and Americans are demanding openness and accountability from their elected officials. Folks want to know more about “that councilman from Cary” – who is this guy? And why does he blog?

Our first stop was a “town hall discussion” sponsored by a successful small business called “Shell” in Florence, South Carolina. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive – and “Wanda”, the store manager even asked for my autograph. One gentleman waited outside all day for us to show up – and as soon as we arrived he begged us for “change”. I shook his hand and promised him that I am working as hard as I can to change politics as usual. I also recommended he buy a wallet since carrying around one’s money in a tin can didn’t seem very smart. After our forum I thanked everyone for their hospitality - and the use of their facilities - then we boarded “The Straight Blog Express” en route to our next destination.

Unfortunately due to security concerns I cannot reveal our next stop at this time. Security is already upset with me as it is – something about sub par refreshments at “Shell” – and the last thing I want to do is agitate them any more by revealing top secret information. I did call ahead however and made sure our next stop has Gummi Bears and YooHoo.

I figured I would write this week’s “Week in Review” in between stops.

On Tuesday I met with Torrey Dixon from FairVote. As many of you know I am the first candidate in the State of North Carolina elected utilizing Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). I’m also not shy with my thoughts. ;-) This was a rather informal discussion – a coffee table chat if you will discussing the pros and cons of IRV. In the afternoon I met with representatives of the Cary Police Department to discuss an ongoing neighborhood issue.

Wednesday was a very busy day. First was the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Wake County Commissioners Candidate’s Forum. This event was well attended and a great opportunity to hear from all the candidates on issues relevant to Cary such as revisiting the hotel/meals tax distribution formula (Cary get’s the short end of the stick on this one big time). The convention center is great for Raleigh and good for the county, but it isn’t really doing much to benefit Cary (no matter how much they say it is). The Cary / Morrisville area contributes roughly 38% of the total amount of hotel/meals taxes collected in Wake County – but thanks to Raleigh we’re lucky to get 5%. We’re getting scr… um…treated unfairly. ;-)

Afterwards was our monthly Friends of the Page Walker Committee meeting. I serve as the council liaison to the Friends – but I have been a proud member long before ever joining council. If historic preservation is important to you – you need to join the Friends. Please visit their website here. Following the meeting I met with EMS Chief Cohen and Board of Directors Chair Brent Miller to discuss EMS funding and deployment strategies.

Thursday morning I attended The Heart of Cary Association’s monthly meeting. Our guest speakers were Kyle Hubert and Denise Dickens from the Town of Cary who provided the group with an update on the downtown streetscape project – which council officially approved at last week’s worksession.

I intentionally did not schedule any meetings for Thursday evening as I wanted to make sure I watched the Vice Presidential debate (along with the pre-game and post-game shows). Needless to say after Sarah Palin’s impressive performance I was VERY pleased to say the least. It has been a rough couple of weeks for the McCain camp and this was a shot in the arm their campaign needed right about now. I thought Joe Biden did well also.

Alright – we just completed stop #2 on the tour. This was an “Eat n’ Greet” hosted by a lovely lady named “Ruby” (I think her last name was Tuesday…maybe Thursday?). She had a lovely restaurant in Palm Coast Florida that, except for her inability to make a decent margarita, provided us a great opportunity to again speak to Americans about the need for more openness and transparency in government. They even had a podium and microphone waiting for us! After speaking with the citizens of Palm Coast, one lady (who obviously showed up late) asked for a “tip”. I told her not to leave your car windows down when it’s raining…like she did. We said our goodbyes and climbed aboard the “Straight Blog Express” to head to our next stop – sunny Orlando Florida.

Unfortunately word leaked out that we were coming to town (remind me next time to make sure I get the phone number right before I text message someone), so staff hastily worked with the folks at the University of Central Florida to arrange for a larger venue than the 4th floor dorm room we had reserved. Hearing of the record crowds we were drawing up and down the east coast, they allowed us the use of Brighthouse Networks Stadium. We figured what the heck, if Barack Obama (never thought you’d see that name on this blog did you?) could speak to thousands of folks in a stadium – why couldn’t we? It turns out it was a good call – about 35,000 people showed up to hear what we had to say. Coincidentally there also happened to be a football game between UCF and SMU scheduled at the same time. UCF – who even more coincidentally our son plays linebacker for won 31 – 17!!! Woo Hoo!

Last stop on the “Open Government World Tour” was held Sunday at Sea World. Security insisted that after reaching thousands of Americans it was now time to reach out to animals – mammals in particular. And after the refreshment fiasco at Shell I wasn’t about to say no. I’m glad we took her advice. Dolphins and Orcas were literally jumping out of the water when they heard what I had to say regarding openness and accountability in government. The seals however weren’t nearly as receptive – I had to buy $10 worth of dead fish to get their attention, but once I got it I had to shout as they wouldn’t stop cheering or applauding. ;-)

We’re now on the long road home. Security is asleep in the back of the “Straight Blog Express” and its staff’s turn to drive. I hope you enjoyed the humor this week…and yes it can get boring riding in a car for 18 hours. ;-)

Until next time! Thanks for reading.