Saturday, January 17, 2009

Week in Review 1/11/09 - 1/15/09

The week began with a meeting with Cary’s interim Town Manager Ben Shivar. We discussed a number of topics which included our state’s legislative agenda, the horrible repaving job the state’s contactor did on Cary Parkway near High House Road (staff will now be looking into filing a complaint with the state), potential public-private partnerships in our downtown area, and the town’s upcoming involuntary annexations – which I oppose.

Afterwards I met with our Town Clerk Sue Rowland for her annual performance review; probably one of the easiest meetings I’ve had in quite some time. How do you advise someone of where they can improve when they already perform so well? I don’t know what council would do without Sue (and Karen and Mary too!). They’re awesome. Instead I asked Sue what she thought I could do to improve. ;-) (and NO I won’t tell you what she said!)

Monday evening I attended the Wake County Young Republican’s meeting in downtown Raleigh. The highlight of the evening was the election of new club officers. Congratulations are in order for Jason Walls who was elected Chair, Phillip Geyser; Vice Chair, Darren Eustace; Secretary, Ashley Rainey; Treasurer, and Mike Hall was elected Parliamentarian. North Carolina State House member Dale Folwell was also in attendance.

Wednesday morning council members Gale Adcock, Jennifer Robinson and I met with members of the schools advisory group that council created last year and a few other concerned citizens to discuss the manner in which the council should move forward regarding the schools roundtable discussion initiative that council approved last year. We hit a few bumps in the road last year and are way behind schedule - and for that I cannot apologize enough. In the meantime however the council has worked very hard to represent citizen concerns to the school board and fight for neighborhood schools – including a number of meetings between the school board and council as well as individual and group meetings. We have also met with numerous citizen and parent groups and schools advocacy organizations. You should hear something in the next few weeks.

On Thursday I met with a friend and former member of the town’s Planning and Zoning Board. We discussed a number of topics ranging from growth – or lack thereof – to the economy and budget issues as well as the upcoming municipal and school board elections.

Thursday evening was our first council meeting of the new year. Council approved our state’s legislative agenda minus the request to ask the general assembly for the authority to allow council members the ability to participate in the discussion and vote in meetings via electronic communication (by phone). I asked that council not support this initiative as I believe it important that council members – or any elected official for that matter – be present at meetings in order to vote. I worried that if Cary were to receive this authority, some councilors might not find it as important to attend every meeting since they could simply phone their vote in. Thankfully council agreed. We also approved the Green Level Stream Restoration and Greenway Plan with additional language at the request of a citizen and myself.

Council also tabled a resolution supporting the Metropolitian Coalition’s statements and advocacy regarding the economic stimulus package that Congress is working to pass. I adamantly opposed this resolution as I believe a massive increase in government spending is not the answer to our economy’s problems.

Our nation currently has a trillion dollar budget deficit. Under the current proposal we will essentially be doubling that deficit to 2 trillion dollars. How much longer can we continue to mortgage our grandchildren’s future – or that of our grandchildren’s children? How long will the rest of the world allow us to print money 24/7 to cover our debt? I also have grave concerns over the “needed infrastructure” projects identified by the US Conference of Mayors that the stimulus money could possibly fund. Providence RI “needs” a $4.5 million Polar Bear Zoo Exhibit. Durham NC “needs” a $20 million minor league baseball museum, Miami Fl “needs” a $1.5 million water park ride, and Ohio “needs” $1.5 million to curb prostitution. You get the idea. Some may say, “Well we now have a new President in charge, things will be different”. To them I say that just because someone new is sitting in the director’s chair doesn’t necessarily mean the same actors will perform any better. Congress is who will ultimately decide the specifics of the stimulus package and where the money goes. Considering how well the last stimulus package was administered and that Al Franken has now joined as a supporting cast member I’m not feeling very confident. We simply cannot borrow and spend our way out of this mess.

Council decided to table this resolution until our next meeting to allow staff the time to change the language in the resolution, and make the resolution more “Cary specific” so that we are speaking for Cary alone. While much better than what was originally proposed, I did not support this either as I believe we should not send a message to congress that in any way shape or form implies we support the stimulus package.

The council retreat was Friday and Saturday – I’ll be writing a separate post on that here shortly. As always, thanks for reading!