Sunday, January 11, 2009

Week in Review 1/5/09 - 1/10/09

On Monday evening I attended the WCPSS Community Engagement Meeting at Apex High School with Mayor Weinbrecht and Gale Adcock. Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly was also in attendance. All of us spoke in opposition to the school system’s proposed reassignment plan. My speech focused on the importance of parental involvement in a child’s education and my concerns over a number of reassignments that move students away from their neighborhood school; making it much more difficult for parents to remain involved in their child’s education. You can read news reports about it here, here and here.

Mayor Weinbrecht, Gale Adcock and I also met with School Board Members Eleanor Goettee and Ron Margiotta to discuss our concerns with the reassignment plan in greater detail. The meeting went well and I am optimistic that some positive changes will be made to the plan. However, the board members were clear that while they may support some of our requests, it takes five school board members (a majority of the board) to change the plan. I appreciated their honesty in this regard, and I truly thank them for taking the time to meet with us. Great things sometimes do happen when all parties come to the same table. You can read more about it here and here.

I was a little surprised at how much media attention our speaking at WCPSS’s community engagement meeting and our meeting with two school board members received. You’d have thought they’d never seen local officials meet with the school board before. Then again, considering the previous council’s hands-off approach regarding schools maybe they hadn’t. On the other hand they may have been looking to stir the pot a bit – hoping to get somebody on camera publicly criticizing the school board. Now c’mon, do they really think I’d do that??? ;-)

The Cary Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual Economic Development Forecast at Prestonwood Country Club on Wednesday. The guest speaker was NC State Professor and Economist Dr. Michael Walden. Given the current state of the economy I wasn’t about to miss hearing from Dr. Walden. He not only spoke to how the recession is affecting the country in general, but how it was affecting Cary in particular. While Cary is feeling the effects of a slumping economy, thanks to conservative budgeting practices by council and our town staff we are weathering the storm better than most other municipalities.

Thursday morning I attended the Heart of Cary Association’s monthly meeting. The Friends of the Page Walker hosted this month’s meeting and gave a wonderful presentation on the history and renovations of the Page Walker Hotel. If you have never been to the Page Walker Hotel you MUST take an hour or two and visit. It is a great place to learn about Cary’s history. And heck, while you’re there, look into joining the Friends of the Page Walker. You’ll be glad you did!

Afterwards I attended the Cary Republican Women’s monthly meeting. The guest speaker was Council Member Jennifer Robinson who did an excellent job of presenting a year in review with a focus on the economy and its impact on Cary.

I was honored this past week to be invited by The National Federation of Independent Business Owners (NFIB) to participate in their “Key Contacts Program”. NFIB is the nation’s leading business association representing small and independent businesses. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB represents the consensus views of its members in Washington and all 50 states. The primary objective of the Key Contacts Program is to build relationships with members of Congress and educate them about issues facing small business. I have been assigned to work with US Senator Richard Burr.

This coming Friday and Saturday is the Council’s annual retreat. This year’s retreat will be held at the Embassy Suites here in Cary. Council decided to hold the retreat locally in an effort to reduce costs given the current state of the economy. This year’s retreat should cost 1/3 of what previous retreats have cost. While I believe we should always be looking to reduce costs regardless of the shape the economy is in, this decision made me happy as I have advocated for council retreats to be held locally for years. I never really understood how visits to Southern Pines or the beach helps council and staff better work together. For the record, I paid my own hotel costs associated with last year’s retreat held at Southern Pines (I also paid my own hotel costs on the downtown steering committee’s visit to Salisbury NC and Greenville SC and during my trip to Atlanta with WCPSS to visit a vocational high school). Cary taxpayers sent me to town hall to represent – not take trips at their expense.

Well that’s about it for this week. As always, thanks for reading!