Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weeks in Review 5/18/09 - 5/29/09

Yes, I know I didn’t post last week. I had the choice of either blogging, or celebrating Memorial Day with family and friends. Ice cold margaritas made the choice pretty easy. ;-) But not to fear – this week you get a two-fer. That’s right folks, two – count em – TWO weeks in review for the price of one. This special is only good for a limited time so READ NOW! Operators are not standing by, and this offer is void where prohibited by law.

May 18 – 22:

Something about Monday was different. The sky was a beautiful North Carolina Blue, birds were cheerfully singing in the trees and as I looked out into the backyard I saw our cat happily playing with the neighbor’s dog – it was almost surreal. Then it hit me. Today was my birthday. 29 years old…..again. ;-)

On Tuesday the town hosted a volunteer appreciation picnic at Ritter Park. The mayor and yours truly served as Master Chefs cooking over 80 hotdogs and hamburgers for some hungry volunteers. We even cooked some veggie burgers (no, I wouldn’t eat one) BTW - have you ever tried to cook a veggie burger on the grill? It’s weird – you’re not really “cooking” it – you’re “heating” it. I kept expecting it to catch fire like a piece of wood. Anyways, everyone had a great time – I only wish there was more we could do to show our appreciation to folks who give so much of themselves to make Cary the great place to live that it is.

Afterwards I attended the Downtown Turnaround dinner/social at Spirits in Downtown Cary. It was great to see so many downtown residents in attendance who share a passion for their community and I spoke to the group about current downtown plans and the economy’s effect on them.

Thursday evening was our Planning and Development Committee meeting. Meeting highlights included our committee deciding to not enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with DOT regarding the US 64 corridor between Pittsboro and Cary and consideration of amendments to the town’s Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan to allocate $122,433 in stimulus funds. I think you all know I oppose the fed’s stimulus package and Cary’s participation. However, what’s done is done and we have been allocated these funds. I believe The Serving Cup’s Green Level Apartment roadway improvements, housing rehab, and the Christian Community in Action’s project at the corner of High House and Old Apex Rd. appropriate projects to receive these funds.

My council week ended with a meeting between our Zoning Enforcement Department and a local business to work through a zoning compliance issue. The meeting went well - a few minor adjustments to the business’s storage and screening practices and alls well.

May 26 – 29:

Council held our second budget worksession this week. Council decided – at the town manager’s recommendation – to delay the downtown streetscape project out of concerns for increasing the town’s debt level during a recession. What really disappointed me however was that council also delayed moving forward with the renovations and conversion of old Cary Elementary into the community arts center. While I understand and agree that this isn’t the time to increase the town’s debt, this particular project is funded with cash on hand and does not impact our debt. I do not support delaying old Cary Elementary. This project is too important to our downtown, our town’s heritage and history. The longer we wait, the more this project will cost as the condition of old Cary Elementary will continue to deteriorate. Emergency roof repairs have already had to be contracted and the front porch is visibly sagging.

I believe that government must take care of existing facilities and infrastructure before looking to build new. The old Cary Elementary renovations do just that.

I also met with the owners of the Carolina Railhawks this week to learn more about their operation and hear from them regarding their vision for the program and Wake Med Soccer Park.

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Other than a few public hearings for annexations and rezonings notable items of discussion included the request from Councilors Robison and Portman to extend the annexation moratorium in Chatham County and a request by Councilor Portman and myself to consider amending the town’s approval process for new projects from 2 years with a 1 year renewal to 3 years with a 2 year renewal.

I opposed renewing the annexation moratorium for a couple of reasons. First, Chatham County asked us to reinstate the moratorium but they have not done the same in regards to development plan approvals, and secondly I believe that the annexation moratorium is what is largely responsible for Cary and Chatham not agreeing on a joint land use plan thus far. With a moratorium there is no incentive to hustle and get things done – no deadline. I voted against extending the moratorium and was the only one to do so. Enough “playing nice” – it’s time we lock both boards in a room and get this done.

Council unanimously directed staff to investigate extending the town’s approval process for new projects and to bring it back for committee review and ultimately council decision. Anything we can do to help the business community during these tough economic times makes sense, and once the economy turns around should we find these changes aren’t working well for us anymore we can revisit them. Just like businesses adjust when the economy dictates so should the town.

Well that’s about it for now. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Letter to the Editor

Sent to the News and Observer:

Regarding Mr. Keung Hui's May 12 report Dissent erupts at schools forum; I have to ask, “What forum was Mr. Hui at anyways?”

I mean, he couldn’t have been at the Town of Cary’s Climate for Student Success Forum as he reported. I was there, as were a number of elected officials and community leaders and parents from across the county. I saw no “eruption of dissent”. I did however hear 3 ½ hours of innovative ideas and opinion from our guest speakers Elaine McEwan and Amy Holcombe. At the conclusion of the forum both citizens and elected officials were given the opportunity to ask questions of our guests. Everyone did so in a professional manner.

I also wonder why (not really - I know why) the only “organizer" of the event Mr. Hui chose to mention in his opinion piece – oops, I mean report - was Kathleen Brennan, a co-founder of WakeCARES, the parent group who recently lost a Supreme Court ruling. For some reason Mr. Hui forgot to mention the other organizers which included members of the town council, WCPSS committees, PTA’s, and other local civic groups.

We at the Town of Cary believed a diverse group of organizers beneficial to ensuring a balanced and non-biased forum as possible. I thought diversity was a good thing?

Don Frantz
Cary Town Council District B

(we'll see if they print it)

Week in Review 5/11/09 - 5/16/09

What a very busy but productive week!

The week started off bright and early Monday morning with the Town of Cary’s Climate for Student Success Education Forum. We invited elected officials, community leaders, and parents from all over Wake County to hear from Elaine McEwan, bestselling author of 10 Traits of Highly Effective Schools and Amy Holcomb, Talent Director of Guilford County Schools. EVERY municipality in Wake County was represented….except Raleigh. Go figure.

Elaine spoke about the distinguishing qualities and unique characteristics of schools that help ALL students make gains in academic performance. Amy spoke about Guilford County’s Mission Possible Program – a comprehensive teacher incentive program that recruits highly skilled teachers to teach in high needs schools and rewards them financially based on student success. The better the students do – the more the teachers get paid. Pay for performance, what a concept huh?

Afterwards elected officials and parents were given an opportunity to address our guests and ask questions. The majority of questions pertained to Guilford County’s Mission Possible program (folks were obviously impressed and wanted to hear more) and of course reassignment. Parents asked our guest’s opinion regarding busing for diversity. Amy said it best. “You can either put your money into buses, transportation and fuel, or you can put your money into your people. We chose to put our money into our people so our children could go to their neighborhood school.” After seeing the performance gains of their high needs schools I say they made a wise decision.

Tuesday evening could held our first of what I am sure is to be many budget worksessions. Although considering the town has no money, I can’t imagine the budget process taking but too long. Anyways, Town Manager Ben Shivar and staff presented the budget to council and we conducted a general review of the budget. More in depth worksessions will follow. This year is going to be tight. But like everyone else we have to tighten our belts and focus on essentials to get through the slumping economy. The council is committed to upholding the high levels of service our citizens expect without raising taxes.

Some highlights include:

The proposed FY2010 budget is 25% LOWER than FY2209’s

NO TAX INCREASE. Cary will continue to have the lowest tax rate in the county at 33 cents.

60% reduction in the capital improvement budget.

Over $3 million reduction in General Fund Expansion reductions.

24 open town staff positions will not be filled.

Some lowlights include:

The downtown streetscape project may be postponed or modified.

No sidewalk constructions in FY2010

An 8% increase in water rates. The primary driver for this is the new Western Wake Water Reclamation Facility and reduced revenues due to low/no new development and conservation. The last one really stinks. Our citizens work really hard and make sacrifices to conserve water – the town therefore doesn’t sell as much water as anticipated resulting in a rate increase.

The Council and staff met with Chatham County Commissioners and their staff this week to discuss a number of outstanding issues pertaining to the Chatham County/Cary Joint Land Use Plan and annexation. I was pleased that the meeting went well and i believe that we can work through our differences towards an agreement that benefits both Chatham County and Cary.

On Thursday my wife and I attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Awards Banquet at Embassy Suites in Cary. Our business, Frantz Automotive, was honored to be named the Cary Chamber’s Small Business of the Year last year. This year’s Small Business of the Year Award winner is Rockett Interactive. Other award winners included the Eye Care Center at Barnes & Noble Plaza, Kniffen Wealth Management, Rush Hour Kartingand the Carying Place. The Entrepreneurial Award in Education went to Cary High School. Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and special thanks to the Cary Chamber for supporting and recognizing Cary’s small businesses.

Thursday evening was our council meeting. I had the honor of presenting a proclamation designating May 2, 2009 as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. This was particularly meaningful to me as I spent 3 days in the hospital back in 2001 as the result of a motorcycle accident. I had a collapsed lung, 4 broken ribs and broken shoulder. While I am thankful I am alive to talk about it, I am also thankful I was wearing a full face helmet. If you saw the helmet (which I keep near my bike to remind me of what could have been) you’d better understand. I took the helmet to the council meeting to show folks the importance of appropriate safety gear.

Council also agreed to change the land use plan of 13 acres in the west Cary area from low density residential to medium density residential. The majority of council found this appropriate due to the high density bordering the property to the north, and the low density bordering the property to the south. It provided a good transition. Council also agreed to hire an environmental manager contingent on receiving federal grant funds to cover the cost associated with this position.

I also spent a great deal of time this week responding to citizen emails and phone calls regarding the proposal from Triangle Aquatics Center to the town to purchase, the proposed town budget, and the proposed automated water meter reading system. Thanks to everyone who took the time to contact either myself or the council with your thoughts and concerns on issues important to you. Government works better when more citizens are involved.

I also wrote a letter to the editor in response to Keung Hui’s opinion piece – oops, I mean report – on Cary’s education forum. I knew the N+O was in the tank for WCPSS but geez…. I’ll post it here once I submit it. Neighborhood schools supporters might find this interesting.

That’s about all for this week. As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Week in Review 5/4/09 - 5/9/09

This was a great week. After four years of hard work both on and off the football field our son Jordan graduated from the University of Central Florida on Friday! Our first to graduate college – we are so proud! Having red-shirted one year due to injury he has one more year of eligibility left. He’s decided to stay at UCF to play one more year and work on his masters while he’s at it. Too cool.

On Monday council members Adcock, Robinson and I, along with citizens and staff who have been assisting us with this Monday’s Climate for Student Success Education Forum met at town hall to finalize planning and participate in a practice run-through of the event to ensure that we all are as prepared for the forum as we can be. I also spent a good deal of time this week following up with elected officials who had yet to RSVP for the forum. One of the goals of this forum is to help foster a dialogue between municipal leaders regarding education in Wake County. Having as many elected officials in attendance as possible will better help us achieve this goal.

Mayor Weinbreht and I had the honor of attending the Town of Cary’s Citizen's Police Academy graduation ceremony this week. This was the 25th graduating class since the program’s inception back in 1997. I am proud to be a graduate of the academy myself – go class 15! ;-) I thanked the graduates for taking the time to become more involved in and learn more about our town and its police department, and I also encouraged everyone to stay involved with the department by joining the Citizens Assisting Police (CAP) team. The more support our police department receives, the more time our officers have to focus on fighting crime. Afterwards I attended the Friends of the Page Walker monthly meeting.

Council continues to receive emails in support of the proposal from Triangle Aquatics Center (TAC) to the town to purchase the facility. I would estimate I personally have responded to over 60 at this point. I have received about 7 in opposition to the proposal. Council will discuss this proposal during the upcoming budget deliberations. Speaking of the town’s budget, council has received quite a bit of input regarding the budget over the course of the last week. The majority of comments dealt with addressing stormwater issues in the Swift Creek area, the town’s proposed automated meter reading system, and requests to not fund any road/infrastructure projects that might encourage development or result in developers not paying their fair share of development. Council holds our first budget worksession this Tuesday.

That’s about it for now. As always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Week in Review 4/26/09 - 5/1/09

Monday evening was the Western Wake Republican Club’s second annual Spring Fling event at the Business Network Center in Cary. The event was well attended and special guests included North Carolina Republican Party Chair candidates - in no particular order other than my personal preference ;-) - Chad Adams, Tom Fetzer, Bill Randall, and Marcus Kindley. Local officials from Morrisville, Holly Springs, and Apex were also in attendance, as was WCPSS School Board Member Ron Margiotta.

Citizen volunteers who have been assisting us (greatly) with the Town of Cary’s Climate for Student Success Schools Forum, our Forum Moderator Steve Strauss, Councilor Jennifer Robinson and myself also met on Monday to further discuss the upcoming education forum. It was a good meeting as our moderator had the opportunity to hear about our goals and vision for the forum which will in turn allow him to better moderate the discussion – which I am sure will be lively.

On Tuesday evening council held a worksession with no set agenda. It was an opportunity to discuss whatever we felt important. Council reviewed our goals from the council retreat as well as the role of board and commission liaisons and our upcoming education forum.

This was council meeting week. There wasn’t much on the agenda as there aren’t many development projects taking place these days. Council did however make a decision on whether or not to change the method of elections in Cary. After exploring the possibilities of instant runoff voting (IRV) and plurality elections council decided to stick with the non-partisan traditional runoff election method. I am pleased. If you have been reading my blog you know my thoughts regarding IRV – I don’t like it (and that’s putting it nicely). I was genuinely interested in hearing citizens thoughts regarding the switch back to plurality elections (Cary utilized this method until 2000 when we switched to runoff elections). Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of feedback regarding plurality (until I stated such at a council meeting – then I received a few emails). Most folks I heard from were special interest groups and politicos both in support and in opposition to IRV. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate any and all feedback, I just wish more “average citizens” had taken the time to weigh in on the topic. I would like to thank Chris, Joyce, Perry, and Andrew for all their help.

30+ citizens spoke during the public speak out portion of our meeting to voice their support of the $14 million proposal from Triangle Aquatics Center (TAC) to the town to purchase the aquatics center. The majority who spoke were children – some as young as 9 years old. You couldn’t even see one girl who spoke – she was shorter than the podium. All you saw was her hand go up to grab the microphone. It was adorable. It was very encouraging to see so many children so passionate about their sport and its future in Cary. Council also received a lot of emails this week in support of the proposal. I received one email in opposition. Council will review the proposal along with all capital expenditures during the budget process beginning this month.

I also want to remind everyone about the Town of Cary’s Climate for Student Success Forum that is coming up on May 11, from 8am – 1 pm. in the Cary Town Council Chambers at 316 North Academy Street in downtown Cary.

The forum is an opportunity for local leaders to come together to discusshow municipalities can support the Wake County Public School System.Successful case studies and keynote speaker, Elaine McEwan -- thebest-selling author of 10 Traits of Highly Effective Schools -- will highlight distinguishing qualities and unique characteristics of schools that help all students make outstanding gains in performance.

We’re inviting local municipal and county government elected officials and staff, business leaders, WakeEd Partnership officials, and the general public. Your participation and voice are vital. We hope you can join us aswe discuss how to work together to cultivate a high performance schoolsystem that focuses on student achievement in every school.

Please RSVP to to reserve your seat and if you have any questions please contact

Well that’s about all for now – as always, thanks for reading and see ya next week!