Monday, August 17, 2009

Week in Review 8/10/09 - 8/14/09

This past week I met with a small business owner in our downtown area and members of our town staff to discuss their concerns relating to our town’s sign ordinance. They recently opened up a small scooter sales and service business and would like to place a couple of scooters out front near the road to better advertise their new business. Sounds reasonable – especially considering there are numerous used car dealers in the area who display their vehicles for sale near the road. After meeting with staff it appears a minor change to the business owner’s site plan from retail to vehicle sales may be all that is needed to correct this concern.

On Monday evening I attended the Wake County Young Republican’s monthly meeting in Raleigh. Our guest speaker was Lenny McAlister, author of “Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative)” and contributor to numerous media outlets such as Fox News and CNN.

Tuesday evening council held a worksession to review and discuss the town manager’s update on boards and commission’s structure and action plans, council operating procedures, and council communications.

Wednesday I spent the better part of the day reviewing staff reports and our agenda for Thursday evening’s council meeting before heading to the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Dinner. The Chamber’s Leadership Dinner is an annual event which brings local, state, and federal officials together for an evening of networking and an opportunity to discuss issues facing our state and region. The highlight – or lowlight depending on your perspective – was when Congressman Brad Miller attempted to turn the event into a health care town hall (which was a bit odd considering the congressman has refused to hold a town hall on health care “out of fear for his safety” - reality is he had scheduled no town halls to start with). Anyways, halfway into his comments an elected official’s wife began to question Mr. Miller’s statements. Brad Miller immediately went on the defensive and began spewing typical pro-government health care statistics and talking points. (NOTE: when politicians resort to quoting statistics when making their argument it’s a good indication they have no real knowledge of the issue). The discussion quickly became heated as others, including her husband, joined in until Chamber officials intervened and asked folks to finish this discussion some other time.

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Notable discussion topics included whether or not to officially sanction a group to study allowing chickens in Cary town limits and report back to council (council denied the request), a decision to award $75,000 in financial incentives to Deutsche Bank to locate a technology development center in town, council’s decision to support a shared sick leave program for town of Cary employees, and a very lengthy closed session to discuss a number of legal issues facing the town.

While I am thrilled that Deutsche Bank is coming to Cary and creating 300 jobs, I voted against granting Deutsche Bank $75,000 in financial incentives as I believe Cary’s high quality of life, our highly educated workforce, and our proximity to RTP, the airport, and numerous educational institutions are already incentive enough. What really makes me sick however is that North Carolina – who is in a budget crisis and cut education funding statewide by 10% - is granting Deutsche Bank $9.4 million in incentives. In Wake County alone our school system is losing over $21 million in state funding and a number of teachers have lost their jobs, $600,000 has been cut from the Sheriff’s dept. budget, and the state is even withholding $500,000 in ABC store revenue from the county in an effort to balance their budget – yet they can somehow magically find $9.4 million for Deutsche Bank….amazing.

Council directed staff to develop a shared sick leave program for Town of Cary employees and bring back to council for decision. Should council approve of the program it would most likely take effect during next year’s budget process.

I spent a good deal of time this week responding to email and speaking with citizens regarding a number of issues such as the Red Letter House on Maynard Road, Flooding concerns in the downtown area, chickens, and the Dorothy Drive Park and Stream Restoration project.

And in all that free time I have ;-) I also worked on a number of candidate’s campaigns for this fall’s municipal and school board elections. I realize that some of you might not be pleased with my involvement in political campaigns given my position as an elected official. While I am an elected official I am a citizen first and foremost and have the same rights as anyone else. I believe it’s long past time our governments started working for us instead of us working for it and I will continue to do anything and everything I can to help those candidates who I believe will work hard for the citizens of Cary, Wake County, and of our state. I encourage you to do the same. We get what we elect.

Well that’s about it for this week in review. I doubt I will post next week as I am leaving for California on Friday for my 20th High School reunion. I am really looking forward to seeing all my old friends and the neighborhood I grew up in. I haven’t been back in 15 years. I am sure a lot has changed. Thanks for reading!