Saturday, January 2, 2010

Last Week in Review of 2009

Sorry for not posting in the last couple of weeks but we’ve been traveling a bit lately to see family and friends for Christmas and to watch our son Jordan and UCF play Rutgers in the St. Petersburg Bowl.

Council held a worksession with town staff on Dec. 15 to discuss capital projects and next year’s budget. After a review of recommended projects we agreed to postpone or eliminate $89 million in capital projects to reduce debt and spending and avoid a tax increase. Cary has seen a significant reduction in revenue as a result of the down economy and there just simply isn’t enough money to do all the things Cary has planned to do. We are working hard to craft a budget that focuses on priorities and continues to provide the levels of services our citizens demand at the lowest possible cost and without raising taxes. Families across the country have had to tighten their belts and adjust – their government should be no different.

Well I think that at this point unless you live under a rock you’ve heard about the great Christmas Tree controversy in Cary. Let me assure you there is no controversy folks. But thanks largely in part to some media outlets trying to make the news rather than report it there has been quite a bit of misinformation spread about resulting in a lot of angry folks.

Let me begin by saying that I know of no time in our town's history that the town "officially" called our Christmas Tree(s) a Christmas Tree. According to town staff for the last 25 years it has always been called a "holiday tree" or "community tree". No one is currently trying to remove Christ or Christmas from the town’s holiday celebrations. Someone 25 years ago might have been (or was), but not now.

However, while I do appreciate the town's efforts over the last 25 years to be all inclusive during our holiday celebrations, I feel that in our efforts to not offend anyone we have succeeded at offending nearly everyone.

A tree decorated with lights and ornaments during the Christmas season is a Christmas Tree. It's neither a Holiday tree nor a community tree. To call it anything else would be like calling the Jewish Menorah a candelabra. It is as much a part of our culture and tradition as it is our faith.

I along with Councilman Jack Smith have asked the council to consider calling Cary’s tree lighting ceremony the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, and to call the tree inside town hall Cary’s Community Christmas Tree.

I believe the majority if not all of council will support our request.

I apologize for all the media attention this issue has received. That was not my intent. As a matter of fact I intentionally requested the council discuss this in January as to not be a distraction from this year’s holiday celebrations. In hindsight I maybe should have waited until May to bring this forward, but regardless it’s the right thing to do and I believe the overwhelming majority of citizens agree. I’ve received well over 100 emails on this – I can count the number of those who support the current practices on one hand.

It was an honor and a privilege to attend Cary Fire Chief Don Daniels’ retirement luncheon this past week. Don has dedicated the last 38 years of his life to serving and protecting Cary’s citizens. He is truly an amazing man. It was a lot of fun hearing from current and former town employees about their experiences in working with Don over the years. Man how things have changed in 38 years! I wish him all the best as he begins a new chapter in his book of life.

Well that’s about all for now. Happy New Year and as always, thanks for reading!