Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week in Review 3/21/10 - 3/28/10

On Tuesday afternoon I had two meetings: Cary’s State Legislative Committee meeting and our Town Council Meeting.

Cary’s State Legislative Committee members this year are Mayor Weinbrecht, Council Member Adcock and myself. We reviewed a number of topics but most of the discussion centered around two items in particular; public financing of municipal elections and annexation.

The committee discussed whether or not Cary should add support of HB120 – which is currently still in committee - to our legislative agenda. This legislation would grant municipalities with a population of 50,000 residents or greater the authority to use public financing (taxpayer funded) for municipal elections. Just so we are clear, if HB120 were to become law it does not mean that Cary would automatically begin utilizing public campaign financing. Cary would still have to hold a public hearing and then decide for ourselves if this is right for us.

I adamantly oppose public financing of municipal elections for the following reasons:

· A citizen’s tax dollars could be used to fund a candidate’s campaign that citizen would not otherwise support.
· It would not prevent outside interest groups from continuing to spend money on the candidate(s) of their choice. They just could not give directly to the candidate.
· We might not get a true read on citizen support at the public hearing (all committee members acknowledged this at our meeting). We witnessed this during the IRV debate. Only elections advocates such as the League of Women Voters or Fairvote came to speak.
· We have much more important items to spend tax dollars on.
· Money doesn’t buy you love. The following municipal elections results prove this.

In 2007, Harold Weinbrecht spent roughly $60,000 in his bid for Mayor. The incumbent Mayor Ernie McAlister spent nearly $200,000. McAlister lost.

In 2007, Durham Mayor Bill Bell spent $52,000 in his bid for reelection. Challenger Thomas Stith spent nearly $200,000. Stith lost.

In 2007, Cary Councilman Nels Roseland spent nearly $38,000 in his bid for reelection. Challenger Vickie Maxwell spent roughly $12,000. I spent $8,000. I won.

The committee agreed to not place this item on our legislative agenda.

The committee also discussed whether or not to support the North Carolina League of Municipalities Legislative Agenda and Wake County’s Joint Legislative Agenda. I opposed both of these given the League’s position on annexation, and that Wake County’s Joint Legislative Agenda also includes support of the League’s agenda. I believe we need comprehensive annexation reform in North Carolina. You can read more about my position on annexation here.

The committee also unanimously recommended including the request to exclude municipal email listserv databases from being classified as public information. This would hopefully prevent folks from requesting the town’s email list of thousands of citizens for the sole purpose of spamming them. To be clear, we are only requesting that the email addresses themselves not be classified as public information – not actual emails or other public information.

After our Legislative Committee Meeting was our Council Meeting. Notable discussion items included:

· The approval of a special use permit, annexation, and site plan for a church to be constructed at 910 Twyla Road
· Designation of the Old Carpenter Farm Supply Store on Morrisville-Carpenter Road as a Historic Landmark
· Consideration of Cary’s first Historic Preservation Master Plan. Council forwarded this to our Planning and Zoning Board for review.
· Approval of a request by Mayor Weinbrecht and myself to amend Policy 123 regarding guidelines for Cary’s Government Access Channel. You can read more about this issue here. Council decided to create a blackout period that prevents council members from appearing on Town of Cary programming such as the CaryMatters TV show or BudTV 90 days before their general election.

I met with a citizen on Wednesday to discuss his interest in becoming more involved in government; possibly to include a run for office one day. I spoke about the responsibilities of a council member, the time commitment and rigors of running a campaign. I encourage everyone to become more involved in their government and will gladly speak with anyone interested in doing so.

On Thursday I had the privilege of speaking with two 3rd grade civics classes at Saint Michael the Archangel School about local government. The students were very bright and asked a number of great questions. This was a lot of fun and I hope they invite me back.

Thursday evening I attended the “What’s Up Downtown” event at Havana Grill on Chatham Street in downtown Cary. It was great to see so many downtown friends and Heart of Cary Association members. I didn’t have very far to travel either as Havana Grill is right next door to Frantz Automotive. ;-)

On Saturday I had the honor of officially kicking off the Miracle League of the Triangle’s spring baseball season by throwing out the first pitch. The Miracle League provides children with special needs, regardless of their disability the opportunity to play baseball. The Miracle League was started by Robin Rose and Tony Withers, who after seeing an HBO special about a similar program in Georgia, believed the same could be done here in the triangle. A board of directors was soon formed and over $750,000 was raised to cover the costs of field construction and programming. Kenny Moore, owner of Andy’s Restaurants donated $250,000 towards the program. The field is named Andy’s Field in his honor.

The Miracle League has come a long way from the first game held in the Adams Elementary School parking lot with 40 kids. Today the program serves 258 kids and fields 20 teams. They will soon be looking to add a second field to further provide for the special needs children in our region.

The Miracle League is always looking for volunteers and sponsors. Please consider helping out by volunteering your time or donating today.

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