Saturday, April 26, 2008

I'm Super! Thanks for Asking!

Well, OK, the GOP doesn't have super delegates....or proportional delegate distribution for that matter. But then again, that's why the Republican Party already has their Presidential nominee.

At today's North Carolina District 13 Republican Congressional Convention yours truly was elected first alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention. Gas up the truck, we're going to Minneapolis - St. Paul!

Week In Review 4/21/08 - 4/26/08

On Monday I had a meeting with key members of town staff regarding the town's budget. This year is a little different than most due to the recent property revaluations. Council has made it clear that we intend to keep our new tax rate revenue neutral - no games here. We also discussed non-profit funding....something I am struggling with.

Monday evening we taped the May edition of Cary Matters. I was this month's host and my guest was Mayor Pro Tem Julie Robison. While the taping took a bit longer than anticipated, I believe all in all it will be a very informative show. Our topics included our state legislative agenda, sidewalks, and an aquatics update. If the show stinks it's my fault - I wrote the script. If the show rocks, well that's because I'm such a great script writer! :-)

Tuesday evening council had another work session on mixed use development. The main focus of this meeting was to discuss changes relating to the mixed use development approval process. A mixed use sketch plan, after an initial neighborhood meeting that has always been required, will now go to the Planning and Zoning Board before coming to council. If the P+Z board approves of the plan, they can then send it to council for final vote. Should P+Z not approve of the plan they will now have two options - 1) send the plan to a community workshop where the applicant and adjoining landowners/residents can work to improve it, or 2) deny it. Should the plan go to the community workshop, it would then go back to the P+Z board once again before coming to council for decision. I have mixed emotions on this one.... I guess we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday evening councilman Jack Smith and I met with key staff members regarding the downtown street scape project. I am very pleased with how this project is moving along, although it turns out right-of-way acquisition will take longer than expected. One suggestion I did have however dealt with finding additional ways to fund the project. There will be a lot of bricks used in the construction of the town square. Everyone has heard of those buy-a-brick programs where you purchase a brick, and your family or business name is engraved on it prior to placement right? Well, it sounded like a good idea to me.

After our street scape meeting we hustled over to the Mathews House on Chatham Street for the annual Cary Chamber of Commerce Elected Officials Reception. Numerous elected officials were in attendance....which required bumping the thermostat down to 60 degrees because of all the hot air in the building. ;-) This was a very fun event and thanks to all who worked so hard to make it a success.

Thursday evening was our council meeting, and I already blogged that so nuff said there.

Friday, believe it or not, was a free day!.....unless you count working my day job from 7-6. ;-)

Thursday's Council Meeting 4-24-08

I had the honor of presenting a proclamation to members of the Wake County Gang Prevention Partnership proclaiming May as "Youth Gang Awareness and Prevention Month in Cary". The partnership's mission is to prevent youth gang activity and violence in Wake County through community mobilization, opportunities provision, social intervention, gang suppression, and organizational change and development. I think we can all agree that it is better to be proactive than reactive in regards to gangs, and I am proud of our town for participating in this organization.

Council members Jack Smith and Erv Portman were appointed regular members of the Wake County Growth Issues Task Force, and yours truly was appointed as the alternate member. Council also appointed Carla Sadtler to fill the vacant ETJ seat on our Planning and Zoning Board.

Council also received a presentation from the newly created Issues Advisory Task Force. This task force was created by council to create a framework and process by which citizens can petition the Town to allow them to formally meet as a group on a particular topic, and to expand, strengthen and improve citizen engagement and participation in local government, as well as provide a mechanism for greater visibility of citizen initiated issues to Town Council. This group, consisting of Cary citizens appointed by council did an awesome job and should be commended for their work. I am very interested to see how the task force's recommendations play out over the next year or two. Greater citizen participation is a goal of all of council and I am optimistic this groups recommendations will foster just that.

The only real issue of the evening related to an amendment to the Highland Village Planned Development District (PDD), and the associated funding request of this project. DHIC (a low income housing developer) requested to ammend their previously approved PDD to increase the total number of residential units from 258 to 278 and remove the ownership requirement for the multi-family units. In other words, the applicant was requesting to change the 60 owner occupied condominiums already approved to 80 age restricted rental apartments. And oh ya, they were also requesting another $170,000 loan from the town to help pay for addition to the $1,082,000 Cary has already contributed to this project.

Don't get me wrong, I believe the more age restricted housing we can bring to Cary the better. There is truly a market for this type of development in Cary, and the impact of this type of development to our school system is nil. My concerns were how this development would fit into the overall vision for downtown Cary, and what effect would the increase in low income rental would have on the downtown community. The age restriction would only be in effect for 15 years - what happens after that? And if there is a healthy market for senior rental housing, why do we need to help pay for it?

The vote was 6-1 to approve. I was the lone "no" vote on both the requested amendment, and the associated funding request. Not the first time the vote was 6-1, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's About Time!

Danica Patrick, in her 50th career Indy Car start wins in Japan.

Congratulations Danica!

Week In Review #2

It was a busy week, but a good week. Their were numerous meetings with citizens, elected officials, town staff and members of the business community.

Tuesday was fun. While I already spoke about the meeting the Cary Council had with WCPSS in an earlier post, I also had the honor and privilege of presenting a proclamation to Cary's telecomunicators (the folks who pick up the phone when you call 911) proclaiming April 13th - 19th Telecomunicator's Week in Cary. The security and safety of our citizens, our police officers, fire, and emergency personnel are dependent on these folks ability to do their job calmly and quickly. They do just that. As someone who has had to call 911 a time or two - and as someone who has had the opportunity to watch these folks in action - their dedication and service to our community is priceless.

On Wednesday I met with an individual who lives in "old Cary" (inside the Maynard Loop) and we discussed the growing issue of rental decline in town, and what we as a council are doing to address the issue. As someone who lives inside the Maynard Loop this issue hits close to home for me. Over the last couple of months I have been working with town staff on ways the town can better address this very problem. And I must say it's been awesome to have such a dedicated and hard working staff to work with. It is long past time we hold deadbeat landlords accountable for their properties. Better policing and enforcement, new ordinances, and penalties for repeat offenders are just some of the things we are working on.

Thursday night was our P+D committee meeting (no issues and minutes from that meeting can be found here). And I also attended the Western Wake Republican Club Spring Fling event. There were numerous candidates in attendance for the U.S House of Representatives, NC State House and Senate, Judicial seats, as well as representatives from the gubernatorial campaigns.

Friday morning was council's breakfast meeting at Courtney's Restaurant. Of the topics that we discussed, the one that got the most discussion was whether the town should look into taking over maintenance of sections of state roads such as Cary Parkway since the state clearly isn't handling their responsibility. Then again, when the state raids the highway trust fund to balance the budget every year, how can they? Yep, time for "change" alright. ;-)

Saturday evening I had the honor of attending the Cary Community Foundation's Black and White Gala. What a wonderful evening this was, and kudos to Cary Town Council member Jennifer Robinson and all the folks at CCF and sponsors for making this a night to remember. It is amazing what can happen when citizens and business leaders come together for the betterment of the community.

Well that's it for now - Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tastes Great! Less Filling!

Even our water is better!

...."The water from OWASA, which serves Chapel Hill and Carrboro, had a mineral aftertaste and felt a little heavy on the tongue. Raleigh's water had an earthiness that one taster really liked, while another described it as reminiscent of swimming hole water, like when you go for a dip in a lake and inadvertently get a mouthful. Oddly, the water from Garner tasted more processed and milky, even though it had been through the same treatment system as the Raleigh water.
Offerings from Johnston County and Durham both smacked of chemicals and seemed lighter on the tongue, almost disappearing before we could swallow them. Durham water was especially pungent, with overtones of swimming pool that were off-putting.

The water from Cary, wouldn't you know it, most closely approached the ideal. It had no chemical taste and no mineral taste. It did not feel overly heavy on the tongue, but didn't disappear as if it were trying to slip by before you really tasted it either. It was clean and crisp and refreshing."

Cary Rocks!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A meeting of the minds.....maybe. ;-)

Yesterday evening members of the Cary Council and town staff, Morrisville Commissioners, and Fuquay Varina Council met with WCPSS officials for a presentation and update related to facilities and the Wake County Board of Education work plan. I went into this meeting expecting it to be all presentation, and little discussion. I was wrong. In fact, it turned out to be mostly discussion, and very little presentation.

We discussed at-large elections, taxing authority/taxes, bonds, capacity, busing, renovations and future planning/funding.

Cary Councilman Erv Portman, the most outspoken of the group ;-), spoke to his concerns regarding capacity and trailers. He made many good points, and I mostly agreed with him. Where we disagreed however was with how much of a problem is a result of capacity, and how much of a problem is a result of the school board's policy of busing for socioeconomic diversity.

Don't get me wrong - I hate trailers as much as the next guy. But there is no data that shows a child actually learns less in a trailer than in a brick and mortar building. None. What's really important is what's going on inside that classroom. "Most" Cary families I have spoken to have no problem with their child sitting in a trailer - so long as their child doesn't have to give up their seat at their "neighborhood school" so someone from 45 minutes away can sit in it.

Makes sense to me.

All in all it was a good discussion, and it is my hope that we have many more meetings like this one in the future.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dollars and Sense?

Interesting article in today's Charlotte Observer regarding CMS and WCPSS administration and teacher salaries. Turns out WCPSS has 99 employess making six figure salaries. None of them is a teacher.

Related article:

Week In Review

One of the reasons I started this blog was to give you an idea of what I actually do as a member of the town council. Well, in a nutshell it's lot's of meetings with citizens, interest groups, elected officials and members of town staff, email....TONS of email, worksessions, and ultimately making policy decissions at public meetings. This week was actually kinda light....and it couldn't have happened at a better time ;-)

Monday night was our council meeting - I already spoke to that earlier so enough said there.

On Tuesday I attended NC Senator Richard Stevens' campaign kick-off event at Cafe' Luna in downtown Raleigh. I've had the pleasure of knowing Senator Stevens for a few years now and I have always been impressed with the job he has been doing in the legislature over the last 6 years - and apparantly I'm not the only one because the place was packed! Not only was this a very fun event, but it provided a nice opportunity to speak to our state legislators in attendence regarding issues pertaining to Cary, and our state's legislative agenda.

Wednesday I met with citizens regarding an issue in their neighborhood, and on Thurday I met with a great guy named George - last name witheld to protect the innocent :-) He's a downtown resident and activist. We met at Mac's Tavern (great place for a meeting btw!) and talked downtown (one of my favorite subjects). Meeting with citizens is important to me - it helps me stay in touch and truly understand their perspective on the issue(s) - but meeting with them over a beer is even better. ;-)

On Saturday I attended the Grand Opening of Second Chance Pet Adoptions on Highway 54, and participated in their ribbon cutting ceremony (it was actually yarn though....cats - get it?). Great people and a wonderful facility. If any of you reading this are looking for an animal to adopt - check this place out. And on Saturday Night I was at the Cary High School IMP Club reverse raffle fundraiser. I didn't win the car again.....go figure.

Today I am bloggin, and working on the script for the May edition of Cary Matters. I've never written anything for TV before so this oughta be good.....I think.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Monday's Council Meeting

The council meeting Monday was an interesting one to say the least.

I expected impact fees and the mayors agreement on climate change to be an issue for discussion - but not our state's legislative agenda. That language was worked out weeks in advance, and all councilors had plenty of opportunity to air their concerns. So much for not blind siding folks I guess.

Council raised water and sewer impact fees - but we held the line on transportation impact fees (TDF's); fees that in my opinion are already too high when compared to neighboring municipalities. How high you ask? Here are a few examples of Cary's TDF's versus other municipalities. (source 4/7/2008 staff report - )

TDF's for a 150,000 square foot office building in the following muni's:
Cary: $274,950
Raleigh: $112,950
Holly Springs: $2,000
Durham: $928 (no that's not a typo)

TDF's for a 2500 sq. ft. home in the follwing muni's:
Cary: $1243
Raleigh: $528
Holly Springs:$1000
Durham: $590

In this councilor's opinion, our commercial fees are way out of line, and I have concerns that Cary is pricing itself out of the market. If I were a business owner (which I am) looking to build in the region, would impact fees be a factor in my decision of which municipality I chose to build in? Absolutely. Commercial development does not impact our schools, provides a healthy tax base to our town, and provides jobs for our citizens. We should be - to quote one councilor - "incentivising" commercial development, not discouraging it.

My concerns with the US Mayors Climate Change Agreement have nothing to do with being good stewards of the environment. Cary has been, and will continue to be a leader in this regard. My concerns deal with the agreement's endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol - legislation that the US congress voted 95-0 against out of fear of crippling the US economy. Kyoto also gives "developing countries" such as China (China seems pretty developed to me) a free pass to continue to pollute, while it could cost the U.S. 400+ billion dollars and 4.6 million jobs. China is the world's largest polluter and emits more greenhouse emissions that the U.S., the EU, and Japan combined.

Cary is already doing most everything the Mayor's agreement calls for - we're even doing things it doesn't. So signing this agreement - in my opinion - was nothing but feel good political fluff.

Oh well, ya win some, ya lose some.

test post

Whahoo! My first ever post to my blog - I hope this works!
Special thanks to Kelly for hooking me up with this - You rock!