Sunday, February 22, 2009

Card Check Legislation = Bad Legislation

Many of you have heard about the “Employee Free Choice Act” – otherwise known as card check legislation. I strongly oppose this legislation as it removes an employee’s right to secret ballot; and should employees decide to unionize, a business would have 120 days to agree to a contract. If an agreement cannot be reached, the government will intervene and decide what wages and benefits an employer must pay its employees.

I sent emails to and made phone calls to the following legislators to voice my opposition to this legislation – US Representatives Brad Miller and David Price and US Senators Richard Burr and Kay – I don’t know how to check voicemail - Hagan. I heard back from two; Senator Burr and Congressman Miller. David Price and Kay Hagan have yet to respond. I am unable to leave a message on Kay Hagan's phone as her mailbox if full. I have tried numerous times. Senator Burr thankfully opposes card check legislation. Representative Miller supports it. Here is an email I received from Congressman Miller:

Mr. Don Frantz
706 East Cornwall Road
Cary, NC 27511-4613

Dear Mr. Frantz:

Thank you for contacting me about the Employee Free Choice Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

While workers should not be compelled to join a union against their will, I believe that every worker must have the right to organize. Unfortunately, many workers are not guaranteed that right. Some 42 million American workers report that they would join a union if they could. However, many employers respond to organization attempts with intimidation, harassment, and retaliation.

The Employee Free Choice Act would enable workers to join unions free from employer coercion and interference. It would allow union organizers to bypass secret-ballot elections if they gather a majority of eligible employees' signatures in support of union formation. Employers would be required to accept this card-check recognition. Additionally, the bill would provide for mediation and arbitration in first contract situations and increase penalties on employers that violate workers' rights to organize. I support this legislation because it would ensure that, when a majority of employees in a workplace decide to form a union, they can do so without the obstacles employers use to block such organization.

The Employee Free Choice Act passed the House of Representatives in the 110th Congress on March 1, 2007, by a vote of 241-185. It was debated in the Senate most recently on June 26, 2007, however the Senate did not have enough votes to end debate and take a vote.

I appreciate your concerns that this bill would remove the secret ballot vote of the current process. However, because the current national law regarding union formation is violated frequently and with inadequate sanctions, I support card-check recognition. Under this bill, employers will retain the ability to ask for an election to de-certify the union if applicable. I know that your views are strongly held and I regret that we disagree on a matter that is so important to you. I welcome your views even if we do not always agree. Please contact me about other issues important to you. Thank you.


Brad Miller

Member of Congress

First allow me to say I appreciate Representative Miller's response. I appreciate it when an elected official takes the time to respond to a constituent - regardless of whether we agree or not. Unfortunately we disagree big time on card check legislation.

So how does card check work exactly you ask? Here’s an example: Let’s say Cary wants to know whether its citizens want an aquatic center (sounds familiar huh?) Anyways, Cary holds an election to see if voters approve. 1000 vote “NO”, and 600 vote “YES”. Election’s over right? Wrong. With card check there is no time limit – no election day. Pool supporters spend the next 3 months canvassing neighborhoods and lobbying their friends gathering more votes in favor until they have the 1001 “YES” votes needed to get their pool. They know how many votes they need, and they have as much time as they need to get them. Card check works the same way. The unions keep lobbying employees and collecting signed cards until they have the amount required to unionize.

Why on earth would we want to eliminate a worker’s right to secret ballot anyways? Why would we want to open up employees to union intimidation? The unions will know who has signed a card and who hasn’t – with secret ballot neither the employer nor the union know who voted yes or no. Why? Because the unions pumped millions of dollars into political campaigns this past fall - that's why.

And who on earth came up with "The Employee Free Choice Act" as the title for this legislation anyways? They oughta be in marketing instead of Washington. It's almost as bad as "The Fairness Doctrine". If I ever make it to Washington my first bill will be called "The Sunshine, Puppies, and Save the Children Act". Who wouldn't vote for that???

Bottom line – if employees are forced to work in poor conditions for peanuts they will vote to unionize. If employees are treated well they will not.

Richard Burr understands this, Brad miller doesn’t. And Kay Hagan needs to figure out how to check her voicemail so folks quit getting the “my mailbox is full” message. Geez….

Week In Review 2/16/09 - 2/21/09

Unbelievable. After a rain shortened Daytona 500 you just knew rain wouldn't be an issue going to California right? Wrong. Hopefully they can at least get the whole race in this week. Oh well, on with my week in review.

Tuesday evening I attended the third community meeting with residents of the Silverton/Silver Oaks community and Singh, the developer of a proposed project at the corner of Cary Parkway and Evans Road. At this meeting Singh presented proposals in response to neighborhood concerns identified at the previous meeting. The meeting went well and I was pleased to see how hard Singh has worked to address many of the resident’s concerns. The majority of residents indicated they were supportive of the direction Singh was heading, but as with anything the devil is in the details. Singh will work to implement a few more modifications to their plan before scheduling another meeting with the community.

I was pleased to meet with a Boy Scout this week to discuss a concern of his regarding the lack of sidewalks on the south side of Walnut Street from the Barnes and Nobles shopping center to US 1/64. While there are sidewalks on the other side of the street, crossing 4 lanes of traffic to get to them is dangerous to say the least. I will be meeting with staff to discuss this issue next week.

Our Planning and Development Committee meeting was Thursday evening. There were three topics of discussion – consideration of a tower to replace the decommissioned water tower on Kildaire Farm Road near Cary Elementary, consideration of the stormwater quality study in regards to land use scenarios in Chatham County, and creating a citizen award to honor an individual that exemplifies the “Preservation and Continuation of Traditional Small Town America” in Cary.

In my opinion the proposed tower compliments the community and fits the vision for downtown – especially the historic district - much better than the original proposal which was very modern in design and would be more at home somewhere like SAS campus. We must be very careful as we allow new projects downtown to ensure that we preserve and protect the character and charm of our historic district.

The Preservation and Continuation of Traditional Small Town America Award was an initiative suggested to me by a citizen. This citizen wanted to ensure that as Cary continues to grow into a city we remember where we came from, and honor someone who promotes small town values and culture. I am very pleased to see this move forward to council on consent.

Afterwards I attended my Wake County GOP precinct meeting at the VFW on Reedy Creek Road. I am honored to once again be elected a delegate to both the county and state party conventions.

This week the Wake County School Board finally agreed to commit to the required road improvements associated with the addition of 22 modular classrooms at Panther Creek High School. Hopefully they will submit their final site plan soon (they hadn’t as of last week) and we can get the students out of media centers and into classrooms. Thanks to Ron Margiotta and Eleanor Goettee for all their hard work on this issue. As a council member I contact school board members regularly – both Ron and Eleanor always respond when contacted. I’ll leave it at that.

Along with lots of email and preparation for our P+D committee meeting that’s about it for this week. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Week in Review 2/9/09 - 2/14/09

Monday evening I attended the Wake Young Republican’s monthly meeting in Raleigh. The highlight of the evening was former Wake County YR Chair Jonathan Bandy’s announcement of his candidacy for NC State YR Chair. I’ve known Jonathan for quite some time now and you will be hard pressed to find a more honest, harder working young man than Jonathan. I can’t think of anyone better to take over for Kim Cotton as the next Chair of the YRs. Best of luck Jonathan and thanks, Kim for everything you have done to grow the club and make the YRs a more powerful force in our party.

The Republican Party needs to get back to basics and refocus on our core values and beliefs. Republicans used to be the party of individual responsibility and liberty. We used to be the party of less government and lower taxes, yet over the last eight years the Republicans have grown government bigger than it’s ever been before and racked up a trillion dollar budget deficit in the process. How’d this happen? Republicans tried to be everything to everyone. That’s not Republican, and that’s why we have failed.

Leaders like Ronald Reagan stood firm on principle and by doing so earned the trust and respect of the American people. Leadership today seems more concerned with self preservation. It’s long past time for new leadership in the Republican Party and I believe our YRs will ultimately play an important role in providing that leadership. Thanks for letting me vent – now back to my week in review.

Tuesday council held a worksession to discuss three topics – an overview and update on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Cary, updating the Town of Cary’s Water Shortage Response Plan (WSRP), and review and discuss the expectations and planned outcome for the Site Design Standards Project.

Council’s discussion of EMS focused on the response times of both the first responders (Fire Dept.) and that of EMS, the levels of training and certification of both our first responders and EMS providers, and workload performance indicators.

In regards to updating Cary’s WSRP; as a result of the 2007-2008 drought, the NCGA approved drought management legislation that requires specific elements to be included in WSRPs, and it also requires the state Division of Water Resources (DWR) to approve WSRPs. The most significant change that needs to be made to Cary’s current WSRP as a result of the new legislation now requires municipalities to propose using the number of days remaining in their water supply allocation as the trigger for water shortage stages. Town staff is recommending we use 180 days as the first trigger. NOTE: Cary’s water supply level during the 2007-2008 drought – thanks to the sacrifices made by our citizens in an effort to conserve water - never went below 200 days. We must also solicit public comment prior to approving a revised WSRP – which we would do anyways.

The purpose of the Site Design Standards Document project is to build upon and update the existing seven design principles found in the Town-wide Design Guidelines Manual into an easy to read reference document. In November council created a Site Design Focus Group consisting of citizens, members of council and our Planning and Zoning Board, and members of the business/development community to promote greater a representation of all stakeholders involved. Consultants and town staff presented an overview of the process, initial project direction, and sought council feedback prior to moving forward. My main concern pertained to our downtown area – I do not wish to move forward with something that may ultimately be in conflict with the vision for downtown. I was assured this would not be the case.

Council members Julie Robison, Jack Smith and I met with town staff on Wednesday evening to further discuss the proposed involuntary annexations – which I have opposed from the beginning. The main points of discussion pertained to the potential changes in annexation law being considered by the NCGA and the current economic climate. It was a good meeting as I left confident that Cary would not be involuntarily annexing anybody anytime soon. I went home happy. ;-)

I had the pleasure of participating in Cary High School’s Career Day this week. I spoke to numerous students regarding the pros and cons of a career in the automotive repair and service industry – the biggest pro being that those of us in this industry are not feeling the negative effects of a bad economy as much as others are – people simply aren’t buying new cars right now and instead are choosing to hang onto that old one a little longer. I also spoke to a few students about my service on the council. Explaining how working on a 220 degree engine spewing scalding hot fluids in the middle of summer was a much less stressful than politics was pretty easy….JUST KIDDING!!!....maybe. ;-)

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Two main topics of discussion were Cary’s proposed involuntary annexations – which council unanimously decided NOT to move forward with, and whether or not council wished to again utilize Instant Run-Off Voting (IRV) in the upcoming 2009 Cary elections (the 2007 Cary elections were the first elections in NC history to use IRV and yours truly is the first candidate in NC history ever elected utilizing IRV). The Board of Elections was present and answered a number of questions, and citizens also spoke at public speaks out regarding their thoughts of IRV. Council made no decision on whether or not to move forward with IRV at this time, but everyone agreed that should Cary decide to pursue IRV for the 2009 elections council would first solicit citizen input. This was not done when council agreed to use IRV in 2007.

Council also discussed the dangerous traffic situation for vehicles exiting Panther Creek High School in the morning. Council approved an ordinance prohibiting left hand turns from the exit driveway onto McCrimmon Parkway from 6:30-8:30 am Monday through Friday. This will prohibit vehicles from crossing in front of westbound traffic on McCrimmon – the same maneuver which has resulted in all traffic accidents at this intersection. WCPSS must however agree to allow Cary to erect a no left turn sign on their property. Council also directed staff to work with WCPSS towards one of the town following solutions: the placement of traffic cones to channelize motorists into a westbound lane eliminating a left turn out of Panther Creek, or pursue private traffic control measures.

Friday morning Councilors Gale Adcock, Jennifer Robinson, and I met with citizens to further discuss details pertaining to a schools forum we are looking at hosting in the near future. More details on this to come later.

That’s about it for this week. Happy Valentines Day and thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Week in Review 2/2/09 - 2/7/09

WOO HOO!!!! NASCAR season is finally here! It’s been 3 long months but the green flag is about ready to drop to start the Bud Shootout - and next week is the Daytona 500! I always hate the void between the end of college football and Daytona – there’s simply nothing good on TV for a month.

The majority of my week focused on school related issues. On Monday Mayor Weinbrecht, Councilor Gale Adcock, town staff and I met with WCPSS board members Rosa Gill and Kevin Hill and Superintendent Del Burns to discuss the ongoing Panther Creek modular classroom issue. The majority of the meeting dealt with educating WCPSS on Cary’s land development ordinance requirements – specifically our adequate public facilities ordinance – which in all honesty was a bit frustrating since both WCPSS staff and Cary staff had already held two meetings prior to discuss. The meeting was cordial and I believe WCPSS left with a better understanding of Cary’s regulations. See previous post here for more information on this issue and a news report here.

Mayor Weinbrecht and I also attended the Wake Schools Community Alliance meeting in Holly Springs on Thursday. We were by no means the only elected officials in the audience. Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly, Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears and Councilor Hank Dickson, NC State Representative Nelson Dollar, Wake County Commissioners Tony Gurley and Paul Coble, WCPSS Board Member Ron Margiotta and Morrisville Town Councilman Tom Murry were also in attendance. The standing room only crowd of over 100 parents heard from local officials and WSCA board members regarding reassignment and the upcoming fall school board elections. It was very encouraging to see so many parents from all over the county come together with a focus on giving the school system back to the parents.

On Tuesday I sat in on the Wake County Republican Party Executive Committee meeting in Raleigh. A number of potential school board candidates were on hand and spoke regarding their vision and desire to serve on the Wake County School Board. The executive committee also recommended a few changes to the bi-laws – including the creation of a third vice chair position. The proposed changes will be voted on at the county convention.

On Thursday I met with a Cary High School student to discuss concerns regarding vehicles speeding through her neighborhood. She had originally contacted me for a civics project – students were required to contact an elected official regarding an issue of concern and submit the elected official’s response to receive a grade. I received about 15 emails from CHS students – I answered every one. This particular student however was one of only two to respond back. She was obviously more concerned about the safety of her community than her civics class grade – very impressive considering she is only 15 years old. I contacted Cary PD to request speed monitoring and increased enforcement on Griffis Street and I put her in contact with Town of Cary staff to pursue traffic calming.

I also attended the monthly meetings of the Friends of the Page Walker and the Heart of Cary Association this week. I briefly spoke at both meetings.

Well that's about it for this week - as always, thanks for reading!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Panther Creek

There has been much discussion and media attention as of late pertaining to the issue between the Town of Cary and WCPSS regarding the roadway improvements necessitated by the installation of 3 modular buildings (22 additional classrooms) at Panther Creek High School. I believe it important that everyone understand the facts and history involved - here they are:

In August of 2004 Cary approved the site plan for Panther Creek High School with a capacity of 1600 students.

Cary gives Wake County $1.4 million to help purchase the 71 acres Panther Creek High School is located on.

Cary also agrees to invest $2.5 million in roadway improvements associated with the construction of Panther Creek High School. This included the connection and widening of McCrimmon Parkway as well as the construction of two full access drives into Panther Creek High School.

At the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year enrollment at Panther Creek High School is 1498 students WITHOUT A SENIOR CLASS (capacity is 1600). WCPSS is well aware that once Panther Creek has grades 9-12 they will be over capacity and require modular/mobile classrooms. (makes you wonder why the heck we didn’t just build a bigger school doesn’t it?)

On May 16, 2008 (NEARLY 9 MONTHS AFTER THE 2007-2008 SCHOOL YEAR BEGAN) WCPSS finally submits an application to Cary for modular permits. Note: the application was dated April 23, 2008 – it took WCPSS nearly a month to deliver it to Cary. The application however was incomplete. It left out required information such as the number of modular units, classrooms, and a site plan. Cary notifies WCPSS that we need more information and waits.

On July 15, 2008 WCPSS finally submits a complete application. After town staff’s fast track review, Cary informs WCPSS that a traffic study is required due to the additional traffic generated with the addition of 22 classrooms, and that traffic improvements may also be required depending on the study’s findings.

On July 30, 2008 WCPSS submits application for a traffic study - Cary contacts traffic consultant for a price quote.

On Aug 1, 2008 quote is sent to WCPSS. (2 day turnaround)

On Aug 13, 2008 (2 weeks later) WCPSS finally pays for the traffic study and the consultant is instructed to proceed.

On Aug 27, 2008 In an effort to expedite the process Cary informs WCPSS they can move forward with the mobile unit construction with the understanding that CO's will not be issued until a commitment is made regarding roadway improvements.

During this time Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, town staff and I work to develop an arrangement that would allow WCPSS to receive their certificates of occupancy (COs) immediately. WCPSS must simply sign a bonding agreement that states they agree to make needed road improvements identified by the traffic study. WCPSS refuses to sign the agreement.

On September 9 (2 weeks after the 2008-2009 school year has started) the traffic study is completed and WCPSS is notified that the study has indicated needed traffic improvements along Highway 55 as a result of the additional traffic created due to the addition of modular classrooms (22 classrooms totaling 23,984 sq. ft.).

In November WCPSS submits a request to Cary for waiver from the required roadway improvements along Hwy 55. The request is denied by Cary’s Planning and Development Committee and then unanimously denied by Town Council at our Nov. 20 2008 meeting as it is illegal for Cary to waive the required roadway improvements. This information was conveyed to WCPSS numerous times in meetings with school board officials prior to their request coming to council. Council does however agree to extend the timeline of when WCPSS would need to begin roadway improvements to 18 months. Again, if WCPSS signs a bonding agreement they can receive their CO immediately.

WCPSS drags feet for 2 more months consulting with attorneys.

At council’s January 15, 2009 meeting at the request of Councilor Gale Adcock and myself – seeing no action on WCPSS' part – council unanimously agrees to further extend the timeframe when WCPSS must begin roadway improvements to 3 years as we are sympathetic to the school system’s financial issues given the current economy. Again, should WCPSS sign a bonding agreement committing to the roadway improvements WCPSS will receive a CO immediately.

On February 2, 2009 WCPSS officials meet with Cary officials – myself included – to further discuss Cary’s land development ordinance requirements. No resolution. I did however learn one new piece of information - WCPSS has yet to submit a final site plan.

On Feb 3, 2009 we learn that WCPSS will make an offer to Cary to fund up to $750,000 of the required improvements if Cary assumes responsibility for the remainder (roughly $750,000). Cary has yet to receive an official offer.

Now here we are – 17 months after it was crystal clear to WCPSS that Panther Creek would require mobile classroom units - with students taking class in media centers, the library, and hallways while mobile classrooms sit on site empty. Nice.

Any development or addition to development in Cary which generates over 50 peak time vehicle trips is subject to a traffic impact analysis and is responsible for traffic improvements identified in that study before COs are issued. Schools are no exception. WCPSS has tried to argue that the modular units are “temporary”, and therefore should not be subject to the same criteria as brick and mortar development. Cary’s land development ordinance does not distinguish between temporary and permanent uses, and as we are all aware, “temporary” classrooms tend to be permanent. Cary’s only legal option available to excuse WCPSS of paying for these improvements is to pay for them ourselves. Whether Cary pays or WCPSS pays these improvements must be completed by law.

Cary’s budget and financial situation is just as tight as anyone else, and while Cary has opted to bear the burden of roadway improvements associated with school development in the past, this time we are unable to do so. I also fail to see why Cary should bear the burden of WCPSS’ PPPP. What really baffles me however is that for the 2008-2009 school year Panther Creek is 500+ students OVER capacity while Cary High School is 300+ UNDER capacity.

As WCPSS' school board chair has reminded us numerous times, these are county schools – not “neighborhood” schools. And seeing that Raleigh and Morrisville children are also attending Panther Creek, this should be the county’s responsibility should it not? Why should Cary taxpayers be double taxed while those in other municipalities are not?

And in case you are wondering just what has Cary done to help the school system over the years, the answer is simple – 64 MILLION DOLLARS WORTH. That’s right folks, since 2000 Cary has provided WCPSS with over $64 million in cash, land, and infrastructure –more than any other municipality in Wake County – including Raleigh.

Frantz News – I report, you decide.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Week in Review 1/25/09 - 1/31/09

So I just got home from roller skating at JellyBeans with Liz. And since it now hurts really bad to do anything but sit perfectly still I figured it was a good time to work on the blog - not that sitting doesn’t hurt also. It does.

Along with a few small meetings, lots of email, and reviewing staff reports in preparation for Thursday’s council meeting; this week’s events included…drum roll please!

The Western Wake Republican Club held their monthly meeting this past Monday. WCPSS Board Member Ron Margiotta was the guest speaker and new club officers were sworn in by Judge Ann Marie Calabria. Congratulations to Eric Weaver who replaces John Harvilla as President. Congratulations also go out to new 1st Vice President Jacin Suskin, 2nd Vice President Ginny Huff, Treasurer David Forvendel, Secretary Brian Lehrschall, and Board Members Apex Councilman Gene Schulze, Holly Springs Councilman Vinnie DeBenedetto, Michelle Muir and Spencer Combos. Thank you to all of the outgoing officers for everything you have done to help grow the club and support conservative values and candidates.

Mayor Weinbrecht, Councilwoman Gale Adcock and I met with Interim Town Manager Ben Shivar and Engineering Director Tim Bailey this week to discuss an item pertaining to the downtown streetscape project. Afterwards I attended a historic preservation program with a focus on land use planning at the Page Walker Arts and History Center. The guest speaker was Peter Sandbeck, Administrator of the NC Historic Preservation Office. Mr. Sandbeck presented an overview of the current state of historic preservation in North Carolina, including regional case studies showing both losses and successes. Raleigh City Councilman Russ Stevenson and former Cary Councilwoman Marla Dorell were also in attendance. Historic preservation is very important to me and a big part of our downtown plans – I wasn’t about to miss this program.

Wednesday morning I attended the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s Eye Opener Breakfast at Prestonwood Country Club to hear Mayor Weinbrecht present the annual State of the Town address. Council member Jack Smith was also in attendance. The Mayor did a good job summarizing the council’s actions over the last year and also spoke to the recession and its impact on Cary.

Thursday evening was our council meeting. Prior to the council meeting council held a closed session meeting to discuss the town manager search progress. That’s all I can say regarding that meeting as it was a closed session and all discussions pertaining to the qualifications or performance of town employees or potential town employees is confidential. Our council meeting was pretty uneventful as Cary continues to feel the effects of the slumping economy. Our last council meeting had not one public hearing. This week’s council meeting had only one public hearing. There simply isn’t much development taking place these days. Now I am sure some folks would consider this great news. Heck, I’m pretty pleased growth has slowed also. But we can’t have no growth. Cary needs a healthy but manageable growth rate to help us maintain our high levels of service and quality of life while keeping taxes low.

Council did pass a resolution supporting the Metropolitan Mayor’s statements and advocacy regarding the proposed federal economic stimulus package. I voted against this resolution as I do not support the economic stimulus package. Thanks to the previous administration’s poor fiscal policy this nation already has a 1.2 trillion dollar budget deficit. The proposed stimulus package would more than double that deficit. Tax cuts combined with a massive increase in government spending is bad policy plain and simple. If you lost your job – which a lot of people have – would you run out and buy a new car? Of course not. But the federal government is; 600 million dollars worth of new cars.

We keep hearing that the stimulus package will pay for much needed infrastructure projects and create jobs. That sounds good, but according to many reports over the past couple of weeks each $40,000 a year job created by the stimulus package will cost the American taxpayers $223,000 to create. In other words, for every million dollars we spend, we create 4 jobs. Wow. Of the only 30 billion set aside in the $819 billion stimulus bill for new highway construction, only 4 billion will be spent within the next 2 years.

We are mortgaging our children's future, our grandchildren's future, and that of our grandchildren's children. This is not a good thing. We cannot borrow and spend our way to prosperity.

Well I hate to end on a down note, but that’s about it for this week in review. Thanks for reading!