Sunday, July 22, 2012

My neck, The James Jones House, The Council Vacancy and Politics

The last few weeks have been rough. Back in April I had surgery to fuse three vertebras in my neck; I had two herniated discs that were wreaking havoc on a nerve and causing tremendous pain. Well, everything was doing fine until I started to experience the same pain again, only this time on my left side. The doc gave me some anti-inflammatory meds and in about a week, the pain was gone. Yay! Or so I thought. A few days later the pain came back with a vengeance on my right side and my hand was numb. Nice. We tried meds again with no luck before sending me for another MRI. I was on the operating table the next day. Turned out I had another damaged disc that was pushed into my spine causing all kinds of problems. Here is the MRI image where you can see the disc pushed into my spine. Hurt like hell….

I’m back at home now doing the best I can to rest and heal. The majority of nerve pain is gone and I am starting to feel most of my hand and fingers. My neck and throat are sore from the surgery, but that’s to be expected and it gets better each day. It will be a while before all the feeling returns to my hand and I regain arm strength, but I can deal with that. The pain, not so much.

Thanks so much to everyone who has called, emailed or stopped by to express your concerns. Your thoughts and prayers mean the world to me.

The next day I had a Planning and Development Committee meeting and then interviews with the five candidates for the vacant council seat.

The Planning and Development Committee meeting was light with the only discussion item being consideration of a resolution authorizingthe lease of the James Jones House at the corner of Academy and Dry to Lawrence Coffee and Bar LLC. The resolution passed unanimously.

In a nutshell the town will commit $150,000 to restore and make improvements to the historic James Jones House, and Lawrence Coffee and Bar LLC agrees to lease the property at a tiered rate for five years. The lease agreement totals $139,794, nearly the entire cost of renovations…which the town would have made to this historic property regardless.

Lawrence Coffee and Bar LLC will operate Larry’s Beans out of the house. Larry’s Beans serves wines, local beers, local kombucha (a fermented tea), cocoas and craft sodas, as well as sandwiches and salads.  The business will operate from 7:00 AM through 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday and 8:00 AM through 7:00 PM on weekends.  This schedule may be adjusted in conjunction with special events at the Cary Arts Center.  They will also employ 15 persons.

This is a wonderful use for the historic James Jones House and I wish them all the best in their efforts, and truth be told I also look forward to a great coffee shop on my route to work each morning! ;-)

Afterwards the council met for candidate interviews for the vacant council seat. We split into two groups of three and spent 20 minutes interviewing each of the five candidates. It was kind of like speed dating.

I have to say that all five of the candidates are extraordinary people; each with different skills, talents and backgrounds to offer; and all of which would be valuable to have on the council and to the town. Each of them have also served on our Cary’s Planning and Zoning Board, as well as other boards and commissions and are very familiar with town operations and departments. This is important to me as I am looking for a candidate that hit the ground running and need little time to adjust to their new role.

Council members are to now pick our top 2-3 candidates and we’ll see who gets the most votes and go from there. I know who my first and second choices are, but I’m still torn on who to pick for my third choice. Like I said, they are all extraordinary people – this is not an easy decision. We have a worksession scheduled for the 31st and we hope to make our selection then.

I want to thank each and every one of the 59 Cary citizens who applied to serve. Cary is one of the greatest communities to live in largely because of citizens like you; people who care enough to give back and volunteer their talents to make our community an even better place to live, work and raise a family. We are so blessed.

I also spent a great deal of time this past week reviewing citizen applications for all of our boards and commissions before submitting my recommendations to Deputy Town Clerk, Karen Gray. The council will further discuss the applicants at an upcoming worksession.

I want to take a minute to talk politics, and about my involvement with the Romney for President Campaign.
About a month ago we hosted a press conference on behalf of the Romney campaign at our business along with NC Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis and Dr. Jim Fulghum to discuss the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and more specifically, the small business community’s concerns with the fiscal and regulatory impacts of the act. I have also met with Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and North Carolina’s own Richard Burr for a business roundtable discussion about small business issues and concerns and the need for regulatory and tax reform at the federal level.

I am helping the Romney campaign because I am angry with what I see as nothing short of an assault on private business and free enterprise from our federal government and our President. I am done with being demonized by a President hell bent on turning public opinion against us – the job creators. And I am sick of hearing that all us “rich” small business owners aren’t “paying our fair share”, or that we somehow owe our success to the government. If anything we’ve managed to succeed despite government.
What the hell happened anyways? There used to be a time when we looked up to successful people – we aspired to be them. Now we are told they are evil.  I don’t get it.
Along with Governor Romney, I will be supporting those candidates who value the contributions of small business to our economy and our communities. I will be helping candidates who understand and appreciate entrepreneurs who take a huge financial risk and work endless hours starting and running their businesses. I will be speaking out about issues of concern in the business community, and I will be contributing both time and money to those candidates who believe in free enterprise and individual responsibility.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone as it was an attack on business – to include our business - that got me involved in politics in the first place. And ever since then, whether as a small business owner, a Cary Town Councilman, a member of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) NC Leadership Council or the Cary Chamber of Commerce, I have continued to work to help the business community.
After all, the number one indicator of one’s quality of life is a paycheck.
If you don’t have a good job, there’s a pretty good chance your quality of life stinks. I don’t want your life to stink. :-)
You may disagree with me and that is fine. We can agree to disagree. I encourage everyone to get involved and support those candidates who best represent your values.
That's all for now. As always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

June 28, 2012 Council Meeting

The first order of business was to recognize retiring councilwoman Julie Robison. Julie and her family are moving to West Virginia as Julie’s husband, Dan has been named the Dean of the college of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design at West Virginia University. We all took turns saying our “goodbyes” and talked about what we would remember most about Julie. I talked about how I first met Julie about 10 years ago during the whole downtown auto issue, and that I and business owners throughout downtown are forever grateful for her efforts to help us fight city hall and save our businesses. We also surprised her by naming the volleyball courts at North Cary Park after her.

The council approved the creation of Cary’s first ever Business Improvement District (BID) in downtown. While BIDs are usually created to generate revenue (special tax district), our purpose for creating the BID is to provide the legal mechanism necessary to allow the town to mitigate impact fees associated with private development. Unlike most cities, Cary’s BID actually reduces fees on businesses, and hopefully will incent additional private investment in our downtown. The BID will exist for three years unless the council chooses to extend it.

The council also unanimously approved the FY2013 budget. The budget totals $232 Million and includes:

·         Tax Rate of 33 cents unchanged – lowest in Wake County

·         Garbage fees unchanged at $14.00 month

·         6% Utility fee increase to pay for the state mandated Western Wake Water Reclamation Facility

·         No New Debt for general capital projects

·         Seven new town employees – 4 related to WWWRF, 1 Detective, 1 Downtown Theater

This was a tough year. The economic recession continues to impact growth and revenues and ultimately, our budget. Their simply wasn’t any extra money to do some of the things we wanted to do.

The adopted budget is responsible as it continues to provide the high levels of services that Cary citizens expect at the lowest possible cost to you, the taxpayer.

During the November Election, Cary citizens will have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not we move forward with a number of transportation, parks, and public safety projects that we could not include in this year’s budget.

And last but certainly not least, the Town of Cary and Chatham County have approved a joint land use plan and interlocal agreement! Any new development within the Cary/Chatham plan boundaries must conform to this plan, and any changes to the plan must be approved by both the Chatham County Commissioners and the Cary Town Council. The plan strikes a good balance between folk’s rights to develop their properties, the rights of others to not be negatively impacted by that development and protecting our environment. The plan limits densities and utility services as you move closer to Jordan Lake to better protect water quality while also preserving the rural character and charm of Chatham County.

I have to say I never thought I’d see the day when both Cary and Chatham County would agree on a plan. I remember former (thank goodness) Chatham County Commissioners coming to Cary Council meetings to tell Cary to “stay the hell out of Chatham County”. Many thanks to the staffs of both Chatham and Cary for all their hard work, and to the Cary/Chatham Committee members for all their efforts. This was truly a team effort and a great example of cooperation between communities

Help Wanted:

I spent a great deal of time this weekend going over statements of interest and qualifications for the vacant at-large council seat; all 59 of them. This is not going to be an easy decision as there are a lot of extraordinary and highly qualified individuals to choose from.

We have our first council worksession on the vacancy this coming Tuesday where we hope to whittle the list down to a manageable number for interviews. Following the interview process we will meet again to hopefully pick our newest council member.