Time not only heals all wounds, it enables all amnesia. A classic example of OPie amnesia can be found in how local “environmentalists” can be “for” a dense growth development alongside an ecologically sensitive stream basin and also “against” the same development. All it takes is time and a familiarity with invertebrates.
On 26 August 2008 the Carrboro Boa will consider easing the impervious surface rules for the failed “mixed use” village real estate development called “Winmore”. Founded on a bed of misperceptions, the Winmore project had the highest density allowed in Carrboro at the time, yet was located on top of the most ecologically sensitive stream basin in Carrboro, Bolin Creek, home to rare salamander invertebrates. Despite objections from all adjacent neighborhoods, the Boa approved Winmore.
Five years after public approval, Winmore still has no retail or commercial development, barely having any residential development. Instead of houses costing on average about $300,000, the housing in Winmore starts well over $500,000 and exceeds $1,000,000.
The reason for making one more environmental excuse for Winmore is to allow a day care center at Winmore. The request comes not from the developer team that got the original Winmore approval, but from Capkov Ventures Inc., who bought the development approvals as a wrapped gift package from the friends of the Boa developer team that made all the original broken promises to the Boa in order to get Winmore approval. In typical Boa fashion, the request is simply to exempt day care centers from being counted in making impervious surface calculations. For environmental purposes, day care centers will not exist in determining environmental impact in Carrboro mixed use villages, even if the reality is that their existence harms the environment.
The local media reports that Mr. Dave Otto, chair of the Friends of Bolin Creek micro interest “environmental” advocacy group, is going to speak out against allowing the day care center exemption. Today, Mr. Otto (as quoted by the N&O) says, ”A mixed-use development never should have been approved in this location in the first place”.
Curiously, the local media doesn’t quote Mr. Otto from a puff piece done only about a year earlier to prop up Winmore. In Mr. Otto’s 2007 words, in 2003 he thought Winmore was “[T]oo close to Bolin Creek… Our original thought was that they could've done this farther from Bolin Creek. But now that it's been approved, now that it's here, we think they did a good job.” Mr. Otto is described as “one of the supporters at a ribbon-cutting off Homestead Road”. He is also quoted as praising, ”They've built an incredibly beautiful nature trail around the periphery of the property. People that enjoy nature will be able to enjoy a beautiful nature trail right outside their doorstep.” Mr. Otto carefully ignores the clear cutting of the last mature hardwood forest on Bolin Creek at Winmore, a clearcutting in clear violation of the Boa approval which “required” saving almost a hundred specimen trees.
So which is it? Is Mr. Otto for Winmore or against Winmore being built?
Pulp readers are familiar with having to dig deeper when land developers and progressive politicians are bedfellows.
Mr. Otto didn’t really object to Winmore at the public hearings in May 2003. According to official town minutes, Mr. Otto “, on behalf of the Friends of Bolin Creek, was sworn in. He expressed concern that this development will be approved prior to the Bolin Creek Corridor Master Plan. He stated that they support the idea of establishing a nature park in the Bolin Creek corridor and the conservation easement to protect the natural characteristics of this corridor, but that other features of the proposal such as rezoning for denser development and plans for storm water management require further study and review before the plan is approved.” Mr. Otto did not call for Boa members to vote against approving Winmore, i.e., he did not object to Winmore.
So which is it? Is Mr. Otto for Winmore or against Winmore being built?
Apparently, Mr. Otto is for protecting his own backyard from the intense development that he allowed to get built at Winmore. If a day care center can be made to vanish, then perhaps an automobile road bridge can be made to do so as well.
Mr. Otto lives here (see arrow):
Pulp readers can see that he lives in a Carrboro (in pink) residential neighborhood) right near a road stub out. That stub out, built far beyond the necessary carrying capacity of Mr. Otto’s now cul de sac, is shown on future road plans as being eventually connected to Seawell School Road by a bridge over Bolin Creek and a small patch of road (both in green). Mr. Otto’s road was approved and built to connector road standards, far beyond the needs of his neighborhood. The future proposed bridge will connect a high volume of traffic from a future Carolina North UNC research park mainly in Chapel Hill (blue) to Carboro’s historic business district. Any easing of environmental protections for Bolin Creek at Winmore can be used to justify building the bridge.
As witnessed also by the failure of now Commish Bernadette Pelissier to rise to a challenge to speak out agaisnt environmental racism, backbones are not required for “protecting” the invertebrate environment of Carrboro.
Local Orange Progressives are famous for the “I can justify anything I want” mindset. A stunning demostration has recently been given by local political expert Ms. Ruby Sinreich. At the same time that she condemns an upcoming visit to Ann Arbor Michigan Pulp Ann Arbor Junket Story as “political junketeering”, she accepts moneys (presumably tax deductible) from the local tax exempt establishment planning the junket so as to attend that very same junket. Pulp readers wishing to party on free junkets should pay close attention.
On 11 July 2008, Ms. Sinreich was unfortunately not on the junket “A list” (not to be confused with the list of local political anarchists) going to Ann Arbor at taxpayer expense. So she dissed the trip organizers. However, her dissing was measured, showing she could be had to go. At that time she said “I'd be willing to go under certain circumstances, but I would not pay my own money for a junket that promotes someone else's agenda. (Plus I couldn't afford it, even I wanted to pay.) If I did go, it would mostly be as a blogger so that I could get better informed and tell others what actually goes on, what is learned, etc.
It seems like one the main benefits of these trips is better relations between the participants, who are already the connected power brokers in town from the university, government, business, and nonprofit worlds. They could certainly save money and include more people by having a conference or retreat here in NC and bringing in experts from other places.”
Then Ms. Sinreich used the classic teenager justification, “but mom and dad, all the other kids are doing it”. In her words, “Some of the organizers strongly encouraged me to go, and I thought long and hard and about whether I would even want to participate in this event if it was logistically possible. Would I feel ethical being a part of something that I have criticized and will continue to scrutinize? I think it's possible to engage and critique at the same time, but it's a thin tight rope to walk.”
Ms. Sinreich capped this logical legerdemain with the Nixonian argument, “I can’t stop it from happening anyway”. In her words, “I also felt that, given that I can't stop this trip and redirect the extravagant budget - at least not this year, the community would benefit from some reporting on the event that lets them know where all that time and money is going. I have no doubt that there will be some valuable experiences to be had on the trip, but you can expect me to be just as vocally critical as I am of everything else (it's the only way I know how to be). I hope that my presence will help some of the more hesitant community leaders see that blogging can even be good for the community and their own institutions.”
So after dissing the tax exempt real estate development establishment to get their attention, Ms. Sinreich then applies for a grant from them. Again in her words, “My primary goal would be to observe and blog about the goings on, including observations of Ann Arbor, and existing and emerging connections between the participants. I think the readers of [my censored blog] will be very interested to share in the trip's learnings and it will also be a platform for sharing information with the wider community since the media will not be providing extensive coverage of the trip and it's findings. I hope the participants will also utilize [my censored blog] (or any other blogging platform) to publicly share their own reflections and engage in a dialog so that more of the community can benefit from the trip.”
Unfortunately for Ms. Sinreich, the tax exempt payoff grant only covers about 65% of the cost. In true OPie fashion, Ms. Sinreich apparently doesn’t intend to use a dime of her money for this junket.
How can she go for nothing out of her pocket? She solicits her blog readers for contributions, pleading poverty. Of course, Ms. Sinreich doesn’t tell her readers about her recent vacation on the Outer Banks beaches or the fact that she and her spouse own two homes. Only certain morbid details of one’s life should be blogged endlessly.
Ostensibly everything from not asking for new taxes to holding off permanent health care benefits for retired local officeholders has been affected by the poor state of the economy. But you would never know that from the latest political junket leaving southern Orange.
Everybody who is anyone feeding at the local tax trough is going for a three day jaunt to beautiful Ann Arbor, Michigan. Why there? According to the Community Leadership Collaboration, “leaders of the greater Chapel Hill and Carrboro community to learn from the experiences of another successful community and to create and strengthen relationships among participants that will help us successfully address our community’s challenges and opportunities here in Orange County.”
Individual cost for this junket? About $1500 when all is said and done.
In these tough economic times, about 40 people from government are going, for a cost of about $60,000. Local tax exempts receiving funds from those government officials will be there too. About six of them. Don’t forget the development interests, friends of the government officials all. There will be about 20 of them.
Be square if you are not there at taxpayer expense.
No word from the local steno pool on the total cost to local taxpayers.
The star studded list:
| Government Officials ||
| Person || Title || Entity
| Brad Broadwell || Economic development || Orange County government
| Tara Fikes || Housing development || Orange County government
| Barry Jacobs || Commish || Orange County government
| Laurie Paolicelli || Visitor’s Bureau director || Orange County government
| Mark Chilton || Mayor || Carrboro government
| Dwight Basset || Economic development || Chapel Hill government
| Matt Czajkowski || Town councilor || Chapel Hill government
| Kevin Foy || Mayor || Chapel Hill government
| Ed Harrison || Town councilor || Chapel Hill government
| Carlo Robustelli || Mayoral aide || Chapel Hill government
| Bill Strom || Town councilor || Chapel Hill government
| Roger Stancil || Town manager || Chapel Hill government
| Jim Ward || Town councilor || Chapel Hill government
| Brian Litchfield || Assistant transit director || Chapel Hill Transit
| Frances Dancy || Commish || Hillsborough government
| Margaret Hauth || Planning director || Hillsborough government
| Tom Stevens || Mayor || Hillsborough government
| Pam Hemminger || Chair || Chapel Hill Carrboro School Board
| Lisa Stuckey || Vice chair || Chapel Hill Carrboro School Board
| Mary Beck || Senior vice president || UNC Health Care
| Linda Convissor || Director local relations || University of North Carolina
| Mark Crowell || Asst. vice chancellor for ED || University of North Carolina
| Jack Evans || Exec. director Carolina North || University of North Carolina
| Monica Evans || Student || University of North Carolina
| Kevin Fitz Gerald || Exec. assoc. dean fin. & admin. || University of North Carolina
| Brian Goldstein || Exec. assoc. dean clinical affairs || University of North Carolina
| Garland Hershey || Professor Orthodontics || University of North Carolina
| Jonathan Howes || Special Asst. to Chancellor || University of North Carolina
| Peter Krawchyh || Asst. director facilities planning || University of North Carolina
| Lucy Lewis || Assoc. director campus Y || University of North Carolina
| Elmira Magnum || Senior associate provost || University of North Carolina
| Chris Payne || Assoc. vice chancellor student aff.|| University of North Carolina
| Etta Pisano || Vice dean academic affairs || University of North Carolina
| Cindy Shea || Director sustainability office || University of North Carolina
| Rick Steinbacher || Assoc. director dept. athletics || University of North Carolina
| Holden Thorp || Chancellor || University of North Carolina
| Will Tricomi || Associate counsel || University of North Carolina
| Tony Waldrop || Vice chancellor econ. dev. || University of North Carolina
| Tax Exempt Organization Government Feeders ||
| Person || Title || Entity
| Rick Allen || Vice president || Inter-Faith Council
| Delores Bailey || Executive director || Empowerment, Inc.
| Robert Dowling || Executive director || OC Comm. Housing & Land Trust
| Loren Hintz || Co-chair || Local Sierra Club chapter
| Cheryl Lin || Board member || Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership
| Jonathan Mills || President || Kidzu Museum
| Chris Moran || Executive director || Inter- Faith Council
| Lauren Sacks || Assoc. executive director || Carrboro Arts Center
| Jon Wilner || President || Carrboro Arts Center
| Cheryl Lin || Board member || Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership
| Developer Government Pals ||
| Person || Title || Entity
| Brad Broadwell || Economic development || Orange County government
| D. R Bryan || President || Bryan Properties, Inc.
| Eric Chupp || Director development || Capkov Ventures
| Mark Chilton || Owner || Community Realty
| Jim Earnhardt || Vice president || Bryan Properties, Inc.
| Helen Figueroa || Realtor || Coldwell Banker HPW
| Mariana Fiorentino || Owner || Terra Nova
| John Florian || Senior vice president || Ram Development
| Desiree Goldman || Broker || RE/Maxx Winning Edge
| Glen Greenstreet || President || Greenstreet Builders
| Josh Gurlitz || President || GGA Architects
| John Keener || Development manager || Ram Realty
| Laura Kiley || President || Kiley & Associates
| Scott Kovens || Owner || Kovens Construction
| Roger Perry || Owner || East West Partner
| Scott Radway || Principal || Radway Design Associates
| Jim Schaafsma || Senior v.p. planning & development || Grubb Properties
| Tim Toben || Managing partner || Greenbridge Developments
| Tom Wiltberger || Broker || Terra Nova
| Mark Zimmerman || Broker owner || RE/Max Winning Edge
The town of Chapel Hill is finally looking at the financial costs of creative class events such as the Halloween Night party on Franklin Street that attracts 80,000 attendees. Town costs are about $200,000 for one night of wretched excess.
When asked about people from outside Chapel Hill attending the gala festivities, Chapel Hill Mayor Foy aka (“Mr. Diversity”) says, “I think the first thing is to make it clear to people that they're not invited. It's a local party. The trend is toward larger and larger crowds; the trend is toward longer and longer nights, and that's a trend that we need to reverse. We want Halloween to be an event that students and people in Chapel Hill can continue to enjoy, but we want to stop it from being regional or statewide.”
When questioned on the financial savings to the town if the event is reduced in size, Mayor Foy unabashedly with a straight face replied, ”What people need to understand right now is we're working on making Halloween a smaller and safer event. We're not trying to save money. We're trying to make sure we have a safe environment for people.”
Daily Tar Heel Halloween Story
No word on how much UNC is offering in funds to compensate the town for a student party event.
Boosterism is alive and well in southern Orange thanks to the pirates of the cultural seas.
The latest example is the heralding by the local media that the town of Carrboro is included in a “new book” entitled “The 100 Best Art Towns in America: A Guide to Galleries, Museums, Festivals, Lodging and Dining”, (N&O Carrboro Art Title Story). Southern Orange booster pirates are climbing the rigid, towering mainmast and circling the crow’s nest in reaction to this hailing from the poop deck.
Only two problems.
First, the “new book” isn’t really new. It’s the fifth edition. There have been four previous editions. In none of those previous editions was Carrboro mentioned. In fact, the list changes significantly with each edition, spreading the joy of being pronounced a “great small art town” throughout the American main.
Second. The title doesn’t come from some prestigious committee of art experts. It doesn’t come from a renowned panel of art critics in leading art reviews. It doesn’t come from a distinguished roster of art museums.
So where did this Carrboro honor come from? Who shivered the timbers of Carrboro’s artistas? The self-proclaimed expert is Mr. John Villani, former wine and art critic for the Arizona Republic newspaper in 2003 and former communications director at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2005.
Mr. Villani has achieved that which most Americans can only dream, giving up your day job and partying across the country. He’s now a bona fide “traveling culturalist”. He travels and partakes of local cuisine, cups, and culture in small towns everywhere. He magnanimously whips out the title of “One of the 100 Best Art Towns” wherever and whenever he wants. Another example of where life imitates art.
In true pirate fashion, you are not told the local connection of Mr. Villani to Carrboro. His mother has owned a home in Carrboro for about 20 years. She’s on a town advisory committee.
Which begs the question, what took Carrboro so long to make the list?
County Commishes want a quarter-cent increase in the Orange County local sales tax rate right now. The extra 0.25 percent is estimated to raise an additional $1.8 million to $2.2 million for the Commishes to spend.
The only problem is that in order to get the tax the state legislature requires the Commishes to get voter approval for the tax. The general election this year will be even more highly attended than May’s primary in which voters shot down the Commmishes attempt to ramrod through a local property transfer tax despite a costly re-education campaign. Moreover, the Commishes appear reluctant to spend another $100,000 in taxpayer money to “educate” voters on the benefits of an increased sales tax. Concidentally, some of the courageous Commishes are up for re-election.
In the words of Commish Alice Gordon, ”I think we need the revenue, and I think we need the alternative of taking pressure off the property tax. But I'm not sure we have time to do it right, and I'm not sure it would pass even if it did.”
However, Commish Barry Jacobs is considering the bountiful yield from this local tax versus the harvest from yet another local tax being considered, namely, a half-cent sales tax to help pay for rail, bus and road programs. That tax would bring in twice as much money. As Commish Jacobs says,”There's just so many times you can ask the public to raise its own taxes”.
Orange County tourism woes will be solved by political junketeering. County Commish Mike Nelson is coming to the rescue with another junket, this time to hunky Vancouver, British Columbia. Pulp readers may remember previous Commish Nelson junkets, such as his visit to South Beach in Miami to free Elian Gonzales from the reaches of his father.
Although tourist spending was up 7% in CY 2007 ($147,550,000), it’s down in Orange County for CY 2008. For the first time in five years, southern Orange lodgings weren’t booked at graduation time, according to Ms. Laurie Paolicelli, executive director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.
For Pulp readers familiar with the economic theorems of supply and demand, the growth in available rooms may be part of the reason. But that hasn’t seemed to occur to Ms. Paolicelli. She and Commish Nelson are eyeing the gay and lesbian tourism market to save local tourism. They will attend at taxpayer expense the International Conference on Gay and Lesbian Tourism in Vancouver to promote the Chapel Hill/Orange County area as a place to visit and hold meetings. In Ms. Paolicelli’s words, who worked for the Palm Springs Visitor's Bureau, ”It saved Palm Springs' tourism industry, and Sonny Bono was very supportive of it”. (See Chapel Hill Nelson Junket Story.)
Neither Ms. Paolicelli nor Commish Nelson has provided any look at a thought out program for Chapel Hill successfully promoting itself as a “gayborhood“ worth visiting. Chapel Hill must compete with the likes of the Florida gayborhood powerhouses of Key West, Ft. Lauderdale, and South Beach as well as the California powerhouses of Santa Monica, Palm Springs, and San Francisco. Apparently they are unaware of the three steps to successful GLBT marketing, namely, getting in depth knowledge, positioning and preparing oneself, and finally reaching out. (GLBT Marketing Advice.) The bottom line is that GLBT marketing doesn’t come cheap and requires a constant pumping and flow of public tourism funds.
Chapel Hill has a long way to go in order to become a destination gayborhood. It’s not even on the gay college town “B” list where it might have a chance to reach around onto the gay “A” list. According to OutTraveler, the top ten college towns for gay travel are: Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; Iowa City, Iowa; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Bloomington Indiana; Lawrence, Kansas; Columbia, Missouri; Champaign Urbana, Illinois; and Lincoln, Nebraska. (See Top Ten Gay Travel College Towns.)
No word on whether or not another Gay Pride parade will be sponsored by the town of Carrboro akin to the 1995 butt cheeks and chaps sashay display.
12 August 2008 was a Black Tuesday for Orange County emergency medical services (EMS). Receiving 11 calls between 17:00hr and 19:00hr, EMS was strained to the breaking point. A local student with a twisted knee waited 23 minutes for a paramedic to arrive followed by an additional 20 minutes for an ambulance.
Demand exceeded supply. A four person, two vehicle accident in western Orange and the death of another local high school football student following a practice taxed the system.
County EMS officials had asked the Commishes for enough funds for 57 employees to cover the county. In their infinite wisdom, the Commishes funded only 51, cutting the EMS budget by $1,800,000 from that requested.
Local media kicked into emergency response mode after Black Tuesday. Despite the local media knowing about the underfunding, not one Commish has been put on the record, much less the spot, to explain the underfunding.
How does a landfill gas reclamation project with a normal payback of ten to twenty years turn into one with a 100 year payback? Pulp readers know you just have to entrust it into the loving care and competence of Orange County Commishes and experts at the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).
UNC plans to spend about $5,000,000 to install equipment to capture methane at the Eubanks Road landfill. The gas would be piped not five miles away to the main campus, but less than half that distance to the Carolina North campus.
According to published steno notes, the county will receive a presently undisclosed financial compensation for the project. (See Chapel Hill News Story.) In the words of Orange County Solid Waster Gayle Wilson, who led the farcical landfill transfer station location “study” last year, ”Since we didn't bid, we'll never know whether we could have received more or less revenue through a competitive process”.
UNC estimates it will save $1 million in energy costs over 20 years. UNC apparently couldn’t bring itself to declare a 100 year payback for the project. UNC justifies the financially losing project by wrapping itself in a “global warming” blanket. The burning of methane should count in the fuzzy math of carbon offsetting.
Contrast the OC – UNC landfill gas reclamation energy project to one done recently at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).
In 2008, UNH became the first university in the U.S. to use landfill gas as its primary energy source. UNH gets its gas from a privately operated landfill (Waste Management’s Turnkey
Recycling and Environmental Enterprise facility in Rochester) twelve miles away.
UNH's landfill gas project cost an estimated $45,000,000 - all internally-funded through borrowing without using student fees or state funding. The project payback is ten years, not 100 years.
See UNH Successful Landfill Gas Project.
The failure of the local media to reach beneath the covers of the bubbling scandal of local presidential candidate John Edwards becomes more interesting with time. As reported in the Pulp, the local media publicly snored its way through the Edwards scandal because “those people” (aka the tabloids) alleging the scandal were not of the same amaneusis class as the steno pool. (See Pulp Local Media Edwards Scandal Suppression Story.)
The story gets more curious by the moment as further details of local Orange County tax exempt, conservation easement, wealthy retreat connections dovetail into the failed Edwards presidential bid and the makeup of the man beneath the sheets, Mr. Andrew Young, Mr. Edwards’ former campaign manager.
The local media (aka quidnuncs) has also failed to tie in the Edwards campaign with local eco-environmentalist media darlings involved in the Greenbridge project.
The Meritorious Inseminator
Mr. Young (born in 1966) has proclaimed that despite the absence of his name on a birth certificate, he’s the father of the child born to Ms. Rielle Hunter, ex “Bright Lights, Big City” snowgirl and filmographer of the Edwards campaign. He also has earned the following attributions on his curriculum vitae to earn a presidential campaign manager position.
1983 NC Traffic offense - driving the wrong way on a one-way street (July) NCGS 20-165.1
1983 NC Traffic offense – reckless driving (October) NCGS 20-140(b)
1984 NC Traffic offense - improper passing (January) NCGS 20-150
1984 NC Traffic offense - speeding (May) NCGS 20-141(J1)
1987 FL Arrest for burglary of a structure & criminal mischief ($200 or less)
1988 NC Arrest for misdemeanor - aggravated assault & battery (February) NCGS14-33(a)
1988 NC Arrest for misdemeanor – worthless check (June) NCGS14-107
1989 NC Traffic offense - operating without a driver’s license NCGS 20-7(a)
1991 NC Traffic offense - speeding NCGS 20-141(B)(G)
1991 NC raffic offense – violation of registration requirements NCGS 20-111(2)
1994 US Federal tax lien for $10,587
1994 NC Traffic offense - violation of registration requirements NCGS 20-111(2) & 20-7(A)
1994 NC Arrest for misdemeanor – worthless check NCGS 14-107
1997 NC Impaired driving NCGS 20-138.1 & resisting arrest NCGS 14-223
1998 NC Misdemeanor for disorderly conduct NCGS 14-288.4
2000 NC Traffic offense - speeding 20-141(J1) & driver’s license violation 20-7(A)
2002 VA Traffic offense 71/55
2003 NC Improper equipment – speedometer NCGS 20-141(J1)
2006 NC Possession beer on city property
2007 DWI Level 5 - impaired driving 20-138.1(A); transporting open beverages 20-138.7(A1); and immediate revocation 20-16.5.
Besides these accomplishments, Mr. Young has been active in local real estate. Not only did he supply lodgings for his mistress, Ms. Hunter, in his rental home in the Governor's Club along with his wife and children, he also made intimate connections with the local eco-environment movement.
The Communal Bed
The local media has completely missed the connection between Mr. Young and one of its local darling eco-environmentalists, Mr. Timothy Toben. Although Mr. Toben has given $6500 to Mr. Edwards failed presidential campaign and has in interviews said that he “was working” on the campaign, little attention has been paid to the communal living opportunity between Messrs. Toben and Young.
Besides being busy gentrifying Chapel Hill lower income neighborhoods for high income clientele worried sick about the decreasing affordability of their help to live nearby, Mr. Toben is a founder of the Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute in Orange Grove (PMEI). (For those not familiar, the term “mountain” as used in this moniker is laughable, being merely misdescriptive of a hill or ridge of several hundred feet.)
Unlike normal Orange County citizens who have to pay for the value of their homes, Mr. Toben and company have found a legal way manipulaning tax-exempt entity provisions to enjoy high value natural beauty without paying high value taxes as most citizens do. It’s all legal and uses the tax-exempt universe to shift burdens onto ordinary homeowners. Pickard’s Mountain acreage has been put into a conservation land trust. By doing so, the tax value of the land is substantially reduced. You can’t enjoy Pickard Mountain land because it’s private property. Trespassers aren’t allowed. However, as an owner of that land, one can enjoy pristine communion with nature without paying taxes for the value of those views. One can pass on to heirs or buyers those views as well.
In the words of the Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC), a tax exempt organization dedicated to shifting property tax burdens from wealthy land owners to working class households through private conservation easements,”The Pickard’s Mountain conservation lands are all privately owned and not available for public recreation. The public does benefit tangibly, however, as Pickard’s Mountain serves as the backdrop of the scenic rural viewshed along Dairyland Road, and from the front porch of the Maple View Farm Country Store, the wildly popular ice cream shop.” (See TLC News Release.)
PMEI is self described as “a 350 acre patch of Earth in central North Carolina where a group of people are experimenting with ways of living more harmoniously with the planet.” Eleven locavores live there who are “dedicated to the healing of the Human-Earth relationship through reconnection to our source of food, nourishment, sustenance.”
Some of the residents live in canvas covered yomes (part Mongolian yurt, part dome) in a footpath village with earthen wood fired polluting ovens, reliving the glory days of 1960s hippies.
Of course, that’s not where Mr. Toben lives. Rather than live in a yome with footpaths, he has a 7000 square foot “mountain retreat” with a swimming pool, and servant’s quarters above a garage for carbon loading automobiles, all valued at more than $1,600,000, not including the hundreds of acres surrounding his retreat.
A fellow nature communer is Mr. Young. He and his wife are among the lucky few to own a parcel of land on Pickard Mountain. He bought it from Mr. Toben in 2005.
The Sleeping Dogs
Here's the official excuse from the N&O's John Drescher, missing the basic fact that even the hair stylists in Chapel Hill knew what was going on with Mr. Edwards.
No word on the excuse for the eco-environmentalist connection being likewise ignored.
”Looking back, our coverage of John Edwards' extramarital affair was on the mark, given what we knew and when we knew it.
In October, The National Enquirer, citing an anonymous source, said former U.S. Sen. Edwards had an affair with an unnamed former campaign worker.
Asked about the report while campaigning for president, Edwards denied the allegations.
Several blogs identified the woman as Rielle Hunter, a filmmaker who had worked for the Edwards campaign. Hunter released a statement denying an affair with Edwards.
We reported the denials in a seven-paragraph story on newsobserver.com.
We did not publish that report in the print paper. Reasonable people can disagree about whether we should have.
We report many items online that never make it into print. The report was sketchy, apparently from a single anonymous source. It did not name the woman and was disputed by Edwards and Hunter. We decided it didn't make the cut for the print paper.
Still, we treated the Enquirer report seriously. Working with our colleagues at The Charlotte Observer, we quickly sent a reporter to New York, where Hunter then lived, to report on the allegations. We also worked the story from here.
We learned biographical information about Hunter but were unable to interview Hunter or to confirm the affair. So we did not publish a story.
In December, The Enquirer reported that Hunter was pregnant and had moved to a gated community in Chapel Hill. It also reported that Andrew Young, an Edwards aide, and Hunter said Young was the father.
We continued reporting and learned some information about Young. But we still were unable to establish that Edwards had an affair with Hunter, and we did not publish a story.
Then a few weeks ago, The Enquirer reported that Edwards had met with Hunter in a room at a Beverly Hills hotel and that after the meeting, Enquirer reporters had confronted him in the hotel. Curiously, The Enquirer did not publish a photo of its reporters confronting Edwards.
But there was evidence of a confrontation.
We sent an N&O reporter to California to confirm the confrontation and to interview Young and Hunter, who were living separately in Santa Barbara. We were unable to confirm the confrontation or to interview Hunter or Young. At one point, our Lorenzo Perez was chased out of Young's neighborhood by sheriff's deputies.
We wanted to give Edwards a chance to respond to the allegations, but we could not reach him. That wasn't unusual. We've had a poor relationship with Edwards and his top staffers for years.
Among other things, they were unhappy about our stories about his new house outside Chapel Hill, his expensive haircuts and his change in political philosophy from one presidential campaign to another.
Something was wrong.
Finally, The Observer's Lisa Zagaroli cornered Edwards on July 30 after he gave a speech in Washington and tried to dodge reporters. Edwards declined comment.
That was news. We'd given Edwards a chance to set the record straight, and he declined to do so. In addition, he had done all that he could to avoid reporters, exiting though a side area used by kitchen staff. Clearly, something was wrong.
Edwards dropped out of the presidential race in January. However, he kept a high public profile, traveling the country, making speeches. Edwards was a strong candidate to play a role in a possible Barack Obama administration. In my eyes, that made his personal conduct still relevant to our readers.
On July 31, we published an item in our Under the Dome political column in the print edition about Edwards declining comment. The next day we published a short story inside the paper.”
Orange County offers continuing health benefit coverage to former elected officials. Although these elected positions are part time positions supposedly performed as a public duty, local elected officials have deemed their sacrifices so great that they should receive lifetime benefits that even part time municipal employees that have worked for decades don’t get. Such is the nature of progressivism in southern Orange where many work in a bubble of health care benefits not shared by those on the lower side of median income levels. (See Opies.)
The feeling of entitlement is best described by Mayor Kevin Foy. He tried in the summer of 2008 to get such benefits for Chapel Hill elected officials. (See Pulp Chapel Hill Health Benefits Story.) According to Mr. Foy, town council work is demanding and limits some members to part-time jobs without health insurance. Raising the “pre-existing condition” concern that affects every Chapel Hill citizen and not just Councilors, Mr. Foy says, “Then what do we do [if they get a pre-existing condition]? Have a bake sale?”
Now the N and O reports that, according to a UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government professor and the Mecklenburg County attorney, such benefits may not be legal. (See N&O Health Care Benefit Story.)
Mr. David Lawrence, UNC SOG professor, says that state law allows employees or officers covered by a retirement benefits system can also receive health insurance after retiring. However, town and county board members aren't eligible under the law for membership in the retirement plans.
Elected officials are waking up to the conditions most citizens face in obtaining health care insurance. Individuals and small businesses have to pay much more in health insurance if they or their personnel have developed medical conditions. Local elected officials don't want to share such pain. They feel entitled only to gain.
In Orange County, one former commissioner gets health benefits from the county, with Commish Moses Carey becoming eligible at the end of the year.
No word from any municipal attorney on Mr. Lawrence’s opinion.
No word from any local municipal elected official on why they shouldn’t receive instead a “gold card” to the local UNC emergency room, where they can wait for hours to receive medical attention amongst the flood of ciudad del santuario residents clogging the system.
While southern Orange progressives (OPies) like to dream of being on the political avant garde, once again a more grounded appraisal reveals the proclivity for these avant gardes to reinvent what has already been shown to be problematic elsewhere.
The local Orange Chatham chapter of the Sierra Club Foundation labors under the delusion that it promotes “environmentally sound” policy decisions by supporting dense growth, applauding rapid population growth from illegal immigrants, ignoring deals between the national Sierra Club and toxic chemical manufacturers (see Pulp Clorox Sierra Club Tie-in Story), and remaining silent about local surface water carrying capacity. Proud of this record, the local chapter works diligently to get into and sustain in local political office such “environmentalists” as Mr. Mike Nelson (of the faux “environmental scientitst” and the Adams Tract creekside Carrboro public works “never happened” garage fame) and Ms. Bernadette Pelissier (of Orange County solid waste environmental injustice ostrich fame).
However, the derring dos of these staunch defenders of the local environment pale in comparison to the “environmental” achievements of Mr. Harry Reid, the Democrats’ Senate leader.
Back in Nevada, Mr. Reid is an enabler for developers and pit miners. He almost singlehandedly is enabling the raping of a desert ecosystem. His runaway growth environmental policy is unchallenged by the Sierra Club. While Lake Mead (Las Vegas’s surface water reservoir) is drying up (48% capacity), “sustainable”, “smart growth”, and “master planned” communities of 16,000 homes continue to bulldoze the desert ecosystem.
Sound familiar Pulp readers?
In the middle of a record western drought, Senator Reid co-sponsored a law granting the Southern Nevada Water Authority (the Las Vegas OWASA) a free right-of-way on federal land to pipe groundwater into Las Vegas from central Nevada, hundreds of miles away. The $3,000,000,000 plumbing plan would tap the Great Basin aquifer, a vast underground sink that runs from Death Valley, California, across central Nevada, into western Utah. As the Great Basin's groundwater is drained, desert springs and seeps will dry up. Native desert plants and wildlife will die off.
Mr. Reid, the enabler, is a darling of East and West Coasts environmentalists. The influential League of Conservation Voters gave him a perfect score in FY 2005 for his voting record on environmental issues. The national Sierra Club praised him for his opposition to a laundry list of things such as coal-fired power plants and oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
So what was the official Sierra Club response to the Great Basin “Drainage” bill? Not a word. What about selling off large tracts of government land in the Las Vegas Valley to developers? Not a word. Senator Reid hobnobs with none other than Mr. Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club Foundation.
It’s not as if the Sierra Club didn’t know about the bill. Senator Reid personally briefed Mr. Pope. According to him, Mr. Reid said “Look, it's important to me that we deal with our water supply problems in Clark County. This appears to be the best way.” That’s all it takes for friends to do friends a favor.
Sound familiar Pulp readers?
The Sierra Club’s excuse? It focuses on broad issues such as climate change and doesn't make regional water disputes a high priority.
According to Ms. Janine Blaeloch, founder of Western Lands Project, a Seattle nonprofit that closely monitors Mr. Reid’s sell-off of government land for Las Vegas growth, ”What's so dismaying is that he gets away with it, because the big environmental groups are bought in.” No supportive response from the Sierra Club.
The Pacific Institute, in Oakland, California recently co-authored a study of Las Vegas, growth and water use. It found that through more conservation Las Vegas could save nearly as much water as Reid’s Great Basin drainage is designed to take. No supportive response from the Sierra CLub
Sound familiar Pulp readers?
Just like Orange County, Clark County, Nevada, is even more hooked on growth. Are there other similarities between Las Vegas and southern Orange?
Consider both locations have transient populations that don’t pay attention to the development costs and local politics. Both have about a 10% voter participation in local elections. Both have developer friends on the municipal governance boards. Both have a controlling economic engine that is a palocracy. Both have a growth and extraction culture, (one minerals and growth, the other students and growth).
Sound familiar Pulp readers?
Mr. Reid has acknowledged that population explosion and drought are posing “difficult choices” for Nevada. Southern Nevada's water managers say there's nothing to worry about with the pipeline. ”This organization is about as environmentally friendly as you'll ever find a water agency, But we'll never know what the precise impacts are until we stress the system.”, according to Southern Nevada Water Authority's deputy general manager.
Sound familiar Pulp readers?
See Portfolio Reid Pipeline Story.
“Holy” Civil Union
Clorox has introduced a new product of “green” products under the consumer warm and fuzzy name “Green Works”. Clorox apparently has concluded it needed to amend its public reputation, being named by the Public Interest Research Group in 2004 as one of a “dangerous dozen” chemical companies in the USA.
PIRG contended in a report that Clorox's handling of chemicals at U.S. production facilities left some 14 million people vulnerable to contamination in the case of an accidental release. (See PIRG Dangerous Dozen Report.)
Clorox has responded by introducing a new line of cleaning products alleged to be more environmentally friendly. Clorox's first new product line in 20 years consists of five cleansers for bathrooms, toilets, glass, surfaces and other uses. They are made from “natural” ingredients such as coconuts and lemon oil, contain no phosphorus or bleach, are biodegradable and are not tested on animals.
So some eyebrows can be forgiven for being raised when Clorox also announced its new “partner” in the Green Works line, the Sierra Club Foundation (“Sierra Club”). The activist “environmental” political advocacy group, used to be better known for suing corporations than forging royalty licensing alliances with them. The Sierra Club will assist in promoting Green Works Clorox products in exchange for a share of the profits.
The Sierra Club won't disclose how much money it will get from the sale of Clorox's “Green Works” cleansers. The Sierra Club says it has the same policy for all “donations”, even though most donations are not licensing royalties. (Yes, this is legally not taxable under the IRS Code, just like the tax-free “stealth PAC” operated by the Sierra Club, see Public Citizen on Stealth PACs.) Such is the state of semantics in protecting the environment. In the words of Mr. Carl Pope, the Sierra Club executive director, ”To us, this is a sign that major companies see the green market maturing and recognize it's possible to manufacture and sell products that will be good for business and for the planet.”
Curiously, the Sierra Club has not endorsed through a royalty license pioneers in the field of green cleaning products, such as as Seventh Generation Inc. or Method Products Inc..
Michigan Ethical Response
Some Sierra Club chapters have maintained a sense of ethical behavior and have cried foul. Officers in the Traverse City, Michigan chapter have resigned over the deal in protest. ”They sold their soul to the highest bidder,” according to Monica Evans, who helped reactivate the club's nine-county Traverse Group in 2000. She and the group's other five executive committee members resigned in May 2008. Their resignations were made public in July 2008. In Ms. Evans’ words, ”The Sierra Club has been fighting against Clorox for decades, trying to get them to be responsible,” Evans said. “Now we're partners with them? It doesn't make any sense. That's the kind of scale that we really need across many industries to transform the American economy to one that's much more environmentally friendly.” Willett said.
Besides the dramatic Michigan response, local Sierra Club chapters in New York, Florida, New Jersey and Tennessee have also criticized the deal.
(See IHT Clorox Sierra Club Story.)
Southern Orange Complicity
The local Orange-Chatham chapter of the Sierra Club (see Phictionary) has remained silent on the Clorox deal. Apparently, these environmental chickenhawks are too busy getting their members elected to “sustainable” local political offices (see Pulp Pelissier Stories), too busy facilitating and promoting overdevelopment, and too busy ignoring population effects from overdevelopment on their “sustainability” platform. Yes, the club exhibits the ethical conduct for which it is widely known locally. (See Pulp Local Sierra Club.)
What’s Next – Mutual Funds?
Having whet its appetite with Clorox, the Sierra Club appears to be considering branding a “green” mutual fund. (See New York Times Mutual Fund Sierra Club Story.)
No word on when the local Sierra Club chapter will hit up OWASA for a licensing deal.
The Men in Black may have had it right. The best sources for investigative journalism in the USA have been reduced to the tabloids.
In October 2007, the National Enquirer, a subject of ridicule for professors at the UNC School of Journalism, reported a story about local presidential candidate John Edwards. Mr. Edwards was campaigning on the “One America, Not Two Americas” theme. According to the Enquirer, Mr. Edwards was engaging in in-depth communication with a Ms. Rielle Hunter (aka Lisa Druck) who was filming Mr. Edward’s campaign up close and personal. As put by one on-line pundit, “Those dirty, nasty sleazemongers at the National Enquirer just keep ruining journalism by reporting easily verifiable facts that some people find unpleasant.”
In as small a community as Carrboro, the facts surrounding these charges should have been as easy to uncover as the expanding silhouette of Ms. Hunter. Ms. Hunter occupied a rental home in the Governor’s Club paid for by a longtime Edwards supporter and contributor during the pregnancy. Yet, not one local paper conducted an investigation other than to accept an expected “I never had sex with that woman” denial on a smiling face value.
Two weeks ago, the tabloid posted a story online chronicling how Edwards had visited the Ms. Hunter, and “their child” 21 July 2008 at a Beverly Hills hotel and that the paper's reporters confronted him afterward. (The birth certificate doesn’t list a biological father.)
Now, the News and Observer is forced to make it the lead story months after it matters for Mr. Edwards’ campaign. Why? It seems that Mr. Edwards may be denied the opportunity to speak at the Democratic national convention. The N and O reports that “several prominent Democrats are saying Edwards must publicly address anonymously sourced National Enquirer stories that claim he had an affair with a campaign worker and fathered her baby.” Missing from the story is what the N and O did or did not do for the past ten months in its “reporting” of that story since it broke in October 2007.
According to Gary Pearce, the Democratic strategist who ran Edwards' 1998 Senate race, ”It's a very damaging thing. He absolutely does have to [resolve it]. If it's not true, he has to issue a stronger denial, The big media has tried to be responsible and handle this with kid gloves, but it's clearly getting ready to bust out. If it's not true, he's got to stand up and say, 'This is not true. That is not my child and I'm going to take legal action against the people who are spreading these lies.' It's not enough to say, 'That's tabloid trash.'”
Mr. Pearce doesn’t attempt to justify the kid glove treatment.
No word from Mr. Edwards about his personal “Two Makes Three Americans” program.
See N&O Edwards Love Child Story.
Summer can be the silly season for politicians. But in Carrboro, the Boa works relentlessly to polish its reputation for unequal enforcement of the law and the shredding of private property rights to aid its friends. First we had the intervention of the Boa into the ability of the owner of an apartment complex to control who can park on private property. (See Pulp Abbey Court Parking Story.)
Now we have Mayor Mark Chilton and Alderman Lydia Lavelle interfering with the right of another apartment complex owner to provide security for its tenants.
Estes Park is an apartment complex of several hundred units located off Estes Drive in Carrboro. It backs up to a railroad right of way (located in Chapel Hill) that heads south into Carrboro. Estes Park residents expressed concern to the complex management about children playing around the railroad tracks behind the apartments. Management responded by building an eight foot high, chain link security fence topped with barb wire alongside the railroad right of way. The fence provides a barrier between the railroad right of way (referred to errorneously by Mr. Chilton as a “trail”) and the apartments. According to Estes Park manager Mr. Brummett, the fence was also designed to protect residents from “security issues” (translation, homeless people camping in municipally owned woods) that have migrated off the railroad tracks. Many Estes Park apartments have been broken into by homeless people. Also, at least one Estes Park resident was mugged by someone fleeing across the railroad tracks.
In most towns in North Carolina, such security measures would be no cause for government intervention. However, the Estes Park owners made the mistake of cutting off access to Carrboro usufructers and trespassers living in the Village West development.
Mayor Chilton expressed dismay at the perimeter fence because it blocks a “frequently used path for walkers and bikers between northern Chapel Hill and downtown Carrboro”. Mayor Chilton has gone as far as to express concern over the new fence’s legality. He ignores the fact that plans are currently in the final stages for a sidewalk stretching from Estes Park to North Greensboro Street, a sidewalk that doesn’t include apartment complex land.
(See Carrboro Citizen Fence Story.) In Mr. Chilton’s words, “The barbed wire, in particular, seems kind of hostile. This is not a prison camp or anything.”
Fueling Mayor Chilton and Alderman Lavelle’s efforts are the misleading class warfare statements of Carrboro’s usufructers. Although Estes Park apartments rent for only about $450 to $600 a month (a cost equal to about one half of a mortgage payment for an average Village West condominium, $154,754 in 2006) Village West resident Mr. James Coley wrote Mayor Chilton saying, “Can anyone really believe this is not partly about race and class?” (See Chapel Hill News Estes Park Fence Story. Also see N&O Estes Park Fence Story.)
Pulp readers are used to the convoluted logic of southern Orange. Village West owners have to look at the barbed wire fence. Unlike the Estes Park residents, on average, they don’t have English as a second language (ESL). They have higher incomes. They don’t have a barbed wire fence in their neighborhood. So they charge the Estes Park owners with race and class bias in order to be able to remove the unsightly eyesore and to be able to trespass across the homes of ESL, lower income residents.
The fence story has encroached into the world of the self-absorbed Friends of Bolin Creek (FOBC) “environmental” organization. (See Phictionary.) Reacting to the cutting of trees along the railroad right of way alongside the verdant backs of their suburban homes, FOBC members have also complained to Mr. Chilton. His response has been, “[t]hey cut down several trees for that stupid [e]stes [p]ark fence, [i] think. [c]hapel [h]ill also removed a few dead and downed trees recently.”
Once again Mr. Chilton is completely clueless. UNC has purchased about 8 acres in Carrboro/Chapel Hill for a new rail spur. The railroad is cleaning out its right of way all along Chapel Hill and Carrboro down to the new spur to be constructed.
The Carrboro Boa (see Phictionary) works hard to earn its reputation for unequal enforcement of the law and the shredding of private property rights to aid its friends. The latest example of such behavior is the intervention of the Boa into the ability of the owner of an apartment complex to control who can park on private property.
The “Trampling of Human Rights” Incident
Abbey Court is an apartment complex of about several hundred units located off NC 54 in Carrboro non Jones Ferry Road. Near to the complex is a makeshift day worker pickup location. The complex is also near a bus stop and has been used as an unofficial park-and-ride lot. The Abbey Court manager has been facing problems with cars in the complex that don’t belong to renters. In response, the manager started enforcing parking rules that included requiring official parking stickers issued by the complex and enforcing the parking rules by towing away offending vehicles.
In most towns in North Carolina, such enforcement would be no cause for government intervention. In this case the Abbey Court complex manager won't give parking stickers for cars with body damage. Moreover, they won’t give stickers to car owners who can't produce registration and other paperwork. However, the Abbey Court owners (Tar Heel Companies of North Carolina) made the mistake of enforcing its rules against illegal immigrants, the “cause célèbre” of ciudad del santuario
(sanctuary town) Carrboro. Residents say the policy discriminates against the mostly Hispanic residents, some of them illegal immigrants, who can't comply. If only the residents had all been pasty white, impoverished Anglo US citizens, then the Boa could have ignored their plight.
Feeling emboldened by Boa support for illegal immigrants, Abbey Court residents took on the towing company hired by the Abbey Court owners. A resident threw a bottle at a tow truck removing a vehicle. More dramatically, a male visitor grabbed his daughter and stuck her in the back seat of his car, a car which had been hooked up already for towing. He wanted to keep it from getting towed using his daughter's physical endangerment to do so. Mayor Mark Chilton got a call about 10 p.m. on a Thursday evening from an Abbey Court resident. He and Alderwoman Jacquie Gist got up and went to Abbey Court immediately. According to Mr. Chilton, the driver unhooked the car with the endangered child, ”but only after demanding (and receiving) a $100 cash payment from the owner of the car.”
Mr. Brad Chandler (Chandler's Towing) disagreed with the Mayor’s version. According to Mr. Chandler, the tow truck operator had already hooked the white Nissan Sentra to his truck when the owner ran out of an apartment carrying a child in a car seat, a fact now confirmed . The child-endangering parent had been visiting someone at the complex. After the vehicle had been hooked up for a tow, the child-endangering parent opened the driver's door and snapped his child in to the back seat.
According to Mr. Chandler, ”We didn't hook to a vehicle that had a child in it. The people were outside screaming, 'Put the kid in the car, put the kid in the car.' ” Mr. Chandler said the tow truck driver requested payment because the car was violating the complex's vehicle policy.
Neither the Mayor nor the Carrboro police so much as warned the “muy macho” child-endangering parent regarding his use of a child to stop a tow truck. However, in finest southern Orange traditions, the Orange County Office of Human Rights and Relations is investigating the apartment complex owners and the towing company.
The Boa Strikes
In response to this incident, the Boa met in a highly unusual summer recess meeting on 31 July 2008. After much breast beating over the apartment complex owner’s exercise of control over a situation ignored by town officials, the chaotic state of parking at Abbey Court, the Boa was constrained by home rule to passing an ordinance limiting towing fees to $50 in Carrboro. The ordinance also limits retrieval fees to $100 and $20 a day for storage.
The “Trampling of Humans” Incident
On 4 August 2008, the carnage at Abbey Court continued with renters continuing to endanger towing truck operators who are complying with the law. Mr. Jesus Sanchez Basurto, 25, claimed he didn’t realize that a tow truck driver had put a boot on his car. He got into his car and tried to drive it away from the tow truck before it could hook up his car. When the car wouldn't move, Mr. Basurto opened his car door to see why the vehicle wasn't moving. He left the car in reverse. It lurched backward and ran up on the curb. Somehow he was pulled under his own car, and the car ran over his foot. The towing truck operator did nothing beyond having already put on the boot.
See Herald Sun Towing Story.