Nothing brings home the naivete' of local progressive leadership when it comes to for-profit business dealings than the recent statement by Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt in referring to the 140 West Franklin deal. “The town can’t back out. It’s not a matter of money; once the town agrees to a development deal, it can’t simply change its mind.”
Pulpsters will recall that The Town owns the land to be developed at 140 West Franklin, is an investor in the development with cash, is a financial stakeholder in the outcome, and is the regulatory authority controlling the development. The Town’s business partner is Ram Development Inc. of Florida (Ram).
Does Ram management share Mr. Kleinschmidt’s dogged devotion to deals?
In October 2006, about one year after getting into bed with Chapel Hill on 140 West Franklin, Ram was courting the city council of Tampa, Florida. The prize? How about 38 acres of land in downtown Tampa.
The blighted area was called Temple Terrace, located roughly at the intersection of North 56th Street and Bullard Parkway. Ram. in association with Pinnacle Realty Advisors of Tampa and Cooper Carry of Atlanta. told the Tampa council that if the city forked over money ($6,700,000) for city-financed parks mixed in with privately-funded retail and residential components, everything would work out fine. The Ram group got picked by the Tampa council for the $45,000,000 mixed use revitalization of a depressed urban site.
Fast forward to October 2008. Ram and its Pinnacle Group partner back out of the Tampa Temple Terrace project.
Apparently, one can back out of a deal with a municipality. You can simply change your mind.
So much for a dogged devotion to deals.
Time is of the essence for every purely private commercial real estate or mixed use real estate development. Time is the enemy. Time means cash outflow (interest and capital payments) long before cash inflow (rents and sales revenues).
Hence the important contractual phrase “time is of the essence”. In plain English, it means that meeting timelines is of the very essence of the contractual obligations.
A curious thing happens when a public entity is brought into the mix, particularly where that public entity owns the land to be developed, is an investor in the development with cash, is a financial stakeholder in the outcome, and is the regulatory authority controlling the development. Such is the case with the tortuous development of 140 West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, otherwise known in an earlier life as “Lot 5”.
Recently, the Chapel Hill Watch watchdog site asked the question, can the Town of Chapel Hill back out of its development agreement with Ram Development on 140 West Franklin? That question arose, in part, from the patience of Job wearing thin, waiting for something, anything, to rise out of the ground at 140 West Franklin.
Here’s the Town’s version of the timeline for 140 West Franklin:
| 2000 || Town adopts a Downtown Small Area Plan identifying Lot 5 as a development opportunity.
| 2002 || Town forms committee on Lot 5.
| 2003 || Town hires an ED consultant and holds initial public meeting.
| 2004 || Town adopts a Lot 5 building program and issues a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) to potential developers.
| 2005 || Town issues Request For Proposals to five of six respondents to RFQ.
| 2005 || Town selects Ram Development Inc. of Florida (Ram) as lead developer, issuing a Memorandum of Understanding.
| 2006 || Ram submits concept plans to Town. Town holds public forum on Development Agreement.
| 2007 || Town and Ram execute Development Agreement in February.
| || By June, Ram submits zoning atlas amendment proposal and special use permit (SUP) proposal for Lot 5, and town approves both.
| 2008 || Ram submits detailed plans to receive a zoning compliance permit (ZCP).
| 2009 || Town Manager Roger Stancil submits status report to Town Council.
| || Ram requests an extension for its SUP starting date.
| || In December, Ram submits additional information to town staff for the plan review needed for the ZCP.
That’s nine years from first announcement, four years since Ram was selected, and still no digging.
Here’s a more rigorous Pulp timeline from 2007 forward, also taking into account the Development Agreement (DA) milestones:
|2007 || Town and Ram execute Development Agreement in February.
| || By June, Ram submits zoning atlas amendment proposal and special use permit (SUP) proposal for Lot 5, and town approves both.
| 2008 || Ram submits detailed plans to receivea zoning compliance permit (ZCP).
| || DA calls for zoning compliance permit issued by 7 May 2008.
| || DA calls for initial Project Budget for 140 West Franklin by 9 July 2008.
| || DA calls for “firm commitment for the Project Financing” within 60 days after receiving the ZCP (estimated July 2008).
| || Ram opens an in-town 140 West Franklin marketing office during September 2008.
| || DA calls for Closing on the Project (building permit from Town in hand) by 1 October 2008.
| 2009 || DA calls for starting construction of Project occurring within 90 days after Closing (estimated 1 January 2009).
| || Town Manager Roger Stancil submits status report to Town Council.
| || Ram requests an extension for its SUP starting date.
| || In June, Ram asks for a twelve month extension of its SUP permit date to 27 June 2010.
| || The State passes SL 2009-406 giving all permits a three year extension. According to the Town, the effect is to extend the 140 West Franklin construction date to 27 June 2013 and the completion date to 27 June 2015.
| || In December, Ram submits additional information to town staff for the plan review needed for the ZCP. (See 2008 DA requirement above.)
| 2011 || Scheduled Completion Date is 24 months after Closing (estimated January 2011.)
| 2015 || Town announces in 2009 that SL2009-406 allows Ram to have until January 2015 to complete the Project, not 2011.
The curious thing is that SL2009-406 says absolutely nothing about changing existing contractual dates for completing construction projects. The law only says that local government regulatory building permits are extended for three years. It says nothing about extending the contractual time period for building a project. One can extend the permit beyond a contractual date for completion, but it doesn't change the completion date. The two are legally separate. The permit date comes from the town's regulatory authority. The completion date is a matter of pure, non-regulatory contract law between a property owner and a developer.
Incredibly, as the owner of the land, the Town has given Ram three more years under its contract to complete 140 West Franklin. Under its contract, the Town did NOT have to let Ram off the hook for completing the building by January 2011.
What did the Town get for this three year extension of a non-regulatory, purely contractual, “time is of the essence” contractual obligation on the part of Ram? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
It should come as no surprise to Pulpsters that Chapel Hill’s town staff lawyer doesn’t want to talk to Chapel Hill Watch’s watchdogs. In the words of Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, a lawyer living in another developer's luxury townhome. “The town can’t back out. It’s not a matter of money; once the town agrees to a development deal, it can’t simply change its mind.”
Of course, that doesn’t include the Town changing its mind about the Scheduled Completion Date for 140 West Franklin. Mayor Kleinschmidt doesn't say what happened to “time is of the essence”.
No word on when Ram will start paying taxes on the 140 West Franklin development, as it continues to enjoy tax-free status on the land, courtesy of its business partner, the Town of Chapel Hill. Selling units without paying taxes, how progressive!
In most of North Carolina, library systems are countywide, paid for by all county residents, open to all county residents.
However, things aren’t usually normal in Orange County. Here we have little political fiefdoms, each intent on spending your money like drunken sailors on shore leave.
Currently there are two separate library systems in Orange County. One is a county system (OCPL) that is available to all county residents. The main OCPL facility is a brand spanking new, 23,500 square feet, two story building at 137 W. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough with a small branch in Carrboro.
The new $8,000,000 facility was built at a time of great economic hardship. Official policy is to excuse the timing of such expenditures as being beneficial to economically stressed taxpayers. In the words of the North Carolina’s state librarian, Ms. Mary Boone, “We're all worried about the economy and our future well-being. During economic downturns, usage of public libraries always increases. That is very much the case this time; we're seeing a dramatic increase, and nationally library usage is at an all-time high.” (See CHN Hillsborough Library Story.)
The other system is the Chapel Hill public library (CHPL), the most per capita used library in the state. However, only 60% of the CHPL service is by Chapel Hill Residents. A large percentage of the CHPL service goes to benefit adjacent Carrboro residents. That burden is forcing Chapel Hill government to consider raising taxes by about $30.00 annually in order to pay for operating costs. Although Orange County provides money to Chapel Hill for the CHPL operations, it’s only about 11% of the CHPL operating budget while the outside Chapel HIll demand is 40% of the services.
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton doesn't like being asked to pay for services used by his residents. When asked about meeting with Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, Mr. Chilton said, “I suppose we have to, although I do not look forward to it. I am no way – no how – never going to vote to put Carrboro into the same dysfunctional relationsip with either the County or Chapel Hill that the two of them already have with each other.” Mayor Chilton, an expert in dysfunctional relationships, prefers to create his own.
According to Mr. Chilton, Carrboro can't afford to pay for using Chapel Hill's library. Acording to Mr. Chilton, Chapel Hill and Orange County should open a branch on Franklin Street, “putting library services in walking distance of much of the population, including low-income people of color who might have difficulty getting to libraries farther out.” (See CHN Library Story.) Curiously, Mr. Chilton is unaware that low income people of color can take a free bus ride from their neighborhoods to the library which is a distance of about two miles. Apparently, the race card is still a trump card in Chapelboro.
Mr. Chilton conveniently forgets to mention that he has been seeking a $2,700,000 OCPL branch in Carrboro, to be located all of about two miles away from the CHPL facility. (See Chilton Coleman Guest Column.) This branch palace will bear additional operating costs to the county.
Meanwhile, Chapel Hill Councilor Lauren Easthom isn't happy. “I suppose it is dysfunctional that we’ve been paying for Carrboro’s use of the library all these years. Where’s Carrboro in the picture? Why is it always our burden?” (See Herald Sun CHPL Story.)
No word on whether or not Alderman Dan Coleman will offer to screen Carrboro residents using the CHPL facility - ”Are you from Carrboro?”
In most of North Carolina, elected officials will avoid siting a homeless shelter next to their neighborhood. They will tend to put it as far away as possible.
Turns out, southern Orange is just like the rest of the North Carolina when it comes to homeless shelters. The veneer of Orange Progressivism is very fine indeed.
As the Chapel Hill Town Council tries to convince residents that the decision to place the new IFC homeless shelter at the corner of Homestead Road and MLK Boulevard isn’t a “done deal”, perhaps it’s time to step back and look at the authority the council seeks for homeless shelter siting.
Currently, town laws (the LUMO) restrict homeless shelters to less than 20,000 square feet and disturbing less than 40,000 square feet of land, with a capacity of up to 25 people. Moreover, only certain areas are considered suitable, i.e., the town center, neighborhood commercial zoned areas and office/institutional zoned areas.
Freshman Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt (elected by less than a majority of the votes cast in November 2009) isn’t happy with the law. He wants absolute authority to put as big a homeless shelter as he wants, wherever he wants in the town. Pulpsters should note that this craving for absolute power comes from a mayor who does NOT own his listed Chapel Hill residence.
Of course, the new IFC shelter will be approved at the pre-selected site given to the town by Duke Power. The issue in question is, can Mr. Kleinschmidt and his cronies give IFC permission to build as big a facility as IFC wants? Under current town law they can’t. Under the new town law Mr. Kleinschmidt craves, they can. You just have to trust the council to do what's best for you.
In the words of Ms. Nancy Oates, of Chapel Hill Watch, “Many members of this council seem bent on making Homestead Road Chapel Hill’s equivalent of New York’s Bowery. By grouping all social services together, we can keep all the undesirables in one small area, which coincidentally is away from where Town Council members live.
By segregating and ghettoizing some members of our community — and, like it or not, the homeless are part of our community — Kleinschmidt works against the climate of diversity he used as a defense when he voted against seating the fifth-place finisher for the vacant council seat. Kleinschmidt forgets that more people voted against him than for him. Ironic that to create his fantasy of Chapel Hill as a liberal, inclusive town, he adopts an I-know-best-for-the-people attitude, a style used by Iranian ayatollahs.” (SeeChapel Hill Watch Ayatollah Kleinschmidt Story.)
To show the penchant the town council has for sharing the love of the homeless shelter, here’s a table listing the residence address of each council member.
|Chapel Hill || Town Council Residences
| Name || Address
| Mark Kleinschmidt || 208 Village Gate Drive
| Donna Bell ||611 Craig St.
| Matt Czajkowski || 1083 Burning Tree Drive
| Lauren Easthom || 104 Livingston Place
| Sally Greene || 406 Morgan Creek Road
| Ed Harrison || 58 Newton Drive
| Gene Pease || 208 Glandon Dr
| Penny Rich || 109 Oldham Place
| Jim Ward || 112 Bolton Place
Please note that Mr. Kleinschmidt lists 208 Village Gate Drive as his legal residence. This townhome is owned by none other than convicted felon, convicted drug dealer, and preferred local developer, Mr. Scott Kovens. Pulpsters will remember that Mr. Kovens showed up to buy the Winmore development permit package after it was maneuvered through approval by town manager-for-Winmore-permit-only/non-staff town attorney Mr. Mike Brough.
Here’s a map showing those Council members homes with regards to the IFC site.
A picture truly is worth a thousand words.
The hallmark of 21st Century fiscal conservatism is the practice of government living within its citizens' means. Revenues are projected. Sustainable debt loads and taxation loads are calculated. The basic premise is that wealth generated predominately among the common folk can be tapped by taxation to support government programs. Overtapping that wealth disincentivizes the creation of future wealth.
The hallmark of 21st Century progressivism is the practice of fiscal profligateness, the opposite of fiscal conservatism. Expenditures are projected. Confiscatory debt loads and taxation loads are calculated. The basic premise is that the populous must hand over enough wealth to cover the costs of what government wants to do. If the government service or benefit is “progressive”, then it must be funded no matter what the fiscal consequences, no matter what the true benefit of a metricless “social good”. Human nature and motivations are dismissed as being of little importance, suitable only for government re-education efforts.
Progressives love to layer on to fiscal conservatism a smokescreen of social conservatism. For example, one could propose every local government program advocated by an Orange Progressive with one difference. Fiscal conservatist principles may make one delay or not fund some of the proposed programs because of a lack of financial resources. The failure to fund the desired programs produces a kneejerk labeling of that person as a “social conservative” despite the person being in favor of every program.
No more clear demonstration of such obfuscation can be seen than in the recent Chapel Hill mayoral election. The fiscal conservative mayoral candidate was Councilor Matt Czajkowski. The fiscal profligateness mayoral candidate was Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt.
Mr. Czajkowski would be viewed in most of North Carolina as a “liberal”. However, during the 2009 Chapel Hill mayoral election, he was branded a “conservative” by the pandering pundits, press, and radio. A local radio news director was stunned to consider the concept of a progressive government living within its means.
Mr. Czajkowski’s political crime was to propose public policy based on reality. He recognized that the state, Orange County, and Chapelboro are dealing with enormous financial problems. Perhaps that’s because he has professionally handled money for for-profit businesses.
Mr. Kleinschmidt, on the other hand, never considered how much his proposed programs would cost. If the programs are socially worthy, then Chapel Hill citizens must pay the price and bear the burden.
Here’s the reality Mr. Kleinschmidt ignored.
According to the North Carolina State Fiscal Research Division (SFRD), “[e]ven with the economic recovery underway, economy-based taxes remain weak and general fund collections are below the forecast target. They remain at 1.5% below target through November.
• Sales Tax collections are by far the weakest component of the economy-based taxes.
• A national recession persisting for at least 20 months has significantly impacted the State’s employment conditions and we are not out of the woods yet.
• Budget pressures mount as the prolonged economic downturn increases demand for those government services related to an economic downturn.”
Mr. Kleinschmidt didn’t consider in his campaign that state income tax withholding on wages and salaries was down 3.8% through November 2009. Monthly and quarterly withholding payments were hit the hardest (Y/Y 12.4% decline). Sales tax collections reflect consumer financial problems. State baseline collections were down in November 2009 almost 12% from 2008.
The SFRD further warns as of November 2009 that:
1) It is clear from looking at economy-based taxes that the recession is still impacting consumers;
2) Housing market problems are still unwinding;
3) Employment woes will continue at least into the spring of 2010;
4) Consumers continue to cut back on most spending;
5) Credit market constraints could slowdown or derail the recovery;
6) The Feds most recent comments suggest a long slow recovery;
7) Weak employment outlook expected through all of 2009 and into first quarter of 2010;
8) Inflation-adjusted salary & wages are lower than before the start of the recession;
9) Household wealth suffered tremendous losses from housing recession and equity market losses;
10) Very tight credit conditions continue;
11) Highest household debt burden on record at the start of the Great Recession;
12) Positive employment growth is not expected until the second-half of 2010;
13) The State will have a long way to go to reach pre-recession levels given the 6% decline that occurred since the start of the recession; and
14) Moody’s economy.com forecasters envision only 3.1% growth in the State’s personal income for 2009 and 3.8% in 2010. This is far less than the 6.0% to 7.0% annual growth from 2004 to 2007.
The future? SFRD says there will be mounting pressures for remainder of FY 2009-10 and beyond:
1) The Unemployment Insurance Fund has borrowed $1.4 billion from the Feds (projected to reach $2 billion) by the end of calendar year 2010; and
2) A looming issue on the horizon will be the FY 2011-12 revenue picture. Temporary taxes are set to expire, fiscal stimulus money dries up, and early projections indicate revenue growth will not be sufficient to close the gap.
The North Carolina state budget has an FY 2009-2010 budget gap of $4,600,000,000. That’s about a 22% shortfall of the entire budget.
The projected budget gap for FY 2010-2011 remains a problematic $4,400,000,000. (See Center For Budget And Public Policy.)
Mr. Kleinschmidt’s appreciation of these facts is best demonstrated by his stated campaign concern. He couldn’t add a cost of living increase this fiscal year for town employees who already have salaries AND retirement benefits far exceeding, on average, those offered in private employment.
To those who don’t have intolerant ideology and blind partisanship coursing through their veins, the moral and ethical way to fill a panel elective seat that's vacated before the election, but vacated after the filing period for that election, is to have the highest vote getter not elected to the panel to receive the vacant seat.
However, Orange County is all about intolerant ideology and blind partisanship.
Back in 2005, Carrboro had an alderman seat vacated by the election of the new mayor. The fourth highest vote getter for the three open alderman seats was Ms. Katrina Ryan. She didn’t receive the open seat. Instead, Mr. Dan Coleman moved from Chapel Hill into Carrboro and didn’t bother to file to run for alderman office. Instead he just had to lobby a handful of elected officials to be awarded the seat. How progressive!
In 2009 history has repeated the Orange Progressive tradition. Mr. Bill Strom went RVing, leaving his Chapel Hill town council seat vacant after the move permanently out of state one month BEFORE the filing period for an election that could have filled his seat. Six votes decided who would get Mr. Strom’s seat. How progressive!
The Chapel Hill Town Council gave the seat to Ms. Donna Bell, the latest political anointee. Ms. Bell, like Mr. Coleman, didn’t bother to run for office in November. Like Mr. Coleman, she and her husband, euro-Causcasian Mr. Jason James, only had to lobby the council to win. She didn’t have to campaign for months. She didn’t have to participate in any political election forum. She didn’t have to raise money. She didn’t have to write up any position statements.
She did have to write her good buddy, new Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt a one page letter asking for the seat.
Why was Ms. Bell so much better qualified than Mr. Matt Pohlman, the highest vote getter (about 3400) not winning a council seat?
Race, the answer boils down to race. Ms. Bell is African-American. Mr. Pohlman is not. With the council’s only African American member (Mr. Thorpe) retiring, and with no African-American candidates bothering to run for office, the answer is clear to progressives. Racism is best fought by being racist.
Councilor Laurin Easthom displayed her famous insightful powers. She said her vote as a council member was more important than the about 3400 Chapel Hill voters voting for Mr. Pohlman. It must be a diifficult burden to live with so much self-importance.
Ms. Bell’s support of Mr. Kleinschmidt’s mayoral run had nothing to do with her appointment. Her contributions of time and money to Mayor Kleinschmidt, her name endorsement in ads, her distribution of campaign literature had nothing to do with her appointment. It's about race. You either are of the right race for maintaining cosmetic diversity, or you aren't.
Showing great fairness, every town council member personally called and “interviewed” Ms. Bell, while only four contacted Mr. Pohlman, none in earnest.
Showing his great wisdom, Mr. Kleinschmidt said, ”This is not a decision that is going to make everyone happy in the moment we make it. We just have to hope that once we make a decision that the service the person provides will be able to dissipate that anger.” It's like executing the wrong person for the right reason.
At the risk of being branded a “right wing” ezine or blog, the Pulp is willing to report on a recently released regional study by the John Locke Foundation. In keeping with Pulp principles, the source of credible information is irrelevant to the meaning and context of that information. Accurate information regarding local government is hard enough to come by without imposing ideological sourcing tests, which, of course, puts the Pulp squarely at odds with local Orange Progressive principles.
The report entitled ”City and County Budget Crises: When in a hole, first stop digging” analyzed North Carolina state government published data and found that 96 out of 98 counties (two not reporting) and 24 of the 30 largest North Carolina towns or cities collected more revenue than needed to keep pace with increases in inflation and population.
The claims that population growth is the source of increased spending in Chapelboro and Orange Conuty is not supported by the facts, a charge the Pulp has made for years. For example, town of Chapel Hill government revenues (read mostly taxes) increased by 23% from FY2002-2003 to FY2007-2008. Per capita revenues increased by $158 in that five year period alone. Yet the population increased only 1.9%. Hiring a $60,000 plus per year public arts administrator for about 100 pieces of public art does cost in the end.
The Orange County Commishes are no slouches either. Not to be outdone by Chapel Hill Councilors, the Commishes increased spending by an additional 4% to reach a 27% per capita increase in county government revenues (read mostly taxes). That’s an additional $266 per person above the estimated $973 per capita that would have been needed to pay for pro rata population growth.
County population, on the other hand, increased only 4.6% in that same time frame.
The Commishes should be proud that Orange County grew its government revenues faster than any other county government in the Triangle. Moreover, that growth didn’t come from growing non-property tax revenues. It came from increasing proprety tax levies. While other governments improved their per capita sales tax revenues, Orange County languished in the doldrums of retail snobbery.
As reported in the Chapel Hill Herald, Chapel Hill Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt immediately went to work attacking the messenger and not the message. ”Is a few thousand dollars we provide to the Y for after-school programs low priority? Is the fact that the citizens of the community who voted for a new aquatic center – the will of the people – low priority?” Claiming that revealing the true pace of government spending is designed to pit citizens against their government, Mr. Kleinschmidt says that, ”The Town Council is a vehicle through which citizens voice their wants. The sole purpose is to manifest the interest of the citizens.”
No word from Mr. Kleinschmidt on the last time that the town of Chapel Hill informed its citizens as to the relative pace of per capita spending to population growth.
Shades of the 605 West Main development debacle in Carrboro have come to Chapel Hill, but, of course, on a much grander scale. Not quite two years ago, the Chapel Hill governance board approved a mixed use village type project called East 54. Now that the “cruise ship” buildings have docked, rising six stories from the ground, in their permanent berths alongside NC 54, those same enthusiastic approvers of East 54 are hedging their bets.
What Is East 54?
East 54 is a new “luxury urban village” built on NC 54 at the old site of the University Inn. Developer dream team pal East West Partners (Mr. Roger Perry, Meadowmont developer and UNC trustee) is the lead group building another Chapel Hill mixed use village having 113,000 square feet of class-A office space and 60,000 square feet of retail space. These spaces support about 400,000 square feet of residences. At an average of 1300 square feet per residence, that’s over 300 residences.
Pulpsters can take a virtual tour of the coming 580,000 square foot luxury urban village that’s about half the area size of the Durham SouthPoint mall.
It’s SO Big!
That anyone who approved the project is now surprised by what’s being built is a condemnation of the town of Chapel Hill’s land development approval process. The sketches glibly tossed around at the East 54 approval are not binding on what the developer builds. What you see at a development approval public hearing has nothing to do with what you will get. (The Carrboro Board of Alderman found that out when 605 West Main was built and roundly condemned for its appearance.)
Developers don’t have to get approval for the style, elevations aesthetics, or facades of what they build.
According to Town Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt, a dense devotee, ”It's challenging for me when I see these buildings going up because they are so large. Just seeing something of that size go up, I think it's emotionally evocative because the change on its face seems so great. … My emotional response is, 'Wow, that's so big.'.”
Mr. Kleinschmidt offers no explanation why he or anyone else didn't know how “big”, big really was.
Fellow Town Councilor and dense devotee Laurin Easthom said people “did not realize how big and how dense and how much that has changed that particular area. I'm hearing that a lot. When I drive down that road, it's just a total change visually to the skyline.”
Ms. Easthom offers no explanation why she or anyone else should be surprised.
Faith In The Catechism of Density
Dense is as dense does. Chapel Hill Mayor Foy wants people to know, the town governance board really knows what it’s doing.
”Is that going to line 54 in and out of Chapel Hill? Are those the kinds of projects that are going to line Martin Luther King from downtown to 40? Is that what our future looks like? No, it doesn't have buildings lining all of those corridors. It's much more focused than that.
I think people need the assurance that we've thought this through. The council has not just plopped down density just in a random fashion. [East 54] has been approved because it was within walking distance of a proposed transit stop.”
Mr. Perry, who is being rewarded handsomely by the approval of East 54 by Mr. Foy and company, believes that a dense future is the only option. ”I think the vast majority of the people in this community recognize that this is the kind of development that needs to occur on transit corridors. … This town's drawn an urban growth boundary around itself. The only way it's going to be able to survive as an economically sustainable community is with dense development.”
Mr. Perry doesn’t explain how Chapelboro will ever be able to get beyond being a factory town beholding to UNC. As such, Chapelboro can never be economically sustainable. UNC draws its economic marrow from the bones of 99 other counties in the state. By definition, can't be a sustainable economy except by the legislative fiat of state taxation.
Faith In The Catechism of Light Rail
Although there is no funded light rail transit system for the Chapelboro area and there's no rail at all along NC 54 in Chapelboro, the town of Chapel Hill has faith that it's coming. According to Town Councilor Bill Strom said projects like East 54 can pave the way for a “more robust” mass transit system. ”It's a change in the development pattern, but the guiding principle there is that it is at a regional rail stop. In order to get federal and state support for these projects, you have to have density organized in a way that promotes ridership.”
Mr. Perry's town governance pals are working diligently towards getting a commuter rail station built behind East 54 at taxpayer expense.
Infiltration Of The Heretics
But hereteical winds of change are blowing. For the first time in a very long time, not all members of the Chapel Hill governance board are true believers in dense growth for growth sakes. Town Councilor Matt Czajkowski, who wasn’t a board member at the time of the East 54 approval said “Virtually all the reaction I get to East 54 is negative. Clearly, that tract was going to get redeveloped, but developed with these monoliths right along the highway? That block the view of the hill, of Chapel Hill? That cast a shadow on the road? Is that what we want?”
Newest Town Councilor Jim Merritt, appointed to replace the late Bill Thorpe in October, and thus, not a board member at the time of the East 54 approval, has also heard complaints. He attended a forum last weekend for Glen Lennox residents, another community under dense growth assault. In his words, ”I'm not sure that was the appropriate place to put something that large. It's quite a bit of development there, just coming into the town of Chapel Hill.”
(See Chapel Hill News East 54 Story.)
In the continuing saga which is the battle royale between the right for people to be free from abusive public behavior of others versus the right for beggars to ask for free money from others (an ability most highly developed in local politicians), the town of Chapel Hill is coming firmly down in the corner of panhandlers. Despite the efforts of that loveable, but wayward thinker, Councilor Matt Czjakowski, the right to beg for money is too precious to the social well-being of Chapel Hill society to restrict any further.
Mr. Czjakowski made the silly mistake of believing that he could look to town governments like Burlington, Vermont, i.e., towns with socialist leaning public policy, to find panhandling control laws that would meet the acceptable rigors required by Orange Progressives. He was wrong.
On 14 January 2009, Mr. Czjakowski proposed adopting the Burlington ordinances which would have increased panhandling free zones around bus stops from six feet to fifteen feet and increased fines from a maximum of $50 to a maximum of $500. In his words, ““The reason that I petitioned for this, obviously, is that there is sentiment within Chapel Hill and amongst other people who are familiar with Chapel Hill that Franklin Street is not a place necessarily that you always want to go. Not just because of panhandling, but because of loitering and aggressive behavior, use of loud obscenities and things of that nature.”
A fifteen foot beggar-free zone is just too much for solicitous Chapel Hill Councilors. Councilor Sally Greene, “friend of her backyard” neighborhood conservation district advocate, crack Lot 5 town negotiator, and a member of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness executive board, said Mr. Czajkowski is “asking the wrong question. I think the right question is the right balance for our community given some competing interests, and one interest that our citizens have is the right to panhandling and the right to be on the street as long as they're not being aggressive. I think we have an ordinance that goes far enough. I don't think we need to look into making the ordinance stricter than it is. I think we can look at enforcement and think about whether our existing ordinances are being enforced enough.”
Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt joined in on the “Mad Matt” bashing by saying the town has done a good job of responding to specific issues. Demonstrating his keen grasp of human dynamics, Mr. Kleinschmidt apparently believes that his private warnings to the Chapel Hill Police Department last year to back off panhandling law enforcement solved the panhandling problem. (In Orange Progressive logic, if you declare a problem not to exist, it does not exist.) Mr. Kleinschmidt is silent about the embarrassment caused by “Mad Matt’s” persistent public elevation of the non-enforcement of local panhandling laws. (To an Orange Progressive, if you remain silent about an embarassing situation, then the embarassment never occurred.)
(See the Herald Sun Soliciting Story.)
Even in tough economic times, the Chapel Hill governance board doesn't want to remove “big ticket” expenditures from the consent agenda, displaying its powerful sense of fiscal responsibility and communication with citizens.
On 10 November 2008 Chapel Hill town council meeting, Town Manager Roger Stancil announced at a town council meeting that town sales tax revenues in FY 2008-09 will be 5% to 10% below projections, i. e., about $500,000 to $1,000,000 less than projected.
In response Mr. Stancil has asked his managers to reduced expenditures by 5% – about $2,500,000. He has also frozen new hires without his express approval. According to Mr. Stancil, ”[The General Assembly] will find ways to shift their expenditures and the only place to shift that is to us and the county.” He relayed talk of the state shifting responsibility for some road maintenance to local governments.
Recent financal restraint convert Councilor Jim Ward responded by asking for even deeper cuts. He wants a budget cut of $1 million beyond the 5% goal. ”I just think let's be real serious about the need to reduce our spending now,” Mr. Ward didn’t explain why just more than six months ago he was voting for an 11% tax increase in the face of an imploding housing bubble and a looming credit crisis.
Only a few minutes after a general headshaking about having to cut spending by several million dollars, Councilor Matt Czajkowski asked to pull an item from the consent agenda - the purchase of seven new hybrid electric buses. The consent agenda is supposed to be a mechanism to speed the business of town governance boards. Uncontroversial items that don’t require discussion are voted on, up or down, en masse. Usually, if even one member of the governance board wishes to have a discussion, the item is removed.
As Mr. Czajkowski put it, the council spent half an hour on tough economic times that “sprang from nowhere”, so wouldn’t it be “fair” in the future to ask the town manager to put “big ticket” town expenditures on the action item agenda instead of the consent agenda. The alternative proposed by Mr. Czajkowski would provide for an explanation to town citizens of the need for the expenditure now and the cost or risk of deferral.
The response of fellow councilors was pure Chapel Hill “responsibility”. According to Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt, he bends over backwards to make the budget “as tight as [he] possibly can.” There's no need to discuss items that the town ”needs”. A more typical response comes from Councilor Lauren Easthom. She ignores the general principle of fiscal responsibility. She only wants to talk about the specific need for new buses, completely missing the fiscal principle of discussing all “big ticket” town expenditures in detail. Apparently, she sees no need to explain every costly expenditure to the public while an approved budget is slashed.
See the Herald Sun Consent Agenda Story.
No word on the wisdom of the town council raising town taxes 11% as the housing bubble collapsed last summer.
No word on the fate of the recently hired arts administrator position and the sustainability coordinator position.
No word on how the $10,000,000 (25%!!) overrun on the new town public works complex affects the budget deficit.
If you build an ED infrastructure, your taxes will be spent. If you approve a lot of office space to be built, will they come to fill it?
Building the Bureaucratic Field of Dreams
Over the past five years Pulp readers may have noticed an awful lot of activity on the economic development (ED) front in Orange County. No, there’s not been a lot of activity actually recruiting for profit businesses to Orange County. The activity has been to build ED bureaucratic infrastructure. First Carrboro had an ED official and a revolving loan fund. Then Orange County got a new ED official. Now Chapel Hill has an ED office too. Instead of a unified, regional governmental approach, southern Orange is spending over $500,000 a year in your taxes just to maintain a tripartite, divisive, and flaccid ED infrastructure.
Once you have a bureaucratic function, it must seek to justify its cost and expand. So now the latest buzz in Chapel Hill is to lament how the town failed to capture the latest ED prize catch in the Raleigh metro area, a company called Optimal Technologies. In the words of former Chapel Hill mayor, Developer Dream Team member, and real estate profiteer Rosemary Waldorf, “How are we going to fill all the space [recently approved by the Chapel Hill politicians]”. (See Chapel Hill News ED Story.)
In southern Orange there are few business conflicts of interest that aren’t tolerated. So it’s not surprising that Ms. Waldorf, involved in the mega retail project Buckhorn Village, is asking about government money possibly for her future tenants in Buckhorn Village as well as the spate of office buildings being built.
The One That Got Away
Optimal Technologies US Inc. (OT) is a software and technology provider for electrical utilities and consumers. It is moving its headquarters (18 jobs) from Canada to downtown Raleigh. It will invest $2.4 million over the next three years. It plans to create at least 325 jobs. The new jobs will include highly specialized circuit (ASIC) designers, software programmers, engineers and management and marketing positions. While wages will vary according to job function, the overall average annual wage for the 325 new jobs will be $71,250 not including benefits, which is higher than the Wake County average of $40,092.
The grant to OT is $325,000 from the One North Carolina Fund (Fund). The City of Raleigh matches that grant with another $325,000. OT must have at least 325 employees within three years in order to receive the full grant.
OT can spend the money on: 1) installation or purchase of equipment, structural repairs, 2) improvements, or renovations of existing buildings to be used for expansion, construction of or improvements to new or existing water, sewer, gas or electric utility distribution lines; or 3) equipment for existing buildings.
Readers should note that Fund grants are also available to existing businesses for adding jobs.
The Local Solution to Flaccid ED
Why use a more proven technique with bureaucratic controls to eliminate favoritism if you can create a more expensive and ineffective way that rewards those in the palocracy?
Instead of joining in Fund grant programs, Chapel Hill ED leaders (with an awesome track record of sub-par ED job growth) are taking the southern Orange Progressive approach. For example, according to Chapel Hill ED guru Dwight Bassett, Chapel Hill is discussing paying a percentage of a lease for downtown businesses, helping to inflate already high lease rates. Or town taxes might go to pay for merchant marketing programs as a matching grant, aiding the bottom line of local media businesses, the staunchest supporters of town politicians. Finally, Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt is eyeing the Carrboro loan revolver as a cure for stiffening local ED successes, despite the fact that Carrboro subsidized a business that moved to Chapel Hill when it got on its feet, Phydeaux Pulp Story.
No word on why Orange County ED leaders thought that a computer circuit hardware/software company associated with electrical power generation should prefer Chapel Hill's UNC over North Carolina State University, a renowned computer engineering school, located in… Raleigh.
Like the proverbial camel poking its nose ever deeper into the desert tent, a tax supported, local non-profit bureaucracy keeps pushing further into the public purse in order to fund affordable housing. The Orange Community Housing and Land Trust (OCHLT), through its 25% annual pay increase executive director, Mr. Robert Dowling, recently attended the Fall 2008 “Assembly of Government” meetings, aka the local turf battle and catfight for Orange Progressive politicians.
Pulp readers know that the affordable housing crisis is based upon the the declared belief that the inability of “lower income” people to live near median income residents creates an imbalanced society that hurts Orange County, not financially, but psychologically. For OPie purposes, someone making 80% of the median income is “lower income”. OPies do not take into consideration if that person's income is ascendant. For example, perhaps they are beginning their career path and will make more than median income during the term of their occupancy, or they are trustafarians living off trust incomes without really having to work, or they have made life choices temporarily reducing a two income family status to a one income family status.
Creating Your Publicly Funded Lifetime Job
After declaring a crisis loudly to the “stenographer pool” (aka the local media), crack, local, wannabe, tax exempt bureaucrats swing into action.
The first step in creating your lifetime job is to announce that government is not equipped to manage an affordable housing program.
The second step in in creating your lifetime job is to advocate in front of each local governance board for the adoption of a zoning requirement for developers to provide for a percentage of smaller size housing in a development, the smaller housing being equated to less expensive housing for lower income residents.
The third step in creating your lifetime job is to advocate for funding yet another tax exempt (read non-profit) non-governmental organization in southern Orange, in this case the OCHLT, to assist “lower income” (less than 80% of the median Orange County income) residents in finding housing.
The fourth step in creating your lifetime job is to get appointed to the OCHLT at a modest salary, with testimonials from local OPies.
The fifth step in creating your lifetime job is to advocate in front of the local governance boards for funding to support your bureaucracy’s operational costs.
The sixth step in creating your lifetime job is to advocate in front of the local governance boards for capital funds to buy housing and to rehabilitate into managed lower income housing, the right to own the property being retained ultimately by your bureaucracy.
The seventh step in creating your lifetime job is to advocate in front of the local governance boards for yet more funding for your bureaucracy to oversee developer-built affordable housing.
The eighth step in creating your lifetime job is to advocate in front of local governance boards for the adoption of a PILO (payment in lieu of) financial structure for developers. PILOs enable developers to give money to the town instead of building lower income housing mixed in with higher income housing. Effectively the raison de etre of an affordable housing crisis has evaporated (the need to mix socio-economic classes), leaving only the solution to a different crisis (the need to fund your lifetime job).
The ninth step in creating your lifetime job is to ask local governance boards to funnel PILO moneys to your bureaucracy to buy yet more bureaucratically controlled housing. (See Pulp Right to Shelter Story.)
There is no final step, as bureaucracy is never ending.
Flawed Program Bureaucratic Job Insurance
Even in the current depressed local housing market, there is one constant. Averaged over a long enough period of time, all maintained housing goes up in value. Apparently, OCHLT and its abetters (the local governance boards fo Orange County, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill) forgot to include this constant in their collective wisdom of funding the OCHLT housing empire.
Four two bedroom, affordable housing units in Vineyard Square in Chapel Hill went up for sale in the Summer 2007. Under the terms of the OCHLT created program, homes that were bought by lower income residents for about $92,000 had increased in value to about $100,000 over several years. OCHLT can buy back the housing at the $100,000 price.
There’s only one problem, OCHLT can’t qualify lower income homebuyers at that $100,000 price. According to Mr. Dowling, by the time you figure in higher tax rates, home owners association dues and a stagnant median income standard, Mr. Dowling says, “many potential owners are priced out”.
Put simply, the OCHLT is in a financial mode of negative cash flow even with regards to selling its permanent stable of OCHLT owned housing. It can only sell the units it bought about five years ago at a loss of about 10% of capital because median income isn't increasing apace with housing costs.
Compounding a failed business model is the fact that OCHLT puts lower income residents into housing that they cannot afford to maintain. Only after having established an empire requiring his lifetime assistance has Mr. Dowling included the cost of maintenance by lower income homeowners into the model. He now estimates that over the next 25 years (taking him comfortably into retirement) OCHLT will need at least $1,500,000 in maintenance grants to OCHLT borrowed homeowners.
PILOS of Cash to the Rescue
No need to worry. Here’s where PILOs come to the rescue. Mr. Dowling wants local governance boards to fund the maintenance grants through PILOs, in yet another local, financially imbalanced, Ponzi scheme.
Chapel Hill Councilor and public micturator defender Mark Kleinschmidt says, “I think it speaks better of us when we find other ways of taking care of our affordable housing non-profits that don't take away from the ultimate goal of putting units on the ground.,” He’s also concerned that PILOS interfere with ”getting units on the ground, having a place for people to live.”
Showing continued trouble in adopting a “facts optional” approach to governance, Chapel Hill Councilor Matt Czajkowski counters Mr. Kleinschmidt’s visions by saying, ”My notion is, we've got a problem, we don't see any other source of funding and therefore we should try to fix the problem right now by accepting payment-in-lieu.”
See the Herald Sun PILO Sory.
Failure Is Its Own Reward
No word from the Assembly of Government on the causal relationship between the failure to include maintenance costs in a funding program and the awarding of a 25% annual pay increase for such failure.
As noted last week in a public statement by Chapel Hill Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt, “We're a community that fortunately has a lot of people on the street at a time. Those people are having a good time and visiting businesses downtown and they're walking around spending money. That kind of place is generally where people ask for money and where people gravitate to.”
Recognizing the ”geniousity” of Mr. Kleinschmidt, a gentleman armed with a shotgun is believed by police to have committed two robberies within 10 minutes of each other on Sunday evening (20 July 2008).
Two men were walking south in an alley near the Varsity Theatre toward East Franklin Street around 6:30 p.m. A man approached them, produced a shotgun and demanded money. About 10 minutes later, a woman was in her vehicle using at automated-teller machine at a Wachovia Bank at University Mall, at South Estes Drive and U.S. Highway 15-501. Allegedly, a car pulled up beside her. A man with the same description as the Franklin Street robber got out of the car and approached her vehicle. He produced a shotgun and demanded money.
(See WRAL Robbery Story.)
The failure of Chapel Hill to arrest a resident charged with serial misdemeanor criminal offenses leads to the fecal smearing of a public bathroom in Sugarland, a Franklin Street business in downtown Chapel Hill. Town leaders don’t rally to the victim, the business owner. In a “three stooges” response so typical of Chapel Hill, they rally instead to the side of the fecal smearer.
If you commit misdemeanor crimes and warrants are issued, in most towns in North Carolina you will be arrested. Not so in Chapel Hill.
Here are the bare facts, as reported by the local media. (See Herald Sun Homeless Man Story.)
Walter Cates, a homeless man, was being held in lieu of $300 secured bond in the medical unit of Raleigh's Central Prison on Thursday, one day after a warrant was taken out by the owners of Sugarland. (See Sugarland.) He was arrested in the 100 block of Main Street in Carrboro.
Mr. Cates is wheelchair-bound with part of one leg amputated as a result of severe diabetes. He regularly sits outside Sugarland near a bus stop and a crosswalk.
On 15 July 2008 a man wheeled Cates into the bathroom at Sugarland. Co-owner Katrina Ryan told the two men to leave, citing previous disputes with Cates and complaints of trespassing they'd filed with the Chapel Hill Police Department. They refused to leave the bathroom. When Cates exited about 15 minutes later, Ms. Ryan found human feces scattered on the floor and smeared on the walls.
Upon being called to the scene, the Chapel Hill police told Ms. Ryan that they couldn’t arrest Mr. Cates because they hadn’t seen him smear the feces on the wall. However, the police stepped in and told Mr. Cates to leave and not return to Sugarland.
Too bad the local media doesn't report that in Chapel Hill, no one from the town government will step in and assist a business owner until they have feces smeared on their walls… and then only out of fear of embarrassment will they give as minimalhelp as possible.
In Chapel Hill, victims have to go out and claim justice for themselves. So the Sugarland owners had to go into court without town support and repeat their complaints to a magistrate the next morning in order to geta warrant.
Pulpsters may remember previous Pulp stories about troubles downtown. (See Pulp Genital Exposer Story and
Pulp Genital Exposing Civil Rights Story.)
Yes, Mr. Cates was involved.
No, no one from the local media or police did anything after the Pulp publications.
Why is that important?
Mr. Cates has gotten bolder in his criminal actions over time, what one would expect as a rational response to irresponsible criminal justice administration. The untold story is that Councilors (such as Sally Greene and Mark Kleinschmidt) have interfered with the administration of justice using their executive imprimatur.
Mr. Cates is alleged to expose his genitals to Sugarland employees. Town response is having Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt comes to his general defense.
Mr. Cates is alleged to lewdly solicit young women at Sugarland. A warrant is taken out. Nothing happens. In fact, according to Orange County officials, a series of warrants dating back to 2006 have charged Mr. Cates with disorderly conduct, soliciting or begging for money, misdemeanor larceny, driving with a revoked license, and, now, damage-to-property.
Frustrated by town inaction, Sugarland co-owner “Doc” Ryan is reported to say, ”It's horrible, We feel it's a fraudulent misrepresentation for the Town Council to say that they care about downtown at all.”
Town stooge “Moe” (Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt) charges “Doc” Ryan with being associated with a ”school of thought in town” that any punishment short of hauling panhandlers off Franklin Street and jailing them for a long period of time is too soft. “Moe” believes Chapel Hill's panhandling ordinances are “plenty tough”. In Chapel Hill you can get fined up to $50 if you ask for “contributions” within 6 feet of a bus stop, 20 feet of an ATM or on a town bus.
“Moe” Kleinschmidt also labors under the belief that Chapel Hill has ““challenges related to this issue that other communities don't have. We're a community that fortunately has a lot of people on the street at a time. Those people are having a good time and visiting businesses downtown and they're walking around spending money. That kind of place is generally where people ask for money and where people gravitate to.” (No report on whether or not “Moe” has ever visited the many towns scattered across North Carolina to see that, amazingly,they too have tourists walking sidewalks.)
Town stooge “Larry” (town manager Roger Stancil) responds to the arrest by blaming the actions of an individual on a broken mental health system in North Carolina. (There is no record of any mental health problem with Mr. Cates that would require being put in a mental health institution.) “Larry” says ”I think it's really easy to blame the town and the police because we're right here.”
Town stooge “Curley” (town police chief Brian Curran) says that Mr. Cates is a well-known exception who poses several challenges for the Chapel Hill Police. According to “Curley”, Mr. Cates' wheelchair is a problem for patrol cars. (Apparently, “Curley” forgets that the police own a number of SUVs that can easily accommodate someone with a wheelchair.) Also, if the Orange County jail doesn’t have room for Mr. Cates, then the police ask for Mr. Cates to be released. (No word on why “Curley” felt that feces had to become involved before Mr. Cates is put in jail, as in this instance.)
“Curley” Curran also confirmed that Chapel Hill police have previously waited to serve warrants on Mr. Cates until he had sufficient warrants for them to be embarrassed at their inaction. For “Curley”, ”It's such a production to get Walter served. We're not talking about warrants where he's shooting people or anything like that; it's usually failure to appear or something like that.” (No word on whether or not any other miscreants are piling up warrants in Chapel Hill. If about to be arressted by Chapel Hill police, you can mention the policy regarding Mr. Cates and ask for equal treatment.)
Unbelievably, although Mr. Cates committed his fecal smearing less than two blocks from the local courthouse, according to “Curley” Curran, it's a ”challenge” getting Mr. Cates to show up in court. Because of his travel difficulties, the Chapel Hill police runs a taxi court service for Mr. Cates when he needs to show up.
In a related business story, sales of Sparky’s turd polish have skyrocketed.
As reported in April 2008 in the Pulp (see Pulp Exposer Expose), civil rights are important to Orange Progressive politicians. Not in the manner of Dr. King marching in Memphis for the rights of municipal workers, but in the manner of browbeating municipal workers (the local police) not to do their jobs.
Rogue Councilor Matt Czajkowski, continuing his streak of not drinking the Orange Progressive Cool-Aid, raised the specter that Chapel Hill may not have a monopoly on good governance, in general, and may not have workable solutions to unwanted public behavior such as public urination, public shouting of obscenities, or public genital exhibition, in particular. As can be seen on video (see Chapel Hill Meeting Video at the five hour mark), on 25 June 2008 Mr. Czajkowski spoke up about people not wanting to visit Franklin Street. He spoke about finding successful, proven ways to counteract unwanted public behavior downtown.
The bastions of Orange Progressive civil rights, Councilors Easthom, Greene, and Kleinschmidt acted as if Mr. Czajkowski had publicly urinated on the council table.
In a surreal demonstration as to how “reasonableness” is considered “unreasonable” in southern Orange, Councilor Greene led the charge by going off on the assertion that “it's already been done”. She did so without once admitting that there is a real problem with unwanted public behavior in downtown Chapel Hill.
Councilor Easthom bemoaned the problem as not being one of irresponsible behavior for which an individual should be held accountable. For her, the problem is one of the social condition imposed by society on an individual. Apparently, homelessness induces public urination lewdness, and obscenity.
But the piece de resistance of surreal argument belongs to Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt. He used Mr. Czajkowski giving the example of a “street person” shouting public obscenities as “proof” of Mr. Czajkowski being biased against street people in terms of their civil rights. Without Mr. Czajkowski having said anything like that either directly or indirecty, Councilor Kleinschmidt had no compunction in charging Councilor Czajkowski with being only against unwanted public behavior by street people. Apparently, Councilor Kleinschmidt feels that if 95% of the public urination is caused by a small minority of people, then implementing effective ordinances against public urination by those people would be a violation of their civil rights.
Pulpsters remember that Mr. Kleinschmidt previously has marched down to Chapel Hill Police Department headquarters and read the riot act… to the police concerning a gentlemen in a wheelchair who has publicly urinated in front of children at Kidzu. To Mr. Kleinschmidt, the rights of a serial lewd pervert demand more protection than the rights of young children.
No word on when room and board at their home will be offered the Franklin Street flasher by either Councilor Easthom, Greene, or Kleinschmidt.
On 14 May 2008, Chapel Hill Town Councilor Matt Czajkowski revealed once again that he’s not taking his political medications. He confused local town financing of elections with a guaranteed means for subsidizing incumbent campaigns.
Councilor Czajkowski got into a tussle with guardian of the civil right to micturate publicly, guardian of the civil right to expose genitalia publicly, and executive director of yet another local tax-exempt organization Councilor Mark Kleinschmidt. According to the stellar logic of Mr. Kleinschmidt, ensuring a candidate’s viability by requiring an unknown challenger to get a large number of contributors before receiving public money will increase the chances for a diversity of opinion on the town board. Mr. Kleinschmidt (an incumbent up for re-election next year and anticipating recipient of a taxpayer campaign subsidy) didn’t address the difference in difficulty between an unknown challenger reaching this goal and a well-known incumbent reaching this goal.
Town Councilor Laurin Easthom (also up for re-election next year and anticipating recipient of a taxpayer campaign subsidy) backed up Mr. Kleinchmidt in his circular thinking. Ms. Easthom, an apparently self-described not-as-privileged licensed realtor, licensed dentist, and amazingly low $460,000 assessed value, 4000 square foot homeowner in the Larkspur subdivision, raised the politics of envy by charging Mr. Czajkowski as being ”luckier” financially than most Chapel Hill citizens.
No word on whether or not the rest of the council will seek judicial authority to administer medications forcibly to Councilor Czajkowski.
No word on when the Councilors will file full financial disclosure statements to show just “how lucky” each has been in life.
See Pulp Czajkowski Transfer Tax Story.
On 22 April 2008, Chapel Hill town Councilman Matt Czajkowski revealed once again that he’s not taking his political medication. He’s not drinking the Chapelboro Cool-Aid.
A public hearing was held concerning the proposed “Residences at Grove Park”, yet another higher density infill project for Chapel Hill. The proposal is to tear down 111 units on 12.9 acres and replace them with 346 units and 580 parking spaces. The site is located between Hillsborough Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at 624 and 626 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and at 425 and 429 Hillsborough Street
The developer is none other than Ram Development, the development group that is in partnership with the town of Chapel Hill in developing the town-owned Parking Lot 5 on West Franklin Street.
Councilman Matt Czajkowski had the audacity to question Mr. George Cianciolo (Chapel Hill Planning Board chair) with questions about why higher density infill is desirable for Chapel Hill, why growth for growth sakes is good public policy.
Further, Mr. Czajkowski showed disturbing logic in stating that “if more people are living in Chapel Hill but driving to work at RTP, what is accomplished by transit-oriented development? Certainly not a reduction in fuel usage or emissions”.
Finally, Mr. Czajkowski showed a complete lack of appreciation of planning poseur form (see Phictionary) in pointing out that Mr. Cianciolo was advocating for living near work and taking public transit while he doesn’t do so himself.
Consummate Chapelboro Cool-Aid drinker, executive director of yet another local tax-exempt organization, and on-again, off-again political power couple paramour, Mark Kleinschmidt showed the resolve of the majority of the board, stating that Chapel Hill is under a lot of pressure by developers who want to build similar properties. Speaking the language of a staunch property rights Republican, Mr. Kleinschmidt opined ”We as the town can't strip someone's private property interests from them. No matter how much we want to do that in some instances, we can't do it. It's a fundamental right that they have. We can't close the door on that. We did it for eight or nine months in the northern area and you remember what that was like. Everyone was screaming at us. We got sued.”
No word from Mr. Kleinschmidt on whether or not the town being a partner with Ram Development on Lot 5 colors his reasoning.
Civil rights are important to Orange Progressive politicians. Not in the manner of Dr. King marching in Memphis for the rights of municipal workers, but in the manner of browbeating municipal workers (the local police) not to do their jobs.
Local politicians often wonder out loud why more people don’t visit Franklin Street. You might get the chance to visit with an older gentleman in a wheelchair. He might lewdly solicit you if you're a young woman. He might urinate in front of you. Then again, he might just be content with exposing his genitalia to you.
The flashy Franklin Street fixture has been cited dozens of times for his questionable behavior. So what do Councilperson Sally Greene and Councilperson Mark Kleinschmidt do about this situation? Why they march right down to Chapel Hill Police Department headquarters and read the riot act… to the police.
The gentleman in the wheelchair has civil rights. He can’t be stopped from cruising Franklin Street sidewalks. He can’t be stopped from urinating at will in front of Kidzu.
Councilpersons Greene and Kleinschmidt appear to prefer to protect the rights of a serial lewd pervert over protecting the rights of young children.
No word on the affordable housing to be offered the Franklin Street flasher by the town council.
In early 2007 the Chapel Hill town council voted to approve $25,000 to write a new town inclusionary zoning ordinance. In charge of this yet-another task force project were Councilman Sally Greene, former Chapel Hill planning board member, research attorney, “friend of her backyard”, neighborhood conservation district advocate, and crack Lot 5 town negotiator, and Councilman Mark Kleinschmidt, executive director of yet another local tax-exempt organization and on-again, off-again political power couple paramour. The council contracted with White and Smith LLC, a national planning and law group with offices in Kansas City, Missouri, and Charleston, South Carolina, to write the new inclusionary zoning ordinance, despite the town employing an in-house attorney who provides counsel on zoning issues. (What’s inclusionary zoning? It’s the fancy cumbayah (see Phictionary) code phrase for affordable housing (again, see Phictionary).)
So where’s the ordinance? According to Ms. Greene $25,000 isn’t enough to write a zoning ordinance. The Chapel Hill Inclusionary Zoning Task Force needs more money. As reported by the Chapel Hill Herald, they also need a new consultant to ”get us to the goal line.”
Ms. Greene told the town council that the $25,000 “affordably written” ordinance was not what her task force expected. Her explanation? The crackerjack task force used an out-of-town consultant who didn’t hear the concerns of the task force.
Did the town council vote to require the contractor to deliver what was promised on their contract? No.
Did the town council vote to put another councilperson in charge? No.
Did the town council vote to have the town attorney finish the job? No.
The town council approved hiring a new consultant and using up to another $10,000 for the zoning ordinance.
No word on what bonuses will be awarded town staff for this brilliant example of municipal administration.
No word on whether or not the town council and its task force realize that Charleston and Kansas City aren’t in North Carolina.
See CHH Cumbayah Finance Story.
(See Ms. Greene’s Bio.)
In a strategic planning aka cumbaya (see Phictionary) session, Chapel Hill Councilman Matt Czajkowski spoke up about the social engineering aspects of the craze for developer profits in pushing mixed use developments. Mr. Czajkowski had the audacity to challenge if families prefer to live in high rise, multi-family, mixed use developments. ”Guys, you're making a massive assumption that families want to move into high density development.”
Mr. Czajkowski’s remarks were in response to Mayor Kevin Foy’s comment that ”We assume that mixed-use development is the best development, and on top of that, we assume that people want to live in dense development.”
In an Orange Progressive put-down, executive director of yet another local tax-exempt organization, on-again, off-again political power couple paramour, and fellow Town Councilman Mark Kleinschmidt accused Mr. Czajkowski of “harboring a 1950s perspective”. Readers should note that Mr. Kleinschmidt wasn’t born until the late 1960s and is not a practicing breeder (see Phictionary).
Town councilman Jim Ward piled on indicating that he didn’t care what ordinary families wanted. He doesn’t care if people want to live in high density developments. He assumes that it's the best way to grow Chapel Hill. “And you're making the assumption that they will or will not [live in whatever the council wants them to live in],”
No word on why any social engineering councilman thinks that growing Chapel Hill’s population is desirable.
No word of any discussion of carrying capacity occurring to the social engineers of the cumbayah circle.
See Chapel Hill Herald Cumbayah Story.