With all the talk about restructuring Chapel Hill's advisory boards, I thought it might be good time to publicly share my idea for a new board to help foster better civic engagement and more open government, while also addressing the gap left by firing the technology advisory board 7 years ago. I shared this proposal with the Mayor's Committee on Communications in late 2010, but there didn't seem to be much interest at the time. Maybe now there is an opportunity to do something to make Chapel Hill more participatory and democratic.
Ruby Sinreich's blog
Today I am very happy to announce that we have a new member joining the OrangePolitics Posse (a.k.a. editorial board)! Travis Crayton has been a regular poster & commenter here on OP for almost 2 years. Travis first became interested in local issues when he served as treasurer and an active volunteer for Lee Storrow's 2011 campaign. Since then, he's become particularly interested in transit, economic development, town-university relations, and all things downtown. He graduates this Sunday from UNC with a degree in political science and public policy.
As an alumn, I am pretty excited to have a woman chancellor at UNC. I also like that she's an environmental scientist. I'm always wary of folks without strong roots in the community, but Dr. Folt has a lot of potential.
What do y'all think?
Orange County's new Community Giving Fund isn't what it sounds like. You might think a "community giving fund" would give to the community. Which would make sense. Instead people are supposed to donate toward the same County government to which we already pay property, sales, vehicle taxes as well as other fees. Do other governmental bodies solicit donations in this way? What if donors' priorities don't match those of the commissioners or the staff?
Can I donate to support the recycling program that Manager Clifton is trying to cancel, or toward a walkable library in Carrboro? Or perhaps we could take up a collection to hire some qualified planning staff for the County.
If you live in Carrboro, you will be selecting your newest member of the Board of Aldermen today. Now, it's true you only have one option, but it's a really good one!
For the rest of us, there's not much to do but speculate about the turnout and celebrate Damon's victory. How many voters do you think will cast ballots today?
Chad Johnston is the director of Chapel Hill's grassroots public access station The People's Channel. Not many people truly know the scope of the contributions he has made toward democratizing media both in Orange County and in Orange County. Sadly he's leaving us to run a station in a bigger community. The Independent Weekly has a wonderful cover story about him this week, and the public is invited to a potluck to say farewell to Chad tonight at the TPC studio on Elliot Road. If you can't attend in person, you can watch it live on TV!
Last month the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board decided on the new school districts that will go into effect as we open our eleventh elementary school this fall. I was always aware that these school reassignment discussions were contentious, but now that my son will be starting kindergarten in 2014, I'm trying to learn a lot more about how our coveted educational sausage is made. Since my neighborhood was assigned to the walk zone of the brand-new Northside Elementary, I was able to wade deeper into the mucky reassignment debate without having much personal investment in the outcome.
I think the board did the right thing in choosing the plan that did the best job of distributing racial and economic diversity. But the process is inherently impossible. There is simply no way to put everyone in the school they want without inconveniencing someone else. In this post I attempt to briefly summarize how the whole 2012-2013 redistricting went down.
I've noticed that Raleigh and other nearby municipalities are using tools like SeeClickFix.com to help residents connect and use local government. Durham's even using it's own website called http://www.liveworkplaydurham.com/ where folks can post their ideas for improving the community.
As an experiment I threw together this SeeClickFix widget.