Who pays for bad decision?
Two weeks ago the N.C. Supreme Court unanimously struck down the town of Chapel Hill’s “cell phone ordinance” (CHN, bit.ly/1ywipWn). In and of itself that was not a surprise. Pursuant to my request, the state attorney general had informed the town in writing that it didn’t have the authority.
Unfortunately, the court also effectively eliminated the town’s authority to regulate fees charged by towing companies. The town has been regulating towing fees since 2008 and its towing ordinance has been in place since 2001. Many other cities and towns in North Carolina also regulate towing fees.
The town’s towing ordinance had not been challenged until the cell phone ordinance was passed. By passing the cell phone ordinance the town of Chapel Hill has now lost its ability to regulate towing fees and jeopardized the ability of all other cities and towns in North Carolina to regulate towing fees. Those who defend the vote argue that the ordinance would have been challenged anyway. Perhaps – but it hadn’t been challenged here or anywhere else prior to passage of the cell phone ordinance, which the plaintiffs then linked to the towing ordinance. Citizens can be the judge.
So what is the impact on Chapel Hill residents and visitors? According to emails received by the town, towing fees are approximately $100 or more higher than when the ordinance regulated fees and the fees can be completely arbitrary. Indeed they have been higher since 2012 when the ordinance was first challenged.
Five council members voted for the cell phone ordinance.” They voted for a cell phone ordinance that would have had a minimal impact (eventually it was described as being more for education than enforcement) but the risk of unintended consequences was high. In risk/reward terms it was a bad decision and they were told as much by those of us who opposed it. Who pays for this? Sadly the citizens of Chapel Hill and our visitors.
Should there be any accountability for those who voted for it?
Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council.
Best library proposal
It is great that four sound proposals have been submitted for the use of the old Chapel Hill library building at Franklin and Boundary streets (CHN, June 16, bit.ly/1iuki14). However, one stands out as being the most stellar because it puts forth a plan that keeps it on the tax roll, provides a service for all Chapel Hill residents and involves the visionary architect Phil Szostak, (Think DPAC!)
This town needs a space for small performances and art shows that would showcase local talent. I live and work in downtown Chapel Hill and young people tell me all the time that Durham is more welcoming for the young creative class. What could be a better way to keep these young people in our town then to offer a performance space that would make us all proud!
This space could serve residents of all ages and help bring a breathe of fresh air to the cultural arts of the town. Some residents have already expressed concern about noise and increased traffic but I don't see that as a problem because you could always regulate attendance by offering advanced reservations and tickets. Besides there is plenty of parking after 5 p.m. across the street in the planetarium parking lot.
Kudos to the Coxes for this proposal and offering to buy the building for $25,000 above the highest bidder and offering to be the caretakers. We all need to get behind this plan!
The problem with ‘the problem’
I found the letter by Jerry Carr “The problem with history” (CHN, bit.ly/1powxLb) annoying: It offers a politically correct compromise. If these historians are serious and want to teach on the basis of equal opportunity for long-gone heroes and villains, they will have plenty material to work on.
For example, the numerous places named after the oppressor William Tryon: We drive on Tryon Road, we live in Tryon town by Tryon Mountain, and so on. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to rename those places remembering the execution of the people who dared to protest against taxes used for Tryon’s palace, not to mention his participation in the conspiracy to kill George Washington!
There are plenty of insulting names around, e.g., the road in Durham named after General C. Cornwallis responsible for atrocities against patriots.
“Progressives” from the not so distant past have shown us how to deal efficiently with pesky historical problems. First, remove politically incorrect monuments, rewrite encyclopedias (the Soviet ones were regularly rewritten) and textbooks to keep up with teachings of the day, purge libraries and change street signs.
I should admit that Mr. Carr moaning about the destructive influence of Silent Sam on students and visitors offers a compromise. Not insisting on destroying, renaming or removing, he proposes to install the sources of information explaining the monument’s obscure history. But why only to those monuments? To be consistently ridiculous, we also should attach QR codes on all places named after the British executioners spreading terror here in past and other politically incorrect objects. Maybe the title “The problem with history” should be read as a “The problem with lack of history knowledge caused by insufficient teaching this subject at schools”?
Waiting 70 years
To all supporters, donors or interested community members,
Thanks to your donations, a group of four local high schoolers took two World War II veterans back to Normandy, France, for the 70th and final D-Day ceremony. As a growing family, we raised $10,000 over a six-month span to fund the flights for the veterans and their respective family members. We spent quite possibly the greatest week of our entire lives helping two veterans, Ed Chappell and Mark Sumner, relive history and complete a dream.
Ed Chappell waited 70 years to go back to the Normandy beaches where he himself landed six times with his LCT crew on that fateful day, and two weeks ago we watched that very same humble man be applauded by the French people.
Mark Sumner waited 70 years to go back to the same country he helped liberate, and was honored two weeks ago, along with Ed, at the Mardasson Memorial in Bastogne, Belgium. None of this would have been possible if it were not for our community stepping up and helping us get the job done, and for that we are all eternally grateful.
Please come and relive these memories that you helped create with us, along with Ed and Mark, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 26, at the Seymour Center on Homestead Road in Chapel Hill. Appetizers will be served, and we will be giving a presentation about our big adventure.
If you have any questions as to what’s going to happen, or have any general questions: please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smith Middle School
As a veteran with a small VA disability rating I can’t find any room for sympathy for Marc Schenker who was featured in the New York Times article the N&O ran recently ( nyti.ms/1lW2JS9). His complaint that the long wait for a hernia operation forced him to use Medicare and a non-VA provider clearly shows he does not need to use the VA.
While all eligible veterans may use the VA, I learned while working for the VA that the priorities for care are veterans with service connected health problems and those who are indigent and without any other options. Mr. Schenker and other veterans who have access to medical care outside the VA should seriously consider care outside the VA for non-service connected healthcare needs.
The only reason I go the VA at all is because of my service connected disability. I limit my visits to only those that are necessary because I know there is great demand and there are veterans who need the VA more than I do. Those veterans who do have other options should try to help their less fortunate comrades get timely healthcare by not overburdening the system and then complaining about lack of responsiveness.
Robert L. Porreca