Chapel Hill News

The Conversation: Peter Aitken, Julie McClintock and Jay Patel

Chapel Hill hospitality

When those heavy snow and ice storms hit us during the week of Feb. 23, we at The Franklin Hotel found ourselves in a complete blackout for about 34 hours. We were expecting a full house that Thursday night and through the weekend.

So we had to quickly find alternate accommodations for our guests on Thursday night, and find other ways to prepare for the arrivals of 50-plus guests on Friday. As we called around trying to overcome these challenges two people come to our rescue in a big way – our competitors!

Anthony Carey at The Siena offered his hotel’s laundry facility to us so that we could launder our own linens. Without hesitation he invited us into his property and made our team feel welcome while we completed our work late into the night. And Erin Dale at the Courtyard by Marriott set aside the last five rooms they had. She accommodated one of our groups at a reasonable price even if that meant potentially turning away other, more lucrative business.

We are lucky to have such kind and generous neighbors. All of us at The Franklin are very grateful!

Jay Patel

Chapel Hill

Public interest sacrificed

While Mark Zimmerman rightly warns us that we may lose more local control thanks to pending North Carolina legislative bills, community rights and the public interest no longer trump property rights here in Chapel Hill.

The Town Council represents us (the public interest), but lately they’ve made decisions that grant property owners permits that give the developers everything they ask. For example, in the recent permit approval for The Edge project on Eubanks Road the council allowed many exceptions from town ordinances, and drove a weak bargain for the community – plans to retail and affordable housing are left up in the air, with no assurance they will be met.

The council threw in the carrot of building in the watershed, contrary to state and local rules – does the town support seeking an exception from the state? To cap it all on this pendulum swing, the taxpayers will make up the difference on the road improvements. It's the public interest that has been sacrificed!

Julie McClintock

Chapel Hill

Destroying democracy

Here’s a scenario to ponder: the federal government, controlled by Democrats, tells North Carolina, “Your voting districts for state senators and representatives must be drawn precisely the way we say, and you have no voice in the matter. The districts favor Democratic candidates, but that’s just a coincidence.”

Can you imagine the resulting outrage? And, it would be well-justified outrage.

Yet this is exactly what the Republicans in Raleigh are trying to do to Wake County by forcing changes to the voting districts for the county commissioners. I am surprised that this is even legal. Why on earth should representatives from Wilmington, Asheville, Manteo, Charlotte and Elizabeth City have anything to say about how Wake County residents elect their commissioners? This is yet another page in the Republican playbook to distort democracy and subvert the will of the people in order to stay in power, just like the congressional district gerrymandering which, in 2014, resulted in Democrats winning only 21 percent of the seats while receiving 46 percent of the popular vote.

Can anyone seriously say that this is the democratic process in action? Legal or not, it is wrong and in violation of basic American principals. Don’t let the Republicans destroy our democracy.

Peter Aitken

Chapel Hill

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