Chapel Hill: Opinion

What you’re saying: James Protzman, Leila Caroline Fallahi, Margot Carmichael Lester, Bonnie Hauser, Linda Convissor, David Schwartz

Voice our dismay

There was a time when Chapel Hill was known for its bright progressive activism. That needs to happen again. We as a community must voice our dismay about president-elect Trump. One simple way to do that would be to declare inauguration day as an official Day of Mourning. Here’s some language to consider:

WHEREAS, the people of the United States of America have elected a bigot, a misogynist, and a liar as president;

AND WHEREAS, the words and actions of the president-elect almost always violate basic human decency;

AND WHEREAS, despite extensive evidence that the election was manipulated by a foreign government, no institution of government has risen to challenge the integrity of the election;

AND WHEREAS, it seems inevitable that this horrible person will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017;

NOW THEREFORE, the Town of Chapel Hill hereby declares January 20, 2017, to be an official Day of Mourning.

There’s not much we as individuals can do at this time of national distress. Perhaps the town council and mayor will be our voice of dissent. Encourage them to take a stand, right here and right now. Our silence is complicity.

James Protzman

Chapel Hill

Flag forever tainted

Regarding Mary Carey’s column “Schools, the flag and ‘the face’” (CHN, Jan. 8):

I believe very strongly that a person can have pride in being an American and a Southern American at that, without displaying the Confederate flag. I’ve heard people say that it carries the symbol of southern unity as a justification for using it. This so called “unity” that it represents is an extremely selective unity. Let us all remember who was being united and who was being oppressed and dehumanized! It carries the weight of oppression, human indecency, and bigotry that “united” the South. This flag will forever be tainted with the blood, sweat, and tears of those it fought so hard to dehumanize and oppress.

As a young adult who attended Chapel Hill-Carrboro public schools from kindergarten until 12th grade, this is an issue that hits close to home. I love this school system, North Carolina, and the South as a whole. And because of this love, I am steadfast in my belief that the flag won’t bring about unity and peace for our children and humanity. It is then so very crucial to me to state just how risky it is to believe that since we “haven’t noticed any disruptions to learning,” we shouldn’t ban its usage. I promise you that it is so unbelievably distracting and terrifying for myself and my peers to witness someone utilizing the Confederate flag in class.

Whenever I see this symbol, it sears and then brands itself into my mind that people in my own school want to dismantle all of the equality and justice that we have so grievously achieved so far. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I align myself with this kind of proactive moral and just thinking. We cannot allow the flag to threaten what is just here or anywhere else. It is time for the people of Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools, from all walks of life, to take a firm stand against what the Confederate flag represents and brings about within our schools.

Leila Caroline Fallahi


Mortgaging our future

Breaking news: GoTriangle expects to fill the DOLRT funding gap – over $600 million – with loans. How exactly do they plan to pay them back?

Now that the local portion of DOLRT is estimated at $1 billion, GoTriangle suggests borrowing an additional $696 million over the years 2020-28. According to GoTriangle’s report, the additional funds needed to pay back the loans are not committed. That means local leaders will have to find the money - but not for a couple of years - and then it will be too late to change course.

GoTriangle’s plan assumes that the state funds 10 percent of the project and Orange County’s sales tax grows at 4.1% a year -- That’s pretty agressive considering that Orange County’s sales tax has not been growing at all. Compounding distortions add to the confusion.

The greater concern is we are mortaging our future on an outdated technology that doesnt meet our needs. In four short years since GoTriangle started the project, the costs have nearly doubled, and the trains have gotten a lot slower and less frequent. The plan does not service Chatham Park, RTP, RDU or Mebane, or our growing senior population. Plus, by the time that the project is completed by 2028 the technology will be obsolete.

In 2008, we learned about the risks and pitfalls of too much debt. For DOLRT, there’s the added risk of obsolescence. Imagine if instead of spending the next 10 years paying back loans on an outdated light rail corridor, Orange and Durham were investing our transit monies in a plan that prepares us for the future?

Bonnie Hauser

Orange County

Free market magic

Regarding Mark Zimmerman’s column “No need for wall when rules keep people out” (CHN, Jan. 2)

Once you get beyond the usual straw men, false dichotomies and dubious economic arguments in Mr. Zimmerman’s columns, his beef with those who supported the challengers in the 2015 election basically comes down to differing beliefs about the proper role of government in shaping town growth and development. Zimmerman, a Realtor with Libertarian sympathies, seems to believe that whatever the problem is, less government regulation and more free market magic is the answer.

In this column he warns that the modest efforts on the part of the new mayor and council members to better balance residential with commercial growth will turn Chapel Hill into an exclusive wealthy enclave of high-priced homes and little else. His solution? Less government regulation!

By contrast, those who elected a new mayor and new council members in 2015 tend to be skeptical that a deregulated real estate market left to its own devices will deliver a desirable mix of new housing and commercial development or fulfill the many other community goals that elected officials must take into account when setting land use policy. And the disappointing results to date of the town’s experiement with deregulation in Ephesus-Fordham shows the skepticism to be well waranted.

I, for one, welcome the change in tone and in policy that Mayor Hemminger and the new council members have brought to town government and look forward to their continued efforts in 2017 to make Chapel Hill both livable and inclusive.

David Schwartz


Not Chapel Hill I grew up in

Regarding Mark Zimmerman’s column “No need for wall when rules keep people out” (CHN, Jan. 2)

Mr. Zimmerman sums up my thoughts exactly. This is not the Chapel Hill I grew up in – and it has me frequently thinking about leaving it for a more welcoming community. But then CHALT would win. So I’ll keep fighting.

Please don’t think racism, classism and fear are only peddled by our president-elect, his legislative cronies and their followers. Don’t think it’s just the loudest tweeters or people who live in “rural America.” Your suburban community, full of well-educated people, is increasingly creating policies that promote racism, economic inequity and exclusivity. It’s happening here, people. Wake up.

Margot Carmichael Lester


Was town ever affordable?

Was there ever a time when housing in Chapel Hill was affordable? I’m not being facetious, I really would like to know if there was a moment when the balance tipped and what year that was.

We moved here in 1979 and the only rentals available were the new apartments out on the bypass. There were only a few very small brick ranch houses (not very well built) in Chapel Hill or Carrboro that we could afford. To find a house, we had to move (literally) across the county line to Durham where the prices were much less even back then. My guess is that things changed at a point when UNC and RTP expanded similtaneously, but I don’t know when that was.

Linda Convissor


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