Leaders in the state House of Representatives passed two controversial bills Wednesday afternoon, sending both to the state Senate for consideration. One of the bills (HB 33) rules out documents from the Mexican Consulate for North Carolina issued to Mexican residents in our state as a valid form of identification or proof of residency. The second (HB 111) would allow people with handgun permits to carry weapons in parks and restaurants, including establishments that serve alcohol.
The act to disregard documents issued by the state’s Mexican Consulate would prohibit government entities, including schools, magistrates and police, from verifying someone’s identity or residency through a Mexican ID card, known as a “matricula consular,” or any similar documents issued by a foreign government. Although the act would include documents from other nations—potentially problematic for a state with internationally-renowned universities and global businesses—many House Democrats said the act was unfairly targeting Latinos.
Those pushing the bill, including sponsor Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford and Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, have said consular ID cards are often forged and used by illegal immigrants to stave off deportation. Opponents of the bill say cases of forgery are no more frequent than other forms of identification. Further, forgeries are being made more difficult with changes to the format.
Leaders in Durham and Carrboro have passed resolutions in recent years supporting the acceptance of Mexican consular ID cards as valid forms of identification. When Durham’s City Council passed its resolution last fall, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez was among its supporters.
The Innovation Center that UNC leaders had heralded as the first building to be built at Carolina North is unlikely to be constructed, Carolina North Executive Director Jack Evans said Wednesday night.
“I would simply summarize by saying that it’s unlikely to happen,” he said. “That’s another casualty of the economy. … If the financial markets hadn’t gone to hell, it would have been constructed by now.”a group of Chapel Hill residents at a public information meeting detailing the first Carolina North Annual Report, submitted to the town Sept. 1 as required by the university and town development agreement.
The Innovation Center was planned to be an 85,000 square foot, three-story building that would provide incubator space for startup companies and other private techonology companies.
Evans says discussions broke down the private partner Alexandria Real Estate Equities of Pasadena, Calif.
“It would take something that I don’t see in the offing to have that discussion,” he said.
Alexandria would have built and operated the space and UNC wanted to rent 1/3 of it. Because Alexandria is private, the company would have paid taxes on it. UNC is tax exempt. The UNC Board of Trustees approved plans for the center in August of 2008.
UNC planners now envision a research building as the first Carolina North edifice to be erected on the Horace Williams Tract, the 947-acre plot in Chapel Hill and Carrboro that will be home to the new campus.
Last November, as well documented by the rousing "Green Team" video below, Joe Green won a seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Election.
"We’re hopefully going to work hard for the school board and do a great job,” he says in the video, a thank you to voters and his campaign team.
Today Green announced that he’s going to work hard and do a great job elsewhere.
He turned in his resignation letter, leaving a hole on the seven-member board and three years on his term, in favor of a post at Marquette University.
Leaders at El Centro Hispano and the Latino Credit Union are set to celebrate the opening of their Carrboro branch one week from today.
Durham-based El Centro Hispano stepped up to fill a void in services for the expanding Orange County Latino population after nonprofit El Centro Latino folded in November.
The Carrboro branch of El Centro, which opened in July, will offer walk-in resource services at first in both English and Spanish. The staff serves as translators, mediators and anything else a non-native speaker could need while navigating daily life, including tax and legal assistance.
As the site gets established, leaders hope to add literacy, youth leadership, tutoring and HIV prevention programs.
El Centro Hispano has a temporary phone number in Carrboro, 943-9424. It’s located in unit FF of Carrboro Plaza and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
As expected, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Neil Pedersen announced tonight that his 19th year at the helm will be his last. Pedersen, the longest serving head in the 101-year history of the district, will step down June 30, 2011.
“Dr. Pedersen, are there any announcements?” Chairman Mike Kelley asked to start the meeting, inviting the elephant in the room to trumpet.
“Yes,” he said, smiling the cut the tension. “As you know, I’ve been giving serious consideration as to the best time for me to retire as superintendent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. As I complete my 18th year in this position, I’ve concluded that this will be the last year that I will seek to serve in this capacity.”
Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill/Carrboro were among 36 municipalities in North Carolina and almost 1,100 nationally to apply for Google Fiber, the company announced today.
The response was much more than they expected.
Now Google has launched a site that centralizes their efforts and calls on communities to translate their push for Google Fiber into a move for national and local legislation to create fiber infrastructure.
The site also features a thank you video that features, among others, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton. Does that provide any clues? We’ll have to wait to the end of the year to find out who Google has selected.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board Chairman Mike Kelley says he’s taking a deep breath. Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate coordinator Graig Meyer is avoiding speaking in the past tense. Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Schools Foundation director Kim Hoke sees a contract that hasn’t been renewed. The schools’ spokesperson isn’t speaking and the superintendent is referring all questions to a prepared statement.
“Until that time, I will not comment further regarding my future plans,” Pedersen states.
“The 2010-11 school year will present a normal array of challenges to my administration with respect to student achievement and dismal financial forecasts. Regardless of my decision, I need to devote my full attention every day throughout this year to providing leadership to this district as it faces these challenges.”
With 18 years of service at the top, Pedersen is the longest tenured school leader in the state and in the history of his district. He’s helped maintain and expand a tradition of top tier public schools, making the community desirable for young families and leading to two new high schools and six new schools since 1994.
Pedersen, who is on vacation, says he has long planned to take this summer to consider his future. The school system celebrated 100 years in 2009. Now they could be looking for a new author for the next chapters.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Neil Pedersen released a statement today addressing recent speculation about his impending retirement, saying he will announce a decision at the school board's July 22 meeting.
He came to the district in 1987 as assistant superintendent for support services, and he has been credited with helping guide the system to among the top in the state. Pedersen will be eligible for full retirement benefits this year, he says.
You can find the full statement here. Read more in Wednesday's edition of the Indy.
Read the letter from UNC to DENR: UNC_response_to_DENR_penalty.pdf.
Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health, which awarded UNC a $14.5 million construction grant for an expansion of the Bingham Facility, has peppered the university with questions about a series of problems with the wastewater treatment system at the site.
In a letter to UNC, NIH Grants Management Specialist Christy Leake noted that the site “has had a few wastewater issues” and asked the university for further explanations about the repair and configuration of the wastewater treatment system, the citations from DENR and the existence of wetlands.
Read the NIH letter and UNC's response: NIH_letter_05122010.pdf"> NIH_response_for_C06_RR029912-01-_Bingham_Facility.pdf
In the original grant application, UNC stated incorrectly that no wetlands were on the property. After UNC mapped the site, it discovered several and reported the error to DENR. The state agency then cited UNC for encroaching on these protected areas.
“Although these incidents have been painfully embarrassing to the institution, they have also taught us some valuable lessons," wrote William Roper, dean of UNC Medical School, and Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor for research and economic development.
UNC acknowledged to the NIH and DENR that there were “problems with the design and construction of the wastewater treatment system.” UNC will not repair the current wastewater system, which has been closed for several months.
The original contractor for the project, Diehl & Phillips, has been replaced by McKim & Creed, which will design a new system.
According to the penalty letter, the lagoon liner had more than 100 places that needed to be patched because there were deep cuts, perforations or seam damage.
Jay Zimmerman, regional supervisor for the Aquifer Protection Section of the Division of Water Quality, told the Indy there were several factors in assessing the penalty, including the subsequent releases from leaking and broken pipes in the wastewater system.
The penalty could have been more severe—as much as $25,000 per violation per day.
UNC has 30 days to respond to the penalty. It can appeal it, pay it or ask that it be reduced.
In a letter to neighbors, associate vice chancellor Dwayne Pinkney wrote that UNC is not surprised by the penalty because DENR had advised the university it could be fined last December.
"Meanwhile, we are moving forward with a study of an integrated water system for the Bingham Facility that will treat the wastewater generated there to the level of reclaimed water, which addresses your concerns about water usage and water quality. We will continue to update DENR and Orange County on our progress, to make sure past mistakes are not repeated."