Update: Former Director of Housekeeping Services Bill Burston "is no longer employed" by UNC as of Wednesday, a campus spokeswoman confirmed Friday. Burston was removed from his director role in June amid employee complaints and reassigned to a new role. University Mail Services Director Lea Holt was named interim. The school will begin a search for a new full-time director immediately.
PRM Consulting, the Washington, D.C., firm UNC hired in March to investigate claims of discrimination, harassment and other poor working conditions in its housing department, released 45 recommendations for change Thursday, including a new performance evaluation for managers and an audit or all new hires and promotions.
Surveys with 400 housekeeping employees revealed “a culture with employee morale issues, lack of trust and overall frustration.”
At least 30 percent or those queried disagreed or strongly disagreed that work assignments are made fairly, that management promotes an environment of respect and dignity, free of harassment, discrimination and intimidation and that management cares about the welfare of its employees.
Results were detailed to housekeepers at three closed-to-the-media meetings Thursday to cover all shifts, before the report was publicly released.
Last year, the Indy reported that housekeepers were being suspended without pay for taking their entitled breaks. Housekeepers and their supporters rallied and delivered a collective grievance to Thorp.
In June, we reported that housekeeper Amanda Hulon filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against supervisor Wade Farrington stating that he offered her a promotion in exchange for sex and touched her inappropriately.
In his memo to faculty and staff, Thorp announced 10 steps to respond to the report, among them: establishing an advisory committee of housekeeping employees, conducting a study of salaries in the department to determine possible pay discrepancies and reviewing and revising recruitment and hiring practices,
“As expected, the report makes it clear that Housekeeping Services has substantial issues that the University must address. More importantly, the report also offers a host of recommendations and potential action items that we can consider, on both a short- and long-term basis,” Thorp wrote.
“I am absolutely committed to making things right in Housekeeping Services. We have been working to fix these problems, but those sincere attempts have fallen short.”
Look for analysis and more on the consultant’s report in Wednesday’s print edition.
Sara Isaacson, the former UNC ROTC cadet who was told to repay $79,285.14 in federal scholarship money after she informed her commanding officer that she is a lesbian, said she is relieved that the wait is complete and she is ready to re-enroll after Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed Tuesday.
Isaacson plans to return as a student in the spring semester to finish her last ROTC course, ARMY 402 “Officership,” before commissioning in May.
“I hope I'll be able to get right back in swing of things,” she said. “I will have been out almost two years by the time I actually get back in, so I'm sure I’m a little bit rusty on some of the things that used to be very natural to me.”
Candidates for Chapel Hill Town Council and mayor were smitten with affinity for downtown Thursday during the first forum of campaign season.
Sponsored by the Friends of Downtown, a nonprofit advocacy group led by former Town Councilwoman Pat Evans, the debate at the Franklin Hotel focused on parking, panhandling and creating and maintaining local businesses in the Town Center.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt engaged in an interesting debate with Tim Sookram in the battle for the mayor's office.
Read on to hear it straight from the horses (err, candidates) mouths, in the order that they stumped:
If Chapel Hill were a restaurant, it would be dawdling in the kitchen while diners impatiently waited for their meals.
After 11 months of deliberation, town officials still may not decide on legalization of food trucks until an Oct. 17 public hearing, at the earliest.
On Monday, 20 food truck vendors, citizens and politicians attended an informational session during which Chapel Hill Principal Planner Kendal Brown rolled out proposed regulations to govern the eateries on wheels.
Among the key stipulations:
-Trucks would be allowed only on paved, private, commercially zoned parking lots that have at least 10 designated spaces; vendors must have the landowner’s permission.
-Trucks could operate only when the business that regularly uses the lot is closed, and they must be parked 200 feet from the customer entrance of any restaurant.
-In addition, in some districts outside downtown, there could be only one vendor per 100 parking spaces or per acre, with a maximum of two vendors per lot.
Books, countless Johnny Cash CDs, PTA Thrift Shop jewelry, harmonicas, gently used guitars, bicycles, unpackaged single lightbulbs.
"His pockets were full of the strangest oddities, and they would come out at any moment," said Scott Conary, who owns Open Eye, the coffee shop where Harman was a staple.
"He gave me earrings with an 'L' on it," said Sara Gebhart, a former barista . "I said, 'You know my name doesn't start with an 'L.'' He said, 'That's for 'Love' God damn it.'"
Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, Person, one of 10 state senators drawn into the same district as another sitting senator under the redistricting proposal Republicans released Tuesday, says she would seek to hold onto her seat, but running against a colleague would be “a very difficult situation.”Sen. Bob Atwater, D-Chatham, Durham, Lee, in his fourth term, would be forced to square off.
“Bob is a very good senator in Chatham County and running against a friend and fellow senator is very disappointing to me,” she said. “It’s a stressful situation and we certainly are not looking forward to it.”
The situation is not new for Kinnaird who defeated colleague Howard Lee in 2002 when their districts were merged. She won a hard-fought, but respectful primary campaign by just 119 votes.
The candidate-filing period opened with a flourish Friday in Orange County as mayors from Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough all signed up to defend their seats and challengers emerged in the Chapel Hill Town Council and Board of Alderman races.
In Chapel Hill, Lee Storrow and August Cho filed as expected, and Laney Dale, a tech entrepreneur who moved to town four years ago, joined the race for the four open positions on the nine- member, including the mayor, council.
He is the CEO and founder of two start-up companies, Appuware and Appubater, which create computer and mobile applications. Appuwhere allows customers to be developers. Appubater accepts ideas from clients and partners to realize them.
Both businesses are located in Durham, and Dale says Chapel Hill needs to work to make it easier for businesses to establish offices there.
Chapel Hill High School alumnus James Barrett announced today his candidacy for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.
“We as a community share a set of goals and values for our school district. Now is the time to do things a little differently to make real progress on those goals,” he stated in a press release.
Barrett, who also attended Seawell Elementary School and Phillips Middle School, moved back to the Triangle in 1995 after working in Atlanta, and says the time is ripe for reform. New superintendent Thomas Forcella will take the reins July 1 replacing Neil Pedersen, who will step down after 19 years, which makes him the longest tenured superintendent in the district’s history.
After almost eight years serving as Carrboro town manager, Steve Stewart announced Wednesday that he will retire in late summer or early fall.
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said that Stewart has helped Carrboro through a period of intense new planning for bicycle and pedestrian pathways and helped move through the planning phases of Carrboro’s greenway system. Stewart also helped reduce the price of health insurance for town employees, without reducing benefits, Chilton said.
“He’s done a lot of things like those to make our town government more cost effective and yet continue to provide the services citizens can count on,” Chilton said.
It would have been easy for the UNC queer community to be angry with first-year student Quinn Matney.
He’d just put them through a roller-coaster week, first claiming to be the victim of an on-campus branding April 4 because of his sexual orientation and later admitting to police that his wounds were self-inflicted.
UNC Department of Public Safety investigators charged Matney on Friday with filing a false police report. He surrendered voluntarily and was released. He will appear in Orange County Court on May 16.
Earlier that week, allies had taken to the airwaves with declarative statements about campus safety and expressed outrage that an attack could happen on campus. They felt attacked at first, then confused, shocked and left wondering.
But on Thursday night at a meeting sponsored by the UNC Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight Alliance, the Gardner Hall room was full of love, not anger.
“My first priority is making sure he know that the time is right for him to come back here, he will be welcomed with open arms."