Archive for the Transit Category

Pro Train Tax Forum at UNC

Posted in Taxes and Managment, Transit, Uncategorized on October 9, 2012 by seaweavermarine

It snowed last Monday night in Howell Hall on the UNC Campus. Light Rail Proponents ( former students), sought to bond with the meager crowed assembled for an “overview” of the proposed light rail tax noted it was wonderful the school finally installed AC in the hall. It was not required last night. It was below 50 degrees outside and the snow job broadcast to the audience to sell the Light Rail Tax to students was enough to put a chill into any real taxpayer of Orange County.
Only the happy aspects were presented. The Triangle Transit Treasurer doubling as the Orange County Commission Chairwoman, the Leader of the Sierra Club, Chapel Hill’s Chamber of Commerce Director, and an Author of a book on the Triangle were present.

Each had about a fifteen to twenty minute power point presentation touting all the wonderful things the Tax could do. Only the rosiest projections were cast except for when fear was required to make a pitch.

That fear came in the form of a projected 1.7 million new people moving to the “Triangle” and how best to cope with their transportation needs. The problem for me, was the Triangle Transit wiz and author of the “everything you want to know about the Triangle” book, could not tell the crowd what was going to draw this mass of humanity to Orange County.
What rate of growth in Orange is projected to accommodate this mass? He could not answer. Orange County has been run by one party for 122 years. It is historically hostile to any private development or industry. What sea change in philosophy could possibly occur to allow for industry and housing to build on a scale to accept or even attract this projected influx of people? Again, the guy who wrote the book had no answer. I can only suppose he had not taken into account the political history of the county or the election structure that allows a “Progressive” district to dictate the course of the entire county. Perhaps he had not considered a 700 page Unified Development Ordinance(regulations) that is 100 times larger than our neighboring county.The Chairwoman for Orange County said nothing about this massive regulatory hurdle being amended for the Economic development districts…what’s the point short of location?

My question as to the 200% increase in Tag Tax in relation to a populace that votes for the Transit Tax (and thus the Tag Tax) and their ability to avoid not paying the Tag tax as the bulk of students have cars registered out of state… was met with no satisfactory answer, but I did note the Triangle Director giving instructions to the “moderator” to shut down the meeting after the weak attempt.

I’m still not certain who proposed this meeting this meeting; it was published electronically 23 hours before it occurred. Beside the cast I mentioned, the Director and Planners of Triangle Transit were also present as well as at least two reporters and one  Pro Rail campus organizer. As far as I could tell I was the only opposition to the Rail Plan in attendance. Other County Commissioners I spoke to were not aware that it was taking place neither was a great portion of the public.

This was a targeted sales pitch to one select group of voters and in the interest of “transparency” it was released to one electronic media outlet at 8pm on a Sunday. Triangle Transit had enough notice to have 3 of their top brass in attendance. The Treasurer of Triangle Transit and Orange County Board Chair Bernadette Pelissier had notice to pull together a power point presentation as did Aaron Nelson, President of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce.

This is how Government works in Orange County. When a tax is needed, it knows where to curry votes. Drop some snow on the steep slopes of any lecture hall on UNC Campus… blow it around to hide the pitfalls and only invite your “friends”.
I am not anti-public transit. I am anti Light Rail. The Federal Transit Administration Data shows it is a failure and a burden to every local economy that implements it and to our In Debt Nation as a whole that foots the greater portion of the bill.

Government “transparency” makes the snow job hard to see in this picture

Orange County Residents pulling the Light Rail Load for the greater “Triangle”

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Mr Jacobs it is a constant refrain…

Posted in Transit on June 8, 2012 by seaweavermarine

My reply to a statement by Commissioner Barry Jacobs printed in the Carrboro Citizen

“I want to address this whole issue of who get’s what,” Jacobs said. “I won’t say I’m really tired of it; I will say it is a constant refrain.”

http://www.carrborocitizen.com/main/2012/06/07/transit-tax-to-appear-on-nov-ballot/comment-page-1/#comment-120542

Mr Jacobs,

It is a constant refrain and forgive me as I skipped a line in my text. ( I prefer to stare my public servant in the Eye than read)

If the Second district was not always playing second fiddle to the first you would not hear it.
If the Second district did not have a AVERAGE 45 minute ambulance response time…you would not hear it. (average means some calls take LONGER than 45 min.)
If the second District had the total control over electing their Representatives …you would not hear it.
THIS was my point Mr, Jacobs. As long as the election scheme in which District Two Representatives may be controlled by District One remains in place, You ARE going to hear it.
( I recommend utilizing state code § 153A‑58 (b) ….rather than (c) )
As long as second district is required to pull the wagon for the whims of the county, you are going to hear it.
You really need to visit the second district OUTSIDE of your normal paths. While you are there…ask “who wags Orange County?’ and then ask ” Who wags…(the first answer)”. What you will discover is the source of the constant refrain”

Seeing as you have served on the BoCC long enough to be qualified for FULL BENEFITS there is an opening for you to no longer “hear it”. Step down or lead a charge to properly allow districts to elect their representative without outside district influence. As fair and equitable public servant attempting to “treat” the second district “to the best of our ability”….stick to the “equitable” characteristic….and drop the “PROGRESSIVE ” attribute. We understand this means advancing liberal control…and as you can hear the Second District is quite done being controlled and asked to pay for First District whims.

We in the second District are NOT opposed to Public transportation. But being harnessed to pay for a Light Rail that absorbs such a great portion of the monies for a idea that appears nothing more than a UNC /DUKE employee/student shuttle is too much to bear.

When the Second District hears the great bemoaning of Southern Orange citizens who cannot get across this 7 mile wide GULF of FREE buses, the maze of sidewalks in the First and hear of the ridiculous $2.50 Fee for a full run on the Light Rail, we feel the strap lines that cut into our shoulders. We check the weight of our wallets and purses threatened by more taxes and tag fees for transit(on top of the existing), and we lament the influence of thousands of Transient Student Voters who will be here long enough to vote for a Chapel Hill Choo Choo and OUR representatives… but then leave us to pay for it. You may consider this…sustainability…but it is NOT SELF-sustaining.

Mr. Jacobs if you are tired of hearing the refrain, give the Second District control of our representatives.
http://wp.me/p2acSb-4D

As a side note: It was the height of silliness to hear Penny Rich compare the needs of 60 thousand citizens in Southern Orange to Phoenix Arizona and their expensive Light Rail for their 1.5 Million people. That is the type of “equitable” comparison making that is headed to the BoCC for the next 4 years.

Chris Weaver

Video

Comments to the BoCC on Transit June 5th

Posted in Transit, Uncategorized on June 6, 2012 by seaweavermarine

Note: this was my address to the BoCC on June 5th that, unfortunately was edited as I read it.-cw

 

Good Evening,

 

I would like to address what I see as a disparity in the taxation scheme to pay for this transit plan. As anyone can see the Transit plan has great designs for one particular portion of the county.

 

As we look at this plan, we see significant expenditures in the First district. When we look at who pays, we see a great disparity. Yes we all will pay a sales tax…those of us who still shop in Orange, but the vehicle registration fee is disproportional to the expenditures.

 

From the data I received from the NCDOT, as of last February, the combined vehicle registration for Orange County is 100,209. The combined vehicle registration of Chapel Hill and Carrboro is 50,095. Thus District two pays half the fees and receives token increases in “on demand” bus service.

 

I know of and have witnessed the rationalizations of population demands in regards to the proposed expenditures but the question still begs to be asked… is why should the rural area pay the same and receive less?

 

I know… Carrboro Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle said ” county residentsshould NOTreceive transit services in proportion to their investment in the overall plan”….but Mrs. Lavelle nor anyone else has explained why district One is to receive 88% if the total when their investment  is only half.

 

I wonder if  Mrs. Lavelle  and those who do not mind this lopsided expenditure of this proposed legacy tax realize that Chapel Hill and Carrboro are only 7 miles wide at their widest point? And that the average one way trip for District Two residents is 12 miles?

 

At the last Public hearing we listened to transient student voters who were encountering great difficulty getting across this gulf of free busses and sidewalks. Why should District Two be asked pay half of the fees to get these seasonal voters to a study group? Why should District Two pay for looks to be a Duke/ UNC employee shuttle?

 

 

 

 

This legacy Tax plan will predominantly serve the first district

It is that portion of the county that voted every one of you on to the board, it is that portion of the county that every single one of you must cater to if you wish to be re-elected under the voting structure intentionally presented to the citizens in 2006. This voting structure provides the illusion that the second district has some control over their representatives and the At Large representatives but this is not the case.

 

The control district One has over this entire board is symbolic in the fee structure of this plan in which District Two is slated to be harnessed to serve the transit desires of a district only 7 miles wide.

 

We need transit solutions in Orange County, Self-Sustaining solutions. While buses do not fit the definition of Self Sustainability very well, but in comparison to prolong, protracted expenses Light Rail, buses appear profitable. No matter what light rail system in the country this plan is compared to, none of them compare to our population, projected growth and not a single one of them has come online on budget. When has any government expenditure not gone over budget?

 

I would ask the board to reconsider the great amount of funding to be produced by district Two and the disproportional dispersal of these funds.

While not connected to this Transit plan…I applaud the effort to finally address the 45 minute average ambulance response time for district Two, however this expenditure is late, still inadequate and derived from other sources and in light of the revenue to be produced by the Second District, provides another glaring example how District Two is harnessed to suit our southern neighbors latest fancy in Light Rail.

Lydia Lavelle, Carboro Alderman says Rural Resident should Pay for Municipal Transit

Posted in In the media, Transit, Uncategorized on April 10, 2012 by seaweavermarine

” county residents should NOT  (cw)  receive transit services in proportion to their investment in the overall plan”-Lydia Lavelle

The Underlined is mine…but the implication is dead on.

A recent story on WCHL informed us that Orange County rural residents were upset because, although they represent 40% of the county population, they would only receive 12% of services under a newly proposed Orange County Bus plan.  One commissioner agreed, saying that it is crucial that county residents receive transit services in proportion to their investment in the overall plan.

I disagree.  Receiving services in proportion to one’s investment is not achievable, nor should it be, with regard to government services. -Lydia Lavelle
http://chapelboro.com/pages/10391214.php?pid=231604&commentId=6417840

Well….It sure appears that  one portion (District One) is going to be recieving proportional  returns and then some. I’m confused…this must be Municipal math. Rural residents should not receive proportional returns…nor should we expect it?  What manner of thinking is this?  If I did not know better… I would think Rural Residents of Orange County are no better than Beasts of Burden to serve by this thinking. How deep do the harness straps cut into your shoulders my friends?  Who is driving this cart?  When will those that pull be allowed to ride?
Just…How much treasure of the rural Orange Citizen…is enough for Lydia Lavelle to satisfy her idea of proportional return on investment ? 

I shudder to wonder….

Reply to DTH Article on Light Rail
http://www.dailytarheel.com/index.php/article/2012/04/half_cent_lookout_0417

Did anyone see the plan put out by the Planning Department? A power point presentation…w/ THREE SLIDES on Light Rail….one of which..is pretty pictures of Trains…The rest was minor…But it did include the route of the rail to which many are comparing to a UNC/ Duke employee shuttle. Really? well look at it.
This tax is a legacy tax. ALSO INCLUDED IS A TAG TAX FOR EVERY REGISTERED ROAD ITEM. It will never go away and that is NOT just for Citizens of Orange…but the State and the Nation. Note the flippant manner in which Local Government assumes state and federal funding….(play it again Sam) state and federal funding….
Has anyone seen the Federal Transit Data that is on record for…Charlotte?…CHAPEL HILL? These things BLEED dollars.
The economic development that will magically occur is a dream. Sorry…The citizens of this county were told of this bountiful harvest of econ diversity if….water and sewer were provided. It Has not happened. ANYONE wishing to “ride” the Econ Train will run headlong into a MASSIVE Unified Development Ordinance, Huge Permitting fees and red tape…AND a Historical Hostility to commercial FOR PROFIT growth (lets remember… non-profits add little to local coffers (the goal to reduce burden on property owners(… ideally)))
Charlotte’s numbers are Bad and we have not the base for”providing the rides, OR paying for the dream.
I suggest Rapid Buss service. Many communities around the nation are waking up to the costs of Light rail and are serving their communities w/ rapid Bus lines. The great thing, private individuals use the same infrastructure!
Look, we all want a cleaner environment…and we lead the WORLD and via the ICLEI (United Nations) 2007 planning Guide For Orange County We are doing very well indeed, but the Rent is TOO HIGH. The Costs never die. Charlotte is loosing $20 /rider. http://wp.me/p2acSb-4t It is madness that serves a select few of the entire county…and that’s just in Charlotte!
Anyone seen what the Rural areas are getting? Crumbs. There are not even Park and ride locations being considered….for buses…that are not planned.
This is a completely self serving idea. It puts a huge burden on the County who will never ride a Train but will pay for it in their sleep.
Anyone remotely interested in moving people…in Chapel Hill…should get behind the CRAZY IDEA…of raising the speed limit on MLK from 35MPH to…….40MPH.

The First BoCC Transportation Hearing is a Flop

Posted in Transit, Uncategorized on April 4, 2012 by seaweavermarine

There were 30 people in the gallery, 4 reporters and 6 government employees.

After lengthy email exchanges w/ the BoCC about my concern of Public Notice prior to this meeting, I received notice that the BoCC  just received an award for Excellence in Communications …That explains why there were only a handful to speak about the plan.

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Orange County was among 19 North Carolina governments to earn recognition in the fourth North Carolina City & County Communicators’ (NC3C) Excellence in Communications Awards presented Thursday,March 29 at the Carolina Inn as part NC3C’s annual Spring Conference.

As the BoCC saw fit to publish this weeks agenda  via email last Friday the 30th, it only allowed 2 work days for the public to become informed via the one person to person connection available. Of course the standard is a paid advertisement in the press…but when there are 4 different periodicals serving Orange, and none serving all, it is haphazard at best to assume “public notice” has been effective at gaining public notice, or simply meeting the requirement by law to hold a hearing on proposed tax increases. I suspect this will again be viewed as Business as Usual to the average citizen.

The good? Having heard from 6 on how poorly this plan has been presented and thus how difficult it is to provide input(in 3 minutes) the BoCC graciously approved 2 as yet clearly scheduled/located “public information sessions” where Planning Staff and Commissioners will be present to provide Give and Take answers to Questions.

This is an improvement.

The “Draft Plan” that the public was supposed to provide “input” on is here: http://orangecountync.gov/OCCLERKS/1204036a.pdf

Note there are 3 “slides” for Light rail…one of which has pretty pictures, and 10 much more detailed “slides” of Bus service. Note the cost of Light Rail, the portion of the tax devoted to it, and where it goes and the scant information provided…

There are many questions the citizens of Orange need to have answered. I’ll touch a few of mine.

  • When will the tax end?
  • If the terminus ends of the single Light Rail line as planned are the Hospitals and their affiliated branches…how does this portion of the transit plans NOT look like an Employee shuttle for UNC and Duke that the non-riding citizens will pay for in perpetuity?
  • as principal capital funding for the light rail comes from the Federal Government, (and we are the Federal Government)…and the future  Federal revenues generated by the next two generations of US citizens has already been spent…does the added tax burden locally,statewide and nationally merit this light rail portion of the plan that serves a select group of citizens?
  • Per the OC Planning Manager Craig Benedict, State and Federal funding must come through a competitive bidding process.  Does this mean the Light Rail portion of the Transit plan will be competing with the already bleeding cash-strapped Charlotte light rail system for funds? http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/2010/agency_profiles/4008.pdf
  • if the County is  focused on Economic Development (to ideally relieve pressure on the property owner), where are the plans for transportation into the existing Economic Zones?… especially those that are not crowded with non-profits that generate little revenue?

I did not touch Buses here. I have no real issue with them. Buses utilize existing infrastructure and can be easily rerouted as conditions warrant.  But note, Bus service into the rural areas is minimal. Note the lack of park and ride locations in the rural areas.
As any concerned citizen reviews this “Draft Plan”   that we the public are to provide “input on” to make the decision for a another tax that will never go away…many more questions will arise. I encourage all citizens of Orange to participate in educating themselves on this issue. It is not enough to rely on the County. They have their own pressures to implement this tax.

Here is Katelyn Ferral’s Blog in the meeting.  http://blogs.newsobserver.com/orangechat/orange-county-commissioners-seek-more-feedback-on-transit-plan

 

AT LAST …note Hearings…then public information sessions….

Orange County Transit Plan Public Hearing

ORANGE COUNTY, NC – Two public hearings were scheduled to be held on the proposed Orange County Transit Plan.

The first public hearing was held on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at the Social Services building in Hillsborough.

The second public hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at the Southern Human Services Center, 2501 Homestead Rd. in Chapel Hill.  The public hearing is part of a regular Orange County Board of County Commissioners’ meeting which starts at 7:00 p.m.

Public transit open house sessions will also be held on Monday, April 23, 2012 at Extraordinary Ventures located at 200 S. Elliot Rd., Chapel Hill from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (please call Triangle Transit, 919-485-7433) for additional information) and on Monday, April 30, 2012 in the Orange County West Campus Office Building located at 131 W. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ( please call Orange County Planning Department, 919-245-2575 for additional information).

Funding for the transit plan has been authorized by the NC General Assembly HB-148 in Orange, Durham and Wake Counties in the form of a ½ cent sales tax to be decided by voter referendum (possibly this November) and an increase to the vehicle registration fees.

The purpose of the transit tax is to provide new and expanded services to unserved, underserved and transit dependent populations.  This applies to Orange County for local, inter-county and rural areas, and as important, regional connectivity to Durham and Wake Counties.  Transit service providers would include Triangle Transit, Chapel Hill Transit and Orange Public Transportation.

A presentation will be made regarding the elements of the plan which includes:

  • Legislative Authority
  • Revenue Sources
  • Partnership with Durham County
  • Expenditures
    • Light Rail Transit Cost Sharing Orange County/Durham County
    • Bus Services/Routes
      • Day and Hours
    • Small Capital Projects
      • Park and Ride Lots
      • Bus and Rail Transfer Stations
    • Martin Luther King (MLK) Bus Lanes
  • Timeline of plan development including future decisions regarding a voter referendum decision.

During the public hearing members of the public can speak to this transportation plan and offer suggestions or pose questions.

If you have interim questions, please call the Orange County Planning Department at 919-245-2575 or 919-245-2585.

Light Rail Works? Show me… where?

Posted in Transit, Uncategorized on April 2, 2012 by seaweavermarine

I ask anyone to show me where Light rail pays for itself.  I ask anyone to show me how it the drain on the taxpayer is worth it. Disney World does not count.

Looking forward to learning something. I would love to see the merit in the idea.  I like to ride trains when I pay at the gate, not when I pay in my sleep. I would love for someone to show me when the Orange County taxpayer will stop paying  on an OC Rail. Orange County is currently 5th in the state in terms of  high taxes, that was before the 1/4 cent tax…and now we have a 1/2 cent being floated…Where will Orange County rank next year? How will this new ranking enhance Economic Development?

The BoCC has planned 2 “public hearings” on placing a 1/2 cent sales tax on the Ballot for November. This for fills the requirement by State law…but in local terms…it means allowing the public to vent. There will be no minds changed.

In terms of an election year…where all running are dependent on District One…the wheels are in motion to put this on the ballot. It would matter not if the public could show how expensive, inefficient,  light rail is..the majority of District One thinks light rail is some magical cure to all of societal ills and thus those dependent on D1’s vote will cater to it…including the Commissioner from D2.

It tragic that District Two cannot have representation that truly represents D2.

Here is some reading on the next closest Light Rail in Charlotte. Look who pays.

http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/2010/agency_profiles/4008.pdf

 

On the goal and sub plots, Light rail is the backbone of the great percentage of ICLEI,  a Non Governmental Organization subsidiary of the United Nations of which Orange, and Chapel Hill are Dues paying members via our Tax Dollars.

ICLEI is an offshoot of the UN Agenda 21 (Twenty first Century)program to save the planet by constricting an limiting Human activity in industrialized nations. Yes, it read like a horror story and there are many who write it off as a conspiracy theory. Well it is a conspiracy to subvert US sovereignty, and we are mired in it if anyone wishes to look, but it is no theory…it is an actual plan, it is in place and it is everywhere from the school systems to your garbage can.

If you are familiar w/ the movie the Matrix in which the hero is lead to an awakening of the “real” circumstances around him by eating the “red pill”…this is that same. Once you are aware of this plan, you will see it everywhere.

Here is the use of ICLEI in the Orange County Commission of the Environment’s plea to the BOCC and Planning Board in demanding light rail.

  • These results are consistent with Orange County’s stated goals: In 2003,OrangeCounty joined ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability – and committed to take part in the organization’s Cities for Climate Protection program.  Implementing policies that reduce local air pollutants and carbon emissions are key goals of this program.  Providing the voters an opportunity to support increased investments in public transportation is a straightforward way to make progress towards these goals.

Look for yourself if you are not familiar with ICLEI. There are many Youtube videos and tons of actual UN data pages on the matter. There are ICLEI generated (paid for) planning guides for Orange County. There are reams of Agenda 21 data. This also includes the UN “death Map”  or Corridor map showing the vast sections of the United States off limits to Human activity for planetary “sustainability”. Where are the Humans? Clustered…along the light rail lines. I’ll allow the reader to determine the primary ideology behind the plans.

cw