Thursday, October 19, 2017

You can and should vote "NO" on Davidson GO Bonds...here's why

While the all important municipal elections this cycle are sucking up all the oxygen, let's not forget that Davidson voters will also be deciding on the town's first ever General Obligation (GO) Bonds when they go to the polls.

These bonds total $15 million in new spending divided into three separate ballot questions.  Important to note, these Davidson Bonds are separate from the CMS Bonds that are also on the ballot.


The Davidson bonds are divided into the below categories.


These bonds, if passed, would likely be issued on the proposed schedule below.


So, should you the voter vote yes or no on this spending?

Here at aShortChronicle the answer to that question is a resounding "NO"!!!

The reason for that answer is simple, take a look at the dates in the second picture.  The first of these bonds aren't planned to be issued until 2019.  A big part of the reason for that is answered by how Davidson is planning to pay for these bonds as well as the new Town Hall.  Davidson is planning to use the money from the 2019 property revaluation to raise everyone's tax bill by 25% to pay for all of these projects.

There is no reason to approve these bonds in 2017 if they aren't even scheduled to be spent until 2019 and beyond.

All of these decisions are linked together and voters need to treat them as such.  This election is primarily about restoring trust in Davidson Town Hall.  Under this Board and Town Administration trust has been falling fast due to this group's flawed decision making. However, until the election day results are known, one has to assume some or maybe all incumbents will be re-elected.  People can and should work hard to ensure at least a new majority is put on the Board.  If that doesn't happen though, do you want to give this current group $15 million of your money to play with?

Why on earth would anyone vote to give this Davidson Town Hall more money to spend when they have proven they can not be trusted with the responsibility they already have?

The good news is this.  Voting "no" in 2017 does not mean any worthy projects on this list won't get built and in most cases they might not even be delayed. If a new Board is elected on November 7th that you trust, the new Board can put Bonds back on the Ballot in 2018.  At worst, some of the 2019 projects might be delayed a bit.  That would also provide the opportunity for the citizens to have some real input into what projects are funded.

So, to be very, very clear, this recommendation is not about opposing spending on parks or greenways or other things voters may want.  This is about first ensuring Davidson elects people who can be trusted to spend the money wisely on those things based on the people decide.

So, get ready to head to the polls and vote for a new set of elected officials but vote against the Davidson Bonds.

TOD PRESS RELEASE - Bridge Demolition at Exit 30  10/19-11/3  Expect Overnight Detours 

I-77 Mobility Partners and Sugar Creek Construction have issued a traffic advisory and detour maps to educate motorists about upcoming traffic shifts and overnight detours on I-77 at Exit 30. Work will occur overnight from Thursday, October 19 from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. through Friday, October 20 from 10:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m., weather permitting.

For more details, please view their traffic advisory here: http://www.townofdavidson.org/DocumentCenter/View/8290 

For a map of the northbound detour, please click here: http://www.townofdavidson.org/DocumentCenter/View/7868 

For a map of the southbound detour, please click here:
http://www.townofdavidson.org/DocumentCenter/View/7869 

We encourage people to sign up for I-77 Mobility Partners’ lane closure and traffic advisory information at http://www.i77express.com/newsroom/newsletter-e-alerts/ 

Work will continue for the next two weeks (through November 3) at night from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Please proceed with caution during this construction process.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Tuesday saw some big Davidson election news

With early voting set to begin at Cornelius Town Hall on Saturday October 28th, it is now officially crunch time in election season and Davidson saw some serious action on Tuesday.

Save Davidson made two major announcements.

The first announcement brieflt floated on the group's Facebook page was its formation as a 501c(4) non-profit.  This designation with the IRS alows the group to operate as a tax exempt organization.  However, donations are not tax deductable.

501(c)4 groups are called "social wellfare" organizations intended to promote certain social causes.  Unlike 501(c)3 groups however, this designation allows political activity in support of promoting the group's social wellfare goals.

Hours after the 501(c)4 announcement, Save Davidson used that designation to do just that - publishing a slate of candidates most attuned to its goals.  Those goals include:

  • Control high-density development
  • Solve traffic problems
  • Ensure government transparency
  • Restore fiscal accountability
  • Preserve small-town values


Save Davidson recommends the following candidates.

For Mayor:  Rusty Knox

For Commissioner: David Sitton, Matthew Fort, Shana Erber.

“Considering incumbents often have the advantage of name recognition in elections, we recommend that people who want change in our town cast their votes for these candidates,” said Denise Beall, founder of the group. “With so many candidates in the race, people are concerned about diluting the vote so they have requested we provide a voter guide.”

There are five town board seats. Save Davidson is recommending that citizens vote for Sitton, Fort and Erber and then pick two additional people from the following list: Autumn Michael, Jim Fuller and Ryan Fay.

With the Save Davidson group boasting a large membership this kind of recommendation in a field with a large number of candidates could certainly be a game changer.

In other election news on Tuesday, that large field got a bit smaller.  Commissioner candidate George Berger announced on his campaign Facebook page he was going to "suspend" his campaign and would not be attending any more candidate forums.  Berger cited the time commitment and recent discussion that made him realize he could best serve the town in other ways.  At this late date however, Berger's name will still appear on the ballot as it is too late to have it removed.

Things are really getting interesting now as this election season heads into the final turn towards the finish line.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Is NewsOfDavidson.org an extension of Davidson Town Hall?

The NewsOfDavidson.org website has been up and running for a month now, and readers have gotten a taste for the type of fare it will be serving up.

So far, readers have have been treated to numerous columns covering non-profit activities and various lifestyle pieces on living in Davidson.  Those have been interesting and useful.  That type of content is also to be expected since the organization was originally conceived around being a clearinghouse for non-profits to get their various messages out to the public. As for "news", things have been relatively limited, but then again that's also not surprising.  As what looks like a one-person operation on the "news" side at NewsOfDavidson.org, getting out stories is a challenge - believe me aShortChronicle knows that as well as anyone.

However, what has aShortChronicle concerned going forward is how (or even if) this organization will truly cover Town Hall and the hard issues facing the 
the town and residents in a way that provides transparency into Town operations, and as importantly, provide the context around these things so people know what they really mean.  After reviewing the site's initial content as well as a lengthy public records request with numerous references to how this site came into existence, there are a number of concerns that lead one to believe NewsOfDavidson.org very well may just end up effectively being an extension of the Town Hall Public Information Office rather than an organization willing to actually cover and challenge Town Hall.

First, let's take a look at the obvious.  The Board of NewsofDavidson.org which is a 501c(3) organization includes a Commissioner candidate this election cycle (Jane Campbell), two former Davidson Commissioners (Connie Wessner and Margo Williams) plus a former Davidson Finance Director (Cindy Jones). Jones is now listed as the contact for the 501c(3) after it was originally set up by Campbell.  There are also a number of other Board members who are well tied into the Town over a number of years.

Active citizen participation in these types of organizations is awsome and it is one of the things that makes Davidson, well...Davidson.  News and media on the other hand hold a special place in our society.  One of the primary responsibilities of media is to hold our elected officials accountable.  With a Board makeup like that, does anyone really believe this new "news" organization will include hard hitting pieces, records requests, and deep diving research on controversial topics involving or supported by Town Hall?  Common sense says "no, it will not".

Take for example these two stories from NewsOfDavidson and aShortChronicle on the recent NCDOT meeting around the controversial Potts Street Corridor projects.  See here for the NewsOfDavidson story and here for the one from aShortChronicle.  The first says essentially NCDOT held a meeting.  Town Hall supports these projects.  Some residents don't like it.  The end.  The one from aShortChronicle provides a lot more detail about what questions were asked what was answered and what the specific concerns expressed by citizens actually were.  Interestingly, the story from aShortChronicle was written by another citizen activist.

One example does not make a pattern, but as a 501c(3) non-profit NewsOfDavidson will also have a difficult time covering hard hitting stories related to politics in general.  People need to remember that one of the biggest forms of bias is actually bias by omission.  Meaning, stories that are lightly covered or not covered at all actually are a form of bias in and of itself.  When it come to NewsOfDavidson being a 501c(3) bias by omission is almost built into its operating model due to the constraints of its non-profit status.  Certainly, some people probably think aShortChronicle has shown bias as well over the years and to be honest, with over 800 stories on the blog it probably has happened.  Human beings are human, and here we believe all people are biased - even real journalists.  As a lowly blogger and not a "real journalist" aShortChronicle thinks we're just more honest about admitting it.

However, all of that is just the obvious stuff.

As mentioned at the top of this post, aShortChronicle reviewed dozens of emails from a public records request showing the close ties between Davidson Town Hall and NewsOfDavidson.org going back to it's very beginnings.

Public records show, NewsOfDavidson.org, or NOD, got its start immediately after DavidsonNews.net shut down operations in May 2015.  In fact, in less than a weekend after DNN announced it was ceasing publication, major movers and shakers in town were working to revitalize it.  Campbell put together the notice pictured in this piece that was placed on the DNN site.  Based on the public record, from the outset it is safe to say Campbell and Mayor Woods together were the driving force behind trying to revive DNN or find a replacement.

Much of this information is only available now due to Mayor Woods using his official Town of Davidson email in the initial coordination effort.  However, one of the earliest emails for coordinating a response after DNN announced it was ceasing operations also included Town Public Information Officer, Christina Shaul, and Economic Development Director, Kim Flemming.

In the initial planning, it was discussed how to possibly raise donations to subsidize existing operations of DavidsonNews.net.  This would have been considerably expensive, and that idea quickly seems to have been cast aside.  However, in an email between Campbell and Woods in late July 2015, Mayor Woods says he is being encouraged by "some" to have the town possibly buy out the DNN url.  To her credit Campbell responds to Woods saying "I don't think the town should do anything.  It would be a conflict of interest - for the same reason you are stepping back from our proposed organizational structure."

There are numerous other examples throughout the public records showing NOD regularly using Town facilities as its meeting space including the Board room.  The Town apparently allows this for non-profits. That is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the Town is equally as accommodating to all non-profits.  These meetings were largely coordinated by Campbell including at least one example after filing for office this summer, again according to the public record.

As the NewsOfDavidson was getting its 501c(3) designation, it asked if the Town was willing to provide a letter in support of its application for non-profit status.  Mayor Woods replied enthusiastically that the Town would be glad to do that.  A letter was put together by attorney's helping the group and provided to Mayor Woods to sign on behalf of the Town in late January of 2016.  The letter specifically says NewsOfDavidson will "lessen the Town of Davidson’s governing burden related to community building and engagement of and civic education for our Town’s citizens."  Again, not a bad thing when promoting Concerts on the Green or Christmas in Davidson, but not necessarily a good thing when covering Board meetings where politically contentious issues are discussed.  Covering all of these things are mentioned in the letter as well.

Finally, throughout the public records information there are numerous requests for updates on the status of the NOD roll out.  Those requests come from both the Public Information Officer to pass along to elected officials and from Mayor Woods himself.  The Town was kept apprised of the roll out every step along the way.  That is a lot of interest by the Town in a website.

So, what does all this mean?

It would seem obvious that if Campbell is successful in her bid for Town Commissioner she would have to completely step away from NOD as a director.  Her own comment to Woods about a conflict of interest would certainly apply.  However, the real question is this.

"When it comes to the likelihood of NewsOfDavidson really covering Town Hall, with so many other entanglements would removing just this one really even matter?"


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cord Cutting looming challenge for Mi-Connection (aka Continuum)

The newly renamed municipally owned cable operation formerly known as Mi-Connection now doing business as Continuum faces a number of challenges.

The recently announced re-branding of the operation to the Continuum name and the new marketing campaign that doubles down on the hyper-local nature of the company won't immediately solve the revenue problems, and subsidies will continue to be needed for years to come.  Competition will continue to grow as new players enter the market - including wireless providers who may eventually leapfrog the idea of even needing a wired connection to the home.  The emerging idea of "cord cutting" will also become more and more of an issue as well.

This last one - "cord cutting" - made industry-wide news this week as powerhouse AT&T posted numbers saying it had lost 390,000 net subscribers in just the 3rd quarter with the losses ascribed to cord cutting, or the decision to forgo the traditional cable subscription in favor of so called Over the Top (OTT) services such as Netflix, Playstation Vue, or SlingTV.  See this article from Hollywood Reporter for more on that announcement and how it affected stocks of the large competitors.

What started a few years ago as a bit of a novelty has now gone mainstream.  This new article from CordCuttersNews.com shows that those ditching traditional cable may have reached 1 million in a single quarter in the 3rd quarter of 2017. aShortChronicle HQ ditched cable and phone a couple years ago and can confirm for you it is doable and certainly can be less expensive depending on your TV habits.

So, what does all this mean for a company like Mi-Connection/Continuum?  Not much if you listen to the comments that have come from Town Hall in recent years.  You'll likely hear something like "the company doesn't make much money on TV anyway.  Data is where it's at in the future." While that may be true, it ignores the fact that pure data access is quickly becoming a commodity.

As data becomes a commodity with more providers able to provide a comparable service, subscribers will be able to switch from provider to provider based on who has the lowest price.  If they get their content via OTT services they won't have to deal with new set-top boxes and user interfaces.  This will increase what's called "churn" between providers.  Churn is a costly thing for providers to deal with just to maintain revenue as is, much less grow it.

Mi-Connection's FY2017 numbers were flat compared to FY2016.  If cord cutting and churn were factors in that, the company isn't saying in its press releases like AT&T.  However, if this industry trend is impacting the biggest of players, it will very likely make its way into the equation in the long march towards profitability for Mi-Connection/Continuum.

Something to keep your eyes on in future information from Town Hall.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Voting strategy this election season Part 2: Davidson Commissioner

As mentioned in Part 1 of this topic, Davidson's elections are setting up to be the most interesting in North Mecklenburg.  On the Commissioners race that is definitely a true statement.  Like the mayoral contests, historically, these haven't been very raucous affairs.  However, the large number of candidates is not unprecedented.

Going all the way back to 1995, Davidson had an election with 13 Commissioner candidates, just like this year.  Below are the results from the Board of Elections for that race.


While all 5 of Davidson's Commissioners are up for election at the same time, "open seats" created when incumbents decide not to run again tend to drive large numbers of candidates.  Since incumbents are always hard to beat, open seats ensure at least that many newcomers will get elected.  That has happened this year, and that same dynamic happened in 1995.  In that year two sitting Commissioners on the 1993 Board decided not to run again in 1995, opening up two seats to challengers.  Interestingly, one of those 1995 open seats was created by Commissioner Randall Kincaid deciding to challenge then Mayor Russell Knox, current Mayoral Candidate Rusty Knox's father.  Kincaid lost to the elder Knox that year, but was elected Mayor unopposed the very next cycle in 1997 when Russell Knox retired from office.

The second interesting thing about the 1995 Commissioner results is the small percentage of overall votes cast that it took to get elected, just 11-13%.  How is that possible?  The low percentage of votes required is due to the structure of this type of plurality election.  In a plurality election voters get one voter for each seat up for election, or in Davidson's case - 5 votes.  The top 5 vote getters are elected.  When you have a large number of candidates, those votes get spread across a larger number of people thus causing the winners to receive a lower percentage of overall votes.  Obviously, the town's population has grown since 1995, so the overall number of votes cast this election will be higher.  However, seeing a similar vote share for the winning candidates this year would not be all that surprising.

So what does all that history mean for how voters can strategically cast their ballots this year?

Many readers may remember this 2015 piece about "supercharging" your vote by actually withholding some of your 5 available votes.  Withholding votes in a plurality election mathematically gives more weight to the ones you do cast as a percentage of the overall votes cast in the election by all voters. While that logic and the math behind it still holds true this cycle, the large number of candidates this time does not necessarily require it to achieve one's electoral goals - depending on what those goals are.

Here are a two scenarios at opposite ends of the spectrum this election cycle.

  • If you truly only have one candidate you really, really want to see get elected, then bullet voting would still apply.  That is where you vote for a single candidate and leave the other 4 votes uncast.  This strategy is often used to support minority candidates to get enough votes in a voting block to bring that candidate into the top tier.  In a plurality election with a large number of candidates where the winners will receive a small overall vote share, this could be particularly effective.
  • If you want a true change in direction at Town Hall for more transparency and accountability to the public, the number of challengers this cycle allows you to pick a full slate of new elected officials for the Board, so withholding votes to achieve this goal is not necessary.  The purpose of withholding votes (or voting for less than five) is to ensure you don't just give a vote to someone you really don't want on the Board which could put them ahead of someone you do want.  Due to the number of candidates this time, you can vote a full slate of 5 without having to give any votes to incumbents if that's what you want to do.
The questions voters should ask themselves this cycle are these.

Do I agree with the direction the status quo is taking the town and is a given candidate a part of the status quo?

To determine the answers look at issues such as The Catalyst Project, Beaty Street RFP, allowing voters to decide on spending on new Town Hall, support for the Rural Area Plan mass rezoning, and support for controversial projects such as the Griffith Street hotel or the Potts Street development.  You should also look at how they've handled the I77 HOT lanes project.

Incumbents running this time have some role in all of the above list of issues.  Of the incumbents, Jim Fuller has the most voter friendly record on these issues.  He voted against new Town Hall spending without voter approval.  He voted against sending the Beaty Street RFP to the contract phase before it failed.  He is asking the hardest questions on the Griffith Street Hotel.  However, on an issue like the I77 HOT lanes, none of the sitting Davidson Commissioners would be described as strong anti-toll leaders.  Davidson has passed by far the weakest anti-toll resolutions over the years, and none of the sitting Commissioners sought to censure Mayor Woods when he went to Raleigh and advocated for the tolls against the Town's stated position.

When looking at the challengers, they tend to fall into two groups.  Candidates who have been in the orbit of Town Hall for years and true newcomers.  Your choices here would seem to be options of filling the void with people who have long been "in the know"  with Town Hall but less than willing to aggressively fight its bad ideas or selecting newcomers to the political arena who will approach challenges with a fresh perspective.

Regardless, this election with its large number of candidates provides Davidson voters with the rare opportunity of having real choices, and how voters choose to strategically cast their ballots will determine the outcome.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Voting strategy this election season Part 1: Davidson Mayor

During the 2015 election cycle, aShortChronicle published a piece about "supercharging" your vote in municipal elections.  With early voting starting at Cornelius Town Hall and other regional sites on October 28th now is the the time to start narrowing down your choices. (FYI...you can start early voting as early as Oct 19 if you are downtown near the Hal Marshall Annex.  It is the only early voting site open from 10/19 until the others open on 10/28.)

In Davidson, the dynamics this election season are quite different this time around, so here's some updated thinking on this topic.  It will be in two parts.

Part 1 covers Davidson's mayoral contest.

Davidson's mayoral race is setting up to be the most interesting contest North Mecklenburg has seen in over two decades.  Mayoral contests are often not even contests.  Instead, Mayoral candidates often run unopposed as is the case in Cornelius and Huntersville this year.  Races with three or more candidates are rare and competitive races with more than two candidates are rarer still.  According to data available from the Mecklenburg Board of Elections, since 1995 there have only been a few races in North Mecklenburg towns with three or more mayoral candidates.  Only one of those would be deemed truly competitive.   That would be the 2007 race for Huntersville Mayor.  See results below.


Jill Swain won this race with less than 50% of the vote.  That's the only time that has happened locally in any of the towns in at least two decades.  In all of the other races with three or more candidates, the winner got at least 50%.

In Davidson this year, the likelihood of a similar scenario to that 2007 Huntersville race is high with three candidates having bases of support and good name recognition.  John Woods, Rusty Knox, and Laurie Venzon will very likely all get a substantial percentage of votes.

If Woods was to win re-election it almost certainly would be with less than 50% of the vote with the "Not Woods" vote being a majority but split between Knox and Venzon.  As was pointed out in this piece, in the 2015 vote where Woods was unopposed, a substantial percentage of voters did not pull the lever for him even when he was the only name on the ballot.  More than 27% of voters that cycle left the Mayor's race blank or wrote in other names.  That does not bode well for him getting a majority of votes while facing serious opposition.  However, in a three way contest it also doesn't mean he will lose as was shown by the 2007 example in Huntersville.

So, how does Woods lose re-election?  He loses if the "Not Woods" vote coalesces around one of the two challengers.  This certainly can happen, but if it doesn't, Woods very well may win.

What can cause this coalescing to happen?  In the opinion of aShortChronicle this can only happen around the candidate most prepared to address the town's top problem when it comes to Town Hall, and that problem is "trust".  A lack of trust permeates nearly every issue originating from Town Hall whether those be legacy Mi-Connection problems or the myriad planning issues roiling the public in more recent years.  If people do not implicitly trust the Town's top elected official, getting them to trust ideas out of Town Hall will be nearly impossible.

So when looking for a choice for Mayor, look for the candidate who can best resolve the issue of trust.  Who is the candidate who has visible and obvious support from one end of town to the other?  That candidate will have the best shot at unifying the town.  Who is the candidate who has visibly fought the bad ideas out of Town Hall in recent years such as The Catalyst Project, Rural Area Plan mass rezoning, Beaty Street RFP, not letting voters have a say on major spending for a new Town Hall building, and the ill conceived Town Hall supported Griffith Street Hotel and Potts Street projects?  That candidate will have proven they are willing to fight against bad ideas and for what the people of this town want.

Answer those questions honestly, and you will know who to vote for this election.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Robert Walker/West Branch detour open....

After multiple delays, the previously announced detour through the new West Branch neighborhood off off Davidson-Concord Road is now open.


View from River Run entrance
Robert Wakker westbound

View from Bailey Springs

Detour begins coming from
Bailey Springs

View from West Branch Parkway

View from West Branch Parkway
towards Davidson-Concord Rd

PRESS RELEASE - Davidson Village Network to launch services to support aging in place

Davidson, NC – Davidson Village Network is proud to announce it is launching services and joining the burgeoning, worldwide Village Movement that champions an alternative approach for adults, as they grow older. Services for members begin in mid October 2017. Social and educational activities have begun. The launch celebration is on October 27th from 7 – 9 pm at the Congregation House on Davidson Concord Rd.

Davidson Village Network is the outgrowth of seeds planted in 2006 when the Town of Davidson formed the Aging in Place Task Force to address societal needs with the coming of age of the baby boomer population. The task force evolved into the Davidson Committee on Aging (DCOA) that has since become the Davidson Village Network.

The Village Movement started with Beacon Hill Village in Boston over 15 years ago and today there are over 200 open Villages and more than 150 in development in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Each Village is unique in that they are created by and for older adults, empowering their members to make wise, safe, and vibrant choices about how they wish to live.

Community is a long honored in Davidson. Davidson Village Network’s concept of Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a long held tradition. The volunteers of Davidson Village Network will enable older adults to have the option of choosing how they live as they grow older. Davidson’s network will impact the lives of its members, as well the lives of families, caregivers and members of the community making it stronger and a welcoming place to age in place.

One of the great issues world wide today is how to support and care for aging populations.   By 2030, twenty percent (20%) of our nation’s population will be over 65, an estimated 83 million people.  The numbers are even larger in many countries around the world.  The Village concept, which embraces a profound understanding of the importance of community, offers a valuable solution for this challenging phenomenon.

For more information about the Davidson Village Network and the launch event please call: Davidson Village Network at 980-689-1843 or visit our website www.davidsonvillagenetwork.org.  Davidson Village Network is now accepting applications and will launch its services on October 16, 2017.

Davidson Village Network is a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to improving the experience of aging in Davidson, NC.  Its mission is to enrich lives of older adults, empowering them to thrive in home and community.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

TODAY: Save Davidson "Magnet Mobile" rides again

Like Silver, the Lone Ranger's trusty steed, the Save Davidson "Magnet Mobile" has become a very visible symbol of the activist group's efforts.  However, it appears the Town of Davidson doesn't seem to like it very much.

After the last Magnet Mobile event from August 17-20, Police Chief Dunn went out of her way to ask NCDOT on August 22nd if this type of thing was allowed on NCDOT  maintained roads - meaning selling out of a vehicle parked like the Magnet Mobile had been.  This is after the Town had allowed the mobile on two separate occasions.  Further, this week the Town Attorney, Cindy Reid, suddenly provides an interpretation of Town ordinance that effectively says the Magnet Mobile activities aren't allowed.  Again, this is after permits had previously been granted on two separate occasions.

This week when the group went back to get a permit they received what can best be described as "the runaround" from Town Hall.

Fortunately, the people at Save Davidson are nothing if not persistent.  A Main Street private property owner has allowed Save Davidson merchandise to be sold on their property on Saturday.

Head out to Main Street.  Look for the Magnet Mobile.   Then, look nearby for where you can get your latest supply of Save Davidson gear and most importantly...information. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Griffith Hotel vote NOT on Tuesday agenda...the people are watching...

On Friday afternoon, the Town of Davidson published its agenda for next Tuesday's Board meeting, and it does NOT include an agenda item to vote on the  Griffith Street hotel.

Per the last story on this project here at aShortChronicle, the Town Planning Board unanimously voted the project to be "inconsistent" with the town's planning plans and principles.  However, Town staff still support it and the Board of Commissioners have yet to take numerous concerns with the seriousness they deserve.

That story, "Planning Board staunchly opposes Grffith Hotel, Town Board still minimizing concerns", is now #3 out of more than 800 stories in the history of this blog.  It is the all time leader for purely Davidson centered stories.  It has more page views than any story on the failed Catalyst Project; more than any on the recently failed Beaty Street RFP

The people are watching this story very closely.

The official reason for the delay in the town email was that the developer requested it.

"Please notethat the consideration of a vote on the Davidson Commons East conditional master plan amendment (proposed Hyatt Place) is not on the agenda. The applicant requested a 30-day deferral to the November 14 meeting in order to provide the additional information requested by the Davidson Board of Commissioners, including a detailed landscape plan for the buffer area."

Regardless of the reason, this vote will now occur after the November 7th election.  If you needed any more motivation to get to the polls and elect some new blood at Town Hall, now you have it.  Yes, the current Board will still be in office on November 14th, but voting for this as a lame duck would be an exceedingly hard thing to live with in a small town.

NCDOT Potts Corridor Project meeting synopsis

On 9/27, aShortChronicle told readers about the planned NCDOT presentation regarding the Potts/115 and Potts-Sloan-Beaty Connector projects.  Well, that meeting happened Thursday evening at Cornelius Town Hall.

Below is a synopsis from Melissa Atherton of Davidson who attended the meeting.  Atherton also put some Facebook Live video on the Save Davidson Facebook page.  See here.


Potts/Sloan/Beaty Corridor
Open-House Public Meeting 
October 5, 2017 
5-7 pm
Cornelius Town Hall 

Present:
Citizens of Davidson and Cornelius
NCDOT-Sean Epperson, NCDOT Division 10 Project Lead and Scott Cole, Division 10 Engineer
Kimley Horn-Ben Taylor
Town of Davidson-Mayor John Woods, Commissioner Beth Cashion, Town Manager Jamie Justice, Public Works Director Doug Wright
Town of Cornelius-Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant, Commissioner Dr. Mike Miltich

Who is paying for this?

The 115/Davidson Street/Potts Intersection, Potts Street Extension to Sloan Street, and the Roundabout at Sloan Street/Griffith Street are part of an approved project funded through I-77 Toll Road Bonus Allocation funds. The funds have a time limit. All funding has to be allocated within a certain time period (needs to be confirmed) of the start of the Toll Project. NCDOT gets money and then the Town of Davidson and the Town of Cornelius put their priority projects forward. If their projects go over budget, then the towns have to pay the rest. An example is the ten-foot “Multi-Use Path” in Davidson. Clarification is needed from TOD regarding the citizen question, “Does Davidson have the funding for the path?” Jamie Justice will be consulted. Another citizen question was, “Are any federal funds involved?” This is another question for Jamie Justice.

Whose plan is this?

The “improvement” to the intersection at 115/Davidson Street/Potts Street is a Town of Cornelius project. The Potts Street Extension to Sloan Street, Multi-Use Path on Potts Street, and the Roundabout at Sloan Street/Griffith Street is a Town of Davidson Plan.

Do the plans require federal or state approval?

The plans are state-approved and funded. They were committed as part of a five-year plan.

Who is paying for the Multi-Use Path?

The Town of Davidson is paying. NCDOT does not do sidewalks. 

How much will this cost?

The roundabout at 115 in Cornelius is approximately $6 million dollars and the Potts/Sloan/Beaty corridor is approximately $2.2 million dollars.

Who is designing the Multi-Use Path? 

Kimley Horn

Why does the path start in front of the Potts House, Circa 1880, a private and historic home?

According to NCDOT, there has been or will be an “Environmental Phase” that will take into consideration the plethora of historic homes and potential graveyards affected by the project. No one from NCDOT interviewed could tell citizens when or if the “Environmental Phase” occurred. The State Historical Preservation Society needs to be contacted regarding their involvement or lack of involvement.

Will houses and businesses be demolished? Who will pay for them? Will “Eminent Domain” be utilized?

Depending on the alternative plan used, both projects will demolish or impact differing numbers of homes and businesses. NCDOT will be making visits to affected homeowners and businesses (and The Green School). They will make an offer for the home or for the land they need. If the homeowner/business/school does not accept the NCDOT offer, they will use Eminent Domain. 

Will the mature oak trees and crepe myrtles on Potts Street be cut down?

Yes.

What happens to the funding if I-77 Toll Lanes get cancelled?

No one could answer this question.

Was opening Church Street at the YMCA included in the Transportation Impact Analysis?

No. Assistant Town Manager Anthony Grant said this was “not on the table.” A citizen from Cornelius stated that including a connection at Church Street and the YMCA was “political suicide.”

Quotes recorded from citizens in attendance:

“The Town of Davidson has handed the Potts/Sloan/Beaty project to NCDOT.”

“The Town of Davidson has a plan in place, adopted by the board, but key tenets are being ignored by this design.”

“The only input from the Town of Davidson has been from Jamie Justice and Doug Wright, neither of whom had anything to do with the Town’s adopted plan.”

“This is the entrance to our Town. They are blowing up the idyllic, rural vernacular and landscape while replacing it with an oversized, ugly, NCDOT-Kimley Horn-urban sprawl intersection, sized for twenty years in the future. No one in Town Hall cares.”

“The reaction from the public and the apparent lack of concern from Town of Davidson staff and elected officials who attended last night was astounding.”

“This reeks of gentrification.”

“They said all plans were considered equal, but then said one is better than the other.”

“They said my home value would not be affected. Then they said my home and land value would be cut by 40%.  Which is it?”

“How are you going to keep the children safe with these roundabouts?”

“How will people get home to Davidson from the YMCA? There are no left turns allowed by the second alternative. People will have to go in a big circle from the Y to Cornelius and through downtown Davidson. Traffic will be terrible!”

“How will people from the West Side safely cross Potts Street to get to Town? There is no crosswalk or light shown.”

“I don’t want any of these plans.”

Please provide your comments by October 19, 2017. Final designs will begin following the public meeting. The Environmental document will be completed in Spring 2018. “Land acquisition” begins Winter 2018.

Contacts
Sean Epperson, NCDOT Division 10 Project Team Lead
704-983-4400

Teresa Gresham, Kimley-Horn Project Manager





Signs, signs, everywhere signs....in Davidson?!?!

The political junkie in me has always had a thing for campaign signs during election season.  There is a collection of them in the garage at aShortChronicle HQ for every campaign I've ever supported or volunteered with, whether it be a ballot issue or a candidate for office.

However, in Davidson there has been a long running taboo against them.  Oh, officially they've always been allowed, but they were aggressively frowned upon.  That was definitely the case up until 2013.  Yours truly ran that year for the Town Board and had just a handful of signs along with a couple of other candidates.  Even that handful of signs garnered negative feedback from the town establishment. Personally, that stance seemed like nothing but an easy way for those holding the reigns at Town Hall to keep on holding them.  In the race for elected office name recognition is important - particularly for challengers.  Suppressing that by keeping names off the street is good for incumbents.

This year that taboo appears to have been completely shattered.  Even Mayor John Woods who at the Save Davidson forum just a couple of weeks ago called campaign signs "pollution" has flip flopped on that stance and gotten into the game.

After taking a drive around town, here are some pics of yard signs showing up this fall.












This last one made me chuckle when I saw it in River Run....the split household.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"You've been upgraded"...Mi-Connection is now Continuum

So, aShortChronicle told you last Friday of a looming announcement from Mi-Connection.  See here for that.

Monday, that announcement came.

Unfortunately, it was not any sort of magic bullet to save local taxpayers from the relentless subsidies needed to support the municipally owned cable company.  It wasn't a partnership with a new party to spread the pain.  It wasnt even a new service offering or price structure.

It was a simple re-branding.  Mi-Connection is now...


Over recent years Mi-Connection management has worked hard to restructure the company's operations to wring out costs.  The debt has been refinanced to bring down that expense as well.  Yet, these improvements still leave the company short by millions per year to cover its expenses leaving it to require subsidy.

While the company's announcement states this re-branding has been in the works for 18 months, the recently released FY2017 numbers showing no real subscriber growth over the previous year prove something had to be done to jump start things going forward.

A recently acquired FAQ document on the re-branding says the "incremental expenses that were beyond the normal cost of normal doing business were approximately $95,000, which is a one-time increase of 15.8% in our "year-to-year" marketing budget."  The company claims it was able to keep the costs of this switch relatively low by saying it was replacing things like truck wraps, uniforms, and its website anyway so the switch does not directly include those costs.

The re-branding seems to be an effort to refocus the public on the local nature of the company, something that has been a hallmark of Mi-Connection promotion since the beginning.  However, the new campaign has an interesting way of going about it.



As local as livermush?!?!  Really?!?!

Not sure how many people will equate the most high-tech service they likely have in their home or business with something as country as livermush.  Most will likely have to look up livermush to even know what it is.  When they do, they will likely go "ewwww"!

Regardless, the Mi-Connection name has become pretty toxic after many years of requiring many millions in subsidy.  A name change may be in order to make an attempt to get things moving again in a better direction.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

“Fisher Farm Family Bike Fest” - Sunday 10/8 9am-1pm

DAVIDSON, NC -- Enjoy a fun-filled, family-friendly day of bike riding on Sunday, October 8. Riders of all skill levels are encouraged to attend. Bring your bike, helmet, family and friends - have a blast! This event is held as part of “Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day” and will be held at Fisher Farm Park, located at 21215 Shearer Road in Davidson.

Local trail rides will be led by Tarheel Trailblazers for all levels of riders, including family- and kid-friendly greenway rides, bicycle rodeo, and skills area. Adult educational clinics and kids’ safety checks will be offered.  Charlotte Youth Cycling League (CYCL) and North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League will be on site to share information about bicycle advocacy, local teams, state programs
 and information about the best places to ride your bike in the Lake Norman/North Mecklenburg region.Davidson Parks & Recreation will have its solar-electric E.L.F. bike on display. Visit with local bicycle shop owners and local heroes, including members of our fire and police department, all while enjoying food, music, and prizes.

This event is organized by the Town of Davidson, Tar Heel Trailblazers and Bikin’ Dad Adventures. The Town of Davidson seeks to offer ongoing cycling programs as a commitment to the town’s emphasis on being a walking and bicycle friendly community.

“The Town of Davidson strives to be bike- and pedestrian-friendly and presents the opportunity to support the physical and social well-being of our citizens and the environment,” said Natural Assets and Sustainability Coordinator Charlene Minor.

This is a free event. On-site registration for the first ride of the morning starts at 9:00 a.m., guided rides and clinics will be offered each half-hour. For event details visit, www.townofdavidson.org/dpr.
For more information on Davidson’s “Fisher Farm Family Bike Fest” please contact Charlene Minor at (704) 892-3349 or cminor@townofdavidson.org.

Other Upcoming Events:
Additional events during the month of October can be found at www.townofdavidson.org/dpr, they include:
·         Afterschool Kids’ Bike Clinic on October 18 (1:00 – 2:30 p.m.) – register at link above
·         Davidson Tour de Trees on October 21 (10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) – register at 

Planning Board staunchly opposes Grffith Hotel, Town Board still minimizing concerns

In a nearly 2 hour meeting last Monday night, the Davidson Planning Board unanimously voted that the proposed Griffith Street Hyatt Place hotel was "inconsistent" with Davidson's planning principals and plans.

That's equivalent to a big thumbs down from the citizen group charged specifically to look at these issues in gory detail.  While the Planning Board recommendation is not binding, it is a very strong signal that there are very real issues with this project.

The discussion touched on many of the issues raise here at aShortChronicle with one of the primary ones being parking.  The latest update for the hotel after the public hearing actually made this aspect of the plan worse.  The plan now has just 101 spaces for a 115 room hotel.  That is a reduction from 113 due to the developer no longer including as much on-street parking.  This would appear to be in response to questions asked primarily by Commissioner Jim Fuller at the last Board meeting prior to the public hearing.  The on-street parking part of the plan now includes only those spaces immediately adjacent to the proposed hotel property.

At just 101 spaces, the plan is now 48 spaces (or 32%) short of the requirements per the Davidson Planning ordinance.

Planning Board members also stated the plan was inconsistent with previously approved Town plans.  It did not provide a good transition to the adjacent residential neighborhoods.  Comments were made about it's impact on storm water as well as its proximity to two schools.

While specific safety issues and the public outcry against the project were acknowledged, they were not part of the "inconsistency statement" unanimously passed by the Planning Board because those items aren't within the Planning Board's purview.  Planning Board Chair, Micky Pettus, did say this regarding the public response and referring to the Board of Commissioners.  "There has been a lot of public outcry. They are deaf if they haven't heard it."

Unfortunately, on Tuesday night, the Board of Commissioners meeting showed Davidson's elected officials just might be that deaf.

In a discussion at the monthly work session that lasted less than an hour  (or less than half of the time the planning board discussed it), Davidson's electeds appeared to be running down a pre-determined checklist to minimize or discredit the very concerns the brought up by the Planning Board as well as safety concerns expressed by citizens.

Parking concerns? No problem.  Minimum parking standards are old news according to the Town's planners.  Plus, the developer says it will be fine.  Screening the development from impacting West Side neighbors?  No problem.  We'll use the left over trees to fill in the space behind Woodies.  However, there is no finalized landscaping plan to ensure this works.  Wondering about the possibility of a hotel on the horizon in the long-planned location next to Davidson Clinic right by I77?  Can't talk about that because an application hasn't been submitted even though we know that is an imminent possibility.

Safety?  Well, safety is something we'll talk about for a little bit.

For the first time during the long discussion surrounding this hotel, Davidson Commissioners did discuss safety concerns for more than a few seconds.  Unfortunately, as much time was spent minimizing the concerns as addressing them.

Police Chief Penny Dunn did refer to an alleged 2016 incident where an anti-trafficking advocacy group claims it ran an intervention operation locally.  However, rather than attempting to verify the allegations the focus seemed to be much more on attempting to discredit the activist group.  This of course completely ignores the implications of what such an event would mean as to the likelihood of real trafficking occurring in the area.

There was also discussion around school security with a clear emphasis on that being the schools' issue to solve.  This of course completely ignores the fact that the design of this hotel (street parking and public plaza) encourages the intermingling of neighboring uses making school security more difficult.

There were a couple of safety related questions that are much harder to ignore however.

Chief Dunn did acknowledge that large hotel chains have invested in training to combat human trafficking related crimes.  That includes Hyatt.  In fact Hyatt has partnered with the Polaris Project to provide this type of training to its managed hotels.  Readers may remember that this type of training and the Polaris Project specifically were mentioned in this post.  The fact that Hyatt would go to the trouble and expense of having this type of program debunks the idea that this type of activity doesn't or can't happen in these types of hotels.

Local consultant Melissa Boyes had this to say about the existence of this training days before the board meeting.  "That this training exists indicates that the industry recognizes the risk. I'm an organizational behavior consultant specializing in global risk management; I can say with certainty that no corporation invests in this kind of training in the absence of a very real risk. It's far too costly to develop, deploy, monitor compliance and maintain. Do I think any given hotel is positively teeming with pedophiles, traffickers, and kidnappers? No. Do I think Town and local business leadership are willfully denying what the industry itself has acknowledged? Yep."

At the Board meeting there was also discussion about how guests might be checked to ensure sex offenders aren't staying at a hotel, particularly a hotel immediately next to an elementary/middle school.  Again, Chief Dunn was not able to provide a reassuring answer.  There is no national database tracking offenders and each state manages its own.  There would be no effective way to track this or enforce that guests are checked.  The best Chief Dunn could do was say businesses would be unlikely to have employees who were sex offenders travel for work because of the liability that would involve.

These last two items of course raise the question...again...

"Why put a use such as a hotel that even has to worry about these things next to two schools?!?!  It is simply asking for trouble."

Unfortunately, Davidson elected officials are still entertaining that question.

Contact the Board at Board@townofdavidson.org this week to let them know what you think.  They could vote on this proposal as early as next Tuesday, October 10th.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Save Davidson "splits the rock"...Beaty Street Luminous Project dies

"You never know which strike will split the rock...but you have to keep striking."

The above quote is a version of the Stonecutters Credo sent to aShortChronicle by Jamie Ramsden, one of the leaders in the Save Davidson movement.  That was back on August 19th.  By that time the activist group had been pounding the rock for months with blow after blow.

Today, the Beaty Street RFP rock split.

Was it the protests, the packed Town Hall meetings, the countless emails, the lemonade stands, the signs, the car magnets, the magnet mobile, the t-shirts, the records requests, the videos, the growing number of Facebook likes, the relentless fact checkers, the SHINE events, the information sessions, the Save Davidson Run for the Green participants, the constant drip of conflicting information, or the Save Davidson funded appraisal?

We may never know why, but today the Town of Davidson posted this...


A great example of citizen activism and perseverance came to fruition today.  An unbelievable amount of dedication and work went into putting a stop to a crazy idea that never should have been allowed to get this far.  Everyone involved needs to take pride in what has been accomplished, take a day or two to breath it all in.  Then, continue to work to make sure it does not happen again.

On November 7th, make sure that happens by getting out to vote.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Air of intrigue builds around pending Mi-Connection announcement

At the September 12th town Board meeting citizens got the first real update in years (maybe ever) on the financial health of Mi-Connection and what citizens should expect in coming years.  FY2017 numbers had just been published prior to that and the results were not good.

As aShortChronicle pointed out in this post, unless something changes future growth for the company appears to now be highly dependent on the growth in rooftops and businesses.  At the same time the company faces a more competitive marketplace with new service providers and more potential for churn between them.

At about the same time some interesting flyers started appearing around town and circulating on social media.  They were for a service called "Continuum" and the flyers also referenced a website called ourcontinuum.com.  The site registered people for a contest to win free service.  Below are a couple of screenshots from the site.



Several commenters on social media pointed out they thought it looked like Mi-Connection might be getting ready to re-brand itself.  Giving some credence to that idea, it was also pointed out that the PO Box on the flyers and website matched that for Mi-Connection.

aShortChronicle asked the Town of Davidson if these flyers were possibly a scam of some sort, not by the Town of course, but possibly as a way for a scammer to collect personal information.  The answer was that the flyers were "not a scam" indicating the Town did know about them.  The answer also said there would be an announcement of some sort coming from Mi-Connection in a couple of weeks.

That was on the 19th.   Now, this week, the ourcontinuum.com website is no longer active.


As September comes to a close, depending on what this pending (and intriguing) announcement turns out to be, this could make for an interesting "October Surprise" during the final weeks of an election season.