Wednesday, May 17, 2006

In the news

Items of interest from today's Chapel Hill News:

Town council to hold forum on wireless networking tomorrow night. (Companion piece: a factual correction on Orange Politics.) I'm looking forward to listening and learning. See you there?

Jeffrey Beam writes in the aftermath of the West House decision. He points out, importantly, that it is not true that West House is ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places. A correct but misleading statement by university officials got way too much mileage in the press. To say the house is "not eligible" for listing, as the university has, is true only in that a nomination for listing has never been filed. A nomination is a narrative document, an argument for why the building deserves to be listed. It takes work to create. The university has never made the effort. As Jeffrey writes, preservations familiar with West House have no doubt that the effort of writing a nomination would have gotten the building placed on the National Register.

Roses to four Chapel Hill Odyssey of the Mind teams, including Tucker's, for advancing to the world competition. Woo woo! This time next week we'll be headed for Ames, Iowa.

Hillsborough friend Julia Workman is Orange County Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Julia.

Today's best shot is from Michael Czeiszperger.

Farther afield: decision on disposition of proceeds from North Carolina red light cameras upheld by the Court of Appeals. High Point plans to appeal. It's a unanimous decision, though, and well reasoned. The law says 90 percent of "all penalties and forfeitures and of all fines collected in the several counties for any breach of the penal laws of the state, shall belong to and remain in the several counties, and shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for maintaining free public schools.” The city argued that the revenues collected were for breach of civil law, not penal. Pointing out that municipalities do not have the power to create criminal offenses through town ordinances, the court looked past this technical difference. When you're fined locally for running a red light it's as if you're fined for violating the corresponding state law that is a criminal offense. Interestingly, one of the cases cited as precedent is the one that UNC-Chapel Hill recently lost in the Supreme Court regarding the application of the same law to the fines collected for violations of campus traffic ordinances. Even though the Board of Trustees called these "civil penalties," the court found them "mostly penal in nature."

Many of you know that this decision is not a great disappointment to me.

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