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There is still work to do in Raleigh

03 deviere articleEditors note: Margaret Dickson is taking the week off. We are yielding her space to fellow Democrat Sen. Kirk deViere, who represents District 19.

One year ago the people in Cumberland County voted to have a new voice represent them in Raleigh. A voice that would stand up for public education, access to affordable health care and clean air and water, and to ensure that everyone, no matter your zip code, has the opportunity to succeed. I am honored to serve our community in this role, and I thank each of you for the opportunity and for your trust to represent you in Raleigh. 

I was hopeful when the session first started back in January that Republicans and Democrats would come together, find middle ground and policy areas that we agree on, and ensure government works for everyone, not just some. Senator Phil Berger, president pro tem, talked about this in his comments during the Senate’s opening session. “But this session, hopefully, will be different,” Berger said. “Republicans will have to work across the aisle, but so will Democrats. If we are to have a successful session, we all will have to accept outcomes that don’t cater to the extremes. I know we’re capable of this, and so do you.”

While we did see some bipartisan work in the areas of criminal justice, we stalled on many issues that affect our working families and how we invest in our children’s future. Discussion and dialogue really broke down around healthcare, public education, and corporate taxes.  I truly believe that the people that elected all of us want to see us work together to make things better for all North Carolinians.

This year’s session has been longer than normal because, for the first time in almost 10 years, the House and Senate leadership have not had a supermajority, and we have a governor that now has the ability to use a veto. This forces the leadership to have conversation and negotiate.  This community’s vote for me in the Senate seat allowed these conversations to happen because we were one of six seats across the state that helped break the supermajority in the Senate. 
We still have work to do. We must have a real conversation around how our state will transform our health care, invest in public education, grow our workforce, protect our environment, and ensure our economic opportunities are equitable. Good government will happen when we can have real dialogue and talk about these issues and allow everyone’s opinion to be part of the process. This is how democracy should work. I remain optimistic that we can get there but not under the current leadership in the senate or with “recycled” politicians who will be “yes” men.  If we want to change the conversation and change the policies that affect our families then we have to change the leadership in the Senate.

We saw this week in Virginia where the state House and Senate changed from Republican majority to Democratic majority. We saw in Kentucky where voters chose a new direction for their state. We saw it locally with races in Fayetteville, Spring Lake and Hope Mills that people want representatives that will put the people first. Last year, in District 19, voters made the same decision and rejected corruptions and the bad policies that hurt working families. I have worked hard this year to ensure I stood up for people and against policies that don’t put people first. My voting record shows that commitment. As the 2020 election cycle officially kicks off, locally, we have the opportunity to truly debate our ideas about creating access to affordable healthcare, investing in public education, protecting our environment, and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to succeed and access to opportunities.

Senator Dan Blue, Senate Minority Leader, joined me here in Cumberland County in May of this year to support me as I announced my plans to run again for Senate District 19.  I am committed to changing the conversation in our state Senate and committed to representing the people of our community. I will continue to fight for the things that are important to the people of Cumberland County.

Thank you again for the honor of serving our community — and you — in Raleigh. I do not take this lightly and will continue to work to represent you and put people over politics.

We still have work to do. We must have a real conversation around how our state will transform our healthcare, invest in public education, grow our workforce, protect our environment, and ensure our economy opportunities are equitable. Good government will happen when we can have real dialogue and talk about this issues and allow everyone’s opinion to be part of the process.

 
 

N.C. Civil War History Center: The “Citizens have Spoken!!” No, not really!

02 pub penThe “Citizens have Spoken!!  No Civil War museum!” That was the subject of an email sent to Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin and state Rep. Elmer Floyd this past Saturday. Penned, of course,  by an anonymous source who didn’t want to man (or woman) up to the subject matter.

The message was anti-North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center and stated that the results of the Fayetteville elections Nov. 5 was a mandate against the project because most of the pro-Civil War History Center council members lost their seats, proving that the majority of Fayetteville citizens oppose and reject the project and want nothing to do with having this “toxic and controversial” project in our community. Mr. or Ms. Anonymous declared that “A clear statement has been made by the voters.”

I wish we knew the name of Anonymous so I could address the topic directly. Calling this statewide Civil War History Center an “expensive ridiculous Civil War project” only confirms the lack of knowledge and understanding this person has of its benefits and remarkable opportunities our community will have to improve the quality of life of all our citizens, increasing our prestige and notoriety throughout the state while increasing pride, education and understanding of generations of our North Carolina heritage. Not taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by moving forward with the project will leave an indelible mark of ignorance and naivety on future generations residing in the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community.

There is no doubt in my mind that Anonymous, when asked, could not articulate how our community would benefit from this state-operated $60 million facility as it will create nearly 200 jobs and attract 160,000 visitors while generating $20 million a year in revenues for our community.  Would this not be a great asset to Fayetteville and Cumberland County? Not embracing this project is the kind of toxic thinking and leadership that stifles a progressive and growing community like ours. It demonstrates no wisdom, logic or vision — three things that will be missed when Ted Mohn exits his role as city councilman of District 8.

 02 02 Tisha WaddellAll the newly elected council members must waste no time getting orientated and up to date on current city business and basic issues or run the risk of being collectively blamed for every failure and misstep that takes place in the city during the next two years. From where I sit, only Chris Davis has dedicated the time and effort to prepare himself for the task at hand. With tens of millions of dollars at stake and several major issues currently confronting the Fayetteville community, there will be no do-overs.

This is why losing conscientious city representatives like Mohn will make moving the community forward even more difficult. Mohn’s honesty, his calm, consistent demeanor, common sense, logic, insights and remarkable vision have served as the stalwart of most important city decisions and actions. His response to this situation and the mayor’s upcoming Nov. 14 public hearing on the History Center is the near-perfect example of Mohn’s logic and vision. Within hours of receiving a copy of Anonymous’s email to Colvin and Floyd, Mohn sent a heartfelt recommendation to Colvin strongly suggesting that he cancel the Nov. 14 public hearing. Mohn felt the mayor would run a risk of damaging his credibility and reputation since knowledgeable sources on social media were already beginning to question the intent, timing and purpose of such a meeting since the 2020/2021 state budget allocating the $46 million to the museum project has not yet been approved. In addition, he warned a premature meeting would appear to be a blatant “appeasement public hearing” and not an actual or practical public hearing where all 10 City Council members were present and relative to the process since future discussions or decision-making authority concerning the city’s $7.5 million contribution to the museum was in the future city budget.

If the meeting is held, Mohn will be there, but it is senseless since the incoming council’s strategic planning retreat is in February. In addition, and equally important as planning, Mohn pointed out that councilmembers Johnny Dawkins and Bill Crisp will not be present that day. Dan Culliton of District 2 has already voluntarily vacated his position and Jim Arp is also on his way out. His points are all well made and beg the question: What would be the purpose of such a meeting?

Mohn genuinely cares about the city, Colvin and the perception of both. The optics of this are just not good. Mohn went on to suggest the public hearing be postponed until the new year — after the new council has been installed and the status of the $46 million and intentions of the North Carolina General Assembly are known. 

 There’s not much to disagree with here. This Civil War History Center project started over a decade ago. By who? People with vision. Community leaders. People who care about the future of Fayetteville and Cumberland County and preserving and improving our quality of life for generations to come. We agree with Mohn.

We also recognize that City Councilwoman Tisha Waddell of District 3 is having a community meeting Friday, Nov. 15, at Simon Temple AME Zion Church from 6-8:30 p.m. to discuss important city-related issues and to solicit unfiltered feedback on topics like the condition of city streets, the Civil War History Center, stormwater, sidewalks, safety etc. This is real leadership. This is real community involvement. This is real vision. This is looking into the future and demonstrating a responsible, sincere and heartfelt passion for constituents. We applaud and support her efforts and the efforts of those elected officials that share her values. 

Doing the right things for the right reasons have never failed to have the right results. Thank you, Ted, for your service and wisdom. To Councilwoman Waddell, we say, “Go git em!” You are what this community needs. Let’s hope the newly elected city council shares the same vision.

 Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Picture 1: Outgoing District 8 City Councilman Ted Mohn

Picture 2: District 3 City Councilwoman Tisha Waddell

Beautification through desolation

04 Paul Bunyan and Babe Klamath CaliforniaPaul Bunyan is making a comeback right here in Fayetteville. Our very own City Council recently came out against big trees in favor of money from developers. In a remarkable display of fealty to contributions from our local developers lobby, the City Council cut the cost of chopping down big trees in half. Since 2011, something called the Uniform Development Ordinance, or UDO, has been a thorn in the wallet of our developers. To protect big trees, the original UDO charged developers $100 per caliper inch to cut down big trees. Under the new improved developer-friendly UDO, it will only cost $50 per caliper inch to cut down big trees.

To misquote Robert Frost’s poem about walls, “Something there is that doesn’t love a big tree in Fayetteville.” You may recall several years ago the City Council was seriously considering cutting down the trees on Hay Street because they were messy, dropping leaves in the fall and having roots that could mess up sidewalks. The current City Council voted 9-1 to cut the cost for cutting big trees, with Tisha Waddell the only one voting against the kissing of the tushies of our local Developers. Huzzah for Ms. Waddell.

Tree huggers will moan and wail about the new UDO’s war on trees, but money talks, and the oak trees will drop. Our City Council is more concerned with political contributions than stupid trees. Trees don’t vote or make political contributions. Let the trees eat cake. This leaves us with the eternal question of whether it is better to light the darkness or curse a candle. Can we make margaritas out of this pile of lemons from the City Council? I say yes. The trees must die! If our city is to be denuded of big dumb trees that interfere with profits, let’s make the most of it. A new city motto springs to mind: “Look Up Fayetteville, there are no trees to block your view.”

Fayetteville’s new emblem instead of the Market House could be Paul Bunyan, slayer of trees. Pictures of Paul on the side of PWC trucks would light up the eyes of the little children of our semi-verdant city. If you have forgotten your American legends, kindly pull up a chair to ponder old Paul. Paul Bunyan was a giant of a man who was a giant of a baby. When Paul was born, it took five giant storks to deliver Paul to his parents in Maine. Paul soon grew too big for his little town. He moved into the Midwest. During a terrible snowstorm — this was before climate change — Paul found a baby ox that had frozen from the blizzard. The ox had turned blue after being frozen solid. A lesser man would have left the ox to die, but not Paul. He took the ox to his camp, wrapped it in his sleeping bag, and warmed it up by his campfire. The ox survived but never lost his Carolina blue color. Paul named him Babe. Babe grew into a giant Blue Ox who helped Paul with his logging.

Paul and Babe worked in the snows of the Midwest, leaving giant footprints that filled up with water and became known as the land of 10,000 lakes. Paul cut all the trees in North and South Dakota, to the delight of the Dakota Developers Association. To get the logs from the Dakotas, Paul dug out the Missouri River to float the logs downstream. He dug Lake Superior to use to ice down logging roads to get his lumber to market. One day, Babe the Blue Ox slipped and turned over his water trough. The resulting flood created the Mississippi River. Paul and Babe were major dudes in the tree-chopping business.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Paul got into a tree-chopping contest with a fellow named Joe Muffaw, who was trying to convince loggers to buy steam-powered chain saws. Paul and Babe did their mightiest work creating a pile of lumber 240 feet tall. Muffaw and his steam-powered chain saw created a pile that was 240 feet and 1/4 inches tall, thereby defeating Paul. Paul and Babe, being despondent, moved to Alaska where they stopped cutting trees and lived in the forest. Paul and Babe are still up in Alaska. When they are wrestling each other they create the Aurora Borealis.

Where does that leave us in Fayetteville? Muffaw and his steam-powered chain saws have won the day with their newly mutated UDO tree ordinance. We can turn chopped down trees into something that will draw visitors to look up at our untree blocked skies. I suggest holding a Paul Bunyan Festival each spring with prizes to the developers who chop down the biggest trees. The developer with the largest tree fall will be awarded their very own City Council member for a year. Members of the City Council will attempt to catch trees as they fall. The Council member making the loudest splat under a falling tree will receive the Joyce Kilmer Developers Award.

Let us redo Mr. Kilmer’s poem “Trees” to reflect our new open-skies policy. “I think that I shall never see/ A developer as lovely as a tree/ A politician whose hungry mouth is pressed/ Against a developer’s sweet flowing wallet/ A developer who looks at profits all day/ And lifts political contributions to pay/ A developer who may in summer wear/ A nest of politicians in his hair/ Upon whose political lobby dollars have lain/ Who intimately lives without blame/ Poems are made by fools like me/ But only developers and politicians can kill a tree.”
 
 
 
 

My vision for Spring Lake

05 Spring Lake town logoEditors note: This submission is running as received from the candidate.

The Town of Spring Lake is a town with explosive potential, one that needs strong leadership. I was encouraged to run for Mayor of Spring Lake and I can provide that leadership as we look forward to rejuvenating our town with unity, transparency and more communication to residents. This is our town.

With a long standing history in the town from my grandfather Grady Howard being the first mayor and first Chamber of Commerce president and my grandparents having Howard’s Variety Store on Main Street, and also in my own history of serving as Mayor Pro Tem and Alderman for two terms, as the Executive Director of the Greater Spring Lake Chamber of Commerce and as the editor of the Spring Lake Beacon, a partnership with Up and Coming Weekly, I can say I know the residents and businesses and can see where we can grow.

My vision for Spring Lake is one of passion. This town and our residents deserve the best. As we look towards the next couple of years and beyond, we need to put policies and partnerships in place that will help us get to where we need to go. We need to bring back our small town mentality, but balance with the trends of Main Street development, marketing and events, which will only be assets moving forward. As I have been going door to door, I have heard the need for change. The need to re — look at our town with fresh eyes. I serve as the Spring Lake representative for the Cumberland County Joint Planning Board where we will be making our town a priority for a new land use plan and also updating our municipal area of influence. This is vitally important considering our need for new businesses, redeveloped infrastructure, jobs, entertainment and the like. Our need for economic growth is one that concerns all of us, from the families who have built their lives here to the new residents moving in. Our tax rate is the highest in the county and we need strong leadership to ensure that our budget is transparent allowing community input before we make those decisions. We need to work harder to get information out to residents and bring involvement that is so key.

I have spent the last 20 years volunteering in this community from serving on the 50th Anniversary committee to my current position as Town Historian. In between, I have co — written a history book about Spring Lake with Howard B. Pate, Jr. I was named Spring Lake Volunteer of the Year and was also named to the first class of Fayetteville’s 40 under Forty. I have been involved in everything from children’s support organizations like Communities in Schools of Cumberland County, the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County Board of Directors, Fayetteville Urban Ministry and March of Dimes to military relations on the MAC Council, as an active member of DUSA and as an honorary commander on Pope AFB to being the 50th Anniversary Holly Day Fair Chair for Junior League of Fayetteville and writing Fayetteville Area Mom on the Go, a blog to help residents find events and activities in our area, which was also named the WRAL top five blog in the state of NC last year. I also currently serve on the Spring Lake Economic Development Advisory Board.

My educational and professional background in nonprofit management, communications, downtown development and marketing are only part of what I bring to the table. In today’s world, there is too much that divides us. I want to bring all our neighborhoods, no matter our economic circumstances, political affiliations or backgrounds, to find solutions that create bright futures for all of our people. Spring Lake is an extraordinary community, and by working tirelessly to break down barriers, we can create a town where success, health and progress is available to everyone.

I am very thankful to my family, my children and my friends for supporting me to run. I hope I can count on your vote, a vote for Spring Lake.

Platform:

• Transparency – The Town Board MUST be open, honest and transparent for you. This means working harder to get vital issues to residents in a timely fashion so there is no second guessing what our town is doing for you. Your elected board represents you and transparency is KEY.

• Economic growth – We need to determine how to work with Fort Bragg and outlying areas to grow our town businesses and lower our tax rate. We need to create strong partnerships with our local leaders surrounding our town and doing business around us. Our neighbors have experienced growth around us so looking at our “Municipal Area of Influence” is going to be important as we exist in regard to economic growth and development, both preserving our important areas and working towards improving our others.

• Main Street development – We have applied to be a Main Street community in NC and working on our downtown will provide events, businesses and a “heart” to our town. The Main Street program, along with our Main Street Overlay District guidelines, will bring new life to a section of town that has not reached its full potential in a few decades. Think parades, more street fairs, thriving restaurants, cafes and living space. I am looking forward to citizen involvement as committees are formed and seeing our downtown area transform, and transform Spring Lake for the better. This is about quality of life.

• Parks and recreation – Our children are important. We need to look at upgrading our fields for soccer and football. We need to improve our programs and our outreach so that soccer, baseball, basketball, cheer, tennis and our other programs are full and children are experiencing the full programs that rival other towns and communities. We need to make sure our parks, walking trails and green space are well — lit and safe for our families.

• Budget –We need to look at our budget with town involvement. The budget process should be on the Town website well before the budget approval process and everyone should have input. This is your money. You should know where every dollar comes from and where every dollar goes. We have the highest valuation tax in the county. We have infrastructure that needs to be improved so we can avoid flooding in our streets and create a better quality of life in our neighborhoods.

• Safety – This is at the forefront thought of most families in our town. We need visible police presence in our neighborhoods, our parks and throughout our town. Our police officers and firemen should know us, not just when a call comes in, but through a gentle reminder that they are here to serve and protect. Our police and fire departments through community engagement and school visits can help educate and build our community for future generations.

• Unity – Our town board needs to represent and respond to ALL citizens in Spring Lake. Our town motto “Unity for Prosperity” rang true when it was created and resonates strongly today. We need a town board who will answer the call whoever is on the line. We need to hear from ALL residents. We need to listen to ALL residents. Connectivity, transparency and unity are what will help our Town get to the next level. Our Town is on the cusp of greatness, we will be looking towards a balanced quality of life. We can be proud of Town. It will take all of us!
 
 

OK, boomer

03 Ok boomerMaybe the story caught my eye because I have always been interested in baby boomers. I am, after all, a proud member of what was once the largest ever American generation, the 76 million born between 1946 and 1964 to parents of the Greatest Generation, thrilled that World War II was over and ready to get on with their lives. Boomers were the big bump moving through America’s demographic snake that has impacted everything we encountered from 1950s elementary schools to 2019 retirement communities.

Generational conflict is built into the human condition. Young people always think their elders are hopelessly out of step, and old people always think whippersnappers are a bit nutty. Over the last century, flappers of the 1920s thought their Edwardian parents too fogey for words. Parents of boomers found their own 1920s parents frivolous and hedonistic, and boomers were universally annoyed when their depression-raised parents turned off all the lights as they left a room and asked questions like “do you think money grows on trees?”

Now, no less than the “old gray lady,” The New York Times, reported last month that millions of teenagers shrug at their parents and grandparents who just don’t get it. They toss out the catch phrase, “Ok, boomer” to their elders, who in turn think the teenagers, sometimes called Generation Z, are simply unwilling to grow up. The words “Peter Pan syndrome” have been uttered.  

What’s more, Gen Z is monetizing calling out boomers and millennials. A quick internet search confirms mountains of “Ok, boomer” swag, including bumper stickers, phone cases, socks, water bottles, bedsheets and more. Amazon has a large selection of “Ok, boomer” coffee mugs and T-shirts as well as my personal favorite, a sweatshirt bearing the inscription, “OK, Boomer. Great job. We’ll take it from here.” topped off with an emoji face rolling its eyes.  

The NYT quotes 19-year-old Shannon O’Connor, who designed an “Ok, boomer. Have a terrible day.” T-shirt and received more than $10,000 in online orders. Said young O’Connor, “The older generation grew up with a certain mindset, and we have a different perspective. A lot of them don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe people can get jobs with dyed hair, and a lot of them are stubborn in that view. Teenagers respond, ‘Ok, boomer.’ It’s like, we’ll prove you wrong, we’re still going to be successful because the world is changing.”

Nina Kasman, 18 and also an “Ok, boomer” entrepreneur, was blunt. She told The NYT that teens believe older Americans are compromising younger ones. “Everyone in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making. Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we’re all really frustrated by it.”

Economists say teenagers have a point. Theirs is expected to be the first American generation whose quality of life will be lower than their parents enjoyed. Education is expensive, and few can afford health insurance if their parents cannot cover them.

Kasman continued, “…there’s not a lot I can personally do to reduce the price of college, for example, which was much cheaper for older generations, who then made it more expensive. There’s not much I can personally do to restore the environment, which was harmed due to corporate greed of older generations. There’s not much I can personally do to undo political corruption, or fix Congress so it’s not mostly old white men who don’t represent the majority of generations.”

Touché.

While every rising generation sees its elders as at least a tad fogey, few younger generations have as many legitimate grievances as does this one. We elders — some would say perpetrators — would likely be angry as well.

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