Last Night Home?

If you haven’t seen the new version of my Web site, you should check it out. If nothing else, I can say that going through all of this has motivated me to make my site look more professional. I’ve learned more about Flash and Dreamweaver in the last two weeks than I did in the last two years.

The latest addition to the site is a automated email sender that contacts town leaders and the town attorneys. Check it out if you haven’t already. I have a sample letter you can send to the mayor and the Board of Aldermen, but you can edit it as you see fit.

That said, time is running out and it looks like my campaign to pressure the town into allowing me to stay will not be successful. I actually found the campaign somewhat fulfilling though. I’m happy and grateful for all the support I received and I’m glad the issue was able to find its way into the public sphere. It was a reflection of the principles of the town’s current leaders and I think it will have an effect on the upcoming election.

Anyway, I have a new home that I will be moving into on Friday. I received a lot of offers from people who had extra bedrooms, vacant basements and the like. I appreciate how hospitable so many people — both friends and strangers — have been.

My new apartment is tiny, but it’s furnished, so I won’t have to move all of my stuff. I’m not sure I ever mentioned this before, but I ruptured my Achilles tendon a couple of weeks ago and had to get surgery. Moving all of my furniture on one good leg wouldn’t be much fun, so it’s a relief that I won’t have to do that. But I will have a lot longer walk to the bus, which is really going to be tough if it gets too cold. I imagine crutches don’t get much traction on ice.

Thanks to all of you who have offered support thus far.

An Impasse

So tonight I went to the Town of Carrboro Board of Aldermen meeting. I wanted to discuss this issue face to face with them since the email with the mayor did not work. I’m a believer in the fact that people are more inclined to work together in person than by email. This is especially true when you’re asking someone for something; it’s a lot harder to say no to a face than an email address.

Anyway, the town let me speak first and I thought I gave a very fair and pointed speech. I presented the same points that I did in my email traffic with Mayor Mark Chilton, but I added one point that I really wish I had remembered earlier. If you knew me in 2008, you know that the Army called me back to active duty in the spring for a deployment to Iraq. My original report date was March 16, but I sent the Army a letter informing them that I was in graduate school and they backed up my deployment to May 18 so I could finish the semester. It makes sense that if the Army can delay a soldier’s deployment in the global war on terrorism in the interests of education, the Town of Carrboro should be able to do the same thing.

Mayor Mark Chilton interjected at one point during my speech, saying the order to vacate came from Orange County courts, not from Carrboro, and that a settlement setting Oct. 31 as the deadline for vacating the apartment was reached by the town and my landlord. He said the town had given my landlord enough extensions and that she had not dealt honestly with the town’s leaders. I responded by saying I wasn’t asking for an extension from her, but for me. He responded with a nod.

As I told him, I’m not defending my landlord. She shouldn’t have rented me the apartment. She should have let me know what was going on before I signed the lease. All I’m saying is, the town has the ability to go after my landlord without turning the screws to me in the process. The fact that they don’t agree with me is awfully perplexing.

Either way, I left unsuccessful in convincing the town to allow me to stay through the semester. Carrboro posts video of town hall meetings to the Internet, so I’ll post a link to the video from tonight’s meeting as soon as it goes up.

Eviction Without Representation

You might be surprised to know that there are people evicting me from my apartment at the end of the month. They’re elected officials and I can’t vote for them or against them.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m being evicted. My rent is paid. My place is clean. I don’t throw wild parties. My bills are up to date. But at the end of the month, I won’t have a place to live.

Town of Carrboro
Mayor Mark Chilton and the town’s Board of Aldermen have decided that my landlord has broken zoning laws for what is considered a watershed farm. My landlord can’t vote for or against them either; her farm is in Chapel Hill, but neighboring Carrboro has extraterritorial jurisdiction over her land. I don’t really understand why. The legal matter is of little consequence to me, except when it comes to my living arrangement. (paragraph edited 12/8/2008) because of poor grammar and a broken link)

On December 13 of last year, I signed a one-year lease to live in a barn on this watershed farm. Two months ago, my landlord informed me of the ongoing litigation against her. She is obviously at fault for not mentioning it at the time of my signing the lease, or for the subsequent eight months. The town, which managed to learn about me, research my past, find and read my blog and gather my personal information from the University of North Carolina, is also at fault for not bothering to tell me. So all this has been going on since 2007, with my just being notified about it in the last two months.

Now, there are a lot of issues behind the picture I’m painting, but they really aren’t relevant to my argument. I’m leaving the area in December. I’m off to start my career and work on my thesis. But the town says I have to move at the end of October, meaning I get to search for an apartment in the middle of my last semester, move there, live there two months, then move again.

Mayor Mark Chilton is fully aware of the prospects for someone who’s looking for an apartment for two months in a college town. I appealed to his sense of decency by sending him a message asking him to allow me to stay for just two more months – two more months in a case that has been going on for than two years – to no avail. I reiterate the point I made in my email to him: everyone has been accused of wrongdoing in this case – everyone but me. What can the Town of Carrboro possibly accomplish at the end of October that it could not accomplish in January, aside from allowing the only person who hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing in this situation to finish his education without interruption?

I hate playing this card, but I’m a veteran. My service to my country forced me to leave grad school for a semester already. Mark Chilton expressed his sorrow to me, saying he is sorry I am in a situation I did not knowingly create. Well, Mark Chilton, I didn’t unknowingly create this situation either; it was knowingly created by those around me. No matter who’s right or wrong, every party involved dropped the ball on letting me know what’s been going on and I get to pay the price. I offered you the chance to assert local government to look out for the little guy and you decided to reject that offer.

First Amendment Day!

I’ll tell you, I may sound like a nerd, but it was cool to celebrate First Amendment Day today.

For those of you who don’t know, today was UNC’s First Amendment Day. It started with the planting of a free speech tree in front of Carroll Hall. I actually got to help plant it – awesome. Then there was the reading of some books that have been banned across the country. Did you know that someone challenged Anne Frank’s diary in Alabama? Seems like an awful stretch to try to get that one banned. There were lots of debates and discussions held on campus and I was very proud that so many students participated.

After ten weeks of breaking the law to use Facebook in China (oh, and happy birthday, PRC), it’s pretty awesome to realize just how lucky we are to not only have freedom of expression, but also freedom to receive information from others. The best and worst part about the First Amendment is that it protects the kind of speech that makes your blood boil. There are lots of things said that I think are ridiculous or hateful or detrimental, but I appreciate the fact that they have a spot in our marketplace of ideas. We just have to make sure to shop wisely…

If you’ve never taken a second to appreciate freedom of speech, do it now. It’s a wonderful freedom that’s ever so easy to take for granted.