Cary, NC – This week was very difficult for me and was dominated by multiple interviews from many media outlets on the announcements by the NCAA and the ACC to cancel championships in Cary due to HB2.
Monday – Tennis Championship
Monday I participated in a Pro-Am at the Cary Tennis Park as part of the Cary Tennis Championships which is here for the 2nd year. There were six pros and six amateurs. We played a tie-breaker format and alternated pros about every 10 minutes. It was a great time and I had a blast playing with people one third my age that can hit the ball twice as hard (and I have been told I hit the ball hard).
Late Monday the NCAA announced that it will no longer allow championships in North Carolina because of the HB2 law. While this hurts everyone in North Carolina, Greensboro and Cary took the brunt of this decision. Cary conservatively lost over $2 million in hotel rooms which was estimated to be around 5300. In addition, there is no telling how much of a negative impact this will have on other events and businesses considering North Carolina.
Tuesday – HB2
As a result of the NCAA announcement I spent most of Tuesday doing interviews. They included The Cary News, The News and Observer, The Durham Herald, ABC11, NBC17, Reuters, CBS talk radio out of Los Angeles, and NPR.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse the ACC announced they were also pulling events out of North Carolina. This generated another round of interviews from the folks I mentioned before and new interviews from WRAL, WRAL Sports, Triangle Business Journal, The Cary Citizen, sports radio from Winston Salem, and more.
Wednesday – Cary Chamber of Commerce
Wednesday evening I attended the annual Cary Chamber banquet which had about 200 attendees. I accepted the Business of the Year award on behalf of the Town of Cary. The Town of Cary organization is run by some of the greatest professionals in the country. They provide the highest level of service at the lowest price in Wake County. In addition, they are always looking to make things better. They partner with other communities and businesses and because of the great partnerships, especially with the Chamber and Cary businesses, Cary continues to thrive and prosper. I am honored to play a role in this great organization and it was a privilege to accept the award on the behalf of the Town of Cary
Wednesday night, after the banquet, I hurried over to the Booth Amphitheater to catch ZZ Top. I was lucky to get there just as they walked on stage. They were pretty awesome for 60 something year old dudes. It was a great show and I, along with my guests, had a great time.
Thursday – Town Meetings
Thursday the interviews continued but there wasn’t as many. Thursday afternoon I met with the town manager and assistant town manager. We talked about Imagine Cary and what Cary might look like 25 years from now. The town manager asked a great question: “If Cary had the same quality and level of service 25 years from now would you view that as a success?” Personally, I believe we should always strive to get better if possible. It would be interesting to hear what the citizens of Cary think about this.
Friday – More Interviews
Friday things calmed down a bit. And any interview requests were mostly of political nature which I declined.
Saturday – Dragon Boat Festival and Miracle League
Saturday began with a very difficult experience for me personally. I had to say goodbye to a pet and a friend who provided me with unconditional love every day for close to 15 years. Tears were shed and it was an emotional time. Those that have pets and have lost them know the pain and grieving that follows. Unfortunately, I only had about twenty minutes to grieve before my first event of the day.
Saturday Cary was blessed to hold the Triangle Area Dragon Boat Festival for the third consecutive year. The Dragon Boat festival started over 2300 years ago in southern China during the Zhou dynasty. In Cary it is a day of boat races and a celebration in diversity with multiple cultural performances and cuisine. I provided welcoming remarks which included the following:
“… We’re proud to have such a diverse community, and it’s events like this that help keep our community strong and successful as we get to know the values, experiences, and talents that each of us offers, like the great entertainment to will be showcased here today. And every day in Cary, Asian contributions are felt in our business community. Your influence on our community is tremendous, and we’re all the better for it.
Of course, we know that no matter how different our cultures may be, we still have so much in common. We all want good government, safe communities, a clean environment, great educational opportunities and respect. It’s only through mutual understanding and respect that we can reach our full potential as a community and truly have a reason to celebrate. …”
Remarks were also provided by the Congressman David Price, Morrisville Mayor Pro-Tem, a North Carolina Senator, a North Carolina House Representative, and a Wake County Commissioner. Afterwards the dignitaries went to the dock and got in one of the race boats for photos. Then it was time for me to leave for my next event.
It was an honor and a privilege for me to be invited to the 10th anniversary celebration of the Miracle League in Cary. Robin Rose and Tony Withers were inspired to establish the Miracle League of the Triangle 10 years ago with a goal of providing children with special needs the opportunity to play America’s favorite pastime of baseball. It has been a huge success and now there is an additional location in Raleigh. Between the two sites there are over 400 players and 30 teams. I was blessed to have the opportunity to thank all those who volunteer to help make this such a huge success. Their gift of time and love not only helps the players and their families but improves the quality of life of everyone in Cary.
Sunday – Tennis Finals
Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the finals of the Cary Tennis Championships. This was our second year in hosting this event. One of the players who played last year said it was much better this year. Great news! I had the honor of giving out the trophies for the doubles finalists and winners and gave remarks in the singles awards ceremony. It was a great tennis week and we look forward to hosting this tournament again next year.
Statements on NCAA, ACC and HB2
This has been a very difficult week for Cary. If multiple media outlets want an interview with you, as an elected official, it is almost always a BAD thing. And I did about 20 interviews this week. Here is a statement summarizing most of the things I said in interviews:
“It is important to understand that the NCAA’s and ACC’s decisions are not based on the actions of Cary but with the leaders of this state. Cary shares the NCAA’s and ACC’s values of inclusiveness and we have an impeccable record of providing events that welcome everyone. Unfortunately because of HB2, the perception nationwide and globally is that North Carolina is no longer a progressive state but instead is moving backwards. Many label our state as discriminatory which is embarrassing.
This all began when Charlotte passed an ordinance which would allow people to use bathrooms of the sex they identified with. Immediately the House speaker and Senate Pro-Tem threatened retaliation. The NC Legislature passed HB2 with very little discussion or thought of consequences. The HB2 law is unenforceable unless someone is going to be at every bathroom checking body parts. Interestingly, before the Charlotte decision I did not hear of ANY issues related to bathrooms. Now there are political ads by the Governor defending HB2 as a safety law. Come on. Really? This is politics in its purest form plain and simple. Regardless of one’s views of this bathroom issue, it is harming every single person in North Carolina through lost revenue, lost business, and a negative perception which has unknown implications. Is supporting a law that is unenforceable worth all the damage being created? I think not!
As elected officials we should always consider the impacts of actions we take before and after a decision. In doing so sometimes we will find that we need to tweak, change, or even repeal an action. We should never create laws that are unenforceable as they serve no purpose except to further a political agenda. And there are rarely any positives in political issues only divisiveness. As elected leaders we should be asking ourselves at every decision point, “is this in the public interest or is this to support a personal or political cause?” It is time that our legislators and our Governor ask themselves that question. How much longer must the citizens of Cary and citizens of this state suffer before this political game ends? Enough already! In the words of Gale Adcock, former Cary council member and the loudest voice for Cary in the legislature, ’It’s time to put on your big boy pants and do the right thing’ Amen sister!”
It is my hope that the political leaders of this state will look into their hearts and do the right thing for what is important to this state. If not, I dare say North Carolina will suffer for years and maybe decades from the negativity being created.
At the end of the week I sent letters to the NCAA and the ACC letting them know of our continued commitment to bring events back to Cary. Here is the letter to the NCAA:
Dear Mr. Emmert:
I wanted to reach out to you personally to reiterate Cary’s continuing commitment to our shared values of ensuring that events are welcoming to all as well as our desire to host future NCAA championships. As you know and since 2004, the Town of Cary has had the privilege to host 24 NCAA championships. It’s been an honor for our community, and we’ve enjoyed working closely with the NCAA to ensure that these experiences were positive and successful.
While some media reports regarding the NCAA’s announcement to relocate tournaments from North Carolina have suggested that some affected by the difficult decision may pursue efforts to recoup from the NCAA estimated lost revenues, we will not be a party to such actions despite our disappointment in losing several hosting opportunities.
We have been proud of our NCAA Championship City designation, and we will continue to work hard to provide an inclusive and respectful environment so that the championships we have hosted for so many years return to Cary.
The letter I sent to Swofford of the ACC was similar.
Town Manager’s Report
The town manager’s report included several items this week. Here are excerpts from that report:
NCAA and ACC update
Following this week’s announcements from the NCAA and ACC, Mayor Weinbrecht sent letters to both organizations reiterating Cary’s continued commitment to our shared values of ensuring that events are welcoming as well as our desire to host future championships.
Because of the NCAA and ACC decisions, WRAL has made a public records request for our completed non-discrimination questionnaire submitted to the NCAA, including any attachments or supplementary materials submitted as part of the response. Staff is working to satisfy this request.
Google Fiber Update
Google continues actively constructing in Cary and has shared they will open enrollment in other parts of the Triangle soon. Residents can check their address at the above link to be among the first to know when sign-ups open in their neighborhood.
Imagine Cary Community Plan
At next week’s work session (9/22), staff will present a summary of feedback on the Cary Community Plan. Additionally, staff will present a summary of outstanding issues and recommended modifications prior to the public hearing. Examples of how the proposed plan policies will be utilized in guiding future rezoning and development decisions will be included. The Cary Community Plan is on schedule to be adopted by January 2017.
Eastern Cary Gateway Plan
Formal adoption of the Eastern Cary Gateway Special Area Plan starts with a scheduled Town Council Public Hearing on September 20th. There will be another Public Hearing at the Planning and Zoning Board meeting on October 17th before being scheduled to return to the November 10th Regular Town Council Meeting for a vote for adoption.
Staff met with Columbia Development and was informed that they are taking a fresh look at the site development. They mentioned a project they were looking as an example, called Avalon in Alpharetta, GA. One approach staff is considering is to facilitate a meeting with all active parties so we can discuss things like layout and connectivity. This could potentially include Columbia Development, Mall representatives, State Property, and Triangle Aquatic Center.
Targeted Smoke Alarm Installations
On September 24, the American Red Cross, with assistance from the Fire Department and Cary CERT, will go door-to-door and offer to install new smoke alarms in the area around Kingswood Elementary School. The area was selected based on the age of the houses; the goal is to reach 90 homes and distribute 400 smoke alarms. This is an annual initiative by the American Red Cross as part of its campaign to prevent home fires, and we believe this proactive effort benefits citizen and Town relations.
I’m happy to congratulate Nicole Raimundo for being selected by NC Technology Association (NCTA) as the 2016 Public Sector CIO of the Year. The NCTA hosts the awards gala on November 10 at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Emails From Citizens
Emails from citizens this week include:
- A complaint about traffic on Morrisville Carpenter Road.
- A complaint that the town’s LED lighting is too bright and should be removed in certain areas. (It is my understanding that the LED street lights belong To Duke Energy. Any neighborhood, HOA, etc and request, and pay, for a different kind of light.)
- A summary recommendation from the Friends of the Page Walker about the development proposed around the current location of the Ivey Ellington House.
- Multiple requests for interviews. The furthest away was from California. There were also interviews from Florida, Charlotte and Winston Salem.
Next week will be another busy week for me. It includes the 2nd regularly scheduled council meeting of the month, a work session on Imagine Cary (without Eastern Gateway), a Mayors Association meeting, a Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Board meeting, the Oktoberfest celebration, and an appreciation picnic for the PRCR volunteers.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, September 25th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photo courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht.