Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gearing up for the 2016 Election

I am seeking a 4th term as your Commissioner from District 2. With great appreciation for your past support, I again ask for your financial support and your vote in the upcoming 2016 election.
 A commitment to service.  As a retired U.S. Navy Commander, I know what it means to serve. As your Commissioner these past 11 years, I made it my job to show up every day for every meeting well prepared.
I have spent hundreds of hours preparing for key decisions, meeting with citizens (in person, over email, and on the phone), working with town leaders, and participating in regional and state wide organizations and meetings. Enclosed is a listing of my National, State, Regional and Local assignments which addresses my experience as your Commissioner.

A commitment to results.  I have worked hard to serve all the people of Chatham County. I am particularly proud of holding the line on taxes while achieving and maintaining a Triple-A Bond Rating for Chatham; increasing school funding, teacher and county employee salaries; supporting the Historic Court House/Museum, new Library, Justice Center, Detention Center, and Agricultural Conference Center capital projects; engaging in joint initiatives with our towns and municipalities in gaining certification for our Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site and in the progress of seeking Certification for our Moncure-Merry Oaks Site.

In areas outside of the direct influence of the Chatham County Commissioner control, I have exercised my position to the betterment of Chatham County, including voting for the County Commissioner 2 year Moratorium on fracking. With regard to the Duke Energy coal ash site, mandated by the State Legislature to be located in Chatham, I helped negotiate an $18 million agreement with Duke Energy to include ongoing independent site monitoring and cleanup of the Moncure Cape Fear coal ash site. Chatham needs to be protected.

Why I want to continue.I am honored to serve you on the Board of County Commissioners.  In my Oath of Office, I swore to conduct our business ”without fear or favor”.  I have kept that promise.  I love Chatham County and its people. I am a sixth generation resident of the Moncure community. I started my political life working to protect the residents of the Moncure area from a regional landfill – a facility that would have made Chatham the dump for the region. My results have made it clear that I can work effectively with people with similar or differing political positions. My primary focus has always been new jobs, education, new development, our farming community, our environment and County services. As we continue to grow, I will continue to be protective of our environment, be an advocate for our people, and preserve the special place that is Chatham County.

 I serve or have served on the following National, State, Regional & County Boards and Committees.    My commitment and work ethic have resulted in valuable experience and problem solving capabilities.              
•   National Association of Counties (NACo)Voting delegate (2005-current) Headquartered on Capitol   Hill, NACo is  the only national organization representing counties in the United States. 
•   N. C.  Joint Legislative Commission on Municipal Incorporations: Appointed by House Speaker Joe Hackney. Served three 2-year terms (’07 - '12). Recommendations to the General Assembly.
•   N. C. Association of County Commissioners: all 100 Counties. Board of Directors (’05 - '12), Co-Chair  Legislative Goals Committee (’08 - '12), Tax and Finance Steering Committee (’09 - current), Board of Delegates (’05 - current), Chatham Legislative Liaison (’05 - current), Speakers Bureau (’06 - current),   District 9 Director (Chatham, Orange, Durham, Wake, Lee, Johnston, Moore, (’06 - ’07).   I'm a winner of the Premier Legislative Advocacy Award  
•   North Carolina Joint Regional Forum : TJCOG Delegate ( '12 - '14). Advises and advocates for creative regional solutions to statewide issues. Each of the 16 NC COG’s assign one delegate. 
•   Research Triangle Regional Partnership – RTRP: (Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake, Warren, Edgecombe, Nash and Wilson).  A business-driven organization dedicated to keeping the Research Triangle competitive through business, government and educational collaboration.  Board of Directors (’11- current).
 •   Triangle J Council of Governments: (Chatham, Orange, Durham, Wake, Lee, Moore and Johnston)   Executive Committee (’05 - '14), Immediate Past Chair (’11 - ‘12), Chairman (’10 -’11), Legislative Goals  Committee (’08 - '12), Vice Chair (’09 - ’10), Second Vice Chair (’07 - ‘09), Secretary/Treasurer  (’06 - ’07). 
•   Cape Fear River Assembly: Board of Directors ('12 - '14), Provides for the highest quality of life possible for the residents of the Cape Fear River Basin through the proper management of the Cape Fear River,her tributaries  and adjacent land uses. 
•   Sprott Youth Center, Moncure: Board of Directors (’11- ‘15). Liaison for $500K Rehabilitation Project.
•   Metropolitan Planning Organization: MPO: (Chatham, Orange, Durham, Carrboro, Chapel Hill,  Hillsborough and NC Department of Transportation), Executive Committee (’05 - ’06). 
•   Regional Planning Organization – RPO: (Chatham, Orange, Lee and Moore counties) Chairman (’06- ’07), Executive Committee (’05 - ’07), Alternate Voter (’07 - 12).
   Orange, Person, Chatham Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Authority: Executive Committee (’05 - ’06), Vice-Chairman (’05 - 06).
   Regional Mental Health, LME: Vice-Chairman (’06), Executive Committee (’05 - ’06).     
•   Orange-Chatham Justice Partnership: Executive Committee (’05 - ’06), Co-Chairman (’05 - ’06).   
•   Chatham County Affordable Housing Task Force:  BOC Liaison - Co-founder (’05 - ’06).  Awarded the Habitat for Humanity Affordable Housing Advocacy Award    
•   Home and Community Block Grant Committee: Executive Committee (’05 - ’06, ’11 - current).     
   Affordable Housing Committee: BOC Liaison (’11 -'13).  
   Solid Waste Advisory Committee: BOC Liaison (’11 - current). 
   Chatham Alcohol and Beverage Control Board: BOC Liaison (’06 -'10, '14-current). 
   Chatham Board of Elections: BOC Liaison (’06 - ’10). 
   Courts Operation/Security – Judicial District 15B: BOC Liaison (’06 - current). 
   Enhanced 911 Committee: BOC Liaison (’06 - ’10).  
   Local Emergency Planning Committee:BOC Liaison (’06 -’10)

How you can help – I am asking you for a financial contribution NOW, so I will be prepared to compete in the coming election. Please send a contribution to Re-elect Mike Cross, 388 Cross Point Rd., New Hill, NC 27562.

I respectfully ask for your VOTE in 2016.

If you have any questions, please call me at 919-774-3309.  Or email me at:

Friday, October 12, 2012

The 2011 Chatham County Democratic Party voting scorecard

The Chatham County Democratic Party's Voting Scorecard provides a comparison of the individual votes of the BOC members on    38 major issues.  It mentions that  some of my votes differed from my Democratic colleagues'.

I’m serving on my 4th BOC   and have served with 11 other commissioners, Dems and Repubs. I’ve never voted entirely in step with any of them. I do my own homework, listen, read, etc. as we all do. Then I make my decisions/votes    based on what I believe is best for the county under the current circumstances…as in,
 no longer in the majority 

No minority commissioner can sit on this BOC and vote NO to  everything and then expect support/votes for issues he or she may bring to the table We were all aware from the new board majority campaign promises and their budget directions to our Manager and Staff. 

I'd like take this opportunity to discuss in more detail some of the votes highlighted in the scorecard
 Eliminate Childhood Obesity Prevention Educator (Vacant Position) in Dept. of Health.
     Budget cuts where directed by the Board majority. The non-mandated position was vacant. If I have
    to make personnel cuts, and I did, I prefer to cut vacant positions. This position can be added back to
    the Health Department roster under different circumstances…if needed.
    Note: I voted to keep the Human Relations Director and the Sustainable Communities Director.
    Those jobs were filled…and this was very short notice of termination in my opinion!

Rescind 2009 BOC resolution that prohibited Sheriff from enforcing ICE immigration laws.
 The BOC has no authority to prohibit the Sheriff from any law enforcement issues and the
resolution did not state “prohibit”. I did not want to rescind the 2009 Resolution and I certainly
    did not desire to replace it with the 2011 Proposed Resolution!

      Here is what we were actually faced with:
        2009 Resolutionstrong opposition to any local government agencies contracting with US
        Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the purpose of enforcing Federal 
        Immigration laws.
        2011 Proposed Resolution (BOC –  5-2-’11 Regular Minutes)
        …supports and encourages local law enforcement to continue using all legal means within
        their authority to enforce the laws of the United States of America, the State of North Carolina
        and Chatham County.   …that Chatham County supports the cooperation of local law
        enforcement with all Federal and State agencies as is necessary and feasible to enforce these laws.

         Chairman Bock also stated “the new resolution is their opinion that they feel they should be
       doing all that they can that is feasible”.
         These Resolutions were about as far apart as they could get!
         Now we all know the new Board majority had the votes to replace the 2009 Resolution with their
        2011 Resolution. We should also know that neither resolution has any legal effect on law
        enforcement agencies. They are already sworn to uphold the law and Chatham is already part of the
        Secure Communities Program as are all 100 counties in NC.
          I discussed the issues separately with Commissioners Bock and Petty and we came to a compromise
         …No ICE Resolution…period!
          I appreciate their compromise and our immigrant population should also.
          BOC Discussion – - 6-6-’11 Regular Minutes

Delay hiring a consultant for developing Land Use Plan, but “revisit” issue later in year.
  This was the first motion under the new Board majority for Cost Containment and Streamlining.
  At an estimated cost of $300K, the LUP contract was postponed for further discussion.
  The new majority did not feel up to speed on this issue. First time the Chair had seen it and it was
  ready to be approved/signed.
  Hold LUP Contract for further discussion: Approved 5-0
  BOC Discussion-  - 1-03-’11 Regular Minutes.
   Note: We had a LUP and a map to go with it, before I came on the BOC in 2004. but no one would
   approve the map. Prevailing thought has been to direct growth to our towns where water and sewer
   would be available and help prevent sprawl.

            Eliminate Environmental Impact Assessment requirement for General Use (non-residential) permits that disturbs 2+ acres.
               Environmental Assessment (EA) is regulatory only under Conditional Use permitting by the zoning ordinance. With General Use  zoned property, the EA is not a regulatory tool, but can be helpful to the developer or he/she can set
               it aside. We have no authority to take a General Use EA and dictate that a developer do anything
               additional as we can do under Conditional Use zoning. We had a requirement that cost $2-$5 K,
               delayed the approval process and all we could do with it was simply review it for completeness
               …and that’s it. This requirement was added to our zoning ordinance in 2008 and no one has yet
               met the 2-acre threshold.
               Sally motioned and I seconded to keep the ERB review and were out voted 3-2. It will still go to a
               staff/peer review.
               BOC Discussion – - 2-8-’11 Retreat Minutes and 3-7-’11 Work Minutes.

             Remove Requirement for LEED certification for future Chatham public buildings.
     Our previous board majority policy was to require LEED Silver Certification as minimum
    requirements on all public buildings over 20,000 square feet. The new Board majority decided we
    should have some flexibility in this requirement; i.e., consider each new building on it’s own merits.
     Everyone seemed to agree that LEED Silver standards –  design and equipment - are really the basic
    building that one builds in these times. We all want our buildings to be energy efficient, but what is
    that Certification costing? A plaque/certificate doesn’t add energy efficiency. No one is suggesting
    that we stop building to LEED Silver standards, but looking at each new building as it comes up
    certainly doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Does it need a Certification Plaque?…and what price will we
    have to pay for that? We don’t know! Is it like the Hotel/Restaurant 5-Star Certification program?
    I’m told those stars cost at least a $100K per star! It lends prestige and provides bragging rights, but
    you can build the same facility with LEED design elements, install the same equipment and  provide
    the same service for a whole lot less…without the 5-Star Certification.
      I believe looking at each project and determining the added cost of certification is a wise direction to
    take. Is it worth it?  Sometimes maybe, but certainly not with the new jail!       
    BOC Discussion – - 3-7-’11 Regular Minutes.

Remove requirement for LEED certification for new County jail.
     Hemphill-Randel Associates, Architects/Planners, recommended NOT to proceed with LEED
    certification for this project. The potential payback period would be beyond a reasonable payback
    time to recommend LEED as a method to save cost.
     LEED Design Services ………………………………$59,800
     LEED Design Cost – additional construction cost….$703,000
     LEED Registration Fee………………………………….$1,200
     LEED Certification Review Fee………………………...$5,400
                                                                                 Total $769,400    ( vs. 5-Star = $153,880 per star)
     LEED Silver payback over approximately 20 years….$375,000    ( 20 yrs. Still $75,000 per star)
       Our Architect will include energy saving approaches of LEED, local materials, promote recycled
      materials, energy efficient plumbing fixtures, mechanical and electrical systems and low emitting
      interior materials. Results in 11.5% energy savings in electrical and water usage.
       Many of the items required for LEED Silver Certification yield substantial points, but do not yield
      substantial payback on the investment. This is particularly true for jail projects where many of the
      LEED items apply more to office and public areas than to secure jail areas.
       We will also meet the recommendations of the GBASE by following the 2012 State Energy
      Conservation Code. BOC Discussion – - 4-18-’11 Regular Minutes.

 Postpone construction of northeastern high school to 2016, Capital Improvement Plan.
       There was much discussion with Superintendent Logan and his staff concerning the urgency for the
      new NE High School. Numbers at this time indicate that we will not need it before 2016.. a push back
      of 1 year. We kept it on the CIP and will review it every year…allowing 3 years to accomplish the
      task. Growth will dictate the project. Remember, we are in recession and our revenue flow has slowed
      substantially. We cannot afford to be building anything early. We also must remember that we will
      need $1.5M in operating cost for the high school above the $45-$50M in construction cost.
      BOC Discussion – -  2-01-’11 Retreat Minutes.
       A new NE Elementary School is actually a more pressing issue and we are discussing that now. We
      will likely need it in the next 24-36 months. Construction periods for both will probably overlap.
      We have to see where we are revenue-wise, before we prematurely start raising any taxes.

Allocate zero funds in 2011-12 Budget for projected increases in school enrollment.
     I think we should have approved most of the $500K requested, but it was obvious to me that was not
   going to happen. I did make a motion to reinstate funding in the amount of $110,096 for two teacher
   positions at Sage Academy to be treated as a special, one-time appropriation, and to provide contingency
   funds, if needed, for teacher’s assistant positions that are eliminated because of state budget cuts beyond
   what the Board of Education anticipated in it’s budget request. Approved 4-1
   BOC Discussion – - 6-01-’11 Budget Work Minutes.


Approve 2011-12 “austerity” budget that cuts library hours, eliminates bookmobile, eliminates meal programs for seniors, cuts environmental staff, transportation and other services.
      Department Heads were directed to identify 5% in cuts that would be least detrimental to their
      Departments and these items were determined independently before the budget adoption.
      This statement does not reflect my actual votes on individual budget items!

   Budget Adoption:
      I voted against the Budget Adoption in the Budget Session. The out-of-the blue motion to approve
      was quite a surprise. I think the BOC should have gone through the normal process, which is where
      we find out how each member feels about each budget item and we receive an update from Department
      Heads. There is more to preparing a budget than just the funding aspect.  I certainly didn’t agree with
      all the individual items in the budget, but we still have the Budget Amendment Process and any
      Commissioner can bring any budget item back to the table for further discussion.
      Budget Adopted - 3-2. BOC Discussion–  – 6-01-’11 Budget Work Minutes.

      Later, I did vote for the Budget Ordinance approval out of  respect to the Manager and his staff who
      did an excellent job of preparing and presenting the budget as the new Board Majority had directed.
      The battle was over and I saw no need to insult the work of the Manager and his Staff.
       I wouldn’t go to a buffet dinner, eat only what struck my fancy and then condemn the Chef
      and his Staff for preparing a lousy buffet either. I’m just nice that way!
      BOC Discussion – - 6-6-‘11 Regular Minutes.
   Cut Library Hours:
       Yes, because they were part of the Library Director’s proposed cuts. However, the Board later
       made an amendment, adding $25K to the budget to extend library hours at Chatham Community
       and Goldston Libraries. Approved 5-0 
    BOC Discussion – - 9-01-’11, Regular Minutes.

Eliminates Book Mobile:
     That was clearly going to occur and was part of the Librarian’s proposal.
    Sally and I voted not to eliminate the bookmobile and were out voted. Sally and I requested an
    amendment to reinstatement of $25K for operating the bookmobile on a reduced schedule.
    Defeated 3-2 ,  The Book Mobile will be turned over to the BOE for summer distribution to students.
    BOC Discussion – - 4-18-’11 Work & 7-18-‘11, Regular Minutes.                                                                  
 Eliminates meal program for Seniors:
    This was another part of the majority Cost Containment 5% reductions and was submitted by the
    Council on Aging Director. However, she would not have submitted this cut, if not required.
    By not using our normal budget process, this received little discussion. I voted against!
    Budget Adoption – 3-2 Kost & Cross BOC Discussion – - 6-1-’11 Budget Minutes

     Cuts Environmental Staff:
        The Resource Conservation Manager (Vacant) position which was the reallocated Assist. Planner
        (Vacant) position had been created to help with the Land Use Plan and changes to the Land Use
        Ordinances. The LUP was put on hold for further discussion as explained on page 2, the position
        was vacant and fell to the Cost Containment approach. We certainly don’t need this position, if we
        don’t go forward with the LUP.
        BOC Discussion – - 1-03-’11 Regular Minutes.

         Chatham contribution to Chapel Hill Pittsboro Express. It does take time to develop this type of
         public transportation and we even discussed stepping up our Chatham Transit. Fortunately for our
         citizen users and the fact that parking is at a premium in Chapel Hill, CH Transit has continued
         this service without our financial participation. I voted to continue.
         Cancel Participation Approved 3-2 – BOC Discussion – - 1-03-’11 Regular.
  Select “closed” Chatham County landfill as site for new county jail.
The Site Selection Committee for the jail included the Sheriff’s Office, Manager’s Office,
    Public Works and the Project Manager. 3 sites were considered with the following criteria:
A.    Project schedule and potential obstacles to developing.
B.    Cost to develop the site, given land needs, infrastructure, and price escalation resulting in delays.
C.    Site’s impact on security of the public, jail staff and inmates.
D.    County’s ability to expand the jail on the site in the future.
E.     The approval process.
Site 1. Adjacent to the Justice Center (JC): 1 story or 2 story ?
JC will be completed before the Jail would start. It would put us over the budget of $12, 700,360.
It would require a retaining wall 400 feet long and 27 feet tall, with the base at 6 feet from the flood zone of Robeson Creek that could withstand the thrust of the fill earth and the load of the jail’s southern exterior wall. Most expensive site for construction. Would require 2 stories. Would require additional resources/manpower to maintain internal security. 8 mos. to 1 year longer to build. Rezoning, water and sewerage approval by PBO. Least buffer and less parking.
       Site 2. Generic In-town Site:( away from JC for comparison)
      4-5 months longer to build than adjacent to landfill. Same requirements from PBO. Less buffer area.
      More expense in land acquisition. Questionable parking/separation for visitors and staff.
       Note: In addition to our discussions, I have a 6-08-’11 email to the CCDP Executive Committee
       (on behalf of Randolph Voller) and a 6-10-’11 CCDP E-Letter with the same message that the BOC
       “has wasted a lot of time and energy eliminating” …followed by a list of items, and
           “advocating for a new jail in downtown Pittsboro”.
          Site 3   Adjacent to County Landfill:
      Chatham owns. Adequate acreage for 1 story and future expansion. Less impact on neighboring
      properties. Least expensive site for construction. Can be developed under a reliable, best use of
      capital cost with prime potential for expansion. PBO has since approved sewage capacity. Approval
      process less demanding and can be permitted by Chatham zoning.
      Site County Jail adjacent to County Landfill: Approved.
      BOC Discussion – - 8-01-’11 Work Minutes.                                                          
Eliminate daytime BOC meeting (seniors could attend) in favor of night meetings only.
    At my age, I am very aware of the perils of driving at night, but this was going to happen with or
  without my vote. However, I was successful (5-0) in getting the BOC to add a Public Input Session to the
  afternoon work sessions to insure seniors had a chance to give us their input. We now have 4 Public
  Input Sessions vice 2. We very rarely, if ever, took action on high interest agenda items during the
  previous 7 years of  BOC Regular afternoon meetings…and it did sometimes holdup the application
 decision process.

 I hope this review provides you a better understanding of my votes on these major issues.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Some informative information about fracking

Since fracking has been much in the news lately, I thought some of this may be of interest.

Dr. Larry Murdoch's presentation on fracking for the UNC School of government.  Covers a lot of the basics and the pros and cons -- it's a good high level summary of the technology and the issues.  Note, this link is a PDF file of his slides.

Video of a hydraulic fracturing workshop given to the Triangle J Council of Governments on March 29.  This includes presenters from Duke school of Law and UNC school of government, as well as three local officials from Pennsylvania.   I think you will find it informative.