The 1/4 Cent Sales Tax

When Orange County created its Economic Development Districts in the early 1990’s, the purpose was to designate non-residential zones that would serve “for the next fifty years.” The districts were created along interstate highways to benefit from obvious transportation advantages. Orange County, with its support for quality education and environmental awareness, provides a great place for employers and employees to live and work. However, nearly twenty years later, virtually no activity has occurred in the Economic Development Districts.

Therefore, the Board of Commissioners has recently begun to modify policies to better support business growth – both new and existing – in the county. We have adopted a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and are in the process of amending regulations to make Orange County more competitive. We’ve revised Land Use designations. We’ve zoned property for business use and we’ve provided incentives to support expansion of an existing business.

The primary reason for the lack of activity, however, has been the lack of necessary infrastructure – water and sewer – that companies require for any site to make the first cut as a viable location. Investment now in water and sewer lines in the Economic Development Districts will make us competitive in the global business market, and will pay dividends in new taxable property, new sales tax revenue, and most importantly, in new opportunities to work and shop in Orange County.

We have the will, and with the approval by the voters of the ¼-cent local sales tax, we will have the means. Please come out to vote on November 8, and please vote “FOR” the ¼-cent tax.

Steve F. Yuhasz
Vice-Chair, Orange County Board of Commissioners

God Save us from the Biblical Marriage Ideal

Gay marriage a deviation from the biblical ideal? Really? Read the Bible. The biblical ideal of marriage is one man, lots of wives, concubines, bride prices and arranged marriages. Is this what we are defending?

If our society’s ideas of marriage have changed, why are some so intent on returning to the past? The past is not what I want to return to.

If our legislature wants to do something to defend marriage, can we not do something about the 50 % divorce rate? My concern is less the parents than the kids who now have to live with a lower standard of living, less well supervised, in two separate household, often with confusing and conflict-filled relationships. That’s a problem I’d like to see tackled. That is what I think of when I think of the benefits of defending marriage.

In reading this suggestion, do you think: How can we dissuade people from digging in and making a marriage work when they have decided it won’t? The heart is a mysterious thing. From the earliest history parents and other authority figures have tried to control who people love and marry. Great literature is written about the failure to control who people fall in love with and how they fall out of love.

We should remember this when considering marriage between adults. Let us accept this mystery and support its success.

10 Tips in Making it Through the College Application Process

College application season is upon us and finally all that hard work is going to pay off. Students are busy writing their essays, moms and dads are busy trying not to nag, and college admission’s counselors are traveling at neck breaking speed around the nation trying to encourage applicants to apply. Here are a few tips that can help this process go smoothly for everyone involved. 
  1. Get Organized. Your young adult is going to handle the college application process the same way they have handled all academic assignments in the past. If they habitually procrastinate and wait until the last minute to do things, they will do the same during this time. You can help them by providing organizational tools such as a wall calendar with deadlines so they know when to do things like: request transcripts, take the SAT, request recommendations, attend meetings, etc… 
  1. Have an angle and a plan. It’s no secret colleges are competitive. Each college is looking for a well rounded student body not necessary a well rounded student. Decide ahead of time which aspect of your student you want to highlight for example, academics, trumpet playing, sports, passion for classical languages, etc… and develop a plan to showcase that talent. 
  1. Set restrictions up front. If your have certain financial and geographical restrictions let your child know so they don’t waste their time researching schools that are off-limits. However, be aware that financial aid is available for most schools and scholarships are often given to students who exceed a school’s admission requirements.   
  1. Partner. The college application process should be spearheaded by your young adult and supported by you. In an ideal world, your young adult will be the one arranging college visits, tours, and interviews. In an ideal world, he should also be the one in contact with the colleges. There are many reasons for having your young adult spearhead this process but among the most important are the fact that admission’s officers prefer hearing from students and not parents. Hearing from students gives them a chance to establish a relationship, and second, the more work a student does to realize his dream the more invested in the process he becomes. Encourage your child to seek your help and see you as a resource. (i.e. – “Mom, I would like to go visit these schools can you take me?” “Sure, let’s sit down with a calendar, what dates do you have in mind?”) Or, as one local mom shared. “I asked my daughter if I could ask her about college applications one day a week.” 
  1. Cheerlead. Establish how you want the process to go mentally ahead of time and talk about it often. Parent: “I’m very proud of the way you have handled this process. You have made it easy for both of us.” Let your students know when they are doing something right. Not only will it change how they view themselves in this process but it will change how you view them as well. If your child has the resources necessary, knows what expected and how to do it, yet doesn’t lift a finger, consider the possibility that they are not ready for college yet and a gap year might be a good idea. Having taught college freshman, I can say with certainty that students who are not ready for college will waste the opportunity. 
  1. Search for the best fit. Chapel Hill is an academically goal oriented town with intense pressure and pride built around academic success and college acceptances. However just because a school has a good reputation, like UNC for example, does not mean it is a good environment for your child. Some kids will do well in large classes and extensive use of teaching assistants and others will flounder. In my experience, success at larger schools requires a very motivated self-learner who will not let the professor stand between themselves and their learning. Take the time to necessary to make sure the school aligns with your child’s learning style and temperament so that success is probable. Explore things like living learning communities, class size, etc… 
  1. Talk about the future. College is one of many important stepping stones in life. Since day one, we talk to our kids about how they need to do well in school so they can get into a good college and get a good job. BYW- they can recite this verbatim. However, few of them can articulate what the future looks after college. Now it’s time to create new goals and intentions. Start talking about what the college experience will look like, ask question like: what have you considered as a possible major? What about travel abroad programs or internships? Mention how fun it will be to meet new people of differing political opinions, backgrounds and experiences. By doing this you are helping your young adult look forward to leaving high school and thus generating more energy around getting that application out the door. This type of transformation will also help both of you move more confidently into the future. 
  1. Listen. Reflective listening is a technique taught in every mental health facility, mediation program, and sales training. When you listen reflectively you seek to understand another by repeating back what that person has said minus any judgment or personal input. In other words, listen to your children vent but do not let them off the hook for what needs to be done. Venting allows for a student to dump their emotions, regroup mentally and move on. For example,
    student: “applications sucks”
    parent: “it must be a pain to have yet another thing on your plate”
    student: “it is, I don’t feel like I have the time to do them’”
    parent: “so it feels like you are under a lot of pressure, huh?”
    (note the parent did not offered to make the problem go away, they only listened) 
  1. Call in outside help if necessary. Your relationship with your young adult is one of the most important possessions you have in life. While it is completely possible to breeze through this process, and many families do, it is also not unusual for both student and parent to experience stress during this time. If the stress turns to anger and hostility than it is time to seek outside help. 
  1. Enjoy it. In the end, this is a year to be celebrated by both of you so schedule sometime to just enjoy each other.

Hard to find dirt on this politician

Every politician is the object of critical, unfriendly, and just plain bad comments. That is the rule.

But retired journalist and biographer Ned Cline may have found an exception. He had to look long and hard to find any dirt on the subject of his latest book, “The Man from Mount Gilead: Bob Jordan Helped Give Public Service a Good Name.”
The closest thing to dirt about Jordan was during his campaign against incumbent governor Jim Martin in 1988. His consultants prepared a television ad that showed a bunch of real monkeys dressed in tuxedos but acting wildly. They were, the ad implied, as ineffective as Governor Martin’s staff. It was funny and made an important point. But in the minds of some people, it was tasteless and unfair. So, Jordan quickly pulled the ad.
Democratic Party Executive Director Ken Eudy had pushed for more attack ads and told Cline later, “Bob just didn’t have the stomach for that kind of campaigning. He would have been a great governor, but he was not a great campaigner on things like that. I don’t think he wanted to win that badly.”
Cline found one other time during the 1988 campaign when Jordan drew a few critical remarks. Explaining to black newspaper editors why he was not more forthcoming on some issues that were important to their readers, Jordan said, “I can’t publicly say some of the things you are asking because I need all the votes I can get, including the redneck votes in Eastern North Carolina.”
White conservatives, racial minorities, and Republicans jumped on Jordan for a few days.
But for Jordan, “redneck” was not necessarily a negative term. He identified with the farmers and working people like many of his friends in Montgomery County. In this respect Cline compares Jordan to Jim Hunt. “Both are products of a rural upbringing.”
Both thought their rural and small town upbringings were assets, not liabilities. They understood and appreciated the conservative attitudes, as well as the aspirations and challenges, of the people who were their friends, schoolmates, and co-workers when they were growing up. Those kinds of connections can be important advantages for political leaders who otherwise might be too liberal for the North Carolina conservative rural and small town voters.
Cline points out that Jordan and former governor Jim Hunt have much else in common.  In addition to their rural upbringing, “….Both are top graduates of N.C. State University, where their devotion and loyalty are legendary. Both have served the state in multiple capacities of public service….Both were raised by highly respected, fiscally conservative, yet socially conscious parents… who focused on the goodness of people and taught their children to focus on the doable rather than negatively on the difficult.”
The differences, Cline says, are in approach, with Hunt “more like a hard changing fullback crashing through the line just to prove he can score while Jordan, more like a nimble quarterback, is more methodical in scoring by avoiding tacklers rather than knocking them down.”
Jordan and Hunt were political allies, but Cline’s book leaves its readers speculating whether or not they might have found themselves running against each other for governor in 1992 if Jordan passed by the 1988 campaign and waited until 1992 to make his run for governor.
Hunt told Cline, “I really don’t know what I would have done if (Jordan) had waited until then and run…But it would have been hard for me to be a candidate if Bob Jordan were a candidate.”
We may be left to wonder about that possible 1992 contest, but Cline’s cataloguing of Jordan’s contributions to political and public life leaves no doubt that his service and example have been a great blessing to North Carolina.

It's Not Obdurate Stupidity (Response to "Common Science")

This T.W.O. Cents Column is in response to“It’s a Theory That’s Out There” – from Common Science, by Jeff Danner.

You ask what people, and especially politicians, mean when they say “no” to science, and particularly evolution. I believe it is because people compartmentalize their understanding.

Science is perceived to be the first step toward engineering, toward control. That’s great for cell phones and rockets. Evolution is about sex and death. The perception of science’s connection to engineering means that evolution is the first step to controlling who has sex and who dies, and that it’s not going to be the way our parents did it. This perception is not wholly without foundation: eugenics was a “scientific” idea – and now we’re trying to figure out reparations. Birth control and abortion have shaped behavior in a way that horrifies traditional communities. You’re probably not familiar with the details of nuclear weapon detonation. For similar reasons, many think that teaching human evolution is a questionable idea.

Human evolution is on the wrong time scale for the 24 hour news cycle.

A six thousand year time scale fits better with most people’s imagination than a 13.7 billion year history. It is disturbing to many that human beings (the ones that matter, anyway) might be importantly different from the ones described in sacred texts.

Philosophy and religion are not studied in our schools, and therefore when most people seek capital T Truth, they look to sacred traditions that have often become quite parochial, and many of those traditions have no trouble believing creation to have been so polluted by Satan that false evidence (e.g., fossils) permeates the world the way evil desires permeate the soul.

If you, as I, think that capital T Truth includes evolution, then we must first talk about Truth, and then we have to connect evolution to what people value – even if they think they value something more than Truth, which may sometimes be safety, sometimes compassion, and in a few sad cases, simple comfort or fleeting power.

It might be quite a departure for a “science” column.

I Wanna Be a RepliKate

I know a lot of people in England think the Royals are obsolete. But I love them. Scratch that – I love Kate Middleton. Er, Duchess Catherine. Whatever.

She is transforming the style of the twentysomething for the better, and I love her for that. She’s idyllic but still relatable. And most of all- she is tasteful, sophisticated and always chic.

That’s the woman I want to dress like.

Her style is SO timeless that it’s almost a blank slate. Kate gives the modern twentysomething a classy template with which to work with. Her looks can be boho-ed up, bedazzled or casualized depending on your personal style. And budget.

New York Fashion Week agrees- keep an eye out for pieces that scream Middelton in stores. They’re everywhere. And it’s awesome! Nothing wrong with a twentysomething woman with sophistication.

Of course, not everyone can sport a 4389025 carat sapphire on their left hand or a Burberry trench coat. But that’s not all Kate wears- she shops at places like Zara that really aren’t too expensive. Comparable to Banana Republic, maybe.

Parents… who do you want your 15 year old to think about when she goes shopping? Kim Kardashian… or Duchess Catherine?

What do you think about Kate’s style?

Unrestrained Joy

Something happens when your kids go back to school. Your life, if you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad, becomes a conveyor belt. You, your kids get up, eat, they leave for school, you restore your house to some sort of order, volunteer, do some contractual work, they return from school, eat, do homework, and eat some more. Then everybody goes back to bed.

It starts to get boring, and the boredom is relentless. It pushes you to do something, anything. What to do on the cheap? Wrightsville Beach is three hours away. Surf, walk, order pizza — and relax by the water.

Hush Your Mouth!

Girlfriend, you won’t believe what I just heard. Don’t tell anybody, but …” How many of us thrive on hearing the ‘dirt’ about others? It’s called gossip and man, oh, man can it be fun to be the first to know.

The down side is gossip damages the reputation of the person being gossiped about, and to a lesser degree, damages the reputation of the person who spreads it. Gossip can be entertaining when it passes long positive and interesting information, but is dangerous when it demeans or endangers another person’s character. Once you develop a reputation as a gossip within your company, those in positions of leadership will avoid giving you sensitive, confidential, and timely information and you will be shunned by those in circles of power and influence.

Gossip takes away from the business at hand and steals time and productivity from your company as surely as stealing money from the office’s petty cash drawer.

Gossiping becomes a habit like any other daily behavior. While the image of people enjoying congenial chats around the proverbial water cooler may conjure up pictures of laughter and harmony among your associates, it’s not always that way. As soon as someone in your group begins maliciously gossiping about people in your office, they take the chance of damaging their career as well as the person being gossiped about; that is when gossip becomes an unacceptable professional behavior and a major etiquette faux pas.

There are times when passing along some salacious tidbit about someone seems too tempting to keep to yourself, so you whisper it with a conspiratorial admonition, “Don’t tell anyone, but…” After three or four people have shared the same information, the original story gets diluted by half truths and exaggerations and invariable some gets hurt.

People gossip about others because they think that having information and passing along hot scoops gives them some sort of power only known to insiders.

Do Men Gossip?

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Men are just as guilty of gossip as women, sometimes being worse. Women are more skilled than men at making gossip entertaining. A study found that 33 percent of men indulge in gossip almost every day, compared with 26 percent of women. What do men like to gossip about? According to Sharon Supriya, a famous Indian researcher, men gossip as much as women about colleagues they would like to go to bed with and (shock) they are interested in talking about potential girlfriends and sexual rivals, even those who already have a girlfriend or partner. Men also spend more time talking about themselves than women. They call the conversation ‘networking.’ Men mostly gossip with work colleagues, and female friends; women prefer to “dish dirt” primarily with female friends and relatives.

Men gossip about work, politics or other highbrow topics less than 5 percent of the time, unless women are present.

Men and women love to read, watch and talk about celebrity gossip. Men love to watch gossip shows. If you don’t believe it, think about ESPN. It is the gossip heaven for men.

Gossiping about others also keeps an individual from looking at themselves and their own life. Those who gossip may be bored, petty, immature, or just nasty people who enjoy passing along information about other people’s weaknesses, foibles, and idiosyncrasies. They need an audience to satifsy their desire to draw attention to themselves as they trash others. Listening and providing such people with an audience makes you guilty of having the same weak character they have.

Benefits of Gossip

There are many articles on the net that talk about ill effects of gossips and the plight of gossip victims. However, do you know that there is a place for gossip? Scholars say that gossip fulfills an important role in our daily interactions and it is essential for human survival as gossip unites people, calms them, warns about bad behavior and even entertains them.

Gossip is a social skill, not a character flaw (unless a person is really socially on tilt). It’s only when you don’t do it well that you get into trouble. However that doesn’t give us the freedom to talk anything about anybody. One has to keep in mind to watch what he or she says about others because you would not want false information floating about you the next day.

From an etiquette standpoint, if you want to look poised and professional at all times, keep yourself above the gossip fray.

Five Hassle-Free Ways to Save Money

Recently I had award winning author Laura Adams, aka “Money Girl” on the Art of Potential show to share easy ways to maximize your hard earned money. She authors the top-rated Money Girl podcast that has been downloaded over 10 million times; to listen to a podcast of our interview click here.  Laura has taken some of her simple tips as well as helpful websites and provided us with (drumroll): 
Five Hassle-Free Ways to Save Money
by Laura Adams
Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does require you to scrutinize your expenses. Here are 5 tips for hassle-free ways to cut costs and save money:
Tip #1: Update Your Banking
Shop around for a better checking or savings account that pays you more interest and charges zero fees. The best bank accounts reimburse ATM fees, never charge for debit cards or paper checks, have no minimum balance requirement, offer free online bill pay, and are FDIC-insured. Find a high-yield account at sites like and
Tip #2: Optimize Credit Card Debt
Why pay more interest that you absolutely have to? If you’re carrying a balance on a high interest credit card, learn more about moving it to a less expensive card or using a balance transfer card to save hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest each year. Search for money-saving credit cards at sites like and
Tip #3: Cut Household Expenses
Take a hard look at what household expenses can be reduced or eliminated. Here are some ideas:
·         Ditch your telephone land line and go cellular
·         Find options for lower-priced TV packages or cancel your paid service altogether
·         Always cook with a microwave oven when you can (they use much less power than a traditional oven)
·         Watch your thermostat so it stays close to 78 degrees or above in the summer 
·         Invest in energy-efficient appliances when you need to replace an old one
Tip #4: Keep Your Car
Cars are rotten investments that leave you poorer, not richer. Make a commitment to keep your car for at least 5 years and then to buy a used vehicle that’s in good condition.
Tip #5: Automate Your Savings
A smart way to set money aside is to use a preset payroll deduction to invest in a workplace retirement account. You can also ask your employer to split your check into multiple direct deposits so a portion of your paycheck goes into a savings account. If you’re self-employed, use online banking to set up a recurring transfer to deposit money into a high-interest savings account or an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA)

To learn more about Laura you can read her book Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich. To learn more about the Art of Potential show be sure to visit our website.

It's Not Your Grandmother's Etiquette

“Well, honey, my grandmama always told me that a lady only offers the tips of her fang-gahs to shake hands with a gentleman.” The woman gently lifted her manicured fingers and held them mid-air to demonstrate her point to me. This Southern Belle sat smugly during a workshop I was leading, determined that the South shall rise again, starting with her diminutive hand demonstrating a lady’s proper handshake.

I prayed the look on my face did not betray my sarcastic thought which was, “Listen, Scarlett. That advice may have gotten you through your cotillion, but in today’s business world, no one would take you or your handshake seriously. Who would want to do business with a woman who only offers the “tips of her fang-gahs?”

Business has become the great equalizer for women as it relates to etiquette. Over time, I’ve come to knffective handshakes help people make a positive first impression. As with fainting couches and parasols, gone are the days when a gentleman had to wait for a lady to offer her hand for a handshake. Women are now expected to offer their hand (whether sitting down or standing up) to demonstrate confidence and equality. Whoever offers the hand first for a handshake holds the power. By power, I mean control of the encounter. Women can use techniques to start and maintain power in various business greeting scenarios.

In America there are two kinds of greeters: Hand shakers and huggers. In social situations, a woman has more power to pick and choose when she wants to give or receive hugs. Business situations are awkward when she becomes the target of unwanted hugs.

Here are two tips to avoid a dreaded hug:

1. When a known hugger is approaching, a woman should plant her foot about 12 inches in front of her body, extend her arm as if she has a steel rod inserted from her wrist to her shoulder, and force the hugger to shake hands and stay off of her body.

2. The second tip is to position her body so that instead of being swept up in a hug, she maintains control by moving her right shoulder into the hugger’s right shoulder. She can gently pat the hugger on the back if she chooses. These two actions may take some practice, but are well-worth it because of the importance of maintaining power.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on point of view) some etiquette protocols taught to us by our parents have been altered because of the equalization of men and women in business. At a social meal, for example, a gentleman is expected to rise from his chair when a lady approaches or leaves the table. That rule still prevails, but only in a social situation. At a business meal, however, the gentleman is not expected to acknowledge the lady’s presence by rising. Nor should the gentleman hold the chair for the lady as she takes her seat. A woman should not feel “put out” because Grandma taught her to expect such proper behavior. Times have changed.

I always hear women ask this question. “What do you do when facing a man during a conversation, and he constantly stares at your breasts regardless of whether you are wearing a low cut blouse or not?

Once again, this is about power. The woman has to subtly gain control. My answer? Cross your arms across your breasts and keep them there. That action breaks the line of vision, puts up a protective barrier and let’s the gentleman know in a quiet way that his staring is unacceptable. Bear in mind that such a stare could be considered a form of sexual harassment. The second a woman feels uncomfortable, she must take control immediately.

Another solution is to move to the man’s side and face the direction he is facing. Continue the conversation as if your move is totally natural. Keep control.

Etiquette is a differentiator between insecurity and poise. These few examples show how a business woman need not concern herself with feeling victimized because of the uncomfortable actions of others. Knowing proper etiquette lets a woman focus on business and not feeling left in the lurch about do’s and don’ts.

Let Miss Scarlett offer the tips of her fing-gahs. Today’s business person learns and applies etiquette to maintain the power.