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Students, officials differ on sprinkler options
BY KELLY GILBERT
The Chapel Hill Town Council heard
the reactions of students and residents
alike in a public hearing concerning man
datory sprinkler systems in fraternity and
sorority houses as well as multifamily
and nonresidential buildings.
The debate about requiring new build
ings and existing Greek houses to have
sprinkler systems began after five stu
dents were killed in the May 12 Phi
Gamma Delta fraternity house fire.
Chapel Hill Fire Department Chief
Dan Jones presented the possible ordi
nances requiring sprinkler installation.
Balanced budget good
theory, tough practice
UNC students and the federal govern
ment both know about running up debt.
While students carry big credit card bal
ances, Uncle Sam has run large deficits
since the early 1980s.
And now, 15 years later, as the budget
grows larger and explosive entitlement
spending looms closer, public attention
around the country and at UNC is trained
on ensuring that federal expenditures
Though most Americans support a
balanced budget, they also like the ser
vices government provides, leaving poli
ticians in Washington with mixed mes
sages about the nation’s priorities.
“You have to decide what’s more im
portant,” said Sophia Gates, a freshman
from Shelby. “You want everything, but
you can’t have everything.”
Gates’ sentiments reflect those of many
students who grew up when politicians
spent taxpayer money faster than they
The bill for those deficits is now com
ing due: the U.S. government spends
$240 billion per year on interest on the
national debt, a full 15 percent of the
And while past deficits are consuming
current budgets, future fiscal problems
loom on the horizon. Social Security and
Medicare, entitlement programs that
cover senior citizens, currently cost $542
billion per year, or 35 percent of the
budget. These programs are expected to
become even more costly when the old
est baby boomers begin to retire around
2010. By 2029, analysts say, there will be
fewer than three workers supporting each
Twenty-three-year-old John Tottie, a
tax and budget specialist with Citizens
for a Sound Economy in Washington,
D.C., warns that without changes to So
cial Security and Medicare young people
will have to pay heavily in 10 or 20 years.
“We’ll be paying almost all of our
Town Council taps former UNC
vice chancellor to fill vacant seat
BY MARY-KATHRYN CRAFT
The Chapel Hill Town Council unani
mously appointed Edith Wiggins to fill
its vacant seat Monday.
Monday night’s vote was the final step
in a process that began in August to fill
the seat vacated by six-year council mem
ber Barbara Booth-Powell’s July death.
Wiggins, retired UNC vice chancellor
of student affairs, and Louise Stone, di
rector of publications attheN.C. Depart
ment of Labor, applied for the vacant
council seat. Both candidates presented
their platforms at a public hearing Sept.
Wiggins was installed as the council’s
newest member immediately following
her appointment. She said she looked
forward to working on the council.
“I want to thank all the council mem-
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Ordinance A requires installation of sprin
kler systems in fraternity and sorority
houses within five years.
Ordinance B allows seven years for
this installation if preliminary fire pre
cautions, such as fire alarms and fire
escapes, are installed within the first two
The fire department recommends
Option A, Jones said.
“Fraternity and sorority houses repre
sent some of the largest fire hazards in
Chapel Hill because (in the houses) we
have multiple ignition sources, and young
folks have a limited sense of their own
risks,” Jones said. “They have a sense of
money in the future to the government in
one way or another,” Tottie said. “The
president’s own budget shows a lifetime
tax rate of 80 percent if we uphold the
commitments he’s made.”
Indeed, twenty-somethings seem to
be pinched between the past and the
future. They’re stuck with payments on
the debt accumulated while they were
teenagers, and if the status quo is main
tained, they will be forced to pay in the
future for programs that benefit their par
In recent years, attempts have been
made to trim the federal deficit, which
would slow the national debt’s rate of
growth. The debt is the combination of
each year’s deficit.
Deficits declined in the late 1980s,
climbed sharply in the early '9os and
decreased to $l4O billion in 1996. Deficit
control packages typically include tax
increases and spending cuts, two politi
cally unpopular policies.
William Keech, UNC professor of
political science, credits both parties with
the limited success in reducing the defi
cit. He said President Clinton and the
Republican-led Congress had made some
tough choices that brought the United
States closer to a balanced budget.
“When making policy, they have ad
dressed this problem in a responsible
way, ” Keech said. Congress and the presi
dent have agreed to produce a balanced
budget by 2002.
But policies designed to force the bud
get into balance have not worked, Keech
HUH WIGGINS was
chosen to fill the seat
left vacant by Barbara
said. “ I pledge to
work with all of
you ... to make
Chapel Hill a place
we will all enjoy.”
In a prepared
said she felt privi
leged to have been
said she was both
ered by the lack of
interest in the vacant seat because there
were only two candidates.
“The lack of interest and absence of
more candidates from the minority com
munity is a disconcerting commentary
about Chapel Hill’s political climate that
does not appear to excite a greater inter
Lead me not into temptation; I can find the way myself.
Rita Mae Brown
Getting a Head
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Anew Head Start center is
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week. Page 5
Studentßody President Aaron Nelson
spoke in support of Option B. “B shows
the town is flexible." Option B gives
students more options and time to com
plete the safety requirements, he said.
Nelson expressed concern about the
cost of the sprinkler installations. Pro
posed costs have gone as high as $50,000.
“I ask the town to actively support
fraternities and sororities in financing
this," Nelson said.
Brett Perry, a senior from Chapel Hill,
said he also supported Option B.
“It makes the fraternities and sorori
ties have a fire system installed in the first
two years and allows five years to install
sprinklers,” he said.
“You have to decide what's
more important. You want
everything, but you can't have
said. Politicians ignored or disobeyed the
1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act,
which mandated across-the-board cuts if
certain deficit reduction levels were not
met. It was formally discarded in 1990.
A balanced budget amendment, which
was part of the Republican “Contract
with America,” remains a popular idea.
The amendment passed the House of
Representatives last year but fell one vote
short in the Senate.
“I like the balanced budget amend
ment proposal because it puts it into law
to keep the budget balanced,” said Matt
Ross, a sophomore from Durham. “It’s
the responsibility of the government to
keep the deficit from climbing.”
Some economists, though, think bal
ancing the budget should take a back seat
to funding essential government services.
“I think it’s insane,” said Arthur
Benavie, a UNC professor of economics
who is writing a book about deficits and
debt. “It’s crazy to tell the federal govern
ment that it can’tborrowto pay for public
Benavie said infrastructure projects
like highways and toxic waste treatment
est among all segments of the popula
tion,” she said.
When asked in a previous interview if
she agreed it was important to have a
minority on the council, Wiggins said
she thought “diversity wherever we can
have it enhances any body of people.”
Wiggins, who has lived in Chapel Hill
for more than 32 years, said she wanted
to give back to the community with the
extra time her retirement would provide.
“My intent is to become involved in
the life of the community and the council
is a good way to do so,” she said.
Council member Julie Andresen said
although she wished more people had
applied for the vacant seat, she thought
both candidates were qualified for the
She said she hoped both candidates
would remain involved with town gov
The University is replacing ▲
approximately 150 trees ”
that were damaged by
Hurricane Fran. Page 6
Dean of Students Fred Schroeder said
he also supported Option B. “As I under
stand it, under Option A, a house could
wait up to four and a half years to begin
installation,” he said. “I prefer Option B
to speed up the fire prevention.”
Randy Cox, chairman of the Greek
Affairs Committee, said the committee’s
first recommendation was for the sprin
klers to be installed in the houses.
“It’s imperative that this is a manda
tory system," Cox said.
The council also heard comments from
residents regarding automatic sprinkler
systems in new and extensively reno
vated structures within town limits.
The sprinkler systems would be in
“The Republican Party is
focused on cutting taxes and
that s an election technique.
We do need to raise taxes. ”
plants are too costly to be paid for with
While producing a balanced budget
remains politically popular, there is hardly
any constituency lobbying hard for a
balanced budget or spending cuts, said
John Tottie of Citizens for a Sound
“There’s no incentive for taxpayers to
go after any individual programs,” he
said. “Everyone agrees in the abstract
that sure, cutting spending is a good
thing. But as soon as you get to specifics,
you annoy special interests.”
The United States Student Associa
tion, a lobbying group for increased edu
cational spending, feared that a balanced
budget would dry up taxpayer money for
“The USSA opposed all balanced bud
get amendments that came out because
all would have resulted in huge, dispro
portionate cuts in education, ’’ said Kazim
Ali, president of the USSA and a student
at the State University of New York at
Ali suggests that instead of targeting
education, politicians should cut defense
Observers claim debate swayed no voters
■ But Clinton looked more
comfortable in the debate
format, a professor says.
BY ROBIN SMITH
Heated exchanges mighthave marked
Sunday night’s debate between President
Bill Clinton and Republican presidential
candidate Bob Dole, but observers noted
that it lacked the power to sway votes.
“It wasn’t a great debate in the sense of
Lincoln-Douglas, but this was a very
serious discussion and to the point
about as good as it can get,” said David
Lowery, political science professor at
The debate, complete with sharp words
and humorous interludes, focused
strongly on education and taxes.
Clinton was clearly the debate win
ner, Lowery said. “He defended his
record, and that’s what an incumbent
candidate has to do in debates.”
Erik Doxtader, professor of commu-
Mostly cloudy, rain; "
Wednesday: Sunny; high 60s.
stalled in multifamily residential build
ings with more than three attached hous
ing units and nonresidential buildings.
The council heard four options for
multifamilyresidential buildings and five
for nonresidential buildings.
Jones said the fire department recom
mended the option in both cases that
requires sprinklers in buildings which
exceed two stories and 6,000 square feet.
Nick Tennyson of the Home Builders
Association spoke for his colleagues.
“We will be worried about the cost,”
The council referred the issue to Town
Manager Cal Horton. It will come before
them again at a later date.
(% Srnhj (Har Mrel
Top 5 Campus Issues
The Daily Tar Heel conducted an
intercept poll of 395 people on
campus from Sept. 10 to Sept 15 to
determine which of 24 issues were
most important to the University. Of
24 possible answers, respondents
chose the following five as the most
important. See page 4 for more of
Schools and education
Balancing the budget
expenditures, which were $268 billion in
1996, or 17 percent of the budget.
But defense has its constituencies as
well, from military personnel and their
families to defense contractors. And real
outlays for defense spending, these groups
point out, have already declined by one
third since 1989.
Some experts believe that the only real
way to balance the budget is to alter
entitlements like Social Security and
Medicare, which consume one-third of
the budget now and will balloon in cost
unless restructured to save money.
“These arepopularprograms, and they
deserve as much scrutiny and reform as
other programs do,” said Keech.
But because these programs pay money
to a significant number of citizens, cut
ting them, or even slowing their growth,
is politically costly. Congressional Re
publicans learned this in July when they
attempted to increase Medicare’s mini
mum age from 65 to 67 and reduce the
annual rate of growth from 10 percent to
6 percent. Powerful lobbying groups like
See WHAT DO YOU CUT?, Page 4
nication studies at UNC, agreed. “Clinton
did a better job of answering the ques
tions and came across a little better on his
Doxtader said Clinton was more com
fortable in the debating environment.
“Dole has trouble speaking in an im
promptu fashion. At times he sounded
like George Bush there were points at
which he wound himself in a circle.”
However, Jason Evans, UNC campus
coordinator of the Dole-Kemp campaign
and chairman of Students for Dole-Kemp,
said Dole definitely won the debate.
“Both candidates articulated their po
sitions clearly but Dole’s vision is better
for America’s future," he said.
Evans also emphasized that the Dole
candidacy was especially important for
younger voters. He noted that Dole sup
ports student loans, school choice and
“If you’re a low- or middle-income
American, you can’t afford to send your
children to private school as Clinton can, ”
he said. “Avery important part of the
debate and Dole’s vision of America is
that Clinton doesn’t support true school
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to quiet SBP
■ The decision will be
announced at Wednesday’s
Student Congress meeting.
Students will have to wait until
Wednesday to find out if Student Con
gress’ decision to limit Student Body
President Aaron Nelson’s ex officio rights
was constitutional, said Wendy Sarratt,
chief justice of Student Supreme Court.
On Friday, Nelson filed a formal com
plaint in Student Supreme Court con
cerning the constitutionality of the pro
cess that limited his ex officio powers.
The court made its decision Sunday
night, but did not want to announce the
results until Wednesday’s Student Con
“The problem is the Constitution is 50
years old, and it should not be changed in
the middle of the night by a simple reso
lution,” Nelson said. “To change the
Constitution, a bill must be sent to com
mittee and approved by two-thirds of
Congress and then approved by student
body vote. They changed the Constitu
Student Congress passed the resolu
tion limiting Nelson’s powers at its Sept.
25 meeting. The Student Constitution
was changedby immediate consideration
of the resolution and passed by a major
ity vote of Student Congress.
The resolution, introduced by Reps.
Jason Jolley, Dist. 16; James Hoffman,
Dist. 15; and Bryan Kennedy, Dist. 4,
limits ex officio members to a single,
two-minute period to speak on any bill or
motion in Student Congress debates and
prevents them from making motions or
objections from the floor. However, ex
officio members still retain full powers of
debate and discussion in committees.
One problem that sparked the limita
tion was the length of Student Congress
meetings, Speaker of Student Congress
James Kilboume said. The desired result
was to shorten the length of the meetings
by limiting the rights of ex officio Student
Congress members. Another problem
was the lack of a definite meaning to ex
officio, he said. “The whole point is what
does ex officio mean.”
Student Congress does agree on what
the student body president’s rights are,
Kilboume said. The president should be
able to speak in Student Congress with
out having to be recognized by a con
gressman. He cannot vote, but he is able
to write and introduce bills without a
congressman’s support. The president can
also speak on any bill, Kilboume said.
But that leaves a questionable area in
Student Congress’ code as to how long
the student body president can speak on
a bill and the extent to which he can make
motions during Student Congress meet
ings, Kilboume said.
“Although we may disagree on what
powers the Constitution grants the presi
dent, I think we all realize that the code
creates a gray area.”
choice and Dole does.”
David Wade, national president of the
College Democrats of America, dis
agreed. “Bob Dole doesn’t understand
“He said, ‘I like young people,’ but if
the way he likes us is by voting against the
first ever federal student loan program in
1965, which he did, voting against the
Student Loan Reform Act 0f1993, which
he did, and voting in Gingrich’s Con
gress to gut AmeriCorps National Ser
vice and eliminate federal spending, I’d
be afraid to see what he’d be like if he
didn’t like young people.”
But Courtney Davis, a junior commu
nications major from Wake Forest, said,
“Even with the years he has over Clinton,
Dole is much more attuned to issues for
Aside from education, taxes were a
large focus of the debate as well.
Dole noted that in 1993 Clinton ad
mitted he “had raised taxes too much."
Clinton in turn recalled that 10 years ago,
Kemp, Dole's running mate, said Dole
See DEBATE, Page 2