Some of the blogbloggers attended an open house on missing middle housing in Chapel Hill last night. We’ve written a lot about why having diverse housing will help young families, senior citizens, and multi-generational households.

Today, we want to talk about something else: How residents at the meeting — and other meetings we’ve attended — yell at town staff, ask them how long they’ve lived here, and dismiss their professional expertise.

It’s really gross.

Last night, one of the town planners was told that if he didn’t own a home in Chapel Hill then he had no right to be talking about any of this. That’s akin to telling an oncologist that if she never had cancer she had no right to provide treatment recommendations.

Another town staffer was told she couldn’t be impartial if she took a town paycheck. As if anyone would be willing to stand there and get yelled at for free. (Yes, there was yelling involved.)

It wasn’t just town planners bearing the brunt. A supporter of the housing choices proposal was patiently trying to explain why she supported the proposal, and in response was attacked by a member of the public unhappy with her — free! — answers.

We see this in emails to the town: pure vitriol, aimed at hard-working, underpaid civil servants who make our towns work.

We see it in public comments at meetings. We see it on social media. We have seen it during the virtual neighborhood meetings held over Zoom.

And frankly, town staff should not have to put up with being publicly harassed as part of their jobs. It’s humiliating and stressful, and it would make many of us want to leave our jobs.

We are impressed by their fortitude in putting up with all the nonsense and we hope the town’s medical plan includes comprehensive therapy coverage. And we really do hope people can chill out just a bit and not act quite so childlike.

This piece was written by Melody Kramer and Geoff Green.

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